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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ARTFX J MY HERO ACADEMIA 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: KATSUKI BAKUGO
ARTFX J MY HERO ACADEMIA 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: KATSUKI BAKUGO

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Female Characters with Black Hair in Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

Time to update this list. There are just so many great female characters with black hair that it would be hard for this list to never change.

While not as flashy as certain other colours, there’s something to be said about the beauty of black hair. Below are my top 5 female characters from anime with black hair and I’d love to know your picks. I kind of based the selection on how cool a beauty they were so some of my favourite black haired characters got cut a little bit. 

Please note there are potential spoilers in the descriptions below.

Honourable mentions: Rukia Kuchiki (Bleach) and Ran Mao (Black Butler).

And moving down from number 5 is Yukino Yukinoshita (SNAFU). Sorry Yukino.

 

Number 5: Rory Mercury (GATE)

Do not let the cute costume fool you. This black haired beauty is almost a millennium old and a demi-goddess to boot. You do not want to mess with her even if she isn’t wielding her scythe because she’s another on this list with a dangerously sharp tongue. While Rory has some very fine moments on screen (when she isn’t being used for fan service purposes), her finest hour came when she visited earth and was testifying about the actions the soldiers took on the battlefield.  It was a fantastically delivered speech that left very little room for argument.

Number 4: Mei Misaki (Another)

For someone being shunned by her classmates in a desperate but futile attempt to ward off a death curse, Mei Misaki certainly defines grace under pressure. You almost want to see what she was like at school prior to entering grade 9 just to see whether the girl we meet is who she always was or whether the successive pressures of being in the class, being made invisible, and the death of her sister played a role in creating the cool and quiet Mei we meet.

Number 3: Chuyun (Voice of Fox)

Voice of Fox Episode 10 Chuyun and Hu Li

Chuyun is just gorgeous. As an idol, that’s kind of expected, but even when she’s just at school or hanging out on the roof where she regularly ends up chatting with Hu Li, there’s an elegance about her. While I would have liked more from her character story in Voice of Fox, she was an excellent supporting character, and really, her solo was just phenomenal. 

Number 2: Rei Hino (Sailor Moon)

Rei is an interesting character, mostly because she can switch between cool and sophisticated to middle school brat in the blink of an eye (and usually when in the presence of Serina). Still, in the 1990’s Sailor Moon, she was the cool beauty of the group and the sometime rival for Darien’s attention prior to the whole revelation that he was Tuxedo Mask etc. I’m kind of glad Sailor Moon got an update if for no other reason than it saved Rei from some of those dreadful 1990’s fashion choices (the pink overalls are definitely springing to mind).

Number 1: Yuuko (xxxHolic/Tsubasa Chronicles)

The cool and mysterious dimensional witch and a very intriguing lady, Yuuko can be every bit the lady, or she can drink herself silly while lazing about and still look cool doing it. Don’t expect a straight answer from her and don’t expect a favour without payment, but she does always honour her agreements no matter how hard a bargain she drives. With a fantastic wardrobe full of a wide variety of truly glamorous and unique outfits, Yuuko is my number one pick for a true cool beauty with black hair in anime.

That’s my list done so throwing it over to you. Which lovely ladies have made your list?

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Karandi James
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GATE Series Review

Overview:

This is as straight forward as it comes. A gate opens in Tokyo that leads to a paralell world and an army comes through it attacking the citizens of Tokyo. After much political debate the Japanese Self-Defense Force go through the gate and pretty much have things there own way.

Review:

Two things you need to know before you read my review. One, GATE contains a fairly awesome fire dragon and a whole lot of lesser dragons in it. That means, I’d probably have watched this regardless of any other points. The second thing is even though its a story done to death, I loved Stargate and while this gate only goes to one location the first 12 episodes at least had a very Stargate feel about them.

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This leaves the question of whether or not GATE is any good on its own (and not dragon inflated) merit. To which my answer would be yes and no so I’m going to do a plus/minus review of this one.

Plus +

Its guys with mostly modern weaponry vs armies with swords and arrows. This means there isn’t any particular build up about which army is going to win a fight so the story focusses instead on individuals and their actions and the outcomes within certain battles. Early on we see whole armies getting mowed down and yet one of the leaders involved marched on and finally launched his one arrow into the enemy midst, before getting caught in an explosion. He doesn’t die and comes back later and is very bitter toward the Empire that sent him and his men to their deaths against a force that could not be beaten. It’s these little incidents and outcomes that I quite enjoyed.

gate

Minus –

Itami is the main character but he’s just not very interesting. Initially his lazy attitude and general lack of interest in his work is kind of amusing but the writers quickly forget that his catch-phrase should mean something. He only works to support his hobby. He says this, other characters repeat this, and yet none of his actions reinforce this point. After the first couple of episodes other than a few despondant sighs he just gets on about the business of making every fantasy looking girl fall in love with him while solving every issue that’s encountered. It’s not particularly compelling writing or particularly good characterisation. Itami remains pleasant enough and fulfills his role in the story but that’s about all you can say for him.

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Plus +

This show has the best use ever of Ride of the Valkyries. Okay, that might be an exaggeration but this piece of music gets used way too often and in GATE it works superbly as the helicopters approach the city. Even if everything else in this series fell apart, that scene with that music just nails it.

GATE - Ride.jpg

Minus –

The fantasy girls. Each one (Rory, Tuka and Lelei) start out pretty interesting and then rapidly become just part of Itami’s harem. Lelei fares the best out of the three as she takes on the role of translator and a good part of the second 12 episodes is spent focussed on her as she takes her magic test. Tuka is probably the one who fares the worst overall in terms of characterisation given her mental break-down after the death of her father is dealt with fairly poorly and then she just kind of becomes the blonde-elf in the story. Rory is the one who undergoes the worst character transformation. Admittedly, her entrance was pretty over the top and her character probably wouldn’t have fit in with the group if she hadn’t been toned down but by the end of the second half you are just wondering where that sassy girl who asked that Japanese politician if she were stupid went. That said, the female members of Itami’s squad fare much better. But don’t even get me started on the Princess.

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Plus +

There’s a decent variety of situations faced by Itami and crew. Admittedly, most of them come back to dealing with the antagonism of the Empire but we have them helping refugees, learning to trade, defending a city, rescuing captured prisoners, and quite a bit of politicking. While none of these are really given much depth or drama, they keep the story moving along at a nice pace and prevent the lack of depth from becoming too much of an issue.

gate_5

Minus –

This show doesn’t seem to have an end point with the first 12 episodes just kind of stopping more or less mid-story and then the second 12 just picked up, continued for a bit and then stopped (though at least it felt a bit more like we’d reached a climax of sorts). Admittedly, the only real end end point would be if they either left the world and the gate shut or if they conquered it and neither one is a particularly appealing option.

Plus +

It’s great fun and there’s a dragon in it. A real, fire-breathing, scales like armour, dragon. One of the few actual threats faced by the JSDF.

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Minus –

The second 12 episodes take a turn for the much darker in some of the subject matter (and yet still don’t make the story particularly dark). Essentially, if watching a Prince forcing himself on a bunny girl is going to be an issue, you should just pass on this because they are going to throw this one in your face. And several other events just to prove that the Prince is in fact both a moron and a sadistic psycho. Which is not a great combination.

All and all, I had a great time watching GATE even while freely acknowledging that this is not exactly new territory. The way the series develops (or doesn’t) the charactes is probably my main criticism but I’d happily watch another season of this if one ever existed.

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Karandi James
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