So I’m sitting in my friends dorm room my Freshmen year, and I’d been staring at his manga collection for a bit (as I had been every time we hung out). He let me check some stuff out, so I randomly grabbed the first volume of Claymore, and got to reading. I found out that there was an anime version of it, so once I finished a chapter or two I ended up watching and later finishing the series. His favorite anime at the time was Cowboy Bebop, so he immediately recommended it to me since I enjoyed my first anime. So I checked out a few episodes of the dub.
A week later, I found myself in his room again babbling about how great the series was because I wasted no time finishing it.
I’ve been an anime fan ever since.
Animated Beginnings: Films to Series
By the time this event happened, I’d already been an animation fan that had been interested in anime. I’d seen some anime films here and there (Grave of the Fireflies was one of my favorite films), but I didn’t know anything about the scope of anime. So I started learning about more anime beyond the films I’d heard of. I knew briefly of films like Sword of the Stranger, Akira, and Mamoru Hosoda. But I had no idea who Satoshi Kon or Makoto Shinkai was, and I wasn’t even aware of Redline.
I still love films more than I do television series, and this is still true for anime. I prefer seeing a whole story in one piece than in increments of time, so when I got into anime I had to familiarize myself with the medium of television. I started searching for recommendations for any series that sounded interesting. It was kind of odd to have to not learn the whole story in one sitting, but I got more adjusted to it.
What made the transition easier was the realization that anime series can be wrapped up pretty easy. 13 or 26 episodes became easy for me to do, since I rarely watched live action television for multiple seasons (on my own). As I got used to college life, using 50 minutes of time to watch 2 or so anime episodes became easy for me. This was probably what kickstarted my interest and experience with anime series.
This was when I mostly watched English dubs, since I mostly
was spoiled by Disney’s work on Studio Ghibli dubs had no experience in languages other than English. I watched Claymore and Bebop dubbed, as I did with many shows to follow. I experienced Soul Eater and Spice & Wolf dubbed, the latter of which was the first anime I ever called my favorite.
I didn’t stay like this for too long, because I finally got adjusted to subtitles with shows like Baccano! (whose dub I fell in love with on rewatch), Steins;Gate, and Toradora!
Subtitles: Literally reading into my media
The single biggest reason I watch more anime subbed then dubbed is because there is far more anime that isn’t dubbed, and I don’t want to exclude the chance of missing out on great shows because of that. When I started the realize the scale of how much anime exists, and how much my previous statement applies to it, is when I started teaching myself how to read subs.
Subtitles aren’t easy for newcomers to anime, and it is a noticeable barrier for people wanting to get into anime. The only way to really deal with subtitles for beginners is just watching subs, and getting used to it. I realized there really was no other way around it. Once I finally got used to it, I started to recognized the advantages that they hold. Reading out dialogue (mentally) in my head forces me to pay attention to the anime’s story. It’s impossible for me to look away or goof off while the series is playing. This helped me learn to understand the medium of anime, and most importantly, analyze it.
This became helpful when I started expanding my animation tastes into other foreign films. Once I could finally keep my attention on the animation and dialogue at the same time, it became so much easier to dig around to find animation to watch. Now that my eyes can switch between words and the story while I watch subs, I can also start to develop ideas about animation and find my favorite anime because of it.
Changing my Taste: How I got into “girly” anime
Before I got into animation, I focused a lot on live-action film. My favorite genre for any story was easily parody. Films like SpaceBalls, Young Frankenstein, and Top Secret were cherished to me. Once I started getting into anime, this became sidelined to other genres I found myself marathoning.
Probably the biggest change in genre taste for me came in Slice of Life anime, which is likely no surprise to anyone who’s familiar with me. This stemmed from my love for anime films like Wolf Children, and shows with romance like Say, “I Love You”, Lovely Complex, and True Tears. All of these shows helped set the standard for my taste in (what have now become) my 3 favorite genres in anime; Romance, Slice of Life, and Drama.
Through these shows, I realized that a lot of well-known romance are part of the shoujo demographic. Shoujo anime/manga are marketed towards younger girls that I, as a young adult male, became a big fan of. This eventually lead me to discover my now favorite anime Ouran High School Host Club which I discussed on this blog the instant I started watching it.
Eventually I was lead to the world of josei anime/manga, which markets towards older women. In terms of the major anime demographics (shonen, seinen, shoujo, josei, and kids), josei is easily my favorite. Josei anime such as Kids on the Slope, Bunny (Usagi) Drop, and Princess Jellyfish are all currently in my Top 10 favorite shows, as well as Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu which many (including me) considered the best anime of last year.
It’s not as though this is all the anime I am or was interested in. Soon after I watched Bebop, I followed up by watching other “popular” series such as Steins;Gate, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Spice & Wolf. I even tried my hand in older
series like Ah! My Goddess which is still one of my favorite franchises in media. Around this time I found my first true “Favorite Anime” in Baccano! which held the title of my favorite series until my 2nd viewing of Ouran Host Club (In fairness, Baccano! is still my #2 anime).
Overall, I went from a screwball/parody comedy fan to a Slice of Life drama fan over the course of all my anime experience. I try and watch anime from a wide variety of genre’s to find more shows. Genre experimentation has led me to shows I adore such as The Tatami Galaxy, Wandering Son, Ping Pong the Animation, Working!!!, and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. However, this is far from the most important knowledge I gained from spending the last 2 years in the anime fandom.
Anime Consumption: Streams and DVDs
When I started watching anime in my dorm, I didn’t have cable so I was forced to stream everything on my computer. This was fine by me since I rarely watched stuff on cable as it was. I wasn’t aware that the sites I used to use were pirating sites, and I ended up switching off of them once I found it out. The biggest reason this happened was because I started learning a lot about the anime streaming market, and the dangers of piracy. As I started learning more and more anime, I tried to make it my mission to keep everything on legal sites. In doing this, I found a lot more content that I never expected to find and enjoy.
I’m still surprised sometimes how large both Funimation and Crunchyroll’s catalogs are, which is why I am loving VRV so much since I get to literally see the best of both worlds (except I can’t find Trigun on there, which has been recommended to me a lot). This kind of exploration taught me a lot about international anime licenses, which has become an interest of mine for a potential career path.
I had a DVD collection that I started for animated films, and I started eventually adding a lot of anime to that collection. My animation collection as it stands now is probably half-anime (between series and films). When I was in Honolulu, I had little trouble finding places to buy cool DVDs. Still, I’m not fully on top of my collection because I still haven’t watched a fair amount of content that I’ve bought (such as Fruits Basket, Ninja Scroll, Afro Samurai, and Wind Named Amnesia). One of my prize possessions is my Complete Collection for Baccano! which I bought a few months before the license expired.
As I started slowly becoming an anime fan, I knew that I would slowly have to dive into the single most fascinating aspect of the anime world.
Knowing myself, I figured that I would have a good time with the anime fandom. I was used to these big media fandoms with my past and vast experience in Pokémon. There was no way for me to tell if anime was going to be the same for me or not, but I found myself happy with the change of pace. Anime was how I eventually learned about reddit due to the r/anime subreddit, which was a huge help in expanding my taste in anime and anime knowledge. I still get a lot of perspective about the anime world through my time I spend there, and have met a lot of cool people from it.
In my personal life, I’m fairly open about my love for anime and constantly seek out people to discuss it with. I feel like I bring out the true otaku in people when I meet them, because these conversations tend to got from zero to one hundred once the anime connection is established. It’s always a fun discussion point with people because I’m endlessly curious about what people know in anime (do they just watch popular shonens? do they know crazy underrated stuff? do they know about the market and the industry?), and of course what everyone’s favorites are.
This is multiplied tenfold at anime conventions. I’ve only had the opportunity to attend 2 years of Kawaii Kon in Hawaii, but now that I’m back on the mainland I hope to attend a whole lot more. In this time I met a few of my favorite dub voices such as J. Micheal Tatum and Vic Mignogna. Between fan panels and industry information panels, I’ve greatly enjoyed my experiences at conventions.
As I march forward in the world of anime, these are a lot of my ideas that I hope to develop and study. I hope to watch more anime masterpieces and learn about the industry. I hope to meet more anime fans and tell them to watch Baccano! and Ouran. I hope to find more stuff worthy of writing on this blog and presenting in other mediums for discussion.
It’s been a good 2 years, and I hope this continues forward. This has been Animated Monologues, and I have been AniMo. Have an animated day.