Hey, Guys, In just one more week, the live shows for "The X Factor" begin airing. This coming week the Top 12 contestants that can be voted for will be chosen, unless of course the World Series preempts this all from airing. They're hoping to air the first performance and results together on Tuesday, and then do an episode dedicated to the 12 acts going through to the voting rounds on Wednesday, because Thursday is Halloween, after all. But if not, they'll just air the episodes on Wednesday and Thursday. I'll be ending my coverage of the show this year early to focus exclusively on academics, but I do hope that a young act (preferably female) goes through. By the way, make sure y'all read "Pearls Before Swine" today. It looks like the stupid "Penguin Versus Polar Bear" storyline is over, but you'll want to especially read it today since it looks like a certain stupid, incompetent idiot predator has just come back to the strip. ("Hulllloooo, zeeba neighba.") That's right, the idiot crocs have returned in the form of stupid Larry, who's decided he's going to order some penguins who've put themselves up for adoption by a 1st-world nation. I have a feeling that those penguins aren't going to last very long... So, for today's post, I've been thinking a lot about what the best anime and manga franchises are in the entertainment industry. I have chosen franchises that have never crossed over (for all I know) with franchises that are now adult, and have only found 9 considered "icons". So I'm going to present each and every one of them to you, as far as I know them. 10. No Need for Tenchi, AKA Tenchi Muyo!: I don't really know No Need for Tenchi all that well, except I think I might have seen an episode supposedly involving the Tokyo subway (remember, most anime/manga franchises are set in Japan, where anime/manga originates) when I was young. Was there such an episode? Somebody please check this. 9. Sonic the Hedgehog: Yeah, I know, the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise involves video games, but this franchise is also an icon. Remember, I'm not really a video game person, but I still cheated here. I do think the title character is not only a hedgehog, but he's also one from another planet, making him an alien. 8. Cardcaptor Sakura (or Cardcaptors, as we call the show here): I barely remember this show, and since I'm Catholic, today I'm sure I probably wouldn't watch it. Why? Because it involves the use of something called a "lazenward", and from what I hear these are artifacts that when used supposedly act as a gateway for demons to attack and possess a person who uses such a device. So no, this is not one of my preferred anime franchises. But here's what I remember: Some teenage girl has to recover all these cards of some kind, and that's pretty much all that I remember. 7. Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (just called "Sailor Moon" in our version): There's a reason we've never gone back to the moon since Apollo 17 in the early 1970's, and this just might be the reason. Supposedly there used to be an extraterrestrial civilization on the Moon (and yes, this is an actual conspiracy theory most UFO believers think in edition to Roswell, Area 51 and the ancient alien "hypothesis", of which I guess this could be a fictional version of) and then some "Dark Kingdom" arose and overthrew it. In the present day, a teenage girl whom the English version has named as Sabrina Tuscano (I can't spell her Japanese name correctly) discovers it's her job to prevent Earth from being taken over by the same dark entities who overthrew the Moon Kingdom. She eventually discovers she is in fact the reincarnation of the princess of that society. I do think Tuscano does turn 18 by series' end, so the show isn't another of my favorites, but there is another character I do somewhat like and don't at the same time: Sailor Mars, AKA Rhea Heinz (in the American version, although I can spell her Japanese name correctly; it's "Rei Hino"). She attends a Catholic school, and yet she's a maiden (I can't spell the Japanese name on this blog, since my computer won't let me, but it's the first 3 letters in the word "mike" followed by the letter "o" replacing the "e") at the local Shinto shrine her grandfather is the head priest of. Remember, in lots of anime shows and manga comics the "shrine maiden" is a recurring character, who is often portrayed as underage (think between 10-17 years old), very attractive, and having powers of magic. "Sailor Moon" itself helped to rebuild the "magical girl" genre of anime (which basically involves young witches) by having a team of such girls who use magic to fight darkness directly, so it should be no surprise that a shrine maiden be one of the Sailor Guardians' members. (The aforementioned "Cardcaptor Sakura" also has a shrine maiden, whose English name is Layla MacKenzie, but she's an adult, which shows that not every shrine maiden is underage. In fact, most real-world shrine maidens are now adults.) I am also especially including "Sailor Moon" on this list because as we heard earlier this year it is coming back to TV. Originally the show was going to start airing in June, but it now appears that to mark the franchise's 20th anniversary it will have to begin airing in 2 more months instead... 6. Inuyasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale: This is relatively a new anime/manga franchise, having been around since 2001. If you like ancient Japanese history, you might like this franchise. A 15-year-old girl from the present day accidentally falls through a "portal" in her family's garden when she encounters a demon-like being (the title character) and winds up in ancient Japan (hmm, shades of "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Chronicles of Narnia", you wonder). She learns that she is the reincarnation of yet a third shrine maiden (oh yeah, they're popping up all over the place aren't they) and must protect some sacred jewel of some kind. That's pretty much all I know, but it's too bad the girl ends up being 18 years old by the franchise's end (and thus legally an adult). There is no record of her having any children. 5. The Mario/Donkey Kong Universe: Once again, I have cheated here. This is another video game franchise. Originally, Donkey Kong was a villain whom Mario had to defeat. Now, of course, thankfully, the lovable gorilla is not. I did try my hand at playing Donkey Kong when I was young, but I never won it. So that's why I'm not a video game person anymore. Still, who doesn't love the lovable handyman and the equally lovable gorilla? 4. Dragon Ball: This is an anime and manga that has grown big in Japan even though the series (as far as I know) no longer airs on television. I know aliens are involved. I know that the main character's name is "Goku". And I know an American live-action movie starring Justin Chatwin aired a few years ago involving Goku as an 18-year-old. But I don't really no much about it. 3. Astro Boy: Oh, man. This is supposed to be the pioneer of all anime shows. It's about a robot who looks like a young boy and who was built by an inventor who lost his own son, whom the robot resembles, in an accident. And the robot fights crime in the future. I remember a computer-animated adaptation in 2009 appeared and was a huge hit (it starred Freddy Highmore as Astro Boy and it also featured Atlanta's own Chloe Grace Moretz, last spotted playing the title character in a creepy remake of "Carrie"), but there were many uptight people who just got sent over the edge. They claimed that the film secretly made fun of President Bush, who by then was out of office, and that it made fun of the War on Terror and promoted communism. Nonsense. Why do these conspiracy theories about family-friendly movies continue to be promoted by the far right when it's clear they ought to be using their energy somewhere else? 2. Pokemon: Yes, folks, this is the greatest of all anime/manga franchises. Although based on a video game series, it gradually expanded to manga and later anime. The story involves teenage boy Ash Ketchum (that's his name in our version), a 10-year-old who wants to be the first person to catch (though they'll eventually all be released back into the wild) the "pocket monsters" (that's what the word Pokemon is a contraction of) that are the non-sentient creatures of the alternate world the series is set in, whereas the devious machinations of the Team Rocket crime syndicate want to capture rare Pokemon species for themselves. Since its inception the franchise has lasted for many years with no end in sight. 1. Yeah, I know, I should have placed "Pokemon" right here, but I need a 10th franchise related to anime or manga for a full top 10 list. The other icons I looked at didn't really meet my qualifications, so this is a blank space for anyone who wishes to insert their own favorite manga/anime. If you prefer, you can also make any of the manga/anime I've presented go all the way up to here, but you'll need to insert a manga/anime franchise you personally like in the vacant space left behind. Of course, I'll probably find a 10th franchise I can use, but until then, just use this space as your own. So that's it with anime/manga franchises that are considered the greatest and most family-friendly ever. I'm just using it to find anime characters I'd like good images of for a proposed franchise I wouldn't mind doing. Like "Sailor Moon" it will involve a teenage shrine maiden, but this time as a main character. Like "Inuyasha", it will be set in ancient Japan. I have found an image recently of an unnamed anime shrine maiden who has no identity. She appears to be walking along this brick road, apparently into the shrine she must be a maiden at. She also appears to be singing. I've wanted long hair to be used for such a character, and she's got long hair. And I don't want her legs being visible either, and thankfully her legs aren't. Oh, and because I'm just the kind of guy, even though she's not barefoot both of her feet are completely visible in the image. And an added bonus is the fact that there are no other persons present in the image; it's just this shrine maiden whom I hope is a teenage girl. And the image is also thankfully high-quality. This is the only image of its kind I could find, so there you go. (Speaking of Japan, just to let everyone know, I wouldn't mind building a home similar to an ancient Japanese castle like Himeji, the castle that was used as the ninja training school in the James Bond movie "You Only Live Twice", and then maybe build an ancient village around it that could be used for shooting live-action adaptations of anime/manga. I also want to choose the location as somewhere near Alpine Helen, that town in north Georgia that resembles a German Alpine village, simply because of the forestry in the area being realistic enough and because I like Helen.) The anime would involve this girl being bored with being a shrine maiden, and with a desire for adventure, and then one day she intercepts a message that sends her on an epic quest that causes her to get much more than she bargained for, and it's only the beginning. So that's what I'm going to say for today's post. I've rediscovered anime and manga for the first time in my life, and ask when Atlanta's going to have a convention exclusively for anime/manga addicts again (I think they had one earlier this year in the summer, but I just want to know). I wouldn't mind dealing with Japanese comic book and animation art once more, just as I wouldn't mind doing a children's book describing what I'd want to do here (I just hope no one steals my idea and claims it as their own) that can then be turned into an anime/manga franchise (that's family friendly and I do hope Christian-friendly of course). My fictional franchise shall be the "#1" franchise I will include on this list until I can find an actual franchise I can use. So that's all I have to say right now, and I'll see each and every one of you next week.