Poll: Kitsune no Ken: Naruto's love interest REVISITED - Should it be Ino or Hinata? Vote Now!
Author has written 10 stories for Street Fighter, Justice League, Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh GX, Streets of Rage, Flash, and Naruto.
NAME: Neon Majestic
OCCUPATION: Reporter for The Gleaner, a local newspaper in Jamaica
Just so all will know, I have a G-Mail account that will serve the same purpose as Eiichiro Oda's SBS section in his anime/manga series, One Piece. That SBS section stands for Shitsumon o Boshū Suru, which means "I'm Taking Questions" in Japanese. My own SBS at G-Mail is designed specifically to entertain and respond to questions about my Yu-Gi-Oh fanfiction continuity, but questions about any of my other fan-fics here at the site will be accepted as well. As far as My Yu-Gi-Oh continuity is concerned, you can ask anything about individual characters in the story, or about events, or about whatever you want.
The G-Mail e-mail to send your questions and comments to is: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW UPDATE: I realize some persons might be asking what happened to the two ongoing stories I had here, "The Flash 2055" and "Velocity." Well, I have decided to discontinue them after some serious thinking, and also after making some discoveries regarding the origin of the superhero genre that would be at odds with my own Christian faith. Plus, I know that I would never be able to finish "Velocity." So, sorry to all those who've been following those stories up to now...but, I had to do what I had to do. Will I ever continue fanfiction writing? I'm not sure yet. If I do, you will know, and if I do, it may probably be in a different genre. We'll just have to see. All the completed works that I have on this site will remain in place, however. Those of you who want to know how both stories would have ended (because I had the endings mapped out for both of them) can e-mail me at the above-given e-mail address and I will respond.
Now, here are answers to the questions sent to the Neomage SBS Corner! Keep them coming, and they will be answered!
AGES OF RYOU AND TEA IN YGO: FOREVER: I always assumed that most of the other kids in the main YGO timeline were older than Yugi, and the fact that the YGO Wikia page lists only days and months (but not years) for their birthdays didn't make the problem any better. Consequently, I had in mind that yes, the older Bakuras were in fact older than Yugi, thus in Forever they would be around their early 40's.
HOW YGO: ETERNAL WOULD HAVE TURNED OUT: The remaining duels in the Phoenix herald Crown would have been: Seta vs. Jan, Jessica vs. Janus, then Jan vs. Janus, then Janus vs. Gabriel (who would have used a Gladiator Beast deck), then Janus vs. Drake. Janus would have won, but that would have triggered an ordeal where, over a period of arcs, he and his friends would have had to seek out the remaining Shadow Charm Items and defeat an underground organization that's been in existence for over 2000 years. The Jewel Duelist would have been revealed to have, indeed, been the long-lost Racquel (though neither Janus nor Drake would ever have been made aware of that fact till near the end of the planned script), and she would have been the daughtert of Jesse (Johan) Anderson, who was murdered prior to the story's timeline by said underground organization. The organization's members would have used the Earthbound Immortals, and one of their chief members would have been Malachi's mentor between the time of the Lightbearer cult's destruction and the start of the present-day story.
WHY MRS. PHOENIX (in YGO: Eternal) HATES DUEL MONSTERS: If I had continued the story, her reason would have become a plot point. You see, her brother (not Gabriel Roman, by the way) was an aspiring Duel Monsters professional, but he spent so little time with her and eventually left home, leaving her behind. Therefore, as she grew up, she strongly believed that Duel Monsters makes people abandon those loved ones of theirs who should truly be top priority. Additionally, Mrs. Phoenix doesn't understand the appeal of Duel Monsters - to her, they're just cards and holograms, nothing more, nothing less.
FATES OF CALHOUN VINCENTE AND VASHA MORRISON (YGO: Eternal): I had been thinking of a mini-arc where the reason for Vasha's Libby personality would have been explored in greater detail, with Calhoun being the only one who knows the truth about her dark past - which would have included some serious child abuse at one of the foster homes where she grew up. The two of them would have eventually mellowed a bit, though not enough to disturb the status quo considerably.
DRAKE'S FATE IN YGO: ETERNAL: I was thinking of making a situation similar to the original series, where Yugi used the Millennium Puzzle's power to do the Mind Crush on Kaiba. In this instance, Janus would have done something similar to Drake, wiping the malice out of his mind...although Drake would have still be the resident Kaiba for the remainder of the story.
WHY GABRIEL ROMAN QUIT DUEL MONSTERS: The reason would have actually become a plot point in the story. Gabriel had a fiancee, and they were slated to get married...but then, one day, during a Duel Monsters tournament, Gabriel decided he wanted to stay with his fiancee in their hotel room instead. The fiancee told him to go ahead and go play the game...but while he was gone, someone came in and, ahem, ASSAULTED the fiancee before murdering her. Ever since then, Gabriel has felt great guilt; he feels that if he hadn't left her alone, she wouldn't have died. The plot point would have been that the fiancee's family believe likewise, and bear a grudge against him because of it. One of them would even have had a deck specifically designed to counter the Gladiator Beast deck that Gabriel would have had (including the G.B. Hunter card).
REVELATION OF THE JEWEL DUELIST'S IDENTITY: It would have happened near the end of Eternal's planned script, where all of the Shadow Charm Items would have been collected to be used against the final Big Bad of the story. No, it would not have rekindled the relationship between Janus and Racquel, as I would have been edging for either a Janus/Cassara or Janus/Natasha pairing, and Racquel would quietly have backed out because restarting a childhood relationship would have been a little awkward.
WHY NO ORICHALCOS STORY IN YGO: FOREVER: Because the Seal of Orichalcos hasn't been released to the general public as a real trading card. I made it a point not to use anime-exclusive cards (well, except for Orgoth the Relentless, which I still wish had been released as a real card) so that the realism of the TCG would come out in the card games of the story.
DRAKE x JASMINE THE MAID: Nope, wasn't going to happen.
CASSIUS, JAMES and ANGEL: Yes, they would have come back, in an arc where the Zodiacs who were hired by the mysterious men in Chapter 1 would have come to try and assassinate them. And on that point, the two mystery men would have been revealed to have been Slade and Jagger Princeton, working for a much higher power that would have been an antagonist in the latter half of the story.
USE OF SYNCHRO MONSTERS: Yes, Synchro Monsters would have been used. The way I was thinking of introducing them, Pegasus would have made a global announcement saying that a long-time project he's been working on to expand the card game had finally been completed, in the form of Synchro Monsters and their support cards. The 5 Signer Dragons would have played a critical plot role, too. (UPDATE: As of this update, I'm no longer so sure whether the Signer Dragons would have played a role, since chronologically the Signer Dragon cards don't exist until the 5Ds timeline. Tuner and Synchro monsters in general WOULD have been included in the story, though.)
JAN SHIMIZU'S EVENTUAL FATE: The plan would have been for him to have a quiet reconciliation with his family, burying the long-standing hatchet with his father in particular, and then having him be out there in the world, seeking to find himself, more or less. And possibly with a different deck to symbolize his leaving behind the blackness of his evil past.
YUGO'S BERSERK BUTTON: Well, he's gotten over it by the end of "Forever," but it will always be something that motivates him to be his own independent self.
ORIGINAL CHARACTERS DUELING: That was actually a plot point I had considered at one time, when a group of outlaw duelists would target the World Tournament Committee members. That would have seen Joey and Tristan being Papa Wolves for their children - and while I'm at it, let me just reveal right here what Joey's occupation in this timeline would have been: a cop. A Cowboy Cop, to be precise. Which means that threatening his wife or his daughter, or his sister or niece, would be a guaranteed way to shorten your life expectancy.
DRAKE'S LOVE LIFE: No, Drake wouldn't get a new girlfriend or anything like that. He'd be about as stoic as Kaiba is in canon, as far as romance is concerned.
JANUS AND YUBEL: No, Janus would not get the Yubel cards. Those would be uniquely for Jaden.
DAVID'S FATE: Yes, David would have returned, and with a new key card as the main monster of his deck: Beast King Barbaros.
MALACHI'S RESEMBLANCE TO YAMI MARIK: No, nobody would have really commented, seeing as the YGO universe is full of weird hairstyles as it is. Malachi's hair was simply picked to have that style as an homage to Yami Marik, and an homage to the original YGO series.
DESTINY END DRAGOON: Definitely, Drake would have gotten it as his ultimate monster. Dogma would still have remained his keynote monster, though, while Doom Lord would remain his Duel Monster Spirit.
BASTION AND TANYA: Officially, Tanya would have been introduced as the P.E. teacher for Duel Academy's girls. She and Bastion would often have been traveling back and forth between the dimensions; and in their alternate dimension, Tanya would have served as sometime-commander of the royal military for the Gecko Kingdom (Adrian and Echo would be alive and well after the events with Yubel in Season 3 of GX, and ruling that dimension as king and queen; however, the citizens would have had a rather paranoid view toward Jaden, which would have played a plot role in a future arc).
DRAKE AND JANUS' RELATIONSHIP: Think of how Kaiba treats Yugi and co. in canon, and that's how Drake would have treated Janus and co.
YUGO AND CO.: They would have been recurring characters in the story. Whether Yugo and Jan would have ever had a rematch, even I am not quite certain...but Jan certainly would have borne witness to some of Yugo's growing developments throughout the rest of the story.
FIFTH SIGNER DRAGON: I would have used the plot to stall until the true Fifth Dragon eventually got revealed as a card (Black Feather Dragon is, to me, a mere substitute, since it's the same Attribute as Red Dragon Archfiend).
RETURN OF DARKNESS/NIGHTSHROUD: ...actually, that was a plot point that I was going to play with. I would have made the ultimate Big Bad of the story be Gozaburo again, in a new-and-improved android body...only this time, he would have been sharing powers and personalities with the main embodiment of the Light of Destruction and the Darkness entity. Also, he would have been given a deck that centered around extensive use of Light and Dark monsters, with Light and Darkness Dragon being his keynote monster. And he would have had a group of seven mercenary duelists working for him, who would have been sub-bosses within the story and Big Bads in individual story arcs. Yes...What Could Have Been, indeed.
MARIK AND HIS DAUGHTER: They would have returned and played a supporting role, alongside Odion.
5D'S CAST: No, they would not have been mentioned. However, I did make Gabriel Roman an Expy of Yusei, as an homage to 5D's, so that could count for something.
OLD GX CAST'S FAMILIES: Dr. Crowler and Hassleberry would not have had children, and they both would have been single men. Chancellor Sheppard would, naturally, be dead within this timeline, but the legacy of the Abandoned Dorm would have become a major arc in the story, seeing as they never fully addressed it in canon.
JANUS vs. YUGO vs. SETA: I would certainly have liked to have Janus duel Seta, although whether it would have been during the Phoenix Herald Crown or in a later arc I can't say for sure. Dueling Yugo again...maybe. I can't say for sure whether it would happen.
JAN'S ROLE: Jan would have had a recurring role somewhat like Nicholas D Wolfwood (Trigun) or Meta Knight (Kirby) or Red Impulse (Gatchaman series).
DUEL ACADEMY HIERARCHY: One of the staff members who longed for the olden days of Duel Academy would have been made the Big Bad of a future arc. Think of the teachers I've introduced so far, then take a guess which one it is. Hint: not Park Fletcher.
DEATHS IN ETERNAL: None of the core characters would die, that much is certain.
SYRUS TRUESDALE: Syrus would have played a recurring role here and there in the arcs. Then he'd have played a plot point, in that he would be the one to give Armoroid to Natasha, thus increasing her skill via training.
THE FAMOUS FIVE: Yes, they would have appeared, albeit later into the story. Blaze and Wade would have had their wedding at the end of the story, Marcus and Flora would have developed their relationship further, and Shigeo would have been revealed to have had a past with Kyle Welling (aka Taurus the Gamekeeper). And yes, Flora would have been allowed to win at least one duel.
SENSHUKEN'S EVENTUAL FATE: He would have sacrificed himself to aid Jaden and Janus in their combined tag-team final battle against the combined force of Darkness and the Light of Destruction.
THE TRUESDALES: I don't think James and Natasha's mother would ever have been named, but it certainly wouldn't have been anybody from the old-series cast. James himself would have retained most of his aloofness, though he'd be much more civil (at least) to Natasha.
THE REFORMED ZODIACS: Cassius would be slightly less of a prick, Angel would be making attempts to atone for her time in the Zodiacs, and prior to Eternal's cancellation I had already gone somewhat into what Victor, Chris and Felix were doing to make up for their past actions.
GX MANGA ELEMENTS: In terms of the duelists being able to interact with their signature Spirit Monsters, that was already a large part of the storyline.
KAIBA'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE GX CREW: Well, it's Kaiba. What else do you expect?
ETERNAL AS THE FINAL STORY: Actually, I'd been playing with the idea of making the saga a trilogy. But of course, now that won't be happening.
CHAZZ PRINCETON: Yes, he would have appeared, but as an anti-hero rival to his brothers.
ALTERNATE PERSONALITIES: Those who would have wielded the Shadow Charm Items would have had something akin to that, especially with what the background of the Items would have been - counterparts of the Millennium Items created by rogue Egyptian priests who opposed Pharaoh Atem - I mean, DAN GREEN! (Yes, I do still watch the Abridged Series sometimes.)
JASMINE AND JAN: No, Jasmine did not have a crush on Jan. Her relationship with would be somewhat like Sanji and Zoro from One Piece - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.
SWORDSMEN OF DOMA: Well, Raphael definitely would have, being Jillian's coach and all. Alister and Valon...well, heck, why not?
MAJOR DECK CHANGES: Interesting that this question should be asked...looking back all these years after the conclusion of Forever, I can say that if the myriad of deck strategies that exist now in the TCG had existed then, a lot of characters would not have had decks copying other decks. Major examples: Samantha Redman would have borne a Volcanic deck emphasize her past as a firefighter; Abel Drake would have had a Lightsworn deck to emphasize his past as leader of the Lightbearer cult; Cassius Princeton would have been more akin to Drake Phoenix and had a Destiny Hero deck; Zander Zabel would have more Thunder-types to complement his Zodiac alias, what with the archetype that's available for that now (can't remember the name offhand); James Truesdale would probably have had a deck strategy that was NOT Exodia; Jude Lassiter would have had more Exodia-based cards; Vlad Draxton would have wielded the Evil Heroes instead of Elemental Heroes...and the list goes on. So in short, every deck would have been unique and not a copy of someone else's deck. Of course...Eternal would not have been written, were that the case. Ah, well.
YUGI AND REBECCA AS A COUPLE: I paired them up, instead of the more popular Yugi x Tea, because at the time I just thought it made more sense...I felt that it was Yami, not regular Yugi, that Tea was in love with. In hindsight, though, I'd probably have stuck with the traditional pairing.
DARK GODS AND CARD PROFESSORS: The former would likely have appeared; the latter, not.
A POSSIBLE REMAKE: If I could do over the story, I'd incorporate new deck strategies for different characters and change a couple of details. For further information, you can now go here to the TV Tropes page which I have created for the story. ( (UPDATE: On rethinking the idea of a remake, if I could do one, it would have brought over deck strategies from Eternal into Forever, and as a result the Eternal story would not have been needed. Specifically: Abel Drake would have the Lightsworn deck strategy, Odachi would have the legal versions of the God Cards, the JUDAS members would have had the Shadow Charm Items instead of the Millennium Items, Angel Snow would have had an ice-themed deck, Samantha Redman would have had a Volcanic deck, most characters would have gotten better card support for their respective strategies - Shigeo getting more of the newly-released Ninjas, Zander getting more Thuder-type support, and Malachi getting more of the released Gravekeepers, for instance; Laurel Strong (Pisces the Coldblood) would have gotten the Venom monsters; Bernard Stone would have gotten the Six Samurai deck; Jaden Yuki would have been a major character in Forever instead of merely being mentioned; and other deck strategies that were introduced in Eternal would have been somehow included in Forever.)
And now, my (revised) Top 10 Favorite Anime/Manga of all time!
10. SOLTY REI
PLUSES: Bounty hunters. Androids. An underlying story of a father searching for his daughter. A global catastrophe that occurred more than a decade before the anime's timeline, prompting the aforementioned father's search for his aforementioned daughter. Cool-looking vehicles. A bunch of Robin Hood-style thieves, including their very attractive female leader, Rose. Tender moments, full of emotion. An impressive soundtrack. And the mysterious past of the main character, Solty, who gradually recovers her memories over time.
MINUSES: The bullheaded-ness of the local authorities within this aniime's universe. Some of the officers of the special unit that gets much screen-time in the show, in particular, I found hard to really like or trust at first. And after witnessing Rose's greatest secret (which I won't spoil here), I felt that while it was good that it was revealed, it was revealed a few episodes too early.
OVERALL: Recommended for anime-watchers who like shows that include the repercussions of past events on present-day living. Also recommended for those who like seeing girls with nice-looking figures. (sweatdrop)
PLUSES: Romantic themes, mixed in with comic relief and plenty of embarrassing innuendo moments and nose-bleeds from Hideki...also, I liked how Chi, over time, learned and was taught how to do things for herself, and how she learned how to function in an ever-moving and ever-developing society. The back-story was extremely touching, too.
MINUSES: Two certain characters, the so-called "Ultimate Perso-Com" and his fellow Perso-Com and assistant, showed up pretty late in the series, and while I thought they'd have done something epic, in the end, they didn't really do much. That was something of a let-down for me.
OVERALL: Highly recommended for those who love non-sexual romance and comedic innuendo.
8. LOVE HINA
PLUSES: Seeing the main character, Keitaro, on something of a quest to find that "one special girl" who he made a childhood promise with so many years ago for the purpose of entering Tokyo-U with her...it was really quite romantic and had me on the edge of my seat many a time, wondering if he'd succeed. To me, Keitaro is the embodiment of a nerd who seeks love; and I advocate "giving nerds a chance to succeed at love." There was also a whole lot of comedy in this show as well, with plenty of innuendo moments. Also, there were quite a number of surreal moments in various epidoes that added to the show's fantasy genre, which I happen to be a fan of. I also liked how they delved into the characters' back-stories, allowing viewers to really understand and/or sympathize with those characters in question. And, through it all, there was always a sense of mystery about the actual identity of the girl from Keitaro's past that added further to the show's charm.
MINUSES: While I understand that a lot of the innuendos and gags were there for comic effect, nonetheless...a few times I felt as though they overdid it. All I could do was shake my head and say "Poor Keitaro. Give him a break, already!"
OVERALL: If you're a romantic at heart, this series is worth watching. My advice? Watch the mainstream series "Love Hina," then the "Love Hina Specials," and finally "Love Hina Again," as those tell the story in chronological order.
PLUSES: The series started out with a good mix of comedy, action, and drama, with Vash's feeble attempts to enforce his "Love and Peace" philosophy a major source of laughs for me. Midway through, the series began to take a darker turn, hinting that there was going to be some major back-story fleshing-out, and the suspension of drama had me coming back every night to watch Adult Swim just to see what would happen next. The music was appropriate for the setting - a dusty planet with towns reminiscent of Wild West movies - and the dialogue, in the English version was at least as similar to the original as dubbing could make it. I was also pleased at the idea that there was only one major villain whose gunfighting skills would definitely be on par with Vash's...Oh, and there WERE the hints of romantic tension between Vash and Meryl, and I loved that very much.
MINUSES: Originally, I didn't have any major grievances with the series, until I went and did some digging around for the back-story of the manga. There it was that I discovered that there were additional characters who were never put into the anime adaptation, in particular two reserve members of the Gung-ho Guns. Aside from that, even now I still don't know what exactly "Plants" in Trigun are supposed to be, or where they came from - whether they were genetically created or whatever. Recently, though, I acquired the English version of the manga and am currently reading it through...definitely different in some points from the anime, but I'm enjoying it thus far.
OVERALL: A good series, without a doubt. Plenty of Wild West themes for the gunslinger-lovers amongst us. Plenty of dramatic tension for those of us who love unraveling mysteries and who are suspense-junkies. And lots of COMEDY to balance out the tense moments! Oh, and DONUTS! And Kuroneko-sama!
6. OUTLAW STAR
PLUSES: Space combat never usually appeals to me much, but THIS series really does a great job illustrating it. The main cast was quite intriguing: a gun-fighter with a space-phobia borne of a tragic back-story involving two of the series' major villains, a genius computer user who happens to be a kid, a female android who's both cute and sexy and serves as the crew's navigator in spite of not having any real memories of her own (which gets resolved as time goes by), a cat-girl who can be extremely goofy one moment and a fearsome fighter the next, and a lady samurai assassin who serves as the "straight man" (or girl :-P) of the group and fights with a wooden sword that can nonetheless kill people with one strike and never seems to break (again, :-P). The designs of the various ships in the series were well-drawn, also, as were numerous assassins and pirates who fought the Outlaw Star's crew for one reason or another at one point or another. And the characters' various back-stories meshed fairly well with each other as the characters themselves interacted, fought against or allied with each other, and sought to further their dreams and ambitions.
MINUSES: When this show aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block a few years back, one of the series' 26 episodes was cut from syndication due to there being excessive nudity...even though that episode in question featured a key member of the Anten Seven (that same member only got a few cameos in one or two of the other episodes). Also, the main de facto villain of the show was seen to be a member of a group known as the "108 Stars," but we never got to see any of the other 107 Stars due to the series' duration. I, personally, would have liked to see them, and see the Outlaw Star's crew go up against them, even if it was one by one...
OVERALL: This series, to me, falls somewhere in between Trigun and Cowboy Bebop in terms of aniumation style, story, and characters. I think it's a great show to watch.
5. COWBOY BEBOP
PLUSES: I was very impressed by the series soundtrack and its mix of various musical genres. One episode you'll be hearing pop, another episode you'll be hearing heavy metal, another you'll be hearing rhythm and blues...get my drift? Also, lots of gunfights, aerial combat, hand-to-hand martial arts, and a very DEEP set of back-stories interwoven between episodes. Character development was slightly minimal, but where it did happen, it was worth watching and remembering, especially as the series came up to its last two episodes. The dialogue and voice acting throughout the series was very good, and it left a lasting impression on my mind. I was especially captivated by Spike Spiegel's voice actor, Steven Blum, who also voiced Roger Smith and Makoto Shishio in The Big O and Rurouni Kenshin, respectively. He is, without a doubt, THE BEST anime dub voice actor around. B-) Also, Spike's personal enemy, Vicious...a man who can go toe-to-toe with gunfighters while wielding only a katana, AND kick their asses on top of that...and who walks around with a creepy black bird on his shoulder...can anything top that? (Well, maybe One Piece's Rob Lucci and his pigeon, Hattori... xD)
MINUSES: Only three major quibbles with this series, really, and all of them involve main characters. The first was that the little girl, Ed, and the dog, Ein, didn't stay with the crew up to the very end, the reason for which I won't spoil here. The second was the fate of the de-facto main character, Spike Spiegel. Again, I'm not spoiling it here. And the third was the lack of proper back-story for the aforementioned Vicious, who we never really learn much about aside form the fact that he's a sword-wielding creep-show whose insight is scary...
OVERALL: Although it's only 26 episodes, it's worth watching. I've watched the entire series through twice, just for the hell of it. Both times, it never lost its appeal to me. I recommend it greatly.
4. FIST OF THE NORTH STAR
PLUSES: Fists flying, blood showering, wrongs being righted, justice being delivered, a tragic romantic back-story, mystery, adventure...and just one phrase: "You are already dead."
MINUSES: A lot of the enemies Kenshiro fought died a little too easily by his hand.
OVERALL: I really like this show, I do. I've been watching some episodes as of late, though I can't watch them often because the only Internet access I have at current is at work, and Youtube doesn't carry every episode with English subtitling, using subtitles from other languages instead...but all the same, a good series.
3. ONE PIECE
PLUSES: This series is a true gem of Shonen Jump. It's got pirates fighting Marines and each other, some for treasure, others for personal reasons, and a few for the sake of finding the series' eponymous treasure that was left behind by the late Pirate King, Gold Roger. It's got comedy. Lots of it. It's got action. Plenty of it to keep the action-buffs happy. It's got emotional moments for the saps inside each of us. And even though both the anime and the manga are still ongoing at this time, it's not about to get old. I also like the wide diversity of powers granted by the Devil Fruits, how some of those powers can be silly enough to keep a viewer relaxed enough even during a serious battle, and how some of those powers can literally be breathtaking in terms of execution. Oh, did I mention that the soundtrack for the anime is capable of drawing out appropriate emotions and amplifying the mood of any one scene? In addition, although I was upset at the dragging out of the Straw Hats' reunion in the most recent manga arc, knowing that they're going to be spending time in training in their appropriate fields of expertise (while the mangaka takes a break) means that when they all do come back together, they'll be even more awesome than they were before, so I can deal with that.
MINUSES: I'm a bit irked by the fact that the series is still going on this long without a clear resolution in sight, but I can deal with that since the above-given reasons are keeping me, a fan, happy at the moment. What really pushes my hot-button, however, is the fact that 4Kids (YES, I'm talking about YOU, 4Kids) butchered the dialogue, made crappy edits, and paid no attention to continuity! Because of this, a whole lot of people will never want to watch One Piece at all! (I should know - I saw one episode of the 4Kids dub on TV, and it took me 2 years before I decided to try checking out the original Japanese version.) Fortunately, FUNimation has managed to redeem the One Piece series for English speakers...even if it IS a bit late...Ah, yes, and as of my most recent reading of the manga, I really want to know...certain people's abilities (such as Donquixote Doflamingo) - are they Devil Fruits or not? They really SHOULD identify those people's powers by NOW, don't you think?
OVERALL: A very good series, plenty of comedy and action, all of it well-balanced out, and good emotional moments with appropriate dialogue and musical soundtrack to go with it. My recommendation: Do NOT watch the 4Kids version. At all. Ever. If you MUST watch an English version of the show, you could probably try the FUNimation version. But I strongly advocate watching the original Japanese series with English subs. At least there, they'll keep everything intact and in context.
2. SHIJOU SAIKYOU NO DESHI KENICHI (History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi)
PLUSES: The series is in a modern, contemporary setting, which is a big plus for me personally. Also, it's set in high school, and gives a little insight into what we who have been to high school should already be familiar with - requited/unrequited love, bullying, and having to deal with school and family while coping with personal responsibilities. The characters don't rely on giant mechas or outlandish techniques (read: Dragon Ball series), instead relying solely on their own limbs and bodies to beat the snot out of each other and at the same time provide an anime view of what the fighting styles that are portrayed would be like in real life. The plot is realistic, the costumes are realistic because they're the characters' own personal and unique street clothes (what we'd expect to see in real life, in addition), and the balance of seriousness and comic relief is very exceptionally well-done.
MINUSES: While we sometimes expect anime adaptations of some manga to be less in-depth than their literary counterparts, there were a few places where this particular series fell down...in the anime, at least. They didn't go into the back-stories of Kenichi's teachers, which I would've liked, and the series was ended prematurely, albeit on an open-ended note (fanfic writers, start your engines! :D). The manga, of course, is still ongoing, and is providing much more information in terms of back-story, which I'm slowly unearthing now that I have access to the manga. And speaking of the manga, there were a few little story arcs prior to and during the Ragnarok confrontation that could've been animated, and which I would've liked to see, but sadly those were never animated at all. Oh, and...I would've liked to see more training from Shigure, the female ninja. And WHAT IS UP WITH THE BANDAGE ON KENICHI'S FACE? Is it just there to look cool, or something?
OVERALL: For anybody who wants to see a shonen anime/manga, but who at the same time wants to get away from giant mechas and energy beams in anime/manga, I strongly recommend this series. Oh, and for those who want to see high-school kids beating the snot out of each other using raw martial arts, this one's for you too.
1. RUROUNI KENSHIN
PLUSES: It was the very first anime I'd ever set eyes on, and it was based on actual history. The storyline was excellent, the characters were good, the costumes were wicked-cool, and the various weapons/styles were spectacular. Plus, I have the manga scans on my computer, another plus. There were many serious moments, but there were also plenty of comic-relief moments to balance them out, and the music was appropriate for every scene - whether in the original Japanese version or in the English dubbed version. And, thankfully, the Cartoon Network English dub didn't butcher the series...just a little editing of blood and some understandable removal of explicitly violent tones, which I could live with (besides, I'd already seen a different English dub that kept in all the violence and innuendos, even though they kinda changed and/or mispronounced some of the character names ;).
MINUSES: Only one major complaint to make about this series. While the anime was out-of-this-world, drop-dead awesome, and provided a whole lot of insight into how the battles in the manga had turned out before I managed to get the manga itself...THEY NEVER ANIMATED THE FINAL ARC! The Jinchuu arc, which was hinted at at the end of the Kyoto arc and which played a critical role in the story, was never animated due to the series' eventual cancellation. Anybody else thinking that it was the whole bunch of FILLER after the Kyoto arc that killed the series and prevented us from seeing the Jinchuu arc in its deserved animated glory? And even the OVA's couldn't make up for that, seeing as Enishi (the main villain of the Jinchuu arc) got barely any anime screen-time as an adult...sigh.
OVERALL: A must-see for anybody who's a history buff (of course, discounting the special moves and bizarre techniques and/or weapons). Also a must-see for anybody who loves a splendid mix of emotional genres. And a definite must-see for anybody who loves seeing swirly-eyed comic-relief moments! What's recommended: Watch the anime up to the very last episode of the Kyoto arc, then immediately go and get the manga and read from that point onward. (If you do this, bear in mind that there are anime-exclusive characters and manga-exclusive characters, not including those in the manga's Jinchuu arc, and certain characteristics of already-established characters from the manga may be changed for the anime.)