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All anime fans remember what their first anime was. Nearly everyone has watched — and possibly loved — an anime series at some point in their lives, even if they didn’t know it.
Some series are designed specifically to be a good starter anime for new viewers, acting as a gateway to introduce them to the tropes and conventions of this special art form.
If you were to look back on your first anime series, chances are it is one of the ones listed below.
If you were a child growing up in the ’60s, or the ’80s, there’s a good chance that Astro Boy was your introduction to the world of anime. The original black-and-white ’60s series and the ’80s colour remake were among the first Japanese series to gain widespread popularity in Western countries. Astro Boy follows the adventures of Astro, a super-powered robot boy enhanced with the special ability to experience human feelings. A second remake in 2003, in honour of the year in which the original series was set, probably brought Astro Boy new life as the first anime for a new generation of children.
Launched in 1984, Voltron was one of a group of anime series heavily edited and retitled for Western audiences, and was a first taste of what anime was like for many ’80s kids. Voltron’s distinct halves were created from two completely different anime series, Beast King GoLion and Armored Fleet Dairugger XV. The Beast King GoLion segment follows a gang of teens piloting Lion robots and remains the most well-known. While Armored Fleet Dairugger XV became known as Vehicle Voltron (hinted to exist at the end of Legendary Defender Season 8!). The Voltron brand was revived in 2016 with the Netflix series Voltron: Legendary Defender.
First seen in Western countries in 1992, Sailor Moon introduced many of us to anime’s widespread ‘Magical Girl’ genre. The series follows Serena (Usagi in the original), aka Sailor Moon, and her friends the Sailor Scouts, as they battle the evil forces of Queen Beryl and the Negaverse. The original English dub, featuring Supa-Stars Linda Ballantyne and Katie Griffin as the voices of Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars, holds a special place in the hearts of the kids who grew up watching it.
For any ’90s kids who missed the Sailor Moon era, their first anime was almost certainly Pokémon. The late ’90s saw Poké-mania grip the world and Pikachu quickly becoming an icon. As well as the show, the video games, toys, and often-banned Pokémon cards added to the craze. While no longer reaching the almost insane levels of the ’90s to early ’00s, the popularity of the franchise has never completely died away; obvious with the phenomenon the Pokémon Go game became in 2016. With its show about to enter its 22nd season, Pokémon remains a popular ‘gateway anime’ for new fans.
In the event that a child was living under a rock and missed Poké-mania, they may have jumped on the anime train with Digimon instead. The first few seasons of Digimon follow a group of children known as the DigiDestined and their monster partners, Digimon, in a battle to save the Digital World. While some dismissed Digimon as a cheap Pokémon knock-off, die-hard fans often claim that the Digimon anime had a much better story, due to its well-developed characters and higher stakes. The Pokémon versus Digimon debate continues to this day.
DRAGON BALL Z
For some kids, Pokémon might not have really been their thing. While the battles were cool, they weren’t so big on the cute creatures. Lucky for those kids, Dragon Ball Z was soon on the way. For nine seasons, each divided into a few shorter ‘sagas’, fans watched Goku and the Z-Fighters do battle with the numerous aliens, monsters and other evil beings who came along wanting to destroy the Earth. Unfortunately, the earlier series Dragon Ball, and sequel Dragon Ball GT, did not reach the same levels of popularity. After a long break, the franchise was revived by two popular movies, eventually leading to another sequel series, Dragon Ball Super. The sequel series managed to attract both old and new fans, proving there’s still a bit of magic left in the Dragon Balls.
Sailor Moon fans will get to share their memories of the series with Linda Ballantyne and Katie Griffin when they hit Supanova Adelaide (November 2-3) and Brisbane (November 8-10)!