When Pokemon debuted on American television, I started watching it and eventually got the Game Boy games. At the same time, I got hooked on Digimon. I followed both series for probably about a year or two and then quit Pokemon after the Ruby/Sapphire characters and May were introduced. I kept with Digimon until the fourth season, you know, the one where the kids transformed into monster forms. That was also when the show stopped airing on Fox Kids and went to syndication on my local UPN station.
Soon after Digimon began, I also started occasionally watching Cardcaptors, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Shaman King. I also remember that Moncolle Knights and Escaflowne were on Fox Kids at one time but I didn't really watch them because they didn't seem that interesting to me, a middle-school student.
My real push toward true otakudom began with Toonami and flipping through channels at night. On Cartoon Network, there was a late Saturday evening programming block called the Video Entertainment System or something like that. I started to watch some shows on there like Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, .hack//SIGN and kept watching because I liked them.
In (I think) the year 2002, I started to watch Adult Swim, for which I suppose I was a few years "underage". However, most of the Comedy shows on there like Home Movies and Futurama I had already seen on primetime network television so I felt that I was mature enough. After the Toonami/VES block ended, the Adult Swim block started and included shows like Big O, Inuyasha, Furi Kuri, and Kikaider. Soon after that, I followed Wolf's Rain and I've continued to tape anime on Adult Swim, most recently Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, and s-CRY-ed.
The third step was acquiring a thirst for fansubs. I had previously downloaded single, subbed episodes of various shows off eDonkey as well as some of the Digimon movies. It really wasn't until an issue of Newtype USA (December 2002), which had a cover story on .hack, caught my eye in a Borders (or was it Barnes & Noble) bookstore. The pack-in DVD was alright; it had the first episode of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi on it as well as some trailers for other ADV Films offerings. In the magazine itself, though, were articles on the first three series I saw from start to finish on fansubs: Full Metal Alchemist, Scrapped Princess, and Chrno Crusade.
My DVD collection, in terms of anime, started when I saw a used copy of Noir volume 1 at Blockbuster one day. I had gone in there for a 2 for $20 previewed sale and ended up also buying "American Splendor" and "Kill Bill Vol. 1". I came home and watched my purchased discs in the standalone DVD player I got that summer for my birthday. My desktop computer already had a DVD-ROM drive in it so I'd previously watched DVDs in my bedroom, but this standalone player connected to the TV. This convenience allowed me to lay on my bed and watch movies. After finishing the first Noir disc, I wanted to see the rest of the series. So I started to buy used copies of the other 6 volumes as well as those of other series.
There was an Anime Club at my high school but I had already entwined myself in many extracurricular activities like Yearbook and German Club. When I joined the collegiate, I joined the club here and also signed up for the newsletter of a couple of student organizations (College Dems & ACLU). I probably should go to one of their meetings one of these days. Oh, yeah, and the high-speed campus ethernet has very much helped me quench my thirst for fansubs. ^L^