I belong to a generation who watches Japanese animation after school. I came from a country that was once described by Claire Danes as "filled with rats and cockroaches" and she was not entirely wrong. But despite the third-world ambiance, we Filipinos thrive for something better. Perhaps, anime has something to do with our resiliency? Our ability to laugh despite the hardship? Or no, maybe yes, maybe not.

Animation is part of my life, even now, when I'm already doing financial analysis - scaling profitability and liquidity ratios, testing break-even points and negotiating with a software company for payment terms. Back in those days, I have to run from school to catch the latest Ghost Fighter (Yu Yu Hakusho) episode or ask my dad to lend me his favorite Voltes V (and Daimos) videos. It seems so simple enough to understand what these anime are about - the fight between good and evil, of aliens sweet and nasty, or how to fall in love and do time travel.

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Today, there are dozens of anime released every season; it's hard to honestly find gems that you can identify with, enjoy immensely and treasure forever - the kind of anime that you would watch once again after a couple of months or even years.

I'm sure there are some of you who can relate to what I'm saying, and perhaps some others who are amused for my seemingly naive outlook on anime. I guess I belong to a sentimental generation that still values something like "favorites anime of all time" or things like that.

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So, what makes an amazing anime for someone like me?

1. Depicts an interesting, authentic character that I can identify with or at least sympathize with what he is going through or what he wants to be. Of course, it just got to be Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion or Yusuke Urameshi, from Ghost Fighter or even Himura Kenshin with his lofty ideals of atonement and redemption in Rurouni Kenshin.

2. A story that has some form of "logic" where you can say, "Ah that's what I would do myself" or "Yeah, that's so funny, I need to try that to my mates!".

There is this notion from the uninitiated to the anime world that it's only for kids. So I want to make special mention of Ghibli's From Up on Poppy Hill where the story is about a young girl who keeps on expecting her Dad to come back from war or the young boy who is searching for his "real" parents. The universal themes of love, family, loyalty, and teambuilding are "for adults" as it is for "kids." Despite the criticism that Poppy Hill is melodramatic and pedestrian, it was one of the most nostalgic anime I have seen, bringing me back to stories told by my grandma (retold to her by previous generations of my family) who fled the city during the Japanese occupation. It also reminded me of the old, rustic smell of my school building.

Most supernatural (superhero) animation of late are the ones I enjoyed the most, including Beyond the Boundary, Noragami, Charlotte, One Punch Man and even Fukigen na Mononokean. Of course, there is no "logic" to what some of them can do, but even with the supernatural theme, you know when (not) to feel incredulous!

Another delightful and amusing anime to discover is Durarara!! with its mix of urban legends, urban jungle, and friendship.

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3. A beautifully rendered animation from the characters down to the background, where the grass or water that flows on a river look "better" than real. Nah, that's quite exaggerated! I want to watch an anime that comes alive and stays alive! Makoto Shinkai's films are just that - think of Five Centimeters per Second or the more recent The Garden of Words and yes, Your Name!

4. Memorable music that can be haunting or thrilling or just appropriate for the scenes - whether it's a theme song or soundtrack that get played in any given scene. Think of any Studio Ghibli film for that matter. 

5. Espousing a philosophy (or even an ideology) that may preach sometimes, but you get the message just from watching it: A good example would be Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (natural resources and man's destructive nature), Terror in Resonance (terrorism, freedom and accountability) and The Wind Rises (war versus peace).

In Part 2, some favorite "old" animation, particularly the so-called robot romance trilogy and more recent favorites!

How about you? Have you seen the anime I've mentioned above? Let us know what you think!

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