Husbeast and I picked up watching anime together as a hobby (yeah, so fancy!) about a year ago. We’ve sampled various animes since then and really enjoyed the process. Anime can be very refreshing after years of American entertainment. There can be complex ideas discussed, drama, action, and very adult themes (I mean adult as in ‘appeals to grown ups) and that can all be on a show without sex! That’s hard to find in American entertainment. There’s a few great shows like that, but when you’ve watched them all and you don’t particularly want to watch a show with sex in it, what then? Thank you, Japan, for bringing us cartoons for grownups that are made as seriously and with as much talent as Hollywood makes it. The cartoon thing even has its own appeal. As it’s an art form, it can be done in a variety of ways to fit the mood of the show. I don’t know if it’s my childhood conditioning or what, but watching hand-drawn art is rather comforting to me, softens everything a bit. After a while of watching anime, things like characters having naturally pink hair or flying up in the air and hovering a bit when they get angry just become part of the deal. It doesn’t lessen the emotional impact, however. Having your favorite character reunite with a loved one, win the battle, or die still gets you deeply. So yeah, we love it. Thankfully there’s a ton of anime out there! Here’s some things we’ve watched so far, and my very short reviews on them.
STEINS GATE: This is a drama. Plot: A group of young adults figure out ways to send messages through time and change things. The characters are incredible, varied, hilarious (a few crude jokes), and you get really attached to some of them. The story is amazing, uncovering more and more twists, turns, and complications as the series goes on. My other favorite things: emotional range, theme song, animation, pacing, voice acting, lack of anime-type illustrated emotions.
CLANNAD and CLANNAD: AFTERSTORY: I am grouping these together because it’s the same group of characters, and I don’t know why you’d watch one without the other. Drama. Plot: A high school girl makes friendships and helps out people, with lots of other stuff happening that would spoiler this review so REDACTED. Very emotional, you get very attached to people. One of my favorite things about this one is how it shows people reaching out to each other, helping each other, and all changing together.
BACCANO!: This is a short one, only 13 episodes long, but it’s so jam-packed with action you won’t even catch everything the first time through. We have plans to rewatch it so we get more of it. It’s very violent and bloody, though. The characters are a huge, colorful variety that keep surprising you, making you laugh, and sometimes freak you out. Fast, paced, and claims the tough-to-get-title of MY FAVORITE THEME SONG OF ANY SHOW. I have seen a lot of shows intros, most are not even noteworthy. Whenever I hear Baccano!’s theme song, I feel happy and a little bit like doing the Charleston. As you can see, this show is a roaring twenties crime drama on a train. The huge cast of characters shown in the opening hints at how complicated the plot is going to get.
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, ORIGINAL and BROTHERHOOD: These are two different shows, but unless watching a super long show scares you, it’s well worth your time to watch the original and the second. They are both well done and enjoyable. The first one ran into the “show put out episodes much faster than the writer of the original content was putting out the original content’ problem. The show had to jimmy together a plotline to end the show, which it absolutely did a great job of. The second show was made after the writer finished up the manga. So the two shows start out the same (but they focus things a bit differently) but they separate and become very different after a certain point in the plot. The pacing in the second show is a lot faster, I think after twelve or so episodes you are ‘caught up’. Anyways, this is pretty much the most-loved anime across the show because it’s awesome at everything. There’s this incredible story of two boys who lost their mother, tried to use alchemy to resurrect her, and in failing to do that, one lost his body, the other lost an arm and a leg. They go seeking the Philosopher’s Stone to both restore what they’ve lost and maybe even succeed in bringing their mother back. What follows is a journey full of fascinating characters and subplots, epic theme songs, emotional journeys, questions about humanity, war, suffering, values, and some great action scenes. This is another I plan to rewatch someday, just for the feels. After all that, I feel I know and love the Elrich brothers and I kinda miss them, KWIM?
MADOKA MAGICA: I just finished up this one over spring break, and this was a perfect example of the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s cover is literally a group of cutesy girls, and it looks like it’s supposed to appeal to tweens.
And if you only watch the first few episodes, it seems like it. Cute girls who can do magic to help out their fellow people! Aww, Kyubey’s totes adorbs!! But then, you start finding out some seriously twisted shit has been covered up. There’s more going on than meets the eye. Everything gets more complicated. The action gets a lot more serious. And we are dealing with very grown-up ethical dilemmas, war, and death. This is also a short show, well worth the time to watch it. It has some art styles in the witch labyrinths that I’ve never seen in animation before.
SWORD ART ONLINE: This one is pretty fun to watch and not too long. Plot: A new technology of virtual technology comes out, is hacked, and thousands of users are trapped inside the game. How will they escape? But I almost want to recommend not to watch this one, because you grow really fond of Asuna Yuuki as this totally kickass girl, and the season ends leaving some ends hanging. So you want to watch the second one, Sword Art Online 2. But you shouldn’t, because something terrible happened with the writing or something between the two seasons. SAO2 sucks. It adopts the ‘damsel in distress’ for the kickass girl you loved in season 1. She’s literally trapped in a cage, crying for her boyfriend to rescue her while her creeppy rapey captor abuses her. All of a sudden there’s these weird sexual tensions and close up shots of body parts and other things that were not present in SAO1. I was so upset at the drastic changes. Furthermore, I felt that while kinda enjoyable, even SAO1 lacked the luster and talent that other shows I loved had. There was nothing that really stood out and impressed me.
There’s a few we’ve seen a lot of but have never finished, due to the darker themes that I felt were too emotionally draining to watch for the length of the shows. But there are still excellent shows and worth checking out: Monster, Death Note, and Attack on Titan. Also, for a reason I’ve never been able to determine, I never finished Angel Beats. Yes, the name sounds totally derpy but I think that’s more due to a translation thing. We don’t have a good name in English for somebody who is ‘dead, conscious, on earth, but not zombies’. I think I got distracted watching another show (probably House) and then by the time I remembered Angel Beats my brain had forgot stuff about it.
We’re currently watching Hunter X Hunter, so when we finish that I’ll give a little review here too. There’s a ton of anime out there, and to aid with organizing what you have watched, how much you liked it, and what you want to watch, there’s a handy website called My Anime List. There’s reviews of animes, synopses, recommendations for other animes based on ones you like, and a great rating system. I’m Blabbergasted on there, here’s my list.
So, what have you been watching? Do you have favorite animes? Tell me about them in the comments!