Into the World of Japanimation

Prior to coming to Pune I was informed that we had to give a talk on a topic. Little did I know of the format of the presentation! Thinking that I should get it out of my way as soon as possible, I decided to present it in the 2nd week.

When I applied for the first Pecha Kucha, I wasn’t even sure what I should be talking about. I had two weekends and about seven working days ahead of me to come up with a topic, make the relevant slides and practise delivering it to my collegues.

I’ll try to not disclose any further spoilers about TWU to our fellow interns who would be attending TWU at some point in the future. But to give you a gist of it, all went well with my presentation although I wish I had gotten more practice so that even my perfectionist self would approve of my performance!

Since I haven’t mentioned it yet, let me not keep you waiting any longer. My topic for the presentation was:

*drumroll*

How Anime is Made

If that seemed like an anticlimax, my efforts to lure you to read thus far have been successful. But pray, read on, I will try not to disappoint.

To the rest, let me explain, Japanimation and anime are one and the same. If you hadn’t heard of anime before, it is a category of cartoon animation which is produced in Japan. It is quite a culture similar to tech, programming, photography and the kind (I’m sure I’ve missed out a gazillion more things, but for the sake of this article let’s raise our glasses to inclusivity!).

My itch to tell the world about how amazing anime is has still not been satisfied. So, I must go on. But hey, you don’t have to if you don’t find it interesting!

This article is about the way I look at the different aspects of anime and the tremendous character and richness that it has got to offer. In case you want to get into the process of making anime you could take a look at this incredible article which I used as the base for my Pecha Kucha.

When someone asks me to recommend an anime, the first thing that pops into my head is Cowboy Bebop. It’s one of the most iconic anime in the anime community. It aired between the Spring of 1998 and 1999 and being an old gem, you would find the older members of the anime community being more familiar with it.

The story takes place in the year 2071 when humanity has achieved the technology to travel in space and colonize other planets. The story revolves around a group of bounty hunters who assist the police in catching criminals.

The show is a really carefree and mostly episodic but a non-repetitive bundle of joy! It follows the life of Spike Speigel and his squad (that grows in number as the series progresses) who have a variety of different skill sets that aid them along their journey and provide a living for themselves.

I personally love the jazzy outro and the retro-style intro music. Cowboy Bebop is a fantastic example of an anime that can be enjoyed by all age groups. There are so many elements that you can find in the story, a ton of comedy, adventure and even a little bit of romance, not to mention the badass action scenes, with episodes exuding a ton of creative ideas that make this two cour series an absolute delight to watch.

I would say it has a good re-watch value as well. I probably watched this before my Engineering had started, and I am ready for round two anytime. The features that make anime like Cowboy Bebop interesting are not just limited to the elements in the story, but it is also the characters that make it such a memorable watch.

Speaking of good character design, Seven Deadly Sins is an anime that definitely deserves a mention. Its name has been etched into my memory as one of the best shounen anime I’ve ever seen! There is a common pattern among shounen anime. They start off with an amazing premise but deviate towards a niche, uninteresting story during the end instead of covering so many more fascinating elements that the viewer is eager to explore in the existing premise.

But Nanatsu no Taizai (the romanized Japanese name of Seven Deadly Sins) takes a different approach. It is super crazy, hilarious and throws so much at you that, the best way to watch it is to turn off your brain and enjoy the ride! There’s an enormous amount of action packed into this two cour series, and I may also add that it has its fair share of light-hearted ecchi humor. That said, I would also like to put it out there that it’s got great reviews, but not an appeal that was as overwhelming as what I experienced.

I usually stick to a more serious genre of anime, not that that they do not involve comedy (just not slapstick comedy). The Seven Deadly Sins proved to be an outstanding exception in my anime comfort zone, and at the end of the day I learned something new about myself.

If you thought anime was restricted only to TV series, well, guess what! Some of the greatest creations in the anime industry are the anime movies!

You might have heard of the popular Studio Ghibli, famous for their movies like My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc. At first, they might seem like they are suitable for 6 year olds. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t watch them! People of different ages draw different insights, meanings and fun out the movies. But all the same, for everyone they could be an incredibly pleasant and enjoyable watch. I have watched most of the Ghibli movies along with my mum. Both of us are very fond of them!

Ghibli movies are known for their fantastical stories that capture our imagination and detailed and passionately drawn art that gives way to scenic visuals and characters that one misses and holds dear to one’s heart once the movie is over.

They span across a wide variety of genres, from a love story to a tragic loss, from a real world documentary to fictional islands floating above the clouds! I would be able to watch any number of them at a time.

One of my favorites from Studio Ghibli is a film called My Neighbour Totoro. It’s really a very light-hearted film to watch. It’s about two little girls, Satsuki and Mei and their Dad who decide to relocate to the countryside to be closer to their mother who is hospitalized. The story revolves around the little ones and the extraordinary creatures they encounter living peacefully in their surroundings. It’s a very beautiful story with beautifully drawn art.

Tonari no Totoro (romanized form of the Japanese title of My Neighbour Totoro) was aired in the year 1988.

One of Ghibli’s underdog titles is Whisper of the Heart although its Japanese name “Mimi no Sumaseba” (romanized) translates directly to “If you listen carefully”. It is one of the rare Ghibli titles that has romance at its heart and is executed stunningly well. According to MyAnimeList it is a shoujo movie.

Unfortunately, I remember very little of it. Which means it is time to re-watch! I might remember things vaguely, but I do remember that I had absolutely loved it! Also, I take a minute and listen to Country Roads by John Denver anytime I think of Whisper of the Heart. Here are some enlightening facts from MyAnimeList:

Mimi wo Sumaseba is the highest-grossing Japanese film of 1995. It is also the first Studio Ghibli film that was directed by someone other than Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, and the first Japanese film that used the Dolby Digital sound format.

While we are on the subject of Romance, let’s take a dive into one of the most heart-breaking love stories I have ever seen. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso takes the cake. If you’ve watched that series, just taking in the significance of the movie title might moisten your eyes. What can I tell you, it’s so beautiful and sad at the same time.

Your Lie in April (synonymous with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) brings out the power of music in transporting you into the harmonious mind of the player of the musical instrument and letting to get a glimpse of their emotions. As a fan of deep themes, Your Lie in April was an absolute delight to watch! If you are touched by it like I was, you might even take up to playing a musical instrument.

If you are into sword fighting, and can tolerate gore you might like this anime movie called Sword of the Stranger. One of my friends had suggested it to me. It is honestly not a very popular film, since I haven’t heard a whole lot about it, but it is really good nevertheless. The animation and orchestration of the sword fighting are really top of the class. It’s really more of a thriller than story-centric and I found myself enjoying the film even though the story seemed a little difficult to grasp at the time. I would sum it up as an action flick, and just as with every other action flick this one has a good re-watch value.

Possibly a more story-centric samurai anime would be Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal. It is an OVA that gives birth to the popular Samurai X franchise. I won’t go into details because I can’t remember a whole lot, but I remember that it has got a lot more gore and bloodshed. I wasn’t really able to stomach that much violence, but that’s just me. It still has got pretty good reviews.

Steins;Gate might not have a great re-watch value but it’s number one on my “mind-blown” list. It’s about time paradoxes, time machines, and a really confusing plot which has got me goosebumps plenty of times through the course of the series! I would say that it’s a must watch. The outro music gives me shivers every time! Also, don’t miss the specials at the end of the series, they are totally worth it.

The re-watch value of this particular anime is less because once you know how it’s going to play out it won’t “thrill” you like it did the first time. So I’d recommend you to jump right into this masterpiece rather than reading reviews or summaries first. During the middle of the series it might get a little boring, but keep at it, because it will get interesting very soon. If you need more convincing, let me say this: it’s captivating enough to make you believe that time machines do exist (oh yes, they do!).

My most recently watched anime is coincidentally the highest rated on MyAnimeList. I do agree with the community on this one. It’s an extremely engaging story combined with stunning art-style and these elements together combined have resulted in a masterpiece created by the one and only Makoto Shinkai. The name of this masterpiece is Kimi no Na Wa.

Kimi no Na Wa was a highly anticipated movie prior to its release and once it was released people instantly started falling in love with it. It overtook the long standing Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood at first place. I believe that Makoto Shinkai has been on a course of progressive improvement due to the experience gained from his previous creations such as Garden of Words and 5 Centimeter Per Second but he hit the nail on the head with Kimi No na Wa.

I won’t give away anything even for this one, because I care about you and I don’t want to spoil the fun for you! I’ll say just this: it’s a very sentimental story which has a delicate way of tugging at your heart and reminding yourself that if an anime can be so beautiful, how much beautiful can be reality.