Monday, December 1, 2008

Anime Geek

I love Anime. For those who don't know, anime describes cartoons, mostly from Japan (although other countries are trying to get in on the act), often made for teens and adults (there are MANY anime shows not suitable for children). I've been a fan for years, especially of some of the excellent sci-fi shows. Here is a short list of some of my favorites (with links to Wikipedia or other sources for more info on the show if you are really interested):

Cowboy Bebop -- One of the first animes I ever watched, it is a fan favorite for a reason. Bounty hunters in the future try to make a living and not get killed in this action-packed adventure. There is a lot to like here, from the style of animation to the main characters (whose murky pasts eventually are made clear). As a bonus, the opening credits song is a great piece of jazz. Link

Wolf's Rain -- Like a lot of japanese anime, this one throws you in the middle of a complex story and world and it takes awhile to figure out what is going on. I am not sure I ever quite got all of the details right and I definitely am not sure about the ending, but I did grow to like this show very much. Wolves can make themselves appear human to us. In this world, which is about to be destroyed, we have an alien aristocracy, poor humans, and a group of wolves who are trying to rescue a mysterious female who may be able to "reset" the world. Link

Death Note -- There aren't too many shows who can pull off having the main character be a terrible villain, but in essence this show does just that. Light, the teenage main character, quickly turns into a slightly insane killer, even if he believes he is justified in his actions. This show is well written and interesting. I was freaked out, though, when I went into one comic store and their guest book was a Death Note replica. There was no way I was writing my name in THAT book. Link

-- This show is a western set in the future and is completely split in its style. When serious, it is beautiful and when comic, it looks like juvenile slapstick. This was one of the first anime shows I watched and I love it still. Vash the Stampede, in his red coat, is a favorite. Link

Read or Die: OVA and TV Show -- I actually bought the mangas (cartoon novels) for this one (that's how much I like the show). What can I say? I love reading. The main character is obsessed with books. She is also a "paper master" (which means she has a superhuman ability to make paper become anything she wants, including hard enough to block bullets). The show is strange but I loved it. Like so much of anime, the female characters are drawn to attract male audiences (this seems particularly true of some sections of the mangas) but don't let that stop you if you are a female. There is plenty to enjoy and the female leads are strong and interesting. The OVA is essentially a movie (and therefore short to watch). The TV show has to be watched after the OVA although, at first, it seems barely connected to it but eventually you find out how essential the movie is to understanding this show. Link

Ghost in the Shell
-- There are two seasons of episodes (Stand Alone Complex) plus some movies, all set in a world where our future involves cyborg bodies and interconnectivity with computers. It is a good cop show with serious scifi philosophical musings. If you can get past the ridiculous outfit the main female character wears, you can enjoy this show for what it is--seriously good science fiction. Link

Blood+ -- For fans of Buffy the Vampire slayer, this is the story of a school girl who kills vampire-like creatures. Okay, so it is more complicated than that, but it still appeals to that audience. Link

Gankutsuo: The Count of Monte Cristo
-- I liked the book The Count of Monte Cristo and this anime takes that plot and puts it into the future. It also has one of the most beautiful styles of any anime show I've ever seen. I loved this show and found it captivating. Link

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit -- Currently playing on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, this show is a new one to me. I haven't seen all of the episodes (the show is in repeats right now and I hope more are on the way). It has a nice style and some promise. Link

Detective Conan -- The style of drawing is more juvenile than most I watch, but I am a sucker for murder mysteries and this show (marketed as "Case Closed" in America) is really about how many different ways you can present "locked door" and other typical murder conundrums. Like Inuyasha, below, it is written for the younger set of audience but there is enjoyment here for adults too. This is a huge hit in Japan with a huge list of episodes and a bunch of movies. Link

Inuyasha -- This one is a guilty pleasure for me. I've seen all of the episodes and the movies. It is made for a younger crowd than most of the others I watch but I found it fun. Sort of a teen Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a world of demons, heavy on the humor. Link

Library War -- This show takes an interesting premise and buries it in a comic romance. However, I did enjoy it and particularly found some of the later episodes enjoyable. I have watched a number of the more fantasy/romance based comedies and this had a number of similarities with them in style and tone so it should go over well with the crowd who likes Love Hina or other shows of that sort, but it also has a more serious sci-fi edge (which I thought should have been played up a lot more). Link

Project Blue Earth: SOS -- This one plays more like a typical American cartoon, with a sequential, easy-to-follow storyline. I liked it. It was like Johnny Quest and Tom Swift rolled together with the movie Independence Day. It deserves a bigger fan base. Link

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
-- Complex storyline with the typical mecha robots (you can see similar ones in Eureka Seven or even Big O). It is currently playing on the Cartoon Network and I look forward to seeing how it will end. They keep taking the series where I don't expect--killing off characters unexpectedly, changing storylines, etc. Not an easy to predict story. Link

RahXephon -- Some say this is an attempt to make sense of a more famous but flawed predecessor, Neon Genesis Evangelion. That may be true, as they share a number of things in common but this one has a clearer ending and fewer messy child-parent relationships. Link

I also adore anything from Studio Ghibli (from the movie Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro and Laputa to Whisper of the Heart). These movies are made for kids, but adults love them too, for good reason.

I went to Comicon this summer here in San Diego (it seems to be getting more crowded) and was pleased to recognize many fellow fans of these shows and others I have watched. I saw people dressed up as characters from Bleach (currently on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim) and many other shows. I looked for new anime to watch and enjoyed seeing merchandise from current favorites. My hope is that someone reading this blog right now will find a show to love, something that was unexpected but enjoyable.