I think the first anime I started watching regularly as a kid was Pokémon. Or maybe it was Digimon – both were on Cartoon Network and so tons of people watched them, along with other anime like Dragon Ball Z & Yu-Gi-Oh. For some reason, I never ended up watching those last two. I have no idea why!
Two other animes I was introduced to through Cartoon Network were Cardcaptor Sakura & Hamtaro. I had a ton of Hamtaro toys at one point.
Aside: Yu-Gi-Oh was popular enough that people would bring the cards to school and play during recess. I’ve heard various things over the years about this still being a thing, which would be baffling as this means kids are still playing the same card game almost twenty years later.
The first anime I recall watching regularly was Sailor Moon. I was never able to read the manga – I’m not even sure it was available in English in a non-flipped form when I was a kid – and I was never able to finish watching the anime. The fifth season wasn’t even aired in the United States!
I was finally able to watch the entire anime (in Japanese) when it was added to Hulu a couple of years back. I also ended up finally reading the manga. Thankfully, I still like it.
My public library actually had a pretty decent manga section. I read things like Saint Tail, Dream Saga, Cyber Idol Mink, & Corrector Yui when I was in elementary school, then Bleach, Rayearth, Black Cat, Death Note, and Hunter x Hunter later on in middle/high school. If any of those manga had an associated anime, I’d try to watch it, too – whether through DVDs from the library or illegal streaming sites.
I don’t watch much anime or read much manga anymore. My tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older, not to mention that my free time has dwindled. I genuinely don’t have as much time for entertainment now as I did when I was a kid.