I never planned to be a fan of Japanese music or a Japanese group but like many things in life, it happens. It’s been 13 years since, longer than any jobs I’ve held or relationships I’ve had. In that span, I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve experienced trying to “bait” people into the fandom, seen the excitement in their eyes, tried to answer their eager questions, helped them navigate through the tricky twists and turns of fandom, empathized with their frustration over certain things (like being unable to access videos easily) and seen them eventually lose interest. Thinking about it, it’s actually a miracle to still be here despite the challenges and difficulties, but the joys of being a Jpop fan, or an Arashi fan in particular, far outweighs the pains. But to stay engaged, interested and excited, there are some do’s and don’ts. Here are some of them.
DO SEARCH. Everything starts with a click on the keyboard. You can’t expect information to be served to you on a silver platter. Google is your friend.
DO FIND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE. It’s not that hard to do. Internet will lead you to them. Twitter was just starting in 2006 and I have known a quarter of those on my TL since that time. It’s more fun to share thoughts and spazz with others. But of course, it’s also a matter of preference; there are some who prefer to fangirl alone because it’s less the drama. But there will be instances when fangirling becomes a shared experience like watching concerts. It’s more fun to sing and spazz with friends, though never discount the possibility of being friends with the stranger you sat next to at a concert (it happened to me).
DO JOIN COMMUNITIES. Before the Russian takeover, many of the Arashi communities were in LiveJournal (a lot are still there). These communities really helped a lot when I was just a new fan. That time, it was relatively easier to join them (no tough requirements akin to applying for college but hey, I don’t blame them!). It was also more intimate unlike now when I doubt that admins still know every member of the comm so it was easier to police. I am not updated with community membership but I recommend joining them because they are a great source for raw and subbed videos, srt files, and translations. Being a part of a community is priceless because they are practically your gateway to the fandom. But of course, there are rules to follow and follow them you must.
DO LEARN THE LANGUAGE. But it is not an absolute necessity. I studied Nihongo about five years ago but had to eventually give up because of my work schedule. It doesn’t make anyone less of a fan if they don’t learn the language and there are many reasons why others can’t or don’t. But of course it’s easier when you can understand because it cuts the waiting time for translations to come out.
DO THANK TRANSLATORS, SUBBERS, COMMS. They translate, sub and share content FOR FREE. For those who share concert videos or singles/albums, THEY BOUGHT THEM with their hard-earned money. The least we can do is thank them for their generosity and time, and not behave like self-entitled royalty when subs are delayed or you can’t figure out the password to unlock a file. And while you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do this, you do have to honor the tradition and recognize that setting up this wall is necessary to discourage fickle-minded people who have the most potential to break the rules.
DO CREDIT. As stated above, translation work is free and it’s generous for people to share it publicly when they don’t have to. Recently, there have been cases where translations, usually from Twitter, would be lifted and posted on another platform, like Facebook, but without properly crediting the source. This is tantamount to stealing someone’s hard work and faking it as yours. I personally am indebted to translators whose work help me understand the nuance of an interview or statement made, that’s why I also make it a point not just to credit but to link back to the source. It’s also a form of verification and attribution. [updated: 050818]
DO FOLLOW THE RULES. They’re simple and pretty straightforward. For translations, see above. For links and videos, no sharing or uploading online. I’ve seen many fret over this and how it’s so difficult to find Jpop videos or music on the Internet. You know why they are difficult to find? Here’s an example why.
DON’T SHARE LINKS/PASSWORDS IN PUBLIC. This is part of the rules. These rules are there for the reason as cited above. Japan’s copyright law is tough and applies to TV, film, music, manga content. The fine is up to 10 million yen ($90,000) or up to 10 years in prison.
DO BUY ALBUMS/SINGLES/DVDS/BDS. They are not for free. Neither are the talent, time and effort that went into producing them for free. The only way to sustain your artists’ careers is to support their work, not by illegally downloading them, but by actually spending money to buy them. This much is true for Jpop: This is not a place for freeloaders or rule-breakers.
DO ENGAGE. I like engaging on Twitter. But I do have an issue with the QT/QRT. It sends me mixed signals especially when I am not even familiar with the person doing it. I’m confused whether the person is talking to me, and am I supposed to respond, or simply trying to be a smart aleck? I have had a few unpleasant experience with QT/QRT so I prefer a direct reply because it is less confusing and, well, more direct. But that aside, it’s still fun to interact with fellow fans because there may be interesting things you’d find out or that despite a noisy and huge social media marketplace like Twitter, it’s possible to have meaningful engagements.
DO ENJOY YOURSELF. But if it becomes toxic and stops being fun, then perhaps it’s time to move on to other things.
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