Let’s Talk About: The term “casual”

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, over 6 months ago in fact, but there’s something that’s been on my mind recently that I feel like ranting about for no particular reason other than that I keep seeing it literally everywhere and it’s making my Elitism PTSD kick in to overdrive.

Totally real and accurate image of past Leth wearing the Elitist crown

So let’s talk about the term “casual”. More specifically, how it is being frequently used as a verbal weapon by elitists to degrade and belittle people in the Anime fandom, and how the term is constantly being used incorrectly by the majority of those who arm themselves with it.

A “casual fan” is defined as someone who, while a fan of a particular series or medium, isn’t all that engaged in it as the more “hardcore” fans. They engage with it every once in a while, or are relatively new to it, but they aren’t “into it” hardcore. Since we’re talking about Anime specifically, a “casual” Anime fan would be someone who watches the occasional Anime, but hasn’t seen a lot of shows, doesn’t buy the shows they watch, doesn’t buy the related merchandise, doesn’t go to conventions or events, doesn’t have any interest in the industry itself or people behind the medium… The list goes on and on.

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Probably higher than this stack of papers!

To put it into simpler terms: They’re someone who, while a fan of Anime, isn’t “defined” by their love of it, and who doesn’t particularly identify themselves with the medium or its culture. It doesn’t take up a considerable chunk of their day to day activities and they can live without it in their lives.

Yet, whenever I see the term “casual” being thrown around, it’s often being used to ridicule a person’s taste or preferences.

“Naruto is your favourite Anime? You must be a casual!”

“Only a casual likes what’s popular!”

“This show is for the most tasteless of casuals!”

I know… It depresses me too…

These phrases are not only completely ignorant and idiotic beyond belief, but they’re also using the term “casual” incorrectly, and that bothers me. A lot.

The common belief these days seems to be that a “casual fan” of Anime is someone who enjoys what is popular, someone who’s favourite show is one that many people agree is one of the “best” or someone who isn’t “critical” of the things they watch.

I find this to be extremely baffling.

So you mean to tell me that if someone has watched over 500 different Anime series, frequently attends conventions, has a truckload of Anime DVD’s and Blu-Rays in their possession and regularly writes about Anime on their Anime-centric blog, but their favourite Anime happens to be Bleach and they don’t analyse and nitpick every single show that they watch, then they’re a “casual” Anime fan?

I don’t understand how that even remotely makes sense. It doesn’t make sense.

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Explain. Your. Logic!

And then, how does one define a “hardcore” Anime fan in this case? Is it someone who only watches shows that are unpopular or not considered highly rated by the consensus? It it someone who decides to look at every single show with an overly critical mindset to the point that they can’t simply enjoy something? Does it matter how much Anime they’ve seen? How long they’ve been engaged with the medium? How much media they purchase?

Oh. Wait. I actually know the answer, because I know precisely where this idea of the “casual” Anime fan being correlated to the taste and critical thinking of an individual stems from.

It all stems from elitism. I know this because I used to be one of these people. I would frequently belittle others for having opinions I didn’t agree with by calling them a “casual” and poking fun at their tastes, a fact that still embarrasses me to this day.

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In the eyes of elitists, a “hardcore” Anime fan looks for the tiniest flaws in everything and only “enjoys” shows that have a “deep and thematic message” with “complex characters”. Shows like Shinsekai Yori and Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Shows that are “objectively good” and no one can ever dislike due to them not aligning with their own personal preferences. Because personal preferences are totally not a thing and have no weight in deciding whether or not someone finds a show good, right?

Wait, no. That’s wrong. They have everything to do with deciding if a person enjoys something or finds it good.

Whether or not someone is a “casual fan” of Anime, has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s taste or critical mindset. One’s taste and opinions have no bearing on whether or not someone is a “casual”.

If that were the case, I’d most definitely be considered a “casual fan” of Anime. Despite having a lot of opinions that many would consider to be “controversial” or “contrarian”, a lot of my favourites are shows and movies that are incredibly popular, highly regarded by the majority of Anime fans and fall into popular genres and demographics like Shounen, Ecchi and Isekai. And I’m also not the most critical of viewers out there and I consider “enjoyment” to be the most important thing when watching what is and should be, first and foremost, a form of entertainment.

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Who would have thought?

Here’s some facts about my tastes:

My all-time favourite Anime is Hunter x Hunter (2011). All of it. Not just the one “subversive” story arc that people claim is “the only good one”.

I think My Hero Academia, a modern day Shounen Jump adaptation, is a modern masterpiece of Anime.

I think Sword Art Online, one of the most mainstream Anime titles in the West, is a good show, and have defended most of the criticisms directed towards it in a previous post.

I have a genuine love for just about everything that Shounen Jump puts out, despite being a man in my mid 20’s.

I watch Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, the sequel series to Naruto, on a weekly basis with my fiance. And enjoy it. Unironically.

I found Legend of the Galactic Heroes, a show considered by many elitists as the greatest Anime of all time, to be simply “good” and thought World Trigger, a Shounen Jump adaptation about superpowered teenagers, was a better show with better characters.

Yet despite all of those “casual” opinions:

I’ve been a passionate fan of this medium for over a decade.

I dedicate as much of my free time to watching Anime as I can.

I have at least five entire shelves of Anime DVD’s.

I frequently write about Anime on this blog, many times a week.

I’ve purchased far more Anime merchandise than I’d like to admit, which likely adds up to tens of thousands of pounds.

According to MyAnimeList, I’ve completed 495 Anime series, and have watched approximately 179 days worth of Anime. And that’s just the shows I’ve remembered/been bothered to add to my profile in the year that I’ve had the account. I reckon there’s roughly around 200 missing from that list.

But hey, I guess none of that matters because I like Naruto, right?

My point is, use the term “casual” correctly. It has nothing to do with someone’s tastes and preferences, and liking “deep” shows that aren’t considered “mainstream” while being overly critical does not make you a “better” or more “hardcore” Anime fan.

It’s all about your dedication to the medium or series you are a fan of and how it relates to your own personal identity.

Stay woke.

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Don’t stay sleep
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12 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About: The term “casual”

  1. I can’t express how much this post means to me. I’ve been watching anime for years and I love it. I have the shelves of DVDs and blu-rays, merch when I can afford some, and I thoroughly enjoy some serials that are considered to be mainstream. But it seems lately my opinions on anime are laughed at because, as you mentioned, when I talk about a series I liked/disliked my biggest factor is enjoyment. Yeah, I like and appreciate deep shows with complex characters, but I also love simple adventure and straightforward romance. When I review anime (when I have time) I talk about elements that I personally look for in a series/film to determine how much I enjoyed them. They’re definitely subjective for the most part. But because of this I get labelled as “casual” or “ignorant.” It makes me so frustrated, more so because I know actual casual watchers, like my fiancé, who I can have marvellous chats with about anime. You literally touched on all of the things that I’ve been struggling with and it’s all so well-articulated. Thank you so much. It’s great to have someone who can call out the bullshit and admit where things shouldn’t be the way they are. I’m sorry, I rambled on. But thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This sort of thing is by no means confined to anime, regrettably. It happens a lot in video games too, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. (In fact, thinking about it, there are actually several different “hardcore/casual” divides in gaming based on a number of different factors, and none of them are particularly helpful.)

    You’re absolutely right that it stems from elitism, though, and it’s always kind of infuriating. There are few things I find more frustrating than expressing my enthusiasm about something and someone replying with, effectively, “yeah, but it’s crap” or similar. Particularly if Captain Naysayer doesn’t bother to actually justify their opinions and is just doing it to… well, I don’t know really. Feel superior? Perhaps.

    There are plenty of things out there I don’t care for, but I’m often fascinated to hear about them from people who do enjoy them. I get much more value from that than listening to someone rant on about how [popular thing] is the worst thing ever.

    (I like Sword Art Online, too. Fight me, hardcores.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Funnily enough, I was going to mention video games in this post as well, but couldn’t find a suitable place for it.

      Video games and the whole “casual/hardcore” thing is a whole other realm of this nonsense, being that it includes both taste AND how “good” you are at games (which is also a lot of rubbish in my opinion). Perhaps a “part 2” of this post about video games is due at some point? We’ll see!

      The “yeah but it’s crap” or “your taste is bad” arguments are just terrible. Especially when 90% of the time they don’t explain WHY, they just state things and expect you to suddenly change your mind. It’s horrible, and completely ignores the fact of subjectivity in ones opinions. It’s all a superiority game and it bothers me so much sometimes.

      I’m always interested in hearing others opinions, especially if its one that’s the opposite from my own. It’s what makes discussion and interacting with other fans interesting. If we all had the same opinions, there would be NO discussion at all, and that’s… Boring… Really boring.

      I’m glad that you too like SAO. We can fight the haters together!

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The difference between the supposed casual viewer and the etlitist viewer has always confused me. The stereotypical casual will have SAO as their favorite anime and the stereotypical etlitist will have something like LoTGH or Tatami Galaxy as their favorite anime. Both however are made fun of. The casual for having shit taste and the etlitist for being pretentious. It’s something I really struggle with when trying to present my taste. Seeing as all of us will have anime we love on both the etlitist and casual spectrum, criticism seems unavoidable. We are also shaped by the opinions of others, I watched SAO 2 years ago and I’m still conflicted whether it’s a good show (because I enjoyed it at the time) or whether it’s bad, cause many people say so and because it was one of my first anime, my taste had not yet been ‘refined’. It’s quite annoying but I think it’s impossible to perfectly gauge your taste, it’d be nice if we could just share our thoughts in an environment where, seeing as taste is subjective, our opinions would always be treated with respect. Fortunately there are definitely places on the internet where this is the case, but others are not so forgiving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Taste being an entirely subjective thing always makes things very difficult, but I’d like to think I’m right in the middle.

      My taste is often critcised for being both “too basic and normie” (Naruto, Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online), “pretentious” (Hunter x Hunter, Evangelion, Scum’s Wish) and “weird and contrarian” (Netsuzou TRap, World Trigger, ELDLIVE). It’s tough out there!

      I’d always say that if you “enjoy” something, that’s more than enough justification as to whether or not it’s a “good” show to you personally, but in todays critical landscape, that argument often doesn’t hold much weight.

      Unfortunately, the Anime community is rife with elitism, making it difficult to find respect in many cases. But we do what we can I guess!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for your lengthy comment. It’s always nice to see some discussion in the comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The one thing people seem to excell at in general is putting labels on things. What makes a casual viewer, what makes someone a true fan? It’s all relative to me. And honestly why is that important in the first place? If someone loves a particular series, I think that’s great. I love to discuss it even if I myself might not even like it. But why immediately put a label on it. It really makes no sense to me whatsoever. Great post, truly a terrific read 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. I’m very against labelling others myself, because like you said, it’s not important.

      We’re all fans of Anime, and we should all be simply referred to as such.

      I’m glad you found the post to be a good read. As always, thank you for commenting and for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. yeah, i can’t really be surprised when ppl try to act superior, so i only hope i don’t do it myself. i know for sure that “casual” is something ive never used for anything other than sarcasm. mostly because i acknowledge that i have literally no reason to pretend like i have expertise in the anime realm.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “My favorite anime is hunter x hunter. ALL OF IT. Not just the “subversive” arc.”
    THIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏
    Also like I always say I agree with literally everything you said here XD

    Liked by 1 person

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