Life on the Fringe

Evolution of the Industry

The more things change...

by Patrick King

The theme for this month, my friends, is change. Although as I write this, it is only the first day of November, by the time you read this, Animefringe will have published its last issue.

Big changes seldom come alone, and thus it is quite appropriate that today is also our last day in our apartment. In keeping with the theme, my fiancée, Lauren and I have finally grasped the American dream. That is, we bought a house, and now we owe more money than we make.

Not satisfied with ending a successful magazine and buying a house, the trinity of change will be complete when Lauren and I tie the knot December 23rd.

We had our apartment a little more than two years; I've written for Animefringe since early 2002; and Lauren and I have dated steadily since the first half of 1998.

I'm excited about the new house and my upcoming marriage, but I must admit that I’ll miss writing for Animefringe. When I first joined the staff, the manga industry consisted of about 20 different series -- many of which were already out of print -- available only in comic book shops or especially large book stores.

Anime already had a pretty solid foothold on DVD, having escaped the oppressive bonds of VHS that forced fans to choose between multiple language versions of the same series. I'm still not sure why, back in the day, subtitled versions of shows were priced higher than the dubbed editions. Was it a matter of volume? Since there were more people willing to buy the English language edition, they made more, and thus, they could price it five or ten dollars lower than the subtitled edition.

When I first signed on to write for Animefringe, I was far more interested in the video game industry than I was in anime and manga. I had taken years of Japanese in school, however, and I was interested in the culture long before I had even heard of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Now I'm surprised to find that I am just as devoted to the manga and anime scene as I am to video games. To give readers an idea of how much I'm into gaming, I'll provide some background information. I own all of the major game systems and a bunch of the minor ones. I have hundreds of (legal) games and accessories. I majored in computer science in the hopes of getting into the industry, and after college, I applied to (and was accepted for) Digipen's first Master's degree program last year.

Naturally, things changed. See? I told you it was a motif. I was offered a local job with a very large consulting firm, so instead of going off to study video games in an academic setting, I chose to stay in St. Louis.

One day, I hope that I'll finally make it into the video game industry. Yet even if I don't, I’m happy that I helped to contribute a little bit to anime and manga fandom, at least. I'll never stop thinking about anime, manga and video games. I'll never stop writing about them, either. Perhaps one day, I'll be involved in their production. Until then, I'll remain a dedicated fan. Even then, my dedication to all three will not fade away.

Although I'm ending my status as a bachelor near the end of December, closing the doors of my apartment for the last time today, and hanging up my Animefringe Staff Writer hat (yes, we get hats!) with the final issue, I am confident that each of these endings will only provide the pathway to something better.

There is still so much to do in all three of these industries. There are some major shows on the horizon that are being released in America in a kiddie-friendly, edited-for-TV format. Video games are still fighting an uphill battle for legitimacy against lawmakers hoping to cast them as the enemy of society, and to this day, there remain some manga that does not make it over to the U.S. unscathed by the editorial process.

I will always be an unapologetic fan of anime, manga and video games. Much of it is not intended for children. Some of it doesn't make sense. Quite a few of the most popular releases are nothing but marketing tie-ins, but there is so much good out there that I'll gladly accept the bad along with it. It is possible that people will find many games, books or anime series offensive, but that is the price that you pay when catering to a diverse crowd.

I have to admit: I take a bit of perverse pleasure knowing that whatever I'm watching, reading or playing might offend someone. After all, inspiring offense is one way to know that people are thinking. Would I be equally happy inspiring happiness, joy or catharsis? Sure. Luckily, anime, video games and manga can inspire all of those feelings as well.

My parting advice to any fan of anime, manga and games is to do your best to evangelize the industry. Spend less time complaining about the bad parts (poor One Piece) and more time encouraging your friends to check out something that they wouldn't without your insistence. It doesn't mean much to boycott stuff like Ten-Ten if you never support other more appropriately handled manga releases. Don't just buy Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas -- go out of your way to buy the Adults Only edition, and while you're at it, pick up Shadow of the Colussus. What a great game!

Spread the word, inspire new fans, and help to seed the creation of more material that you enjoy.

That was my only goal in writing for Animefringe. Perhaps one of my reviews convinced some readers to avoid a series, but I'd be far more satisfied to learn that someone took a chance on an unknown release because of something I said -- and they subsequently enjoyed it. It's a rather selfish motivation; I'm only trying to make anime, manga and video games more popular so that I'll be able to get more of the stuff myself. For that, I apologize.

I just hope that you guys -- our readers -- had as much fun reading Animefringe as our staff had working on it.

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Opinions expressed in editorial articles are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Animefringe or its staff.
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