Introducing Libera! A shoujo with a seriously shonen kick

Hello folks! It’s my pleasure to introduce a new team member: Libera! She officially puts the –s in Rabbit Poets. Keikakudoori. I thought her taste in anime was interesting, as she may have more shonen shows and epics in her top 10 than I’ve ever watched. So I’m looking forward to seeing her provide a unique voice and perspective along the way. She’ll be joining myself for at least through the winter season. So stop by and say hello. And get to know her a little better by checking out her top 10 list. You can also find her on twitter as Libera_. Welcome! -RP

The best way to get to know my tastes is to see what kind of anime I’m interested in. So I present to you my top 10 list of my favorite anime of all time.

You may notice a certain trend in the shows I have chosen so let me make this clear at the start; I’m actually a girl. I just happen to like these kind of anime. Please don’t judge me.

10: Gundam 00

Gundam 00

When I finally decided to watch a Gundam series, I settled on Gundam 00 simply because it was the most recent. At the start, I thought I didn’t know what the hell was going on due to lack of past knowledge. It took me a while to learn that the reason I didn’t know what was happening was because they actually hadn’t told us yet. This was my first hint that Gundam was far more than a simple mecha series.

I knew that Gundam had big robots but that was it really. I really didn’t expect how deep the plot would be. The story’s told from every point of view on every side of the conflict. It gets you so deep into the politics of the world that by the second season, there would be a big fight going on and I’d be considering the political ramifications of the fight. Then I’d realize what I was thinking and think “wow this series is good.”

Gundam’s got a very well developed cast of characters, even considering how big it is. Setsuna seems like a dull main character at first but he does develop in the series. He’s a ‘real’ character, despite his back-story; he changes gradually, not radically. The Gundam Meisters in general are all very distinctive, it didn’t take long until I could tell them apart, though to me at the start Lockon was the “Jokey One”, Tieria was the “Girly One”, Alleluiah was the “One with the Emo Fringe” and Setsuna was “Main Character Guy.” Pretty accurate really, especially Tieria’s.

Gundam’s selling point is in its reality. Despite having Gundams powered by unexplainable (Jupiter?) pixie dust, all the characters and the conflicts are undeniably human. War isn’t glorious, there aren’t simple solutions to war, there aren’t simple ways to end someone’s problems. It stayed true, yet was awesome even in those self-imposed boundaries.

9: Code Geass

Code Geass

This may have been higher if “someone” hadn’t spoiled the Eupheminator incident and the 1 million Zero’s for me before I even started. Still, there were definitely moments to make up for these. Code Geass is virtually MADE of awesome moments.

A summary of Code Geass could go like this: Guy gets a power and wants to get something with it, the whole world conspires to throw everything they’ve got against him and blow everything up in his face. Of course this wouldn’t last for long if Lelouch wasn’t so damn fabulous! He is one of the best characters ever! He gets the entirety of the Japanese people, not to mention the audience, rooting for him, despite basically having a villain point of view. In a way, he’s comparable to Code Geass itself, completely over the top, and leaves a lot unexplained, but convinces you it’s a masterpiece simply by acting as if it is. And it works, for both Lelouch and the show.

The other good points are the character designs bishies, the rather spectacular fights, and of course, as many plot twists as a story about corkscrews. Every damn episode ended in a plot twist, which may be resolved next episode, only to be uprooted by an even bigger one. Code Geass was the first show where I had to take breaks because I literally couldn’t watch anymore for fear of heart attacks.

8: D Gray Man

D Gray Man

My first encounter with D Gray Man was hearing that it was “some carbon copy of Fullmetal Alchemist.” After some time this thought occurred to me; “hang on, I liked Fullmetal Alchemist.” So I watched it.

One thing that really sets D Gray Man apart from other long running shonens is that the animation in the fight scenes is actually quite good. I’ve got a rather unladylike liking of really big fights so this was probably why I watched all 103 episodes at once without taking breaks to watch other series in the middle. D Gray Man has the best fights scenes in any anime I’ve seen when the combatants are human sized (i.e. no mecha).

As any shonen does, D Gray Man had a large cast of characters, and I did have my favorites. Probably unsurprisingly, my favorite was Allen, who’s such a nice guy, not to mention cute. My other two favorites were Kanda and Lavi; Kanda I don’t really know why exactly, I just do, and Lavi more understandably because he’s a laugh to watch and has a big hammer as a weapon. I mean, how much cooler can you get?

The show did get a bit bogged down in the arc inside the Arc (not intended) and it did have the odd boring filler but the rest of the plot does make up for this. It was worth watching for the fights alone.

7: Hikaru no Go

Hikaru no Go

I start a number of anime because I read the first volume of the manga and want to know what happens next. I’d heard of Hikaru no Go before but hadn’t thought of watching it until I read the manga because seriously, it’s about a board game.

I soon found out that being about a board game doesn’t bring down the show in any way. By the end of the 75 episodes, I was ready to find some way to learn how to play Go because I got so into the game. It was one of the reasons I rated Hikaru no Go ahead of D Gray Man; Hikaru no Go managed to be awesome with just a board game.

The plot’s pretty simple; it just follows Hikaru Shindo as he tries to get better at Go with the ghost Sai’s help. Still, this was very well done, especially the gradual development of Hikaru, he basically starts off cute and ends up bishie. The interaction between him and Sai is one of the better duo’s I’ve seen. They’re very different, being different ages and from different times as well as having contrasting personalities, so it’s great fun watching them mentally bash off each other but it’s also sweet to see them growing slowly closer together.

The supporting cast wasn’t amazing or anything but I guess they play the parts they’re meant to play. I wasn’t mad about the rival, Akira, who’s a bit of a Go obsessed twat but admittedly he was a good contrast to the easygoing Hikaru. He’s also pretty exceptional as an anime rival in that he’s actually far better than the main character. Hikaru isn’t your generic game-based anime lead. He loses all the time, in the places you would expect him to lose in.

6: Gundam SEED

Gundam SEED

After watching Gundam 00 I decided to make my way through all the other Gundams out there in the hope that they would be as awesome. SEED was my second Gundam. Now every other Gundam has a new goal to surpass, the sheer awesomeness that is Gundam SEED!

Gundam SEED has its grounds in reality like 00 does, but the general setting is different. Instead of us humans engaging in general conflict there’s actually a giant war going on, so the entire focus of the plot is different. SEED uses its war as a base to build their characters on, it’s more character driven but has fewer characters.

I’ve heard the main character Kira Yamato is not popular in America but I really did like him. When it really comes down to it he’s just a normal teenager in a difficult situation. Kira spends most of the series trying to cope with the stress of a war he doesn’t even want to be in but he always struggles on. He’s a character you can emphasize with. Athrun Zala, his old friend who’s on the opposite side, is the other viewpoint in SEED, showing both sides of the war yet again.

When I was young and naïve, I enjoyed Gundam 00 for the cool fights, with the convoluted world and plot on the side. In Gundam SEED it was the plot this time that took centre stage. Fast and epic doesn’t begin to cover it. It throws everything it has at you and while you’re trying to recover from the last moment of awesomeness it hurls you a new plot point to shout at. Most memorable for me was episode 30, probably the most wham! episode out of anything I’ve watched in a long time. I distinctly remember shouting at the screen for the last 5 minutes of the episode, then going off for a breather.

Gundam SEED is great to marathon. In my first sitting I got through 7 episodes, and only stopped because it was dinner. I slowed down after that, only to have something good to watch tomorrow.

5: Legend of Galactic Heroes

Legend of Galactic Heroes

When I was attempting to compose this entry I had to sit down and really think, why did I like Galactic Heroes so much? What was it that was so amazing about a 110 episode space opera? The animation is dated, the humour sparing at best, no rapid action fights with giant robots, and the central characters are:

1. Reinhard. A blond haired, cape wearing pretty boy who would have been a bishie in a show made 20 years later.

2. Yang. A guy who can’t keep his own house tidy without help, answers the door in pyjamas and a toothbrush in his mouth, and is incapable of sitting on a chair properly in any situation.

So why is this show ranked so highly for me and quite a lot of other people? Because despite all this, Galactic Heroes is undoubtedly EPIC!

The fights aren’t to be watched for fighting’s sake. They are awesome to watch because of the thought that guides them. The sheer brilliance of these clashes is the rush it gives you as you watch the characters go head to head in a battle that is a battle of war but more so a battle of wits. War is only a medium for the characters to outsmart each other in. These fights aren’t limited to the battlefield. Galactic Heroes takes place in an entire galaxy and the political side of war can be just as engaging as the fighting, just as full of twists and gambits and cliffhangers and near death experiences as the fighting is.

Since there are so many characters everyone’s bound to have their favorite, mine being by far the lazy, borderline alcoholic yet absolute genius commander Yang Wenli. Actually in general I preferred all the Alliance characters, though I will admit that Reinhard von Lohengramm in his fabulous white cloak was rather cool as well.

4: Mushishi

Mushishi

With every show you watch, you will undoubtedly find something to criticize. It could be the animation, an annoying main/side character, fillers, a plot that doesn’t make sense at the start/end/middle/at all. Even your favorite shows will most likely have their bad parts. Mushishi on the other hand… is basically flawless. Sure you could say some episodes are better than others but its like saying that Mt. Kilimanjaro isn’t that tall compared to Mt. Everest.

Mushishi is classified as elitist and that’s true, it’ll never reach a mainstream audience. It’s a bit of an odd show, it’s episodic so there’s no real plot, there’s only one proper character, and get this, there’s no action at all!!!! Shocking, isn’t it. But this isn’t that type of show. Mushishi is ethereal, and it’s hard to say why I liked it. Watching it makes me feel… detached, completely absorbed into the world of the Mushi. I was rewatching this recently and when the closing credits drifted on at the end of every episode I would just sit there and feel as if I was coming out of some kind of trance. I will say that Mushishi is definitely a unique piece of work.

Of course, a show like this wouldn’t work if the only character in it wasn’t a top notch one. Fortunately for us, Ginko, the Mushishi in question, is one of the best characters I have met in all anime. He comes across as a far off, all-knowing figure most of the time but he also has a silly side, like when he’s selling mermaid toenails at the side of the road, and scamming his collector friend. He usually stays calm, almost emotionless, so when he starts to panic, it most likely really is time to panic.

3: Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni-Kenshin

There may be a bit of nostalgia in this choice but it’s my top ten list so I can put in whatever I want, public opinion be damned. RuroKen was the first anime I picked up on my own initiative. All the ones before had been kid’s stuff on TV or something my brother had seen before me. After this I gained a lot of confidence in my own choices, since the first show I picked up myself, I loved.

RuroKen was made back in 1996 so obviously the animation isn’t godly or anything. Overall, it’s a pretty lighthearted series with a healthy dash of comedy (always good) and some romance on the side, but it also sports some way cool swordfights, plenty of super dark serious bits and one of the best villains ever, a guy so evil, so badass, that he’s going to take over hell when he dies.

Still, the real reason why I loved RuroKen so much was because of the man himself, the one and only Kenshin Himura. He’s a great laugh to watch, if only for the goofy expressions he pulls, but he’s also very kind and caring – it makes you want to give him a hug. Then on top of that there’s his completely awesome sword skills and his creepy-but-still-awesome Battosai mode. He can even cook! And he’s good looking. I’d say it’s obvious that I consider Kenshin to be the best character in anime ever.

Any RuroKen fan will know that the Revenge Arc was never animated, so the last part of the series is filler. That is the only bad thing really. If they ever decide to animate Revenge, I am so there.

2: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Thanks to my liking of big fights, explosions and mecha, I have some very unladylike choices in my top 10. TTGL is probably the manliest show in existence; it’s got giant robots powered by manly spirit, for God’s sake! Yet this is definitely one of my favorites, for the quote factor if nothing else.

TTGL actually boasts a good storyline, the tale of a boy “who has yet to discover his own destiny.” But ask any TTGL fan what the series is about and they will simply answer “DRILLS!!!” What really makes TTGL such a blast is the Humungous Mecha, the big fights of astronomical proportions (literally), and the coolest cast of characters ever. Everyone knows about Kamina of the Sunglasses, and while we’re at it lets mention the fact that Simon surpasses him in coolness, height and sunglasses too. Even the side characters seem to be made of concentrated awesomeness, except maybe Rossiu, though he did have his moments.

TTGL can be said to be a 100-ep series packed into 27 episodes of distilled manly awesomeness. Sporting one of the best soundtracks ever, mechas that leave you guessing at how big the next one will be, and the drill that will be the drill to pierce the heavens, I’m going to remember this for a long time.

ROW, ROW, FIGHT DA POWER!!!!!

1: Full Metal Alchemist

Full Metal Alchemist

There’s a bit of nostalgia in this choice too. The original FMA was the first non-4Kids dub I ever watched so this choice used to be partly based on fond memories. Lately though, I’ve been watching Brotherhood and it has basically reconfirmed and reinforced my view that FMA is, to put it simply, the best thing ever.

FMA has everything, action, cool fights, explosions, smart comedy, likeable characters (Ed’s one of my favorites), badass characters (Mustang), an engaging storyline, well thought out villains, character development, very good ideas (to say the least, the entire structure of alchemy in the new series is already looking to be a rare gem), the potential to actually act on those ideas (which not many anime can pull off to its greatest extent), and it’s even got the quote factor (I’d say I can recite the entire “Humankind can not gain anything without first giving something in return…” speech).

The original FMA and FMA: Brotherhood are by this stage now matched in my list. Brotherhood is more jumpy, it has completely awesome episodes (think ep-19 “I sealed it with fire!!!”) but also some ‘meh’ episodes. The original on the other hand was pretty much consistent. It’s been a while but I do remember that there wasn’t a single episode I didn’t enjoy. That’s pretty exceptional for a 51-ep series. And best of all, Brotherhood’s not going to be stopping anytime soon.

Evaluation

My top ten list does kinda paint me as a serious shonen fangirl. I guess that’s true in part but I do watch more than that.

As a comparison here’s my list of shows that nearly made it:

  1. Ouran High School Host Club
  2. Cromartie High School
  3. Shakugan No Shana
  4. Darker Than Black
  5. Samurai Champloo
  6. .hack//SIGN
  7. Kino’s Journey
  8. Full Moon o Sagashite
  9. Ghost in the Shell
  10. Trigun

You can guess quite easily from my top ten what kind of anime I like most but my 10-20 list is all over the place. Well, a show doesn’t need big fights to be good, I suppose.

14 Replies to “Introducing Libera! A shoujo with a seriously shonen kick”

  1. “Actually in general I preferred all the Alliance characters”
    Boooooo !!!

    “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann”
    Was actually a pretty crappy series, like everything Gainax did in last decade. Watch GaoGaiGar for a taste of REAL manliness. TTGL is just a poor man’s watered down copy. As a robot show. As a parody of the genre its still pretty bad, but just below the middle line.

  2. Welcome to blogging! Glad to see that you found a good home, RabbitPoets is a cool guy with a good site. As all favorites lists are subjective and personal, I’ll save you my the details of the one I disagree on (Gundam 00?!) and just note that I heartily concur with all the others on your list that I have seen. TTGL, LoGH and Code Geass would be on my own top ten, and I have much love for Gundam SEED, FMA, and Kenshin. And THANK YOU for putting .hack//SIGN on your extended list, that show never seems to get its due.

    Looking forward to your posts!
    .-= ExecutiveOtaku´s last blog ..Macross Zero episode 01 – In the Beginning =-.

    1. Thanks! There’s a lot of little bugs I still need to tweak, and I’m thinking it might be a shade too dark. It’s nothing like the distinctive pink though! 😀

    1. I realised that when I was writing the post, thats kinda why I included my 10 to 20 at the bottom, so that Mushishi wouldn’t be so lonely.

  3. Looking forward to your posts!

    BTW, if you ever want to watch another crazy gaming series, give Shion no Ou a shot. I know shit all about shogi, but that show is awesome.

  4. While also displaying individual tastes, favorite lists are like a bit of a time capsule. Certain titles are really popular among a specific generation of fans, and its fun (for me) to guess when such writers got into anime (for you Libera, ’06-’07?). Not that I’m making judgments or any grand declarations, its more observations along the lines of, “This kind of show drew in new fans” or “This is what the new face of fandom looks like”.

    And oh yes, always good to see new blood. I bid thee a courteous hello and good luck.

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