When you think about someone’s favorite anime, one of the first factors you consider might be bias. Someone’s favorite anime might be Toradora!, and yet you, the reader, run away from romantic comedies like the Apocalypse is actually real and “romcoms” are Satan, or his minions, trying to make your brain melt out of pure, horrifying boredom.
Since our interests might be conflicting, let me attempt to explain the circle of hell that I presently guard. Or, as you’d call it, my taste.
A little secret: I hate writing reviews. I also despise putting together “Top Lists” due to an inability to rate one thing over another. Say I was called upon to list my favorite series of this past year, 2012. Immediately springing to mind is Tsuritama, for I honestly cannot think of an anime more jubilant than that one. It was tightly-plotted, colorful, and emotionally satisfying. Then again, how could I possibly compare the burst of emotion and energy I received from Tsuritama with something that make me laugh warmly week after week like Polar Bear Café? This idea continues to fall to pieces when fondly remembering the other series I so loved this past year: Hyouka for it’s exploration of detective fiction, Tari Tari for its warm heart in spite of a rather cynical backdrop, Aquarion EVOL for its over-the-top ridiculousness, Smile Precure for its Cinderella episode alone, and Acchi Kocchi for washing away the troubles of the day with fuzzy romantic sweetness.
The fact is, that when called on to compare them, I simply cannot. They’re all too different. I loved watching each and every one of them, and this is well before any mention of the perpetual war between emotional resonance and objective quality in reviews; a war in which I refuse to speak for one side – although one may hazard a guess to where my opinion would fall. Now having established my hatred for these sort of things, what should follow this introduction when asked to list my top five anime of all time? Well, I refuse to rank them, although feel free to argue amongst yourselves in the comments section about quality versus emotion and how to place things on your MAL user list with an insignificant number. I am simply here for the sole purpose of speaking to five spectacular series, in no particular order. All are highly recommended.
“I think… that I would rather recollect a life mis-spent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral debt.”
― Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things
Amidst the hulking bodies of twelve year-old boys who look like men, and grown men whose bodies rival those of only the greatest bodybuilders, it’s easy to overlook the development of Erina Joestar neé Pendleton, the love interest of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s first protagonist, Jonathan Joestar. After all, what viewer would pay attention to an unremarkable supporting character when there are bombastic fights to be had, powers to be gained, and fabulous musical fade-ins with Yes’s “Roundabout?”
The answer is a large number of people, when said unremarkable supporting character has become a powerful and formidable matron. More surprising is how easily her new role simply fit. Characterization, and character progression, are shadowy demons who often escape the grasp of even the most competent. For Erina’s transition to be so widely-accepted, the groundwork had to be laid early.
Believe it or not, anime has a lot in common with rock and roll. They both inspire great fandom, huge arguments, and sometimes brilliance that transcends pop culture into the realm of something more universally accepted as “art.” But perhaps the purest forms of both media revel in the lowbrow, the seedy, the less-than-distinguished. That is to say: a loud, primitive, vintage-sounding rock and roll record by Guitar Wolf or Billy Childish may not be high art, and neither is Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!, but they’re both fun and your parents hate them.
Somewhere between the early stomp of Eddie Cochran and the insipid horndoggery of Nickelback lies the 70s. And therein lies a metagenre deified by many a radio station across the United States and held in similar reverence by Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. I’m talking about Classic Rock.
There are plenty of kinds of classic rock, many of them terrible, although some are downright listenable. All are fair game for these characters of the “Phantom Blood” arc. I’ve included a bevy of YouTube links for your edification (and sometimes pain).
Two girls sit in a tank, facing the viewer. The city in the background appears to be on fire. Via Pixiv
2DT, blogger and endless fount of writing prompts, recommended I watch Girls und Panzer (GaruPan for short) for unspecified reasons which very quickly became clear: the show presents a world with different rules for gender roles. During the informational video played at the end of the first episode, the girls of Oarai are told that “tankery” (the “sport” of tank-mounted combat) is one that emphasizes grace and beauty and is as a result ideally suited to young women with poise and drive. Because in our world, men wage war, this alternate reality represents a progressive vision where women lord their martial might over men… WRONG. And, frankly, it wouldn’t matter even if that were the case. And here, I think is an opportunity to say a few things about choice.
We occupy a rather unique niche on this world in that we’re the only ones blessed with the capability of pondering our own finitude. It grants us the perspective of reckoning with our mortality, a bitter balm for the weight of knowledge.
“If the world is full of things we never wanted to know, is our only option to look the other way?”
ajthefourth: A sneaking suspicion has been building for some time that not all is right with the Little Busters! universe. Well beyond the fact that Komari was allowed to grow up without understanding death – something that anyone who could pass for a parent would explain to their child at a very young age – it wafts through every interaction like a bad stench. Something stinks in Little Busters!.
She whose smile is, apparently, like the sun.
otou-san: I feel like I really denied everyone the opportunity to witness me foaming at the mouth when it comes to last week’s Literary Bus (awful twitter joke ahoy). But as AJ4 mentioned last time, it turns out I do value the arrival of my firstborn slightly more than Key-shaming. Thanks to our guest Myst for holding down the fort.
As the cast of Little Busters! builds, so does my irritation. The arrival of new characters is always welcome in a harem setup, and an element of contrivance is to be expected just to make it happen. But honestly, I don’t think it’d be that difficult to pump a cast full of girls without resorting to “awful ojousama character just appears and forces herself upon Riki and the Busters while laughing.”