Top 10 Shin Megami Tensei Demons/Characters I want to cosplay

Because I can’t praise these series enough.

Yes, I cosplay, or rather, I used to. I wasn’t super obsessed and anal about it like some (scary) people, but it was a fun thing to do. Granted, some people pour their whole lives into cosplay, and I respect that, their talent, and their commitment to the art. However, for me, cosplay is just a fun little hobby that is not to be taken too too seriously. I’m not out to win any awards or star on the cover of any mags, I’m just a fan trying to have a good time. Although I have cosplayed many different things, I have not yet cosplayed anything or anyone made by Atlus.

It’s time to change that…

For this list I will use the blanket term Shin Megami Tensei to cover any series made by the makers of the series or considered part of the group itself, although I will mention the game that the character was first from. I am ranking these characters not only by my level of “want” but the level of possibility and efficiency. Modifications I would have to make to each costume will also be listed. I also gave respect to my body shape and my skillsets in fabrication and makeup, (I’m much better at the latter).

Let’s begin, shall we?

Honorable Mentions

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When I first started playing the Persona games, Persona 4 was my first of the bunch, and my short cropped hair was starting to grow out. Cue the comparisons to Chie Satonaka. Although I have since developed a different look, I would still be pleased to play Chie, if only because her personality is still pretty close to my own. The only real big issue with her is her fondness for ridiculously short skirts. Short skirts do not really work with large bottoms.

Belladonna from the original Persona is an interesting character to say the least, (then again, everyone in the Velvet Room is…interesting). She sings all of her dialogue and is continuously accompanied by a piano player named Nameless. So why is she only an honorable mention? Well, because of Nameless of course. You can’t have one without the other, and I’m loving the single life right now.

 

10:Mitsuru Kirijo- Persona 3

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If Chie was the old me in appearance, Mitsuru is the new me, (at least in terms of the sort of attire she likes to wear). I already have most of her outfit in my closet, including the shirt, skirt, and amazing boots, (that I LIVE in when it becomes fall). Mitsuru is a very fancy lady and a fencer to boot. As cool as her outfit becomes in Persona 4 Arena, I would stick with this version because it is iconic, comfortable, and I know that this sort of attire looks great on me since I wear similar things to work almost every day. So why is she so low? Well…all the human characters are pretty low because they are a bit overplayed and I’d rather work on some more personas/demons instead.

9:Argilla- Digital Devil Saga:Avatar Turner

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Why is this person from a highly underappreciated game higher than characters from the fantastically popular persona series? Well, I absolutely LOVE Digital Devil Saga and it’s sequel. So why Argilla? Why not Sera? Well, Argilla’s design is frankly the coolest design for ladies in the game, being simple, but feminine and elegant. She is one of the most human and sympathetic characters in the game too, and quite relatable, (she is understandably horrified when she learns that she has to devour people). If there ever was a group of people I knew that loved Digital Devil Saga as much as I do, I would totally be up for this cosplay.

8:Eros- Persona 2

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Narrowly edging out in the “badass chick with an afro” category is Eros, who I decided to place in this spot instead of the fantastic Trisha from Catherine mostly due to clothing issues. Eros’s costume is not only much easier to wear, but it would be much easier to make as well. It would be composed of a simple black bodysuit, some easily obtainable props and a lot of fluff or fiber. This is the first “fun” cosplay on this list in that it is so over the top and goofy that you can’t take something like this seriously. 

7:Titania- Shin Megami Tensei II

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“Are you ready?” Sure am! One of the simplest designs on this countdown, Titania is also one of the most useful demons in Nocturne, although this design originates from the second game. She does have another design that looks more butterfly-like, but this one is so much more iconic and fitting for the character. Although simple in design, Titania is pretty recognizable when it comes to SMT, and recognizability would be the key here. Simplicity would also be useful when it comes to this outfit as it would not cost an arm and a leg to make. Makeup is simple and pretty and would require minimal effort. Titania is on this list as a fallback on something simple but iconic if the designs above her would fail or funds became tight.

6:High Pixie- Shin Megami Tensei II

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Because High Pixie is way more badass, (and clothed) than Pixie. Her outfit is fierce, her hair is fiercer, and she knows it. Being a very short person, both Titania and High Pixie were no brainers for this list, (Have you ever seen a tall person playing a fairy? Honestly?). High Pixie is placed higher than Titania however, because I think her design, while not as iconic, stands out a bit more and would be easier to replicate exactly. The only really big issue I would have is her amazing hairdo, but industrial strength hairgel and a wig in the proper color could do wonders.

5:Yoshitsune-Devil Summoner/Persona 4

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Believe it or not, that’s a man. A samurai. One of the most tragic and powerful heroes of Japanese folklore. I have wanted to cosplay…or rather…”crossplay” Yoshitsune ever since I laid eyes on his design in Persona 4. I came across a woman who had “crossplayed” Okuninushi, so I figured I’d try to do the same with the iconic and ever useful Yoshitsune. Seriously, most useful demon in Persona 4, bar none. It also helps that he looks so overtly feminine that people confuse him for a woman at first glance, too.

4:Gabriel and Motorcycle!Gabriel- Shin Megami Tensei II and Persona 2:Eternal Punishment

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I couldn’t choose between these two designs, so they share the number four spot. Gabriel is a very iconic character in both series, being one of the four archangels, and the only female of the group. Although I really love her Persona design and think it is quite unique for an angel to appear as a machine, (see my discussion about the mechanical menace of Metatron earlier on) without being too far removed from a beautiful humanoid. I love how the pipes form wings the most, also THOSE SHOES. I want them. Classic Gabriel is also awesome in her own way with her bright and unique color scheme and tough, but feminine demeanor. These designs and this character needed to be on this list.

3:Philemon- Persona 2

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The other “crossplay” option for my list, Philemon takes the concept of “I am thou, thou art I” to its extreme. An iconic figure throughout the first couple of Persona games, he seems to have faded away into obscurity as of late. However, those who have caught on early, or who have started looking back at the earlier Personas in curiousness might recognize him. He’s quite an interesting fellow and easy for a lady to cosplay due to his feminine features and simple attire. It would be an absolute joy to cosplay this mysterious figure born of Jungian psychology.

2:Artemisia- Persona 3

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Talk about a pimped out dress. The reason why Artemisia is so much higher on this list than Mitsuru, the character that she is the Persona of, is because of how awesome her design is. She isn’t just a lady in a gorgeous dress, she’s a lady in a gorgeous dress who looks like she could royally kick some ass. Although I have seen plenty of Personas cosplayed, I have yet to see one of this fantastic design. Granted, it would be a lot of work, but the payoff would be so worth it. Fabrication would involve obtaining a dress and modifying it until it looks awesome enough. Something else I like about this cosplay is how simple the facial features are, and how they are obscured by the mask (which would also help hide my necessary glasses). Although a slightly impractical choice, my desire to cosplay this awesome lady outweighs the craziness of the fabrication.

And the character I want to cosplay the most from an Atlus game is…

1:Mother Harlot: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

The lovely lady with a…less than lovely visage, Mother Harlot presents a striking image. A striking image I want to rock, and I know I -can- rock. Firstly, I am very good at special effects makeup and actually was a skeleton last Halloween. Of course, it would be easier to wear a mask, but it is impossible to emote through it, and if Mother Harlot is good at anything, she’s good at emoting with her cackling, wine guzzling and jaw flapping. Her attire is fairly simple and would be easy to make or modify. The only issue is the Seven-Headed Beast, which can be solved by making it an adorable stuffed animal or better yet, a handbag that can be used to carry convention essentials. The costume overall wouldn’t be too hard on my budget and I would be able to see it through to a flawless execution. This fiendish femme fatale is just too interesting of a cosplay opportunity to pass up.

In Depth: A Defense of Basilisk w/ Top 20 Characters List

They don’t stay this happy for long…

I have been wanting to make this post for a very long time, and by a very long time I mean since I first watched the series in 2008. Since that point on, people have asked me what exactly I see in this series. Why do I like it so much? How can I interpret it from a feminist perspective? How can I enjoy a series this tragic when I am an eternal optimist? Why does this series stay with me even as I grow out of my “edgy” late teens?

Let me teach you…

The Story

The key to any good work is a good story, one that draws the reader right in and holds their attention in a vice grip. Basilisk is the tale of two lovers, Oboro and Gennosuke, whose families, the Iga and the Kouga ninja clans, respectfully, have been bitter enemies for many years. The only thing keeping the clans from slaughtering each other is a very fragile truce instated by Hattori Hanzo. However, this truce is broken by Tokugawa Ieysu, as a war between ninjas, each side supported by one of his successors, would decide who would take power once the sickly warlord died, without any noble blood needing to be spilled. Twenty ninjas are chosen in total, ten from Kouga, and ten from Iga. With both sides so equally matched, however, the outcome is indecisive. This is very unfortunate for Gennosuke and Oboro, whose families are more than eager to get back to fighting one another. Behind the scenes, Yakushiji Tenzen, the second in command of the Iga Clan, plots to twist the outcome of the war to his advantage so he can rule Japan from the shadows.

The way I describe Basilisk to people is “Romeo and Juliet with ninjas”, however, this is slightly inaccurate. While Oboro and Gennosuke are the main characters, the entire plot does not revolve around their love affair, but rather it hinges on the power of the political elite. It is because of the need for a “clean” succession that all of these characters must fight and die. In a sense, that makes this story an incredibly Marxist one, with the lower class, disposable ninjas sent to fight each other while elites watch. Class differences can even be seen between members of the clans themselves. For example, Oboro, being the granddaughter of the leader of the Iga, is fairly privileged and kept in an isolated, naive state, whereas many of the other ninjas of her clan are familiar with the ways of the world and have developed different ways of coping with it, from bitter hatred to gallows humor.

The Characters

One of the most interesting things about this story is that, despite what some people will tell you, it is a very orange-and-blue moral tale, with all of the characters having virtues and vices, (with the exception of the Complete Monster of a villain Tenzen). No side is the “evil side” and no side is the “good side”, and both sides have sympathetic characters. Interestingly, both sides also have hideously ugly, bizarre, or bestial characters. Generally in anime, it tends to be that pretty people are good and ugly people are bad, but some of the best characters in the story are quite far from being bishounen, and some of the bishounen are terrible people, (once again, the not bad looking Tenzen is EVIL, whereas an ugly character like Kazamachi has a noble sense of honor about him.)

I absolutely LOVE the characters of this story, and they are what makes the story, drives the plot, and create emotion in the readers and viewers. No character is simply defined by what they do or what they look like, and they all do good and bad things. I find that other viewers tend to take out their anger on a character that killed a character that they liked, vilifying them and making them seem like monsters, but the truth is, with the exception of Tenzen, nobody is really like that. They have to fight and kill the opposing side. They have to defend themselves, Sometimes, they have to act underhandedly to survive. That doesn’t make them evil, it makes them resourceful.

Feminism

This is one big question I have been asked a lot. How can I, a feminist, like an anime series where women are killed, exposed, and treated like dirt? Well, let me begin by offering a crash course. Feminism, by definition, does not refer to the superiority of women, nor does it mean that women should make it through a story completely unscathed, (that would be INCREDIBLY sexist). The women in this series are on equal footing with the men, and, with the exception of the rather weak Oboro, can hold their own in battle. It is not until just before the tragic end where Oboro gains the strength to kill someone off, (but it is AMAZING when she does). One of the strongest characters in the beginning of the series is a woman, who only is killed when one of the men she attacks defends himself in a rather horrific way. Still, women and men in this series fight, die, live, and express themselves equally. There are also many different types of women, from the shy and naive Oboro, to the tomboyish Okoi, to the elderly Ogen, and all of them are fantastic characters with their own motives and stories. My top favorite characters are men, but I do have to give credit where credit is due to these ladies of war.

“But it’s anti-feminist because boobs and rape”. *sigh* I know that it’s a very sad thing to say, but rape is a real thing. It really happens to people, and there are really people out in the world that feel that “rape is love”. One also has to remember that this series takes place in the 1600s, where many men felt that they could make women love them by conquering them. This series has around four rapists/attempted rapists in it, and one of them, oddly enough, is a woman. The fact that this is brought up and actually a part of the twisted and broken character shows that the concept of sexual assault is not one-dimensional. The scenes of near rape are not sexy or arousing in the least and are in-fact high stress and terrifying scenes.

“But there’s female nudity in it”. Nudity is a part of life. We are all born naked. There is no shame in nudity, and in the cases where we are meant to be disgusted by nudity, my goodness we are. In fact, an interesting fact to point out, is, while the series is sometimes attacked for female nudity, the character who we see naked the most is a MAN, because he has to be naked to use his powers. Many anime series contain nudity, and honestly, it isn’t fair that this series is attacked so much for it when it is hardly gratuitous.

The Countdown

And here it is! The countdown of my favorite ninjas in Basilisk, starting with my least favorite, and moving on to my favorite character of all, and one of the most fantastic examples of his “type” in the anime/manga medium. So let’s begin, shall we? I will make a mini-commentary on each character and say what I like about them, and why they are fantastic, (yes, even the characters at the bottom are written FANTASTICALLY). No character in this series is poorly written, so the ranks are totally up for grabs!

20:Yakushiji Tenzen- Iga Clan

THIS is a villain I love to hate. He is so so so SO evil that he puts people like Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame to SHAME. Let’s recap all the evil, horrible things that Tenzen does: murder, attempted rape, murder political subterfuge, attempted rape, murder, torture, rape, murder. Yep. Not a nice fellow. It is because of this character and a couple others that people tend to consider the Iga Clan the “villains” of the series, but really, it’s only Tenzen that’s a TRUE villain. Still, as hateable as he is, that really can be chalked up to good writing. Many villains fall flat or are flanderized into being “misunderstood”. Tenzen is a well-written example of the “Complete Monster” trope, in that he is a good character because of how much the series makes you hate them in a story full of despicable acts from both sides. I can’t even say I hate him. I love to hate him. That is what makes him an excellent villain. Also the fact that it is incredibly hard for him to die helps too.

19: Amayo Jingoro- Iga Clan

This character is gross. Everything about him is gross, and he still manages to be fantastic and memorable because of his grossness. Firstly, he is described in the book as looking and sounding like a drowning victim, a trait reflected clearly in the anime. However, we are not judging characters by their looks here, as my top two are not exactly “stunners”. This character’s abilities are sheer paranoia fuel, even more than a higher entry that can mimic others’ appearances. Imagine you are relaxing in a lake and suddenly, SOMETHING slimy, like a slug but more liquefied, crawls into your throat and smothers you from the inside. That’s what this guy does. He utilizes salt and water to liquefy and re-invigorate himself, and holds a deathly fear of the ocean as it contains both. This guy is as slimy personality-wise, being only behind Tenzen in “monster-ness”. An attempted rapist and bitter person, he is not nice to work with or to face in battle. Still, he is an asset to the Iga Clan, being its most skilled and secretive assassin and even has a few scenes that paint him in a sympathetic light.

18:Kisaragi Saemon: Kouga Clan

Yikes. Just…yikes. You wouldn’t expect a character that looks this harmless to be a ruthless monster by the time his time is up. All it takes is the death of his little sister to cause this character to completely lose all reservation of killing anyone, and he murders two of the most interesting women of the series in horrifically brutal ways. He clearly shows the face of war, and what it can do to a person. Saemon’s ability is also horrifying, tying with Jingoro in terms of pure nightmare fuel. He can copy the appearance and the voice of anyone simply by using clay molds of the person he wants to copy’s face. Interestingly for the Kouga Clan, which is usually considered the “good guys”, Saemon is one manipulative little bastard. Other than this, he really doesn’t have much of a personality, sadly. He seems like the calm counterpart to his sister, but it would have been interesting to see more before he fell off the slippery slope that revenge causes.

17: Kagerou- Kouga Clan

The most despicable woman on this list, Kagerou is a woman cursed with poisonous breath that activates when she is aroused, basically meaning that any man that sleeps with her is doomed to die. The problem herein is that she is deeply in love with Gennosuke, but knows that if she sleeps with him, he will be unable to lead the Kouga clan, and also be unable to wed Oboro. As such, Kagerou is a very broken and spiteful woman who uses her good looks to lure men in to kill them. The only things on her mind are eventually being with Gennosuke so the two of them can die together, and killing Oboro so that Gennosuke will have no choice but to turn to her. Surprisingly, she tries to force herself on Gennosuke a couple of times in the series, making rape not simply a “male” crime in this story without inducing a double standard. She goes through utterly HORRIFIC treatment at the hands of Tenzen late in the series and actually makes the viewer manage to feel sympathy for her, even after what she had tried to do. Along with Saemon, Kagerou shows the progression of sanity and moral loss, being villainous, but sympathetic.

16:Azuki Rousai- Iga Clan

Old Man Rousai is pretty interestingly designed, looking very much like a moustachioed octopus. His abilities are nothing new, having the power to stretch his powerful limbs to inhuman proportions in a manner similar to Luffy from One Piece. His personality, however, is very much that of a grumpy old man. He is usually scowling or grumbling at something, but at some points it can be rather hilarious. Although some of the attempts he makes on people are very much not ok, Rousai is still humorous in his own way, as in a flashback he tries to scare away Oboro’s hiccups along with another character higher on this list. Though unsuccessful, it’s worth a good laugh. He also seems to be somewhat rational, albeit brutal, often having to calm down the hotheads of his group from doing something stupid all while trying to keep his own cool. Rousai, however, is nothing really new. He’s a rubbery man who wants you to get off his lawn, and I honestly wish he had more character development before his (frankly horrific) death.

15:Yashamaru: Iga Clan

OH horror of horrors the fangirls are going to kill me. Why is Yashamaru, the prettiest pretty boy of the series this low? Because he is boring. All we see of him is that he is a plucky handsome kid who is the betrothed of Hotarubi, a far more interesting and complex character. It is described that he wants a peaceful life with his sweetheart, but we only see moments of that and Yashamaru spends much of his very short time alive fighting. I know that he is aesthetically pleasing, even after he has to cut his hair to escape Kazamachi, but it would have been interesting to see more about him, particularly about his personality. His ability is also nothing unique, using garrotte wires made out of hair. It’s been done before. What Yashamaru does do, however, is provide a catalyst and motivator for Hotarubi.

14:Udono Jousuke- Kouga Clan

One of two sources of comic relief in this series, Jousuke is a walking Larry, Mo, and Curly show. A big fun in every sense of the word in a very similar manner to Budai, (the fat Buddha), Jousuke is a very jolly fellow, which makes his death incredibly jarring to the viewer. While many people would believe that Jousuke is just stupid humor personified, he is far from stupid, and in fact acts very stupid to throw his enemies off. He is by far the most trusted among the Kouga by Gennosuke, and with reason for that. This character takes Rousai’s rubber man tendencies and runs with them, figuratively of course. His entire body can conform to any shape and can bounce off of any surface. Also, he can’t be hit with sword blows, at all, because his thick blubbery skin either causes weapons to bounce off him, or get absorbed into his body. This guy is absolutely hilarious, and although he is a huge pervert, it is played for laughs rather than making him a dangerous monster, which would severely damage his hilarity.

13:Akeginu- Iga Clan

Akeginu is the prettiest of the female ninjas in the series, and she certainly uses this to her advantage, luring in victims easily. However, her beauty is severely affected by her ability, which is to use her own blood as a mist or target marking. Although this would seem like a very weak ability compared to the ability to force someone to kill themselves with a look, manipulating ones hair like hundreds of limbs, or using a whirlwind to tear faces off, it is in fact very useful, particularly in high stress situations or when fighting in the fog. She is also notable for being a much kinder and gentler mentor and caretaker of Oboro than her Oboro’s grandmother Ogen, and in fact serves as a sort of mother figure for the naive and innocent girl. She is very sympathetic because of this, and when she dies, it is known that Oboro is lost and alone in the world with no one to guide her. The writers could have chosen to just make her a generic “sexy ninja” but they chose to give her such honorable traits as well. I really like this character, but there are many more to come.

12:Chikuma Koshirou- Iga Clan

Koshirou is an interesting character in the story as he becomes severely handicapped about halfway through as his own whirlwind attack is turned against him and hits him in the eyes, blinding him. Because of this, he must learn to fight blind, using Ogen’s hawk as a guide. He is also a surprisingly emotionally complex character for a bishounen, being jealous of Gennosuke for his relationship with Oboro, and torn between his loyalty to his evil mentor Tenzen and his beloved leader. His death is also one of the most anger-inducing moments in the series and it shows that even the “good” Kouga can do something malicious and twisted if they wish to. His ability is to create vortexes out of thin air to shred the faces of his enemies. It is absolutely horrific and nightmarish, and rather gross to witness. But with all the tragedy, high-intensity emotions, and horror surrounding Koshirou, what sadly many people prefer to remember him by is his looks. That is a damned shame, if you ask me.

11:Kouga Gennosuke- Kouga Clan

The main character everybody! Kouga Gennosuke is very much the archetypical shounen protagonist, being an incredibly fierce fighter while being honorable and kind to his people. In this series, he struggles to maintain devotion to his clan while also remaining with his lover, Oboro, even as war breaks out. He is very defiant about killing Iga ninja, and it isn’t until the end when he and Oboro joint kill one using their powers and Gennosuke’s swordsmanship. He is a very pleasant individual and is clearly broken by the events going on around him. So why isn’t the main character any higher on this list? Well, simply put, while Gennosuke is a great protagonist, he isn’t anything unique or groundbreaking and there are characters more well-developed and unique than he is. Still, he is a great and relatable character to base the events of the story around.

10:Iga Oboro- Iga Clan

Oboro is a fantastic character. Through the series, she undergoes much more development than any other character, and although people are more than willing to classify her as weak and boring, she is far from that. It takes a certain strength to remain devoted to one’s lover when they are forced to be your enemy by the political elites. She is resistant to the battle to the bitter and tragic end. Some of the things that this woman witnesses and experiences are beyond horrific, from murder, to rape, to being betrayed by her own second in command for political gain. However, Oboro grows from these horrors and by the end of the story is a very strong and determined woman in her own right. She is an example that shows that not every woman in an action series has to be a fighter to be badass in that her ability allows her to nullify any ninja’s power, rendering them defenseless, JUST BY LOOKING AT THEM. If that isn’t badass, I apparently don’t know what is.

9: Kouga Danjo- Kouga Clan

The leader of the Kouga Clan and badass grandpa to Gennosuke, this old man edges out his grandson and his betrothed by a longshot. Although we do not see much of him after he and his former lover Ogen kill each other in the first episode, (in a VERY tearful and heartwrenching scene that sets the mood for the entire piece), it is clear that he was a very capable leader. Danjou is a very skilled ninja, utilizing poisoned needles that he blows with his mouth rather than using his hands, allowing him to utilize the element of surprise, and it is clear that it is because of him that the Kouga are so strong.

8:Iga Ogen- Iga Clan

Never mess with granny, indeed! In fact, it was quite hard to place her and Danjo on this list as they are so equally matched in the category of “I am old and awesome”. However, it is Ogen that continues to help the most even after her sudden and unexpected murder at the hands of her former lover. Ogen, you see, is a master of animals, and her hawk proves to be a valuable asset to the Iga Clan, carrying messages and serving as a distraction during battles. As for Ogen herself, she is one of two brutally honest ninjas of her clan, saying exactly what she wants to say and not what would be appropriate for the time or “ladylike” to say. She is a very powerful old woman and it is clear that she not only earned her status as Iga’s leader, but she DESERVED it. Also, her story with Danjo is one of the saddest and most emotionally moving subplots of the entire series.

7:Okoi- Kouga Clan

 

The tomboy of the series and the biggest source of fanservice as well, Okoi is still a very powerful young lady, not only in physical form but also in powers. Unlike the previous mentioned female ninjas, she dresses in a rather masculine manner and is a hand to hand combatant with the muscles to show for it. However, where Okoi shines is with her absolutely horrifying powers. Unlike Akeginu who manipulates her own blood, Okoi is a very pretty looking leech with the ability to suck the blood of her enemies from skin to skin contact. This makes her skimpy attire very justified as her powers hinge on her being able to touch someone with as much of herself as she can. She is also more brash, boisterous, and loud than other women and enjoys going boar hunting. As such, she is the perfect foil to her brother, the manipulative Saemon. Okoi is a very fun character in the series, and it’s easy to see why so many people like her, even to the point of out and out vilifying the person who killed her, (who coincidentally appears higher on this list). It was sad to see her go, but what she brought to the series was unique and well-needed.

6:Kazamachi Shougen- Kouga Clan

Oh Kazamachi, how I wish I knew more about you. However, what we do know about this ninja is that, despite his absolutely hideous appearance being one of the ugliest characters in the entire show, (only out-uglied by Jingoro),the spider ninja is actually remarkably honorable and a very good person. He is shown to enjoy fishing and friendly competition amongst his fellow Kouga, having a bit of a rivalry with Jubei as he dismisses the sage’s predictions. He is in every sense of the word a spider, possessing saliva that can be used as an incredibly sticky web, long dextrous limbs, and a bulbous hunchback. He even has decorated his forehead with red brow studs to make it look like he has multiple eyes and tends to get around on all fours. If ever there was a ninja committed to a theme, it’s this guy. He is also committed to his people and defending the honor of the Kouga clan at all costs. I admire this monster’s bravery, as he spits in the face of his murderer rather than jeopardize the safety of his people by giving her any information. Due to his uniqueness as well as his personality, Kazamachi more than deserves this spot.

5:Hotarubi- Iga Clan

If you looked up the definition of “woman scorned” in a phrasebook, you would find a picture of this character. However, she is so much more than just an angry woman out for vengeance after her lover is murdered. Hotarubi is described as “strange” even by her own people and even by ninjas that are far stranger than her. She is capable of being both a lovely maiden and a dangerous warrior, making her not solely confined by one identity unlike the solely tomboyish Okoi or the lovely Akeginu. That all being said, Hotarubi is a very interesting character in part because of her volatile and unpredictable temper. One moment she may be waxing poetic over Yashamaru, and another time she might be repeatedly stabbing someone in the chest while screaming like a banshee. Her powers are also very unique in that she has an animal companion in the form of a poisonous snake, but she can also summon insects with hand seals to do her bidding such as serving as camouflage or chewing through a net. She is a very multi-dimensional woman, which is unusual in an anime that doesn’t focus on women. She’s not just a wallflower or there to look pretty. She can kick some serious ass and as such is my favorite lady in the series. 

4:Jimushi Jubei- Kouga Clan

Here is a character that I wish I could have gotten to know more, but what we do know about him is that he is an undisputed badass. I mean, where else have you heard of a quadriplegic SWORDSMAN? How does he fight without arms or legs, you ask? He keeps swords in his throat and uses his flexible tongue to strike out at enemies. This guy is also faster than most other ninjas on foot, without having any limbs at all, slithering around on the ground like a serpent. Jubei is shown to be a fortune teller and a reader of the stars, as well, with the Kouga clan basing their movements around his predictions. He is a very thoughtful individual because of this, and even has a rather odd sense of humor, laughing instead of cowering when threatened by Tenzen. Many of the ninjas in the story are rather brash and act on their instincts, so Jubei is in the minority as a planner and schemer. It is unfortunate that he died so early on, as it would have been cool to see more of him. However, what we did see was a fantastic and interesting ninja who was a force to be reckoned with, even without arms or legs.

3:Muroga Hyoma- Kouga Clan

Hyoma is more than just a handsome face, although he is that too. He served as a mentor to his nephew Gennosuke when the latter was a child, teaching him the Dojutsu art. He is a very insightful, calm, and level-headed individual, rarely losing his cool. Also, he is one of the handicapped warriors of the Kouga Clan, along with Jubei, being unable to use his eyes. However, what is remarkable is why he is blind: Hyoma’s dojutsu is so powerful that he must keep his eyes shut at all times or risk forcing EVERYONE around him into suicide with the closest thing they can find. I seem to have a thing for the “master” type in anime as Hiko Seijuurou is one of my favorite characters in Rurouni Kenshin. Hyoma, however, is much more mellow than Hiko, and in an anime full of very strong and bold personalities, it oddly makes him stand out. Another thing to note about Hyoma is just how incredibly strong he is in body and spirit. The man dies standing up for one thing, and he still is a great swordsman despite not being able to use his eyes to see with. He is also a brilliant adviser and tactician, keeping the more boisterous members of the Kouga Clan from acting out of instinct or rage. In a sense, he is sort of like a father figure to them all, not just Gennosuke. His control over himself, his abilities, and everything that he does is remarkable and many other anime featuring noble swordsmen should do well to learn from his example.

2: Kasumi Gyobu- Kouga Clan

If it weren’t for one member of the Iga Clan that is at number one, this character would be my favorite, and he still holds a place in my heart. A reckless man, Gyobu is very much shaped by his past, in which his father was murdered before his eyes when he was very young. Since then, he has been continuously training and has shaped his body into a literal mountain of muscle. In spite of not really looking like a ninja as such, Gyobu is without a doubt the best “ninja” out of the entire series. His ability allows him to meld with any surface undetected and then surprise his enemy with a quick break of the neck. The ability to hide in plain sight is very valuable to any ninja, and Gyobu could hide literally ANYWHERE. One drawback to this ability is that Gyobu must remove all of his clothing in order to blend in, creating 90% of the nude scenes in the series, (though you won’t hear me complaining). Along with being incredibly strong, he is also incredibly smart, if impulsive, making him highly relatable. But the reason why this character is so high is that this character was the first character in a LONG time in any series to make me ugly cry with his demise. It hadn’t been since I finished the final Harry Potter book that I bawled that hard and was depressed that long. That is the mark of a remarkable character, if their departure makes you that upset to see them go.

And my favorite character in the series is…

1: Mino Nenki- Iga Clan

Oh my goodness, this guy is an AMAZING character. In any other series, he would have been relegated to “creepy background guy #100”, but here he stands out as one of the few sources of comedy in this bleak series. Nenki is a brash, blunt, and brutally honest ninja, and one of the most relatable of the Iga clan.  He is the only member of his clan to acknowledge that Oboro is still a young girl and doesn’t quite understand the ways of the world yet, and in one of the flashback episodes, he attempts to cure her hiccups and is said to have turned his ridiculously disheveled mane of hair into a playground for her. About that hair…Nenki has one of the most unusual abilities of any anime character I have ever seen. His entire hair, (head, body, even NOSE) is prehensile and alive. He can grip clubs in his mane and swing from trees by his nose hair. Most devastatingly, he can also make his hair into sharpened spikes for a nasty impalement. It is clear that the writers had an existing character in mind when they created Nenki: Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, and, until SMITE came along, he was the BEST interpretation of the character in another medium. Before reaching enlightenment through his journey, Sun Wukong can be described as a jerkass, but as he moves along, his heart of gold starts to shine through. Nenki is the same way: a jerk with a heart of gold. The series equivalent of Wolverine,  Nenki is truly a unique character and my favorite in the entire series.

 

Wow, That was a big post. Up next will be a much smaller one, I promise!

 

 

BELAY THAT!: Top 10 Villainous Swordsmen in Anime, Manga, and Games

Because

Let’s face it. I work much better in a top 10 format during the work week. The long in-depth post about the anime/manga that I feel is underrated, the Mythology Snob review of SMITE, and the 10 hearts drink recipe will be coming soon. But for now, let’s talk about one of my favorite things: Bad Guys.

What do you have in media without a villain? You have little conflict and in some cases, little investment and little interest. So, as part of my appreciation for villains of all shapes, sizes, genders, orientations, and backgrounds, once a week I will have a villains countdown. However, I will base this entirely around the weapon that they use, or lack thereof, (I plan on doing a “Top 10 Sissy Villains” countdown sometime, too.).

So why swords? Well, generally, with the exception of tales that take place in ancient times, it’s the good guys that use swords where the bad guys use something more vicious, like an axe or a club.It takes discipline to wield a sword, and these gentlemen and gentleladies are certainly up to the task.

The rules for this countdown are that the character MUST be a villain, so sadly, as much as I LOVE Loghain MacTir from Dragon Age Origins, he will not be on this list because he is more of an anti-hero and snark knight once you redeem him. Only irredeemable villains for this list! Once again, it must be from a game that I have played, a manga that I have read, or an anime that I have watched, and only one per series. Special consideration will be given to villains who exhibit a certain amount of flair and uniqueness when using their trademark weapon, because, after all, this isn’t about swords, this is the men and monsters that wield them.

10:Pyramid Head- Silent Hill 2

It’s a KNIFE you say? It doesn’t COUNT you say? Well…that’s why Pyramid Head is only Number 10 on this list. I wasn’t entirely sure if his gigantic knife counted as a sword, but considering that it is the size of two men put together, I’m going to say it does. The other reason why Pyramid Head is so low is that, although absolutely horrifying, monstrous, and violent, he has little to no development. He’s just that huge scary triangle-headed man that rapes monsters and tries to punish James. Another reason is that he is the only character on this list from a horror game, so he HAS to be made to be scary. None of the other gents on this list HAD to be scary. And by whatever deity you believe in, he is STILL scary, even after all these years. A soulless, mindless beast, Pyramid Head is the most fitting personification of the concept of pain that I have ever seen.

9: Cervantes de Leon- Soul Calibur series

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WHAT?! Not Nightmare? You got that right. No Nightmare. Why? Because he’s simply an eeeeeevil version of Siegfried, who is a good guy. Real bad guys don’t copy good guys. Real bad guys have GUN SWORDS. Cervantes is a ghost zombie pirate with two swords and is a force to be reckoned with in the hands of a skilled player. As I stated, his swords aren’t just swords, they aren’t just fragments of the Soul Edge, they are SWORDS…with GUNS ON THEM. That is immensely fantastic. Also, I always have liked pirates, so I had to put a pirate somewhere on this list, and Cervantes seemed like the perfect choice. So why is he placed so low if he is so awesome? Well, he’s really not overly creative with his weapons and Soul Calibur is taking a turn for the worst with the latest installment. Still, he needs to be here, because I said so. Also, just to note, I named my cat after this guy. Yep.

8: Yakushiji Tenzen- Basilisk

As much as I absolutely LOATHE this character for the complete and total monster that he is, I can’t deny Tenzen’s skill with a sword, nor his resilience. Seriously! Almost nothing can kill this guy! Not to mention, he kills off several of the coolest characters in the series, including a limbless ninja who also wields a sword. Tenzen is complex in that he isn’t simply a man of action, he’s also a behind the scenes sort of guy, plotting and twisting the battle between the Kouga and the Iga to his advantage so he can gain power. He is also one of few on this list that have no redeeming or good qualities whatsoever, which, in a series of ambiguous anti-heroes, hideously ugly heroic characters, and jerkasses, labels him the strongest contender for “villain”. So, while he is a rapist, a murderer, and a schemer, those things only serve to make him a great villain. The fact that I hate him as much as I do is an ode to just how twisted and evil he is. And on this countdown, being THAT evil grants you a spot on my list.

7: Aatrox, The Darkin Blade: League of Legends

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As much as I wanted to put a character from SMITE on here, none of the gods are really completely evil. Even LOKI has some redeemable qualities. However, there is someone who I can consider quite evil in League of Legends and he happens to wield a sword. Granted, Aatrox sounds like a pretty good guy at first, inspiring the losing side of a fight in battle to gain the advantage. However, it’s what he does AFTERWARDS that firmly cements him as villainous. You see, Aatrox likes blood, and death, and killing a lot. So what does he do once the side that he was inspiring wins a battle? Convinces them to go on massacres, killing just about everything in sight. Interestingly, unlike many other blood and death-obsessed madmen, Aatrox is very poetic and insightful, and refers to battles as his “masterpieces”, speaking of them with great pride. His eloquence only serves to enhance his evil-doings. Even NOXUS, the most warlike city-state, hates this guy. That says something. Too bad he plays like crap.

6:Ares- God of War

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As much as I bashed these games in one of my posts, you’d be surprised to see this character here. However, I pointedly said that I enjoyed the first game, and particularly enjoyed it because of this character. To put it simply, Ares is an evil, EVIL bastard of the “blood knight” variety, quite similar to the aforementioned Aatrox, actually, just far less culturally refined and more sadistic. What else would you expect from the God of War? One of the few surprisingly accurately portrayed characters in the game, Ares not only delights in causing death and chaos, but he also enjoys manipulating others to serve his goals. Let’s not forget that, although Kratos is an absolute monster, it was Ares that made him that way. I could blame this guy for the rest of the games sucking if I wanted to, but instead I’ll focus on how fantastic of a final boss he was and how wonderful his representation was. He makes the perfect villain for the game and is no slouch with the ridiculously oversized sword he wields.

5:Vicious- Cowboy Bebop

What can I say? In a world where everything is guns and high tech spaceships, it takes a lot of nards to fight with a sword. Not to mention, this man was originally a good guy, but completely snapped and fell down the slippery slope to villainy after his rival, Spike, the protagonist, began an affair with his wife. Cheating and betrayal are hard-hitting events in a person’s life, and in some cases can completely change who the person once was, which is the case with Vicious. Still, this guy wins major points just for using a katana in an age where guns are the most commonly used weapon. He is also completely remorseless and cold, and unlike some other villains on this list, never smiles, not even when he is fighting Spike. Still, he remains determined to get at his former friend and stops at nothing to see him suffer for all the pain that he caused him. A great villain fitting one of the greatest anime of all time.

4: Zant- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

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As much as I adore Ganondorf and his manly, evil, dastardly charms, I had to place Zant here instead of him for the sheer fact that Zant is an absolutely INSANE fighter. Whereas Ganondorf, Girahim, and Demise are relatively disciplined in their fighting, Zant attacks you in a tantrum of a whirling dervish. I’m not the biggest fan of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker is my favorite Zelda game, so this is certainly surprising to see out of me. Again, the reason is because of creativity and the sheer unexpectedness of the fight with Zant. A mysterious character turned absolutely berserk, this ruthless ruler provides a fantastic challenge to go up against. I find that many people point at Girahim as being the turning point for Zelda games in terms of unique bosses, but for me, it was Zant that started this trend and he certainly deserves a spot on this list.

3: Blight- Okami

Why is this guy so high? Do you even HAVE to ask? Okami is one of the most beautiful and immersive games I have ever played, and Blight is one of the most memorable and interesting swordsmen that I have been introduced to. To be specific, Blight isn’t a him…Blight is an “it”. Specifically he is a possessed suit of armor made into a pincushion by a series of blades and emitting a poisonous cloud from his…lack of body. And just what is possessing Blight? Why, it’s Goldnail, the sword he wields. Said sword saw so much blood, death, and destruction as it was passed from master to master that it eventually gained sentience and a thirst for the red stuff. This boss is my favorite in the game, second only to the fantastic battle with Yami. Also of note is his location. Blight has somehow shrunk himself down, entered the body of the Emperor, and now is causing him to spew poison, causing villagers to get sick and die. Imagine finding out that something like THAT was living inside of you. Yuck.

2: Urushido Koshichiro- The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls

Wow. Just…just wow. Forget blind swordsmen that might be evil for a second, and think about how insanely difficult it must be to learn how to use a sword with only one arm. This man is an absolute powerhouse, and a surprisingly well characterized villain. Many of the villains in this little known Masaki Segawa series simply have the traits of being evil and laughing a lot, but Koshichiro has depth. He isn’t just an evil man, he’s a poetic individual, seen to clasp a cherry tree branch in his teeth before he murders someone. He also wants to constantly test his skills in battle, and when given the chance to fight the protagonist, Jubei, he is practically frothing at the mouth at the opportunity. In a “roaring rampage of revenge” tale, it is very rare for the villains to be interesting, but this character always had me constantly wondering what he was up to and what he would do next. They could have just left him as a ruthless one-armed man, but the writers chose to make what would turn out to be a better villain than the main villain of the story. A great overlooked villain, from a great overlooked manga series.

And the number 1 villainous sword wielder, without a doubt, is…

1: Kurogasa/Jin-e Udo- Rurouni Kenshin and Rurouni Kenshin Restoration

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When I think “bad guy with a sword”, Jin-e is the first character I think of. This is somewhat of an odd choice for Number One considering that far more popular villain, Shishio, also wields a sword. Still, I found Shishio to be dull and uninspiring compared to the sheer madness that is Kurogasa. Rurouni Kenshin was one of the first anime I ever watched, and oddly enough, I find the “goofy” first part to be my favorite. This is mostly due to the fact that everything is happy go lucky, and all of a sudden a nightmarish man in a hat, skin tight bodysuit, and robe wearing a grin that could make the Titans piss themselves shows up. It was at this point where I knew that this series was going to turn into something fantastic. Just when I thought that this combative sadomasochist couldn’t get more bizarre and memorable, Restoration comes around and adds even MORE layers and traits to Jin-e. No longer simply satisfied over being a demon with a sword, Jin-e fights by jamming the ends of his swords THROUGH holes in his hands and slashing violently at opponents even more effortlessly. The new series also provides more glimpses into the past and what caused him to go mad and embrace the life of a serial killer. A fantastic, remorseless, creative, and entertaining monster of a man, Jin-e more than deserves this spot.

What is a Horror Writer Afraid of?

 

*runs screaming*

Seriously though, I’m all for facing your fears, and I do it on a regular basis. It’s pretty goofy for a horror author to have fears, but everyone does, even the masters. Stephen King is afraid of spiders, the number 13 and balloons. H.P. Lovecraft was terrified of fish. Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest fear was eggs. What do I fear? Well…surprisingly very silly things when you think about it.

5: Bees and their Keepers

 

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Play Metal Gear Solid 3, they said. It will be FUN, they said.

Mushizo

This anime film is based on the Kouga Ninja Scrolls book? Awesome..oh wait-NOIT’SNOT!

Oh god, my childhood horror, it’s coming back to me!

NOPENOPENOPENOPENOPE!

To put it lightly, I am extremely terrified of insects of the bee, wasp, hornet, and yellowjacket persuasion. For a time when I was younger, it used to be so bad that even cartoon pictures of bees would scare me. It became very unhealthy, and to this point, mostly everything involving bees scares the everloving CRAP out of me, even if it is in an acclaimed animated film or as part of a fantastic video game. So how did I develop a crippling fear of bees? I stepped on one when I was a little girl and had to be driven to the hospital so the still squirming monstrously huge hornet could be pulled from my foot. Although my severe melissophobia has slightly diminished over the years, these things STILL scare me. The only exceptions to the rule of bees = scary are Ah Muzen Cab of SMITE, (one of my favorite characters) and Nicolas Cage. The worst out of all of these examples though is The Pain from Metal Gear Solid 3. Whereas with Ninja Scroll, Candyman, and other examples, I could just leave the room and it would go away, you HAVE to defeat The Pain to progress with the rest of the (fantastic) game. I ended up making a close friend do it as I put something over my face so I couldn’t see it and cried. Of course, this being an actual legitimate phobia, I had to put it at the bottom of the list. Bees are scary and deadly, guys! It’s totally not funny!

4: Phone-o-phobia

Basically, the fear of talking to strangers, (especially important strangers) over the telephone. Despite being a confident woman, I suffer from the fear that I will somehow be judged over the phone, or flub up on my words, or forget something. It is here that we edge into the “Boy, Beck, you sure are pathetic” territory. I admit that this is a really stupid thing to be afraid of, but many important things can rest on a phone call: a relationship, a job, your future. It just makes me a little apprehensive. Strangely, when at work, I have no problem calling people and taking messages, but at home when a strange number calls my cell phone or I have to call someone different on it, I freak out a little.

3: Driving

I’m 23 and I don’t drive. Why? Well, it’s actually more complicated than you would think. I fear being in control of such a large machine that is capable of destroying someone. It’s like a constant string of what ifs. What if I hit a deer? What if I hit a person? What if there is a bee in the car and I need to drive? What if someone cuts the tires? What if? What if? WHAT IF?! The one time I practiced driving I almost ran over my parents’ toolshed if that tells you anything. To me, driving is like being put in control of a giant robot. Said giant robot can be helpful, but it can also screw up someone else’s life. Sheesh I’m an idiot.

2: Flume Rides

My parents and friends consider this the stupidest thing that I am afraid of. I literally know of no one else who is afraid of these and am constantly called ridiculous and dumb for being terrified of them. My parents LOVE log flumes and when I was young, they had no choice but to take a terrified, shaking, screaming child on with them. They seemed to think that pulling my hat over my eyes so I couldn’t see and constantly talking about how we were going to “make a splash” was somehow effective. It wasn’t. The reason why these things scare me SO much is, unlike roller coasters, you are not strapped in at ALL. I would always fear falling out and falling in the water and nobody coming to help me. Stupid, I know. Oddly enough, I LOVE water slides.

And the Number 1 Most Ridiculous Thing that I Am Afraid of Is…

1: King Ramses from Courage the Cowardly Dog

To put into perspective just how TERRIFYING this thing STILL is to me after so many years, I jumped when the pictures came up on Google’s image search, and a gif version made me scream like a little girl. Its eyes, its mouth, its creepy ass arms, its lack of legs. EVERYTHING about this creation is wrong and the creators of Courage the Cowardly Dog knew that they were going to scar children for LIFE with this. This is the thing that even -I-, the person who is irrationally afraid of it, consider to be incredibly stupid to be afraid of. It’s a cartoon mummy with a creepy voice and bizarre movements, why am I scared of it? Why after so many years does this thing still haunt me? It’s SCARIER to me than most horror movies. Hell, this guy is right below bees on my shit-bricks-o-meter. The sad thing is I’ve tried to move past this fear so many times, but it still freaks me out. I’ve even considered talking to my doctor about it, the doctor that helped improve my melissophobia and is an amazing person to talk to, but I know that even she would think that this is completely ridiculous.

So those are stupid things that scare me. Next up on the blog I will discuss a fantastic anime that is sadly overlooked by many and considered to be many things that it is really not.