At 35, I am not old enough to be your mother. But I’m old enough to be your oneesan. So, here I am.
I’ve always been a weirdo/nerd. As a kid I was the sort more prone to spend recess reading than playing with the others- books didn’t ask anything of me, whereas I struggled to find ways to interact with other kids that made them and me happy. I had a teacher who expressed concern to my mom and spent a few months in a sort of diagnostic kids group therapy thing, before the therapist told my mom I was fine and could make friends easily if I wanted to. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But I didn’t really discover fandom until I was about 12 years old. At 11, I had learned about the show Sailor Moon— which aired on weekdays at 2:30pm on the local UPN station —thanks to a toy commercial.
I began taping Sailor Moon on VHS daily, and even sometimes faked sick so I could stay home and watch it…until the day that I came home and my VHS recording from 2:30pm on UPN was something else entirely. I checked the TV guide and there were no Sailor Moon airings on it! The show had been canceled! Halfway through a season with no conclusion! I was devastated!
Growing up in the Bay Area in California to computer engineer parents meant that in 1996, I had access to the Internet, such as it was at the time. I booted up trusty ol’ Yahoo! search, determined to discover the reason for its cancellation. I, as many others, discovered the Save Our Sailors campaign, and…IRC, or Internet Relay Chat.
I connected to DalNet’s #SailorMoon channels, and ultimately many others, and there I met my people: anime nerds. I found my fandom, my people. I made tons of friends, some of whom I’m still chummy with some 23 years later.
Ultimately, I found a career in anime, writing about the shows I loved (or didn’t love) and industry news about their creation, the people who worked on them in Japan and North America, and eventually started working for a North American anime distributor.
Anime is, of course, adjacent to a lot of nerd fandoms: comics, sci-fi, D&D, board gaming, and of course, video games! I’ve always loved video games, even when I was a little imouto and only really wanted to watch my brother play them. (Even then I had performance anxiety about being “bad” at Super Mario Bros on our NES.)
I’ve flirted with a lot of these fandoms, and I definitely play a lot of games and have a certain integration with gamer culture…but anime has always been my home base, even when I’ve taken time off from actually watching the shows. It’s where I always go back to.
Otsukaresama, anime fandom. Thank you for being a friend!