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Monday, August 03, 2009

Introduction to Anime

As the amount I'm blogging has been decreasing for a while now, I'm noticing that the proportion I talk about anime is increasing significantly. For a while now I've listed the series I'm currently watching on the sidebar, and occasionally written anime-related posts (especially lately). This is all well and good if you're an anime watcher, and know basic things like how to find and download anime, but not so useful for people who don't know anything about anime (which are probably the majority of readers).

So, I thought I should provide a very brief introduction. "Anime" is a nontechnical term for Japanese animation. Usually what we call cartoons are intended primarily for children, while anime has no such limitation; this frees anime up to represent just about anything you can come up with, including the more serious types of things that appear here in (filmed) movies and television. Apart from that, anime is vaguely defined by the Japanese cultural themes present in it, which may give it a different feel than our cartoons, movies, or TV shows. One theme that's conspicuously absent in anime is the strong bias to have fictional stories take place in something resembling the real world, resulting in a lot more variation in setting and less adherence to realism in anime than in our movies/TV.

Okay, that wasn't as brief as I was hoping for. Next topic: where to check out anime, if you haven't seen it before (or if you've only seen cartoony children's anime). Specifically, the rest of this post is a listing of free, legal anime series available for streaming online. Generally the quality of streamed episodes isn't near as good as episodes you download, but it has the advantage of allowing you to watching instantly without having to download hundreds of megs in advance (not to mention that I don't know of any free, fully legal sources of downloadable high).

How this works is that I've essentially gone through all the streaming sites I know and made a list of all the series I've seen (or at least the ones that didn't suck so bad I'm not even willing to admit to watching them) and their genres. I threw in a couple series (marked with a *) that I haven't seen, simply because they're phenomenally popular and no list of anime would be complete without them. As anime dubs are often almost as bad as Japanese actors trying to speak English (occasionally seen in anime), I've only included links to dubbed series (marked with D) when there is no alternate subbed version available.

The genres listed are (supposedly) in order from most to least meaningful, but are all off the top of my head; as I haven't seen some of these series in many years (and some not at all), accuracy is not guaranteed (and of course it's always possible that I might simply have mislabeled something on accident). I've defined "fantasy" pretty broadly, so as to include stuff outside the typical Lord of the Rings type story (e.g. I include supernatural). "Slice of life" refers to series centered around the daily lives and activities of the main characters (most commonly school), where the activities usually resemble the life of the intended watcher to some extent. Here I use "fighting" in contrast with "action", where the former refers to things that are substantially composed of a progressive series of fights between the protagonists and antagonists (usually duels, often with named attacks, etc.), while the latter often has more general battle scenes (such as shoot-outs).

The ones I liked most, and would most recommend:
CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion. Drama, comedy, mecha, action. Note that while I and a large number of others liked it a lot, it's pretty hit or miss with people, so your mileage may vary.
Death Note. Drama, mystery, supernatural
Durarara!!. Fantasy, drama, action
Full Metal Panic! Comedy, military, action, mecha
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu [sequel]
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Drama, fantasy, fighting, military
Gunslinger Girl. Action, drama
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino [sequel]. Action, drama
Higurashi - When They Cry. Mystery, horror, comedy, drama, ecchi (D)
Hikaru no Go. Gaming, comedy, drama
Kannagi. Comedy, supernatural, slice of life
Last Exile. Scifi/fantasy, drama, action
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Comedy, parody
Mushi-shi. Supernatural, drama (D)
Noir. Action, drama
School Rumble. Comedy, slice of life, romance (D)
Spice and Wolf (both seasons). Fantasy, medieval, slice of life, comedy

The rest I've seen:
5 Centimeters per Second. Drama
11 Eyes. Fantasy, fighting, drama, ecchi
Air. Romance, fantasy, tragedy
Asura Cryin. Scifi/fantasy, fighting, mecha, drama
Aria the Scarlet Ammo. Action, comedy
Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts. Comedy, fantasy/scifi, fighting, ecchi
Bamboo Blade. Martial arts, slice of life, comedy
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad. Music, drama
Black Butler. Supernatural, comedy, action
Black Butler II [sequel]
Bleach. Fighting, supernatural, comedy
Book of Bantorra. Fantasy, action
A Bridge to the Starry Sky. Romance, comedy, ecchi
Busou Renkin. Fighting, fantasy, comedy
C. Drama, fighting, fantasy
Canaan. Action, military
Chrome Shelled Regios. Sci-fi/fantasy, military, action
Claymore. Fighting, fantasy
Cross Game. Sports, comedy, slice of life
D.Gray-Man. Fighting, supernatural, comedy
Dance in the Vampire Bund. Fantasy, drama, action, ecchi
Darker than Black. Fighting, fantasy/scifi
Deadman Wonderland. Drama, action
Dragon Crisis. Fantasy, action, comedy
Eden of the East. Drama, romance, scifi
Erin. Fantasy, slice of life, drama
Fortune Arterial. Slice of life, supernatural, romance
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid [sequel]
Fullmetal Alchemist [alternate]
Fractale. Sci-fi, drama, action
Fruits Basket. Fantasy, slice of life, comedy (D)
Ghost Hunt. Supernatural, horror, drama, mystery
Ghost Hound. Supernatural, mystery, psychological
Golgo 13. Action
Gosick. Mystery
Gundam 00. Scifi, mecha, action, drama*
Gurren Lagann. Mecha, scifi, action, comedy (D)
Hanasaku Iroha. Slice of life, drama, comedy
Hayate no Gotoku! Comedy, parody, fighting
Hayate no Gotoku!! [sequel]
His and Her Circumstances. Slice of life, comedy, romance
Honey and Clover. Drama, slice of life
Hyakko. Comedy, slice of life
InuYasha. Fantasy, drama, comedy, fighting
InuYasha: The Final Act [sequel]
Kanon. Slice of life, romance, comedy
Kaze no Stigma. Fantasy, fighting, comedy
Kimikiss: Pure Rouge #. Slice of life, romance
Kino's Journey #. Fantasy, philosophy
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka. Fantasy, comedy, action, ecchi
Kurokami The Animation. Fighting, martial arts, drama
The Legend of the Legendary Heroes. Fantasy, comedy, action
Lucky Star. Comedy, parody, slice of life
Maria Holic. Comedy
Monster. Drama, horror (D)
Moon Phase. Supernatural, fighting, comedy, romance
My Bride Is a Mermaid. Comedy, fantasy, parody, ecchi
My Ordinary Life. Comedy, slice of life
Myself Yourself. Comedy, slice of life, romance
Naruto. Fighting, martial arts, drama, fantasy, comedy*
Naruto Shippuden [sequel]*
NATSU NO ARASHI! Comedy, supernatural
Negima! Fantasy, comedy, ecchi, fighting,
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. Comedy, romance, ecchi
Occult Academy. Supernatural, scifi, mystery, action, comedy
Okamisan. Comedy, slice of life, parody
One Piece. Comedy, action, fantasy*
Oreimo. Comedy, parody
Otome Yokai Zakuro. Supernatural, comedy, romance
Pandora Hearts. Fantasy, comedy, action
Pani Poni Dash. Comedy, school life, parody
Princess Jellyfish. Comedy
Pumpkin Scissors. Military, drama, comedy, action (D)
Rideback. Mecha, drama, military
R.O.D. The TV. Fantasy/scifi, action
Rumbling Hearts. Drama, comedy, ecchi
Sacred Blacksmith. Fantasy, action, comedy, ecchi
Saki. Gaming, drama, comedy
Samurai X [AKA Rurouni Kenshin]. Martial arts, fighting, comedy, drama (D)
Sasameki Koto. Comedy, slice of life
Seitokai no Ichizon - Student Council's Discretion. Comedy, parody
Shana. Fighting, supernatural, comedy (D)
Shigofumi: Letters from the Departed #. Drama, supernatural, psychological
Shiki. Mystery, horror, fantasy
SHANGRI-LA. Drama, scifi, action
SKET Dance. Comedy, action
Sketchbook. Comedy, slice of life
Skip Beat! Drama, comedy, romance
Slayers. Fantasy, fighting, drama (D)
Slayers NEXT [sequel] (D)
Slayers Revolution [sequel]
Slayers Evolution-R [sequel]
Sora no Woto. Slice of life, military, comedy
Special A #. Comedy, slice of life, romance
Squid Girl. Comedy
STEINS;GATE. Scifi, drama
Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry. Action, scifi, mecha, drama
Tears to Tiara. Fantasy, drama, action
Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee. Fantasy, action
Trigun. Action, comedy, scifi
Vampire Knight. Supernatural, drama
Vandread. Scifi, mecha, comedy, ecchi, action
Welcome to the NHK. Comedy, drama, psychological (D)
White Album. Drama, romance
The World Only God Knows. Supernatural, school life, comedy, romance
xxxHolic ['xxx' seems to refer to the supernatural, here]. Supernatural, drama (D)

Finally, the list of noteworthy free, legal anime sites, listed from largest selection to smallest:
Anime News Network

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