Anime recommendations related to Digital Media, Culture, and Society

Last time we saw some manga series, this time I will recommend some anime. There are classics like Ghost in the Shell, Gunnm and Akira, or the mainstream Psycho Pass. I’d like to give some attention to some lesser known anime, but they aren’t that niche since they are available on multiple streaming platforms.

Shelter

(I will start with one that got some controversy, since it wasn’t produced entirely in Japan and is a music clip. This is the reason why defining it as anime can be problematic for some. However thanks to its short format and official availability on Youtube, it is an easy watch and a goo intro for this blog post.)

It explores the themes of virtual reality. The particularity here is that, while VR is often presented to us as a new way to socialize and explore, in this context it it is more a means for self-isolation.

Kino no Tabi

Kino no Tabi is a series that exists under multiple formats, in light novel, manga and two different anime takes. It tells the journey of the protagonist that travels trough different retro sci-fi cities and countries, each one different in its own way. The author explores different ways for society to be, some may be weird but offer material for thought.

Megalobox

This is a story that mixes box and cybernetics. Under a sport tournament story the themes of class differences, mega corporations and the limits of the human body in regards to technology are explored.

Summer Wars

This is a two hours animate film. You can watch it with kids and familly. This story explores the themes of an advanced VR social media, AI and bonds between individuals. It has a cheerful end, which is nice since a lot of the stories here have a more serious tone, which is good but not always so fun. So if you are looking for a good Christmas movie, I recommend this one. 

Serial Experiments Lain

It is a quite old anime, but that doesn’t mean that its themes aren’t actual anymore. The story line is a bit a messy cluster and the visuals can be quite graphic and disturbing, but it is in my opinion one of the animes that explores the best most of the themes that where introduced in this course.

Log Horizon

A little bit of context: Isekai and the VRMMORPG are two genres that are quite popular in Asia. You can compare them to the litRPG and portal fantasy genre in the West. Isekai stands for stories where the main character is transported into another world, most of the time a fantasy one, and with often game elements integrated in the plot or as UI (menu screens, quests, skills). It happens often too that the world is the one of a game that the user played, or sometimes that he created. The VRMMORPG one is quite similar, but the other world is a virtual one. The story often takes place in a sci-fi setting to justify the existence of the technology that allows to immerse oneself in a virtual games that feels real. Often the story is only about the events in the game, what happens in the real world is only a minor plot point.

Log Horizon is a isekai one, one of the best in it’s genre in my opinion. It tells the story of the players that when playing their MMORPG, got transported into it, with no way to go back to or communicate with their original world. Under a plot about schemes and strategy, the story relates their homesickness and depression in this familiar but alienating world.

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