Hey g1s! Whitly here! So I saw an anime recommendations video on YouTube, and it got me thinking: how do I know so much about it? Is it because I’ve become deeply ingrained in anime lore, after spending many years thinking it was dumb and uninteresting? And then I decided, why not write about anime’s influence on me? I don’t indulge often, the last time I did was even a disaster, but still. I’ve got nothing better to do anyway.
So allow me to shed some insights into my relationship with Japanese animation. Hold on to the railing and fasten your seatbelts, the ride through Memory Lane has officially begun!
Gotta Catch ‘Em All – Pokémon
Every anime fan has that one show as his or her introduction to anime. Being a kid of the 90’s, mine was this obnoxious piece of marketing. I already knew what Pokémon was long-before the show, as I used to watch over the shoulders of other kids playing the games during recess. Still, this was a weird experience. After cartoons like Animaniacs and Magic School Bus, to name a few, I wasn’t all that impressed the first time I spotted it on TV at my grandparent’s condo room in Florida. And neither were my brothers, as, no sooner did we hear the title (which I initially mistook for “Kuzimon”,) then we unanimously shook our heads in disbelief and opted to change the channel. It was dumb.
Fast-forward a year, and I was flipping channels on the TV in my old house. Sure enough, there was Pokémon again. I figured I hadn’t been fair, especially since I was now a fan of the games and trading cards, so I watched it. It was the episode where Butterfree finds a girlfriend, if I remember correctly, and I enjoyed it. Thus began my 6-year obsession with the show, one that died down in my freshman year of high school.
In retrospect, I don’t think the show has aged well; true, fans of the franchise would agree with me to an extent, but I don’t even consider the early episodes to be great. They’re cheap, ugly, weirdly voice-acted and drag forever. And the story is numbingly stupid, such that I retroactively apologize to my family for being a fan. Even the movies, which I drove my mom mad to see, suck. Not to mention, the opening has been so drilled in my head that I retroactively hate it. Speaking of which, does anyone even know what the real opening is? Because it’s not that annoying jingle that even die-hard Otaku consider the real deal, that’s for sure!
Anyway, while I think it’s terrible in hindsight, it made way for other anime that I soon became fond of.
FYI, I made that picture from scratch. And no music clip this time, as it’d be too complicated to pick one.
Anyway, in came these three shows, Dragon Ball Z, Digimon and Monster Rancher. I put them in that order because, honestly, it’s how I was introduced to them. Right around the time of Pokémon, my cousin, a huge wrestling fan, showed me Dragon Ball Z. I had no clue what was going on half the time, or if it was a good decision to keep watching, but it was my cousin. He was the coolest guy ever, so I trusted him. Sure enough, I got hooked.
Digimon took a little longer to warm up to. I remember seeing the first episode, thinking “This is cool” and then going back to Pokémon. It didn’t grab me right away, despite Fox Kids promoting the h*ll out of it. The whole “rip-off” argument didn’t help either, as I couldn’t bring up this show without it surfacing. But it didn’t NOT grab me, so I persisted. Right around the time that Myotismon made his appearance, I became accepting of the premise and started liking it.
Which leads me to Monster Rancher. Unlike Digimon, I was sucked in immediately. Why? Because it deviated enough from everything else I’d seen. Not to mention, Genki, the protagonist, was spacey and hyper-impulsive. As someone who couldn’t focus in class, I instantly related to him, meaning that I could get behind the often dark and violent premise.
Together, these three shows, when combined with Pokémon, were the holy quadfecta of my Saturday morning anime fix. Except, I didn’t know that I was watching anime yet. Instead, they were four shows that were different, but in a good way. Pokémon was cute and funny, Dragon Ball Z I could go away from for a while and miss little, Digimon was the cool kid’s show and Monster Rancher was...um...well, I was already entering preteen-hood, so I guess I kept watching it because of its more-ahem-risqué character designs (that, and it was fun.) But anyway, whenever these shows were on, I’d stop what I was doing, rush to the TV, fight with my brothers for the remote and have fun if I won/storm to my room and cry if I lost.
Yeah, my childhood sucked. But at least the shows I watched helped numb the pain of bad grades and no friends, so HAH! Besides, the crossovers in my head were epic, so screw-
*Ahem* Sorry about that.
The grand irony is that these shows didn’t leave a long-lasting impact either (save Digimon, but we’ll get back to that.) Dragon Ball Z is pretty awful, with its egregious padding, cartoony and stale voice acting, fights that go nowhere and drag on and lack of long-term consequences for its high stakes fights. It’s like a video game that, at 291 episodes, feels like it’ll never end. Monster Rancher got boring right when Moo, the main villain, found his body again, although part of that could also be me getting older and no longer caring. And while I tried holding on to Digimon, the dwindling ratings of its fourth season, combined with constant changes in air times, meant dropping it as I was entering my final year of middle school.
But that’s okay, because a newer show took their place.
Duel – Yu-Gi-Oh!
Yes, this opening is corny. No, I don’t care. Because FUCK YOU, IT’S TIME TO DUEL!
Anyway, TV anime always seemed to be like fads. If show X was no longer interesting, the time slots would shuffle around constantly until it faded out. In its place, a new show that gripped people’s attention would be switched to the original time slot. For me, it was Yu-Gi-Oh!. Yeah, I’d gone from shows based on a video game, a comic, a Tamagotchi line and an...I don’t know, we’ll just say video game, to a show based on a card game. I must’ve really loved toys and comics!
Anyway, my love for Yu-Gi-Oh! was made easier by the fact that 4Kidz, the infamous dubbing company known for ruining anime, had taken over Fox’s Saturday morning time slot and was showing their repertoire in droves: Shaman King, SonicX, Ultimate Muscle, One Piece!, Kirby: Right Back At Ya!, F-Zero, to name a few. There were endearing qualities about all of them, including a hip-hop ballad that I still don’t get the hate for, but the shows never gripped me like Yu-Gi-Oh!. And 4Kidz knew this, as they marketed it like no tomorrow.
You wouldn’t believe how addictive the show was for my then-13 year-old self! If it was on TV, I had to see it. If I was at school and it was on TV that afternoon, I counted down the minutes until I could get home to see it. If my family was out to dinner and it was on TV, well...you get the idea. And Heaven help me if I missed even a minute of an episode!
Unfortunately, I didn’t always get to see it anyway. My parents, ever worried about my neglecting of schoolwork, started putting me on TV regiments in hopes that it’d get me to focus more. Guess what? It failed. I had to see my Yu-Gi-Oh!, it was my pride and joy! So whenever I could, I’d sneak out of my room, go downstairs, turn the TV on, lower the volume so that no one could hear it and proceed to watch Yu-Gi-Oh!. It didn’t always work, but I tried.
The situation reached its peak in December of 2004, just as we’d settled in to my current house. A lot of changes came with the move, including a drastic move to religious Judaism so as to accommodate my older brother, but the TV was still available on Saturday mornings initially. But it diminished too. That, when coupled with both being in high school and the options available becoming increasingly less-interesting, led me to stop caring altogether. Besides, I was becoming more observant anyway, so it wasn’t worth the time.
So I made the decision to stop watching anime altogether and focus on my work. I’d also become jaded about anime, thinking it nothing more than a shallow waste of time. It was silly, not serious. The characters made faces that removed me from the experience, and everything I was watching no longer cut it. Even when I caught a glimpse of what was on TV during my Winter Breaks in Florida, it wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I was done, or so I thought...
Fast forward to my first year of university. The transition was tough, what with the Jewish holidays, but I adjusted slowly. Unfortunately, come November 6th, 2008, my school declared an 85-day strike. All of that preparation, anxiety, willingness to embrace school and its possibilities...gone. By the time the strike ended, I was an emotional wreck. I needed a calming agent, and fast! So, come Spring Reading Week, I followed-up on a long-standing curiousity and familiarized myself with something special.
Tank! – Cowboy Bebop
Two disclaimers need to be made here:
1. Cowboy Bebop didn’t make an anime fan. Cowboy Bebop just made me a fan of Cowboy Bebop. Anime, to my 18 year-old mind, was gross, silly and couldn’t be taken seriously, so Cowboy Bebop was a pretty bad argument changing my mind. Even to this day, I’ll play Devil’s Advocate against someone using it as a “gateway drug” and say “Try harder.” Just FYI.
2. My reason for watching Cowboy Bebop was Edward. See, I was in a bad place emotionally, and I was making bad intellectual decisions. As such, I had a-*Sigh*-sexual attraction to Ed. Yeah, don’t start with me. Regardless, she was why I was drawn to it, and I would often skip episodes that didn’t feature her.
Fortunately, Cowboy Bebop ended up being something special. There was an indescribable, unexpected charm to had about an anime series that felt more American than Japanese. It was episodic, each episode was self-contained and, when it boiled down to it, the series was addictive. It was like eating candy, I couldn’t have enough. And when it ended, I was sad.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain why the show is great, but it definitely helped me a great deal. The transition to university, particularly my second year, was horrid because of the strike, and this show gave me a temporary respite. Admittedly, I only watched it one. But once was all I needed. It gave me a focal point for getting my g1 account reactivated, amongst other reasons, was one of the first topics of conversation I had with a g1 off-site (i.e. Skype) and was even mentioned in my one-year anniversary blog when thanking g1s that’d impacted me as a blogger.
Also, the soundtrack is boss.
To pick episodes that got to me the most, I’d say Session 9 (which introduced Ed,) Session 11 (for being weird in a fun way,) Session 14 (because chess,) Session 15 (for having Faye’s back-story,) Session 17 (because funny,) Session 18 (for its conclusion,) Session 20 (because SCARY!,) Session 23 (for being a confusing mindf***,) Session 24 (because Ed leaves at the end) and the 2-part finale (for obvious reasons.) Not all them have held up in hindsight, especially during my re-watch 2 years ago, but they definitely proved that Cowboy Bebop had staying power.
Due to scheduling and timing arrangements, my 3rd year of university began 2 weeks late, and I had plenty of time to be bored. This led to my next obsession.
One Summer’s Day – Spirited Away
In hindsight, I should’ve picked this movie up and watched it earlier. I’d known it existed since the 2003 Oscars ceremony, when it won Best Animated Feature, I’d heard it praised on a blog in V3, my brother’s friend left a copy of it lying around my house and hadn’t come back for it, what kept me from the movie? I guess it was fear of the unknown. Here was this movie with a girl on the cover, one surrounded by weird-looking houses and ghosts. I’m adamant about trying new things, and this was something new. So, naturally, I avoided it.
About two weeks before my 3rd year of university, I was loafing around one evening and, voila! There it was, staring back at me like it was daring me to watch it. So I did, because I was bored. Was it worth it? FUCK YES!
In my first blog about the movie, which can no longer be accessed because of V5, I proclaimed Spirited Away as one of the best movies ever. Three years and six viewings later, I still hold that to be true. It’s just...magical. For something I was initially afraid of, Spirited Away was a genuine surprise. And, not surprisingly, it’d lead me down a road to anime...films. More specifically, Studio Ghibli films.
For the next two weeks, I made it my mission to see as many Hayao Miyazaki movies as possible. My then-local Blockbuster had a copy of Castle in the Sky in-stock, which I’d eventually buy off of them because no one was renting it other than me, so I rented it and took it home. They also had a copy of Howl’s Moving Castle, so I rented that one too. As anyone who knows me well can testify, I loved the former and found the latter overrated. Still, I’d end up renting the two movies a few more times before adding them to my newly formed DVD collection, with Spirited Away being its “keystone”.
Next, it was a trip to HMV. I’d received a $40 gift certificate from my aunt for my 20th birthday, so I used it to purchase Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. With those two out of the way, and the latter teaching me that anime could be mature without being overly-sexual or disturbing, I went back the following weeks to buy My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo. I then proceeded to buy My Neighbors the Yamadas, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns on a triple whim, causing me to be super late for class and get lectured in private by my professor for being a “disruptive student”. The following day, almost as if to spite him, I dropped the class. JUSTICE!
I’ll spare you the exchanges, savings, buying sprees and disappointments that went along with it all, but-long-story-short-I ended up owning every Studio Ghibli movie released on DVD in the West at the time. Special mention goes to Elmo 3000 for Grave of the Fireflies, a favour I’ve yet to pay him back for...oops. I also had to re-organize my DVD collection per request of my younger brother, who was finding it difficult to understand my sorting methods and wanted each of my collections ordered logically, so thanks to him too. But yeah, I was a Studio Ghibli fan, as well as slightly more accepting of anime. But was I an anime fan yet?
Well, this story would be over if I were, right? Moving on.
Around this time, I became a fan of film, most-notably animation. I put my gaming hobby on indefinite hold, it wasn’t holding me anymore anyway, and began a quest to write a Top 100 of my favourite animated films. You all know the end-result, but I started scrounging the internet for any movies I could find, including anime films. To that end, I discovered that:
1. Katsuhiro Otomo isn’t worth his salt as a director...save Metropolis, but he didn’t really direct that.
2. Ghost in the Shell is really boring.
3. 5 CM Per Second is both really confusing and incredibly moving.
4. The Pokémon and Digimon films don’t hold up (although the former are worse than the latter.)
5. Satoshi Kon doesn’t impress me. Yes, he’s talented, but I prefer investment above subversion of reality. Also, and I know this’ll anger some of his fans, but calling him more talented than Hayao Miyazaki is like saying that Christopher Marlowe is more talented than William Shakespeare. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, how many people have READ Marlowe VS Shakespeare?
But perhaps the most-interesting point of note was a movie that, despite not being from Studio Ghibli, impressed me just as much. I found it while traversing through an IGN article discussing under-the-radar animated films, and I’m thrilled that I saw it.
Natsuzora – The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
I love Mamoru Hosoda. Have I mentioned that?
The circumstances for this one were really a matter of timing and more timing, as I found it in segments on YouTube, yet didn’t have time to see it before the weekly learning sessions that I went to at the time. So I opened 10 tabs on my browser, placed each piece of the movie in one of the tabs, waited for them to load fully and left. When I came back, I watched the entire movie. And it was awesome. Keeping in mind that non-Studio Ghibli anime films kept disappointing me, calling The Girl Who Leapt Through Time “awesome” shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Anyway, from there it was straight to Hosoda’s repertoire. I remember a g1 in V4 praising his next film out the window, so I figured it must’ve been good. With a name like Summer Wars, how could it not? Still, while I never fell in-love with it to the same extent as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, it re-affirmed Hosoda’s awesomeness. That, and his films are currently the only non-Studio Ghibli anime entries in my DVD collection.
Interestingly enough, I went through a phase where I’d only look up reviews for his films on YouTube. It didn’t matter their quality, and it led to discovering two really talented individuals, both of whom I credit in helping me appreciate anime. The first was GRArkada, host of the Glass Reflection series. His style can be described as “philosophical”, a thinker expressing his love/disdain in such a way that the average person would be forced to think. I often call him “The Martini Otaku”, as he’s the kind of reviewer that’d show up to a 5-star event, order a martini and discuss anime with the other gentlemen in the room. Not to mention, he’s the reason why I’m writing this blog in the first place.
The other reviewer, surprisingly, had a much stronger impact. Her style was less sophisticated, but more in-depth. She had a fun charm, something complimented brilliantly by the snarky text in her reviews. And she had a 4-star rating system that she never took too seriously. I’m, of course, referring to JesuOtaku.
JesuOtaku’s Summer Wars Review – JesuOtaku
I’m breaking my rule by including a non-anime influence, but I really have to thank JesuOtaku, aka Hope Chapman. Because she understands that most of her fans aren’t big on anime anyway, and she’d be doing a major disservice by not dissecting the hype. As someone who still finds certain aspects of anime culture to be confusing, it’s helpful context. Plus, she reminds me a lot of the late-Roger Ebert, whom I was very fond of, so there’s a personal attachment on that front.
Anyway, for the next while, I made it my goal to go through her backlog and see what she had to say on anime. Sure enough, I found her Digimon Retrospective series. And it was really good, so much so that I even went back to revisit the series. Of course, saying “it was really good” comes in twos, because so was the series.
Digimon Are the Champions – Digimon
Told you I’d get back to this!
The strangest part about Digimon is how, unlike the other entries in my childhood quadfecta, it actually holds up. My childhood was so awful that I gravitated to many shows and movies, and while time has been awful to most of them, Digimon is a rare exception. Sure, it’s corny and flawed, but, like a bottle of fine wine, it’s aged well. Not to mention, it’s quite ambitious and daring for what was originally a marketing vehicle for kids. But you can read up on that in two of my V5 blogs.
So I’d gotten back into a childhood favourite, watching the first four seasons (in the order of 3>4>1>2) in the span of a month. Sure, I slacked on my schoolwork...but school was getting boring and frustrating, and this was a nice diversion from that. Also, I couldn’t shut up about the show! Seriously, the first conversation I ever had with my sister-in-law, who had just started dating my brother, was over whether or not Digimon was actually cool. Looking back, it was a dumb idea. But it was worth it, because Digimon.
This also marks the point where I began to really appreciate anime. Before, it was on-and-off. Sure, I watched it occasionally, but-as I said about Cowboy Bebop-it didn’t mean that I was really a fan per se. Still, the deciding factor was a show that took me two weeks to finish, yet was a 4-star recommendation by JesuOtaku.
Stray – Wolf’s Rain
Now THAT’S more like it!
I think, more than any other show, that Wolf’s Rain opened my eyes to of anime’s storytelling potential. Not only was it justifiably dark, it was clever, thought provoking, emotionally investing and incredibly philosophical. To-date, I still don’t understand half of its imagery, and I’ve seen it twice. I also own it, making it one of two anime shows currently in my collection. And, if I may be so frank, I still consider it one of the few shows that, with a few tweaks, could be a legitimate movie trilogy. No bullsh*t, I’m dead serious.
I know Wolf’s Rain is very divisive, with many anime fans either loving or hating it, but I’m big on any series mature enough to take me seriously. Besides, Doug Walker, aka The Nostalgia Critic, proclaimed it to be one of his favourite shows ever, and he can’t stand most anime! Oh, and did I mention that it has one of the greatest fight scenes ever? Yes, the show has one of the greatest fight scenes ever. I’m not kidding, watch this sh*t...assuming you don’t mind spoilers.
One last point of note is its final four episodes. Initially released as a 96-minute OVA, so as to finish the show properly, it’s famous for being one of the most heartbreaking finales ever. And it’s 100% true, as I was in tears at least once per episode. It’s almost like a modern Shakespearean tragedy, as you care for all of its characters before they promptly rip you from them forever. And it feels justified.
So with Wolf’s Rain done, I was now an anime fan. I began watching other shows I’d never seen, like Baccano! and Spice & Wolf, and enjoyed them immensely. With all the years I’d spent avoiding anime, I’d been missing out on plenty of great shows and had some making up to do. To-date, I’ve yet to fully complete my hunt for worthwhile shows, and I doubt I ever will. There are too many to pick from, some being impossible to find because, at the end of that day, I became interested in them way too late. Actually, I could probably watch them online, but copyright purists would breathe down my neck, so...
I had one caveat, however, one I held firm to before even knowing the right word to describe it: no Manga Iconography, save Digimon. Anime was an aesthetic hobby, and Manga-style artwork was off-putting. Besides, it drew me out of the illusion, since I considered it a cheap substitute for real facial expressions. And it looked ugly.
To-date, while I’ve warmed up a bit to Manga Iconography, I still don’t like it; after all, like I said, it draws me out of the illusion. Why make a goofy face for laughs when drawing the same reaction in a more restrained manner can equally get my attention? If anime were live-action, Manga Iconography would be over-acting. And I don’t mean in a good way either. As such, I’ve missed plenty of great shows, but it didn’t bother me initially. It wasn’t until I saw one in particular that my notions were severely challenged.
Morning Grace – Princess Tutu
I’m a hypocrite.
I frequently convince myself that my enjoyment for anime will never extend beyond X, but then Y proves me wrong. I then draw the line at Y, only for Z to challenge me yet again. It’s a repeating cycle that’s still going. In this case, it was Manga Iconography. Considering how ugly I think it is, I was surprised by how little it bothered me in Princess Tutu. But you can read my blog for a further explanation.
What really hooked me about Princess Tutu was twofold. Firstly, there’s the show’s use of classical music. As a huge fan of the genre, to the point that my alarm clock is set to the only classical music station in the city, it’s always wonderful to see a show use its. Like Cowboy Bebop, music is an integral part of the storytelling, and, also like Cowboy Bebop, it successfully draws you in. Even if I weren’t an anime fan, I’d probably have liked it just for that.
And secondly, the show is a clever, modern-day fairy tale that’s also somewhat tragic. Is it a kid’s show? Yes, but it’s one done well. It respects its audience’s intelligence, something a lot of children’s entertainment fails at, while also challenging them. As a fan of Pixar and Disney, of which this show reminds me of, I was instantly hooked on that too.
With the chips down, I was more open to anime that didn’t fit my ideal. I started going on a binging spree, watching a new show almost every week (since that was how long it usually took to finish each.) I also had a tendency to start a series on a Saturday night, tackling it in pieces during the week and end it on a Friday afternoon. Don’t ask why, it just worked out that way. Within the span of 8 months, I’d seen over two dozen shows.
But I wasn’t satisfied. There was one series in particular that I desperately wanted to watch. However, being in my 4th year of university, I was swamped by schoolwork. I had time for a small series, or even a Studio Ghibli movie in theatres (something that’s become a yearly tradition since The Secret World of Arrietty came out here in February of 2012,) but longer shows? No. Still, I was persistent, so once Spring exams approached, I hit an online streaming site (shut up) and hunkered down to see the “greatest Shonen series ever made.”
It didn’t disappoint.
Ready, Steady, Go! – Fullmetal Alchemist
To be honest, I’m not gonna bother going into too much length about why this show is awesome. You can just read my blog for further insight. But anyway, this one makes the list because of what it shouldn’t have been. By all means, it shouldn’t have been half as smart, sophisticated, emotional, psychological, suspenseful, funny and well paced as it was. It also shouldn’t have functioned at all, what with its immense cast and its “nearly every episode” twists. But it does, hence why it’s so remarkable. Keeping in mind that I’m not a fan of shows that are ambitious for their own good, as it reeks of arrogance, me saying that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
I also like how it subverts some of the common complaints I have about Shonen. It’s self-contained, for one, which means that even its fillers don’t over-pad its 51 episodes. Two, the premise isn’t “searching for something grander”, and nor does it over-exert what it is. And third, and this is more aesthetics, the characters don’t shout their attacks before using them, instead trusting the audience’s memory. I still wish that the Manga Iconography wasn’t there, but what can you do?
I should also address that conclusion, which so many detractors proclaim was handled better in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I ended up watching that show in December of the same year, and I disagree: not only is the ending to that show sloppier, but it negates any sense of sacrifice the protagonists had to make because of their dumb decision in the beginning. Besides, an ambiguous ending is smarter, and it’s not like it wasn’t left on a hopeful note...ignoring the movie, but I see that as an unnecessary-yet-enjoyable addition that still ends similarly. Also, it doesn’t excuse the issues-actually, maybe I’ll save that for another blog where I compare both iterations. People will read that, right?
I’ll save you the details that happened after watching Fullmetal Alchemist because, honestly, not a lot did. I was already an anime fan, so it’s not like I needed any convincing that anime was worth my time. And there was little room left for an anime show or movie to make an impression anyway. The only exception was the magical girls genre. Princess Tutu wasn’t enough, I needed more convincing that “the dumbest genre out there” could be compelling.
Connect – Mahou Shoujo Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Yeah...it was only a matter of time before this one came up. STOP PROVING ME WRONG, ANIME! GEEZ!
As a prelude to my thoughts on this one, yes, I’m using the show’s full name. The reason is because no one seems to be able to agree on what to call it: its full name? Just Madoka Magica? Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica? Madoka? Dokes-okay, FUCK WHOEVER CAME UP WITH THAT! IT’S STUPID!!!!!!
I think this caught me the most off-guard. It’s not because it’s the best, because it’s not. It’s not because it’s the cleverest, because it’s not. It’s not even because it changed my stance on anime, because it didn’t do that either.
It’s because it completely threw me for a loop.
When I first went into Mahou Shoujo Puella Magi Madoka Magica, I was expecting something dumb and contrived; after all, that’s what it looked like. The characters were silly, the opening was too cutesy, the animation style looked...bobble head-ish, it just didn’t sit right. So what if JesuOtaku gave it four-stars, or if she said it’d throw me for a loop? All I saw was stupid and more stupid, and I was only watching it out of skepticism. There was no way, NO WAY, that a show like Mahou Shoujo Puella Magi Madoka Magica could be good.
Then...episode 4 happened, and my jaw hit the floor.
Yeah, I have a bad habit of letting my skepticism get in the way of quality. To be honest, some of the series I’ve mentioned here, including Fullmetal Alchemist, were me being skeptical, getting smacked in the face by reality and realizing how much of a f***ing idiot I am. I prefer that to going in expecting awesome and getting disappointment, but still: I’m judgmental. Because not only is Mahou Shoujo Puella Magi Madoka Magica good, it’s great. And tragic. And has one of the most eyebrow-raising final episodes ever, but I’ll leave that a surprise. Actually, I’ll leave the entire show a surprise, I don’t want to ruin it!
Okay, we’re up-to-date with my anime history. What have we learned?
Well, that I have too much time on my hands, for one. But also, I’ve learned that I’m always late on the uptake when it comes to anime trends. Keep in mind, I didn’t even know what Cowboy Bebop until 11 years after it debuted, and I also hadn’t heard of Fullmetal Alchemist until a few years ago. It’ll definitely make the more snobbish Otakus laugh, but it’s not really a flaw. We all jump on certain bandwagons later than others, and anime’s mine.
On a different note, I also tend to gravitate to one of three kinds of anime: family-friendly (Digimon, Princess Tutu,) gritty and serious (Wolf’s Rain) and subversive (Fullmetal Alchemist, Mahou Shoujo Puella Magi Madoka Magica.) I don’t do it on purpose, but it suggests a specific mindset: I either want to tap into my little kid, or watch something that I can take more seriously. I know it’s not fair to be overly judgmental of what I barely understand, but...I guess that’s how I roll.
I also would like to point out that I don’t always fall in the usual categories. I’ll see any show/movie of salt, but only if dubbed in English. And, while I’m at it, I also don’t agree that Cowboy Bebop has the best dub ever. It’s great, but dated. My actual pick for “best dub” is Wolf’s Rain, a show that many anime fans still haven’t seen/gotten into because of its content and pacing. But I won’t harp too much on that.
Overall, I’ve come a long way. And, incidentally, I still have a long way to go. I recognize that there are many anime shows and genres I’ve yet to latch onto, and while some of might have reasons (I’m looking at you, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya,) others are just...well, I don’t really know. Above all, though, I’m still trying to figure out what’s worth my time, and it involves experimentations that will probably keep happening for many years.
The final point I’d like to make is that I wouldn’t consider myself an Otaku. I find the label restricting, as I like all kinds of animation. Not to mention, I still hold reservations about being associated with what comes with it. So yeah, I think “animation fan” better describes me. But I’ll let you be the judge.
Now then, if you’d kindly climb out of your seats and go back to reality, I’d appreciate it. I’ve wasted enough time rambling as is. Until next time, this is Whitly saying, “Read, comment and goodnight!”
“Captain Raccoon to the rescue!” *Flies off*