Wednesday, September 19, 2012
My Otaku Generation
I've often heard references to various anime fan generations, and while these generation names and time ranges are not always agreed on, I've always considered myself a part of the Cartoon Network generation. Despite the fact that my generation got it's start about a decade ago, I still feel like a noob in the world of anime because I waited until it went "mainstream" to get into it. Rightfully, I feel like I should have hopped on the anime banwagon during the Sailor Moon generation (I've actually seen this era referred to as a number of things, but for most girls it was Sailor Moon that really got them into anime, so I think, as a girl, it's pretty fair to call this the Sailor Moon era), especially since back when Sailor Moon hit the US I used to watch it on occasion and ache after the line of toys that were released along side it.
It wasn't for another year or two that I started to realize that Sailor Moon was something so different because it was anime, a term I had no idea existed until significantly later, thanks to the Sci-Fi channel's use of the phrase "Japanimation" to describe the late night cartoons I used to secretly stay up late to watch.
So, while Cartoon Network certainly wasn't my first introduction to anime, it was simply the first time that I was able to get it with any sort of regularity and in a quantity that actually allowed me to pick-and-choose what I wanted to watch. Before Cartoon Network's Adult Swim came along my experience with anime was limited to whatever I could get my greedy hands on: the first volume of Mai, the Psychic Girl that my public library had for some reason, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust because my friend just so happened to own it, and Iria: Ziram the Animation because the Sci-Fi channel played it over the span of a few Sunday mornings, and a small handful of those late night Sci-Fi anime screenings that I simply don't remember the names of, and some smatterings of whatever episodes of Sailor Moon I got the chance to watch. But I didn't even get a computer until 2000, and I had dial-up for years after that, and even if I had a faster connection, this was years before youtube and I had a very small number of friends who were also into anime who were in the same "But how do we get it?" boat as I was, so it wasn't until I discovered Adult Swim's late night anime programing that I really got into anime. I actually caught the last few episodes of their first run of Cowboy Bebop when I stumbled across it.
Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and shortly later FLCL were the shows that really got me into anime, and while I wish it didn't take me so long to finally really discover anime, I'm content to have been a part of the first truely mainstream wave of anime and manga in the US and to have been able to ride that wave when it was at it's peak, back when TokyoPop was still around and releasing pretty much everything they could get their hands on and there were something like 3 different on-demand Anime channels, back before the whole western anime market sort of imploded in on itself.
The generation names might be a bit silly, and ultimately pointless since being an anime fan tends to be a slow and creeping sickness in the west and many of us realize that we had actually been watching anime all of our lives before we even knew what it was, but I still find it's pretty interesting to read about because it paints a picture of what fans that came before you were into and what sort of things were being imported out of Japan. If you're looking to read a little bit more about some of the previous anime fan generations, check out this post on Mainichi Anime Yumi, it's a couple years old so it's really only missing this current, as of yet unnamed, anime fan generation.