Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. Probably around 1993? Here in Canada, we had the original Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon on the only national kids network at the time (YTV). I remember really getting into Dragon Ball and consequently after that Dragon Ball Z which I had to watch through a cable converter that my parents had at the time. From there I eventually was using paper route money to buy VHS of other series, along with the Pokémon explosion.
What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? Really it was the artwork I think, and the concepts. You’d never see a show as original as Dragon Ball was at the time on kids’ television in North America. A blend of humour and action all thrown together with interesting characters… that was something else all together.
What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? Definitely Sailor Moon in Canada. It was a huge thing for both boys and girls which was great. I liked it a fair bit, but we always got weird syndication issues here meaning it was a lot of re-runs and not new content. Eventually it became a lost interest as Pokémon came along, and Dragon Ball Z.
What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? If it wasn’t Pokémon… you were pretty isolated. I had one friend who was into anime other then me and introduced me to a ton of the great classics. Slayers, Slayers Next and Neon Genesis Evangelion are only a few of the things we managed to watch together (though in retrospect if his grandparents, who he lived with at the time, had known what on earth NGE was… well we’d never have seen that).
Tell me more about the friend who was more into anime than you. Did you bond because of anime? How did they get into anime? We definitely bonded because of anime. He was actually a home schooled individual for most of his life, so I didn’t ever really get a chance to hang out with him at school. As a result of this though, I’d walk over to his place after school and watch anime with him. We really didn’t have much in common aside from RPGs and anime honestly, so you could almost say it was the basis of our friendship. He got into anime himself because of other friends he had on the mainland. Not to bore you with a geographic limitation thing, but I was born on Prince Edward Island which at the time didn’t have any attachment to the mainland of Canada. The result of that was a really slow pickup of mainland things, this included anime VHS at the time, so we were limited to what was shown on TV really.
Did his grandparents ever find out about NGE or other shows you guys watched and have opinions? What did your family think about anime? Oh his grandparents knew that we watched things (usually they were the ones buying the VHS), but had absolutely no idea what we were watching in terms of the content. In retrospect NGE was definitely a bit much for a pre-teen/13-year-old as I had mentioned previously. But all they saw were the VHS box art, and it looked benign enough. My own family just sort of assumed they were cartoons in the traditional sense which I had always been really into since TMNT and Transformers back in the 80’s.
Did you stay a fan the whole time up until today? What kept your interest?
Yep! Proud to say I’ve been a big fan for 20 years at this point, though my interests have expanded just beyond anime itself naturally. I think what keeps my interest going right now is the stories and world building. There is something special about the worlds that anime and manga creators work on that wouldn’t feel right or as in place if it was done live-action style. Other then that, the animation and art style itself keeps me coming back too with a recent example being a series like ACCA (love those colours).
What was the first fandom you got really invested in? Easily DBZ because it was a bit more pronounced in my area. I got into addons to the anime itself pretty heavily and purchased TGC cards, VHS tapes and some models that were extremely marked up at local stores.
What’s the biggest contrast between anime fandom then and anime fandom today? Being around as long as I have I think what’s going on with anime fandom today isn’t so different from most other fandoms. Really intensity and access are at an all time high, and as a result you have people being pretty zealous about their fandoms. It’s something I don’t really agree with personally but I’m also getting older, so I’m not sure if it’s just my perception or if it’s reality.
What I mean when I say zealous about fandom there is a bigger or more vocal amount of arguing about Anime A being better then Anime B. There doesn’t really seem to be a limit on where a line is drawn when these comparisons are being made either. It’s almost as if the fandom fears that their preferred type of anime won’t get produced because there is a new type that has been seeing a rise in popularity in this cycle or something of the sort. I’ll never really understood that approach because we’re in a great spot right now with the amount of anime being produced. It keeps growing significantly and while there are always some clunkers in the bunch, the good stuff that has been made is really great!
Kris can be reached on Twitter.