Otaku: Then and Now Part 1

I have considered myself an otaku ever since the term came into public consciousness. For those not in the know, an otaku is the Japanese equivalent of a geek or a person that is too passionate towards his or her hobbies. So you can safely interchange toy geek, comic geek and car geek with toy otaku, comic otaku and car otaku.

I've been hooked to anime, manga, tokusatsu, sentai and practically anything Japanese since I was a kid. Although back in the 80's and early 1990's, the words anime, manga, tokusatsu, sentai was not in anyone's vocabulary yet. We referred to giant robot shows such as Mazinger Z back then as 'Japanese cartoons' or 'Japanimation' (check out old anime and manga magazines and you'll see). But more importantly, there's no such thing as an otaku here back then.

VHS was king back then...

Me and my buddies would watch anime in little old VHS tapes that we prop up in those bulky VHS players. Stuff was hard to come by and we treated our own little would-be-subculture as part of the geek 'underground'. Very few people know back then knew anime and manga beyond Voltes V, and watching Macross and Devil Hunter Yoko, even Urotsukidoji, back then was our trip. In a good sense at that.

Now for manga, we usually get them at a thrift shop that sells obscure stuff. Tankobon (manga collected volumes) were cheap but then again, we don't have manga translation sites or translated graphic novels back then. We had to come up with our own stories for everything that we read. And it all felt just right. Ah, the things we do during our pastimes...

Back then there were still no cons, no cosplay, no video streaming sites. People don't gather to discuss the latest episode of Sailormoon for fear of being branded as 'weird'. Anime and manga sites were known as 'shrines'. Playing Japanese video games is like having an alien give you a cartridge to play with out of whim. And model kits back then require glue to build.

Every bit of anime is rare and golden and that was I and a lot of people growing up in the 80's and 90's remembered it. And those were good times. But things change, we all know it.

More to come!
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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. I definitely remember all of this.. its all coming back to me now. Thank you for sharing this (^^)

Raipo said...

Yeah isn't it nostalgic!

Anonymous said...

I can definitely relate to the Sailormoon thing.. and yes, VHS was the King back then (^^)

Oo, napaka rare at unique pa ng ang mga Anime dati at yung ang naging charm nun dati.

Raipo said...

Sabi nga nila sa rap: "Never forget your roots".

Otaku forever!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Flashback. In 1980 something, the only anime club in the US was the Cartoon Fantasy Organization. RTG had just published Mekton and Teenagers From Outerspace. Matt, Trish, Tosh and Mike started Animag--the first anime mag in the States. We managed to work a trade deal with fellow fans in Japan to get VHS tapes of Gundam and Gundam Zeta, but only a few of us knew enough Japanese to translate them. 2" plastic "candy models" were the only mecha gaming figures--we had to con the mgr of the local Albertsons to order cases of them from a Japanese food distributor. It was like riding an anime wave and even the term otaku was in the future. Good times. Thanks for reminding me.

Ryan Toledo said...

Yeah good times indeed anon 10:46

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