5 More Animes You Must See Before You Die
Author: Darryn King and Geoff Larsen
Thursday, 27 September 2007
EXCEL SAGA (1999-2000)
Inviting comparisons to Monty Python and Looney Tunes, sometimes Excel Saga seems like an experiment in testing the limits of an animated series. Did I say ‘sometimes’- I meant pretty much all the time. The coughing and spluttering through the bubblegum-pop opening music, the ridiculously postmodern appearances of Koushi Rikudou (the creator of the original manga), the main character talking at a mile-a-minute and fantasising about eating her dog… Then there was that episode that never made it past the Japanese censors. I’m talking gore, nudity, lesbianism, paedophilia, brothels… Sort of makes South Park look tame, doesn’t it- Excel Saga is far too extreme to be to everyone’s taste but, like crystal meth and cannibalism, it’s something you should try at least once.
PARANOIA AGENT (2004)
Created by Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress - two films that probably should be on this list), Paranoia Agent deals with a phantom known as Lil’ Slugger (which is what I call my… dog). Any more details than that would spoil the experience. Suffice it to say that excellent storytelling and production values make these 13 episodes must see.
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST (2003-2004)
I knew it had a strong case for being the most popular anime of all time, but I was still surprised the first time I saw Fullmetal Alchemist, and heard a small boy’s voice emanating from a bulky and massive suit of armour. That’s the thing - it looks like just another disposable boys-only action-fantasy toon, but it has a depth of narrative and characterisation that you don’t often get in animated series round these parts. It’s made up of tight (in contrast to Dragonball Z) and sometimes self-contained stories that fit into an overarching story arc that follows the Elric brothers on their quest. It’s a genuinely gripping story - this is a series that pulls you along and sucks you in. You want to know what happens, it’s as simple as that.
NINJA SCROLL (1993)
Ninja Scroll is the one movie that has everything that defines anime on it. Blind Samurai: check. Small cute Japanese women with out-of-proportion breasts: check. Demon rape (of the cute Japanese women with out-of-proportion breasts): check. Vagina snakes: check. All topped off with lots and lots of gore. If the whole reason you are into anime is because you want to see over-the-top blood and out-of-the-top boobies (and is there any better reason-) then Ninja Scroll is the classic you’ve been looking for.
MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO (1988)
All right, it’s probably not fair to have two Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki films in this list (Spirited Away made the list last week), but this one really is something else. The film follows two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, and their discovery of a forest spirit (a ‘Totoro’). ‘Spirit’ is a misleading term though - Totoro is more like a fluffy and benevolent teddy bear, and something of an icon when it comes to anime these days. The simple thing about this film is that it makes you happy - not constrained by the conventions of Hollywood, there’s no girls-discover-an-exciting-and-fantastic-new-world adventure, and the only real complication in the story is Mei getting lost on her way to visit her mother. Basically, the viewer simply is just invited into a magical Japanese village for 90 minutes - even more magical when seen through the eyes of one of the girls. Somehow it just doesn’t get tiresome.
There is also a Catbus.
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