Clip of the ending segments of the OG Arsenio Hall Show showing the “funky dancing paiges”, Continental Airlines credit, and signoff: “I’ll see you in 23 hours….”
Man, I miss that show!
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.
My first computer and game console was the Commodore 64. I still remember those halcyon days with the hulking keyboard/computer assembly connected to the back of the beautiful wooden console television we got as a hand-me-down when my grandparents upgraded theirs to a new Curtis Mathes from the company store in Austell. I can close my eyes and instantly be transported back to the late-1980s, sitting crosslegged in the living room floor, turning the television dial to channel 3 with a satisfying “kaCHUNK” giving way to the unbearable roar of analog snow. With a flip of the switch from “TV” to “GAME” on the small black box dangling from the antenna connection, the snow gave way to the low hum that an old CRT emits when forced to display a static image–the one that changes pitch slightly depending on the color displayed. I had Frogger on cassette tape and it took what seemed–to a child, anyway–to be hours to load, but it was all worth it when I finally managed to beat the preset high score!
The Commodore 64 taught me more about electronics than any single device and begat a lifelong affinity for computers, games, programming, production, and tinkering that persists to this day. Without the Commodore 64, I may never have desired a world beyond Cobb County, Georgia. The gentleman in the video–microcomputing heavyweight Jim Butterfield who, let’s face it, is nearly comical in his blasé approach to the presentation (“It’s a pretty good computer”)–walks us through the entire setup and use of the C64 in a 2-hour-long celebration of the classic machine.
Yes, sir, Mr. Butterfield. Yes, sir.