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Zac Bertschy - In Memoriam

by Anime News Network,

The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children. - Jim Henson

Zac Bertschy has been with Anime News Network for over 20 years. His contributions to ANN have helped make it what it is today. And while Zac is no longer with us, he will always be a part of ANN.

Zac joined ANN full time in 2005 as a managing, then executive editor. He was our first full-time staff member, and over a period of 15 years he helped shape ANN. Zac oversaw all of ANN's editorial content, including reviews, features, preview guides and interviews. He was the original creator of the Answerman column, the co-creator of Vice & Luna, the mastermind behind our Season Preview Guides and also contributed to the planning of thousands of other articles over the years.

Zac cared deeply not only for this website, his co-workers and all of our readers, but he also cared deeply for the artform itself. Zac didn't just want to write about anime, he wanted to celebrate it, and he wanted to humanize the individual artists behind the artform we all love.

Zac found a love for movies, television, and performance at a young age. In many family photos he can be seen cutting it up for the camera. He took his unique sense of humor and love for the arts to theater in high school and would chase that dream into college at University of Arizona where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies and managed his own sketch comedy troupe. A native of Arizona, he settled in Los Angeles, a city he loved almost as much as the movies. His favorite place in the world was Disneyland, a second home that he could always visit to find inspiration. The park was a universe of art he could walk into and live inside, a vision of a brighter world created by the hard work of other lovers and dreamers. The Indiana Jones Adventure was his favorite ride, and he always jumped at the chance to take new friends on it for the first time.

His love of performing eventually culminated in ANNCast, a podcast he helmed for over a decade that was dedicated to the things he loved: anime, movies, and television. He took particular pride in the cold opens where he could express his love for irreverent comedy and karaoke. He talked about producing a “supercut” of all the cold open performances. They brought him joy whenever work got frustrating or life was difficult. He often spoke at length about how much his listeners meant to him and cherished the positive feedback he got from friends, colleagues, and fans.

Many who knew Zac both in life and online are familiar with his forthright personality. Zac told things how he saw them and never shied from unbridled honesty. Underneath his blunt demeanor and candid opinions, Zac exuded love for the pure childlike joy he found in B-movies, anything Disney, and ridiculous gags. During late night film streams he'd mash-up Nickleback and Van Helsing, manage marathons of Goof Troop, and hunt down “rare” bad films for his regular streaming audience's delight. Zac built a whole community over eight years, known proudly as “Can You Survive” (CYS), that loved nothing more than watching bad movies into the wee hours while he hosted MST3K-style.

He loved the unashamed optimism of creators like Jim Henson, and always fought to protect the unique voices of weirdos and outcasts just like his idol, Kermit the Frog. He saw sharing new art with others—be it anime, musicals, or puppetry—as the greatest gift of life.

Beyond all this, Zac was a good man who also cared deeply about making the world a better place. He was an advocate who worked tirelessly for progressive causes that he believed would make the world a happier, more accepting place for everyone, especially those who most needed to be defended, understood, or just listened to. Before all else, Zac would drop everything to lend an ear for hours to those who were hurting.

Zac Bertschy passed away in his apartment on May 21st, 2020. His passing will be mourned by his family, friends, co-workers and the millions of people around the world that he touched with his writing.

Zac is survived by his two “babies”, Boston and Philadelphia, a gentle Siamese-mix and an incorrigible tabby he adopted and spoiled with affection every day. He will be deeply missed by his parents Ed and Joyce, his sister Erin, and his cousin Ross who he considered like a brother.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Glendale Humane Society. They may also be made to the Trevor Project.

We would like to thank Zac's former partner, Jacob Chapman, and his sister Erin Marziale for their help with this memorial, and extend to them and all of Zac's family and friends, our most heartfelt sympathies.

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