If someone were to ask me to name the show that made me fall in love with anime, I would honestly have to reply, “I don’t remember.”
There were three anime that I watched roughly at the same time, and my memory is honestly fuzzy regarding which one I technically saw “first”. The anime I can recall watching early on was Ranma 1/2, Fist of the North Star, and Vampire Hunter D.
While I very much enjoyed Ranma 1/2 and Fist of the North Star, I can’t really credit either of those for really sparking my love for anime. Around the same time, I was also watching Neon Genesis Evangelion and Akira. While great anime in of itself, neither Evangelion or Akira made me want to watch more. I had a good friend that really tried to get me into Dragonball Z, but it just wasn’t my thing.
The memory I can mostly associate with the feeling of awe was watching Vampire Hunter D.
I had a friend in high school who recently came out to me. He asked me to accompany him to teen night at a gay bar and I, of course, agreed. I loved going to clubs and dancing, so it was a no-brainer. I remember getting overheated and needed a break from the loud music. They had an area that had a television on away from the main dancefloor. It was playing Vampire Hunter D. I can recall getting sucked in. At this point in my life, I had only been exposed to very limited genres of anime, and honestly, none of the genres I had been exposed to were making me a life-long fan of anime.
What was this deliciously dark anime? I had no idea that anime like this existed. If you aren’t familiar with Vampire Hunter D, it was originally released in 1985 as a movie. It is the classic story of the protagonist being a product of two worlds. Half vampire. Half human. He lives in a post-apocalyptical world where he hunts vampires. It was dark, and very Lovecraftian, and I can honestly say, it was my gateway into the darker genres that I love so much.
To this day, I gravitate toward vampire-themed, horror, and/or psychological thriller anime. I think that all started with Vampire Hunter D. If you haven’t watched it, it is kind of hard to find. Only certain regions can access it on Netflix and/or Amazon.