Fanart Friday returns, treating Skippy's List like the Bible. Last week, we checked out some pirate-related fanARRRRT, but this week we're all about service and defense with MILITARY-themed characters! This theme was initially requested by CR user dmrscruz09, and I wasn't at all surprised at the huge amount of reader requests for their favorite military characters.
I grew up in a military family--my dad was a US Marine, and I was lucky enough to travel around the world, even living in Okinawa, Japan for a few years. I dealt with AFRTS TV and its educational commercials, I know the joy of Officers' Club Sunday brunch buffets, and I very keenly miss my tax-free shopping at the Exchange and Commissary. Military characters run the full spectrum of military life, from elite fighting men and women to grunts who are just trying to make it through the work day. Now, let's get started!
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To me, what's the most important military-themed anime of all time? Mobile Suit Gundam, preferably anything from the One Year War timeframe. While Gundam has its share of over-the-top drama and giant robot combat, its main focus is on the people who go through it all, including stories about the difficulties of the chain of command and the mental and emotional consequences of war.
Of course, I couldn't forget to include Alliance Commander (then Cerberus, uh... unofficial Commander... then Alliance Commander again) Shepard from the Mass Effect series. Even though Shepard has a team of "best of the best" elites, they all mesh together and find some way to complement the crew instead of setting off on their own.
Anime is filled with private military companies, like Full Metal Panic's Mithril. While they're technically mercenaries, they're still good guys, trying to keep the Black Technology out of the hands of terrorists and putting down violent uprisings whenever they can.
Speaking of highly-trained private military companies, there's always the Real American (and every other country under the sun) Heroes of G.I. Joe! Honestly, the Retaliation movie was pretty cool, and had a lot of great nods to the Marvel comics series.
In monarchies, nobles or titled men and women can take command of military forces. In Code Geass, Suzaku worked his way up from the bottom, starting as a grunt and eventually becoming one of the feared Knights of the Round.
Sorry to those of you who love it, but I just couldn't keep up with Soranowoto. It was a real clash for me, visually--you're trying to be serious and present tension regarding the possibility of war, but its with these cutesy K-ON character designs and standard-fare anime hijinx? Still, I appreciate seeing military-themed anime that aren't all sturm and drang.
You ever notice how in Fire Emblem, you're usually a member of a ragtag militia, while the bad guys tend to have a large organized force?
Fullmetal Alchemist has what I consider one of the most detailed and realistic militaries in anime. All levels of rank are represented, from recruits to NCOs to WOs to junior and senior officers, and how a lot of modern military work is actually office work and maintenance. The series also went out of its way to show the toll that fighting can take on people--it isn't pretty.
On the flipside, One Piece's Marines follow a pretty loosely-set-up command hierarchy--the strongest people are on top as Admirals, and then they have a hundred thousand mooks under them who get trampled underfoot in battle.
I checked last week's comment section three times, and I can finally say what everyone here says to me: HOW COULD YOU GUYS FORGET METAL GEAR? Forget that other game with snap aiming and quickscoping, Metal Gear is one of the most important military games, always giving real-feeling context to Snake's insane adventures.
Strike Witches came out in roughly the same timeframe as Sky Girls, so you can forgive me for getting the two confused. All I know is that in one of them (or both of them), most of the able-bodied adult men and women have died in combat, so it's up to teenagers to take up arms. And then in one of them (or both of them?), the special weaponry they use can only be operated while (sigh) not wearing pants.
Jin-Roh is what first comes to mind for me in the "dystopian military sci-fi" department. Never an easy watch (or an easy read, in the case of the original Kerberos manga), Jin-Roh takes any hope of a happy ending you have and executes it in the street as an example. There's a reason the military and the police are two separate entities.
Many countries today have compulsory military service--it's a smart way to give kids fresh out of high school training and direction--but it's rare to see something on the level of Naruto, where kids are taught to be ninja from their first day in school, effectively training to be soldiers and spies first in everything they do.
I was glad to see a reader request Dutch, the character Arnold Schwarzenegger plays in Predator. It's rare to see Ahnuld play a character where you actually remember the character more than Arnold, as Dutch and his elite fighting men play off each other really well.
Have I mentioned how much I love Valkyria Chronicles? Oh, I have, numerous times? Well, let's go through it again: Valkyria Chronicles hits that perfect sweet spot between turn-based strategy, real-time strategy, and straight-up RPG. There's permanent character death, but you have the chance to fix your mistakes. The story's not too shabby, either!
Bringing the topic back to PMCs again, I can't really call Nadesico's NERGAL a private military company--they're just a corporation who decided to step up and develop their own devastatingly powerful ship and hardware, and staff it with their own hand-picked crew.
Originally, I thought Girls und Panzer was like Upotte--the cute girls were a personification of something, in this case tanks. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was (more or less) about tank biathlons, effectively making it a sports series!
I wonder how Pumpkin Scissors' Oland would handle a tank biathlon course, considering that he's specifically trained to fight tanks on foot. I loved this series, but was really disappointed at how the anime ended--I'll get around to reading the manga sometime.
Pacific Rim's Stacker Pentecost embodies the hard-as-nails military leader who would rather be fighting alongside his men than commanding them from the relative safety of the home base. It helps that he himself was once "just one of the grunts."
Library Wars is a series that I think deserves a lot more love. While it does have some serious action and badass moments, it's more about the characters and their day-to-day lives in an awful world where the Japanese government can censor any media that it deems harmful to Japanese society.
My first two thoughts on Stella Women's Academy are 1- I don't know any airsoft players that look like this and 2- you girls need much better eye and face protection. I have a scar under my right eyebrow because I was an idiot and thought that my glasses would be decent eye protection. They weren't.
Major Motoko Kusanagi is probably the go-to example for a "military police" character, since she chases down terrorists on-foot and in her tiny little mobile tank. Ghost in the Shell is one cyberpunk dystopia that'll stay pretty timeless--even though we're technically "in the future" now with smartphones and the internet, we're always somewhat afraid of a world that's as connected and augmented as the one in GitS.
Here's a literal blast from the past--Those Who Hunt Elves was a great comedy-fantasy series, and the heroes wouldn't be getting anywhere without Ritsuko and her tank!
Attack on Titan is one of those shows that doesn't lionize its military, kinda like Fullmetal Alchemist--they're people, and they all joined up for different reasons. Yeah, some people want to fight, but others want to protect their homes, and there are people who thought the military would be a good career move.
That's one way to end this week. FUMOFFU--er, I mean, CHARGE!
And that's all for this week! There's no way I could have included everybody--who are your favorite military characters from the stuff you watch and play? Sound off in the comments!
Of course, I am always eager to show off your work, regardless of your skill level or experience, so don't hesitate to send it in! Just PM me a link to your work, and I'll make sure to include it in a future installment! For those of you putting art together, here are the next three installments of Fanart Friday:
-Next week, on NOVEMBER 15th, we're wearing stretchy pants for fun in a PRO-WRESTLING theme! Faces, heels, and everything in-between get to shine next week! THIS IS THE ONLY THEME I'M TAKING REQUESTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on NOVEMBER 22nd, we're celebrating the release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds with a full-on LEGEND OF ZELDA installment!
-On NOVEMBER 29th, Thanksgiving has wrapped up and Black Friday is in full swing--truly a dark day for retail workers everywhere. That's why Fanart Friday celebrates our favorite VILLAINS!
Thanks again for coming by to check out Fanart Friday, and big thanks go to everyone worldwide serving their countries in the military. Veterans Day (this coming Monday) may be an American holiday (although there's Remembrance Day in Canada), but the sacrifices big and small that servicemen and women have to deal with are a universal thing. Also, please keep the comments civil--this isn't the place for chest-beating, flag-waving, or just plain being a dick. I hope all of you have a great holiday weekend, and I hope you drop by next time!