We ACG lovers are definitely not ‘monsters’ as some say

By Huang Lanlan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/4 19:13:39

Illustrations: Chen Xia/GT

Last week, a young Chinese woman posted online her text-message conversation with a man she met on a blind date, which incurred lots of gripes among ACG (animation, comic and game) fans around China.

"I find that most of your WeChat Moment posts are about ACG," the man texted her, adding that he thought the woman was not even a "normal" person. "ACG lovers are all monsters - childish, shallow and irrational; I'm afraid that you will have to get rid of it if we decide to go together."

The woman, an ACG fan, replied politely despite feeling insulted. "Thanks for your advice," she wrote. "But maybe we should have some further contact first to know more about each other."

It is understandable that this man has some misunderstandings about ACG enthusiasts, which is probably because he just doesn't know much about the industry and its fan base. Common ACG stereotypes are that we are immature, unsociable and self-centered.

There are indeed many extreme ACG fans, otherwise known as otaku (a Japanese term to describe adults who spend all their free time indoors, alone and on their computers). But they make up only a small minority of the group.

Personally speaking, every ACG fan I know is quite normal people with good careers and healthy social lives. I myself work as a journalist and often talk with people from all walks of life. Even though ACG is one of my hobbies, it's obvious to say I'm quite normal and social.

Nowadays, there are so many ways for people to release their stress, and ACG is among these choices. Yes, staying in a dark room all day watching a Japanese cartoon is a little different than going hiking or exercising or out drinking and dancing, but so long as it makes me feel happy and less tense, what does it matter?

If ACG can help someone improve their mood and develop a more positive attitude toward life, then why is it subject to so much criticism? And are ACG enthusiasts really more prone to getting lost in a virtual world? Do we truly become more unrelatable with real people and the real world the more we immerse ourselves in our "two-dimensional heaven?"

Mirroring this concern is the latest popular mobile dating game Love and Producer, in which female players can date several virtual "boyfriends." I myself am among the addicted, and I "appreciate all the heartbeats and happiness it has brought me," as I wrote in a recent Global Times Metro Shanghai article.

However, my virtual romance seems to have upset some of my elder co-workers. "… one day, when she does finally start dating someone, she will compare that person to the characters in her game," a 40-something colleague criticized me in her latest opinion piece. "Nothing but disappointment awaits; her relationship will end badly and she will go back to the comforting virtual reality on her phone - what a vicious circle!"

Superficially plausible, her words have neither any logic nor does it reflect my true situation. I do enjoy my virtual dates, but it does no harm to my real-life romantic relationship. On the contrary, I benefit from this game by learning how to get along with the opposite sex. And my boyfriend, who also plays the game, doesn't mind sharing me with his "rivals."

All in all, ACG enriches - not destroys - lives. In 2017, when a The King's Avatar-themed café opened in Shanghai (The King's Avatar is a popular domestic anime series), I'd go hang out there after work. Just like many foreign Harry Potter fans who are fond of spending time together at various Hogwarts-themed venues, I like talking about The King's Avatar with other enthusiasts at the café, which is quite enjoyable and relaxing.

Therefore, ACG lovers are definitely not "monsters" living in a cave of unreality. When an ACG fan turns off his laptop and puts down his cellphone, he becomes like any other ordinary person you encounter on the street: a lawyer, a doctor, a firefighter or whoever. Don't judge us just because we watch cartoons and play games.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Posted in: TWOCENTS

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