The first step is admitting you have a problem.

The helmet is real.  The ability to pilot an advanced transformable mecha?  That's fake.

That ain't a motorcycle helmet, folks.

I had a dangerous addiction during my teenage years.  Oh, it started off innocently enough; I’d steal a half-hour after school, or maybe an early Saturday morning before my family had gotten up yet.  Soon it had progressed. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, where it was all we did and talked about, and the next thing you knew, I was finding ways to involve it in every aspect of my life.

Then, I finally hit rock-bottom.  I couldn’t hide from my problems any more. I found myself looking into abyss when I handed a fanfic to my creative writing teacher in 11th grade for credit: I had become a teenage anime fan.

You know some prunes would clear that right up.

This week on Dragonball Z: CONSTIPATION!

It is with humility that I admit before all and sundry that I was a teenage otaku.  Thank Zombie Jesus this was in the mid-to-late 90’s, well before the advent of the horrible influx of fuckery that modern anime fans watch such as Naruto – the worst I can say for myself is that I was a religious Dragonball Z watcher back before I realized that it was the same thing every episode: someone in a torn shirt and a bloody nose screaming like he was passing a kidney stone for twenty minutes straight.

Thankfully, Dragonball Z broke me of that vicious, unending cycle of fascination and self-loathing.  That, and taking Japanese classes at 8:30 in the morning three days a week freshman year of college (nothing worth learning in college should be taught before 11 AM, as far as I’m concerned).  It helped that my Japanese professor looked like a female version of Yoda; gone were my fantasies of the class being taught by some cute Japanese foreign exchange grad student with a tentacle porn fetish and a penchant for tutoring freshmen by taking a “hands-on” approach.

They're dolls.

They're not DOLLS, mom - they're ACTION FIGURES.

So I turned over a new leaf.  I took down all those the overpriced wall scrolls purchased at the local science fiction convention; I boxed up the action figures still in their packaging (taking them out of the plastic decreases their value!); I quit going down to my favorite comic book shop every Wednesday so I wouldn’t be tempted to pick up the newest issue of Horrible Drawn Manga Adventure #832; and finally I quit scouring the Internet so I could download the latest subtitled copy of Berserk (everyone who was anyone knew that for the true anime aficionado, watching anything not in the original language of Glorious Nippon was blasphemy).

But what caused such a horrible, crippling addiction?  For me, my gateway drug was Robotech, the Anglicized version of three distinct and completely unrelated Japanese anime shows that had been stitched together by an American company called Harmony Gold at the hands of Carl Macek, a lowly producer and story editor that was one of the true pioneers for bring anime to the United States that sparked controversy for the cavalier attitude he took to the original subject matter.

Whether you see him as an guardian angel or a no-talent hack, Macek was incredibly influential in bringing anime to the US, as after he left Harmony Gold he started Streamline Pictures, the now-defunct distributor that brought seminal works such as AkiraVampire Hunter D, and Fist of the North Star to American audiences.  I know more than a few of my friends remember wearing out our VHS players as we watched those four movies, along with everything else we could get our hands on.  Deep, abiding friendships were formed over that ridiculous, over-the-top action – friendships that have either endured to this day or that have been rekindled with an ease that borders on supernatural.

Lynn Minmay was a cunt.

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For me, nothing has really recaptured that same sense of wonder and exhilaration that I felt upon watching Robotech as it originally aired, especially the first third of the American series, which was taken from the seminal Macross, a mecha franchise that is only second to Gundam in its longevity.  Due to a licensing dispute between Harmony Gold and the original Japanese company that produced it, Studio Nue, no imports of any Japanese sequels appeared in the US until the amazing Macross Plus.  This left the majority of English-speaking Macross  fans little choice but to rely on poor-quality bootlegs subtitled by fans and sold at anime conventions – I once bought what was purported to be a full run of Macross 7 only to have it be old episodes of that awful Dungeons and Dragons cartoon from the 80’s.  If I ever find that asshole with the Flock of Seagulls haircut, he’s catching a massive beating.

I remember the thrill that went down my spine when I found out that the Exosquad cartoon from the early 90’s had licensed the designs of the Robotech mecha from Harmony Gold and were coming out with a toy line.  There were rumors of an Exosquad/Robotech crossover for the cartoon’s third season, but my hopes were dashed when the show ended up being cancelled and Universal pulled the plug on my dreams of seeing F-14 Tomcats turning into robots that beat the shit out of each other.

RAW RAW, FIGHT THE POWAH!

I can only hope the UK adopts this flag.

A part of me died that day I heard the news.  Don McLean would have written a song about it if he had still been alive (it was only after that I found out he wasn’t dead).  My downward spiral into trying to find an anime that would ease my pain began.  For a while, medieval fantasy anime like Record of Lodoss War helped get me through those cold, sleepless nights, but even then I knew it was just a stopgap measure until I could find another show with massive engines of death entrusted to moody, emotionally unstable teenagers; I tried both Gundam Wing and Evangelion, but it just wasn’t the same.  Plus, both those shows were utter shit; there are much better Gundam shows out there, and if you ask me, the only good show Gainax has ever put out dealing with giant robots was Gurren Lagann, and that’s just because the whole series was intentionally over-the-top to the point where there were Voltron-style super robots composed of larger and larger mecha merging with one another until the climactic battle between the good guys and the bad guys had not galaxies but universes being used as ammunition.  You know, maybe I’ll just re-watch that, it’s been so long since-

Holy shit.  This has gone on way too long.  I need to call my sponsor before I start watching episodes of One Piece or something.  Fuck you, Netflix, and your streaming high-definition content.  I need to go take a cold shower or something.  Besides, I promised my mother I’d never join the military unless I got to pilot the giant robot.

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15 thoughts on “The first step is admitting you have a problem.

  1. LOL, Dave, did my Mullet haircut comment inspire this one?

    Anyway, looking back on things, only a FEW modern Anime have really touched me.

    If your looking to get back into Anime on any casual (yah right) level you might consider these gems.

    Cowboy Beebop – This is IMHO the best anime in decades, the series is poetic, it is operatic, it’s hard boiled, and it has a style and feel that few Anime ever will capture. Imagine beeing an interplanetary Bounty Hunter, that’s always broke, and traveling with a group with the best Chemistry since Star Trek (TOS).

    IMHO the American Dubbed version is the way to go for this one. I know that’s some kind of illegal activity for many Anime fans, but trust me, the humor and voice acting are stellar and I think all subtitled versions of this end up losing some charm. Anyway thanks to the magic of DVD you can try it both ways.

    Samurai Champloo – OK this one is made by the same people almost who make Beebop, you can tell within seconds they use similar Archetypes and things. But in almost every way this is a virtual TIE for first place with Beebop. It’s got a great sense of style, mixing modern hiphop attitude (Trust me, it works) subtly with Edo period Japan as two absolutely baddass Ronin help a girl find the Sunflower Samurai. From beginning to End, this show will make you laugh and cry. No kidding.

    FLCL – Ok this one will require about 10$ of special magic leaves to make sense to you all the way through, but the ride is both fun, sexy, and has a style that honestly really grabs you and makes you feel like you almost understand Japanese culture (you still don’t, but you will feel like you do). The end will probably make less sense than the beginning, but you won’t mind. Your brain will think you just dropped 2 quarts of Acid and a Six pack of Shrooms.

    Paranoia Agent – This one is a TRIP. It’s anthology of interconnected stories with various characters (a few reoccur), and their dealings with a presumably supernatural menace called Little Slugger. By the end you will either get it and be amazed, or you will not get it and pretend you do (like most people do after watching PI).

    Shin Chan – OK not strictly Anime, and nothing like the (even worse) Japanese version. But this shit is my feel good show. Something about it is very comforting. Like some people like a fried Peanut butter and Nanner sanich, or Deep fried butter sticks, I like this. I used to be all stressed out when I had a job, and be up late due to insomnia. Crying about having to be up in 2 hours, and this gem of a show would come on, and I’d find myself giggling uncontrollably. The episodes with Happiness Bunny are among my most recommended.

    So you see Dave, unlike many other things nostalgic, Anime hasn’t lost it’s way, it’s just changed it’s focus and style a little. IF you havn’t seen them already, and watch nothing else on the list I just gave, Watch Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, you will thank me.

    I think.

    • Your comment on my last post definitely got me thinking about this, Dan, so I guess Derick can blame you for this!

      I’ve actually seen bits and pieces of nearly all your suggestions, except for Paranoia Agent. I may check it out if I feel like falling off the wagon.

      The problem with Cowboy Bebop for me is that someone pulled a Usual Suspects on me and told me how it turns out in the end. Made me want to strangle somebody! For the sake of spoilers I won’t say any more than that, though I can’t imagine people in this day and age not knowing what happens. It’s like not knowing Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father.

  2. What the hell is wrong with you? You deny the saving graces of lords Jubei and Duke? I think those 2 have saved anime for me even though the NS series is utter crap. The movie still makes it entertaining to me. And there’s something about a man sniping people with an M-16 that just makes me giggle inside.
    But that’s only if I get the time to watch in between everything else. I blame Toonami for the horrible things we had to go through but we were young then and didn’t know any better.
    Reading this reminded me of high school and I hate you bastards for it.

    • Jesus Christ, I completely forgot about Ninja Scroll. That had ridiculous balls-out action, though I always kind of like the inexorability of MD Geist a little more. Fist of the North Star had exploding heads, though. You can’t get much cooler than exploding heads.

    • LOL sup Derick!

      I forgot Ninja Scroll too, but to be fair, I only really liked the movie. My wife got me the series and honestly for me it didn’t age well IMHO especially compared to Samurai Champloo. But then again there is no accounting for taste, so my taste-buds could be flawed and yours could be at the connoisseur level.

      And Dave, OMG someone RUINED Bebop for you? I hope you ripped their eyelids off. Well… All I can say to that is, the end is not the point, it’s like Lord of the Rings, It’s pretty obvious how its going to end to anyone that has an IQ over 36, but people read it and sucked Jackson’s tits over it daily for the last 10 years or so.

      Like LOTR – Cowboy Bebop is in the telling, the series doesn’t really “lead up” to the ending so much as the ending happens and puts a capstone on the story. Really, it’s like a short story masterpiece. If we still lived near one another I’d drag you over for a Marathon. By the end you’d probably consider getting a Welsh Corgie and naming it Ein and naming your first born girl Ed. I shit you not.

      Also Forgot to give honorable mention to Fullmetal Alchemist, The Brotherhood version is a lot more dark and mature than the original series, and the plot is a bit different. Fullmetal Alchemist however has the problem of being Long. Not Inuyasha Long (hey I liked the first season or two…), but long.

      As for modern Anime that really bugs me.

      Fuck Naruto… BLEACH is the one that makes me start wanting to bite concrete. I thought Dragon Ball z was predicable and slow.

      Every episode revolves around a LAME draw out fight where some character is dueling some other character and they go back and forth (ala DBZ) but try to make it more cerebral with lame ass plot twists that revolve around one character revealing their super power, just in time to be countered by the opponents super duper power, This is then immediately followed by Super Duper Deluxe power, then Super duper Deluxe ultra power, and back and forth with go.

      At some point (usually by the time of one of the characters whips out their Super Duper Deluxe ultra omega Grande Supreme magnificent Ultimate power) the character meant to win the fight will dig deep and somehow (just in the nick of time) “level up” their San Pack To (Spirit Cock in English), And unleash some technique that in the next fight will just be considered a super power, and we start from square one all over again.

      The entire series can be summed up by watching a pair of Teenage nerds trying to one up each-other (We know who we are) by playing the “Everything you just said plus infinity plus 21” game. It just goes on and on and on. I guess it’s try what they say – We hate most in others what we find in ourselves.

      • I purposely didn’t mention Bleach. I think they named it that because after you watch an episode you want to pour some directly into your brain.

        And oh god Inuyasha, isn’t that just DBZ for chicks?

      • That’s the 2nd time I’ve heard Inuyasha referenced as DBZ for chicks. Weird.
        I can safely say I’m glad we all got out of the anime stage without ever doing a Sailor Moon/ Tuxedo Mask cosplay. Unlike some people. Poor him.
        Also: Deathnote. People die when they are killed.

  3. Remember Gundam: 0083? Pretty good series.

    Anime isn’t the only thing that took a hit from the ’90s. for me… all those Japanese publishers/game dev companies went to shit, too.

    • 0083 was great. I think my favorite has to be the 08th MS Team though, just because there was less of that Newtype bullshit and it was more about just normal soldiers fighting it out in the trenches, so to speak.

      A lot of publishers and game developers went down in the mid-late 90’s, you’re right. I think that the Square-Enix “merger” can act as a large representative of that; post-acquisition titles from that company have been kind of crappy in comparison to the older ones, even without resorting to nostalgia goggles.

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