The fandom language barrier: East VS West

The fun thing about the globalization of the furry fandom is that now ideas and artwork can spread worldwide. Thanks to the internet, the idea behind furry artwork has managed to spread worldwide. Twitter is probably the most prominent example of this trend in action. The furry fandom has globalized and spread across language barriers and country borders. The interesting thing is that the good aspects have been lifted and the negative ones left behind when the Asians found the fandom. What do I mean by this? Well let’s compare the two groups.

The Western Fandom

If you’ve been around the furry fandom in the west (and especially the Anglosphere), it’s obvious by now that the furry fandom is a dumpster fire. It’s a fandom where missing stairs are everywhere, where sex offenders and zoophiles are shielded if they contribute to the fandom. In a way it parallels what led to Operation Yewtree. In fact right now there’s a whole movement in the Colorado furry scene to shield a man who was convicted of soliciting a teenage girl online…who is now on lifetime probation prohibiting computer usage.

But aside from the high profile sex cases, the furry fandom has systematic problems. It has image problems, as normal people see the fandom as a fetish community. The furry fandom tries to tell people that it’s not a fetish community to the point of making documentaries. Yet most people aren’t buying this and these documentaries seem like they’re preaching to the choir of other furries. Case in point, the comments on this documentary trailer:

The comments are furries talking about how great it would be to finally not be bullied by the masses. I’m not joking:

But what about the art scene? Well the furry art scene in the west is on a decline. Plenty of artists got talented only to play their cards wrong and put off art to work their entry level jobs instead. They didn’t try branching off into comics or making games, they drew commissions for money and eventually that money dried up or wouldn’t pay rent. Rent ranges from $600 in a bad neighborhood to $1,500 for a nice house a block away from me. Living with parents doesn’t cut it as eventually your parents will want you to move out already. Then there’s also the fact that there’s a creative void in the furry art scene. While there’s some talent, a lot of character design seems to consist of drawing a two legged canine with a human like body or quadruped characters that look a little too much like a real animal. Influence isn’t taken from older TV shows anymore, now Tumblr and CalArts styles are the “in” thing. Some western furry artists will also draw for years and years…yet in the end they won’t improve one bit. Some even regress and that’s the case with PurpleKecleon who went from drawing detailed art to drawing Microsoft Paint scribbles about the trolls.

But even with that said, furry artists in the west are seen as “necessary evils”. Many of them lack a work ethic and overcharge and never deliver. Yet who else are you going to go to for artwork? Many artists who aren’t furries will not draw fetish content in particular and others have a low opinion of furries. So you’re stuck with the kinds of artists who have business models that’d net them a Rob Wolchek segment. Just like the scammers Rob does segments on, furry artists take the money and never show up. I should post some of his segments though because they’re prime “bored as hell” binge watching material for sure.

Twitter itself has also fueled nonstop drama. Furries love fighting on Twitter over the pettiest things and this sadly seeps its way into art when furries police each other over what art is acceptable to draw. This stifles creativity in multiple ways. It discourages artists because they realize they’re not going to go anywhere in the fandom. It also makes them wonder if drawing art is worth it and is a serious dent to their mental stability. To add to this many artists also tend to take criticism way too personally meaning that an attack from a mob they don’t expect hits them harder. This behavior isn’t solely limited to furries on Twitter in the Anglosphere, as a fan ROM translation group disbanded because of the same types of people throwing a tantrum over a translation thanks to an offensive word (which existed in the original game). Just like how the furries whining at artists won’t learn art, the people whining at the fan translators aren’t going to be learning Japanese or 65816 asm any time soon.

Then even before Twitter the western furry fandom had plenty of issues with cults of personality. From terrible chat administrators to con organizers who make the con revolve around their ego, the furry fandom is loaded with this. It’s not about talking animals, it’s about clout. The furry fandom is also loaded with broken individuals using the fandom as a support group instead of as a hobby to have a purpose in life. Once again, it’s also not about talking animals. The furry fandom has been loaded with political fights and now feels like another generic left wing dominated political group where Bernie campaign staff show up at a furry con and pronoun badges are for sale in the Dealer’s Den instead of furry comics. Once again, it’s not about talking animals. In fact I’ve even seen artists draw less art and whine about Trump more on Twitter.

Furry cons aren’t about dealing products, they’re great big events to hook up and have sex at. RainFurrest 2015 was a good example of this; the con shutdown after furries wore diapers in public and trashed the hotel. Other cons get called nicknames like “Midwest FuckFest” because so many people go for the purpose of scoring.

Many western furries have gotten tired of the furry fandom. It’s not like there’s any pushback either, furries sick and tired of the fandom tend to quit and move on in life instead of trying to repair a sinking ship with flex tape. Groups like burned furs or alt-furry might have come and burnt to the ground and sites like Vivisector or CYD might 404 now, yet the factors that fueled the rise of these sites remain to this day. But if there’s a whitepill to counter just how bad the western furry fandom is, one just needs to look at the eastern counterpart to know not everything has to be this way.

The Eastern Fandom (Kemono)

I think a good way of summarizing the growth of the eastern furry fandom is like this: when Japanese cars were brought to America they were different in a lot of ways yet also “unkillable”. Toyota used to market the Camry with the advertising slogan about how “tons of our cars are still on the road“. The next thing you know American car companies struggled to compete. People decided they’d rather get quality Japanese cars instead of cars that rusted on the dealer lots with a beer can wedged in them (as boomers would say, I’m not sure how much of that is true or just boomerspeak).

The eastern furry fandom is a strong niche among Asian artists, many of whom were not furries and discovered furry art or who became furries thanks to the same original influences as western furries. They saw the same Disney and animated films with talking animals that western kids saw, and they had TV shows of their own with talking animals. When Pokemon and Digimon became huge, they saw those as well. Some of their cultural influences were the same, but they were influenced by the artists and art around them too. They grew up around cute anime characters moreso than we did. This led to the rise of the “kemono” scene. Their influences were more along the lines of something like Klonoa or Tail Concerto instead of some westernized cartoon and it shows.

Kemono artists got huge on e621 for the reason I mentioned earlier. Art from Pixiv (a Japanese art site) was found and reposted to e621 during the rise of that site, and imageboards such as 8chan’s (rip) /furry/ board or 4chan’s /trash/ board. When these artists moved on to Twitter like the rest of Japan did, they became a notable force. Despite their foreign language western furries deep into the fandom embraced it. The art was high quality, and the same goes with their fursuits. Type in “kemono fursuit” on Google Images and you’ll see just what I mean. The kemono fursuit craze in particular got huge to the point where westerners wanted to have a kemono fursuit to be cooler than the rest of the other furries. Some western furries in particular ended up copying these suits in the same way American car companies tried to copy top selling Japanese cars and cars like the original Saturns come to mind. Yet they’re merely copies of the real thing just like those cars were. Asian artists tend to have a super strong work ethic to the point of burnout and a taste for perfectionism, one that western furries lack because they’ve admitted that they can get away cutting corners (the link contains censored porn). Just like how this taste could be seen in many Japanese games during the height of that industry the same mindset carried over to internet artists. Kemono artists are content machines, uploading high quality art quite often to Twitter even as many western artists go blank.

To add to that, not only was the art high quality but it also had that distinct Asian style. Even as Asian media tends to fall into a creative void (see moeshit) the kemono genre of art stands out. There are plenty of ways kemono artists draw their art and it shows, there’s arguably even more of a variance than there is with western furry art. Then there’s the fact that more Asian furries know how to make some money. Some of them show up as vendors at comiket selling doujins (indie comics). Others go as far as releasing games that become hits among western furries. Changed is a transformation fetish game on Steam made by a Chinese furry that became a hit with furries worldwide and spawned tons of fanart. How many western furries make games? Exactly. Unless it’s a sex simulator of course, then there are dozens of them flooding the market like indie platformers back in the day. When Asians draw porn however the quality tends to be much higher and racks up those upvotes like mad.

A niche fetish in the west can spread to Asian artists drawing the same thing but with a unique twist on it. I’ve seen a fetish that was mocked by western furries (thanks to shitty art likely) yet drawn quite well by Asian artists. Even if there’s drama/politics in the Asian furry scene chances are you won’t hear about it. Their Twitter feeds are full of moon runes from whatever country they’re from. Unless the text has to do with the image of the artist’s own little universe in their mind chances are you will not want to read it anyway. When the artist is in a different language, the only time reading text matters is if you’re communicating with them and they know this too because they love Google Translate. Sadly the magic is in some cases lost if they get into the American furry scene and it shows. I’ve seen a handful of westernized furry artists who tend to hang out with westerners more (while sharing their same shitty politics) and never tweet in their native language, but that’s only a handful. Most of them end up using Google Translate to talk in English to their few English fans.

Maybe I’m just seeing the grass being greener on the other side in the same way that Americans love cars deemed as junk or mediocre in Europe and vice versa. But there’s definitely something appealing about Kemono art and the fandom seems like much less of a trashfire.

Conclusion (and how to fix the fandom)

You know those memes about how much better it is when Japanese artists lift the best aspects of western culture than it is when westerners do the same and end up as weaboos? The same could apply to the art scene. If the western furry fandom wants to improve, it can take inspiration from the best aspects of the Asian scene and throw the worst parts of both scenes in the garbage can where they belong. The problem with the western furry scene is it is seen by many inside and out as a sinking ship. More and more furries end up burned from the fandom and other furries. Those outside the fandom tend to look at it with disdain and I do not blame them one bit. As a debate with one chat showed, many western furries see the fandom as solely a “queer safe space” they can get a quick fap from instead of as an artistic movement or even a community of nerds into a concept.

I could be blackpilled like the majority of burnt out furries are where it gets so tiresome watching more and more shit turn into a political trashfire where creativity has to go because it’s problematic. But I’ve seen the Japanese kemono scene from a distance, and there are already some gamer tips I can give on how the fandom could be fixed. The first thing is to not associate yourself with the furry fandom. The western furry scene isn’t like the eastern one, it’s full of cancer. Even they know this; it’s why they’re following Asian artists. Nobody goes to furry cons to buy comics, they go to bang and farm their identity for retweets. You gotta think outside the box and focus on the mainstream here or at least other niche nerd audiences. They’re more likely to buy your content if it’s not sexualized than furries ever will. They’re also more likely to support you if furries attack you for some art crime you had no idea you committed (or that was legal 3 years ago).

Now it’s time to get some influences. I’ve seen similar creative movements online be sparked out of an appreciation for quality content from the past. I’ve even seen YouTube collectives influenced by channels that got nuked by YouTube. Lurk the usual places you do as a furry like e621 but add in a few more sources to that. Find some Pixiv accounts; find some long forgotten or obscure DeviantArt accounts on the corner of the web with interesting art and concepts. Learn about some obscure anime/cartoon or some cartoon that was big a few years back with interesting character design. Torrent that, take plenty of screenshots with VLC (shift + s is the key combo) and analyze the character design and how said characters are animated. Maybe take some interesting plot device and setting ideas from them too. I found a kids anime a while back that had a concept that was quite interesting, and torrented it for my collection. I’m glad whoever uploaded raws of it did that. Half of the episodes even got subbed so far which enhances the ability to appreciate that setting.

Then maybe take some influences from non-furry related pieces of media such as books or obscure movies/TV shows. I’d look for ones that are actually good or are undiscovered gems. If you’re making a game, download MAME and run some ROMs in it to get a feel for when games were actually good. Notice the polish and art direction of these games and why they still hold up to this day. I’d do this so that you don’t come across as a manchild producing garbage where the sole influence was a kids TV show with an interesting concept and nothing else. You need some influences to get your mind going and give yourself a motivation. Now save this content to an external HDD or better a server/NAS full of shucked external HDDs. Artists love to delete their old content and this is a well-documented issue, and sites like e621 go along with takedown requests. You don’t want your influences to go up in smoke so back that up. If you want some tips, go on /r/datahoarder or something or ask around.

Now that you’ve gotten some ideas, learn to channel this creativity somehow. You’re not going to go anywhere if you can’t make content, so do that. Learn to draw, write some, learn to code/use a game engine, and start putting your content out there. You can be an influence on others by putting yourself out there, especially creatively minded individuals. Once you get popular people will look up to you as an influence. You won’t be able to change the furry scene most likely, but you’ll be able to start a better scene possibly depending on how things go.

I look forward to seeing what others can accomplish in the next few years. Or not, I’ll probably be flipping burgers and dropping fries in for years instead of doing anything productive in all honestly but it’s fun to think about how the fandom could be better.

Jake

Jake

I'm a purple cat :V

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