The Naruto Cult
I have to be perfectly honest when I say: I love anime. More specifically, I really enjoy Naruto. The anime premiered in Japan in October of 2002, and became an instant hit once it was shown (or downloaded) in America. It's fun story line and likable characters are enough to keep any die hard anime fan interested. The point of this article however, is not to discuss the show itself, but to rant (for lack of a better word) about some of the fans that make the series somewhat of a laughing stock. These deemed "narutards" seem to define the persona of obnoxious convention goers.
Last year, I was at Otacon, a large-scale anime extravaganza held in Baltimore, Mayland. Picture a nice harbor with the occassional homeless person sleeping on a bench. During the convension however, the streets teemed with people all shapes and sizes dressed up as their favorite anime character, while the local Marylindians looked dazed and confused. I find myself admiring all of the elaborate and intricately designed outfits as I walked with others to the convention center where the fun would truly begin.
After opening the doors to the center, and showing the suspicious security guard my convention badge, I enter a huge common ground filled with laughter and whatever interesting antics you could imagine. As my party and I navigated through all of the Rikkus, Ichigos, and Dantes, our attention, along with other fellow congoers, was drawn to a quite loud and boisterous crowd approaching in the opposite direction. A yell is heard from an unknown source: "O NOES NARUTARDS!!".
I and many others quickly shuffle our feet to create a path for the mob with flailing ninja stars and jutsus. As they are passing, the noise volume seems to exceed 100 Decibels, and the insanity level of the convention center is amplified. I glance at the many "fuzzy brows" and Gai sensei's that have their green leotards on a little too tight and the many Sasuke's that seem to be female. As the group finally passes, there are left over ninja stars, food bits, and wrappers of god knows what strewn all over the floor.
As life returns to "normal" at the con, I start to wonder if ALL the people who watch Naruto are this crazy. And then it hits me: I am a Naruto fan just like them, but would be embarrassed to even call myself one. Why? It seems to me that anime conventions, just like any other society, has its own set of prejudices and stereotypes.
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