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Iaboo, Youaboo, Weallaboo for Anime!

The Patlabor movies are respectable, important, gorgeous films. There's a lot to like about the craft and the ways they tell their stories. People should definitely watch them. But I find them objectionable for the same reason I find the original GitS film objectionable: that they take this fun setting/source material that I love, and wring every ounce of fun and joy out of it. They are also regressive in that they take one of the best heroines in anime history and then sideline her in her own thing. Just very much, not a fan! But that's an obviously ymmv sentiment.

As long as we've got a free-for-all on recommending problematic bubble OVAs, don't sleep on:
Dominion Tank Police - gorgeous and fun, but also I imagine could be used as a poster for ACAB these days.
3x3 Eyes - One of my personal favorites, but there's also zero chance Yakumo's okama-bar is going to end up being remotely tasteful.
Robot Carnival - I basically remember nothing about this, but I can't imagine it not having a bunch of sleaze in it.

And for some (hopefully) less problematic recommendations:
Rumic World: Fire Tripper - which is like a rough draft for Inuyasha.
Jarinko Chie - a really weird but charming look at post-war life on the margins of Japanese society.
Lupin III: Plot of the Fuma Clan - just an all around solid Lupin III caper, and easily is the best animated Lupin thing, while being a mostly sleaze-free Miyazaki-style Lupin.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I recommend against Bubblegum Crisis; it's garbage. Look up the soundtracks instead, watch clips, maybe stare at the character designs some, but leave it at that.
  • Angel's Egg if you want an almost completely silent tonal piece free of a traditional spoken narrative and which only deals in pure symbolism.
  • Vampire Hunter D is the kind of pulp machismo and sexism that's difficult to withstand in larger doses, but for a film that's mostly concerned with a desolate atmosphere, weird critters skittering about on the periphery and Amano gorgeousmen squaring off, it's bearable enough.
  • Dirty Pair is a general recommendation... but the OVA series from '87 to '88 is among the few I haven't seen yet. The other two separate individual OVA entries are merely fine; you want the first TV series and The Movie if the franchise is totally fresh to you.
  • Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko is worth looking up for a formative work in the fantasy bikini warrior zeitgeist that sprung up around its time as part of contemporary trends. It's pretty dry as those things go, but the aesthetics take it far.
  • Black Magic M-66 is the best of the Masamune Shirow OVA adaptations and a big improvement from the source material, an odd curiosity from one of the more distinct creative voices out there in all its shaky juvenilia.
  • Aim for the Ace! had two episodic OVAs during the bubble, including the series climax Final Stage... but they are very much the culmination of a serialized story told in animated adaptations since 1973--if you want Hiromi's story, it's recommended to begin at the beginning.
  • Dragon's Heaven, part unparalleled style tribute to Moebius, part incredible synth soundtrack, part model-making indulgence and excess at its best.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes of course extends far into the '90s in its production history as it's so tremendously vast, but it began in '88 with a banger of a film and then immediately segued into the episodic OVA proper. If you like stoic men in uniforms politicking in space, you'll probably want this.
  • Mobile Police Patlabor the OVA goes seconded from me and is my favourite incarnation of the franchise.
  • Cipher the Video is the definitive artifact and record of the era and industry as it was then. Unmissable.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket is the most easily digestible part of the series that probably exists as it's a compact, small-scale story with a lot of interpersonal focus in its storytelling, eschewing the franchise's larger and sometimes more esoteric thematicism.
  • Record of Lodoss War, if you want fantasy so archetypical that it became practical scripture for the genre from then on, across mediums. For single-frame cel intricacy in animation, it's one of the top examples.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
Patlabor movies are good but they're a very different kind of good from Patlabor TV and OVA episodes, yeah.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
It is true that Bubblegum Crisis fridges women left and right. Its lasting contributions are all in atmosphere and design, not plot.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
I mean, it wouldn't be a Kenichi Sonoda production without both extreme skeeviness and being incredibly mean towards women.
 

Alixsar

The Shogun of Harlem
(He/him)
I still like Bubblegum Crisis, warts and all. It's basically a given with 80s-90s anime (and honestly a lot of anime even today) that something racist and/or misogynist will happen; you have to learn to compartmentalize things. Are there anime that don't do this stuff? Of course. Are there some that lean way too heavily into it and completely irredeemable? Of course. Everyone's tolerances and where "the line" is drawn are gonna be different. But ultimately a bunch of cool ladies in bad ass looking robot suits fuck up anime Terminators while living in Blade Runner City™, and that hits a lot of buttons for me. It's...uh, not the MOST misogynist thing I've ever seen...? *sweats profusely*

Also yeah Lodoss War rules. They made it into a TV show later but it's mostly boring and looks impossibly shitty so stick to the OVA. If you REALLY wanna get wild, Legend of the Galactic Heroes has a 100+ episode OVA that is insanely good but also 100+ episodes and about politics and war so it's not for everyone. But it rules at doing that! The Patlabor OVAs and Gundam OVAs (War in the Pocket and Stardust Memory) are both good, with the former being top tier and the latter being incredibly stupid but maybe the most gorgeous looking thing Sunrise has ever done.

If you really wanna go for it, there's a bunch of City Hunter movies and specials from the 80s. It's a hard recommend, with the main character being a "cool guy" who, for comic relief, is basically a "womanizer" and a "creep" who runs around stealing panties and shit and then his female partner beats the shit out of him with a Looney Tunes-style gigantic hammer. It's meant to be a buddy cop/romance action-comedy thing, and I think it works, but the material is clearly extremely dated. The movies don't lean as heavily on that stuff (the 2nd one is basically what is Ryo did a Die Hard?), and most of the truly objectionable material is in the TV show (he very clearly tries to slip drugs into a woman's drink in one episode...or maybe that was one of the movies? I don't remember but the point is ughhhhhhghggggghhhh nooooooo barfffff), but yeah...lots of well drawn 80s animation, and sometimes it's actually funny, but you really have to be able to ignore one of the central premises of the concept and the main character to get into it and that's extremely hard to do.
 

Rosewood

The metal babble flees!
(she/her)
There are the Ranma 1/2 OAVs, which are basically fancy TV eps. Heroic Legend of Arslan, Tokyo Babylon, Please Save My Earth, Here is Greenwood are all much shorter versions of long, shoujo or shoujo adjacent stories. Nicely animated but might not make a lot of sense if one isn't familiar with the source material. (Less true of HiG. We watched them a little while ago and they were still great fun. I think they'd be pretty good even if the famous Cagliostro sequence weren't there.)

Potentially questionable, it's been close to 30 years since I saw it: Combustible Campus Guardress
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Oh yeah, it's been a while since I thought of it but Here is Greenwood is a delight. And yeah, can confirm those other things Rosewood mentions as very pretty but not so big on having follow-able plots on their own.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
Thanks for the recommendations, gang; I added most of them to the list. Also, it finally happened. I've started watching Slayers. (It's good)
 
Oh yeah, also the 90s Birdy the Mighty OVAs. The OVAs are a little threadbare, but they look real good. And I just really like the idea of Birdy. It's like, what if Ranma was a Green Lantern.
 
I've been watching Godzilla S.P. - we're now at episode 8. It's still real good, and things just keep getting better. Don't want to spoil too much so I won't go into specifics but it's a very charming show and it really hits the core formula of a Godzilla media better than anything else I've seen in a long while. Just having such a technical script helps lend the scientific technobabble an air of authenticity to it. And it also helps that the human characters scrambling about and trying to react to these forces of nature are all pretty likable characters versus being the worst/most boring part of a lot of Kaiju films.

The reason I bring it back up is two bits of news. First, beginning this week with Episode 8, Netflix Japan is including English subtitles with every new episode, and retroactively added English subs to all the previous episodes. So if you want to watch this show in slightly less ethically dubious ways, and have access to a VPN, you can watch it right now with English subs. The subs themselves are very much standard Netflix fare. They get the job done, but they're kind of bad. They lack charm and eloquence, at times they take huge liberties in their translations and at other times they're bafflingly literal. It would feel like amateur hour, if it weren't for the fact that the fansubs are better written/translated and thus would be an insult to the amateurs. I'm also not convinced whoever is translating this actually understands all of the technical Japanese being used in the show, or is getting everything accurately translated, but that's just a hunch I have, and am not really equipped to make a full and accurate comparison.

The second bit of news is that the show will come to Netflix domestically on June 24th. Which is actually pretty quick compared to the usual several months plus that their shows are stuck in Netflix Jail, but still not close to ideal and should have been simulcasted weekly all along.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Oh dang.

Trailer's positioning it more on the thriller side of Lupin, but it's an early tease so who knows. Also looks like Britain this time?
 
I've been watching Godzilla S.P. - we're now at episode 8. It's still real good, and things just keep getting better.
It’s 2:30am and I still can’t sleep because holy eff, this show is good. TFW episode 10 and the classic Godzilla ost kicks in and I got goosebumps. It’s already the best Godzilla thing in ages, now just to wait and see if it sticks the landing.
 

q 3

Posts: 48,017,820,104
(they/them)
The new season of Zombie Land Saga is on fire, y'all. Well not literally. Not yet. Yugiri duels the Battousai! Lily dabs on Light Yagami! The Legendary Yamada Tae goes grocery shopping!
 

ThornGhost

lofi posts to relax/study to
(he/him)
Was looking to see if there was info on when the Love is War OVA might be officially translated but, uh, it looks like it's been fabsubbed on YouTube and it's also baaaaasically hentai. At least the first part is anyway. I know OVA's get a little loosey goosey with tone but this is so far afield from what I was expecting. Hopefully it is not an indication of where season 3 is headed.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I went and looked that up out of some kind of masochistic curiosity, and yup, that's one of the worst cases of "it's still hentai even if you frame it as a parody of hentai" I've seen in quite some time.
 

Rosewood

The metal babble flees!
(she/her)
I skimmed through the last few pages to see if there was any mention of this one, but didn't find anything. Admittedly if the title wasn't in bold I likely missed it. Anyhow! Those Snow-White Notes. (on CR) It's similar to Descending Stories in being a slice-of-life drama featuring a traditional Japanese performing art. In this case, it's shamisen. The shamisen parts are more interesting than the characters, so far, but that can certainly change as things go along. It is written to be accessible to newbies to the form: for example, there's a shamisen/vocal duet in the 2nd episode, and before the characters start the song, there's a brief explanation of the common interpretation of the lyrics. For something we semi-randomly chose to watch, it's quite good and we intend to continue with it.

We also watched the first episode of Kono Oto Tomare on Funimation--this one about a high school koto appreciation club--and were nowhere near as impressed. Too much emphasis on bullying (imo) and they didn't even have any koto music in the ep!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Kono Oto Tomare and Those Snow White Notes, despite having very different leads... are kind of the same show. Snow White actually has the main instrument in the first opening ( but not the second strangely), the animation is a but sharper, it's slightly less clichéd. Buuuut despite being surface level pedestrian, Kono is the show I became more invested in. It's like a feel-good crowd pleaser, a bit more than Snow White. Both are good shows but I wasn't anticipating each episode like Kono, a deceptively engaging series.
 

Rosewood

The metal babble flees!
(she/her)
We only watched the first ep of Kono Oto Tomare so maybe we'll go back and give it a proper three-ep test! We aren't paying for Funi and if I thought YouTube was bad about ads... watching the exact same ad three times in a row, for multiple commercial breaks, all unskippable, has it beat by a significant margin.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I'm watching Snow White Notes with Johnny, but at this point am mostly driven by inertia, I think. It's fine, but I too haven't really managed to get invested. Kono Oto Tomare, meanwhile, managed to snag me sufficiently that I plowed right in to the manga after the show was finished and am currently up to date on that. I can't really point at anything about it to recommend it over Snow White Notes, but it just managed to get me to really root for these dumb kids in a way that Snow White Notes hasn't to this point.
 

q 3

Posts: 48,017,820,104
(they/them)
I feel like Snow White's biggest problem is that the first two episodes teased something way more interesting than generic high school club shenanigans and a tournament arc, but the rest of it has been generic high school club shenanigans and a tournament arc. Good music tho
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
Was looking to see if there was info on when the Love is War OVA might be officially translated but, uh, it looks like it's been fabsubbed on YouTube and it's also baaaaasically hentai. At least the first part is anyway. I know OVA's get a little loosey goosey with tone but this is so far afield from what I was expecting. Hopefully it is not an indication of where season 3 is headed.
I haven't watched it, but I'm caught up on the manga and don't recall anything of the sort, so I think I can safely say it was some anime-original content and not indicative of where the show is going.
 
Random thoughts on the shows I'm watching:

As others have mentioned, whenever So I'm a Spider, So What? goes to the humans, the story drags. I don't really care about them and their boring ass generic fantasy world problems. Especially when the previous episode left things hanging with Spidergirl. Oh well, if that's the price I have to pay for the insane ramblings of Spider, I'll pay it.

If you told me that I would still be watching Don't Tease Me Miss Nagatoro after the first episode, I wouldn't have believed you. But the second episode does a better job of establishing Nagatoro than the first episode's bullying, with subsequent episodes cementing that Nagatoro does have a crush on Naota. It still presents some very wrong lessons, so it's kind of a wash.

Zombie Land Saga Revenge answers some questions! And then casually drops a bombshell! Fuck, I still love it though.

I've Been Killing Slimes For 300 Years and Maxxed Out My Level has a title that is far too long and hasn't been mentioned on here before. Azusa Aisawa was a dedicated office worker. So dedicated she gave everything for the company and died at her desk. So God (or is it Goddess? It is a woman that appears to her) tells Azusa that she will be reincarnated in a fantasy and can ask for whatever she wants. So Azusa asks for eternal life and God throws in being eternally 19 as a bonus and a few other things. Then the title happens in a couple of minutes and the show gets underway. It's a not a bad harem show though, if also not spectacular. And there's only a couple instances of breasts going *boing* on the very well endowed elf girl so it has that going for it too. I liken it to anime comfort food.

Seven Knights Revolution takes far too damn long to go anywhere with it's fucking plot and then does an info dump in two episodes. Much like every other gatcha game to anime adaption, so I shouldn't be surprised.
 

John

(he/him)
I stopped watching anime about 15 years ago, but recently started exercising, and needed something short and entertaining to watch. I've been watching one anime episode a day while on the elliptical, picking stuff that was either recommended or that I can't remember/didn't finish back when I did watch stuff. I'm keeping The Slayers talk to its own thread, so here's just the other shows.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica - This was a patron exclusive topic for the Alzabo Soup podcast, and wouldn't have been on my list to watch if it wasn't. I thought it was okay, didn't blow my mind or anything with its twists and turns, but it was fine from a plot perspective. Even though it was light on fan service, it was still there, especially baked into some of the girls' character designs. That type of stuff really skeeves me out, even when it's not the focal point.

Serial Experiments Lain - I watched most of this back in high school on rented VHS copies, but never finished it. I'm up to Episode 6, and it's starting to get weird, like I remember. No fan service, but it does have creepy detail-free nude Lain in the credit scene, and at various times in the show. Maybe I should stop watching shows starring 14 year old girls?!

Next up, I'll be alternating between the OG Gundam and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, but I did also like the short self contained aspects of the two above titles. If anyone has recommendations of shorter/single season shows, let me know. I did re-buy Cowboy Bebop recently, so that would be a fun revisit, and once distribution comes back for the Macross shows I'd love to check out what I haven't seen there.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
For something different, I recommend Ping Pong, a great little sports drama with out-there animation from Masaaki Yuasa.

Right now, Oddtaxi is a great little noir-lite show about a sardonic but caring taxi driver who ends up in the middle of a disparate set of circumstances headed into a collision course. But the taxi man might have his own set of secrets as he tries to maneuver the situation to his desires.

Erased is a pretty good time travel mystery tale.

The Promised Neverland: there's a disappointing second season but the first is kind of perfect and also leaves off in a perfect spot so you are good sticking with that.
 
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