There isn’t a slightest doubt in my mind the impact anime had on my childhood. It gave me some of my earliest interactions with the concepts of justice, morality, friendship, and sacrifice. While I may argue that the golden years of anime are far behind us, it is undeniable how many of the same concepts I came across in my younger days also influenced others. Here’s what the President of the DC Anime Club had to say about this unique and inspiring type of animation.
Occupation: Anime Instructor by day. Custodian by night.
Pokemon or Digimon, and why? Digimon, for its darker take on the kids teaming up with monsters concept.
Black Nerd Problems: Please tell us a bit about yourself!
Chris Wanamaker: I was born and raised in South East Washington, DC. Let’s get to the good stuff. I have been watching anime since I was seven. Since there was an Erols Video Store. The first anime I ever watched was Space Pirate Captain Harlock, which was dubbed by the late Carol Macek. I have run three anime clubs (currently running/founder/President of DC Anime Club) and staffed at three anime conventions (Katsucon, Otakon, and Anime USA as either an Anime Club Liason or live programming assistant head). I used to travel from one library to the next, hosting screenings of Japanese Animation which I called the Anime Library tour. I was later crowned the #1 Anime Fan in America, America’s Greatest Otaku by the show of the same name created by Tokyopop.
Things have not been the same since then as I have gained a job teaching kids about Japanese Animation for the Enrichment Centers in Bethesda, Maryland. Mainly I teach the history of anime, instead of drawing, which bores the kids.
I have been cosplaying for about 5 years now. I have so many ideas popping in my head about what to do next. I am currently planning a screening for Justice League vs Teen Titans at the Angelica Pop Theater, although it’s not anime. I am doing this mainly for the Teen Titan fans who keep saying complaining about Teen Titans Go.
BNP: What does anime mean to you?
Chris: The doorway to Japanese Culture and what helps put food on the table and a roof over my head. I get paid to teach kids about Japanese animation as mentioned before.
BNP: Do you feel like the anime industry has grown intellectually in the past two decades, or do you feel as if it has dumbed down its shows and films?
Chris: The anime industry has some rare gems nowadays, which need to be pushed out more into the public eye. I don’t think anime has dumbed down intellectually, it’s just that we the fans need to push out the anime that are getting buzz all over social media. For example, One-Punch Man was all over social media.
People would see video clips of this anime and wonder what is this particular anime and where to watch it. Some websites crashed due to so many trying to watch episodes of the series. Now if there was an One-Punch Man movie coming out in theaters nationwide then the anime fans need to actually support the movie. It all boils down to supporting and pushing out the anime that is generating a lot of buzz and buying the merchandise.
I highly recommend supporting Mamoru Hosoda’s works such as The Boy and the Beast and Summer Wars. Companies such as FUNimation, Eleven Arts, Fanthom Events, and Aniplex are screening anime/live action movies across America. When these events happen, support the screening. If there is no anime being screened in a movie theater near you, then talk with your local independent movie theater to see about hosting screenings of both anime and live action based on manga. That’s what I did. I saved by pennies and rented out a movie theater to screen whatever I was given the permission.
BNP: Would you describe anime as an art form?
Chris: Of course I would. When I watch anime there’s more emphasis on film than animation, as if Animation studios in Japan are making a movie and not some little kid’s cartoon. Granted, there are anime that are aim towards kids, but even anime for kids don’t insult children’s intelligence.
BNP: If you could brunch (with mimosas) with any fictional villain, who would they be and why?
Chris: Doctor Doom. I feel he would be a great host if not for any secret Agenda. Hey, this is Doom we’re talking about here!