Why I Watch Anime

To someone raised on a pop-culture diet of Mickey Mouse, Spider-man and Star Wars, the world of anime is an alien landscape filled with big eyes and its own set of strange rules.  When new friends learn that I watch anime, the question of just why I watch it inevitably comes up, assuming they don’t themselves.

I watch anime because it is just so different from American animation.

I enjoy anime’s distinct visuals, ranging from the hyper-stylized look of 80’s action shows like Voltron to the beautiful scenery associated with Studio Ghibli productions.  Detractors say “it all looks the same” but the same could also be said about comics and Disney productions. Now, anime does have its own set of visual cues and tropes that have to be learned, but once you learn the ‘rules’ it makes much more sense and becomes more enjoyable.

Secondly, nearly all genres are represented in anime: comedy, drama, horror, science fiction, mystery, fantasy, and yes, even fairy tales.  As cliché as it sounds, there really is “something for everyone.”  I steer more toward science fiction and comedy myself, in my opinion, there isn’t nearly enough sci-fi to be found in western animation  and Japanese comedy (animated or otherwise) is just bonkers.

Finally, anime is not confined to being “just for kids.”  Mature themes are more prevalent than they are in Western animation.  They also don’t feel forced, instead they’re just there.  Contrast this to many American cartoons, where characters don’t get injured unless it advances the plot.  Powerful, moving stories can be told as just effectively in animation as they are in live-action.

I cite “Grave of the Fireflies” as the best example of this: there are no giant robots, no hyperactive girls or pretty-boys, instead it is the sobering tale of two children trying to survive in World War 2 Japan.

That’s not to say that US animation is bad, mind you.  I grew up on the works of Disney, Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera and I enjoy them on their own merits.  For what its worth, though, I think animation in the United States is slowly but surely growing up.

For me, at least, US cartoons were the appetizer, and anime is the main course.  Interesting visuals, genres that are underrepresented in US animation, and more mature content will keep me watching.  The next time that inevitable question arises, I’ll probably reply by asking that person: “Why don’t you watch anime?”

Here comes the snow, and I say: “It’s alright”

My snow covered car
Almost makes me glad I don't have a job to go to in the morning...almost

Its snowing outside my window in San Antonio as I type this, and I just came back inside from taking pictures of it (that you can check out here).  This is only the second time I have had the pleasure of experiencing accumulated snow in my lifetime, and it is just as fascinating as the first: five inches in Corpus Christi, Texas back on Christmas Eve 2004.

To this snow-newbie, at least, everything about snow is fascinating.  The sound it makes as it falls down, the crunch of your feet as you walk on the grass, the way it covers everything in white and the eerie quiet that seems to accompany it.  I love it, and I hope I get to experience it again here in South Texas.

Yeah, sure, I could go somewhere north where it snows all the time, but to have snow in an area usually associated with boiling heat and hurricanes is  just wonderful.  I mean, think about it, right now the Alamo is probably covered in snow…isn’t that CRAZY?

I’m sleepy from staying up to see it, but I just don’t want to go to bed.  I know that if I do, when I wake up the snow will be gone and it’ll be just a cold day here in San Antonio.  Even then, it was fun while it was here.

RANDOM REVIEW: Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories (English Version)

Nobou Uematsu's 10 Short Stories Cover
Hikkari Pikkari!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com.  Uematsu and Roth are responsible for helping take game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” orchestral concert series.  After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.”  I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story.  The album is very much a product of Japan, as subjects range from the ordinary to the mythological to the poignant to the fun and the just plain bonkers.

The album starts out with the tropical beats of “Here Comes Conga Boy” followed by the harmonica-laden, “Gimme Gimme,” which is about a kid who goes around asking anyone and everyone for money.  Things take a turn for the odd with “Hikkari Pikkari,” a story about a sprite who’s job is to reflect the sun’s rays off of his shiny bald head and onto the Earth.  “No Worries!” carries a message about being happy with who you are…even if you happen to be a penguin.  “Whistle A Song” is a happy ditty about the voyage of life, and “The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko” features the star-crossed lovers of Tanabata.  The tone goes back to not-so-serious with “Coconut Castaway” and “The Chef Who Used His Noodle” the second of which chronicles the creation of a certain noodle dish.  “Every New Morning” is a lullaby, as a mother wishes her child a good night.  “Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail” is the rock lament of a Power Rangers-esque villain who laments about his kids being made fun of in school.  The Swhail wishes his adversary would declare: “Without the Swhail I would be lost/Unemployed and eating taco sauce.”

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it.  That said, the songs feature a wide variety of different instruments and styles.  Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout.  As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl.  While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs with my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.”  I’ll give it a listen whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes. The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com. Nobuo and Arnie are partially responsible for taking game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert series. After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.” I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story. The album is very much a product of Japan: subjects range from the ordinary (Gimme Gimme) to the mythological (The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko) to the poignant (Whistle a Song, Every New Morning) to the fun (Here Comes Conga Boy, Coconut Castaway, The Chef Who Used His Noodle) to the just plain bonkers (No Worries!, Hikkari Pikkari, Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail).

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it. The music features a wide variety of different instruments and styles. Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout. As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl. While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “I had the pleasure of interviewing Nobuo Uematsu and Arnie Roth last year for Original-Gamer.com.  Nobuo and Arnie are partially responsible for taking game music out of the living room and into the concert hall with their successful “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert series.  After the interview, Mr. Uematsu presented me with a gift, a copy of “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories.”  I graciously accepted, though I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” is a children’s album, and as the name implies, each of the ten songs tells a story.  The album is very much a product of Japan: subjects range from the ordinary (Gimme Gimme) to the mythological (The Incredible Flying Natsuhiko) to the poignant (Whistle a Song, Every New Morning) to the fun (Here Comes Conga Boy, Coconut Castaway, The Chef Who Used His Noodle) to the just plain bonkers (No Worries!, Hikkari Pikkari, Revenge of the 5-Foot Swhail).

As one would expect out of an album intended for kids, “10 Short Stories” has a pop feel to it.  The music features a wide variety of different instruments and styles.  Bongo drums, violins, synthesizers, and electric guitars are found throughout.  As if to reinforce the cuteness of it all, the songs are all sung by a young girl.  While it does get a bit sticky-sweet, that’s probably the point.

Despite the fact that I’m about 30 years beyond its intended audience, I found “Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs; my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.”  I’ll fire it up whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes.  The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com
Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” to be a quirky album filled with cute, fun, catchy songs; my favorites being “Whistle A Song” and “Gimme Gimme.” I’ll fire it up whenever I need a smile, and you’re never too old for that!

4 out of 5 Swhails.

“Nobuo Uematsu’s 10 Short Stories” (English Version) is available for purchase on iTunes. The author received no compensation for this review and can be contacted at edsoliz@gmail.com