I just finished Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, on Netflix, which is season two,, after Magi: Labyrinth of Magic. It wasn’t until the very end that I did any actual research on the series, only to learn there is a prequel, titled The Adventures of Sinbad, which I’ve just started watching now. Not yet sure if it was made first, or more likely, after the Magi series. The opening credits revealed most of the same major characters appear in this season.
I find anime entertaining mostly because it’s a harmless escape, but also because there are just so many genres. Most Americans only know about shojo, which is manga (comic books) or anime (animated video) designed for younger female audiences, such as Sailor Moon. Fewer know about shonen, which is manga and anime designed for younger male audiences, such as Naruto. Even fewer (thankfully) know about hentai, which is adult entertainment, usually involving phallic symbols. The most rare individual, is the one who knows there are actually dozens, if not hundreds, of kinds of anime and manga, including family friendly anime directed at grownups, most of which deals with high school youths gaining super powers or dozens of girlfriends.
Years ago, before anime was commercially available in the US, anime fans had to resort to “fansubs”. A fansub is generally a Japanese TV show, broadcast over the air, and recorded by a fan. The audio track gets processed by at least one team of fansub contributors, into the language you can understand. They then process the video to add local language subtitles, and repost the entire video to the world.
To be a fansub consumer, you just needed a web browser, and a modern video file player, like VLC. You can search google for the Anime News Network, which has a nice directory of anime series. Think of it as IMDB for Anime. You can lookup any series, who the major characters are, who did the voices, and where to find the fansub (unless it’s licensed commercially, because in that case, fansubs would be illegal). Once a series becomes licensed for your country, most reputable fansub websites will delete all links to the fansubs in your language for that series, because they never want to go to court for piracy. Fansubs exist in a legal gray area, where they are only allowed to produce video that isn’t legally licensed in your country.
That gray area has been providing the world with mucho entertainment for many years now. Fansubs still exist, but so many series are being commercialized that the groups that produce fansub subtitles have dwindled to a shadow of it’s former self.
Back before Naruto was licensed in the US, I downloaded many 26 episode seasons of fansubs to watch. Sometimes I’d switch fansub subtitle producers, because I preferred the product. Some subtitle producers try to translate every single word into an Americanized version, but the good ones will leave some of the Japanese terms so you get to learn a bit of the culture. I’m no expert on Japan, but I do know a lot more Japanese words and concepts than I did as a kid.