Kicking off tonight in my neck of the woods is an Anime festival called Tokyo In Tulsa. While the Dark Knight Rises is stealing all the spotlight off this weekend I’ll be doing my best to shine a little animated light out of the dark. It’s Friday and I’m in a mood to cover an Anime list. So here we go. The eight Anime series or movies to see. Now for the heavily initiated you may be thinking, “what?! You didn’t include The 1953 original Robot Boy with the deleted scenes that can only be scene on microfish at three remote libraries across the country?!” No, I’m not including that. If you are remotely familiar with anime then you’ll recognize a few things on the list or maybe all of them. If you are a total nube then I am definitely giving some recommendations here. But for the deeply involved, this list may not be for you.
8. Sailor Moon- I didn’t just put this on here because my wife would have broken my arm in the name of the moon if I didn’t. I love to mock Sailor Moon, but the over all story is good and the atmosphere is fun. Aimed more for a young female crowd, this anime about strong female fighters earns a spot in a world that’s definitely trying to revamp and reshape the archetypical female role model. Disney-Pixar’s Brave rocked the box office from the top spot for several weeks. DC comics is pushing heavily its’ young girl clothing line with Batgirl and Supergirl logos. Well the Sailor Scouts have been making waves in this movement for over two decades. So number eight, even with Sailor Mini Moon and Tuxedo Mask.
7. Dragon Ball Z – This is where some of you are groaning. Fifteen years ago DBZ was introducing people to japanese style animation by the masses, and today it’s become the McDonalds of the anime world. Well I’ll defend Dragon Ball Z with my dying breath… with my dying breath. It’s amazing. The concept may be borrowed, it has some definite Superman aspects or some Journey to the West elements. Everything has something borrowed from somewhere though and I don’t care about any of that. I also don’t care how main stream DBZ has become. The story rocks, the characters are awesome, and power struggles that span over four episodes is what every TV series needs.
6. Princess Mononoke- Writer/Director Hiyao Miyazaki really burst onto the scene with this one. I first caught it by chance airing on STARZ some ten-years ago. It instantly claimed my attention. Billy Crudup is amazing in the English version. Claire Danes is tolerable but Mini Driver is excellent as the Ruler of Iron Town. The story was full of intrigue and an odd mystical charm and if anime isn’t your thing then you just haven’t caught the right ones. This is one of the right ones. Cinematography, Direction, even the animated lighting is excellent. As good as any live action movie.
5. Corpse Princess- I almost put Kaze No Stigma here, but since I didn’t I do want to honorable mention it. Like Corpse Princess it’s a little off the beaten path. They are in no way the McDonalds of anime. It may require a special taste to really appreciate them, but the world Corpse Princess exists in is very well developed. It has heavy action but there is also a weird prejudice against the dead that oddly makes you more involved and adds layers to characters. Available on Netflix. So is Kaze No Stigma.
4. Ninja Scroll- This movie was making the rounds when I was in college. Everyone was watching it. Even people who would never watch a second of anime in their life were watching this. I re-watched it a few months ago and it was still really good. I’ve seen better anime movies but the way it seems to be some sort of staple for the sub pop culture that is anime movies it deserves a heavy recognition. It captures more of the “real” anime feel and comes across less commercial and has less flair than some of the others on this list. Definitely good.
3. Spice and Wolf- Out of left field and from the most unexpected angle any anime could approach from come this. Spice and Wolf is so different it’s almost hard to explain. When I started watching it I wasn’t sure why I kept watching it. The world is pretty straight forward with little magic or mysticism and most of the typical aspects we’ve come expect from japanese style animation. Spice and Wolf has a wolfgirl but that is actually background to the real story. The real story is finance and economics and the value of different coins from different lands. Watch this just so you can say WTF when you realize their talking about the ways gold depreciates with the rise and fall of a kingdoms influence instead of fighting anything. It’s interesting though. Really! Maybe I’m too geeky.
2. Sands of Destruction- SoD is the animated version of a DS game of the same name. I really mean to play the game because the show is so good. It’s real kid friendly, my own boys love it and are actually going to the convention as the main character, Kyria, and the little bear Toppie. I thought about going as the female lead, Morte, but I do not have female anime character legs. You need eight foot barbie doll legs to be an anime girl and my legs are more like a cabbage patch kids. Sands of Destruction is a really intriguing story and it has layers and twists that seem too complex for its target audience.
1. Now this is the one to see above all others. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a better animated story. Under The Red Hood was better than any of the Batman live action movies, and The Dark Knight is one of the best movies ever made. Death Note destroys them both in a foot race. I hear there is a live action version that is just as good. I watched this originally on Netflix. 30 episodes in about 2 days, and it was subtitled. Still amazing. Rather or not your new or old to the genre or don’t have any interest, Death Note is so well crafted it earned the one spot by like a million-ba-jillion votes.
Anime may not be for everyone. I personally like a story for the story’s sake, and the format it’s delivered to my brain doesn’t impact the tale much. Sometimes the visuals of a movie or the pacing create atmosphere and feeling you can’t capture in a book. Sometimes the written word only translates in written form and you can’t recreate that story or a story like it any other way. Some people miss out on amazing stories because they don’t like or understand or appreciate certain forms (comics, animation, television). Check some of these out. You may like them.
Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section below or @werewolforigin. Follow us all @8daysageek and email us and be our friends. Otherwise I’ll see you next time, same Bat time same Bat channel.