And finally, it has come the time to talk about animation. Well, to be more precise, Japanese animation… yeah; anime. All this while that I have been gathering information and writing notes about my favorite anime this year, I have been thinking how tough it is to decide which will be number one. My biggest question so far is: what should I base my decision on?
If a new anime fan wants to know which are the best anime out there, all its needed is a google search and you will get tons of Blogs that feature top 10-100 anime lists. Its not surprising, since all hardcore fans are eager to share their opinion on what they consider to be the very best. What is surprising, is the fact that nine out of ten of these “top anime list” coincide with their first three spots; Naruto, Bleach, One Piece. Sad, since these three anime -although great in their own way- are most likely not the best three anime of all times. Hold on! I’m not going to say Cowboy Bebop is the number one, my opinion in this case should be as impartial as it can be… I’ll try my best.
The problem with most anime top lists is that it is largely based on viewership, which it might sound just like the right way to go about it, but when considering that nearly all greatest anime do not cater to the common anime viewer, you have to reanalyze your choices.
Do we rank a story based on its plot, soundtrack, character development, style of animation, etc? Or do we just simply do it based on our personal opinion? When making your list, you will definitely only mention those anime you have seen and consequently liked, wanting to make a point on why those anime are the best of the best, which defeats the purpose of giving an impartial and honest opinion on if those anime are or are not indeed the best. For example, I have never watched Ghost In The Shell. This anime will never be on my list of top anime of all times. It is, however, on the list of many other people and I respect that. I’m not entirely biased to say Ghost In The Shell is not an awesome anime, I just don’t care for it. I’m not very interested in cyberpunk, only anime I love which falls under the science fiction genre is Ergo Proxy. The same goes for Akira. The animated film Akira is one of the most recognized of all times, and this is not my personal opinion. It was the door for many on becoming hardcore anime fans. And I believe, it will continue to inspire many anime artists. For me, Akira means nothing. I have seen it twice (a “second chance” kinda thing), and I can tell you with complete honesty it is one anime I have no interest in, I don’t even recommend it to others because I don’t think much of it myself. Not that I don’t think it’s a good story, and with one of the greatest main characters in anime history… but really, not my cup of tea.
So, how should I rank an anime in a way that it is neither pressure nor personal opinion influencing my decisions? I think it is almost impossible. It could be done by a professional critic, but how much of it will be his personal opinion and how much will be impartial? Even for professionals, I think it is somewhat hard not to be biased by their own beliefs. After going over this repeatedly, I have decided I will stick to my own way of ranking. I always do it based on how much it managed to entertain me. After all, I am not a professional critic, nor am I writing for a magazine. I am, however, part of a more important critic, the FANS.
As an important critic, an anime lover, and an anime obsessive-compulsive-maniac-lunatic fan, I will now share my own personal top anime list of this year with links to the review and episodes for those interested. I will only comment on my number one since I thought the rankings makes it pretty clear on how much I liked it. Just that number one anime I can’t keep quite about.
Just a quick note before I start; Really, what is it about Naruto? Ninjas? Please…!
1- Psychic Detective Yakumo; I was entertain completely. I love mystery, and this anime did not disappoint me in any aspect. The animation is good, the story plot is awesome, the characters are very well balanced. And its about a psychic detective, what more can I ask for? Nothing, its perfect.
I once read on the “Anime” magazine, a letter sent by a fan ranting about how mad it made her when people referred to Japanese animation as cartoons. She said it was not the same, because cartoons is for kids and “anime” is not. I laughed about it for the rest of the year!
The word “anime” simply means animation, and animation -however you wish to put it- is, without a doubt, a cartoon. It is something that has been drawn into a paper or computer, and put into motion; an animated film, or TV series. Whatever… a cartoon!
Now, on my research for the truth of the origins of the word “anime”, I found that there are different theories; and that in fact, the biggest controversy that surrounds the word “anime” comes from those who are questioning themselves whether to call “anime” any other non Japanese cartoon which uses the same style that Japanese cartoonist use. This I found to be very interesting, but also –in my opinion- very trivial. Why make mountains out of a molehill? Is the reason as to why we should waste our brain cells thinking if we should give the term “anime” a more general use a tangible one? OK… let me start from the beginning.
The origin of the word anime is not completely clear. One theory is, that it comes from the French language. This is in part, because in France Japanese animation was very famous around the 80s. Another reason is, that the word for animation in French is; “dessin animé” Which if we were to translate it word by word, it would be “animated drawing.”
Another theory is that in fact, it does come from the English word animation, and this theory I’m more incline to believe. Not because I am a Cuban-American, but because it makes more sense to me. It is known to all, (at least to all that know a little of the Japanese language and how it works) that Japanese have borrowed words from the English language and give them different pronunciation without taking away part of the English. The complete word for “animation” in Japanese is “animeshon” and the short version for this word is “anime.” Thus the idea that “anime” comes from “animation.”
So, my thinking is this; If we know that “anime” comes from “animation”, and in America anything that is animated -no matter what style or type of animation- we call cartoons. Then, why should we give the word “anime” a deeper meaning? When I use the word “anime” I do it to make a difference on what type (as in, from what country) of animation I’m referring to. Most of the time I refer to it as Japanese Animation, because most people I speak to about this subject –believe it or not- are not well inform on what anime means. If I were to talk to one friend that shares my same passion for animation, then, yes! I say anime when referring to Japanese animation. But, for crying out loud! Lets not get complicated and think that because it is anime then it is not a cartoon. Fact is, it is a cartoon/animation, here. It is anime/animeshon in Japan.
Please! I am not saying it is wrong to call it anime. In fact most people do, and its OK, because it is anime (Japanese animation) but it is wrong to think that its not animation or cartoon. It is wrong to think that it is not the same as “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” or “Batman,” or “Batman Beyond”. There is; “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons,” and countless and countless of animated TV series that are not for kids, those this make it anime? Also, should we change the meaning of anime from “animation” to “style of animation”? When you think about it, what exactly is the specific style of anime? Not to get too deep into the type of animation program that Japanese use versus the one Americans use, which have nothing to do with the style of animation really, but I have seen many Japanese animated films and many series, and they are -most of it- pretty much different in style. Example: “Vampire Hunter D” is different in style from “Spirited Away”. Another example? OK; “Eureka 7” is different -totally- in style from “Sailor Moon”. And like these examples there are many more. Same goes for American animation.
So, again; Is it OK to change the meaning of the word “anime”? I guess it is, since the world is constantly evolving and new words and new meanings to old words form every day. However, I will stick to what I know about its meaning, and I will use it in its right context. How are you going to use it?
My number one obsession, was, for a long time Cowboy Bebop. Now it has become more like an antique for me, something very valuable. I keep it close to my heart.
I don’t have anything more to say about this anime, which is, and will always be the #1 anime of all times. Well, O.K…. so I can’t really say that it will be the number one ALWAYS. But I can say that it was and it has been for quite some time now, #1 anime, and not rated by me but by the people who actually know detail by detail what makes an anime good, no matter what your preferences are. I have talked about this anime a lot in other blogs, so, I will only re-post here what I wrote years ago.
You see, I always wanted to have a blog where I could just brag about how great this anime is, but there are just so many out there that I felt it would be a waste of my time. Who was going to read my blog about some anime? Who was going to pay attention to what I had to say about it? Now that I have actually decided to start my blog -and not particularly about Bebop- I don’t feel inspired enough to start writing something new about Bebop. However, it is such a good anime, and my obsession for it -although it has subsided- is still there, so it deserves to be on my blog. So much for an original idea huh? Well it might not be a new entry really, but it was written by me and so it is original.
Okay so here it is, hope you like it:
I am so overwhelmed to the point of tears, that is truly making me lose control over my mind, and I don’t know how to start this damn entry. However, I feel that I must force myself and write about the only thing that has brought light into my soul this very morning. So, with heart in hand, and to the tunes of Steve Contes, Kanno Yoko and The Seatbelts, and lots, and lots of bebopperal inspiration (Bebopperal: word I have just made up, and added to my singular yet not very vast vocabulary) I am going to delight you with the most anticipated, and welcomed news of the year.
It has been two days since I received the magazine Anime Insider to which I am subscribed and, read with the utmost devotion every month. I hadn’t had any time (please, note that the word “time” in Laura’s vocabulary really means, lacking desire)… Did I write something about “read with the utmost devotion”? Hmmm, why do I get into this anyway? Truthfully, when I get a magazine, first I read through it superficially so I can get an idea of what the context is. Second, I go straight to the most interesting articles and read them fully; and then after I am done analyzing the whole context of the article, I browse the magazine two or three times more, and just like that I end my reading. Same thing I do with books, what can I say? I suffer from a deficiency very common in most Capricorns: lack of patients (yes Johan, now you know the secret behind all those books I have managed to read -_-) Of course that some books you just can’t read like that. Take for instance; if you were reading a story, you wouldn’t be able to read the more interesting parts before reading the entire book. Simply because you don’t know which part are those. The same reason why I just go straight to the last page, find out how it ends, if I like it, I read it. Now, going back to my madly fanatical story; I browsed the magazine as soon as I got it in the mail, but I put it aside right away so I could read it today during my lunch hour. Savor the moment, page by page, become one with the context. Why did I break up my unusual reading habit? Well, only, because in very big and shiny letters that took most of the cover’s left side these words were written: “BEST ANIME EVER!” What was the first thing that popped into my head? Hahaha… yeah, that’s right XD
It was at 11:30 in the morning, with much expectation and plenty of determination to not spoiled the surprised that I started reading my magazine like a normal person should. Two seconds later I jumped 46 pages, and went ahead to read the article “Simply the Best”. The only thing I feel truly proud of –when it comes to the matter of my deficiency- is of being able to read the entire article from beginning to end without reading the last page first. And this, is what I found out:
The article is about the 50 best anime shows ever. Of course, only one got to be the number one on the list, but we have plenty of time to talk about that later. First, I would like to tell you about those animes that form a part of my enormous collection, and were proudly and well deserving included in the 50 best. Just one more thing before I start listing them. It is with little joy, and somewhat tears in my eyes that I say Berserk didn’t make it to the first five. However, I’m glad is part of the 50, at least. Berserk has been a very precious treasure for me. It was the first anime I watched; the first anime to captivate me; the first to inspired me; and more importantly, the one anime that opened the doors to the most marvelous and magical world I have seen yet….
–The Twelve kingdoms; 42.
–Vampire Hunter D: Blood Lust; 38.
–Princess Mononoke; 32… Your favorite Johan ^_^
–Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal; 30.
–Samurai Champloo; 27.
–My Neighbor Totoro; 19.
I must make a pause right here, and say that from this page on my heartbeat incremented considerably. What a dork… -_-
–Grave of the Fireflies; 16.
–Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind; 13.
Now that I have finished listing those anime I posses and love, which made it to the best 50 but didn’t make it to the first 5 (Places from 8 to 5 didn’t hold any meaning for me.) I have to say, I was amazed to see that after getting places 32, 19 and, 13, Hayao Miyazaki still got even closer to being number one. Porco Rosso got second place, and let me tell you, even when it is definitely not my favorite from the Master of creation, it was very well deserved.
I think it is unnecessary at this point to say what happened next…. Yeah I had a stroke and now I’m at the hospital writing about this idiotic incident. Of course NOT!!! But, I was very close to collapsing. Cowboy Bebop, Watanabe’s best work of art was, is, and always will be the number one best anime in the world.
Obviously, CBB takes a whole page, and representing it are: my favorite anti-hero Spike together with the always sexy, infamous Faye, and a smaller picture of Ed and Ein… what happened to Jet? The article is about what makes CBB the best anime ever. About everything that forms part of its grandeur, and some facts, like how it was serialized for four consecutive years on Adult Swim. SUGOI >_<
I wish I could describe one by one, the things I consider the ones that make this anime so remarkable. However, I think I have done this in so many ways already, and so many people (not to say all of them) that watch this anime end up agreeing with us when it comes to its greatness, that I will only be repeating myself and what others have said about it. I think that won’t be a very original idea! So, I would limit myself to only give you a little bit of bebopperal flavor.
Why is it such an incredible anime? We can –with complete confidence- compare its magnificence with Hollywood’s greatest films ever, like for example: The Godfather. Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail says: “The Godfather is the answer to all your questions”. Well, I say CBB is not just the answer to all of your questions: “What are the first rules of combat? Shoot them, before they shoot you” (Faye) “Who the hell is this? Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky the 4th” (Faye and Ed) “Three things that I hate: Kids… animals… and, women with attitude” (Spike) “How long have you been listening for? Too long. Your story needs editing” (Faye and Spike) “Why do you have to go? Where are you going? I’m not going there to die. I’m going to find out if I’m really alive” (Faye and Spike) but also it has become a form of living:
ACTION/MUSIC: Kanno Yoko, The Seatbelts
ART LESSONS IN ECONOMY
Spike: “Uh, listen Jet. You said bell peppers and beef. There’s no beef in here. So you wouldn’t really call it bell peppers and beef, now would you?”
Jet: “Yes, I would.”
Spike: “Well, it’s NOT!”
Jet: “It is when you’re broke!” PHILOSOPHY
Bull: “Do not fear death. Death is always at your side. When you show fear, it will spring at you faster than light. If you do not show fear, it will only gently look over you…” DRAMA, LOVE
Vicious: “There’s nothing in this world to believe in.” (Of course he was only being sarcastic kids) IMAGINATION
Spike: “Hunger is the best spice they say.” KNOWLEDGE
Jet: “Everything has a beginning and an end. Life is just a cycle of starts and stops. There are ends we don’t desire, but they’re inevitable, we have to face them. It’s what being human is all about.” BEAUTY AND WIT
Also it has fundamental values like, honesty, loyalty, friendship, etc. CBB has a great sense of humor, and lots, lots of trumpet. Therefore I urge you to rent…No! Not to rent, but to buy Cowboy Bebop. Watch it superficially a first time, like if you were just browsing; then a second time, but just your favorite episodes; and last, watch it again two or three more times, so you can fuse with all that JAZZ, which is the aphrodisiac of the soul. Simply watch it, just like if you were reading a magazine Laura style. <—- (Oh! That’s right… Laura is me, hehe)
It has been a long time since I watched it last, and just by adding this entry to my blog I miss the crew and feel all nostalgic again… awww so many good and sad memories! Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed my old post of CBB.