They’re the best Anime that 2007 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Terra e… (TV), Naruto, Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi, and more!
10: Terra e… (TV)
MAL Score: 7.91
In the future, humans are living on colonized planets and are controlled in every aspect of their life by a system of computers. Evolution has resulted in the birth of people with extraordinary powers. This new race is called Mu. Hated and feared by the humans, the Mu dream of a place to live in peace: Earth—a mystical far away planet—for humanity had to leave their home long ago as pollution and destruction increased and made it impossible to stay there any longer.
Jomy is a boy excitedly awaiting his birthday, the day he will enter the world of adults. Yet he knows nothing about the unknown powers sleeping in him and the shared dream of returning to Earth one day.
The review will be long, since the series deserve it, and since I’ll try to look at it in detail (yet keeping it spoiler free).
Terra e… is a remake of an old 80’s movie that was adapted from a manga from the same year. It fits on a very specific sub genre of Science Fiction, referred to as Space Opera. So expect an outer space futuristic setting, large scale space battles, a large cast of characters, supernatural abilities, and one or two typical 80’s cliche. While this may seem like a not so viable mix, the reality is that it works quite well.
To be honest, the show is a slow starter. It will not sweep you off your feet from the beginning. Instead, it will grow on you as it grows in quality itself, and at some point you realize your initial skepticism is gone and all you want is to see what the story reserves next.
The Story tells the tale of two races, the Human and the Mu (who though joined by blood, have yet failed to have a peaceful coexistence), and the events that led to their inevitable conflict. It is quite the emotional rollercoaster, and it starts quite light themed, with emphasis to friendship and peace. Yet as the show progresses, it grows darker and darker and death, sorrow, fury, vengeance, guilt and war become an integral part of the storyline. Storyline that is spread out through a wide range of years and concentrates attention in the life of the two main characters.(since their coming of age to their adulthood). The pot shifts it’s focus from one to another from time to time, and it does so in the form of two separate arcs for the first ~10 episodes. As the anime progresses however, the alternation becomes less spaced and finally inexistent, as number of events draw the main characters and their respective races to the inevitable clash.
The characters and their development are without a doubt the best part of the show. Looking at such an extensive cast, I would never have imagined they could suffer so many changes throughout the series. The two main protagonists, Keith and Jomy (who are first presented as young teenagers), are the best example of this as they both undergo major character development.
They seem to be the two sides of the same coin. Each of them faces a large amount of heavy responsibilities and hardships since their youth to their adulthood. And each choses a different path as they climb to the top. Where one is respected the other is feared, while one created friends the other spawned enemies. Both filled with sorrow and grief for their losses, and yet the bearers of great determination.
But not only of Jomy and Keith lives the story. The primary supporting cast constituted mainly by Shiroei, Soldier Blue, Physis, Tony, Matsuka, Swena and Sam also undergoes great development. And surprisingly enough, also does some of the secondary supporting cast like Karina, Artela, Murdock or Zel. There will be characters to like, characters to dislike, characters you wish you had seen more of, characters you wish you could beat the crap of… but all in all, they all have their space and role on the outline of the plot, and it’s hard to stay indifferent to them. Specially after the amount of events/hardships they are forced to suffer.
A few words to the ending now. To be honest, I think it was a bit rushed. But even so, it was one of the best endings that crossed my eyes, and yet I have the feeling that one more episode would have made it the best ending of all.
There were a small amount of plot lines that were only explored superficially, like the origin of some characters, past conflicts etc. And there’s also one or two of inconsistencies in the storyline. But they’re not enough to taint it. The overall storyline, and specially the characters and their development are top-notch.
Although the Art is certainly the most unique aspect of show it is also a double edged knife.
As I mentioned before the show is a remake of an old 80’s movie with the same name. And as so, the producers decided to preserve the 80’s feel in the styling of the characters and environment. Yet now reviving the "antique" style with nowadays animation quality and computer generated imagery. While some people, like me, will find this a plus, there will be a relatively large amount of audience that will be thrown off by it.
Still, the animation starts at a high quality level. That quality does indeed decrease a bit around the middle of the series, but quite surprisingly, after less shinny period it takes a turn for the best. Not only does it improve significantly, but actually surpasses the overall animation quality of the earlier episodes. And the art style evolves quite a lot in that period. Movement becomes more fluid, characters more detailed, and the 80’s feel more faded. It is also great to see the characters physical appearance change, as they age during the storyline.
As I mentioned before there’s a large use of CGI, specially in spaceships and space warfare. The CGI’s may not be as shinny as those seen in shows like Last Exile, but they are still rather good and quite well used throughout the entire series.
Sound and Music are one of the best things the show has to offer. Great sound effects, and solid voice acting as normal nowadays. The creators put together experienced voice actors like Takehito Koyasu, Tomokazu Sugita, Mitsuki Saiga with less experienced ones like Marina Inoue or Motoki Takagi, creating a balanced team that ended up fitting the needs of the show quite well. Each seiyuu performance is quite good, and fitting to the character. But even so, some performances exceeded the overall great voice acting quality. This is the case of Jomy, Keith and Tony’s voice actors for example.
Still, neither voice acting nor sound effects are the shiniest aspect on this category. It is yet the Music. Terra e… put together some of the most epic, well devised themes and choral pieces I’ve heard. The music not only superbly supports the show, borrowing sorrow, cheerfulness or thrill to events, but at times even becomes the full back-bone of the scenes. The music made my skin crawl (in a good sense) a good amount of times. A truly outstanding work by Yashuharu Takanashi, who is also the author of the OST’s of Gantz, Jigoku Showjo Series, Mononoke and Seto no Hanayome. Surely, the music genre may not appeal to all if listened outside the show, but it could not befit anime’s identity more.
The music brilliance does not stop merely at the instrumental themes though. It is also present in the OP/ED themes. I had not seen a single series in which all of them appealed to me. Yet that fact changed after seeing Terra e…. All 4 are great on their own style. Granted, not everyone will enjoy the all four, but there will be at least one song that will appeal to you. And leaving appeals aside, the songs where clearly not left at random. They strategically mark a shift in the series. From the lighter and cheerful beginning, to the darker and more dramatic ending.
The Enjoyment is the most subjective rating not only in this but in any anime. Great storytelling, epic music, unique art and story line, and a large cast of interesting characters culminated to give me an outstanding amount of enjoyment. Outstanding enough to be in my top 3 overall.
Granted, it will not be the same for everyone else. And Terra e… is more likely to appeal to older audiences. But I’m sure that no matter the age, if you can defeat the initial skepticism towards the animation and maybe the story, you’ll find things to like within the show, be it the characters, the storyline, the music or even the animation. I believe most people will be in for a solid enjoyment and I’m sure, if you ever come across a show of similar story or genre, you’ll be reminded of Terra e…
So in Conclusion, it’s after seeing series like this, I’m glad I watch anime. It’s good to know that there are still series that can sweep me off my feet when I less expect them too, and take for a memorable ride.
What awaits you in Terra e… is an epic, unique, dramatic storyline, telling the tale of two races and the events that led to their inevitable conflict. With a great and wide cast of characters that undergo the most dreadful events and suffer major character development. Outstanding music that supports the series superbly and shines on it’s own. An Art style with an 80’s feel to it, that can either hook you from the first moment or, more likely, throw you off at first… And yet, given the chance it will probably win you over in due time. With a good rewatch value, specially if like myself, you’ve seen the series as the episodes aired.
I recommend Terra e… to every fan of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre, and to a general older audience as they are more likely to appreciate the brilliance this show holds… Defeat your initial skepticism and you’ll be taken for a unique ride no other show has to offer
Manga, Movie, Anime: Toward the Terra (known as Terra E in Japan) was originally a manga created by Keiko Takemiya (famous for her work on Andromeda Stories), and originally ran in Asahi Sonorama’s Gekkan Manga Shoen from the January 1977 issue to the May 1980 issue. The manga was licensed Stateside by Vertical (who also licensed Tezuka’s Ode to Kirihito and Buddha), and the third and final volume was released on June 26th, 2007. Toward the Terra won the Seiun Award (a Japanese sci-fi award) in 1978, and won the Kodansha Manga Award in 1979. Fumino Hayashi did a spinoff called Terra E… ~Aoki Kobo no Kiss~ that centers around one of the main characters, began running on September 27th, 2007, and is ongoing in Square-Enix’s GFantasy magazine.
Toward the Terra was adapted into an animated movie in 1980 that was produced by Toei Animation (famous for their work on all seasons of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball) and directed by Hideo Onchi. The Right Stuff International licensed it Statesdie, and released a subbed version in 1994. This will not be covered in this review.
Toward the Terra is a twenty-four episode anime that was produced by Minamimachi Bugyoushou (famous for their animation assistance on Jyu-Oh-Sei and Mushishi) and Tokyo Kids (famous for their work on the Sayuki OAV and Gakuen Heaven), and directed by Osamu Yamazaki (famous for… y’know, I can’t really find anything). It ran on Japanese TV from April 7th to September 22nd of 2007. Bandai has licensed it Stateside, and has yet to announce a release date.
Story: Toward the Terra takes place a few thousand years or so from the present, in a time where humanity’s screwed up Earth and has colonized other planets, and is more or less controlled by supercomputers. Psychics called the Mu are being born, and humanity, as is always the case with these sorts of series, fears them and attempts to destroy them at every turn, and the Mu attempt to rescue children when they awaken, at risk of their otherwise being destroyed. All the Mu want to do is go back to Earth. And into all of this steps Jomy Marquis Shin, a dormant Mu who is rescued by their leader, Soldier Blue.
This sounds like your standard sci-fi story, no? Well, here’s the thing — it’s not. And the main reason for this lies in how they choose to tell the story.
The story is undeniably centered around young Jomy, and driven around his development and experiences. But at the same time, there’s an extremely extensive cast that all gets some degree of development, and actually ends up playing a major role in how events play out. Characters who you think are only going to be involved in minor ways end up playing major roles in the show later on.
And the sheer range of the story can be best summed up as freaking EPIC. Not only does the story cover the happenings surrounding individual characters, it also focuses on the Mu and human races as a whole, AND the interactions between the two races. As if this wasn’t enough, this entire series covers about two or three decades of all of this; you get to watch character from when they are kids up till they’re adults, and watch them through the whole span of their life.
And the story itself starts out light, but steadily gets darker and darker throughout the series, with lots and lots of death and conspiracy and all sorts of lovely things.
All in all, several kinds of amazing.
Art: The animation for this series is pretty high-quality. The 2D animation is fairly smooth; however, the CG tends to stand out some when it’s used (but, then again, it’s only used on its own, and never blended, so that works out pretty well).
Music: There are two OPs and EDs each for this series, and none of them particularly stands out; the OPs and second ED are your standard upbeat pop numbers, and the first ED is the standard female ballad.
The background music for this series, though, is some of the first that I’ve actively noticed for a while. Ethnic instruments are thrown in with the standard Western orchestra, and the music is just awesome in general.
Seiyuu: This show has a lot of talent that I recognize and love — Sanae Kobayashi (Lucy/Nyuu of Elfen Lied and Daedalus of Ergo Proxy), Tomokazu Sugita (Mayama in Honey and Clover) and Takehito Koyasu (Hotohori of Fushigi Yuugi and Touga of Revolutionary Girl Utena), most notably. All the other performances in this show are pretty good, as well.
Length: Perfect. There’s no filler whatsoever, and the story moves along at a good pace. The only thing I would want would be an OVA to explain what happens between the end of the last episode and the bit that’s shown after the credits, because it just begs for explanation, how things went from the way they were to that, to be vague at risk of spoilers.
Overall: An excellent, epic sci-fi story with an excellent focus on characters, beautiful background music, and good animation and seiyuu.
Another one of my top picks. Watch this. NOW.
Overall: 46/50; 92% (A)
Terra e is a sci-fi piece. That is about all one can describe, because the setting is indeed quite plain. Although earlier episodes would have you believe that it takes place in some sort of… Orwellian nightmarish environment, for all intents and purposes, Terra e has a vanilla sci-fi setting.
Humanity has polluted the Earth to a state in which it is uninhabitable. Humanity has taken to the stars, colonizing and terraforming planets to live on, all the while trying to terraform the Earth back into a liveable state. As a result of the crisis situation, a fascist government has managed to seize power, and their administration seeks to cement their control over humanity, through, for example, destroying rogue elements such as the mutant “Mu”, and engaging in a vaguely 1984-like system of population control.
Taking inspiration from 1984 would, generally, inform one that the show would have dystopian elements, but strangely enough, all effects of the fascist actions of the government be waived as convenient for the plot. The psychological effects of having a heavily controlled and totalitarian populace never strike the main characters, while the main characters will also never lose any information relevant to the plot, mind-wipes to ensure obedience be damned. As a result, any serious message the show tries to convey is simultaneously undermined and made into a laughing stock. I do not know if the director seeks to destroy his own show, but this is a disturbing trend that permeates this show in general.
Humanity is supposedly controlled by supercomputers, yet humans are still shown to make the relevant decisions when necessary. Everyone is brainwashed to follow the SD government, but there are characters who still elect to dislike the government, and rebel, and they are not dealt with until they commit serious crimes, and expose state secrets. People are raised like sheep, yet the cast seems to undergo a normal schooling environment, and even military academies bear more similarities to modern day education than differences.
I could go on, but I fear that I am belabouring the point. Other instances of this undermining (for it is far too common) will no doubt show up as I go on.
The main plot of Terra e concerns the “Mu”, a race of psychically endowed mutants exiled from humanity, who seek to find, and recolonize Earth. They do this all the while evading attack from the dictatorian “SD” government, who seek to destroy rogue elements that threaten their control over humanity. The main character, Jomy, is one such (young) Mu.
While the Mu are initially peaceable, after some time, the frustration of the new generation of Mu born in exile boils over, and under the leadership of Jomy, they elect to wage a war against the SD government and the humans under its jurisdiction, to claim Earth as a homeland for themselves. They do so by obliterating SD ships with overwhelming firepower, taking entire planets hostage, and being every bit as cruel as the humans which they supposedly despise.
If I didn’t sound very sympathetic to the cause of the Mu, I do not apologize. While the director undoubtedly wants us to side with the Mu, I must find that his message often works in reverse. Terra e shows us the cruel side of humanity, espoused in its finest agent Keith Anyan, a cold, callous man captured by the Mu who has no qualms taking hostages to ensure his escape, and killing them when he has no further use for them. The Mu call him a monster, but yet just days later they indulge in monstrous behaviour on a much larger scale, destroying entire fleets while accepting no surrenders, and taking an entire planet of civilians hostage. The new generation of Mu, especially Jomy, do this without batting an eyelid, and indeed, they even revel in the bloodshed. The new generation are revealed, in the end, to be power-crazed, psychotic, and ruthless to those who they perceive to be beneath them, even other Mu who are less powerful psionically. Yet, the viewpoint is constantly with the Mu; we see how the Mu struggle to survive and build a homeland for themselves in an abandoned colony in deep space, we see the conflicts and disputes between different Mulian factions firsthand, we are shown how humanity tries to destroy the adopted homeland of the Mu through orbital bombardment, all the while in a sympathetic light to the Mu. We are left in doubt just what the director wants us to feel. Are we to pity the Mu for their depraved state of affairs, brought about by persecution? Are we to hate the Mu, for their cruelty and inhumanity? Niehter interpretation can be supported, due to the conflicting messages that the director sends us, that undermine either intepretation.
The most striking artistic decision about this show, I would think, would be the decision not to tell a chronologically smooth story, but rather to have the plot move in a series of jerky timeskips. While novel, this idea is nonetheless again undermined (yes, again) by the scriptwriter and art director. Little indication is given as to the length of time that has elapsed, leaving the viewer to pick up the pieces. As a result, many episodes, especially early on, feel rushed and disjointed, and a nagging feeling surfaces that there should have been additional episodes to fill in the gap, or at least, changes in the way characters and the backgrounds are drawn to reflect the time gap. When a 14-year old looks exactly the same as he does when 26, the audience is left pondering just what the art director was thinking.
Nonetheless, the rest of the art is drawn surprisingly well, from the beautiful clips of deep space, to still shots of nebulae and celestial objects, to wonderfully detailed and realistic spacecraft. The character designs may be dated somewhat, which may be quite jarring at first, but after a few episodes they grow on the viewer. Sound is nondescript. It’s used when appropriate, but is nothing to rave about.
Half the cast are idiots, the other half of the cast are assholes, and all of them, in all honesty, had much room for improvement. While many characters do develop as the story progresses, it is usually to their moral detriment, and attracts the audience’s disgust.
You have cold cruel hypocrites like Jomy and Physis, power-crazed berserkers like Tony, arrogant and beastly snots like Shiroe, disgusting psychopaths like Karina, naive and temperamental youths like Kim and Sam, and old men rooted in the past like Zel and Harley.
To be fair, some of these characters aren’t as bad as I make out, Sam and Harley notably, but by and large, most of them are. Blue, Keith and Matsuka, the only main characters worth a damn, are not able to carry the show due to the amount of screentime they are given.The amount of sympathy the rest of the cast attracts is basically 0. When main characters die, complete with a death montage, flashbacks, and insert songs, I don’t shed tears out of joy. I shed tears out of happiness, because I do not have to see that idiot again.
The voice acting is a mixed bag. While the main characters, especially Keith and Blue are voiced pretty competently, many side characters, Physis being a prime example, have horribly grating voices. But at the very least, they do not get enough screentime to get the viewer overly annoyed. It’s still nothing to rave about, of course.
To be succint, Terra e is what I would term: wasted potential. Given its unique setting and novel storytelling method, if handled competently, it could have been a deep and cutting look into the human psyche. As it is, it is merely a glaring example of how not to do it: make a contradictory, meaningless, unenjoyable trainwreck of a show, with no coherent message.
I’ve heard some people describe it as en epic anime, and must respectfully disagree. While Terra e strives to be an epic anime, the total lack of sympathy that the audience feels for any character, as well as the lack of a coherent message gives it an extremely different, in fact almost entirely opposite kind of mood – Nihilistic.
MAL Score: 7.95
Moments prior to Naruto Uzumaki’s birth, a huge demon known as the Kyuubi, the Nine-Tailed Fox, attacked Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, and wreaked havoc. In order to put an end to the Kyuubi’s rampage, the leader of the village, the Fourth Hokage, sacrificed his life and sealed the monstrous beast inside the newborn Naruto.
Now, Naruto is a hyperactive and knuckle-headed ninja still living in Konohagakure. Shunned because of the Kyuubi inside him, Naruto struggles to find his place in the village, while his burning desire to become the Hokage of Konohagakure leads him not only to some great new friends, but also some deadly foes.
The concept of this show isn’t that hard to follow. It’s an alternate world in which ninjas live. The ninjas fight by using various skills, and they have this power flowing inside of them called chakra. Chakra is used to perform powerful attacks which (usually) belongs to either of the five traditional elements of earth, fire, water, air and lightning. Of course, since they are ninjas, they fight with weapons like shuriken and kunai as well as hand-to-hand combat. As expected of this kind of world, there’s evil people, having different goals and reasons behind their evil.
The story follows Naruto, one of these ninjas, as he grow as a ninja, from being a stupid little prank-playing brat to becoming a fine ninja. Along the way, he interacts with and makes friends with many fellow ninja, fighting his way towards his dream of becoming Hokage (the leader of his village).
The story isn’t nearly as good as the concept would indicate. Sure, a lot of the characters has some nice background stories, won’t complain about that, but they manage to drag out everything so much. It really annoys me. Some fights take several episodes when they could’ve been done them just as good in one or two. There’s also way too much fighting. The story goes like fight, fight, background story, fight, fight, even more fight, half an episode’s worth of resting or journeying, fight, fight, and so on. I mean, it’s cool to watch fights, but there are just way too many fights, and they drag most of them out to unnecessary lengths. The only really enjoyable fight was the one between Sasuke and Naruto right before the fillers began. Which brings up another thing…
Fillers! Agh, I normally don’t mind fillers, but Naruto had some really, really stupid ones. Sure, there was the occasional diamond among the charcoal, but that doesn’t excuse the high amount of bad fillers. I mean, just because they are fillers doesn’t mean that they have to make them bad. Several shows have actually made decent and at the same time long fillers (especially Bleach, with its 40-episode long Bount arc), but Naruto failed horribly here.
Also, I feel that Naruto is very silly at times. Silly is usually good, but not when it’s immature silly. And guess what+ Naruto is silly in an immature way. It’s so dreadfully stupid at times that I had to close my eyes, take a deep breath and wait until it got serious again. Now, it did have some good comical moments, but those were far and wide between.
Another thing I feel like releasing my rage on is the animation. It barely manages to get the description “average” to me. At its best, it’s slightly above average. However, a lot of time it’s slipshod galore with the animation. I still have many very bad memories from having to watch lots of errors in the animation, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get rid of those memories. While the amount of errors decreased as the episodes passed by, at least every second episode before the 100s had one or more moments of slipshod animation. Wonder if they ever considered firing the animators.
As a side mention, they should do something about Rock Lee – even though I’ve slightly gotten used to his horrible looks, I still feel a burn in the back of my eye every time I see him.
The music is pretty good, though. A lot of great tunes (especially the sad ones are great), and the first few OPs and EDs were pretty awesome. It has some really bad music parts too, like the tribal voice-ish song, and sometimes they could’ve used better themes during the fights. As the series progressed, the quality of the OPs and EDs decrease too.
The characters are fairly okay, I guess. Some of them are really annoying, like Naruto, because he’s so stupid. Agh, he annoys me to no end! Some other characters are annoying too, because of things like their looks (Gai and Lee), or because they are failed attempts at comical relief (at least in my eyes, you might find them funny), like the all too perverted Jiraiya.
That’s the negative about them. However, they have some really nice background stories, some which are elaborated more upon than others. Many of the characters also get fair amounts of screen time, which for some people can seem too much, whilst others will be content with it, because their favorite character from the show gets an episode for him/herself.
I also like the fact that most of them have dreams or aspirations, and motives for what they are doing and how they are acting (usually it’s tied together with their background stories). The growing relationships between them is also nice, their maturing, and how Naruto is slowly getting accepted by more and more people through hard work.
Basically, they’ve portrayed the characters very well, and not too over the top, but some of them act stupid and silly from time to time, which drags the character rating down.
I have some mixed feelings for the show, which kind of drags down on the enjoyability factor of it. Great concept, not as good story, both good and bad music, horrid animation at times, many characters with background stories, some of them great and some not-so-great; it’s hard to completely make up my mind, but I believe the ratings I have given shows my feelings towards the different aspects of the show.
Of course, even though there was things I didn’t like, I can easily see why this show is so popular as it is; it has humor that the kids may find funny, as well as lots of fights which appeal to the teenagers and adults. I personally didn’t like it that much, though. I’m looking forward to Shippuden, because I’ve heard it was much better… I really hope so!
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
When I was 13 years old, I remember watching and loving this anime. I had never seen any other anime shows, and I thought the concept was original and amazing. When I found out that others animes literally had all that Naruto had plus a lot more, I was… bored with all the fillers. At the time the anime was great, but it really does get old.
Then again, the anime is not absolutely horrible. It has the essentials, with a somewhat unique story and art style. The characters are cliche, and enjoyment is there but short and sweet.
What I truly love about Naruto is the great soundtrack. It seems that all the OP and ED are just fabulous, and the music just fits within the series. I would have liked a bit of a change over the course of the show, but hey, it almost never happens.
All in all, it was a good show. Just good. So basically: Shame on those people who watch 10 episodes and immediately come here and write a review. Also shame on people who give this show all 1’s because everyone else loves it. It’s OK, but ive definitely seen better.
What I love bout naruto is the whole “Ninja aspect” of the show. Every technique had substance, quality and all of the training arcs really shown the defining elements of how ninjutsu worked within the naruto universe. These qualities are something I will soon not forget. I know alot of people complain about naruto being a half ass wit that can’t do nothing Or perhaps sakura being useless. But in away I look at the series as being a little different, especially in the developing of characters.
Kishimoto did not intend to create the story with a “bad ass” character right from the start, toppling villains one after the other, no. Naruto was set up in a way that much resembles an ordinary life and the tribulations and tests you must go through. Death is at every corner and naruto is a kid that is trying to fit in with the rest of the shinobi and be “recognized” I think that was one of the main defining elements of the original series. Kishi wanted to show here is a character that no one likes because he has a living breathing monster inside of him. You can only wonder what he is thinking, being in his predicament.
Watching him grow up as a monster and trying to be known as a famous shinobi and protect his friends, but realizing that he is in a world fraught with danger at every corner. Watching his friends die before him or getting hurt. The degree of emotion in the series was something I really enjoyed. It was really powerful. I remember hearing people spout nonsense in the discussions boards “omg to much drama, get on with the fighting already” But I actually liked how naruto had that drama, it fit in with the entire theme of the series. It kind of brings a whole different realism to the show compared to other shonen series. I won’t state any names.
One of the things that kishi really focused on in the original was friendship, and bonds. Thats one of the major theme’s watching this team 7 grow up together, learning from kakashi and becoming great ninja in the process, learning the ways of the ninja world. This show explores themes of revenge, hate, bonds and sorrow to a very astounding degree.
The characters in this series were in every sense of the word children, growing up in a world full of adults that were much more talented ninja’s both skills and combat. That is not to say the show was made for children. Just that kishi wanted to show the younger generation as the main characters of the show and the older generation as the training shinobi. They had to learn the ropes of what being a ninja is like. After their pre training sessions, they were finally put to the test of just how grueling the world is and how they must use every ounce of there being to survive and also protect the people they love.
10 years ago people viewed naruto very different to how people view it today.
Perhaps maybe the reason I love naruto so much and the reason it feels very nostalgic to me, is because I was around when I watched it first aired and I remember the fanbase during that time of the original series. It was one of THEE most popular anime series on the net and not a single person had anything remotely unscrupulous to say about it. Suddenly after the 100 episode filler arc, or the not so appreciated “shipuuden” it lost its reputation and became a show just muddled by idiots that call any one narutards for watching it. I have seen how the fanbase has changed significantly over the past 10 years of watching naruto. It is quite sad really.
I still consider naruto to be one of my favorite quality anime series, regardless of where it’s going. Perhaps maybe its because im very infatuated with ninja’s and like the unique way that kishi has created this ninja world. Similar to how i really love pirates in the one piece world. Every arc is something new and fresh so kishi can develop on that and expand upon the show in various different ways. One piece had some of the greatest character back stories and cast I’ve seen in a series, but it did suffer from story progression a bit thankfully naruto does not. It has a pretty solid pace and some of the most ground breaking plot twists.
I guess it’s all a matter of personal preference and what you like to see in a show. I my self im not a huge fan of typical shonene tropes that are used consistently, but i love how the original series gave us a much more powerful emotional impact to the show. In away it felt more humanized as apposed to the more generic super power elements of shipuuden.
8: Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi
English: KenIchi: The Mightiest Disciple
Japanese: 史上最強の弟子 ケンイチ
MAL Score: 8.08
“Weak Legs” Kenichi Shirahama would rather spend his time reading self improvement books than fighting. However, when he finally works up the courage to become strong and join his school’s karate club, he is coerced into fighting a bullying upperclassman who is intent on getting him kicked out of the club. He is about to give it all up until he falls for his mysterious new classmate, Miu Furinji. In order to face this challenge, he undergoes rigorous training at the dojo she lives at, Ryouzanpaku. Some initial training by the masters there allow him to defeat his upperclassman, however his fighting prowess brings him to the attention of the powerful gang of delinquents, Ragnarok. Wishing to protect the things he loves and determined to have the strength to face the increasing adversity, he must learn various martial arts from the dojo’s resident masters, taking Karate, Muay Thai, Ju Jitsu and Chinese Martial Arts and combining them to create his own fighting style!
The story, although simple at heart, becomes more complex at the surface as the anime progresses through the episodes. Kenichi is your run-of-the mill weakling kid who is always getting picked on by everyone and has no confidence in his abilities whatsoever. But that doesn’t stop him from doing the right thing and stepping into some pretty hairy situations despite his shortcomings. The story begins with Kenichi wanting to get stronger because of his will to protect his friends. As a result, he joins the Ryōzanpaku dojo and from there on out, every episode has meaning, and will have you wanting for more. The story ends with Kenichi in an final showdown verses the leader of the most intense gang in Japan – Ragnorak. Just from that, it gives you the sense that the plot development is spectacular in this show.
The art for Kenichi is well done. All of the characters are drawn very well and have distinguishing characteristics that cosplay members will love to create. Animation is also done very well, as you have great battles and very few repetition of frames.
Arguably, the sound is probably the weakest point of the anime, and its not even that weak. Opening/ending songs are pretty good and the scores used throughout the anime fit quite well with the current scene you are watching. However, it is the voices to each character that really brings all the characters alive, as you can feel the emotion from all of the characters.
The character design in HSD Kenichi is so original and great, that you’ll wonder why nobody has ever came up with this before. Kenichi is trained by six masters, who all specialize in a different form of martial arts. All of their personalities are so different and unique, you’ll also wonder how each of them get along in the first place. Hence, the many comedic moments and episodes that you’ll inevitably witness as they all fight amongst themselves to be the one who trains Kenichi. Ah, and let’s not forget the beautiful Miu Furinji, Kenichi’s love interest, who, unlike other female protagonists of similar plots, is one hell of a fighter and the reason Kenichi joins the dojo. As the anime progresses deeper in the story, you’ll be unveiled to a plethora of unique characters who have different fighting styles and unique personalities, which will all amaze and have you laughing at the same time. For the sake of keeping this section as short as possible, I’m simply going to say character development is flawless in this anime.
Even with all of this that I have written about, this anime would be nothing without its comedy, and that is what makes Kenichi so much fun and enjoyable to watch. You will be literally laughing out loud at some of the hellish training that Kenichi is forcibly put through and will wonder why he hasn’t died yet. (Yes, the training is that hellish). Even with 50 episodes, the comedy of Kenichi never gets old and you’ll find that to be the case right up to the very last episode. Hell, sometimes you’ll wish that they had more comedy than serious fights, because its that good.
All in all, Kenichi is one of those rare anime shows out there that is able to blend in comedy with the overall serious plot extremely well. One of the few qualms that I did have with this show was that the ending occurred a little to quick and you’ll also wish that they gave more information about the history of each of the masters, as they provide you with relatively very little on each one of them. In the end, once you watch the final episode of this anime, it will take you five seconds or so to wish that there would be a second season to it.
From the start, this anime has a very typical story and plot. Having a high school setting, the story is about Kenichi’s quest to become stronger. The story itself is incredibly basic that any idiot can grasp its concept. The way in which the story flows makes it feel like a game; Kenichi gains some experience points => clears a stage => levels up => makes it to the next stage. This makes it really enjoyable to watch him develop but its overall simplicity is also its downfall, due to the lack of depth to the story. This doesn’t matter too much, to the average viewer because of than the awesome fights and there’s plenty of comedy that will make it hard to take the show seriously.
This anime is full of so many interesting characters and it’s not only the 2 main ones (Kenichi & Miu). Some of the supporting characters are also great, as their little quirks make the series more enjoyable. With Kenichi being the main titular character, he proves to be quite an amazing well developed one. It just makes it so interesting to watch a “loser-kun” character with no natural talent become such a great fighter.
The quality of the animation is very peculiar because most of the time it looks really simple and crude. The action on the other hand can be pretty intense but the character’s thoughts tend to slow down the pace. The music has to be the weakest aspect of the show, as there is nothing particularly special about it. Not only that but the background sounds (birds & cicadas) don’t sound good but the SFX during fights help add to the intensity.
Overall History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi proved to be a really enjoyable and addicting Shounen Action anime to watch, as it didn’t rely on typical “power ups” and “special techniques” but just traditional fighting styles and clichés. Of course this anime would have been so much better if it was produced by a different studio but even then the story would still be very linear. If you’ve seen and enjoyed shounen action animes like “Tenjou Tenge” & “Naruto” then you’ll definitely enjoy this one.
The animation is lack luster. Rather than fluid animation displaying extension of limbs and alertness of characters. Kenichi relies more heavily on the quick flash of motion with speed lines indicating action, and sequences of pictures less worthy of being called animation. Character design is uninspired-ly shounen, with an overall presentation of something one would see in the early 90’s.
Bad voice acting. There really is no other way to say it. It was surprising to discover that the voice of the main character, Shirahama Kenichi, is acted by Seki Tomokazu one of my personal favorites. The music is equally bad and also quite forgettable. I had to go back to youtube just to remember them, and even then it was unfamiliar. Also laughable are the foley effects for fights which prove highly anachronistic given current technology and processes.
Characters – 4
Nothing to see here except a plethora of sterotypes as flat as the paper they were conceived on. We have your meek protagonist who cherishes what little companions he has. His busty, pure-hearted, yet equally shy friend. Kenichi’s numerous martial arts masters are all ripoffs of characters from various fighting games and movies. We have the old man with a long beard and ripped muscles, the kung fu master, the kunoichi weapons expert, the thai boxer, badass karate guy, and disciplined but dangeruous Aikido master. On the opposing side we have baddies including a tsundere who likes kittens, a bitter enemy who misdirects rage, and the main bad guy who lusts for power at all costs.
Story – 5
This story plays out as all shounen fighting shows with a hint of romance do: Fight a person and find out that something more sinister awaits. Train. Conflict of conscience. Something bad happens. Train. Fight. Get former enemies to be your friend. Train. Recognition of weakness. Train. Discover you like girl. Date. Train. Remember past with girl and baddies. Train. Turn weakness into strength. Prevail.
Enjoyment – 4
The only thing I can honestly say that I enjoyed is the application of Norse mythology in the form of giving nick-names to the "bad guys." I wasted a lot of time during the show trying to find a higher meaning behind the monikers. But clearly the creator though: Norse names are cool sounding. end of thought.
Overall – 4
Kenichi is a laughably mediocre show. I once had this score at a six (I tend to give middle of the road shows the benifit of the doubt), and then a five; however, while writing this review I have come to the conclusion that this show is not the sum of its average parts. At no point in time does this show take the viewer by surprise. Everything from design to execution is bizarrely over-exaggerated and banally predictable. Even if one is a fan of the genre, I doubt that it stacks up to any of the heavy hitters, or even the more marginally popular fare.
7: Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha
English: Darker than Black
Japanese: Darker than BLACK -黒の契約者-
MAL Score: 8.09
It has been 10 years since Heaven’s Gate appeared in South America and Hell’s Gate appeared in Japan, veiling the once familiar night sky with an oppressive skyscape. Their purposes unknown, these Gates are spaces in which the very laws of physics are ignored. With the appearance of the Gates emerged Contractors, who, in exchange for their humanity, are granted supernatural abilities.
In the Japanese city surrounding Hell’s Gate, Section 4 Chief Misaki Kirihara finds herself at odds with an infamous Contractor codenamed Hei. Called “Black Reaper” in the underground world, Hei, like his associates, undertakes missions for the mysterious and ruthless Syndicate while slowly peeling back the dark layers covering a nefarious plot that threatens the very existence of Contractors.
From the mind of Tensai Okamura comes a sci-fi thriller taking the form of a subtle exposé on a war in which political positions and justice have no sway—a war waged exclusively in the shadows.
The animation and art style of Darker than Black are superb. Each character is completely unique and unlike some other shows with several similar looking characters, Darker than Black does an excellent job of giving each character an unique style and a winning personality. The fights of Darker than Black are done very well and are very fluid. Although short at times, it is after all not a shounen series, they are excellent none the less. Some fights are extended and are a real treat for the eyes. Bones, the producers, did an excellent job with the series and I am looking forward to seeing more of their work.
The soundtrack for Darker than Black is up there with my favourites of all time. An excellent mix of various genres of music. At one point it will be a jazz track, then later it will be an orchestra piece or a rock track. Overall the music is really well done and accurately depicts the scene. At some points I found myself with the hair on the back of my neck standing up as the music heated up in preparation of a coming battle. The voice acting is top notch. Hei has two distinct voices: one serious and the other calm or even clumsy sounding. The other main characters: Kirihara, Yin, Huang, and Mao also have top notch performances. Overall the casting and voice acting are very well done.
Each character has their own special traits and have very well written dialogue. Although it is for the most part an Action/Drama type of series, there are often Comedic undertones to help break up the suspense. When Hei is not masquerading as BK201, his codename, he is a very funny and sarcastic individual. Most every character has moments that make you want to laugh, especially Gai, the off the wall private eye, and his partner, the pink haired money hungry Kiko. All in all the characters have a very nice chemistry and it is interesting to see Hei’s interactions with the people who are pursuing him. The only thing that is holding back the characters is, with the exception of Hei and Yin, there is very little back story provided for many of the main characters. This is hard to do of course though with an episodic type series.
The series seems episodic as the story is generally told in two episode mini-arcs, with the final arc being three episodes, it never really feels very episodic. Especially toward the end where the main plot runs into each new arc. Although there is a sense of conclusion after each arc, it never really feels like it is of an episodic nature (if that makes any sense at all). I immensely enjoyed Darker than Black and it had a very satisfying conclusion.
In the beginning of the series, the premise of the show is somewhat vague as little is known about where the powers of the contractors come from, or how they are related to the gates. As the series progresses more information is inevitably revealed, creating good plot exposition and allowing the story to move at a decent pace and keep each episode interesting. Where this series really shines however, is the characters.
Hei is portrayed brilliantly, having a rather comicbook superhero-like persona but adding a unique spin to it. His motives are not initially apparent, nor is his true relationship with the syndicate to which he belongs. Also, while contractors are known to be emotionless and purely rational, Hei somehow manages to retain his humanity, an anomaly which many of his acquaintances and opponents comment on. The true reason for this, as well as the origin of his powers remains hidden until the end of the series.
The other members of Hei’s organization are similarly well portrayed, each being represented uniquely and interestingly. Huang, Yin, and Mao each have a well written back-story that is both engaging and important to the overall plot. The other characters in the story are outstanding as well, especially the antagonists. Despite the fact that the contractors are supposed to be unemotional, each character still manages to have a unique personality which often even enhanced by this fact.
If there is one weakness in this series, it is the ending, which is unfortunately rather inconclusive. I’m kind of hoping for a sequel, but this may be difficult for reasons that would be hard to disclose without revealing spoilers. The ending also has a "suddenly everything got weird" part to it that seems common in final episodes of supernatural anime, but at least it makes a lot more sense than many I’ve seen. If you like shows about people with supernatural powers, I think you should definitely watch this series.
•A city overrun with nifty characters that have x-men like powers?
•Nice mysterious lore with strange in-world concepts?
•A clear-cut answer to ANY of these “mysterious” concepts and a sense of finality to our protagonist’s existence?
Don’t hold your breath.
Darker and Black felt like a show that was onto something worthwhile but ultimately never got around to proving it. The ingredients to make something great was clearly there but by the end, all we got was a show with ambitious ideas that did nothing but let it dwindle away into nothingness. Does that mean it isn’t worth the investment? Well, yes and no. If all you wanted was a cool ass electric Batman beating the mercy of God into x-men characters, then DTB certainly delivers. However, if you wanted more than the beat-em-up action happening on the surface and actually cared about the complete package hinted at in the background, then you’ll walk away empty-handed.
Long story short, Darker and Black had the goods, just not the means necessary to deliver them.
**THIS REVIEW WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY PIZZA HUT**
Instead of reciting the synopsis, I’ll get straight to what the meat of the show consists of.
The story follows a series of mini-arcs with each addressing a new conflict. In each of these conflicts, the main group that contains our characters are assigned a task to fulfill by a crime syndicate, with our protagonist, Hei, being the foot soldier to carry out the missions. The syndicate, for a majority of the show, remained a faceless organization, and in the confines of the kind of show being presented, that isn’t really a bad thing. They were omnipresent and ominous, guiding their pawns across the chess board, with Hei simply being another piece in the game. This syndicate was in constant conflict with other underground organizations, which lead both sides to dispatch “contractors” (superhumans) to do their bidding.
These clashes play out like a feud war being carried out in secrecy, due to the governing bodies of the city covering up the existence of “contractors” and “dolls” in fear of civil unrest. Since law enforcing authorities from the CIA to the local police are constantly trying to apprehend, gather, and suppress information about these occurrences, every episode hits you with a blitz of energy and nonstop action. That, of course, results in a narrative that’s constantly on the move, which is a good thing for action junkies and those seeking out easy-to-consume entertainment. Also, while all of this is going on, we are also given clues as to how the world operates in regards to the contractors, dolls, and a phenomenon that’s simply dubbed “Hells Gate.” While it’s a gradual occurrence, after some time, these mini-arcs eventually converge to create an overarching one. Its story structure is similar to that of other shows like Ghost in the Shell: SAC and Psycho-Pass.
Seems pretty straightforward right, so where do the problems start?
Well, despite the consistent pace, since everything is told in a semi-episodic mini-arc format, there isn’t really any true progression to talk about. Sure, we get to see the backstories of our main characters unfold and find out more about the show’s lore, but as far as a sense of direction, DTB was scatterbrained. It aimlessly meandered about with no sense of purpose or clear destination, even after one seemed to present itself in the last handful of episodes. It ended up escalating the conflict instead of addressing it. Which brings us to the biggest issue plaguing the show: its inability to provide answers.
DTB has a bad habit of telling us everything BUT what’s actually important. It will go out of its way to deliver unnecessary expository dialogue to things we clearly see happening, while simultaneously using ambiguity as a crutch to avoid explaining the concepts it depends so heavily on. This, of course, results in a lot of moments where individuals would start acting out of character just so they can directly inform the audience of situations or explain how certain things work (like a contractor’s given ability for example). I’m not saying a brief explanation isn’t warranted but after something is established like the payment concept contractors have to make for using their powers, we don’t need to get that information regurgitated every single time it happens — and trust me, it happens a lot. It feels as if the writers viewership as being too dimwitted to figure it out for themselves.
As for the information that they don’t give us, a definitive answer to any of the anomalies that occurred in the story remained one of them. The show kept on insinuating that there’re answers to come, by dropping little nuggets of information throughout the narrative but that simply never exfoliated into anything in the end. It felt like they completely abandoned the idea of trying to explain the reason for any of the “mystery” concepts, only to opt out by following a hollow aspect of the overall setting established in the beginning. None of the supernatural elements are ever justified or explained despite the fact “mystery” part of its genre:
Why did the Hell’s Gate appear? What purpose does it serve? How does it correlate with humans evolving into contractors? Why do the stars correlate with contractors lives? What is the end goal of the syndicate’s operation? Are the contractors and dolls suppose to parallel the man vs man parable? Why is anything not making any proper sense outside of superficial techno-babble?
For a show that tried so much to build a mystery, it sure failed on upholding its end of the bargain.
And how do you end a show that didn’t bother to provide answers to anything? Well apparently, you simply reveal a poorly planned plot twist that turns the final episode into an existential fever dream that hasn’t been seen since the likes of Evangelion. And since no one has the balls to say it, I will. For a show to chalk up all its supernatural elements to nothing more than made up allegorical fluff, while throwing in an improper Eva-esque conclusion, when up to that point, it was a simple rule-of-cool beat-em-up; why that’s just borderline pretentious. And yes, I know, many of you are probably rolling your eyes in disgust by the mere mention of that “p” word, but really, in this situation, there’s no other word to properly describe just how over-bloated the show got towards its climax.
There’s nothing wrong with creators trying to be overly-ambitious but when the foundation is built on poorly realized concepts and unexplained in-world mechanics, the end result will inevitably suffer as a result. A perfectly serviceable action-romp was thrown away for the sake of ambiguity and pseudo-concepts. And if you’re expecting the 2nd season to fill in the gaps, all you’ll get there is a super loli, a raging alcoholic and talking squirrel, so don’t hold your breath.
**You know what goes well with this review? A nice hot box of PIZZA HUT!**
The stylistic direction of DTB was very western influenced. I wasn’t kidding when I made the Gotham/x-men hybrid comparison. From the murky hues to character designs akin to that of DC Comics’ cartoon installments, DTB’s universe could easily crossover with a Justice League spin-off with very little problem. Like many other animated works, during the show’s downtime, there wasn’t much to credit the show for presentation-wise, but when the action sequences happen, it truly becomes blood pumping roller-coaster ride. And when placed side by side with other shows made in the same year, it truly was a cut above the rest. The only major hindrance that reared its ugly head was the occasional usage of CGI… also Pizza Hut ads, lots, and lots of Pizza Hut ads. I’ve counted no less than 17 ads while viewing the show (Code Geass has nothing on this). So take that for what you will.
The soundtrack was a mixture of new-school jazz, funk, and blues, along the lines of other western influenced anime such as Baccano! and Cowboy Bebop. This nice blend help contributed to the show’s overall atmosphere, giving it character. Of course, it has its somber tracks as well but the ones that stood out were the aforementioned. The songs never outplay the corresponding scenes on screen but work in unison with them. There’s a chemistry there that couples the visuals with the audio wonderfully. All the voice actors performed their roles with no noticeable hiccups, with this being one of the premier examples of an English dubbed cast trumping its Japanese counterpart. It’s not going to be the “best dub ever” but it certainly gets the job done.
Now, what barely got the job done, however, was the characters themselves.
You know you have a problem when the show’s cat has more of a personality than the people in it.
The cast was crippled by the show’s premise. Since contractors and dolls alike are devoid of irrational feelings and have no moral compass outside of calculated thought, it doesn’t leave room for any kind of development or growth (or personality, for that matter). The most DTB can do was to flesh them out with a backstory but other than that, they remained one-note from beginning to end. Despite this flaw, one redeeming quality was that most of the adult characters were handled with some semblance of maturity. Of course, that doesn’t negate the lack of characterization but it certainly helps to make them feel more grounded.. well… for the most part anyway, as they do occasionally toss in a bit of misplaced comedic moments in a similar fashion to how shows like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood attempted something similar.
To add more life to these emotionally stilted characters, the show resorted to victimizing them, with either the inclusion of a sad backstory or having them be discriminated against because of their abnormal abilities (similar to the way x-men approached the subject matter). It’s passable drama but only to a certain extent and can be seen as forceful by seasoned viewers.
Due to the semi-episodic structure, there’s a lot of characters introduced. I’ll only go over the three main ones we follow.
Our main protagonist is a man of little words and little personality as well, given his position as a “contractor.” in the show’s canon. When remnants of his past and personal life are conjured up by others, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s more to him beyond his stoic demeanor. But despite that, these brief glimpses of humanity in him are still lacking, thanks in no small part to the short emotional leash the anime forces him to wear. When in public, he masquerades as a bashful mild-mannered person, playing off the “nice guy” gimmick similar to other characters like Himura from Rurouni Kenshin and Vash from Trigun. It’s only when he’s tasked with a mission that his electric Batman persona reveals itself. His sole purpose is to be that of the iconic badass that kicks ass and takes names. And with little else expected from him, it’s always fun to see him do just that. But of course, like the plot that went from a simple action-romp to a contrived metaphysical mess, the show’s ending brought with it an unneeded plot twist that negated all the fun that Hei brought to the table.
On a side-note, it seems like lacking emotion leaves more room for an appetite since Hei can guzzle down a crap ton of food with as much proficiency as a battle shounen protagonist. But enough about Hei, time to discuss my personal favorite from the bunch, Huang.
Huang, to put it simply, is your hard-ass. The kind of guy you’ll come across with the gravely voice and no bullshit attitude that borders on pigheadedness. He doesn’t take shit from anyone. It’s made quite clear that he’s discriminatory towards Contractors and Dolls. This, of course, was later explained with his stand-alone backstory. Although he’s simply a human and not tied to the “no irrational emotion” crutch of the show’s premise, he too lacks any further growth. He’s your archetypal mobster type and given his disdain for Contractors, you often see him butting heads with Hei. Despite that, he’s the most maturely handled character in the group and perhaps the only one with actual characterization. He’s the closest thing to a character with actual depth in the show; a man hardened by his line of work and unfortunate past. This was shown through his business decorum, as he approaches every situation with a veteran-like decorum. And as he stood, Huang was the backbone of this anime’s success. Constantly working in the background to get shit done.
And now that we’ve covered the show’s cool mobster, time to talk about the Great Value knock-off brand of Rei Ayanami, Yin.
Yin was essentially the bootleg version of the “Rei Ayanami” archetype and with that said, there isn’t much of a personality to speak of. She was appropriately classified as a doll (as she has the personality of one) and the only information needed to be known about her is that she’s the eyes and ears of Hei, as her power allows her to see anywhere around the city where a pool of water is collected. Of course, she was eventually given a proper backstory episode dedicated towards her later on, but even that didn’t do much to flesh her out as an individual and eventually became null and void after her moment in the limelight was over. But since this series is known for saying “fuck a plot,” even her involvement became more convoluted in later installments. But until you venture that far in, just enjoy her for her simplicity.
There are a few other recurring characters in the show, like a private detective named Gai Kurasawa, a man who shares a striking resemblance, job, and characteristic to Kuruma Jo, from 1975’s Hurricane Polymar. But seeing that no one even knows of that anime’s existence, I digress.
Another recurring side character worth addressing includes Misaki, who was your level-headed detective, and unlike most of the other side characters, she actually received a few episodes dedicated to fleshing her out. Not anything too compelling but enough to properly define her. She plays a bigger role by being a proxy for the viewers to see both sides of the growing conflict in the show. For all intents and purposes, she’s basically a fleshed out plot-device.
Despite a lack of any true development or proper characterization, as a collective, the cast was a lot of fun to watch. A case where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Just don’t expect anything profound out of them. And in a way, that’s the best way to describe this show, in a nutshell: fun but nothing beyond that.
Darker than Black is like a smorgasbord, you simply pick whatever suits your fancy and discard anything that doesn’t. As for me, I took away the cool ass fights and audiovisual treats. Your appetite as a viewer may allow for more, so depending on your taste and tolerance for certain things, this might be a buffet that you find yourself fully indulging in.
Despite my issues with the plot and contrive narrative threads brought up later on, I can’t deny how much I enjoyed watching electric Batman kick the crap out of baddies in the dark alleyways of the city. Call it mindless violence if you will, but it was done with so much style and ease that I found myself taking in every moment of it. DTB was a bitter pill to swallow at times but when it came to the action, it delivered on a silver platter.
Throughout the years, DTB has garnered a sizable fan-base, staying relevant in many anime-centric discussion circles and to a certain extent, I can understand why. As far as rule-of-cool shows goes, DTB excels, but due to the issues I discussed, I can only recommend it to those who simply want a nice action flick. With that said, the lower you set your expectations, the greater your enjoyment of this title would be. It’s not a show I’ll ever advocate for but at the same time, I’ll still give it the greenlight for others curious enough to want to check it out.
**BTW you’re probably tired from all that reading.. you should treat yourself to Pizza Hut……PIZZZA HUTTTT!!!**
6: Mobile Suit Gundam 00
English: Mobile Suit Gundam 00
MAL Score: 8.13
In the distant future, mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels will lead to their complete depletion, an energy crisis unlike anything the world witnessed. Out of retaliation and fear, humanity began focusing at an alternative source of energy: solar power. Different nations have united together to form three major factions—the Union of Solar Energy and Free Nations, the Advanced European Union, and the Human Reform League. Each of these sectors has access to a solar power generator, which gives them limitless energy.
As a result, countries that were once dependent on the sale of fossil fuels are now plunged in poverty, leading to years of warfare and internal strife over the control of solar energy. Amid this chaos, an unknown paramilitary organization appeared identifying themselves as “Celestial Being,” aspire to end all warfare through armed intervention by using mysterious and technologically advanced Mobile Suits known as Gundams.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 follows the story of Celestial Being’s Gundam Meisters Setsuna F. Seiei, Lockon Stratos, Allelujah Haptism, and Tieria Erde. These four dive into the devastating battle between the three superpowers to accomplish their goal of changing the world.
I haven’t seen any of the previous Gundams, I knew about them of course, but never actually sat down and watched them. Partly because 00 had a more sleek art style and partly because the instant contradictions within the plot and characters intrigued me.
This review may contain hints of spoilers, but nothing explicit and flat out.
STORY- The story is political, to say the least. Because this is the first season, there’s a lot of focus on why things are the way they are, the factions and their goals, observing them discuss, ect. I admit it’s a little hard to keep up with sometimes once you feel it start to drone on. Thankfully, it’s not that long, and just long enough to get the point across. What interested me the most was a point that was shown through the relationship between Setsuna and Marina. Celestial Being is trying to eradicate war, as they say, but they are fighting to do that. That itself is a huge contradiction, one that isn’t ignored by the characters themselves. Setsuna in particular I remember musing over it. Marina on the other hand seeks peace, creating a good-hearted light of hope in all of the violence. The whole thing is very realistic and that was a drawing point. This isn’t an alternate universe, this is a version of an imagined future.
ART- Again I’ll say it, the sleek art is what drew me the most to 00. I’d seen the previous gundams, but never watched them because the designs nor the style caught me. The character designs themselves are very nice. A crazy crayola crayon box, but nice. Mobile animations and designs were done very fluidly and detailed. If anything, it’s not an ugly show to watch at all. It’s not full of big eyed girls with moe attitudes, there’s a varied female design throughout. Same could be said for the males. While the girl designs feel more futuristic, the boys somehow feel more earthy to me. Still- that’s just me.
SOUND- No one’s tracked how many times I’ve raved about 00’s OP and EDs. They are the absolute best I’ve ever seen. The lyrics, the accompanying animation and the whole exhibition of it is produced beautifully. I’m one of those people who normally skip over OPs after so long and never really watch EDs, but every single time I watched both in 00. The soundtrack in itself isn’t very noticeable nor memorable, though that didn’t bother me much. I was too preoccupied with the OPs and EDs still, because I can’t imagine such a string of beauty throughout a whole anime season for anything other than 00.
CHARACTER- This is the point I have to strongly fight that bias. The hugest thing that kept me watching the series was the characters, who I found a relief from all the others that seem to be popping up. The relationships between them, the backgrounds… learning about the characters was a bit slow paced, but rewarding all the same. None of the meisters have had easy pasts. Allelujah finds himself fighting with a split personality from experimentation. Setsuna gained his cold and unaffectionate demeanor from his life as a child soldier. Tieria, an exceptionally mysterious character, isn’t what you’d call fully human. Then even the guy who would light up the room with his smile, Lockon, carried a hatred for terrorists within his heart that clouded his judgement.
All of them bond. All of them grow closer without saying anything. Lockon in particular is to thank for these growths, because he is truly the shining light of the show. The one who unites all the others, smiling to help them grow. It’s hard not to become attached to his magnetic personality, like him or hate him. Then there are the more minor parts of CB, including a socially awkward young girl who doesn’t know how to express herself to people and finds solace in robotics, an alcoholic strategic who never misses a chance to have a drink, a friendly young adult woman who, despite the dreariness she’s surrounded with, manages to keep an upbeat and sociable attitude.
And of course there are the antagonists, as well as everyone else. It’s quite a cast. The Trinity siblings I felt, didn’t get nearly enough screen time, being introduced more than ten episodes into the series, but they were dynamic. They shook up things wherever they went, and were nothing but a joy to see. Never dull. Nena Trinity, the youngest, does an excessively violent act late in the season that truly exhibits the sibling’s ruthlessness. The antagonists were intriguing, but they too, I wished had more screen time to really let the viewers get a better feel. All the relationships were so complicated- it made the two civilians, Saji and Louise, stand out like a sore thumb in the cast. Very fun comic relief and a chance to see what’s happening through a civilian’s point of view. Ultimately, while the two may not seem important, gradually they gain almost the most character development throughout the cast, surprisingly enough.
ENJOYMENT AND OVERALL- If you can sit through some politics, enjoy having your morals questioned and are willing to keep an open mind, it’s a fantastic series and I recommend it. As many have said- it’s an excellent gundam series to start off with.
The premise of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 focuses on the paramilitary organization/force known as Celestial Being, and their idealistic goal towards eradicating war through violence itself. Much like fighting fire with fire, the controversial goal of Celestial Being is embodied through mobile suits known as "Gundams" and their armed interventions.
Pitting a paramilitary force and its overpowered mobile suits against the world, you basically get a massive serving of shiny mech to mech action. Not exactly the most innovative. The story’s essentially set up so the show can have as many mobile suit battles as possible; and frankly, that isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s toppled with good characters and drama. It’s a decent story, but it’s lacking some of the military aspects that Gundam is known for.
Besides the main story, there’s also a subplot involving two characters named Saji and Louise. Their purpose is to basically show the viewer the civilian standpoint of Celestial Being’s fight against the world’s three superpowers. Which is probably the show’s only source of slight comic relief and lightheartedness.
Art and Animation
The character designs of the four main Meisters are all quite well done. Much like Gundam Wing, the main characters are all pretty boys. Besides the main characters, we also have our blonde antagonist Graham whose appearance all-around gives the vibe of an ace pilot. Female designs are also done very well, such as Marina, who, though young, gives off a very motherly appearance; a very important aspect regarding her role in the plot.
The Mecha designs of Gundam 00 is very unique in that they’re not rehashes of mobile suits from previous series. Gundam Exia (AKA the main main Gundam) offers a very simplistic and futuristic design; in fact, that goes to all the other mobile suit designs in this series. So unlike the Strike Freedom, the Gundams don’t have a million things on their backs and enemies don’t look overdone as if they were meant to sell model kits. The Mecha designs in 00 are, in my opinion, some of the best in the Gundam metaseries.
The animation in this series is absolutely stunning. You wouldn’t find a prettier anime on this planet. Gundam 00 contains some of the most fluid Mecha action I’ve ever seen. The likes only rivaled by another Sunrise mech, Code Geass R2. Everything in this series is animation gold, from the shading and facial expressions of characters to the GN drive emitting particles from the Gundams. It should be noted that there are some minor slip-ups, but they’re passable and like mentioned, minor.
The sound (speaking of music, not sound effects) in 00 is probably the weakest part of the entire series. This is one of the few things that its predecessor, SEED, is by far superior in. The soundtrack isn’t necessarily bad, it just doesn’t bring out the mood as effectively as it should. Though there are some great background music such as Fight, Counterattack, and Union.
The OP’s and ED’s on the otherhand are fantastic. Unlike SEED, new openings use different animation and things are actually MOVING and isn’t a slideshow of pictures.
The characters in Gundam 00 are.. interesting. Can’t say the score eight is definite as the second season hasn’t aired yet. But judging solely on the first season, the characters are all quite reserved if not emotionless. Setsuna, being the main character, has a very interesting if not bloody background to him. Tieria is mysterious and strict, Allelujah is a character struggling with his mind, and Lockon is easygoing and likable, though he harnesses a deep hatred towards terrorists.
Other characters include the Char-like ace pilot Graham, war-loving Ali Al Saachez, and Human Reform League veteran soldier Sergei Smirnov.
The cast in general is a good cast, the characters aren’t anything we haven’t seen in Gundam before, but maybe that’s a good thing.
It’s an enjoyable series, especially towards the end. The Mecha action will glue you to the screen, the characters will make you empathize, and old time Gundam fans will have fun comparing it to Wing and/or finding the Char clone. The show also carries the ‘Kill em all’ kind of ending done by Director Yoshiyuki Tomino, something UC fans may fancy.
Gundam 00 is by no means a deep show, it’s the Gundam you know and love, with the usual war themes and ideology; all wrapped up in HD goodness. For newcomers, Gundam 00 is a fantastic introduction to the franchise. All-around it’s a solid show. Gundam 00 proves once again how sitting in a cockpit while shouting out morals and personal philosophies is a win-win formula even after almost thirty years since its debut.
General impression, summary, and thoughts:
Story: B+ : A storyline you would expect from a mecha geared towards the Shounen demographic.
Art & Animation: A+ : Good interesting mecha and character designs, fluid mecha action.
Sound: B : Weak, forgettable.
Character: B+ : The characters are there, they get developed but overall it’s more plot-driven.
Overall: B+ : Another solid installment to the Gundam franchise, a promising ending setting up for the second season.
STORY – Sometimes, it’s easy to become jaded with the Gundam franchise; it’s always another war and another group of over-powered mechs piloted by super-capable teenagers. Each series seems to have its own unique set of deviations though, and that’s undoubtedly why the franchise has survived for as long as it has. In 00’s case, it’s interesting to note that there’s no clear-cut war between two factions. The world’s existing conflicts are a mix of terrorism, civil war, and totalitarian oppression. Though morals are still cited a lot, there’s no clear-cut definition of "good" or "evil," and our protagonists admit up front that they aren’t necessarily "good." Some of the politics are eerily similar to some real life current events, but it wasn’t clear enough to me whether they were actually trying to make a statement about something or whether it was mostly coincidence. There are also some religious and environmental messages tossed into the mix, but again, not sure if any of it was supposed to be legitimate commentary. If anything though, Sunrise plays good politics.
Our protagonists, the paramilitary organization Celestial Being, declares its purpose to be the eradication of all war, and it aims to do so by intervening with all armed conflicts with their over-powered Gundams… and that’s where the ground starts getting shaky. I never really thought the "war to end all wars" thing had much logic to it, but I can still enjoy a show with that sentiment at its core if the storytelling is all right and if events still seem to unfold logically. But Celestial Being was founded two hundred years prior to the events of the series, and all of their technology was developed then. And yet somehow, they are still mad over-powering against armies built on recent technology? Seriously? Realism does not compute. It’s frustrating that not a lot is ever said/explained/discovered about the organization’s origins throughout the course of the series, and I really don’t understand the need for 00 to be split into two seasons. I don’t buy that it’s just the four year timeskip because Gurren Lagann proved that you could have a hugely significant timeskip mid-series no problem.
For the record, I hated the ending of this first season. It goes along fine for a while, but then we get this supremely rushed-feeling, arbitrary, and cobbled-together series of events that seemed to serve little purpose beyond hitting some sort of end-point for the season. And the thing I hate the most about Sunrise? Faked character deaths. Zombie characters. They’re notorious for it, yes. No body means no death in Sunrise, but knowing this doesn’t make it any less infuriating every time they do it. The Zombie problem alone made me disinclined to care about the second season, especially since I felt like they could have legitimately ended the series at 25 episodes if they had cut out a thus far pointless subplot and replaced it with relevant information about Celestial Being. Oh, Sunrise…
CHARACTER – Ensemble casts always wrestle with the problem of underdeveloped characters, and this is especially problematic in 00. It took me a really long time (probably at least ten episodes, which is way too long) to get into the characters and to care about them, and even then, my interest was limited. Of the four pilots, Setsuna’s past is expanded upon the most, and I found it interesting the way the viewers’ perception of him changed the more we learned even though Setsuna himself doesn’t start to grow/change much until the near-end of the season. Allelujah’s character and past isn’t terribly inspired, but I think the acting really helped to garner audience sympathy to his case, and I liked the way his split personality was portrayed through reflections.
Lockon probably has the most terrible name pun ever (though H/Allelujah is pretty bad too), but I can live knowing that it’s only a code name. That aside, he was probably the most generic of the pilots. Easy-going, friendly, righteous, and all that. Nothing special…except that his Haro is probably the most ridiculously adorable incarnation of a Haro ever. I also really appreciated the fact that there was some age disparity between the pilots. Setsuna is sixteen. Lockon is twenty-four. Everyone isn’t a fifteen year-old kid! Oh, and Tieria? We never learn anything about Tieria, so I didn’t really care about him at all. Sure, there’s a whole ‘nother season to explain things in, but I shouldn’t need to wait that long to care. It’s always a problem if I don’t care about the characters.
The other characters… ugh, there are just too many of them, and I didn’t care about any of them. There were too many characters trying to play puppetmaster and making brief, unexplained appearances every few episodes, and none of them seem to have an interesting motivation or ambition. I am tired of characters trying to take over the world, and I’m sure you are too. Even Celestial Being’s founder felt like he was trying to force the world into something… Marina Ismail? She was generic to the point that I had no sympathy for her for that reason alone. Graham Akre? I don’t care about your vengeance-driving bullshit. Ali Al-Saachez? Don’t care. Super Soldier #1? Whatever. The worst of it was the gigantic subplot involving the civilian characters. Their scenes were awkwardly woven into the politics, morals, and action, and I was thoroughly annoyed with all of it. Most likely, this subplot will lead up to something that (might hopefully kind of) be relevant in the second season, but that’s too long of a build-up for me.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – The animation in 00 is pretty top notch. The mecha battles are slick, clean, and super entertaining to watch. The Gundam designs are fun and unique, and I’m especially fond of Exia (come on, anything with seven blades has to be badass). The other mech designs, as well as the battleship designs, are also pretty neat.
Unfortunately, I found the character designs to be a bit lacking. Aside from Tieria’s overt androgyny, I appreciated that they didn’t have crazy wild appearances, and it is neat that many of the characters are supposed to be of different nationalities, but in the end, it’s just supposing. If they never mentioned that Lockon is Irish, that Setsuna is Kurdish, that Saji is Japanese, you’d never know. Especially among the female characters, I felt like I’d seen them all before. Generic political figures, generic princesses, generic prettyboys. It didn’t help that I had a hard time distinguishing some characters from others for a good five or six episodes; blame it on my own crappy memory and incompetence, but even so.
MUSIC – Well, I’m pretty biased towards both opening themes for 00. As a L’Arc~en~Ciel fan, I loved "Daybreak’s Bell" long before I ever saw this series, and as I’m currently on a Tomoko Kawase kick thanks to Soul Eater’s second opening, I’ve come to really love "Ash Like Snow" as well. They’re both great songs though, and I always love when the lyrics feel relevant to the actual series. The end themes didn’t feel as exciting in contrast, but once again, it could just be my bias towards the two bands doing the openings. (Actually, I found the first end theme, "Wana," to be pretty annoying…)
The background music for the series pales in contrast to its theme songs, as well as previous Gundam series like SEED, and other Sunrise mecha series like Code Geass. Very few tracks stood out to me during the series; the few that did were generally battle themes, but even those were pretty subpar. It wasn’t terrible music, so it didn’t really take away from the experience, but I’m sure a lot of scenes would have been better had there been a more emotional or meaningful soundtrack.
VOICE ACTING – Pretty average for the most part. Allelujah has a very unique-sounding and emotional voice; I think that’s one of the reasons I warmed up to his character, and Setsuna was interesting in that he’s one of the first monotone-voiced characters that didn’t seriously annoy me. I appreciate the versatility of Miyano’s voice — it’s very easy to distinguish his many roles. Beyond that, none of the other characters really stood out to me. Nothing amazing, but each character had a voice that suited them perfectly well.
Edit; I saw one episode of the English dub (episode #11). Overall, it was pretty lulz-worthy. Tieria and Lockon both sound better than I expected, but they still feel awkward and unnatural, particularly Tieria, though I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that many of his lines are kind of corny. Setsuna didn’t have a very big role in the episode, but the few lines he did have also impressed me. Swalie’s voice is much more versatile than I thought. Cox on the other hand… Allelujah sounds terrible. The voice doesn’t suit him at all and really made him seem like an entirely different character. Hallelujah is passable, but Allelujah fails utterly. Much of the secondary cast feels just as awkward, sadly: both Graham Akre and Billy Katagiri are very lulzy; Feldt and Marina are super generic, as are Col. Smirnoff and Soma; Sumeragi is actually pretty okay, but it can’t be hard to sound "okay" when everyone else is just so… wtf. I don’t think I’ll be watching any more of the dub. The "sound" score component is not affected by the dub.
OVERALL – I think this review might have turned out a bit more negative than I intended just because I’m still annoyed with the season’s ending. You might wonder what I actually liked about 00. Well, I enjoyed the story and main conflict for the most part. It’s always good to see a blurring of good and evil, especially when characters try so hard to convince themselves that they’re doing the right thing. If I could score this series somewhere between a 7 and an 8, I would. 7 feels a bit harsh, but 8 feels too generous. I think 00’s main problem is just that there are too many little details to the plot and few of them are explained properly; similarly, there are too many characters, and none of them get the attention they deserve. The intense build-up for the second season leaves this first season pretty void of substance, which is really disappointing. If you’re going to divide up your forces, divide them evenly, huh?
I’ll see how this second season goes though, but Zombie characters isn’t a really great place to start if you ask me.
5: Seirei no Moribito
English: Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit
MAL Score: 8.16
On the precipice of a cataclysmic drought, the Star Readers of the Shin Yogo Empire must devise a plan to avoid widespread famine. It is written in ancient myths that the first emperor, along with eight warriors, slew a water demon to avoid a great drought and save the land that was to become Shin Yogo. If a water demon was to appear once more, its death could bring salvation. However, the water demon manifests itself within the body of the emperor’s son, Prince Chagum—by the emperor’s order, Chagum is to be sacrificed to save the empire.
Meanwhile, a mysterious spear-wielding mercenary named Balsa arrives in Shin Yogo on business. After saving Chagum from a thinly veiled assassination attempt, she is tasked by Chagum’s mother to protect him from the emperor and his hunters. Bound by a sacred vow she once made, Balsa accepts.
Seirei no Moribito follows Balsa as she embarks on her journey to protect Chagum, exploring the beauty of life, nature, family, and the bonds that form between strangers.
Seirei no Moribito has some of the smoothest and most fluid animation of any anime produced over the last few years. Production I.G. managed to produce one of the best looking anime of 2007, and with it, managed to introduce one of the most unique and interesting female leads in anime.
The colour palette is very “Ghibli-esque” as it mainly uses greens, browns, blues, etc, but Production I.G. has made good use of them for the characters and environements, and the overall effect gives the show a feeling more reminiscent of “Monoke Hime” or “Gedo Senki” than anything else.
Character designs are exceptional throughout the show, most especially the main and immediate supporting characters. Balsa is exceptionally well designed, and far more realistic than many other fantasy female leads. Her character is fairly muscular and stocky, yet without the extremely toned muscles shown in most other fantasies. Facially too, the designers went for realism more than anything else. Balsa is not beautiful, but not ugly either. She’s plain (in a sense), and is most definitely a woman, not a girl.
The other characters are also designed very much with realism in mind, and this actually helps to pull the viewer into the show in a big way. It’s also nice to see that attention was paid to the animals in the show as well, and it makes a nice change to see a horse in anime that actually looks like a real horse.
One thing that should be mentioned here is the design influences. Many people relate thise series to China and Japan because of the very obvious visual references to those countries (i.e. the palace, the emperor, the ninjas, etc), however this is really only a small part of the whole. In truth, Seirei no Moribito isn’t simply based on China and Japan, but is actually based on the greater Indo-Chinese region. This is reflected in the differing facial structures, customs, practices, etc, that are seen in the show. Balsa and Jiguro are originally from Kanbal, a country that shows a number of elements of Northern India/ Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet. This influence also extends to Balsa and Jiguro’s fighting style, which is very different to that of the stories other combatants. The backgounds, still scenes, the rural settings, even the mountainous regions and jungles, are very clearly based on a region of South-East Asia stretching from India to Japan, and it’s a rarity to find this kind of scope or depth of detail in anime.
The animation quality throughout the show never really lets up, and the action sequences are especially impressive. The fights are swift and well executed, and the movements of the combatants is especially impressive during the action scenes. Production I.G. have also paid attention to the different combat styles used in the show as well, and have managed to include these in the animation, which gives the fights a far more “authentic” feel.
Each episode opens with a very nice, and rather catchy, J-rock/pop ballad called “Shine”, which was performed by L’Arc-en-Ciel but never released as a single. The rest of the music in the show (composed by the famous Kawai Kenji), adds to the atmosphere and overall feel of the show. The dramatic moments, fights, and even the slow-paced scenes are all emphasized with some great background music.
The sound effects are exceptional in this show, especially as this is more of a “historical” fantasy. The background noises, the grunts, clucks, whinnies, and other noises of the various animals, the clash of steel on steel, etc, breathe life into the series, and makes the setting that much more “real”.
It goes without saying that the star of the show is Balsa, the spear wielding warrior woman, and Balsa, as a character, is one of the strongest and most unique female leads in any anime. She is muscular and stocky, possess many skills (not the least of which is her formidable fighting ability), has a strong sense of right and wrong, is very rarely indecisive, and is sensible in many ways. As I’ve said earlier, Balsa is no beauty, and this again sets her apart from many other female leads, as the designers generally try to make lead women in anime “attractive” to male audiences.
Chagum, on the other hand, is exactly how you would expect a young prince to be, but without the arrogance (which makes a nice change). What makes this series really work though, is the attention to character development that both Balsa and Chagum receive, and how, as each of them develops, their relationship with each other changes.
There are several other characters who appear throughout the series (Tanda, Touya, Saya, Jiguro, etc), all of whom receive a certain amount of development because of their association with Balsa. The nice thing about the development of the supporting characters is that it is often directly linked to the development of either Balsa or Chagum, or both in some cases. This is most especially true in the case of Jiguro, who was Balsa’s guardian and mentor as a child, and is the one who taught her how to fight with a spear. The various references and flashbacks to this character slowly begin to make sense as the series progresses, and with this clarity it is possible to understand Balsa’s character even more.
There is a downside to the characters though, in that there are other characters who receive little to no development. In addition to that, the characters who do receive development rarely get it continuously. Strangely enough though, this does very little to impact on the story or the viewers enjoyment of the show.
The story is actually a nice role reversal of the typical “rescue the princess” scenario and, although it’s meant to be a serious fantasy action drama, there are some genuinely humourous moments.
The story flows at a nice steady pace throughout the series, and although it does slow down from time to time, these are effectively the times when the majority of the character development happens. The premise was good on the whole, and although the story at times seems more like stock fantasy, there are enough differences, as well as some great character development, sound and animation, to make watching this a worthwhile experience.
This isn’t a light-hearted series, but it also doesn’t become overly dramatic. It doesn’t focus so much on action that it gives up areas of the story, and it never lets the story become so bland that you get bored of watching. It’s an interesting show to watch and the pacing of the show, as well as the slow delve into Balsa’s past, serve to ensure that you keep watching.
Although the plot may be simplistic at times, this isn’t really a show that suffers from it, especially as the show itself is more character driven than anything else. The main focus of the show, from beginning to end, are the characters. This is emphasized by the fact that the action and drama clearly take second place to each of the characters.
Overall I’d recommend this show to any Ghibli fan, and also to anyone who like shows like Claymore, Slayers, or even Rurouni Kenshin or Sword of the Stranger. It’s an extremely enjoyable example of how good a fantasy series can get if you do it right, and because of it’s characters, it will appeal to fans of many different genres.
The element of Seirei no Moribito that most screams for attention is its stunning production, and here is where my faith in Kamiyama is affirmed. The entire series has maintained an unprecedented quality of art and animation. It has the look and feel of a (good) movie, with a sweeping cinematic mode of directing that befits the stories’ expansive fantasy world, and stunningly realised landscapes that bring the show to life. More so than in any other anime I can recall, the background art in Seirei no Moribito left a profound impression on me – this could well be the finest example of background art in anime, not just for its level of detail, but for the way it is used to enhance the atmosphere of the show and draw the viewer in to its vibrant and striking settings. On top of this, the cel animation, while it could quite easily have been blessed with a higher level of detail to match its surroundings, is amazingly fluid and vital when it needs to be. The use of cel-shaded CG has been popularised among IG’s producers it seems, and it’s generally put to good use in Seirei, to animate hordes of extras in scenes such as in the towns, or when the palace assembles its army. This means that these scenes are bought to life in a way that would otherwise not be possible with a tv anime budget, successfully avoiding the common anime trap of either having a surprising absence of people in the background, or have large crowds of people inexplicably still. Unfortunately, it sticks out a bit too much on a number of occasions, providing a nagging distraction.
I think this show’s production also excels in a way that people generally don’t give credit for, and that is the expertise with which it is directed – Kenji Kamiyama’s style of directing is a subtle yet effective one. Unlike the in-your-face stylistic shots of Akiyuki Shinbo’s work (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Tsukuyomi MoonPhase, Petite Cossette), Kamiyama has presented this series in a conventional yet fresh manner. The fight sequences, particularly those in the third episode, exemplify this, where the use of camera angles serves to make the fight more engaging while not drawing from the choreography. The wide and distant shots used in and around the palace are excellent at creating its cold, detached atmosphere, and the overall choice of shots is amazingly good at highlighting the show’s beautiful scenery. As he did with his directing work on Gits SAC, Kamiyama has created a visually captivating series.
The music was a surprising achievement from the veteran, Kenji Kawai, whose scores I generally find bland and uninspired. I’m not sure why this anime marked such a great deviation from his usual standards, but the music in Seirei no Moribito is a really crucial contributor to its dramatic impact – from the urgent and threatening battle theme, to the quiet and hauntingly evocative tracks, the music delivers in every respect. I’m shocked to say that his work here was more compelling than much of Yoko Kanno’s recent work, and he wasn’t even creating music with real instruments. Fitting with the visual style of the show, the score music is very much produced in a traditional cinematic way, which does this show justice.
Unfortunately, the show’s content fails to live up to its gloss, and I think this is mainly a failure of the pacing of the script rather than of the story itself (which comes from a novel series). The bare plot is an accomplished exploration of life and adulthood, and of the connection between humanity and nature. It is set in a fantasy world, but at its core it depicts a very down-to-earth, human ordeal. Fortunately, the intricacies and depth to the characters and their relationships is well incorporated into the show – the connection formed between Balsa and Chagum gives the show most of its emotional weight. The other thing that I found to be well written is the development of Chagum himself, as he is torn from his palace life and forced to experience life and shoulder responsibility. It is satisfying to see him grow as a person as the show progresses. Perhaps the egg inside of him is a parallel to his rearing into adulthood. The problem lies in the amount of time the show takes to achieve this development, and in the unsatisfying climax.
My appreciation of a good story stems from its sense of direction toward a climax that brings together all of the crucial plot threads from throughout the show and culminates them in a burst of excitement of drama that pays off the time the viewer has spent watching it develop. Instead, the big event that the show had supposedly been leading up to was a rushed affair with a surprising lack of tension or emotional potency. The show did not have any filler per se, but by the time the conclusion was wrapped up I felt that a lot of the show’s time was poorly spent on redundant subtleties of its character development. The trailer gave a very different impression to what was delivered. Balsa and Chagum living together was nice a pleasant affair, but it lacked a sense of tension or danger that ultimately dragged down the middle of the show. The exploration of Balsa’s character was far too spontaneous and vague for my liking. I did get a strong sense of her character from her actions throughout the show, but I really think she had a lot more potential and that we were never given the kind of insight into her that was frequently hinted at.
All in all, this show left me feeling unsatisfied, like being left hungry after a serving of fine food. The show is of undeniable quality; however the writers behind it failed to capitalise on its full potential, through sloppy pacing that made its stand-out moments seem like a tease, and through its inability to deliver a conclusion that sends off the show at its peak. I recommend this show to anyone with an ounce of patience, as the subtle development of the characters and their companionship is ultimately its most rewarding component. I think this show also succeeds in its fantasy elements – its portrayal of two intersecting worlds is fascinating. Don’t go into this series expecting non-stop, heart-pounding action, because it’s a laidback show about the endearing strength of the human spirit with only intermittent bursts of excitement.
The animation for this show was superb all the way through, which is nice for a TV anime. Each episode looked gorgeous, so I liked the consistency. The unique alternate fantasy setting and protagonist of this series were a nice departure from anime convention.
The main character is a wandering thirty year old spear-wielding woman who bodyguards people for a living. She basically ends up as a guardian of a prince who’s possessed by a water spirit. His father, the emperor, orders his death to save the land from a drought, and thus the being-on-the-run-from-awesome-assassins template begins.
The assassins are awesome in this case simply because they get time to develop as characters. Not as much as the main characters, but still depicted as a cohesive unit of honourable and professional men, as opposed to remaining faceless goons who obey orders like automatons. Balsa is usually one step ahead of them but they’re hot on her heels for most of the anime and this is due to their skill and cunning, not stupid errors on Balsa’s behalf.
This characterization extends to the land most of the story is set in, so you are actually concerned about the impending doom, as opposed to many other generic anime where you really couldn’t care less.
The story is laden with feeling. Episode 17 for example has one of the most touching moments I’ve ever seen in anime, its a very brief sequence but it really put a lump in my throat. But what follows is even more emotional, with Balsa’s back story and the inevitable climax…there are really amazing moments spread out through the story, where in any other anime they would be mishandled, but in this production they hit all the right beats. I was teary eyed many a time I’m not ashamed to admit.
Seirei no Moribito has a very well written story, great direction and fantastic fight scenes, while bravely eschewing most anime narrative clichés as best as it can for 26 episodes. It does this because its adapted from a fantasy novel, and I hope they adapt the rest of the books in the series.
Its a testament to everyone involved in this production, from the writer to the animators, that a story can be so epic and yet not even have a typical antagonist. In fact it wouldnt be too far off to say that we dont really see a villain in Seirei no Moribito. Yet the conflict and drama is monumental, which makes it all the more remarkable. Sure there are characters you wouldnt want to have tea with, but the anime steers clear of generic cliches, there’s no black and white good versus bad plot, no easy resolution to everyone’s troubles.
Seirei no Moribito charts a rites of passage, a life-altering journey, the symbiotic relationship between man and nature. The characters struggle, they run and ultimately have to face their destiny head on. It’s inspiring. Why? Because the anime never talks down to the viewer, because it retains its dignity, it doesnt follow the trends of today, it sticks to the source material as best as it can.
The only bad thing I can say about this show is that the beginning credits sequence is bland and the song is too, but then I don’t like L’arc-en-ciel at all. The short sequence halfway through each episode signalling an advert break is very cool though, it slowly charts the birth of the water spirit.
If you like the medium of anime at all, you must watch this. If you’re looking for tons of action, you’ll be disappointed because this has a story to tell, and it will tell it in its own pace designed to develop characters, and yet it still has some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen in my life. If you have any taste at all, you’ll enjoy this masterful example of Production I.G’s contribution to anime.
4: Naruto: Shippuuden
English: Naruto: Shippuden
Japanese: ナルト- 疾風伝
MAL Score: 8.21
It has been two and a half years since Naruto Uzumaki left Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, for intense training following events which fueled his desire to be stronger. Now Akatsuki, the mysterious organization of elite rogue ninja, is closing in on their grand plan which may threaten the safety of the entire shinobi world.
Although Naruto is older and sinister events loom on the horizon, he has changed little in personality—still rambunctious and childish—though he is now far more confident and possesses an even greater determination to protect his friends and home. Come whatever may, Naruto will carry on with the fight for what is important to him, even at the expense of his own body, in the continuation of the saga about the boy who wishes to become Hokage.
Naruto Shippuden : Review |
Naruto. The series that sold over 220 million manga copies, winning handful of awards along the way. An anime that ranked as one of the most watched series in Japan that got tarnished by a greedy studio and has received tons of internet backlash throughout the years.
Let me start off by saying Naruto is by no means a flawless anime. It’s the exact opposite. The series had too many fillers. Sometimes the animation quality was below par and pacing can be painfully slow at times. But please bear with me here. I’m going to tell you why it has been the best experience an anime gave me in my entire life and dig into what made the series popular while also explaining its flaws.
Story – 8
The story of Naruto has been a mixed bag. While it’s not bad, it’s certainly no Berserk. But what it is, is beautiful (probably not the word that can be often used to describe a shounen anime), but it really is. It’s unpredictable, it’s thrilling, it plays with your emotions, it’s funny, it’s tragic, it’s sometimes downright frustrating but it is, more than anything, wondrous and fun while being able to take itself seriously when it needs to. It starts off where the first part of Naruto ended and the very first scenes gives us a sneak peak of things to come. The series eases you back into the world of Naruto with a slow paced , almost SOL like first few episodes. And the story then on is presented in a collection of long well constructed story arcs with the bigger picture stories of Sasuke and the Akatsuki being told parallelly till a certain point. Down the line this is series deals with more mature themes and darker tones and manage to execute well on most of those themes if not all. The story is mainly hampered (not ruined) by fillers and pacing issues which I will discuss below.
Let’s start with the filler. The amount of filler in this show is staggering. It counts as 219 total filler episodes which make up 44% of the series as a whole.
The issues that lies within the filler episodes is that they are not allowed to make any significant changes to the story or specifically its characters. This being a mainly character driven plot, this becomes a huge issue because any significant event in fillers could affect the characters so they can’t move ahead the plot line at all. So mostly what we get is poorly written mini-arcs and episodes that don’t affect any of the characters or the world in any significant way. This is worsened by the below par writing for these filler episode as they are not written by the original author Masashi Kishimoto himself.
However, there are exceptions for this. Some of the filler episodes can be genuinely enjoyable but those are few and far between. The fact that filler can’t move the plot along fuels the second big flaw. Which is,
Pacing Issues. Aside from what I’ve said above, even some of the non-filler episodes are very slow paced. This is mainly only an issue at the start of the series. If you’re into characters chilling down and wasting a lot of time, this may sit well with you. But even then some of these episodes might be below par for your taste. Once the series kicks it into high gear around 70th episode, it mostly manages to keep that pace up.
Now that we got the flaws out of the way, let’s talk positives.
The main strength of the series is its characters, who drive the plot (which we will discuss in detail later). After the first 70 episodes, things begin to get lot more interesting really fast. The world of shinobi gets expanded exponentially, and if you’re a fan of deep lore in stories, this will fit right in your wheel house because it begins to explore the roots of the world and its history very deeply.
Another thing that this series does very well is explaining its core concepts to the viewer. The techniques that characters use and how the things in shinobi world works are explained in detail. Also, the concept of Chakra and what a versatile and detailed power system it is compared to other shounen series really stands out.
The amount of themes explored in the series are vast. It explores all the basic themes of a typical shounen and as it goes on it delves into themes such as the nature of humans, self sacrifice, discrimination, manipulation, roots of war and peace, difference of perceptions, the line between good and evil, and alienation. It manages to deal with all these themes without abandoning the shounen type feel or becoming pretentious.
Something that the author, Kishimoto, really excels at is setting up events. For example, during the early episodes of Naruto (the prequel to this show), he has already started setting up major events that happened in the last of episodes of Shippuden. In the beginning, we look over these little details and minor events and have no idea that they are going to have such an impact later in the series, and when it all comes together in the end, you feel so satisfied. Most of the times these events and twists will take you by surprise and maybe you’ll have fun trying to figure out them before they happen as Kishimoto drops clues for you to pick up throughout the entire series. Same thing applies to the moments that tug at your heartstrings , they feel genuine because how the story builds up to those moments.
Being a battle shounen ,of course there are going to be battles, and this is one area that the series really shines.
As I see it , battles can be broken down into three different segments in this anime , The battle of wits , The battle of ideologies , The physical battle. All three come in union to make some memorable and truly great moments. Each characters ideologies and philosophies gets tested time and time again by their opponents and we can see even the main character himself doubt his ideologies towards the end. When we see someone gets broken inside as well as the outside it’s devastating to watch. To put it blatantly, Naruto has the best combat scenes I’ve ever witnessed in an anime. I have to mention that this style of combat is heavily inspired by Hunter x Hunter. Kishimoto does a fantastic job putting emotions into its battle scenes which are backed up by gorgeous animations (at times, we’ll get to that later) and a mesmerizing soundtrack, and with these combined it really sets up fantastic visual storytelling through combat. Kishimoto does an excellent job at setting up the events leading up to the fight to make it feel all the more personal and these battles often comes down to which character outwits the other rather than who can punch harder. This makes characters like Shikamaru Nara who have very little ability make a huge impact in the series.
Variety of the fighting styles is massive, ranging from intimate hand to hand style combats, tactical combats, long range jutsu battles, and most often a mix of all of these!
The last arc of the series has been very controversial as the constant change of antagonists has irritated some of the viewers. But in all honesty, all of the antagonists that presented had different motives that drove them to do what they do and distinctively different from each other which made them very enjoyable. That being said, the final part of the war arc was really disappointing as the final villain of the series is the worst character that the series had to offer as the villain had almost no personality and motives were shaky at best. Without spoiling anything all I can say is that decisions taken during the last war arc felt like it was done to unnecessarily prolong the final battle and messed it up with a poorly written villain and bad story decisions. But the final episodes after the War arc manages to reign it all in and give a proper farewell to the series it so richly deserves.
Throughout the series you will witness friends become foes, foes become friends, unlikely alliances formed and broken, that precious character you loved die, revenge plots, plot twists, characters growing up, politics, romance, and the world itself change. It can be flawed at times but it’s a full package and Kishimoto always seemed to have the ending and everything planned out from the very beginning.
Characters – 10
Now this is the core of the franchise.
Each character in Naruto is very distinctive from each other. Each has a core motive that drives them, a unique personality, and a specialty in different skill sets. And hats-off to Kishimoto for his brilliant character design as he used a very bright color pallet and made each one very distinctive to make each of them stand out.
No matter which kind of characters you prefer, you’re sure to find someone here that you can relate to. What the series really does well is making sure that you’ll be attached to the characters emotionally. And you will cheer them on as they try to achieve their goals , watch their philosophies and ideologies gets tested , watch them break or prevail and break down crying at their deaths.
You will get to see how what’s happening around the characters change them , mold them. Witnessing how tragedies that’s happening around them having an effect on their psyche is one of the strongest points of Naruto Shippuden. It’s fun seeing small character interactions from early episodes grow into full blown relationships.
Now let’s move on to the “Villains”
This series checks all the boxes when it comes to antagonist character archetypes.
*Self-Righteous Villain with a God Complex* [checked] , *Money Hungry Villains* [checked] , *Religious Psychopaths* [checked] , *Villain who is after Revenge* [checked]. I think I’ve made my point there. But what makes this villains so enjoyable is that no one is a villain just for the sake for being a villain. The best kind of villains are the ones you can empathize with, the ones that you feel for and understand them and make you question your own morality, this is something that this series excels at. As same as the main characters, the villains too have core motivation driving them. They have their own beliefs, ideologies and they are willing to fight for what they think is right. You might find yourself cheering on the villains more than the “heroes.” The morality here is blurred.
But coming back to the war arc, its main flaw is the final villain (which I will not spoil here). Compared with the other villainous characters from the series, the final character is very bland and their motivations are not entirely clear or most likely not relatable to any of the viewers. That being said, this character is only in the series for a very small amount of episodes and the others certainly do more than enough to make up for it.
Art and Animation – 7.5
Again we have a mixed bag here.
This show can look stunning when it wants to, and by stunning I meant big budget movie level of quality. But at times the quality can drop way below par.
I think I should specially mention Hiroyuki Yamashita’s work here. He mainly works on battle scenes and this man is a genius when it comes to it. Even though he only worked on a limited number of episodes, his episodes pushes the animation, choreography and stylishness to 11!
Despite this I can’t give it a higher score because this show is wildly inconsistent with its animation.
And as for character designs, we already talked about how Kishimoto made his characters very distinctive and imaginative and how the bright color pallet fuels this.
Sound – 10
This is an another strong point of the series. Yasuharu Takanashi has made a masterpiece of a soundtrack for this series that manages to highlight the intensity, the tragedies, and the sorrow of each moment. The emotions that Kishimoto wants to portray make it through to us so well because of this soundtrack. It connects us with the world of Naruto Shippuden in a special way. I would recommend listening to tracks like Samidare (Early Summer Rain) to get a taste of what the soundtrack is like.
Enjoyment and Overall Experience – 10
Naruto Shippuden is more of an experience that needs to be had than just a mere show. It played with our emotions for over a decade and now it has been concluded. The enjoyment of Naruto Shippuden goes beyond just the series itself. This series has a very big community and fanbase that you could interact with. And its lore is so vast that you would never run out of things to discuss about it. Although it has its share of major flaws, this series is a journey that shouldn’t be missed if you’re fine with the hefty commitment. It’s by no means a flawless anime , but it’s an anime with highs that more than makes up for it’s lows. It reaches for the stars but makes a few tumbles along the way , but the best moments of Naruto are some of the best moments in the medium itself.
And with this, I conclude my review for this series that defined a generation.
Sub or Dub ? : Sub is recommended
| Recommendations for Similar Series |
[Naruto] : Yes, the original series. It’s essential to watch it before the Shippuden series because it contains a lot of character development and build-up for the Shippuden series.
[Fullmetal Alchemist : Brotherhood ] : This series contains most of the things that made Shippuden great such as good character development, good soundtrack, and excellent world building. This series does it in about 70 episodes which is truly a magnificent achievement. If you like Naruto Shippuden, it’s a given that you will like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood as well.
[Hunter X Hunter (2011)] : A series that greatly inspired Naruto. Both anime feel very similar in style. If the inconsistencies of Naruto bothered you, you’ll find a much more consistent pacing and quality of writing here. Whether the highs of Hunter X Hunter matches up to the highs of Shippuden or FMA Brotherhood is up for debate, but you won’t have to sit through any lows like you have to endure with Naruto or Naruto Shippuden.
[Proofreading – SomeRandomNerd]
The Naruto franchise is one of the most hyped and popular series in the anime world. After 10 years, 500 episodes and a bunch of movies the moneymaker Naruto franchise is finally put to rest.
Naruto was one of my favorite shows as a kid, it was better than anything else on TV and I still remember rushing home from school to catch Naruto on TV, good times. After the original series “Naruto” ended, I was thrilled about the sequel show, “Shippuuden”, that was about to start airing but little did I know what a disappointment it was going to be.
Story: 3/10 (Cannon: 6/10 & Filler: 1/10)
Naruto Shippuuden is a continuation of the original therefore the concept of the story remains unchanged but the execution and pacing are a different situation.
Naruto Shippuuden follows Naruto Uzumaki as he aspires to become Hokage and at the same time tries to bring back his friend, Sasuke, but the story is much more complex than before, now we have Akatsuki hunting down all the Jinchuuriki, Sasuke seeking revenge for his clan , Naruto’s struggle against the Kyuubi, Danzo’s plot to take over Konoha, the 4th great Ninja War, Madara attempting to end the world and so much more. Yeah, the story gets way more complex but not for the better.
Unfortunately what was a simple straight-forward and fairly enjoyable plot, soon got covered with pointless subplots that turned the show into a mess, a complete wreck filled with plot armor and plot conveniences. We still have Naruto aspiring to become Hokage while trying to bring back Sasuke but those story-lines get smothered with useless boring subplots and endless filler episodes (not that the main plot was good). That combination ruined my enjoyment of this show.
On to the next flaw. The pacing of the show is just unbelievably bad, with dragged out scenes that put you to bed, important moments that are rushed and not properly explained, hundreds of filler episodes interrupting important and hyped-up fighting scenes and a lot more is wrong with the pacing/execution.
What bothered me the most, as it did many others, were the filler episodes, particularly the ones during the 4th great ninja war that were inserted in the most intense fighting moments. Naruto going full power against his opponent, what an epic scene…why not insert about 20 filler episodes?
This series has so many twists that you stop caring mid-way. The main antagonist got replaced 3 times because the writers fked up and made them too OP for Naruto to defeat… so the next logical step is to introduce someone twice as powerful. Referring to Obito who was replaced by the stronger Madara who was replaced by the stronger Kaguya, what a mess…
While Naruto Shippuuden is a shonen show that follows the generic path of “get beaten> yell/scream> rise up> win> repeat” and employs cliche themes such as “the power of friendship conquers all”, despite all of that, I never cringed while watching it and these flaws never stopped me from enjoying the show.
Sure, it can get a bit annoying to see Naruto rehabilitate every “evil” guy he meets and turning them into his friends but it ain’t that bad.
To be fair, Naruto Shippuuden does have amazing fight scenes that get you hyped, sad moments that bring tears to your eyes, artistic scenes that inspire the viewer, lighthearted scenes that put a smile on your face… In this area, Naruto did great and exceeded my expectations.
The characters are generic, cliche and many are one-dimensional or have very little development but that doesn’t stop them from being likeable and unique in their own way.
I will talk about the characters I consider important to the series.
Characters worth remembering are: Jiraiya, Tsunade, Kakashi, Madara.
Naruto is a young ninja who had a harsh childhood during which he faced many difficulties and sad moments. The difficulties he experienced as a child traumatized him and made him the way he is, a cheerful and friendly guy who would do anything to protect those he cares for. Naruto’s dream is to become Hokage but he will not be blinded by that dream and even if it means straying away from it, Naruto will offer his help to whomever is in need, he will put everything on the line to save those he considers friends, no matter the circumstances and that is the quintessence of his personality.
Even though it is not evident, throughout the series Naruto’s character slowly changes and matures after facing and overcoming the obstacles in his path.
Sasuke is the “last” of the Uchiha clan after its bloody demise at the hands of his older brother, Itachi. His only goal in life is to avenge the death of his clan and seek revenge on Itachi, not caring about others or the consequences of his actions. Sasuke’s character is stagnant and does not develop until late in the series, he is the “rival” that makes Naruto strive to be better and stronger.
Itachi was arguably one of the greatest shonen villains until the writers reduced him to a generic, plain good guy.
Itachi is the “prodigy” child of the Uchiha clan, a skilled shinobi and a good brother until one dark night when he murders every member in the clan except for his younger brother. His character was intriguing and a great addition to the series but ended in miserable failure as the writers decided to rehabilitate him after his death.
Obito, another victim of the “power of friendship” theme. He has lost everything, his dream of becoming Hokage is gone, his loved one is dead, his friend betrayed him, his body is ruined therefore he decides it is best to destroy the world and yet he is easily turned into a good guy by our great hero, Naruto.
Kurama/Nine-Tails is one of the nine tailed beasts. Centuries of being regarded as a mindless monster and sought after as a tool for war caused Kurama to hate humans. After being sealed into Naruto Uzumaki, Kurama attempts to maintain its negative opinions about the world, but with Naruto’s insistence on treating it with respect, the fox overturns its hatred and willingly strives to use its power for the world’s salvation.
Kurama’s development is quite inspiring and a model we should all follow, with the racism, sexism, homophobism, etc. that is happening in the contemporan society.
The art and animation was originally good, fluent with nice colors but it went downhill and resulted in the overall animation&art being bad.
In order to save money, the studio decided to use lots and lots of flashbacks, entire minutes of already aired scenes from previous episodes, still facial expressions, pointless starring, etc.
Although the show started airing in 2007 and ended 10 years later, not many good changes had been made to the animation.
Most of the opening themes and ending themes are decent and the OST is fairly good. The voice actors did a good job interpreting the characters but not an outstanding end result. I couldn’t find a song I loved but nor could I find a song I hated so I guess the sound department is fine.
I highly enjoyed the canon episodes even some of the filler episodes but the overwhelming number of shit filler episodes and flashbacks ruined my enjoyment of this series. Not much to say about it…
My bias won’t let me rate this below 5…
Naruto Shippuuden had its good moments that made it shine but it was quickly clouded by the huge amount of filler episodes, flashbacks, inapt characters, subplots, etc.
I will certainly remember Naruto for the rest of my life, it is a show I grew up with and it holds a special place in my heart.
As advice to the people who have’t watched it yet: skip some of the fillers, a great experience awaits you!
I’ll start out with some of the cons of this show. As many other reviews have already stated, Naruto is loaded with filler episodes and this can’t be any more true. At times the fillers can be funny and interesting, but most of the time you are just impatiently waiting for the show to get back to the real story line. There were tons of flashbacks and honestly they show the same scenes from the past multiple times. The story can be rushed, and at other times it feels like it’s been the same battle for like 5 episodes. The artwork in the battle scenes can vary from good to not so great. But even with it’s many faults, I still gave this show a 10/10. ( honestly if you hate fillers that much, just skip around)
I don’t know where to start with all the great things that this anime has to offer. I’ll start off with the characters. The character development was great for the main characters and even some of the sides characters. I think that the show did an excellent job in giving each character a unique personality and they really made sure that you knew all the characters and their backgrounds. The development of the characters was so great that I was constantly questioning who my favorite character really was. At the beginning I honestly thought that Naruto was annoying and ignorant, but the growth and development of Naruto really grew on me and he began to become one of my favorites. Okay next is the story line. The plot was pretty interesting, but very long. While it did seem like the story was at a standstill for a while in the show, the writers did a good job at subtly setting everything up. Little things that happened in random episodes sometimes came up later as being important. The plot was like a puzzle at times, where I would try to put the pieces together. I actually really enjoyed how they set it up like that. Like Naruto and his friends grew, the story grew as well. In this sense I mean the vibe and mood of the show. It starts off more as a fun action comedy, but as the story goes on, it gets more dark, emotional, and the maturity level of the anime just increases. I’m not kidding when I say that this show can actually teach you life lessons.
I highly recommend watching this whole anime. Even though it is loaded with fillers, by the time you get to the last few episodes, you’ll start to feel emotional and sad that it’s come to an end. While this isn’t Your Lie in April or Clannad, this show still will definitely hit the feels. The end will have you feeling nostalgic, sad, happy, you’ll honestly be feeling so many different emotions. This anime may be 500 episodes, but it is totally worth it and in the end you won’t regret it.
MAL Score: 8.40
During the early 1930s in Chicago, the transcontinental train, Flying Pussyfoot, is starting its legendary journey that will leave a trail of blood all over the country. At the same time in New York, the ambitious scientist Szilard and his unwilling aide Ennis are looking for missing bottles of the immortality elixir. In addition, a war between the mafia groups is getting worse. On board the Advena Avis, in 1711, alchemists are about to learn the price of immortality.
Based on the award-winning light novels of the same name, Baccano! follows several events that initially seem unrelated, both in time and place, but are part of a much bigger story—one of alchemy, survival, and immortality. Merging these events together are the kindhearted would-be thieves, Isaac and Miria, connecting various people, all of them with their own hidden ambitions and agendas, and creating lifelong bonds and consequences for everyone involved.
Thankfully, Baccano! is not one of those.
Baccano! maintains a very high standard of animation throughout its entirety. Brains Base made good use of color to heighten the effect of the more dramatic moments in the show. The animation quality is particularly noteworthy considering the fact that Brains Base is one of the smallest studios in the animating business. The fact that Brains Base managed to achieve a level of animation to match many of the larger studios and maintain that level of quality for the length the show, especially during the action sequences, is a credit to their effort and skill.
Baccano! opens with the excellent (and very appropriate for the setting) track "Guns N’ Roses" by Paradise Lunch. The jazzy theme of the OP fits perfectly against the backdrop of 1930’s America, in which the majority of the show is set. This jazz themed music continues throughout the entirety of the show and adds a certain authentic flavor which is often lacking in other shows. The only true downside to the music is the ED, which is a stereotypical J-ballad. However, this is only a small detraction from the otherwise great music though and can easily be skipped over.
Another area where Baccano! excelled was the voice acting. The talented VA’s for each role managed to breathe life and individuality into the large and diverse cast of characters. The most singular achievement of the voice actors is that each of the characters can be easily identified by voice alone, as each actor has brought a different timbre, a different nuance, sometimes even a different accent, to each role.
From the marvelously hilarious Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent to the psychopathic Ladd Russo, all the characters are very well designed and as unique as their voices. Isaac and Miria are without doubt the most memorable members of an excellent cast of characters. The duo effectively serve as a glue that holds the story together. They dance through the series’s multiple time lines like a giddy gyroscope on acid, occasionally colliding with one of the other cast members at random (usually by fluke).
There is one minor downside regarding the characters. Baccano! is a 13 episode series, with a cast of approximately 12 main characters. Though they all receive a certain amount of development, some critics would argue that it is not enough. However, the quality of the overall show is of such a high value that any shortcomings in development had no impact on enjoyment.
The story in Baccano! is very straightforward. Usually, it is the style of in which the story is told that receives the most attention. Baccano! adopts a non-sequential storytelling style. While this may not be anything new (the TV broadcast of Haruhi and the movie Pulp Fiction did the same thing), it adds to the enjoyment by removing the need for the universally derided "down time" episodes. Baccano! has multiple individual storylines, all of which intertwine into a larger story. At first, the events and characters may be confusing. But once you’re past the initial surprise of leaping feet first into the middle of the story, you find yourself immersed in an unusual, fast-paced and entertaining style of storytelling that whets your appetite for more.
Baccano! contains a nice mixture of drama, action and comedy. This, coupled with some amazing characters and a good short story, makes Baccano! one of the most enjoyable romps in recent years. The absurd, comedic moments serve as a perfect counterweight to the action and tension that builds throughout the show. Nothing is too dramatic or depressing, and both the humor and the violence aren’t forced. The most enjoyable thing about Baccano! is that each character’s actions feel natural to that character and this comes across to the viewer in a big way.
Baccano! is one of the rarest types of anime as it successfully merges comedy, suspense, action and even a little romance, without sacrificing animation or sound quality. It is a gem that will appeal to fans of many different genres and it is one of the few animes that can be watched again and again without suffering any loss of enjoyment.
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
Archaeon – Wrote the review
Lowell – Who contributed to and edited the review
Megadedhed – Who contributed to and edited the review
Here are their individual scorings for the show:
Category – Archaeon, Lowell, Megadedhed
Story – 9, 8, 9.6
Art – 10, 8, 9.5
Sound – 9, 9, 10
Character – 10, 8 , 9.8
Enjoyment – 10, 9, 10
Overall – 10, 8, 9.5
In the club wide poll held for Baccano! it received an average overall rating of 9.03
If nothing else, they’re right about that last part.
To the series’ credit. It’s certainly ambitious and refreshing. A story taking place in America during the Prohibition Era and juggling the stories of around a dozen different characters spread across no less than 3 separate time periods, spiced up with alchemy, magic, urban legends and immortal gangsters. Definitely something you don’t see every day.
Ultimately though, the greatest concept still needs to stellar execution to really shine. It needs a compelling narrative that knows where its headed and why, it needs to be inhabited by characters worth caring about and the content generated from a combination of those 2 needs to be presented in a properly thought out fashion.
‘Baccano!’ fails miserably in those areas.
The first major failing is the narrative. Baccano! is a series that presents its events in a non-linear fashion while at the same time jumping between the points of view of several different characters. This is a style of narrative that some works have used to great effect. Baccano! doesn’t. There’s no rhyme or reason to the way the series juggles its narrative threads and it soon becomes obvious that the answers to the major running questions will only be answered towards the end while everything leading up to it is pure stalling. Bottom line is that Baccano! is convoluted for the sake of it rather than having a fitting thematic reason for it.
This is made worse by the characters. They’re all, to be blunt, horribly written one-dimensional caricatures whose entire personality and motivations can be deduced from their first 5 seconds of screen time. A handful of them gets something resembling a back story and rather forced attempts at development but the majority of them is there to demonstrate their 1 defining quirk only to prance off again while the focus shifts to another character ad nauseam. Worst offenders are Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent, an eccentric couple of energetic thieves whose every conversation follows the exact same pattern. Made all the worse by Miria’s awful shrieking voice. Jacuzzi Splot, a shy ‘gangster’ who cries over anything and everything, is yet another example of such a terrible character. Made worse by the fact that he’s eventually made to look ‘badass’ in a way that’s so forced it’s impossible to believe, seeing as there was no character arc building up to it.
What further hurts the characters is how interchangeable many of them feel. What fundamental differences are there between Clare Stanfield, Dallas Geonard and Ladd Russo? All 3 are violent nutcases who’ll murder someone for no reason at all. What fundamental differences are there between Chane Laforet, Rachel, Lue Klein and Enis? All 4 are emotionally subdued women whose role in the story is defined by an obsession over a single guy. Isaac and Miria? For all intents and purposes, a single character. The series’ blatantly covers up a lack of depth with sheer volume. Similarly to how the narrative constantly shifts focus to prevent viewers from realizing how bland most of the content really is.
The third and final major issue with the series is the way it presents its content. Its portrayal of gangsters is so offensively glamorized that it puts ‘The Godfather’ to shame. It becomes outright laughable when the series introduces us to a character named Dallas Geonard who we’re supposed to view as a villain even though other characters acting the same are portrayed as slick badasses. Violence is used with such frivolity and frequency that it’s devoid of any narrative significance.
In contrast, I’ll briefly discuss a scene from the movie ‘’Pan’s Labyrinth’’. There’s a segment early on in that film where the main villain smashes a man’s face in with a wine bottle. It’s a powerful, important scene on several levels. It not only establishes both the character of the main antagonist as well as the tone of the film, it’s also shot in a chilling yet explicit manner that underlines the brutality of what is shown.
Baccano!, by contrast, is loaded with violence that is much more extreme than what is shown in the scene I just mentioned. There’s even a scene similar to the aforementioned one where a character beats a man to death with his fists. Only in this case there’s no impact seeing as we’ve seen him commit violent acts before. And that’s not even getting into the almost comical way that it’s presented. There’s no dramatic significance to any of it due to how frivolously it’s portrayed. This is made worse by how characters will opt to use violence for the vaguest of reasons. Many characters get hurt and killed over the course of the story but there’s never a reason to care. And once again the anachronic storytelling serves as a way to cover it up.
One can’t deny that the series has a unique style and a refreshing setting. The soundtrack is also wonderfully jazzy while animation is very solid with a number of fun action sequences. This, however, does nothing to remedy the glaring flaws: the non-linear storytelling is a cheap gimmick, the characters obnoxious and 1-dimensional, and the glorification of gangsters is downright offensive. There are powerful stories that feature non-chronological narratives or extreme violence. But these elements alone aren’t what makes them great. When taking an unconventional approach to a story it’s imperative that you think about how to best make it work. This is something the creators of Baccano! fail to realize.
Dictionary.com defines the word ‘ruckus’ as ‘a noisy commotion’. That’s a perfect way to sum up ‘Baccano!’ (merely the Italian word for ‘ruckus’). A ruckus that attempts to pass itself off as an opera.
It’s because you see, Baccano is very heavily influenced on these western movies made in this style. From the opening theme (Snatch) to the storytelling (Pulp Fiction) to even the coolness (Reservoir Dogs/Godfather) oozes western-style. Therefore, it’s practically pointless to explain the plot of the show since they show how the show ends in episode one. That’s the hook, the viewer isn’t supposed to understand what they are seeing at first. Instead, they are enticed to want to know how did a ‘mess’ such as this happen in the first place. After that giant hook of showing you how it ends, it all unravels almost perfectly into a story involving over a dozen individuals. For the most part they are all complete strangers but through a little luck, chance, and happenstance their stories will cross paths most definitely.
…with a little anime flair of course.
The art is something of perfection, from the minor details in the shadowing and brutal violence left on victims, to major details like the painted streets of 1930’s New York City. You can tell there was a large team summoned to make this 13 episode epic. Where it shows the best though are all the action scenes, where the movements are fast but smooth at the same time, and gun shots come complete with flash and gun smoke. Blood splatters in all different directions, teeth and bones can be torn apart and you can point them out as they’re flying in the air. It’s all just simply amazing. Art would be a perfect only if they wouldn’t add some poorly placed 3D backgrounds in some spots, and if certain parts weren’t so overly dark. The darkness ruins some of the beauty of a few scenes and its a shame since this is a show where everything it shows is a visual treat.
The sound is second to none. The op is classic, and I love how they meld the last episode synopsis with the opening theme. But this show would definitely not be as cool without the jazz styling, piano solo’s and everything else in between. Every scene has an amazing amount of environmental sounds running at the same time and definitely sets the mood. If you watch it a few times I swear you’ll hear something different every time. This is easily one of the few shows best enjoyed on a good surround sound system on high.
The characters are out of this world. Some plucked off of gangster flicks, some plucked out of action flicks, and some straight out the anime stock. With a cast of characters this large, you’re bound to find a favorite one or have fun pointing out what RL actors they resemble or portray. Their voice acting is also top notch, I even enjoyed the annoying characters voices as well and thats rare. The crazies were my favorite overall though, just how they managed to sound so insane without it being annoying but rather fun was rather cool. My only gripe is the "comedy relief" of the show. Why do ‘serious’ shows such as this require comedy relief? Sure its fine to have to relieve the viewers from all the masochism throughout the show. But i don’t think they should have given so much air time to the comic relief as they did.
This show is basically a 4-hour Tarantino-esque movie, if you remove the credits and extra recollections that get the viewer back on track. Overall its a perfect sized anime for a Tarantino-esque story. Any longer and the viewer will get tired of the mixed up style of story telling especially with the attention span of people these days. Think of it as "it will get exponentially complicated if this series went to 26 episodes. Although i would be all for a brand new story if Narita Ryougo made it. But only time will tell. It would have been cooler if they kept anime without all the anime ‘hoodoo’ and tried to make it a serious anime. But like the Japanese say, "It can’t be helped."
2: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
English: Gurren Lagann
MAL Score: 8.65
Simon and Kamina were born and raised in a deep, underground village, hidden from the fabled surface. Kamina is a free-spirited loose cannon bent on making a name for himself, while Simon is a timid young boy with no real aspirations. One day while excavating the earth, Simon stumbles upon a mysterious object that turns out to be the ignition key to an ancient artifact of war, which the duo dubs Lagann. Using their new weapon, Simon and Kamina fend off a surprise attack from the surface with the help of Yoko Littner, a hot-blooded redhead wielding a massive gun who wanders the world above.
In the aftermath of the battle, the sky is now in plain view, prompting Simon and Kamina to set off on a journey alongside Yoko to explore the wastelands of the surface. Soon, they join the fight against the “Beastmen,” humanoid creatures that terrorize the remnants of humanity in powerful robots called “Gunmen.” Although they face some challenges and setbacks, the trio bravely fights these new enemies alongside other survivors to reclaim the surface, while slowly unraveling a galaxy-sized mystery.
When men were men. They were screaming like crazy speeches, faced the impossible, and said things that made no sense, but that even so we did say “EPIC”.
There was a time.
A time of captains Harlock, a master time Asia, a time of Domons.
Logic was not important. The strategy was not important. If you believe in the impossible, impossible would be nothing in front of you.
The time is gone
A wave of animes that have to be “realistic”, “philosophical”, “adults” around us. Are good? Are. Meet your purpose? Meet.
However, however … I miss something.
Characters idiots who laugh in the face of death, and not to be shaken by anything. Characters that I remember that, in essence, in the beginning, were not meant to be realistic.
No wonder that I am addicted to shonens: manga as One Piece, Fairy Tail remind me that there are heroes who still believe that boundaries are bullshit, and that men should talk about crazy dreams with a smile on his face.
Few original anime (non-manga based) can pass this spirit, and if I had to indicate a Studio to produce an epic-without-notion, “Gainax” probably would not be the first on my list.
But they did so. Oh, how did.
Ladies and gentlemen, forgiveness for the lengthy introduction: Let’s talk of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Many have already heard things about this series of 27 episodes. Effusive praise. Discouraging reviews. And you may already have heard the following phrase: “compliments to the Gurren Lagann are exaggerated”
And let us be clear: Yes. ARE.
But it could not be otherwise.
Gurren Lagann anime is not the type that parses. Is the type of anime to which you manifested with exaggeration and passion. “Overkill” is the key word of the anime: everything is extremely Titanic, extreme, “over-the-top”, “larger than life”, etc.
With certain exceptions (some Gundam, some Macross, tss), never been a fan of mecha anime. Would be far from the top of my list and, being this a recurrent genre in every new season animes, I believe my dismay is understandable: it is both anime mecha clamoring arrogantly that will “revolutionize the genre”, “overcome Evangelion”, “be the new Gundam” and other things that many simply die on the beach, lost in own mediocrity.
Gurren Lagann will by reverse path: doesn’t take itself seriously. Does not involve complex plots policies or attempts to “explore the essence of the human being”. It’s about guys inconsequential facing death in colorful fuses (and often ungainly) and BLOWING THINGS UP. Many things.
The series is a species of “giant parody mecha”, a spoof so well done that took an undeniable brilliance. As the series develops, over the hump “70 years” (frantic action and episodic with colored robots), “80 years” (frantic action and sequential with specific enemies … and colored robots!), “90 years” (frantic action with colorful robots … in space!) and Century 21 (IE … a tribute to the series, where the hype coming into the extreme).
The series features a climate extremely pure (remember One Piece in this sense) that does not match the latest productions of Gainax (with the exception of perhaps Diebuster): in Gurren the Studio tries their best to tell a story extremely positive, bright, boiling the blood-is as an antithesis of Evangelion.
The cast features some of the most best ever seen in recent years, with big names like Kamina (“do not believe in yourself. Believe me, I believe in you “), Kittan (” no, this is my soul! You will regret it! “), Simon (” my drill is one that PIERCES the HEAVENS! “), just to name the most unbelievable (after all, we still have Viral Genome, Dayakka-” My wife is the best of the universe-SWING! “).
Heroes who face the impossible again and again, like real men. The psychological development of some of them (Simon, to quote) is monstrous: the series managed to combine and traces of human “weaknesses” with the “iconic” of characters (courage to sacrifice himself when necessary, never retreat, and other elements worthy of legends).
Council to watch this anime: turn off your brain. One of the best quotes of the anime is “Go beyond the impossible and kick the logic to corner” (Kamina), and this is often taken in a sense more than literal. Gurren Lagann is about ridiculously scenes with epic songs -Sung playing in the background (and I know that many of us love this type of scene, feeling rather lack thereof in the current anime), is about characters screaming attack names aloud, and gigantic explosions. If you allow “get in the mood”, you will be taken to an unbelievable journey. And smile like a fool, knowing you made the right decision.
The animation is jaw-dropping. To get an idea, 40% of the money used in the production were dedicated to the last 5 episodes, creating sequences that make many films out there go shame. The soundtrack contributes with the light/climate: epic songs sung, rap and Opera hybridizes to give a special glow to several of the best scenes of the series (many of these will be marked for those that see).
Perhaps the only factor of production that is worth being criticized is the episodes “reprise” (there are two of them, a long piece of episode 6 and episode 16 integer), but it is worth remembering that this is part of the “joke” that Gainax proposed to do, saying that “kick the logic to corner” with this series: 27 episodes rather than 26, the protagonist being voiced by a man (many of the previous, as Shinji Ikari of Eva, were dubbed by women), etc.
“you’re praising too! You’re exaggerating! “-
I ‘M. But as I said earlier, this is an anime that does not allow cold and calculating analysis. The very premise, the first episode, it doesn’t make much sense. It is a classic “love or hate”. Or you enter the atmosphere of “OW MAN, WAY TOO EPICNESS” or so says “This is not my type.” Despite the success that had (yielding promises of future projects), Gurren Lagann is not for everyone.
It’s about courage.
Struggles that make the DBZ characters seem Wimpy
It’s about heroic speeches and exaggerated.
If you are unable to watch something that cannot lead to seriously, I recommend more sober, more series “feet-in-the-ground”.
If you are willing to embark with the crew of the Gurren-Dan, welcome to war.
By the human race.
Through The Universe.
To quote the slogan of a well-known epic film: “Prepare for glory”.
A message to the rabid fanboys probably is in order. If you are incapable of accepting anyone’s opinion that differs from your own then you might as well stop reading this right now. What follows is a critical and perhaps a bit harsh analysis of a series that at its best was one of the best things I have ever seen, but at its worst made me want to punch a hole in my television. I certainly did not hate TTGL. I can clearly recognize its achievements and its place in anime history and its influence. But it also has some unforgivable warts that many of which were unnecessary. It’s typical of a GAINAX project which always seems to be high on presentation and build up and piss poor at conclusions.
There is nothing remarkable about the story in TTGL. It borrows from familiar themes and unfolds in a pretty predictable and formulaic manner. It’s the presentation of the storyline that makes it so unique from most anime of this type. TTGL is really two anime in one. The series is divided into two major story arcs. Both are full of balls out macho testosterone filled awesomeness. The scale of the story grows exponentially as each battle and each Gurren Lagann transformation becomes more and more epic. Taken at that, TTGL succeeds at an unrivaled level. The first arc has a perfect mix of comedy, tragedy, drama, and GAR. I loved it. It totally worked at every level. Until…
Where things start to come undone is in the second arc which starts at episode 16 and is set seven years after those events. The feeling is totally different. First you’re trying to get used to characters that have grown up, at least physically, and a setting that is completely alien to the apocalyptic wastelands of the first half of the series. But where things unravel is that it starts to get away from what made the early parts of the series so successful. It begins more of a romance arc, which you expected given the way things went in the first part and frankly I would have been disappointed if this hadn’t developed. However it’s so ridiculous that all it does it make you think the characters are completely retarded. I mean seriously, how can you be in a relationship with someone for seven fucking years and never kissed that person? Really? You expect me to take this seriously or actually care? The second is the addition of a political drama that does about as much for the story as the unrealistic romance elements. All it does it take a cast that was almost entirely likeable from the first half and make half of them asshats and douche bags.
Eventually though things get back on track with what made the show so completely awesome before. The problem is by time they do will you be so angry and pissed off that you even care anymore? That was the situation I found myself in. As much as I wanted to be angry at it the feelings I had for it do start to pop up again. The battles are even more epic and literally galaxy shattering. It’s so totally masculine that I am surprised I didn’t grow a pair of balls myself. But… it seems I always have to say that, just as it manages to redeem itself and make me swoon with delight; GAINAX delivers their final fuck you to the audience and frankly, it is unforgivable. Sadly it completely ruined any enjoyment I had for it.
TTGL characters are pretty much what you would expect from shounen anime. However it manages to carve out a few legendary ones. Pretty much anyone who is a fan of anime knows who Simon, Kamina, and Yoko are. I can say that they aren’t overrated by the fandom either. Kamina is pure awesomeness. A man’s man and a woman’s dream. His single minded determination and love for his comrades makes him the kind of friend that any man would want. While he may not be “husband material” to us girls every one of us would want to put our arm in his and be protected by him. He’s the kind of guy that can really only survive in a world of conflict. A true hero for the ages.
Simon has many of Kamina’s traits. As the main protagonist in the series he does well to overcome the obstacles in front of him. I loved him, as a boy. It was after the time skip that he has grown up that he becomes less interesting as a character. He evolves into something he’s not, a virtual clone of Kamina that they are almost indistinguishable from one another. The weaknesses and more reserved nature of the younger Simon which made him for me a much more real and interesting character disappear. Instead of the thoughtful and cowardly boy we have a guy who is as reckless as Kamina ever was and goes into everything with all guns blazing and damn the torpedoes! Its so uncharacteristic of him that it takes away from his character. The final events of the story in particular are needless cruel and unnecessary and a further example of how out of character he has become. By the end he is Kamina, complete with the ending you would have expected of him and all traces of the likeable kid all but erased.
Yoko is the ship that launched a million wet dreams from boys and probably a few grown men alike. You might think that a character with eye popping measurements that spends the majority of the series in a bathing suit would be simply a tool for exploitive fan service. But that’s not the case, as she really shines on her own and manages to be sexy without feeling like she’s just a prop. Yoko is one of the few characters in the story to actually grow up. She takes on responsibility as opposed to the rest of the cast who seem intend on riding the coattails of their past glories instead of contributing something to society. Overall though she’s treated poorly by the story and while she is very important to the first part of the series it’s almost like she became just another face in the crowd later on. Being a big fan of hers I found that to be particularly disappointing.
The rest of the main and supporting cast is a bit of a mixed bag. The reason my score of them as a total suffers is that the vast majority of them are very static and unchanging. Most of them are not all that interesting and are more like the background. With few exceptions when one of them dies in the story’s epic death count you are left with little emotional reaction because you didn’t feel anything for them when they were alive. The time jump also affected my enjoyment of them as I mentioned many of them had total personality changes that really had no justification. Some initially charming and interesting characters such as Nia I found myself just despising or becoming apathetic towards.
One thing that TTGL does not fail to deliver though is heart pounding and eye-popping visual effects and artwork. This series is truly a masterful work of art. Everything about it screams epic goodness. GAINAX always has a bit of a unique and cartoony art style. But what I really love is the bright colors and quirky designs. It totally works for this series perhaps like no other ever has. This is truly an achievement that I can find absolutely no flaws with.
Not to be outdone, the musical score and voice acting is just as exceptional. The actors manage to bring out all the macho characters and the often screaming dialogue and make it all work. The music is some of the best I have heard in an anime. The OP/EN themes rock hardcore and will have you moving your feet and singing out loud.
So did I like TTGL? The answer is yes. Did I enjoy it? Not really. Because of that it just can’t go down as one of my favorite series as it really should have thanks to that retardation at the end. I know I am going to be in the minority here. The story is not meant to be taken seriously and for the most part I didn’t. However I was expecting more and I didn’t get it. Chances are if you’re male, and under the age of 30 you just might watch this and think it’s the best thing ever. For us girls your experience may vary. It’s definitely worth the viewing but beware the trap of unrealistic expectations and hype.
Gurren Lagann was breathtaking. An endlessly thrilling ride from the most humble beginnings to the most fantastic of ends. Absolutely inspiring and a must-watch. There are so many memorable moments in this series, and lines and ideas that it imprints into your very soul.
I will admit this is one of the first anime I had ever watched, except Miyazaki films. And its ridiculousness shocked me as a newcomer. Even so, I was enraptured, drawn by the infectious energy and the constant adrenaline rush from this show.
Because it was unique. It was so very unique.
Tengen Toppa, while it does have an amazing story, is not about the story. It’s not about a logical progression, strategy, conflicts of interests, world building, exploring the sci-fi or the other ideas in it. In fact, it is about the deconstruction of all those things. I usually like smart anime. But Tengen Toppa is unique, managing to be good without trying to be smart. Because it isn’t about being smart. Its about feeling. Everything else is just a plot device. Its abstract almost, like a legend or an epic. You don’t need to believe it. TTGL takes your ideas and your expectations and says fuck you. The only one idea that matters is feeling and spirit. It delivers on an emotional level. A primal instinct; willpower, that adrenaline rush and madness that overcomes you as you resolve to beat an impossible challenge in pursuit of what you want.
Every aspect of the show work to arouse and reinforce this zeal in the viewer. Its art, with a clever use of angles, bold lines, exaggerated designs and at times simplified drawings personify its brazen self-confidence and panache. Its soundtrack oozes fearless charisma with a liberal use of energetic horns, drums, opera, rap(!), violin ensembles, and forceful sound effects… all the while also reserving a soft, passionately delicate side for its emotional moments. Its vibrant characters(especially one of the manliest leads in anime I know, Kamina) are among the most unforgettable I’ve ever encountered, and how far they come by the end, and indeed how much they grow on you is amazing to behold. Every single one of them, in the span of 27 episodes(yes, TTGL hates norms, even season counts), manages to surprise you and show you the many faces of human nature. In a way, they are perfectly chosen to represent the show’s central theme of the struggle between human “spirit” against the abyss of “despair”.
I like to think of Gurren Lagann now as at least in part, as a light hearted jab at various overused tropes in anime(such as copious amounts of fanservice, plot arcs that escalates from small to unbelievably huge and so so many more). Gurren Lagann takes every cliche trope there is and ramps it up to 11, in a way that it feels strangely new and enjoyable again. If I could describe this show in one word, it’d be “ridiculous”… and I don’t mean that in a bad way in the slightest.
The blatant and ridiculous sexual innuendos everywhere(the Di-gurren has a gigantic dick for a hull for just one example), the in-your-face approach to fan service, the seemingly boundless main plot arc, the battles, the set pieces, those outrageous VILLAINS, Nia and her moeblob eyes, the cheesy dialogue(it actually seems to work quite well in TTGL for some reason although it wouldn’t anywhere else), the over-the-top speeches and declarations, the attack names… the list goes on and on. It presents these obviously un-serious things in the most serious and cocksure way possible. And somehow… manages to be convincing. It shocks you and grabs your attention with nothing else other than its unique spirit and confidence. TTGL feels like its taking an adult and making him play pretend, dragging him about in a crazed rush, and learn again what its like to be mad with drive and child-like passion for your dreams.
For deus ex machinas, there were so many in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann I couldn’t count them all. But it played into the show’s theme “Kick logic out and do the impossible” perfectly. I didn’t get the impression from the rest of the narrative that the show was taking itself very seriously at all(viewed as a parody, TTGL is pretty damn good), so they actually felt natural and strangely uplifting, instead of disappointing.
Tengen Toppa is also excellent at emotionally moving you. They even state in the anime itself, “kick logic out… it’s all about spirit!” And it delivers. It will move you, fire you up, make you cry, laugh. But it will most definitely not intrigue you, or make you race the characters in deductive reasoning like in other shows. But it will leave you exhilarated regardless.
And maybe… just maybe… etch itself into your memory for a long time to come.
EDIT: Now, as much as I know it is strange to say now, right at the end, especially after(rightly!) emphasizing the ridiculousness so much, I think it is dishonest to give the impression that this is just a mindless show intended to make you scream. Believe it or not, how epic it manages to be despite the absurdity is actually the result of very clever writing, brilliant implementation and noticeably passionate production values and attention to detail. In fact, I would even say this is one of most subtly intricate and thoughtful series to come out in recent years. This doesn’t take the form of philosophical debates and pretentious sci-fi however. In true TTGL(and Gainax) style, it defies expectations. Everything thats silly is in your face, and whats clever is hidden for those who care to look.
It takes the form of exquisite symbolism, subliminal homo-erotic rap, intricately interwoven themes which the show doesn’t always spell out for you(as just one slightly spoilerific example; think about the mistakes of humanity. Think about the Elder in the Face-God Village or the Chief of Jiha village and compare population-control Rossiu and the Anti-Spirals to them… they all are driven by the same thing), the bitter contrasts of war and how they seem to fade once you actually understand the sides, how infectious and inspiring spirit is when it truly refuses to give in to cynicism… hell, when you’ve finished I actually encourage you to read this: http://wtf.animeblogger.net/?p=140
For now, the rest of you: watch this show.
1: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch
English: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Japanese: コードギアス 反逆のルルーシュ
MAL Score: 8.71
In the year 2010, the Holy Empire of Britannia is establishing itself as a dominant military nation, starting with the conquest of Japan. Renamed to Area 11 after its swift defeat, Japan has seen significant resistance against these tyrants in an attempt to regain independence.
Lelouch Lamperouge, a Britannian student, unfortunately finds himself caught in a crossfire between the Britannian and the Area 11 rebel armed forces. He is able to escape, however, thanks to the timely appearance of a mysterious girl named C.C., who bestows upon him Geass, the “Power of Kings.” Realizing the vast potential of his newfound “power of absolute obedience,” Lelouch embarks upon a perilous journey as the masked vigilante known as Zero, leading a merciless onslaught against Britannia in order to get revenge once and for all.
STORY – Before I saw this series, it was described to me on multiple occasions as "Death Note with mechas." After seeing it, however, I am inclined to disagree. The similarities between the two series are superficial at best, and though I can see why people would draw the comparison, I don’t really think that dis/liking one means that you’ll dis/like the other. But anyway, unlike Death Note, I wouldn’t say that the story in Code Geass is particularly notable or unique. It’s actually rather straightforward and even a little cliche, but that’s exactly why this is such a well done series — the barebones storyline is handled in a refreshing and new way that grabs the viewer’s attention. There are enough twists and turns involved to keep you on the edge of your seat. The pacing is excellent and nothing feels rushed or drawn out. Indeed, the progression up to the conclusion is especially brilliant. (It’s a cliffhanger "ending," but oh, it’s just a fantastic cliffhanger.)
The series is also appealing in its uncanny ability to mix genres. Yes, this is a mecha series, but it really doesn’t have to be. Yes, CLAMP did the character designs and there are some very shoujo elements (read: homolust), but there are very shounen rivalries and some pretty epic battle scenes too. Everybody wins! Additionally, because of the number of characters, the story allows for a number of small subplots. I was very happy with how this was handled in particular because all of the subplots relate and affect the main plot directly, whether by revealing some bit of information to both the characters and the viewer or by pushing forward interesting character development. Everything is well thought out and wonderfully executed, so despite the fact that "strong-willed person with plans to change the world receives mysterious power that helps facilitate his goals" isn’t a very unique storyline… Code Geass makes it work.
Also. Code Geass utilizes the "best friends trying to kill each other" plotline, and I’m a sucker for that plotline.
CHARACTER – The characters in this series are rather varied. Some are very plain and one-dimensional, while others have an amazing complexity to them that makes them very life-like. I’ll be honest. I’ve become somewhat infatuated with Lelouch as a character (and am rather biased as a result). To me, he is very much a human character — he has emotions, opinions, a unique point of view, and some very serious flaws, all of which make him incredibly easy to relate to and to sympathize with. He is easily the most complex character in the series, and he feels real to me, even with his supernatural powers and his genius-level intellect. This ability to make the audience relate to him is also probably the series’ greatest strength and the main reason why the story is able to remain relevant and interesting despite the fact that there aren’t too many new ideas plotwise.
Suzaku would probably be second in line for complexity after Lelouch, though his sense of justice might be called cliche at first (along with Nunnally’s and Euphemia’s), and his hax-level physical prowess is somehow harder to accept than Lelouch’s genius-level intelligence. It’s harder to appreciate Suzaku’s depth at first, partially because he is presented as Lelouch’s main obstacle and the audience’s sympathies are with Lelouch, but a great deal is revealed about his character throughout the course of the series, and he becomes an amazing foil to his rival. Their conflicting ideologies and philosophies are fascinating if you really look into it, and gay as it sounds, they really do compliment each other very well.
Much of the rest of the cast seems to fall into typical archetypes — there’s your adorable little sister, your mad scientist and his assistant, your cheerful schoolgirls, your best friend, your most loyal soldier, your second-in-command, your village idiot, your… really creepy lesbian girl? Despite the generic-sounding descriptions, most of the characters are actually pretty fun, or at the very least, interesting. C.C. provides snarky commentary. Shirley spreads innocent schoolgirl love. Nunnally is so moe you’ll die. Jeremiah is a good butt of all jokes. Little bits of backstory are tossed in here and there to separate them from the crowd, but it’s never enough to actually intrude, and the wide range of characters lets you settle into the world pretty well too; after all, what universe is complete without an animal mascot that shows up now and again?
ARTWORK & ANIMATION – I wasn’t too impressed with CLAMP’s character designs at first (noodleboys!), but as always seems to be the case, they gradually grew on me, and I remembered just how pretty X was. CLAMP just knows how to make everyone look amazingly sexy, male or female. I really loved how they did all of the facial expressions in the series though, especially for Lelouch. Seriously, that guy had some of the most awesome crazy expressions, some of the most amazingly touching sadface expressions, and of course, some of the most amusing WTF expressions. The mecha designs for the Knightmare Frames were also pretty awesome. I dig the whole rollar blade thing, and some of the technologies they come up with are neat, if a little over-the-top. The animation is fluid and smooth for the most part and very few things stood out as being bad.
MUSIC – Initially, I wasn’t particularly fond of any of the OP/EDs for Code Geass except the first ending by ALI PROJECT because 1) they’re awesome, and 2) Yuki Kajiura’s style seemed to suit the series very well. The screaming violins both convey the high status of Britannia and the intensity of the emotions in the series. The rest of the themes seemed lackluster in comparison, but though I was never a huge fan of FLOW, "COLORS" kind of grew on me after a while. The final insert song, "Innocent Days" by Hitomi is pretty nice as well. Very thoughtful, very poignant, very fitting. The background music during the series was negligible for the most part; there is some pretty generic battle build-up type music and other appropriate, but rather typical, themes. Still, there’s some neat classical/opera stuff, and the "All hail Brittania!" theme is definitely awesome.
VOICE ACTING – I’ve seen all of Code Geass subbed and most of it dubbed. Although I was incredibly turned off by Johnny Yong Bosch’s role as Lelouch initially, it kind of grew on me, and now I think it fits well enough, though I do wish he’d change his voice a little more when Lelouch is Zero (make it a little deeper?). Suzaku’s dub voice surprised me with how appropriate it was too. One of the things I really wish we could replicate in English though, is the subtle differences in manners between characters, between Lelouch and Suzaku at various stages of their lives, and between Lelouch and Zero. In Japanese, when Lelouch and Suzaku are children, they refer to themselves with "boku" and "ore" respectively. As teenagers, the pronouns are swapped, with Lelouch using "ore" (Zero uses "watashi") and Suzaku using "boku." Euphemia uses "watakushi." I’ll skip the grammar lesson (go wiki "Japanese pronouns"), but suffice to say that these differences provide a lot of very interesting insight into each of the characters. It’s really too bad English isn’t nearly as interesting.
The rest of the voices in the dub are pretty average, perhaps the low end of average, with a stereotypically high-pitched girly voice for Nunnally that is amazingly annoying, and very forgettable voices for virtually all the female characters (Milly, Shirley, and Kallen all kind of sound the same). I was very impressed with Lloyd’s dub voice though, even if nothing will ever amount to his amazing original voice, which is uh, amazing! Seriously. One of the most amusing voices I’ve ever heard. Jun Fukuyama’s voice for Lelouch I found to be a bit too deep/old sounding initially, but that grew on me as well, and I really love the badassity of his voice for Zero. Suzaku’s original voice sounds a little generic at first, but it grows with his character. There’s a good bit of Engrish in the Japanese version as well, which is always fun. I don’t think you can ever get tired of their "Yes, my lord(o)!" or their "All hail Britannia!"
Overall, I’d say the original is damn awesome, and the dub is pretty watchable — always a plus, right?
OVERALL – I really love this series, and I definitely did not see that happening. Honestly, I found the first episode incredibly underwhelming: the opening sequence made it look like a series I wouldn’t be interested in watching at all, and all of the expository really turned me off…but the second episode? That was so much more epic than I could have ever predicted, and I was pretty much won over after that. I’m just a sucker for chess analogies, I guess! Seriously though, good story, good characters, good animation, and good music! Mechas, politics, rivalry and comradery, strained friendships, love and hate, complex ideologies, and blowing shit up! What more could you want? 😀
For some people, the plot, characters, and music alone is bad enough to make the show unwatchable. For others, the high action, flashy animation, and drama will be more than enough to make the show a favorite of all time though I like everything about Code Geass.
Story: Lelouch Lamperouge appears to be a typical high school student at Ashford Academy in the Britannian controlled Area 11 (formerly named Japan.) But he’s actually a prince in the Britannian imperial family, and seventeenth in line to the throne. He develops a hatred for the emperor of Britannia and the entire imperial establishment, vowing to one day destroy them for the death of his mother and cripple of his sister. After an encounter with a mysterious young woman named C.C., Lelouch gains the power of Geass, which grants him the ability to force anyone to do what he wishes. With this ability, Lelouch becomes a mysterious figure named Zero and begins his battle against the Britannian Empire.
Code Geass have too many loose and cliff hanging ends. The end are always left unexplained, leaving the viewer with questions not only about various subplots but also about several key elements of the storyline. However, what makes up for this is the plot and character developments. Every episode is surprising and leave you eager to watch the next episode.
It seems Code Geass mainly focus on the drama, emotion, and the heart-breaking moments. Geass ends up being not so much a story with a certain plot and characters but rather a series of exciting, exaggerated but well-crafted, incredulous and definitely memorable scenes.
Characters: The characters, are so great and awesome that it’s hard to stop enjoying them. There are characters that are a goody too shoe, outright intolerable that will make you want to strangle and kill them off the show. The characters are all so great that something unexpected might happen to them. There are also characters that are naive, filled with too much hate and/or love but in the end, you’ll have a character you like or maybe even love. My favorite character, of course, are C.C., Kallen, and Lelouch.
Art & Animation: Another good thing about Code Geass is its high production values and colorful animation. The character designs, created by CLAMP, are great and well drawn. The animation may not be great but it is detailed, vivid, and lively. The fights aren’t as smooth or fluid as it could be but it’s flashy, colorful, which is very much fitting considering the nature of the series.
Sound: The voice acting also plays a role in the show’s success. Characters like Zero and Suzaku may be outrageous or cliched but their voice actors fit the characters so well that they are able to sell the characters. One of my favorite voice actor, Jun Fukuyama, does a great job playing the key character of Lelouch/Zero. His performance, especially how well he change from the carefree high school student to the more sinister and manipulative rebel is vital to keeping the series enjoyable and entertaining. Fukuyama is usually playing two characters and does it absolutely convincingly. There’s nothing to complain about of the music either as the background music is very good and it fits right in it. The openings for Code Geass are my favorite. It’s very paced and exciting.
Enjoyment: I’ve seen Geass more than 5 times in a row already. (Not counting season 2) This is a nice, great anime. With the non-stop action, you’ll be wanting to see which side will win and lose. For one moment you can be smiling, then crying the next. Happens to me sometimes.
Overall: Code Geass is a awesome anime that will surely gather different opinions from viewers and other reviewers other than myself. I’ve seen and heard a lot of people saying SUNRISE has done an awesome job and it’s not because of the use of mecha, action or drama, but rather how effectively it appeals to that certain aspect of anime that is not often addressed and yet is one of the main purposes of anime: entertainment. If your main interest in anime is in the quality of the storytelling or the characters, then Geass is probably not for you. However, if you’re in it to have fun or for some good laughs, then take a look at this anime. You wont be disappointed. Indeed Geass is a rare accomplishment.
Let me take a step back for a moment, because the truth of the matter is that Code Geass brought with it a genuinely compelling concept, one that could have done wonders if the creators at Sunrise had known what the hell they were doing. It takes place in an alternate universe where a version of the British Empire called Britannia, through various quirks of fate, manages to endure and thrive into the 21st century. After witnessing the assasination of his mother and having his and his sister’s lives ruined by his father, an exiled Britannian prince living under the assumed name Lelouch Lamperouge, out of a desire for revenge against the emperor, rises to become a revolutionary leader in an occupied Japan.
This concept could have gone in any number of directions and in the right hands could have been turned into something truly remarkable. Unfortunately Goro Tanaguchi and his team at Sunrise either didn’t realize the potential of what they’d come up with or were simply too caught up in making a commercially successful product to care. For, you see, although the basic premise survived to see the light of day it has been chained to and obscured by a wide variety of disparate concepts and ideas, none of which add anything of substance to the proceedings. This is a program that wants to be a mecha action series at the same time it wants to be a war drama at the same time it wants to be a romance/harem series at the same time it wants to be a high school comedy while above all else its trying to be Death Note with a copy of V for Vendetta in its pocket. It all gives the impression of a program that’s so terribly frightened of being disliked by any one subset of the anime fandom that it rushes to appeal to every conceivable kind of viewer and as a result is never truly exceptional at any of the things it attempts.
Giant robots, for example, are thrown in for no better reason than to draw in and satisfy the needs of the giant robot fandom. I don’t have anything against mecha per se but neither do I have any great love for it leaving me rather indifferent to it overall. All I ask is that it adds something to the experience, that there is some concrete purpose for their presence motivated by the narrative, that the giant robots aren’t merely props easily interchangeable with any other fantastical weaponry. Full Metal Panic provides, in its continuity, a fairly detailed justification for how its variation on the giant robot concept came into being. Patlabor provides a similarly believable rationale as well. Ride Back would have had a wonderful thematic connection to its motorcycle/robot hybrids had the creators had the sense to utilize a specific scene outside of the end credits. Code Geass has no such virtue. The “Knightmare frames” come across as a ploy just as empty and cynical as Gonzo’s additions of giant robots to their adaptations of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo.
The story itself runs into trouble fairly quickly. In the first episode, Lelouch is inspired to begin his campaign against Britannia when he obtains a supernatural ability called Geass from a mysterious girl wearing a tight-fitting straitjacket. This ability allows him to control the will and actions of anyone he chooses with very few actual limitations. All he needs is direct eye contact with his intended victim and that’s it. By comparison the Death Note has a whole page full of rules and restrictions on its use. As a result, a lot of Death Note’s intrigue is generated from the various ways Light Yagami finds to work with or around those rules. The Geass is almost too powerful by comparison. As a result it makes his decision to start a rebellion in Japan as a means of gaining revenge against his father in Britannia seem a very roundabout way of doing things. It would seem more effective to simply hop a plane home, Geass his way past security to get to his father and that would be the end of it. Its not like Lelouch doesn’t accomplish much the same thing with his brother Clovis at the end of the second episode. Of course, if Lelouch were to actually follow the course simple logic would dictate then he wouldn’t have started his rebellion and Code Geass wouldn’t have had the opportunity to indulge in enough overblown spectacle to shame Michael Bay.
This problem is further compounded by the revelation in the second episode that Lelouch is some sort of super-genius strategist. It’s never explained to any degree where his ability comes from, whether the creators want the viewer to assume that its some sort of blood inherited trait or that he was simply educated on the subject. The most the viewer is allowed to understand is that Lelouch’s “strategic brilliance” has something to do with the fact that he’s good at chess, which, if you actually accept that, only explains a fraction of the schemes that he devises. In the end, as a character Lelouch comes across as little more than a plot devise, a strategy generating machine that provides the series with its single greatest source of overblown spectacle.
Out of the rest of the cast the only character who made, or I should say had the potential to leave in impression on me was the anti-Britannian rebel Kallen. She receives an entire episode devoted to her background as the daughter of a Japanese mother and a Britannian father. Much is made of her identification with the Japanese side of her parentage and how her deceased brother figures into things and there is indeed potential for something interesting here. Unfortunately nothing is ever done with any of these elements. Everything that was brought up in that episode is quickly shelved and never brought up again.
It should be noted that a good portion of the issues I have with the show stem from the fact that Code Geass possesses all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the skull. The result is a heavily calculated experience where the hands of the creators can be clearly seen picking and choosing which ideas or scenarios would have the greatest impact regardless of whether or not they make any sense (coincidences are invoked to the point of absurdity). The first episode alone depicts an ethnic cleansing (a scenario the series portrays twice in its first season) and a bloody mass suicide sure to satisfy the more ghoulish members of the viewership. Fanservice is plentiful and obvious with only a scant few female cast members escaping the first season with their dignity, if they ever had any to begin with.
On the technical side of things there isn’t really a whole lot I can complain about. The animation is smooth well done. The color scheme employed can be a little too bright and cheery for its own good with purple mechs and a city that is lit with pink lighting at night but that is a minor complaint overall. Character designs come courtesy of CLAMP so if you like their artwork you’ll like what you see here. If you don’t like CLAMP then there isn’t anything in Code Geass that will convince you otherwise. The soundtrack, credited to Hitomi Kuroishi and Kotaro Nakagawa, isn’t anything spectacular but it is nonetheless serviceable. It is a competent presentation overall, if only.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch
2. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
4. Naruto: Shippuuden
5. Seirei no Moribito
6. Mobile Suit Gundam 00
7. Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha
8. Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi
10. Terra e… (TV)