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My Life As An Anime Fan In The United Kingdom

Posted on the 29 April 2015 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

My Life As An Anime Fan In The United Kingdom

I was born and raised in the UK, and live east of London. Considering its current social and political climate, I’m not actually proud to be British; instead I’m proud to be European. But that’s another post (and certainly not for OASG).

I got into anime looking through the bargain bin at my local Blockbuster store; brought some back with me and enjoyed what I saw…Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Tenchi Muyo! (surprisingly) and Patlabor (ALSO surprisingly since I hate mecha shows). Even the DIC dub of Sailor Moon landed on early-morning Saturday kids TV (on some cable channel here).

At the time (this would have been 1995), I saw that the rest of the world had started to see anime as something really cool to watch, while us in the UK just laughed at it.

Here would be the part where I moan and wail about how I, as an naive adolescent, felt so alone. Well that much is true, but I still persevered. I stopped caring how my family only saw it all as kids cartoons. I know very well that the anime scene in North America is huge. This is, in fact, one of the reasons why I prefer going to the US for cons. Sure enough, I’ve only been to Dragon*Con in Atlanta (going this year, making it my 5th time), but possibly next year I aim to do a con devoted to it all; Otakon, Sakuracon, Anime Boston? I don’t know…I’d just have to research them. I only moan about that because even now, anime conventions in the UK aren’t, in my opinion, quite what they are compared to others around the world. Even neighboring ones over in the continent (like Japan Expo in Paris) are grander and more prolific. Our largest (Minamicon in Southampton) is more fan-based as opposed to content; I can be better entertained by guests and panels than simply meeting kids who, half of them, I don’t know. And this I can take not only as a guest but from a volunteer point-of-view (having being a volunteer worker for Minamicon, Amecon, London Anime Con and Tokonatsu).

But then that could just be it; mingling with fellow nerds is all we need in a UK convention. Sure they don’t always have the mass budget to host it in a large hotel or conference center (Tokonatsu is on a campsite, for example!) and they don’t necessarily get the opportunity to get the kind of guests you’d see in the larger conventions in North America, so chatting and sharing opinions and squabbling over which anime is better…maybe that’s all a UK convention needs.

I’m certainly glad that, since the 90s, the anime scene has, kind of, picked up more and become more noticeable; not only by interested kids and adults, but the media itself. Crunchyroll is covered here, Netflix has its own section (which is vast now), plus we have our own internet streaming sites just for anime. Anime News Network has its own UK version, and there’s a separate anime news source that’s been around for a while, UK Anime Network. Beforehand, though, the only way we could purchase it is through only 2 distributors: Manga UK and ADV Vision (which has since fizzled out and handed their licenses to other distributors)…

…but there was a little something else:

My Life As An Anime Fan In The United Kingdom

The Anime Encylopedia, written by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy, two British long-standing followers, writers and critics of the genre. It’s very…extensive and…informative; my own copy is worn and battered (I got it several years ago).

As for me? Well, I’m content that anime has become something the UK finally knows about now. But of course it’ll never make it to mainstream TV anymore. Why should it? Streaming sites offer fans a variety of shows they want, whether it be Attack on Titan or Kill La Kill or whatever. Our indie movie channels might offer the odd Studio Ghibli movie (nearly always dubbed in English). But would moving abroad make me feel better as an anime fan? Possibly. Since I’ve just become so disillusioned as a Brit, going to the US or Canada and seeing the anime scene there might just make me actually enjoy it more…for a few reasons:

1. The fanbase is larger and more accessible.
2. Conventions are, most likely, better.
3. All of my anime-loving friends live abroad anyway.

So saying that, you’d expect me to say that the fanbase in the UK is nothing compared to abroad, well…yes. But only in my opinion. The other cons here (small as they may be) cater for some of the fans sure enough, anime distributors like Manga UK (which still hangs around) and MVM Entertainment have a presence, and I’ve already mentioned the streaming sites. I guess I’m just too fussy…or maybe it’s just that, somehow, I think the UK still frowns on anime despite how much bigger it’s become now.

My Life As An Anime Fan In The United Kingdom

…and yes, this is the actual cafe the K-on! girls went to in the movie! The Troubadour in Central London.

Some anime streaming sites for the UK:

Animax, Daisuki, Wakanim.

UK anime conventions:

Alcon, Amecon, Auchinawa, Hyper Japan, Kitacon, London Anime Con, Minamicon, Tokonatsu.

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