Buried In Plastic - The First Word

by Jon Hayward, Sep 17th 2006

According to Wikipedia, plastics are “a range of synthetic or semi-synthetic polymerization products that are composed of organic condensation or addition polymers and may (often) contain other substances to improve performance or economics.”

One of the first natural polymers in widespread use was rubber. Sap from a rubber tree was treated with sulphur to make it less sticky and easier to manipulate. Charles Goodyear later discovered that by heat treating rubber with sulphur you can “Vulcanise” the rubber. This gives it greater elasticity, less susceptible to temperatures, resistant to gases, abrasion and electric current.

There was then a couple of different plastics developed (celluloid and bakelite) but a major advancement came after world war one, where a improvement in chemical technology led to polyvinyl chloride. polyvinyl chlorideis a plastic that is created from a gas, vinyl chloride. This gas is colourless, has a slight odour and is toxic. When inhaled it causes a suppression of the central nervous system, producing a feeling similar to being drunk, but extended exposure will cause respiratory failure. However through a process called “polymerization” each individual vinyl chloride molecule is linked together to form the solid harmless plastic polyvinyl chloride, more commonly known as PVC.

Now, while all this talk explaining plastic has been fairly dry it exposes a fairly important point, a lot of anime fans spend a large proportion of their time collecting physical objects that in their most pure form, can harm them. And while PVC can pose several health related issue (more related to treatment of the plastic), the majority of manufacturers have made the product safe by improvements to the manufacturing process. But why do we spend so much time collecting objects that at their core are products that can harm us? More to the point why on earth do we like the appearance of objects that look like this:

    H     H    H    H
    |     |     |     |
-- C -- C -- C -- C --
    |     |     |     |
    H    Cl    H    Cl

(Please note, if you can look at the figurine sitting on your desk and see the covalent bonds, panicking is probably recommended.)

We, the fans, don't see what the object an made out of, we see what the object represents. We spend large amounts of our time watching anime that excites, intrigues, romanticises and amuses us. We watch amazing stories in far away places that ignore the laws of physics, time and space (and in some cases, all logical thought). We often relate to the primary characters in some shape and form; sure we may not have piloted a giant robot, but we've all dealt with some person who has been causing us strife (although usually in a less dramatic fashion). We buy the little static figures because they remind us of the cool stuff we have seen in the shows, or read in the manga, that and they just look damn cool.

And that's why we're here, Anime News Network exists as a resource you want to visit to know what's going on. We'll tell you about the new anime series coming out, how good that new anime movie is, or what cool toys you can buy. We look through mountains of anime to tell you what we think is awesome and what should be left to rot. We're here to add to your enjoyment of anime, we're not essential by any means, but if you would like to read someone's thoughts on yaoi, or know that the latest chapter of Genshiken is a must read you should hang around.

And how can we do this? It's because we're exactly like you, we're fans buried in plastic ;)


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