When I was an adolescent I would tag along with my mother while she ran her errands. As she shopped for staples I resigned myself to the grocery store’s entertainment aisle. I would check out the latest mass-market novel releases searching for any movie adaptations usually by the overworked Alan Dean Foster. This was the only way I could experience many of the movies at the time like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Aliens and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. They would always rush these books to market so you would be lucky enough to read the director’s cut with various scenes dropped from the theatrical release. Second to these novelizations were the “limited edition” poster magazines with their fold out wall coverings, production shots, actor profiles and special effects secrets. When forced to make a choice I would always pick the novel over the magazine because it contained more content, but I would study the poster rag so I could successfully visualize the scenes and characters of the film that I would not see until its release on HBO.
I was either too broke or not allowed to see the violent sci-fi films of my youth so I would overcompensate with books, magazines, comics, toys and models. All these products were put there to pacify my movie-going frustrations. Of course they never did and I would find some way to attain the unattainable. After all my consumer research the real thing would always be a disappointment, sacrificing the star for the satellites.
The same situation holds true today with my longing for the newest and greatest anime releases. I look for every smidgen of information that I can find about a series based on some intriguing picture spreads in Newtype magazine. In this accelerated consumer timeframe of the late Twentieth century, it is unbearable to know that many people in one part of the world have seen and understood what you are longing to see and understand. I have made myself buy the most minuscule and ridiculous Neon Genesis Evangelion merchandise just waiting for the end of the TV series. I looked for answers in small character digests, trading cards, LMHG model kits, Newtype Film Books, Sega Saturn hint guides, an unplayable role-playing game, SD key chains, manga digests, and CD soundtracks. I cannot begin to count the hours of fruitless research on the Internet wading through site after site of the same seductive screen shot of Rei Ayanami in her bathing suit halfway in and out of the pool. I actually started to copy edit the [Il]Literal Translation Series scripts and illustrate them with screen grabs from the series in my EVA Compendium that does not exist. It is astounding how irrational an otaku can become when that otaku is made to wait for that which is most dear – core information, the meat of the project, the real deal.
I used to think that all entertainment merchandising was for the benefit of the audience that had seen the form of entertainment and wanted to relive that excitement. Now I see that it is really intended for the sorry suckers who are stuck in the wrong economic consumer sector and can never see the real thing. So the deprived otaku will keep scraping away at the edges of the entertainment entities that we long for until we can see the disappointment of the real thing for ourselves. Not to worry because there is always another film or TV show waiting in the wings to vacuum up our dollars.