Tales of Real Otaku: Charles
By Charles On 1 Nov, 2010 At 08:02 PM | Categorized As Featured, Tales of Real Otaku | With 0 Comments

I can specifically remember the first time I ever saw an anime, and knew what it was. I had watched Voltron as a child, knew it was awesome, but had no idea what I was seeing was actually Japanese. I remember television commercials for “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “My Neighbor Totoro,” and thinking they looked rather odd, but again, no idea they would eventually become such a huge part of my life.

My First Steps

No, my first real “anime” moment came in 1998, when I first saw “Dragonball Z: The Dead Zone” movie. It has just been released on DVD and VHS with an “all-new translation.” Well, I didn’t see that one. Rather, my friend at the time gave me a copy of his direct-to-Chinatown bootleg of the original, and I was hooked. I remember watching that tape over a dozen times in the span of a week, then going out and blowing a ton of cash on the “Ani-Mayhem: Dragonball Z” card game, along with a few exorbitantly priced anime VHS tapes from the Virgin Megastore.

Anime for me was sort of a trickle that became a deluge. For the first few years, I had to satisfy myself with old copies of MIXX-zine for my manga needs, Cartoon Network (and wicked early mornings) for my DBZ fix, and relying on others to get me shows. It all changed in college when a good friend gave me two things that would forever chart my destiny: Rurouni Kenshin, and the location of the anime shop on Canal St. For the first time I had seen an anime that wasn’t DBZ, and my mind was blown. I remember finding the NY location for Kinokuniya one day, finding the Kenshin comics, and buying up about $100 worth (along with some expensive game music soundtracks), and a solid Japanese dictionary so I could translate them. Anime was still expensive at the time, so I made do…until the same friend showed me the hole-in-the-wall where he got his tapes from. Another quick $100 later and I had all of Gundam Wing, Magic Knights Rayearth and an even bigger craving for more.

These days I’ve gone from desperately seeking more to almost drowning under the weight of what I own, but haven’t seen. Looking back on the past 10 years of my life, I see more and more distinctly how my devotion to fandom has changed, and how, at east for me, fandom isn’t directed at just one series or just one medium, but at the experience of being a fan. Be it my early obsessions with Power Rangers and Ghost Writer, my years as a die-hard Trekkie, the glorious summers I spent watching the classic Star Wars movies while building decks for the CCG, my delves into the worlds of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, or my more modern pursuits of anime, manga, J-culture and gaming (and my desire to study it as much as possible), for me fandom was always that friend I had that I might have taken for granted, but who stuck by me when I needed help, and opened me up to worlds I never knew existed. And for that, I am glad.

My name is Charles, I am the “Anime Anthropologist” and I am an otaku/gamer/writer/philosopher/academic/scholar…but above all, I am a fan.

Welcome to my world.

About - Charles has written for ROG since 2010. An anthropologist and culture lecturer, he has previously been a featured panelist at Anime Boston and Otakon, the first educational guest at Anime USA, and frequently speaks at cons up and down the East Coast. He received his MA in cultural anthropology in 2011, and currently writes on convention culture, sacred culture in media, otaku identity and mythology.

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