One of my hobbies is watching what is generally called "anime" -- the modern Japanese word for animation. Japan is probably the most prolific source of animated entertainment in the world. However, Japanese animation is not the typical fare pumped at most American children on Saturday morning. To be sure, Japan produces it's share of light entertainment for the younger crowd but there is also a great deal of material produced for various ages. When most Americans think of anime, they think of either blood-and-gore or sex-and-violence. But if you look closely, there is also a wealth of interesting cultural storytelling presented under the animated genre.
For example, my favorite anime features by far is a series of full-length movies produced by Studo Ghibli, led by Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli's own web site is completely in Japanese, but the team at nausicaa.net has the most complete and up-to-date information on these beautiful films.
One of the first Ghibli movies I saw, "Mimi o Sumaseba" (lit: If You Listen Closely), also known to English-speaking fans as "Whisper of the Heart", was actually drawn based on real places just to the West of Tokyo. Someone, in fact, has created a web page full of photos based on scenes from "Whisper of the Heart". The detail in the animation is remarkable.
Another series which I like was derived from a comic series. Comics, or "manga" in Japan, come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors aimed at nearly every imaginable demographic group. The series known as Urusei Yatsura, by Rumiko Takahashi, features Lum, a very cute demon from outer space. And, speaking of demons, another series worth catching is called Zenki. Zenki is a demon lord constrained by a powerful Shinto priest 55 generations ago and combines comedy with some historical content and a lot of interesting locations. The Enno Shrine is the home of Zenki
Also, for a while I was hopelessly in love with Lynn Minmay from the Macross movie "Do You Remember Love". She soon disappeared from the series and, given that it's not one of the better examples of anime, I kinda let her go...
For more information on various anime titles and authors, visit the Anime Web Turnpike. [Ed note: I am not affiliated with the Anime Web Turnpike in any way.]
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