Part 1 here. Let’s pick right up from where I stopped.
Mid 2007-Early 2008: /m/ – Mecha Anime
SaiGAR’s aftermath ushered in a relative era of calm. I say relative, because SaiGAR season was very chaotic. But the peace was very brief. The /m/ trolls, once a very small group that struck during inopportune hours, began multiplying their numbers and assaults.
Good things came out of SaiGAR, though. /m/ got a ton of converts, and newfags arrived in droves, begging the oldfags for recommendations. /m/ took them under their wing and baptized them with must-watch shows. You probably know what they are by now. However, with the help of trolls, /m/en started berating each others’ recommendations, and newfag threads got derailed. /m/ learned that there is a big emotional investment in recommending anime, and harsh criticism on a person’s recommendations generated RAGE.
As I saw it then, the spirit of the times called for a critical discussion of mecha anime. Previously untouchable shows were picked apart by the very same /m/en who had praised and loved them. /m/ started to become critical of itself. It developed a mind, and a sharp and biting wit along with it. Too much, I’d say.
Perhaps the anime that most influenced the new /m/’s behavior was Gurren Lagann. It was an excellent show. Scratch that, it was GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGREAT. Another amazing title solidifying the /m/ belief that G is the manliest letter in the alphabet. It blew me away, and I even got my real robot friend to like it despite his aversion to supers. /m/, such as it was, enjoyed it. But the trolls enjoyed it too. There was too much material for them to work on: episode 4, spoilers, Nia the moeblob, Rossiu was right, Yoko the Doombitch, HURR DURR SENSELESS DEATHS, Viral is a useless sub-pilot, Gainax end, etc etc. The people caught on, and got infected by the hate–they started to bitch about almost every little thing in the show. I, being content to enjoy the ride for what it was, was aghast.
With Gurren Lagann arrived a new batch of super fans who considered it to be the absolute best super robot anime ever made, the be-all and end-all of everything (protip: it’s not). These guys trolled on old, well-loved super robot shows, and fans of aforementioned shows fought back by derailing Gurren Lagann threads as well. It was as if two children learned how to cuss and assaulted the other with their newly-learned words. “Butthurt” became the most abused word in /m/. Before I knew it, Gurren Lagann made a profound impact on the atmosphere of /m/: much as we loved it, the show had split us asunder–the new school versus the old school fight racked /m/ to its very core.
I did not like it at all. /m/ was turning into /a/, becoming a shadow of its former self. /m/ was no longer /m/echa, but /m/echa anime instead: just like /a/, but only about shows with mechs in them, barring the occasional Touhou hijack. Naturally, the old-timers resisted this change and added fuel to the RAGING FIRE by attacking threads they deemed to be not /m/. Like Code Geass R1. (Such actions kept /m/ safe from Geass fever, until R2.)
/m/’s penchant for big-name mecha anime did not stop with Gurren Lagann. Gundam 00 showed up. I found myself drawn to /m/, because I cared for what it thought about this strange new Gundam show with the stranger premise of ending war through armed interventions. But a broken /m/ did not think as one, and I sifted through differing opinions, taking each one with a grain of salt. /m/ criticized the show, poked holes into Celestial Being’s ideals, formulated brilliant plans to defeat the Gundams using Union/AEU/HRL tech. Discussion was intense. The Meisters were lampooned as terrorists, and the antagonists were praised for fighting the power. People took sides in the Celestial Being War: the majority favored the outmatched but not outskilled aces, while the fanboying minority forced stupid sexy Meister memes, which later contributed to the growing faggotry of the board.
After 00 came Macross Frontier and Code Geass R2. The former was met with critical acclaim (I remembered the time when everyone bitched about how “shoddy” the production staff was when it had just been announced) and shipping wars, the latter approached with a good amount of lulz. At least Geass was finally accepted by /m/, after all that pre-R2 hype. If anything, we watched it for Kallen.
/m/ also diversified. Tokusatsu literally wormed its way into the board, one thread at a time, until it had a good enough following to be permanently evicted. /m/cosplay threads started showing up, mainly because /m/ hated the drama-filled /cgl/, and showcased the exploits of resident /m/ trap LoranBasaraEvin. Urk, that’s all I’ll say. More franchises tried to fit in (like Nanoha, Sky Girls and Strike Witches), and /m/en bickered among themselves as to whether these stuff were fit to be in the board. There was also the occasional Touhou hijack, which continues to this day even after the founding of /jp/. Megaman fans also found their own niche in /m/, either making Robot Master floods or talking about Megaman Legends, which is apparently the Turn-A of the franchise.
All along, the trolling continued. Years ago, /m/ was a great enough board that policed itself, needing no mods. Now that the trolls attacked with impunity, and /m/ developing violent knee-jerk responses to such posts, /m/en clamored for /m/ods, but it seemed that none were really up to task. PROMOTIONS even ran rampant and I started opening /m/ in a small window whenever I was in a public computer because it was NSFW half of the time. Then the GAR IS GAY troll movement started, and the sacred /m/ virtue of HOTBLOOD was desecrated repeatedly.
I turned to alternate means of anime discussion. I became active in a traditional kind of online forum, and found my anime knowledge to be very lacking, given my /m/echanical upbringing. I experienced a new thirst for non-mecha anime, and watched more varied types of shows. Coming into contact with people who had vastly different tastes from mine, I tried to understand them and what made them like their favorite shows. I saw girly shows, cute shows, stupid shows, and talking shows. Thanks to the people of MTF, I developed an interest in how anime was produced (directing, storyboarding, writing, etc), which gave me insights on why I like certain shows. I also began to watch anime based on directors, composers, character designers, and yes, seiyuu.
Being away from the board didn’t keep me from watching /m/ shows. I still watched a lot of them, but with a keener eye for the non-mecha elements.
I saw Turn-A Gundam, and marveled at how good it could be with minimal mech action. The story was too damn good. The lack of PEW PEW didn’t matter. And Sochie, oh Sochie~
I saw Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Patlabor, both /m/ shows with the mechs in the background. But that didn’t keep them from being cute and sexy, respectively.
I saw RahXephon. It tempered my belief in hotblood, and I began to realize alternate means to being awesome. Ayato was bland and a terrible painter to boot, but rose up to the big challenge and conquered it magnificently. And the ending had all sorts of emotional implications for me. Love, it can tune the world.
I saw FLCL, arguably /m/ due to Canti and Hiroyuki Imaishi. It had the best soundtrack out of every anime I had ever watched, and the craziness reminded me why I enjoy anime in the first place–because it’s strange and insane and wonderful.
I saw Giant Robo. It proved to me that you can be epic in a deeply personal way. I saw myself in Daisaku, and /m/ was my Robo.
Then I began to stop visiting /m/.
Mid 2008-Present: Transcending /m/anhood
Life was becoming hectic. I was doing my undergraduate thesis, and had to stay at school for extended periods of time. And my school, being the God-fearing establishment that it is, blocked 4chan. (At home, I discovered and explored /co/, and it despaired me how a weeaboo-counterculture board proved to be on par with old /m/ in terms of win.) SaiGAR 2008 appeared, but most of /m/ agonized at how it spoiled the board and decided not to care anymore. (And the contest itself crashed and burned–nothing of value was lost.)
/m/’s influence on me did not diminish, though. It taught me to be optimistic, to see beyond a show’s failures in order to discover its hidden merits. It also taught me (or at least, the old /m/ did) that the best way to diffuse a troll is to ignore it, as trolling is just attention-whoring at its very core. No attention given, no satisfaction gained. Perhaps people could learn from this, especially /m/ today, but sadly people aren’t as tolerant of dissenting opinions like myself. Internet, SRSBZNS, etc.
After months of watching mecha-less shows, I mellowed. I became an anime fan who stopped restricting himself to genres. Maintaining an open mind, I pounced at people’s recommendations and convinced myself that every show watched was a learning experience. Because I had deprived myself of regular anime for quite long, I had a ton of catching up to do.
I met many people along the way: lolicons, pompous airheads, lovers of everything under the sun, eroge fans, regular anime fans (of course they exist, don’t be silly), Jump fanboys, shippers, cel animation purists, porn aficionados, and many others.
I came back to /m/ just like Takemoto had come from his extended bicycle trip.
I had hoped that /m/ would revert to its old self when I returned. But people don’t rollback along with boards, and /m/was just as I had left it. However, the occasional win still resurfaces–look out for amazing people who upload extremely rare artbooks and manga (I managed to get a complete scanlated Five Star Stories a few months back! Some day I plan on reading it.). And the SCIENCE threads appear every now and then, with one great thread leading me to Atomic Rockets. Thanks to my mecha sabbatical, I’m no longer allergic to /a/, and comfortably slough through the hate in order to collect GUNUNUs and whatnot.
I would’ve been a very different anime fan right now if I didn’t make that fateful visit to /m/. Because deep down, it is a big part of me, despite all its current imperfections. I came, I left, and I returned. Thanks for reading up to this point, and I’ll end this overlong post with an apology: Sorry, I’m not an /a/dult. I’m a /m/an!