What Does Your First Anime Say About You?

I’m about to date myself with this column, but one of the best things about being an Anime fan since childhood is that it’s shaped the way I look at the world, view life, and view its possibilities. Don’t believe me? Sure – if you’re not an Anime fan, think about the things you do like and how much they’ve shaped you. Perhaps you’re a music or a movie buff? Surely you understand how the thing you love shaped your worldview over time, especially if you’ve been a fan for a long time.

Now that we’re past that, let’s take a look at Cheap Jerseys some of my first Anime, and what how I think they’re reflected in some of the things I feel are universal truths about life. Don’t worry; you’ll get your turn.

Some of my first Anime TV series were some of the ones any American would have seen if they were children of the 80s: Voltron: Defender of the Universe, Robotech, Mazinger Z – I had the benefit of living in Europe for several years since my father was in the military, so I saw a few things that other kids my age in the States didn’t get a chance to see for a few years. Of those that I did see as a child though, perhaps my very first Anime movie was Hayao Miyazaki‘s Nausicaaa of the Valley of the Wind and Yoshimitsu Banno‘s Ninja, the Wonder Boy.

WhatDoesYourAnimeSayAboutYou_Nausicaa

Nausicaa was definitely the first Anime movie I saw – and I couldn’t tell you how old I was at the time; I promptly forgot I saw it, except for brief flashes of memory over the years until someone re-introduced it to me later in life. Some of the themes common in Nausicaa, like protecting the environment, the potential of a manmade future of ecological disaster, and the futility of war, are things that are part of my core set of values (although as with any story aimed at children the message, even if well crafted, is simplistic) but I couldn’t tell you if those are my values because of Nausicaa, or because I grew up with them.

What I can say is that my earliest memories of the movie are around specifically ecological disaster and the perseverance of Nausicaa as she risks her own life, health, and happiness for the well-being of the people she cares about. As she stands in front of an advancing horde, risking her life, to warn everyone that war is futile and violence only breeds more violence. Without a doubt that imagery sticks with me today and they’re values that I hold dear.

Perhaps less mature was another of the first Anime movies I saw, Ninja, the Wonder Boy. My father brought it home as a rental when I was a little kid; I remember picking it off of the cheap oakley shelves at a video rental store – back when VHS cassettes were all there were and it was in a massive plastic package that encased the whole thing. The movie follows a young ninja as he completes his training and is sent out into feudal Japan to take on his first assignments.

The story is pretty pedestrian and simple, and definitely designed for children, but there are a couple of things that stuck with me over time: first of all, the boy ninja is just a child, but he has incredible power, and incredible strength of will. That’s when I learned to persevere; to approach everything with as much will and inner strength as you can muster. That’s when I learned you can overcome any challenge or get past any obstacle if you believe you’re strong enough and smart enough to handle it. That doesn’t mean you won’t fail, it doesn’t mean you won’t be set back when things get tough, but it does mean you get back up and go at it again.

In the end, both Anime taught me the value of persistence, intelligence, and believing in yourself, the people you love, and the things you hold dear. They both proved to me that I could muster all the power in the cosmos if I needed to, and as a child that’s a wonderful thing to be told – that if you really REALLY tried, you could call down lightning and make the earth shake – and even if you can’t, it’s more important to believe that you can, so when you approach life, you go at it with your all because you not only believe in yourself, but you believe in what’s in your heart.

Those are the kinds of child-like values I don’t ever want to part with. And yes, I’m still an Anime superhero in my head. I can still call down lightning, and I can still conjure fire at will, because I’m awesome. Of course I can’t in real life, but in my head? I’m fighting demons and proving my strength and worth at all times. Sure, you’re probably reading this and thinking I’m reading far too much into it, but there’s something to be said for getting those kinds of powerful self-belief messages when you’re young and impressionable. Going through life with the belief that I can do anything if I set my mind to it is a powerful thing to wake up in the morning with, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

So what about you? What was your first Anime, fellow geeks? Did you take anything away from it that you think shapes you as a person? Let me know in the comments.

Author Description

Alan Henry

There are 7 comments. Add yours

  1. 7th December 2009 | Rachel says:
    If I remember correctly, my first anime series was Ranma 1/2, from which I learned the valuable life lesson that being doused in water will cause you to grow breasts. I think that's where my fear of showers came from...
  2. 7th December 2009 | Eric says:
    The first anime I ever consciously decided to watch was Tenchi Muyo, back when it first started airing on Toonami. I'd hate to imagine what kinds of messages I may have picked up on and absorbed. >.> But that was when I was like, 11 or 12. I don't think I watched much anime at all before then, or any.
  3. 7th December 2009 | Lauren says:
    Mine was Unico. I still love me some Unico. So I guess that makes me ..a shapeshifting magical KAWAII unicorn?
  4. 7th December 2009 | Alan Henry says:
    I fondly remember Tenchi Muyo actually - if there's anything you can come away from that series with, it's the cabbits are adorable, you never know when your pets will turn into starships, and never underestimate the power of wooden things. :D Although it really was a great series! I wish I could ever be lucky enough to have women like Ryoko and Ayeka compete for my attention.
  5. 8th December 2009 | Susan says:
    Unico was my first anime as well. I didn't realize it was anime specifically until much later. I think what I took from it was a strong desire to make others happy, just like Unico did to everyone he encountered. The episode that I remember best is the episode where he saves the girl from the evil lord/monster by transforming into a pegasus. I think to some extend everyone wishes they could be the hero for the ones they love. The first anime I saw knowing it was an anime was Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma. Quite a jump from the happy little unicorn! I think what I took away from it was a sense of destiny, and second chances, along with an appreciation for gore.
  6. Pingback: Anime Wednesdays: Paranoia Agent « The Classy Geek September 8, 2010

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  7. Pingback: Anime Wednesdays – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind « The Classy Geek November 10, 2010

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