After all, it was mine.
For the majority of my life I was barely aware of anime, only hearing snippets of conversations from my peers about Bleach or Naruto in elementary school. I was always interested, but I never took the initiative to actually look up at what time or on which channels any shows were airing. In college, that changed substantially. One of my best friends was quite the shounen anime fan, and was willing to talk anyone’s ear off about shows like Dragon Ball or Attack on Titan. This put the medium on my radar, and set me up for the ultimate stimulus to finally take the plunge.
College was a magical time for me. A time when I realized that no one could yell at me for spending too much time playing video games or watching YouTube videos. I took full advantage of this, devoting as much time as I could to both. Two YouTube shows I loved were Screwattack’s Death Battle and Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailers. My interest in both has waned recently, but at the time I was enthralled by every video. So, when both shows collaborated with a mysterious group called “Team Four Star” in their Dragon Ball related videos, my interest was piqued. If they worked with the YouTube channels I liked so much then they must have interesting content, right?
It turned out that they made a show called Dragon Ball Z Abridged. “Hey, that sounds familiar,” I thought. “Back in grade school people talked about Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged all the time!” I didn’t really understand what it meant for a show to be “abridged,” but I was willing to give it a shot. Needless to say, the show was (and still is) phenomenal. Dubbing Dragon Ball Z as a comedy while also massively shortening the series was the perfect recipe for a bite-sized portion of anime goodness. Not only was the show consistently hilarious, I found myself captivated by the story and characters. I had no idea that Dragon Ball was so interesting and complex. Goku’s death and inevitable return, Piccolo’s fatherly sacrifice, Vegeta’s climactic defeat… despite the comedic framing I was completely hooked on the story. I was so invested that until the narrator asked, “Has anyone really not seen this show already?” at the end of the first arc, I had forgotten that I was watching a parody of the original show.
Once I was caught up on DBZA, I craved more of Team Four Star’s content. Fortunately, they had two more abridged series to enjoy. Hellsing Ultimate Abridged and (now removed due to copyright issues) Attack on Titan Abridged. Both were amazing, but their Attack on Titan parody ended up being the true ledge of the slippery slope. It never got another episode (due to the aforementioned issues), and it ended on what is probably the most hilarious cliffhanger in history: the main protagonist gets eaten and dies, the end. What? Is that what happened in the original show? Who becomes the main character? These questions pestered me to no end, until I was forced to watch the real series and find out.
Luckily, Netflix had every episode of Attack on Titan available. The only problem? It was in Japanese. I was hesitant to have to watch something with subtitles, but I absolutely had to know what happened next. I thoroughly enjoyed the show right until the end, but I was left in a dangerous position. I had just watched an anime... in the original Japanese. The gates were open. Now that I knew the subtitles were no problem, I could watch any show I wanted to. It wasn’t long before I had a Crunchyroll account and a strong opinion on Kill la Kill’s best girl (it’s Mako, by the way). I had become an anime fan.
While I may not be as well versed in anime as others might be (particularly on this site), I’m extremely glad that I got into the medium. There’s a whole lot I would have missed out on if I didn’t take that first step, and I have Team Four Star’s excellent parodies to thank for pointing me in the right direction. If you have a friend who is hesitant about sharing your love of anime, consider showing them an abridged series. It may just tip them over to your side of the fence.