They’re the best Anime that 2005 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Tsubasa Chronicle, Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou, Rozen Maiden: Tr?umend, and more!
10: Tsubasa Chronicle
English: Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE
Japanese: ツバサ クロニクル
MAL Score: 7.53
During an excavation at the mysterious ruins in Clow Country, Syaoran discovers his childhood friend Princess Sakura appear on the site with wings that disperse into many feathers. As the feather’s disappear to different dimensions, so does Sakura’s memory. In attempts to save Sakura’s life and restore her memory, Syaoran travels through to another world to find a solution. There’s only one thing left he can do. Travel through to different dimensions to collect Sakura’s feathers. Helping out with the quest is Kurogane, an exiled ninja from Japan Country who wishes to return to his world, the runaway magician, Fay, who desires to jump between each world never to return to his own and the white meat-bun shaped creature, Mokona.
The anime had a very promising first episode and the characters seems well thought out and reasonably likable. I found it entertaining and continued onward.
It goes all downhill from there. The plot starts out strong and then begins failing very quickly. There is a massive amount of what I would claim is filler and you really cannot see much progression at all in the story throughout the entire 1st and 2nd series. (I just found out that the third was canceled >_<)
Basically you could skip episodes 10-47 ish and still know whats going on. The part that really got to me was how often they would play a song while slowly moving frames across the screen to take up time during an episode. I know what the characters faces look like and I don’t need to see close ups of them doing nothing for 10 minutes every episode. They never even bothered to come up with new songs, just replayed them.
If you can sit through 52 episodes of sameness and you enjoy that feel free to watch. I have nothing against the characters or the idea behind the show. It just seems to me that they never went anywhere with it. Maybe the manga is better, I wouldn’t know. Hope this review is helpful and not seen as a hate thread.
First of, in case you did not know, CLAMP decided to \"recycle\" a lot of its characters from Card Captor Sakura and other anime in this show. In essence, you will see a ton of familiar faces, but that\’s all they are – faces. For the most part they have completely different personalities and histories. I don\’t know if that\’s because they ran out of ideas for completely new characters or not, but that\’s just the way it is. But don\’t get me wrong, it\’s definitely not a bad thing.
The animation, as usual from CLAMP, is up to par with today\’s standards and what today\’s viewers expect from an anime. It\’s very crisp and clean and very colorful. The relationship between Sakura and Syaoran is something you could shed a tear witnessing the trials they go through, but once again, the slowness of it all prevents a continuous enjoyment of that.
Yuki Kaijura has once again put together a very beautiful soundtrack to go along with this anime. From the very first time the piece named \"A song of storm and fire\" is played with the anime, that alone will urge you to keep watching this anime. However, this anime does progress extremely slowly at times, especially after the first arc and the fillers (you wouldn\’t think there would be fillers in a 26-episode season, but there are) are extremely boring, possibly with the exception of one or two filler arcs.
Even with all of that, its the animation and music that keeps Tsubasa RESERVoir Chronicles – the anime – alive and what keeps its viewers, in my mind anyway. The story has the potential (well, it does if you read the manga) to be amazing, but the fillers and slow progress prevent it from doing so. If you want to know what happens, pick up the manga and start reading it. You won\’t be disappointed. The anime is something you have to be patient with.
CLAMP, in a move of sweeping lack of creativity, decided to make another franchise by reusing their old characters. I gotta say, smart move, CLAMP–your cash cow is ready to be chopped up and sold.
And this is what Tsubasa Chronicle is: a sell-out.
The story is bland and boring. Dimension-travellers bound together for whatever reasons, but you know, viewers won’t care because they get to see Sakura and Shaoran or whatever his name is go gaga over one another once again and two yaoi-fodder guys vacillate between passion and disgust of one another.
The art was mediocre. It wasn’t good, wasn’t bad. Nothing special. Like the sound.
I cannot give the characters a good rating because they aren’t characters. They are just themselves from the old anime transported to a new one to serve a purpose. They aren’t developed, they aren’t deep, it isn’t good.
I was yawning and scratching a lot while watching this–that can’t be good.
Overall, this is unfabulous crap. Don’t watch it. Unless you’re a CLAMP fan and you won’t listen to me.
9: Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
Japanese: バジリスク 甲賀忍法帖
MAL Score: 7.56
For centuries, the Iga and Kouga ninja clans have engaged in a bitter war. But when a ceasefire is ordered by the powerful warlord Ieyasu Tokugawa, the two clans are forced to put down their arms.
Years later, Gennosuke Kouga, heir of the Kouga clan, and Oboro Iga, heir of the Iga clan, have fallen in love. Through marriage, both heirs aim to bring peace to the clans. But their hopes are dashed when flames of rivalry between their clans are reignited, and they are dragged into another war.
Ieyasu’s two grandsons have both claimed to be the next heir to the shogunate. To resolve this dispute, both the Kouga and Iga are ordered to send their 10 best warriors to fight in a bloody battle royale, with each clan representing one of the potential shogunate heirs. Two scrolls with the names of the fighters are given and are to be marked in blood upon the given fighter’s death. The prize for winning is the favor of the Tokugawa shogunate for a thousand years. Torn between their love for each other and duty to their clans, Gennosuke and Oboro must ultimately decide the fate of their clans.
Heartless killing, endless dying. That pretty much made up the story. Almost every character was just blood thirsty, all except this anime’s Romeo and Juliet, aka Gennosuke and Oboro. It’s another story of forbidden love, I suppose. The forbidden love was a foot note for me – I was more engrossed by the fight scenes and the dramatic deaths of the ninjas.
The concept was actually new to me, but I was able to understand most of it. I was familiar with Samurai – themed anime, but I have never watched a serious shinobi anime like this one (that’s right – Flame of Recca doesn’t count). I’m not sure what separates the two, but from what I notice, Ninjas are less moral and are more likely into killing, that’s why the Iga and Kouga ninjas were chosen to fight it out with each other to come up with the decision on who will succeed the third shogun. I am not sure whether or not this really happened (I don’t think so) but there were a lot of historical references that were explained (thank God!). It’s another opportunity to learn about Japanese culture and history!
So the characters ended up killing each other in the way they knew how – using their different techniques of course. They all had unique techniques, from super sticky phlegm to blood sucking skin to deadly glances. These techniques gave spice to the already violent carnage.
Like their techniques, their respective practitioners were equally impressive and different (Although the girls looked alike, and Koshirou and Yashamaru as well). I was sad that some were only shown for a short time, because their personalities and character made it seem like they were going to stick around longer.
I have to commend the voice acting for this one. Even though I’m not that fluent in Japanese, I know well enough Japanese slang to tell that the language they’re using was the one used in that era. They seem to say “Gozaimasu” a lot. Generally, the seiyus brought out the personalities of their respective characters, and that’s always a good thing.
The drawing style was pretty good, but I found that it can be a bit exaggerated sometimes. Body proportions were kinda weird. Everyone and everything seemed to be big. The women had huge, nipple-less chests (Found out from all the naked girl fight scenes). The men had overly large frames, but they are ninjas so I’m not sure about that. The wrinkles on the elders were a bit too extreme. They were kind with Danjou, but poor Ogen. She was so beautiful in her youth and when she got old they made her look REALLY old. There were a lot of hair too – everyone just seemed so hairy. The landscapes and backgrounds were nicely drawn though, and I did detect a hint of CG just to compliment some scenes. I was kinda ticked that a lot of the scenes were in the dark, which made it hard for me to tell what was happening. Oh well, they didn’t have light then anyway. When the scenes were during the daytime, you could tell the colors were done nicely and complimented each other instead of clashing with each other.
I noticed there was a great variety of BGM – most of them were gloomy though. It did fit the series well, but that’s about it. They didn’t heighten the mood of the scene or anything like that. The opening theme singer’s voice (which is actually Oboro’s seiyu) sounded a bit operatic, so I didn’t like the opening theme that much. I liked both the ending songs though, they seemed more current compared to the opening theme. Anyway, all in all the music fit the mood of the anime.
Again I was hesitant with this one – Didn’t really want to watch it at first since I thought it was going to be too serious, but it ended up to be very exciting and likable. Let’s not forget the violence and gore either, It may seem like I like shojo more, but I actually love violent series just as much.
The story is simple – two warring ninja clans kill each other. Don’t let the simple plot fool you though, there is a forbidden love story thrown into the mix aswell, and that is pulled off well. The best way to describe this would be a ultra-violent Romeo and Juliet sort of story. I enjoyed the story very much, but it had it’s flaws. Many of the characters that appear only last for a few episodes, and I felt that they could have been kept along just a bit longer. But, after all, the main premise of this anime is two ninja clans killing each other, so I’m not really that upset.
Art: (10/10) – Outstanding
This is some of the best art I have ever seen in Anime, period. I am not exaggerating one bit. Even if you don’t like the plot, the sound, or the characters, you should watch this Anime just for the art. If I could rate the art eleven out of ten, I would. Simply epic art. Much detail is put into everything that you see. The backgrounds are rich and colorful, but not too colorful, and seem to pop out of the screen at you. The characters are well designed, and convincing. Even some of the CGI, although it is rarely used, is well done. The only bad point I would give the art would be that some of the characters were designed rather oddly, with massive deformations which takes away from the otherwise blatant realism of this Anime.
Sound: 9/10 – Great
There really isn’t much to say about the sound. I watched this series dubbed for the first five episodes then switched over to subtitles. The dub is well done, but it is very strange watching Ninja’s in seventeenth century Japan speaking English. The subtitles are well done, but they were a tad bit small for my taste, although I do have rather bad vision. The one bad point about the sound is that a lot of the characters that are voiced are given very unrealistic voices, and it is hard to see a character in real life speaking that way. Also, some of the sound effects are a bit overdone.
Character: 8/10 – Very Good
The characters aren’t anything special in themselves, but a good amount of character development is done. As said earlier, the two main characters resemble Romeo and Juliet, in a forbidden love scenario. A complaint I have about the characters is also as mentioned before in the art section — many of them are massively deformed with huge tumors and the like. I am not sure if they meant to do this to show that they had no modern medicine, but some of the deformations are so over the top that they would be almost impossible in real life unless the character was suffering from a severe case of elephantiasis. Also, some of the characters are killed off way too soon, and I feel that they could have had use in the plot.
Enjoyment – 10/10 – Outstanding
I watched this show in a matter of three days, which is pretty good if you ask me. This series if very, very enjoyable, one of the best around. If you have some spare time, I would recommend putting aside a weekend and marathoning it with some friends. This anime has a rather good re watch value also.
Overall: 9/10 – Great
This is a very good anime series, and despite some of it’s flaws, is a must see for any fan. I would say that about 95% of the people who watch this will like it. I would say that this series is appropriate for children over the age of fifteen, because it does include violence, scenes of rape, nudity, blood, and mildly suggestive themes. Main Verdict – Buy, rent, or download this anime — it is great!
It is romantic, gory, action-packed, dramatic, deep and beautiful in every way.
The story is a revamp of the old Kouga/Iga ninja conflict. It is interesting and involving. The story is a historical piece, but it becomes so much more because it reminds you that the people involved were PEOPLE, who had lives and loves and everything in-between. The plot follows a bloody death match; there’s execution-style story-telling, and it reels you in from the first episode to the chilling final one.
The art was excellent. Couldn’t do any better. It has a unique style, the colour pallet was amazing, the background art was gorgeous and the animation was astounding (excellent fight scenes).
The characters were deep and three-dimensional. There are more than 10 people you will see who has the focus on the anime on them, but each is interesting and has a backstory to them so it helps us understand who they are.
If you think Naruto is the greatest ninja anime ever, this isn’t for you, because you wouldn’t know quality if it stuck you in the eye with a kunai. There was nothing unfabulous about this anime, so do watch it.
8: Rozen Maiden: Tr umend
English: Rozen Maiden: Tr umend
Japanese: ローゼンメイデン トロイメント
MAL Score: 7.64
As the story of Rozen Maiden closes, a new chapter begins in Rozen Maiden: Tr?umend. Shinku and the other sentient dolls of the Rozen Maiden collection are living life as usual at Jun Sakurada’s house. Having settled into his role as Shinku’s partner in the deadly Alice Game, Jun overcomes his former fears and prepares to return to school. And although Shinku and the other dolls idly pass the days by in the comfort of Jun’s home, dark times lie ahead as a new foe presents herself: Barasuishou, the seventh Rozen Maiden.
But Barasuishou is a mystery even to her sisters, none of whom have ever laid eyes on her until now. Shinku considers this a sign that the Alice Game is coming to an end, meaning the dolls will soon be forced to fight one another. Haunted by the upcoming battle and nightmares concerning another doll, Shinku begins distancing herself from the others. If she wishes to claim victory, it will come at a high cost—the lives of her sisters.
Story: TrÃ¤umend picks up an unspecified amount of time after the first season. All the dolls are still living at Jun’s house, and he’s definitely better than he was, but still not going to school (though there’s good reason for it ‘ he’s playing catch-up). Shinku is having guilt-related nightmares, and after one of these, she and Jun end up being drawn back into the mirror in his attic (why haven’t they gotten rid of that yet?!) and meeting the seventh doll, whose appearance basically means that Father wants them to get on with the Alice Game, already.
This season is everything I wanted last season to be, and more. There’s not so much filler as there was before ‘ and when there is, it actually advances the plot! –, and there’s actually an overarching plot/urgency that wasn’t there last season. And moreover, we get to see the darker tones that were only hinted at in the last season. There are so many more standout episodes, and the writers really show their talent by making you feel for characters you might not have necessarily liked last season.
However, it’s not perfect. There is a character who turns into a bad running joke for most of the series. And it looked like it was going to resolve things up till the last minute, but in the second half of the last episode, there’s a nasty plot twist that leaves things open for a third season and several mysteries in its wake.
Art: I don’t know why, but the colors seem richer this season. Maybe it’s because there are so many scenes where they can use certain color schemes/tones. Either way, it looks like it did last season, but better.
Music: Again, about the same as last season. The background music has its instantly recognizable songs (some that carry over from last season, too, which is really nice). Didn’t like the OP as much as last season’s (ALI Project, again), but it grew on me. Liked the ED instantly, though, as it’s done by the same group who did Nishi no Yoki Majo: Astraea Testament’s OP, which is one of my favorites (kukui).
Length: No real issues with length, this time. Length is the same as last season’s (twelve episodes), but it definitely goes by quicker. When there was filler, as I said before, it ended up advancing the plot, so that was good, and there was an overarching plot/urgency to drive things forward. However, the eleventh-hour plot twist in the episode, while it leaves things open for a second season, leaves a bit of a bitter aftertaste, because they were this close to resolving things, and they’ve only bought up more mysteries.
Seiyuu: I recognize Enju’s seiyuu from TmoHS (Koizumi) and Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~ (Asuta), and Suigin Tou’s seiyuu continues to rawq (Leandra from Nishi no Yoki Majo ‘ Astraea Testament and Lula from Red Garden!), but no other standout roles. Decent seiyuu all around.
Dub: N/A, has not been licensed as of yet.
Overall: A definite improvement on the first season, but still has its flaws. The ending leaves things more than open and ready for a third season, so Nomad should follow up on the implied promise and fix what few problems there are, kthnxbye.
Overall: 39/50; 78% (C)
The Story line of this anime was very good showing not only the beauty of the dolls outfits and personalities, but adding the final touch with intense fighting scenes. Although I do not want to give out alot of info this series is about a young boy named jun who is locked up in his room because of cracking under pressure on entrance exams, we do not find out about that until later on in the series, so as a result he is a hermit in his own home refusing to go to school and buying “stupid” mystical items off his computer. Then he gets possesion of Shinku, a wind up doll in search of Alice (the perfect doll) for his creator or “Father” to be happy, and for that to happen she has to defeat all the other dolls known as “Rozen Maidens” and take there life which is called a “Rozen Mystica” Now as the story goes on you see the characters unique personalities and powers. I believe that this series is a great recommendation to people who are interested in mystical and almost sci-fi’sh anime. The story was overall good and had me wondering what would happen next although I thought that the ending was a little weak because it doesn’t explain what happened to everyone else but gives an idea.
The Art in this Anime is absolutely amazing. For the most part when I watched this I felt like there was a normal feel (as in the regular japanese home and life) with a little class into it. there is detail in every background although the characters do stick out more. There is one scene I absolutely adored the art and that was when one of the Rozen Maidens (Suigin Tou) goes to her world and it is snowing with Crystals all around. I really did love that the backgrounds fit the characters nature and personalilty for the fighting scenes and the comedy scenes.
now the music was great, I loved the opening for this anime so much, it was creepy and yet energetic and was so well done. I love that the ending was great too because it was classy and modern at the same time , with a fast beat but still had that classy feel. I also loved the background music for this anime. the Orchestra was great for the serious scenes and the not so serious scenes. I really did enjoy the music
Now I know in this review I talk alot about the characters but I cannot help it they were great. The way they acted was amazing to the outfits they wore. As a person who thought I’d never watch this anime due to the fact that I am personally afraid of dolls, felt like these characters were real with every step they took. Each personality was different in there own way and that is why I fell so in love with them. I especially fell head over heels for Shinku. She may act serious at times, but there have been times I felt that she was funny and overall the most beautiful of the Rozen maidens. the costumes fit each of the personalities with different colors on everyone’s costume, and the fact that each is very unique made my heart jump. I also loved the supporting characters too as they were very great at there personalities and expressions, plus their designs fit their personalities greatly.
my overall enjoyment for this anime is splendid. The only problem I had with it was probably the design of barasusishou because the other designs of all the characters were amazing and detailed while her design felt like it did not belong, though I did enjoy this character repeating what everyone said, I did not like how she look because she stood out too much. I also as I said earlier did not really like the ending because I wanted to see what happened to the other characters in the story that got there Rozen Mystica’s taken away, but it was an overall 9.5 out of 10
The story this time is more interesting, is a little bit more original and the plot advances faster. However, it lacks some details about the story that i think werent very well explained.
Still, is better than first season, so i pass from 7 to 8.
art (7.3) – Not much difference in this aspect..i really didnt notice any change at all, still an average aspect.
Sound (8.0) – Sound is a little better than first season, however, is not enough for a 9. Background music this time fits better with the plot, the ed and op are about the same opinion i´ve had in the first season, just acceptable.
Character (8.0) – (read my review in the first series, so you will understand) Again, its what i said in the first season. My opinion didnt change much with the new story and with the new characters. However, with more action it gets a little better, but not enough to give a 9.
Enjoyment (8.0) – This time, there is more action, more mystery. There is improvement in this aspect, this time i will give it an 8.
overall (8) – Second series of rozen maiden is definitevely better than the first. However, there are still flaws, and even with this improvement, i still say that this is what i call an average anime. However, if you have a lot of spare time, you can check it, maybe you will like it.
MAL Score: 7.64
Saya Otonashi is a seemingly ordinary girl living a mundane life with her adoptive family in Okinawa City. In fact, her only peculiarities are suffering from anemia and being unable to remember any of her life beyond the previous year.
However, Saya’s forgotten past quickly comes back to haunt her—one night, she is attacked at school by a creature that feeds on human blood. Just when all hope seems lost, a mysterious man named Haji appears and fends off the creature temporarily. But when her rescuer forces her to drink his blood, Saya suddenly enters a trance and slays the monster with ease, using her own blood as a catalyst.
Saya then learns of an organization named Red Shield, founded for the sole purpose of defeating the hellish beasts. Now Saya and Haji must work together with Red Shield to fight these fearsome monsters and unlock the secrets to the girl’s past.
The story is dark, sad and action-packed. I like how they present everything with a sad setting; it’s not like it’s just one big brawl after another; it is emotions and resolve-strengthening, it’s battles which have a reason other than just being yet another battle. The story keeps complex but simple enough to follow without too much thinking “what’s happening?”
The animation style in Blood+ is really cool. It’s got good shading details, and the characters looks good too; they’ve got a nice variation of character designs, some detailed and some maybe not so detailed. The animation is flawless; at least no noticeable errors. The background art in this series is amazing; the sceneries and cityscapes are wonderful to look at.
The music rocks too. The OP/ED songs are great (aside the fourth OP, which was all but good), and the background music is just as it should be; moody. It sets the right mood to all the scenes, and it fits very good with the series’ sad tone.
Blood+ has the best character development of any anime I’ve watched. I’m completely enthralled by its characters, and how they change during the course of the series. They’re deep, three-dimensional characters, and their relationships with each other are fascinating. I also like how a simple death during the beginning of the series had a large effect on the characters.
What I like about Blood+ is that despite being about vampires, it focuses on almost anything but the vampire aspects of the characters, with the latter being used mainly as a MacGuffin. Therefore, you’ll enjoy this series even if you do not like vampire anime, and you’ll love it if you like vampire anime.
All in all, Blood+ is among the better series in the vast world that is anime, and a series you’ll enjoy watching.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
What every viewer must realize first off is that this is NOT just an anime about vampires. The fact that the characters often require blood to survive is used as an effective plot device, but it is not the entire focus of the show. What this means is that it appeals to both those who love vampire animes and those who do not, creating, as a whole, an extremely balanced, well crafted anime.
The anime will be a joy for anyone who watches it. The storyline ranges from romance, to comedy, to intrigue, to detailed pseudo-history, innocence and experience, violence and peace, and then circles around again to the vague but omnipresent romance that insinuates itself, not as the main focus, but as a continuing theme throughout.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the anime, and I invite all who read this to do the same.
Post-note: All scores are compared to titles I have watched personally and represent the verbal “score” of that number, with a 7 meaning ” Good”. It is unrelated to the 1-10 grading that a lot of people seem to solely apply, without thinking of what it means.
Originally an offshoot of an earlier movie, Blood+ combines both existing elements present in anime and new ones, to create a somewhat unique shonen (yes, shonen, because that’s what this is, don’t be fooled by the R+ rating) title. The original premise, that of cute girl with big sword fighting large monsters has been done many times before, but it is the encompassing plot and character designs that make this title stand out.
The fact that that the writers obviously wanted this series to stand out compared to a lot of other drab that comes out nowadays is evident. Sharp character designs (lack of moe characters) are the norm, and the plot line aims to be as realistic as possible, including many existing locations throughout the modern world. from Japan to Russia to France, it becomes evident that the animators have at least glanced at existing sceneries before sketching the locations where the story takes place.
We can understand the actions of certain characters (if the motifs have been revealed), and often the distinction between good and evil becomes blurred, something which lacks in a lot of series nowadays, where differences are usually black and white, with not much repose in between.
Then, you may ask ” Why give it a 7?”.
First note that a 7 to me means ” Good”, it holds no numerical value. Blood+ is a good show, but it doesn’t have any factors that make it stand out to the point where, maybe a year later, you think “wow, that was quite a memorable show”.
It is the same factor that makes it unique, that drags it down. The score is pulled down because of the lack of realism in a show that aims to include many elements pulled straight out of the 21st century world for the sake of appearing realistic and well thought through.
There is a scene where a protagonist is being pursued. He flees into a park, filled with happy picnickers. He rests momentarily on a bench, when suddenly his pursuer appears again. He runs through the park, but to our surprise, all those picnickers have disappeared. Is the director implying that in the few seconds that the camera pans away, all those men and women decided to pack up and leave? This incident is not standalone, and quite often outsiders (to the plot) seem to act illogically, or simply disappear solely for the sake of furthering a plot line and making the actions of characters seem logical.
Another small, annoying factor is that all characters seem to be able to speak to anyone on the globe. Now honestly, I don’t believe that the entire world has started speaking Japanese overnight. This can be overlooked to a certain extent however, since such reasoning seems to be prevalent in many shonen titles.
Another factor pulling down an otherwise very good show, is the seemingly low budget of Blood+. It affects many of the most dominant factors determining the success of a show, plot, animation and sound. Firstly, the plot seems to suffer because directors and producers felt it necessary to include a lot of tangents, which lead nowhere. The entire series could have been done in 3/4ths of the 50 episodes that it runs for or less. Secondly, the lack of CG animation and lanky movements at times takes away from a series that includes a lot of fight scenes. Although it does give it some sort of visual appeal, it would have been much better executed with a larger animation budget.
Sound is another factor pulling it down. Although there are some good tracks in the OST, which are nice to the ear, the repetition and overuse of them is simply irritating, especially for a longer anime like Blood+. The OP and ED are of the common staple, including well known (at least, for us anime fans) J-Rock bands such as UVERworld and Hyde. Certainly not bad, but not very original either. Voice acting isn’t terribly great either, although the actors can convey different emotions, it is not entirely convincing either.
Lastly, personally I found the lack of a deeper ” meaningful” plot line distasteful. Although certainly not needed, it would have brought the enjoyment factor up quite a bit. Simply following the story of the main protagonist, Saya, can be a bore at times, especially when it becomes overly melodramatic.
Pushing my criticism aside, Blood+ certainly isn’t a bad series. Even with these somewhat irritating flaws, it is still much better than a lot of Shonen titles nowadays, and for anyone simply wanting some enjoyment without a too much engrossing plot, i’d certainly recommend this. However, for anyone looking for something deeper, something with, say, moralistic or idealistic principles, i’d tell you to look further, because this wouldn’t be for you.
Recommended for: (more serious) Shonen fans, those looking for something different than average.
Not recommended for: Fans of moe character designs, serious Seinen fans.
6: Ueki no Housoku
English: The Law of Ueki
MAL Score: 7.75
Unbeknownst to most humans, a bizarre tournament is held to decide the next ruler of the Heavenly World. In this tournament, 100 Heavenly Beings known as the “God Candidates” are required to search among the middle school students on Earth, and transfer their powers to a student of their choice. The chosen ones will then battle each other, representing their God Candidates. The victor of this tournament will be awarded the “Blank Talent”—allowing them to choose any one unique ability they so desire—while the God Candidate they represent will obtain the position of “God” and become the king of the Heavenly World.
Participating in this grand tournament is Kousuke Ueki, a middle school student who is given the power to turn trash into trees by his homeroom teacher, Kobayashi. Despite the concerns of his classmate, Ai Mori, Ueki embarks on a journey to pursue his own sense of justice after witnessing the people around him misusing their powers for selfish purposes. But as he encounters talented power users such as Seiichirou Sano, Rinko Jerrard, Robert Haydn, and Hideyoshi Soya, he realizes that achieving his goal might be harder than it seems.
This anime starts pretty weak. When you first walk into The Law of Ueki, there’s not really anything to pull you in. It’s a shounen anime. Ok, sweet, shounen I can get in the mood for shounen. So what’s the main character able to do? Turn trash into trees. Awesome! wait what. He can turn trash into….. trees…
That’s pretty much what The Law of Ueki will hit you with. However, that’s what turns this anime into something so brilliant.
You’ve read the synopsis so let’s cut to the chase. The story in The Law of Ueki is definitely not its strongest point. As far as shounens go, The Law of Ueki is ahead of its competitors. Ueki strives towards his goals one step at a time, while meeting characters who ultimately he befriends. Stick in some backstory for the characters and you have the formula that The Law of Ueki pretty much adheres to.
As for the actual plot, I would give it a 8. It’s interesting, because even God has a backstory in this anime. Although the story does take a bit of a dive in the middle, and never really fully recovers. Other aspects of the anime (I.E. the battles, which is what Shounen is pretty much about) more than make up for it.
There’s not much to comment about. Everything is done as it should be. The Law of Ueki isn’t an anime that’s going to wow you with its visuals. Nor is it an anime
that you can’t bear to watch because your eyes are bleeding. The anime doesn’t cut any corners, and battles are animated to what they need to be. There’s no
slow-mo hi-def sword battles in this one. But that’s really not something The Law of Ueki should even be judged on.
The music is simply great. It’s basically your daily allotment of Jpop But of course, does it contribute to the anime? I would say yes. Some
of the fights and situations in the anime really get you pumped because of the added music, and that’s what I believe a 8/9 under music should do for you.
Clearly The Law of Ueki is no Yoko Kanno composition, but hey it gets the job done and it gets it done very well.
The strong point of the anime is right here. At first, Ueki seems kind of empty actually. However, over time Ueki begins to really become that
character you root for. Sometimes his “justice” oversteps the line and you simply facepalm or headdesk, but thats a rare occurance.
The characters are well developed, because their backstories are superb.Each character becomes unique and well defined while all contributing
to the overall enjoyment of the show. Even the character I hated the most (Saru) had his good moments. Although a part of me wanted a little more
“interaction” between Ueki and Mori, alas it was not to be.
What’s the best about the characters in The Law of Ueki, is that the anime also pays attention to the villains. Although they clearly aren’t given
as much attention as the main heroes, The Law of Ueki really nails it by giving them just the right amount of attention. It’s not a 1 minute “blah blah blah
this is why he hates Ueki/wants to win/hates person X/wants to destroy the world” nor is it an episode dedicated to a character who ends up writen off in the recap
time of the net episode.
Overall The Law of Ueki is a superb shounen. The creativity behind the battles makes it a very enjoyable watch just because you think
“Well how is he gonna get out of this one?” That question isn’t simply answered by “OH MY GOD HE HAS ASCENDED AND HE’S KICKIN ASS!” There’s actually thought behind each battle, and that’s what differentiates the average shounen from the great shounen.
Chihuahua Review(short&sweet): This is a good shounen(bunch of guys and action) to watch. There are alot of unique characters. Let me rephrase that there are a lot of UNIQUE powers here.
——————————>In Depth Review:<————————
STORY: This is not, I repeat NOT just some lame, generic kid show. The story here is a for spot to become God. Here angels become god-candidates who choose kids to give powers to and then let them battle. The main character Ueki who believes deeply in justice. This may still sound lame and generic but the story execution was great with fun interesting strategies in every battle. The only real problem is parts of the story didnt make sense. 200 abilities for one person and only 100losers so far(you’ll understand later).
ART: Animation was well and the battles really drawn exceptionally well adding to the fights intensity. However at times the main characters look really young and it was really hard to take them seriously during dramatic moments. It does becomes unnoticeable with the addictive story.
SOUND: The opening and endings were REALLY good in this one and the background music was passable. The voice acting was great here with the infamous Paku, Romi playing the main Ueki. Guess that’s why I thought of Full Metal Alchemist while I was watching this.
CHARACTER: The characters here were really well made and there were alot and after watching it, I doubt there will be a character that youll end up hating. So many powers(trash into trees, towels to steel, etc.) they’re so weird but u cant not like them.>_< The powers even get stronger.
ENJOIMENT: I couldn’t stop watching this when i started it was so addicting I always wanted to find out wat happend next. Everything blended so well! Very close to being a nine overall. Ending was nice and really hope there is a second season(heard rumors).
OVERALL: No matter how generic this anime sounds it is good and definately worth a watch. Even though everything about it is not that great, the execution was amazing.
Recommendation: If you like shounens with a dash of fantasy and magic watch this. If you like this then watch the Prince of Tennis or Full Metal Alchemist.^_^
If you dissagreed OR agreed fully with me on anything feel free to message me and discuss it. Always fun. @_@
The story is based on a knock out tournament (a popular tag which few even classify as a genre of its own) and a final prize for the winner. This concept has been overused like the chunin exam of naruto, or hunter exam of hxh, or a recent example mirai nikki. Yet the execution is entirely different and unique in its own way. The story goes on like this- there are 100 god candidates chosen, and each candidate chooses a student (a middle school student) and gives him a power, and then the students fight between themselves, and whoever wins his candidate becomes the god, and the student gains a null talent, ie any talent he wishes. Moreover if a candidates student attacks a normal citizen the student loses one of his talents, and if they loose all their talents they will vanish without a trace. That is basically the initial setting. It becomes more intense as the show goes on. The few interesting points are the powers of the candidates, like MC has ability to turn trash into trees, another guy can turn towel into iron (looks lame at first, but it is splendidly used).
Animation 7/10 Sound 8/10
Animation is weak, but considering it to be a 2005-2006 anime it is not some exception. It gets it job done. The characters designs are pretty good, though it had room for improvement. No kinds of scenery or stuff is present to comment upon, but animation shouldn’t become a barrier to watching this splendid shounen anime.
Sound was better than the animation. The opening song gave a peculiar vibe of some kind of depressing situation, but it was not much pronounced in the anime, probably due to its excess comedy. The osts were pretty good, and there doesn’t exist much to complain about.
Tournament battles are overused stuff. And the existence of a decent prize is not an exception. And obviously there exists some kind of powerful antagonist with his own perception of talents and stuff. On a broader view there isn’t anything pulling us into the story, but on close examination there exists plenty of elements. First, is the MC, Ueki. He is shown to have a strong sense of justice, and much of the story evolves around the justice factor. Second, is its excess comedy, which was initially used to propel the viewer into watching more ep, and in latter eps, just as a medium to keep the story strong. Comedy is one of its strongest points, (caution : don’t drink water while watching this, else water will be spilled.). Third, is MCs peculiar power trash into trees and the possibilities that arise from. Fourth, and the most important is INTELLIGENT BATTLES. This is its strongest points, it delivers incredible battles. Battles are planned, and luckily the MC can actually think on his own and uses many tricks to baffle his opponents. Once 15 or so eps, pass MC also levels up, in very very interesting ways, as such once past 10 eps, there will be little incentive left to give up this anime. The anime also delves into teacher student relationship, and values of morals.
But still, the story lacks many things. First, the initial pace is slow, it is ok with manga but in anime adaptation, they could have cut quite many chapters and may be they could finish the anime sweetly in 35-40 episodes. The chapters I am referring to are not too integral in the story development, and plays very partial role in character development. In fact, the first few episodes were boring, and focused only on MC, and as result few important characters got introduced as late as ep 20. The anime should have neatly deleted unimportant battles. Even in the latter half some battles seemed to be dragged on. And only final battle remained to be seen.
While characters are mostly typical of shounen animes, their roles are quite varied and unique. There doesn’t exist a character who is powerless at first sight but then after intensive training becomes op. The charcters develop, become better but only according to their capacities. Starting with MC he pretty much masters his powers, and his development his most pronounced. His leveling up is extraordinary, and he uses his new powers very intelligently and there are many spontaneous combos which he uses to defeat his enemies, and at times I was forced to say Brilliant! Other characters like Mori, rinko and Sano play integral role, and they too level up with unexpected variations. They receive ample development mainly because of solid back stories. The characters are carefully chosen by the author and he has intelligently played with them and the role that everyone plays is incredible. (If I were to elucidate it would be a spoiler).
Interestingly, even god is a character and surprisingly has a backstory. Tbh I was quite amazed at the description of the god, and more interestingly he is a prominent source of outright comedy
I srsly enjoyed this anime, mainly because of highly intelligent battles, and some of the battles might even rival that of hxh. I was also amazed at the non cliche powers, among all I liked the antagonists power the most (can’t spoil). The outright comedy was evident and there exists no episode which won’t make u laugh. Added to this was powering up of the characters which added spice to the anime. Lastly and the most important part, that it has a good and actual ending, and not some lame original ending.
Even then there exists many points to be criticized. First, irregular pacing, and dragged on battles. Second some cliche elements like nakama powerboost and some friendship stuff. Third, excess comedy, which at times turned into forced comedy. Fourth and the most important part is that it deals with MIDDLE SCHOOL kids. The anime had vast potentials, and with highschool students and a bit of seinen feel, packed with awesome action scenes and intelligent battles could have turned out better in many respects, because the idea of middle school kids fighting didn’t really appeal to me much. Fifth, teacher student relationship was quite pronounced but again seemed to be a bit of excessive.
On subjective reviewing it deserves 9/10, but on close inspection and objective reviewing I can’t render more than. 8/10. As such the anime should have lasted not more than 35 eps, with fast pacing and appropriate development. Had it acccomplished this feat, it might have become a showcase masterpiece and shared its stage with other good animes.
5: Tennis no Ouji-sama
English: The Prince of Tennis
MAL Score: 7.88
At the request of his father, tennis prodigy Ryouma Echizen has returned from America and is ready to take the Japanese tennis scene by storm. Aiming to become the best tennis player in the country, he enrolls in Seishun Academy—home to one of the best middle school tennis teams in Japan.
After Ryouma catches the captain’s eye, he finds himself playing for a spot on the starting lineup in the intra-school ranking matches despite only being a freshman. Due to his age, the rest of the Seishun Boys’ Tennis Team are initially reluctant to accept him, but his skill and determination convinces them to let him in.
Armed with their new “super rookie,” Seishun sets out to claim a spot in the National Tournament, hoping to take the coveted title for themselves. In order to do so, the team must qualify by playing through the Tokyo Prefectural and Kanto Regionals. Yet, the road ahead of them is shared by a plethora of strong schools, each playing tennis in unique ways for their own reasons. Ryouma and his teammates must learn to cooperate if they want to become the champions they aspire to be.
Normally, with sports anime, you see the rise of a certain young star from not being a very good player to being the ace of their sport. The Prince of Tennis pulled something out of the ordinary and made Echizen an amazing tennis player right from the start. Now you’re probably thinking, "Well, where’s the fun in that?" Well, Echizen is always going up against top-notch opponents and throughout the show, you’ll witness him going from a cocky, immature kid to one who actually respects his opponents (well, sort of anyway) and development of new, exciting skills. Echizen join the Seigaku high school tennis team and participates in tournaments with them. And of course, the overall theme is to aim for the top of the tennis world.
The art is pretty good. It starts off so-so, but before you know it, it gets to that level where you’re impressed by it. As for the animation, you’ll see a lot of repeated frames throughout the show (as usual with sports anime), but the way they animate all of the new skills and tennis matches is just so amazing, that after some of the matches, you just stare in awe at its magnificence.
The sound, I would say, is probably the weakest point of the show. Although the music presented in the Prince of Tennis does suit the mood and is pretty upbeat at times, there really isn’t a score that will stand out to you, where you’ll be saying, "Ah!! I need that on my computer/ipod." Nevertheless, its relatively enjoyable
Since the stories are pretty much the same throughout all sport anime (overall), in order for an anime to be amazing – especially the case with sport ones – characters and unique personalities need to be there. And Prince of Tennis does not disappoint in that category. This show unveils so many different memorable characters, that you’ll undoubtedly have trouble picking your all-time favorite one from the lot because they are so unique. And the best part about it is that the creators were able to somehow give each character a unique way of playing tennis. With the amount of characters and opponents they present, you’d think that they would have to repeat somewhere. But that’s definitely not the case.
With amazing tennis matches, a plethora of unique and lovable characters, and a cocky main protagonist that will get on your nerves at times but you’ll respect out of necessity because of his skills, the Prince of Tennis is an amazing sport anime. The best part of this anime is that you will have a hard time knowing who will win matches. Surprisingly enough, all the main characters experience losses matches at times, which makes it interesting to see how each one responds to the agony of defeat.
If you are looking for a sport-driven anime and are in for the long haul – meaning 170+ episodes, the Prince of Tennis is exactly what you’re looking for.
The story is very original, where the protagonist comes from America to Japan as a well-developed tennis player. His father has him enroll in Seigaku Tennis Club, where he plays opponents who can challenge his skill, while the team seeks to reach the National Tournament. Although the story sounds simple, there are many episodes that get more in depth by revealing more of the characters and the storyline, which I would rather not spoil.
Art – 9
The art in this anime is spectacular! However, it is a long series, so some frames are repeated throughout games, yet it is still well done to the point where it will not bother. There is a large cast of characters, and each of the players have there very own original moves, yet the art is detailed so well it is easy to distinguish between all characters. Even the comedic and chibi episodes were truly amazing and had detailed art.
Sound – 8
The sound in the anime was mediocre. The opening and ending themes sounded like karaoke songs, and they were not real catchy… However, some of them were really good, in my opinion. The sound effects throughout the anime were fine, however, so the music does not really take away from it overall.
Character – 10
This is one aspect of the anime that truly made it one of my favorites. There is a huge amount of characters in the anime, and all of them are original and well-designed of course. There will definitely be many characters you can connect to, as there are many types of personalities amongst them. The characters also develop throughout the anime, so a character you may not have liked may become your favorite. Amazing set of characters in this anime!
Enjoyment – 10
I most certainly enjoyed this anime, as anyone else who’s seen it has. The great plot, good art and characters play a great part in this animes success. Everything from the action packed episodes to the comedic chibi episodes were truly enjoyable!
This anime will not disappoint!
Once upon a time in Japan, a manga artist by the name of Takeshi Konomi came up with a manga by the name of Prince of Tennis, and it quickly became one of – if not the – most popular sports manga of all time, doing for tennis what Slam Dunk did for basketball, it caused a massive boost in popularity for the sport in its native country. To this day, it’s hard to really say that Japan ever got past Prince of Tennis fever, one look at the various pieces of Prince of Tennis merchandise like the musicals or even the live-action film, makes it instantly clear just how big of a thing this is for them.
Naturally, such a popular manga was bound to be subject to an anime adaptation, and so in October 2001, an anime version of the mega-hit was released by none other than…J.C Staff? Wait, seriously? Someone thought that that was a good idea? I mean, J.C Staff, a company that is well known for messing up and/or butchering adaptations of great works? (I’m looking at you Spiral) This is a company that for the most part, seems to have very little in terms of “great” budget, and suddenly they’re expected to animate 178 episodes of such a huge hit? All of a sudden, Prince of Tennis the anime sounds like it’s going to be a disaster.
You know what though? It’s not; in fact, Prince of Tennis is actually pretty good.
That’s not to say however, that this is the best sports anime out there – indeed, there are definitely flaws with PoT, mostly to do with the animation, which I’ll cover later on – and if you’ve had any animosity towards sports anime in the past then you can immediately forget about liking Prince of Tennis, as it most definitely won’t change your mind about them, it’s possible that it may make you dislike them even more actually; even sports anime fans that I’ve talked to have dismissed PoT out of hand calling it “ridiculous” “a joke” and “an insult to the actual sport itself”, and whilst I can certainly understand why people dislike certain ridiculous elements of the show, I find comments about it being a joke and an insult to be quite puzzling, because personally, I found that once PoT hit its stride, it was a huge barrel of fun and enjoyment.
The story is typical sports anime fare: Team wants to become the best. Team goes up against many strong opponents and becomes stronger after each match. Team wins some games, team loses some games. It’s a tried and trusted formula which, while not really turning any heads in terms of how things play out, provides decent enough motivation for the characters to at least keep you emotionally invested in them for a while.
What’s interesting about the story is that, whereas other sports shows would immediately opt for making the main protagonists team a group of underdogs, going up against impossible odds and coming out better for it, the tennis players of Seigaku are actually rather strong by comparison. We’re presented with players who are already known at the national level, a player that’s regarded by practically everyone as a tennis prodigy, and Jesus himself, Captain Tezuka. These are character archetypes that, in nearly every other sports show, would be reserved for the opposing teams, their sole purpose to make the protagonists team stronger and stronger after every single match, and we’re meant to watch them playing for the home team.
So how then does that make the matches interesting?
As mentioned before, Seigaku is constantly going up against stronger and stronger teams, with players that are just as equally strong as them (with the exception of Captain Jesus, who I’ll talk about later on), this means that even though there are main characters who are ridiculously powerful, the players are almost never really in a position in which they can just sit back and take the match easily, meaning that it successfully maintains a feeling of excitement and tension, despite the several curb-stomp matches that do occur throughout the series.
One major stand-out of the original PoT’s storyline, rather funnily, is the filler. Now obviously, in an anime this long filler is bound to be expected – this could range from anything to funny filler episodes to outright filler arcs – but what’s interesting to note is that, well…the filler is actually pretty damn good.
No seriously, I mean it, I wouldn’t joke about this even if you paid me.
After about 125 episodes, PoT goes off on its own route because the animators decided that they wanted to give the audience a different Prince of Tennis experience than that of the manga, and it actually pays off rather well, I’m sure the whole Junior Selection Camp thing served in some way as the basis for what would eventually form the plot of New Prince of Tennis; in reality I suppose these filler episodes are nothing more than a clever way for J.C Staff to fully exploit the huge cast of bishonens that exist in PoT, and create new pairings for its ever growing fanbase of yaoi fans (heck I’m a straight male and even I supported some of the pairings). Nonetheless, these filler episodes are at times more entertaining than the actual matches from the proper storyline, they’re a strong example of how to do filler, and more importantly, how to do filler well – the fact that I was able to marathon through the final 78 episodes in the space of about two weeks is a testament of how good I personally found the filler.
However, regardless of how good everything else is in Prince of Tennis, there is one factor that threatens to nearly derail the viewing experience almost completely. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Prince of Tennis’s utterly woeful animation.
Artistically speaking, the series fares well, Takeshi Konomi’s numerous bishonens translate well to the screen, enough so that that was the deciding factor in why the score isn’t less than 5, it’s when it actually comes to animating that Prince of Tennis utterly falls down.
You will see stock footage, a lot of it, I lost count of the amount of times I saw the same footage for Ryoma’s Twist Serve or Fuji’s Higuma Otoshi repeated again, and again, and again. Static images are abound in the anime. It’s not often that animation in an anime is so bad that it’s actually detrimental to the viewing experience, but in this case, it most definitely is. For whatever reason – perhaps due to J.C Staff’s lack of funds – simple shots are repeated in little boxes that suddenly appear on the screen, so you’re subjected to the same footage you saw not two seconds ago; randomly, a character will take a shot and the anime decides that for whatever reason, it’s going to show the same shot again in a spiral that suddenly bombards your screen. I could quite literally turn this review into a complete list of faults with the animation of the show. The animation is meant to be a medium that conveys the manga format effectively, and it seems as if somewhere along the line, J.C Staff forgot about that little detail, as such, we’re presented with matches that, in the manga, would only take about 3 to 5 chapters (I bothered to use the Seigaku VS Yamabuki match as a reference for this) and in the anime, take roughly the equivalent of about 4 episodes by comparison.
In short, it’s pretty much total butchery, and something that wouldn’t be fixed until the National Tournament OVA’s in which it was then animated by the far more capable hands of Production I.G.
Musically speaking, PoT fares significantly better, one of the many things that defines a sports anime – or long running anime in general – is the soundtrack; without a good soundtrack, quite a bit of the effect is lost whenever something dramatic happens, and what PoT lacks in the animation department is something that the sound department makes up for. Cher Watanabe composed an absolutely awesome soundtrack, the opening themes are, personally, among some of the best and really get you in the mood for Prince of Tennis, seriously, just try and listen to “Driving Myself” (by far the best of the opening themes) and not get pumped.
The rest of the soundtrack is also pretty good, I remember plenty of moments when the music was the best thing about the show, particularly when tracks like “Mission”, “Hangeki” and “Koutekishu” were playing, it’s hard to not at times feel a big goofy grin appear on your face when the soundtrack is at its best.
Voice acting is equally strong, there are plenty of arrogant characters in Prince of Tennis, not least Ryoma, Atobe and Kirihara, and the voice acting is able to pretty much hit all the right notes when it comes to performances, whether it be one of the arrogant characters or one of the softer characters, or perhaps one of the stoic characters – it’s hard to fault the voice acting, with the exception of the really annoying little kids that pretty much form Ryoma’s fan-club, their voices grate significantly and any attempt at humour with these characters falls flat down on its face.
Also, a word of advice, avoid the dub at all costs, they never did dub the entire show but what they did dub was pretty poor; it seems as if practically no one was taking the anime seriously enough to bother contributing something that can actually be considered a performance.
As you will no doubt know, sports anime and manga are usually not reliant on their story (even if, in this case, it’s actually pretty good), the sport is usually the lifeblood of its respective anime or manga, but it’s the characters that really make it stand out. If you were, for instance, to try and watch Eyeshield 21 without Hiruma, you would be stuck with an anime that, while having its moments, doesn’t have a strong enough cast for you to keep yourself interested in it. Thankfully, PoT’s characters are strong enough to keep your interest, you will definitely find at least one character among this cast that you can actually bring yourself to like. Like yourself a cocky, confident main protagonist who knows what he’s doing? Then you’ll probably quickly find yourself fawning all over Ryoma. Do you like relaxed, composed characters with strong poker faces? Fuji’s the one for you. Do you fancy unbelievably arrogant, king-like characters? Look no further than King Atobe himself.
Of course, those are just the base character traits, over time, the characters (especially Ryoma) develop into more than that, becoming much more likeable, more sympathetic and much more worthy of you rooting for them. Gags that originally weren’t funny, such as Inui’s special juices or Kawamura’s Engrish, gradually become chuckle-worthy, heck even downright funny, and that’s because of the way the characters develop.
Unfortunately, the characters aren’t quite perfect, and that’s due to the fault of one character: Captain Jesus – I mean, Captain Tezuka.
Tezuka is, hands down, the worst character in the show, so naturally, he’s one of the most overpowered too. He’s bland, dull, has practically no emotions whatsoever, and is just completely uninteresting as a character and as the team captain; Kabaji had more character development than Tezuka, and the only thing he said was “Yes”! Of course, this also makes him practically unbeatable, with only really the best of the best standing a decent chance against him. The only thing that Tezuka is good for is providing Ryoma with at least some motivation to start getting better, and even that’s only a small catalyst.
Despite its faults – and woeful animation, which it should be noted, does actually start to improve in the last 8 episodes – I thoroughly enjoyed Prince of Tennis, it was a fun ride with some excellent filler, a strong cast of likeable characters and a great soundtrack. It most definitely won’t change your mind about sports anime if you didn’t like them to begin with, especially when it starts bringing in elements that take it from almost believable to downright Super Saiyan, and I wouldn’t really recommend it if you’re just starting to get into sports anime either, perhaps after you’ve seen something much more realistic like say, Hajime no Ippo and fancy something that isn’t as bothered by the laws of physics. Still, it’s a great ride once it gets going and well worth the time you put into it, especially as you’re rewarded by Production I.G’s glorious animation in the Nationals.
4: Eyeshield 21
MAL Score: 7.93
Sena is like any other shy kid starting high school; he’s just trying to survive. Constantly bullied, he’s accustomed to running away.
Surviving high school is about to become a lot more difficult after Hiruma, captain of the school’s American football team, witnesses Sena’s incredible agility and speed during an escape from some bullies. Hiruma schemes to make Sena the running back of his school team, The Devil Bats, hoping that it will turn around the squad’s fortunes from being the laughingstock of Japan’s high school leagues, to title contender.
To protect his precious star player from rivaling recruiters, he enlists Sena as “team secretary,” giving him a visored helmet and the nickname “Eyeshield 21” to hide his identity.
The Devilbats will look to make their way to the Christmas Bowl, an annual tournament attended by the best football teams in Japan, with “Eyeshield 21” leading the way. Will they be able to win the Christmas Bowl? Will Sena be able to transform from a timid, undersized freshman to an all-star player? Put on your pads and helmet to find out!
Eyeshield 21 is definite shonen sports anime. Heck, its even sponsored by the Japanese NFL and received backing in the United States as a football series on a sports channel. And now,…don’t get turned off. Because if you do, you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining series people disregard just because of its non-traditional anime content.
Please, please, don’t dump this series just because its football. I cannot but regret that I did put off watching this and suffered my way through crap series like Blade of the Immortal. My 2 cents on why you should watch (if you don’t want to slog your way through the rest of this):
• Typical plot (yet this works perfectly fine for this series), interspersed with drama, comedy, and laugh your head off antics of its marvelous characters.
• Marvelous characters (I said it but I will say it again), You will love the characters of Eyeshield, because even Sena isn’t as annoying as it seems. And…Hiruma will send you to hell if you don’t watch this.
Now that you’re here:
Characters: To put it simply, there is nothing bland about Eyeshield’s cast. From Sena’s traditional shonen perserverance, to Hiruma’s demonic avarice (and he will become your favorite as well), Eyeshield 21 does a masterful job of designing to characters to both appeal to viewers and to transition their interactions with each other smoothly. The rivalry between Sena and Shin is also nonclichedly carried out, and all the supporting characters get their own backstory as well. To tell the truth, I don’t even think that the supporting characters were even ‘technically 2nd tier’. You cannot but feel for the other characters such as the quarterback of the Zokugaku Chameleons whose delinquent team cannot hold themselves together. And so yes, the characters of Eyeshield are not just comedic, but serious, dramatic, and all the time flawed in some way or another. There’s not fun in watching perfect characters now is there?
Plot: Well, its straightforward enough: team has a dream, team wants to go to Christmas Bowl, team must defeat rival teams, team must work together, team must train, then team must win. But this is all you need to watch Eyeshield. It’s 145 episodes does more than enough to advance the adrenaline pumping scenes of the matches. Between moments of drama and football action is raucous comedy which borderlines on the absurd (cough Hiruma gun toting blackmailer), yet makes it more funny all the same. Now come to think of it, you don’t watch a sports series too much for the plot as more for the character development and anime action.
Sound and Graphics: Nothing too shabby here. The BGMs were great, the Ops and EDs were equally great. Eyeshield does a decent job of fitting its sound to its action scenes. The animation is more than adequate for the heart pumping football action scenes. Of course its NOT realistic. Who would want to watch realistic football for 145 episodes? Nah, this is where you see special moves like those in DBZ like Sena’s Devil Bat Ghost, Kid’s Rapid Fire Throw. (No fantastical equipment, mind but enough specialty to make you want to continue watching.) That said, animation is definitely decent for this series.
Entertainment/Replay Value : This is something I wouldn’t mind watching more than once. The one bone I have to pick with the series is its sometimes slightly traditional fillers, which it has to have in its 145 episodes. But even with that, Eyeshield 21 is hilarious, action packed, and a touchdown for us viewers.
Poptart’s Rating: 8/10
Enters Eyeshield 21 that features a with unorthodox players such as shorty, porky and a Demon. The plot is very simple, about an errand boy who became a superstar in a game played by monsters and his team, the Devil Bats journey to National Championships, the Christmas Bowl. It highlights the rivalry of the main character, light speed runningback Kobayakawa Sena known as Eyeshield 21 and Linebacker Shin Seijurou who is considered as the perfect player. Like other shounen stories, the protagonist grows strong stronger as he faced stronger opponents until the final decesive battle against his rival.
What everyone loved in this anime is its character development and as a sports themed anime, ES21 expressed the importance of teamwork better.
ES21 can be a manual itself and gradually showed the rules of the American football. This sports unlike any other team sports is a game of specialties and choosing a position is very vital to he outcome of the team. In the Devil bats case, the team is composed usually of inexperienced guys (and some are weaklings) relying only on their lifestyle, natural talents, hard work and rushed training. Here are their ligitimate line-up:
QB- H. Youichi – the devilish trickster and master of psychological warfares.
RB/TB- K. Sena- former errand boy with lightspeed legs
RB/FB- Ishimaru – helper from the track & field club
WR- R. Tarou – dedicated follower of a Baseball catching superstar
WR- Yukimitsu- his life was spent on academics
C- K. Ryoukan- a guy who knows nothing but power
G- Y. Daikichi – a loyal apprentice of Kurita
G- Ha -thugs
T- Ha -same-
T- Brothers -same-
Considering these data, thechances of playing forthe national championship was estimated 0.1% but saccording to their Leader, Hiruma-sama, as long as its not completely zero, winning is still inevitable.
Compared with other sports anime, I’d say Eyeshield 21 is the smartest of them all. This anime proves that winning isn’t only a matter of skills, athleticism, work ethic and determination, it takes some deep tactics, calculations and brainstorming to outwit the opposing team and to stand on the battlefield.
After watching this anime, surely you’ll never doubt that David really toppled Goliath. Ya-ha!
Plot: Well, the story follows student Kobayakawa Sena, who just got accepted to Deimon High School, Sena is pretty much a whimpy kid who gets bullied around by others, while running away from some bullies, a Senior Student, Hiruma Youichi, the captain of the Football club notices that Sena is really fast, and wants him to join, and after a rather strange series of events, he ends up joining the Football Team( or Amefuto, as they call it, yeah, idk).
So basically, there’s a team, team has a dream, going to the Christmal Bowl (Highschool Football Tournament in Japan), but they have to do it that year, since Hiruma and his fellow student Kurita Ryoukan are graduating that year, they must train, and beat the other rival teams, from which the most recurring ones are the Oujou White Knights and the Shinryuuji Naga.
It’s 145 episodes for the anime (and 333 for the manga) and even though it sounds long, it’s very entertaining and worth the time, the matches between teams are great and really entertaining. Besides the football matches, there’s also a lot of comedy in this series, most which is absurd, which makes it even better, although most of the time, it is delivered by Hiruma, which makes it even better!
Characters: To put it simply, there is no boring character in Eyeshield 21, not even Yukimitsu is boring. The authors of Eyeshield 21 did an outstanding job in making all of the characters, they are all equally entertaining and amazing, Sena’s rivalry with Shin isn’t anything cliche or whatever, instead it’s done really well and you wanna see Sena beat Shin in a match. All the other characters also get their own stories, from Jumonji and Taki to Agon and Panther, they are all done so well, that it feels like there are no supporting characters, they all feel like main characters, and that also makes it very exciting, not even the matches focus on the main characters, all the supporting characters have their own rivals they have to beat, and it makes it even more exciting than it already is, sure, some characters are flawed in a way, they can’t all be perfect, can they?
Sound/Animation: Well, the music was great, all 5 OPs are great, and it’s Eyeshield 21 that has the BEST ending theme ever (Blaze Away). Some of the BGM was great too, like Be Survivor, and the animation, well, it’s really good, the OPs are done great, and the scenes with special moves like Sena’s Devil Bat Ghost or Shin’s Trident Tackle, they are all done very well, and all I have to say, is that it looks great.
Teams: Well, obviously there’s the Deimon Devil Bats, but there’s also the rival teams like the Oujou White Knights, the Kyoshin Poseidon, the Bando Spiders and the Hakushu Dinosaurs, each one of these teams have their own characters and special plays, and I liked all of them, all of the teams are equally amazing, and of course the matches are really entertaining, but I did feel kinda let down that the Teikoku Alexanders aren’t in the anime, specially since the match between them and Deimon is definetly the best in the series.
Replay Value: This anime is really worth watching again, I wouldn’t mind it, really, it’s a shame that most people pass on it because it’s a Sports Anime, like I did, but I’m sure people would like it if they watch it, now, I’ve really come to love this series, but I have to say that it’s better to read the manga because the anime just stops after the final rematch with Oujou, and it didn’t show the matches agains Hakushu, Teikoku and the World Cup, which I would’ve loved to see, but anyway, it’s a great anime and it’s really underrated, so go watch it, or Hiruma will take you to hell, YA-HA!
3: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s
English: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s
Japanese: 魔法少女リリカルなのは エース
MAL Score: 7.98
After solving the incident of the scattered Jewel Seeds, Nanoha Takamachi happily returns to her everyday life, though now with added magic practice in the morning. Exchanging video messages with Fate Testarossa and the crew of the Arthra, Nanoha eagerly awaits the chance to speak with them in person again. But while studying in her room one day, Raising Heart suddenly calls out to Nanoha and warns her of an incoming attack!
The attacker is a young girl named Vita, who calls herself a Belka Knight. She proves her strength by using an intelligent device with a mysterious cartridge system to quickly overwhelm Nanoha. Luckily, the Space-Time Administration Bureau is able to step in before she is completely crushed. Vita and her fellow knights Shamal, Signum, and Zafila are on a mission to steal magical power from mages in order to complete the Book of Darkness, one of the Lost Logia. For what sinister purpose are the knights after this Book of Darkness?
The story in the original was really good, A’s takes it all to a different level and there is almost no comparison. The action picks up from basically the first minute of the show and doesn’t let up. No fillers, no trips to the hot springs, I think this might be the first time I have watched a series and could say that. The plot though is outstanding. A wonderful world of magic is further expanded is a story that puts you through all the emotions and has a number of shocking surprises that you won’t see coming. It’s so delightful to watch such a mature and complex storyline in a genre that is usually silly and plots written more to appeal to youngsters and pervs. There is also a very nice mix of drama and action. The action is more intense than the first season by a lot. Almost every episode it’s full of explosive magical combat but it does a wonderful job of giving great drama and comedic moments.
Nanoha and Fate return to be the same wonderful characters I loved so much from the first series. They get new powers and spells and it’s wonderful to see them in action again. There role with the Space-Time Administration Bureau expands more and we get to know better Lindy, Amy, and Chrono better as well as some new characters within the agency. It was disappointing though that several characters from the original series were left out a bit as we see very little of Yuuno, Arf, Arisa, and Suzuka. There is however a plethora of new characters and my opinion of them is mixed. They are interesting, have complex motivations for why they do what they do. A lot of them made me mad, wanting to throw my remote through the TV screen and scream “I won’t forgive you!”. But I guess that is the sign of a well made character huh? The main problem is that now there are so many new characters that the cast just becomes so large that it’s impossible to really get to know any of them that well.
Visually, A’s is stunning. The characters are beautifully drawn and animated. They have some great costumes and weapons (especially the new knights). Were it really is spectacular is the action scenes. The fights are exciting, explosive, and on a much grander scale than anything from the first series. It was also a nice surprise at the end of the series to see Nanoha and her friends grown up. I was pleasantly surprised that the transformation scenes were toned down and reduced a lot. This was a complaint of my from the first season, not that they existed, but that we had to watch them in full every time Nanoha transformed.
The music is where this show really fails. While a lot of the background music is the same, I was not a big fan of the EN theme in particular and the OP was not really that much better. I found myself several times just fast forwarding through them which is something I almost never do. The voice acting is still great, but my overall disappointment with the music drives my score down.
In the end this show is really outstanding, my dissatisfaction with the musical score and some of the characters prevents me from giving it a ’10’ though. This show transcends the magic girl genre and I don’t think should be thought of as such. So if you are resisting watching this series because you don’t like magic girls, don’t! You will not regret it!
The story continues from where the first season departed. However, old friends must reunite to defeat the newly arrived opposing forces. These new enemies come about to wreak havoc to save their mistress from an impending doom. A new mystery must be unveiled to uncover hidden truths. The prototypes of antiquated weaponry will need upgrades to defend and attack against foes. A touching and shocking conclusion lies near the end which will greatly move your heart.
The animation is definitely a tremendous plus: the visual effects are utterly sensually appealing. The contrasts from lighting and colors are exceptionally amazing. Seven Arcs really respect their art styles and have succeeded in this regard. The battles, the transformation scenes, the adorable scenes of one character that I truly revere, all still leave an afterimage in my enigmatic thought processes. MSLN A’s demonstrates only top-notch animation. The animation has been fine tuned enough and has the ability to withstand many viewers’ tastes to ensnare their visual senses.
Furthermore, the sound is also another banging feature. “Eternal Blaze” by the infamous and alluring Mizuki Nana activates the ability of echoic memory or of experiencing an overdose of the appealing music into your head. Whenever the situation became unpleasant, the BGM tended to fit that mood. A select few may even be cherished by the raving fans that found specific scenes to be special. Overall, the sound complemented the thrilling and epic battles. The music strengthened the attributes of the show’s addictiveness.
Of paramount interest, the utilization and how they were portrayed of the seductive characters has been the aspect that has deeply impacted me the most. A majority of the viewers that have finished have taken a liking to Fate or Nanoha or Hayate or Signum or all or whoever; the style, animation, and flair the characters has to display has been the most remarkable feature A’s has to offer. Each one has a context that they serve and fulfill. However, I will put this bluntly that Fate alone has made me consider that this title has been framed, fueled, and augmented by her, without a doubt. I do find her to be truly mind-boggling, lovable, the perfect “all-in-one,” the list goes on and on type of character. Nonetheless, the characters are a huge positive perspective when it comes to enjoying this watch.
Conclusively, with all these magnificent elements being incorporated in this title, or rather sequel, it creates a magnetic pull to actually view this landmark in history. Whether you’ve read the unique synopsis and/or the more or less influential reviews, this title simply cannot be overlooked. If you’ve dropped or constituted a hiatus on the first season and somehow managed to endure to the end of this review, it’s highly recommended that you pick this up again as it won’t disappoint. This title possesses a plethora to offer since it’s extremely appealing and evokes many sentimental feelings when heeded. Ultimately, I hope this review has been an interesting read and for you to savor and appreciate the show like I did.
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s certainly strayed away from the usual, formulaic mahou shoujo stereotype. No more collecting Jewel Seeds for Nanoha and Fate. This time they face bigger, more powerful enemies that get in their way.
The new plot really made me excited, mostly because I’ve been waiting for Fate and Nanoha to become closer friends as well as become team mates. The new characters were also very intriguing and interesting, especially the Velka-type Knights. I like how Nanoha and Fate have to go against them, because they’re not as evil or twisted as Precia Testarossa from last season, but their objective is much more threatening.
Speaking of the Velka-type Knights, they are Signum, Shamal, Vita and Zafira. They all have different personalities and abilities that mix well together, that’s why I consider them formidable opponents for Nanoha and Fate. To make things more interesting, their master, Hayate Yagami, is absolutely adorable. Out of all the new characters, I like Hayate and Signum the best.
Since there new additions to the cast, there are also new voice actors. I like Vita’s voice actor the best, who is Asami Sanada. Her voice screams tsundere. It really reminds me of Rie Kugimiya’s work in Shakugan no Shana. Also, just as I like Raging Heart and Bardiche’s voice actors, I also like Levantine and Graf Eisen’s voice actor. I thought for sure he was German – he was really convincing.
I think animation has also improved, because the drawings are more consistent compared to the first season. I also love the character design, the new characters and their battle outfits are really flashy and modern. The transformation scenes are less ecchi but more eye catching too.
There might have been a switch regarding the opening and ending themes for this season. Nana Mizuki still sang the opening song, “Eternal Blaze”, and I love it because of its faster beat. I definitely like it more than the OP of the first season. Also, this time around, Yukari Tamura sang the mellow song, which is the ending theme “Spiritual Garden”. It’s cute, but I like the ED of the first season better.
Since the second season was so much better than the first season, I could only hope that the third season is even better and possibly the best out of the three and it does look that way.
2: Samurai Champloo
English: Samurai Champloo
MAL Score: 8.50
Fuu Kasumi is a young and clumsy waitress who spends her days peacefully working in a small teahouse. That is, until she accidentally spills a drink all over one of her customers! With a group of samurai now incessantly harassing her, Fuu desperately calls upon another samurai in the shop, Mugen, who quickly defeats them with his wild fighting technique, utilizing movements reminiscent to that of breakdancing. Unfortunately, Mugen decides to pick a fight with the unwilling ronin Jin, who wields a more precise and traditional style of swordfighting, and the latter proves to be a formidable opponent. The only problem is, they end up destroying the entire shop as well as accidentally killing the local magistrate’s son.
For their crime, the two samurai are captured and set to be executed. However, they are rescued by Fuu, who hires the duo as her bodyguards. Though she no longer has a place to return to, the former waitress wishes to find a certain samurai who smells of sunflowers and enlists the help of the now exonerated pair to do so. Despite initially disapproving of this idea, the two eventually agree to assist the girl in her quest; thus, the trio embark upon an adventure to find this mysterious warrior—that is, if Fuu can keep Mugen and Jin from killing each other.
Set in an alternate Edo Period of Japan, Samurai Champloo follows the journey of these three eccentric individuals in an epic quest full of action, comedy, and dynamic sword fighting, all set to the beat of a unique hip-hop infused soundtrack.
Of course, Cowboy Bebop was not Shinichiro Watanabe’s first foray into resonant crossover in anime: Macross Plus was a monolithic amalgamation of Top Gun’s hot-headed romantic drama and sci-fi tropes including a pop-idol hologram version of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL, in turn influencing the famous cyberpunk writer William Gibson to write Idoru, a novel about a Japanese virtual idol and her marriage to a real-life rock star. Of course, all of this was before the invention of the Vocaloid, though I suppose the future imagined by Watanabe and Gibson was, in a way, not so far off.
Anyhow, now that I’ve finished my little history lesson — which I feel is relevant, as having such a perspective may deepen your enjoyment of Samurai Champloo as much as it did for me — let’s continue on to the review. In light of all the prescient futurism found in Watanabe’s other works, it’s rather interesting that he decided to shift his focus to the past and present. Of course, the world’s future is always in its past… and what we have here is, in a nutshell, Edo-period Japan: the remix. Baseball, tagging/graffiti, Van Gogh, zombies, and Catholicism are tossed into the “chanpurū” with a whole lot of revised Japanese pseudo-history. As such the medley of influences and tangential tale-spinning occasionally smacks of filler, but one would do well to understand that this show is simply all /about/ the filler — and this is all for the better, because Samurai Champloo is at its freshest and most hilarious when it’s veering off the rails. It even has the single most entertaining recap episode I’ve ever seen. Even with all this episodic improv, Fuu’s journey in search of a “samurai who smells like sunflowers” provides a compelling core to the story, much like a steady hip-hop beat giving structure to the mix of samples and freestyle verses. Her ronin traveling companions Mugen and Jin mingle like oil and water, and there we have the perfect cast for hilarity and drama.
Samurai Champloo is one good-looking show, with its thick linework giving an impression of manga blended with graffiti style. One episode even takes a quick trip into the psychedelic, with a sudden burst of colorful hallucination, Mind Game style — courtesy of episode key animator Masaaki Yuasa, of course. A wide variety of such notable animators were brought on board and thus the style occasionally varies slightly from episode to episode or even scene to scene, but it’s always pleasing and completely in tune with the show’s theme. Rural Japan has never looked so urban; almost any given scene in Samurai Champloo would be right at home spray-painted on the side of a city building or underpass.
The music, likewise, blends hip-hop, rhythm & blues, and traditional Japanese shamisen. Music often plays second fiddle to the look and quality of the animation when it comes to my enjoyment of anime, but in some cases it becomes just as important. This is one such anime, where the music contributes so greatly to the feel of it that it defines it and sets it apart from other anime — much like the soundtrack by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts did for Cowboy Bebop. It’s also worth mentioning that rap and beatboxing sometimes enter the dialogue, and it’s always amusing. Admittedly, most younger people these days are far more familiar with hip-hop than they are with the jazz, blues, and big band genres; nonetheless, in the realm of anime this feels a bit groundbreaking, especially with the theme songs featuring Japanese rap lyrics. The world is getting bigger and smaller every day.
Samurai Champloo is a show for everyone. Plenty of great sword-slashing action, clever comedy, and a good share of moments that will tug at your heartstrings — often all at once. If you enjoy anime, this is one you can’t miss.
I recently re-watched the show and felt compelled to write a retrospective/review of the series. While watching Jin, Mugen and Fuu traipse around 19th century Japan getting into ridiculous adventures, I realised Shinichirô Watanabe’s follow up to Cowboy Bebop is one of the most subversive animes ever made. Taking a staple genre, dressing it up in anachronism, but continually tackling subjects often avoided by the medium.
It takes 25 episodes until a character literally says “I was born in the wrong era.” Champloo is basically saying Japan’s lofty samurai era was actually a shit place to live for common people like us actually thank you very much.
It’s a divisive show that tested the patience of many viewers, drove others away entirely after a few episodes, and frustrated people who were too used to watching a plot move characters forward for 26 episodes. Champloo doesn’t even have characters who move the plot forward. The hook of how the three disparate characters end up travelling together through Edo period Japan is just that, it’s a hook to draw you in.
Samurai Champloo is about, and also not about, three characters hunting a samurai who smells of sunflowers. There’s an episode late into the series which features two street gangs having a graffiti battle across town, and though somewhat amusing also served no benefit towards the journey of the three characters. So if you hop into any forum thread you’ll see a multitude of complaints about it. However, the point of the episode is the same as the theme running throughout the entire show: people from a bygone era rebelling against authority and social norms in a way 21st century people do: through counter-culture.
I’ve gained a new appreciation for this show. It’s been so so long since I saw it, but rewatching it I realise how the story is about how incompatible Tokugawa era Japan is with our way of life; all the things we take for granted were rare luxuries back then. This is an obvious fact for anyone with a remote understanding of Japanese history, but still, the show rams it home with stark contrasts. Each episode highlights a 21st century aspect of our lives, a form of freedom (creative, sexual, geographical, etc) that characters in the 19th century yearned for despite the odds.
It’s set in an era ruled by rigid order, social rules and hierarchies. Stifling to the point of causing grief among the downtrodden populace. Yet a populace we should not treat as foreign aliens. The show asks us to empathise with them; they were just like us. Some of them had our modern spirit and ultimately struggled to exist in such a society as a result. Our heroes are a ronin, vagabond, and an orphan. Fighting against their era’s rules with a modern spirit.
One of the things I love about this show is how the three characters hate each other for the majority of the 26 episodes, but their hatred gives away inch by inch. They initially try to break apart, to run away from each other, but situations conspire to brig them back together, until a turning point where they actively make a choice to stick together, grudgingly recognising that they are of the same fiery rebellious soul. This is infinitely more satisfying than characters who automatically stick together from the outset. Another theme of Champloo is that travelling a journey with strangers can bring you together like family.
Champloo is more known for its scenes that are juxtaposed with modern quirks such as people beatboxing to humorous and surreal effect, and scene transitions that look like a DJ playing with their deck.
Episode topics try to cover every area that is barely explored by other samurai-era anime that are more concerned with traditional ‘fight evil’ plots (or even movies for that matter) from the prevalence of the yakuza co-existing with samurai, the tragedy of women forced into prostitution to pay off their husbands’ debts, human trafficking in the art world, existence of homosexuality, persecution of Christians and Ainu, and graffiti gangs with too much time on their hands. There’s even a hilarious baseball game with members of an American expedition that predates Commodore Perry’s by a few years.
Champloo features one of the best soundtracks ever, brought to you by Nujabes, whose life was tragically cut short in 2010. Instrumental hip hop might bring to your mind a certain perception of what to expect, but the soundtrack is a mixture of traditional beats with Japanese influence, floating ephemeral sounds constantly conjure a feeling of melancholy, or ‘mono no aware’, the fleeting transience of things.
The appeal of the show is ‘style over substance’, however that is a great discredit to what Champloo accomplishes. All the modern quirks in historical context are not just there to make the show stand out visually. The show is about entertaining this idea, this hope, that even back in Edo era Japan there were open-minded people fighting for creativity, individuality and basic human rights. Sure, most of them didn’t last long, but they didn’t die without a fight. Banzai!
The story of Champloo is an original work from Shinichiro Watanabe. The story centers on Fuu’s search for a samurai who smells of sunflowers. As the wanders continue on their travel they encounter many problems, mostly dealing with how to make money for their various expenses some times causing trouble for the three. In the travels many humorous things occur like Mugen entering a beetle type cock fight, Jin and Mugen’s adventure in to the red-light district, or the three entering an eating contest. As the three get closer to the samurai who smells of sunflowers, things begin to unravel leading the three to the most trouble they have ever seen.
Champloo has crisp clean stylistic animation. Characters are draw clean and clear with many details. The landscapes of Champloo are filled with beautiful shots of Japan’s country side. There are even a few scenes were the animation becomes only black and white and seem as they where draw straight from sketches to add to the scene. There is also one part were the colors and animation becomes so lively that it gives the impression of a whacked out hallucination.
The score of Champloo is what sets its self apart from any other anime in its genre. The background music is filled with urban hip-hop to give it a loose free flowing fill to it. A big portion of Champloo is focused on its original sound and it shows. For action scenes we get a fast flowing sound that gives the sword fights a more stylistic feel to them. For the more dramatic scenes we get deeper sounding background music. There are even moments during some flash back scenes were the music that we get to hear a rich Japanese sound to give a deeper feeling to it.
Samurai Champloo focuses around 3 core characters. Mugen is a straight loud mouth anti-hero. Mugen is the wild one of the group, always flying by the seat of his pants. Mugen also seems to have a problem with authority. Mugen is the first to draw and the last to leave a fight. Jin is a noble ronin in the search of a purpose. Jin although quite and wise, he too has some distaste with authority like Mugen, although with different reason mainly because he sees the one’s in charge as waste. Fuu is a young girl in the search of a samurai who smells of sunflowers, she keeps these reasons to herself for some reason. Fuu is clumsy and some times naive. Fuu is constantly being kidnapped even though she has two strong bodyguards. And for some reason she keeps a flying squirrel with her to help out sometimes.
Any one who is a fan of samurai action will surely like Champloo. Filled with enough action to keep those hard core action fans at bay, Champloo sprinkles some comedy and drama on top. If you are someone who doesn’t like the hip-hop aspect of Champloo, then at least give it a try, you may be surprised.
1: Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
English: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
Japanese: 攻殻機動隊 S.A.C. 2nd GIG
MAL Score: 8.53
Following the closure of the “Laughing Man” case, Section 9 is re-established by Japan’s newly elected Prime Minister, Youko Kayabuki, to combat the persistent threat of cyber-terrorism.
A group calling themselves “The Individual Eleven” has begun committing acts of terror across Japan. While Motoko Kusanagi, Daisuke Aramaki, Batou, and the other members of Section 9 investigate this new menace, the Japanese government faces a separate crisis, as foreign refugees displaced by the Third World War seek asylum in Japan. But as the members of the special-ops team continually encounter Gouda Kazundo—a leading member of the Cabinet Intelligence Service—in their hunt, they begin to suspect that he may be involved, and that the events of the refugee crisis and The Individual Eleven may be more connected than they realize…
One of the keys to creating a successful story is innovation, in particular, creating something that is both interesting and relevant, but approached from a different perspective. Of all the genres of the storytelling medium, science fiction is the only one that holds up a mirror to a possible future be it good or bad. It’s for this reason that the genre is often lauded and derided, sometimes by the same person, as science fiction is predictory by nature, in other words, it posits how humans would behave in certain circumstances.
During the last twenty years there have been numerous sci-fi tales in one form or another, many of which came about because of the end of the millenium. Some of them were simply terrible, whilst some were only average. Of the good ones, only a few had a lasting influence on the stories that came after. One of those is Ghost in the Shell.
Following the phenomenal success of the original movie and the TV series Stand Alone Complex, director and chief writer Kamiyama Kenji, together with the staff of Production I.G., formulated the direction in which the story would progress. What they needed, according to Kamiyama, was a completely different direction to the first series, with new goals, a new focus, and a chance to explore the world of GitS. After discussions with Oshii Mamoru it was decided that, in light of the events of 9/11, the issue of war could no longer be avoided.
This decision ultimately paved the way for a sequel that is not only superior to the original, but one that is also far more relevant to modern society.
Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig is set several months after the end of Stand Alone Complex. At this point in time Section 9 is training, however the changes to the Special Forces bill mean that they are still not a legal force, and their status is akin to that of a terrorist organistion. The chief, Aramaki Daisuke, is attempting to resolve this but, like any modern society, the paperwork needs to be in order (gotta love bureaucracy).
During this time, a new Prime Minister hascome to power, and she has promised to fix the problems caused by crippling taxes and the waves of Asian refugees who are coming to Japan because of the Fourth World War (or, the Second Vietnamese War).
One of the areas where 2nd Gig deviates from SAC is that the story is based far more on world events and history than before. SAC is essentially the platform from upon which this series stands, and it’s advisable to watch that series first before watching this one as the viewer is then familiar with the characters and the work of Section 9. Unlike SAC, the focus in 2nd Gig isn’t on the work of Section 9, but rather on the society itself. I mentioned in my review of the first series that the phenomenon of Cyber Brain Sclerosis was also a metaphor for the gradual deterioration of society, and while SAC alluded to this, here it is made all too clear.
2nd Gig is nothing if not brutal in a certain sense. The series has a more defined sense of plausibility than anything before, and also a sense of inevitability. The power plays, politics, machinations, plots and plans are as complex and devious as they were in SAC, however here they have more of an edge to them because of the parallels with real world events. There is a lot of action in 2nd Gig, however like SAC, the action is not the important part of the show. The focus is on political and social movement, so when the action happens it’s usually the result of a series of circumstances or plans. Here, taking action is an effect for the most part, not a cause, and this is one of the key plot elements in the story as the “reactionary” mentality of society is tested by the Individual 11.
As with SAC, and any other GitS project for that matter, the pacing and flow of the story is excellent. Each aspect of the plot is very clearly covered, used and acted upon. Each element of the story is involved and well thought out, especially in relation to other elements. In this respect the series shares a few things with SAC’s Laughing Man Arc, however this aspect is carried here for 26 episodes with almost no let up.
One interesting point to note is that the history given in 2nd Gig is the same as that given in the Appleseed Databook. This suggests that both stories take place at different times in Earth’s history and, when one considers the technology used and applied in Appleseed, it gives the entire GitS story a slightly different perspective.
In terms of visuals, 2nd Gig is nothing short of excellent. The animation is ever so subtly better than SAC, especially the blending of 2d and 3d, with movements and actions flowing as freely as they did before, but without any of the clashes that occured from time to time. The colour scheme is extremely well suited, and reflects the grim reality of the story, while the level of detail in the back and foregounds pushes the bar even higher than it was before. The visual effects are also excellent, and way above those used in other sci-fi series.
In addition to this, the art direction is superb throughout the series, especially in the smaller moments before action is taken. In one episode the team from Section 9 is seen gearing up to respond to a hostage taking. The animation and detail in this one sequence in particular, highlights the level of detail and quality, as well as the sense of realism that Kamiyama was aiming for.
Sound is, once again, way above par. The effects are extremely well used and, whilst some people may be a little overwhelmed by some of the explosions, most will find them quite satisfying. One thing I do like about the effects in both series is that of the bullets fired from different guns, as they do sound different to the naked ear (because they are).
As I’ve already talked about the voice acting in my review of SAC, I’ll skip that part as the acting in 2nd Gig is at least equal to the first series, and the main roles are essentially the same. I will, however, mention Koyama Rikiya (who plays Hideo Kuze), as he gives the character a kind of reserved charm that is very much in keeping with the story.
The music is, once again, composed by the one and only Kanno Yoko, and her style and flair is such that the series just wouldn’t be the same without her compositions. The OP, “Rise” (sung by Origa once again), has actually split opinion as to which of the two is the better song – “Rise” or “Inner Universe” (personally I love them both). The ED, “Living Inside the Shell” (sung by Steve Conte), is also a great track, but I have to admit that I prefer “Lithium Flowers” from SAC.
One thing to note about the OP and ED for 2nd Gig is that it actually has three of each. The original broadcast featured the two tracks mentioned above, however the second, terrestrial, broadcast featured two different tracks. The second OP, “Christmas in the Silent Forest” (sung by Illiara Graziano), is a more haunting track than the martial “Rise”, and has a very Bjork-esque quality about it. The ED, “Snyper” (sung by Iliara Graziano and Steve Conte), has much the same feel as the OP.
The third OP and ED, “Torukia” (sung by Gabriella Robin), and “I Do” (sung by Iliara Graziano), only appear in the final episode.
As far as the characters go (and it’s pretty damn far to be honest), they are simply astonishing. Because of the groundwork laid by the movie and SAC, the each member of Section 9 is an almost complete persona from the start of the show. Now, hardcore fans of character development probably won’t like what I’m about to say next, but the truth is the truth. Sometimes character development gets in the way of the story proper, something which we have all seen happen in other anime. The fact that almost every character is not only an adult, but also an almost fully realised characterisation, means that there is nothing to hold back the story. Granted there are times when the characters come into sharp focus, but the series deals with these times with aplomb, grace, and sometimes violence.
I have seen, on occasion, people remark that the episodes that focus on a particular character are often slow and boring. I disagree with this view as, in any story, there are occasions when a character becomes more “audience friendly” and accessible. These “slow” episodes also help modify the pace of the story as a whole, and invite new routes down which it could progress.
I will freely admit that I actually prefer 2nd Gig to SAC. This isn’t because I found SAC inferior though, it’s simply because I related more to the events, action, social and politcal movements and impact, and overall sense of realism in the second series. Where SAC focused on both society and individuality, this also did the same, but from a slightly different angle. One of the things that I have been impressed by in both series is how, in the main story arcs, the “bad guy” isn’t quite as evil and bloodthisrty as we initially believe him to be, something which calls the definition of “evil” into question.
This is, like every other part of the GitS franchise, a superb anime. The blend of action, drama (both political and otherwise), intrigue and mystery is on a completely different level to most other anime.
As with SAC, 2nd Gig continues to be an intelligent series for intelligent people. In addition to that it is also a scathing criticism of how wealthy nations have coped with the global refugee crisis, as well as a visionof how bad things can get if society is not more aware of it’s own failings.
Just when one thought that with ‘Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence’ and ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex’, this franchise had reached its pinnacle, Studio I.G. came up with GiTS: SAC 2ng Gig.
It carries over the same qualities that made the first series such a brilliant watch – an excruciatingly complex plot with conspiracy, intrigue and plenty of action and smashing music. The reason why this tops the first season is the more personal feel. Character development, that was mostly sidelined in the first season, is present aplenty in the 2nd gig. You feel you’re delving into the lives of the men and woman of Section 9. You get a glimpse of the pasts of the clandestine characters all while maintaining the cloak-and-dagger mystery.
The series also explores several political and moral issues of governance and right and wrong. It does not preach, there are no absolutes, and there is no such thing as a perfect political set up. The series maintains a hue of grey on all these matters, and tastefully so.
If you liked the first series, you absolutely must watch the 2ng series. If you haven’t I recommend you watch the 1st gig before embarking on this one. The series ends in a perfect set-up for the new GiTS: SAC Solid State Society movie, which by the way, was quite disappointing, but nevertheless a great addition to the GiTS family. I’m not going to review SSS because if you’re already hooked onto Stand Alone Complex, you won’t be able to resist watching it.
We open with Section 9 on standby, waiting for the official order that will allow them to go back into action. A group calling themselves the Individual Eleven has stormed the Chinese embassy and taken hostages. Aramaki manages to get the Prime Minister’s approval and the group moves in, cementing their resurrection. Shortly thereafter, the refugee issue begins becoming more and more of a problem and the Individual Eleven name seems to keep popping up in disparate incidents relating to the refugees in some way, along with a strange mark that only a select few know about. Section 9 sets out to discover the truth behind these incidents and try to assuage the tensions with the refugees, before they turn into a full scale war.
I have two issues with the narrative here. The first, and lesser of the two, is that its big climax retreads one of the big tragic moments from the first series. The execution is different and the moment is still good but it is a bit cheapened as a consequence of being a variation of something we saw in the last series. Then we have the implied history betwixt the Major and one of the major antagonists, Kuze. Narratively, there’s not much reason for this to be there. It barely comes into play within the story. It feels like a thinly veiled excuse to have Motoko be distracted and even that is only important for one major scene. Overall, that element is just a bit sloppy and mostly pointless.
Aside from those aspects, the story in this is really strong. It emphasises a more cohesive narrative in contrast to the first series’ more stand alone, largely episodic missions where the main plot came into play for some episodes and not for others. This does have the benefit of letting the situation develop and worsen a lot more noticeably while building on the pre-established tensions. It takes quite a few twists and turns that keep you really invested. The pacing is actually really good too. The series never feels like it’s dragging or like it’s overly hectic. It’s also really compelling to see Section 9 struggle to try and gain the upper hand against our main antagonist.
The series retains a strong cast. The more minor characters from Section 9 get to develop a bit more. The major characters are still really compelling and well developed. The various minor characters that get added to the roster have verisimilitude. Honestly, the biggest problem is with the major antagonists. While they do feel like actual people, they’re also a bit under-developed. Especially when you compare them to the Laughing Man from the first series. Which is odd since he got significantly less screen time.
The artwork and animation are amazing. The visual effects are stellar. The action sequences are intense and really radical. Even the hacking sequences are really visually intense. The various set pieces, futuristic tech and the like are all really well designed. The character designs are good and the Major’s absurd one piece bathing suit/ leather jacket combination has been banished to the Gamindustri Graveyard, or wherever it is stupid outfits go when they stop getting used.
The actors do a fantastic job. Saka Osamu, Ootsuka Akio, Tanaka Atsuko, Yamadera Kouichi and the various other actors all give superb performances. The music is great, adding to the atmosphere for the series.
Motoko’s girlfriend from the first series doesn’t really show up in this. Nor do they give us any other type of ho-yay. So, we don’t get any.
Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd Gig is not quite as good as the first series. It suffers from some relatively minor narrative problems and some slightly under-developed antagonists. That being said, it’s still a fantastic series. My final rating is going to be a 9/10. Next week I’ll continue looking at requests with One Punch Man.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
2. Samurai Champloo
3. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s
4. Eyeshield 21
5. Tennis no Ouji-sama
6. Ueki no Housoku
7. Rozen Maiden: Tr umend
9. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
10. Tsubasa Chronicle