Not everyone is as big a fan of cartoons as I am, of this I am aware.

Culturally, the idea of adult-oriented cartoons is still relatively new to the west and has only really begun to gain momentum in the last 10 years. As with all art-forms however, animation is ever gaining greater and greater degrees of refinement. Where we once were drawing boxy farm-houses with smiley faced suns, ready to be stuck on our parents’ refrigerators, we now paint broad spanning murals and Sistine-Chapel-esque visual epics which elevate the heart and expand the mind. And the development of this modern art form is prevalent nowhere more so than in Japan.

Though it’s sometimes graphic, often lewd, and almost always requires a heightened suspension of disbelief, Japanese anime plumbs the conceptual depths of what animators and animated-story-tellers are capable of getting away with. Still, perhaps the most inaccessible thing about Eastern cartoon culture isn’t the adult themes it perpetuates so much as the ‘culture-shock’ factor. There is no mistaking that there are some very distinct cultural differences between the post-imperialistic Western world and historically isolationist East Asia. Did you know that Japan actually only consented to open its harbours to the world at large a little over 100 years ago (under threat of bombardment by the U.S. naval fleet)? That may sound like a long time to we mortal specks of dust, but from a broader historical and anthropological perspective it really isn’t.

In the interest of mending this ancient cultural rift between intercontinental demographics, I have composed a list of my top 5 recommended anime titles. If you’re uncertain about getting into anime, here’s your jumping on point. Open yourself up to the idea of a potentially perpendicular cultural outlook and check some of them out.

And remember, maturity isn’t the same thing as getting old.


  1. Death Note – I can’t say enough good things about Death Note. A dark, adult themed anime series which takes the focus away from the usual anime tropes of action and sex. Death Note is about a teenager named Light who finds a notebook which has the ability to kill anybody in the world when he writes their name it. Light takes on the power of a death god and begins punishing the wicked with his newfound power in a misguided attempt to make the world a better place. But the real battle begins when an investigator named L discovers Light’s existence behind the scenes, and a battle of wits commences…
  2. Princess Mononoke – Part of princess-mononokethe ‘Studio Ghibli’ collection of movies, Studio Ghibli have time and time again proven that they are capable of making enchanting epics which capture the hearts of adults and children alike. Princess Mononoke follows a young boy who is poisoned by a strange corruption. His journey leads him to discover the imbalance between the manmade and natural worlds, and teaches us all the value of respecting both the earth and ourselves. Once you’ve watched this, pick up any other Studio Ghibli film and drink it in. Think Japanese Disney.
  3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – Not to be fullmetal-alchemist-brotherhoodconfused with ‘Fullmetal Alchemist’, FMA:B is a reboot of an older series and is vastly superior to the original. It follows the story of the Elrich brothers, two young Alchemists who learn at a young age that you can’t make something from nothing. A thoughtful story with a heavy basis on medieval mysticism and religion, FMA:B is a well-made, well-rounded anime series I can happily recommend.
  4. Redline – A more recent movie, but no less deserving as a place-holder. Redline is set in a future where land-based transport has become all but redlineextinct, and the last of the land-racers compete in a race called the Redline; a winner-takes-all, turbo-charged, nitro-wracked dash to the finish. The eye-bleeding animation in this movie takes the genre to a new level. The solid plot and kick-ass action sequences help also. 🙂
  5. Ghost in the Shell – A cult classic that helped define the cyberpunk genre. Ghost in the Shell takes place in a dystopian future, and examines the evolution of technology and the moral implications cybernetics might have on the existence of a human soul. As good today as it was twenty years ago. Fun fact – the architecture in GitS is based on Kowloon Walled City, a tightly compressed architectural nightmare with so many sky-rises squashed in that the landmass was incapable of supporting it. As a result, the city had to be demolished. Great movie, with a stunningly designed backdrop.ghost-in-the-shell

Before I sign off, a couple of quick shout outs. E[b]E friend Dionne Lister is having a sale on her first book, Shadows of the Realm, which is down to $1.99 for the next week. The sequel, A Time of Darkness, came out last month making this a great jumping on point for any fantasy fans out there.

Also, our other friend (yes, all two of them :)) Charity Parkerson is having a sale of her book, The Society of Sinners (first book in the Sinners Series), which is down to $0.99. It’s a good time to own a Kindle, guys. 🙂



16 thoughts on “Ani-Maybe

    • I get that, Charles. Light is an… odd protagonist. 🙂

      Truthfully, I always identified more with L than Light, but you have to push through to episode 4 or 5 to get to him. Nonetheless, it’s obviously not for everybody. ^^

      • I did like ‘L’, but Light irked me too much to make it very far. My issue was that I never felt like there was a moment where I was made to care about Light. No gradual fall to the ‘dark side’, but an immediate dive.

  1. I watched the first half of Death Note, but stopped because … honestly, I don’t remember. I think because of final exam season? Anyway, FMA: Brotherhood is beyond fantastic. Love that show. And I just recently heard about Ghost in the Shell — it sounds fantastic! I’ll have to get my hands on that somehow 🙂

    • Death Note’s definitely a fav of mine, just because it’s so different from a lot of anime, not to mention the clever plot and the character of L. Definitely give Ghost in the Shell a go, I’ve been meaning to rewatch for awhile now, maybe now is the time… And Brotherhood is indeed the bomb. ^^ Cheers, Michelle. 🙂

  2. I haven;t seen Death Note or Ghost in the Shell yet – but the others are great. I agree FMA Brotherhood is better – it follows the manga while the first only does up until the unfortunate incident in the phone booth *cough* and then breaks off into wild territory, LOL! i could go for hours, but will limit my comment to this 😉

    • Y’know, I didn’t make it far in the original FMA, may attempt it some time, but the sheer fact that it diverges from the manga turns me off. As a writer, I find it intensely disappointing when something so professionally polished is poorly written, as most anime that divert from the source material are. There’s definitely an unfortunate trend towards writing plot-filler just to keep the plate spinning in eastern animation, and when a good, well-planned story costs the same to make as a poorly written story, I can’t help but lament.

      I could also talk about this for hours. Please, feel free to use this space as a rant-zone. Mi casa es su casa. ^^

  3. Ryan,
    It’s a genre I like, but one I know little of. However, my 3yr old will sit throughout almost any Hayao Miyazaki, from beginning to end. Especially Spirited Away.

    I can’t say the same thing for Disney flicks.
    Le Clown

    • I think a lot of people are in the same boat, Le Clown, and expanding collective awareness is one of my favourite hobbies. ^^

      Your child has impeccable taste. Sounds like you’ve got a winner. 🙂

  4. Cool, anime is one of those things that I didn’t ever get the chance to see a lot of and I regret that as I always enjoyed whatever I did get to see (I loved Crying Freeman, Fist of the North Star). adult cartoons are much underrated and underappreciated, as are graphic novels (I mean,James O’Barr’s ‘The Crow’ was phenominal). I recently watched a Japanese anime picture about one of Ursula Le Guin’s Eathsea books and it was just fantastic! Some of the background artwork is just incredible and most of these creative genius’ don’t get the credit they deserve. 🙂

    • I haven’t seen Fist of the Northstar, but heard it was awesome. Mental note: acquire… 🙂

      I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately. At the moment I’m into Jonathan Hickman’s run of Fantastic Four, so good… I mean, it’s no Watchmen, but it’s good. 🙂

      Tales of Earthsea is actually one of the Studio Ghibli films I mentioned in the post, and very enjoyable (though I’ve heard a few Earthsea novel fans tell me they didn’t enjoy it as much). There is a lot of work that goes into these films, no mistake. 😉

  5. A great list, but this is only one aspect of Japanese anime. Have you tried out some slice-of-life anime series? There’s “Nodame Cantabile” (rom-com in a music school w/c involves a driven, genius conductor and a ditzy but lovable talented pianist) and “GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka)” (a former biker-gangster who became a high school teacher for all the wrong reasons, and all the outrageous educational hijinks he and his students gets into). 🙂

    • Get out of here, you shōjo nut-bag… j/k. 🙂

      I am kidding, and I believe you. I don’t doubt that there’s a lot of good shōjo anime, but when it’s not my primary area of interest it’s a lot harder for me know what’s good and what’s not. I haven’t been exposed to it much, probably because I am quite obviously not the target demographic for lighter rom-com, oestrogen-oriented anime series. I have difficulty when shows start to get a bit too… moe. 🙂

      Still, I can enjoy Kiki’s Flying Delivery Service as much as the next person. Far be it from me to keep my blinkers on when offered a good thing, if you say these are awesome then I shall look into them. ^^

      • Actually, I tell a lie. One anime that should have been on this list that I regret not adding – Beck. Not quite ‘shōjo’, but not action oriented either. Beck’s about a Japanese rockband, and is one of the best series I’ve ever seen. Sorry Beck! 🙂

      • Beck rocks (in both ways)! 🙂
        I think GTO will be more up your alley. Onizuka-sensei has some um, interesting methods in dealing with (male AND female) school bullies … 😉

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