Happy Monday! Congratulations on getting out of bed, pulling yourself out of a fun or alcohol educed stupor, going to work, and using this blog as a means to slack off at work. This is BaddaBing BaddaBlog and today I’m going to be writhing about anime and manga. For those of you who do not know, anime and manga are, in the most basic terms, Japanese comics and cartoons. Now, because I know that not very many people who read this blog are familiar with anime and manga (let alone heard of it until reading this), this post is mostly going to be dedicated to making recommendations for good jumping on series for the genre. Also I’m going to try to make this post a little more joke heavy, so enjoy that.
Anime and manga are a form of Japanese media that, depending on who you ask, began in either the 12th or 18th century. However, today’s version of the industry would not begin to take shape until after World War Two when Japan tried to reinvent it’s world and cultural identity. In the process, many international art and animation styles were examined and studied. The Walt Disney company in particular was studied during the process of Japanese artists and film makers learning about the process of animation. Ultimately though, animators realized that they could not thrive in the industry by following Disney’s model, and decided to make their productions more story and character focused. Suck on that Walt.
Since then, manga and anime have grown into a worldwide industries with fan bases that continue to grow. Since these are both vary broad and diverse fields, there are varying levels of weirdness and, let’s say Japaneseness, to each individual series. In the rest of this post, I’m going to be pitching several anime series that I feel a Westerner could pick up and enjoy easily, without much confusion or culture shock. For time and convenience, I’ll only be making anime recommendations today, I’ll probably cover some Japanese comics you ought to read next week, but it depends on how this post is received and whether or not there’s something else going on in the industry that I want to cover. Anyway, here’s some awesome anime.
Or Dragon Ball Z
Chances are, if you were alive in the 90’s and weren’t suck in traffic, hiding in a Y2K shelter, or being stung to death by Africanized Bees, you’ve heard of either of these shows. These are the shows that introduced many western audiences to anime and have arguably transcended the anime moniker to become their own cultural institution. Seriously, I’ve talked to people who love DBZ and have never watched or heard of any other kind of anime. I personally like the original Dragon Ball better, as it focused more on world building and adventuring, but if you like crazy amounts of action and badassery, Z is probably for you. The plot of both is pretty straight foreword and the characters are pretty typical, but these shows are considered by many to be the Grandfather of the anime industry, and they are loved and respected as such. Don’t watch the third version of the series though, it sucks. That show is what happens when a production company wants to keep making money, but the author of the series wants to stop making episodes. It’s called Dragon Ball GT, and while we don’t ever find out what “GT” stands for, I can only assume that it was “Giant Turd”.
This is probably going to be the most recent recommendation I make, as it has just been released this summer. This series is great for people just getting into anime, because it does not have many of the tropes, character archetypes or common storylines, that typically turn a new viewer off from anime. This story focuses on two “handymen”, Nick and Worrwick, who live in a fictional crime riddled city. The characters in the show are extremely compelling and, as such, the plot mostly revolves around how these characters arrived in their unique situation and how the developed their distinct personalities. There are enough events going on otherwise to keep the plot moving and I can safely say that no episode so far has ever felt too slow paced or boring. If you are a fan of mafia movies, character driven stories, or fantastic use of storytelling devices like foreshadowing and flashbacks, I would highly recommend checking this series out. Also, episodes in English have recently started airing, so if you’re not a fan of subtitles, congrats you lucky duck.
Sword Art Online
In terms of tropes and clichés, this show is the complete opposite of Gansta. This show is a hot Japanese mess, and it owns it. This show is filled with harems, main characters who cannot die simply because they are main characters, victories through the power of friendship, and characters that fit WELL within previously established models. This show is the “Friends” of the anime industry. It’s not well known because it takes a genre into new territory, but because it creates an enjoyable story out of standard, time tested character types. The plot of this program is that thousands people get trapped in a virtual reality video game and have to beat the game to get back to the real world. If that sounds cliché to you, that’s because it’s meant to be. If you want to find out what “anime” anime is all about, this is the show to watch.
Attack on Titan
If you were to ask someone: “Why do you like game of thrones?”, they would probably tell you that it’s because GoT is filled with great characters, a compelling story, awesome action, and tons of unpredictable character death. All of these elements can be found in “Attack on Titan”. The story follows a group of teens who join the military of humanities’ last society so that they can fight the monsters that forced humans to build massive walls around their last city to keep them out. These monsters are called Titans, and they are vaguely human looking creatures that stand anywhere from 5 to 50 meters tall. Yeah, it’s pretty trippy, but once you get a few episodes into it you’ll be totally on board. It’s a great show that goes out of its way to break traditional aspects of shows that are similar to it, which have caused anime fans to praise the show as being fresh and innovative. Also, the humans fight the titans with grappling guns and swords that essentially make them a more badass, steampunk version of spider man. If that’s not awesome, I don’t known what is. My only gripe with this show is that the English version is not very good, so I would suggest watching it in Japanese, with English subtitles.
This is one of my personal favorite anime and I’m suggesting it to first time viewers simply because it is an fantastic show that masterfully uses storytelling and literary devices. The story is difficult to explain as it is complicated and because the show features an ensemble cast and the majority of the plot is based off of their interactions with each other. Imagine the movie “Dazed and Confused” combined with the high concept and over the topness of “Kill Bill” and you more or less have this show. This show has gang wars, monsters, demons, philosophical musings, and is completely self-aware of it’s strangeness. It’s so beautifully self aware of its weirdness that its title is a nonsense word. “Durarara!!” is not a word or phrase in Japanese, its just a collection of sounds that the author felt fitted the story. I would recommend checking this program in English as the staff that translated and dubbed it did a great job. Seriously, watch this shit.
If you do want to watch any of these anime, there are several places for you to do it. Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu have these shows in with subtitles or in English between the three of them. All of these have been out long enough that you should not have to pay for a subscription or open an account, but you will have to watch some ads. I know that’s a bummer, but this is the internet and someone is always trying to sell you something. If this article has inspired anyone to check out these or any other anime, I have a couple free 30 day subscriptions on Crunchyroll to give away. If you are interested, leave a comment either down below or on the Facebook page and you may be the recipient.
Alrighty, that’s all I’ve got for today. Just as a reminder, there will not be a post tomorrow, but I will be presenting you with some Pop Culture goodness on Wednesday. In the meantime, you can like and leave a comment on this post, witness the majesty of the BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook page and like and follow us there for notifications on posts, subscribe via email for notifications in the right side drop down menu of this page, and follow me on twitter, I’m @LucasDeRuyter. Also, recommend this blog to your friends, it would be awesome to break 50 views in a single day, before this blog became a month old. Thanks guys, see you on Wednesday.