Anime fandom and collecting often go hand in hand, be it a shelf full of DVDs, a display cabinet full of man-child
toys collectibles, or in my case, printed material. My biggest interest is early English language anime magazines, but I’ve amassed a fair collection of books and magazines (in both English and Japanese) from the 80s through the early 90s. For lack of anything else to do with them, and with a desire to do a regular feature here on Colony Drop, I’ve decided to do a weekly column where I’ll talk about a single book or magazine from my collection. The intent is not just to describe the publication, but to try and place it within the context in which it was written and released.
For the first installment of this column, I figured I’d be a bit cheeky and talk about the first anime magazine I ever purchased, Anime UK #3 released in 1995.
To be honest, I’m not sure exactly when this issue was released, simply because there isn’t an actual publishing date anywhere to be found within the magazine. But since they talk about the guests announced for Anime Expo ’95 it’s safe to say it came out out sometime early that year. For whatever reason, publishing dates were hard to find in older issues of Anime UK, why that is I have no idea.
Anime UK was born out of the fanzine efforts of a group of British anime fans (including, among others, Helen McCarthy). Throughout its six-year run the magazine saw a number of changes, transitioning from an amateur publication into a full-color glossy magazine. This issue #3 is actually the second issue #3, as after the first seventeen issues the formatting was updated and the numbering restarted at #1. This so-called “new series” followed through until the magazine’s demise in 1996, as the numbering was not changed when the magazine updated its design once again and changed its name to Anime FX.
The cover of this issue features a particularly well done piece of art by Steve Kyte of Noa Izumi and her AV-98 Ingram from Patlabor. As you might expect, Patlabor is represented heavily in the issue’s articles, with a number of articles about the origin of Patlabor and the first Patlabor film. Other articles include features on Slow Step, Future Boy Conan, Macross, Dragonball and Dairanger (the latter not actually being anime). In addition to the anime features and regular sections like news, reviews and a letters page, there’s an article about comics in Asia outside of Japan, a book review of China Mountain Zhang and a roundup of recently released fanzines.
Features on Macross, Dragonball and Patlabor certainly weren’t out of place in the mid 90s, and clearly indicative of the market at the time. In fact, aside from the two features on Slow Step and Future Boy Conan, there’s little mention of any anime title that wouldn’t appeal to the 14-to-28-year-old male demographic that dominated fandom at the time. Compared to contemporary English language magazines Anime UK always did a better job of talking about productions that fell outside of that particular demographic (you certainly didn’t see many articles about Slow Step in Animerica or Protoculture Addicts), but you can’t exactly blame them for playing to the biggest consumer group for anime at the time. Remember that this was still the era of the “Not For Kids” OAV.
It’s interesting to note that most early English language anime publications focused less on critical analysis and more on providing raw information to fans in the form of synopsis, character bios and general information about a series. The trend began to change in the mid 90s as fans became better informed and there were more sources of information, but this particular issue of Anime UK was stuck in an awkward time, when they were still doing character bios and story summaries for Patlabor and Dragonball, while at the same time having more in depth articles about other series’.
With an idea I borrowed from Awesome Engine’s Manga Mania write ups, I’ll summarize some of the news and releases that were going on when this issue saw print:
• New programs on Japanese TV included Gundam Wing, Slayers and a little show called Neon Genesis Evangelion.
• AnimeEigo released its first dual language laserdisc, Baoh the Visitor.
• Volume one of Angel Cop saw release in the UK, and I only mention that as an excuse to link to this video. The first Patlabor movie also sees its first video release in the UK (hence the cover story in this issue).
• US Manga Corps released the first volume of Colony Drop Favorite Cyber City OEDO 808, volume two of Lodoss War and something called Zeguy.
• Viz released yet another Ranma 1/2 video, because back then people couldn’t get enough of that crap.
• AD Vision released Curse of the Undead Yoma, Samurai Shodown and All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, showing that the good sensibilities that brought them to financial ruin in the 00s were alive and present in the company as far back as 1995.
Reviews in this issue include favorable takes on Starblazers Part 5, Adventure Duo 3, Hummingbirds, New Dominion Tank Police and Orguss 02 as well as not-so-favorable reviews for Love City and Legend of the 4 Kings.
These older issues of Anime UK were always a little rough around the corner, never quite wearing their fanzine origins quite as obviously as Protoculture Addicts, but still featuring the occasional typo and some fanboy (or girl) enthusiasm. Whereas Protoculture Addicts was too amateurish and Animerica was too commercial, Anime UK maintained a nice balance and provided consistently well-written commentary on anime and related topics. For my money it was the best English language anime magazine of the era.
It may also be worth noting that while a decent portion of the pages in this issue are in color, most are in black, white and… pink. In fact, many pages have a staggering amount of pink used on them. Whether or not this subconsciously affected the visual design for Colony Drop, I couldn’t really say.
Next Week: Something in Japanese!