#30: Josh D

Age: 25

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. I liked anime before I knew it was anime. Watching Dragon Ball Z Sunday mornings before it hit Toonami, then moving on to Adult Swim. My fandom really grew from raids to my local video store before I started podcasting in 2009.

Can you elaborate? What defined something as anime to you later? So my comment, “I liked anime before I knew it was anime,” is mostly referring to reruns of Speed Racer or Gaiking that I saw in Motel 8s I stayed at as a kid when my family and I were moving cross country. But then there were shows like Dragon Ball, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Rurouni Kenshin when I started to realize that these shows were from a different country. It wasn’t until I hit Inuyasha that I started to realize that all these shows were recognized as ‘anime’.

What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? The sense of atmosphere. A lot of the shows I was watching (Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, Inuyasha) had a distinctive Japanese air to them. That familiar sort of otherness has been a major pull for me.

“That familiar sort of otherness.” What characterizes that feeling? There seems to be a certain sort of melancholy in Japanese culture that permeates throughout anime and Japanese media in general, actually. When I was younger, I gravitated to this idea that what made things beautiful was the fact that they were finite and didn’t last forever. Growing up with this mentality, a lot of the imagery you see in anime really struck a chord with me. Now I understand that what I was so attracted to was the representation of the concept of mujo [the Japanese aesthetic of impermanence], and even though I didn’t logically understand it at the time, it resonated with me on an emotional level.

What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? Maybe YuGiOh or Dragon Ball Z. Hard telling, especially when you consider Pokemon was still in full swing.

What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? I didn’t even realize it was a fandom, it was just a friend and I.

How did you and this friend bond over anime? Who liked it first? I was definitely the anime fan first. It was kinda a moment in time for him, but it stuck with me. Our bond was getting away with watching shows that were way too adult for us.

Today, we’re friends on Facebook and such, but we don’t really talk to one another. His family ended up moving away. It’s been years since I’ve seen him. He probably still thinks of anime fondly, but I highly doubt he seeks it out.

“Too adult?” The first show that springs to mind was a goody by the name of Doomed Megalopolis. Some of the images I saw from that still haunt me, and I say that unironically. Part of me wonders if it’s really as bad as I recall… Another was the original Vampire Hunter D, might have been a few other older 80’s OVAs that kinda blend together at this point. It was more stuff our parent’s didn’t want us watching, but there were some gems in there so it wasn’t all naughty: The Escaflowne and Ah! My Goddess films, as well as Char’s Counterattack (not knowing what Gundam even was!), some Inuyasha movies as well.

How did you become aware of the presence of other fans aside from you two? I joined an internet video game forum which had a fairly prevalent anime sub-community. At the time I was passionate enough to start a gaming podcast, but I couldn’t keep up with all the new games financially. I didn’t want to quit podcasting, and anime was free with a fast enough internet connection. So thus I started my first anime podcast and got wrapped up in podcasting where I met a lot of folks through Twitter who listened to the show.

What forum was that? The forum that I went to has since died then come back in various forms, I would have to track it down to see if it I could even find it to be honest…

Is your first anime podcast still up? Do you have a link? My first podcast is still up… and it’s kind of an embarrassing secret to be honest! I mean, I was doing it in high school, so there’s a lot of face palming that goes on when I listening to it as an adult. I took everything I know from Mike Dent’s Friday ACE, one of the best anime podcasts to grace iTunes in my opinion. But I probably won’t link it unless pressured, I feel super embarrassed, but if you search hard enough… it is out there lol

How did you go from consumer of anime to creator of podcasts and other things? For me, it’s hard to simply enjoy something. If I enjoy a product, I seek out others who also enjoy it, and from there I feel a need to produce content as a form of homage and to deepen the bonds I’ve made. It feels good when you write and article or record a podcast and see other people enjoy it. It feels even better when your friends enjoy it!

That’s why I created Wave Motion Cannon. I really value the whole idea of giving back to the community, and that’s what I try to do with the content I create.

Can you tell me what interacting with Wave Motion Cannon readers has taught you about the newest generation of anime fans? The longer I participate in the blogger/podcaster circle, the more and more I realize that I am less of a casual fan than I realize. However, I feel WMC attracts fans who are more than casual, maybe part of what we do causes them to be a tad less casual (which I suppose is kinda the goal of all bloggers to some degree). The type of folks that look for analysis tend to be less casual than you standard fare by design, so perhaps that’s at work?

However, funnily enough, I have more interactions with the new generation of anime fans at work than anywhere else! And the best part is that they have no idea that I love anime as much as I do, let alone that I run a blog. I have had grown men over 35 puff out their chest and proclaim they were learning Japanese to watch anime without subtitles, and 20-somethings walk in with tattoos of Miyazaki characters. One guy tried to convince me to watch Berserk, even taking it as far as to do a Google image search on a work computer! One gal said she drew hentai and I had to pretend I didn’t know what it was (usually saying something like “you mean Chinese cartoons?” throws them off your trail). So to me, this is the exact fandom I saw 10+ years ago, just the faces change. hell, they’re still going on about the same shows: Berserk, Death Note, Fairy Tail, etc. It feels weird to interview the lead animator for Naruto on the weekend only to go into work saying I have not idea what any of it is while promoting WMC tweets on my phone simultaneously.

What do you do for a living and why do you hide your fandom at work? I work as a systems trainer in the corporate office of medical information company. The main reason I hide my fandom is due to the stigma that still surrounds anime fandom, a stigma that is fueled in part by the very same people I hide my fandom from. A lot of the fans in my own workplace are a tad on the socially awkward side to the point they are numb to the embarrassment, which is kinda harsh to say, but it’s true. That’s one thing that has not changed over the years, anime fandom is still in a ghetto in many ways.

What’s the biggest contrast between anime fandom when you got into it and now? I feel like fandom now is better than it’s ever been. We have access to so much content (both official and fan created) that there’s something for every fan to enjoy. So many shows are available 24/7, and best of all there is a viable way to actually pay for what we consume. The convention scene has advanced a lot from years past as well, as we get better guests and panels.

Just overall, the fact that that we’re having this conversation, the fact that you’ve started this project means that the anime community has developed into something phenomenal. None of this was possible over 10 years ago, and we’re doing it now!

Josh can be reached on Twitter

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