“The last two weeks I’ve written a beginners guide to Asian cinema, I originally planned to include this but thought it would perhaps suit it’s own standalone place. More next week though!”
Hayao Miyazaki and chums over at Studio Ghibli have shown the world that Japanese animation can be ultra stylish and stories don’t have to involve underage hareems and panty shots. However Studio Ghibli to your every day anime is more like comparing Walt Disney Pictures to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Movies are a different world compared to their TV counterparts.
The problem with anime is that it has a bad image. There is a sea of almost perverted stories or tales of a boy so strong he fights with other… strong people or equally ridiculous ordeals. However these are stories from another culture, a whole other style of life, style of thinking and most of all a whole other style ir story telling, it just takes a little thought to find something that wont make you vomit.
Culture is the wire that trips people up. It’s often hard to grasp the point of something when you don’t understand where they are coming from. That is where I come in, I’m going to lay down some examples that will hopefully change your opinion on anime.
Tatsuhiro Sato is a college drop-out and spends his time alone in his flat. Scared of the outside world and scared of the disappointment he has caused he has become a recluse. Misaki Nakahara is an outgoing young girl who claims to be able to cure Tasuhiro on a day by day basis, arranging meetings outside of his flat. Kaoru Yamazaki is an old high school friend who has become obsessed with anime and anime culture.
Welcome to the NHK is more of your standard series. It does incorporate many of the typical anime conventions, however what makes it stand out as a good series is it makes fun of that culture. It isn’t about bizarre goings on or verging underage girls, but in fact uses that as it’s base of comedy.
Name: BUS Gamer
This really short series takes it’s leave from any conventions, and basically establishes itself as a really good animation. What works most in it’s favour is that it isn’t aimed at children, so the thrills and frills you would see in the 9 billion other series are absent and what we are left with is a 3 piece, raw, action series.
The plot revolves around an Urban game, where basically people are randomly selected to pit them selves against other ‘groups’ for a substantial amount of money. Yes this includes fighting, but you wont find any hand generated power blasts or giant swords only normal people with lead pipes or the occasional kung-fu.
I can’t really say much else on the subject but I’ve already summed up what I like so much. So seek it out!
Name: Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, Goodbye Mr. Despair
Unlike BUS Gamer, Sayonara… is aimed at a younger audience, youngER not young, so don’t be put off. Much in the same vein as Welcome to the NHK the series doesn’t take itself seriously and in fact exists to mock anime culture and unlike NHK pop culture in general.
The main character is over dramatic and self loathing, but this is where most of the mockery comes from. Pretty much once an episode he breaks out into a mini break down exclaiming “I AM IN DISTRESS” or something of the sort, mocking the over-exaggerated emotions present in practically every anime series.
One of the best and funniest reoccuring elements of Sayonara… is the appearance of random snippets of the writers thoughts on certain goings on in modern Japan, most apparent on the blackboard in all classroom scenes. The writer also slots in his own thoughts of bemusement on his series and how he “finally” has it anime-ised.
It’s really hard to explain why this is a good series and not your typical school girl or school boy anime, it’s a watch it an see affair mostly. And if you don’t get it’s humour or it’s type of parody then it will probably fall into oblivion as a waste of your eyes, but your too intelligent for that aren’t you! Aren’t You!?
Other Series of Note
Death Note – Half of this series is golden. On the surface it’s another school boy series involving ‘Death God’s’ most popularly seen in Bleach. However after the first episode or two it comes to light that the series is better fitted in a Film Noir genre, or detective story. Which is great. However about half way through the series there is a major twist, which ruins it and we are introduced to new characters.
HOWEVER! I have a feeling that the production team know this is a letdown, and not long ago released a 3hr TV special, which documents up until that point. In true Neon Genesis fashion.
Samurai Champloo & Cowboy Beebop – I put the two together on the simple basis that they are from the same production company and have similar style. The stories are fairly standard, Samurai is basically a group of conflicting characters following a quest, and Cowboy Beebop a group of bounty hunters doing their job. What makes them stand out however is their mix of settings. Samurai Champloo is set in Edo Japan but put to a hip-hop soundtrack, and Cowboy Beebop in space set to blues (in true Blade Runner style).
Ergo Proxy – A much more darker series involving humanoid robots, deadly virus and a post apocalyptic world. Little to no comedy breaks the tension or story. Well worth a watch.
I sometimes wonder whether the people who will stumble across this article would be anime fans, and therefor need no guiding, but whether or not I believe I have outlined some very interesting series for you set your viewing muscles upon. Enjoy.