Today I thought that I would do something different for #WyrdAndWonder and look at some of my favourite fantasy anime. Now, this list is entirely personal – I know as many people who dislike these as like them, and it only scratches the surface of what anime is out there (there were so many I could have added to this list).
I am going to cheat a little. My top choice will always be Fairy Tail- my love for this anime is all consuming (I have the tattoo, I have watched and rewatched far too many times, and it is one of the few manga that I have read in its entirety). So, I want to mention it here, separate from the top 10 list.
In the mystical land of Fiore, magic exists as an essential part of everyday life. Countless magic guilds lie at the core of all magical activity, and serve as venues for like-minded mages to band together and take on job requests. Among them, Fairy Tail stands out from the rest as a place of strength, spirit, and family.
Lucy Heartfilia is a young mage searching for celestial gate keys, and her dream is to become a full-fledged wizard by joining this famous guild. In her search, she runs into Natsu Dragneel and his partner Happy, who are on a quest to find Natsu’s foster father, the dragon Igneel.
Upon being tricked by a man, Lucy falls under an abduction attempt, only to be saved by Natsu. To her shock, he reveals that he is a member of Fairy Tail and invites her to join them. There, Lucy meets the guild’s strange members, such as the ice wizard Gray Fullbuster and magic swordswoman Erza Scarlet. Together as a family, they battle the forces of evil, help those in need, and gain new friends, all the while enjoying the never-ending adventure that is Fairy Tail.
This is a long series, with over 300 episodes, ovas, two movies and games (with a new one out this summer – is it June yet?). It is not without fault, for all that I love it above all other series – friendship wins over everything, there is fanservice, and some characters don’t get the depth and backstory they deserve (*Cough* Raijinshuu). The music is absolutely fantastic – both the openings/endings – and the soundtrack which is one of my favourite to run too, and I love the characters both main and secondary and I will always try and get people to watch Fairy Tail.
The Top 10 List
1) K Project
“Kings” are individuals who have been bestowed with incredible supernatural powers and granted the ability to recruit others into their clans. Protecting the lives and honor of their clansmen is an integral part of the Kings’ duties. After a video depicting the heinous murder of a Red Clansman spreads virally, the unassuming student Yashiro Isana is accused of homicide. Now, a manhunt is underway for his head, bringing him into contact with the infamous “Black Dog” Kurou Yatogami—a skilled swordsman and martial artist determined to follow the wishes of his late master, the Seventh King.
Meanwhile, the current Red King, Mikoto Suou, faces his own imminent demise as the search for Yashiro narrows. But during Yashiro’s struggle to prove his innocence, a greater conspiracy is unraveling behind the scenes; clouds begin to appear in his memory, and close friends start to question his very existence. What began as a simple murder is now leading towards a full blown war between Kings with the very fate of the world at stake.
Beautiful. Really, that is the only word to describe this series. The animation is stunning, from character, to powers and the environment and even if the characters and story wasn’t gripping, I would watch it for that alone. Thankfully, the story is fantastic – with twists and turns that stretch across both series and the film in the middle, and the manga/light novels too, and there is not a single character that I don’t love – although the HOMRA (red) clan will forever have my heart, as will Yata Misaki.
2) Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu (The Legend of the Legendary Heroes):
“Alpha Stigma” are known to be eyes that can analyze all types of magic. However, they are more infamously known as cursed eyes that can only bring destruction and death to others.
Ryner Lute, a talented mage and also an Alpha Stigma bearer, was once a student of the Roland Empire’s Magician Academy, an elite school dedicated to training magicians for military purposes. However, after many of his classmates died in a war, he makes an oath to make the nation a more orderly and peaceful place, with fellow survivor and best friend, Sion Astal.
Now that Sion is the the king of Roland, he orders Ryner to search for useful relics that will aid the nation. Together with Ferris Eris, a beautiful and highly skilled swordswoman, Ryner goes on a journey to search for relics of legendary heroes from the past, and also uncover the secrets behind his cursed eyes.
This is an older series, and unfortunately it does not seem as though it will ever get a second season which it desperately needs and deserves. It also seems to be a lesser known series for some reason, because it does deserve a lot more love. It has fantastic characters – both good and bad, and so many twists and turns that broke my heart.
3) Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus Bride):
Chise Hatori, a 15-year-old Japanese girl, was sold for five million pounds at an auction to a tall masked gentleman. Abandoned at a young age and ridiculed by her peers for her unconventional behavior, she was ready to give herself to any buyer if it meant having a place to go home to. In chains and on her way to an unknown fate, she hears whispers from robed men along her path, gossiping and complaining that such a buyer got his hands on a rare “Sleigh Beggy.”
Ignoring the murmurs, the mysterious man leads the girl to a study, where he reveals himself to be Elias Ainsworth—a magus. After a brief confrontation and a bit of teleportation magic, the two open their eyes to Elias’ picturesque cottage in rural England. Greeted by fairies and surrounded by weird and wonderful beings upon her arrival, these events mark the beginning of Chise’s story as the apprentice and supposed bride of the ancient magus.
It is very whimsical and there are so many magical creatures some familiar and some not, and there are elements of myths woven throughout the story, without losing sight of the relationship between Chise and Elias. Honestly, this entire anime is beautiful in terms of story, relationships and fantastical elements.
“Mushi”: the most basic forms of life in the world. They exist without any goals or purposes aside from simply “being.” They are beyond the shackles of the words “good” and “evil.” Mushi can exist in countless forms and are capable of mimicking things from the natural world such as plants, diseases, and even phenomena like rainbows.
This is, however, just a vague definition of these entities that inhabit the vibrant world of Mushishi, as to even call them a form of life would be an oversimplification. Detailed information on Mushi is scarce because the majority of humans are unaware of their existence.
So what are Mushi and why do they exist? This is the question that a “Mushishi,” Ginko, ponders constantly. Mushishi are those who research Mushi in hopes of understanding their place in the world’s hierarchy of life.
Ginko chases rumors of occurrences that could be tied to Mushi, all for the sake of finding an answer.
It could, after all, lead to the meaning of life itself.
This is a slower paced anime, that utterly pulls you into this world. Again, it has beautiful animation and Ginko is a fascinating character. This is a world within a world, and an exploration of the two worlds brushing against one another, and it is incredibly emotional in places.
5) Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn)
Princess Yona lives a life of luxury and ease, completely sheltered from the problems of the seemingly peaceful Kingdom of Kouka; however, the sudden murder of the king and betrayal of her beloved cousin Su-won places Yona’s life in mortal peril. Forced to escape only with Son Hak, who is both her childhood friend and bodyguard, the naïve princess soon discovers that Kouka is not the idyllic place she envisioned it to be. Poverty, strife, and corruption run rampant, making reclaiming the throne nothing more than a wishful fantasy given the kingdom’s current state.
Based on the popular manga of the same name by Mizuho Kusanagi, Akatsuki no Yona follows Princess Yona on a coming-of-age adventure as she faces the harsh realities of her kingdom. With only a mysterious legend to guide her, Yona must discover a way to restore Kouka to its former glory while being pursued relentlessly by the forces of the new King of Kouka.
Another series that desperately needs a second season, although I beleive the manga (which is on the tbr list) is futher ahead. Yona is a fantastic MC, and watching as she grows from being a spoiled child to a fierce warrior, still flawed and scared, an needing the people around her is fantastic. Shin-ah (Blue Dragon) is my favourite character and I hope that either in the mange, or future anime (season 2 please) there will be a lot more of him.
6) Donten ni Warau (Laughing Under the Skies)
When swords were outlawed in the eleventh year of the Meiji Era, the mighty samurai population began to dwindle. Those who rejected the ban on blades rebelled, causing violent unrest to erupt throughout the countryside. To combat the rise in criminal activity, an inescapable lake prison was constructed. Three young men, born of the Kumoh line, were given the duty of delivering criminals to their place of confinement—but could there be more to their mission than meets the eye?
Another one that didn’t seem to get as much hype, although I loved it from the very first episode. Again the animation and asethetics of this series are top-notch, and the characters are great – and it is actually one of the antognists that stole my heart for this one, although the three main characters – the Kumoh brothers are fantastically and their relationship shifts and changes throughout the story.
7) Rokka no Yuusha
An ancient legend states that with the revival of the Demon God, six heroes—the Braves of the Six Flowers—will be chosen by the Goddess of Fate, granting them power to rise up against the fiends attempting to turn the world into a living hell. Adlet Mayer, self-proclaimed “Strongest Man in the World,” has arrived at the continent of Piena in hopes of becoming a Brave. Although it doesn’t go as smoothly as he had planned, Adlet is ultimately chosen as one of the six heroes shortly after being greeted by Nashetania Loei Piena Augustra, crown princess and fellow Brave.
Rokka no Yuusha follows the two as they embark upon their destined journey to fight the Demon God, intending to meet up with their fellow heroes at a small temple outside of the Land of the Howling Demons, the fiends’ domain. However, when they finally unite, seven heroes are present, and soon the others begin to suspect Adlet to be a fraud. Now on the run, Adlet must utilize his unique skill set and wit in a fight for his life to identify which member of the group is the true impostor before it’s too late!
Another one that needs a second season! Clearly I fall in love with anime that are determined to make me wait and suffer. The twists and turns, secrets and betrayals in this anime are fantastic, I spent so much of the series believing one thing only to be proven wrong, and I loved it. Each of the characters are very different and well developed, and even with the suspicions and the ultimate betrayal, I loved each one.
8) Re: Creators
Humans have designed countless worlds—each one born from the unique imagination of its creator. Souta Mizushino is a high school student who aspires to be such a creator by writing and illustrating his own light novel. One day, while watching anime for inspiration, he is briefly transported into a fierce fight scene. When he returns to the real world, he realizes something is amiss: the anime’s headstrong heroine, Selesia Yupitilia, has somehow returned with him.
Before long, other fictional characters appear in the world, carrying the hopes and scars of their home. A princely knight, a magical girl, a ruthless brawler, and many others now crowd the streets of Japan. However, the most mysterious one is a woman in full military regalia, dubbed “Gunpuku no Himegimi,” who knows far more than she should about the creators’ world. Despite this, no one knows her true name or the world she is from.
I think this one appeals to me most, becaue I have often wondered what would happen if my characters came off the page (generally I think that would be a bad thing for my health!). Again the animation is beautiful, and there are some fantastic fight scenes and emotional moments.
9) Hai to Gensou no Grimgar
Fear, survival, instinct. Thrown into a foreign land with nothing but hazy memories and the knowledge of their name, they can feel only these three emotions resonating deep within their souls. A group of strangers is given no other choice than to accept the only paying job in this game-like world—the role of a soldier in the Reserve Army—and eliminate anything that threatens the peace in their new world, Grimgar.
When all of the stronger candidates join together, those left behind must create a party together to survive: Manato, a charismatic leader and priest; Haruhiro, a nervous thief; Yume, a cheerful hunter; Shihoru, a shy mage; Mogzo, a kind warrior; and Ranta, a rowdy dark knight. Despite its resemblance to one, this is no game—there are no redos or respawns; it is kill or be killed.
It is now up to this ragtag group of unlikely fighters to survive together in a world where life and death are separated only by a fine line.
This anime is like watching watercolour in motion. This is a slower anime particularly in the first half, so if you want action this is probably not the one for you. It is very DnD-esque, and it shows a believable development of skills – the characters have to work and train in order to power up. I did find I enjoyed it a little less the second time, but it is something that I would certainly recommend highly as a fantasy anime.
10) Kaze no Stigma:
Kazuma Yagami is a user of “Fuujutsu,” the ability to control the wind. He returns to his old home, the noble Kannagi household, after being banished four years ago for his inability to control fire and his subsequent defeat in a duel at the hands of his younger cousin, Ayano Kannagi.
Returning after such a brutal exile already gives rise to many conflicts, but to make matters worse, several Kannagi family members have recently been murdered with Fuujutsu. This leads the Kannagi family, including the hot-headed Ayano, to suspect Kazuma as the culprit. Now, Kazuma must not only clear his name, but also aid the family he shares a mutual hatred with, in order to discover the true identity of the killer.
This is another older one that is generally missed out. I love the magic system in this anime, and how it is focused on someone who didn’t inherit the ‘family’ ability and instead had to find his own power and path where family name means a lot.
Honourable Mentions: Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist), Akagami no Shirayukihime, No.6.
It was hard to list them, so I would say the 1-10 is fairly fluid. But, I enjoyed everyone of these, and they are all anime that I have rewatched and will probably continue to do so (looking at all of those that need a second season!)
If you’ve watched any of these then please feel free to shout at me about them. Or if you have any recommendations for similar series, please shoot them my way.