Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles
Set at the junction of a few parallel dimensions, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles is a quest-based anime where our hero, Syaoran, must re-assemble fragments of something that he unknowingly broke and scattered. In this case, what must be re-assembled are fragments of his love interest's (Sakura) mind. Along for the ride are three odd-ball characters: Kurogane, a punchy warrior who's a little rough around the edges; Fay, a laid back mage; and Makona, who is our resident cuddly creature that is used to generate stuffed-animal merchandising sales. In typical quest-based fashion, the characters slowly form a bond, develop hidden powers, and go through various tasks that explore the wide range of human emotions.
What really separates Tsubasa from other quest-based anime is the extremely high production value (which is evident in the way the series blends traditional animation and CGI magic) and the wonderful cinematic score. In addition, the first DVD really lays the groundwork for a potentially deep plot that I'm very eager to see unfold, so Tsubasa definitely gets a must-watch rating from this anime aficionado. Similar animes include Inuyasha, currently airing on the Cartoon Network, and Those Who Hunt Elves, which is probably one of the funnier animes I've ever seen.
As for Afro Samurai, I have to admit when I first saw the DVD I initially thought that Afro Samurai was going to be a cross between Samurai Jack and Shaft (partly because Samuel L. Jackson provides the leading actor's voiceover). Upon actually watching the series, however, I've found Afro Samurai is much closer to Kill Bill meets the remade Samurai 7, as the series has Tarantino levels of blood and gore accompanied by fairly graphic sexual content. All of which is set in this oddly futuristic environment where traditionally dressed sword-wielding Samurai exist in a world with cell phones and robots (no one ever said anime had to be realistic).
The basic premise of the series is that in this pseudo-futuristic world there exist TWO headbands, one with the #1 on it and the other with the #2 on it. The bearer of the #1 headband is treated like a god and only the bearer of the #2 headband may challenge him for the #1 headband. The bearer of the #2 headband, however, must fight all comers. Our protagonist, Afro, wears the #2 headband and is searching for the wearer of #1, who killed his father to attain that title. Add to the fray a group of outsiders who are stalking Afro in an attempt to steal both the headband and his skill, and you have a really violent, animated epic that would make any fan of Kill Bill-style brutality proud. As such, this series is definitely not for the faint-hearted fans of romantic comedies, but if you're looking for a series that lives on the edge of the sword and possess mounds of body-scattering goodness, this is definitely something you shouldn't miss.
The Smug Dude
Recently Reinstated Anime Otaku & Closet Geek