There is a lot of discussion currently with people whom I read and talk to about where interest came from specifically about that movie that got you hooked and changed how you view film. I kept thinking about this and the film that it always came back to was AKIRA which is odd because it was a cinema experience nor was it when I was that young but that is a story into itself.
I was born in the late 80s to parents who were a deadly combination to future fan of entertainment that isn’t active. They were both very athletic and rating conscious which led to for the better part of my childhood my involvement with a never ending barrage of extracurricular sports and more Clamshell VHS’ than you can count.
The one thing they didn’t seem to care about was TV so I watch a lot of cartoons on my off days and they were the early 90s so the dawn of the CGI Cartoon was upon us.
If I was to look for the true laying of the seed it would be M, a mash up TV show that incorporated so many different genres and styles into it that it couldn’t help influence what I would come to enjoy both in genre and structure. Around the same time anime had begun to explode in North America, Ghost in the Shell & AKIRA had taken people by storm at this point and slowly at first the localization began. Now being in elementary school and suddenly going from re-runs of classic 80s cartoons and early CGI cartoons to the crisp fluid animation of anime shows is an incredibly huge shock to the system especially from an action department it can’t be compared . These things were physical, violent and looked like it actually hurt and they were playing for keeps. For the next leap to make sense I have to explain a bit about localization in those days. YTV (Canadian channel) would get a certain number of episodes at a time and then air them while waiting for more, very often those episodes would run out before that time so they would restart from the beginning. When you are watching an action series and in the middle of the huge dramatic fight, or the huge revelation of something and you race home the next day to find that it is back at the first episode that you have already seen 3 times at this point it is traumatic. So what this did was inspire a desire to learn more and with the dawn of home internet, fan sites were found and pieces of information about unreleased episodes & bootleg terrible quality clips of it were downloaded.
The Pandora’s box that stuff could be obtained through the internet and the existing fan-sites would lead to other sites and other sites until direct download links were located for other things. So this is Grade 9, at this point I still hadn’t seen any movie harder than PG13 and the theaters were saved for the odd birthday party to see Deep Impact or Brenden Fraiser’s Mummy.
So I found these links and downloaded AKIRA, which was my first foreign film, my first rated R film, my first pirated movie. When your only animated film experience at that point is Disney that is a major shock to the system. The watershed had broken and the experience of watching that film for the first time and then showing it to all my friends is seared into my brain. In quick succession I went into Ghost in The Shell (Sci-Fi Espionage), Vampire Hunter D (trashy monster film), Cowboy Bebop (Space Western), Ninja Scroll (Martial Arts carnage), Hellsing (trash exploitation) and so many more that it has forever shaped how I approach and consume all the entertainment that I do now.