Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a huge animation junkie. I grew up on a diet of cartoons and (even though I didn’t know it at the time) anime, with a fairly large side order of video games. Well, games became the main focus during my teenage years, since there wasn’t that many cool cartoons on TV post the CN boom.

It was in my first year of varsity that a friend gave me a few episodes of Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion, and Trigun. And as cliched as it sounds, the rest is history. Perhaps the best way to explain how much I grew to love these stories from Japan, is to tell you the story of the first time I watched Princess Mononoke.

It was a Friday night. I’d spent the last two weeks downloading Princess Mononoke through Kazaa on my horribly slow 56k modem. I got about 70 to 80 megs per night and, assuming everything went according to plan, tonight would be the last night of waiting. I’d heard about this movie making waves in the United States and Japan, and I was so excited I literally couldn’t sleep. The download timer said 6 hours, so it should be done by about 4 am. I sat up the whole night reading, watching the download slowly trickle down, and making sure my internet didn’t disconnect. The hours slowly dragged on. The speeds went down and up in waves, turning my 4 am estimation to a 6am estimation. Still, I sat and waited until 5.30 am, when Kazaa finally finished the file.

It was here. The story that would change my life.

I started watching at 5.30 am. I finished at about 7.30 am. I dragged myself off to bed and lay there, completely in awe of the amount of work that had gone into it. I eventually fell asleep at about 9.00 am.

I woke up at 5.00 pm. I bounced out of bed, saw no one was at the computer, and quickly made my way downstairs to grab some food. I grabbed a plate of mutton curry (our standard Saturday lunch) and rushed back upstairs. I threw on my headphones and watched Princess Mononoke again.

I burnt a couple of copies and gave them to the usual suspects. I knew the movie would spread like wildfire. A friend of mine, who was never really into anime, heard about it and asked if he could watch it at my work. I made a plan, and after the movie he very simply asked me to give me the best shows I had. He would arguably go on to be an even bigger fan than me.

The reason why I am writing this is because I am watching Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Having watched the original FMA, I left this show on the backburner for ages since I thought I already knew the story. The first twelve or so episodes follow the same plot as the original show, but after that, things go to shit, but in an absolutely fantastically, awesome way! It feels so strange watching these characters in a different version of the story I originally watched, but knowing that they actually feel more at home here in FMA:BH than they do in FMA. BH is a lot more mature than the original FMA, and there’s so much more depth to the story, and the way it keeps on getting revealed is absolutely astounding!

Over the years, I felt like I’d lost touch with anime. Once in a while, something would grab me, but it was usually surrounded by a slew of boring stories. Honestly, it felt like it was catering to only the hardcore Otaku, who have… let’s just say, very specific tastes.

All the classic sci-fi, the gritty fantasy, the completely off beat humour that I had grown up with, was all gone.

But this? It feels like the first time I watched anime, and it’s incredible!