Location: North Carolina
When did you discover anime? Share as much as you remember. I first “discovered” anime watching heavily edited Voltron on TV, plus Toonami runs in the early 2000s, but my first time seeing an anime and wanting to really get into the medium at large was a friend dragging me to our high school anime club’s first meeting. We watched episode 00 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.
What was the club like? The club was decently popular for the size of the school. At the start of each year we’d start with around 40 or so interested members, but usually by the end of the first term we would be down to around two-dozen core members. We originally met in the school’s library, but were moved to our (almost never present) advisor’s classroom after the Vice Principal caught us playing ecchi anime on the projector wall. I was a member for three years, but had to leave in my senior year to focus on classwork and extracurriculars for college applications.
What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? I’d always enjoyed cartoons, and anime was one of the first places I saw animation with a more structured, serialized approach to storytelling.
What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? In anime fandom I’m pretty sure it was Haruhi. In the world at large, Naruto.
What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? I only really started getting into online fandom years later, but my impression from the other anime club members and their stories is that it was a whole lot of expensive DVDs and roving bands of cosplayers doing the Hare Hare Yukai dance.
What was it like to be in online fandom when you joined it? My main online hangout around that time was actually Gaia online. I frequented their anime and music forums a lot. Outside of that I didn’t have a huge amount of contact with the online community outside of like, YouTube comment arguments.
Do you remember your first anime-related purchase? The first anime purchase I ever made was buying the first 3 DVD volumes of Serial Experiments Lain and a local used book/disc store. I’d watched the whole series online (on YouTube in nine-minute chunks XD) and fell in love with it, and when I found those discs I nearly had a heart attack since they had been out of print from Geneon for ages. Sadly I could never find the final volume.
Do you remember your first anime convention? My first and only anime convention was going to Animazement with some of the anime club members. It was only for the first day and I honestly don’t remember much besides holding the camera for the upperclassmen’s Hare Hare Yukai performance.
You only went to one? I’d like to go to an anime con again, but I’d like it to be one where I can meet up with online friends, and currently that’s not economically feasible. For what I’d do differently, I’d want to go the entire convention, and have a definitive idea of what panels, events, or guests I’d want to see. Basically do the con as it’s supposed to be instead of wandering around as a broke teenager with no idea what half of what I was seeing was.
What’s the biggest contrast between anime fandom when you got into it and now? The biggest contrast that stands out to me is how fast everything moves now. When I first found anime it seemed like one or two big shows would come out a year and that would be all anybody really talked about outside of staples like Naruto and One Piece. But now with simulcasts and seasonal viewing there’s almost always something new to talk about every month. It can be pretty exhausting at points =”D.
Today, you do some work for Anime News Network. Did you ever imagine anime becoming part of your identity in that way? Definitely not. I’d occasionally entertain the idea of submitting something when I first started watching seasonal anime, but until very recently I’d never had the nerve to submit or query anything like that.
Nick can be reached on Twitter.