RE: The roots of our fandom

One of my first anime

Yume­ka of Mainichi Ani­me Yume wrote an arti­cle where she harkened back to her child­hood and exam­ined the ori­gins of when her love of ani­me first began and, of course, why it still per­sists in her heart today. She asked her read­ers if they could trace any instances of ear­ly “ner­dom” with­in their child­hoods that may have con­tributed to their love for ani­me today and if there were any obsta­cles in regards to the indul­gence in these hob­bies (home envi­ron­ment, par­ents, peers, etc.)

Instead of shar­ing my own sto­ry as a com­ment on her blog, I decid­ed to reply to it as a post of my own.

Dur­ing my child­hood, like any oth­er kid, I just adored get­ting immersed in the fic­tion­al worlds of car­toons and tele­vi­sion, like the grim dark Bat­man: The Ani­mat­ed Series or the fan­tas­ti­cal and kid-friend­ly pic­ture book world of Blue’s Clues. This also applies to video games such as The Leg­end of Zel­da, Super Mario Bros., a bunch of PS1 RPGs and Sega good­ies, and of course, more good ol’ clas­sic Nin­ten­do titles which gave my imag­i­na­tion a good exer­cise. This may have been the roots of my love for col­lect­ing mer­chan­dise, as I often pulled my par­ents into the toys stores and malls just to get dolls, games, and action fig­ures cor­re­spond­ing to the pro­grams I loved — all to con­tin­ue those worlds with my own imag­i­na­tion: play­ing pre­tend, as all kids do at an ear­ly age.

It was around the time when I was in kinder­garten that the Poke­mon anime/games, Sailor Moon, and Drag­on Ball Z ani­me kind of just appeared out of nowhere in the Unit­ed States. Not only did their fic­tion­al uni­vers­es and toys appealed to me, but they had an east­ern aura about them that also appealed to me, a boy of east­ern descent (of course, all three at that point had dubs that were heav­i­ly Amer­i­can­ized, but I found it easy to tell that they weren’t West­ern pro­duc­tions). Poke­mon, espe­cial­ly, appealed to my imag­i­na­tive brain dur­ing the days where the ani­me pre­sent­ed an adven­tur­ous, sur­re­al world that any kid would wish to live in because Satoshi would expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent things on his jour­ney each day. In regards to the video games, it may have been my first con­tact to any instances of a “fan­dom”, where all the wild rumors and glitch­es spread amongst my lit­tle friends who also enjoyed the Poke­mon fad.

wai wai

Around the same time, I caught the Japan­ese episodes of Drag­on Ball Z on the now-defunct Inter­na­tion­al Chan­nel (which, of course, was waaaaay ahead of the dub) and was instant­ly hooked on this east­ern form of ani­ma­tion. I dis­cov­ered more Japan­ese ani­me on that chan­nel and Toon­a­mi, and when Nel­vana’s Card­cap­tors dub rolled around (yes, I actu­al­ly liked that piece of trash dub back then), it got me inter­est­ed in the Card­cap­tor Saku­ra man­ga that was trans­lat­ed by Toky­opop (RIP), which may have been the roots of my love for CLAMP and also the cat­a­lyst for my dis­cov­ery of the orig­i­nal Japan­ese ani­me that start­ed dur­ing mid­dle school. In grade school, I was known as the “Drag­on Ball kid” because I ALWAYS knew what was on “THE NEXT EPISODE OFDRAGOOON BALLLLL ZZZZZEEEEEEE!” They attrib­uted it to me being relat­ed to the cre­ator of Drag­on Ball or hav­ing psy­chic pow­ers. Either way, that was my source of sev­en-year old lulz. Along with that nick­name, I was also known as “that class­mate who knows how to draw ani­me and oth­er things very, very well”. Draw­ing anime/manga all of my life cer­tain­ly had a part in my con­tin­ued indul­gence of using the art form as a tool for exer­cis­ing my imag­i­na­tion in var­i­ous ways.

Unlike some oth­er peo­ple that like to mis­con­strue the mean­ing of “grow­ing up” and lump togeth­er cur­rent inter­ests and hob­bies to gen­der and age, instead of deem­ing my love for ani­ma­tion (of all kinds, but espe­cial­ly Japan­ese ani­me) as “child­ish” and grow­ing out of it on my own accord, I stuck with it and the medi­um grew up along with me. There are excep­tions, but unlike west­ern ani­ma­tion, Japan­ese ani­ma­tion nev­er stereo­types car­toons as just being pro­duc­tions made for chil­dren. There are chil­dren’s ani­me, sure, but there are also a ton of pro­duc­tions made for adults and teenagers. Besides, who says chil­dren’s shows can’t be enjoy­able to oth­er age brack­ets? Jus­tice League Unlim­it­ed, an Amer­i­can pro­duc­tion, should be a tes­ta­ment to that! Even I were to, say, dis­like any­thing that’s made with chil­dren in mind, why would I give up on ani­me as whole? I would­n’t, I’d just be watch­ing ani­me made for adults.

Giv­ing up on a medi­um of enter­tain­ment just because ter­ri­ble pro­duc­tions exist would make every movie crit­ic stay the hell away from the movie the­aters. There have been a fair share of ani­me series that I’ve deemed ter­ri­ble, but I still stuck with the medi­um and still con­sis­tent­ly find things that I enjoy, and every once in a while, find an absolute mas­ter­piece. Sounds very sim­i­lar to being a movie-goer, does­n’t it? Well, that’s because it’s the exact same thing. So in terms of my igno­rant peers’ opin­ion of ani­me, I gen­er­al­ly ignore it or give them one of my snarky replies, because I’m allowed to like what­ev­er I want and don’t care whether they have a low­er opin­ion of me because of what I like. It’s a nice way to stay hap­py and being able to enjoy the things you love. Luck­i­ly enough, I made a ton of friends in my life that are either neu­tral, casu­al, or hard­core about ani­me as I am and nev­er look down on me because of it. My par­ents were also nev­er an obsta­cle when it comes to my indul­gence of ani­me, main­ly because they real­ly have no prob­lems with it (or what­ev­er else I do as long as it isn’t doing drugs or com­mit­ting arson). They, or at least my moth­er, actu­al­ly sup­port my inter­est in any­thing as long as it makes me hap­py. How­ev­er, if they were to have for­bade it, I would have treat­ed them the same way as any oth­er igno­rant per­son, as long as they did­n’t already influ­ence me into hat­ing cer­tain stuff and think­ing in a cer­tain way while grow­ing up.

What I deem as a real obsta­cle to my pas­sion as a fan of ani­me (and oth­er things) was my fam­i­ly’s dive into per­pet­u­al pover­ty at an ear­ly stage of my life. Because of this, I nev­er got the chance to real­ly sat­is­fy my enjoy­ment of col­lect­ing things that was sown into my soul when I was a tod­dler. While pover­ty nev­er gets in the way of just watch­ing ani­me, it does lim­it the enjoy­ment of the hob­by in oth­er ways. Not being able to buy offi­cial releas­es of DVDs and man­ga as they come out, not being able to attend con­ven­tions that aren’t local, not being able to buy as many video games as I did dur­ing my ear­ly days of life, not being able to afford wast­ing mon­ey on col­lectible mer­chan­dise, etc. I feel that I would be more sat­is­fied as a fan of any­thing if I had more mon­ey in my pock­et. It real­ly puts a damper on your spir­it when your “col­lec­tion” (that grows slow­er than a sloth’s lunch hour) is real­ly noth­ing to be proud about.

Oh, how I love fanart

My first con­tact with a “real” ani­me fan­dom was way back when — the day where I first dis­cov­ered inter­net forums and com­mu­ni­ties. This was dur­ing my obses­sion with the Poke­mon fran­chise (the inner work­ings of which I had a creep­i­ly suf­f­i­cent knowl­edge about), so nat­u­ral­ly the first inter­net forum I joined was a Poke­mon forum that also had an active dis­cus­sion board about oth­er ani­me and man­ga series.

Even­tu­al­ly, all my pas­sion cul­mi­nat­ed in the blog you all are read­ing right now, born towards the end of mid­dle school dur­ing 2007 (at that point, I nev­er let any­one on the net know my real age due to the fear of age dis­crim­i­na­tion). Inspired by blogs like Memen­to (RIP), my main goal was to have a place where I can write my opin­ions about Japan­ese enter­tain­ment, main­ly anime/manga, and incite dis­cus­sion about top­ics stem­ming from the side of my head that soci­ety deems “geeky” — a place where my voice seems like the loud­est, even if The Otaku Spot is actu­al­ly just a small speck in the giant vir­tu­al uni­verse we call the inter­net. There have been plen­ty of times where it’s been on “life sup­port” due to real life issues (AKA HIATUS CENTRAL), result­ing in loss of read­er­ship (you know it’s bad when you go from get­ting 40+ com­ments on a short post about CLANNAD’s end­ing theme and a juve­nile rant about School Days to get­ting an aver­age of 0–6 com­ments on reg­u­lar posts). Nev­er­the­less, my inspi­ra­tion to write ani­me is as strong as ever, and this blog will nev­er die as long as I still love Japan­ese enter­tain­ment. I’ve got­ten to talk to fine peo­ple such as Ori­on of the now-defunct Epic Win blog and CCYoshi of the also-defunct Mega Megane Moe blog, so I would say that join­ing the ani­me blo­gos­phere has been an enrich­ing expe­ri­ence.

I’m sure my friend Daniel agrees, since he was absolute­ly esta­t­ic when his favorite visu­al nov­el blog­ger (who I also think is awe­some), bluemist, actu­al­ly com­ment­ed on his first Da Capo III post. Becom­ing a guest writer on my oth­er­wise per­son­al blog was a good idea, was­n’t it, my Cana­di­an friend? ;P You nev­er know who is going to read your writ­ing, so it inspires putting some qual­i­ty and enter­tain­ment into it regard­less!

Any­how, regard­less of what the ani­me and man­ga indus­tries would have you believe, the inter­net actu­al­ly helps these medi­ums and their fan­doms, as well as oth­ers. I’d def­i­nite­ly say that the inter­net has con­tributed pos­i­tive­ly to a lot of my hob­bies. Ani­me and man­ga, espe­cial­ly. It’s cer­tain­ly a fact that look­ing for new titles would­n’t be as easy with­out the vir­tu­al library known as the web, and com­mu­ni­ties ded­i­cat­ed to these hob­bies would­n’t be as big as they are with­out the help of the inter­net. It’s where word of mouth is the loud­est, and thus the word gets out faster, con­tribut­ing a lot to the growth and inter­est of the ani­me fan­dom. It cer­tain­ly con­tributed to my iden­ti­ty as an ani­me fan — all the mp3s, video clips, dis­cus­sion, dig­i­tal fanart/scans, and con­stant surge of new infor­ma­tion cer­tain­ly helped keep my fond­ness of anime/manga and helped it grow. I prob­a­bly would­n’t have bought my The Melan­choly of Haruhi Suzu­miya boxset, Full­met­al Alchemist DVDs, Card­cap­tor Saku­ra DVDs, and var­i­ous oth­er prod­ucts if it had­n’t.

Hope you enjoyed my text bab­ble… because I cer­tain­ly did. ;P To fur­ther my point, I don’t ram­ble this much in real life. If I did, it cer­tain­ly would­n’t be as con­cise. Also, kudos to Yume­ka for once again inspir­ing me to exer­cise my brain with her well-thought out posts! xD

Still the best

3 thoughts on “RE: The roots of our fandom

  1. I’m glad my post inspired you to write your own! ^-^

    The dub of Card­cap­tor Saku­ra (I should say Card­cap­tors) was also part of my start into ani­me, and I did­n’t know how ter­ri­ble it actu­al­ly was until I bought a copy of the uncen­sored, sub­ti­tled episodes on VHS and saw what was changed. I then found a web site that list­ed every­thing that was dif­fer­ent between dub and sub, and I became much more wary of that kind of stuff in ani­me from then on (luck­i­ly it’s not much of a prob­lem in recent years).

    And you were only in kinder­garten when Poke­mon came out? That makes me feel old XD

    That’s awe­some that you’ve man­aged to keep up this blog for so long despite hav­ing to go on hia­tus some­times. I do recall see­ing your blog list­ed on Ani­me Nano not long after I first joined.

    Any­way, keep up the good work and I hope we’re both still hang­ing around the blog­sphere for years to come =)

    1. lol Need­less to say, it was a total down­er for me when I first found out that sev­er­al of my child­hood shows were com­plete mas­sacres of their orig­i­nal ver­sions, or at the very least, con­tained need­less alter­na­tions. I’m very glad that ani­me dubs today usu­al­ly has fans wor­ry­ing about the voice act­ing, because back then there was much more to wor­ry about.
      If you go by Japan­ese release dates, you might feel even old­er — I was only three when Red and Green came out! xD
      Ah, those must be the days when my blog was host­ed on Blog­ger. Man, those were good times. I sort of regret delet­ing my Google acount that was con­nect­ed to that, because if I had the chance, I’d bring that back just to archive the mem­o­ries of the old lay­out.
      I remem­ber fol­low­ing your blog not long after you announced it on your web page. Did­n’t real­ize it has been this long. xD Well, to the years to come!

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