My Early Years: Watching the Current Season

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.

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13 Responses to My Early Years: Watching the Current Season

  1. super rats says:

    Discovery is one of the things that’s harder to accomplish these days. Part of me longs for the time when you had to work to find out things. For me it’s easy to get nostalgic about the vhs days. At the same time, I watched a lot of garbage back then, though I enjoyed watching even the worst stuff since that’s all that was available. Everything has its pros/cons.

    It’s one of those strange things. The more anime and related information that is available, the less I watch, since I have so much more information that I’ll know with reasonable likelihood if I’ll like a show. Since discovery is now something quaint, a retro activity, I’ve reconciled that letting other people slog through it is better. Lurk around long enough and even the shows you initially dismiss might come back to your attention if somebody out there bangs the drum loudly enough or even mentions something in passing via twitter. So discovery nowadays to me is less about discovering What, but about discovering Why I’d be interested.

    • schneider says:

      I still look at VHS-era anime fans with wonder–I imagine that the dedication needed to get one’s anime fix back then is extreme! And there are those horror stories of ludicrously bad dubs…

      So discovery nowadays to me is less about discovering What, but about discovering Why I’d be interested.

      This is true for me, as well.

  2. Marina says:

    Though I appreciate the charts that come out ever season, I still do things “old school” by trying out a one or more episodes of each entry on the chart, whether or not I had them on my OMG MUST WATCH list. In previous seasons, I’ve too easily overlooked shows because of the short little synopses on the charts. I come back to them some time later and wonder how I was able to pass up such good anime in favor of others that season that were just sub par.

    About the two anime you briefly discussed here: Code Geass never grabbed my interest the way it did so many other people. I am, however, a huge fan of Yakitate!! Japan, so maybe Bartender will be something I find interesting. Thanks for the fun read.

    • schneider says:

      Thanks for reading! I don’t pick up that many shows during the start of the new season, so I rely on word-of-mouth to watch shows I’ve missed, preferably after they’ve finished airing (so I don’t get swamped with too many anime at any given time). It’s something that’s tried and tested for me.

      I’ll have to tell you that Bartender is very far from Yakitate, because it’s a seinen episodic healing show, but it’s well worth watching.

  3. ToastCrust says:

    Bartender is grade A. I downloaded purely because I liked Lunar at the time (LUNAAAAAAAAR), and at that era, I got introduced into most new anime via watching other shows subbers I’d already used subbed. I watched a lot of Lunar’s stuff (I found Diebuster through them too, which them led me to watch Gunbuster after seeing the first ep of the former).

    It’s sort of nostalgic. The identity of who subbed a show these days has devalued so much in just half a decade.

  4. DoctorBaronvonEvilSatan says:

    Ah, I remember the VHS era. Where a single tape required a weeks worth of savings and it only had two episodes at most.

    The story of how you encountered Bartender sounds like something from the show itself. You never really know where you will encounter the “glass of the gods”.

    • schneider says:

      With how I saw alcohol as a forbidden fruit back then, it was a big eye-opener.

    • Joylove says:

      have fond memories of trekking to chinatown to a rustic toy shop to order anime, (usually DBZ (raws), Sailormoon (raws), Ranma 1/2 (viz dubbed), Macross, and Urotsukidouji , paying around P250.00 ~ P350.00 then waiting for more than a week for the tape to come (burned from a LD copy) .

      Later moved on to ordering anime set divx cds overseas , leeching through IRC channels and finally moving on to Bittorrent

      I still can’t believe how easy it now is to watch anime and also get the latest episode with subs.

  5. Too young, can’t relate.

  6. Turambar says:

    Was Code Geass really that long ago? Man I feel so old now.

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