Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Five Most Memorable Scenes in Anime

The main thing that got me thinking about writing this post is the fact that tj han over at Riuva keeps on talking about Last Exile...and I love that series. There are many reasons for this, but one of the things I love most about it are the memorable scenes - from Mullin's heroic effort to prevent the departure of the Guild pod, to the charge of the Silvana on the Guild mother ship. And then this got me thinking, what are my favorite scenes in all of anime? After a bit of thought, and a lot of digging through my collection, I've finally nailed down a list of my five most memorable scenes in anime.

Please note that this isn't in any particular order - the numbering is just for the sake of separating each scene. I think my favorite of these five is the Wolf's Rain one.

1. "You're all dead!" - Kenshin

So everyone knew that Kenshin was a badass, but this scene is the one that most vividly displays just how big of a badass he is. Who else can get away with saying the following:

"Armor won't save you, lay down your arms, or die!"
[retort by Shinsengumi drones]
"You're all dead!"
And then we see Kenshin lay waste to a half-dozen Shinsengumi in the span of twenty seconds. Beautiful.

2. "You were smiling...ten years ago, you were smiling as you watched us die...." - Alex Rowe

The greatest revenge moment in anime history...ever. You can practically feel the hate as Alex crushes the life of Maestro Delphine. If this hadn't happened, Alex would have been one of the most unfulfilling, one-dimensional characters ever created. However, because of this the fact that time stopped for him on that day really gets driven home. And now that he's accomplished his one purpose in life, he's ready to die. Everything really makes sense after he kills Delphine.

3. "I want to return there one more time." - Gren to Spike

This scene has the distinct pleasure of having what is probably the most beautiful, poignant dialogue of any single minute of anime. As the climax of a complex web of emotions that have been twisting together over the past two episodes, and in some cases over the course of the series up until this point, this scene captures the mood of Cowboy Bebop perfectly. We have Gren, the betrayed warrior, and Spike, two of the most beautiful characters created in anime. Gren captures the best of the dialogue in this scene - what is there for Spike to say? The memories of Titan still resonate deep within Gren, and he desires to go back to that more innocent, youthful time, when he was still an idealistic child.

The references to Spike's eyes, and the past/present natures they embody sends chills running down my spine every time I watch it. "She said you get the strangest feeling, looking into his eyes." And we also get yet another glimpse of Julia, that beautiful enigmatic figure that has been slowly built up over the past thirteen episodes - and here Watanabe executes with master form, building her up even more, into this melancholic angel. Gren's words epitomize what Julia is: "so sad...so beautiful..."

4. "Sieg Zeon!" - Admiral Delaz from Gundam 0083

Admiral Delaz is a stunningly tragic figure, as most Zeon characters are. He has worked his whole life to leave the imprint of Zeon on Earth, and now that he finally has the chance, with the goal so close, he is betrayed by Cima and her mercenary fleet. This is one of those moments when anime gets the opportunity to display devotion at its finest, and that's why this scene left such an impact on me. Delaz is so fully devoted to his ideal, to the idea of Zeon, that he is willing, and does in fact give his life for it. His final cry: "Sieg Zeon!" is the epitome of how the phrase should be used, as a defiant statement against the enemies of the Duchy.

5. "There's no such place as Paradise...at the ends of the earth there's nothing at all...no matter how far you walk, the same road just keeps going on and on...but in spite of that...why am I so driven to find it?" - Kiba, last episode of Wolf's Rain

Unlike most of my friends, I immediately fell in love with Wolf's Rain. The series just had such an impact on me. The characters were all likeable and interesting, the series itself had such a great concept, and the journey - everything was about the journey. That's what made this scene so powerful. We've been with the cast of characters for thirty episodes, we've been through all their trials and struggles to reach the end, to reach Rakuen (Paradise). And what do they, and by extension we, have to show for it? Nothing...a blanket of snow, everyone dead.

But that nothingness is illusory. The fact is, something was gained - a sort of Paradise was found. After Kiba's memorable lines, the lunar flowers bloom, and the promised Paradise begins to open. The cyclic nature of life is revealed. Few anime manage to capture as many deep, compelling themes as Wolf's Rain, and even fewer deal with religious issues so delicately (Evangelion for one is the total opposite - it's like getting a Kabal hammer to the face). This scene gracefully sends off the beloved cast and leaves us with a promising message of hope for the future: perhaps one day we will reach the true Rakuen.

7 Comments:

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous tj han said...

Very true very true.

I think your description of the Alex scene is the best I've read so far. I've been putting off the Last Exile review since what I've written just doesn't do it enough justice. Reading your post just gave me an idea - I'm going around to gather quotes about Last Exile to substantiate the review rant.

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Well, you'd better start writing that Last Exile post. I'm eagerly awaiting its appearance on your site.

 
At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asahina's death in Rahxephon should be one too. Those scences were absolutely breathtaking...

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Michael said...

That's very true - Asahina's death scene was a very moving piece, that I was going to include in a later post that I never got around to writing. Definitely an amazing piece.

 
At 6:28 PM, Anonymous RizuMetallics said...

I agree with you on Wolf's Rain. As soon as I watched it I was hooked. But I've got to say...the most powerful scene to me was when Tsume was talking to Toboe after he had died. It makes me cry every time.T_T
The Cowboy Bebop scene was really good, too.

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I always love to hear comments from people who appreciated the beauty of Wolf's Rain. There are so many touching scenes from that show - the one you mentioned is definitely high on my list, though I especially love the scene when Toboe dies defending "Pops."

 
At 8:44 PM, Anonymous xiaonanok said...

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