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POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, October 19, 2014 Share
Throughout the 80ís and 90ís anime was difficult to obtain for fans growing up in Tampa and the surrounding communities. You had to seek out a comic specialty store that carried imported items and being willing to pay the exuberated mark up prices. Occasionally I would learn of anime stores only to order a title recorded on videotape that was a bad copy with lines slowly moving across the screen that not even tracking could fix. I really felt ripped off with my horrible tape that was a third or fourth generation copy. So you had to mail order from ads in Starlog magazine, or find a Japanese pen pal willing to record from TV and mail it to you, or find a local Asian market that had Japanese tapes for rental or purchase. I had tried all of those options and still I was hoping for a better way to increase my VHS library.
A few years into the 90ís Gene Field, who worked a variety of odd jobs that never lasted, created a fan site that featured anime pictures from series that he fondly remembered from childhood. Soon, Field was getting lots of hits with people telling him what titles they wanted to buy. This caused Gene to buy a small warehouse in Clearwater and AnimeNation was born.
Not long after, local fans started dropping by the warehouse and a walk in store was created to meet demand. I have fond memories of spending many Saturday afternoons at this retail store with my buddies. Here, you could buy quality tapes with English dubs or subs, sample Japanese snacks, gaze at all the figurines, and even buy imported CDs. I bought the Macross Plus soundtrack because the music was so beautiful from AnimeNation and I still have it today. Finally I was able to purchase the things I wanted that were not cheap knock offs.
Business was good and the warehouse moved to a 15,000 square foot warehouse on Race Track Road over in Tampa. There was a retail store briefly at this location that I made a few visits to. Anime was in a huge growth period thanks to Disney acquiring the rights to the anime movies of Hayao Miyazaki and the debut of Toonami on Cartoon Network that showed several titles including Full Metal Alchemist and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. AnimeNation was right there in the midst of the Anime Boom, successfully competing with Amazon and Bestbuy.
That is way I was shocked to read online that on 9/12/2014, AnimeNation was closing. You can no longer buy anime from AnimeNation. It will only exists online as a web site with forums. Gone is another Tampa business that lasted for 20-years and went from supplying the needs of local fans to being a worldwide phenomenon.
I am glad to say that I remember those humble beginnings because I was there to experience it and I saw it grow. Farewell AnimeNation, you will be missed.
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2014 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2014 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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