Out of the other bloggers here I am decidedly grognardly when it comes to certain sorts of anime – I have a soft spot for a particular aesthetic style that I find is exceedingly rare in the medium – anime that seems to want to pass itself off as a live-action show. One particular irony i derive from this categorization is that I really don’t prefer to watch live action, being more an animation buff than anything.

What do I mean by this “live-action paradigm”? Well, “live-action” anime exhibit a few characteristics:

-slow pacing; generally brief bursts of action, if any at all

-no special attack fetishism (a shounen trope)

-traditional live action pacing (discrete unrelated episodes connected by a meta-narrative, often climaxing in some sort of finale)

-heavy emphasis on dialogue and character interaction regardless of the genre

-some element of moral ambiguity (at the very least, more than a typical “good guy vs. bad guy” scenario)

-particular style of character design with emphasis on realism, often utilizing a 1:7 head ratio, sometimes with pronounced differences in character race and ethnicity

The essential conceit behind this grouping is that these shows would work equally if made in a live action format: there’s no sort of moe appeal completely based on the design of the characters (that could not be reproduced to the same degree with a live actor), or reliance on special effects that would look campy in a live action format. As an animation fan, the fact that these shows are done with animation (and with good animation, to boot) tickles me immensely. Almost all of shows that slot into this paradigm end up as favourites in my book.

Here’s the catch – as a category, I’m not really sure if this is all that distinctive. I mean, you could easily conflate this group as “good anime”, yet I am hesistant to do so. I’ll offer the following selections (that I have watched beginning to end) that I believe exemplify this particular “type”.


Planetes undoubtedly makes the list, with heavy emphasis on character development, realistic science fiction setting, focus on political themes, and what’s more, clear ethnic differentiation in the character design.


Stylistically, Witch Hunter Robin is slightly more ambiguous, but the 1:7 ratio is there, and the show has a dark and brooding sort of look, not to mention a glacial pace.


Ergo Proxy is the newest example on here – much like Witch Hunter, it has a rather glacial sense of pacing, and is new enough to have received some blog-time (although not much of it good). Despite how convoluted the plot was, as well as the moments of QUALITY, I still enjoyed the show a great deal. (Maybe my Philosophy major helped?)


Wolf’s Rain likewise has a similar aesthetic, and even the wolves are given quite a realistic (and no doubt heavily researched) sense of detail. What I find particularly telling is that in all these shows there is a distinct lack of the saucer-plate eyes that usually typify anime.

As I state before this is a rather tenuous and contestable characterization. Other additions to the list might include particular movies: works by Satoshi Kon such as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and Paprika. In that vein, some of Mamoru Oshii’s films – Ghost in the Shell and Jin-Roh – spring to mind as candidates for inclusion… which brings up the possibility that this category might be conflated with “arthouse anime”, perhaps.