Location: Fort Worth, Texas
When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. The first anime I saw and knew it was anime was Sailor Moon. When I was in elementary school, I watched anime without knowing what it was. Then I got into middle school and could access the internet from the library. I remember my sister and I would pretend to be Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars all the time and ran around our backyard screaming about defeating Queen Beryl.
What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? I love the diverse storylines. For typical American cartoons, there wasn’t an actual storyline to each episode you watched, so you can watch them completely out of order—they were mostly one-offs. In anime, they are telling a continuous story. It was vastly different from other shows I saw growing up.
What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? I think the most recognizable anime is Pokemon.
What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? It was a bit hard to find other people interested in anime where I’m from, which is a small city in South Texas. Oddly enough, it wasn’t until I got into high school that I was able to find kindred spirits who were into anime as well. One of my friends introduced me to both manhwa [Korean comics] and manga during my sophomore year. It was a bit hard to participate in anime themed events since they were hours away from where I lived and no one around locally were passionate enough to start one. I am thankful that my siblings shared the same passion as I did so I could always rely on them for discussions and such. Considering where I lived growing up, my parents were completely okay with their children being into anime because we were busy buying YuGiOh! cards instead of becoming hoodlums. Several times, my mom has watched shows with us and it was always nice being able to discuss the latest episode with her over coffee each morning.
Are your siblings still into anime? What about your mom? Two of my four siblings share the same passion for anime and Japanese culture as I do. I believe us three were introduced to anime around the same time. We are super close so while growing up, we all watched the same things together, meaning my brother, Joe, also watched Sailor Moon with my sister and I, and my sister and I would join him for Dragon Ball Z. When my brother was in elementary school, he had a monstrous love for Godzilla so my siblings and I spent a lot of our afternoons watching old Godzilla films that had horrible (oooorrrr some dare say fantastic) voiceovers.
Would also love to know what kinds of things your mom would say about anime over coffee (and which anime)! A lot of the time my mom had trouble distinguishing who was male or female in the shows. For the longest time, she believed that Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin was a girl which we had to always correct her on. She also had problems pronouncing Inuyasha and would instead say, “EE-no-washa”, but she had no problems saying Sesshoumaru, which to her was “best boy” in her eyes. I know it’s a little sappy, but it’s rather fantastic having a parent who shares the same interests as you and encourages you to keep at it. She is one of the driving forces behind creating Yatta-Tachi. She told me that it would be completely natural for me to do something like that and knew I would be successful and so here we are!
What was it like meeting other fans in high school for the first time? Meeting people who shared a similar interest in anime was rather …odd? I didn’t have cable when Trigun, Outlaw Star, and Cowboy Bebop were airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, so most of the time that’s what they were interested in. There were some were more into hentai, but there were a couple that I was able to exchange VHS tapes or manga with. Actually, during that time, I was also getting into playing YuGiOh! so we would host our own mini-tournaments at school.
Can you tell me about your first convention? The first convention I went was RealmsCon, which was back in 2008. Back then, I didn’t know too much about conventions, but my friend, Sam, went to RealmsCon every year and had me tag along with her. The convention took place in Corpus Christi, Texas, which was 2 hours away from my hometown, Harlingen. There were a lot of firsts during that trip: first time going on a trip without my family, the first time being able to finally immerse myself into the fandom, and the first time getting severe food poisoning, which knocked me out the first & second day of the convention. Compared to conventions I go to now, this convention was ridiculously tiny and took place in a Holiday Inn with artist alley was part of the main hallway of the hotel. I don’t remember doing too much during the convention other than raving every night until 4 am, food poisoning and getting my Haruhi Suzumiya shoulder bag which I still have today!
What was the first fandom you REALLY got into? Like creating fan works, buying stuff, etc. SAILOR. MOON. I was disgustingly obsessed with Sailor Moon growing up. In middle school, I usually to spend all my free time printing out images and translated lyrics of the songs so I could teach myself Japanese (yes, I was such a weeb back then). I use to draw Sailor Moon on EVERYTHING such as book covers, school chalkboards, on my hand and use to have a spiral notebook filled with drawings. At one point, I TRIED to make my own scouts but that never worked. Back when floppy disks were a thing, I had the song, “Power of Love” saved onto it so I could listen to it while I was browsing the internet at school.
Tell me about creating Yatta-Tachi. Is it your first anime site? How did your fandom change when you became a creator of fan works as well as a consumer of them? Yatta-Tachi wasn’t the first site I created that had to do with anime and Japanese culture. Back in college, I had an MP3 rotation site where every month I would post anime songs that I was into at the moment. Yes, stupid and very illegal. I also use to do forum signature banners for friends as well. During high school, I use to create mock website designs using Netscape and fill it with animated sprites of Sailor Moon and DBZ characters but I was cool like that. My maturity has evolved rapidly once I started learning more about the industry. Before I knew better, I was an ex-pirate who didn’t give a crap about watching shows legally because honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind what I was doing was damaging to the anime industry. Boy, if I could go back in time, I would have some rather strong words to say to myself.
What’s the biggest contrast between anime fandom when you got into it and now? The main contrast between fandom then and fandom now is how it’s stupidly easy to watch anime now. If young fans now knew of the struggles it was for us to get anime, I think there would be less whiny about paying a few bucks to watch shows legally on sites like Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Anime is starting to become mainstream which means it will only become easier and easier to watch the shows. Honestly, the college version of me would have had a heyday and probably waste my life away binge watching so many shows, going to conventions, meet-ups and MOVIE SCREENINGS (which didn’t exist for me living in Smalltown, USA)!
Katy can be reached on Twitter.