Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesdays Top Picks

So I tried this thing once and then I never did it again, and there's a good chance I'll never do it again, again, but lately I've been watching a SHIT TON of anime and I really want to talk about my favourites now so here they are, my top five anime series!:

1)Cowboy Bebop

1) Samurai Champloo

These two are together because there's just no way I could choose one over the other. They're radically different: one is about bounty hunters ("cowboys") on a spaceship called the Bebop; their a ragtag group of oddballs, each with their own back stories, but Spike is the central protagonist and his back story is intense - it's an anime that asks if we can ever truly escape our pasts, no matter how hard we try to run from it, or how much you try to atone for it. The other is a samurai drama set in Edo era Japan; a trio brought together by fate - two samurai with very different approaches to the application of their skill get conned into accompanying a ditzy girl on her mysterious quest. Here we have an anime that deals with the journey-destination, which is really the one that matters question. So two anime with two very familiar themes, so why are they awesome? SO MANY REASONS!! Incidentally, both are directed by Shinchiro Watanabe. Both incorporate an entire aesthetic revolving around their musical scores: Cowboy Bebop uses the blues/jazz genre, and the story of Spike's past heartache makes for a real folk blues sonata ;) Samurai Champloo does crazy things with hip-hop and the samurai aesthetic. I could really write a twenty page paper on the brilliance of each, but that seems like a silly thing to do on a blog. So just trust me that they're AMAZING! (note: neither appear in manga form)

2) Code Geass

Oh man, this almost made a three-way tie for first, but that seemed to defeat the purpose of the systemalthough I think last time I offered my top five novels in no particular order, so maybe there is no purpose beyond simply talking about what I like. ANYWAYSthere is so much amazingness wrapped up in this anime it's ridiculous. There's the empire of Britannia and the colony of Section 11 (Japan) and the elevens (former Japanese) who form a resistance, so we've got MAD colonial critiques. Then we've got this super-genius high-schooler who's half-Japanese, half-royal family, and he gains this super power and decides to use it to take out his revenge on the royal family that turned their backs on him and his sister, but he does this in the most ruthless of ways, but, like, it's so much more complicated than that; he will go so far as to make himself the most heinous of villains in order to secure a world where his sister can live freely, so there's this whole ends vs. means thing, how far do you go to protect what's important to you? To secure justice? What is justice? Etc. THEN the high schooler even turns his new super power on God/fate/what-have-you itself . GAH, there's just all this and so much more going on - you can watch it over and over and see new things EVERY time (I think I've been through the series four times now). Frickin' watch this anime.

3) Death Note

Here we have another high schooler who gains incredible power - any name he writes in a notebook he finds (a death god drops it onto Earth to spice up his boring life of repetition) becomes a "death note" re: that person will die. He decides to use this power to kill criminals, enacting perfect justice in his view of thingsonly, is it really justice? He's really just a killer himself; we have institutions for justice and law because rules = good, anarchy = bad. So we see the society in the series split between those who support what this kid is doing and those who don't. Add in the fact that the high schooler is a super genius, the death god who dropped the book follows him around for his own amusement, a ditzy girl also winds up with the same power and falls in love with him, a super genius is brought in to catch him, AND his own father is heading up the case and this shit's BANANAS!

4) The Wallflower (Perfect Girl Revolution)

This anime holds a special place in my heart because I can relate to the main character: Traumatized from being called "ugly" by the boy she likes, she becomes a total introvert who is obsessed with all things macabre - slasher movies, dissected organsher best friend is an anatomy mannequin. Okay, so these things actually don't describe me at all (though recently I have been watching quite a bit of horror stuff in both anime and mainstream tv/films), but she's also an extreme introvert who is totally socially awkward - enter me relating. Also, I do sometimes think that Big Boss is the only friend I've got in the world and he's a stuffed bearthe anime is also in the genre of "harem," offering the reverse harem (our heroine finds herself forced to live with four incredibly gorgeous classmates charged with teaching her to be a lady) and I feel no shame in saying that male anime characters are so totally attractive. There's lots that's problematic with this show - don't get me started on the whole "teaching her to be a lady" bit (screw that proper lady bs; I don't even know what "proper lady" means), but it's also so endearing: our heroine is just so cute for her hopeless social ineptitude and she refers to the gorgeous men as "dazzling creatures" and I find this adorable.

5) Kaichou-wa Maid-sama

5) Special-A

Another pairing, but this one makes sense since these two are basically the same show: high school girl is super determined to be the best, which makes her hopelessly clueless to the fact that her male rival is madly in love with her, and that's why he's always there to help her out. Another SO PROBLEMATIC genre in that it tells us that women are not complete without male companionship and love, but it seems that where I despise romantic comedies in pop culture film and tv, I love it completely in anime. Ah well, we're not all perfect! I might as well go ahead and include in this grouping Vampire Knight, a supernatural-romance-genre where, again, the female lead is dependent on males (in this series our heroine has two males constantly coming to her rescue and vying for her heart), but I was also fascinated by the vampire thing WAY before Twilight happened, so yeah.

Well that's the "five," but I could do a list of a gazillion, really . Well, okay, I have a list of anime to watch that I keep adding to (I've currently got 43/105 checked off said list :/) and as I review the list now I realize that, while Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Code Geass will always be my top three, after that my favourites could go anyway. Here are one's I failed to mention, but easily could have:

Skip Beat! (read manga)


Bleach (read manga)

Kuroshitsuji (read manga)


Full Metal Alchemist (+Brotherhood)

Honey and Clover




Pandora Hearts (read manga)

Ouran High School Host Club

Fruits Basket

Fairy Tail

Inu x Boku SS

OMG writing this list I just realized ALL OF THEM make my top five.
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