It seems like only yesterday that we combined our efforts as Team Animefringe to create our first monthly issue. But, you know that feeling by now don't you?
But, what you now see as the Animefringe of today took over a year of preplanning, demo pages, and revisions to get us to the point where we launched monthly. And it's this bit of back-story that few people, let alone most of the current team, actually knows.
I guess the main story should start in 1997 when Adam and Steve met by chance one day in CompuServe's Anime/Manga Forum and started talking about which Eva characters they like the most and various other near-hentai musings which stream from heated debates like that. What characters do they like the best? Well, Steve likes Misato and Adam obsesses about Ritsuko, seems he has a thing for older women. That's the frame work at least.
Time passes and we are in mid-1998. By this time Adam has become a member of Diana Kou's mailing list Michiru Kaioh's Mirror Mailings and decides to start his own e-zine called Digested Digest with a focus on rehashing various mailing list bits dealing with comic books, anime, video games, and sci-fi and starts distributing it to various friends online. When issue eighteenth weekly issue of Digested Digest was released the e-zine had evolved a good deal and even sported a new column by Steve Diabo called ‘A Few Crass Words from Kaneda.' The next issue saw a name change to Weekly Stuff E-Zine and soon changed it's focus before finally ending it's run with issue #29. But, the indefinite hiatus of the e-zine wasn't the end for the otaku dream for Steve and Adam had hinted at wanting to co-create an anime site like no other out there.
It wasn't until January 10, 1999 that Steve finally had a word for the idea: ‘Animefringe.' At the time the full title would be ‘Animefringe: The Otaku's Gateway to Online Anime Culture' which fully showed that it was a fan site with the fan in mind and would be "written, designed, and maintained for otaku, by otaku, featuring content by (you guessed it) otaku!"
Steve and Adam quickly rounded up a team of online friends interested in the prospect of creating a site like Animefringe. The initial team consisted of Adam Arnold, Steve Diabo, Diana Kou, Noriko Hirano (who had a short-lived e-zine called Anime Kaseroru), and Mike Baker (who was trying to write for sites of a similar nature). The first pages of Animefringe appeared mid-January in a series of demo pages to help us secure server space from the now defunct Anime-Manga.net. At the time Animefringe had more in common with a content archive with unique content appearing in a wrap-around tabled graphical layout. But, as the year went by we refined our layout, content, team, and goals before finally being forced to decide where to go next when Anime-Manga.net went down in flames. And then Animefringe broke out...
Vol.1, Issue 1 - January 2000
Adam: "Probably the hardest thing for any magazine to do is get off the ground, just look at the gap from the time we started the first version of the site to the time the first monthly issue finally came out. That is one major gap, and it would have continued if the idea to do a monthly webzine wasn't pitched around mid-December 1999.
We knew our deadline was to get the first issue posted the 1st of Y2K, so we hurried and came up with some reviews and Steve figured out a new layout for how to present them. We found a web site to showcase and then tried to revise the sections that were going and staying with the monthly format for now. Then, we got Maggie Bradshaw to create our mascot, the lovely Misaki, who would grace our launch cover. I recall making a comment that Misaki looks sort of like a ko-gal in that shot because of her socks "g".
Anyway, the problem came when it was time to do a feature no one had thought of before. I was looking through a bunch of The Right Stuf flyers I had gotten in one of my packages and saw this cool flyer with all these shows Manga Video was planning to bring out in the year 2000 and it dubbed them, Manga 2000. Well, it was December 29 when the idea hit and it wasn't until December 31 when all the research was completed. Then I compiled all the research into the article and we barely met our revised launch deadline... to launch on January 1. We did that with only a few minutes to spare before the clock changed to the next day. The only thing I regret about this issue is the fact we had no time left to get the images into the feature. Still, that issue put us on the map as we were spotlighted by the Anime Turnpike in their ‘Weekly Web Picks: 1/17/00' with a caption of ‘Check out the premier issue of the new anime mag on the block...'"
Steve: "This issue, in a way, took a year to prepare. January's issue wasn't just a new issue -- it was a new magazine. Everything had to be fresh, interesting, and innovative. In early-mid 1999, the only online anime mag that was really mainstream was EX. Several online magazines tried to take flight but failed, due to poor traffic and lack of interest. ANIMEfringe had to be different than EX, and it had to be different from all the other little dime-a-dozen upstart webzines. I took the position of head webmaster and web/graphic designer, while Adam became our main writer and assistant webmaster. On my part, I wanted to deliver a magazine with a unique design all our own. I tried several layouts and concepts until I came up with a layout that was so good, we still use it to this day virtually unaltered. We also contacted a few well-known otaku web writers and assembled a team, but that's another story.
In mid-December, after just slightly less than a year of brainstorming, preparation and general laziness, we finally buckled down. I decided that a January 1, 2000 launch date would be "kinda cool," what with the whole Y2K fiasco and all that crap, so Adam and I took the initiative to bring our little "ANIMEfringe" project to the forefront. January's issue launched with 1 feature story, 4 reviews and a web showcase. Doesn't seem like much these days, but that's all we could muster at the time with our limited resources and next-to-nothing experience. Still, ANIMEfringe packed a lot of innovation in its first issue, with its cool-looking fake magazine cover with artwork by Maggie Bradshaw and beautifully simple navigation. At the time, I think that's the one thing that made us just slightly better than half-decent."
Dai: "The consecutive first -- What more can I say? I even remember talking to both Steve and Adam about this debut issue, and couldn't wait to see it launch. AF has definitely moved it's way up since the wee old days of the 2000 year, and lookin' better all the time. The most memorable of features/reviews from this issue, for me, was definitely the Pokemon Movie, seeing as what a huge impact the movie brought with the concept of the then world-reigning monsters. Heck, I even remember waiting an hour for the movie the day it hit theaters with little cousins - - but... HEY! That's another story... Moving on! ;.;"
Ever: "With only five official members on staff when our very first issue was published, I would have to say the final result and feed back we got in the guest book were much better than we expected. Adam's informative article on "Manga 2000" really set a standard for the rest of the group as far as what is to be expected in our work in the months to come since most of us have little to no experience when it comes to making an anime fanzine, but dispite that, the launch issue was a great success."
Mia: "YAY! Launch issue! And what better way to kick off Animefringe than with a Pokemon review. I also loved the line in the web showcase "Folks, this site warrants a sugoi, a kakkoi, and a spirited WAI!". I couldn't put it better myself. Ian Kim is the man! I've never seen the dubbed version of Princess Mononoke, but after reading Steve's review I know what I am renting this weekend. I was afraid it was going to be ripped to shreds, but I guess it isn't so bad. Steve! I didn't know you were looking for the soundtrack! I can hook you up! And I had no idea there was an EVA game, I really, really need a converter. Overall though, a great issue to get things started. Good job guys!"
Jake: "I must admit that I didn't know about animefringe until the June issue, so I didn't look at the premier issue until recently. Based on the content of this issue alone, I wouldn't have the confidence in animefringe.com that I do now. There are only four articles, two of them huge releases that are covered everywhere, and the one feature is basically a product highlight for Manga Entertainment. The promising mission statement is a sign of things to come, and as always, Adam and Steve did a phenomenal job with design. I particularly like the faux-magazine look that they introduce."
Vol.1, Issue 2 - February 2000
Adam: "This issue is still one of my personal favorites because it shows just how good an issue of Animefringe can be when the whole team works together. Ever wonder how we come up with our ideas for cover features? Well, it pays to buy those phone book sized manga magazines like Monthly Shonen Ace because they are a treasure trove of good manga that you may or may not ever see translated into English by a big-name company.
Speaking of the Angelic Layer feature, it was the first time a portion of Team Animefringe worked on a story together. If you were at all curious at what it means when the feature by-line has 3 or more names on it, it means that the first person wrote the article, and the others helped out. In the case of Angelic Layer, I went on the net and found some Japanese sites, Wataru translated the stuff, I wrote the article (side-note: I used to write short-stories so it wasn't a stretch for me to make myself a part of CLAMP's world and interview Misaki, this has become an Animefringe staple as you can tell from other features) and scanned all the pictures for the story, and Steve revised the article and did the layout. To top of the issue Steve wrote an excellent sub-feature about Aibo, the robotic dog that cost way to much money."
Steve: "February's issue felt a lot more aesthetic than January's did, and the addition of a second feature story really helped make it feel more like a magazine than a website. Our first-look story on CLAMP's then-new manga, Angelic Layer, was fun to write, fun to read, and looked great on the website. I'm sure it was squeaky-clean enough to score us some brownie points in the online anime scene. I was learning that quality was a huge determining factor in the industry, and so I did my job as best I could and really hoped people could visit ANIMEfringe and really admire the work we all did.
February's cover still looks great by today's standards. It took me forever to remove the background from the Angelic Layer pic, and there was feathers everywhere that needed airbrushing out, but it all came together in the end and looked truly impressive. The cover had a certain attitude and edge that I think sums up ANIMEfringe's "look" quite nicely.
In February, we also moved our website from a free web hosting service to a pay server. This, I'm sure, was also a big boost to our professional image and gave us the reliability and speed we needed to get where we are today."
Dai: "Ahaa! Just the cover of this issue brings back memories. Steve, you remember that, right? The special blob of yellow sauce......?! ::cough:: Anyways - - This was a great one indeed, and I believe my first official debut as an AF contributor surfaced from this exact issue; in particular, the Megumi Hayashibara's 'Berutemu' album review. Man, that brought back memories.. Heck, I was even noted as "Michiru Kaioh" still.. It seems so long ago, but seems like I just wrote the review yesterday. It being my first official contribution, I had to listen to that album nearly TEN times in row, just to capture the true essense of what I wanted to say in the review - - Either way, I suppose it helped me enrich whatever 'skill' I was developing then...at least I hope so! ^.^()"
Ever: "In Feburary was the first time we published information stright from Japan as our feature story. It was also the first time we have serveral staff members to work on the same story as a group and with a sub-feature that touched on one of the hottest topics in Japan and in the North America region as well, the Aibo electronic pup. I can still recall the time when we actually spent hours on ICQ working on the front cover for that issue which turned out pretty well I must say, thanks to Steve's graphics processing skills. But then again we wouldn't have noticed that series if it wasn't for Adam. Needless to say, the imaginary interview was quite interesting as well. (Come to think of it, maybe it was back then when we started making things up in our minds that eventually led to the creation of the "ADAMVISION" series. :D"
Mia: "I can't get over the article title "How much is that Robo-Doggy in the window?". Cute indeed. That Aibo dog is awesome. I have a robo-doggy, but it isn't as cool. I think I am going to put him to sleep and save up for an Aibo. I think it would be kind of scary though, to own a pet smarter than myself. With my luck I would get stuck with the limited "Hal 5000" edition, and then I'd be in big trouble. Moving on...The Angelic Layer feature was wonderful! There was an interview with a pro, followed by a guide for beginners, and then a character dossier. Very informative. Awesome issue!!"
Jake: "Ah! So much improvement in just one issue. The sophmore effort features reviews and features of much less mainstream titles. The Angelic Layer feature is very creative and fun, and the singing seiyuu and AIBO articles confirm animefringe's commitment to go beyond just anime/manga. The cover is even closer in appearance to a print magazine-great design job!"
Vol.1, Issue 3 - March 2000
Adam: "Worst issue ever in my opinion. But, I say that just because of all the things that went wrong. Ever wanted to write an entire issue of a magazine by yourself? Let me tell you it ain't fun. And from Steve's point of view, it was even less fun. This issue came out way under the article count we were planning and it was sub-par because the team just wasn't there.
To make matters worse, we got a message (in Japanese) in our guest book from Radix (the company that does a lot of CG animation) about the image we used for our Nanako cover. Wondering what the message could mean, Steve put up a pink box over the Nanako image in the cover and sent a reply to Radix asking them what they were talking about because we couldn't get the message translated effectively. Well, it turns out Radix was flattered that we cover-featured Nanako, but wanted us to use a different image for our cover. So, they sent us a warning about the implied copyrights that are on Japanese web-sites and sent us an exclusive Nanako CG image to use for our cover."
Steve: "Oh, dear... I can remember March pretty vividly. I remember hoping that there would never again be a month like March 2000. Unforeseen circumstances left us literally high and dry, and we were forced to run a pitifully small Nanako feature and only 3 reviews. The whole damn issue was written by Adam!
But wait, it gets better... A few days after launch we received an entry in our guestbook from Radix (the company responsible for the CG rendering in Nanako) written entirely in Japanese... except for the word "CG." Fearing it was a request to remove the Nanako CG image from our cover, I immediately edited the image, covering the CG with nothing but a pink rectangle. So for about a week and a half, ANIMEfringe was 5 articles with a pink rectangle for a cover. Definitely not our finest hour. Fortunately, Radix contacted us via e-mail, in English, and provided us with an exclusive CG master image to use for our cover! It didn't make *everything* better but it certainly helped matters, and for that I thank them."
Dai: "This issue/month was a bit of a blur for me. I don't think I participated at all in this issue, being I was still producing my own AOL Mailing List at the time... Gomen'ne, Steve and Adam! Memorable part of this issue : Adam's review on the Cosplay Encyclopedia. I can clearly remember how my interest in those particular videos swayed when I read Adam's review and talked to him about it. I s'pose that the influence of these reviews are really geniune, and by all means hope that readers do indeed take our opinions into consideration - - we even do from each other! :)"
Ever: "March was the issue that marked the beginning of our try on up-to-date news in the anime industry. It sure wasn't easy to get last minute insider news that's relevent to the general public without corperate support at first, but the information super highway sure made it easier than it has to be.. afterall, isn't that why you're reading this? To get informations on anime without having to go all over the place?"
Mia: "March 2000, also known as "The Adam Issue". I can't say anything bad about this. I just feel bad that Adam had to do it all by himself. And I freak out from having to do just one review...he did everything. That takes guts. Kudos to Adam for the effort!"
Jake: "The all-Adam issue! I guess everyone else was on vacation, because all articles are by Adam this time. I enjoyed the Nanako feature, butoverall, this issue is a bit thin."
Vol.1, Issue 4 - April 2000
Adam: "This issue truly put raised the bar for us. We cut loose of our anime and manga boundaries and truly became a magazine about all things Japanese. And, to show this, Steve came up with the ingenious magazine page layout. Yep, this is the first issue that utilized the ability to literally, turn the pages of Animefringe back and forth. And it just so happens that this issue was commented on by Ryan Mathews in his May 2000 Anipike column ‘Last Exit Before Toll.' The collumn was all about webzines and we were listed 3rd amongst the ‘Big Six' as he wrote: "ANIMEfringe is another great-looking magazine. This one takes pains to look like a magazine, allowing flip-through navigation and even placing a UPC code on the "cover". This month's feature is on import gaming, and features an interview with a retailer of the equipment needed to hack game consoles in order to play imported games. Check out the "fan service" section for word searches! Yes, it's an anime version of the game we all played as children. Thankfully, they have printable versions so you don't have to write on your screen."
Oh, and this was the first issue that someone other than me wrote the feature. And the result was truly awesome. I just want to say that Steve has not only taught me a thing or two about web site design, but he has also helped me to develop my own writing style."
Steve: "April, and we're back on the ball. I wrote my first feature story this month -- a story about import gaming and the different options available for domestic gamers to enjoy it. I tried to be short, sweet and informative, even including an interview with the president of a company that distributes a lot of mod chip and Hong Kong video game accessories. The article was fun to write and from it I learned how much fun it can be to load up your poor PSX with a bunch of cheap plastic hacks.
In terms of layout, I added another "breakthrough innovation" to ANIMEfringe... The "page bar," a set of little blue bars that flank the top and bottom of the page, with arrows on each end that let you flip through the pages, in numbered order, as if it were a real printed magazine in your hands. The idea REALLY took off and people loved it.
April's cover was also fun to make. Adam started up his NES, SNES and Sega Genesis emulators and produced a number of screenshots from import titles like Sailor Moon R and Gundam Wing: Endless Duel. I superimposed these screenshots over a blurred circuit board image."
Dai: "This was definitely a great issue. I particularly liked the feature of Import Gaming. The elaboration was awesome, and the input interview handled quite nicely. My particular contribution to this ish' was the SeraMyu Album 8 - - May I note this was one of my favorites, considering how much detail I put into it, and what "hype" was brought with the new arrival of Miss Miyuki Kanbe."
Mia: "Ooooh, a new look for our title. And I learned a new word today...delve. It means to make careful investigation for facts. The import gaming article was great! I learned how to modify my PSX (this is a very educational issue!!). But I still won't touch it, I can hardly put a cap on a pen, let alone modify a PSX. That's ok, my friend did it for me. And now there's a game enhancer!! And an interview with Ioan Biris from Linix-PSX. This was a very thorough article. And I've always wanted to see Dog of Flanders, but I couldn't find it. I had no idea it was at Target! But I think I'll wait awhile before I see it, Adam said it was depressing, I'm gonna take his word for it."
Jake: "The drought is over, and we're back to in depth features and a variety of reviews. This issue lets Steve get down and dirty with the writing in a great article on import gaming. Another great import music review from Diana rounds off the list."
Vol.1, Issue 5 - May 2000
Adam: "Oh, this issue also has one of the most hated reviews I've ever written, Trigun Vol.1: The $$60,000,000,000 Man DVD. To this day I still get e-mails from people making some kind of comment about how can I not like Trigun. Well, the truth is, when I watched Cowboy Bebop and then follow it with Trigun, I was excited about seeing what kind of similarities I could find. I was incredibly disappointed to find Pioneer using a Tenchi voice actors in the dub and to top it off... the incredible stupidity of the show. There is just too much comedy crammed into the show's early episodes and it was a complete turn-off for me. And this is from a person who loves Pioneer! Anyway, I stand by my review of the show and I personally think the creators other show, Jube-Chan, is a much better comedy.
At any rate, the feature for May was one of the most loved articles because it was a test that asked the reader ‘What Kind of Otaku Are You?' What you probably don't realize is the amount of hidden references Steve and I crammed into that ‘Rate Your Otakuness!' test. Heck, I'll admit the whole test sprang from the question about ‘Bug Bug.' So, here is the quest for you, figure out where the references come from and what issues of Animefringe do we make hints at that feature with. You won't get a prize, but it'll make you feel good. ^_^"
Steve: "So what kind of Otaku are you? Our patented "Rate Your Otakuness" quiz can help you find out! Geez, I still crack up when I read that article... It's priceless. Adam and I had a whole lot of fun cooking up 20 questions for the quiz, and a lot of the answers are hilarious. It always makes me feel good when we can run terrific quality content like this.
Adam's article on Animetronic was definitely cool. Animetronic was an attempt by Pioneer and Hyperdisc Records to meld the Anime scene and the Techno music scene. What it produced was a music montage of anime clips set to a high-energy eurotechno beat that was sure to make any otaku techno fan a very happy camper. Personally, I don't know what came of this idea, or if they're still going through with it or not, but it was a pretty cool idea.
Maggie Bradshaw's killer artwork once again graces our cover -- this time it's a cute SD Misaki. Maggie's been a close friend of mine for years, and to have the services of a great artist like her made me feel really confident about our graphics resources."
Dai: "One question - - "What kind of Otaku are you?". Seriously one of the most entertaining features, if not *the*, this provided a worth-while activity just for kicks or actual determination of what we fans realllllllly are, neh? As for the review I did for this ish'...it was the Globe Compiliation Set. By now, one would surely conclude that my specialty of reviews was in the Album/Pop genre. As the SeraMyu 8 Album, this was a favorite to review, but much like the Megumi Hayashibara review, took a great deal of time, and re-plays to truly grasp the feel needed for the review bits."
Mia: "Well, it turns out that I am a Jack-of-all-trades Otaku. Cool! Some of those others were kinda weird. Well, their corresponding answers were at least. Now I have that "What kind of Pokemon are you?" song in my head. Speaking of music, I haven't seen Animetronic DVDs yet, then again I could be looking in the wrong places, like that whole Dog of Flanders thing. Oh and Adam, your review on Trigun was just cruel!!! "Trigun is so hopelessly stupid it isn't even funny". That brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps he just thought that the first episodes were a little dry, as can be expected with almost any anime. But calling it stupid? And THEN he said to buy Cowboy Bebop instead. Noooo! Don't do it. In Trigun, the characters are actually three-dimensional. I only saw a few volumes of CB, and the only thing that kept me half interested was that weird dog. But then again, if you prefer random senseless killing, then go ahead and watch CB. But if you want something that goes a little bit further in depth then go for Trigun. I like Trigun because like my Kenshin, Vash doesn't kill...he just injures his victims. And most importantly, Nick is hot. "
Jake: "This issue features the very amusing "What kind of Otaku are you?" quiz. Funny and insightful. We also get to hear what Adam really thinks about Trigun. I enjoyed this issue immensely."
Vol.1, Issue 6 - June 2000
Adam: "By far the most exhaustively researched story Animefringe has ever run is my own 20+ page feature ‘Full Circle: The Unofficial History of MixxZine.' The basis for how I wrote the article came right from a former article I had wrote for Weekly Stuff E-Zine called ‘Pioneer's Evolution' which later became known as ‘The Unofficial History of Pioneer Anime' when I turned it into a website (which I took down because it got outdated). Anyway, the MixxZine feature took me two weeks to research, one week to write, code, and scan the pictures. It then took Steve about two days to add all the pictures into the article. At the beginning of the month, I invited the staff at TOKYOPOP PRESS to read the article and they only found one error, a name in the wrong place, and thourghly enjoyed the article.
My personal goal for the article was to show people an unbiased view of both sides of MixxZine's turbulent history from the good to the bad to the good. The title ‘Full Circle' signifies the cyclical nature of the company as MixxZine went from a manga anthology to a magazine and how SMILE was born as a magazine and finally became the first shojo manga anthology. But, of course I couldn't do that without showing everything that lead to that so I took each issue as they came and did annotations of key points as I would comic books for my personal fan sites. As with everything the article is outdated now but I accomplished my goal for the history that I was hoping for and because of this I'm very proud of this work.
Side-note: Right before I finished annotations on the final issue of MixxZine, I took two pictures of the things I had laid out on my desk to keep my books near mint. These anal pictures later became the basis for the first ADAMVISION."
Steve: "Ah, the June issue. The famous June issue with Adam's incredible History of Mixx article. What can I say that hasn't already been said? It's long, informative, illustrated, colorful... Without doubt the best story we've ever run, and ever will run for a long time to come.
Our subfeature was a big comedy thing to help balance out the issue... Basically, it's a bunch of stupid slogans for ANIMEfringe. A lot of them are funny as hell but some of them are hit-and-miss. Oh well. All things considered, it did the job it was meant to do and it balanced out that month's content.
The cover is definitely interesting. It's a special Tokyopop tribute cover, made to look just like a Tokyopop magazine cover. I must admit, I did a pretty good job mocking it up... Maggie even drew a special Misaki version of the angry spacefish thingy on the top-left corner."
Dai: "This month was definitely a memorable one, with the double blast consisting of Adam's seriously heavy elaboration about Mixx Zine Entertainment AND Steve's happy-go-lucky Slogan Fiasco. Can't deny that this stuff is just overwhelming, and makes me want to contribute more ^,^; As for the contributions I did indeed input, I believe this was the first time I had two reviews featured in an ish', this time being Namie Amuro's "Love 2000" album, and Kiss Destination's "Gravity" album. I decided to shelve out Amuro's album much due to her undying popularity, and KD's album all thanks to the then-still arising Dance Dance Revolution craze. Same ol' same ol' from my cubicle!"
Mia: "Ah, the issue with the Big Slogan Fiasco. So many to choose from. I love 'em all. And another new look for our title. Oh and I remember those DBZ toys at Burger King. I remember making our own episode using the figurines and lots and lots of ketchup packets. Hehehe we made ALL the characters die and this time there was no stupid dragon to revive them for another season. Oooh I remember watching the X movie a looooong time ago. It was way over my head, I had no idea what was going on, but hey, it was pretty. And who is Jean-Pierre Arevalo? Whoever it is, that person did a great review. They left it out in the open, not spoiling anything so that those who haven't seen it can check it out. This was a very good issue with a wide variety of reviews and articles. I love The Adventures of the Mini-Goddesses!!"
Jake: "The most impressive issue yet. This was the issue that introduced me to animefringe, mainly due to the INCREDIBLE feature on the history of Mixx. As a former editor for Mixx, I can tell you that this feature is the best, most accurate, account of the ups and downs of Mixx available anywhere. (Stu isn't that fond of the article, but the publishing department still uses it as a primer to introduce new employees to what they're getting into!). I'm in awe of the work Adam must have done for this article, without even interviewing anyone at Mixx!
Mixx article aside, this is still the largest issue yet. I enjoyed all the reviews, including a guest review of X, but I have one concern... I know you we're reviewing stuff that we love... but there seem to be a few too many A's and A+'s in anime reviews... Just a thought..."
Animefringe at One - Part 2 -->