My First Anime: Dragon Ball Z

I grew up on Saturday morning cartoons. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Beast Wars: Transformers and the 90’s X-Men cartoon were my gateway drugs; so it was not a big leap for me to dip my toe into the anime pool. It was the late 90’s and I saw a unique looking VHS tape for sale, featuring show I’d never seen before. It was the Funimation home video release of the American edited version of Dragon Ball Z. I paid for it with my own money (something that used to seem exciting) and popped it in the VCR back home not knowing what to expect.

The tape only had three episodes on it and I was unknowingly dropping in right in the middle of a massive storyline. If you’re a DBZ fan, then you’ll remember these three episodes as the first time Goku went full-on Super Saiyan and finally ‘killed’ Frieza while the planet of Namek was collapsing all around them (Oh sorry, spoiler alert for that cartoon from over 20 years ago). I didn’t understand why the characters stood around so much in the middle of a fight or why yelling made Goku so much stronger, but I was hooked on the series immediately. The whole look of the series was something completely new to me; the action, silly humor, and over the top storylines appealed to me. This series pushed the limits of cartoon violence that was acceptable for kids at that time, for me anyway, and the world they presented was one I instantly wanted to know everything about.

It found me at pretty much the perfect age when I had a bottomless supply of curiosity. It was something I discovered on my own and that made it much more valuable to me than all the shows the commercials told me I ‘had to watch.’ Later, I found out how heavily edited the American versions of the show were, but thankfully at my younger age I didn’t know and probably wouldn’t have cared. Some people will say there are much better and more purist versions of anime to start a kid out with, but I don’t care. That one is mine and how I started.

What was your first anime?

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