And so begins my attempt at the 30 Day Anime Challenge.
This one was pretty easy: what’s the first Anime I ever watched?
Well, my answer is likely the same as most guys who grew up watching Toonami after school:
Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z was the first Anime I ever watched, even though I wasn’t aware it was Anime at the time. As a kid, I was immersed in this show like no other. I still remember the exact time it aired on TV: every weekday, after school, at 5pm on Cartoon Networks Toonami block. I’d rush home from school every day, and speed through dinner with my family in the kitchen as fast as possible to make sure I wouldn’t miss a single minute of Goku and the Z fighters battling the likes of Freiza or Cell. At times, I would fight with my Dad for the remote, because he would want to watch football, and there was no way I was missing Goku throw that Spirit Bomb.
After Dragon Ball Z ended with the Kid Buu Saga, it was pulled from UK television, and I never saw the series again for years after that. It became a distant memory that I would always remember, but ultimately, I was never able to watch it anywhere. I didn’t know about streaming at that point, and my family stuck with dial-up internet a lot longer than most households did.
Then, one year, while I was on holiday in America, something intriguing caught my eye. I was browsing through Walmart for video games and what did I see? In a big orange box: Dragon Ball Z. The complete first season. I couldn’t believe it. Dragon Ball Z? On DVD? This was unbelievable! Without hesitation, I happily grabbed it off the shelf, bought it, took it back to the villa we were renting out, and watched the entire set in five days.
I went back to Walmart the next week and bought the second season as well, and my love for Dragon Ball Z was rekindled.
This was a crucial moment in my life. Had I never caught sight of that DVD, I’d probably have never become an Anime fan and as a result I’d probably be a very different person than I am today.
Dragon Ball Z introduced me to the medium of Anime. It was my first step into a world of endless entertainment that continues to be full of excitement and wonder with every passing year, a realm of storytelling that I could really relate to, that I could connect to in ways that I never could with TV or movies.
And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Dragon Ball Z gets a lot of flack from the Anime community today. People whine about the pacing, the storytelling and the constant power ups and transformations, but I’ve never really seen any of those things as a problem.
Feel free to call me a nostalgic if you want, but I genuinely believe that the show is still great, even by today’s standards, and if for some reason you haven’t watched it, I strongly recommend doing so. It’s a piece of history that every Anime fan should watch.
I still have those old Dragon Ball Z DVD’s on my shelf. They deserve a place on there, right next to all the other shows I’ve added to my collection since. And yes, I still watch them from time to time, although my most recent rewatch is long overdue.
Dragon Ball Z made me an Anime fan, it played a big part in shaping me into the person I am today, and without it, there’s a high chance I wouldn’t be writing this blog, as an Anime fan.
So once again, thank you Dragon Ball Z!
What was your first Anime?