Cobra Commander: A Hot-Take on Anime Discourse

Hey everyone, guess what? ANIME’S FOR PEOPLE UNDER 15!

This never gets old! (Courtesy of RobboLeeWatchesThee.)

Now that I have your attention, allow me to discuss something that’ll probably be old by the time this goes live on Infinite Rainy Day:

This is Andrew “Cobra King” Tate, an MMA fighter and former member of Big Brother. He’s become the target of controversy for his…let’s say “unorthodox” opinions on Twitter. Whether it’s his stance on depression, his blatant transphobia, or any of his other Tweets, you can expect Andrew Tate to say something that’s impossible to ignore. I should know, I’ve Blocked him.

Lately, Mr. Tate’s been subject to another controversial opinion, this one gaining the ire of Otakudom. On September 26th, everyone’s favourite hot-taker had this to say:

“If you are over 15 and like cartoons you are a loser. Anime dragon ball Z etc. No excuse. Plus ANY woman loses respect for you. Grow up.”
There’s a lot to unpack, but I want to point out how bizarre it is that Otakudom has only now realized how awful this man is. Why wasn’t the anime community writing hate mail when he ranted about how depression isn’t real? Or when he mocked gender dysphoria by forcefully demanding that everyone call him a woman? Why anime?

I guess mental illness and queerness are too real for some people. But I should probably jump on the bandwagon and deconstruct Tate’s claim anyway. It’s clearly an opinion, and not his most-political claim to-date either, but it’s still unfounded. It also doesn’t help that, if you’ll recall, his Tweet started a storm not unlike that of Devin Faraci. And, as you’re all aware, I went full-out on him too.

Anyway, anime’s a vast medium with range. Unfortunately, we think of it in the West as being childish, due in-part to the history of animation here, and the material chosen for TV doesn’t help. I remember watching shows like Digimon and Pokémon as a kid, as well as bits-and-pieces of Monster Rancher and Dragon Ball Z. I also remember catching glimpses of Sailor Moon whenever I went to my next-door neighbour’s house, as both of their kids were girls. I think my biggest shame was merging these shows in my head to keep me occupied, but that’s a whole other subject…

I mention this because, yes, I can see where Tate might be coming from. Anime has lots of kiddie content, and if your only exposure is daytime television, then I can see why that might colour your outlook. Because the aforementioned shows, going by their original syndication, were pretty childish. And that's worth acknowledging if I’m to rebut this claim.

This issue here is phrasing. If he said “I think anime is for children”, I wouldn’t be writing this. I’d simply think, “I don’t agree with you, but okay!” and move on. However, because he framed this as a fact, I have to play referee. Because he made this personal, and I take issue with that.

I don’t think anime’s only for children. I’d be horrified if a child saw Attack on Titan, due to how violent it is. A show like High School of the Dead would make me question your parenting if you showed it to your kid, largely due to its unashamed T&A. Even outside of that, there’s lots of material that's inappropriate for the young’uns for a variety of reasons. Anime has range, and ignoring that is ignorance.

Even on the end of kid-friendly, there’s material that’s appropriate for all ages. Princess Tutu looks like your typical ballet show filled with silliness, but in reality it’s quite mature and disturbing. The show deals with ideas of destiny and agency, as well as abuse, neglect and whether or not we really are in control of our lives. And all of this to some of the best use of Classical music I’ve ever seen. How many kids would understand this show, let-alone appreciate it for what it is?

Why stop there? Digimon might be a kid-friendly adventure-fantasy series, but re-watch it as an adult. Some of the subject matter, especially in its third season, is quite dark and uncomfortable. The show tackles adoption, sibling inferiority, divorce, neglectful parenting, death, murder and yes, even child abuse. This, I’d argue, was one of its biggest strengths, but it’s also material that children wouldn’t fully understand. So yeah, two examples off the top of my head, and I’m no expert!

Putting aside the part about children, anime can be as complex as anything live-action. Cowboy Bebop has a reputation as one of the greatest shows ever, and it’s far from kid-friendly. It deals with love, betrayal and self-worth, and that’s only the opening montage! That it has episodes dedicated to revenge and lost-love is indication that there’s more than meets the eye, but I suppose that doesn’t matter if anime’s meant for people under 15.

Ignoring the nuances and intricacies of an entire medium of work really undermines Tate’s claim. Not only is he not an expert on anime, but he belittles those who know it well. Like Roger Ebert, who was openly moved to tears by Grave of the Fireflies. Or the Wachowski sisters, who are such big fans of anime that they’ve dedicated their careers to mimicking its tropes. If you think that anime is juvenile, Mr. Tate, then shouldn’t you consider these individuals juvenile too?

Oh, and that claim about women? I know plenty of women who respect and appreciate anime, some personally. I’m even tempted to pull out the “masculinity so fragile” card, but you’ve probably gotten it enough as is. (It fits you well, however…)

Overall, this is a poor’s man argument that got blown out of proportion, and all because he didn’t realize what he was implying. (Or perhaps he did?) That said, I won’t grow up until you do, Mr. Tate. And as for everyone else? If you choose to challenge him, remember that instinctively-emotional responses won’t work. Because Andrew Tate doesn’t care, and he most-likely won’t care until Twitter bans him for his disgusting rhetoric about depression and gender dysphoria.


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