Hey everyone! I figured I bring this one up because some don’t really know the fight and sacrifice that had to be made in order for us to have anime so accessible. Gather round kids, it’s storytime. I would consider this to be a part two of my blog about my experience as anime became mainstream. While this blog focuses more on the implications of how anime traveled from studio to network to landing in the hands of a distribution company in the United States; it will also cover the generations that were effected.
Once upon a long long time ago, anime used to be bought by distribution companies to be dubbed and subbed. Some were aired on television mostly in the early morning and late at night. This timeframe expanded on the weekends being hours in the morning and hours in the night. To this day we have channels that do the same.
Then the distribution companies started to go under, like Geneon (that was Pioneer previously). That resulted in Funimation taking titles to save the anime we held so dear. Given Funimation wasn’t that big at the time they ended up becoming one of the biggest outlets of that time. The people behind those companies were Gen X, the OG Otakus from the 90s and earlier.
Once Funimation made it big, voice actors began reaching higher in the industry and eventually became line producers, producers, casting directors, and the like that then hired Millenials to be the next generation of voices we hear today. So much so, that Houston has grown a whole community and culture of voice acting. Pretty amazing right?! With the steady rise of Netflix, more anime became visible to the consumers of entertainment in America.
Meanwhile, those of us that were avid Otaku now were called “Weeboo”s then. We were bullied and slandered, ostracisized and isolated in our communities. Have that be family or peers, people called us perverted and devil worshipping crazies. Wearing a sweater in support of our favorite character or anime was a declaration to be publicly humilated. (Back then, nerds were their own clique so they wanted nothing to do with Otakuculture. Mainly they stuck to American comics and academics.) So many of us hid our passion for anime for our own wellbeing and tried our best to find like-minded individuals. But then, something amazing happened. Social media.
At this point, there were sites that existed that had servers filled with anime to watch. They also featured other things like dramas and live action movies from all over the world. But with the boom of Youtube it opened up a whirlwind of creativity with the birth of AMVs and world-wide music sharing (Limewire in it’s prime). All of a sudden, foreign content was discoverable on a large platform. Where Millenials and Gen X-ers began to create tribes of Otaku. From MySpace to Facebook, GaiaOnline to World of Warcraft we found our groups on virtual platforms and were able to build up Anime Conventions on the backs of the fans. With cons came the birth of cosplay and platforms like Instagram, that helped put anime on the map.
So when Gen X-ers and Millenials started having children of their own they felt the need to share what they love with the next generation. Thus becoming the weebs we know today. As Gen Z starts to have babies of their own they too feel the need to share their passion and love for anime with their own children.
That’s it! A very brief summary of all the people to be thankful for. That somewhere there was an Otaku fighting the good fight and creating community where there was none.