They’re the best Anime that 2009 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Hayate no Gotoku!!, Dragon Ball Kai, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode:02, and more!
10: Hayate no Gotoku!!
English: Hayate the Combat Butler!!
MAL Score: 7.71
Hayate Ayasaki’s misfortune continues to hand him the short end of the stick. Now settled into his routine at the Sanzenins’ mansion and Hakuou Academy, the butler continues to work as hard as ever in caring for his young mistress Nagi while studying the school’s grueling curriculum—all on top of trying his best to survive the multitude of troubles that life relentlessly pushes onto him.
The unintentional chick magnet’s life is far from quiet, forced to deal not only with Nagi’s yet unnoticed infatuation with him, but also the evergrowing string of accidentally seduced girls—most notably, the exceptionally plain Ayumu Nishizawa, a friend of his before he became a butler, and the diligent Hinagiku Katsura, Hakuou’s student council president. While one struggles to gain his affection and the other desperately tries to deny her own, both the girls are going to make the boy’s life a little more complicated than it already is.
+ As a parody-comedy there isnt really much of a plot, however this season is a near perfect adaptation from the original manga.
+ Completely ignores the filler material from season 1 and starts off from where last season derailred. (Ep 25 season 1)
+ More focus on characters development and their relationships (if you really liked the character this is a plus)
– Without the fillers of season 1, the amount of anime/manga references presented in season 2 has dropped significantly. Those who watched the series mainly because of those might feel disappointed.
– Not AS funny as the first season (But still hilarious on its own right)
– Too short (my inner fanboy crying ;__;)
+ Highly superior color palette compared to the first series.
+ JC Staff knows how to make characters look cute, and this show is testament of that.
+ More details in the backgrounds, and did I already mention the amazing color palette?
– Although better looking, the animation quality can get iffy at times.
– In terms of consistensy, season 1 was better.
+ The OPs and EDs for this show are really good and catchy too 😀
+ The voice cast for this show is so fantastic, everyone plays their role amazingly well.
+ The Background Music for certain scenes are great to listen to and really make some scenes waaaay better.
– Not enough Wakamoto Norio narration XD (but thats just me)
Character: (By far the best aspect of this series)
+ Hinagiku, Hinagiku, Hinagiku and a lot of it too! 😀
+ Characters that didn’t shine much first time around get to show their characters more, and they are all great!
+ A lot of character development in this season really makes some characters grow as we learn more about them and their past.
– Hinagiku, Hinagiku, Hinagiku, maybe a bit too much that other characters lose screentime -__-
– Much like other forgotten characters finally get their time in the light, a few other characters take a back seat for a big chunk of the series. (ie. Klaus, Tama, and to an extend even Maria)
LOVE IT!! This season was IMO so much more enjoyable than last time due to the fantastic interaction between characters, and also for introducing (or mentioning) characters and events that will later on in the story be important. I have to admit im sad this was only 25 episodes seeing how the manga is almost 100 chapters ahead and there is soooo much more material left to cover. Also the last episode might have given us a small taste at things to come in the future (season 3 should be a given) JC STAFF YOU BETTER DELIVER!.
In the end regadless on what it is that made you enjoy the first series, Hayate no Gotoku!! is a fantastic sequel and also a fantastic adaptation. It still has high quality humour, fantastic and very likeable characters, and most importantly…its just fun to watch. If you have never read the manga it is required to have watched the first season (the first half at least) in order to start this season, however I am confident that there will be more seasons to come and if JC Staff can keep up this level of quality, I know that in the future there will be more laughter and entertainment to come from this series.
Down to brass tax: the story has, outright, abandoned the “Hayate owes 150 million yen” arch. True, it keeps him as the butler to Nagi, but, compared to the first season, it’s not the driving factor – the relationships are now.
If you saw the prequel to the second season, the OVA, you would have been slightly shocked with, not only with the art style, but with the more relationship-oriented season that is to come. For example, Hayate makes only one reference the entire OVA to the fact that he owes 150 million yen, this translates rather proportionally to the amount of the “debt story arch” you’ll be receiving in the second season.
If you came to see the conclusion of Hayate’s triumphant victory over his insurmountable debt, stay at the door. If you came to have fun with the relationships, triangles, and awkwardness, I saved you a seat. The majority of the episodes are geared towards one of Hayate’s female suitors (if we’re calling this a harem). Now, I say most are, some episodes are rather needless and, frankly, there are a few I could care less about, but the longest “new” story arch that you will see will last for approximately 2 episodes in length. 7/10.
The art here is solid; much more luminous and light. I for one, enjoyed the switch to the new art style, but if you saw the OVA’s and were hoping that it had changed, sorry, it stays for the remainder of the 25 episodes. 9/10. (Better than the first season.)
Ohhhh, boy. The second best part of the series was the sound. I liked the theme, and every time I sensed myself getting a little fed up with the current theme, it was like they read my mind and it was changed the next episode. Every opening/closing was fresh and upbeat – much like the show is.
Second, voice acting. You can’t get much better than the two voice actors of Maria and Hayate. No, sir. You cannot. Maria, as we know is rather reserved and pensive and her voice reflects that as clear as undisturbed water. Hayate’s voice in full of ignorance and apprehension, but it also full of innocent power. Great job to especially these voice actors, but to all who participated in the show. 10/10.
HINAGIKU ASSAULT. Be ready for it. Trust me. Huge character development on the part of Hinagiku would be an understatement. Albeit she is given a FAIR SHARE of screen time and another crucial development takes place which I’m sure you saw prefaced in the OVA, possibly even in the first season as well.
Ayumu is the only other standout character with her development and role that she takes on in the second season: more mature and, I found her, very profound and insightful.
The majority of the other characters remain vastly the same. Hey, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 8/10.
My enjoyment partially played into the fact that the show gave me what I was looking for after the first season: an identity. In this season, we saw that it had settled into a romantic comedy identity and spruced it up with a few action bits, but not as much as the first season. 8/10.
To me, this was a wise decision. You can’t have an anime that’s solely based on comedy and have all these extremely powerful personalities behind it, because the characters will seem like they’re forcing it and being too fake. Thankfully, the romantic comedy aspect was brought to bear, and the “strong personalities” were satiated, tamed, and, most importantly, and garnered success.
The show still maintains its comedy and it’s the length of the second season has been halved to 25 episodes, but the affect the storytelling leaves on you is as substantial as the first: it’s very funny, makes impossible-to-get-every-single-reference references, good characters, a reasonable plot, good sound, and as entertaining as any other anime out there. 8/10.
I for one am very proud of J.C. Staff for sticking to the source material. While at times an episode could seem rigid and have poor flow from the first half to the next, seeing chapters from the manga coming to be animated brings a feeling of joy.
The art however leaves something to be desired. The change of color and designs of the characters from the first season and is not welcome. The backgrounds are fine but Nagi’s hair looks like it was drawn with a piss yellow crayon, and Hina’s and Ayumu’s hair just screams QUALITY. But this is to be expected from a studio such as J.C. Staff, and it doesn’t help that Japan’s economy isn’t so hot at the moment.
The sound enriches the episodes, and is the reason why this anime is worth watching if one already currently reads the manga. The seiyuu are all outstanding at their roles and the background music fits in perfectly with each scene.
The characters are extremely witty and endearing. The sheer amount of them and the developments between them is what makes Hayate so entertaining to watch.
9: Dragon Ball Kai
English: Dragon Ball Z Kai
MAL Score: 7.71
Five years after the events of Dragon Ball, martial arts expert Gokuu is now a grown man married to his wife Chi-Chi, with a four-year old son named Gohan. While attending a reunion on Turtle Island with his old friends Master Roshi, Krillin, Bulma and others, the festivities are interrupted when a humanoid alien named Raditz not only reveals the truth behind Gokuu’s past, but kidnaps Gohan as well.
With Raditz displaying power beyond anything Gokuu has seen before, he is forced to team up with his old nemesis, Piccolo, in order to rescue his son. But when Gokuu and Piccolo reveal the secret of the seven mystical wish-granting Dragon Balls to Raditz, he informs the duo that there is more of his race, the Saiyans, and they won’t pass up an opportunity to seize the power of the Dragon Balls for themselves.
These events begin the saga of Dragon Ball Kai, a story that finds Gokuu and his friends and family constantly defending the galaxy from increasingly more powerful threats. Bizarre, comical, heartwarming and threatening characters come together in a series of battles that push the powers and abilities of Gokuu and his friends beyond anything they have ever experienced.
Many like me who have seen the original and yet have seen this and thought well Kai is obviously the same isn’t it?
Well Yeah thats because it is But there are differences here and there to mention but it isn’t as major as a lot of people like to assume so I will be making some comparisons here that you’ll expect to see in this review since this is based on my analysis of this show from watching it twice alongside Dragon ball Z.
Story – 9
The story is sped up much more better compared to the original for obvious reasons of course, It sticks to major characters along with the main plot, less over the top screaming (Though there is that occasionally at times) and less deviating to different locations with little going on in them. better direction of how the pacing is handled within the story to how it is in the manga though I would argue that some certain moments in this version like the original happened quite differently in the manga.
The short prologue to the beginning of what happened to Goku’s father Bardock was a nice touch compared to how the original started off. It sets the story very nicely by showing bardock’s assault on frieza’s army and also the major difference was a removal of the fillers from the original which I like a lot about this.
Now for me I enjoyed some of the fillers from the original anime such as Gohan surviving out in the wilderness as part of his training or Goku and Piccolo amusing test driving episode or even seeing some of the characters trying to find the dragon balls or just randomly seeing some of the supporting characters in their own segments like Tien, Krillin, Yamcha, Chichi etc.
The fillers were also placed in some of the right spots in the story to give some fun easy going highlights towards characters and even progression for example gohan on his adventure out in the wilderness by piccolo to adapt to his surroundings and to not be afraid had a nice throwback to the original dragonball that in a way keeps it connected.
To me, Some of the Fillers like these are still a joy to watch personally unlike some certain animes that just shoehorn filler episodes to disrupt the flow of their story and action badly
(cough cough Bleach and Naruto)
The Filler from the original offered a nice casual distraction away from the main plot but also kept up in the right places as well as still offering the action, drama and humour to the show as a whole, I mean sure the negative to that is filler episode could tend to drag but they were also placed in convenient places that to me made sense and I wish a lot of shonen animes would do this. (I could go, But moving on)
But to note I also know from the original anime you have fillers that are just too slow and time wasting, For the love of god I totally did not like the whole fake Planet Namek filler and Goku when he fell off snake way when he met those 2 annoying Orges, including the fillers that stretch the length of certain episodes or just random added silly moments which I also wasn’t a fan of.
Now with Kai most of these fillers are pretty much gone which really helps viewers to stick with the main plot which in term keeps it more direct and maintains that balance of content and at least help it to not completely drag on for very long which is a major improvement.
Art/Animation – 6
Honestly I am however disappointed with Toei animation.
A series that finished a long time ago, that was beloved by loads of fans all round the world gets this reboot in 2009 and did they improve on art and animation? honestly.. Not that much at all.
This very much annoys me to say this but Dbz kai in terms of its animation capturing the same dated 4:3 ratio like the original did with certain colour correction and contrast but with the very same style of animation which in today standards of art and animation is undeniably lazy from Toei Animation standards considering this reboot came out in 2009!! Just unacceptable.
I have no problem with the art/animation with the original series since it came out in the late 80s/Early 90s, but Come On Now!.. this is practically the same with little certain things that they kinda enhanced which look like anybody could do on PowerPoint!
What seems very good from the very opening of truly great animation that would of suited the series as whole for it in this era of animation only comes to slap people in the face when they see this and say where is the improvement on the animation?? (No way only in the opening!?….Really? Surely they had a lot more time right?)
The original recycled animation has been limited but still not showing enough of that change that should of been implemented with better quality in the first place and some of the uncut blood and violence is replace by bruises which looks silly and yes even though the manga isn’t too violent it still looses some of its believability at times when something violent occurs
which does make me sympathies with those that did not warm up towards this series but again another thing is at least its not bad compared with the original in terms of missing features to the characters and what not.
As a really good example look at original JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders reboot. It got an updated look of the animation as well as other features in their new series to bring its source material of the manga to life so why not Dragon ball kai??
I get that the studio works on other different shows in Japan now and then but Is it really that much of a chore for them to do so for their most profitable franchise besides just animating the opening? They might as well just get Madhouse to work on it like they did for Hunter X Hunter 2011 if they aren’t really up to the task.
Music – 6
Right Okay..I honestly feel pretty mixed about this one.
While Kenji Yamamoto was originally the music composer behind The music of this series but had to be replace because of some corporate music scandal he had done.
before this show was release on DVD/bluray to the public they had the music to be replace with the former composer from the original series in 2009 which yet again is a problem, like the animation the music score sounds too dated like I’m watching an old detective show that sounds like 1966 The Green Hornet, The Hell!? seriously its Dragon ball Z!!!
So Understand that the mixes of genres of this show falls under Battle Shounen, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Martial Arts,
Sci Fi, Super Power which adds a lot of variety for this show so It should feel and sound like it has its own uniqueness here especially to other music soundtracks nowadays but it unfortunately doesn’t since this anime has more of an out of date feel to it now which does not make me feel invested towards the episodes as much at times.
I LOVE the music composer Kikuchi Shunsuke from the original series I’ve nothing against him, but his soundtracks for a reboot version/ Remastering of this series up to this point just doesn’t really make me feel excited or engage to whats happening on scene especially since certain Iconic soundtracks are not present there like the original show and with this issue I feel, It just doesn’t really resonate with me when something is taking place.
Of course I am aware that Kai added a few new music scores in place of the show and they sound good but are only once during different characters moments which makes it pretty pointless honestly.
It was more better in the original because it was more authentic and done so well for particularly in that time period of anime back then.
The Opening Is okay, not really topping the original in anyway since the original Opening sounded so Iconic and with this opening I just felt it was played too much that but could’ve added more instead of hearing the same opening song throughout 97 episodes and again In no way competes with the opening of Dragon ball Z CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA since its so Iconic from the previous installment.
Voice Acting – 9
The dub and sub on the other hand are probably the highlight of Kai itself especially the dub as it is well handled by funimation.
It adds a lot more verbal curses than the original from previous works of there own, Good thing about this show its that it sticks closer to the Japanese dialogue of its source material.
For me the stand out performance from the dub easily was Chris Ayres as Frieza, Sean Schemmel as Goku, Dameon Clarke as Cell and Chris Sabat as Vegeta and Piccolo. I was also very happy that I heard other different voices for a change too, Though I do however miss Kyle Hebert as the narrator for his charismatic energy for the intro but doc Morgan does do a good job also.
Other voices like Colleen Clinkenbeard as Gohan in english is sort of okay but not that good, It can sometimes sound a little jarring and irritating at times especially when she forces her vocals too hard along with the screaming and I preferred her less as gohan as the show went on and I’m not a fan of when she has to voice Kid Goku since its basically the same as another character that she voices such as Luffy and to me it just does not fit for kid goku or gohan since all I’m hearing from her is her performance as luffy.
Not to mention she voices 18 who doesn’t even sound like she’s related to 17 as his twin sister who I felt the original sounded more close to it even in the Japanese, though her little kid version of gohan isn’t too bad. There was also a few annoying script changes as well in certain scenes too. But overall a great dub.
Now also, to be fair In comparison to Nozawa’s performance as Goku and Gohan I do think it would be unfair to compare voice performance here as some of the Japanese voice actors i feel don’t always sound as right in their roles regardless if Akira had a hand in picking certain individuals, but that isn’t my place to say because I do at times like their performance.
(P.s I’m Not trying to start a Dub Vs Sub debate here folks)
Also I like to mention the opening and closings is quite upbeat and laughably offer the best animation of the show by leaps and bounds.
but yet again, only having 1 opening can be repetitive for 97 episodes, honestly it would of been nice if they had done a few more openings each with a different song but Alas! Its only a minor nitpick.
As for the characters – 8
As Similar to the original, Cool heroes, Wicked villains, Memorable action, Plot as well as a great build up that follows through different stages of the narrative just like the manga counterpart now that the dialogue in this series expresses the show more better. Its demonstrates pretty much the same cast of colourful characters that still represents themselves in their colourful own way the more you watch you start to feel some sort of connection to one of these characters that define a lot of fun traits within the shonen genre and it’s easy to see why.
The characters have their own drive about them that strive to be the best of themselves despite their flaws which will resonate sharply with the viewer but it also gives interesting context to prior events that happens within each Arc which becomes clearer even through my 2nd rewatch.
Personal Enjoyment – 8
I have to admit the first half I really enjoyed a lot but I felt by the second half it felt like it got a little bit tedious going into Cell’s Arc even towards the final third of the show, it weirdly enough ends at Trunks going back to his own timeline to end the chaos without finishing off the rest of the series but It was pretty much a simple yet a decent conclusion until Dragon ball Kai 2014 pretty much wraps up the original series.
Final Verdict – 8
Now there could of been a much more improved version of this no doubt about that, but I feel Dbz kai did a decent job on its reboot to the original despite falling short in places where its production was very lazy which earns this series this rating
Its still a great series for anyone who want an introduction to watching battle shounen anime or just want to check out what the original series of Dragon Ball Z is.
It sticks close at hand to its source material even if you don’t want to fully watch the original at least this is a more condense way to get through with ease and not too long to feel drawn out. Sorry if my review came off being serious but that is how I properly critic and say what I say with honesty.
Also PLEASE watch Dragon ball if you can, Its basically The prequel of Both Dragon ball Kai & Z since that doesn’t get as much love as the sequel does in general. Or if it’s not your thing than the Manga would likely be a better option. Until then Thanks for reading. ; )
I’ll just focus on Kai and the changes it has
Ok, so the story in dragonball has never been really complex or deep, but it’s still fun to watch.
In my opinion, the biggest improovement Kai has over DBZ is that all the anoying fillers are gone and now the story goes, mostly, acording to the manga. No more eternal power charging, no more eternal “he is so strong” internal monologues a no more feeling that nothing really happened in the last 10 chapters. Yeah there are some fun filler missing, like when goku and picolo go to the driving school, but in the end what is gained with the exclusion of the filler is far more than what is lost.
I’ve read here that the story got cut out, that’s not true, they just cut out all the filler that made the original Dragonball anime a pain to whatch for the poeple that have read the original manga.
The art in dragonball has allways been decent considering the times when it was released. But just as the new opening makes you believe at first, this could have been a real remake but the only thing we get here are the exact same animation but on a higher resolution, that’s all.
The audio has been remade and sounds great. After finishing KAI I watched some episodes of the original anime and the difference was clear.
I also liked some of the aditions to the soundtrack, though not all of them.
At least to this date, this is the best way to watch dragonball.
If you are a newcomer to the world of dragonball you will be able to see the story and fights just as Toriyama made them in the original manga.
If you already saw the original anime or manga you will be able to go throught this all time classic once again without having to be tortured by the neverending fillers.
It’s good, but it could have been so much more.
I really would have loved to see a real remake with the kind of animation that we get in the opening of kai.
The story to DB Kai is no different from the original series. The Earth is paid a visit by a being named Raditz whom claims to be Goku’s brother; Raditz reveals to him that he’s not even of Earth, instead he comes from a different race called the Saiyians whom lived on Planet Vegeta. They eventually battle, and Goku as well as his allies learn that Raditz isn’t the only one out there from that race, nor is he even close to the strongest. They then prepare themselves to battle against the last two warriors of the Saiyan race.
I will mention now that the removal of various filler such as Snake Way, Garlic Jr., and various other things was definitely a plus. The show moves quite better without the constant distractions; but the truth is, even without the filler, DB Kai can still be a chore at times with situations dragging along for too much time, and the outcome simply not being a good enough pay off for some of the waiting. In any case, the overall story is fun, and DB Kai works its way up to the final battle against Cell.
DB Kai manages to keep the action well paced enough, and character personalities are fleshed out. However, things could have been so much better had the only change to the show been the various filler. One thing DBZ did well was its voice acting for the English dub and character interactions. Some serious fans will catch the removal of some dialog and it may bother them, it sure as hell bothered me because Vegeta especially had some good lines, like his threat to beat on Yamcha for practically no reason. The changing of voice actors got on my nerves as well; Colleen Clinkenbeard is annoying as hell as Gohan, and had I never seen this before I would have been wishing for his brutal death at the hands of Frieza. Now speaking of Frieza, they have Chris Ayres playing him. I hate everyone Ayres, Chris and Greg Ayres have a very annoying, whining, saccharine feel that gets on my nerves quick. Colleen Clinkenbeard also voices Android 18, and she just feels all types of wrong here. Meredith McCoy is by far the best to play her; she brought a sinister yet sexy appeal to 18 that carried over to her facial expressions and even fighting.
Another thing DBZ always did amazingly well was introduce intense music scores. Funimation’s BGM is probably this anime’s best quality and they know it, yet for some reason they use boring elevator music, with no variation or anything new through out the entire duration of the show. Vegeta and Piccolo’s addictive themes that described their characters so well? Gone. The terrifying BGM of death when Frieza goes off to kill Vegeta while King Kai narrates this is the evil Prince’s last stand? Jettisoned… for some irritating trash that doesn’t enhance the scene at all. I can list plenty more examples, but this proves to me that not everyone understands the effect music can have during some scenes.
The animation and artwork appears to be remastered, but the only thing actually new is the opening. I don’t have much of a problem with this, still this could have been better updated. At least DB Kai delivers the action well enough and there’s plenty going on that can turn a new comer into a fan. There’s loads of fisticuffs and brutal beatings to go around.
As I look around there are plenty of people that really enjoyed Kai more than DBZ. I can honestly say that I understand that because it does trim a lot of the fat and focuses more on character and story development, along with action which is the main selling point. Unfortunately for me, I look for other things in my anime and music means a lot to me; a great soundtrack can actually mask flaws in a work, and DBZ was full of them yet the BGM smoothed things out making it more tolerable. In addition, there are things that seems changed for the sake of it. None of the voice actors from the original died while this was in production, so I see no reason for the change in cast, nor the removal of some lines.
Despite my dislike for this remake, if that’s what it is, I still recommend it to fans so they can see it for themselves; but I highly advise to be prepared for these various changes. I already know plenty of individuals who had the same issues with this as I did.
Highs: Some of the removal of filler does work, enjoyable action
Lows: Altering of cast and BGM is a huge blow for me
8: Tetsuwan Birdy Decode:02
English: Birdy the Mighty: Decode 02
Japanese: 鉄腕バーディー DECODE:02
MAL Score: 7.73
Following the Ryunka disaster, Tokyo is left in a period of social turmoil. To make matters worse, the group of aliens directly responsible for the catastrophic event have escaped from the Space Federation and are hiding on Earth.
Still sharing a body, Space Federation officer Birdy Cephon Altera, and high schooler, Tsutomu Senkawa, are tasked with capturing the fugitives and bringing them to justice. However, an unexpected crisis develops when the outlaws become targets of an unknown assassin with a vendetta. Now Birdy must deal with the chaos of everyday life and also uncover the identity of the assassin before more escapees fall victim.
Being a long time fan of the original Birdy the Mighty OVA from 1997, it goes without saying that I was definitely looking forward to the new series of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode. Unfortunately the first season of Decode, whilst being good and great in some areas, was lacklustre in others – especially where the pacing of the story was concerned.
Thankfully, A-1 Pictures have changed the whole ball game with the release of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: 02.
The second season picks up directly after the end of the first. Tsutomu and Birdy are still sharing a body for the time being whilst the world tries to make sense of the Ryunka incident. Meanwhile, a prison transport belonging the the Intergalactic Police is attacked by an unknown assailant. The escaped convicts take shelter on earth, and Birdy is ordered to find and capture them. During the course of her investigation though, Birdy runs into an old friend…
The story seems pretty straightforward on the whole, and there are some predictable events that occur, however don’t be fooled by the failings of the first season as Decode: 02 is a completely different beast. The story is much tighter this time around, and is very much focused on Birdy rather than Tsutomu. One irony is that, whilst the first season looked at Tsutomu’s love life, the second season is very clearly about Birdy’s relationships, and I found that this aspect was far more engaging than the sci-fi school romance that was season one.
One of the main problems I had with the first season was the inconsistent, and often slow, pacing of the series. I just wanted the show to get on with the story rather than beat around the bush. As with any story, no matter how good, unless the pacing is correct the audience will lose interest, and season two is no slouch is this department. The tighter storyline, combined with some excellent pacing and some great (even with the predictable bits), plot development, allows the audience to become far more engaged in the story. The added bonus of this season being mainly about Birdy makes her character far more accessible,and endearing, as well.
Oh, and we also get to find out why she’s called “Berserker Killer Birdy”.
The animation for Decode: 02 is easily on par with that of the first season. The incorporation of CG is almost seamless, and the character movements, especially during the action sequences, are exceptional. One thing that may have detractors though, is that some sequences have a decidedly “rough and ready” look to them. This isn’t due to a lack of time or skill on the part of the animators though, as it is very much intentional. The aim of these sequences is to direct the viewers attention to the characters and their struggles, allows the animators greater freedom and flexibility when it comes to character movements, and promotes a greater degree of emotion than a clean, clinical finish could everallow. The reason they chose to do this is purely because Birdy is an Ixion Altairan, a genetically engineered “super-soldier”, and when you watch those scens, you’ll begin to understand why they work on several levels. Fans of the awesome Casshern: Sins will recognise this technique as it is used heavily in that show as well.
Sound has been improved in the second series, with the characters themselves expressing a greater degree of emotion through their respective seiyuu (more on this in a bit). One of the high points of the voice acting occurs when Chiba Saeko (Birdy), and Irino Miyu (Tsutomu), speak exactly the same lines at exactly the same time. I won’t say why this happens, however the degree of emotion expressed by both is extremely well synchronised.
Music is also a step up from season one. The OP and ED are just as good as the first series, however I did find myself preferring the OP to Decode: 02. The thematic music used throughout the series follows the same trend as season one, however it seems to work better here. This may be due to the tighter storyline, however it may also be due to the fact that there have been some changes to the tracklist, so some thought looks to have gone into what works where.
One of the driving forces of the Tetsuwan Birdy Decode series has been it’s characters. In season one both Tsutomu and Birdy were engaging, yet both lacked a certain polish. In Decode: 02 however, Tsutomu is far more composed and mature (the Ryunka event and it’s aftermath having been a rite of passage of sorts). Birdy has also undergone some improvement, and is far more endearing than she was in the first season. The fact that this season delves more into Birdy’s past also helps to round out her character a lot, as the audience can begin to understand her motivations and goals.
I absolutely adored this season, and it is easily one of the best follow-ups I have seen in anime – period. This show has something for everyone, from human interest and romance, to mystery and major ass-kicking (super-soldier style).
Decode: 02 proves once again what we all know already. With a little care and thought, the sequel can easily surpass the original.
Most notably would be the animation – 02 exhibits some of the most incredible animation in a 13-episode series for a long, long time. Where other shows might shell out for a good fight scene here and there, 02 provides stunningly kinetic action scenes throughout the entire run, most notably in its incredible finale. If you like good animation, it’s a must.
But it’s not just the animation that dominates over the first season. The characterisation and setting also prevails – the plot gives a more Birdy-centric view, and Tsutomu loses any annoying qualities he once had. Their chemistry is quite nice to watch, and other characters also receive some good development.
Nataru, a new character, is an excellent addition and forms a large part of the plot, fitting in well with the setting and providing some great development for Birdy. The new antagonists are also worthy, and the colourful villain cast makes a nice change to the vague enemies of the first season.
The music is nothing particularly amazing, but it serves its purpose well. The OP and ED are just as good as the previous ones, and the Main theme that plays here and there is a joy to listen to.
If there is one obvious complaint, then it would have to be the art. In some places, it really suffers, looking lazily drawn and messy – however, this is all intentional in providing some high-quality animation and making an otherwise bland enviroment or dramatic scene come alive. For once, it’s nice to see a studio favour the movement and action that you would expect from an animated piece of work, rather than focus on static close-ups and un-necessary amounts of shading.
And, an extra added difference to the second series is that it heavily ramps up the Gore-factor. This is good or bad depending on your persuasion, but the series certainly does not take shortcuts when it comes to brutality. In my opinion, this makes everything even more refreshing, but opinions may differ.
Overall, Birdy Decode: 02 is a rarity in that it’s much, much, much better than its predecessor – which is almost a shame, as people who disliked the first season would be put off by the second, despite it’s many corrections and improvements. Overall, I recommend this anime to ANYONE. Whether you saw the first season, whether you didn’t, or whether you liked it or not, you should give this show a try.
The first season was insipid because the focus is on the school life aspect while the more appealing intergalactic setting and aliens in masquerade get demoted to the background for a relatively large part of the series. The whole ordinary kid stuck in extraordinary events premise is overshadowed by the fact said extraordinary events are way more interesting that the ordinary kid. Naturally, the reverse is what made the sequel so much better. In addition, season 2 deals with alien fugitives taking cover on Earth, allowing the introduction of Birdy’s childhood friend, thus giving the opportunity to explore Birdy’s back-story. To put it simply, the sequel did practically everything that I complained was lacking in its first season.
As such, it can be argued that the real reason that season 1 is mediocre is because the real ‘story’ have not occurred. And it makes sense when one consider the case of the so-called standard 26-episode series. The alien they fought at the end of the first season? It’s not the so-called ‘real’ Final Boss. It was not the actual climax. The secret project and experiments was just the set up, merely to prepare the stage for this sequel. Indeed, this one is when it’s finally ready to deliver what it has been building up previously. This is when things finally start to get serious, hence why the pace in season 2 is much faster and with more events occurring.
[Characters:8.0] As said, the character of focus is one of the key reasons defining Birdy Decode on the whole. Previously, the side characters doesn’t really contribute much to the story. For all intent and purpose, the only relevant characters were mainly just Birdy, Tsutomu and Natsume who got caught in the event. Now, apart from the protagonists, the main antagonist too gets the fair share of back story and other minor character also get their share of the limelight.
And of course, there is much drama and development to be had for Birdy herself. From her comedic Arita Shion persona to flashbacks involving her past, the scenes were well executed. The lighter moments are comedic when it needs to, while the heavier and darker scenes are dramatic without being overdone. In particular, the story can get surprisingly quite touching and bittersweet in the latter part of the series.
The choice of voice-acting cast was great too. As with the prequel, I like the voice acting for Birdy, especially when she is in her Arita Shion mode. Special mention goes to Mamiko Noto as Birdy’s caretaker.
[Art:8.5] Another compliment goes to the major improvement in production values. Not only is the story better, even the animation quality is much higher. The action sequences are fantastic, albeit some of them being rather brutal. In short, the art style is excellent and in particular, I like the mix of animation styles – for example, the sketchy style (similar to those of Gainax productions) is highly appropriate for some of the more emotionally chaotic moments.
[Music:7.5] Decode has good soundtracks, but the prequel didn’t quite get to put them to good use. Thankfully, this season rectify that. Furthermore, the choice of opening and closing themes are also much more agreeable.
[Summary] With a classic science-fiction setting, some romance and plenty of cool action sequences, it shall suffice to say that Birdy Decode 02 is definitely worth the watch.
Personal Overall Rating: 8.5
7: Higashi no Eden
English: Eden of The East
MAL Score: 7.80
On November 22, 2010, Japan was hit by missile strikes, a terrorist act that fortunately did not harm anyone, becoming known as “Careless Monday.” Quickly forgotten, society goes on about their lives as normal.
During her graduation trip to America three months later, friendly college student Saki Morimi’s life is forever changed when she finds herself saved from unexpected trouble by Akira Takizawa. Takizawa is cheerful, but odd in many ways—he is stark naked and suffers from amnesia, believing himself to be a terrorist. In addition, he possesses a strange cell phone loaded with 8.2 billion yen in digital cash.
Despite Takizawa’s suspicious traits, Saki quickly befriends the enigmatic young man. However, unbeknownst to her, this is the beginning of a thrilling death game involving money, cell phones, and the salvation of the world. Higashi no Eden chronicles Saki’s struggle to unravel the mysteries behind her savior, while Takizawa himself battles other individuals armed with similar cell phones and returning memories which reveal his possible connection to the event from months ago.
+ This anime definitely brings a very interesting plot.
+ The level of mystery and suspense will leave the viewer wanting more every episode.
+ Definitely one of the most refreshing stories in recent seasons.
– Its is only 11 episodes long, a very uncommon number for an anime.
– The ending leaves you with a cliffhanger that the movies are expected to resolve.
– Because of the # of episodes, plus the announcement of 2 movies. The anime ending does not feel like it brings any closure to the overall story.
+ Fantastic art in both characters and backgrounds throughout the anime.
+ Very artistic animations for both the Opening and Ending themes.
+ There is really nothing bad to say here, this anime brings some nice eye candy to the viewer.
+ Very good OP and ED songs. They are really cool to listen to.
+ The soundtrack is also really good, complimenting some scenes really nicely.
+ The voice acting is solid through the series, specially for Akira.
+ Takizawa Akira is main driving force in terms of character in this anime. He is pretty much the only one who constantly shines.
+ Other Selecao members are all unique and different in personalities, and are also very interesting people and have some good development (as short as some may be).
+ Akira is as mysterious as a character as he is likeable, he doesn’t take things TOO seriously and also provides some good comedy.
– Saki, despite being likeable, just doesn’t seem to contribute much to the overall plot despite being a main character.
Enjoyment: This anime was highly entertaining, despite ending in a cliffhanger it left me wanting more every episode and it would never feel boring. With the movies set to bring a conclusion to the anime, I can’t wait to see them.
Overall Higashi no Eden proves to be a very enjoyable and entertaining anime which brings some rather unique and interesting plot that will be able to keep your interest from its unique 11 episode run. However because the series itself is not complete without the movies, the ending might feel a little underwhelming to some. Regardless, this anime surpassed my expectations and its a fantastic show to those looking a solid plot, likeable characters, beautiful visuals, and enjoyable music. I highly recommend people try this anime out, I dont think you will be disappointed.
After watching the first few episodes of Eden of the East (a.k.a Higashi no Eden), I was extremely impressed and very excited. I thought I had found a compelling mystery anime with lovable characters, a great storyline, and fluent animation. I couldn’t wait to see what Eden had in store, so I sat through the entire series and both of the movies in a huge marathon. You want to know what it all amounted to? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The storyline of this anime goes absolutely, positively NOWHERE at any point in any of the movies or episodes and gives the phrase “dragging it out” an entirely new definition. This is one of the most disappointing anime I’ve ever seen simply because it gets you so excited with it’s engrossing beginning, and just plateaus for the remaining 90% of screen time.
Synopsis: A man wakes up outside the White House stark naked with a gun one hand, a cell phone charged with 8.2 billion yen in funds in the other hand, and no memory of who he is or how he got there what so ever. The man, who goes by Takizawa (even though It’s not his real name), goes on to find out that he is involved in a game in which he and twelve other contestants were given 10 billion yen and told to “Fix the country”. He meets a girl named Saki and together they go on an “adventure” (if you can even call it that…) to discover Takizawa’s past.
For the first few episodes, this is a compelling concept. Additionally, Takizawa jumps off the screen as a charming character with tons of personality and Saki (Takizawa’s love interest) seemed like she would develop into a likable character. I thought Eden couldn’t go wrong with so many stellar pieces in place. Well, it did. Very wrong.
The #1 problem with Eden is that the plot never builds into anything significant or exciting, with the exception of the end of the series portion of Eden, which was entertaining, but certainly not worthy of being considered a true climax. After that moment, nothing happens. Literally nothing. There are a few new developments that never lead anywhere, the contestants of the game start to get narrowed down, but that doesn’t lead anywhere, and worst of all, the promising relationship between Saki and Takizawa doesn’t lead anywhere! In the first couple of episodes, I absolutely fell in love with these characters! They had personality, they had chemistry, and they were unique! You want to know what it all built up to? Absolutely ZILCH.
And that brings us to the ending of the anime, which I won’t spoil, but to summarize my feelings on it; it sucks. There are happy endings, sad endings, and there are bad endings. Bad endings are the endings that just leave an unfilled void in your soul; the unmistakable feeling that everything you just watched has been for absolutely nothing. That is the kind of ending that Eden has.
Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the plotholes yet. For instance; there is one scene where a character sprouts wings and flies away. Yep, just for no apparent reason. It is never explained, it is never mentioned again, and it is the only supernatural thing that takes place in Eden. Those are the kind of plot holes we are dealing with here. It’s hinted at that this could have been a hallucination but that honestly just raises even more questions if you ask me.
In short, the story to Eden had huge potential and capitalized on next to none of it. Wildly disappointing.
The animation is probably the highlight of the anime. Everything is pleasant to look at and the animation is always fluent. I liked the animation style quite a bit. It never really has a chance to shine though, thanks to the general lack of action and climatic/exciting scenes, which a damn shame.
The soundtrack is unique and pleasant to listen to. Eden also has one of my favorite EDs ever. The voice acting is pretty good in both versions, but I’m not crazy about Saki’s voice actor in the dub.
The only two characters worth talking about are Takizawa and Saki.
Takizawa, as I mentioned earlier, really stands out in the beginning of the anime as a charming character overflowing with personality. He is a great protagonist for the most part, and he receives a fair amount of character development, but he remains disappointingly static throughout the anime and his personality can only make up for so much. I liked Takizawa a lot, but he just feels like another wasted opportunity.
Saki, as I also mentioned earlier, is Takizawa’s love interest. She seemed like she could develop into a great character with a distinct personality but guess what? It never happens! Are you sensing a theme yet? She ends up being a stereotypical female character who is just sort of… there. She seems to be gradually written out of the show, in fact. The relationship between these two is built up more then anything else in the show, and that makes it all the more disappointing when even that ends without giving the viewer an ounce of payoff or satisfaction what so ever.
The fact that these are the only two characters worth mentioning and both of them are disappointments is all the information you need to infer that Eden’s characters fall flat in yet another, lets say it together this time, (ALL: Wasted Opportunity!)
To be fair ,there are a couple decent side characters, but none of them are relevant enough to the plot or entertaining enough to take the time to talk about.
Eden of the East left a disgusting taste in mouth. It builds you up and builds you up and builds you up only to have no payoff at the end (or any other point) what so ever. It is a colossal waste of potential and I really can’t recommend watching anything past the 11 anime episodes, if even those. It may as well of ended there, because the true ending is about as satisfying as if it had just ended after the episodic portion of anime; no closure and no real climax.
How delightfully reassuring, then, to discover Eden of the East; this, unlike the aforementioned failures, begins on a much higher bar of quality. In fact, tapping into the hot topics of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, information technology, marginalized geek subculture, and subversive conspiracy theories, it accomplishes an astronomical level of relevancy to its early twenty-first century audience that’s both rare and difficult to pull off. Like Akira emerging from a background of Cold War paranoia, Eden of the East manages to capture the Zeitgeist of disenfranchised youth of the millennium and repackage it into a fascinating adventure that anyone can enjoy. Instead of loudmouthed biker brats trying to prevent the apocalypse, there are spotty middle-class misfits with too much HP trying to save Japan from itself.
The sequence of events may be ambiguous, with the script hardly pausing to explain how they connect with each other, but the pace remains satisfyingly steady. Strangely enough, like watching a master illusionist at work, the confusion contributes to the enjoyment. The series withholds tantalising facts until the last possible moment and glosses over its meandering mystery with generous handfuls of charisma.
In truth, the first half of the show elicits the kind of spine-tingling rapture that only comes along once a decade when viewers inadvertently stumble upon a confident masterpiece. I could see it already – breathless fans hailing Eden of the East as the second coming of Death Note, the easy five-star ratings flying from reviewers’ fingertips, and a live-action movie so popular it even makes it as far as British cinemas by 2015!
All I can say is enjoy the magic while it lasts. Inevitably, Eden of the East overreaches and certain contortions of the plot midway stretch viewers’ suspension of disbelief to untenable limits. At first there is a clever chase sequence highly reminiscent of Light and L’s interplay in Death Note, where the mysterious hero Akira tries to save the day with the help of Juiz (a voice on his phone which grants his every wish). For whatever reason, just at that key juncture, the show follows up with a scene of such crippling farce that, despite later rationalization, it spells a stunning loss of momentum. After that, there’s a long period of rushed explanations, sluggish suspense, and one or two twists desperately in need of more coherent setup.
Fans expecting easy-to-grasp developments and a neat conclusion will end up disappointed. However, for conspiracy theorists and generally anal fans who like to pore over minute details and debate exact wordings for weeks after a show is over, this will prove quite the feast.
Even in that age (2009) of knock-off CGI and dime-a-dozen action sequences, Eden of the East’s visuals warrant some respect. The style may not be up to much, but cityscapes, monorails, museums, cars, and streets have rarely looked this good. The quirkiest aspect is the combination of hamster-cheeked characters with hyper-realistic, superbly detailed backgrounds. Although this sounds intuitively incompatible, the quality of animation is consistently high and melds everything together nicely.
Apart from a catchy opening theme sung by the established Brit-rock band, Oasis, and some excellent American voice acting during the early episodes, Eden of the East’s soundtrack remains effective but wholly unremarkable.
Out of all the characters, only Akira Takigawa leaps off the screen with his incredible effervescence. Turning up at the White House naked with a gun in his first scene certainly makes him memorable, but his charm extends beyond mere gimmicks. Akira’s development reveals a fascinating duality in his personality, which ensures he is at once easy to like and teasingly difficult to grasp. His whimsical nature belies an underlying quick mind and a surprising level of gravity, the latter of which manifests itself in the messianic themes surrounding him (obvious statements that he’s Saki’s ‘prince’, his supposed massacre of 20,000 NEETs, the occasional deadpan expression etc). He’ll delight and entrance in turn, and he’ll do it seemingly without much effort.
Everyone else, unfortunately, gets caught in the whirlwind of his mystery without any opportunity to make their own mark. The good news is that the supporting cast, being ordinary people with ordinary problems, generally behave within the familiar boundaries of reason. Regrettably, this means that, when thrown into Eden of the East’s extraordinary circumstances, they become like headless chickens – alarmingly useless. At some point, I began to wonder how many more times I’d have to watch Saki mope after Akira, worrying about his terrible secrets without being able to help uncover them. Her behavior is always understandable, of course, but also off-putting for being redundant.
Apart from that, the gaggle of weak antagonists impedes any attempt at emotional investment. The most carelessly developed individual has to be that purple-haired femme fatale whose morbid behavior is as caricatured as her looks. Being the only female of note other than the mediocre Saki, I found her constant prancing in underwear and high heels a horribly patronizing and silly portrayal. Truly, does being psychologically disturbed always have to mean being half naked? Other antagonists introduced later simply look boring, are underdeveloped, or generally don’t do much of note. Viewers will keep watching simply to find out the answers to the questions set at the beginning, and not because they will care about the conflict of interest.
I find this a very difficult anime to recommend without caveats. Objectively, I recognize Eden of the East’s great achievements; brandishing an arsenal of treats, including an innovative mystery that doubles as social commentary and Akira’s magnetic characterization, it will exceed expectations on first impressions. On the other hand, I feel underwhelmed by the experience. Somehow, the show misses its mark, becoming a rambling setup for the anticipated movies with convoluted themes and tenuous explanations. Nonetheless, the fact remains – for a fresh and nail-biting reinterpretation of the mystery genre (even if short-lived), Eden of the East rivals the monumental favorites on the market of that date.
6: 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.
5: 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.
4: Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
English: Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
Japanese: Phantom Requiem for the Phantom
MAL Score: 7.98
Mafia is rife in America where assassinations are a regular occurrence on the streets. Inferno, a mysterious company, is behind most of these dealings through the use of their near-invincible human weapon, “Phantom.”
One day, a Japanese tourist accidentally witnesses Phantom’s latest murder. Desperate to escape, the tourist hides in a secluded building. However, Phantom, revealed to be a young woman named Ein, and the leader of Inferno “Scythe Master” captures the tourist and brainwashes him.
Given the name “Zwei,” this once peaceful tourist is now a puppet of Inferno with no memories. Drawn into a world of lies, deceit, and violence, Zwei must fight to survive, hopefully to one day regain his memories and escape from this world where he is constantly on the brink of death.
Prepare yourselves as you will be taken into a world full of violence, betrayal, deceit, and madness. You will be in the edge of your seats as every episode is an action packed episode. Everyone has the ability to kill or will kill when they think that their survival is being threatened. The protagonist chose a path that will change his life drastically. Not like he wanted to go to that path, more like they forced him to. Love is also portrayed because both of the protagonist know that they have feelings for each other but their status makes it hard for them. Also, time skips made this series more interesting as it will suprise the viewers since everything and everyone had change after it.
The art was great. They were some animation errors but you will forget them as you will be satisfied with the great and magnificent sceneries. The fighting and the shooting scenes were great too.
The sound was very nice. You’ll be feeling like you’re inside an opera room. Those falcetto notes during fights and dramatic events really helped. It deepened the impact on the viewers which makes it more awesome.
When interraction is made, relationship starts to form. As our main assassins work together since they are partners in crime, they realize that they have feelings for each other. Add another girl, in which you wouldn’t expect what would happen to her,and you get a love triangle. The organization, Inferno, also plays an important rolw because they are the ones who control and manipulate the strings of everyone. Organization so big that everyone in the underworld fears them.
Superb. It was very exciting. After seeing an episode, you’ll just keep longing for more and more because every episode leaves you hanging. There are also a lot of sudden turn of events, ohh the irony. I really enjoyed it more after the time skip. The settings and the roles changed drastically that it’ll make you be like “OHH YEAA .”
Great series, I recommend it to everyone. You will not feel regret.
== Story == 7
There are essentially two layers to this anime. On the superficial level, you have your standard mafia-esque corporations trying to gain more power, with the main corperation being Inferno. The distributions in power are a little vague in the beginning, but as the show goes on, one can see that higher-ups in the corperation are allowed a great deal of freedom when it comes to handling problems. Bosses will frequently go behind each other’s back to solve personal problems. This would make for quite an interesting story of intrigue, but is a little dulled by the second layer of the show.
The second layers revolves around our two main protagonists, Ein and Zwei. The complex relationship that these two characters have makes for quite an interesting main character cast, but I felt its relationship overshadows the story of Inferno and its attempt at gaining more power in the underworld.
I found myself a little disappointed when the show shifted from the intriguing development of the main characters to highlight the structure and plans of Inferno. I understand that this is necessary for the plot to advance and therefore for the characters to even develop, but hope you also get what I mean by this. The story also suffers from an insanely large plothole, which I could not overlook and I will talk about in the Characters section.
== Characters == 7
The main characters is where the show truly shines, but is also a big downfall. Ein, being completely brainwashed now has to work together with Zwei, who is in the process of being completely brainwashed, but deep down is heavily conflicted. I loved how their relationship was set up, being purely platonic and bland at first, but slowly turning into something deeper that I will not explain to avoid spoilers. There were times that I completely loathed the decisions they made, which was proof for me that I was quite heavily invested in the main characters.
As with the story, the main characters overshadow the supporting characters, who are in this case mostly Inferno members. This ties into the more ‘boring’ superficial layer of the story. It was also nice to see that the show pulls off quite a few risky plot-twists, some of which work out greatly, while others fail horribly.
This leads me to a plot hole, so gapingly large that it almost swallows the entire show. This is also why many people are so put off by this show. About 75% in, there is a time skip of two years. Some characters haven’t aged a day, while another turned from a child to an adolescent in a mere two years. Not only is this completely illogical, it was also not even necessary to keep the story going. The story and characters suffer immensely from this. Until the end of the show, I could not get over this. Your opinion on the show will most likely hinge on this specific time skip. I was really put off by this, but continued to watch anyway. The opening and ending also change after this time skip, which made this plot hole even more terribly obvious. Judge this how you will, but you cannot deny the irregularities that this time skip brought.
== Animation == 7
The animation is good. There is nothing wrong with it, but it isn’t amazing either. Some characters, often ladies, are sometimes irregularly shaped (scenes with weirdly long legs or unevenly sized breasts), but the rest looks good. Characters look great, are nicely animated and some painting-like scenery fleshes them out well, while giving you that artsy feeling.
One thing bothered me though, and that has to do with the fan service. In the first minute of the first episode you will see a half-naked lady lying on the beach. BAM! Two tits in your face. While there is nothing wrong with that, I immediately thought: ‘Oh it’s going to be like that, huh?’ But it wasn’t. During the rest of the show, the animators went out of their way to not fully show nudity, to the point of unrealistic, nippleless, naked girls, which makes me wonder what the use of that very first scene was to begin with. You have the R+ rating already, so just show nudity when it is appropriate, or fully go out of your way to show nudity, and avoid naked ladies without nipples altogether.
== Sound == 8
The sound is great. The opening song sets the mood nicely, while tracks in the anime always fit the scenes. Some soundtracks are so great or are so obviously made to make you feel a particular emotion, that it can even feel out-of-place in some scenes. It is just too present and obvious sometimes, but most of the time augments the show perfectly. The second opening and ending songs are used after the time skip for the last few episodes, which made me feel weird, almost insulted. For me there was no reason why they should change the songs to make the time skip even more obnoxious.
== Enjoyment == 7
There were times when I was heavily invested in the main characters, only to be pulled out again by a dull side-story or hateful decisions some characters make. I still cannot fathom some of the plot twist inducing decisions that were being made and can ultimately also not say that I always enjoyed this show. A few times I just sat there, looking at my screen and asking: ‘Why the fuck did you have to do that?’ Sometimes the show dragged on for a bit too long on a specific subject or side-story, making me wonder if it had been better for the show if it had a few less episodes.
People have been comparing this show to Black Lagoon a lot, but I must warn you that apart from the mafia groups and the conflicts of the main protagonist, the mood, setting and goal of the shows are completely different. Black Lagoon is much more action-oriented, while Phantom focuses more on character development.
Ultimately, this is not a bad show. It is not amazing either. It’s just decent. You will probably like it if you like the relationship of the main characters, but do not try to sell this as the greatest anime ever made, as its flaws are too obvious to ignore.
This review contains minor spoilers after the “Read More” mark.
Phantom consists of 3 main arcs, each separated by a recap episode, and each focusing on 3 different characters, Ein, Zwei and Drei, although with Zwei being an important character throughout. The story starts of with an interesting premise of an amnesiac man being manipulated by a shady organization.
However this thread is very quickly resolved when he learns of his identity 3 episodes in. And Zwei, oh Zwei isn’t known for making rational or even normal decisions. I mean, how else did he get himself stuck in this situation am I right? Several times in the series I really question his true motivations or even reasons for carrying out certain actions, not because of some mysterious plot thread or engaging character behavior, but because of shoddy character writing.
The other main characters aren’t any better in this regard. Ein is your standard emotionless girl who finds emotion through main protagonist stereotype and is absolutely dependent on someone else, be it Zwei or Evil Doctor person to live. Her character development is cliche as all hell, and ultimately she isn’t much likable as a result.
Drei on the other hand is more entertaining. She is a lot more enjoyable than the other 2 characters when it comes to her scenes, although her character motivations are just terrible. I won’t go much into her reasons for being in the plot, but it feels so shoved in and terribly written that I couldn’t garner any sympathy for her plight.
The other side characters are pretty forgettable. The main antagonist is an evil doctor whose name I forgot and is always one step ahead of the protagonists but has nothing substantial about him. He’s evil and depraved and that pretty much sums up his entire character. Near the end he becomes a lot more theatrical and a lot more entertaining but that still doesn’t redeem any of the previous moments involving his character.
There’s also the issue of the overall plot. The plot is competent enough, but the characters and the pacing drag it down significantly. The pacing in particular ratchets up so quickly near each arc’s end that the audience would be left confused and tired by it’s conclusion. The third arc manages it all best, where Zwei and Ein are more likable/less dumb and Drei always makes for interesting encounters.
The series has very bad problems managing its themes/messages. One of the main themes the series attempts to showcase is that a name isn’t everything and one should live to be oneself. This theme is delivered in the first arc when Zwei told Ein to ditch her old name and live anew, saying that she shouldn’t be retrained by a name. Ironically afterwards he starts calling her Eren and expects her to abide by and live by that arbitrary name he gave her. Ein even calls him out on this but the show just ignores this and thinks it has written something profound or meaningful or something. It’s ridiculous.
There’s also the ending which is just terrible. It differs from the original visual novel by purposely altering it slightly to make it a bad ending but doing so completely defeats the purpose of the protagonists’ journey and is also inconsistent with the previous parts of the anime where they could eat up bullets without needing too much medical attention. It’s just bad.
There’s a lot more I could go on about but I should just stop here. Phantom isn’t worth your 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: InuYasha: Kanketsu-hen
English: InuYasha: The Final Act
Japanese: 犬夜叉 完結編
MAL Score: 8.21
Thwarted again by Naraku, Inuyasha, Kagome Higurashi, and their friends must continue their hunt for the few remaining Shikon Jewel shards, lest they fully form into a corrupted jewel at the hands of Naraku. But Naraku has plans of his own to acquire them, and will destroy anyone and anything standing in his way—even his own underlings.
The persistent, unyielding danger posed by Naraku forces Sango and Miroku to decide what is most important to them—each other or their duty in battle. Meanwhile, Inuyasha must decide whether his heart lies with Kikyou or Kagome, before fate decides for him. Amid the race to find the shards, Inuyasha and his brother Sesshoumaru must also resolve their feud and cooperate for their final confrontation with Naraku, as it is a battle they must win in order to put a stop to his evil and cruelty once and for all.
The art as always was clean and enjoyable. But the development of the characters was spectacular! I am so glad that the ending was the way it was. What I hoped for all along.
So glad I watched it and highly recommend to others as well!
To a man who completely watched every single Inuyasha episode known to man, I want to point out that this here is one of the most miraculous things ever.
Story – The story takes wherever the last story picked of. I found this to be much better than the 167 episodes the original one took place. The psychological impact of the story stunned me to no end, making me marathon this over and over again. Truly amazing. 10/10
Characters – Out of all the characters in this series, Kagome evolved the most. Not to say that the others stayed the same, but Kagome. She played the most significant role and completely carried the show. Unfortunately, the way Inuyasha changed was completely irrelevant in any standard and should not be mentioned again, overall best character development. 10/10
Sound – You may not realize it, but the dub for this show was gorgeous. You could say that this is dubbing gone right. It made the show feel very realistic and logical in every aspect of the story. Don’t forget the OST. Truly just gorgeous. I spent $20 downloading the Inuyasha OST and not once regretting it. 10/10
Art – The art style for this was pretty astounding, feeling refined like my new born child. He was born yesterday April 4, 2014 at 12:27 AM while I was finishing up this show. 10/10
Enjoyment – Disregarding what ever my wife says about this show, it will always be 1st in my life. 10/10
Overall – This was a masterpiece of a show that i would never recommend the first season to. It was glorious in all aspects. In the honor I gave my son the middle name of InuYasha 10/10
Im out and never forgot to blaze it.
Story (10) Definitely one of the more in-depth storylines in anime. The show takes you back in time, well it literally does each time Kagome goes through her family’s well, to see peoples’ pasts to see how everyone is connected to each other. The story picks up where the first season ended, Inuyasha and company are going after Naraku to end his evil in their world. This is the main story, but things that weren’t taken care of in the first season were finally given a resting place. What I mean by this is things like “What happened to Inuyasha-Kagome-Kikyou love triangle?!?” are finally resolved and definite.
Something that I would like to point out is the pacing of this continuation series. This 26 episode ending is NOT rushed, everything is greatly paced.
Art (8) A definite improvement in animation, but not to the extent that it is extremely noticeable. The animation style is kept the same, which is great because I believe that having the same character animation is crucial in the overall enjoyment of the anime. An example for this would be the Minami-ke series where all 4 seasons are animated differently because they were made in 4 different studios. It had an obvious effect to many of the views, including myself. Animation is smooth and attractive, yet not too flashy.
Sound (10) Music in the InuYasha series have always been great! Song likes Dearest – Ayume Hamasaki, Every Heart – Boa, Fukai Mori – Do As Infinity, and Rakuen – Do As Infinity, are great examples of the awesome music. Music is incorporated into the anime well with the timing of it, and also the selection of music they use. In fact, my first spine-chilling experience while watching anime came from this show. It was due to the mix of what was happening in the anime and the song that came with it. When I think of great music in anime I think of InuYasha immediately.
Character (10) The complex relationship between Inuyasha, Kagome, and Kikyou is one of the most engaging subjects of anime that I have ever seen. The anime does a great job in taking time with character development. You do not have to worry about not understanding why things happen, because the anime explains, or has explained, why. The characters are original, that is what I love about them. I love that they all have pasts, especially Inuyasha and Kikyou. It adds so much more depth to the story. Another thing I love about the characters is the timing of their actions. They are themselves when nothing is going on, and they serious, but still themselves, when something is happening. They have dimension.
Enjoyment (9) Just an absolutely fitting ending to a great series. It was well made, and while typing that I just told myself I wish I could watch this for the first time again.
Overall (9) An extremely high 9 rating in my books. Recommend it to anyone, especially to those that are interested in action, romance, drama, and some comedy.
1: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
English: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Japanese: 鋼の錬金術師 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST
MAL Score: 9.16
After a horrific alchemy experiment goes wrong in the Elric household, brothers Edward and Alphonse are left in a catastrophic new reality. Ignoring the alchemical principle banning human transmutation, the boys attempted to bring their recently deceased mother back to life. Instead, they suffered brutal personal loss: Alphonse’s body disintegrated while Edward lost a leg and then sacrificed an arm to keep Alphonse’s soul in the physical realm by binding it to a hulking suit of armor.
The brothers are rescued by their neighbor Pinako Rockbell and her granddaughter Winry. Known as a bio-mechanical engineering prodigy, Winry creates prosthetic limbs for Edward by utilizing “automail,” a tough, versatile metal used in robots and combat armor. After years of training, the Elric brothers set off on a quest to restore their bodies by locating the Philosopher’s Stone—a powerful gem that allows an alchemist to defy the traditional laws of Equivalent Exchange.
As Edward becomes an infamous alchemist and gains the nickname “Fullmetal,” the boys’ journey embroils them in a growing conspiracy that threatens the fate of the world.
I admit that as I’ve seen the original and read the manga, the pacing of Brotherhood seems to start off being VERY fast (I finally got used to the pacing after watching the first fifteen eps or so). Events that took up half a volume of the manga and had spread though a few episodes of the original anime were now shown in just a single episode. However, after trying to look at it from the perspective of someone who’s new to FMA (not comparing it to the manga nor the original), I believe that the pacing works and it manages to tell an intriguing story effectively with little confusion. The plot is full of clever ideas and unpredictable twists that link various parts of the story together. By the final episode, all loose ends are neatly tied up and what’s left is a hugely satisfying epilogue.
The animation in FMA Brotherhood is crisp and very well done (although it does sometimes dip a bit in quality). Compared to the original FMA it’s a bit simpler but that’s just because the original set a very high standard to follow. The facial emotions of the characters are also perfectly presented. The action scenes are brilliant and VERY well animated, with a variety of alchemy techniques and other talents being displayed nearly every episode. The various battles are consistently exciting to watch, but somehow get even better towards the end of the series.
The voice acting is of an excellent and consistent quality, and I think that pretty much all the characters have voice actors which suit their personalities. The majority of the openings/endings are a pleasure to watch due to fantastic animated sequences and theme songs. The background music which play during the episodes usually fit very well with the situation, although some tracks seem to be overused a little at first. This becomes less of a problem as the series progresses, with plenty of new music being introduced to support the story as it reaches the finale.
Moving on to the characters (best thing about this series), the original FMA focussed mainly on Ed and Al and on their struggles to regain their bodies, whereas Brotherhood also explores other characters to great detail at the same time. The majority of the spotlight is still on the two brothers, but it highlights their interactions with new characters which were not present in the original anime. New characters include a group of people from Xing (a neighbouring country), another person from the Armstrong family (who I think has become one of the coolest members of the supporting cast), and a new main antagonist. For me, the Xingese characters in particular (Ling Yao and Mei Chang among others) provide a new dimension to the FMA world, by showing us a different culture to the militaristic one we’re familiar with. I think the new antagonist is an improvement on the original FMA, as this person has a much stronger and clever link to the Elric brothers’ father. Returning characters from the original FMA, such as Mustang and Scar, are much more awesome and developed due to the fact that Brotherhood is 100% faithful to the manga. Plus, Winry Rockbell now has a much more active role in the story. I can say for sure that this anime has one of the best main/supporting casts I’ve ever seen, and you’d probably find it difficult to label any of the recurring characters (whether they are good or evil) as being either boring or unnecessary in terms of the storyline.
One of the many good things about this series is that there has been absolutely no filler at all (yes, I’m thinking of Naruto, Inuyasha, etc), which prevents the story from losing momentum. All the episodes are concise and every scene is important as part of the huge plot. The dialogue fully explains everything and is straight to the point. As multiple characters are explored there are lots of side stories, but these are all perfectly intertwined with the main story of the Elric brothers and more often than not directly influence their journey too. Like most anime series, there are things from the manga which have been left out, but these are usually just restricted to comedy moments. There has been one episode which shows a lot of flashbacks of events so far, but that’s forgiven as it shows the most epic moments of the series, and also provided us with some history on the father of the Elric brothers.
FMA Brotherhood will be sorely missed now that it’s finished. It is excellent in every aspect and has very little, if anything, that can be called a flaw (maybe rushed character development at first due to the fast pacing, but this quickly subsides). Each episode feels like it’s too short, a testimony to how much it draws you in to the story and characters. There are moments which leave you smiling, laughing, sad and simply amazed. Try this anime, it’s recommended for absolutely everyone, to newcomers and to those familiar with Fullmetal Alchemist.
I’m not a huge fan of the MAL categorical rating system, as I’ve mentioned in some of my previous reviews. I oftentimes outright ignore it. However, looking at the categories right now, I feel as though this is one instance where I can use it to talk about everything I want to so I’m going to use it.
The FMA:B plot and world-building are some of its strongest aspects. The world that it creates is an immersive, full-feeling thing with many animate pieces that move even when you aren’t looking at them. It’s an extremely creative world as well, adopting its own set of universal laws including alchemy through equivalent exchange, mind-body duality and its own interpretation of a higher power, and it sticks by these laws. Never once does the story contradict its own rules, instead using them in creative ways to build off of each other. The plot is also one of the most engaging parts of the show, unveiling itself at just the right pace to keep you interested whilst still keeping a few major cards to play at the very end. The pieces fall into place in a way that is satisfying because it simultaneously mind-blowing and obvious, and that’s one of the marks of strong storytelling.
While the FMA:B story is certainly one of the best I’ve seen, I find that I have to withhold my 10 score here on the grounds that its incredible direction and creativity are marred by some detrimental weaknesses. First of all, the exposition is handled extremely poorly. The first and third episodes feel like they’re from some shitty cartoon network show, the show blatantly ignores the show-don’t-tell rule in the entirety of its first chunk (with characters spelling out exactly what is happening and why it’s happening) and its tendency to repeat important plot points over and over again quite frankly feels insulting to me as the audience as though the show is assuming I’m not able to pay attention or figure things out for myself and need to have the fact that Ed and Al committed the sin of human transmutation and lost their bodies told to me at least twenty-five times in the first two hours of show. Secondly, there’s a period of time which I would probably refer to as the third fourth of the show (episodes 40-53ish) in which the show drags incredibly, adopting a typical battle-shonen approach of having characters engage in multiple-episode long one-on-one or two-on-one battles, giving them plenty of time to pose and stand off and monologue at each other. This isn’t how fighting or war works, and these contrived battles really take away a lot of the climactic atmosphere. Finally, the show’s ending is not nearly as satisfying as I wish it had been. The final few episodes are for the most part brilliant, but once the show plays all its cards and it’s resolution time, it wraps itself up with cliches and in-your-face themes.
The art is absolutely astounding 80% of the time and absolutely horrid 20% of the time. Thus the 8 score. The action is all stunning, the openings gorgeous, the backgrounds consistent and unique, building a sense of a real lived-in world. The character designs are sometimes a little bland, but for the most part they are memorable and the homunculi look brilliant so I don’t have any real complaints there.
What I have a problem with is the obnoxious number of times that the show goes “anime” – reducing its characters to shittily-drawn caricatures and its animation to blocky, looped motion. Usually this is used during the shows attempts at humor, which I’ll talk about later, but most of the time it was just extremely cringe-inducing and distracting, ruining the sense of continuity and immersion in this world. The show obviously wants you to take it seriously (it sure loves its drama) and when Al is portrayed as a big grey mound with a squiggle for a mouth it makes this difficult. There’s a difference between having your character goof around and having the show itself goof around. It almost feels like a laugh-track, telling the audience “this is the funny part!”
For the most part, however, the art is gorgeous. When it counts, it shines, and that’s really what matters.
Undeniably the strongest aspect of the show. I have no complaints whatsoever. The soundtrack is never distracting but always effective, the voice-actors (especially for Bradley and Al) absolutely nailed it and the openings and endings… dear lord. It’s been said before, but the openings and endings to FMA:B are some of the very best ever made, both in sound and visuals. They tell small stories of their own. They set the tone for the episode and for their section of the show as a whole. I especially loved ‘Golden Time Lover’ and ‘Chemistry’, but I have to give special mention to SID’s ‘Rain’. As far as I’m concerned, that opening could have been the end of the show. It single-handedly established a sense of finality, a long-endured struggle of these characters and their causes. Everyone is portrayed as exhausted, weak and full of both despair and determination: protagonist and antagonist alike, fighting under the rain. Not for glory, not for honor, but just for the one thing they care most for. Personally, it made me extremely hyped for the final stretch of the show. It wasn’t quite what we got, but at least we got some of it.
I believe that there is an intense connection between a show’s opening and the audience’s willingness to appreciate it. It is very likely that the intensity of many fanbases is in part due to the ability that openings such as these have to maintain feelings in regards to the show, oftentimes perhaps even distorting or altering memories of the show itself into what the opening would have you believe the show was like rather than what it was actually like. Obvious examples that jump to mind are Sword Art Online’s “Courage” and Guilty Crown’s “My Dearest”. Remember how those shows were absolutely nothing like that? No?? IT’S TOO LATE FOR YOU
But I digress.
I would definitely call out the show’s characters on being the weakest link and the most undeserving of the praise that the show receives. For starters, the writing is often clunky and awkward, but that’s not the main issue. It’s because most of them are not really characters: they’re plot devices with one or two distinguishing traits tacked on. They’re entirely predictable, not because they feel like real people but because they do the same things over and over again. Al talks about what he’ll do when he gets his body back. Ed talks about how they’ll find a way and how they will atone for their mistakes and etc. It’s not that it’s melodrama: it’s the fact that it’s the SAME melodrama over and over again. It wasn’t until sometime past episode 30 that Ed stopped sounding perpetually like a broken record and started to feel as though he were actually developing, but even then he was really just defined by his arc and not by any amount of complexity.
And that’s the pitfall that so many of these characters fall into. If your character’s only real traits beyond their development for the sake of the show are “hates being called short” and “hates milk” they’re really more of a tool with some googly eyes stuck on to them. Other characters are even worse: Armstrong is manly. His sister is more manly. Mustang wants to be Fuhrer and avenge Hughes (he’s even got this great relationship with Hawkeye that could have been seriously compelling if they ever had any real conversations about anything besides “we must overthrow the government” and “Hughes!” over and over again). Winry likes Ed and automail. Ling wants to be emperor. Now, FMA:B is a complex, busy show. I could understand if it didn’t have the time to make these characters anything more than chess pieces for its grand and elaborate plot, giving them a few distinguishing traits because that’s really all it can manage without dragging itself out immensely. But it DOES have the time: it has all the time it spends having Ed yell about being called short. It has all the time it spends having Armstrong pull of his shirt and yell about being manly. It has all the time it spends having Ed and Al talk about getting their goddamn bodies back over and fucking over again as though I would somehow manage to forget it. Ling passing out from lack of food. May fawning comically over Ed. Mustang is antisocial LOL. The same gags, over and over again, barely even rehashed in any original way. Not only do they become painful to watch, they devour all of the development that this shallow cast of characters could have had to make me actually invested in them. They’re far too static, with most of them having a single change or revelation over the course of the show’s 64 episodes in order to indicate that they have grown as a person. But a good character has so much more than that: what kind of music do these people listen to? Why? Who are their role models? Why? What books do they like? What are their favorite places to eat? What do they appreciate in the people they’re close to?? What are their personal histories…
Oh wait, sorry! I didn’t mean to ask that last one! Please, I take it back! NOOOOOOO…
Yeah so I forgot to mention something. Screw all that stuff about making these characters possess complex personalities, FMA:B has a better way to define them.
Everyone who’s remotely relevant has a traumatic backstory. It’s a harsh world, sure. I get that. Here’s the issue: people are introduced and then defined through their trauma. Now this isn’t Angel Beats bad, where horrible things happen to perfectly innocent people for no reason. Most of the tragedy is partially a result of the decisions of the characters involved, and their resulting struggle is a combination of having to cope with the consequences and with themselves and their mistakes. However, this cannot be used as a SUBSTITUTE for character development. A supplement, sure, but I still remember in episode four when Ed and Al meet a state alchemist who literally introduces himself with something along the lines of “my wife left me because we were too poor” before he even tells them his goddamn NAME. Here, come on in! Take a seat! Would you like some sorrow pie or tragic backstory cake? We have plenty! Ed and Al’s dad left, then their mom died, then they f*cking ripped their bodies apart. Winry’s parents were murdered in cold blood. Mustang had to kill lots of people. Armstrong had to kill lots of people. Everyone had to kill lots of people. Scar watched everyone he loved get killed, and then had to kill lots of people. These are always the first things we find out about people, and then for the rest of the show they are defined almost exclusively by them. If anyone is overly happy and wholesome, it means something horrid is going to happen to them. It’s basic emotional manipulation. Look at this adorable little girl and her dog! Dead. Look at this smiling, picturesque family! Husband dead. Dead. Everyone innocuously happy has to die or lose someone close to them. The more broken and internally conflicted you are, the safer you are. There’s no need to pile more grief on Scar, so he’s relatively safe.
Yes, the characters suffer from repeatable and preventable problems. They exist mainly to function as morals-in-a-bottle with gags tacked on to them. They’re difficult to relate to, because all we know about them is whatever themes they embody and one or two dumb jokes. Ikuhara writes characters more personable than this, and his stories don’t make sense on PURPOSE. I did give the characters a 6 though, and there are reasons for that.
First off, despite their lack of humanization the characters complete their tasks of being walking themes with relative effectiveness. This isn’t anywhere near Log Horizon S1 bad. These characters are here for a reason, they represent something, and they represent those things well. Sure, they could have easily been better, but they fulfill their purpose and for that alone they are not failures. I will also give special mention to Scar, who, while still actively defined by his trauma was executed far more impressively than the other characters. This is probably in part because the show actually viewed him as morally ambiguous as opposed to just making the character FEEL morally ambiguous when there was really no doubt that the show wanted you to think this was a ‘good guy’ (*cough* Mustang)
Second off, there are some exceptions to the rule. Most of my complaints thusfar have been leveled at the shows protagonists. They are the ones that suffer from dismal repetition and blatant violation of show-don’t-tell. Where the show does excel is with its antagonists. There are seven homunculi in the show, incarnations of the seven deadly sins, and they so utterly clobber their “good-guy” counterparts in terms of being engaging, personable subtle characters that it isn’t even funny. Their intensive backstories are never shoved in your face, their apparent contradictions are given plenty of time to be uncovered by the viewer, and the deliciously ironic conclusions to their arcs are done tactfully. Many times I found myself actively routing for them because they were just so much more interesting and well-executed. I would happily watch an “Adventures of the Homunculus” spinoff cataloging the several hundred years most of them lived before the start of the series.
I was constantly gripped by the plot. I actively looked forward to the openings and endings. The art was oftentimes orgasmic. The homunculi made me want to start looking for ingredients to make a philosopher’s stone with. However, I was constantly frustrated by the show’s apparent lack of respect for its viewers and by its absolutely abysmal humor. I’ve already said it, but I don’t know if I’ve driven home just how infuriating it is to have exposition repeated to you over and f*cking over again and how cringe-inducing it is when somebody violates the show-don’t-tell rule at extremely tense and crucial moments. It actively snapped me out of the experience whenever Ed and Al had a conversation about getting their bodies back after the 5th time it happened, and when God literally spelled out for Ed that he had discovered the meaning of life I facepalmed hard. That’s not how you do themes, man. That just comes off as preachy. That’s something the show suffered constantly from: it felt incredibly preachy. It’s character’s speeches about the answers they had found to their struggles felt much more pointed at the audience than at anyone in the show they were talking to, and that bothered the ever-loving crap out of me. And have I mentioned the humor? For every joke the show has that lands, it tries about five others that fall on their face. As I’ve already mentioned, they’re repetitive and used as a substitute for meaningful character interactions and development. It seems as thought the show is trying to use them as a counterbalance for its immense amount of melodrama, but instead they end up just ripping apart the tone and stagnating the story. Despite these gripes, I did overall enjoy the experience and felt that the positives did inevitably outweigh the negatives so I will happily give it a 7 for enjoyment.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not a masterpiece. It’s a very respectable, unique, inspired and creative show and it’s definitely a classic. I would happily recommend this to most people. However, don’t go in with irrational expectations. It’s enjoyable, it’s engaging, it will definitely give you plenty to think about, but in my personal opinion it gets a little too much praise and a little too much hype. I probably would have enjoyed it more myself if I hadn’t heard nothing but angelic worship for it before going into it. I formally apologize to any huge fans of the show that I may have offended: it’s not by any means a bad show! I don’t give out 7s all that lightly, believe me. This is merely an argument against FMA:B being the be-all-end-all of anime. Thanks for reading if you made it through that wall of text, and have a nice day!
One of the issues at hand seems to be ownership as producers, writers and directors all seem to want the work to be reflective of their style and perception, and in order to stamp their mark on a show they will makes numerous unnecessary changes or additions. Admittedly there are times when the adaptation supersedes the original work, but more often than not the result is at best a decent anime, and at worst utter twaddle.
And then there’s the other side of the coin, where the anime adaptation sticks to the storyline set out in the original work. Normally one would expect these to be superior works, but in a strange irony this is not always the case. The problem with these types of adaptations is that the original work may not have been very good, or even have a suitable narrative, to begin with, and turning them into anime only seems to exacerbate their inherent flaws.
Fortunately, the Full Metal Alchemist franchise manages to steer clear almost all of these pitfalls. The problem is, there are no other anime that have so evenly split the viewing public’s opinion between the two versions of the series. Unlike the 2003 adaptation, Brotherhood is a faithful representation of Arakawa Hiromu’s hit manga, and while many fans of the franchise laud it as the best thing since sliced bread, there are a number who consider the original anime version to be the superior tale.
But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Many people will already be familiar with the particulars of the story, and in a very real sense the common perception is well formed. Unfortunately, one of the problems with liking something too much is that one becomes blinded to its flaws, and while Brotherhood has very few noticeable ones where the narrative is concerned, this also serves to make them stand out.
The story is told in a very straight forward, no nonsense manner that is kind of refreshing given the penchant for filler episodes. The issue though, is that the content of the tale is much lighter in tone, much more typically “shounen” in its essence, than that of the first adaptation. One of the reasons for this is because the undercurrent of obsession amongst the main characters peters out towards the end of the story – a stark contrast to the ending in the first adaptation. Instead, these obsessive behaviours are effectively “de-humanised” by pushing them on to the non human characters.
There is a very clear sense that the plot is geared towards a more typical shounen standpoint and mentality, and while the whole still works very well as a story, one does have to wonder if the writers for the first adaptation didn’t steal a march on Arakawa. It’s possible that she had to change her idea of how the tale should develop because the first anime version took a much darker path than most other shounen franchises.
That said, the ending allows for a degree of catharsis that was missing from the first adaptation, and although there are some broad similarities between the two versions at times, in truth they are as different as chalk and cheese. As an added bonus this series is far less dependent on random comedic moments, and the difference this makes to the flow of the plot is palpable when the two versions are directly compared.
One big advantage that Brotherhood has is that the seven year gap has allowed for improvements in various aspects of production, and it shows in a number of areas. The animation is more fluid than before, although admittedly the difference isn’t really obvious at first and only really appears during large scale action set pieces. The character designs will be very familiar to any fan, but are subtly sharper and more defined than in the previous series.
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest plus points for Brotherhood is actually its wealth of interesting characters.
As one would expect, a number of the characters from the first adaptation appear in Brotherhood, but there are also several who are notable for their absence as they do no appear in the manga. Instead, a horde of new characters appear throughout the course of the series, many of whom have their own goals, ideals and personalities. Indeed the biggest difference between the two versions is the sheer number of people who all seem to have some impact on the story.
For much of the series Edward and Alphonse Elric behave in a manner that many who have watched the first adaptation will find familiar, and one of the nice things about this is that familiarity is used to very subtly develop the pair into very different characters. The change in their personas happens very gradually, but by the end of Brotherhood one can see just how much growth the pair has undergone.
Strangely enough, the most interesting additions to the series are actually Yao Ling and Olivier Mira Armstrong (Alex Louis Armstrong’s older sister – but without all the muscle flexing), two of the supporting roles. Yao Ling presents a strange dichotomy for the series to tackle, and while he doesn’t develop as much as he possibly could have, this is offset by the moral and ethical dilemmas inherent in his situation towards the end of the series. On the other Olivier Armstrong possesses some of the strongest characterisation in the whole story, and while she is without doubt a major player at certain points of the show, what makes her interesting is the fact that the viewer is never quite sure of her goals.
There are a number of very strong characterisations in the series, but one of the things that is a little strange is the difference between the two versions where the homunculi are concerned. Unlike the first adaptation the homunculi in Brotherhood have very different origins, even though they still deal with similar obsessions. This raises an interesting perspective on the series as a whole, and is one of the reasons why Brotherhood is far more of a shounen tale than the original adaptation. The plot takes on a subtly lighter tone, even though it may not seem that way, once their origins are understood, and the main reason for this is the “de-humanisation” I mentioned earlier. The viewer is aware that these characters, though human-like in form, are not linked to humans in any way, and this awareness acts as a buffer so the viewer is less likely to question the actions and behaviour of the homunculi. In essence one is subjected to the ethos that monsters are evil and do bad things, which raises some interesting issues where Kimblee, Greed and the military’s generals are concerned.
The quality of the acting is possibly the main reason why Brotherhood is able to pull off its feat of developing not only the familiar characters, but also the new additions. Paku Romi and Kugimiya Rie reprise their roles as Edward and Alphonse Elric, but with the exception of a few roles, the remaining cast are very different from the first outing. Now normally one might consider this a recipe for disaster, but it’s a testament to the quality of not only the actor’s abilities, but also the scriptwriters, that this series easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the original.
The music is very well composed and produced, and the series has a surprisingly large number of opening and ending themes, especially for 64 episode series. That said, fans of Brotherhood may find themselves in a bit of a quandary, especially if they prefer the OPs and EDs from the first series. As for the sound effects, they are handled in a decidedly competent manner that makes one wonder why other shounen anime seem to have trouble in this department. Granted there are occasions when there’s a bit of a cacophony, but in general the effects are clear, bold, and well choreographed.
Now unlike most viewers, I actually consider Brotherhood to be equal to the first series, and I don’t really fall on one side or another. Like a number of fans my preference is for the much darker tone of the first series, however the cathartic ending of Brotherhood, as well as the improvements in production and animation, go some way to balancing the scales. Some people prefer the somewhat darker nature to Ed’s character from the first adaptation, but in all honesty the rationale behind the two versions is very different, and while they’re broadly the same character, that perception is only really valid until the last few episodes of either show. The same principle applies to Alphonse, Roy Mustang, in fact to most of the characters.
That said, Brotherhood is just as entertaining and involving as its predecessor, and it’s a testament to Arakawa’s skill as a mangaka that she has been able to produce a tale that, at the very least, rivals the original anime adaptation.Yes, Brotherhood is more typically shounen than the other version, but the nice thing about this is that fans are given two very good versions of the same story, and that is something rare in anime.
Now if only all remakes, revisions or reboots could be this good.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
2. InuYasha: Kanketsu-hen
3. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season
4. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
5. Soul Eater
6. Michiko to Hatchin
7. Higashi no Eden
8. Tetsuwan Birdy Decode:02
9. Hayate no Gotoku!!
10. Dragon Ball Kai