1sts of My Anime Life

I’ve been an anime fan for a short while now, but immersed myself quickly into the anime sphere.  Juggling multiple anime per season, making sure to watch older anime when time allows, moderating an anime forum, blogging, and participating in a few anime forums all help me keep up-to-date on the constantly changing medium that is anime.  Despite the many new shows and characters that pop up, I still go back now and then and think fondly of the firsts that made me the fan I am today.  If not for them, I would not appreciate anime to the extent that I do now, so here is a tribute to my anime firsts.
Note: Thanks to Yumeka for being the inspiration for this post with her entry on anime firsts.

The Firsts
Awareness: Pokemon/Digimon
I was never big into television as a kid, but I remember watching a half hour or so after coming home.  I distinctly remember feeling unsure about the strange graphics and creatures that presented themselves in Pokemon and Digimon, and it wasn’t until several views that I started to realize that the two were completely different series with independent plots, characters, and settings.  There was a girl in my high school who was a HUGE fan of Pokemon, and would wear a t-shirt with a large group of them.  She wasn’t exactly popular in the school, and was often ridiculed for liking something nerdy like anime.  Since I had no knowledge of the medium, but was a childhood friend of hers, I shrugged off her hobby as “just some cartoon” that she loved, considering all anime cartoons for kids.  Boy, was I wrong.

Movie: Spirited Away
It wasn’t until college that I was once again exposed to anime, this time in the form of a movie.  One of my male friends forced me to watch Spirited Away after he found out that I had no idea what it was and that I thought all anime was for kids.  Although Spirited Away is considered a family/children film to many, I was still surprised at the universal themes of friendship and love that pertain to adults as well.  Not only that, but I fell in love with Studio Ghibli and the whole story of Spirited Away.  To this day, this film is a favorite.  I also have an attachment to it because the friend who introduced me to the movie, and also gave me his extra copy, died in 2008.  Every time I see the DVD case on my shelf, watch the film, or listen to the beautiful orchestral soundtrack, I think of him and miss the fun times we shared watching anime and goofing off.  Thank you, Nick, for revitalizing my interest in anime, and for being my friend.

TV Series: Fruits Basket
Another friend from college turned out to be a HUGE anime fan, and once he found out that I was interested, but uncertain of where to start, he dumped a bunch of discs on me and demanded I try them all out.  The first one on the list was Fruits Basket, and it was unlike anything I had ever watched before.  Although my love for this show had faded over time, I still remember my obsession with the world and characters.  I immersed myself in the learning of the Chinese Zodiac, and proudly called myself a Kyon-supporter.  I was delighted at the cuteness of my Tiger representative, went about taking a whole bunch of screenshots of both her and of my favorite scenes with Kyon, and made amateur wallpaper for my desktop.

Online Community: AnimeSuki Forum
I came to the AnimeSuki Forum through its torrent listing, AnimeSuki, and was impressed with the number of threads and members.  Here, finally, was a place where I could share my thoughts on anime, as well as learn more about the hobby I was just starting to realize was more vast than I had ever imagined.  I also received a moderator warning shortly after joining for asking about a torrent for a licensed anime in complete ignorance of licensing.  AnimeSuki was a lot like an anime crash course.  I am still an active member, though my participation level has lowered due to my increased involvement in the ISML forums as a forum moderator and staff member.

GFX: AS Signatures
A popular aspect of AnimeSuki Forums is its Fan Creations subforum, which boasts several active members who love nothing more than to make forum signatures and avatars for public and private use.  Seeing all the fun GFX used by members throughout the forum, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make my own.  After obtaining my own copy of Photoshop, I proceeded to undertake the very confusing task of reading and watching several tutorials.  As you can see above, my first signature is…well…not pretty! But, I feel pretty comfortable now with my own style, and make anything from signatures and avatars, to banners and MAL list styles.

Music: Fruits Basket OP and ED
While watching Fruits Basket, I found myself singing along to the OP and ED themes, and decided that I wanted to have my own copies for listening at any time.  I’m not too into listening to them now since my music preferences have changed and adapted over the years, but every time one of the themes pops up on a shuffle list, I smile and sing quietly under my breath.

Purchase: Fruits Basket Wall Scroll
As you can see, Fruits Basket really had a huge impact on me.  One day, while perusing in a local bookstore, I noticed a familiar image on a wall behind me.  Lo and behold, it was a wall scroll of the main cast of Fruits Basket.  Since I was really into posters in my early undergrad years, I of course had to purchase it.  But, I was too shy to ask if the wall scroll was for sale.  Weeks went by, and I kept going in and looking at it, wishing I could hang it on my own wall.  I finally mustered up the courage to ask about it when the bookstore put up a “Going out of sale!” sign.  To my chagrin, I bought it only to discover that I couldn’t hang it the way I wanted since my dorm didn’t allow punctures in the walls.

Gift: ARIA gashapon set
Last summer, a good friend of mine went to the Chicago Comicon and thoughtfully picked up a gift for his sad friend who couldn’t go.  He saw the set and thought them familiar, remembering that I had a box set of the first season on my shelf.  I was delighted to receive them and proudly placed them on my bookshelf in front of my small manga collection.  His guess was spot-on, since ARIA is also my currently favorite anime of all time, and has been for a good while now.

Photo courtesy of Moe Moe Rabu

Figurine: Mizunashi Akari
For my 25th birthday this summer, my boyfriend gifted me this wonderful figurine of Mizunashi Akari.  While her face is way, way off, and the oar bends slightly due to its softer material, this is the best present he could have gotten for an ARIA fanatic like me.  I absolutely adore this figurine and can’t wait to display it in a nice, clear case some day.  Right now, it sits on my humble, little book shelf amidst the much smaller gashapon figures.  I fancy that they have conversations whenever I head out into town!

DVD Boxset: Haibane Renmei
I actually only have the first two DVDs for this boxset, but it was the first one I ever owned.  I found it on the used movie shelf at GameStop (when they still had movies).  I had seen the whole series already, but wanted to own it since I liked it so much.  Sadly, I have not yet been able to find the next DVDs, and the ones online all seem to be priced at a ridiculously high rate.  If any of you see a great deal for these…LET ME KNOW! :p

Japanese Video Game: Super Mario Bros.
I was a late bloomer for video games, as my parents viewed any television activity as unhealthy for a growing child.  I was able to get a used Nintendo console from a garage sale, along with a copy of Super Mario Bros., and I would play this game over and over again.  It’s strange because I can’t actually remember if I ever “finished” this game, and when I played it again after its Wii release, I couldn’t remember many of the levels.  Sadly, I no longer own my old Nintendo, since my parents later re-sold it in one of their own garage sales sometime in my later grade school years.

''Last night, when I was alone in my room, from out of nowhere... I smelled a fart that wasn't mine.''
Favorite character: “Osaka” of Azumanga Daioh
Azumanga Daioh was probably my 2nd viewed TV anime series, and it shocked me with its gag humor.  Anime could actually be this funny? I distinctly remember laughing harder than I ever had for an American cartoon.  This was also the start of my multiple re-watches, as I just couldn’t get enough of the anime and its unique characters.  Of all the characters, Kasuga “Osaka” Ayumu put me into stitches the most.  Every time she opened up her mouth, I was giggling and quoting her lines.  And while my character favorites have changed and the list has lengthened over the years, I still view Osaka as one of the strangest characters to grace the anime screen.

Manga: Azumanga Daioh
My obsession with Azumanga was pretty severe at the time, and besides re-watching skits OVER AND OVER, I also went and purchased the manga once I discovered that our local comic store sold it.  As this was the first manga I ever read or owned, I was a bit put off by how different the actual manga was from my imagination of what it would be like.  I had expected something more along the lines of an American comic, but found myself presented with skits…just like in the anime.  However, the manga skits feel more disconnected from one another than in the anime.  I had to do a couple read-throughs before I was comfortable with the style, but once I was, I fell in “like” with manga.  I say “like” because my appreciation for anime is much, much higher.  And while I can justify my expensive DVD purchases of anime, I have a hard time justifying what I consider the high prices of manga sold in America.  I’m used to thick chapter books pricing at around $8.00, and buying a manga that I read in under an hour for $10.00 feels pretty terrible on my wallet.

Japanese Language Course: College-level (2 years)
Like many anime fans, I went through a Japan-craze phase.  Maybe some are still in this phase, have fallen out of it, or have realized that the phase is actually a life-long love for the culture.  I’m a bit of all of these.  After watching several school-themed anime, I decided that I just had to learn the language and visit the country at the soonest possible moment.  I had had the privilege of hosting two Japanese exchange students back when I was in high school, and am still close with one of them.  She has an open invitation to my family for a stay at her home in Kyoto at any time.  Although I was a starting English graduate student, as well as a teaching assistant with my own full class of college freshmen, I undertook the crazy task of learning the Japanese language.  Here’s a lesson from me to you: do not attempt to take a foreign language when enrolled as a graduate student in a different field.  Graduate students have too much on their plates, what with their own courses, department obligations, theses, dissertations, and defenses.  All of this must be completed within a short length of time; in my case, the expectation is two years.  I did not have the luxury to take a course outside of my field, but I did.  I’ve always been quick to learn with languages–something I found out after taking Spanish in high school and several grammar and linguistics courses in college–but Japanese has one thing I underestimated: kanji.  After two successful years of studying, I could no longer handle juggling my kanji study with my own English graduate studies and ended up dropping the foreign language study.  I deeply regret not taking the language back in high school and my undergrad years.  Some day…some day.  I have also come to a more realistic understanding of Japan’s culture, but still love learning about it.  While my fervor for “everything Japan!” has faded, an enduring appreciation for the country and its history and customs continues.  Wait for me, Megumi; I’ll visit you soon!

To Come?

  • Anime Convention
    I hope to make the 2011 Anime Expo my very first anime convention, but won’t know for sure until I have a bit more assurance in my career and future home.  I expect to graduate this year and move out-of-state sometime in the next, but everything is still unsure.  You can expect me to definitely post about my plans on here when I am sure.  If the 2011 AX is a go, I hope to meet many of my online anime pals and acquaintances there🙂
  • Japan Visit
    Like I already mentioned, I hope to visit Japan some day, though I doubt that it will be anytime soon.  Since I’m looking forward to soon starting a career, I obviously won’t be financially stable enough for an extended vacation anytime soon.  When I am, I’ll have plenty of places to visit on my list, including the homes of my past exchange students who have families in Tokyo and Kyoto.  Maybe a honeymoon trip? :p

How About You?
What are your own anime firsts? I’m really curious about where you guys started, and what anime influenced your own current loves and hates.  If you have any “firsts” that I don’t and that you think I should experience, let me know!

17 thoughts on “1sts of My Anime Life

  1. I never considered Pokemon to be an anime once I started watching it. It wasn’t until I started following the big three shonen shows and tracking their OPs and EDs that I was introduced to a anime streaming site. I then watched a few harem shows and then I was hooked. I didn’t become a full-fledged anime fan until I watched Gurren Lagann and Clannad though.

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    • Perhaps Pokemon felt less like a Japanese anime because of its association with children’s tv shows, plus my introduction to Pokemon was the dubbed version, so again the Japanese connection felt weak. My first harem show was Ai Yori Aoshi; was CLANNAD yours, or was it something else? And Gurren Lagann is a great show for introducing people to anime🙂

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  2. Well, I’ve already mentioned some here, but my introduction to Anime was completely on accident. Sci-Fi (before SyFy and the wrestling bullshit) used to occasionally air Anime movies on Saturday morning, and before I knew what I was watching I was hooked.

    Akira, Green Legend Ran, Armitage III, and Iria were my first movies. From there, the testosterone in me lead me to M.D. Geist and Ninja Scroll and an occasionally oddball movie like Windaria, Appleseed, or The Venus Wars; from there I started on series such as Record of Lodoss Wars, Slayers, Dragon Ball Z, and Evangelion. Then my tastes got more “refined” and I hit up such shows like Key The Metal Idol, Seriel Experiments Lain, and Blue Seed. I expanded from there.

    I still own many of those movies and shows in original VHS, but I have my curiosity and the Sci-Fi channel to thank for my introduction to Anime. I certainly didn’t share my experiences of Anime back then with people I knew because, like your friend, my friends found it “weird” or just “cartoons”. Even today I find myself hesitant to dive into the subject.

    I’m sure I’m missing some Anime that influenced me. To the ones I’m missing: I’m sorry. You were as important to my Anime development as the ones I can recall right now.

    Though, given how much you know about Anime, I’m surprised your introduction of it came so late. I would have guessed from your fondness of the medium that you would have been into it since childhood.

    Now you’ve made me want to buy a VHS player to see all those old shows. Thanks.

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    • Yes, you definitely have an older history of anime than me, since I’ve seen only a small number from the list you gave: Akira, Ninja Scroll, Appleseed, Evangelion, and Serial Experiments Lain. I can’t even fathom the idea of having anime on VHS! :p

      Like I mentioned, I didn’t watch much television as a child since my parents either ushered me off to do more productive indoor activities–in my case, reading, studying, or practicing piano.

      I hope you’re able to locate a VHS player so you can go over old favorites >.<

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  3. Thanks for the mention, I’m glad I inspired you😄

    I actually only recently signed up for the AnimeSuki forums (about a year ago). However, I used to visit them back in ’05/’06 regularly just for torrents.

    I used Genki 2 when I studied Japanese abroad in Kyoto for a month. As you may have read somewhere on my blog, Japanese/Japan was my major in college. Not the best major for landing a good career but I loved it! Since graduation I still try and self study whenever I can but it’s not the same as taking courses or being in the country =/

    And Osaka is still one of my favorite characters!

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    • Ahh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around the AS forums before. I used to use their torrents all the time, but recently branched out to loyally visiting my favorite fansubbers’ sites, as well as just going to nyaatorrents where there are more posted.

      I always wonder how useful a degree in Japanese really would have been. If I had gone that route, I probably would have still opted for the college level teaching of either the literature or culture.

      And it’s always nice to meet another person who can appreciate Osaka’s….unique personality :p

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  4. I don’t think I was aware of anime until I was in middle school, the first show that I regulalry followed and knew that I was watching anime was Inuyasha and then wolf’s rain followed shortly after that. (The first show that I followed not really knowing what anime was at the time was probably Cardcaptor Sakura… or was it Rurouni Kenshin?) My first movie was also Spirited Away, I actually remember the night I watched it because it was the day before my tenth birthday.

    Oh Aria… It’s currently my top favorite show as well. Once I get enough money I’m gonna shell out 150 bucks for the Alicia figure. It’ll be the best 150 dollars I’ll ever spend. Funnily enough, once I get it I’ll display it right next to my assassin’s creed II figure of Ezio. Aria made that game so much more fun (If you unfamilar with the game, it takes place in Venice)

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    • I’ve always wanted to try out Wolf’s Rain; I hear nothing but good things about it. And Cardcaptor Sakura is a treasured show🙂 I wish Spirited Away had been a movie I watched as a child…I feel there are so many charming aspects of it that would have delighted me as a kid.

      The Alicia figure is lovely! I’m uncertain myself as to whether or not I want to buy it myself. And I agree, seeing shows that take place in actual, or imitation of actual, settings is always a lot of fun. I, too, have been to Venice, and watching ARIA always reminds me of the great time I had while there.

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  5. Nice list of firsts and favorites! Starting with Pokemon, Spirited Away, and Fruits Basket. Aria, Azumanga. That is a strong list of things.

    Anyway, I have yet to attend a convention either, so hopefully I’ll get to make my first one sometime this year too. ^ ^

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    • Thank you. I’m not exactly sure what anime would make a weak list for beginners, but I’m certainly not ashamed of the shows that introduced what I hope to be a life-long hobby.
      What convention are you hoping to attend this year? I’m not too knowledgeable about conventions around the world, as I just learned about AX recently from reading Yumeka’s blog.

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  6. At the beginning, when I was quite young, I wasn’t even aware that Pokemon and Digimon were Japanese, much less know that they were Animes, so I didnt really watch them that much, I wasnt fascinated by the whole Pocket monsters idea which kinda bores me. As I grew slightly older, I noticed many kids doing Naruto’s signature move “Rasengan”, just playing around and acting crazy. So I got curious and started watching it, it sucked me in like a whirlpool. I got addicted to Naruto in a blink of an eye, which became my first Main Stream Anime. I had no other interest at that point in time other than Naruto. However, there was a time where Zero no Tsukaima was shown on television, at that time, I had no idea that all these Animes could be found online, so I sticked to the TV, but the very first episode I watched was sadly already around the ending, it ended too quickly for me. That was when I got fascinated by the japanese art designs and its awesome plots. I immediately googled “zero no Tsukaima” and discovered many Anime sites that were available. Thus begins my obcession with Anime, up till now. Although I’ve watched Anime for about 2 years only, I managed to watch 139 series, I wasnt really that addicted 2 years ago, I really got addicted about last year and watched almost anytime I can, which was only on the weekend, thats why I could only watch 139 series. I have this motto, which I created this year, I live by Anime, I die by Anime. I am so thankful of Zero no Tsukaima for opening the doors for me to the wonderful world of Anime.

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    • Ahhh, I remember Zero no Tsukaima. I was also still fairly new to anime when I watched that show, and I ended up also watching its 2nd and 3rd seasons. Overall, I found the 1st season to be the best, as Louise’s character just annoyed me more and more, and as the plot became even more mundane. There were some good laughs at the start, though.
      I’ve never really gotten into watching Naruto; I’ve always avoided it, since I generally lose interest in shounen shows that go longer than 50 or so episodes.
      And although you’ve watched anime for 2 years, I think you’ve got a nice, long list already! You shouldn’t feel so rushed about trying to watch as many shows as you can–you might burn yourself out. I hope your passion for anime withstands the test of time🙂

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  7. It’s very interesting to read how other people got to know “the world of anime and manga”!

    I myself was introduced to anime by a friend who was (and still is) obsessed with anything concerning Japan (she even plans to make her passion her profession, as she’s studying Japanology). She told me to watch Chobits, but as I started it I found it so weird that I did not even finish the first episode…. But after that I found an anime called Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, and I was hooked!

    I was introduced to manga by another friend, who was reading a strange-looking comic and carried it with him everywhere. One day, in school, when we had a free hour and I didn’t know what to do. So I sat down next to him and asked him about the comic he was reading. It was Death Note, and it didn’t take long before I went to the bookshop to buy it myself!

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    • I find Chobits to be a bit of a tough anime to introduce to new viewers. I didn’t really appreciate that show until I was a least halfway through watching it. Tsubasa Chronicles is another CLAMP piece that I simply adore…truth be told, I like pretty much all CLAMP works. I suggest you try out Chobits again and see if your thoughts on it remain the same since you last attempted watching it.

      Death Note, however, does seem like a great manga for beginner manga readers. I haven’t read it, myself, but I did think highly of the anime adaptation (though it’s not in my list of favorites).

      Thank you for sharing some of your firsts :3

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  8. I was first introduced through Pokemon and Card Captors which I liked a lot in Middle School. In high school a friend introduced me to Ranma 1/2 (manga), and I bought a bunch, maybe because it was the first time I’d seen softcore porn. That manga cost an unbelivable $15 a volume from the local skater shop 12 years ago, before manga became mainstream at the bookstores.

    I never got into anime until late High School though–I always thought it was stupid and childish. But then I fell in love with someone who was in an anime fad, and I studied it to get closer to her. The relationship didn’t go anywhere, but I’m still into anime all these years later.

    I also went through a Japan phase like you, and I actually wandered Japan for close to 3 months this year. During that time I realized….I really don’t like Japanese people. I may like what they create, but talking to them is very boring and superficial, and you’re always the outsider. Heard the word gaijin so many times I realized living there wouldn’t change society for me, and I’d much rather live in the west where I can engage in interesting conversations, in a familar language, and not deal with idiots or prejudice.

    I also bought a couple hundred manga to read while I was there…but it will probably never happen. Translating is a pain in the butt and since there’s no one to check with, I never know if I’m doing it right. I wish I’d studied the language more earlier when those things were so much more important to me. Now I just look at it all these years, and think, what a waste of time and money. That’s my life-story with anime.

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    • I haven’t seen Ranma 1/2, though I’ve heard good things about it. Perhaps I’ll get around to it someday. I also hope you don’t still view all anime as “stupid and childish”. While there are certainly shows that fit into that category, as with any other medium, there are also plenty that are intellectually stimulating and very much made for adults.

      I wouldn’t consider my love for the Japanese culture as a “phase”, since I do have a familiarity with it enough through my two Japanese exchange sisters who I’ve kept in touch with all these years, as well as a few friends I’ve met over the years. I hold no illusions for the country’s weaknesses and extreme xenophobia. I think I would blend in okay there since I’m Asian, Filipino, already, though I’ve heard that Filipinos are also looked down upon by some people there. But again, like with any country, there are both horrible people and wonderful people. I’ve met enough Japanese people with beautiful personalities to know not to peg their entire people by the bad examples. We have tons of “idiots and prejudice” in America.

      I’m sad to hear that you think of your time spent around anime and the language as wastes of time and money, and I hope that you’ve found something else that you do consider worth them both. As for myself, I still feel rewarded with my hobbies and will continue to enjoy them.🙂

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