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So You Want to Get into Anime: The Best Gateway Anime Series to Indoctrinate Normies

Start your journey to become the King of the Weebs.

Shueisha

Even though anime has made its way into the mainstream over the past few years, negative notions about the medium persist.

With the exception of a few mature animated comedies (some of which are fantastic and thematically complex, like Bojack Horseman), animation in the US is still typically viewed as a medium for children. The idea that cartoons are kid sh*t, while perhaps understandable for someone who has only ever been exposed to Western media, is ignorant of the broad range of animation in other cultures.

In a similar vein, a lot of people insist that they just can't get into anime, or they stigmatize all of it because they don't like the "schoolgirl stuff." But it's important to remember that anime isn't a genre–It's a medium. Individual anime series fall into every genre under the sun, just like movies and live-action TV shows. Saying you don't like anime because of the schoolgirl stuff (which is a very valid thing to dislike) is kind of like saying you don't like movies because of slasher films. You're writing off an entire medium of art over a genre that you can easily avoid.

So let's say you are open to watching anime, but aren't quite sure where to start. Or, more likely, maybe you already love anime and you're trying to find a series to convince your SO that the $200 action figure in your room was a totally reasonable thing to buy (it was, and your life choices are perfect). Just check out any of these gateway anime series that serve as perfect entry points into the medium's diverse offerings.


Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)

Kodansha

Few series have ever come close to crafting a narrative as perfect as Attack on Titan. The premise is high-concept: The last surviving humans live in a walled off city surrounded by giant, humanoid, man-eating monsters called Titans. One day the walls are breached, and three surviving children—Eren, Mikasa, and Armin—set their sights on joining the military in order to fight back for the sake of humanity. But what could have been a simple, straight-forward action-horror show, turned out to be so much more. Nothing is ever as it seems in Attack on Titan, and the plot continually twists to turn everything you thought you knew on its head. Attack on Titan is thrilling, terrifying, tragic, and emotionally resonant, oftentimes all at once. It's a show about the horrors of war and the lengths humans will go to protect the things they hold dear to them. If you only watch one anime ever, make sure it's Attack on Titan.

Zelda Williams

This weekend, Eric Trump gleefully shared a video of the late Robin Williams making fun of presidential candidate Joe Biden that bore the caption, "Robin Williams Savages Joe Biden."

Zelda Williams tweeted in response, "While we're 'reminiscing' (to further your political agenda), you should look up what he said about your Dad. I did. Promise you, it's much more 'savage.' Gentle reminder that the dead can't vote, but the living can."

Robin Williams, who would have turned 69 last month, had certainly poked fun at Joe Biden. In the clip shared by the younger Trump, Williams quips, "We still have great comedy out there, there's always rambling Joe Biden, what the f***... Joe says s*** that even people with Tourette's go, 'No. What is going on?'" He continued, "Joe is like your uncle who is on a new drug and hasn't got the dosage right...I'm proud to work with Barack America — 'He's not a superhero, you idiot — come here!'"

His comments about the current president were far more incisive and far-reaching. For example, in 2012, he referred to Trump as "a scary man" and "the Wizard of Oz" because "he plays monopoly with real f***ing buildings."

Of course, these jokes are based in very real calamities. Many of Trump's real estate projects and business ventures have notoriously fallen through or crash-landed completely, landing him in massive debt. Yet time and time again he was bailed out by his father, Fred Trump, who paid millions to keep his son's delusions of glory alive. He was also bailed out by a variety of banks (and still owes Deutsche Bank an outstanding $350 million). In some ways, it's no surprise that Trump will leave America sick, in debt, and in crisis.

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Cutting "Fly Me to the Moon" From "Neon Genesis Evangelion" Is Defacement of Art

Netflix removing "Fly Me to the Moon" displays a lack of care for the show's core thematic elements.

giphy

Nobody would ever condone smearing paint on Mona Lisa's smirk or lopping off David's marble genitals.

Why, then, would anyone be okay with Netflix removing "Fly Me to the Moon" from Neon Genesis Evangelion? Netflix's decision to remove the outro from such a culturally important anime is akin to any other defacement of great art.

Within the anime community, Netflix's release of Evangelion was genuine cause for celebration. The original 1995 Evangelion series remains one of the most influential anime series of all time, but actually finding a way to watch it in the West has always been a massive headache. Up until now, Evangelion has been completely unavailable for streaming, even through paid rental. Viewing options were limited to illegal downloads or shelling out the cash for an expensive DVD box set. Widespread availability on Netflix means more than just ease of access––it means greater exposure for Anime as Art (both with capital "A's").

evangelion Gainax

To fully grasp why Netflix's removal of "Fly Me to the Moon" is so egregious, it's important to understand where Neon Genesis Evangelion falls within the larger anime canon. Before Evangelion came out in 1995, the anime industry had grown stale. Long-running mecha (giant robot) franchises, particularly Gundam, dominated the airwaves. Massive piloted robot battles in space were fun in their own right, but not especially groundbreaking.

Evangelion changed that. It was indeed a mecha series, like Gundam, but instead of focusing on the robot battles, it focused on the pilots––young teens tasked with inhabiting giant robots to fight destructive alien beings called "Angels." Whereas Gundam banked on the "cool-factor" of their robot battles, Evangelion fights weren't fun––they were inevitable sources of loss, destruction, and trauma. Characters suffered from anxiety and PTSD, struggled with their maturation amidst absurdly traumatic circumstances, and explored religious ideologies. Evangelion was not just the first anime to deconstruct its own genre; it was one of the first anime series to garner mainstream Japanese appeal. Evangelion wasn't just a great anime; it was a work of art that explored deeply complex themes and paved the way for similarly ambitious, complex series like Cowboy Bebop.

cowboy bebop spike Sunrise

But why is "Fly Me to the Moon" so important to Evangelion as a work of art? Because it's the outro, and in anime the outro matters—a lot. Outros, or Ending Themes (EDs), are the songs played at the end of each episode of an anime. Unlike Western cartoons, which usually use instrumental versions of their opening themes, anime outros are full-blown affairs. Intended to leave viewers with a specific emotion post-episode (excited, sad, wistful, etc.), outros tend to be originally composed pieces, complete with lyrics and matching, stylized animation. In essence, outros are fully intertwined with a show's theme, and they provide an integral endnote to the viewing experience of any given episode.

This is especially true for Evangelion, wherein each of the series' 26 episodes ends with a different rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon." Performed by various artists, including voice actors from the show, the renditions switch up everything from tone and tempo to instrumentals, creating a dissonant experience across episodes; the viewer is always left feeling in flux. This mirrors the unease felt by the characters in Evangelion, who grow up in an environment where everything they love can be taken away from them at any moment. Coupled with the space-based subject matter, the "Fly Me to the Moon" outros never seemed like an afterthought, but rather like a painstakingly crafted, curated, essential piece of Evangelion.

Fly me to the moon - Ending Evangelion (Versión completa) www.youtube.com

Removing them is no different from stealing an essential aspect of any other iconic work of art. Evangelion without "Fly Me to the Moon" isn't Evangelion; it's a fake, a bootleg, a flawed rendition. Without "Fly Me to the Moon," anyone watching Netflix's version of Evangelion for the first time will be missing a core emotional beat to their viewing experience. At this point, it's best to just buy the DVD set.