Archive for February, 2011

Top 5 Shoujo Anime’s

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1 – Mai Hime/Otome – I love these series I normally stay away from all girl anime’s but there are a few that slip through because they are brilliant so worth watching. The Mai series is one of these great exceptions to my rule. For a start the characters are really interesting it has a good mix of female characters that represent many different types of female attitudes and character types. It’s easy to relate to at least one female character and they are all strong in there different ways no silly bimbo types or wilting flowers. These are strong girls with morals, ambitions and strength of character so it’s quite nice to see such positive portrayals of femininity. But apart from the great characters this series is also brilliant for action scenes. The fights are great as each girl has unique and amazing powers. Not only do they have a power but an original weapon and a secret beast they can summon. This means battles are amazing and there is no lack of action going on. By Otome they also have the transformation sequences which are brilliant adding the extra awesomeness of amazing costume designs to the already grand mix of weapons and abilities. The plot for Mai Hime is about Mai Tokiha is an ordinary high-school girl who has recently transferred to the Fuka Academy with her younger brother, Takumi. However, a routine boat ride and a chance encounter with a mysterious young girl changes everything. Mai discovers that she and some of her classmates possess the powers of HiME and must battle against mysterious creatures called Orphans and an ominous organization called the Searrs Foundation. Along the way she must face her own demons and understand what it means to love.
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My-Otome’s story takes place in the distant future on the planet Earl, colonized by immigrants from Earth centuries ago. “Old technology” has survived in the form of Nano machines that allow female virgins to take the role of Meister Otome’s – bodyguards, attendants and warriors that serve the royalty of various kingdoms. Arika Yumemiya has come to Wind bloom Kingdom in search of her mother, whom Arika knows was an Otome. On her arrival she meets the top Coral Otome student, Nina Wáng, and Windbloom’s heir to the throne, Mashiro Blan de Windbloom. The series follows Arika’s progress as a student at Garderobe Academy and the machinations of those desiring the destructive power of the old technology for themselves. Some of the characters have been reincarnated into the new universe and thus the series are linked by some shared themes and story arcs. Another great aspect of the show is the great score by Yuki kajiura most famous for the scoring of the Hack/Sign anime. A beautiful and haunting soundtrack a mix between operetta and fantasy infused dance music. These series also being predominantly female characters have a Yuri couple and some slashy undertones but the main couple have an interesting relationship and it’s nice to see the relationship progress.
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It’s not so black and white and this relationship as with many have a lot of tragedy and difficulties to overcome, love isn’t so easily gained and being in love isn’t all roses for these girls giving birth to as much grief as it brings happiness. I love this series because of this mix of strong female characters, honest portrayals of love and heartbreak mixed with genuine drama, action and battle.

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2 – Card Captor Sakura – Ah CCS Clamp’s little magical girl series that is so good. You all know I love Clamp though I prefer the dark stuff but CCS is brilliant. Cardcaptor Sakura begins when ten-year-old fourth grader Sakura Kinomoto accidentally releases a set of magical cards called Clow Cards from the Clow Book, created and named after half-English, half-Chinese sorcerer Clow Reed. Each card has its own personality and characteristics and can assume alternate forms when activated. The guardian Beast of the Seal Cerberus emerges from the book and tells her it is now her responsibility to retrieve the missing cards. As she finds each card, she battles its magical personification and defeats it to seal it away. Cerberus acts as her guide, while her best friend and cousin Tomoyo Daidouji films her exploits and provides her with battle costumes. Sakura’s older brother Touya Kinomoto watches over her, while pretending that he is unaware of what is going on.
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The fact is I like Sakura and her clumsy giddy little self, she’s honest and sweet and good natured. She has surrounded herself with good friends and has a good family so everything seems so sweet and innocent. What makes me like little this magical girl series above all others (and it’s not a genre I normally go for) is that underneath its sweet exterior is a far more adult and intriguing world. CCS at its driving force is about love and how it concurs and prevails in all its forms which means that this series is full of relationships not normally represents. I mean there’s Sakura’s best friend with her lesbian crush on Sakura, one of Sakura’s school friend is secretly engaged to her teacher, there’s another age difference couple, reincarnated love and then there is Touya and Yuki.
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This is the reason I love this series it makes it very obvious that Sakura’s brother is in a relationship with his best Friend Yuki and as the series progresses so does how much these two people mean to each other. Their relationship is beautiful what Touya gives up not to lose Yuki is amazing and touching and it also has the extra bonus of the truth behind Yuki and sharing his soul with the beautiful Yue. Nothing like a cute bishie guy that transforms into a hot bishie angel to make me a happy fan girl.
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Oh I could fan girl about this yaoi paring all day it was one of my first ever yaoi pairings and it was lovely but then CCS make relationships beautiful and touching. Sakura’s growing understanding of her own feelings and her relationship with Syaoran is a lovely journey to watch. It also helps that the series is also touching and fun, the Clow cards are interesting and while the first half concentrates on collecting them the second is on transforming them. Therefor some interesting episodes, battles and magically powers. Also with all magical girl shows there’s plenty of outfit changes and a great running joke about the costume changes and the magical staff spell casting ritual that all these shows need. Good thing Sakura twirls the baton at school.
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3 – The Vision of Escaflowne – a beautiful fantasy series and a classic of the genre. The series focuses on the heroine, Hitomi Kanzaki, and her adventures after she is transported to the world of Gaea, a mysterious planet where she can see Earth and its moon in the sky. On Gaea, Earth is known as the Mystic Moon. Hitomi’s latent psychic powers are enhanced on Gaea and she quickly becomes embroiled in the conflicts between the Zaibach Empire and the several peaceful countries that surround it. The conflicts are brought about by the Zaibach Empire’s quest to revive the legendary power from the ancient city of Atlantis. As the series progresses, many of the characters’ pasts and motivations, as well as the history of Atlantis and the true nature of the planet Gaea, are revealed.
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This is fantasy at its best an amazing world a strong heroin, beautiful bishonen, war and battles, fantasy creatures, conflicts and conspiracies between kingdoms and an epic journey of self-discovery. Of course being a shoujo this also has a great romance and a love triangle. It’s pretty obvious who Hitomi is going to end up with but it’s wonderful to see how this romance unfolds. Now as a slash fan there are very few hetro couples I like and they have to be convincing and also something more than the average romance, I like a little tragedy and hardship and coming to terms with the bigger picture while being tested by new feelings. As you guessed this series has all this mixed in with the battles and action of an epic fantasy series. Also this series has the beautiful bishonen Allen Shezar who is a fav for me.
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When I first got into anime this was one of the first series I watched and Allen was one of the first anime crushes I ever had. Tall blue eyed, long blonde hair, a swordsman, honourable, chivalrous, strong and brilliant in battle he was perfect and boy did I love him, between him and Hotohori from Fushigi Yuugi I was in bishie heaven. Of course the worth of this series is not based on how hot one of the characters is but it helps. The worth is in Hitomi’s voyage of discovery both of self and the world and its battles. It has been many years since I’ve watched the show but it has stuck with me as one of the best and very few fantasies over the last 15 years have ever matched it.
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4 – Fushigi Yuugi – the first ever fantasy bishonen harem based anime I ever watched and still one of the best. In all the years since I’ve watched this no other series has had the depth of character, beautiful bishonen and amazing story telling. I watched all 42 episodes in one go as I was so obsessed with this series. The plot centres on Middle-school student Miaka Yūki is under a lot of pressure to pass the entrance exam for the competitive Jonan Academy. Her friends do not believe she will get in, but she is determined to because her best friend, Yui Hongo, has applied for the same school and she wants them both to go to the school together. While at the library one day, Miaka and Yui encounter a strange book known as The Universe of the Four Gods. As a result of reading this book, they are then transported into the novel’s universe. However, Yui is transported back to the real world almost immediately. Inside the novel Miaka discovers that she is the Priestess of Suzaku and destined to gather the seven Celestial Warriors of the god Suzaku in order to summon Suzaku and obtain three wishes. She falls in love with the Celestial Warrior Tamahome, who eventually reciprocates and Miaka’s desire to use a wish to enter the high school of her choice begins to shift towards finding a way to be with Tamahome. Yui, who is also drawn into the book when she was trying to help Miaka to come back to the real world, becomes the Priestess of Seiryuu, working against Miaka out of jealousy over Tamahome and revenge for the humiliation and pain she had suffered when she first came to the book world. The series describes the various trials that teenagers Miaka and Yui face, both quest-driven and personal. Feeling betrayed, the two oppose one another as priestesses, bringing together their own respective warriors and vying for the chance to be granted three wishes by the gods whom they hope to summon.
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This is one of those one girl surrounded by many hot guys and as the series goes on you wonder which she will get together with as they all fall in love with her. There is really only one couple and that is Miaka and Tamahome and god is their romance epic I mean these two go through more ups and down and personal tragedy and testing then I’ve ever seen. One thing about this series is that buy the end I had learnt my first Japanese and that was “doshite” which mean “why?” as Miaka seems to say it all the time, ever episode sometimes many times over going “doshite Tamahome, doshite?”. Ok so if you take out the epic roller-coaster ride of a relationship in this series you all have the epic journey of Miaka as she tries to find her guardians and help save this world. There are so many things to love about this series apart from the bishonen quota, it is tragic as hell OMG do these characters go through hardships and trials no one is safe from personal upset and horrific events. I mean this series isn’t afraid to go dark to expose the weaknesses in humanity, the pain of love and loss, the horrible things a person can go through and how hard life can be. It has issues ranging from rape to poverty and family tragedy. This is one series that needs to be watched with a box of tissues I cried so much as its not afraid to kill off characters and by the end I was a gibbering mess cause well the death toll was higher than anything I was used to. The series is based around the old Chinese mythology of the 4 gods, Miaka having the power of Suzaku the phoenix. Through the series the other 3 gods are discovered as well as all the priestess and there powers. It wouldn’t be a fantasy series without discovering magical powers and how to use them, also the abilities of each bishonen and their weapons. This means that there are also amazing fights utilizing these weapons and abilities. Now for what made me truly fall for this series, my first ever anime crush and one of my fav bishonen archetypes, Hotohori.
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How I love this man, tall elegant, very feminine with long flowing hair and beautiful eyes, he is also an emperor with dignity, humanity, honest and honourable, kind and beautiful plus an expert swordsman with strength and passion. I never got why Miaka turned him down for Tamahome he is so much more everything but it did leave the door open for my first ever slash pairing as its revealed that one of the women in the series is in fact a man that entered the emperor’s harem because he is in love with Hotohori. This is an interesting relationship and is also a big draw for me as these are both very beautiful and strong men trying to find a way to deal with their feelings. This series is pretty epic and engaging and even after writing this review I think I may have to re watch it now!!!

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5 –Magic Users Club – A comedy magical girl series that amuses and entertains. The plot starts as an enormous cylindrical alien spaceship named “the Bell” by humans descended upon Earth one day. Military forces attacked this entity but their attempts were in vain, as the Bell easily vaporized all human technology. The Bell sent out robotic probes to explore and analyse human civilization and, since the probes didn’t cause any harm, people soon adapted and went about their everyday lives. A group of high school students at Kitanohashi High School’s “Magic User’s Club” attempt to combat the alien menace using magic.
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The MUC is made up of three lovely magical girls a very stupid an amusing male leader and the brilliant second in command bishonen. This series is simple fun it is a comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and that makes it magic. It’s more of the mayhem and mischief kinda of series with magic through in to add to the crazy fun. It also has the romance angle and why anyone would fancy the main guy is beyond me especially his incredible hot male friend; this is one time when I reject the yaoi relationship as it’s just not sexy!!!!! Aburatsubo is extremely feminine, completely gay, flirtatious, long red hair and is also a nice guy. I do love a good bishie helps me when choosing a series but sometimes I like to watch something silly. This series is just a bit of fun magic, it makes you smile and entertains you don’t need to think too much just sit back and enjoy knowing that it’s not going to through tragedy and epicness at you. Even a fan like me needs a time out from the more in-depth and intense series and this is a great entertaining gem.
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Top 5 Battle/Shonen anime’s

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1 – Getbackers - this has to one of the best action anime’s out there, you soon work out that my fav shonen anime’s are all based on people with powers and weird weapons fighting each other. There’s normally no explanation to why these people have super powers and weird abilities or strange weapons but boy is it fun to watch them fight each other. Getbackers get the prize for the best because I love the character designs. I mean there are loads of interesting characters with wonderful abilities Dr jackal is one of my fav’s, he’s neither good nor bad but more on the dark side I mean he seems to manipulate knives that live in his blood and has no problem for violence.
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The series tells the story of Ginji Amano and Ban Mido, a pair of super powered individuals known as the “GetBackers”. The duo operates a freelance repossession service out of one of the seedier areas of Shinjuku, Tokyo. For a fee, they will recover any lost or stolen item for a client with “a 100% success rate”. The GetBackers’ job often leads them into bizarre and dangerous situations in order to “get back what shouldn’t be gone”. Their targets range from lost video games to misplaced components of an atomic bomb. The plot mostly revolves around their adventures, often complicated by the pair’s convoluted, individual pasts and a mysterious place known as the Infinity Fortress. Through their misadventures they encounter old friends, new rivals, enemies and new allies. Soon discovering a great conspiracy within the fortress. It’s worth noting that while I love this anime it has one of those stupid none ending endings so you have to read the manga to see how the story ends. But even so it has some truly brilliant battles and while it starts of silly you soon discover just how messed up some of these characters are, all with hidden pasts and buckets of angst and I do love an angsting bishie. And yes these are both men!!!
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It also has the very feminine male character that I love, the type of guy that can pass as a female yet is truly deadly and not to underestimate based on looks. Kazuki is my fav character ultimate girly bishie that has a sworn protected/best friend in Jubei which makes a lovely yaoi pairing. It is the great action and intense battle that drive this series and it looks brilliant, I have so much fun watching it!!!

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2 – HunterxHunter – ah the series that naruto clearly ripped off since its older and in my opinion so much better. Twelve years prior to the start of the story, Ging Freecss left his infant son, Gon, with Gon’s aunt Mito on Whale Island. Gon, raised believing both his parents were dead, finds out from Ging’s apprentice, Kite, that his father is still alive and has since become an accomplished “Hunter”. Hunters are licensed, elite members of humanity who are capable of tracking down secret treasure, rare beasts, or even other individuals. Gon leaves his home to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Hunter by taking the “Hunter Examination”, a series of brutal tests involving skill, survival, and teamwork. Prior to and during the exam, Gon meets and befriends three of the other applicants: Kurapika, the last remaining member of the Kurta clan who wishes to become a Hunter in order to avenge his slain people; Leorio, a prospective physician who claims to desire to become rich; and Killua Zoldyck, who fled his life as a member of a notorious assassin family. These 4 enter the hunter exams together and the story follows their trials to become hunters and then their duties as hunters. The series is great because like so many battle based series they don’t spend 3 eps on one fight they get down to it in one ep making battles intense and harsh. The series doesn’t waste too much time on fillers and works to tell the story as we learn more about the past of these characters. The anime finished before the manga so again you have to read the manga to know what happens next but it does complete each story arc bringing you closer to the characters and the past and futures they face.
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My fav character is of course our angsting pretty bishonen Kurapika. I love him he is all beauty and grace and hidden power drowning in so much angst. He truly has an awful past and I’m so sure it’s much of his storyline that got ripped off by naruto. I mean his whole clan gets slaughters so he’s the last survivor now out for revenge, when he get agitated or powers up his eyes glow red and he unlocks his true power. He really does give himself so much crap and just lets revenge and guilt torture him and has a hard time truly opening up. Like all good bishies he can pass as a girl and I do enjoy slashing him with Leorio. The other great character is the violent psycho clown that I’m sure is a bit of a paedophile, he makes a great villain. The battles are great with an interesting array of abilities and weapons and I love the pacing of this series it just gets down to it!!!!

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3 – Bleach – God I love this show so much so that I have hollow ichigo’s mask tattooed on my back. Ichigo Kurosaki is a teenager gifted with the ability to see spirits. His life is drastically changed by the sudden appearance of a Soul Reaper —one who governs the flow of souls between the human world and the afterlife—named Rukia Kuchiki, who arrives in search of a Hollow, a dangerous lost soul. When Rukia is severely wounded defending Ichigo from the Hollow, she attempts to transfer half of her reiatsuenergy to Ichigo so that he can defeat the Hollow. However, Ichigo takes almost all of her energy, transforming into a Soul Reaper and allowing him to defeat the Hollow with ease. With her powers diminished, Rukia is left stranded in the human world until she can recover her strength. In the meantime, Ichigo must take over Rukia’s role as a Soul Reaper, battling Hollows and guiding souls to the afterlife realm known as the Soul Society. The story follows Ichigo as well as his human friends that develop strange powers and their battles. Also thrown into the mix are the other members of soul society other shinigamis and all their conflicts, conspiracies, ambitions and corruption. I love shinigami lore so anything based on this is a must for me but this series is also just brilliant all the powers and weapons you could ever wish for plus some of the best battles I have ever seen in anime history. I really don’t know where to begin there are great character designs and from a series that’s now over 200 eps you know there’s gonna be loads of great characters, wonderful back stories, complications and contradictions, fights to the death and omg how brilliant are these fights. Every time I think they can’t get better a character levels up, unlocks a new ability, evolves their weapon or just loses the plot. Ichigo is a great protagonist and I don’t normally like the leads as they are a bit too honest and pure but he has such a great stubborn and arrogant streak. I love how flawed these characters are and how grey some of the show is not so black and white in terms of who is good or bad or what is best for humanity and the spirit world. It is very epic as you would guess from a 200 plus series but it’s very addictive watching.

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Among my fav things is the very sexy Aburai Renji a shinigami with long red hair and tattoos who is as stubborn and arrogant as Ichigo and Ishida uryu the Last Quincy our angsting bishie with an interesting past and back story who is arrogant in a different way generally thinking he is better but not so violent and outwardly hostile. If you’re not watching this series THEN WHY NOT!!!!!! It is one of the best action series ever and really hasn’t put a foot wrong.

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4 – Flame of Recca –
Another great old school battle series, basically I have a thing for any series that has a tournament in it and FoR is another great example. It was one of the first anime’s I watched 15 years ago before I really knew the difference in genres and style all I knew is that I loved the fighting and the arrogant I’m better than the protagonist bishie in FoR its one Tokiya Mikagami.
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Flame of Recca follows the story of a teenage boy named Recca Hanabishi, who is interested in ninja and claims to be one himself. He often gets into fights because he made it publicly known that the person who manages to defeat him will earn his services as a loyal ninja. Despite this, he eventually pledges his loyalty and services as a ninja to Yanagi Sakoshita, a girl with the innate ability to heal any wound/injury, because of her kindness and compassion. Recca soon discovers that he possesses the innate ability to control/manipulate flames, and eventually learns that he is actually the son of the sixth generation leader of the Hokage, a ninja clan that was wiped out by Oda Nobunaga in 1576, roughly 400 years before the series’ present day. The Hokage ninjas wielded mystical objects called madōgu which are referred to as “psychic devices” or “elemental weapons” in the English versions of the series. Madōgu grant their users special abilities, such as allowing their users to manipulate certain elements (as in the case of the Fūjin, which allows its wielder to manipulate the element of wind) and enhancing their user’s strength/skills (as in the case of the Dosei no Wa, which increases its user’s physical strength and the Idaten, which increases its user’s running speed). Oda Nobunaga had invaded the Hokage in 1576 for the purpose of acquiring these weapons, and the series’ main antagonist, Kōran Mori, is searching for a madōgu that will grant him eternal life. Recca and his friends become entangled in Mori’s quest for eternal life as he initially attempts to kidnap Yanagi, believing that her healing powers will help him achieve immortality. This leads them to join the Ura Butō Satsujin, a tournament wherein the warriors that wield madōgu gather to battle each other. After successfully winning the tournament, Recca and his teammates discover that Mori was on his way to acquire the Tendō Jigoku, a madōgu said to grant its user eternal life, and once again attempt to stop him. I know the series is old school but it doesn’t change the fact that as a childhood fav it will always be in the top selection for me.
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Also its great I mean ninja superpowers, cool characters, amazing weapons, great battles, a hot bishonen and a great storyline sometimes classics really are more awesome then some of the new series (cough naruto cough).

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5 – Yu Yu Hakashu – last but not least another great tournament based battle anime from the same team that brought me HunterxHunter, both manga’s are by the same person so of course both are brilliant. YuYu Hakusho follows Yusuke Urameshi, a street-brawling delinquent who, in an uncharacteristic act of altruism, is hit by a car and killed in an attempt to save a young boy by pushing him out of the way. His ghost is greeted by Botan, a woman who introduces herself as the pilot of the River Styx, who ferries souls to the “Underworld” where they may be judged for the afterlife. Botan informs Yusuke that his act had caught even the Underworld by surprise and that there was not yet a place made for him in either heaven or hell. Thus Koenma, son of the Underworld’s ruler King Enma, offers Yusuke a chance to return to his body through a series of tests. Yusuke succeeds with the help of his friend Keiko. After returning to life, Koenma grants Yusuke the title of “Underworld Detective”, charging him with investigating supernatural activity within the human world. Soon Yusuke is off on his first case, retrieving three treasures stolen from the Underworld by a gang of demons: Hiei, Kurama and Goki. Yusuke collects the three treasures with the aid of his new technique, the “Rei Gun”, a shot of aura energy fired mentally from his index finger.[2][4] He then travels to the mountains in search of the aged, female martial artist Genkai. Together with his rival Kazuma Kuwabara, Yusuke fights through a tournament organized by Genkai to find her successor. Yusuke uses the competition as a cover to search for Rando, a demon who steals the techniques of martial arts masters and kills them. Yusuke defeats Rando in the final round of the tournament and trains with Genkai for several months, gaining more mastery over his aura. Yusuke is then sent to Maze Castle in the Underworld where Kuwabara and the newly reformed Kurama and Hiei assist him in defeating the Four Beasts, a quartet of demons attempting to blackmail Koenma into removing the barrier keeping them out of the human world. After this the series follows the various arcs of the manga and our team ends up involved in the dark and dangerous Tournament. The series itself is based around 3 huge tournament themed arcs and is very focused on the battles. It can take a few episodes for each fight and does have the very clichéd fight battle. Hero starts winning a bit, gets cocky, badie shows true strength, hero gets knocked back, badie reveals why he is in this fight and a bit of back story before trying to beat hero, hero finds new hidden strength and makes a comeback defeating bad guy. Every character gets their fair share of wins and losses and it’s always exciting to see what happens. I love the intense battles the interrelationships between the competitors and the fact that sometimes things aren’t black and white and friends and enemies aren’t set in stone or easy to judge too quickly.
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My fav character is unsurprisingly our beautiful bishie Kurama with his past coming back to haunt him and his beauty and skill not one to be underestimated. He generally is the strongest in the group and while soft spoken and well-mannered he is level headed, kind and deadly. Kurama is one of the few characters that can set aside is humanity and use the demon inside to get things done that none of the other characters would ever have the guts and ability to do. Did I mention he was beautiful to he use a rose whip and demon plants adding to the feminine appearance but when he transform to his true demon form you get a very sexy 7ft silver haired Kitsuna compete with tail and ears and a violent rather sadistic streak which is brilliant. Plus he and Hiei clearly have a very close relationship so there’s my lovely yaoi fan girl all satisfied. I love that even in the most violent brutal anime’s filled with fights, death, blood and battle I still find a way to slash them nothing like violent bishies to make a happy fan girl of me.
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Of course I could have made this list a top 10 easily as a fan of the old school as well a new battle/tournament/arena style amine’s so other great recommendations if you want powers, abilities, weapons, fights and action are: Saint Seiya, Mar, DBZ, Law of Ueki, Black cat, Tokyo Underground and Hitman reborn!!!

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Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood – blows the original out the water!!!!

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I have just finished watching the new series of FMA and what can I say truly amazing I loved it I really didn’t want it to end. Now I loved the original series I thought it was great and was in love with the character Roy Mustang. The basic plot is that of 2 brothers whose mother dies so they break the biggest taboo in their world, Human transmutation. Basically set in a world that is a cross between early 20th century Europe mixed with Alchemy, this is not magic this is the more scientific and practical implication of magic the true art know as Alchemy, there are some that know Alchemy. These two brothers after the loss of their mother decide to use Alchemy to bring her back from the dead. Alchemy works by equivalent exchange you need to give something of equal value to get something back, i.e. turning a lump of mud into a rock statue. So the brothers collect all the things that make up a human body and try to transmute it back into their mother. Unfortunately human transmutation isn’t as cut and dry as normal alchemy and in the process of trying to recreate their mother Al loses his body and Ed loses his arm. Making it worse the thing that is created is such a twisted and unrecognizable thing that it soon dies and is nothing like their mother. Ed in a fit of desperation affixes his brother soul to a suit of armour as to not lose him altogether and in the process sacrifices his leg as toll for the alchemy to save his brothers soul. After this event they are visited by Colonel Roy Mustang hearing about two very young but talented alchemists that he wants to recruit them. After what he sees of them he gives them a choice, wallow in the horrific fate they have dealt to themselves or move forward. Ed decided to take up the colonel’s words he becomes a State Alchemist working for the military. State Alchemists see themselves as the dogs of the military being bound to be used as human weapons whenever their skills are required but in exchange they are highly paid and have high positions meaning access to research and policies above the regular army. Ed becomes a state alchemist in order to find a way to get his and Al’s body back. Ed has auto mails, a mechanical limp, to replace his missing arm and leg and thus is named the Full Metal Alchemist. All state alchemists are given a name according to their ability; Roy is the Flame alchemist because of his expert and deadly use of flame alchemy.

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There is so much more plot to the series as the brothers get involved in a conspiracy that runs so deep and is so very twisted in the very history of the military and the country’s history. While Ed and Al try to get their bodies Roy is trying to rise throughout the ranks to become the highest ranked person in this country and change it from within. Both discover more than they would ever have imagined hiding in the undercurrents of their society and work to achieve their goals as well as saving this country from its terrible fate. The series has a lot of characters all very important, they represent different races and cultures different sides of this war and conspiracy, enemies, heroes, outsiders drawn into the chaos, individuals on their own missions caught up in the bigger picture and those that just want to stay out of it even if fate has other plans. This is one of the great things about this series all the character have their parts to play big and small but they all get given the time and investment to complete their journeys. All characters get equal screen time, story focus and character development, they all get the chance to tell their story and how it impacts the bigger picture. All these characters are brought together, inspired and changed by meeting Ed and seeing his determination and conviction. Ed in turn is also inspired by seeing these same qualities in Roy Mustang and while he is on his own journey very much wants to see the country Roy will build at the end of his journey. I was so happy to see that each story line was given equal respect and that all characters were given the time to develop. The original had a lot more focus on just Ed and Al and since I was such a Roy fan was really interested in his journey especially considering how important he is. This series is helped very much by the fact that Roy is in fact a very important part not just because he is trying to change and save the country and has eyes on the future but he is also an essential part of the bigger conspiracy and the behind the scenes darkness that threatens to destroy the country, the big bad also has plans for him.

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For a 64 episode series it amazed me how quickly all the events were set in motion. Ed is already a state alchemist, he and Al working together to finish a job given to him by the Colonel. Ed is already a strong a focused person who cares deeply for people, Al is also very much a strong and caring person both brother sharing a strong bond, a deep fondness showing they are not just tied by fate and blood but also genuinely care and respect each other. There are no standalone episodes, no story so far eps and no filler eps its pure storyline start to finish. This makes the series very epic and very hard to stop watching if you need to go to work. It’s very intense and has a much darker tone than the original. I for one prefer the darker more gritty feel of this series, how much harsher they play it. Not just the fact that they really show you how much hell these characters have been through and go through but also the inner turmoil and pain they are going through. The series is more violent and doesn’t hold back on the horrific nature of war, human experimentation, revenge, mutation and sacrifice. But it’s not just visually harsher and more violent the mental strain and despair within the human soul is also very apparent. And it’s not just the human characters that get this harsher tone but the villains the homunculus have a far more tortured existence and representation. The Homunculus are made, they were created by their “father” to help him achieve his ultimate goal. Each one is named after a seven deadly sin and represent an emotion “father” threw away in order to gain perfection and rise above humanity. Homunculi believe they are far superior to humans and have their own set of morals and way of living. They are also far more the monsters in the series, not just physically but also in terms of the crimes they commit. A good example is Envy and his true form, a giant green almost lizard that has all the humans he consume twisting in agony over his skin making him every bit the monster on the outside as he is on the inside. But what truly tortures these homunculus is the fact that they are also jealous of humanity that think they are above us and yet part of them yearns to like us and that hurts them in ways that physical pain can’t.

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The series is just brilliant never slowing down, showing the true strength of the bonds between people and how strong humans can really be. It also expose how corrupt and dangerous we are as a race. We are both easily manipulated and heroic and this series shows the best and worst of humanity. The action is amazing both fight scenes and the way alchemy is used. For such a large and intricately woven story it is very interesting and follows well never getting too complicated or trying to be too intelligent. It is so worth watching truly one of the best series that has come out in recent years.

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Togainu No Chi – a series that should have been perfect, violent bishonen but somehow failed!!!

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When I found out they had made an anime to Togainu no chi I was over the moon, couldn’t wait to watch it, bouncing off the walls. It’s based on a BL game and while I haven’t played the game because I have no idea how to get an English patch for a Japanese game I do have all the SG’s (screen grabs). This means I know all the characters and all the possible pairings and endings. It’s one violent and explicit yaoi game so I was very looking forward to watching it play out in anime. While the characters still look great and have good voice actors for them the rest of the anime was a bit of a let-down. The basic story is that Akira, the number one street fighter, is framed for a murder he didn’t commit. While his sentencing is being completed he is visited by a mysterious woman who gives him the option of rooting in prison or taking up a tag going to a district called Toshima and participating in the Igra game. Toshima is a violent and deadly district sealed off from the normal world that has its own set of rules. Igra is a game in which you collect tags from opponents, the tags are similar to cards and you have to try and get a royal flush so that you can challenge ll Re and gain the position of drug lord. Everyone is given 5 random tags and you basically have to fight people for them in the hope you opponent has a tag that will get you closer to making it to a royal flush. This leads to violent battles and a lot of bloodshed and death. Add to the mix a drug called Line that gives you super strength while turning you mad you get a great gritty and harsh environment. So far so good was nice knowing the plot behind the game and images I’d collected from it and it was a world and plot that appeals to my violent aesthetic.

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But things start going wrong, for a BL game that has a lot of sex scenes between the bishonen the anime is barely recognisable as even a shonen ai show. There’s only 2 openly gay scenes in it, one is a guy escaping with love bits on his chest while a naked guy gets out of bed screaming bastard and dripping blood, obviously he literally got screwed so the escaping guy could steal his tags and the other is from the only openly gay character as he enters a room full of naked boys and starts stripping. The only gay character is a creep a really freaky pervert that while being the ruler of Toshima also has a large BDSM fetish and even has his own pretty boy gimp that acts like a dog following him about. Now while I love my yaoi and especially the dark side not so into creepy rapist BDSM perverts. As for the rest of the bishonen you have Akira who is our main protagonist and from the SG’s has about 8 pairing options so I was interested to see how they were going to show all his possible romances and see who he was going to get together with during the series. Unfortunately they play down the BL element there’s only really 2 options for a romance but mostly just strong friendships and then definite hate based relationships. I was so upset about the playing down of the BL elements, I mean you can slash the series but it’s based on a Yaoi game so come on at least let the guys have a hug maybe a kiss or at least put the possibility of a relationship into it.

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The majority of the series concentrates on the drug Line and its affects and this is where the yaoi fan girl gets a bit happier because the relationship between Akira and his best friend Keisuke really intensifies. Poor Keisuke he worries so much about Akira he follows him into this crazy mess even joining the Igra even though by nature he is a timid, shy and genuinely nice guy. His gentleness and caring nature though cause him to get into trouble and Akira snaps at him saying he’s useless and in the way so Keisuke runs off. Its here when Akira realises how much he’s taken their friendship for granted and realises he wants to stay together with Keisuke, protect him and escape together. Unfortunately misguided Keisuke decided that he needs to be stronger if he wants to stay with Akira so takes Line and becomes a brutal monster convinced Akira hates him. So Keisuke tries to kill Akira and poor Akira has to fight his best friend. Thrown into the mix is the next important plot line of something weird about Akira’s blood and if a Line user tastes it they react violently resulting in poisoning. So yes you get it, as Akira is trying to convince Keisuke’s how important he is to him and how he truly wants to be with the man he was before the Line and that he wants to escape together and all other romantic and slash friendly conversations Keisuke accidently get some of Akira’s blood in him. Akira pretty much gets the fright of his life thinking he’s lost the most important person to him but luckily their strong bond is enough to help Keisuke resist death and come out alive and well. But do they hug no, this is where they were supposed to hug or kiss but instead they just smile at each other. So fan girl was happy then she was sad again and to make matters worse the last 5 eps start to make no sense at all.
You get the feeling that there was a lot more back story to the characters that we never really find out so things get confusing. If this had stayed a street fight with drug abuse storyline things would have been fine but no it had to get weird. There’s a military experiment, superpowers, perfect soldiers and mind wipes that all get revealed and dealt with so quickly there’s no time to work out what the hell happened. Just as I was getting used to another plot line about a brother seeking revenge on his older brother for killing his mates it all goes tits up in plot, why the hell did they have to bring in secrete government weapons made human. We get a cryptic guy that flies about talking about his blood and saying how to overcome your fear. Rin was an interesting character small cute boy deadly in a fight but bounced about happily, turns out he has a grudge to settle with his older hot sword wielding badass of a brother Shiki. But do we get to know the details no, why did Shiki kill their friends, how did Rin get to Toshima, why is Shiki working for pervert man delivering drugs and killing everyone in his path, what is the fear born within him he is trying to control, why did he turn into a super soldier after biting Nichole the floating weapon man, why why why. So many questions no answers and a mess really. What’s with Nichole I get he doesn’t have emotions he’s a living weapon so why is he hiding out in Toshima, it turns out his blood is the base of Line so why is he supplying it to pervert. At the end Nichole ended up in a big fight with Shiki, but why was he giving Shiki briefcases of Line, then he asks him to bite him and take his blood to pass a trial, what bloody trial and only for him to go you failed now let’s fight aahhhh!!!!! Not making sense anymore just making me confused. It’s hard to perv on all you pretty boys when nothing is making sense. In the end military, some other secret company no one thought to mention earlier and they guys who framed Akira and got him into this mess all turn up and a war breaks out, WTF!!! Why are planes bombing perverts castle, who the hell are the secret company that want the super weapon why are a load of people with guns shooting everyone, where is the plot!!
So yeah to make matters worse as our main guys plan to leave Toshima and get out of the mess when Shiki turns up all super powered and decided he wants to kill Akira and just to kick the yaoi fan girl in me he bloody well kills Keisuke. Keisuke who has gotten over his addiction to Line, survived madness and had Akira pretty much confess to him tries to save Akira and gets chopped down. I was not happy what was the point in killing the love interest, it was a very loving and beautiful farewell, and these two guys really did love each other and finally got to admit it in their own way but still No!!!!!! Akira goes a little mental luckily Rin turns up to tell him Keisuke wouldn’t want him to die but rather live on and they all escape. I’m sorry but this whole Keisuke would want you to live on, no thanks I’d rather have Akira get his revenge on Shik,i dying and then at least he wouldn’t have to live without the man he loves and instead be reunited with Keisuke in their next life (I’m a reincarnation fan). No even though Toshima is a war zone and their seems to be a battle between super human weapons Akira makes it out back to normal society and gets a job. It’s very anticlimactic, we hear that back in Toshima a new version of line is being sold on the streets, so does that mean pervert and his goons lived and his place wasn’t destroyed by all those bombs, what happened to Nichole the human weapon or poor Keisuke’s body come on people a bit more answers rather than this wet boring ending. At least after the credits we get a bit more though by this point I was all upset and mad and therefore not really paying that much attention to Akira’s speech on the meaning of life, what it means to live, what Keisuke taught him and all that jazz but he somehow as gained a sword and he makes his way back to Toshima to fight Shiki so maybe he still does get his revenge and reunites with Keisuke but we won’t know. So any way if you’re expecting a shonen ai series like Loveless, Yami No Matsuei or Sukisyo then be disappointed and then very confused. But if you don’t mind watching pretty boys kill each over than knock yourself out but this won’t be going down as a favourite and it had so much potential to do so!!!!

Check out the My Yaoi, Shonen ai, Boys love Slashable anime list!!
http://www.lzsy.co.uk/2012/12/my-yaoi-shonen-ai-boys-love-slashable-anime-list/

Please dont forget to check out Let Zoe Spoil You on facebook, i have images from all revied show’s as well as my screen grabs from the Togainu no chi game as well!!!

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