At least so I thought back when I just started high school and had my first encounter with anime. At that time I had grown tired of all the generic western cartoons due to their lack of a grander plot that stretched several episodes. Scooby Doo and the gang always found themselves in some dodgy place, saw something spooky and in one way or another solved the mystery and caught the bad guy pretending to be a monster. But that was it, no connection between episodes, no grand plot or evil mastermind. All the episodes were small standalone cartoons that quickly got quite boring as there was never anything new to them. This is where anime comes in
During a LAN party in at my local high school, I noticed a group of guys, most of them in their late teens or early twenties, watching cartoons on their computers which all seemed to be plastered with stickers of female cartoon characters in skimpy outfits. Some even sported small plush toys on top of them for decoration. Being a young teen with no knowledge whatsoever about anime, this first encounter with this particular community did not exactly leave me with the best of impressions. It was only later, after some intensive matches in Battlefield, that I went over to the "weird nerds" to find out who the opposing players were. During my little chat with them I also asked about the cartoons they were watching. That question changed my life.
I was given a quick introduction to a few mainstream series that was popular at the time, one of them a ninja-themed series with a troublemaking kid dressed in an orange jumpsuit-looking outfit as the main character. Silly right? Well, after agreeing to give it a chance and watched the first episode, I found myself liking it more than I would have thought. Before I knew it, all the episodes I borrowed had been watched and I wanted more - luckily I was sitting in a place with a whole bunch of people into this "anime" thing close by.
Over the following few months I saw a lot of anime from all kinds of different genres. One thing I liked in particular was that the series usually revolved around one big story with a connecting thread throughout the episodes. I quickly found myself having a favourite series such as Full Metal Panic!, Chrno Crusade, Fullmetal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, Fate/Stay Night and a few others. Around the same time as I started watching anime I also joined one of the first online anime communities in Denmark called Animeguiden, where I got to know new people with similar interest. It also was not until this point it dawned on me that series like Pok mon and Dragon Ball were also Japanese cartoons - or anime, as I was told the "proper" name for them was.
It was also through Animeguiden and a yearly gathering some of the core people of the forum organised that I first heard of J-popcon, the only anime and manga convention in Denmark at the time. That however is a story for the next part.