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Monday, April 5, 2010

The Last Video Rental Store

JERSEY CITY, April 5 — The last local video rental store in my neighborhood is finally closing its door after nearly twenty years. It’s the latest victim of digital media and high speed internet distribution. It’s quite sad really. I spent most of my formative years renting VHS cassettes.

As soon as my dad bought our first Panasonic VCR, I remember spending most of my childhood walking the narrow aisle of the video store looking for interesting VHS tapes. It was only a dollar to rent a single VHS for a day, and it was a bargain.

I frequently rented martial arts, horror, and crappy B-movies. It’s an informal film education that shaped my taste as moviegoer. I spent my younger days watching rented movies like Chinese Connection, Blood Sport, Dracula Versus Frankenstein, Swamp Thing, and Godzilla 1985 (ゴジラ). According to my Netflix queue, my taste in movies hasn’t really changed much… Jeez.

In the early 1990s, I rented some of the first anime titles legally released by Central Park Media, AnimEigo, U.S. Renditions and Streamline Pictures. Most of the releases were OVAs like M.D. Geist, Bubble Gum Crisis, Appleseed, and Gunbuster. I also remember the anime section being labeled "Japanimation". Along with a local tape trading circle, the video rental store became a good source for my voracious anime addiction.

As I walk past the last local video rental store, it was holding a huge "going out of business" clearance sale for all their DVDs. Regular feature film DVDs were priced at $8.29, and Anime DVDs were going for $2.88 each. I'm going to miss it.

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