Everyone gets older.

You find yourself listening to the radio less and less. MTV? Fuhgeddaboutit. It’s corny.

There’s a grey hair. And a wrinkle.

A lot of things happen in your late twenties/early thirties. Your priorities change. A lot of folks are married and looking to become homeowners. Others have achieved that, and are on their way to becoming parents. They leave the things they loved In their youth behind.

As I approach 31, I’ve become… nostalgic. Unlike many of the people my age who are anime fans, I never left fandom. I can draw a straight line from the time I broke down when Roy Fokker died in Robotech to today. After Robotech, Tranzor Z, Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years left the air, I kept up with anime through raw tapes and hard to watch 10th generation fansubs.

I was a Books Nippan frequent shopper. I bought everything U.S. Renditions put out. I saw Akira in the theaters. In 1988. I own almost all of the Streamline Video back catalogue.

I was the anime pilgrim at my college. I started the anime club. I got my mentor hooked on Macross Plus and Orguss 02. I wrote papers on feminism and the imagery of Motoko Kusanagi.

Then, I came home. And I got involved in anime conventions. First as a volunteer, but soon after, I was running them. I’ve met most of my close friends from working at anime conventions.

Recently, the bloom has come off of the rose. I haven’t found any anime that really appealed to me. The last new release I bought was the Zeta Gundam box set.

Has fandom passed me by? Have I outgrown the thing that I loved for a couple decades?

I decided to have a little chat with our erstwhile editor-in-chief. Tim and I have been friends since 1998. When I met him, he was hunched over a computer, trying to get the Anime Central newsletter out. I was walking around the hotel with a garbage can full of beer. The more things change, the more they stay the same I guess…

Tim: I'm doing my editorial on the 80s.
James: What about the 80s?
Tim: Oh, it'll probably be on anime styles in the 80s and how I keep seeing it off and on in anime titles today.
James: I wonder if anime fandom has passed me by &
James: I haven't been engaged by a series in years.
Tim: Yeah, it's hard to keep up on things nowadays.
James: Bebop in '01-'02 is the last thing.
James: I think the industry's in a slump. Except Naruto.
James: And, once upon a time, we only got the cream of the crop here. Now, we get the garbage, too.
Tim: Yeah.
Tim: Well, we're getting everything now, where before we only got the cool stuff.
James: That's what I meant.
Tim: Yep.
James: We don't get all the crap with manga. We get some crap, but the market would collapse with the amount of crappy manga that could be published.
Tim: Oh yeah.  And the last thing we need are manga publishers acting like anime producers.
Tim: "We'll buy it just cause we can."
James: There have been modest hits, like Azumanga Daioh and Samurai Champloo.
James: Maybe Naruto will shake things up.
Tim: Hopefully.
James: heh, in Japan, outside of Naruto, they're still making toys, plushies, and other paraphernalia from Macross, Eva, and Gundam.
Tim: Yeah, cause they just can't give up on things like Gundam.
James: They make money. What else has replaced those things (and Bebop) in the pantheon of great anime?
Tim: In the last 2 or 3 years?  I can't think of anything really.
James: There's Bebop, Macross, Gundam, (I don't count Takahashi's work 'cause it was popular as manga before), Eva, Yamato... Anything else?
Tim: Just looking at series... hmmmm.  Dunno.
James: Films brings anything Ghibli or Otomo, what else?
Tim: As far as films, little else qualifies.
James: There's Saint Seiya for anime.
Tim: I mean, if we want to get into silliness like Sailor Moon, there's that, but most people take shoujo and toss it out the window anyhow.
James: I wouldn't. I forgot about Sailor Moon. We'll add that to the list.
Tim: Pokemon
Tim: That's a phenomenon in and of itself.
James: Pokemon started the anime renaissance here.
James: heh... DBZ even owes its success to Pikachu.
Tim: Yeah.  Robotech started it in the 80s. The revival with Pokemon brought the anime explosion of the 90s.
James: DBZ failed on air in the mid-90s. They brought it back after everyone was playing Pokemon.
Tim: Yep.  Poor DBZ.
Tim: And that lead to things like YuYu Hakusho.
Tim: And the insanity of InuYasha.
James: So maybe we've been spoiled.
Tim: Well, we grew up with all the good stuff.  Poor kids nowadays are being bombarded by the "anime is cool, we have to do it" movement of every media company out there.
Tim: Doesn't matter if anything is crappy.
James: Yeah.
James: Most companies think anime=speedlines and big eyes.
Tim: Granted the 90s had some pretty decent stuff though.  Things like Escaflowne and Fushigi Yuugi.
James: Bebop was a product of the '90s, too.
James: Maybe the new millennia is to anime what the early 70s was for american films.
Tim: The American animation industry can't get the fact that, all the "imagery" aside, it's the stories that the japanese shows have that make things watchable.
James: besides blaxploitation, name a good film made before '75.
Tim: Well, there you'd have to define "good film".
James: something not goofy/kitschy.
Tim: Made *before* 75?
James: yep.
James: not an obscure, artsy movie. but a movie that captured the public's imagination. in any genre.
Tim: I'm sure there are a few but nothing overly memorable to what I can remember.
Tim: Yeah, something happened to anime in the 90s.  The economy was a part of it, but I think the world went into some kind of writer's block in the late 90s and everything that came out was just  blah.
James: yeah.
James: Macross Zero was excellent, but you had to be an old Macross head to dig it.
Tim: Yep.  
Tim: Yeah, times have definitely changed.  
James: There's more out there, but you need to be pickier.
Tim: Yep, that's true.
James: There's some good manga around.
Tim: It's hard to imagine that things would be like they are today, oh, say 5 or 6 years ago.
James: You ain't just whistling Dixie.
Tim: It's ironic that the world was afraid of the Japanese taking over the world in the 1940s... it took them 60 years, but they're on their way. :P
Tim: and I type that as a Sharon Apple song comes on in iTunes.  Heh.  :P
James: I don't think they'll take over the world. The U.S. still has another 50 or so years of hegemony left.
Tim: Oh yeah, but I doubt that anyone here ever really thought that the airwaves would be overrun by "big eyes" like it has.  
Tim: When companies like Del Ray are publishing manga, there's something big happening.
James: Noone expected that, but hell, now we have Teen Titans mimicking the style. And they do it well, too. And Megas XLR. And Totally Spies.
Tim: I really need to pay more attention to the manga scene though.  I haven't had much time to in the last few years.
Tim: Yeah, now if they could mimic the storylines, we'd be set.  
Tim: and I love Teen Titans like none other, but the stories are overly predictable and, when it comes down to it, not exceptionally original.
James: heh. yeah. As opposed to JLU, which is the best animated show on TV in the east OR west.
Tim: Yeah
James: I've been reading more manga than anime, so I'll admit I haven't been up on the anime scene.
James: I'm around enough, though, that if some "must watch" series came out, I'd be all over it.
Tim: Getting back into that 1996-1997 type vibe is a good thing.
Tim: Even 1998.  Those were good years for me with anime and manga.  Of course, we weren't jaded by the anime con scene back then either, so that is prolly part of it.

I feel better now. I’m not the only one who has been underwhelmed with some of the choices in anime recently.


Of course, Tim has just entered his late 20s…


Aw, shit.