I wouldn’t call myself a journalist, but I’ve interviewed quite a few people over the years. This started when I was in college (the first time around) and continued during an internship I had at a magazine, which I’d go on to write for as a freelancer for over two years’ time. Those were all for feature-style pieces about people that included quotes from interviews. Will I ever write stories like those again? I don’t know. Not at this time, that’s for sure. But over the years I did enjoy the opportunity I had to talk to so many creative and interesting people. And being able to ask them almost anything I wanted was definitely an illuminating experience. And with all the interesting people that I know (or know of) online, it’s a wonder that it took me this long to consider the possibilities of doing it once again.

This brings us to my interview with the creator and administrator of Digimon Spirit, a fansite devoted to all-things Digimon, with a wealth of screencaps, audio clips, fan-created works and other content, as well as news updates and blog entries.  Susanna hails from Australia and runs what’s currently one of the more comprehensive anime fan sites online. I wanted a chance to talk with her about the fandom and what it’s like to run a fansite like hers. Will there be more interviews featured on this blog in the future? I haven’t worked that out for sure, but I’m optimistic about the possibilities for it (hence, “Interview #1” in the post title).

This interview was conducted via email throughout October.

How long have you been a fan of Digimon?

I’ve been a fan of Digimon since back in the year 2000 (whenever it was out), I remember catching an episode of season 1 in the morning on Cheez TV (in Australia) and I was just so hooked on the type of story they had, characters and it connected so well that I was crazy about it.
I’ve stayed a fan over all the years, even though for many years, I didn’t watch anymore as I didn’t really know they existed and my fear of starting a new season was always a weakness because it made me miss out on amazing stuff. I got back into it in 2005 when I saw seasons 3 and 4 and absolutely loved it again.
So, overall, I’ve been a fan for 13 years. Long time, isn’t it?

Were you a fan of other anime series, as well? Or are you today?

At that point, I only really watch what was on TV because I didn’t really know about “anime”, just about what was broadcasting, but I also enjoyed many of the series playing on TV then, such as Sailor Moon, Pokemon etc.
I am a fan today, and I LOVE a lot of different titles, but most of them are older series because I usually only watch dubs as I find it hard to read. I think I first got back into it when my boyfriend (back then, now husband) introduced it around 2007, that’s when I really rediscovered it and became a big fan and just watched a lot of different titles.

Although recently in the past few years, it has been slower with watching because I’ve put 100% of my effort in promoting Wuxia on my new website, http://www.wuxiaedge.com/ which focuses on a genre which I find has many similarities to Anime but I am really sad that nobody seem to know (or care) about it, so I am here to change that and this is what I’m determined to do, to help people realise this is awesome to watch!

What inspired you to start Digimon Spirit?

When I first started going on the internet, I remember just spending hours making websites for my favourite things. The first site I ever made was for a band I loved, then a show, and gradually, I got better and better. Around this time, I had this “main site” which was more of a personal site, and I wanted to make side projects that are small sites on different interests, and Digimon was one of them.
Around this time, I was also searching really much for high quality screenshots but I couldn’t find any websites with it, so I started Digimon Spirit with the intention of just adding screenshots for myself and others who may wanted them too.
The site was very small at first, I only had screenshots of seasons 1 and 2 (partially of what I taped on VHS) and gradually, I watched the third and fourth season which I loved A LOT, and one afternoon, I had this vision of how I wanted Digimon Spirit to look, and that’s when I first really put in a lot of effort in creating the site to what it was now. I loved visiting other websites as well, as it really inspired me and motivated me.
Also, another great inspiration for this website was a very good friend of mine at that time, she visited it every day and always commented on how much she loved it, and with those kinds of encouragement, I just wanted to do more for the website.

I can only imagine how much work it must have taken to compile all the screenshots and other media that are on the site. Especially as newer seasons have aired in the last few years.

Thank you sooo much, it was so much fun to work on it, I remember some of the most nostalgic moments were just meeting other people who owned sites and talking about it, or meeting people though the site.

Do you remember what the Internet was like in the late 1990s/early 2000s? I remember there being a lot of fan-sites (or “shrines”) for television programs and musical groups. You mentioned making a few of those yourself and I wonder if you were inspired by those kind of sites from that time period.

Wow, yes back then, internet was like something I would only go on once a week. In my earliest memory, I loved using it (when I knew what it was about), and back then, Geocities was the big thing. I used that for many years, and I still remember all the shrines, fansites and fanlistings. I LOVED those, and I always found awesome information on these fansites. It’s sad that many of those sites went down.

I also remember a HUGE Digimon site that was dark coloured, I never remembered the name, but it had screenshots of almost every episode. I used to save pics all the time and went on it a lot, until I couldn’t find it one day. That was one of my main inspirations for making Digimon Spirit because I was so big on screenshots and I wanted to make archives for every episode.

I was wondering if those kind of websites were an inspiration to you. Series-specific “Wikis” aside, it seems like there aren’t as many fan-created sites like those as their used to be, despite the growth of the Internet since then. Do you get that impression? Or are those kind of sites still going strong?

Yes, those websites were definitely huge inspirations. Whenever I saw fansites like that get updated, it would motivate me to do the same, and I would want to write and work on my site. I think that as there’s been less and less sites, it can be harder to find the motivation, because it’s always more fun to do things together, just like when you were young, it was so much more fun collecting cards or toys with your friends.

I do believe that fan-sites in general have decreased, most sites today are blogs, which I really love as well but for Digimon, I do feel that there’s less fansites than there were even 8 years ago when I was in highschool.

Has running the site helped you connect with other Digimon fans?

Yes, it has definitely done that. I remember in the past, I would be craving to meet someone that likes the show as in real life, it’s always hard to find people who have the same interests.
Through the site, I was able to meet lots of really wonderful people who were also fans, it just felt like meeting fans were the easiest things to do. I really enjoyed chatting to them, sometimes we’d make plans on how to improve the website, or talk about episodes. It was always a lot of fun!

Have you seen all of the seasons yet? If you had to choose, which one has been your favorite?

I have seen seasons 1-5 and so far, my favourite season is 3. (Still waiting for season 6 to air dubbed as I like watching dubbed shows)

As for season 3, I just really love everything about it, the characters, story and messages, Digimon and everything else. I think this season showed a lot of life lessons (others of course did too) but I just remember completely crazy about the season that I watched the same episodes every single night.
I think the other seasons don’t fall far behind because I really do love them all.

Since you started your site, have you noticed a rise or a decline in the popularity of Digimon?

I think that Digimon isn’t as huge as it was back in the 2000 when it first came out, but that’s understandable because it is an older series, though I am happily surprised with just how the fandom still exists today, such as I still see fans, people doing fan works and the interest with season 6 has me really excited.
Though I do want it to be as popular as many of the other series that gets merchandise in almost every store 😛