Polly-chan's Animu History
by Polly



Them crazy Japanese cartoons have been a hobby of mine for quite some time. Over the years, since my first exposure to the medium, I've followed it on and off and have amassed a fairly decent collection of VHS and DVDs. Because SMPS.NET IS MY PERSONAL JOURNAL, I'll provide a brief history lesson on my relationship with these wacky little cartoons. The ins, the outs, the good, and the bad... It'll all be here.


First Contact: The Late 80's

My first contact with anime that I can remember was Vampire Hunter D. What a great way to get introduced to the medium, yeah? I remember catching the tail end of this 1985 feature at a friend of the family's place. I was five or six at the time and all it really took was a cartoon to make me go "loldurp I'mma sit here an' watch dis!" I had no idea it was Japanese (it was a dubbed VHS tape), but it was a cartoon, and I was already interested.

I knew that what I was seeing was a whole hell of a lot different than the GI Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony (HEY FUCK YOU!) that I was used to seeing, but I was unfortunately too young to really grasp much of anything going on, plus it was near the end. It was darker, looked quite a bit different, and a touch more violent than what I was used to, that's really all I could be sure of.

I wouldn't see this movie again until about 1994 or so, when it was long out of print. A friend of a friend happened to have an original mint condition copy of the 1986 US VHS release and sold it to me for a mere $20. SUCKER! It's not the greatest movie like a lot would have you believe, but it is an interesting and entertaining bit of anime history. I remember thinking I was so fucking cool because I had something so rare. And I still do!


The "Not For Kids" sticker on Vampire Hunter D is classy.

Yeah, my phone's camera is balls. Deal with it.

Sometime before the 80's ended, I also caught a glimpse of the highly-acclaimed Akira. I can't remember exactly where I saw this one, I just remember being so utterly and completely confused and my mind reeling when I saw one of Kaori's breasts pop out for a brief moment. I think it was Kaori anyway. I also snagged a copy of this one around the same time I picked up my Vampire Hunter D VHS.

All in all, the 80's served only as an introduction. My experience with these two movies simply sewed the seeds that'd blossom years later into a brand-new money-gobbling hobby. I still probably had no idea that these silly cartoons were Japanese at this time, I just know I liked them because they were different and violent. I like violence.


I Think We've Got Something Here: The 90's

The 90's is when this whole anime thing exploded for me. I was smarter, more aware, and understood that those weird cartoons I'd run into when I was a kid were from Japan and called "anime," thanks to the medium gaining exposure in gaming rags and some television broadcasts.



The first anime I remember being broadcast in my area was Dragon Ball Z and I could never get into that shit. I'm not doing the whole "cool to hate on DBZ" thing here, I just couldn't get into it. I'd still leave the TV on in the background if it was on, but I never paid much attention. All that SCREAMIN!

Sailor Moon also rolled around and for some stupid reason, I kept trying to tell myself I liked it. Come on, they were girls, I'm a girl, there just weren't that many cartoons around with female protagonists. I watched it, but never got into it. I liked that it was different from other cartoons I watched and that was about it.

Around '92 or '93, being sick with strep throat at home from school I caught an episode of Samurai Pizza Cats. I think this is probably what really drove me into checking out anime on a more in-depth level. Though the entire show was re-written for the US audience (something I didn't know or care about at the time...and still don't) it contained some of the funniest shit I think I'd seen in cartoons at that time. Puns everywhere, fourth-wall breaking all over the place, and completey cheesed-out fight scenes for some reason hooked me in and refused to let me go. Since the show aired while I was at school, I always made sure to set my VCR to record it before leaving every morning from then on. It was such a fun little show and I really wish someone would step up and do a proper release of the series on DVD, because my worn out VHS tapes just aren't cutting it on my HDTV anymore, and the .avis I've downloaded over the years (managing to snag all 52 episodes) quality leaves much to be desired.

Fuck you, it's still funny.

Like I said, shortly after I got into Samurai Pizza Cats is when I decided I wanted to start getting into this anime thing. Anime was a fairly niche thing at the time and trying to find places to buy it was hard. People either had no idea what I was talking about or for some reason thought that it was porn cartoons and had no interest in selling it to a young'un like me. And to be fair, a lot of the stuff I DID see in retail and rental stores at the time was porn (Rei-Rei being the most common one EVERYONE seemed to keep in stock.)

Around that time we got an On-Cue store near my place and to my surprise I found that they had a VERY SMALL specialty rack of VHS tapes in the back that actually contained a very minimal selection of anime. I struck up a conversation with a guy that worked at the store (who was responsible for getting the manager to actually carry the stuff) and he recommended two feature films to me. Lacking the $50 it'd take to purchase these gems at the time and having no place to rent them, I asked for and got them for my birthday that year.

The films in question?



Motherfuckin' Ninja Scroll and Ghost in the Shell.

Fucking hell, the AWESOME I had no idea I was in for. I was literally blown away by both movies. Seriously, what's not to like? Meatsauce Ninjas all over the place, body parts flying, titties flopping out, and NINJAS! NINJAS! YOU HEAR ME, YOU CHICKENSHIT? Then there was Ghost in the Shell which blew my mind... because I was fucking confused as all hell most of the time, but after a few more viewings with friends I eventually "got it..." Sorta... Okay, it didn't make COMPLETE sense till I read the manga years later.

I think the next movie I ended up buying was the Street Fighter II Animated Movie, which was only like $8, and it was decently entertaining, but I never really went back to it. Plus, I got sold the edited version. I WAS A NEWB GIMME A BREAK! NO CHUN-LI SHOWER SCENE FOR ME!!!

After that came Project A-ko. Loved this movie to death and still do. It's so deliciously campy and crazy and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to watch something, turn their brain off, and just have a good time. At the time I didn't really get a lot of the parody that was going on, but the movie still works even for the anime uninitiated. That's something that sorta always impressed me with A-ko. You didn't HAVE to be a rabid otaku[REDACTED] to get entertainment out of it. Hell my DAD enjoyed it. The OVAs aren't really up to snuff and can be skipped, but definitely check out the movie if you can.

My anime buying habits slowed down a bit after that, due to getting busy with music and school, but I still kept tabs on it from time to time. I guess a good two years or so passed until I got heavily into anime again, so that'd put us around 1996-1997.

This is when my anime buying habits hit full-force. I had a job and money to burn on games and anime. Fuck, I didn't do much else at the time and still had a decent wad of cash every payday leftover after giving my parents some money for bills.

What spurred this four year excursion into stockpiling VHS tapes was borrowing a copied VHS off a friend which contained the under-appreciated Vampire Princess Miyu OVAs and the original six-episode OVA series of Tenchi Muyo!.

Miyu was great, but Tenchi Muyo was the one that really stuck with me. It'd be my favorite series for many years after first seeing it. I bought literally everything I could on VHS with this damn series. OVA series, Tenchi Universe, Tenchi In Tokyo (bleeeeeeeeeehhhck), fucking shit I even bought the Pretty Sammy OVAs. What made the show even more enjoyable, was the fact that my friends had begun to share in my interest in anime now, so I wasn't just watching alone, so it was kind of a cool time when a new volume would roll out and some friends would pile over to my place and we'd watch the three or four new episodes I had.

To this day, I think the first OVA series is one of the best anime produced (even if it's cliche'd out the ass harem bullshit at times, but fuck you, Kagato was cool). Everything else sorta falls by the wayside, because they really whored that show into oblivion.

From that point on, I was always looking for new things to try and it almost became a daily ritual for a while to read through the newest RightStuf printed catalog to see what else seemed interesting.

Other stand-out shows of the time that helped me coast toward the end of the decade were (of course) Neon Genesis Evangelion, Serial Experiments Lain, Record of Lodoss War/Legend of Crystania (delicious Pirotess...), Trigun, Dirty Pair Flash, Slayers, Dragon Pink (One of the funniest hentai ever), and I'd really have to go downstairs and dig through the VHS bin for more, but I think that about covers the major bases.

All in all, a great time was had. The only shit part would have to be recollecting all this shit on DVD once it became the dominant format. Yay...


Crash and Burn, Rise Again: 2000's

In the early 2000's, I began to burn out and lose interest in anime entirely. The new DVD format was on the horizon as well and it bugged the crap out of me that a large chunk of my of my collection would be on outdated VHS and the new stuff on DVD. I began to move toward other interests and dumping my money into other things (like hopeless addictions to online games for Dreamcast... well just one in particular.) During this time, I slowly began to rebuild my collection of anime on DVD. I didn't watch any of it, I just started buying it to have it, plus DVDs were a hell of a lot more compact and easy to store than those bulky VHS tapes.

I think the only new thing I bought and watched during this time was Perfect Blue. Satoshi Kon is the fucking man.

It wouldn't be until halfway through the decade in 2005 that anime would become of any interest to me again.

Two people kept recommending that I watch a little show called Elfen Lied. I guess they figured I had some kinda thing for violence or something...

This was my first experience with fansubs. After endless prodding, I gave in and downloaded the show but wouldn't watch it until maybe three or four months later.

For some reason, that show just clicked for me. My Anime "on" switch had been flipped again and the whole world of fansubs was opened to me. Elfen Lied led to me watching Gunslinger Girl, which then led me to Paranoia Agent. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex pretty much sealed the entire deal. By that Christmas I'd watched, bought all the shows I fansubbed (and I always buy the stuff I like... sometimes the stuff I don't like...), and re-watched the shows and was completely back into this evil Japanese beast.

From then until now, anime has sorta been my main hobby, I guess. Videogames and music still hold a high place in my priorities list, but most modern games are complete shit and have turned me off to the medium, and I don't really have anyone to play music with anymore.

In 2006, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and especially Higurashi no Naku Koro ni came along and pretty much ensured that I'd be in this anime thing for the long haul.

Through the good and the bad... Oh the monster I have become.

This is my story.






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