The year is late 2002. I’m a sophomore in high school. I’m a pretty generic kid. Final Fantasy & Madden are my go-to video games. I like NFL football and play guitar in a band. One of my bandmates happened to be into anime. And so, the journey began.
Friday nights were spent watching episodes of Dragonball Z or Rurouni Kenshin on his couch while we waited for pizza or Chinese food to be delivered.
Now, I was not a complete anime beginner.
Everyone watched pokemon when it came out. I remember catching some Dragon Ball Z on weekday mornings. FOX Saturday mornings included: Digimon & The Vision of Escaflowne.
We did not call these cartoons “anime” back then. I had never even heard this phrase until my bandmate mentioned it.
Speaking of cartoons, I had grown up with some awesome animation:
- Batman: The Animated Series
- Batman Beyond
- Spiderman: The Animated Series
- Superman: The Animated Series
These were great shows, but I wasn’t interested in superheroes outside of them. When my friend showed me anime — there was something about anime that was just so damn, cool.
I love Fantasy and Sci-Fi, but the only mediums available to me were film and novels (I wasn’t into comics). The early anime I watched featured insane stories, characters, violence, comedy, adventure; everything a teenager looks for.
The issue was that — anime wasn’t exactly easy to watch. That actually added to the mystique and fun about anime. To watch these “Japanese cartoons”, as my dad called them, took work.
Dragon Ball Z episodes had to be downloaded from Kazaa or LimeWire. If lucky, a friend had a fan-subbed VHS tape bought from NYC.
I remember borrowing VHS tapes of:
Late-night airings on Cartoon Network, Adult Swim was a game-changer. Airing from 11 PM – 2 AM, Sunday through Thursday; Adult Swim introduced me to some of my favorite anime to date!
At midnight Trigun aired, followed by InuYasha (I was never drawn to it) and Cowboy Bebop at 1 AM.
Definitely, past my bedtime. There were no DVRs back then, so I recorded the episodes on my VCR and watched it the following night after homework. It would be all I could think about during the schoolday.
At the time, this was really the only way to consistently watch an anime series. DVD releases of shows started to come out, but the were EXPENSIVE. The only store that had anime available to purcahse new was FYE at the local mall. The releases were usually for 3 episodes of a series at $30+ pop. That is INSANE. Most anime series run 2 seasons, at 26 episodes. With inflation that is $325 for a whole series. Not to mention, that all episodes may not be in stock. I asked for anime once for Christmas at this time. I received part 1 of 8 of The Vision of Escaflowne.
A few years later I walked into a GameStop and found a fantastic deal. This was when GameStop would buy and sell DVDs as well as video games. My local GameStop must have had someone trade-in (ripped off) their anime collection because I made out with a huge score during a Buy 2 Get 2 Free sale. I managed to complete my set of The Vision of Escaflowne and all of Trigun for pennies on the dollar. I still have both of those sets, to this day.
I’m curious to learn your anime beginnings. Let me know in the comments what shows got you hooked!
I started watching anime again, so expect more anime content in the near future! I plan on making some videos so subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
Check out my thoughts on the first season of One Punch Man HERE.
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