This is a blog post I originally wrote about a year ago when I was just starting to make Emina on goanimate.com. It lists and details a lot of anime I've watched over the years and is pretty extensive. So if you're a fan of anime, you're going to love this entry. And if you just want to see what helped inspire me over the years to become a story teller, then you might find this interesting and insightful as well.
Originally Written May 3rd, 2013:
Warning...this is going to be a pretty long entry, and as the title suggests, it's all about Animé. If that's not your cup of tea, I'll just go ahead and say, see you next week!
In honor of my new series ÉMINA (pronouced ay-min-ah), this entry shall formally be known as my personal history with Anime. What I've watched, what I liked, what I didn't really care for. Or I guess you could call it the product placement entry. Either way, I feel it's kind of important to explain my reasonings for why I chose this particular style of art to tell the story of my own animated works.
I guess I have to start at the beginning. The year was 1993, and I was a young tyke of 7 years of age who had been fortunate enough to get satellite television for the first time at the house we had moved into. Along with that satellite service came the channel of television known as Cartoon Network. Along with that came its reruns of old Hanna Barbera cartoons like the Jetsons, the Flintstones, Yogi Bear Top Cat, Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel, Space Ghost, Birdman,...as well as other legendary animated fixings like the Looney Toons and all that they had to offer.
Then there was this curious oddity that would air from time to time at certain times of night. I had no idea what it was about...something about a guy who raced cars, got into fights with international gangsters, had the occasional run-in with his long thought dead brother...and he had this amazing car that could jump over obstacles? I had no idea what the point of the show was, or where the story was heading, but wow was that theme song ever catchy!
One thing I always hoped to see in Speed Racer was the fights Speed would often get into while he was he off the tracks. Either investigating something or the other, or trying to save Trixie, I was just in the mood for some beat-em-up action because honestly (and I know this is blasphemy to speak) but the races in the show just didn't do it for me. Even back then I just figured 'well, Speed's the star of the show, so why would he lose?' So because of that mentality I just wasn't that interested in principle part of the show.
I guess growing up with 80's martial arts movies and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had kind of instilled in me a desire to see some fighting scenes in my after school cartoon programming. Complete with a moral lesson tacked on at the end!
My brothers would actually argue that my first true anime experience was Voltron, but I had very vague and fuzzy memories of that show, so it wasn't something I really grew up on. Speed Racer was something I actively wanted to see, even if Cartoon Network would air some of the episodes out of order or if I forgot to actually stay up long enough to see if the show was on at night.
Next up, let's skip ahead about 2 years. It's 1995 and I'm 9 years old and United Paramount Network has just launched (remember I'm in Southern California). They occasionally air cartoons every now and then, and once again a strange but new (to me anyway) offering is on the air that grabs my attention. Having been used to watching the evil sorceress Rita Repulsa menace the Power Rangers (followed up by the diabolical Lord Zedd) for a few years, it came as no surprise to me that I would become completely entranced by the offerings of Sailor Moon.
And again, the theme song was so gosh darn catchy!
Okay so that's not the "original" American version of the Sailor Moon theme song, but its by far my favorite version of the song. Thanks to the people responsible for Sailor Moon Abridged for making me aware of that techno remix!
Sailor Moon had a lot of things going for it that I really liked. Cute girls with their own unique storylines, a monster of the week enemy that had to be defeated, and an evil queen who had a long term plan conquer mankind. And all from the negaverse! UPN only showed the first series, Sailor Moon, but then later showed some of Sailor Moon R, and I'm not sure if they went on to show Sailor Moon S or not, but by that time, I had already moved on to other things. Namely, the Nintendo 64, my growing fascination with FanFiction, and a little show called, Pokémon...
This was the first anime show that I turned into a complete fanboy over. I never bought the trading cards, but in 1998, when I first caught wind of this show, one of the first things I was able to do was to go out and get a Game Boy Pocket (and any of you who were born in the mid 90s are probably thinking 'what the heck is a Game Boy Pocket?!') and snagged a copy of Pokémon Blue. I loved every bit about Ash's journey in the Indigo and when he finally got to the Championship rounds, I was completely on edge.
Every evolution, every battle, I felt like I was right there cheering Ash on. And of course, with my game boy adventures, I had some fun of my own. I was so into the show that when the 2BA Master music CD came out, I definitely used some of allowance to go and buy it. Favorite track on that CD? Viridian City!
After the Orange Island stuff, I really fell out of love with the show. I hated the cast changes, and the fact that Ash. Kept. Giving. Away. His. STRONGEST. POKEMON! I could go into a bit of a mini rant there about the absurdity of that aspect of the show, but it's not worth going into some 13 or so years later...
Need to backtrack here a moment for some honorable mentions. As I said in the pilot episode of Super Starving Writer, I was a gamer long before I really got into anything else, and Street Fighter was chief amongst those many memories I have of playing games in the 16-bit era. So naturally when I got wind of Street Fighter 2 The Animated Movie via one of the many video game magazines I used to read (could have been Game Pro but I'm betting it was Electronic Gaming Monthly), I had to see it.
We rented it one day from this local video shop on the less populated side of our town, popped in the VHS (yeah, remember those?) and sat down for some amazing martial arts animé action!
The best fight to me, from that movie, was Ryu vs Fei Long. Chun Li vs Vega was a bit too bloody for my tastes (as I say that and remember that Ryu split open Sagat's chest in the first battle of the movie), and Vega licking the blood off of his claw was just friggin creepy, but I did enjoy seeing Chun Li kick his face in...and then through the wall. Talk about a "fatality!"
Next up for honorable mentions is the Sonic OVA. Again as was mentioned in Super Starving Writer #1, I'm a big Sonic fan. This movie though was a bit...well, odd. It was produced not too long after Sonic CD came out (though it didn't get a USA release until 1999) and I don't even remember much of the story to even recap it. But still, I came away from this entry feeling like I had read better Sonic fanfiction the storyline the writers cooked up here.
Still, the battle with Metal Sonic was still pretty cool!
Thankfully, by the time the year 2000 rolled around, I had discovered Toonami and saw that they were airing some pretty cool stuff. I won't beat around the bush here, it was Dragon Ball Z!
I have seen every episode and every movie of Dragon Ball Z. The first episode I saw of it was actually the movie Dead Zone. But the storyline that forever hooked me into the show for all of time, was the Namek/Frieza Saga. The Saiyan Saga was pretty freakin awesome, with it's over 9,000's and Kaiokens, but it was the menace of Frieza and Gohan and Krillin's desperate race against time and multiple foes for the Namekian Dragon Balls that kept me on the edge of my seat day after day.
I'm not sure if I saw Goku transform into a Super Saiyan either during the normal progression of the story or if it was during one of the many flashbacks displayed during the sagas airing, but when that moment happened all I can remember was grinning from ear to ear. I really respected that achievement in his character as an incredible moment and realization of a power that he could use to save his friends and family. And I'm sure we've all pretended we could transform like that during occasions of deep stress, fear, or anxiety.
I continued to watch DBZ all the way through the Buu saga and of course watched of all of Dragon Ball when Toonami aired that. I didn't care for the Buu saga that much but it still had some amazing moments. The Super Saiyan 3 transformation scene being a personal highlight for me out of all of that.
After DBZ there was a great influx of anime being aired not only on Toonami but network television as well. I did my best to keep up with some of it, or at least what my friends online had recommended, so I'll just mention some of the shows/movies that I had seen in those years of my being a teenager until about 2 years ago, when I began to pursue a slightly different writing career in life.
Gundam Wing was my introduction to the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise. Thanks to previous series/movies like Godzilla, Power Rangers, Voltron (which was now airing its 3D incarnation Voltron The Third Dimension) I was very much into the idea of people fighting each other in humanoid looking robots. So Gundam Wing was just pure joy for me to watch from beginning to end during its 49 episode run. The enemies kept changing, the nature of the protagonists' desires and goals kept changing, even some of the villains changed their allegiances, all the way up to the spectacular conclusion.
No, I'm not going to just allude to it, I need you to see this, just in case you haven't! Just look at this!
From then on I continued to catch whatever incarnation of Mobile Suit Gundam that Toonami would air. While I do appreciate just about everything that the Universal Century storyline produced, I think the one that affected me the most was Char's Counterattack.
Of course at the time this aired, Toonami/Adult Swim had been unable to get Zeta Gundam or ZZ Gundam (I think they're still working on that one) to be shown, so a lot of the story that explained Char's character progression from MSG to Char's Counterattack was unknown unless you looked it up somewhere. Still, I enjoyed the movie's cinematic level animation and the menacing storyline of Char's plan to end all life on Earth. It was really an event for me and helped me to see that I could have an emotional connection to the Mobile Suit Gundam franches beyond Gundam Wing and Endless Waltz.
Technically not an animé, Rival Schools the game employed an anime art style to its characters, boasted an intriguing and involving storyline for its massive cast of fighters, and of course had those excellent intro and ending videos that would play to really lure you into its world. I have a lot of fun memories playing this game, putting different teams together, and being thoroughly entertained from beginning to end no matter which character I was focusing on. This game came into my life at about the same time that Pokémon did so its nestled nicely in between the time I experienced both that show and Dragon Ball Z ('98 through '2000).
Tenchi Muyo was the next anime series I became somewhat invested in. While not as heavily as either Pokemon or DBZ, I still came to greatly enjoy the rather manic stories the Tenchi universe had to tell when it came to its cast of potential love interests for Tenchi, as well as the mysteries of his parentage. Speaking of Tenchi Universe, that incarnation of the show became my favorite. Rollicking sci-fi adventures across space and time have always grabbed my interest since I was very young and Tenchi Universe had that in abundance.
That and a harem filled with more cute anime girls than Tenchi could handle!
I don't remember when exactly that Cowboy Bebop came into my life, but am I ever glad that it did. Others more qualified than me have gone on to express quite beautifully how much this series meant to animé fans, animé in general, how masterfully the stories and the music were put together...just so many things done right. The Real Folk Blues is probably one of the only times I've even shed a tear while watching the show or even just hearing the final musical track, Blue, as the series came to an end. It was nigh Animé perfection.
After this I wasn't able to keep up with animé as much as I would have liked to. I really began to study film and film history, as well as becoming more in touch with my inner Godzilla and Star Wars nerd. So while I didn't pay that much attention to anime during those years (from about 2002 to 2010), I still caught glimpses of other series and movies every now and then.
Here's a few clips of some notable ones.