Yes, the exclamation point was very necessary. It’s helping me pretend like it hasn’t been more than a week since I last posted. A clever distraction that leads you right to the fact that’s day 20 of the Geekgasm! At least, it is in my world. Let’s talk about anime.
Before we really get started, I would like to confirm that I am, indeed, a Hayao Miyazaki fan. More on that later. Know that this is going to be a fairly strange list. I’m starting with the honorable mentions: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: A unique story about a girl who gains the power to literally leap backwards in time; Fruits Basket: following a family cursed to turn in to animals of the zodiac (I only like the manga, and I really have no idea why I like this one).
Okay. Without further ado:
Ouran High School Host Club
I know this is a weird one to start with. This is one of those instances where I like the anime, but not really the manga. Me and my brother sat down and watched this whole thing basically in one sitting. Well, what actually happened was I was bored and Netflix thought I might like it, so I started watching it and laughed way too loud, then my brother came to see what’s what and i started back at the first episode for him and then we watched it and had a beautiful bonding moment. Watching an anime romantic comedy together. Because that’s how we do.
For those of you who don’t know, have a plot summary:
At the ultra prestigious Ouran High School, Haruhi Fujioka looks for a quiet place to read and walks into an unused music room, and accidentally stumbles across the notorious Ouran High School Host Club, a group of boys who entertain the girls of the school for profit. When Haruhi accidentally breaks an expensive vase belonging to the wacky Host Club, she is made to serve under them until her debt is paid off. Haruhi is soon made a Host, but in order to pay off what she owes, she must continue to allow the Host Club’s customers to believe she is a boy.
There really is a fantastic amount of cross dressing going on here. I thought it would be cutesy-frufru, but it was actually completely hilarious. It does a very good job of making fun of rich people and making cross dressing totally normal. I love it. Also, the protagonist isn’t useless. There’s more bromance here than there is romance, and I am also about that life.
You can watch this on Netflix. They took it down for a minute, but last time I checked it was still available for instant watch. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
Darker Than Black
In Tokyo, an impenetrable field known as “Hell’s Gate” appeared ten years ago. At the same time, psychics who wield paranormal powers at the cost of their conscience also emerged. Hei is one of the most powerful of these psychic agents, and along with his blind associate, Yin, works for one of the many rival agencies vying to unlock the mysteries of Hell’s Gate.
First and foremost, I love the story. There are a lot of really cool things going on. For example, the emergence of these Hell’s gates made space travel impossible – everything that goes into the atmosphere does not come back. The sky disappeared, and what everyone sees sort of looks like the sky, but each star is sort of the life of one of the psychic agents, the contractors. They’re called contractors because there is something they are compelled to do every time they use their powers. For example, one character has to eat cigarettes. Hei is a badass because he’s not – technically speaking – a contractor. You can tell right a the start becasue he has no price to pay when he uses his powers. Throughout the anime, you figure out why this is and you get all the feels as it goes into stories about his sister and his life before the story and the detective who kind of has a thing with him and it makes my heart do stuff. Then, of course, there’s Yin. She’s what’s called a doll, meaning she’s essentially empty on the inside. One of the events that starts off the story is that the dolls are starting to feel again. I could talk forever about this because I have an intense appreciation for this anime.
This one was also available on Netflix instant, last I checked. Again, I could be wrong.
Hetalia: Axis Powers
This makes me very happy. I’ve only seen the anime (a lot of it is on Netflix). Basically, each character represents a country, and they embody the stereotypes associated with that country. There are a lot of offshoots of this, but in Axis Powers, the main character is Italy. Italy is almost completely useless. He cries a lot and only eats pasta but he’s very sweet and very good at art and music and somehow always gets the ladies. Germany is basically his babysitter. Germany is really strict, and the only one that ever seems to have his shit together. He kind of hates Italy, but they start to form a very funny friendship because Italy is so nice to Germany that Germany doesn’t know what to do. Japan is one of my favorites. He’s very quite, very small, generally confused about interacting with others, and is incapable of making a decision. The main ‘story’ (a lot of it is just random crap) follows Italy, Germany, and Japan during World War II as they try to beat the allied forces. The allied forces are just as dysfunctional. They are sort of led by America. America is obnoxious, eating and talking in every scene, and he has the be to hero. He’s just a little bit perfect. China doesn’t talk much, but he’s very stern and kind of sad a lot because him and Japan used to be really good friends. France hits on everyone all the time, smells bad, and I really think he’s always carrying around a rose. England is easily my second favorite. He has a lot of typical English stereotypes (can’t cook, thinks America is annoying, stick up his ass) but the best thing about England is easily the witchcraft. Yes, when England gets upset he goes to his dungeon and tries to set spells on people. Completely perfect. My favorite, though, is Russia. Russia doesn’t say much. He just sits there quietly looks very pleasant, occasionally mentioning vodka. When he actually talks, he’s very pleasant as he talks about how he can just kill everyone and they realize he’s the neighborhood sociopath. At some point, he jumps out f a plane without a parachute because he knows the snow will save him from dying from the fall. On the way down he yells ‘vodka’. Canada also shows up from time to time, but he’s invisible. Even the bear he carries around with him forgets who he is.
The story takes place in the “ideal” and perfect city known as “No.6”. Shion, a boy raised in the elite and privileged environment of his home, gives shelter to another boy, who only gives his name as Nezumi (“Rat”) on the former’s 12th birthday. What Shion soon discovers is how drastically life will change after meeting with the mysterious Nezumi, in whom he had saved one unforgettable, stormy night.
There is a lot about a corrupt society here, along with references in both scifi and fantasy. Basically, Rat is a fugitive because the government killed his people. Shion (white hair) helps him and as a result he and is mother are stripped of their standing in upper society and are forced to move to the lower part of town. Four years later, shit hits the fan and Shion is targeted by the government. Rat helps him escape No. 6. But not before Shion is hit by the parasite that’s been killing people. Rat manages to save him, but his hair turns white and he gets a pink scar from his face down the length of his body. Other than the really cool story, the thing that made this for me was the fantastic characters. They’re all well rounded-out characters who have very interesting conversations and very real relationships. I care about them and I enjoy them. Shion is very kind, and Rat has a great heart that’s actually not hidden too deep under his anger (they basically show two sides of the same coin: idealistic and cynical). With them there is also Dog Keeper, a kid of ambiguous gender (pretty sure it’s a girl, though) raised by dogs; Safu, Shion’s childhood friend (she’s always had a bit of a thing for him); Karan, Shion’s mother and a very strong woman – they’re (almost) all my favorite characters but I especially like Karan; Rikiga is kind of s shitty human being, his redeeming qualities coming from the love he had for Karan and his subsequent soft spot for Shion. Then there’s Eve. Eve happens because Rat looks like a girl and, as such, is very good as cross dressing. This leads into perhaps my favorite thing about this anime (even though everything is my favorite thing): within the story and the characters, the central relationship is homosexual, one of the characters is a ‘they’, and one of them likes to dress in drag. And none of this is presented as a big deal, or even really a major thing. They’re just parts of the characters, and I really appreciate that.
And then there’s Hayao Miyazaki. I love everything he makes. My current favorite, perhaps due in part to the fact that I haven’t seen Spirited Away in quite some time is Howl’s Moving Castle. I just can’t. That being said, I feel like I’ll save that for a later post.
What’s your favorite anime? Manga? Let me know in the comments below!
Have a nice day.