Joe's Favorite 20 Anime (Pt.1)

Hello everyone, this is Jonathan, owner of Infinite Rainy Day. After the success of my list of favorite anime, several other staff members have become interested in compiling similar lists. Joe started first, and now his list is ready to show. Here's the first part of his set, expect the second half in the near future!

20. Full Metal Panic! FUMOFFU!

We start off with the traditional Gene Siskel slot to the comedy that may not be one of the best shows, but it sure made me laugh a whole bunch. FUMOFFU! is pretty much one joke: Sousuke Sagura is a soldier who grew up in the world's deadliest battlegrounds, and his current assignment is acting as a bodyguard to Kaname Chidori, a typical high school student whose mind holds military secrets even she doesn't know about. When Sousuke enrolls to Kaname's high school as student, he takes his conflict resolution skills on the battlefield to the classroom. He blows up a locker that contains a love letter for breaching his security. He clears out the line in the cafeteria by drawing his gun and firing it in the air. He tries to keep a taxi from leaving by threatening to kill the driver. And everybody just goes with it except Kaname, who finds Sousuke draws more violence to her than if she never had a bodyguard to begin with. Like I said, it's mostly one joke, but it's one of the most consistently funny ones I've ever heard.

It's a spin-off of a mecha franchise based on a series of light novels, but seriously, don't worry if you know nothing about it. The first season by Gonzo is a bore and the follow-up by Kyoto Animation that goes back to its mecha roots is good, but unmemorable. Search me if I can recall anything about The Second Raid but lesbian twins incestuously touching vaginas (Really). FUMOFFU! can be completely understood without watching everything else, and it's bar none the most entertaining series out of all of it. It's an insanely madcap Looney Tunes style comedy told in mostly half-episodes in which Sousuke goes to extremes in navigating the modern, civilized world, and Kaname tsunderes something fierce in an attempt to tether everything back to reality, even as the world responds to insanity with insanity. It's hard to discuss comedy without spoiling the jokes, but just watch the second episode with the vignette "Hostility Passing-By." It starts with a vital class notebook left at home and keeps building and building to something amazing in the quest to get it back before class.

The quality of Kyoto Animation's series may be debatable (Lucky Star can go drown in a soup of its inane babble), but they do have a certain love of their characters that's unparalleled. They sure elevate the cast of Haruhi Suzumiya in ways that not even the creator managed. Here, it's the simple relationship between Sousuke and Kaname that anchors the entire experience. Sousuke is a man of strong reactions, but he gives an absolute devotion Kaname she wouldn't find in another person, and while Kaname is a mass of rage, she is the only one with enough power to reel in Sousuke when the rest of the world seems to completely indulge or escalate his behavior. They make a good couple and it's an example of how you can keep character dynamics and chemistry in the midst of a madcap comedy. So many series based around over-the-top gags forget what makes fiction in general work and just instantly goes for the extreme, loud, and crazy. It's nice to have something that remembers there are human beings wrapped in this mess and not simply buttons of character traits to push for instant comedy.

19. Emma - A Victorian Romance

I try not to make sweeping statements about the current state of entertainment because it's ridiculous, insular, and nostalgia tends to leave out piles and piles of mediocrity that were side-by-side with the highlights at one point. However, despite gems here and there like MY Love STORY!!, romance seems kind of dead, doesn't it? I haven't really loved one with a primary emphasis on it since Honey and Clover ended. It feels like it has to be attached to something larger in order for it to work. Emma - A Victorian Romance is mostly old fashioned in all the ways people tend to avoid. Forbidden love between the castes. Stiff, Victorian England social functions. An Indian prince hauling through London on one of the first automobiles with a couple of his wives strewn about the hood. Wait a minute... Anyway, if you're not completely adverse to the idea of a period romance, there is plenty of wonderful here.

The key to any romance lies is in being invested in the couple, and I certainly was. Emma is solemn, hard working woman who has never asked for a thing in her life and her most valued possession is the gift of sight from her retired governess employer Kelly Stownar who noticed she was severely nearsighted. She emits kindness and strength even if she doesn't say much. William Jones is stuck with representing the upper class, but he is ultimately relatable as a guy struggling to settle into his role as the heir to a fairly successful trade company that's on the brink of breaking through the glass ceiling of society.  The web of characters surrounding them are no less well written, providing layers of drama and even giving sympathy to the William's father who is staunchly against their relationship and goes to extremes to prevent it. They give him a backstory that is heart breaking and even allows sympathy to someone who's actively trying to shatter the relationship the audience wants to happen.

However, the star of the show is the fantastic recreation of Victorian London. Director Tsuneo Kobayashi infamously blew through the budget of 24 episodes in one cour, forcing the show to get kicked out of Studio Pierrot and landing into the much less famous Ajia-do Animation Works just so it could be finished. The first seasons shows all of the money thrown into it and it even caused the original manga's creator to completely geek out as I've never seen someone geek out before. The second season is obviously a downgrade, but the story is in high enough gear that it's forgivable, even as the resolution to the main conflict is a guy who might as well be named "Sir Deusex of Machina." Oh yeah, and Nozomi SPOILS THE ENDING WITH THE ILLUSTRATION ON ITS LAST DISC. Thanks. Still, it's quite lovely and amusing. I do hope you find the time to take it all in.

18. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Season 1 in broadcast order)

I wrestled with whether or not to put this on the list. I have to put TWO qualifiers next to the title, for Haruhi's sake! But when I came into this show completely blind with no idea what it was, where it came from, and where it was going, I was absolutely caught up in it. They knew exactly when to dole out vital information, when to put in, "What the hell?!" moments, and when to put all the cards on the table. After watching the series, I went through the source light novels and, well, they're okay. Kyon's inner thoughts get tedious even in the short stories, and it never comes across as anything special. I went back to the anime expecting to have my good feelings crushed by this, but the series actually got better.

Let's start with Episode 00, the magical girl parody that gives a faint outline of how they're going to play the series. I have probably said this a couple dozen times, but the craftsmanship of this episode is way above most anime I have ever seen. It creates the genuine feeling of a hastily-assembled student film with every issue imaginable present. Auto-focus/auto-iris problems, the 180-degree rule getting shattered like a collector's plate under a sledge hammer, and constant on-location audio quirks are all things replicated in almost painful accuracy, causing flashbacks to my student film days (One film I helped make is buried in Youtube hell. Don't try to find it). I remember one person who did a Birdemic parody talked about how they had an insanely more difficult time doing it wrong than doing it right. Now imagine taking all of that difficulty and applying it to animation. It is that kind of attention Kyoto Animation gave to this series, and it's that attention gives it a soul even the source material was lacking.

The story follows Kyon, the usual high school guy with the added benefit of actually acting LIKE a high school guy. He's a kid who responds to everything with a hefty layer of sarcasm as his shield, and the world holds no surprises for him until he's thrust into the whirling vortex of Haruhi Suzumiya, a crazed and eccentric high school girl who just happens to be a god with the potential to destroy the universe, unbeknownst to herself. She's observed by an alien, a time traveler, and an esper who wish to keep reality from caving in on itself, but Kyon was chosen by Haruhi to be a part of her madness, and that may make him the only person who can actually save the world as it is.

What I love is how it grows the outrageous from the actual pains of average high school life. It is wise about the attitudes and behavior of teenagers and makes it easier to accept the fantastic as a natural growth. I've heard people grumble about what a horrible person Haruhi is, and it's kind of the point. They left the weird girl alone and the only people who surround her are there just to observe and do nothing to prevent her bad behavior for fear of what will follow. You don't think that causes a dysfunctional person? The speech about how she learned she wasn't "special" is so sad and ironic and explains so much. Her changes with Kyon's intervention are rather subtle given the unsubtle thrust of her nature, and they are just some of the many careful details, from the tiny things like Yuki 's "I don't give a shit" home run trot to all the awesome build-up and execution of the "God Knows..." sequence that elevates it from a pretty good young adult light novel series to something magical. If only the second season didn't feel like an obligation to get to the fantastic movie.

17. Turn A Gundam

I realize this list so far has been Kyoto Animation and Nozomi Entertainment acquisitions. It's just how the listed played out. We'll be heading in more varied directions soon. Anyway, I like parts of the Gundam franchise. I wouldn't say I'm a big fan, but if there's something in the franchise that is being getting good marks, I'll have a look. It's also an empire built on expectations of what NEEDS to be in every iteration. The colonies and the Earth having a spat, there's a masked guy, blah blah blah. Yoshiyuki Tomino takes the franchise he helped create and "turns" it on its head (I'm not proud of that pun). It has a lot of weird and I love that it has a lot of weird. It's post-apocalyptic, styled like early 20th century Europe and America, given a story heavily inspired by the likes of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, has Blade Runner mechanical designer Syd Mead involved, and THE Yoko Kanno providing the music. Not all of it works, but it's amazing enough that most of it does.

Since the series is finally coming out in America after 15 years of only being available through less-than-legal methods, I want to save my full thoughts on it until I can do an actual review. In a nutshell, the story starts with Loran, a member of the Moonrace who secretly sneaks into Earth's population to live amongst the people of his origin. See, advanced society fled to the Moon after a war when humanity decimated the Earth in a time known as the Dark History. The Earthlings remaining have eventually rebuilt the world to an industrial society, and the Moonrace is testing waters for potential immigration. Loran gains the trust of a well-to-do family and becomes their chauffeur, even as far as becoming their daughter's partner in a coming-of-ceremony (Which is less sexual than it sounds, even when it involves nudity). When the Moonrace grows impatient and decides to force its immigration through military might, the ensuing attack unearths a mobile suit from within a statue of a "god." With Loran as its pilot and Earth's forces extremely outgunned, he must toe the line between helping out his new Earthling friends and keeping the peace with his home race.

I'm not going to lie, this series gives a STRANGE vibe in the first two episodes. Most odd is the extensive nudity, especially in its underaged hero. It's not there to be sexy, it's not there to make much of a point. It's just... there. It's like walking into a room and people you hang out with are suddenly nude, casually going about their business. We're not even getting into the circumstances where Loran must disguise himself as a woman for a peacekeeping ball or the running joke of Loran constantly getting racked in the nuts. If you can get beyond the initial awkwardness, Turn A Gundam is an action/adventure that is both classic and refreshing. Have you ever wanted mobile suits to fight bi-planes? Here ya' go! The main Gundam even has an old-school mustache to boot.

Even as one of the odd siblings of the Gundam franchise, what makes it different makes it special. The mix of space opera and World War I-style battle is a surprisingly lovely symphony. The scope of characters is easy to follow and impressive, including a surprising lot of people of color who simply exist without being stereotyped or given distracting diversions from the plot. Yoko Kanno's score is gloriously classy without feeling stuffy, touching on playful orchestral, light jazz, and her usual batch of surprises. As the 20th anniversary project for the Gundam franchise, it has a retro style, but it feels like something Gundam has never been before and may never be again. Give it a shot. How much you like it may surprise you.

16. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

To quote Jack Black in High Fidelity, "Kind of a new one...." I can already see the eyes rolling with some of my fellow staff members. I realize this is one of those titles the otaku declare the GREATEST ANIME EVER and then completely forget about within ten years. The third movie doesn't help matters at all. I realize that the post-modern deconstructionist angle of Madoka isn't as deep a well as its hugest fans will say it is. But as something that grabbed me by the heart early on and didn't let go until the it was over, it's an emotional leviathan you don't just shrug off and dismiss.

I'm stuck between talking about a story where you can't say ANYTHING about it, and then not having anything to say about it. The basic setup involves a middle school girl named Madoka getting approached by talking cat-like creature Kyubey with the offer to become a magic girl. She goes along with magic girl Mami as she battles witches and decides to become one herself. To say she doesn't know what she's in for is an understatement.

The aesthetics are some of the most widely acclaimed aspects of the show and I'm not going to change that. Even taking out the fantastically weird witch battles that come off like Terry Gilliam animation after getting touched by Satan, the animation is fantastically smooth and detailed with a style that marries cute and unsettling into one household that somehow makes it work. Also of note, it's nice to see Yuki Kajiura's score as a supporting piece rather than forced into the position of, "I'M the one driving the emotions! Not the characters or circumstances! I'm the god! I'M THE GOD!"

Of course, the look is only icing on the cake. The show is an absolute soul punch. As a rule to things that appeal to me on a mostly emotional level, I went to back to it to see if it still holds up after seeing all the strings. Unlike titles such as the shock fest Elfen Lied, it does. The mixture of cute and screwed up rarely has gelled to this sublime a level (Kyubey is one of the great sociopaths in anime), and it swings a heavy drama hammer that hits its spots hard. The deconstructionist angles of the magical girl are pretty nifty even if they are overstated. If you're expecting me to join the choir of people trying to shove this into the overrated pigeon hole, I'm sorry to disappoint you.

15. Aria

It is probably the greatest series that took me five years to watch. It is slow, its conflicts are sometimes on the level of a pond skipper getting stuck on a rock, and it resists the concept of binge watching with every fiber of its existence. Rather than acting as an addictive bowl of cookies, it is the glass of lemonade or hot chocolate that may not be what you want at certain times, but it is there at the exact time you need its relaxing comfort.

Slice of life is a difficult genre to keep interest. It's somewhat easier when you're talking about girls training to be gondola drivers in a replica of Venice on terraformed Mars (Named Aqua here) where cats have a secret society, magic kind of exists, and there is a time of the season when insects that look like snowflakes fill the skies. At its core though, it is the story of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Akari, her more tomboyish friend Aika, and their aloof junior Alice as they try to become undine, professional gondola tour guides of the city. They slowly grow up and the lessons they learn are mostly small bits of wisdom on friendship, work, and life. It's not like conflict doesn't exist or they're never in danger, but unlike its overpopulated counterpart Manhome (Their name for Earth), life slows down in Aqua and gives time to really take everything in.

I don't blame anyone who will completely pass on this series. I'd be a hypocrite considering I have trouble staying awake for any given episode of Mushi-Shi even as I realize how much of a mature and smart series it is. It really is a case of being invested in the characters, laughing at their mishaps, getting moist around the eyes at their sorrows, and cheering at their successes. It may not have the animation budget, but's its look can be absolutely stunning, especially with a world that takes the familiar and makes it just alien enough to be visually interesting. There's a shot of the city during flooding season where an entire block is underwater as the street lamps flip on that's simply beautiful. Choro Club's acoustic accompaniment as well as spot-on choices for opening and closing themes enhance the relaxed feel and ever-so-slight tinge of emotions. It's the anime equivalent of when an old friend calls you up for coffee and catching up. It may not fit into a busy life, but if you have the opening in your schedule, it's a soothing balm that dissolves stress and worry into a cloud that floats away.

14. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

This somehow simultaneously shows how to properly adapt a literary work and how to properly deviate from one. It's easy to balk at the idea of The Count of Cristo IN SPAAAAAAACE with a heavy rock song ending theme that features all the characters at what appears to be a nobility rave, but it keeps the soul of its literary inspiration intact and delivers a timeless story in a style that may be impossible to take for some people, but saves itself from the usual aging problems of animation. It sure as hell isn't Ulysses 31, as much as its ridiculous stupidity is strangely awesome.

Instead of making Monte Cristo the main character, the focus is instead shifted to Albert, the young man who isn't even in the book until a third of its massive length. The shift from revenge chronicle to dramatic thriller doesn't hurt the material one bit. Albert's life as a care-free son of a noble is shattered when he meets the Count of Monte Cristo. While his best friend Franz warns there's something very off about the man, Albert nevertheless agrees to introduce him to Paris high society after the count rescues him from a pack of bandits on the Moon. What slowly occurs to Albert is that this might not be the first time Monte Cristo's been to France, or the first time he's met Albert's father and his network of wealthy friends.

The elephant in the room is the look of the series, which uses stationary patterns on clothing, hair, and the settings, proving a unique look that some won't get past. It's disorienting at first, but it does provide a look that resists the usual problems with animation getting older (Though some of Gonzo's 3D animation difficulties still exist). It's very worth the initial discomfort. Mahiro Maeda may be the director of Final Fantasy Unlimited and Blue Submarine No. 6 is better stated as an anime that was more popular than good when it came out, but he can really strike a nerve when he's given the control and room to be dark and disturbing, like in this and The Animatrix shorts "The Second Renaissance." The politeness of Alexandre Dumas' prose is stripped to reveal the psychologically crazed world of French nobility built from the silent burial of one man, and the politics are taken out so one doesn't have to have sidebars on the Napoleonic wars to understand the subtleties. With Albert as the main character, there is a symmetry created with Monte Cristo where even as he and his friend's world is shattered, revealing how much they take for granted, Cristo may be still doing what was done to him in this process of his revenge. This on top of a storyline that keeps on finding ways to top itself with showing just how depraved some of its characters are. It is hypnotic, addicting, and enthralling work.

13. Welcome to the NHK

Two Gonzo productions in a row. I have to stop with the odd coincidences. This is the most iffy show as far as quality is concerned. The animation is truly Gonzo after it burned through all of its cash and was on the verge of collapse with very basic movement and animators unable to stay on model even if you put a gun to their heads.

The skill is mostly in the writing. Its original novel was a dark comedy giving a small window into the life of a NEET, Japan's isolated part of the population who refuse to be involved in society whatsoever. A manga adaptation expended the book's narrow focus to a satire involving the sinkholes the modern youth of Japan fall into when cast into the world that forces them into solitary exitance, and the anime is a skillful adaptation of the manga with an added sting that feels so real, it hurts. As someone with social anxiety, I have to hide at certain portions of this show it hits so close to home.

Tatsuhiro Sato is a shut-in who has developed a crackpot theory that the NHK, Japan's public broadcast network, is attempting to create the NEET population in order to make people easy to controlled (His theory is developed with the help of a hallucination involving talking house appliances). In the midst of failing to end to his isolation, he nevertheless comes across two people trying to help him: Former classmate Yamazaki who wants Sato to help him create an erotic visual novel in order to build the ultimate otaku company, and mysterious Misaki who wants to rescue Sato from his NEET ways for unknown reasons. What follows is Sato taking dips back into society and deciding he's cured, jumps into the deep end on things like MMORPG gold mining, pyramid schemes, and group suicides, causing him to almost metaphorically drown.

It's a dark comedy that isn't shy about opening up raw pain that comes with social anxiety. It is a very strange title indeed when the best and most hilarious moments are when the people we like and want to succeed are at their lowest points. The end of the two island episodes is a superbly executed resolution where the re-uniting of the main characters that is supposed to be met with glowing warmth is instead punctuated by screams of agony. I don't know how it manages to be both mean and warm to its characters, but it turns that trick rather well in spite of a few instances where some supporting characters get rather easy ways out, given their circumstances. It's wicked, biting, and yet somehow likable all at once.

12. Nadia the Secret of Blue Water

I'm a sucker for a good globe trotting action/adventure, what can I say? They attempted to develop this in the seventies with Hayao Miyazaki at the helm and who knows what may have become at that. The consolation prize for this series is when Gainax came along and jumped on the project with Hideaki Anno of all people being one of the helmsmen. Iconic and involving, it somehow weaves a story of light adventure with some real heavy darkness at times.

In this extremely loose adaptation of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, French genius kid Jean runs into mysterious girl Nadia at the World's Fair in Paris. Nadia is soon chased by jewel thief Grandis and her henchman to retrieve the Nadia's necklace Blue Water. Jean steps in to save Nadia's life and is rescued by Captain Nemo and the Nautilus, eventually revealing the gigantic ramifications of Nadia of her necklace involving the lost continent of Atlantis and the society of Neo-Atlantians who are planning to dominate the world.

Nadia gets complimented for plenty. The characters aren't exactly original, but they make their inroads. The action is lively and fun for the most part. What is really underrated is the villains, mostly because the Neo-Atlantians and their emperor Gargoyle don't show their faces and the Grandis trio are goofballs. Make no mistake, Neo-Atlantis is hardcore. They run the world and will smash anyone who gets in their way without blinking. The balance with these series is making the villains enough of a massive threat while giving the heroes just enough hope to pull through without cheating, and to the series' credit, it manages to do that (Though it does cheat a bit). It doesn't just wave away darkness because it's uncomfortable. Jean and Nadia eventually come across Marie who not only has her parents die, but murdered by Neo-Atlantis. It lets Marie be a child who is dealing with death as a very real and very personal thing instead of distracting her with fun adventure time.

It would be higher on my list, but the islands episodes exist out of need for money with producers not wanting to end the series so soon, and they are as terrible as their reputation suggests. Especially the musical episode. Yep, there's a musical episode, and it will make you lose part of your hearing. Oh, and don't EVER watch the movie. Just don't. I know you're going to watch the series and when you're on the emotional high of the ending, you're going to think, "Huh, they have a follow-up movie. I should check that out. I mean, they wouldn't let it be THAT bad, would they?" Yes, yes they would. It is one of the most supremely awful things spawned from a successful series. PLEASE believe me.

11. Galaxy Express 999

Every time I watch something from this series, I feel like I've absorbed all of the answers, dreams, and sorrows the universe has to offer. This is my favorite work of Leiji Matsumoto's, and the journey is a hypnotic wonderland of the beautiful, the melancholy, the heart shattering, and the ultimately hopeful above all else. It is one of the defining works of anime and it earns every single accolade it gets. Why it's at 11 is because I find the manga taps into a purer vein of the work than the anime. On the other hand, you can consume the anime legally, so giving proper direction with how to consume it is hard.

As you will find with plenty of the work I love, it doesn't shy away from darkness. Tetsuro is a youth living in immense poverty with his mother on an Earth where everybody is replacing their human bodies with robotic ones to leave the pain of being flesh and blood behind. Humans are seen as such a lowly form that Tetsuro's mother is hunted down and murdered for sport. He is rescued by Maetel, a mysterious blonde woman who grants him access to the titular Galaxy Express 999, a space-traveling train with open access to the entire universe. His journey opens his to eyes to the vastness of the universe and the power of a single grain within it.

Galaxy Express 999's strengths are best expressed in the fullness of its experience. It always feels like it completely expresses the idea it wants to partake on the audience, the essences of its character, and the wonder of the many locations spread throughout the universe. It's become a cliché at this point, but Matsumoto's imagery of the universe within the eyes of the characters is a powerful metaphor, and chief director Nobutaka Nishizawa capably recreates the manga in animation form, albeit on a somewhat limited TV budget. I love the profoundly unique sites from the Pluto's graves of ice to the very concept of a galaxy railway. I love the theme of hope growing from the deepest pits of despair and how the series doesn't sound like it's full of crap when it executes it. I love the simpleness of the characters, and yet how they have a certain extra something to them. I simply love this show.


With the first ten done, enjoy the first half of my honorable mentions!

The Melody of Oblivion

Until I met Jonathan, I thought I was the only person who really liked this thing. When I worked in the industry, I got TWO screener copies of it because all of the editors wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. They didn't even want a copy for the research and image gathering library. One of them called it "reprehensible garbage." I'm guessing some people really aren't comfortable with something that uses Utena's visual style with a male gaze.  If you can get over the liberal use of the "Gainax bounce" as it's called, this is a rewarding and complex allegory about growing up in the modern world told as a monster slaying journey. The "Tears in the Dam" arc is a perfect example of surreal storytelling, turning a barrage of strange images into a powerful story of how adults neglect their children for the "honor" of being a cog in a faceless corporation. Bocca and Sayoko also make surprisingly good couple as two people who join each other for entirely separate goals and naturally find each other. The middle unfortunately sags and is bogged down with a promiscuous, underaged girl, not to mention the ending episodes are so far out there, the Geneon DVD had to put in an extra explaining what the hell was even going on. But don't let that stop you.


It's simultaneously on my honorable mentions here and my dishonorable mentions if we ever do a worst list. It is a fantastic series of delightful puzzles and mysteries... until it's revealed the anime doesn't have an ending and absolutely makes no effort at resolving or revealing anything worthwhile. They couldn't have killed the enthusiasm more if the end of the series was live-action footage of the animators wiping their asses with preliminary work on the second season. Just stick with the manga, kids.

Twin Spica

Similar to my issues with Spiral, you really want to go with the manga. There's an ending here, but it comes about way too soon and is extremely unsatisfactory, especially given the journey the characters have made so far. A shame, because the writing improved on what was iffy in the manga. In any case, it's a massive tear-jerker of a science fiction drama. There are stories in this show that will make me cry just thinking about them. It's about a girl named Asumi who is trying to go through the Japanese space program with the help of the ghost of an astronaut who is responsible for a fiery crash that burned and ultimately killed Asumi's mother. That's just the PREMISE, folks! I'm not even getting into when Asumi has to lead her own mother to the Other Side..... Sniff sniff, oh God... I'm going to leave this one alone now.

That's all for now. See you for the FINAL TEN or whatever hype thing you want to throw at that.


  1. I'm very new to anime and am still finding my way around, as it were, so this was a good article for me to read.

    If I wasn't sold on "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water" before, I am now. I'm determined to give it a look, whatever its flaws. As for the follow-up film, I expect I'll watch it anyway, because you've made me deeply curious about how bad it really is. I have been known to obtain considerable ironic enjoyment from some truly awful movies before now.

    "Aria" and "Emma: A Victorian Romance" sound like fun as well, though I expect they'll be a somewhat lower priority for me. I'm torn on "Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo", however. It sounds like it could be enjoyable on its own terms, but as a huge fan of the the original novel and Alexandre Dumas in general, I worry I might find myself conflicted over the fact that the producers didn't just sink that much effort into a straightforward adaptation, without feeling as though they had to "spice it up"- you know, the way Hollywood has basically *never* done with *any* of Dumas' novels?

    I have seen "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" in its original TV series form courtesy of Crunchyroll. I wouldn't call it "teh bestest thing evah!" they way a lot of its fans do, but I will admit I was pleasantly surprised at how well they pulled off the overall concept, and also at the extent to which I became invested in the characters. I usually despise endings where the entire story up to the point is erased from time, so it says a lot that I actually felt the show's use of that particular trope was a very good dramatic and thematic decision.

    Also: death to Kyubey.

    1. Death to Kyubey indeed. He's the reason why mansplainers still exist...

    2. I was joking, since Kyubey reminds me a lot of mansplainers who sound too level-headed for their own good...

  2. Apparently, Galaxy 999 also had several movies? How do they fit into the franchise?

    1. The first movie is a re-telling of the first journey. It obviously has pacing problems because it jams so much into a movie, but if you don't have the time for a long series, the movie works as a substitute.

      The second movie departs wildly from the source material and is mostly the popular science fiction films from the time put in a blender and filtered through Galaxy Express 999. Part of the music is literally the John Williams score to Superman.

      Usually, people will defend one movie or the other. The first one because it's more true to the source material and the second one because it's more designed to be a movie instead of a larger story jammed into movie form. I'm of the former, though the second movie has its merits. My main issue with the second movie is it's about Tetsuro's journey to adulthood and it starts with Tetsuro involved in a massive war where he's watching his friends die every day. I think he's well past the point of adulthood here. But the movies are both good enough that you can watch one or the other and decide for yourself.

      I have not seen Eternal Fantasy. From what I understand, it's a 1998 adaptation of the stuff from when Leiji Matsumoto picked up the pen and started drawing Galaxy Express 999 again in the 90s. I'm nervous about it because I don't want it to be like when bands reunite after a couple decades, make a new CD, and it's just garbage.


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