Monthly Archives: June 2016
Sadness is an incredibly powerful emotion. Many of us know this from first-hand experience, whether it be short term grief, lingering sadness, or chronic battles with depression. Thankfully, entertainment can provide a bit of relief from these emotions when they become too overwhelming. Interestingly enough, the entertainment we turn to in these times can vary wildly in terms of its tone and theme.
Some people attempt to cope with sadness by trying to watch something that will potentially infuse them with happiness; watching something upbeat, comical, or zany might impart some of that happiness onto them, or at least distract them for a while so they can focus on something more positive. Then you have people who can’t stomach the idea of watching something so bubbly in times of distress and need to find something that speaks to how they’re feeling right now, something in-sync with their sadness. Other people tend to withdraw from the world and want to turn to something comforting and familiar; regardless of whether it’s happy or sad, they just want something they know and can give them a sense of stability.
Naturally there are other methods of coping that people go through, but those three methods tend to represent the majority of people’s experiences. Because of that, we’re going to take a quick look at nine different anime, with three of them each fitting one of the aforementioned coping strategies. Now in fairness, there are a lot of great articles you can turn to for a list of tragic or happy anime, but this list is going to try and avoid at least some of the more obvious choices and touch upon things that are more relatable. For example, Grave of the Fireflies certainly deserves its place in discussions as one of the saddest pieces of anime ever created, but most of us can’t entirely relate to living through the American bombing sorties of Japan during World War II. On the other hand we can all relate to the subjects of death, mortality, and the preciousness of time; which leads us to our first title…
Chrno Crusade doesn’t immediately inform the viewer of its tragic characters, but we’re soon enough informed about the connection between the protagonists, Rosette and Chrono, and the toll it’s taking on the former of the two. Rosette is an exorcist who belongs to the demon hunting Order of Magdalene. When she was younger, she formed a pact with Chrono, a demon with the appearance of a young boy, that effectively saved his life. Unfortunately for Rosette, the same contract that’s keeping Chrono alive is slowly killing her. This isn’t a secret to anyone; Rosette, Chrono, and the rest of the Order are all aware of Rosette’s ultimate fate. Parallels can easily be drawn from this to more traditional terminal illnesses. Rosette tries to face the knowledge of her impending death with strength and joy for the time she has left, but not even she can maintain that levity all the time. Death is unavoidable for everyone and so we can sympathize with Rosette’s plight.
Even if we haven’t directly faced discrimination we probably know someone who has; whether by society itself or by individuals. Despite its heavily violent and gory nature, Elfen Lied is largely a sad tale of heartache, friendship, prejudice, and bullying. The series’ main character, Lucy/Nyu, was born into circumstances beyond her control, facing prejudice and bullying for the horns on her head as a result of being a mutated human species known as Diclonius. Despite the friendship she formed with the young human male, Kouta, society itself pushed Lucy to a breaking point that made her lash out with extreme violence, changing the life of Kouta forever. It’s an anime filled with one devastating event after another. If you can stomach the incredibly graphic imagery, the heart of the tragic events is surprisingly relatable; something that makes the story even that much more heart wrenching.
When it comes to mature anime, we’re certainly spoiled for choice. The anime industry has never shied away from horror, gore, violence, nudity and depictions of sex. More importantly, the anime industry has never balked at venturing into psychological dramas and artier fare, which can only be appreciated by a more mature audience.
And while the anime in this list is aimed at an older audience, younger anime fans have a lot to look forward to once they come of age. The recommendations here are a mix of popular, underrated and hidden gems. However, they’re all stand out titles that are worth checking out.
One of the true masters of mature anime is non-other than Satoshi Kon. Unfortunately, this brilliant director left this world way too soon, but his work lives on and continues to fascinate us.
Perfect Blue is one of the very best psycho-dramas, and certainly holds up well when compared to Hollywood and European art-house films in the same genre. Furthermore, Mima Kirigoe entrances and shakes us up as she delves into the darker side of her psyche.
Tekkonkinkreet stands apart from other anime on so many levels. For one, it’s directed by the American-born Michael Arias who brings along his own unique vision. Secondly, the British electronic music duo, Plaid, created the soundtrack which is both sublime and experimental.
At its core, Tekkonkinkreet feels very indie but with high production values. This is definitely one for more adventurous and eclectic anime fans.
What makes for perfect Friday night entertainment? Well, how about kicking back with a big bowl of popcorn and an action-packed vampire epic?
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and its prequel from 1985 – Vampire Hunter D – should really be watched back to back. Not only are they both excellent anime with just the right mix of gothic flair and heroism, but are incredibly re-watchable. And it doesn’t hurt that D is one of the most visually appealing male lead protagonists ever!
Tudukimi was an event I went to last week where I was forced to watch 52 anime trailers back to back, in an cruel experiment designed to find the breaking point of the human spirit. I actually kind of enjoyed myself.
At the Tudukimi event (a contraction of several Japanese words meaning ‘watch the next’), 52 anime trailers were shown in groups of 4, and punctuated by commentary from the lively hosts of the evening, with an occasional industry guest appearance. It was apparently livestreamed to over 20,000 people, and was attended by all sorts of people from the anime world, including bloggers, journalists, and streamers.
It was kind of a long evening, and there’s already a bunch of info out there about most of these anime, so here were my thoughts on all 52 trailers shown at the event. See my condition slowly deteriorate over the course of the evening as my notes get less and less informative.
I’ve noted the special picks by bracketing them; either I decided that i’m definitely picking them up this season, or they drew enough attention/applause/squeals of delight from the Japanese crowd that I decided well, I kind of have to check them out now.
Sports anime fans, this is the one. Rugby. Lots of male butts. Small – but fast – player seems to feature as the star of the show; Eyeshield 21?
2. Gi(a)rlish Number
About seiyuus. Seems to be part of this emerging genre of anime focusing on the behind the scenes of the anime/manga world.
3. [3-Gatsu no Lion]
People in the crowd were psyched for this one.
In their heyday, pirates were a violent bunch that were to be feared, the equivalent of modern-day terrorists. But history has romanticized this once feared profession and it’s become something draped in awe and mystery. Whether sailing the seas in ancient wooden ships, or soaring the stars in spacecrafts from the future, our modern interpretation of pirates can rank anywhere from dastardly villain to outlaw with a heart of gold.
Gol D. Roger is the catalyst for the events of One Piece. Once a legendary pirate king, Roger was eventually captured and stated that he left an open invitation to his fortune, the “one piece”, moments before his execution. While it is not exactly clear what One Piece truly is, Roger’s final words were enough to propel the entire world into a new Age of Piracy. Roger sailed further into the dangerous oceans of the world than any other man before or since; crews have scavenged the seas for his fortune – frequently causing chaos along the way – in their quest to become the new pirate kings.
Harlock is a roguish man who lives by his own rules. Space Pirate Captain Harlock exists in a shared continuity, causing Harlock himself to appear in several other series such as Queen Emeraldas. While Harlock is a self-proclaimed pirate, he is more in it for challenging the status quo than anything else. At one point, he comes across some other pirates who boarded a civilian ship and slaughtered the crew and passengers. Harlock boarded the ship himself and massacred the pirates single-handedly. A pirate he may be, but Harlock lives by his own moral code.
Marika was once a simple schoolgirl who was interested in space yachts (the show takes place in the future) and working in a café. Until her daddy’s status as a powerful space pirate forced her to begrudgingly take over the family business, which she has a natural knack for – despite her initial reluctance for the job. Marika may not be a pirate in the traditional sense, but she still gets the job done and flies away with a cargo hold full of booty.