My Slow Progression Into the Anime/Manga Fandom

It was 1999 perhaps and I was 5 not entirely sure since my mind is foggy on such details but one of my most early memories was of actually seeing Dragonball Z with my dad. Looking at it again it was almost like bonding even if my dad later got his first Playstation and abandoned me on my own at home. I was little but the thing that do recall from my foreigner’s mind since, yes, I am a Spanish speaker was that little Gohan was so incredibly cute. That and the cool fights with all the over-powered Saiyans and villians. My young mind was soon distracted by such things as anime even though at the time hardly knew that. Another thing that was about to grab my interest at the time. It was Scooby-Doo on television. I became absolutely obsessed with it especially since Cartoon Network premiered new episodes all the time in 1999-2001 on early mornings but one day that changed. Pokemon came on the tv and as soon as I saw Squirtle I knew there was something unique to this cartoon. It seemed bizarre but cute and unique. The little adventures were actually intriguing for the most part. As you may guess soon forgot about Scooby-Doo. I figured I was just exchanging one cartoon for another. During that time in 2000 I was also introduced to Sailor Moon by a babysitter my mother knew. Her kids apparently were into the show and I soon began to watch it too.

Little Gohan in Dragonball Z

Soon began school and for a time traveled to private school not in the United States which during that time actually forgot about the anime even though by then still did not know it was that anime. I mean I had no concept of a computer-laptop or even internet. Interestingly in my new oversees private school the anime Pokemon was widely known there too and during class when my schoolmates discovered I lived in the United States many believed that I surely may like Pokemon since guess they figured all American kids liked Pokemon yet even they never alluded to the fact that it was anime.

Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

While I did see anime in private school that small time I yet again forgot it. For a time that is. 4 or 5 years passed and it was 2005/2006 and I was now perhaps 12 years old or 13. I was into Spider-Man on tv and later some shows like the Winx Club, W.I.T.C.H. and even Oban Star-Racers to name a few. When on tv Cartoon Network or was it Toonami started showing a title which believe is what made me be so attracted to anime a lot which was Spirited Away. The story and scenery was so gorgeous. Full of this feeling of earthy tones that I was in love with, everything, least of which was the animation. The animation in my memory is one that still remember as if it were yesterday where I actually cried in joy. Kind of funny with the melodrama and all but it did happen. Cartoon Network also showed such anime movies that I also hold in high regard as Escaflowne. Really good anime movie even if it is an oldie. I continued to watch Cartoon Network closely after this period thinking they would eventually show more shows like Spirited Away and Escaflowne. They did but in a different format. Instead of a movie I knew from analyzing things that they were showing such shows that looked in appearance in anime but were more like episodes. It was fine by me. The first series really got into were FLCL, Inuyasha, Death Note, and S-CRY-ED. More would show eventually. Naruto and then Bleach. I loved Naruto so much although today presently only enjoy Bleach because Naruto has too much content and I am beyond that while Bleach has new story setting and still cool battles.

Lelouch from Code  Geass anime series

Crazed-looking Lelouch from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion anime series.

Moving throughout the years I kept to watching anime and by know knew it was anime since sometime around 2007 some of my friends in middle school who actually bought tons of manga unlike me told me about anime and manga and that Bleach and Naruto were just that. I stuck too Toonami/Cartoon Network until early 2008 when Code Geass came along on tv in North America. And Johnny Yong Bosch’s voice acting graced everyone with his rendition of the anime character Lelouch. After Code Geass what happened is I had during this time gotten my first desktop computer which was pretty old with internet and couldn’t wait any longer for the tv dubbed aired episodes, so went online hoping that the series would show up. It did. There to my complete shock were several episodes available ahead of North American air date. Most of them were subtitled only though. So while I hated this since since also having begun seeing Blood +(2006-2008) my most favorite anime series only ever in Dubbed I actually gave in and began watching Subbed episodes of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. I had a hard time reading subtitles and I hated it because it was hard to read while keeping up with the screen’s happenings. I was still very happy could watch episodes when I wanted. The only thing is at the time I didn’t know that the anime site was watching this anime was an illegal streaming site known as AnimeFreak. I still watched though but only because I wasn’t aware that it was illegal I kept watching anime online on sites such as this. Part of the reason was after watching Code Geass I wanted more and more! I began next Black Cat. Then one of my all-time favorites Darker Than Black. Seriously at this point I was beginning to think all anime series out there were all amazing and could not suffer from a crappy story or even animation. I was wrong. Do not ever see Soul Taker or The SoulTaker. Brynhildr in the Darkness. Angel Beats. Aquarion Evol to name a few.

In 2009 I was reading a lot more and I couldn’t find the time for anime except one series Hell Girl until finally just had no time. I was also hanging out with friends a lot since we were now in the middle school and high school transition. Most of my friends who were girls wanted to go places. I was more of the serious stay at home and read type of girl. Still am to an extent except when get really passionate about something. Mid-2009 I returned to anime and I was also reading manga. Less manga because to this day there has never been a manga series that has grabbed my interest extremely, except Clover by CLAMP, Bakuman, Bunny Drop, A Devil and Her Love Song, Psyren, Dance in the Vampire Bund, and now recently even a series possess some volumes of and that series is Devils and Realist. Halfway through 2009 I realized that there were online illegal sites which for some years now since first being exposed to my Code Geass craze had been visiting with frequency. I knew it was wrong but I couldn’t stop. I loved anime and I wanted to see more than just the few available on Saturdays on Toonami. I also couldn’t afford anime at that time. I was a high schooler where school studies came first with a family that was quite demanding when grades were concerned, so getting a job was next to impossible. So while a bit guilty I continued to watch anime online via illegal channels. For a time used Netflix but that was short lived since that cost money too.

Early 2010-2011 was a real blur. High school life was very hard. School work while not always difficult in some areas was time consuming and always needed to stay on top of one thing or another for fear that my grades could slip. Even though always hated putting emphasis on good grades ,in fact, I cared about my grades secretly. So anime and manga were things soon forgot about. Reading still kept up with since actually it was a sort of relaxing stress reliever. During 2010-2011 never really gave in further to illegal channel streaming of anime online perhaps because I stayed away from anime and manga even though now that recall it may have been because during that time Toonami disappeared. I actually did not notice this simply because I was too absorbed in other student life matters that I hardly had time for my beloved hobby of anime and manga.

In 2012 may have began to realize that Toonami had disappeared but was sad but not sure what to think. Later in 2012 a Toonami Revival was announced and I got interested again because I have always loved a good rising from the ashes story. Things were good since somehow got into this new show Deadman Wonderland. Kind of a dark series but visually stunnning. I may not have emphasized this but when it comes to anime the animation matters to me a lot particularly sleek animation. I got pulled into anime for a third time and I began to have an epiphany. I began to wonder why was it no matter what happened in my life I always returned to anime. A medium that possessed this otherness. I was scratching my head in wonderment at that point. I kept watching anime on the now revived Toonami and have to say kept being impressed with little treasures like Casshern Sins and Samurai 7. And even a return to FLCL. What nostalgia there.

When 2013 began I had resolved that my interest in anime was not a fleeting interest but I truly feel even now an interest that borders on a passionate hobby for life for me. I began to catch up on many anime series mostly that I had missed from my time away from the fandom. I read a lot of online articles during this time and it was during 2013 that I began to favor reading subtitled anime. A strange development since once had a fight with another friend that was a girl over which was better in anime Sub vs. Dub. I chose at the time Dubbed. Looking at it now that was totally unfounded. You get used to reading and you actually start to develop a kingship to hearing the Japanese voice actors and more often than not their skilled and different voice acting ranges. Although today I prefer both subtitled and dubbed anime.

2013 was a good year for me but I was still at a loss for watching anime through legal means. I noticed particularly that various countries where there was an anime or manga industry be it digital or physical home media had remarked that the state of the anime industry was in decline. I kept looking into it and discovered that even Tokyopop and some anime companies had shut down. Piracy was one of the biggest issues but also newer fans interest not on buying anime and manga or merchandise but cosplaying (a fun albeit expensive hobby) or just in general not caring as long as they had anime via whatever channels easiest to them. I could not stand it. This year-2013 finally through various articles discovered that not only was Japan not making tons of money as I thought it had always even as a young little girl but animators in Japan were making very measly paid wages for thir work. Lower wages compared to their Western counterparts. It felt truly saddening because I held this distorted view that anime was making Japan so much profit the same way Hollywood was here in the United States.

I would feel differently and less guilty if it was different and anime in Japan really was making tons of profit for the producers, animators, and voice actors. Since that is not the case, well, it just seems terrible. If somehow anime and manga was pushing forward in success even while there was rampant pirating I always thought it would be fine and hardly thought it as wrong. Everyone can be happy was what I thought.

It is not so much with me the matter or whether pirating is right and wrong then but really on how I feel for anime companies, producers, animators, and voice actors. It becomes a matter of almost disrespecting these creators and their works when it comes to anime and manga if you do not purchase the said anime and manga. So in a sense, having heard their words and thoughts you don’t have a heart to respect them as creators and human beings. That is why pirating is wrong as I see it. Piracy used as a means to exploit wonderful creative work and then avoiding  paying anything for it. Particularly true when the anime industry is not all that everyone makes it out to be as a profit giant.

Halfway through 2013 more things in terms of changes happened though I also happened to be turning into a young adult meaning I had money to spend and spend I would! During this year I also began the blog, The Huge Anime Fan. I was aware of piracy more and the various perecpectives on the issue but I was also armed with some money to spend on the side. Another thing that ocurred toward the end of 2013 was my discovery of Crunchyroll. FUNIMATION this year of 2014 and now NEONALLEY by VIZ Media in North America. So in the end, I made the decision of abandoning illegal streaming sites.

It has been two years since have begun blogging on anime and manga. I want to believe that new fans would begin to respect anime and manga as the art that is is but also reflect that piracy toward anime and manga is not so much an issue of illegal vs. legal but rather one more human where if we love entertainmet created by someone else we should care enough for their effort and respect their creative rights. Their feelings.

Crunchyroll horizontal banner

Since my journey into anime and manga began I had various places had been in the past but now I am past that. I am sticking to Crunchyroll, FUNIMATION, and VIZ Media even if only as a Free Subscriber. I buy series on DVD mostly that I know I feel eternal gratitude that were created in the first place. Anime though is expensive some would say. No. That is wrong in some ways. It is not expensive but if you want newer anime or very rare old anime it is. That aside not all anime is expensive for those in North America. FUNimation in North America does offer anime very affordably in $15.99-$20.00 for a whole series in their SAVE EDITION line. I have the Corpse Princess SAVE EDITION anime series for example. Some of those anime series are great. Black Cat, Shiki, Corpse Princess, Aquarion, and Nabari No Ou and others that are worth it. So it is not impossible.

The real problem I see is that from much information have seen is that other countries who do not at least have a tiny anime or manga market be it streaming or physical home media can have a real issue on their hands. Still for anime or manga markets in Japan, United States, some European countries, Australia, and other countries where if they do at least have more than just a few titles of anime beyond 3 or 4 available via legal streaming and legal physical media means then they should try to rethink about supporting the anime industry in their own country by whatever financial means is within their reach. This is especially true if your one of those fans who likes anime in a physical format. It will help to allow established anime companies in your country to continue to license anime. For me it is not really about that. It is about knowing the facts and just wanting to honor and almost indirectly showing my appreaciation to the creators, producers, and voice actors.

Sources Collected Through 2013-2014|Made Me Think About Supporting the North American Anime Industry

Don’t be fooled by others in believing that only Japanese fans in Japan have a direct beneficial impact when it comes to the native anime industry. It doesn’t entirely. Whatever country you live if they stream online legally or for home media the companies in your country had to make deals with companies and producers in Japan to get the rights for distribuition. The original creators make money from these licensing fees. While small it is still something.

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10. Dan Kanemitsu’s Paper Trail

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