I consider the beginning of my anime fandom to have occurred in late September 2001, a couple of weeks after Cowboy Bebop’s debut as the first show on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. At the time, I was still a Pokemon devotee, though unaware of the term “anime,” and an avid Nintendo fanboy. It’d been a couple of months since my eldest cousin, then in his late teens, showed Ninja Scroll to myself and my cousin Boyd when we were ten and fourteen years old, respectively, which got Boyd hooked instantly. The timing couldn’t have been better with not only Adult Swim debuting, but also the magazine Anime Invasion, the first volume of which Boyd gave to me months later after we’d officially become “anime fans” via Cowboy Bebop and Yu Yu Hakusho. I think the point where anime became more important to me than Nintendo was around when Inuyasha premiered on Adult Swim in August 2002 and Yu-Gi-Oh! started.
Ten years is a long time—literally half of my life so far. By now, I’ve been an anime fan for longer than I haven’t, not even including four years of die-hard Pokemon fandom. It’s one thing to think of myself as a hardcore fanboy otaku, but it feels much more intense when I think of having been one for ten fucking years. I can confidently say that I’ve dedicated my life to anime.
Even more surreal to me is realizing that I found out about fansubs nearly five years ago, meaning that the period of my life as a “hardcore” otaku is almost longer than the period before it. I was fifteen when I started this site, after all. Wow.
I take a glance to my left and I see the shelves of my collection. A thousand dollars worth of manga, probably fifteen-hundred dollars worth of DVDs, a thousand dollars worth of figures, and this isn’t counting all the manga and DVDs that I sold over the years, nor accounting for the fact that it’s been over a year since I stopped buying anime altogether. I’ve still got about two years worth of Shounen Jump magazines from 2004–05 and a random collection of Anime Insider and Animerica magazines. Something like a hundred posters from Megami magazines, some that I bought, many which were given to me by a friend, and others from the likes of calendars and DVD inserts. Three big-ass wall scrolls of Gunslinger Girl and Lucky Star. A stack of artbooks and a stash of random character goods, mostly from my friend. One dakimakura pillowcase, two pillows with the Haruhi girls on them, a pillow with MiyaMiya from ef, and a bedsheet of Chihiro from the same show. A drawer of doujins, pornographic and otherwise. I’m probably forgetting something.
Even though I’ve only got a handful of posters up right now, you can’t turn your head in my room without hitting anime characters. I even just noticed I’m using a Last Exile mousepad.
According to MAL, I’ve started 944 anime. Of those I finished 447 of them, dropped 381, am watching 21, and have 95 on hold.
I’ve been to Otakon four years in a row, and went to Nekocon once, where I ran a panel. I’ve seen JAM Project live (ON MY BIRTHDAY). I sang karaoke alongside anime bloggers Omoikane and TheBigN.
I went to Manila and brought back nothing but cheap anime figures LOL.
I brought my two younger brothers up on anime and shaped them into the otaku that they’ve both become. I converted friends into fans, and helped to keep fandoms alive. I’ve met fans from around the world and all around the country. I slept in a hotel with Baka-Raptor and Patz. I let Patz stay in my house. I stayed for a month by myself in the Philippines with a guy that I met through anime blogging, and went with him and a bunch of other Filipino anime bloggers to a toy convention and to sing anime karaoke. We even got drunk together and watched Heartcatch Precure and Lucky Star, and played a Lucky Star drinking game until we were smashed on our asses.
I’ve run this blog for five years, with over 1,000 posts (counting ones set to private), a handful of which took days or weeks to write. I’ve had other anime blogs and a manga blog. I’ve posted on Yukan Blog, Oi Hayaku, We Remember Love, Shameful Otaku Secret, 2-D Teleidoscope, been featured on THAT Anime Blog, interviewed by Chocolate Syrupy Waffles (not yet up), and plan to post on Listeless Ink soon. I made it to the top eight in the Anime Blogger Awards (nevermind the means) and was called a true otaku by the Otaku Elimination Game. I wrote many attempts at anime magazines in my younger days as a fan, and I spent the better part of seven years as a member of Otakuboards and the Megatokyo anime forums, which I often forget (on purpose XD).
On a larger scale, I watched the rise and fall of the American anime industry, all while my DVD collection went from being the most important part of my fan identity to the least important. I’ve seen the rise and fall of my interests in series or genres or characters and anything else.
My Inuyasha t-shirt is too small now even for my brother who’s six years younger than me. I still have a holo-covered special edition volume 1 of Naruto (332 of 5000) which is basically worthless because a friend of mine bent the cover when he borrowed it back in 2003. Today, there’s no way I’d have bought all of the special-edition Haruhi DVDs nor all of ABe Yoshitoshi’s artbooks. To this day, I make a lot of anime purchases that I can’t even explain to myself.
It’s been over five years since Evangelion changed how I saw myself—over four years since Manabi Straight made me have a nervous breakdown—over three years since Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu made me have a total meltdown.
I get into the bone of my sword
Unbelievably dull is my body, and Fuzakenna is my blood.
I have created over a thousand blogs.
Unknown to burnout, nor known to apathy.
Have withstood pain to create many lists.
Yet, those lists will never be complete.
So as I blog…Unlimited Favorites Lists.
I’ve written at least one thousand favorites lists. I’m not even slightly exaggerating.
Anime culture is my life—ten fucking years of it. And this is what I have to show for it:
I couldn’t be happier.
Longest anime that I’ve completed since becoming a fan: Ranma 1/2 (160 eps watched in 2.5 weeks).
Most impressive amount of anime watched in a short time: December 2010: 201 regular episodes, 1 movie, 1 long episode, 4 short episodes. Alternately: watching all 50 episodes of Eureka Seven within 24 hours.
Longest time without watching anything: 2006. Had no cable and no money for most of the year and I didn’t know how to watch anime on the computer.
Greatest moment as a fan: No doubt seeing JAM Project live on my birthday in 2008. I didn’t know the band nearly as much back then as I do now, but SoulTaker had been my favorite anime OP for five years and I never could’ve dreamed I’d hear it live.
Best pieces of my collection: Black Rock Shooter figure, Remilia and Flandre Scarlet nendoroids, Tsukuyomi Komoe tiny figure. But this answer almost depends on the day of the week.
Proudest accomplishments as a fan: I love karaoke a lot, but my major blogging projects are the best.
Complete list of anime that have at some point been my #1 favorite: Cowboy Bebop, Inu-Yasha, X/1999, Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai X Trust & Betrayal, Trigun, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Welcome to the NHK, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Eureka Seven, ef ~a tale of memories~, Earth Maiden Arjuna, Gintama, Kara no Kyoukai, K-On!!
Official date on which I “reached otaku nirvana”: July 24th, 2010
Greatest Blogging Accomplishment:
Without question, 200+ Anime Worth Taking With Us Into the Next Decade, a post that has not existed since last year because when I moved back to wordpress, the post simply didn’t come with me. I have no idea why. I haven’t been able to recover it because my old site domain was snatched and I just don’t know how. So instead, let’s go with the good ol’ Don’t Fuck This Up series, or the Diary of an Anime Lived, which is awesome for way more reasons than myself. Tokidoki Balloon.
Most memorable watching experiences: Both involve Lucky Star. One was a 2008 marathon wherein my best friend, brother, an I watched all of it on the living room big-screen TV while my parents were away, and through which we paused constantly to look up references, sang along to songs, and had an absurd amount of fun. The other, of course, is getting tanked with ghostlightning and shance through four episodes of a drinking game.
Through the ups and downs of these ten years, one thing I can say is, “the anime was good.” Anime fandom gave me something to love and be happy about and it’s never left my side. It introduced me to all of my best friends and sent me across the planet. This medium and I will be together for life.
Amazing! I’m budding, myself- really, college was when I first started, and it’s been four years. Before that point I was just a Pokefreak who occasionally played Yu-Gi-Oh!
I suspect I should be worried I don’t know what the hell I’m getting myself into, but you’ve gotta teach us your ways. You already do it indirectly when you talk about what you enjoy. Or heh, run a sick experiment that “converts” normal guys and girls.
Here’s the question I have about fandom, though- don’t you have to be at least somewhat aware of what’s going on socially with other fans? You’ve got me wondering- thinking seriously about it, I don’t even know if I’m an otaku. The only markers I can point to are my intense feelings or what I objectively do with my time. I get looks, since I don’t really leave my bedroom except for lectures, work-study, and food. But I don’t think I’ve started even a third of the series you have, and it’s not as if I’m particularly interested in other people’s lives or current events- so as to keep up to date. Part of that was just child-rearing, but a lot of it is genuine disinterest, y’know?
I rarely play, barely enjoy eroge, and I’m such a snob that I have trouble liking LNs. Good Smile figures are crazy expensive, and nobody yet has shown me how to get a decent dakimakura yet- Internet searches are all I’ve got. I still haven’t decided whether I like cons or not- now, part of the reason for this could be that I never had the “take me under your wing” experience. Everybody seemed to just mind his or her own business.
My point is there’s that tension between the questions “Do I fit the bill” and “What do I like to do.” I wonder how fans deal with it. You seem to do just fine.
Otakudom and fandom are only about the intensity of feeling that you have and not about what that feeling is for. There’s something that the Otaku Elimination Game people said that I really liked—they said, “we like the Naruto fanboys, because even though they’ve only seen one or two anime, they love those to death.” When I got into anime ten years ago, I called myself an otaku. My cousin and I had a so-called production company named “Otaku Samurai” and all the two of us talked about was anime. Back then, anime to me meant what the two of us could buy on DVD with our scarce money, or what was on Cartoon Network. I knew nothing about the internet so I couldn’t do research, though my cousin did. I had a couple of magazines and that was it.
I didn’t even “find out” about manga until early 2003 when Shounen Jump started coming out here and I was buying those, then started collecting manga. I was already a so-called otaku, but I’d never heard of the medium where most anime comes from. But looking back, I still think that the me of that time was an otaku, because anime was all I talked about. My cousin and I used to end all of our phone calls and his visits to my house by yelling “ANIME FOREVER!!!”
Like Metalsonic700 said, the important thing is the passion. I mean, I barely buy or even watch any anime and like hell I’m going to give up my otaku credentials just because of details like that.
No, not being a poser, just, like, killing someone you love because of love or some shit like that (I’m weird).
Tokidoki Balloon forever!
The early days of Adult Swim were also when I became a serious anime viewer. I was going to write one of these post myself, but I decided not to count the year I’m spending off anime.
Yeah, one of the things I wasn’t sure about was if I could count the time that anime wasn’t the most important thing to me. For a lot of 2004–05 I was mostly into video games over anime, which had to do with the factors of 1. we moved away from where Boyd was and he was getting out of anime anyway, which meant less DVDs, 2. where we moved to got G4TV, and I started watching it, and 3. Just before moving there, I’d played Sly Cooper and Ratchet and Clank and fallen in love with the PS2 that I’d always reviled.
I still watched anime in 2005, but far less intensely. Likewise in 2006 I had gotten out of even video games because I stopped being able to afford them, and I got into music. But in 2006, I did watch both Evangelion and, at the end of the year, Haruhi, and the combination of those two shows and the Megatokyo forums teaching me about online anime that turned me back to the medium.
I prefer to not think too hard about all of it, and after all it’s not like anime culture disappeared from my life in that time or anything, since those were the years where I started doing image searches and found out about AMV Hell. But I perfectly understand your decision to hold off.
oh how time flies!
Adult Swim got me started but I didn’t start watching on a season by season basis till 2007ish on ye olde crunchyroll before it was yknow legit. Also on youtube. Gurren Lagann inspired me to DL the anime because the streaming quality was not the greatest and I could tell it was something that was special animation-wise. There was a site Anime-Eden that I ddl’d a lot of anime from mainly Bleach but also random things like Airmaster. Watching Haruhi was when I first went looking for other people commenting about anime and I stumbled on Subculture Anime Blog and Random Curiosity.
Though despite having watched a fair amount of shows and maintaining a hoarding-like mentality for doujins, I’ve never really considered myself an otaku. I am enthusiastic about certain shows. I watch, I read, I comment, and I occasionally write but that’s near the extent of my fandom. I’ve never bought anything beyond a few dvds and about 5 issues of Animerica. I’ve never attended a convention nor had any kind of strong desire to attend one. I shared some Karaoke online once or twice but I’m pretty bad at singing pop songs in a foreign language. If there is any aspect of the fandom I am somewhat otaku about it would be seiyuu. Generally mostly the industry side of seiyuu like tracking what shows they are in, deciding on favorites, and rating their performances. I could care less who Hirano Aya is sleeping with. So for the most part…if people want to say I’m an otaku I guess they could be right but I generally don’t consider myself one.
Like I commented to Misfortune Dogged above, it’s best not to overthink what it means to be an otaku. I think if anime is the biggest thing in your life, then you’re there, no matter what parts of the culture you care about.
My history with streams is the same. I watched crunchyroll which looked like absolute shit and things I could find on Veoh, until I met my best friend and he taught me how to torrent. I think the first show that I watched after downloading was Shakugan no Shana lol. I too downloaded Gurren Lagann after it was done before marathoning it and even though I probably watche dit in 480p, on an actually 480p monitor, it had looked so good to me at the time that I really started to move towards downloads (though I still watched mostly streams until I saw Index in blu-ray).
“The anime was good.”
If the unthinkable happens and you die before me, I will move heaven and earth to make this your epitaph. :)
I’m glad you recognized my intent with that line lol.
That’s quite a list of accomplishments you’ve got here =) I’ve hit my 11th year as a fan this year and have also done a helluva lot now that I think about it – I’ve also acquired thousands of dollars worth of anime products, been to Anime Expo five times, close to 300 completed anime on MAL, been to Japan twice, made many anime-loving friends over the years, been running my blog for five years and my main site for nine years…I could say more but I won’t bore you with my own stats and will save it for a possible future post ;)
You said you like karaoke…do they have any Japanese-style karaoke places where you are, ones that have anime songs with the kanji on-screen I mean? I discovered my love for karaoke when I went with my university anime club to a karaoke place with anime songs. Since then I’ve managed to be able to sing a few of my favorite songs =)
None whatsoever. It was pretty culture-shocking for me that a place like that existed in the Philippines, and now I’m even more shocked to learn that they exist in the States. I need to move to a better city lol.
Nice powerlevels. Someday I get there.
I was a fan back when I was still in high school watching the likes of Samurai X, Dragon Ball and Pokemon. That was 16 years ago. The internet at that time was a foreign thing and computer is that of a luxury. The only source of anime for me was the television. Maybe if the technology existed back then, and I can afford it, I would have turn out to be a hardcore otaku like you too.
I never would have thought that I still love anime when I reached 30 though.I guess this passion of mine runs deeper than I am aware of.
Congratulations for that 10 long freaking years
This comment is can’t be true. 16 years ago, Samurai X did not exist (unless you mean rurouni kenshin from the Sony releases which weren’t on TV) and neither did Pokemon. I don’t think DBZ was on TV yet, either. Also I have a very hard time believing that you’re thirty (or older than me at all for that matter).
I don’t think I’ve read a more interesting story about one’s growth as a fan than yours. You’ve been everywhere!
I just like it when people post about their growth as a fan. I’ve been getting more and more interested on why people like (or not like) things, and it’s important to chart turning points in fandom such as these. I’m thinking of making my own…
Glad you’re interested! It was actually a post just like this which was the first time ghostlightning commented on my blog (“Roadmap to my anime fandom,” circa 2008). I love these posts even though I feel like a broken record telling parts of this story so often.
What Anime are those two Angel looking girls from?