Like many who were raised in biracial families, Joey Tetsuro Bizinger grew up feeling like his life was split in two. He was born in Sydney, but learned to walk in Japan. He was elevated on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon as much as he was on VHS tapes of Doraemon and Sazaesan. He considers Japanese and English to be his first languages.
Identity and generational change
The duality of Joey’s Japanese-Australian upbringing is a big part of what he channels into his career as a content creator. On the Internet, Joey is better known by another first and last name: Joey The Anime Man. Nurtured over the past nine years, The Anime Man currently has nearly 6 million subscribers on YouTube, Twitch, and other social networks. Joey is also 1/3 of the world’s biggest anime-not-anime podcast, Trash Taste, hosted alongside Connor Colquhoun (CDawgVA) and Garnt Maneetapho (GiggukAZ). Joey’s anime and manga reviews, Twitch game streams, and video diaries of his life in Japan are just a few of the things that make him a key voice in what was once classified as culture.” nerd”.
During his teenage years, Joey grew up surrounded by other hafus (the Japanese word for multi-ethnic people) which also straddled this Japanese-Australian line. But as he entered late primary school and eventually St Paul’s Catholic College Manly, he found himself bullied as the ‘only Asian kid’ in his year.
“I certainly had a lot of identity issues and wondered if I should let go of my Asian side to assimilate into Australian culture. But after a while, I thought fuck it, I’d be myself. I started sharing cartoons and video games with my friends and they were very open and interested. When it came to my identity, I came to realize that I could embrace both.
Australian high school kids these days aren’t too much younger than Joey, but there’s already a marked difference in the way young people today watch anime. On the one hand, it is now accessible in the widest possible sense, with great films like Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie be available on the big screen at your local event theaters or Hoyts this year. There’s also the proof in the numbers. In 2021, Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train became Madman Anime Group’s highest-grossing theatrical release in Australia and New Zealand surpassing AU$4,000,000 at the box office and NZ$700,000 at the box office gross, respectively.
“We have moved on to a generation that was born and raised on the internet, giving them unlimited access to content, information and entertainment. Young people today are more curious and are able to step out of their comfort zone. Anime happened to be one of those things because it’s such dynamic and exciting content,” Joey says.
“Kids aren’t being bullied for watching cartoons these days. They are intimidated if they don’t.
Joey predicts that Australia will continue to be a growth market for the anime and manga industry. In July, he will be the guest of SMASH! Sydney, a Japanese pop culture convention that has grown so big that its 2022 event is moving to Sydney’s ICC exhibition center in Darling Harbour. He cites individuals such as award-winning video game and anime composer Kevin Penkin as examples of how Australians are active players in this burgeoning industry.
The Anime Man started out as a review website, born out of one of Joey’s school projects. He continued to maintain the site after graduation and eventually moved to YouTube. His early videos focused on anime and manga reviews, with a handful of vlog-style content and let’s play videos. His subscriber count has steadily increased, but Joey distinctly remembers videos of his Corpse part 2 playthroughs that had helped him gain a significant following. At the time, no official English version of the game existed, and Joey’s videos were able to fill that void by voicing the Japanese lines and live-translating the dialogue into English.
Today, the type of content Joey produces comes and goes around anime and tangentially related genres. A video from last month sees him spending 48 hours in Japan’s largest internet cafe where he reads manga, attempts to live stream and showcases the plethora of facilities available. The following video is a mega-collaboration, where Joey asks over 100 content creators what the best anime ever is. These two videos reach respectively one million and two million views.
While the themes surrounding her channel have remained the same, the ideas and scale of the videos have grown exponentially. After filming on a webcam built into a bedroom, The Anime Man is set to release the first episode of “Man vs Weeb,” a game show, and his first large-scale, high-production project using a set and crew. professionals. . Filming for season 1 is complete and, if the feedback is positive, Joey says a second season could be considered.
“I worked with an amazing Japanese team, but everything from directing to writing the quizzes to producing the show was done by me and could only be done by me because it is my vision,” he says. “My YouTube channel is my resume, and I’m constantly pushing the boundaries so people can see what I’m capable of.”
Wars of Fashion, Expression and Internet Culture
Still coming this month is Joey’s first line of streetwear, a brand simply titled “Nonsense.” For many of his fans who have seen him portray and model a variety of streetwear, techwear, and anime products over the years, delving into fashion seems like a logical next step. For Joey, her taste for fashion is a work in progress.
“I wasn’t very fashionable in Australia, but from my point of view, Sydney is not a very fashion-centric city. We mainly wore t-shirts with shorts and flip flops. Moving to Tokyo, which is much more eclectic, allowed me to explore fashion. My girlfriend Aki (Akidearest) also taught me the styles that suited me. I realized that streetwear and punk styles were something I loved, especially when they merged with anime and gaming aesthetics.
Nonsense is separate from The Anime Man brand, and Joey is clear that it’s not the same as “YouTuber merch.” The concept of the brand is, in his words, a satire of the war between the inhabitants of the Internet and those who do not live online.
“You have people bullying anime fans, for example, because they like waifus. But at the same time, these bullies are also obsessed with social media. If these groups of people take a step back, they might realize that we are all obsessed with the same thing. We are all equally out of the loop and focused on these unrealities. At the end of the day, all that shit is just nonsense.
Many clothing designs are digital-based, and future pieces will incorporate anime and social media elements. Currently, Joey is trying to come up with a design that pokes fun at NFTs. Unlike traditional fashion brands that operate seasonally, Nonsense plans to release a new item every month.
Asked about the future of The Anime Man, Joey’s answer is positive, but with a touch of pragmatism.
“People don’t last on YouTube for nine years, but for some reason I have. Internet fame is much more fleeting than that of traditional media where a TV host or movie star has been in the limelight for over 15 years. How about I still do this in my 30s and 40s? I was afraid that all I would have to my name was YouTube, which is why I branched out as a way to explore my other interests and create those safety nets.
“I always ask myself: how can I take things that I love and through that expand my power? That’s how I got into projects like creating my second YouTube channel, streaming on Twitch, starting my own clothing brand, working on music, and doing a podcast. Something I want to do more in the future is voice acting. I brace myself for the hypothetical situation that if YouTube were to ever implode on itself, where would I be? Which of my nets will catch me?
Joey will guest on SMASH Sydney as the anime man and with Taste of Trash. Watch the Man vs. Web trailer, check out his second channel ‘Joey’, and check out his streetwear here.