Why I love anime

Because they’re almost all mini-series.

Generally you know if you’re starting something, it will finish.  It will have nice closure.  You won’t be left hanging.  If the show gets popular, it is still going to finish the story line and end.  They might add a new season, but it will also have a story line that has a crafted ending at the point in which it starts.

As a kid I HATED when the puppy never made it home or we never found out if the pirates were successful at getting rid of the evil miasma that was taking over the world.

Now at least sometimes we get some closure when they take a beloved series cancelled too soon and make it into a movie.  Though in the movie (spoiler alert!) everybody gets killed off.  Failing a movie, sometimes we get to see the last couple of unaired episodes on dvd, like with Wonderfalls.

Another reason I like anime is that it tends to focus on perseverance over innate talents.  In a series DC1 and I are currently watching, Law of Ueki, that idea is spelled out point-blank.  The main character loses “talents” as the series goes along and makes the point that that loss just means he needs to work harder, and that he can still enjoy the process of something like running even if he’s lost his innate ability to run well.

That idea that you can escape your circumstances also shows up with a recurring theme that you can create our own families, our own lives, our own destinies.  We can surround ourselves with other imperfect people and help each other grow.  As one of my favorites, Fruits Basket, says in the opening song, “I can’t be born again, but I can change a little every day.”

OTOH, #2 doesn’t like anime — most of it.  I have seen some lovely and wonderful examples, but mostly it irritates me.  I can’t stand how all the women have BIG EYES and teeny tiny mouths.  Just bat your lovely eyelashes and don’t talk, airhead.  Sigh.  Anatomically impossible women’s bodies in children’s outfits creep me out.  Yes, I know it is a cultural thing that I will not fully understand, not being steeped in that culture.  Still, ick.  IBTP.

#1 notes that #2 is talking about anime that #1 does not watch (well, maybe some harem anime…).  There’s a lot more to anime these days than male fantasy, especially with anime that is appropriate for children (a necessity when one’s child is old enough to ask awkward questions).  There are a lot of strong smart female characters who persevere for their own reasons.  Ginormous breasts are also absent from most of the anime I watch.  There’s even animes in which the girl starts doing something because of a boy, but like in Legally Blonde, through her struggles she realizes the boy isn’t worth it but she is.  Another of my favorites, Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge, turns the Pygmalian story on its head– 4 pretty boys are recruited to transform a goth girl into a lady, and instead she changes them.

Any other anime likers?  What do you like most about the art form?  For non-anime watchers, have you ever been annoyed by a series ending before there’s closure, or deciding to drag out a story arc way too long after the show gets popular?

My favorite animes

Princess Tutu … one of the best animes ever made.  And that is despite its silly title.  Or the fact that a brief description would be:  a duck turns into a girl turns into a magic girl ballet princess.  This is simply one of the most beautiful and beautifully crafted works of art in anime. (It also has funny bits.)  The most wonderful thing is that the first half has a storybook ending, but the second half has an ending that is much more satisfying, even if there’s a bit of pain (but “without a hurt, the heart is hollow,” right?).  There’s also a mindflip for watchers.  What is really going on?

My favorite animes are generally ones centered around people changing each other for the better, often healing each other, but sometimes just spurring each other on to greater heights.  That’s a theme in Japanese anime that I really like– we can help each other be who we want to be.  [We will ignore my guilty pleasure of harem animes for the nonce– the following do not fit into that category… for the most part.]

Kenshin :  A story of redemption… a killer samurai in the Meiji era decides never to kill again.  So he becomes a wanderer.  But there’s a problem when you’re really good at killing– people want you to do it more… and sometimes bad guys want to do bad things and you have to prevent them without becoming bad yourself.

Fruits Basket :  A story based on the zodiac… a family with a secret.  An orphan girl who finds them.  Healing.

HimeChan’s Ribbon :  A great children’s anime.  Hime-chan becomes a magic girl with the help of accessories from her doppelganger from the magic kingdom.  She’s so genki!

Ouran High School Host Club :  A smart but poor student gets a full scholarship to a rich kid’s academy.  Breaks a vase.  Has to pay it off by working at an after school club called the Host Club.  And people grow up and change and find their families.

Natsume Yujincho :  A boy is able to see spirits trapped against their wills and sets about freeing them.

Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge :  a somewhat creepy goth chick ends up sharing a house with attractive young gentlemen.  Her aunt is giving them free rent if they turn her into a lady.  She resists, and changes them instead.

Kodocha :  A super feisty girl actress… her life, her mom, her school, her drama… Frenetic anime.

Slayers  How could you not love Lina Inverse?  She’s small and eats a lot and kicks ass.  Skip the dub on this one– one of the characters’ English dub drives me batty.

Noir :  This one is a drama and not really about redemption… but wow, beautiful music, mind-flipping story, and man, can these female assassins make killing look beautiful.  The popcorn episode…

Currently watching:  Sgt. Frog (via Netflix– so there are a lot more episodes!).  The US dub on this one is hiLARious.  I’m sure they’ve taken a lot of liberties and they have fun with that.  I’m curious what the original Japanese is like.

[Note it says “My” instead of “Our” because um, #2 feels the same way about anime that she does about mushrooms, only maybe even more contemptuous.]

Anyone else an anime fan?  (*crickets chirping*)  What do you like to watch?  Also:  sub or dub?  (I promise I won’t judge if you say dub… dubs are getting better…)