Introduction to Anime

Japanese anime tends to have a reputation in the western world for being wildly “out there” and the only people that tend to like anime are just as wildly “out there.” But anime has a very broad selection of genres that can appeal to anyone, just as western film and TV. And honestly, you have probably already seen some anime that has gained popularity in the west (i.e. Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha). For those who are curious about delving deeper into the world of anime, but don’t know how or where to start, here is a list of great anime films and series (separated by genre) to get you started!

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Cowboy Bebop

The futuristic misadventures and tragedies of an easygoing bounty hunter, Spike Spiegel, and his partners. Set in the year 2071, this episodic crime noir begins on the Spaceship Bebop, where Spike’s group of bounty hunters are constantly looking for their next bounty head.

Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, this series is well-known for it’s cool atmosphere and widely revered soundtrack.

 

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Samurai Champloo

Fuu, a waitress who works in a teahouse, rescues two master swordsmen, Mugen and Jin, from their execution to help her find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.” The show follows the three as they journey through Edo period Japan in search for this mysterious samurai, all the while getting into trouble everywhere they go.

Another acclaimed series by director Shinichirō Watanabe, Samurai Champloo combines a historic backdrop with modern hip-hop styles and references.

 

Comedy/Slice of Life

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Fruits Basket

After her mother’s death, Tohru Honda finds herself living with the “prince” of her high school, Yuki Sohma, after her tent is destroyed in a landslide. Yuki, along with the rest of the Sohmas have a secret though. When hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they transform into animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Shenanigans ensue and new friendships are formed in this heart-warming series directed by Akitaro Daichi.

 

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Clannad & Clannad: After Story

A high school student, Tomoya, who cares little about school or others meets a lonely girl, Nagisa, who had to repeat a year while all her friends finished high school. They become unlikely friends as he helps her to revive the drama club. Making friends along the way, their bond grows deeper and they decide to become a couple. The After Story takes place immediately, where the first “season” ends, following their relationship.

This series (one of my personal favorites) is as hilarious as it is heart-breaking. You learn so much about the characters and their lives. I can’t recommend this series enough. Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara.

 

Psychological/Thriller

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Elfen Lied

University students Kohta and Yuka (Kohta’s cousin) save a girl around their age called when they see her washed up on a beach. They quickly realize this girl, called Lucy, isn’t human. She is a Diclonius that has a escaped from a government facility where she was being studied. Committing mass murder in her escape, the ones responsible are desperate to find her. This proves difficult when her personality is split from a head injury, causing her to shed her violent persona for a clueless girl who doesn’t know what she is. Directed by Mamoru Kanbe.

 

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Ergo Proxy

In a post-apocalyptic future, humans live in peace with androids in a domed city called Romdeau. However, a strange series of murders has intrigued bored inspector Re-L Mayer when it appears robots that have been infected with a virus, causing self-awareness, seem to be responsible. This series, directed by Shukō Murase, has been critically praised for it’s well-paced plot and atmosphere.

 

 

Romance

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Children Who Chase Lost Voices

A coming of age story involving young love. Asuna hears mysterious music coming from a crystal radio, left to her by her absent father, that leads her deep into the hidden world, Agartha.

Beautiful artwork combined with an adventurous plot, this film is a must-see for everyone. Directed by Makoto Shinkai, who has been called “the new Miyazaki.”

 

 

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Garden of Words

A 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman find an unlikely friendship one rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. These two broken pieces come together and heal one another as they learn what it is to walk.

I cannot even begin to describe how amazing the artwork is in this film. If you won’t see it for the story, which is beautiful, then see it for the artwork. You won’t regret it. Also directed by Makoto Shinkai. Surprise, surprise.

 

Drama/Tragedy

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5 Centimeters Per Second

Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.

Beautiful artwork mixed with a tragic plot about the heart-break of love, this film is another masterpiece directed by Makoto Shinkai.

 

 

Wolf Children

College student Hana falls in love with another student who turns out to be a werewolf. After he dies in an accident with uncertain circumstances, Hana decides to move to the rural countryside where her husband grew up to raise her two werewolf children.

A story about family and understanding, Wolf Children will tug at your heartstrings. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda.

 

 

And, of course, anything created by Studio Ghibli is a must-see…

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**All movies mentioned above are in our collection at Media Services**

Laughs Of The Decades: A History Of Comedy In Film

Comedy has always been not only one of our most popular forms of entertainment, but has also acted as a vehicle for social and cultural commentary, a reflection of the good and bad in society, and a way for individuals to diffuse the hardships of existence with an hour or so of uninhibited laughter.

The subversive nature of comedy can be traced all the way back to some of its earliest stars. Charlie Chaplain became well-known for his outspoken political views. Indeed, he paid a steep price for this, as his political views were seen by many as radical at the time, leading to his eventual exile from the U.S. Though he eventually re-entered the country to be honored at the Academy Awards in 1972, the controversy permanently damaged his relationship with the nation.

The power of comedy didn’t buckle to societal pressures. With the 60s emerged a revitalized interest in the incorporation of social and political commentary into comedic film. It became commonplace for films to incorporate sensitive social and cultural issues, using comedy to make statements about them. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, parodied the Cold War mindset of the time, pointing out the absurdity of the concept of mutually assured destruction, bringing us memorable one-liners like “No fighting in the war room!” Similarly, The Graduate commented on the rapidly changing sexual attitudes of the time, presenting sexuality in a groundbreaking and up-front manner that was considered incredibly provocative at the time.

Social and cultural subversiveness in film carried on into the 1970s, with films such as  Catch-22, which continued to communicate an anti-war message. The lampoons of satirical film extended beyond just social and cultural concepts, but to other films, with the advent of parody. Directors such as Mel Brooks helped pioneer the parody genre of film, releasing films such as Young Frankenstein.  

The premiere of Saturday Night Live in 1975 was a pivotal moment in the comedy industry, bringing the subversive ideals of comedy film to television. Simultaneously, numerous new faces entered the realm of standup comedy. Eventually, comedians such as Richard Pryor, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Steve Martin and many more who found there start in stand-up and on SNL would go on to prosper in the film industry, spawning such classics as Animal House, Harlem Nights, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, The Jerk, and numerous others.

The parody genre went on to spawn other highly influential parodies, such as the 1980 disaster film spoof, Airplane!, which is considered by many to be the quintessential, fast-paced gag and spoof-based film. As the 80s carried on, however, comedy began to evolve drastically.

The 1990s saw a continued evolution of the comedy genre, with a renewed interest in romantic comedies. Films such as When Harry Met Sally… and Sleepless in Seattle helped usher in a new wave of films which incorporated both romantic and comedic elements.

Comedy today is much different than it once was. Like any other art form, it evolves with time. 2001’s Zoolander was a fan-favorite, and developed a cult following, but its release, only weeks following the tragic attacks of 9/11, severely impacted its commercial success. In some ways, Zoolander can be seen as a bookend to an era of comedy film known as “joke-based comedy.” Films such as The Hangover and I Love You Man, pioneered a different approach to comedy, deriving humor from the journeys of characters, and plot-driven, relatable situations.

What’s in store next for this pivotal genre of entertainment? Will the new era of jokeless comedy continue define the genre? Will we get something entirely new? Only time will tell…

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Check out classic comedies at the Media and Reserve Services! Dr. Strangelove, Zoolander, and many many more are available now!