Ramblings & Reviews

Intro to Anime

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

That said – this got me to thinking about how woefully ignorant I am in regards to anime, so I put together the following as a tutorial…

For this first part I deferred to my daughter Tessa (who was thirteen at the time this post was originally written). She loves manga and took Japanese as a language in Middle School.


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

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

And for those who slam Shōjo,
here’s Howson’s rebuttal…


An American animated series (with definite anime roots) that Tessa recommended highly is Avatar: The Last Airbender.


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.

The following recommendations are from MCAD alum Allison O’Brien. In addition to being a fantastic artist she was also President of the MCAD Anime Club back in the day.


From here on in, all comments in italics are from Allison.

These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head, but it seems about right.

Princess Mononoke

Ghost in the Shell

Spirited Away

Grave of the Fireflies

Perfect Blue – Personal preference.

Tokyo Godfathers


Redline – For sheer style ALONE.

Kid-friendly picks. Spirited Away (listed above) was one.
Here’s 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.

Manga Recommendations:
Note: Among Westerners, “manga” refers to Japanese comics.

Most of what I gave you previously were movies, so here’s a few series that are great to get into. I mean clearly I could give more, but I figured some series to balance out the movies would be good.

Monster – Psychological drama, very intense.


Mushi-shi – Cerebral/spiritual, emotional experience.


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


Baccano – Colorful cast, unique storytelling.


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


Mononoke – Insanely gorgeous.


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


-Allison O’Brien

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

Also check out her progress blog at
Fun stuff!


By Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip. From 1996-2003 he was the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip. 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, and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.