My Favorite Anime Opening Themes From the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s

It’s been quite a while since I last did a Top 5 list, but I came up with an idea for one and decided that I wanted to write this up and share it. This time around, this is a listing of my six favorite anime opening themes that came out between the 1970’s and 1990’s. Yes, I couldn’t limit it to just five.

Instead of publishing the list as a Top 5 list, I will be sharing my favorites by organizing them by alphabetical order. I will be using the song titles to alphabetize the list.

For whatever reason, WordPress is not allowing me to embed YouTube videos into my post. Instead, I have made the title of each song a link to a YouTube video.

Hironobu Kageyama – “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA” (Dragon Ball Z)

Most readers should recognize this song as the first opening theme for the Dragon Ball Z anime. It’s hard to believe, but this theme song first came out in 1989, when the first episode of Dragon Ball Z premiered in Japan.

One thing I can say about this song is that it doesn’t sound dated at all. You can’t hear it and immediately go, “That sounds like something that was written and recorded in the late 1980’s.” It sounds just as fresh now as it did 31(!) years ago. And I can’t neglect to mention that this song is extremely catchy.

Yoko Takahashi – “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

When I watched the first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, this song grabbed me the first time I heard it. I love how catchy and upbeat this song is, but it doesn’t prepare you for the content of the series or how the story evolves over the course of the series. LOL!

In all seriousness, though, I like how the song starts out kind of slow and minimal, and then it explodes into such an upbeat and catchy tune. Unlike “CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA,” though, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” does sound a bit dated when you listen to it now. While this sound worked for an anime theme song in the mid-1990’s, you wouldn’t hear something like this as a theme song in today’s anime. Sounding dated doesn’t make it a bad song, though.

Etsuko Nishio – “Don’t Make Me Wild Like You” (Ranma 1/2)

This was the first opening theme song for the Ranma 1/2 anime when it premiered in Japan in 1989. Sonically, this song works so well with the images that accompany it. Also, the sound of this song perfectly captures just how crazy and chaotic the Ranma 1/2 anime can get.

Of all the opening themes for the Ranma 1/2 anime, this one is by far my favorite. Sure, it sounds dated, but it’s still incredibly catchy and fun. You can’t help but move in time with it when you hear it.

Sasaki Isao & The Royal Knights – “Space Battleship Yamato [Opening Theme]” (Space Battleship Yamato)

This is the opening theme for the first Space Battleship Yamato anime in Japan, and this is the oldest song to appear on this list. Of course, I first heard this in the American version back in the early 1980’s when I watched Star Blazers as a kid. Years later, when I got to hear the original Japanese version, I loved the song even more.

Both versions utilize the same music, which has a sound reminiscent of a military march fused with a 1970’s disco feel. Between the English and Japanese versions, I prefer Sasaki Isao’s vocal performance over the English singer. Isao has a great voice, and you can hear why he continues to be a voice associated with the Space Battleship Yamato franchise all these years later.

Seatbelts – “Tank!” (Cowboy Bebop)

This anime theme song, composed by Yoko Kanno, is a standout for so many reasons. For one, it’s a jazz sound instead of the usual rock or pop sound associated with anime opening themes. And second, it’s an instrumental, which is on the unusual side for an anime opening theme song.

But it’s not just those differences that make this stand out. It’s also a great and catchy song in its own right. It’s really not surprising that “Tank!” is considered to be a standout anime opening theme song.

Hiroshi Kitadani – “We Are!” (One Piece)

“We Are!” is a song strongly associated with the One Piece franchise and has had several different versions used as an opening theme during its run, but the original version by Hiroshi Kitadani remains my favorite. It’s hard to believe that this song, along with the first episode of One Piece, premiered in Japan in 1999(!).

This song gets the viewer pumped and excited for what’s to come in the series. It’s just so catchy and so memorable, and it easily gets stuck in your head. Not that I’m complaining about this being an earworm, though. If I have to get a song stuck in my head, “We Are!” is one I wouldn’t mind hearing over and over.

You can also see what my favorite opening theme songs are from the 2000’s to the present.

Right Stuf Announces Vinyl Soundtrack Albums for Attack on Titan and Cowboy Bebop

Right Stuf announced at its panel at the Otakon.Online digital event that the site has the Attack on Titan Season 1 Vinyl Soundtrack up for pre-order in both deluxe and standard versions. Both are set to go on sale on October 26, 2020, and the numbered deluxe versions—which are limited to 1,000 copies—include three smoky-finished 190mg colored records in special collector’s book packaging with two pages of liner notes.

Right Stuf also announced that it has an exclusive opaque marble vinyl (one blue and one orange) version of the Cowboy Bebop Vinyl Soundtrack. This one will also be exclusive to RightStufAnime.com and goes up for pre-order starting August 6, 2020, followed by release on November 6, 2020.

Source: Crunchyroll

Music From Six Anime Series Is Available on Streaming Services

549 theme songs and soundtrack tunes produced by FlyingDog for Sunrise’s anime series such as Cowboy Bebop, Vision of Escaflowne, Brain Powerd, Code Geass, Betterman, and City Hunter are now available on major streaming/subscription services as of July 24, 2020.

Supported streaming/subscription services:

  • Amazon Music Unlimited/HD
  • ANiUTa
  • Apple Music
  • AWA
  • Google Play Music
  • KKBOX
  • LINE MUSIC
  • mora qualitus
  • RecMusic
  • Rakuten Music
  • Spotify
  • YouTube Music

Album list

  • COWBOY BEBOP Original Soundtrack
  • COWBOY BEBOP Vitaminless
  • COWBOY BEBOP NO DISC Original Soundtrack 2
  • COWBOY BEBOP Original Soundtrack 3 BLUE
  • COWBOY BEBOP Knockin’on heaven’s door Ask DNA
  • COWBOY BEBOP Knockin’on heaven’s door O.S.T FUTURE BLUES
  • COWBOY BEBOP Tank! THE! BEST!
  • Vision of Escaflowne Original Soundtrack
  • Vision of Escaflowne Original Soundtrack 2
  • Vision of Escaflowne Original Soundtrack 3
  • THE VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE ~lovers only
  • Escaflowne: The Movie Original Soundtrack
  • Brain Powered ED theme “Ai no Field”
  • Brain Powered Original Soundtrack
  • Brain Powered Original Soundtrack 2
  • CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion O.S.T.
  • CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion O.S.T. 2
  • CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 O.S.T.
  • CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 O.S.T. 2
  • CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion Character Song Best
  • CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 Sound Variety R18
  • CODE GEASS Lelouch of the Rebellion CODE BLACK+
  • CODE GEASS: Akito the Exiled O.S.T.
  • CODE GEASS: Akito the Exiled O.S.T. 2
  • CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Re;surrection original soundtrack
  • Betterman OP Theme “Yume no Kakera” c/w ED theme “Chin~requiem~”
  • Betterman Original Soundtrack 1
  • Betterman Original Soundtrack 2
  • City Hunter Bay City Wars/Million Dollar Conspiracy Original Soundtrack

Source: Crunchyroll

Los Angeles’ Secret Movie Club Hosts Anime Buffet Series in 2020

In 2020, the Los Angeles-based Secret Movie Club is hosting screenings of some of the most beloved anime of all time, as part of their Anime Buffet programming slate, which will run from January through April 2020. The Anime Buffet slate is scheduled to include such films as Ghost in the Shell, Perfect Blue, Paprika, Millennium Actress, Metropolis (2001), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Vampire Hunter D, Grave of the Fireflies, and Tokyo Godfathers. Screenings will alternate between two different locations: the Vista Theater in Los Feliz, the historic single screen theater built in 1922, and the Club, Secret Movie Club’s new downtown location.

“Secret Movie Club loves to make new discoveries with its programs. Japanese anime is so big and complex, so we wanted to do a series that showcases how diverse these movies are,” said Secret Movie Club Founder Craig Hammill, “As programmers, it’s easy to get lazy and and just show the great Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki films, which we love, but we wanted to go deeper. This series gives us the chance to do a mini-retrospective of the work of anime legend Satoshi Kon, as well as a screening of Vampire Hunter D, an early anime masterpieces that pushed the artform with adult content, and the emotionally profound film Grave of the Fireflies and the popular Cowboy Bebop (which is almost sold out already). We look at these series as journeys. And really look forward to going on this anime journey with our audience.”

Attendees can purchase limited edition Secret Movie Club posters for every screening at all events, which feature new art by contemporary illustrators. Each film is preceded by a brief talk from Secret Movie Club founder Craig Hammill and a trivia question for the audience.

COWBOY BEBOP:THE MOVIE

(2001, Sony, dir by Shinichiro Watanabe, 35mm, 115mns)

Friday, January 10, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista

In 2071, earth has been ravaged by catastrophe. Humans have colonized other planets and the universe is a new Wild West. A group of Bounty Hunters travel on the spaceship BeBop in search of quarry and rewards. When a contagion gets released in a truck disaster on Mars, our heroes-Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein (a dog with human-grade smarts due to artificial enhancement) go off in search of the culprit and the reward that goes with it.

“One of the great things with Japanese anime, as with all cinema and art, is how each set of creators imbue the genre with their own personal style and stamp,” said Craig Hammill. “Cowboy Be Bop, as its title itself implies, is a mashup of sci-fi, westerns, Hong Kong action movies, and an improvisatory iconoclastic jazz rhythm that make the viewing experience a total blast and totally singular.”

VAMPIRE HUNTER D

(1985, Sentai Filmworks, dir by Toyoo Ashida, 80mns)

Friday, January 17, 2020 @ 7:30p, The Club, 1917 Bay Street, 2nd Floor, LA, CA 90021

The movie centers on Doris Lang, the daughter of a werewolf hunter, who gets bitten by 10,000 year old Count Magnus Lee one night. She then meets a strange vampire hunter, who only goes by the name D, and employs him to take on the long-lost vampire lord and try to help her from becoming a vampire herself.

Vampire Hunter D is one of the earliest examples of Japanese anime that was made explicitly with teenagers and adults more in mind than children,” said Hammill. “Made for the then emerging direct to video market, Vampire Hunter D had a smaller budget than its feature film peers. But in a strange way, this freed up director Toyoo Ashida to make a more exciting, violent, sensual animation. Ashida has gone on the record as saying his intent with the movie was to make something thrilling that tired students could enjoy during study breaks rather than make an anime that further exhausted them. Full of genre mash-ups, amazing art and design, and storytelling, Vampire Hunter D definitely serves as a prototype and torch in the darkness for future directors like Satoshi Kon, who will take anime into ever more complex, adult, shadowy realms.”

GHOST IN THE SHELL

(1995, Lionsgate, dir by Mamoru Oshii, 85mns)

Saturday, January 18, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista

Often the cyberpunk genre, which would come to full flourish here in the United States with the Wachowski’s The Matrix, can be traced most directly to two Japanese anime parents: 1988’s Akira and 1995’s Ghost in the Shell. Often considered one of the greatest Japanese anime movies of all time, Ghost in the Shell dives head first into the darker, deeper waters of more adult sci-fi.

It’s 2029 and the human body can be augmented with “smart” prosthetic cybernetics. The most recent innovation, and the most terrifying, is a cyberbrain, which allows humans to now go online/get hooked into the internet, straight through their neural pathways. Our hero, Motoko Kusanagi, is part of an elite squad that fights crime in “New Port City” in Japan. Currently, they are kept busy by an arch criminal known as “The Puppet Master” who appears to have the ability to hack into these “cyberbrains” and get folks to assassinate, kill, commit crimes. As Motoko further explores what’s going on with both the Puppet Master and the innovations in cybernetics, she stumbles across a revelation that goes to the very heart of our philosophical understanding of what makes us unique individuals: what constitutes our “soul.”

PAPRIKA

(2006, Sony Pictures Classics, dir by Satoshi Kon, 35mm, 90mns)

Friday, January 31, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista

If Hayao Miyazaki is synonymous with a kind of all-ages wildly imaginative Japanese anime, then director Satoshi Kon is synonymous with a Japanese anime that dares to go to the very limits of what any kind of cinema can explore in terms of human psychology, fear, desire, imagination. And he does it in the most creative and miraculous of artistic ways.

Paprika is one of his wildest mind-bending creations of all. In the near-future, there is a device called the “DC Mini” which allows Dr. Atsuko Chiba to enter the dreams of her patients (using her alter-ego “Paprika”) to help try to discover the root of their fears, anxieties, and hang ups. But the problem is that the “DC Mini” is still in prototype mode with no restrictions or safety barriers whatsoever. And if it gets into the wrong hands (which of course it does), it allows the thieves to enter dreams for more sinister and nefarious reasons.

METROPOLIS

(2001, Sony, dir by Rintaro, 113mns total, 35mm, Japanese with English subtitles)

Saturday, February 1, 2020 @ 10:45p, The Club

Written by Katsohiro Otomo (writer/director of the classic anime Akira), Metropolis shares much of its DNA with that seminal anime classic including a central character who is rocked to their psychological core by the realization of their “super human” abilities and an impending apocalypse that threatens the entire foundations of a huge city.

MILLENNIUM ACTRESS

(2002, 11 Arts, dir by Satoshi Kon, 82mns, Japanese with English subtitles)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 @ 8p, The Club

Millennium Actress tells the emotional story (in a decidedly surreal and modernist way) of famous actor Chiyoko Fujiwara, who tells her life story to documentarians and explains she only ever became an actress in the hopes of being recognized by an artist/political rebel she fell in love with as a teenager and never saw again. As Chiyoko tells her story, it becomes hard to tell what’s her real life, what are movie scenes she starred in, and where fiction/reality meet and diverge.

Special Note: There will be three originally written 3-4 minute monologues performed by three actresses ahead of the screening running a total of 10-12 minutes.

PERFECT BLUE

(1997, GKIDS, dir by Satoshi Kon, 35mm, 81mns)

Friday, February 21, 2020 @ 11:59p, The Vista

Kon fully commits to an anime that is as rich, dark, and complex as any Scorsese, Kubrick, Lynch, or Bergman movie. But with the added benefit of being able to cinematically represent psychological states of mind in a way that is often impossible in live-action cinema.

“If you want to see anime that absolutely succeeds in expanding the playing field of what cinema can do, come join us for Perfect Blue,” said Hammill.

THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME

(2006, FUNimation, directed by Mamoru Hosoda, 98mns; English dubbed version)

Saturday, March 14, 2020 @ 10:30a, the Vista

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time tells the story of young teenager Makoto Konno who discovers a magical object in her high school that allows her to leap through time and prevent situations that caused her great embarrassment. This premise, as with all good premises fully explored, deepens into a meditation on wish fulfillment versus reality. Makoto, first using the device for frivolous things, comes to realize that the device has its price. And that she is not the only one using it…

GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES

(1988, GKids, directed by Isao Takahata, 90mns; Japanese with English subtitles)

Saturday, April 4, 2020 @ 10:30a, the Vista

One of the absolute greatest animes ever made, Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata, deals with siblings Seita and Satsuko, who have to rely on each other to survive after they’re separated from their parents during the American fire-bombing of Tokyo in the late stages of World War II.

Tickets can be purchased here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ca–los-angeles/anime-buffet-secret-movie-club/?page=1

Secret Movie Club is a group project among the founders and the audience. Audience suggestions are taken and often used. Secret Movie Club aims to celebrate the wonderful experience that comes from watching the world’s greatest movies in great movie theaters with great audiences.

Production on the Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Is Put on Hold for 7-9 Months Due to John Cho’s Injury

Netflix has put the production of its live-action adaptation of Sunrise’s Cowboy Bebop anime on hold due to lead actor John Cho injuring his knee on the New Zealand set.

The Deadline website reports that the accident happened on the last take of a “routine and well-rehearsed scene” a few episodes into the 10-episode production, and that Cho has returned to Los Angeles for surgery and rehabilitation. Deadline adds that Netflix decided to keep Cho instead of recasting, and will wait until late Spring or early Summer 2020 to resume production so Cho can rehabilitate.

The series stars Cho as Spike, Mustafa Shakir as Jet, Daniella Pineda as Faye, Alex Hassell as Vicious, and Elena Satine as Julia.

Source: ANN

Cast Announcement for Netflix’s Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Series

Netflix has announced that cast of its 10-episode live-action series adaptation of the 1998 Cowboy Bebop television anime. The announcement describes the series as a “TV drama.” Netflix also provided character descriptions with the announcement.

John Cho is Spike: Haunted by visions of the woman he loved and lost, Julia, Spike’s criminal past slowly catches up to him — putting him and the Bebop crew in the crosshairs of the solar system’s most lethal criminal organization, the Syndicate.

Mustafa Shakir is Jet: Jet holds tight to his honor and optimism, acting as a father figure to his misfit crew, always seeing the best in his partner, Spike… until it’s too late.

Daniella Pineda is Faye: She’s always on the search for the person with the key to her identity. In the meantime, she’ll fake it till she makes it.

Alex Hassell is Vicious: Once he was Spike’s best friend, now he’s his mortal enemy and is obsessed with taking him down.

Entertainment news website Deadline has also reported that Alex Garcia Lopez will direct the first two episodes.

Source: ANN

Anime Soundtrack Review: Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1

Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1 is a 17-track CD that includes the opening theme song, as well as 16 of the musical pieces from the anime. The music is performed by Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts.

Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1
Publisher: Victor Entertainment
Release Date: May 21, 1998

The disc opens with “Tank!,” the iconic opening theme song for the Cowboy Bebop anime series. It’s thematically jazz in style, and it’s very catchy. As soon as you hear it, you instantly recognize what this song is. It’s a perfect opening song for the CD.

The seventh track on the CD is “Space Lion,” the song which was used as the ending theme in the episode, “Jupiter Jazz Part II.” It’s the longest song on the CD, but it’s just as recognizable to fans of Cowboy Bebop as “Tank!” is. It’s primarily an instrumental piece, but it’s very much on the melancholy side.

The fourth track is “Bad Dog No Biscuits,” and it’s a very catchy track. Apparently, it opens with a cover of Tom Waits’ “Midtown” before going into its own interpretation. To me, it’s one of the more memorable tracks on this CD, alongside “Tank!” and “Space Lion.”

“Rush” wears its jazz influence on its sleeve. That’s not a bad thing, though, since I have an appreciation for jazz music. To be honest, this is something I could hear on a jazz radio station, like the one I was a DJ at back when I was in college. While it may not be as catchy as “Tank!” or “Bad Dog No Biscuits,” it’s still a great song.

“Spokey Dokey” has a strong emphasis on the harmonica, which fits in with the “cowboy” portion of the anime’s title. This is another piece of music that sounds familiar to viewers of Cowboy Bebop when they hear it.

“Cat Blues” brings the disc back more toward the jazz side of the musical score. There’s a good arrangement here, and you can’t help but bop along with the song as it plays.

“Cosmos” is one of the slower songs on the disc. While it’s more on the jazz side, it’s not the upbeat jazz that appeared earlier on the soundtrack. For the sequencing of the disc, this is in a good spot, because the five previous tracks were all upbeat numbers. This, along with the next track, “Space Lion,” help to slow down the tempo and let the listener take a break musically by hearing something a little different.

“Waltz for Zizi” immediately follows after “Space Lion,” and it stays in the slower side. Is it just me, or does part of the music almost sound like “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”?

“Piano Black” starts picking the pace of the music back up, right around the time I was starting to get a little tired of all the slow material back-to-back. “Pot City” is more of midtempo jazz number, with a strong focus on horns.

“Too Good Too Bad” is a more uptempo number, and it also has a strong emphasis on the horn section. While I can’t place where exactly I remember hearing this, it sounds very familiar to me.

“Car 24” is a more playful song, and it sounds like something that was intended for a more lighthearted scene. “The Egg and I” is also a more playful number, and I can’t help but move along to it as I listen to it.

“Felt Tip Pen” has a bit more of a country and western feel to it when compared to most of the songs included on this soundtrack CD. But since some of the show has a bit of a “wild west” feel to it, it shouldn’t be surprising to occasionally have a piece of score music more in this vein.

“Rain” is a song with lyrics that are sung by Steve Conte. This is a case where I believe the Japanese singer’s version was included in the anime. But this version is still very well done, and Conte has the voice to pull this off. The liner notes for the CD have the lyrics for this song printed in them.

“Digging My Potato” is another song with a heavier focus on the harmonica, and it’s more on the slower side. The CD concludes with “Memory,” which is probably the piece of music you hear the most in the series outside of “Tank!” This slower song almost sounds like you’re listening to a music box, and it’s a piece you hear right at the beginning of the first episode. You also hear it during important moments of introspection. The version of here is specifically used when referring to Spike Spiegel’s past.

I have a strong admiration for Yoko Kanno’s work, and this CD highlights just how versatile of a composer she is. I can’t say that any of the songs included in this release are weaker than any of the others. The sequencing decisions that were made help to make this soundtrack an enjoyable listen, and it sounds like the songs flow naturally from one to the next.

If you’re a fan of Cowboy Bebop, I would highly encourage you to add Cowboy Bebop O.S.T. 1 to your music collection if you haven’t already.

Netflix to Produce a Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Series

Netflix has announced that it is producing a 10-episode live-action series adaptation of the 1998 television anime Cowboy Bebop. Variety noted that the series has been in the works since 2017. Netflix did not announce a release date for the series.

The series is a co-production between Netflix and Tomorrow Studios, with Netflix handling physical production. Tomorrow Studios is a partnership between producer Marty Adelstein and ITV Studios. Shinichiro Watanabe, the original anime’s director, will serve as consultant for the project. Andre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio are credited as showrunners and executive producers.

Tomorrow Studios’ Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements; Yasuo Miyakawa, Masayuki Ozaki, and Shin Sasaki of Sunrise (the studio that animated the original series); and Tetsu Fujimura and Matthew Weinberg are also credited as executive producers.

Chris Yost will write the first episode, and is also credited as executive producer.

Source: ANN

List: My Favorite Anime from the 1990s

About a year or so ago, I posted a list of my favorite anime from the 1970s and 1980s. Today, I have decided to post my personal five favorite anime from the 1990s. There are two titles on this list that technically began airing in 1989, but the majority of their run on Japanese television was during the 1990s, so I am including them on this list. But as is usual with my lists, it is being presented in alphabetical order rather than being a Top 5 list.

Cowboy Bebop

I don’t think it’s terribly surprising that Cowboy Bebop made the list, since it’s considered to be such a classic now. It really has withstood the test of time, because the creators of the show made sure not to utilize elements that would have made it feel dated years later. This is especially true when it comes to the music. Yoko Kanno’s score is brilliant, and it still sounds just as fresh now as it did when the series first premiered around 20 years ago.

Cowboy Bebop really stands out from a lot of its contemporaries, due to how it was able to combine several different influences viewers wouldn’t normally expect to see together. But the writing is so well done that these disparate influences work well together.

Dragon Ball Z

After the Dragon Ball series, Dragon Ball Z took the franchise to a whole new level. There’s more sci-fi elements involved, and the addition of the Saiyans to Goku’s back story really changed the tone and storytelling for the franchise. There’s still plenty of fights, though, so it doesn’t lose its roots as a fighting anime.

Admittedly, as the series goes on, the power ups and fights can get a little ridiculous at times. However, many of the characters in the franchise, whether we first met them in the original Dragon Ball series or in Dragon Ball Z, are fun and interesting enough that it helps the viewer overlook some of the absurdity and ridiculousness of the power ups.

The Dragon Ball franchise is still going now, thanks to Dragon Ball Super, which is a testament as to how much of a classic this anime has become over the years.

Only Yesterday

Only Yesterday is a Studio Ghibli film directed by the now late Isao Takahata, and it was released in Japanese theaters in 1991. It may have been a Studio Ghibli film, but it’s not what one would now consider a “typical” film for the studio.

The main protagonist is an unmarried 27-year-old office lady named Taeko, who has lived her whole life in Tokyo and works at a company in the city. At the beginning of the film, she decides to take a trip into the country to help her elder sister’s husband with the safflower harvest.

While traveling on the train, she recalls memories of when she was a 10-year-old schoolgirl in 1966.  When she reaches her destination, she meets and is picked up by her brother-in-law’s second cousin, Toshio. The film shows Taeko learning about harvesting safflowers, getting to know the family she’s staying with, and the time she spends with Toshio. Taeko’s memories of her 10-year-old self are intertwined with what’s happening to Taeko in Yamagata, and Taeko finds herself questioning her feelings and what she wants in life.

I really enjoyed Only Yesterday, and thought it was a very well-done film. It probably helped that I was in my later thirties when I saw the film for the first time, so I was able to understand where Taeko is coming from.

Ranma 1/2

This anime has become quite the classic, with its quirky humor, martial arts mayhem, and romantic comedy. Ranma and his father, Genma, fell into the cursed springs at Jusenkyo, and Ranma now turns into a girl and his father into a panda when they come in contact with cold water… and hot water returns them to normal. Genma and his old friend, Soun Tendo, arrange an engagement between Ranma and Soun’s tomboyish daughter, Akane. These two really hate each other at first, but seem to grow closer as the series progresses. But as new potential love interests for both characters enter the scene, some very strange love triangles (or whatever shapes they end up making) develop.

The series is definitely at its strongest in the earlier episodes of the series. By the end of the series, though, the stories are nowhere near as strong. Unfortunately, since the manga was still ongoing when the anime was being produced, there was never a true ending for the series. However, as readers of the manga know, there still wasn’t a true ending in that version, either. But even with some of its weaknesses, Ranma 1/2 is still an enjoyable comedy series and deserves being called a classic anime.

The Vision of Escaflowne

The Vision of Escaflowne follows a 15-year-old girl named Hitomi Kanzaki, and she’s a runner for her school’s track team. She has a fascination with tarot cards and fortune-telling, which ties in with a pack of tarot cards and a mysterious pink pendant that her grandmother gave her when she was a little girl. Hitomi learns that Amano Susumu, a boy on the track team that she has a crush on, will be leaving her school. Hitomi asks Amano to watch her do a practice run; if she beats her time, she wants Amano to kiss her. While in the middle of her run, a boy about Hitomi’s age named Van Fanel suddenly appears on the track; the boy is wielding a sword. A dragon appears, and together, Van and Hitomi defeat it. After Van claims a stone from the dragon, both he and Hitomi are taken a planet called Gaea.

Hitomi and Van find themselves having to fight the Zaibach Empire, and are aided by a steampunk mecha called Escaflowne. Other characters join their party, and the story really takes off.

As the relationship between Hitmoi and Van develops over the course of the series, I found myself wanting to see the two of them somehow be able to remain a couple if Hitomi finds out how to return to her world. Without providing spoilers, all I will say is that even though the series may not have ended with the “happy ever after” ending I was hoping for, it still ends in a realistic and satisfactory manner.

The Vision of Escaflowne mixes fantasy, steampunk, mecha, and romance to create an interesting and compelling story, and the animation really complements the story. Many of the protagonists in the series are characters that the audience can relate to and care about.

Even though I’m heaping all this praise of the anime series, I would highly recommend avoiding Escaflowne: The Movie. It’s a re-telling of the anime series, and for me, it just wasn’t very enjoyable.

FUNimation Entertainment to Screen the Cowboy Bebop Anime Film in U.S. Theaters From August 15-16, 2018

FUNimation Entertainment’s Funimation Films website is listing that it will screen the Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door anime film in the United States on August 15, 2018 (English subtitles) and August 16, 2018 (English dub).

The film originally opened in Japan in 2001, and screened in the U.S. previously in 2002 and 2003. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the film on DVD several times between 2003-2005, and Image Entertainment re-released the film on DVD in 2010-2012. Image Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray Disc in 2011.

The Cowboy Bebop anime series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Source: ANN