I was not born a /m/an. Granted, I was born in a country with an almost biological inclination towards robots, and that spark stayed long dormant in me, until I realized my potential and capacity to love mecha. Here is me attempting to chronicle the journey to /m/anhood.
2005: Before Courage, There Was Hate
My first forays into 4chan took me to /a/, because I was developing a serious interest in anime at that time. /a/ isn’t a friendly board, as 90% of 4chan isn’t, but it had content. Soon I was studying about the current shows of the season (I was still on dial-up at that time so I couldn’t watch them yet) and building up my knowledge base on anime. There was the occasional mecha anime thread, but they were few and far between.
The problem with /a/ is that it hated itself. Every thread had its own detractors and it was agonizing to read a lot of them. Take note that my Internet Asshole tolerance at this time was very low and I often slept with negative thoughts about myself. Lurking in /a/ gave me the image that me and the shows that I like sucked. It was terrible. I didn’t become an anime fan for this!
So did I abandon my search for anime knowledge? No. Someone led me to /m/.
Early 2006: Awaken, Young /m/an!
I had a friend who was very into real robots. That fateful night, I was talking to him about /a/ being a cesspool of hate and loathing.
“I don’t go to /a/,” he said.
“What?” Take note that /a/ was the only real anime-related haunt that I was frequenting back then.
“I go to /m/.”
I steeled myself from asking him what /m/ was, and looked it up myself. /m/ is a mecha board, I learned, and I promptly visited it. I was greeted with pictures of mecha, of labors and mobile suits and variable fighters and armored troopers. Interesting, I thought. I read the threads, saved the pics, and didn’t go to /a/ that night. Sleep was pleasant.
I found myself visiting again and forgetting to go to /a/. Soon, sagebombs and shitstorms became a thing of the past, and I immersed myself in mech talk. I learned that the SEED mech designs that I had loved were terrible compared to older designs, because of Okawara’s degeneration into Backpack Syndrome (make them bigger!). It was a slap in the face and had me reconsider my old beliefs in mecha (like Voltes V and Daimos were strongest ever, Dairugger XV had the most awesome gattai sequence, and Kira Yamato was the best pilot for Gundam).
/m/ at that time was a great place. But most of all, it was true to its name and purpose: /m/ was a board for mecha. We were content to talk about mechs, and weren’t fanboys. We didn’t typecast ourselves as /m/echanoiods, /m/en, /m/orons, or what have you. Discussion about the shows in which the mechs appeared therein was politely replied to, redirecting the people to /a/. And it was smart. Minovsky particles, AMBAC, beam technology, discussion about why Valkyries spammed missiles and shells instead of PEW PEW, the threads were full of SCIENCE. There were a couple of other super robots too, but threads about them were few and far between. I didn’t care about them at that time.
Good old /m/. It was the most civil 4chan board I had ever the pleasure of knowing.
Then SRW came along, and with it, the rise of super robots.
Mid 2006: Victory goes… to those who shout the loudest
When I learned of an English-translated SRW, I knew it would reach /m/ someday. I played OG, and enjoyed it thoroughly. /m/ started to talk about it, and it seemed that it loved SRW OG too: the mechs were all awesome, and the story was fun and engaging. Gradually, discussion turned to the pilots themselves, about Ryusei being the patron saint of /m/, the rise of the Trombe meme, and Zengar being The Sword That Cleaves Evil (which later became Daicensor). Slowly but surely, pilot discussion became accepted in /m/. Then came the super robots. We talked about Grungusts and the SRX. More and more people brought super robots up for comparison, and by then I made it a point to learn about the other half of the mecha fandom.
I befriended a guy at school who was a big fan of super robots. He was loud and annoying, like a lot of super robot pilots are, but he was a nice guy and recommended a lot of shows to watch (half of them about super robots, and the other half being lolis).
He told me to watch Gunbuster. At first I was ambivalent. “Why should I watch it?” I asked.
“Gunbuster is the only robot anime in which the actual robot appears halfway in the series,” he said.
Okay, I gotta see this, I thought. How could a mech show be interesting if half of it didn’t have the main mech?
And I did watch it. That was it. I returned to him and told him what I thought. I couldn’t remember what I said back then, but it was about Buster Pilders, Buster Beams, Inazuma Kicks, and Coach.
“Good! Now watch Diebuster. It’s the sequel,” he said.
“WHAT? THERE’S A SEQUEL?”
“That’s just not it. Diebuster is much even bigger than Gunbuster!”
So I watched Diebuster too. It was strange and colorful and I kept looking over my shoulder while watching the first episode because I was afraid that my mom could walk in on me and discover me watching such shameful shows.
The ending made me come hard, but I didn’t know omo back then so I wasn’t able to provide a proper benchmark. Sorry guys. After these two shows, I became schooled in super robots. No longer did I put them off as childish and stupid. Wait. They are childish and stupid, but they’re FUCKING AWESOME. Like love, and all the good things in life.
My super robot anime viewing continued. I was pressured to a group-viewing session of GaoGaiGar FINAL and I reluctantly tagged along, wondering if this blocky robot had something to measure up to the Buster Machines.
I saw the gattai sequence. I saw Broken Magnum. I saw Goldion Hammer. And I came again. There appeared a strange parallel with what I watched and /m/. Soon after, I saw Gunbuster/Diebuster threads, and GaoGaiGar threads (I didn’t make them, mind you). More followed suit. I saw Shin vs Neo Getter, which served as a gateway to the incredibly badass Getter franchise.
/m/ reached a point where supers were as well-loved as reals. There was no real rivalry between the two fanbases–either they spilled over to the other or people had enough common sense to separate the two into discreet blocks. Even W40k tards who trolled regular /m/ threads were met with peaceful resistance. Then they began to mellow and started contributing positively to the board. For a lack of a better word, the conversion was awesome. 40k tards, you will be missed.
It was as if there was an unwritten rule in /m/: Super fans, keep away from our tech, and we real fans will not complain about your absurdity. An exception to this would be Dai-Guard, which achieved a distinct category of its own: Awesome type.
This period is what I consider to be the Golden Age of /m/. The almost stringent, mechanical flavor of technical discussion was replaced with burning love and passion for the anime that made such talk possible. Science nerds learned hot blood and became MANLY. It was good change. We weren’t people visiting /m/ anymore: we became /m/echanoids (the term /m/an still didn’t exist). People now raved about the shows themselves, and my to-watch list was filled to the brim.
However, as Merlin had once told Arthur, when a man reaches his peak, God will destroy him. And so /m/ started to plummet after reaching its apex of perfection.
The roleplaying started.
Late 2006-Early 2007: Rise of Tripfags, RPfags, and SaiGAR: The Ruin
As long as I could remember, tripfags were respected and tolerated in /m/ (except A.r maybe, who was often told to go back to bed). They knew their place–they knew they weren’t smarter than anon, and were just regular people who chose to post with a tripcode. However, there began a trend towards new tripfags, who aped almost every SRW-related name possible. Suddenly there were Ryuseis, Alt Eisens, Nameless Grunts, etc. Their posts were different. They were childish, and had none of the tempered interest in /m/ things. Fanboys, if you call that. But /m/ was still a nice place, and didn’t mind. Yet.
I don’t know who started /m/ RPing. Nor would it matter if it was anon or some random tripfag. However, it spoiled the board. People started posting bullshit nonsense jokes, insulting /m/’s capacity in making smart memes. Char’s ephebophilia was transformed into pedophilia (there’s a difference, Jim), and the more diverse 4chan people caught on. It was mildly humorous to me at first, but I didn’t realize the damage it was doing to the /m/echanoid.
Then SaiGAR came. Thus started the /m/ versus /a/ war. Before the whole fiasco happened, /a/ and /m/ coexisted peacefully. There was no conflict of interest, and thus no invading happened. However, SaiGAR changed all of that. /m/ decided that we should field OUR OWN share of characters for the popularity contest, and pretty soon 40% of the participants was /m/-related to some degree. Tensions rose.
To be fair, it made for some epic matches. There was Death Note’s Light versus Master Asia, and when Master Asia won, /a/ ridiculed the win and swore that they would defeat the Undefeated of the East in the upcoming Alucard versus Master Asia fight. But Touhoufuhai won. HE WON.
There was Bright Noa, the Eternal Captain. He pulled off a couple of impressive victories against the /a/ front, thanks to the power of /m/ bloc-voting. I mean, he Brightslapped Kenpachi to oblivion. Wut.
Another fun fight was Char versus Quattro. Yes. /m/ bitched and argued about this bracket, and people took sides. “Char’s the original and is more popular than Quattro”, the Char lovers said. “But Char did most of his manly deeds as Quattro!” the Quattro front retaliated. In the end, Char won. Go figure.
/a/ realized they had a threat here in their hands, and decided to take the battle to the enemy. /m/ was subjected to a sagebombing raids, universally-loved shows were trolled, and the otherwise gamely yet peaceful /m/echanoids were roused to indignation. Hate was born. Some /m/echanoids retaliated in /a/, but /a/ was too large a place to make a good foothold on. We decided to just gloat on the board whenever one of our beloved characters won. It happened frequently.
Soon there was a ton of /m/ characters in the quarterfinals and /m/ fought over itself on which ones to prune. Ryoma Nagare, a strong candidate to being the GARest man of all, bowed out to Char, because of the pragmatic reason that more people in /a/ know Char than Ryoma, so making Char advance would increase the chances of an overall /m/ win. Super fans threw hissy fits and a crack appeared in the solidarity of the board. Guts laid the Eternal Captain to rest (and maybe Roy Focker too, can’t remember whom he lost to) after a long and bitter fight. /m/ held a funeral. But Master Asia was holding out and winning otherwise impossible fights! There was hope.
The time came when /m/ had to choose between Char and Master Asia. Again, the Char front pushed their argument about Char having more /a/dissident support (i.e. those people who were voting solely on the characters’ merits instead of “which board this character belongs to”), but the rest of /m/ decided to give the win to Master Asia on account of him being awesome through and through (arguably, Char degraded in CCA). A shitstorm arrived and battered us.
Now /m/ was united (though fragilely so, as the Ryoma fans were still butthurt over Char) in the finals. Guts against Master Asia. We gave it everything we got. But Guts won. We cried manly tears, and accepted our defeat. Guts was truly worthy of the title, not some godmoding shit like Alucard or Light. /a/ had their gloat, but it wasn’t enough. The damage has already been done.
/a/ had infiltrated us.
End of Part 1
Whew! That took a lot of effort. I’ve been wanting to share my journey into the wonderful world of mecha since I started this blog, and here I am, writing it already. However, I will have to cut my post because I am sick and I still have work until the 24th. It is cruel, I know, but the power of the paycheck compels me (in the hope of PC upgrades and more gunpla). Until then!