The Inuyasha anime series ended in September 2004, although the manga series would continue on for a few more years. I was no longer following an ongoing anime series. Instead, with my new found access to relatively fast Internet at university, I spent much time downloading anime series that had already completed their run on TV, too many series to remember. Meanwhile, with the Inuyasha manga series continuing on, my interest in Inuyasha continued, which lead me to discover that the time slot that Inuyasha used to air in had inevitably been replaced with a new anime series. And that series was: Yakitate!! Japan
An anime series about bread?! Not only was I intrigued by the unusual premise, many others were commenting that this series was hilariously funny and entertaining. This I had to see…
Initially I downloaded the series via torrents at home on my excruciatingly slow dial-up Internet, but was later able to find direct downloads that I could download while at university. I was not disappointed. This series is indeed highly entertaining, interesting and funny. I found the second ending theme especially amusing:
Better believe in yourself!
Yakitate!! Japan follows the adventures of a boy who dreams of reaching his goal of creating the ultimate bread that is representative of Japan. The entertainment value of this series is more than just the unusual choice of subject matter. The series is heavy on puns and over-the-top and downright insane reactions that people have to bread, with a sprinkling of interesting information about bread and food in general.
I also downloaded the original manga series, which in my opinion was funnier than the anime adaptation. I enjoyed the series so much that I purchased the entire manga series, and with the news that the anime series has been licensed for release in English, I’ll be sure to buy that too. As much as I enjoyed Yakitate!! Japan, it didn’t inspire the same fervent obsession that I had with Neon Genesis Evangelion or Inuyasha. There was no fan art or obsessive scouring of the Internet for titbits of information. Still, I would highly recommend this series to anyone who likes a bit of goofy fun.
With a total of 69 episodes, Yakitate!! Japan aired on TV in Japan from 12 October 2004 to 14 March 2006. I downloaded every single episode as it was released by fansubbers. While Yakitate!! Japan continued its run, I continued to download completed series which were highly recommended by others, but I also began to explore fresh new series, enter the year 2005…
We take it for granted that if we want to watch a TV show, we can simply search it up on the Internet and within an hour, sometimes within minutes, we would have found and downloaded what we wanted to watch (with questionable legality). A decade ago, things were not so easy. First of all it wasn’t easy finding what you wanted, and secondly it took a very, very, very, VERY long time to download video files.
Today I am re-visiting the year 2003 (to 2004), and it is all about Inuyasha. I was crazy for Inuyasha (the series, not the character, Sesshoumaru and Kikyou were my favourite characters).
Back then, my Internet access came in the form of dial-up Internet, which compared to the Internet speeds I enjoy now, dial-up Internet was extremely slow, unbearably slow, impossibly slow. Nevertheless, with much patience, I scoured the Internet for anime-related videos to download. But given how slow the Internet was, I mainly ended up downloading anime music videos (AMV, music videos which use clips/footage from anime).
During my high school years, I was well and truly hooked on manga (perhaps a topic for another day) with the works of Rumiko Takahashi my favourites. Back then, Inuyasha was Rumiko Takahashi’s latest work. During my search for anime related videos, I came across several Inuyasha anime music videos. There was one Inuyasha AMV that stood out to me because of its relatively high quality (for that era) and excellently executed timing. Plus it showed many familiar scenes that I had seen in the manga. This prompted me to seek out more than just anime music videos that featured snippets of footage. I wanted to see whole episodes.
I don’t remember if this started in late 2003 or early 2004, I just can’t remember when, but one day, I discovered BitTorrent. Initially I was baffled at how BitTorrent worked. I found websites that seemingly had treasure troves of full anime episodes, and oh my goodness! The video files were only a few kilobytes large?! But I soon learned that I could not play .torrent file, and that I needed to use a BitTorrent client, but given how slow dial-up Internet was, I was tempted to give up. Eventually with much time and patience, I finally downloaded one episode of Inuyasha. It took several days to complete the download, and we’re talking file sizes of on average 180MB.
Again, I don’t remember which episode it was, but I do remember that the opening theme was “Grip!”…
…and the ending theme was “Itazurana Kiss”…
…which according to Wikipedia, would mean that the very first episode of Inuyasha that I downloaded all those years ago would have been one of episodes 109 to 127. Although it took days, sometimes a week and a bit, to download just one episode, I needed more. I would try to download the latest episode whenever I could, but given how long it took to download via dial-up Internet, I ended up missing a few episodes here and there. Although I already knew what would happen in the series because I had been following the source manga, I eagerly awaited the release of each episode. I had also downloaded all the movies, except the first one, and using dial-up Internet to download a 3GB video file… it was the ultimate test of patience lasting weeks.
During those years, I also attempted to make my own anime music videos primarily using footage from Inuyasha. All of the AMVs I made, I now consider highly embarrassing and I would never actively show anyone my poor attempts at video editing. My horribly unoriginal and unprofessional work from a decade ago can still be found online if anyone can be bothered to search for them.
Something that I sucked slightly less at was fan art. Back then I was proud to show off my work, but now I feel embarassed at what an amateur I am. After locating a folder of my old drawings, this is the only one I’m least embarrassed to show: my favourite character, Kikyou
Inuyasha and its fandom had a great impact on my life, I was obsessed with it, consumed by it. But as a large chunk of that impact was the result of the Inuyasha manga, rather than the anime adaptation, I won’t go into too much detail now (again, this is probably best left for a topic of another blog post). When the anime was released on DVD, I had initially aimed to collect all the boxsets, but I only ended up buying the first few, which to this day I have not watched. I much prefer the Inuyasha manga over the anime adaptation.
To finish this post off, here is the ending theme for the first episode: My Will
The same song was also used for the ending theme of the final episode:
However, it wasn’t really the end of the story. Five years later, another 26 episodes of Inuyasha would be released, which I will discuss further when I reach the year 2009 in my series of anime history blog posts. With the transition from high school in 2003 to my first year of university in 2004, came the joyous freedom of fast Internet at university, and the discovery of direct download websites offering a huge library of anime series. My anime world was about to get much, much bigger.
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.