Just as popular culture shapes society, anime and manga has been a major influence in my life. It began as a simple source of entertainment, but over time it came to mean so much more and became a way of life. Besides years of entertainment, anime has provided me with new ideas, a catalyst for meeting new people, inspiration for projects, and a welcome distraction during dark days of depression. Without anime, I would not be the person that I am today.
My goal is to chronicle the anime that I have followed, a trip down memory lane. My memory isn’t that great, so I worried that I might miss a series or get dates wrong. I turned to the Internet to research all the anime that I have ever watched so that I could write a series of posts listing the anime I followed, with my thoughts, comments and memories of them. When I say “followed”, I am referring to anime that I watched as it was released, or aired on TV. There are many more anime series that I have watched after it had finished airing, but to blog about all of them would take a very long time. I plan to divide my posts by year and season, depending on how many series I need to cover.
So to start things off, let’s go to the year 1999 where it all began…
Neon Genesis Evangelion
I don’t remember the exact date or month, but it would have been early 1999 when SBS began airing an advertisement (see the above video) for Neon Genesis Evangelion. I was intrigued by the use of the song “Ode To Joy” and the fact that it was animated, but giant robots didn’t really interest me, so I initially had no intention of watching.
On the other hand, my brother liked giant robots, so I ended up watching the first episode with him, although I think I missed the first half of the episode. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Prior to watching Neon Genesis Evangelion for the first time, all the animation/cartoons that I had watched was tailored towards children. This was a new experience, and I was hooked.
For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon that was Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Wikipedia page explains the plot better than I ever could. The mecha genre still doesn’t interest me, but what I loved about the series is the characters and the story. I had to keep watching, I had to find out what happens next.
It seemed like an eternity, waiting for the days to pass before a new episode aired. I had just started high school, and during my lunch breaks I would go to the library and use the Internet to look up information about the series, and downloaded pictures which I would save onto floppy disks to take home. The series originally aired in Japan in 1995, so there were already a lot of websites available which analysed and discussed the series in great depth, and I would try to read as much as I could. I also stumbled across an excellent Neon Genesis Evangelion fan fiction called Eva-R. I used to print out chapters of the fan faction to read at home (we didn’t have Internet at home back then).
I ended up missing a few episodes because my family and I travelled overseas to Malaysia and Thailand while Neon Genesis Evangelion was still airing on SBS, but we returned before it ended its run on TV. I eventually caught up on the episodes I missed by borrowing the VHS tapes from the video store. Floppy disks? VHS? Video stores? Yes, it feels like a completely different era, and yet it was only 15 years ago.
I pretty much lived and breathed Evangelion during those days. I had set the home computer desktop wallpaper to an image of Rei Ayanami holding the Lance of Longinus. Rei Ayanami is my favourite character from Neon Genesis Evangelion because I related more to her quiet and serious personality. I drew fan art of Evangelion characters and even dabbled in making my own fan website. It would be fair to say that it is thanks to Neon Genesis Evangelion that I began my interest in web development and programming.
Years later, I now have collected the entire series on DVD (platinum edition), plus the Death and Rebirth movies, as well as the remake movies that were released recently. I also purchased a small Rei Ayanami figurine, but I would really like to buy a larger one. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the fourth and final remake movie.
Technically, Neon Genesis Evangelion was not the first anime I ever watched, before that there was Doraemon, Dragonball, Samurai Pizza Cats, etc… but Neon Genesis Evangelion was the spark that lit my fiery passion for anime, and that passion was further inflamed in the year 2001 when SBS aired another not-for-little-kids anime series:
Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040
I remember watching Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 on SBS and eagerly awaiting the next episode each week. Again I was drawn to the futuristic setting, the characters and the story. In addition to continuing to scour the world wide web for more information about Neon Genesis Evangelion, I was now immersing myself in information about Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. The series is a remake of Bubblegum Crisis which was originally released in the late 80’s (Tokyo 2040 was released in the late 90’s). To this day, I have never watched the original Bubblegum Crisis because I find the 80’s character design off putting.
While I greatly enjoyed this series, and often borrowed the VHS tapes from the video store, I don’t think I was as passionate about this series as I was was Neon Genesis Evangelion. For one, I don’t recall drawing any fan art of Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. Nevertheless, I consider it an interesting sci-fi series and eventually purchased it on DVD too.
When Neon Genesis Evangelion and Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 ended their run on SBS, besides series aimed at children airing on weekday mornings on channel 10, I didn’t follow any other anime series until the year 2003, when access to dial-up Internet at home and fast Internet at univerity opened up a whole new world of possibilities, which will be the topic of my next post.