I blame Crunchyroll for this one.
I usually use that streaming service to watch the latest anime—especially so I can review some for Anime News Network and have relevant contributions to the conversation about others. But every now and then, they casually drop an extremely old show.
I’ve been an anime fan for 20 years, but that doesn’t mean I’ve seen everything. (I didn’t even watch Akira until 2015, though any time is a good time to watch the classics!) So there’ve been times Crunchyroll has dropped an old show that has upended my entire fandom life.
This time it’s Yu Yu Hakusho. A lot of people like this show, I’m finding, but their affection for it is tinged with nostalgia, while for me it is brand new. The fandom is basically dormant. While people appear to remember the show fondly, there’s no reason for most people to draw art or write fic or cosplay or make memes or anything.
Even the least popular Winter 2018 anime will be sure to gather a following as long as new episodes are coming out. But wait 20 years, and even the best-loved shows lose their momentum.
I think my experience will become increasingly common. Thanks to anime streaming services, anyone can discover any show at any time. We used to talk about “gateway shows” and anime fandom that comes in “waves.” But now, there is no one entry point to fandom, and no limit on which show somebody might watch at any time, whether it be an old one or a new one.
So what do you do when you are the Yu Yu Hakusho fandom, population one?
Personally, I’ve found a lot of comfort in writing a fanfic. I’m interested in the show’s contradictions: a world that can be at times hellish or full of hope, with paradoxical characters to match. Since the show is about supernatural detective work, I’m writing a mystery.
I haven’t written fanfiction for four years, but that’s mostly because I don’t have to. Usually, I can just read other peoples’ takes on the story and feel like I’m part of the discussion. But since there isn’t much going on right now, I have to make my own fandom.
I write fanfiction under a fake name and my account is tied to nothing that would lead you back to me, so it’s kind of cool to write for readers who have zero expectations. It’s not as lonely as you would think, either. I was astounded when the first comment came in, followed by a second.
This fandom may be dormant, but by putting something out there, I managed to inspire a person or two to speak up. Even one person, caring and contributing, can help bring a fandom back to life.