The early days of being an Anime fan

  • Anime is pretty mainstream nowadays, if not, it's definitely on the cusp of becoming mainstream just like comics are now. Most people know what anime is to some degree without resorting to Oh that's just cartoon porn! and in most cases have enjoyed an anime or two like Attack on Titan or Death note. When I was younger this was definitely not the case. It was labeled cartoon porn, I didn't openly talk about it unless in my friend group and it wasn't so wildly available as it is now (I'm from Ireland so keep that in mind) so I'm gonna share my tale of how I got into anime and how hard it genuinely was to get into this niche and hopefully if you're from Ireland or anywhere were anime is not inherently huge e.g Japan or America (I heard anime is huuuuuge in France and Germany so you can add those there too).

    I've always liked Anime for whatever reason I was drawn to it even before I knew it was 'anime'. Around the time I was 10-11 which was 2005-6 a few friends of mine and me started going to an internet cafe to browse the web. This is where I saw mainstream anime for the first time, I knew of Dragonball beforehand but this is where I saw countless profiles on social media accounts role-playing as characters from Naruo, Bleach, FullMetal Alchemist and so on. This was pretty mindblowing, all these cool looking characters with blood, swords, demons and a range of other things I wasn't getting from kid shows my age. I started looking at random episodes of Naruto on youtube in 10-minute chunks (it was a wild time back in the early days of Youtube), trying to piece together these worlds I was getting into at this stage as a young kid I had no idea what torrents were or illegal streaming sites all I knew was what youtube gave me (Shout out if you remember Dattebayo Subs).

    At this point, I couldn't get enough. I was seeing toys and video games for these shows on youtube and for hours I'd comb through it all just soaking it in, looking from the outside wishing I could get my hand on Naruto Ultimate Ninja 3 or .Hack on ps2 and whenever we did get these games they were always butchered because the shows hadn't caught up in our region. I always hated seeing 'European Version' on copies of Naruto games, I remember in Naruto Uzumaki Chronicles Naruto himself could use rasengan, but in Europe the show hadn't got that far so it was renamed 'Power Strike'. I would constantly search toy stores and the like for paraphernalia relating to these things but to no avail, until one day when me and my Mam where walking through town, we stumbled upon a Comic Book shop called Forbidden Planet.

    Among the Star Wars toys and Hellboy figures, I found a rack of toys, that made me stupidly happy. It was a rack of Naruto Toys, I think my Mam knew how much of a big deal this was to me probably from the amazement on my face alone because she ended up buying me a Naruto and Zabuza figure. They also had a ginormous collection of manga, not just a few volumes of random manga strewn about the comic aisle at a bookstore, they had a real collection that made it possible to read these mystical tombs (or at least that's how they seemed to be in my head at the time). I look back on those days fondly now, we live in such an embarrassment of riches as anime fans now, it's still not perfect, but having an app on your phone that gives high quality professionally subbed anime hours after it aired in japan?! I'd have laughed at you if you told me that as a kid. If you got to the end of this, first of all, thank you! I didn't think it'd be this long and if you have a similar story please do share, I'd love to read it :)

  • First off, interesting idea for a thread. My legend begins in the twelfth century! Okay, not really. First anime I watched was when I still didn't register what I was watching was different from cartoons with stuff like Kiki's Delivery Service which I loved growing up. Years later, I started seeing the typical Toonami afternoon offerings of stuff like Tenchi Muyo, Zoids, G Gundam, DBZ, etc. Later continuing with Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, etc. on the later night Toonami.

    This is around the time I realized it was different from general cartoons and started actively seeking out more of it wherever I could. This ranged anywhere from downloading episodes over P2P services like Kazaaa, which could take up to a full 24 hours per episode on the internet back then, to going to places like Suncoast video and dropping 40 dollars on a DVD that included three episodes of an anime I had zero clue beforehand whether I'd like or not. Only had the box and title to go off of. I bought some embarrassingly bad stuff in that era.

    Got a little better later when Newtype magazine allowed us to start researching the shows somewhat beforehand, but eventually torrenting became a thing and anime actually kinda gained a foothold where you'd actually be able to find others to talk about it with. During that time I was able to view many shows fansubbed by a plethora of groups, and that's really when my love for anime was finally able to bloom. Eventually culminated in me taking a long family trip with a friend I met in high school through our mutual love of FLCL west where I was able to visit my first anime convention.
    Anime Expo 2005
    After that, stuff like Crunchyroll eventually happened and anime became much easier to obtain, support, and appreciate. People started writing pieces online about anime with frequency, and it became possible to research shows before they air, even make personal attack plans for tackling each new season as it airs in Japan while openly spreading the word of which shows were good and which were less than good. It's been sorta a long road, and I'm sure there's others even older than myself who got into it even earlier when it was practically nonexistent where they lived who had it much worse back then.

    I'm glad the medium has grown as much as it has, and I look forward to seeing some of the stigmas that still exist around it, such as it being all pornographic and demeaning to women, being all shonen anime for children or magical girl stuff, etc. get torn down when people realize anime is just another medium like television, movies, video games, or anything else and isn't "a mistake".

  • Nice write up, for me anime was an interest of mine from a young age, it all started around 1990 or so. I remember watching old anime shows on tv like Speed Racer and City of Gold, not really knowing that they were anime. What probably caught my attention the most for anime was the Robotech/Macross movie “Do you remember love?”, which my sister borrowed from her friend, that movie made me fall in love with Macross. Then some interesting things started happening, the Scifi channel started featuring some anime movies like Robot Carnival and Venus War, the Asian Art Museum here in San Franciso started screening anime movies like My Neighbor Totoro and Lensman. This was when I became an anime fan.

    Not too long after, anime started popping up at Blockbuster Video, a now defunct video rental store. There, my older brother would rent anime, and here I was introduced to some more racey titles such as Fist of the Northstar, Vampire Hunter D and Crying Freeman. True, my young self enjoyed all the sex and violence, but much like Macross, these were stories that made me care about the characters and their struggles, causing me to be invested in these stories as a whole.

    As time went on I would enjoy series such as Ranma 1/2, and Tenchi Muyo as well as some others. My brother even ended up buying bootleg Dragonball Z movies from a store in Japantown, unsubbed, and years before DBZ started airing in America. We didn’t know what anyone was talking about, but it was still badass.

    I still enjoy anime nowadays, always looking for a new series to thrill me, though it often seems to center around shonen type of shows, like My Hero Acadamia and One Piece.

  • Honestly, cartoons like Voltron and Thundercats were on tv when I was growing up, i don't think I even realised that there was a significant difference between American and Japanese animation until like, the early 90s when I first saw stuff like Akira and Genocyber.

  • @Mbun that's a cool story man! I couldn't imagine what it must've been like trying to find anime in the 90's, for me obviously any spec of anime I could find was like gold dust so I can only imagine what it was like for you. I still remember going to my first anime convention and it being one of the happiest weekends of my life, it was almost like Aladdin's treasure cove in a sense.

  • @TokyoSlim I remember being up late at 2am one night and stumbling upon a TV station showing Akira, it was so mind blowing to me at the time.

  • Well, outside of obvious ones that were on tv as a kid like Pokémon and Dragon Ball I didn’t watch or know of the existence of anime for quite a while. I had no real idea what differentiated Pokémon and Dragon Ball from the cartoons that were shown on the same channels, so I just figured other animated shows like Trigun or Zoids fell under the same banner of “general thing that is animated” as them. Ghibli to me was just Pixar that happened to be in Japan, and the general concept of animating a show was worldwide.

    Then, Yugioh Abridged started coming out and poking a whole bunch of fun at the dubbing process of Japanese cartoons so I got interested. I ended up hearing about stuff like Death Note and finding out things I used to watch as a kid like Speed Racer and Astro Boy were a thing called “anime” basically from google searching around to find other abridged shows. I didn’t find any other I liked though :P

    Somehow, while searching I eventually came across a panel interview with some English voice actors talking about dubbing some show called “Noein”. Essentially the interview was about how the DVD copies have all their joke read throughs as deleted scenes, and they’re bloody hilarious. The chain of events from that that lead me to watching anime on the regular are as follows: I burn through watching the deleted scenes a whole bunch of times, I decide to try and find the anime by searching the name of a character and “anime” (in this case it was “haruka anime”), that leads me to an anime called Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu instead, so I think “eh, might as well see what the fuss is”, watch that show, get obsessed with the fact that these anime shows tend to have a bunch of ridiculously over the top romance themes, try to find more romance anime, somehow find Kaichou wa Maid Sama and Ouran Highschool Host Club, I fall in love and never look back.

    So yeah, first anime I consciously watched was a trash ecchi harem show with fan service out the wazoo. I nearly cried when I watched it too because of how happy I was that I’d found a whole new world filled with cutesy rom coms without the cringe of actual actors or English voices.

  • @Mr-M hahahaha that's great! I remember those days of frantically Googling any possible thing that might lead you to the anime you were looking for (also props for mentioning zoids, terribly underrated show)

  • Y'all have it good. You could google stuff. When I was a kid, if they didn't sell a VHS tape of it at Suncoast Video for like $40, you weren't able to watch it. Suncoast stole tens of thousands of dollars from every Anime fan in the 90's.

    And we had to walk there in the snow without any shoes! Because they hadn't invented shoes yet.

  • I think like a lot of kids who grew up in the 90's my first exposure to anime was Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh, and "Cardcaptors" and I was definitely obsessed with those as a kid. I liked drawing a lot too, so that really fueled my interest. I drew Sailor Moon and Pokemon all the time. Middle school (2000-01) was probably when I really got into anime as a genre though, specifically because of getting more access to the internet and realizing those shows were their own thing outside of just "cartoons".

    I lived in a small town though so I was pretty alone in my interest and I definitely got a reputation from it but I also got a lot of other people into the genre. I focused more on manga though because I could bring it to school and read it on the bus. I think Love Hina, Chobits, Petshop of Horrors, Ayashi no Ceres, and Battle Royale were the first series I started buying and Suncoast definitely ate any disposable income I had as a teenager. I spent a whole summer's worth of babysitting money in a single trip to Suncoast and Borders. We also didn't have cable, at my mom's house at least, so Toonami and Adult Swim were only something I got to see seldomly, so I think that's part of the reason I didn't really get into anime as easily as I could with manga... plus manga was a lot cheaper than anime DVDs!

  • When I think about it I've been an anime fan almost all of my life, but I didn't go full on weeb until I was in high school which wasn't all that long ago. When I was like a toddler, I had to have been two I guess my parents let me waddle around a DVD rental place and according to them the only movie I focused on was Kiki's Delivery Service. I can't remember my life that far back but apparently I was obsessed with it to the point that when my little sister was born (I was 3 at the time) I told my parents that if she was a girl we should name her Kiki and if she was a boy we should name her Tombone (I thought Tombo's name was Tombone for some reason). My parents of course refused to do this but let me call my little sister Kiki as a nickname to appease me. I moved to the state I live in now a few months later when I was still 3 and my town is pretty isolated so the only way to see movies was to either drive 45 miles to the nearest movie theater (they've built two that are closer since then) or rent something at Blockbuster. The Blockbuster in my town, much to my delight also had a Copy of Kiki's Delivery Service that I continually rented for years. When I was a little older, maybe 5 to 7 years old I had my next experience with anime. I like many other people have Sailor Moon as my first anime series. The Blockbuster had almost the entire original series on VHS for some reason so over the course for the next few years I rented and watched all of it. I loved it so much that I tried to dress like Sailor Jupiter for halloween once. I didn't really understand that it was anime and not just a normal cartoon since I only ever watched it dubbed. Eventually I went dark on anime from about the age of 11 to 15. My parents got rid of our VHS player and the Blockbuster shut down so I had no way to access Sailor Moon anymore. When I was 15 I was on Netflix and Soul Eater got recommended to me. I decided to give it a shot. I watched the first few episodes both subbed and dubbed and decided to watch the series subbed. I initially thought it was quite strange and didn't really get the humor (or the fan service) but I started to really like the characters. I related to Maka and her relationship with her parents and I understood Death the Kid's issues with OCD (although I'm not quite as extra as he is), what really sealed the deal though was Excalibur. I don't care where you're from or whether you watched it dubbed or subbed, Excalibur in all of his scenes is hilarious. The more I watched, the more involved I got in the story. Once I finished the series I went on and read the entire manga, which I highly recommend to any fan of Soul Eater since the anime diverges from the manga at about episode 38 of the anime and about chapter 37 of the manga. The manga's story is much longer than the anime's for comparison, the two break off around episode 38 and chapter 37. There are 51 episodes of the anime and 113 chapters of the manga. Not to mention the endings are very different. One ending is certainly happier than the other but the happier one also goes in a really strange direction at the last minute that doesn't really fit with the rest of the series. I'll let you guess which ending is which. I also read through the spinoff manga, Soul Eater NOT! and watched the anime as well. It's really left me wanting Soul Eater to get the FMA Brotherhood treatment and receive a remake that more closely follows the manga.

    Anyways after I had consumed all the Soul Eater content I could find, I decided to search for my next anime. I looked online for the best places to watch anime and heard about Crunchyroll. I went on the site and started watching (the free version with ads). At the time the new hot anime series were Attack on Titan and Kill la Kill. I decided to watch both. I'm not sure which I started first, according to my queue on Crunchyroll I watched Attack on Titan first but according to my memory I watched Kill la Kill first. In any case, I didn't fall in love with either series the way I did with Soul Eater but I learned that I really liked the style of animation that anime provided, so I continued my search.

    At the time I watched a lot of SourceFed and they were doing an anime show where they reviewed the first few episodes of a series. The episode I caught the week I was searching was for Hamatora. I once more dove in to anime with Hamatora and was left with pretty much the same impression as Kill la Kill and Attack on Titan. Not great, but the art was pretty, so I continued to search. I watched the rest of the SourceFed Anime Club episodes and tried out more series like Gugure Kokkuri-San, No Game No Life, and Sword Art Online. I watched all of them but didn't finish any of them, leaving once more with the impression that she shows were pretty but not great. I'm not sure why I kept trying to find an anime I liked after so many failed attempts but I'm glad I did because it got me to where I am now. After like 6 months of searching for anime I finally found my first favorite anime. Please don't laugh. Naruto.

    I don't know why I liked it so much, I just did. I started watching because I realized I was getting nowhere from the shows Sourcefed was covering and needed to branch out. So I tried to think of anime I heard people talk about a lot, I remembered seeing Sakura (Shippuden version specifically) on a WatchMojo list of the top 10 female characters in anime alongside Maka, who was like my favorite character ever at the time, so I figured I'd give it a shot. The only thing I knew about the series going in was that I remembered hearing something about ninjas and school being involved. I surprisingly did not hate Naruto in the original series and found his struggles to be quite touching. I continued watching for that. When I finally hit the Chuunin Exam Arc I was hooked. It was also when I started legit hating Sakura and Sasuke but I gained my love of the Sand Siblings so it evens out.

    I finished all of the original series and quickly moved on to Shippeden. It was still airing when I was in High School so I would watch the new episode every Tuesday morning on my way to school (my school was pretty far way from my home at the time). That continued on for many months and through me transferring schools. The Naruto Manga was ending around that time so I started reading the Manga in addition to watching the anime. I think over the years through all the manga and the anime I've seen about 70% of all the Shippuden content there is to see.

    Naruto Shippuden was actually what first introduced me to other anime fans. A classmate saw one of my Shippuden volumes in my back pack while we were in class and asked me about it. They told me about the school's anime club and told me to join. I ended up not joining because the club turned out to be less about discussing anime and more about guys drawing hentai for fun and pestering the few girls in the club to take off their tops so that they could see what boobs looked like "for reference". Being a girl myself the environment did not seem all that appealing so I decided to pass. I got more involved in anime and manga through school though. My high school's library doubled as the district library so it's pretty big. My friends and I would hang out there after school and we often hung out in the manga section. None of my friends were really in to anime or manga but they liked looking at the art and would recommend some to me when they saw something they liked. I mainly dabbled in manga during that time, not really committing to any of them.

    I was however, still on Crunchyroll and I picked up on what were the hot popular anime of 2014 and the start of 2015, and started to check them out. It was the Spring Season of 2015 and the real start of my life as a weeb. I started watching all the popular shows at the time, Haikyuu, Food Wars, Assassination Classroom, Durarara, Kuroko no Basket, and Noragami, and loved pretty much all of them. The rest of 2015 was pretty good to me as well with the release of Lupin III Part 4 and One Punch Man. I think I was probably full weeb once 2016 hit.

    I had graduated from high school and started college in 2015 so once 2016 rolled around I was used to my new schedule and had found ways to work more anime in to it. Some of my all time favorite anime series came out that year, and I say this considering all the classic anime I watched that year as well. The highlights of anime and 2016 for me were Bungo Stray Dogs, Assassination Classroom season 2, Sakamoto Desu Ga, Food Wars season 2, and Erased. With Erased being the most well written series I watched that year and a show I'm still trying to convince my friends to watch. Although I think I hit peak weeb in 2016 (and in my entire life) with Mob Psycho 100, Classicaloid, Haikyuu season 3, and Yuri On Ice. Mob Psycho 100 was the first comedy anime that I actually found funny, I loved the art style and the animation, and the story is so surprisingly emotional that I found myself banging my fist on a table the moment an episode ended and I knew I'd have to wait a week to see what was next. Classicaloid was the first anime I watched ironically. It was so horrendously awful that I had to show my friends and I wanted to know which ridiculous direction they would take the story in next. The sad thing is that I really thought this show was going to be good before I saw it. Haikyuu season 3 gave me the strongest feeling of hype I'd ever experienced. The hype was so raw, so palpable I could feel my heart beat erratically while I was watching. But the peak weebdom of my 2016 peak weeb moment came at the end of the year with Yuri On Ice. I love figure skating. I took lessons as a kid and I keep up with competitive skating religiously (you would not believe how hyped I am for the 2018 Winter Olympics), so when I heard there was going to be a figure skating anime, I just about lost it. It was like the show was made for me. It had everything my inner weeb had ever desired. Figure skating, check. Great music, check. Likable characters, check. An underdog story, check. Heartwarming romance, check. Just the right amount of fan service, check. Just the right amount of drama, check. It had everything, I forced myself to wait until I got home from school every week to watch the episode. I would start off in a seated or reclined position but by the end of the episode I'd be upside down with my head hanging off the seat of the couch or something, contorted in a way the reflected the flood of emotions inside of me, while periodically making weird excited noises as cool stuff happened. I was DEVASTATED when the show ended and I seriously cannot wait for the movie.

    2017 hasn't quite reached the same highs for me yet, I've really liked a lot of the shows from this year. Some have even become all time favorites like ACCA 13 (highly underrated and exceedingly beautiful), Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (which has dethroned Erased as the best written anime I've ever seen), and My Hero Academia (which is a current obsession). I'm very much enjoying the Fall 2017 season, I've committed to watching The Ancient Magus Bride (based on my favorite manga ever, and very beautiful), Kino's Journey, Food Wars season 3, and Urahara.

    As for anime being mainstream or anything like that, I don't think it's reached that point yet. I don't currently know anyone who watches anime and I go to a pretty big school. I know we have a club for anime but it's been fused together with the video games and comics clubs so I'm not sure how big of a focus anime is there. I would very much like for anime to become mainstream though. I think people who haven't seen anime or who have only been shown the bizarre or fan service heavy shows have an inaccurately negative opinion of the medium as a whole. I still have to explain to people all the time that anime is a medium and not a genre and that there's a difference between hentai and anime. I think there are certain shows that if given a good dub could play quite well on American television (and I mean besides Toonami). I think Erased, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist (original or Brotherhood), One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100, and My Hero Academia would all do very well with western audiences if given proper marketing support.

  • in this thread:
    Submit your autobiography for proofreading. Lol

  • @TokyoSlim Yeah I went a little overboard. I started typing and couldn't stop.

  • @michemagius its cool, but I'm on mobile. I thought I accidentally downloaded a kindle version of A Song Of Anime and Fire

  • @TokyoSlim Haha, yeah I can see how my essay on my personal history with anime could be a bit overwhelming on mobile. I just have a tendency to run on about stuff.

  • @michemagius Haha, I am surprised I was able to keep mine as short as I did!

  • @logic__error I admire your ability to keep things concise. I just word vomit whenever I have a lot of things to say about something.

  • @michemagius I think I've just had a lot of practice, haha! But I mean, how often do you get to really gush about anime? It's completely understandable that when you get the opportunity you just want to really go all out and share as much as you can!

  • I've never been massively into anime, though it's also never been something I've shied away from. When I was a kid I just watched whatever was on Kids WB and Fox Kids (and later Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, for whatever reason we didn't get that on cable where we lived until like 2003). Digimon was absolutely my jam and even for years afterwards it was a minor obsession. If anime movies can be One of the Greats™ then I still hold that Our War Game is one of them.

    I remember around 2006 watching some Love Hina on youtube since they were a lot more lax about copyright (even if you had to chop up a twenty minute episode into like 8 parts) but I think the first time I ever actually hunted down a show that wasn't either just what was on TV or something I was hearing about nonstop online was Black Heaven (that show's real good stuff by the way, not gonna lie I don't really have much of a story for this thread but I'm only posting for the sake of telling people to check that show out.)

  • @DeweyDTruman I watched the end of the StarS season of Sailor Moon on Youtube that way... I actually did it during my yearbook class in high school.

    Also, I totally had a bootleg collection of Love Hina dvds that I bought from a secondhand electronics store.