Friday, August 29th, 2014

Otaku no Video!


Confession time: I was an anime fan in the early 90s. Back then it was tough to find anime, and watching the stuff was difficult, with 4th generation fansubbed VHS tapes regarded as a major find. Anime was a predominantly male (and Asian) hobby at the time, something that has massively shifted over the last two decades.

While I’ve fallen off the anime train in a big way as time has gone on, it’s done my life a lot of good in many ways. People I met decades ago in a dank club room in the Students Union Building at the University of Alberta are still some of my best friends. I’ve also been to Japan four times and lived there briefly, and that’s due to anime in at least some small way. I experienced culture through my circle of friends in Edmonton, one of the most whitebread cities in Canada. I also got to see Spirited Away, widely regarded as one of Miyazaki’s best, in a theater in Japan, and indeed knew about the master’s works years before he became popular in North America.

One of my favourite anime is Otaku No Video, the thinly veiled story of the rise and fall and rise of Gainax, a fan-run anime company. Being Japanese, anime tends to not bother with irony and satire, but Otaku No Video (gently) gives the genre and the fans both barrels.

Obviously it’s somewhat out of date by now, but nerd truths hold true regardless. If you have a couple of hours to spare, give it a watch.


Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

4 Responses to “ Otaku no Video! ”

Winson says:

Brings back old memories! I still got my stash of anime video tapes and LDs in Edmonton – sitting there unused and deteriorating into obsolescence. Always wonder how will I be getting rid of them.

Warren says:

There’s a new J-Drama out called Blue Blazes which chronicles the college days of the the guys from Gainax, with the main character being one of their rivals. The actor playing the protagonist is great at “Important Anime Declarations” and insane rubber-faced reactions to situations of his own devising. A friend also turned me onto Space Dandy, which is best described as the anime version of a boogie van from the 1970s, only moving.

frank lillquist says:

Hi Warren, why has it become so hard to respond to a bloody birthday greeting? Maybe I’m just getting senile because i used to be able to sit in my office and use Indesign to put out pages of DCN in Toronto. Now Facebook bewilders me and I’m not even sure if this will get through, but thank you. Incidentally, I never knew you enjoyed anime. My limited talents as a cartoonist prompt my interest in most things illustrated and some of what I’ve found is really good. The story line in the Melancholy of whatshername is fascinating and Grave of the Fireflies hit me harder than anything since Tommy Kirk shot Old Yeller. Funny timing because I’ve just imposed on an old school friend and brilliant commercial artist to create the little Hentai princess that is the heroine of one of my unpublished novels. Anyway, thanks again and be well.

Warren says:

Thanks Frank! Yeah, I was into anime in the early 90s and I have it to thank for university friends I have to this day. Haven’t watched a whole lot of it in the last few years, as things have shifted from giant robots to high school dramas. But the classics still hold sway. I’ve also looked into the world of (translated) manga, as I’m trying to get into making comics and the Japanese have an interesting minimalist approach.

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