Hello! This is Auron570 with a blog response about my Canadian anime experience, please enjoy. I was born in Canada, my parents immigrated from China, and I currently live about an hour north of Toronto.
The first anime I watched was the English dub of Sailor Moon and the Cantonese dub of Super Pig when I was 3-4 years old. I liked the colorful transformation sequences, fighting bad guys and the comedic/exaggerated/cute animation. To this day I still remember the lyrics to the Sailor Moon opening in English.
When I was 7-12 years old, a lot of anime was dubbed and shown on Canadian television. There was DBZ and Pokemon. YTV acquired a lot of anime including InuYasha, Yugioh, Gundam Seed, .hack//sign, GitS and Eureka Seven. Also 4kids had their dubs of One Piece, Naruto, Fighting Foodons, Ultimate Muscle etc. It was an exciting time! Most of my school friends were watching some combination of those shows and we had fun talking about our favourite shows and characters.
During high school I did not watch much anime. Anime wasn’t being shown as prominently on TV. Also no one at my (very small) high school really watched anime. However, in my senior year I started watching anime in earnest again. I had really great English and Philosophy teachers that year who opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about art and literature. I think anime can stand toe-to-toe with other arts/entertainment and it has a lot to offer if you know where to look. So that basically leads to where I am now and how I got interested in anime. :]
Well I think anime can stand toe-to-toe with other arts, but I don’t think many people share this view. From my experience with anime clubs, friends (some like anime, some don’t) and also general media awareness, most people are just indifferent to anime, some still consider anime as for kids or for weirdos.
I guess part of the for-kids mentality has to do with how anime was promoted when it was on TV. If you watched Yugioh, you wanted Yugioh cards. If you watched DBZ, you wanted the latest Budokai game. If you watched Beyblade… you get the point. I remember kids would bring their Pokemon/Yugioh cards to school, some would show them off, some traded them, others lost them, resulting in schools banning them. I feel like that mindset is still around.
On the other hand, the impression I get from anime fans is that they like anime because it is cute, exotic or over-the-top. There seem to be pockets of anime fans around Canada, for example student clubs at universities or around different major cities like Toronto and Vancouver. Some are content that anime is a “niche” hobby. But I really think anime can enter the broader cultural conversation.
The first anime that came to mind was Steins;gate. Quirky characters and a suspenseful time travel plot! Otherwise it’s hard to say, I don’t think a typical Japanese high-school anime would work since high-school experiences are so different in Canada and even the U.S. Also anything ecchi I think is a definite no. I can think of lots of anime that I would recommend to just about anyone, but I’m not sure how well they would do on TV. Haha, now I’m overthinking which anime would do well on which TV networks and how each anime does/doesn’t appeal to certain audiences!
Sadly, no. I asked my parents to go to AnimeNorth when I was around 9, but they said no. So, slowly I lost interest in going to a convention. The impression I developed of conventions is lots of walking around, looking at stuff I am not interested in buying and being around lots of people who think they’re cool.
I do not read manga. For anime, streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Funimation let me watch lots of anime for free, so I usually only buy anime movies or series that I really want to support. Very few stores within an hour of where I live have a decent anime selection, so I buying online is easier for me. I usually buy from amazon.ca because most other sites have huge shipping fees or only ship to U.S. I don’t have much interest in buying other anime-related merchandise, but it would be cool to buy a Chocobo plushie, a new Pikachu plushie or something One Piece or Evangelion-related.
I don’t know too much about Japanese culture. I know some things about kabuki theater, samurai, geisha and Japan during WWII. Otherwise most of what I know about modern Japanese culture comes from anime, sites like CultureJapan or other sites/articles/blogs/videos that cover Japanese culture. For example I know some things about Japanese food, the Japanese school system, social customs, recent social problems like Japan’s suicide rate, aging population, also “otaku culture” in Japan.
About anime's popularity in Japan, yes and no. Anime might be popular, and people of different age and sex might like anime, but I think the general view of anime in Japan (from those who don’t watch anime) is “it’s okay to like, as long as you don’t like it so much that it’s creepy or detrimental to your health or others”. It’s always the extreme cases that get reported, like otaku who stalk voice actresses, that give a certain hobby a bad reputation.
There are many different social factors to consider when thinking about how anime is received in Japan. In general I think everyone should be more mature and open to share their cultural experiences. Anime was made in Japan after all! The Japanese people should have a right to admire and appreciate the art and culture that its own country has developed! As a Canadian it’s a little bittersweet being an anime fan. I realize that anime is a big part of my cultural experience. I want to talk about that and figure out how anime fits in with Canada’s multiculturalism and what that means for me. I mean… everyone loves sushi… why not anime??
I hope it was fun to read about my anime experiences. Feel free to post any questions or comments, or talk about your own experiences! :)
|Auron570 is an aspiring writer, whose hobbies include piano, video games and anime. Follow him @jasutinu|