ANIME CRASH: You say it sounds familiar, but you don't know why...
The Anime Crash mascot-logo from 1994.
Sometimes (read; every minute of every day), it's tough to look back on the wild roller-coaster ride through the anime industry that I've been on, and surmise just what role that ride played in the meteoric rise of anime as a commercial force in the USA. My experience as a working professional in the world of Japanese animation and Asian pop-culture has brought me from the lowest depths of fandom to the tops of the highest ivory towers overlooking Tokyo. Now I can't help but feel that it's come some kind of full-circle. Oh sure I've got a few more angles left, a lot more important contacts in my rolo-dex, but it feels like I'm just like that poor bastard Ace Rothstien at the end of Casino; Back where I fuckin' started.
I didn't even get a pair of those cool KJI sunglasses.
I was very hopeful for a cathartic release of a massive level and a specific kind of tangible validation regarding this history when I was contacted by a certain writer for ANN exactly 365 days ago. A writer who stated that they intended to write a story about this this entity of Anime history that was Crash. This person had actually shared a small bit of experience with that same entity, and asked for information about the great rise fall (and later rise and greater fall) of Anime Crash and its other incarnations like Crash Cinema (for you martial arts fans out there). To have this story reach a much wider audience was exciting enough, but to have it come through the high intensity validating lens of a 3rd party (like ANN)? That was huge for me and the state I was in, somehow taking that long march of grinding attrition I suffered through and saying, "hey, it accomplished something" even if it didn't work out the way you were hoping.
I must have one of the largest classic martial arts DVD collections in the USA, all by accident.
Everyone knows that immense feeling of confident validation which wells up inside when you are "backed up" by an independent source in front of a crowd. It's worth waiting for. But 365 days, 5,000 written words and 250 pages of reference material later, that cathartic validation has yet to materialize, and I have given up the hope that it ever will. Just another small piece of cumulative psyche damage to add to the pile caused by believing that good things can happen in the face of cruel reality... It's not like this is even close to the first time where someone told me that something helpful to my situation would happen and then the exact opposite has come to pass. Where a pending event was something I hung a few hopes on, only to see them disappear into a black hole. Another year, another reason to just kill yourself (but only after the final Harry Potter movie comes out though...).
The more recognizable Anime Crash corporate logo.
It would be nice to think that instead of being at the end of the film Casino, I'm just in the middle of Otaku-no-Video, sitting at the bottom of a giant downward angle that will surely acutely rebound if I just "ganbare" a bit more... After all, I am working on an anime property with real names behind it and real license partners. But my intentions and ambitions have been sufficiently and repeatedly stabbed in the neck with a pen to the point where optimism is simply one more way through which harsh reality can deliberately inflict pain via a Tantalic prohibition of even the slightest amount of success with sneering gleeful energy as it flings fickle fortuitous fate at others. I tend to avoid optimism whenever possible these days.
This story is in fact, the very reason that this blog exists. Did you think The Angry Otaku was actually "angry" about your crappy fanfic?
This is quite the harrowing tale, spanning almost two decades, three continents, and the tragedy of material loss in the face of boom-times which should have provided the very opposite. It's a long story but I can assure you, dear reader, that it will be more than just some bitter rantings from the last one to go down with the ship. The impact that the Anime Crash entity had on the landscape of anime in the USA is a corner-stone of the structure that fandom is today. Not the biggest, not the only one, but a very real one. Yes I have proof. Yes you will see it. It is often overlooked, not because of a willing ignorance, but simply because this story and its supporting information have never been put together in a way which would make any sense.
So friends, prepare for a multi-part (maybe 3) epic which includes; The country's first comic store, and first anime specific store (FYI- neither of which were Anime Crash), the origins of Apollo Smile, and Media Blasters (they're not connected), the first anti-bootleg movement by a retailer, the premiere of Ghost in the Shell in the USA and its screening a year later at Cinema Village with Mamoru Oshii closing Decibel in NYC, Hentai Night, Saturday anime on Sci-Fi channel, the very first anime DVD sold in the USA ever, Anime Conventions, Kung-Fu bootleg murders, Mafia Triads & Yakuza (oh my), death, resurrection, and anime production, Korean shenanigans, Mexican food with the writers of Robot Chicken, the fanfic website from hell, Tokyo trips, nipple slips, and a maniac CEO who managed to drive it all into the ground with ego, sex, and blind stupidity. This chain of crazy events has led to quite a few ups and downs.
Sailor Moon tankobon before they started college? (I think it's issue 13... which was weird because the address was also 13... go look it up if you don't believe it).
I won't blast this whole saga out at once with a whole bunch of consecutive posts, (that would just be mean), so be prepared for it to continue on a monthly basis or so... or whatever I really feel like.