krpalmer: (kill la d'oh)
[personal profile] krpalmer
An “Answerman” column on Anime News Network explained where the money so many people these days see as having gone into OVAs and movies of the 1980s had first come from. Its discussion thread then spun along to the point of mentioning a book about American reactions to Japan in that decade, said to include a chapter about anime fandom then. That did get my attention, inclined as I am to reflect on having been around for that decade without really managing to pick up on just where some of the syndicated cartoons I’d taken quite an interest in had first come from until the decade following. I started looking up the electronic version of Andrew McKevitt’s Consuming Japan, then went to the point of signing up for Kobo when the title wasn’t available in the Apple Books store in my country; now, I’m wondering if the “bonus points” Kobo gives with purchase outweigh the differences and complications in its reading program from the standard Books.

The book did seem interesting when it was describing things like the contrast between the romantic exoticism of James Clavell’s Shogun and the rabble-rousing paranoia of Michael Crichton’s Rising Sun on either side of the 1980s or the increasing availability of sushi as a delicacy perhaps not so exotic any more, but for me all of this just might have felt like working towards the chapter on anime at the back of the text. It opened at last describing a Space Battleship Yamato film being shown at the 1983 World Science Fiction convention (but apparently not the precise title that was supposed to have been shown), which had me thinking of having already seen reports of a bigger presentation of anime at the convention the following year. Before long, though, I was wondering about being “too close to the subject” as I noticed the chapter seeming to play up a “denationalized” look to anime characters. This forced me once more to consider how my anime and manga consumption hasn’t led me to take in much in the way of “live action” from overseas even if I still remembered, without being able to source, comments seen here and there over the years that Japanese people accept “cartoony exaggerations” without somehow seeing them as “the people they want to be but aren’t.” Perhaps, too, I just get a little leery whenever I see Henry Jenkins and “textual poaching” being brought up; for some reason, I’m resistant to “noble fans versus incompetent creators” narratives.

Along the way, though, I did see some fanzines of the era described, and one had a title distinctive enough I thought to search for it online, just to see what would turn up. I might not have expected to see an Internet Archive link to “Megalord: APA Superdimension U.S.A.”, but I did. The fanzine itself was a little thin (even including the tape lists of some of its contributors), and I suppose I wondered a little just what had caught McKevitt’s eye about it (beyond, perhaps, “being available.”) It did, though, happen to be linked to several others in the Archive of varying age (one had an editorial worrying that towards the end of the 1980s, there was no “really good stuff” being made in Japan any more even if American fans were getting better access to the better works of the past) and solidity. The most interesting of them seemed several issues from a Star Blazers fan club broadening its outlook in later issues. Two of the issues that were available, though, described the missing one in between as being Robotech-focused, and that just provoked “so close and yet so far” thoughts for me, wondering if it had fallen in that narrow window between “it’s not claiming nobody’s dying” and “the continuation projects have burnt out; it’s time to dismiss the whole thing.” I can wonder, though, that should these comments happen to reach eyes connected to that old fanzine this’ll be less likely to result in “here’s how you can still get a copy” than “these unredacted mailing addresses shouldn’t have been put online.” In any case, while I was already aware of current recollections to be found the different perspectives at least gave me something more to think about.
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