After reading Yumeka’s blog post on different generations of the US anime fandom, it would be interesting to tell my experiences of Anime when I first started in the nineties in full detail instead in a small paragraph…
From the nineties, things were a lot different compared to what Anime fans have now such as easily accessible fansubs, fast Internet connections, streaming, and cheap boxsets. Anime was hard to obtain and can only be watched from limited sources from television or VHS. Since the topic is relevant, I will show you my experiences on how Anime was like back in the nineties to the present.
Note: Fanart used in this post is made by 米
In the mid nineties, I have experienced my first hand experience of Animation from Japan. Miyasaki’s films, My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery was my first experiences with Japanese Animation in my childhood. I never thought about the origination of these films since I couldn’t realize it. My further venture into Anime made me find out that these films are actually from Japan. It will be the same when I find other Anime to watch on television.
In my childhood, I did not have access to cable television or even the Internet. The only way I can watch Anime is to wake up early on weekdays since they air them at 6 AM or on Saturday morning on KidsWB. This is how I watch shows like Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura. The anime that aired at the time were heavily edited mainly because of FCC regulations and differences in cultural values in the nineties. Even the VHS tapes contained heavily edited content. It was nearly impossible to obtain an uncensored/unedited copy of the show, especially if the show comes from 4Kids. That’s right, 4Kids licensed and dubbed some/most of the shows back then along with other studios. The overall result did not look pretty… Scenes were cut out, partial nudity censored and stuff like Japanese Riceballs being referred as doughnuts in one of the infamous scenes in Pokemon. This is a less of an issue in the 2000s when ideals become relaxed and fans shunning unnecessary edits.
Distribution of Anime in the nineties was a lot different. Sometimes, people complain about not having dubs in the show. These people should think about this: Most of the VHS releases only contained the dub with a few exceptions. There were some titles that had an option for a subbed VHS, but it often costs more than the dubbed copy. Not to mention, fansubs were hard to obtain since you have to know the person who subs them and have them snail mail the VH tape to you. There was no high speed internet or efficient video codecs back then, so VHS trading was their only choice for fans to watch a series that was currently being aired in Japan. It was a long and frustrating process, but it was worth it. Not to mention, I still own VHS tapes of Pokemon (plus the first two movies), two of Miyasaki’s films and a Sailor Moon movie…
In the early 2000s, I got sucked in the Yugioh fad and I watched it along with Pokemon. Eventually, I got bored of it and dropped the show. Also in the early 2000s, I made a Pokemon fan site, but neither of them lasted long nor exists anymore. The sites were fun to make, but they were messy compared to my blog you see today…
In the summer of 2004, my parents finally obtain a DSL connection, thus giving me high speed Internet access. This allowed me to experience the Japanese side of Pokemon with subbed episodes/movies and Japanese music. The discovery of easily subbed episodes and music made it possible to bypass the English dub, which was regarded as being mediocre since 4Kids was notorious for Americanizing Anime. This became more important when Pokemon USA decided to change the English voice actors, which sounded like their first time voicing a cartoon show. High speed Internet revolutionized everything including Anime. That trend continued until senior year of High School when I was under pressure in trying to get into a college. As a result, I stopped watching anime and was out of the Anime Fandom for months.
However, my freshman year of college changed that trend. One day, I discovered Suzumiya Haruhi and I started to watch it. After watching a few episodes of the show, I actually enjoyed it more than Pokemon. I continued on with Lucky Star, Kanon and Clannad. After being amazed from these shows, I knew that my tastes for Anime have evolved into something better. I gained interest in the comedy, drama, slice of life and romance genre and I was no longer interested in the typical shouen anime anymore. This remains true today in my watching of new and old anime titles.
Even though I am a long time Anime Fan, I am by no means an elitist and think that the old Anime is better than the newer anime. Lastly, I don’t get excited over everything the American Anime Industry does like some newer fans. I only care about the content that the industry puts out, nothing else. Besides, I’m rather optimistic on what the future will give us. As long there is an Anime series that is good and enjoyable out there, I will still be watching.
This ends my ever-continuing experiences of Anime. Feel free to share your own experiences and stories on how you started to watch Anime and such.