The Top Ten Series: Shounen (part V)
At last I have reached the final post of this little series – took a wee bit longer than planned (but no where near as long as it did to get my Shounen list finished!) due to holiday induced backlogs and RSI flare-ups, but I got here in the end! However as predicted at the start, now that I’m finished I kind of want to reshuffle the list again :3
The high-ranking of FMA stems not only from it being fecking brilliant, but also due to the fact that since the manga and latest anime adaptation are so close to finishing, my fangirling of this series is at a fever pitch! Seriously at the moment FMA is easily my most anticipated series both in terms of manga chapters (only one left!!) and weekly anime episodes.
My first experience of FMA was (like many others) the 2003/4 anime adaptation, which due to the lack of manga material at the time, was mostly anime original. I still highly rate that original anime, IMO Bones did a brilliant job of building a believable plot based on what they knew of the characters and setting. In hindsight it doesn’t hold a candle to the epic pacing and plot of the manga material, but that doesn’t detract any from the fact the original anime series was fantastic in its own right.
What I love about FMA is the characters. It always seems to boil down to characters for me, they make or break a series – without memorable characters it doesn’t matter how brilliant or original the plot and setting is, it just won’t reach the higher end of my rating scale. Thankfully FMA doesn’t have this problem, both the setting and characters are brilliant – it would be difficult to find an anime fan that couldn’t identify Edward Elric even if they hadn’t seen the series.
I love the artstyle of FMA to bits – it’s so clean and dynamic, the action scenes are really well drawn and easy to follow – a major plus point in shounen manga. In the anime the colours are bright, easy on the eye and the character designs are readily identifiable with lots of variety. The Brotherhood anime adaptation has some of the best animation I’ve ever had the pleasure to feat my eyeballs on!
What really makes FMA special though is the fact it hasn’t dragged on and on with no purpose or destination in mind – it has successfully managed to avoid the classic downfall of shounen series. FMA has been tightly plotted, well paced and the end is now nigh – and its been a fantastic ride to get to this point. It’s amazing how well Arakawa has planned this series out! FMA will easily go down as one of my favourite series of all time – but it’s not my favourite shounen series of all time; that privilege goes too……
Yes the mighty Dragonball franchise (excluding GT which I refuse to watch on principle) claims my top spot in this shounen top10. What else but DB could I really choose!? When you ask anyone to name a shounen series, Dragonball is one of the 1st things to come to mind – its presence and influence in the genre is unavoidable. Toriyama’s masterpiece is the source of many of our most cherished shounen tropes, and current authors always credit him and the DB franchise as inspiration for modern shounen.
For me DBZ was a gateway anime. I started off later than most people in the fandom, being 16 when the bug bit (although that was 11 years ago now!). DBZ is responsible for my love of shounen, just like Gundam Wing and Escaflowne are responsible for my interest in mecha. I remember being completely sucked into the world of DBZ – it was addictive, high-octane action with tonnes of shouting, cheesy dialogue and larger than life characters – and I adored it. My brother (who’s 4 years younger than me) and I never missed an episode and a few years later when I was at uni, my brother and I used portions of my loans and his wages to purchase all of the DB/Z boxsets – my first anime DVD purchase. Uni was my wilderness years, I didn’t really watch anything during those 3 years outside of my DB/Z and Gundam Wing DVDs – but the fact I kept coming back to Dragonball speaks volumes about how much I loved it!
Even now I await each new episode of Dragonball Kai with bated breath – its been wonderful to revisit this series remastered and with all the filler trimmed back. Kai is Dragonball Z in its purest form – you get the best bits without the padding, and even though I liked the padding I appreciate the fact you get to the meat of the action without messing about or having the characters stare at each other for hours on end!
Once again its the characters in all their god-moded glory that I love. It was sad to see some to the Dragon Ball characters get so badly sidelined in DBZ, but at the end of the day I’d rather have my Vegeta and Freeza over Yamcha and Pilaf 😛 Of course I also acknowledge that DBZ suffered from a lacklustre finale, with each progressive arc the plot got thinner, the characters got polarised and the villains became parodies of themselves – however I still find it difficult to get annoyed at this. DB was never anything to be taken seriously – it certainly never took itself too seriously at all, and that kind of bleeds over into the audience. It’s still a pity that it didn’t end wonderfully, but such is my love and nostalgia for the series I can over look that.
So that’s my personal Top 10 Shounen series – to recap:
- Dragonball /Z/Kai
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- One Piece
- Death Note
- Hunter x Hunter
- Rurouni Kenshin
It was difficult to pin down the shows I wanted in the list, and even more difficult to assign them a number – even now that I’m looking at the finished list I feel like changing it……but I won’t since that would be too much work! 😆 I’d be interested in hearing what your list looks like as I’m positive mine isn’t to everyone’s taste!
Its been fun doing these posts – I’m not sure what genre to tackle next so suggestions are welcome!
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