"Unfortunately, media in our niche is targeted at teens and harcore otaku." The man types on his membrane keyboard, lightly sighing. "That's what leads to this abundance of shitty moebait. It's ironic, really. Companies want to play it safe and must rely on those people to survive, but that is what causes them to ultimately fall and crash." He mentally scoffs at all the weirdos that allow his hobby to go on. "Visual Novels will never reach their full potential until they kill that mentality" The man yawns, looking at the clock marking 11 PM. "And finally start valuing good storytelling."
Now that you're pissed off, sighing or smirking at the post above, let me try to drag you into this narrative before I make my point.
When I first started consuming otaku media, there were two things I was really into: cool guys with swords and cute girls into cool guys with swords.
I'd say that's fairly normal. I think there's an inner desire most men have of being a cool strong guy that can do whatever he wants and is stronger than everyone, as well as having all of the hottest girls around be all over your dick. Specifics differ from person to person, as well as what age you really started doing weeb stuff, but I would call this the standard teen male otaku starter pack, nowdays probably coupled with a spice of pokemon/dragon ball/saint seiya/whatever you didn't even know was anime during your childhood.
As I grew up, however, my tastes changed, something also very very common. No longer could I enjoy just stories about being a cool guy with a sword that gets 7 girls over his dick for little reason. I started requiring character development and well paced stories and some type of theme to think about and even dynamic, interesting directing (despite not knowing I was into directing.) That's when I had contact with Kubrick movies and was absolutely mindblown by them, and when I started liking different anime. No longer would I praise those silly shows to the heavens. A new Kaguya was born, a Kaguya that would only enjoy ~good~ shows, such as Death Note, Gurren Lagann and Cowboy Bebop. As time went on, that philosophy would stick, and maybe I would experiment with things like Psycho-pass, Steins;Gate and Hunter x Hunter.
Storytelling was, after all, about execution, not concepts. And what better than tightly paced exciting stories with probably strong character development and some nice themes for me to mull over? Westerners would be into their breaking bad and game of thrones but I unfortunately had acquired a preference for anime aesthetics. Araki was my Tarantino and Urobuchi was my edgy Kubrick.
Today, now over a decade since that phase started, I can only say about my old tastes: "What a fucking normie."
And I dislike to use the word since there's nothing inherently wrong with being normal, but it's very effective in our circles, since otaku have the tendency to pride themselves masters of the niche and unknown, even if they don't want to say it because they're embarrassed, but I digress.
Last year, I watched and got really into Saki, which led to me following the manga (which I still do.)
Saki isn't very well-paced, not particularly smart, not very stylish or well directed and it doesn't really have strong character development. It's about gay girls playing superpowered mahjong. And it was really enjoyable because I'm really into shy girls, female protagonists and lengthy sports tournaments. What really pushed it over the edge though, was that I decided I wanted to play some mahjong, and in the end I got really into mahjong.
I then rewatched saki and was minblown by it too, despite being well aware that the show wasn't any better.
A lot of things happened there. First of them was an accurate showing of my otaku level, if anything. I liked Saki initially because it had a shy girl protagonist, was basically a sports anime and had gay girls in it. Now, I'm incredibly into shy girls, sports and yuri shows, so all three together made it an enjoyable experience for me. 1
"But Kaguya" the imaginary reader that's duller than the average person I have created just now says "that doesn't make sense. Didn't you have ~good~ taste now? What about execution over concepts? What about pacing, themes, character development, directing?"
To that, I only have everyone's favorite normie meme as an answer
Which brings us to the second part.
Because I got really into mahjong and I was breathing, eating and talking mahjong, and the show already had all of my favorite things in anime with a gay shy girl protagonist and a longass sports tournament, the quality of it really didn't matter.
Saki can't be better for me by changing stuff like that. None of it matters, because dumb as it was, the show spoke to me on a personal level. What was happening onscreen was perfection, the ultimate combination of all the things I cared about put together. For the first time in my life I was able to experience a show as a hardcore otaku would, despite their overall miserable rep. And it was pretty good! It feels great to care strongly about media.
Now, Saki isn't a very good story, but it made me open my eyes. European/American storytelling are fundamentally different from Japanese storytelling. Saki, a not very good story, was the starting point that made me get actually used to japanese media, and understand that a lot of what people criticize as bad storytelling in that media isn't even actually bad storytelling, just storytelling based on different values with different priorities because it had a different fountain of knowledge to drink from. Such "good" storytelling rules completely excludes genres that aren't supposed to abide by it in the first place. Iyashikei are slow-paced atmospheric shows with little conflict that calmly draw you in and benefit from carefully crafted ambiance to show their strength. In fact, any sort of storytelling not based on the traditional western idea of conflict as the driving force of the plot would be labeled as bad under those rules, even if following them would only make the story worse.
At the same time, it gave me a newfound respect for traditionally bad stories and otaku media in general. As you consume more and more media, the more your tastes diversify and the more you find your own specific niche that can appeal to you on a higher level than normal media can.
A lot of people will never get to that point, but a lot of people will actually reach it, but with other types of media. Maybe music. Maybe a sport. Maybe amateur blog posts. Who knows. The sky's the limit.
Lately I've made a bunch of posts defending moe. In truth, I'm not the right person for it. I'm just not a giant moe guy. But moege are exactly one type of game that's retarded judge by western storytelling standards, and yet I only see people talking about them with those standards.
I have a bone to pick with the type of person who keeps spouting that stuff, wanting to wipe out 90% of all VNs and force their western normie taste down everyone's throats. If you're spending your time basically talking about how your japanese media not following western standards is wrong, you are the problem.
As for the actual otaku, you keep being you. It's because you drive this medium that it can manage to be such a diverse, wonderfully odd and unique art movement, despite all of the bad publicity you guys get. Ultimately, it's probably the same for all types of media. Comic book nerds were awful outsiders, the butt of all jokes and prejudice just a few decades ago, but now those comic books drive mainstream media blockbuster films. Funny how it works.
This goes for all art movements, but those outside the wheel are the vanguard. Experimentation, the willingness to dive deep into things everyone else mocks and isn't even willing to give a shot to - That's what will create the mainstream in its medium later.
But hey, at least you get to experience superior media before everyone else.