You ever get really nostalgic about anime series you watched in your formative years? You know, your OG shows? The ones that got you into the medium in the first place? I’ve decided to take a look back at some of the earlier series I got into back when I was younger, and reflect on how they formed my anime tastes. They will be chronicled in this monthly series, Anime Roots. Check out last month’s post here.
You know how a song can bring you back to a certain place and time? Or even a certain smell can remind you of something really specific from your childhood? Well, I think an anime can do that, too. Anything you have any strong sentimental attachment to can really take you back, and if you’re like me, you’re a sentimental sap about everything, so this happens to you a lot.
I logged back into MyAnimeList for the first time in a million years and started idly scrolling through my past entries. I was surprised to find that each name of each title flooded me with very specific memories. Some of them took me to good places – I’ve watched a lot of weird titles with friends at sleepovers, or even enjoyed a series with my little sister. Others took me to bad places – there’s a block of time where I finished, like, six series in one week because I was cooped up in my room during a major depressive episode. I think I even skipped a mid-term in favor of watching Oriemo during that period, if that gives you any idea of where my bad brain was at at the time…
If you don’t mind, let’s take a self-indulgent trip down my anime memory lane! Imagine a little wavy flashback transition here as we dig into my nerd past…
This was one of the first anime I got really, really into as a kid. Like, I was super into Naruto and I remember being hardcore into Death Note, but Eureka Seven was one of the few series I watched in middle school that actually stuck with me and remained a favorite. I remember watching this on Veoh (does that even exist anymore, or is it just, like, all ads and porn now?) and eagerly waiting for my parents to let me onto the family computer so I could watch it.
Not only was it a really excellent and engaging show, I was very thankful for the fact that there weren’t that many weird titty fanservice moments, since I was watching in my parents’ room and they could potentially walk in at any time. Talho’s first outfit was a bit much, so I was always afraid the camera would take a bunch of questionable angles when she was on-screen, but thankfully, the only thing my parents ever saw was that quick flash of boob’age on Holland’s book cover.
Oh, I also remember watching the movie right after I finished the series and being really confused because I wasn’t familiar with the whole “anime alternate timeline movies that don’t really mean anything” trend. I was really pissed off because Renton had a weird animal mascot. To this day, I’ve never finished that movie.
Sora no Woto (Sound of the Sky)
I always forget about this series, and I don’t know why, because it’s really, really good. It’s one of the first Crunchyroll simulcasts that I remember watching. Sora no Woto, or Sound of the Sky, tells the story of a girl who joins the army just so she can learn the bugle. She had been inspired by the sound of another army bugler and wanted to follow in their footsteps, and gets stationed by a small village during a time of peace.
This was one of the first anime I watched where I felt that the setting was a character in itself. The anime takes place in the future, but everything seems very antiquated because, as you learn as the series goes on, the effects of war plunged the country backwards in a lot of ways. Much of the story revolves around the girls at the military post exploring the countryside and trying to understand relics of the past. The explorative nature of the series was very peaceful and relaxing, despite it being a story about war. A lot of my anime watching habits centered around escapism, and the amount of anime I watched in middle school and college directly correlated with how depressed I was at the time. Slice of life and light-hearted comedies were essential when I dipped into a depressive episode, especially when I was younger because I didn’t really have a grasp on what depression even was or what I was supposed to do with those feelings. This was another anime that came in clutch for me – it just made me happy for a half hour or so each week.
Jungle de Ikou!
This not-very-good ecchi anime seems like a weird one to get nostalgic about, I know. I really don’t remember much about the plot at all – there’s a little girl who turns into a sexy shaman or something. All I know is there are a lot of boob shots, even though the character is technically only, like, ten. It’s one of those shows. Now that I look at the cover again, it also looks like it was ridiculously racist, too…
The reason why it holds a place in my heart, though, has nothing to do with the anime itself. It takes me back to the house of one my best friends. Back in the day, we used to have these giant sleepovers around Christmastime, just to touch base with each other.
This year in particular, I was doing…very badly mentally. You’ll notice that this is a bit of trend with me in these posts. We had been watching a movie together, and everyone else had fallen asleep, but I hadn’t really slept in like, two weeks, so I was awkwardly awake. I looked across the room to find that my other friend was also awake! Thank God! I shuffled over to her, and then before I knew it I was crying about my life and how tired I was and blah blah blah. We were very close friends, but we were also both very emotionally awkward, so she wasn’t really sure how to handle this random outburst. So, she pulled up Jungle de Ikou, because she remembered watching it on demand as a kid and thinking it was weird. She knew that if there was one thing I enjoyed, it was bad ecchi anime, especially ones that were twenty years old. And so, we watched all three episodes, occasionally awakening one of our other friends with our laughter (they were not into anime and were definitely judging us). When we finished, the sun was rising. It was a very sweet moment, shared over a very bad, very problematic OVA.
Ping Pong the Animation
Another one that reminds me of a good friend. I used to work at this GOD AWFUL seafood restaurant during the summer, but one year was kind of a blast because one of my good friends from high school was working there, too. Turned out, she was big on anime, and recommended this to me. I didn’t really expect to enjoy an anime about ping-pong as much as I did, but I’m very glad she pushed me to watch it because I loved it a lot.
We were both always busy, so we only saw each other at work. I would catch her between tables and tell her about the last episode I watched and how I felt about each character. We both talked about the art style, about the nature of competition, about how surprisingly intense ping-pong was…we talked about all of it for weeks, catching each other whenever there was a lull in our sections. That job really sucked, and I was always sweaty and stressed, but at least I had my friend and our ping pong anime talks. It’s a simple thing, but it was so nice to have something to talk about other than work. Oh, and it turns out she just got a Ping Pong The Animation tattoo not too long ago, so now this anime will REALLY always remind me of her!
Mob Psycho 100
This is kind of cheating, because I only watched this about 2 years ago, but I have sentimental memories of it anyways. My boyfriend and I had just started Officially Dating, and we were still in that weird awkward phase where you’re not entirely sure what to do when you hang out together (other than, like, bang, obviously). We both liked anime, which is pretty much what got us talking to each other in the first place, so I proposed we watched a series together. I looked forward to watching each new episode with him and talking with him about it. He let me talk to him about how I wished there were more girl characters and how the ones that were there should also be kicking ass; I listened to him tell me about all the main characters from old shounen who reminded him of Mob; and of course we both got a big kick out of Reigen and talked about how great he was. Believe me, when you’re as big of a dork as me, it’s a relief to know your new significant other can talk about an anime episode for a good hour after it’s ended.
Mob Psycho 100 was the first of many date night viewings between us. We’ve got a lot of those under our belt now – we just finished the whole Selector Wixoss series together! I actually didn’t like Mob Psycho as much as a lot of other people did – I mean liked it, but it’s not entirely my thing – but I’m always gonna feel sappy about it just because it was the first series I could tag as “date night anime” on MAL. The two of us don’t really have the same tastes (I’m pretty sure he liked Mob more than I did, and he also really loves Terraformars, which is something that I can’t fathom), but it’s a treat to share our opinions and experiences with each other even though they don’t always match up.
I have 175 completed anime on my list now, and these definitely aren’t the only ones that inspire sappy memories. If I kept going, I’d be here all day! I’m never quite sure exactly how much y’all are really willing to read in one blog post, so I’ll wrap it up here and save some of these other stories for the future. I’ve shared so many anime experiences with friends and gone on so many slice of life depression binges that I could write a million words reminiscing on what certain anime meant to me…which is, of course, why I started this little series in the first place.
Not to be the Cheese Queen again, but I really do believe that the reason we all watch and enjoy anime goes beyond just enjoying big titty cartoons – we often see ourselves reflected in the stories. Therefore, we carry a piece of us in every anime we’ve really enjoyed. Reviews that talk about objective merits are great and definitely serve their purpose, but what I really like to hear about is all the goofy subjective joys you’ve experienced watching an old show.
Are there any specific series that make you think of your childhood, or a specific series that remind you of an old friend? Ever have a soft spot for a really shitty anime just because you watched it with a good friend? I’d love to hear your stories, whether in the comments or in a whole other blog post!