When did you discover anime? I first discovered anime when I was a little kid. Anime was actually aired quite a lot back when I was young, even in local channels outside of cable.
The first anime I got into was Dragon Ball Z, specifically the episode where Goku first dies (really nice way for a kid to be introduced to something), DBZ’s hispanic dub didn’t have any censoring but my parents didn’t really care cause they just saw it as a cartoon (they did make sure to tell me not to imitate what I saw though).
After that I got into it through the usual anime like Pokemon and Digimon, but really anime was such a big part of my childhood, whether it was more shonen oriented things like Inuyasha, Yu Yu Hakusho and Gundam Wing or more kid friendly toy commercial brand anime like Medabots, Beyblade or Yu-Gi-Oh.
What appealed to you about anime when you first discovered it? I just liked how it was different from normal cartoons. I enjoy cartoons and the ones that aired when I was young (Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, and the like) were fun, but anime offered a different type of rush plus I loved how the stories had continuity and the characters went through different things.
Not gonna lie though, I liked the cool fights, transformations and all that shonen cheesiness those shows were known for, it was like I fell in love and I still love it to this day even though I’m more critical of them.
What would you say was the most popular anime at the time? Dragon Ball Z, by miles. Even people who don’t know about anime know about Dragon Ball Z to this day.
How did you learn that? Did somebody surprising bring up DBZ when you were a kid? It was mostly due to the fact that pretty much anyone who grew up in Venezuela at that time has heard about Dragon Ball. I’ve known people who have no interest in anime and even hate it but who absolutely love Dragon Ball. Most of the reason for that is that the series really aired everywhere over here and the merchandise spread even more.
What was it like to be a part of anime fandom at the time? It was normal I guess; every kid watched it’ cause it was on all the time, to the point they were like any other TV series so we’d just walk up to school and start talking about the last episode of Digimon or how Goku pulled out a new awesome (really weird now that I’m older) transformation or if Ash was going to win the League (ha ha ha ha).
Was the Internet a part of fandom at the time? Not really, I mean we were kids and it was at the time when the internet was just starting to pick up ( I remember my mom showed me how to use it when I was eight) so it was more a case of just talking about it in class and stuff.
Do you remember your first convention? I actually don’t, I think I was six.
You were SIX? Well it was actually more like a regional festival rather than a convention, back then all the anime that aired was so popular that you had all types of people dressing up as the characters for it since it was an event where people could wear costumes. I don’t remember much from it aside from the fact I got a Wargreymon action figure.
What was the first anime that you became a serious fan of? Hmmm the first anime that I can say I was hooked on for a long time was probably Naruto. I think I spent a month marathoning what was out of the show when I first discovered it and was hooked on it for years. Aside from that one I was really into Digimon and Gundam, but could never find anyone to talk to about it but when I first started watching I think I re-watched Gundam Seed (yes…even Gundam Seed Destiny), 00 and Wing like two times.
What did your family think about your interest in anime? Well, when I was a kid they just saw it as me being into cartoons and stuff and then when I was a teenager I actually kept it a tight secret from them, which made them wonder if I was watching porn most of the time. Eventually they found out and accept it as long as it didn’t get in the ways of my studies (which it sometimes did… but they don’t need to know that), even if my mom still expects me to grow out of it at some point. I’m still wondering if it would somehow make things better or worse if I showed her some of the more serious aspects of anime.
What’s the biggest thing that’s changed between your anime fandom then and now? Well, I certainly am a lot more dedicated to it now. Not only do I watch a lot of anime, I also take into account why I like what I like and try to learn more about the industry and what drives it, not just about the studios involved but why anime is made the way it is. I also really pay attention to what other people think and say about the shows I like because I think that taking others’ opinions into account also helps you judge and change your own opinion, after all, there might be stuff you hadn’t noticed that others did.
Ellery can be reached on Tumblr.