Anime, Comic, and Games

Comic (Manga)

My first manga was probably the Dragon Ball, and since then I have been very fond of this medium. I think it is an very intricate, rich yet difficult way to tell stories. Though not very successful, I tried to create my own manga during middle school days.

I usually choose manga based on both artistic styles and stories. It is sometimes very interesting to read long manga series and see how the artist's drawing techniques or understanding of his/her own characters improves over time. Here are some mangas that I love.

  • Dragon Ball (龙珠): The classic by Akira Toriyama, probably the father of Shōnen manga. I have been reading it since middle school days. The (probably pirated) manga I purchased missed a few pages in the end, so I had been appreciating its clever open ending strategy until I learned the real ending during college. However, I don't like the corresponding animes much.
  • Bakuman (爆漫王): A manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. An very interesting manga depecting the life of Manga artists. The artistic style is also very beautiful and delicate.
  • 3x3 Eyes (三只眼): A manga by Yuzo Takada. I liked the artistic styles, the imaginative stories and the development of the characters.
  • Ruler of the Land (热血江湖): A manga by Korean artists Jae Hyun Yang Geuk-jin Jeon. I'm a big fan of Wuxia (武侠). Unfortunately there are not many wuxia-related manga that matches my taste. But I like the fight scene illustrations in this manga a lot. I started reading it in middle school, and since they are still slowly updating it today (2018), this is the manga that I have been following for the longest time.
  • Ranma ½ (乱马 ½): A classic by Rumiko Takahashi, and a perfect combination of comedy and martial arts. Takahashi is truly a master. I feel no matter how many times I revisit this manga, I will find new details on a corner of some page that will make me laugh.

Animes

Anime and manga are closely related but also very different media. I have seen some pirated mangas that are just printed screenshots from anime, and they look absolutely horrible. Here is a sample of animes that I like.

  • Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊): cyberpunk. A set of TV series and OVAs. The earlier ones are especially good. Great artwork and very interesting stories. Discussions of many topics, including AI, consciousness, social problems, etc. Ghost is the spirit, Shell the body.
  • Evangelion (新世纪福音战士): classical cyborg fighting anime series, with TVs and many OVAs. The manga is also good. Great artwork and somewhat mysterious story line. I first watched it around 15 years ago and have been revisiting it constantly.
  • xxxHolic: very stylistic illustrations + interesting and sometimes thought-provoking short stories.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms (十二国记): somewhat bad art illustration but very good story and music.
  • Last Exile (最终流放): a great dieselpunk / steampunk anime. The second season, Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, however, is not very good, as the story barely makes sense to me.
  • Your Lie in April (四月是你的谎言): A love story with a mixture of joy, tragedy and music. I started learning piano after watching this. Very high quality illustrations. I think it is actually more difficult to illustrate music performance scenes than fighting scenes. In fighting scenes you have a lot of freedom, while for music performance, if the actions are different from what real artists do during performance, it will look weird. Nodame Cantabile (交响情人梦), another classical music related anime series (a very different type of story, but also quite good), simply uses static images when showing performance scenes — it looks very bad, but probably saved a lot of money for production.
  • Expelled from Paradise (楽園追放):cyberpunk, with a very interesting setting of the future world where humans are digitalized and live in a virtual world. You work to earn the computational power and memory, otherwise you will live in a slow and low resolution (pixelated) world or could even be archived. It also talks about AI.
  • Studio Ghibli: a Japanese animation film studio that produced countless many great anime films. Among them my favorite ones are Whisper of the Heart (侧耳倾听) and From Up on Poppy Hill (虞美人盛开的山坡).
  • Hyōka (冰菓): beautiful artwork. Genres is mystery yet it is not about crimes, but mostly about school life. When I was learning Japanese, I used to listen to the extracted audio of conversations from this anime during my lunch.
  • Slam Dunk (灌篮高手): story about high school basketball players. Both manga and anime are very good, with very stylistic illustrations. The author, Takehiko Inoue, is definitely a great artist that constantly challenges his own styles.
  • Kino's Journey (奇诺之旅): each episode is a relatively independent short story during the trip of Kino and her talking motorcycle, in a mystical world.
  • Attack on Titan (进击的巨人): absorbing story, great music and fantastic animation of the fighting and flying scenes. Interestingly, the manga from which the anime is adapted, has very very very bad drawings. Probably we could say the same for the One-Punch Man.
  • Inuyasha (犬夜叉): manga / anime series that I followed for 10 years since middle school until it ends.
  • RWBY (红白黑黄): an American anime-style web series. I don't really find its artwork or plots particularly outstanding, but I like the illustration of the fighting scenes a lot.

There are many more animes that I did not or forgot to mention above. I have long been a fan of animes, probably during my PhD studies is the most anime obsessed period of time for me — I regularly would follow new animes in each week. But nowdays many new animes are really boring so I gradually fall back to the mode that I just irregularly check out interesting new or old animes without following anything.

Games

I mostly play RPGs and a few action RPGs. Here are some of them that I liked.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild » action RPG on Nitendo Switch. My favorite modern game.
  • 幽城幻剑录 » my favorite Chinese RPG.
  • The Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki » A series (FC, SC and 3rd) of a Japanese RPG by Nihon Falcom Corporation. I also liked the follow-ups The Legend of Heroes VII: Zero no Kiseki and The Legend of Heroes VII: Ao no Kiseki.
  • Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line » probably the first RPG I have played.