Top 20 Favorite Anime

A long time ago, I did a post where I discussed my top 15 favorite anime series.  However, now that it’s been a few years, and I have become more familiar with more series, and have rewatched some of the ones on my list previously, my opinions have changed somewhat.  So now I am going to put out the definitive list.  Here are the top 20 favorite anime that I have.

20. Psycho Pass (Season 1)
You know something that I have never seen anime tackle before?  A crime-procedural.  Especially one where you are in a dystopian city that has a legal system that is both cruel and uncompromising.  That is the world of this series.  At least in the first season.  For whatever reason, the second season just totally died.  A crime-procedural in a series where the law is carried out by a soulless computer that judges your punishment based on how much of a threat you are due to the data that it takes in.  And its judgement is the last.  Characters who are fun, morally-gray material, and a genre that I have never seen done before in this medium.  While the second season died so bad, it’s good that at least we have this one.

19. Rahxephon
After the success of Evangelion and what a cultural icon it became, there were a TON of imitators out there.  Most of them never even went past the line of derivative, with people seeing them for the schlock that they are.  However, then you get series like this one.  Which took the formula for Eva and actually went further with it.  In fact, I would say that it perfected it.  A show about aliens who look like us, machines that are golems made of stone, and a focus on music and the power of sound, this was a very grim series that I would argue was better than the series it was riffing on, in more ways than one.  Were it not for the ending which is kind of dull, this show would be able to easily stack up to the more famous predecessor.  But quality animation, a fantastic score, and really good voice acting makes this series shine.

18. Darker Than Black (Season 1)
Another series where the second season just royally fucked the quality, this series was about darkness all around.  In a world where some nameless calamity has stuck the Earth and imprisoned it under a cloud that has stars symbolizing people with special powers, our tale follows a clandestine group who does dirty work for a shady organization who is exploiting those individuals.  Action that keeps you pumped, dark subject matter, and a kind of grotesque nature keeps you guessing.  This series is cold, but for at least the first season you can see where it’s coming from.

17. Digimon Tamers
Given how this franchise had been so light-hearted by comparison, this series in the franchise took a decidedly darker turn.  For a marketing vehicle, this iteration of the franchise was meta, had complicated characters who you like, and took some incredibly dark turns that as a child I was in love with, and as an adult I still can sit down and watch and feel very moved by.  How a show this dark was able to get onto a children’s cartoon block is beyond me, but I am glad that it is, because there is nothing like it.  Whether it is just for the nostalgia, or to just enjoy a children’s show that wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of what is acceptable, it still holds up to this day.

16. Samurai Champloo
What do you get when you take the creator of one of the greatest anime ever made, add in hip-hop, and enough meta to make Deadpool proud?  You get this series, of course.  A stylistic, badass and overall too fun series about a bunch of travelers, I love this show so much.  It’s not complicated.  This is entirely style over substance.  But that style is just so damn cool!  The creator of Cowboy Bebop comes back to tell a story about three travelers in the Edo Period of Japan, trying to find a Samurai who “smells of sunflowers.”  From the awesome sword-fights to the fantastic voice-work in English, nothing about this series doesn’t stick with me.  Sure, there are some episodes which just die, but overall it is still a ton of fun to watch.  Steve Blum steals the show as Mugen, but the rest are still so cool.  If you can handle some history-twisting, this series is for you.

15. Gundam Wing
I am dying to know when FUNimation is going to re-release this series, now that they have  the Bandai licenses.  Here’s hoping they don’t do a shitty redub of it.  The voicework in this series is classic.  Telling the story of five youths who head down to Earth to get revenge for the murder of a leader of the Colonies, along with strike back at the clandestine Organization of the Zodiac, Gundam Wing is all about big robots and big battles.  But more than that, it looks at ideas about war, the nature of good and evil, and how the changing tides of history can leave people behind.  This series is classic, and while the animation hasn’t aged as well as you’d think, it still is pretty awesome.  I’ll admit that my nostalgia goggles are on pretty tight for this.  It is the first series that I watched as a kid that got me into anime.  But I still love it, and in my opinion it holds up to this day as a gateway series into anime.  Seriously, though, FUNimation, don’t do a redub of this.  It can only suck.

14. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
When I watch this series, the whole time I think about what life was like growing up.  But more than that, this series does something that so few stories about growing up does – feels real.  When I see the grungy basements that the band is playing it, I feel like I am there.  I feel like I could watch these shows and hear these instruments.  It tells the story of a young man who is lost growing up, and just so happens to run into the lead guitarist of a band.  From there begins a story of growing up, music, and the hardships that come from knowing that youth is temporary.  Were it not for a totally forced plot later about a mobster which had no reason to be in there, this series would have been nigh-perfect.  But I still feel each string of the instruments when I watch it to this day.

13. Baccano
What do you get when you combine a total lack of chronological order, supernatural powers, and the backdrop of early 1900’s gang warfare?  You get a show that is so damn fun to watch!  This series is a marvel.  It’s a marvel how such an unapologetically violent series can exist but be so fun to watch.  This series is brutal.  You have dismemberment, a gleeful enjoyment of murder, and characters who are pretty much all terrible people but you love all the same due to how deliciously evil they all are.  It tells the story of a train massacre, along with a drug war that goes on because of a substance that grants people immortal life.  Between the phenomenal acting in the dub, and the cool style that it has, this series isn’t about the narrative.  It’s about the crazy ride aboard a train that you can’t look away from for one second.

12. Outlaw Star
Some series are substance over style.  Others are style over substance.  Outlaw Star, on the other hand, is nothing but style and not a lick of substance to be found anywhere.  But dear god is it cool!  Gene Starwind finds himself going from a do any dirty job business owner to a starship captain outlaw who has a mysterious vessel and a mysterious woman who can pilot it in his care.  What this show lacks if any form of substantive elements it makes up in some of the most fun that a series has ever had with its premise.  This is science fiction escapism at its best.  This show knows exactly what it is and doesn’t shy away from it.  Hell, it embraces what it is, and does nothing but have fun with that every step of the way.  If you like all the trimmings of a space adventure story (no joke, they don’t miss a single beat), you need to watch this anime.

11. Vision of Escaflowne
First off, let me say, FUNimation – shame on you for making a redub version of this series.  If you hadn’t have included the original version in the blu-ray, I would be hunting you down.  The redubbed version is just bad, no matter how you scratch it.  A series that also retreads ground that we have seen before, but damn if it isn’t all the execution.  The story of Escaflowne is as predictable as it gets.  You have a girl taken to a mysterious world, who ends up becoming involved in a greater plot that involves fantasy elements in a world with animal people and fighting robots.  Original as my pizza pops idea, but as I said, all in the execution.  This series is incredible to watch!  From the gorgeous visuals, to the fantastic voice-work, it has it all.  Not to mention the soundtrack, which is so damn beautiful.  You know exactly where it will go from beginning to end, but each step of getting there is worth it.  Just wish the ending to the series wasn’t as flat as it is.  I guess they meant for it to go further, but ran out of budget.  Oh well.

10. FLCL
This series is one that I saw when I was much younger, but when I rediscovered it as an adult, it grew on me so much.  The best coming-of-age anime that I have ever seen, this short series tells the story of a young man who is dissatisfied with life, but has his boring days broken when a woman on a vespa with a guitar smashes him over the head and nothing in his life is the same.  While this series does play with elements of eldritch horror and mecha anime, at its core it is about our young hero and his issues with growing up.  He is a lonely kid, and I see so much of my own struggles growing up in him.  Plus, it looks at the problems associated with sex, love, and emotional honesty in a way that feels mature.  The guy who made it studied under the creator of Evangelion, but I would argue that this series does complex emotions better, simply because they capture what it’s like to be a kid better.  If you saw this when you were younger, check it out again and see what you think.

9. Death Note
One of the most widely-known anime series, Death Note tells the story of a man’s rise to power.  Light Yagami is a bored high school genius, who one day happens to come across a notebook dropped from a death god called the Death Note.  He then goes from a soon to be lawyer to little Hitler and he fights to remake the world in his image.  This series has zero subtlety.  None.  But dear god is it fun!  The game of cat-and-mouse between Light and L is too much fun to watch.  Too bad that the entire conflict just dies after that point, up until the very end of the series.  Looking back on it now, I don’t have the same love for this series that I do for others on the list, but it is still an incredible show that has one of the best dramatic arcs to follow.  At least for the first 25 episodes.

8. Wolf’s Rain
This series is probably the most thematically dense of any of the anime on this list.  This is a cold and cryptic series that fuses religious allegory with bitter tragedy.  It tells the story of a young pack of wolves, on their journey to find Paradise, all while the world is slowly descending into chaos and the end of everything is near.  Between the truly incredible visuals, the voice acting that is at the top of its class, and one of the most gripping tragedies ever told, this series will make you cry, think, and question all at the same time.  It isn’t for everyone, as the material is dense and there is virtually no exposition to let you know what is going on.  However, if narrative rich in symbolism and with a lore that you have to pay attention to in order to figure out is your game, then check it out.

7. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
I find it so weird that the most true to the original story version of this series is done in an anime set 3,000 years in the future.  That is just so strange to me.  It follows a young man named Albert, who comes into the acquaintance of a mysterious Count.  What follows is a tangled web of lies, manipulation, and a revenge story that will keep you hooked.  But not only that, it also has a style that is all its own.  This series animation is strange, to say the least.  But that strangeness is what sets it apart.  The style in it fits so perfectly.  This series is almost impossible to analyze, because it is nearly perfect.  Were it not for how bad the last two episodes are, I would almost call it a perfect anime.  Some flaws, but too much fun.  Not to mention having a villain who is just so awesome.

6. Stein’s Gate
When time travel, fate, and the changing of reality collide, you get Stein’s Gate.  Telling the story of a young man and his band of misfits who stumble upon the ability to change time, a young man learns the true price of changing reality, and what it takes to set things right.  So much of what I love about this series centers around the main character.  A lot of people see it as a gripping thriller about time travel, and that is true, but that isn’t what keeps me loving this series the way that I do.  Every single one of these characters all feel like people I could know and love, but as I said, it’s not what keeps me coming back.  The real reason that I love this series the way I do is the character of Okarine.  His anti-social nature and awkwardness in the face of life and the hardships he comes across resonate so much with me.  His fight to be a good friend all while battling his own awkwardness feel so true to me.  Not to mention the fact that he lives in his own head, desperately trying to make sense of it all.  It’s a cold story, but seeing how far he will go to save his best friend hits me right in the heart.

5. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
A lot of people have made comparisons between this series and Death Note, and while I do see those, I believe that this is the better series.  Why?  All because of the main character.  The story goes that Lelouch is a disaffected youth living in the occupied nation of Japan.  He has no thoughts about life and is looking to strike back at the Holy Britannian Empire who he blames for ruining his life and crippling his sister.  As fate would have it, he gets his shot when a mysterious woman gives him the power of Geass.  Now it’s a battle of wits to destroy the people he hates, and manipulate the world on his ultimate chess board, that grows bigger and bigger with every battle.  Light is an interesting character, but his corruption is ridiculously immediate.  Lelouch, on the other hand, is one we can watch grow and slowly become turned by his own power.  To the point that he has to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to bring about total peace.

4. Mushi Shi
Anyone who knows me knows that my first love is animation.  I love to watch animation that has quality and a look all its own.  It’s why I love the film Bambi to this day, even if it is cutesy to a sickening degree.  The animation is a step above.  To that end, this series is much the same.  Telling the tales of the wandering Mushi Master Ginko, this series is just so peaceful.  It’s kind of like a lullaby.  I can watch this series anytime that I need to just feel better about my day, and it works wonders.  But dear Groj, the animation!  This series is a visual marvel.  Each episode seems to play around with a different style, and man do I love it for that.

3. Fullmetal Alchemist (Original)
I honestly don’t think much of Brotherhood, so I’ll head that off.  But the original series is a brilliant character study into the Elric Brothers, and their tragic tale of trying to get their bodies back.  This series is nearly a flawless tragedy.  Telling the story of two brothers and how their quest to get their own lives back destroys the lives of countless people around them.  This series is a near-perfect character study.  Edward and his brother are so likeable, which makes the fact that they are doing irreparable harm to the lives of everyone around them that much worse.  This series is also almost perfect, save for the ending.  I am one of the few people who calls bullshit on that ending.  How does sacrificing memory for Al’s life even make sense.  This series would have been a perfect tragedy if it ended with Al giving his life, and Edward realizing that in the end, he has to accept that some things cannot come back, and he has to move forward with his life.  But it is still a transcendent anime that is another perfect gateway series.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender
How America was able to create an anime this good is beyond me.  This series did something that few anime have done before – transcended the gap between kids show and adult.  This series is incredible.  There isn’t a single bad episode.  There isn’t a single wasted character.  There isn’t a single frame that doesn’t fit in one way or another.  When you learn the insane amount of research that went into this little masterpiece, then you realize that anime can be more than just a niche market.  The story of Aang and his journey to learn the four elements and save the world combines incredible animation, lovable characters, and so much fantastic story-telling in all the best ways.  I honestly can say that this series is perfect.  Right down to the ending, it gets everything right.  For those wondering what I think of its sequel series, then it can be boiled down to this – Season 1 and 3 are amazing, while 2 and 4 go from terrible to boring.

And my favorite anime is…

1. Cowboy Bebop
Everyone and their brother has said about how awesome this series is.  Most people will call me a sheep for loving it the way that I do.  But so be it.  This series is perfect.  From the very beginning where you see Spike going to what is likely his doom in order to escape his life in the mob, the end of the first episode that sets up the tragic nature of the series.  Taking elements from tons of genres and blending them all together, this series cannot be defined by any one genre.  The story of the Bebop and its crew of misfits goes from pensive look at tragic characters, to beautiful elements of action set-piece, all of which are set to the best music that anime has ever or will ever have.  This series is astounding.  People sing its praises, but you know what, it’s earned that.  No series has ever done it like this, and I doubt another series ever will.

So, what are your favorite anime?  Let me know down in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m just in a dream that I can’t wake up from.” – Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Cowboy Bebop Episodes

For those of you who have seen my favorite anime series list, I thought that I would do a post on my favorite anime of all time – Cowboy Bebop.  This show is awesome.  It has incredible animation, the voice-work is the best there is, and the main character of the series is one who I have taken a lot of cues from in my worldview.  I love this show more than you can ever know, and so I thought that I would do a list of my favorite episodes of the series.  If you haven’t seen this show, you really must.  It’s been re-released by FUNimation, so pick it up!  Let’s get to this.

10. Session One: Asteroid Blues
Starting right off with the very beginning of the series, I put this episode on here for a reason.  Most people think that the series has five plot-based episodes, but I would argue that it has six.  This is one of them.  This series begins a plot point that is wrapped up by the end of the series – the typical life of Spike and Jet.  At the very beginning, we see the two of them having their daily routine and living a boring life.  Once everything ends, the episode has the two of them engaging in their usual routine again.  The idea behind this is that the two of them don’t get too engaged in life to let things affect them too much.  Sure, they just saw a tragic story of love and death play out, but that’s life.  So they keep moving forward.  The idea is that they don’t let life affect them or get too attached to anything.  Keeping things simple.  If only things could have stayed that way, eh?

9. Session Eleven: Toys in the Attic
If you are going to do a straight-up homage to Alien, this is the way to do it.  Every second of this episode is perfect.  We get this creepy monster attacking the crew, while they all have their own philosophical moments.  The tiny digressions for each character say a lot about them.  Faye has a moment telling everyone to be greedy.  Jet has a moment telling everyone about his views on karma.  Ed is crazy, so she has this insane piece TERRIBLE advice.  Meanwhile, Spike has a casual thought on something that, to most people, would be kind of a non-issue.  That says a lot about him and his view on the world.  It’s a direct send-up, but I wouldn’t have asked for anything else.

8. Session Ten: Ganymede Elegy
The episodes focusing on Jet are often very unpleasant.  Aside form that one episode that shall not be named (you all know what it is), his episodes seem to shine a very cold spotlight on him.  In this episode, he’s headed home for the first time in years.  You find out that he is a stubborn man, tied to his convictions.  This dedication has left him very lonely, because he’s not in the right time and place for his way of seeing the world.  His loyalty is often used against him (know the feel), and he has a hard time moving forward.  But this episode at least gives him some resolution, and he does get to have a moment where he realizes that he can move on from the past.  Or at least try to.  We’ll see further up the list that that doesn’t always work out.

7. Session Four: Gateway Shuffle
This episode is so much fun!  You have Spike and Jet getting a meal while grabbing a bounty head, only for a much larger plot to unfold involving eco-terrorists.  I love the performances in this episode.  We get the cold and commanding Mary McLynn as the head of the terrorists, and Faye is back.  All of the talent in this episode makes for some awesome conversations.  Like something that would happen with real people.  But, to be honest, the reason that this is on here is because of the last five minutes.  The epic gateway scene is just awesome!  The music is perfect.  The action is so cool to watch.  The suspense is palpable.  And the way it just keeps building and building makes everything that much better.  Earns it the place here all on its own.

6. Session Eighteen: Speak Like a Child
For a series that has so many episodes that are thematic and intense, there’s something about an episode that is ridiculous, silly, and feel-good just works.  This episode is all about a betamax cassette tape and Jet and Spike’s mission to get a beta player to watch it.  However, at the very end, we get to see that there are a couple twist endings that shine a harsh light on one of the most unexpected characters – Faye.  We learn a lot about her, and this series is not much for pulling punches at her expense.  It’s like the series wants to show that her way of living does more damage to herself in the long run.  Mission accomplished.

5. Session Sixteen: Black Dog Serenade
The second of the primarily Jet-focused episodes, we get to see the cruel reality that he is facing – that he is stuck to the past and not making much of a future for himself.  The plot of this episode is really paint by numbers.  Jet gets asked to come back to the force for one last mission.  You all can get the play-by-play from there, right?  You don’t need me?  This is a mean-spirited episode at Jet’s expense, but while the plot is not especially interesting, it is all in the execution.  Everything about this episode, from the pacing to the animation and fight sequences, is perfect.  How it all ends makes some statements too.  The first character who has to face their past, and as is typical for this series, it is hard and cold.

4. Session Twenty-Four: Hard Luck Women
I would technically call this episode the beginning of the end of the series.  The Bebop is diverted to Earth, with Faye taking Ed and going off to find out the truth about herself.  What follows is a tragic and cold look at Faye addressing her past.  Or at least trying to.  She doesn’t have much success.  What she finds is that there is no home waiting for her.  All that’s left is rubble.  Symbolism, am I right?  Meanwhile, Ed finds her father, and has to make a choice about what she does.  What I love about this episode is right at the end.  The way the song “Call Me, Call Me” is used when we have three of the Bebop crew leaving.  We then get to see Spike and Jet, alone again.  They try to go back to their routine, eating dinner, but you can see that it’s not working.  The two had gotten attached to their little family, and now there’s nothing left.  They’re alone again.  It’s arguably the most tragic ending of any of the episodes, and I love this episode for that reason.

3. Sessions Twenty-Five and Twenty-Six: The Real Folk Blues
See how this episode goes with the first one?  It’s in the title.  The last of the episodes with everyone’s past catching up to them.  This time, we see Spike settling up with how he’s chosen to live.  For so long, he hasn’t gotten attached or chosen to care about anything.  Now, we see our hero is being forced to deal with it.  His past has come back to roost, in the worst way possible.  While it looks like he should just walk away, he can’t do that.  A lot of people say that it’s because he can’t let go, but I have a different interpretation.  And it has to do with the previous listing.  Him and Jet had come to care about their little family.  They couldn’t go back to how things were before.  Spike could have run with Jet, and left it all behind.  There was no reason to keep fighting.  However, now Spike was on the verge of caring about his life again.  In the final confrontation with Faye, he lays out how things have been, but now that Julia is dead, there’s nothing left to stop him from caring.  So he’s gong to go settle things up with Vicious.  The idea is that if he survives this fight, he’s actually going to move forward.  This is his final part of his former life that he has to erase.  Too bad it doesn’t end on a better note.

2. Session Twenty: Pierrot le Fou
Everything about this episode is flawless.  There is nothing that doesn’t work.  And I love every minute of it!  What to talk about first.  I suppose I could bring up the GLORIOUS animation!  Never has an anime looked this good.  Nor will it ever look this perfect again afterwards.  Or the awesome action, perhaps?  The fights between the titular character and Spike are so much fun.  It’s violent, visceral, and leaves you at the edge of your seat to see how it turns out.  Perhaps I could bring up how this episode has a subtle use of silence?  This is the quietest episode in the entire series.  I know, strange, considering all the explosions.  But there is so little dialogue, and what is said is cryptic in a way that only this show can be.  This episode is so good that, if you removed it from the universe of Cowboy Bebop, it could work well as a stand-alone episode.  For that reason alone, it has earned this place here.

And my favorite episode of Cowboy Bebop is….

1. Session Five: Ballad of Fallen Angels
Another perfectly-constructed episode.  It’s the first of what most people say is the plot-based episodes.  We get to find out that Spike had ties with the mob, and they aren’t gone.  You never truly leave the mob, after all.  So when a bounty head comes up that is connected to Spike’s past, he goes off to deal with it.  What follows is a cold look at his worldview (which I very much share) and how he sees life as nothing but a dream that he can’t wake up from.  The animation is is flawless.  The greatest that has ever been produced.  The final battle is the best I have seen in anything.  Then there’s the incredible scene that follows after Spike gets pushed out the window.  I love it so.  If you haven’t seen this series, I can’t recommend it enough for that episode alone.

What are your favorite episodes?  Annoyed that you didn’t see Mushroom Samba on here?  Well, if the list had been a couple entries longer.  Let me know your favorites in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“I’m just watching a bad dream that I never wake up from.” – Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Terror in Resonance

Terror in ResonanceSo, here’s a new segment where I give my first impressions on new TV shows, anime or even book series that I find.  These are usually done when the show first comes out or when I see it.  I might also expand this to include video game and movie trailers.  Actually, yeah, that”s what I’m going to do.  I hope you all enjoy.

Anyway, today’s topic is a new series by the ingenious creator of Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe.  Following that series, and a spiritual successor – Samurai Champloo – he seemed to disappear from the anime world.  A bummer, too, because this guy is a MASTER of creating odd stories that you wouldn’t think would make any sense, yet always do.  How he does it is anyone’s guess.  This new series is no exception.

It is called “Terror in Resonance.”  Right out of the gate, this is an intense series that never lets up.  Also in the vein of Watanabe’s work, it is such a weird premise that the fact that he makes it work baffles me.  The premise of the series follows two terrorists and their unsuspecting and unsettled accomplice as they work to get revenge against the government and police of Tokyo for reasons that are unknown.  It is implied that the two boys were victims of some kind of experimentation, but they never say for certain.  This series is asking you (and does a good job getting it done) to find two terrorists sympathetic and hoping that they win.  Yeah, it’s nuts.

On the technical side, this series has excellent animation.  Since it has a real-world setting and real-world characters, it looks the part.  The lighting is absolutely flawless, often working to set a scene all on its own.  The destruction animation is flawless, almost film-quality.  The character models are also very normal, which is unsurprising, coming from Watanabe.  He has a habit of making character look like real people.  There is absolutely no fan service in this series, with it never losing its dark edge.

As far as the characters go, the voice-work is excellent!  Since it is still being released in Japan, there is no dubbed version yet.  If they have Steve Blum do the voice of the disillusioned detective who is hunting the two boys, I’ll be over the moon.  For real, that would be awesome.  The two boys who the series follows are interesting thus far.  They have a dark past that they have only just gone into, and I’m eager to see where it goes.  Their chronically depressed accomplice is one I hope we get to see more of, as they imply that her role is growing, but we never really see it.  The detectives who are hunting the kids are also interesting.

Thus far, I am very much liking this anime.  I think it has a lot of potential and I hope we get to see more.  It is like a mix of Death Note, terrorism and some neat quips about social media and the Internet.  I even saw that Amazon got name-dropped into the series.  That’s neat.  So yeah, eager to see what’s next.

Initial Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 15 Anime Series

Now, I’m not talking about the top 15 series ever, just my personal favorites.  I’m not some kind of otaku.  I am a story-seeker.  Wherever I find a good story, I run with it.  And anime has given us some really great stories.  Of course, like with film and books, a lot of what I have seen in junk, but when I do find diamonds in the rough, I am really grateful.  Now, some of the series’ that I have on here are ones that I grew up with, and if I watched them now, I might have a different opinion.  But I doubt it.  I had a pretty good sense of story even when I was younger.  In any case, any of these series’s would be worth checking out.  Hopefully you have!  Enjoy.

15. Outlaw Star
So, there are going to be a few shows on here that are style over substance.  I don’t mind that, so long as the style is cool.  But this series is a little different.  This series has no, and I mean NO, substance at all!  It is entirely style, but for what it is, it is very, very cool.  This is science fiction escapism done right.  The universe is very neat, the characters are all over-the-top, but it is never boring.  The story is almost nothing but vignettes about the adventures of the crew of Outlaw Star, going around the galaxy, trying to find the Galactic Layline.  For real, that is as deep as it gets.  No personal journeys, no great introspection, just kick-ass action and bizarre adventures.  And bless this little show, because it does it just perfectly.  The animation for the series has aged incredibly well, and the universe is all sorts of fun.  Check it out, if you want something that is high on action, low on brains.

14. Digimon Tamers
A series that I saw when I was younger.  I was around 12 when I saw it for the first time.  And man, for a show that was made for kids, I don’t think it is possible for this to have possibly been darker!  For real, for being a kid’s show, there were a LOT of shit-your-pants scary moments in it.  This show dealt with some pretty heavy stuff.  There were the personal insecurities of the characters, which often manifested in the most harsh way possible.  There was the ugliness of what they were doing, deliberately destroying living creatures to make themselves stronger.  Even up to the end, this show never lets up with its subject matter.  And it does so very well.  It is cool when something that is made for kids doesn’t talk down to them.  I think that kids can handle the darker stuff, so long as their is a happy ending.  What makes this series especially interesting, to me at least, is that I don’t actually think it was a happy ending.  It was rather cold, in a lot of ways.  This show isn’t one of my favorites because of great animation or great music, but because of great characters.

13. BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad
I never thought that I would be a big fan of slice-of-life shows.  I mean, why would I want to watch something like real life?  I get to see it enough as-is.  But this show is a total exception to that.  The characters in this show are 100% believable.  This isn’t Disney Channel trying to interpret what being a teenager is like.  This is life experience we can all understand.  I love every minute of this show.  You can feel the strum of the guitar strings as the chords play.  You can smell the dusty basements where the music is playing.  You can identify with the young man as he is trying to find a place that he belongs.  Every single element of this show works, and it works great.  I love it.  I haven’t enjoyed a show like this in a long time.  Now, because it is slice-of-life, this isn’t for everybody.  It doesn’t have a perfectly happy or perfectly unhappy ending.  It is like life – a little good, and a little bad.  And it makes for a masterful show.

12. Baccano!
Whenever people talk about Lost, they make a point about how ridiculously convoluted it all is.  A lot of people have the same thoughts about this series.  To their credit, yeah, this series is REALLY complicated.  It takes more than one run-through to catch everything.  The series tells a whole bunch of stories, all centered around the massacre aboard the train, The Flying Pussyfoot.  This series involves so many characters, so many plot points.  You would think, with how incredibly complicated it is, that it would fall flat on its ass.  But it doesn’t.  This series paces everything so perfectly that even though you may miss some stuff here and there, you will hardly mind.  Every single character, even if you only see them for a scene, plays a part.  You feel like they all have a purpose in the series.  There isn’t a single waste scene, sentence or second of the series.  It is only 13 episodes long, and the creators of the show took advantage of every gory and deliciously odd moment of it.

11. Rahxephon
Man, this is one of those series that is so thematic that one has to sit down and think about it.  There are so many thematic elements at play that it is almost like a study in the subject.  The story tells of a young man named Ayato.  He finds a giant mecha-like golem, and it takes him outside the city of Tokyo, which in this world is its own reality.  It is inside of its own universe.  Outside, Ayato has to do battle with other golems.  Over time, he realizes that reality isn’t as simple as he thought, and that his destiny isn’t as kind as he had hoped.  Everything about this series flows so well.  The music, the visuals, the character growth.  It is very subtle, and very beautiful.  There are a lot of points in this show that don’t make a whole lot of sense, but it is such a pure descent into a fantastical world that you scarcely mind.  It isn’t about the science fiction element, which isn’t the show’s strong point.  This is about questioning reality, and questioning yourself.  What more could one want?

10. Samurai Champloo
Made by the creator of Cowboy Bebop, this series is one of the strangest pieces of historical fiction that I have ever seen.  The benefit of it being completely inaccurate, historically speaking, is that this series knows it.  It is making fun of a whole bunch of time periods and cultures, yet still having not only a cool action story, but also deep characters and some really cool fights.  It is kind of strange how you are having to constantly shift back and forth from not taking this series seriously at all, to finding it almost too serious.  The characters have stories, and like Cowboy Bebop, they all find that by trying to outrun their pasts, they eventually become consumed by them.  This series mixes samurai era with hip-hop style and the same level of good visuals that is to be expected from the creators of Cowboy Bebop.  I will admit that this is a style over substance series, but if that is your gig, you’ll find something to love.  If you don’t take history very seriously, pick it up and enjoy!

9. Gundam Wing
Now, this series has kind of become one of the classic pieces of otaku fanbase, but I am not among them.  Those people creep me out.  I love this series for reasons all my own.  This is a series that gets me because of the story.  The story goes that many years into the future, humanity has started colonizing space.  When a pacifist leader was vying for independence from Earth, the United Earth Sphere Alliance cracked down on them.  Eventually, the colonial leader was assassinated.  Now, many years later, five machines are being sent to Earth, to get revenge.  This series follows the five young pilots in their mission to get revenge.  In the process, they become embroiled in a battle with shifting political sands, different allegiances, and finding that they are not only figuring out the destiny of the stars, but of themselves as well.  The animation for this show wasn’t especially great, but this was more about characters and story.  It has a broad arc, and you never feel bored watching it.  This is a show for a very specific fanbase of sci-fi lovers, but if you are in the mood, and got some popcorn, take a watch.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Wolf's Rain8. Wolf’s Rain
Alright, I’m just going to level with you – this show is incredible.  Truly, unbelievably incredible.  This anime is probably one of the greatest of all time.  This show is perfect.  Absolutely, utterly perfect.  There is not one thing that was done wrong.  A genuine tragedy about wolves who are searching for paradise, a divorced couple who is caught up in the web of things, a man who has vowed to hunt all wolves to extinction and a noble who has his own nefarious plot, all of which revolves around a young woman called “The Flower Maiden.”  The animation of this series is incredible.  The voice work in English has pretty much every anime all-star voice actor and actress.  It’s an incredible cast.  But the best thing about this show – how smart it is.  This series is an allegory.  The world that it exists in is incredibly complex with a very rich history, however, there is one caveat to that – there is no, and I do mean NO exposition.  All of this history is stuff that you, the audience has to pick up from bits and pieces.  But what makes it better – you don’t have to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to enjoy it.  This series is one that you can enjoy, regardless of if you are aware of the level of depth or not.  If it weren’t for personal preference, this series would be right at the top of this list.  It’s what a great tragedy should be.  It will warm your heart and it will also make you cry.  A lot.  But it is still beautiful.  Take it from me, you won’t be disappointed that you watched it.

7. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – what the hell?  How could an anime about The Count of Monte Cristo possibly be any good?  Well, for a lot of reasons.  The first is that this adaptation, believe it or not, is actually both the most faithful, and the most different adaptation of this story that I have ever seen.  I could go on for hours about that, so I won’t, but it is almost surreal how close to the story it is, even though it is set in a futuristic universe.  But the real selling point for me, aside from the great writing, the great story, and the coldly good acting are the visuals.  This series is a visual mind-fuck.  I don’t think that I have seen anything like it.  Ever.  You can get lost in how they do everything that they possibly can with this series not to make it feel understandable or comfortable.  The use of color, the use of lines, the use of faces and voice, they are all totally bizarre, yet entrancing at the same time.  It’s hard to look away when you are watching, because it is that gorgeous to look at.  But of course, the story is great too, and it is cool to see the story take place from the son of the noble that the Count is trying to get revenge against, rather than from the Count himself.  Like the story, in that regard.  If you’ve never seen the story played out before, I would recommend this version first.

6. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
One thing that I love is a story about intrigue and deception.  This series is rife with that.  Code Geass has been compared to Death Note, another series that you’ll see on this list, but to be honest, I think that they are very different shows.  For one thing, their style is 100% different.  Code Geass is a very traditional anime.  I would say that I don’t think that their animation is anything special, but that’s okay, because the story is very engaging and interesting.  It tells the story of a prince who is hiding out from the totalitarian empire of Britannia, who is gradually taking over the world.  Through sheer chance, Lelouch comes into possession of a Geass.  For each person, this power is different.  In Lelouch’s case, it allows him to be able to make anybody follow a command he gives them, so long as he has direct eye-contact with them.  This allows him to begin his efforts to overthrow Britannia, and to get revenge for his mother, who was murdered, and for his sister, who was mutilated at the same time.  This series isn’t has harsh as Death Note, either.  It is definitely an action series, though it does have some good moments where Lelouch’s brilliant mind gets a chance to shine.  This series has a LOT of really harsh moments, and when the characters shine, they shine brilliantly.  Plus, the cat-and-mouse game never lets up.  Overall, a great story, with some badass action.

5.Mushi Shi
Anybody who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of animation.  I think that when it is done well, it can bring a story to life in a way that nothing else can.  It can make a world seem more enriched, and it can make characters feel closer.  Honestly, I think there is more that can be done with animation that live action.  And this series is a perfect example.  I like JesuOtaku’s description – that it is a lullaby.  This show truly does feel like a lullaby.  I could go to sleep watching it.  The stories are quiet, very melodic.  You feel very calm, even when this show has incredibly gory and gripping moments.  It tells the story of spirits called Mushi that live with humans, and there is a special magician who can interact with them.  The animation in this series is perfect.  Were it not for the fact that I don’t just judge this by animation alone, this would be right at the top of my list.  Each episode has a new style, a different way of animating.  It never stop being impressive.  I am consistently feeling like I am diving into an unknown world.  Now, there is the fact that this series has absolutely no, and I mean NO, over-arching plot.  Each episode is a vignette.  This is a show for a person who loves animation.  For real, if you want something that will tease your mind, and dazzle your eyes, this is the show to watch.

4. Death Note
Yeah, you knew it was coming.  I LOVE this series.  I truly don’t think that a single element of this series fell flat.  Except for all the episodes after 25.  Yeah…that got pretty bad.  I won’t spoil it for the 5 people who haven’t seen it, but yeah, it got a lot less exciting.  Up until the last episode, which is so incredibly good that you’ll want to watch it again the moment it is done.  But the premise is simple.  Yagami Light is a lot like Lelouch.  He is a brilliant young student who is profoundly dissatisfied with the state of things.  He sees all the prisoners who get out of jail, not having to pay for their crimes of murder or worse.  He wants to do something about this, but can’t.  Then, by sheer chance, he comes upon the Death Note.  This is a notebook.  With it, he can kill any person, however he pleases, so long as he knows their name and face.  Now, Light is using it to kill the world’s criminals, and create a peaceful utopia with him as the new god, under the assumed identity of “Kira.”  Enter the brilliant detective, L.  L wants to catch Kira, and is willing to do anything to accomplish this.  While he has a very strict sense of right and wrong, L will also do absolutely horrible thing to get Kira, making it a good argument over which of them is the actual monster.  The pacing and characters are brilliant, and the animation is amazing.  The use of light and shadows is just great.  The character models and environment animation is also among the best that I have ever seen.  This series never lets up, and the intensity keeps building and building, right to just the right moment, and explodes in a way you never thought possible.  All up to the very, very bitter end.

3. Fullmetal Alchemist
This series only did one thing wrong – the ending.  Other than that, every aspect was perfect.  For real, it is perfect.  The only reason that it isn’t at the top of my list is because of personal preference.  The story goes that Edward and Alphonse Elric use the power of alchemy (taking one substance and changing it into another) to try and resurrect their dead mother.  Their efforts fail, and Edward loses and arm and a leg, Alphonse loses his entire body.  Now, both of them join the military and become State Alchemists, using their position to try and research the all-powerful Philosopher’s Stone, which they hope will be able to create a new body for Alphonse, and new limbs for Edward.  This is an incredibly tragic series.  It is heart-breaking and sad right up until the very end.  The idea of a tragedy show is incredibly difficult, and this series pulls it off perfectly.  From the very start, you are invested in the struggle of these two boys, who have become involved in something far bigger than themselves, and in the process grow up very fast, and very harshly.  There is also an expansive cast of recurring characters, all of whom have a plot and feel like they are a key part of the story.  The voice acting is top-notch.  This series is on par with a great animated film.  Of course, it is also dark, violent, and very horrific at times, so this isn’t a show for the younger crowd.  But I guarantee that if you like a good story, you won’t be able to stop watching.  Not for two seconds.  And if you are wondering what I thought of the reboot series – Brotherhood.  Well, I’m not a fan.  It was rushed, clearly an action show, and on top of that, there were WAY too many people, none of whom was flushed out enough.  But there is the first, and the best.  Enjoy.

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender
I know, why am I putting a kid’s show above Fullmetal Alchemist?  Well, to be honest, this was an incredibly well-done show.  I think that this is like most any of the animated feature films that Disney has done.  It is able to be enjoyed, by both the young and the old.  The story goes that there are four types of elements – Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.  They can be manipulated by “Benders.”  There is one bender, though, above them all – the Avatar.  This person can bend all four kinds, as opposed to only one, which is the way it is for everybody else.  Things were all well and good in this world until the Fire Nation began a campaign to take over the other nations.  Only the Avatar had the power to stop them, and he vanished.  For 100 years.  Now, he has returned.  It is a young Airbender, the last of his kind.  The story picks up from then, when he has returned, on a mission to stop the Fire Nation and restore balance.  It’s a pretty basic plot, but man, it shines in this series.  The characters are all fun and all grow throughout the series.  The bending elements aspect was clearly thought through entirely, as you can clearly say that each style was based on a different form or two of martial arts.  The animation also is great.  It starts out pretty basic, but after a while, it is incredible, outright gorgeous.  The voice-work is top-notch.  All in all, this show may have been made for kids, but it is easily able to be enjoyed by adults.

And my top anime series is –

1. Cowboy Bebop
Don’t accuse me of following trends.  This is one hell of a show.  The premise is that the crew of the Bebop is a bunch of social misfits who are trying to find a way to get by, in a universe that is without law and order.  They work as bounty hunters, ever-working to hunt the elusive paycheck.  Not an easy thing to catch.  But it is the growth of characters in this show that is just amazing.  My favorite is Spike, and not because he is cool or because he can fight.  His outlook on life just marvels me.  He views life as a dream, that he is waiting to wake up from.  All the risks he takes and the tempting of fate that he does is purely so that he can justify his own existence.  Of course, the rest of the cast is great.  So, the characters are great, but what about everything else?  The animation is the best that I have ever seen in any series.  The darkness, the detail at some points, and abstract at others, the noire quality of it, while at the same time the science fiction style, it’s all perfect.  And the music is just great.  Blending western themes with jazzy beats, it is almost a perfect soundtrack, and compliments its universe in the best way.  The reason that this show is so loved is because it is just that good.  I don’t think a single element fell flat.  Except that one episode…Boogie Woogie Feng Shui.  That was the only real time that this show failed.  And it did fail badly, but still.  Overall, this series has perfect music, perfect characters, perfect writing, perfect voice-work, perfect animation.  It is the best that I have ever seen, and I love it to death.

Until next time, a quote,

“Look at my eyes, Faye. One of them is a fake because I lost it in an accident. Since then, I’ve been seeing the past in one eye and the present in the other. So, I thought I could only see patches of reality, never the whole picture. I felt like I was watching a dream I could never wake up from. Before I knew it, the dream was over.”  -Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick

Top Ten Most ANNOYING Female Leads

There have been a lot of good women who had done amazing things with film.  I am a guy, and even I am sometimes entranced by a female lead in a romantic film.  It’s happened.  I loved, and still love Chocolat.  Mostly because of the fact that chocolate and atheism wins over religious stupidity, but hey, there have been worse reasons to love something.  But, the fact is that where there is a really inspiration and really good female lead, there are some awful, and I mean god-awful female leads that just make you want to hang yourself!

Here is my list paying tribute, along with wishing death, for all the female leads who just annoyed the living shit out of me!  And hopefully most of all of you too!

10. Elizabeth Swann
Pirates of the Caribbean
Okay, this is a character who really served no purpose in these films.  In the third film, they tried to make her a kind of badass character, but after having been nothing more than a whiny damsel in distress for the first movie, and just fucking whiny in the second, it was too little, too late.  She brought nothing of any value to the story, and the fact is that she actually took away from the quality of the films.  In the first movie, she was just a romantic who had a kink for pirates.  In the second, she was a back-stabbing bitch, and come the third, not only was she not sorry for her actions, but she manipulates even more people!  She even cheats on her dream guy and then basically says, “I’m a cheating whore, marry me!”  And of course, the dumbass did, even though he saw her cheating on him.  I am not all the much of a fan of Keira Knightley.  She is boring, predictable, and really not good at showing any emotion that wasn’t just grading on your ears.  Here is a character who should have gone down with the ship.

9. Lisa Cuddy
House M.D.
Here is a character who was cast looking for one thing, and what they got was something else altogether.  Cuddy is supposed to be the inevitable love-interest of Greg House, the title character.  It was so obvious that she was going to get with him, but by the time they got there, we really just didn’t care.  She was annoying, really annoying.  Her voice was annoying, her pathetic attempts to look like she cared about what was going on was annoying, and most of what she did the entire series was bitch about pointless junk.  It got really nerve-grating after a while to listen to her whiny tone of voice ragging on House for things that we all knew he was going to do!  She was never all the interesting to watch, and she never left a lasting impression.  All in all, she was a dean of medicine who seemed to be a part of the wallpaper.

8. Irene Adler
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Now, this incarnation of this character in-particular was so unbelievably annoying.  I have never had any real love for Rachel McAdams.  In this movie, we all found out why.  Not only was she a disgrace to the character that she was meant to portray, but every word that came out of her mouth, along with the pathetic attempts to mess with people just left you feeling like somebody was scratching their nails on a chalkboard.  The character of Irene Adler is supposed to be cool, classy, sexy, smart.  The Adler in this movie sounded like a blonde bimbo who just happened to get lucky in her life.  Nothing about her character ever implied that she had a great deal of intelligence.  Had it not been for Watson saying that she had gotten the better of Holmes, I never would have believed that she would have.  She just seemed to be a whiny hussy who just bitched and got captured a lot.  A disgraceful performance of what is supposed to be a cool character.

7. Asuka Langley Soryu
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Here is another character that I get what they were trying to go for, but the end delivery was just ANNOYING!  She was supposed to play the really gung-ho pilot what was in love with herself, but all that narcissism was just a defense mechanism to hide some really serious self-esteem and mental issues.  She was also supposed to have a love-hate relationship with the main character, Shinji.  On the surface, that all sounds really good.  It all sounds like it would be kind of fun to watch.  But it is the delivery of this character that sinks that boat incredibly fast.  Both the original and the dubbed version are equally annoying.  She whines and bitches about everything.  By the time they finally do decide to develop her, you want to sew her whiny mouth shut and keep hoping that she is going to die.  They did make her compassion towards Shinji look believeable, but that was the only saving grace of a character who was supposed to bring some pretty substantial subjects to the table, and instead brought a prima donna attitude and no substance.

6. Elizabeth Bennet
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Another role where the delivery is not only a million times different than the source material, but it is also killed by the person playing it.  In the novel, Elizabeth is a smart, clever, witty, charming, but still kind of judgmental woman.  In the BBC miniseries, they captured this rather well.  However, in the film, she is as much of a whiny prima donna as Asuka is.  And the performance of Keira Knightley just makes what was supposed to be a character that we all saw as defying societal norms just seem like a whiny little bitch who should just get with the guy so we can all hear her stop talking.  I know people who just love this performance, but what is there to like about it?  Knightley is just so terrible!  She complains, bitches, never seems to do anything of merit, and never shows any sign of being very smart.  She is just another prima donna who we all want to strangle!

5. Relena Peacecraft
Gundam Wing
Here is a character who brought absolutely nothing to the table.  I mean, I guess that maybe she was supposed to be one of the main male lead’s love interest, but all of the interactions that are had with her hinting at there being an attraction are really just blown away by the fact that she is so annoying!  I compare it to Winry Rockbell in Fullmetal Alchemist.  She was a little annoying, but her attraction to Edward Elric was clear, and while they could have stood to develop it more, you got very strong indications that she cared about him, probably even was in love with him.  It added to the story.  Relena, on the other hand, isn’t a whiny prima donna, she is just pouty.  She is always crying about peace.  Peace this, and peace that.  It took away from the greater tragedies that were unfolding in the series when we had to go and listen to her talk about how great peace is, and how bad war is.  She never looks at the greater societal issues, or examines what gets us to fighting, just talks about how fighting never solves anything, which is bullshit.  She could have been erased from the show, and it wouldn’t have been much of a loss.  Peace never got her anywhere but in trouble, only to be another dumbass in distress.

4. Faye Valentine
Cowboy Bebop
Here is a character who I am actually a little torn about.  Granted, she is on this list because she REALLY annoys, but there were times when she actually brought something to the table, and she was kind of cool to watch sometimes.  But she was annoying.  From the moment she gets with the crew of the Bebop, she is a whiny prima donna who does nothing but rob them, then comes back to them later and basically gets not attacks or even having them angry at her.  The crew treats her like an annoying house guest, even when she steals from them, attacks them, vandalizes their property, cheats them out of money, and at one point tries to kill them.  The lack of aggressive response to her actions is just nerve grating, and after a while, you really start to wish some serious death upon her person.  Add to that the fact that she is hardly developed at all.  One could make the same argument about Ed, but she is a teenager.  Not a lot of development is needed, because she is young, and she played her role rather well.  With Faye, she was just an annoyance who helped with the plot every now and again.  I would have blown her brains out, but that’s just me.

3. Willow Rosenberg (early in the series)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Now, I think it is really important to point out that this character became a hell of a lot cooler later in the series, when she got some real power, and some real dilemmas.  But when it started, she was just the nerdy and annoying friend of the annoying title character.  Honestly, I was tempted to put Buffy on here, because she is really a pain in the ass, but the fact is that while Buffy was annoying, she actually served a purpose.  For the first three seasons (well, up until close to the end of the third), all Willow did was get in trouble, and get saved.  She had no skills, no talents, no real use for anything.  For that matter, neither did Xander, but he’s a guy, and we’re talking about the ladies.  You can bet that when I do the male equivalent, he will be on that list.  But for the most part, up until the fourth season, she just kind of got on my nerves.  This show kind of sucked until the third season, when it got a pretty badass villain, and it actually took itself serious.  Joss Whedon had a bad habit of making shows that are great on paper, but the delivery is crap.  He’s a good writer, but a lot of his shows suck.  Go figure.  And annoying characters like Willow didn’t help.  If you want to see the really good parts with her in it, watch when she is evil at the end of the sixth season.  I really wish that had gone more of somewhere, but oh well.

2. Rita Bennett
Dexter
I don’t think that anybody liked this character.  I think Julie Benz is a terrible actress.  She has butchered every single performance that she has ever done, and this one was the worst!  In this series, you get to see why she is such a terrible actress, and why this character is just so awful!  She is manipulative, a complete prima donna, whiny, bitchy, and whenever she doesn’t get her way, she treats everybody (including her own children), like shit.  I get the idea, that she was supposed to be Dexter’s connection with his decency, but he never seemed to particularly care, and the audience hated her.  The best moment in the show was the one where she died!  I remember all my friends and I cheering!  We started drunken song at the death of Rita.  She brought nothing of substance to the series, and the performance was just awful.  Love the show, hate the girl.  It is good that she died.  Ironically, every single aspect got better with her death, even her annoying kids!

And the number one leading lady who just annoying the living shit out of every single person is…

1. Bella Swan
Twilight
I’ve already covered the pathetic, whiny, spineless, and boring character from the books.  Here, I am going to focus on the character in the films.  There has never been in teenage cinema a character more selfish, dependent, uncaring, manipulative, narcissitic, pretentious, stupid, and whiny little bitch before!  The worst part about all of the horrible qualities of her character is that it wasn’t intentional.  They wanted Bella to represent any teenage girl.  But that isn’t what happened.  She’s the real vampire of this series.  She doesn’t have a single problem in the world, yet bitches about how tortured she is.  She gets a crush on a guy, and at 17 decides that she is in love and wants to marry him.  Yes, because we all know exactly what we are supposed to do at 17, right?  Wrong!  When the loser boyfriend Edward dumps her in order to save her, she then manipulates him by putting her life in danger, over and over, just so he’ll notice her.  Manipulative much, bitch?!  She jumps off a cliff to get his attention!  Not only that, but it is a horrible lesson to give to the dimwitted throng of teenage girls who admire this shit.
And when Jacob, a guy who actually seems to care about her and want to take care of her gets involved, she dumps him for the guy who treated her like shit, just so she could use him!  A war starts all because of her, and when all these people are fighting to protect her, she doesn’t care!  She doesn’t give a shit!  And when she finally pressures Edward into marrying her, she then fucks around with Jacob!  And this wasn’t the first time she cheated on her guy with him.  This girl is not only scum, she’s a slut!  What do girls like about her?  She isn’t a hero, she’s a villain.  And she is a horrible lesson to give to teenage girls about what a teen girl is supposed to be.  Mothers, tell your daughters to avoid these films, and the books too, at all costs.  They are fucking dumb!

Until next time, a quote,

“Alice. You’ve disappeared. Like everything else. Now who else can I talk to? I’m lost. When you left, and he left, you took everything with you. But the absence of him is everywhere I look. It’s like a huge hole has been punched through my chest. But In a way, I’m glad. The pain is the only reminder that he was real. That you all were.”  -Bella Swan

Peace out,

Maverick

Top Ten Anti-Heroes

Okay, the fact is that unless a hero has a very prominent dark side, they are BORING!  I hate them, for real, I do.  I hate Superman, I hate Spiderman, I hate most of the X-Men.  I hate almost all the big heroes, save Blade, The Punisher, Elektra (not the Jennifer Garner film version), and others who are not above spilling some blood once and a while.  Anti-heroes are always going to be interesting.  This is a fact.  These are characters who have the makings of a hero, but are unable to reach that status due to some pretty major character flaws.  Here is a list that gives, what I believe, to be the top ten anti-heroes.

Batman10. Batman
Batman: Arkham City
One of the things that always interested me about this character was the fact that Batman always seemed like kind of a thug to me.  Sure, he won’t kill anyone, but he has absolutely no qualms about anything up to that point.  He will totally destroy your body, believing that seeing violence as the first and only solution is correct.  But none of the films or TV series have really acknowledged this, and that always bugged me.  This game, on the other hand, fully acknowledges what this character is.  The Batman of this game sees violence as the first solution and isn’t apologetic when he hurts people unnecessarily.  He will beat up anybody and it even looks like he will Harley Quinn when she is defenseless and on the ground.  They even acknowledge how far he has fallen when he is willing to let all the inmates of Arkham City die to go and rescue his girlfriend from Joker.  To me, this was the best representation of this character, and part of what I love so much is how in the end, he is carrying Joker out of the theater and not the woman he claims to love.  It’s an awesome character, in an awesome game.

9. Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock
There have been a lot of really good versions of this character in a lot of shows and movies.  Robert Downy Jr. played this role very well in the Guy Pierce movie, and probably will again in the new one that is coming out.  However, it is this incarnation that I think deserves a spot on the anti-hero list.  This version of Holmes is played by Benedict Cumberbatch.  It is a modern interpretation of the title character.  He is much more like an anti-hero than the other versions (and I think more on par with the novel character) because while he does good things, he is not motivated by good in the slightest.  He is motivated by the search for a puzzle.  Doing good is just a by-product of his work.  He is not above doing bad things if it gets the job done.  He also seems to not care for the victims of the crimes, and also for the feelings of others.  He only cares about the work.  It is a really interesting character to watch, and remarkably likeable, even though he is also a manipulative and often cold-hearted bastard.

8. Jimmy McNulty
The Wire
Now, while Jimmy McNulty, played by Dominic West, is kind of a bit of a cliche by this point, this series made use of the archetype to its fullest.  McNulty is a detective in Baltimore.  He is a good cop, but has a problem of having little to no respect for authority.  He doesn’t follow the rules whenever it suits him, and while he doesn’t brutalize prisoners, he isn’t above bending and breaking the procedures everywhere else.  But he has a very strong sense of justice.  If one were to look at the scale of what his character is, he would be chaotic good.  To accomplish his sense of justice, he will do whatever it takes, regardless of the consequences.  But where McNulty has good qualities, he also has a lot of bad ones.  He is a hardcore drunk, complete womanizer, and is so out of touch with what the rules actually are that he has a genuine lack of understanding when he does something wrong.  A running gag in the show is people getting pissed at him and McNulty asking, “what the fuck did I do?”  But all of his flaws aside, he is still trying to do good, and is one of many characters who make this show the masterpiece that it is.

7. Spike Spiegel
Cowboy Bebop
I love this show.  This character is what makes it so good to me.  Spike is a interstellar bounty hunter who is trying to run away from his past.  He used to be a member of the a crime syndicate, but left when he was betrayed by the woman he loves.  He now works with a man named Jet, and over time, gets new crew members on their ship, Faye Valentine, Ed, and their dog, Ein.  While Spike seems to not notice Ed especially much, it is shown that he does look out for her.  Faye, on the other hand, is one of the points of contention in the show.  It is hinted that Spike likes her, and that she may do more than like him.  But his is an interesting character.  He has no real concern for his own life, seeing death as just something that is coming.  He actually looks at life as something to be overcome, that death is the ultimate end, and what he seeks most.  He does good things, but at the same time, he is motivated by the need to pay the bills.  Were it not for money being involved, he would likely not care about the problems of others.  He is a tragic character in a tragic show.  Check it out, if you have time.

6. V
V for Vendetta
V is an interesting character.  His is a character who originally started with no goodness to his plan at all, but over time grew to gain some.  The backstory to this character is shrouded in mystery.  He was an ordinary man who was rounded up during the crackdown of the fascist government that rules England, and then given some kind of injection that turned him into a badass killer.  A fire at the institution (arguably caused by him), burned him beyond recognition, but he survived.  Now, many years later, he is back for revenge against those who did this to him.  By chance of fate, he meets a woman named Evey, who unlocks the goodness that he had locked away for so long.  This character is not only badass, but he is cool.  Well-spoken, thoughtful, intelligent, and very dark, his is a character who you grow to like a lot, even though he does do crazy things, and sometimes he even sounds a little nuts.  Check out the film, if you can.

5. Lelouch vi Britannia/Zero
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
I have already talked about this character in great detail in another post, where I compared why I favor Lelouch over the anime character Yagami Light from Death Note, so I won’t say too much here.  Lelouch is a young man who, by sheer chance, comes into possession of a Geass.  This power is different for everybody who has it, and in Lelouch’s case, it allows him to give an order that somebody must absolutely follow, so long as he has eye-contact with them.  What makes his character so much better than Yagami is simply the fact that Lelouch does horrible things, but he has genuine remorse for his actions sometimes, and that is a good thing for a character who does do horrible deeds, and use people in cold ways.  The dual-nature of his life, between the rebellious hero who is trying to destroy an empire, to the loving brother who is trying to look after his sister, is one of the charms of this character.  It is worth checking out, and although I like Death Note more, this character is worth it.

4. Alan Shore
Boston Legal
The Practice (Season 8)
This is a character who I will always adore because of how well he was played.  James Spader plays the brilliant Alan Shore.  He is a lawyer in Boston who not only has little to no regard for the rules, the idea of breaking them and suffering intense consequences appeals to him.  He has a very strict code of justice, but he is most certainly not above doing really awful things to get to that point.  He is a womanizer of the worst kind, and while he has an attraction to older women, he will sleep with younger women to satisfy his insatiable appetite.  His strategy in the court-room is to identify the underlying failing of society that got his client to that point, and use that to sympathetic juries.  He is often victorious.  While he is quite the ladies man, he generally is disliked by the men that he works with.  His lack of tendency to follow the rules puts him at odds with all of his bosses.  But despite his lack of respect for authority, he often gets his goal, and rarely ever feels the hammer come down on him.  All in all, a good character of a show that ended way too fast.

3. Gregory House
House M.D.
Here is a character who I will always love.  A lot of people are saying how his character has gotten kind of stale, but I am not among them.  I think this guy is cool, no matter what he does.  He is a character who can keep charming, regardless of what he is doing.  Played by Hugh Laurie, his is a character a lot like Holmes above.  He does good deeds, helping the sick, but he doesn’t do it because he cares.  He does it to feed his quest to find a puzzle to solve.  He is a brilliant doctor who also has little to no regard for authority.  No amount of authority scares him.  He sees it all as a game.  While most people believe that he not only doesn’t care about his patients, he doesn’t care about anybody else, his best friend, Wilson, knows otherwise.  Part of the reason the two have stayed friends is that Wilson can tell that there is a good man underneath the cold, but he hides it well.  This has been a good show, and I will always be a fan, because of the awesome antics of Greg House.

2. Dexter Morgan
Dexter
Here is a character who is unique among the anti-heroes on this list.  All of the others have goals, and are willing to do extreme things to get there.  Dexter, on the other hand, his goal is to do extreme things.  He is a serial killer, but unlike normal serial killers, he was trained by his adoptive father to channel his need to kill into something less heinous than it otherwise would have been.  He finds and kills killers who have fallen through the cracks of the justice system.  Granted, he does sometimes engineer their falling through, but always with the intention of taking them out himself, and he only does it when he really believes that this killer shouldn’t suffer in jail.  That death should be their inevitable end.  This is a remarkably likeable character, despite his proclivities.  But it isn’t really his killings that are the interesting part.  Not to me, anyway.  Dexter is interesting because he does make genuine attempts to connect with his species, from having a girlfriend, to trying to make friends, to even having a best friend.  But every time he does, his demons destroy the lives of everybody that he comes into contact with.  I think most people can relate to that problem, of trying to find somewhere to belong, even though most of us are not serial killers.  We are able to relate to him as he makes his way through life.

And the number 1 Anti-hero is…!

1. Omar Little
The Wire
It had to be Omar.  Omar really is the personification of what an anti-hero is supposed to be.  He lives completely by his own rules, and doesn’t care at all about what the rest of the world wants, or about the games that the rest of us play every day.  He is a character who lives in the slums of Baltimore, robbing drug dealers.  He has a reputation of shooting those who do not cooperate with him, but while he comes off as a thug, Omar has a very strict code that he lives by.  The first part is that he never swears, ever.  His grandmother raised him and gave him that strict code.  And while he isn’t above blowing somebody’s knee out with a shotgun, he will never raise his weapon onto a person who isn’t “in the game.”  And when people step outside of that code, he does get very upset.  He lives by the law of the old west, where the way of the gun made right.  He regularly walks the street with his shotgun hanging from his side, and he never goes anywhere unarmed.  Given that he has been in the game for some time, he has to always watch his back.  Omar is a very intelligent character.  He can plan and change up plans on a moment’s notice.  He will stalk out the place or person he is after, and make sure he knows everything about them.  This character was incredibly well-written, and if you have a chance, check him out.  Omar is the kind of character that we needed – an old west outlaw in modern times, who lives by the gun, and inevitably dies by the gun.

Anti-heroes are always going to be interesting, and I recommend you check out all of these.  So, what should I do in my next top ten?

Until next time, a quote,

“Don’t get me wrong, I done some dirt, but I ain’t never put my gun on no citizen!”  -Omar Little, The Wire

Peace out,

Maverick

Death of a Main Character: Debate

Well, I decided I would talk about something that is actually a debate among the story-seekers and intellectuals like myself.  You wouldn’t think that something like this would be as huge of an issue as it is, but it actually is a major point of discussion.  This debate has some pretty hidden but very vocal elements.  Of course, most of it is small-talk, but every once and a while there is somebody who is online who continues this conversation.  I am hoping to add my voice to it.  I don’t figure I’ll get much in the way of a response from people, but I will do my best to give my position on a very interesting issue.

A lot of people really hate it in a story where the main character, or one of them, is killed.  It drives most people really nuts and can honestly get people very upset.  There are times when this level of aggression is warranted.  There are other times when it is completely misplaced.  There are times when a story needs the main character who you have often come to love to get killed because there is no other way.  And there are other times when a story couldn’t be told any other way.  Sometimes the story is truly made greater because of the fact that the main character died.  Let me explain.

In Cowboy Bebop, the main character, Spike Spiegel, is looking to die.  He cares very little, if hardly at all, about his own life.  Through the bulk of the series you get to see how he deliberately throws himself into danger.  The more risk an activity has to his life, the more he wants to do it.  He even once admitted that he was looking to die.  Although in the end, he believes that he needs to see if he is still alive, before he is ready to go on living.  It is never really said at the end of the series but it is implied to so heavily that he died that there really can’t be any denying it.  I think Watanabe just left the possibility open so that there would be this kind of debate going on.  When Spike died, it was not in bad taste.  In fact, through his battle, through everything, you came to understand what demons were at work within him, how much pain had gone on in his life.  It is this depth you come to understand which is the reason I like Cowboy Bebop better than Firefly, which is said to be another version of the same concept.

There are several times in a story where the character’s death makes a poignant statement about the character, the world the character lived in, or the world itself.  In the film Glory, the bulk of the main characters (there are going to be a lot of spoilers in here, for those who haven’t already figured this out.  If you see something I bring up and haven’t seen it, please stop reading and watch it, that way you can know what I am talking about) were killed in the attack they mounted on Fort Wagner.  But this was a great catharsis.  This was the first major battle that black soldiers had fought and died in.  A whole unit of African-American soldiers was at the front, ready to die for their country, and for the freedom it promised.  There was a great catharsis with that.

In the animated film Metropolis, when the female lead, Tima, lost her memory, she tried to kill the one she loved.  However, a bullet that was lodged in her heart made it shut down.  She was falling toward the abyss, when the young man she had been trying to kill reached out, desperate to save her life.  He loved her without a bit of hesitation.  As he tried to pull her up, she remembered the conversation they had had some time ago

No, when you’re talking about yourself, you say ‘I,’ that’s how it works.”

When she remembers him saying this, she asks one of the most tragic questions, that brings to light the turmoil in herself –

Who am I?”

She then plummets to the ground below, gone from existence.  It was one of the most powerful scenes in a film, and it brought to light the hopelessness of her existence, and her wish to just be a person, which was the one thing she could never be.  It was a huge catharsis for those who have felt lost and alone.  Granted, she did give up because the nature of her existence was made known to her, and she lost her will to live, but she didn’t ask for what happened to her.  It was, quite literally, how she was created, and the hopeless contradiction of her existence.

But probably my absolute favorite scene of a main character dying making a huge statement was in my favorite film, The Sky Crawlers.  In the film, the ace pilot, Yuichi Kaname, goes off to confront the enemy ace who is renowned on the battlefield for never letting anybody live unless they are very lucky.  He decides to go and challenge him, to validate his existence, and to prove that things can change.  He accepts that he will probably die, but it is the effort that he makes to prove his commander wrong, and to change things for the better.  Of course, his efforts are for naught, and the Teacher makes him pay for trying to kill him.  How the Teacher kills him is brutal in the worst way.  He puts as many round as he can into Yuichi’s plane, as if to scream at him that he is a worm, and deserved what he got.  But he tried to make a difference, and he went like a man.

Of course, there are times when the death of a main character is for nothing, and doesn’t make a great statement, but rather is in bad taste.  Like the death of the main character of the new game, L.A. Noire, Cole Phelps.  He gets killed in a hopelessly anti-climactic way, and what’s more, all that he worked for is for nothing.  The crooked cops and businessmen who he was working to put away go unpunished.  In fact, the worst of the lot of them talks at Cole’s funeral and it is like smashing it with a hammer how pointless his death was.

So death of a main character doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.  Sometimes it is something that was needed.  If you haven’t seen any of the examples I provided above, please do.  They are all great.  Great stories are wonderful, no matter what form they take.  Books, movies, TV shows, video games, if the story is great, it will mean more, because of how much effort went into making it what it is.  Don’t just hate something because the main character died.  That is a bad reason not to like something.

Until next time, a quote,

“Maybe this is the one, the one I won’t come back from.”  -Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop

Peace out,

Maverick