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14th November 2012

Anime for beginners

The Comic Collective provides some anime classics, in the form of both film and book, to usher in new fans

In the past weeks Books has features articles on the translation (and problems therein) of books to both stage and screen. This week, Archontia Manolakelli, president of the University’s own society, the Comic Collective, instead suggests that film adaptations can act as an introduction for comic first-timers to the wonderful world of anime literature. And in doing so demonstrates another dimension to the co-existence of literature and cinema, as graphic stories, with their fundamental visual telling, blur into films. Both the films and stories that follow expose anime’s traditional themes and styles: fantasy, other worlds, and pure visual poetry:

1.Spirited Away (2001, Studio Ghibli), original title: Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi

Spirited Away was Japanese anime master, Hayao Miyazaki’s, third concept proposal for the year of its release. The movie was influenced by the behavior of some 10-year-old female family friends he spent some time with. For inspiration, he read shojo manga like Nakayoshi and Ribon that revealed their way of thinking. His final movie creates an extraordinary combination of real life and pure novel fiction on the big screen.

While moving to another city with her family 10-year-old Chihiro gets tangled in the world of spirits and witches. Trying to make her way through she ends up working in a bathouse for all kinds of weird creatures of this world where anything is possible.


A Studio Ghibli masterpiece very much worth watching, this film combines both a fascinating and sensitive storyline and amazing graphic quality of one of the most well known animation studios in Japan.

2.Paprika (2006, Satoshi Kon) 90 mins, Mystery/Sci-Fi

This movie is based on the original novel Paprika (1933, Yasutaka Tsutsui) that was later also published as a graphic novel created by Reji Hagiwara (2003). A great example of visual evolution between media.

What if there was a way to access people’s dreams? In the story’s parallel modern world, psychotherapy has been taken to a new level with a new machine that can enter patient’s dreams in order to treat their illness. When this machine is stolen and used illegally the borders between reality and fantasy are blurred. There is only one hope to stop that hell: Paprika.

A really clever movie with delicate storyline and great animation. Definitely a must watch if you like mind games and unexpected changes.

3.Princess Mononoke (1997, Studio Ghibli/Disney), Original Title: Mononoke Hime (134 mins, Adventure/Fantsy)

In 1970 Hayao Miyazaki started drawing a series of sketches about a small girl that lived in the forest together with a beast. That sequence of sketches later became a book called Princess Mononoke, which was the first step for its later incarnation as a film. His inspiration mostly came from Medieval Japanese historical writings, which, through Miyazaki’s unique imagination became a world more suitable for his anime story.

Obliged to leave his village to cure his curse Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a long lasting war between the gods of forest and Tatara. When the time comes to choose sides, he meets San, Princess Mononoke just to discover a wholly new view of the world.

A strong environmental concept and H. Miyazaki’s ability to visualize worlds create a very powerful combination for this movie. On a journey to self-awareness, the storyline drags you around a combination of stunning images and great ideas to reveal a different state of being.

The Comic Collective meets weekly for drawing sessions and general comics discussion.

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