I never gave anime a second thought. Growing up, I saw some of the kids go through their Japanophile phases, learning what kanji they could and making premature plans to join JET. I really wasn’t altogether interested, instead focusing myself on UK style and trends (I still think I grew up in the wrong country). Fortunately for me, when I was in college, I was blessed with an extraordinary amount of free time and one of the most awesome video stores ever. I discovered that, in fact, anime is kinda rad. It’s really not all fighting robots (though, for reals, its like 98% fighting robots). One of the things I think people don’t like about most anime is that if you watch the series long enough, the story gets too complicated and falls apart. I actually love that shit (see, my undying devotion to Lost). So, if you don’t mind just taking it in as art/philosophy and not as masterful storytelling/character development, it can be pretty moving.
Here are a few of my old favorites and descriptions based on what I remember of them.
Paranoia Agent centers around a kid (maybe??) who goes around committing random (maybe???) assaults. It features probably my favorite anime intro of all time. Themes: Societal Pressure, Guilt, Delusion.
Released in 1998, Serial Experiments Lain is anime’s preemptive answer to “where’s the whole internet thing going anyway?” and there’s hip new lingo you get to learn like calling the internet “The Wired” or calling computers “navis”. Themes: Philosophy, Isolation, Technology, Conspiracy, Theology.
Its hard growing up. Even harder with an alien girl living at your house. Having a cool soundtrack makes it a little easier. That’s what FLCL taught me. I love how this series switches back and forth between quiet contemplation and frantic meta-anime style. Theme: Gettin’ Growed Up.
Boogiepop Phantom isn’t long (only 12 episodes) but it feels long. Creepy, non-linear narrative can do that to ya. This story features murder and the Angel of Death. By the end I was totally lost. Another tip: DO NOT under any circumstances fall victim to watching the live action version. You’ve been warned. The opening credit sequence for this one is among the worst, don’t let it dissuade you from watching. Themes: Death, Myth, Reality.