Adventures in Anime

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Via Steven I came across this posting by BeckoningChasm on his conversion into the otakusphere collective.

I kid, of course. I’m not an otaku, and I only use the term because, like BeckoningChasm, I don’t tend to use the conglomeration of jargon and adopted Japanese words that most other people who write about anime do. There’s really no point to using borrow words where English will do just fine. I’ve been watching anime regularly for going on a decade now, and it’s rather strange because, like BeckoningChasm, I don’t consider myself an anime fan. I think it’s kind of a unusual situation to be in, particularly when the fanbase of anime seems so often to be so fanatical that they swear off books, television, live action movies and start dipping into disturbing and obsessive practices.

Unlike BeckoningChasm, I’ve been watching anime for about a decade now. I can count the number of anime DVDs I own on my hands, but have a few friends who collectively must own almost every DVD ever burned. Where did I get started? That’s tough to say. My recollection of events that far back is definitely jumbled. I do remember the first two major anime films that I watched: One was late at night when everyone else had gone to sleep, I pulled out the DVD of Ghost in the Shell, which I had remembered being recommended by Siskel and Ebert. I sat down to watch it and was completely hypnotized. The other was a DVD recommended to me called Ninja Scroll, which was enjoyable enough but certainly not something I’d class as great. Presumably the latter is respected for its animation quality, but I really don’t care about the technical aspects of production so long as it doesn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

From there I’ve gone on to watch a decent number of movies and series, although I am pretty passive insofar as my anime-acquiring habits. I recognize that almost everything out there is garbage; Either it has no redeeming qualities or it isn’t entertaining to watch, or both. By utilizing other people as my filtration mechanisms I can maximize the amount of good content I can watch while minimizing the bad. The trick, of course, is, as BeckoningChasm points out, finding out how other peoples’ tastes coincide with your own. For example: Big O and Full Metal Alchemist are both shows that became very popular because they were featured on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Both are trash, but worse, I didn’t even find them enjoyable trash. Big O had an amazing concept, but it was never developed, instead being used as a vehicle to ignore continuity and throw lots of big robots at each other. I hated all of the characters in Full Metal Alchemist, found the plot repetitive and far too graphic to be enjoyable. Lesson learned: The dreck the masses of Cartoon Network lap up like it were honey is not for me. I find this a pretty good rule, although I will watch that interminable series, Inuyasha, simply for the fact of analyzing it in terms of an ongoing D&D campaign, or DragonBall Z, which is a definite guilty pleasure.

Of course, personal recommendations are also hit or miss. While I enjoyed Ninja Scroll enough that I don’t have reservations about watching it, I was also recommended Plastic Little by the same friend — And I definitely regret watching that. Steven , just to give a more relevant example, has watched and liked enough harem/romance comedies, and rejected as many other good series or movies, that I know it’s probably hit or miss whether our tastes align.

In any case, I have run across a number of good recommendations in my internet travels, and will run across more no doubt. Now if only I had the time to watch them…

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