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The Fantasy Fighting Anime That Everyone's Binging On Netflix

An interest in Old Norse mythology is nothing new, but it's probably safe to say the fascination took on a very specific shape in 2011 when the first "Thor" movie came out. Since then, when people think of Thor, they imagine Chris Hemsworth's affable interpretation of the character as a god who is also kind of an alien, but mostly just really likes drinking beer and fighting. Likewise, we think of someone like Loki as being generally Tom Hiddleston-shaped. We think of Heimdall as Idris Elba, Sir Anthony Hopkins is Odin, Tessa Thompson is a Valkyrie, and so on and so forth. And if you're caught up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then Asgard is a heaping pile of ash because of the Fire Demon Surtur and the doomsday prophecy Ragnarok.

But Marvel's is just one multiverse of interpretations of Norse mythology. Almost every modern culture filters Norse myth through their own, including Japanese. In point of fact, there's a brand new anime series on Netflix called "Record of Ragnarok" that is a pretty wild take on lots of different gods across history and cultures.

The set up is simple: There's a council of deities which gather once a millennia to decide whether or not humanity should continue existing — it's kind of like the Q Continuum from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." "Record of Ragnarok" takes place when the gods universally decide that humanity will never change and it's time to wipe them from creation — and that's when things get really interesting.

Gods square off against real historical figures in a fight for humanity

Before the gods can pass summary judgment on humanity and bring an end their civilization forever, the Valkyrie Brunhilde steps in to offer an alternate solution — Ragnarok. In this anime series, Ragnarok is an apocalyptic event where 13 of humanity's best warriors do battle with 13 gods. The first to have 7 victories during Ragnarok, is declared the victor. If humanity wins, the gods will leave humanity alone for 1,000 years, but if the gods win, then humanity is destroyed.

Brunhilde has a stake in humanity because she is part human. As for the gods, they seem to agree to Ragnarok not because Brunhilde accuses them of being chicken, but for the sport of it. The first god to do battle during Ragnarok is, in fact, Thor — but he doesn't bear much resemblance to Chris Hemsworth. This Thor is literally white-skinned, has long, red hair, gold eyes, and his version of Mjolnir is absolutely massive. If you've ever played "Final Fantasy VII," then imagine Cloud Strife's buster sword, but as a hammer. These are the proportions we're dealing with.

Something else that makes "Record Ragnarok" interesting is that the gods are pitted against versions of real, historical figures. Thor's fight is against Lü Bu, a fearsome Chinese military general. His exploits are so popular that they were novelized (and dramatized and gameified) in the popular story "Romance of the Three Kingdoms." It's no surprise Lü Bu would make it into an anime series.

Does historical figures facing off against gods for the fate of mankind sound intriguing to you? "Record of Ragnarok" is streaming on Netflix now.