Saturday, May 15, 2021

Anime Landscape: Now And Then

Another editorial for you this time, I was in a severe rumination mood after I drank heavily from the last review, so I decided to do a somewhat EVOTIC style piece on one of my favorite things to watch, anime. What really kickstarted this for me is I was watching a reviewer unpack literal memories of different memorabilia and items of interest, and it did nothing but spark memories of a very specific niche genre. My utter love and fascination with anime stemmed from a very early age, I can't have been older than 4 or 5 when I started watching anime on this thing called Toonami on Cartoon Network, still my favorite channel ever. I watched that channel religiously every single day, and my cousins who were like 16 or 17 used to come down to my grandparents house and watch Dragonball Z with me. They explained basic plot because when I got into that we were into the Cell saga, but they also told me that these cartoons were not from America but from a place called Japan. And to a 4 year old the concept of a place bigger than my hometown was beyond my comprehension, but I never took the animation style or voice acting differently than I would with shows like Powerpuff Girls or Scooby-Doo. I used to run as fast as I could to my bedroom, tell my Nan and Papa hi, throw my backpack down and turn on this giant television set incased in wood to watch Toonami after school everyday. If I was really lucky I could see the intro which I thought was the coolest intro to anything ever, and Tom was the coolest host ever. And boooooy did that start something for my life. As I grew up I found likeminded friends who also watched anime in the early 2000s, a true golden age for such content. Staying up as late as I could to see Adult Swim, having sleepovers and watching all our favorite series was the highlight of the day. Watching Ghost In The Shell, Case Closed, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, The Big O, Trigun, and easily the one me and my friends were most involved with, Inuyasha. It was the show for us and when I found out there were feature length films of the show like Pokemon I lost my mind. Cause you have to fully grasp, anime has come lightyears since my youth. The internet was still in it's infancy, if you wanted to delve deep into anime culture or see more examples of the genre, whether it be films, or shows, or games (hell I didn't even know about manga until high school) you either had to know places that selled episodes and merchandise, or know people who knew people where you could get different anime stuff. Nowadays I can walk into a Walmart and pick up shows as current as My Hero Academia or as old as Cowboy Bebop with ease. I knew two places that sold anime DVD's, a local video store and Fry's Electronics. And that shit was expensive. I can pick up the first season of a show or an entire show for about twenty dollars now, but if you wanted the first whole season of say Chobits you better be ready to cough up 50 or 60 bucks. Or you had to do it like me and spend roughly twenty dollars for 4 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist and do that for volume after volume to get the whole show. No joke that was the first anime show I not only owned but saw all the way through, cause the only way you could watch it is if it was on TV or you spent a pretty penny for it on video. And merchandise was nonexistent. Regardless of what it was, posters, statues, plushies, action figures, cosplay items, you had to either have the good grace and knowledge of having a website where you could buy stuff which was an absurd notion to me back then, or you pick up an anime magazine with a little luck from the gods at your local supermarket and they would have extensive lists, pages upon pages, of different items to order through the mail. I cut up a magazine like mad to keep the pictures inside or to give them to friends who saw it and thought it was cool during school. The landscape of being a fan of this genre has changed to the point of being unrecognizable now, I had bookmarks on the family computer of places that sold anime merchandise in middle school, and now I can get an entire show and cosplay apparel and find 20 websites where I can marathon Bleach without even getting off the couch. It has changed for the better but you really had to have been alive and interested in that stuff at that moment in time to fully get what I'm saying. Unless it was Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh, there was no way in hell you were getting anything in stores, and televison blocks were the only way to watch your favorites. All the premium movie channels like Encore and Starz were godsends to pre-teen Dude, to be able to watch Howl's Moving Castle and the second Inuyasha movie. Hell when Cartoon Network held a special month of Miyazaki's films that was a big deal back then, I think they possibly even showed it both subbed and dubbed. You had to dig in the right place, but if you fell asleep late at night before your show came on, totally me by the by, you were screwed. I had to rely on friends to fill me in on what happened last time on Dragonball Z (literally), or some other slew of shows at sleepovers, and had to wait sometimes a day sometimes until next week for the next episode. In a way it's all sort of lost it's sense of adventure, you had to bust your ass to find anyway to watch and enjoy this very niche market in America before it grew into an industry that is just as prolific and strong as any movie studio, but those experiences would last forever if only in memory. Funimation man, Funimation damn near single-handedly presented so many shows to me on a silver platter, captivating my imagination and made me always wanting more. I truly couldn't have been born at a better time for that culture, that fanbase, it crafted many good memories and I truly would not trade or change one bit of it. The fact that watching Toonami lasted well into my teens, that I would still be at my grandparent's house in my room and that I could turn my TV on Saturday night and digest show after show and wrap up by the time the sun slowly starts to rise, is incredible beyond words. How fitting is it, that you spend an entire night watching animation from Japan to wrap up by the time of the rising sun. Britain might have a strong place in my heart, but never forget who stole your heart first.

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