I assume many of you are not familiar with me. I will use this post to introduce myself and give you a quick glimpse into my fractured, sordid past.
As I drove home after partying hard to ring in 2011, speeding along the rain-slicked Highway 101, my iPod began to play Crystal King’s Ai Wo Torimodose. When that came up, I was reminded of the fact that this day would mark the 21st year I had been formally introduced to anime.
Yes. I’ve been watching this bug-eyed seizure-inducing tentacle-slime-covering nonsense for over two decades now. That’s longer than many anime fans have been alive.
It all started in 1990. The 49ers were in the playoffs, Steven Q. Urkel had just been formally introduced to the world just a couple of weeks prior on ABC’S TGIF, and George H.W. Bush had declared the Cold War over. A family friend had come over that year with three tapes in hand. The first two tapes were of Ranma 1/2 and Dragon Ball Z, both directly recorded from Japanese TV (where I was also formaly introduced to wacky ass Japanese commercials, like girls doing aerobics to promote sugary Glico sweets and models standing against a backdrop for fifteen seconds while a narrator promoted Maxell VHS tapes). The third was an original VHS copy of the Hokuto no Ken movie, complete with Akira Kamiya’s yelps of fury and Kodomo Band’s Heart of Madness, one of the best songs ever written. Okay, that’s an exaggeration – this one is.
In any event, between the copious amounts of spilled blood and the curious nature of Ranma Saotome (is he a tranny or hermaphrodite?), I was shown something far different from the American cartoons of the 80s. Blood! High octane action! Tits! Et cetra! And thus anime became ingrained into my life at an early age. No wonder I’m socially awkward as hell.
This family friend would come by on occasion with tapes in tow, many of them from his buddy who headed his own fansub group and went as far as to purchase the LaserDiscs from Japan in order to have the highest quality video available (how times have changed). Record of Lodoss War, Giant Robo, Gundam 0080…how could you not fall in love with those titles at ages 7, 8, 9? The love for these shows blossomed over the course of the 90s, which was also nurtured by the local PBS broadcaster KTEH airing episodes of Evangelion, Lain, Tenchi Muyo (before popping up, surprisingly, on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block) and All Purpose Cat Girl Nuku. Hell, I even found myself visiting Anime Expo ’93; I even kept a memento of that convention.
Forgive the scribbles on the cover – that one was courtesy of one of my seven gajillion cousins. At least, that’s who I’ll blame it on, anyway.
People need to take a look at this gem. It features summaries on the latest hit shows happening in Japan, from KO Beast Century to Moldiver. Editing handled by PMX Chairman Mike Tatsugawa and former Bandai Producer and current Square Enix marketing employee Charles McCarter! It’s even got an advertisement by L.A. Hero, one of the industry’s first domestic distributors, on the back!
Holy nyan nyan, Ranka! A live action Macross film? Can’t wait for that!
I’ll wrap this nostalgia trip by saying that I’ve seen this industry change a lot over the course of the past two decades, and while it’s had its ups and downs, I can’t help but keep watching, no matter how crappy the content might get. Have you tried watching M.D. Geist and M.D. Geist II: Geist Harder back to back? Phew. At least they never made those planned sequels M.D. Geist with a Vengeance and Live Free or Geist Hard. I find there’s always something interesting to watch in anime, as it’s a very flexible medium that explores all sorts of ideas. I expect to continue watching too, so long as there’s something interesting, and more importantly, good, to watch. Lately, that’s been…arguable.
But that’s another post for another time. For now, hey there. Good to meet you.