Japanese anime, good entertainment for students

By Tim Klepp

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With senioritis kicking in, I’ve started an unhealthy obsession with Japanese anime.  I know what you’re probably thinking: anime is a childish thing of the past. But let me assure you, this isn’t the Pokémon you remember from elementary school.  Here’s a list of five great shows (they’re not ranked in any particular order).

“One Piece” (over 55 volumes and 45 anime episodes)

Author Eiichiro Oda first released this manga (comic) in 1997 to much critical acclaim.  He follows the life of Monkey D. Luffy’s pirate crew named the “Straw Hats” as they pursue the legendary One Piece treasure hidden at the end of the Grand Line ocean.  The show exhibits the ancient Japanese code of honor and emphasizes loyalty to friends.  And what’s more, John Son gives it two thumbs up and a creepy smile.

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“Cowboy Bebop” (26 episodes and one movie)

Bounty hunters and jazz music may sound like a strange central theme for a cartoon series, but director Shinichiro Watanabe produces a masterful creation.  The series follows an unlikely group of “cowboys” led by all around badass, Spike.  In most episodes, the gang attempts to catch gangsters, hackers and other varieties of psychopaths.  The amusing characters, intense fight scenes and a super soundtrack make this show truly original.

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“Code Geass” (50 episodes over two seasons)

In the year 2010, the Holy Britannian Empire conquers Japan and sets out to enslave the population in the quarantined location Area 11.  Disowned by his father, the Britannian prince Lelouch sets out to destroy the Britannian Empire to avenge his mother, who was murdered by his father.  The show has an excellent plot, which alternates between flashbacks and the present situation.  However, the art which depicts its characters as eight-feet tall is jarring at first, and takes some getting used to.

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Comartie High School” (26 episodes and one live-action movie)

Director Eiji Nonaka takes a lighter approach than the above shows, following the protagonist Takashi Kamiyama’s life at Cromartie High School for delinquent students.  Although some of the references to Japanese culture may go over your head, the show takes a witty rip at school gangs and popular culture. Nonetheless, American fans will enjoy the non-sequitur humor.

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“Samurai Champloo” (26 episodes)

Produced by the director of “Cowboy Bebop,” Samurai Champloo has a similar theme, but with a twist: rap music and samurai warriors.  Set in a contemporary time period, a stoic ronin named Jin, meets Mugen, a character similar to the arrogant Spike in “Cowboy Bebop.”  The two are instantly at odds, and a brawl leads the duo to pass out from smoke inhalation after fighting in a burning tea house.  This sets the tone for a series of epic struggles that never get old.

Click here to watch episodes.

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