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May 12, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

Film Review: An Anime Primer

Anime, like people, aren’t created equal. Most of the kiddie anime we get over here is lacking in almost every category. Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu Gi Oh! and every other fucking advertisement masquerading as television don’t do anime any favours. These shows are the most mainstream anime but they are also anime at its most banal. This kind of anime not only thumbs its nose at logic but also the intelligence of its audience. Why would and how would a 12-year-old carry a sword bigger than him and attack aliens without first having a discussion on the intentions of said alien, maybe we could come to some sort of non violent agreement, like they get earth Monday through Wednesday and we get it the rest of the week.

Demons with cat’s ears, cartoons created seemingly for 4chan, sexually frustrated boys and the large boobed women who love them and Naruto. This is what is mostly associated with anime; however this isn’t all there is. Sure, the stereotype of ‘Battling Seizure Robots’ does have its basis in truth but there is a counterpoint to the mecha shows whose main theme is to sell toys.

Neon Genesis Evangelion showed that anime can be philosophical and one of the only art forms in which the creator can meditate on the emotional trials of youth. Evangelion was short lived by Western standards but its influence and popularity have lasted from its creation in late 1995 till today. It highlighted what anime could be and brought legitimacy to the medium. Others post-Evangelion have continued the trend, recent shows like Boogiepop Phantom and Ghost in the Shell have kept the philosophy in anime.

Cowboy Bebop manages to capture perfectly the atmosphere and vibe of old film noir and does so in an original way, something action directors in Hollywood have been failing at for years. Each episode brought feature film quality action and stories matched with brilliant animation. The creator Shinichiro Watanabe also went on to create the sporadically great
Samurai Champloo.

At a time where Hollywood was remaking J-horror (The Ring series, The Grudge, Dark Water, Pulse, One Missed Call etc) Perfect Blue arrived and put even the original J-horrors to shame. Genuinely terrifying and compelling its atmosphere matches anything since Argento stopped trying.

Anime is like ecstasy: at first it seems frightening and not to be brought up in conversation but once you try a really good stuff you’ll be hooked, and missing some money.


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  1. blaze1974 says:

    Nice article. I like your comparasion of anime with ecstasy. Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Ghost in the Shell are really good. However, while I agree with your statement about horrible shows like pokemon and yu gi oh, I disagree with your statement about Dragonball Z. DBZis considered a classic for its subgenre in Japan and East Asia, and its writer is considered one Japan’s favorite manga authors. Its just that in America we saw a watered-down, hacked-n-slashed version with bad dubbing, needless cuts, changed-for-the-worst scripted. Naruto isn’t so bad either for the same reasons as above. But pokemon, digimon, yu gi oh, etc were just cash cows, as admitted by their makers, and they do give anime a bad name, which is sad.

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