There was one which stood out above the rest.
It didn't take me very long to dub the story idea...
Phyrra and Cyrus.
Phyrra and Cyrus Thaumason (yes, that is Thompson, and yes it is just about as common a surname for the setting--it's not exactly 'Smith', and while it's not a top-ten surname, it IS a top-15 surname; incredibly common and unremarkable) are prodigal twin siblings. They are considered to be incredibly talented for their age--at 11 years old, both are already accomplished adventurers.
Phyrra is a bit of a Genki girl--she is energetic, enthusiastic, radiates an aura of brightness and happiness, is sweet, naive, and innocent. Additionally, she is incredibly polite, and fairly formal. However, she is also reckless, hotheaded, and a blood knight who loves the thrill of combat. Her specialty is bladed weapons, especially swords. She has blue hair, which is let down. She is also bisexual. (Well, at her age, more like biromantic, butstill.)
Cyrus is everything Phyrra isn't. He is calm, cool, and collected: a thinker, cautious by nature, who prefers to avoid combat when at all possible. He'll use any method to avoid conflict, be it running away or preferably negotiation. However, if a fight is inevitable, his fighting method is to be decisive--whereas Phyrra likes to have fun fighting and thus doesn't think much about winning, Cyrus when he plans a fight plans how to end it as swiftly and effortlessly as possible. He is blunt, unapologetic, rude, cynical, and a bit of a jerk, but he really knows how to use anything.
This is why his preferred weaponry is environmental weaponry. For instance, if surrounded by rocks, using a sling would be a good option; when in a forest, wooden weapons such as a spear would be ideal. When he has to default to a weapon, his choice is the universal staff, a tool versatile, yet pragmatic, and easily carried. He has protagonist-styled spiked red hair. He is demisexual. (Well, at his age, more like demiromantic, butstill.)
The duo sought after the usual things. Fame, fortune, but mostly...respect. A secondary caveat to this was them wanting to be treated as any other person would be, not discriminated against as being children. A tertiary aspect of this was them being self-aware enough that they aren't yet adults, and being frustrated that, yes, their minds still do operate as those of children, albeit incredibly gifted, mature, prodigal children. Though they have the experience and talent of adults, they know all too well their thoughts and critically emotions are those of kids, still.
In the adventure which kicks off the story, the Thaumason Siblings set out after a legendary book, the Book of Endlessness, said to be able to grant the reader(s) limitless abilities, among them age manipulation. Their idea: find the book, and use it to wish to be adults, such that they could so to speak "skip ahead". They were, of course, aware of the risks in doing so, but deemed it worth it because what would be lost from that wouldn't be something they'd miss, as far as they were concerned.
They didn't even think the book was real or if it was what it'd be able to do, but they found a fairly reliable rumor of where it would be if it were, and decided they'd try.
By the way, this was envisioned as an anime. Western Animation would work, but it'd have to be one of those two. It doesn't really work as any other media. Not live action, not even manga that well (though it'd maybe be possible? I just think the magic would be lost without it as an animation).
So keep that in mind.
The first episode opens up with them entering the dungeon and more or less showing off their base abilities and natural personalities as they progress, filled with the special siblings banter only siblings can manage. (Seriously, I don't know how to explain sibling banter to someone who has none. It's just...something people with siblings kinda get and know and understand. They see sibling banter in fiction and they can often tell if the writer has siblings, sort of thing, in that if you know it you know what's real and what's forced.)
Eventually, they find the book, and begin to read it.
So the full effect of the book is that it unlocks the full magical potential of the reader, who takes on possession of the book as being its "owner". Magic exists in this setting, and it's the type that anyone can learn...but learning it takes years of study, such that the youngest magic users are in their 30s if they started when they were children. It is a dedicated, life-long study, akin to getting a doctorate in a field. You spend basically half your life to learn the beginnings of it, and you still even after learning it are no master.
Understandably, this makes magic users uncommon. And this isn't something where you can be a prodigy and learn it at a disproportional rate. There are magical prodigies who can use it in their 20s, but that's the prodigal level. It is the level of a genius, who not only is a genius, but also has essentially a "sixth sense" for muscle memory to learn the magic, or even eidic muscle memory for the process.
...By which. I mean. Magic is something that the entire body uses. It is something which is physically exerting, because it is using "muscles" of sorts which you have to be trained in how to use. I can say it is effectively equivalent to having a person who has used nothing but their hands their entire life, trying to learn how to use legs they've never used. They might see people walk and get the theory, they might know how it is done, but if they try to stand up, they're going to fall.
This is why even prodigies take into their 20s to get it, and most magic users are in their 30s, and magic is a bit of a rarity. Because it is not something you learn to use overnight...and even if you did. That's just for using the magic at all. You still need to, once you have learned HOW to use magic...learn individual spells. Magic isn't a do-anything power. Now, granted. Spells are near-infinite in number and have many different variants. But knowing how to use magic doesn't mean you can use magic because you also need to learn how to use specific spells.
Learning spells? That you can be a prodigy at, by studying hard and grasping them quickly and rapidly. But to learn a spell, first you must learn magic. It's impossible for people to learn a spell without first learning how to use magic, because without knowing how to use magic, the spell is just words on a page with pictures; they have no frame of reference for what it feels like, basically.
Now, granted. There are workarounds. Some people are magic-users-lite, who have unlocked partial magic casting, which they use for a very limited select set of spells applicable for the bits of magic they are using. This still takes years of training, doable in your teenaged years if a prodigy or in your 20s if you're more average. You can think of this as instead of using two arms, of using one hand (fraction of one arm which is half of two).
However, even including those, magic's still not too terribly common. It's a thing, which exists, but which people still don't make wide usage of. The rules governing it are seen as an extension of physics--in a world which has always had magic, after all, the rules governing the universe are such that from a scientific point of view people don't differentiate between magic and not-magic. So it is considered a science, well-documented, well-recorded. People understand what it can, and can't, do.
So back to the book. The book? Basically, it instantly allows the owner to become a mage, regardless of how little they had trained their magic before. It does not grant them the knowledge on how to use said magic...but within the pages of the book are the recordings of basically every possible spell that the unlocked magic can use. (And this being limitless potential...that's basically every spell.) With the caveat...it will only show pages the owner is actually in the now capable of casting.
...Sounds awesome, right?
...Well, the problem is...the book has a self-defense mechanism, and it's not just an easily-bypassed dungeon. In fact, it has more than one, but all of them work on the same principle. The book of endlessness has a defense mechanism which works as a double-reversal, on the principle of "being finite". Normally, when reading the book, the owner will start to find themselves aging rapidly, their time disappearing from being endless to being finite.
If that fails, the walls enclosing the space rapidly progress inward--the endless space becoming finite.
...However. The book's reversal mechanism doesn't quite take into account if two people simultaneously read it to both become the owner. Or rather...it does...and it does the only thing it can: use the reversal in...a very, very different method.
...And it is by this method that the entire rest of the story is set up, because that reversal? A reversal of spirit between the owners. Or in other words. A body swap. Phyrra gets stuck in Cyrus's body; Cyrus gets stuck in Phyrra's body. And it gets worse; they are, for the entire duration of this, now stuck permanently at eleven, never aging. (The opposite, reverse, of what they wanted.)
Yes the series would have plenty of shenanigans where Phyrra (in Cyrus's body) would need to try to pretend to be Cyrus, and vice-versa. And at times, awkwardly enough, the reverse (the two are actually in their correct bodies...but with people who only know Phyrra in Cyrus's body as Phyrra and vice-versa, them needing to try and pretend ANYWAY). You know the like. (So gender stuff would be featured a fair amount.)
...Oh, and the walls start to close in on them anyway.
Fortunately, the book is intricately linked to four other books: the book of wind, the book of earth, the book of fire, and the book of water.
Phyrra, in Cyrus's body, rushes over to the book of wind, activating it. Each book has a defense mechanism of summoning a Guardian. The Guardian's duty is to kill the owner of the book, or failing that, to serve them until such a time as the owner no longer owns the book.
Gora, a rock monster (his design is from a combination of sources, among them being that one rock monster that Kurama faced early on in YuYuHakusho), the Wind Guardian, comes forward...and gets introduced to Phyrra. Guardians, as creatures belonging to the spirit realm, can see beings in their true spiritual form, so has a unique form of double-vision where he can see the body of Cyrus but he can also see that it is actually Phyrra. Phyrra wins him over with her sheepish grin and polite manners.
...It also helps that he is not immune to being crushed in spite of being made of rock, so he starts to panic when he noticed and swiftly teaches Phyrra the 'wings of levitation' spell, which "shuts off traps", and the enclosing walls qualify, thus saving their lives.
Gora notes that they're just children, and can't find himself to do anything other than help them.
...And thus, the story begins, concluding the first episode.
This trio lasts for quite a large amount of time before other members of the Thaukama (Thaumpson + Nakama, it's the best I could come up with for their group name) join. In APPROXIMATE order:
Kaze, the Earth Guardian, is summoned when Gora is badly injured in a way the kids need the aid of the earth book in order to fix, a task that Cyrus (in Phyrra's body) undertakes. Kaze is a homicidal maniac. (His design is directly lifted from Kazekirimaru in Bleach's Zanpaktou Rebellion filler arc.) He is a killing machine who excels at slicing opponents to shreds, and unlike Gora, he is not so easily dissuaded from murdering his book's owner because of him being a child.
Phyrra does combat with him using her wind magic augmenting her blades, a fight which she does respectably well in and Kaze acknowledges her talent, yet notes that no matter her potential and no matter how prodigal she may be she is still inexperienced in the ways of the wind which he has had eons to master, so she is at a disadvantage.
After healing Gora and watching the fight for long enough, Cyrus challenges Kaze, noting that he is to be Kaze's owner, not Phyrra, and that if he is to be worthy of that, then he should be the one who earns Kaze's respect. In spite of using the element which has a disadvantage (the reason Guardians are the opposite element to the book they are guarding is twofold--to kill any would-be expert of the element, and to provide coverage to the expert of the element should they decide to subjugate themselves), Cyrus does in fact manage to prove himself.
Ace, age 16, the first non-Guardian member of the Thaukama, is an expert marksman. Give him any ranged weapon, and he can hit almost any target. He specializes in pistols, but using muskets is still viable. He is a highly competent archer even though he doesn't like to use bows, and he can make do with a crossbow even though he thinks them cumbersome. He can hit with a sling, and can throw darts and the like fairly well.
However, perhaps his most valuable asset is not his combat skills, but rather, the fact that unlike Phyrra and Cyrus, he is trained to survive out in the wild for long durations of time. He knows advanced first aid techniques, such that he is an expert medic, and is a survival expert, knowing what's edible, what's not, what's poisonous, what's not, how to prepare foods which would normally be toxic such that they are edible, where to find things, how to prepare against environmental hazards, and the like.
I haven't given him a last name yet, though he does have a loose appearance. Brown hair, fairly shaggy, wears a cowboy hat, has a trenchcoat, combat pants, and for shoes maybe combat boots. I want an aesthetic which is, overall, something that would say 'pragmatic in most environments'. (I mean obviously he'd need a different getup in a colder environment, but I want something which works reasonably well in the forest, jungle, desert, sea, and the like, while still offering high combat readiness.)
There would be other human members of the Thaukama join before this, but I haven't fleshed them out in much detail.
Myra, Fire Guardian, a Siren (with a Mermaid form and Sea Serpent form), is summoned by Cyrus (in Phyrra's body) when the siblings are entering into an area they anticipate fire magic being useful for. She is equally as lethal as Kaze, loving to eat or drown to death anyone. (None of the Guardians are pleasant individuals; the siblings having 'tamed' them is noted as being an incredibly unusual occurrence because the Guardians are explicitly MONSTERS.)
However, because she is a Siren, immensely beautiful and alluring, Cyrus is basically smitten, addressing her as...
Myra is taken aback, and briefly insulted by the term of endearment, because it'd imply she is seen as an older individual whereas she loves the thought of being seen for her beauty and charm.
Phyrra explains to her, also addressing her formally as Lady Myra, that while she might be looking upon children, her charms are not lost on the children. Cyrus's reaction is as it is because he sees her as absolutely gorgeous, and everything he imagined his mother would look like. Phyrra puts on her own charm so to speak and says that Myra is basically everything she'd hope to be when older, and explains that if they ended up aging in spite of Cyrus being in that body, that Cyrus wouldn't complain too terribly much about turning out that way, either, more or less.
This flattery and sweetness and all-around awe at her flusters Myra quite a bit, and while she is quite adamant she is not their mother, inevitably, she does end up being the Team Mom anyway.
At some later point, the Thaukama get stranded on an island--to get off, they need to make use of the wind and water books in tandem, so Phyrra ends up summoning...
Hera, the Water Guardian, a Phoenix/Dragon who has many of the typical traits of the latter. She loves to hoard money, she loves to eat people, she loves burning things to ashes, and demanding tribute in the form of pretty maidens (that she explicitly-as-can-be-while-still-having-it-as-implied has sex with, so yes she is a lesbian but yes she is also a rapist), but in spite of all these unpleasantries (I repeat. The Guardians are not nice people. They are MONSTERS. They enjoy killing things among other atrocities), she does have a rule--
She will give her blessing to anything which survives the fire. "Reborn through fire" is in fact still part of her design, coming from the phoenix half, and through the ashes of her flame, she will give prosperity to the individuals whom she deems worthy of continued life.
Phyrra willingly undergoes this trial, passing, and earning the fourth and final guardian as a companion.
There would be at least one more human member of the Thaukama to join after this point, a girl about the same age as the Thaumason siblings, but I haven't named her or put much design into her character. (Her presence is more plot-related.)
This took me more or less...like.
Ten minutes to think up.
Literally all that happened in the course of a powernap.
I'm not sure how many episodes there'd be. Quite a number, though. At least 24/26 (depending on whether a season would be 12 or 13), possibly double that (if you count 12/13 as the half-season and 24/26 as a complete season). I don't think it'd run longer than that, though. (In fact, 48 already seems like it might be pushing things.)
The setting is such that I could write an endless amount of material for it, and the series epilogue (I know exactly how things go from the confrontation with the final Big Bad onwards) leaves things rather open-ended both after, during, and before said epilogue in that there is the possibility of writing FAR more material than documented.
But I know what kind of material I have, what kind of material I want, what kind of story I want to tell, and about how long that story would be, and that's not as long as you'd think it'd be. I wish I could make it, but this is miles beyond my league. I don't have the ability to start to finish map out the story, yet alone, line for line the dialog happening such that every single moment is mapped out.
Even if I did have that scriptwriting skill, I don't have the art skills necessary to draw the scenes I know I'd need to.
Even if I did, I don't have the animation skills necessary to make said scenes come to life.
Even if I did, I don't have the audio editing skills (there's names for that but I'm too lazy to bother looking them up) to basically work with the sound.
Even if I did, I would need voice actors for these roles, able to consistently deliver the wide array of things I'd need them to (there is one point which requires an incredibly professional level of performance in order to nail the moment I have in mind and it WOULD be screwed up with sub-par voice acting)...and this is something I can't exactly do myself.
So I would need those voice actors, something I can't get around no matter my ability to get around those other limitations.
And they would need to be high-quality.
And they would need to be able to deliver on a schedule more or less.
...Those services exist.
...But they sure don't exist for free.
You quite literally get what you paid for.
So if you pay nothing, then you find almost no voice actors. The few who bite are likely low-quality, and are going to be working under their own time constraints rather than yours because they are effectively volunteering.
So EVEN IF ALL OTHER FACTORS WERE ACCOUNTED FOR.
I couldn't do this on my own.
...And all other factors aren't accounted for.
I do need the audio editing skills; this is not something I have the software for, nor the training, and I have little in the ability to learn these things and if I did I wouldn't learn them well enough to make use of them to the level they'd need to be at. The only way I get what I want is with someone who's an expert, which means again hiring someone. More money aside from the voice actors.
I do need the animation skills; this is not something I can do. Yadda yadda, more rambling, end result: hiring someone. More money. Oh and as an aside...said person would need the ability to not only closely work with me, but also the audio guy. (Who would need to work well with both the animation guy and the voice actors since the audio guy would know what was needed there.)
Just animating isn't good enough; to animate something, first I need to show what needs to be animated. This is done through a combination of scripts and art. I need help on both because I cannot master both.
I can write the overall narrative.
I can flesh out moments.
But I can't on my own make the script. I'd need writers to help me. I'd outline some things, they'd outline others, collaborating until I got a narrative and product that I was satisfied with. All the while working with artists who'd draw these images to give character reference art and scene reference art.
More collaboration, even.
...You can see where this is headed.
It's not possible for me to make, because for me to make it I'd require a fully staffed animation studio. Proper hardware, proper software, proper staffing, properly paid.
It's literally one of the best ideas I've ever had, up there with the villain song setting (which I envisioned more as a film or maybe miniseries) in how good it'd be...and yet.
It'll never come to be.
I'm gonna take a break; when I return, I might ramble about the other things I need to, the perfect RPG stuff and the webcomic idea (which I actually could make because I have the skills necessary, I just never will because 98% of my ideas are never going to see the light of reality thanks to how much time/effort the 2% which do take).