As a kid, we would wake up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings and get our cartoon fix on. And it never failed (almost like it was a weekly programmed thing or something), but there would be one or two animes that would come on and I would have to suffer through until something good came on. (I have done a quick Google search, specifically to reference it [them] here, but cannot find the anime show(s) that would inevitably turn me off the genre for decades).
Fast forward to 2013, I meet Daryl, we hit it off, and the question of “Do you like Anime” comes up. “I hate it” was my response, I believe, to which Daryl responded something along the lines of “You need to watch Howl's Moving Castle with me." We did, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I stuck to my stupid stand of not liking anime.
You think I would be let off that easily? Nope. I lost track of how many times it has been requested that I do a piece on anime. I seem hardly qualified for the job, as I DO NOT LIKE ANIME, nor do I know anything about it. (I am an Ox AND a moron it would seem, as how can I not like something I have virtually zero knowledge about?) Finally after almost two years of harassment, I caved and Daryl happily programmed us a full day of anime films, and to be specific, Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films.
My Neighbor Totoro – 1988 (in English)
But this is just anime, and I don't like it.
The Secret World of Arietty – 2010 (in English)
I was down with the whole flying cat bus and giant woodland spirit, but this seems like I'm going to have to push my beliefs (you'd think it would be the other way around, but I'm a backwards weirdo.)
Arietty is the teeny tiny “borrower” that lives in the country house that giant human-sized Sho is resting in while he awaits his upcoming heart surgery. Sho sees Arietty, their family's cover is blown and they must escape before they are caught by actual mean humans. And that's the story. But there's SO much more to it! I was entirely drawn into their little world, marvelled at all the little things that helped to create it (the nails in the walls that act as steps, the countless flowers that Arietty brings into her room to create a garden in her bedroom, the teeny tiny everyday items which we use that are turned into the most incredible tools for the Borrowers), their world is a magical one. It's so funny and odd, but I think my favourite scene is when the crow flies down and gets caught in the blind. I was genuinely fearful for Arietty's safety, and it literally felt like it went on forever (much like it would in real life should that occur... Stupid bird).
Dammit, now I'm caring for the characters? I don't frickin' like anime!
Porco Rosso – 1992 (in English)
Looks can be deceiving my friends, as I so quickly discovered. In fact, the aforementioned flying pig is Marco Pagot, a WWI pilot that lost faith in humanity and was cursed to live the remainder of his life looking like an anthropomorphic pig, thereafter known as Porco Rosso. Set during the rise of the Nazis during 1930s Italy, Rosso is the one Ace pilot feared by all. I will leave it at that. Miyazaki's ability to create such detailed and realistic landscapes, weave in an intriguing, beautifully uplifting and sad story, and bring to life through freakin' animation a piece of aeronautical history, makes me want to be a part of this world.
Unable to stop thinking about this film... I... I, like anime?
Spirited Away – 2001 (In English)
I like anime.
The Wind Rises – 2013 (In Japanese)
As we progressed through each of the movies, I understood why Daryl chose each one and fell more and more in love with the genre, or with Miyazaki's contribution to it. These films moved me in a way I would have previously never have guessed possible, and I have not stopped thinking about them, particularly The Wind Rises. I even watched a documentary about Miyazaki's life, Studio Ghibli and which almost acted as a companion to The Wind Rises, as it was filmed during the creation of the film. It's called The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Watch it, it's fantastic.
Beautiful realism, historical world issues and humanity's spiritual relationship with nature, not to mention breathtaking animation, a perfect combination of score and voice talents make Hayao Miyazaki's films my perfect introduction to anime. And I may just stick with his films. Or no more at all. Because I don't like anime.
And I'm a frickin' liar. ...'Cause now? Now I LOVE it.