Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dart’s Guide To Essential Anime (The Series Edition) AKA Mo’ Manga Mo’ Murda Mo’ Homocide Part 2

This drop is long overdue considering that the first half was done back in September but better late than never, right? I spent yesterday helping family members locate Wii's and watching "I Am Legend". By the time I was done I didn't have any time to post a blog so I'll pull double duty today to make up for it. Well here goes:

Speed Racer
Is it corny? Yeah. Is the dubbing horrible? Yep. Is it essential? Hells yes. Oh yeah, when those cars flew over the railing and blew up in the cartoon those drivers DIED ( Word to the Stunt Acrobatic Racing Team.) You absolutely need to know this before watching...Racer X is actually Speed’s long lost brother Rex.

Captain Herlock
The legend of Captain Herlock (or Harlock) spans several different series and animated movies/series such as Galaxy Express 999, Arcadia Of My Youth, Harlock Saga and Gun Frontier. The odd thing is that NONE of the series follow the same continuous storyline or even have many story elements that are canon. Every single Harlock series or movie is non linear to his overall story and independent of each other. 

Even though there are a few characters that appear in each series, they have a different name or origin/how Harlock first encountered them in each series. This makes anyone that tries to “follow” the story of Harlock the space pirate nuts. He was a dirt poor youth stuck on the overcrowded planet Earth who dreamed of earning his fortune out in deep space. He found a way to get off of Earth and became a legend. This series is the 1978 show that got chopped and screwed with two other series’ by Harmony Gold to create the classic clusterfuck “Captain Harlock And The Queen Of A Thousand Years” that further confused Harlock fans (and Americans of all ages that watched it in the 80’s).

Battle Of The Planets/Gatchaman
G Force was the illest. Known as the Space Ninja Science Team in Japan (that name just doesn’t sound fly in English), they were a team of trained teens that fought an army of extra terresrials from planet Spectra. The original show was heavily edited and characters were watered down versions of the Gatchaman characters. It turns out that there was considerably more violence, and characters that were explained to live or escaped by the shows narrator actually really died. 

If you remember the original Battle Of The Planets series and want to own it you can, if you want to see the original series and see why they stuck 7 Zark 7 in there to assure you that no one caught a bad one then you can see the unedited scenes of carnage and 20 extra episodes that were completely dropped from the series for American audiences (Batle Of The Planets had 85 total episodes while Gatchaman had 105).

Star Blazers
Known in Japan as “Space Cruiser Yamato” , this epic series tells the story of a battleship armed with the ultra powerful Wave Motion Gun making a trek (yeah, I know!) across the vast expanses of space to bring the fight to Iscandar and then defend the Earth from the threat of the Comet Empire. It used to air on American television in the mornings on weekdays back in the late 70’s and early 80’s alongside classic anime series like “Battle Of The Planets” AKA “Gatchaman” and "Force Five". The Space Marines were gully as fuck, son!

I don’t even have to sell anyone on this series. If you’ve never seen this series before and you have the cash then cop it. Start with the Macross Saga and yes, the Robotech Masters Saga is the weak link of the series. Cop the Invid Invasion/Next Generation last.

Fist Of The North Star
This series is gory as all hell and the episode titles are ridiculous. The commentator guy kills me reading the episode titles, shit like: “The Last Exit On The Road To Hell: Shin’s Blood Will Run Like The River”. You’re sitting there like “What the hell did I just pop into the DVD player?”. Classic material that follows the manga storyline as opposed to the one in the movie where Julia lives (Ken’s a sucker for love according to 50 Cent).

An evil corporation develops an armor that melds with the wearer and uses it as a host body. Problem is that on delivery things go wrong and one of the three Guyver units end up in the hands of a high school student named Sho. Once the evil corporation discovers what’s happened then all types of craziness jumps off. Stick with the origianl series and not the second generation versions.

Crying Freeman
Based on the classic manga of the same name, this six part series tells the tale of an artist who witnesses a murder and is then trained to become the world’s greatest assassin and a member of The 108 Dragons, the most powerful organization in the world. Freeman is hired to kill a female artist who witnessed one of his hits. He instead falls in love with her and she becomes a member of the organization just as he did. These are their further adventures. once Crying Freeman becomes the head of the organization.

This is arguably the greatest anime series ever made overall. It goes from goofy to super serious at the drop of a hat. The story has multiple layers and several great characters but the central story revolves around Vash The Stampede, a man with an $80,000,000 bounty on his head. No matter where he goes disaster and death soon follow. Great writing from beginning to end and the dub is even excellent.

The story of the Hellsing Organization lead by Integra Hellsing who fights the legions of undead and the Catholic Church (no Golden Compass) and keeps them from gaining a foothold in Great Britain and Europe. The Hellsing Organization has an ace in the hole as they retain the services of the world’s most powerful vampire, Alucard .

Cowboy Bebop
An ex cop and a freelance assassin (Jet Black and Spike Spiegel) join forces to become intergalactic bounty hunters. Eventually they add a couple more people to the team and all hell breaks loose. This series was also accompanied by a cool jazz soundtrack all throughout. Highly influential series to modern anime.

Samurai Champloo
In the same vein as Cowboy Bebop but only with a Hip Hop soundtrack and instrumentals playing in the background during frantically kinetic fight scenes.Two masterless samurai escort a young woman on a quest to find another mysterious samurai who “smells of sunflowers”. During the journey mad shit jumps off. One samurai has no definable style and cannot read or write while the other is highly educated and the top product of a reputable sword school, it goes without saying that they’re constantly at odds with each other.

This might be the best urban themed anime series ever made. The story is about a group of friends that start a gang in a city that exists in the shadow of the Millenion Corporation, which is actually a large Mafia type criminal organization. The two friends named Harry and Brandon dream of becoming so powerful that they’re recruited by Millenion and get to move up the ranks to become biggest gangsters in the city. 

Eventually, Harry and Brandon do become members of the organization and begin to move up the ladder fairly quickly. Harry as a boss and Brandon as a hitman/cleaner. I won’t tell you anything else past that if you aren’t familiar with the series already.

I would also like to add the Force Five anime series that used to air on TV mornings back in the early to mid 80’s but they don't have any official North American DVD distribution.. like I ever let something like that stop me.


1 comment:

lyntonbb said...

Hey Dart,
I just copped the Full Metal Alchemist series and it's right up there. There's plenty going on and I can't believe that they kept it tight for 51 episodes. Nice one.
Can you tell me what the deal is with Ed and his Dad popping up in London during The Blitz only to end up in Munich in 1932.
BTW - as ever you got the lists down!