I would like to propose a project. If you are reading this, there is a 99% chance that you watch anime, and I know that many of you have your own blogs. Since we all enjoy the same thing, I thought it would be nice for everyone to share their history regarding when/how they discovered anime, how it has become a part of their lives, and how they think it has changed since then. It can be as detailed or as short as you want, and it can be about anything anime-related such as: your favourite series, why you watch anime, difficulties in getting anime, collecting anime goodies, anime conventions, cosplaying, and drawing.
If you have a blog, simply write about your history with anime and send me the link. I will add your link to the list below and a new project page I created with links to everyone participating. If you have a banner you would like displayed, send that in too. In return, I simply ask for you to spread the word and link back to this post. If you don’t have a blog and would like to participate, worry not. Simply email me with your screen name and history, and I will create a page for you. I will also add links to any profile pages you may have (ie: Twitter, Youtube, MyAnimeList, MyFigureCollection). I look forward to reading everyone’s posts.
The list so far:
Nopy’s History With Anime:
If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll know that I love anime, but what got me started with this addiction? Like many anime fans my age in North America, my first encounter with anime was the original Dragon Ball series which aired for a short while in the mid 90’s before being cancelled due to poor ratings. Shortly after, Sailor Moon hit the airwaves and took the cartoon world by storm. I remember seeing newspaper articles describing the Sailor Moon phenomenon and finding Sailor Moon merchandise in every asian and toy store in the city. I was also swept along with the Sailor Moon craze. That cartoon (I didn’t know what anime was at the time) had everything: pretty characters, neat powers (at least to a kid), plenty of action, a bit of controversy, and a good story. In fact, I liked Sailor Moon so much that I spent whatever loose change I could find on the ground on Sailor Moon stickers, cards, temporary tattoos, and posters (loose change bought you a lot back then).
It was through Sailor Moon that I discovered what animewas. Before the 3rd grade, the world (to me) consisted of: Canada, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China. Japan? never heard of it, that is until I watched the first Sailor Moon movie in Japanese, which I suspect was a fansubbed bootleg of the Japanese VHS. My first experience with unedited anime totally blew me away, it was soooo much better than what was on TV because of the voice acting and the violence wasn’t censored out. That left me with the impression that cartoons called “anime” in this strange language called “Japanese” were way cooler than regular cartoons. This idea was cemented into my brain after I watched the subbed version of Rurouni Kenshin.
In the late 90’s, computers and the internet were really coming to the fore and my school started sticking big gray boxes in every classroom. The school had decided that computers were the way of the future, and to ensure that we were a part of that future, they taught us how to use a mouse, keyboard, Windows, Hotmail, and Yahoo. Armed with this knowledge, when my family got our first computers and internet connection, I started looking for ways to get a hold of more anime. This initially led me to anime download sites where I discovered series such as Kodomo no Omocha and To Heart. These sites were very simple to use, you just clicked on an episode, choose where to save the file, wait a day for it to download, and enjoy. The problem with these sites was that they were limited to series that the webmaster wanted to share. To get more anime I would have to turn elsewhere.
My search for a large anime repertoire led me to Direct Connect (DC), a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. Here I was actually able to meet people who also watched anime. It was through them that I heard about titles such as Evangelion, Ranma 1/2, and my all-time favourite anime Martian Successor Nadesico. DC was also what started me on collecting anime instead of deleting it after watching it. Some DC hubs only allowed people to enter if they were sharing a certain amount of relevant content so I had to gather as much anime as I could to get access to more. Considering I only had a 10GB hard drive at the time, I’m amazed I was able to gain access to hubs requiring 8GB of shared anime and still grab a few new episodes. After a year or two on DC I eventually spoke to someone who explained to me how to access the source of all online subbed anime.
Something I noticed about all the anime I downloaded was that there was always some text somewhere during the episode that went something like: #(name)@irc.aniverse.com
At first I thought it was a URL, but none of them worked when I typed them into the address bar. Searches on Yahoo turned up results that I didn’t understand at all. The person on DC explained that these were channels on something called IRC (internet relay chat), and that all of the anime I had been watching was translated and subbed by “fansub groups” which released their anime in these channels. Well, being a tween with all the time in the world in his hands, I decided to go check out this IRC thing. I actually remember the first time I joined an IRC channel; I asked “can someone tell me how to download anime from here?” and I got kicked and banned. That obviously wasn’t an anime channel. A bit of reading on some IRC how-to sites taught me how to change servers and join different channels and by the end of the day I had gotten my first episode. Ten years on, I’m still floating around IRC, but most of my anime now comes from torrents.
During my IRC phase I found out about new anime by making my rounds of all the major fansubbing groups at the time. There were no fancy lists or tables with the anime being aired in Japan so checking out what groups were releasing and chatting with people was the only way to find out what was coming out. All of this time spent checking out each of the groups also exposed me to the war between speedsubs and qualitysubs, which I’m sure some of you will know of.
I also started experimenting with AMVs since technology had improved and I could actually fit more than 8GB of anime on my computer. Surprisingly, even after 6 years, my AMVs are still available online here. Just a warning, these were made boy a teenage boy so they’re really sappy.
In the time I’ve been searching for and watching anime, I have seen numerous giants rise and fall. It wasn’t uncommon to visit a popular anime download site and find a message saying that they’ve exceeded their bandwidth and will be down for the rest of the month, sometimes just days after the month started. P2P programs like Kazaa grew too big for its own good and met the same fate as Napster. ADV, the indisputable king of anime companies in North America for nearly 2 decades collapsed and its remains were divided up. Even anime on IRC has seen major changes, from the great Aniverse crash that led to the mass exodus of fansub groups to other servers and the fall of fansub groups that everyone thought would be around forever. I have also watched as new fansub groups have popped up, anime is broadcast overseas the same time it’s broadcast in Japan, illegal streaming sites turned into legitimate anime distribution companies, and it has literally become possible for someone anywhere in the world to watch every anime that is being aired in Japan.
The different ways in which anime was made available has helped me discover different genres (other than action) and series that I would never have heard of. To Heart introduced me to the harem genre, which was highly appealing to a young teenage boy. That lead to romantic comedies like Love Hina, which I thoroughly enjoyed past high school. Romantic comedies naturally led to regular comedies like Yakitate Japan and slice-of-life series like Lucky Star. I also enjoyed various mecha series as the airing of Gundam on TV helped bump up the popularity of the genre. Eventually, I figured I had covered everything from action to romance to horror and even ero anime. I’ve come to love and hate just about every major genre of anime out there some time during my life.
Of course, nothing stays the same and that applies to anime as well. As time passes, new ideas are introduced which spark the creation of a new genre of anime. It’s been forever since I’ve heard anyone say an anime was “kawaii”, having seemingly been replaced with more hip “moe” anime. Series like Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt and Puella Magi Madoka Magica also help create new hybrid genres. Just a year ago, if you had mentioned mahou shoujo anime, who would’ve thought of little girls being devoured by a monster? The ever-evolving world of anime keeps me wanting more despite comments that “cartoons are for kids.”
As anime itself has changed over the years, and so has the merchandise associated with it. I can tell you that cards, stickers, and posters have been around for ages, but what about figures, pillow covers, and even “stress relief” toys? I didn’t even know about their existence until they started becoming popular within the last decade. In 2007, spurred on by the appearance of new figure manufacturers (which lead to more figures) and the advancement of figure quality, I bought my first anime figure: a 1/8 Haruhi Suzumiya from Max Factory. It turned out to be a bootleg, making my actual first figure a nendoroid Light Yagami, but I managed to get a real Haruhi a few months later.
My obsession with figures grew as I started visiting sites that dealt with anime figures. You can see the affects by taking a look at this photo which was taken while I was in high school, and the one below that, which was taken yesterday. I really should cut back…
A year after I bought my first figures, I decided to start this blog about anime and figures in order to share my thoughts and find other like-minded people. A month later, I made my first post on Megami Magazine and I liked it so much that I decided to add anime/bishoujo magazines as a regular part of this blog (ending up with a rather large collection of posters). In the few years that I have been blogging, I’ve met bloggers from around the world who all enjoy anime and/or figures, all of whom bring their own unique perspectives and personalities. Getting to know everyone is fun, and its always sad to see a fellow blogger or blog fall into long periods of inactivity before disappearing from the internet altogether.
Times really have changed since the day I watched my first anime. Gone are the days where you had to get your anime from a shady store selling VHS tapes or wait a whole day downloading an episode on a dial-up connection. Now it’s easier than ever to get your anime fix (legally too), and with more anime bloggers and all the social media out there, it’s not hard to find others that love anime as much as I do. Although the world of anime has changed drastically, the things that first drew me to it still remain the same. Pretty characters, neat powers, action, a bit of controversy, and a good story keeps me coming back for more even after all of these years.