Blatant topic stealings be har. Following the trend (if you can really call it that, it spans a time frame of months) of what makes the anime fan in me I’ve been seeing over at blogs (I refuse to use the word otaku because, though I consider myself someone who watches an unhealthy amount of anime (should you ever watch anything less?), I don’t think that otaku’s the right word to describe half of anime aficionados out there. Unless you want to liken yourself to Takumi, you poor poor soul.)
This is not a top ten list. Maybe it’s not even a list. It’s just a collection of shows that made me think differently about anime, or left an indescribable impression on me. That I will attempt to describe. And most likely fail. Onward!
One of the first anime DVDs I ever bought, and though it was a collection of pirated fansubs (deception! Judas!), it contained the entire Soul Society Arc, which I still bust out and watch every now and then to wash the taste of the current episodes out of my mouth (WHY, FILLER BLEACH, WHY?!). Those 50 or so episodes were the best part of Bleach and if I consider thoes episodes as stand-alone, they’re still one of the best shounen anime that I’ve seen to this date; at the time, I had almost nothing to compare it to in terms of quality, so I easily believed it was the best anime I’d ever seen, comprised of endearing characters, awesome action and a really unique sense of style. Though now I “know better”, the beginning of the series will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I still hear the nostalgic ~Asterisk~ playing in my head every now and again.
Hey, look, more shounen! Dragonball Z is here because it was the first, the very first, anime I ever saw. Kind of like a Gateway Drug, only less trippy. I still remember being around 8, sitting in my room in my old house and watching the Namek Saga and being 13 when the final saga of the Z series finally showed up (what the hell was up with that delay)? Everyone, hell, even I, make fun of the series for eventually being comprised of nothing more than powering up and… more powering up, but when I watched it with the wide, gleaming eyes of youth through rose-tinted spectacles years ago, it was the most badass anime I’d ever seen in my life.
Quack Experimental Anime Excel Saga
To this day, Excel Saga is the wackiest, craziest, most off-the-wall animes in existence. Perhaps only trumped by Puni Puni Poemy (that was just… weird), Excel Saga took what I’d already learned about anime from the meagre offerings on UK TV and destroyed all preconceptions I had about it. It opened my mind to pretty much anyhing that could be considered “out there”, and I was only 11 years old. That’s both wrong and fantastic in so many ways.
The first anime I watched not dubbed in English ( thank you again ebay piraters) and somehting that pushed me past soome invisble wall of common sense and got me on the road to becoming an avid anime watcher. The entire show was ridiculous, light hearted and funny as hell (It was about bread making. It made bread making exciting. This was good.) Azuma Kazuma is one of my favourite characters in a show, an optimistic genius who’s constantly striving to better himself and also bring joy to others through the magic of bread. Or I should say science because the mangaka/creators of the show really did their homework on that part. By which I mean they took basic concepts and did whatever the hell they wanted with them. Anime science is the best.
Grave of the Fireflies
One of the most emotionally moving pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen.
How to make any human being cry: begin with the tale of two children living after one of greatest wars in human history. Then have their mother die. Then send them to live with a cruel and heartless aunt, leaving them with no choice but to try and fend for themselves. Then reveal that their one source of hope, their father, has been dead for a long time. Then have the younger sibling slowly starve to death only to be cremated by the older, who then starves to death in rags himself. But do you know what the kicker is? The first time I watched the movie I missed 30 seconds, a measly 30 seconds of the beginning including one crucial line of dialogue; I didn’t realise that Seita was going to die. The entire time I had hoped for some reprieve from this ridiculously heartbreaking story, and when Ilearned his survival which was all I had to cling to was ineivitably impossible from the start… damn.
Depressing and heartbreakingly human, Grave of the Fireflies needs no reason to justify it’s being on this list.
VIOLENCE VIOLENCE VIOLENCE DISTURBING GORE GORE GORE PEDOPHILIA DISMEMBERMENT. Being the emotionally shallow person I was, what stood out to me the most in the entire series and what kept me wacthing was the amount of death and bloody action that was occuring in that show. It was the first shockingly violent show I’d watched and that, combined with haunting operatic opening and the as of then undetermined X factor (which I realise now was simply pathos for almost every character in the show, as their lives were all black holes of depression) makes it one of the most memorable.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
I think I’ve seen Evangelion, what, 5 times now and never have I considered it something greater than a psycological mecha anime containing religious references, startling amounts of emo and mindf*ckery. It’s here because for some startling reason one of my most rewatched anime (booxset DVD ftw) is the one that doesn’t really amaze me in the slightest and even came off as a bit pretentious at times. Then I came upon ghostlightning’s post on Gendo, which changed my opinion on that character, and iIm tempted to go back and for my 6th rewatch to really try to understand the show. Or i could just let ZOMG THE GREATEST ANIME SHOW IN EXISTENCE fade into the annals of history. Fade, damn you, fade!
Introduced me to the concept of fanservice and at the same time showed me to that you could place a show based on 80% fanservice on a screen and call it entertainment. Granted, the show’s a lot more entertaining than people give it credit for (at least, the first two seasons were okay, the 3rd season was just awful.) It was a fun mindless sexualized fighting romp that had me guessing when and where the fanservice would show up and being surprised at the outcome. There were some …inventive angles in that show 🙂
The show that truly introduced me to romcom anime and to this date what I consider the funniest anime in existence. It doesn’t matter to me that character devolpement was minimal’; the characters themselves were inherently likeable and the random storylines meant for endless and, most importantly, timeless hilarity. No matter how many times I watch this show I always end up laughing at each episode, and that’s extremely rare in any media form. Except classic Simpsons. God, I love the Simpons…
This show introduced me to how much sheer mindf*ckery can exist in anime. The seperate cases were intricate and interesting (split personalities and overall schizophrenia in bucketloads) with insane animation and complex dialogue to back it up (though the conclusion was surprisingly simple). It actually gave me nightmares for a few weeks and every now and then I still here the soft clattering of rollerskates on pavement… *shudders*
Other shows of note:
One Piece – One of the few shows that’s an “epic” in the true, classical (and therefore best) meaning of the word.
Outlaw Star – First transforming mecha show I watched. Kick ass theme song ftw.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/Kai – Violent, suspenseful, mysterious, and has the best ending of any anime show in existence.
Neo Ranga – GIANT MODERN GOD BATTLES. And first “half episode” series I watched : 15 minutes X 48 episodes.
Death Note – One of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever seen. Cat and mouse chases have never been so nail-biting.
Eve no Jikan – Fast shaping up to a masterpiece of animation, in my opinion. I’ve yet to write up the second episode, but it will get done, even if I have to kick my own ass to do so.
As with other bloggers, this isn’t a list of my favourite shows, just ones I believe shaped me as an anime fan. I’m still biased against some genres (Yaoi. No. Never) and I’ll still discover gems that I’ve never seen before and masterpieces in the making. Watching anime is an experience that can help me grow as a person. Before you laugh, I seriously think that anime has helped me in real life, in being both more emotional and taking a second, deeper look at things rather than just writing them off after a first impression. God knows it’s hepled with my English (character analysis skillz ftw).
You’ve done well to read this entire post. Have some pie.