No one ever asks me this and maybe it’s obvious but what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you read my alias, KITE0080? To understand it, we need dive into the background of my late night TV habits. Enter the origin story of KITE0080.
.hack (dot hack) was one of my earliest memories of anime getting into the age of cartoons for teens. It played during normal TV hours and it had a more serious tone than DBZ. I loved Tsukasa and her moody personality but it was Azure Kite, the zombie-like version of the previous protagonist in .hack//Infection, that made fall in love with the complexities of what online gaming could be.
If you’ve never seen a single episode of .hack, I say skip .hack//sign and go straight into //infection and if you have a PS2 and unlimited money, grab a copy of the video games. They are more than worth the time and still hold up, imo. It’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to the MMO anime the TV series invented.
Now in love with the word Kite. Every video game character with naming capabilities was now running around with my controller by the name. But that didn’t really work well online with Twitter handles or other online alias names. I liked the word but the name was my own, I never took an account with a Kite avatar or even finished any .hack aside //sign. I just wanted to own that word, and so I did.
When I had found the Vaporwave scene back in 2015 and thought putting numbers at the end of it would make me stand out. Yeah, like Macross 82-99 (I didn’t even know there was a sub-genre called future funk, thinking back). So I started releasing music under the name KITE0080 but the numbers had a lot more significance than the word of a flying paper object.
(above) my first attempt at Vaporwave
Picking 0080 was as natural as falling in love the Gundam series that influenced it. Picture this, it’s 200X and you’re 9 or 10 years old. You’re sleeping over your grandparents house and they let you pass out in front of the TV with Cartoon Network softly glowing in the living room. No parents around, no one to notice the change from childish cartoons to something called Adult Swim.
You open your eyes or maybe never fell asleep in the first place but one thing is certain, tv shows you’ve never seen before are capturing your attention. What is this kind of animation? Why does it look more gritty than DBZ? What is a Gundam? You continued to watch amazed at mature script and deep military plotting. Robots, war and a child mixed between it was better than any episode of Power Puff Girls or Ed, Edd & Eddy.
That’s what happened to me. I ended up staying up forcing myself into exhaustion watching episode after episode of various anime I had never even dreamed of existing. On that night I was introduced to Big-O, Outlaw Star and Gundam 0080. Yet it was 0080 that stuck with me.
I presume I saw myself in Alfred Izuruha, the 11 year old boy in the series. Neither of the other shows had character my age but it was more than that. Big-O had robots but a Gundam was mechs in perfection. Al’s fascination with the Zaku II became my fascination. Him finding an older brother out of a rebel pilot ate into my yearning for an older brother (I was the eldest brother and oldest child out of all cousins). From that day forward, I was a die hard Zion who couldn’t wait to watch the conclusion of Al’s adventures into Federation territory.
But that day never came. Gundam 0080 was a short six episode mini-series that had back to back episodes. Really that meant it only got 3 nights of play and maybe only once every few months. With it competing against Gundam Wing and other anime, looking back I’m surprised we ever saw it on Adult Swim in the first place.
All I had was a sweet memory of a TV show I knew was called Gundam and a faint memory that numbers accompanied it. No matter how hard my pre-teen brain tried to find the show with Google-fu, I couldn’t figure out what anime I had watched. For years the memory nagged in the back of my mind; A boy and green Gundam.
Sometime in middle school I had a TV with cable added to my childhood bedroom. Adult Swim became a regular part of my nightly routine all with the hopes I’d find my answer. It introduced me to a few new Gundam series but my mind yearned for the original. I must have had enough because I finally had the bright idea to find an anime bulletin board system (BBS) in search of the answer. TheOtaku.com became my refuge and I didn’t even know what an Otaku was at that point.
I wish I could find the original question but here’s how I remember asking it:
Im looking for a Gundam show with a black boy as the main character. He had a short afro and there was a green Gundam. The boy also was given a badge from a pilot.— KITE0080 (before KITE0080)
Yeah that’s Alfred to the left. No he wasn’t black, yet in my mind I absolutely thought he was. and why couldn’t he have been? When you’re a kid, you don’t think that a Japanese production house would make the kid Japanese.
I remember someone responding with the correct answer and nicely saying, “but I don’t think there’s any Gundam’s with a black character in it.”
To say I was shocked when I saw Alfred again still confuses me to this day. but I was less concerned with my memory of him and nearly crying in joy that I had finally resolved my quest for the best Gundam series to ever exist.
Still, I kind would die on the hill as the only human on earth to think Alfred is at least mixed. I mean, look at his skin tone in comparison to his classmates or even Bernies!
// Spoiler, both of his parents are Japanese.
Alas, ever since that moment I have held onto those sacred numbers, 0080. And I have for probably 15 years. In retrospect, adding it to the end of KITE in 2015 was fantastic as I still love the name 7 years later.
I also love that I pronounce it as double-o-eighty. Back when I ran the YouTube channel Musics the Hang up, I loved introducing myself as, “What’s up my future friends, this is KITE double-o-eighty from Musics the Hang up,” I felt like a real new show as an introduction.
Now KITE0080 is the founder of a 7 issue magazine with the focus on Vaporwave and internet culture. I’m proud to see that alias grow and evolve and I get to bring the passion of my childhood along with it.
Until the next one, I’m KITE0080 of Visual Signals… cheers~