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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)
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.
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One Texas couple became a meme after they went 18 minutes without shredded cheese on their fajitas. What could be worse?
Karens. Even if you don't know them by name, you know who they are.
Karens have been asking to speak to managers all over American suburbia ever since Kate Gosselin debuted her infamous reverse-mullet on Jon and Kate Plus 8 in 2007. "Karens"—the collective nickname for middle-aged entitled white women who love nothing more than being pains in your ass—have been walking among us for quite some time, but as shelter-in-place orders and mask mandates have taken over the world, the presence of Karens has become even more apparent.
Last weekend, a Karen went viral in a since-deleted Tweet for a reason only Karens would empathize with. Jason Vicknair, a 40-year-old man from Allen, Texas, was just trying to enjoy his first date night out in three months with his wife at a Tex-Mex restaurant called Mi Cocina. Things took a turn for the worse.
The days of Tecmo Cup Soccer Game are long gone. Robin Field is dead. Long live Captain Tsubasa.
While anime and manga have certainly become more mainstream over the past few years, most people in the West mainly stick to seasonal releases and the big name series like Dragon Ball and Naruto.
Younger anime fans might venture out to more obscure '90s series like Yu Yu Hakusho, but by and large, '80s anime gets the shaft. This is a real shame, considering plenty of '80s anime series have great stories, compelling characters, distinct music, and a unique aesthetic specific to the era. Of course, some '80s series still possess a certain degree of global clout. Saint Seiya remains incredibly popular in Europe and South America, with a big enough following that most of its video games still get released globally.
Captain Tsubasa, on the other hand, has never received the same degree of recognition. The series follows Tsubasa Oozora, a young boy who loves association football (soccer) and dreams of one day winning the FIFA World Cup for Japan, from the time he's 11 through his pro career. Despite its status as one of the most influential sports series, largely credited for the popularity of association football (soccer) in Japan, Captain Tsubasa never made a big enough impact in the West. Even with dedicated fan bases in Europe and South America, the series remains largely unknown within the larger anime community.
Then this dropped:
In 2020, it may not be particularly surprising to see anime games like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot getting major hype, but there's still something special about an '80s series video game like Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions getting a proper worldwide release for the first time.
Strangely enough, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions isn't technically the first Captain Tsubasa game to get a worldwide release. The first Captain Tsubasa game, which was released for Japanese audiences on the NES in 1988, was also released in the United States and Europe in 1992. Unfortunately, the game was westernized to an unseemly degree, with the title changed to Tecmo Cup Soccer Game and the main character, Tsubasa, replaced with a blonde man named Robin Field. Of course, all the other anime characters were replaced, too.
A worldwide release of a proper Captain Tsubasa game is definitely long-overdue, but it's also wonderful that we've reached a point where such a thing is possible. Gatekeeping might be a natural instinct for anime fans who grew up in the '80s and early '90s, passing around VHS tapes of series nobody else knew existed, but the mainstream-ization of anime is a gift to everyone. The anime community is finally large enough and diverse enough that companies are willing to take a chance on globally releasing a Captain Tsubasa game because, at long last, a large enough audience finally exists. One can only hope that other classic '80s series will follow suit.
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