a whole world of anime

Evolution of an Anime Fan (Part I) PDF Print E-mail
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Monday Musings
Monday, 07 March 2011 15:29
It's 1992. I'm a open-minded 20-year-old, and I'm standing in Our Price (remember them?) holding this rather unusual VHS tape in my hand. It's from a company called Manga, it's got a few nicely-drawn schoolgirls on the front cover, and... what's this? Fighter planes? A girl in a powered suit of some sort? A description about alien invasions? Okaaaaaay, curiosity button pressed. I take the tape to the cash desk (probably blushing heavily, as this does not look like a particularly manly thing to be buying), get it home, throw it in the VCR....

Project A-Ko...and so, it begins. That one tape has a hell of a lot to answer for, as it's what first got me interested in anime. At that point, I had very little idea as to what it actually was, but UK SuperNES magazine Play also had 1-2 pages of anime coverage in each issue, and that gave me pointers to what to try next. Crying Freeman and Akira soon followed, and my curiosity was piqued by screenshots of a show called Sailor Moon (although I didn't get to actually see that until Fox Kids UK started showing it, I think in 1999).

The draws of anime, to me as with so many other fans, were multiple: after years of watching western cartoons, along came these new stories that had a very different visual style; dealt with subjects that western cartoons typically wouldn't go near; and had stories that were more complex than what I was used to. Add to that the curiosity about things Japanese that the SuperNES had piqued in the first place, and it was a winning combination.

But this was the era of dub-only releases, fifteening, and the rise of shock schlock as Urotsukidoji and its ilk soon took over shelf space from titles with more mainstream appeal. I'm assured that better titles were being released at the time, but between the lack of internet access to find out about them (or buy them, with embarrassment being a factor that would often put me off getting them off-the-shelf) and the complete failure of anywhere local to stock anything decent, my enthusiasm in new releases soon tailed off. A-Ko and friends still got plenty of playback, but as far as new titles were concerned, that was it for quite some time.

Not all anime is the same, you see - an obvious statement to most people reading this, I suspect, but not so obvious to others. My initial burst of interest seemed to coincide with the bursting of the UK's original anime bubble, and while the seeds of what would turn out to be a horribly expensive hobby had been sown, they wouldn't grow for quite some time.

Next part: By the power of the Moon!, and discovering the joys of XDCC...

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