by Bruce Barnes

The Melbourne Anime Society has been keeping computer records of the tapes in its loan library since September 1997. The last word in which tapes are the most popular is not easy to arrive at, however. (For a more obvious instance: Slayers 5-7, absent from the library until June 2000, does not appear below, whereas 1-4 and 8-12 do. A few other tapes, such as the normally popular Kiki's Delivery Service, have been on the overdue list for excessive amounts of time.) Three months of figures are missing entirely, from around the time the MAS went from computer records to a manual system. (What happened then, basically, was that the person whose laptop we were using wanted it back.) Going from the manual system back to the computer system (after the MAS bought its own computer) was a much smoother process. All that said, in numbers of tapes taken out the most, the following (with figures as of the beginning of September 2000) are clear winners.

With loan figures in the thirties: Video Girl Ai
88   Hyper Police, 1-5
187 Video Girl Ai, 1-6
580 Magic Knight Rayearth 1-4
136 Ruroni Kenshin, 1-4
137 Ruroni Kenshin, 5-8
311 DNA 2, 1-5
312 DNA 2, 6-10
313 DNA 2, 11-15
77   Sabre Marionette R, 1-3
298 Final Fantasy, 1-4
190 Maze OAV 1-2
300 Slayers, 1-4
302 Slayers, 8-13
12   Legend of Galactic Heroes, 1-5
421 Escaflowne, 1-4
422 Escaflowne, 5-8
476 Dirty Pair TV 1-4
570 Yawara, 1-4

In more recent times the MAS has started putting duplicate copies of some of the more popular tapes into the library. These include Perfect Blue, Mononoke Hime, Escaflowne 1-8, His and Her Circumstances 1-8, Hyper Police 1-7 (giving Hyper Police loan figures totaling in the forties the first title to achieve this), Serial Experiments Lain 1-8, and End of Evangelion.

Nadia and Co There has been a long tale of woe with Nadia: the Secret of Blue Water (or Nadia of the Mysterious Sea, to give a literal translation of the title in the opening credits. Yes, we know we get "The Secret of Blue Water" in English at the commercial-break prompts. We do not know why the Japanese do this.) Nadia is the series most plagued by overdue loan problems. Nadia 1-4 holds a respectable loan history in the mid twenties, but who knows how the figures would have stacked up had it been constantly available. The still-absent tape with episodes 20-24 has a total loan history of four! (This tape was actually replaced in 1999, only to be instantly stolen. For people who desperately want to see the whole series, there are not quite-so-great copies of episodes of Nadia 27-30 on tape 348, and Nadia 31-33 on 349, following the Marmalade Boy episodes. While these episodes of Nadia have always been high on the "Please replace/duplicate" list, actually getting tapes is an experience not unlike pulling teeth from a hen. Tapes are coming, however, including subs of the (to-date) Japanese-only episodes 25-28.

Birdy the Mighty initially had a high loan turnover, became damaged early on, and has been on the "please replace ASAP" list the longest of any tape ever.

In my experience, the librarian's request for new tapes can go through the following five stages:

  1. "You will get this tape you requested straight away."
  2. "There have been delays but it won't be much longer now."
  3. "Okay okay, I missed just this particular one, you'll get it next time for sure, stop going on about it."
  4. "I remember you asked for this months ago. I thought I gave it to you back then. Are sure you don't have it?"
  5. "I don't remember you ever asking for this tape, but I have your request now." (Return to stage one)

In runner-up popularity, with loan figures in the high twenties, appear the following: Marmalade Boy: Miki and Yu
344 Marmalade Boy, 1-4
319 Ghost Sweeper Mikami movie
387 Gunbuster, 1-6
455 Maison Ikkoku, 1-4
376 Sailor Moon SS movie
562 Akazukin Chacha, 1-4
385 Sailor Stars, 1-4
521 Lupin III: Plot of the Fuma Clan
66   Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
128 Shamanic Princess, 1-2
379 St Tail, 1-4
226 Pon Poko
245 Phantom Quest, 1-4
291 Flame of Recca, 1-4
485 Fushigi Yugi, 1-6
616 Irresponsible Captain Tailor, 17-20

Early episodes in the Tailor series were missing until replaced in January 2000, and this year have been of equal popularity with the 17-20 tape.

Of tapes added recently, the most popular is 342 Almighty Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Dash 1-4, followed by Ruroni Kenshin 33-36 and 41-44 (tapes 159 and 161) then 608 Flame of Recca 29-32.

The most recent tapes with high turnovers are the His and Her Circumstances series.

Anything with Lupin III has guaranteed popularity.

Of the unsubbed, Japanese-language-only tapes, the most popular is easily number 235, Dagger of Kamui. The most popular unsubbed series was Sailor Moon. A sudden surge of popularity with this series is expected, now that the whole first series up to Sailor Moon R has been subbed. (Episode 1-4 was taken out eleven times in three years, whereas Sailor Stars and Sailor Moon SS both subbed have been taken out nearly thirty times each.)

Dirty Pair TV 1-4 (subbed) has been taken out a grand total of thirty times since stats began.

Dirty Pair TV 5-8 (unsubbed) has been taken out exactly five times in three years.

(A Brief History of the M.A.S.)

The MAS was formed in 1990 by Adrian Pett, Robert Thompson & Ken Stone. As far as is known it is the second oldest continuously existing anime group in Australia. The MAS holds screenings twice monthly, and maintains a loan library available to members. Up to three tapes at a time may be loaned out, from a library of almost 500 tapes. It is not our intention to distribute commercial titles, or titles that have been acquired for commercial distribution. Titles which are known to be available locally are withdrawn from the loan library as soon as we know about them. (If you spot a commercial title in our list, please advise either the librarian or the screening coordinator.) There is no additional cost to members to borrow from the loan library.

From 1990 to 1997 screenings were held in a private home. (Given the numbers of people showing up these days, it would be difficult to go back to doing this.) July 1997 was when I became the librarian, and also when screenings began to be held at a public hall in Oakleigh, with a fee being charged for admittance for the first time. Difficulties never experienced before now cropped up, such as the time somebody closed and locked the main doors while members were still turning up, and the time the hall was broken into and the t.v. was stolen from its locked cupboard. Ever since then we have used a television projector. Once again, the numbers of people showing up today make going back difficult. I suppose a hundred people can watch a dinky t.v. set, but it would not be comfortable.

By the end of 1998 all screenings were being held in a suitably-sized hall in the Rotunda at Monash University, Clayton.

The major effect I had on the loan library was in re-labelling most of the tapes (with numbers and titles easier to read in dim light) while also renumbering those tapes having episodes of a series (so that numbers followed sequential order more closely.) This means that gaps appear in the numbering (we are up to tape 624, with actual numbers of tapes just a few shy of 500) but people looking for all episodes in a series can find them more easily.

In 1999, as part of our involvement in the World Science Fiction Convention in Australia, the MAS moved heaven and earth to bring Hideako Anno (creator of Evangelion) over as a special guest from Japan, only to have him fall down an escalator on a Tokyo subway and land in hospital. There was barely enough time to find a replacement, at which time the airline chortlingly advised any such change to the flight ticket would be hit with an additional fee of a great deal more than the MAS had which killed that.

Record-keeping of tape loans has moved from notations in a book to a system on a computer. Tapes can now be processed much faster. In the future, things should be faster still when the MAS can afford a bar-coding system. However this will not happen until after the MAS owns its own t.v. projector. (Those things are not cheap.)


As previously mentioned, tapes of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, having respectable loan figures when in the library, are the most inflicted with overdues and thefts. When permanently overdue tape 7 was replaced in 1999, it was promptly stolen without ever having been loaned out.

Tape 280 (Fam and Iri) was doing pretty well too, until it vanished from the library in February.

Tapes 508 and 509, both copies of End of Evangelion were doing a roaring trade in 1999, until one was stolen and the other fell into the clutches of a member who is in no hurry to give it back.

One tape which appears twice in the library at the same time (due to popularity) is Perfect Blue. At the time of writing, both copies are in the hands of members who see no reason why you should get it any time soon.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky was popular enough to appear in my first report in 1998. Unfortunately it has also been popular with two notable sluggards, the most recent of whom has had it out since March 2000.

Fairy Princess Ren, whose popularity in Japan was such that only two episodes were ever made, was incredibly popular with MAS members until October 1999. This was when it was borrowed by the person who currently has it.

A while back the MAS was inflicted with a series of thefts. There was a distinct pattern the thief liked new tapes. Maison Ikkoku 77-80, long missing and often requested for replacement, by error was replaced twice-over in the same shipment of new tapes. I only put one of them into the library. When it went instantly missing its copy went into the library just as promptly only to vanish equally fast. Security was tightened no more coming in just to drop off tapes, everybody who comes in the door pays to enter, regardless of how long or short their stay. These days we know of everybody who was and was not present when tapes go missing and we do know exactly when they go missing.

In the early days, which is to say after meetings ceased to be in a private home and we started charging admission to a public hall for screenings, we had a committee member (He Whose Name We no Longer Mention), who was having financial difficulties. As it turned out he believed in sharing his problems. I was aware at the time of certain irregularities with club money (it not being promptly passed on) but it was nothing to do with me. Then I noticed that certain new tapes were on recycled cassettes which had been pulled from the library without going through me first. (Hey, I was the librarian. Yours truly was the one supposed to handle everything like that! Besides messing up the new numbering system, it made a hash of keeping track of everything.) Many members still run tapes beyond the end of programming, to see what they can catch the end of. It was while once doing this myself that I found a tape officially on the missing list. (Note: We no longer recycle old tapes. All new tapes are new tapes.) Back then, recycling old tapes meant not having to buy new tapes, which helped cover up cash-flow problems. This situation did not last long. Neither did the committee member causing it.

The current procedure with overdue tapes is to send out a couple of reminder notices, followed up by a personal call. Fines for overdue tapes are $10 per tape. Personally, I never bothered too much with collecting late fees from people who actually brought them back. It was the people with stuff out for so long I had to go after them who got my hackles up. These days, probably as a consequence of our ever-growing membership, there are more people than ever before with overdue tapes, spread out around the Melbourne area in such a way I was never able to find time to go and lean on all of them. The new librarian will probably do things differently.

MISSING TAPES (as of end August 2000)

The following are the missing tapes (not overdues) listed here roughly in the order in which they went missing. Some have been replaced, and some of these (like one particular Maison Ikkoku tape) have gone missing in turn. Others (such as Demon City Shinjuku and Iria) have been pulled due to commercial availability. A few will cause problems if they ever come back, because their original numbers have been recycled. (Note that coming back is always a possibility, however remote. Record of Lodoss War, missing since 1998, returned one day. It vanished again almost straight away, but it did come back.)

Loan Tapes Missing before 1998
117 Ranma 15-17
112 Genesis Survivor Gaiarth 1-3
126 This is Greenwood 1-6
146 Demon City Shinjuku
148 Dangaio 1-3
177 Machine God Corp 1
181 IRIA 1-6
218 Jojo's Bizarre Adventure 1-6
256 Metal Fighter Miku 8-9
301 Slayers 5-7
316 Tenchi Muyo in Love
413 Vampire Princess Miyu 1-4
416 Gall Force
418 Record of Lodoss War 8-13
522 Lupin III: Albatross
525 Gundam Movie 1
596 Maison Ikkoku 57-60

Missing in 1998
510 Irresponsible Captain Tailor 1-4
511 Irresponsible Captain Tailor 5-6
532 Char's Counter Attack
261 Miracle Girls 1-8
Patlabor Force
Missing in 1999
428 Nurse Angel Ririka 1-4
113 YuYu Hakesho 17-20
529 Gundam 0083, 01-06 Stardust Memory
530 Gundam 0083, 07-13 Stardust Memory
418 Record of Lodoss War 1-7
110 YuYu Hakesho 5-8
528 Gundam 0080, 01-06 War in the Pocket
397 Patlabor P10, TV 27-30
583 Magic Knight Rayearth 13-16
7 Nadia Secret of Blue Water 25-28
8 Nadia Secret of Blue Water 29-32
9 Nadia Secret of Blue Water 33-36
10 Nadia Secret of Blue Water 33-39
340 Jojo's Bizarre Adventure 1-3
341 Jojo's Bizarre Adventure 4-6
67 Coo
74 Angel's Egg
396 Patlabor P9, TV 25-27
430 Nurse Angel Ririka 9-12
468 Maison Ikkoku 53-56
504 Vampire Princess Miyu TV 13-16
509 End of Evangelion
232 Detonator Orgun
251 Fancy Lala 1-4 / Wedding Peach Video
252 Fancy Lala 5-8
560 Shin Kimagure Orange Road
601 Maison Ikkoku 77-80

Bruce Barnes, September 2000    

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