Why are cutesy, adorable, totally not my thing but I can’t stop watching it, anime so much fun to watch?

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Maxed Out My Defense, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level anime

I love anime! It is an art form unto itself. There are some lines that anime crosses (Redo of Healer, for example… and I will never understand the brother/sister love thing) but overall, I can’t stop watching it. My wife doesn’t understand my obsession either (what spouse does) but I feel the same way about her obsession with “90-day Fiancé” so, we’re even.

I usually watch the more intense anime (Attack on Titan, Space Battleship Yamato, DemonSlayer) and love Isekai (transported to another world for those uninitiated) anime (Overlord, Reincarnated as a Slime, Jobless Reincarnation) but lately, I found myself drawn to cute anime. It’s weird, but I like watching it, mostly because they make me laugh… And yet, watching it feels so wrong.

I mean, here are cute, adorable characters put in hilarious situations that just makes me laugh. Their cuteness is almost sickening, and yet, I can’t take my eyes off of it. Take the tale of Maple in Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Maxed Out My Defense… The main character, Maple, is so OP (over-powered for any non-anime watchers) that its hilarious as to what trouble she gets into and how much more powerful she gets to get out of said situation. I mean, in a fantasy VRMMO (Virtual Reality Massively Multi-Player Online), she can transform into a giant monster or super-mech. Its so ridiculous its laughable, and I can’t help but enjoy it.

Another favorite of mine is Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and its just as adorable as it is catchy. I mean, the opening theme song alone is one of those mind-numbing tunes you can’t get out of your head. All of the dragons are so OP that even a simple game of four-square becomes competitive and dangerous (for the humans that is). I love it! In this one, I think its the heart-warming relationship between Miss Kobayashi, Tohru and the others. The dragons (in human form) don’t understand humans but they are learning about them through Kobayashi and her friends. And, for goodness sakes, who wouldn’t want a little dragon like Kanna for a daughter. She is so freakin’ adorable it isn’t funny!

Like I said, I know this is weird and I would probably be labeled a freak (or something worse) in most cultural norms, but it’s a fun addition to have. These anime are even more of an escape than the regular ones. In Attack on Titan or even My Hero Academia, there is a hint of surrealism within the fantasy element that puts you into these life or death situations. Even Sword Art Online, in all its fantasy video game world, make life and death real for the viewer. I dare you watch the death of the Moonlit Cats in Episode 3 (Red-Nosed Reindeer) and not cry even a little. Sachi just breaks your heart.

These cutesy anime are the breath of life, a little fun to escape the harsh reality of the world we live in. The violence, political sniping, racial tensions, and pandemic are swept aside when I watch anime like these. I laugh, and we all need to laugh to make our bad days brighter. Watching anime like these do that for me. The characters are relatable (at times) and yet human. For example, Fafnir in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is this all powerful dragon of darkness, willing to exterminate all human life. And yet, he is content to sit and eat curry (mild) and play video games all day and night with his roommate (Kobayashi’s otaku co-worker). The relationship between the two is a breath of fresh air and fun to watch.

They’re not cutesy, kid anime like Pokemon or Digimon. Even when my own children were small and watched these shows, I never got into them. They don’t have the same appeal to me as the anime today. I think, as my wife likes to remind me, I’m still a “big kid inside” and these anime bring that spirit out in me. She doesn’t like the fact that her husband still watches “cartoons” but this is different. Anime is on a whole other level and I believe I associate with it more, as many people today do. Like I said, to me, anime is an art form and should be appreciated and enjoyed.

So now, I’m waiting patiently for Season 2 of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and in the meantime, I found a new one to watch… an Isekai anime called I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level. I don’t know what it is, maybe the big, floppy witch’s hat, but this anime makes me laugh. I mean, she’s reborn in a new world as an immortal witch and just takes it easy by killing slime monsters for 300 years. Now, she’s so OP that her easy life is now fraught with danger. I love it, it’s freakin’ hilarious!

There are others like Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun, KonoSuba, and How Not to Summon a Demon Lord that are just as idiotic yet hypnotic to watch. Like I said, I don’t know what it is specifically about these anime but I just can’t get enough of them. You should watch them too! They’re good fun, and we all need that once in a while!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His next two fantasy novels, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series are being released in 2021.

Reading light novels brings insight into my favorite anime

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One of my favorite “binge-worthy” anime of late is OVERLORD. It has that smattering of everything I like… fantasy RPG, life in another world, minions at your beckon call, etc. It is a geek’s dream to see how a lovable loner “otaku” works to become the supreme overlord of the new world.

For background, in the year 2126, a Dive Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or DMMORPG called Yggdrasil was released. It stands out among all other DMMORPGs due to its unusually high ability for the player to interact with the game. After an intense 12-year run the game servers are about to be shut down. Within the game exists a guild, Ainz Ooal Gown, once consisting of 41 members and credited as one of the strongest guilds in the game. Now only four of the members remain, the other 37 having quit the game. Of those four, only one, an elder lich character named Momonga, continues to play as the guild leader and maintaining their headquarters, The Great Tomb of Nazarick. He accepts the reality that his friends have their other lives to take care of and decides to stay logged in until the servers shut down on the final night. When the shut-down time arrives, however, Momonga finds that the game hasn’t vanished. Instead it appears as if Yggdrasil has been recreated as its own reality along with its various NPCs having been brought to life while Momonga has been trapped in the form of his game avatar, leaving him unable to use the normal player functions or even to log out. With no other option, Momonga sets out to learn if anyone from the real world is also in this new world with him. Taking on the name of Ainz Ooal Gown, a message to any other players, Momonga begins exploring the world in an attempt to figure out what has happened while searching for anyone or anything that could help him solve this mystery, while ensuring the safety of Nazarick.

Why bring this up? No, it’s not another praise rant for one of my favorite anime series. I started reading the light novel series by Kugane Maruyama and realized that, like movies made from books, there is more to it than they show in the series. The details left out in the anime were made quite clear in the novels. Did you know Albedo has two sisters, both living in Nazarick, and they’re freaky powerful? Or that the Black Dragonlord from the Dragon Kingdom takes the form of a little girl because her lead adventurer is a lolicon? And, the sixth floor of Nazarick has a forest and farmland growing food for the people living in the Great Tomb? It’s amazing how the little details found in the light novels fill in the blanks of the anime. It’s like a “behind the scenes” video before a movie is released.

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It’s amazing the little details you find in these light novels, from personality traits to character interactions. For example, any fan of Overlord knows that Albedo is infatuated with Lord Ainz. In fact, she’s head-over-heels in love with him. In Overlord III, we saw Albedo practically attacked him as she was overcome with lust. What we didn’t see (but what I read) was the fact that Lord Ainz had Albedo confined for insubordination for “jumping his bones” as it were. Then, before a relaxing time in the bath, there was a scene between Ainz and Albedo where she played with him as she tried to seduce him even more. It was amazing to read how these interactions between those two gets even more heated.

When I’m reading Kugane Maruyama’s stories, I hear the dialogue in my head as if I’m watching the anime. That’s just how I write. I hear the words as if I’m watching a movie or TV show. I prefer to let the characters tell the story, not relying on sentences with flowing descriptions and overused adjectives. Kugane provides you just enough in his stories, along with the wonderful illustrations by so-bin, to let you see things in your mind’s eye.

So, the old adage is true… The book is better than the movie (or anime series in this case). That’s why you should always refer to the source material, whether it’s a book, comic book, light novel, manga, or any other written material. It’s the best way to truly understand the stories as they should be told.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

GATE is an anime worthy of a weekend binge for any fantasy geek

Image result for gate anime

Never underestimate an anime series that brings all the right elements together to make it enjoyable, dramatic, and exciting to watch. Gate is such a series. I just finished “binge-watching” this series and it was a blast. It had all the fantasy elements a geek like me enjoys, mixed in with drama, political intrigue, and heart.

The full title is “Gate – Thus the JSDF fought there!” By the way, JSDF stands for the Japan Self-Defense Force, and (as a retired U.S. Navy veteran) I can see that this series was used as a promotional tool for the men and women who serve in the JSDF. It may be a fantasy anime series, but as far as the military is concerned, it demonstrated actual tactics that could be used in even the most outrageous situations. I mean, fighter jets squaring off against a fire dragon to measure its capabilities. Who’d a thought?

The synopsis of Gate is quite simple: “Off-duty Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) officer and otaku, Youji Itami, is on his way to attend a doujin convention in Ginza, Tokyo, when a mysterious portal in the shape of a large gate suddenly appears. From this gate, supernatural creatures and warriors clad in medieval armor emerge, charging through the city, killing and destroying everything in their path. With swift actions, Youji saves as many lives as he can while the rest of the JSDF direct their efforts towards stopping the invasion. Three months after the attack, Youji has been tasked with leading a special recon team, as part of a JSDF task force, that will be sent to the world beyond the gate—now being referred to as the ‘Special Region.’ They must travel into this unknown world in order to learn more about what they are dealing with and attempt to befriend the locals in hopes of creating peaceful ties with the ruling empire. But if they fail, they face the consequence of participating in a devastating war that will engulf both sides of the gate.”

First off, let’s talk about the characters. Itami is the quintessential Japanese male, as he constantly admits that “he works to support his hobbies”… His hobbies being doujinshi (self-published magazines, manga, or novels). With all his quirks, he is a capable leader, smart and with the heart to match. I think that’s why the women of the “Special Region” fall for him. Rory Mercury is a 900-year-old demi-god acolyte of the God of War who gets aroused by battle. A “gothic loli” with incredible power is the most outrageous (and fun) character to watch. Lelei is a human sorceress that combines science from our world with the magic of her world as her “thesis” to become a master of magic. Her calm demeanor is an abstract to the others in this group. Tuka is an elf who lost her entire village to a fire dragon (her emotional breakthrough is a great part of the series). Her story is central, at times, though I think she was rather unused. Finally, Princess Pina Co Lada (yes, that’s her name) is the third princess of the human Empire who wants peace between Japan and the Empire. Also, she loves Japanese Yaoi manga as “art” she calls it.

There are also great characters within Itami’s own squad, all with their own quirks and personalities. I especially loved it when Kuribayashi (a tiny little woman) brutally beat up the crown prince after it was discovered he took Japanese as hostages and abused them. That was poetic justice.

There is a lot of political intrigue within this series, from other countries wanting in on the “Special Region” and the possibilities that exist there, to the political turmoil in Japan itself by sending the JSDF through the Gate. It was funny when a female politician tries to grill Rory as a “little girl” when in fact she was a 900-year old demi-god. It was terrifying when special forces from the U.S., Russia, and China tried to kidnap the girls during a trip to Japan and Rory, with her giant halberd, sliced right through them.

If you ever wondered what it would be like having modern troops invade a medieval fantasy world, look no further than Gate. I myself wrote this into my upcoming third novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, but that was before I watched Gate. My interpretation was different from theirs, but Gate had a unique approach to this cross-connected world. They even went as far as to explain how the gate connected to not only our world, but others as well, leading to the variety of humans and demi-humans that inhabited the “Special Region”. And since the demi-humans range from cat girls to warrior rabbits and other creatures. It’s a menagerie of half-human/half-animal creature beyond the regular orcs, goblins, etc. The best part is watching the otaku (a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills) like Itami and others who fawn over these demi-humans as their fantasies come to life.

But what I really enjoyed in this series was the humanity. The JSDF went out of their way not to be “invaders” but rather they acted in self-defense of their country, their world, and the innocent people of the “Special Region” in the surrounding villages. They used their advanced medical skills and military technology to help the people and demonstrate that they weren’t there to hurt anyone. Itami’s squad was the focal point of this. They even went as far as to help the women of the capital “red light district” with their medical issues.

The villains in this series were equally repulsive and endearing. It was fun to watch them think themselves all-powerful only to be brought down by the JSDF. Here was an empire, similar I think to the might of the Roman Empire, a military machine as powerful as any in this world, attacking an enemy with all they had, only to be brought down in a hail of bullets. I enjoyed watching the crown prince squirm every time he heard a gunshot. It was glorious.

I hope that they make another season of Gate, although I read where the next part in the series (in the light novels) includes Alien-style Xenomorphs. That would be a little too strange, even for me. I read that a script for the next season is in the works, so hopefully one is coming, but let’s stick to the fantasy aspect of this story. There are still a lot of stories to tell with Itami and his “harem” of fantasy girls. that’s every otaku’s dream come true.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.