Since this is the year I finally start to read graphic novels and manga on the regular, I thought I would give you a rundown of my experience with anime thus far. While I’ve watched anime since I was 13 years old, I never read the manga. It wasn’t hard to come by, but as a kid with little money I couldn’t easily go to the store and buy the next in the series. The library didn’t have them, so most of my introduction into this world was through anime.
It all started with a song. I was listening to the pop hit “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies back in 1998 and because the lyrics are pretty dense in the song (if you haven’t heard it, you can listen to it here), I took a look at the song lyrics to see what they were saying.
There was one lyric that made me confused because it was something I hadn’t heard of before that time. The lyric goes:
Gotta get in tune with Sailor Moon Cause that cartoon has got the boom anime babes
I asked myself “what is Sailor Moon?”
So I took my little 13-year-old self to the library to look up what Sailor Moon was. At that time, we didn’t have Internet in the house, so I had to go to the library to use the Internet for free. When I looked it up, my eyes were opened. It feels like any classic scene where the pupils of someone’s eye dilate with the new information they’re bringing in. I knew Sailor Moon was something I would very much be into, but it being 1998 I wasn’t sure how I would get Sailor Moon to watch it and see for myself.
Thank you, Toonami, for running the Sailor Moon series that made it to the US. Every afternoon at 4pm, I would stop doing homework, make myself a snack, snuggle up in my parents’ bed, and watch the 30 minutes of Sailor Moon.
I was completely enchanted.
This was the anime that opened up the world of Japanese anime for me. After finishing watching Sailor Moon, I went to the local Blockbuster (good grief, I’m this old) and picked up Vampire Princess Miyu. Let me tell you how that story solidified anime for me for the rest of my life. I mean, I used to have an AIM screen-name using some variant of VPM in its name. I was obsessed.
Looking back on it now, I think the draw for me was the fact that Sailor Moon was a lot like me; a young 13-year-old girl who was not the best at school and had a massive destiny ahead of me. There were so many times when I was a kid where I wished a mysterious black cat with a crescent moon scar on her forehead would come and tell me that I needed to save the world. I also loved that Usagi (aka Serena when I was growing up) wasn’t your typical character. She was lazy. She read more manga and ate junk food than actually did homework. She didn’t even fight most of the time and instead did a lot of crying than backing down. But when it counted, she delivered and it really did something to me.
My love for anime was definitely recognized by my parents and whenever they took trips to Korea or China, they would also bring back little trinkets and toys they found with Sailor Moon all over them. I was not only able to watch my favorite TV show, but I was also allowed to be a fan. From that moment, I wanted to find more shows and movies similar to this and my love for the genre just soared for years after.
Similar to my reading life, the kinds of anime I usually get into are filled with fantasy and science fiction. Although, I do love a cute shojo every once in a while, I tend to lean on hero’s journeys, ensemble casts, and lots and lots of action and adventure. If you’re looking to get into anime or want to know some of my recommendations, I’ve listed a few below!
- Attack on Titan
- Soul Eater
- Assassination Classroom
- Vampire Princess Miyu
- Naruto and Naruto Shippuden
- Sailor Moon
- Ouran Host Club
- Fruits Baskets
- Kaguya-Sama: Love is War
- Clannad and Clannad After Story
- Kill La Kill
- Your Name
- Wolf Children
- Summer Wars
- Perfect Blue
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- Spirited Away
- Princess Mononoke
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Hotarubi no Mori e
- Tekkon Kinkreet