Tumblr is no stranger to ironically inventing a fandom, complete with ‘shipping, art, music videos, role-playing blogs, fanfiction and unique vocabulary in a very short amount of time based on a very small, shall we say, canon. Take, for example, the ‘ship Creamsicle, a peaceful outpouring of effort in reaction to a Tumblr flamewar.
This time, though, it’s Swimming Anime, a fandom based on one thirty second promo for an animation company that is not even a real show. In any way. And it might just be me, but it seems to be less of a tongue in cheek response than usual.
So lets get to the “canon” of Swimming Anime. It consists entirely of one quick short by Kyoto Animation that was never intended to be a full series. The Daily Dot describes it about as well as I could:
Kyoto Animation, or KyoAni for short, is an anime studio known for its gorgeous animation style and soft-featured female characters, designed to appeal to straight male viewers. KyoAni often does short animated commercials, not promoting any particular anime series, but the studio itself.
It was only a matter of time before KyoAni magnanimously decided to do a commercial featuring gorgeous guys instead, if only to give the world a taste of what it’d be like if they pandered to yaoi fangirls—that is, fans of manga showcasing boy-on-boy action.
But they probably didn’t anticipate the result of unleashing a 30-second spot featuring a team of virile young swimmers upon Tumblr.
Here’s the short, created so that Kyoto Animation could show off its familiarity both with the cinematic language of anime and the sorts of character designs that would draw viewers to a show.
And Kyoto Animation does a good job: without any context, this clip could easily be mistaken for a promo for an actual anime. The characters have clear distinctions, obviously visually, but the brief hints we get at their “personalities” are also internally consistent and together make for a familiar mix of stereotypes. It’s not at all a surprise to me that once a few folks started hypothesizing about what roles they would play in a hypothetical series that others would find it entertaining to join in. And from there, it’s not a particularly big stretch for there to be “fans” calling for Kyoto Animation to actually make a series based on these four characters. For more links to stuff produced by the fledgling Swimming Anime fandom, see The Daily Dot, and remember that the above clip was posted online only two days ago.
As always in these situations, a voice in my head goes “And big studios are think there’s no money in appealing to the female gaze.” And then another voice in my head goes “Notes on Tumblr are not the same thing as spending money on DVDs. We either need to wait for the folks who run studios to be of an internet generation, or we need to come up with a metric of measuring fan enthusiasm that actually means something to folks who aren’t from an internet generation.” And then I sigh and hit refresh again.
(via The Daily Dot.)