They’re the best Anime that 2008 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Ga-Rei: Zero, Kuroshitsuji, Michiko to Hatchin, and more!
10: Ga-Rei: Zero
MAL Score: 7.61
In Japan, there exists a government agency known as the Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division (SDCD), whose duty is to protect the citizens from creatures unseen. They are able to dispatch these monsters swiftly and without alerting the general public. But currently, they face a different challenge: the betrayal of one of their own.
After the death of her mother several years ago, Kagura Tsuchimiya has been fostered by the Isayama family and forms a close sister-like bond with their daughter Yomi. The two become inseparable, and together they work for the SDCD as highly skilled exorcists. However, as the stress and consequences of their sacred duty weigh on them both, and family politics come into play, Kagura and Yomi begin to slowly drift apart. One of them grows earnestly into her role as an exorcist, and the other heads down a dark path from which there may be no redemption…
“Will you kill someone you love because of love?”
Those who have already seen Ga-Rei Zero (GRZ) are probably sick of reading the quote above, but it is nonetheless an effective quote to advertise for GRZ. I still remember what initially caught my interest in GRZ, it was the amazing trailer. Boy, how misleading it was …
Don’t get me wrong, Ga-Rei Zero is quite fabulous indeed. The synopsis may sound generic, but the technique used to present the story that will eventually lead into Ga-Rei (manga) is what makes this gem a success in this recessional era. The excitement level of GRZ can be described by a simple parabolic function (think of the letter “U”), though the initial point stands out a lot more than the ending. This is analogous to say you drop a ball from great height and watch it fall down and slowly climb back up. But no matter how hard it tries, in the end it cannot go back to the initial height.
The plot of GRZ is extremely well thought out and well executed to say the least. Given the length of the series it is a very enthralling little show. Demon hunting may be the first thing come to mind after reading the simple summary of the anime. But what lies beneath that outer layer is the fragile little thing known as friendship and what happens to it when that treasure betrays oneself; that is the true moral of the story. Please keep in mind that GRZ is simply the prequel to the actual story in Ga-Rei (manga) thus you may find some unsatisfactory conclusion with regards to certain people or certain things.
Giant CG rolling dinosaurs on fire seem unnecessary but they served their purpose. The way some of the dramatic scenes were animated could have used a little more work. For instance it is possible to create a more nauseating scene by using a more unique camera angle/position rather than attempting to semi censor the scene with dull lifeless angles. On a more positive note, the animation quality is pretty consistent throughout the series and the characters themselves look great, especially when compared to the drawings in the manga. The battle animations are perhaps the most notable positive feature to the show. Fluid dynamic animation plus smooth scene to scene transitions also helped make GRZ one of the better animated shows of the season. It is evident that a lot of effort has been put into the show by the animation crew, even the backgrounds in each scene is very detailed.
As should be expected from an action oriented anime, the music is very outstanding. From the OP to battle BGM to ED, they all suit their theme well. The OP was nominated by fans as one of the top ten 2008 anime OP. Voicing-wise, Minori Chinhara was great playing as Kagura, and the unrecognizable voice change for the OP just makes it all the better. While there are not many superstar level seiyu (ie. award winners), it seems all characters received a suitable voice for themselves thus you will unlikely to have to clean your ears after watching each episode.
Unlike most single season anime, GRZ is not one where you should marathon through in a day. It is as if Ei Aoki (director of GRZ) just had an uncontrollable diarrhea. He literally dumps all the nasty stuff at you right from the start. You are bound to be confused after the first two episodes. Take it easy, we have all been through that stage. It will be tempting to keep on watching, but take my advice if you want to retain some sanity; stop there and think about what happened so far as things will go downhill from here.
If you don’t quite enjoy watching flying limbs or spurting blood, I suggest you stick to the TV release as they censored the “ugly” stuff in most cases. I also don’t recommend fans of Natsuki Kuga from Mai-HiME (or Natsuki Kruger in Mai Otome) to watch this as there is a certain someone here by the name of Natsuki Kasuga who also happens to be a motorbike chick with strong connection to dual wielding pistols. Though the difference here is how minor a role she plays and the cruel fate that awaits her.
One thing that I didn’t enjoy about GRZ is the sudden appearance of cheesy RPG-like weapons after episode one. Bullet shooting suitcase? Metal drill knuckle? Outrageous combat wheelchair? None of that were in the trailer! And none of those were anywhere near as exciting as the hot motorbike or the dual pistols. Now that I think about it, I feel like I got trolled by the trailer. Anyway, aside from the opening episode I wouldn’t call GRZ particular “groundbreaking”, but it is unquestionably one of the best (if not THE best) action anime for the fall season of 2008.
Admittedly, when I first read the show’s description (which purposely reads generic), I didn’t think the show was going to be that good. So when I gave it a shot, the first episode certainly drew my attention, but I expected once the shocking cliffhangers wore off it’d be a pretty generic, demon-hunting, hero-coming-of-age shounen.
Man, I was dead wrong. GRZ turned out to be biggest surprise of the fall season, and one of the best damn shows I’ve seen, hands down.
Story/Characters: GRZ has a simple story at its heart. The whole demon hunting setting is really just a conveniently action/guro-friendly wrapper for the real story: The making and the breakdown of a strong friendship. What makes the show so powerful is the great job the writers did in exploring and developing the relationship between Kagura and Yomi – that’s when the show really starts to become something special.
Unfortunately, the short 12 episode season doesn’t allow them to provide much background on the other characters and also leaves some loose plot ends hanging (which is probably to be expected, since it’s a prequel to the Ga-rei manga).
But all that’s forgivable, because everything is really all just a foil to Kagura and Yomi in the end. The dynamic between the two drives the whole show. The comedy, the action, the drama and ultimately, the tragedy – everything – hinges on how much you come to like their characters and relationship.
Art: The battle scenes were well-animated and ranged from stylistic to quick and brutal, which despite the fantastic setting, made the show feel more realistic. The character designs were streamlined and attractive, with particular attention paid to Kagura and Yomi’s cuteness/hotness. The monster designs were pretty generic, but they make up for it by making the mythical creatures, Ranguren and Byakuei, look appropriately fierce and majestic.
Sound: The producers of GRZ took some bold sound design chances – such as forgoing the OP/ED in the initial episode – that helped to amp up the show’s atmosphere. The music also stood out throughout the series, especially during the battle scenes: ranging from a rock/techno mix during the exciting, stylistic battles, to the haunting and emotional, vocal-driven arrangement during the final battle. It always seemed to hit the right chord. Voice work was very good with special kudos due to Kaoru Mizuhara (Misao in Lucky Star) and Minori Chihara (Yuki Nagato in TMoHS), as Yomi and Kagura, doing excellent jobs in roles that I wouldn’t have expected from them.
Enjoyment/Overall: If you’re looking for a well-written, action-oriented show (admittedly, not for the squeamish) with really strong character development, I highly recommend GRZ.
Hopefully this review was helpful to you. (Positive/negative) feedback is always appreciated. Thanks!
For those not familiar with the Ga-Rei setting, it is essentially about an agency that hunts rogue spirits using exorcists. A Ga-Rei is a spirit beast that exorcists use in addition to other exotic weapons and traditional swords to fight supernatural enemies.
Story: The storytelling for Ga-Rei was nothing short of amazing. The first two episodes occur chronologically towards the end of the series, but set up a conflict during which the rest of the series tries to explain how events lead up to such a conflict. This leaves the viewer constantly guessing throughout the series, giving enjoyment through suspense. At the same time, the viewer is greeted with several humorous scenes through the show that help lighten the mood and make you enjoy the characters.
Art: The animation for Ga-Rei isn’t extraordinary or anything. It gets the job done. The supernatural enemies look disgusting and allow you to develop a hatred for them. The characters are drawn in a way that you develop interest in them. The action looks fluid and is pleasing to watch.
Sound: What really stood out to me in Ga-Rei was the sound. The background music really fit the mood well and after every episode, it left me questioning when the OST would come out. Furthermore, the Ga-Rei anime comes out with an amazing image and insert song CD, many of the songs which are used in fitting moments throughout Ga-Rei. Both the OP and ED fit the anime as well.
Character: Ga-Rei really focuses on developing the two main characters, Kagura and Yomi. While I feel that the other characters weren’t developed as much as I would have liked, the story is really focused on Kagura and Yomi and only their development is crucial to the story. The way Kagura and Yomi interact together and towards other characters seems appropriate for their age and their past experiences and because of their interaction with each other, they change and part of the story is watching their growth.
Enjoyment: The combination of a great storyline as well as well-done action sequences put to an outstanding soundtrack makes this anime incredibly enjoyable for me. Once you start the anime, at least for the first couple of episodes, it’s almost impossible to stop. The first few episodes demand the viewer to watch them one after another. Combined with the humorous yuri moments and other cute moments, Ga-Rei does its best to tell a story that can both standalone, but at the same time, persuade the viewer to continue the series into the manga.
English: Black Butler
MAL Score: 7.70
Young Ciel Phantomhive is known as “the Queen’s Guard Dog,” taking care of the many unsettling events that occur in Victorian England for Her Majesty. Aided by Sebastian Michaelis, his loyal butler with seemingly inhuman abilities, Ciel uses whatever means necessary to get the job done. But is there more to this black-clad butler than meets the eye?
In Ciel’s past lies a secret tragedy that enveloped him in perennial darkness—during one of his bleakest moments, he formed a contract with Sebastian, a demon, bargaining his soul in exchange for vengeance upon those who wronged him. Today, not only is Sebastian one hell of a butler, but he is also the perfect servant to carry out his master’s orders—all the while anticipating the delicious meal he will eventually make of Ciel’s soul. As the two work to unravel the mystery behind Ciel’s chain of misfortunes, a bond forms between them that neither heaven nor hell can tear apart.
So, Kuroshitsuji is an anime that is labelled “shounen” but I don’t really know why – it’s filled with bishounens, pretty clothes and the fancy Victorian age backdrop with massive shounen ai and shota undertones. Oh, and the obvious gay shinigami who keeps trying to kiss the butler.
The story starts off with an eerie atmosphere, showing a 10 year old child who exchanges his soul for a demon butler to help exact his revenge against the people who killed his parents and humiliated him. Two-three years later they are still together; Ciel Phantomhive the 12 (later 13) year old Earl also the head of his house and company and Sebastian Michaelis, the demon butler who could do anything and together working for the Queen to solve mysteries and at the same time learning about Ciel’s past.
It would have been a great story. If not for the amount of filler episodes that had been injected in due to the lack of material that had come out from the manga and the confusion in later episodes that still left me with many, many questions.
The first and second episodes were indeed spectacular. Instantly there is a dark and mysterious aura and it is well maintained throughout the entire series (except for the idiotic moments with the less than lovable extra staff at the Phantomhive household). Even up to episode 6 it was still good. However, after that it just started to get a little tiring with all the missions they have to carry out. Boring in fact. The second half of the series was entirely all filler; filler that wasn’t even interesting and to put it plainly – all over the place.
As mentioned before, the anime does not follow the manga series exactly but the first half of the series does to an extent. The second half was written exclusively for the anime. Now this is where it goes horribly wrong. Most of the second half’s story made absolutely NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. Take Sebastian’s sudden disappearance for example. For someone who has made an unbreakable contract and who has already done about two years work for Ciel it was a unrealistic that he would leave Ciel. Moreover it was uncharacteristic of him. His personality wouldn’t allow him to do such an act, even if it were to benefit Ciel in the end. Plot twists came from nowhere, justifications and character motivations did not add up and I would end up sitting there by the end of the episode wondering what on earth has just happened. Poor writing plagued the last three-quarters of the series, which is a real shame, considering how much I enjoyed the first six episodes.
When I first heard Sebastian’s and Ciel’s names I laughed. ‘Sebastian’ as the butler’s name, that was so cliché and Ciel ‘Phantomhive’ – now that didn’t sound conspicuous at all did it? Well it certainly did humour me with these obvious names, but the characters themselves aren’t ones that you can laugh at. Sebastian is seriously one badass butler, the anti hero of our story; he can do anything and I mean ANYTHING. After he SEDUCES A NUN to get information he certainly got my respect – the thought of him using such tactics was almost unthinkable (considering all the “sexual tension” between him and his master). And Ciel… well he is bratty. And he certainly does talk a lot of bull when it comes to why he is doing all this and such. What I liked about him though was how the producers practically used him as a doll to model fashion wear of the 19th century.
But these factors do not save them from being two dimensional characters. Sebastian can be thought as the anime parallel of Edward Cullen. Essentially a ‘perfect’ being with zero flaws, devilishly good looks (no pun intended) and abilities to do the impossible he contains no realism in him, more like a fantasy or ideal of ‘the perfect man’. But unlike the Twilight character mentioned there is an almost witty aspect to the butler, as each episode displays his tendency to be mischievous. In all honesty, though he is not much of a character for BEING the main character, he was still quite the fun person to watch as a viewer. Sadly, I cannot say the same for Ciel. As far as I’m concern, he was there for the fanservice – from cross-dressing to wearing scantily clad clothes for a teenage English boy – mass producing shota fans as we speak. His reason for working for the Queen is neither explained nor in line with his prideful personality and his burning desire for revenge towards the people who ‘humiliated’ him is not emphasized or profound enough to take him seriously that he is truly a bitter, angry boy.
The OP and ED were very well done, both musically and animated-wise. Most anime usually does this thing where in the middle of the series they change the opening song and have a whole new animation to it. With Kuroshitsuji they keep the same song but switch around the verses used but have a whole new animation to it. The first ED uses an American song “I’m Alive” by Becca which would catch some off guard. The rock/pop song contrasts greatly with all the other themes uses but is a song that can be easily sung along to. It also is one of the most amusing endings ever with the animation that employs a chibi-styled art showing the day to day activities of Sebastian as a butler. The second ED song is a lot more melancholic to fit the serious second half of the story. The background music is smoothly done and go fittingly well with the scene at hand. As an anime set in the high class 1800s, the production company rightfully uses dark gospel choruses to jazzy themes.
Art and animation was very beautiful and fluid. Grand manors and clothing were all intricately designed and even in the few action scenes A-1 Pictures still had animation kept up – never letting choppy animation to ruin the flow. Everything is very gothic usually with night-settings, religion being brought in and of course, the clothes. Although Ciel did look very adorable in his attire, I felt like the clothes he was wearing were almost asking for him to be molested, which just made the paedophilia and gay overtones a lot more strong.
The most enjoyable part of this anime was the London/Victorian age setting. I was actually quite impressed with how well they displayed and used London and its history, like how they made Bethnal Green the base where all the drug dealers were from or the fact that there used to be fairs on the Thames during the winter when the water turned to ice. The producers did use the London card to the max – playing with different versions of “London Bridge”, using the Jack the Ripper character and displaying the fashion of the time. And of course since it’s set in England there is some engrish, but the best one is Sebastian’s “Yes, My Lord” – makes me smile every time. The setting practically made this anime; I mean if you replaced the setting to a modern time, different place this anime would have immediately failed.
Although I wouldn’t necessarily say it put the ‘shit’ in ‘Kuroshitsuji’ neither would I say this is a spectacular watch. This series was just ‘okay’ to me, it wasn’t particularly special and it’s quite tedious. I have had many unanswered questions formed in my mind and quite a few qualms about it. For those of you who actually read manga I suggest doing so first or instead of watching this since it just contains the main story and does not sell itself short with fan-pandering nonsense.
Will I be watching the second series? Well, yes for numerous reasons. I liked the manga enough to want to see it animated. I want to see if my questions will finally be answered. And most of all I want to find out WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED after the end of the last episode.
STORY – 9
The story of this show is something else. There’s just so much depth, and it’s so cerebral. I’ll definitely have to do some re-watching to get all the little nuances and plot points down. I wouldn’t recommend this show if you’re just looking for some simple anime that would kill an afternoon. This is a thinking anime that touches on a ton of dark and deep issues. You’ll also need to be paying close attention to all the plot twists! These little suckers come out of NOWHERE and twist the story into a completely different direction that one would expect. I was left gasping like fish more than once here. For me, that’s one of the best aspects of this story is those little plot twists. I never know what I’m going to see when watching something like this. Now that I’ve mentioned the good, let’s talk about why I couldn’t give this aspect a perfect 10. After watching the ending, I was left with some unanswered questions regarding some of the details here. While these details didn’t sour the complete story for me (hence the 9), they might sour it for someone else. One detail that they didn’t address did leave me a bit peeved, but my mind made a connection with another story aspect that I could guess was the answer. If everything had been addressed here, this would have been a DEFINITE perfect 10.
ART – 10
A simple word here. BEAUTIFUL!!!! The animation flows so gorgeously in this anime. From the fight scenes to humorous antics to zany parties to heart-wrenching death scenes, absolutely everything here is flows so smoothly and sweetly. An aspect I noticed a lot in this anime was lighting. I don’t see that a lot in anime and found it very appropriate for this title. If the characters were experiencing a dark and horrific scene, shadows and reds played big parts. If they were experiencing light-hearted birthday parties or servant antics, colors were bright, vibrant, and day-filled. Besides just the lighting, the art conveyed the atmosphere so much. It almost seemed to reflect character emotions and fates/destinies as well as set the mood for the anime. You will not be disappointed here! Just a slight warning, though, this anime doesn’t shirk from blood. Not that it’s gratuitous, every scene with it almost requires it and the blood adds to the atmosphere. But do be warned; I wouldn’t let kids watch this.
SOUND – 10
This is the crowning glory in my opinion. Every single piece of music adds to the atmosphere of this anime and leaves a person breathless. It’s so haunting…… It’s full of fast consistent beats for the fighting, chants and drones for the dark, plot-filled moments, sad female-filled melodies for the gut-wrenchingly sad parts, and a soft operatic finish for the final anime finale. There was use throughout the anime of a really fast beat chanting/droning thing used towards some combat and many plot-revealing scenes that I found particularly innovative and unusual. It added something really unique to an already beautiful track of music. The opening and ending themes fit the anime to a tee; the 2nd ending, Lacrimosa by Kalafina, especially fits the ominous ending the anime is barreling towards when this ending comes in. It’s haunting, lyrical, and so emotion-filled. Just beautiful!! Besides the glorious musical score, this anime exhibits very good character voices. I especially loved Sebastian’s dark and low voice. I could imagine my demon butler having that voice. *shiver* I can’t think of any misplaced vocals at all. Everyone was distinct and complete unto themselves.
CHARACTERS – 9
There were so many hidden depths to most of these characters that absolutely no one seems two-dimensional. Everyone is fleshed out to some degree with emotional back stories and plot twists. Oh the plot twists!! There were a lot where it came to character development. I only wish that there had been equal attention to all characters. For some of them, the viewers were left wishing fervently for more. I personally wished the back stories of the servants at Phantomhive were fleshed out more. We are given some back hints in a few episodes and one episode almost completely devoted to the four of them, but not really a lot and I was curious! Oh well. The gradual building of Ciel’s character and his relationship with Sebastian is more than enough to make up for it. There were some characters who I thought I had pegged when something radical happens and their intents and motivations turn in a completely different direction. Again, oh those plot twists!! Gotta love ’em!!
ENJOYMENT – 10
I thoroughly enjoyed this title, unanswered questions and all. My mind can find connections between points where there may be no connection and so I can answer those questions in my own little mind. It was a beautiful and haunting ride that took me on an emotional rollercoaster and through a thorough mind-wringing. There was so much content here, from plot to wacky humor. I loved every bit of it. And the music!! Ack!! I’m going to be haunting ebay and the net in general looking for this OST ASAP!!
OVERALL – 10
I think I pretty much summed it up in the enjoyment section. Everything just came together beautifully and created an anime that has made it to my favorites and re-watchable list. I absolutely adore it and wish there was more!!
With that sadly necessary disclaimer out of the way, let’s discuss Kuroshitsuji. Kuroshitsuji is the story of a boy named Ciel Phantomhive, and his butler, Sebastian Michaelis. Ciel is the head of a toy company, and is also in the employment of the Queen, who enlists him to deal with various mysteries. Why this is the case isn’t really explained, but nonetheless, most of the episodes play out as a Sherlock Holmes style detective series with him solving various supernatural mysteries.
Of course, Ciel is no ordinary boy… he has a contract with his butler for his soul. As you probably already knew, Sebastian is a demon of sorts. He is nigh invulnerable to everything, has amazing skill in pretty much every field, and is basically perfect in every way.
This, however, is the first problem with the series… Sebastian is a massive Gary Stu. He’s simply too perfect. Not once do you feel for him as a character. He is completely overpowered, and is essentially an end all, fix all solution to more or less every single problem the series can throw at any of its characters.
Sadly, the rest of the cast isn’t much better. Ciel Phantomhive is probably the most likeable character in the show, being something of a snarky, deadpan character with a chip on his shoulder the size of Africa. But he has his idiosyncrasies as well… most of which simply come down to him being a complete jerk to everyone. Ciel is generally single-minded, only caring about whatever mission the Queen has given him, or getting revenge on those who ruined his life. The reaper, Grell Sutcliffe, had potential to be a loveable psychopath in the vein of Ladd Russo or any given Hellsing villain, but they eschew the chainsaw wielding, slasher smile route laid out in front of them in favour of making him incredibly, incredibly gay, as though they were trying to make a psychotic badass Leeron. But unlike the aforementioned Gurren Lagann character, they don’t manage to make him nearly entertaining or tongue-in-cheek enough… to be perfectly honest, Grell is just plain offensive.
Another problem with Kuroshitsuji is that it can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. For half the series, it goes down the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes route, painting a great depiction of 1888 London, rolling through themes like Jack The Ripper and Scotland Yard, but for the other half it tries to blend a Tim Burton-esque supernatural demon theme to the mix, and the tone of the series becomes very inconsistent as a result. Both styles are well-executed, but they conflict with each other. If they had been more consistent, Kuroshitsuji would have been better as a result. The character designs also mirror this quite heavily; While we often get a good, 1800s design like Sebastian, we also get overblown, colourful and vibrant designs like those of Grell or the Undertaker that creates a very poor contrast.
Also, there’s something that can occasionally be very jarring, and that would be the anachronisms. Despite the show being set in 1888, you will frequently see things that are very out of place in this time period, like advanced modern handguns, sophisticated chainsaws, and film. While all of these things did exist in some form at this point, none of them do in the form they are shown in. And even more jarring is that most of these are applied to the Reapers, ancient beings that would not realistically incorporate these sorts of things into their supernatural array of weapons.
And on that note, one of the things that annoys me most about Kuroshitsuji is that the demon lore is left completely unexplained, as though they were some sort of afterthought. The reapers hate demons, but why? It’s never given any real mention. There are also Angels, only one of which we ever see, whose purpose and role in the demon lore is never even touched upon, let alone their motives. I think Kuroshitsuji would have actually been better if they had completely left out the angel/demon/reaper aspects of the show and solely focused on the detective angle instead.
The only aspect wherein Kuroshitsuji really shines is the production job. The animation is fluid, and the art style is thoroughly polished, using a blend of dark, rich tones. The 1800s environment is one of the strong points of the series, which makes it all the more of a shame that they so often opt for the Burton-shtick instead. The soundtrack is also very strong, featuring a variety of music fitted to the period, most notably the smooth jazz.
Now, before this reads like an invitation for all the yaoi fangirls to break down my door, let me just clarify this by saying that Kuroshitsuji is not bad. What it is is average. Ordinary. Run of the mill. The only exceptional thing about it being the insane level of fan-pandering it stoops to.
However, there is still one serious problem with Kuroshitsuji not accounted for… the ending. The last few episodes are an evermounting pile of contrived nonsense. Things happen, but no explanation as for why or how is ever really given. No character’s motivations ever make sense. Plot twists come from absolutely nowhere with no foreshadowing or real explanation. It rivals Soul Eater in terms of ridiculous bullshit endings, but at least Soul Eater didn’t leave us on an incredibly dodgy cliffhanger that leads to a second season of pure filler.
Final Words: It had potential, but it ignored it so it could pander to fans.
For Fans Of: Hellsing, Pandora Hearts.
8: Michiko to Hatchin
English: Michiko & Hatchin
MAL Score: 7.84
Under the unrelenting heat of the South American sun, hardened criminal Michiko Malandro breaks out of a high security prison for the fourth time in search of a man from her past. Michiko finds a clue in the form of Hana Morenos, a young girl trapped under the fists of her abusive foster family. In her powerlessness, Hana fantasizes about the day when she is finally whisked away from her captors by her very own Prince Charming. Little does she know that her fated prince would turn out to be the buxom and husky convict who charges in atop a stolen motorbike, claiming to be her mother.
The unlikely duo chase down their dreams in the sun-drenched land of Diamandra, navigating through the cacophony of betrayal, poverty, and child exploitation rings hiding in plain sight. However, wind of Michiko’s manhunt soon reaches the ears of criminal syndicate Monstro Preto, and a storm of gang warfare begins brewing over the horizon…
Michiko to Hatchin is the story of vibrant people and their clashing agendas, and of all the unlikely human connections drawn together by one elusive man.
Manglobe, the production company (and the brains behind), Michiko to Hatchin, have really pushed the boat out with this anime. But then again, they’re no strangers to success or quality, especially as they are the company responsible for Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo. The series was directed by Yamamoto Sayo and is effectively her first full time at the helm of a production, and whilst this may have been a gamble on the part of Manglobe, it’s one that certainly paid off as Michiko to Hatchin has a certain “fresh” quality that I haven’t seen in anime in a long time (not since Cowboy Bebop in fact).
The tale is about an escaped convict named Michiko Malandro and her quest to find her lost, and supposedly dead, lover Hiroshi Morenos. In order to achieve this, she “kidnaps” a girl who is supposedly Hiroshi’s daughter, initially thinking that she would know where Hiroshi is. However the world has changed during her years in prison, becoming at times more brutal and less forgiving.
The decision to set this tale in a quasi-South American (Brazilian), country was a stroke of genius as the creators and director could do things that would never have been included had the show been given a more staid setting. In addition to this, the characters themselves are able to have that little bit more “flair” about them because of the setting, something that initially detracts from some of them until one realises that the gaudiness is all simply part of that character’s persona – more on that later though.
Now fans of Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo will know that Manglobe are able to produce some stunning visuals, and Michiko to Hatchin is no slouch in this department. From barren deserts to lush jungles, from slum shanties to sleek factories, the level of detail is excellent, and well above that of many recent titles. In addition to this, the various settings in which the story takes place have a certain realistic quality about them that belies the fact that this is an anime.
In addition to the great scenery, the characters are extremely unique and well designed, again, adding to the sense of realism about the show. The leads and immediate supporting cast are individuals to a tee, with each character possessing a certain lifelike quality that many anime would find difficult to match.
One area where the show really excels is with the animation. It’s rare to see such lifelike movement in anime, and in many ways the fluidity and natural motion in Michiko to Hatchin represents a step up from that of Samurai Champloo.
Sound is another area where this show works very well. The effects are extremely well chosen and choreographed, and while some may be overwhelming, this is actually purposeful because of the situations the characters may find themselves in. The music used throughout the series is atmospheric and refreshing, and is reflective of the Latin-American feel of the show. The OP, a track called “Paraiso” by the Japanese jazz band Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, is an excellent piece that harks back to the classic “Tank!” of Cowboy Bebop fame. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the ED, “Best Friend” by Karutetto, as it is a bit too “boy-band” for my tastes.
One of the truly great things about Michiko to Hatchin is actually the cast. Manglobe and Yamamoto took the somewhat surprising, move when they chose the actors, opting not for established traditional seiyuu but for established screen actors. However, this seemingly risky choice has paid off in spades for the series. Maki Yoko (Battle Royale II: Requiem, The Grudge), is extremely versatile as the sexy, pouting, hotheaded, and somewhat childish Michiko, whilst Ohgo Suzuka (Year One in the North, Memoirs of a Geisha), is truly excellent in the role of Hatchin as she provides a depth of character that is rare to find.
Which neatly brings us to the characters themselves. Michiko is willful, headstrong, selfish in the extreme, and very childish. Hatchin is somewhat shy and nervous, but also responsible, tidy, and hates laziness. Both leads are extremely well defined from the outset, something which is reinforced as the relationship between the two is extremely combative (the pair are effectively polar opposites). Others like the terrifying Satoshi Batista or the terrier-like (i.e. always chasing Michiko), Atsuko Jackson are also well defined from the start, and through the first few episodes it may be difficult to see how any of the characters are actually developing because of the strength of the characterizations.
One reason for this is because both Manglobe and Yamamoto decided against using normal anime practices for developing characters, and instead chose a far more realistic and subtle approach. One needs only to compare the relationship between Michiko and Hatchin (or even Michiko and Atsuko), at the beginning of the series, with their behaviour towards the end to see exactly how much they have developed as characters. An example of this is the fact that Michiko is initially very much an annoying, sexy, pouting, selfish jerk, however at the end of the series she reminds me of Balsa from Seirei no Moribito. Hatchin, Atsuko and Satoshi also undergo this extremely subtle development (you’ll see how much by episode 20).
I thoroughly enjoyed this series for many reasons, the main one being the fact that this is a show that is not afraid to show the casual brutality of its setting. There will be some out there who didn’t like the way the series ended, however I found the conclusion to be very much in keeping with the essence of the series, whilst at the same time being far more realistic than the endings of most other anime.
Michiko to Hatchin is a rarity in the medium, and should not be prejudged on the basis of one or two episodes. The complexity of each character, the harsh, unforgiving setting, the sometimes brutally real actions of individuals, and the extremely subtle development all serve to make this one of the best shows of 2008, and one of the best anime to appear in the last decade. At times Thelma & Louise, at times City of God, at times Laurel and Hardy, this anime possesses a style and flair that surpasses that of Samurai Champloo – a feat by any measure.
Given the quality of this series, and its previous titles, I’m rapidly becoming a fan of Manglobe.
The world depicted in “Michiko to Hatchin” is this wasteland, a setting fraught with greed and death amid the indigent and the impoverished. This is South America (Brazil), or rather a variation of it. From the gritty alleys, to the squalid shanties and the lush and viridescent landscapes, Manglobe doesn’t disappoint. The setting is not only a beauty to look at but is also something unique and rare that allows the show to take wing and travel regions that are distinctive yet still within the realms of what was initially established. Through this director Yamamoto is able to channel the genius of Watanabe and the result is something unlike any other that challenges and perhaps even surpasses works such as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.
The story chronicles the lives of mainly Michiko Malandro, an escaped convict on a desperate hunt to find a supposedly dead man that was once her everything and Hana Morenas nicknamed Hatchin, the apparent daughter of this man and who Michiko initially thinks is the ultimate clue to helping her achieve her goal. The premise is set, but the main plot is less prominent than what many would expect. In this show it is merely used as a device to tie in many self-contained stories together and give the show a satisfactory conclusion because ultimately this show isn’t about the goal, it never was. The show is about the journey and the bonds that are broken and healed along the way. And the stubborn, immature Michiko along with the self-righteous, mature Hatchin are characters real and charming enough to carry you through this journey and not let you go.
The show also has an astounding soundtrack that lives and breathes nearly as much as the characters do. The energetic soundtrack fits every beat and every pulse of this high-powered train ride, yet also smoothly transitions towards a more melancholy nature when the situation calls for it. Through this the music is able to create remarkable scenes of raw emotion and immeasurable charisma that echo and persist long after you have finished the show. The animation is no slouch in its department either. One of the reasons why Michiko and Hatchin feel so startlingly real is that they look and move like real people as well and while there are times where the animation quality may drop, it still stays very consistent throughout and lends to an experience that is both aesthetically pleasing and emotionally stimulating.
Ultimately this is a series that as well as examining the lengths in which people would go to accomplish their goals, more importantly looks at the bonds that are formed during that time. Michiko and Hatchin go on a dangerous adventure together as a tornado of a tag team, and through this are able to form a relationship that overcomes the trials and tribulations that come their way and even the long and arduous chasm created by time. It is a bond both honest and deep that lies in juxtaposition with the superficial and vapid bonds congesting the streets of Brazil, a strong bond of indomitable love and unending trust. And though there are many instances throughout the series where the two characters pull each other down with their flawed personas to the extent that you would think they are better off without each other, it becomes evident later on how much they need one another, how much more they are able to accomplish with each other as their platforms. The show does well to depict two sides of a relationship, one of anger and disarray during quarrels and also one of a serene and resonant beauty during the rare moments of an embrace and while the show is far from deep or a riddled literary piece of work, it does well to show the power of friendship and love in a realistic manner and the way in which it is able to travel the void of time and always be there right when you need it, proving that love is far from a burden, but rather a privilege. The privilege of being responsible for another.
Sayo Yamamoto’s first work is by no means perfect, but through its unique setting, remarkable soundtrack and captivating characters, she is able to construct a show filled with raw emotions and a flaring style constituting to a heartening, disturbing and riveting journey that in my book is nothing less than a masterpiece.
Michiko to hatchin’s story is rather unusually executed; my original impressions was that the series was episodic but upon completion that statement was a fairly inaccurate description, but in saying that I still find that each episode is ‘episodic’ in its own way. Each episode does contribute to the story being told, but interestingly enough they also provide detail on many background details: such as the lives of a group of kids growing up in the slums Sao Paulo, or even settling in on the business motives of an organized crime network hosting a bullfighting tournament or a prostitution ring etc etc…
To its credit these many moments scattered throughout the series helped maintain my interest throughout the series entirety; each scenario was new and refreshing, each life had something different to offer. Unfortunately, criticisms still need to be considered, as whilst all these many moments managed to pique my interest. I could only feel that they somehow seemed to be a foot-hold in grabbing the viewers attention because the actual story seems kind of trivial in comparison to many of the side-stories.
This observation still only further justifies why i believe this series to be good, as it came up with such a variety of side-stories that managed to maintain a consistently high level of quality, that made the long journey all the more worth it in the end.
One thing that I wanted to point out upon entering this series, is that at the period of time in which Michiko to Hatchin is set. Brazil was going through a revolution. I was personally a little disappointed when I discovered that this series covered very little of that historic event. Not to discredit the series for this because instead of doing that, it’s vivid portrayal of life in Brazil at the time seems particularly plausible and in many ways makes up for my disappointment. Underneath every garbage bin and behind every building, the place oozes with a deep sinister corruption. Everything from the police cover-ups and false justifications, money laundering, prostitution, you name it, this series probably has it.
A positive to all this, is that the series doesn’t try to make a bad name out of all of this. It simply lets its vision unwrap itself never bombarding its audience with moral preaching. This is the lives of these people, are they happy with it? Maybe, maybe not, but at least they are making a living out of what they got, and if what they have is morally ambiguous then why not use its absolute best.
The actual story whilst being rather trivial as I mentioned earlier is twisted around with the many side-stories adding a bit to the series worth. What irks me though is the motivations behind the foundation of the story, our main character Michiko being one of the soul main characters comes across as ditzy and in many ways, really gullible which does little to help with story progression, and most of the story is moved forward by side-characters.
Even with these criticisms, I still must say that Michiko to Hatchin’s ending is probably one of the best conclusions to an anime series that I have ever encountered. One problem I have found with many shows is that they take too long to conclude or the exact opposite where they don’t have a conclusion. Michiko to Hatchin falls fair and square into the middle. Covering everything that it had previously established and no noticable plot threads are left unresolved without seeming to rushed or too slow.
One of the most notable things about Michiko to Hatchin’s story is its interesting cast. The show takes the time and effort to construct a diverse quantity of personality and character traits. I do have a couple of issues with some minor and the main characters, some minor characters (not many) are occasionally used as plot conveniences but even these characters still get some level of development. Emphasizing that this series waste’s no time in establishing its characters personalities, ambitions and motivations, which is certainly a good thing.
One of the best things about watching this series was watching Michiko and Hatchin’s characters develop as the series played out, they’re an unusual and possibly eccentric combination of mother and daughter. Many times I began to wonder if they are even related, like at all, but as a member of the audience, I could feel a relationship present, whilst being slightly unorthodox it was not an impossible relationship to envision. It is entertaining to watch as they interact, learning from each others mistakes. Watching the unusually mature Hatchin take care of the naively reckless but caring Michiko, and vice-versa.
My complaints with some of the characters, are that their motivations are occasionally very vague. A good example would be some of the interactions between Michiko and Atsuko, a few of the outcomes from there encounters are occasionally poorly explained and sometimes a little stupid. Without giving away any spoilers, there was one particular scene where I was screaming at Atsuko in my head for not carrying out a particular action that she had tried so hard to achieve but in the end didn’t carry it out. The reason? Well I might have missed it because the motivation behind it was sort of precarious but the consequences for iit rendered their reasons completely arbitrary.
Our main character Michiko isn’t without fault either, very prone to some questionable actions throughout the series, chasing someone who is clearly trying to get away from her just seems to be a motivation that is slightly beyond my comprehension.
Other than these complaints it was an interesting cast nonetheless and despite these people’s shortcomings, these actions (even the ones that I previously mentioned) never felt out of character and becomes a small plus in my book.
The Art whilst not anything spectacular is very clean and this quality is constant throughout the entirety of the series. The most notable moments are seen in the many action sequences. Each scenes choreography was well animated rarely ever resorting to cheap techniques (and if the series did they were very well disguised). Each scene had a fluidity all on its own, it was fast-paced when it needed to be, retrospectively it was slow when demanded and normal between these many moments. Each frame never felt out of place when actions were being displayed. I mention this because the sheer breadth and style of the many action sequences in this series never lets up and the art knows how to dictate the adrenaline pumping moments and thus contributes to the series well-established atmosphere.
One of the best things about Michiko to Hatchin is the background designs. Never before have I seen a 3rd world/2nd world country presentation as detailed than I have in Michiko to Hatchin (with a possible exception of “Flag”) in an anime/manga series. Everything from the large open spaces accompanying a desolate road; to the slum, crime ridden districts of Brazil’s many cities, towns and communities. The level of detail that goes into many of the locations emphasize the tensions building in each district and community.
The character designs across the board are very commendable, and I loved how all the characters have a degree of acceptable realism to them. Whilst Michiko the main lead has a busty accentuated figure, her figure is complimented by the shows diverse characters and as mentioned previously with their large range of personalities, the same can be said for each character’s designs. Figures often appear in a versatility of chubby, well-groomed and formal, poor and hungry, old and young character types. Serving to make the characters far more relatable, increasing the series impact.
One particular aspect of the art that I wish to take into consideration is actually the opening and ending credits. One thing I loved about this series was the mesh of beautiful textures that I witnessed upon entering and leaving every episode. With a hint of photo-shop thrown into the blend of pseudo-phantasmagorical art reminiscent of a retro-American psychedelic hippie movement.
Michiko to Hatchin’s soundtrack is a well-made and thoroughly appropriate soundtrack with a collaboration of string instrumentals, mostly of the ukulele and acoustic guitar, with a common accompaniment of percussion instruments such as the timpani, bongos and such. A lot of the songs in the series ost are wildly and energetically presented, catering to the fun and adrenalin-soaked and occasionally sexually fused atmosphere that the series provides.
Some of the tracks are particularly memorable, most notably the opening sequence with its bubbly bebop jazz style. Effectively melding its complex harmonics making it an absolute blast to listen to, with the show forcing me to listen to it every single time I started a new episode, and that is definitely a good thing.
Each track adequately sets the tone of each scene and never fails to boast an exciting entourage. Overall I see no reason to complain about the ost. It is effective, different and great to listen to.
Overall, this show does have a couple of faulty points, where entertainment value can be somewhat lacking on a couple of occasions and at times I felt the characters make stupid decisions but they are few and far between. And as I mentioned before, rarely do those stupid decisions seem out of character, so if anything it helps benefit the series.
Altogether this series is a quality adventure taking place in an untouched landscape. It has a positively balanced story with non-repetitive scenario’s, the show never tries too hard at what it does and loves to revel in its own world. It knows its limits and actively makes use of that boundary. It is a vision that is both refreshing and entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who shares a delight in venturing into a world of interesting characters and constant thumping of a glorious beat in every background.
7: Soul Eater
English: Soul Eater
MAL Score: 7.85
Death City is home to the famous Death Weapon Meister Academy, a technical academy headed by the Shinigami—Lord Death himself. Its mission: to raise “Death Scythes” for the Shinigami to wield against the many evils of their fantastical world. These Death Scythes, however, are not made from physical weapons; rather, they are born from human hybrids who have the ability to transform their bodies into Demon Weapons, and only after they have consumed the souls of 99 evil beings and one witch’s soul.
Soul Eater Evans, a Demon Scythe who only seems to care about what’s cool, aims to become a Death Scythe with the help of his straight-laced wielder, or meister, Maka Albarn. The contrasting duo work and study alongside the hot headed Black☆Star and his caring weapon Tsubaki, as well as the Shinigami’s own son, Death the Kid, an obsessive-compulsive dual wielder of twin pistols Patty and Liz.
Soul Eater follows these students of Shibusen as they take on missions to collect souls and protect the city from the world’s threats while working together under the snickering sun to become sounder in mind, body, and soul.
This show is incredibly stylish, literally everything has a very cool vibe about it and really stands out from other similar animes. If FLCL and Bleach came together and had a love child, that child would be Soul Eater. The characters are all likeable and unique, even if they do follow the list of shonen anime stereotypes (loud kid who wants to be the best, check; quiet cool guy, check; self-depricating girl who holds much potential power, double check.) The adult characters are less stereotypical than the kids, which can make them more interesting to watch in certain episodes, however. Even if their personalities are familiar, there is enough unique and enjoyable about them that it never becomes a problem.
The fights themselves are very well animated and choreographed. They’re all ridiculous and cartoony, but they are always visceral and exciting to watch. The progression is also very shonen in nature, with enemies that are way stronger than the heroes, and the heroes having to train to beat them and gain new powers, but again its so entertaining it shouldn’t become a big issue. The fights are all about style and execution though, and if you keep that in mind and don’t analyze them with rational thought, they all become very entertaining and exciting. The first 26 episodes are great flashy entertainment for anime fans.
I really wish I could stop the review at this point, and tell you Soul Eater is a really fun shonen series that fans of action anime should see. Now the bad point of the show, the entire second half of the series. Around the halfway point, Soul Eater changes from a lighthearted, entertaining fun action anime into a serious, melodramatic action anime. The story starts to take itself way too seriously, and the enjoyment of this anime greatly suffers because of this. When your anime is about people who transform into guns and swords who fight witches, it’s kind of hard to take the change in tone seriously.
Soul Eater ends up losing most if not all of its charm because of this drastic and unnecessary shift in tone. All of the characters become whiny punks who sulk all day, and Maka becomes borderline unbearable as a main character with her melancholic attitude and constant bitching about how she’s not strong enough to fight the main enemy of the show. All of this nonsense comes together in a final episode that is so ridiculous I would sound stupid if I tried to explain it in this review. Let me just put it to you this way, all themes the show was building up to this point are thrown out the window, the main villain turns into a gigantic pansy, and the logic behind the ending makes absolutely no sense in the grand scheme of the show. Oh, and it tries to copy Evangelion in ways that are so unnecessary and artistically nonsensical in the show that I laughed out loud when I first saw them in this episode.
What in the world happened to Soul Eater? What happened to this really fun, always entertaining action anime in the second half of the show? What is with all this ridiculous emo nonsense that gets introduced in the second half? How the hell could Bones, the studio behind Fullmetal Alchemist and Eureka Seven fail so badly at this show? I have no idea how to answer any of these questions. If you are going to watch Soul Eater, watch the first 26 episodes, and then stop. Otherwise, you are in store for one of the strangest, confusing, and most disappointing action animes ever made. Come on Bones, you are better than this.
Final Grade, C-
The first few episodes start off as prequels for the main seven characters – three ‘Meisters/Technicians’ and their ‘Weapons’. These episodes are ones that I found to be somewhat disjointed, and to be honest I probably would have given up on the anime after 4 episodes or so if it wasn’t for aforementioned pally. Swiftly afterwards, once the main characters start to interact together, I was hooked. And shortly after that when the frankly ingenious support characters were introduced and fleshed out, I was manic about it to the point where I was screaming in outrage at the screen if any other character DARED to so much as harm a hair on their heads.
Plot – [7/10] I wouldn’t describe the plot as being either typical or particularly inventive. I will say, however, that it does dangle a standard premise in front of you for a good few episodes (in order for a Technician to turn their Weapon into the ultimate Death Scythe, they must collect 99 evil souls and then one Witch’s soul; cue epic quest) and then almost entirely removes it for something much better – a pleasant surprise that, as I understand it, doesn’t quite happen in the manga. While some elements of the plot remain unclear and somewhat incomplete by the end of the series, I ultimately felt that it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment. Bar the very last scenes, unfortunately, in which I was left starving for a bit more of a tie-up, or better yet, a follow-up montage in the ending credits. Still, I suppose that’s what the manga’s for.
Characters – [9/10] The meat of Soul Eater, with some big-name voice actors who really give the characters life. Firstly, we have Miyano Mamoru-san (Yagami Light of Death Note, Kiba of Wolf’s Rain) as the symmetry-obssessed Death the Kid (an awkward-sounding name, I have to say, that belies a truly slick character); the ever-prolific and utterly fabulous Koyasu Takehito-san (Sakarazuka Seishirou of Tokyo Babylon, Zechs Merquise/Milliardo Peacecraft of Gundam Wing) as the Weapon Excalibur, who will surprise you in several different ways with his presence throughout the series; and Kobayashi Yumiko-san (Sarah McDougal of Love Hina, Dan Taichi of Prince of Tennis) as the headstrong Black*Star, to whom a nod must go for the most subtle yet engaging main-character development; to name a few. On top of these, Soul Eater showcases a surprising amount of young, new talent – notably, the voices of Soul (the title character) and Maka Albarn, the female lead who I unfortunately found to be incredibly irritating.
Let me make my point hard on this. Maka is hard-working and academically very smart, with a down-to-earth attitude that helps her to deal with her absent mother and womanizing father, who recently divorced prior to the start of the series. But (and oh, it’s a big But) it doesn’t last. Rather than character growth, we seem to have a case of the exact opposite as the series progresses. Maka repeatedly ends up making absolutely ridiculous decisions that can in no way be logically justified. As much as I don’t like to use Naruto as a comparison, I think I have to. Maka’s choices aren’t a Naruto-style situation wherein Naruto makes sometimes-stupid decisions because of his raw emotions, because that’s Naruto’s character and way of life; plus, Naruto has (for the most part) the strength to back up his convictions. Maka, on the other hand, does not. Not only that, but she apparently doesn’t learn from her monumental mistakes. And /then/ she’ll bitch to the series’ headstrong character Black*Star about how he acts before he thinks. Though, come to think of it, at least Maka isn’t exactly a hypocrite on that matter because it’s shown that she does in fact think about her actions before she carries them out, comes to the conclusion that it’s stupid… and then does the wrong thing /anyway/. If it wasn’t for almost every other character providing sustained interest and sheer compelling brilliance whenever Maka’s off-screen, I think Soul Eater would fall far short of greatness.
Art – [9/10] And of course, there can be no characters without the visual art. While the quality of the animation itself is fairly standard shounen-style fare, the rating for this section gets bumped up enormously for originality. The designs of virtually everything – from the fantastically surreal moon and sun to the laboratory of the anime’s resident Mad Scientist (who would have an entire paragraph in the above section if it wouldn‘t turn into an essay on why he’s such a /darn good character/ on both an emotional and a story-telling level) to the eyes of the later villains – positively shines with mouth-watering creativity. I could wax lyrical about the brain-melting inventiveness of the character designs all day. It’s honestly worth watching for the artistic genius alone.
Music – [8/10] With the exception of the very first ending theme (which was painful, if I’m honest), I thoroughly appreciated each different ending and opening. They were well-chosen and fitted the style and feel of the anime well. The music used throughout the episodes themselves suited the atmosphere wonderfully – the fighting music was driving, the sad-scenes music was sorrowful and the cheery music gave the anime a smile. While it wasn’t as memorable as, say, the music to Gundam Wing or Gintama, it did its job in style. Also in this section, I’d like to add that the song sung by the Weapon Excalibur made me almost die of Sheer Heart-Rending Joy.
Overall – [9/10] Easy to watch and a great mix of creepy, surreal and fun. Objectively, I’d give this a high 8, and then I’m going to take the liberty of bumping it up to a 9 for the downright enjoyment I experienced with this show. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Full Metal Alchemist or Gintama – or, for that matter, any shounen manga/anime – as well as anyone who enjoyed the quirks of such series as Ouran High School Host Club.
Soul Eater is one of the most unique anime’s I have ever seen in the sense of graphics and story. The graphics are ultra-high quality, along with very interesting anime cut-scenes. Soul Eater has a little taste of everything an anime should have – a first-class story, superior graphics, a modest bit of pervert, and a VERY interactive world. Camera angle and character motions are very musical, flow very well with each other, and so on – which is one of the biggest plus sides to this anime. The characters are very fun and surprising – which is a big part of the story.
10/10 ~ Epic.
This review will be updated as the series progresses.
If you did in fact find this review helpful, I do take value in my “” rating, so please take a moment of your time to tell me how you liked this review.
6: Macross F
English: Macross Frontier
MAL Score: 7.91
Following a catastrophic war against a race of giants known as the Zentradi, humanity has escaped towards the center of the galaxy aboard a fleet of colonial vessels called the Macross Frontier. As the extraterrestrial threat is left further and further behind, life on Macross Frontier proceeds as usual.
In the year 2059, a young mecha pilot trainee named Alto Saotome and his colleagues are preparing to perform an accompanying routine for the famous singer Sheryl Nome, who has come to Macross Frontier for a concert. During the performance, a biomechanical alien species known as the Vajra make a sudden appearance, breaking through the defensive perimeter surrounding the vessel and crash-landing near the concert venue, plunging the entire city into chaos. As the concertgoers evacuate, a young girl named Ranka Lee is left behind and gets targeted by the Vajra, but she is saved at the last minute by Alto. Following these events, the Strategic Military Services program notes Alto’s skill in battle, resulting in his recruitment to combat the new alien threat.
“Simple, easy to comprehend plot. Skillfully developed love triangle. Masterpiece level animation and music.”
To those who are new to the Macross franchise, you can find some info on it here. Now first to clarify a thing for those who are confused with the “Macross Frontier Deculture Edition”. The difference is simply that the Deculture Edition is the “pilot episode” of the TV series. Another way of putting it is an OVA version of episode 1 of the TV series which was aired ~3 months later.
Taking place 47 years (story-wise) after the original series, Super Dimension Fortress Macross. We are now in the year 2059 AD. The Space War with the Zentradi was long since over and the new migration fleet, Macross Frontier, is now under attack by a new alien race. The story revolves around a love triangle and how the three cope with each other while dealing with the threats from the aliens.
The battle animations are absolutely STUNNING. Fluid CG battle animations to very detailed character outlook are very much the highly for the show. One can even tell that the background for most scenery were well thought out and well designed. Oh, and very consistent quality of animation.
“1st Anime Album in 11 Years to Rank in Japan’s Top 3”
“Two Macross Frontier Singles in Japan’s Weekly Top 10”
“All four of the Macross Frontier singles that have been released have debuted at #5 or higher.”
How does that sound for starter? The Macross series were largely famous for its music as they all played an integral part in every single Macross title. However, one can say Macross Frontier have taken the anime song industry to a whole new golden era! Both the singer and seiyu responsible for singing the second OP won awards for their fabulous works.
A lot of characters developments happened in the latter half of the series making it a bit boring to watching in the beginning (as far as characters are concerned). However this is balanced by Sheryl Nome’s character development which was extremely well done especially toward to the end of the series.We also be Alto and Ranka mature over time (albeit very late in the series).
The series as a whole was very well made with amazing sound effects and graphic. The love triangle between the 3 protagonists was interesting to watch as well. It was painful to see the show end, but at least it was announced that a movie is underway.
*Update on February 10, 2009*
If you liked Macross Frontier, you may be happy to know that it was voted by anime fans a week ago as THE anime of 2008. In addtion, May’n (Sheryl’s singing VA) also got voted as one of the top anime singer.
One of Frontier’s most endearing aspects is that it carries the Macross mythos while never alienating new audiences. Bringing with it all the cliches and plot devices that relegate the Macross universe, Frontier tells an solid stand-alone story that still connects well with the previous series before it. Frontier also succeeds in carrying as many twists as red herrings. This is bound to keep the audience on their feet and doubting any obvious plot twist. Viewers may be disappointed later on though, when some plot twists turn out just like they predicted.
The cast of Frontier is one of those red herrings. From the start, the characters are fresh, lively and interesting, but it’s all a lie because about a quarter of the way through, they all turn into relegated one-dimensional personas and some, like the sad case of main character Alto, stay that way the entire series. Frontier also suffers character-wise from a large starting cast. Many members of the cast will often be unseen for several episodes because so much time is rightfully demanded of Ranka and Sheryl. Because of this, the series does not properly develop anyone’s character, outside an episode dedicated to a single character.
Comparing Frontier to it’s primary ancestor is a dramatic change in animation. Frontier makes full use of CG for concert scenes and battle scenes, and does so without giving the series a tacky feel. Everything looks fluid and detailed, but the series has a penchant for being too detailed in which so much goes on in a single frame that it’s hard to follow, though its arguable if that’s a flaw or not given the psychedelic feel of the concert scenes.
Though Yoko Kanno’s OST is not one of her better works, the sound spotlight falls heavily on newcomers Megumi Nakajima and May’n, who lend their singing talents to Ranka and Sheryl respectively, giving us a jukebox’s worth of catchy tunes each with their own distinctive style. From the viral Deculture jingle to the solemn "Diamond Crevasse" to the surrealistic bubblegum pop of "What ‘Bout My Star", there’s more than enough here to keep your ears happy the whole series length.
Macross Frontier was a series whose characters irritated the bejeezus out of me, but with a solid story, beautiful animation, and steller music, I could tolerate them enough to end this series with a smile on my face. If you’re unfamiliar with the lengthly Macross franchise, this latest installment to the mythos has enough great elements to sell you on checking out the rest for sure. I know it has for me.
Overall, I give Macross Frontier an 8 out of 10.
Most series can be summed up in a few words, and regardless of their implications, some descriptions may throw you for a loop. When you hear the words triangles, music, missiles, more music and even more missiles, what is it that you think of? Most well-versed anime viewers should be thinking of the Macross franchise, as this can effectively sum up a great portion of what it’s all about, ranging from the original series to the latest installment entitled Frontier.
Macross Frontier happens to be a fairly ordinary anime that in its simplicity, loses direction as it progresses, only to attempt to get back on track after wasting lots of time. When you break it down, at least half of the episodes are fillers, and a majority of the rest are short arcs that don’t really connect and flow together to form a solid plot like any good series would. Since this is not an episodic series, this format begins to hurt itself in the long run, as only little bits of crucial information about the grand scheme of things are revealed throughout the series. This makes the progression of the main plot very slow and unnecessarily dragged out. It’s not until the final third of the series that it decides to focus on what can be considered the main plot. Up until this point, the plot was nothing more than a simple “Defend the human race from unknown aliens”, which is already weak in and of itself as it’s really just a poor excuse for some mecha action, but it decided to take a sharp 180 and go down the oh so wonderful conspiracy route.
With this development that couldn’t help but be expected many episodes prior, everything starts to become a giant mess. This was hinted to a few times throughout the beginning of the series, usually only for a very short time period in select episodes displaying things like undercover discussions or trades, so it’s not like it came on unforeseen by the audience. If anything, it happened far too late, as the motives behind Grace and Leon who were originally working together are hardly delved into, and they simply play the bad-guy role because the series needed a better antagonist than random aliens. Both individuals having very grandiose goals of wanting to rule the universe, you can’t help but wonder how they actually planned on executing this in the first place. It is only explained after Grace O’Connor, the great evil mastermind behind everything, had her plans proceed to completion without any hitch at all. Now, having full control over the Vajra, it’s pretty safe to say she holds much more power than anyone else currently, yet, of course, is defeated by the power of… music (Catchy j-pop music at that). A lot of build up was wasted in favor of going this predictable route, and it is basically the equivalent of beating the bad guy through the power of friendship. At the very least, they tried to give some basis for this being possible with information from earlier episodes explaining the power of music within the Macross universe.
Seeing as this all happened in the span of a few episodes, it’s safe to say that pacing became a huge issue, and solidified the fact that most of the other episodes were nothing more than “filler” and short arcs. They could have used this time to begin to develop the plot, but that wasn’t the case. They may as well have cut out these episodes in favor of getting straight to the point, rather than extending the series unnecessarily. With the remaining episodes not being devoted to plot advancement, some character development should be expected in them, however, it’s nowhere near as much as there should have been for how much time was devoted to this aspect. A majority of the remaining episodes used most of their time focused on the love triangle between the three main characters, but the events and developments that took place were usually undermined due to the indecisive and undeveloped protagonist of the series, Alto Saotome. He is also better known by some of the characters as Princess Alto, and for good reason.
And while it may not all necessarily be because of him, he is directly involved in many of the simple plot conveniences used to keep the love triangle from moving forward. Whether it be going out to fight against the Vajra during a crucial time when he was supposed to be with Ranka, or Ranka seeing him with Sheryl and then wallowing in her own sadness about it afterwards. However, with Alto being the resident princess of the series, it’s not a far stretch to say he certainly can act like one at times. Ranging from his daddy issues leading to him running away from home to become a pilot, or how he likes to ignore any real problems that he faces, there’s almost nothing about him that doesn’t scream “Princess”. He even has gorgeous flowing locks of hair to accentuate this. In fact, I have no doubt that some would start to question his manhood, as he practically ignores any advances from both Sheryl and Ranka, which goes back to him being largely at fault for the triangle never progressing. Any time it seems like he’s made up his mind about who he wants to be with, the next episode has some bad news for you, as he basically does the equivalent of saying “Just kidding!”, and begins to show what can be considered interest in the opposite girl. As for the whole “Princess” nickname and his daddy issues, they are touched on briefly, but it comes off as nothing more than the writers quickly throwing together some semblance of a back story so that they could pass him off as more than your average self-insert main character.
Having Alto bounce back and forth between who it seemed he was interested in clearly shows which characters are supposed to be the selling point of the series, and of course, I can only be talking about Ranka and Sheryl. Long winded fan boy name calling and debates aside for now, they both have their ups and downs as characters.
Ranka, who is easily the character who receives the most focus in the series, happens to be the one who receives the least development for all the time she spent on screen (Go figure). She manages to slowly get over her timid nature when it comes to singing, but only because of the encouragement Alto gives her throughout the series. Although this was good however, even with her having the most interaction with other characters and general screen time, she never developed a reason for singing past doing it for Alto’s affection. Due to the fact that the time spent on her was poorly utilized, her development was hindered in the long run. This is made especially apparent when you see that a few of the side characters have more motivation for their actions than she does. For the sheer amount of focus the series gave her character, seeing them do nothing with it past the first few episodes was disappointing to say the least.
Sheryl, on the other hand, plays a much more interesting role in the series. Many pass her off as “Bitchy”, “Overly arrogant” and many other demeaning terms from the moment she appears on screen, but she manages to easily become the best character in the cast. With her status established right from the beginning, it’s not unfitting for her to act much like she runs the place. Providing a stark contrast from Ranka, Sheryl is confident and domineering to an extent, yet still caring of others, shown by her attitude towards Ranka and Alto. She eventually softens up a bit, mostly due to her feelings for Alto since he doesn’t worship her like everyone else in the colonies. The struggle she goes through while falling from the top as Ranka took over is far more believable than anything Ranka or Alto went through. Having to cope with her fall from stardom, as well as her impending death due to a disease, she accepts these facts and still tries to move forward, doing the only thing she can do: sing. This made her far more endearing to the audience by the end of the series, as this shows her confidence wasn’t simply based on her status as the Galactic Fairy, but her strength of will that was built up through living her old lifestyle of complete poverty. While she did remain mostly static, what she went through didn’t feel contrived, much like the case was with Ranka.
But of course, like many other series, one of the biggest problems Macross Frontier presents is the ending. Again, I find myself questioning Alto’s sexuality, as the ending provides zero closure for what is considered the main focus of the series: the love triangle between the three main characters. This is Macross, the plot is only there to help move the romance forward, and that’s one thing Frontier severely failed at. Not only was Alto himself preventing it from taking a big step forward with his indecisiveness and constant character changes, the sheer amount of conveniences that kept the character’s relationships from developing sure didn’t help either. Like I mentioned, the filler episodes would mostly focus on the love triangle, but focusing on it is not the same as actually having it progress. Regardless of how much it actually progressed by the end, a conclusion is needed, and that’s something the series never provided. While it was very heavily suggested that Sheryl “won” before the finale, the final moments of the series throw the entirety of the few episodes Alto was together with Sheryl right out the window, and has Ranka enter the competition once more.
As we all know, Alto has a major fascination for the sky, more so than for the two girls who fawned over him for the entire series. So what does he do? He doesn’t clearly choose either girl, but instead chooses the mother fucking sky. Whether it was intentionally done this way so that the Sheryl and Ranka factions wouldn’t destroy the world due to a simultaneous outburst of angry fan boys crying over the fact that their waifu “lost”, or because they wanted to leave it up for interpretation, it doesn’t change the fact that giving no closure severely impacts the series in a bad way. And when one of the main selling points of the Macross franchise is left untouched, it leaves nothing more than disappointment in the eyes of fans and newcomers alike. While making no decision on which girl the main character wants to be with may be a common occurrence in most harem series, it should not be the case when there is only a love triangle at hand. When ample time is given to devote to two characters and their interactions with the main character, going down this route is nothing more than a bad decision as it should be nearly impossible to get fans to feel satisfied with this kind of ending. It was a shame to see them use this kind of cheap exit strategy after putting forth the effort to develop the relationships in the series.
After all of this, there’s nothing left but disappointment in the series. There may have been good j-pop, great action scenes, as well as throwbacks to previous entries in the franchise ranging from songs, to name drops and simple phrases, but that only adds to the enjoyment factor. And as most intelligent people will know, even that isn’t enough to save a series which continually makes mistakes along the way. At the end of the day, Macross Frontier had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it was ruined by Alto who could not manage to keep the series flying smoothly.
5: Eyeshield 21
MAL Score: 7.93
Sena is like any other shy kid starting high school; he’s just trying to survive. Constantly bullied, he’s accustomed to running away.
Surviving high school is about to become a lot more difficult after Hiruma, captain of the school’s American football team, witnesses Sena’s incredible agility and speed during an escape from some bullies. Hiruma schemes to make Sena the running back of his school team, The Devil Bats, hoping that it will turn around the squad’s fortunes from being the laughingstock of Japan’s high school leagues, to title contender.
To protect his precious star player from rivaling recruiters, he enlists Sena as “team secretary,” giving him a visored helmet and the nickname “Eyeshield 21” to hide his identity.
The Devilbats will look to make their way to the Christmas Bowl, an annual tournament attended by the best football teams in Japan, with “Eyeshield 21” leading the way. Will they be able to win the Christmas Bowl? Will Sena be able to transform from a timid, undersized freshman to an all-star player? Put on your pads and helmet to find out!
Eyeshield 21 is definite shonen sports anime. Heck, its even sponsored by the Japanese NFL and received backing in the United States as a football series on a sports channel. And now,…don’t get turned off. Because if you do, you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining series people disregard just because of its non-traditional anime content.
Please, please, don’t dump this series just because its football. I cannot but regret that I did put off watching this and suffered my way through crap series like Blade of the Immortal. My 2 cents on why you should watch (if you don’t want to slog your way through the rest of this):
• Typical plot (yet this works perfectly fine for this series), interspersed with drama, comedy, and laugh your head off antics of its marvelous characters.
• Marvelous characters (I said it but I will say it again), You will love the characters of Eyeshield, because even Sena isn’t as annoying as it seems. And…Hiruma will send you to hell if you don’t watch this.
Now that you’re here:
Characters: To put it simply, there is nothing bland about Eyeshield’s cast. From Sena’s traditional shonen perserverance, to Hiruma’s demonic avarice (and he will become your favorite as well), Eyeshield 21 does a masterful job of designing to characters to both appeal to viewers and to transition their interactions with each other smoothly. The rivalry between Sena and Shin is also nonclichedly carried out, and all the supporting characters get their own backstory as well. To tell the truth, I don’t even think that the supporting characters were even ‘technically 2nd tier’. You cannot but feel for the other characters such as the quarterback of the Zokugaku Chameleons whose delinquent team cannot hold themselves together. And so yes, the characters of Eyeshield are not just comedic, but serious, dramatic, and all the time flawed in some way or another. There’s not fun in watching perfect characters now is there?
Plot: Well, its straightforward enough: team has a dream, team wants to go to Christmas Bowl, team must defeat rival teams, team must work together, team must train, then team must win. But this is all you need to watch Eyeshield. It’s 145 episodes does more than enough to advance the adrenaline pumping scenes of the matches. Between moments of drama and football action is raucous comedy which borderlines on the absurd (cough Hiruma gun toting blackmailer), yet makes it more funny all the same. Now come to think of it, you don’t watch a sports series too much for the plot as more for the character development and anime action.
Sound and Graphics: Nothing too shabby here. The BGMs were great, the Ops and EDs were equally great. Eyeshield does a decent job of fitting its sound to its action scenes. The animation is more than adequate for the heart pumping football action scenes. Of course its NOT realistic. Who would want to watch realistic football for 145 episodes? Nah, this is where you see special moves like those in DBZ like Sena’s Devil Bat Ghost, Kid’s Rapid Fire Throw. (No fantastical equipment, mind but enough specialty to make you want to continue watching.) That said, animation is definitely decent for this series.
Entertainment/Replay Value : This is something I wouldn’t mind watching more than once. The one bone I have to pick with the series is its sometimes slightly traditional fillers, which it has to have in its 145 episodes. But even with that, Eyeshield 21 is hilarious, action packed, and a touchdown for us viewers.
Poptart’s Rating: 8/10
Enters Eyeshield 21 that features a with unorthodox players such as shorty, porky and a Demon. The plot is very simple, about an errand boy who became a superstar in a game played by monsters and his team, the Devil Bats journey to National Championships, the Christmas Bowl. It highlights the rivalry of the main character, light speed runningback Kobayakawa Sena known as Eyeshield 21 and Linebacker Shin Seijurou who is considered as the perfect player. Like other shounen stories, the protagonist grows strong stronger as he faced stronger opponents until the final decesive battle against his rival.
What everyone loved in this anime is its character development and as a sports themed anime, ES21 expressed the importance of teamwork better.
ES21 can be a manual itself and gradually showed the rules of the American football. This sports unlike any other team sports is a game of specialties and choosing a position is very vital to he outcome of the team. In the Devil bats case, the team is composed usually of inexperienced guys (and some are weaklings) relying only on their lifestyle, natural talents, hard work and rushed training. Here are their ligitimate line-up:
QB- H. Youichi – the devilish trickster and master of psychological warfares.
RB/TB- K. Sena- former errand boy with lightspeed legs
RB/FB- Ishimaru – helper from the track & field club
WR- R. Tarou – dedicated follower of a Baseball catching superstar
WR- Yukimitsu- his life was spent on academics
C- K. Ryoukan- a guy who knows nothing but power
G- Y. Daikichi – a loyal apprentice of Kurita
G- Ha -thugs
T- Ha -same-
T- Brothers -same-
Considering these data, thechances of playing forthe national championship was estimated 0.1% but saccording to their Leader, Hiruma-sama, as long as its not completely zero, winning is still inevitable.
Compared with other sports anime, I’d say Eyeshield 21 is the smartest of them all. This anime proves that winning isn’t only a matter of skills, athleticism, work ethic and determination, it takes some deep tactics, calculations and brainstorming to outwit the opposing team and to stand on the battlefield.
After watching this anime, surely you’ll never doubt that David really toppled Goliath. Ya-ha!
Plot: Well, the story follows student Kobayakawa Sena, who just got accepted to Deimon High School, Sena is pretty much a whimpy kid who gets bullied around by others, while running away from some bullies, a Senior Student, Hiruma Youichi, the captain of the Football club notices that Sena is really fast, and wants him to join, and after a rather strange series of events, he ends up joining the Football Team( or Amefuto, as they call it, yeah, idk).
So basically, there’s a team, team has a dream, going to the Christmal Bowl (Highschool Football Tournament in Japan), but they have to do it that year, since Hiruma and his fellow student Kurita Ryoukan are graduating that year, they must train, and beat the other rival teams, from which the most recurring ones are the Oujou White Knights and the Shinryuuji Naga.
It’s 145 episodes for the anime (and 333 for the manga) and even though it sounds long, it’s very entertaining and worth the time, the matches between teams are great and really entertaining. Besides the football matches, there’s also a lot of comedy in this series, most which is absurd, which makes it even better, although most of the time, it is delivered by Hiruma, which makes it even better!
Characters: To put it simply, there is no boring character in Eyeshield 21, not even Yukimitsu is boring. The authors of Eyeshield 21 did an outstanding job in making all of the characters, they are all equally entertaining and amazing, Sena’s rivalry with Shin isn’t anything cliche or whatever, instead it’s done really well and you wanna see Sena beat Shin in a match. All the other characters also get their own stories, from Jumonji and Taki to Agon and Panther, they are all done so well, that it feels like there are no supporting characters, they all feel like main characters, and that also makes it very exciting, not even the matches focus on the main characters, all the supporting characters have their own rivals they have to beat, and it makes it even more exciting than it already is, sure, some characters are flawed in a way, they can’t all be perfect, can they?
Sound/Animation: Well, the music was great, all 5 OPs are great, and it’s Eyeshield 21 that has the BEST ending theme ever (Blaze Away). Some of the BGM was great too, like Be Survivor, and the animation, well, it’s really good, the OPs are done great, and the scenes with special moves like Sena’s Devil Bat Ghost or Shin’s Trident Tackle, they are all done very well, and all I have to say, is that it looks great.
Teams: Well, obviously there’s the Deimon Devil Bats, but there’s also the rival teams like the Oujou White Knights, the Kyoshin Poseidon, the Bando Spiders and the Hakushu Dinosaurs, each one of these teams have their own characters and special plays, and I liked all of them, all of the teams are equally amazing, and of course the matches are really entertaining, but I did feel kinda let down that the Teikoku Alexanders aren’t in the anime, specially since the match between them and Deimon is definetly the best in the series.
Replay Value: This anime is really worth watching again, I wouldn’t mind it, really, it’s a shame that most people pass on it because it’s a Sports Anime, like I did, but I’m sure people would like it if they watch it, now, I’ve really come to love this series, but I have to say that it’s better to read the manga because the anime just stops after the final rematch with Oujou, and it didn’t show the matches agains Hakushu, Teikoku and the World Cup, which I would’ve loved to see, but anyway, it’s a great anime and it’s really underrated, so go watch it, or Hiruma will take you to hell, YA-HA!
Japanese: ディー グレイマン
MAL Score: 8.04
Losing a loved one is so painful that one may sometimes wish to be able to resurrect them—a weakness that the enigmatic Millennium Earl exploits. To make his mechanical weapons known as “Akuma,” he uses the souls of the dead that are called back. Once a soul is placed in an Akuma, it is trapped forever, and the only way to save them is to exorcise them from their vessel using the Anti-Akuma weapon, “Innocence.”
After spending three years as the disciple of General Cross, Allen Walker is sent to the Black Order—an organization comprised of those willing to fight Akuma and the Millennium Earl—to become an official Exorcist. With an arm as his Innocence and a cursed eye that can see the suffering souls within an Akuma, it’s up to Allen and his fellow Exorcists to stop the Millennium Earl’s ultimate plot: one that can lead to the destruction of the world.
I’ll start with the plot, which is far darker than your average shounen. From the very first episode, we are shown a merciless enemy that will exploit any weakness, who’s main weapon, the Akuma (demons) uses the souls of the dead. These are not zombies, just mindless corpses. These are weapons which pull a soul back from heaven and torture it as their power source. A lot of shounens gloss over the concept of death, bad guys are captured alive or shown the error of their ways, people fall unconscious but can be healed, etc. In D. Gray-man, death is very real, and resting in peace is only for the fortunate ones who’s loved ones are strong enough not to be tempted to call them back.
Against the Akuma and their creator, the Millennium Earl, are the Exorcists of the Dark Order. Exorcists are those chosen by God to use ‘innocence’, a mysterious substance which can be used to form weapons capable of destroying the Akuma. The series follows Allen Walker, a new recruit with the ability to see the souls trapped within the Akuma. The plot itself begins slowly, with short arcs in which Allen and his comrades are dispatched to investigate mysterious phenomena which are thought to be caused by innocence fragments. After a few of these arcs, the Noah Clan, allies of the Millennium Earl, begin to be introduced and the focus turns to the war between him and the Dark Order.
The plot is, for the most part, very well paced. Early arcs are kept short, about 4 episodes or so long, with a single ‘filler’ episode in between. Don’t be put off when I say filler. While the plot could easily go without these episodes, I found them all to be entertaining (if somewhat silly at times) and they served well as comic relief within an otherwise serious plot. And if you don’t enjoy them, they do become fewer and further between as the war intensifies and plot arcs become longer. With one exception, none of these longer plot arcs drag on to the point that the viewer just wants them to get on with it. In the one arc in which this does occur, it is saved in part by having another plot running at the same time. Battles often do last across multiple episodes, but in most of these, the battle changes and develops over those episodes, unlike drawn out battles in other shounen which just get repetitive, where the middle episodes can often just be skipped entirely.
The show also boasts one of the best sets of characters of any anime I have seen. Each hero is flawed, and the Earl and Noah are far more fleshed out (in more ways than one in the Earl’s case) than most villains. It says a lot about the quality of a series’ characters when the villains mourning a dead friend can evoke sympathy. They also managed to inspire doubt as to whether the exorcists are in fact the good guys, thanks to the show’s religious imagery.
As for the heroes, each has their own motive, each of which is more complex than the standard shounen motives of just saving the world or becoming the strongest and the like. Allen wants to save the souls of the Akuma, to the point where he can even show disregard for his own or others’ lives at times. Lenalee, the series’ main female character, fights for the sake of her friends and brother, and her past reveals that she may not support the Dark Order’s cause even as she fights for them.
My personal favourite characters were Lavi and Bookman. These two are a master (Bookman) and apprentice (Lavi) of a clan of historians who became exorcists to be close to history as it occurred so that it could be recorded, and while they do fight, they try to minimise how much they interfere. Lavi’s conflict between his duty as a Bookman and as an Exorcist, the loyalty he developed for his friends despite Bookman’s orders to become close to no one, and his doubts as to whether the cheerful, friendly, fun guy is the real him or a mask that he should remove was probably my favourite aspect of the series.
So, here I am singing the series’ praises, yet it got a 9, not a 10. Why? Well, in complete contrast to what I said at the beginning, because it ended. A lot wasn’t able to be explained before the series was cancelled. The last ten episodes or so suffered from trying to rush one of the story arcs after having taken their time over previous ones. The battle in the last three episodes was amazing, but it also wasn’t the final battle that I wanted to see. There is a lot of potential for a sequel, including a development at the end that virtually screamed “to be continued”. I do sincerely hope that there will be a sequel. But if there isn’t, the show ended in the best possible place it could. A clear cut ending is often unrealistic, and endings in which the heroes won but the villain is there in the shadows, not as dead as they thought, muttering “This isn’t over” gets old quickly. Maybe the abiguity was for the best.
All in all, the show is well worth watching, even if you don’t usually commit to long running shounen. Just don’t go in expecting to not have any questions at the end.
The Story has a very original plot. When I started this anime I immediately liked the concept of chosen humans + “innocence” = akuma (demon) butt-kicking “Exorcists”! I knew nothing about it but i decided to watch it based on its good animation and I was not disappointed at all. The characters and their uniforms/weapons all look outstanding!
I found that all of the op. and end. songs are excellent songs that you wouldnt mind listening to each episode. Normally I would skip songs but I listened to all of D.Gray-man’s because they really do suit the anime and sound good! Background music could be a bit better tho…
Character is one of the best aspects of the anime. Each and every character is Amazing! Each main character is lovable, unique, strong, nice-looking and they all have mysterious pasts and secrets. I have found fan clubs for even the evil characters. You wont find out about the evil characters until late in the anime but they are surprisingly loved as well. There might be a few characters you dont like but those would likely be side characters..all the main characters are great! The development of the ALL the characters through out the series always amazed me…
Try not to give up on this anime too early…after watching about 30 episodes I started to get a little bored… But since I loved the characters and was curious about the plot I decided to go read the manga. I was instantly hooked and it became a favorite! The point is that at the start of the anime there are a lot of filler-type episodes (especially before episode 38). Dont get me wrong, these are not the typical useless filler episodes. All most all these episodes are either action-packed or show some character development.
Even in the most serious of times there are humorous moments and great weapons/abilities/battles..
D.Gray-man finished with 103 episodes and not many fillers..In my opinion do not be disappointed with the end of the anime. There are many amazing battles that lead up to the climatic end but a lot of things are left unexplained. I don’t think its confirmed but I am expecting a second season in the future after a lot more manga chapters are released (when the anime ended, it was very close to manga and i guess they decided not to go into fillers…)
Overall this anime is excellent [9-10] and covers almost every genre;
A worthy watch! It can be compared with the popular shounen anime Naruto and Bleach but I found more interest in D.Gray-man which is a bit more serious and in depth. (And a lot less out-stretched if you know what I mean…)
The story was bad to say the least. It was badly paced as most of the time your stuck to seeing something between shonen- anime glued together with a lot of dramatism. And that means that action fight’s are predictable and almost seem pointless and the Allen or Lenalle or other guys from the Order cry after almost every fight about something. The story had so much plot-holes that there were more holes then the plot. Also on the end all you get is about the same were this anime started. The last episode everyone is still fighting akuma’s and more then 100 episodes passed away already.
It was very good. Nowhere in this anime you can see bad animation and it was 103 episodes long. That’s a lot of episodes! Off course it wasn’t anything ground braking and akuma’s could of been made more creepier.
It was awesome. All the time I liked the sound in the anime soundtracks. Specially when Allen played piano. Only reason I didn’t give it 10 was, because few openings could of been a bit more better. Almost all of the openings were top notch, but none of them were something that I would like to listen.
The good guys were decent characters.The main protagonist Allen was an interesting character, but he lacked the brains or the attitude to be a real protagonist. Allen is basically a good guy and nothing more. The protagonist might as well be Lavi or The Krory( The vampire dude). Well at least the good guys had some good character development, but because of the bad story the character development was really hard to see. The villains were just pointless. There goal was pointless and even 3 year old kids have better goals to accomplish. For example, Earl’s goal was to destroy the world. And what will happen to him? Who the hell would want to destroy something his life depends on? Makes no sense.
I kinda enjoyed this anime with a big minus. I liked to watch some of the fights in D. Gray-man, like Krory against Lavi and Allen. Though most of the time the fights were one-sided like Allen killing lvl 1 akuma’s. The comedy in here was like: Should I be laughing or not? So I didn’t crack any laugh at all. Well at least I liked to listen to the music. But once I remember how long this anime was I feel like I wasted too much of my time for almost nothing. I will never rewatch this anime.
The story is rubbish. For 103 episodes it went nowhere and the last episode just ended with a cliffhanger. Character’s are decent. The art and music is quality stuff, but nothing ground-braking.
If you really have nothing to do then go watch D. Gray-man. At the start you will like it , then you will get bored of it somewhere in the middle, then close to the end you will start to like it again and you will want to know what will happen next and at the end you will just get a wtf moment that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a lot of wasted time.
3: Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season
English: Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Second Season
Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム00 セカンドシーズン
MAL Score: 8.10
In the year 2311 AD, a world that once saw itself full of inter-continental conflict now stands unified, led by the Earth Sphere Federation (ESF). The ESF established a preventative military task force known as the A-Laws, tasking them with shutting down violent terrorist organizations. As they gain more and more legal authority, the A-Laws begin to twist the law to fit their own agenda, ruling the citizens of Earth with a heavy hand.
In response to the fascistic behavior of the A-Laws, the anti-terrorist group Celestial Being reappears. Led by state-of-the-art mobile suits known as Gundam, the pilots of Celestial Being wage a new war with the A-Laws, aiming to stop their tyrannical abuse of power.
Setsuna F. Seiei, pilot of the Gundam Exia, helps to lead the charge along with his fellow Gundam Meisters Lockon Stratos, Allelujah Haptism, and Tieria Erde. But in the process, Setsuna stumbles upon a conspiratorial plot spearheaded by a new faction, the Innovators, and must contend with his own old wounds and ghosts of the past in order to save a world that despises him.
Now, Season 2 started out with a lot of potential. The main characters were reintroduced very well, preserving the characteristics they were known for and refining them, along with offering a slightly different side of their personality. Some characters did change for the worse, but this is necessary to create the strife needed for the story to build. And it did build. A new faction came into play here, and some of the old characters on the antagonistic side in Season 1 are not happy with the new world order. New characters are introduced very well and immediately create a third side to the previous two-sided strife in Season 1. There are many characters that are struggling to find themselves in the new world order, so the series has a bit of a depressive feeling to it. Not even Lockon’s lighthearted comments helped much here.
However, as well as the introductions to the new characters were, the development of many of these characters had something to be desired. It falls into the same trap that swallowed Code Geass R2, which is to let new characters languish in development. However, while R2 introduces too many characters and has to shift back and forth awkwardly between the factions, Gundam 00 introduces fewer new characters and makes the shifts amongst them much more fluidly, going for “Let’s integrate all the factions into the episode” rather than Geass R2’s “focus here for one episode, focus there for another.” 00 also focuses on the protagonists much better. The antagonists (that fat blonde guy), along with Bushido, along with the Innovators, could have used more development, but at least I got a better idea of their true personalities better than the Knights from Geass R2. If there was one glaring complaint about 00 S2’s characterization, it would come in the form of antagonistic development in the form of the true mastermind, Ribbons Almark. An antagonist is supposed to create a feeling of hatred in your heart, or you fall for the antagonist’s plot and cheer on the protagonists’ failure. But the main feeling I get from Ribbons is ambivalence. “Your comrade just got killed.” *no emotion* “You just got betrayed.” *no emotion* “Your test subject just wrecked your newest Mobile Suit.” *no emotion* “Your plan to take over the world has caught a HUGE snare.” *Whatever* All he does is sit on a MAGENTA couch and twiddle on his thumbs, no matter if his plans succeed or fail. For someone who’s the mastermind, he doesn’t like to get involved much, like he’s a puppetmaster with really long strings on his puppets. Problem is, he feels disconnected from the plot and action, and well, let’s just say that 00 S2’s biggest fault after this is plot management.
Now, the first… 2/3 of the series was developed very well. We get to see the main characters discover a different side to themselves and we are able to supplement the change with what we know about the characters in season 1. But after that, the series starts to stumble. The audience is waiting for a return of aspects that distinguished the characters from season 1. In creating a different dimension for the characters, they gave up the platform built up for the characters in season 1. Like Hallelujah, whose reintroduction was too sudden. Welcome, but not well done. Thus, after about the 2/3 mark, the series starts to wander and lose its footing. The focus is on little plot elements that need time to develop, but the producers only had so many episodes of plot to work with. Thus, the big plot elements were placed on the back burner and left to overcook. The series has to rush to resolve these big issues, but didn’t get to do so until the last 3 episodes or so, so it was a miracle that episodes 23 and 24 didn’t feel too rushed. What would have been nice is if they started focusing on these big plot elements around… episode 20 or so? But it’s no big surprise that episode 25 felt like you were landing an airplane but hadn’t slowed down enough. You do stop, but all your passengers are thrown 2 rows forward in your attempt. The series was haphazardly wrapped up as a result.
But don’t get me wrong: Gundam 00 S2 is still worth your time to watch if you enjoyed S1. There’s still a lot to like, such as the more complex story, matured characters, and many characters just finding their true selves during their personal struggles. I’m not sure if I just expected too much, though. It’s still a likable series, but it just tossed away its potential for becoming a masterpiece about 2/3 of the way in.
(This review assumes familiarity with the first season of Gundam 00 and references several season one spoilers. Season two spoilers are hinted at but not explicitly stated.)
STORY – Gundam 00 had a precarious premise from the very beginning. The “war to end all wars” story is one that seems to be visited often, but because it’s such an idealistic goal, series pursuing it always stand on a shaky foundation of logic and realism. As a result, it’s a very difficult premise to execute well. One of biggest logical gaps for me is still the idea that Celestial Being’s two hundred-year old technology can be superior to that of current-day armies, especially since Celestial Being itself seems to have a very poor understanding of the machines they’re making use of. Instead, they are reliant on a supercomputer and the notes and secret power-ups passed down to them by a dead man. All of the questions I had from the first season surrounding the organization’s conception and survival over the last two centuries remain unanswered for the most part, but the most frustrating thing was not knowing the ultimate purpose of CB until the series’ finale.
It blows my mind that most of the characters didn’t even seem to know exactly what the “real” purpose of their organization was. It’s one thing to keep the audience in the dark, but seriously, even the characters didn’t know? Yes, everyone fights for their own reasons, but if you’re part of an organization, you should maybe know what they’re up to. Just sayin’. The antagonistic Innovators are introduced this season as the new puppeteers of the world, along with their half-puppets, the A-Laws. Presumably, they know what’s going on, but since the point of view of the story follows the members of Celestial Being more than the Innovators, the story becomes very reactionary. CB is trying to do this to stop the Innovators from doing this. CB does this because the Innovators are going to do this. But why should the audience care if they ultimately have no idea what anyone’s fighting for? The goals from the first season seem to have gone to the wayside somewhere along the way.
The flimsy storyline also contributed to an entire season of awful pacing marred by way too many romantic subplots. Seriously, could there possibly have been more of them? It didn’t take long for 00 to feel like one gigantic soap opera that just happens to take place in space with some kind of war going on in the background. In fact, I’d venture to say that the romantic storylines and drama were the main focus and the war, morals, and fate of the universe thing was the secondary subplot. Who will get Setsuna in the end? Marina or Gundam? Can Lyle save Anew from her overused mind-control plot device? Will Tieria ever be able to win Veda back from Ribbons? Will Allelujah ever actually do anything important in this series or say a word other than “Marie”? Will Saji ever stop being spineless, and will Louise eventually accept him again or just go to Andrei instead? Can Billy forgive Sumeragi for using him? Can Shirin and Klaus both survive to the end of the series for their happily ever after? Will Mr. Bushido ever give up on Setsuna? Will Patrick ever win Kati’s heart??
It. Is. Ridiculous. To be honest, most of the relationship drama (romantic or otherwise) in 00 had the potential to be interesting, but the fact that there was so much of it limited the relevance of each individual subplot and put a huge strain on the viewer’s ability to care, especially with an unclear central plotline to tie everything together. The conclusion of the second season and the series as a whole is just as bad as, if not worse than, the first season’s ending. It felt similarly rushed, extremely anticlimatic and unrealistic, and didn’t resolve nearly as much as I would have wanted. Many of the characters feel stranded at the end of the series, though you do get a resolution for most of the relationship nonsense, further supporting the idea that the relationships were the core of the series and that everything else was secondary. As far as the politics go, it was definitely more of a forced ending than a conclusion. A conclusion implies that things are actually concluded.
CHARACTER – With a few exceptions, most of the first season’s gigantic ensemble cast returned for the second season’s “four years later.” A new season really wasn’t necessary just for a timeskip, but it was still really nice being able to see Setsuna age. He’s the most interesting character in the entire series just because he matures so much as events unfold, and even as he doubts himself, his motivation, and purpose in the world, he never falls into the trap of the Jesus-kun Syndrome — when a character becomes a preachy moralfag and refuses to kill people, often accomplishing this by disabling mobile suits in battle instead of destroying them. That isn’t to say that having morals and a conscience makes for bad characters, but I find it refreshing when the morals and conscience can coincide with the resolve to fight and the knowledge that killing is sometimes necessary. Rather than instilling the pacifist streak in Setsuna, Sunrise made a good decision in having Marina around to balance things out. As irritating and useless as she was most of the time, I think she was necessary to round out the points of views in the series; that is to say, she was a good idea, just poorly executed.
Lyle, the new Lockon, felt like a huge cop-out from the beginning. Sunrise actually succeeded in killing a character! …But here’s his identical twin to replace him. Great. It didn’t help that they never utilized the “twin” or “brothers” aspect to the best of its potential, and Lyle’s logic failed on so many levels. He did not want to be compared to his brother, but essentially agreed to take over his brother’s previous identity when he joined Celestial Being by taking on his old codename, his Gundam, and his Haro. Lyle’s romantic subplot with Anew was one of the ones that had the most potential, and there was a lot of good acting as far as Lyle’s inner conflict and reactions went, but in the end, I don’t think his character evolved as much as it could have, and static characters remain uninteresting.
Allelujah was amazingly disappointing throughout the second season and pretty much drops off the map after episode seven. You wonder whether his role as a Gundam Meister actually makes him a “main character” or not since he dwindles to the point where he doesn’t even have any speaking roles for several episodes at a time. Since Hallelujah supposedly “died” for one reason or another, there wasn’t anything in the way of personal conflict. Instead, he spends the whole time chasing after Marie/Soma Peries. Unfortunately, Allelujah/Marie interactions are idealistic and boring while Allelujah/Soma interactions are repetitive and boring. Marie’s struggle with Soma and Soma’s struggle with belonging and revenge are interesting for many of the reasons the Allelujah/Hallelujah struggle was last season, but the character(s) could have stood well enough on their own without the obligatory romance/attention of Allelujah. Really, Allelujah probably brought them down by turning it into a cheesy would-be romance rather than the revenge/moral conflict it should have been.
Rounding out the Meisters, Tieria changed a lot between the first and second season. It would have been nice to be able to actually see that progress rather than just accepting that development had happened, but it’s still refreshing to see characters that actually grow and change, and Tieria does continue to mature. Throughout the second season Tieria struggles with the fact that he’s an Innovator and his role in both Celestial Being’s and the other Innovators’ goals. On the most basic level, it’s probably the most interesting of the Meisters’ conflicts, usurping even Setsuna, but poor execution, lack of attention, and being constantly thrown back by a dozen other subplots kept it from really succeeding, especially at the end.
As previously mentioned, there are probably two dozen other characters all with subplots of varying degrees of depth and relevance. Saji and Louise’s is especially prominent, but the themes of their relationship cover very little that one of the others doesn’t already, especially now that they’re both directly involved in the fighting and are no longer bystanders. Neither of them are particularly strong or interesting characters, and I still think that 00 would have been better off without them. It would have probably saved us about ten episodes of drama. There are also still an assload of characters aside from those listed above that make appearances at random, but aren’t actually relevant to anything anymore. Ali Al-Saachez will pop up again every seven or eight episodes. As will Nena Trinity, who really should have just died in the first season with her brothers. And as will Liu Mei Wang and Hong Long, who really do anything at all the entire season. All of the Innovators aside from Ribbons are pretty much interchangeable, and even Regene didn’t seem to mean much in the end.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – The animation in the second season remains slick, and the battles are all relatively fun to watch. I really missed the Gundam Exia’s design, though the 0, 00, 0-Riser, and 00-Riser are all pretty interesting as well. I didn’t think the Arios was much of an improvement over the Kyrios, though honestly, you don’t see Allelujah in action enough this season for his suit to really leave an impression on you. The GN Archer, which actually had a neat design, could have also been featured a lot more. Seravee and Seraphim also had a nice concept, but like the others, was ever over-shadowed by the 00 and 00-Riser. And the Cherudim? As with the Dynames, the prominence of the gigantic rifle made the rest of the suit less important, but even visually, the Cherudim was less to look at than the Dynames.
The updated character and costume designs did a lot of good, I think, and I’m fond of Setsuna’s older appearance. The only new characters that are introduced in the second season are the score of Innovators. They come in pairs with hilariously punny names like “Revive Revival,” “Anew Returner,” and “Bring Stabity.” They also come in a variety of colorful flavors! Way to make it easy to spot the plot devices hiding out in the army and in Celestial Being, guys. There had to have been a better way to illustrate the concept of a race superior to humans without making it ridiculously obvious, right? The ease at which it is to spot these characters also makes the montage at the end of the series open to a lot of debate, but I really just think Sunrise is trolling us at that point.
MUSIC – The music is probably what I ended up enjoying the most in this entire series. I didn’t much care for the second season’s first opening and ending themes, but chalk that up to my general indifference to UVERworld and Chiaki Ishikawa. Neither are terrible songs or particularly annoying — just not my thing, I suppose. The second opening and ending, on the other hand, are probably why I even bothered to sit through some of the later episodes since neither of the singles had released at the time. “Namida no Mukou” by stereophony actually took a while to warm up to me because I found the timing awkward in many parts, but I loved the vocalist’s voice and the energy in the song is just fantastic.
Meanwhile, I loved “trust you” by Yuna Ito pretty much immediately. I’d only listened to a few of Ito’s songs prior to that, but “trust you” just blew me away. The melody is beautiful and the steady tempo really carries it through. Furthermore, the accompanying animation was gorgeous and well-timed to fit with the music, and it left a wonderful contemplative feeling at the end of each episode — more than most of the episodes deserved. It was also a great follow-up the animation for the second ending of the first season, “Friends” by Stephanie. There are a few episodes that end with a brief a capella version of “trust you” that I found really unnecessary and awkward, but the song itself is great.Oddly enough though, I like the TV Cut much better than the full single.
Tommy heavenly6’s “Unlimited Sky” is used as an insert song for some of the later episodes, which was also pretty awesome. I adore Tomoko Kawase’s voice in general, but I always find her anime songs much more energetic and upbeat than her other work, and “Unlimited Sky” is no exception. It always made the battle scenes that much more exciting — a very needed extra when you’re having a hard time caring about the characters involved or the storyline at the time.
Lastly, the instrumental soundtrack for 00 seemed markedly improved in the second season. The leitmotifs are a bit more prominent and the music in general seemed to compliment the mood and feeling of each scene a lot better. It was really refreshing to see/hear something actually improve between the seasons.
VOICE ACTING – Average for the most part, though I suppose Shinichiro Miki gets special mention for some excellent acting involving a very emotional Lyle, and Noboru Sougetsu (Ribbons), for managing to not remind everyone of Amuro Ray, at least most of the time.
The dub is still pretty awful. The best of the dub cast is Brad Swaile as Setsuna and maybe Alex Zahara as Lyle; both are pretty average. The rest of the cast either sound painfully uninspired or just… the same. Half of the female characters in this series sound the same in the dub. It’s must be pretty bad when I’m offended at how poorly done the voices are for even characters I don’t care about (which, in 00, is most of them).
OVERALL – When I reviewed the first season of Gundam 00, my main complaints included the fact that they had more details than structure, that they didn’t bother to explain a lot of what I would consider to be important backstory, and that there were far, far too many characters, all of whom were trying too hard to be the focus. The lackluster ending to the first season didn’t lead me to have a lot of expectations for the second season, but I’m still rather disappointed that they managed to let all of their problems get worse rather than better. In the end, I only saw 00 through to the end for the sake of having seen it to the end, which is never a really good reason at all. Then again, maybe I only saw it through so I could eventually bitch about it here… which really isn’t that great of a reason either.
But Gundam 00 S2 is crappy as hell (aside from the good looks.. the production value was top notch).
I have to admit that I liked Gundam 00 S1 (except for the ending).
Gundam 00 S1 focused a lot on the plot/action and because of that, the character development got neglected.
But that didn’t matter, because even with the 1-dimensional characters, it was still an interesting and exciting mecha anime.
However in Gundam 00 S2, ‘they’ tried to ‘spice up’ the character development a bit.
They totally froze the storytelling and decided to focus (a lot more) on the characters.
But they failed miserably!!! The characters didn’t come ‘alive’ one bit!!!!
The result = crap.
Hell.. what annoyed me the most were the things that just didn’t make sense.
For example the ‘couple’: Louise and Saji.
Saji discovers something (very) important about Louise’s tragedy (spoiler?) and ‘every’ viewer knows Louise should know about this.
But for some reason whenever Saji meets Louise, he NEVER discloses this important information to Louise.
What we get instead is a lot of shit dialogue like: “Saji..” “Louise!” “Saji!!” “Louise!!”
The same with Setsuna.. awww .. I’m not even going to start with his “Orewah Gundammmuhhh” dialogues/monologues…
In short.. Gundam 00 S2.. was bad.. very bad.. compared to season 1..
The story became predictable, the (romantic) character development was crap, some unimportant characters died,
bad guys didn’t actually die in season 1, you get spammed with loads of new characters,
Ribbons ‘bitch-slaps’ female characters and they ‘endure’ it *cough*.. and so on…
But anyways .. loads of you brainwashed *Gundam-lovers* will probably love this show anyways..
So… enjoy the sequel you guys.. 😐
2: 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.
1: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2
English: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2
Japanese: コードギアス 反逆のルルーシュ 続編
MAL Score: 8.91
One year has passed since the Black Rebellion, a failed uprising against the Holy Britannian Empire led by the masked vigilante Zero, who is now missing. At a loss without their revolutionary leader, Area 11’s resistance group—the Black Knights—find themselves too powerless to combat the brutality inflicted upon the Elevens by Britannia, which has increased significantly in order to crush any hope of a future revolt.
Lelouch Lamperouge, having lost all memory of his double life, is living peacefully alongside his friends as a high school student at Ashford Academy. His former partner C.C., unable to accept this turn of events, takes it upon herself to remind him of his past purpose, hoping that the mastermind Zero will rise once again to finish what he started, in this thrilling conclusion to the series.
Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2 is both more of the same and yet a departure for the series in several ways. On one hand, it’s often even more ridiculous and over the top than its predecessor, and on the other surprisingly dramatic, with an emotional resonance not found in the first season. This results in the show feeling more like a reboot/reimagining of the series rather than a simple continuation of the storyline. Now to be sure, many of the classic Geass moments of the first season are present, however, this time around things feel very different in ways that are superior to the original even if R2 itself can’t quite top the overall impact of its predecessor. Some will feel that R2 wasn’t as good as the first season but it does live up to the Code Geass franchise.
Story: Code Geass R2 continues the story of Lelouch Lamperouge and the Black Knights as they continue their fight against the Holy Britannian Empire. We are introduced to more characters including new allies, enemies, and Nightmare Frames. As the series progresses new factions are introduced and new alliances formed, with plot twists abound. The plot twists in R2 are even more abundant, and at times even more implausible and unexpected than the first season, with every episode essentially ending in a cliffhanger. However, the characters this time around are far more likable, even if they are so numerous that many of them, unfortunately, end up being underdeveloped. And while the show starts off slow, the plot eventually moves forward very fast and while stumbles somewhat near the climax, manages to pull off a remarkably well-crafted resolution at the end. Fans who were disappointed by the way the first season ended will undoubtedly be satisfied with the bizarre ending of R2.
Characters: Here’s a series that has real emotional depth and dramatic resonance. Now to be clear, by no means is this a primary focus of R2, however, the actions and motivations of the characters and the events themselves seem to have greater meaning and purpose. The range of emotions felt by the characters is better conveyed: we feel their desperation and determination, their sadness and joy, their anger and regret. Characters that seemed so empty or clichéd in the first season are given greater depth and expression, with exceptions of course. Lelouch, in particular, is a far more interesting character this time around, and his inner conflict and desire for self-resolution. He’ll do things that you wouldn’t expect him to do. Also, his changing relationships with his comrades and enemies alike act as a drive that propels the show from a mere continuation into a rejuvenation of the series. Lelouch fans will definitely find him more interesting and amazing as well as the other characters. Especially Kallen.
Art & Animation: SUNRISE and CLAMPE have definitely outdone itself. The visuals of R2 are not just better than the original, but are also some/one of the best I’ve seen (though somewhat expected considering them using an extraordinary amount of budget.) R2 is definitely more flashier and colorful than ever before, the high quality of the visuals consistently impresses from one episode to the next. The characters and backgrounds are incredibly detailed and the large-scale action sequences are spectacular to watch. The only gripe I have is that the animation itself often lacks fluidity, especially during some of the more hectic action sequences. This didn’t really take much away from the actual quality of the visuals but it is rather noticeable nevertheless. Actually, with the action and everything going on, you won’t even notice the lack of fluidity. And while SUNRISE doesn’t quite stand at the absolute top-tier level in terms of overall animation quality, R2 represents their best work since their old age of shows like Cowboy Bebop. In terms of the animation, Code Geass R2 sure have one of the best this year.
Sound: The audio is just as impressive as the visuals, with great sound effects and the solid voice acting (Jun Fukuyama, Ami Koshimizu, Yukana, etc) you’ve come to expect from the first season. The music, on the other hand, is more of a mixed bag. The soundtrack itself is solid, a score that is well suited for the mixture of tones that a series like Geass goes through. The theme songs, conversely, are merely mediocre and all but one remains memorable. The pop theme surely is one of my favorite having listen to the songs many times.
Enjoyment: While watching, you’ll be hooked onto the episodes and you might even finish the whole series in less than two days. This show will leave you wanting more and more till you have completed it. You might even want to re-watch the series.
Overall: Code Geass R2 is a series that almost every Code Geass fan will be happy to watch – for newer fans watching the first season is recommended. While its approach is often divergent from the first, it shares enough absurdities and overindulgence that those who didn’t like the first series will most likely detest this one. Yet for all its flashiness, its superficiality and its dangerously complex back-story, this is still a far more entertaining series than most of the other shows out there. Again, Code Geass R2 proves that entertainment doesn’t always have to be meaningful, just enjoyable. If you didn’t enjoy the first season, then you most likely will not enjoy R2.
Code Geass is the dumbest show to ever take itself seriously. It is essentially a hackneyed amalgamation of clichés and overused plot devices that clumsily attempts to disguise itself as something greater. Hell, it stole Death Note’s whole shtick, and ruined it completely, before the anime version even finished airing. It blatantly stole from Evangelion, the most popular mecha anime and deconstruction there is, to make one of the weakest and most cliché mecha series ever. Both of the series Code Geass stole from were dark and had at least some depth; Code Geass, on the other hand, juxtaposes pseudo-dark scenes with light school-life harem romcom. Plot develops with a marked carelessness; people die and are inexplicably brought back to life, even though they were either shown dying or there was clearly no way they could have possibly lived. Plot armor at its finest. Oh, did you want an epic and dense war story? Too bad, instead you’re going to get aimless filler, centered on a bunch of people who probably shouldn’t even be in high school, including an episode dedicated to catching a cat. This anime is most notable for having one of the highest concentrations of plot holes and loose ends that I have ever seen.
First of all, the supernatural aspect of the story is just ridiculous and, by extension, the story is as well. This “Geass” ability is completely inconsistent. Sometimes it can be deterred with mere willpower, or even the power of kisses (no joke,) but most of the time it appears to be pretty much undefeatable. There is a Geass canceller that is developed, but it is inexplicably given to only one dude who just pops up whenever he feels like it, with a different personality every time. A weakness, where the ability becomes uncontrollable, introduces itself at one point, but this plot point is quickly dealt with and forgotten. Every Geass user has one single ability granted by their Geass, except for one guy that inexplicably has several, but I won’t even get into that. The biggest issue is that the conflict is all entirely pointless, as Lelouch’s ability allows him to give anybody a command that they must obey. Hell, it can apparently even work on God. This command only works once, but the show makes it entirely clear that he could simply give a command along the lines of “you will be my slave and do whatever I say, until I do x.” So why doesn’t he do that from the very beginning? Because the story must be milked for two seasons, I guess. The whole anime could have ended in episode 1 had Lelouch, the supposed genius, made better use of his ability. Despite this, everything that was built up in the first season is destroyed in the most anticlimactic ending I have ever seen, the show returns to square one, and we have to go through the same style of drawn-out story arc in season two.
Characterization is probably the biggest flaw in Code Geass. The characters are irritating, flat, inconsistent, contrived, and they alone destroy any possibility of this being even a decent anime. The main character, Lelouch, is good at chess and inexplicably predicts a lot of minor events a bit before they happen. This is how we know he’s a genius. He makes a lot of dumb decisions, he wastes troops and resources, he kills potential allies, he spares enemies, he gets caught in needless battles, he makes emotional decisions in battle, he accidentally orders massacres, he never makes a proper back-up plan to deal with things he knows are like to happen, and we never get any indication that he knows the first thing about proper tactics, but he somehow wins battles and he’s somehow a genius. Go figure. Luckily, all “tactics” were just replaced with boring beam spamming in the end, but I don’t know if that’s really much better. Any development in Lelouch’s character is completely contrived and comes out of nowhere. Additionally, he has the inexplicable ability to teleport; at least, that would be the only explanation for how he travels such huge distances so quickly. Suzaku, the kind-of antagonist kind-of not, is probably the dumbest anime character ever created. He is Lelouch’s friend, and if he was a Jew during the holocaust he would do his very best to argue that Hitler is actually an okay guy after all. He believes that the corrupt government should be changed from the inside. So does he get into politics to accomplish this? No, I don’t think he’s really allowed to; instead, he (inexplicably) becomes a mecha pilot for the military that is slaughtering and oppressing his people. He fails to see how this is not helping them. He also moves like a ninja, and dodges bullets, despite being quite clearly anorexic. I’m not even going to talk about their goddawful character designs, just look at some screen shots for that one. All I’ll say on that topic is this: if you’re going to act like a character is hot, then don’t make them an extraordinarily and inhumanly ugly emo anorexic with a ridiculously pointy chin. As for the other characters, there’s some annoying racist yandere lesbian who sexually assaults a table at one point. Seriously. There’s also some immortal chick with green hair who likes pizza; not much else to say about her. There’s an irritating crippled chick, with a completely inconsistent personality, who mostly serves to be useless and need constant protection. Really, for about 90% of the plot, her character just exists to get kidnapped. There’s also some redhead with big tits who loves the main character and has big tits, has a drug addict mother who we forget about for most of the series, and can inexplicably pilot mechas with her big tits and has big tits plus a pair of large breasts. She has a nice ass as well, and you should expect it or her bosom to be the main focus whenever she is in the shot. The “bad guys” are horrible characters as well; one of the main antagonists is eventually revealed to be “a good guy after all, yaaaaay” and the audience is expected to ignore all the horrific atrocities he oversaw. Do these characters sound compelling? Well, if not, then it is because they are not characters at all; they are merely inconsistent and cliché plot devices. Especially the women, who are all objectified to pretty much just get protected, cry, and provide fanservice.
Watch Code Geass if you have a weird Deus ex Machina fetish, but otherwise stay away. It does nothing new and it does nothing well. It doesn’t even fail in an interesting or original way, destroying any chance for campy “so-bad-it’s-good” appeal. As a result, I can’t think of a single positive thing to say about it, and I have no choice but to give it a 1.
1. This review covers both seasons. It would be pointless and unnecessary to write a separate review for each. Some manga series have over 40 volumes and we just write a review for them as a whole. I also fail to see why separate reviews should be written for each season when I’m just going to give each one the same score. The second season would be the inferior one due to even more plot holes, worse characters, more fanservice, and inconsistencies, but it also is more entertaining because there’s less aimless filler, just in case you were wondering. The two are both 1s though.
2. I didn’t mention Shirley or Rolo when I discussed the other characters. Why? Because I’m trying to forget those fuckers exist.
3. Among my most used words for this review were “inexplicably/inexplicable” and “inconsistency/inconsistent.” Yeah, there’s a very good reason for that.
Did it jump the shark? Was it flawlessly executed? Could it have been improved on? Was it outright horrible? That I will not answer; such a question is for you to answer yourself. To me, it was great. It was awesome. While reluctant at first, I always ended up thinking that each change the series brought about, every little plot twist, every character development; it made the series even greater than it was. Every step that it took made it better; that is the undeniable truth for me. However, its pacing made it take too many steps in too short an amount of time, and it nearly stumbled at times. Details could be overlooked, minor events skipped, that wasn’t too much of a problem. But it spent too little time on some of the major events, and in the end I’m not satisfied at all by that.
The previous season took care of the introduction of most of the main cast, which left an opportunity to extensively develop the cast during the second season. This was an opportunity that the creators took, used and drained to its full potential. With its 25 episodes, it does of course not have time to develop the entirety of Code Geass’ cast, which is extremely large for its length – close to 80 named primary, secondary and tertiary characters. However, they developed the main cast extensively, did a great job with the supporting characters, and the new ones that were introduced were really cool too. Some may classify Lelouch’s development as jumping the shark, but personally I felt that they did a great job, and that he is a great character; one whom I could believe in when it came to his development and actions, all the way to – and especially during – the very end.
Another aspect that Code Geass brings into perspective is love. There’s a lot of loving going on between various characters, and this allowed for both drama and comedy to be played out, and it was done so in a very good fashion too. Several characters’ love stories revolve around Lelouch, most notably those of Shirley and Kallen; both who obviously like Lelouch quite a lot. This is given both comedic and dramatic effects, and eventually plays an important part in the plot.
The animation superseded the previous season’s, improving on nearly all points. By now you are probably used to the CLAMP-styled character designs, and who knows, you might’ve even grown to like them, in spite of their lankiness. Backgrounds and sceneries are done with good detail, and were enjoyable to behold, and the same can be said about the Knightmare battles. Animated in a perfect juxtapose of fluidity and chaos, mixed with great special- and ligthing effects, the battles were enjoyable aesthetically in addition to everything else they provided the viewer with.
The soundtrack was perfect for the series, this season as well. Keeping some old ones, introducing new ones, the soundtrack was refreshed, yet it kept the same tone it had during the previous season. The background music, while nothing especially noteworthy, provided an amplifying effect to the atmosphere; be it battle, thought, love, comedy or something else. The opening and ending themes were good this season too, with the second opening theme standing out as the best one. The final episode ended nicely with an insert song that made the scenes that unfolded before my eyes make me cry – I’m a sensitive person. They did one mistake however, and that was by not ending it after that insert song; of all things they had to fire in the Ali Project ending, which completely ruined the poignancy that had been built up.
Code Geass R2 provides an highly entertaining sequel that has fallen into the hit-or-miss pit-trap, with hating on one side and loving on the other. How you will react to it, only the gods know that, so all that I can say is: watch it to the very end and see for yourself. The constant plot twists may sway your opinion up and down multifarious times. It did with me, but in the end, everything fell to place and all went well.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2
2. Mobile Suit Gundam 00
3. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season
5. Eyeshield 21
6. Macross F
7. Soul Eater
8. Michiko to Hatchin
10. Ga-Rei: Zero