#63: Greg

Age: 24

Location: Baton Rouge

When did you discover anime?  I watched Pokemon as a kid, mainly just because I was a fan of the game franchise. I wasn’t so interested in the shonen action anime on Toonami, but I was somewhat interested in Spirited Away and other movies I saw at Blockbuster. I finally watched Spirited Away on Toonami in 2006 and saw Ponyo at the theater in 2009. During the summer of 2011, I was trying to get into more diverse cinema, so I made a point to watch the rest of Miyazaki’s films. I spent some of that next year watching other notable films like Akira and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time before deciding to watch some series. I referred to IGN’s Top 100 Animated Series list. Cowboy Bebop was #14, Evangelion was #10. I started with Cowboy Bebop because a friend had already suggested it, then FLCL because I saw it on Adult Swim and it looked interesting, then Eva.

Is that still up and if so, can I have a link? It is!  I actually thought it had been taken down, but it seems to be back in a new format.  The list is for all animated series, not anime specifically, and only shows that aired on American television were eligible.  For instance, The Simpsons was #1.  I started with Cowboy Bebop (#14) and moved to Evangelion (#10) partly because they were the highest ranking anime on the list and partly because they were the only anime on the list that I had never heard of.  The list also features Gundam Wing, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, and Death Note, shows that were popular on Toonami with my middle school friends.  I had some preconceived notions about the kinds of shows that aired on Toonami and was trying to avoid anything too popular, so I skipped past those.

What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? Anime seemed to be hitting a middle ground between “cartoons for kids” and “cartoons for adults” that American animation wasn’t attempting. I liked, with Eva in particular, that anime was being used to tell long-form stories with intimate character focus and was using film language in interesting ways. I also liked, for FLCL in particular, that anime could be “pervy” without being vulgar or crass the way a lot of Adult Swim’s original programming often is.

Can you elaborate with an example? I sort of regret my choice of words there, but what I meant is that, in Family Guy and other Western animated series for adult audiences, sex and sexuality mostly seemed to be used to set up crass humor. When FLCL and Evangelion dealt with sexual themes, they did so with what felt like a great deal more sensitivity and understanding. That may not be a fair comparison, but that was one of the more noticeable difference between the shows I watched before getting into anime and the shows I was discovering as I was getting into anime.

What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? I wasn’t paying much attention to what was popular at the time, but Sword Art Online was the new big simulcast in mid-2012.

What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? It was daunting discovering an entire medium and trying to learn everything I could about it. Also, I got into anime around the time that Bandai USA was dying, so it was very easy to find their licenses on YouTube.

Was the Internet a part of fandom at the time? I made no attempt to connect to other fans on the Internet for the first several years of my fandom. I mostly just listened to what critics were saying.

Which critics? I discovered Jacob Chapman‘s videos very early into my fandom.  Those videos helped me navigate an intimidating amount of content in order to find some gems.  I also enjoyed reading Anime News Network reviews by Carl Kimlinger and now read pretty much anything Nick Creamer writes.

Do you remember your first convention?  I went to a tiny convention called BayouCon in Lake Charles. I only went on the Sunday, and it was basically dead. The vendors were closing up shop, and the floor was quiet. The few people there were at a panel with an actor from Star Trek Voyager. There was a room showing episodes of a show I would later find out was Shiki.

What was the highlight of that con? Would you go back? I suppose one highlight of that first con was discovering the 2010 horror anime Shiki, which ended up becoming a favorite of mine when I finally watched it several years later.  I did go back to that con the next year, this time on a Saturday and with my brother.  We had a pretty good time.  He bought some Princess Mononoke art for his dorm room, and we sat in on Vic Mignogna’s panel.  I don’t know if I would go to a con again, at least not alone.  I don’t enjoy traveling or crowds.

For you, what’s the biggest difference between fandom for you then and now? I am actually involved with fandom now.  I’m a member of an anime Facebook group and have more recently started talking to people on Twitter, so I’m actually talking to other fans for the first time.  One thing that has definitely changed for me as a fan in the past year is that I have to do more to combat burnout.  I have to choose what shows I dedicate time to more carefully now and try to enjoy shows at my own pace rather than try to keep up with conversations.  It’s been a difficult process with a lot of trial and error.

Greg can be reached on Twitter

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