The CompuServe Anime and Manga Forum

The roughly mid-90's and earlier (generally pre-Toonami, pre-anime boom) era of anime & manga fandom: early cons, clubs, tape trading, Nth Generation VHS fansubs, old magazines & fanzines, fandubs, ancient merchandise, rec.arts.anime, and more!
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mbanu
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The CompuServe Anime and Manga Forum

Post by mbanu »

Here's a history from Tom Mitchell of Anime Stuff:
Tom Mitchell wrote:
History of the Anime/Manga Forum

-----------------------------------------

By Tom Mitchell,
longtime member and Forum staffer
Tomzer1@compuserve.com

WHAT IS THIS PLACE?
WHAT'S SO DIFFERENT ABOUT IT?
THE FIRST AND LONGEST RUNNING ONLINE FORUM FOR ANIME FANS
HOW DID IT START?
ITS PLACE IN US ANIME HISTORY
THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS



In this space, I would like to take some time to answer some basic questions about the history of our anime group! Our history is long, with many interesting details about our culture, events, and the achievements of our interestingly varied membership!

If you have any specific questions about the Forum's history, please feel free to contact me. I've been on our anime group on CompuServe since the beginning twelve years ago, so I've witnessed just about all of it's history.

Of course thinking about this has made me think about how many thousands of pages of text I must have typed there and how many hours I've spent at the Sunday Night Anime Conference! Whew! (^_^; But it has all been fun, very informative, and a great pleasure to spend time with my fellow anime and manga friends there. It's where I first learned about anime and manga, and it feels nice to return the favor by teaching a new generation of fans!


WHAT IS THIS PLACE?

We like to think of the Anime & Manga Forum on CompuServe as a unique digital club created by fans for fans of Japanese animation and manga. It's an online anime club that's open 24 hours a day!


WHAT'S SO DIFFERENT ABOUT IT?

Since its inception, the group of anime fans on CompuServe have created something very different from what you'll encounter elsewhere in the online world. Flippant flaming and "sucks/rules" arguments are not something you'll find here. Instead, you can enjoy intelligent conversation about your anime and manga hobby with anime fans that are interested in serious fun. After all, we are on a commercial service and we pay for our time here! We don't mess around! We've always packed information and honest opinion in our message bases.

You'll also find that our members have traditionally been very helpful to new anime fans and users. We love sharing our hobby with new people. Many of our users have contributed greatly to the anime fan community and the professional anime world. New members get help and guidance from some of the online world's most friendly and knowledgeable fans! You can pick the brains of serious anime addicts! And we have fun helping you navigate the best of the world of anime and manga.


THE FIRST AND LONGEST RUNNING ONLINE FORUM FOR ANIME FANS

Our online anime group has been running continuously since the spring of 1986. This makes us the longest running online anime group in history! Certainly among commercial services, and as far as we can tell, longer than the anime newsgroups on the Internet. Our message bases and weekly conferences have been educating and entertaining anime and manga enthusiast for over 12 years now! Our file libraries span that length of time as well, as reflected by the favorite subjects and information placed there by our users.


HOW DID IT START?

The "CompuServe Anime Group" got its start in Doug Pratt's "Comic Book & Animation Forum" in the spring of 1986 when Forum member Takayuki Karahashi started posting discussions and reviews of Japanese animation in the Forum's message base and libraries. Over the next few months, the discussion had grown so vigorous that it required it's own message base and library section. Forum staff member, and die-hard Urusei Yatsura fan, Steve Bennett was assigned to manage it.

Along with the start of the Anime section, Taka had also began a weekly anime conference in the chat area of the Forum on Sunday nights! Hosted by Steve and Taka, this lively anime and manga chat is still running today, 12 years later!

Eventually as more members pulled in by the quality of the membership, the "Japanimation" section of the Comics & Animation Forum grew so busy and big that it was felt that it could support a Forum on its own, and thus in early 1997, the "Anime & Manga Forum" came online!


ITS PLACE IN US ANIME HISTORY

The Anime & Manga Forum has been a very special place. We've been host to anime fans that have gone on to have influence on the history of anime here in the US. We have also become known in Japan, thanks to computer guru and manga artist Mitsuru Sugaya and his coverage of our Forum in Animage Magazine there, and Yoshitaka Ishigama and Chris Swett for their participation with The Comic Market and among anime and manga professionals there.

It's hard not to brag. Among our users have been the founding members of such famous anime sub/dub companies as AnimEigo, and Software Sculptors. Our members have been involved in the founding of such great anime magazines as Animag and Animerica. They've written for many anime publications, spoke at several anime events, and have been interviewed by the media at large. They've also helped establish and run famous anime and manga conventions such as Anime America, AnimeExpo, and Japan's insanely huge Comic Market.

The Forum was also home to Anime Stuff, the first and longest running, widely distributed digital anime newsletter. I still get mail about it from anime fans and professionals. Mostly good too! (^_^)

Our Forum has traditionally been known as a place of calm influence, quality discussion and fun. Please feel free to become a part of it all yourself!


THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS

Many great members have come and gone in the Anime & Manga Forum. I've met so many interesting people there over the years. The experience has been precious to me. As a way of thanking my friends there for the fun I have, I would like to present the following list of the original members of our anime group from the first year.

If you know some of these folks, please let me know what they've been up to. Or if you can remember any more regular members from that year that should be listed, let me know. Of the original group, only myself and Ray Pelzer remain on the Forum. It torments me to think what that says about us! (^_^)


The CompuServe Anime Group Founding Members:

Founder Takayuki Karahashi. He is famous in the west coast anime fan community for his knowledge of anime and his excellent translation skills. You may spot him at a major anime convention doing just that for the guests from Japan. Currently he is also one of the editors and translators for Animerica Magazine.

* Steve Bennett
* "George the Sysop" (Staff member in charge of the Forum at that time, George Whilhelmson)
* Dana Fong
* Tom Mitchell
* Ray Pelzer
* Craig Mercer
* Marylin Morey
* Patrick Minyard
* Rick Sternbach (of Star Trek fame)
* "Junichi!"
* Mitsuru Sugaya
* Albert Wong
* Doug Quinn
* Jude George
(http://web.archive.org/web/200904040623 ... istory.htm)
mbanu: What's between Old School and New School?
runesaint: Hmmm. "Middle School", perhaps?
tomzer1
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Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 4:36 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1985

Re: The CompuServe Anime and Manga Forum

Post by tomzer1 »

Thanks for posting that. Just as an addendum, our Forum ran a few more years. We finally shut down in 2005 after a 20 year run. Mainly this was done because CompuServe was acquired by AOL, and AOL wasn’t interested in having the Forums anymore. So they let the contracts with the Forum owners languish with no responses back. At the time, Chris Swett was acquiring ownership of the forum, but couldn’t get any communication from AOL. So we all just left.

Also, the Sunday Night Anime Conference ran for 20 years as well. Probably the longest regularly anime chat group in history, I’d imagine.

At any rate, the time of the curated commercial forums and online services were coming to an end with the growth of the Internet available to the general public and the popularity of the Web. Fans spread out, and information was more widely available internationally.
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mbanu
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Re: The CompuServe Anime and Manga Forum

Post by mbanu »

tomzer1 wrote: Sat Sep 04, 2021 7:41 pm Thanks for posting that. Just as an addendum, our Forum ran a few more years. We finally shut down in 2005 after a 20 year run. Mainly this was done because CompuServe was acquired by AOL, and AOL wasn’t interested in having the Forums anymore. So they let the contracts with the Forum owners languish with no responses back. At the time, Chris Swett was acquiring ownership of the forum, but couldn’t get any communication from AOL. So we all just left.

Also, the Sunday Night Anime Conference ran for 20 years as well. Probably the longest regularly anime chat group in history, I’d imagine.

At any rate, the time of the curated commercial forums and online services were coming to an end with the growth of the Internet available to the general public and the popularity of the Web. Fans spread out, and information was more widely available internationally.
Good info! The internet is full of surprises... I think that, in hindsight, curated commercial forums and online services were entering a long period of dormancy rather than coming to an end -- one-stop curated websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Reddit, where a person might explore all of their interests without ever leaving a single URL (but with certain things quietly removed), are very popular nowadays. I think that makes remembering those first set of sites more important than ever. ;)
mbanu: What's between Old School and New School?
runesaint: Hmmm. "Middle School", perhaps?
tomzer1
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 4:36 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1985

Re: The CompuServe Anime and Manga Forum

Post by tomzer1 »

Oh, yes! You are absolutely correct; services today, particularly Facebook are a return to the curated walled gardens of the past, but with a different business model. Obviously Facebook has a lot of anime fan activity with anyone being able to establish a fan Group there, and aren’t too different from the forums on CompuServe, GEnie, etc.

These days, I particularly like anime fans’ use of Discord, which offers a lot of customization and flexibility for managing discussion groups, privacy, and membership.
tomzer1
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 4:36 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1985

Re: The CompuServe Anime and Manga Forum

Post by tomzer1 »

I should also add that most of the core group of people on the CompuServe Anime & Manga Forum now stay in contact on Facebook and hang out in a few of the anime groups there. Even members that left the CompuServe forum to hang out on the Newsgroups now have ended up on Facebook as well.

The interesting thing to see next is what might replace Facebook someday for anime fans, of course. :)
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