Monday, May 1, 2017

100 Accessible Anime Guide for Fans (Part 2)

Continuing where we left off, this is the second part of the list.

Here we beginning to leave the '80s and enter the '90s with the highest concentration of great material relative to years covered. Don't believe me? This part  only covers six and a half years and covers 25 series. Things were really rolling for Japan at this time, with many creators finding their footing and the market opening up. This is also when the industry began its growth into the behemoth it was by the end of the '90s.

A lot of these are some of the most popular anime out there, but also among my personal favorites. I suspect this will be of particular relevance to those who really got their start in the "Japanimation" boom during the late '80s. I've included several of those series as well

If you're looking for good anime to watch, keep your eyes peeled to this list. After all, who knows what you'll find? Also, if you have suggestions of your own, feel free to include them in the comments. This is not meant to be the alpha and omega of anime. This is for anyone looking for something good to watch.

But enough from me; let's get into it from where the last part left off.

26. Kimagure Orange Road (1987)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 48 episodes
Studio: Toho Animation, Studio Pierrot
Writer: Izumi Matsumoto (original manga), Sukehiro Tomita
Director: Osamu Kobayashi

Plot: Kyosuke Kasuga and his family have had to move several times after being seen using their esper powers. Upon settling for the seventh time, Kyōsuke briefly meets a pretty girl who gives him her straw-hat and falls in love with her on sight. On the first day of school he learns this girl is his junior high classmate Madoka Ayukawa, who, contrary to his initial impression, is feared as a delinquent. Their underclassman and Madoka's best friend, Hikaru Hiyama, sees Kyōsuke use his powers to sink an impressive basketball shot and falls in love with him. Kyōsuke ends up dating Hikaru while constantly struggling with his feelings for Madoka due to his indecisiveness. Likewise, Madoka has feelings for Kyōsuke which she masks with her capricious nature for fear of hurting her friend Hikaru.

Opinion: You've probably seen a million of these types of series since Kimagure came on the scene, but this is the original. What this tends to mean is that this series was written before those that stole from it and solidified cliches and subversions that missed the point of the original series. Despite all that, this is still one of the best. You even get some esper powers for free! What more could you want from a series like this?

27. The Wings of Honneamise (1987)
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 119 minutes
Studio: Gainax
Writer: Hiroyuki Yamaga
Director: Hiroyuki Yamaga

Plot: On an alternate Earth, an industrial civilization is flourishing amid an impending war between two bordering nations: the Kingdom of Honneamise and "The Republic".

Shirotsugh Lhadatt is an unmotivated young man who has drifted into his nation's lackadaisical space program. After the death of a fellow astronaut, he nurtures a close acquaintance with a young religious woman named Riquinni Nonderaiko. Seeing Lhadatt as a prime example of what mankind is capable of, and understanding the godliness and ground-breaking nature of his work, she inspires him to become the first man in space.

Opinion: This movie is what put Gainax on the map. It epitomizes the best of the Campbell era of science fiction (even including weird sexual content!) in how inspiring the pursuit of the stars and surpassing limits can be. Great film. It's not talked about much these days, but it is well worth seeking out.

28. Robot Carnival (1987)
Genre: Science Fiction Anthology
Length: 90 minutes
Studio: A.P.P.P
Writers and Directors: Atsuko Fukushima, Katsuhiro Otomo, Koji Morimoto, Hidetoshi Omori, Yasuomi Umetsu, Hiroyuki Kitazume, Mao Lamdo, Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Takashi Nakamura

Plot: Robot Carnival consists of nine shorts by different well-known directors, many of whom started out as animators with little to no directing experience. Each has a distinctive animation style and story ranging from comedic to dramatic storylines.

Opinion: Like Neo Tokyo before it, Robot Carnival is a series of shorts by many different directors and writers. Because of the way it is structured it is hard to tell whether one will be a fan of more shorts than others, but the animation is quite incredible. If you're a fan of any of the names listed above then it is a must see.

29. Wicked City (1987)
Genre: Fantasy Horror
Length: 82 minutes
Studio: Madhouse
Writer: Hideyuki Kikuchi (original novel), Kisei Choo
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Plot: The story takes place towards the end of the 20th century and explores the idea that the human world secretly coexists with the demon world with a secret police force known as the Black Guard protecting the boundary.

Opinion: How this isn't more well known is a mystery for the ages. Part detective noir, part horror pulp, part action movie, and written by the man behind Vampire Hunter D and the director of Ninja Scroll, this movie epitomizes '80s anime and the reason it eventually grew over here. This is one that should be in every anime fan's collection.

30. City Hunter (1987)
Genre: Action Comedy
Length: 139 episodes
Studio: Sunrise
Writer: Tsukasa Hojo (original manga)
Director: Kenji Kodama / Kiyoshi Egami (final season)

Plot: The series follows the exploits of Ryo Saeba, a "sweeper" who is always found chasing beautiful girls and a private detective who works to rid Tokyo of crime. His "City Hunter" business is an underground jack-of-all-trades operation, contacted by writing the letters "XYZ" on a blackboard at Shinjuku Station.

Opinion: City Hunter is an action series about a bounty hunter who drives a cool car and fires an awesome gun. If that doesn't sell you on it, then we probably can't be friends. It has always floored me that this never took off here or was ever properly licensed. You could transplant any '80s action star into one of these episodes as Ryo and it would be a hit in the cinema. Anyway, if you like action movies, this franchise is for you.

31. The Fuma Conspiracy (1987)
Genre: Action Adventure
Length: 73 minutes
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Writer: Makoto Naito
Director: Masayuki Ozeki

Plot: The movie begins at the wedding of Goemon Ishikawa XIII and his fiancée Murasaki Suminawa. During the ceremony, the Suminawa family heirloom, a valuable antique urn, is entrusted to Goemon. Before the ceremony is completed, several ninja attack and attempt to steal the urn. Lupin and his colleagues fight off the ninja, but during the confusion, another group of ninja kidnap Murasaki and leave a ransom note proposing to trade Murasaki for the antique urn.

Opinion: This is the first proper OVA of the Lupin franchise and a real fan favorite. While Castle of Cagliostro is excellent, it is hard to give a good entryway into the Lupin world otherwise. This is probably the best way short of diving directly into a television show that tends to wear out its welcome quick. If you can find it, give it a go.

32. Gunbuster (1988)
Genre: Mecha
Length: 6 episodes
Studio: Gainax, Studio Fantasia
Writer: Hideaki Anno, Toshio Okada, Hiroyuki Yamaga
Director: Hideaki Anno

Plot: In the very near future, a race of huge, insectoid aliens are discovered traveling the galaxy. These aliens, which are known as the Uchuu Kaijuu, or Space Monsters, seem dedicated to the eradication of the human species as the latter takes its first steps away from the solar system, and they are getting closer and closer to Earth. Humanity has responded by developing space-going battleships and giant fighting robots. These complex robots—RX-7 Machine Weapons—are actually an advanced type of fighting suit, piloted by a single occupant. As advanced as they are, however, they are being used as trainers for a new weapon, the Gunbuster. However, being relatively new technology, they are difficult to operate (stock shots show pilots working multiple controls with hands and feet, while fingers rapidly operate switches on the hand grips), so pilot candidates are selected from the best and brightest youth on Earth and the Lunar colony. These are trained at schools around the world.

Opinion: For many people this is as good as Gainax ever got. It's part military science fiction and part classic mecha anime without much of the subversion Anno's future work would contain. If you're looking for a good old fashion mecha romp, this'll do ya good.

33. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 86 minutes
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Plot: The film tells the story of the two young daughters (Satsuki and Mei) of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan.

Opinion: This is one of anime's defining family films and one of Miyazaki's most popular. The childlike sense of wonder is probably at its strongest here more than in any of his films. If you're looking for a movie to show your kids or younger relatives, this is one to look into.

34. Akira (1988)
Genre: Cyberpunk
Length: 124 minutes
Studio: Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Writer: Katsuhiro Otomo, Izo Hashimoto
Director: Katsuhiro Otomo

Plot: Akira focuses on teenage biker Tetsuo Shima and his leader, Shotaro Kaneda. After Tetsuo suffers an accident and is bestowed with psychic powers, Kaneda, resistance terrorist Kei, Colonel Shikishima of the JSDF and a trio of espers, attempt to prevent Tetsuo from releasing the imprisoned psychic, Akira, and destroying Neo-Tokyo.

Opinion: Akira has suffered heavily from revisionism from modern anime fans, but don't let that dissuade you. It's philosophy is a bit schizophrenic and nihilistic, but that's not what makes it so well loved. It's a cyberpunk action film with some of the best animation you'll find in the medium. The original manga is better on the story front, but this works remarkably well as a film.

35. Dominion Tank Police (1988) / New Dominion Tank Police (1993)
Genre: Cyberpunk Comedy
Length: 4 episodes (first series) / 6 episodes (New)
Studio: Agent 21 (first series) / J.C. Staff, Bandai Visual (New)
Writer: Masamune Shirow (original manga) / Koichi Mashimo (first series) / Anzu Nemuru, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Mitsuo Mutsuki (New)
Director: Koichi Mashimo (first series) / Noburu Furuse (New)

Plot: Tank Police is set in the fictional city of Newport, Japan, in a future in which bacteria as well as air pollution have become so severe that people must wear gas masks when outdoors, the series follows a police squadron that uses military-style tanks.

Opinion: I'm not popular among Masamune Shirow fans because I think Tank Police is the best thing he's ever done. It's action packed, it's comedic, and it is a lot of fun to watch (and read), whereas I find most Ghost in the Shell material plodding and trying much too hard. But, hey, I might just be too simplistic sometimes. Your opinion might vary, but don't miss out on Tank Police. It's great fun.

36. Patlabor: The OVA series (1988)
Genre: Mecha Comedy
Length: 7 episodes
Studio: Studio DEEN
Writer: Kazunori Ito
Director: Mamoru Oshii

Plot: The story takes place in the near future. Robots called "Labors" are employed in heavy construction work. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police has its own fleet of Patrol Labors or Patlabors to combat crimes/terrorism and deal with accidents involving Labors.

Opinion: This is the first drop of the Patlabor franchise, and probably the most accessible. You can watch this separate from the rest of the franchise with no worry if you prefer. I listed several entries in the franchise separate since the all stand alone perfectly well.

37. Legend of the Galactic Heroes (1988)
Genre: Space Opera, Military Science Fiction
Length: 110 episodes
Studio: Artland / Madhouse (episodes 1-26) / Magic Bus (episodes 27-110)
Writer: Yoshiki Tanaka (original novels)
Director: Noboru Ishiguro

Plot: Legend of the Galactic Heroes is about humanity's distant future,.Two interstellar states – the monarchic Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planets Alliance – are embroiled in a never-ending war. The story focuses on the exploits of rivals Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen Li as they rise to power and fame in the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance respectively.

Opinion: This is a seminal work that requires quite the time sink. There's much to keep track of and a lot to watch, but it's definitely worth looking into. Thankfully this series has been licensed so it should soon be easy to find for the first time on this side of the pond. If you like your Space Opera dramas with heavy politics, you'll find it here.

38. Patlabor: The TV Series (1989) / New Files (1990)
Genre: Mecha Comedy
Length: 47 episodes (TV series) / 16 episodes (New Files)
Studio: Sunrise
Writer: Hiroyuki Hoshiyama (TV series) / Kazunori Ito (New Files)
Director: Naoyuki Yoshinaga

Plot: The story focuses on Second Special Vehicles Division (SV2), a group of Patlabor policemen who fight and investigate crimes. The TV series is an alternate timeline to the original Patlabor OVAs and films, with an all-new origin story.

Opinion: The series has a much more streamlined approach than the OVAs and there are a lot more stories to go around. If you want a heavy dose of Patlabor, this is the one to go to. You'll be watching for a while.

39. Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (1989)
Genre: Mecha
Length: 6 episodes
Studio: Sunrise
Writer: Kyosuke Yuki
Director: Fumihiko Takayama

Plot: After crashing his mobile suit, Bernie manages to befriend Alfred "Al" Izuhura, an elementary school boy enamored with a romantic vision of warfare and excited by Bernie's status as a mobile suit pilot regardless of his allegiance, and Al's neighbor Christina "Chris" Mackenzie, secretly the Gundam test pilot. As Bernie tries to repair his damaged mobile suit while hiding out within the station, he develops a close friendship with Al and slowly becomes infatuated with Chris, both pilots remaining unaware of each other's true natures.

Opinion: This is what you can expect from every Gundam series summed up in a 6 episode OVA. This is what they've been trying to get across all these decades. If you don't like this OVA, then the Gundam franchise is not for you. If you do like this OVA, then there is plenty more material to look into. This would be the place to start.

40. Patlabor: The Movie 1 (1989) / 2 (1993)
Genre: Mecha Action
Length: 98 minutes (1) / 113 minutes (2)
Studio: I.G. Tatsunoko (1) / Production I.G. (2)
Writer: Kazunori Ito
Director: Mamoru Oshii

Plot: Taking place after the OVA series, the two movies close out the series. The first film is about a series of random labor incidents across the Greater Tokyo Area puts the SV2 on the case. The incidents turn out to be part of a dead programmer's diabolical plot to create a much bigger rampage.

The second film is about a secret group of terrorists that engineer a crisis in Tokyo in the winter. The members of SV2's Section 2, who have been reassigned to other duties since the events of the first film, reunite one more time to stop the threat

Opinion: The movies are decidedly more serious than the OVA and TV series. If you're not interested in a more comedic mecha comedy series, these movies should be more up your alley. And don't listen to those who say to only watch the second movie: you'll be missing out on a lot of good content if you do. The third movie, however, is barely related to the franchise.

41. Riding Bean (1989)
Genre: Action
Length: 48 minutes
Studio: AIC, Artmic
Writer: Kenichi Sonada
Director: Yasuo Hasegawa

Plot: The anime follows one day in the life of Bean Bandit and Rally Vincent, as they find that they have been framed for the kidnapping of Chelsea Grimwood, who is daughter of Mr. Grimwood, President of the Grimwood Company/Grimwood Conglomerate.

Opinion: Marion Cobretti, eat your heart out. Riding Bean is an '80s action movie. That's all it is and every aspires to be. It's a really exciting one filled with exceptional car chases and top notch animation. Unfortunately it's not really well known now, but man is it a good one.

42. Record of Lodoss War OVA (1990) / TV series (1998)
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 13 episodes (OVA) / 27 episodes (TV series)
Studio: Madhouse (OVA) / AIC (TV series)
Writer: Ryo Mizuno (original novels) / Mami Watanabe (OVA) / Katsumi Hasegawa (TV series)
Director: Akinori Nagaoka (OVA) / Hitoyuki Matsui (TV series)

Plot: Record of Lodoss War recounts the adventures of a youth by the name of Parn, the son of a dishonored knight. Part of his motivation for adventuring is to find out what happened to his father, and to restore his family's honor. Despite his inexperience, Parn is considered the leader, who is accompanied by his childhood best friend Etoh, his friend and sometimes adviser Slayn, and his newfound mentor Ghim. They are accompanied by Parn's romantic interest, the high elf Deedlit,  and a thief named Woodchuck. Throughout the series, Parn comes into contact with friends and foes alike. His allies include King Kashue, King Fahn, Shiris, and Orson; his enemies include Emperor Beld, Ashram, and the evil necromancer Wagnard.

Opinion: The preeminent fantasy anime series. Record of Lodoss Wat is another series that was more widely known even a decade ago. To put it simply, Lodoss War is D&D in anime form. The OVA and TV series are two separate takes on the original novels, but there is no overall preferred version. They're both good. In my opinion, the OVA is the place to start.

43. Porco Rosso (1992)
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Length: 94 minutes
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Plot: The plot revolves around an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing "air pirates" in the Adriatic Sea. However, an unusual curse has transformed him into an anthropomorphic pig. Once called Marco Pagot (Marco Rossolini in the American version), he is now known to the world as "Porco Rosso", Italian for "Red Pig".

Opinion: One of the lesser known Miyazaki films, it's also a fan favorite. It's based on a manga Miyazaki once made, but it has an odd execution and sense of adventure that feels totally unlike his other works. Nonetheless, it maintains that heart and soul his work is known for. Those flying sequences are breathtaking. If you're a fan of his and haven't given this a shot, well, you're missing out.

44. Tenchi Muyo! OVA 1 (1992) & 2 (1994)
Genre: Space Opera, Harem
Length: 13 episodes total
Studio: AIC
Writer: Masaki Kajishima, Hiroki Hayashi
Director: Hiroki Hayashi (1) / Kenichi Yatani (2)

Plot: Katsuhito Masaki finds his grandson Tenchi looking for the keys to their shrine. Tenchi gets into the shrine, inadvertently releasing a space pirate known as Ryoko, who was defeated by Yosho (First Prince of Jurai) 700 years ago.

Opinion: The first harem anime, Tenchi Muyo still remains the best. It maintains quality by actually having a plot that stays engaging even through the laughs and the cheesecake. If you want more, check out the manga series that ends off the OVA storyline (and ignore the later OVAs) by Hitoshi Okuda. The TV series Tenchi Universe and the movies are also well worth your time. Keep away from everything else in the franchise... and all other harem anime while you're at it. They just don't compare.

45. Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)
Genre: Fantasy Action
Length: 112 episodes
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Writer: Yoshihiro Togashi (original manga), Yukiyoshi Ohashi
Director: Noriyuki Abe

Plot: The series tells the story of Yusuke Urameshi, a teenage delinquent who is struck and killed by a car while attempting to save a child's life. After a number of tests presented to him by Koenma, the son of the ruler of the border between life and death, Yusuke is revived and appointed the title of "Underworld Detective", with which he must investigate various cases involving youkai and apparitions in the human world.

Opinion: One of my personal favorites, Yu Yu Hakusho is a paranormal fantasy about a punk kid who ends up becoming the protector of humanity from those that would send them all to Hell. Shonen manga is a dime a doze these days and this is one of the most inspired and ripped off of all of them. It also has the benefit of objectively improving its source material, a rarity even outside of anime. If there is one long running shonen to watch of the Bleach's and Naruto's of the world, it's this one.

46. Slam Dunk (1993)
Genre: Sports Drama
Length: 101 episodes
Studio: Toei Animation
Writer: Takehiko Inoue (original manga), Nobuaki Kishima, Yoshiyuki Suga
Director: Nobutaka Nishizawa

Plot: Hanamichi Sakuragi is a delinquent and the leader of a gang. Sakuragi is very unpopular with girls, having been rejected an astonishing fifty times. In his first year at Shohoku High School, he meets Haruko Akagi, the girl of his dreams, and is overjoyed when she is not repulsed or scared of him like all the other girls he has asked out.

Haruko, recognizing Sakuragi's athleticism, introduces him to the Shohoku basketball team. Sakuragi is reluctant to join the team at first, as he has no prior experience in sports and thinks that basketball is a game for losers (in addition to the fact that the fiftieth girl rejected him in favor of a basketball player). Sakuragi, despite his extreme immaturity and fiery temper, proves to be a natural athlete and joins the team.

Opinion: After Ashita no Joe, this is the most well known sports anime and it is just as great. This is another series that has been swiped from over and over to far lesser results. The only negative I can say is that the anime never adapted the final arc in the manga, but the end result is much the same. This series is a love letter to basketball and sports in general and is just a joy to watch. Slam Dunk is one of the best of its kind.

47. Ninja Scroll (1993)
Genre: Fantasy Action
Length: 94 minutes
Studio: Madhouse, JVC, Toho, Movic, and Animate
Writer: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Plot: The film takes place in feudal Japan and follows Jubei Kibagami, a mercenary swordsman who battles the Eight Devils of Kimon, a team of ninjas with supernatural powers who are intent on overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate.

Opinion: Another film suffering from revisionism, Ninja Scroll is a top notch action film that helped break anime out overseas. Oddly enough, it was also far more popular here than in Japan. I can't understand why. They don't make them like this anymore (even though Kawajiri is currently working on a sequel) so you really are missing out without seeing it. Still holds up today as an engaging action flick.

48. Black Jack OVA (1993)
Genre: Drama
Length: 12 episodes
Studio: Tezuka Productions
Writer: Osamu Tezuka (original manga)
Director: Osamu Dezaki

Plot: Most of the stories involve Black Jack doing some good deed, for which he rarely gets recognition—often curing the poor and destitute for free, or teaching the arrogant a lesson in humility. They sometimes end with a good, humane person enduring hardship, often unavoidable death, to save others.

Opinion: An OVA based on the original Black Jack manga. This short series was actually made over near two decades spanning much of the material listed here. The OVA is the best introduction to Tezuka's material given the punchy run-time contrasted with the breadth of his work. However, Tezuka is also not for everyone. Give this OVA a watch and see if it is.

49. Irresponsible Captain Tylor (1993)
Genre: Space Opera Comedy
Length: 26 episodes
Studio: Tatsunoko Production
Writer: Hitoshi Yoshioka (original novels), Koichi Mashimo, Hiroyuki Kawasaki
Director: Koichi Mashimo

Plot: Tylor is a mysterious young man without a real purpose in life, a state of mind that is very hard to determine, and a knack for accidentally getting out of near-death situations with a childishly cavalier attitude. He sometimes does not even seem to realize when he is in danger.

One day while looking for easy money, Tylor stumbles his way into the United Planets Space Force and soon gains command of a destroyer, after resolving a hostage dispute and saving a retired admiral.

Opinion: Tylor is another show that was much bigger back in the day than it is now. That's a shame. This is an action packed parody and embracing of space opera on the level of Galaxy Quest over the length of a 26 episode series. If you like space opera and have never seen this show you really need to check this out. It's a classic for a reason.

50. Dragon Half (1993)
Genre: Fantasy Comedy
Length: 2 episodes
Studio: Victor Entertainment
Writer: Ryusuke Mita (original manga)
Director: Shinya Sadamitsu

Plot: Mink was born to a man who used to be a skilled swordsman and a female imperial red dragon. At age fifteen, she falls in love with a singer named Dick Saucer; but because he is also a dragonslayer, she has no choice but to get a potion that can change her into a pure human. Mink is aided by her friends Lufa and Pia on her quest.

Opinion: Dragon Half is like Tylor, only a parody of fantasy and much shorter. The original manga is a longer piece, but the OVA captures the feel well. It's a quick watch so you don't miss out on much by seeking it out. Few anime are as zany as this one.

And that's part 2. Stay tuned for part 3 when we get into the material that really broke anime worldwide. And where we begin to see the well drying up.

But that's a ways off. For now, enjoy the first half of the list.

Once again, leave comments about any missing series you can think of down below. Help make this list comprehensive for those looking for the best. I'm trying to make this series for those searching and not being able to find. There certainly is no lack of quality material to choose from.

Until next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment