Women, men & minorities in geek culture and pop culture
I came into contact with Japanese animation, better know as anime, when I was seven years old. Back then, I didn’t know what Samurai X, as it was called in Spanish, was; I thought it was a very unusual looking cartoon, but nothing beyond that. I did, however, like it enough to wake up at 7 in the morning every Saturday to watch it in local television.
As I grew older, though, I stopped waking up early and forgot about it. But I still continued watching anime, without knowing, in the 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. local cartoon program on weekdays. Every afternoon after school, I would sit in front of the television and watch a show called Dragon Ball Z. I remember thinking that it reminded me of Samurai X, but I didn’t look into it. And then, one night, I discovered Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and saw a program called Inuyasha. I liked it as much as the other two and tried to watch it as often as I could. But I never made the connection that they were all a different kind of animation.
And then, when I was 12 years old, I discovered Yu-Gi-Oh! I was hooked like I had never been before. I put my alarm clock every Saturday to wake up in time to watch it WB’s morning cartoon block.
I liked it enough to do research on it, and it was then that I discovered anime. I learned that it was of Japanese origin, and that many of them are based on graphic novels as well as video games. I learned that there were many types of anime such as for boys, called Shounen, for girls, called Shoujo, and many more. I seemed to be more inclined toward Shounen anime, as they tend to feature action as their basis rather than a romance, which is usually featured in Shoujo anime.
I remembered those anime I had watched early on and decided to look them up. It turned out that Dragon Ball Z was perhaps the most well-known anime of all time, and had a series preceding it, and several series after it. Samurai X, the first anime I’d watched, was actually called Rurouni Kenshin and was based on a graphic novel. Since then, I decided to delve into anime and started picking other series to watch.
Now that I’m older (about ten years older, in fact), I still love anime as much as I did when Yu-Gi-Oh! made me more interested in it. However, I have to admit I have grown so much into that realm that I need to watch anime in Japanese with English subtitles. The translations just aren’t the same; to me, many of the characters in some series lose part of their personality with voices that don’t fit them and some of the jokes, expressions and words are lost in translation. Going back and forth between the subtitles and the action can be hard, but I enjoy it. And it also allows me to watch more series, since there aren’t so many that are translated into English. I am fascinated by how imaginative the Japanese are with the ideas, characters, stories and worlds they create.
As of the past five years, my latest addiction, and arguably perhaps my favorite anime and graphic novel of all time, has been Naruto; I’ve enjoyed watching these characters grow and change, and cannot wait to find out what happens to them at the end of the series. Despite my love, there will always be a spot in my heart for those four anime that introduced to their world, unknowingly, when I was a little girl.
Mara is the Young Adult Book Reviewer for Girls in Capes. She is working on an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction.