You may have heard of ‘The Swimming Anime’. If not, it’s a thirty-second clip from Kyoto Animation, a respected studio in the field, that centers around a swim team.
It was never intended to be a series, but that hasn’t stopped Tumblr from forming a fandom around it.
Honestly, Tumblr freaking out over the clip is less surprising than the reaction to Tumblr freaking out over the clip:
It’s a good clip, not least because it looks like an actual series promo. The characters aren’t named but have distinct personalities communicated through their actions and design. Honestly, if the show existed, it wouldn’t be my bag but it’d look pretty good.
First of all, it’s pretty hard to go wrong selling a product that features lithe shirtless men to people who like to look at lithe shirtless men. Unsurprisingly, slash-fic writers and yaoi fans, who are fairly common on Tumblr, were all over this. The only thing different about this is that Kyoto Animation is generally known for its… ah… female character design.
Secondly, if you’ve been to a convention with a major anime or manga tinge to it, you know that the percentage of women into both is absolutely enormous. Granted that the number of women in any nerd fandom is usually egregiously lowballed, despite what some would have you believe, but anime fans get particularly underestimated, possibly because of, for lack of a better term, the fact that most people think it’s schoolgirls getting molested by tentacles.
It’s especially bizarre because manga is extremely popular among women, something you don’t have to research in detail to discover, and it’s not like anime and manga don’t have a long history of pretty men, so much so there’s a word for it, bishōnen. I only read Lone Wolf and Cub, and I know this stuff.
It’s not clear that Kyoto Animation will do anything with “The Swimming Anime”, but one thing that perhaps some covering the subculture could take away is that to be surprised it’s not all fat guys with body pillows is, perhaps, a wee bit insulting.