Manglobe’s best anime shows
While many anime studios have been around for decades and show no signs of slowing down, sadly others haven’t lived that long. This is the case with Manglobe, which was founded by former Sunrise producers Kobayashi Shinichirou and Kochiyama Takashi in 2002, but filed for bankruptcy 13 years later in 2015.
However, during the years that it was active, the studio became particularly known for producing original anime shows rather than simply adapting existing works from manga, games or light novels. This meant that Manglobe was behind the creation of truly unique and innovative series, many of which are still considered media classics today and / or have gained popularity with mainstream audiences both at home and abroad. West. Here are five of the best tracks from the old studio.
Samurai Champloo (2004-05)
This one hardly needs an introduction. Manglobe’s very first animated series, Samurai Champloo, put the studio on the map, and for good reason. The second TV anime directed by acclaimed director Watanabe Shinichiro after his innovator Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo takes place in Edo-period Japan and revolves around a wandering wanderer named Mugen, a masterless samurai named Jin, and former tea waitress Fuu as they roam the country at the search for a mysterious “samurai who smells of sunflowers”.
Not only has Samurai Champloo aged incredibly gracefully in terms of visuals, but it remains one of the most easily recognizable anime titles for Western fans today. It’s also a very accessible show thanks to its character-driven story and episodic format, as well as excellent dubbing in Japanese and English.
Ergo Proxy (2006)
The domed city of Romdo is one of the last surviving human civilizations, in which humanoid-like robots called AutoReivs were created to serve their human masters by performing daily tasks. However, some of these AutoReivs have started to contract the Cogito virus – a disease that “inflicts” self-awareness on them. When Re-l Mayer, the granddaughter of Romdo’s ruler, is tasked with investigating such incidents, she discovers far more than she anticipated, including uncomfortable truths about her supposed utopia.
On the surface, Ergo Proxy sounds like one of the many post-evangelization anime shows – a post-apocalyptic setting, heavy psychological themes and a deep dive into complex philosophy and symbolism that may or may not come across as pretentious to the viewer. However, the sheer elegance with which Ergo Proxy achieves it all is undeniable, from its distinctive character designs to its banger soundtrack. For viewers who have found themselves drawn to other somewhat obscure productions like Lain series experiments, Boogiepop Ghost and Texhnolysis, Ergo Proxy is a must.
Michiko & Hatchin (2008-09)
Set in the fictional Latin American country of Diamandra, the titular Michiko and Hatchin, a mother-daughter duo, find themselves on an epic road trip to reunite with Michiko’s former lover and Hatchin’s father. However, the police are on their heels, as Michiko is a recent escapee from one of Diamandra’s most closely guarded prisons – and policeman Atsuko has a personal score to settle.
Directed by Yamamoto Sayo – an understudy of Watanabe Shinichiro for Samurai Champloo, and who would continue to sit in the chair of the chief director for Yuri on ice – Michiko & Hatchin is fun but thoughtful, lively and unconventional. It’s also a must-see feminist adventure, and one that is vastly under-watched despite being, on the surface at least, mainstream enough for everyone to enjoy, be it from an anime veteran or a novice in the field. In fact, the opening credits sequence alone is a work of art and well worth a watch on its own.
House of Five Leaves / Saraiya Goyou (2010)
Masterless Wandering Samurai Akitsu “Masa” Masanosuke is a skillful swordsman, but his extremely shy personality means his employers often fire him for his lack of self-confidence. Alone and dejected, he comes into contact with a man named Yaichi, who hires Masa, seemingly on a whim, as a bodyguard. However, Yaichi turns out to be the leader of a gang known as the Five Leaves, causing Masa to question his own actions and ethics as a samurai.
Like Samurai Champloo, House of five leaves is largely episodic in nature, although it has a unique look and tone that is both very distinct and at times very little animated. While the overall art style may put some viewers off at first, the show is remarkably low-drama and even laid-back, making it a surprisingly easy-going watch. Oddly exhilarating despite its low-key mood, the series seems purposely underrated in many ways, but absolutely deserves a look.
Nicholas “Nic” Brown and Worick Arcangelo are tinkerers; mercenaries who take on particularly dirty or difficult tasks for the police and mafia unions in the town of Ergastalum, a haven for outlaws and criminals of all stripes. The duo are soon joined by Alex “Ally” Benedetto, a former prostitute with a heart of gold who is able to start a new life after Alex and Nicholas take out the gang that is holding her captive.
While Gangsta may seem rough around the edges in more than one way, there is a surprising amount of depth and nuance to be found here, including in the main characters of the series. Nic is a deaf ex-child mercenary who communicates primarily through (remarkably accurate) sign language, while Worick is a one-eyed gigolo whose abusive family was killed by Nic – once Worick’s personal guard. Victim of the sudden bankruptcy of Manglobe, Gangsta unfortunately remains unfinished (although the manga is still in progress). Nonetheless, it’s an extremely atmospheric title with a lot of attention to detail and a lot more subtlety than many might think.
KEEP READING: Gangsta Deserves An Anime Revival – Mainly For Its Excellent Portrayal Of The Deaf
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