Anime

Nostalgias a funny thing. You get this feeling of longing that makes you wish you could relive certain events that have long since passed. You miss those days that youve ever so slightly edited in your mind to appear to be far more enjoyable than they were at the time. Rationally speaking, you know they werent nearly as good as you remember them to be, but you dont give a damn. Sure, being a teenager again may mean having little more than a ten-dollar bill in your pocket and no car to get you around, but you want to recapture that wide-eyed feeling of being that young brat again. Rationality has nothing to do with it. Being better off now means jack shit. You just want that feeling back in some way.

That pretty much sums up my feelings for the summer of 1996. The magic from those three months is a feeling that I long for at this time of the year. Seeing kids having the time of their life, goofing off, not having a care in the world it makes me wish I was 17 again despite the fact that being a teenager isnt the most appealing prospect in life. For every day I spent idling around playing the SNES there was a day where my parents got on me about what I wanted to do with my life. I sure as hell had no idea at the time and didnt particularly want to think about that shit at the time, and 14 years removed from that time its a feeling I dont want to relive. But I still long for those days of hanging out with my friends and playing Vampire the Masquerade until dawn while hopped up on Big Red and crappy pizza.

During that summer of Chrono Trigger and the like I also experienced something of a revelation when it came to anime. Id been a fan for a couple of years, but my experience with anime was limited to what was on the racks a Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. Id seen Project A-Ko and some Tenchi and Ranma and a few other series, but my eyes had yet to be opened much further than that. Then one of my friends pulled out what appeared to be a blank VHS tape. On this innocent-looking cassette was a massive amount of Ranma 1/2 episodes. Episodes Id never seen.

Bootlegged episodes of stuff that the video stores never got around to carrying.

Know that look that Indy Jones got when he realized where the Ark of the Covenant was hidden that telling look of someone thats just experienced something profoundly spiritual and earth shattering? That was me when I saw this VHS tape.

The picture of Anime and Fiction with Funimation Entertainment.

We must have watched that and a handful of similar tapes three or four times that summer. I saw the entire first season of Ranma and the entire run of the original Tenchi Muyo OAV several times over, and the experience turned me from a guy that just happened to like anime into a full-blown convert to the religion of anime.

But what made this experience all the more special was the fact that anime itself was special at the time. Video stores had a limited selection and rarely updated it. These sorts of bootlegs were hard for guys like us with limited access points and limited cash to get a hold of. When we got a hold of some anime it was a genuine find, and we pretty much had to treasure it because of this. We werent going to get much, so we better damn well be happy with what we get.

From a purely objective standpoint this is a damn lousy situation. Anime was fucking hard to get. We werent college kids, so we didnt have other college kids to depend upon. There was an anime club here in town but it was mainly for older fans and we wouldnt have been all that comfortable in that situation. Our supply was limited and our knowledge was piss poor. Nowadays, anime is literally a click away on the computer. Bootleg is the current gold standard in anime fandom. Almost any series imaginable can be found if you have the patience to track down its torrent.

Anime fandom is better now than it was 14 years ago, but all I can think is fuck that noise. I want to recapture that feeling where anime was special. Its completely irrational notion but I dont give a damn. I want that magical feeling of awe and wonder to return. I want an anime to make me gawk wide-eyed and dumfounded.

I want anime to be special again like it was in 1996. I know thats impossible. Im firmly planted in reality and know that such nostalgic notions are little more than wistful delusions, but that doesnt keep me from wanting it. A guy can want something he knows hell never have, and he can accept the fact that hell never have it, but that doesnt make the longing go away.

I will say this: Over the past week I watched Kemonozume. It was the closest Ive come to that feeling in ages. It wasnt quite the same, but I did feel my metaphorical eyes widening with amazementjust a little with each passing episode. Once I wrap my head around the series it may very well become my new all-time favorite series.

Also: The above song came up on my Youtube playlist right as I was wrapping up this post and it seemed pretty approrpiate.

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Anime

Yeah, more than half of this should could be edited out and youd be left with the same exact show. For every awesome gun fight you had minutes upon minutes of still shots and repetitive dialogue that served less to explain anything and more to pad out the run time. Despite all the needless bits, Noir managed to be a pretty damn good action series. It may be a bit too self-serious (hence why its at the bottom of this list) and ponderous over topics that dont really deserve the pondering, but it isnt stupid. But those moments of action are pretty sublime. I especially dig how the two girls styles juxtapose one another. Kirika is your John Woo two-fisted type while Mireille is more along the lines of your stoic action hero from older movies. Its no Black Lagoon, but Noir knows its action movies well.

The first half of this series is damn near perfect. Everything leading up to the Valentine Brothers attack on Hellsings base, and the attack itself, is perfect horror/action shit. It lays down the characters, makes their motivations clear, and places them in a situation where we actually give a damn about the outcome. And to make it all the more awesome, theres a genuine threat presented by the Brothers. Sure, Alucard goes all Shoggoth on us and shows that hes way more powerful than we imagined, but until that revelation there was genuine tension in that storyline. Then the next story arc began and everything kinda tanked. I dont hate that African vampire stuff as much as some people, but it doesnt quite do it for me like the first half. Its still pretty watchable, but nowhere near as great as the first half. Had the series maintained that level of awesomeness, Hellsingd likely be much higher on this list.

What I love about this series is how, in a world where people have all sorts of crazy super powers and stuff, the main dudes power boils down to I punch stuff really, really, really hard. Hes able to use that super-punching to do all sorts of stunts, like super-leaping by punching the ground, but it all comes back to hitting stuff with his fist. Thats, like, so damn elegant a power that its beautiful. The actual series is pretty standard action anime stuff, with conspiracies and battles and rivalries and stuff, but it works pretty good. Its stuff like this and Tiger and Bunny that Sunrise should do more often. Fuck that Gundam shit.

I feel weird including this one on my list since I havent seen it all. It has yet to be fully subbed and it likely wont be finished anytime soon. But screw it, I love this show. Its a comedy about a dude who has a pet ferret thing. Said ferret is a badass. In the wild, he tamed bears and made them into his lackeys. Now that hes living in a domestic setting, he uses his magnificent martial powers to rule over his apartment building. But no one notices but the ferret and his hamster buddy who lives next door. Yeah, its a basic animals talking to each other like theyre humans and the humans are unaware of whats going on show, except instead of having a cutesy mascot it has a mean, nasty thing with a bad attitude who likes to boss people around as the lead. Its hilarious stuff.

The picture of Anime and Feces with Interjections. 6. Read or Die

60s James Bond spy stuff mixed in with X-Men-styled super powers. Yeah man, this shit is awesome. And the master plan of the villain involves creating a song that will kill all of humanity when its broadcast across the globe from the villains flying satellite base. Awesome. Totally awesome. Still not sure how we got from this sort of pure, perfect action stuff to that horrendous, banal TV sequel. Thats the sort of thing even God cant comprehend.

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