#53 - Tales of Fans

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What exactly is the significance of gel, and what is it that ties together a series that shares only two words (Tales of)?? This week, we’re talking about fans of the Tales of series (e.g. Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Zestiria, Tales of Berseria) with special guest (and Maple Gel Con organizer) Jesi McMulkin!

Next week, we’ll be demystifying the world of anime and manga fans a bit as we discuss fans of josei and shoujo… or in layman’s terms, anime and manga “for women and girls”.

Where can I learn more about Jesi McMulkin?

If you enjoyed listening to our special guest, Jesi, and want to learn more about the Tales of series, you should definitely checkout Maple Gel Con in Burlington, Ontario!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Origins:
The Tales or Tales of series is a video game series that has been running since 1995 with the release of Tales of Phantasia on the Super Famicom. While there are sixteen main titles, many spin-offs, manga, anime, and audio dramas, the different entries in the series are fairly independent of each other and are mostly linked by their similar gameplay style (in particular, the “Linear Motion Battle System”), and its anime/manga art style. In English-speaking regions, it is generally seen as a niche series but is in the top-running for RPG series in Japan (behind Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest).

Most Active:
By Google search volume, interest in various Tales-series games has been on a slow decline, with the most interest in the game series occuring between 2003 and 2004 (corresponding to the releases of Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Rebirth).

Size of Fandom:
One estimate for the size of the fandom would be the number of games sold:

As of December 2013, the series has sold 16 million units worldwide.
Wikipedia - Tales (series)

This gives us at least some watermark of the dedication of fans, and puts the rough number of fans at something like one million fans (16 million units over 16 games = 1 million fans per game).

Another metric might be the “Tales of” festival in Japan. The seventh such festival in 2014 managed to draw out over 22 000 fans over two days to fill the Yokohama Arena.

Also worth mentioning, the Tales of subreddit boasts an impressive ~11 000 subscribers.

Fan Demographics:
We weren’t able to get numbers on fan demographics. A rough estimate, in Japan, at least, from the 2014 Tales of Festival:

Far from the stereotype of a game otaku sausage party, the crowd at the 2014 event is almost exclusively female.
“Players of the Tales of series are 70% male and 30% female in Japan, but for events like this it’s about 90% female,” series producer Hideo Baba tells me at the end of the first day. “Women tend to be more interested in the story and the characters, while men are more interested in the games themselves and messing around with game hardware. So when their favorite game character appears on stage, the sound of screaming female fans is really something.”
IGN - WHY 90% OF FANS AT TALES OF FESTIVAL ARE FEMALE

Around the world:
The top 10 countries for search volume around the “Tales of” series are: Japan (by a large margin), Phillipines, Singapore, Puerto Rico, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, France, South Korea, and Indonesia.

Famous fan works:
Arguably, the fan translation of “Tales of Phantasia” by DeJap:

“I bet Arche ***** like a tiger”
TVTropes - Tales of Phantasia

Fanfics:
According to Archive Of Our Own, there are approximately 4500 fanfics related to the Tales of Series (the majority of which are Tales of Zestiria — approximately 1200); FanFiction.net has over 10 000 (the majority of which are Tales of Symphonia — approximately 6 300).

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

T
What is it that ties the games together, exactly? (And as such, makes a fandom)

G
The popularity of Tales of Phantasia in North America grew out of its inability to get it released in North America.

Z
As a series of JRPGs and a fandom around that… how many fan games (e.g. RPG Maker) are there? Which one is most beloved by fans?

Amin
Has this fandom gone to other mediums: Books, Manga, Artwork (other adaptations)?

The Verdict

Z is in. Tales is great.

T is out. Too much of a time commitment.

G is in. Knew nothing at first… but the characters and mythology are drawing him in.

Jesi is in. Would recommend folks play Tales of Symphonia (or Graces) first.

This week’s spotlight

Maple Gel Con
Soon to be in its 3rd year, Maple Gel Con is a convention held in Oakville, Ontario for fans of the series to meet each other and celebrate the various different titles! There are panels, games, a library, karaoke, and more!

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Anime / Manga!

Z
In Japan, is Josei / Shoujo (Anime / Manga for girls) regarded as something filled with aspirational messages, or as a cultural edifice that tries to teach more traditional values?

T
Sailor Moon is the most popular Shoujo / Josei series.

G
Is there a notable portion of the audience who are grown men (similar to Bronies)? If so, what’s their deal?

Jesi
What is the ratio of success of shoujo / josei to shonen (by whatever measure)?

mixter_leach
I’m wondering if it’s very well regarded or if it’s seen as something silly and frivolous in Japanese culture.

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

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  • if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try nick@thenickscast.com
  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
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  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.

Ahem

We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.

Thanks

Special thanks to Jesi McMulkin for taking the time to chat with us and to help us sort out the technical difficulties of livestreaming with a guest!

Credits

Sources

Music / Sound

  • End music “Fighting Spirit” from various entries in the Tales of series performed by Arny Undercover
  • All other music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!

Artwork

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