What was your first anime seems to be a fairly common question for anime fans, but there’s often more than one that really got you into it. So, to get a broader picture, these are the seven anime that got me started.
My Introduction to Anime!
I’ve mentioned before that I first got into anime back in the nineteen-nineties when Channel 4, a newer channel on the UK scene was showing late-night anime. The first one was Akira and having watched it, I almost instantly knew that this was where I belonged. As a child, I never took an interest in soaps like Neighbours and Home and Away, preferring to stick to cartoons. So, when I found a cartoon full of violent action, swearing, and partial nudity, it was as if the universe had sought to bring us together…
Anyhow, I dived into everything I could find, which in England at that time was not a lot. My parents managed to get me a subscription to Manga Mania which was a monthly magazine with manga chapters and news on the anime and manga scene. I also had a paper round which paid me fourteen pounds a week. All of that went straight onto whatever anime VHS I could find at the quirky bookstore, which was the only place that sold anime.
So, that was then and this is now. With a monthly subscription that costs less than a weeks salary on my old paper round, I can watch as much anime as I want. That’s enough waffling about the old days. Now, I mentioned at the beginning of this post about the “What was your first anime?” question that seems to prove how cool you are… I’ve told you my first anime, but now I’m going to tell you about the seven that were heavily influential to me.
Dangaioh (Haja Taisei Dangaiou)
This was the very first VHS I bought with my own money. I don’t remember exactly how much it cost, but it was probably at least £15. Dangaioh was a 3 episode OVA that had been merged into a movie format for the VHS release. It followed four teenagers with psychic powers who were kidnapped and brainwashed by a scientist to operate a collection of mecha that could unite to form the most destructive mecha in the universe. Needless to say, they escaped but were pursued across the galaxy by the evil scientist’s employer.
I loved this series and need to watch it again at some point. I do remember that it didn’t really have a conclusive ending, but the nostalgia factor is strong. The first part was originally released in 1987, which each episode coming out almost a year apart. And people complain about anime missing a week here and there… Anyhow, that means you can expect big bouncy hair and skintight clothing.
Dominion Tank Police
There’s absolutely no need to explain why a teenage Lynn bought an anime called Dominion Tank Police with the image of two scantily clad catgirls on its cover. It was also the first multi-video set I bought with each video containing two arcs of the four arc series. The series is about a cop, Leona who transfers from the motorcycle division to the tank division of the local police force. I should probably say now that crime in the city is so out of control that the police force needs a tank division.
This series was started in 1988 and it took almost a year for all four episodes to be released. Even though each VHS was shorter that Dangaioh, I’m certain that they cost more, coming in at about £20 each. This is a series that I have rewatched recently and it sadly didn’t live up to the nostalgia. The first two arcs were completely bonkers and a little crazy, but the second half of the series was actually really interesting and looked at some fairly cool ideas. This was the beginning of a love affair with Masamune Shirow.
Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken)
Coming in at almost two hours long, Fist of the North Star was a massive eye-opener. If you love excessive violence and unbelievably tough characters then look no further. These anime makes JoJo look a Cute Girls Doing Cute Things show. Once more, as anime was scarce in the UK at this time, we only got the movie which is a condensed version of the series. That’s like trying to cram one hundred episodes into two hours. Basically, all the most brutal and violent moments made it.
It also didn’t have much of an ending, which is something I was starting to discover with anime. Sure, some shows have a great ending, but there’s a lot of fairly ambiguous endings too. This would have been another £20 VHS, but like all the others, I definitely got my money’s worth out of it. When you only have a small collection of anime, you watch them over and over again. Anyhow, this is one I’d love to rewatch, although I think I’d like to go with the original series this time.
And we’re back with Masamune Shirow for the anime adaptation of his classic manga, Appleseed. This was one of the manga that was running when I had my subscription to Manga Mania and I loved it. The anime, however, is just over an hour long and deserves so much more. It looks at the meaning of life and society, but as I said, it needed much more time to really delve into such heavy topics.
There have been some reboots and I’ve enjoyed them too, but I really need to go back and watch the original again. It holds a lot of fond memories for me like everything else on this list so I hope it can live up to them. I think this one was a little cheaper, but still probably around £15.
Vampire Hunter D
All right. This one was one of my favourites. It had vampires, monsters, a stoic vampire hunter, swearing, boobs, more monsters. Seriously, this series had it all. Like Appleseed, Vampire Hunter D could have done with more. I know there was the second movie – Bloodlust which was released much later, but it didn’t necessarily expand on the world, but tell another story within it. Vampire Hunter D is a post-apocalyptic horror with a mix of vampires and monsters.
I have rewatched this series fairly recently and this lack of world-building and the missed potential is more apparent now, but it’s still a good film and even with these knockbacks it’s such a significant one for me that I am willing to forgive a few issues.
This was the show that showed me I belonged here. Project A-ko is a spoof of all the popular shows of the time taking on Fist of the North Star, Gundam, and Macross. It is the origin of the girl running with a piece of toast in her mouth and has inspired so many more tropes and ideas. It’s also completely insane and the plot is bonkers, but I love it. This show makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
It came out in 1986 and was another of my expensive VHS purchases. Although I don’t even mind. I must have watched this one so many times. Even the eighties sympho-pop music gives me chills. I even rewatched it last year and it inspired one of my short stories – Samurai School for Girls which I will post on here soon.
It was the first so I probably should mention it on the list. To me, this is the classic anime! It has inspired so many other stories in all different mediums and it’s not hard to see why. The story is compelling and different, the visuals are incredible, especially for a movie released in 1988, and the music is on another level entirely. I just can’t get enough of this series.
So, much so that I rewatched it a couple of years back and I think it’s even better now than when I first watched it. I definitely didn’t pick up on all the social and political commentary when I was younger or admire the way in which the opening scene shows us so much without saying a word. This one really is incredible and I urge everyone to watch it.
I’ve probably gone on long enough about a bunch of anime that most people probably haven’t seen or heard of, but this was my introduction to anime. These are just some of the shows that caught my attention and ensured that I would still be watching anime in 2020! There are many more that I’d like to talk about and maybe one day, I’ll start a classic review series, but that’s another day.
So, these are the titles that made an impact on me. What got you started on your anime journey and why? Thanks for reading.
Other posts in the series
- Best Anime 2019
- Best Boy 2019
- Best Girl 2019
- Best Villain 2019
- Best Fight 2019
- Applications of BOFURI Technology!
- The Trouble with Plunderer!
- More Please!
- Make it Anime!
- My Introduction to Anime!
- What Am I Reading?
- Apocalyptic Anime
- Best Anime Winter 2020
- Best Boy Winter 2020
- Best Girl Winter 2020
- Best Villain Winter 2020
- Best Fight Winter 2020
- Seven Swords!
- Guilty Pleasures!
- My Pirate Crew!
- Course Correction!
- Guess Who I Drew!
- It Might Happen… Summer 2020
- Name That Anime!
- Anime Favorites A-Z Challenge
- Best Anime Spring 2020
- Best Boy Spring 2020
- Best Girl Spring 2020
- Best Villain Spring 2020
- Best Fight Spring 2020