12 October 2011

My History with Anime

Fellow blogger Nopy has started a project back in February encouraging like-minded bloggers to share their own histories on watching anime. Many have shared their colourful experiences on it, and how anime has become part of their life now.

My history is nothing as amazing as those I have read so far, but I thought I will give this project a shot and share my story out. My childhood memory is pretty vague now, but I will do my best to put together the fragmented pieces to a picture of some sort.

For many years Hong Kong has been submersed in a lot of Japanese media, so watching anime, tokusatsu, or reading manga have been something that many people have shared in their childhood, and perhaps into their adulthood too. That being said, I actually don't get exposed to them as much as many other Hongkongers have. There were no particular reasons as for why this was so, but I remember that watching TV was not something I do very often, even back in childhood. Most things I have watched really early on were those I watched with my sister, rather than just by myself.

I can't remember what the first anime series I've watched back then (it may have been Princess Knight that I have watched with my sister), but I think Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid was the first anime film I have watched on a video tape, which follows closer to the original story unlike Disney's adaptation. I remember I was never able to hold my tears back by the end of the film.

While I have glimpse through a few odd episodes of various anime series on local TV network, Doraemon remains to be the one I've watched and read the most in my early childhood. The variety of gadgets/tools Doraemon has, the distinctive personalities of each character, and overall family-friendliness of this franchise is really appealing, and Doraemon is still one of my favourite characters to this day. I still have the 45 volumes of short story manga in my shelf.

I have watched a few Ghibli films back then on VCD, such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. The music composed by Joe Hisaishi is still some of my favourite music even to this day. Among the Ghibli films I have watched, Graveyard of the Fireflies was surely one of the most profound one, and even though I have only watched it once it is one of the few movies that gives a vivid and stark image of war in my mind.

Around mid to late 90s, me and my sister have started to become more interested in watching anime, and like many people this was started with the more well known ones, such as Gundam Wing, followed by Rurouni Kenshin and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Other less well known ones include Yu Yu Hakusho, Fushigi Yugi, Hoshin Engi. Hoshin Engi was also one of the very few long manga series that I have read and actually finished. This was considered one of the peak times when we both watched a lot of anime I suppose.

Most of the 2000s had been a gap of some sort where I have very little contact with animation in general. It was also the time I have slowly reformed my interest in military, and mostly in WWII. It was in the late 2000s a fellow Hongkonger has tried to reintroduce me back into anime with series such as Gundam SEED, and Fullmetal Alchemist, as well as some of the older series such as the original Cyber Formula TV series (I have watched the 4 OVAs beforehand with my sister), Slam Dunk and Dragon Ball GT (though admittedly I have paid very little attention to the Dragon Ball series despite its worldwide popularity).

It was shortly after that I have then finally started to watch some of the series by myself, with some of the really popular series at recent times such as Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, Shakugan no Shana, and Fate/stay night. They are a few examples along with the Gundam franchise and Evangelion where they have been heavily promoted for merchandise, and it appears that it is becoming more common for more series nowadays, but this is another discussion to be made in another place at another time.

This was the time shortly before I take up blogging again, and it was about the time when Gundam 00 started airing I begin to follow anime series as they start to air. With the aid of blogging network and the availability of the Internet watching anime, or choosing what to watch, has become much easier than it has been in the past.

And from then onwards is where I am now... I suppose.

If you are nosy into what I have watched and see what I like, you can always have a look at my anime list. You can easily tell what kind of series I like as well too. I tend to like series that are bound to be serious (e.g. Gundams, Fullmetal Alchemist etc.), while comedy or slice of life are usually not what I would watch or that I would find myself hard to enjoy.

So what can I say about the anime I have watched all these years?

There is a clear trend of what I have watched from those geared towards children, and later for teenagers, and later those that are a bit more complex. This is a change of sign in age, but perhaps also what anime is trying to do these days, from back then having a clear theme and point of what they want to do, to something that has become muddier and sometimes perhaps even "pointless". It's not surprising that a lot of people have yearn for things in the past, though now and then there are some gems that pop up now and then, but it is perhaps less obvious than what it has been for the past decade or two.

As long as there are still nice gems out there, there's still hope. While I don't watch anime as much as I have used to nowadays, I will still watch some as long as there are some that may pique my interest.

I do want to thank Nopy for making this project and get everyone to share out their history of watching anime. I have left this article backlogged for too long, but I am glad that I did manage to write it up at the end, despite the fact that the project was started more than half a year ago ^^; It's an intereting feeling to try and recall what one has done in the past and recollect them like putting puzzle pieces together. If you are interested, do check out others' histories as well, or even share your own!


  1. Ah it's too bad Doraemon only got popular in Jakarta after I left. I would love to grow up with it.

    Hmm, I guess I did make a history back then, but only goes up to around late 90's XD http://lightningsabre.blogspot.com/2010/06/retro-anime.html

  2. Hmm, while I don't have much of a history with anime, I do remember that I started watching it due to Toonami on cartoon network. Those were the good days.

  3. @ Lightning Sabre:
    Ah it's a pity that you've missed Doraemon, but I'm surprised how much anime you could watch when you were in Jakarta!

    @ Tom:
    While I have minimal experience with watching anime in the States, I do hear a lot of good things with Toonami while it was still around. Kind of makes me think how a lot of us tend to yearn for things in the past more than what's ahead of us from time to time.

  4. I guess I missed out on Doraemon, having only heard of it and seen pictures and such from being referenced by so many anime. I find myself hitting dry spells once in a while, but I pretty much watch just about anything I can find even now. Yes, there has been quite a few shows that I couldn't finish because they just didn't appeal to me enough, and I do love a good serious, dramatic and intense anime with a great story to go with, but I also find myself enjoying mindless comedies and such. The one thing I find boring the most is the overdone "school" theme. When anime deviates from that it's usually a great sign for me. Good to see you finally joining into the History with Anime project, it's never too late really :)

  5. @Q: It's mostly video rentals, but yea, we did watch a few. But apparently there are a LOT more on Indonesian TV now :D

  6. @ Persocom:
    Doraemon has been referenced by a lot of anime? I sure don't watch as much as many people out there ^^;

    As I have less time to myself than before I tend to become more selective in what I want to watch. With that I am always impressed with those who can get to watch whatever they can find.

    School theme anime can feel a little overdone, and a lot of anime series tend to have at least some of that included, but I find that the ones I have watched just have the school as background, but not so much school life involved (maybe that's just me or that it could be boring to watch if "school life" is to be included). I think I tend to like series that tend to deviate from ordinary or normal life kind of thing, but also in a serious matter.

    I must be one of the last ones to jump onto the boat, but I am glad that I managed to get the post out at the end. It does feel funny trying to remember what you've watched and perhaps even rediscover some of the forgotten memories! :o

    @ Lightning Sabre:
    Ah video rentals... Those were the good ol' days. I think I have rented anime in LD format before too now that you've mentioned it!

    Anime has become much more prominent than it has been in the past decade or two. It's interesting to see how it is making appearance here and there; the fact that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood had dubbed episodes aired in Hong Kong only a couple of weeks behind Japan, and same is going to happen with Gundam AGE too. They're making quite an influence I gotta say :o

  7. Most anime fans from Asia seem to have fond memories of Doraemon, it makes me sad that I never saw it in my childhood. I have to agree with you on Grave of the Fireflies, I've also only watched it once and still remember it 15 years later.
    Following anime as they air has become a lot easier in the last few years. When I ran out of "big hits" to watch sometime in 2003, the only way I could find out what was airing was to visit all of the fansubbing channels on IRC. Now there are seasonal previews and charts everywhere.

    I'm one of those lamenting the "pointless" anime that have been coming out, but this year has been really good with series like Madoka, Ano Hana, Penguindrum, and Fate/Zero. Hopefully this trend continues.

  8. @ Nopy:
    I think a lot of fans in Asia do have Doraemon well embedded in childhood memories, and it's something that still appears now and then to this day. Maybe due to its locality it didn't get much appearance in the West? Maybe you'd know this better than I do.

    The availability of resources and information on the Internet has grown so much compared over the last decade. Nowadays we can catch up just as well as the Japanese, be it the anime or merchandise info. It's amazing now looking back that we have come all the way here from having to rely on IRC or even rely on VCDs/tapes back in the days.

    Chatting with old school friends recently and we had talked about how older anime seem more enjoyable than those that are airing now. At least with the increasing appearances of fanservice and the so-called "moe" stuff or muddy plots here my old school friends, who are fans of shounen genre, would find anime nowadays hard to enjoy. There are still some good series out there, which I do want to recommend them and not those that you have to hide in your own room to watch. Whether they can take them and enjoy them is the real question now. While I do have my anxiety towards anime and anime merchandise these days, I still have hope for them or else I won't be watching or buying their toys anymore.

  9. i could relate n your story about your story of anime. here at the Philippines, anime became a big hit to most of the Filipino viewers and included me. Since i was a child until now i was get hooked by anime.

    1. I think that a good portion of Southeast Asia gets a nice privilege to watch or ready Japanese entertainment earlier than those in the West. This got us to get more attached to anime and the likes, and we keep to the interest many years after childhood. It's interesting to know that anime is well received in the Philippines even when you were a child, like it is in Hong Kong and other nearby places!


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