By: David Waterman
All countries trade with other countries, imports and exports spreading products throughout the world. The products are not just physical, however, with cultural elements being passed along from person to person. One such example, is anime from Japan, an art style that incorporates either computer generated or hand drawn art to create a video. Similar to American movies and shows, there are classics in the anime culture that anyone would be remiss in not at least knowing the basics. This top 5 list is in no particular order, and not ranked based on importance of viewing. These are all considered essential viewing for anime fans as well as those who aren’t necessarily fans of the genre.
1. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Premiering in 1984 and based upon a 1982 manga of the same name, this film was created by a director named Hayao Miyazaki. Following a young princess in a post-apocalyptic world, this movie focuses on the interaction between man and nature. Conflict between rival countries and pre-war technology kick off a massive race to stop the destruction of the home Nausicaa loves. This movie kickstarted Studio Ghibli, a legendary movie producing anime giant of the industry that is featured multiple times on this list alone.
2. Castle in the Sky
Another Studio Ghibli film that debuted in 1986, Castle in the Sky, follows the story of two teenagers, Pazu and Sheeta. The story opens with Sheeta falling from a flying ship in the sky, after pirates have raided it. The magical adventure to find the city of Laputa floating in the sky is both captivating and broad in its potential audience. Like most Studio Ghibli films, there is a focus on man vs. nature, and has a heartwarming resolution. This movie directly followed Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and solidified Miyazaki’s fanbase.
This 1988 sci-fi action film centers on the 2019 city of Neo-Tokyo, while following teens Kaneda and Tetsuo. After a scuffle with a rival gang, Tetsuo has a run in with a psychic and begins to unlock his own abilities. This leads to the revelation that the government has a psychic program and the mystery unwinds from there. With strong animation techniques as well as very comprehensive and artful storytelling, Akira is a must for any sort of movie fan.
4. Death Note
With a live-action adaptation coming to Netflix soon, Death Note has come to the forefront of popular anime yet again. Widely regarded as one of the best anime of all time, this mystery thriller has fans chomping at the bit for more. Light Yagami is a genius high school student who discovers a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written within the notebook, and is shepherded by a god of death known as Ryuk. Experienced anime viewer and president of the anime club, senior Madison Marcum, places Death Note in both her top three of all time and her top recommendation for those who haven’t watched anime before. “It really is just an essential,” she said.
A brilliant blend of comedy, action, and serious storytelling make Trigun a definite choice for this list. Whimsical and inept Vash travels the wasteland from town to town getting into shenanigans. Vash hides an important secret to the nature of the world he inhabits, and the secret hints that surround him. With a rich story, and very complex characters, Trigun firmly deserves a spot on any top list. At 26 episodes, this classic is on the shorter side, but it packs a punch.
If these shows don’t make the cut for viewing, there is a McNick Anime Club that can always provide students with suggestions and, “a place to come in and hang out, watch a few shows, and meet other people who are fellow [lovers of anime},” Marcum said. The Anime Club hosts Yu Gi Oh card game battles and meets on Tuesdays in Theology teacher Teresa Davis’ room.