List: My Favorite Fantasy Anime

Well, for this list, I’m moving away from the animal theme. This time around, I’ll be taking a look at five of my favorite fantasy anime. However, rather than being a Top 5 list, this list will be presented in alphabetical order.

Log Horizon

While the main thrust of this series focuses on characters suddenly finding themselves inside the world of a game, the game in question happens to be in the fantasy genre. The writing of this series really captures the feel and essence of fantasy storytelling. One of the things that really attracted me to this series is seeing how our characters from the real world adapt to the fantastical elements that they find themselves having to rely on in order to make it through the world of the game; over the course of the series we see magic potions, magic spells, griffons, and other elements traditionally associated with the fantasy genre.

But this series’ ultimate strength is in its characters, and their relationships. The writing and story were also strong, and I was always left wanting more at the end of each episode. I also have to give the series some credit for including gaming elements with explanations that don’t bog down the story terribly much. The only drawback is the fact that second season of the series still had a lot of loose ends left. There was obviously an attempt to leave the door open for a future season, which still hasn’t materialized yet. But even with this drawback, I still enjoy Log Horizon for its storytelling and its fantastical elements.

The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins is set in a medieval style world, specifically in a region known as Britannia. The Seven Deadly Sins is a band of knights that disbanded after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Liones Kingdom. Ten years have passed since the disbanding of the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Holy Knights have staged a coup, captured the king, and are now tyrannical rulers of the kingdom. Elizabeth, the third princess, embarks on a journey to find the Seven Deadly Sins so she can ask for their help to take back the kingdom.

Right from the description, you can tell that this a fantasy series: royalty, knights, and a medieval style world. But it’s not a simple story being presented here; it’s got compelling storytelling with twists, turns, and surprises that keep the audience interested in what’s going to happen next. This fantasy series also has characters who the audience becomes interested in from the time they’re introduced, but many of them have character development moments that make the audience care about them even more. And the animation in this series really captures the look and feel of a medieval world.

As of this writing, I have seen both The Seven Deadly Sins and The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War. And with the relatively recent announcement of another season of the anime, as well as an anime film, coming out in 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen to the characters and to the fantasy world that they inhabit.

Slayers

Slayers features a 16-year-old sorceress named Lina Inverse, who loves money, treasure, and food, and uses her magic in a reckless, yet comedic manner. She is accompanied on her adventures by Gourry Gabriev, a wandering swordsman with a powerful sword. Unfortunately, Gourry isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Their party also includes Princess Amelia, a character named Zelgadis who is a mixture of human and demon, and Gourry’s friend Sylphiel.

Of the five anime that I included on this list, Slayers is definitely the most comical. Our sorceress heroine has a ridiculously powerful spell that she seems to keep forgetting just how powerful it is, Princess Amelia is a self-proclaimed Lady of Justice, and Gourry the swordsman is a brave, yet dumb, knight. But to me, the charm of this series is the fact that it’s a fantasy series that takes its tropes and exaggerates them for comic effect. While the other series I included in this list have occasional humor in them, Slayers is meant to be a comedy through and through.

Snow White with the Red Hair

The protagonist of this series is Shirayuki, a red-haired herbalist in a small medieval village. She becomes the target of Prince Raj, due to the fact that her red hair is very unusual in the world that they inhabit, and he wants to make her his concubine. Shirayuki is rightly offended and runs away. When she enters the neighboring kingdom of Clarines, she encounters Prince Zen. The two of them forge a friendship that blossoms into something more as the series continues. After Zen saves Shirayuki from Raj, she stays in Clarines and works at becoming an apprentice court herbalist.

The first thing that grabbed me about Snow White with the Red Hair was the animation, especially the lush backgrounds. The next thing that attracted me to this series was Shirayuki. I love how much agency she has. While she’s sweet, helpful, and beautiful, she’s not going to let people with sexist ideas push her around. She’s also very independent. Yes, Shirayuki ultimately finds herself dealing with potential romance, but this part of the story doesn’t dull her as a character as much as it could have.

The writing for Snow White with the Red Hair also helps to make it one of my favorite series. The characters are relatable and go through some development over the course of the series, and the story progresses in a logical way.


The World is Still Beautiful

The main character is a girl named Nike, who is the fourth sovereign daughter of the Rain Dukedom and has the power to call forth the rain. The Sun King, the ruler of the Sun Kingdom, sends a message to Nike’s father saying that he won’t invade their land if he offers the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. Nike ends up being the one chosen to become the Sun King’s bride because she loses a game of rock-paper-scissors. When she meets the Sun King, she learns he is named Livius and that he is younger than her. At first, they don’t like each other, but as they get to know each other, their feelings change. Of course, there are various obstacles that get in the way of their budding relationship.

Much like Shirayuki in Snow White with the Red Hair, Nike is another female character with agency. However, their stories are very different. The World is Still Beautiful utilizes its fantasy setting and elements effectively, and it combines these elements with strong storytelling. There were one or two spots where the story kind of stumbles a little, but for the most part, the episodes were well written.

Anime Spotlight: Snow White with the Red Hair Second Season

Snow White with the Red Hair Second Season is a continuation of the anime adaptation of the Snow White with the Red Hair manga. The series is animated by BONES and directed by Masahiro Ando. Snow White with the Red Hair Second Season aired on Japanese television from January 11-March 28, 2016. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American distribution license for Snow White with the Red Hair Second Season.

The second season of Snow White with the Red Hair opens with Mihaya reappearing, bearing news that a mysterious boy named Kazuki is out to kidnap Shirayaki. On top of this, Prince Izana informs Shirayuki that she is invited to a ball in her home country of Tanbarun and he forces her to attend. By returning to Tanbarun, Shirayuki must be around Prince Raj, which is rather awkward. But Shirayuki makes it her goal to try to find a way to improve her relationship with him. But as Shirayuki is making progress on her goal, she is kidnapped. Zen and Raj must team together to try to rescue her. A little over half of the season is focused on this story arc, and by the end of it, Shirayuki learns something amazing in the midst of all of the awkwardness and confusion.

After an episode that provides a small bit of backstory for Obi, the remainder of the season focuses on trying to figure out the future of Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship.

I admit that when the story arc with Prince Raj first started, I was a little annoyed about having to see him again. However, the arc was very well done, and it tied up the loose end of the awkwardness of Raj and Shirayuki being around each other. Also, this provided some very needed character advancement for Raj, which helped to make him a more tolerable character than he had been in the first season. And it turns out that Raj plays an important role in the direction that Shirayuki and Zen’s relationship takes at the end of the final episode.

The episode that provided some backstory for Obi was also nice to see. While it may not have provided much backstory, it was just enough to better understand him as a character. Speaking of Obi, it was interesting to notice that after several hints seemed to be dropped during the first season that he had feelings for Shirayuki, that basically disappeared after the second season’s first story arc. In the end, I think this was a good thing, especially since hints were getting dropped that perhaps Raj was becoming interested in Shirayuki while they spent time together in Tanbarun. I prefer Obi having a role as a friend and ally to Shirayuki who’s willing to help her out.

The final three episodes sees Shirayuki having a couple of life-changing events happen to her, as well as trying to figure out how she feels about Zen and if their relationship can ever have a future. But throughout the series, even in her moments of doubt, Shirayuki still displayed the agency that I appreciated seeing during the first season of the series.

The second season of Snow White with the Red Hair was the perfect continuation of the first season. Many loose ends were tied up by the end of it, and at least a couple of characters made great strides in their progression. The series ended pretty much as I expected it to, although there’s enough wiggle room for fanfiction writers to have a field day about how they would progress the story from the anime’s ending point. And the way the final episode was done, it was made very clear that it was the final episode of the anime.

Viewers who watched and enjoyed the first season of Snow White with the Red Hair won’t be disappointed by what happens in the second season of the series.

English Cast for Snow White with the Red Hair

FUNimation Entertainment has announced the English dub cast for Snow White with the Red Hair.

The cast includes:

  • Brina Palencia is Shirayuki
  • Josh Grelle is Zen Wisteria
  • Todd Haberkorn is Prince Raj
  • Ian Sinclair is Mitsuhide
  • Jamie Marchi is Kiki
  • Austin Tindle is Obi
  • Rachel Robinson is Garak
  • Mikaela Krantz is Ryu
  • Eric Vale is Izana Wisteria
  • Christopher R. Sabat is Lord Haruka
  • Robert McCollum is Sakaki
  • Micah Solusod is Atri
  • Bryn Apprill is Kihal Toghrul
  • Duncan Brannan is Lord Brecker

The dub is being directed by Cris George.

The first three dubbed episodes are now available on FUNimation’s website. The rest of the dubbed episodes will be available on the following schedule:

  • Episodes 4-6 – Friday, January 8, 2016
  • Episodes 7-9 – Friday, January 15, 2016
  • Episodes 10-13 – Friday, January 22, 2016

FUNimation will also stream the second season of Snow White with the Red Hair beginning on January 12, 2016, and will then offer an English broadcast dub for the second season beginning on February 16, 2016.

Source: ANN

New Cast Members Announced for the Second Season of Snow White with the Red Hair

The January 2016 issue of Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine has revealed the new cast and characters for the upcoming second season of Snow White with the Red Hair:

  • Sachi Kokuryu is Kazuki, a mysterious man searching for Shirayuki
  • Shintarō Asanuma is Itoya, a silent man who travels with Kazuki
  • Mikako Komatsu is Eugena, the second prince of the Tanbarun Kingdom
  • Inori Minase is Rona, the princess of the Tanbarun Kingdom

The new season will premiere in January 2016.

Source: ANN

Anime Spotlight: Snow White with the Red Hair

Snow White with the Red Hair is based on a manga by Sorata Akizuki. The series is animated by BONES and directed by Masahiro Ando. Snow White with the Red Hair aired on Japanese television from July 6-September 21, 2015. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American license for Snow White with the Red Hair.

Shirayuki, an herbalist in a small medieval village, becomes the target of Prince Raj. The prince wants her to become his concubine because of her unusual red hair. Shirayuki is rightfully offended by this, so she decides she’s going to run away. Shirayuki’s not entirely happy about the color of her hair because of all the attention it gets her, since people like to gawk at it and bring attention to it. She cuts off some of her hair and leaves it behind, then crosses the border into the neighboring kingdom of Clarines.

As she wanders, Shirayuki comes across a fancy house, but no one is home when she knocks. She falls asleep outside, and when she wakes up the next morning, she sees a boy about her age jumping over a nearby wall. He’s so distracted when he sees her that he trips and injures himself. After some convincing, Shirayuki and Zen become friends. It’s soon revealed that Zen is a prince of Clarines, who is often accompanied by his retainers, Mitsuhide and Kiki. But Zen sees both Mitsuhide and Kiki as friends in addition to his attendants.

When Prince Raj forces Shirayuki to return to their kingdom, Zen saves her and makes it clear to Raj that he needs to leave her alone. Shirayuki moves to Clarines, and she works at becoming an apprentice court herbalist.

Unfortunately, there are those in Clarines who object to Zen’s friendship with Shirayuki. This includes lords in the kingdom and Zen’s older brother, Izana. But Zen follows what he believes, and by the end of the series, Zen and Shirayuki realize they have feelings for each other.

But Shirayuki could have another admirer: Obi. He starts out working for Lord Haruka to try to scare Shirayuki out of the castle, but he later pledges himself to Zen. When Obi gains Zen’s trust, he becomes one of Zen’s aides and is given the task of watching over and protecting Shirayuki. While we see that Obi appears to have feelings for Shirayuki, he doesn’t do much to try to act on those feelings.

When I watched the first episode of the series, I thought the animation in Snow White with the Red Hair looked rather nice. I especially loved seeing how lush the backgrounds looked. I was truly convinced that I was watching something that takes place in medieval times. While the characters have typical shojo designs, the artistry of the animators helps to make them not look as average as they might have. And as the series progresses, the quality of the animation doesn’t appear to noticeably decline in quality.

I could also tell that Shirayuki would be a character that I would like. She is sweet, helpful, beautiful, and she also has agency. She’s not going to let people with sexist ideas push her around, and she’s willing to be her own independent person. She retains a lot of these traits throughout most of the series but becomes a little more willing to put her guard down around Zen after they acknowledge their feelings for each other.

The obsession over Shirayuki’s hair and her treatment by some in the court is very relatable to viewers, since it resonates so much with the various kinds of prejudice we see in the real world. But Shirayuki handles this all with grace and can hold her own.

While Snow White with the Red Hair is a shojo series that focuses on love and relationships, it never gets so sweet and sappy that it becomes saccharine. The viewer finds that they’re rooting for Shirayuki and Zen, and that by the end of the series, there’s a lot of payoff for liking these two characters so much.

I enjoyed Snow White with the Red Hair a lot. In fact, I would have to say it was my favorite anime for the Summer 2015 season. I thought the ending of Episode 12 worked well to end the first cour of the series. While it was a nice break after some of the drama in the episodes leading up to it, there’s still enough underlying tension there to make it clear that this story isn’t over yet.

Review: Snow White with the Red Hair: Episode 12 – “Goodbye to the Beginning”

Snow White with the Red Hair focuses on Shirayuki, an herbalist in a small village who has to flee because Prince Raj wants her to become his concubine due to the unusual color of her hair. During her journey, she becomes friends with Prince Zen, who ultimately helps Shirayuki to win her freedom from Raj.

Episode 12 has a strong focus on Shirayuki and Zen’s newly realized romantic relationship. It’s a rather light hearted episode overall, but we do get to see the awkwardness that comes with the territory of entering into a new relationship, especially for people who haven’t been in a romantic relationship before. There were a couple of awkward moments for them, but the awkwardness was cute.

But Zen is definitely showing a little bit of a jealous streak during the episode. That jealousy did kind of come in handy during the play taking place at Open Castle Day. When the actress playing a princess in the play breaks a bone, Shirayuki is asked to stand in. The director wanted to use Shirayuki and her red hair to elevate the attention of his troupe, but Zen takes it upon himself to save Shirayuki. She wants to keep her hair covered to avoid unwanted attention, but the director tries to get the actor working with her to remove the hair covering. Zen jumps in as a masked knight and keeps this from happening. But to me, the best part of the play was getting to see Shirayuki dressed up as the princess. She looked so natural in the dress, and she looked beautiful.

But we also see Zen get a little jealous when he learns about Obi giving Shirayuki a hair accessory that he won as part of a prize in a fighting tournament taking place during Open Castle Day. I distinctly got the impression that Zen has picked up on the fact that Obi has feelings for Shirayuki.

I also get the impression from the couple of times we saw Izana in this episode that he may not be entirely supportive of Zen when he learns about him and Shirayuki being a couple. This could be the source of some conflict during the second cour.

Overall, I thought Episode 12 ended up being a great way to end this cour. It was a nice break after some of the recent drama, but there’s still enough underlying tension there to make it clear that this story isn’t over yet. But I have to admit that I’m a little frustrated because I have to wait until January 2016 to see more and find out how this series will continue.

Review: Snow White with the Red Hair: Episode 11 – “Encountering… A Color for the First Time”

Snow White with the Red Hair focuses on Shirayuki, an herbalist in a small village who has to flee because Prince Raj wants her to become his concubine due to the unusual color of her hair. During her journey, she becomes friends with Prince Zen, who ultimately helps Shirayuki to win her freedom from Raj.

Episode 11 has a strong emphasis on Shirayuki and her awkwardness after Zen kissed her at the end of the previous episode. She tries so hard to hide that anything has happened between them, that she becomes flustered and makes it obvious that something has happened. While the others around them pick up that something happened to cause Shirayuki to act differently, they can’t figure out what exactly it is. But it was really amusing to see Shirayuki acting so flustered and awkward, though.

Meanwhile, Zen, Mitsuhide, and Kiki accompany Kihal back to her island and propose the idea of using the birds for communication for the kingdom. The leader of Kihal’s people tests Zen, and he proves that not all royalty and nobility act the same. And it’s while Zen is on the island that he confides to Mitsuhide what happened in the watchtower.

Shirayuki finds herself feeling confused about how she feels toward Zen, and matters aren’t helped when Zen returns from the island and bumps into her unexpectedly. She runs off because she doesn’t know how to face him. This culminates into an emotional scene in the forest, where Shirayuki admits that she loves Zen. He accepts her feelings, and the two of them kiss again. It was amazing to see Shirayuki actually crying as hard as she was, because usually, her tears are just in the corners of her eyes. But these tears and her words show there’s even more depth to her as a character than what we’ve seen up to this point.

I’m very happy to see Shirayuki and Zen finally become a couple at the end of this episode, but I’m also a little concerned. There’s a second cour of the series starting in January 2016, and there’s going to have to be conflict to drive the next part of the story. Readers who have been following these episode write-ups know that I’ve suspected that Obi has some kind of feelings for Shirayuki, and the scene where he tries to take her hand seems to back this up.

I was also picking up on vibes that perhaps Kihal may be starting to develop an interest in Zen. It looks likely that she will be coming to the castle to help out with the training for the birds, so being around Zen regularly like that could cause her to fall for him. And with Kihal and Shirayuki being friends, this could create an interesting conflict.

I’m getting a little sad that Snow White with the Red Hair comes to an end next week, and that I have to wait until January 2016 to see more and to find out what will happen to the characters and to the overarching story.