Category Archives: anime

Japan’s Pop Power radio documentary

One of my librarian colleagues just tipped me off to this documentary from American Radioworks about the pop cultural power of Japan. You can download it here. Reporters visit stores in Japan, go to an anime convention, talk about youth culture, and comment on the economics of manga and anime. You can listen to a teenage reporter talk about her reading habits as she goes to a mall bookstore. She treats a waldenbooks as her manga library, and names the series that she likes. Cultural studies professors also comment about the spread of Japanese pop culture. The material is mostly presented at an introductory level, but it is really interesting hearing the comments from the teens who are into manga. You can read more at the program’s website.

Ask Tangognat: Anime Collection

Rebecca writes:

Another comics-related question! This time, it’s about anime movies! My library is seriously lacking any besides Yu-Gi-Oh!, and last week I went on a binge and bought a couple of volumes of Full Metal Alchemist and Samurai Seven – what else could I add to our collection?

I think Full Metal Alchemist and Samurai Seven are great series to start off your anime collection. I’ll list a few more that you might want to consider. Some of my suggestions will probably skew towards shows that are more suitable for adult audiences. This is a great time to be building an anime collection, some of the series that used to cost a ton of money are being reissued as lower cost thinpack box sets.


I think you can’t go wrong with anything by Hayao Miyazaki. Most of his movies are modern day classics and are suitable for all ages.

Neon Genesis Evangelion
One of the most influential giant robot shows of recent years.

Cowboy Bebop – This was the show that got me back into anime again! Great space opera with a wonderful soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. (Rebecca already has a few volumes of this, but I think she should get the whole series, and the movie!)

The Vision of Escaflowne – Hitomi is transported from Earth to a magical world called Gaia, where she meets Van, a dispossesed prince who struggles to reclaim his country with a mystical suit of armor. This is one of my favorite series, I watch it at least once a year.


Anime that makes you go Huh?!

I think every collection needs at least one anime title that veers towards the somewhat insane and incomprehensible. So you might want to pick one of these titles:

FLCL, Paranoia Agent, or Serial Experiments Lain.

Artsy Anime

Some of the titles that I think of as being of greater artistic merit are Perfect Blue, Metropolis, and Grave of the Fireflies. I haven’t seen Millenium Actress, but from what I hear it belongs on this list too.

Just Entertaining

These are some of the series that I’ve enjoyed watching over the past few years:

Revolutionary Girl Utena
Princess Tutu
Last Exile
Witch Hunter Robin
Fushigi Yugi
Samurai Champloo
Haibane Renmei
Scrapped Princess
Read or Die, both the TV series and the OVA
Ruroni Kenshin – both the TV series and the OVA
I just started watching Gankutsuou – The Count of Monte Christo.

I hope this gives you a few ideas! If any of you have more suggestions for Rebecca, please post a comment.

Princess Tutu

Princess Tutu is a yummy ballet flavoured fairy tale goulash. It is also one of the weirdest anime I’ve watched since Revolutionary Girl Utena. Both series share an element of metafiction, a preoccupation with princes, and they pile on the symbolism.

Princess Tutu begins with the story of a girl named Duck who attends ballet school. The girl duck is actually a real duck, who fell in love with a prince she saw one day at her pond. A mysterious man named Drosselmeyer granted her wish to become human. Duck’s prince is an older ballet student named Mytho, who has a curiously blank personality. Mytho’s constant companion is Fakir, a boy who seems so protective he is almost acting as a jailer. Mytho’s dancing partner is Rue, the most talented girl in school.

Duck is one of the worst ballet students, and her teacher Mr. Cat (he is literally a walking, talking ballet dance instructor cat) is constantly threatning to punish her by forcing her to marry him. It turns out that many people at ballet school represent archetypes of a fairy tale about a prince, a knight, a malevolent raven, and Princess Tutu. As the Prince, Mytho’s heart has been sacrificed, splintered into pieces and scattered about as part of a previous battle to fight the raven. Duck’s mission is to locate the missing pieces of Mytho’s heart and return them to him.

This is an unabashedly girly show, with plenty of feathers, roses, and ballet. It doesn’t get more girly than Princess Tutu’s method of overcoming her obstacles with the power of the dance! Duck has to hide her dual identites as a water fowl and Princess Tutu. If Princess Tutu ever shares her true feelings with her prince, she’ll turn into a speck of light and vanish. Since the show is steeped in ballet, it does have an excellent classical music soundtrack. Frequently a dance or story from a particular ballet will be featured in an episode. This is an excellent show if you enjoy stories with fairy tale elements and transforming ballet dancing princesses. There are elements of slapstick humor, as sometimes Duck’s true nature manifests itself after she’s transformed. The story seems to grow more complex as the series continues, with characters who initially act as antagonists to Tutu turning out to have complex motivations and stories of their own.

All Ages Comics

I’m sort of bummed that the All Ages Blog doesn’t seem to be updating anymore, because when it was active it did a good job of rounding up news about all ages comics.

Tegan points to the news that Castle Waiting is indeed coming back from Fantagraphics, more info at Studio Olio.

Review of all-ages comic Mouse Guard at Precocious Curmudgeon and another one from Focused Totality, it looks like it is well worth checking out even though it sounds a little similar to the Redwall books. Be on the alert for the collected editions of Mouse Guard and Polly and the Pirates, they seem like great comics to add to a library collection of comics for kids.

This isn’t a comic, but you can download the trailer for the anime adaptation of Earthsea at Ghibli World {via} Here are some screencaps if you don’t want to download the trailer.

SMAP = Gatchaman, Samurai Seven on IFC, ES by Fuyumi Soryo

I’m not sure what to think about this series of commercials starring SMAP as Gatchaman (link may try to install weird active-x thing on your browser), but it makes a strange sort of sense that the boy band who used to wear feathered outfits would protray anime heroes with bird shaped helmets. I guess the commercials used to be online a few years ago, and now they are making a repeat appearance on the web.{via}

Samurai 7, one of the anime shows that I’m currently watching, is going to start airing on IFC. It is a groovy adaptation of The Seven Samurai set in a dystopic future.

Here’s the March manga release list from Love Manga
. I’m looking forward to the new title ES (Eternal Sabbath) from Del Rey Manga. I liked Mars a lot and ES is another series by Fuyumi Soryo so I’m going to at least check out the first volume. It sounds like the storyline is fairly dark, with a focus on creepy genetic engineering. Here’s a web page about the Italian edition of ES and this page has a scan of a couple pages.