Tag: AnimeNorth

Week of Geek: A Brief History of Anime Fandom

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Hiya Geekling!  Enjoying the warm weather?  Ready for summer (and by extension, school to be over)?  I know I am.

So I just got back from Anime North this last weekend.  Had a lot of fun, learned some new things, got a little puppet-type critter that I hope will sit on my shoulder during my visits with the public and will delight young and old alike.  Good times.

But one of my favorite things I did this weekend was attend a panel on anime fandom in North America, presented by these guys.  I like fandoms, I like fans, I like history, and I like anime so this was a win win win win.  And in the interests of public service, I thought I’d pass some of the interesting tidbits I learned on to you guys, ’cause I’m nice like that.

So first of all, fandom for Anime on this side of the globe is much older than most people would expect.  A lot people think that it really took off in the early 2000s (or if you’re old like me, you peg it somewhere in the 1990s).  North American fans of anime have been around for about 60 years.  WHAT?!  But one of the reasons most of us may not know that was because being able to access anime was much more difficult back then than it is now.  You basically had to hope it was on broadcast TV or you had to know a guy if you wanted to see it.

One of the big things to kick it all off was a little show called Astro Boy.  It aired on NBC in 1963 and actually beat The New Adventures of Superman in the ratings.  It was followed by Speed Racer in 1968, and then more shows followed, so a lot of Baby Boomers grew up with anime shows.  Funny thing; we had protesters on Sunday convention, but the panelists pointed out that that was nothing new; there were protesters back in the 60s.  TV watch groups wrote a scathing review of Speed Racer back when it first aired.

So there’s that.

In the 1970s you got giant robots coming on the scene with Shogun Warriors.  These were toys that were popular even without a show to back them up.  The first mini festival for anime fans was held in that decade.  The first English language manga, Barefoot Gen, was published.  After Star Wars became huge a lot of related-anime was released, like Battle of the PlanetsGalaxy Express was the first anime movie to get a theatrical release in the US.  The show Star Blazers aired in 1979 and became so popular it spawned it’s own fanzine and it’s own mini cons.  It was during this decade that you got to see the first anime cosplayers at these events (though the term ‘cosplayer‘ didn’t really come into use until 1984) and where you got the first real divide among fans between heavily edited and dubbed English versions and the original Japanese versions of anime.

On to the 1980s.  Now we have Japanese arcade games and laser disc games coming onto the scene, as well as home video in 1984.  Voltron aired that same year.  Yamoto Con was the first official con in North America.  More magazines, model kits and shows came out during this decade.  You could conceivably come home from school and watch an afternoon of anime shows.  The term ‘Japanimation‘ was first coined in the 80s.  Akira was given a theatrical release in 1989 and that was a pivotal moment.  It was a film that made even the staunchest of critics, the ones who insisted all of this was ‘just for kids’, take notice and realize we had a genuine art form on our hands.

Then the 1990s, when things got even more mainstream.  It was rough for the first part of the decade because of changing economics in both the US and Japan, making it more expensive to buy and produce shows.  Some toy stores went out of business during this time, and despite studios attempting to crack down on them, bootlegged VHS tapes, merchandise and fan dubs were pretty rampant.  But when production costs went down things got much better.  Stations like the Sci Fi Channel, Toonami on the Cartoon Network, YTV and Global were all known for airing anime on television.  Sailor Moon and Pokemon came out during this time and exploded in popularity.  We had anime-inspired movies like The Matrix.  It was starting to take off globally too.Image result for anime meme sailor moon

In the 2000s though, pretty much any barrier that had existed to keep you from getting into anime dissolved.  In the early part of the decade you could still watch stuff on TV and in cable packages.  We had new franchises like Cardcaptors and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, which was the #1 show on Cartoon Network across all demographics, even with a Japanese theme song (that hadn’t happened before).  DVDs and Blu Rays changed the game, as they took up less space, were often less expensive and could include both subtitles and dubs.

And then came the internet.  Good heavens, the internet.

That brought anime fans together worldwide, and made it so much easier to promote conventions.  Before we had search engines we had websites like Anime Web Turnpike, which listed all the anime-related sites you could visit (back in the days when the internet was small enough you could list certain sites on one page).  Fansites and webcomics exploded.  From 2000 – 2006 there was a huge spike in peer-to-peer file sharing and fan subs.  There was also an explosion of conventions and memes.

Then from 2007 to 2008 there was an anime crash, due to low-quality and much too expensive DVDs causing certain companies to fold, including Bandai.  But what emerges from that?  Crunchyroll.  We now have other online streaming services like Funimation, Netflix and Amazon Prime, often airing their episodes within a few weeks of them airing in Japan, or sometimes the next day.

And that brings us to now.

WHEW!

OK, that was REALLY fast and short, but you get the idea.  Anime in North America has a long and rich history, not just confined to the last couple of decades.  And the main thing to realize now is how much more accessible everything is; we can now watch and discuss these series as they air, which is really cool.

Anything else I left out?  Post away in the comments.  Have a great week Geeklings, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Reporting from the front lines of my first Anime Con

by  | Category: Movie Madness, Pop Culture, Reading Lounge, Super Fan
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Hiya Geeklings!  How’re exams going?  Ready for summer?  We all are!

I’m just popping in to report that, in my ongoing mission to seek out new fandoms and experience the full roster of feels, I just experienced my first Anime North, which, as their website states, is “Canada’s premier fan run Anime convention”.  As I’ve mentioned before, my relationship to manga and Anime has always been part-time, rather lukewarm, though Yuri!!! on Ice recently fanned the flames somewhat.  I thought I’d try out an Anime convention and see what it’s like.

What did I think?  Just…wow!

It was quite a bit different than other conventions I’ve been to.  It was over several buildings, which is new for me.  The main building was the Toronto Congress Centre near the airport, and then four of the nearby hotels.  I only went to 3 out of the 5 buildings due to things that interested me (ie.  one building was strictly for BJDs, and I had no idea what those were until I looked them up).  We found out that the Conservative Party of Canada was choosing it’s new leader the same weekend and in the same building while we were running around getting our geek on.  Small world.

I went to a great panel on Yuri!!! on Ice and participated in some Black Butler related fun.

BTW, not all but a lot of programs were 18+.  And they carded.  Just forewarning.

Another thing I hadn’t expected was the HUGE LGBTQ component to the proceedings, courtesy of Yaoi/Yuri North.  They had a lot of LGBTQ themed panels and programs.  I learned about the history of Homosexuality and got an introduction to Yaoi fiction.  I went to panels where people who identified as asexual, and then people who identified as bisexual, answered questions from attendees who wanted to learn more about those orientations. The info desk there even sold buttons you can wear that state what pronouns you’d like everyone to use.

I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about Japan (especially the food, there was a great panel on that).  I learned a lot in general.

And my goodness, the cosplayers were in top form.  I wasn’t in costume myself (just Anime-related tanks, tees and hoodies), but the cosplayers I saw roaming the floor and out on the lawns were really putting their all into it.  Brava!

Am I a hardcore Otaku now?  Nah, still not there yet.  BUT I have a broader appreciation for the genre.  I’ve recently read my first manga, and got a lot of great suggestions for things to read and watch.  I’m glad I went, and I may go again.

In the meantime, you know we have you covered.  Our pal Guillaume (you know, the French Guy?) made a couple of great lists full of suggestions.

First Manga…

Then Anime films…

Then Anime series…

Give ’em a try and see what all the fuss is about.  I know I’m going to keep going.  Here’s to new (or new-ish or ‘new to me’) things!

Have a great week, and until next time, End of Line.