For the past month, I’ve been experiencing an anime revival in the sense that I have found opportunities to rewatch some of my favourite anime series. I thought this would be a good chance to explore my relationship with anime and all the ones I have watched.
Most of the anime I’ve seen were first watched in the early 2000s which was the height of my anime phase. I was an adolescent with an anime past, curiosity, and the internet. In general, I have become quite picky about the animes I watch. I just need to find the time to track the series down and stick with it. I’ll watch an episode or two and I tend to know early on if it’s for me; I did use to be more open minded about the series I watched. Same with Asian dramas really, but when they are good, they are really good.
Not all the animes in the following list are my favourites, but they are ones I stuck with for the whole series so that in itself is an achievement for me.
If you’ll notice below, I watch a lot of female dominated series and movies. Part of the reason I go back to anime is the dominance of strong female protagonists and gender roles. Anime is the medium which fostered a whole genre about girls saving the world by being girls. For that reason, I do tend to go back to my favourites.
Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon: I could write a series of posts about this series. For many girls of my generation, this was our first anime. I was obsessed with it for two good years as a child, and every few years, it comes back into my life as it is doing now. The themes of love, compassion, friendship, and girls being girls is timeless. My favourite seasons and movies: the first/original season, series S, Stars because it was the last one, R is good in parts, but can’t compare to the others, and finally, SuperS is a bit boring in parts compared to the others. The R movie has one of the best endings in the whole series. I’ve been reliving and rewatching the series since I discovered Shadowjack’s recaps of Sailor Moon on RPGnet; he’s on hiatus before starting SuperS. I do look forward to rewatching Sailor Stars as this will prepare for the planned reboot this summer.
Vision of Escaflowne: As with Sailor Moon, I was first exposed to this with the North American dub. Again there is a strong female lead, and this anime has excellent animation. The imagery of Van Fanel still stays with me. I find the movie had a more emo Hitomi. The protagonists and their relationship is strong and both characters develop very quickly and believably in this fantasy/sci-fi anime tale.
Serial Experiments Lain: This series had a big internet following when it came out. The themes of identity, technology and communication hit the zeitgest at the time about the internet. I actually don’t remember much of the plot, but I do think this is a classic anime in many ways in both its weirdness, the character growth and depth, and it’s themes.
Cowboy Bebop: One of the most popular animes in North America due its strong storytelling and dub. I am rewatching in parts due to Mark Watches. To me, the most notable thing about this series was its amazing blues and jazz soundtrack. It still remains one of my favourite original TV soundtracks ever. Secondly, this anime is different than most and very accessible for Western audiences. I find it hard to believe that Joss Whedon didn’t watch Bebop before making “Firefly”. I think for people who don’t know much about anime, this is a good way to gently be introduced into the medium with the caveat that Bebop is in itself unique and distinct.
Noir: A series about female assassins? I’m in. There are similarities to Bebop, and I remember enjoying it because I had a noir phase then. I wouldn’t say it is necessarily something I would rewatch because it’s a heavy anime without many moments of levity.
Ayashi No Ceres: Family angst. This a tad dark and intense anime. It is done in a style of many shojo animes except darker and much more violent. It feels a bit rushedat 24 eps, but decent plotting and animation other. Also a good soundtrack.
Fruits Basket: I remember friends and other people saying this was very good because it made them cry. It is a sad anime and a bit of a reverse harem anime too. I can’t remember most of it other than that it was sad and had a unsatisfying ending.
FLCL/Furi Kuri: This anime was strange. It is short which is why I was finished it, but I still think this is the oddest anime I’ve ever watched. I didn’t really attach myself to any of the characters as a result of the confusion I went through.
Princess Tutu: I’m also rewatching bits of this for Mark Watches, and this is a wonderful anime series. It deals with fairy tales, story telling, free will vs. destiny, ballet, creativity, and has a really lovely romantic and unexpected romantic pairing. Killer soundtrack like all my favourite animes have.
Saiunkoku Monogatari: I love this anime. This was the last anime I watched a few years ago. This series was targeted to women in their late teens and twenties. It tells the tale of a young woman who wants to be the first female civil servant in her kingdom. The fact that there is an anime targeted to young women about following your dreams and being empowered is wonderful in itself. The animation is beautiful. There many bishonen in this series making it a reverse harem, but a wonderful one since all the guys are distinct and their relationship with the heroine is unique. It got two full seasons, but I still wish it would have gone on for much longer. I had to resort to the manga to find out the real ending.
This is by no means a definitive list. I’ve also started numerous anime series, but never got around to watching them in full due to loss of interest, time or availability of good subs. Examples include Magical Rayearth, Fuushigi Yuugi, Saint Seiya, Ah My Goddess, Chobits, Inuyasha (I’ve seen the ending and bits here and there, but it is long), Poemon, Dragon Ball Z, Digimon, and more.
There are a few animes I now want to try to watch such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Card Captor Sakura, Hana Yori Dango (I’ve seen all the live action versions now), Revolutionary Girl Utena, and others especially the newer ones. But I really doubt that is happening anytime soon. I can barely catch up with my western live action shows as it is.
I do genuinely believe that the anime medium and style offers a lot of great storytelling. In the past ten years, I think Western audiences have grown to accept the idea that animated storytelling is emotional and nuanced. But it is still far off from developing many animated series to the caliber of some of the above.
Do you watch anime? What are your favourite anime series?