[Animanga Festival] My pick for your first time

So I’m joining this Animanga Festival late, but I think this is a great idea. I’m a big fan of any event that joins community members, and gets everyone talking about what they love.

I’m not sure if it’s cool that I join. I just did. You can find the brochure here. The blog here. And the sign up sheet here.

The nice thing about starting late is that I get to read what everyone already wrote. To be honest, I haven’t watched Yuri!!! on Ice, I saw the first couple episodes of the Orange anime and I’ve only heard about Your Lie in April in passing.


Whenever I’m faced with this question, I always give the easy answers: Cowboy Beebop, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex. These are all shows that effectively ape western tropes, so they’re easy to sell. Do you like Killjoys, well you’ll probably like Cowboy Beebop? Do you like Dragonlance, then Fullmetal Alchemist is your thing. Like NCIS, you’re probably the right person for Standalone Complex.

Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the anime we should be recommending. We should be recommending Paranoia Agent.

A Brief Case for Paranoia Agent

So for the people that aren’t familiar with the late, great Satoshi Kon, he was primarily an anime film maker. Most of his works became lost amid the flood of Hiyao Miyazaki movies that seemed to define anime film in the early and mid 2000s.

He directed a bunch of movies that I honestly haven’t seen, but I’ve heard were good: Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika.

The work I am familiar with is 2004’s 13-episode television series Paranoia Agent. It’s told like a series of morality plays that follow people in dire straights who often are attacked by a seemingly supernatural force, named Lil’ Slugger. Each of these small morality plays is a brilliant story in their own, but how everything expands into a brilliant story about mass media is great.

This is really a work every anime fan should watch. At the very least, so they can say they did.

Why do I recommend what is a very challenging show that is steeped in Japanese culture? It’s pretty simple. I think as anime fans, we play it a little too safe with our recommendations.

Sure, Cowboy Beebop, Fullmetal Alchemist and GitS:SAC are all safe picks. There are a lot of safe picks. But most of them don’t show what anime is capable of. I want to show people something that is not safe, but is good. That may make them turn away, but probably won’t. I want to give people something that they won’t get from traditional American television. Something that is surreal, intense and thought-provoking.

Anyway, that is my thought for today. I may change my mind tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “[Animanga Festival] My pick for your first time

  1. Paranoia Agent is the only Satoshi Kon work I never saw, but I certainly want to check it out. Kon died way too soon which is a tragedy. He was so creative and cerebral. I would definitely check out his filmography.

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