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Well, like every French from my generation (yes I'm French, so sorry for the grammar faults and also some of the links are to Frensh sites), I have been introduced to Japan animation with the standards Captain Future-Albator-Goldorak and the French/Japan masterpiece Golden cities. Also later on, there was the Club Dorothée which was at almost 100% made by Japanese stuff like City Hunter, Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya.
Growing up, I forgot about all that, and it just became a topic of dicussion when you would sing the old generics with your friends. On the contrary I never stop reading Bande Dessinée (yes I was one of this annoying guys who sit at the Fnac never buying an album). Well, in France, we are lucky since Bande dessinée are very popular and therefore we have a large number of good authors. What a shock when I read La quête de l'oiseau du temps or L'Incal for the first time. For the animation, I continued to go to the cinema to watch the yearly Disney or Pixar, until Princess Mononoke was released in France (arround year 2000). That was a revelation, Japanese were also able to make animation worth seing. I must admit I have never missed a Miyasaki since then and that they have a good place in my animetheque.
That was also around that time, that Manga started to be released in France. First some conventional success with Akira and the printing of Dragon Ball. Then, came Jirō Taniguchi. He was perfect to introduce Manga in France : A european style drawing, really good stories in a few volumes. Critics loved him and he received a deserve price in Angoulême for Quartier Lointain. That's when Manga start to become a success (being on par with the traditionnal series last year)
Next : How I discovered One Piece