So, ghostlighting and Riex did posts about the most influential anime to their fandom. I’m doing it to. Hopefully in some kind of order. There will be no Pokemon or DBZ here because I didn’t know they were anime, and there will be no Shounen Jump titles not because I didn’t like them, but because I was reading the manga of all of them and hated the anime thanks to censorship. This doesn’t effect the order of things much at all. So, how did this go exactly…
1. Ninja Scroll
I was 11 when I first saw Ninja Scroll. At the time, I wasn’t even aware it was anime, but I got into anime soon afterward and this was part of what had me hooked. My early anime years were entirely shared with my best friend and cousin, Funeral (who’s name I’m sure you’ve seen pop up here a lot.) At the time he was about 15 and we had another older cousin who we didn’t see much who was a big influence on everything we did and during one visit decided to show us Ninja Scroll. I had never been exposed to anything quite like this before. It’s not that my parents kept it from me, but I was always scared to death of things like blood and would never watch any violent movies. I had also never seen heavy sexual content beyond looking at my dad’s porn mags all the time. When we watched the first scene where the giant double-edged blade flies through the forest and cuts about 20 men to pieces I was instantly in love. A lot of this came from the fact that there was a Samurai Jack episode blatantly based on this movie that I had also loved. I can’t remember much of the film except for the really badass parts but at the time it was revolutionary and even more than me, it had a huge impact on Funeral who would start looking into anime. This happened to be no more than a week or so before the first episodes of a whole new sensation debuted….
2. Cowboy Bebop
I had no idea at the time, but I watched the first episode of Cowboy Bebop the very first time it ever aired on Cartoon Network. I hadn’t seen it from the beginning, just managed to catch it. The plot was a little more grown up than I could fully understand, and the episode’s end was sad. I was not used to this and didn’t really like it, but it captivated me somehow. Less than a two weeks later, Funeral told me about the newly begun (1 week) Adult Swim which had a bunch of anime on it. I had no concept of what anime was, but Adult Swim was a quick way to learn. Cowboy Bebop was my first ever favorite anime and would be for about a year. this would not have been possible, though, if it weren’t for the very first issue of Anime Invasion (later changed to Anime Insider.) Around the time of Adult Swim’s existence, Funeral bought the first volume of Anime Insider and we learned our first lessons from it. It talked about everything that was left out of the American Dragon Ball Z. It talked about all of the Gundam series. It gave an episode summary of every episode of Macross. Only about a month after Adult Swim began, I moved to Florida for about 5 months and didn’t see Funeral till I moved back, so my anime was held up by that Anime Invasion magazine and Adult Swim.
Honorable Mentions go to Yuu Yuu Hakusho and the later appearing Inu-Yasha which both took top spots for me but not for wholly different reasons as Cowboy Bebop (I’d shoot myself for comparing them now).
3. X/1999 – Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust – Blood: The Last Vampire
In the time that I had lived in Florida, Funeral had picked up Ninja Scroll on VHS (since he didn’t own a DVD player yet) and when we came back he started buying some more anime. Over the course of two or three months, he bought three anime movies – first Blood the Last Vampire, then X/1999, then Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust. All three were amazing and in retrospect a fucking excellent way to start off with anime. All have spectacular animation, directing, and are all widely regarded. That’s probably how Funeral found out about them, since he was a little better at researching than I was, though neither of us were great. X/1999 was my first ever favorite anime movie and probably the first ‘trippy’ thing I ever enjoyed. The scene where one guy is imploded was always my favorite anime moment.
4. Yu Yu Hakusho: Poltergeist Report – Mobile Suit Gundam Char’s Counterattack
In 2003 Funeral finally got a DVD player and the first 2 DVDs he bought were Char’s Counterattack and Poltergeist Report. Neither of them were my absolute favorites, though I was a huge Yu Yu Hakusho fan so the movie was a plus. However, this was the beginning of an era – 2003 pretty much entirely consisted of Funeral and I 9mostly him) buying anime DVDs. The two of us had NO concept of the fact that some people were watching anime in Japanese on the Internet. WE used magazines and websites like ANN and researched anime CONSTANTLY finding out all the new things to buy. Every weekend, Funeral would come to my house with 30 bucks he got for allowance and we’d go to Suncoast in the mall and buy a DVD. Then on Saturday we’d watch Adult Swim (and later the shows on the Saturday anime lineup Cartoon Network implemented) and later watch the DVD he bought. We were not particularly smart about the DVD purchases. We’d always buy volume one or two of a series and never continue from there, too distracted from the other series we wanted to check out. However we loved most of what we bought (not all, though) and our anime fandom kept growing and growing. Very early into this time I was also interested in what would become my ‘alltime favorite anime’ until I got out of anime altogehter.
5. Rurouni Kenshin
I may have had been into anime for a while by the time I got to Kenshin, and some of it I was very into. But none quite as deep as Kenshin. Kenshin was the first anime to have me plowing through fansites and reading character bios, looking for the theme songs online, buying an OST (best theme collection 2, the early prise of my collection.) It was also the first anime of which I’d ever buy a DVD – Volume Seven (I’d never be dumbfuck enough to buy a volume late in the series again). I bought volume seven because it had the first fight with Hajime Saito which had been the series highlight for me (I fucking loved Saito. Aku Soku ZAN! I had him as my first anime themed birthday cake.) The Samurai X OVAs were something beyond my comprehension. I’d never seen fights that badass before. Just to understand how ‘into’ anime Funeral and I were, we made an anime magazine or two, drew our own manga and fanart, etc (always under the name ‘OtakuSamurai’). I would compile HUGE lists of shit I wanted to buy (I still do) and of my favorites and stuff (some things never change). At the time I had thought that the two most popular anime in the universe were Hellsing and NGE and it was a huge goal of mine to see them. Some other shows I was really into around this time were Jing (my first manga series as well as a loved anime) .hack, s-cry-ed, and samurai deeper kyo. It was somewhere in this era that FLCL first aired on TV as well and I fucking loved it, and every time it would get re-aired on Adult Swim it was like an event. It should be noted also that I avoided anything with sexual content at the time out of some weird self-duty. I was also criminal for owning a bunch of DVDs I would never actually watch such as Lain and haibane which I would of course be glad I’d hung on to Way down the line. Another shout-out goes to Trigun which had started to overtake my favorite anime position as I was getting out of anime and for a while would be remembered as my favorite from that time. There were a bunch more I’m too lazy to remember. Eventually, though, Funeral got out of anime and sold a bunch of his DVDs and about 20 of them to me. I moved soon after and got out of anime myself, getting sucked into the world of video games. I later sold most of the shitty anime that I can’t believe I ever liked such as Kyo.
During the time I was into video games, I didn’t forget about anime altogether. I still caught some of the new anime that would air on Adult Swim like Samurai Champloo and FullMetal Alchemist, though I would never watch often enough to see every episode. The only one I can think of from then that I watched all of and loved was Paranoia Agent. In one of the houses I lived in then I went a long time without cable TV and money, so I couldn’t afford to play video games anymore. I got really into music after that and when I got back to having money it all went toward music. However, somewhere in the midst of it all, in 2006, I managed to watch one sole anime that didn’t even get me back into anime nor remind me of times past, but still revolutionized my perception of it altogether. I’d seen 8 episodes of it before, but this time I marathoned the entire series in excitement of being able to see it. You can guess what this anime was.
6. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Motherfucking Genesis Evan Motherfucking Gelion. I’ve talked enough on here about what and why Evangelion meant to me (hint: see Top 5 page). Evangelion was a universe-defining anime for me and while I didn’t go back to watching anime all the time after it, I was certainly curious about anime again afterward. Go read top 5 for the inspirational crap.
7. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
In December 2006, Haruhi was the very first anime I ever watched streamed, subbed, and online. I had seen anime in Japanese with subtitles plenty of times, but this was my first… FANSUB! And where did I watch it you ask? Youtube. That’s right. I thought the opening was supposed to start jittering at the space part. I didn’t learn better for a little while. Haruhi almost single-handedly reawakened me to anime. From episode one, it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen and I had never known that a show could combine genres so well and be both deep and shallow all at once and have so much fun. I watched it over the course of three or four days and afterward I became depressed because there wasn’t any more of it. I had never, like, rewatched anime at the time (besides the Adult Swim shows because they were rerun) so it didn’t occur to me to watch Haruhi again but it certainly left me with great wanting. At this time I was also reading a ton of Megatoko and started hanging out on the forums (though I stuck to the story discussions at first). Luckily in January 07 I happened to stumble in at the time of the Anime Grand Prix, a yearly character contest on Megatokyo and learned about something that was all the rage – Kanon. I watched all of Air and Kanon, both of which I completely loved, having never been exposed to drama or romance or moe before, and thus my love for anime was completely re-kindled. Some of the early anime I watched were Manabi Straight, Hidamari Sketch, and Nodame Cantabile (none of which I completed at the time due to slow subs.) i also finally got around to watching some of the DVDs I had been neglecting…
8. Serial Experiments Lain
From this point on, I won’t be talking about shows that got me deeper into anime so much as those that broadened my horizons. Of the series I owned but never had watched, there was my Kino no Tabi complete collection, the first 2 DVDs of Haibane Renmei, and the first DVD of Lain. I loved all of these, but I’d not manage to complete my Haibane collection for almost another year. Lain, however, upon watching, drove me to collect the rest of it and complete it as soon as possible. I could say that Lain pushed me down the hallways I’d been lead to by Evangelion. I had never realized that anime could be something that spoke to me as a person until Evangelion, and Lain was the first show that didn’t need an exciting action plot and relatable characters to do it. I had always shied away from artsy anime in the past mostly because they weren’t as exciting, but I was a very different person now and Lain was the kind of thing I was looking for. Lain got me interested in anime that would really challenge my psyche (though unfortunately no other would do so to such a level.) I’d say Mushi-shi also definitely helped in these early days to make me appreciate more contemplative, down-to-earth stories.
9. Hidamari Sketch – Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
I have known about creators, to some extent, forever. It’s pretty easy to figre out that the name on the spine of your favorite manga is like a map to other good manga, and I had been made aware of a handful of directors. I knew show Hideaki Anno was, I had been very well exposed to Shinnichiro Watanabe (Funeral was always much more appreciative of directors than I and CB was always his favorite anime) and Yoshitoshi ABe was not alien to me. However, Hidamari Sketch introduced me to the first director who would really make me take notice of the director. Akiyuki Motherfucking Shinbo. I had seen his name thrown around (namely by Wildarmsheero) as the show aired and after the unbelievably spectacular episode 5 (still one of the greatest episodes of anime ever) the name took on menaing. Even moreso when I found out he had directed the Soultaker. The Soultaker was one of the many DVDs Funeral had sold me from way back that I had always thought was okay and we were obsessed with the opening theme (fucking JAM Project) but I had never given the show much thought. Suddenly the stylish visuals I remembered had meaning. This came full circle when Shinbo’s next show, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, started airing and was semi-instantly one of my favorites (another I had a birthday cake of). Akiyuki Shinbo became my favorite director and opened my eyes to creators altogether.
After this point, I will still point these things out but note that right here, May 2007, is where this blog began, so if you look back (yeah, right) you’ll see where these influences took effect.
I want to throw out an honorable mention here to Welcome to the NHK for influencing me to start changing my favorites list regularly. I was always one to aspire to ‘alltime favorites’ that couldn’t be altered, but I liked NHK so much I eventually grew the balls to put it ahead of NGE.
10. Manabi Straight – Hitohira
These anime taught me that not only could anime reflect my life, help my thought process along, etc, but that it could actually literally effect my life as a whole. This trend would continue with shows such as ef, Arjuna, and Otaku no Video – see Top 5 for more about that. For Manabi and Hitohira, read my fuckin blog. My Manabi and Hitohira posts have always been my favorite.
Individual Genre Importance (in order I became able to accept/get into them, for those not covered above):
Shoujo: Revolutionary Girl Utena and Kare Kano
Moe/loli/things with girls: Lucky Star and all aforementioned early 07 shows
Yuri: Simoun, Hitohira, and Marimite
Otaku Interest: Genshiken, and then later more extreme wit Otaku no Video
First Downloaded Anime: Well there were a bunch. I want to say… Shana?
Truly Dark: Texhnolyze, Baccano, Black Lagoon, and Gunslinger Girl
Things I Never Thought I’d Watch: Ouran, CardCaptors Sakura, Princess Tutu
Life Assessment: NHK, Nana, Honey and Clover, etc.
80s Anime: Space Adventure Cobra
Hentai: Moonlight Lady, Imouto Jiru
Straight Hentai (as opposed to yuri): Stringendo and Accelerando Ultimatum Sera
No Boundaries: Tokyo Akazukin
Yeah, a lot. But most of the tings I like, I like because they had an impact on me. Anway, I think I covered everything. Good fun. Cheerie-o