The “Anime Canon,” You Say? -The Anime Canon Project

Back in May of this year, I wrote about an idea to create “A Comprehensive Guide to Essential Episodes.” What it basically entailed was a desire to create a database of some sort to archive which episodes in a series could be skipped, and which episodes should be watched to really understand what makes these shows good or at least memorable. I came up with this idea in response to the anime fans I’ve seen and talked to whom have complained about the difficulty of getting into a show as long as, say, One Piece.

Alex Leavitt, in turn, has decided to utilize my original idea and convert to a much greater task, that of creating a true Anime Canon Project, or at least leading anime fans to understand why certain shows are “essential”—not that you need to watch them, necessarily (though Alex may disagree with me here), but that you need to understand how and why these specific titles have effected a great influence on anime fans and society beyond that.

Just to be safe, the canon here refers not to whether Naruto officially loves Hinata or not, but rather to a list of works which are deemed most influential to a given medium. In the canon of classical music for example, you would find names such as Beethoven and Mozart.

I’m not sure if Alex here is the first to try and tackle this monster, but the idea of an “Anime Canon” is in itself a precarious one (though not without merit). Not only would there be big differences between the Anime Canon of different countries (Golion was just another robot show in Japan, but Voltron is integral to the giant robot fanbase in American culture, just as Gloizer X is apparently an influential show in Brazil), but the last thing anime fans want is to be told what they should watch and that they are somehow inferior as fans should they choose not to watch these things. I am confident that this is not the message either Alex or myself are sending; as I have said in the past, the path to true fandom is not how much you know but how much you want to learn, and if done correctly this would be a valuable learning tool for everyone, including myself.

The Anime Canon should be not about what shows you should watch to truly understand anime, but rather about what shows you should watch if you want to see the degree to which trends in anime and the cultures that both stem from and are influenced by it. And the only way that this can happen is if enough people are willing to help while still keeping their heads on.

Give him a reply over at (alexleavitt @ gmail . com) if you’re interested, because I sure am. Alex: you have my e-mail address, so feel free to send anything you want over.

Idea: A Comprehensive Guide to Essential Episodes

Mazinger Z. Galaxy Express 999. Ranma 1/2. Astro Boy. There are a lot of anime out there that are considered classics (and rightfully so), but the problem with getting into them is that they can be very, very long with anywhere from forty to two-hundred episodes and beyond. Because of this, trying to experience what made these shows great becomes a daunting task, especially when not all of them are “serial,” and instead have large chunks which are simply episodic and, while perhaps decent episodes, are not the ones that can really grab people by the heart and the lungs.

What I am proposing then is that a guide to these long shows be made, pointing out the episodes which are considered, while perhaps not “necessary” to the viewing experience, to be the apex of the show. That way, anybody who just wants to sample the show but in a meaningful way (not just watch the first episode or two and be done with it) can do so and fully understand the reasons that show is called a classic.

But I can’t do it alone.

When the main focus is to be absurdly long shows, no one person can watch everything to make sure that all bases are covered. I would need help. Possibly, I would have to get one or two people watching any given show and have them report back to me what they consider to be the “big” episodes, and then check it out myself to see just how good they are. Something like that.

Maybe this can apply to manga too.

I don’t have any episode lists to recommend at the moment, but I-

Wait, maybe I do.


(Seriously, watch the entire show)