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Friday, 20 March 2020

So lets recap UK Anime Fans

Thank you dear reader, for taking the time to scan and take-in what I have posted over these years, on My UK Anime Fandom Journey of nostalgia. From being an isolated fan to Finding a network of Pen-Pals and doing my part in creating the UK's Anime Fandom in the early 90's.

April 2020 will see the 30th. Anniversary of the first organised meeting of the UK's Anime Fans.

So Lets recap!

In the years of isolation, and discovery there were Robots!

It was 1983 I was 16 years old, and the UK was suddenly invaded by a flood of SF (Science-fiction) scale model kits of Future War machines that would give The Empire's Walkers a thing or two to think about (Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, had been released on May 25, 1983), and not like the Kids TV cartoon robots that would came out in 1984 like “The Transformers” or “Mighty Orbots” (Kids shows made to sell imported\localized Japanese toys).

So many SF model kit builders and SF scratch builders were buying these kits up, but where did they come from?

It was in February 1984 and my copy of 'Space Voyager' magazine arrived at my local newsagent as per my order.  It had a 2 page article, and a back cover that garbed your eye;

“We look at the latest plastic kit craze from the Orient. - MACROSS is currently a big cartoon series in Japan. Set in the future the adversaries battle it out for control of the world using a wide variety of machines. The mainstay of the forces are giant 40 foot high mechanical robots, controlled by either one or two pilots.” - “Surprisingly, although there is no TV series being shown here, early shipments of these kits have sold out very quickly.”
“Our outside back cover shows one of the new range of MACROSS robot models from Japan, built and photographed by Steve Archibald.”

 Issue 7 of the British magazine 'Space Voyager' (February\march 1984 ISSN 0264-2301).

My question was answered, and lead to far more questions on SF cartoons from Japan, and an appetite for these SF scale model kits too, and yes I had a name to look out for MACROSS!

Now still in 1984 an American scale model manufacture and distributor named REVELL was also seizing market opportunities for these scale model kits from Japan, and rebranding these kits from many different TV shows under its umbrella, with a bold new name that Americans could then recognise “ROBOTECH DEFENDER” and “ ROBOTECH CHANGER”, so I took note of these names too.

Revell would eventually licensed a number of Scale model kits from the following TV shows;
Super Dimension Century Orguss,
Fang of the Sun Dougram,
Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

It would be in 1986 two more years later, or so before I found more written evidence about Japanese cartoons, the name ROBOTECH and that of Anime were now known to me.

From the pages of the ROBOTECH Art book;

[Page 223, “Japan, in particular, has taken the lead in creating fine new animated films and series of incredible diversity and ingenuity.” - Page 229, “In the area of science fiction – or SF, as it is called in both English and Japanese – anime adventures had first been aimed for a younger crowd. But as the Audience grew up, sf anime became more serious and sophisticated. When sf anime matured in the late 1970's, it triggered a popularity boom for the entire genre.” - “For years it had been just one of many forms of entertainment, but now it began to garner a massive fan following.”

Robotech Art I 1986 by Kay Renolds and Ardith Carlton. ISBN 0-89865-412-2

More printed evidence came to light in late December of 1988, this time from a stand-alone comic-book called Mazinger. (I knew of the TV show Mazinger Z, when as a child living in Spain in 1978),

 A four page article by Frederick Patten on Go Nagai was at the back.

 Mazinger Written and illustrated by Go Nagai. Published by First publishing Inc. in December 1988 ISBN 0-91541-946-7 

Still in 1988 I would also pick up from a comic-book shop a promotional booklet for Palladium role-playing books that would tie-in to the ROBOTECH Franchise, entitled “The Magic of Palladium books – An unabashed house organ.” Issue #2 (August 1988). The Blurb on the front said “How to find Japanese Animation Items, and more!” Sentinels on Video Tape [ROBOTECH II Sentinels]

How to get Japanese Animation Items.
By Alex Marciniszyn.

“This article will focus on obtaining Robotech related Japanese animation items. But before you can get these items, you'll need to know what to ask for. And even though there are those reading this who know Robotech originated in Japan, there are those who do not.” - The American T.V. Show, Robotech consists of three, originally, totally unrelated Japanese T.V. Shows. They were combined into one storyline by Carl Macek, working for Harmony Gold U.S.A. Inc.” - “The part of Robotech with Rick Hunter (and the SDF-1) was called Macross. The part with Dana Sterling (and the Robotech Masters) was called Southern Cross. The part with Scott Bernard (and the Invid) was called Mospeada (Moss-Pee-Da).”

“The Magic of Palladium books – An unabashed house organ.” Issue #2 August 1988.

Moving on from the years of isolation as a new Anime Fan in the UK.

Letter writing, posting them, and getting replies;

Disclaimer: We need the record of how, we the Fans created an interest in Anime and the growth of a NEW Fandom in the UK, with the 'How's & Why's alongside as the fan activity (references to tape trading, private letters, fanzines, other newsletters etc will be added) to that end people's full addresses will be redacted, leaving only their full name and post code. If by some way you are embarrassed enough, to contact me to have your part in the UK's Anime Fandom history removed in any way know that this lessens the historic value of the archive. I will also try to be actuate with dates and events, and people, as the facts are important for a scholar or archivist, or a Fandom archeologists\genealogists.

It would take Two comic-books and a couple of Fanzines later in 1989, and onwards that would help me in finding a Pen-Pal's network of UK Anime fans.

In September 1989 the imported English adaptation of the Appleseed manga by Masamune Shirow, had arrived in my nearest City's comic-book store, back in the days when they looked like comic-books and read left to right.  And it had a letters page called “Appleseeds” and Fred Burke wrote “The only realistic source of videos at this time are the fan clubs that offer tape trading services for their members. While there are a number of these clubs, I only have definite information on two”

Earth Defence Command
P.O. Box 515942
Dallas, TX 75251


Anime Hasshin
P.O. Box 132
Warren, RI 02885

So two jumping off points to start my Anime friends and contacts genealogy, and to find like minded people, and support for collecting Anime. I wrote to both Clubs after the September 1989 printing

 Appleseed (book 3 Volume 2) September 1989 [Published byEclipse International Comics with Studio Proteus; Editor Fred Burke, Editor-in-Chief Catherine Yronode]

My first letter to the E.D.C. was lost, but my second attempt did get a reply on April 6th. 1990 from M. Kelli Wakfield with a list of UK members\UK Inquiring person\UK Correspondent; 8 in total including myself.

As of April 6th. 1990

UK membership
Ms. Jay Felton (E10 5RB);
Mark Johnson (NG2 7FL);
James Swallow (N.18 2XT);
Brian Flanagan (SK7 1NL);

UK Inquiring person
Jonathan Hall (YO3 9BR);

UK Correspondent
Trevor Brown (BN1 2EE);
Richard Pofftey (SN1 5BL);
Carlo Bernhardi (LE7 8HJ)

Kelli Wakfield also says regarding the E.D.C. Is; “We are listed in the Fan organisation areas of Starlog, Animag, and the Fandom Directory, in addition to the letters from our members and Affiliate Organizers in comics such as Star Blazers #4, Area 88 #32, and most recently Appleseed Vol. 3 #2, as we're beginning to build a lager nationwide and international reputation.”

[ Star Blazers #4 (Published July 1987) , Area 88 #32 (Published September 1988), Appleseed Vol. 3 #2 (Published September 1989), -

The second Fan club I wrote to (after September 1989 printing) was Anime Hasshin

I received a replay dated on the 2nd of February 1990 from Lorraine Savage (Coordinator of Anime Hasshin). Informing me that “We have 177 members, 3 of whom are from England (and 1 from Australia and about 6 from Canada).” - “Anime Hasshin began in January 1987 and now has over 170 members from all over the World”

Here are the addresses of a couple of our other members from England who might be able to help you find Japanese anime in the PAL system”

Jay Felton (E10 5RB);

Ray Hourseman (YO2 5AA)

Wrote to Ray Hourseman (18th. February 1990) I also said I was waiting to hear back from Jay Felton.

Had my first reply from Jay Felton 22nd. March 1990 (she had been a member of ANIME HASSHIN for over a year) the next time I would hear back from Jay would be on May the 10th. 1990.   In reply to my letter of October 1990 – Jay Knew Jim\James Swollow, and by 1991 Jay was friends with Dave Rowe and Ray Hourseman (Ray missed the Anime DAY '91 Con as he went to a friend's wedding.

I received correspondence from Trevor Brown (BN1 2EE dated April 2nd 02/04/1990) – He wrote "I've been given your address by ANIME HASSHIN, along with a few others after I wrote to them about possible sources for Japanimation films.”

A personal note from Lorraine Savage that came (July 21st. 1990) with issue #22 of The Rose. - There are just under 200 members of Anime Hasshin right now and we did get one more person from England:

Richard Pofftey (SN1 5BL)

In the issue of the ROSE 22 Anime Hasshin Club's magazine Printed in July of 1990 – Helen McCarthy reached out to American Anime fans, and would act as a go- between for Pen-Pals “American anime fans who want British pen pals should write. She will print your name and address in a British anime zine.”

Another comic-book called "Robotech II:  The Sentinels" would give me more contacts to write to, it had a Letters Page & ROBOTEGAMI (a pen-pals section). I found 2 UK addresses.

Alan Russell (SW15 4HB) - Wrote back on the 22nd of March 1990

Martin J. Payne (PO1 4NF) - wrote back on the 25th of March 1990

"Robotech II:  The Sentinels"Issues #13 (DECEMBER 1989)


After picking up the two fanzines together MekTek 2 (Summer 1988) & MekTek 3 (Summer 1989) from 'Another World' comic book store in Leicester in November of 1989

I wrote to Ashley Watkins (BN2 3EB) in November of 1989, and got a reply on the 15th. January 1990 with flyers for EastCon 90 and the contact details for a very busy lady, by the name of Helen McCarthy (E10 6NT)

MekTek 2 (Summer 1988) & MekTek 3 (Summer 1989) 

Another Fanzine this time from Canada\North America was called Protoculture Addicts

In this ROBOTECH Fan magazine issue 5 dated July 1989, on page 9 entitled

-Some Pen Pals

Doug Orowski was listed with the category (anime correspondence).

Letter from Doug Orowski (P7A 7J6 Canada Nov 23 1989) in reply to my letter asking for Pen-Pals in Protoculture Addicts (my letter dated Nov 13 1989)

Doug writes, "I also have been interested in SF for many years but anime has taken up most of my free time these last 10 years." - "It's almost essential to have multistandard television equipment or some means of playing other standard videotapes."

There are some British anime fans:

Steve Kyte & Helen McCarthy (E10 6NT);
Richard Poffley (SN1 5BL);
Ashley Watkins (BN2 3EB)

Taking a leaf out of Doug Orowski book, wrote to Protoculture Addicts, and by issue Number 8 of August 1990 (ISSN 0835-9563), on the page yours truly Carlo Bernhardi was out of the 6 pen-pals printed on that page entitled “The Shaping of Protoculture”

Protoculture Addicts issue 5 dated July 1989 ISSN 0835-9563

The Third Fanzine was called Console Ma'zine.

Many of the games came from Japanese Manga & Anime, and in a few cases the game was made in to a Manga, and Anime show, so the cross-over of die-hard console gamers ( PC Engines and Sega Mega Drives were starting to come into the UK as grey-imports), would soon become aware of Anime and Manga.

Console Ma'zine issue 14. JULY 1990 - Edited and photocopied by Onn Lee, (Monthly)
[ It would be a few years away before Onn Lee and myself would be side-by-side in a review in SuperPlay magazine's FANHUNTER page.]

Other ripples out from Easter Con'90

One of the Anime fans that I met at the Easter Con (April 1990) wrote to me on the 19/04/1990 April 19th. Paul Davison (NE33 3ET). - He too was going to promote Anime and manga in his area of Tyne and Wear (South Shields) and founded JAPANIME NORTH EAST – Japanese animation, manga and Mecha Fan Club. (June 17st. 1990 is the earliest record I have of it meeting on Sundays )

One new convert to the possibilities of Japanese animation, that was attending the SF convention, that I shared a room with was Rory O. McLean (LE11 0UJ), and a life long friend to this day. He had previously edited a D&D (and other table-top role-playing games) fanzine, 'Trollcrusher', and was a seasoned SF and Fantasy and role-playing Convention goer.

After the SF convention EastCon'90 those Anime fans that either showed up for the Sunday meeting or had contacted Helen McCarthy were attached to a contact list with the first “Anime UK Newsletter” June\July 1990. 

From the very first AnimeUK Newsletter, one statement rang out ture 
"You're getting this because you were at EASTERCON 90 bar meeting or else have written to me to express an interest in anime fandom in the UK, and since it didn't really exist before EASTERCON you're part of the setup crew!"

"you're part of the setup crew!"

[These 27 individuals on the list are by no means the only Anime Fans known in the UK as of June\July of 1990, just those that were in contact with Helen McCarthy, nor is it a complete list of Anime Fan attendees at Easter Con '90.]

Contact lists with the first “Anime UK Newsletter” in June\July of 1990

Anime Kyo U.K.” '90

Fan Club President Carlo Bernhardi (LE7 8HJ)

Steven Jenkins (PO30 5RF -  also pen-pal of Brian Flanagan (SK7 1NL) ) wrote "Glad to hear  you've got a club going, you and B. Flanangan seem to be going great guns trying to get people who are interested in anime together, good for you"  on the 9th. of October 1990, then by the 20th. of October 1990 my reply would be "the Club had 4 regular visiting members, every week for the Wednesday night viewings." 
By the 28th. of October 1990 the Club's Constitution had been typed up in an orderly fashion, on by ROM (Rory O. McLean (LE11 0UJ).

In conclusion in August and September of 1990 the UK Anime Pen-Pal network was growing, and most people only knew of 3 to 5 people that they had contacted and this included local friends too, at this time I was corresponding with about 15 or more Anime\Manga fans, all very time consuming for a Dyslexic, even with the support of my Mother using a manual\electric typewriter for typing-up my badly spelt and grammatically incorrect scribbling in English, as well as my health hindering me a little.

For myself looking into the nexus of UK Anime Fans;
From 14 contact names pre-Easter Con'90 to 36 and then up to 42 Fans (or more) afterwards in a space of  just 10 months (November 1989 to August 1990) the UK's Anime Fandom had establish its roots.  And kept growing!

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