100 Anime

BFI Screen Guide

Background

Part of the same BFI Screen Guide as 100 Modern Soundtracks, 100 Anime is a wild ride through a hundred examples of Japanese animation. Covering everything from the sombre tone of Please Save My Earth and Tombstone For Fireflies; to outrageous comedies like Combustible Campus Guardless and Adolesence of Utena; to the deep psychological explorations of Ghost In The Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion, each entry outlines the work's dynamic reflection of Japanese sensibilities.

100 Anime guides the reader through the strange world that is Japanese animation, detailing its unique difference to the bulk of western/European narrative models and illustrative conventions. Orienting the perspectives used throughout the book is an overall concept of how Japanese post-war popular culture is a lively fusion of spiritual, mystical, technological and representational codes which rarely are allowed such mutation and cross-fertilization.

Through a detailed introduction followed by analyses of 100 anime tiles, the reader is exposed to the wonderfully perplexing overload that is Japanese animation.

Publication

2006

British Film Institute publishing - 2nd printing, London

2005

British Film Institute publishing - 1st printing, London

Slide talks

2012

Sexual Robots & Plastic Humans in Anime - as part of the exhibition JAPAN - KINGDOM OF CHARACTERS, College of Creative Arts, Wellington, New Zealand; keynote for the 25th Society For Animation Studies Conference, RMIT University, Melbourne; VCA Film & TV School

2011

FLCL: How Anime Fucks The World (And You With It) - WORLD CINEMA NOW, Monash University, Melbourne
Sexual Robots & Plastic Humans in Anime - RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne; VCA Film & TV School, Melbourne

2008

Sexual Robots & Plastic Humans in Anime - VCA Film & Television School, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

2007

Sexual Robots & Plastic Humans in Anime - special lecture tour commissioned by the Consul of Japan & the Japanese Embassy, New Zealand & the Japan Foundation: University of Canterbury, Christchurch; Victoria UNiversity, Wellington; the Japan Information & Culture Centre, Wellington; Auckland Museum, Auckland

2006

AKIRA: Post-atomic landscapes & post-sonic mindscapes - University of Liverpool, UK; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
METROPOLIS: Imagined Cities, Suppressed Architecture, Remembered Spirits - University of Queensland, Brisbane
GANTZ: Evacuating the Self - Melbourne launch of the book, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne; Dendy Cinemas Special Event, Dendy Opera Quays, Sydney; presented by FullScreen, Australian National Gallery, Canberra
Sexual Robots & Plastic Humans in Anime - Australian Film & Television School, Sydney

Overview

100 Anime is an exploration of the wonderfully complex and beautifully disorienting world of Japanese animation – anime. This expansive & mind-blowing book delves deep into the chaos of meaning gorged by anime's mutation of Eastern/Western themes, images and sounds. Read this book & navigate the postwar shock waves which still propel Japan's mass media. Ride cultural currents of animation, comics, cinema & music which embody some of the most explosive ideas to ever be contained within any pop culture.

100 Anime is neither an academic text, nor a scant journalistic glance at Japan's ‘freakishness’. The lively text is aimed at: (i) those who have gleaned the weirdness of anime but could not uncover rhyme or reason for the weirdness; and (ii) those who already know and revel in that very weirdness. Exploiting the current fascination with modern Japan, the book fuses funky vernacular idioms, transcultural and post-human imaginings, and electrifying concepts born of a technological and audio-visual awareness. The flow of the text is designed to be giddy, sensory, exhausting. Analysis is melted into observation; critique is dispersed into sensory accounts; and overview is displayed as an expansive plateau for further investigation. The reader will be stimulated with revelations of the wild world of anime whilst being grounded by an overview of: how vast the anime industry is in comparison to live action cinema; how important the calligraphic vein of Japanese culture is in its dissemination of highly graphic material; and how the westernized reading of Japanese iconography requires a complete and irretrievable dumping of all that we have learnt in the Judeo Christian Eurocentric postulation of semiotics, symbolism and mythology.

More than a flirtatious flick through weird cartoons, 100 Anime presents an apparition of ‘the cinema’ turned inside-out: reborn in a post-apocalyptic realm and remade by one of the world’s most unique and hype-multiple cultures.

Asian and Pan-Pacific postwar cultures are no longer confined to their territories on the global map. They progressively invade, transgress and envelop Euro and Anglo societies. Consequently, our understanding of pop culture is being transformed in strange and compelling ways. For some – and for the young in particular – an unlikely contentment blankets the chaos released by collisions between East and West. If one is instinctively attracted to all that is manifest by the postmodern condition, one can understand the so-called collapse of meaning as a flowering of new possibilities and permutations.

This is not news – nor does one have to undertake a course to know it. Time has well passed for the need to analyse pop culture, as if it is a frustrating closed system of signs. Pop culture is too pervasive, rampant, eclectic and multiple to be unraveled and remade into an academic macramé pot holder. Yet this is not a generation gap – it's a cultural gulf, wherein the collapse of meaning is refreshing and stabilizing

Japanese postwar pop culture stands as the ground zero of this mutative phenomenon. Somewhere between the mid-40s nuclear decimation of old world Hiroshima and the early-60s electronic reconstruction of new world Tokyo lies a dimensional warp. The new and the old fold into each other, forever defining Japanese fabric as a hybrid polymer of exacting tradition and radical invention. Smell the old in Japan – it shines like new; rub the new – it sounds old. Sense, experience, comprehension and meaning are melded into a living sensurround which can make you feel simultaneously engulfed and detached in its urban and rural terrain. Japan – that fascinating 'empire of signs' – can be imagined as a transcultural hologram, sent to us in the West as a concentrate. It comes in a hydraulic anti-gravity capsule, labelled in five languages: "the taste of meaning". Drink it and you will understand the free-floating collapse of meaning, the pleasure of weirdness, and the heady flowering of new permutations in the communication of culture.

Anime and manga (Japanese comics) are the most immediate and potent signs of Japan's postwar pop culture. After your first random fifteen minutes of any (non-US-dubbed) anime you're bound to be overwhelmed by its otherworldliness. You will encounter a different gravity, an unlikely atmosphere, an unexpected climate. Tangible one moment, it melts into a strange texture the next. Once caught by its ocular excess and sonic gestalt, your sense of the imaginable future is radically changed. The growth in Western audiences over the past five years testifies to the addiction these worlds induce. And you too can be easily snared by the sexy danger of it all, as you stand before a world of paranormal engines, metallic succubae & cute weapons. Dive in – things become viscous, shiny, loud. This is the appeal, the fascination, the allure of Japanese animation.

100 Anime threads a counter-ideology through its words to address this irritating bias. The book in effect aims to touch a rash of cultural indentations rendered by the hyper-fungal spread of anime over the last thirty years. The result is a sensorial critical text, designed to allow one to feel the spongy deeper levels of meaning in anime – without reducing it to familiar terrain. Ultimately, anime is enduringly strange and microcosmically weird. Scanning and dissecting some of the form’s most perplexing and overwhelming titles, 100 Anime exacts & proclaims the confounding cultural difference that produces plastic beings, intelligent metals & beautiful worlds.

Titles

List of titles

1 Adolescence of Utena
2 AD Police Files
3 Ai City
4 Akira
5 All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku
6 Angel Cop
7 Armitage III
8 Astro Boy
9 Baoh 10 Barefoot Gen
11 Battle Angel Alita
12 Beck 13 Black Jack
14 Black Magic Mario M66
15 Blood
16 Blue Seed
17 Bubblegum Crisis
18 Burn Up!
19 Combustible Campus Guardless
20 Cream Lemon
21 Crying Freeman
22 Dangaio
23 Demon City Sjhinjuku
24 Devil Hunter Yoko
25 Devilman
26 DNA2
27 Dominion – Tank Police
28 Doomed Megalopolis

29 F3 - Frantic, Frustrated & Female
30 The Fantastic Adventures of Unico
31 Fist Of The North Star
32 The Five Star Stories
33 FLCL
34 Galaxy Express 999
35 Gall Force - Eternal Story
36 Gankutsuo
37 Gantz
38 Genocyber
39 Ghost In The Shell
40 Giant Robo - The Night The Earth Stood Still
41 Golgo 13 – The Professional
42 Grave Of The Fireflies
43 Green Legend Ran
44 Gunsmith Cats
45 The Guyver - Bio Booster Armour
46 Hades Project Zeromyer
47 Iczer-One
48 Interstellar 5555 - The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
49 Kekko Kamen
50 Kiki’s Delivery Service
51 Kimba the White Lion
52 Laputa - Castle in the Sky
53 Macross - Do You Remember Love?
54 Maison Ikkoku
55 Marvellous Melmo

56 Mermaid Forest
57 Metal Fighters Mikku
58 Metropolis
59 Moldiver
60 MS Gundam 0083 - Stardust Memory
61 My Neighbor Totoro
62 Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind
63 Neon Genesis Evangelion
64 A Night On The Galactic Railroad
65 Ninja Scroll
66 Only Yesterday
67 Patlabor - Mobile Police
68 Patlabor III - Wasted XIII
69 Perfect Blue
70 Plastic Little
71 Please Save My Earth
72 Poltergeist Report
73 Pompoko
74 Princess Knight
75 Princess Mononoke
76 RG Veda
77 Roujin-Z
78 Rozen Maiden

79 Sailor Moon
80 Samurai Champloo
81 SD Gundam
82 The Sensualist
83 Silent Moebius
84 Slight Fever Syndrome
85 Sol Bianca
86 Space Adventure Cobra
87 Space Firebird 2772
88 Spirited Away
89 Steamboy
90 The Tale Of Genji
91 Tamala 2010 - A Punk Cat in Space
92 Tokyo Babylon
93 U-Jin Brand
94 Urusei Yatsura – Beautiful Dreamer
95 Urotsukidoji
96 Vampire Hunter D
97 Vampire Princess Miyu
98 Violence Jack
99 Wicked City
100 A Wind Named Amnesia