Episode 3: Animaniac

I never really understood the hype about anime.

 

This from a person who watched Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away when she was 10 . Not only did the film go on to win Academy Awards but it is also one of Japan’s highest grossing films. After watching the film I could see why. Chihiro’s adventures were fascinating and all the characters- Haku, Yubaba and even No Face were all drawn in detail and had a bewitching personality that translated from reel to real. When my friend lent me the DVD, I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I should have been able to relate to the girl on the cover who looked like she was heading off on an adventure. Somehow though, on first glance, I felt like I couldn’t connect. It all seemed foreign.

Even after watching Spirited Away, as I grew up, the notion still remained. Anime was foreign.The characters were two dimensional, emotionless cardboard cutouts. At this point, I hadn’t even watched an anime. I was judging purely on the basis of my friends’ sharing memes/videos/pictures all over Facebook. I was half confused- half amused as to why ANYONE would watch these cartoons. Even if they were a fan of cartoons, why not watch animated movies? Why not watch reruns of Dexter’s Laboratory or The Powerpuff Girls? (Probably watched them a 100 times). I love cartoons. I’m a definite fan. Yet I still watch them only if there’s literally nothing else on TV. Or when I’ve hit the wrong buttons on my remote and something caught my eye. I couldn’t imagine someone actually streaming a cartoon show online and then sitting through the entire thing and actually discussing it with others.

As an afterthought, that feels so weird. I watched a cartoon show about a Professor who concocted girls in his laboratory. Girls who did not have fingers. Girls whose bodies were bigger than their heads. I watched a cartoon about a purple dog (Courage the Cowardly Dog), a cartoon about an entire house full of “imaginary” friends (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends). And I still thought anime was weird. I’d expected everyone to be over “cartoons” when they were older and I guess I was surprised when that didn’t happen.

When my summer vacation started this year, I was deep in conversation with a friend and there was a mention of anime. She immediately said, “Have you watched Death Note?” I shook my head and told her that I wasn’t drawn to anime and couldn’t connect to it. Then she asked, “Which ones have you watched?”. That caught me off guard. I hate judging people/things without understanding them first (food is an exception). My friend also told me that she doesn’t usually watch anime as well and the fact that she did watch Death Note and was even recommending it meant it was out-of-the-world.

So I found myself watching Death Note.

After going over my symptons, I self diagnose myself with Death Note hangover.

Not only in love with the show (which I finished watching a month ago) but with the characters, the plot and the dialogues. It was perfect. I don’t think if I’d watched any other anime I would love it as much as I loved Death Note

Light was one of the best characters I’ve ever encountered including American tv shows. Light is a boy who comes in possession of a Death Note that causes the death of a person whose name is written in it. At first, he starts punishing criminals whose names he comes across on the news. However, when the police/detectives are are on to him, he manipulates people to give up their name and even kills innocent people to cover up his “justice” towards the criminals. Light’s complex personality and his genius gives way to the most interesting personality ever.

L’s character sketch was even more phenomenal. He was basically like a more eccentric Sherlock Holmes with an insane amount of wit, sarcasm and dry humor.

 

 

Apart from the two main leads, the other characters played an important role in the development of the story and soon enough, I was absorbed in the plot watching all the episodes in 2 days straight. The characters were relatable, fun to watch and the plot was absorbing till almost the very end (slightly before the end, things went a little south and got unnecessarily complicated).

This didn’t seem like a cartoon anymore. It dealt with moral issues and things that weren’t “immature” or kiddish at all. It didn’t seem foreign and weird. The characters didn’t seem emotionless and the dialogue was actually much more grown up than I expected it to be.

If you are hesitant about anime, this is the place to start. Death Note, as morbid as it sounds, was one of the best uses of time this summer vacation. Apart from sleeping of course (and eating).

I also finished watching Attack on Titan and am currently watching Code Geass which also seems really good. Unlike Bollywood movies or even Hollywood movies/cartoons, they don’t stick to the main character being the constant hero. Sometimes, he is the anti-hero. At other times, he dies and the story moves on with the other characters and is just as interesting. That’s something really hard to do and I think anime has been perfecting it for a long time now.

Sania

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