Okoré Meet up group

Last night Trog and I went to  an Anime meet up near San Diego. Now, neither one of us are hardcore Anime fans (I’m not sure if I’m hardcore anything), but there’s been some shows in the past that I’ve really enjoyed like Robotech, Macross Plus, Ghost in the Shell, Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, El Hazard, Ninja Scroll, and Cowboy Bebop. The meet up was held by OKoré , a San Diego based group that I found through Meetup.com. If you live in the area, check them out, they all seemed like a very nice bunch of people, and very easy to talk to. They met in a cool little café called Tea and More, down in Kearny Mesa. I had probably one of the best tasting hot chocolates I’ve ever had while we were there. It was coconut flavored, but they put something in it call boba (very tasty, but gross to chew on).

We went there hoping to learn more about the subject and find some new stuff to watch that would appeal to guys like us. Also it was fun to geek out a little bit with people that share similar interests. The thing is, I never new Anime was so… diverse. There’s genres with in genres… I wish I could remember some of the names of the different subjects, but I’m sorry, I didn’t write any of them down. The only one I kind of remember was one they were sort of warning us about, though I guess a couple of the girls were into it. It was called Yaway (it sounded a lot like Yahweh… you know the happy Hebrew God) or something like that… I don’t know how it’s spelled or even if I was hearing it correctly… basically it was the boy on boy stuff. To each their own…. However, they did recommend several titles of “normal” Anime. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to watch some of these before the next meet up. Here’s ten of their recommendation

1. Samurai 7

Samurai 7

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Samurai 7 tells the story of a village named Kanna. Every year during the harvest a group of bandits come and steal away almost all of the rice that had been harvested that year. Not only that, the bandits are becoming more demanding, now taking women and children in addition to rice.

The elder of Kanna Village has decided that to protect the village they must hire samurai to fight against the bandits. However, the village has no money and thus must find samurai willing to protect the village for a payment of rice. Three members of the village leave to attempt to recruit samurai. They travel to the city and search for samurai willing to work, and after finding several samurai and having a few encounters with the local government they return to Kanna village to prepare defenses against the bandits.

The samurai train the villagers in the use of bows, building walls, and construct a giant ballista to defend the village against the bandits. After successfully defeating the bandits, the samurai then launch an attack upon the capital to defeat a power-hungry ruler who has recently risen to power as Emperor. After heavy casualties for the samurai, and the near-destruction of Kanna village, the capital is finally defeated.

This sounds a lot like Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film, Seven Samurai, which also inspired the awesome western The Magnificent Seven. Yul Brynner rules….

2. Moribito

Moribito

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Balsa the spear woman is a wandering warrior, who takes on the task of saving lives in atonement for a past sin. On her journey, she happens to save a prince and is tasked with becoming his bodyguard. Her services as bodyguard become necessary, as his father, the emperor, wants him dead.

3. Golgo 13

Golgo 13

Synopsis (from IMDB):

Indestructible to his enemies and irrestible to women, the professional assassin codenamed GOLGO 13 is shrouded in mystery and anonymity. If you’re on his hit list your already dead. Always hired on his reputation alone, GOLGO 13 never breaks a contract. But can he survive the combine forces of the FBI, CIA, The Pentagon and the U.S. Army? Has the nameless agent finally met his match against the superhuman powers of the Snake and the twin evils of the psychopathic mercenaries, Gold and Silver? Written by <a.leahy@uws.edu.au>

4. Crying Freeman

Crying Freeman

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Yō Hinomura, a Japanese potter, comes into the possession of some film showing an assassination by an agent of the 108 Dragons, a powerful Chinese mafia. When he refuses to turn the film over to them, they kidnap him. Hypnotized, he is trained as an assassin for them and his body is tattooed with dragons. He is given the codename “Crying Freeman,” because he cries after a kill and longs to be free.

One of his killings is witnessed by Emu Hino, a lonely and beautiful Japanese artist. Knowing he must kill her, she paints his portrait and waits for him to come. When he does so, she tells him that she is tired of being alone and wishes to end her life. She asks for a favor before he kills her – to make love to her, so that she will not die as a virgin. He grants her wish, but finds he cannot kill her and they fall in love. The killing she witnessed was of a yakuza boss, however, so the yakuza want to find her so that they can find the killer. One of the yakuza attempts to enter Emu’s home and force her to disclose the name of the killer, critically injuring her. Freeman takes her to the hospital and tells her to meet him at Hinomura Kiln, where he intends to part with her. Instead, she accompanies him back to the 108 Dragons, where he tattoos her with tigers and they marry.

The heads of the 108 Dragons decide to name Freeman as their heir. He is given the Chinese name Lóng Tài-Yáng, and Emu is renamed Hǔ Qīng-Lán, as both pass the tests given to them. It proves not as easy as that, however, as they must contend with challenges to the leadership from Bái-Yá Shàn, the granddaughter of the leaders of the 108 Dragons, and attempts to destroy the Dragons from other underground organizations.

5. Elfen Lied

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Elfen Lied takes place in Japan, focusing on a new strain of the human race – Diclonius, similar to ordinary human beings, yet different at the genetic level and notable due to physical abnormalities, particularly a pair of short horn-like protrusions. One such Diclonius, Lucy, is the main character of the series: initially held in a facility built for experimentation, located off the coast of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, she manages to escape and wreak havoc, but is injured in the process, an event which causes her to develop a secondary, child-like personality known as Nyu.

She is found by two local residents, Kohta, who studies at the local university, and his cousin Yuka. They agree to take her in, becoming involved with the numerous, often brutal, attempts to recapture Lucy by a Special Assault Team and a number of other Diclonius, who shift from oblivious to murderous frequently. Other characters include Bando, a SAT trooper who was mauled by Lucy and infected with a virus, and Kurama, a carrier of the virus.

While the animated series ends with Lucy confronting a large team of SAT members, after which she disappears, the manga continues by showing the mad plans of Kakuzawa, leader of the Diclonius’ research, and his ultimate failure. The world itself is endangered.

6. Gunslinger Girl

Gunslinger Girl

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Set in Italy, Gunslinger Girl follows the exploits of the Social Welfare Agency (often referred to as simply “the Agency”), ostensibly a charitable institution sponsored by the Italian government. While the Agency professes to aid the rehabilitation of the physically injured, it is actually a military organization specializing in counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism. It is composed of two independent branches: Public Safety, its surveillance and intelligence-gathering division, and Special Ops, the anti-terrorist division. Special Ops is itself divided into Sections 1 and 2, the latter of which employs young girls fitted with cybernetic implants as agents. The implants, which consist of synthesized muscles and carbon fiber frames, result in heightened strength and reflexes as well as high resilience to damage and pain. Each girl is paired with a male trainer, or “handler”, and together they are referred to as a fratello — Italian for “brother”. The handler is responsible for the training, welfare and field performance of his charge, and is free to use whatever methods he considers suitable. While these methods vary according to the handler, a common part of each girl’s regimen is brainwashing called “conditioning”, which produces a deadly assassin with unquestioning loyalty to her handler but also limits her life span.

Each fratello exhibits a unique dynamic. Most of the handlers have police or military backgrounds and were recruited directly into Section 2. Most also chose their own cyborgs from a list of candidates, though some appear to have been assigned a cyborg. The Social Welfare Agency primarily concerns itself with dealing with the Padania Republic Faction, an organization seeking an independent northern Italy through acts of terrorism and bribery.

7. Utawarerumono

Utawarerumono

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Utawarerumono is a story centering around the masked protagonist, Hakuoro, who one day is found by a family of two girls and their grandmother in a nearby forest close to their village. He is badly injured and is soon found to have amnesia, so they take him to their home and treat him until he is well again. Hakuoro is soon accepted into their village where he stays and lives with them, but before long Hakuoro finds that life in this village is being oppressed by the greedy emperor who rules over the country their village resides in. Soon after, these negative actions taken towards their village result in him leading a rebellion against the emperor of the country which later lands him to become emperor of a vast new country which is named Tusukuru, after the well-respected woman who helped save his life.

After becoming emperor and things begin to calm down, Hakuoro soon finds out that peace is hard to maintain and finds himself constantly in battle in order to protect the peace of his country and his people. Eventually, he is led into many bloody battles in order to fight for the freedom of all those residing in Tusukuru. Along the way, Hakuoro meets several other strong warriors from several other countries and tribes who are fully accepted into Hakuoro’s growing family. Many moments of hardship and laughter ensue as time continues but with Hakuoro leading the way, all others are confident in his ability to lead.

The story’s genre is at first a fantasy-style story with heavy Ainu influence, though later develops science fiction themes towards the end. Indeed, it first appears to take place in a fantasy world full of magical beings and interesting new species of humans, but it is later revealed that it takes place in Earth’s distant future.

8. Escaflowne

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

The series focuses on the heroine, Hitomi Kanzaki, and her adventures after she is transported to the world of Gaea, a mysterious planet where she can see Earth and its moon in the sky. On Gaea, Earth is known as the Mystic Moon. Hitomi’s latent psychic powers are enhanced on Gaea and she quickly becomes embroiled in the conflicts between the Zaibach Empire and the several peaceful countries that surround it. The conflicts are brought about by the Zaibach Empire’s quest to revive the legendary power from the ancient city of Atlantis. As the series progresses, many of the characters’ pasts and motivations, as well as the history of Atlantis and the true nature of the planet Gaea, are revealed.

9. Code Geass

Code Geass

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

The series is set after Japan’s conquest by the Holy Britannian Empire on August 10, 2010 a.t.b., with their powerful new robot weapons, the Knightmare Frames, stripping Japan and its citizens of all rights and freedoms and renaming the country Area 11. The titular Lelouch vi Britannia is an intellectual Britannian prince who was sent as hostage, along with his sister Nunnally, by his father, Emperor Charles zi Britannia, after his mother was murdered, and has vowed to destroy Britannia. He gains an ability through the mysterious power of the Geass, becoming the leader of the resistance movement to fulfill his two wishes: to seek revenge for his mother and to construct a world in which his beloved sister Nunnally can live happily.

10. Samurai X

Samurai X

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

The story starts off with a bandit raid going on. A young boy named Shinta is saved from death in the bandit raid by Hiko Seijuro. Hiko tells the boy to go to the nearby village and live there. Returning to the site of the attack, he finds Shinta still there, having buried all of the dead, including the bandits. Shinta expresses his regret for not being able to protect the ones he was with, so Hiko offers to properly train him to give him the power to protect. Hiko changes the boy’s name to Kenshin, a name he felt was more appropriate for a swordsman.

Years later, during his time as a Hitokiri, Kenshin kills a bodyguard named Kiyosato Akira, who is the fiancé of Yukishiro Tomoe. The encounter with Kiyosato leaves Kenshin with the first half of his cross-shaped scar. After fighting with another assassin, Kenshin meets Tomoe. Kenshin takes her to the inn where he is residing, where the owner mistakes her for a prostitute and nearly sends her away. The presence of her there brings a sort of relief to the stressed men of the Choshu clan, but raises the suspicion of the leader, Katsura Kogoro, who has her investigated covertly.

After the Ikedaya affair, when Kenshin’s cover as the shadow Hitokiri is blown, Katsura arranges for Kenshin and Tomoe to hide in the village of Otsu as husband and wife, so the two would not be suspected. After a few months, Tomoe’s brother Enishi comes to visit and secretly reveals to his sister that the shogunate spies assigned to track down and kill Kenshin are close by, and that her revenge will be complete. Tomoe sends Enishi off, feeling ill at ease. It is here that Tomoe realises that she has fallen in love with Kenshin. The next day, Tomoe leaves the house and tries to persuade the shogunate men to give up their pursuit of Kenshin, and attempts to kill their leader. Tomoe fails.

The morning of Tomoe’s disappearance, Kenshin is visited by a comrade who tells him that the one who set the assassin on him was Tomoe and that she is meeting at that moment with her co-conspirators.

On his way toward the house where Tomoe is supposed to be, Kenshin faces three of the four shogunate agents and becomes badly injured. While Kenshin is fighting with the fourth agent, Tomoe steps in between the two and gets killed in order to save Kenshin’s life. Before her death, she gives him the second part of his cross-shaped wound. Kenshin takes her death hard and blames himself, swearing to fight to bring about the age desired by Katsura, and after that to continue fighting to protect down-trodden people without taking another life.

One last thing, at the meet up they were handing out promotional cards for a San Diego Anime Convention, Anime Conji,  on March 25th to the 27th, 2011. I’m thinking I’ll probably check this out. Click on the link to find out more.

Anime ConjiAnime Conji

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed the post. Let us know what you think, and if you have any recommendations of your own.

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