Perpetual Episode One Syndrome


Back in high school and college when I was first getting into the anime scene, I came to notice a recurring and highly vexing phenomenon. Bootleg VHS tapes were still the main source of new stuff from Japan back then. Getting our fix legit meant sending away via a mail order catalog and waiting weeks for delivery or dropping a small fortune at a music and movie joint in the mall. I mean “new” in the relative sense. The official releases on US store shelves were three years old on average, and even with bootleg fansubs, you were lucky to get last season’s episodes. You can probably deduce my rough age based on those data points.

That wasn’t the annoying part. Nobody had a hard drive with every Rumiko Takahashi series in HD. Your hardcore otaku buddy who went to Tokyo every summer courtesy of his local corporate big shot dad might have a complete set of Fushigi Yuugi. Beyond that, you were issued your 11th generation copy of Vampire Hunder D, and from there you had to leech off a series of friends, each of whom had portions of various shows. For efficiency’s sake, anime viewing became a group activity, with everybody contributing his sketchy library to the stone soup. This haphazard approach led to what I dubbed Perpetual Episode One Syndrome.

Here’s what would happen: You’d get together with a buddy on a weekend afternoon to play some Soulcalibur. After a couple hours, a mutual friend would show up. The situation would snowball from there until, by dinnertime, a sizable impromptu gathering would have formed. It would turn out that two or three guys would have boots of a new-to-you series out in the car, and upon pooling their resources, you’d end up with enough consecutive episodes for what we now call binge-watching.

Having cobbled together sufficient sequential tapes of good-enough-for-government-work quality, the group would hunker down in front of the tube for an evening of grainy entertainment. But somehow, events would conspire so that you’d only get through episode one before the wheels fell off. Bob’s girlfriend would call, needing a ride home from work. Kevin would notice the time and suddenly remember he hadn’t started a paper that was due on Monday. The host’s drunken roommate would stumble in with a loud skank on his arm and kill the mood. We’ve all been there.

Even that kind of video blueballing, irritating as it may be, wasn’t the worst part. Within two weeks to a month–it was never the next weekend–a similar viewing party would spontaneously break out at somebody else’s place. By the luck of the draw, the same guys who collectively owned the same series from last time would again be present with their ill-gotten wares. You’d park yourself in front of the TV, eager to finally see episode two, when it would be pointed out that someone in the group had been absent last time. It would be decided to restart the series from episode one. And like clockwork, some fresh shenanigans would interrupt the proceedings as soon as the first episode’s credits rolled. Again. This process would repeat two or three more times until the next series dropped.

In my case, The Vision of Escaflowne was a constant occasion of Perpetual Episode One Syndrome. I can’t count how many times I watched the first poorly subbed, jumpy episode of that series. It would only be years later, when I finally obtained a complete set of Hecto subs, that I finally got to see the whole thing.

Perhaps the repeated frustrations I endured in my formative years instilled an obsessive need to write fully realized anime-influenced stories with timely and satisfying conclusions. Whatever the cause of my obsession, you, the reader, win! Back the red hot Indiegogo campaign for Combat Frame XSeed now!

Combat Frame XSeed

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