Awesomesauce blogger Nopy started an interesting project on sharing what started us on anime, leading up to present day, and now I’ve decided to participate as well.
Mine requires cranking the way-back-machine to full. All the way back to when I was but a wee lad. My dad somehow found a Japanese video rental store somewhere, and thought that I might like watching some cartoons that were not North American. This became my first exposure to anime.
I’m sure the vast majority of my readers will never have heard of Captain Harlock (if you have, you’re either too old for this stuff anymore, or you watched a reboot series). This series pre-dates even Gundam, starting two years before the first Mobile Suit Gundam TV series aired.
Captain Harlock, one of the coolest space pirates ever known in anime history.
Talk about going back in time…
I can barely remember this series outside of the incredibly cool and phallic space ship, and the super cool demeanor of Captain Harlock. I’d say this was my first true calling to becoming an anime artist, and also when I started drawing anime fan art. ^^
But of course, there were other space operas that came out at the time that had me thinking as well, such as my brief glimpse of Galaxy Express 999
One of the first anime TV series with a main female lead.
I didn’t watch this series too much, because I was hooked on Captain Harlock at the time, but it was a rather interesting concept. Of course the absurdness of a flying steam engine was only matched by the also awesome Starblazers (Yamato) with the flying battleship.
ALL HANDS ON DECK!
These space-operas were totally awesome to me at the time. But there was one problem – there wasn’t such a thing as subtitles back then. But what got me was the beautiful art. I didn’t care that I couldn’t understand anything. I just wanted to see the beautiful art, and see the beautiful characters interacting with each other. The animation back then was already leagues above any North American cartoon that I had seen, so these really stuck and is probably the basis on why I’m such an anime fan even today.
It goes without saying that Gundam came shortly after. This was the game-changer in the industry. The space operas were still there, but the wholly creative imaginations of “gigantic battling robots” was a completely new concept the world over, and it took Japan by storm. Strangely, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Captain Harlock because it distanced itself from the human aspects that I so enjoyed.
And who could forget macross? I had an interesting “crush” on Minmei, which was weird considering how young I was and was already experiencing forms of affection towards someone of the opposite sex, irregardless of her physical representation as a 2d character, or an actual living being. Perhaps it was just the way she was portrayed, or I was just mimicking the emotional psychology of Hikaru. Whatever it was, I was clearly confused. Though now that I look at Minmei, I can see where my taste in women comes from. For reals! Just look at my wife!
I went to Hong Kong for the first time, and during that time I caught fever of one of the greatest anime series I had ever seen – an anime about soccer (or Football, if you’re not American).
What I liked about the series, besides the flashy cool super special moves, were the deep emotional and sociological concepts this series expressed. Everything was about teamwork, friendship, determination, and hot-blooded kickass soccer. I admired Tsubasa’s inspirational beginnings, and the exceptional heroism and leadership he radiated as the central main character. Tsubasa became my driving force to want to excel, and was one of my reasons for getting into soccer.
While I couldn’t find much good quality videos, this reboot still encompasses what Captain Tsubasa was all about, with all the same visual elements too. This anime was way ahead of its time.
While in Hong Kong, I was also exposed to the darker side of anime, Fist of the North Star.
This was the most violent anime I had ever seen at the time. It was both horrifying and exhilarating at the same time. It was interesting to see the same sort of heroic dependability of Captain Harlock being expressed in this series, but on such a greater level. Seeing the conflicts between hero and villain played out in gory detail really influenced me to this day on how super powers can change everything and make you an unstoppable hero.
There were also sprinklings of Astro Boy during this period as well, but the parallels of the unstoppable hero were so similar to many other series, that I quickly lost interest in Astro Boy in favor of Kinnikuman.
The comedy of this series was gold, and I also loved the whole idea of wrestling. The violence was a lot less than Fist of the North Star but shared the same heroism central character, and the cliff-hanger series being far more interesting. The cool thing about this series was that the main character was not unstoppable, and provided an incredible experience with cliffhangers and excitement.
Who could ever forget Doraemon? Not much needs to be said about this series. It was just fun to watch! There were various other anime series that I watched from time to time, with many being vague memories that pop up and make me say “oh yeah! I remember that!” but which I can’t recall on my own.
From this point on, my interest in anime exploded. I was no longer watching just one anime at a time. I was watching several series. This was also the time when the anime industry itself began broadening its audience with different genres.
My romantic soft side demanded more humanistic interaction. My love of Minmei quickly traveled to the beautiful blue-haired Kyoko from the series Maison Ikkoku drawn by the ever talented Rumiko Takahashi.
This was my first taste of romantic comedy, and boy was it comedy gold. I saw many of my own traits of the main character within myself, and at my early age, had already experienced crushes on a few other girls at school. These images of happiness shown through this series only fueled my naive yearning. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I truly wished that Yusaku and Kyoko would get together.
Kyoko… you’re so beautiful…
Another series that I was watching in parallel was none other than the original Dragon Ball.
The same heroic dependability was shown within Goku, and I still indulged in my fantasy of unstoppable super powers make you the hero. Not much else needed to be said about this series as it was just plain fun to watch. It had its tense moments with the tournaments and such, but it wasn’t until Dragon Ball Z where things started getting really interesting.
When I started watching Saint Seiya, it had already begun on the Gold Cloth series, I missed out on the first series, and still haven’t watched it. But it was again, another creative and interesting setting, and story. It called on the same elements that made Captain Tsubasa great. It eventually became too much to watch when 80% of the episode was flash backs and inner monologues. When each opponent was defeated, it was no longer a “yes! victory!” but more of a “yes! it’s finally over!”
Anime merchandise had already begun taking the industry by storm. One such series that embraced the hot-blooded nature of Captain Tsubasa was Dash! Yonkuro!
Pulling the same elements of friendship, determination, and hot-blooded exaggeration, this series spread like wildfire, especially among hobbyists since this was based off of Tamaya’s breed of racing toys. You still see this today with series like Yu Gi Oh and Beyblade.
Hot Blooded Product Endorsement!!
Also worth mentioning was Mr. Ajikko
More like Mr. Epic.
This was a hot-blooded anime series about cooking. The amount of exaggerated “special moves” was completely mind blowing, and incredibly fun to watch. A lot of parodies of this ‘hot-bloodedness’ originates from series of this era. I’ve yet to try any of the recipes outlined in these series though. I might pull an Akane.
Speaking of Akane,
Later in my anime life, I began watching Ranma, again by the talented Rumiko Takahashi. At this point in time, I was already in senior high. My taste in anime had also changed. No longer was I so keenly interested in the fantastical of series such as Dragon Ball Z, or the overtly romantic shows like Maison Ikkoku. Ranma was the perfect blend.
My fever for anime was temporarily stalled, as my interest began shifting to manga. I was heavily tied to Ranma at the time, as well as Video Girl and DBZ. Though my romantic taste for anime had stalled, I began showing more interest in romance manga. It was interesting to see that again, my tastes in females were the driving force behind what attracted me to singer Noriko Sakai, and in turn Video Girl Ai.
Once I graduated from high school, my fever for anime returned when I met some otaku-friends who are still considered my best friends.
Their knowledge and interest in anime far exceeded mine. Prior to meeting them, I wasn’t even aware that there was a local anime store, or an anime club. They introduced me to incredible anime such as Macross Plus, Ghost in the Shell, and Evangelion. I’m sure that this was the start of many weeaboo’s anime life.
The predecessor to Miku Hatsune stands before you. Now KNEEL!
I shall now stop here. There is still too much ground to cover, and many series were not mentioned, including a Golf anime which I can’t remember the name of, all the Miyazaki films, Creamy Mami, Voltron, Cowboy Bebop, several Henshin shows, Kenshin, Macross 7, Armitage, Akira, and countless countless more. My brain is now much.
Probably the best anime ever created.
Reading back on this, it’s interesting to see how much of a history lesson this is as well as how much anime has influenced my life, and affected my psychological and sociological make-up.
If you haven’t already, why not also read my wife’s experience with anime here?