#16: Gary M

Age: 18

Location: Canberra, Australia

When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. Back in 2011 or 2012, I was given a copy of Hyper Magazine [an Australian video game magazine] and the back cover was dedicated to anime reviews. This issue had come with a DVD with a two-episode sampler of High School of the Dead as well as a couple of trailers.

I had also been a big fan of the One Piece manga without knowing that it was related to anime for a couple of years by this point.

What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? Well at first it was violence and tits, but in the series shortly after discovering it, I found that there were cool stories When I was 12, I discovered Deltora Quest and enjoyed it for this reason.

What did you think about High School of the Dead? How was it different than anything else you’d seen? I thought High School of the Dead was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Mostly because of the ecchi elements of it, but also the fusion with the action oriented elements of the series. Nothing that I had seen before it had looked or sounded like this show, nothing had a similar subject matter and nothing had shocked me as much as when I saw that first episode. It was really surprising to me to see it as something that could exist and that I had never heard of something like it.

What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? I think at the time it was Blue Exorcist.

What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? In the area I lived at the time (a small town in the countryside), I was the only person who was watching anime online. Other people around me were watching whatever the local DVD store had or what was on TV (mostly 4Kids).

How did you connect with other fans?  For a while, I didn’t. But eventually I found the forums of the sites that I was using to stream and this was in a period where I had extremely inconsistent Internet speeds, so on weekends or after school I would lay on my bed and just refresh the tab the forum was in while I waited for the episode to load in another tab. Eventually I found out about 4chan and I started using that as my main contact with other anime fans.

What was fandom like online? Were there certain sites people who were into anime congregated at? From my memory, the only places people were really talking about anime where 4chan and YouTube. I do remember some shows having their own forums or having a discussion section on their wiki. The fandom surrounding anime was really fractured from the way I remember it. People would stick to the things they liked and not really branch out that much.

What was the first anime-related purchase you made, and how much did it cost? Excluding things like YuGiOh and Pokemon cards, it would have been a figure of Charlotte Dunois from Infinite Stratos. She was wearing her piloting suit. It was a Sega Arcade figure so it was really low quality—I think it cost like $10 [Australian dollars] + shipping from AmiAmi.

Do you remember your first anime convention? It would have been Gammacon 2014. It was on the second floor of a hotel. It was more of a split between anime and gaming, not just an anime con. There was a small merchant area which had all these tables set up and it was mostly bootleg merchandise.

What’s the biggest contrast between anime fandom when you got into it and now? I think the community has become more focused on the here and now of anime. While there are still people who are talking about older works (especially in the academic research area), they are much less common and people are in a way forgetful of past anime. Back when I started getting into anime discussions I saw active discussion about Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, and I don’t see that kind of thing today.

Ultimately, I think I was lucky with the time I got into anime because it let me experience two generations of anime discussion and culture—the new stuff, plus the old stuff people were still discussing. Now I think the culture is more and more based around the transience of anime as entertainment.

Gary can be reached on Twitter and YouTube.

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