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AV MOD MATERIAL: The Anime Fan's Experience in America, Part 2

Takashichea interviews superstar users sickVisionz and BigHeart711 about their Otaku experiences in America!

Welcome to the American Experiences Part 2: Atlanta Memories! Please welcome our guests, sickVisionz and BigHeart711. They will share their experiences and outlook on anime culture in their hometowns! These two guys are from Georgia. Interview questions were written by Takashichea. Check out the American Experiences Part 1: Toonami Toons on a Weekday Afternoon if you missed it.

  • How did you guys got into anime?

sickVisionz: I was aware that stuff like Dragonball Z, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh were this foreign thing people called anime, but I didn't get into anime until my freshman roommate in college invited me to the school theater to watch Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. A few days later, one of his friends had brought over Akira for us to watch and the combination of that and him putting me onto Cowboy Bebop on Cartoon Network's Midnight Run pretty much set me on my way.

BigHeart711: To shorten a rather long story, I found a number of anime series that managed to cheer me up from being depressed over being homeless for a month straight with my family. From there on, I kept finding interesting shows to watch, especially the shoujo series from back way then and some ecchi ones too.

  • How did you view anime and fans who love anime?

sickVisionz: It's cool. The fans are cool and there's a lot of diversity among them.

BigHeart711: I think anime is a rather entertaining field, despite being a niche market. I came across a lot of good fans, despite the bad reputations obtained in some areas, so I think the other fans are also interesting.

  • Relating to an article (Why is Anime Invisible in Britain) I found, did you think anime make it back to mainstream? Feel free to talk about censorship.

sickVisionz: I don't know if anime as a whole was ever particularly mainstream in the US. Outside of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, it only aired on cable channels or for me, the weirdo independent channel that aired a lot of bizarre stuff and was barely a step above public access. Later that station became UPN, then the WB, and is now CW. So I mean, that's an example of how "successful" they were at managing a station. Having said that, I think anime, manga, and its related products are more popular now than they ever were. More and more anime conventions pop up every year and I can't imagine they would if the fanbase was shrinking or not growing.

Censorship and Public Exposure
Censorship and Public Exposure

As for getting it to be more popular or more mainstream, my only idea is to reach out past shonen series and the shonen market. There are josei series that I watch and just feel like, if anyone that watches CW shows watched this, they'd immediately turn into an anime fan but there's no real push for trying to get content out to that audience, even on a small scale. When Sweet Blue Flowers was simulcasting, a lesbian site called Afterellen started streaming it and I thought that, though the site was small, that was a brilliant thing to happen. I watch a series like Kaiba,Tatami Galaxy, Welcome to Irabu's Office, etc can't help but feel like people who enjoy trippy indie films would eat fall in love with these series in an instant if it was ever presented to them. I don't know if it would make it more mainstream, but I think there are huge markets and audiences that would might not love Bleach and Naruto or some softcore porn series like Ikki-Tousen but would love any of the dozens of other types of anime out there, but it seems like nobody is trying to present it to them outside of Walt Disney with their Studio Ghibli releases.

As far as censorship, I really don't care. I would hesitate to buy a censored DVD or BDb but I really don't care much about TV broadcasts. I think it's a massive benefit to any series to be aired on TV so if some censoring is what it takes, I think that's a way better route to take than say, not airing it at all. I think all of the anime I saw on television was censored to some degree, but I loved them to death and they were the my first anime discoveries that didn't involve someone else putting me on to them. If it wasn't for Cowboy Bebop,Ghost in the Shell, Paranoia Agent, Samurai Champloo, Naruto, Outlaw Star, Super Milk Chan, Gundam 0080, and Evangelion (especially Evangelion as this was the first anime I ever purchased) being censored to the point they could air on television, my anime life would have stopped and started with Vampire Hunter D and Akira.

BigHeart711: There's still a chance that anime would end up being mainstream at one point, should at least one show or movie manage to break enough ground. I also hate censorship on the most part, but as long as it's only for the TV versions. I like when the DVD versions are uncensored, since they're meant for personal viewing.

  • Have you been to an anime convention? How was it? (Thought, I might add it since AX 2013 in LA opened up my eyes a bit)
sickVisionz - the playa!
sickVisionz - the playa!

sickVisionz: Yes (Anime Weekend Atlanta), and I loved it. I missed a few years after my first time, but I've gone the past two or three years in a row, and I can't see myself stopping the tradition anytime soon. If anything, I want to expand out and try driving to some out of state ones.

BigHeart711: Yes. My first was NakaKon in Kansas City and the other ones I visited wereMomocon from the last two years and Anime Weekend Atlanta in 2011. I admit that I've been in the shopping areas more than the gaming ones, but they were still real fun.

  • What is your buying experience like for anime and manga? Do you do it publicly or online?

sickVisionz: Publicly or online seems like a weird way of putting it. I mostly buy online but not because I don't want to buy anime in public. I buy there because it's pretty much guaranteed to be significantly cheaper than any retail store will sell it for. I have started thinking though that maybe 3 or 4 times a year I should visit a local retailer and buy something. If for no reason other than to hang around the store and chat with the owners and other people shopping. I used to buy comics as a kid and there would always be people basically loitering in the store and that always seemed like it would be kinda fun. Internet forums kind of simulate that idea but it's not quite the same.

BigHeart711: Both, but not as often for online buying, unless I can't find what I'm looking for at all.

  • What are your views on Japanese culture?

sickVisionz: It's interesting because of the differences.

Bigheart711: Japanese culture is more interesting to me now than it ever was back then in my high school years, especially involving stuff about Japan nowadays rather than the past. Occasionally, I tend to look into it.

  • Is anime popular in America?

sickVisionz: I think it's pretty popular for a niche imported form of entertainment. Outside of the BBC, I can't think of any foreign media that rivals its popularity here in US. Even then, the BBC is in some ways an unfair comparison for foreign things considering anime is a wholly foreign product while the US and UK share the same language and culturally/historically, the US is like a offshoot from the UK so we have a lot of common ground.

BigHeart711: Anime is not as popular as it was in the 2000's, but the fanbase is still pretty huge. It wasn't that popular at all back in Kentucky but in Atlanta, there's a huge amount of fans that I've noticed.

  • What anime should have aired in America, mainstream TV or online?

sickVisionz: Well online, pretty much every anime is airing. As far as TV, I think Panty & Stocking would be a great fit for a Comedy Central. I've heard some say it's too extreme for US TV, but you can totally just bleep the profanity and in many ways that makes it funnier plus, I mean, Comedy Central. One hour of Drawn Together is extremely more explicit than all of Panty and Stocking combined. So yeah, that one. I also feel like Nana could be pretty big if a station like CW was ever interested in giving anime a shot. Even if they adapted it for live-action, I think it could be a successful franchise in the US.

BigHeart711: For online, it's a free for all. Whatever anime series is aired in Japan, it also somehow ends up on the web in drones and it shows no sign of stopping, which doesn't really bother me at all. As for mainstream TV, If I had my way, I think Nana, Honey and Clover, and Madoka Magica would end up on a network or two that would suit them, but the series that would most likely end up being on mainstream TV next could be Fairy Tail due to the amount of fans it has.

About the Authors

sickVisionz is lazy by nature, procrastinator by trade. You can also find him on Twitter @mrsickvisionzand on Tumblr at In My Lifetime.
BigHeart711 is a proud anime fan of the Blue Roses and Magical Mages! Follow him@MasterMenos
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