Friday, June 13, 2014

Six Fantasy Anime With A Modern Hero

I think this theme started off with Mark Twain who wrote a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.  The first great time travel novel on this same theme was Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp.  Both of these are time travel novels where the hero goes back in time and introduces the modern technology of their age into a medieval time in the first case and the Roman Empire in the second.  Years ago, a series of fantasy novels, with the first one being the Doomfarers of Coromonde, also had a wizard attempting to summon a Sherman tank to fight a dragon too. 

I've also blogged about Japanese time travel movies here, but this post is going to be about anime that have a modern protagonist in a medieval fantasy setting.  For whatever reason, there have been many anime showing with this theme in the last few years.  Many of these can be seen on Crunchyroll for free.
There wasn't a Sherman tank versus a dragon, but it would have been good if it had happened.
A core characteristic that defines the six anime I am going to talk about is that they involve a "modern thinking" hero who is catapulted into another universe and they use modern tech / thinking to save the day.  I do make an exception in one case, but I'll explain it when I get there.  So here are six anime that you could enjoy on this theme.  One interesting theme across all of these anime is that they talk about economics and trade - modern versus the old fashioned way of small business.
Log Horizon
This is another anime like Sword Art or .Hack where humans are trapped into a fantasy computer gaming universe.  What sets this one apart is that has more of a role playing mechanics focus and not just combat and characters.  The series moves along pretty good like Sword Art, but the main reason that I have included it is because the characters start to change their medieval setting with inventions based on what they knew from their world.  This begins to change the game and how the NPCs within the game interact.  I was very entertained by this series and the great thinking that went into it.

Ambition of Oda Nobuna
A high school student named Yoshiharu Sagara finds himself back int the warring states period of medieval Japan.  All he has is his cellphone and probably a pocket full of yen (assuming he didn't blow it at a vending machine).  Fortunately he loves the videogame Nobunaga's Ambition (I only played the one on the original B/W Gameboy version 1 which is nothing like what he has played).  This allows him to apply his knowledge of upcoming events to help Oda Nobuna.  Nobuna you ask, not Nobunaga?  That's the big twist in this anime, as all the historical main figures are now women.  Plenty of action, fan service (kind of detracts), and the hero needs to invent stuff to save the day.

OutBreak Company
This show is my second favorite on the list despite the fan service in it.  In a way, the fan service fits in very well, as it is pretty integrated into the otakusphere, but a little can go a long way.  This show does do some social commentary and such on education, human rights, etc., but it is very much the light version of the discussion.  Shinichi Kano is a reclusive otaku who is recruited by the Japanese government to spread otaku culture to another world they have discovered via a mysterious gateway.  In this medieval world of many races such as humans, lizardmen, elves, dwarves, etc., magic also exists and so does a powerful central empire.  Otaku culture is supposed to undermine their values and promote trade with this otherworld.  Shinichi establishes a school to teach Japanese and otaku culture which provides many plot devices.  I actually enjoyed this show because it was just fun, kind of stupid too, but it was fun.  There are some cool scenes with a maid visit to Akihabara, modern weapons versus a dragon, and much more.  There's even a beach episode and every character stereotype you can think of.  Ending was pretty good too.

Familiar of Zero
This anime has a boy named Saito Hiraga summoned into a magical world by Louise, a noble born wizard with apparently few abilities.  Louise is your classic tsundere heroine who treats Saito like poo, but they establish a bond of love in the many hijinks that follow.  You find out about the truth behind Louise's power, and Saito can command weapons like the Japanese Zero and the explosive wand, not to mention he has a cool talking sword.  This only covers season one of the anime and I really liked the conclusion to this one.

I Couldn't Become A Hero, 
so I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job
This anime and the next one, Maoyu, both involve the Demon King or the Demon King's daughter in a fantasy world where demon is pitting against human.  Raul Chaser is a now unemployed hero, as the demon kingdom has collapsed after the demon king was slain, so he is an unemployed hero who needs a job.  Raul is a pretty good hero who is working at a magical appliance store like a Best Buy or Yodobashi Camera.  There is technology involved, but all the tech is powered by magic.  The economics of big box stores, the exploitation of demon workers, and even Lawson type convenience stores all play a role in this show.  There is lots of modern thinking in place for this otherwise medieval society.  Warning, plenty of fan service too.  Nice ending again, something that is always good for an anime.

The world's greatest hero, who is only called Hero, fights his way into the castle of the Demon King so he can kill him and end the war between demons and humans.  Instead, he is recruited by the cute female demon king to help her find a better way to end the war and allow everyone to live in true peace.  The modern protagonist is the Demon King who becomes the Crimson Scholar.  She is very forward thinking and wants to avoid any bloodshed.  She also seems to be a treasure trove of information about economics, modern farming techniques like four crop rotation, new food crops, and other inventions.  I have no idea why the demons haven't wiped the humans off the map as they seem to have the most awesome library of knowledge that has information passed down from the ancients.  This series reminded me a bit of Spice and Wolf as the merchant traders play a big role in it later on.  Some fan service, but this was a very well done show that I blitzed through on DVD. Nice ending.  BTW, Hero is sooooo powerful that he can defeat armies by himeself, but he doesn't want to hurt anyone either (just wait for the ending for a demo of his powers).

More Anime Posts here.

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