Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nerd Hype!: The Trail talks anime

Two videos in one day? Hell yeah that means I don't update for a minute. Besides, I was on nights, quit your bitching.

Canada's own version of Nerdpocalypse descends upon the Metro Convention Centre this weekend for the Canadian Fan Expo, a behemoth of a Con that combines comics, anime, scifi, horror and gaming all under one roof. Clearly, my tickets have already been purchased and I will be there with bells on this Saturday morning. If I can get my picture taken with Lt. Cmdr. Data, all the better.

That said, I recall saying a couple months ago that I should do a rundown of my most beloved Japanese animated programming. With Nerdmageddon rapidly approaching, and because nothing else online interests me right now [whither Gord?!], I think I'll do it now.

The Trail's Top Five Anime Loves

5. Akira
I had the good fortune to catch this again on Teletoon the other night, and damn if it don't still hold up as one impressive piece of work for something that was made 20 years ago. The story of biker gangs and psychic powers in post-WW3 Japan was the initial hook that reeled me in, when a grainy fourth-gen VHS drew me into an obsession with all things Japan and Katsuhiro Otomo in particular. Back in the parents' basement are not only action figures, but an impressive [if incomplete] run of the coloured manga translations Marvel put out on its Epic line in the early 90's. See this before Leonardo DiCaprio ruins it in a couple of years.

4. My Neighbor Totoro
Every true fan needs a Miyazaki piece, and if I have to choose one, I'm picking this one. Two young girls move with their father to rural Japan as their mother recuperates from an unspecified illness [probably tuberculosis]. As they wander the neighbouring forests, they discover the Totoros, furry spirits who live in the trees, and a few of their friends. And that's the plot, for reals. Yet I defy you to watch this movie and not have the most sincerest of smiles cross your face. I'm a cynical sonofabitch, Windsor, and to this day I still want to ride the Catbus.

3. Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still
I imagine you don't develop an interest for this junk if you don't have at least a middling fascination with the idea of giant robots. My particular love has always tended toward the more cartoony designs of a Mazinger-Z or Getter Robo than the technological look of a Gundam or Evangelion. This unapologetically retro show about a new universal energy source and what happens when a terrorist organization causes it to fail combines action, comedy and moral ambiguity far better than a show about a kid piloting a robot with his wristwatch should. And if you've known me online for the past ten years, you'll know this show is where I got one of my screen names from.

2. FLCL aka Fooly Cooly
If I have one mission this weekend, it's to find a complete DVD set of this show, legit or bootleg. People have been writing stories about the perilous journey of adolescence since Dickens. Few people have illustrated it with a young boy being smacked in the head by a girl with a Rickenbacker bass riding a Vespa scooter. And then robots start popping out of his head. Featuring a soundtrack by my all time favourite rock band of any nationality, the pillows, this was probably the last show to truly blow my mind. Seriously, since it looks like the DVDs are out of print at the moment: if you find it, grab it.

1. Cowboy Bebop
I once saw it mentioned that Cowboy Bebop was an 'anime for grown-ups'. That's probably a fair assessment. And that doesn't mean it's filled with tentacles, it means the characters are grown ups, with grown up motivations and repercussions for their actions. An episodic series about a group of misfits who form a bounty hunter crew on the starship Bebop, there is little about this show that isn't perfect. Perfect characters, perfect fight choreography, perfect music [Yoko Kanno's jazz score is worth an entry on its own], and a perfect ending. You can get the whole series in a no-frills boxset for like, $50 these days. I suggest you do.

And for an honourable mention, most of the Bebop crew reunited for the hip-hop samurai throwdown Samurai Champloo, which introduced me to the wonders of Nujabes [the guy whose music annoys you everytime you come here ;)]

So that's it! No Bleach or Naruto here, kids. Just grown folks' stuff.


Blogger Aaron F. said...

I don't watch a lot of anime, but Grave of the Fireflies and Metropolis are at the top of my admittedly short list.

Sadly, I won't be at the convention. I was planning to attend on Friday but alas, 25 dollars just to get in is too rich for my blood.

11:11 PM

Blogger The Trail said...

Grave of the Fireflies didn't get my Miyazaki/Ghible pick only because I don't think it's the sort of movie you watch more than once. It's an extremely powerful piece of cinema, but I think I've watched it once. Even though I'll never sell my DVD, I don't know when I'll be watching it again.

Metropolis falls under my love of all things retro-designed [Tezuka is still the best character designer Japan has ever produced, hands down], but had to give it to Giant Robo in that categiry, since I think Metropolis' story breaks down near the end, and could stand to lose about 20 minutes.

And yeah, the con is totally overpriced for a single day pass, but it's my first year in the city, I don't really have a choice :)

12:45 AM


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