Back in early 2005, I wrote a “condensed” autobiography of how I became an anime fan. It detailed all the stages I went through, starting from when I was a little kid watching cartoons, to creating my own anime web site and watching all kinds of series. I recently reread this old work of mine, and I have to say that not only is it outdated, my writing skills back then kind of sucked. Now, almost five years later, after watching much more anime and graduating college, I figured it’s finally time to rewrite my anime autobiography…
Like with my previous 100 favorite characters posts, over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to make a series of roughly eight posts, each with a chapter, in chronological order, of my newly rewritten anime autobiography. I’m going to make this new version better than the old one, i.e, implement my improved writing skills, add pictures and links, and update it beyond 2005.
Just to be clear, this is not a complete autobiography of my life. Although it can get a little personal at times, I focus only on the things that led me to anime fandom, like past events, fads, or specific anime series that especially influenced me.
So, without further ado, enjoy chapter 1…
Autobiography of How I Became an Anime Fan
Chapter 1 – Animation Infatuation
Pre-Anime Cartoons I know it’s not unusual for children to love cartoons, but I was especially fond of them. Although I didn’t have cable TV in my childhood, I still watched just about every cartoon I could via local channels or renting from video stores. I loved all the cartoons that were popular when I was growing up in the early 90s, such as Tom and Jerry, Loony Tunes, Batman, Animaniacs (my favorite!), Peanuts, Garfield, Winnie the Pooh, and others. The animated Disney movies were particularly influential.
The characters that started it all
Whenever a new Disney movie came out in the early 90s, especially Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994), I would obsess over it. But I think The Lion King was, and perhaps still is, my favorite.
Boy, were these guys a big part of my childhood
The Lion King was the very first animated craze I got into, and my obsession with it showed an early indication of how my anime obsession would become. I watched The Lion King over fifty times when it came out on VHS (yes, I counted), and by now I’ve probably seen it close to one hundred times. I’ve listened to the soundtrack probably just as many times, I collected the trading cards, toys, books, and stickers, and I even decorated my room with cut-outs from various Lion King coloring books. And even now, all these years later, I can still recite every line of dialogue. Yes, Lion King was big for me.
Sonic the Hedgehog Another influential player in my pre-anime childhood was Sonic the Hedgehog.
Sonic Triple Trouble, the first Japanese game I ever played
The Sonic line of video games were the first games I got into, so technically Sonic is also the first Japanese series I was familiar with. Sega Game Gear and Sega Genesis were popular consoles in the 90s, and I had just about every Sonic game for those systems. I did watch one Sonic cartoon that was on local channels, but it was American-made. I loved drawing the Sonic characters, too. I saved all my old drawings and, considering my age, they really aren’t half bad. Later on, I liked a few Sonic games on Game Cube, but it’s the classic Game Gear and Genesis games that I really love, mostly because you have the option of playing as my favorite character…
Boys’ Toys One unusual side of my childhood was that I was interested in both boy and girl toys. I liked girl things such as cute stuffed animals, Littlest Pet Shop, and Polly Pocket, as well as boy things such as Legos, Beast Wars: Transformers, and the Attack Pack Hot Wheels cars.
He’s nearly 15 years old but I still have him in my closet!
Beast Wars was a particular favorite of mine. In the mid/late 90s I collected many of the action figures and watched the TV show, which was one of the first CG-animated cartoons. Although it was based on the Japanese Transformers concept, Beast Wars originated in North America. The show and the line of toys have long been discontinued, but I’m still hanging on to my collection for sentimental reasons.
Sailor Moon – My First Anime Sailor Moon was the very first anime I ever saw, even though I wouldn’t find out what anime is until years later. I was in elementary school when the English version of Sailor Moon was airing on the local channel 13 in 1995. After a friend recommended it to me, I decided to check it out.
I don’t think I ever had a favorite Sailor Scout actually. I did love Luna though
Sailor Moon episode 59 (“Much Ado About Babysitting” in the English version) became the very first anime episode I ever watched. However, Sailor Moon came on at the inconvenient time of 7:30am weekday mornings, the time when I was usually on my way to school. But I was able to catch it once in a while, though I watched the episodes out of order and I still have yet to see the entire series. Even though I was young and ignorant back then, I could tell that there was something different about Sailor Moon compared to other cartoons I used to watch, not just the unique animation style, but also the way the story and characters were presented. Of course, I would not find out until years later that Sailor Moon was a show from Japan and had been heavily edited in its English release.
Samurai Pizza Cats Unfortunately, Sailor Moon was abruptly canceled from channel 13, but I quickly fell in love with the show that took its time slot, Samurai Pizza Cats.
The three Pizza Cats
By now I had a VCR that could record shows even when I wasn’t home, so I diligently taped all the episodes of SPC (wish I had saved them, though). I even watched reruns of all the episodes when they aired during the show’s year-long run from late 1995 to 1996. Like a lot of 90s TV anime, SPC was heavily edited and Americanized (however, most fans agree that the dub has its own unique charm). Of course, I didn’t know all this back then. But I could tell that the look and feel of Samurai Pizza Cats was similar to Sailor Moon. In my young ignorance, I simply thought that they were created by the same company or something, and had yet to find out that they were both anime from Japan.
Chapter 1 Conclusion The 1990s definitely comprised my childhood and showed early on how much I loved animation, games, and the art of collecting things – traits that would carry on to anime fandom. But at this point, I still had never heard of the word “anime.” I was just a shy but happy elementary school kid who loved cartoons and games, not knowing that some of them happened to be from Japan. However, things changed rapidly during my three years of middle school in the late 90s. Not only was I awakened from the ignorance of childhood bliss to sow the seeds that would dictate who I am today, but I finally did discover anime, all thanks to a certain and very conspicuous franchise…
My adventures with this franchise will be told in chapter 2 next time, though I’m sure most of you already know what it is.
Click here to go on to chapter 2.