If you’re alive in the 21st century and have access to any form of media, be it print, broadcast, digital, or social, there’s no way you haven’t had at least one run-in with weeb culture. I just don’t think it’s possible at this point, and I don’t think that’s by accident…
Back in my day (I know, I know), we had our daily afternoon Toonami block that included popular shows like Yu-Gi-Oh, Sailor Moon, and Dragon Ball Z, and we even got the occasional Studio Ghibli movie, like Kiki’s Delivery Service or Spirited Away. We also had the tiny manga/graphic novel section tucked into the back of Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, and we were happy. A simpler time.
Now, let’s fast forward to our hyper-capitalist society in 2021. Every time you get on the Internet, you see brands releasing anime-inspired clothing lines and celebrities gushing about their favorite anime series. We see anime movies crushing it at the box office and making history with each and every release, and even the Tokyo 2021 Olympics (they say 2020, but nah) has been infiltrated with music from video games and anime series and anime-inspired animations for its competing athletes. I suppose it being in Tokyo helps a lot, as well.
And it doesn’t stop there!
Fast food restaurants like Arby’s and Taco Bell often incorporate anime themes into their advertising and marketing campaigns. Netflix rolls out live-action anime series and just plain-old anime series every month at this point, and there isn’t a TikTok trend that cosplayers and weebs aren’t cashing in on. Anime-inspired streetwear brands are popping up everywhere you look, and make-up brands are creating lines and collections in collaboration with well-known anime and video game series.
What else can I say?
At this point, it’s quite obvious that weeb culture is mainstream culture.
And when things like this begin to happen, it’s usually because the money is there. There’s no denying that weebs have money (I mean, have you seen their figurine and manga collections?), and companies know this, as well. It’s sort of a bittersweet feeling, realizing that the more money you spend on weeb culture, the more brands will exploit said love. We must always follow the money. Discernment is key, but such is life…
Despite this harsh truth, however, a lot of beautiful things have come from weeb culture being in the mainstream the way that it is today. This means that more new anime and manga series can be created, with more financial backing and better quality (well…not always).
This also means that there are more events like conventions and businesses opening up that cater to weebs and their culture, specifically.
And it also means being able to find more people who are into the same things as you, since weebs now wear their status as a badge of honor. I mean, look how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time!
I don’t see the weeb train slowing down any time soon, especially as the money continues to pour in. So, if there was ever a time to be weeb in the history of the world, that time is now. I encourage everyone to at least give some facet of weeb culture a go. I truly believe that there is something for everyone, once you really start to get into things. And I bet your life changes completely because of it.