Journey To The East

Drew's Hi-Res headshot
Drew Russom

At the tinder age of seven, I was in the first grade. At that time, a particular card game was introduced and it was a craze that was known by all of my friends and classmates. We collected and traded the collectible trading cards, and played the portable video games that came out around the same time. This phenomenon was Pocket Monsters, also known to us in the West as Pokemon. Not long after the games, 4Kids Entertainment created a television show meant to market the Nintendo product, but ended captivating a generation, and became part of my Elementary morning routine.

In the immortal words of Obi-Wan, I have taken my first step into a larger world. Pokemon was the show that would introduce me to a genre that I would always know about, but never really comprehend my dealings with it until many passing years. The show followed a young boy on his adventures across an unknown land, training with Pokemon and his friends to become the best. There was not a way that I wasn’t going to be engrossed with the premise, or the main character’s journey. I would continue engage with the world of Pokemon from the Kanto region to Johto, but fell off the more I approached my teenage years.

The next show that I latched onto would be the grandfather of Shonen animes, and would create a bridge to the west for all future animes, Dragon Ball Z. First off, first those that are uninitiated to what a Shonen anime is, it is all about fighting, and for a teenager, this was a cathartic experience. I had never grown with the original Dragon Ball, since it had not made its way over to the states in the nineteen nineties; so I never had any build up before Raditz showed up and dropped the bomb that the main hero, Goku was an alien. The initial hook of people with immense speed and shooting energy beams from their hands drew me in when I was nine or ten years of age, but the characters, while simple upon first glance, are what kept me returning to the series all the way to DBZs conclusion. Dragon Ball had me hooked throughout my teen years, and also introduced me to Toonami, which doesn’t need any introduction.

There were more animes in my portfolio, but only those I dabbled in, here and there. Here I will list them out, and go into small detail with why I never got into the listed shows. Yu Yu Hakusho, I do not actually remember watching much of this show. I do remember the finger gun, and the goofy red-headed best friend, and that is about it. Nothing against the anime, not saying that it was not memorable, just that I have not watched it since it came out in the United States.

TenchiMuyou was my first harem anime, and it’s not a stretch to see why I watched this anime at fourteen years old. A young man living in a house of beautiful women that all want to be with him, hence the back bone of a Harem anime. Although I do remember enjoying the series, but I also remember liking Sword Art Online, which is not a good anime, period. Inuyasha, even though this is Shonen anime, I always viewed it more an anime for girls. The main reason backed by most of the girls that I knew that watched anime were watching Inuyasha, and as a young boy, I wanted to distance myself from it for that very reason.

Gundam Wing has giant mechs fighting one another, never had a chance to sit down and partake in the story of any of the generations. I would use the little model kits to build Gundams, but mainly because they looked cool. Around two thousand five, after DBZ had wrapped up and Dragon Ball GT failed to catch my interest, I fell out of watching any of these shows until I meet my best friend back in twenty twelve. We were working together at a temporary job in warehouse where he caught my interest of a show that delve into themes and philosophies that would appeal to me. The show was the original two thousand three series, Full Metal Alchemist.

The show follows the journey of two brothers as they attempt regain something they have lost due to their foolish actions. The setting is unique, the characters are lovable, and will having you rooting for them the whole way throughout the series. Edward and Alfonso Elrick meet new people from different regions, cultures, and viewpoints that help enriched my viewing of the show. By the last episode, I had laughed and cried so many tears of joy and sadness, an experience that will not leave me for years and years. This, like Pokemon, started me to a path to re-introduce myself into the world of Anime.

After FMA, I went onto Netflix to find more Anime to consume. My first stop was Tri-Gun. An anime from nineteen ninety eight, starring the voice talent of Johnny Young Bash as Vash the Stampede. A sci-fi, western Shonen that followed a pacifist wandering the lawless desert with a price on his head. The greatest part of the series is the hero whose pacifistic beliefs are challenged by not only the antagonists, but also his allies as well.

Since my resurgent interest back into anime, I have watched or are currently watching numerous other shows. Now the list is numerous, so I will not go to any detail about each of these, and I won’t list all of the shows I have seen over the past several years. Black Butler, Madoka Magica, Kill La Kill, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, Voltron: Defender of the Universe, Made In Abyss, Code Geass, Konosuba, and my favorite new obsession My Hero Academia. All of these shows I can recommend whole heartedly for not just pure enjoyment, but for total engagement of the viewer’s attention, which is why I love the broad genre of Anime.

The biggest reason is in the statement above, it’s broadness. Anime is not just one genre that has certain expected parameters, even within a given genre there is are few things the viewer can expect to see in the given show. So much more creativity can be found in the concepts of an anime than what I have seen in the West for many years. The themes and stories that are laced within a narrative are exhausted, but it is presentation or the way they are integrated into the narrative is also why I find anime more engaging than most American media. No one genre within the tree of genres of Anime is the same in art style, narrative, themes, or even content

I hope that this article not only educates you, the reader about Anime, but also entices you to watch some of it. While anime does have its fair share of T&A, most of the shows that I watch are things that I can share with friends and even my family. I always knew about anime, but never realized how integrated into my life it truly was, and not just here but from the very beginning.

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