You know, if you think about it there were several waves that could have started more anime awareness in this country. In the early 1960's, it was "Astro Boy" and "Gigantor" that started making a couple people aware. "Speed Racer" brought the whole "violence in animation" debate up front in the late 1960's. "Star Blazers" and "Battle of the Planets" were the big shows in the 1970's...and "Robotech" and "Voltron" did similar in the 1980's...but they weren't the huge breakout show. Heck, even while anime was making cinematic waves in the late 1980s with "Akira", "Robot Carnival" and "Vampire Hunter D", TV was still considered somewhat of an untapped frontier.
That's where "Sailor Moon", "DBZ" and "Pokemon" came in. While each show was sort of reaching out to a different audience, they were the trio that finally caused the great anime breakthrough. However, SM was one of the weirdest of the trio even if it was the first of the "big three". I remember an article that part of the reason the show was even considered to be brought over in the first place was due to the increasing effect of "empowered" women on kids TV, especially, believe it or not, on Power Rangers. For some reason, some advertisers thought they could reach female audiences by showing "girls who kick butt"..and since Japan already had a show available....well OK, maybe there were other girl-power shows that year, but this show had a bit impact on Canada's anime following...not to mention those who could follow it in syndication in the States.
"Dragon Ball Z" was always thought to be the perfect "action show" by certain people, but it took a while to catch on too. Like SM, DBZ was first aired in syndication on the Saban weekend block....OK, it was Funi who had the rights to the show officially, but they were working with Saban to bring it out. And also like the Senshi, they were a bit hard to follow for those who had to find out when and where in syndication they were going to be on the schedule. While it did eventually make a huge impact after starting on CN, it was only followed by first by anime fans and those who liked what they saw and were able to keep up.
If any of those though were to have the biggest impact, it would probably be "Pokemon". But it too had a cult following as well at first: it started out on syndication and was watched by anime fans and those who played, and liked, the original video game. But when the game sales took off and Kids WB started airing it as part of their own lineup, the show finally broke anime into the mainstream. Sure it eventually lead to more "product" anime being brought over at first, but I think that without Pokemon's success, DBZ probably may or may not have grown beyond its cult on CN...and without DBZ, we wouldn't have the Gundam shows and all the other anime we now take for granted on both cable and the networks! But then again, Pokemon probably shouldn't take all the credit with all the work paved out for its success....
StrangerAtaru: Just another one of those weirdo lurker guys with a screwed up mind and a Zako army at his command