June 20, 2006
Even before I knew about Fullmetal Alchemist, I understood alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange: “To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.” So, when I started collecting anime in earnest, I looked to do some online trading. Back in the early '90s, after all, there were only a handful of commercially available titles.
I created a website based on one of the few network TV cartoon shows I could respect: Dungeons & Dragons. I’d taped all 27 episodes of its three seasons off of cable. On Betamax, no less. So I mentioned on the site that I was looking to trade tapes, anime preferred but not required, in exchange for the 27 eps of D&D.
It wasn’t a flood of offers; more like I turned on a faucet, which resulted in a steady stream of offers. At first I was nervous about intellectual property and all that jazz, but the Copyright Police never came a-knocking, even though (and this is 2006!) D&D is still not available in Region 1 DVDs! I’ve found airchecks from the attempt to show it on Fox a few years back, but they added the network watermark and an unscheduled commercial break, so I still think my clients got the better product.
What I got was a massive, diverse look into anime. Most folks would be guided by their personal tastes and whatever happens to be at the stores. I was offered titles I’d never heard of and knew nothing about, including these buried treasures: