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Guy Gavriel Kay: A Song for Arbonne Review (of the spoiler-filled variety)

(The following review is a transcription from audio)


I’m excited to revisit a book that has been so important to me, but I’m really thrilled because we are finally talking about a book from the High Fantasy subgenre. I’m sure there are a lot of definitions about this term out there in the fandom – and also a lot of arguments about defining it – so let me just say that I’m using the term High Fantasy simply to mean a fantasy story that takes place entirely in an imaginary self-contained world with its own rules and properties. The Lord of the Rings is the classic example of High Fantasy, but also there is Game of Thrones. And for a lot of people High Fantasy is Fantasy – this was certainly true for me as an adolescent – and I expect that we’ll read a lot more of this sub-genre as we go.
Now, this is not universally the case, but it often makes sense to begin any dive into a work of High Fantasy by talking about the world before getting into the plot and characters, so let’s do that first. In A Song for Arbonne, Kay imagines a world more-or-less similar to Western Europe during the High Middle Ages, which is the classic period of the Middle Ages between the year 1000 and the onset of the Black Death in 1348. So, this is a world with knights and castles, kings and counts, and a continent full of people speaking different languages and arranged in independent polities but which shares a common religion.
That religion is going to be important, so let’s start with that. We don’t actually know all that much about the religion, but because Kay is working within a high-medieval paradigm he’s able to insinuate a lot by simply presenting us with a priestly monotheism at least broadly similar to medieval Christianity. There is a single God, whose name is Corannos, and he has priests and temples. There is some kind of hierarchy among the priests, though it’s not clear if that organization supersedes political boundaries. What is clear, though, is that this religion is at least nominally important for lay-people as well, and in this world knights are called “corans” and they are officially members of the Order of Corannos who have been consecrated by a priest. Sadly, we don’t ever see this consecration in action in the book, but we can envision something similar to a medieval knighting ceremony like the one described by Ramon Llull in the late thirteenth century.
Now there’s a catch to the universality of this religion on this continent: there is one region where a variation of this religion is practiced, and of course that region is Arbonne, where our story will take place. People in Arbonne worship the god Coran, but they also worship the goddess Rian whom they regard as more important, and indeed the clerical organization of Rian is closely affiliated with the ruling family of Arbonne. This religious difference is going to drive the central conflict of the book, but the plot hinges on geo-politics, so let’s turn our attention there.
Arbonne is one of six linguistically distinct regions on this continent – and you’ll notice I’m carefully avoiding using the words “country” and “state” here, and there will be more on that in the next segment. Alright, so Arbonne is one of six regions and these are all loosely based on Western Europe in the High Middle Ages. Arbonne is southern France, and there are correspondences to northern Italy, Germany, Spain, and England as well. But the region that matters most is Gorhaut, which corresponds to northern France and is therefore the northern neighbor of Arbonne.
There are two things that matter about Gorhaut. The first is that it has been involved in a protracted war with its neighbor Valensa, which is the analog to England in this world, and has lost a massive chunk of territory in a peace treaty that followed a devastating military defeat. The second is that Gorhaut is the center of the Corannos religion. This is where the god Corannos was born long ago in the days before the creation of humans and it is therefore where the High Elder of Corannos resides.
This High Elder is a man named Galbert de Garsenc and he despises the people of Arbonne because of their religion – a religion he regards as a heresy. There’s a great passage about this fairly early in the book when Galbert is calling for the king of Gorhaut to invade Arbonne and destroy the Rian religion. Galbert says: “Gorhaut is the Heartland, the place where Corannos of the Ancients was born in the days before man walked and woman fell into her ruin.” And then a little later he says “Beyond the mountains south of us they mock Corannos. They live under the god’s own bright sun, which is the most gracious gift to man, and they mock his sovereignty. They demean him with temples to a woman, a foul goddess of midnight and magics and the blood-stained rites of women. They cripple and wound our beloved Corannos with this heresy. They unman him – or they think they do.”
So we can see that misogyny is at the heart of this hatred and hostility. Galbert thinks of women as fallen or debased, and the fact that women play a role in the religious life of Arbonne disturbs him. Moreover, Arbonne in general fails to uphold Galbert’s standards of misogyny. The current ruler is a woman and the defining aspect of Arbonnais culture is troubadour love poetry – a literature that places elite women at the center of society and encourages them to have sexual relationships with men who aren’t their husbands – namely, troubadours.
And while the plot of the book culminates in the invasion of Arbonne, the book is really about Arbonnais culture and especially about troubadours. So now that we are many minutes into our recap, it’s probably time to meet our protagonist, through whose eyes we will see Arbonne and the rest of this imaginary world. That protagonist is Blaise de Garsenc, the younger son of the High Elder of Corannos, Galbert de Garsenc.
When we meet Blaise, he’s been working as a mercenary soldier for several years despite the fact that he is a member of a wealthy and politically powerful family. Blaise was deeply upset by the treaty that ceded the northern part of Gorhaut to Valensa – a treaty largely the work of his own father. Blaise was at the battle that led to this treaty – he saw his king killed along with many of his comrades – and so for him this treaty was a betrayal by the new king, even perhaps a sort of treason.
Blaise begins the novel working for a small-time local lord, but he is quickly recruited by one of the major players in Arbonnais politics who has figured out who Blaise is, even though he never uses his patronym. As Blaise is having various adventures throughout Arbonne such as kidnapping a troubadour and participating in the regional holidays, we get a series of cut scenes in Gorhaut – and that’s where the speech from Galbert de Garsenc comes from. Through these cut scenes it becomes clear that Gorhaut is going to use the security of the treaty with Valensa to invade Arbonne, and our Arbonnais characters are not unaware of this either.
In these cut scenes we also meet the rest of Blaise’s family, especially his sister-in-law Rosala who is pregnant. Rosala is afraid of her father the High Elder and also of the new king who puts his own misogyny into practice by using his station to sexually assault women without consequence and who has his eye on her. We’ll talk more about Rosala’s experiences in the next segment, but what matters for the recap – and we’re nearing the end – what matters here is that Rosala flees to Arbonne and receives political asylum for herself and her infant son.
In the end, Blaise declares himself the rightful king of Gorhaut and there is a big battle in Arbonne to settle the matter. Blaise and his Arbonnais allies – and a not insignificant number of disaffect Gorhautians – win the day and Blaise becomes king and his father Galbert is killed. There are a dizzying number of personal stories that I’ve left out of the recap – though we’ll talk about some of them in upcoming segments – and these all get neatly and happily wrapped up in the end, too. There’s at least one wedding, a secret child, and a redeemed buffoon – it’s all actually quite Shakespearean and it’s really rather emotionally satisfying. And that brings us to the end of A Song for Arbonne, but there’s still a lot to talk about, so let’s jump into some Themes and Motifs.

Themes and Motifs

My entry into thinking about A Song for Arbonne is through the historical Albigensian Crusade and the High Middle Ages – and I should say that I’m recording this episode only a few days after I’ve finished up teaching a course on War and Society in the High Middle Ages, so this is really the lens through which I’m viewing this fantasy novel.
Alright, so, the Albigensian Crusade. As it says on the box, this was a Crusade – a papally sanctioned holy war – and it began in 1209 and ended ish in 1229. Most Crusades involved Western Christian armies fighting non-Christians outside of Western Christendom – the Holy Land, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain of course – and Kay has another book all about this – and also north-eastern Europe. But the Albigensian Crusade has the distinction of being waged within Western Christendom against other Christians – Christians deemed heretics, but Christians nonetheless, and we’ll come back to that in just a minute.
The Crusader was largely undertaken with the support and leadership of the French royal family, but it’s important to note that in this case the kingdom of France was limited to only a small part of what we today think of as France, really just north-central and north-eastern France. Almost all of western France was ruled by the kings of England – in this book that’s Valensa, which really seems to be Normandy, the region of France that was an important part of the English crown. South-eastern France was a semi-autonomous region of the Holy Roman Empire – greater Germany, we might say. And, finally, we come to the part of France on which Arbonne itself is based – south-central France, the Languedoc. This was a patchwork of independent polities that recognized the suzerainty of the Count of Toulouse as well as the Count of Barcelona. People in this region spoke a distinct language called Occitan or Occitanian – and that’s what Languedoc means – it’s the place where people use “oc” for “yes” and is contrasted to the Languedoil where people say “oui.”
The culture of the Languedoc was distinct from the culture for France in a number of ways besides language, and I’ll talk about two of these, but let’s start with religion. By definition, a Crusade is a religious war and in this case it was a war to stamp out the Albigensian heresy – and Albigensian, by the way, just means “having to do with the area around the town of Albi” – and in A Song for Arbonne this heresy is represented by the Rian religion – a religion that doesn’t deny Corannos’s existence, but has a different theological understanding of who he is and of his relationship with Rian, who is also acknowledged in the orthodox Corannos religion.
The heresy that the Crusaders wanted to stamp out in southern France is called Catharism, and the people who practice it are called Cathars. For medieval and early modern theologians, Catharism was a dualist and anti-materialist heretical form of Christianity. Cathars believed in God and regarded the Bible as scripture, but they thought that they lived in an ongoing battle between the forces of Good and Evil, or God and Satan. Moreover, the material world – the world we live in – wasn’t the creation of God, but of Satan and that it is therefore an evil place. Because the world is an evil place, it is sinful to reproduce – the condemn souls to live in this vile prison – and also to delight in eating or other bodily pleasures. Bodies themselves are evil, and this belief necessarily runs into some problems in Christianity, which is centered around the idea that God himself was once incarnated in the form of Jesus Christ. But if bodies are evil and God gave himself a body, then is God evil is a question that might arise from these two beliefs. And so Cathars had a complicated understanding of Jesus Christ and the extent to which he had a body and whether he really was God and so on.
None of this makes it’s way into A Song for Arbonne – and we’ll get back to our book in a moment, but before we do I want to say that scholars now tend to think that everything I just told you is wrong, that it was all invented or exaggerated by the Inquisition and later writers, and indeed much of this scholarly work got started around the time that Kay was writing A Song for Arbonne. If you’re interested in reading more about this I’d suggest two books: one by my fellow Princetonian Mark Pegg called A Most Holy War: The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom; and the other is The War on Heresy by R.I. Moore. Both of these are fascinating works of scholarship.
Okay, let’s get back to Arbonne. We can see a loose parallel with Catharism in the idea that there are two deities, Rian and Corannos, though this isn’t really a form of dualism. But for the most part Kay has abandoned any of the particulars of Catharism and instead adapted some of the other cultural distinctions between northern and southern France for his purposes. This is probably a good move because the Venn Diagram of people who are super into Christian theology and also super into fantasy novels is more or less monopolized by Gene Wolfe fans.
So what Kay does instead is make this about women – and in particular about misogyny. We’ve seen already in the recap segment that the Corannos religion believes that women are fallen creatures and that men are not – and this has an obvious parallel in some Christian interpretations of Adam and Eve and The Fall of Man. And Galbert de Garsenc hates women and, seemingly, so does his entire culture. We see much of this from the perspective of the character Rosala who fears for her body and her life and eventually flees Gorhaut because she refuses to allow a daughter to grow up with these same fears or to allow a son to be raised to hate women. Kay takes this a step farther – a step too far, I think, actually – by giving us a young king who is a sexual predator who openly pursues the wives of other members of the ruling class and who holds court while receiving oral sex from a serving woman.
All of this is contrasted in Arbonne, where a woman rules and where there is a female god and a female high priest. Moreover, in Arbonne, love poetry venerates women for their beauty and their secular attributes, and the women of the ruling class – although married young and without their own input or real consent – take lovers as they please.
Now, in our popular culture we tend to think of the High Middle Ages as an inherently misogynistic culture, or at least a sexist culture. Men held power and lived public lives while women worked in the home or, in the case of elite women, were held prisoner in castles and deemed important only as part of real estate deals. The reality, of course, is much more complicated than this, but this picture does derive some important scholarship of the middle and late twentieth century – and it’s scholarship that Kay says he has read in his acknowledgements.
In particular, Kay has read the work of French historian Georges Duby, one of the most important medievalists of the twentieth century. In a series of books and articles between 1950 and 1985, Duby described the aristocratic culture of northern France during the High Middle Ages as a rape culture. Duby points to the fact that women were married off at ages that make us extremely uncomfortable – twelve, thirteen, fourteen – married off as girls, as children, as people incapable of giving informed consent. Aristocratic women, in Duby’s interpretation of narrative sources, were largely powerless and were completely separated from society. Duby’s argument makes use of a number of religious texts, as well, and he points to changing conceptions of marriage during the High Middle Ages, such as a new emphasis on clerical celibacy – forbidding priests from marrying and having children.
Most scholars no longer accept Duby’s picture of medieval elite society – a picture framed by the types of sources Duby used and even more so by the types of sources he didn’t use. And this question – was High Medieval society a rape culture – was one of the historiographical debates that my students conducted in my War and Society in the High Middle Ages course this past semester. When I do these debates, I put the students in three groups and have them champion one scholar’s answer to a set of questions in dialogue – or argument – with scholars who have come to different conclusions. I also always have a group of student judges decide the winner of the debate, and in this case Duby’s interpretation received no support from the student judges.
Still, even though no medieval king ever received oral sex on his throne in front of his court, Kay creates some compelling bad guys this way and champions the fair treatment of women, and that’s certainly a good thing. And Kay has done more than just read Georges Duby, here. Kay has also done a lot of reading about Occitanian troubadours, a literary phenomenon of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Troubadours wrote love poetry that was performed in elite households – courts, if you like – throughout the Languedoc, and troubadours themselves were prominent members of Occitanian society, and indeed the first troubadours were members of the elite – and this is something that Kay shows us in Arbonne, as well.
Troubadour poetry places women at the center of elite social life, but it also is foundational in the invention of romantic love as cultural ideal – something to be prized and prioritized. If you’ve read any book or seen any TV show with a love story in it, then you’ve experienced the legacy of troubadour poetry. But on top of this, many women were troubadours, and so the percentage of women writing literature in the Languedoc is much higher than in any other part of Western Christendom at this time.
And the contrast between the place and role of women in this society and that of Duby’s image of northern France is stark and obvious, and it’s something that many scholars have written about. If you’re interested in this, I recommend the book The Women Troubadours by Meg Bogin. The Georges Duby book I suggest is The Knight, the Lady, and the Priest, and if you’d like to contrast that with one of the other scholars I use in my class, you should check Kimberly LoPrete’s biography of Adela of Blois. These books are all great and worth reading on their own, but I think you’ll especially enjoy them if you’ve been as captivated by Arbonne as I have.
So, to summarize this all up before we move on to the other theme I want to talk about, Kay has imagined the Albigensian Crusade as a clash of civilizations between a misogynistic and bellicose culture and an urbane and gender-equal culture. Throughout, of course, it is obvious who the bad guys are, and perhaps the thesis of this book could be something like “if more of us valued food, and song, and cheer above the oppression of women, it would be a merrier world.”
Okay, let’s take a deep breath before we move into the second theme of A Song for Arbonne, and this is nationalism and patriotism. Indeed, we might say that while Kay is very much exploring romantic love in his depiction of Arbonne’s troubadour culture, his plot relies very much on a profound love of country – a deep patriotism. And we see this all over the book. The Arbonnais duke Blaise works for as a mercenary, a man named Bertran de Talair, is in a decades-long personal vendetta with another aristocrat named Urte de Miraval, and this rivalry threatens to undo the military security of Arbonne. And during the climax of the book, Urte refuses to fight the invading army from Gorhaut if he’ll have to take orders from Bertran. And when we get to the big battle, his army enters the fray very late and at a moment when it looks like he has joined forces with the invader because he hates Bertran more than he loves his country. This whole thing turns out to be a ruse, and as Urte is dying he explains that of course he loves his country enough to set aside personal rivalries.
Love of country is also at the core of Blaise’s usurpation of the throne of Gorhaut. Any king who sells off part of his country is a traitor to the people he is meant to protect, a genuine villain. And this belief pits Blaise against his own family, against his own father. And so we see that for our heroes patriotism not only trumps personal rivalries, but also family loyalties. And part of what makes Galbert de Garsenc a villain is that he identifies more with his religious identity than with his national identity. Also, he’s just a terrible human.
And there’s a great scene near the end of the book when musicians from around the continent are performing together at a fair. There’s a bit of nationalistic rivalry going on here and the musicians of Arbonne are challenged to defend their reputation as the best, and the performer who takes up this challenge says that although troubadour songs are usually love songs, he’ll perform one that isn’t. He then goes on to sing a pastoral piece about the olive groves and the vineyards and the mountains of Arbonne. And at the end he corrects himself and says “on reflection, I did sing a love song after all.” And it’s this patriotism that really sets our heroes apart from the villains, even more so than their treatment of women, and it’s something that Kay is extolling as a virtue.
Kay’s plot also takes this up, and he really envisions a type of nineteenth-century Balance of Power intrigue story set in the High Middle Ages. As fun as this is, this is a wholly anachronistic idea and I want to spend some time now talking about nationalism. And this is something that I spent several weeks on in my Fall of the Roman Empire class last fall where I discovered that my students really didn’t know what nationalism is coming into the class, that they thought it was just a synonym for patriotism – that it means loving your country – and so I’d like to put my teacher hat on for a few minutes and talk about that.
So let’s start with a kind of primer on nationalism before we look at how it shows up in A Song for Arbonne, and we can get going by just talking about the word “nation” itself. We hear this word all the time in phrases like “national football league” or “national security.” And what we mean when we use it this way is the state we live in. When an American uses “national” she means something that has to do with the United States, while a Pakistani would mean something that has to do with Pakistan.
But this usage of “nation” – this idea that it is just another synonym for “state” or “country” – is new. Medieval kings and even the writers of the U.S. constitution would have been confused by this usage of the word. And this usage grows out of a movement to reshape our ideas about group identities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
But what, then, does the word “nation” mean? At its core the word is more-or-less a synonym for “ethnic group.” The word itself derives from the Latin word “natio,” which has this meaning. And we get other words from “natio” as well – native, natal, and nativity all come from this, and so you can see that it has something to do with being born – maybe the place where you were born or the group into which you were born.
So now let’s define “nationalism.” “Nationalism” has three key components: First, the belief that everyone belongs to a nation – that is, everyone has an ethnicity. Second, the belief that a person’s national or ethnic identity is that person’s most important identity. Finally, the belief that a nation should have the power of self-determination – that is, some kind of political power.
And we live in this world – we all believe this to some degree or another – but as I’ve said this is a new idea, this is a belief system that is invented in Europe in the late eighteenth century and really gains traction in the nineteenth. This is to say that this belief is newer than the United States of America – the country that I’m recording this podcast in came into existence before this belief did. And people who held this belief had to convince other people of it – they had to convert people to this way of thinking. They had to convince people that their ethnic identity was more important than their civic identity – both at the city and regional level.
And we can look at some examples of this. Let’s start with Italy, which wasn’t a state – a country – until 1871. People on the Italian peninsula and in the islands that became part of the new state of Italy didn’t all speak the same dialect – and these regional differences weren’t just a matter of silly accents, but could be as mutually unintelligible as French and Spanish are. So part of the Italian nationalist movement relied on convincing people that if they lived in the new state of Italy then they should all speak the same dialect rather than the dialect of their region or home-town. And lots of people resisted this idea.
Another type of identity that nationalists had to talk people into minimizing in favor of ethnicity was religious identity – and this is something we’ve seen already in A Song for Arbonne where this is part of Galbert de Garsenc’s villainy. But here Germany is a great example. Germany also wasn’t a state – wasn’t a country – until 1871. In this case, nationalists had to convince people in Bavaria and people in Prussia that they were the same people – the same nation – because they spoke the same language, even though they had different religions and those religions were something that their great-grandparents had tried to kill each other over.
This belief in nationalism was everywhere in the nineteenth century, but it always faced resistance and challenges. We can still ask ourselves whether the United States is a nation? Right? Are we a single unified state with a single shared identity? Or are we a federation of fifty independent states with a plurality of identities? And the American Civil War was about this question. The southern states that seceded and formed the Confederate States of America believed that the U.S. was a federation that they could opt out of. The states that remained disagreed, and there was a war about this.
And we can even see the move to form the Confederate States of America as a nationalist move. Elites in the South saw themselves as part of a different culture – a different ethnic group – than elites in the North. This was largely wrapped up in the morality of slavery, but there were other elements to it as well. And because they felt like they had a distinct culture they wanted to exercise their right to national-self-determination – that third component of nationalism – and we fought an extremely bloody war about it.
Now, as I said, we live in a nationalist world – we live in a world shaped by the belief system of nationalism – everyone has a national identity whether they want one or not. But exporting this idea to the High Middle Ages is entirely anachronistic, and we can return to talking about the political boundaries of Western Christendom for an illustration of this. Today we think of England and France as nations, but around the year 1200 this was simply not true. England was part of a much larger political community that included Wales, Ireland, Brittany, southwestern France, and Normandy – and all of it was ruled by a French-speaking political elite who owned property in many of these regions.
And this type of situation existed almost everywhere in Western Christendom during the High Middle Ages. Italy was divided and multi-ethnic, and the King of Aragon lived mostly in Catalonia rather than Aragon because he was also the Count of Barcelona. There was no sense, either, that all French-speaking people ought to be members of a single political community, or that all German-speaking people should, and so on, though this was certainly the dream of nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalists around the world.
But Kay takes this belief system for granted, though I’m sure he knows that it’s anachronistic for the Middle Ages. Kay shows us a Germany that is united under a single strong king and shows us an Italy that isn’t a part of the same political community as Germany, though in fact it frequently was. But the clearest instance of Kay’s anachronistic nationalism has to do with the peace treaty between Gorhaut and Valensa. The king of Valensa appears briefly in the book to explain that although he wants Arbonne to win the war with Gorhaut, he can’t offer any help. And during his explanation he says that since Gorhaut has ceded a huge chunk of territory to Valensa, he is busy repopulating this territory. He says that he has to consolidate his hold on the land by getting Valensan farmers to move in and replace the Gorhautian farmers who have all left their land to live on the other side of the new political boundary.
So what Kay envisions here is that if you are Gorhautian you can’t – or at least probably won’t want to – live in Valensa. And this is certainly the idea that we have now – we can think of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the invention of Turkey as a nation in the 1920s as an example. During this time about a million and a half people moved from Turkey to Greece because they weren’t ethnically Turkish – and in doing so they gave up ancestral farms and homes and even abandoned whole villages or city neighborhoods to do so.
But this is an absurd idea for the High Middle Ages where political boundaries change all the time but nothing else does – if you’re a serf farming some land, your identity doesn’t change just because a political boundary has changed or you have a new lord. Indeed, the serfs and even the few free farmers were part of the object of conquest – you wanted the farmers as much as you wanted the farms.
Okay, that’s a lot about nationalism but it’s all been kind of a pre-amble to what I really want to say about A Song for Arbonne and its relationship with the actual Albigensian Crusade. The High Middle Ages are really the birth of the modern world – most of our public institutions develop during this time, such as universities and hospitals, but also the idea of the state – that is, modern government. At the beginning of the year 1000, the kingdom of France was really just the city of Paris, but by the time of the Black Death the kingdom of France includes almost all of the territory that is today considered France. And the kings of France acquired most of this territory around the year 1200 in two important conquests. The first was Normandy, which was taken from the kings of England – and this is really the historical analog to the treaty with Valensa. And the other is the Albigensian Crusade, which brought an enormous amount of territory under the control of the king of France, and all of this has to be administered through new techniques of government that develop into the state bureaucracies we all live with today. And there’s a great book about this by the massively important scholar Joseph Strayer titled On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State – it’s one of my favorite books of all time.
Finally – and I mean it – this conquest was an important moment in the development of modern nationalism because over time it erased Occitanian culture and replaced it with French culture because the conquest came in the form of a Crusade – an attack on the divergent religious practices of southern France. Without this aspect, the French state may have continued to develop as a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual state. So, the Albigensian Crusade was a significant event, the effects of which are still with us. And I love what Kay has done with this idea – I love how he has taken some core ideas from a handful of historians and turned them into a fantasy novel … which then turned me into a medieval historian. And I think this is a good note on which to move into Strengths and Weaknesses.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Now this type of world-building that Kay does is for me a real strength of this book and just about everything he’s written since then. Kay creates a fully realized speculative world that is populated by a culturally diverse cast of characters – even though our plot takes place on a rather small geo-political stage, we feel as if we know all about the wider world because of this.
And really it’s his characters who are the greatest strength of Kay’s writing. Every character has a complicated – perhaps overly complicated – emotional life. Everyone is carrying around a lifetime of baggage and it shows in all their actions and the way that they perceive the actions of others. Every conversation, every action, and every thought is full of emotional significance for Kay’s characters and he writes all of this beautifully.
But this is perhaps a double-edged sword, and I have to say that the book’s biggest weakness is the depiction of characters’ love lives. In particular Blaise – our protagonist – is romantically or sexually involved with three women – and really, we could get up to five if we want to be loose with our terminology – and it’s all a bit much and none of it is ever consequential. The plot of the book – and even Blaise’s own character arc – could have progressed in exactly the same manner without this element, and I think it would have been improved.
Even more so, the love life of the Arbonnais aristocrat Bertran de Talair is absurd. Betran is haunted by the death of the love of his life and the murder of his infant child by that woman’s husband, Urte de Miraval. And I like this – there’s a real Gothic element to this family tragedy, and it nicely sets up an important element in the theme of patriotism. But Bertran’s mechanism for coping with this loss is to sleep with as many women as possible – and this is a behavior he keeps up for more than twenty years. Kay writes Bertran as if he’s utterly heart-broken, as if we’re supposed to feel sorry for him that he has to constantly have one-night-stands because his true love is dead … but it just doesn’t work for me. In fact, I find it remarkably unsympathetic and even tedious.

Unresolved Question

Wow, okay, that’s a long review – it’s our longest yet and I’m sure it will hold the record for more than a little while.
But even with as much time as I spent on this book, there are some important aspects that I left out. One that really intrigues me is the theme of fate and free will. Kay gives us a lot of this near the end of the book when Galbert de Garsenc gives his final villainous monologue in which he explains that even though he’s going to die, everything that his son Blaise has ever done has been because he manipulated him into it – even declaring himself king. There is also the presence of magic in this world – something I’ve left out until now – which largely comes in the form of visions of the future.
I hope you’ll talk with me about this theme and about the others I’ve spent more time on. And we can talk about the poetry, too, and the references to Kay’s first major work, the Fionavar Tapestry.
Thanks for reading! And special thanks for talking with me about this book I love so much! This review was transcribed from an episode of Atoz: A Speculative Fiction Book Club Podcast. If you're interested, you can check it (and other episodes) out here: Apple| Spotify| Amazon | Website
submitted by Claytemple_Media to Fantasy

What’s Your Ranking of the Anime You’ve Watched?

What’s Your Ranking of the Anime You’ve Watched?
I never thought I’d see the day where I would be crazy for anime. It’s weird because just two years ago, I hated anime. Then I finally went in with a more open mind and here I am, eating it all up. So while I can’t exactly call myself an anime purist, since I haven’t seen every anime in the book, I have watched a good chunk of anime to consider myself an anime fan. Here is my own personal ranking of every anime I have watched from worst to best. I would like to see your rankings too! Now I am well aware that there are a lot of you who have watched too much anime to count, so I can say you can at least include ten anime in your ranking, unless you want to go all out of course. Anyway, onto the countdown!
My ranking of all the anime I’ve watched:
27.) Okaa-san Online (Or Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?)
Starting with my list is this Milfsekai anime – a blend between being an Isekai anime, while having a milf in it. When I was in a waifu group on Facebook, and a few other anime fangroups as well, the main milf character was memed and talked about everywhere. I grew pretty curious about it and gave it a shot. It’s not good. It was so bad that I couldn’t even finish it. While it had a good idea, by having a main protagonist willingly going to the RPG world, and by trying to be a wholesome bond story between a mother and a son, it executes this idea very miserably by falling more into incest territory. The other characters are very stale and stereotypical too. You got the pure and innocent cinnamon bun of the party. You got the hotheaded tsundere. When it tries to do any fanservice scenes, it doesn’t feel like fanservice. More like fan-disservice. Either way, this anime was definitely not worth all the hype.
26.) Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts
This anime is… okay. I feel like it is copying a certain anime but I can’t put my finger on which anime it is. The characters are meh. I feel like everyone is a typical stereotype trope we’ve seen a thousand times in other anime. We have the love triangle between a main male protagonist, a tsundere and a sweeter girl. The lesbian yandere moments did hook me in at first with how hilarious it was, but then it became too much. In fact, it tries to cram a bit of everything. So much so that it becomes exhausting. The battle scenes are not all that impressive and the way the main character’s sister is so attracted to her own brother makes me… a little uncomfortable. Either way, this isn’t really a good anime. It’s fine to pass the time but definitely far from one of the bests.
25.) Citrus
So in this list, you will find a couple of yuri anime. This, unfortunately, was the very first yuri anime I watched and I will say this, it left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. The only likable character in this show is Yuzu, and she is too pure and innocent for the cruel world of Citrus. The story is basically about two stepsisters who fall in love with each other. I can’t get passed the pseudo-incest in this series. Along with that, I hated how Yuzu began to fall in love with Mei after being sexually assaulted. That is basically Stockholm Syndrome. I mean, I guess the girl-on-girl scenes are hot to watch, but if you’re looking for a genuinely good romance story, you will not find one here. I began reading the manga and while it is a little bit better, it’s still rapey in some parts which I don’t like.
24.) Tokyo Ghoul
I gotta say, it started with such promise. The concept of ghouls that have to feed on human flesh trying to live peacefully in Tokyo is a fascinating idea. And the conflicts they have with humans and other ghouls make you really think. But partway through the series, things go sideways and characters make decisions that seem really out of character for them and the story just goes down the drain. The series started out great, but just couldn’t carry it through. Season 2 was also so bad, I couldn’t even finish it.
23.) Death Note
So I was one of those poor unfortunate souls who got introduced to the story through the Netflix adaption first which left a bad impression for me. However, being told that the anime is so much better, I decided to give it a shot and… it was okay. The concept and setting was good. A book that can kill anyone who’s full name is written in by a guy who becomes the villain of his own story is a pretty decent plot. However, the execution was meh. I guess you could say it was a little too goth and emo for my taste. I could never stand Light, although L was a pretty cool character. Overall, while I did find this anime pretty good, it is one of the last anime on my list for a good reason.
22.) Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid
This is one of the few yuri anime on this list and also the only one I had to watch with my door locked. Seriously, I was shocked that this isn’t even a hentai due to how ecchi it was (If you can even CONSIDER it that!). The story and concept is also extremely bizarre. Basically there is this island of lesbians who are divided into to two. When one of them is sexually stimulated, they turn into a weapon. Well, I will say one thing, it’s got nearly every yuri fetish fanservice covered in the book. If you came to get turned on, and yuri is one of your main fetishes, this is the perfect anime for that. If you come for a good story, you may want to keep on looking. The animation of the fight scenes are not terrible though. However, eventually the fanservice will become too much in the way of the action. Then again, it is a fanservice anime exclusively for yuri fans so again, if you want a good yuri fanservice anime, this is perfect for that.
21.) High School of the Dead
So, being a sucker for zombie apocalypse stories (I don’t care how oversaturated the genre is, I just love this genre.), I’ve been dying for an anime focused on the zombie apocalypse. Now, I was extremely shocked when I found out that there was only one anime that actually has zombies in it, while other anime like Attack on Titan, Kabenari of the Iron Fortress and Tokyo Ghoul were only inspired by the zombie apocalypse genre. So I looked at the title and it is even titled as your typical Romero zombie film (Series) by having “of the Dead” in it. So when I got down to watching this anime, I finally got a zombie apocalypse anime… and something else. So this anime has more than just zombies. It features high school teenagers as survivors and the main characters (I mean, what else would you expect from a title with “Highschool” in it?) and this anime has a LOT of fanservice. Like a LOT. On one scene, you could be watching our survivors kicking ass and being badasses and in the next, you get a close-up shot of boobs in your face with some questionable boob physics. (Damn, what was going through the animators’ minds when animating those!?) I noticed the anime started to become self-aware so they just kept it in as a running gag. So why do I like this anime? Because it’s just so much damn fun! Look, it may be over-the-top with its ecchiness and fanservice, but as a zombie apocalypse story as a whole, it delivers perfectly! It shows the fall of society, the corruption of humanity and our characters having to abandon their humanity in order to protect each other from the horrors of the apocalypse. My favourite character Kohta Hirano was also a blast to watch. He was perfect zombie apocalypse character, as well as Saeko (Who is perfect waifu material imo). Hirano spent most of his days being a nerd so he made a weapon on the outbreak, and his days as a COD gamer and his shooting range practice really payed off for the apocalypse. Saeko is the type of character who loves to inflict violence and murder, so the zombie apocalypse was the perfect opportunity for her to unleash her inner-psychopath. I hope that Hirano and the tsundere Saya Takagi get together. However, the reason this anime isn’t higher is because again, the fanservice could still get too much and Alice as the Loli was questionable but overall, this was still a fun anime.
20.) Kabenari of the Iron Fortress
If you’re looking for a good horror zombie apocalypse anime without the ecchi like High School of the Dead, this is the closest we’re gonna get. Like what many other people say about this anime, the first half is brilliant, with such an excellent concept. However, the second half was so awful, with a very terrible villain. It tries to be something different rather than sticking with what was already good to begin with. Either way, it’s still well animated and the zombie aspects of this show is well done. If you’re looking for a character and story driven show like Attack on Titan, avoid this show. If you want a mindless zombie apocalypse show, check it out.
19.) Attack on Titan: Junior High
This is a fun anime. After watching the main show, I’ve found clips of these on YouTube. So at first, I thought it was just fan animation with good voice editing until I found this was an official anime! An official parody made by the same creator with the same voice actors! I gave this anime a watch and I really enjoyed it! With how dark and gritty the main show is, this was an amazing breather. I also loved how they also took each characters’ personality and cranked them up to eleven. I’ve had so many laughs through this anime and I still hope a Season 2 will be released. I’d recommend this anime to anyone who’s a fan of the original show while also being a fan of meta-humour where a story makes fun of itself.
18.) Isekai Quartet
Much like Attack on Titan: Junior High, this is an anime I thought was just a fan series made on YouTube, until I saw it was a legit real anime with the actual voice actors from their respective shows. It is also a crossover show of four main Isekai series – RE: Zero, KonoSuba, Overlord and Tanya the Evil. The only show here that I watched, however, was KonoSuba. So what do I think of the show? It was a heck of a lot of fun! So much so that it made me want to watch the other shows on this list. This is how I began to become a little more interested in the Isekai genre of anime.
17.) The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Ignoring the name, Tanya isn’t really evil. This is one of the anime that I watched because of Isekai Quartet. You will find all the main four anime on this list. Unfortunately, this one is my least favourite. I still enjoyed it though. I really did love the whole World War I type of setting, rather than your typical fantasy-type of Isekai world. The action scenes are pretty cool and Tanya the Evil (Though she’s not really evil but definitely messed up) was a fun ruthless character. The rest of the cast were great too.
16.) Overlord
Yet another anime that I got introduced to through Isekai Quartet. This is definitely an interesting Isekai anime since it actually has the main character roleplaying in an RPG. The story in a nutshell is basically this. Imagine being so levelled up, that you are practically a god at this point. Now imagine being sent all the way back to level one, while still keeping your stats. That’s basically the premise and setting of the show. It’s also unique because it focuses on a cast of characters who are actually villains. Ainz, the main villain protagonist, actually does start off as a more antivillain, but he becomes more evil and ruthless as the series progressed. I wish that the show kept many dark stuff from the manga though. Albeddo is also an excellent waifu. Still, while season 1 and 3 were pretty good, season 2 was not so great.
15.) Bloom Into You
Where do I even begin with this one? Well, when it comes to lesbian romance, this anime is by far the best story ever written about this. I’ve seen a few other yuri anime like Citrus, Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid and Sakura Trick, but none of them are nearly as great as Bloom Into You. Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid was so ecchi and nearly so much like hentai, that I had to lock my door just to finish watching it. Sakura Trick is mainly there for girl-on-girl kissing… Lots and lots of kissing… And Citrus was just the complete opposite of what a good lesbian love story should be by giving us our main character being force kissed on the first episode and her becoming a victim to Stockholm Syndrome throughout the series. Sorry but I just really hated that. However, Bloom Into You completely blew me away. I don’t even want to count it as a yuri anime (Since yuri focuses more on sexualizing girls love, whether implicitly or explicitly.) as this is definitely a shoujo-ai. It is more focused on the emotional and romantic side of a lesbian love story and makes us care for the characters. Overall, this anime was just brilliant and this is coming from someone who doesn’t normally like romance stories. However, as someone looking for a decent LGBT anime, this definitely stands out as the best one. This is a love story about self-realization too, which is likely the concept they were going for. The characters Yuu and Touko are so well written and I really hope a Season 2 gets made some day. If anyone wants a decent yuri/shoujo-ai anime, I’d highly recommend this one. And while the dub isn’t terrible, (The voices for Yuu and Touko are really good) I’d highly recommend you watch the subbed version.
14.) Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Such a fun slice-of-life show. All about an office worker who hires a dragon to be her maid, that in turn is madly in love with her. Kanna Kumui is super adorable and Tohru is such a hot dragon waifu. The other characters are also a ton of fun with some great character development. The comedic timing and writing is well done, having me laughing all the time. I think it is a wonderful series for its original story, plot, theme, and of course the enticing opening music to the episodes. It fits in our daily lives as to why we go through life with so many obstacles barring our way. Torhu, and Kanna must as well if they are to fit in without their horns, and tail to get in the way of success as well as trying to tame or rather domesticate another dragon who loves to play video games. A dragon named Fanfir. A legendary creature with vast power who would love nothing more than to wipe out our existence. The only thing that stops him is video games. Trials, and tribulations follow these dragons where ever they go, and Torhu loves Kobayashi with every ounce of her immortal soul. So does Kanna in her own way. It teaches about friendship, love, sadness, mistakes, and successes in tiny amounts but it is enough for these dragons to continue on living among us even for a short while. Definitely recommended for those looking for a nice slice-of-life anime.
13.) Given
While I do love the yuri and shoujo-ai genre of anime and manga, there’s also another that’s a guilty pleasure of mine, and that’s yaoi/shounen-ai. Yes, even though I’m a guy, I also like me some boys’ love. However, this is a very hard subgenre to come by because when it comes to yaoi in anime, nearly all of them have been pretty bad. They either fall too hard into the Seme/Uke trope and/or they make the uke look like a shota (I’m looking at YOU Superlovers!!!). Along with that, the yaoi anime I’ve seen has the seme abusing the uke into falling in love with them. And whenever a gay couple are in an anime, it’s an anime that isn’t exclusively yaoi like Yuri on Ice, etc. Thankfully, this anime manages to be a romance for all the right reasons. Finally! A yaoi anime that actually feels like a romance story rather than a disturbing age-difference abusive story! The main characters are each very likable, with Haruki being my favourite. The music is great too, with the final song being so damn emotional. It’s such a wholesome yaoi anime that I’d recommend.
12.) Cowboy Bebop
So when asked what the best dubbed anime is, nearly everyone points at Cowboy Bebop and I can see why. The voice cast really bring the personality and charisma to the characters! And the anime itself is just a fun ride! From the characters to the action scenes, this anime never failed to amaze me. Steve Blum (The guy who voices Wolverine) as Spike was also great. The other characters like badass Jet Black, cute Ed and waifu Faye Valentine were just amazing. Overall, there isn’t much else I can say except that I had a lot of fun with this anime.
11.) Steins;Gate
This show started off so painfully slow. However, I heard that it was considered one of the greatest anime of all time so I decided to push on through. Then once I got to Episode 8 onwards, I couldn’t stop watching and it became one of the most addicting anime I have ever watched. This show dives deeply into the concepts of time travel, and realistically – as well as believably – tackles at how there could be many consequences at messing around with the natural order of time and space. Along with that, it’s about a group of likable characters who work to uncover a conspiracy in order to defeat an evil organization known as SERN. While the English dub can be considered okay at best, I thought Okabe and Makise’s voices were good. It was also cool hearing Okabe’s voice having a similar mannerism and style as the Doctor from Doctor Who. Okabe is really likable and Makise is a very unique type of tsundere, as she’s the type of tsun who doesn’t physically assault the main character and the insults also go both ways between her and Okabe. Definitely a must-watch for all anime fans out there looking for something different and addicting. The first half is excruciatingly slow, but get passed that and it will all be worth it.
10.) KonoSuba
The brilliance of this show is that, rather than sticking the main character with a bunch of girls that he doesn't deserve, Kazuma is given a "harem" of girls that are exactly what he deserves. This is easily one of the funniest anime I have ever watched and the first official Isekai anime that I enjoyed. The main characters are such huge subversions on the usual main characters we see in other anime that that is where most of the comedy comes from. Kazuma is actually kind of a scumbag but he does get what he deserves. Aqua, who was set up to be the classical tsundere ends up being a useless idiot. Megumin, who was set up to be the adorable loli ends up being a bit of a likable brat. Darkness, who is set up to be a badass warrior ends up being one freaky masochist. In this show, there are a very few normal characters to help balance out the crazy such as best girl Wiz, as well as Yunyun, Chris, etc. It’s so much fun to watch and definitely recommended for those who want to see a hilarious Isekai anime (Or just comedy in general).
9.) Beastars
I am NOT a furry… BUT… I’d make an exception for this anime. While on paper, one may assume it’s just an adult version of Zootopia, it actually goes a lot deeper than that. While it does share some similarities, such as having two groups of animals known as predators and prey living amongst each other, that’s where all the similarities ends. In Beastars, it has the two groups living among each other, but the carnivores always have a high chance of eventually snapping to devour the herbivores, so the herbivores have every right to be afraid of them. Though there are some carnivores who don’t like the idea of turning on the herbivores but even they get the short end of the stick by being feared. Take the main protagonist, Legosi, for example. He is a timid and kind wolf, but many other herbivores are terrified of him. Then there’s the deuteragonist, Haru. She’s a rabbit so everyone treats her as cute and defenceless and she hates it. There are many other complex characters in here such as Louis. This is also a fully CG-animated anime and yet it works so well. It has some terrifying moments but overall is a really well-done anime. I really hope a second season comes soon. Another thing to note is that the opening is one of the catchiest and well animated I’ve ever seen too.
8.) RE: Zero
Isekai Quartet did NOT prepare me for this anime… It didn’t prepare me… It didn’t prepare me… With how light-hearted Isekai Quartet was, I was NOT expecting this show to be this dark! Still, of all the four Isekai Quartet anime, RE: Zero was the best one. On paper, it looks like a typical Isekai anime with a bunch of cute anime girls. Inside though, it is a psychological horror. This anime is probably the darkest anime I've seen yet. It’s on a whole new level of sadism. Subaru... My poor poor Subaru... No wonder he got the nickname Sufferu. The marbeasts are legitimately terrifying. The first one we encounter is the White Whale, which sounds just horrifying. What it does to its victims is even worse. Once it eats you, you become erased from existence. The great rabbit is also horrifying. The villains are no joke, especially Elsa and Beetlegeuse. It was so hard to watch and yet so investing that I couldn't stop watching. It still has best girl, Rem, and many other cute girls like Petra, Ram, Emelia and Beatrice. Also, Subaru is easily one of the most likable main protagonists I’ve seen in an anime. All that comedy and lightheartedness in Isekai Quartet misled me in more ways than I could have ever imagined... Season 2 ended a little too abruptly so I hope Season 3 comes out soon. Regardless, this is my favourite Isekai anime I’ve ever seen.
7.) Toradora
So when it comes to anime, normally I’d skip any romance anime. I’m just not into romance and drama. However, Toradora surprised me on every level. So after playing Doki Doki Literature Club and loving the tsundere trope, I decided to try and find a decent anime that follows the trope of having a tsundere love story. After searching for a while, I eventually found the perfect one that would eventually become one of my favourite show I’ve ever seen. Toradora is an amazing romantic comedy that everyone should watch. The characters are amazing and how the main characters’ personalities bounce off each other is very well done. Taiga and Ryuji are amazing characters. Ryuji is a cool character and how he endlessly tries to help Taiga is great. As for Taiga, she’s one of my top waifus! She is the tsundere queen. She’s small, cute and straight up amazing but can also be very violent, brash and proud. Definitely the best tsundere. And as for the supporting cast, they’ve all had their fair share of character development too. Most notably is Ami Kawashima. She started off as a manipulative spoiled brat and turned from a bit of an antagonist towards Taiga to a supporting friend and became more open and truthful. As for the romantic comedy aspect of the anime, it really owns that title. Taiga and Ryuji are polar opposites on every level but this pairing worked so well. When they finally became a couple, I was very happy. That post credit scene in the series finale still gets me everytime.
6.) Yuru Yuri
This is a really fun anime to watch. It is a slice-of-life comedy and a decent one at that. As the name states, this is a Shoujo-Ai/Yuri anime. However, that’s what most people expect. In fact, the yuri moments aren’t even the main focus. It’s really just a story about a club of girls that does crazy antics after school and follows a group of other characters. I love nearly all the characters in this anime. Kyoko, Yui, Akarin, Himawari, Sakurako, Chitose, Akane and Ayano were my favourites! I especially love how the anime plays with the decoy protagonist trope with Akari, where she was supposed to be the main protagonist but that role ends up going to Kyoko instead. And as for the yuri moments when they do happen, they’re well done and don’t even feel forced. Each girl has a certain crush on another girl. Chitose has a crush on Ayano, who has a crush on Kyoko, who has a crush on Chinatsu, who has a crush on Yui, and so on. The pairings are all interesting in their own ways. I also love how Ayano’s romance with Kyoko helped her character develop more. She learned to open up more. However, my OTP would have to be Himawari x Sakurako. The anime never failed to make me laugh. I still hope a Season 4 will be made because I’m just not done with the Yurus. I hope make a comeback soon!
5.) Attack on Titan
This was a hard piece to put on my list. In the beginning, before Season 3, this was much lower on my list but ever since that finale, Attack on Titan managed to beat Toradora on my list. What started off as an overhyped anime became an anime that is completely worth sitting through to the end. So being a sucker for apocalypse stories, this anime caught my attention. The Titans are basically just giant zombies. So for a while in Season 1, it took me some time to get completely into this show. I stopped midway through the Struggle for Trost arc because I just lost interest. But then the games came out and even my favourite YouTubers playing the games said the anime was excellent. I eventually came back to the anime and forced myself through most of Season 1 and I don’t regret it. This anime does a lot of things right. The first season gave us the characters, the plot set-ups and the clues to the mystery that was building up and when Season 2 came, I fell even more in love with the anime. Eren, who started off as annoying, became a really likable character from this season onwards. Armin had the best character development as his skills as a strategist really payed off from where he was originally a cowardly character. Other characters like Hange and Levi were great too (And both are my OTP pairing!). Season 2 became a big horror mystery story and I also loved the big twist with the identities of the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan. Next, Season 3A came and gave us something fresh and new – human-on-human warfare! What made this season unique was that unlike Titans, who are mindless and eat people because it’s in their nature, these humans have free-will and choice so they chose to be evil, which made the morality test for our main characters really intense. While I am mixed about Historia’s arc, everything else was good, including the biggest titan they’ve ever faced. Nightmare fuel indeed. However, what really made the anime was the second part to Season 3. We finally returned to the Titans and had all the mysteries solved. I won’t go further because it’s better watched. All I know is that I am extremely hyped for Season 4 next year.
4.) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
While going through the list of anime that I’ve been planning to watch, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood caught my eye. Considered one of the greatest anime ever created, how could I not check it out when binging through many anime? When I finally did get it, I noticed it had 64 episodes so I knew it was going to be a long watch. I chose to watch it anyway and I’ve only got one word to describe it… brilliant. At first, the first couple of episodes felt rushed but once I got passed them, the story perfectly picked up and fell more smoothly into place. The Elric Brothers are very likable in their own ways and their relationship really is the highlight in this action-adventure show. The show also has the best personified versions of the Seven Deadly Sins I’ve ever seen, the Homunculi, who also get defeated in awesome ironic ways that reflect their seven deadly sins. It has a great blend of everything. Drama, action, comedy and creepy moments. Every character serve their role perfectly and the final episodes were such an epic and satisfying conclusion. Easily one of the best things I’ve watched in a really long time, that it made me want to watch the 2003 show. While not as well animated, it was more darker in tone and the Homunculi are much better written (With the exception of Pride who is Wrath from Brotherhood).
3.) Spirited Away
This is the very first anime I’ve ever watched. Remember how I said you can add anime movies to your list as well? Well, I said that because I really needed to add this film. This was the anime that completely opened my mind towards anime in general. I mostly have the video game, Little Nightmares, to thank for this though. Watching a few gamers play the game, many said that the game reminded them a lot about Spirited Away. I grew curious so I searched for the anime. Just a quick note, this was during the era where I absolutely despised anime. Before, I heavily despised anime due to the artstyle ruining stuff in fandoms such as Creepypasta (Like turning characters such as Jeff the Killer, Eyeless Jack and so on into anime pretty boys), FNAF, Undertale, etc., that I just cringed when I saw anything anime related. I also didn’t like the lip-sync animation. However, I tried to go into this anime with a fresh open mind and all I need to say is… wow. This anime looks BEAUTIFUL. With the surreal designs of the characters, a really likable main protagonist and a very good plot, this is the one anime film that truly deserves to be seen by EVERY anime fan. In fact, I’d say show this to anyone to get them into anime.
2.) Mob Psycho 100
It took a long time for me to catch this awesome anime. After watching One-Punch Man, a lot of people have been recommending that I should watch Mob Psycho 100 since it was also created by ONE, the creator of One-Punch Man. When I saw this anime, I fell in love with it! First of all, the art style is very unique and the characters are very well written. Every character is unique in their own way. I love the main character and even Dimple, the evil spirit who follows Mob around. There were a lot of moments where I thought it was going to copy One-Punch Man but instantly shies away from that when you begin to suspect so. The comedy is very well done. What’s also very convenient is that when I just finished watching the entirety of Season One for the first time, episode one of Season Two was released so I could instantly jump to the next season! Season 2 was just as good, if not better than Season 1! Still, along with the catchy opening for Season One, amazing characters and well done writing, this anime definitely remains as one of the best things I’ve ever watched.
1.) One-Punch Man
So for a long time, I was never a fan of anime. However, let’s just say that I decided to try one more time to give it a shot and to this day, I am glad I did. I realized how much I was missing out on thanks to this amazing anime. Since I am a major superhero fan, I wanted to go for this anime. Dragon Ball Z could’ve been my pick for superhero but because of its complicated amount of seasons, episodes, etc. I decided to skip it. But I found One-Punch Man. It only had twelve episodes and the plot idea was actually interesting. A guy becomes so strong that he can win any fight with just one punch. So when I saw this anime, I instantly fell in love with it! It was a great mix of comedy, drama, action, etc. The score was great and the characters are all great too. Even Saitama, the guy who has gotten emotionless due to becoming too strong, is an amazing character. The anime was so good, that I decided to read the manga to continue the story and I don’t regret it. The world is amazing and I even love the villains in the series, even if most of them don’t survive after one hit. The first season left an amazing impression on me and it is my most rewatched anime to this day. This was truly the anime that got me into anime. So I began waiting for Season 2 and when it was released, it was also amazing. Yes, the animation and design quality wasn’t as good in Season 2, but there was one saving grace for that Season and that was my favourite character and villain – Garou! His character was just so well written. Overall, whenever someone asks what’s my favourite anime, I say One-Punch Man. Let’s also not forget the kickass soundtrack. I listen to both the theme songs every week!
So that’s my ranking of every anime I’ve watched so far! How about you guys? What’s your ranking of every anime you’ve seen from worst to best? Also, if you’ve watched too many to count, then you can limit the number to a minimum of top ten rather to make it simple.
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