The Rough Guide To Anime, and the New Canon

Over the last couple of years I’ve become a big fan of the Japanese animation style called anime. Of course, this is not a new medium, it’s been around in some shape or form since at least the early 1960s. A lot of us westerners didn’t know it, but we’d been enjoying anime since way back then when we were watching shows like Astroboy, Gigantor, Marine Boy, Kimba the White Lion, and my favourite of the time – Space Ace. I recall seeing the film Akira at the old Valhalla cinema back in around 1989, but that was something of a one-off anomaly – and I recall finding the film impressive but confusing. Like a lot of people, I’d say my reintroduction to the medium came when I caught a few of the Studio Ghibli films on TV (they were kind of hard to avoid for a while there!). At some point the penny dropped that this was great stuff, and so I started borrowing some of the many animes that were becoming available at my local library, and haven’t looked back since.

I now have a good collection of my own anime films and tv shows on dvd and bluray, and I also have a paid subscription to the online anime channel, Animelab, which I use every day. Basically, I can’t get enough of the stuff. You might even say I’m addicted to it.

I also like to read about anime, to be informed of the different genres, to learn about the history of anime and its major contributors. There are lots of online sites that help with this, including My Anime List, Anime News Network, and a bunch of others. There are also some books, and one of my favourites is The Rough Guide to Anime by Simon Richmond. It’s a great reference work, complete with a thorough history, genre lists and – best of all – a list of 50 canonical works of anime. I’ve borrowed this at least three or four times from the Melbourne Library (the only library here that’s got it), and each time I find new things in it. I guess that’s because I’m constantly searching out, and sometimes finding, the many great animes it recommends and I enjoy checking back with the book and what it said about those animes to confirm (or deny) my impressions.

But it’s due for an upgrade. The book was published in 2009 and there hasn’t been a second edition yet. I want to read what Richmond has to say about the animes that have been made since then, with a thorough review of the 2010s and the further developments and controversies that have occurred within the industry. Having familiarised myself with Richmond’s writing, I can well imagine what some of this new content will be. I’m already anticipating what he will include in the new list of 50 canonical works. In fact, I can’t wait; so I’ve decided to come up with a list of my own, drawn mainly from the 2010s. This is actually a list of 40 anime films and tv shows, since I assume there will be at least ten that I’ve forgotten to include, or am not even aware of. Here it is.

New Anime Canon

Shiro Bako

Sword Art Online

Attack On Titan

Death Note

Macross: Do You Remember Love

My Hero Academia

Fairy Tail

Demon Slayer

Tokyo Ghoul

Blue Exorcist

Psycho Pass

Kill La Kill

Mushishi

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Girls Und Panzer

The World of Arrietty

Anthem of the Heart

Letter To Momo

Konosuba

One Piece

Miss Hokusai

Summer Wars

The Promised Neverland

Hunter X Hunter

K On!

Love Live

Inuyasha

The Wind Rises

When Marnie Was There

Your Name

A Silent Voice

The Wolf Children

From Up On Poppy Hill

Mary and the Witches Flower

Princess Kaguya

Hozuki’s Coolheadedness

I can’t vouch for all of these being considered ‘canon’, but I’m pretty sure Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name will be on the list, and probably most of the Ghibli’s too – especially Takahata’s Princess Kaguya. What have I left out? What probably shouldn’t be here? I’ve included some of my favourites, like Shiro Bako and K-On, which I really believe should be here. Also, even though Richmond included the original Macross series in his canon, I think Do You Remember Love, the beautiful film adaptation of the series, is even better, so I’ve given it a second shot here.

I wonder, what else Richmond will include when he gets around to the second edition? Will he talk about the phenomenon of waifus and husbandos? Will he mention the genre of isakei? The tragic fire arson attack of 2019 at Kyoto Studios? The Interspecies Reviewers controversy at Crunchyroll? Mmm, can’t wait to find out!

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