When it comes to anime and manga (herein called animanga because I’m lazy), I admit I’m not much of a source for information. Not animanga as a whole. I couldn’t really care less about a lot of the genres: historicals, sports, a lot of the romance. It just falls flat.
To me, where animanga shines is when it crosses over with spec fic. I know: shocker. I like speculative fiction. But animanga is very much a unique experience for spec fic fans, especially when compared to all the western literature, TV, and film that falls under that genre veil.
So: the top ten that influenced me, as an artist.
10: Cardcaptor Sakura: Yep. One of the quintessential magical girl animanga. Why should you watch this? Well…I don’t know. This one is purely for me. It is purely responsible for my more than mild obsession with captured spirits.
9: Sailor Moon: Yes. More magical girl. But you should probably actually watch this one. Seriously. It’s a wonderful example of the ‘Monster of the Week’ trope. That and it actually is entertaining. No, I’m absolutely serious.
8: Elfen Lied: This. It’s very short—the anime only has thirteen episodes. But you will sob. If you don’t, you might want to check your tear ducts. Aside from a wonderful concept, along with great, if moderately well-hidden, classic sci-fi elements, the story itself is just beautiful…and somewhat unsettling. Which I like. Warning: violence and blood abound.
7: Digimon: Yes, I said Digimon. Think what you will, but it’s good. Well, some of it’s good. The parts that are good are very, very good. The parts that aren’t still aren’t all that awful. And it’s a good way to tread water in animanga, if you’re not familiar with it. It’s not as heavy as a lot of animanga. But it still has good stories to it. Do some research first, and then watch some.
6: Ouran High School Host Club: Before you point out that OHSHC isn’t spec fic, I know that…but it kind of is. Sort of like magical realism. Weird crap happens, but no one really notices. But enough on that: for comedy, it’s hard to be better than OHSHC. It does require a bit of previous knowledge about animanga, otherwise I would have ranked it higher. But still well worth taking in what little of it there is.
5: Naruto: The popularity burns, I’m sure. But there is a very good reason that Naruto is so popular. It’s good. It’s basically your classic bildungsroman…except with magical ninja. A very deep world, vastly intriguing characters, and a strong bunch of intertwining plots. Anything that can carry readership for over six-hundred chapters must have something going for it, the way I see it.
4: Full Metal Alchemist (Anime: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood): First off: don’t watch the anime ‘Full Metal Alchemist.’ It’s not the same. Stick to ‘Brotherhood’ for the anime. It follows the manga. Just as it should. If you want something that really keeps you guessing, keeps you unsure, even a little worried the whole time, this is definitely something for you. And the magic system is wonderful, to boot.
3: Deadman Wonderland: It’s fairly recent, but it’s carved a niche in my head. Not always an easy thing to do. Mainly, the concept sells it: a kid ends up in a prison for murder. Not that he did it, but he ends up there. The prisoners wear collars that steadily poisons them—only the antidote candy keeps them alive. If that wasn’t enough to at least get you thinking, how about the ability to control their blood. Yes. It’s worth it, if you don’t mind the blood and gore.
2: Bleach: Yes, it’s very popular. That doesn’t inherently make it of poor quality. Tite Kubo knows how to spin a story…or twelve. People always talk about the depth and range of Harry Potter. Sorry, but it had nothing on Bleach. 530 chapters in and questions raised in the first few arcs are still being answered. And here’s the thing: you still care enough to want those answers.
1: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: Yep. My favorite. And for good reason. It draws you in, draws most everyone in, with the promise of giant robots, blood, and explosions. And then you pay attention. You get snagged by he heavy political intrigue, your heart crushed by the emotions. And you come back. Something about it, some mysterious something, always drags you back to it.
There you go: my top ten picks for anime/manga. I know, I know, not really my normal fare, when it comes to posting, but it starts with A! And, if you didn’t like it, I’ll make it up to you in the coming weeks.