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~ intro ~ anime ~ manga ~ links ~
Anime is commonly the animated films or programmes created in Japan in the same way films or programmes are made with actors over here.
They have numerous genres, and you can find in anime as many subjects as you can in western live-action films. The anime is made in differing
quantities, such as full-length films, released in Japanese cinemas, OAVs, which are releases straight to video, and TV series.
Manga is the term used to desicribe the book form of the industry, itself a huge market. These graphic novels are often huge and complicated,
with many different plot threads, and writing akin to western novels. Some manga is turned into anime, and the process is reversed in some
The style of anime and manga is distinctive, the characters having usually big eyes and the drawing being very detailed. There are many different styles of artwork, individual to different artists, and so if you don't like one manga or anime, you'll probably find one you do. There is also a different humour in the stories. You may notice the large amount of underwear and schoolgirls usually present in anime. Nudity is also treated differently to western cultural output. I can't explain these differences, so I just have to enjoy it for what it is. Oh well. So what do I watch or read? And where? Well, the best place to see anime is at an anime club with regular film showings. These can be located using the anime web turnpike, which also offers information on conventions, held one or twice a year in the UK (and more elsewhere). The web turnpike is a great site for all anime topics, including shops and suppliers, series, films and everything else. Go there right after you read these pages. (Not before). So, the anime I enjoy. Firstly, because of its wide appeal and suitablility for novices I would reccomed the films of Hayao Miyazaki: Nausicaa, Laputa, Totoro, Kiki, Porco Rosso and Mononoke Hime. Firstly, they are all suitable for wide audiences, as they contain none of the pants-nudity-schoolgirl-depravity-nosebleed stuff. Secondly, they all have fantastic stories, from simpler ones to very complex. Thirdly, the artistic style is amazing and very detailed. The films are:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 film desicribing the fight of a princess against huge kingdoms that fight over the natural resources of a post-apocalyptic world. It is an ecological tale based on the much larger, more complex, and in my view better manga. The design of the film is amazing, with giant insects and fantastical flying machines. Laputa: Castle in the sky was the next film, in 1986, and tells of the search for a mythical flying castle by the sides of good, a girl and boy who befriend a gang of air-pirates, and evil, a military power who wish to use the power of the castle for ill gain. The film is a real tale of adventure, the design amazing and set in an industrial age, possibly in europe. In the next film, My Neighbour Totoro, the location returns to Japan for a gentle tale of the adventures of two sisters and a large forest spirit. The plot is simple, but the characterisation is brilliant and the artwork sublime. And a catbus. Following Totoro in 1989 was Kiki's Delivery Service, the tale of a young witch trying to make a living for herself in a city by delivering things on her broomstick. The film is set in europe, probably the outh of France, in a period between the wars, and features some of the best design of all of the films, including period vehicles and an airship. The flying theme was extended in 1992 with Porco Rosso (the Crimson Pig), a tale of an Adriatic seaplane pilot between the wars who happens to be a pig. He fights for the hand of a rich woman and for honour against the sea-pirates in this typically well-designed and artistically slick movie. Miyazaki's next film, he said, would also be his last, but this he has now taken back, and he will make another after the monumental Mononoke Hime (monster princess), another ecological tale telling of the fight between man and creatures of the forest for their home, and the fragility of the forest. This film is on a very grand scale, and a massive score written as ever by Jo Hisashi help things along, as occurs with all the films; Hisashi's music is innovative and characterful, adding depth to the whole shape of the film. Full orchestral sound is used as well as synthesisers and 'ethnic' instruments (gamalan sounds feature in Totoro, accordians in Kiki). Much more about Miyazaki can be found on nausicaa.net.
Another giant of anime and manga is Rumiko Takahashi, the author of such things as Lum * Urusei Yatsura and Ranma 1/2. She is mainly known for her manga, of which some has been turned into anime. I shall deal with this here. The most prolific anime series (of all time?) from her brain is Urusei Yatsura, literally 'those obnoxious aliens', about the adventures of Atura and his alien friend Lum. I know this is a very bad description of the series, but there's that much of it you may as well go elsewhere to look at it; try the anipike. Anyway, there are 195 tv episodes, 6 movies and 9 OVAs. Lots. This was derived from the very popular manga (34 volumes over 9 years). As I said, try the anipike, or here. More anime includes Ranma 1/2, again from the manga, and Maison Ikkoku, from manga again. See the manga bit. Right up to date now, with Studio Gainax's latest series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Even after 26 episodes, the viewing public wasn't satisfied, so two films were made, to provide an alternate ending. The series may appear to be just another giant robot show, but closer inspection reveals huge amounts of plot, mysterious people, propaganda, intrigue and action woven into the fantastically detailed and dynamic graphic style. It's gripping stuff, and makes you formulate your own theories through the series, but keeps you guessing to the end. The two films, Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion are an alternate ending to the series, replacing eps 25&26. What did I think of TV Eps 25&26? Well, they were different, but still not having seen the films, I can't compare. I guess I'll have to wait. Anyway, if you should watch only one anime series this year, make it this one. And make sure it's a subbed version; I havn't seen it, but I've heard that the dub is poor.
That neatly brings about the old-time debate of sub or dub; I prefer the sub, because I like the sound of the Japanese cast and I don't mind reading. But it's up to you.
One dub I love is Project A-Ko, the six-film series about the world's strongest girl and the world's stupidest girl. It is a comedy, in particular a parody, and so the more anime you've seen, the more you'll appreciate the in-jokes. Yes, there are giant robots, yes, there are panty shots, yes, there is lesbianism and cross-dressing, and yes, there is Colonel Sanders. You've just got to see it to see what I mean. A Manga release. More comedy, and two OVAs with a single story, it's Dragonhalf, a story about a half-dragon, half-girl, who tries to go to see her heart-throb, the pop singer Dick Saucer, who is trying to kill her. The animation switches between Super-deformed and normal (??) with bizzare frequency, and the humour is equally quick-fire and very visual. Mink also has very large thighs; I don't know why. Highly recommended.
First, Visit the Anime Web Turnpike to start; They've got the lot. Also noteworthy are nausicaa.net and the EVA FAQs. You can get your manga from Page 45 in Nottingham, or got to the publishers direct: Viz communications are one of the best. Keep clued up with an online magazine, ex or J-pop. Finally, Aeka says: "I am not a woman of loose morals!" Right.
more to come soon....
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