Saturday, September 3, 2011

Anime that flies over your head

I'd like to think that anime content is intelligent. There are definitely a bunch of shows that are just for fun, but there are also a fair share of programs that really make you sit and think. Like I've said in the past, I like when anime content doesn't treat you like you're an idiot. It lets you figure things out on your own and respects the viewers.

Compared to the average shows on American TV, I believe anime features to be a lot more heady than our offerings. American TV spells out a lot of things for the viewer, or it just makes up an explanation that wouldn't exist within the real world. CSI and stuff like that is the perfect example of shows that try to look smart, but end up coming off truly silly.

I've watched many an intelligent anime in my years. Shows that really make you think and take awhile to understand. In particular, I find Paranoia Agent, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell and Serial Experiments Lain to be some very sophisticated programming. You're not going to pick up on everything those shows have to offer the first time around, and they force you to think about what just happened and how it all works out.

Then there are shows that I love, but they are so sophisticated and layered that it's still a bit hard to wrap my feeble brain around all of it. For example, Neon Genesis Evangelion is an absolutely amazing show, and while I get the basic plot and sub-plots of the series, there are still some sophisticated analogies that I've yet to work out on my own. I've read tons of content on the series, and while I see the conclusions made, it can be hard for me to run through them on my own.

What anime series' have you seen that really blow your mind? They require a level of thinking and analysis that has escaped you up to this point. Don't be afraid of looking silly to the rest of us. What comes easy for one person could be a true struggle for the next. Each person is different!


  1. Well, as you said Evangelion requires a good philosophical background to be fully understood and some things are a little messed up (or more like "too many things thrown in the pot"). Ergo Proxy is another anime that makes you think, but (imho) it gets inconclusive in certain areas. Paranoia Agent is definitely a good work. Actually ALL of Satoshi Kon's anime are good-thinking works. Same goes for Hayao Miyazaki's and Isao Takahata's movies, they always have those amazingly accurate screenplays that goes hand in hand with all the symbolism. Fushigi no umi no Nadia is a funny work but if you want to pay attention to the real content, you'll notice that it has a solid one. Same goes for the Haruhi Suzumiya series. Haibane Renmei, like Lain, is good too. Kino no Tabi is kinda mysterious, since it makes you think, but it's so strange with all its mythology things that it's not easy to figure that the author is really showing. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is what I'd call a truly "contemporary work" in its japanese society analysis. Last, I'd throw in Shinkai movies because they are simply outstanding. But there are easily more works...

  2. I haven't seen the whole anime of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, but in the later parts of the manga there were so many confusing parts about different dimensions and time loops and clones and magic and stuff that I had basically no idea how the logic behind the plot worked anymore, even after finishing the series. I haven't read it since it ended a while ago, but maybe I'll give it another look.

  3. I totally agree with your statements, and would love to add Boogie Pop Phantom to the list of complex plotlines. Even though I own a copy, I'm still floored by the series. Dare I say that Requiem for the Phantom, Elfin Lied, and Kiba had my mind in a whirl and lost, trying to catch up in some places. I love the intellectual complexities that a good anime can carry and Serial Experiments Lain will always be my number one favorite anime of all time.

  4. Well I've come to the point in my life where I'm pretty good at analyzing things and such so nothing today really escapes me.

    But when I was a little kid, I know Paranoia Agent was pretty deep. I probably didn't fully understand everything that was in it. Eh, I should probably even go back and watch it one of these days.