Molly Malone's Pub
7824 Louetta Rd
Spring, TX 77379
Tuesdays: 8:00 PM
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So Monday night, I'm prepping for quiz last night and I notice there was a question about Cowboy Bebop, which has always been my favorite Anime series of all time. I had to work on Labor Day, and my best friend was enjoying himself at a pool party, while I was stuck at home. My partner and roommate were watching something on Netflix I wasn't particularly interested in, so I popped the first DVD of Cowboy Bebop into my laptop and stuck in my earphones.
I snapped a pic of my screen to send to the bestie so he could see I was a happy geek with my feet up, and Cowboy Bebop on my screen. To my suprise, he responded in a way I didn't expect. I tried to tell him that Cowboy Bebop is a great series with a very poignant message, but he couldn't wrap his head around the concept of anime being poingant.
That's when it occured to me... People who are on the outside looking in have no idea what anime actually is! The market is completely saturated with what I have started to call "Bubblegum Anime." Stuff like Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Yu-gi-oh, Dragonball Z, Inuyasha, etc. These mass-produced shit-filled crapfests are all flash and little to no substance. They are marketed as "anime for the masses," because they have simplistic storylines, very little character development, and no real message to convey. They are the anime equivalent of boy bands -- Fun to look at, but nothing under the surface.
I'm sure people will disagree with my assessment. I have friends who are die-hard DBZ fanboys, but I'm sorry that show is just garbage. So, I think that's why anime gets such a bad name. All people see is the crap. In order to understand what anime really is, and what it really can be, you have to do a little digging. But fear not, I am here to educate you.
First, let's discuss Miyazaki. He mostly deals with feature films, which is great. I personally prefer the longer storytelling method of the 25-27 episode series, but Miyazaki is an excellent introduction to really great anime. Plus, it's very approachable as an American because the english dubbed versions of his movies have all-star casts of American actors, so it doesn't feel so alien. All of his movies are brilliant, however, my favorites are Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and My Neighbor Totoro. A lot of these used to be on Netflix, but they have since been removed so you'll probably have to find the DVDs.
Now, if you want to go a bit deeper we can look at some of the series that are truly great. There's many out there. If you find one you really like, the best way to find more is to look up series' by the same writers or producers. I would like to talk about my three favorites.
Wolf's Rain -- This series was developed by the same team that created Cowboy Bebop, and that's how I discovered it. This brilliant series explores the themes of isolation, the nature of belief, and how legends and superstitions affect your view of the world. Wolves were hunted to extinction due to a legend that wolves would follow a flower maiden to the promised land and bring the world to an end. As a defense mechanism, wolves learned to cast a glamour on themselves to appear as humans. They walk among us, seeking the flower maiden that will lead them to paradise. It's filled with amazing plot twists, deep character development, and a slowly unfolding, beautifully tragic story that stays with you long after the series ends.
Witch Hunter Robin -- An urban fantasy series about witch hunters, and their endless struggle to keep the streets safe from unliscences spell casters. This series explores themes of predjudice, and racism, as well as social acceptance, and friendship. It's actually a very exciting series with a lot of great plot twists, and great action scenes.
Cowboy Bebop -- In my opinion, the greatest Anime series of all time. It takes place in 2076 in our solar system. Because mankind has spread out among multiple planets/moons the police are unable to keep up with all the outlaws, so a wild-west style bounty system has been introduced. Bounty Hunters, known as cowboys, hunt down and capture fugitives to make a living. The series focuses on a group of misfit bounty hunters on their adventures. WHile this series is quite funny with a solid tongue-in-cheek humor, it's also quite sad as it explores themes of lonliness, and dealing with your past. The character development in this series is so well done, that you feel like they are friends by the time the series ends. And as heartbreaking as it is when they part ways, you can't help but relate to them as these four lost souls that found comfort with each other realize they no longer need it anymore.
So there you go... There are many other great series out there, but please don't just all Anime by what you see on afternoon TV. Just like our shows, they are not all winners. But if you put forth a little effort into finding the gems amidst the shit, you will start a lifelong love of what is really a great artform.
Oh... you know what? We had a quiz too!
You guys did awesome! Rita's Wofpack and AMKN battled it out all night, but Rita's Wolfpack established an early lead in round 2 that they never let go of. In the end, they came out on top with AMKN close behind.
See you guys next Tuesday!