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Goin’ Japanesque!

5 Distinct Fantasy Anime or Manga that Have Evolved Uniquely in Japan

Myths and folklores exist everywhere in the world and they have evolved in their own ways.

The world of anime and manga in Japan also took up such ancient stories and created new ones, giving new interpretations and adding new details.

This time I am introducing such anime and manga that have very unique, distinct flavors.


1. Onmyoji

The story was staged in Japan in the year of 960 when the country was going through a period called Heian (794-1185).

There were a group of men called onmyoji who used sorcery and magic, serving for the imperial court, which ruled the country then.

This story depicts Abe no Seimei, who was reputed to be the best onmyoji of all and Minamoto no Hiromasa, his partner.

With his exceptional talent and knowledge Seimei solves cases in the Heian period riddled with rampant evil spirits and monsters.

The original story was written by Baku Yumemakura, and manga adaptation was drawn by Reiko Okano based on it.

The original novel has been filmed as live-actions both for a TV drama and movie.

The manga version was composed with solid historical research and elegant drawings as if they were a scroll drawn in the same period.

This is a great story to learn about the Heian period and the onmyoji.

Related Articles:
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2. Aura Battler Dunbine

The story is staged in Byston Well, another world which is said to exist at the boundary of the water surface and underwater.

In this world life forms have a mysterious power called “aura power”, and a robotics scientist Shot Weapon who came there from the real world has developed robots called Aura Battlers, which are operated by the aura power.   

Sho Zama, the main character of the story is also pulled into the world of Byston Well from Japan, and he starts participating in the war of Byston Well, piloting Aura Battler Dunbine.

This work was produced by a company called Sunrise, which produced the Mobile Suit Gundam aired in 1983 as a TV anime.

The story has a unique setting of presenting scientific giant robots in a world of fantasy, which is usually not scientific.

The work depicts Aura Battlers, giant robots drawn in somewhat organic design with a hint of beetles, which engage in combat using swords and firearms.

Related Articles:
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3. Coji-Coji

Märchen Land is a mysterious world where characters live and they exist only to entertain humans.

The characters study at Märchen School which exists in the world in order to become popular and famous in the human world.

This surreal comedy features the main character Coji-Coji, Jiro who is a hybrid of fish and bird studying at the school and another student Korosuke, who is a snowman.

The original work was a manga created by Momoko Sakura and published in 1994, and the TV anime was aired in 1997.

I would rather characterize this work as an absurd surreal comedy than a fantasy, which brought forth an imaginary world of the author Momoko Sakura crystallized in her brain.

It is a mysterious work in which a unique story develops in an unusual world and it has a crossover feel between manga and picture book.

Other popular works by Momoko Sakura include “Chibi Maruko-chan”, as you know.


4. Overlord

The hero of this story is playing in a social game “Yggdrasil” and he ends up being transferred into another world with similar settings to the game.

I have introduced this story in detail in my earlier article including the synopsis.

Related Articles:
“Overlord”: Unique Anime from the Perspective of a Villain, the Undead King

This story is a pioneer work among a group of stories staged in different worlds, which has become popular in Japan in recent years.

The original story was a novel written by Kugane Maruyama. The TV anime adaptation was broadcasted in 2015 and its highlights were released in 2017 as an anime movie for theaters.

In addition the second season of the TV anime is scheduled to be aired after 2017.


5. Made in Abyss

There is a huge pit called “Abyss” in the world of this story and it is the last frontier yet to be explored by mankind.

The Abyss offers various materials useful for humans in abundance and many “cave raiders” are there searching for such materials.

The main character Riko is an apprentice cave raider currently living in an orphanage and her mother was known as a great cave raider in the past.

One day she encounters an android in the Abyss.

The author is Akihito Tsukushi and his manga is the original work of this anime.

The TV anime is scheduled to be aired starting in July 2017.

Characters that appear in this story including Riko are very lovely boys and girls who are drawn with big faces taking up 1/3 or 1/4 of their whole figures. This is a chronicle of adventures written in a classic format and cute young characters face the challenge of the Abyss, the uncharted frontier of the world.

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You can find many unique worlds in a great variety in manga and anime.

And settings of such worlds are strongly influenced by cultures and people’s temperaments that are different from country to country.

I think it is one interesting way to take a look at works produced in Japan from such a viewpoint.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon