The Gateway Drug..for modern Anime fans
The title speaks for itself, these are the shows that most fans have and I hope will continue to have as the first dips into the rich medium. I limited myself to the titles I have personally seen in this post as well, this will help me convey my opinions on the shows much clearly and hopefully the passion may just sip into your souls as well.
Ive noticed that most current fans got into the fandom through convinient access, Toonami for the Americans is the perfect example. The shows that were popular on there have become solid classics in the west and still sell well to this day. SBS and Cheese TV in Australia aired Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cardcaptor Sakura respectively, these shows have near legendary status here and finally DSTV Africa showed Dragonball Z and Pokemon in Zambia.
While all the mentioned shows are very good in their own right and served their purpose in planting the “anime wants” seed, its often the second or third show that fans see that are the deal clincher. Those are the shows that will make my list. So yes this is basically a “how to get your friend into anime” post.
The easiest way is if you know the said person is already interested in general Film, If it is diffulcult to get said person to watch even the biggest Hollywod blockbuster just give up. Most people interested in general film entertainment have heard of or seen a samurai,ninja or geisha in a movie or cartoon. Like most entertainment fans I knew Ninja before anime and that one Samurai show that aired late at night was pretty epic I still recall the openeing to this day, boy was it badly dubbed. Anyway, most entertainment fans have already seen or heard of a part of the Japanese culture so showing something created from there would not be a bad idea.
Pick your shows wisely, Im not going to show my Jason Bourne fanboy friend Haruhi Suzumiya first no matter how awesome I/we know that show is because believe it or not the culture shock will be really offputting. Pick a show that is as closely related to the siad freinds’ favourite genre, you know the saying “there is an anime for everyone.” So Here are my recommended picks for 12 to 16 year old adventure action fans, because that is what most teenagers watch.
Anime aimed at young boys and teenagers.
Its no secret that I got into anime through Naruto Shippuden and I still love that show, Its difficult not to get sucked into the story of the show. It hooks you in with its good characters and finds a way to coerce you into rooting for Naruto and his dream to become Hokage. The setting is also very unique and the action scenes are realy well done, the fights are not drawn out too long so it doesnt feel like you are just being taken for a ride in fact most of the fights happen so quickly that only after going through them in the manga did I get to appreciate all the tactics and techniques. Speaking of techniques, the special abilities in Naruto are very unique and flashy. Its hard not to get them stuck in your head, im sure we have all said “Shadow Clone Justsu” out loud atleast once. The dub cast is also very very good, Maile Flanagan does a perfect Naruto and the supporting cast is just superb with voice actors like Crispin Freeman, Yuri Lowenthal, Tara Platt and Steve Blum just to mention a few.
Bleach is also very similar to Naruto great voice cast, awesome setting and brilliant fight scenes. This is the show that will most likely be easier to give to non anime fans (is there a word for those? Harry Potter has muggles why dont we have a name yet?) The main character is your typical cool hot headed teenager and the supporting cast is so vast its more than likely you will quickly find a favourite character.
A more recent title that caught my eye would be Soul Eater, If I had to pick an anime title, any title to put on national television on the saturday morning that isnt Pokemon or Yu Gi Oh (and I have nothing against those shows) It would have to be Soul Eater. The Character designs look similar to western style animation and so does the general outlook of the entire series. Like most sucessful Shounen titles this one has a great cast. They are all unique and easy to get attached to, a few moments of sugestive themes may put off a few young viewers (not really) but cutting these out wouldnt hurt the story at all. Of all the Shounen titles to get a potential fan to watch this is the creme of the crop.
Admit it, We all love to see violence in our entertainment..well most of us do otherwise Micheal Bay wouldnt be as big as he is right now. Action is the best way to get someone into anime and the following titles prove me right.
Trigun is the perfect example of a well done action comedy, It is set in the distant future where the planet that man has settled is a desert wasteland and thugs, gangs and outlaws run rumpant in this Neo Western. The main character Vash is the series comic relief because of his pacifist philosophy and is voiced by Johny Young Bosch. Trigun is a fun, silly action western that is very easy to get into and is still very dear to alot fans that saw it first.
-Recommend this to a new fan if they like Action Comedies and Westerns.
Cowboy Bebop is very similar to Trigun in that it is also described as a Western, A Space Wesetern but a Western none the less. It is set a about a hundered years in the future and space travel is now more frequent and civil. Humans have colonised nearby planets and guess what? crime is still rampant and on the rise, so to counter this the police puts prices on wanted criminals and bounty hunters bring them to justice. The main characters are all Bounty Hunters and are members of the space ship called the bebop. The show has a little comedy, sci fi and some drama. It has a very western feel to it so it shouldnt be too hard to get into. Cowboy bebop is still praised for its dub to this day with Steve Blum and Wendee Lee gracing the main cast.
-Recommend this to a new fan if they like Action or Sci Fi.
As I have mentioned in my previous posts Full Metal Alchemist is the show that made me sign that anime otaku contract. It is still one of my top 3 favourite shows of all time. The setting is unique is and so are the characters. the story is solid well written and excellently paced. It is hard to not get behind these boys quest to regain their body parts or to save the people they meet on their journey. Both iterations of this series are good so go with whichever you see fit. If I had to pick a favourite from this list it would have to be this title and this is the show I always plug to anyone even slightlty curious about anime.
Recommend this to a new fan if they like Adventure, Action, Comedy or Drama
My recent anime pick would have to be Eden of the East. Directed by Kenji Kamiyama of Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex fame. The show is set in present day Japan and some of the US, the use of social networking to save the world is also something us the “internet age” can get behind. The animation is quite fluid and the mystery surrounding Juiz, and the other “Selecao” is so gripping it will have anyone clammering for the Movie sequels once they are done with the eleven episodes of season one. This is still a big seller for FUNimation and I can see the reason why.
Recommend this to a new fan if they like Mystery, Action,Drama, Comedy and Romantic subtext.
Series can be a bit of a chore if you are either impatient or just not used to the idea of “waiting for episode 3 before it gets good.” Anime fans have a lot of patience unfortunately not everyone is built that way and getting your friends to watch a series would be a hurdle just because of the length. Not to worry full length Movies and OVAs’ are here to save you! Its no secret that the general populous of the west was introduced to anime through Akira, while a select few had seen and enjoyed Star Blazers and Speed racer prior to this. Not everyone would have been patient enought to sit through weekly episodes of these cartoons.
To this day the most well know anime films are Studio Ghibli. Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, Grave of the Firefiles, Spirited Away are just a few examples of the classics that this studio has given us. The amount of money they have insures that the production value is top notch. The movies are qute litreally art pieces in motion, add a well written plot and voices to this and you have a very powerful emotional piece of entertinment. These movies are also very easy for new fans to get into, every time Im in our local anime store I always notice someone buy a new Ghibli film or atleast talk about it. Have parents or family that would like some good family entertainment? watch some ghibli with them it will certainly nullify that bad opinion they have of you after they caught you watching that ecchi show.
Recommend this to a new fan if they like Good movies
Sword of the Stranger is quite honestly the best Samurai anime Film I have ever seen. the animation is very fluid especially in the fight sequences. The main character is not the very cliche good guy, in fact at some points in the movie his motives might actually be questioned if you can call them motives at all. This really reminded me of that one Samurai show I saw late at night when I was like 5 years old. In all seriousness its a great film for action or samurai enthusiasts. If you get the chance do watch this in Blu ray you will not regret it.
Recommend this show to a new fan if they like Samurai, Action, Blood and dogs
My recent anime pick for movies would have to be “The best family movie ever made” Summer Wars! The story centers around a boy named Kenji that is forced to go to his friends hometown and pretend to be her boyfriend for her ill Grandmother. All goes well until the virtual world of OZ which has now become the hub of all things economic, civic and social with a user base in the billions goes beserk because of a reply he sent to a spam text message (do not reply to those see what happens) It is up to kenji and his “new family” to overcome this tragedy and save the entire Human race from destruction.
Everytime I even see a screenshot of this movie i get goosebumps, i was lucky enough to see this in the Cinemas and the number of school kids that saw this was shocking. This is certainly going to be one of those classic titles everyone talks about watching for the first time 5 – 10 years from now. dont be left out or leave out your friends or family. Its a very well made movie and stories centering around the power of family or love are very universal. Watch this with someone get them to atleast appreciate good Japanese animation, you wont regret it.
Recommend this to anyone that has a soul
Other Titles you can try are Code Geass, Ghost in the Shell (movie) and Death Note.
What are some of the titles that got you hooked onto anime and what titles do you think would be good to get more newer fans into the fandom? It makes me happy everytime I see or hear of a new fan because i know my fandom is not going to die anytime soon.
Here is an interseting Poll I found on Anime News Network I think it might interst quite a few of you that would like to know the statistics and numbers of Gateway anime through the years http://www.animenewsnetwork.com.au/survey/153/result
Also visit Anime Your Way for more blog posts centered on this particular subject its a great blog.