Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Monday, January 27, 2014

Newbie Otaku Guide

Okay I did it for games let's try it for anime. You want to get into anime here are some tips.

What is Anime
The short answer is Japanese animation. And the long answer is I don't know. People tend to expand or contract that definition as they see fit. Stylistically Korean animation is similar so why not include it? Or what about shows just animated, but not primarily produced in Japan.

It gets weird, and there are disagreements. So I'm going to be relatively conservative, and stick to shows primarily produced in Japan.

Dub Vs Sub
OMG the internetz will xplodes. Yeah I'm not going to say which one is better, but like the video game guide I feel a good place to start is talking about how to legally get anime in the least expensive way and the distribution services out there that I will talk about later tend offer free subs on their websites.

What does that mean. Well anime is animation produced in japan, and as you would imagine that means it's made in Japanese. If you don't speak Japanese there are two ways to watch.  Three if you are rich and can hire a translator.

Damn crickets.

The first is to watch sub, or subtitled, regardless of the ensuing flame wars I would recommend this to someone looking to stick their toe in just because both Funimation and Crunchyroll two of the leading online distributors of anime offer free subs on their websites. Funi even also has a YouTube channel, making it easier on the Xbox crowd.

The second is to hear it dubbed over with English audio.

Online Distribution
Right now I would say the easiest way to get anime is through digital distribution. One bit of warning. There are lots of pirating streaming sites. Try not to go to those. Anyway, Netflix, Crackle and Hulu offer pretty good selections, but there are other specialty services out there.

I already mentioned Funimation and Crunchyroll. Both services are free but offer a paid subscription to watch things on television rather than computer and in Funimation's case watch their dubs. Manga Entertainment also has a streaming website and Xbox app.

It's Back

So Adult Swim and Toonami got me into anime. Toonami was canceled and Adult Swim was moving away from it towards their own comedy based shows. But they came back. Adult swim decided it was going to have a Toonomi block within a block devoted to anime. A lot of the anime is available elsewhere but if you got nothing going on a Saturday Night, check it out on Cartoon Network. They have a pretty strong line up.

So you want to break me huh.
You're one of those guys who absolutely positively has to have the DVD. Good on you mate. Anime DVD's tend to be pretty expensive.  On top of that a lot the good stuff is out of print.

To be fair the prices are down from the horridness of 10 years ago, and seem to be more in line with normal television boxset prices, and a lot of stuff is getting released in less expensive bundles, but they still aren't cheap.

If you are going to buy them do not buy single DVD volumes. You get maybe 4 episodes for $30. No. Wait and buy the box set which will run about $40 give or take but contain probably at least 10 episodes and for shorter series probably the whole thing.

Also I am not an expert on anime conventions, not by a long shot but they do tend to have flea market areas where you can get a lot of that older out of print stuff on the cheap. That said do not go unless you plan to spend money, between the tickets, and the swag its not unheard of the be out $200 by the end of those things.

Where do I get started?
So now we've gotten distribution out of the way let's talk which anime to watch. That is a hard question to answer.  If I were writing to a specific person I would ask what types of shows/movies you like and go from there.

But I'm not. Let's just say you want something to test the waters. Something objectively good. That doesn't exist but if you put a gun to my head I would say almost everybody loves Studio Ghibli movies. I would watch Princess Mononoke, their founder's Hayao Miyazaki's magnum opus and go from there.

Also you know how I talked about Adult Swim and Toonami. A lot of the anime cannon aired there so I would just go to a Wikipedia list of both of those.  A singular recommendation though would be Cowboy Bebop which for a long time (12 years, 2001-2013) anchored the block, for good reason. It is often held up as one of the best anime of all time. I absolutely love it, but some think it's overrated.

The guys who made Cowboy Bebop originally worked at Sunrise  but later went to form their own, Bones and generally have pretty laudable consistent quality making some of anime's most beloved works.

By the way Soul Eater and Space Dandy two of the videos I used in this post were also animated by them. They know what they're doing.

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