Since we talked about anime a few months back, I’ve been watching a few more that I’d recommend. I’m only a bit into most of the first few—I’m watching several at a time through Netflix, so I’m staggering the discs.
SPOILER WARNING: I’m linking to the Wikipedia articles about these anime and the manga or light novels they’re based on. Sometimes there can be spoilers on these pages with no warnings, so proceed with caution. There are no huge spoilers in my descriptions—everything I mention is mentioned in the descriptions of the anime on the Netflix or Hulu page—but those of you with low spoiler thresholds have been warned.
DN Angel (more, including content/age range info & no spoilers, at Anime News Network)—I’m just starting this one through Netflix and it’s been making me giggle. Daisuke Niwa is a pretty normal 14-year-old kid who turns into a notorious thief when he sees the girl he loves, and he can only turn back when he’s won her love in his thief form. His mom and grandpa as accomplices are hilarious.
Darker than Black (more at ANN)—also just started this one (have only watched the 1st disc so far) and it’s okay. Definitely at least PG-13 for gore in some places–don’t recommend it for kids. The stars have gone out and are replaced by the “stars” of what they call “contractors,” people who have a superpower that is constrained by a habit they hate. So, someone who can manipulate water, for example, might be required to smoke, that kind of thing. I’m still trying to figure out the thread of the plot on this one.
Tactics (more info at Anime News Network)—LOVE this one so far. Also only past the first disc, but it’s really great so far. I would LOVE to see a YA novel focusing on this kind of folklore—Shonen Onmiyouji (ANN), another anime, also features the same kind of concept, a boy/man who can see spirits and banishes them using traditional Japanese methods (which I believe, but I’m not sure, are based on real Shinto practices—someone correct me if I’m wrong). (Nevermind, I will correct myself—if Wikipedia can be believed, Onmyodo was a spiritual practice in and of itself, but influenced by Shintoism as well as other religions.)
Point being: We’ve had plenty of YA books in which teens can see spirits or demons or fairies. But I’d love to see one set in Japan or using these kinds of Japanese folkloric influences. I think it makes a familiar story into something completely different, something fresh and new to a U.S. audience. (As always when I hope for stories like this, do your research and know the culture!)
Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok—halfway through this one. Pretty great so far. Anime News Network’s plot summary: “Loki, the Norse god of mischief, has been exiled to the human world for what was apparently was a bad joke. Along with being exiled, he’s forced to take the form of a child. He’s told the only way he can get back to the world of the gods is if he can collect auras of evil that take over human hearts, and so to do this he runs a detective agency. Loki is soon joined by a human girl named Mayura who is a maniac for mysteries, and she soon helps out in her own way. However, soon other Norse gods begin to appear, and most have the intent to assassinate Loki for reasons unclear.”
Kyo Kara Mao! (ANN’s take on it here)—yet another one I’m not far into but love so far. Another giggle-worthy one. Main character Yuri Shibuya is flushed down a toilet into a parallel world where he is proclaimed the Demon King and accidentally proposes marriage to another guy by slapping him on the face for insulting his mother. Hilarious to watch him try to navigate a culture so different from his own (which is what parallel-world fantasy is all about, though it’s not always supposed to be funny). The more serious plot arcs are great, too—Yuri has no idea what he’s doing as a king, and he tries to avoid war between demon and human kingdoms, which baffles a lot of people.
M0onPhase (ANN link)—A hilariously different take on a vampire story. I love the relationship between Kouhei and Hazuki. And the opening sequence is hilarious. I’m only about halfway through this one on Hulu—I discovered it over the holiday break and haven’t had time to go back to it. (Reading subs makes it harder to do other things while watching. I love listening to the Japanese inflections, but listening to dubs (even bad ones) makes it easier for me to accomplish other things at the same time.)
I really wish there were a second season of Ghost Hunt available (this one’s on Hulu, as well). From what I can tell, it was written by the same woman who wrote Twelve Kingdoms, which might be why I like it so much.