Speed Racer/Mach Go Go Go or Sailor Moon/Bishoujou Senshi Sailormoon
I think why this is so confusing for me, and frankly a lot of people my age, is that anime was really beginning to gain ground on US television before most people didn’t really know that it was anime. It wasn’t advertised as such until Toonami, so most kids were watching anime without knowing it. Who could blame us though? Sure some of us might have realized a lot of these shows that we now know as anime had a similar art style at their core, but so did other cartoons around that time (I remember when I thought SilverHawks was a sequel to ThunderCats). I never had any siblings and my parents really weren’t knowledgeable on the history of animation. All my parents knew is that Speed Racer was still in syndication, and that this Sailor Moon show looked somewhat like it. All I knew is that I thought both of these shows were fun so I watched them. Oh and I’m also certain I watched Voltron, but I normally missed it on TV.
I know I watched these shows but I have no real memories of watching them. All of what I recall from them are more recent memories; I watched both of these shows, and a number of other anime from this time in US Broadcast history, last year. For me Speed Racer holds up. It may be because I consider myself an animation, buff but there is a definite charm to the original as well as the US adaptation. There was also some things you notice now that you really didn’t before, like how Trixie/Michi Shimura (Speed/Go Mifune’s girlfriend) is a pretty capable heroine.
Sailor Moon on the other hand has not faired so well. In either adaptation I just cannot get behind Serena/Usagi. There is definitely something there but it is hard for me to get pass the initial episodes before she wises up and becomes more competent (although to be fair she is probably a very accurate representation of of a tween/teen girl).
A lot of people also phrase a question like this as “What was the first anime you knew was an anime”, as if all other shows before don’t really count. I think it is silly to think this way but if I had to answer this as well (also since it is a much more interesting question than those that will follow) I will have to say Gundam Wing fits that bill. I clearly remember the Toonami block pushing the fact that Gundam Wing and the others shows in their block came “straight/fresh from Japan”. I can’t say I still favor Gundam Wing too; I didn’t think it was worth the pickup when Bandai dissolved its US anime distribution. I feel the heroes in that conflict are overall very lackluster and I believe a good Gundam show (or show similar to it) needs to have strong characters on both sides on the conflict. I still think the first opening is still catchy after all these years.