Sunday, October 12, 2008

Days of Yore

It has been a good thirteen (if not more) years now since I first officially became an an anime fan, and about twelve since I acquired the internet and discovered fandom. Even before then my favorite kind of video games were RPGs and I had read a good three quarters of the fantasy/sci-fi section at the local library. Though I didn't know it back then, I was writing fanfic back in primary school. I just kind of think it's funny that even though the precise focus of my interest has changed (evolved) over time, the basic core of my interests has always remained the same.

What I'm getting to is that in the past few weeks I've encountered a few remnants of 'the good old days' of fandom and the internet that have got me feeling nostalgic.

The first thing I ever looked up on the internet (willingly) was information about the anime 'Slayers'. That was the series that got me hooked on anime, a good year before I ever even knew about the internet as anything more than a pricey computer thing that I didn't know anything about. I rented nearly every anime in the video store back then- though that isn't really saying much since this was back before anime was 'cool'- back during the first run of Sailor Moon (I think, if not before then) when even the networks refused to even use the word 'anime'. I can't help but wonder now though, if my obsession would have lasted all that long if I hadn't moved to a town that actually taught students how to use the internet in school as part of the curriculum and allowed them to use the computer labs and the library for non-school based activities. Possibly my interest could have been renewed when anime became more mainstream, but it's hard to say.

Anyway, even with a specific series to obsess over and nearly unlimited internet access at school I didn't actually really encounter fanfic until a few months later when we had gotten dial-up (which was all that was available for home-internet then- at least where I lived) and was looking up info on Final Fantasy VII- namely, I believe, a rumor of a possible way to make it so Aeris didn't die (heh, those were all over the place back then). I'd seen links for 'fan fiction' before then, but had for some reason been under the impression that this mysterious category had something to do with gossip or some such trivial thing and had thus avoided it before then. It hadn't even occurred to me before I clicked on that link that people were writing *stories* about my favorite characters and worlds. And so a new era began for me.

Back in those days there weren't any automated archives or blog communities- in fact, though my memory isn't too precise, those didn't start popping up until a year or so later, and when they did they weren't anything to write home about. No, in those days if you wanted fanfic (at least anime fanfic- I never looked for book or TV or movie based fanfic until years and years later) you had to look for personal web-pages, hosted archives and collections made by people who often (though not always) screened the submissions, and places like the old FTP 'public archive of anime fanworks' site. It was a hit and miss process, and there wasn't really all that much available for a while, unless you were into Sailor Moon or Dragon Ball- which I wasn't really- or Ranma 1/2, which I was.

I can honestly say that the Ranma fandom is one that I've always been able to fall back on. A lot of the old story archives are still out there (at least they were last I checked) and although fans aren't as prolific for it as they used to be, the fandom hasn't *died* like a lot of the older anime fandoms have.

Anyway, I think I'm loosing focus on my original point, so I'll finish up with a list of things I recall with fondness from the 'good old days' both *way* back in the day and more recently (as in lost or forgotten within the past 5 years):

Random List of Fandom Nostalgia:

- I remember the old Anipike site, before it became a crappy wanna-be search engine and was just a pretty definitive list of nearly every anime-based site online sorted by series, type, and a few other things. I occasionally use the Wayback Machine to find old favorites or places I know once existed through the Old Anipike. I never liked the new one, and haven't been there in years, if it's even still there.

- The Slayers Trilogy by Twoflower. It's been a while since I re-read it, but I still believe that it is the single best Slayers fanfic epic ever. The website still exists too, though last I checked the author was writing original fic and hilarious Neverwinter Nights modules.

- Ranma fanfic in general. I read nearly all the great old Ranma epics, didn't particularly care about the 'Fiance Wars', and was sad to have lost my old favorite archive for it.

- The day I accidentally downloaded my first mp3, thinking it was a midi and was just downloading very slowly- it didn't hurt that the site I got it from was entirely in Japanese except for the song titles. I believe the song was either 'Get Along' or 'Give a Reason' from Slayers. Before then it had never even occured to me that mp3s could exist. Back then my computer was so tiny I could only fit three songs on it before deleting things.

- Finding the occasional full anime episode, then more, and realizing how much *better* they were in Japanese with subtitles.

- How before auto-archives and the centralization of fandoms into LJ and auto archives everything was connected by Web-Rings.

- How nearly everything used to be free for real, even if it wasn't as shiny as it is now, and how the internet used to feel (to me at least) a lot more close and friendlier when there wasn't everyone and their cat online.

- How people in fandom used to be more respectful towards the source material and how people wouldn't *dare* to do anything so crass as show their porny fanfic/art to the actors/creators. It makes me feel old when I see how the newbies act sometimes. I mean, if random people decided I was sleeping with a co-worker because we argued, or were friends, or even just looked 'pretty' together and started writing graphic porn about it, well I certainly wouldn't want it shoved in my face. That is one of the things that I regret about fandom entering mainstream- technically a lot of what we are doing is if not outright illegal, certainly objectionable to some people- and unless a creator or actor says outright that they don't care or that they approve, it isn't wise to do anything that would *make* them object. People used to know that, but I'm not sure as many do anymore.

- I remember the old list of RPG cliches and the Evil Overlord list. They both still exist, though the formor was really out of date last I saw it and the later has become infamous enough that it will likely never be forgotten.

- I miss the Gaming Intelligence Agency, which was the best site for online RPG news in it's day. RPGamer isn't so bad now, but the GIA will always hold a special place in my memories.

- There was a huge epic crossover fic called the 'Dance of Shiva' that I really need to track down again someday.

- The Gundam Wing fandom before it started to fail. I got into it by accident, about a year or so after it started to become so popular (I'd downloaded the first episode way before then and nearly died of boredom, and so avoided it and it's fandom when it started airing on TV) because I wanted to add in some cameos that my friends, who were huge fans, would recognize in the crossover I was writing. My research involved reading a few fic to see how the characters were generally portrayed, and it didn't take long for me to get sucked in- especially since much of the fandom way more character driven then boring political/action/war-is-bad stuff. This was also where I first seriously started to encounter the yaoi/shounen ai genre- again, by accident. Before then I had mostly avoided anything 'adult' rated out of habit and since most yaoi labled fics I'd seen before then (without a lable of what it *was* since I wasn't looking for it) were also accompanied with the 'lemon' lable, I just never really read any until then. As it happens, around that time I was a huge Mercedes Lackey fan, and anyone who's read her books (at least her earlier ones, at any rate: she's gotten a lot less 'controversial' in the few books of hers I've read in the past few years) knows that she is (was) one of the few fantasy authors who made sure to have at least one canon gay/lesbian/bi couple in each book. Suffice it to say I wasn't disturbed in the slightest by the yaoi genre, and since I finally knew what it was I stopped avoiding it- and occasionally followed it. (I won't get into why I like it, as my answers will likely match that of any other yaoi-fangirl.)

Hmm. It's difficult to recall exactly which anime fandoms I pursued in the early years, and I can't quite recall exactly how I left the anime fandom- or rather, branched out from it, since I still linger there, though not as much as I used to. I think it might have been a combination of changes in my real life and new leanings towards original fiction written by non-anime fans which started to open my eyes to how unrealistic and immature a lot of the anime fandom was becoming (this was about the time when auto archives had begun to really take off, anime was becoming popular among more and more people, most of whom were younger then me and prone to all sorts of newbie-ish behavior that I just didn't find as amusing or cute as I would have back when I was a newbie myself). Actually, come to think of it, everything started to change near the end of my CLAMP obsession (aka, overload on the angst of X/TB) which also coincides with me reading more and more original fic, branching out more to TV fandoms (like Xena/Hercules, Highlander, Buffy, and some X-Files I think), and my decision to stop writing fanfic since reading too many bad anime fanfics were accepting my writing (and also that I sucked at writing fanfic. I tended to want to write SIs and put in way too many original characters in combination with making AUs in several attempts at 'fixing the angst'- to the point of Mary-Suism in one story, much to my disgust. Although, if I'd written more of that fic it might have evened out, since that character had a lot more depth planned but not shown in what little I'd posted- maybe someday I'll re-write it). Anyway, I think the real thing that got me completely out of my anime rut was my brief but absolutely obsessive fling with the Marvel-comics verse- specifically X-Men and directly associated comics (I was never a Spiderman or Fantastic Four or Iron Man fan). The general style was so different then what I usually found in anime fandom that, after getting over how uncomfortable the 'directness', for lack of a better term, in comparison to that found in anime-fic (especially in slash- which, though technically the same thing, is *way* different than yaoi) I was able to move into TV/mainstream based fandoms a lot easier. And so, there I was.

Eventually I did go back to anime/game fandom, but no longer to the exclusion of everything else. Except Real Person based fandom, which frankly squicks me so *very* much- it's one thing to write fiction about characters who are fictional (or long-dead and unable to complain), and another altogether to write fiction about *real* people who might someday read what you've written about them- I'm not too fond of gossip-magazines for the same purpose.

So what is my current fandom? Well, I've mostly left Kingdom Hearts, I have a few on my list of 'to-read' fics for FFVII (like the Ranma fandom, it lives on!), I'm hoping the new anime will encourage people to write more Tales of the Abyss fic- but have otherwise moved on from the Tales series and Zelda (except to read updates of old fics and look for potentially good new ones every once in a while) and am in limbo. I've mostly been dipping into the waters of various new small fandoms in lately- or into old ones. I've found a Tekken fic that looks promising, and there's a few good Jak and Daxter fics- the Vampire Knight and YuGiOh GX fandoms looked promising, but only had one or two fic worth reading. There've also been a few good Buffy crossovers, and one or two Naruto AU and Timetravel fics. Occasionally I find a Harry Potter fic that doesn't want to make me strangle someone (very AU, because canon irks me). I poked briefly into the Silent Hill fandom- was horrified and squicked, and left. Nothing but pointless drivel in the Devil May Cry or Resident Evil fandoms (as usual, though sometimes there's something good there). Mostly, I'm currently fandomless- though I'm thinking of trying out D-Greyman and subscribing to another original fic site.


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