Round 1: My Very First

Like many Filipino kids growing up in the late 80s to early 90s, I had my share of watching Japanese cartoons on local TV. However, I never really knew that there was a term for it. All I knew that it was cartoons and it was Japanese. I remember my aunts and uncles telling me how they used to watch Voltes V but never got to finish it because of martial law.

Over the years, my brothers and I would get to watch various Japanese cartoon movies through our friendly neighborhood video store. My mother would take us there and let us pick our choices of cartoons (in Betamax!) to bring with us to the province. It wasn’t until I knew that they were called anime did I realize that I watched a few Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki classics, specifically Nausicaa and Pom Poko.

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The first anime that got me hooked on the whole shebang was Ranma 1/2. I was already a Dragonball fan with a huge crush on Trunks, and I had just discovered Yu Yu Hakusho because of an SNES game. I was a highschool freshman when one of my upperclassmen friends lent me a Betamax tape of the first six episodes of Ranma 1/2. While I was at first shocked by the nudity (which was doubly awkward as I was watching it with my then-elementary school age brothers), I grew to appreciate this wacky and weird Japanese cartoon.

There was something quite appealing about Ranma 1/2. It wasn’t just the overall cutesy look of the anime, and it wasn’t just the catchy opening theme song either (but those helped a lot). It was actually several things:

  • The idea that you can turn anything into a martial art was hilarious, but with the way Rumiko-san was portraying it, you couldn’t help but think that it is possible.
  • The characters are so colorful, and since nearly everyone was given their own er, airtime, you had time to pick your favorites and hate some along the way. I hated Shampoo with a passion, commiserated with Ukyou when it was clear that she was just a friend, sympathized with Mousse for being ignored. I hated Ranma for being insensitive, and I hated Akane for jumping to conclusions… yet I loved them all too.
  • Cute guys. My first crush in this series was Tatewaki Kuno… even though he lacked a little in his mental capabilities. I was fascinated by this Shakespeare quoting, sword toting, egotistical young man. My crush on Ranma came much, much later in the series.
  • Ranma and Akane. The story starts of with the arranged marriage of these two, but what kept me going was the question if they’ll actually end up together or not. As the story went on and on, I enjoyed every hijink but I was desperate to find out if they’ll make the relationship real or not. I loved the little shows of tenderness between the two, and I was frustrated every time nothing happens. In the end… bitin pa rin, haha.
  • Everything else. Wacky adventures, crazy cast of characters, storylines that make you laugh and cry… Ranma 1/2 has it all.

I grew to love other anime and manga series after that, but it was always Ranma 1/2 that I come back to if I wanted a nostalgic trip or if I wanted to show someone the joys of anime and manga. It also paved the way for me discovering other Rumiko Takahashi works, as well as a couple of other shonen manga artists. I love how timeless Ranma 1/2 is, and how anyone who’d pick it up today wouldn’t find it boring. Case point: My mom used to wonder why I liked it, but when she read it while waiting for me to finish with my pre-college physical exam, she finished reading all the volumes I had and even asked to watch the anime.

And that opening theme? Let’s see if this doesn’t stick to your head.

This blog post serves as my entry to the first round of Japanese Pop Culture for Filipino Fans Blog Carnival, hosted by magentic_rose.net.

Image courtesy of Furinkan.net.

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