1 year anniversary special; 7 anime that have impacted me or my taste the most

{Today’s post is a special one in the sense that this blog has finally arrived at a 1st year anniversary mark! I’m beyond happy to have reached it this far and appreciate every kind of support I’ve gotten over all these months! These 7 anime, as always, are listed in no particular order.}

  • Ping pong the animation

Two friends grew up playing ping pong together, but unexpectedly, their paths diverge. Makoto Tsukimoto, known as Smile, seems cold and calculating, almost apathetic to the sport, while his friend Yutaka Hoshino, Peco, is overconfident in his abilities. What takes it to the next level is Hoshino losing and becoming distant, while the coach tries to develop Tsukimoto’s talent, as well as his interest in the sport, despite Hoshino going off to train with the help of the coach that trained him in the beginning. The latter tries training from the beginning unwilling to let go and then came the final episode. This is the moment where I held my breath as the two fought against one another, the hero against the robot, both with their own reasons, styles and motivations. One wants to go back to his passion and the other wants to call out to the hero that once saved him to do so once more. What won for me was how much fun and passion the two put into their game, even if the scene wasn’t some prolonged dramatic showdown. Instead it was laced with past memories and flashbacks that didn’t stop the action, but instead enhanced it. Ping pong the animation is unique, not from the themes that coincide in the seemingly simple premise (from apathy, to hard work, to how it all clashes with the unrelenting sea of talent; how being “good” at something in the eyes of those you admire (like your parents) can become your biggest burden) to the unusually fluid yet loose animation style.

The B plot so to say, followed the former arrogant Wenge who looked down upon everyone he fought, after travelling to Japan since he was kicked out of his team. What shines within this subplot is how he grows as a character after losing, to the point of beginning to train a group of unskilled players in comparison to him. He even overcomes his unrelenting wish to be better than everyone else to the point of pushing everyone away. He says that he doesn’t have time to sit around and mope, but to continue to coach his team, after losing to none other than Peco, whom he beat in a devastating difference before. The strongest point in this anime is the character growth and how inspirational each of them can be, even if the anime centers around something as obscure to some as ping pong. The friendship and hardships that each character faces, both with motivation and what each really wants to do, resonated with me immensely. The soundtrack is another thing worthy of not only mention, but praise, as a strength that leaves an even stronger impression not only during fights, but important character development.

  • Koe no katachi

In its core it’s a story about redemption and forgiveness. Whether it comes from the person you wronged in the past or your own self. Safe to say, I read the manga long ago before the movie and while it was great, I like to think of the two as quite separate. Shouya Ishida chose to beat his boredom and become some kind of twisted hero to his classmates by bullying the new deaf transfer student, Shouko Nishimiya. While the others are fed up with helping her due to the lack of understanding from both their teachers and personal understanding, they don’t really join in, but watch and laugh nevertheless. Ishida is content with that of course, everyone laughs with him, he’s the center of attention and that girl is weird anyway. The main problem is that he doesn’t understand or even try to understand Shouko who always smiles through everything he does to her, wanting to become friends with everyone. Everything changes, however, when the teachers catch wind of it, Shouko transfers again, and all of the blame is put on him by others.

What follows is the story of Ishida trying his best to undo the things that he once did by making up to Shouko and becoming a real friend to her, while his past looms over him and forces him to face others that have not had the change of heart like he did. I’m sure that most people have seen this phenomenal movie, but for the sake of those who haven’t, I won’t spoil the ending as it has made me cry all four times that I have rewatched the movie. The directing of Yamada Naoko is what makes the movie stand out and the gorgeous visuals put an emphasis on Ishida’s detachment from others (by putting literal X marks on most character’s faces until they manage to reach him) and focus on the scenery or emotions of the characters. What this movie teaches is forgiveness and I believe that that is one of the core principles of what makes us human, the ability to forgive and help one another to be better.

  • Sora yori mo tooi basho

Have you ever felt like going away somewhere without telling anyone, even if it was for just a day? What stopped you? If like me, it was anxiety and fear of overstepping some unknown boundary, we both have a lot in common with the protagonist of the show, Mari Tamaki. Readying herself to take that first step every day and just wanting to sit in a train that takes her anywhere, she meets Shirase whose determination to find her mother spurs her and a group of two other girls into joining her in the insane journey towards the land of ice and penguins.

However what really matters is not how stupid or out of this world the premise seems. Cute girls doing cute things just turned into cute girls making me relate to the want to do something with my life that’s out of the ordinary and kind of deep. I suppose, the wish to turn the routine you’re so udes to is not an unusual one, nevertheless, the first step is the hardest. However, the anime shows that it’s worth it and the girls grow both as people but their friendship grows and becomes stronger throughout it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to take a leap of faith like this, but the fact remains, Sora yori mo tooi basho did stir something inside of me and made that feeling stronger than it was before.

  • Kaze ga tsuyoku fuiteiru

Finding something that you like to do is never easy. Let alone if you get dragged into it by an overzealous upperclassmen, under the pretext of being allowed to stay at a dormitory, since you had nowhere else to go. The story of a group of unlikely people coming together towards one goal that they all had to find the courage and dedication to do is mesmerizing. All of the tenants are unique in their motivation as well as struggles, from the cold and distant Kakeru who was shunned due to his talent before, to the weak shut-in Kashiwazaki who had to go as far as learn how to run, to the passionate Haiji who used to do track and now wants to persist in his dream of running the Hakone Ekiden Marathon despite his past injury.

What attracted me to the show the most was the contrasting cast that didn’t seem like capable of anything as broad as becoming a team of runners for a marathon. Individual motivations or lack of them, led me to get interested in how one becomes as passionate and the connections that they made during the trials and personal demons they had to face. Some were funny, like Kashiwazaki flailing his arms about and then passing out after one lap, others were heartbreaking and hitting close to home. Another important part to the anime was the approach that was taken to help each member to better himself, as in, each had their own method, but it was best used with Kashiwazaki as Kakeru implemented his manga hobby to help him acquire the correct pose instead of random arm movements.

  • The Monogatari series

I’m cheating a bit here, in including basically two characters as opposed to all or multiple themes that have resonated with me throughout the series. As much as I love Hanekawa’s character progression and development, she’s taking a back seat in the wild ride that is the notion of “Only you can save yourself” that Meme Oshino promotes and the counter that Araragi provides by recklessly trying to help everyone he cares about to one degree or the other. It’s important to note that even with his help, the ones to actually get better do so themselves, all but with a push from an outside force.

In my opinion, that makes the distinction so much more important. A lot of people, myself sometimes included, often forget that they can reach out to others for help. Another factor that led to Monogatari, occupying my top 5 anime list for many years ongoing, is the amazing mix of dialogue heavy scenes and wonderfully fluid fights, all thanks to a wonderful adaptation by Shaft, but at its core is a story about a boy trying to save and help his friends and loved ones save themselves and face their problems head on.

  • Sailor moon

Like most people on this platform, I not only grew up watching Sailor Moon, but it also became my gateway to anime as a whole. Although, it led to me discovering something not as pure and nice as it as Elfen Lied, it impacted my life quite a lot. Usagi’s adventures with her friends pushed me to wake up earlier than I had to just to watch the show and actually begin to search more stuff like it. It started from stuff as simple as searching for games made with Sailor Moon characters, but to other anime related games and then finally anime itself. To say it was both my first step and push wouldn’t be a mistake and it still has a special place in my heart, despite how long ago I watched it. A group of friends fighting for love and to save the world, was another plus, even if I didn’t particularly understand the importance of it at that super young age, just seeing Usagi grow as a person and find and fight with and for her friends was incredible.

  • Haikyuu!!

This list keeps getting shorter and shorter, but I can’t help but think that I’m repeating myself by singing praise to all these series. Nevertheless, Haikyuu was the anime that pushed me to open my mind and perspective more as far as to latch on to the fun characters and their individual motivations and aspirations as volleyball players. A sport I never had particular interest for became something of an interest, not in the sense that I am not a hardcore fan watching all live matches (although I probably should give it a try), but more as it opened my eyes to a genre all of its own. Sports anime, as I’ve explained in more detail in “Why you should just try that show you’re hesitant about; how I fell in love with sports anime by finally watching Haikyuu!!“, as a genre, has more depth to it and individual character development as well as development as a group. One of the core ideas from Haikyuu is the power of teamwork: no one can to anything on their own, by working as a team can each grow stronger and both as players and people (look at none other than Kageyama, who began the series as a hated “King of the court” who always shouted at people for not meeting his high standards and pushed his old teammates away, but ended up as a vital part of the Karasuno team and even learned to work with others better).

He’s just awkwardly trying his best to get along

It’s sad that the manga ended, but I think it’s amazing to think how many people it touched and helped throughout its run! As cliche of a saying as it is, the journey and characters that we meet during it, is the heart of Haikyuu that will stay with me long after I finish the anime and catch up with reading the manga.

11 thoughts on “1 year anniversary special; 7 anime that have impacted me or my taste the most

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