5 Anime Shows That Even ‘Normal’ People Will Like
Anime is a diverse, complicated, fascinating art form that almost three people like talking about in public. Unless it's Hayao Miyazaki farting out a grand treatise on the beauty of the world, most people mutter that they're aware of what a Charizard is and speed walk far, far away from you. But that's no way to treat anime. Anime should be shouted about from the tops of mountains, or at least have a Cracked column written about it. Whichever option is more available to you.
Here are six anime shows that you should watch, even if the sheer idea of anime makes your skin feel tight and your dong feel cold. And if you don't like them, I invite you to tell me why, in person, just before we hug for a long time, two anime fans embracing against the wind.
Mr. Osomatsu Is Always Sunny On Acid
A lot of anime focuses on the hijinks of similarly dressed quirky people. A parade of angsty school outfits shows us what it's like to have crushes AND an education where every class is a cooking competition. Teenaged martial artists battle for supremacy, honor, and the chance to not be confused for every other martial artist in the show. A family of sextuplets deals with their crazy town, and a world where the highest point of drama is a mistaken name. And I'm sure that some of these shows are beloved by some people. Hell, as a rule, the plots of the best anime always sound like someone misremembering the plots to multiple American cartoons.
And that last description was the plot of Osomatsu-kun, a manga turned anime that seems like it's making fun of you. It hasn't aged so much as it feels like a transmission from an alternate reality where entertainment, at its best, is something that we should put up with. In 2015, however, we saw the debut of Mr. Osomatsu, a reboot/parody of Osomatsu-kun that not only updates the concept of six brothers all living together, but turns it on its six identical heads.
I don't know what these opening lyrics mean in Japanese. I do, however, know that the language of joy is universal.
The six "I'm not CHOROmatsu! I'm KARAmatsu!" fifth graders are ten years older and infinitely more questionable. The rise of the "NEET" (Not In Education, Employment, or Training) in both pop culture and culture culture has given this show a great launch pad. Because even though the show was animated Benadryl, Osomatsu-kun could get away with six elementary schoolers living together since that premise brings an inherent, but limited, supply of "Aww" with it. What we didn't see, when it ended, was the aftermath of depending on your multiple identical brothers as your only sources of friendship, networking, and emotional support.
Whatever cuteness that may have existed before has warped into six unique brands of derangement. Delusional about their prospects in the job and dating world, each brother is a remarkable piece of shit. With no money and less empathy, they backstab and attack each other at every opportunity. There are constant chances for redemption. Chances for one of them to break out of their self-imposed asylum and become more than just a porn-obsessed gambling addict are abundant, but always turned down, because fucking over the family member that betrayed them slightly is too great.
If you have any number of brothers, you understand.
Since, realistically, the show would be about five murders and one death by starvation, it is lined with absurdity. Episodes center around travelling through the intestinal tract of a side character, playing an intergalactic game of baseball against homicidal aliens, and taking stand-up comedy courses. And whatever "hilarious" punchlines that the side characters constantly uttered and became known for in the original anime have all turned into uncontrollable tics that alienate them and keep them as lonely, pathetic wanderers. Mr. Osomatsu takes the familiar concept of "goofy people that look similar" and reveals that, underneath it all, there is nothing but insanity.
Tiger Mask W Is WWE, Minus All The Boring Parts
The second scene in the first episode of Tiger Mask W involves a shirtless man hanging upside down and suplexing a bear during a workout. It would certainly make it less special if all shows started like this, but it's a crime that all shows don't start like this.
Spoilers: WrestleMania 33 Main Event Confirmed.
Tiger Mask W is about the dangerous world of competing pro-wrestling companies. I previously wrote about how cool it would be to have a Grand Theft Auto-like video game where the universe was based around a love of pro wrestling, and you never had to worry about anyone questioning the "legitimacy" of the thing because pro wrestling was, well, the only thing. Tiger Mask W gives you that. Sure, there's a world outside of pro wrestling, but it's never mentioned. To every character, pro wrestling is a life and death matter where dudes in tiger masks fight for the future of the their families and for the sport itself. I'm tearing up a little bit. What a beautiful picture Tiger Mask W paints.
There's always been an anime-ness to pro wrestling anyway. In the same sense that anime characters can't use their most powerful move against their opponent until they've had their ass kicked and charged up enough, pro wrestlers usually can't use their finishers until a certain, unstated amount of time has passed, and the finisher is the most colorful, exhausting move that they have. Logically, you'd go ahead and use the "ANCIENT DRAGON FIVE DEATHS BEAM" at the start of the fight. And you'd break out the top rope version of your pun-based slam before you even shook the other dude's hand.
But where Tiger Mask W excels is a place that fleshy pro wrestling fails. Like pro wrestling, it's a lot of "You beat him. Now beat HIM." But it's usually new opponents, with new skills and powers.
And new, completely viable ways to train.
The WWE, on the other hand, features a slow revolving door of the same fights happening in slightly different ways. "You may have beaten Kevin Owens this week, Roman Reigns, but let's see how you do against him next week ... IN A CAGE." Why? We already know that Reigns can beat him. It's not new and/or fun because you added a chain link fence.
At twenty-three minutes an episode, Tiger Mask W is probably my favorite wrestling promotion in the world right now. If I hate a dude, he'll probably be gone forever in about the time it takes for me to go to the bathroom. If I hate a guy in regular pro wrestling, I'll probably hate him for about twelve more goddamn years.
Hate this guy? First of all, shame on you. Second of all, give it about two minutes.
Lastly, instead of standard close-ups, whenever something dramatic happens, lightning bolts tear across the screen like this, as if a dimension of pure awesome is trying to rip its way into our world.
Welcome to our earth, distilled magnificence. Enjoy your stay.
My Hero Academia Is The Greatest Parts Of X-Men And Naruto
My Hero Academia is so much better than it deserves to be. All of the other entries in this list are things that I kind of expected to like. Described to me as "X-Men meets Harry Potter meets Naruto," I expected the pilot episode to be an agonizing twenty-four minutes. A show that would literally make me think about the fact that while we live, we're also, technically, dying. I expected it to end up adorning the shirts on the bargain rack on the left wall of my local Hot Topic, the place where all bad anime eventually goes to rest.
And when my friend asked how I liked it, my comment would be the number one sin when it comes to affirming and sharing someone's tastes:
"Eh, it was okay."
Since I can't find the words to illustrate how I feel about the show, I'll just use the show itself.
My Hero Academia is about a superpower-less high school boy who exists in a world where 80 percent of all people have superpowers. And later, he's granted a superpower from the greatest superhero in the land. Also, they're not called powers in this universe. They're called "quirks." And a lot of it takes place at a school. Every sentence in this paragraph makes me want to go back and tell my fifth grade self to really invest his time in Ultimate Frisbee or something, to save himself from a life where this kind of thing is offered to him as a legitimate source of fun. But I can't recommend My Hero Academia harder.
I never understood optimism until I watched it.
I watched very little anime as a child (I started watching a lot of it when I was 20, because life works in obscene, vengeful ways), but when I did, it was gathered with a group of sixth grade friends around the Toonami box, which were called "televisions" in other parts of the world. And My Hero Academia is the closest feeling that I've gotten lately to that initial rush of being exposed to things like Gundam Wing and Dragon Ball Z. Familiar tropes and archetypes packaged together in a way that's exciting wholly satisfying. Except My Hero Academia is better than Dragon Ball Z or Gundam Wing.
This is All Might. His best move is the TEXAS SMASH. Watch this thing.
You can fight* me about that, friends from sixth grade.
*Please don't fight me, friends from sixth grade.
One Punch Man/Mob Psycho 100 Are Anime Parodies That Actually Work
One Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100 are both the creations of web comic artist One, and both have been adapted into anime form, and both are great. Too great. So let it be known that any descriptions that I give will not live up to the actual shows. If I call something "ball bustingly great," and you watch it, and it absolutely eradicates your balls, I warned you. Put on any safety equipment that you need to.
"ONE PUUUUUUUUUUUUNCH" should be Merriam-Webster's Word Of The Year.
Both of these series are parodies. One Punch Man satirizes the Japanese superhero subgenre, while Mob Psycho 100 satirizes the paranormal adventure subgenre, two subgenres that have, at times, threatened to drown all of anime in a sea of "Prepare to face my TRUE form." But they do things that many parodies fail at. First, they're watchable past episode one. Second, they make you forget that they're parodies. One Punch Man is about a guy that can beat any enemy with one punch. On paper, that's two fights worth of jokes. One fight to show the power, and one fight to haha, it's just one punch again.
But the mix of dynamic animation, consistently moving storylines, fresh humor, and a whole convention merch booth's worth of T-shirt friendly characters keeps it afloat. An anime that came out a few years ago, Attack On Titan, was also cool, but so self-serious that it threatened to grimace itself into oblivion by the end of every episode. So it's nice to have another semi well-known series to prove to the world that anime isn't just teenage frowns.
Talking about this shit repeatedly is the only inheritance that I will leave my children. They will be thankful.
Mob Psycho 100, admittedly, isn't as good as One Punch Man. It's not as cohesive in its blend of parody and punch-your-laptop-because-you-just-can't-handle-how-excited-you-are-right-now-edness, and the core concept just isn't as simply rad as a guy that can blend you into soup with a single fist to the jaw. But it is a decent follow up, at least until the next season of One Punch Man starts. And when that happens, I'm quitting all commitments for a few days and disappearing into the comfortable womb of One Punch Man. Tell my parents that I went, umm, boating, or something. Yeah. Boating.
Set sail for Doritos.
91 Days Is A More Exciting Boardwalk Empire
I, like many of you, love watching the wealth of period piece dramas that have recently been introduced to us. Give me some moustaches, a few costumes, and a plot that never really comes together as well as it wants to and I will gorge on it for days. However, I, like two of you, have watched these Boardwalk Empires and Peaky Blinders and Pipe Smoke Alleys and Bowler Hat Whiskeyfests, and silently dreamed "Man, what if this was anime?" I am truly the worst demographic.
Set during the prohibition era where, as historical dramas have taught us, literally everyone alive was a criminal, 91 Days tells the story of Angelo Lagusa. After his family was murdered in front of him (as is wont to happen in nineteen-twenty-vague-year), Angelo decides to grow up and get revenge. He becomes a booze-soaked Batman, and infiltrates the mafia family that offed his parents. If you can get past the fact that Angelo looks like every anime protagonist in the last two decades, with perfectly placed bangs and the body type of the guy currently writing this sentence, it's a pretty engaging story.
Only the most hardened criminals get to style their hair like a Taking Back Sunday cover band vocalist.
91 Days is consistently moody. I've seen some criticism that it looks really drab, but half of the interiors are bars, and the characters are sad people that are two minutes away from being stabbed at all times, so I don't know if a more diverse color palette would really benefit 91 Days aka Kill That Dude And Everyone He Knows. At only twelve episodes, the storytelling is precise and driven without feeling rushed, with no filler to speak of. And that might be the biggest drawback to 91 Days. If you answer a text during it, you miss the introduction of four new characters, the murder of two, and nine plot twists.
And three muted brown rooms.
I wrote about anime a while ago, and at that point, I had watched a ton of certain subgenres in it, and very little of anything else. And while you will have to tie down my cold, lifeless corpse in front of a laptop before I will ever watch anything described as "slice of life," I'm glad that I gave stuff like 91 Days a chance. There is a tender place in my heart for the endless struggles of dudes that yell their super-powered attacks as they perform them, but making room for stuff that's a little more intricate and less than seven-hundred episodes long was a great decision.
Daniel has a blog.
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