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Back in May of this year, I wrote about an idea to create “A Comprehensive Guide to Essential Episodes.” What it basically entailed was a desire to create a database of some sort to archive which episodes in a series could be skipped, and which episodes should be watched to really understand what makes these shows good or at least memorable. I came up with this idea in response to the anime fans I’ve seen and talked to whom have complained about the difficulty of getting into a show as long as, say, One Piece.
Alex Leavitt, in turn, has decided to utilize my original idea and convert to a much greater task, that of creating a true Anime Canon Project, or at least leading anime fans to understand why certain shows are “essential”—not that you need to watch them, necessarily (though Alex may disagree with me here), but that you need to understand how and why these specific titles have effected a great influence on anime fans and society beyond that.
Just to be safe, the canon here refers not to whether Naruto officially loves Hinata or not, but rather to a list of works which are deemed most influential to a given medium. In the canon of classical music for example, you would find names such as Beethoven and Mozart.
I’m not sure if Alex here is the first to try and tackle this monster, but the idea of an “Anime Canon” is in itself a precarious one (though not without merit). Not only would there be big differences between the Anime Canon of different countries (Golion was just another robot show in Japan, but Voltron is integral to the giant robot fanbase in American culture, just as Gloizer X is apparently an influential show in Brazil), but the last thing anime fans want is to be told what they should watch and that they are somehow inferior as fans should they choose not to watch these things. I am confident that this is not the message either Alex or myself are sending; as I have said in the past, the path to true fandom is not how much you know but how much you want to learn, and if done correctly this would be a valuable learning tool for everyone, including myself.
The Anime Canon should be not about what shows you should watch to truly understand anime, but rather about what shows you should watch if you want to see the degree to which trends in anime and the cultures that both stem from and are influenced by it. And the only way that this can happen is if enough people are willing to help while still keeping their heads on.
Give him a reply over at (alexleavitt @ gmail . com) if you’re interested, because I sure am. Alex: you have my e-mail address, so feel free to send anything you want over.