This is part of a little post series I thought of, where I would write about my early experiences as an anime fan circa 2006-2007, and reflect on them with clearer hindsight.
When I think about it, anime has changed a lot since I first started watching fansubs. Back in 2006, fansubs didn’t appear mere hours after the episode’s airing date, and there were no fags making season preview charts. Fans would pick up shows to see what they were about, and decide whether to drop or continue after the first few episodes.
That said, I encountered two memorable anime by this very unreliable method. The story goes like this:
One hot afternoon break, I was watching anime on my laptop when another friend came up. He had a flash disk with him, no bigger than 1 GB in size. Inside were a couple of the new season’s shows, and he intended us to watch a few of them. One of them was this strange anime where a teenager’s glowing left eye compelled a couple of soldiers to shoot themselves. I liked that one enough to watch the next episode in the following week, which had some actual robot action.
I wish Code Geass stayed on the ground, rather than attempt a clumsy mecha arms race.
The other one was something my friend described as a “mature Yakitate Japan”. I didn’t know what to make of it, but we watched the first episode anyway. It had no battling element at all, but the main character did serve a drink that gave his patron an epiphany, solving his dilemmas. And it was classy as hell. I guess my friend was disappointed, who would drop the show after three more episodes. I stuck around, even after it took ages for later episodes to sub (LUNAAAAAAAAAR).
Now, I’m way overdue for a Bartender rewatch session. Because after having a lot more drinking experience under my belt, I think it would be great to revisit the show and appreciate it even more.
It’s all very different now. With season preview charts, people could just read a one-paragraph summary and the staff credits to see if they’re going to be interested. While it lessens the chance of jumping into a show without prior knowledge, the drawback is that people dismiss shows based on what little they’ve gleaned from them. I mean, I completely passed over Level E this season, suspecting that it wouldn’t interest me at all!
Hell, I’m gonna marathon that one, but all in due time.
And my experience is not even that old. I have friends who started watching anime even before torrents existed (fun fact: SEED Destiny was one of the first shows to be distributed through BitTorrent), and some even hail before the digital fansub era. But to me, watching Code Geass and Bartender for the first time and reveling in the precarious discovery of such shows, it all seems like a distant era.