I don’t often talk about Anime. I go through so much during a given year that I don’t find the time to talk about any one of them in particular. But in the past few days I’ve answered a few questions about Anime for someone who’s a complete novice, and it made me think of all those great series I’ve watched in the past years that have stuck with me, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to write something about them?” So here we are.
This is the first in a new series of posts. As I said, I go through a lot of Anime in a given year and have seen a lot, so I have to split it into more than one entry.
If you decide to give any of these a chance, I just have one rule/request: DON’T EVER WATCH IT WITH DUB, ALWAYS SUBS! If you don’t follow this rule, we’ll have some stern words!
Servant x Service: If you’re interested in ‘Working!!’, then you’ll love this series. It revolves around Japanese public servants. The staff is insane, with their boss working from home via a remote controlled bunny. One of the main characters, Lucy, became a public servant to find the man that allowed her parents to give her a ridiculously long name, and none of the other characters are normal in any way.
The series is hilarious, every episode leaves you laughing and it’s similar to “Working!!” in that the humour isn’t lost in translation.
Psycho Pass: Imagine a future in which, in Japan, every aspect of your psyche could be measured and quantified. That’s what your Pscyho Pass is. In the series’ world, any alteration to your psyche affects your PP and if it reaches a certain point, police are sent after you and put you in jail because you are labeled a “Latent Criminal.”
The series revolves around these police officers and their Hounds, latent criminals allowed to work with the police because they already think like criminals and can help catch others. On a tight leash, if they fall out of line, they’re immediately disposed of.
Agents have these special guns that measure a person’s Psycho Pass and depending on the value, it will lock, set itself to stun or into disintegration mode.
The series is very dark and explores themes of psychology, sanity and how society can affect an individual. Recommended it if you want to add some thinking to your action.
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed/Seed Destiny: Yes, another Gundam. Expect to see a few of these as I do like most of them.
Gundam Seed puts economy and politics aside in favour of a racial theme. In this future, there are two types of humans: Normal people and Coordinators: genetically engineered superior humans.
The main character is a coordinator living among regular humans in a space colony where there is no war and both ‘species’ live in harmony. What people don’t know is the publicly neutral colony is in fact a research station for humanity’s only hope against coordinators: Gundams.
This is one of the few Gundam series to include several of the eponymous mechas from the start and on both sides of the conflict.
The best aspect, for me, for this series and its sequel Seed Destiny, was how it showed the mental stress the pilots go through, especially the main character, Kira, who becomes increasingly traumatized with every enemy he kills. From refusing to eat and leaving the cockpit to being completely on edge, Kira is the first Gundam pilot to actually display symptoms of PTSD.
Seed Destiny takes a dip in quality for about half of the show by switching main characters to Shin, one of the most dislikable characters in Anime.
Hataraku Maō-sama: Based on a series of light novels (adaptations are the source of some of the best anime), this series revolves around a Sauron-like Dark Lord who escapes from his world into ours only to discover there is no magic here. With his dwindling powers he manages to find himself a small flat he shares with his most loyal general and a part time job at a McDonald’s lookalike.
To complicate matters, Emilia, the heroine from their world and wielder of the sacred sword Better Half, follows them into our world where she works at a call centre.
The series is a mix of high fantasy action, slice of life situation and roll on the floor comedy. The Dark Lord is piss-poor and barely sustains himself and is a hard worker and most surprising of all, a genuinely good guy. What I like about it is that the characters have plenty of depth to them. Even Emilia isn’t a simple single-minded Paladin but someone with a Joan of Arc-esque story.
Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Maō: This is one of the first ‘Dark Lord’ comedy anime I ever saw. It stars a normal guy arriving at a magic academy in Japan, with the simple plan of becoming a cleric-type spellcaster, joining a ministry and work as a public servant. Sadly for him, the school he’s at has a ‘sorting hat’ kind of thing that tells every new student what they are suited for and in his case, it announces he’s the reincarnation of the previous Demon Lord.
From then the series becomes more over the top as it goes along, the sheer scale and ridiculousness of it all is only topped by the ever-increasing harem and ‘fan-service’, which frankly gets tiresome.
Nevertheless, the plot and action are good enough to give it a shot.
Maoyū Maō Yūsha: This is one of the more recent ‘Dark Lord’ anime, and it came out around the time Hataraku was airing. War between humans and demons rage in the continents of the series’ world and the Hero and his party: Archer, Female Knight and Female Wizard (no character in this anime has a name, only titles, which is very interesting) go into demon lands to kill the Demon King. Only the Hero makes it through and finds the Demon Lord is a beautiful girl who’s been waiting her entire life for the Hero, so they might work together to end the war between their peoples.
The story is heartwarming and extremely interesting, involving elements of politics, economics and even agriculture and war. During each episode, Hero and Demon Lord further their plans to improve the lives of the kingdoms and eventually end the war. From farming techniques and potato harvesting, to a cure for smallpox, Demon Lady, disguised as the Red Scholar starts building a new and better world for all. Interwoven with all of this is Hero and Demon Lady’s relationship with each other and with those around them.
Nurarihyon no Mago: This series stars Nura Rikuo, the eponymous grandson of Nurarihyon, a youkai. In folklore Nurarihyon is the commander of all youkais and leader of the Hyakki Yakou, the Night Parade of a Hundred Demons. While in tales this is an actual parade happening during the summer, in the series it’s more of a Yakuza style organization with Nurarihyon as the head.
Unlike his grandfather, Rikuo is only one-quarter-youkai, son of a Hanyou (half-demon) and a human woman, and even surrounded by so many demons, Rikuo wants nothing to do with them and just wants to be human, despite him being the heir to the family. During the day Rikuo is just another human boy, but at night and if he’s in danger, his youkai blood activates and he transforms into his other form, a taller and leaner man with a deep voice and dangerous eyes.
As the series progresses, Rikuo has to face his life choices and whether to stay human or not.
The series is pretty good and the youkai adaptations as extremely interesting. It mixes humour, drama and action in every story arc. From rival Hiakki Yakous to the reincarnation of Abe-no-Seimei, the series keeps delivering on storytelling, action and character development. While some characters do fall into familiar tropes, they never get to the point of being cliché.