It’s taken almost three years, but I finally have a post that contains my blog’s name in its title. Hopefully this goes on to become a trend, but let’s just see what happens for now.
Anyway, if all goes well this will be a post scheduled to come out on Thursday, simply because of ‘Throwback Thursday’. Regardless, I’m going to talk about how I first got into anime, and how I ended up becoming so enamoured by it. Without any further ado, let’s begin.
The first anime that I properly got invested in? Pokémon. I know for a fact that this is where many people first got into anime, particularly children of the nineties.
Ash Ketchum’s adventures in the Kanto region was something that many children watched religiously, myself included. In fact, it was all that many of us would talk about – whether it was the anime, the trading cards or games, Pokémon was undoubtedly a juggernaut. Heck, it’s still pretty strong today.
Pokémon was one of the many shows that aired on SMTV Live – a Saturday morning children’s television programme hosted by Ant and Dec. Though a variety of shows did air on SMTV Live, there was only two anime shows: the aforementioned Pokémon, and Digimon.
Yep, Digimon was another anime show I enjoyed as a kid. Given the choice, Pokémon will always be my top pick, though.
Either way, I definitely recall going to the cinema to see Pokémon: The First Movie. I actually also went to see Digimon: The Movie at the cinema as well (on a different occasion), and I’m pretty sure that was with a friend who preferred Digimon to Pokémon.
Whilst ITV had SMTV Live, the BBC had Live & Kicking, which didn’t tend to do as well when it came to ratings. Again, as a kid, I didn’t know or care about those things, I just wanted to watch cartoons. One of those cartoons I can recall watching was Monster Rancher – all I can really remember from it is a pink penguin type creature (which I believe was the mascot character), a stone golem and some eyeball monster.
Pokémon, Digimon and Monster Rancher were the first anime shows I was able to watch on a regular basis, though at the time I wasn’t aware of the concept of anime.
Saturday morning kids’ programmes weren’t the only place where you could see anime on British television. At around 3:30PM on weekdays, ITV would air CITV. CITV went on to become its own channel, but I’m here to talk about my childhood, not the present.
There was one anime that I watched in particular, and I actually have a vivid memory of watching during a holiday as well. That was Cardcaptors. Obviously it wasn’t the original Japanese version, but the one that was heavily edited for an English release. Naturally, I had no idea about that stuff at the time, which was during the years 2000 and 2001.
Maybe this is where my love of the magical girl genre sprang from. In fact, I enjoyed Cardcaptors so much that I ended up getting the first film on VHS – possibly the second anime film I ever owned after Pokémon: The First Movie.
It wasn’t until my teen years where I really started to get into anime – by that point, I had gone on to find out that Pokémon and Cardcaptors were anime. It started innocently enough, with a friend showing another friend and I Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away. I got into it more than my other friend, and I guess things started snowballing from there.
In 2007, the UK actually got a channel dedicated to airing anime. It was called Anime Central, and only lasted 11 months… still, it was there where I first saw Bleach, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Cowboy Bebop, and .hack//SIGN as well as a fair few other shows – some I never saw due to the times the channel aired.
It was broadcast from 9PM to 6AM, so staying up to watch all of that wasn’t an option, particularly with school.
I have clear memories of watching Bleach – one episode in particular, where Uryu Ishida fought against Mayuri Kurotsuchi. For a while after that, I referred Uryu as the ‘Quincy guy’ – yeah, I hadn’t quite got the hang of Japanese names by that point.
Another clear memory was of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, and the Tachikomas’ conversations at the end of each episode. At the time it was just a lot of high-pitched voices and techno-babble that went over my head, but I can appreciate it nowadays.
I also remember .hack//SIGN, though not a specific episode. I knew it was based in a MMORPG, and I was also aware of Tsukasa’s true self. I suspect that the episodes I saw were ones from towards the end of the series.
With Cowboy Bebop, I don’t remember any specific episodes, but that incredible opening theme certainly sticks in the mind. I’ve embedded a video of the opening for your viewing pleasure.
Thus far, my experiences with anime were limited to what was on TV at the time, but things changed as I got access to the internet. I don’t remember exactly when our family got a computer or broadband (it may have been before Anime Central), but the important thing here is that I was able to seek out anime on my own terms. I know I started doing that after Anime Central.
So this part is pretty much where my love of all things anime truly began. My first port of call was Bleach, and I’ve liked that series ever since – I know it has many naysayers, but what shonen anime doesn’t?
My adventure into the world of anime began with dubbed stuff only – that’s how I had first encountered it on Anime Central (though they did show subbed stuff occasionally as well).
Once I had watched all the dubbed Bleach episodes available at the time, I’m fairly certain I Googled ‘anime similar to Bleach‘, which was how I went on to get into Naruto. Naruto was all right, but I sort of lost all interest in the anime when the manga finished.
Another show that came up was One Piece. Fortunately, that was around the time when Funimation started to dub the series, so I’ve never had to suffer the 4Kids version – though I do often hear about it.
My desire to watch more anime only increased from that point, with some of the earlier things I chose to watch being Death Note, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Azumanga Daioh. I actually own two out three of those series on DVD – if Azumanga Daioh ever gets re-released on DVD here in the UK, you can bet I’ll snap it up.
Talking of anime DVDs, I currently possess over 100 of the things – both box sets and films. That collection is only going to grow as time goes on. I don’t actually own anything that can play Blu-rays, so that’s why I’ll be sticking with DVDs for the time being.
My collection of anime DVDs started pretty humbly, with the complete first series of Bleach. I recall receiving the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig boxset during a Christmas (I hadn’t even got the first, though I had watched it online). However, once I started receiving my own income, all bets were off. I value some parts of my collection more than others, with only a select few DVDs getting watched multiple times. It also helped to get my siblings into some anime – I introduced my sister to Angel Beats! and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, whilst my youngest brothers were particularly fond of The Squid Girl.
Back when I started collecting anime DVDs, I recall there were three different anime distributors for the UK: Manga Entertainment, MVM and Beez Entertainment. Manga Entertainment and MVM still exist today. Beez Entertainment ceased to exist in 2012.
However, I possess a few boxsets from their ‘Anime Legends’ line. These are Cowboy Bebop Remix, Gurren Lagann, Lucky Star and My-HiME. I picked those things up fairly early on as I continued to build my collection.
So for a long time, I only went for dubbed anime, meaning that there was a whole slew of anime I had yet to discover. As time went on, my curiosity grew so I ended up checking out some subtitled anime. There was a brief period of time where watching subbed anime proved a little annoying for me, due to my younger siblings wanting to watch as well. This meant I’d have to read the subtitles out loud for them. Fortunately, I didn’t have to endure that for too long.
Oddly enough, I don’t actually remember any specific anime series where I had to read subtitles. I can remember saying something like ‘I’ll be watching this in silence, so read on your own if you want to watch’, though.
I started getting into subbed anime as well, and it wasn’t too long before I stumbled upon the yuri genre. Now, some might say it’s a guilty pleasure for a male like me to enjoy romance blossoming between two girls, but I feel no guilt whatsoever for being a yuri fan.
And where did I start with the yuri genre? Well, like a fair few other people, it was with Strawberry Panic!. Nagisa didn’t end up with the girl I wanted to see her with most, but I still enjoyed everything else about it.
…and things have been rolling on like that ever since. I’ve already mentioned my collection of anime DVDs, and I currently have a subscription to Crunchyroll. Once I get a better source of income, I will probably subscribe to the several other anime streaming services that are available, but for now I’ll stick with just one.
That’s my story for how I got into anime. Feel free to share yours in the comments – maybe you gradually built up towards it, or perhaps you just dived straight in. If you want, you could also let me know your first experiences with particular genres. Maybe you instantly fell in love with a particular genre, or you saw a series or film from one and decided you’d never want to go near that again. Whether they were positive or negative experiences, I would be happy to hear your tales. If you want to share this in order to inspire others to talk about their first anime experiences, feel free.