Eina • 16 • Tokyo
Q. Hello, Mr. Tomino. I was given a smartphone when I entered high school. I don’t use it all that much yet, but after I watch an anime I like, it’s fun to go onto Twitter and read other people’s thoughts. It’s great to find similar opinions or see someone point out something I didn’t notice. I definitely think it’s way more fun to enjoy anime with others than by yourself.
The problem is some people badmouth specific characters. When I see that, it really spoils my mood. I mean, I love all characters. We’re all fans of the same show. Why people feel the need to be so negative is beyond me. Reading through some of the negative tweets, I feel that people think it’s all but normal for complaints about characters to emerge. They believe that if some people are free to fawn over their favorite character, other people are also free to shit on them. It was a real eye-opener that there are people out there that want to criticize a character just because others might like them. To those people, the characters are basically alive, and only being praised can’t be allowed. Still, I don’t like seeing tweets like that. As someone who hardly has any friends to talk to anime about with, it makes me sad to think I might stop watching a show because of how much I hate seeing those tweets.
Mr. Tomino, as a creator, how do you feel when you see fans having wars over characters? I hope you can give me some advice.
A. The reason this kind of question even exists is that there are far too many people with access to unnecessary gadgets like smartphones and Twitter. Not to mention that people that have no need passing judgment on things end up with their nose where it doesn’t belong. The world is filled with all kinds of people, so everyone can’t have the same opinion. Accepting that there are others out there with different views is best, but there is no reason to change your likes to appease them. Because you don’t have to change what you like, there is no reason to make a big fuss when you see differing opinions.
You’re 16 years old. If you feel compelled to respond to something you dislike, try and cool off for two weeks or so. Take that time to think about why there are people out there that would say something like that. By doing that, you’ll slowly but surely improve and develop a method to assess situations. That will connect with your lessons from school and help you a little when it comes to building character.
The same goes for me. On the off chance that I get that desire to react, I ignore it. I’m already up in the years, so instead of two weeks, I hold onto those thoughts for one or two years. After all that time, I can clearly decide whether, for example, I made the character wrong or stand by my initial characterization. From there, I can move forward.
The reason I go through all that is because when I see negative opinions, I feel negative. I won’t be able to work on my next project if I let those negative feelings get to me. That’s why I tune out fan banter, even about characters. Creators, who have their names out there for the whole world to see, tend not to listen to each and every opinion thrown out there. They may act like they don’t have the capacity to listen to it anymore–they’re overflowing with confidence and talent, right?–but you never know just how they’re feeling. It’s just a guess on my part, but I think everyone tries not to listen to those opinions, tries to flee from those negative feelings, and acts mature instead. How else are they going to reach the ranks of a professional?
For me, I read fan letters and postcards. What I don’t read are the thoughts haphazardly thrown onto social media. Those are usually just the tail ends of earlier conversations, which have a completely different quality to them. I’m old. I use an old flip phone. I don’t look at Twitter at all, and I think that has helped me keep healthy and sane.
That’s becoming harder nowadays with all the parents giving their kids smartphones. In another ten years, everything will be completely different. I don’t think we’re heading in a very good direction, either. I’m fine just living life out a little longer, but it seems like it will be a big problem for you.
If you only take away one thing from all this old man’s ramblings, it would be to get off Twitter! Stay away until you’ve joined the workforce! There’s nothing useful to your personal growth that will come from these tools. If you keep changing your tune to match others on Twitter, you’ll lose who you really are. Now is the time to focus on yourself and your studies.