I love cartoons.
Growing up, I anxiously awaited Saturday mornings. Who here remembers the clamation bits that have the jingle “After these messages, we’ll be ri-ght back!” While most of these were pure entertainment, many had deeper meanings for older viewers to interpret. Case in point, Bugs Bunny. Seriously. That dude taught me about the social climate of the day, and that was before I even knew what social climate was.
However, there are certain types of animation that have resonated with me over the years. In my second instalment of the WHAT YOU KNOW Series, I observed patterns in shows I liked and details about each that draw me in to watch and rewatch the respective series.
This week on FRIDAY FORAGE, we discuss five of my favorite anime (usually Japanese-produced animation) for your potential–or repeated–viewing pleasure.
I love the mythos, I love the character dynamics. There’s action and comedy in this Nickelodeon series.
How can I explain this… it’s like taking The Goonies, The Amazing Race, and Iron Chef, tossing them into a blender of awesome, and pouring it all out in 19th century China. I still remember one of the characters exclaiming “Magical Panda Tofu*” like they’d just revealed where the Holy Grail was located.
[*No pandas were harmed in the making of this animated dish.]
I haven’t read the manga yet, but the first series is probably one of my all-time favorites. I first watched this series a decade ago while living in Asia. Recent nostalgia had me watch the series again. Where some shows tend to wear thin as we grow older, ten years on, I’m still in love with this anime.
When I first heard about Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I thought it was a continuation after the previous series and movie. Imagine my disappointment, then, to learn it was a reboot only this time they kept the storyline closer to the manga than the first series. I was reluctant to watch it, at first, but I decided to give it a chance. Guess, what? I love it for various reasons. The same character dynamics are there but the character development, and of course, the story arc, has a different evolution. Both series are action-adventures laced with humor. Can’t get enough of this mythos, either. There’s alchemy, the seven deadly sins, heaven and hell, good and evil, how power corrupts. All that good stuff. Oh. And tears. I cried a LOT watching these two.
This one’s a no-brainer. Middle school student gets sucked into an ancient Chinese book and discovers she’s part of a legend? Yep. Count me in. Also, things she does in ancient pre-China has an impact on her current day China? Prophecies and saving the world. Oldies but goodies. Another early favorite in my anime-watching career, we even named our puppies aftet the main characters. There were a lot of main characters (natch) and we had a lot of puppies.
This series is set in the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe but follows the story of some of the descendants of the previous series. While I miss the characters of the first series, the nuances with Korra are fresh and we get to see the mythos in a more modern setting (not as ancient but still fantasy/steampunk/adventury goodness.
So, for those who are familiar with these anime, have you noticed a recurring pattern? Here are just some of my observations:
– young protagonist(s), part of a group or form a group that would otherwise not have joined forces
– potentially orphaned or missing a structured adult influence, thus replaced by various ‘mentors’
– a quest, mission, ahem, hero’s journey on the larger scale to save society (or the world) and on a personal level, to reach a level of self-betterment
– overall distinctions of good and evil but much of the story lies in between where all characters, good and bad, find themselves blurring boundaries
I seem to gravitate towards these types of stories. While anime aren’t always meant for children, I’ve found that my viewing of such animated stories stemmed back a couple of decades, so I must give some hearty shout-outs to the following:
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (Who doesn’t love meddling kids–and dogs?)
Jem (Yeah, I went there. She’s truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous.)
Captain Planet (because the power is YOURS.)
Thundercats (No explanation needed.)
And countless more… for the young and young at heart. Such catch phrases you’ll recall:
You get the idea.
So what tasty animated morsels of storytelling to you love the most?
Next week on FRIDAY FORAGE, WHAT YOU KNOW: 5 Observations in my WIPs
Until then, “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!“