Just over one year ago, I returned to anime for the first time after swearing it off in 2008. One year since I started mashing my reviews all across TAY's front page. One year since I rediscovered how much I missed the singular imagination that animation is capable of conveying. Even so, I realize that there's even more to experience out there.
Restarting the Obsession
For those that somehow don't have the story, I was a young anime watcher, brought up by Cartoon Network's Toonami block on television. This was probably around 2001 or so. After some time, I also went about less trustworthy channels to get my hands on shows that still hadn't been brought over.
This occurred until about 2008, when I decided I was hanging up my anime fan hat, partially because I thought I'd reached the pinnacle of my experience with it, and partially because I didn't like the looks that an anime fan tended to get around reality. Also, it was a lot of work to get your hands on shows that weren't properly localized.
Anyway, I returned in late 2013 to retread that ground for a bit of personal enjoyment. I needed a place to stretch my writing muscles, so I decided to write reviews of anime on Talk Amongst Yourselves, which I knew did anime stuff at least in passing.
To be honest here, I was kinda pumped when I restarted. I sometimes look back at those early reviews and laugh to myself at how silly I sound gushing about things (or sometimes want to hit myself). Even so, I think I managed to hit my stride sometime around November/December, by which point I'm relatively comfortable with how critical I was about certain shows.
During my marathon I could pump out somewhere in the range of 6-8 reviews a month, which was no small undertaking since I watched all those shows in the month I would write them. It was long and tedious sometimes, but it was also my vision to do it that way. I wanted to get back in as fast as I could and reignite the enthusiasm that I once had for the medium.
Once the year ended, I decided to back off a bit and be more casual about the whole thing. My backlog is still huge, but I'm content with how far I got in the short expanse of two months.
My return was marked by a number of revelations about anime and how far it came in my five year exile. Not only was Funimation going strong, but a young upstart that I vaguely remembered as a bootleg website, Crunchyroll, had become a fully legal simulcasting website.
I, and many from the dark days like me, don't think people understand how incredible that is. I never had the luxury of simulcasting when I was a fan back then. Instead we had to scour the internet in the vain hope that maybe, just maybe there was some fansub group doing that show you were interested in.
It was a messy time, and I don't remember it all that fondly. It's one of the main reasons I think that the time we're living in is the best era of anime. I think it's difficult to fully appreciate it unless you dealt with the draconian policies of American localization companies and the streaming-less lives we lived.
Furthermore, I was kinda surprised that the anime community was less cloak-and-dagger and more "yeah, we're here". Maybe I was running in the wrong circles, but back in the mid 00's it seemed like community was always a bit shady, trying not to get noticed. Nowadays I don't see it hiding nearly as much. I don't feel ashamed to watch it because other people don't.
What Hasn't Changed
Anime itself. People bitch (and God do they bitch a lot) about how cutesy anime has gotten, but it's really not all that different. It's still the same medium it was back when I watched.
Really my favorite thing about anime is how it allows for ideas that would be prohibitively expensive in live-action to be created, and that includes science-fiction, otherwise known as my favorite genre. It's still able to convey these imaginative, off-the-wall crazy stories in the same way it was and I've had tons of fun with it. From AKB0048 to Arpeggio of Blue Steel to Date a Live, I've never been more amazed at how crazy and imaginative this medium can get.
Where Else I've Gone
It's worth noting that during the course of the marathon Ani-TAY developed a bit. It expanded with people like Rockmandash12, who did visual novel reviews. Visual novels are one of those curiosities that I hadn't explored much during my previous experiences, so I also ended up realizing that, like anime, the visual novel localization industry had expanded quite a bit. Visual novels have ended up as another one of my favorite mediums of storytelling.
After all, it was the genesis point for my favorite series of all time.
Where to Go From Here
I'm very content with returning to anime. I might have been skeptical at first, but I've realized that there's still more to see out of this industry. I've enjoyed writing these articles, watching these shows, and playing these games more than most things I've done in the last few years.
I'll continue writing if you continue reading, and I hope you do since I'd really like to keep writing. It breaks up the monotony of being a Computer Science major.
- TuT-senpai: You gave me author rights, which I always appreciate.
- Stormborn: For being a pretty chill guy that replied to my early stuff.
- mattlikestogame: I still remember you by this name. I appreciated your enthusiasm in my articles.
- Rockmandash12: For following my example and helping make Ani-TAY a community its own.
- Morie: For being a rival on everything (especially Cheesecake, I mean whyyyyy-).
- Koda: For being another fine addition to Ani-TAY in those transitional days.
- FruityDrinks: For inviting me onto the Ani-TAY Podcast and generally being a nice Brit.
- Aestevalis: For being an early supporter and friendly face (well, avatar I guess).
- Exile: For being a survivor like me.
- Marsh Naylor: For being there early on as well and helping with the Ani-TAY blog.
- Everyone that affiliates with Ani-TAY that has helped make it a community in its own right. You've been what's kept me going even in the hard times.
- The TAYvians that don't like anime, but generally put up with our TAY hijacking every season.
- And those guys on Observation Deck that read the stuff I tag to go over there. You're also a cool bunch, even if I don't visit you all that often.