About an anime fan

I’ve been an anime fan for no more than 5 years and already I’m starting to feel like I’ve been around forever, yet the truth is that my mere half-decade of devotion barely even scratches the surface, after all, some hardy souls have been following this foreign Japanese stuff for more than 30 years; a concept so baffling I can’t even begin to imagine how they managed it.

I’m fascinated by the biographies and anecdotes of anime fans. Young or old, everyone has a story that recalls their moment of excited discovery and the subsequent realization of what anime has to offer. It’s comforting, almost reassuring to read fellow fans trying to convey those memories in the context of their lives, each person coming from different, interesting circumstances. My own story is something of a modern cliche, but that’s really the point of this article, the chronology of an anime fan.

I suspect we can look at the recent history of anime fandom as containing three distinct and converging ages of “gateway” anime. They are Video Nasties (1990 – 1997), Childrens TV (1995 – 2002) and the Digital Revolution (2002 – present day). All three have impacted on my life.

During the mid-nineties, I was a bored teenager looking for some edgy entertainment, so it’s rather predictable that my first glimpses of anime would be snared during the Video Nasties era, courtesy of bloody, gore-filled flicks like Ninja Scroll and Fist of the North Star. I remember how I would often figure out what to buy next based on which badly-dubbed trailer had condensed the most violence and profanity into its 2 minute preview. I spent a lot of money on bad anime, even going so far as to mail order chunky VHS releases of such politically-(in)correct “manga” as Angel Cop, but it remained a rather superficial phase and died out after a year or two.

Some time later and the Childrens TV era inspired my then lazy-university-student self to rise at 6AM for day long marathons of Dragonball Z. This was just another phase that had nothing to do with ‘anime’, instead I was hopelessly carried away by Goku and his (literally) death-defying adventures. Amusingly, I still own the home recorded VHS tapes (with their carefully organized labels) of some 250+ episodes of Dragonball Z, but for all that effort, I doubt I’ll ever play them again. I still keep them around, anyway.

Everything changed when the Naruto anime premiered in Japan during 2002 and, on a reluctant whim, I started watching its fansubs during 2003. This was around the beginning of the Digital Revolution as fansubs proliferated via Bit Torrent. It was the first time I’d willingly sat through any media in a foreign language, yet, as if over-night, I’d suddenly developed this interest in Japanese culture and completely reevaluated my opinion of foreign cinema. In fact, I’d been so impressed by those opening 50 episodes of Naruto that I started looking into other anime, and the discovery of other series, many of them classics, were soon to follow, from Cowboy Bebop to Berserk. Everything, all of this, was sparked from that point, a reluctant whim.

Aside from the cliche jibes about ‘bad English dubs’, I think it’s important to note the pivotal role played by watching Naruto in a foreign language. Watching anime in Japanese presented the unavoidable truth that I was seeing a unique product of an exciting foreign culture. The very moment I started following Naruto was also the moment I realized I had been missing out on something so infinitely special. That was that, and I’d become an anime fan.

My little story ends there, but alluding to everything I’ve said above, this is the part where I ask you the same questions.

How did you become an anime fan?

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

38 thoughts on “About an anime fan”

  1. My anime fandom started with Serial Experiments Lain on Tech TV’s late-night “Anime Unleashed” block. I had seen comercials for Lain, but it was pure coincedence that I was bored enough not to instantly flip channels when it came on. I was blown away by the opening to it and sat through the first few episodes. After that, I made a habit of staying up until 3-4 AM even if it was just to see reruns of it.

    It’s true that I had seen other anime much earlier then that (such as DBZ, Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, etc.), but I had no idea what “anime” was until after doing more research on Lain.

    I later discovered Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and my interest grew. I had downloaded episodes of Lain subbed before then, but it wasn’t until after seeing the first few episodes of Full Metal Alchemist (and being too impatient to wait every week) that I got into fansubs. Getting into fansubs was the spark that quickly turned me from curious fan to hardcore otaku.

  2. Everyone has their starting anime. That little (or large) show that would later be the one thing that made the clock tick. To you it seems like it was Naruto, to me though it was Ranma. My little cousin (who despises anime because of my apparent adoration to the medium) brought me this little tape named Ranma. I was disinterested as he kept on begging me to give it a try as he claimed that it was right up my alley (how he knew that was beyond me, I call it fate:P). Finally I decided to drop my guard, agreeing to watch it. The moment the Japanese OP started I was a little apprehensive (I was close-minded and very wary once upon a time, not so much right now, thanks to anime) the squeaky voices didn’t help much. The second I witnessed Ranma and Akane’s antics and their growing (faltering take your pick) relationship, I was sold. The characterization although exagerrated was solid, and for the first time a “cartoon” with actual substance and depth (at the time) versus the derivative shows cartoon network had. The art was unique with the whole big eyes thing which has an odd fascination to it! Once I got into the actual story with the whole splashing water thing I thought to myself “Thats such an interesting and outrageous premise, that it actually works!”. And then it started in the year of 2000 I was introduced to other shows, staples of my anime viewing as I like to call them. Fushigi Yuugi and Ayashi no Ceres (both I still love, immensly). My foray into the fansubbing world was in 2002 as my new shows started to air (with Anime Junkies leading the fansubbing community, hee) featuring FMP, Onegai Teacher and Fruits Basket. Thats when I got accustomed to the superior quality of fansubs and their fast release schedule (Oh the irnoy). 2002-present day makes me an anime fan for more than 8 years including the Vhs days. Eight years counting and I’ve yet to feel the urge to stop this expansive hobby, really sky’s the limit for this medium.

  3. my first true anime was slam dunk it was airing on tv and i was hooked to it
    after it finished i said to myself that was an amazing cartoon too bad i wont be able to find something similar
    then hunter x hunter started to air i was more then hooked it was like air for me until there was an episode animated by norio matsumoto after seeing it i realized the Potential of animation
    i was Originally hooked by the Visual of anime and character designation i sensed that there are a lot of animation out there i am missing
    so i found about naruto through internet start to watch amv for it and saw sauske vs oro (i didnt know it was also norio at that time) and it was over i became crazy about anime
    and then i start to watch alot of anime to find out that anime isnt only visuals but that the best stories advensures and characters i will see were also anime(slamdunk-hxh-naruto-flcl-evangelion-berserk the first anime i watched were those)

    i think most anime fan from where am i originally liked anime for visuals because here they change the story and voice acting is shit also a reason the only one who knows anime is myself thanks god
    so ofcourse i rewatched hunterxhunter in japanese so my love for it increased may be over 100 times than what it was

  4. I’d disgree with your ages a little, I’d class them as follows (again, this is very UK specific as Starblazers and Robotech made little impact here in the 70s/80s).

    Pre-1990 “International Co-productions & pretend-it’s-not-Japanese” era:
    A lot of people’s first anime aren’t shows that were marketed to them as Japanese cartoons. For me, Battle of the Planets would be the first anime I was a huge fan of, but I wouldn’t learn it was Japanese until reading a Fangoria article in 90-91.

    1991-1997 “Akira” era:
    When OAVs ruled the earth. Pretty much everything released during this time is because Island released Akira in the UK. Most titles are either trying to catch those people who watched Akira, or as an alternative to the titles that followed in Akira’s wake. An argument can be made for Legend of the Overfiend actually being the key title in the development in the UK market in this era, but I doubt that would have been licenced without Akira’s success.

    1998-2001 “Pokemon/SMTV” era:
    And then anime fandom was made to feel really old, really quickly.

    While anime had begun to be shown here and there on UK TV, this is the watershed moment that changed the UK anime market forever. The combination of an anime based on popular game, broadcast on an insanely popular Saturday morning kids TV show, brought a new, young, audience to anime that outweighed the old, Manga Video nurtured, one. Oh, and those sketches where Ant & Dec were dressed as Gary and Misty can probably be blamed for the upsurge in UK cosplayers too…

    2002+ “Digital Revolution”:
    I pretty much agree with you on this one. However I’ll add that we start to see less anime on terrestrial TV in this time and more US & European cartoons that superficially borrow anime tropes appearing in their place.

    There’s various other elements that probably should be included to make up a better picture: the “grey import” videogame scene of the early nineties, the Power Rangers, Final Fantasy 7, the manga boom and so on.

    But I do think the three key elements are Akira, Pokemon & Naruto, all representing turning points in some way.

    And the show that made me an anime fan was Urusei Yatsura. Specifically the episode where a pigeon is turned into a giant penguin. I’m a sucker for any cartoon that has a perverse sense of logical escalation.

  5. Like you it was fansubs that got me into it. I’d also watched dubbed VHS’s of some shows before, but they didn’t really kick off my interest.

    Hellsing was the first anime that I really loved, perhaps not that great a show – but it was unlike anything I’d seen before. Since then I think it’s just been a case of acknowledging my interest to a greater degree and discovering new shows.

  6. Dragonball was the first manga I ever read

    Gungrave was the first anime I’ve ever seen….what a start that was.

  7. @Shavelle: Anime being on TV was obviously fairly important for your growth as a fan, so it’s sad to think that Cartoon Network have been pulling away from anime in recent years. Also, interesting that you were ‘seduced’ into ‘otakuism’ by fansubs, just like me! The industry fights so hard against fansubs, but for so many of us, it’s fansubs that are the reason for our fandom in the first place. I, for one, wouldn’t be into anime without them.

    @Ivy: So you joined the online community around a year before me. I totally wish I was into anime around the 2000-02 era because the whole fansubbing scene would have been really interesting, as Bit Torrent starts being used and then anime blogs start popping up. I missed out on the famous Anime Junkies controversy by a few months! It’s really tough to think that just 10 years ago, this community didn’t exist and the word ‘blog’ wasn’t even being used. Things have progressed so rapidly over the last decade.

    @jpmeyer: I was a big enough sucker back then to be ordering Angel Cop as one episode per tape, apparently I enjoyed it that much! Today, I just want to see an uncensored subtitled version to check out the crazy anti-semitism that’s said to be running through-out the show! More to the point, is the famous Ichirō Itano a massive bigot?

    @qwertypoiuy: If you don’t mind me asking, what country are you from? That you had Slam Dunk and Hunter x Hunter airing on TV in your country is quite impressive. In the UK, it’s mostly just Ghibli stuff these days. Also, it’s nice to think that the animation of Norio Matsumoto inspired you to look more into anime, even though you didn’t even know he created those scenes, there’s nothing quite like his animation to really get the heart pumping.

    @Brack: I see a lot of sense in your suggested eras. For the record, I had mine organised as follows: Video Nasties (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll), Childrens TV (Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z) and the Digital Revolution (Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist). I definitely agree with your “Akira” era, but ended up called it “Video Nasties” because rather than encourage a diverse new industry, Akira seemed to inspire a slew of bad releases that emphasized sensational violence. Violence Jack has to be the worst offender, another Ichiro Itano gem. I think we both might have missed a trick with regards to DVD releases too, the sheer amount of which must have had an impact? Also, this Ant & Dec dressed as Gary and Misty skit sounds like it’s from an alternate universe!

    And a pigeon transformed into a giant penguin? Sounds wonderfully cute. By the way, is the UY movie Beautiful Dreamer as good as it sounds?

    @Wildcard: Hellsing seemed really huge around 2003-2005 and probably attracted a big new audience to anime. Vampires are popular and I suspect a lot of peole probably picked it up on the stylish promo-art alone. Alucard has such an iconic character design.

    @TheBastid: Gungrave was one of the first anime series, after Naruto, that I followed online as it was airing in Japan. It’s such a great series. I rewatched it last year and it’s lost none of its power or impact. Indeed, I wish there was more anime like it being made today.

  8. I was still a child when I had my first encounter with anime, it was during the Pokémon craze. So like all kid of that generation I watched the show religiously on TV, collected the cards, pressured my parents to buy me the movies on DVD, etc. Along with Pokémon also came a lot of other anime I enjoyed (and still enjoy as a matter of fact) such as; Digimon, Monster Rancher, Medabots, Dragon Ball Z, Space Pirate Captain Harlock (I watched that one on VHS though) and Cardcaptor Sakura (the uncut French version), I was completely immersed in the world of anime.

    But, when those shows were replaced by the likes of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Beyblade, my interest dropped almost completely and did not come back before I stumbled across Inuyasha and Mobile Suit Gundam Seed on YTV. Well, that and my discovery of a bunch of cheap French-dubbed only DVD of The Vision of Escaflowne and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing at my local supermarket. From then my addiction to fansub followed, until I stopped anime in the favor of manga.

    More or less recently manga got me back into it and pretty much broaden my interests in everything (manga that is).

  9. @bateszi
    i am from egypt
    the channel that i watch airs for the middle east mostly for arabic countries
    but those were the only good anime they get other are kids stuff
    but as i said they change the story and voice acting is really bad the only thing they couldnt touch were the visuals it self thanks god

    but now they started to air good anime i hope that will attract more people
    it feels lonely here

  10. I think my adventure with anime started around 1999 when Dragonball, Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT were being aired on one of the less popular polish TV channels. In the year 2000 I started high school and one of the girls in my class turned out to be an anime fan. The wrong type of an anime fan (*cough* yaoi *cough*), but she was still the person to show me a couple of episodes of Trigun. Needless to say I was utterly captivated and wanted to see the rest of the show even if it killed me. By some sheer luck I found a guy selling fansubbed anime on the internet (56k modem – GOD, I hated that thing) and bought Trigun without hesitation. Watched the whole thing in one seating. Trigun remains one of my all time favourites to this day.
    Anyway, after seeing the adventures of the Humanoid Typhoon I wanted to see more anime, so I turned to the only source I had – the yaoi loving friend. Some series she had lend me could’ve easily scared me away from japanese cartoons, but timeless classics like Berserk, Escaflowne, Ghost In The Shell or Grave of the Fireflies quickly made me forget the bad stuff. By that point nothing could’ve stopped me from watching anime – even the terrible quality of the copies. Some of them were so bad, that I had to sit like 40cm from the TV to read the subs. Mighty inconvenient if you’re watching Evangelion and trying to read through Shinji’s self wallowing ;)
    Around 2002/2003 I finally got a solid internet connection. The world of anime lay open before me. Since English has never been a problem for me, I could only sit back and enjoy the fansubbed shows, which I’m doing to this day.
    One more thing – about the time I started my adventure with anime, the polish market for that stuff was nonexistant. I was really glad to see it grow throughout the years – now you can buy some good/popular mangas and anime on DVDs (to my surprise one of the series available in Poland is… Paranoia Agent). Still, the choices are very limited in comparison to the US or Germany.

  11. Everytime I visit this blog you already have so many replies :)

    Anyways I’ve been an anime fan for a little over 7 years now I would say. My friend introduced me to Dragonball Z and Inuyasha and I became hooked on their continuous storyline (also anything is better than reality TV). Being more Internet savvy than my friend I went online and found more information about these series and eventually came to learn about other anime series and fansubs. I guess it is sort of a boring story. But I am sad to say while I still an anime fan my friend who got me into it in the first place sort of drifted away.

    I will say for me my big change is while I got into anime from long shounen series like DBZ and Inuyasha (Rurouni Kenshin & Yu Yu Hakusho followed soon after). I now tend to avoid long running series because I prefer series that have a clear cut beginning, middle and end. Of course I say this and I am still in love with One Piece and Fullmetal Alchemist.

  12. Hmm, well I’ve sort of always watched anime from as far back as I can remember. I didn’t know what anime was, but I could tell there was something stylistically similar about the shows. It wasn’t until about 2000 when I walked into a Suncoast, wondered what the “annie-mee” section was, and proceeded to pick up a Central Park Media catalog that I really became interested. Not only did it have wonderful descriptions of dozens of shows, but it also had these short comics throughout it (drawn anime style of course) explaining what anime entailed. Oh how I wish I still had that catalog!

    Shortly afterward some junior high buddies of mine started talking about shows like Lain, FLCL, Excel Saga, Love Hina, whatever was being released at the time. Couple that with whatever was on TV, the manga explosion in bookstores, and various RPGs and Japanese videogames, and I became a fan.

    Then, in about 2004 or so, my sister’s (ex)boyfriend burnt me some episodes of FMA and Champloo, thus getting me into fansubs. It was the first time I had watched anime in Japanese with subtitles (practically the only way I watch them now), as well as the first time I really realized that this anime stuff could be engaging, mature, deep, etc. Shortly afterwards, I found various anime sites online and proceeded to keep up with anime and it’s culture as it was coming out in japan, rather than reading about what was just released here in U.S. magazines.

    As for Beautiful Dreamer: definitely watch it! It’s easily one of my all time favorite anime movies, and probably the one I’ve seen the most times. It was my introduction into UY, and although there’s a few jokes you might not understand if you haven’t seen the show, as long as you know the premise (aliens come to destroy earth, unlucky boy is chosen, saves the day, but ends up engaged to an alien princess) you’ll be able to enjoy it. It also has some of the best characters I’ve ever watched in anime (although this is probably more evident in the show, which I need to watch one of these days).

  13. I recently wrote about my personal history as an anime/manga fan on MAL, so I’ll just repost it here if you wouldn’t mind.

    Early childhood: I first started watching anime around the age of 3, with one of the most beloved shoujo series in China, Hana no Ko LunLun (“Child of the Flowers, Lunlun”.) According to my mum we used to watch this show together. This is one series that I rewatched several times during my childhood. Tetsuwan Atom (the black-and-white version) was another popular series that I enjoyed watching. A bunch of Ghibli movies then followed, with Laputa and Kiki’s Delivery Service being my favourites. I started reading the Doraemon manga when I was 5 and it’s still one of my favourites. I’m so glad that it’s finally been translated to English, although I think some of the gadget names and jokes might not transfer as well as it did to Chinese.

    Primary/Elementary school years: I watched several World Masterpiece Theatre shows around this time, but shounen series like Saint Seiya and Hokuto no Ken were what really stood out for me. Sailormoon and Ranma 1/2 were the two main staple manga series that I followed for several years. I also read plenty of other titles by Tezuka Osamu and Fujiko F Fujio including Jungle Taitei, Ribon no Kishi, Kaibutsu-kun and Mitsume ga Tooru. I first encountered Captain Harlock, 3×3 Eyes and Kimagure Orange Road while laid up in hospital due to pneumonia. ;_;

    Secondary school/Junior High years: My old VHS tapes of Lunlun and Sailormoon started to become worn out due to repeated use. Evangelion, Akira and the Patlabor movies left a great impression on me. The UK severely lacked good and affordable anime and manga during this period so I mostly re-read old manga or borrowed new ones from a Chinese library. I read several sports manga including Slam Dunk and Adachi Mitsuru’s wonderful romances H2 and Touch. A friend from Hong Kong introduced me to Marmalade Boy, Fushigi Yuugi, Gundam Wing and Weiss Kreuz. I discovered RG Veda and Tokyo Babylon and became a fan of CLAMP.

    I haven’t gotten around to writing about my highschool and university years yet but I do plan to once I gather my thoughts. I guess my anime history is quite different from everyone else here, but it was very interesting to consider British anime fandom history in several different eras. I recall that during the “Video Nasties/Akira era” Channel 4 had a “Manga” season in which they showed several in anime movies in late-night slots, including the Patlabor series, Rounin Z and of course Akira. I used to occasionally watch the Saturday morning showing of Pokemon while I did my homework so yes, I’ve managed to catch some of those Ant & Dec sketches too…

  14. Like lotsa people, I was really into Dragon Ball. I didn’t know what anime was then. I saw my first fansub during intermediate at the end of the millennium (late 1999). It was Ranma 1/2. I really liked it because I had the fighting game on SNES but didn’t know what fansubs were or how to get them. When I built my first PC, that’s when I started downloading anime. This was at the beginning of high school and my friends just started getting into anime. They were more tech-savvy so they showed me how to download anime from sites, P2P and IRC.

    I remember downloading Love Hina way back when. That and of course Ranma 1/2. It took forever to get them. Sometimes I would end up with porn, sometimes I couldn’t play them because they were encoded differently. I didn’t know anything but DivX and if it couldn’t play it, oh well.

    I used to download Naruto on P2P but that took forever. My friend introduced me to BitTorrent (around 2002) and my hard drive was almost always full after that. Thank god to the internet, I got a chance to watch all the anime I want.

  15. howdy ho
    I’m from France, began watching anime on tv when I was 5 to 10, between 1980 and 1985, quite randomly because my parents didn’ want any tv set at home.
    nevertheless I could watch, sometimes, episodes of Grendizer (Goldorak), Captain Harlock (Albator), Space Adventure Cobra, Candy
    Around 1986 or 87, tv found a place in our home, watched Robotech, Dragon Ball (not yet Z), a few magical girls stuff, meh, not interested
    japanese animation had become something I was quite into, BUT it was very very limited to the boundaries of dubbed censored tv broadcast
    afterwards came the Z in DRAGON BALL, HOKUTO NO KEN (Ken le Survivant) AND SAINT SEIYA (les Chevaliers du Zodiaque) in the late 80’s,
    and then THE shock, AKIRA was released in a few theaters in Paris.
    lucky me, I went twice

    then the British Manga Video VHS, and other stuff too, which I had no idea existed, DOMINION TANK POLICE, PROJECT AKO, VENUS WARS and the censored “movie” version of UROTSUKIDOJI

    in 1990 I had turned into your average European otaku, that was nice, spent all my time and money on anime/manga stuff
    a few years later, the market for anime expended drastically, and I completely lost sight of anything anime or manga for almost 10 years (except for a few movies, Miyazaki stuff, Mamoru Oshii movies, Takahata, too, well, the few movies that made it, in France, to the big screen).

    in early 2005, got my first computer, my first broadband access, and I completely discovered fansubbing, I guess the first thing I downloaded was GUN X SWORD and ICHIGO MASHIMARO and MUSHISHI.
    oh boy, let me tell you that right now, a bit more than 3 years after, I’ve completely reverted to my otaku form, except that I’m not a teeager anymore and my tastes have completly changed

    it’s sooo much easier now, as compared to 1985-1995, to right click and bam! a few hours later youve got a complete 26 episode series of almost any anime broadcasted in Japan in the last six months or so, whatever

    nice, eheh

    Thanks for you blog, Bateszi, I enjoy reading it a lot. You are a part of my otaku side, so thank you for sharing YOUR side of otakuism
    you take care, bye!

  16. Pokemon was my introduction to anime, if you don’t count watching Superbook and The Flying House in Sunday School as a toddler. From there, I got on the internet and saw that there were a whole lot of other cool animated shows from Japan. I watched a bit of Ranma and some Ghibli movies, but the thing that turned me into a complete otaku was the discovery of shoujo anime thanks to Sailor Moon fansubs. I’d never seen the dub since I didn’t have Cartoon Network (still haven’t seen R dubbed), so I got to experience the real version without knowing the story beforehand. It was also my first subtitled anime, and that’s been my preference ever since (although dubs have gotten better.)

  17. @ThatQuebecGuy: I’m also finding myself pulled towards manga more and more these days, something about being able to read a story at my own pace seems quite comforting. I recently read “MW” by Osamu Tezuka and gradually working my way through “Dragon Head” too (from manga-ka of Zashiki Onna). Also, I find it interesting that you’re one of the Pokémon generation, considering everything that’s happened over the last 20 years, I think Pokémon might be the most important anime ever made, simply by virtue of its influence on the countless millions of kids around the world.

    @qwertypoiuy: Egypt? Such a fascinating country and seems like there are many anime series either set in or based on Egyptian culture too, with Yu-Gi-Oh! being the first that comes to mind. To be honest, anime isn’t exactly huge in the UK either and nothing we do to raise its profile seems to change that, so I think we might have to accept that anime will always be an underground interest in our respective countries. No worries, after all, talking about anime is what the internet is for :)

    @Johny: I’m laughing at the idea of you discovering someone in your class is an anime fan, only to realise she is big into the yaoi genre (I loved the comment about the “wrong type of an anime fan”!). Now I can’t help but wonder which series she lent you that “could’ve easily scared me away from japanese cartoons”? Gravitation has to be one, right? :) Great story, anyway.

    Also, great to know that the anime scene in Poland is getting better too. I was recently speaking to a girl in Romania (Hi THM, if you’re reading this!) and their local anime fandom is growing too. I love hearing from fans the world over because the reach and influence of anime never ceases to amaze me, from Poland to Egypt, our paths converge because we all adore anime.

    @Kim: Much like you, I got into anime via a good friend that has now faded away from my life. No idea if he’s still a fan or not. Something about that seems quite sad, but it’s just the way life goes, I guess. After a while, I got used to seeing people come and go from anime fandom, and it probably effects me because I can’t ever see myself doing the same. I’m sure I’ll always be an anime fan. Anyway, nice to hear from you, Kim. I checked out your Avatar AMV on YouTube! I liked the parts that I could understand (I’m still in the first season, so was tactically skipping certain parts of your video to avoid spoilers).

  18. @Protodude: Thanks for the recommendation of Beautiful Dreamer. I’ve always been interested in it because of Mamoru Oshii’s involvement. I haven’t seen the UY series, but have seen a lot of the OVAs. Will be getting myself a copy of the movie as soon as possible.

    Anyway, I think a lot of us came into anime around the 2003/04 era. Not sure why that is, may be it’s just that a lot of the anime airing back then was really fantastic? I mean, you’ve just mentioned FMA and Samurai Champloo, but there was stuff like Gankutsuou, Gungrave and Monster too.

    @Meiling: Wow, you’re very clearly a “thoroughbred” anime fan, in that you’ve obviously been enjoying anime and manga all your life and watching everything, from the industry to fandom, change over the years. Indeed, there is so much in your comment from the 80s and early 90s that I really want to see myself, like Touch, I really want to see Touch since it sounds so good, everyone says that.

    Please do write about your college/university years too, because I’d be interested in reading how you transition from that old style of viewing anime to seeing things like fansubs. It must have been amazing for you, after being around anime for so long, to suddenly have access to so much online!

    @ome: I’ve often read that Love Hina was really popular when it first appeared online. Was that the case? If I remember correctly, it was one of the first anime series to really take off online via fansubs and attracted lots of new people to the community. I don’t know why I find that interesting, but I do! :)

    Also, I haven’t seen Ranma 1/2 but that’s another title which has popped up a few times in these comments already. I’ll have watch a Rumiko Takahashi anime series sooner or later, but maybe something like InuYasha would be a better start.

    @TooMuchCoofinMan: You actually saw Akira at a theater! That’s awesome! Back then, I bet people were absolutely awe-struck by what they’d just seen and walked out into the street feeling so excited. I’ll bet you really fell in love with anime after that, and I just really wish I could have been there too! Akira and Nausicaa are the two anime films I’d really love to see at a cinema one day.

    Also, thanks for your nice compliments on my blog. It’s great to know I have a fellow reader in France too!

    @Ojamajo_LimePie: Interesting to read of another anime fan that was brought in to the community via Pokemon, I guess I never realised it had such an impact until I started talking to anime fans. Also, nice to read that you were hooked into Sailor Moon via fansubs, if I can remember correctly, the dubbed versions were quite badly edited, so you picked the right show to watch in Japanese! I haven’t seen much of Sailor Moon, but Fruits Basket is probably my favourite shojo anime, it’s just so heart-warming and funny! :)

  19. how odd Batezsi, our paths match, well at major junctions at least. I grew up under harcore comunism for a while ( for 5 years, till 1989 ), and we had like just one television channel that aired cartoons for half an hour at 7pm, mostly Tom and Jerry, but also..Windaria! , choped into pieces to match the schedule (also censored for the most part). It was a definitive aestetic shock. After the revolution nothing really changed, but we started getting foreign channels so we watched anime over the italian posts – Anna dai capelli rossi, Holly and Benji, Dragonball z, Sailor Moon – me and my friends learned italian this way, we are quite fluent now :)). God…lookign back now I dont even think I realised they came from japan, but I liked them so much I even watched silly shows at the turkish channel so it was pretty clear I was inlove with the colors and personalised outfits rather than the narrative.
    Quite later on we god Ninja Scroll on this rather obscure romanian channel, and after many years…internet! and the Naruto revelation (in original japanese of course) It all been “downhill” from there, this gender is inextricably integrated into my life now and quite joyfully so.
    I really liked the post and following the adjacent comments :) .. All the best from me.

  20. @bateszi: Yes, Gravitation was one of them, but it wasn’t the worst. You wouldn’t beleive the things she had on her hard drive. The girl was REALLY into yaoi and enjoyed messing with people’s heads, so she even showed me yaoi hentai – I think it was the infamous Boku no Sexual Harassment – just to see my reaction. I wasn’t amused. She ended up laughing on the floor ;) Still, I shouldn’t complain. At least I had access to decent anime, which wasn’t easy at the time.
    Oh, when is the final review of Kaiba coming? I’ve been waiting for it ever since I’ve finished watching the show…

  21. My first anime experience was Robotech in the 80’s. I loved it. I got to see the original Akira film release in 1989 and was floored. I’d never seen anything like it. Ghost in the Shell and Princess Mononoke were also pretty pivotal for me. I didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy much anime in the 90’sm though (too much school and work). 2002 marks my full immersion into the genre. With both time and access (via fan-subs), I got hooked on Naruto, Inuyasha, & One Piece, but my favorites were gems like Paranoia Agent, Kaiba, & Mushishi. I tend to watch Japanese animation because the industry is so mature and productive. I really consider myself more of an animation fan and really enjoy some of the work that comes out of Europe. For example, the Triplets of Bellville and Persepolis were both great feature length animations. Tim Burton’s animations and Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit are other examples of beautiful animated works (I probably don’t even need to mention Pixar’s wonderful contributions). But back to anime… besides the fact that there’s a lot of it out there and I like animation, I watch it because some of it is worth watching and should be watched.

  22. @THM: Yours a particularly unique story, so thanks for dropping by and leaving this comment, I thought you might be out there! :) It’s amazing to me that not even harcore communism could stop anime from infiltrating your culture! Also, just thinking about your comment on how we often start watching anime without knowing that it is Japanese, perhaps this does have something to do with the colours and the general aesthetic that anime employs? Like you, I was always attracted to anime, even before I knew what “anime” was, so it definitely seems like we’re all attracted to it for very visual reasons.

    @Johny: I still haven’t finished Kaiba, so a review of it will have to wait. With this series in particular, I’m kind of in a position of expecting it to be so good that I’m almost finding myself reluctant to watch it, afraid that it might fail to reach those standards. Anyway, I’ve made a resolution to finish it by Saturday, so with a bit of luck, a review should be forthcoming over the weekend/early next week. And once Kaiba is sorted, I’ll be able to turn to Genius Party too.

    @okiu14: I take it you saw Akira at a theater? I’m so jealous! :| Also, it’s great to read that you’re into the more general animation scene, because I think that the broader your taste in film is, the easier it becomes to spot quality. That’s kind of how I like to look at anime too; from the broader perspective of a film fan (albeit with a leaning towards shonen anime). I’ve got a copy of Persepolis sitting at home too; can’t wait to see it and I might even post a review of it on here too!

  23. The Academy Awards started releasing some of the animated shorts that are nominated each year on DVD (they started 3 or so years ago). This last year’s nominations of Peter and the Wolf as well as Madame Tutli Putli are very good representations of cutting edge stop-motion animation (Madame Tutli Putli is haunting). And, yes, I got to see Akira on the big screen in 1989. I got to see it again on the big screen in 2000 when it was re-released with it’s new dub. Those were amazing theater experiences. The Animation Show, Spike & Mike’s Sick and Twisted, and film festivals are also good opportunities to see animation on the big screen. I got to see Bill Plympton’s Angels and Idiots recently. He even made an appearance at the end of the showing. I highly recommend his work. Angels and Idiots was great! And it was all hand drawn! By him!

  24. @bateszi: You’d be surprised what things got through the iron curtain before it fell. I was still too young to remember (I was born 1985, communism was abolished in Poland 1989), but Adventures of Maya the Honeybee and Princess Sara were both aired on polish TV at the time. A bit later, around 1993 I think, you could also watch Tiger Mask, Yattaman and Yattodetaman (old shows from the 70’s and 80′) on TV. Of course I wasn’t even aware they were anime at the time. Or japanese for that matter. I actually thought they were italian cartoons – because of the dubs. None of the shows managed to catch my attention anyway, ’cause I was too busy watching good ol’ cartoon network with all their quirky cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory or Cow and Chicken. And it was Dragonball Z on Cartoon Network that got me into anime. I started watching DBZ on one of the polish channels a bit later when I realised CN doesn’t have all the episodes dubbed while the polish channel does.
    The first time I heard the word “anime” was around 1996 thanks to Sailor Moon on TV. I hated everything about it. ;)

  25. I thought I commented on this post earlier but it looks like the Internet INKlings ate it or something. I can probably trace my fandom as far as an Evangelion all-night viewing marathon at my friends’ place while at uni which was about five or six years ago now. Thanks to them I discovered the likes of FLCL, BGCT 2040 and Perfect Blue – quite an intense introduction to the medium, looking back.

    Strictly speaking the first anime I EVER saw was the showing of Laputa on ITV near the end of the 80s – I’ve seen other people on blogs and forums remembering that showing too, funnily enough. That one time was burned onto my memory ever since, and woke me up to the idea that movies didn’t have to be made by a well-known UK or American studio. The imagination, the flying machines, the adventure, the whole exotic vibe stuck with me – you can imagine how happy I was when I found the DVD years later! Even now I still love re-watching it and revelling in the childlike nostalgia.

  26. you ask quite the question :)

    I’m definitely a victim of the Children’s cartoon age of things. I remember dressing up as Sailor Jupiter in the 1st grade for Halloween, accompanying my religious watching of the show. My first anime was Samurai Pizza Cats at 7:30am, and watching clips of it on Youtube is always a nostalgic experience for me.

    I was always the type of child that people considered “bright”, especially in my not-so-well-off school. I read vicariously at a young age. After the Sailor Moon crazed died down in about the 2nd grade for me, I continued watching it long after it was considered “cool” – i enjoyed the fact that there was continuity in the plot (this will be an important thing to note) and really, Sailor Moon started me off on my long obsession with fantasy. As the craze died down, and as I succumed to peer pressure by denying that I watched Sailor Moon, i’d secretly sneek in an episode or two, inbetween reading an increasing amount of fantasy novels.

    Though i’d stopped watching Sailor Moon due to being 10 and wanting to fit in, I still watched alot (alot) of cartoons, but it was never enough; no matter how much I watched I was still bored, most of the time. So I read more fantasy novels. By now, I was in about the 4th grade, and already reading at an 8th or 9th grade level (let’s forget the amounts of sex that enter into fantasy novels around that comprehension level, i just needed some entertainment). Around this time, a little series called Pokemon started airing; and the great Japanese wave really kicked in. I satisfied my appetite with Pokemon, Digimon and occasionally Dragonball Z (or plain old Dragonball when it was on, the 1st series was far funnier and less Kamehameha-oriented) and was quite a happy girl for quite a while.

    Then two major events occurred, in almost perfect succession: my family got a computer and an internet connection in 1998, and a wonderful, beautiful, world-endingly great anime called Escaflowne started airing on FOX kids. Getting a computer was one thing, it nurtured my small Pokemon obsession with information. Websites around 1998 were still “pages” as opposed to “sites” and as such fairly non-interactive, and with my 28.8k connection even staring took some time. But with the advent of Escaflowne airing on North American TV, the floodgates broke open and haven’t closed since.

    I remember sitting with my sister, waiting, for 10 hours (literally, all day) in front of our computer in my parent’s room, waiting for the Japanese version of the Escaflowne opening to load on an anime media downloading site. We would sit and read/act out scripts from the episodes, look at pictures and talk about them, watch the few seconds that had loaded, and wait some more. Finally, when the bounty was ours, we would watch the entire thing, and try to sing the lyrics (for all our effort, learning Japanese later on in highschool was far easier after learning how to pronounce things.) To this day, I can still sing the TV version of “yakusoku wa iranai” at any time, perfectly, off the top of my head.

    My sister and I read about other series during this time, also. We read up on about every “most popular” series on the old HTML-and-person powered Anime Web Turnpike, and eagerly awaited our chance to get our hands on them. It was about 2000-2001 by now, and consumer Cable internet was out (I was blessed with parents who, no matter how hard times may have been always made sure we had a good internet connection.) as well as the first glimmers of P2P: the original napster (before anyone understood anything about the internet and copyright, and were just amazed at the technology) as well as others. We took our first dive into subtitled anime around then: Love Hina was our first, and we both found it impossible to keep up with the speed of dialogue, but impossibly fun as well. We started watching Inuyasha shortly thereafter, and it’s been a mainstay in my anime/manga life for the entirety that i’ve been a “fan” really, with the manga finally ending this June (i was more depressed than i thought i’d be)

    And ever since then, we’ve both been chugging along (me moreso than my sister) as fandom has gone mainstream enough for a section title in a bookstore to be la belled “manga” and be understood, to the recent collapsing/merging of US distribution companies. An anime con popped up in Vancouver around 5 years ago, and my sister and I have attended as it swelled in size from barely 1000 to almost 5000 this year. On another note, I watched Escaflowne again recently: for years i’d wondered if i was a deluded 11-year-old, and if it was as good as i thought it was. I was delighted to find out that it was everything i’d remembered it to be; i sat there with a smile plastered to my face for 26 episodes.

    (whew, long comment!)

  27. Interesting to see the various different eras of anime from such a wide range of ages. People having to specifically go to theatres and seeking out videos just to watch anime seems really strange to me. I didn’t make a conscious choice to watch anime over any other kind of cartoon as I didn’t know what anime was. I just started watching Pokemon and then Dragonball Z and Gundam Wing (terribly mangled, it was practically incomprehensible) and it wasn’t until about 6 years after I first saw Pokemon that I looked on the internet and found out that it was a distinct thing.

    However I did make a choice to watch anime even if I didn’t know what it was. Pokemon, Dragonball Z and Digimon are the only three cartoons that I remember watching consistently when I was about 8 and what got me was the sense of over arcing adventure that set them apart. The other cartoons consisted either of reliable old comedies (Tom & Jerry, Flintstones) or general superhero cartoons (Spiderman, Batman) and both were practically always set in the same few places and the issue of the episode was resolved in at most a few weeks. The idea a cartoon could show a new place each week and work towards an overall goal was really different and really grabbed my attention. Of course the action attracted me as well but a kid show that tried to emotionally invest you in the characters was pretty rare (obviously I didn’t think this at the time. i just thought ‘ooh must watch next week’) and of course the idea that there was an entire world of this stuff was reinforced by the cards and stuff. That idea of an entire world that a cartoon could be set in wasn’t really around in western cartoons.

    Quite a lot of that idea of adventures in a completely different world has kept in to my anime watching now. I eagerly devoured Fullmetal Alchemist and am still devouring Naruto, anime quite similar to what I watched before. I’ve also watched Ghost in the Shell, Death Note, Wolf’s Rain, Vision of Escaflowne, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gundam SEED (currently on to Gungrave) all linked by this adventure theme. I never really got into anime that doesn’t have adventure themes, I can’t get into anime comedy or horror.

    Cutting it to a summary, the important thing was the idea of an entire world with an overarching story. That was special to anime and I’m glad to see Naruto on Jetix in the UK now.

  28. I addition to my above comment, what really grabbed me about the first time I watched Pokemon which was also the first time I watched anime was the opening theme song and credits. They were incredibly corny but they also gave a real impression of an entire world out there to explore. That sense of adventure from the opening credits was what set it apart from the other cartoons.

  29. @okiu14: Thanks for the information RE: the academy awards DVD. I might well start looking into it as I’m always up for experiencing something new, I just have to watch Persepolis first though.

    @Johny: It’s interesting reading about how anime appeared in your country despite the communist regime ruling in Poland. In the UK, we are generally fed the impression that the old Soviet Union was quite xenophobic, especially towards the output of countries preaching the values of democracy, harking back to the days of the Berlin Wall etc. I guess it surprises me that anime made it into your country at all during that time, simply because I don’t really know enough about the Soviet Union to know anything different than what I’m told by the mass media over here. And nice to read another DBZ convert coming out of the closet, I used to watch it on Cartoon Network too. Some day, I hope to go back and watch the whole series again, preferably in DVD quality next time too! Frieza forever!

    @Martin: Unfortunately, you may have posted your initial comment just as I was playing around with some new (and already deactivated!) plug-ins for WordPress. Sorry about that! Onto the subject at hand, I’ve often read accounts from people remembering that classic Laputa broadcast during the 80’s, so much so I’m gutted I missed it (or simply can’t remember it), but I can imagine just how awe-struck you must have been as a kid while it was rolling on screen. I mean, I’m an adult now and even I can’t help but be moved by certain scenes in that film, in particular, when Sheeta and Pazu first meet the robot tending the beautiful garden on Laputa. It’s a fantastic children’s film, really.

    @Anime Fan: Welcome aboard!

    @Celeste: Thanks for submitting such a detailed, illuminating insight into your development as an anime fan, I had a lot of fun reading it and empathized with the point about how, at school, you had to deny watching Sailor Moon. Even today, I don’t exactly broadcast the fact I’m an anime fan, but as I’m now a professional website developer, this blog goes on my CV as proof of my work, so it’s hard to deny!

    Also, isn’t it great when you see something as a kid and love it, only to come back as an adult and still love it? Escaflowne is another anime, much like Castle in the Sky, that’s simply great, limitless storytelling no matter what age the viewer experiences it at. Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack is so wonderfully nostalgic, the animation is really bright and detailed, and the story is romantic, exciting and bitter-sweet. With that in mind, I can totally see why you spent so long trying to get a-hold of the Japanese opening, it must have been an exciting time and that comes across in your comment really well.

    @Crast: Although I agree with your sentiments to a certain extent, I definitely think there might be a bit more substance to the attraction of anime, more than the admittedly addictive qualities of serial (as opposed to episodic) story-telling at least. I understand what you mean about “the idea of an entire world with an overarching story”, it’s nice to be able to immerse yourself in a story, to escape completely into imagination, but there’s definitely something else, an almost indescribable quality to Japanese anime that I find quite hard to resit. It might be the use of music, the subtlety, or honesty, of the characterisation, the way it portrays human relationships, or even the style of cinematography and use of scenery, whatever it is, I find all of these things all go into explaining why I’m the fan I am today.

    I’d be interested to know what you think about Honey & Clover, if/when you see it?

  30. ok so i’m a little late (i’m a bit slow on the uptake ^^’) but i just wanted to say that your blog has really made me rethink how i approach anime – instead of just watching obsessively anything i can lay my hands on, i tend to consider what i’m watching more (although i still have my guilty pleasures – naruto being one of them, mainly because it was the first series i watched whilst being aware that it was anime, instead of just thinking it was a strange cartoon like pokémon or sailor moon when i was younger). also, with help from your (and your readers’) recommendations i’ve taken my first baby steps into the world of asian cinema, and i’m loving it!

    keep writing, your posts are wonderfully thought-provoking

  31. I stumbled onto your site looking for info on Xamd Lost Memories and instead ran into this. What a great topic you started, bateszi.

    My perspective of the movements is a bit different from yours, bateszi, since I got into this in the late ’90s when digital fansubs didn’t even exist yet. It was all on VHS. Also other than my Robotech days, my anime watching was through fansub and region 1 (and sometimes region 2) VHS/DVD purchasing. I never dove into the Cartoon Network wave of anime.

    ROBOTECH CHILDREN (mid-1980’s)

    Like okiu14 I am a Robotech child, which probably makes me one of the older ones here. Like most I had no idea that what I was watching was Japanese animation. I just thought it was the most sophisticated cartoon on tv (this is back when G.I. Joe, My Little Pony, Carebears were the afterschool cartoons).

    THE ENDING OF VHS FANSUBS (Late 1990’s)

    I didn’t become an otaku until around 1997 when an evil college friend introduced me to Bubblegum Crisis OAV. Back then the only kind of fansubs available was on VHS. It used to be so difficult obtaining decent fansubs. You could have the nth generation of a copy of a show and when you popped it into the machine, you could barely make out the pictures or subtitles on your tv. That’s how I watch Memories OAV and Rurouni Kenshin TV. I had the 5th generation of a copy of a copy and the picture quality was horrendous. And remember we’re talking about giant VHS tapes. The way it work back then is that you would need to find forums where people traded fansubs. You’d strike a deal with someone on what you would be trading. Buy the VHS tapes. Record what the person wanted. Ship it off via snail mail and hope the other person came through with your goods. Or you could track down the actual fansubbers and send them money for the VHS tapes they would use to record their fansubs onto. Boy I tell you watching fansubs took a lot of effort and was really expensive back then. It was not accessible as it is today. Not at all.

    The following year the same evil college friend took his meager student wage and bought the entire Escaflowne TV series on VHS. Again I was just floored by the production quality and the depth of the storytelling. That same year ADV Films began releasing Neon Genesis Evangelion TV on VHS. This is when they’d stick two episodes on a tape and sell it for $30. I remember the debates and angry fans when episode 25 and 26 aired. All hell broke loose. There were some awesome shows during this period: Escaflowne, Evangelion, Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop, Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, Hana Yori Dango.

    THE DIGITAL AGE (2000-present)

    I remember in 2000 a new generation of fansubbers began utilizing computers and the internet to create and distribute their fansubs, specifically through IRC. It was a really big deal when fansubbing group Animefactory released Boys Be. They had figured out how to encode files that were pretty decent in audio/video quality yet small in file size.

    This period was the peak of my anime fetish. It’s that period where you watch everything you can get your hands on: old and new. And I did. From Ghibli films to 100+ episode tv series to Studio 4C weirdness. My favorite from this period are Azumanga Daioh, Battle Athletes, Banner/Crest of the Stars, Twelve Kingdoms, Full Metal Panic.

    This was also the time when anime and manga was becoming popular in the U.S. U.S. companies were picking up Japanese shows left and right. Cartoon Network was converting a new generation of fans. Digital fansubbing was at its peak. The first anime blogs began to appear on the net (Momotato Daioh). Good times.

    By 2005 my fetish began to waver. I still watch but not to the addictive degree that I used to. Nowadays I really rely on bloggers like you, bateszi, on deciding what shows to pick up. Xam’d is a current favorite. Last year was Ookiku Furikabutte. The year before that was Black Lagoon.

  32. About 4 years ago I stumbled in on my sister watching Naruto. That was the moment. i sat down and teased her for watching cartoons and watched the episode she was on (somewhere in the chunnin exam arc) with disinterest, this gradually changed. I found myself urging her to start from the beginning so I could watch too. By the end of the Zabuza arc, I had laughed, I had cried, I was hooked. From Naruto I learnt what anime was.

    I know many anime fans look down on Naruto and his boisterousness and general idiocy, but there is something magical about it to me. And believe it or not you grow to adore even the character of Naruto not just the anime.

  33. I probably have the weirdest history of them all. My earliest memory of me watching anime was when I was around 8-9 years old, when ABS-CBN, the leading TV network here in the Philippines, showed Akazukin ChaCha and Samurai X, both dubbed in Tagalog/Filipino, back-to-back on weekday afternoons. Like many people, I wasn’t aware of the term “anime” back then, let alone that the titles I’ve just mentioned could be classified as anime.

    Fast-forward to 2004. My older brother bought DVDs of fansubbed Naruto (…yeah, they’re pirated). I could say that I fell in love with the uniqueness of it’s art form compared to Western animation, and of course with the story. So imagine my surprise when I found out that the first 2 seasons of Naruto were already shown on ABS-CBN a year ago!

    A few months later, ABS-CBN announced that it would pick up Naruto from where they left off. Curious with how the network dubbed it, I watched. And fell in love with the idea of Filipino-dubbed anime itself.

    So you see, my transition of my fascination from subbed to dubbed anime is very much different from the usual dubbed-to-subbed or stuck-with-subbed histories of anime fans.

    Then came two cable TV channels devoted exclusively to anime: Animax (English-dubbed or -subbed) and HERO TV (Filipino-dubbed). Was, and at times still is, on a joyride.

    Right now, my anime fan status has waned a bit. My busy schedule in school and me being a person that easily gets bored are to blame. But I still get to watch anime that are recommended to me by my friends, though that number is very small. And of course, whenever I learn that a major anime title is going to be broadcast in either ABS-CBN or HERO, I try my best to watch it. :)

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