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 Cheftossing 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?)

He-Man & She-Ra (By the power of Greyskull how can you not love these cousins?)

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:

Let’s roll out!

Knowing is half the battle.

Cowabunga, dude!

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!


  1. I can remember being about six or seven and talking to a babysitter who was the impossibly ancient and mature age of 18 and asking them if they still watched cartoons and telling them that when *I* was impossibly ancient and mature like them, I would still be watching cartoons.

    I’m going to be 44 in April and I have kept that promise my younger self made.

    I was and am a huge fan of the Hasbro/Sunbow animated series; about the only one I didn’t watch with any regularity was Inhumanoids because it wasn’t shown in my area. When I was writing fanfic, most of it was Transformers related with some GI Joe and Jem stuff.

    The cartoons I remember from when I was a kid, other than the Looney Tunes, wer Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers (both Americanized versions of Japanese anime series). And also American series like Herculoids, Space Ghost, Superfriends, Drac Pack, Thundarr the Barbarian, MASK (I have a friend who looks EXACTLY like one of the bad guys from MASK) and so many more than I can remember off the top of my head at 5 am.

    I discovered anime in college; the first anime I ever watched was My Neighbor Totoro which blew my mind, in no small part, because the kids went to their parents about the weird supernatural spirit they met and their dad was like, “Oh wow, that’s cool! Be polite to him” rather than dismissing what they’d seen out of hand as usually happened in American cartoons/movies/etc. Some of my favorites were Kiki’s Delivery Service, Porco Roso, City Hunter, and again, more than I can really remember off the top of my head at this time of day.

    These days, I watch things like Phineas and Ferb and Gravity Falls which are some of the best kids’ animation I’ve ever seen. Plus most of the animated series on Fox’s Sunday night lineup. Bob’s Burgers is an amazing show as is Archer which is on FX and uses some of the same voice cast.

    And…I think I will wrap up this long tl;dr comment by saying, yeahh, I love cartoons/animel *grins*

    • Love this comment. Such a throwback.

      Also, I think I remember exactly which goon from MASK you’re talking about. Totoro gets mad props, too. Archer, is one of my faves in recent years, but I should take a look at some others you’ve mentioned. I know of them but haven’t gotten around to starting the respective series yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s