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An essay on how I see and have seen Anime

 
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JaxsonJaguar

I watch Dragonball-Z



Joined: 09 Sep 2006
Posts: 60
Location: Travis AFB, CA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 12:41 am    Post subject: An essay on how I see and have seen Anime Reply with quote

I wanted to put this in the melting pot but felt it should go here. Warning this is long.

*Before I continue any further I want to first say that everything beyond this disclaimer is the opinion of a 23-year-old Senior Airman in the United States Air Force. It is being fueled by Pringles flavored diet Pepsi and a documentary on the culture of Heavy Metal. All opinions expressed in this essay are mine and mine alone if I offend anyone I want you the reader to understand that it is not my intent to offend and if I do I am truly sorry, now on with the opinions.*


The World as Seen by an Otaku
(The history and opinions of Anime through the experiences of a random Otaku)
By Justin Davis





Part 1
My Anime History


I started watching Anime back in the late 80’s. I was really young and I really didn’t know what it was at the time. For me it was just another cartoon. The shows I remember from that era are Speed Racer, Voltron, the first anime VHS I ever rented, Robotech, and a strange Christian Anime that aired on Sunday mornings and later on the Trinity Broadcasting Network called Super Book. Again back then I didn’t know what it was I just thought it was another cartoon. I was too young to recognize the significance of what I was watching.
In the early 90’s I still had no idea what I was watching. I was still catching Voltron on the USA network, and I remember one morning before school I caught what I would later find out was Ronin Warriors, and I caught about half a minute of the original Dragon Ball. Before that I remember my step-cousin showed me liquid television on MTV but I was so young I didn’t really pay much attention but if you showed me the segment from Neo-Tokyo called “Running Man”, I will recognize it in a second. I also remember following my first favorite Anime series Tekknoman. For some reason the network that was showing it as part of an animation block was selling it as 3D, (as in the glasses not CG.) In the mid 90’s I discovered another series I loved was Samurai Pizza Cats. I raced home each day after school to catch that one.
Rewind back to about 92 or 93 when Power Rangers first started I was religiously watching Sonic the Hedgehog, and I remember one Saturday Fox Kids was airing a new show at about the same time as Sonic. Thus the first anime I actually went out of my way to watch was Sailor Moon. That was a rough Saturday. I kept flipping between Sonic and Sailor Moon. Funny thing I cannot remember the episode of Sonic but I can remember that the episode of Sailor Moon that aired was the first episode of the Doom Tree Saga. How’s that for impact? But again I still didn’t know what it was I felt it was just another cartoon.
In 97 when I was a freshman in High School I finally got the education that would change my life from that day on. That day I learned what anime was. When I started taking TV Production in the second half of my freshman year a fellow student, a Senior I think, sat me down and told me what anime was as I watched her make a primitive AMV featuring footage and music from Fushigi Yuugi. Later that day I was waiting to start either Cross Country or Tennis practice and I turned on a TV and discovered Pokemon. Yes the first anime I watched and recognized as Anime. In fact as I was flipping through channels I passed it and said, “oh hey that’s Anime”. It should be noted that at the time the show was still in syndication in America, thus making it underground and cool. Then the floodgates opened. From there I went on to be sucked into Toonami, Encore Action, the International Channel, and more syndicated television.
That is my history, my story to those reading this to help you guys understand where I’m coming from. I’ll admit that because I got hooked to Anime through American television I prefer the dubs to reading subtitles but I don’t dismiss them. This I feel helps me be a better fan because it allows me to be open and experience all forms of this medium. I hope all that was informative.


Part 2
The history of the culture as I saw it


There should really be a serious documentary about our fandom. I think a few people tried but those releases never went anywhere. We need a documentary along the lines of “Trekkies”, not some mini-doc on the Special Features of a Matrix DVD. I’m talking a major studio distribution of a documentary that dives into and takes a good hard look at the Otaku culture around the world. I mean come on they made documentaries about people who are involved in competitive Scrabble and people who obsess over crossword puzzles. It’s our turn damnit.

Anyway, I got my first taste of anime fandom through a Sonic The Hedgehog massage board. Sure most of the people there were those who were into furry art and what not but there were those who were just as into Anime as they were in to furry. It was among these people that I got my first taste of the Sub/Dub wars, the evils of Americanization, and the fact that there were not only awesome characters in Sailor Moon but characters that were guys but looked like girls. But these discussions intrigued me. At the time I didn’t know these edits existed. Honestly I was so green that I thought what we saw was the same thing the Japanese saw just in a different language. Then Toonami started airing uncut episodes of Gundam W and you could just hear my head exploding.
I then learned more about uncut Anime and I started hearing about other titles being released. The funny thing though was that back then not many of us knew about the various dubbing studios we all thought that the shows were being dubbed and edited by the networks. We did know that d.i.c, was the one who dubbed and edited Sailor Moon. The first companies I learned about were Pioneer and Funimation. We only found out about those two because some noticed that DBZ had changed after the first two seasons. It was now referred to as the Pioneer dub and the Funimation dub. This was the same time that Anime fan and news sites started gaining popularity. Before you knew it, the Internet became littered with Sailor Moon, Pokemon and Dragonball fan sites and shrines thanks to domain builders such as Tripod and Geocities. Around this time I discovered the ups and down of fan art and fan fictions. In the beginning I was still a big sonic fan and I couldn’t even draw a straight line so I wrote Sonic fan fictions.

Off line the popularity of Anime was growing bigger. More cons started popping up and the existing ones got bigger. Soon stores like Suncoast became saturated with Anime. Anime even started showing up in video rental stores. All thanks to Pokemon and Dragonball Z. Before those the best my small town had to offer was one VHS copy of one episode of the Slayers OAV, and it sucked.
This saturated market was good in that it separated the fans. Their were those who had been with Anime since the 80’s and were ecstatic to see their favorite anime available for actual release and in some cases finally subtitled and those who had done research and knew exactly what anime to look for. There were the casual fans who only got what they saw on TV, but would deviate if they had heard about something on a forum or from friends they knew. Then there were the crazed fans that scooped up anything and everything Anime. I think these fans were caught up in the trend and were soon turned off because they picked up bad titles and gave up on Anime. I knew early on that I was a casual fan, still am. I hardly ever get a series that I know nothing about. I have either read a review, heard about from friends, or saw part of it on TV or rented. I do not regret any anime in my collection.

But my Anime knowledge at the time was still limited. Most of my friends not as into Anime as I was so there was a void, you can only get so much info from the Internet. Long story short my exposure to true fans in real life was severely limited. Hell a few of my friends became fans of Anime threw me and they were just as casual as I was. Back in 2002 I didn’t even know what cosplaying was, what Otaku meant, or that Anime Weekend Atlanta even existed. I was still trying to get my mom and sister to sit down and watch Princess Mononoke.
When I joined the Air Force in 2004 I finally got out of that crappy little town and out in the world. Towards the end of Basic Training my parents came down for Graduation and brought my entire DVD and CD collection with them for me. Back then my Anime collection consisted of just two box sets and maybe three movies. I was able to go out into San Antonio where I added another Box Set to my collection. Once I brought my suitcase to my dorm and showed it off I met more Anime Fans. When I went on to the second part of my military training I met more Anime fans and was exposed to more Anime. We even watched Anime on the community TV’s. The cool thing about Lackland Air Force Base was that they actually had a store that sold not only comic books but also they had a good stock of Anime, Anime CD’s, and Manga. I had to enter the USAF to discover Manga, how strange is that? Oh by the way nothing funnier than watching Akira with a bunch of guys and making drug jokes.
Right before I left San Antonio I finally learned about Anime conventions. Don’t ask me how or where I just did. I attended my first Anime convention in 2005 in Honolulu, Hawaii, I was 21-years-old. It was at this time I was so into the culture that I made my decision for what I wanted to do with my life. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be an ADR director for a major Anime dubbing studio.


Part 3
My thoughts, opinions, observations, and rants


When it was all said and done the Sub/Dub war ended sometime in the last five years with no clear winner. But occasionally you get some Sub elitist who will come along and go suicide bomb on someone if they rave about a dub. It’s stuff like that, that make me love this fandom. It’s the passion, the passion of the neo-nerds. I have grown to take both versions as they are, and I am not afraid to admit sometimes I prefer one over the other, however the dub usually sways my decision to buy the DVD or not. As far as edits on TV are concerned I really could care less so long as the DVD is uncut. If it isn’t then it is not worth my time, money, or attention.

I like the voice actors, and I know many people do to. I mean I have yet to hear about some random fan going to a con and telling a VA or an ADR Director that they suck and that the show should have been released only subbed. The best thing I heard was a fan asked an ADR Director the sub/dub question and his answer was perfect. He said, “If you don’t like the dub just turn on the subtitles and switch the audio.” I paraphrased that a bit but that is pretty much what he said.
Its things like that, make me respect those people in the dubbing industry and how often will you see any kind of actor or actress inter-act with their fans like these people. Sure their line of work doesn’t pay much and often they have to do multiple things in the industry as well as have a day job in order to make money but they are okay with the sacrifices because they love what they do and take pride in their work. How can you not admire that?

The fans are something else entirely. These people and their devotion to what they love, is astonishing. I could never in a million years even imagine going to the links that these people go to. Links such as, sewing elaborate costumes from scratch, slaving over expensive editing equipment to make a music video, going numb from writing and drawing their own fan fiction or doujinshi. Some even go to multiple cons in a year, I only wish I lived in a location where that was financially possible.
You even have to admire the sub elitist to an extent. Sure they are annoying and often don’t have a leg to stand on but, again you have got to admire that passion I spoke of earlier. Besides if it weren’t for them forums would be a boring love fest. They do liven things up a bit, so with that said hardcore annoying *?:" sub elitist I salute you.

I have many fond memories and it’s funny I can tie an Anime in with some of the major events in my life. Some people my think that is sad but I’m proud of it. Anime has been a highlight in my life and if it wasn’t for Anime, I would have probably given up along time ago. I only wish I had discovered it and better understood it sooner. Perhaps it’s good that I discovered it when I did who knows how fate works? All I know is that I am happy because of Anime, I have goals and ambitions thanks to anime, I have friends thanks to Anime, I am still here because of Anime. I thank Anime for what it has done to me and I hope that when my times comes and I get to add my touch to it that I will do it well and not disgrace it. I am proud to say that, “I am a Nerd, I am an Otaku.”

Anime has certainly come along way since I discovered it anyway. Anime is on TV in theaters and has podcasts and networks devoted exclusively to it. It is Union and it is non-union. It is underground and it is mainstream. It is what we want it to be and so much more. It is the best thing we have ever seen, it is the worst thing, and everything in-between. It is Anime and we are Otaku.

Believe It! Oh wait I’m sorry I mean, Datebaiyo!
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TimeChaser

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think most of us can relate to your story. Especially those of us who are older and grew up on Voltron in the 80s when barely anyone in America knew what anime was except those who were in on the underground scene.

I can rememeber first hearing about "anime" when there were 1-800 adds to order movies like Akira. "Order the anime movie collection today!" I thought all anime was just that: these bizare, ultra-violent movies. My first exposure to something I knew was anime was watching Vampire Hunter D when SciFi Channel used to play anime movies late at night on the weekends. And soon after that was Sailor Moon.

It's definitely been an interesting journey from our ignorance about it, to underdstanding, to the phenomenon it has become today.

Nice essay Smile

(Heh, and I say this only as constructive criticism as an English major: check punctuation and grammar. Especially if this is meant to be an essay for a class. If it's just for fun, then you can ignore this part Razz )
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JaxsonJaguar

I watch Dragonball-Z



Joined: 09 Sep 2006
Posts: 60
Location: Travis AFB, CA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah it was kind of a spur of the moment thing. Grammer and punctuation have always plagued me so yeah if this was an essay for a class yeah I wounldm't get the best grade oh well. Glad you liked it though.
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