In honor of this month’s Animation Celebration theme, today we’re going to look at ALL the anime. Well, okay, maybe not ALL the anime, but certainly more than one. These shows are the reason I’m obsessed with anime, and my secret plan is to get everyone to watch them as well (*cue dramatic music and maniacal laughter*). After all, a celebration isn’t complete unless you’ve convinced someone to join a fandom. So, are you ready for this anime whirlwind? Let’s go!
First anime I ever watched: Yami no Matsuei / Descendants of Darkness
I stumbled upon this anime after seeing an AMV of it set to Tori Amos’ “Cruel” (which you can watch right here, in case you were curious). This mysterious show seemed to have an evil, silver-haired gentleman, some blood sacrifices, and fire; lots and lots of fire. So I figured, why not? Let’s check it out. And boy howdy was I surprised. The whole thing was on YouTube, and I think I marathoned the show in two days (I had to fight for the computer because this was in the Days Before Individual Laptops). To say I loved it is a bit of an understatement; this was one of the first times a TV show – one not even in my own language, where I had to read subtitles to really get what was happening – had made me cry. YouTube suggested titles similar to Descendants of Darkness, and thus began my descent (HA).
First anime I technically ever watched but did not realize it was anime at the time: Pokémon
This was the same for all of us 90s babies, I’d wager. It was meant for kids, there was adventure, and it gave me a goal in life: to become the very best, like no one ever was.
First anime series I ever bought: Elfen Lied
This series is pretty famous in the anime community, I think. Even if you’ve never watched it, you most likely know what it’s all about: murder and nudity. But it’s about so much more than that, I promise! Like Descendants of Darkness, I first learned about Elfen Lied (FYI: the title is German for “elf song,” so don’t start wondering who Elfen is and why he/she lied) through an AMV on YouTube. I loved it and decided I needed to own it. I remember finding it in Best Buy with my mom and practically screeching with joy. She’s never looked at me the same since.
Most confused I ever was while watching an anime: Episode 5 of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
I plan on covering this series in a later post, so let me just say that while the episode was playing, I started freaking out because dead characters were suddenly alive again and nothing made sense. I thought I’d completely effed up the episode order (I watched it on YouTube), and I was convinced that the first four episodes I’d watched were supposed to be the series finale.
Favorite voice actor: Akira Ishida
Damn. I don’t even know where to begin. I *think* I first heard him as Satoshi in D.N.Angel, but where he really stole my heart was as Cho Hakkai in Saiyuki (sidenote: Saiyuki is my all-time favorite manga). He just has THE smoothest voice.
Anime I recently completed: Ao no Exorcist / Blue Exorcist and Donten ni Warau
I watched Exorcist mainly because I kept coming across it on Pinterest. It was so frustrating to see photos of this blue-flamed devil child and not know why he was that way, and since the series happened to be streaming on Netflix, I checked it out. And it was pretty enjoyable. I’m always up for a good brother struggle, plus learning about the show’s take on demonology was cool. Speaking of brother struggles, that’s what Donten ni Warau is ALL about. My word. I think I saw a gifset for it on Tumblr, and when I learned that it was about three siblings, I was sold. Sibling stories will always be a giant check plus in my book. Plus, DnW also had some supernatural things in it, which is another check mark.
Anime I’m currently watching: Soul Eater
I started this solely for Mamoru Miyano; I will follow any of his voice work. However, I’m making very slow progress due to school, so I will likely not finish it until next month (so close, and yet so faaaaaaar).
Favorite opening: Shingeki no Kyojin / Attack on Titan
No contest. That OP has me ready to kick ass and kill titans.
Anime I couldn’t finish: Amnesia
I watched the first episode and, despite the voice actors being on-point, I just couldn’t get into it. I’d like to give it another shot, but who knows. Reverse harems don’t seem to be my thing.
Favorite 2014 anime: Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance and Tokyo Ghoul
Zankyou no Terror is just so odd because it was legitimately my favorite anime last year, but it became so messy about halfway through. Characters weren’t fleshed out, goals had no sense of weight to them, the pacing was jumbled… However, this series earned massive points with me for two reasons: the subject matter (teenaged terrorists) and that ending. Holy hell, that ending. I can’t even remember the last time I was so broken up over a television show, and to this day I can’t listen to the music accompanying that scene without crying. In comparison, Tokyo Ghoul had real-world effects if Kaneki Ken didn’t achieve his goal of controlling his new powers and hunger, and his struggles propelled him to being one of the most popular anime characters of the last 5 years (trust me, I am a scientist). Plus, this was a series heavy on the psychological, one of my favorite genres.
Favorite 2013 anime: K (Project)
This has to be the flashiest anime I have ever seen. So many blues, so many vivid colors; that’s what dominates it. But what I really liked about this series was that it didn’t introduce you to the world; instead, it dropped you right into the middle of it, into the action that sets off the story. You have to figure a lot of things out for yourself, and while I know that’s not everyone’s Pimm’s cup, I enjoyed it. It forced me to pay attention while also making me care about the characters because they came into the series with very strong and apparent pre-existing relationships with one another.
Anime I went in not expecting to like: Free!
Do you remember back in 2012 when we first heard about Free!? It was affectionately titled “the gay swimming anime” by the anime world, and it looked like it was going to be purely fanservice (which is totally fine, but I prefer PwP). The original trailer had me laughing because how could there even BE a plot? WELL. Free! is now one of my most beloved anime. There’s plenty of plot to go around, plus the series throws some emotional curveballs at you. I’m so glad it got its second season, which also delivered on plot and some much-needed character development. Also, Makoto Tachibana is one of my all-time favorite characters because I just cannot stand him.
Anime I initially gave up on but gave a second chance to: Kuroshitsuji / Black Butler
DON’T JUDGE ME. Everyone was raving so much about Kuroshitsuji back in the day that I figured it couldn’t actually be that good. So going in with that attitude completely ruined the experience, and I stopped watching after maybe seven episodes. I thought the series didn’t have a clear idea of whether it wanted to be a comedy or a creepy, supernatural tale. However, when I heard that a new season was coming out for summer 2014, I decided to try the series again. And I’m glad I did. It’s a pleasantly dark series, and I enjoyed the ambiguity as to whether Sebastian and Ciel only view each other as pawns or as someone they genuinely enjoy being around (in Sebastian’s case) or need (in Ciel’s case).
Favorite opening song: “Goya no Machiawase” by Hello Sleepwalkers from Noragami
Anime I’ve never watched (and probably won’t) but know everything about: Naruto
Is it sacrilege to say that I’ll never watch what is arguably one of the most famous anime in existence? There are just so many episodes…Plus, due to the interwebs and this series being a top choice to set an AMV to back in the day (aka the only way to find good music and anime was to search for AMVs), I know so much that any surprises would be spoiled.
Subbed or Dubbed: Subbed
Don’t get me wrong; there are definitely some good English dubs out there (hello, Hetalia!), but dubs generally don’t match the characters’ personas. We’re going to get into this debate later on (see? I totally have a plan for this column), but for now I will go with subbed.
Anime I kept watching in spite of myself: Sensitive Pornograph
I’m not even going to pretend with this one; it is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a rite of passage for any yaoi fan, but I’m still haunted by the sound effects.
Favorite closing song: “Still Doll” by Kanon Wakeshima from Vampire Knight
2015 anime I was most looking forward to: Durarara!!x2
I watched the first season a few months ago, and it completely exceeded my expectations. There’s a great cast of characters spanning a bunch of ages, which is important for me because I tend to skip animes with young protagonists. I was also super curious how this odd show would continue the storyline from season one.
Favorite genre: Hmm…probably supernatural, but as long as the series has a load of psychological torture in it, you’ve got me.
Favorite topics portrayed in anime: This is so much easier to answer than favorite genre. I will watch anything with the Shinsengumi or Fūma Kotarō. The first started because of a oneshot by Nanoe called Sekishin, and the latter started because of Mirage of Blaze.
Japanese or English Title: Haha, who knows. I’m not consistent in using titles (see every single title mentioned in this post) because I tend to call something by whatever title I happened to first hear it called by. So while it’s easier to say Black Butler (3 syllables!) than Kuroshitsuji (5 syllables, boo), I usually call this show by its Japanese title simply because I heard or read the Japanese title first.
Favorite OVA: Ai no Kusabi (1992 version)
I don’t know if you’ve noticed a pattern in the anime I’ve mentioned, but I have a strong preference for very stylized characters. So it was a huge surprise to me when I fell in love with Ai No Kusabi, which has some old-school animation. However, this is a good example of how a strong story (coherent plot and well-defined characters) will ultimately eclipse everything. Also, if a series manages to make me cry, that basically means it will be a favorite, and this series is WAY up there.
Anime I plan to watch once this semester is over: Where to start? Psycho Pass, D. Gray Man, Deadman Wonderland, No. 6, Blast of Tempest, Gintama, Your Lie in April…the list is endless. I haven’t yet checked out what the summer 2015 anime lineup is, so I’m sure this list will expand.
Favorite anime: I… don’t know. There are certainly anime I’m partial to because of sentimental value (Mirage of Blaze), there are some I love for the voice acting (Death Note), there are some I enjoy because they break my usual mold (Ouran High School Host Club), and there are some I will be buried with (Saiyuki Gaiden, which is an OVA). It’s hard to pick just one.
Phew! That was a lot of anime. Some will become full posts later on this year, but in the meantime, I hope you might be inspired to check out some, any, or all of the above-mentioned shows. So, in honor of April’s Animation Celebration, talk to us about anime! What are your interests regarding anime? Why do you watch? WHAT do you watch? How would you answer all of the above topics?