Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top 5 Anime That Make You Cry Like a Baby

Last month was all mecha pilots, all the time. While we love the mecha/giant robot anime genre, we like all kinds of anime. So just to show that we’ve got a sensitive side and aren’t just a bunch of mecha-heads, here are our Top 5


[Caution: Spoilers and soiled Kleenex ahead!]

#5 - Grave of the Fireflies (Motion Picture)

No shocker here: Both kids die. Not your regular fanfare from cuddly Studio Ghibli. But even though we know what happens to the kids from the very first sequence, it doesn’t ease the pain. Our hearts fall into pieces as we observe the slow, starving demise of this brother-sister pair in post-WW II Japan. We echo Roger Ebert in recommending this film for all war movie fans—and all film fans with a heart.

#4 - Wolf’s Rain (Episodes 27-30)

Fun fact #1: Wolf’s Rain was originally planned for a standard 26-episode run. That was before the Asian bird flu epidemic near the turn of the century interrupted production schedule. With deadlines looming, the folks at Studio Bones had to whip up a record four recap episodes to act as fillers throughout the show. Following the unresolved ending of episode 26, the creators eventually got things together to tie up the story with an additional quartet of shows.

But after watching them, your tear-stained eyes may regret it. As the heroes (wolf and human) near the sought-after “paradise,” they each fall one-by-one in assorted tragic ways, showing the coldness and cruelty of a dying world. Even the ultimate triumph is bittersweet, as the taint of evil remains in the reborn world. Yoko Kanno’s melodic score only adds to the melancholic tale.

#3 - Trigun (Episode 24, “Sin”)

No anime does a better job of steadily transitioning between goofy episodic adventures to a heart-wrenching odyssey for redemption. Vash the Stampede is more than a lucky humanoid typhoon. He’s a tortured sole who’s vowed to never take a life. But our hero must cross that line near the story’s end, when Vash must choose between letting his friends die or saving them by killing the sadistic Legato. Trust us, V. You made the right decision.

#2 - Cowboy Bebop (Episode 24, “Hard Luck Woman”)

We’ve seen hints of Faye’s past in previous episodes, but we (and she) learn much more about her complicated story in this one. After meeting an “old” friend in her childhood neighborhood, Faye runs to the top of a familiar hill longing to find her family home. But what she discovers leaves her (and viewers) breathless.

#1 - Voices of a Distant Star (OVA)

Nothing opens the floodgates like teenage love. In this case, we’re talking long distance (and diverging chronological) relationships. Mix in a little mecha action and you’ve got gold.

Fun fact #2: Creator Makoto Shinkai made this masterpiece entirely on his Macintosh computer. (Take that, PC!) Just goes to show that a great story doesn’t need to be a multi-staffed and multi-million dollar production.

Beyond the teenage melodrama, Voices also uses the physics of space travel to add depth and reality to the tale of our forlorn pair. So it’s not just a good love story; it’s a science lesson too. Suck, it up, crybabies.

Okay everyone, hanky time.