When I think about the geeky interests I have, anime has always been my first love before video games. I obsessively searched for and explored all the anime I could get my hands on. I fell in love with many and faithfully rewatched them when the mood struck. But as I got older and adult responsibilities took over my time, anime steadily declined for me. I could no longer keep up with what was new and critically acclaimed by anime fans, and anime was the last thing I seemed to want to watch when I had some downtime.
I may be considered old and no longer aware of what’s hip and cool in the anime world, but there will always be those few that will forever be evergreen in my mind. Ones I will gladly return to if I felt like revisiting my old love anime.
I have watched plenty of anime in my time and have a personal list of top favorites. Despite having a number of what would likely be considered “classic” anime recommendations, there are two that will have special places in my heart. Those two are Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.
The first time I watched Sailor Moon I was in junior high. Anime was a new type of animation that hadn’t quite exploded and become mainstream in the U.S. like it is today. Part of the appeal of Sailor Moon was seeing an ordinary teenager become a pretty soldier of justice who defended the world against evil. When I was making that transition into my own teenage years, Sailor Moon felt relatable. Usagi went to school, she liked going to the mall with her friends, and she had crushes on cute boys. The only part that wasn’t relatable was the enormous responsibility of being a fighter against evil forces.
Sailor Moon was pure escapist fantasy and it was the kind of anime I willingly surrendered to week after week when my own adolescent life was boring, or I was having a particularly bad day.
Cardcaptor Sakura followed a few years after Sailor Moon graced American television, and though the characters in Cardcaptor Sakura were even younger than the ones in Sailor Moon, it was also a magical girl anime that followed a young girl who had the responsibility of collecting and sealing away cards that escaped from a book known as the Clow book.
It has been many years since I’ve watched either show, but those are the two I always think and reminisce about out of all the other anime I have watched when I was much younger. Aside from both shows having really beautiful or cute animation with stories and characters you want to go on this journey with, I will always credit both Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura for getting me into manga.
Sailor Moon, written by Naoko Takeuchi, and Cardcaptor Sakura, written by a group of women known as CLAMP, were both a manga first before they became an anime. Considering I was already an avid book reader, adding manga to my reading list was a no-brainer. Manga made me appreciate the original stories these women wrote for girls, and the gorgeous artwork they put together to keep you glued to their books. Growing up, Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura without a doubt became something comforting for me to lose myself in after all the homework and studying were done.
When I think about the other anime I have watched, and most of them high caliber shows, I always return to the two that left the biggest impression on me. Maybe the reason why has more to do with watching young girls who feel unsure of themselves gain their confidence overtime to believe in their ability to accomplish anything, whether it’s fighting youmas or coming up against powerful magical beings who doubt the main character’s own power.
As a young girl I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I had to do a lot of work on myself over the years to start believing in myself and my own capabilities. Seeing Usagi or Sakura wrestle with their own doubts and insecurities, and watching the two girls overcome them to emerge victorious, was inspiring. It might sound silly that a “cartoon” had that kind of influence over me but it did.
Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura were more than just “chick fantasy” with cute girls and flashy costumes or transformations. To me these two shows offered a space for girls to feel empowered and to believe in their own self-worth. I may continue to age and be past the demographic anime mostly caters to, but Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura will continue to live on as the anime shows that were pure magic in every sense of the word.
Do you have an anime that will always hold a special place in your heart, no matter how old you get?