Monday, May 6, 2019

The Making of an Otaku, Part Four

A second Robotech convention brought the gang and I back to San Francisco, this time with Reba West as the guest of honor.

Lynn Minmei herself.

On that trip, I ran across a pair. 

A Dirty Pair.

Kei and Yuri, of the World Welfare Works Association (or 3WA). 

I had run into them before in that anime booklet with a summary of Dirty Pair: Affair of Nolandia.

A pair of cute girls with guns.

Right up my alley.

I bought two Dirty Pair books: a film comic featuring two or three episodes from the series and an art book with stills from various episodes plus techical sketches and additional line art.

For all of 1986, Nausicaä slipped into the background and the Dirty Pair took center stage. I remember gushing about how cool they were for much of that year. I'd not seen any episodes or even the movie whose summary I'd read but check out this film comic and these stills! They're bad-ass!

The next year, 1987, Viz Comics released a bi-weekly comic called Mai the Psychic Girl, a manga by Kazuya Kudo and Royichi Ikegami. The Pair slipped into the background and Mai took center stage.

The following year, 1988, Viz released the English translation of Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. Everything else fell into the background and Nausicaä again took center stage.

Where she stayed for the better part of three decades. More on that later.

But that was manga. We're here to talk anime so let's get back there.

Let's talk about a guy named Dennis.

You remember--our anime pusher. The guy who brought in the Daicon IV opening animation video.

Apparently, Dennis had a connection who was able to get bootleg videos from Japan. An uncle or cousin or something like that. 

We didn't care. He got us our anime fix and he didn't mind sharing what he could get.

And since we're talking bootleg, we're talking at least a 2nd generation copy, sometimes 3rd or 4th. 

On videotape, kids.

It was the 80s. That's how we rolled.

'Cuz we were hardcore, yo.

But as long as the quality was somewhat decent and not too fuzzy, we were on it like flies to honey.

Shortly after sharing the Daicon IV opening animation, Dennis heard us talking about Robotech.

"Have you seen the Macross movie?" he asked us.

I looked at Pat. "Wasn't that the photo comic you had?"

"Yeah," said Pat.

We turned back to Dennis. "What about the Macross movie?" we said.

He grinned, a impish, toothy grin. "I can get it," he said.

And two weeks later, at our club meeting, we sat and watched The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? 

In Japanese.

Without sub-titles.

And a tad fuzzy.

But oh, what a glorious thing it was.

Since the movie was essentially a two-hour retelling of the Macross segment of Robotech, we were all familiar with the story and could pretty much make out what was going on.

Dennis loaned a copy to Pat who then made copies for me, Chris, and Robert.

It would be another couple of years before Dennis brought in an English dub of the movie. Pat made copies of that one for us, too.

Over our four years of high school, Dennis was responsible for bringing the following to our club:
Fist of the Northstar
Project A-Ko
Black Magic: M-66
Vampire Hunter D
Legend of the Overfiend
Bubblegum Crisis
Megazone 23: Part Two
Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01
Fight! Iczer-One

Probably not a lot of anime by today's standards, but at the time we took anything we could get.

There were other anime-y things we were doing, too.

For me, there was the repeated watchings of Warriors of the Wind (and secretly hoping to one day get a copy of Nausicaä), binge-watching all the Robotech episodes (I borrowed the rest of Macross and all of Southern Cross from Pat, New Generation from Chris), and talking with Pat about other anime we were learning about.

That learning came courtesy of a new magazine the two of us had just seen at our comic shop one day in October of 1987. A little publication called Animag.

Much like that anime booklet, Animag led me to The More via episode or OVA summaries. I read the storyline of Mobile Suit Gundam. I learned about Aura Battler Dunbine, Five Star Stories, Venus Wars, Zeta Gundam, Gall Force, and others. 

It was through Animag that I first learned about Bubblegum Crisis before Dennis brought in the videos to the club in late '89. I remember Pat and I being extremely overjoyed about that; we'd both read about it in the same issue. Shortly after we watched the first three episodes, the Knight Sabers became our favorite anime.

Except in my case, they took second billing.

Nausicaä, of course, held first place.

But I'd already mentioned that.

By the time I graduated high school and was preparing to head south to San Luis Obispo for college, I had amassed a smallish collection of important anime: my 27 episodes of Robotech, Akira, Project A-Ko, Metal Skin Panic, Iczer-One, Black Magic: M-66, the 7 episodes of Bubblegum Crisis, and, of course, Warriors of the Wind.

And a smallish collection it was.

College would open my eyes, especially when I met a guy named Mike my freshman year...

Next time: The Making of an Otaku, Part Five, or Abner and the Holy Grail, Manga Interludes, and Further Dispatches From Inside the Rabbit Hole

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