Beijing’s Picks: Anime and Manga Edition

Anime is a medium of story telling that holds a wide range of content.  Ranging from cute romances filled with fluff, to absolutely horrifying tales of death and despair, there is really something for everyone.  Being an advid fan of anime and manga for many years, I would like to say that I have seen my fair share of animes and mangas.  In that sea of madness, I have found a couple of gems that I would like to share.

Here I will presenting to you my top three favorite animes/mangas.

I have had the pleasure to have these wonderful stories enter into my life and touch my life in an unimaginable way.  As I have stated in my blog post “Mainstream Animes: Why I Don’t Watch Them”, I put a lot of weight on what I personally can take away from an anime or manga after I experience it.  To me, the true mark of an amazing story is how the viewer feels after they experience the story and overall, if they learn something from the story.  All of the amazing stories I will be sharing with you are memorable stories that I believe, truly changed my life for the better.

However, be warned, spoilers lie ahead, so proceed with the upmost caution.  That being said, I hope you enjoy this list!

3) Nanatsu no Taizai/The Seven Deadly Sins


This is an anime/manga that I have already addressed in my previous blog post, “Mainstream Animes: Why I Don’t Watch Them”, and there I stated that this is the only Shounen anime/manga that I have watched and enjoyed.  Why exactly?  Well the simple answer is because of how well each and every character is crafted.

I do admit that the anime was rather… subpar in the way that it was ended with so many loose ends — thankfully a second season is being released soon.  However, the manga is honestly one of the best things I have ever read.  Here, I will focus on the manga.

Nakaba-sensei does an amazing job of revealing the backstories and motives behind all of his characters.  Every character — even the seemingly insignificant ones — holds a heart wrenching backstory.  You can tell that everything has been put into all of the characters.  I find myself ridiculously attached to all the characters, and this includes the antagonists.  There are no “throw-away” characters that just are there to be there, and all of them have their own distinct personality.  The personalities of each character are consistent and defined while still being layered and deep.

2) Puella Magi Madoka Magica


This anime.  I could honestly go on about it forever.  If you have been in the anime community for at least a decent amount of time, you have probably heard of this anime.  Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the most well known dark magical girl anime and is the one that all other dark magical girl animes are — sadly — compared to.  This anime is also one that has a rather bad reputation for being “overrated”.  I do agree that this anime is not perfect, but what anime is?  However, I have a more… personal reason for liking this anime so much.

Madoka Magica was the anime that I believe saved my life, if I am being totally honest.  At the time that I watched Madoka Magica I was going through a very hard time in my life to say the least.  However, as I watched this anime and saw all the tragedy and pain these girls went through, I began to think.  I thought about the messages and underlying themes behind this anime and even to this day, I still turn to those lessons when in hard times.  There are several things that I learned from this anime, but I think the most important one is about moving forward.

You probably thought I was going to say hope, right?  After all, the message of hope is the most prominent one that this anime tells, and even in my takeaway, hope is a big part of my main one.  However, for me, I was going through a time of intense self-pity and self-loathing.  I honestly despised myself and my life, and I was always dwelling on the past.  As I saw Homura, one of the main characters, continuously try to go back and change the past, only to make it worse, I saw a lot of myself.  Homura almost fell into despair because of her constant efforts to change the past, and that was honestly the big slap to the face that I needed at the time.  It took forever, but it finally clicked in my mind that if I choose to dwell on the past and try to change it instead of moving forwards, I will always remain in a state of self-pity and self-loathing until I eventually fall into despair.  After that, I feel like I have become a more optimistic and generally happy person, and this anime was what caused that change.

See, anime is not useless!

1) Akatsuki no Yona/Yona of the Dawn


This is the anime that I hold almost anything and everything to as a standard.  The manga is the holy grail in my eyes and Mizuho-sensei is a goddess.  Everything from art style, the romance, the characters, the plot, the action scenes, just everything is incredible.  It is, of course, with it’s faults, but this manga, is just the best thing I have ever seen.  I can honestly go on and write an entire article about all the characters in this anime, but I’ll try to make this brief.  I’ll only discuss two characters; these two being the two major reasons for my complete and adoration of this manga.

Let’s just start off with Yona, the heroine.  Yona is my favorite female character of all time; no exceptions.  The way that she has developed so much from a selfish and bratty princess and into a strong, kind, and brave warrior is astonishing.  Her character developement is the best that I have ever seen, and the pacing of her developement is well done.  It doesn’t happen over night; it takes time for her to move forward after the death of her father and to become strong, and it takes even more time for her to get over her feelings for her long time childhood crush that completely betrayed her.  Yona is amazing and a very independent and capable young woman that I look up to a lot.

Furthermore, I am completely head over heels for the main antagonist of this story, Soo-won.  Yes, I said antagonist.  In this artfully written story the main antagonist is Yona’s childhood friend, cousin, and previous crush who kills her father in order to take the throne and as revenge for him supposedly killing his father.  However, there is much more to Soo-won than what meets the eye.  Soo-won is probably the most dynamic and layered character I have ever seen.  He benevolent, logical, a person who puts his people first, thoughtful, shy, cheerful, nice, brave, and above all else, a person that is both capable and willing to put his own emotions aside for the greater good.

What is especially interesting to me about this manga is that the protagonist and the antagonist have the same goal; to better the Kingdom of Kouka.  However, while Yona leads with her heart, Soo-won leads with his mind, and the constant push and pull between these two dynamic characters is absolutely beautiful and completely enthralling.

Anime and manga have a lot to share with us and as the loyal fans we are, these many stories will forever touch our lives in unimaginable ways.  I honestly encourage you to think about all of these lovely stories and to allow them to touch your lives as well, because stories are the most important thing we have in this world.

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