Hi, been a while since I last posted on this blog. I’ve been planning this post for a while, and hopefully it will be interesting. Today, I will bring you guys several recommendation across ACGL (anime, comics, galgame, and light novels) spectrum.
It is usually easy to seek recommendation in the same medium. For example, for anime rec, you can just pop into myanimelist’s recommendation forum and ask for rec according to your criteria. The same goes for manga, light novel, or visual novel; you just have to ask in the relevant forum. However, one thing that I’ve rarely seen is recommendation from one medium to the other. To give an example, if I liked Code Geass, can I find similar stories in VN or light novel…?
I am going to tell you, yes, absolutely.
Moreover, all recommendation that I am going to enumerate here are considered classics in their own respective fields. Even if you have never experienced a particular medium before (probably visual novel/galgame or light novel), this is a good place to start.
1. Gintama & Futurama
So despite what I said, I decided to start off my first recommendation with a Japanese anime and an American cartoon. Well, anything goes, right?
Gintama started as a manga in 2003, and was since adapted into anime in several seasons starting from 2006. Futurama debuted on TV way back in 1999, and came to an temporary halt in 2001 after just 4 seasons. The series is revived on TV, however, in 2007, and aired 3 more seasons until its finale in 2013. At first sight, one can immediately observe that both shows have 2 main male characters, with 1 main female character, in their posters. Of course, the similarity doesn’t just stop there. Both are episodic comedy parody series that follow one principal and one principal only: anything goes.
The setup allows for such flexibility in story-telling. In Futurama, the protagonist, Fry, is a 20th century man who was frozen and essentially time-traveled into the 31st century. He had no choice but to work in a universal delivery company, exploring the most dangerous part of universe on an everyday basis. In Gintama, the protagonist, Gin, is an Edo Samurai whose entire country has been invaded and occupied by Amanto, or space aliens. As he has lost his job as samurai, he opened a yorozoya house, where he and his team do all kind of odd jobs upon request. Already, both shows have such broad and crazy setup. Literally anything can happen, so you’d never know what to expect, ranging from popularity contest, space conquering, holiday gathering, to sudden, emotional flashbacks. Normally, I don’t like to watch episodic series in that they lack a coherent main story line, but pure comedy parody series with such crazy setup are an exception.
Parallels in how characters are presented also draws affinity between the two series. The protagonists, at first, seem to possess all kinds of negative qualities that a human being could have, spending their days lazing around the neighborhood. Unlike the deluge of Mary-Sue protagonist that seem to encompass all positive qualities in shows nowadays, Fry and Gin are usually lazy, sometimes dumb, indulging in bizarre habits, occasionally revels in others’ misery, and always draw the short end of the stick in life. However, this is only on the surface. As the shows progress, audience will discover that, actually, there are a lot of good points about the protagonists and their entourage. This stark contrast is always done in powerful ways, making the characters real humans instead of characters endowed with many good attributes.
Finally, both series share the element of trying to make fun of everything that is waiting to be ridiculed, from our everyday habits, customs, culture, to just ways of how humans interact with each other, in a non-aggressive, fun way. Of course, Futurama mostly makes fun of American culture, while Gintama do Japanese, so it is sometimes hard to catch the humor if you are not familiar with the particular culture. Still, the key point is that there is so much comedy in both that you’d at least be able to catch some, and it would still be very funny. Ultimately, through their ridiculing of human nature, we could perhaps learn something about ourselves, and change for the better. I am very serious when I say this.
2. Code Geass & G-senjou no Maou
If you are an anime fan who is still active in recent years, you’d probably already watched an original anime called Code Geass, or at the very least, heard about it somewhere. Now, if you really absolutely loved Code Geass, right after you finished the anime you’d probably feel a big void in your heart. Where else can one finds such an entertaining and gripping tale of revenge, fraught with tension and theatrics? Some would, rightly so, suggest the anime Death Note. Of course, it doesn’t take a detective to see the similarities between them. Still others would recommend the anime Guilty Crown, written by the same script writer. In this case, one would disappointingly find that the similarities remain limited, if not only on the surface, with setup such as the king’s power, big robots action, blah blah blah. Today, I am going to take you guys on a different path. If you broaden your horizon, you will find that there is this one popular visual novel called G-senjou no Maou (Devil on the G-string) that will definitely satisfy your thirst for Code Geass.
What makes Code Geass so endearing is definitely not the mecha action. It is the drama, the theatrics, the high amount of tension, how characters pull ridiculously impossible yet brilliant moves against their opponents, and of course, Lelouch. Unfortunately, Lelouch is not in this visual novel, but we get the next best thing: a charismatic, mysterious criminal mastermind, self-styled Maou, or Devil, whose identity is shrouded in mystery even from the audience.
Instead of royal offspring acting as commanders trying to outwit one another in the battlefield as in Code Geass, we dig deep into the world of terrorist and yakuza in G-senjou. As the adopted son of a mafia boss, the protagonist, Kyousuke, obey his father’s every bidding. His peaceful day as an yakuza-in-training is disrupted when two individuals suddenly showed up in the city, a beautiful girl named Haru and an internationally powerful mafia known only as “Maou”. And so, along with Haru, Kyousuke begins an deadly cat-and-mouse game with maou, in an epic game of wits.
Without going into more details, I am going to assure you that the two stories are most similar in that they have the same “feels”. The suspense is there. A lot of mystery needed to be uncovered. Characters engage in deadly games of wits against each other, with high stakes. They pull off huge stunts when one least expect it. Some comic relief here and there, and then bang, plot twist again. Although the story is prone to some minor plot holes with careful inspection, just like Code Geass, the story overall is very well written and executed in a good pace. The conclusion ends in the most dramatic fashion possible.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that the voice actor for both Lelouch and Maou is Furukawa Jun?
For more info, refer to this post https://bunny1ov3r.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/first-experience-with-visual-novel-an-attempt-at-g-senjou-no-maou-review/
PS: I really meant to include a couple more recommendation in this post, but I got really lazy and still wanted to publish it today. I’ll call this post part I. Hopefully the next part will come soon with more interesting recommendation across mediums.