Host: Dungeonmaster Jim

Have you ever looked around and wondered just how things got so damned complicated? Do you ever wish that you could return to a time when the biggest question was “what sugary cereal do I want to eat while I watch Saturday morning cartoons?” Do you miss the days of cel animation, VHS tapes, and rabbit-ear antennas?

My friend, you aren’t alone.

Dungeonmaster Jim is a seasoned veteran in the fan community. He’s been active since the olden days, when cable was a pipe dream and you had to walk five miles in the snow (uphill both ways!) for a fifth-generation fansub. And damn it, he appreciated the opportunity!

Jim opened the panel with his own story, recounting his days as a sprightly eight-year-old, who loved dinosaurs. This was a time he referred to as “BC,” short for “Before Cable.” VHF and UHF frequencies were the main methods of TV broadcast, and the “Saturday Morning Ghetto” was a weekly ritual for kids across the country. Anime, at the time, was seen as “cartoons that were made in Japan because they were cheaper to produce.”

Through it all, Jim was affable and charismatic. The room hung on his every world, as he guided fans through simpler times. He was genuinely funny, and painted a vibrant picture of a time before most of the attendees were even born. As he discussed shows like Star Blazers and Battle fo the Planets, Jim brought scenes to life with vibrant imagery and an infectious enthusiasm. Folks laughed (and cringed) as he recounted an odd experience in seeing Legend of the Overfiend in an art house theater. Not long after, excited murmurs flooded the room as discussions about Usenet began to crop up.

With his story concluded, Jim opened the floor for the dozens in attendance to share their own stories. By the end, the panel became a conversation, like a bunch of old friends coming together for a reunion as they traded war stories about shows that made or broke them. The crowd talked about the ethics of Major Video renting Angel Cop to an eight-year-old, and the absurdity of Escaflowne on Fox Kids. They debated long-forgotten classics, and shared their frustrations with the abundance of European-dubbed anime at the time.

By the time the final moments ticked away, a small wave of melancholy waved over the crowd. This gathering of curmudgeons (yours truly included) was ending, and it was time to return to the present day. Still, that chance to take a trip down memory lane, in this day and age, is something priceless.