Thank you Ayu, Thank you Tenchi, Thank you, Thank you Taiga

When I was younger, I was never under the illusion that I would be an anime fan for life. I thought it was a phase, and I was fine with that. But along the way, during long stretches of time when I would hardly watch any anime (or cease watching entirely), a series or movie would come along at some critical time in my “anime fan development” and push me back in. I was like Michael Corleone: “When I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

I was thinking about these anime recently because of the new Full Metal Panic series. Though it’s been a disappointment, it reminded me of Fumoffu, which of all series, was one of those that brought my interest back. Others had a heavier impact on me—shows like Tenchi Muyo, which converted me from casual to otaku; Kanon, which had me riveted when I discovered I had Anime Network On Demand; and Toradora, which is largely the reason I started blogging about anime in the first place.

key heroines
art by CPKon (reprinted w/permission)

So today, I want to ask you: What are some of the critical anime series in your life? We’re often asked what our “first” was—and you could mention that (Tenchi Muyo could fit that bill for me), but I also want you to dig deeper and name other anime that are significant in your growth as an fan.

Please share with us! I’m looking forward to reading your responses.

featured illustration by Paja (reprinted w/permission)

20 thoughts on “Thank you Ayu, Thank you Tenchi, Thank you, Thank you Taiga

  1. What a good question. For meaningful anime, I think I would include the following:
    – Cowboy Bebop – This was the first series I saw where I was like, “Wow, anime is awesome.” It’s still one of my favorite shows of all time. Still sticks with me.
    – Fractale – It’s the series that got me back into anime after years of not really watching it. Watched it at night when my wife was pregnant with our twins. That led me to get into Blue Exorcist and yea, that eventually led me to write about both and faith. Which led to me and y’all over here. So, yea, Fractale matters to me.
    – Bananya – One of the first series I watched entirely with my kids. Each episode we watched together around the same time they came out and it was so much fun watching it with them. I also showed them some Chi’s Sweet Home first, but this one has stuck with them much more. My older two kids each have different Bananya plushes they love it so much.

    1. Thanks for sharing! Interesting how blogging kind of happened to both us because of kiddoes and night time—for me it was happening (with the aforementioned Toradora among others) when I would get up to help with newborn feedings and couldn’t get back to sleep.

  2. There were a lot of animes that pulled me in. But I was a manga reader first and foremost, and I feel I ‘ve never been an anime fan. ( despite an extensive collection of dvd copies of animes ) . I did obsess on Cowboy Bebop for a time.

    1. Oh yeah, you’re solidly a manga otaku! I think a lot of folks are in that place as well. Not that anime fans aren’t this way, but I feel like manga fans are the thinkers in our group, the imagineers—the ones who would be diving into novels and writing and research even if manga wasn’t a thing.

      1. What I don’t like about animes is the fan service they add to the anime . A very good example is Ouran High School Host Club. The original plotline is still there, of course, but they totally change the ending and , worse, add a different arc/plotline and character changing the purity and wholesomeness of the story, especially the main male character. ( they added a female character and had her and main guy have an intimate relationship….. not in the manga )

        1. You bring up a good point—anime adapted from manga is just that, an adaption. It’s going to differ, often in dramatic ways, and often for the worse.

  3. Well…the first show that I really watched was Robotech (or Macross). It technically wasn’t anime (and at the time I did not even know it was anime, as I was 10 years old) but my young mind did know it wasn’t an ordinary cartoon.
    After that I got interested in anime more and you could say that the thing that really got me into the medium was Ghost in the Shell, the original film. That was mindblowing and really after seeing that, I really went all the way searching for more titles that were similar. But Macross will always hold a special place in my heart, as that for me is still a great series 😊😊

  4. The only anime I can think of that I would say is “critical” or “significant” to me is Bananya, because I wouldn’t be an anime fan without it. *high-fives MDMRN for also mentioning it* As I was watching Twitch one day a couple years ago, the streamer showed the stream Bananya. That made me aware that Crunchyroll was a thing and that there were hundreds and hundreds of shows available to watch for free. And so here I am. 🙂

  5. Technically I watched FMA: Brotherhood first, but Erased turned me into a fan of the genre and helped me understand my call better (both profesionally, what kind of lawyer, and as a whole, what kind of man I needed to be). Now and then moved me in a way few tales in any media have ever achieved, and gave me a model of Christlike love which helped me a lot a couple of years later. Nichijou was a ray of light and hope in a very hard time, and the show I watch with my little brother whenever he’s down. Toradora, Sakamichi no Apollon and Oregairu helped me to appreciate better important aspects of friendship and romantic love, and that confuse area in between. Specifically, Oregairu’s Yui and Hikki were a sign for one of the most important decisions of my life. Lain inspired me to sail in the strange waters of cyberphilosophy.

    And let’s see… Chihayafuru inspired me and my siblings (I’m the eldest of ten) to create a home-made version of karuta based in Dante’s poetry which is now quite popular in my house. Ore Monogatari is the show I have in mind when giving romantic advice about Austenian ethics. Shirobako was both a good parallel and a good inspiration to my first job, and I’m sure I will rewatch Clannad After Story when the time comes to move out of my family house. Rakugo reignited the wish to be a good storyteller. Anime is just so rich and enlightening! I’m just glad such a wonder exists.

    1. Ah, you shared so much!! Thank you for taking us through your journey in anime! I didn’t realize that that you really only became a fan fairly recently.

  6. I have 6 noteworthy anime from various points of my life so far:
    1. Akazukin Cha-cha – is technically the gateway anime I saw at 3 years old
    2. Rurouni Kenshin – the true gateway anime that pulled me into watching the 2-hour anime block at 5 years old
    3. Kimi ni Todoke – more of the manga, but it made my high school self realize how much I should reach out to others
    4. Fairy Tail – got me through my college days back in the Philippines with its emphasis on friendship
    5. Your Lie in April – was there during the period when I was moving to Australia to continue my studies
    6. My Hero Academia – motivated me through most of my days at university in Australia and after as well.

  7. The most critical anime for me would be “Haibane Renmei.” It’s what got me into the anime/manga medium in the first place. Before then anime wasn’t even on my radar. I saw a picture of Rakka on a magazine at Barnes and Noble. Cute girl with angel wings. In an over sexualized world, it was nice to see something that portrayed women positively. Had to be Christian, right? Watched the entire series in a couple of sessions and was profoundly changed by how deep the series was and how it asked more questions than it answered, making the viewer have to come to their own conclusions. I so wanted to capture that as writer myself that I started to dive into anime without realizing that there’s a lot of pitfalls. I thought that “Haibane Renmei” represented the core of the medium, not an outlier.

    “Code Geass” was unfortunately my next anime (blame a Google search on “popular anime” at the time) and I wandered into it like an animal in front of an oncoming train. The needless graphic violence, the explicates… what had I gotten myself into? Anime wasn’t anything I thought it was. I suffered through two thirds of the season, holding out, hoping it would get better, but when they killed off a character for seemingly no reason other than to punch you in the stomach and rip out your heart, I quit anime outright, drop dead, cold turkey, for years.

    Eventually a friend highly recommended “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” and pushed me to watch it after I told them I wouldn’t have anything to do with anime. Since I was still coming off of “Code Geass” I expected another train wreck. In some sense “Puella Magi” is a wreck but there was a meaning to everything. To see Homura sacrifice so much to try to save her best friend, it spoke to me about my own life and struggles. I’ve stayed with anime ever since, with an understanding that the medium can accomplish a lot of good and accomplish a lot of bad, like everything else in life. It’s up to the creator how they choose to wield it.

  8. Hmmm…

    For me the very first anime I watched was Starblazers, aka Space Battleship Yamato. (The old version made in the 70s). I was 8 years old, and I remember it came on at 6:30 in the morning. Fortunately I was a morning person and that’s when I naturally woke up as a kid. I still remember when it moved to 3:30 in the morning and how it motivated me to learn to program the VCR. (Sadly my mother recorded over all my episodes while I was at college).

    So my initial concept of anime is in many ways a full generation older than most of my peers. As in pre-Evangelion anime. And I’m already a generation older than “modern” anime fans.

    I think to me the biggest aspect was that I saw anime as a way to tell stories that had a beginning and an ending – so very different than the episodic nature of western media.

    Then next anime I can remember is Tenchi Muyo and Dragonball Z, both of which were more appreciated by my younger sisters and brothers respectively, as I was already a senior preparing for college, but it made me aware of anime as an available cultural phenomenon.

    Next was probably Love HIna, an anime that had a lot of problems, even when I was watching it. But I mainly watched it because my cousin was watching it, and she was alienated from both her family and friends because of her love of anime, and her mother (my Aunt) asked me to try and connect with her. It was something that allowed me, an adult in college, to connect with a middle school girl. I was the cool older cousin who also watched anime, and could talk about it with her. The main effect of this anime was to make me aware of online streaming abilities to access anime.

    The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was next, it was the first anime I watched that had a ton of meta references, and it was one of the first anime I picked to watched myself, and that lead to me becoming involved in online discussions, as this was only about six months after it had aired. This lead me to start looking at older anime, trying to find the best ones to watch.

    Then I watched Maison Ikkoku, a show that is still my favorite anime of all time. It has it’s flaws, but it is the best romance anime ever made. I can identify that as when I fully became an anime fan, as from about that point on I started being able to identify most of the “inside anime” jokes and references. Love Hina for example is pretty much a poor remake of Maison Ikkoku, and almost all romance anime and even some non-romance anime continually reference Maison Ikkoku.

Leave a Reply to Fiona Wrobel Cancel reply