Friday, November 29, 2013

Anime Reviews Part 1

Somewhere, sometime, someone out there made an extremely segregated and bias comment about the watching and partaking in the enjoyment of Anime, strictly Japanese Animation. They correlate it with being a nerd, being asian, being a social outcast, someone who probably watches hentai, someone who has few friends, and most of all something for children. What I have listed above may or may not adhere to you, or anyone you know who likes anime particularly, but these are often the preconceptions and assumptions one makes when I tell them something I did over say perhaps winter holidays or the summer. They look at me and laugh, smirk and paint me as a child who likes to watch cartoons. I'm here to dispel these assumptions, not in anyway trying to prove that one equals one and that I'm correct, but in my opinion show how these ideas and prejudice towards anime watchers should be taken with a grain of salt.

Anime is animation - such as it is cartoon as it here in North America. However, in Japan, anime is taken seriously as a media artform - just like how shows here have gathered much fame and popularity (Breaking Bad, Dexter, GoT, Suits, Walking Dead etc), animation in Japan is popular in the same sort of sense. I had my communications course final project as opening up store in the Eaton Center that was strictly Japanese culture, coming with statistics about their market, and how seriously they take it there. If you label anime as something for children, asians, geeks and is the pure reason you will not ever want to watch it you are being extremely ethnocentric and simple minded. Life is about expanding beyond your current bubble of knowledge, and enjoying things that you might not have thought to enjoy. For example, I recently got into trying different types of coffee makers in the world, having steeping (through a french press), pressure (through a moka press), and gravity (through vietnamese/french filters). This showed me that there are so many things that could benefit you, if only we allow it to come to us - that includes ordering a drip filter straight from Saigon, Vietnam. To be simple minded, is to ignore evolution in one's life. To paint anime as childish is ignorant. To perceive rap as black people music is racist. To open ourselves and broaden horizons is seeking knowledge, life, and evolution.

Many times I have even let it slip that I watched anime during say a team meeting with students, or through random group projects, instantly regretting the onslaught of racist, prejudice-laced comments. Anime can open many different thoughts not thought possible - and I have to admit that there is no western television show that can incorporate such a diverse range of topics, themes, morals into a mere 26 episode season. Nothing I have watched ever comes close. Well maybe that's because in animation anything can happen - actors are replaced with giant robots, space, different worlds. Technology hasn't caught up in that aspect. However I am about to give a crash course in why thinking deeply, and being probed with thoughts not thought possible should be part of everyone's life - and if you do ultimately decide to spend these 9 hours watching the series, then maybe you can one day go through the experience I have after these. Maybe one day you can experience what I have experienced, and in turn sacrifice your precious 9 hours of time.


Being created and dubbed one of Anime's greatest masterpieces, NGE is the anime bible of weaving themes subtly in the plot of the Mecha-filled series. Now being remade into a four - part movie series, the franchise has grossed 150 billion yen (wikipedia cited). The original series took place in 1995, after the mecha genre boomed with Gundam being released a decade before. While forcing myself to watch this master piece I was faced with a few feelings. Why are the animations so blurry I hate this 480p? Why is the main character so annoying and whiny? Why are there so many lewd moments? This series is about a typical boy saves world story. That's the plot - he must pilot a mecha to kill aliens (Angels) in order to prevent the world from blowing up. That's basically it - right? That's what I thought for the first half of the series, watching robots fight monsters when I slowly began to realize that there was much, much more to the face value of the show. What transformers looks from afar is what the creator wants the people to think - but then you start to feel annoyed when things happen without reason. You start realizing that the show incorporates religious symbols into the anime, the bringing of Adam and Lilith, and interesting take on Christianity. Why do they incorporate religion? Simple - because it makes things controversial. The angels are invading the Earth, wanting to claim it back. Funny how they call them angels. The organization trying to protect eh Earth is called Nerv, which is German for Nerves or something along those lines. The slogan of Nerv is, "God's in his heaven; all's right with the world." This quote was taken out of a poem by a famous poet. This line can be interpreted in two ways - one being that there is no need for God in this world whether he exists or not, he can stay up there in heaven minding his own business while we mind ours, there is no intervention from God (Pessimist/Realist). The other interpretation is that God has made this world worthwhile to live in, as he looks down upon his creations (Optimistic). This slogan itself is pretty ironic since Earth is trying to repel the religious symbols they've named as angels, perhaps the evolution of the Earth has a lot to do with the disappearance of religion.

NGE has always been seen as a psychological anime, one which paved the way for dark and thoughtful storylines - whether these themes were overanalyzed or not. Sexual repression, anxiety, and having to live up to expectations and stress is constant throughout the second half of the series.

Lesson: It's hard to summarize an anime series, and I feel as if I am trying to sell you something to watch for free which you could just download. But it's not like that. I want you to experience what I have experienced and enjoyed while watching this series. It leaves you puzzled, and wanting more from something. You watch this series, and realize that they gave characters their own life, personalities, feelings in 26 episodes. You realize that the words they say and actions they do having meanings, subtle or not behind them. You don't necessarily learn anything from this, as much TV episodes do not teach you things unless they are a documentary, but you feel a mixture of feelings, perhaps one that calls out, maybe I will never watch a television series this deep ever again. Something along those lines.

If you've never watched anime, you probably won't like this series, but look at it this way. You might just look back a few years from now, and say I remember when I first started watching anime and this guy name Gary told me to on his blog. It changed everything. Now when you ask me, what TV shows are you watching, I can always reply I am in the middle of an anime series and boy, has it really opened up my close-minded eyes from Family Guy, American Dad, Mad Men, Suits and so forth. It opened so many doors for me - and all I had to do was spend nine hours of my time in front of a monitor.


This is a show about the near future where humans have progressed into inter-planetary space travel, personal space ships and space bounty hunters. A strange clash of west meets future. The main characters, all show their own different sides of human traits - loneliness, recklessness, reason, and youth. This show is about four people and a dog which are bounty hunters who travel and capture criminals for money. The protagonist - Spike, was once part of a crime syndicate, and one of most skilled marksmen to become a bounty hunter. He is the embodiment of existentialism. You may have seen me post pictures on instagram with him on them, with a little quote. He does not understand what purpose his life is supposed to serve, after the woman he was supposed to be with left him. He is reckless, and travels space wondering if life is even real. His impulsive. rash decisions throughout the series are left with a bittersweet taste in the viewer's minds. He puts himself in situations because he wants to find out if life is real. What does that even mean anyways, if life is real? Dreams seem real to us while we are dreaming, so what constitutes reality? Reality is what our brains make it out to be, subjective information which varies to everyone. Is there a true reality, which is the same to everyone? This series asks the question, are you living in the real world?

To take it one step further, would you care if you lived in a dream opposed to reality? Applying this to rational common sense, why do we care about what people think about us, we should be who we are intended to, and live as if we are trying to prove we are living in the real world.

Lesson: You might end up in the shower over thinking about existence, and whether or not you are alive. Do most people even contemplate these thoughts or am I just seeking some weird answer to a dumb question which people don't normally ask? You will ask yourself, is life real? Are my dreams real? Do my actions have any consequences on my surroundings? Do I really have to do my hair today? Do I really care if I tell people my hobbies are knitting? Should I care? Do I care what people REALLY think about me? Why should I?

Whatever happens, happens.
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