Posts Tagged ‘genre’

It’s no secret that, along with horror, I’m a huge anime fan. In fact, I’ve dedicated posts to my love of Sailor Moon and to my favorite manga of all time, Red River. And because I wanted a change of pace, I figured I’d put out a list of some off the anime I’ve been enjoying lately or continue to enjoy years after I watch them. Along with Sailor Moon and Red River, these might be good places to start delving into what has become a worldwide phenomenon over the past several years. Or if you’re already a fan and just want something new to dive into, these could be good choices.

And of course, I’d love to hear from people who have already seen these series and enjoy them as much as I do.

So with all that said, let’s dive in. Here’s 8 anime I recommend.

1. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Another one of my favorite anime, this still influences me as much as Sailor Moon does. In a world where Britain is the Holy Britannian Empire and has conquered over a third of the world, an exiled Britannian prince in hiding in the recently-conquered Japan gains the power to control and influence people under certain circumstances. He dons a disguise and starts a rebellion against his father’s empire, while his best friend takes up arms against his rebel alter-ego on Britannia’s side.

An excellent show combining war, chess-level battle strategy, political intrigue, romance, high school drama, and giant robots. All in a cool two seasons that have spawned several mangas, games, a movie series, and even a new season coming out later this year (I will catch it as soon as I catch the movies, because apparently this season is a direct sequel to them). This is not a series to be missed, believe me.

2. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

A programmer by the name of Kobayashi (first name never mentioned) gets drunk one night, goes into the mountains, and stumbles across a dragon. She pulls a sword out of the dragon’s back, saving its life. The next day the dragon appears at Kobayashi’s apartment as a human girl to become her maid. Hijinks ensue.

This is one of the most popular animes out there right now, and it’s only thirteen episodes long! It’s just a silly fish-out-of-water story with dragons, but goddammit it is fun. They’re hilarious and heartwarming characters, learning to get along with this world and have a good time. I sometimes just watch some of my favorite episodes because they make me relaxed and lift up my mood. I highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun and laidback series with lots of laughs.

And it’s worth a watch just for the “How to Tame Your Dragon” joke in episode 2 (only available in the English dub).

3. Zombie Land Saga

A teenage girl named Sakura Minamoto dies in a car crash after she leaves for school one day. Ten years later she’s resurrected as a zombie, her mind and personality intact but her memories lost. That is crazy enough, but then the guy who resurrected her, a weirdo named Kotaro Tatsumi, informs her that she and six other zombie girls must form a pop idol group and become popular enough to somehow “save” the Japanese equivalent of the state of Idaho (sorry Idahoans, but the only time I ever hear anything out of your state is when there’s a presidential election). All while keeping their identities as zombies a secret from the public.

Considered by many to be one of the best anime of 2018 (including yours truly), this anime is a satire making fun of the Japanese idol industry as a whole as well as the anime focusing on them (yeah, that’s a genre). It’s hilarious even if you’re not familiar with either industry or genre, and it’s heartwarming too, with a cast of characters you grow to love and root for by the third episode. And it has the best examples of a trans character and a disabled character I’ve ever seen in anime. That alone makes it truly special.

You should give it a watch just for the outta nowhere rap battle in episode 2.

4. Shimoneta: A Boring World in Which the Concept of a Dirty Joke Doesn’t Exist

You know how there are people who believe if pornography and swearing were banned by law and sex education highly regulated, a more pure society would arise and people would naturally become better? Imagine if technology got to the point where that was enforceable and Japan somehow tried to make this happen. That’s the concept of Shimoneta, which follows a young man who wants nothing more than to be a moral, upright citizen and distance himself from his father, who was jailed for protesting the government’s efforts to over-regulate sex education and sexual content. Too bad he gets wrapped up with a classmate of his who is secretly a “dirty terrorist” and wants to decriminalize potty mouths and sexual content in our everyday media, and ends up founding an organization with her.

It’s a brilliant thought experiment on the part of the anime, and gives both sides of the argument, as well as what happens when either side becomes too extreme, a fair hearing. Of course, being anime it does it with as many dirty jokes as possible, to the point I’m surprised my floor isn’t covered in dirt whenever I watch it, but it’s still a brilliant anime. If you want a raunchy comedy with brains behind it, Shimoneta may be for you.

5. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

One of the latest entries in the isekai genre,* a 37-year-old businessman is stabbed to death after a mugging gone wrong, and ends up being reincarnated in a world out of a fantasy game. The thing is, he’s been reincarnated as a slime monster. Which normally would suck, but he soon finds himself becoming a protector for the many peoples living in the area he reincarnated in and taking on several foes with his unique powers. Within the span of a few episodes, this slime, renamed Rimuru Tempest, will become a great player to the events of his new world.

This anime has recently wrapped its first season, and a second season is already ordered for next year. Not hard to see why, with great animation/visuals, and relatable characters, especially Rimuru who is kind and funny and makes being a ball of slime look desirable. All set in a rich world filled with a variety of creatures with unique abilities and cultures. And my God, I think the society Rimuru creates should be the model for every community in the world who wants to make coexistence between different groups a thing. I’m kind of jealous.

6. The Rising of the Shield Hero

A darker isekai than the last entry, this is considered one of the most controversial anime in recent years (and its first season still isn’t over). A young man is transported to another world with three other teens to become the legendary four heroes who will save this world from Waves, invasions of terrible monsters bent on destroying the world. Problem is, he gets to be the Shield Hero, which compared to Sword, Spear and Arrow isn’t as cool. As if that weren’t bad enough, soon after arriving in this new world, he is betrayed and finds himself losing all his money, dignity and respect, even from the other three heroes. Alone, unable to trust anyone and still required to go save the world, he ends up buying a slave named Raphtalia to help him in his missions, and sets out to destroy the Waves. At the same time though, will he find a way to redeem himself and find hope again?

As I said, this is one of the most controversial anime of recent years, due in part to how the protagonist is betrayed (I won’t go into why here, you’ll have to watch the first episode and decide for yourself if you want to go further afterwards). However, I will say that besides that, it is a great story of someone going against impossible odds and trying to find hope again. I look forward to every Wednesday when a new episode comes out, and will be waiting eagerly for the next twelve or thirteen on the way.

7. My Hime

Also known as Mai-Hime, this is from the same studio that brought us Code Geass. A teen girl and her sickly younger brother go to an exclusive boarding school, only to find out that the girl is a Hime, one of thirteen girls selected to participate in a ritual that occurs in the area around the school every couple centuries. Armed with fire magic and a dragon named Kagutsuchi, she must fight off terrible monsters or risk losing all she cares for. But there’s a secret plot afoot at the school involving the Hime, and if she isn’t careful, the teen girl will be the latest victim to fall prey to the ritual’s dark purpose.

I own this series on DVD, and still break it out every couple of years. It takes what seems to be a lighthearted story and expertly adds darker elements over time, drawing us in to the plot as well as into the lives of these characters. I’d give it a try if I were you.

8. My Otome

A spin-off/sequel to My Hime (it’s heavily hinted the events of My Hime cause the events of My Otome), a teen girl goes to a famous school for Otome, women who use nanotechnology to become superpowered warriors and keep wars at bay by working directly for the rulers of different nations. The girl goes there hoping to become an Otome and find out who her mother, a former Otome, was. While there, she makes friends, falls in love, and becomes embroiled in a plot to take over not just the country the school is located in, but the whole world.

This anime features a lot of characters from the original anime (possibly reincarnated after several centuries), and a less cosmic/Apocalypse-themed plot, but at the same time allows these new characters to shine and has the same expert storytelling as the previous series. If you like My Hime, definitely check out My Otome.

Well, that’s eight anime I recommend. Thanks for sticking with me through this long article. But tell me, which anime peaked your interest? Have you seen any of the above-mentioned shows? What were your thoughts? And what would you recommend seeing? Let’s discuss.

And if you like anime and horror, maybe consider becoming an advanced reader for my upcoming novel Rose, about a young woman who starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems). The concept itself is influenced by anime and my love of the medium, and I think it shows. If this at all interests you, send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com and I’ll put you on the list. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.

*For those unaware, isekai stories are about people from our world who end up in alternate worlds or dimensions with strong fantasy or sci-fi elements. They often end up becoming chosen heroes, going on quests, or otherwise becoming central to the events of the world they’re in. Sometimes these worlds are real life versions of video games the protagonist is playing prior to changing dimensions, is itself a video game, or has some video game elements. It’s one of the most popular genres out there right now. The more you know.

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Long ago, when college was still a faraway possibility in my preteen mind, I got my first exposure to college writing courses via Stephen King’s IT, which my mother had bought for me during a family vacation to visit our relatives in Delaware. My first Stephen King book and still one of my favorites, I remember during one of the early chapters one of the protagonists Bill Denbrough, who in his adult years is a successful horror novelist, flashbacks to a honors’ creative writing class he took.

To say the least, the class he took scared me almost as much as the clown: it was a bunch of hippies talking about everything wrong with society sexually, culturally, racially, politically, economically, etc. The professor was a weed-smoker who saw fiction as inseparable from politics and revolution. Suggest that if writing stories for the sake of writing stories in this class, as Bill did, and everyone would turn and see you as a sexist death merchant or something. He later dropped the class (smart move) and did more than fine on his own.

For twelve-year-old me, I sincerely hoped that I wouldn’t find this sort of experience when I got to college. I did tell myself that Bill’s college years took place in the middle of the Vietnam War, and everyone was a little politics crazy then. But for a twelve-year-old, you don’t really understand what college is except maybe images of grassy lawns and old buildings and people between adolescence and adulthood going to classes during the day and going to wild frat parties at night. And of course there was that slightly hippie reputation, you can’t shake that off no matter what you do.

About seven years later, I enroll in my first creative writing class. And no, they’re not a bunch of hippies looking to protest the wrongs of the world and turn any guy wanting to write a simple horror story into a pariah. Our teacher was a grad student who swore like a sailor despite emphasizing a Southern upbringing, and she tasked us to write one short story that was literary that could incorporate genre themes. That was one of my first lessons in avoiding giant plot holes, because the first draft of my story, a girl freed from being a sex slave, had some issues. My second draft was a bit better, but only so much. Still, learned a bit from that, and the students were a cool group. Some were English majors, others were looking to fill credit requirements for other majors. We wrote, we critiqued each other’s work, it was fun.

The second creative writing class I took was an advanced course, and was taught by this professor who was such a great guy. He told us flat that he wanted only literary stories, that he thought genre was often unimaginative, and that he hated James Patterson. But he always had a smile on his face, and he always brought a little wind-up toy to amuse us. I got a lot of training in characterization and looking for new angles and perspectives from that class. One of the short stories I turned in was part of the finished collection of works for The Quiet Game, “Addict”. That class definitely helped bring it up to scratch.

My final, and possibly my favorite, creative writing class was last semester, with a professor who retired at the end of our class. Every week we would read an average of two or three short stories from our peers, as well as stories gathered in a course packet (some of those left a deep impression on me). Another advanced creative writing class, each of the students here had a lot of experience and brought a lot to the table. At times I felt I had trouble measuring up, that’s how good they were. But I worked hard, and in addition to the lessons I was getting from writing my thesis, I was growing as a writer, learning all sorts of things on relating to the audience, on storytelling and how not to rush it or stuff too much into ten-thousand words. It was excellent, and I know that class is definitely going to stick with me the most, because I was never bored and I got so much out of it.

In a month and four days (yes, I’m keeping count), I’ll be walking down the aisle in Ohio Stadium in a cap and gown and receive my diploma. If someone were to ask me right before I go up to get my diploma if I became a writer because of my time at Ohio State, I would say “Yes” and point to these classes. They did wonders for my writing, and I’m so glad I took them. And while the likelihood will be that I won’t be taking any formal classes again for a number of years, I know that as I go on and get plenty of informal training, these classes will stick with me through life.

So if you’re reading one of my stories some day in the future and suddenly you’re afraid and want to bolt the door, you can go ahead and blame my classes for that.

Did you take creative writing courses when you were in college? Did they help you at all?

What’s one lesson from those classes that has stuck to you even up till today?

By the way, remember my Secrets of Ohio State University article and its sequel? Well, there’s a third secret I wanted to share, but I didn’t want to make a whole article about it. So instead, I’ll just share it here: there’s an urban legend on campus that if you’re hit by one of the school’s buses you’ll receive various benefits as compensation, including free tuition for a semester. I’ve never heard anyone test this theory, but once I got hit by a car passing through campus while I was on the way to a psychology exam. The person who hit me, as far as I’m aware, wasn’t affiliated with Ohio State. But not too long after the incident, I got a small refund from OSU. Coincidence? Or maybe some form of restitution? The world may never know.

“I love a happy ending.”

You hear that a lot. People go to the movies or read books or watch TV shows or plays and they tell you that the happy ending is the best part. Some people won’t even check something out–movie, play, book, whatever–unless they know there’s a happy ending in the story, as if their whole enjoyment of this creative work hinges upon how it ends and nothing else.

But what is a happy ending? What is the definition of a happy ending? If you think about it, it’s not as easy a question to answer as it seems. It can actually vary between genres. In romance, a happy ending is that after many trials and tribulations the hero and heroine finally end up together, madly in love, and the villain, if there is one, either realizes the errors of their ways and repents for it or they suffer for the misery they’ve caused. In fantasy, usually the quest the characters set out upon is accomplished, though sometimes that has its own consequences (the hero dies or, like Frodo in LOTR, has been too affected by the events of the story to truly be happy). And in horror, happy endings aren’t easily achieved. If you’re lucky, you’ll survive and have most of your psyche intact. Anything else is up in the air.

And in some cases, happy endings don’t come at all. Take about a third of Shakespeare’s plays, or movies like Oculus, or the movie Godfather (everyone gets brought low in that film). How about stories where the enemy is defeated but someone dies tragically (Moulin Rouge). Or maybe, as in one of my favorite indie horror film I Am A Ghost, you are left with more questions than answers.

I think happy endings are actually pretty subjective and hard to define. Does everyone but the bad guy win? Do the lovers end up together? Does nobody come away with traumatic experiences? I think it’s easier to look for a satisfactory ending than a happy ending. A satisfactory ending is a conclusion that resonates with you, that you feel is the natural conclusion of this long story you’ve been reading/watching and brings out an emotional response in you that doesn’t involve disappointment. It makes you say, “I like how this ends.” And it’s much less likely to make you burst out crying because you’re so happy that all has turned out well.

How do you feel about happy endings or satisfactory endings?

What’s your definition of either?

Y U NO 1

It’s the truth: authors want their families to read their work.

Whether it’s our first book or our thirtieth or higher. Whether we’ve just published a blog post we wrote during our lunch break yesterday or a short story we’ve been working months on appearing in a prestigious magazine. There’s one thing all us authors want when this sort of thing happens: we want our folks to pay attention to it. Hell, we want our folks to buy at least one copy, drop everything else to read it, and then call us up to comment on it, tell us how much they loved it or hated it, and then go on Amazon or whatever site they got it from and write a (hopefully) three star or higher review.

This isn’t just narcissism on our part (though I’m sure that plays a big role in it). Authors like vindication, it’s one of the reasons we write and publish. And praise from our families on something we toil away at for hours and hours at a time is at the same time both something we kind of expect and something we desperately want. It’s a big deal for authors, no matter what the relationships between us and our families, that they take a look at our work and let us know what they think (and hopefully they actually like it and aren’t just saying it’s the most awesome thing ever to make us happy).

Sadly, that’s not always going to happen. My folks love me and I love them. Sure, occasionally we get on each other’s nerves and more than once I’ve fantasized about Daleks chasing them down the street (or was that my TA who keeps assigning extra work for our recitation class?). But yeah, we care pretty deeply about each other. Still, I know there are certain members of my family who won’t read my books, or won’t read them immediately. And I have to accept that.

The latter is pretty easy to explain: my folks are busy. Everyone above the age of 18 in my immediate family has a job of some sort. Plus my sister has schoolwork, my parents all have kids to still take care of, and bills to pay, and pets to take care of, and chores to do…basically, a lot on their plates. Eventually they get around to it, but until then I just have to be patient. Do I like it? No. But I know I can’t do anything to change it, so I wait and I let those members of my family get around to it in their own time. Eventually they get it done.

OAG 1

For the former, it’s another matter entirely. Some of them just aren’t big readers. It isn’t how they relax in the evenings. And I won’t even pick that fight, so why even bother getting them to read it if I know it’s a losing battle? Others like to read, but they don’t enjoy anything with monsters. Or ghosts. Or murder. Or blood. Or missing limbs. Or the occasional hot and heavy sex scene. Or darkness. Or scares. In other words, what I write is the exact opposite of what they look for in a story. Well, you can try with these people, but I can’t guarantee it’ll work. For some, unless you’re writing comedy, romance, or a highfalutin coming-of-age literary novel, they just won’t read it.

Though if you still want a specific family member or friend to read your work, by all means go ahead and try. You can try by emphasizing to them the aspects of the story they would most likely enjoy (this worked with a friend of mine when I highlighted the romantic aspect of Snake). It’s better than cutting a deal with them or guilt-tripping them (though I think the latter worked for me one time).

And if that doesn’t work, don’t be too glum about it. There are always people out there willing to read your work. You just have to work hard and try to connect to them, wherever they may be. That’s part of the reason why I blog and post on Facebook and tweet and all that: because I know that by doing so it has the potential to open all sorts of doors. Maybe even allow me to find some people who would enjoy my work. You never know.

Does your family read your work?

How do you get your folks to read your work when it doesn’t necessarily appeal to them?

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the meme photos and where I got them, I made them. Yeah, I made them. I found this website that allows you to create your very own memes. It’s amazing! Now I can put hilarious memes in my stories whenever I want.

Oh dear. Maybe that’s not such a good thing after all…