Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Hobby Long Overdue

The first result when I Google searched 'anime'.

I've always been drawn to anime. Some anime used to scare me, usually the ones that they would play on Adult Swim. But this fear was usually instilled by anything that came out of Japan. I remember I used to get scared by the Mask Guy from Majora's Mask and every time I put on a Deku mask I would shit my pants because of Link's shrieks of pain. However, there was anime that would totally captivate me as a little kid. The youthful adventure, the nobility and spirit that came with a lot of the characters, the explosive, impossibly dramatized and colorful battles. It spoke to me. So much anime is based in fantastical fantasy world where life is about living to the fullest and never turning your nose up at the chance of a new adventure. As a kid I had always and to this day still do pine for a life like that. Where the impossible is just another 24 minute episode away. 

I really miss  the good ol' days watching Pokemon.

I used to watch some DBZ when I was in elementary school, a bit of Sailor Moon- which I think was partly due to my younger sister- and Pokemon which would have been impossible to avoid even if I didn't know what anime was. Yet aside from Pokemon, this never became a trend and I didn't really grow up watching any anime like some other kids I knew. But because of them I was always aware of some of the more popular ones which would just usually be whatever was on Cartoon Network.  My extreme childhood fascination with Pokemon would dwindle down to a distanced appreciation for the franchise and aside from a couple of moments with months of time in-between, anime would have no part in my life. 

Then it must have been about the 7th maybe 8th grade when Cartoon Network was premiering Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow. Boom. Just like that a fiery passion for anime was ignited inside of me. I had seen Naruto a few times before but those episodes weren't as grandiose as that movie. I was completely amazed that something that fulfilled my creative desires so perfectly had been around for so long and there I was brushing it off! That day I made a promise to myself that I would watch Naruto from the beginning and surely this would be the start of my official self-introduction in to the world and culture of anime. Nope. Nothing happened. I don't know if it's because I didn't really know how to start or if I just forgot but that was it. I still carried a love for Naruto as I would make sure to let people know my admiration for it whenever I would overhear it in another conversation.

Intricate. Suspenseful. Confusing.

So it would be a couple of years and I would watch Naruto if it was on sometimes. Nothing big. Then there was this moment last year. A friend of mine gave me the first volume of Death Note. While anime and  manga aren't the same they both stem from the same root. I actually followed through with reading the rest of Death Note and thoroughly enjoying it. My next move- remembering my love of Naruto- was to read the Naruto manga from start to finish. I actually started reading it and bought the first 8 volumes. Discovering that I had about a bajillion more to go, I decided this wasn't the most cost-effective decision. Once again, my fervency for Japanimation subsided but this time it would be for a smaller period of time

Just last month I was on Netflix looking for something to watch on Instant Streaming when an impulse came over me. I went to the Anime & Animation category and just went to town on that shit. I immediately started adding everything that was even remotely interesting to me to my Instant Queue. There was so much to choose from!

I started with Ouran High School Host Club.


Adorable characters, hyper-realized school life, youthful love. It was all there and I was freaking loving every moment. I have once again fallen heads-over-heel in love with the world of anime. The art style, the adventure, the obligatory speeches on love and peace. It's tailor made for people like me.

Following Ouran I would start to watch Fruits Basket. I wanted to continue to watch light anime that were mostly just wacky kids getting into trouble. This was... not so hot. It was just so girly. And sure Ouran was pretty girly but it was girly in a mocking way. Fruits Basket is legitimately for tweens who wanted to ogle and giggle at a girl caught in a supernatural with a bunch of hunky and mysterious dudes. Pass.

I immediately jumped into FullMetal Alchemist. I had heard about this series many times from anime fans before. But would the popularity live up to my expectations? Yes. Yes forever. I would spend about a month watching the entire series on Netflix. It was fun, intense and sometimes surprisingly dark. The whole series crosses into philosophical questions of life and death in a wonderfully created universe where Alchemy overcame science and machines. It was gripping from start to finish with a total bomb being dropped at the end that leads up to an equally awesome film finale- FullMetal Alchemist: The Movie: Conquerer of Shamballa. I was ready to continue the adventure with FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood until I found it wasn't a sequel to the first series but rather a recreation that stuck to the manga and told a different story. I was kinda sad. Regardless, I ordered the disc through the mail and I still haven't sent it back. The beginning is so similar to the series that I just finished watching that I can't held but fall asleep. It's also mostly due to the fact that I try to watch it after coming home from school and I'm without energy to even speak. So, yeah. I'll get that done this week.

That brings us to now! There are 3 anime that I am in the midst of viewing.

Darker Than Black

This is pretty meh so far. I haven't decided if I like it enough to even keep watching so not much on that. I like it it's just moving along kinda slow and I've been told it's no good so who knows.

Soul Eater

I'm enjoying this quite a lot. The characters are cool and the universe is interesting but some things are confusing because it's a hybrid of our world and there are demons and humans can become demons and yeah. The plot is fine. Just some things are cheesy and dumb. There's one character whose name is Dr. Franken Stein. Mmhmm. There was some other allusion like that which I found equally upsetting. But there's one thing that really puts me off about the show sometimes and it's the art direction. The academy where the main characters go to train to become demon killers is really gross-looking and they show it off in CGI and it's just so gaudy. Then there's the sun and the moon which have faces on them and it's just annoying as shit to have them lingering behind every scene. I can't take it seriously sometimes. We could have an intense moment happening and the fucking sun is heaving in the background like he's watching people have sex through a window across the street. The moon is just bleeding all the time. Not as bad but still. I find that the show just looks oddly distorted for the most part. I can deal.

Gurren Lagann

Boobs and robots. Anime at its finest.

Now I am really digging this one. It was recommended to me by a friend who was hesitant to let me know about it because they knew I would like it. They feared this would result in me never being able to shut the hell up about therefore ruining it for everyone because the anime would become synonymous with me.(See: Scott Pilgrim) Well they were right on the money and I apologize for nothing!  Gurren Lagann is about a post-apocalyptic world where humans have to fight a horde of enemies in giant mecha in order to survive. Then a couple of bad-asses who were living underground until their home was invaded steal a mecha and use fighting spirit and pure heart and to fight back; ushering in a new reign of human resistance! AWESOME! It's a lot of crazy, nonsensical fights loaded with breasts as a bonus. Reminds me of Gundam, except Gundam wasn't as sexy.

My relationship with anime has been a strained one with it's ups and downs but we finally seem to have been reunited for good. What will I watch next?! Cast your vote now!

So that's about it. But last night I saw FLCL. Holy shit. This warrants it's own post.

P.S. I would be remiss if I wrote this much about anime and don't bring up what's happened in Japan. For a place where so many of my favorite things are born this takes a heavy toll on me. It's always painful to see something like this happen and feel hopeless at the inability to get in there and help but my heart is with those affected by this and we can hope that everything is being done to move towards a resolution for those in need.

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