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Nostalgia November: Childhood Japanese Anime TV Shows

As a kid, I was incredibly influenced by television. The technicoloured images flying across the screen gave birth to excitement and adventure in my mundane, quiet childhood life. I lived vicariously through the eyes of my TV idols like the kids in Digimon who save the world with their monster friends, and yearned for the friendships forged between Pokémon and their trainers. Sure, I was a Barney & Friends lover and Disney addict but there were a few Japanese shows that I had an unexplainable love for as a child. It’s no wonder I grew up to become weaboo trash continue loving Japanese culture and productions.

Being the second last month of the year, November seems to be a time of reminiscing. And reflecting on goals you set for yourself in January that you didn’t quite manage to stick to. (There’s always next year, right?) Let’s take a break from our hectic lives to recall the fonder memories of our yester years.

Cardcaptor Sakura (カードキャプターさくら)

What started out as a manga series serialized in 1996 grew to become a global franchise. For good reason too! Cardcaptor Sakura clinched the coveted Seiun Award for Best Manga in 2001 and is praised by critics worldwide for its impressive depth, character development and its unique spin on the fantasy shoujo genre. 

One of my most memorable childhood gifts was Sakura’s wand that lighted up and released the classic magic sounds when swung down. I absolutely loved that toy and I probably spent hours swinging that darn thing around and living my magical girl dreams.

I also had a Kero alarm clock! It was definitely one of my most treasured possessions.

Hamtaro (とっとこハム太郎)

Hamsters have never looked so cute! We all remember Hamtaro with his iconic sunflower seed and bunch of equally cute friends. When I was a kid, I had plastic pencil caps in all colours of the rainbow, sprinkled with glitter and tiny Hamtaros, and I loved them so much.

Digimon (デジモン)

Digimon was a show that made a huge impact on me as a child. I was inexplicably drawn to its premise and characters, and as a soon-to-be-adult looking back on it, I can see why. It’s an almost dystopian setting featuring pre-teens fighting evil forces with their pet companions in both the digital and the real world. Being a child myself, the idea of children battling such formidable foes and forging bonds with powerful monsters was almost breath-taking. And, um, I had a huge crush on the blonde dude.

I also loved the evolutions. The monsters usually looked very different each time and even changed personalities. My favourite was, and still is, Patamon’s. I mean, how could this cutie patootie:

Turn into this angel hottie:

But you probably have your own biases so here’s an old school video of the different evolutions:

Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール)

I personally never watched Dragon Ball but it’s practically a crime to leave it out of this list. It is a true classic which debuted in Weekly Shōnen Jump during 1984. The manga was incredibly, colossally influential and the volumes sold millions in Japan alone. The main character, Goku, earned the admiration of young boys everywhere and became the timeless, unprecedented poster boy of shōnen battle manga. Needless to say, the anime followed suit in popularity and became a huge mainstream success in the West.

Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン)

If Dragon Ball is the pinnacle of classic shōnen anime, Sailor Moon would be its shoujo equivalent. To this day, Sailor Moon enjoys a vast and universal fan base and its dreamy, girly vibes have attracted a present day niche cult following of hipster teen girls. Its unyielding popularity is evident in the fact that a modern remake of the 1992 anime was released earlier on in July this year, and boy, were expectations high. 

On another note, have any of you played this emulator game before? I remember being obsessed with it and playing it on my cousin’s chunky PC. Never got past the gooey body-sucking demons though, sigh.

Hello Kitty (ハローキティ)


Next, we have everyone’s favourite anthropomorphic animal! Hello Kitty is a walking, talking bundle of cute and she has throngs of loyal fans all over the world who are slave to her irresistible kawaii-ness. After so many years, Hello Kitty still sits on her throne in the limelight as the reigning kitty princess of everything adorable. But is there a secret to her never-ending appeal across different ages and nationalities?

As quoted from The Straits Times, Ms Janet Hsu, president and chief operating officer of Sanrio's North American arm, aptly explains that “she evolves by integrating herself into pop culture and collaborating with relevant partners. That's why she's had this enduring appeal for 40 years."

I remember watching an episode of the anime whereby Hello Kitty was eating curry and rice. (It looked more like mashed potatoes and gravy but I’m guessing it’s the former) She was too greedy and asked for a super large portion despite her parents’ chastising. 

In the end, she could not finish her food and it was wasted. Basically, the moral of the story was that you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s a pretty cynical metaphor for life now that I look back on it as an older person. But the scene stayed in my head through the years for some reason. Probably because that brown mush looked so dang good.

Doraemon (ドラえもん)

Again, this is another show I never watched but is much too iconic to not have a spot here. Fun fact: Did you know that the second edition of the anime clocked a whopping 1,787 episodes? That’s insane! 

In more recent news, Doraemon’s Japanese production company has teamed up with Disney to bring the 2005 edition to the Disney XD Channel in the United States, with the agreement being officially announced during May this year.

Pokémon (ポケモン)

Lastly, we have the show that made us want to catch them all. Pokémon also had some genius puns and sassy comebacks. The reason why our generation is so corny and sarcastic is probably because we subconsciously absorbed all their bad jokes. Thanks Pokémon, you educated me in all the right ways.

Remember fervently collecting those shiny cards and playing the games on a big ass Gameboy? Those were good times. I’ve recently gotten into playing them again, along with some epic hacks, and thus, rekindling my love for the little pocket critters.

Remember crying when Ash said goodbye to Butterfree, cheering when Pikachu beat Raichu, and quaking in your boots when the team got stuck in the sunken ship? We were so invested in the show, in the characters. Their joy was our joy, their pain was our pain. And most importantly, Pokémon taught us about the power of friendship, kindness and how to care for the world we live in.

Written by Faelan

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