A shonen action manga/anime by Nobuyuki Anzai, the creator of Flame of Recca.Poor Ginta just can't get a break. He's nearsighted, does poorly in school, isn't athletic, and to top it all off, is really short for his age. He has quite the imagination, however, having had the same dream of the fantastical world of Märhaven, where he's the hero that saves the day, a total of 102 times. This only makes him a bigger laughingstock at school, except for his childhood friend Koyuki who very much enjoys Ginta's imaginary adventures. Then one day, a mysterious portal appears in the middle of his class room and its guardian summons Ginta to the world beyond. With little hesitation, Ginta steps through to find himself in the land of his dreams. Not only is Märhaven real, but Ginta is now strong and agile and best of all, no longer needs his glasses to see! Thus begins Ginta's adventures in Mär Heaven.Early on in the plot, the action revolves around fighting monsters and bandits and introducing the other main characters. The plot then takes a darker turn when the Chess declare war on all of Märhaven which culminates in an epic tournament with the fate of Märhaven hanging in the balance.The anime's North American release ran on Cartoon Network's Toonami (after a more consistent run on Toonami Jetstream), however schedule irregularities ensured its tenure was short lived. Due to that, the English dub was discontinued as well.The manga also got a sequel called Mär Omega, which is neither written nor drawn by Anzai. It features a cast of entirely new characters apart from Babbo (with one or two original characters making cameo appearances). It also doesn't follow the same format as the first one.
In the last volume, we learn that isn't strictly the case. Babbo's "evil" personality was actually the result of the evil from the Caldian Orb inhabiting him. It left after the first War Games, leaving Babbo with the personality of Caldia's Elder... And Ginta's father.
Ascended Fanboy - Ginta gets to visit the fantasy land he dreamed so long for.
Authority Equals Asskicking - The Chess are ranked via chess pieces. Pawns being mooks, followed by Rooks, Bishops, and Knights being the highest ranked fighters. There is only one King and Queen and they don't fight till the very end.
Back from the Dead - Phantom is killed in the previous war games, but gets revived and leads the Chess in the next set of war games. Danna at the end of the series.
Badass - Characters on both sides each exhibit moments of badassery, but Alan takes the cake, literally everything he says and does looks badass.
Blessed with Suck / Cursed with Awesome - The Zombie Tattoo, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, it grants immortality; even if you die, you simply Rise From Your Grave some time later. In addition to that, the tattoo is a gift and Märk of admiration from Phantom, something every Chess Piece would quite literally kill for. On the other hand, it grants immortality by making you into a living zombie; "never to die, and never to truly live again". Mär member Alviss views it as a curse, while Knight Rolan views it as a great blessing.
Bling of War: Justified in that the flashy outfits with fancy rings, necklaces and accessories are what the characters use to attack. In short, their bling is war.
Blood Knight - The basic Chess Piece philosophy, especially Phantom and Peta. They believe that a peaceful, pristine world like MärHeaven is meaningless without conflict, war, and battle.
Somewhat subverted in that most are Cavalier Competitor as long as they're winning, especially with Phantom, only Kannochi plays it straight in the love of battle
Body Horror - Pretty much what Chimera does to poor Gido.
Broken Bird Chimera is also a great example of this, intentionally replacing her hands with creepy ghost Ärms.
Hands? Her body was broken, but her limbs were still fully functional. Ghost Ärms consume the soul.
Break the Cutie - Chimera. Though, to be fair, most of the Knights had lives this messed up.
Butt Monkey - Jack. Lampshaded almost constantly. Especially in one episode of the anime where he is turned into an actual monkey by Loco and Babbo comments that it's not really any different from normal.
The Chains of Commanding - Due to the rules of the tournament, if the captain is defeated, the entire team loses. Ginta as team captain, knows all to well what the price of failure means.
Captain Ersatz - Some of the characters in the show are inspired by fairy tale characters.
Cat Girl - Chaton, the strongest Bishop. She ends up defeating Alan, who has a fear of cats. Also Merilo, a maid guardian.
Bumoru is a counterpart to Merilo, though significantly less of a 'cat-girl' impression.
Chess Motifs - The Chess, if you couldn't tell. Most obviously, their ranking system is organized by the strength of chess pieces, the order being Pawn, Rook, Bishop, Knight, Queen, and King.
Clothing Damage - Happens a lot in the anime. Dorothy and Alviss are the main victims.
Chaste Hero - While Snow and Jack comment on Alice's appearance, and Bappo is embarrassed to take that form, Ginta doesn't even seem to give her the time of day.
He does notice that Snow is an attractive young girl when he carries her off the battlefield in the third round, and when Dorothy gives him a kiss for helping her at the story's start, he blushes and apologies to Koyuki, which he notably doesn't do when Snow Crash into Hello with him, twice!
Combat Sadomasochist - Candice. She outright says this to Jack when she fights him. Her Chimera guardian works by having her take pain in order to power it up, and then inflicts that "pain" on the foe by way of petrification.
Conspicuous CG - The anime is very guilty of this, especially with its Guardian type Arms.
Arguably, all of the battles near the end of the manga, esp. v.s. the Knights, Queen and King. They, almost invariably, followed the formula, A uses X, hitting B once, then countered easily by B using Y, and then after several X,Y,Z... A summons a Guardian, which looks really badass, hitting B once, but it is always killed by B's Guardian, often in one shot. The end. Hell, none of the heroes even got a scratch after the last battle.
Deconstruction: Alviss- among the Fractured Fairy Tale characters, Alvis is by far the most disturbing. Peter Pan won't grow up not because he chose to stay eternally young, but because he's a zombie, and his mind and body are slowly being attacked by a curse mark.
Defictionalization - ARMs were sold as jewelry in real life, although presumably sans magic powers.
Elemental Ignorance - During the War Games Snow seems really intent on going into the worst possible places for her powers, and at the same time never seems to go to the ice field. And that's barely scratching the surface of some of the rather... unique choices they make.
Emotionless Girl - Subverted with Loco, as she is simply a stoic, 32-year-old woman in a little girl's body. Also, she shows genuine surprise (in one case, horror) at some of the crazy shit the good guys pull off.
Empathic Weapon - Babbo, which is considered an impossible trait for an Ärm to have.
Epic Flail - Babbo again, the weapon in question looks like a Kendama (like paddle-ball, only with a hammer), Ginta uses him like a flail until Babbo gets upgraded later.
Even the Guys Want Him - "Man, Alviss-dono is popular among both men and women!", as stated by Edward during episode 88's Mär Heaven Network.
Nanashi is reminiscent of Robin Hood, stealing from others and giving to his guild. Alan is likely related to Beauty and the Beast.
Eye Patch Of Power - Both Nanashi and Galian wear their bandanas so that it looks like they're blindfolded (although close-ups reveal that one eye is exposed) and Candice wears an actual eye patch (with a flaming skull insignia no less) over her left eye, and they look pretty badass this way.
It's even worse for the Zonnen. In order to end the War Games, they intended to assassinate the main characters during the latter's Training from Hell. Instead of simply killing Alan and destroying the training gates he had activated, they GO INSIDE THE TRAINING GATES AND TORTURE THE PEOPLE INSIDE. Cue the KÄrmic Deaths.
More of a case of Hoist by His Own Petard. They loved killing too much (to which even Phantom couldn't stand). So they fore went the usual easy method in favor of trying to appease their sick pleasure. Course they ended up underestimating the Mär crew and wound up face in the dirt.
Gingerbread House - In one round of the War Games, Princess Snow fights against the Bishop Emokiss, an ugly little girl whose signature ÄRM is the Gingerbread House - a house of sweets. When she eats the House, she bulks up, growing fatter and larger and stronger with each bite.
Grand Theft Me In the final battle Its revealed the Danna who Ginta faces actually being possessed by the true big bad, a evil orb.
Green Lantern Ring - Babbo. When Ginta slots in a magic stone, he can give that "version" any ability he can think of. This ranges from a hammer/dagger Ärm, to such things as a jelly that defends against all attacks, an Ärm-wielding guardian, and finally a Reverse Gatekeeper Clown.
Harmless Freezing - Snow uses an Ärm to trap herself in ice to prevent the attempted kidnapping by the Chess. Subverted because she's actually in mortal danger if she isn't defrosted in time.
Heavy Voice - One character's signature ARM is the Gingerbread House - a house of sweets. Eating it makes her grow to sumo-like proportions, gaining superhuman strength and toughness in the process. As she grows bigger, her voice grows deeper and thicker.
Heel Face Turn - Plenty of Chess pieces in the anime, Ash, Pano, Gido, Ian, Galian, Chaton, Loco, to name a few
Hoist by His Own Petard: Phantom pretty much, he wanted to see how strong Ginta would become. And wasted a chance to kill him when he was still weak. He even admits it wasn't such a good idea in the final battle when Ginta starts to overcome him.
Holding Back the Phlebotinum - Utterly averted. Most notably, the Training Gate is introduced early and used often; every character not participating in the current day's fights will be training inside, and everyone goes inside to train on the days off.
In battle, the big weapons and guardians are used often, but saved for late in the battle, but this is justified because it takes time to build up synchronization with one's Ärm. Using a big guardian too early will result in it being as hÄrmless as a soap bubble, as Alan is all too willing to explain to an unfortunate Rook.
I Coulda Been A Contender - Gaira on the surface, has the makings of a Badass and was the number 3 player in the previous War Games gets eliminated in the preliminaries by Chimera.
I Have You Now, My Pretty - There's an entire arc in the anime dedicated to Phantom kidnapping and keeping ALVISS at his side, under mind control-complete with Yaoi Fanservice! No, really.
Invincible Hero - All of the team members are this to a degree, but Dorothy takes the cake (She's the only other member of the group not to lose in any of the fights. Ginta himself is justified during the War Games because his loss, as captain, would mean that the entire team would lose.).
Anzai Nobuyuki kinda wrote himself into a corner when he made the rule that loss of the captain of the team in the War Games was instant game over for the heroes' side. Ginta pretty much was designated from the spot that he wasn't going to lose. At least not on the tournament anyway.
Karmic Death: Rapunzel after taking it upon herself to kill her fellow teammates if they lost (or tied in poor Aqua's case). Say the least after she lost her battle to Dorthy, Phantom has her killed personally (in the manga, she decapitated, which was one of her favorite killing methods.
Karma Houdini - Girom. Sweet blue monkey hell, GIROM. No matter how many atrocities he commits, the only punishment he ever gets is getting blasted into the sky and punched unconscious and losing his sister Rapunzel to Ian. He never learns his damn lesson.
Laser-Guided Amnesia - Both Nanashi and Babbo have had their memories wiped prior to Ginta's arrival.
Loads and Loads of Characters - All the members of Chess are named, and there are a lot of members... A select few (mainly the knights) are given backstory and/or become recurring characters throughout the tournament.
Magikarp Power - Jack's Battle Shovel is easily the most useless Ärm the group has, even worse than an unpowered Babbo. All it is is a shovel shaped chÄrm that morphs into... an ordinary shovel, not even meant for battle. However, during his first Trianing Gate session, Dorothy teaches him how to use Magic Stones with the shovel to give it better powers. Jack manages to turn the shovel into a highly powered Nature Ärm (renaming it the Earth Shovel) with the power to manipulate soil and rock, and to germinate and control all manner of highly magical plants. He then proceeds to win almost every one of his War Game fights with it.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy - Roland and Candice, mostly noticeable in the Ghost Chess arc, when they appear together often. Roland is mild mannered, delicate, gentle and looks like a girl. Candice is loudspoken, rude, loves to fight, has an immense ammount of bloodlust and even gropes females now and then.
Mask Power - Every Chess Piece with a rank higher than Pawn has a unique mask. Pawns all have identical masks, to cement their place as Faceless Goons.
Inverted in the Fourth Battle, where the only Chess Bishop wearing a mask was defeated instantly.
Mighty Glacier - Possible deconstruction: Avrute, one of the Chess bishops in the forth battle of the war game, moves slowly and wields a huge claw that can slice through anything; he gets defeated instantly before he can even do anything.
Mirror Match - Nature Ärm Shadowman creates a perfect copy of a person at their strongest. The heroes use it as a training partner inside the Training Gate.
More than Mind Control - Both Phantom and Diana were actually under the manipulation of king, but both where twisted to begin with.
Morph Weapon - Babbo and Jack's battle scoop, and a few other Ärm, through the use of socketing magic stones and then thinking up of cool powers.
Multiple Demographic Appeal - Despite the manga having blood and being geared towards a young teenage audience, the anime was made to be aired to kids... and surprisingly enough, fangirls
Psycho Supporter - Peta, Rolan... hell, the entire Chess organization qualifies for this.
Remember the New Guy - Bell, Alviss' Fairy Companion, isn't active during the tournament, making very brief appearances in the interludes beteween rounds. The same happens to Ed, the dog. They both get more screen time in the anime though.
Screwed by the Network: Together with Prince of Tennis, MAR was aired out of order for several weeks, so that the audience had no idea what was going on. By the time they decided to start over and air the series properly, most of the fans had given up, and it was taken off the air a few months later. It survived for a time on the internet, but that, too, was soon abandoned. DVD's were likewise abandoned as Viz Media gave up on the series entirely. It seems the most we'll ever get from an official source is the 52 episodes currently on Hulu.
Wait, whose the Tomboy? And whose the Girly Girl? Because Dorothy and Snow were kinda a combination of both! I mean, sure Snow wasn't-mega tomboyish, and Dorothy wasn't mega-girly...but Dorothy also wasn't mega tomboyish, and Snow wasn't super girly. They both were feminine and girlish and both could fight.
Will They or Won't They?: Alan and Chaton's relationship seems to fall into this especially during the anime. They do at the end.
When You Snatch the Pebble - After Gaira's Training from Hell that he puts Ginta and Jack through, Alvis asks for a showing of their power now. He takes two stones and fires them towards the two from behind. Ginta, intelligently moves out of the way, impressing Alviss. Jack instead punches the stone, shattering it. He then is seen rolling on the ground because the stone injured his hand. Alvis notes the power increase, but notes that Jack is still an idiot, while Ginta merely freaks out at nearly being lobotomized.
Year Inside, Hour Outside - Dimension Ärm Training Gate. Time passes sixty times as fast inside the gate. The heroes use the Ärm at just about every opportunity to train for enormous periods of time. Ginta's first training period saw him spend half a year inside the Gate, while only three days passed outside.