katmic (Level 10)

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Preparing a top ten protagonists list is a much harder task than a villains list, mostly because most protagonists stand at the centre of their series and, if one is that devoted or excited about a given anime or manga, it can be difficult to remain objective, to choose a hero because of the actions they performed in the year to make them that deserving, rather one’s personal adoration of a character.

And that is what i have tried to do, looking at this list, trying to determine just which character was really the most deserving of the title of top protagonist of 2013, as opposed to most awesome hero.

That being said i will not say that i achieved objectivity with this list, though i did try. Anyway, this is the list of greatest protagonists in anime and manga of 2013, at least as far as I am concerned:

1. HASHIRAMA SENJU (NARUTO MANGA)

Nothing less than a god among shinobi, a key component in Sasuke's supposed transformation, this including his actions alongside the current kage and shinobi to promote peace in the face of a great enemy. Is there a question with regards to who the biggest badass in manga has been this year? Precluding Madara of course.

2. EREN JEAGER (ATTACK ON TITAN ANIME)

While Attack on Titan is home to a cast of dazzling heroes, the anime bringing to life their hopes and struggles in a rather disturbing and violent light, there is something to be said about the odds Eren has contended with to acquire his position of importance in this struggle for survival, from his horrifying death at the hands of a titan to his miraculous and rather violent revival, to the hardships he endured under the hand of Levi and group, each time rising above to kick serious ass.

Eren personifies the typical shonen creed of never giving up like we haven’t seen in a while, the only member of his group to so bravely face the Titan assault on humanity with a glint of hope. Plus that final bout with the female titan was something to behold.

3. ITACHI UCHIHA (NARUTO)

It is difficult to talk about Itachi without fanboying over his awesomeness; this has been the year of the Uchiha if you think about it, and Itachi’s injection into the war turned a fairly average arc into something so much more, from his battle with Naruto, to his long awaited confrontation with Sasuke and final fight against Kabuto.

Anyone notice that every time Itachi opens his mouth, there is nothing but wisdom coming out; and the way he brought the innocence out of sasuke during their brief time together, that final moving episode that saw him finally exit from the world of the living on his own terms…Itachi rules, and that is my completely subjective opinion.

4. RAI (NOBLESSE MANHWA)

Noblesse wouldn’t be the awesome Manhwa it is without the presence of this noble hero; elegant, silent, Rai epitomizes the concept of absolute power, wielding the noblesse strength this year to levels yet to be imagined- tornadoes of blood? seriously?- yet showing a level of kindness and grace not many heroes can boast of.

Rai seems to have chosen 2013 to throw everything on the line for humanity, using an ability fueled by his own life force to unleash untold destruction to those that would harm his friends or any other member of the human race, quick to show his softer side, opening his arms even to those enemies that wished him ill, determined to find normalcy beyond his noble birth.

Also the only character on this list that can match Itachi blow for blow in the area of coolness and swag.

5. NARUTO UZUMAKI (NARUTO ANIME/MANGA)

I know, that’s a lot of Naruto characters on this list. But who can blame me, the series was on fire this year. With the prophecy of the hermit upon his shoulders Naruto has stood to pass the test of time, liberating the bijuu from the infamous tobito, uniting old enemies in the good fight against evil and standing at the front lines of the fourth great shinobi war; basically carrying the hope of humanity, reliving and surpassing his father’s legend and legacy… Uzumaki Naruto the true shinobi hero.

6. COMMANDER ERWIN (ATTACK ON TITAN MANGA)

While known as the man that stakes the lives of hundreds to save hundreds of thousands, seemingly a monster who so easily toys with human life, Erwin fights to see the day when humanity will strike back against the titans, losing an arm to fulfill this dream and really, the walled community's only hope of standing against their deadly foe. "One who cannot sacrifice anything cannot achieve anything"

7. SAITAMA (ONE PUNCH MAN MANGA)

SAITAMA is awesome. Considering that One Punch man is considered by many as the most idiotic manga of the year, it is difficult to understand the appeal of this crazy character unless you have had an opportunity to scroll through the mostly senseless pages of this manga.

Maybe it is Saitama’s…normalness, his lack of flashy persona, bold yet hilarious delivery of lines. I don’t know. Commending him on any heroic acts would be pointless though; after all they call him one punch man because he defeats all opponents with one punch.

8. KURAPIKA (HUNTERXHUNTER ANIME)

Thinking of Hunter X Hunter it is difficult to appreciate just how interesting a duo Gon and Killua have been to watch this year, that along side Hisoka, Kite and a whole host of interesting characters.

Yet it is Kurapika that somehow manages to stand above them all in 2013 and it is sad to learn that he doesn’t appear in the manga ever again, which means the Phantom troupe story line will not be resolved.

Whatever the case Kurapika was awesome this year in his role as crazed avenger, taking on phantom troupe, first singlehandedly and then as part of the Gon/Killua team during that hostage plan, ultimately placing his own life on the line to achieve the sort of impressive powers necessary to bring his arch foes down.

HXH this year saw Kurapika go to some really dark places and it is a shame we will not have the opportunity to bask in his presence again. I really must commend Togashi for his characters.

9. VIOLE/25TH BAAM (TOWER OF GOD MANHWA)

There is no denying the fact that Tower of God is one of the better manga series of the year, the story making constant leaps and bounds in its intriguing plot. What set Baam apart this year is the revival he perpetrated following previous tragedies as Fuge member Viole, no longer that meek child we met a few years back, but an immensely powerful shadow figure hidden behind a mysterious hood, seemingly taking out friend and foe in an attempt to achieve his dreams, clearly intent on crossing paths with the psychotic Rachel in the hope of resolving what i think he still believes was an accident.

Viole is the most transformative character of the year, undergoing unbelievable changes in order to confront his child hood friend. The way he balances his new duties with saving his old and new friends has made for some intense chapters in 2013.

10. SAJIN KOMAMURA (BLEACH MANGA)

Looking at Bleach in the past two years, it might seem difficult to pinpoint one particular character that has stood head and shoulder over all other combatants that have staked their lives to defeat the quincy invasion army.

But Komamura struck a nerve with me this year, probably the dullest and most uninteresting character in the entire series; yet Kubo has made a pattern out of redeeming his characters in this final arc and none has made a comeback as impressive as this wolf man.

It wasn’t merely the uniqueness of his power up but the heroic heart he displayed to us this year, the sacrifice he made to defend his home; really it would have been better if he had simply perished in battle rather than the fate he suffered.

WORTHY MENTION:

1. NEJI HYUGA (NARUTO MANGA)

Died protecting the hero of Konoha and the only hope for the survival of the shinobi world. What could be more heroic than that?

2. CAPTAIN LEVI (ATTACK ON TITAN ANIME)

Who didn’t nearly lose their head from excitement over that battle with the female Titan in the SNK anime? Truth be told i would have been happy to swap Eren for Levi if not for the fact that he hasn’t had as much presence, as much to do in the anime as Eren. That doesn’t detract from the force that is Levi.

3. AH GOU (FENG SHEN JI MANHWA)

The fellow's reliving his father's legacy, rising up to fight against the tyranny of the gods, invading the land of these supernatural beings to end humanity's long history of servitude to their kind, basically intent on changing the order of nature.

4. KEI KURONO (GANTZ)

Kei's record against humanity's greatest alien threats this year have set him apart as one of the planet's more impressive saviors.

5. JIN MORI ( THE GOD OF HIGH SCHOOL MANHWA)

Jin mori is strong, immensely powerful, not nearly as smart as he should be and kind at heart; basically the typical shonen hero, yet so much more as he struggles to overcome the supernatural system that governs his country and the world, this year defeating a wannabe god, learning of his heritage and, kind of like Ah Gou, invading the realm of the gods to reclaim his title of Monkey king.

6. MAOU SAMA (HATARAKOU MOU SAMA ANIME)

MAOU SAMAAAAAAA! Yes, this is totally subjective, on account of how much i love this anime. But maybe there is something to be said about a demon lord that has spent centuries killing and maiming and trying to dominate mankind finding himself in the human world and suddenly taking steps to protect its peace and quiet.

7. BLACKSTAR/MAKA/DEATH THE KID (SOUL EATER)

The adaption of Soul eater Not! irks me. Anyway the manga finally came to a close this year and these three heroes do deserve some credit for flyinh to the moon and facing off against the legend that is the Kishin.

As much as she annoys me, Maka gets all the credit here though; basically the weakest of them all, she had no business being on the battle field and even Kishin said so, not when standing besides a god like warrior in Black star and the new death god kid.

Yet she stood her ground and delivered the finishing blow, blackening the moon and bringing the soul eater nightmare to an end.

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Whew, that was a long list, and that’s probably because there were that many heroes worth commending this year, even more than actually made it to this list. If this was a top 20 (which it almost was when i first compiled it, before choosing to trim it) i would have mentioned Iori from Gamaran for all the righteous murdering he’s been doing against his former master’s students.

Then there is Phantom Miria from Claymore and the leader ship skills she displayed this year in basically commanding an unwinnable battle against immensely powerful beings, amongst which included the invincible Priscilla and several crazy abyssal ones.

-Unohana finally revealed the beast in her in 2013 and gave her life in an attempt to awaken Zaraki, the second Kenpachi, the true saviour of Soul Society with the way things are going at the moment.

-Ganta in Dead man wonderland showed some mettle in somewhat redeeming his childhood friend and taking considerable punishment in an attempt to bring the red man’s reign of terror to an end.

And then there is Shion from The Breaker: New Waves, 2013 being the year he proved himself worthy of the title Gaju, even in the face of immense tragedies.

-Kite from Hunter X Hunter was a bad ass this year, not the side character i thought he would be but striking an emotional cord in his interactions with the kids, and giving his life to protect them, that and his disturbing revival.

-With regards to the SNK heroes i was primarily interested in what was accomplished by each character this year and Eren’s star really shined in the anime in 2013, especially the way he wrapped things up with the female titan. Eren is basically the cheerleader of the SNK world if you think about, because i don't think anyone else in the series truly believes they can win the war.

I am still kind of pissed off at the internet for spoiling the Neji death for me. That would have been one heck of a shocker for me as a Naruto anime viewer.

Tasha from Witch hunter is also probably worth mentioning.

This year has been quite good to heroes in anime and manga and we can only hope that 2014 proves to be just as epic and explosive.

Well, that is it from me. What heroes/protagonists rocked your world in 2013?

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In reading a number of Seinin titles these past few months, i have found myself somewhat surprised by the stark difference between seinen and shonen stories; i will not say that Seinin is a necessarily superior genre to shonen as many Otaku have been known to conclude.

Rather i am finding that Seinin titles offer a level of excitement in their plots that are mostly absent in Shonen titles, probably because of how dark some-most- of the series can get.

Ubel Blatt is as good as Seinin action fantasy manga can get, a series only rivalled by Vinland saga in telling a considerably violent yet deeply moving, well paced, well constructed story regarding the ravages of war and vengeance.

THE PLOT:>

When Wischtech threatened to invade the fiefs of Szaalanden, the Emperor dispatched fourteen youths. Of these, three perished during the journey and four turned against the empire and joined Wischtech in its campaign of conquest and destruction.

Seven Heroes halted the invasion to herald a time of prosperity, while the four Lances of Betrayal were supposedly defeated.

Two decades later, the Lances of Betrayal have reappeared and formed a bandit militia near the frontier fief Gormbark. With Wischtech emerging from its slumber and war threatening to engulf the empire, the seven heroes are called upon to return, unite and destroy their ancient enemy once more.

A man with black swords and a scar over his left eye slays an entire troop of the enemy militia and becomes as much an object of fear as of hope, his own past, motivations, and purpose remaining a mystery .

MY REVIEW:>

Ubel Blatt is a German term and stands for ‘Evil Blade’ a curious pair of words, most likely referring to the several hidden black blades within the right hand of the hero of this tale, but probably synonymous with the dark nature of the

tale, which tries to pin down the true nature of those that supposedly fight for justice in this manga, and how accurate it is to impute to them the term ‘hero’ in the face of the consequences of their actions.

Really Ubel Blatt, set in some parallel medieval German styled world, infused with elements of magic and fantasy achieves its success through the two perspectives from which it approaches its story.

On the one hand is the philosophical questions it sets about asking; the story of Ubel Blatt takes place in a tranquil empire, one that has known peace for decades; sure greed stands at the base of the structures of power, but the people know safety.

Corruption dogs every hierarchical system, but all are fed and all enjoy the considerably benefits of the world the emperor so casually controls. Yet even if the success of every civilized nation is measured by the peace, tranquillity and satisfaction enjoyed by its citizens, how justifiable is that peace if the core of its structure was built on lies, if the cost of a good meal and amicable environment was the blood of those that so heroically gave their lives for the scorn of the world.

Yet if one agrees, as most people would, that the continued peace of a populace supersedes any other concerns, how justifiable is it to pursue truth and justice, if the results of that truth would lead to untold destruction for many innocent lives.

That is where Ubel Blatt begins its journey in chronicling this amazing story, the hero of the story perpetrating what even he recognizes will lead to considerably harm to the general populace, yet continues to push forward anyway, choosing to prioritize revenge over the needs of those innocents around him.

While the manga makes considerable effort in trying to create a somewhat complex situation, contrasting the dark deeds of evil men with all the good they have accomplished decades later, it has a way of pushing these questions to the back, the hero, Koinzel largely disinterested in the idea of negative consequences resulting from his seemingly righteous quest.

Yet Ubel Blatt manages to create sympathy in this character, not portraying to the readers some bull headed fool that cannot see past his own rage. Indeed Koinzel understands what is at stake if he accomplishes his goal, and indeed he chooses to ignore these misgivings. But Ubel Blatt makes it easy to understand his perspective of things, making the situation that much more complex, in trying to determine which party in this conflict stand at the side of justice.

-Imagine the story of a boy, a master swordsman, placed at the head of a 14 man party, to lead this brave group of well trained men into battle against a dark enemy of the empire that wishes to destroy all life with unnatural technology.

Imagine a boy that must watch seven of his comrades fall to fear and despair halfway through the journey; this boy then choosing to respect the fallibility of his comrades, instead choosing to advance with six unwavering comrades, contending with a destructive enemy as the last line of defence for the empire, and defeating this enemy but losing three friends in the process.

Imagine this boy returns to his seven cowardly friends, only to find that, upon being pressed by guilt and the shame they would face once the truth was revealed, they had plotted evil, massacring this young boy and his three friends.

Then imagine that this boy is revived 20 years later, within the body of a moon elf, to learn that not only had his three fallen comrades-along with himself- been branded traitors, but that those seven that had betrayed him where now heroes, lords, ruling the lands of the empire, basically worshiped by billions.

It is only justifiable that this boy would rage, would swear to tear these seven idols off their thrones and murder them. So what if, in assaulting these heroes, he would be bringing chaos and catastrophe? So what if these seven had done great good in the past 20 years, bringing a peace that would fall with their demise?

What would it matter to this boy to protect a peace held together by the blood of his friends, for a people so ready to degrade the heroic names of his comrades?

-Ubel Blatt is a deep story, despite its action packed nature. Its dark, bloody and vengeful as it chronicles one man’s struggles to make sense of the new world he has been reborn into, at a time when an ancient technologically advanced enemy he once gave his all to defeat has re-emerged.

The manga is surprisingly character oriented; i say surprisingly because the one criticism i would aim its way is the scarce use it makes of its secondary characters, those strays that attach themselves to Ascherit, look beyond this title of ‘king killer’ the most hated man in the world, and appreciate the hero within.

As interesting as some of the back stories get, the story does little to infuse new characters into the intricacies of the primary plot. Sure they are assigned objectives and purposes to accomplish in the story, yet always feel somewhat distant, that precluding Ato.

I have to say that she is the one character that has surprised me most; initially quite irritating, doing little more than ranting on about her hate for Ascherit, then becoming a love sick puppy that followed him everywhere, i applaud the master/apprentice relationship that they created between these two, Ascherit finally drawing out the blade master in him, lost decades ago, and taking upon himself a student. And of course Ato’s character changes positively as she becomes this intriguing monster of a swordswoman, simply grateful to be accepted by Ascherit.

But i digress, yes Ubel Blatt doesn’t fully utilize its secondary characters; yet that doesn’t take away from the masterful way it matures its primary characters, specifically Koinzel and his seven sworn enemies.

-Taking a cursory look at Koinzel it is highly likely that all you are going to see is this dark avenger, determined to achieve his vengeance no matter the cost. And the series seems to suggest just as much initially. Yet as the story progresses, it is surprising the amount of growth Koinzel undergoes, especially in his personality, this being a character that appeared in the manga already moulded to execute his task.

The story does a brilliant job of showing his softer side; yes he is vengeful and yes he cuts his opponents up into little bloody pieces with little remorse. His hate for his seven sworn enemies is ostensible, yet so is his adoration.

He might have tasted betrayal of the worst kind at their hands, but as the story progresses, we are treated to a number of flash backs that detail Koinzel’s life as a gifted kid and the friendship he shared with all his comrades.

Indeed one of the most touching scenes in the manga is when Koinzel has his blade pointed at the head of an enemy he has been chasing down for the past few chapters (I won’t say who, spoilers) and yet he hesitates. This is a man that has, over ten or so chapters, descended into madness, committing atrocities on a massive scale, that man that so gleefully brought his blade down against Koinzel.

And yet as the man mumbles to himself, lost in insanity, not pleading but speaking cheerfully, chatting to Koinzel of the old days, mind having broken finally and stranded him in the past, all Koinzel can think of is that one conversation they shared on the hill, when the man shared his inner demons, his fears, the promise that he had Koinzel make to protect him in battle because he wasn’t all that powerful; basically Koinzel breaks down.

And over the course of several chapters it becomes abundantly clear that not killing his betrayers, walking away, would actually be the easier choice for Koinzel, the one he would have taken if not for the burden of the souls of his dead friends.

Really, it added a sense of tragedy to the series, that continues through out the manga, exploring the mental struggles our hero has to contend with. Which is why this manga fascinates me so, that the chaos the innocent civilians of the empire would face if he executes his vengeance doesn’t faze Koinzel, where it would other heroes and anti heroes. Yet the memories of his former friends is enough to pause his blade.

-Not that the series is all about brooding and questioning; Ubel Blatt is action packed, immensely, the action scenes accentuated Atoroji Shiono’s amazing art.

Sure the character designs are considerably generic, yet the background scenes are quite detailed, the action scenes fluid, violent, eye catching and strangely intriguing.

-Though no where else does the manga shine as it does during its war, which the series has a considerable number of. It isn’t just the scale…well actually it is the scale, because the manga has a way of actually bringing the ‘'massiveness’ of everything to the page.

I hate reading manga that chronicles epic wars and battles but has to tell you so, in other words it doesn’t translate the story efficiently to its panels. Ubel Blatt is brilliant in presenting the chaos of battle and war, of magic, of raging armies on horse backs and dragons, of super powered yet somewhat antiquated ships taking to the air; and the way the scenes allow the war to move, allowing readers to take in the entire picture of what is happening rather than simply honing in on the main characters; the current of battle and destruction just comes to life in its pages…Ubel Blatt is simply brilliant.

Yet that doesn’t make the series any less brilliant in the area of duels, that bout between Koinzel (i hate that name) and Ikfes proving to be one of the best i have seen in manga.

-You will literally find yourself at the edge of your seat as you read this manga, because Ubel Blatt is fast paced and fast moving, dragging you along epic chases and hard hitting sword duels, allowing you to feel each sword stroke and death cry. It is a manga worth the respect its receiving from the French, Ubel Blatt being one of the best selling manga is France.

-I should point out that this is a Seinin, which means it is quite graphic, be it with the violence, the gore, nudity and sex scenes.

-The series can get quite dark and has unsurprisingly few light moments; it can be quite tragic and quite moving, specifically with the drama between the many characters, though the focus lies primarily with Koinzel, the mystery of his rebirth, black swords and moon elf body.

RATING: 10/10, Ubel Blatt is one of the very best manga i have read this year; and it kind of sucks that it’s that good, because it is monthly, which i dislike, having released barely 5 or 6 chapters this year for whatever reason.

The idea of waiting for this story to progress irks me. But i will wait. If you like Seinin, specifically medieval styled stories, then this is the manga for you. Ubel Blatt, which has a lot of German themes with regards to name and designs, exists within the mould of series like Berserk and Vinland Saga.

HIGHLIGHTS: Ascheritt Vs. Ikfres, The war of the heroes arc, Balestar, Glenn…

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I want to say that this arc has made a pretty interesting come back, but Noblesse has never truly been off its game, always delivering fast paced chapters, beautifully drawn chapters week in and week out.
However these two chapters were impressive even by Noblesse’ high standards, infusing action with subtle amounts of drama.

THE PLOT:>

Frankenstein and the ninth argue about Frank’s sins, who denies ever having committed atrocities on the level of the Union, instead using his own body to execute his experiments, the purpose of which was to save guard humanity rather than gift them with power as the Union had done.
Frankenstein hands dark spear over to the ninth and it consumes him. The kertia clan leader’s battle continues, both combatants making little headway, until an unnatural phenomenon turns all attention towards the mountains.
Roctis and Rai do battle; Frankenstein arrives but Rai rejects his help, instead assigning him the task of protecting the children. Roctis observes how much weaker Rai is, offering him a way out, to leave his daughter alone and live his life out in peace.
Rai transforms and kills Roctis, allowing him a few last words of remorse.

MY REVIEW:>
Wow, as far as crazy power levels and awesome supernatural displays go Rai never ceases to amaze me, that storm of blood tornados descending from a dark sky proving to be one of the most amazing displays we have seen Rai perform.
Both chapters were largely action oriented, taking steps to bring to a close all on going battles and bringing to the attention of the Union the presence and existence of the Noblesse and the crazy sort of power they are facing.
Truth be told i actually thought Rai might not survive the fight against Roctis; and the final scenes reveal to us just how greatly weakened his body has become. While Roctis is probably the most powerful noble among the enemy forces left that could
have challenged Frankenstein, it doesn’t look like Rai’s forces are in any better shape, there own nobles largely defeated and Rai, their Deux Ex Machina, clearly unable to exert himself on the same level as before.
I was somewhat surprised by how Frankenstein ended his battle with the ninth elder, allowing the spear to consume him-i actually entertained the idea that he might be intending to hand the powerful soul weapon over; he managed to somewhat redeem himself for his past sins, at least in my eyes, as i always viewed the old Frankenstein as nothing more than a monster sacrificing millions in the name of acquiring power.
In these chapters he pretty much explained his position, the sacrifices he made to safeguard mankind and the reasons that forced him to betray man kind.
All in all interesting material, pretty dramatic, especially Roctis’s send off, dramatic and sad, the remorse he displayed for betraying his master, yet unwilling to allow his daughter to face death for the heinous crimes she has continued to commit.

RATING: 5/5, couldn’t have been anything less for these two perfect chapters. I can’t be the only one that think Ignes is undeserving of the sacrifices her father has made for her. Blindness suits her. Rai has never seemed sadder or more tragic than he did in these chapters, like a parent forced to kill those children he was assigned to guide and protect for sins they felt forced to commit.
It’s worth noting that he doesn’t punish them for the betrayal they committed against him-and indeed seems to have forgiven them-but for atrocities committed against humanity.

HIGHLIGHTS: Rai’s transformation, Frankenstein. The art in these chapters was amazing.
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I wanted to babble on about what a year this has been but truth be told i would be lying if i said i remembered most of what happened in these 12 months, with regards to anime and manga that is.

It took me a while to realise that at the beginning of this year the otaku realm was raving about how big of a hit psycho pass would be; now i barely remember its existence in light of the many series that have emerged as the months have progressed.

Anyway, i thought it would be a novel idea to sit down and critically analyze the year 2013 in anime and manga, but not through that most general of lenses that is ‘best anime and/manga’, instead delineating the best of manga and anime this year into some of its finer points; and because no anime or manga would be worth the hype or loath it attracts without that most important of elements that is the villain, I thought I would kick this little 2013 anime and manga ‘best of’ series off by looking at the best villains anime and manga has produced this year.

So here goes:

1. Uchiha god Madara (Naruto)

Madara Uchiha has somehow managed to reign as total bad ass, not only in the Naruto anime but the manga as well, his initial appearance in the anime, his utter decimation of the shinobi alliance only surpassed by the madness he has unleashed in the manga, his conflict with the kages and consistent ability to bring absolute destruction upon the Naruto world

2. Don Quixotte Doflamingo (One Piece)

it is disturbing to see just how far Doflamingo has come in One piece this year, this initially unimportant warlord some how breaking into the upper echelons of the pirate world as a true threat. No doubt one piece's run this year wouldn't have been the ride it has turned out to be if not for the revelations made regarding Doflamingo.

3. Shogo Makishima (Psycho Pass)

Looking back on it Psycho pass was basically the Kogami/Makishima story, and why wouldn’t it be, these two proving to be some of the most brilliant minds in the series. The reason the show reached its great heights was because of how well the Makishima/Kogami dynamic played out; and the reason this relationship played out so well was because of how devious and down right psychopathic Makishima could be, basically a virus in the perfect system of the Psycho pass world.

4. Juha bach (Bleach)

Juha bach is nothing less than the man credited for bringing soul society to its knees and murdering the man that had led it through the last millennium; and this year he cemented his determination to bring this ancient enemy of his people to its knees by launching an all out assault against the remnants of soul society. Truth be told though, i am crediting Juha bach for the actions he executed last year, as he has been largely unimportant to bleach in 2013. Normally he should have featured at the very bottom of the list, but you do not kill yamamoto Genryusai everyday.

5. Rachel (Tower of God)

There is something about the innocent nature of this character that makes her so damn unlikable; playing the desperate damsel in the early portions of the series, Rachel stands above all the villainous entities we have seen emerge on the scene in Tower of God this year, the woman that took Baam’s heart, ripped it out of his chest, crushed it, pushed the bits back in and did it again, inflicting immense amounts of hurt to her greatest proponent.

I don’t know if i can call Rachel devious; i don’t know if that word fully encompasses how manic she has proven herself to be in the manhwa this year. On the plus side though, she gave us the awesome Viole.

6. Orochimaru (Naruto)

Orochimaru is...well, Orochimaru, the original Naruto devil, his reemergence onto the scene at the beginning of this year not only shaking the structure of events in the Naruto world, but portending great things to come. As a source of great turmoil for Naruto Uzumaki one can only ponder at what his next move will be, following his efforts in resolving the Madara incident.

7. 9arts dragon (The Beaker: New Waves)

Maybe i am jumping the gun here, and maybe Nine arts hasn't yet struck villain status; and truth be told i hope this hero of the first Breaker series never turns to the dark side; but things aren't looking too good for him, especially with all the violence that has been been committed in his name. Whatever the case nine arts is the ultimate good guy turned evil character this year, and i expect events to take an explosive turn in 2014 now that he has chosen to finally come to the fro and take Seoul.

8. Hisoka (HunterXHunter)

Hisoka has been a part of the HunterXHunter world from the beginning; yet despite his early appearance, Hisoka has managed to hold his own against more recent villains more powerful villains as a truly despicable member of the HXH world; or maybe despicable isn’t quite the world to describe him. Creepy maybe…yes, creepy, disturbing, sometimes gross, but in a good way, the sort of manner villains are expected to present.

9. Chrollo Lucifer/Phantom troupe (HunterXHunter)

I don’t know if it is really possible to separate the awesomeness of the phantom troupe from Chrollo’s epicness, a villain that in truth is yet to make his mark on the HXH world, at least in my opinion, but whose presence on screen has the ability to shake the foundation of our heroes. One might go so far as to say that the phantom troupe arc was the pinnacle of the HXH anime.

10. Reiner (Attack on Titan)

The ability to infiltrate and yet remain inconspicuous to your enemy is god-sent, and Reiner did just that! Imagine walking, working, trusting the evil you so much wish to eradicate yet you’re just so blind to it.

Reiner is…well, one of SNK’s many tragedies.

Worthy mention:

-Shiro (Deadman Wonderland)- This manga didn't only have one of the more epic finales i have seen this year, it created quite a monster in shiro while also laying her bare, allowing us to explore the inner workings of her twisted mind.

Really, what allowed Shiro to shine as such a great villain this year was how tortured she seemed even as she unleashed hell against Ganta.

-Priscilla (Claymore)- Priscilla from Claymore was epic this year, especially with the revelation regarding her secrets, the nature of her power as the abyssal one with the power to create her own matter, basically making her a new kind of beast, that and the revelation about her one true weakness.

-Zephr (One Piece Film Z)- my thoughts on Film Z are somewhat skewed by how the series chose to end things, specifically the rather cliché battle between Luffy and Z at the end; none the less i liked Z as a somewhat tragic villain, wronged far too many times and taking the law into his own hands to a bring justice to the world; and his end somewhat helped cement the character in my eyes.

-Bils (Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the gods)- i liked Battle of the gods and truth be told that was largely because of Bils, a character that, though irritating initially, began to endear himself to me as the sort of villain the series hasn’t produced since the dragon ball era. More importantly they managed to avoid the clichéd ending that Film Z had with regards to the final battle between hero and villain.

And that’s it from me and this year’s list of best villains; what was your 2013 like in anime and manga? Which villains most rocked your world?

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Aah, i wish Magi would pick up the pace; set up chapters like this, as good as they might be, leave me drastically unsatisfied. I understand the necessity of setting the stage for the showdown that is inevitably going to occur, but i have been waiting to see Kouen for several chapters now.

207 was largely tame, doing little more than shedding light on the true face of Balbad, once rebellious and violent yet proud and willful, now broken, the Kou empire further degrading the state of the kingdom through its legalization of slavery. And as with every society we have encountered in the manga so far, operating under a strict caste system, cruelty has began to creep into the hearts of the people, those less than fortunate forced to bow and bend both physically and emotionally; while those wielding greater power tread upon them, proud in the strength they hold and status of their households.

IN a way this couldn’t have turned out better for Alibaba, who displayed considerable displeasure at the thought of Balbad marching forward into prosperity without the guidance of his hand. Now he can approach his future with a goal in mind; Balbad is clearly in need of him, and now he gets to play the great hero. Though i don’t see his people standing up to back his call.

After all even Hassan seemed resigned to his new post. Really whatever we might have figured before there is no denying it now, the fact that the Kou empire is indeed the villain of the story and must be stopped at all costs. The question now is what is going to happen between Alibaba and Kouen, the two finally meeting at the end.

It does irk me a bit, the amount of time spent on this portion of the arc, seeing as this was supposed to be a short detour, Alibaba stopping off to lead Kouen to the meeting place. That is what i assumed would be the primary focus of this arc, Sinbad and Kouen’s meeting. But it seems like the Balbad portion of the story still has some life left in it.

Maybe this is for the best, as Magi is largely unpredictable at this point in time. It depends on whether all these detours will pay off satisfactorily, which this series always does.

RATING: 3/5

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