On the first week of September 2019, youtuber ConnorEatsPants posted a video showcasing his highlights during his reaction to the September 4th Nintendo Direct. Throughout the video, he constantly jabs at anime style video games announced in the direct as “weeb sh*t,” which has upset a couple of people from twitter.
Connor responded to the backlash by saying that it was just a joke.
This form of behavior towards a certain art style isn’t unique. The continued outrage over “generic anime swordsmen” being added into Super Smash Bros., the revived bashing towards Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE being “moe idol trash,” plus the western backlash towards Lucky Chloe in Tekken 7 from a few years back, and the general hate towards moe girls in video games had me look back on one of my biggest questions and one of my oldest Disqus articles: Is anime killing video games? Three years have passed since I’ve written that article, but now it’s time for a second opinion on the topic after delving more deeply into it.
The general consensus is that the hate towards “generic anime swordsmen” in Smash Bros. is pinned towards the overrepresentation of Fire Emblem and how all 7 of its characters use swords as their main weapons rather than other weapons from the series such as axes, lances, and bows. I do, however, have a theory on how the medieval motif on most of the swordfighters in the roster may also have a play in this because of the recent dominance of Isekai anime. Isekai is a genre regarding a main character being transported into a different world, usually a medieval setting. The vast majority of them originated as light novels, but when Sword Art Online, an Isekai light novel from 2002, received an anime adaptation in July 2012 and became a sensational hit, the rest of them followed. Now anime seasons in recent years have been bloated by Isekai shows, and it’s gotten fans into a burnout of the genre because of how stale and repetitive the stories and settings are, unless they subvert their expectations like KonoSuba. And this where I feel this correlates to the “generic anime swordsmen” complaints because the swordfighters in both Smash Bros. and JRPGs in general look like your typical Isekai protagonist (a young non-muscular/skinny pretty boy).
Idol culture has existed since second half of the 20th century, and it has gained a resurgence in the 2010s. So naturally, elements of it would be incorporated in Japanese video games as either character backstory (Ex: Ribbon Girl from ARMS) or the main premise (Ex: the entire Idolm@ster series). That is while ignoring the dark aspects surrounding Idol culture behind the scenes such as overworking the girls and preventing them from dating anyone. That’s usually the main reason westerners have a problem with idols, but sometimes it’s due how dominant they are in the anime industry to a point where its popularity is overshadowing shonen anime, or manime as I like to call them, a genre they grew up with during the anime boom in the 1990’s involving manly men, femme fatales, and shotas/little boys doing manly things. Listen well, gentlemen, if idols were in a shonen anime, they would be just as powerful as your average muscular male protagonist, as shown in the video above, because they worked just as hard as them just for their big show events and deserve your respect. This is also why I’m hoping for an Idolm@ster character like Haruka Anami as one of our DLC fighters for Smash. She would certainly be among the god tier characters (canonically speaking, not the competitive meta).
Moe, according to several definitions, is a Japanese slang term to describe one’s feeling or attraction to a certain character (be it anime, manga, or video games). It derives from Moekko, meaning “adorable” or “cute” characters. It has gotten a bad reputation for the same reasons as Idol culture, oversaturation on both the anime industry and gaming culture. For the former, the increasing popularity of moe anime started somewhere in the late 2000’s when Kyoto Animations (KyoAni) was releasing major hits like the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Lucky Star, and K-On. Since then, other anime studios wanted a piece of that pie by making their own moe slice of life anime. And for the latter, moe has always been present since the arcade days. They were either drawn more masculine (See “American Kirby is Hardcore”) or dolled-up in the localized versions (Ex: the entire Panel de Pon series) because video game culture in the west is largely dominated by males like other western mediums. The toxic hate towards anything cute by western male gamers boils down to how they were raised by our societal norms + peer pressure, and you wonder why we don’t have that many female gamers and how they’re starting to speak out from this imbalance thanks to social media.
In conclusion, is anime killing video games? I say no. Connecting the hate towards anime swordsmen to the hate towards Isekai anime may be just a coincidence and may really be Fire Emblem’s fault, but the hate towards idols and moe in video games is merely just male gamers who are paranoid of their own masculinity. They want more Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, My Hero Academia, One Punch Man, and Goblin Slayer in their anime and less Love Live, Rising of the Shield Hero, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Kaguya-sama: Love is War, Zombie Land Saga, and Okasaan Online. They want more F-Zero, Contra, Bayonetta, Street Fighter, Tekken, and Metal Slug in their games and less Idolm@ster, Granblue Fantasy, Kantai Collection, Senran Kagura, Hyperdimension Neptunia, and Touhou. And this, my fellow readers, is what we call toxic masculinity and is one of the many reasons why gaming culture isn’t being taken seriously by the mainstream. Unless we let go of our hate towards anime styles, then we’ll never improve as a community.