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1) Akira - both the manga and the anime are superb products of the genius of Katsuhiro Otomo. Forget Tolkien, here's a story so powerful it makes many Western tales blush.
2) Ghost In The Shell - in all its forms, from the films to the slightly disconnected series, GITS produces cyber punk at its very best.
3) Cowboy Bebop - quite simply stunningly beautiful.
4) Neon Genesis Evangelion - one of the few mecca series I'm in love with.
5) Anything Studio Ghibli - Spirited Away, Mononoke Hime, Nausicaä, Ponyo, ... Never fails to move the inner child in me.
6) The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya - funny to the max.
And notable mentions go out to Appleseed, Noir, Wolf's Rain, Perfect Blue, Agent Aika, Nana and loads of other anime.
Lastly, although I think the manga is a lot stronger, I would like to especially recommend Death Note, one of the most impressive anime/manga achievements in recent times.
Growing up with anime, I have come to consider Japanese animators superior over almost all Western animators. I hate to say this but most Western cartoons are nothing compared to the Japanese cartoons. Don't even think about getting me convinced of the 'great CGI animation' by Pixar. Watch Ghost In The Shell Innocence and weep.
I liked Ghost In The Shell a LOT. Cowboy Bebop just didn't do it for me, though I can see why others love it. Miyazaki's a god. Never saw Neon...
Back in the day I grooved to Speed Racer, Gigantor, and later Fist Of The Northstar & Wicked City.
Also, I was SO into Planetes until the totally STUPID last ten minutes.... ruined a good series IMO.... :(
I can watch just about any type of anime there is, though there are some I just don't like. The uber-favorites, like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and that sort of thing have never succeeded in capturing my interest. Naruto got me for an episode, but then it just flickered out. I never got through an episode of Bleach. I suffered through an episode of One Piece, but I was mostly turned off by that damn rubber band b*stard Luffy.
My main interests are mech animes, like Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Robotech.
At the moment I've only seen the recent Evangelion 1.11 movie. There's a couple websites I have bookmarked that has the series up, which I'll do at some point. I'm going to revisit Universal Century Gundam first, however, as it's been years since the last time I saw it.
close second would have to be either GOLGO 13 ..Ghost in the shell or Berserk.
@chrisisall, I'm familiar with FMA but I haven't come around to watching the entire series yet. Trust me, my 'to do' list is extensive. ;-)
Cowboy Bebop is, seriously, an almost perfect series IMO. The stories, the setting, the music - God, I love that music so much! I have watched the series plus the film more than once.
Miyazaki may be a god, but so is Joe Hisaishi. You might want to watch his live concert here:
All the Miyazaki films are in it. His music for Mononoke Hime gives me goosebumps.
Wicked City is great cyberpunk too. The horror elements are actually quite effective IMO. Kawajiri also directed the brilliant Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and the classic Ninja Scroll.
Question: You guys do watch anime in Japanese with English subs, right? I'm very strict about that. Personally I consider it blasphemous to watch anime with an English dub.
I'm half-n-half. I don't mind watching subtitled if there is no English dub, and then there are the times when I prefer the subtitled version, but then there are the times when I just find the English dub to fit, and the Japanese dub just not working. I can even use Mobile Suit Gundam as an example (I saw the English dub on TV, and I have the DVD release of the compilation movie trilogy that only has Japanese with English subtitles). Bright Noa's Japanese voice actor works perfectly, and his English voice just sounds bland, but it's the exact opposite for Amuro Ray, who's English voice is great and his Japanese voice sounds like a six year old girl trying to sound like a man.
A lot of the time, this is how anime happens to me. Some English voices work while the Japanese voices don't, and some Japanese voices work while the English voices don't. I can forgive translation errors, because I just learn what the correct translation is and my brain fixes it when I hear the English dub, but for me, it all depends on the voices.
I admit that I am sometimes left without a choice myself. I buy a lot of anime when in London and unfortunately many DVDs only contain the English dub.
I try to be a purist as much as I can. If a book was written in English, I'll read it in English because that's how it was meant to be. But since my Japanese isn't as fluent as I'd love it to be, reading manga requires an English translation. That's where my purism ends. ;-)
I must stress though that anime with a Japanese dub is the way to see it and, if English subs are available, the only way too. Intonations, inflections, emotional expressions, 'cute' voices, ... they all come off as far more genuine in a Japanese original. I have experimented a little with the languages when I was younger. I watched Akira in English on VHS before I could see it in Japanese thanks to the DVD release. Guess which version I ultimately prefer. ;-) IMO, the Japanese version is so much more powerful. Sorry 'bout that, friend. ;-)
And because I've been a fan of all manner of non-English movies (Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish...) I've actually made a study of the dubbing topic. My three main findings are:
#1 A bad dub is a bad dub whether it be the original language or the English one.
#2 When in doubt, default to the original language.
#3 The strange 'cool' finding- hearing a language you are not fluent in creates somewhat the same effect in audio that reading a book does visually; it engages your imagination.
Hearing Anne Parillaud say "j'ai besoin de faire pipi" will always be cooler than hearing it said in English by... well, anyone. Point is, acting in another language always 'seems' cooler because of what your mind fills in, regardless of subtitles giving you the 'hard data'.
There are so many shows I have seen, but here are just a few I have enjoyed over the years. DragonBall Z , Bleach, Gundam Seed, Full Metal Panic, Full Metal Alchemist :Brotherhood, Code Geass, Freezing, Clannad (beautiful story), Ouran High School Host Club( the best comedy I have ever seen), Death Note, Steins Gate, Shakugan No Shana (currently watching the second season now).
For me though, my brother and I loved the voice acting, and we can pick up many of the voice actors by name now. Funimation has such a huge talented cast....some of my favorite actors include Vic Mignogna (probably the coolest voice of the mall), Monica Rial, Catlin Glass, my personal favorite Luci Christian, Colleen Clikenbeard, Kent Williams, Michael Tatum, Kent Williams, and Johnny Young Bosch. So much talent out there. We love watching/listening to the commentaries on most of the shows just to hear the actors talk and joke around.
I prefer those with english subs. English dubbing ruins the essence for me. In my country, they even translate it in the native language :O
I enjoyed Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone. I haven't tried the 90s GIS movies because they seem boring. Cowboy Bebop has a western-cowboy feel in it, not so Japanese in my book. Yet, it's still a good one.
I prefer Naruto before because of the very Asian atmosphere (ninja's, importance of family and friends). The poor plot and character development ruined it for me.
I still follow One Piece (OP) because of good plot. Some 20-something people think OP is for kids. Those fools only see the anime. The manga is much better.
Only one movie, @jason_bourne, and I assure you it's not boring. It does, however, explore some philosophical and ethical issues related to a human-cyborg coexistence and also some existential questions concerning cyborgs themselves. I agree that it's a very cerebral film that requires perhaps multiple viewings to get all the ideas. But there's some impressive action in it too and the music is great. Most important, the animation is superb. Puts all that Pixar CGI product to shame.
I try it on a lazy day when my mind isn't bothered by work. Stand alone also explores those existential and societal questions in a cybernetic society, even though it has a more personal side-- Kuze's story.
Another thing: Motoko's appearance is also important to me. She is at her hottest in the Stand Alone series. ;)
Sorry Nausicaa, you're # 2 now.
The Brotherhood movie, while entertaining, just didn't capture the look of the series very well. We just got the OVA/s and halfway through... they're great too.
That reminds me I have 3 volumes left to complete my FMA collection... Gotta finish it... Oh, and the second volume of Mrs. Arakawa autobiography back when she was a farmer...
Is that "Brotherhood" or the first one not entirely based on the Manga?
The manga itself, no brotherhoods, no anime at all. Nowadays I rarely watch anime; I'm more focused towards manga, except for series like Urusei Yatsura, Saint Seiya, Kinnikuman or Slayers, where the anime version actually beats the manga (opinion, not fact).
On a sidenote, if I mantain that silly theory about Bond being a codename, here's why, my fellow otakus: I... Write retellings of Bond adventures using some characters from various mangas I love... Fan fiction, and all that jazz. This is my confession; I'll only say it once :-$
Now that I think of it: anyone knows where to find RAWs of Takao Saito's 007 manga? I'm dying to see some!
I kid you not: the bouncing boobies all have their own unique sound effects.
And I second what he says. Completely true!