History’s Strongest Disciple: Anime V, January 1987

If you’re at all familiar with my peculiar taste in these crazy things we call Japtoons (although really, why would you be?) you might know that I have a certain amount of affinity for an old OAV series called Bubblegum Crisis. Because of that, I…

If you’re at all familiar with my peculiar taste in these crazy things we call Japtoons (although really, why would you be?) you might know that I have a certain amount of affinity for an old OAV series called Bubblegum Crisis. Because of that, I spent much of my “nerd time” in Japan (that is, whenever I wasn’t in school or hanging out with people and pretending like I was a totally normal cool dude) looking for old books or magazines pertaining to my beloved Bubblegum Crisis. Suffice it to say, Japan doesn’t really give a crap about Bubblegum Crisis, and such material was always hard to find. Which is why when I found out the now-defunct Anime V covered Bubblegum Crisis a lot, I started trolling through used bookstores and Mandarake shops for back issues.

The funny thing is, I didn’t find a single issue. Well, I did find one or two, but they were both from the mid 90s and thus irrelevant to my interests. Bizarrely, Anime V is absent from the shelves of shops that might sell such magazines, even as they might stock a large selection of other late 80s anime magazines. Yahoo Auctions wasn’t much better, a few odd issues would occasionally show up, but rarely within the time frame I was looking for. So then, where the hell are all the old back issues of Anime V?

I have no idea. I do have one issue though, and it’s the January 1987 issue. So I’m going to talk about that for the second installment of this ridiculous column.

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I’ll fully admit that I can’t talk with much authority about Anime V, being that I only own a single issue. Judging by this issue, however, the magazine isn’t much different from other anime magazines published around this time in Japan. A mixture of color and black-and-white pages, the paper quality is low; black and white pages are a rough newsprint and the color pages are very thin. The production values aren’t as coarse as those of manga weeklies, but it still feels rather disposable.

The contents are about what you’d expect. There isn’t much in the way of actual journalism here, just lots of copy about then-current or upcoming releases, some line art (from Outlanders), chapter five of a Bubblegum Crisis novel, fan art and and article about exciting new consumer electronics (ever heard of VHD?). In 1987 the OAV market was just beginning to take off and Anime V seems to be almost entirely dedicated to the format (if the magazine’s subtitle of “New Video Magazine” wasn’t enough of a hint).

To give you an idea: Robot Carnival, Outlanders, Dream Hunter Rem, Del Power X, Guyver, Grey: Digital Target, Dirty Pair, Elf 17, and Twinkle Heart are but a few of the Oriental Animation Videos covered in this issue. There’s a lot of listed prices, which makes for some interesting comparisons. For instance, at this time OAVs were coming out on VHS, LaserDisc and the above mentioned VHD, but not all OAVs came out on all formats. Prices and release dates were inconsistent, take for instance Grey: Digital Target: the VHS was released on January 25 at 13,800 yen, the VHD and LD releases didn’t come out until March 25, but they cost less at 9,800 yen. It’s hard to conceive that in this day and age people would be willing to pay that much for a video tape only an hour (or less) in length.

You kids get off my lawn, etc.

Next Week: The Canadian giant robot magazine!

5 Comments

  1. Weren’t the VHS always priced higher because they were designed for the rental market? I am not sure, I just remember buying some crappy YuYu Hakusho music video tape for $80 at Yaohan before I knew any better. @_@;

    At any rate, I love this column. My mother found me a copy of Hobby Japan EX from 89…man, how I wish I could go back in time and buy these garage kits(I also remember getting xeroxed catalogs from shops in CA that sold these same kits..I kick myself for not knowing what Zeorymer or Borgman was back then!)

  2. I can help somewhat.

    From memory:

    Anime V was produced by the same people as Animedia.

    At the time it was thought the OAV was the FUTURE of anime, no longer held back by TV regulations, running times imposed by the needs of commercials, show lengths straightjacketed by the broadcast seasons. Of course, in a mirror of the times now, they found out that the number of people who would actually PAY to own all the crap produced is a very, very small number.

    By that time two of the ‘majors’ (The Anime and My Anime) had folded. The Anime was killed by Zeta Gundam (overpaid for the publishing license just when home video went mass market and people felt that anime comics were unneeded) and My Anime had tried to keep up with the glut of shows by shifting to a bi-weekly format, going thinner, smaller (same size as Animedia) and shifting from squarebound to saddle staple. I think that lasted about 6 months, then gone. I really miss My Anime, they were always neck-and-neck with Animage in terms of cool bonus pack-in goodies. Remember those? posters, stickers, establishment sheets books, show themed playing cards, etc?

    The different prices you see, and release times, is because VHS was mainly a rental medium, while LD was seen as the collectors format.

  3. Very nice–and thanks for this!

    Some years back, I got a couple of magazines from my friend, and one of them was an issue of NewType–from 1988! Although I cannot remember the month off the top of my head, it was pretty interesting to leaf through the issue and read (well, what I _could_ read with my limited Japanese) what was featured–coverage of BGC, CHAR’S COUNTERATTACK, THE FIVE STAR STORIES….

    Also, seeing the now “old-school” art of 1980s anime was a blast. Then again, 1988 was around the time I got into anime. Time flies….

    Interesting that you bring up the cost of VHS tapes and LDs from back then. When I hear someone whine about the cost of DVDs (usually trying to defend why they download anime) all I can do is shake my head sadly and say, “You really don’t know, do you? Compared to back in the 80’s and 90’s, DVDs are cheap!”

    Great stuff!

  4. Nice review! I also have exactly one issue of Anime V (November 1987). I bought it for its coverage of my all-time favorite OAV: To-Y .

    After work, if I have time, I’ll go through the issue and report back on what it contains.

  5. They certainly were expensive. The exchange rate was significantly better then (about 140 yen to the dollar in 1987, although that was down from 230 yen in the early ’80s–thank you, James Baker). But even so, that means a 9800 yen tape was $70–in 1987 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, that means you were paying the equivalent of almost $130.00 today for a single anime tape. That was the *lowest* price–assuming, of course, you were buying it in Japan or had someone buy it for you there. If it was an import, in the words of Seishun Shitemasu, “Well, there were shipping fees! Union dues! Plus we had to maintain our outrageous savings rates!”

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