Location: London, England
When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. I remember deciding one day at 18 years old to read the first few volumes of Bleach in my school library. I then decided to watch the anime after looking it up online. I was aware of anime before but it was the first time I really looked into it and took an interest.
What about Bleach made you decide to give it a chance after previously not being interested in anime? Something about that artwork was really appealing to me, and I don’t just mean the eyes; the panelling and the general character design weren’t like anything I’d seen before.
What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? It was mainly a way for me get back into animation again, so it having such a unique style and direction compared to Western animation really piqued my interest. It was also appealing to see different cultural sensibilities at work that really hooked me in, especially when it comes to my favourite anime, Gintama.
You said anime appealed to you because it helped you “get back into animation.” What was it like when you were into animation the first time? What I mean is that when I was a kid, I would religiously watch Cartoon Network. All sorts of things happen in animation that can’t happen anywhere else, and I loved that. Then at 12 years old or so, I decided for some dumb reason that I was too old for cartoons so I just stopped watching them. Anime made me realise that I never stopped liking animation, so it was an ideal way to get back into animation.
What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? Attack on Titan. It had just started when I got into anime, so it was interesting to get into the fandom when there was a currently airing show that people thought was going to make anime more mainstream again.
What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? See previous answer, but yeah it was pretty exciting to be getting into a medium that felt like it was only getting more and more popular by the minute.
How did you connect with other fans? When I was nearly caught up with Gintama in 2013 I joined up with a fan site called Yorozuya Soul, and I still have friends I speak to on twitter from that site. It isn’t really active anymore, unfortunately.
Aside from actually watching shows, how did you participate in fandom? Besides checking fan sites and Tumblr pages, I only starting going to cons towards the end of 2014. London Comic-Con was my first. I don’t really buy all that much merchandise in all honesty outside of the occasional T-shirt and figure. Currently, I only have one figure—Gintoki in a Kamehameha pose, because it was too funny to pass and thankfully wasn’t too expensive.
What’s the biggest contrast between anime fandom when you got into it and now? Not a lot. I go through phases of what I decide to nerd out on, and currently I’m in an anime/manga phase, so I can’t really say if all that much has changed. However I can say,that the anime community on YouTube has expanded massively from 2013 till now. And that anime feels more prevalent in wider Western pop culture than it was in 2013, an example being the Arby’s Twitter account explicitly referencing Jojo recently.
So anime fandom is on-again off-again for you? What inspired your latest foray into the fandom? I find that any resurgence in my anime interest happens whenever the Gintama anime comes back, as that is my absolute favourite show period and I can always make time for it.
Hugh can be reached on Twitter.