Top 5 Military Focused Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

I’m not the biggest fan of military movies or war focused stories (at least not realistic ones). I find them a little bit depressing to be honest. There are exceptions, usually science fiction or fantasy is enough of a hook (such as Starship Troopers), and I’ve definitely noticed a soft spot for anime that brings in the military (though being told something is military focused isn’t the draw).

Today I’m looking at my favourite military focused anime. Authenticity isn’t a concern. I don’t care whether the ranks and positions are wrong, whether characters would actually be able to behave in certain manners in a real army, or whether the military exists or is part of an entirely fictional setting. I’m just concerned with anime that I really ended up enjoying that had a strong military focus. As such, I’m sure there are many great military anime that aren’t going to get a mention and I’d love to know your favourites so feel free to give them a shout out in the comments below.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mentions this time around go to the entire Gundam Franchise, which I continue to have a love/hate relationship with as the various entries either really grab me and pull me in or I end up abandoning fairly early on, and Heavy Object. Now Heavy Object is an anime in general that doesn’t get enough conversation so I really wanted it on my top 5 list, but the numerous flaws with the show prevented me from putting it above anything on the list. That said, I really liked Heavy Object, a lot more than I expected.

Number 5: Attack On Titan

Now, I won’t deny that season two of Attack on Titan saw my patience wearing thin after a fairly big slow down in the second half of season one. But, the early episodes of season one really grabbed me and while the titan at the wall was a big part of that, so was Eren and crew’s original military training. It is such an integral part of the show and the characters and those early episodes were really good. Season three also picked up a lot of things and part of it is the power structure of the world including where the military fits into that. All and all, while this isn’t one of my favourite of all time anime, the military influence is quite strong and some of the better moments comes when the story focuses on these elements.

Attack on Titan

Number 4: Full Metal Alchemist and Brotherhood

Whether it is FMA or FMA Brotherhood, the military focus of Armestris is pretty clear. Love the uniforms, as impractical as they appear, and a lot of the drama in the show comes from the higher ups withholding information from subordinates. Also, characters are regularly compelled to act against their own nature because being in the military does mean following orders. Both versions of Full Metal Alchemist really do an excellent job of showcasing both the problems of large military organisations as well as the camaraderie and loyalty that can grow between soldiers working for a common cause. All and all, a solid anime with a military focus to sink your teeth into.

Full Metal Alchemist - Military

Number 3: Code Geass

Right, so we’re really moving away from realistic here, but I love Code Geass. The ongoing war, the terrorist tactics, the military responses and escalation of weapons of mass destruction… despite the mechs and the fantastical political scenario so much in terms of the themes and ideas are incredibly relatable but it ends up being over dramatised and becomes pure entertainment. From Lelouche’s flamboyant persona as Zero to the amazing feats Suzaku pulls off, everything about this story is great entertainment, even if a little tragic if linked back to reality.

Code Geass
Okay, I couldn’t find a nice picture of the military uniforms, but the school uniform is pretty military like.

Number 2: GATE

This one had to be on the list. In fact, this was where I started and I felt for sure GATE would end up being number one. Alas, I remembered something better, but for now I’ll just go through why I love GATE. It reminded me a lot of the early Stargate episodes with the military going through to other worlds and Daniel Jackson trying to talk with the populations why they looked for resources and the like. Yet, it had all the crazy anime trapping we’ve come to expect from isekai with elf-girls and magicians, and of course Rory Mercury… Want to see the Japanese military face off against a fire-breathing dragon? Helicopters taking on bandits storming a fortress? GATE was great fun to just strap in and watch.

GATE

Number 1: Full Metal Panic

Lastly, we get to my number one entry on this list. When thinking of military focus of course I thought of the number one military maniac himself, Sousuke Sagara. I absolutely loved Full Metal Panic’s ability to balance a fairly serious military style story with hired mercenaries and various agencies as well as the high school comedy aspects. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense if you stop and think about it, but it absolutely gets the fun factor right and some of the fight sequences and the tactics they come up with are incredibly impressive.

Full Metal Panic

And there you have it, my top 5 military focused anime. As I said, I’d love to know yours so leave me a comment.

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Karandi James
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December OWLS Post – What’s Important Is What You Do After The Miracle

OWLS Post Image

After a few months off I’m happy to get back into OWLS and what better month and topic than December where we look at miracles.

Spoiler warning for Code Geass.

Tis the season where miracles happen. For December’s theme, we will be exploring faith in anime and pop culture. We will discuss some of the miracles that enter a character’s life during their darkest moments. Some of their questions we will explore is how does a “miracle” change a person’s life? How do we define miracles? Can miracles only happen due to a legend or a mystical being? Or do miracles happen every day, but we just don’t see it?

Miracles are awesome when they happen. While media such as movies and TV series tend to exaggerate the response to miraculous events for dramatic events, we live in a world where each and every day we encounter small miracles. Whether it is a chance meeting with someone, the coin that dropped and made you stop rather than step out onto the street, the smile someone gave you when you were feeling down; all of these small miracles carry us day in and day out.

The Princess Bride - Miracle Max and Valerie

However, what we need to take away from stories is that we can’t rely on the miracle happening just because we need it and that even if we get a miracle that isn’t the end of the story. And while I was very tempted to look at Miracle Max’s pill in the Princess Bride – and if you’ve never seen that movie, please go watch it – I decided to stick with anime for this month because I think anime really does capture the spirit that miracles do come in and change people’s lives. Sometimes in a wonderful and welcome manner and sometimes in a way the character can’t appreciate until later. But, these characters can’t just stop just because a miracle has occurred.

Setsuna F Seiei - Child at war - Gundam 00

Starting with Setsuna F Seiei from Gundam 00, his survival as a child in a war torn country was a miracle. That wasn’t the only factor given how hard he worked to stay alive, but ultimately his efforts wouldn’t have been enough. The reason he survived was because at just the right moment a Gundam appeared.

For Setsuna, this defines his life after this point. He has an obsession with not just being a Gundam pilot but being a Gundam. His actual commitment to the cause is questionable, his interactions with his team are fairly disruptive, but he believes entirely in the power of the machine that saved his life as a child.

Setsuna F Seiei and the Gundam - Gundam 00

The problem with this approach is that Setsuna takes a long time to look beyond the Gundam to the people and the cause. These are lesser concerns to him because his whole life has really just been in a holding pattern ever since the day his life was saved. He didn’t think about who sent the Gundam, who piloted it originally, why it chose to intervene in that war at that time. Setsuna simply took the miracle that he was saved and it became to core of his life.

For Setsuna, he never really considered what his life was all about outside of being saved by the Gundam and as a result while he lived quite a bit longer and accomplished quite a lot, he never found what he was really searching for because he just missed so much. The miracle happened when he needed it, but that still didn’t give him the life he could have had. Because the miracle was the starting point and instead of finding out where he could go from there, Setsuna’s life stagnated around that single point until it was pretty much too late to change the course his life was set on. Though, it was good that he met Marina when he did.

Setsuna and Marina - Gundam 00

Setsuna isn’t the only mecha character experiencing a miracle though (actually considering mecha anime are built around technology it is amazing how often miracles feature where machines suddenly go beyond specs and the like). For Setsuna, he welcomed the miracle into his life, however if we turn our attention to Suzaku from Code Geass we can see sometimes ‘miracles’ aren’t exactly welcome even if they are exactly what we need.

Suzaku is a pretty complex character in Code Geass and unfortunately a pretty tragic one. Having killed his father and joined the British army in an attempt to end the war he is pretty much just living in hopes of dying. This doesn’t change as he begins the fight against the mysterious Zero. Yet, despite being Lelouch’s enemy, Lelouch uses his one command on Suzaku to force him to live.

Suzaku being compelled to live - Code Geass

It was a spur of the moment and probably not well thought out command but it has incredible implications on the rest of the story and Suzaku. No matter how close to death he comes, eventually the geass kicks in and he performs some fairly impressive manoeuvres to survive what seem like impossible situations.

But none of this makes Suzaku happy. He’s a character more or less bent on self-destruction and is denied it through his former friend’s command.

Code Geass - The Death of Lelouch

But… The important take-away is that because Suzaku lived despite his best efforts, he eventually found a cause to fight for and to believe in, a role to play, and while I won’t say he absolutely found happiness at the end of so much tragedy, he definitely found purpose. While for Suzaku the geass to live may have been seen as a curse initially, it was exactly the miracle he needed.

This holiday season, it would be nice if we all took a step back and remembered not just to see the miracles, but to think about what we will do after them. Will we use the miracle to grow to new heights or will we wait for another miracle to come and save us again? Will we question why the miracle occurred at all or will we simply assume it was meant to be? And most importantly, will we reach out to someone else when they need a hand and become the miracle they need this season?

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Karandi James
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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Princesses

Tuesday's Top 5

The Princess list turned out to be easier than the anime Prince list. That’s probably because there’s a lot of princesses out there who happily sit as bystanders and then there are the extreme warrior princess tropes that run around. Finding a princess who is an active participant in their story but not a juggernaut of violence is actually fairly challenging. Still, here are my top 5 picks for anime princesses who have that regal Princess air to them (at least at times) but also take an active role in their plot. Bonus points for great outfits and as always I’d love to know what my readers thing.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Teresa (Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love)

Number 5: Princess Hitei (Katanagatari)

hitei.jpg

As the antagonist for a lot of Katanagatari, Princess Hitei didn’t really get to do a lot (and in honesty I’m not entirely sure if she’s a real Princess), but her manipulations and schemes certainly directed a lot of the action within the series. More importantly, when her schemes all came crashing down around her, she proved herself adaptable which is a fairly vital survival trait and one she demonstrated beautifully. Not to mention, her look is crazy but distinct – like most characters from Katanagatari.

Number 4: Chaika (Chaika – Coffin Princess)

Chaika

Alright, I know she’s actually a clone of a Princess and only one of many, but Chaika is awesome. Her magic is a little inconsistent and takes forever to power up, but you have to admit when it works, it is pretty brilliant. And even knowing her whole life is being manipulated, Chaika still manages to find her purpose for moving forward. Kind of have to love her (and her hair clips – those are gorgeous).

Number 3: Princess Serenity (Sailor Moon)

Serenity.jpg

This girl has way too many titles and while the modern day Serena isn’t exactly instilling confidence in her leadership most days, her past life and future self certainly lend her some credibility that even if she isn’t there yet she will be one day. Besides, the girl has saved the world how many times? You have to cut her some slack if she wants to spend her afternoons playing video games when there is no world threatening evil afoot.

Number 2: Yona (Akatsuki no Yona)

yona2

While I still feel Shirayuki was the superior red headed character of these two, technically Shirayuki is not a Princess (marry Zen already), and so Yona takes the number 2 place on this list. I will admit, as much as Yona didn’t impress me when I first saw it, time and a rewatch has definitely made me appreciate her more and now that I’m two volumes into the manga I’m kind of hoping to learn even more about the Princess who lost everything in one night and yet refused to give in.

Number 1: Euphemia li Britannia (Code Geass)

Euphemia.png

Okay, her ending was pretty tragic for everyone involved, as it was supposed to be, but even before the event that made her infamous, Euphemia was a pretty special princess. Despite her lack of combat abilities compared to her siblings, she didn’t just sit on the sidelines. She worked her strengths and found other pathways such as diplomacy to achieve her ends and she almost succeeded at bringing about peace. I’m laying the blame for her untimely end entirely on Lelouch and I’m just saying we lost a very fine Princess.

That’s the end of another list but as always I’ll now turn it over to the comments and ask you who your favourite or top 5 anime Princesses are.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Princes

Tuesday's Top 5

There’s something about growing up on a heavy dose of fairy tales and fantasy that leaves me with this ridiculous urge to still fantasise about the prince riding up on his noble steed and sweeping me off my feet, despite the fact that if common-sense hadn’t knocked that notion out of me, Shrek really should have. And yet, I can’t help but feel my heart do a little skip when we’re introduced to an anime prince who looks like they might be the hero I was holding out for.

With so many princes to choose from it was really hard to narrow down this list so I gave myself a few conditions. Firstly, they had to actually be a prince and not just called a prince (so no Prince of the school on this list). Secondly, no duplicates from the same show. Finally, these princes are in the order in which I personally would like them to come and save me from my mundane life. That said, I’d love to know which prince you’re holding out for.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Mare (DameXPrince Anime Caravan)

Number 5: Prince Endymion (Sailor Moon)

Endymion

While these days I’m not the biggest fan of Tuxedo Mask and even as a kid I thought he talked too much, there was something undeniably cool every time we got to see Prince Endymion. His costume for one was a thousand times better than the Tuxedo Mask persona and he had an actual sword rather than a rose and cane so actually looked combat ready. The real tragedy of course is the limited screen time this character got in the original series.

Number 4: Ling Yao (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood)

Ling Yao.gif

Okay, questionable choices aside, Ling Yao is a character who is literally willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. And while at first it might seem like his goals are pretty self-serving, there’s a lot more at stake than it might at first appear. This guy is driven, talented, and willing to go as far as he needs to succeed. What’s not to like?

Number 3: Bruno Von Glanzreich (The Royal Tutor)

Tutor2

Of the four Princes in the Royal Tutor, Bruno was the one I consistently liked the most, though all of these princes went through some fairly decent character development throughout the course of the series. Bruno may have been awkward and indecisive at times, but deep down he always just wanted to succeed and he worked hard to achieve his goals. I love a hard working yet awkward prince.

Number 2: Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass)

Lelouch.gif

Did I  just say I liked someone awkward? Apparently not, because I’m now jumping to a guy who is literally overflowing with self-confidence. Between you and me, Lelouch would drive me crazy in real life. I’d probably end up slapping his smug face mid-chess game and then work at demolishing him on the board (okay, I don’t like losing either). And yet, there is something undeniably appealing about someone who will take on an entire empire to settle a personal grudge and who ultimately plots his own death in order to save the world. It’s a weird appeal, but it is appealing.

Number 1: Zen Wisteria (Snow White With the Red Hair)

The prince that I think most of us envisioned as kids. The guy who will ride in to save the day but if he can see the situation is under control he’ll just wait patiently until you are done. Sorting most things through words and paperwork but able to draw a sword and go to town when needed, quite literally the fairy tale prince.

I had so much fun writing this list but I’m really looking forward to seeing which princes my readers like. Please let me know your favourite, or your top 5 anime princes in the comments. And next week I’m going to take on my favourite Princesses.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime School Uniforms

Tuesday's Top 5

I’m thinking most of you have never had the misfortune of going to a school in Queensland and wearing what are arguably some of the worst school uniforms in existence. Mostly because most schools go for cheap and affordable with easy substitutions and rather than actually looking in any way respectable, most uniforms end up looking like everyone just decided to throw the same black or maroon shorts on and a polo shirt and off they went (yes there are some schools, particularly private ones, that do in fact have decent uniforms, but they are not the majority). Which probably explains why I became fascinated by school uniforms in anime because they always look totally adorable and like something I would have loved to wear day in day out (maybe if I’d actually been asked to I’d feel differently).

So the end of this long preamble is that here is my list of top 5 anime school uniforms that I would personally have wanted to wear. With that said, I’d love to know which uniforms have caught your eye in anime.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mention: Another

Number 5: Sword Art Online

SAO - Uniforms.jpg

Seriously, look at how cute those uniforms are. Firstly there’s the colour scheme with the fairly dark and plain colour with white accents and gold buttons and emblem. It is fantastic. Not too flashy, but quite flattering to most people. I also love the blue cross pattern on the collar giving it just that little bit extra and the red ties/bows just finish off the look. I know you can’t see it in the image, but Asuna pairs hers with white stockings and black shoes and to be honest looks fabulous. I would have loved this kind of uniform at school.

Number 4: My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia - Uniforms.jpg

Once again I like the reasonably plain grey colour with the green trims and gold buttons. It has the look of a uniform without being too plain and the colour is reasonably suitable for most people. The red tie again makes a nice contrast and I like that Uraraka gets to wear a tie as well and not a bow or ribbon as many female uniforms do. My Hero Academia looks pretty classy with this uniform, but we tend to spend more time watching the kids in their sports uniforms rather than this one.

Number 3: Code Geass

Code Geass - Uniforms.jpg

Okay, if I’m practical and brutally honest, I probably wouldn’t wear this uniform given the short skirt length for the girls, but still, look at how adorable that is. The yellow and green contrast really nicely, the belt gives it some great shaping, and all and all it just looks really adorable. The male uniform is definitely the nicer of the two, though that’s probably just my preference for both the colour and the fact that they are wearing long pants.

Number 2: Vampire Knight – Day Class

Vampire Knight - Uniforms.jpg

Super, super, super cute. While I didn’t love Vampire Knight as a show (certainly enjoyed it and enjoy making fun of it), the uniforms at Cross Academy are to die for (or at least the day class is). The super cute black blazer with white accents, the red bow, the knee socks, everything about this uniform is adorable and there are so many little details to it. A friend of mine cosplayed as Yuki at one point and ordered a costume and the sheer amount of detail on that uniform is just crazy. Absolutely love it and would love it to be a real uniform.

Number 1: Inu X Boku SS

Inu x Boku - Uniform.jpg

While I know for an absolute fact I could never wear this uniform, both because of the short skirt and because I just lack the shape to really pull it off, I totally fell in love with this look when watching the anime. I really relate to Ririchiyo’s character and this uniform is kind of superb. It’s like if there was a fantasy version of me going to a fantasy school, this would be the uniform I’d want that version of me to get to wear. The colour scheme, those shoes, the style, it is absolutely divine and I love it.

Okay, now that I’ve admitted I have no actual taste, what uniforms out there have you fallen in love with?


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Characters with a Tragic Backstory

Tuesday's Top 5

Are there any anime protagonists who have a happy backstory? Because that might be something a bit different given the sheer number of characters who come from a past of misery and despair. Okay, I hadn’t really thought about what I was in for when I started drafting this list and to be honest, it was a bit of a nightmare thinking about whether having your parents burned to death after being sewn together was more tragic than having your entire country torn apart by war and to be honest, those kinds of decisions really can’t be made objectively. This list is definitely based on how emotional I became while watching the characters’ tragedy unfold rather than any kind of definitive measure.

Which anime character has a tragic back story that hit home for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: The entire cast of Angel Beats and Lelouch from Code Geass.


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Number 5: Vash (Trigun)

The guy can’t catch a break in the present with everyone wanting to get the bounty on his head and he’s blamed for so many different disasters. He just wants love and peace. But his current circumstances come directly from the tragedy in his past and while it is pretty much impossible to talk about without spoilers, there’s definitely an evil twin brother involved. Regardless, Vash’s pacifist attitude is almost a protest against the horror that his life has been.

Number 4: Gray (Fairy Tail)

grey-fullbuster

The entire cast of Fairy Tail should probably be on this list as well, though I haven’t really watched far enough along to the know the details of all of them. But fairly early on in the series we have quite the extended arc that delves in Gray’s past and his training by his teacher and to be honest, that was pretty heart breaking. While Gray came out of it better than his fellow student did, there’s still some pretty deep scars and emotional turmoil there. If we think back even further, the reason he was with the teacher was because of the tragedy with his parents so to be honest we’re just kind of lurching from one disaster to the next when we look at Gray’s childhood.


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Number 3: Scar (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood)

Scar.jpg

What is more cliché than tragic backstory? Tragic backstory that leaves a visible scar. Despite making fun of it, Scar’s story is really quite horrific no matter how you want to look at it. As a survivor of a war that was more of an extermination than a fight and as someone who was forced to carry a power he found repulsive, Scar’s general anger towards everything kind of makes sense. Still, the nightmare doesn’t end as he goes out for revenge. It kind of prolongs the misery of this story.

Number 2: Ciel (Black Butler)

Butler

Child with dead parents cliché? But this one is so much better than just that. Set in the Victorian era a conspiracy of monumental proportions brings down the family that serve the Queen and the child, tormented and humiliated, decides that the perfect solution to this is to take them all down even if he has to sell his soul to the demon who becomes known as Sebastian. The real tragedy here is that even if Ciel succeeds at his plan, his young soul is going to be devoured so he has no future. This isn’t just a tragic backstory. This is a living and breathing tragedy.


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Number 1: Yato (Noragami)

noragami2

While we haven’t yet heard all of Yato’s backstory, the pieces the audience have seen don’t exactly paint a great picture. Known as a god of calamity who would take on any wish isn’t exactly something that seems like it would be a pleasant existence. Couple in some real daddy issues with the as yet unseen string puller and Yato’s past is complex and has some fairly far reaching consequences. For those who know the silly facade Yato puts on in the presence, even they can see that there’s some deep pain buried underneath. I’m hoping when we finally get the whole story it manages to match the build up but to be honest, a lot of the time seeing Yato’s past makes me want to bring him home and feed him cookies.

And that’s my list but I’d love to know what would make your list.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Smart Anime Characters

Tuesday's Top 5

Before getting into this list, I will point out that one of the most annoying things in stories than an anime character who the audience is told is smart who then acts like a complete air-head for the entire run-time. I get that some characters are smart in one specific skill and therefore have issues at other things, but some supposedly smart characters just act really dumb. Therefore, my list is focusing on consistency. Characters who are smart and who consistently seem to think through their actions, even if they don’t always draw the right conclusions.

That said, I’d love to know who you would have included on your list of smart anime characters so please leave a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Light (Death Note), Uruhara (Bleach), and Ami (Sailor Moon).


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Number 5: Lelouch (Code Geass)

Lelouche

Realistically I understand the Lelouch made a lot of mistakes. Still, given he was a high school student who was presented with a sudden opportunity to take what he wanted, he actually thought through quite a few things and had a lot more success than he might have if he wasn’t such a quick thinker. Ultimately, for all the mistakes Lelouch made, he found a way back and some of his plans were pretty brilliant. Probably Lelouch’s biggest problem early on was over-confidence but after the end of season 1 he seemed to overcome that and from then on he was pretty good at what he was doing.


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Number 4: Rei (March Comes in Like a Lion)

March43d

Rei is a genius Shogi player. He doesn’t get much about life and what he does get, he overthinks horribly, but considering his age and experience, the boy is pretty smart. Even though he puts himself down all the time and, particularly in season one, he paints himself in a negative light, he’s someone who is managing to live on his own, study his craft, and attempt to finish school mostly on his own. He’s one smart cookie and one who deserves to give himself a bit of praise every now and then for what he has achieved and he shouldn’t worry so much about his failures.

Number 3: Kurisu (Steins;Gate)

Steins - Microphone

I had a hard time deciding between Okabe and Kurisu, but ultimately Kurisu is the more logical and the one more likely to put the hard work in to figure out what makes things tick. Okabe’s more manic approach may stumble upon a success every now and again, but Kurisu is the one who can begin to understand the how and the why and the limitations. Almost all of the adaptations to the phone-microwave as the series went on were because of Kurisu’s testing and meticulous work and so she well and truly deserves her place on this list. That and she managed to not kill Okabe for calling her Christina.


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Number 2: Tatsuya Shiba (The Irregular at Magic High School)

Irregular5

For someone who can’t perform well on the standardised tests of his world, Tatsuya Shiba more than makes up for it everywhere else. Brilliant at magical theory, manipulating magical devices, and generally figuring out ways around his limitations, he’s more or less unstoppable (which would kind of be why so many people throw the overpowered label at him). Be that as it may, he’s a very smart character and one I would not want to be up against in any battle of wits – though that’s probably true of every character on this list.

Number 1: Korosensei (Assassination Classroom)

assassination-classroom

For all that he ended up an experiment that went a bit wrong, Korosensei proves over and over again that he knows his stuff as a teacher. He delivers the curriculum across a range of subjects and also expands the students’ knowledge into a whole range of fields.  If it wasn’t for the whole blow up the world thing, he’d be the perfect teacher and he certainly deserves his place as number one on my list.

And that’s my list but I’d love to know what would make your list.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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