How I Got into Anime

How I Got into Anime

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.

A photo of my childhood bedroom featuring Sailor Moon, Chibi Moon, and the Sailor Scouts

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!

TV Shows

  • 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

Movies

  • Your Name
  • Wolf Children
  • Summer Wars
  • Perfect Blue
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Spirited Away
  • Princess Mononoke
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Paprika
  • Hotarubi no Mori e
  • Tekkon Kinkreet

Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takada // Mini Review

This fast-paced graphic novel set in an alternate 1900s Asia will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. With nearly an entire cast of female characters, Monstress explores the world of a young woman who’s slowly realizing that her mother left her with a little gift. This novel is atmospheric. The illustrations were moody and dark with many gorey depictions. It’s kind of wild because in one scene, you’ll see this massive eye-filled monster devouring lives like they were Tic-Tacs, but then the next scene features a cute fox kid and so many cats. It was a nice balm to the more gruesome aspects of the novel.

I also really liked the Maiko. It was obvious from the story that she’s experienced some pretty tough times in her life only to head into more trouble and even more difficult times. I definitely felt her confusion and wanted to reach into the book and help her, which is always a good sign that I’m liking the character. It was also the main driving force of me reading the book.

While Monstress was a beautifully drawn world filled with wild monsters and super cute cats with a ton of tails, I wanted more. A lot of explanation kind of happened while you were reading, so there wasn’t much explanation on why things were happening or the importance and significance of those situations. There were interludes throughout the story that made room to explain, but even those were a lot of information at one time. While I’m not adverse to being dropped into a scene right at the beginning (I honestly thought I missed a prequel or something), I need the life substance of world building to really get me into the story.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu // Mini Review

If you love Hayao Miyazaki’s style, but with more magic, more autumn vibes, and a little sweet romance, then this is the graphic novel for you. I’m excited to share with you Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu.

For the most part, this was a sweet and very low stakes graphic novel. There’s some witchy things taking place, but also a lovely story about two young people who knew each other when they were kids and find themselves not only re-strengthing their friendship, but finding that they love each other too. SQUEE!!

The artistry in the graphic novel made me so happy. I loved seeing all the little forest creatures, the yummy mooncakes, and even Nova’s outfits! I loved that both Nova and Tam were their own people with Tam having a non-binary pronoun (with a little example of how to react when someone corrects their pronouns with you) and Nova is hearing impaired and does some cool things with her hearing aids. Their relationship seemed so comfortable, mutual in their attraction, and so sweet. You’ll definitely be smiling for the two of them.

The illustrations really caught my eye especially since the entire book has an Autumnal vibe to it. I mean, there’s even a mid-Autumn festival that Nova’s family has including mooncakes! It just made me want to wear my heavy sweaters, drink some hot tea or apple cider, and watch the leaves fall off the trees. It’s definitely the most cozy feeling I’ve ever had!

I really loved the magical elements in this book as well. It combined many of the different witch elements out there including flying broomsticks, magic wands, potions, sealing magic, and even a moment where they use a tracking spell! It felt very well-rounded when it came to magical usage even with the dark side of the magic.

The only thing I had an issue with is the plot. The beginning was a little bit clunky without any explanation on Tam’s return, their relationship with Nova, and then the reasons behind the bigger conflicts they face at the end of the book. I think that if there was more time spent trying to flesh out the plot building and conflict, then this would be a total winner.