In The Defense of Anime

anime collage
Collage by moi, using Adobe Photoshop. The character design in each anime is actually much better looking than that, it’s just that I suck at making collages.*

Consider this my official ‘coming out’ post.

*takes a deep breath*

I’m an anime fan.

This statement is usually greeted by a confused expression and a ‘huh?’, not the least because in India, almost no one knows what the heck anime is.

And then when I explain, I usually get a very supercilious ‘Oh, you mean cartoons…’

Which explains why I almost never tell anyone.

So, to clear the air:

Anime is NOT EQUAL to ‘Tom and Jerry’ type stuff.

I remember the first anime I ever saw was ‘Curious Play’ (better known as ‘Fushigi Yuugi’) and it was on the AXN channel.

I was about fourteen at the time, and I was quite shocked to see what exactly they were showing on this ‘cartoon’ on AXN.

There was plot, and death and action and romance and blood–almost none of which I saw in cartoons.

I was instantly hooked onto the genre.

Anime originated in Japan, so most of the series have Japanese characters and are originally made in the same language. The ones we see in English are dubbed, but some of them are better (in my opinion, alteast) in the original, with English subtitles only.

As a genre, it has greater freedom compared to a full length feature film–in the world of anime, you can have time travellers, and robots and demons and dragons–all sorts of things that would be difficult and would cost more money to show on the silver screen.

Anime also usually has a very strong plot running through it–most of them deal with adventure and action, though. There is usually a ‘quest’ that the protagonists have to go on, or some goal to be achieved–like in ‘Rink of Glory’ (or ‘Ginban Kaleidoscope’) the protagonist wants to be chosen as Japan’s ice skating entry to the Olympics.

The characters in anime are also usually very well drawn (and I mean that in terms of motivations and philosophies and backstories, not artwork) and the relationships between them can be complex–usually, there is love involved, and a lot of action and adventure.

The genre is also more realistic; characters die, and some of them kill and rape and plunder. This is because anime is intended for adults and young adults.

Watching an OVA (Orginal Video Adult–which sounds dirty, but actually just means a full length anime feature film) is like watching a movie. I challenge anyone to watch ‘Blood: The Last Vampire’ and tell me it’s not as good as (even better) than a Buffy/Angel episode.

Also, the ‘Matrix’ trilogy was inspired by one of the most groundbreaking animes of its time, ‘Ghost in the Shell’. That’s how wide a reach anime has, and how powerful it is, which should be enough reason to check it out, for all you Sci-fi fans.

Plus, some of the male characters in anime are unbelievably good looking. ;)

So, when Animax launched their channel in India, I was ready for them as an interested and intrigued viewer, if not with open arms.

Over the few years I’ve been watching the channel, however, I’ve become a fan of quite a few shows.

Below are some of the anime series I’d recommend. I’ll add more to the list once I’ve seen them.

_____________


Inu Yasha

The story of a time travelling middle school student, Kagome, and how she goes to the Feudal Era in Japan to collect pieces of the Shikon No Tamah, a holy jewel she accidentally shattered. Her companions include the eponymous Inu Yasha (a half human, half Dog demon) and others.

After having watched all episodes atleast twice already, I am now reduced to occasionally watching them whenever they’re on, just to stare at Sesshomaru.

I mean, seriously. I defy anyone to tell me he’s not good looking.

He’s the one with the white hair and the blue crescent on his forehead in the upper left, btw.


Fullmetal Alchemist

Easily one of my absolute favourite anime series. It deals with an alternate world where Alchemy is the ‘science’ that allows alchemists to change the structure and shape of nearly all matter.

It follows the quest of Edward and Alphonse Elric, who want to get their bodies back. Al lost his whole body while Ed lost his arm and a leg when they tried to bring their dead mother back using a forbidden form of alchemy. The series mainly follows the brothers’ search for the Philosopher’s Stone, which is supposed to be an object of great alchemic power.

The series also deals with the army–enter Roy Mustang–and through him, it tackles war and conscience and various other weighty issues.

The plot of the series is complex, and quite thought provoking at times. I actually got a lump in my throat at some points.

Almost anytime it’s on, I find myself gravitating back to watching it for the umpteenth time. And I’m still not bored. =)

There’s an OVA sequel, called ‘Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballah’, which was also very good. A lot of new characters and places, and it brought the Elrics’s story to a satisfying close.

And the artwork is amazing. No other word for it.


Fushigi Yuugi

The very first anime I ever saw, so I naturally have a soft spot for it.

It deals with a middle school student called Miaka Yuki, who gets sucked into a book she’s reading, called ‘The Book of the Four Gods’. There, she’s told she’s the Priestess of Suzaku, and charged with protecting a whole country from civil war.

But fear not, because she has seven spiritual warriors to back her up.

I must say that some of the characters in this series are quite irritating (Tai Itsukun and Chiriko spring to mind) and the person who dubbed for Miaka in English has a particularly grating, screechy voice.

But Tamahome is nice, and Nakago is a great character.

~

Now I’ve started with ‘God(?) Save Our King’, or ‘Kyo Kara Maoh!’ , which I quite like for its wackiness–I laughed to see Gwendal’s facepalm to Yuri’s ‘WTF? Demon sword?’ reaction. =)

People in the know, tell me, is it worth it to continue with this series (I’ve only watched four episodes so far) or should I it give up while I’m still entertained?
~

* Collage images from ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’, ‘Inu Yasha’, ‘Fushigi Yuugi’, ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’ and ‘Escaflowne:The Movie’. Some of them have been photoshopped a little. All of them belong to their creators.

[mood Sick and coughing]
[music|Inu Yasha OST: ‘Inu Yasha theme’]

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14 Comment

  1. SANTOSH KUMAR T K says: Reply

    People in the know, tell me, is it worth it to continue with this series (I’ve only watched four episodes so far) or should I it give up while I’m still entertained?

    I guess the only sore spot in an otherwise well drafted, crafted, and
    animated
    piece of work!

    and why would you want to lose a chance to get hitched to Mssrs. Sesshomaru and co., yes of course only after the rounds of interviews by the resident kings?!

    It begs to be asked!

  2. Anonymous says: Reply

    And you were smae one who mocked (with loopy tears in my eyes i say this) when i watched Dragon Ball Z.

    I shall not forgive you.

    Ag.

  3. Anonymous says: Reply

    Now no dragon ball z any more for me and you are enjoying…I HATE you.

    Ag.

  4. Sudha says: Reply

    Amul, FORGIVE ME. I have been so terribly remiss in my friendship.

    I did not realise the extent of your suffering due to the the Dragon Ball Z Withdrawal Syndrome.

    So, to tide you over: http://www.fanfiction.net/anime/Dragon_Ball_Z/
    Hope it helps. =)

  5. Sudha says: Reply

    I guess the only sore spot in an otherwise well drafted, crafted, and animated piece of work!

    I am confused. So you mean that the show is boring, or isn’t it?

    Also, I didn’t know you watched anime! Somehow I am surprised. But in a good way. =)

    and why would you want to lose a chance to get hitched to Mssrs. Sesshomaru and co.

    *sigh* Though Sesshomaru is wonderful to look at, I think even I have enough of a grasp on reality to realise that he’s a fictional character.

    But if I ever do slip up, you are free to chuck me into Erragadda. ;)

  6. Captain Jothee says: Reply

    Would you mind checking your gmail for once please??? I sent you a mail.
    Also, I finished watching Farscape : The Peacekeeper Wars, both parts. It was nice.

  7. Anonymous says: Reply

    Pardon the sudden bump into your blog. I was frantically searching for info on the anime aired on AXN India. I wasn't an ardent watcher of the channel back then, the only ones I saw were You're Under Arrest and Ninku. I can't believe I missed the channel airing Fushigi Yuugi. I guess by that time I shifted to Cartoon Network. I did hate CN for its tiresome set of repeats with DBZ and Pokemon and when Animax showed up, I lapped all the content in anticipation of more. And the channel, never failed to impress me. So if you don't mind, could like reply with the exact year when AXN India started airing anime because I just want to confirm if it was Star Plus that showed anime or if it was AXN because back then Star Plus wasn't the now soap opera tearjerker but a full fledged English only channel and they did air a couple of anime (which I now know as anime) under the title Force Five. I still remember how I used to rush to my granny's house to watch the show right after I came back from school at 3:30pm (my school ended at 3:15)
    And good to see you love anime, believe me, back then people let out weird vibes when they said I like Anime even though you were a teen. Now its become a common thing with Animax gaining popularity but I've also seen a lot of people give up on anime once they get older. They just leave with a 'It was fun while it lasted' tone. Anyway enough said for now. Please confirm the year and sorry for putting you through all this trouble. Cheerios~

  8. SSK says: Reply

    Hello, anonymous one! No worries about 'dropping in' like this, I always enjoy hearing from readers. =)

    the exact year when AXN India started airing anime

    I honestly don't remember ever seeing anime on Star Plus (and yes, I, too, remember fondly the good old days when it was a purely English language channel… *nostalgia*) so I'm guessing it must have been AXN India.

    I'm going by my admittedly hazy memory, but I vaguely recall the Year of Fushigi Yuugi as either 1999 or 2000.

    And good to see you love anime, believe me, back then people let out weird vibes when they said I like Anime even though you were a teen.

    Ah, people look at me weirdly even now. Especially now, actually, since I'm considered an adult and therefore above all this 'kids' stuff'. :P

    But yeah, I do love anime and manga, I don't think that shall change soon. Perhaps the genres of shows I like has undergone a shift, but I don't see me moving away from anime itself any time soon. =)

    Anyway enough said for now. (…) sorry for putting you through all this trouble.

    It was no trouble! Always nice chatting with a fellow fan. =)

    What're you watching nowadays? I'm on the hunt for a new show, now that FMA is over.

  9. Anonymous says: Reply

    Pardon the long delay. I don't usually leave comments on blogs (I don't even have a blog of my own =P)and when I do, I tend to forget about them. And I just remembered your blog when I trying to remember Cyborg Kuro-chan that animax aired and it hit me, a blog – I had left a comment. And so I went through my notepad with a couple of links to wonderful places and found yours :D

    Star Plus aired anime under the name Force Five which had five Mecha genre anime dubbed for US audiences. Most of the users were probably hooked onto AXN around that time I guess (unless I got the time-line wrong). I really haven't had the pleasure of watching Animax for over 2 years now. We have an old tv and sadly my folks are strong followers of 'If it ain't broke, don't replace it' and since the tv lacks an Audio-Video in, my hopes of getting DTH got crushed. However I do download anime using google search. I just finished watching 'Ten Tokyo Warriors' a 6 episode OVA and it was a tad bit boring because I was expecting to see the Demon King Nobunaga but he never appeared. I haven't gone through your entire blog so scratch off the ones you have already watched.

    My first non-Animax anime was "Ouran High School Host Club", then "Code Geass" that came highly recommended by an online friend and then he asked me to check "Higurashi" out and I must say its one of the best pyschological/blood n gore anime out there. Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni is the starting arc and Koro Ni Kai is the solving arc where everything falls into place. Then I watched "Night Wizard" (boring again due to the hero's repetitive moves), "RahXephon" (seriously confusing stuff, made no sense whatsoever), "s-CRY-ed" (I enjoyed this one), "Hundred Stories", "Ninja Scroll", "Angel Beats", "Skip Beat!" (one of my favorites. I don't know how and why but I just fell in love with this one, just like I fell for Get Backers). That's all I can remember for now. I never watched FMA or FMAB for that matter. I decided not to watch Animax-aired anime for a while and stick to whatever I find out there for a while. Animax tends to repeat most anime and the shocker was when an online friend informed me that it had aired Shakugan no Shana II instead of Shana I. It was the most silliest thing to do. That's it for now. I'll make it a point to drop by this place from time to time.

  10. SSK says: Reply

    Pardon the long delay.

    Ditto. :P\

    I never watched FMA or FMAB for that matter

    !! How can this beeee? Quel catastrophe! D:

    No, seriously, it's a great anime. Don't miss it.

    I'd recommend FMA:B over the first one, though. The series just wrapped up, so all episodes would be available online.

    Animax tends to repeat most anime

    Haha, this is actually something I don't mind – I tend to miss shows the first time around, and usually end up catching them on re-runs. ;)

    That's actually how I saw FMA, Blood+, Kyou Kara Maou, and about half the other shows I really like.

    the shocker was when an online friend informed me that it had aired Shakugan no Shana II instead of Shana I. It was the most silliest thing to do.

    True. I expected better of them, too, but. :/

    "Ouran High School Host Club", then "Code Geass" (…) "Higurashi"

    Ooh, heard a lot about these three. Not in the mood for a high school shoujo type show at the moment, though, since I'm already watching Kaichou-wa Maid-sama!, so no to Ouran.

    But since I only have the one anime on hand right now, I am looking for recs.

    I've been making plans to watch Code Geass for a while (I, too, by necessity download and watch a lot of anime :P) and perhaps Higurashi shall be next.

    I do have a question, though – have you read the CG manga? And if so, which would you recommend – manga or anime? (They can be very different, sometimes – a la Blood+, so it's not a totally stupid question. :P)

    "Skip Beat!" (one of my favorites. I don't know how and why but I just fell in love with this one, just like I fell for Get Backers)

    Haha, I remember watching a few episodes of Get Backers way back when Animax first started airing here…I liked it, but never saw much more of it, sadly.

    As for Skip Beat, I'm waiting for the manga to be scanlated – I read the author's Tokyo Crazy Paradise and liked it, but I prefer reading manga only when it's complete.

    I'll make it a point to drop by this place from time to time.

    I look forward to seeing you around! =)

  11. anurag says: Reply

    I'm Indian as well as an anime watcher. Fushigi Yuugi, Ninku, Flame of Recca were my first animes which aired on AXN those days. Animax never attained the level of greatness that AXN asia did.

  12. SSK says: Reply

    @Anurag: My gosh, your comment just slipped through the cracks somehow! D: So sorry for the late reply.

    I'm Indian as well as an anime watcher.

    Our tribe increases, yay. =)

    Fushigi Yuugi, Ninku, Flame of Recca were my first animes which aired on AXN those days.

    Heh, Ninku. I think it used to air before Inuyasha's first run on Animax India, so I saw a few episodes. Never could work up an interest in it, though, following ONE never-ending fighting oriented show (IY) was enough for me at that point.

    I didn't see any of the other shows on AXN, only FY; in those (10th class) days, the TV used to come out of storage only during school holidays.
    Animax never attained the level of greatness that AXN asia did.

    I disagree. AXN was never a purely anime channel, it had a lot of other popular shows around the same time ('Who Dares, Wins' comes to mind) so comparing it with Animax isn't really fair.

    And if you think about it, AXN airing a few anime shows does make sense, seeing as AXN and Animax are sister channels. If I remember right, Animax tested the waters with a few shows on AXN before launching a complete channel dedicated to anime.

    And I like the fact that Animax airs some anime in their original language with English subtitles, which is why it wins over AXN, for me. Some of the channel's in-house dubbing work is/was really cringe-worthy.

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