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Anime:  My History With Anime

=====
Introduction | My First Tastes of Anime | The First Wave | The Second Wave
The Second Wave II | The Second Wave III | The Third Wave | The Fourth Wave
The Fifth Wave | My Future In Anime | Conclusion | Thanks & Acknowledgements
=====

Introduction:

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 just......text.

Be forewarned........this 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.

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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 me.

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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' series.  

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 world.  

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.

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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 Cats" and "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.  

"Power 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.

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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 syndication.

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 Ball (original)
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.

"Dragon Ball" 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 one.

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 life.

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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 anime.

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 anime....unfortunately.

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.

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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 place.

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.  

Then came "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 mix.  

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. :)

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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.

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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 now.

Digimon, once 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.

Rurouni Kenshin, 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.)

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My Future In the Anime Medium:

Well, 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 production costs.  

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.

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In Conclusion:

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 liking it.

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.

Sayonara! :)

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Thanks and Acknowledgments:

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.

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 All titles mentioned, and all likenesses (Character designs, logos, names, etc, etc.) related to them are copyrights of their respected owners as described in the Disclaimer page.  This is a non profit fansite.  No challenge of ownership has been made, so don't come suing me....I dont have that kind of money.

This site: © 2001 "animefan25"