Anime's most outstanding episodes

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Anime's most outstanding episodes

Post by penfold » Thu Aug 20, 2009 12:52 am


Every now and again there's a particular episode of an anime that really sticks in the mind. Maybe it's because it holds a major turning point in the plot, some huge piece of character development or maybe just because the writers have decided they're going to mess with our head by killing off one of the main characters without even a hint of warning. And if we're talking Code Geass, maybe it's even all three in a single episode. And maybe even more than once in a single season!

A number of episodes come to mind for various reasons: Ep 7 of Full Metal Panic - The Second Raid for the major character moment between Kaname and Sagura; Ep 9 of Saikano for the sheer "man, that's messed up" value and Ep 8 of Paranoia Agent for the whole twisting your head at the last minute thing. But the three I want to talk about most are from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Black Lagoon and Ergo Proxy. All three of these have something in common, that is that each of the episode listed below contain what is probably the greatest character defining moment for the "Heroine" of each respective series after which you have to look at the character slightly differently for the rest of the show.

TMoHS: Ep12, Live Alive.
Even before we get to the "character development" moment, this ep's got plenty to elevate its standing from "good" to "great". It's got Kyon's "just a minute" mimicry of Tsuruya-san, blink_and_you'll_miss_it background action, pop culture cameos & references, a nod to the fans (in the form of Koizumi's class play) to the true nature of the Haruhi-universe and what must be one of the best in-show concerts of the last decade. And then, to top it all off we have... The Aftermath. Haruhi's modesty in the face of praise and quiet contemplation under the (confessional) tree moves her from just a godly powered genki girl and closer to being an actual person. We've always known that she's smart, but now we can see that she can actually think, and not just about herself either but also about others and how she affects them. It's probably one of the biggest turning points in her development over the series. Kyon's concern over her and his strong desire to seek her out at lunchtime* coupled with the fact that when he finds her she actually opens up to him with her fears and worries is also a major turning point, but this time in the relationship between the two. This is probably the first time in the show, and the novels, that you can really see a possibility of them actually becoming a couple.

*Kyon wolfing down his lunch in order to get out of the classroom ASAP and then the sudden shift to slowly ambling over to find her, with lashings of self denial all the way, has got to be one of the funniest bits of this ep.

Black Lagoon: Ep7, Calm down, Two men.
This ep starts, and stays, in the "good ep" category for most of it's airtime but where it really moves into "outstanding" is in the last five minutes or so. Throughout the first 15 minutes we have Revy go though ao whole series of moods and emotions leading up to "the row". Apart from peeved and angry (which she spends a lot of time being anyway) we get to see her fascinated by Hotel Moscow's sex tapes (with maybe a touch of naivety too) and flustered by Pigeons job offer. What really makes this ep though is how she reacts when Rock finally blows his top at her. In a way she's been subconsciously weary and afraid of Rock for a while not. She's not been afraid of him physically but more in what he, and those like him, represent to her and how looking at him reflects herself back in her own eyes. She'd spent so long justifying her life and her actions and backing them up with threats and bluster that she can't handle it that a person like him won't back down to her. Would she have actually killed him had he not stopped her? Maybe? She was probably more hoping that once he ended up at gunpoint he'd cower away from her and prove her right but Rock proved himself, and his resolve, to be more than a match for her. Had her aim been purely to kill him then she wouldn't have made such a big flashy show of pointing her gun at him, she'd have just shot him. She also would have stopping him from wrestling the pistol from her, probably by shooting him with the other pistol (she ain't called Two Hands for nothing after all), but instead she put up what was a suspiciously feeble fight. During their argument they actually come to some kind of understanding for the first time and once she realises that he's staying with them totally of his own free will she can accept him as a friend. Their last conversation in the cop car as they're hauled away is really kinda romantic in its own way.

Ergo Proxy: Ep16, Dead Calm / Busy doing nothing.

Some of the best ever comedy and/or dramas, when you boil them right down, are just about people talking. Some of the greatest episodes of several well know British comedies comprise almost entirely of the two main characters sitting on the sofa for 28 minutes discussing whatever comes to mind. Red Dwarf's best eps were often just Rimmer & Lister or Lister and the Cat talking, Porridge had what's considered it's finest episode consist solely of two prisoners locked in their darkened cell over night. Only Fools & Horses was voted the best ever British sitcom but what people tend to remember it for is a non-comedy (and at times tear jerking) episode set mainly in a broken lift (elevator) where the two main characters (Delboy & Rodney) discuss how Rodney's life has changed since his wife's miscarriage. You can make an episode or even a whole series as action-packed as you like but what people will tend to remember later on is the character driven parts. This should start to explain why I consider episode 16 to be not only the finest episode of Ergo Proxy, but also one of the finest episode of any anime. Ever.

This ep is almost entirely about Re-L/Real and marks what's probably the biggest changes in a single character in any single episode of anime. When we first meet her at series start she's arrogant, aloof, uptight, spoilt, rude, focused and maybe a touch naive. She's always had everything she needed at her fingertips, Iggy available to cater to her every whim and her family connections to keep her above reproach. Iggy's final outburst in the episode 15 finally causes her to doubt her own competency and whether she's actually ever earned her position or just been carried by those around her. When, in the next episode, she realises just how helpless she is really is she finally starts to crack up.

Over the space of the episode 16 she goes through most of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. She gets angry both at their inability to escape and also at Vincent for his willingness to sit and wait for the situation to resolve itself. She goes into denial and spends her time trying to distract herself from the issue by studying Pino, and anything else she can find, as well as getting obsessed over Vincents stubble. She gets terribly depressed by her lack of control over the situation and refuses to get out of bed for days. Eventually it's when she finally accepts that there's nothing that she can physically do to get them out of their predicament that she, and they as a group, can move on.

Adding to her misery is the fact that this is the first time she's been forced to live in close quarters with another person and deal with all the compromises that this entails**. It's also the first time she's gone from being a "have" to a "have not". While not immediately evident, it's noticeable in several later episode that this not only changes the way she deals with others, becomes a (slighty) more caring and tolerant person but also makes her more appreciative of what's she's got.

**Sorry girls, the great toilet seat up/down issue between men and women will never be resolved in our lifetimes. It's one of those things we're all just going to have to live with.

It's also during this ep that she starts to change how she views Pino. She's always referred to her before as "The AutoRaiv" and treated her as an infected machine just to be studied or utilised. In episodes after this she actually begins to refer to her by name and treat her as part of the crew rather than a machine or a tool.

The other good thing about these 3 episodes is that the Dubs are some of the best of recent years and apart from the dreadful handling of the songs in TMoHS*** I'd go so far as to say that the English language dubs on each are almost as good as the original versions.

***which are just awful, but I'd been expecting as much so it wasn't that much of a shock that they sucked.

Thanks for listening. Pen'

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Re: Anime's most outstanding episodes

Post by penfold » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:39 am

gertruda wrote:What are some good anime for young viewers besides the older stuff? As an anime fan, my little brother wants to get in on the scene, but my dad's a bit anal about what he watches. I was wondering what some more recent animes are that are good for his age-group that I might enjoy watching as well : P He's 9 1/2, and is really into anime.

Well, I guess the first question is: What’s your brother enjoyed so far? Is he into monsters trampling on Tokyo, big ass robots kicking seven bells out of alien invaders, slick samurai swordplay action, competitive teamwork shows or mysterious tales of magical girls and their quest for justice?

I’d guess the second question is: Just how uptight is your dad? Is it the fighting he doesn’t like (remember when people complained about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being too violent?), the darker tones or adult themes found in number of anime series aimed at teenagers (if so, best stay away from Death Note) or is it just the tits? If it’s the last then you’re probably going to run into problems as, due to cultural differences between us and Japan and their much more open minded attitude to sex* and violence on TV, many of the shows that the Japanese tailor for pre-adolescents tend to be considered over here as being too ribald or risqué for a young audience. Strange but true, a number of Pokemon episodes were banned from being aired in the US as they were considered inappropriate for young children. The Pokemon manga was also edited or censored in places as they considered some of the outfits to be too revealing meaning sweaters, shorts etc were drawn in over the top. ... m_rotation

A good place to start would be with the most popular series for the age range we’re looking for, like the aforementioned Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh! or even those aimed more for young teenagers and up such as Bleach or Naruto. While these shows may have all taken a lot of stick over the years, the simple fact is this: You don’t get as popular as these series have just on pure luck alone. If your fan base numbers in the millions then by God, you must be doing something right. Mind you, nine and a half may be a little early for Bleach, although I know quite a few people who’d claim it’s never to early for Bleach. You could probably also try something like Blue Dragon, Elemental Gelade or some of the more kiddy friendly Studio Ghibli movies like My Neighbour Totoro.

There are a number of places online where you can legally watch streaming anime, many of which are so recent that they’re available literally days after their initial Japanese airing. These sites have the advantage of letting you try out an anime before you shell out any of your hard earned cash to either rent or buy. Generally considered the best of these is Crunchyroll though there are others.

You can also rent anime DVD’s from online rental sites such as Lovefilm. ... genre|7338

Hope this helps, Pen’

*BTW. Did you know that Japan is the world’s second biggest producer of pornography, beaten only by the United States? Looking at the size and population of the US it’s easy to imagine them in their position of king of the porno hill but Japan? It’s smaller than the state of Montana and still manages to put out that much smut!? Wow.

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