Like many kids, I loved watching cartoons when I was little. I watched them every weekday after school and often on Saturday mornings as well. I also loved to draw, so I never grew out of my love for animation. My favorite cartoons were the Nintendo ones (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, with Zelda on Fridays, and Captain N). Unfortunately as I got older and my favorite shows stopped airing, I had trouble finding new shows I liked, and I turned my full attention to video games.
Then one summer morning, my mom turned on the TV, and Ronin Warriors happened to be on. I was mesmerized by the drawing style and thought, “Wow! It looks like a video game!” My mom said, oh it must be one of those Japanese cartoons. At that point my only exposure to Japanese anime style was through games. We watched the rest of the episode, and I was hooked. I looked forward to watching the next episode every weekday morning. Not only did it look pretty, it also told a story. To me, it was like a cartoon version of an RPG.
Later that summer, during one of many trips with my mother to the fabric store, I saw a display advertising a pattern for a “Sailor Moon” Halloween costume. I pretty much stood there and stared at that display while my mother shopped. My first thought was “There’s more of this Japanese stuff?!” and my second was “I like the red one with the black hair!” (Sailor Mars, haha.) I went home and immediately searched every page of the TV guide, but could not find a show called Sailor Moon. As it turns out, Sailor Moon didn’t start airing until that fall, and then it was on at a time when I was still at school. I didn’t let that stop me and asked my mom to tape it for me every day. I was so excited to come home and watch Sailor Moon, I was completely obsessed. Some of my friends at school started watching it too, and they had this magical thing called the Internet where they were able to look up more information on this thing called “anime”. They would also print whatever Sailor Moon pictures they could find and bring them to school. Another friend then reported being able to find Sailor Moon stickers, t-shirts, posters, CDs, and other goods in Chinatown, and Chinatown became my favorite place to visit.
I started wondering if there were more anime series on TV that I had missed, so I searched the TV guide for any show that sounded Japanese or like it could be a cool sci-fi/fantasy cartoon. I found Robotech on a local Sci-Fi channel, and later Urusei Yatsura, Tenchi Muyo! and Key the Metal Idol. I loved all of it. I then heard about a local video rental store that had anime, and I became a frequent customer. I discovered Animerica magazine, and through that started reading manga as well. Soon we had the Internet at my own house, and I spent countless hours on Anime Web Turnpike browsing random anime sites. I even learned HTML and put up my own Sailor Moon and Ronin Warrior fan sites, although they didn’t have much substance. By that time I was in high school, and I started an anime club there. It wasn’t long before I discovered anime conventions and started meeting even more anime fans. Luckily by the time I got into anime, it was already becoming more readily available to the U.S. market. I missed the era of mailing VHS tapes to fansubbers, although I have several friends who did that.
Now anime is everywhere. You can find just about any series you want on the Internet, and new series are translated so quickly. Some are even simultaneously released here and in Japan, which is still unbelievable to me. These days I am not the crazy anime fan I was in high school, but I still enjoy a good series. Actually, for a while I didn’t keep up with anime at all and returned my focus to video games. I prefer video games because they are interactive. Sometimes I have trouble sitting still and focusing on just watching something. Now I am engaged to a man who is a huge anime fan and watches just about everything as soon as it’s released, so I’m starting to catch up with what’s current. The great part is that he previews all the new series and passes along only the ones that he thinks I will like. The problem is that now my cosplay wish list is expanding again…
By the way, my favorite anime series of all time is probably “Full Metal Panic!” “The Mystic Archives of Dantalian” and “Shining Tears X Wind” are also way up there.