Born and raised in Honolulu, Roy Bann (b. 1970) has had a life-long appreciation for comics and animation. Since 2011, Bann served as Senior Administrator for Kawaii Kon, an anime and manga convention and conference in Honolulu. He is working to bring anime and manga to new audiences through increased community outreach.
Growing up in Hawai‘i, we were lucky to have access to a lot of Japanese programming. As a youth, I watched a lot of tokusatsu series like Kikaida, Kamen Rider V3, Denjin Zaboga – I would run home from school so I wouldn’t miss them! As I grew older, I began to watch anime like Captain Harlock and Space Battleship Yamato and I realized that there was something different about these stories. The stories were complex, people die, planets get destroyed, there are these emotions you don’t get out of American animation. The way that I equate it, anime in Japan is like the American film industry where they have something for every age range.
One store I practically lived at during this same time was Space Castle near McKinley High School. As one of the only anime stores in Hawai‘i at that time, it was natural that anime fans would gather here, and to eventually form the Animeco anime club. At the time, anime was very difficult to get in the United States, so the only way we could get programs to watch at our monthly meetings was through two methods: 1. have a friend in Japan tape anime directly off of Japanese TV and mail it to us; or 2. buy the Japanese VHS tape releases directly, which was extremely expensive at the time at over $100 per tape. Anime was something brand new which hadn’t kicked in yet with most people, so Animeco was a haven for us beginner otaku (fans) to be able to enjoy our new-found love of Japanese anime.
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