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4 Reasons Anime Fans Have It WAY Better Nowadays

You know we have arrived in the future once we can tell harrowing “Back in my afternoon” stories about anime fandom. But it’s true — life was not easy for us anime fans 20 decades ago, and it was not just because folks heard that you liked something named Outlaw Star and intuitively wanted to cram you in bathroom. For instance …

4

Anime Video Rentals Were A Minefield Of Porn

Outside magnificent, glorious Toonami, there weren’t a lot of televised options for anime fans from the late ’90s. So, you had to search elsewhere, which usually meant going into the back of a video shop, where the shadows lie. My regional shop called this section “Japanimation,” that is a word that just gets created when you ask a suburban daddy to classify Dragon Ball Z.

Toei Animation“That’s the one where they capture all the animals from the small balls and make them struggle, right?”

When you did not want to see three episodes out of a Toonami show packed on a VHS tape, then you took a entire gamble and picked something else. One of my most vivid memories was when I rented Devil Hunter Yohko out of Hollywood Video, a place that only exists in the memories of the deceased. I knew about it was that Yohko was a ninja, and the show was touted as sort of a magical girl / activity anime. Then I popped in the video, settled on the sofa next to my mother, and discovered that in the first ten minutes, Yohko is nude, getting her candy anime breasts sucked by some dude. So you have to have the “That is exactly what anime is” talk to your own parents, and then the “And it’s not always like this!” Talk right after.

The problem was that back in these days, unless it was pornography, there weren’t a lot of evaluations on covers. You could usually tell from the case art if there could be graphic violence (muscular animation dudes, girls with katanas), however there were no “All of these people will be getting nude later!” warnings/promises. These movies would all happen to be aimed toward older audiences in Japan, but in the USA, cartoon = kids. So movies that featured lovingly animated jiggling animation nipples sat right alongside Pokemon on the shelf.

Madhouse

MadhouseEven the non-boob moments from Devil Hunter Yohko were just like digging a parental minefield.

When you did not get blindsided by surprise pornography, you got confused by names which meant absolutely nothing without months of study (and the internet was in its infancy, so if the data was out there, then it was not easy to find). So that you get to the video shop, wanting to determine if they’ve some Gundam Wing, that was one of the many backbones of Toonami, and you also see … Victory Gundam? And G Gundam? And Char’s Counterattack? You realize that asking for Gundam is like walking into a butcher shop and asking for one pound of “meat”

3

You Had To Deal With America Butchering Your Favorite Series

The sharp divide between the two animations looked like in America and Japan was never more crude (or ridiculous) than if it came time to broadcast anime on TV. Bear in mind, in American animations in the ’90s, some superheroes couldn’t even be revealed punching with a closed fist. This became a nightmare for shows a) were completely cool with marketing violent brawls into ten-year-olds and B)’d hundred-episode narrative arcs that needed to be viewed in order.

It was not an issue of merely cutting a few frames here and there. Avoiding “objectionable” parts meant that storylines were hacked apart and glued back together. Liberties were taken with English dialogue translations, blood and other bodily fluids had been removed frame by frame, and specific episodes needed to be removed altogether. When you watched them in the U.S., you weren’t getting the true anime; you’re getting the anime as explained to you by your Baptist aunt.

One of the most well-known examples is that the 4Kids Entertainment localization of One Piece, an anime that is adapted from the bestselling manga series ever and which, as Cracked has covered before, is mostly about punching. Aside from deleting full episodes, replacing a continuously smoking character’s cigarettes with lollipops, also generally shying away from the “I will beat you till the blood coming out of your mind looks like the chocolate fountain in a Golden Corral” vibe, 4Kids also added this shit into the Start of every episode:

If you don’t want to listen to the worst thing that has ever happened in the combined histories of hip-hop and scrapbooking, that is cool. It starts, as all dynamic shows do, with 30 fucking minutes of narration, then … rapping. Specifically, a rap intended to catch up the listener to a series that had aired over 200 episodes by the time 4Kids started showing it.

It tries to describe the main characters using obscure one-word descriptions, but vomits to its lap once it gets into the only female character in the time: “plus a l-a-d-y Nami’s not shy.” I don’t understand how superhumanly disinterested you have to be to spend half the 1 line which you are giving to the only woman spelling out the word “lady,” but I am thinking nobody worked that evening.

Two

You Would Drown In Useless “Filler” Episodes

You understand how Game Of Thrones eventually caught up with then passed the books it’s based on, to the point where the series is currently just finishing the narrative on its own while George R.R. Martin labors away, two books supporting? Well, imagine if rather than going ahead, the series just started inventing bizarre, random storylines to tread water until Martin could catch up. This happens in anime each the time — thus “filler” episodes. Popular anime shows are based on manga series (a Japanese comic book, for those of you completely out of the loop), and if they start to run out of print storylines, they have to streeeeetch their own stories to let the source material develop a buffer. The filler they slap together is stunningly awful.

For instance: To finish an awesome story arc roughly time-travelling super hybrids, Dragon Ball Z gave us an episode where Goku needed to receive his driver’s license. Goku fails the evaluation, incidentally, and the episode ends with the driving instructor wishing that he could fly. Ya know, like Goku can. Which means he doesn’t have to push in the first place. Welcome into the world of anime filler, bitch. Meanwhile, in the middle of a struggle against a villain who controls folks like puppets and leaves them kill each other, One Piece burst into three weeks of anthropomorphized manatees doing kung fu.

Toei AnimationI swear it was as cool as that combination of phrases promised to be.

Bleach was filler for a year. Filler episodes are God becoming revenge on humankind for inventing fiction. And today’s anime fans don’t need to deal with them. Now they’ve whole sites explaining exactly what can be safely skipped (and that which should be skipped from the name of preserving your sanity). But in the ’90s, we’d no such thing — we just sat through it all and down it. With no frame of reference, we just accepted that this was just how anime was. Sometimes you’d get a lot of great episodes in a row, also sometimes Ash Ketchum has to go fight a man who beats his Pokemon with a whip.

If it seems like just a minor problem, understand that my cherished Sailor Moon had 200 episodes, also 101 were filler. So 51 percent of the series which identified my formative years was committed to plots which, in the long run, did not matter whatsoever. And I watched every single one of these, over and over.

1

Collecting Merchandise Was Confusing, Sad And Dangerous

Sure, today you can go into freaking Barnes & Noble and not just see rows and rows of manga, but in addition anime action figures and toys. The normal person doesn’t have to find different manga show through getting a virus in robotechfan666.tripod.com. Teen Me, on the other hand, largely collected $3 bootleg posters and sticker cards (which for this day are in a binder, saved in my bedside drawer near my grown-up lady toys). For figurines, we now had two options: Chinatown bootlegs, that were cheap, jobless, and dreadful (though I still bought them aplenty) …

Loryn Stone

Loryn Stone

… and officially licensed figurines that typically ran $100 or more, which you had to paint yourself. So not only did early anime accumulating demand that you head out of the way for it, but in addition you be capable with a tiny brush and hobby paints. Otherwise, you’re stuck looking in a Cowboy Bebop figurine frozen in unworthy, deathly gray.

Meanwhile, through sketchy Geocities sites, I had discovered that a man in Canada had the best-quality bootleg videos. And because that man just accepted cash payments, I also discovered the dread of spending the time between arrival and order wondering if this man was not just rolling in a pile of cash he’d collected from other innocent nerds. And prior to the bootleg anime jewelry craze hit eBay …

Loryn Stone

… I’d like to buy these shitty metal and enamel pins and stick people filthy beasts through my ears. It was just like I had been begging for a more isolated buddy group AND tetanus.

Loryn StoneThat. Was in. My earlobe.

One time I dug through the litter from my mall hobby shop because I saw a busted bootleg Sailor Mars’ red high heel and had to reconstruct the doll’s corpse, that had been presumably also somewhere in the garbage. After mending her different wounds, the completed abomination sat in my dresser until it fell apart. Old-school anime fandom in a nutshell: digging through the mess, piecing together what we could, and enjoying everything.

Loryn Stone is likely watching anime right now. Like, there is a really good chance of that. She manages her own pop-culture site PopLurker. Check her out on Twitter.

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