12 Days of Anime: The Zambian Anime Community

Anime is a globally revered medium, its huge in Europe with countries like France even co-producing some anime, it’s obviously massive in North America and Australia as they have vibrant industries and communities and ofcourse its big in Asia. We very rarely, if at all read about the anime industry or culture in Africa. I will attempt to rectify this by highlighting what the anime fandom is like in Zambia in 2018.

I had the pleasure of interviewing about a dozen Zambian anime fans in order to have a clear picture of where the fandom currently is and where its possibly headed. In order to understand what anime culture is now it’s important to find out how it all started.

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A Budding Fandom

Most of the anime fans I have come across are between the ages of 35 – 18. This time frame coincides with the testimony that most of my interviewees got their first glimpse of anime on TV, around 25 to 20 years ago. The 90’s seemed to have been the perfect breeding ground for young anime fans such as Robbie.

I got into Anime when I started following the Dragonball Z series back when it aired on DSTV back in the late 90s. I also watched a lot of the anime that used to air on the Sci-Fi Channel every Saturday night for a few hours. Series such as Dirty Pair Flash were one of my early favorites.”

Xector had a similar experience.

I saw Dragon Ball Z on video tape off that he recorded off of DSTV from a friend. I started looking for something similar. I Saw Medabots, Pokemon and realized the distinction between western style animation and the Japanese art style.”

Elz’s experience is starting to form a pattern.

I saw it for the first time when I’d sleep at my cousins’ house as a kid, we would watch DBZ and Pokémon. I got into it properly in high school because my friend had Bleach on her iPod and I was hooked for life

Expanding The Interest

The access to shows like Pokemon and Dragonball piqued the interest of most of the anime fans I interviewed so I wanted to find out how they watch their anime today and what they consider to be favorites.

Musa explains.

I download it, because streaming is impossible thanks to region locking. Some of my favorites include Sakamichi no Appolon, Ano Hana, Evangelion, Naruto, K-on, Fullmetal Alchemist

Waza (who insisted I refer to her as my GF in this article) said.

I use Peer to peer sharing and Netflix. My favourite shows are NaNa, Death Note and Attack on Titan. I can watch them a trillion times.”

Wilfred lamented.

I mostly download anime from fansub sites. They don’t have all the anime you would need. I wish we had some good quality anime on TV so that I wouldn’t have to search the internet all the time to look for anime.”

Mwii found the question hilarious.

This😅… Piracy😂..lol. I stream it off my laptop. Some of my favourites include Steins Gate, One piece, FMA: Brotherhood, Prison School 😆, Code Geass, Psycho Pass, Clannad, Toradora, Future Diary… There a lot… Can’t mention all of them

It’s clear that the lack of access to physical media and rampant region locking forces most Zambian fans to have to either ship their anime or hope that one of the legal streaming providers will allow us access to their shows or movies.

In regards to legal access to anime I got the opportunity to have a chat with one of the members of Time Machine Zambia. A company that sells and orders goods for those of the nerdy persuasion. I asked them a few questions regarding the feasibility of having an actual industry here in Zambia.

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A legal purchasing channel for anime would be good and work in Zambia. We had Animax and it had a good number of viewers and yet was cancelled by DSTV. A legal purchasing system for anime can work and I still find people who don’t know where they can get anime.”

What items do anime customers regularly buy from your store?

Mostly it’s Figurines and Manga. A lot of people want anime like regalia like Cosplay, figurines and Blu Rays. The audience wants the merchandise but the price of importing tends to be high because the primary demographic is College students. There is a market for Manga and Figurines but not really for Blu Rays or DVDs because they tend to prefer to stream or download the anime.”

The Cosplayers tend to order stuff that means a lot to them and they are generally niche titles. Naruto Headbands and Tokyo Ghoul or Shonen paraphernalia are often sold out but the Cosplay community is the one that orders frequently and for various things.”

Speaking of Cosplay, I managed to hound one of Zambia’s elite cosplayers Biona the Human to find out how she got into Cosplay and how the cosplay scene currently is.

I always liked costumes, dress up and such. One of my childhood memories was dressing up as a tiger in a parade. Once I got online I found out about cosplay as a hobby. I cosplay for the fun of it. It’s a great way to have a specific target for my sewing. Which is my actual hobby. My favourite piece so far is probably the Fiona the human cosplay I did for LSCon in 2015.”

My advice for beginners is don’t worry about accuracy, it’s about fun. Cosplay is a very global culture, with cliques, racism and all the other good and bad that you find in fandom. Don’t let it get to you. You really don’t owe anybody accuracy unless they are commissioning you. Let it be a fun thing.”

Anime Fandom and Communities

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I am privileged enough to host and organize a number of community events in my country one of which is Lusaka Comic Con and the AniMeet. Anime fans new and old get the chance to meet up and catch up during these occasions and it’s a good way of meeting new fans and possibly making new friends. I asked some of my interviewees if they considered themselves part of an active anime community and these were their responses;

Local anime artist Teza said.

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Teza’s artwork

It’s quite a tricky thing the local community, there is Nerd|Otaku and various autonomous groups on Facebook, Whatsapp. I try to attend the Local Comicon and other Anime Community events if I am in the area the events take place. I am an artist with a style heavily influenced by anime so I would like to believe I am a part of the local community.”

Mwii thought.

Not really… Nerd|Otaku has transcended into something bigger than an anime community, so I’d currently say I just share shows with friends.”

Xector said.

I am part of the Zed Anime and Nerd|Otaku groups online and IRL. I work for Time Machine Zed so I get to meet a lot of local anime fans. Its relatively easy to have conversations with anime fans and its interesting being among anime fans because of the ease of discussions, debate or analysis. I find it’s an easy way to get to break the ice and get to know people.”

Finally I got to ask everyone how anime has impacted their lives in any way and if you take anything from this article, please take these quotes to heart.

Zack gets it!

Anime made me appreciate Japanese culture and their language and Waifu!!!

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Musa said he can better explain how anime has affected his life by telling us about his experiences with Mari Okada’s work.

She kinda taught me that connection is really important and shouldn’t be taken lightly, with my personal favorite Anohana; it taught me that relationships with friends is super important and just having someone around to talk to is probably the most important thing to have to stay sane.”

Anonymous said.

I think anime has impacted me by appealing to my emotions. I always feel something when I watch it

Pryme 47 said.

Anime has taught me the use of honorifics and a few basic aspects of Japanese culture.”

Elz said.

Anime made me realise that there was nothing wrong with me or the way I think about life. I wasn’t the only person imagining different worlds of magic and super powers. Watching anime makes me feel like I’m watching my imagination come to life.

Anime is one of the best things that ever happened to me. There is really nothing like it.”

Robbie closes it out way more eloquently than I ever could.

Anime has impacted my life in a number of ways, through the various themes portrayed about justice, moral lessons, appreciating diverse cultures, being creative, appreciating art, etc. Anime has had a major influence in boosting my imagination growing up and inspiring me to be more creative in my everyday life. Some of the major themes in Shounen anime are never giving up and working hard to reach your goals. Through anime, I’ve learned to embrace my own uniqueness and to be accepting of other people’s unique personalities and traits. A lot of debates between my friends and I have been sparked by the various themes presented in Anime, stretching from love to political and societal issues to psychological themes and so many others. I believe anime impacts us all on various and positive ways. It helps us become more open-minded and creative in broadening our imagination.”

This is my third article for the 12 Days of Anime project, you can read and watch even more anibloggers and anitubers content by following the official 12 Days of Anime twitter account.

You can join and follow our local anime and nerd culture community by following Nerd| Otakus Facebook Page, Twitter and joining our Gaming Discord.

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~ by kiddtic on December 17, 2018.

One Response to “12 Days of Anime: The Zambian Anime Community”

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