Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Archers

Tuesday's Top 5

Maybe it is because I’ve recently watched Tsurune but I wanted to come back to this list. There’s been a minor change to the order and the addition of Masaki to the list. Why not Minato? Because he isn’t quite ripe just yet. Give him a few more seasons (assuming the anime gets any more) and he’ll definitely find his place.

Please note: there may be some spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week go to Sailor Mars and Madoka. Also adding in Borgoff Marcus from Vampire Hunter D who dropped out from 5th place.

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Number 5: Miyuki from Red Data Girl

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We see Miyuki training at archery regularly and we know he was trained as a mountain monk. Throughout the series we see him use both the bow and a staff to try to defend Izumiko (though his spiritual power is a little low when not being given a boost by Wamiya). Still, he looks pretty good when drawing his bow.

Number 4: Yona from Akatsuki no Yona

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It would be almost criminal to make this list and not include Yona. She starts out having never been allowed to touch weapons and she spends a lot of time training. Yet all that hard work pays off because she becomes very competent with that bow by the end of the series. This one I particularly like because she didn’t start off an amazing archer but we saw her develop this skill over the course of the series.

Number 3: Masaki from Tsurune

No matter how you look at it, Masaki is gorgeous to look at when he is shooting. So calm and stable. Unlike so many other characters on this list he isn’t shooting to harm or to defend himself. He’s simply embracing the art itself and it is beautiful to watch. As someone who had to recover from target panic, he’s come along way and while he might make some missteps, he is really the coach the boys needed and has done a great job at helping them along. Really hope this gets another season and really hope to see more of Masaki shooting.

Number 2: Tigre from Lord Marksman and Vanadis

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The show is called Lord Marksman so of course there was an archer involved and Tigrevurmud Vorn (no wonder he gets called Tigre) is the main character. In fact, bows are looked down upon as a coward’s weapon and one of not much use early in this series and Tigre faces all kinds of discrimination from the other Lord’s. However, that doesn’t last as Tigre shows time and again what a bow can do in the hand of a competent user. He wins the trust of Eleonora who ends up backing him as he fights to first defend his lands and then his kingdom from invasion.

Number 1: Ishida from Bleach

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It was always going to take something a little bit special to beat Tigre on this list, but Ishida is always going to hold a special place in my heart. My favourite character from Bleach and proving just how cool a bow can be, Ishida well and truly deserves the number one spot on my list. I also love the variations of ‘bow’ Ishida uses throughout the series and it was always interesting seeing how Ishida adapted to different enemies. A far more refined fighting style than Ichigo’s swing the sword and see if it connects approach.

And that’s my list this week but I’ll hand it over to you and ask who your favourite anime archers are.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Friday’s Feature -Actually, I don’t Mind…

When it comes to stories, I like a lot of different types. I definitely have a preference in novels and TV for fantasy and science-fiction, although paranormal romances are certainly starting to fill my shelves in recent years. Whether that is because they are any good or because of the sheer volume of books that fall into that category being published is another story. When it comes to anime, I’ll give almost anything a shot.

I do state a preference for darker anime, action or mystery or drama. Maybe fantasy or science fiction if done well. But I watch romances, comedies, the very occasional sport, slice of life, and more or less anything else. The genre itself doesn’t put me off because I watch anime for the same reason I read books and watch movies. I want a good story or some great characters. If I can get both simultaneously then I’ve hit the jackpot. And failing a good story or great characters, I want something that doesn’t bore me (though that is an entirely subjective judgement on my part).

But when you tell people you’ll try almost anything (even if not for long) they then start asking the obvious question. What about…?

Recently I had a conversation with someone after I mentioned in passing that I’d watched Super Lovers during the Spring season. After the interesting discussion that followed that (regarding BL in general) we began discussing other anime genres that sometimes get dismissed out of hand without really looking at the individual releases. That landed us squarely in harem territory.

If you were to ask me if I like harem anime my answer would probably be, not really. They are predictable and generally the protagonists are dull and surrounded by girls that are either cookie-cutter stereotypes, overly sexualized, or just plain stupid. But that isn’t every single anime that falls into the harem category – and even if it is, that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t genuinely entertaining.

So what are some harem anime that I’ve enjoyed?

  • Boku wa Tomodachi no Sukunai: It’s hilarious. Kodaka has more personality than most protagonists in this genre (though is still passive and clueless) and the girls still fit particular types (and treat each other horribly) but I laughed so hard while watching this and by the end of the second season I really wanted Kodaka to end up with someone.

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  • The Familiar of Zero: So the girls here are pretty much as standard as they come, as is our mostly personality-less protagonist. Why I like this one is because of the fantasy elements and the plot outside of the harem. I really like the story of Louise and her familiar and their trials even if the harem aspects of this show drive me a little crazy.

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  • Chaos;Head: Alright, like is probably not the right word for this one. I enjoyed it and was bemused by it. Frustrated because the storyline didn’t really find itself. Honestly, until someone else pointed out that this had a harem in it I hadn’t even noticed because I was too busy trying to figure out the plot. It’s dark and interesting and the protagonist is actively pathetic at times rather than just the generic every man. I don’t know if that is much of an improvement, but at least it made him stand out.

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  • The Asterisk War: Yeah, our overly nice protagonist is overpowered and apparently irresistible, but I enjoy this anime. I do want them to finally let the two main characters get together and I know they probably won’t because that would ruin the whole harem setting, but I enjoy their relationship and want to see it develop.

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  • Lord Marksman and Vanadis: I did a review of this recently and quite enjoyed this anime. The harem aspects are unnecessary and occasionally distracting, but the storyline is really interesting.

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Okay, I could probably list more harem anime that I disliked, but the point it, I can hardly claim to dislike the whole genre when there are so many that I have enjoyed. I also quite enjoy reverse harem anime but I’m leaving that conversation for another day.

What about you? Is there a genre you avoid like the plague? Do you have a favourite harem anime?

Lord Marksman and Vanadis Series Review

Overview:

Tigrevurmud Vorn (yes that’s his name) is a count in the Kingdom of Brune that is at war with possibly everyone of its neighbours. After the army suffers a resounding defeat, Tigre is taken prisoner by a war maiden and begins building his harem but also starts enlisting allies as he selflessly tries to protect his small part of the kingdom by declaring war on almost everyone else.

Review:

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Sarcasm aside about the heroes motive in this tale of medieval political intrigue (which is not really intriguing because the good guys are either Tigre and the bevy of girls who don’t understand how armour works and the bad guys are all conniving old men or brash moronic men who assume that flailing a sword around somehow makes you invincible) I actually really enjoyed watching this anime. That’s different from thinking this is a particularly good anime as most of my comments below will probably indicate.

The characters in this show are as one dimensional as they come. Tigre wants to protect his land and his people. That is it. Even when the grander scheme of things looks like it might come into focus, the anime and Tigre refuse to shift their focus. All actions and decisions attributed to Tigre stem from this and that leaves him with very little personality. Though unlike other one dimensional heroes in fantasies, at least Tigre responds with anger and frustration at times rather than just always being the nice guy. Tigre isn’t a wimp but he isn’t a braggart either. He has confidence in his abilities but doesn’t overestimate himself. That actually makes him reasonably tolerable even as you wish his world view would expand a bit.

He also, as the title suggests, only fights with a bow.

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Okay, bows and arrows are popular weapons these days and Tigre does have some amazing talent (the kind that only narratives can allow someone to have really). It’s his talent with a bow that gets him taken prisoner by the war maiden instead of killed. It’s what impresses her enough that she ends up lending him her army so he can go defend his land. Probably the coolest moment for Tigre was when he shot three arrows in a row into the same spot on a shield finally penetrating it and causing muscle headed moron number 1 to squeal like a pig (alright not like a pig but it was still pretty funny). We also get lots of shots of Tigre looking serious as he lines up his target.

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So other than generic male lead with single motivation, what is right or wrong with this anime?

Snake bite to breast that Tigre has to ‘treat’.

Need I say more to explain the fan-servicey nature of parts of this show. Not the type of fan service that people who like fan service appreciate. Just the random and intrusive kind that seems wholly unnecessary in what is otherwise a fairly serious narrative. The war maidens prance around in armour that protects almost none of their major organs (hell even a snake managed to get in a fairly lethal strike without being impeded by armour). They straddle Tigre to wake him up, there are bathing scenes, sleep groping, and just for fun a childhood friend who actually runs around in a maids outfit most the time.

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While unnecessary (and rather ineffectual fan service) does not make or break a show on its own, when the show already has a fairly complex plot (which it relegates to the background of Tigre’s personal quest) and a large cast of characters (many of whom look close enough to identical) and the fight sequences have some jarring features that will either endear you to them or make you want to scream in rage, the fan service isn’t an added bonus here.

About those fight sequences… Imagine two armies lining up to face each other and then instead of getting to see what happens you jump to a stylised chess board and a dry narrator explains the basic strategy being employed by the leader while chess pieces jump about and then we cut in to a shot of the actual characters involved for a few moments before narrator takes over again and finalizes the fight. Wait, don’t imagine it. Watch Lord Marksman. This didn’t annoy me as much as some others but it is hard to get used to. What it does enable is for vast battles to be moved through quickly so you don’t have the usual Shonen problem of six episodes of epic battle with no story. What it doesn’t enable is a fluid watching experience. More importantly, the story isn’t riveting enough that we need to take short cuts in the action to get back to it.

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I know, why do I like this show?

For all that Tigre is rather dull he is charming and I quite liked following him around for the short run of this anime. Elen is interesting enough as the war maiden though I kind of wanted to know more about her (and all the war maidens). I also would have liked it if one or two of them hadn’t fallen instantly for Tigre but, whatever. I kind of enjoyed watching Tigre struggle to come up with strategies to help his outnumbered forces win. Even though it seemed inevitable that he would win, the path was not always clear and they seldom won a victory through brute strength.

Mostly, it’s a bit different even while containing a whole bunch of generic archetypes. While that may not have combined into something brilliant, I found this light and easy viewing and it wasn’t overly forgettable.

What did you think of this anime?