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AV MOD MATERIAL: The Anime Fan's Experience in the US, Part 1

MetalSnakeZero and Acura Max reminisce about Toonami toons on a weekday afternoon.

Welcome to the American Experiences Part 1: Toonami Toons on a Weekday Afternoon! Please welcome our guests, MetalSnakeZeroand Acura Max. They will share their experiences and outlook on anime culture in their hometowns! MetalSnakeZero is from New York while Acura Max is from Pennsylvania. Interview questions were written by Takashichea. Check out the UK Experiences Part 1: Closet Nerd Theorem if you missed it.

Taka: How did you got into anime?

Pokemon back in the old days
Pokemon back in the old days

MSZ: It was around 1995 where my brother would get VHS tapes of anime like Rurouni Kenshin andPokémon before it came here to America.

Acura: When I was younger, I watched a lot of TV, and it just so happened that Toonami was something that come on after school. So I watched that. It also helped that all my classmates and some of my family had watched anime. However, they have all stopped watching anime since.

Taka: How did you view anime and fans who love anime?

Informing Anime Fans to Support
Informing Anime Fans to Support

MSZ: When I first saw anime, they had a different feel to them that wasn't in cartoons. I was watching on American stations like Cartoon Network and Nick. It was obvious that they were a beast of their own. Over the years, I learn what made a good and bad anime show and took note of the way they were made, styles, and deeper meanings to them. Fans are complex. They are ones that are willing to watch anything, the ones that are flexible with what they watch, and the ones that obsess over everything. Americans saw anime on TV since the internet wasn't around yet. Because VHS tapes were limited, the TV was the easiest thing. Then, the internet started to become more powerful and uploading anime was easy. This led for a few years where fans are watching anime for free and not willing to buy. As a result, the anime industry is losing money. Now with legal streaming sites getting licenses, sales are going up slowly because the fans are making it happen. The point is that anime fans do care about this unique media. They were blinded when downloading anime for free was doing more harm than good. However, once you convince us to help, we will.

Acura: Well, I think anime is awesome (duh! That's why I'm on this website). I like anime because it's something different, and I'm open to new experiences. The anime fans are great. What more needs to be said? There are quite a few things. For one thing, anime fans are passionate about their hobby; some would say that it's even a lifestyle. This passion is best seen in an anime convention where people gather together to celebrate what they love. You get a sense of their community out there and that's never a bad thing to have. Though there are some people who let their passions blind them. A good example of this is how some anime fans are turned off to all media that isn't of Japanese origin and accuse others of hating anime to be ignorant. To me, this makes them sound like hypocrites, and they become become no different than the people who hate all anime on principle. Fine, the anime community is not perfect, but no community ever is.

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

Censorship of culture
Censorship of culture

MSZ: Anime is somewhat going mainstream with the return to Toonami. However, it is far from being completely mainstream. Many aspects of anime is made for a different audience and becoming mainstream would mean losing a part of what made it unique. Obviously, censorship really hurts a show. In my case, it is the fact that I was being lied to. That my little kid mind couldn't understand what a rice ball was or that a character's Japanese name needed to be Americanized. It was just silly, and it prevented me from opening my world view.

Acura: In my opinion, sometimes censorship is needed. Sure, censoring culture is always bad, but what about gore and sexuality. You guys have to remember that some series are shown as Saturday morning cartoons. That means that children as young as 4 years old could be watching. I'm pretty sure no one wants their young child to see Vegeta blasting Cell in half or to see Android 16's head rolling on the ground.

Taka: Have you ever been to an anime convention? How was it?

MSZ's Memories at Anime Fes 2011
MSZ's Memories at Anime Fes 2011

MSZ: I live in New York so the closest con I can go to is Comic Con/ Anime Fes. It was great to be around people of similar interest all in one huge place. It was also nice to meet the people who were bringing over the shows I love and the voices of the characters.

Acura: I haven't been to one.

Taka: What is your buying experiences like for anime and manga? Do you do it publicly or online?

MSZ: I don't buy a lot of anime since they are very costly. The way I buy Blu-ray/DVD of shows is that I must really love the series to own a physical copy. This goes with buying figures. I don't buy manga since I have a friend whom I can borrow from and I usually glance at them at B&N. I shop at both at an anime store and online, depending on which has the item I'm looking for.

Acura: I used to buy manga and subscribe to Shonen Jump. Now, I do neither of those things.

Taka: What are your views on Japanese culture?

Sakura Matsuri 2012
Sakura Matsuri 2012

MSZ: Japan is complex. I like the way they like nature, ideas, food, technology, landscape, and people. However, they have many downsides such as certain behaviors like being publicly standing out is a no no, certain government controls, falling birth rates, and many other problems. Still Japan, like many other cultures, is interesting.

Acura: Well, I like anime. So I have a positive view of the culture. I think the culture might be romanticized. I think people believe that the Japanese people are all anime lovers and do crazy, weird things all the time.

Taka: Is anime popular in America?

MSZ: It sure is. It is a niche media, so you'll need to look in specific places to find its influence but popularity can be found.

Acura: I think it's a niche market, but it does have an audience.

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

MSZ: Many shows are already being shown online every season so that is a given. As in mainstream TV, it would need to be a high profile show like Madoka Magica, Bleach, and Fullmetal Alchemist to catch interest from viewers that casually watch anime on TV. Secondly, they need to be more flexible with time slots like not only broadcasting it at late nights.

Acura: Perhaps Fairy Tail. I can't think of anything that would be suitable for children's television.

About the Authors

MetalSnakeZero is a New Yorker with a love for video games, anime, and tech. Look out for my updates on these topics. Follow him @MetalSnakeZero
Acura Max is a lover of movies, games, and anime. I'm also a moderator on Screened.
AURON570on Aug. 9, 2013 at 1:40 a.m.

Haha looks like everyone having trouble coming up with anime that might be "suitable" for television. Since anime fans will already go online, an anime would have to have a very good reason to be on TV, know which audience it targets and stuff like that.

Something else I started thinking about was, what about showing anime movies in theaters? I know I would pay to see Patema Inverted in IMAX 3D. And I think lots of movie goers could use some variety from the typical Hollywood stuff. Especially children.. I mean.. Planes? Really?

takashichea moderator on Aug. 10, 2013 at 9:10 p.m.

Acura Max, you need to watch Fairy Tail. I say the anime is more for teenagers since it has more fan service than One Piece. It's like Gurren Lagann's fan service, but less Gainax Bounce.

Stay tuned for more anime experiences!

Acura_Max moderator on Aug. 12, 2013 at 5:54 a.m.

@takashichea: I was not thinking of putting Fairy Tail on kids programming; you misinterpreted me. I'm aware of its fan service. What I meant to say was that Fairy Tail could be brought over to the United States in some form. The second sentence was an answer to your question if you asked what anime I would think is appropriate for children.

@AURON570: What are you talking about? They do show anime in movies theaters in America. The anime movies just have low theater counts (Full List of movies released in America within the last decade). Also, Hollywood films are not the only source of movies that movie goers can look to. There are also indie films and dozens of film festivals that offer films that may not do well economically in a wider market. Because they don't have to appeal to a wide audience, these films have more creative freedom (ex. this and this. Warning: second link is not safe for work)

AURON570on Aug. 12, 2013 at 5:43 p.m.

@Acura_Max: Umm yeah I'm aware that some anime movies were dubbed and shown in theaters. Look at the release dates on that list. Compare that to all the anime movies coming out in Japan this year or last year, and see how many of those are going to EVER make it to American theaters. Maybe it's different in US but for me in Canada I can remember maybe only 1 anime movie coming to theaters every year or so. And they are always only showing at select theaters or have specific screening dates as I remember for Evangelion 2.0.

Again for anime fans this isn't really an issue because we know where to buy BD and DVDs, or stream them online. But the point is that experiencing a movie on the big screen is different from watching it at home, and has the potential to draw in more viewers who aren't already interested in anime.

Of course there are other options to view movies, of course no one HAS to watch anime or this movie or that movie. Heck, no one even needs to go to theaters to watch a movie ever if they feel like waiting for the disc releases or until they get uploaded to Netflix or whatever they want.

I looked at a movie like Patema Inverted which is coming out in November and I went "oh my god, I would really want to see that on the big screen and in 3D, because the upside down theme and the visuals look really breathtaking." But I think in the back of my head, "nahh it'll never make it to theaters here". In the end I can still wait and buy the DVD/BD, but experiencing that movie in a theater would have been a real treat, which sucks for me or anyone who might have went to watch it on the big screen.

takashichea moderator on Aug. 12, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.

@Acura_Max:

My bad. I know what you mean. Fairy Tail would be successful if it had more exposure. Internet and legal streaming does help, but it doesn't beat the TV. Dragon Ball Z got lucky back then.

For children's television, I don't know much suitable shows except for Sailor Moon and Dr. Slump.

Acura_Max moderator on Aug. 12, 2013 at 7:14 p.m.

@AURON570: If you were trying to say that, then why did you say this part:

And I think lots of movie goers could use some variety from the typical Hollywood stuff. Especially children.. I mean.. Planes? Really?

It's a distraction from your main point and it implies that the movie industry is a creative wasteland. I don't know if you know this, but movie fans are just as passionate about what we love as anime fans.

Secondly, my other point was to clarify that there is variety in the movie industry. You just have to find it. To stereotype the movie industry as just blockbusters or stupid movies like "Planes," is like saying all anime is hentai. Like with things, you have to go deeper before you get to the good stuff.

AURON570on Aug. 12, 2013 at 10:21 p.m.

@Acura_Max: What? Now you're just putting words in my mouth. I didn't say "the entire movie industry" (which includes anime movies), I said Hollywood. I used generalizations, but you clearly took them in a very negative sense which I didn't intend. I realize there is as much variety in live-action movies as there are in anime movies and series. Yeah of course there's good stuff if you dig for it, that's the same with lots of things.

Going back to what the original interview question was about: "What anime should have aired in America, mainstream TV or online?"

I just thought an interesting follow up question would be "what anime movie would do well in theaters, or you would be interested to go see in a theater?" Not at film festivals, not on television, not online, but in theaters like the one down the street. THAT'S ALL, I just posed it as a question to think about and the first anime movie that came to my mind was Patema Inverted. Can you think of an anime movie that might do well in theaters, or maybe you would want to see in a theater?

Acura_Max moderator on Aug. 12, 2013 at 11:16 p.m.

@AURON570: I apologize; I was being overly defensive. Usually when people on anime forums use "typical Hollywood," it's almost always used in a negative connotation to talk differences between the anime industry and movie industry.

Now to answer your question:

Can you think of an anime movie that might do well in theaters, or maybe you would want to see in a theater?

I think Dragon Ball Battle of Gods or one of the earlier movies would be a good fit. It already has an established fan base and the horrible movie of which we do not speak of was able to make a modest profit despite everyone raging against it. Another good fit would be a Makoto Shinkai movie. I would imagine that the Shinaki movies would get a small release though. They have an indie feel to them.

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