I've loved Japanese culture since I was 7 years old. It started about the time my cousin showed me a Pokemon game. A few months later I bought my first Game Boy and a game – Pokemon Gold Edition. After that I read my first manga. It was, of course, Pokemon Adventures. After that it was easy: more manga, more games (Final Fantasy, Ace Attorney and so on), books, guidebooks, language books, internet, in 2012 my first convention… overall, it's twelve years so far.

So… in this post I'd like to describe some Japanese franchises which are somehow important to me. There are, surprisingly, many titles which are pretty new (and by new I mean from 2010s), but they are just great, so I have to list them as well.

#1 – Pokémon

This franchise is the most important of all. As I said, it was my starting point, but not only. Pokemon Gold, which was my very first real game, is after twelve years still my favourite game. After that I played Ruby Edition, or, to be more precise, Rubin Edition, the Spanish one. It was just available on a marketplace in my neighbourhood. I have strong memories of playing Pokemon in my classroom, on holiday etc. When I got my first PC and an internet connection, the whole new world appeared. It was super effective. (I could connect to the internet on my aunt's computer before, but I could visit her mostly on Saturdays, that wasn't very often). Well, the internet simply meant forums and special websites. I just wanted to know everything about the Pokemon universe. Every new generation is an adventure: dozens of leaks, looking for them every day, waiting for new CoroCoro issues and Pokemon Sunday episodes. After that: new game bought as soon as possible and beaten during the weekend, sometimes a bit longer. Every save is an adventure – repeatable, but always enjoyable. Between the release of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl and Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver I had a break, but after that my interest returned stronger. Fifth generation was a surprise, but very good one. The plot was extraordinarily mature and complex (for this series), unfortunately GameFreak forgot about that plot standards in X/Y. And now we are looking forward to the release of Pokemon Sun/Moon, the seventh generation. This generation is special, because it was announced on February 26, a day before the 20th anniversary of the release of the first instalments of the Pokemon series – ポケットモンスター 赤・緑, a.k.a. Pokemon Red and Green. They have to sum up these twenty years in a one game. (Pokémon Direct is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qBHfd2NtJs). I don't want to write about Pokemon manga and anime, because I haven't got any strong memories of them. Pokemon Special (manga) is just ok, and anime is a damn bullshit, absolutely NSFW (except of Pokemon Origins, which was good only because it was based directly on the games). This note, BTW, will be published on the 27th February, as my part of the 20th Pokemon Anniversary celebration (I hope so, it's 23:05 now… Published on: Feb 27, 2016 @ 23:49, it was so close).

#2 – Nintendo

If Pokemon is my first favourite Japanese franchise, then Nintendo is the second one. It's known as the oldest company producing video consoles and games (It was founded in 1889 and started video game business in 1974) or the company, which has been foreseen to die since the 50s, but is very resistant to that. My story with Nintendo starts on the very same moment when my Pokemon story, but is a little bit different. At start it was just a producer of the console, which is used to play Pokemon, later it became the only decent producer of my video game consoles. My collection is based (almost) only on Nintendo consoles and games for them. Why? Well, games for Nintendo consoles are different from the other ones. At the first sight they are… kind of childish (not always, but very often), but they are simply the most enjoyable. I've spend hundreds of hours playing Pokemon, Mario, Ace Attorney (this series is not first-sight-childish) etc. It's worth reminding that Nintendo hardly ever provides the strongest hardware in the video games generation. Their strength are their first and second party games. And that's why we love them, isn't that?

#3 – Steins;Gate

This title might be a surprise for you. It's not a classic, beloved franchise like Pokemon, it's also rather new. Why I put it there? Well, it's simply my favourite anime and manga series. Both manga and anime are based on the Steins;Gate game, a Japanese visual novel. I don't want to describe the story, I don't want to spoil it. I'd only say, that this is the best time-travel story I've ever read. There are many great characters, plot twists are everywhere and the atmosphere is very geeky.

#4 – Great Teacher Onizuka

This is my initiation into the world of decent anime and manga. It's absolutely not for 11-years-old kids like me (back then), but it was a good dive into the world of real anime. After completing this franchise I got really interested in a world of Japanese popculture, not just the games.

#5 - Every single film made by Studio Ghibli

Nuff said.

#6 – Boku dake ga Inai Machi

This is the last franchise listed in this very post. It's really an interesting case, because two weeks ago I didn't know anything about it. During my winter break my friend visited me and showed me this humble anime series. We watched all the episodes, I begged for more but it's still ongoing, so I had to read manga, which is also ongoing ;_;. Even though, I love it. Partly because it's in a certain sense similar to Steins;Gate, I mean, it has the same advantages, but served in a very different way.

If any of the names are new for you, I seriously recommend changing that.


Background photo made by Jason Ortego and published on unsplash.com. Thanks!

(Ok, maybe I oversimplified this story a little bit, but it doesn't matter)
(And no, I haven't played Undertale yet…
…but yes, the title is obviously a reference to the game.)