10 FAVORITE ANIME & MANGA
CRITERIA FOR PICKING AN ANIME/MANGA: Was there a good mix of seriousness, comedy, and plot?  How easy were the world & characters to manipulate?  Were there possibilities of romance that I could latch onto?  Were there any significant characters that held my interest?  Better yet, were there several?  Does the show touch on any of my major dislikes? 

1

SLAYERS
3 tv series
OVA
movie
manga
books/novels

"Welcome to a world where magic reigns and monsters lurk behind every corner. Into this land of deadly dragons and menacing magicians comes our heroine ? Lina Inverse, a cute, fireball-throwing sorceress who steals from the wicked and gives to herself! Along with Gourry, a handsome but dumb-as-a-rock swordsman, Lina challenges the forces of not-so-goodness as she seeks truth, justice, fame and gold!"

I came across this series early in my career of anime adoration. The more I saw of other anime, though, the more Slayers was raised in my esteem. The series gave me exactly what I wanted - flexibility, cool characters, a neat plot, humor, and a touch of angst. To top it off, the main character, Lina, is a wonderful female protagonist that I have yet to find the equal of.

     
2

NARUTO
manga
tv series
movies

Naruto lives in a village of ninjas and wants to become the best and most respected ninja in the village, the Hokage! ...Too bad the villagers hate him, and no one seems to respect him. Watch his trials and tribulations as he joins a team, consisting of the #1 rookie, Sasuke, his crush, Sakura, and his deceptively powerful teacher, Kakashi. Will he earn the respect of his village, and more importantly, his teammates?

Ah, the evilness that is the series of Naruto... Naruto is a great main character that grows on you over time, and the series is full of tons of cool characters that you learn to adore. The setting is fun and flexible. On a moment's notice, it can switch from side-splitting humor to tear jerking angst. There truly is a character for everyone in this series.

     
3

YUGIOH
tv series
manga
movies

"Invisible in the back of the class, 10th-grade loner Yugi always had his head in some game - until he solved the Millennium Puzzle, an Egyptian artifact containing the spirit of a master gambler from the age of the pharaohs!"

Okay... I have to say, I've only seen about 5 minutes of the English TV version of Yugioh.  (Thankfully)  I became addicted to the Japanese anime and the manga (translated into English).  Yugi and friends are put in plenty of do-or-die situations (sometimes literally), and there are lots of cool characters to choose from.  So despite the hype for Yugioh in America, I have to admit I like the series a lot. ^_^

     
4

GOKUSEN
tv series (anime)
tv series (live-action)
manga

Yamaguchi Kumiko's first job as a teacher is at a high school with a questionable reputation and scary students. Then she's given the class of the worst troublemakers! How will she survive? ...Except Kumiko, dubbed "Yankumi" by her students, in fact grew up the granddaughter of a famous and powerful yakuza group. With the help of the leader of her class' students, the handsome and intelligent Shin, she slowly starts to get to know them and earn their trust and loyalty.

I got into Gokusen slowly. I saw the anime, and wasn't particularly hooked after just that, but I did find it cute and interesting. Yankumi was a unique teacher, and I loved her relationship with Shin. Then I discovered a live action version, which while a little different from the manga, was thoroughly cute and addictive. By the time I was done with the anime & live action, I was ready to cut off my foot to find the manga. My interest has only grown over time, not waned, and I find myself going back to the series again and again.

     
5

RANMA 1/2
manga
tv series
OVA
movies

"The story of a boy who turns into a girl, a father who turns into a panda, and the weird Chinese curse what did it to 'em."

Ranma 1/2 is wacky, fun, and great entertainment right before bed. I'll never get nightmares from this series. I love that the series is so flexible - as long as it involves humor, you can do just about anything to the characters. Even better, the story arcs are small enough to allow me to finish several right before bed, and I'll still get to sleep on time. ...Yeah, the series is the equivalent of comfort food.

     
6

LAST EXILE
tv series

"Claus and Lavie are a young heroic air pilot duo, whose assignment to make a special human delivery fails. Before they know it, they become entangled in an aerial adventure between two countries gripped in an eternal war of magnificent air battleships, noble generals, and a mysterious war-mediating Guild."

A true, quality series that doesn't end with the destruction of either the world or the main characters, but keeps you gripped on every single episode asking, "What's going to happen next?!" The characters are wonderful and the plot is addictive. It's one of the few anime I've watched that assumes the viewer is intelligent. The plot is never fully explained - it is left to the viewer to keep track of what is going on and put all the pieces in the right places. A 25 minute show took 2 hours to thoroughly go over and rip apart for details while discussing it with ChiByakko.

     
7

SPIRITED AWAY
movie

"While on holiday with her parents, a young girl named Chihiro accidentally stumbles into an enchanted village where ancient Japanese demons go for rest and relaxation. After her parents are unfortunately transformed into enormous pigs, Chihiro is forced to take a job as a cleaning girl in a devil-filled onsen (Japanese bath house), where she contends with eight-legged spider-men, gorgeous sky-dragons and a silent, love-struck wraith."

I fell in love with Spirited Away in the theatres, and saw it many, many times with my mother. I loved all the characters, the innocence and trust that Chihiro displays with everything she does, and the overall feel of the movie. It was a trip through wonderland..

     
8

HIKARU NO GO
manga
tv series

One day in Hikaru's grandfather's attic, while looking for things to sell, Hikaru stumbles across a Go board with drops of blood on it. From that moment on, he's haunted by a Go loving ghost named Sai, who teaches him to love the game of Go. Set over the span of years, Hikaru slowly makes his way in the Go world.

It's amazing how addictive a manga about Go can be... But Hikaru's struggles to understand and get better in Go have you drooling for more. Interestingly, Hikaru is one of the few shounen heroes I know who loses important games - it's one of the few manga where you can't guarantee how every "fight" will turn out, which keeps you breathlessly waiting for the end. Along with her beautiful art style and her wonderful, quirky characters, the reader is held riveted

     

9

VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE
tv series
movie

"Kanzaki Hitomi is a typical high school girl, with typical problems, but when a vision of a young man battling a dragon becomes a reality, her life changes forever.

"Drawn into a strange vortex with the swordsman, Van, Hitomi is thrust into the strange world of Gaea. Van must learn to master the suit of armor, Escaflowne, before he and Hitomi are crushed by the ambitions of the Empire of Zaibach."

Escaflowne took the typical plot of an average girl being pulled into another world and gave it wings... literally. The plot moves along at a fast clip, insuring that there are no useless filler episodes to break the pace. It's a fast ride from beginning to end, and you can't let go till the credits finally roll on the last episode.

     
10

PLEASE SAVE MY EARTH
OVA
manga

"Could a strange recurring dream of being part of a team of alien scientists on the moon truly be real? Sensitive Japanese high school student Alice Sakaguchi doesn't really believe that, of course... until, one night, when she dreams the same dream! Now, even her eight-year-old neighbor is acting strange. Is history really doomed to repeat itself, even when that history carries over from a previous life...?"

I fell in love with this series. First came the DVD, which was a wonderful introduction. Next came finding the manga. It was only available in Japanese at the time, which I couldn't read, but I got it anyway. There were enough translations up - especially of the end - for me to fall completely, helplessly in love with it.


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Ashvolt's Anime & Manga, aka ashvolt.com opened on August 13, 2000.
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