The Anime and Manga Fantasy Readers Would Love: A Guest Post

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Anime and Manga Fantasy Readers Would Love: A Guest Post

Today, I have Amy McNulty on my blog to talk about anime and manga fantasy readers would love. Check it out!

Fantasy is my favorite genre to write. There’s something romantic about setting stories in magical places with shades of medieval- or Renaissance-era cultures from around the globe. Quests become more epic, characters go through greater hardships, and magic spells and creatures are often part of the picture. As a fan of fantasy stories in literature, in film and on TV, as well as a long-time anime and manga devotee, it’s a given that the fantasy genre makes up some of my favorite anime and manga series. Whether you’re new to anime or you’ve watched a number of shows in the past, check out these series if you count fantasy as one of your favorite book genres.

Fushigi Yuugi
A teenage girl and her best friend open up a book and are transported into a medieval Chinese-inspired kingdom ruled by four great gods with the powers to grant wishes. It sounds like a book lover’s dream, and it would be, if poor Yuuki Miaka didn’t have to deal with so much hardship on her quest to become the Priestess of Suzaku and get three wishes to end a pending war. To gather the seven Celestial Warriors necessary to summon a god, Miaka must scour the country and face obstacles at every path in the form of enemies from another nation trying to summon the god Seiryuu first—people who’ve, unbeknownst to Miaka, taken her best friend Hongo Yui to become their priestess. Even when Miaka seems about to succeed, it’s really just the start of Miaka’s hardships. There’s also a romance between Miaka and one of her Celestial Warriors (as well as some one-sided angst from other men interested in her), but it’s the dissolving friendship between Miaka and Yui that provides the series with so much emotional turmoil.

Fullmetal Alchemist
Fantasy with a steampunk flair based on the Edwardian period of Europe, Fullmetal Alchemist is a story of magic and its tragic consequences. Abandoned by their father and raised by a loving mother, young brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric break the ultimate alchemy taboo when they attempt to resurrect their mother after she dies. They don’t succeed, and instead, Edward loses both an arm and a leg and Al loses his entire body, although Edward just manages to seal Al’s soul into a nearby suit of armor. Now the two travel the world to unlock the ultimate alchemy secret and figure out how to get Al back into his body, but there’s so much more to the world’s magic than they ever dreamed possible. There’s not one but two versions of the anime to enjoy, as one aired long before the manga ended and the other much more closely adapts the manga’s ending. Fans debate which is better, but I’m actually quite a devotee of both.


Often gory and at one point disturbingly full of sexual violence not appropriate for youngsters, Berserk is nonetheless one of my favorite fantasy anime, even though only one large arc has ever been adapted (twice—once as a TV series and once as a series of films). I haven’t read the manga that’s mostly set after the events of the anime, although I hear that’s great, too. The anime, set in a medieval Europe-style setting, is about a wandering solo mercenary, Guts, who finds himself joining a mercenary group, the Band of the Hawk, despite his solitary inclinations. However, he, like the other Band of the Hawk members, is won over by the group’s charismatic leader, Griffith, a man with a dream to rule his own kingdom one day. Guts goes on many adventures with the group, often itching to go out on his own but he’s always pulled back in by the strong bond he feels with Griffith, who has a dark connection to evil forces. The anime story comes to a head when a disastrous sequence of events puts the two on opposing sides of a catastrophic battle.

Attack on Titan
Few anime fans haven’t heard of Attack on Titan, and with the sense of ever-present danger and post-apocalyptic mood even despite the vaguely medieval European-ish setting, it often has more in common with The Walking Dead than traditional fantasy. However, the fantasy setting is part of the show’s appeal. The last of humanity lives inside one large country broken up and protected via three humongous walls. It’s been about a hundred years since humans last saw the titans—giant, deformed people who destroyed most of the world’s population and drove the remainder into hiding. At the start of the series, the outermost wall is breached as the titans attack again. This inspires three young friends, Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert, to join the Survey Corps, the military branch that vows to take the titans down once and for all.

These are far from the only fantasy anime and manga out there, and many series cross genres but still feel as epic and magical as the more typical fantasy fare. My honorable mentions include Slayers, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Record of Lodoss War. What are your favorite fantasy series? Comment below!

About Amy McNulty

Bio: The author of YA fantasy books The Never Veil Series (NOBODY’S GODDESS, NOBODY’S LADY, NOBODY’S PAWN [2017]) and FALL FAR FROM THE TREE, Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor who reviews anime for Anime News Network. In her down time, you can find her crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

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