I didn’t watch a lot of anime last year. Life was just all over the place and for big stretches, I found it hard to let myself escape in anime and just enjoy it. With that being said, I did still watch some. Mainly a FMA:B rewatch in January then watching YuYu Hakusho in the spring, which all just feels like another life at this point. So, my annual top ten list has absolutely no changes at all for its third year. Since I’ve made this a staple on my birthday, I didn’t want to just drop nothing. So instead of rehashing my top ten, I want to talk about my journey with anime leading up to today and what its come to mean to me.
From a young age I was enthralled with the same anime series that had swept the states in the 90s and early 00s. As far as I can remember it was Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh (and soon to follow a love for Transformers). There’s probably hundreds or thousands of essays or videos dedicated to people’s personal experiences growing up on these shows and their fondness for them. I don’t think my story at this point is particularly interesting or different. But these were the shows that were just cartoons to me at the time. I had no idea what anime was. I couldn’t even tell you where Japan was, but I sure as hell could tell you what augumon digivolved into. Or most of the original 151. I could definitely play yu-gi-oh a bit at least back then. And I sure as hell had every pokemon game I could get my little hands on. It was all just fun.
As I grew a little older, I would eventually really start my first ever anime phase. This is a memory that I’ll never forget. I remember going over to my uncle’s house, a three bedroom apartment amongst a trolly of clones in Barberton Ohio. Back then, it was basically my second home. I went over there to visit my cousin’s religiously. Sometimes I wouldn’t come back home for almost a week. Beautiful memories that I’ll always cherish. But there was one night in particular. After a long day of playing outside, going as high as we could on swings, then jumping off, riding our bikes down the semi-steep hill right in front of their complex, we fell asleep in the livingroom. When I woke up, it was beyond dark outside. Everyone was sleeping around me. I was on one of the couches alone, almost paralyzed in not fear, but just complacency. The tv was turned onto channel 29, which was Cartoon Network by day, and Adult Swim by night. Except, every Saturday night it was a special channel, Toonami. Playing popular anime all throughout the night. That moment I woke up, the tv was playing Inuyasha. I remember the exact scene like it was yesterday. I watched in the darkness of that living room as Sesshomaru used his new hand to kill a demon that emerged from the lake, then threaten Jaken. My eyes lit up and my mind said, “what is this? This is so cool.” From there, it was history.
I’d known and watched Dragon Ball Z before. After that night, it became a must for me to watch it all. Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and Inuyasha became my personal big three among the previous four that I watched as a kid. I consumed so much media revolving around those three. Dragon Ball Z became my favorite. It was the first show that I ever sought out to watch every episode. Sending my mom to the library to get discs sets that I could watch. My first ever full on binging session was when I became obsessed with Digimon for a period and I sped through my favorite series (Tamers, Data Squad, and frontier) as fast as possible. Watching Beyblade on Saturdays then begging my mom and granny to buy me some. Man, those Beyblade battles I would have with my cousin and my friend were so fun. Peak life.
This section of my anime fandom will always be a fond period because everything was so new. But for some reason, I just kind of stopped once I turned about 11. All those years prior just came to a halt. And while I sporadically watched something here or there. Anime wasn’t a big part of my life for a few years.
The Void Century (It was really less than two years but One Piece reference >> Facts)
I don’t know if it was my subconscious telling me to “grow up” due to puberty or just a general loss of interest. But for about two years, I barely consumed any anime at all. Of course, I still loved it. I still got the new pokemon games (Soul Silver is still goated). I still watched Naruto and DBZ clips and talked about it with my friends. But in terms of actually watching it, it was rare. There was a moment after I got accepted into my middle school and received my laptop for school, where I sat in my livingroom for two days straight and watched all of the original transformers series and animated movie (my love for transformers is a whole other topic.) And there was a summer I stayed long trips at my same cousin’s house and watched all of Naruto on my small phone on a website that had every episode split up into two parts. But for almost two years, anime was not as a big part of my life as it had been as it would come to be. Until I discovered Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
From 2013 until probably 2019, if someone were to ask me what my favorite anime of all time was. The undeniable answer would be FMA:B. And it all happened on a whim. I lied, no, it didn’t. And I’m laughing as I type this cause I just remembered it happened cause of WatchMojo. That ridiculous sweatshop of top 10 lists of a Youtube channel. They had some list of anime moments that I stumbled upon and it included Mustang turning Envy into bbq and I was like, “I gotta watch that!” So the next time me and my mom went to the library, I got all of the FMA:B DVDs, and when I got home, I was in awe as soon as I heard the first note of the opening. Seriously, Again by Yui, is one of my favorite songs ever. I watched that entire series in no time. And just saying I loved it was an understatement. It opened the door for me. I needed to watch more good anime like it and luckily for me I was still so naïve to everything that was out there. From there, every time me and my mom would make our mile walk from the north side across the y bridge to downtown Akron where the main library resided, I’d begin to really dig my toes in. One Piece and Bleach were the next notable ones. I never got too deep into either, but I would start watching. Sword Art Online was another one as well.
Then, about a year later, was the official moment. Summe/Fall 2014 featured three anime that I hold near and dear to my heart. First, on the same weekend in July, Tokyo Ghoul and Akame Ga Kill aired with absolutely fantastic first episodes. Then in October Parasyte aired. As a fan, I was in heaven. For the past year beforehand, I had worked my way through Fairy Tail and some other shows, never really watching anything new as it dropped. These three anime were like discovering a new restaurant as it opened. Every week I was tuned in. Eyes glued to my screen and while nowadays, I’ve seen the first two seasons of Tokyo Ghoul and the one season of Akame Ga Kill and read all of both of their respective manga. I don’t rate their anime adaptations that high. At the moment, they were nothing short of amazing to me. Still to this day, as a whole, Tokyo Ghoul is one of my favorite stories ever and every year I hope we get an announcement of a HxH (2011) or Fruits Basket (2019) type remake of the show. The manga deserves it.
During this six-year span, I watched everything I could. I remember my friends asked me why I went missing for a week during 8th grade and it was simply because I would come home from school and binge watch HxH (2011) all day. I remember my insomnia being in full effect on one school night and I randomly decided to finally check out Darling in the Franxx. Which resulted in me binge watching all 17 episodes that had aired up until that point and I know for sure I was late for school that day. This period of my anime watching journey is probably the one I will always look back on and be the most fond of. And is responsible for my lifelong love and fandom for certain series and the medium as a whole. This period played the biggest role. And since 2013, I’ve continuously watched my fair share of anime every year, but what it meant to me as a person would really become apparent to me in 2018.
Saving my life
It’s not an over exaggeration to say that anime changed my life. Honestly, I should say it saved my life. Sometimes there’s a lead up to bad things happening, an omen of some sort. Events cascading until the pot finally boils over. Until last year, 2019 was the worst year of my life. 2018 had all the signs pointing towards that being the case. I’m not going to dive too deep into everything. I guess I could describe 2018 as a loss of stability. Summer was fun as usual, but going into my senior year of high school life started to shift. School was school, but home was changing. From August to December, my only distraction outside of school (If I ever even went to school) was anime. With so much uncertainty around the house, one of my only escapes was anime. I’d go to the library for a few hours, download a bunch of episodes, then come home and drown out my fear of the change going on around me with anime. Particularly, One Piece and Black Clover. I watched the hell out of those two (also, on a side note. This was also the time I discovered my love for movies. I watched a lot of those too). Watching those anime was like a warm blanket that constantly consoled me. Not telling me everything was going to be alright, but letting me know that even if it wasn’t, it would be there for me.
So when the life that I was so accustomed to did eventually change drastically in December 2018 and I spent all of 2019 in a different city many miles away from my hometown and in a constantly fluctuating state of depression. Anime kept me grounded. Watching One Piece, Banana Fish, Fate, Evangelion, etc. etc. It gave me an escape that I desperately needed. It was one of the few lights that I had during that dark year and I am forever grateful.
Changing my life
I came into 2020 with anime meaning something completely different to me than it did just a couple years prior. What went from a fun pleasure changed into a genuine appreciation. Which would only grow greater that year.
2020 was the year I discovered I want to be a writer. When I discovered that, I wrote for a bit, then I stopped. At the time, that was frustrating. The words weren’t coming to me; the ideas weren’t flowing. So my idea was to just start writing anything just to know that I can and get better at it. So I started this blog! Which was originally meant to be an all purpose talk about anything blog (funny how it’s come full circle), but the same thing happened. I struggled to find something to consistently talk about. So I said to myself, pick one thing you love and talk about that only to start. That one thing was anime. I wrote about two anime I loved and a few other things and I decided I’d make this an anime blog with an accompanying Instagram page that I’m so sad that I’ve abandoned, but running that was like a second job. And it was fun, until (ironically enough) I decided I wanted to watch Inuyasha.
Almost 100 episodes in, I kinda got burnt out and stopped watching it and at that point I had stopped posting on here for like a month and I was like “I can’t do that again.” So I made a rule for myself. No matter how good or bad, If I start an anime and get enough episodes into it, I have to finish it. That rule has led to some funny reviews and also me actually liking some shows that didn’t start off too hot. But from that moment on, it was amazing. I watched so much anime in 2021, the highlights being Fruits Basket and Gintama. It’s been so fun just gushing over the stuff I love or just discussing what I’ve watched. I probably watched too much anime cause by the time 2022 came around, I was a bit burnt out, but that’s okay! It happens and the best thing about it all is that the original intention of this blog was fulfilled.
August 2021 I finished my first ever piece of writing. A very short story about my sleep paralysis. All the writing I’d done up until that point on this blog led to that and consequently, that led to me writing even more. First some unfinished drafts, then finally, I spent most of 2022 writing and editing my first book, Flowers for Violet. And I couldn’t be more proud of myself that I’ve done so. It wasn’t even the only thing that I wrote last year but it’s the currently finished one.
When I first thought of this blog post, I had a completely different ending in mind. It wasn’t until I actually started writing that I realized my path to becoming a writer was forged many, many years ago by anime beyond just the story telling aspects and that’s just a beautiful thing.
Today is my 22nd birthday. 22 years around the sun. I’ve been watching anime since before I can remember and I will continue to watch anime until I no longer revolve around the Sun myself. It’s been a pillar of my life and I’m forever grateful that I’ve been able to experience these stories in this medium of art. It’s been a journey, and the journey shall continue. Until next year.