Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holy crap. I'm old.

So I was watching Shuffle! thinking that I might do a review on it, when I remembered that it first came out in 2005 and that made it a little too old to do any sort of review.
Hmm. This might be too old. Or maybe it's just me.

Then I thought to myself, "wait a minute. It's only five years old. Most of the clothes I am wearing are older than that.". Thinking further, I realized that I have videotapes of fansubs that are more than three times that old. I was a member of the Anime Club of Michigan back in the late Eighties/early Nineties. We met once a month at a comic trade show at a VFW hall in Livonia. We would bring in blank VHS tapes and club members who had the fansubs (mostly Gundam  for me in those days, but I also got such gems as Kimagure Orange Road and Legend of the Galactic Heroes) would dub them for us. Sort of a Samizdat network for Japanese cartoons. Each month, on the way to the meet, I would stop at the local Target or Meijer and grab a bulk pack of cheap VHS tapes, hit the meet and socialize with like-minded Southeasterm Michiganders and fellow Canadians. The next month, I would make the hour-long drive back to Livonia, pick up the tapes (and hit Koyama Shoten -- a local Japanese grocery -- for udon and a couple of packs of Mild Sevens) and  spend the rest of Sunday evening enjoying grainy ELP-quality anime (8 hours per tape! Can't beat that!). Glory days indeed.
Loosen the connection with your monitor to see this in "VHS-Vision!"

Going back even further into the mists of time, in the early-to-mid-Eighties I was stranded in northern Ontario, a poor pale kid stuck in a mining town (Timmins, Ontario) three and a half hours from the nearest city of any size. I was never the outdoorsy type -- surprise! -- so there was little for me to do but watch TV, read comics, play paper-and-pen RPGs and build model kits. Luckily at that time there was a pretty-well-stocked hobby shop and an equally well-stocked comic book store. I frequented both. From the TV, I got to watch the absolutely amazing (for me, at the time) Robotech, as lovingly butchered by Harmony Gold. From the hobby shop I got kits of giant robots bearing the name "Robotech" but, I later found out, in reality from cartoons called Fang of the Sun Dougram and Super Dimensional Century Orguss. I also got the Palladium Robotech RPG, where I learned that what I knew as Robotech was actually the bastard creation of an American company, smashing together three separate anime (or "Japanimation") series into one barely coherent story.(In later years, I would watch Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA and curse the day Carl Macek was ever let loose on those masterworks.).
Thank you, Carl Macek, and Curse You as well.

The same channel yielded a strange cartoon called Astroboy that had really cool tech and a robot main character with bizarre hair. Again, it would not be until much later that I found out the show I was watching was actually the second iteration of the Osamu Tezuka classic Tetsuwan Mighty Atom and was made specifically for the Canadian market.

Around the same time, the comic store yielded a comic that was unlike anything I had ever read: Area 88, by Kaoru Shintani. Being as I was in Air Cadets at the time, the story of mercenary pilots fighting a desperate war in the Middle East really struck my fancy. It was gritty, beautifully drawn and had more than it's fair share of tragedy and brutal violence. I still have every issue, going back to the first one I purchased (issue #1).

Still have it, mint, in bag with backer. Value: $2.

Scraping clean the last layer of this archaeological geek dig, we find ourselves in the late Seventies. A seven-year-old kid runs home from school to catch his favourite cartoon, Battle of the Planets (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, the American version), shown every weekday at four o'clock on Global TV. His life hinged on whether Mark, Jason, Princess, Tiny and Keyop, with the help of 7-Zark-7 and 1-Rover-1 (whose animation looked completely different, thank you Sandy Frank!), would be able to protect Center Neptune and the Earth from the evil Spectra and its dastardly minion, the lipstick-wearing Zoltar. They unmasked Zoltar in one episode -- and there was a flash of long, blonde hair! Was Zoltar really a woman? We never found out...

You wanna bet I had this kit when I was eight.
That same kid really pays attention in French class because the French channels have more of the same style of cartoon: Albatore, Corsaire de l'espace (Captain Harlock) and Goldorak (UFO Robot Grendizer), and if he learns French he can understand what the hell is going on; for example, why the pretty green ladies burst into flame when they are shot in Albatore..

Sure, it looks cool, but what are they saying?

Yeah. I'm closing on forty years old, here; been watching anime in some form or another for about 30 of those years. Suddeenly, a five-year-old series doesn't seem that ancient...

P.S.: Check the Zettai Ryouiki on Princess. Some things never change.

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Well thank you sir, for making me feeling nostalgic, and well frankly young.