Web Showcase: The Online Anime World

Assistant Editor Megan Sutton ushers in the new year with the return of an old Animefringe favorite that's been M.I.A. for a while--the Web Showcase!

by Megan Sutton

There are various places to meet others who are interested in anime. An easier option than conventions, hanging out in online communities is a great way to meet people from all over the world and have great adventures without having to leave home. During my college years, I somehow managed to have enough time to surf the Internet constantly... and I found some great websites. Here are a few.

Gaia Online

Web Showcase image.

I absolutely love this website. You start out by customizing a character, and then you begin your adventure. A great thing about Gaia is there is somewhere that everyone can belong. It took me awhile to find that place, but it ended up being a group of graphic designers who were chatting on a forum, and now we have a guild. I know I always have good friends there to go to for advice, whether it's about graphic design or just to chat and be silly with.

A very new feature is Gaia's first game, which is fishing! You buy a fishing rod and bait, and head out to one of three lakes and try to fish. I can only manage to catch stuff at the easy lake! Most of the time it's junk, too.

Special events include seasonal stuff. During this past December, if you sung carols to the shopkeepers, you would eventually get a present from one of them. After that, they released a special plot about Gambino, who used to be rich and popular, until his house blew up on Hallowe'en. My favorite thing is the random events... It's so awesome to see a little giftbox flying around on your screen, and then you get a special item!

I would definitely recommend this site. Check it out, if not just for all the crazy and fun people that you'll meet.

Hello Kitty Online

Web Showcase image.

This site is pretty new, and isn't very developed. There are a couple games, some forums with some silly topics (working girls' small talk, travel, industry talk, etc...) and some mailing lists. If you are a big fan of Hello Kitty, this would be a good place to hang out and chat about HK and all her friends, but otherwise, its just a bit too much pink.

From the information that they have on the site, there will be some awesome features eventually, such as choosing an avatar and having a house of your own to decorate. However, there's no indication of when this will all be up and running.

Ragnarok Online

Web Showcase image.

Unlike the other sites I've mentioned, this site isn't free to play on. You also have to download the game, which is rather large. However, playing this game is an amazing adventure! It's definitely a full-fledged role-playing world. You start out as a novice, and as you progress, you decide what career path you want to follow, from a wizard to a bard to an assassin. The world is immersive and colorful, and the character designs are beautiful. This is definitely a game to try out, especially since there is a free trial period of 15 days.

Two other interactive sites that aren't strictly anime, but have groups and worlds about anime, are Neopets (www.neopets.com) and Furcadia (www.furcadia.com).

Web Showcase image.

Neopets is a site that I have loved for a long time. It has developed into a huge community of people of all sorts of interests and backgrounds. You pick a pet out of about 50 kinds, and then buy food and items for it. There are numerous games to make Neopoints, which are needed to buy things, and some of those games are so fun and addicting! You can join a guild, open a shop/gallery, and collect secret avatars. There is a battledome, neohomes that you can customize, and special events and plotlines.

The downside is that this site has a decided problem with scammers, but that's just because people are so obsessed with getting the really expensive items, and there's a lot of ways to trick people. You just have to be alert and never give out your password (that is the golden rule for all these sites).

Web Showcase image.

And finally, Furcadia. This game is free, but does it require you to download the game and install it. It is another game that is heavily based on role-playing. You journey through other players' "dreams", which are created using the Dream Editor and made fully interactive with programming called DragonSpeak. There are countless dreams about all sorts of subjects. You can also just hang out and make friends.

Its hard to get used to the navigation in this world, in my opinion, because you use the arrow keys, and the way you walk is based on diagonals, so when you press up, you go towards the upper right corner.

This game is also very beautiful and colorful, and can keep you entertained for hours, if you find a dream that you really enjoy being in.

So now you know where to start, go have an adventure!

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