This is a complete
documentary on how I got into the medium of anime for you fans to enjoy.
As it is mainly text, I have tried to dress it up a bit with images depicting
the anime(s) at the times I had seen them, so you can get a visual idea of
what it looked like, and also, to not bore you with a page full of
is a lengthy dose of reading, so grab a cold soda, and something to munch on
(taking care not to get crumbs on your keyboard), and read on as I give you a
look into how anime got a hold of me.
My First Tastes of Anime:
For me, I can say that
anime has been much a part of my life even when I didn't know it back in the
mid 1980s. Although I was only young at the time (4 or 5 yr old), I
still remember watching and enjoying old anime-like (but not necessarily
'anime') TV shows like "Transformers", "Thunder Cats" and
"Silverhawks". Although they were animated mostly by American
animators, the way their stories were told, and the way the animation was done,
was inspired by Japanese animation.
Another show that comes to mind is "Rainbow Brite".....although the
franchise started on cards and stationary by American Greetings (Hallmark's
competition), it did gain its own TV series in 1986 from DIC. I still
have an old VHS recording of this series. I look at it today, having seen
a good amount of anime, and to me it definitely has 'anime-like' qualities to it
even though "Rainbow..." is for the most part American animation.
As for the 'classics',
like "Robotech" and "Voltron", the memories are pretty
much dust in the wind for me. I barely remember them
anymore. Probably due to the fact, that they had very little interest to
The First Wave -
Videogame Related Cartoons:
The late 1980s and early
1990s for me, mainly consisted of the animated series that were based off the
highly successful 8-bit Nintendo console that was released nationwide in
1987. (It started in bigger cities in 1986, but didn't hit my home state
until 1987). The shows eventually, came with it. In syndication,
there was "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show", which consisted of 2
short live skits of the 2 famous Bros. (Mario, IIRC, was played by a former
WWF star wrestler), with a 20 min animated show in the middle. On
Monday - Thursday, it would consist of the adventures of the Mario Bros. in
the Mushroom Kingdom....and sometimes a stop in SubCon (the world of SMB 2)
for some episodes. The Friday slot was taken up by "The Legend of
Zelda"....if you haven't heard about that title....you must have been in
a cave all this time. "Zelda" only had a 13 ep run, that went
into reruns after the season was only half over, but I enjoyed it slightly
more than the "Mario" cartoon.
Captain N. kept my anime
/ animation interests going. It went for 3 seasons on NBC before
they dropped all kids' programming for more Teen oriented shows.
On the network side of the
TV dial, we had "Captain N - The Game Master" on NBC. (this
was before they ditched cartoons altogether folks, with that 'Teen NBC'
crap.....when TV on Sat. Mornings was GREAT!). This series focused on a
teenaged boy who gets sucked into his TV one day while playing his NES, only
to end up IN the game. Then with the help of some friends.....a few
being Mega Man, Kid Icarus, and Simon Belmont, they try to defend the world he
is in from Mother Brain (from the side-scroller action / adventure game "Metroid").
In season 2 of "N" they added a talking Game Boy to the cast, and
more adventures, some involving the "Zelda'
Also, the second season
of "Capt. N" was joined by "Mario Bros. 3", the animated
equivalent of the smash-hit NES game. Then in 1992, we got "Super
Mario World" which had a 13 episode run, and followed the
adventures of the Brothers, and a new character, Yoshi, in the Stone Age
All the above
series mentioned, which were all produced by DIC, disappeard by fall of 1992,
and 'good' animation, as we knew it, took the downward turn....at least I
thought it did.
You can argue with me
that "These titles just are NOT anime, so why mention them on an anime
site?" I know they aren't anime titles, and the animation style
isn't anime-like. They are mentioned, because they somewhat carried on
my interest in animated entertainment.
The Second Wave: Part 1
- Saban Gets Things Rolling:
We come to the mid 90s,
but I should probably start at 1994. This is the year when Saban.....as
in Haim Saban, bought over a series from Japan, that would forever, rock the
syndication field, and setting the stage for what the next big thing in kids'
programming would be.
Saban and partner, Shuki
Levy, have composed music as far back as the early 80s, with themes and music
for many of DIC's shows....their best known is "Inspector Gadget",
however, they are also credited in composing the soundtracks to "Heathcliff/Cattilac
"Rainbow Brite" just to name a few of their works. Saban
started his entertainment branch in 1984, but didn't really have much of a
'hit' series under his belt until a decade later. That hit was to
be......"Mighty Morphin Power Rangers".
Now before I get rants
and flames telling me, "MMPR is NOT anime". I KNOW its not
anime, but it does have a significance TO anime in the USA, as far as TV run
anime goes, and in 'bringing it back from the dead' so to speak, from its days
in the 80s with "Robotech" and what-not.
Rangers" was a HUGE hit in the States. It ran mostly on Fox
affiliates, which makes it one of Saban's first contributions to the network,
and his relationship with Fox got underway as well with the series.
Also, during this time, DIC, the people responsible for most of the titles I
mentioned above, started getting into Japanese product as well, however, their
offering wouldn't come until a year later.
The Second Wave: Part 2
- Syndicated Anime Goes Full Blast:
It's now 1995. DIC, a
fledging company called FUNimation, and (now-defunct) Graz Entertainment, each put out an anime series into
The first I'll elaborate
on is DICs offering...."Sailor Moon". When I first caught a
snippet of this series in the fall of 1995, it looked dumb to me (I don't have
a thing for animated shows aimed squarely at girls...not that I hate them to
death.....its all in the plot also.), so I passed it up. The second
offering, from Graz Ent. (distributed by Clastar) was "Ronin Warriors". This one I missed,
probably due to bad timeslots, like the HORRIBLE 6:30 AM timeslot a lot of
anime got during this time.....and what's worse....some still do to this
day....but I shall rant about that in my 'Debates/Rants' page.
The cast of Dragon
From L to R: Yamcha, Master Roshi, Bulma,
Oolong, and Goku.
The third series, an
offering from FUNimation. The company was young at the time, and it was
their first project. What was it you ask?.....well, it was 'Dragon
Ball". Saban helped in final production efforts, but they didn't
syndicate this incarnation of the Akira Toriyama classic.....the now-defunct
Seagull Entertainment, was the syndicator.
was the the first 'true' anime to catch on with me. It had only mediocre
animation (as it originally aired in Japan in 1986), but the storyline was
full of comedy and action. In most areas, it ran on Saturday
mornings.....for me, that would be 8:30 AM Saturdays, making it a weekly
series. I just 'landed'
upon the show and watched it. Thus my venture into anime had begun!
Then one Saturday
morning, in early September 1996, I tuned into the local station that ran
'Dragon Ball'......only to find the series had DISAPPEARED. Poof....gone
as quick as it started. What replaced it (since the new TV season had
begun around this point) was the STUPIDEST piece of crap cartoon I had
seen. I won't bother mentioning it here, because I care not to remember
it. If you MUST know, IM or e-mail me about it. I was mad, but I had not given up all hope yet.
The other 2 series
mentioned above, "Sailor Moon" and "Ronin Warriors" also bit
the dust at this time, due to their horrible 6 & 6:30 AM timeslots. I
learned later that "Dragon Ball" was also a victim of bad timeslots in
larger markets. This got a whole mess of fans angry as well. At least I wasn't the only
2 weeks later, and I'm
channel surfing again on Saturday, between 10-11 AM in the morning. I
land at the station that originally played "Dragon
ball"....yes.....again, and found a new series, this one was a Saban produced
anime......their first to hit the USA, and their first venture into anime
dubs. I kept on watching and found out the main characters were 3
humanoid cats. To me, this was different than what I had seen before, in
either American or Japanese animation. Thus I kept on watching, up till
the end credit roll finished. Of course, I paid attention to the
commercial tags for the show, and the title I caught was "Samurai Pizza
Cats". Keeping this in mind, I shut the TV off and went on with my
The Second Wave: Part 3
- SPC, Before & After:
Well, after the day I
found SPC, I never seen it or heard about it again. Plus, I was too lazy
to look through the TV Guide for it. That all changed when the New Year,
1997, rolled in......
....The first full week
of January. I'm listening to "Yes" and "10cc" (both
classic rock bands) on a Friday evening, and thinking to myself, "Now
what was that series I saw some odd-numbered months ago?". Then it
hit me...."Ah yes...."Pizza Cats"...that was the show"...,
and I knew what I was missing. I then checked the TV Guide (FINALLY),
and find out that SPC had switched to a Mon-Fri timeslot, and better yet, on 2
stations. I kept this all in mind through an overnight hotel/resort stay
in WI Dells over that Saturday, and a Green Bay Packers win Sunday which
sent them to the 1997 Super Bowl. All that stuff going on and I still
remembered, as you'll see below.
The Samurai Pizza
Cats in their pose after a battle. From L to R:
Guido, Speedy, & Polly..
Finally, Monday rolled
in (Jan. 13 to be exact). My chance had finally come, and I tuned in @
9:30 AM, to catch SPC once again. This time though, a full episode, and
that episode was "Candid Kitty" one of SPC's few 'clips shows'.
This was good for me, since I had missed the first 12 episodes. In a
nutshell, I was hooked on thi series, literally overnight.
For the next 7 months, I
followed this series almost religiously, even recording it at the 2:30 PM
timeslot on another station over summer break (I was still in high school
then). I was able to catch all 40 episodes that were dubbed by Saban,
and in the end, I was finally surprised to learn that what I was watching, and
what I had watched previous to SPC, namely "DragonBall"....was
'true' Japanese animation....dubbed of course, but the drawing style was
Then another shocker
came in 1997 in September. I knew with the new TV season just started, I
felt SPC could carry on. I also felt it didn't have much of a
following, and this would prove to be true. After a few weeks into the
1997-98 TV season at a 6:30 AM timeslot, the Pizza Cats.....vanished.
Thus, I would have been
left without a series to follow if it wasn't for Saban's replacement for its
failed block of anime/live action shows. Saban's block in syndication,
along with SPC, included "Masked Rider", "Eagle Riders",
the sequel series to "Battle of the Planets", "Why Why Family". which
was an E/I show for little kids, "VR Troopers"...which was (to me
anyways) a Power Rangers spoof, and "Adventures of Oliver
Twist"....this title sounds like European product to me. All the latter, sans
"Eagle Riders' were American or Canadian product....NOT
This would all be
dropped in favor for....."DBZ". Yes, the flagship product of
Cartoon Network's 'Toonami' block, got it's start in syndication.
FUNimation did most of the work, but Saban did the final mixing, editing, and packaging
of the show. From Sept. thru early November 1997, I followed DBZ's 2
episodes every Saturday.....again.....at the HORRIBLE timeslot of 6 and 6:30
in the morning. A Total of 50 TV eps and a 3 part movie were
shown. When it went into reruns...I stopped watching. Thus my
second wave of anime, had all but died out. I attempted again, to watch
Sailor Moon in October (then in its second year in syndication.....it took a
break in the 96-97 season because it was off the air), but alas, it failed to
do anything for me.
The Third Wave -
Advances In Anime Veiwing:
Now 1998 came in quietly
for me. There was nothing on for anime except DBZ and SM, and in January
of that year, Saban dropped all syndication and went to Fox, so DBZ faded from
the air. SM was all there was left, and you already know that I wasn't
about to get into it, so I just stuck to lame talk shows like "Jerry
Springer" (I honestly believe the fights were better at that time
though), and the SPC episodes that I had recorded the previous summer, until something new would come along.
A good chunk of time
passed and in July 1998, I finally got access to the Internet. I could
finally find, and possibly talk to, other SPC fans out there, who had the same
passion for the series that had been off the air for almost 2 years at that
point, as I did.
Doing this though, I
soon discovered there was more to this medium they now called 'anime'.
The majority was talking about DBZ, and SM, and a few SPC fans scattered
about, but I also heard other titles......"Ranma 1/2",
"Slayers", "Akira", and so on. So I jotted them down
and headed for the first place to find anime.......the local video rental
Akira came first, and I
was blown away. Although the plot was tough to pick up on, the animation
(to me) beat SPC's by a long shot....it was THAT good, and it kept my
attention. Next on the list was "Ranma 1/2". I laughed
my arse off with the tape I rented. I went out and bought a few more
tapes of this series, and stuck with it for a month or two.
The Slayers / NEXT /
TRY has been a long running favorite of mine. Most of
the main cast of NEXT is shown here.
"Slayers". This so far, is probably my long-running favorite,
as I still enjoy it today. Slapstick humor like that of SPC, memorable
characters, and one heck of an adventure/RPG plot thrown into the
Hey, not bad for a
newbie into the anime medium. I had yet, however, to find something on
TV to watch, because I'll tell you firsthand, newbies to anime......that anime
is one EXPENSIVE hobby if you don't manage your money right. With
Slayers and Ranma 1/2 as favorite series, I found myself spending almost $100
a month just on tapes. Enter.....the biggest fad to ever hit the Earth
as we know it. :)
The Fourth Wave -
Pokémon, Caught Up In the Fever:
Now, I knew this series
was running on TV, while surrounded by my 'Slayers' and 'Ranma 1/2' videos, I
knew about this series firsthand, due to the seizure incident of 1997
(explained elsewhere on this site). I was totally shocked that 4Kids
entertainment, along with their distributor, Summit Media Group, was to dub
and air the 'Pokémon' series on TV. I remember the uproar this caused with
critics of anime and of parents of young kids....it was insane. Unfortunately, money (and syndication) talks, and Pokemon, was sent on its way
in September 1998, while I was into 'Ranma 1/2'.
Just like with the rest
of the world, I was also caught up in the Pokémon craze. This
is Ash, the lead character.
I caught a Pokemon
episode or 2 in November of '98, and thought the same as I did with
SM......horrible plot, total waist of my time. So I continued on with
Slayers (putting Ranma 1/2 on the backburner to save cash....$25 per tape
really burns a hole in your pocket), and that was that.
Then 1999 came in, and I
decided to give Pokemon another shot. Luckily the episode I watched, DID
grab my attention, and I enjoyed it......to the point of getting up at 6:30 AM
to watch it on my local UPN affiliate every morning. I got to see all 40
syndicated episodes, before the news got across to me, that it moved to The WB
Network. So I followed BOTH weekday and weekend airings of the
show. This was the only anime series I truely gave a hoot for until the
Orange League episodes started (in January of 2000), then I gave it up because
one of my favorite characters (Brock), left the series for 3 or 4 dozen
episodes. That and the plot seemed to go slightly downhill with the
Orange League saga. So Pokemon died out on me as quickly as it went in, but I
enjoyed it, and I give the partial voice cast of "Slayers" credit on
a job well done with dubbing of Pokemon.
The Fifth Wave - The New
Millenium....and More New Anime:
Well, coming closer to
present time here, there's yet one more wave in my anime history I can
add. This one has probably been the busiest one for me. In the
year 2000, I have probably seen no less than 5 new anime titles on video, and
4 on TV.
Starting with TV,
Pokemon had just died out on me coming into the New Millennium, so I went
straight for it's competition...."Digimon". The 4th Saban
product I have gotten into, and animated by Toei, the same folks who did
Sailor Moon and DBZ.
What's ironic here, is
that I was like a LOT of current Digimon fans today....I literally BLASTED the
series as a "Pokemon Ripoff" when I first heard about it in
chatrooms in September 1999, as I was still kind of a Poke-freak at that
time. Geeze, was I EVER wrong, and I regret ever calling it a rip-off
considered a 'Poké-ripoff' by many of it's critics, like myself, has
turned many of those critics into die-hard fans almost overnight.
This is the title image.
Well, Brock left Pokemon,
and that was it for that series. So a month passed, and in February
2000, just before the '8th Child' arc in "Digimon", the same thing
that happened with Pokemon, happened here. I got lucky and caught a good
episode, and it hooked on me, like SPC did a long time back. In a
nutshell, I saw (and recorded) the entire first season of Digimon, and I'm
following the second, "Digimon 02" at present time. Great plot
for a kids show, very memorable characters who have more personality and depth
to them than any TV anime series I have seen to this point, and the fight
sequences are just great.
Also, I got into Monster
Rancher for a short time while it was on FOX. It had the same charm as
Pokemon (Genki, being just as hyperactive as Ash), but the overall feel was
more dark to it, which I liked. Due to it's ratings failure in both
syndication as part of the BKN (Bohobot Kids Network) block and on Fox Kids as a
lead-in to 'Digimon', it has pretty much left the network TV scene, most likely
to never return due to newer anime that is forthcoming, and competition from the
other 'mon' anime shows.
Finally, there's "Gundam
Wing". I don't get Cartoon Network, but I have been able to see
this via VHS tapes. Although the plot takes time adjusting to.....it
goes all over the place.....the action that this series has, and the nicely
done animation, keep me hooked to it.
Alas, not all anime is
cut for TV. Case in point.....well make this TWO cases....."Escaflowne"
and "Card Captor Sakura" (I refuse to call it Card Captors from this
day onward, for fear of being flamed by die-hard anime otaku out there).
I was looking forward to BOTH shows, and ended up being disappointed in the
end with BOTH shows. One went SO bad in the ratings that it no longer
exists on U.S. TV anymore, and the other has been so dumbed down and chopped
up........oh geeze, head for the "Debates/Rants' page for more of this.
That leaves us with
"Pokemon: The Johto Journeys" and "Digmon 02". Both
are about the only anime worth showing on network TV because they were, in
their Japanese counterparts, aimed at younger audiences in the first
place. The former with more humor than the first season, and the latter
returning to Pokemon's old (and good) formula when it was in syndication, plus
Brock returned...(Whoo hoo!!)
Anywhoo, my video
collection was also growing too. I continued there with the entire
Slayers NEXT series in 1999, and I'm almost done with Slayers TRY (got 4 tapes
left there). Also, Fushigi Yuugi, an EXCELLENT anime, beautifully drawn,
and decently dubbed. (note, I have only called dubs DECENT so far...not
EXCELLENT, as all dubs have their flaws, some more than others). It
tells the tale of 2 middle-school aged girls who get transported into a book
called The Universe of the Four Gods., Go see this one for
yourself.....the story's just too complex to type up here.
a moderate hit in Japan, has become a smash hit in the USA with many
anime otaku. The "Samurai X" (RK) OAV even made the
Billboard™ top 10 video list and stayed there for a good few
months. Seen here is Kenshin himself (TV series)
The other new series
I've gotten myself into is "Rurouni Kenshin". I'm going to
make this clear right here and now....the OAV DUB from ADV is called
"Samurai X"....the SUBTITLE is "Rurouni Kenshin OAV".
Got it?.....good. :) Do NOT confuse this with the "Rurouni Kenshin'
TV series, which has the full title, and is put out by an entirely different
distributor (namely Media Blasters). If you're still confused, drop me
an IM or e-mail.
'Kenshin' is another
excellent (and lengthy to boot.....94 TV and 4 OAV episode, AND a full length
movie) series, and what I have seen of it so far.....you have to watch for
yourself and you'll see why it's probably one of the best series I've ever
gotten myself into. "Samurai X" is just one of those OAVs
you're going to need a box of tissues within reach. The story, which I
shall not spoil right here, will take
you in and wont let you go until the final credit roll is finished. Plus
it's one of the most beautifully animated and detailed OAVs I've ever watched.
The TV series, as far as animation/drawing quality goes, is
just a slight step down from "Samurai X" but the series is just as
enjoyable to me as "Digimon", "Slayers" and "SPC"
are. Like with those 3, "RK" has its comedy, along with its serious
moments, and the characters, again, are memorable. Finally, all of it
takes place in ancient Japan, during the time when the power of the Shoguns was dying out, and a new era for Japanese culture was just beginning, so it's
also a good history lesson. (just to prove a point that you CAN learn
something of educational value while watching 'cartoons', you just have to
know where to look.)
My Future In the Anime
for me, lets just say....I've gone digital as of this page's publishing.
Having recently acquired a DVD player, most of the anime I buy now will be on
DVD, as I'm noticing a lot of VHS titles switch to TV edit dubs only, or just
plain old dubbed only release. VHS subtitles are fast going the way of
8-track tapes because of their cost for anime companies to make, and the few
fans who do buy them.....its just not giving companies enough revenue to cover
Thus, I've gone the
direction most anime otaku are going now......DVDs. So far, I only have
Digimon's first 13 episode disc and "Princess Mononoke". The
latter title, put out by Miramax (yes.....a DISNEY company, anime fans), is
something you MUST see to believe. The DVD is chock full of options, one being the
Japanese audio track WITH literal subtitles....I might add. This is a
first, as most subtitling was done off to the side. Literal translation
of scripts is something fans have been hoping for in a looong time. Hopefully
this practice will become more common in future anime TV series and movie
releases onto DVD.
Whew. I think that
about does it my fellow anime otaku. I'll leave you with this
final thought When it comes to what anime you watch, or what you
enjoy.......don't listen to what other fans out there say....in other words,
don't let them tell you what to like and not like for anime. DO,
however, take their suggestions if you haven't seen the anime title they
mentioned. Hunt it down and give it a shot.......you may end up actually
With that statement, I
wish you, the newbie to anime, a safe journey into the vast and varied realm
of Japanese Animation.....or 'Animé', for short.
First off, thanks to the
companies who deal with the licensing, dubbing/subtitling, and airing of anime
on TV, distribution of anime on VHS & DVD, and release of anime feature
films in the movie theatres. Without them, anime
would still be stuck in Japan, where it originates.
Secondly, to the people
online.....too many screen-names to mention.....who have thrown out many
suggestions. Just about everything I've bought on video, is because of
you guys. Had it not been for you, I'd either be watching reruns of
Pokemon, or watching some crazy reality show.