Thursday, December 16, 2021

Anime Roundup

Time for another edition of Anime Roundup!

Tokyo Revengers
When a 26-year-old video store clerk learns that his ex-girlfriend and her brother have been killed by gang violence, he travels back in time to when he was a middle school delinquent-wannabe in an effort to change history. It's kind of like Erased crossed with, I dunno, West Side Story? Sons of Anarchy? I don't actually watch gang-related stuff, normally, but this show had a lot of hype and ended up being a pretty fun (and violent) ride. Question: just how many crowbar hits to the head can a teenage gang member take without going down? Answer: Many, apparently.

Cowboy Bebop
A classic show from 1998 about a group of bounty hunters in the year 2071 who bounce around the solar system trying (and usually failing) to scratch out a living while occasionally facing people and events from their traumatic pasts, I can see why it's considered to be one of the most groundbreaking and influential anime series of all time. I also sampled the live-action version, which I found to be a pretty cool reimagining/remix of the original. I know some people might disagree with me on this, but I think it's too bad that it's been cancelled (the live-action version, that is).

Komi Can't Communicate
A slice-of-life comedy about a high school girl who suffers from extreme social anxiety, this is a fun show that manages to deftly handle a variety of potentially sensitive subject matter while still being entertaining. In a departure from their usual modus operandi, Netflix is only releasing one episode a week, so as of this writing I'm not done with the first season yet, but rest assured that I will watch it to the end. Do Komi and Tadano eventually get together? We shall see! (manga readers, don't tell me.) Also, Najimi is just the best.

Crunchyroll has a category of shows called "anime about anime." After watching Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, how could I resist? Anime-Gataris is a kawaii (cute) show that starts off like a light and fluffy slice-of-life comedy about a group of teenagers who form an anime club at their high school, but then eventually grows into - spoiler alert - something much more meta as it goes along, eventually culminating in one of the wildest finales I've ever seen for something of this genre (and, as a fan of meta-ness, I loved every moment of it).

Princess Mononoke
Since the time I really started getting into anime (back in May of 2018, to be precise), I've watched over a hundred shows (at least the first season) or movies. No, seriously, I have. But I don't think you can consider yourself a "true" anime fan unless you've seen the Studio Ghibli catalog. So, to that end, once I got HBO Max I started with Spirited Away, and the moved on to this 1997 classic. The basic summary is that it's a story of the struggle between humans and nature involving mostly a young prince and a girl raised by wolves, but there's so much more to it than that. You really have to watch it to get a complete understanding. Just know that you're not going to get a simple good-versus-evil kind of tale, and that at times it will be hard to know exactly who to root for. It's complex, groundbreaking, mature, and totally deserving of all the accolades.

Android Kikaider: The Animation
Not sure how I missed this one? A 2000-2001 anime adaptation of the live-action tokusatsu show from the '70s, it's a much darker interpretation of the story that also takes care to patch a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies from the original (like why Jiro would often abandon Mitsuko and Masaru at the end of episodes). I have to admit, when I first started watching it, I didn't care for it - I think my exact words were something like "this makes more logical sense than the live-action version, but it completely drains it of the fun and the charm. It's just all sadness, all the time." But as it progressed and my mind stopped subconsciously comparing it to the original, I got used to the tone and by episode 7 or so (out of 13), I was completely enthralled. I especially appreciate how it tried to be its own thing (and succeeded) while still paying homage to its source material. Also, the classic anime art style is pretty nifty. Do people still say nifty? I just did.

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