Just A Platform’s Ophelia Huang has carefully selected ten of her favourite Japanese Animes.
1. Cowboy Bebop (1998)
As the masterpiece of director Shinichirō Watanabe and the debut of composer Yoko Kanno, this 28- episode anime creates a mania around the world. It tells the adventure of a group of bounty hunters travelling in their spaceship named Bebop with the mission of finding an arch criminal spreading a virus on Mars.
This is Eden for music lovers and concert goers. Each episode is titled as a music genre, such as “Black Dog serenade” or a specific song name like “My Funny Valentine”. It also gives both laymen and experts the equal chance to look into philosophical questions like existentialism and the past’s influence.
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1994)
Heralding a new anime era with ingenious rule-breaking of traditional mecha genre, this 26 episode anime became the Bible for the anime faithful. The story takes place in future Tokyo battered by alien creature Angel’s attack. In order to fight back, teenage boy Shinji is recruited by a secret organization NERV to operate EVA, a huge robot. Judeo-Christian terminologies are referred to, for example, “Lance of Longinus” and “Adam”, “Eve” along with psychological theories such as “self –destruction” and “Oedipal complex”.
Image Neon Genesis Evangelion (1994) awee_19 via Flickr
3. Ghost in Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002)
Based on the manga of Ghost in Shell, this 3D dazzling anime was nominated at the 2002 Japanese Media Festival. It focuses on the mission done by an intellectual police group called “Public Security Section 9” in 2030. Well-known cases include the combat with hiker known as “The Laugh Man” and the protagonist’s childhood friend Hideo Kuze. The music composed by Yoko Kanno leads audience into an exciting and futuristic world.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)
Famous for its audaciously half-way changed plot and profoundly explored question of equivalent exchange, this 51 episode anime won several American anime awards. The story develops around the searching of a Philosopher Stone, an alchemy material having the power to let people get whatever they want. Brothers, Edward and Eric, starts the journey of finding the Stone in order to gain part of their bodies lost in a failed attempt at reviving their dead mother. Quote- collectors will definitely be immersed in writing down the sagacious and poem-like lines, while literary critics will be surprised by the relation of homunculi with “Seven Deadly Sins”. Villains are skillfully created with viewers able to sympathise.
5. Gankutsuou (2005)
2051, in a carnival in Luna, Viscount Albert de Morcerf encounters the Count and introduces him into the upper-class. Albert is impressed and fascinated with the Count and takes him to Paris but there is something he does not know about his father’s past with the Count which will have major implications. A fascinating plot, this anime has cutting edge design using a wide range of flowery textures as characters’ hair and clothes plus classic music such Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony. Based on classic French novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, this 24- episode series received a largely positive reception.
6. Gungrave (2002)
This 26 episode anime is adapted from the same-name video game with Yasuhiro Nightow as the animator. Main protagonist Brandon Heat, who was killed 13 years ago by his best friend Harry MacDowell, comes back to life and starts his revenge. We see Brandon’s early life as a member of a mafia association called Millennion. Exciting gun fighting scenes with funky creatively-designed weapons can be constantly found in this anime-noir. The discussion of protection and betrayal offers up thought provoking themes.
7. Trigun (1998)
Trigun was originally a manga created by Yasuhrio Nightow in 1996 and changed into animation in 1998. Vash the Stampede, known as “Humanoid Typhoon” is accused of destroying July City and is wanted for 60 billion dollars. In spite of other’s pursuit, he still travels to the desert and makes friend with Wolfwood, a gunman with a mysterious past, and two girls who sell insurance. The series is part anime part manga. Yosuke Kuroda’s screenplay brought a new dimension to the plot which impressed Nightow. The phrase “love and peace” becomes extremely popular in anime and manga (such as Gintama, Dogs) after the release of Trigun’s animation.
8. Mononoke (2006)
A medicine seller’s combat with ghosts in the Edo Period. This 5 episode thrilling anime is a part of a horror story series “Ayakashi”. By using traditional Japanese painting, Yamato-e, this anime offers a great visual experience. Meanwhile, cultural devotees will enjoy each episode’s title consisting of mysterious monsters in Japanese folk tales.
Image Mononoke (2006) Hanul] via Flickr
9. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)
Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo and written by Gen Urobuchi, this work bagged several awards including a Japanese Television Award. The story revolves around a group of middle school girls who make contact with alien creature Kyubey in order to get their wishes fulfilled. As part of their pact the girls should fight against witches.
However, they find out that they would end up by becoming witches. This anime is a revolution in magical girl genre, which is shown by characters’ realising their limited power and doomed fate. This anime also creates an exquisite setting by referring to Goethe’s Faust. At the same time, the usage of elegant texture in backgrounds and Germanic runes brings audiences to an artistic wonderland.
10. Gin Tama ( 2005)
Illustrated and written by Hideaki Sorachi and transformed into television series by Sunrise animators. Gin Tama is a humorous anime with worldwide popularity. The story happens in the late Edo era, when the Japanese government is controlled by aliens called “Amanto”. Gintoki, a former samurai, is now working as the boss of “Yorozuya” (“we can do anything”). The story develops around the daily life of Gintoki and his assistants Shinpachi and Kagura. It satirises Japanese society and makes fun of other animations, which differentiates it from other adventure animes.
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