Intro to Anime – sorely needed…

When I was in my 20s the groundbreaking anime film Akira was released. It pretty much blew any American made animation that was being produced at the time out of the water.


Recently I got to thinking about how woefully ignorant I am in regards to anime, so I put together the following as a tutorial…

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For this first part I’m going to defer to my daughter Tessa who’s thirteen and is currently learning Japanese.

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Note: Tessa wouldn’t let me include a photo, so I’m posting a manga style drawing instead. And yes, her volleyball team is district champions.

As far as a bare bones kid-friendly intro goes, Tessa gave Shawna Howson’s intro to anime videos a thumbs up, and ads that her explanation of Shōjo is especially dead on.


And for those who think Shōjo is just stupid, here’s Howson’s rebuttal…

Shawna-Howson-Knows-Its-Okay-Not-To-Like-Things
Shawna-Howsons-Dont-Be-a-Jerk-About-It-Dance

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I’m already digressing, but an American animated series with definite anime roots that my kids and I loved was Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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This is NOT to be confused with the movie by M. Night Shyamalan.
The strengths of the animated series are actually best made in this episode where
the Nostalgia Critic compares the animated series to the movie.

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Okay – back on track…

I asked MCAD alum Allison O’Brien for a list of recommended titles, as – in addition to being a fantastic artist – she also had been President of the MCAD Anime Club.

Allison

In her own words…
“These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head, but it seems about right.”
Notes after the titles are hers.

Princess Mononoke


Ghost in the Shell


Spirited Away


Grave of the Fireflies


Perfect Blue – Personal preference.


Tokyo Godfathers


Paprika


Redline – For sheer style ALONE.


After she gave me this list I asked her for some kid-friendly picks.
Spirited Away (listed above) was one – here’e more…

Castle in the Sky


The Cat Returns


My Neighbor Totoro


Kiki’s Delivery Service – Really just anything Ghibli are quite good.


Maybe add Summer Wars, though it might be pushing it.


The ones listed in my previous list are pretty violent/psychological in nature (ESPECIALLY avoid Perfect Blue and Grave of the Fireflies).
Princess Mononoke may also cut it, but it does have some decapitations/similar violent imagery.

-Allison O’Brien

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Update: After sending this to give it the once over, Allison added…

Most of what I gave you previously were movies, so here’s a few series that are great to get into:

Monster – Psychological drama, very intense.

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Mushi-shi – Cerebral/spiritual, emotional experience.

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Hunter x Hunter – My preference is the 2011 version, but the ’99 one is still great, incredibly smart and influential.

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Baccano – Colorful cast, unique storytelling.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Known as one of the best shounen series, for good reasons.

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Mononoke – Insanely gorgeous.

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I mean clearly I could give more, but I figured some series to balance out the movies would be good.

This is the default chart that tends to get sent around when people ask for recommendations.

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-Allison O’Brien

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So there you go – this at leasts gives you a starting point if you’re new to all this. And if you’re not new to it, titles you may be unfamiliar with to look out for.

Before signing off I’d like to thank Allison for her recommendations.
To see more of her work, check out her portfolio at cargocollective.com/allobrien

Also check out her progress blog at allobrien.tumblr.com – fun stuff!

tumblrAllison

About Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, he is also the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip - both available at ComicsKingdom.com. A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, The University of Minnesota and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
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