In this week's installment, Nate reveals his anime origin story!
Fanart Friday returns, and no, you can't have a refund without a receipt. Last week, we belted out thematically-appropriate songs with an all-Disney edition, but this week I'm taking over completely! Y'see, my birthday is on November 19, but I'm gonna celebrate a little early, and it's STORYTIME this week! I've talked a lot about my favorite titles, stuff that's influenced me and made me into the ubernerd I am today, but you guys get my ANIME ORIGIN STORY this week!
WARNING! This week's video contains strong language. If kids are reading Fanart Friday, cover their ears.
We've had a lot of rock lately, so let's go for something a little different... so yes, have some Spose.
First, a little bit about me personally: I was born on November 19 in east-side San Jose, CA. I've had the privilege of living in many different places, including Okinawa and Hawaii, thanks to my dad being in the military, with all roads eventually leading back to California--specifically the Crunchyroll office here in the heart of San Francisco! I'm gonna take you down the list of influential titles in my life, along with some awesome, heartfelt birthday wishes from readers! Now, let's get started!
DISCLAIMER: None of the art presented is the property of myself or Crunchyroll. All characters and series are tm and © their respective creators and corporate owners. All art is the creative property of their respective artists. Any artists who wish to have their work removed from this article may contact me, and appropriate action will be immediately taken.
From days of long ago... from uncharted regions of the US (does anybody even know where Oak Harbor, WA is?), comes a legend... the legend... of me watching anime. No, for real, I got my start in anime with Voltron, which is the heavily-edited US release of Beast King Golion. It was part of USA's Cartoon Express, and I was instantly a superfan.
Between Voltron and Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, could you really blame me when I found a VHS copy of the Fist of the North Star movie at the video store and wanted to rent it? It looked just like those Japanese-made cartoons I was enjoying, only this time it was a movie and about martial arts! Whoo, was I in for a surprise with the literal showers of blood and guts that Kenshiro and company delivered...
...and somehow, my parents didn't see any of it. They did, however, watch some of Akira with eleven-year-old me, and that was probably the fastest I'd ever seen my parents take a movie out of the VCR.
Shortly after that, we moved to Okinawa--between a shared love of X-Men and Killer Instinct and everything else mid-'90s kids were into, I was introduced to Dragon Ball Z, which was airing on Wednesday nights on one of the Japanese networks. I think it's safe to say that this was my first real anime obsession, and I still carry a torch for the series today.
So while Dragon Ball Z aired on Wednesday nights, the original Dragon Ball aired at 4pm every weekday on the same channel, and I'd get to see other (shorter) shows afterward, and one of them was Magic Knight Rayearth. It was such a huge departure in art style that I didn't like it much at first, but it quickly grew on me, despite not really understanding what was going on.
Of course, I didn't tell anybody I also watched Sailor Moon, because I was all man and that shit was for girls. Needless to say, I grew out of that and wholeheartedly support anyone and everyone watching Sailor Moon, and I'm really enjoying Sailor Moon Crystal on the rare, miraculous occasion when we actually get a new episode. I swear, each time is like a f**king event.
One of the more random anime that came on was Masami Kurumada's B't X, about a hot-blooded young man (of course) armed with the power of a Pegasus (of course--in this case, a robotic one) whose signature move was an epic punch (of course). It started my love for Saint Seiya, but I'll get into that later.
One of my more lasting anime love affairs is Rurouni Kenshin, which I still hold as my all-time favorite manga, with the anime not too far behind. Want to talk dedicated? I followed it weekly in Jump from 1996 to 1999 (remember, this is before the days of fans translating everything), own almost the entire series in Japanese, then bought the entire anime volume by volume when Media Blasters licensed it stateside, then finally bought the VizBig releases of the English-translated manga. I'm giving it a re-read right now, and I've torn through thirteen volumes in like four days. I like it that much.
I wasn't particularly excited for Neon Genesis Evangelion when I first saw it, but reading reviews in GameFan changed that. As an angsty 14-year-old, this story of angsty 14-year-olds with the weight of the world on their shoulders really spoke to me. Now? Not so much, but I'm still looking forward to the fourth Rebuild movie.
Kind of coming in the opposite direction from Evangelion, I found out about Saint Seiya from B't X and Dragon Ball fansites, and eventually got hooked on this absolutely insane series. It's one of my go-to "pure fun" titles that never gets old to me, no matter how dumb (read: awesome) it is.
So like many young men, I grew from an angsty 14-year old to a confused 15-year-old to an angry 16-year-old, and Shonan Junai Gumi--introduced to me by my friend Makoto--really made an impression on me. I actually identified more with Ryuji than Onizuka, because I did not idolize the thug life, but the thug life was all I had (not really). On that note, I would like to give a shoutout to Makoto, who passed away in 2006. My entire life up to that point had been saying goodbye to friends every couple years, so it was great to reconnect in Hawaii with a friend from Okinawa. We kind of lost touch after high school, and I found out from a friend that he'd passed. Every time I read Shonan Junai Gumi or GTO, I think of him and his love of delinquent manga. Pour one out for Makoto, ladies and gentlemen.
It was some time until I really, really got into another series as hard as the previous ones. Titles came and went, and I loved Excel Saga and a few others, and by this point Rurouni Kenshin was being released on DVD in the US and I was spending a lot of time at the Monterey Peninsula College Anime Club, which became a home away from home (and source of endless drama). Naruto was the series that got me back into Jump after a couple years of disinterest--everybody liked it, everybody wanted me to read it, and I kept saying "nah, I'm good." I'm glad I made myself start.
It was around this time that I met my friend Sarah, who recently did her first review with CRN in addition to constantly helping with Fanart Friday, and introduced me to the wonderful world of shoujo manga. Being kind of a comic art snob, I was actually pretty dismissive of shoujo at first, but grew to like it, starting with Hot Gimmick. Yeah, this is kind of a creepy picture, but it really shows off the (creepy) tone of the series. I need to re-read it sometime. Yeah, yeah, it's trashy, but it's my kind of trashy--shame it never got an anime.
One Piece was another series I had some pushback against, at first. "It looks too kiddy, too cartoony!" I said, clutching my volumes of Naruto and refusing to step outside the little box I'd created. It's nice to know that I was so, so wrong--One Piece is the rare series that sticks to its guns, knows what it is, and never changes. It has so much feeling, so much heart, and manages to keep telling a great story every single week without losing any momentum or losing what made it so attractive and exciting in the first place. Nothing right now can hold a candle to One Piece, because Eiichiro Oda has not only created something that will sell a billion copies and a ton of merchandise, but he's created something that inspires a real feeling of worth in its fans--you don't feel guilty for liking One Piece, because it speaks to everyone on some level.
Kinda weird how the same can be said for Hajime no Ippo, too. I was bullied pretty hard as a kid, so the story of Ippo's rise from a meek, shat-upon loner to a world-class fighter was really inspiring (even though this picture is of Kimura, and is kind of sad to see right now because this will probably never happen). It's also a rarity in that, like One Piece, it made me cry ugly, unashamed tears at some parts, and unlike One Piece, actually inspired me to work out and get in shape.
Up until recently, I've had a pretty steady set of favorites that haven't gone away--One Piece and Hajime no Ippo are still going strong, so Gurren-Lagann--what I refer to as the anti-Eva--got me back into anime after a pretty strict manga-only couple of years. The sheer energy and passion in the series was a breath of fresh air, especially with the moe craze starting--sorry, guys, you can enjoy your cute girls doing cute things and that's totally fine, but I'm gonna be over here eating red meat and watching people give monologues about courage.
Words can't express how happy I am that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is part of the Crunchyroll lineup, and to witness a sea of screaming fans at Anime Expo all excited for JoJo only made me happier to be a part of the fandom. See, I'd always liked JoJo, but never really got into it--it was just recently that I joined the ranks of the insane, posing faithful.
by Schrodingers-Kat READER SUBMISSION!
Although if I think about it, my most recent "lasting" obsession has been Gintama, a series that I was hesitant to start because it was long. I figured that if I could power through One Piece, I could certainly do the same for Gintama, and that was worth the ride. It's nice having the switch between "relaxing, goofy sitcom" and "brutal, honest action series."
by ultmte READER SUBMISSION!
Aww, thanks, ultmte! For those of you wondering, this is fanart of this photo of me from a just-wrapped-up contest, and no, I don't normally look that epic.
by akakiba READER SUBMISSION!
Of all the characters I could have shared a birthday with, I didn't expect Bleach's resident blood knight Kenpachi. All right, Crunchyrollers, I already know I'm sharing a birthday with one of you, but who else has plans for the 19th? (Mine consist of going to work and playing Far Cry 4.)
by MadPandaKira READER SUBMISSION!
Holy crap, I haven't been called "Ming-san" since my last Japanese class in college. Out of everything I've watched and loved, I think One Piece is the one that's going to stay, and the one I'm going to stick with for the long haul. It wants you to like it, but it's not gonna change for anybody. It's still One Piece, and that's what it should be.
by celebistar READER SUBMISSION!
So you could say that celebistar loves Nobunagun in the same way that I love One Piece (I have confirmation from her sister). What's your current (or lasting) anime obsession?
And that's everything for this week! I left out a couple important ones just for the sake of room, including Kishin Doji Zenki, Yu Yu Hakusho, Cowboy Bebop, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Berserk, but I can only keep you guys here for so long. Instead of the usual question, I'll ask you something: what are the three most formative, influential anime or manga you've experienced? Sound off and let us know!
I keep getting more and more submissions from readers, and that's a great thing! If you want to contribute to Fanart Friday, you're more than welcome to, regardless of your skill level or experience. Just PM me a link to your work (full URL, please), and I'll be sure to include it in a future installment! Here are the next three themes for Fanart Friday:
-Next week, on NOVEMBER 21st, we celebrate those famous Pocket Monsters with yet another POKEMON installment! Maybe since it's "Gotta Catch 'em All Edition, Generation III," I'll remember to include some actual gen-3 Pokemon! THIS IS THE ONLY THEME I'M TAKING REQUESTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on NOVEMBER 28th, it's time for a Black Friday tradition as we give the spotlight to our favorite VILLAINS!
-On DECEMBER 5th, bundle up as we go for a three-fer of annual themes: WINTER WONDERLAND EDITION returns, ready for the snow and ice!
Thanks again for coming by to check out Fanart Friday! Once again, thanks to all of you for all the birthday wishes--have a great weekend, and I hope you come see us again next week!