This is my anime 3×3:

These are not in any ranked order, from top left – Akira, Tonari no Totoro, Macross Plus, Ghost in the Shell, 5 Centimeters per Second, Kill la Kill, Kimi no Na Wa, Porco Rosso and KonoSuba.

All thanks to this Trash Taste podcast I watched yesterday on YouTube. My anime 3×3 should technically (or theoretically) tell people my taste in Japanese cartoo… I mean, anime. Last week saw me serendipitously setting up an MAL list (yes, I was bored), which meant I could apply my own top scoring anime I had watched to choose the relevant nine for this little exercise. My 3×3 above could give you a hint of my age – however, although I have watched anime 15-odd years before Akira (top left corner), the titles I watched in the 1970s were few and far between, no thanks to RTM in those days, and as my MAL scores awarded were somewhat on the average side, they didn’t make it to the 3×3, nostalgia notwithstanding.

To say that these nine titles were groundbreaking is too far-fetched a notion obviously, but all of them have a few shared characteristics related to certain aspects of my life.

As I alluded to earlier, I started watching anime, inadvertently if I might add, at a very young age (think ジャングル大帝, otherwise known as Kimba the White Lion, on RTM). However, in those days, broadcasted anime shows on terrestrial channels were very few and far between, and were usually screened once a week, every Saturday afternoon. This changed when I was in the first year at university, when a friend and I caught Akira at our local arthouse cinema in Newcastle upon Tyne. The post-apocalyptic visuals, engaging story and especially the Geinō Yamashirogumi soundtrack blew me away. I was so enamoured by the soundtrack, that I unashamedly used segments of it in two Malaysia Night plays in the mid-90s, as well as “borrowing” a piece from Macross Plus (written by the prolific Yoko Kanno), which I owned the movie version on VHS in them days. Interestingly, Kanno arranged the nostalgia-laden song 時には昔の話を which was in the end credits for Miyazaki Hayao’s Porco Rosso (紅の豚), also listed in my 3×3.

Also linking anime and my years in the north-east of England was the 1998 Ghost in the Shell film helmed by Ōshi Mamoru which a friend and I caught at the University of Sunderland one winter’s night, of all places. Like Akira, the story adaptation, the animation from Production I.G. – all of these made for a superb experience despite the English language dub, coupled with the haunting Kawai Kenji soundtrack. I managed to catch the subbed version in London a few months later, and it took a while before the subbed version was released on VHS in the UK.

Fast forward to like ten years later, Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro was pretty much on heavy rotation on my diminutive 14″ telly. As much as there are other great Miyazaki’s works that could’ve entered my 3×3 (other than Porco Rosso), Totoro was just something very close to my heart – it tells a story of love within a small family, as well as a big furry owl/cat/squirrel hybrid that is so cuddly despite its lack of screen time in the film.

I think nostalgic feels may well be another thread in the formulation of my 3×3 – which brings me to the two Shinkai Makoto films in this collage. Yes, I’ve alluded to my love of 君の名は before but a year prior to my first ever visit to Tōkyō, I saw his 2007 opus, 5 Centimeters per Second (秒速5センチメートル). Apart from the three tug-of-the-heartstrings short stories of a love that was torn apart by circumstance, the anime in general was so beautiful and frighteningly accurate detail-wise. The thought of, for example, how the signage at the railway station platform was just like what I saw on a real train station platform in Shinjuku was just insane. A last point to make of this poignant anime is its title – the speed of a cherry blossom petal falling to the ground.

Finally, two anime series completing my 3×3 – one being Studio Trigger‘s Kill la Kill. The non-traditional artwork was very different to a lot of anime I had experienced, and the oddball family the protagonist, Matoi Ryuko, is staying with, provided some great laughs as a side to a pretty good story. The other is KonoSuba (or この素晴らしい世界に祝福を!). I have over the years enjoyed serials, ranging from the shōnen to ecchi genres but this one takes the cake as it is also very funny, an isekai (apparently) making fun of the typical anime/RPG tropes out there. I will be writing a few notes on KonoSuba in this blog, so watch this space.

What does your anime 3×3 look like?