Fandom Spotlight: Scooby-Doo

Hello, everyone. Today’s post is a Fandom Spotlight, where I basically ramble about different franchises I have loved in the past or present, and what my experiences were. For the earlier ones, my experiences were mostly personal and without the influence of an outside fandom. As we move forward more, you’ll see how I became more and more invested in fandom communities over time. Enjoy!

If I was to pinpoint my first ever fandom, I would have to point to the Scooby-Doo cartoons. I started watching them when I was a toddler, and have had an ongoing love for the series ever since. I adored the goofy antics of Mystery Inc. I loved the retro music. I got a kick out of the traps. Most of all, I loved the hilarious situations that Scooby and Shaggy got themselves into, especially when they involved food.

I still remember the first episode I ever watched: “A Halloween Hassle at Dracula’s Castle.” It was from The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, which involved Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, and Scrappy traveling together, though this episode also had Fred and Velma. In this episode, the gang goes to a Halloween party at a castle of real monsters, who want them to help scare away a ghost. It was a simple, fun story, like most of the episodes were back in the day.

Fun fact: Most of the early episodes I saw had Scrappy in them. Since I didn’t use the internet as a small child, I was entirely unaware of the hate that Scooby’s nephew was subjected to. I honestly loved the little guy, and still do. He always struck me as a plucky, excitable puppy who was always ready to fight the bad guys and protect his uncle Scooby. This led to a deep feeling of betrayal when I saw the live-action movie in theaters, and had to see one of my childhood icons become the villain. (Seriously, stay away from the live-action movies. They are trash.)

Scooby-Doo is important to me in a lot of ways. Not only was it the first multi-episode show that I really got invested in, but it contained my first ever OTP: Fred/Daphne. I always enjoyed the relationship between the two, especially since they never got mushy with each other or kissed. (Young me wasn’t a fan of kissing.)

As I grew up, I became exposed to other, more modern series in the Scooby-Doo universe, including A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and What’s New, Scooby-Doo? The latter series was, in my opinion, the last good series featuring Mystery Inc.

And now I’m entering Unpopular Opinion Territory… Here it is: I did not enjoy Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about how I’m a “Scooby-Doo purist,” I was honestly excited about the series when it first came out. I loved the idea of a darker, ongoing plotline involving the characters I knew and loved.

The problem was that these weren’t the characters I knew and loved! Fred was a trap-obsessed moron instead of the level-headed leader I grew to know. I mean, he was dumbed down a bit in What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, but not this much. Daphne was a Fred-obsessed fangirl, effectively ruining what had once been my biggest OTP. Velma…oh lord, what did they do to Velma? She was a crazy, manipulative bitch who constantly tried to get in-between Shaggy and Scooby due to being in a relationship with the former. Hell, even Scooby didn’t resemble the cowardly, lighthearted dog I knew. I specifically remember one episode when he found out about Shaggy’s relationship with Velma, and refused to talk to him, insisting that his best friend choose between him and Velma.

Seriously, what the hell? The Scooby I know would never put Shaggy on the spot like that! In every situation where Shaggy had a girlfriend in the past, Scooby was nothing but supportive. (Except for the live-action movie, but that was trash, as I have already stated.) There’s also the fact that Scooby Snax don’t exist in this universe, and the fact that Scooby doesn’t even talk the way he’s supposed to. He talks normally, instead of using r’s in most of his words. Did these people even watch the old series?

Honestly, the only character who acted like himself was Shaggy, and that only caused me to hate the series more, since it seemed like the poor guy was always being caught in the middle of a bunch of teenage angst and drama.

Sorry. Getting into ranty territory. My point is that this series didn’t feel like a Scooby-Doo series. If you want a dark Scooby-Doo story where the characters actually act the way they’re supposed to, check out the movies, especially Zombie Island and The Witch’s Ghost.

At the moment, my favorite characters are being represented in the cruddy Stay Cool, Scooby-Doo, and it honestly feels like my first fandom is on the verge of dying. It had a good run, though. And I’ll always have the memories, and the DVDs, from my childhood years.

I’ll always look to Scooby-Doo as my initiation into loving a franchise, growing up with a set of characters who felt like my friends, having an OTP, and eventually writing one of my first fanfictions. It’s an incredibly embarrassing, horribly-written fanfiction, but we all had to start somewhere, right?

Peace out, and Scooby-Dooby-Doo!

Clichés, Devices, and Tropes: Oh My!

If you’ve ever been in a writing workshop, you’ve probably heard the words cliché, trope, and plot device so often, you gnash your teeth at the very mention of them. “This plotline is clichéd.” “I’ve seen this trope a million times.” “This character is an obvious plot device.”

Well, contrary to popular belief, clichés, tropes, and other common storytelling devices are not bad things to use in moderation. Tropes, devices, and clichés only became as common as they are today because they worked in the past and continue to work now. The trick is figuring out when to put them in, and how to tweak them to make them your own.

Tropes

When I talk about tropes, I’m referring to common scenarios and ideas used in fiction. Some examples include the Love Triangle, the Tall, Dark, and Mysterious Character, and even something as overarching as the Good vs. Evil Conflict. Tropes are pretty unavoidable, as there is a trope for almost any story idea that has been used more than once.

Therefore, you’d might as well embrace the use of tropes! That being said, it is generally best to focus on tropes that fit in with what you’re trying to write. It’s also important to not use tropes that will obviously annoy your readers. If you do, try to change them in a way that makes them new and less annoying.

For example, why not take the Love Triangle (one of my least favorite tropes of all time) and put a twist on it? Perhaps Character A has no interest in Characters B or C. Maybe the three of them could end up in a poly relationship. There are many possibilities that don’t include endless pining and one indecisive bitch of a character going back and forth for fifty chapters.

Depending on your story, you might want to look up common tropes for your genre, or try to determine what is more commonly-used by other writers. That way, you can be aware of them and use them to your advantage instead of accidentally creating an uninspired cardboard cutout of a plot.

Clichés

Clichés can be a little harder to work with. By definition, a cliché is an idea that has been overused and is associated with a lack of original thought. However, many things that could be considered clichéd continue to exist today. Why? Well, it’s because people still love them and are familiar with them. Therefore, it’s possible for a writer to use them.

Let’s start by looking at a saying that one might consider clichéd: “His heart pounded with excitement.”

I’m guilty of using that phrase and variations of that phrase rather frequently. Sometimes, I’ll use the classic “pounded with excitement” saying. Other times, I change it. For example, when describing the excitement of a strong, powerful character, you might say that “His heart beat like war drums.” If the character is falling in love, you might say that “His heart fluttered like a caged sparrow.” Depending on the imagery you use, you can get across that the character’s heart is beating due to his excitement without directly saying it.

Now, if you’re writing something that is meant to be filled with clichés, such as a sappy, straightforward romance or a basic sword-and-sorcery battle, feel free to lay them on. I’m known for scouring the internet for simple, fluffy fanfictions that are full of every soppy romantic cliché imaginable. Sometimes you need to read or write something basic. Don’t be ashamed of that. Just write it well.

Plot Devices

A plot device is a method used in writing specifically to move the plot along. Some are more recognizable than others, and it is good to know when to use them, when to change them, and when to cut them out.

Let’s think of the fantasy genre. A common plot device that many fantasy writers use is to make the main protagonist an orphan, either at the beginning of the story, a few chapters in, or before the events of the book even start. This gives the protagonist a greater amount of freedom to act, a backstory that can allow for some unique character traits, and a motive for revenge depending on how the parents died. The Harry Potter series, for example, utilized this device very well. Just by doing one small thing with the plot, several corners are cut when developing the main character and rationalizing their actions. It’s also helpful if this device has a significant effect on the other characters and the rest of the world in question.

Using a plot device for the sake of character development is usually a good thing, unless the device is contrived or unneeded. A good example of this is the RWBY series, where two characters were built up together as best friends who would soon become something more. This development was followed by the sudden, unnecessary death of one of these characters before she could get sufficient development. In killing this character off, the writers turned her into a convenient plot device to further the development of her love interest, which is incredibly cheap and a waste of a perfectly good character.

A good rule of thumb with plot devices is to ask yourself what you want to read. Ask: “Would this make me want to throw my computer across the room in anger if I were to read it from someone else?” If the answer is yes, don’t do it! This goes for the tropes and clichés too.
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So, there you have it. The annoying trends that won’t go away are actually there for a reason, and can actually be used to a story’s advantage. Just be very careful, as the line between paying respectful homage to a common idea and creating a cookie-cutter scenario that will put your reader to sleep is a thin one. Always remember what you would want to read, and use that as your guide. At the very least, people who think like you are guaranteed to love it.

Peace out!

The Logic Behind Hate-Shipping

Ah, hate-shipping. You either love it, or…well, anyway. Hate-shipping is when two (or more) characters are shipped together, despite the fact that they actively hate each other in canon. People look at the mutual glares, and choose to see sexual tension. Insulting statements are really veiled flirting attempts. Even physical assault can turn to foreplay when the shipping goggles are in place.

You’ll find it in every fandom, but why? Why do people seem so keen on putting enemies together in a romantic situation? Well, believe it or not, I think I can provide an explanation.

First, we need to look at the history of romance in fiction. Until very recently, there was a common theme in romantic comedies. Look up any old movie involving a romance, and there’s a pretty good chance that the couple in question starts off despising each other. Over the course of the story, we see several hijinks and comedic moments that ultimately lead to them realizing that they love what had originally repelled them. Usually, this moment of revelation comes very shortly before the end, meaning that most of the movie consists of anger and bickering.

With this basis, is it any wonder that people nowadays have similar thoughts when they see characters going at each other? For years, contemporary romance has either been bickering, or drawn-out pining mixed in with love at first sight. Between the two, the bickering relationship is definitely the more interesting one to watch.

Admittedly, there is an appeal to the idea of seeing people develop over time, moving past their differences until they reach a point of friendship. This is especially satisfying if the characters in question are characters we’ve spent time with and have grown to like. Think of Zuko and Team Avatar from Avatar: The Last Airbender. They were enemies for most of the show, but we the viewers saw that there were similarities between them, as well as a sense of nobility and goodness in the supposedly-villainous Zuko, to the point where we were begging for him to become friends with the rest of the main cast. Romance, for many, is the logical next step in that type of progression.

Another reason people like hate-shipping is the hotness factor. Let’s face it: rage kissing and anger sex can be really stimulating to read if it’s done right. There’s a fine line between passion and assault, but if that line is carefully treaded, the reader is treated to a messy, gripping, animalistic scene that is meant to get the blood boiling. Sometimes, that’s all we need.

At the end of the day, however, I feel that the main appeal is simply in the bickering. Let’s face it: We all love characters who bicker. Who are the best friends? The ones who give each other shit, of course! What relationships are the most laid back? The ones where they’re repeatedly dissing each other and then laughing afterward. Hate pairings provide bickering with an extra level of shade, which is always entertaining, especially if both sides give as good as they get.

Ships are built on what character interactions we find the most interesting, and hate is interesting. Even if it wouldn’t work in real life, it’s a thing we can imagine in fiction and have fun with. So, whether you’re a hate-shipper or not, try to understand where people are coming from and respect their ships.

Though please, for the love of all that is holy, do not use hate-ships as a basis for what you think real romances should be like, okay? It’s called fictional shipping for a reason!

Peace out!

AUs: Creating Your Own Universe

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I spent most of yesterday dealing with a personal crisis, and wasn’t able to write or post anything until now. I hope you enjoy today’s writing tip.

In my more recent years of reading and writing fanfiction, I have developed a deep love for AUs. It gives writers the ability to go places that even the original author might not have considered. It’s also good for writing feels-free stories involving characters who are dead in canon. I’ve been doing that a lot lately…

Anyway, a lot of work needs to go into the making of an AU. Not only are you creating a whole new setting, but you are essentially creating a whole new side to the characters in question. There are two important things to focus on when creating an AU: the world and putting the characters into the world.

The World

Obviously, you need to figure out what kind of world your AU is. Even if it’s a basic Modern Day AU, you still need to figure certain things out. Does the story take place more in a city? In a rural area? Is it a real place, or one you made up that is based on several places? Is there a coffee shop? What’s the school district like? Is there a high or low crime rate? What’s important for the focus of your fic?

For example, my RWBY fic “College Battle Games” takes place in a college setting. However, I differentiated it from other college stories by focusing on one campus organization: Dagorhir. (Dagorhir consists of people hitting each other with foam weapons while wearing garb. Seriously, look it up. It’s awesome.) Because of this, I focused on descriptions of the field, the organization, and the activities of the characters. When they were in a different location, I described it accordingly, creating a familiar, yet unique college town for them to inhabit.

If you’re creating your own original world, things get even harder. Before you even think about putting the characters in, you need to figure out the five W’s of the setting you’re creating. Where is it? Who inhabits it? What kind of place is it? When does the story take place? Is it a medieval-esque place? Is it a parallel to the canon-verse? Most importantly, think about why you made this setting and how you can use it in a way that is unique.

Depending on how long your fic will be, make sure to create a world that you like and can remain invested in. Currently, I have two AU RWBY fics that I update weekly. One takes place in a medieval-based universe where a lot of the characters are werewolves. Another takes place in a world that’s similar to the canon world of Remnant, but is protected by Dragon Riders rather than Huntsmen. I love werewolves, and I love dragons, so writing both fics and discovering more about the AUs is fun rather than being a chore.

For both worlds, I had to figure out various things. How do people react to werewolves? In a world of Dragon Riders, how did technology evolve as opposed to how it did in canon? The more questions you ask and answer, the more solid of a foundation you have.

Putting the Characters into the World

This part is both very fun and very challenging. Once you have your AU, you need to figure out how this universe’s version of the canon characters will fit in. What will they be? What occupations do they have? How does this setting affect their personalities and goals? Are they treated differently in this universe than they would be in the canon universe? How do the characters know each other in this universe?

To provide an example, let’s imagine putting the Lord of the Rings characters into a modern-day setting. Aragorn is a ranger and a king in canon, so a person could either decide to make him an outsider or a prominent leader in a modern setting. He could be a park ranger who lives on the outskirts of town, or a leading figure in the city council, or both. Bilbo, with his love for maps and books, could be a librarian, an accomplished cartographer, or a teacher. Perhaps he became friends with Aragorn during a field trip to the local park, and they enjoy bird-watching together on the weekends.

You can also play with relationships more in an AU setting. It’s up to you how the characters met, or if they even know each other at all. Characters who hardly interact in canon could be made into best friends. Romantic pairings that canon wouldn’t even dream of can make perfect sense in an AU setting. As long as you keep the basic personalities of the characters and keep them recognizable, you can play around as much as you want.

The key here is to keep your characters in character. Remember how they are in canon, and apply that to how you think they would act in another setting. Keep their speech patterns and mannerisms the same, or make them the AU’s equivalent. For example, a character who regularly says “Cool!” or “Sweet!” when excited may say something along the lines of “Grand!” or “Fantastic!” in a setting that isn’t quite so modern. You need to have a balance between how you know the characters act in canon, and what would change due to their presence in this alternate universe.

If a character changes significantly, there needs to be a reason why. In my Dragon Rider AU, I explore how the RWBY characters would change if they had the responsibility of taking care of their own dragons. Blake, who is known for running away from her problems in canon, can’t do that in this story due to having a baby dragon relying on her and needing her to stay in one place. Therefore, she has to overcome her impulses and act in a more rational manner.

Remember, you are making these characters your own by writing fanfictions. By making an AU, you’re going one step further. Do what feels natural, and listen to the critiques of your readers. And have fun with it!
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I hope this was helpful, and I hope that all you writers out there try writing an AU if you haven’t already. In my opinion, AUs are a good stepping stone in any writing career. If you’ve only written fanfictions until now, but would like to eventually create your own original worlds and characters, AUs are a good way to get practice in. By making your own world and learning how to fit various personalities into that world, you’re taking a step toward evolving your writing skills and improving your craft that much more.

One day, you may have an entirely new world populated by characters of your own creation, and that is probably the most rewarding experience that any writer can have.

So, keep writing and peace out!

My Top 10 Anthropomorphic Animal Works

So, I’m a furry. Some of you may know this already, and some may not. The furry fandom, despite what rumors you might hear, is nothing more or less than a fandom by and for people who love anthropomorphic animals. Some wear fursuits, some do art, some write novels, and some simply enjoy the various anthropomorphic shows, books, and movies out there.

Yeah, funnily enough, there’s a ton of anthro stuff out there, even though we live in a world that regularly mocks the furry fandom. Go figure. Anyway, whether you’re a furry or whether you simply love to touch on your wild side every now and then, here are my top 10 bits of media that prominently feature anthropomorphic animals. Now, by anthropomorphic, I mean that the animals have to act human in some way and speak, so you won’t see works like The Black Stallion here. Also, I won’t be including any Disney movies, as I assume that those are already well-known to you.

#10: Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky

I’m going to say this right now: The movie sucks. It doesn’t exist. Stay away.

Moving on. I read this series as a kid, and I remember loving it. Looking back, it’s easy to see why. This is a perfect story of a heroic journey made by a group of beloved characters who wish to create a better life and defeat the evil forces that oppose them.

The main character is Soren, a barn owl who is kidnapped by a cult-like orphanage that indoctrinates the chicks to be mindless slaves. (Gotta love them kids’ books!) His adventure goes from there to his journey to a legendary place called the Ga’Hoole Tree. He has several friends, including Gylfie the pygmy owl, Digger the burrowing owl, and Twilight the great grey owl. They eventually enter a war with the Pure Ones, a group of barn owls who belief that they are superior to all other species.

I adore the worldbuilding in this series, and the Ga’Hoole Tree is definitely a place I would love to live in. From the emphasis on learning, to the seasons that are named for the color the tree’s berries turn, to the barbecued bat wings, it just sounds like an amazing place.

Now, I do think the series quality dropped a bit after the eleventh book, which is the end of a trilogy explaining the founding of the Ga’Hoole Tree. Still, that’s eleven pretty amazing books to check out.

#9: Jungle Emperor Leo by Osamu Tezuka

You may know this series better as Kimba the White Lion. You’re also probably aware of the scandal surrounding it and the likelihood that The Lion King was largely based on it. I won’t get into that argument here. I’ll just say that the series is good, whether you’re looking at the 1965 show, the movies, or the 1989 reboot.

It’s about a white lion cub named Leo, whose father was killed by hunters and whose mother was killed on the ship taking her to a zoo. He’s forced to return to the jungle alone and become the new king. We see several adventures where he goes up against hunters, tries to create a better society for his subjects, and fights a rival lion named Bubu (or Claw in the English dub).

My one gripe with the series is that it can get incredibly preachy at times. For example, Leo in the 1965 series believes that hunting and killing other animals is wrong and essentially forces all carnivores in his kingdom to become vegetarians. Whenever he meets a carnivore from outside his kingdom, he becomes enraged at the idea of them killing for food.

Still, it’s a good series with a memorable cast of characters. The movies in particular have great storylines and some beautiful animation. The animation of the 1965 show takes some getting used to, along with some sub-par voice acting if you’re watching the dub, but even that has its own charm to it.

#8: The Cat Returns by Reiko Yoshida

This is just such a nice, charming movie (Minus that one scene where Muta almost drowns in the catnip jelly. Seriously, what’s up with that?) Coming from Studio Ghibli, you can of course expect a quirky storyline and beautiful animation. The protagonist is a girl named Haru, who rescues a cat who turns out to be the prince of a secret kingdom of sentient cats. She is kidnapped by the cats, who want her to marry their prince, and is helped by a living cat figurine named Baron, a crow statue named Toto, and a fat cat named Muta.

…Man, these plotlines sound weird when you’re trying to summarize them. Anyway, the world is very enjoyable. The Cat Kingdom is beautiful, as is the Cat Bureau, where Haru finds Baron and his friends. I wish that more time had been devoted to showing the cats and their culture.

Probably my favorite scene in the movie is when a procession from the Cat Kingdom comes down Haru’s street at night. Watching the cats walk on their hind legs, holding lanterns, and shooing away the common neighborhood cats is weirdly eerie.
On the subject of Ghibli movies, I decided against putting Princess Mononoke on this list, largely because the animals depicted in this movie are gods rather than human-like animals. I think calling them anthros would likely insult them.

#7: Basically anything by Kyell Gold

Allow me to introduce you to probably the most popular furry author, known largely for his gay romances. He is incredible at showing the various struggles faced by his characters. Waterways depicts a teen’s journey through discovering his sexuality and facing opposition both from his family and his own insecurities. Black Angel is one of the best depictions of the struggles commonly faced by asexual people that I’ve ever seen. Coincidentally, both feature otters as the main characters.

Now, many of his books do have detailed sex scenes. However, they fit in with the stories and characters in question and honestly aren’t much different from what you’d find in any other adult romance. These include the Argaea books, taking place in a Renaissance-esque world and featuring a sex-loving fox named Volle, who is a spy posing as a noble in an enemy kingdom. This was my introduction to Gold’s works. There’s also the Dev and Lee series, starting with with Out of Position, which depicts the journey of a tiger football player and his fox boyfriend as they navigate their relationship, family lives, and the world of professional sports. While these books are well-written, I have a bit of a problem with the relationship as the series goes on, as it seems incredibly toxic from my perspective.

If you want to go PG, I’d recommend my favorite series of Gold’s: Dangerous Spirits. This trilogy depicts three different characters having supernatural encounters that cause them to rethink their own lives and how to face their problems. Black Angel is the conclusion of that series. I’d also recommend Love Match, which is about a jackal in tennis school, and The Time He Desires, a novella about a Muslim cheetah who is forced to come to terms with the changes in his neighborhood and the sexuality of his son.

Honestly, Gold is a master at using these furry-based worlds to tackle some very real topics. Also, the writing is amazing. Check out any of them!

#6: Ginga Nagareboshi Gin by Yoshihiro Takahashi

I discovered this during a time when I was actively looking for anthro anime. There isn’t a lot, let me tell you, but there is this gem. Ginga is about an Akita Inu dog named Gin, who is born to be a bear-hunter and is given the destiny of eventually killing a bear that has been terrorizing his home, named Akakabuto.

What I really like about this story is that it isn’t from the perspective of the dogs at first. Initially, we see things from the humans’ point of view. In these episodes, we see the birth of Gin, his training as a hunting dog, and the bond he builds with a boy named Daisuke. It’s not until episode 7 that we hear the dogs talking. It’s then that Gin finds a pack of wild dogs that are also fighting against Akakabuto.

It’s a shame that this first series is often overlooked in favor of the sequel series, Ginga Densetsu Weed, because I honestly think the storytelling and characters are far superior.

This is a great adventure story with noble, memorable characters you’d expect from any heroic tale. My one complaint is that in this series, and in the series following it, there are only a handful of notable female characters, and they either end up as house dogs or pregnant, and they frequently are the ones that have to be saved from danger. (Don’t even get me started on Reika from Ginga Densetsu Weed.)

This is an old and largely unknown anime, so it’s a bit harder to find English subs, but it’s well worth the effort!

#5: Wings of Fire by Tui Sutherland

I mean, you had to expect this on the list. It’s basically become the dragon equivalent of Warriors by Erin Hunter, though Wings of Fire is definitely better-written in my opinion.

This series takes place in a world called Pyrrhia, where seven dragon tribes are at war. There’s a prophecy that five dragonets will decide the outcome and bring peace to all the tribes. Each of the first five books is from the perspective of one of these dragonets.

My favorite thing about this series is how different the dragon tribes are from each other, from the cold and strict IceWings, to the good-natured and sleepy RainWings. The further you get into the series, the more you learn about the lifestyles, customs, and abilities of the different dragon species. There’s also an overlying theme concerning the need to put aside differences and come together for a more peaceful world.

I also like that Sutherland doesn’t shy away from the fact that she’s writing about a war. Characters hold prejudices, hate each other, remember the deaths they’ve caused, and are forced to come to terms with many harsh realities. Also, each character has a very distinct and unique voice, making each book very different. Seriously, my list of favorite characters shifted with each book.

If you love dragons, definitely check this one out!

#4: Redwall by Brian Jacques

I would recommend any book from this series, as well as the entire animated television show. This is a wonderful series if you want various character perspectives, good vs. evil battles, and absolutely gorgeous descriptions. In this world, sentient woodland creatures live and try to get by, but are often forced to fight against corsairs, slavers, and other bands of evil vermin beasts.

Basically any of the books can be read on their own in any order, since each one is an individual, self-contained story with different characters. They may overlap, but reading previous books isn’t usually required. And Jacques wastes no time in getting us attached to a new cast of characters every single time.

The books all depict a hero’s journey, sometimes made by many heroes, several conniving, evil villains, and an overall good feeling that lasts after the book is finished. Also, the food descriptions will have your mouth watering. Seriously, vegan food never sounded so good!

I would recommend that you start with Redwall, Mattimeo, Martin the Warrior, and Mossflower. The first, obviously, is the first book in the series and sets a lot of the standards for later books. Mattimeo is the only direct sequel to any book in the series, and has an incredible coming of age story. Martin the Warrior and Mossflower both tell the legend of Martin, the warrior who often visits the dreams of the creatures of Redwall and whose sword is an unbreakable weapon against evil.

The one thing I don’t like about the series is that the goodness or badness of characters is automatically determined by species. Mice, hares, badgers, and squirrels are good. Foxes, rats, weasels, and ferrets are bad. There are very few exceptions. I mean, there’s one book where an otter raised by a vermin band is somehow inherently good, and another where a ferret raised in Redwall Abbey somehow is inherently evil.

That aside, however, the writing is fantastic and the stories are all worth a read.

#3: Felidae by Akif Pirinçci

Don’t be fooled by the cute kitty cats. This is very much an adult book and movie.

The story centers around Francis, a cat who moves to a new neighborhood, only to find another cat dead in his yard. From there begins a murder investigation that delves into issues concerning the relationship between humans and animals, the brutality of animal testing, genetic purity, and what price is too high for the creation of a new world.

And yes, there is an infamous cat sex scene that people often point out in the animated movie. To be fair, the book explains it a lot better, and it definitely has a purpose. Let’s move past that and continue, please.

The main character, Francis, is every bit the noir detective with his cunning mind, ability to piece things together, and his sophisticated personality. The movie largely features a foul-mouthed cat named Bluebeard, who is employed as a way to allow Francis to voice his thoughts on the case, since it’s mostly inner dialogue in the book. He’s in the book too, just not as much.

What’s really interesting is how using cats instead of people changes how the murder mystery plays out. There’s no forensic evidence, no policemen, and no protocol. Dreams had by Francis are considered to be evidence just as much as the journal entries he finds at one point. It makes a world that is both familiar and alien, taking place away from the eyes of humans.

Definitely give the book and the movie a watch.

#2: Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann

Admittedly, I only have the first book in this series. However, I have watched the animated show in its entirety, and it is absolutely one of the best animated shows I’ve seen. The story is about a group of animals forced to flee their home in Farthing Wood and seek a new home at a far-away nature reserve. The first book and season depict their journey, and the oath they take to not eat each other on the way. Later books and seasons show their lives in White Deer Park, which includes having cubs and entering a feud with rival animals.

I love the characters in this series, especially Fox, the leader of the animals. They all have stand-out personalities and different ways in which they interact with each other. There’s also a great sense of continuity. Small conversations and moments that would normally be brushed over in a regular kids’ show are given attention here, and it really makes a difference.

There’s a high body count in this series, and this includes main characters. Some deaths are random and shocking, while others come after much expectation. It makes the series feel more real, and reminds the viewer that this is indeed a world of wild animals.

If you like journeys, stories crossing multiple generations, and detailed character arcs, you will love this series!

#1: Watership Down by Richard Adams

And here we are at the great granddaddy of all anthropomorphic animal books, the one that really brought the sub-genre into mainstream media. On the surface, Watership Down is a story about a group of rabbits who travel to a new home and face several dangers along the way. However, it goes much deeper than that. The struggles of the characters vary from dangerous predators, to a lack of mates, to a cult-like group of rabbits that have forgotten the old ways, to a militant warren that keeps all of its rabbits under strict watch.

The lore in this book is simply magnificent. Every now and then, an entire chapter will be devoted to a story about El-ahrairah, who is considered to be the father of all rabbits in their folklore. They also have a unique language, to the point where almost all of the names have a Lapine translation. For example, the rabbits can’t count past four. Anything more than that is a hrair, or a thousand. Fiver, the fifth in his litter, is called Hrairoo in Lapine, which means Little Thousand. But this is never done in a way that confuses the reader!

This book also has two screen adaptations: the movie and the television series. I would recommend both. The movie, while lacking some scenes from the book, carries on the overall tone and is animated very well. The animated series deviates a great deal from the book, creating its own world and allowing for different character arcs. I normally hate it when screen adaptations deviate from the book, but I actually enjoyed how different this series was. It almost felt like a very good fanfiction of Watership Down.

There’s going to be a miniseries premiering on Netflix this year, and hopefully it’s just as good as the source material, or at least close to it. We shall see.

I’d like to take a moment to remember Richard Adams, who died on Christmas Eve last year. “My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”
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So, those are my current top 10 anthro series. Are they the top 10 best in the world? No. They’re just the ones I enjoyed the most and think the most fondly of right now. For those of you who are wondering, Warriors didn’t make this list due to the fact that I haven’t read the books in years because of a rapid decline in writing quality midway through the second series. I would recommend the first six books, however. And the roleplaying community in that fandom is pretty active, which is always a plus.

I hope I gave you some new titles to look at. Read, watch, and enjoy. That’s what we fandoms do, after all.

Peace out!