Interview #1: When/how did you become a mecha fan?

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Interview #1: When/how did you become a mecha fan?

Post by Grebo Guru » Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:07 pm

1. When did you become an anime/manga fan? How did it start?


Kinda hard to say. I was certainly an anime fan before I knew what anime was. I grew up in New York City; as a kid, when my folks would take me to the village, we'd always stop in at a toy shop called Second Childhood. That store had antique toys AND imported Japanese toys. I fell completely in love with the Japanese Microman toyline. I still have a few, and they really outshone my Micronauts toys.

I also watched Speed Racer, of course, but that didn't prompt the reaction that watching Star Blazers did. That show got me "super pumped" (as they say over at realultimatepower). Unfortunately, it aired in NYC at a time when I was on the way to school, so I only ever got to watch it when I was home sick. But man, that ending sequence -- "there are only [###] days left!!" -- got me every time. I also loved watching the "Shogun Warriors" cartoons on Showtime, but unfortunately those aired when I was on my way BACK from school. So, sick days were really my anime days. I still didn't know the shows were Japanese though.

I think my true introduction to anime was when I accidentally caught an episode of Cyborg 009, followed immediately by an episode of Captain Harlock, airing on Spanish TV. It was in Japanese with Spanish subtitles... it was a revelation.

Meanwhile, I'd been a comic book reader for as long as I could read, and naturally this led me to another great village institution, Forbidden Planet. My many ventures there, initially for comic books, soon had me lusting after all the cool, imported Japanese toys and models they had there. By this time I was fully aware that Japan was the land of awesome toys and cartoons (I scoffed at Transformers while adoring Macross). I bought my first anime magazines there, and drooled over pictures of Zeta Gundam and Megazone 23. I had already bought my first anime books while on a trip to San Francisco (Votoms Roman Album, Macross and Vifam Perfect Memories), ironically the same trip and same store where I got my copy of original Mekton.

It was after buying anime magazines for a few months from Forbidden Planet that I hunted down the more knowledgable fans in the store and found out from them where they found the shows: Tokyo Video, a Japanese video store hidden on the fourth floor of a building on 44th street, off 5th avenue. I went to that place EVERY DAY after school -- I rented and watched all sorts of things. The very first thing was Megazone 23, and then all of Zeta Gundam and all of Layzner and ZZ and Dragonar and Urusei Yatsura and Iczer-1 and all sorts of stuff. Of course, all of these were Nth-generation VHS tapes with no subtitles, but I still loved it all.

I took Japanese classes and Asian History classes, all to better understand anime, but I was always a loner in my hobby. I wasnt part of any club, didn't have any friends who were really into anime, none of that. It wasn't until college, where I founded the University of Rochester's "Animation Interest Group" that I had comrades in my hobby. I also got into manga at that time, when Eclipse and then Viz started publishing manga in English.

It was through the UofR and Mekton that I eventually came to work for VIZ Media. I was a huge Mekton player, and the RPG club on campus held a gaming conventione each year. We invited Mike Pondsmith to come as a guest one year, and he agreed -- I met him, got along with him, started freelancing for him, and moved to California to work for him after college. By the time RTG closed down, I had become friends with Mark Simmons (through another RTG coworker), whose wife Julie worked at Viz. She got me a job there, and that pretty much gets me to where I am now.

I guess it really is all about who you know...


Post by Spaceseeker51 » Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:54 pm

I come in from the opposite side of the spectrum as Benjamin. I grew up with anime, living in a Japanese household, watching my first shows like "Mach Go-go-go (aka Speed Racer)", "Kagakuninjatai Gatchaman" (aka Battle of the Planets), "Time Bokan", "Gattaiga", "Daiapolon" (hurray for football helmet wearing super robots), "Go-Shogun", "Uchuusenkan Yamato" (season three imported from Japan on BETAMAX), "Raideen", etc. either imported via family friends from Japan or watching them during dinner on the local Asian (Japanese) channel KTSF channel 26.

Amusingly, shows and movies like Gundam, Macross '84 and Crusher Joe were introduced to me by American friends via grainy 6th generation VHS tapes, or super sharp direct copies from LDs, and even LD's themselves. I've had my run-in with a hysterical "Future Boy Conan" dubbed in Spanish. Through a combination of a Kinokuniya bookstore supplying manga and artbooks up the wazoo and friends (and a decent Japantown) with ready access to the material, I expanded my anime base exponentially.

My name is Koji, I am an anime-holic. I don't have a problem, and I stop anytime I want. I just don't need to right now.

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Post by 2000YearsOldMan » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:46 pm

I became a mecha fan after when I first time saw the original transformer.
The original transformer still kick ass. :D
original gundam series rule.
my site

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Post by Newton » Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:42 pm

Hi. I'm Newton Ewell, and I'm a mechaholic...(yeah, baby!!!)

Ben, I understand about NYC and Forbidden Planet. I was taken there by my best friend for my 21st birthday, on a whirlwind daytrip. That was one of the greatest events in my life. I just didn't care about anything else. I wanted to stay in that store for the rest of the trip!

I got started early, with Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation epics (Fireball XL-5, Stingray) that ran on the St. Louis NBC affiliate, KSD-TV. The slick designs and amazing (for a three-year-old) special effects put me firmly in the "Mecha Rules!" camp. Since the merchandise for these shows wasn't really available in the US at that time, I'm slowly catching up on my childhood mecha fetish thanks to HobbyLink Japan.

We also got anime like 8th Man, Astroboy, and tokusatsu fare like Ultraman and Giant Robo (Jonny Sokko) on our local independent stations. After I got older, I found out that this was due to the fairly large Japanese population in St. Louis.

Now, if I can just find another job in this racket, my life will be complete. Ben, what's the job situation at VIZ?^_^

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Post by Grebo Guru » Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:17 pm

VIZ Media, LLC seems to hire a lot of people these days, Newt. It might be worth a shot... ;-)

I visited Forbidden Planet just this past month. Been a long time. Still a cool store.

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