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Spelunking through the VHS Fansub Era

My parents have been harping on me for years now to go through some of the stuff I’ve left behind at their house.  When I originally moved to the North State, I never imagined I would be here for five years, so it didn’t seem necessary to move a lot of my stuff with me.  I left lots of books, toys, posters, comics, and the like in my old room.

Well, regardless of how long I’m going to be here, the parentals are putting in new carpet soon, which finally required me to actually go through some of that stuff.

And as part of that, I unearthed two shoeboxes full of VHS fansub tapes!

So beautiful.
So beautiful.

For those who were not part of the anime fandom during the halcyon days of the mid-to-late 90s (or are too young to remember days before legal streaming anime was available), fansub tapes were put together by fansub groups who would record anime off of TV in Japan, then translate and subtitle the shows for viewing here.  These were all unofficial, of course, and when series would be picked up for U.S. distribution the tapes would stop being provided.

I watched TONS of anime on fansubs because when you could get a tape for $5-7 for four episodes and a commercial release VHS was $30 for TWO episodes, well, I could do the math.  The owners of our local comic shop at the time actually produced several of the fansubs in those boxes from translation to production, and they were our main “supplier.”  They rented commercially released anime tapes from a back room, and you had to know to ask at the counter for the list of available fansub tapes.  (It all sounds incredibly seedy now!)

I’m grateful for those fansub tapes.  Without them I would never have discovered the incredible, crazy, amazing world of Japanese animation.  Anime tells stories that you can find in no other medium, and I think it has profoundly influenced my writing and what I find “cool” to this day.

I’ve actually replaced almost everything in these boxes with DVDs or Blu-rays.  Heh, my only question now is what on earth to do with these tapes?  My inner hoarder has placed far too much emotional significance on these bricks of film and plastic for me to be ready to part with them yet.  Maybe I’ll dust off the VCR, buy some Crush Grape Soda, and have a nostalgic anime viewing party.

(For those who really want to know, the series in those two boxes are: Edens Bowy, Omishi Magical Theatre, Weiss Kreuz, Utena, Hana Yori Dango, To Heart, Card Captor Sakura, Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses, Suddenly Princess, and the Ys II OAV)