First anime: Lensman
So a long time ago during my early childhood I lived in Germany and we didn’t have many cartoons to watch. Apparently my grandparents sent various taped cartoons to us since we didn’t have many options where we lived. One of the things taped was this movie called Lensman: Secret of the Lens, which is a part of my earliest memories. Later on, I had a feeling this was an anime and the tape was found and sure enough it was. I’ve learned this was one of Madhouse’s first theatrical works that they assisted with. Some great anime from their studio by the way. To name some of my favorites: Hajime No Ippo, Hunter x Hunter, Paranoia Agent, and Trigun.
Hints of anime
Watching Cartoon Network, I would see hints of anime here and there. I kind of understood that shows like Voltron and G Force weren’t your everyday cartoons, and I think I did know they were Japanese animations.
Goemon = Goku? – finding DBZ
Okay, there was this game on the N64 called The Mystical Adventures of Goemon and let me tell you that was a great game. I’ve wanted to track down a copy and play it again actually, but I just haven’t got around to it. Anyway, sometime after or during the time I was playing this game, my brother thought that is show on Cartoon Network had something to do with Goemon. In this way both Dragon Ball Z and Toonami were discovered and soon it became the daily ritual to watch Toonami after school.
The Pokemon Phenomenon
Around the same time that I was beginning to watch Toonami, there was my introduction to Pokemon. I remember hearing and seeing the Pokemon anime before actually hearing about the game. A friend in my class did know about the game however and the interest in Pokemon quickly grew. Not having any Gameboy for quite a while, I ended up getting into watching Pokemon as much as I could. Originally I remember Pokemon airing on Fox in the morning. Later, it switched over to the WB channel and came on Saturday mornings. Eventually, around the time Pokemon Yellow came out, I got a Gameboy Color and a Pokemon game. Thus began my meeting with one of my favorite game series of all time. I’m currently eagerly awaiting the next Pokemon generation. I haven’t really watched the anime at all for a long time. I would like to to watch all the episodes in the original Japanese, subbed
Toonami ushers in the first age:
By watching Toonami I was introduced into the world of anime, granted it was a small sampling, but this was where it all began for me. Up until this point anime was a vague idea I was barely aware of. Now it was my world. Toonami had quite a variety at various points during its airing. Some anime I paid more attention to then others, my favorites being: Dragon Ball Z, Outlaw Star, Tenchi Universe, Yu Yu Hakusho, G Gundam and Rurouni Kenshin.
As my interests in anime grew, I yearned for more. I started searching for any interesting anime available to me. Availability of anime was quite a problem back then. There weren’t episodes of everything being streamed somewhere and there wasn’t Netflix either. We rented out the entire series of Hellsing from Blockbuster and also the first few episodes of Berserk. Although my love of anime was growing, I still had narrow views of what I enjoyed, which meant mostly anime with plenty of action and violence.
Another great discovery was my first subbed anime, Slayers, which was airing on the International Channel. Somehow my brother and I had come upon Dragon Ball Z airing in its original Japanese unsubbed on the International Channel and would occasionally watch little bits of it. One day we noticed that another anime had begun airing afterwords called Slayers. We ended up watching nearly the entire series an episode a week.
Enter Adult Swim, the second age:
I would say that anime was beginning to reach new heights in popularity and Adult Swim began another transition in my appreciation of what anime had to offer. Around the airing of the second season of Slayers on the international channel, Cowboy Bebop began airing with the launch of Adult Swim. This was absolutely one of the more influential anime I had watched. My perception of what anime could offer was definitely changing. I’ve probably watched each episode more than a dozen times. It had great music, and the animation style of impressively different then what I was getting used to in anime. The episodic story telling was also a refresher to how anime could be approached. If Dragon Ball Z marked the beginning of my anime journey, then Cowboy Bebop marked a new understanding of what anime was becoming for me.
Adult Swim brought me Inuyasha, FLCL, Trigun in succession. Due to the large number of episodes Inuyasha carried, as well as the starts and stops caused by Adult Swim waiting on more dubbed episodes, I was never able to complete Inuyasha. One day I’m going to have to get to watching that. FLCL was just crazy strange and oddly good. Ah Trigun, one of my favorites. I had watched some episodes subbed before watching and completing the series on adult swim. I was impressed by the voice actor who dubbed for Vash, because to me it sounded very much like what I would expect an English Vash should sound like after watching the original Japanese. Later I would learn that this voice actor was a person from my childhood past, none other than Johnny Yong Bosch, former black power ranger. So weird that I have become of fan of this guy again, though admittedly he wasn’t my favorite power ranger. Johnny is one of my favorite American voice actors, right up there with Crispin Freeman, Wendee Lee, and Steve Blum.
Through the years adult swim would continue to introduce me to more anime: Lupin the Third, Ghost in the Shell SAC, Detective Conan (Case Closed), Paranoia Agent, Eureka Seven, Death Note, Code Geass, and Durarara!!. Towards the end there, probably around 2003-2004, I was starting to watch many more subbed series: parts of Love Hina, Ranma 1/2, a few others I can’t remember. I was becoming much more aware of the larger variety of anime out there, and I was enjoying all of them.
One of the most influential shift in what I thought anime capable of on the darker side was watching the rest of Berserk. If only it hadn’t ended the way it did. There should be a remake of the series more attuned to the manga. I don’t need movies of the material I’ve already seen animated before.
The Third Age
With the increasing availability of anime on the rise, my friends got me to watch an anime that had recently started. Well, it didn’t hurt that I had met this anime not too long ago myself at my first con experience at Anime Weekend Atlanta. The story is, I happened upon a very interesting looking anime called Naruto. It was the first episode it left quite an impression. Anyway, my first con experience was not for the entire duration of the con due to circumstances beyond my control. Though I found myself in the video game room to all hours of the night, since at the time I don’t think the video game room ever closed. There I found Naruto Gekitou Ninja Taisen, which I played as much as I could. It was an addicting game for whatever reason. I was completely unfamiliar with any of the characters or the anime though.
Naruto is probably the first anime I ever followed as it came out and many others would follow. I’ve probably started heading toward something of a fourth age of anime for myself as I have continued to increase the number anime I follow and have interests in.