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Why I Came Back to Japanese Animation

Updated on August 10, 2016
Spirited Away, Chihiro, Miyazki
Spirited Away, Chihiro, Miyazki | Source

It all started...

I have a half sleeve commemorating Hayao Miyzaki for his works such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke.

I have key chains of Totoro, plush toy versions of Kiki's cat, Jiji, and the smaller Totoro sprites, Catbus slippers, Totoro buttons; Haku is flying on my arm in his dragon form with shikigami flying beside him; Totoro is laying in cove with Jiji in his arms and the forest spirits are sitting beside them, chilling.

I was recently Yang from RWBY at a convention, have been the "Bitch Witch" that Kiki meets in the sky in the beginning of the film, swear by SAO, have a poster of Sinon in my room along with a figurine of her holding her gun, and a plush of Yui.

As someone who went through the path of puberty accompanied with Adult Swim and mangas, anime, and Pocky, I also had something from my childhood always riding in my back pocket: Miyazaki. This man, Hayao, was a definitive factor of my childhood without me even realizing it until I hit 12 and watched Spirited Away in my art class.This man created the movies I watched as a kid and this movie I am watching right now in art class? Why are we not doing actual art though...?

In a way I am revitalizing my childhood in created a permanent aspect of Miyazaki's work on my body; his art style is different than many-a anime, and I want to have that art on me. Not to mention I get strangers gooing over my tattoos.

RWBY, Yang
RWBY, Yang | Source

The interest in Japanese animation is not a rarity around the globe, particularly for the culture it represents and the bizarre nature of Anime: people turning into animals; shooting magic out of your hands; flying around in the air; spirits are per usual and so is being a DDD cup when you are 13. Particularly the mystical element of anime is the driving point; a sort of fantastical revelation of excitement, story, and wonderment that allows the viewers to become engrossed.

Evidently, Japanese Animation has, and always will be, a large aspect of pop culture. Similarly to American Animation, Anime is the stock animation of Japan; as per our Disney Princess style of animation, Japan's is even more big-eyed and unrealistic hair than anything Disney can dream of.

Many people cast aside anime as per the typical stigma of shows such as Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Corpse Party, and other guilty pleasures. Evidently it started somewhere, going back before Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z to movies and previous animations found to be lost between Black Butler and Cowboy Bebop.

Resurgence!

According to History of Anime, Japanese Animation began in the early 20th century, but picked up significantly in the 1940's with a resurgence in the '70's. However, the first account of Japanese Animation may have very well been in 1907 with the film Katsudō Shashin. Though this account is not definitive, there are several cases of Japanese Animated "films" until the '20's that are on the line attribution. Of these there is the 1911 showing of ニッパールの変形 (Nippaaru's Transformation) and Les Exploits de Feu Follet shown in 1912 and confirmed as one of the first animated films shown in Japan.


Happy, Fairy Tail
Happy, Fairy Tail | Source

Modern Anime

Today's Japanese Animation has become as much of Japanese culture as other parts of the word. Whether an anime noob or pro, the consensus of shows and movies are all ones we have probably heard in passing. After searching countless polls and lists of the "best" anime series, there are a few that always seem to eek out the competition:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010)
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006)/ Code Geass (2006-2008)
  • Death Note (2006-2007)
  • Attack on Titan (2013/14-now)
  • Naruto Shippuden (2007-now) and Naruto (2002)
  • Fairy Tail (2009-2013, 2014-2016)
  • Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996)
  • Sword Art Online (2012-now)
  • Bleach (2004-2012)
  • Hunter X Hunter (2011-2014)
  • Cowboy Bepop (1998-1999)
  • Psyho-Pass (2012-2014?)
  • Gurren Lagan (2007)
  • One Piece (1999-now)
  • Steins; Gate (2011)
  • Fate/Zero (2011)

Of course these are from an accumulation of different sites, forums, and my own knowledge. More accurate information is in the table below.

IMBd Top Anime Series of All-Time

(click column header to sort results)
Title  
Year  
IMBd Rating /10  
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
2009
9.1
Hunter X Hunter
2011
9.0
Steins;Gate
2011
8.8
Clannad: After Story
2008
8.9
Gode Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
2006
8.7
Cowboy Bebop
1998
9.0
Hajime no ippo
2000
8.9
Tengen toppa gurren lagann
2007
8.4
Death Note
2006
9
Monster
2004
8.7
Mushi-Shi
2005
8.6
Gintama
2006
8.8
Legend of the Galactic Heroes
1988
9.1
GTO
1999
8.7
Attack on Titan
2013
8.8
Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger
2009
8.8
Anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day
2011
8.4
Hellsing Ultimate
2006
8.5
The Tatami Galaxy
2010
8.6
One Piece
1999
8.8
Baccano!
2007
8.4
Pyscho-Pass
2012
8.3
Slam Dunk
1993
8.8
From the New World
2012
8.3
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
2011
8.4
Kuroko's Basketball
2012
8.5
Haikyuu!!
2014
8.6
Kids on the Slope
2012
8.4
Tordadora!
2008
8.3
Samurai chanpuru
2004
8.6
My Ordinary Life
2011
8.4
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files
1992
8.5
One Outs
2008
8.3
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
2002
8.6
Mononoke
2007
8.3
Hunter X Hunter
1999
8.8
Durarara!!
2010
8.1
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
2004
8.5
Welcome to the NHK!
2006
8.5
Natsume yujincho
2008
8.0
Kino's Journey
2003
8.5
Ouran High School Host Club
2006
8.5
Planetes
2003
8.3
Clannad
2007
8.2
Fullmetal Alchemist
2003
8.7
Fate/Zero
2011
8.4
Nana
2006
8.6
Major
2004
7.6
Fairy Tail
2009
8.3
Beserk
1997
8.7
Trigun
1998
8.4
The Count of Monte Cristo
2004
8.1
Neon Genesis Evangelion
1995
8.6
Dragon Ball Z
1996
8.8
When They Cry
2006
8.2
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
2012
8.2
Darker Than Black
2007
8.0
The Rose of Versailles
1979
8.5
Bakemonogatari
2009
8.1
Kaiba
2008
8.4
Lovely Complex
2007
8.2
Mobile Suit Gundam 00
2007
8.2
Kill La Kill
2013
8.1
Detective Conan
1996
8.4
Guardian of the Sacred Spirit
2007
8.4
Black Lagoon
2006
8.1
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
2013
8.2
Kanon
2006
7.8
Maison Ikkoku
1986
8.4
Princess Tutu
1986
8.4
Eureka Seven
2005
8.2
Honey and Clover
2005
8.2
Future Diary
2011
7.9
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
2012
8.0
Ookiku furikabutte
2007
7.9
The Twelve Kingdoms
2002
8.2
Future Boy Conan
1978
8.9
Dragon Ball
1995
8.6
Spice and Wolf
2008
8.1
Soul Eater
2008
8.0
Ef: A Tale of Melodies.
2008
7.6
Black Butler
2008
8.0
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
2006
8.0
Maid Sama!
2010
8.2
Azumanga Daioh
2002
8.5
Haibane renmei
2002
8.3
Sword Art Online
2012
8.0
Ergo Proxy
2006
8.1
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
1985
8.4
Dragon Ball Z Kai
2009
8.3
Gungrave
2003
8.1
Claymore
2007
8.1
FLCL
2000
8.4
Naruto: Shippuden
2007
8.6
Serial Experiments Lain
1998
8.2
Bleach
2004
8.2
Last Exile
2003
8.0
Elfen Lied
2004
8.2
Wolf's Rain
2003
8.1
2014 IMBd Top Anime Series of All-Time Updated January, 2016

Why it Matters

For many there is a stigma that encompasses the context of anime, and that stigma is estranged more-so by a radical spectrum of viewers and anti-viewers. Though I have yet to meet anyone avidly avoiding anime or Japanese animated moves, there is still an air of negativity that surrounds the act of doing more than "recreational" watching of beloved series and movies. Like anime junkies.

Many family movies implement the use of Japanese animation though we may not associate them in the same way we consider shows like Dragon Ball Z and Bleach. But the movies like Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke depict the transition of Japanese animation over time and the growth of beloved animators.

Whether you have considered taking a peak at other countries' animations or already avidly watch them, broadening your respect of animation makes one more culturally aware and sensitive. Essentially, appreciating anime is part of appreciating art. Just think of going to a museum but everything is over emotional, action packed, exaggerated features, and badass.

Psycho-Pass
Psycho-Pass | Source

Japanese Animation: Where Do You Stand?

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