Seeing as I haven’t really posted anything about anime so far I thought I should blog about my top 10 favorite anime so here goes (they’re in no particular order):
Cowboy Bebop revolves around the adventures of a bounty hunter named Spike Speigel and the crew (Jet, Faye Valentine, Radical Edward and Ein the Welsh corgi) of the spaceship Bebop as they hunt for wanted criminals around the universe in order to get cash to survive as they’re usually broke. As the series progresses we see how Spike is haunted by his past association with a crime syndicate, his lover Julia and his nasty nemesis Vicious which comes to a stunning climax. Due to it’s popularity a movie Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door was made set before the end of the series. I love the jazz soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. Dismayed to hear that perennial wooden actor Keanu Reeves has been cast as Spike in a live action movie.
NEON GENESIS EVANGELION
This excellent 24 part anime confuses the hell out of me at times. In the year 2000, scientists discover a being of light in the Antarctic dubbed Adam (the 1st Angel). When the scientists try and capture Adam, it self destructs creating the 2nd Impact causing widespread devastation on Earth with half the popluation being wiped out. Evangelion begins 15 years later in 2015 and humanity having recovered from the disaster. The 3rd incarnation of Japan’s capital city – Tokyo 3 gets attacked by more Angels. Normal weapons are ineffective against them so a military organisation called NERV creates mechanical beings called Evangelion to neutralise the threat. Each Eva of which initially are three has it’s designated pilot which are children born after the 2nd impact. The pilot’s soul synchronises with the Eva’s soul (usually a close dead relative). As each Angel is destroyed, a new more powerful model emerges to start the threat once again. It would take me a page just to fully explain the plot but needless to say that NERV has a dark agenda involving the destruction of the Earth on their minds. The company financing this series ran out of money near the conclusion so the end is a bit of a mess. The fans wanted a proper explanation of how the series concludes and barraged the series’ creator with death threats demanding a new episode. Therefore End Of Evangelion was made but instead of wrapping the storyline, it only demands more questions than answers.
This anime is a 25 part episode romantic comedy series. 20 year old Keitaro is desperately trying to get into Tokyo University after promising a girl when he was a child that they’d both enter the faculty together. After failing numerous times, Keitaro ends up at the Hinato House to run the apartments. He finds out that’s it an all-girls dormitory and the residents are none too pleased about this especially when Keitaro accidentally interrupts some of them either undressing or bathing in the hot spring outside. Suffice to say that Keitaro suffers a lot of physical abuse for his mistakes! Keitaro’s love interest in the series is Naru Narusegawa, also the same age and trying to get into Tokyo Uni as well. Could she be the girl that Keitaro promised all those years ago? He certainly thinks so. Though the female residents initially hate Keitaro, they gradually thaw over time and grow to like him but the physical abuse continues especially from Naru. It’s like a kind of ‘love him hate him’ scenario. The anime does have quite a bit of risque humour! It is though incredibly funny but the manga is far better.
Berserk is an adult anime and set in Medieval Europe. It is very violent and concerns the story of a wandering mercenary called Guts. Guts comes upon a mercenary group called the Band Of The Hawk led by Griffith. Losing a duel to Griffith finds Guts joining the group. The group’s power grows after several victories in an age long war in which they serve the Midland King. Griffith is of the assumption that he is set for something far greater than the average human being but we don’t find out what this is all about until later in the storyline. Guts wishing to leave the group after being with them for a couple of years asks Griffith for another duel in which he wins. Feeling betrayed, Griffith makes the mistake of having an affair with the Midland King’s daughter and when the King finds out he imprisons Griffith. A year later and Griffith is rescued by Guts and the Band Of The Hawk but he’s a broken man. In his madness Griffith sacrifices the band to become a God during a great solar eclipse. Only Guts, his lover and another member of the band escapes. Guts loses one of his eye and his left forearm in the process. The story is told in flashback with Guts now hell bent on seeking revenge on Griffith before the series unfolds showing us how this came about. It’s an epic storyline but as I said it’s very violent with a lot of gore. Still recommended though.
GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
If ever somebody says that there’s no such thing as a heartbreaking anime movie then they should take a look at this incredibly moving film. Set during World War 2, a 12 year old boy (Seita) and his 4 year old sister (Setsuko) watch as the Americans firebomb their village. Their mother dies from injuries sustained in the attack and their father is fighting in the Japanese navy. They are taken in by their aunt who finds them a nuisance to look after. Seita and Setsuko decide to move to the countryside and try their luck at surviving on their own. Finding an old abandoned air raid shelter, they soon settle in. Seita decides that protecting his little sister is his main concern and tries to tell Seitsuko that everything will be alright in the future. But the truth is that Seita has no money to get any food for both of them. He tries stealing but is caught, all the while little Setsuko is wasting away. The inevitable happens and Setsuko dies of malnutrition. The scene that had me bawling my eyes out is when Seita cremates his sister in a little wicker basket. Anybody that doesn’t cry whilst watching this scene isn’t human. It doesn’t get any better for Seita either. He dies on a railway platform. The story is told in flashback so you already know that both children are dead. However much you wish that both survive, you know that they won’t. I felt depressed for hours afterwards so I suggest that anybody watching this to view something with some humour to get rid of the gloom.
MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO
Set in the 1950s, a university professor takes his 2 young daughters to a house in rural Japan so that they can be closer to their mother who is recovering from an illness in hospital. Whilst exploring the huge gardens surrounding the house, the two girls see the magical small creatures of the forest and have adventures with them. This film represents the innocence of childhood and what children think they can see. It also has some wonderful images to behold such as the Catbus (has to be seen to be believed). It was a toss of a coin between this and Laputa for my favorite Ghibli movie but Totoro won in the end. You can’t go wrong with any Miyazaki movie, they’re all pretty special and I never cease to be amazed by them.
BURN UP EXCESS
Packed full of fan service (breast shots, nudity and underwear shots) than anything else but is still very funny to watch. It revolves around a big breasted female cop called Rio, a member of a special ops unit called Team Warrior. The rest of the team assisting Rio is green haired gun toting Maya who seems to have a habit of getting a near orgasm when firing her weapons, pink haired Lilica who can crack into any computer system, the exotic looking Nanvel who devises new weapons and equipment for the team, Maki – overall in charge of the team and Yuji who serves as the team’s driver but is also a pervert always with a camera in his hands and has a huge crush on Rio. The series has the team trying to stop a plot headed by a mysterious woman known as Ruby.
This anime has everything going for it in the plot – love, friendship, revenge, action, betrayal, death but I think the underlying theme of Elfen Lied is forgiveness. It’s not an easy series to watch as you’ll see in the opening minutes. There is blood splattering and nudity aplenty so it certainly won’t be to everybody’s taste. It’s an adult’s anime with a serious plot to it which depicts the callous side of humanity. Some sparks of humour has been injected into it to lighten up the dark and sombre mood but I don’t think it somehow fits in properly with the story. There are quite disturbing scenes in the series with a segment in episode 5 which deals with the harrowing subject of child abuse by a parent. This segment is necessary to show why the person on the end of this sickening thing ran away from home. But this is only just one example. There are other nasty scenes as well. Be warned that if you do intend to see this anime that it does have excessive graphic violence and nudity. Elfen Lied has a brilliantly written plot and is well paced over the course of the 13 episodes. It can be quite painful to watch at times. no doubt about that given the subject matter which is about the dark side of human nature.
THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA
A very interesting and clever little anime series about a high school girl called Haruhi Suzumiya who’s convinced that there are aliens, time travellers and espers out there and her classmate Kyon who’s dragged into her adventures as we find out that Haruhi is not all that she seems. What comes across at first like a standard high school comedy drama transforms into something completely different. Nothing too heavy mind you as it still maintains a big dose of humour – some of it a little perverse! The series is narrated by Kyon and it’s from his point of view that we get to find out all about the main players in the anime and the revelations about Haruhi. A gem of a series which is very diverse with a brilliant story
Lucky Star is an anime that revolves around the lives of 4 teenage girls attending Ryoo High School. The main character is the slacker/anime fanatic Konata Izumi – a self confessed otaku. If she’s not watching anime then she’s online playing dating games or doing something associated with anime. She’s an intelligent and athletic girl but she’s too far occupied with her otaku hobby instead. Konata also works part time at a cosplay cafe with another girl who attends her school. She lives with her widowed father who’s a bit of a pervert! There is no driven plot in Lucky Star, we basically just follow the four in their daily lives as they progress through their 2nd and 3rd year of high school and how they interact with their fellow pupils. The majority of the episodes are centred on the very funny Konata – such as attending the bi-annual Comiket (a major manga event in Tokyo). This is a hilarious, quirky and memorable anime series.