Location: New Zealand
When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. Well, depends how you describe “discover.” I of course watched Pokemon, YuGiOh!, Gundam, Naruto and other mainstream anime, but when I got into it seriously and began critically thinking about it was in 2015, my parents were on a holiday, I had a house all to myself and restarted with Soul Eater.
Well there’s also RWBY if you wanna count that.
What resonated with you about Soul Eater? What does “critically thinking” about anime mean to you? I’d always been interested in anime, but mostly in Pokemon and Naruto. After my parents disapproved of my watching Naruto, I kind of stopped for a while, mostly out a shame for all the shonen tropes. But when they were out of the house for a week and I had the whole week to do whatever I want, I decided I wanted to get back into anime. I’d learned about Soul Eater with a friend I’d met online in a community about RWBY (Which means RWBY is potentially the reason I write about anime). As for the critically thinking part, I didn’t just want to watch long-running shonen any more, but I wanted to watch anime that could be considered artistic in its own way. I did eventually write about Soul Eater, in what I consider to be one of the edgiest posts I’ve ever written.
Why did your parents disapprove of Naruto? The violence, mostly. I remember I watched it once when every one was in the main room and they said they didn’t want me watching it any more because of the violence. Also the fanservice. They still dislike me watching it. (The amount of time I spent to get a license was blamed on all the anime I watched). But they mostly put up with it, as I tend to keep my hobbies to myself.
What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? It was something new and different. At the time I was home schooled and had just moved to a new country, so I didn’t have that many friends. Talking with people online about anime, something I liked and had a cool community that seemed to like me, was a big part of my life.
What country did you move from? What was your new town like? I moved from Australia, where I lived the first 15 years of my life, to New Zealand just after my 15th birthday.
It was tiny. I went from Perth, where the shops were close and anything you wanted to do was within walking distance to a town where there was only one shop that closed at 2pm at the latest. The next town was half an hour away through sharp bends and high hills. It was designed for trucks, not walking. The town also had no one else my age in it, which is why I suspect I spent so much time watching anime.
First you talked with friends online about anime. Did you eventually meet other anime fans in person? Yes and no. There was no one at school who watched it with the passion I did, but I did manage to convince one of my friends to watch some of the more action packed series like Hellsing Ultimate and Black Lagoon, and he eventually got into it. A few others also watched Space Dandy (dubbed, the heretics), but I don’t know if they watched any other series. I started university this year and joined the anime club, but my natural shyness, tests and assignments (Engineering student >.<), and disinterest with the shows they were watching made me stop going. However, one guy at my dorm enjoys it, and another reads Berserk, so I have some people to discuss it with in real life. Continuing the trend I started at school, most of my friends dislike anime, but they have to deal with me.
Do you remember your first convention? What was it, and what was it like?Kind of? I’ve never been to a full on anime con, but the anime sections of the cons I’ve been to—Supernova and Armageddon—have always been fun.
I haven’t been to Supernova since I was 12, so I don’t really remember it. But in Armageddon there was a decent section of anime in the main area, with Gunpla, Fate/Stay Night figurines, popular manga, and smaller, slightly more niche shops (ex: one that sold dakimakura) hidden away from the front.
How did you participate in fandom online? Did you write on forums, or blog, or draw fan art, or something? I can’t draw to save my life, so I write about anime with conviction. I took a writing paper for my first semester of university, and I wrote a 2,500 word research essay into why people watch hentai, going 500 words over the limit. However my lecturer loved it, saying that some of the material I was getting into was postgraduate level and I had natural talent for more journalistic writing. I conducted a survey online, and got a lot of support and responses to pursuing this topic even further.
What’s the biggest change between how you participated in fandom then and how you participate in fandom now? I suppose I’m more active on anitwitter in a way, being active in the community of the site I write for, Fighting For Nippon. I’ve also started to get my own ideas of things I would like to write about. As I said above, the sheer volume of responses I got in response to my hentai survey makes me want to take it much further, as I could not find any real writing on the topic that was from a fans perspective, as opposed to a university professor. Gotta get known as a writer somehow, right?
Jackson can be reached on Twitter.