6 Reasons you should start watching anime (other than Scarlett Johansson)

After her killer performance in The Avengers, ?Scarlett Johansson proved that she’s a kick-butt action star. Now she’s been cast in DreamWorks’ adaptation of one of the most widely known anime films, Ghost in the Shell. Scratching your head over the source material? Don’t worry. We’ll get you caught up. Here’s why you should be watching anime.

It’s not just for kids

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In the United States, we tend to associate animated feature films and television shows with children’s entertainment. In Japan, there are plenty of cartoons for kids — but many animated movies and TV shows are for teens and adults. As much as you love Finding Nemo, you’re not limited to watching material written for children when you tune in to anime.

More: The hidden gems in Brave, Up and other Disney-Pixar films

There’s something for everyone

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If your knowledge of anime is limited to fireballs and long fights, you’re missing out on a lot of cool shows and movies. While action and fantasy series for kids remain very popular, there’s so much more out there.

Into romantic comedies? Try the classic Ranma 1/2, about a boy who turns into a girl when he’s splashed with water.

Love drama? The new series Your Lie in April follows a child prodigy as he deals with the death of his mother and struggles to continue playing music. Critically acclaimed comedy I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying depicts a marriage between a businesswoman and a geeky man who’s obsessed with comics and anime.

More: Celebs weigh in: Fave comic book superhero (or villain)?

It’s easier to watch than ever

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When the first Ghost in the Shell film premiered in 1995, it was one of the only anime titles widely available in North America. Fans had to visit specialty stores and order Chinese DVDs from eBay get their fix. Today, sites like Crunchyroll make popular television shows available the day they air. Keeping up with most Japanese shows is as easy as keeping up with your favorite sitcoms. You’ll have to decide if you prefer watching anime in Japanese with subtitles — the simplest way to watch new shows — or if you’d rather wait for popular shows to be dubbed in English and released overseas.

Space pirates, OK?

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You have to start somewhere. Why not with space pirates? The 1998 anime series Cowboy Bebop remains a classic often recommended to newbies because of the fun, accessible plot and the amazing music. The story follows a ragtag team of bounty hunters in space. (Think Firefly.) If you’re looking for a gateway to anime, check this one out and enjoy the stellar soundtrack of blues and rock. This isn’t a show for kids, but if you have teens, it might be the next thing you binge-watch as a family.

More: 3 Comics you can read right now to catch up on your geek game (Batman edition)

It’ll expand your cultural horizons

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If you’re at all interested in learning about other cultures, anime is a cool way to absorb Japanese customs and culture. Everything is exaggerated, so don’t take etiquette or language cues from anime. But watch to see the cool differences in physical comedy, customs and relationships. For example, in Japan, when someone is talking about you, your ears don’t burn — you sneeze.

You’ll be a savvy connoisseur by the time Ghost in the Shell is released

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If you get started now, you’ve got plenty of time to learn about anime before DreamWorks’ Ghost in the Shell is released. You may discover you prefer high school comedies, dark horror films or the same kind of dystopian action that made the original Ghost in the Shell comics — called manga — so popular. One way or another, it’ll impress your friends, and your Netflix queue will be much more colorful.


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