As the Fall 2018 anime came to a close, a few of my Facebook friends where sharing pictures, lamenting the end of some great stories. One Facebook friend in particular, shared screenshots of the final heart-wrenching scene in Banana Fish. One of his friends complained about the spoiler (red) and the poster’s response (blue) used a phrase I’ve seen many a time on Twitter, Tumblr and any other social media. The manga has been out forever. I have to question why this is an acceptable response to accidentally spoiling someone. So let’s investigate what the deal is with the anime community and spoilers!
So What is a Spoiler?
Just like in the name, a spoiler is a piece of knowledge that will spoil the experience of consuming a media. For example, knowing a certain character will die, a plot twist, knowing certain characters will fall in love etc. If you can imagine your experience of the media would be significantly different knowing a piece of knowledge – then yes, it’s probably a spoiler.
What Isn’t a Spoiler?
Anything that can be assumed: To give an example most people can relate to, if I were to say to my friend, “hey, in episode 50, Rock Lee and Guy have a great scene where they train together”, I wouldn’t classify that as a spoiler. Simply because I can assume or imagine that can happen – Guy and Rock Lee are close and they ALWAYS train. Whereas if I said something like (this doesn’t happen in Naruto just making up an example), “Guy decides to abandon Rock Lee and never speak him to again.” then yep that would be a spoiler because who could ever imagine that happening?
Content Warnings: When Crunchyroll began including content warnings on series like Goblin Slayer, besides people crying butthurt and ‘snowflake’, a few viewers complained that content warnings spoiled their viewing experience. As they would either know ahead of time that an episode will have violence OR expect violence when there would be none. Content warnings are there to tell viewers “in this episode there may be something in this episode that will upset you”. They DO NOT tell you “hey in this episode this character will die so prepare your tissues”, so no, they are not spoilers.
Megalo Box – An Example
When Megalo Box was airing, there was a phrase I saw repeated again and again “but it was in the manga!”. The series was released on the 50th anniversary of a manga called Ashita no Joe. A few manga readers, or fans who had seen the 1980 anime would comment “oh I can’t wait till they animate this part”, or “gosh this part is going to be so intense”. Some fans even discussed how the series’ shocking ending would be shown! New viewers would get upset about the spoilers and the people who had shared the spoilers would respond with “It’s such an old series, you should know it by now!”.
My issue with this is – why is it expected that someone should read the manga, or know an old anime? Every day a new anime fan pops up, and what do new anime fans do? They jump into new anime, like the ‘old’ Big Three, the ’emerging’ Big Three or seasonal anime. They don’t go and start watching a show from the 1980s. Furthermore, and I’m talking from personal experience here, when there’s a series I like, I will VERY rarely watch the anime and read the manga. It’s one or the other and it depends on which medium I feel suits the story best.
But even regardless of all that, I’m sure everyone has had the experience of having something spoiled. And it’s a really shitty feeling, if you have a dash of empathy you know you don’t want to ruin a series for anyone. You want someone to enjoy the series as much as you did that first time you say it. Think of an incredible plot twist that happened in a series you liked – the shock you felt, the excitement? Now imagine if you had to go through that entire series knowing it was going to happen. Not so fun, right?
Avoiding spoiling people is easy – just use a spoiler tag or writer ‘SPOILER’ before your big rant / photo collage. Rectifying spoilers is even easier, just type a simple ‘sorry’ and it’ll be no harm done, just don’t put the onus on the viewer to have read some famous manga before watching the anime.
How do we Avoid Them?
Set up blocked words: Thankfully, social media sites like Twitter allow you to blacklist words or phrases. Below you can see my muted words on Twitter, I muted Avengers when the new film came out, and have quite a few otome phrases as I tend to take a long time to play games and don’t want any routes to be spoiled!
Avoid Episodic Reviews: Many episodic reviews will feature a bunch of spoilers, simply because that’s the idea of it. An episodic review discusses what happens in an episode! Looking at full reviews can be a bit of a gamble, but most bloggers I know are kind enough to write “spoilers” at the beginning of their review so you can nope out of it if you don’t want to know too much.
Don’t Look it Up: Probably the easiest way to avoid spoilers is just don’t look up what you’re enjoying before finishing it. Don’t type in character names into google as it’ll try to guess what you’re searching like “character x” becomes suggested as “character x death scene” or “character x kiss with character y”.
To Sum Up…
To sum this article up, I’m going to use an age old Australian phrase – don’t be a dickhead. For many of us, anime is an escapism from our daily lives, the chance to explore new worlds and meet interesting characters. Don’t ruin that excitement for another viewer, and it’s pretty easy not to. As I mentioned above – just tag your spoilers and for the love of anime, if you do spoil someone just apologise.