Other than the first couple episodes of Naruto, the earliest anime I have a really distinct memory of is from the Skypeia arc of One Piece. My family went to someone’s house for dinner, and it was a Sunday night, so their son retreated for half an hour to watch the new One Piece episode.
It’s weird now, looking back. I remember his parents being a little like, “We have company.” But back then, when you missed something, you missed it. There was no DVR or online streaming a couple hours later. In theory, there was VHS taping, but that was unreliable, and you still had to be present to start the recording.
I think that’s part of why fandoms have gotten so much bigger in the last ten, fifteen years. We have the ability to find things again. You don’t have to get the short version (complete with awful sound effects) from your friend at school the day after. You can just Google something, and there will be some form of it online.
Maybe that’s why a lot of the original fandoms were around things like books and comics. Both of those things can be found again. They’re not on cable once and never again until they’re cringey old reruns. You can find books again in libraries, second-hand stores, your nana’s guest bathroom, etc etc.
When I went back and started watching One Piece from the beginning, it was a pretty ambitious effort. There were 500 or so episodes the first time I started. I watched through the last complete arc, waited for a while, and started the series over again. That’s kind of my MO for One Piece.
The last time I did this, I caught up on it for the very first time. It kind of snuck up on me. One Piece is notorious for long story arcs, but I was like, “Oh, there’s 100 more episodes, this arc should be fine to start.” Of course not, right? So I spent a summer watching One Piece one week at a time like a peasant.
Side note: I just went to confirm the dates on that. It’s been two years almost to the date since I watched a new One Piece episode. The last one I’ve seen is 739, which aired May 1, 2016. I thought for sure it was only last summer, but it’s been TWO YEARS.
So anyway, I’m a good 100 episodes behind again now. Time to start over, don’t you think? There’s 828 episodes out as of today though, so I’ll probably be working on this for a while…