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small image UnCliché Anime Parfait

August 9, 2011 6:42 pm by small image

Hello, I’m Cholisose, and I’ll be writing articles for YumeState. Perhaps I should introduce myself? Some of the things I’ll probably blog about here include anime, manga, light novels, and Japanese video games, so you can look forward to that. I like to bring things up for discussion, so feel free to comment away in every one of my posts–I’ll be sure to respond! And that’s enough about me…

I’ll briefly share how I got into the anime world. As long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed a good story. But who doesn’t love a good story? All around the world, people have been telling each other stories since time immemorial (and that was a pretty long time ago). Stories are great, and while I was in high school I was getting into books quite a bit–to the point where I started writing some of my own. I didn’t really have any other hobbies, other than homework and hanging out with friends. There wasn’t much on TV that I enjoyed by this point, save perhaps for an episode of Home Movies every now and then. (Does anyone even remember that show?) And though I certainly knew what anime was (probably thanks to Pokemon), there weren’t any shows that had really caught my interest.

This all changed, however, when I saw Trigun on Adult Swim. I’m pretty sure the first episode I saw was episode one, and I remember taping the show each night (with a VCR… -_-) and highly anticipating the next episode the following day. It was great! It was exciting.

It had lots of bullets.

What was it I loved about Trigun so much? I think more than anything, I was excited by the fact this was a TV show that had a continuing storyline. Granted, the start of the series is pretty episodic, but there were so many mysteries… so many hints of big things to come. And just as I hoped, the series delivered–big things did come. Now, I’m not about to give Trigun a literary award any time soon, but it did a great job of hooking me into a fantastic setting with fun, multifaceted characters. Vash was cool, and there were so many sides to him! I enjoyed learning more about him bit by bit as the series progressed. I was also a big fan of fantasy/sci-fi (and still am), and Trigun was such a unique and fascinating mash-up of so many genres. Action, comedy, drama, mystery, and even a bit of romance–this show had it all!

I have since become a fan of a lot of anime that I enjoy more, but Trigun will always be special for being my gateway drug anime. What was yours?

Once I watched the Trigun anime, I wanted more. I learned about the manga and started buying volumes of that. (The Trigun manga is really bizarre by the way, but I think I might like the plot in that a bit more than the anime.) I also listened to the OST for the series, and… may have even written a bunch of fanfiction. >_< But eventually I needed other anime to watch, and other manga to read.

I may be difficult to please when it comes to stories. There are a lot of popular anime shows that I simply don’t like, and I generally don’t stick with a series very long if I don’t like the characters (and the same is true for books, movies, and other forms of storytelling). But soon enough I found great shows like Last Exile, Azumanga Daioh, Death Note, and Serial Experiments Lain. Kare Kano, Fullmetal Alchemist, Samurai 7, Scryed, Blood+, Cromartie High School, and xxxHolic. Haibane Renmei, Kino’s Journey, Fruits Basket, School Rumble, Planetes, and Gakuen Alice. Mushishi, Hatenkou Yuugi, Aria the Animation, Cardcaptor Sakura, Darker than Black, Natsume Yuujinchou, and Pandora Hearts.

Cardcaptor Sakura, Shiki, Pandora Hearts, Haibane Renmei
Angel Beats, Natsume Yuujinchou, Mushishi, Kino’s Journey
Ghost Hunt, Aria, Planetes, Hatenkou Yuugi

Are you noticing a pattern in the shows I watched? You shouldn’t! I found myself watching great shows in a very wide variety of genres. And this may be what I love most about anime, more than anything else. For whatever reason, storytelling in Japan is very experimental, and unafraid to subvert and avert tropes left and right.

Which is why I am a little surprised whenever I find comments such as “all anime shows are the same these days,” or “anime has become so stale and predictable,” or “anime companies are afraid to try anything new.” Granted, there are clichés in the anime world, but the situation here pales in comparison to that of other mediums of storytelling. I mean, let me throw out the names of a few anime I finished in recent months:

  • Ef: Tale of Memories
  • Allison and Lillia
  • Angel Beats
  • Le Portrait de Petite Cossette
  • Shiki
  • Nurarihyon no Mago
  • Sword of the Stranger
  • Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
  • 5 Centimeters Per Second

Now, there are certainly stories out there we can compare each of these anime to, including other anime. No man is an island, and there is nothing new under the sun, as they say. But if you want my opinion, these anime bring a lot of new things to the table. I’m constantly (and pleasantly) surprised by the originality I find in so many series, even in shows I don’t care as much for. I have a lot of favorite anime and manga now, and have even gotten into light novels as well. There are so many great stories, filled with unique worlds and interesting characters–I don’t see myself getting bored any time soon.

But what’s my number one favorite anime/manga series right now? Without a doubt, it’s Pandora Hearts. I don’t think I’ve ever been so engrossed in a story before, in any medium. This is the series I find myself recommending to others most, because it really does everything so well.

That girl really doesn’t know how to tie a tie, though.

The setting is unique, the characters are three-dimensional, the plot twists are intelligent and constant, the cliffhangers are agonizing, and the character designs are very nice. The anime adds wonderful music and color to Jun Mochizuki’s fascinating world, and though it ends in the middle of the story, the manga continues to just get better and better. The series in general is also a wonderful example of genre-mashing, as it involves a great deal of mystery, drama, and fantasy, but includes a generous helping of comedy, romance, horror, action, and tragedy as well–and has a devoted fan base interestingly spread amongst shoujo, shounen, and older audiences.

And perhaps this is something else I love about anime. There are stories for people of all ages. From Cardcaptor Sakura to Shiki, there are really well-written shows for each and every demographic out there. Anime companies (in general, I feel) don’t just throw out random shows and hope for the best–they really put good effort into them. Great animation, great music, and great stories.

It’s great! But even more so, it’s full of originality, which is something I just thrive off of.

So now it’s established I’m pretty positive about the world of anime. I’ll be sure to write articles that delve deeper into some of our favorite stories, but I hope to bring the blogosphere something new with these articles I’ll write. I feel there are a lot of good shows airing right now, and chances are we’ll continue to get good stories in our anime, manga, and light novels for many years to come. It’s a great time to be an anime fan, with so many new shows coming out each season. This is a medium where we constantly get new stories! There will be no shortage of things to talk about.

Post a comment or two. What got you into anime? What’s your favorite show now? How do you feel about the series currently airing? Do you feel there are still a lot of original shows coming out, or is everything starting to look repetitious? How are things looking for anime, manga, and light novels out there?

If you get the chance, feel free to visit me on MyAnimeList, where you can check out my anime list and my profile (be sure to say hi). Let me know topics you’d like discussed on YumeState!