Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

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Arclight_Dynamo
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Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Arclight_Dynamo » 23 Jul 2015, 15:00

Or: "A Forum-Goer's Uneasy Relationship with Pop-Culture"

I've tried bringing this up a few times in LRL chat (usually during Beej's or Ian's streams -- surprise, surprise) but, despite a bunch of well-meaning people trying to help, I never really got anywhere with it. I suspect that Twitch chat just doesn't work for this sort of thing. It was suggested that I post a topic in the forum instead, which struck me as a good idea, so here we are.

(Honestly, I feel I might be clogging up the chat when I do that, and coming across as some sort of awful, hipstery troll who craps on everyone else's fun. I, uh, really don't want to do that, or be that guy. *Ahem*)

Right. Fair warning: this is long.

I have never watched any anime of any kind; I would like to try, since I feel like I'm missing out. That isn't as easy as it seems, especially to people who have been deep into anime since they were kids. I know that might sound ridiculous; how hard is it to watch stuff? Well, I'm going to go into that a bit, to try to explain my difficulty.

***

Trying to enter a fandom like this is intimidating

Yes, intimidating. Overwhelming. I have no idea where to begin. No clue at all. I'm entirely at sea. There's just so much stuff -- both the shows/films themselves and the entire fandom culture that has grown around them -- that I'm lost. There's no obvious entry point; it's a complex, roiling, hermetically-sealed bubble, and I don't want to just fling myself into it. I'll get chewed up and spat out, without ever finding my place in it.

Look at it this way: pretend you managed to make it to 28 years old without ever having played a video game. But you want to try, since you've heard good things, and people seem to be having fun. So, on the recommendation of a friend, you download this thing called "Steam." And now you're looking at ten million different games. With no guidance. What do you do? Where do you start?

Okay, fine, so that's no good... maybe you go on the internet and start looking up reviews and things. But now you have people going on about PC-port graphics degradation, console wars, and what you think are jokes about something or other called "HL3."

None of it makes sense. None of it is helpful. No one is explaining. There's no way in. All you want is a game to play and enjoy, dang it!

The anime fandom is, intentionally and unintentionally, bad about gate-keeping

My experience is mostly with the unintentional kind of gate-keeping (and everyone in the LRR community I've spoken to about this stuff has been genuinely friendly and well-intentioned, I should point out)... but I have run into some of the intentional kind. I'm sure you have too, and you know why they can be... off-putting.

But I more want to talk about the unintentional gate-keeping. Mostly, I think, it comes from knowing more about anime, and being able to engage with it on a higher level, than the newbie. Genuine attempts to help and to guide the newbie are still bewildering, and end up reinforcing that the anime fandom is complex and inscrutable. Impenetrable.

For example, the most common answer to "Hey, I don't know anything about anime, but would like to get into it" is a slew of recommendations. With, at most, a description along the lines of "It's about robots who fall in love!" or "It's cyberpunk!" Which, though well-meant, is still overwhelming. See, that list of titles means something to people who watch anime. They know what they refer to. But to the newbie? It's meaningless. Those titles don't relate to anything. It's just a huge pile of stuff thrown at them, and they still don't know where to begin.

I mean... great. Now I have a list of, like, two dozen shows. Where do I begin? I'm no better off than I was before.

To return to the video game analogy, imagine that after being overwhelmed by Steam and confused by the internet, you go to an online community you're a member of to ask people where you should start. What you get is a list of about thirty video game titles like "Dark Souls," "The Binding of Isaac," "Myst," "The Stanley Parable," and "Zork." At most, the descriptions you get are "You die a lot" or "It's about going into books and things." And you get the warning that "Video Games aren't a genre; they're a medium. What you want to play is going to depend on what you like."

That's not helpful. And that's not really the way to introduce a complete newbie to video games. That newbie does not know enough to know what sort of games they like. This is still overwhelming to them. The better way to introduce someone to games is to say "Here, look at this. This is a Mario game" or "Here, look at this. This is Minecraft" or even "Here, look at this. It's Bejewelled for iOS."

"Pick something that catches your eye and watch it!" isn't super useful

This kind of goes back to the "overwhelming" and "ignorant" things. There's so much stuff, and I know so little about it, that none of it has ever caught my eye. All of it looks the same to me. It's a big, undifferentiated mass of animation. Consequently, none of it has ever caught me, and I have no point of entry.

That's what I'm asking for help with, really. Help me get something to grab me; help me find that entry point. Because, up until now, I haven't had one. It's just been piles of recommendations that overwhelm. The talk has been over my head.

Talk to me like a complete idiot. Because when it comes to anime, I am one.

***

Okay. So those are my issues. I've been told that, in order for anyone to be able to help me, I need to lay out what I do and don't like. So I'll do that here.

Things I do not like

While it's true that I've never watched anime, I have seen anime. It's been on a screen in front of my eyes, but I never engaged with it on a level that I would call "watching." But I have seen some:

- When I was little, I caught an episode of Samurai Pizza Cats every now and then. It was cute, I guess? Never really made an impression. Hell, Rugrats probably made more of an impression. And it didn't make much of one.

- I think I saw part of an episode of Sailor Moon one time when it was new on YTV? I thought it was going to be about sailors and ships. I was disappointed.

- When I was in elementary school, Pokemon hit. My friends were really into it. I asked them to explain the worldbuilding: what's the deal with the Pokemon? Are they monsters? Is this fantasy? Is this science fiction? Is it set in Japan or some fantasy world? Their answers were... not terribly enlightening. So I never played the games, and watched maybe one or two episodes of the show. And that was that as far as Pokemon was concerned.

- One of my friends turned into a bit of an anime nerd and developed an interest in Japan. He tried to get me to watch anime a couple of times. Once was a show about big robots. Another was something about a female police officer... who got her clothes shot off? Or something? Neither interested me.

- My sister used to watch Digimon before school, so that was on in the background. Didn't see the appeal; I felt it was targeted for younger kids than me.

And that is the sum total of all the anime I have seen in my life.

The closest I've come to watching anime is Steven Universe. I know it isn't anime, but I understand there's heavy influence. I watched the first six episodes, and was left totally cold by them. Nothing interesting there, for me. I had heard there were deep themes and things... none were in evidence. There was just silly stuff and magical fighting, which I'd tolerate for deep themes, if there were any... but which I generally dislike on their own. (I have promised to watch the next six episodes, though, so that judgment isn't final, I guess)

I also watched the first episode of MLP when that was a new thing. I was curious what the big deal was; people seemed to like it. Well... I didn't. Again, nothing interesting to me at all.

I've not watched any of the other "big" western animated series. Kora, Avatar, Adventure Time... none of those interest me.

Now, as to anime specifically, as I understand it, there are a lot of shows and films with gross stuff in them (as is the case with any medium). Homophobia, sexism, racism, etc. I don't want to watch that. So things like "harem" anime are out entirely.

I'm not interested in anything set in a school. Or anything with giant punchy robots in it (I didn't like Pacific Rim, and frankly left the theatre really annoyed with it). Or anything that's about supernatural/super-powered people beating each other up. Just... no interest in those things whatsoever.

I'm also not terribly interested in magic or fantasy, though I won't rule it out entirely. Some things are interesting (magical realism or allegorical elements, for example) and other things are not (high medieval fantasy or straight-up sorcery, for example). Religious or spiritual themes are likewise not terribly interesting to me.

Superheroes and similar stuff are also not really my cup of tea. I can like them, but that's generally in spite of the superheroics rather than because of them. I liked the Iron Man movies, for example... but not The Avengers. (You see why I worry I'm coming across like a hipster, eh?)

I'd kind of like to avoid the more... excessively anime-ish stuff, too, if you catch my meaning. For example, if a character in a show or film does this or this or this, I'm probably not interested.

Things I like

Well, generally, I like things with good plots, good characters, and good arcs. I'll put up with anything for a good story, well-told. Even the stuff up there that I said I don't like. (Though... let's try to avoid those things, if we can, please. Remember: newbie, here.)

As to genre, in no particular order, I frequently enjoy science fiction, drama, lit-fic, historical fiction, alternate history, and magical realism. Though I'm very open to other genres.

I don't like things where the only way to enjoy them is to "turn off your brain." I like things that are thought-provoking. I like deep themes and big ideas. I don't like things that are weird and zany for the sake of it; I'm perfectly happy with surrealism if there's a point to it.

If I'm going to watch animation, I'm going to watch something like these:

When the Day Breaks
Bydlo
From the Big Bang to Tuesday Morning
Wild Life
Sleeping Betty

These are the sorts of films I like:

The Third Man
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Fog of War
Dr. Strangelove
Cloud Atlas

(And, yes, Guardians of the Galaxy is in there, despite me saying I don't much care for superheroes. I tend to think of it more as space opera than superheroes... and it does show how contrary and complicated I can be... there's a reason this is difficult.)

I don't much watch television these days, but I've enjoyed these shows:

Breaking Bad
Star Trek (Especially DS9)
Battlestar Galactica (Reboot)
Due South
New Doctor Who (Pre-Moffat)

So... those are my problems. Those are my dislikes. Those are my likes. Can anyone help me find an entry point into anime?

(I'm going to hit "Submit" now and hope I don't come across as too much of a jerk...)
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby betsytheripper » 23 Jul 2015, 15:43

This is a lot to take in, but I feel like I may be able to suggest 1 or 2 things to possibly start with.

First one: Cowboy Bebop. 26 half-hour episodes, it's "local" space bounty hunters in the not-too-distant future. There's lighter parts, but it has much deeper, more meaningful themes to it. This was one of my first serious series as a young teenager, but it resonates with different parts of me today. Jazz and blues music is a strong theme.

Second one: Samurai Champloo. It's actually the same creator as Cowboy Bebop, but it's set in an alternate Edo-era Japan. Again, some lighter parts, but generally a serious show, also 26 eps, with deeper themes. This one has a hip-hop musical overtone to it.

I would also say be wary of shows in the first few episodes, because I know there are series that try to "rope you in" in the beginning with silly, kind of gag stuff, but don't get deep into the more meaningful plot until later in the run.

A tentative third recommendation would be RahXephon, but it's kind of heavy on fantastical sci-fi elements. It seems like it has giant robots but they're not actually robots, which is how it was pitched to me because I don't usually like giant robots either. It's also 26 episodes, and I'd like to talk more about the themes of the show but it would be super spoiler-y. It is definitely more serious than your average anime, though.

I hope that helps some, and maybe leads you to a jumping off point.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Tycherin » 23 Jul 2015, 20:17

There are more than enough people out there to recommend "first animes," so I'll stay out of that part. Instead, I want to address your overall points.

Trying to enter a fandom like this is intimidating
Agreed. For my part, I didn't think of it as entering a fandom at all (and I don't really consider myself part of the fandom even now, after having seen dozens of different shows). Personally, I'd actually recommend against diving into the fandom-y elements at first, because it's so common to run into people who live and breathe this stuff and have no problem spouting off about why Evangelion isn't all that great or whatever. YMMV, though - some people find the community really exciting.

The anime fandom is, intentionally and unintentionally, bad about gate-keeping
Agreed, though I doubt this is really an anime thing. It has more to do with how many people treat anime as this "other thing" that only certain people like, which produces a natural distancing effect. If I can offer some totally unhelpful and kinda preachy advice: don't let it bother you. (For the record, I'm also a big fan of Homestuck, and if you think anime fans have a bad reputation on the internet...)

"Pick something that catches your eye and watch it!" isn't super useful
Here's the thing: "anime" isn't a thing - or more specifically, it isn't a genre. "Anime" refers to a format (a manga-based animation style, typically Japanese cultural references, a 20-25 minute episode length, etc.) more than actual content. It comes in all different genres, styles, and flavors. It's always struck me as ridiculous to consider "anime" as a single category, in the same way that describing both Flappy Bird and Skyrim as "games" is missing the point entirely.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Arclight_Dynamo » 23 Jul 2015, 20:54

First of all, thank you both for replying, and for reading (at least) some of a very long post.

betsytheripper:

I've heard Cowboy Bebop suggested before, but I've shied away from it for some reason. Probably just intimidated by the whole endeavour. But after doing some reading, the series itself looks like it might be something I could enjoy.

The same goes for Samurai Champloo. It's a bit further outside my wheelhouse, but close enough to give it a chance.

I'm going to skip RahXephon, though. Seeming like there are giant robots counts as having giant robots, in my book. Not for me.

I'll let you know how I got along with those two series after I give them a go.

Tycherin:

I really don't mean that I want to engage with the community. What I meant by "fandom" was watching, enjoying, and maybe discussing these things. That's all. But, fandom or not, I'm intimidated. I'm lost. I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm overwhelmed. To the point that I've just... avoided trying things. I need my hand held a bit, frankly.

As to gatekeeping, I really think it's the knowledge differential. It's been made into its own "thing" because, well, all the anime people are over there doing their incomprehensible thing. Even if you want to participate, you're going to be too ignorant to just jump in. And the well-meaning people who try to help you out have trouble reaching out to someone with that low level of knowledge.

And, well, that thing about "anime not being a genre"? I keep hearing that. Again and again. And I find it really unhelpful. Because, yeah, I know that already... but what can I do with that information? I don't know enough to use other terminology, and I don't know enough to try to refine what I'm looking for.

It's why I mentioned the video game analogy up top: if I have never played a game and know nothing about them but want to try, telling me that "games aren't a genre" isn't helpful. I don't know enough to be able to say, for example, that I'm looking for a single-player third person action RPG set in the far future with cyberpunk elements. Same thing with anime; I know it's "not a thing," but that's the only terminology I have, and I don't know exactly what I'm looking for.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby korvys » 23 Jul 2015, 22:11

Arclight_Dynamo wrote:And, well, that thing about "anime not being a genre"? I keep hearing that. Again and again. And I find it really unhelpful. Because, yeah, I know that already... but what can I do with that information? I don't know enough to use other terminology, and I don't know enough to try to refine what I'm looking for.

It's why I mentioned the video game analogy up top: if I have never played a game and know nothing about them but want to try, telling me that "games aren't a genre" isn't helpful. I don't know enough to be able to say, for example, that I'm looking for a single-player third person action RPG set in the far future with cyberpunk elements. Same thing with anime; I know it's "not a thing," but that's the only terminology I have, and I don't know exactly what I'm looking for.

Try flipping it. If someone asked you "I've never played video games, what should I play?" how would you answer? And then, if you suggested something, what do you do if they say "Yeah, I got a lot of suggestions, but how do I choose which one?" How would you prefer they have asked that question?

Basically, you're asking people to help. How would you help someone in the same situation, but with a medium you are familiar with? If they asked about movies, or music, or video games, or whatever.

As far as I see it, you've got a few things you could do.
1. Take the suggestions you've been given, pick one at random, and start watching. Do that a bunch of times and see if anything clicks. There's lots out there. Drop them as soon as you're bored. You could always come back.
2. Research the various genres within the medium, what makes them distinct, their history, etc, and see if anything draws you to something specific.
3. Ask a specific person you trust, who knows you, and you think would be capable of guessing your reaction to a given piece of media, to recommend something. If such a person exists.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby phlip » 23 Jul 2015, 22:57

I'm not super familiar with the animes, I'll mostly be following this thread for suggestions rather than giving my own...

But when you mentioned the not wanting to "turn off your brain" thing, the first that came to mind was Death Note... which is one that I really enjoyed and seems like it fits your criteria. I guess it's technically set in a school, at least at first, but that quickly disappears into the main plot of two very clever characters, a detective and a criminal, trying to outsmart each other.

One thing that I think would be useful for people making suggestions is to give an indication of how long into a show it hits its "stride"... like, how much you should watch before deciding it's not a show for you. Since often the early episodes of a new show, the show's often still finding its feet and doing worldbuilding exposition... and it can be worth powering through that even if it's not to your taste. But there comes a point where you're in the real meat of the show and if you're still not enjoying it, it's probably worth throwing in the towel and moving on. Without giving spoilers, just a number of episodes to expect to watch before making a decision. For some shows that might only be a couple episodes, for something like Star Trek TNG, it could be a couple seasons.

And so, on that note, I'd say that if you do check out Death Note, you'd probably want to watch 3-4 episodes in. Maybe 5. It's been a while since I've watched it, and I'm mostly using the summaries on Wikipedia to jog my memory, but if I remember rightly it's around there somewhere that it really starts settling in to the main thrust of the story.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby JustHarms » 24 Jul 2015, 06:18

Totally second Cowboy Bebop. Space Opera/Noir done really well. It has been and remains my favorite.

Studio Ghibli movies are also decent intros because they're gorgeous. I'd recommend Princess Mononoke or Spiritied Away, but it's hard to go wrong with a Miyazaki film.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Antitonic » 24 Jul 2015, 08:20

I'm not sure how helpful this was when I suggested it in the chat, but I'll repost it here for everyone to refer to: The SomethingAwful ADTRW Wiki.

It's curated by anime fans, but from what I've seen is aimed at a more general audience. You can filter down by genre, and most of the shows will have a synopsis overview and personal opinions. Some will even have a "If you liked this, you may like this" section.

There's even a manga section if you prefer, but it's not as established.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Arclight_Dynamo » 24 Jul 2015, 09:27

korvys:

That's an interesting way to look at it, actually...

I suppose what I'd do, were I recommending something, would be to ask for likes and dislikes, recommend a title, and then explain why I made the recommendation.

That's the important part, and I find it's often missing when anime titles are recommended. Explaining why the recommendation is being made relates the title to the person asking for the recommendation, and it provides the context that the newbie is missing. It helps to make up for the fact that the newbie has no knowledge or terminology, begins to teach them enough to eventually get along by themselves, and, crucially, provides a friendly entrance rather than a daunting pile of confusing stuff.

I also quite like phlip's suggestion about how long it takes a show to hit its stride; that strikes me as very useful.

As to your three possible courses, korvys, I'm basically stuck doing number 1. Number 3 is right out; I don't know anyone who watches anime. Number 2 is out as well; I'm too ignorant to know where to begin. So, number 1 it is.

phlip:

Looking at the Wiki description, Death Note doesn't seem to hook me, I'm afraid.

Antitonic:

That Wiki was linked during Ian's stream (heck, you might have been the one to link it). I took a look at it, and it seemed like it might be useful. Unfortunately, taking a closer look... it's still kind of incomprehensible to me. Remember: the newbie is an idiot; speak to them accordingly.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Tapir12 » 24 Jul 2015, 09:33

I can totally understand how getting started in anime would be overwhelming. There's a lot out there and there are lot of elements common in anime than are not found in most other animation, such as the silly faces you mentioned. I'd like to offer a few suggestions that might be a little less common and I'll try to elaborate a little on each.

Cowboy Bebop - The story of a rag-tag group of space bounty hunters trying to catch intergalactic crooks and run away from their pasts. As mentioned, this is a series that is often recommended for beginners for a couple reasons. 1) It's actually good, with episodes ranging from drama to action to comedy so it's a little of everything. 2) It's of a much more "Western" style than a lot of other anime. The set-up of a bunch of dirt-poor bounty hunters trying to catch their next meal ticket is something that seems familiar. 3) It uses music exceptionally well and has one of the best soundtracks out there, featuring a lot of jazz-inspired tunes but not that exclusively. Also, depending on your comfort with reading subtitles, I have heard that this series has one of the better dubs, though I haven't heard it myself. [Trailer] (26 episodes)

Seirei no Moribito (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit) - Balsa the spear-wielder agrees to protect the life of a young prince who has been possessed by a mysterious spirit and has been sentenced to death by his father. This series has some fantasy elements, but it's more about spirits and folklore. There are no wizards shooting magic beams or anything. There are some good action scenes, but also a lot of politics and moral debate. It's mostly a historical-style drama set in a world where folklore is real. I especially enjoyed this one because there is no strictly good and evil party, only factions who are trying to do what they believe is right. [Trailer] (26 episodes)

Mushishi - This is the story of Ginko who travels the land helping people who are troubled by the Mushi, tiny living creatures/spirits that exist everywhere. Like Seirei above, this is more a story of folklore than magic. One type of mushi gives people horns, causing them to become social outcasts. Another causes a man to search endlessly for a reverse rainbow. Ginko helps them to understand what's happening and free them of their illness. Each episode is it's own story and they are small, quiet tales with just a few characters. It's a great example of the use of animation to tell a story. [Trailer] (2 seasons of 26 episodes each)

Haibane Renmei - A girl is born from a cocoon into a community of young people with wings called Haibane. She soon grows her own wings and must find a new life in the village where the Haibane live. The first half of the series is about her discovering her new home and learning about her fellow Haibane and is fairly light. The second half turns into a darker story about forgiveness. There are a lot of questions and not a lot of answers, but this is entirely intentional. It doesn't matter what the Haibane are, only who they are. [Trailer] (13 episodes)

Kino's Journey
- Kino travels the world on her talking motorcycle, spending no more than 3 days in each country she visits. The countries portrayed are not realistic but simplistic and symbolic of different social ideas and challenges. For example, in the first episode she visits a country that has invented a way for everyone to read each others minds. It was such a disaster that everyone now lives in isolation and the tool that was to bring them together has only pushed them away. For the most part, each episode is it's own story. The animation style is simple to reflect the abstract nature of the stories. [Opening theme] (13 episodes)

Let me know if any of these catch your eye or if you have any questions. I have a few other ideas as well, but only if I'm on the right track.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Twinklefeet » 24 Jul 2015, 16:09

Most people here have mentioned several series that are frequently recommended as starting off points, but if you're looking for slightly less commitment, or just want to try out a few more things there are several decent movies out there you could investigate. While none of them are similar to the movies/tv shows you've mentioned you enjoyed, there is a reasoning behind listing them anyway. I was heavily involved in running my university's anime society for several years. You could guarantee that every year you would get a whole bunch of new faces who didn't know much, or indeed anything, about anime and wanted to know more. These are the sorts of things we would show to try and keep them coming to the society. When people would want to try and get over the initial hurdle, or when they thought that all there was was giant robots, muscular fightan, stupid faces and bouncing boobs these are the movies that would be consistently well-received and popular amongst our members.

Most movies by Studio Ghibli
Most people have at least heard of Ghibli and several of their movies frequently appear high in lists of "Best animated movies ever made". They are all good stories well told, but obviously linking to a big list of movies isn't terribly helpful in addressing your problems, so I'll recommend a few:

Spirited Away, The story of Chihiro, a young girl, who finds herself trapped in a magical world and forced to work in a bathhouse for spirits. It won an Oscar.

Grave of the Fireflies, A war drama following a young pair of siblings as they try to survive the end of the Second World War. A very heavy, bleak and unrelenting movie, so not for every occasion. Roger Ebert labelled it as a powerful emotional experience and Terry Gilliam has also rated it highly. You may recognise the name from a recent Stolen Jokes.

My Neighbour Totoro, generally considered the studio and director, Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece. It follows the story of two young girls as they move into a new house somewhere in rural postwar Japan and their interaction with the various spirits in the woods around their new home. It's not so much focused on action or plot, but rather the warmth and imagination that the characters' interactions bring.

Satoshi Kon's Films
Satoshi Kon was a director and animator that worked on quite a few things, but as a director he made four movies and a TV series (Paranoia Agent, which I won't talk about). He's a personal favourite of mine and you tend to see his films pop up on those same lists of "Greatest Animated Movies". He took influence from the likes of Philip K. Dick and Terry Gilliam, so his stuff can seem a little out-there. Sadly, he died from cancer a few years ago. He was only 46. His most accessible film is probably Tokyo Godfathers. It's about three homeless people who find an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve and how they try to reunite the baby with its parents. It's a simple and probably predictable story, but it's told in a touching manner and has some great characters. I don't think I've met anyone who hasn't enjoyed it.

My personal favourite film of his, though, is Perfect Blue. The film follows the lead singer of a J-Pop band as she decides to leave the group and pursue an acting career. It's a psychological thriller that shows the lead attempting to deal with being stalked whilst the lines between fantasy and reality start to blur. Here is a trailer. It's a pretty brutal film and certainly not for everyone, but I love it.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Of much lighter fare than Satoshi Kon's work, this movie follows a girl who is living a largely uneventful school life who suddenly finds one day that she has the ability to travel backwards in time. She uses this power almost unquestioningly to frivolously solve minor problems, mostly involving pudding. It was critically praised and won quite a few awards. It's a nice little story with some sci-fi silliness. It knows not to take itself too seriously and it works to great effect. I guess in some ways it does remind me a little of Doctor Who. The director also did two other films that are pretty highly regarded, Summer Wars and Wolf Children, but this one is my favourite.

Fun fact: The book this movie is a loose sequel to was written by the same person who wrote Paprika. An adaptation of Paprika was Satoshi Kon's fourth film.

Read or Die
Not actually a movie, but a 3-episode OVA/Miniseries. It's probably more like what most people think of when they hear "anime". It's about Yomiko Readman, codenamed "The Paper", a bibliophile agent of the British Library special operations division who has the power to manipulate paper to her will. She must work to solve the mystery of a group of villains with superpowers who have been coordinating a series of attacks around the world, including blowing up the White House. It is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds, but it's good fun. It's got some good action, memorable moments and can be especially enjoyable with watched with a few friends. Unfortunately the characters can fall a little flat, Yomiko's book obsession and generally unheeding nature can irritate some people. And one of the characters falls victim to the "Pendulous Anime Titties", which can certainly be very off-putting, even though it is relatively light. Mostly, though, it just revels in being a very silly action show. The soundtrack's not bad either. Have a trailer.

Well, there you go. There's a few things that might be worth checking out. Like I mentioned at the start these are much more general ideas than something carefully refined to your tastes, but they've had proven to be very popular with newcomers to anime, especially people who want to avoid more niche areas of it.

Another piece of advice I'd give is that if you find something you enjoy, look it up. Check out its writer, director, whatever. It could point you towards something else you might enjoy. Obviously Wikipedia can be good for this, but also animenewsnetwork.com has an expansive encyclopaedia of anime and manga; popular shows will have a full cast and crew listing along with user ratings, genres, themes and such.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Elomin Sha » 24 Jul 2015, 16:39

Anime I started on

New Dominion Tank Police - when I watched it on the Sci-Fi channel in 97/98 it was the latter 3 of the 6 episodes put together as a small film. Crated by Shirow Masamune, creator of Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell. New Dominion revolves around Newport Police being given tanks to combat the high level of crime in the city. Doesn't help that the police cause more havoc than the criminals. Short sci-fi/comedy series, recommend to be followed by Patlabor.
This has a special importance to me because if I trace my life back this anime is what would lead me to LRR.

Teknoman / Uchu No Kishi Tekkaman Blade - watched this on FOX kids in the English dub, it is edited by Saban, and has some bad dialogue in the early episodes but got better. The original is 3-6 episodes longer. Currently going back through it but finding it a bit of a chore I prefer the Dub.
It's a better version of Detonator Orgun.
Aliens attack Earth, super human in a power armour is the only one that can fight them.

Bubblegum Crisis - I originally watch the poor sequel Bubblegum Crash first. It was kind of important when it came out but due to conflicts between Artmic and Youmex the 13 episode run was cut to 8. Boasts the record of most vocal songs in relation for aired episodes.
After the Second Kanto quake, Tokyo is left in ruin and the Genom corporation and its Boomer androids bring it back to prominence but leaving a disparity of wealth and justice to its people. With illegal combat boomers appearing on the streets a 4 woman mercenary team in advanced combat armour (hard suits) called the Knight Sabers take the battle where the Police can't.
A good follow up would be Guyver: Bio Boosted Armour.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Ennui On Me » 24 Jul 2015, 18:27

Check out Kaiba, a vaguely dystopian story centered around a man who wakes up with amnesia in a strange, dadaist nightmare. It's weird, but somewhat mellow, really. If you're willing to look past the school aspect, the director's other series, The Tatami Galaxy and Ping Pong, are also sublime.

The Ghost in the Shell franchise, primarily the first film and the Stand Alone Complex television series, is a masterpiece. A sci-fi noir thriller built around the same basic philosophical question sci-fi writers have been milking for decades-- what is the line between man and machine? For all the cliche of its concept, however, it is a visually stunning world, full of sleek action and some rather brilliantly written characters, all in this distinct universe of progressive technology and police drama.

Another great franchise is Lupin III, about the world's greatest thief. Maybe not as heavy as the others I mentioned, it is still one of the most endearing, charming franchises out there. Start with the film Castle of Cagliostro, probably the most famous part of the series, due to direction from Hayao Miyazaki, aka the most famous anime director of all time.

Everything else in this thread is great, too.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Elomin Sha » 25 Jul 2015, 02:36

This is a Korean animation but I'd highly recommend it: Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox.
A magical kitsune, Yobi, lives with aliens that have crashed on Earth. She tries to help them go home but their youngest runs away and is found by a human child. Yobi goes to rescue her and discovers life as a human.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Arclight_Dynamo » 27 Jul 2015, 15:07

Right. I've finally had a chance to take a look at all these things, and I have a few thoughts.

Tapir12:

Cowboy Bebop - You're basically saying what everyone else is. Thanks for the trailer, though. I'm pretty well decided I'm going to give this one a go. Even though the trailer is a little off-putting given how frenetic, silly, and action-y it looks.

Seirei no Moribito (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit) - Not terribly interested, I'm afraid. Mystical/folklore stuff isn't my thing, nor is medieval/ancient Japan. For me to get into that stuff, it has to absolutely blow me away. So this one isn't for me.

Mushishi - Again... mysticism and folklore aren't my thing.

Haibane Renmei - Just doesn't hook me. I'm also not a huge fan of religious/spiritual themes, which the trailer kind of hints at in this one.

Kino's Journey - Again... not really me.

Twinklefeet:

Studio Ghibli - From what I've seen, the film from them that interests me the most is The Wind Rises. Perhaps I'll try others later, though the magic/mysticism/whatever in the other films is kind of not my thing. I'd want to stick to the more grounded films to begin with and then, if I like what I see, give the more fanciful ones a try.

Perfect Blue - Seems interesting. Honestly, from your description, it sounded, well, not for me. But looking at the trailer, it seems right up my alley - more than most things I've seen, in fact. Definitely going to give this one a go.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - I'm not really looking for silly romps. I mean... you compare it to Doctor Who. Thing is, the Who episodes that I like are the serious ones, not the "fun" ones. I'm a big grump.

Read or Die - Yes, you're right that this is what I think of when I think "anime." Which is pretty much what I was hoping to avoid. Not for me.

Elomin Sha:

New Dominion Tank Police - Took a look at it, also not for me. Too heavy on the silly and action, from what I saw.

Teknoman / Uchu No Kishi Tekkaman Blade - Yeah, no. Robots and fighting and things are what I want to stay away from.

Bubblegum Crisis - Maybe? I have to admit, a group of all-female, power-armour-wearing mercenaries fighting evil robots sounds exactly wrong. But I took a look, and it seems... pretty good? I'll give it a second, longer look, for sure. Surprised me on this one.

Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox - Uh... not really. It's cute and lighthearted and kind of mystical... and not my thing.

Ennui On Me:

Kaiba - I took a glance at it, and it wasn't doing it for me. I also, kind of maybe, really don't like the animation style.

Ghost in the Shell - Maybe. I've heard good things before, and it seems fine from the trailer. But... well... cyberpunk has kind of been done to death, you know? I get how this would have been mindblowing at the time, but it's getting to be a bit old hat by this point. Still, I'll probably give it a shot - if it's done well, cyberpunk can still be interesting. It's just that the genre as a whole (and not just in anime) has kind of been caught up to by reality.

Lupin III - Er... no. It seems silly and madcap. I guess I'm just not looking for comedy.

What I'm Doing

Well, first, thank you to everyone for your suggestions. Really - even if I didn't care for them, I really do appreciate that you took the time to try to help me out. At the very least, this has helped me narrow down what I'm looking for a bit more in my mind, so that's a huge help.

Second, believe me, I am more than aware that I'm an enormous pain in the ass when it comes to this kind of thing. No idea why. Not a terribly pleasant side of myself, but there you have it. Thank you for putting up with my incredibly specific tastes.

Third, I think I've got a solid starting point by now.

Things I'm going to try:

- The Wind Rises
- Cowboy Bebop
- Samurai Champloo
- Perfect Blue

Things I'll probably try:

- Other Ghibli films
- Ghost in the Shell
- Bubblegum Crisis

After I've given some of these a shot, I'll check back in here.

Again, genuinely, thank you all!
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Elomin Sha » 27 Jul 2015, 15:46

Quick thing on Cowboy Bebop, it's Firefly the anime.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Arclight_Dynamo » 27 Jul 2015, 15:50

Yeah, I got that - sci-fi western. Which I'm totally down with.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby korvys » 27 Jul 2015, 16:53

I have 2 recommendations, but not actually having watched a lot of anime, I have no idea if they're any good:

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Cyberpunk cops, conspiracy theories.

Serial Experiments: Lain
Really weird cyberpunk/transhumanism thing. Transhumanism, machine consciousness, AI, drugs, religion (I think?). It's been a long time since I watched it, actually. All I can remember is that it was a complete mindfuck. Literally the only anime I own on DVD.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Danielle Pepin » 28 Jul 2015, 10:55

Anything by Hayao Miyazaki and actually anything by Studio Ghibli.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Elomin Sha » 28 Jul 2015, 11:26

Danielle Pepin wrote:Anything by Hayao Miyazaki and actually anything by Studio Ghibli.

Except Tales from Earthsea. I rewatched that, urgh it was bad. I originally liked it.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Beej » 07 Aug 2015, 12:14

Arclight, I recommend you go looking for Legend of Galactic Heroes. It's about two spacefaring empires fighting a never-ending "naval" war in space.

It's got a thousand characters and is jam-packed with politics.

Ian recommends this to nearly everyone he meets. And *everyone* in Something Awful's ADTRW recommends it as a must-watch, which is saying something, given the "diversity" of that community's tastes.

http://myanimelist.net/anime/820/Ginga_Eiyuu_Densetsu

The eps are up on Youtube too.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Beej » 07 Aug 2015, 17:52

Other things I would recommend (and Heather helped):
- Grave of the Fireflies
http://www.adtrwiki.com/index.php?title ... _Fireflies

- Master Keaton
http://myanimelist.net/anime/1483/Master_Keaton

- Voice of a Distant Star (Hoshi no Koe) (it's 25 minutes long, so watch it anyway)
http://myanimelist.net/anime/256/Hoshi_no_Koe

- Ping Pong the Animation
http://www.adtrwiki.com/index.php?title=Ping_Pong

- The Tatami Galaxy
http://www.adtrwiki.com/index.php?title ... ami_Galaxy

- Monster (I've not seen it, though I've heard it's amazing.)
http://www.adtrwiki.com/index.php?title=Monster

- Rose of Versailles (regarded as a classic of shoujo storytelling, so it might not hit the right beats)
http://www.adtrwiki.com/index.php?title ... Versailles

- Yuugo the Negotiator
http://myanimelist.net/anime/1246/Yugo_the_Negotiator

- Kindaichi Hajime (good, if you like murder mystery after murder mystery)
http://myanimelist.net/anime/2076/Kinda ... ikenbo_(TV)
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Arclight_Dynamo » 07 Aug 2015, 19:06

Oh, wow. Thank you Beej (and Heather) - that's fantastically kind of you. I'll definitely check those out... as soon as I'm able to connect to the internet faster than if I was on an 800 baud modem.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby LunarJade » 07 Aug 2015, 21:09

^_^ Beej came home talking about this thread. We spent quite a bit of time discussing anime because of it. Admittedly I don't know that many people who are completely new to anime anymore, and my own personal tastes are very different from your own so it made for an interesting discussion.

Someone mentioned Satoshi Kon's films. Granted I haven't seen all his work but his stuff is highly regarded by many and he did make one of my favourite's: Millennium Actress. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291350/

Boiled down its the story of a reporter who interviews an actress who is quite old now and it goes through the films she acted in and how she came to be an actress in the first place. What I love about it is the way its all shown, how it flows from one scene of a movie to the next all in a way that shows the reporter and his cameraman being pulled into her memories and her story.
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Re: Arclight_Dynamo's Anime Frustration

Postby Darkflame » 09 Aug 2015, 10:56

Watch Dennou Coil, its short, fun, creative and very accessible. Its a fairly "small" story (in both meanings), but I liked it a lot. VERY realistic near future too imho. Everyone has AR specs, but other then that its just present day setting.

Only 1 season and it all wraps up.
Not many people seem to have seen it sadly.
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Studio Ghibili is a "duh", but Grave of the Fireflies is pretty emotional you have to be in the right mood. Nausica is probably more universal.

oh, and Paprika is great! (film) Worth it for the music alone imho.
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