ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Where to Start With Anime

Updated on July 29, 2013

What is this Anime thing?

In recent years Japanese Anime has become a world wide phenomenon and a cornerstone in pop culture. Today's children grow up either watching an anime show or a show inspired by that style. Have you personally ever looked at the whole thing and wondered what all the fuss is about? Well keep reading and you'll soon discover why it's become so popular. I'll take you through the best Anime movies and shows to start you off or if you're an avid fan, here's some titles worth watching if you haven't already.

What's so special about Anime?

Unlike Western attitudes to animation, Japan has long looked at animation as just another medium to tell stories instead of a medium reserved for kids only. There are a number of things which set Japanese Anime apart from many other animated shows and movies.

1) Distinctive Style

By this I'm not referring to the way people or objects are drawn; I'm referring to the stylistic choices employed when directing a scene or the way storytelling is conveyed. You've probably heard the expression "speed-lines" at some point. Anime has a few more tricks like speed-lines which makes it very distinctive such as panning across a completely still image or sliding two still images past each other etc.

Most Anime movies also have a tendency to tell stories in a very unique way. Much like the Japanese language, storytelling can often be abstract while still being poetic. When starting out with Anime don't feel to bad if you don't really understand all of what you just watched.

2) Bold Ideas

I think most people would agree that today the Hollywood film industry is running low on ideas. Most movies that are coming out are either adaptations, sequels, prequels or reboots/remakes. Hollywood is even attempting to make board games into blockbusters. If you ever find yourself tired of the same old thing then I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised by what Anime has to offer.

The stereotype is something involving giant robots, monsters school kids and while they do exist there's always something new and interesting to be found. You can find anything from Steampunk to family Drama. If you've ever wished for a new, rich story to contrast with standard summer movies then look to Anime.

Akira

Probably one of the most famous Anime movies of all time, Akira was the movie that launched the Japanese style into the Western world and made it into a phenomenon. Written and Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira follows the story of two teenagers - Tetsuo and Kaneda - in post WWIII Neo-Tokyo. While fighting in a war between two biker gangs, Tetsuo is abducted by the government and experimented on with disastrous, Earth shattering results.

For 1988 the animation is some of the most jaw dropping and impressive even for today and detailed to an extent that is yet to be surpassed. Akira is also one of the best characters studies as we watch Tetsuo turn from an angst ridden teen to a walking weapon of mass destruction and Kaneda from an older brother figure into a reluctant hero with no choice but to kill his best friend. Akira is both visually impressive as well as drama heavy and it succeeds on both fronts. Plus all of this is set to a fantastic musical score by Shoji Yamashiro.

Even at the time and even in it's native country this was a ground breaking movie experience and its impact has been felt world wide. The Wachowski brother's once said, "No Akira, no Matrix". Nuff said.

Ghost in the Shell

Before I end up repeating myself I'll just give a blanket statement that the animation for all these suggestions is awesome. This time we go to Neo-Hong Kong instead of Tokyo to witness the Cyberpunk action of Ghost in the Shell. I mentioned the TV spin-off in a previous hub, but this movie is still worth talking about.

Ghost in the Shell follows the futuristic counter Cyber-Terrorist force called Section 9 as they investigate hacking activity by the mysterious "puppet-master". Much like Akira this is one that stands out as both action packed as well as truly intriguing and morally fascinating. Most of this depth comes from the protagonist, Major Kusanagi - who is nude for most of the film for some reason - a person so cybernetically altered that the only thing human left is her brain. So many powerful themes and questions are raised that is the action doesn't grab you it's sure to have you pondering various ideas in your head.However quite frankly it's impossible not to be thrilled by the action in this movie. From car chases to Kung-Fu fights to a stand-off against a spider-tank.

I also have to mention the music by Kenji Kawai - who later scored Ran and Ip Man - which while minimalist is still hauntingly beautiful. If you're into movies like Blade Runner or games like Deus Ex then this is soon to be another favourite.


Bleach

A great TV series for the more spiritual. Bleach tells the story of Ichigo Kurosaki who stumbles upon a world of souls and monsters and the war being fought daily that remains invisible to most. Recruited into a secret society, Ichigo goes about the task of hunting down "Hollows": rouge souls who have turned into terrifying creatures.

This series is much more lighthearted than the previously mentioned installments but still an entertaining and inventive story with great characters. Every episode has a well staged action set piece and despite the first few episodes just being, find hollow-fight hollow-kill hollow, there soon comes a lot of variation and new dynamics which leads on to a very deep mythology.

As well as great action and interesting backstory, Bleach also delivers on a comedic level with some true belly laughs. Whether it's the dry humour of the gentle giant Chad or the eccentric cartoon chaos of Ichigo's loud mouthed father, your sure to crack a smile.

This is a story which adults and kids can get into, but I think that adults would be more suited to following the plot which gets a little complicated quite fast. A fun series with plenty to entertain you.

Spirited Away

One of the most beloved Anime directors is Hayao Miyazaki for his family friendly, warm hearted adventure movies. Spirited Away was the movie which won him an Oscar as well as world wide fame and critical praise and for good reason. The film tells the story of a ten year old girl who wonders into a fantasy world of whitches and monsters and where humans are changes into animals.

I don't often use the word, but the best way to describe this film is cute. It's a cute family adventure which tops even Disney's sunny disposition. It's also great in terms of landmark film making. No movie is perfect but there's little wrong with this gem. It's creative, funny, thrilling with great characters and drama. While I personally prefer the heavy handed sci-fi stuff I will always enjoy this movie.

There isn't much I can say beyond, buy it, watch it and prepare to feel all warm and fuzzy.

Evangelion: You Are (Not) Alone

A recent discovery of my own, but a damn good one. Evangalion is both a stereotypical Anime, but also one of the best. If I were to streamline the plot it basically goes like this: giant robots fight giant monsters. I think Guillermo Del Toro's a fan. It's what you'd expect, but the actual story and setting for this epic is highly original and will peak your curiosity.

Set in a world many years after meteors smashed into the icecaps causing global flooding, a young boy is recruited to pilot a immense machine and fight off demonic like creatures known as Angels - irony I suppose. Underneath the gigantic clashes of monsters and machines however, is a compelling mystery that will have you guessing towards the end - honestly I'm still wracking my brains about it.

What makes it stand out against the other giant robot fodder is simple design choices which will make you say out loud, "Ooh that's clever isn't it". The back story is one much like Akira in that it blends both fringe science and cyber-tech with spirituality and ancient mythology to create something unique and stunning.

The franchise originally began with a TV series but then went on to be remade as a number of big screen movies. I recommend starting with this movie mainly because it's how I got into it and have since become an avid fan.

Pacific Rim had awesome robot fights, but this franchise has that and much much more.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)