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With another holiday season here, it’s often time to take a look at what manga series make good gifts. Though let’s get a bit more specific. What if you want someone to read titles that presents characters plagued by personal issues and the stress of the worlds they reside in? Have I got some ideas for you. Here are some of today’s top awesome English-licensed manga that dives deep into the recesses of the mind.
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We all know smiling does wonders for people, but a recent study revealed that smiling actually helps your heart. Even if it’s not genuine, grinning and bearing it during hectic moments lowers one’s heart rate and reduces stress. It might make you wonder which anime/manga characters smile to get through the day. Here are 10 notable characters that, in my opinion, use smiles to cheer up their psyche.
Misa Amane (Death Note) - While she has a smile on her face and a cheerful disposition, Misa has had a rough past as her parents were killed by a burglar right in front of her. Because of this, she has strong feelings of hatred towards criminals and turns to Light Yagami as her ray of light.
Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto) - When your whole childhood has been marred by the fact that you’re hosting a powerful demon inside you, smiling probably has to be one of the main ways to keep yourself going.
Gin Ichimaru (BLEACH) - If you want to mess around with people’s emotions and hide your true intentions, a wicked smile sure helps to get your message across. Though it might not redeem you in the end.
Seta Soujiro (Rurouni Kenshin) - The story behind Soujiro’s smile is probably one of the most tragic stories I have ever read (and also one of my favorite moments in RK). It’s hard to blame him for smiling constantly though. How would anyone feel if they experienced a situation such as his?
Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece) - He always seems to find a way to smile even in the worst of moments. It must be fun to be a dreamer.
Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket) - Underneath her smile and kindness towards others, Tohru was perhaps a little too obsessed with honoring her deceased mother and it took her a while to move on.
Lenalee Lee (D. Gray-man) - A character that secretly hated the organization that trained her. She had a mental breakdown while being forced to be an Exorcist against her will. Who knows what would have happened if her brother, Komui, didn’t come back into her life and fuel her growth.
Kyoko Mogami (Skip Beat!) - She’s one the best examples of taking it to the chin and kicking butt despite being knocked down. Most of her life has been spent pleasing the people around her and trying to win their approval. Kyoko’s determination is relentless as she takes on the world of show business.
Tamaki Suoh (Ouran High School Host Club) - For someone who appears high-class, charismatic, goofy, and confident, he has relationship problems with his grandmother. This is mostly due to Tamaki’s grandmother never getting along with his mother. Despite his pleas to be accepted into the Suoh family being constantly rejected by her, Tamaki still treats his grandmother with love and is happy to be accepted by his Host Club mates.
Orihime Inoue (BLEACH) - We can talk about her bouncy…personality all we like, but she doesn’t believe in herself when it comes to helping people. Seeing her sometimes makes me wonder if certain people feel that way when it comes to being useful to others.
I know there are many other characters who smile to calm themselves (i.e. characters in Neon Genesis Evangelion), so who would you guys put on your list of “smiling to keep it together” characters? >;)
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An interesting article on heroes & villains has got me thinking about two of the more unique anime/manga “heroes” in recent memory, Light Yagami (of Death Note) & Lelouch Lamperouge (of Code Geass). Both characters have drawn lots of love (and hate) from many fans around the world. Their impact on Japanese pop culture has got me wondering: will we, as society, be alright with heroes that have some traits of villainy in real life? (Warning: potential spoilers after the jump)
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"JUST AS PLANNED!"
For some reason, I finally found out that the popular psychological series, Death Note, was almost banned in Albuquerque, New Mexico because some kids were found possessing “Death Note” books this past May. The funny thing was that this wasn’t the first case of “Death Note” fever, but there were multiple cases where many school students across the U.S. got disciplined for possessing a “Death Note”. Even someone put Justin Bieber’s name on a Death Note! It seriously makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with people these days.
This isn’t the first major Death Note-related incident to happen. Back in 2007, the series was practically banned in China because it was “poisonous” to all Chinese young people everywhere. There was also an incident in Belgium where someone was murdered in a gruesome fashion. There were notes around the victim that stated “I was Kira”, in reference to Death Note. The “Manga Murder” (termed by the Belgian press) was recently solved.
Back to the situation in Albuquerque, one parent stated the reason for a Death Note ban was because:
"Killing is just not something we should put out there for our kids to read in this way."
What about the Bible? DO YOU REALIZE HOW VIOLENT THAT BOOK IS? It’s ok for kids to read something that hints at graphic violence while it’s not ok for kids to read something that isn’t entirely violent at all? What is the PROPER way to read about “killing”?
Also, the Death Note is NOT REAL. Since when does reading a book influence someone to kill somebody? These days, I’m sure a lot of people who kill others don’t do these things from reading books. Reading doesn’t seem to be too popular among young people these days (in America, at least).
The problem is no one pays attention until something serious happens. People just freaking procrastinate until it bites them in the ass. Even something that seems harmless can lead to HUGE repercussions in the future. I also think that conservatives really don’t appreciate dark humor. Even in China, the students in China just wrote names down in their “Death Notes” for fun and even said that “everyone knows it’s not real”. What did China have to worry about? They heavily emphasize education better than most countries. Of course, it’s hard to trust the opinions of children since their cognitive development is growing.
Which leads me to this: you can’t expect children to think for themselves all the time. You can also say that parents don’t think as well. What’s a good solution? Reach out to those parents and children. There should be more of an investment by libraries to help educate everyone. Libraries do make a difference in people’s lives. Also, thinking is different from acting. Just because you think evil thoughts doesn’t NECESSARILY mean that you will carry them out. Some people know better. Don’t punish people for thinking. Instead, just listen to why they’re thinking that way and understand where they’re coming from. Hell, there are a few people I wish suffered, but I’m not going to actually make them suffer because it will hurt people around me & I have more important things to worry about.
I think Death Note is one of the more unique franchises I have seen and the popularity it has amassed is astounding. Of course, I have met some really crazy fans and I believe that some of these fans shouldn’t be watching that series. Any responsible adult should understand that every child will go through phases of confusion & tribulations. Most of us were like that once. Why can’t we use our youth experiences to help define other children’s lives in a balanced way?