Thursday, December 23, 2010

Origins of a Semi-Weeaboo

It's obvious that I'm a big fan of Japanese stuff, but the other day, I actually stopped to think about how I turned from normal American child to semi-weeaboo adult.  I identify as "semi-weeaboo" because while I think Japanese stuff is super cool, I don't exhibit some of the inherent (and often annoying) weeaboo stereotypes, such as inserting Japanese words or phrases into my normal speech.  Lolis?  Not in my town! Heck, I don't even care if I never visit Japan.  As long as they keep making cool stuff, I'll be interested.

With that being said, how did I get to this point?  My first contact with Japan came through anime.  When I was about five or six, SciFi made some sort of big deal about how they were going to show the best in Japanese animation.  I was interested.  Cartoons.  Cool.  The lineup for this special event was Robot Carnival, Lensman, and Vampire Hunter D.  I still remember the commercials and intro for it.  Heck, I found a YouTube clip of it.

I sadly say that I don't remember much of Robot Carnival.  I think I might have been too young to appreciate it.  Lensman, however, blew me away and was recorded on VHS for later viewings until the tape got eaten or something.  Vampire Hunter D was cool as hell, and it forever became an epic masterpiece in my young mind.  Of course, Fox began airing Saban's Power Rangers, which would put me on course to becoming a tokusatsu fan.  I also watched the occasional Godzilla movie.

Some years later, the SciFi channel provided some more titles every weekend.  I ended up seeing a bunch of anime, much of which I can't actually remember anymore.  I distinctly recall seeing Iria: Zeiram the Animation.  SciFi had already showed the live-action Zeiram movie, so I ate Iria up.  They also played Ronin Warriors early in the morning on weekdays, and that was incredibly epic at the time.

Zeiram: bad mofo

By this point, I came to consider Japanese animation to be the top-notch stuff and serious business.  American animation just didn't do it for me anymore.  I actually went a few years without seeing any anime due to living in the middle of the woods and lacking cable service.

Anime would later come back into view in middle school as my friends started talking about Dragonball Z and Gundam Wing.  Of course, DBZ caught my interest, and I watched it until Toonami went kaput.  Gundam Wing was a major force in getting me permanently fixated on anime.  Say what you will about the show, but it was responsible for introducing me and many other Americans to the Gundam series.  GW also sparked my interest in Japanese music.  TWO-MIX's songs were so upbeat, melodic, and addicting that I didn't care whether or not I understood the language. 

The early days of Adult Swim took things a step further, with shows like Yu Yu Hakusho, and InuYasha keeping me interested while I developed my own tastes.  I also started getting into Japanese artists such as T.M.Revolution and L'arc~en~Ciel, whose music was featured in a number of anime titles.  After a while, I began surfing the net, hitting up places like Rightstuf and CDjapan.  

From that point on, my own tastes began to guide my viewing and listening selections.  .hack//SIGN, Macross, Evangelion, Zeta Gundam....  Yuki Kajiura, access, Sound Horizon....  I bet most semi-weeaboos and weeaboos can come up with a similar timeline of sorts.  I wonder if others started out similarly, as early, etc.  But yeah, back when SciFi was cool and wasn't SyFy, it set me on the path to where I am today, and then Toonami sealed the deal back when Tom was still alive.

RIP Tom ;_;

It's fun to sit down and actually think about the origins of your interests.  This can probably apply to everybody, even non-weeaboos.  It's fascinating to take a look at a fun part of the journey that has defined who you are and where you came from.

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