Home » Essays » A Brief History of the rec.arts.anime newsgroup 

A Brief History of the rec.arts.anime newsgroup 

By Alan Takashita

Life before r.a.a.
Well, frankly, people mostly just didn’t talk much about anime.
This was the time period where Robotech was the big anime-related 
thing. At the time, I was a relatively new anime fan, having
just watched “Robotech” (due mostly to some raving that I’d heard
over on rec.arts.comics about how much “better” this cartoon was…).

The time frame was sometime after 1986 because that’s when Baycon ’86
was…and that’s where I saw something called “Nausicaa and the
Valley of Wind”. That movie firmly hooked me and I’ve been a fan
ever since…

On the net, anime conversations usually showed up in the
rec.arts.comics or the rec.arts.sf-lovers newsgroup. Note that
this was before .comics and .sf-lovers split into the current
.comics and .sf hierarchies respectively.

There was one other place where anime discussions took place.
Mark Crispin ran the “Urusei Yatsura” mailing list. Topics 
usually centered around Lum and company (no surprise here!).

The ocassional comments that showed up in rec.arts.sf-lovers 
usually died pretty quickly…

How r.a.a. came into being.
Timeframe: Late 1987.

During one of the rec.arts.comics anime digressions, someone suggested
that a separate newsgroup for Japanese Animation be created, since
there seemed to be enough interest in it. Ann Schubert took that
idea and organized a newsgroup creation petition, based on the
Newsgroup Creation Procedure of the time (which is pretty much
identical to how things are done today).

Among the things that came out during the discussion period was
what we were going to name our new newsgroup and should we allow
non-Japanese animation in it. We decided that: YES, we were going
to allow *any* animation discussion in this newsgroup.

As for the name…well, r.a.japanimation wasn’t appropiate and
r.a.animation was just too long to type. The Japanese used the word
“anime” to describe their own work, so why not use that? The word
*is* a shortened version of “animation”, after all. We settled
on “rec.arts.anime”…

Ann took the vote, and the newsgroup passed. “rec.arts.anime” was a
reality! It took about 2 months for the newgroup control message to
effectively propogate, but r.a.a. was open for business. Appropriately
enough, I seem to remember “Robotech” as one of the first threads
after the “Congratulations” messages had died down… 🙂

Thanks to Ann Schubert for all of her hard work!!!

SIDE NOTE: The Urusei Yatsura Mailing List was in operation well 
before any of this happened, so that makes it the oldest anime-related
mailing list on Usenet…even pre-dating the newsgroup…

The “anime” vs “animation” wars.
Timeframe: Late 1989.

The charter said that any animation discussion was welcome, but
posts about Japanese Animation dominated. Also, in retrospect,
choosing the “rec.arts.anime” name was a mistake since many new
readers of the net assumed that “anime” meant that the group was
*only* for Japanese Animation discussions.

Several flame wars erupted over this issue.

Finally, the breaking point came and a drive was organized to form
a newsgroup where people could talk about *animation*…i.e.
American TV shows and movies, generic animation techniques, and other
forms of animation art (Claymation, Stop-Motion, etc.) without
having the specter of “ANIME” hanging over it.

During the discussion period, issues about the charter came up, but
the hottest discussions came with *where* to put this new group.
Some preferred “rec.arts.anime.animation” (a mouthful if I ever
heard one :-)) and others wanted a top level group. This should
sound familiar to the rec.arts.manga folks… 🙂

Finally, the Request For Votes came and the name shown on it was  
“rec.arts.animation”. The vote was taken, and result was YES.
rec.arts.animation was now a real newsgroup.

A new mailing list is born.
Timeframe: April 1991.

Joining the ranks of the UY List, the “Hayao Miyazaki Discussion
Group” was born on April 11th of that year. The charter for this 
group was to discuss the works of Hayao Miyazaki (Nausicaa, Laputa,
Totoro, et al).

Naturally, when Studio Ghibli was formed, discussion topics expanded
to cover anything from that studio including such works as “Omohide
Poro-Poro” and “Umi ga Kikoeru”.

The 2nd anime mailing list would prove to be very much alive and
healthy. Publishing the list address in “Anime UK” added quite a
few new members to the List (this happened in 1994).

The rec.arts.manga group.
Timeframe: 1992.

As with the “non-Japanese animation” people, those who wanted to
discuss the art form upon which most anime is based on found
little space in r.a.a. to do it. Ocassionally, a post would 
surface on r.a.comics, but no in-depth discussion survived for
long. Manga translations would *definitely* have been out of
place there.

Some manga discussions were started on rec.arts.anime, but net
traffic was starting to become a factor, and the discussions were
frequently drowned out in the rest of the traffic.

As before (is a pattern becoming apparent?), a movement was formed
to create a group specifically for manga or Japanese Comics. A
Request For Discussion was issued and a new manga newsgroup started
to form.

A charter was eventually formed (“This newsgroup is for the
discussion of manga…”) after some heated discussion, but the
*real* fun came with where to put the newsgroup. Since the topic
of this newsgroup was somewhat fuzzy, it could have fit into 
several places. Suffice it to say that names such as 
“rec.arts.comics.manga” and “rec.arts.anime.manga” were
considered, but “rec.arts.manga” finally won out.

The great newsgroup split.  
Timeframe: Early 1993.

Part of what drove the manga discussions out of r.a.a. was the
sheer volume of this newsgroup. In about 6 years, anime had
grown from one or two postings per 1/2 year (in rec.arts.comics)
to a newsgroup averaging 150 postings a *day*. Following the
example of other newsgroups (rec.arts.comics, rec.arts.startrek,
rec.arts.sf-lovers), it was decided that splitting the newsgroup
into its own hierarchy would be a good idea…

After the discussion period, Enrique Conty posted a ballot on
creating a number of subgroups (though he didn’t take the vote). 
The votes were received and tallied and the result was the
news configuration that we see today:

rec.arts.anime – General anime discussions
rec.arts.anime.marketplace – Buy and sell anime-related items
rec.arts.anime.stories – Anime-based fan fiction
rec.arts.anime.info – Moderated group for informational posts.

SIDE NOTE: Despite the intended purpose, I don’t see much decrease
in the amount of traffic in rec.arts.anime… 🙂

Lists come and go.
Timeframe: all of 1994.

Anime began gaining momentum in the mainstream. Part of what
drove this were releases from several companies…notably
AnimEigo, Viz Comics and Streamline. Many people of similar
tastes began forming their own mailing lists where specific
discussions on specific topics could take place.

Among the more prominent Lists to form during this period was
Lists devoted to the following: 
– Ranma 1/2
– Tenchi Muyou
– Shampoo (a character from Ranma 1/2)
– Orange Road 
– Oh My Goddess!

Sailor who?
Timeframe: September 1995.

Well, DIC finally did it. The popular Japanese series “Bishoujo
Senshi Sailor Moon” is dubbed and released into syndication in
both the US and Canadian markets. This, along with DIC’s
“Dragonball” series, marks the 2nd new major anime series to
appear on North American TV in years. 

(“Ronin Warriors” appeared first by a couple of months).

The “Usagi” character is renamed “Serena”, but her appeal snags
a whole new group of fans…so much so that “Sailor Moon” traffic
was threatening to overwhelm the rest of rec.arts.anime.

This sparked the creation of a new “alt.” newsgroup. Since “alt.”
runs on an ad-hoc basis, there was no formal call for votes.
The “alt.fan.sailor-moon” group has proven to be very popular
which is a testament to “Sailor Moon”…

SIDE NOTE: This wasn’t the first anime-based alt.fan group to
be created by far. “alt.fan.bgcrisis” (Bubblegum Crisis), and
alt.fan.robotech (Robotech) predate the Sailor Moon group by
a year or more…

Oh no! Split again!
Timeframe: March 1996. 

The rec.arts.anime group had been split once. The traffic levels
had only gotten worse since then. Also, more and more people were
starting to discover anime and the newsgroup and participation/posting
were reaching all time highs.

A proposal was floated to resplit the group again. How it would
be done has turned out to be as controversial (if not more so)
than previous split proposals. rec.arts.anime has had split
proposals before, and each had been ‘voted’ down before ever
coming to a real vote.

This time, it would be different…

After the usual discussion period, a split format had been
proposed. The vote was taken and passed and the anime hierarchy
would have a new look:

rec.arts.anime.marketplace – Buy and sell anime-related items
rec.arts.anime.info – Moderated group for informational posts.

rec.arts.anime.misc – Replaces rec.arts.anime
rec.arts.anime.creative – Replaces rec.arts.anime.stories

rec.arts.anime.fandom – Issues concerning anime fans.
rec.arts.anime.games – Video and other games based on anime.
rec.arts.anime.models – Models based on anime.
rec.arts.anime.music – Anime-related music.

Time will tell whether this will address the traffic problem…

Thanks to Enrique Conty and the Miyazaki Mailing List for helping me
on some of the dates.

May 9, 1996, 2:00:00 AM

—– (Working .signature) _ __ ____ ___ _____ ____ __
Alan Takahashi / \ / / / _ \ / _ \ /_ _/ /__ / /
Santa Clara, California / / \/ / / /_/ / / _/ / / / /__/ / /__
E-mail: taka…@nt.com /_/ \__/ \____/ /_/|_| /_/ /____ /____/
———————– N O R T H E R N T E L E C O M 
“When you need to knock on wood is when you realize the world’s
composed of aluminum and vinyl.” — Flugg’s Law

LAST UPDATE: May 9,2006 2:00 am

Currently the rec.arts.anime is open to changed

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