anime link of the day
In the rant space accompanying yesterday's MegaTokyo comic, Piro revealed that his first exposure to anime was remarkably similar to mine:
People sometimes ask me what my first 'anime' was. Truth be told, it was probably something like Speed Racer or Star Blazers when I was a kid, but to me that doesn't really count. The first 'anime' I ever watched was in the form of two VHS tapes rented from a local video store, things I rented because I was bored and I wasn't really sure what to expect. 'Project A-ko' and 'Urusai Yatsura' volume 1. It wasn't really these tapes the led to my downfall, but a small advertisement at the end of the Urusai Yatsura tape promoting a show called Kimagure Orange Road. That small bit of tape was enough to start me on the long downward spiral.
Funny thing is, these shows that I liked so much had existed for years, yet because I didn't know they existed, I didn't have a chance to find out about them until much later. Often we are separated from the things we enjoy experiencing not by lack of access, but lack of information. How many things have you enjoyed recently that may have existed and been available for months or even years? It all comes down to knowing about things.
Compared to when I first started collecting anime (just before AOL connected itself to the Internet, if that tells you anything) I just have one thing to say - you people are friggin SPOILED. :P Nevermind digisubs and the ability to watch fansubs of shows often less than a week after they air in Japan (fansubs used to not surface until months after a show first aired) just the selection of Anime DVDs to choose from today is mind boggling. When I started collecting, the anime section of the Suncoast was one small rack of about 30 tapes. Next time you feel like whining that the next DVD in some favorite series you are watching wont come out for another month - waaah, suck it up. :P
...not that it's all that shocking; Piro and I are roughly the same age, and that's pretty much what was available back in the late '80s/early '90s. As I mentioned in my "five questions" the other day, Project A-ko was one of the first touchstones in my college-era rediscovery of anime. I also found Kimagure Orange Road, not through a preview but because the local video store stocked the OAVs. I think I'd seen it mentioned in the online anime pocket guide. In any case, I checked out pretty much everything the local indie video store had, which wasn't much (no Urusei Yatsura, for example; in some ways, my knowledge of old-skool anime has some major gaps. I still haven't seen an episode of that series).
Project A-ko was fun -- super-powered high school girls and giant robots. Bubblegum Crisis was darker and more edgy, with some great battlesuit mecha action. KOR, though, gave me a different perspective on what anime could be. A romantic comedy, it also featured super powers of a sort -- the protagonist, Kyosuke, comes from a family of psychics who must conceal their abilities. But it's mostly about the classic romantic entanglement, a love triangle. Kysouke is smitten by the proud and unruly Madoka, but he's too hesitant -- and intimadated -- to be direct with her about it. Madoka's best friend Hikaru is in love with Kyosuke and appoints herself his girlfriend. Madoka shares Kyosuke's feelings, but is too proud to let down her guard, and doesn't want to hurt her friend's feelings. And to top it all off, the indecisive Kyosuke also likes Hikaru to some degree; when he feels discouraged about his chances for wooing Madoka, he feels that dating Hikaru wouldn't be so bad. Kimagure Orange Road was one of the first series to present something other than the fighting robot style of anime I'd becomed accustomed to (another was the superb and sweet Oh! My Goddess!).
Piro's point about information is also well taken. As I indicated, the vast amount of information on the Internet really led to the explosion of my interest in anime. And the amount of information available now is truly astounding. I was never much into fansubbed VHS, but I have a number of digisubs. It's incredible, being able to watch brand-new stuff (or being able to watch stuff I already have on VHS or DVD in a more portable format -- as is my philosophy with MP3s, I see nothing wrong with having a copy of something I've already paid for. I could make the copy myself; the digisubber simply saves me the trouble, and if he or she is willing to do so for free, who am I to argue?).
Piro also has some DVD recommendations; I can second his approval of the Fruits Basket series. And yes, I wish AnimEigo would release the KOR OAVs on DVD as well...my tapes are starting to wear a bit thin.