The response to the Sports Anime post was so enthusiastic that I am back again to highlight some gaming anime titles! My apologies to fans of the “stuck in a video game world” trope, you will have to wait your turn. These main characters are all into tabletop games! (If you must have a video game anime recommendation, I wrote about Summer Wars last year in my Anime Titles for Book Lovers to watch this Summer post.
What we have this month is a series about a haunted strategy board game, a dramatic show about a group of teens who trying to form a competitive memory card team, a slice of life comedy starring a mischievous student who distracts his classmate, and a series focused on trading card game battles.
Gaming is another broad sub-genre. While I attempted to select a range of games and themes, if you feel like I missed a show that this list cannot survive without, feel free to bring it up in the comments!
Hikaru no Go
Hundreds of years ago Sai Fujiwara flung himself into a river when he was dismissed from his position as the emperor’s Go instructor. Since his death, he has haunted a Go board hoping to someday achieve his dream of playing one “Divine Move.” Hikaru Shindo, the sixth grade boy he is currently haunting, doesn’t seem to mind his spectral hitchhiker. Will the two be able to work together to make Sai Fujiwara’s dream come true?
Hikaru no Go is the least spooky ghost story in the world, mostly because the show is so focused on the gameplay of Go and the interpersonal relationships of the players. While the 23 volume manga series is still available in the United States, the DVDs of the show are out of print. But do not despair! both the subtitled and dubbed versions of all 75 episodes the show are available to stream (with commercials) on Viz’s website and Hulu. If you run an anime club or a convention you can contact Viz directly on their website using this form to ask for permission to screen the show to your group.
Full disclosure: I am not a fan of sports by any stretch of the imagination. After a brief (and fairly disastrous) bout with middle school basketball I have studiously avoided athletics of all flavors, even as a spectator, but I LOVE Sports Anime!
This genre tends to focus on character driven stories with boatloads of delicious drama. The four series featured below don’t assume that you have a great deal of prior knowledge about the athletic activities that they focus on and each does a great job of deftly integrating necessary information into the narrative without over explaining or talking down to their audience.Continue reading An Introduction to Sports Anime
Just like any book-to-movie, or comic book-to-movie, adaptation the manga version of an anime will often have tons material that didn’t make it to the screen. Some anime act like an alternate dimension, missing characters and straying wildly from the original plot, others will start off in the same place as the books, and then end up in a radically different spot. Occasionally, when you are very lucky, a manga series will keep going past the last episode of a series. This means that you get all new story lines and character arcs, and is a beautiful thing if you have become attached to the characters (I am looking at YOU Kimi Ni Todoke). The three titles explored below are extremely popular shows that fall in to the last category. Enjoy!
Ouran High School Host Club
Manga by Bisco Hatori (18 Volumes) Completed
Anime (Season One- 26 Episodes) Completed
Ouran Academy is a private school where students from super rich families kill time by participating in a series of fabulous and extravagant club activities. Allegedly they also attend classes, but little of that shows up on screen. Scholarship student Haruhi breaks one club’s expensive vase while looking for a quiet place to study. Now Haruhi must work for the Host Club to pay back the cost of the item… but what exactly do they do?
Costume changes and shenanigans, romantic and otherwise, abound in this classic comedy anime. It only ran for a single season back in 2012, but the twenty six episodes have lived in anime fans’ hearts forevermore. The differences between the anime vs. the manga start off fairly mild, with extra scenes sprinkled throughout the first few volumes, but the end of the manga run has tons of new material on all your favorite characters. More Tamaki, more Haruhi, and a whole alternate ending!
Kimi ni Todoke – From Me To You
(Slice of Life/Romance)
Manga by Karuho Shiina (25 Volumes) Ongoing
Anime (Season One- 25 Episodes, Season Two- 12 Episodes) Completed
Sawako Kuronuma’s big goal is to finally make friends this school year. This will be tough because in addition to being super awkward she looks just like the ghost from “The Ring!” It is hard to make friends when everyone thinks you can curse them. Then the effortlessly popular and handsome Shota Kazehaya starts paying attention to her. Is he interested in something more? Things start to look up on the friend front after her class’s assigned seating is reshuffled. Will she be able to make friends with the blunt Chizuru Yoshida and the sophisticated Ayane Yano?
The writing for this High School series is delicate and nuanced. The work is full of funny moments, and Sawako’s new friendships are given as much weight and time as the romantic plot lines. She is a delightful protagonist and getting to see her grow and fall in love is a real treat. There are two seasons of this series and the anime included almost all of the stories from the Manga up through volume 11. The best part? The manga is still being published! (Volume 25 has a US publication date in Sept 2016)Continue reading Anime for Book Lovers: More in the Manga
Urban fantasy is set in magically injected alternate universes where limousines carry lycanthropes around or suburbs conceal super-powered mages. Think Harry Potter, not The Lord of the Rings. These titles range from action adventure, to comedy, slice of life and romance. Today we will travel to alternate universes populated by warring magic users, corporate ladder climbing demons, and undersea middle school students.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
The Holy Grail War is a deadly competition. The winning mage has the chance to make a wish and change the world. Some masters will do anything to win this prize. Shirō Emiya has stumbled into this terrifying tournament, and he doesn’t know how to use his powers. Will he be able to survive the coming battles? Who do you trust when at the end of the tournament, you may be may be facing your closest ally?
Each master calls on a Legendary Hero to help them fight in the tournament. Most of the action takes place at night, and the darker color palate of the series leads to some jaw dropping animation of magical duels.
Note: “Unlimited Blade Works” is based off a single storyline from the visual novel Fate Stay/Night the same name (a kind of interactive animated game, like an animated “choose your own adventure” book). There have been numerous video game, manga and light novel adaptations and spinoffs of this series, but the anime “Fate/Zero” is a prequel.
This is a post about the power of friendship . . . magical girl friendship.
All three of these anime titles feature coming of age stories with a sprinkling of magic and science fiction on top. Like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . but with superpowers.
Sailor Moon Crystal
It is a huge shock when Usagi Tsukino discovers that she is Sailor Moon, a magical warrior sent from the distant past to defend earth. Luckily she is about to find the rest of the Sailor Guardians to help her fight the forces of evil.
Sailor moon was a huge hit in America in the 1990s, but fans of the original will need to adjust their expectations for this reboot. All five of the original Sailor Scouts have joined up by episode eight (it took up to thirty-three in the original series). This rapid pacing means that the series is missing character development and a number of subplots (including a few romantic relationships), but the tighter storyline also brings the viewer’s focus to the fantastical science fiction elements of the Sailor Moon Universe.Continue reading The Magical Girl’s Guide to Books, Anime, and Graphic Novels
School is back in session so I thought I would soften the end of summer break with some anime set in high schools! This month I submit to you a love story full of laugh out loud moments, a ghost-seeing duo who can’t stay out of trouble, and a geek who gets drafted to be on a competitive cycling team. As a bonus, all these shows are ongoing manga series, so you can watch and read (in your vast spare time)!
Just like YA literature, anime is broken into a slew of subgenres that focus on everything from high school swim teams to magical moon girls who save the world. If you are new to the genre or a dedicated fan, these shows and movies will help to get you through the slow days and hot nights of summer, so grab your cool drink of choice, kick off your sandals, and settle in for some boredom-killing summer anime! Continue reading Anime Titles for Book Lovers to Watch this Summer