In the spirit of Lunch and bringing people together, I've created what I believe to be the first collaborative list on the site. The idea behind this list was to feature different members all with similar interests and yet different perspectives. I wanted to showcase the best that fantasy has to offer, as a genre in all mediums, but I also wanted to try having multiple contributors work cooperatively to express themselves. So, what I have done is to go about and ask some friends what three of their favorite works of fantasy are within a specific medium such as films, books, video games, and anime. Each member then chose their top three favorite examples within those mediums of what they feel are great representations of the fantasy genre. If this list does well, there may be future collaborative lists in a similar vein. For myself, I chose to focus on live-action films. Adrianna is and the founder of the Cafe Libri community and chose to focus on books. Sean Rhodes is founder of The Gaming Hub community chose to focus on video games. Woopak is the founder of the ASIANatomy community chose to focus on anime films.
In my own words: "I've been a fan of the fantasy genre for as long as I can remember. I suppose to some extent it sprang from my early love of adventure stories and fairy tales, which then evolved into a passion for mythology when I was about ten. Since then, I've seen films, read books, and viewed works of art that belong in the fantasy genre and I'm still amazed at how complex and encompassing it all is. Fantasy can be both simple children's stories as well as mature adult literature, it can be both entertaining escapism and an engaging reflection of reality. What makes the genre unique is that it's only limitation is that of the imagination."
I say: "I think that "The Wizard of Oz" is probably the first film I remember seeing. It's also one of the most iconic and memorable films in American history. It has it all: nostalgia, humor, sentimentality, a bit of sass, witches, a fraudulent wizard, a gay lion, flying monkeys, and Toto too. Not only is it a superb example of the fantasy genre, but it also belongs to the family film and musical genres as well. The entire cast is amazing from Judy Garland to Margaret Hamilton and everyone in between."
I say: "It's hard to imagine anyone having had the ability to adapt Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien's epic mythopoeic novel into a successful film trilogy. If someone had asked me if I thought Peter Jackson was the director for the job, I probably would have laughed. Alas Jackson, his creative partners, cast, and crew did something truly incredible. They captured the essence and the soul of Tolkien's words on screen without having to do a word-for-word translation. The first film in the trilogy is the best, as far as I'm concerned, because it contains all of the charm and adventure of Tolkien's novel and has a classical sense to it that the two other installments lacked a bit of."
I say: "There are so many films within the realm of fantasy that lack originality or authenticity, this film isn't one of them. "The Dark Crystal" is, in my view, the most under rated fantasy film ever made. The film pushed the boundaries as to what could be achieved in puppetry, special effects, and deep story telling. For all of its superlatives, the film was essentially a Box Office disappointment and was met with a lukewarm critical response during its theatrical run, but since then it has developed a cult following."
In Adrianna's own words: "Well, I've been reading since I was 3. I was taught to read by my grandmother, Grandma Bayer. I love fantasy because I love all genres.Plus, I enjoy stories with fantastical elements being a princess myself. ; )"
Adrianna says: "I loved the entire series, and the last book ("The High King") made me cry -- first time a book ever moved me emotionally like that. Plus, it stood out to me as a young child -- a series I've never forgotten or tire of."
In Sean Rhodes' own words: "What I tend to like about Fantasy games--especially the RPG genre, is that you can spend a lot of time with these characters and get to know them. Many games don't develop characters because they're concerned with gameplay and (in most cases) how incredible looking they can be. Which I'm all for as well, but sometimes I think narrative structure is important. And the Fantasy/RPG genre tends to be pretty good at providing interesting stories."
Sean Rhodes says: "It's my favorite Final Fantasy of the batch because it has a great cast of characters. I liked the main antagonist too. I guess for me it was a more defining Final Fantasy. It's not as pretty as future installments but it has heart. Substance, not flash. It tells a story that I was quite taken by even though it wasn't my first Final Fantasy, but I think I liked it best because I loved the ensemble cast of characters and the fact that, for the Super Nintendo especially, the scope is enormous. There's an opera scene that works out and the ending is one of the best I've ever seen in any video game."
Sean Rhodes says: "It's just pure fun. But the story, in spite of lacking much originality is one of the best you'll ever find in an RPG because the characters are enduring... and some of its biggest moments are emotionally moving and that draws me in much more than so-called "original" ideas. It's a love story in the end, but one that opts for raw emotion rather than sappy stuff. It's funny, it's well written and the characters eventually begin to feel like close friends. It reaches a level of character development most RPGs still can't reach even in 2010."
Sean Rhodes says: "Chrono Trigger has an interesting battle system that I enjoy a lot because you can combine techs for attacks, but I also like the story. A group of ragtag adventurers who travel through time and discover that they can alter history and the dangers of it. The story, however, is that they somehow travel to the future where the world has been destroyed, but there's a record of it."
In Woopak's own words: "I think Asian fantasy is a little wider in scope since Japan, Korea and China all have different views. I think American fantasy is more the good vs. evil, heroes emerge kinda deal with a happy ending. Whereas, Asian fantasy is a little bleaker, where the hero usually does a supreme sacrifice. Asian fantasy is also more based on lore and superstition; about the effects of one's action -- karma if you will."
Woopak says: "Butchered in the U.S. by Miramax for the lack of the awesome Japanese language track, Hayao Miyazaki's film may well be one of the inspirations for James Cameron's "Avatar". The animation is simple and yet so stunning in the way it keeps that ‘painting-like' look that complements its theme, plot and characters. The story has strong ecological commentary and it is mighty complex. Not for kids, but aimed for older teens and mature viewers."
Woopak says: "A great introduction to the world of anime. It injects nice touches of Japanese mysticism and lore; as well as a good feel for the stylized violence and explicit sexual undertones that make anime unique. "Ninja Scroll" is the grand-daddy of all the above. It is the perfect blend of exactly what makes anime inventive, unique and adult-oriented, which is why it isn't for everyone and yet it is for everyone who loves cinema."
Woopak says: "At the time when computer animation is starting to make its mark and Pixar and Dreamworks are making huge profit in the box-office, Hayao Miyazaki returns once again to prove that 2D Cell animation can be as awesomely impressive as computer rendered ones. Following his tradition of rendering his palette with rich animation that expresses his imagination, this film is a display of an artist at the height of his game. This film bagged the best animated feature in the 2002 Oscars, beating the contributions of Pixar and Dreamworks. It is a grand epic about a young girl and her discoveries; it keeps its viewer guessing as to what would happen next."