So I guess that it’s been around a year since I started writing for Agents of GUARD (happy anniversary to us!) I originally started out with the intent of only really writing about Arrow, but as I discovered how much I enjoyed writing about all the geeky things I do I wrote more and more about many different things.
One thing that I enjoy a lot is anime, which you can probably tell by my many (highly opinionated) anime posts. However, I do realize we sort of skipped the whole “getting to know you” phase with understanding the context of what my favorite animes are, so I thought this would be a great opportunity just to talk about a few of my favorite shows and why I love them so much!
My top 6 animes, in no particular order (because ordering them would be many hours of painful work for really very little gain, and before you ask yes 6 was kind of an arbitrary number):
Fullmetal Alchemist (and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Fullmetal Alchemist is the second anime I ever watched, the first being Inuyasha. FMA was on Adult Swim immediately after Inuyasha for a while way back in 2005 or so, and I loved all the promos I saw for it so I decided to just keep the tv on one day to see if FMA was as good as I’d hoped and there was pretty much no turning back from there. It’s the first show where, even on my tight college budget, I’d order every single DVD as soon as it came out so I could watch it again and again. My little sis from my sorority (who I bonded with immediately over her Edward Elric keychain) bought me the FMA movie for my birthday the next year, knowing how much I loved the series. And I couldn’t have been more excited when it got the Brotherhood remake, with a higher budget and a much more streamlined plot that stayed true to the manga.
Why do I love Fullmetal Alchemist so much? I appreciate the intense, serious subject matter and the way it is treated with respect while still presenting the show in a way that is approachable. Within the first few episodes we find out that the plot has some very heavy things behind it; it’s not about a spunky blond kid and another little kid in a suit of armor, it’s about horrible sacrifices with tragic outcomes by well-meaning innocents. And yet…the show is about a spunky blond kid and Alphonse the suit of armor. Silly things still happen like Al getting left on a train or Ed complaining about drinking milk. I love the random side characters like Havoc or Ling Yao and how they just keep popping up in the most unexpected ways. And the villains are really fun, and sometimes horrifying. It is the whole package, as far as I am concerned.
Fruits Basket is likely the least complex show on this list. It’s a cute, girly show about characters that turn into animals when hugged by members of the opposite sex, which is a plot that basically makes me want to gag because it’s so silly when I write it out like that. But…with anime, it’s all about the execution, and the execution is pretty good. It’s a sweet show. It’s worth noting that I actually own the entire manga series as well, which is better although darker in some ways. The anime is more of my go-to despite a few plot problems because it’s more cheery.
I like Fruits Basket because it resets my brain. If I had a bad day, I can watch a few episodes and feel better about life. Sometimes I needs something optimistic to practically punch me in the face, I guess. Even though I pretty much have the entire show memorized at this point, there’s just a lot of good stuff about it. It makes me smile and chuckle and the characters are pretty adorable.
Ghost in the Shell
If I could be any anime, I would like to be Ghost in the Shell. Majorly badass, very intellectual and mysterious, and super futuristic. Both of the OP theme songs are on my gym playlist because I feverishly run on the treadmill thinking about Motoko Kusanagi’s abs and wishing I had them.
I actually had trouble watching this show the first time around because I used to watch anime and do my homework, but multitasking and watching Ghost in the Shell doesn’t work because it’s so intellectual and moves so fast, and you really miss out if you look away and stop listening for a few seconds. I really obsessively love the cybernetic implants and the whole idea of a synthetic body. The title, Ghost in the Shell, is sort of a reference to whether or not the soul gets transferred with the brain, since Motoko is completely prosthetic outside of her braincase. The “Laughing Man” in the first season who was just seemingly a crazy hacker who managed to hack into all these people’s brains and replace his face with a crazy image (my GUARD avatar right now) just went down a complete rabbit hole plot wise and there was SO much more than anyone possibly thought was there. And then the second season we get into some really interesting political situations with a few sketchy characters. It’s such a great ride.
I have very complicated feelings about Eureka Seven which ultimately become total love and respect for the series. I actually really disliked the show when I first watched it, I couldn’t even get through it. Renton, the main character, just seemed too whiny! A few friends suggested I switch from watching the dub to the sub though, and it made all the difference.
What is Eureka Seven about? It’s basically a coming of age story for a young boy who leaves home. He joins up with this really cool band of people who basically surf on the air of this planet but quickly discovers they’re not that cool at all because they’re always picking on him, running out of money, and are politically in a sketchy situation. There are also aliens, religious zealots, crazy people, and a strange creature that is not quite a cat. Did I say mechs? There are a lot of mechs, too. I don’t know if there’s anything I can say to convince you to watch this show other than I am bawling like a baby by the end because it’s so touching. The context is very difficult to explain this article, though.
Honey and Clover
I was completely obsessed with Honey and Clover when I was in college. This anime spoke to me so much, and has so many different things to offer college students or people in transient phases of their lives. It’s an anime about a small group of students who attend an arts college and are at different places in their college careers and lives.
I have rather mixed emotions about H&C because I recently re-watched it and didn’t get the same things out of it that I had before. In a way though, I think that’s part of the beauty of the show. I’m not in the same place in my life that I was seven or so years ago when I first watched this show, so the same things won’t speak to me. We find ourselves asking through the series: Is there any point to unrequited love? Is friendship enough, and is it better than nothing? If I invest all my time and energy into something and it doesn’t work out, what does it all mean?
Seasoned fans will probably not require much of an explanation for why Madoka Magica makes my list. It is as mature as magical girl animes come, with smart storytelling and a plot full of twists and turns. The premise of Madoka is really: what’s it actually like to be a magical girl? A cat-like creature comes into Madoka’s life and offers her and her friends these amazing magical girl powers. The cat understands that being a magical girl is hard, so the cat offers one wish of any magnitude to be granted. This sounds super great to the girls at first: magic powers AND a genie-like wish? But then, after acting too hastily they find that they probably should have been careful about what they’d wished for. Also, all your friends kind of die in battle when you’re a magical girl, so that definitely sucks. It’s very dark, and not at all the little-kid anime you might think it is from the box. The series becomes very philosophical and rich, which is why I enjoy it so much.