Not long ago, I posted a beautiful anime-style short. Following a trail from Twitter, I was led to the site where it was featured, and to my surprise, it was Rober Ebert’s website. But, I was only surprised for a second – after all, the nation’s leading film critic (and the first to ever win the Pulitzer Prize) has championed anime for many years and Anime News Network has described him as a closet otaku. He even wrote an article entitled “The Beauty of Anime.” In fact, aside from John Lasseter, there’s likely no more powerful voice for anime in U.S. mainstream culture.
Roger Ebert should be familiar to most of you. Forbes called him American’s #1 pundit (and in the Internet age, that designation is no small feat). Then again, maybe I recognize him better than most because I religiously watched “At the Movies” as a child, wanting to weekly see him duke it out with his first partner, Gene Siskel. Later, I continued to watch (and then read) because I realized: a) I agreed with him much more than not; b) even when I didn’t agree, I learned something from his reviews; and c) his writing is clear, calculated and wonderful. Even if you’re not familiar with Ebert, you certainly are with his (official) trademark of the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down,” regarding movie recommendations.
When Ebert discusses anime films, he comes at it as an admirer of the form, as when he reviewed Ghost in the Shell or selected Akira as a “video pick of the week.” The Great Movies section of his web site, which itself has become widely admired, includes both My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies on this list. Think of that – two anime among a U.S. movie’s critics best movies of all time. Read how he ends the Grave of the Fireflies review: Read the rest of this entry