A couple Christmases back, New Wife admitted to #2 Son that she had no idea what animé was, whereupon he gasped in shock.  I was a little scornful, because my only  exposure to the genre had been the kiddie junk seen on TV during the kids’ childhood.  And New Wife can hardly bear to watch cartoons, of any kind.

But the thought obviously rankled him, and being a thoughtful and considerate boy (okay, man:  he’s now 31), when he came on Monday to visit us for his birthday week (family tradition, don’t ask), he brought New Wife an animé movie to watch.  And so we watched it together last night.

What a revelation.

Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress  is an absolute tour de force.  The story is compelling, the time/space continuum jumps are seamless — the latter are better than any other movie I’ve ever seen, in any format — and the plot is faultlessly written.  It is, quite honestly, a perfect movie.

#2 Son also revealed to us that his favorite Christmas (?) movie is Tokyo Godfathers  (also directed by Satoshi Kon), which means it’s high on my list.

If you’re a fan of the animé genre, you’re probably laughing at me right now (and that’s okay);  but if like me you’re an ignoramus of the genre, then you owe it to yourself to watch it — just as much as if you’d never seen a black-and-white movie before, you’d have to watch one of the classics made by Ernst Lubitsch, Elia Kazan or John Ford.

He’s left us a few others, carefully selected because he knows my taste in movies.  I can’t wait to watch them.

Afterthought:  I have to admit that this is not the first time #2 Son has done this to me:  he also turned me on to Archer  and Arrested Development, to name but two  Needless to say, I trust his judgment a great deal.  Oh, and one of his Christmas presents to me, many years back, was the boxed set of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’s dance movies.


    1. Anime is just the word for Japanese-style animation.

      However, that covers an insane amount of ground. “Anime” can be anything from kiddie cartoons to the most violent and gory adult fare – or even “hentai,” for porn (and some of that is _really_ disturbing).

      There’s some really cheesy stuff, but there’s also a helluva lot of good storytelling, along with some top-notch animated art.

      “Ghost in the Shell” is amazing (the movies and the “Stand Alone Complex” series). Full-on cyberpunk.
      “Cowboy Bebop” has some great storytelling, and a really great soundtrack. Bounty hunters in the future.
      “Lupin III” has been popular for decades, but the 2019 CG movie version is really fun. Classic adventure. The world’s greatest thieft versus Nazis.
      Just about anything directed by Hayao Miyazaki will be good – “Spirited Away” is my favorite of his, but “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” are both nice and heartwarming.

      You can also find things like “Laid Back Camp,” which is a really simple little series about young girls going camping in the winter in Japan. Or “Flying Witch,” about a 15 year old witch who goes to live with her relatives – the art is great, and the world they built is really well made, with great characters.

  1. I agree with cirby, “Ghost In The Shell” is outstanding, he left out “Akira” though, and Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle”, (based upon the book by Diana Wynn-Jones, you’d be doing yourself a favour if you read her books).

    1. Yeah, I always forget “Akira,” even though I saw it in the theater way back when. Great movie, astounding animation work, especially for the time it was made (no CGI whatsoever).

      “Howl’s Moving Castle” is a wonderful piece, but I like “Spirited Away” and “Kiki” a little more.

  2. Interesting. I thought the same as you did about the genre.

    But in all the years I’ve followed your blogs, you have never steered me wrong. It’s on my list now.


        1. The Japanese are always ready to trot out the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and have a pity party. If it were not for the reasonably frequent references to Imperial Japanese beastliness I run into in the fraction of Japanese popular culture I have access to, I would get thoroughly cheesed of with them. I still think there should be a permanent addition to the Ebola Gay display at the Smithsonian of a banner that says (in Japanese and English) “You rape Nanking again, we bomb you again.”

  3. Anime is something of a crapshoot. Some of it’s awesome, some of it’s dreadful. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

    I like the calmer, “slice of life” stuff, like _Laid Back Camp_ which cirby mentioned. That one falls into the “cute girls doing cute things” genre.

    If you want to do some research, visiting Steven den Beste’s (RIP) _Chizumatic_ website will give you access to his reviews. He was a bit of a lecher, but he didn’t try to hide it, so the reviews will serve to warn or entice the reader. You can find his reviews here:

  4. I came to the comments to recommend “Spirited Away”, but I see that that’s been done multiple times. I bought it on the recommendation of one blogger or another, thinking that when my very young children got a little older they might enjoy it, but when I watched it I was totally captivated. There’s a reason that it was (at least at that time) the highest-grossing Japanese movie ever. It’s intense in places and my kids were each probably ten years old before it didn’t scare them. It did eventually launch them into anime fandom, though, and for years they always had “The Last Airbender” (the animated version – not that awful M. Night Shyamalan mess) or “Attack on Titan” going on the TV.

  5. I can’t +1 Cowboy Bebop enough. But, a huge caveat: Make sure you watch the English dubbed version, not the one with subtitles. The Japanese language version/voice actors aren’t very good and don’t carry the right emotion & weight for the dialog. The English (American) voice actors bring depth to the characters, like Spike’s world-weary tones as the series goes on.

  6. +1 for My Neighbor Totoro, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

    1. OK SEP, you owe me a bunch of money. My hip and knee joints are destroyed and my legs’ adductor muscles are shredded just from watching that.
      OK, too harsh; I’ll settle for a nice wheelchair. ;>)

  7. We are the same age but I have about a 9 year head start on you for watching anime. I watched nothing else for the most part for 4 years as I worked my way through recommended lists of the best of the best, and free sites I could watch them on. Now I just watch the new ones as they come out each week, and occasionally someone will mention an old one I haven’t seen so I’ll search it out. Every 3 months is a new season/batch of 20 or so new anime releases. Most are kiddy shows you skip, and you wait for the gems to appear. I also sorta got hooked on Japanese TV and movies.

    I guess it boils down to the Japanese tell a story differently than western media. Its hard to explain, but you notice it right away. Coupled with the cultural and historical differences, it makes their story telling unique, interesting and addicting.

    The slice of life stories are wonderful and have made an old man reach for the Kleenex many times.

    The action and horror stories can make our action movies look tame, or “Kill Bill” dialed to 11.

    The current biggest hit in amine and manga is Demon Slayer. A true heroes journey story in every way that Homer would approve of. The Demon Slayer manga (comic book) has out sold the entire US comic book industry, combined. Not a small feat even though the US industry has gone woke and destroyed itself.

    Welcome to the rabbit hole…

    Some links, delete if you think inappropriate.

    Anime (server seems down right now)

    Japanese TV/Movies

  8. Anime is like British beer; there’s some really good stuff, and a lot of blah. For a while it looked like it was all pretty good, but that was because only the good got imported. I got interested way back in the ‘70’s when, as a youth, I figured out that A) SPEED RACER was Japanese and B) there were ongoing subplots the were being abandoned in translation, but which you could kinda pick up if you paid attention.

    Forgot it for a while, then STAR BLAZERS (SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO with all the hard stuff censored) came along, followed by MACROSS (which was three different Anime Frankensteined together by an American company). Halfway through the first arc the POV character’s big brother figure goes up in his fighter and come down in pieces. What? People in a war can get dead? G.I. Joe, call your office!

    I will bring up several points;

    There is an entire sub-genera of anime that devolves into a series of tournament-style fights that drag on forever. DRAZONBALL Z is the worst offender, but there are plenty of others.

    Characters you care about die. Not always, in every series, but far more often than we who grew up on Scooby-doo are used to. Hint; if two young people are shown standing in a shower of cherry blossoms, one of them will be dead before the end.

    This is sometimes taken to extremes in a trope I call “you die, she dies, everybody dies”; this can take what seemed like a promising series and turn it into a real downer. If this bothers you avoid WOLF’S RAIN. There are others.

    By all means, explore. This is a FAR more entertaining rabbit hole than current politics (warmed over Fascism), or binge-watching Netflix (uninspired drivel with an unasked side-order of warmed over Fascism…sigh).

  9. It’s also a genre which, thanks in large part to the Japanese themselves, hasn’t yet become Woke-ified.

    I’d also add Black Lagoon to the list. And High School Of The Dead is a guilty pleasure.

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