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The Top Ten Series: Shounen (part IV)

May 14, 2010

Slightly later than planned, but here’s the next two in my personal Top 10 shounen series – numbers 3 & 4.

(Oh here’s Part I , Part II & Part III).

4. Death Note

Death Note is probably my favourite series overall, but in terms of pure shounen it’s here at #4.  It’s really quite different from the other shows on the list, in that the fighting action element that’s an inherent part of the shounen genre, is almost entirely absent.  Rather Death Note is a battle of wits where tactical genius is paramount as Light fights it out with L (and later Mello & Near) to stay one step ahead and keep his Kira identity a secret.

There is a lot of backlash against Death Note due to its huge popularity and I am fully aware of its flaws.  The twists got ridiculous and over complicated, and the Mello/Near arc was no where near as brilliant as the L arc.  But in spite of its flaws Death Note still stands out in my mind as a fantastic series, but then again I have very mainstream tastes.  I read the manga a few months before the anime came out, attracted to the wonderful gothic artwork and completely devoured it.  It’s a rare series that can completely grab my attention to the point I would stay up reading it all night – but that’s exactly what happened with Death Note.  I was massively excited about the anime adaptation and very enthusiastic about grabbing each episode as soon as it came out.

It’s the characters that I particularly love about Death Note – they’re such a memorable bunch and there isn’t a single one that can be called pure or good.  I revel in characters that have shades of gray, they are just so much more interesting to watch than straightforward, predictable good-guys……I have no idea what it says about me that I consistently gravitate towards anti-heroes and villains more than the pure-hearted heroes of anime and manga! 😆 Light, a mass-murdering, cold-hearted genius who has absolutely no qualms about using and discarding people; is such a unusal choice for a shounen main character, and that just makes Death Note stand out as something a bit different, and I really like that.

The anime adaptation by Madhouse was visually stunning (and prime meme material) and brilliantly acted.  Of course its over-dramatic – it had to be since there would be no other way to make writing down names and thinking visually dynamic enough to hold the viewers interest.  Since the fights are a battle of wits rather than anything physical, symbolism became necessary and Madhouse managed to capture the essence of the manga extremely well.  The use of colour and music was really stunning – the whole package of the anime really just screamed quality, so of course it became massively popular and started attracting the haters.

For my part I’ve stopped fangirling about the series since that seems to be frowned upon, but I still hold it in high regard – its definitely an all time favourite of mine and that’s unlikely to change.  Over-rated it may be, but there is no denying that Death Note is well crafted and extremely entertaining – and that’s why its my #4 shounen series.

3. One Piece

I’ve only recently got into One Piece.  I had sampled the first 5 or so episodes years and years ago when I was still new to anime, and was completely turned off by the childish feel of the artwork and concept (just goes to show you how much my tastes have changed over the years!).  A friend (after much pestering) finally managed to get me to give the show a 2nd chance by actually sending me the 1st 300 episodes (thanks again for that Aiko!) and this time round I could see the beauty of this classic shounen series.

One Piece is a prime example of classic shounen tropes done brilliantly.  Everything about One Piece feels familiar, yet Oda manages to give it a fresh spin – the sheer creativity of the world boggles the mind!  I refuse to catch up to broadcast for this series and its also one of the few on this list that I havent touched the manga for – I like to sit down and just watch vast quantities of the One Piece anime every few months or so – neglecting just about everything else I may be watching.  The pull of the show is such that I think watching a single episode a week just wouldn’t be enough for me since I’m so used to just plonking myself down and devouring an entire arc in one fell-swoop! Of course this approach makes avoiding spoilers quite difficult, but I’m managing so far.

The energy and just plain sense of fun that radiates from the screen has addictive properties – I’m positive that One Piece could be classed as a drug!  Again its the characters that keep me coming back to the series – the amount of development each member of the crew has received on this epic journey, is nothing short of remarkable – Oda is a master of storytelling.  One Piece is all the more remarkable for how long its been going without ever loosing momentum or getting stale.  Its testament to the sheer creative energy of the series that it’s just continued to build and build, showing no signs of reaching a plateau or getting old.

I have a new appreciation for the unique art design now.  It wasnt long ago that I was still a bit iffy about the character design – you can hardly call them attractive; but really the series design is part and parcel of its overall appeal and its constantly evolving.  On the other hand I’ve always admired the world design – the background detailing can be completely jaw dropping in its complexity and does set One Piece in a class of its own.

Currently I’m only on episode 338 – the urge to watch the series came back last week so I’ve finally started the Thriller Bark arc, so I’m way behind most people on this show – still doesn’t make One Piece any less deserving of my #3 spot.

Top 2 series will be up at some stage next week!

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2010 4:27 pm

    One Piece AWESEOME

    Deathnote AWESEOME

    These posts AWESOME

  2. May 15, 2010 12:22 am

    Death Note is probably my favourite series overall

    You win everything. The blogsphere seems to be remarkably low on Death Note fans so it’s always nice finding another one

    • May 15, 2010 1:27 am

      I’m a unrepentant fan of Death Note – it gave me lots of joy and I won’t forsake it just because it got popular with the uncultured masses 😛 I don’t really get the Death Note apathy in the blogosphere TBH.

  3. Aiko permalink
    May 15, 2010 9:53 am

    I was under the impression (or more accurately, assumption) that you were specifically referring to long-running shounen, so I didn’t expect to see Death Note listed. Given how broad this demographic/genre is, my initial prediction of what’ll be included may require some tinkering… Then again, as you’ve mentioned, your preference is mostly mainstream, so it’s almost a guarantee that a certain Sunrise series will prop up to steal the mantel next week. 😛

    As for Death Note; similarly I had read the manga beforehand and anticipated the anime adaptation, especially because Madhouse were assigned to handle it. The cat and mouse scenario at the beginning with Light and L was excellent, truly gripping. Without spoiling it for those that have yet to see this anime (and if you haven’t, you definitely should), I felt the direction Light took was unfortunate and the latter half of the series failed to maintain the momentum of the first, although the closure was satisfactory. 🙂

    One Piece… Well, if you’ve read my review on TSR, you’ll know that I’m incredibly biased toward this shounen series. If I were to compile such a list as this, it’ll be no surprise that One Piece would be right up there too, so I’m glad to see that it’s been positioned well. The charactersation and world setting is so well developed, and given its length, it’s one of the few that has managed to remain engaging and interesting, which is a remarkable feat considering it’s been airing for over a decade, with the manga running for longer. Suffice to say, I deemed sending those 300 episodes to you a duty of sorts on my part. 😛

    • May 15, 2010 1:18 pm

      For the most part it is long-running series I’ve included as they best embody the true spirit of the shounen genre. However Death Note is too good to ignore – in comparison to the rest, it benefits from the tighter pacing and lack of filler that are the draw of shorter shows while still having that shounen feel with a bit of a different spin.

      And One Piece……well I’m forever in your debt for making me try it again!

  4. May 15, 2010 10:24 am

    Im looking forward to the last part :D, thought death note would be higher like no.2 :beard: though not top because that second part is too long to ignore :s, I have a vague guess what one of the top two series might be but not the other:hmmmm:

    • May 15, 2010 1:19 pm

      I think my top 2 are forgone conclusions at this point, but they may surprise some!

      Death Note will remain one of my all time favourites of any genre, but when gauging it on pure shounen vibes it had to go a bit lower on the list – the three above it are all just too good!

  5. twilightshiva permalink
    May 15, 2010 7:55 pm

    I was a little surprised to see Death Note at only number 4, but then I realized the genre this was for. Death Not is awesome, but not as shounen as other shows. Good list so far. I agree with most of it 🙂

    • May 16, 2010 3:51 pm

      Yeap rated on pure shouneness Death Note came in a bit lower on the list.

  6. Yuuki permalink
    May 16, 2010 1:43 am

    I really do want to give One piece a go in the summer =P I wonder if I’ll be able to look past the animation especially after FMA 2.0 😛

    • May 16, 2010 3:53 pm

      One Piece’s brilliance transends its odd animation style – after about 50 episodes you won’t care that its not pretty because you’ll be captivated by the adventures of the Straw Hat crew!

  7. p0l3r permalink
    July 12, 2010 8:01 pm

    I agree with your list but, in my opinion maybe put death note a little lower. The series took a bit of a dive half way through the manga. I ended up stopped reading and lost interest. I’m guessing FMA and GTO are the top two ;)?

    I would recommened to read one piece manga after enies lobies the quality of the show is little worse now and I enjoyed the manga alot more.

    • July 12, 2010 11:04 pm

      The later half was definitely not as good as the L arc, but the end was pretty good so that saves it in my eyes – I loved Death Note.

      Haven’t seen GTO (yet) so you’re half right about the top 2 😛

      I probably won’t bother with the One Piece manga though – I’m happy enough with the anime adaptation.

  8. Brandon permalink
    June 25, 2013 6:33 am

    Death Note is one series that’s in my top 10 but I’ve only seen the second half :(.

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  1. The Top Ten Series: Shounen (part V) « Caraniel's Ramblings

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