Anime sits in a strange place in the entertainment business, anyone who watches anime completely falls in love with it and it tends to bring some of the most innovative and human stories just as well or sometimes better than TV or film. But the problem is anime isn’t as widely known as it should be, especially in the western parts of the world. Many people dismiss anime because they wrongly assume ‘it’s made for kids’ because it’s not live action. My job here is to firstly introduce anime to a wider audience, give you legitimate reasons to try it out and then maybe a few suggestions to go with it.
First of all, what is anime? Well, anime in most basic terms is Japanese cartoons or animations, they’re all drawn similarly unlike Western cartoons which have different looks. Anime is normally based on ‘manga’ too, which is also basically a Japanese comic book. Obviously these aren’t the superhero comics books we get from Marvel. Anime by definition is not entirely exclusive to Japan, but has now become linked to Japan due to there contribution. The most poplar anime series in the western culture past and present seem to be Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Pokemon etc.
My anime knowledge is fairly limited, in my younger days I watched Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon religiously like most people my age. Only recently over the last few months have I focused more time on devoting myself to anime. From my experience most people I know have ended up watching Naruto before delving deeper, due to it’s tragically long 300 episode seasons I wouldn’t recommend that as a sample. We will get back to suggestions at the end.
I was watching an anime last week with my cousin who had recently become obsessed with it. My other cousin walked in and said ‘Isn’t this for kids Eddie?’ And that’s the problem, many people assume it’s for children because they don’t watch it but they see a glimpse of animation. Anime is just like TV or Film, yes some anime is made for kids, like some movies are made for kids (The Smurfs), just the same some anime is made for adults (I don’t mean porn) and some anime is made for all ages. Many animes deal with complex and realistic themes and well as having intricate plots that are challenging to the viewer. Not to mention general adult content like tons of blood, gore, violence and nudity. But what makes anime so beautiful are the creators behind it, Films are hard to make. They take a long time. Imagine having to draw every movement instead of filming it. This is why we have so many great animes with excellent stories, because it has to be worth the effort making. Anime has the abilty to create epic cinematic scenes that just can’t be done in Film or TV, which why I feel like so many people are missing out on these amazing ORIGINAL stories.
Now time for the big boy stuff, what animes would I recommend? I’m going to go through a few in more detail and at the bottom will be a list of anime I may not have seen or loved but have high ratings among film sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes…
ATTACK ON TITAN – MY RATING 9.8/10 (IMDB: 9/10)
Attack on Titan…there are a great many things to say. I’m not going to write a synopsis, because I couldn’t imagine how amazed a human mind might be if they watched this not knowing anything going in to it. Attack on Titan’s strengths are everywhere, honestly it’s almost perfect made apart from maybe one minor hiccup. It’s filled to the brim with character depth, every single character is intimate and real. While the writing, oh gosh it must have the most intricate, well thought out, complex, most intelligent plot/story/themes I’ve ever seen in anything ever. As if the action scenes weren’t mndblowing in themselves. This is what made me (and others) dig deeper into other anime, still nothing compares to this quality but if you’re going to watch anything it’s this. Attack on Titan is a tragic story of humanity and will have you re-watching over and over to pick up new things to further your knowledge, giving a different experience every time. It’s currently available to watch on Netflix in English dubbed.
COWBOY BEBOP – MY RATING 9/10 (IMDB: 9/10)
A filmmaker’s dream when it comes to anime, despite it’s ridiculous name Cowboy Bebop is set in the future and follows bounty hunters known as ‘Cowboys’ Spike and Jet Black. Strangely it’s unlike any other anime and falls into it’s own category, so no matter how you feel about Cowboy Bebop it definitely shouldn’t be generalised to other anime. If you like Quinton Tarantino, Westerns, film noir or filmmaking in general, you will really love Cowboy Bebop. I can only dare you not to keep watching after episode 5 (The Ballad of Fallen Angels), it’s sophisticated and intelligent through out it’s entire series which only consists of 26 episodes.
TOKYO GHOUL – MY RATING 8.5/10 (IMDB: 8.4/10)
Ghouls are terrifying creatures which feed on human flesh. When Kaneki is almost killed in an attack, he transforms into a half-ghoul, half-human hybrid and is forced to adapt to their lifestyle in order to survive. Tokyo Ghoul sort of follows the civil rights tropes of X-Men, the consistent oppression upon them by the human race has caused a war not only between the two, but within the ghouls. It’s over the top goriness is a let down at times though, there’s so much gore and blood in action scenes it’s often blocked out with a black blur or the colours go to alternate to make it less obvious. If you like your horror, this is the one for you. *Also available on Netflix Enlgish Dubbed*
OTHER SUGGESTIONS (with IMDB ratings):
Kids On the Slope (8.4), Sword Art Online (8.2), Kill La Kill (8.3), Ghost In A Shell (8), Akira (8), My Neigbour Totoro (8.3), Spirited Away (8.6), The Wind Rises (7.8), Full Metal Alchemist (8.7), Death Note (9)
Words by Eddie Michael