I Am Anime (And So Can You!)
While Disingenuous Assertions is mainly a video game site, we also write about other stuff that we’re interested in. Something I’d love to talk about more is anime, but I usually only get to do so online, other than recommending a series to Ryan or another friend. So that’s what I’ll do here. A lot of people judge anime harshly after they’ve seen a select few. But it is just another medium for entertainment, diverse as an author or director want it to be. Kind of like, y’know, video games, television, movies, books, etc. Here are some series I thought would be good for someone that would like to give the medium a try. Some are “entry-level” type shows that newer fans seem to flock to, while others are just personal favorites that I think would work similarly. So here are five recommendations, I’ll post a part 2 sometime in the near future.
Adult Swim shows:
I’ll go ahead and get all these out of the way in one go. The Adult Swim programming block (or Toonami now, ever since it came back) has always played good shows. I’m sure a lot of people watched their first anime on old Toonami weekday afternoons or AS. I included Death Note, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Fullmetal Alchemist (Brotherhood remake or original, take your pick), Ghost in the Shell: SAC, and Code Geass in the image; they seem to be the ones everybody’s seen or knows about. All these shows have merit, whether they’re really good, really entertaining (there’s a difference), or beloved classics. The important thing that many viewers forget is that these are not the ONLY anime that exist. So go ahead and watch the shows that everyone knows about, just don’t get hung up on them and argue on the internet about how “Anime isn’t the same anymore!” or “Why is all the currently airing stuff so awful?” when your sample is just a cherry-picked selection of good shows likely to appeal to foreign viewers. So while they’re definitely good, they’re not the end-all-be-all of the anime viewing experience.
Neon Genesis Evangelion:
If you haven’t seen Neon Genesis Evangelion, go watch it. Just do it. If an anime that came out in 1997 is still discussed daily 15+ years later, that should tell you something [And only about half those discussions are about wanting to fuck Rei/Asuka/Misato/Shinji/etc]. As a deconstruction of mecha anime, this series was like nothing that had been seen before. The [pseudo-]deep and disturbing imagery and a messed-up cast of characters make this an unforgettable show that has spawned fan and hate-bases alike. In case you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil too much. Just be sure to watch the “End of Evangelion” movie after the TV series ends for even more WTF moments. And Tang.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
TTGL came out fairly recently and wow-ed viewers with its insanely over the top super robot action and battles of galactic proportions. Made by the same studio as the above NGE, the series has a really distinct art style, which is accompanied by hot-blooded manliness and inspiring speeches. TTGL seems to be loved by so many people, old and new to anime alike, that it actually became the cool hipster thing to do to hate on it. It has flaws, sure, and definitely isn’t the first to tread this path, but it’s still amazing nonetheless. I’d recommend the sub over the dub here (and in most cases as well) due mainly to Kamina’s voice actor, but other than that point either language track will do.
Hunter x Hunter:
So what about you, the person who still loves his weekly shonen fighting fix and claims Naruto/Bleach/DBZ is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Maybe you need to be eased into to different genres more slowly. So why not begin with a different and lesser-known (at least in the West) action series? No I’m not talking about One Piece (just read the manga, the anime adaptation is SLOW). Hunter x Hunter comes from the same author of the YuYu Hakusho series (which AS/Toonami viewers may remember fondly), and it’s smart and creative battle scenes are very entertaining to watch. HxH uses “Nen” as a do-all power system for the fighters, and if it seems similar to Chakra used by orange-jumpsuit ninjas, that’s probably because a certain other series may have been supplied inspiration from here. It’s an ongoing action series done right. There’s an original anime from a few years back and a remake that’s currently airing (which is what I’m watching), and either one works.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya:
Speaking of different genres, let’s go ahead and shift gears for a bit. Back when I still only watched the aforementioned weekly fighting shows, I initially began branching out uncertainly to see what other genres had to offer. Two of my favorites that got me to begin trying other types of anime were Azumanga Daioh and the pictured The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (This is the part where you realize that a 2006 anime was when I branched out, and that I’m not one of those old VHS trading anime fans. More recent than that. Sorry if I misled you). The supernatural, school-life, mystery anime combines a lovable cast of characters with an engrossing plot involving aliens, time-travellers, espers (aka psychics) and the one that ties them all together, Haruhi herself. What would’ve been an alright story was elevated by the amazing narration from main character Kyon, as he cynically and begrudgingly attempts to make sense of the situations he’s thrown into. A movie also came out within the last couple years, and it’s a near perfect adaptation of the novel it came from.