Winter Warmers

As the nights begin to draw in, and the time approaches for me to wheel out the oil-filled radiators, I’m beginning to spend me time thinking about what’s available to fill these long, cold evenings whilst huddled underneath my blanket and several jumpers. Here is my rundown of some of the series I rate for keeping the cold at bay.

1) Outlaw Star

This 26-episode series remains one of my favourites to date. It follows Gene Starwind and Jim Hawking (one of many nods to classic literature I’ve been spotting through anime), as they find themselves fighting pirates in space, as well as the authorities, as they try to solve the secret between their mysterious addition, Melfina, and their ship the Outlaw Star. I love the way this series balances plot with character development, darker episodes with comic ones. Given the length of the series, I feel it is much more tightly plotted and put together than others with similar themes – I’m thinking in particular the original Fullmetal Alchemist series. That one felt too long, with episodes containing really dark incidents followed by pratfalls.

Outlaw Star doesn’t have that problem. Whilst yes, it has its fair share of pratfalls, as the series progresses these intrude less and less into each episode, until one last comedy episode before the grand finale – and even that comedy episode manages to further the plot and deal out some essential information. The plot is a fairly loose adaptation of ‘Treasure Island’, hence the Jim Hawking reference, but in addition to pirates and treasure you’ve got bounty hunters, outlaws and Captain Smollett is nowhere to be seen. What is there is a nicely formed quest/road-trip style plot, where the rag-tag band of misfits are thrown together, looking for the same thing but for different reasons. What follows is a quick-paced, fast-talking, and at times brilliantly dark trail to find the Galactic Leyline.

What makes this such a good winter warmer? It’s a mix of the romantic subplot, the amazing soundtrack, the fantastic cast of characters (Harry MacDougal’s my favourite, let me know who your’s is) and that little spark of je ne sais quoi which makes Outlaw Star something I can watch over and over and over again.

Why not suggest your favourite anime for the long winter nights? I’d like to know what else to look for!

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