Ground Rules

I can’t possibly be the first person to blog about anime and manga. It’s unlikely I’m in the first million. But here we go…

Three years ago I didn’t know anything about anime apart from what was on Adult Swim, and very little of that. Yeah, yeah, Pokemon, Dragonball, even (briefly) Cardcaptor; but I didn’t know nothing about nothing.

That wasn’t entirely, completely true. I was, and am, a writer, of (mostly) science fiction and fantasy, so I know how a story is supposed to be told. And I studied animation at Grand Valley State, under the redoubtable Deanna Morse, so I know what makes them pictures move. I was curator of a film collection and, needing to prioritize, I started with the cartoons, old stinkers from dead studios like Van Beuren and Iwerks.

Remember Futurama? Remember how in the open there was always an old black and white cartoon on the giant TV screen for a couple seconds before the ship crashed into it? I could name about half those cartoons.

Well, I was being interviewed about my writing by the charming and talented Anna Mansager, who writes about cartoons herself when she gets the chance.

I described for her something I had seen on Adult Swim. It was a strange cartoon, about a stiff and angular character in a three-piece suit, zooming around like a wild man. That was it; that was all I had.

Anna couldn’t tell from my miserable description what it was (It was Lupin the Third…did YOU know it from what I said?), but she said, “A lot of people like Cowboy Bebop.”

That was it. That was the first fix. Seriously, can anyone hear that theme music and not reach for the air string bass? Has anyone ever been cooler than Spike, and Jet, and Faye? Weirder than Ed? Smarter than Ein? (Well, maybe the last.) It was animated and it was sci-fi, it was beautiful and full of grace, and it was all wild all the time.

Oh, and Steve Conte from the New York Dolls sang on the soundtrack!

I found a site: 35 Anime That Are Perfect If You’ve Never Watched Anime

and started to work my way through it. Some rang my chimes. Black Lagoon…what a great story! Spice and Wolf…how beautiful! Full Metal Panic…seriously, how stupid can people be!

And the glory of it was, so long as you stayed away from the long-runners like Bleach and Naruto and Fairy Tale and One Piece, anime was finite. You could watch ALL of the show, from beginning to end, in a week or so.

So I did. Later on I started to get the manga, too, although can get pricey at times.

And so I want to talk about it. I’ll talk about it based on my perspective, not just “Oh, wow, this is so good!” or “That Edward, he’s so tsundere,” but what I see in them as a writer and animator myself, not just the story but how the story is told, not just the picture but how the picture is painted.

I’ve got a whole list of topics, and I’ll try to post up every Monday. You want to argue with me, fine, but be articulate, stay on topic, and don’t be a jerk, okay?

Talk to you soon.



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