Darn You Kids, Get Off My Shibafu: Ramblings of an Old Anime Fan

You kids nowadays, what with your YouTubes and your CrunchyRolls and your BitTorrents and your streaming Funimation sites and your theatrical Miyazaki releases and your anime merchandise shops and your anime conventions and your LiveJournals and fan forums and 4-chans!

 

Spoiled rotten, ‘as what I say!

 

Now, back in the old days (mid-late 90s for me), we had to struggle and suffer to watch Japanese cartoons. We worked our rear ends off for our big eyes and weird hair-dos. You little twits now get everything handed to ya, I say! Just fire up the devil box and get your anime free. No sense of accomplishment or agony, no sir! Not like us!

 

Back in my day, we didn’t have this fancy doohickey Internet or these newfangled DVDs. We had VHS cassettes, and by God Almighty, we were happy to have those VHS casettes! They were big strong stocky things that took up your shelf, your other shelf, and someone else’s shelf! But we had shelf space to spare back in those days, because you couldn’t just wander into the local 7-11 and buy yourself Gundam models and schoolgirl figurines! No, if you wanted to have anime toys on your shelf, you goddamn made them yourself, or went to Japan, or took a trip to the nearest big city. None of this pansy eBay stuff.

 

But yes, those VHS tapes, they were all we had. They may have had the picture quality of mashed cat vomit and the sound quality of said cat yowling, but they were ours, damnit. We were proud of ‘em, and we paid good money for them. None of this piracy stuff and downloading.  If you wanted pirated fansubs, then by gum you hiked out to Chinatown or Japantown and you put down twenty bucks for a copied VHS and hoped to god the tracking wasn’t busted to hell and back. God knows you weren’t going to be getting episodes of Sailor Stars any other way.

 

And if you wanted to buy your anime legit – and really, that was the only way a lot of people ever were able to get their anime – I hope you had a nice fat wallet, because those VHS tapes were going to be setting you back at least 30 dollars. And you couldn’t just get them at the Blockbuster – well, sometimes you could, but usually only hidden away in either the kids’ section or the porn section. But most of us had to head to put on our big boy/girl panties and hoof it to a specialty video store.

 

Uphill.

 

In the snow.

 

Both ways.

 

Yeah, that’s right. We actually had to go outside to get our anime. Lousy spoiled kids getting their anime delivered to their computer…

 

Oh, and we didn’t have subtitles AND English dubs on the same disk like you whippersnappers nowadays. We had to buy our subs and dubs separately. And back in my day, subtitled tapes cost more than dubbed. So we all swallowed our pride and watched dubbed anime and hoped to hell it was handled by Ocean or one of the other few good dubbing houses, because holy dagnabbit some of those dubs were offensively horrible. And not like you had much to choose from in terms of companies back in those days. There was, what, Viz, AnimEigo, Right Stuf  and Manga Entertainment? Your precious Funimation was barely more than a glimmer in Gen Fukunaga’s eye back then. We certainly wouldn’t dream of getting anything released in theatres (save for the odd fluke like Akira). And don’t get me started on the anime that was on TV, what little there was. We didn’t have companies interested in sticking with the original content; we got Dragon Ball with censored nudity and death, and Sailor Moon with gender swaps and American names, and Robotech with… just… just Robotech. So much anime broadcast with the Japanese content gutted and replaced with mindless “Westernized” pap.

 

At least some things haven’t changed that much, I suppose.

 

Oh, and hope you weren’t thinking of watching that anime with anyone, because before the Internet came along, it was nearly impossible to find other anime fans. Oh sure, if you trucked out to a major city or university you might be lucky enough to find some grizzled veteran otaku holding an anime convention or running an anime club. But if you were living in some backwater town in the middle of Nowhere,  USA/Canada/England, the otaku population was pretty much you and, if you were lucky, some scruffy guy from high school with bad breath and body odor. But damnit, you still hung out with him, because who else would understand and sympathize with your florid rants over how they butchered Macross or why Slayers was the pinnacle of fantasy-comedy? We didn’t have much of this newfangled Internet back in those days, so we couldn’t share our pearls of wisdom with an avid waiting audience of fans at our convenience. No, we had to keep it to ourselves and nerdrage in the solitude of our basements and bedrooms. Let me tell you, Usenet was a godsend.

 

You kids don’t know how good you’ve got it, living in a world where anime is at the tip of your fingers and you can walk abroad in an Evangelion T-Shirt without getting mocked or questioned! Where you can see a Studio Ghibli movie in theatres and hold anime meetups in your town! Kids these days think they have a right to enjoy their hobby and connect with fellow fans without sacrificing their firstborn child and biking sixty miles to school every day! BAH, I say! BAH!

 

Damnit, you kids, get off my lawn!

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an episode of Haruhi Suzumiya to stream and a digital manga to download, right after I’ve unlodged my tongue from its firm position in my cheek.

 

What trials and tribulations did you used to endure to enjoy your geeky hobbies? How do “kids these days” have it easy? What do you like most about fandom in ages past, and fandom as it exists today?

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