Nov 302009

5. X

X is the perfect anime needlessly stretched out to twice its length. It’s a bit like Rio: Rainbow Gate in that its perfection is ruined by the need to pander to a certain audience, except said audience is the sort that likes to pretend it’s wallowing in deep philosophical conversations about the fate of humanity when it’s only really repeating the same two lines over and over again. But when X shuts up about the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth, it’s everything I want out of anime. If only we had a middle ground between the TV series’ excessive 20+ episodes and the movie’s all-too brief run time.

4. Cat Soup

This is the short OVA where the brother and sister cat descend into some hellish landscape and encounter a dude in leather bondage gear who wants to cook them and cut them up with a giant pair of scissors. Do I really need to say anything else?

3. Kogepan

Before I saw the series at the top of this list, Kogepan was the best short-episode anime series I had ever seen. It’s about a piece of bread who questions the meaning of life after being burned in the over. No one wants to buy him. He knows that he’d be eaten if he was bought, but he’s still despondent that he’ll never be purchased due to something out of his control. It’s pure existentialism wrapped up in a cute series about talking pastries. It’s the sort of stuff every kid needs to see in order to make their lives all the more fulfilling. Adults too.

2. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Most anime movies made when a series is either finished or still in production are usually unnecessary at best and dreadful at worst. The Bebop movie is unnecessary, but it also manages to be quite satisfying at the same time. The story is easily slotted into the TV series. It doesn’t disrupt anything. It doesn’t explain anything. What it does is give Spike yet another foil with which he can be compared and contrasted. Which is to say it’s like almost every other Spike-centric episode in the series, but that’s hardly a bad thing. It works beautifully as one last farewell, letting the audience hang out with the Bebop crew again without having to “carry the weight” of the finale. Good stuff on par with everything else from the TV series.

1. Popee the Performer

Popee is the gaping maw of Hell. It is a horrific, traumatizing, maddening experience. It’s the sort of madness that can only come out of trying to create a children’s cartoon– all slapstick and sight gags and the basest of humor, but presented in such a way that can only suggest the eternal torment of the most deviant of souls. If I could, I would devote my life’s work to examining the series’ 39 episode, teasing out every thread of meaning like a Biblical scholar pouring over the Old Testament. This isn’t just anime. No. Popee is akin to gazing at the stars and wondering what, exactly, the Powers that Be intended for us mere mortals. And they intended for us to be assaulted with cartoon bombs.

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