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16 July 2010 @ 12:20 am
Recommending Canon: The Animated Edition  
Okay. I have been threatening to do this for, oh, about three years, but the time is now. Largely because I keep seeing people squeeing about Avatar: The Last Airbender, and being simultaneously thrilled (someone loves my shiny!) and woestruck (they are not loving my shiny the way I love my shiny). The latter is a sign of internet insanity, and the cure is doing it my way, out in public, where everyone can see me and point and mock. (And in this case, the mockery is worth doing, because - yeah, totally unbalanced on this subject.) So, without further ado: three animated canons you should really watch. Right now.

Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Here is the thing. Everyone who squees about this talks about, like, the plot, and Aang and Zuko and Katara and Sokka and Uncle Iroh, and the world and the worldbuilding, and while they are right to do so - all those things are so awesome I basically cannot stand it, especially Uncle Iroh, who can be my uncle any time, I tell you what - they are also wrong, because they fail to mention the single most awesome thing about Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is:


Appa is a six-legged flying bison, and he is wonderful, one of my favorite characters of all time anywhere. (This is, uh, not surprising. When BB had watched the first season of A:TLA, she decided it was time to try to get me to watch it. Normally this is an uphill battle, to say the least - I hate trying new TV shows. It's hard! It's scary! There could be - stuff! I suspect she sets aside six months for the persuasive conversations alone. But not with Avatar. It took one conversation:

BB: You will like it.
Me: Um. I don't know.
BB: There is a FLYING BISON. He is best friends with Aang. He is loyal and wonderful and true. Also huge and furry. His name is Appa, and you will love him.
Me: Can we watch it right now?)

I love Appa so much I forced cherryice to make a vid about him. I love Cherry, and I was really excited to win her in a Sweet Charity round, but I also knew we were about to have a painful conversation. See, I have been the winner more often than the person won, but I do know what that initial "Here's what I want!" email feels like from the other side. You're all tense, thinking, Oh god what if she wants something I can't do? What if she wants me to rec only Pride and Prejudice crossover AUs? What if she bid on me and thought she was bidding on calf's-foot jelly? Oh god I cannot possibly make calf's-foot jelly. Both of my winners were awesome, with awesome ideas, but the fear was still there until I actually knew what they wanted. And when I won Cherry I knew I was about to make all her fears come true. No one wants to do a vid about a bison. And normally I give people choices, because I do not want to make them wretched, but with Cherry, I just, you know, got carried away.

It went like this:

Cherry: ...But I'm not sure there's enough footage.
Cherry: Well, you know, um. Maybe, maybe with the right song choice -
Cherry: It's a wonderful song! But. See. Um.
Cherry, bravely: I'll try.

And she did it, and it is fucking brilliant. So I can confidently say that Cherry, if you win her, will try just about anything, and succeed at it beyond your wildest dreams, and also she does not give up. She is worth your top charity donation currency unit of choice, people. Assuming I haven't scarred her for life and driven her out of the charity auction world forever.)

So, yeah, the world is fabulous, the plot is great, the characters are awesome, and all of that is true. But the real reason to watch this is that it has the best damn flying bison in the multiverse. And if you need more reason than that, I don't understand you at all.

Hikaru no Go

I remember the first time I heard of this Hikaru no Go thing. It was before I had heard of animemusicvideos.org, and I was new to vids, and really really really new to AMVs (as in, I don't think I had seen any before), and I somehow came upon obsessive24's Rivals. (Scroll down; it's under Hikaru no Go. And please note that because I was seriously vid-impaired when I first watched it, and I've now seen the canon and memorized basically every detail of it, I can't really say if this works as an intro vid.) Now, this was before I got vids at all, but Best Beloved was already the Vid Ninja, so our post-viewing conversation went like this:

Me: There's anime about Go? And, um. Who dressed the dark-haired guy? Because those clothes...
BB: I think I'd like to see that show.

(For the record, everyone who sees Hikaru no Go has at least a moment or two of wondering about Akira's clothes. They are worth pondering, let me just say.)

So I still had no clue, but then I got my hands on the scanlated volumes of the manga, and I remembered that BB had been interested, and we started reading them. The two of us spent the next few weeks mostly huddled around my laptop, not so much reading as breathing each page, squeaking or shrieking or crying as necessary. It was amazing. And then we got the anime. And it was also amazing.

It's also one of the slashiest canons I've ever read or seen. I can't even tell you how slashy it is. The whole thing, as BB has pointed out, borrows the structure of a classic romance novel, except instead of sex, there's Go. And, in all honesty, most of the later Hikaru/Akira Go sequences are more slashy than an actual sex scene would be. (If you're skeeved out because in the beginning the characters are all wee and cute, don't be: one of the great things about this series is that they grow up, visibly and noticeably, and by the end it does not seem at all inappropriate to be planning their eternal wedded happiness. During which they will probably break at least one Go set a week, but that's fine. That's just how they show their love.)

But here's the single biggest reason why you should read or watch Hikaru no Go: there are long sequences in which two people play Go, and that is all that happens, and it is amazing. You watch all tense and on the edge of your seat. You care deeply about each play (and this is even if you know nothing about the game at all). I'm quite serious.

I mean, sure, there are other reasons - Sai, Touya Meijin, the epic romance, the incredible plot that never misses a step, the secondary characters, Akira's wardrobe - but really you should just watch it so you can become profoundly invested in imaginary Go games.

Princess Tutu

I believe there are some people reading this who are interested in writing or storytelling or meta about stories. Could I get a show of hands? Okay, who out there is interested in fairytales? Or ballet? Mmm-hmmm. And ducks? Does anyone like ducks?

People, Princess Tutu is for you. Seriously: this thing could have been written for fan-fiction-writing fandom.

Princess Tutu is another canon I first learned about through a vid (on AMV.org and on YouTube), the justly famous Hold Me Now. (Seriously. It was a canon I didn't know set to a song with lyrics I couldn't understand, and I still watched the thing a million times. It's that good.) I didn't know entirely what was going on - there were ballet dancers? And there was a duck? And there were crows? And also sword fights and writing? But I knew this thing had to be awesome. And I was right.

Princess Tutu is anime that has faith in your intelligence. It doesn't just hand you all the answers, and you have to keep watching for a few episodes to get into it, and then suddenly you're so fucking into it and OMG on the edge of your seat and simultaneously thinking Deep Thoughts about Stories and really really concerned about a duck. (For everyone out there like me: the duck is fine. Repeat: the duck is fine.)

It also defies your expectations. In the commentary, one of the English voice actors talks about how shocked she was when she found out the entire plot. (I totally appreciated the expectation-defying, since the expectations it defied for me were largely ones I was happy not to see go through, but be warned that some people may have issues here. I am thinking specifically of the Amazon reviewer I saw, many years ago - sadly, her review is no longer with us - complaining about a character getting "the rear end treatment." For the record, there is no actual buttsex in this. Nor do I think anyone got metaphorically fucked in the ass. But, well. Obviously someone thought so, and Best Beloved and I have been referring to the rear end treatment ever since.)

And - look, you want a strong heroine? She's here. You want a male damsel in distress? He's here, and he's also, uh, passively kickass, which I think you will admit is a neat trick. You want a slash pairing? Indeed you can have one, my friend, and you can choose your flavor: boyslash or girlslash! You want character development and secrets revealed and characters you think one thing about and then you learn more and change your mind? It's all here! You want random talking animal characters? You've got them! You want to learn about ballet? YOU CAN HAS. This series is just so, so incredible. I can't tell you how much. Every time I meet a media fan who hasn't seen it, I cry a little.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Imaginary Researcher: Indiana Jones - miggyhannahrorlove on July 16th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
Appa was based on the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro, which just makes him even more awesome.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
I admit it, I have not seen My Neighbor Totoro, but I've seen vids, and I can see the inspiration there. Although of course Appa is far more awesome, but that is only because Appa is more awesome than ANYONE.
(no subject) - hannahrorlove on July 16th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - artyartie on July 16th, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hannahrorlove on July 16th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - artyartie on July 16th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hannahrorlove on July 16th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hannahrorlove on July 16th, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paceus on July 16th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - telepresence on July 16th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
travels_in_timetravels_in_time on July 16th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
being simultaneously thrilled (someone loves my shiny!) and woestruck (they are not loving my shiny the way I love my shiny)

This? Pretty much sums up ALL OF FANDOM, EVER.

tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
...You know, I hadn't noticed that, but you're right. Okay, I feel less crazy!
Lithyhalcyon_shift on July 16th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
I posted a few days ago on Avatar: TLA and it basically went "... yeah, they had me at the flying bison." By which I mean, APPA APPA APPA APPA \o/
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)
I had noticed that you were appropriately impressed by the Best Thing About A:TLA! I have tentatively added you to the Friends of Appa list.

Although if you persist in this "no fic or vids" policy, I am going to have to send you pictures of SAD APPA.
Glenn: inappropriatehypertwink on July 16th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
I love Avatar...I love this show and I just finished watching everything last week. OMG, I love everyone on that show: Appa, Aang, Zuko, Sokka, Katara, Uncle Iroh (even the post-capture musclebound version which kinda freaks me out), even Mai and her broody brooding.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
OMG I LOVE MAI SHE IS SO AWESOME. "She can shoot blue lightning at me all she wants. I am not going down there."

Everything about A:TLA is just so awesome. Except the movie, which apparently is bad enough to cause hemorrhaging.
(no subject) - hypertwink on July 16th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - telepresence on July 16th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
gaudior: fakirgaudior on July 16th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
All three of these series are so good!

(Which makes me a little sad, actually, because if this post had included only two of them and then another series I'd never seen, I would know I could run out and watch it RIGHT THIS VERY NOW, because it was in such good company for such good reasons. But still!)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
They are all incredible, and I celebrate you for having seen and loved them all! Clearly you have excellent taste and should be recommending canon to me. *nods firmly*
Paceuspaceus on July 16th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
Caring deeply about Go: yes, exactly! I was so amazed when I watched Hikaru no Go for the first time. I also laughed at it because it was a story about Go, they're such dorks, and there were comparisons between sword fighting and moving little pieces of smooth rocks on a board. But at the same time I was at the edge of my seat. Complex and wonderful. *g*

(Later I watched Prince of Tennis which is an anime about tennis. It's maybe somewhat worse when it comes to the quality of drawing, but the intense caring is there, exactly the same. In a "Who will win this match omg!!!" sort of way. There's also huge amounts of slashiness. Maybe BB could watch the first twenty episodes or so? Just to see if she likes it? *winsome smile* Ooh, and there's a cat! You'd like him!)

And of course, Princess Tutu is so, so wonderful! I loved reading your commentary on it as well. The characters, the world, the meta, the plot twists! Just amazing. And the fics are really good too!
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. You know, I know several people who love Prince of Tennis. Maybe it's time to hand Best Beloved the discs along with a winsome smile! And perhaps a bribe involving leche flan, which I have just now gotten the recipe for!

Also, you know, I haven't read that many Princess Tutu stories - I finished it in such complete and total love that I just wanted to cuddle the canon to me for a while. But I've had that while. I would be interested in anything you've read and liked.
(no subject) - paceus on July 16th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lacygrey on July 19th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
rocaw: Apparocaw on July 16th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
I love ATLA and yeah, Appa is AWESOME! *nodnodnod*
tried to eat the safe banana: Appathefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
I am glad you know the truth and the way! Also, your icon fills me with joy. *hearts and hearts*
Gninegnine on July 16th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
A:LAB, w00t! Oh the love, and yeah, Appa for the WIN! ...also, Princess Tutu, SQUEEEE! (and yes, that vid IS amazing, and I've convinced several people to watch the show using it,as well, so...^_^)

...still have yet to see Hikaru, but it's on the list. I'm curious, how much anime/manga/jdrama have you seen? Because I have to say, the making you *care* about the most...random things is a trait. I've watched two different jdrama that have me on the edge of my seat while people sit around and correct! (not even take) exams! Oh Japan, I love you ^__^
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV lettersthefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
I've seen - well, let's say I've seen a lot of anime for me. Meaning that I have seen bits of many series, and watched most of several series. (It takes a LOT for me to power through all of anything from television, basically.)

Manga, I've read, oh, maybe five or six series, and would love to read more.

And I've never seen any jdrama.

I will gladly take recs for anything great in any of these categories, by the way. GLADLY.
threerings: PW-edgeworth-hrpmhthreerings on July 16th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Great. I already knew I needed to watch A:TLA, but now I have two more shows to somehow get ahold of and find time to watch. This anime thing is getting time consuming. ;)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV menorahthefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
It is. It totally is. But it's so much FUN! *waves anime at you temptingly*
my real name is Dick Whitman3pipeproblem on July 16th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
I just watched ATLA and APPA IS MY FAVORITE. Appa and Iroh. I love the noises Appa makes while he flies.
tried to eat the safe banana: Appathefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
APPA IS SO WONDERFUL. Eeeee! His little (okay, big) noises!
solar_cat on July 16th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
HIKARU NO GO!!! *makes excited squeaky noises* I have been TRYING to get everyone into this, but it is slow going. They are like, "It's an anime about people who play a board game? ...That sounds boring." And I have to explain to them that it is THE FURTHEST THING FROM BORING EVER, as it is the EPIC LOVE STORY OF TWO BOYS AND A BOARD GAME and every character is amazing and the plot is amazing and frankly the animation is just beautiful and the subtle ways the characters develop and grow up... And, y'know, eventually Hikaru and Akira get married and spend the rest of their lives arguing with each other and are insanely happy, The End. *makes happy flailing noises*

And, as someone who started playing Go because of the series (and recently found a Go club near where I live, so I can actually play against real people again OMG YAY!), one of the coolest things about the Go games in the show is that they're not imaginary. The show is INSANELY accurate when it comes to Go; they had pros consulting to make sure everything was technically correct, and the games played in the show are real games. (There is apparently, though I am not part of it, a segment of the fandom that has tried to identify exactly which games were used. Some are actually famous, I think!)

...Also, EVERYONE SHOULD PLAY GO. It is fun, and basic gameplay is easy to learn. And Sai would be proud of you. Make Sai proud of you! <3
tried to eat the safe banana: Gothefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
I have been TRYING to get everyone into this, but it is slow going.

OMG I KNOW. I spent many months trying to persuade someone, anyone, to read the manga or watch the series, and people just recoiled from the concept. I don't understand people at all.

And I also started playing Go because of the series! It's crazy what it does to you. But it's the good kind of crazy.
(no subject) - solar_cat on July 16th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solar_cat on July 16th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cobweb_diamondcobweb_diamond on July 16th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
oh boy, Princess Tutu is just the best! I only got partway through the first season and now I am totally going to watch the rest. at first you are like, "a DUCK? really?" but then it is just TOO DELIGHTFUL. the best people to watch this with are ballet dancers.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV shoesthefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
It is SO WONDERFUL. Go watch more! Go watch right now!

And, yeah, the first couple of episodes, I was like, "Um. A duck? And also the teacher is a cat? I - am not sure." And then suddenly it clicked and I was like OH GOD THIS IS BRILLIANT.
(no subject) - cobweb_diamond on July 16th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
X-parrot: happy seal!xparrot on July 16th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
zomg Princess Tutu. Princess Tutu!!!! *___* <3333

(I thank you for reccing this one. It's been one of my faves for years but it's oddly hard to get people to watch a show about a dancing duck. That vid does help, though...)

I have not actually seen HikaGo (yes yes, it's tragic! someday!) but if you like boys who make things adorably slashy that you wouldn't necessarily think of as slashy, you might want to try Oofuri/Big Windup - I just watched this one; it's a baseball anime, and I have absolutely zero interest in baseball, but these games had me on the edge of my seat. When I wasn't "awwwww"ing at how incredibly teamy everyone was. Sometimes both simultaneously!
aolianaolian on July 16th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
Random commenter here, but I just want to second the rec for Oofuri! I thought of it right away after reading this because what Hikaru No Go does for go, Oofuri does for baseball. I also had no interest in/knowledge of sports, yet ended up totally invested in the baseball matches. There is a really slashy dynamic between the two main characters, and a really awesome, kickass female coach. I finished watching the series a couple weeks ago and I've been squeeing about it nonstop to people who I barely know and people who don't know anything about anime!

Prillalar wrote a great summary+rec of it here, if you are interested!
(no subject) - thefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
can't find my drink or pantsgeeklite on July 16th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
complaining about a character getting "the rear end treatment."

Perhaps they were talking about anal bleaching?
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - geeklite on July 16th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Nickyobsessive24 on July 16th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
ZOMG HNG love. I'm so there. And thank you for the vid rec! Yes, this. This is the reason that Akira/Hikaru have remained/will remain my ONE true pairing for ever and ever and ever. It's just so unbearably epic. My husband plays Go and he gets justifiably very angry whenever someone says "oh, it's just a game." I think if you don't understand where he's coming from, then you don't understand the importance of this entire world and just how epic the Akira/Hikaru ship is. :D

Incidentally, that's the reason why I don't buy Akira's mother actually being the Meijin's wife out of true love. I distinctly remember at least one instance where she said dismissively something to the tune of "Oh, I don't know why you two take it so seriously." WHAT.

I started wearing argyle sweaters to emulate Akira. I am, however, yet to purchase a lavender suit.
tried to eat the safe banana: Gothefourthvine on July 16th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
I defy anyone to watch this series and come away with the impression that it is just a game.

And I have never entirely understood how Akira's mother could be so uninterested in Go. Wouldn't you develop some interest in the thing that totally consumes the lives of your husband and son?

I started wearing argyle sweaters to emulate Akira. I am, however, yet to purchase a lavender suit.


(But have you started wearing argyle sweater vests?)

In conclusion: HIKARU NO GO OMG <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3. HIKARU/AKIRA FOREVER.
(no subject) - obsessive24 on July 16th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solar_cat on July 16th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - obsessive24 on July 16th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - solar_cat on July 16th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)