Tag Archives: anime

Remembering Hollywood Video

Remember video rental stores? The days before Netflix and Hulu and any piece of entertainment at your fingertips. Video rentals were a visceral experience. I remember it like it was only twenty years ago….hollywoodvideoWhen I was in middle and high school, there was a Hollywood Video at the intersection of Dallas Highway and the new Barrett Parkway extension where we used to grab a movie or two on weekends. It was like this video wonderland (actually, I think Video Wonderland was down by the Kroger) with shelves upon shelves of not just new releases, but a lot of forgotten 1970s and 1980s B comedies—which might explain my sensibilities today.

“Ugh! Why would you get that? That looks weird!” my mother would protest. Fortunately, I managed to recover and repair our old VHR and a Sears CRT monitor from the trash years before, so I had the luxury of my own private setup in my closet of a bedroom. The fact that my rentals were cheaper than new releases may have further swayed the odds in my favor.

hollywoodvideo2I was a bit like Harry Potter in those years–forced to live in a cupboard after my baby sister was born–as my parents wanted her nursery to be closer to them. Our house was an ancient 2BR/1BA craftsman-style that formerly featured a sun-porch opposite the bedrooms. When it was moved to the country (Yes, it was moved from Marietta to its current location; there’s a story in that for another day), my grandparents converted the sun-porch into an extra bedroom for my cousins who lived there previously. The room is approximately 6×15, barely large enough for a twin bed and a desk. It didn’t help that my desk was a large, hand-built, office desk that was once the property of the Norfolk Southern Railway Company (we got it for cheap from a collector because it was in pretty rough shape), but I learned to respect vertical space (and craftsmanship) in that tiny room.

In the mid-1990s, Pokémon fever was ravaging the country. Anime in the US was just starting to evolve from a fringe interest to mainstream entertainment medium, thanks in no small part to Cartoon Network. I remember watching Robotech and Samurai Pizza Cats on Saturday mornings (Channel 69—when you could pick it up—was the epitome of old-school UHF as lampooned in Weird Al Yankovic’s eponymous 1989 film, showing a literal grab-bag of content that often rotated from week to week), but that appreciation became a near obsession when I discovered a copy of Macross in the animation section of Hollywood Video accompanying the same shelf as Mickey Mouse and—oddly—Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

“Oh, those damned ‘killer cartoons’ that your uncle Tracey watches! Why the hell would you want to watch those?” my father would gripe. My uncle and I are a lot alike, and we’ve both got an oddball streak a-klick-and-a-half long. Anyway, something happens to you when you watch Akira as a 12-year-old, then follow it with Kubrick’s 2001. Something, but I’m not sure what. While the other nerdy kids were trying to catch ‘em all, I was dreaming about giant, transformable mecha and the heroes who piloted them.Pictured: Killer Cartoons

In high school, I finally found more people who shared my affinity for “Japanimation” (“anime” was just now becoming the preferred nomenclature thanks to the Suncoast Motion Picture Company), and we began to coalesce into a regular group of mates. We wanted to watch more, and to enjoy with our friends, but we either didn’t have the money to buy new tapes from Suncoast and Media Play or the resources to borrow from other fans two counties over (Gwinnett County and its sizable Japanese and Korean communities was a hotbed for anime fandom). So, we did the next best thing: we raided the Hollywood Video.

It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon, the gang had all arrived at the house noonish—Gilmore, CJ, Little J, Reed, Danny, Wes, and Chris all came out for the inaugural Angst Haben Anime Party. It was an extremely informal affair, as was the case with any Angst Haben get-together: “Converge, then plan” was our M.O. I figured the best way to get started was to pile everyone into the “Shaggin’ Wagon” (a 1996 Ford Windstar that I had the privilege to drive) and hit the store. After a pit stop at the Publix for snacks and the obligatory case of Citrus Drop soda, we stormed into the Hollywood Video like a Walmart on Black Friday. Armed with caffeine, razor-sharp snark, and a bucket-o-change, we set about determining the agenda.

I’m not even sure what films we ended up renting, two or three titles—Dirty Pair, Area 88, and Macross Plus seem likely candidates—but what does stand out in my mind is a certain Playstation title with particularly appealing cover art:

“Hey, this looks kinda interesting. Maybe a fighting game between different teenage stereotypes? The girl’s kinda cute, too.”


“HOLY SHIT! THERE’S A GUY WITH A BASEBALL BAT AND SOMEONE WITH A HUGE SWORD! SOLD!”

Imagine for a moment that you’re the store clerk: three VHS tapes, a Playstation game, and a plastic pail full of change have just dropped onto the counter and now you’re starting at what might be the cast of a new Nickelodeon series about the “outsider” kids—the punk rocker, the trenchcoat, the raver, the Polo shirt, the jock, the darkly poetic kid, the awkward goof, we were all there—waiting for you to accept their hard-earned US, Grade-A, legal tender in exchange for the opportunity to rent a selection of what might have been considered questionable material (“tits and explosions” were how most people described anime at the time). What do you do?

You reach into the bucket, pull out the two dollar bills floating on top, set the stack of media on the pickup counter by the door, laugh hysterically and mutter “Just…Just go.”

Spoils of war in hand, windows down, stereo up, and bouncing to a classic Sublime track, we set off for The Yella House.

And that, children, is how you get free video rentals.

Wanted ’99: Anime Through The Year 2000

Click me!

Remember once upon a time, back before Netflix and Crunchyroll, before Facebook and Wikipedia, back when there were few ways to find out about anime beyond obscure internet fora or trawling your local video store?

When I was a kid, it was a difficult–and expensive–proposition to find new anime. In west Cobb county, we didn’t have access to a hearty VHS sharing community, and the nearest Japanese shops were 30+ miles away in Gwinnett County. We did, however, have Hollywood Video on Dallas Highway and Suncoast Motion Picture Company at Town Center Mall!

Hollywood Video did manage to have a decent selection of anime for a video store in suburban Georgia in the 1990s–Macross, Fist of the North Star, and Ranma 1/2 to name but a few. Mostly older titles at the time, but it was a great introduction to the classics. Suncoast, being a retail store, stocked the latest titles being released by Bandai and Pioneer–they just happened to cost around $25 per VHS tape (a veritable fortune, considering only 2 episodes per tape). A series might cost someone upwards of $150, and you have no way to preview it!

To help sell these outrageously priced VHS tapes, Suncoast occasionally published a catalogue of upcoming titles to generate buzz. I grabbed one of these one afternoon while I was at the mall and, for some reason, held onto it these last 17 years or so. Obviously, I’ve seen a few of these titles in the intervening years, but I thought it fun to use it as a springboard to get back into anime as I haven’t really paid much attention to it since giant robots faded into obscurity. Keep an eye on this space; I’ll review each of these titles as I watch them and maybe get a little insight and reminisce about a bygone era in animation.

How Akira sent shockwaves through pop culture and changed it

Akira was my first real dive into cinematic anime. I had long been a fan of Robotech and it’s Saturday morning ilk, but I remember something transformative about the first time I watched Akira–like being introduced to Baja-style tacos or even having sex for the first time! It was a defining moment in my life, one that I had been yearning to experience and one that opened up a new way of looking at the world.

One of Studio Ghibli’s best animators, Makiko Futaki, likely won’t be remembered for her very best work – one that’s influenced everyone from MJ to Kanye West

Source: How Akira sent shockwaves through pop culture and changed it | Dazed

If UNO Was an Anime

It’s already better than Yu-Gi-Oh!

How to Avoid Becoming a Weeaboo: 8 Steps (with Pictures)

A public service announcement from your friends at Wingin’ It and WikiHow!

Source: How to Avoid Becoming a Weeaboo: 8 Steps (with Pictures)

Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell casting is even worse than it seems

Look, I was never one those weeaboo kids nor am I a hardcore Otaku (anymore); I’m just a fan of GitS from way back. I’m also a fan of ScarJo. I can’t guarantee you that this will fail as a project, but it will likely be terrible and alienate fans of the original (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, anyone?). Don’t Americanize it. Don’t whitewash it. Save all that nonsense for the Robotech movie (an inherently Americanized property, entirely separate from its equally-brilliant source materials). There are many Japanese actresses out there with the chops to pull this off; let’s have Scarlett make her live-action anime debut as Lisa Hayes instead!

Source: Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell casting is even worse than it seems | The Verge

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ As An Anime Opening Works Way Too Well

I wonder if the anime would feature more of Poe Dameron. He’s a badass that needs WAY more screen time!

There are no words. This is incredible.

Source: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ As An Anime Opening Works Way Too Well – Digg