Sunday, September 14, 2008

Life after Little Wooden Boy...

My anime collection is nearing the terabyte level. There will be a celebration. Sometime in the spring.

There's never a good time to stop and list all my recommendations. I'm always in the middle of new series and always telling myself I'll attend to the "master list" in due time. My friend Roland and I were talking about anime the other day... and I realized the time to make some list, any list, is now.

Some of these will be old, some will be new. I'll even throw in one or two current suggestions. In all cases... I mean "when watched in order" and the subtitled version with the original Japanese voice cast. The first series on the list, for instance, is almost unwatchable in dubbed form.


Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi - One of my all-time faves. Abenobashi basically dares you to declare it juvenille and silly...

Mushishi - Low key paranormal investigations in provincal Japan. Lots of neat stuff goes on in this one.

Now & Then, Here & There - This is a tough one. You can't not recommend this series, because it's really unique and well done. But it's also a deeply brutal story that revolves mostly around little kids.

Denno Coil - The best cyberpunk ever constructed in any medium. So relentlessly brilliant that you'll feel terrible for not thinking of virtually everything that happens for all 26 episodes.

Edo Rocket - A fireworks maker tries to build a rocket to get a friend home to the moon.

Code Geass - Robot tactics/fighting, high school drama, world domination story with more characters than you could fit on a steamboat... very well done and home of the most advanced plotting I've seen since the Watchmen. Their trick is different than Moore's highly synchronized clockwork storytelling, but no less impressive. This is currently in its second season and is being fansubbed by Eclipse.

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya - A deranged chick starts an after school club with no discernable purpose. Very funny and strange.

FLCL - If there were some way to describe it to you, I would try. It's six episodes and possibly the coolest thing ever animated. It seems short, but then you have to watch it several times anyway, both to understand what the hell just happened to you, and to bask in the amazingness... so it actually works out to be about normal length.

Clannad, AirTV, Kanon 2006 - The old joke "I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me." is finally brought to the dreaded "five over five" status. All three of these are done by a company called Key and they all alternate between funny and heartbreaking. I'm just a huge fan of Key. Also noteworthy (!!!), they have excellent, clever, three dimensional leading male characters.

Read or Die - Both the three part mini-series and the full length television series are excellent. Highly recommended. Sort of a British spy meets pulp level metahuman thing they've got going on. It's eccentric, heartfelt and imaginative.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni - There's three of these now, and I'm not through the third one yet... they're all very (very) dark civic horror stories. They're roughly Lovecraftian in pacing, and they're oddly veiled behind a bunch of total lolicon characters... but all of them so far have been very intricate and well conceived.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha - The first two series of this are great. Imagine the best days of Beta Ray Bill being relived by a nine year old girl. It's like that, but to be honest Thor never had fights this good. Remember to drink each time you furrow and say "Damn."

Magical Girl Squad Alice - Amazingly, this series is nothing like the previous anime that began with "Magical Girl". Alice is more like Alice in Wonderland meets the old American cartoon movie "Wizards". Every episode is ten minutes long and there are fifty something total. It had neat art, a lot of good ideas, and an interesting storyline.

Rocket Girls - High school girls get drafted into an underfunded space program. It's impossible not to begin this series with a facepalm, but then it turns out to be a charming story with a lot of really cool educational stuff about rockets. This should be the first anime on PBS.

Bokurano - Part giant robot battles, part sci-fi horror, and part dramatic vignette. It's not a happy story, but I liked it a lot.

Paranoia Agent - A murder mystery presented through a lens of Bhuddism. Another of my all-time favorites and another anime that flops like a thrice bashed fish after dubbing.

This is really just scratching the surface. We could go deeper in many directions, but these anime are all solid. And there's a lot of anime that is perhaps more foundational, like Bebop and Ninja Scrolls, but presumably you can find that with any "best of..." google search.

I've watched tons of anime, so if anyone has questions about anything specific, don't hesitate to ask. I suggest bittorrent and as good places to look for free fansubs.

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