They’re the best Anime that 1999 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Jibaku-kun, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, Gokudou-kun Manyuuki, and more!
English: Bucky: The Incredible Kid
MAL Score: 7.37
Bucky, the protagonist of the history, is a normal boy that lives in the first world. He lives with a single and humble ambition: to dominate the world (in the sense of the whole planet). He is very certain and he would certainly die to reach his dream.
One day he meets with Spark, the Great Child of Primas (World One). Spark is known as the strongest Great Child of all of the worlds, and he is a successor’s search. After finding Bucky and talk a little with him, Spark without apparent reason choose Bucky his successor. Bucky has just become a Great Child and to win the company of Jibaki, the spirit of the first world.
Some introductory elements:
1 – Bucky anime is set in a strange world in a form of a clock, divided in 12 worlds. Each world represents a number in the clock, following the clockwise direction. In the middle of the 12 worlds there is the “Needle Tower”, very similar to a clock hand.
2 – Each world is inhabited by humans, humanoid animals and monsters. Some of these monsters have an evil and destructive nature. These evil monsters are called “Troublemaker Monsters”.
3 – The Needle Tower chooses one virtuous child (the “Great Child”) in each world to protect the people from the Troublemaker Monsters.
4 – Each Great Child is helped by a humanoid pink ball called “Spirit” that explodes when it raises its hands.
Every child in Bucky’s world wants to be a Great Child. Everyone, except Bucky – a child from the 1st World. The protagonist thinks that to be a Great Child is a ‘childish thing’. Bucky wants to be much more. He wants to rule all over the 12 worlds. However, he is always mocked when he talks about his dream.
Once Bucky is attacked by a Troublemaker Monster, and he tries to defeat the monster by his own. His fearless attitude is watched by Spaak (En), 1st World’s GC and the strongest of them. Spaak saves the boy and listens to his dream. Spaak gets impressed by Bucky’s dream and conviction, and so Bucky gets pleased by Spaak’s comprehension.
Then, with not much apparent reasons, Spaak gives to Bucky his spirit (Jibaku-kun) and his title as the 1st World’s Great Child. Spaak goes to the Needle Tower and encourages Bucky to enter in a journey around the entire world to get stronger and, finally, meet him in the tower.
Bucky’s journey to world domination begin, travelling around the world in the clockwise direction, and making allies and friends: Pink (the comic relief) and Kai (the smart guy).
The personalities of the main cast are well balanced, but Bucky’s traits stands out. His self-confident and usually arrogant personality is the real appeal of the series. Bucky never smiles and points his friends as his slaves in his world domination plans. On the other hand, Bucky has strong moral convictions about justice and honour and also becomes more flexible through the series.
From episodes 1 to 13 we don’t have much important things happening. These episodes are much more introductory than anything, presenting the viewer to the main cast and to the original and bizarre universe.
Starting from episode 14, the true story begins, covering the origins of the Troublemaker Monsters and gradually revealing the truth about the organization of the Needle Tower. But, unfortunately, the anime ends when it starts to be really good (around episodes 20-26), when most of the mysteries are solved.
For some, me included, Bucky’s strange plot and over the top colorful world may hide something deeper. First of all, the uniqueness of the plot is present in several elements and metaphors, especially in the world in a form of a clock (a symbol to the passage of time) and in the reverse role of children protecting adults.
By the way, ‘Bucky: The Incredible Kid’ is seen by some as a modern fairy tale about growing up and how it affects the childhood dreams.
There are also a lot of questions that are presented and solved one by one, until an original ending shows off: What is the Needle Tower? Why the Great Children respect the Needle Tower’s orders blindly? How the Troublemaker Monsters are born? Who is the girl in the aquarium that appears in some random scenes?
Every episode is a gradual revelation, so be patient and enjoy the show.
Ths anime don’t have too much popularity in Japan but in America Latina it was great admired.
The style of the old school stroke on the character design is very good.
The story is funny u can know more about on another reviews because on my review i just want to complement the others talking about the songs , i recommend u to listen the first opening and ending themes they are really awesome. ;D
Opening: Yumi Matsuzawa – Dare mo Shiranai Chizu de
(Yumi’ s also the singer of the Saint Seiya Hades’s ending theme, Chikyuugi)
Ending: Two-Mix – Last Tears
9: Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
MAL Score: 7.45
A normal looking high school girl on the outside, Kusakabe Maron is actually the reincarnation of Jeanne d’ Arc. With the help of the angel, Fin Fish, Maron works as the thief Jeanne at night to seal the demons that reside in pieces of artwork, preying upon the weak hearts of the owners. She is branded as a thief due to the fact that the artworks disappear after she seals the demons. One day, a new neighbor and classmate appears, as well as a rival in her night job, the thief Sinbad. With her own best friend being the detective’s daughter, out to capture her and the appearance of her new rival, Maron’s work is anything but easy.
KKJ doesn’t exactly provide anything ground breaking story-wise. It’s standard mahou shoujo material. Like many other thieves you may find in other anime, Jeanne oddly enough tells the police beforehand she actually plans to steal something, and magically completes her missions successfully, foiling the police each time. While there is an obvious plotline, majority of the anime is fairly episodic. It follows a monster of the week pattern, so each week (or should I say each episode) Jeanne seals another artwork, normally helping non-returning characters that have problems most likely due to the demons. The second half has the plot picking up, with new (and returning) antagonists as well as development of the romance between the two main characters. It’s fairly standard, but interesting enough if you don’t mind standard to begin with.
Unfortunately, the infamous reused transformation scene is used in KKJ, and is quite frankly an annoyance to watch after the first time. Animation is also reused a lot when it comes to the demon sealing. The animation is bright and colorful, and this being based off a manga by Tanemura Arina of course means awesome character designs, at least for the thieves’ costumes. An irritating number of still screens are also often used in KKJ, detracting enjoyment at times, simply because nobody likes to stare at a still screen when something else could be done. Anyhow, if you’re looking for amazing animation, look no further, because it certainly isn’t here.
Nothing too special can be found from sound either. The opening and endings are fairly catchy, although perhaps a more slow song would have been more fitting for the first ending. Background music is quite forgettable, but at least there’s nothing that ruins the scenes, proving that the BGM does its job. Voice acting is fairly satisfying, with Maron’s VA doing an excellent job showing her strength, will and loneliness. Fin Fish’s VA, while befitting her role, is fairly annoying to listen to however, probably due to the extremely high pitch.
KKJ’s characters would have to be its strongest point. Most of the characters develop throughout the series, especially the leads. Maron is a seemingly happy person, but behind it all is one who suffers from extreme loneliness. Chiaki is a somewhat trouble male who has a reluctance in engaging in any serious romantic relationship with another girl. The developing romantic relationship between her and Chiaki is pretty much the highlight of the show for the romance lovers, but it’s quite predictable from the start how it would all turn out. There’s more to Miyako then what appears at first, with this and the history behind some of the antagonists, make up for a fairly interesting cast of characters.
Did I like it?
If you’re wondering whether I actually enjoyed Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, I didn’t really. I’m a fan of the manga and thought the drama especially portrayed in it was brilliant. I was disappointed when I saw the anime had taken the mahou shoujo approach, with long and tedious transformation scenes, and pointless clashes between Jeanne and the police. I also hate monster of the week setups, as they prove to be far too boring and repetitive.
Overall, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is your everyday mahou shoujo. Complete with transformation scenes, flashy (and unrealistic) action, and a bit of romance here and there. Take that with some of the drama and twists presented in the show, an interesting cast of characters, and we have an anime the mahou shoujo lovers could waste their lives on for a while.
1)must see; 2) must see; 3)must enjoy ^_^
Then I was a teenager I used to watch this and imagined that I am that brave, strong, lissome girl. I knew all phrases when she is transforming and that was my inducement to be better and alarm-clock which woke me up every morning with smile, bravery and impulse to continue what I have started.
Story is about friendship which could be very mystical and disloyal, about love which can be beautiful but in the same made-up, bet from the start till beginning it always is truthful to yourself which teaches us to love ourselves too. Great!
story : 8/10
i said i love this anime, but this anime is really stressed on what is absolute evil and what is absolute kindness, im kinda against that so i personally think this is an anime for younger kids and would like u to know that the plot is great its just my personal issues. There are good points and bad points to both the anime and manga, i recommend watching both. The manga have a better ending, though the anime already have a happy ending(i meant it you are not new to anime you pretty much know all this kinds of anime leads to happy ending) but the manga ending is like even more happy or something?
If you watch both, you will get a very detailed backstory for each main character.
art : 10/10
the art is PERFECT. it is so shoujo-ish, its exactly for girls. Now i would say that the manga actually have better art than the anime but… the anime’ transformation is awesome. so this anime is tittled ‘kamikaze kaitou jeanne”,
and you can kinda guess that it have somethings to do with theives. The main characters actually go through a transformation, which involve flashy lights and lots of turning and stuff. But in the manga its kinda dull, there’s not really the process for transformation, like poof the girl has changed.
sound : 9/10
The sound i great, but its like average… there’s no really good points and there’s no bad points either…
Character : 9/10
the characters are awesome, there’s a lot of backstory given for the girl, and a little for the guy. they have strong personality and there’s so much of character development. But you know you can never have too much. Now in the manga, there’s is more backstory given to fin fish. So it’s best to read both manga and anime.
Overall : 8/10
i know it will be 9/10 if i don have a preference over what kinds i like, so it’s just something personal.
8: Gokudou-kun Manyuuki
MAL Score: 7.46
It all starts when Gokudou steals a pouch from a fortuneteller, thinking that it contains a gem. Instead, it turns out to be a rock, from which emerges Djinn. The genie grants Gokudou the standard three wishes, but our anti-hero doesn’t think heavily about his wishes. Gokudou does get his wishes, though not exactly in the fashion that he expected. The best thing he gets out of his wishes is Honou no Maken, a magical sword that enables its owner to do fire attacks and it can be summoned from anywhere in the world.
Even with an enchanted sword, Gokudou doesn’t get much respect. He gets turned into a woman by Djinn, who is also a shapeshifter. He is followed by Rubette La Late, a potential love interest who is more interested in adventure, karaoke and outperforming Gokudou. He gets whapped on the head a lot, especially by the fortuneteller who reappears throughout the series just to plague Gokudou it seems. Later in the series, he gets another sidekick, a former evil magician named Prince, who is more handsome and a better womanizer than Gokudou.
The title character of this tale is the most unlikely kind of hero anyone would ever want to meet–he’s selfish, greedy, obnoxious, and has only two goals on his mind: money and hot babes! Gokudo is unabashedly an anti-hero, all right, and so one gets the impression that we’re not supposed to identify with him. And yet, in spite of his disreputable qualities, there is actually something about Gokudo who is very likeable–perhaps because his personality is so over-the-top that one cannot help but laugh at him. The most comparable character to Gokudo is Lina Inverse, but unlike our favorite flat-chested sorceress, Gokudo has almost no redeeming qualities whatsoever–and yet he is all the more amusing for it. (He also tends to break wind in more than one location–particularly dealing with major baddies.)
His motley crew is an equally interesting bunch–there’s Rubette, a tomboyish princess who shares Gokudo’s temper and feistiness (somehow I know that these two are destined for each other), Niari, a lovesick womanizer of a prince who falls for every woman around, a gender-changing genie, a pregnant male panda(!), a pair of Chinese witches… and especially an annoying little midget from Hell, Ikkyu. With the exception of the genie, they are all some of the most self-serving, argumentative group of heroes you’ll ever see–and yet the continuous laughs they provide throughout are precious.
The misadventures that Gokudo and his "friends" continually get into literally bounce off the walls with non-stop silliness and unpredictable plot twists. The story is divided into five "parts": In the first, Gokudo is sent to rescue a damsel from a castle with the promises of a rich reward and the life of a king as the prize. Then he decides to get involved in a desert trek that builds to a showdown with a mechanical giant. After that, we visit the kingdom of the Buddhas and Gods, where they manage to pick up a pint-sized brat of a goddess as an unexpected ally. The fourth arc, which is arguably the LOOOOOOOONGEST of the show, involves Gokudo and his friends switching bodies and exploring the underworld. In addition to being slowgoing, this arc makes the grievous mistake of recycling a sequence that may have been entertaining in one moment (the pop-idol quartet musical number) but now tedious in the next. The last arc involves a trip to some kind of native paradise where they face off with a pair of powerful gods and, of course, the final confrontation with the most unlikely antagonist imaginable–a manipulative old hag. Although the unexpected twists of the plot hamper the entertainment value at times (and the animation and music being little more than cheesy, low-grade quality), Gokudo is nonetheless a showstoppingly funny fantasy farce which should be a hit with comedy-fantasy-adventuregoers.
While people are bound to be, well, opinionated about dubbing in general (an argument not uncommon with Anime series and movies), I have to say that this particular English language track produced by New York-based Headline Sound is loads of fun. Daniel Kevin Harrison simply *is* Gokudo, the loud-mouthed, crude, impulsively selfish anti-hero of the piece. He sinks his teeth into the role with demonic, zany glee, and one of the primary reasons why the dub works is because of his performance.
He shares terrific chemistry with Angora Deb, another one of my favorite NY actresses, who plays Rubette. I have heard Deb in various other roles for dubs, my favorite of which is Leaf from Lodoss TV, but this is the first time I got a chance to experience her playing a lead, and she does so with glorious hamminess. One of her best moments is the episode where Rubette sings "red, red, red"; I was in complete stitches. Ed Paul also does a great job with Prince Niari; he sounded very suave and sexy while very courageous and daring at the same time.
The rest of the cast includes Greg "Ghim" Wolfe (credited here as Chunky Mon) as the Male genie, Jessica "Excel" Cavello as her female counterpart, Georgette Reilly as Ikkyu, J. David Brimmer as two basso-voiced heavies, Pete "Wagnard, Hiroyuki Miyazawa" Zarustica as the Panda, and various incidental roles performed by Rachel "Martina" Lillis, Billy "Parn" Regan, Lisa "Deedlit, Lina, Azalyn, etc." Ortiz, Megan Hollingshead, Meg "Pirotess" Frances, Liam "Hideaki Asaba" O’Brien, and others from the New Yawk dubbing crew. Add to this an equally entertaining adaptation provided by director Bill Timoney and, for a few episodes anyway, Rachel Lillis (which occasionally "Americanizes" Japanese jokes and strays from the original subtitle script, but not by much), and you have one heck of a dub to check out.
While Gokudo may probably wallow in the shadow of other shows of its kind (namely, of course, Slayers), those who give it a try will find it to be deliciously silly, zany, laugh-out loud fun.
This anime became my instant favorite. It’s really funny, and isn’t afraid of taking itself not seriously and being just full on goofy, instead of trying to mix a bunch of genres to be original or whatever.
The story is really fun. it feels like you’re playing DND with your friends, really fun to follow and find out what happens next. It actually makes you wanna see the next episode. Its very bingeable.
The characters are really dynamic and well written. All of them are different and have different personalities, and not once are they out of character. the development of the characters are very well written as well.
The art is somewhat outdated, but I kinda liked it that way.
I immensely enjoyed this Anime, it was a great escape from my life into a different world, a more fun world.
Overall this anime deserves a 10/10. You should really watch this anime if you haven’t.
7: Master Keaton
MAL Score: 7.60
Taichi Keaton is a half-British half-Japanese archeologist and SAS veteran of the Falklands War. He solves mysteries and investigates insurance fraud for Lloyd’s around the world.
Ex-SAS, Archeologist, part time lecturer, traveler, historian, Insurance agent; Taichi Hiragi Keaton is a Jack of all trades and a “master of life”. He is simple, intelligent, humble, and a moralistic goody-two shoes infused with the love of life and the possibilities it brings.
The show itself is an exact mirror reflection of its main character; a “Jack-of-all-trades” in that it touches a wide variety of genres and themes, from slice-of-life, romance, mystery to historical, war drama, thriller. It dips into almost everything an anime of its premise possibly can. And the result is a flawed masterpiece packed with enough surprises to make it an easy recommend for old-school anime fans.
For people who are on a lookout for episodic shows that are relaxing and can be watched slowly over time, Master Keaton could be a good choice. But the show can appear to be a bit too bland or simplistic for some, especially anime fans who prefer currently airing or recent anime; the reason for that is that Master Keaton is an old school “realistic” seinen, a genre that is largely ignored by a majority of anime viewers, and its animation is barely decent, even for an anime of its time. The show also lacks the bombast or extravagance of recent anime, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on what kind of a viewer you are.
On a related point, some of the sensibilities the show displays are quite simple at times, such as the mostly black-and-white morality, or the importance of bonds or friendship (a favorite theme in anime), or the single dimensional personalities of some supporting characters, but these characteristics are more preference based rather than something that could be singled out as a flaw; indeed, these “sensibilities” are a part of the show’s personality and make thematic sense, despite the fact that they result in simplistic cliche’s at times.
On the flip side the anime is quite intelligent, in a sense that it is set in a real world setting, though stylized to suit the anime medium, and grapples with story concepts that haven’t been seen in any anime. Despite some episodes being predictable, and a few bearing clichés, most of the stories are very engaging. In fact, there are at least a handful of stories that I can safely say are among the most unique and well written in any medium of entertainment, and the show is well worth the watch for these few episodes alone.
Its greatest strength, though, is its simple yet charming personality, and the staggering variety of stories that it tells. The writers have made excellent use of the standalone format to give some of the best variety in episodic anime/manga yet.
For instance, in one episode we see Keaton in Burgandy as an insurance agent to investigate one of the most expensive wine bottles in the world, and in the next he is escorting a fugitive through swamps while his criminal buddies attempt to rescue their leader from his clutches. Another episode sees him deep in the mountains of Spain being hunted by a highly trained K9. And in yet another episode we see him spending summer vacations in Japan with his dysfunctional family.
Any other show with such a variety would either fall from the burden of its own elephantine ambition, or succumb to acute schizophrenia. But not so Master Keaton. Its stories are never convoluted or over-ambitious, and it never forgets its identity. Diversity may be the key here, but the aesthetic values remain the same.
In the sound department, the use of music is not always perfect but it’s quite fitting. The overall OST is among the more memorable ones I have heard yet and suits the series perfectly. The dub version does a good job of making the anime feel “global”, as different characters have accents that correspond to their backgrounds, which obviously could not have been done in Japanese. But the English VA direction falters at times, and the overall delivery is not always convincing. The Japanese voice acting, by contrast, is pretty solid.
Lacking in budget, the animation is not as great as some anime from the same period, but it is very much passable. The basic art style is very similar to Monster, which is not the only solid proof of Naoki Urasawa’s involvement in the project. The anime has a strong European feel to it, as the stories take place all over the world, especially that particular part. The art style, music and writing suits this well, and helps create the right European feel, without sacrificing the anime-specific elements.
Despite the flaws, “Master Keaton” delivers something unique that you will not find anywhere in the medium. Its niche oriented content might drive away some people, but its worth checking out for fans of 90s anime and episodic shows, and anime fans who are looking for stories that are more grounded in the world we actually live in.
Master Keaton’s greatest asset is its variety. One episode it is a mystery, the next it is an action show, and the one after that it is a slice of life. The show really does end up getting it fingers in to almost every genre there is. To go along with the different genre, the show is in a different place every episode. In the rice patties of Japan and then in the hills of Scotland. Walking into the beginning of every episode and not knowing exactly what to expect is probably my favorite part.
Unfortunately as much as variety is the show’s greatest strength it is also its greatest weakness. Any RPG player can tell you a jack of all trades is a master of none. The show ends up falling into that same problem. I wouldn’t say that the show does anything down right poorly but it definitely doesn’t do anything extremely well.
Mr. Keaton himself is kind of a James Bond meets MacGyver except he is really dorky. He plays the buffoon and no one ever really expects him to be good at anything until he makes his move and it is too late. Keaton has basically had every job in existence. I really like how the show handled Keaton’s past. The show gives you little bits of information here and there; in almost every episode there is something new introduced about Keaton. It could be something important and explored the whole episode, or it could just end up being a few lines where one more job is added to his already long resume. Most of the other characters are only one episode characters. There are a few recurring characters, like Yuriko his daughter and Daniel O’Connell a friend of his. But even these characters only get a few episodes. I think all the characters are likable and well done for the time given to them but not a whole lot is done with any of them.
The animation is kind of interesting in that it looks older then what it is. The show came out in 1998 but I would have guess the early 90’s to maybe even little earlier. I don’t mean to saying the animation is poor, it just seems that art style is from a earlier era. Characters in the background tend not to be draw as well. It also has a more realistic looking than most anime but at the same time it is just cartoony enough to not look overly realistic either.
The quality varies a little episode to episode and it false to do anything particularly well. On the other hand it has great variety and I really enjoyed the lead character. Master Keaton didn’t exactly WOW me but I could see someone else falling it love with it. I would probably recommend some other shows before this one to someone but I think it could end up being worth wild to check it out and see for yourself.
This varies from episode to episode to be honest, some are solid 10s, others are lower, but there’s no real bad ones to be fair, just ones that are more interesting than others. Plot episodes vary greatly, one episode Keaton might be disarming a bomb with chocolate, surviving in the desert, or making a windmill to bring water to local plants so he can finally have his perfect pudding. Therefore how much you’ll like the series depends almost entirely on….
Taichi Keaton is a great character, plain and simple. The only other non-episodic characters include his daughter, his business partner, and his father, none of whom get a lot of development, but that’s ok because Keaton himself is more than interesting enough. If you like watching smart characters, you will probably like this show.
Eh, it’s just not overly memorable. Naoki Urasawa’s signature character designs are well executed, but music, not bad nor good nor memorable and animation and art? So-so. It doesn’t bring the series down by much though unless you really really care about that stuff.
This is the type of show you watch for Keaton alone, if he sounds like a character who interests you, go for it without hesitation! The dub has a lot of iffy sounding accents that I don’t think quite work, not the best of dubs either, but certainly and underdog that needs more watching. Everything I’ve said applies to the OVA equally as well.
6: Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
English: Now and Then, Here and There
MAL Score: 7.64
Shuuzou “Shuu” Matsutani lives his ordinary life in peace. He has friends, a crush, and a passion for kendo. Dejected after losing to his kendo rival, Shuu climbs a smokestack to watch the sunset where he finds Lala-Ru, a quiet, blue-haired girl wearing a strange pendant. Shuu attempts to befriend her, despite her uninterested, bland responses.
However, his hopes are crushed when a woman, accompanied by two serpentine machines, appear out of thin air with one goal in mind: capture Lala-Ru. Shuu, bull-headed as he is, tries to save his new friend from her kidnappers and is transported to a desert world, unlike anything he has ever seen before. Yet, despite the circumstances, Shuu only thinks of saving Lala-Ru, until he is thoroughly beaten up by some soldiers. As he soon finds out, Lala-Ru can manipulate water and her pendant is the source from which she is able to bring forth the liquid, a scarce commodity in his new environment. But now, the pendant is lost, and Shuu is the prime suspect.
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku is the haunting story of a dystopian world, and of Shuu, who has to endure torture, hunger, and the horrors of war in order to save the lonely girl he found sitting atop a smokestack.
The hero of this story, Shu, is actually not so much a hero as he is just another victim of an ugly world gone wrong, and one who himself is nearly broken a number of times. What makes him stand out is his stubborn refusal to succumb to the hopelessness and terror of it all, even while everyone around him has been beaten down to the point where they commit terrible acts out of overwhelming fear and a desire to survive—in some cases a distant yet precious hope that if they can make it through, they’ll one day be set free from this hell that holds them captive.
The setting is an alternate world that Shu finds himself pulled into, a bleak dystopian wasteland of endless, bone-dry desert; the atmosphere is stifling and oppressive, a nihilistic Future Boy Conan where skies are not blue, but blood-red, and there isn’t a drop of water to be found. Enter Lala-Ru, a girl who, like Lana of the aforementioned classic, holds a power that can save the world from its ruin—a power that has fallen into the wrong hands. This is very much like a story Hayao Miyazaki might come up with were he feeling suicidally depressed. Lala-Ru, unlike Lana, would sooner let the squabbling humans wither up and die than exert herself to aid them.
It’s easy to understand how Shu must feel, having stumbled into this world gone mad, but while I become more and more depressed and anxious as characters descend further and further into misery and anguish with each episode, Shu never loses his resolve. Even after being beaten and starved and nearly killed a number of times, he retains his determination to protect those in need of help, and to try to reassure them that as grim as things seem, everything will be okay.
It’s tough to believe him, in the face of so much kidnapping, murder, and rape, all at the behest of Lord Hamdo, the completely insane fruitcake dictator of Hellywood and desperate captor of Lala-Ru. Other characters will accuse Shu of lying, and you’ll wonder if there really is any escape from the utterly dismal state of this nightmarish world. But you’ll also find that there are fragments of hope, and in some sense one may ultimately find illumination in all this darkness and despair.
Now and Then, Here and There has a look and feel that suggests it was a project made on a tight budget, yet with a lot of feeling behind it—especially evident in the wistful ending theme. You won’t find yourself impressed with flashy modern animation, but the overall production is sufficient to convey the bleak atmosphere effectively.
The makers of this anime clearly wanted to say something, and they’ve gone about doing so in the most dire, soul-draining way they could muster. It’s up to you if you can weather the journey, but I guarantee you’ll come out on the other end a bit wiser for it.
So this anime starts out like so many others do. A typicial shounen-anime like boy lead nicknamed Shu, who is living is daily life normally in Japan circa 1999, who’s a little slow but good hearted finds a mysterious girl on top of some smoke stacks at the edge of town. He tries to talk to her, and ask her how she got to the top of the other smoke stack, when all of a sudden these futuristic machines get teleported there, and the people controling them want to capture this girl (named Lala-Ru). Bust just like in any typicial shounen-anime our hero tries to save her, a bit a little stupidely, but he tries. He ends up being teleported to the strange world (possibly the future of earth) along with these strange military people, and Lala-Ru. The place he gets transported to is called “Hellywood” , and he gets separated from Lala-Ru, and accidentally get’s her pendant. But this is were the similarities with all other anime series pretty much stops. After this point this anime evolves into something much, much more. It’s a dark seinen series, about how war effects people, and can destory the lives of everyone. It’s also grounded in reality, even though most of the events take place in this “distant world”, it’s very realistic and feels as though most of this could happen right now (and to be fair, it was inspired by horrble events that happened in Africa over ten years ago). This anime is brutally honest, it doesn’t sugar coat anything, nor does it glorify war or violence. It’s a slap to the face to the DBZ’s and Naruto’s as well as many American war movies and novels of our current era. It also has a very powerful and blunt statement. But it’s much, much more then that too. The story is emotional, engaging, and one of the best overall stories I’ve ever seen. The only “problem” I can find with the story is it isn’t very “deep”, it’s a pretty straightforward, simple story, not very layered, but it wasn’t going for deep in that sense anyway. It does have a message, and a point to it all, and it’s a very good story. I can’t mark it down for that small problem so 10/10.
It’s a little dated, but it’s still very beautiful. For whatever reason the powers that be decided to give this anime a more “simple” look to it. When compared to other anime from around or before it’s time (Revolutionary Girl Utena, To Heart, Cowboy Bebop) it’s not as detailed. This does not make it ugly, far from it. Still it’s not the best animation and art ever, even given it’s time. Cowboy Bebop truly shows what could be done with technology of the time, and a extremely large budget. This anime has no use of CGI or other computer techniques that newer anime series use. It’s not as flashy as Cowboy Bebop (1998), and no where near as nice looking as say Black Lagoon (2006), a newer anime for example. The character designs are simple but effective, and the background art is very beautiful. The sunset in episode one is something to really enjoy, feel free to pause and just look at how nice it is. It’s clear this anime was not made with a very large budget, but it still is very nice looking at times, esecially backgrounds. Don’t let the dated animation turn you off this show, because it is an amazing series. This anime proves you don’t need flashy animation, and gimmicks to make a great anime, all that’s needed is a good story, and some talented people involved.
The music in this series is quite amazing. From it’s very nice opening theme to it’s background music everything is great! The ending theme is one of my favorites from any anime, because not only is it a great song, but it helps to calm the audience down after seeing some brutal and disturbing stuff. This anime has some of the best use of music I’ve ever seen.
The dub for this anime was recorded at Taj Studios Inc (NYC), for Central Park Media. The group of actors from New York City have proven themselves to be a talented bunch, but sadly many of the producations are still very poor. I think they get a bad rap due to the many poor 4Kid’s dubs these guys have been in though. They are great actors, and they have have good directors and writers that work for the dubbing studios in NYC too. Luckily this is one of the best dubs I’ve ever heard, and definitely my favorite dub from a studio in/near New York City. The first episode starts off a little iffy, strong but with some awkard lines here and there (no pun intended) but afterwards it’s really a top level dub. This anime needed a good dub, and CPM reconized that and allowed extra time for the dubbing to take place. Actors got to watch the entire show once or twice through before even starting on this anime. Special attention was given to this dub, and it clearly shows. With well known actors/actresses like Lisa Ortiz, Dan Green, Crispin Freeman, and Rachael Lillis giving great performances (that we’ve come to expect from them), but the one who steals this anime is Jack Taylor. He plays the horrible and insane ruler of Hellywood, King Hamdo, and he nails it! Jack Taylor is incredibly frightening and convincing! You would NOT want to deal with King Hamdo! If Jack Taylor’s performance was not as strong as it is, the entire show might have buckled under the weight of that. The man should get an award for what he did in this show. He makes you hate Hamdo, with an undieing passion! Another relatively unknown, Dana Halsted, plays his assistant Lady Abelia, and she quickly gets used to her role. She gives out another great performance. Everyone in this anime knows their roles, and can really act. Only problem with the dub is the confusion on how to say the name “Nabuka”. That and some may say a few of the children sound a little too old. I however did not think so at all. Both are forgivable seeing how amazing this dub is. The dub script stays pretty close to the subtitle track, as many CPM titles tend to do. This is one to show to the sub-only fans!
(I checked out the sub and it seemed fine to me)
This is not an anime you will “enjoy” as a form of entertainment. This is not an action show, this is not a comedy, this is some serious stuff! This is an anime that will be hard to re-watch because it is very depressing, very dark, and very distrubing. But this is an anime you will be very happy you watched. This is an anime that truly uses the medium to it’s full advantage, much in the same way Grave of the Fireflies did. I can’t imagine watching this as a live action movie, or reading it as a book. Anime is the perfect medium for this story. It may be a little too dark and depressing for some, but if you have the strength to finish it, you will look back at it and say “that was amazing”.
Very well directed and written story. The animation may be a little dated and simple but it’s still very nice and it works, and the music is stunning. The dub is one of the best from NYC, and it’s one to test on those subtitle only type people, but the subtitle track is perfectly alright as well. Both are very good. This anime is very dark, disturibing, depressing, visualy graphic at times, but it’s still one of the best stories ever told. Brutal, but brutally honest and realistic. Highly recommended esecially to those who like Grave of the Fireflies , fans of Mohiro Kitoh’s mangas, or fans of Akitaro Daichi (who want to see him do something darker). Actually if you are a human being (and even if your not, lol) I suggest this to you, as long as you can deal with it. It’s really 16+ due to the subject matter,violence, implied rape, visually graphic scenes, and overall dark tune. Much of the violence is aimed at innocent children, and it makes it much worse. A very mature series, but a true masterpeice.
I don’t really like the “Lord of the Ring” books all that much. One of the main reasons for this is that there are points in the books when it felt like it’s trying to be a fairy tale adventure for kids (the Tom Bombadil part especially), and then the next moment, it gets all serious again, trying to be an adult’s fantasy novel. As a result I was confused over what frame of mind I should be reading it in.
Unfortunately, “Now and Then, Here and There” suffers from the same problem. My initial impression was that it’s meant to be an anime aimed for younger viewers, due to the simplistic character design style which gave it an almost Studio Ghibli kind of look. In episode 2 or 3 the anime starts showing its true colours, portraying the kind of disturbing violence and cruelty that makes it obvious that it isn’t meant for kids. And yet, and yet… the kid’s style animation is still there, glaring out at me from my screen, sending contradicting signals into my brain and confusing the hell out of me. The early sudden change of settings in the opening episode definitely didn’t help me get to grips with this anime either.
“Now and Then, Here and There” seems to be made with a specific purpose in mind, with a specific set of morals they wanted to tell through the anime, and it does succeed at times through some really hard hitting moments that may have caused many other viewers to forget its flaws. However, I found myself unable to look past its flaws and enjoy the show – its attempt to get its message across is just too amateurish because its story and characters often don’t hold water.
The primary example here is King Hamdo. No doubt other viewers have already pointed out that history has shown how such an insane dictator can exist, and most likely pointed to dictators such as Hitler as evidence. But, in reality, there are always complications that give rise to such situations whilst in contrast, “Now and Then, Here and There” gives you a retarded version that just shouts at you: “the leader is mad… just like it can be in real life!!” You can only get away with this kind of simplification of “Mad King ruler” if you’re spoonfeeding a fairy tale to children, for whom the content of this anime obviously isn’t suitable for. I haven’t studied other dictators in history lessons, but I can tell you a thing or two about Hitler that I learnt back in school all those many years ago (bear in mind that even this is a watered down version for kids, and the reality would have been even more complicated). Yes, Hitler may have been crazy, but there was far more to him than that. He had amazing leadership ability, and was one of the finest orators of the 20th century. He wove a magic spell over the German population, raising morale, restoring German pride and giving them new hope when the nation was suffering in the wake of an economic collapse in combination to the backlash of losing World War I. And what’s more, he delivered. Germany was on its knees when he came to power, and not only did he led them to recovery, he led them back up pecking order into a position to challenge the most powerful nations in the world at the time. Although in retrospect, it seems unthinkable someone like him could have got hold of power, when you take a closer look at the details, it does make you see how it could have happened.
Now lets take a look at King Hamdo. He’s obviously mad. Um… that’s it. Oh yea and he’s incompetent and is totally devoid of charisma. Wait! Why is he in power again?? Sure his fortress made his army practically invincible, but that isn’t exactly because of his competency. A muppet could sit there and produce much the same result, so what’s stopping people from overthrowing him? It seems infeasible that he could stay in power like that, especially considering that, from the way his subjects seem to feel about him, it doesn’t appear to be the kind of monarchy where people see the King as some kind god’s chosen – it feels closer to a dictatorship that’s evolved from a military organisation. How can someone as useless and mad as King Hamdo keep his grip on his position in this kind of environment when he can’t even keep his hold on his own sanity (or even give the impression that he is anything other than mad)?
Then we have Hamdo’s second in command Abelia, who isn’t really a bad person at all. I can’t understand why she hasn’t taken power over from Hamdo, especially in this military environment that requires discipline and cool headed decision making. As King Hamdo is clearly in no condition to rule, you’d think someone like Abelia would just confine him somewhere, take care of him, and stop him from hurting everyone including himself. But instead she chooses to just stand around taking abuse and having her conscience knocked about on a daily basis. But of course, if she takes a course of action that actually made sense, then there would be no half-built platform for the anime to launch its intended messages from etc -_- I waited and waited to see why Abelia was so obedient to Hamdo, but still couldn’t find the answer by the end, and can only conclude that it hasn’t been thought through properly.
Instead of showing some of the realistic dilemmas of war like, say, “Gundam Seed”, “Now and Then, Here and There” opts to go for the simplified, one sided “fighting is bad, full stop” version, and ends up tripping over it’s own messages. By painting in such a saintly light one of the characters Sis who, without providing an alternative solution, is against any sort of action against Hamdo, and also painting all those who wants to take action against Hamdo as being hot headed youths, the anime is clearly endorsing her pacifist view. But at the same time, it unwittingly showed the fact that doing nothing is probably is why things have become so bad in the first place. Hamdo’s own sustained grip on power is due to the unwillingness of his subordinates to overthrow him. How many lives are lost because of this kind passiveness? I’m not annoyed about which particular side of the argument that “Now and Then, Here and There” has chosen, but I’m annoyed that it has chosen to present it in such a black and white, overly simplified manner, and I’m also annoyed that it doesn’t make a particularly good argument for its case – it’s a bit someone like preaching against violence of any kind, including fighting back, while a crazy guy is running around unrestrained in the background mowing people down with a chainsaw.
Unlike “Lord of the Rings”, the fantasy world in “Now and Then, Here and There” is severely lacking in details. We are thrown straight into this chaotic world, and at no point in the anime do we get to hear an explanation for how it got into this mess. I want to know how it happened, and I want to know about all the strange technology this world possesses. Why are they so desperately short of water when they have all this technology to go to other worlds? Can’t they just appear near a massive lake in one of these other worlds and collect water?! You can argue that this isn’t the point of the anime, but because of the omission of such information, it’s not really easy to get a good grasp of the situation or to sympathise with the unwillingness of the characters to do the right thing. For example, if more background information is provided, then I *may* be able to understand why King Hamdo holds so much power over his subjects, for example. Throughout the series, I couldn’t help but constantly questioning many aspects of “Now and Then, Here and There”, and when this happen it’s almost impossible to really enjoy the show.
“Now and Then, Here and There” is by no means a bad anime, though. At the end of the day, King Hamdo doesn’t get that much screen time – he’s just someone who annoyed me immensely with his mere existence. The main character also quite annoying with his incredulously happy-go-lucky attitude – is he from some alien race that are incapable of feeling pessimistic or something? But those aside, there are some fairly interesting characters that I would have liked to have seen more of, but their potential are not fully explored for the most part. Some of the emotions generated by the series feel very real and touching (something that’s well reflected in the slow, contemplative ending theme), and the portrayal of issues such as rape is very gritty – much more convincing than some shallow attempts made by other shows such as “Elfen Lied”. But at the end of the day, its childishly simplistic view of dark, complex issues just doesn’t work. It’s a bit like reading a twisted version of a fairy tale like Snow White where an extra bit of storyline got inserted, in which she gets raped by one of the seven dwarves or something, and has to deal with the mental trauma that results from it – it’s just feels all wrong and out of place! I guess you could say that “Now and then, here and there” does kind of live up to its title though – it doesn’t seem to quite know what it’s doing, so ends up being a bit here and a bit there, and ultimately neither completely here nor there. I was really expecting something so critically acclaimed to be better constructed!
5: Turn A Gundam
MAL Score: 7.70
It is the Correct Century, two millennia after a devastating conflict which left the world broken. Earth is now mostly uninhabitable, and thus a remnant of humanity has resided on the Moon while the Earth and its few survivors recover. For years, the “Moonrace,” the people of the Moon, have continued to check if Earth is fit for resettlement.
A boy named Rolan Cehack and two others are sent down to Earth for a reconnaissance mission. Rolan ends up spending a year on the planet working for the Heim Family, aristocrats living in a Victorian-like society. This family, like others of similar wealthy status, celebrates one’s coming of age with a ceremony involving a giant stone statue known as the “White Doll.”
To Rolan’s surprise, the Moonrace suddenly touches down on Earth with the intent of taking it by force. During the attack, the White Doll is broken apart, revealing a mobile suit called the “Turn A Gundam” inside. With Rolan in its cockpit, the Turn A causes a standoff between the forces of Earth and Moon. The young pilot, along with the people of both sides, must keep the peace and avoid another all-out, catastrophic war.
Breaking away from his Kill ‘Em All melodramas that marked his earlier successes, he came up with a much lighter outlook which has shown in the works after. While Turn A follows the usual teenager finding himself piloting a mecha in a war it manages to present plot devise in an interesting and untried way successfully. The Mecha themselves (by futurist Syd Mead who designed Blade Runner and Tron) are so aesthetically different they border on grotesque. This plays very well in early episodes when the battles take on a very War of the Worlds feel to them. The characters interacting in a typically rich Tomino script are well rounded, likable, and surprisingly complex who carry with them stings of an individual plot that the director skillfully weaves into a deep and complex story. The plot itself is heartwarming, funny, tense and has Machiavellian dealings on both sides of the war. Action does take a back seat to plot development, but as the series progresses fights become faster, more brutal, and with none of the canned battles that tend to pop up in mecha series recently. Yoko Kanno delivers again in the soundtrack, one of my favorites she has done. Of Particular note is Tsuki no mayu which appears in the first episodes in one of the most memorable scenes in the show.
Now if there was a downside I would have to say hardcore action fans would be disappointed in the slower pacing as Tomino slowly develops characters and the political situation. On the plus side this is one of the few Gundam series you do not need prerequisite knowledge to understand what is going on. It also has the single best ending I have ever seen in an anime. Whether you are a mecha fan or not I would implore you to at least give this underrepresented series a try, you will undoubtedly find something to you own liking.
If you’re not familiar with Gundam and the UC universe in particular, then this is not a good place to start.
It does have a stand alone story, but it’s certainly not intended for people who have little to no prior knowledge about the franchise.
This is a spoiler free review.
This one takes place thousands of years in the future in which the only space colony left is on the moon and obviously its population has advanced technology (including mechs of course), meanwhile, the people on earth are still living in a 1930s way of life. Everything is fine and dandy, until one day the moonrace decide to return to their roots, earth. And of course, a war breaks out.
It is a little different from the usual Gundam since it gives one side of the war a clear advantage due to their technology and knowledge on how to use it, while the other side is rather primitive. They also make it clear how different the two cultures are in many interesting ways and the 1930s clothes and technology really give off a unique vibe to this series, it’s something you rarely see in anime in general.
It’s also different because the atmosphere is relatively lighthearted, but at the same time it also deals with its themes and issues with a straight face.
Another thing you’ll notice about Turn A is that even though it follows the Gundam tradition of a boy eventually finding a Gundam – piloting it – fighting in a war and so on.. It also goes through its traditional route in a noticeably unique way that you’d never see elsewhere. Furthermore, it’s also famous for containing various easter eggs from previous Gundams that only fans will immediately recognize.
I must warn you though, that the first episode is very rushed and poorly presented. I don’t know what they were smoking when they made it, but thankfully the next 3 or so episodes slow down and assist in making everything sink in. And much like in most series in the franchise, the pacing in general is kinda slow and it does get faster towards the end. And it’s not really slower than usual so you should be used to this by now.
The story is also very rich since it explores this conflict through the various perspectives of each party that’s involved, whether it’s the citizens, the spies, the soldiers or the leaders of each side. It does this very throughly and it keeps going back and forth from peace or some sense of settlement and then back in to war again so the situation won’t remain static. Also things do get wrapped up very nicely and the story is concluded very well. It also focuses a little more on politics than your average Gundam and as a result it doesn’t have as much action and the battles aren’t on a massive scale with many deaths in each episode either, but it does make sure that most deaths have a certain impact on the story and not just death for the sake of it (I’m looking at you, Victory Gundam).
Overall the story is both more unique and more complex than usual, but as a result it’s also a little more clunky and it felt like it’s a bit much for the show to handle from time to time. Heck, at times it’s even a bit hard to follow because it keeps jumping around, but I still think it’s handled very well for the most part.
As much as I love Gundam in general, I can’t deny that characters and characterization are among the franchise’s biggest weaknesses. Gundam characters normally consist of angsty teens and/or dumb adults who randomly do irrational and unreasonable actions for petty reasons just to take the story in a certain direction. This is a bad thing because it normally makes them feel like slaves to the story without much free will or solid reasoning behind them.
Fortunately, in this particular installment those types of things seem to be toned down significantly. Some characters are even more complex than usual and their motives and dilemmas are a lot more believable and easier to follow.
Whether these motives are related directly to the war, or just normal motives related to their personal lives as a result of the war. This is truly what drives the story forward and not in an overly forced way.
Many characters are inserted in to different inconvenient scenarios throughout the series that inevitably change them over the course of it. Their development in general is given a lot of time and focus.
Even the main character is not your usual Gundam angsty teenage boy either. He’s basically a pacifist, (“I’m on neither side!”) and much like the story, he’s also quite unusual. Oh, and I should probably mention that this boy talks, looks and even dresses up like a girl from time to time. So that might turn off some people (and turn on others, lol).
I’m no fan of these types of characters, but this does make him far more memorable than usual. But besides that, he’s also well portrayed and his actions are usually quite believable. The only downside is that he’s kind of a Mary Sue and he’s mostly the one who’s there to change the people who surround him and not the other way around..
The series even tries to avoid having clear villains, but I’d be lying if I said it completely succeeds, since they do emerge eventually. And some characters even seem like plot devices who’s main purpose is to prolong the conflict between the two sides (quick! throw in some random lunatic before they find an excuse to stop fighting each other!). Though I do like how some characters that seem to be very minor at first, unexpectedly play rather important roles later on.
Overall, for a Gundam series, these characters are handled exceptionally well and are also pretty memorable.
The visuals do have their ups and downs.
On one hand the mecha designs are nothing amazing and the production values in general are a little low for the franchise. The Gundam of this series in particular gives me a craving for Pringles for some reason. With that being said, there are cameos of mechs from other Gundam series, most notably, the Zaku which is present through out most of the series. Now that more than makes up for those weird designs for me.
The animation is overall fairly average, but the battle choreography is noticeably good and well above average, despite having less action in terms of quantity than most Gundams do.. And that’s probably the result of it being on a smaller scale.
In terms of character designs, they aren’t the most detailed, but are expressive enough and they do have an interesting variety in their features. Each one looks very different from the other and the 1930s clothes add a lot to it as well.
The first opening is a pop song (I guess) and it isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but you get used to it and at least the lyrics fit perfectly with what the series is about. And pretty much the same can be said for the second opening.
The ending songs aren’t bad, but are way too quiet for me to remember and the soundtrack in general doesn’t have much variety but it does fit the series’ tone and it’s very noticeable. Especially one track in particular that had a violin in it, or something..
I don’t speak Japanese, but voice acting is also ok, I guess, but nothing really stands out about it.
I enjoyed it very much of course.
It’s an exceptional Gundam series and a great anime on its own as well.
Though admittedly, not every Gundam fan would appreciate it because of how different it is. I guess you either love it or hate it.
thats the way of Turn A Gundam.
i enjoyed it very much, got deeply sought in.
even more than by the literary quality of storytelling and the excellent work of all the participating visual and performing artists i was deeply impressed by the great respect toward nature and humanity as a part of it. the smallest thing was allowed to create its own beauty, the least important character was granted its complexity. so this is giving an idea how far you may advance the art of animated film.
the title is programme, but again a mark for the thoughtful balance of this oustanding art piece – a programme not only for the makers also for the recipient. so at least you have to decide how good Turn A Gundam might be for you…
…and. may be there is no turn back!
4: Digimon Adventure
English: Digimon: Digital Monsters
MAL Score: 7.77
When a group of seven children go to summer camp, the last thing that they expect is snow falling in July. In the confusion that follows this phenomenon, they each receive an odd device that transports them to another world. As soon as they wake up in this new world, they encounter strange creatures who call themselves “Digimon.” The Digimon tell them that they’ve landed in the “Digital World,” far from home.
With only the Digimon and the “Digivices” as protection, the seven children set off to find their way home and learn the reason why they were brought here. Led by the impulsive Taichi Yagami and his hungry Digimon partner Agumon, this group will have to fight unknown evils as they discover more about this outlandish Digital World.
As a fan of both Digimon and Pokémon, I don’t see how it’s impossible to like both shows even though at the time I loved Pokémon to death and still do. They may have their similarities, but they are two vastly different creatures who just happen to inhabit the same genre. In fact, despite my love for Pokémon, I find Digimon to be immensely better in the anime department (the games not so much, ironically).
Story (8): Seven young kids go to camp for the summer, and wound up living in a digital land where they meet creatures called Digimon (short for Digital Monster) that evolve—called “Digivolving”—through six stages: Baby, In-Training, Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, and Mega. They use Digivolving and power of friendship to save the digital world from evil.
That’s the simple, cliché response. In reality, Digimon goes much deeper than that, and it soon stood out from the other shounen ‘Mon shows of the time. It still retains that cliché plot, but the thing about clichés is that there are different ways of playing with them, to help separate it from another similar clichéd plot. This doesn’t automatically make the writing in Digimon perfect, there’s always going to be flaws, but it makes it more watchable (or tolerable) than other similar shows.
Yes, seven kids (later it became eight) end up going into a digital world where they meet their Digimon partners. However, these kids end up discovering, or re-discovering themselves and grow up as characters to be better people. The Digimon technically don’t change, although they are catalysts, and they do become stronger based on the inner strength of their partner. It’s a form of teamwork, but more along the lines of “Believe in me who believes in you”.
But why were they sent to the Digital World? Because they are the Chosen: the DigiDestined who will save the Digital World from the bad Digimon who will do anything in their power to take over the world. Digimon was originally supposed to be about 13-26 episodes, however, high ratings in Japan was encouraging enough for Toei to continue for a total of 54 episodes. The series is thus commonly split into arcs named after the big bad: Devimon, Etemon, Vamdemon (Myotismon), and the Dark Masters. Each arc has its own fans, but typically the general consensus agrees the Myotismon arc is the highlight of the series.
Outside of your typical friendship and teamwork, Digimon is not afraid to tackle themes such as death, divorce, adoption, and fear of losing a loved one, and for a kids’ show (especially given the time), it approaches them with maturity. And the average dub-hater will be pleasantly surprised to learn just how much Saban got away with all in a time where not even 4KIDS themselves wanted to touch such subjects (usually). Sure, Digimon has its share of censorship in the States, but only on an outward-appearance level (again, usually). Luckily, the script stays fairly true to the original while it developed Saban’s signature gag dub trait, so a lot of the themes and atmosphere of the series remained. Still, the choice to watch the sub or dub rests all on the viewer, either are fine choices, both have their gains and losses.
Art/Animation (6): Let’s totally be honest here, Digimon has a small budget, and it shows (Toei Animation has this problem a lot, it seems). Stock animation is rampant throughout the series, and there’s off-model moments and other animation errors, but they typically try not to let you notice, and for the most part, they worked the best they could within their budget. As a digitally-colored show (heh, digital), the colors and line-art is clean, albeit kind of flat due to lack of lighting more often than not. The backgrounds (well, backdrops) stand out to me the most with this show in how everything looks holographic—in the Digital World, anyway, as the real world looks more normal, and thus more “real”. It’s a stylistic choice that I feel is a staple to this show. Character designs are unique to the series in that everyone is distinguishable (big traits that stick out to me are the eyes, hair, and how big their hands and shoes/feet are—which is admittedly weird), and monster designs are varied from Digimon to Digimon. This helps them stick out in a line-up of other shounen anime, as well as pave the way for merchandise.
However, due to the small budget, the art is dated compared to later Digimon seasons, and even other anime of the time. The CGI Digivolutions in particular are the worst offenders (although for the time, it wasn’t all that bad). The only exception I can think of where the animation was stellar and holds up very nicely (as well as go beyond its usual budget) was episode 21 when Mamoru Hosoda directed the episode.
Sound (9): Sound-effects in general are generic, however, the beeps, drones, and screeches of the Digivice stand out the most in that department—I would go so far as to say it’s iconic to the series. The soundtrack itself is spectacular. Composed by the late Takanori Arisawa, Digimon’s soundtrack is full of adventure and wonder, while being almost in an electronic/techno genre to give it a more digital feel. Every DigiDestined has their own insert song, and character score—two versions, to be exact—not really unheard of in such shows, but it’s a big deal to Digimon. Villains even have their own character songs, if not theme scores, and they are wonderfully kept in character. The opening theme, “Butter-Fly” by Wada Kouji, is honestly one of the best anime theme songs in a kids’ show (if not in anime in general), perhaps one of the more recognizable from the intro alone this side of Pokémon. “Brave Heart” by Ayumi Miyazaki is also well-known as the Digivolution theme song.
Saban Entertainment, like most dubbing companies of the time, composed their own music. By themselves, the musical score is good, it’s clear they got talent in the musical department. However, the editor(s) of the episodes completely went overboard with the music and just slapped pieces together to fill up the entire episode, rarely leaving a single scene quiet. But the musical score isn’t as well-known as the ungodly catchy, simplistic theme song, simply titled “Digimon Are the Champions”. And now you have the English theme song in your head. You’re welcome. Bonus points if you can see the intro play out in your head.
Voice-acting in the original is solid, though likewise with the English dub, some voices don’t really fit the character. It’s thankfully few and far in-between, and it’s not like the voice acting is terrible. However, because I’m not fluent in Japanese, I’m slightly biased when it comes to voices regardless if that was the original intent on the casting director or not, thus I cannot judge them just based on how they sound alone. I do personally feel there are voices that work best in the original, while others are enhanced better in the English dub.
Speaking of, given the time, the English dub is surprisingly phenomenal with a great voice-cast—yes, a late-90s kids’ anime has an amazing English dub, script and soundtrack aside. It took a bit for the directors and voice actors to get comfortable with the show, but they were able to bring the characters to life in their own special way. Many of them were in the field for years prior to Digimon, and are well-known to the anime community: Joshua Seth, Michael Reynolds, Edie Mirman, Mona Marshall, Derek Stephen Prince, and Lara Jill Miller (at this time, she was well-known from NBC’s “Gimme a Break!”, her being cast in Digimon happened at the same time she returned to Hollywood) stand out best in memory, but many of the cast is well-done. However, as I said before, it, too, has its share of voices that just don’t work out. This is more-or-less limited to side-Digimon that you don’t see often outside of one or two episodes, so it’s the main cast I have more praise towards (though Mimi is a bit of an exception in some areas—Ai Maeda in the original makes Mimi more likeable/listenable than Philece Sampler).
Characters (9): This is where Digimon truly sticks out as a show. It’s very uncommon to find a show with as equally-complex and diverse a cast as Digimon Adventure. The eight main children made this show, even though their Digimon are good characters in their own right and serve as great foils/combos with their human partners.
The characters are as follows: Taichi “Tai” Yagami (Kamiya), the leader of the group who acts before he thinks (but isn’t stupid); Yamato “Matt” Ishida, the cool-headed big brother of a lone wolf; Sora Takenouchi, the motherly tomboy; Koushirou “Izzy” Izumi, the young, know-it-all technical wizard; Mimi Tachikawa, a spoiled, rich girl who never hesitates to speak her mind, but has her heart in the right place; Joe Kido, the more down-to-earth of the children who has a paternal side to him; Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi, Matt’s younger brother who provides a more innocent outlook to the world; and Hikari “Kari” Yagami (Kamiya), Tai’s younger sister who is good-natured and soft-spoken.
Each of them have a backstory, and their own inner demons (well, maybe not so much with Kari according to some folks). Among the eight, any of them can be relatable to the viewer. Many of them struggle to become better, more mature people, but they aren’t alone. The Digimon partners: Agumon, Gabumon, Piyomon (Biyomon), Tentomon, Palmon, Gomamon, Patamon, and Tailmon (Gatomon). They, too, grow as characters and have their own personality, although it’s Gatomon (and possibly Patamon) who has the most character development. But their main role as Digimon partners is to protect and be supportive, and for the most part, they fulfill their duties. They are likewise the mascots of the series, and yet are more than just pieces of data.
Meanwhile, partner-less Digimon play important roles to the story, perhaps even more-so than the human protagonists. Some examples (off the top of my head) are Leomon, Ogremon, Piximon, Wizardmon, Myotismon, Etemon, Pumpkinmon, and Gotsumon. These characters had depth despite being in a few episodes at the least, but they also were just that memorable to the point they have fans to this day.
Special mention goes to the children’s parents for adding a depth to the show most kids’ shows don’t do. Parents in Digimon were very supportive of their children, as well as loving, but were also the most human. While they don’t go through the same experiences as their children (for the most part), it still affects them greatly to let their children go and save the world without knowing why it is they have to. They had to put their trust in them, and thus they (and the writers) gain my respect when they could’ve been like every other adult in similar kids’ shows. If somehow the children don’t grow on you, then perhaps their parents will.
Enjoyment (10): It’s truly a damn shame Digimon has never gotten as popular as Pokémon. Both franchises were being worked on at the exact same time, neither creator knowing of each other, and yet it was Pokémon that was finished first, and would overshadow every other ‘Mon show that would come out since. Is it possible to blame bad timing for why it is Digimon has to constantly work to get noticed? Maybe. But how do we know Pokémon wouldn’t have gone through the same ridicule had it been Digimon that came out first? How do we know that Digimon would have gotten the same popularity? Would it still have struggled? Would it have been a worldwide phenomenon?
Do I wish Digimon would have a bigger audience? Truly, I do, it clearly deserves recognition and praise. However, at the same time, I feel it was a good thing Digimon has remained rather… quiet under many people’s radars. For one thing, it felt more special to me, as a kid, to know that as sad as it was, the show was more for me (and my brothers) than anyone else. I didn’t want the magic and wonder of Digimon to be sucked up by anyone else, I wanted to experience it all for myself. In my mind, everyone else had to be just as special to like it as much as I did.
Another reason I’m kind of glad it stayed low was unlike with Pokémon, Digimon has never really been accused of the same things its rival went through (at least, that I know of). If it had, I don’t think Digimon would have survived. Pokémon had Nintendo, tons of merchandise, and millions of children (and dollars) to back it up. What did Digimon have? Fox Kids? Saban? Toei Animation? Some of Pokémon’s percentage of fans? What good would any of those have done to keep Digimon afloat against the onslaught of attacks?
Even with the cheesiness of a gag dub, I still find Digimon to be highly enjoyable. Yes, the original Japanese is superior in everything, but the English dub is special, even if highly subjective, and thus I can’t forsake the dub. It’s just as memorable as Pokémon’s dub, and yet though I managed to find a way for Pokémon and Digimon to co-exist as friendly rivals, it’s the better of the two (although I honestly would have a hard time picking my most favorite). Saban Entertainment took good care of Digimon at this time, and I thank them for that. It’s the only thanks I can really give them besides “Thanks for Samurai Pizza Cats” and “Thanks for the Fox Kids block”.
In the end, I think “Butter-Fly” says it best for Digimon as a whole (translated):
“After an endless dream, in this world of nothingness
It seems as if our beloved dreams will lose
Even with these unreliable wings, covered in images that tend to stay
I’m sure we can fly, on my love”
Second, I have to say I’m utterly disappointed with the score Digimon Adventure has. 7 is not a bad score, but is way below of what I expected. This is a kid show, and as such it should be scored as how satisfaying it can be to kids, just as how shonnen should be scored as how they satisfy their teen audience, seinen their older audience, and so on. I feel like many are comparing and scoring anime without any filter, as if you could score this anime a 5 just because you compare it with Code Geass or Shingeki no Kyojin, which are 9 if not 10s. And that’s unfair. Digimon Adventure is a stand out in what refers to kid shows and I’ll explain why point by point.
Story wise: It is very well constructed, and smartly thought through; there are misteries that are unveiled as we move forward, and every revelation is handled with care and it is affected by how the characters feel about it. There are plenty shows that just try to be awesome by delievering mistery after mistery and revelation after revelation with no care of their characters whatsoever and fall flat in making any emotional resonance, but it’s not this one. The story is tightly attached to its main 8 characters and their digimon, while giving us the sense of many plots developing under their nose, but strickly related to them. The first 10 episodes are introductory, a prologue if you may, and then we go fully into know what the world they are in is and how it affects ours. Sure, some people could say “why wait 10 episodes to get to real deal?” For starters, those 10 episodes are not bad at all, they are very entertaining and they give us a sense of adventure (hence the title) and exploration that this anime wants us to feel, and it passes with flying colors. The following 44 episodes follow 3 different story arcs, but all related to the same story plot, all of them linked together, with every single episode affecting the following ones, which mean there is no such thing as filler episode, and that’s something we should applaude, as not many kid shows are willing to leave a filler comfort zone (I’m looking at you Pokemon).
Characters: Here is where this anime shines brightly. Character development is at its finest here. Each character has a distinctive personality, quirks and even tics that make them feel real, or at the very least smartly outlined. At first we get broadstrokes, but as we pass episode by episode there’s an incredible development in each character; they are distinctive from each other and they never act out of characters, their actions are not made in order to move the plot forward, but rather to show us who these kids are, which is great, as many animes (and not just kid shows) tend to sacrifice character insight in order to get the plot moving; this one doesn’t. They will always move accordingly to their personalities and we get to see all of them develop. While some others shows would mainly develop 3 or 4 of their main characters, all 8 get to grow in each episode by what happen to them, and even they realize how they grow (and even how they don’t, how they might be stuck) and how much they have to move forward.
There’s a cute concept here that is “values are power” and each character has a distinctive value, may it be courage, friendship, love, sincerity, love, and so on. They grow around these values, but they also get lost in sight of them, when they try to push them they fail as opposed when they let it flow naturally it always work. It’s a wonderful lesson for kids, and it is something we all should add to our daily life, it would make this world better. But putting that aside and returning to the characters, there is not even one that’s left undeveloped, all of them have satisfaying characters arcs.
Sound/Music: Digimon has a beautiful soundtrack. Wada Kouji was a talented musician (rest in peace) and scored some really great songs that made you dream. Digimon is a series that aims for kids to dream and to learn the power of values as well to portraying excellent character development and mature themes explained to them, and as such it needs the right score at the right time, and Wada Kouji just got it right, from Butterfly to Brave Heart, even using classic music as Ravel, the timing is just perfect and while there are surely better OST, this one is among the better ones.
Enjoyment: it is highly satisfaying! I’m 21 years old and as I re-watched Digimon after 12 years I enjoyed it as much as I did when I was 9, and that’s because I could realize how well constructed it was. Besides, it made feel like a llittle kid again. The plots are smart, the character development is spot on, the music is gorgous, the art may lack a little now and then, but is never too bothersome, and the evolutions are damn right exciting and funny! And so I could keep praising it until I’m left out of words. But I think I made my point.
In conclusion: This is defenitely the best Digimon series, as it is the one that gets all plot, character, music and themes right, and delivers them in a highly satisfaying manner. As such, it deserves to be acclaimed, and a 7 is a low score for it.
Is this a realistic anime? No, not at all, but it’s not meant to be anyway. It is an anime that is meant to make us dream. You can’t compare it to, say for instance, Shingeky no Kyojin which explore fantasy elements as realistic as possible or Code Geass, which explores character insight in the midst of war and revolutions. No, of course no, those are targeted for an older audience. But Digimon Adventure is no less satisfaying, and that’s because while it aims for children, one can always appreciate how smartly thought are the storylines and the characters development. It is a show that knows its potential and limitations, accepts them and just aim to be the best it can be, which result in being an awesomely made kid show.
All in all, we have to see Digimon Adventure for what it is and not for what we might want to be. And as on what it is, it is straight awesome.
Like most lengthy anime series it starts off fairly slow, and like most shows in general it has a lot of typical things you’d expect from a show of this genre. Chosen children in a faraway land, partnered with strange creatures, that need to prevent the evil from destroying the world. We’ve all seen it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be well done enough to be damn good in the process.
Starting off with the kids searching for a way home it’s pretty episodic and gets into a pretty standard pattern for the first 15 episodes or so. But after that they begin the next adventure, searching for their respective Crests. Another small series of episodic episodes, but they’re interesting enough that you wouldn’t notice that; and they’re all truly just a springboard that launches the show from ‘fine’ to ‘very good’ on my scale. Introducing Vamdemon (Myotismon for you dub people) and starting the search for the eighth Chosen Child.
It’s here that the story takes a much darker tone, and it only gets darker as it goes on. The show pulls no punches, and though it’s aimed at children it doesn’t insult your intelligence (or at least in Japanese it doesn’t). Though there can be a slight cheese factor in some of the more emotional parts, it’s done well enough that you won’t mind and might even find yourself smiling at the very thing you might have rolled your eyes at.
Even with all the improvements today I still find this art really impressive, and I even prefer it in some instances. There’s a strange realistic feeling to all the characters, sure most have the typical accessories to tell you they’re from an anime but I wouldn’t find it hard to believe if they were based on real kids. But in a show with evolving and fighting monsters who cares how the characters look right, we wanna see wicked awesome monsters!!… Savages, all of you; alright, lets get to the monsters.
They’re awesome, to say the least, there may have been one or two creature designs out of them all that I’d consider lame or stupid. And in a show consisting of 54 episodes and dozens upon dozens of monsters, that’s damn good. The evolutions are awesome, the only ones that are a little lame are the 4 CG ones; it’s not too bad though, considering when the show was made (they’re also not very long). But now to move away from the creature designs, I’ll talk briefly about the background designs, which I found to be incredibly pleasant compared to over a dozen other shows I’ve seen.
Though each background doesn’t exactly stand out in any particular ways, it’s the simple fact that they blend in so well that I like them. They’re designed well enough that they look like scenery, you pay attention to it to get a grasp of what’s around the characters and move on; it still sticks in your mind but it’s not taking over the screen, it’s not exploding to try and be noticed, it’s simply doing the duty of being background scenery. I also found that for a show from the 90’s there’s a surprisingly low amount of re-used footage. Sure there’s the occasional ‘yeah I’ve seen that Mega Flame before’, but for the most part each one fresh and reflects the scenery around it.
It’s strange that a show about elementary school children would have a fairly large amount of character development and depth, but that’s Digimon Adventure for you. Each of the Chosen Children has their own issues, their own past that’s slowly explored as the series progresses, and by the end they’ve all developed into fully grown characters. They’re all clever enough to question situations and surroundings, but they’re only in elementary school so they all still have the charm and innocence of childhood.
But people aren’t the only characters here, no no, the Digimon have their own personalities too. Which are, in some ways, better than the children in my opinion. Though the children grow and change as characters, and the Digimon basically stay the same, they’re still a high point and occasionally contribute a large part of the humor or drama in many episodes.
Ungodly catchy. The Japanese intro and outros are both very good, so good that I’ve even downloaded them and added them to my iPods playlist of anime songs. Though they are very good, and catchy, they’re nothing too spectacular. The audio during the show is also pretty standard, with most of those songs being ungodly catchy as well; awesome, but still nothing too great.
For a show that I once would have only given a five out of ten I’m so glad I went back and watched it over again with the proper audio. To charm me still after ten years have gone by it truly goes to show that this show is something people of all ages can watch and enjoy.
A very good anime that’s sadly under appreciated. Though not perfect, Digimon Adventures is definitely worth watching, or re-watching; especially if you read this whole review!!
3: Hunter x Hunter
English: Hunter x Hunter
MAL Score: 8.40
Hunters are specialized in a wide variety of fields, ranging from treasure hunting to cooking. They have access to otherwise unavailable funds and information that allow them to pursue their dreams and interests. However, being a hunter is a special privilege, only attained by taking a deadly exam with an extremely low success rate.
Gon Freecss, a 12-year-old boy with the hope of finding his missing father, sets out on a quest to take the Hunter Exam. Along the way, he picks up three companions who also aim to take the dangerous test: the revenge-seeking Kurapika, aspiring doctor Leorio Paladiknight, and a mischievous child the same age as Gon, Killua Zoldyck.
Hunter x Hunter is a classic shounen that follows the story of four aspiring hunters as they embark on a perilous adventure, fighting for their dreams while defying the odds.
The story is good, but not really anything mind breaking. It´s about Gon, a 12 year old boy, trying to become a hunter so he can find his father who left him as a child. A hunter is basically a person with a hunters license, and the concept of hunting can be almost anything. As long as you complete the difficult and deadly Hunters exam and get your license you can do whatever you want with it, so naturally there´s all kinds hunters, everything from hunters who hunt criminals, hunters who ARE criminals and hunters who tries to master the art of cooking, for example.
So in the first part of the series it´s about the exam and you follow Gon and his 3 companions as they try to survive the exam. What you´re going to notice is that the story involves very little fighting, and yet it´s really intense. In the third exam for example they have to fight against dangerous criminals, but instead of beating up all of them with super-lightning attacks they introduce different kinds of simple methods, like janken, and make it really interesting. This is executed very nicely and feels refreshing if you´ve watched other Shonen-series.
The show does not end after the exam though, it continues with the celestial tower arc and the yorkshin auction arc, and especially the latter is extremely entertaining.
Yes, it is quite old and some people might not like it. Personally I didn´t mind though, both art and animation were smooth, and even if you don´t like older art you´ll probably find it acceptable.
The openings and endings were nothing special, but I personally loved the BGM! The songs really fit well in the athmosphere and I actually came back to some parts just because the music was so good and fit the whole show so perfectly. The voice acting was also really good, and I didn´t really notice anything to complain about. Voices fit characters really well (I watched the subs).
Here is when the series really start to shine! The characters are great, and unlike too many other shonen shows they are actually both memorable and they don´t feel forced in any way, this without 12 episodes from their pasts. They also get developed a lot in the show and you find youself just enjoying to watch the characters together.
Even if the first 7 or so episodes are a bit slow, once you get into this show it´s never boring. It´s not slow paced and there´s always something new and interesting happening in every episode (there might be some exceptions, but I can´t think of any just like that). It´s actually one of the most enjoyable series I have ever seen.
On of the best shows out there, watch it now! Even if you normally dont like shonen shows, this might still entertain you! It´s not slow paced, there´s more focus on plot than fighting and it actually ends (even if the ending is very open). I recommend this to everyone and especially if you like other shonen shows, then you will love this one, it is the best typical shonen adventure anime out there.
Generally I approach shounen titles with care, since many of them strike me as a bit shallow and vacuous. Hunter X Hunter, however, sounded quite interesting. On the strength of one solitary review, I gave it a watch.
I’ll begin with a brief summary: Hunter X Hunter revolves around a ten-ish year old boy named Gon who discovers that his permanently absentee father, Ging, is, in fact, one of the most famous and respected Hunters in the world. Hunters hunt various things, from criminals to recipe ingredients, depending on their individual talents and preferences. It seems to Gon that the only way he is going to have access to the resources to find and finally meet his father is to become a Hunter himself – so he cheerfully sets off to take the Hunter Exam. The four Hunter X Hunter series document Gon’s attempts to become a Hunter and find Ging, punctuated by various distractions that result from the myriad troubles of the friends he makes along the way.
After two or three episodes, it seemed pleasant enough but uninspiring. By episode seven or so, when the Hunter Exam starts in earnest, it begins to become more interesting. Before long, I was completely absorbed. Unlike many shounen series I’ve glimpsed, Hunter X Hunter doesn’t rely too much on fighting (except for the Celestial Tower arc – the weakest of the lot, but necessary to everything that follows it) and actually has engaging characters who I ended up sincerely caring about. That’s a rarity for me in any form of TV/film, but particularly in anime, and very particularly in shounen. In this case, I actually almost wept a single sorrowful tear when the final episode of the final OVA ended, so attached had I become to the central group of characters.
One of the great things about Gon as a ‘hero’ in a shounen title is he isn’t the most powerful character, nor does he want to be. He wants to be good enough to qualify as a Hunter and find his father, but that’s all – and he often fails to triumph in difficult situations, whether in combat or a battle of wits or a game. He is surrounded by stronger, faster, cleverer characters; in particular, the mysterious and repellent Hisoka is leagues ahead of anyone else in the series in sheer power and skill.
Again, though, combat is not as prominent as one might expect in Hunter X Hunter. It does occur, but it slots smoothly and naturally into the flow of events rather than feeling crowbarred in, as is so often the case in anime of this type.
One of the strongest points of the whole thing is the interaction between the core characters. It’s hugely enjoyable simply watching them together, seeing their friendships develop, shift emphasis, come apart, and take on new dimensions. And every single one of the characters has more depth than I thought was possible in shounen.
Now to the negatives. They are few, but worth mentioning.
The first thing to mention is this series does take some time to get going. The first half a dozen episodes meander along quite sedately as though they’re little more than a travelogue. After that, everything is fine up until the Second Test of the Hunter Exam, which really irritated me. I’m not going to say why, since I want to avoid spoilers, but quite how none of the characters stabbed anyone in a fit of rage is a mystery.
The first major low point, though, arrives during the second arc, when some of the characters undertake a stupidly DBZ-like weight-training regime. I nearly took my head in my hands in despair. Fortunately, it was over fairly quickly.
The most sustained of the poorer points of the series is the aforementioned Celestial Tower arc. Fighting tournaments do little for me unless I’m participating (I mean Mortal Kombat etc, not actual, real fighting. Good grief, what do you take me for?). The major developments of this arc are pivotal to later events, but it was still a bit of a chore to sit through the duels – except the all-too-brief outings for Killua, who is always entertaing to watch in confrontations.
One of the things that unsettled me about Hunter X Hunter as I went along was the change in tech. The first plot arc is all sailing ships, bows and occasional scraps of near-ruined modern technology (with the notable exception of a motorbike in Gon’s photo of Ging), but each arc increases the tech level until, by the time we reach the York Shin arc, cars, automatic weapons and the internet are commonplace. This is somewhat jarring at first, but the more time is spent in York Shin, the less noticable it becomes.
One more thing I’d like to mention is the music. The reviews I’ve read of the several Hunter X Hunter series all claim that the music improves as the series progress. While I concede that some of the music in G.I. Final is good, I actually preferred the early music. In particular, I rapidly grew to pine for the melody I think of as ‘Gon’s Theme’, which is rarely heard outside the first story arc.
I’ll end my poorly-structured rambling there (listening to this month’s Terrorizer cover CD isn’t conducive to coherent writing) with a high recommendation. Hunter X Hunter is among my top three anime. Fans of harem anime or fan service may want to avoid; fans of good character, interesting plot and colourful action with the odd touch of the strange and sinister should watch at the next opportune moment.
HxH is categorized as a shounen in the database, but you better not start thinking about the latest episode Naruto n friends. This is far beyond any generic shounen trash. I’ve heard people describe it a disguised seinen, not gonna take cred for thinking of that but I totally agree. HxH doesn’t constantly bullshit you, it’s too real.
At first glance, the story might look extremely generic; boy trying to find his father yada yada, but don’t judge the book by its cover, you’d be doing yourself a disservice doing so in this case. It features some of the best storytelling that has ever come out of the medium, clearly much thought was put into it. It’s a story I can happily wait 2-3 years between volumes to read, because I know it’ll never disappoint.
So it might be looked at as as seinen disguised as a shounen, which you can tell by how little fighting there is. The fights in are sparse and short, but extremely memorable because of how they’re built up and executed. The show builds up for some of these fights for several episodes, and the payoff is always so satisfying despite sometimes being short. Even when they seem the most pointless, you’ll grow to appreciate them.
The characters are hella good too; Kurapika, Leorio, Gon, Killua, Hisoka, Chrollo and even the smallest of characters have strong presences. They each have their own unique motive and also their own hurdles to tackle.
The characters is a point where I think the 2011 version is lacking comparatively. The first arc of the show is double the length in the original series, and they take that time to make you feel more connected with the characters. You get to see them interact more with each other in ways not shown in the 2011 version. You also get to see key plot points which were neglected in the remake in favor of speeding it up to the more actiony parts. It’s the biggest reason why I think people who only watched the 2011 adaptation should consider watching it, at least the first arc anyhow.
Now you might say something in the likes of: “Eww old art, unwatchable”. If you don’t like old anime, that’s fine. HxH’s art can definitely be off-putting to some, the color scheme tends to be very dark, and the animation is really wonky at times. But for the rest, you can enjoy one of the most atmospheric anime shows ever, in terms of both story and visuals.
In terms of animation, the actual characters are poorly drawn at times, especially in the first arc, but the show gets more consistently good art and animation as it progresses. Toward the end, I think the art is very well done and nice-looking. I much prefer the character designs of the 1999 version, they don’t look so over-the-top as they do in the 2011 adaptation.
The animation itself one of the reasons for my 8/10 score. It pales in comparison to shows like Rurouni Kenshin and YuYu Hakusho which aired years before Hunter.
The soundtrack is awesome. It fits perfectly with the show’s atmosphere. It truly is one of those soundtracks I can listen to all the way through without skipping.
I even went back to certain parts where nothing remarkable was happening, but the visuals and presentation made it awesome.
HxH has some of my favorite intros and outros, especially the second and third intros. The second in particular I consider to be a masterpiece, as it conveys what the main character of the arc goes through perfectly, and with such a distinct and neat style.
The sound effects are funky sometimes, like when Hisoka strangles Gon a balloon scratch effect plays, and you can totally tell it’s just a guy scratching a balloon :_:
The animation and sound effects don’t distract from the enjoyment for me, it’s still a definite 10/10. There’s hardly ever a dull moment in this show, especially when you take the time to invest yourself in the story.
TL;DR – Good story with solid characters, dope ass soundtrack and awesome settings with a dark and gritty atmosphere.
There are considerable differences between the adaptations, so you should watch both this, the OVAs and the remake. The OVAs continue the story where he 1999 series left off.
2: One Piece
English: One Piece
Japanese: ONE PIECE
MAL Score: 8.59
Gol D. Roger was known as the “Pirate King,” the strongest and most infamous being to have sailed the Grand Line. The capture and execution of Roger by the World Government brought a change throughout the world. His last words before his death revealed the existence of the greatest treasure in the world, One Piece. It was this revelation that brought about the Grand Age of Pirates, men who dreamed of finding One Piece—which promises an unlimited amount of riches and fame—and quite possibly the pinnacle of glory and the title of the Pirate King.
Enter Monkey D. Luffy, a 17-year-old boy who defies your standard definition of a pirate. Rather than the popular persona of a wicked, hardened, toothless pirate ransacking villages for fun, Luffy’s reason for being a pirate is one of pure wonder: the thought of an exciting adventure that leads him to intriguing people and ultimately, the promised treasure. Following in the footsteps of his childhood hero, Luffy and his crew travel across the Grand Line, experiencing crazy adventures, unveiling dark mysteries and battling strong enemies, all in order to reach the most coveted of all fortunes—One Piece.
As for the art style, it’s true, it’s completely different from almost anything else I’ve seen. Much more “cartoonish” and maybe not what you’d expect from an anime. Despite that, you end up loving it. I wouldn’t even say that you have to “get used to it” because it’s not something that detracts from the rest of the series in any way. It didn’t even take me two episodes before I was thoroughly enjoying it and seeing it as a fresh, new style, exciting almost and unlike anything I’d experienced before. Now, some 300+ episodes later, I can’t remember ever NOT liking it, or even why I would have. Especially now with One Piece being aired in high definition, the art is crisp, clean, colorful – VERY sharp and wonderful to look at.
Now that we’ve got those two points out of the way…
One Piece is actually one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, anime or otherwise. The plot is pretty basic at first. Monkey D. Luffy has just set out on his own to find the legendary treasure ‘one piece’ and become Pirate King, and he’s looking for a crew to sail with him. You’ll find yourself falling in love with each and every new member as Luffy finds them. They’re all extremely well developed, with interesting backgrounds and unique, fun personalities. They form one very quirky crew that’s always discovering new adventures and somehow getting themselves into trouble as they strive to achieve their dreams. Each main story arc introduces new minor characters as well, and they’re just as much fun and easy to fall in love with as the Straw Hat crew. Not one character is left out or feels like they’re there for no reason. Everyone has a purpose and adds to the storyline, and one of the really cool things about One Piece is that these ‘purposes’ often resurface at later points in the series. No detail is left untouched, and you’ll seriously be amazed by the way Oda threads together plots and characters and blends all their stories perfectly the more the series progresses.
The plot itself, though fairly straightforward at first like I said, quickly evolves into something HUGE. Much of the beginning of the series is dedicated to forming the crew and letting you get to know the characters, though it’s definitely never lacking in action, but once they reach the Grand Line, you’re swept up in adventure after adventure and following some of the most fantastic story arcs you’ll ever watch. The battles and fights are well-paced, with the final boss fight almost always being completely EPIC. But even through the action, One Piece never quite loses it’s lighthearted, humorous edge. The episodes are sprinkled with PLENTY of funny moments, never too many and never too few. There’s always a wonderful balance of action and humor.
One Piece also has its fair share of heart-wrenching moments, which may take you by surprise! There are some EXTREMELY powerful scenes and episodes that kind of blindside you and leave you wondering when you became quite so emotionally attached to certain characters or other things. I’ve definitely found myself near tears or actually crying at more than one point. One Piece has it all – amazing characters, the never-ending yet never TOO over-the-top humor, exciting battles, fun adventures, heartbreaking moments with quick to follow touching moments. And underneath everything, there’s always the theme of friendship and teamwork, of working to reach your dreams and helping those closest to you achieve theirs, of growing and maturing as a person and discovering the power within yourself to overcome obstacles of any sort, of just BEING THERE for the rest of your crew when they need you – of being NAKAMA.
In a word, One Piece is perfect. And perhaps I’m just biased, being an obviously OBSESSED fan at this point, haha, but what can I say? It’s been running for 344 episodes so far and not ONCE have I wondered or hoped that it would start to reach an end. It is, simply put, amazing.
So why should you watch One Piece?
Because you’re missing out on one hell of a fantastic show if you don’t at least give it a try.
But not all share the same views as I do, lets remedy that, shall we?
A long time ago, there live a fearsome pirate king who goes by the name of Gold D. Roger. He was able to attain everything. But alas he was captured and sentenced to execution. In the brink of death, he proclaimed that he left the great treasure, One Piece, somewhere in the Grand Line and it is for anyone to claim. This event ignited the Great Pirate Age.
In the world of One Piece, there is such a thing as a Devil Fruit. A devil fruit is a fruit bearing some supernatural ability and whoever devours it will get a unique ability however its origins are unknown. There are three types of Devil Fruit, Paramecia, a fruit that can materialize your body into a property. Zoan, a fruit that gives humans the ability of a certain animal, but if its an animal, it gives the ability of humans. And the last but certainly not the least Logia, is a fruit that makes the consumer manifest a certain element. But of course nothing is perfect. If you eat any of the Devil Fruit, you will be rendered immobilize when submerge in the water.
And where is our protagonist? The anime revolves around our mentally impaired boy, Monkey D. Luffy or a.k.a The Straw Hat Pirate(title came from his worn-out straw hat that he always have on). When our boy here ate a devil fruit that turns the consumer’s body into rubber, he sets off to find Shanks, his pirate idol to return his straw hat as promise and find One Piece to be able to earn the title of Pirate King. Along the way he gathers all kinds of oddballs for his crew, The Straw Hat Pirates.
Now how exactly is One Piece different from the hundreds of shounen out there. Well, it isnt. It is exactly what a shounen should be. It follows the lose-train-win formula. So how is it any better? Bingo. Because it incorporates the formula into something fresh and simple.
One Piece arcs can be surprisingly good. There were even times that I was shocked at some plot twists and revelations. It has a very interesting setting as well. And what might that be? The World. The whole world is One Piece’s oyster. It varies from vast, scorching deserts to cold snowy mountains, the concept of adventure here is well defined, it really makes you feel that world isnt small after all. And that my friend, is what an adventure anime should really be.
One Piece knows how to pull it off, be it comedy or serious, and believe me, One Piece knows how to be serious when it needs to be. But it never forgets its roots at the same time, and that is the emphasis of friendship and the bond of Nakama/Friends that glues the whole crew together.
Most shounen anime’s suffers immensely from originality. Because of this, it is hard to distinguish characters from each other, especially in my case as I have my fair share as an otaku. And most of the characters in em lack depth and substance, its hard to remember a character when you know very little about him. But One Piece is immune from this disease. Each character of One Piece is very… say….unique that you’ll find it hard to forget about them. They all have their individual motives, strengths, weakness and even quirky traits. Plus, each individual of the Straw Hat Pirate Crew has an immersing past, that’ll be hard for you not to get delve into. And they all have a certain role, not one character gets overshadowed by the other. They do meaningful interactions with each other. And regardless, that each member is vastly different from each other, they all formed a formidable bond. Even the by-passing characters are memorable.
In contrast to the majority, I find the animation to be creative. Just like how the characters are different and distinguishable. Unfortunately people see it as something of a turn off, and quickly judges One Piece as something infantile. I am not going to lie. One Piece will not go beyond the borders of a shounen. It is not mature. But thats not the point here. An anime doesnt need to be ripe to be good. It just needs to be entertaining. Although I do enjoy a deep, thought-provoking anime, an anime doesnt need to be complex to be satisfying. It can be anything, as long as it offers gratification. And One Piece does.
Another potential problem is its popularity. Most people consider mainstream anime’s to be somewhat of a failure because of its targeted demographic, and that is everyone. "If its able to attract toddlers, then it sucks" that seems to be case for most people. Some people neglect any anime that is able to summon countless little children in its area, thus abruptly convicting it as over-rated. Heck, some people even constantly hunts threads, just to be able to crack Narutard jokes off some newcomer. Do not judge One Piece from its fans. Judge it for what it is.
Do not be mistaken, I am not saying One Piece is for everyone. In the end, its all about taste. But if your have any hint of love for shounen surging in your veins, there is no reason for you not to watch this, not one bit.
In short, the plot is very promising, the main cast is several but well flesh out, the battles are very diverse, and engaging and the comedy doesnt get old, even after 300 episodes. But One Piece is not a masterpiece. It does not break any ground whatsoever. No matter how you see it, its still your typical shounen.
Regardless of this, the level of enjoyment I receive from One Piece is insurmountable. And sometimes thats all you need. Scratch that. Most of the time that’s all you need.
If I were to say anything bad (and I will have to do that as this review is not a positive one) about this anime that would not offend the hardcore fans (and I know there are a lot) is that it’s PAINFULLY slow.
Even if you leave the fillers aside, still- the plot itself progresses in such a slow pace that it’s rather hard to watch. Now for a younger audience it may not matter that much, but to me as a higher age audience, it matters greatly, after all, out of the 23~ minutes of each episode 3 are spent on opening and ending (which is usual I guess), but in most episodes, roughly 5 (!) or more minutes are spent on a recap of the current story arc, as if the creators of the show forgot it’s a shounen anime and instead got the idea that the audience are elderly people with Alzheimer.
But ok, this means there is still 15 minutes left per episode right? Well, not really. In most episodes, the heroes get separated. When they do, the anime tries to keep track of ALL of them simultaneously, cutting every few minutes. This wouldn’t be so bad IF after the cut, the same exact scene did not repeat itself (example – a few seconds that show one of the main heroes standing and looking at a place/ villain that is shown from a few angles. Then the anime continues elsewhere, and when it comes back to the same place, the same exact scene is shown). That may not sound as much, but in drastic cases that can sum up to a few minutes (the worst case I bothered to count was almost 4 minutes of time wasted on watching the same scene). Combined with a lot of other tricks, I’d say that a lot of episodes are left with about 11 minutes of actual content on average. That is simply dreadful.
Now to say some positive things for contrast- the story is actually very interesting and the characters are well done… BUT, no matter how good something is, if you drag it out too much (and this is indeed the case with One Piece), even the best story in the world and the best characters possible (not to say one piece has neither of those.. The story is great, and the characters are good, but not more) will not keep you entertained, and turn even the best story possible into a boring experience.
Now back to the negatives. NO ONE DIES IN THIS ANIME. This is of course an exaggeration, as some people actually do die in this anime BUT only when it’s critical to the plot. At all the other times, the characters “die” just to add drama and to come back a few scenes later.. Sometimes to “die” again and add even more “drama” (added “” because at this point its more awkward/silly after one time rather than dramatic). The worst case of this I saw was with Brownbeard who “died” something like 5 times over 2-3 episodes (if I remember right), and still stayed alive in the end while the show tried to suck as much drama out of this as possible. And this brings me to the next point- fake drama. They seem to try and squeeze out as much of it as possible, at every opportunity they get. From crying children (and adults) to characters repeatedly “dying” and to the most cliche tearjerkers possible at every turn of the story. They even go as far as to try and make the villain’s henchmen AND EVEN THE VILLAIN himself have a tragic past that you are supposed to relate to and feel sorry for (because seems a villain can’t just be evil because that is just the way he is, he had to become evil because something bad happened (lol, how about sheer ignorance or plain greed for wealth or power?)… and we apparently MUST know. for both villains and side characters that we’ll never even see again). Also I mentioned crying.. There is an unbelievable amount of it in this anime. And that would be ok (I guess) if
A- they did not try to milk it for drama (yep, that’s a word that sure gets a lot of use when discussing this anime huh?) every single time
B- they didn’t think that when someone cries, he instantly turns ugly, with snot running down his nose and with the worst face expression possible, regardless of gender, age or how emotional he is.
I’d say a lot more, but there is already a lot of text, and it’s enough to sum it up – this anime is not one I would recommend someone to watch under any normal circumstances (maybe only if someone made a shortened version with all the repeats, openings, endings and cuts removed thus making the whole anime be at around 300 episodes max), I watched over 600 episodes myself, and I can safely say that although some parts were enjoyable, it was mostly rather boring when looked as a whole, and especially the later episodes, and I am regretting the time I spent watching it (as to why i watched it so far- my friend recommended it to me and I did not expect it to last this long. I usually finish what I start, but this is ridiculous, bad, and really beyond me at this point.)
1: Cowboy Bebop
English: Cowboy Bebop
MAL Score: 8.77
In the year 2071, humanity has colonized several of the planets and moons of the solar system leaving the now uninhabitable surface of planet Earth behind. The Inter Solar System Police attempts to keep peace in the galaxy, aided in part by outlaw bounty hunters, referred to as “Cowboys.” The ragtag team aboard the spaceship Bebop are two such individuals.
Mellow and carefree Spike Spiegel is balanced by his boisterous, pragmatic partner Jet Black as the pair makes a living chasing bounties and collecting rewards. Thrown off course by the addition of new members that they meet in their travels—Ein, a genetically engineered, highly intelligent Welsh Corgi; femme fatale Faye Valentine, an enigmatic trickster with memory loss; and the strange computer whiz kid Edward Wong—the crew embarks on thrilling adventures that unravel each member’s dark and mysterious past little by little.
Well-balanced with high density action and light-hearted comedy, Cowboy Bebop is a space Western classic and an homage to the smooth and improvised music it is named after.
The story is set in a space western setting – a genre and setting I’m loving more and more for each show I watch that falls under the genre. We follow two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet, who own a ship called the Bebop. They travel the Solar system, chasing wanted criminals to earn money. Along the way, they also pick up two women; the debt-laden Faye Valentine and the playful kid and computer genius Edward (yes, Ed’s a girl).
Each episode brings about a new bounty which they chase after, and while that doesn’t sound too exciting to watch 26 episodes in a row, you’ll end up loving the show. All the different events makes for a certain degree of unpredictability, and you’ll sometimes wonder how things will end. However, that alone is not enough to give the story the rating I’ve given it. So why have I given that rating? Let’s continue…
One of the things that elevate the show a bit above the rest is the manner in which the main cast’s pasts are explored. It’s not like one flashback episode and you understand everything about how they are today. In one episode you might get one piece, and then the next one in another episode, and it’s not until the final three episodes of the show that everything falls in place. This way of executing it makes you want to watch another episode, so that you can find out more about the characters (some may say that this falls in under "Character", but the manner in which the pasts are explored are more "Story" than "Character", IMO). Now, that’s so far a 9 for the story. Why did it deserve a 10?
The answer is easy: the way they executed many scenes in the show. The contrasts which you get to see between, music, the setting of scenes and what’s really happening just gives the story that extra edge deserving of a perfect score.
The characters are all really good and interesting fellows. Though they every now and then reminded me of characters from other shows, they preserved that originality which gave a feel that they were, if not completely, then at least a little bit more real than most characters out there. The way their pasts intertwine with the future and how everything ends with them confronting and settling open ends from their pasts is also something that’s impressive to watch. I don’t really have anything more to say than "perfect".
The animation is, for a 90s anime, stunningly good. The detail put into backgrounds and surroundings is really good, and I also love how good lighting effects and shading are at times. All of Ed’s strange movements are animated really nicely too. If there’s something negative, it’s the somewhat dull coloring (compared to today’s standards), as well as poor effects when traveling in hyperspace.
The soundtrack is also astounding! The music used for the show is so incredibly varied, and while keeping mostly to the more jazzy tunes, the soundtrack visits so many genres that it’s hard to not like at least a few pieces. What I also loved is the way the music was used not only as a medium to go with and amplify the mood, but also as a contrast to what’s happening in several scenes. All in all, it’s really amazing. Don’t have anything to say against voice acting and other sound effects either.
All in all Cowboy Bebop is an anime that’s in the top tier on the greatness scale, and a show I believe every anime fan should give a try.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Cowboy bebop borrows much from western media and pop culture in general. his show pays homage to or references, subtly and overtly, things as disparate as Antonio Banderas, Bruce Lee, John Woo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Convoy, Biggie Smalls, Donald Duck, various mythologies and folktales, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bill Evans, Stray Cats, Alien, blaxploitation films, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Queen, George Clooney, Led Zeppelin, Django and other spaghetti westerns, Herbie Hancock, American and Japanese professional baseball, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Jean-Luc Godard, Batman, B.B. King, Beverly Hills 90210, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, The Unabomber, Heaven’s Gate and Marshall Applewhite, Kiss, film noir, The Beatles, Sleeping Beauty, Bonny & Clyde, Ziggy Stardust, Charlie Parker, Woody Allen, Star Trek, Cool Hand Luke, and Taxi Driver. I kid you not. And that’s not a complete list. References in character design and dialogue are forgivable, but when it straight up copies scenes and plots then I think it can be held against the show. I feel like I’ve seen Cowboy Bebop before, it’s just been packed into a pretty package. I enjoyed a lot of these homages, but that does not excuse the marked lack of creativity. The mere evocation of a masterpiece does not make a masterpiece. Quentin Tarantino is an example of someone who uses pastiche and cultural references well, and most importantly, his references and homages don’t make up his entire videography. There is far too little originality in Cowboy Bebop.
The fact is that Cowboy Bebop is the epitome of style over substance. I can appreciate it for its audiovisuals, but, to me, a show needs more than that to be a true masterpiece. Make no mistake though, it does have some of the best audiovisuals I’ve ever seen, and could arguably be considered a must-watch for that alone. The OST is good (despite also being a tad overrated,) the art is great, and the animation is extremely fluid. It should also be noted that Cowboy Bebop is one of the few anime that holds the distinction of having an English dub superior to the original Japanese. The atmosphere that the audiovisuals achieve is their greatest quality, and is distinct in almost every different setting. This is not done well in most space travel anime, and I have to applaud Cowboy Bebop for that achievement at least.
The main storyline consists of about 5 episodes, the rest of them being episodic individual stories. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the episodic stories were hit or miss, and they never measured up to the main plot. Some of the non-main episodes focus on a character and their past, and this is good, but most of them are completely pointless and could be removed without anybody noticing. One of them was about fighting an alien-fungus-fridge-monster, it was an interesting and silly parody of Alien, but it contributed nothing to plot or character development. Considering how character driven this show is, that’s a problem. There was also an entire episode paying homage to blaxploitation. Seeing as the allusion was presented in a more original way, and the episode showed a lot about Ed’s character, that one was not only forgivable, but it was one of my favorite episodes. Like I said, hit or miss. There is an episode about catching a super-dog. There is an episode about a virus that turns people into monkeys. There is an episode where they chase a bomber (Woody Allen) with some help from a transsexual looking trucker. At least 4 episodes were easily 10s, but more of them were closer to 5s. The first 4 episodes were particularly weak, which is a huge problem in a 2 cour anime. The anime may have had a good conclusion, but the sub-par exposition cannot be ignored.
The main crew was made up of interesting and entertaining characters, and they prevented the episodic nature of the show from being a complete flop, although there were some unanswered questions about Faye’s past in particular. Actually, strangely enough, the unanswered questions contributed to the splendid atmosphere. Everything had a rich backstory, but few flashbacks and no infodumps. This helped give the show its characteristic nostalgic atmosphere. One complaint I would have is that the main antagonist is simply not compelling, his motivations are somewhat unclear, and he’s just one dimensional. He also uses a katana, even though it’s the future, and somehow still manages to kick ass. He’s just very cliché and lame. The antagonist in the movie was very well done with his depth, motives, and parallels to Spike, and that makes me wish Vicious got the same treatment, as it would fit his character far better, and his character is far more important.
One thing you should understand is that the characters are often good examples of clichés done well. Jet, for instance, is the typical hard-boiled former cop, but he is also the most empathetic of the crew. He is a foil to Spike and is hard working, but they also parallel in many ways. Ed is the teen genius/tomboy and hacker with little depth, but she also serves as a foil to Spike and many of his views on life. Faye is like a mix of all of the other characters’ worst traits in terms of personality, but she still manages to be a sympathetic character. In fact, even though she keeps up her unpleasant exterior and despite her being the anime’s main source of fanservice, she arguably experiences more development than any other character. Still, they lack any sort of real innovation, in anime or otherwise.
Despite all my criticisms, Cowboy Bebop is cool. It’s very cool. The characters and aesthetics were compelling (for the most part) to the point where I even enjoyed some of the admittedly weaker episodes. I can’t give it a 10, it’s simply not a masterpiece. I can’t give it a 9, it’s not truly great. I can’t give it an 8, it’s too flawed and unoriginal. I don’t want to give it a 7, it was just too inconsistent. I have to settle on a 6.7 or so, which could be rounded either way. That said, an average of my story, art, sound, and character scores did give me around a 7.2.
Cowboy Bebop is enjoyable and it has wide appeal; I would probably recommend it to just about anybody. It was up and down in terms of quality, and it was similar to a slice-of-life in its episodic and relaxed nature and its lack of an explosive climax, but it was good. I liked how the anime takes place after the “important part” of the main characters’ lives is over, and nostalgia becomes a huge theme, seeing as it was the first anime I ever watched and it thus evokes a huge sense of nostalgia for me anyway. I loved the laid back atmosphere. The problem is that after looking through all of the episodes and rating them individually, I realized that the majority of it was nothing special. With a little restraint and reworking, Cowboy Bebop could have been the masterpiece that it is widely regarded as, and it does hold a special place in my heart regardless, even if that is only due to it being my first anime. That bias is probably why I choose to round the score to 7, rather than to 6, despite the fact that the latter is typically the better practice.
I am always willing to defend and justify my scores so leave me a comment if you disagree, and tell me why I’m wrong. I say that because this does seem to be a pretty uncommon score, even among those whose opinions I have great respect for. Keep in mind that a 7 is a generous and good score in any case.
“Fuck you! Cowboy Bebop is a classic! You’re not allowed to criticize it!”
The more astute viewers will note that I scored the series a 6, but the movie a 9. I kind of like Cowboy Bebop. It does do some things very right. It had the potential to be one of the greatest franchises ever. Alas, while its production values are unmatched, the writing . . . doesn’t always match up with the production. Because of this, the series ended up being a style-over-substance experience for me, but why was that?
The premise of CB is that in the late 21st century, mankind has started living in places in the solar system besides Earth. In this future are bounty hunters known as Cowboys. Cowboys do whatever they can to make cash to keep the food stockpile stocked and their spaceships running. The show follows one such group of Cowboys who pilot a ship called the Bebop. In the beginning, we meet Spike Spiegel, a former gangster, and Jet Black, a former cop. As the series progresses, the Bebop also has Ein, a super smart dog, Faye Valentine, a woman on the run, and Edward, a really, really, REALLY weird hacker girl. Cowboy Bebop has been described as a series that has a continuous plot, and has standalone episodes at the same time. Having seen the series, I can tell you that technically, most of the episodes aren’t standalone, but many of them are only connected by the core characters.
Here’s where one of my problems lie. When Cowboy Bebop is good, it’s really good. The setting is very mature; it never condescends to the audience. The action scenes are superbly well done, the dialog is believable (though cheesy at times), and the atmosphere really pulls you in. How many episodes are actually really good? Seven. If you count the movie as an episode, that brings it up to eight. Eight out of twenty-seven episodes were good. The rest were not.
The problem with most of the episodes is one of two things: one, it’s really boring, or, two, it’s so clichéd, you will be able to predict exactly what happens by the end after the first two minutes, or both. I have to be honest, a lot of the episodes of CB are just plain boring. If this wasn’t a “classic” and a more ordinary anime series, a lot of them would be branded as what they truly are; filler episodes. And if it’s not boring filler, it’s hackneyed.
Watanabe is known for being a huge fan of American cinema, and that’s obvious in CB. Unfortunately, he ripped off a lot of American movies virtually piecemeal. Now, you may not suspect it, but I am more knowledgeable of American cinema than I am Japanese animation. To describe it as best I can without spoiling, if you have seen at least one movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, John Woo, and Michael Mann, then you have already seen Cowboy Bebop in another format. This is actually a clever trick though; most anime fans reject Western pop culture, and may not notice this when watching CB, so they’ll think it’s “fresh” and “original”, when it’s fact, it’s actually MORE clichéd then most anime. But hey, when CB is exciting and isn’t (too) blatantly ripping off Hollywood, it’s worth watching.
At least, when the worthwhile characters are onscreen. I like the main character Spike a lot. He is the embodiment of cool, like a 21st century version of Steve McQueen. He’s cool, but he’s very human too. He’s reckless, he makes mistakes, but he knows how to charm people, and he also knows how to beat his targets. I also like Jet. He’s a constant worrywart, which is a funny contrast to his rough appearance. Some of the incidental characters are memorable too, (but usually only in the good episodes and movie). Something else I liked was the Bebop crew was not always a stable group, or nakama you could say. In most anime, when the heroes band together, nothing ever separates them. That doesn’t happen in CB. Sometimes, the crew gets in arguments, and sometimes, one of them will leave the Bebop for a time, and so on. It’s a touch of realism I appreciate.
However, some of the characters didn’t click with me. I never really cared for Faye. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t really care for her either. Edward is amusing, but she feels out of place in a series like this. The incidental characters in the less memorable episodes are just that, unmemorable. However, what I’m about to print in the next paragraph will anger thousands, possibly millions. (And maybe make hundreds say “Right on!”) Mind you, it’s just my opinion. Everything I print in these reviews is just my opinion; you don’t have to take it personally, but the following opinion of mine needs to be said:
Vicious is one of the lamest villains ever.
The main antagonist is a man known as Vicious, someone who’s still a part of the gang Spike came from. He’s cunning, ruthless . . . and is absolutely lame. What’s his motive? Does he just want power, or to mess with people? Even if so, why is he so boring to watch? The villain from the movie was a lot more interesting. Overall, you got two really good protagonists, some interesting chemistry between the protagonists, one-shot characters who are either interesting or not, and a forgettable antagonist. Yay.
And I haven’t even touched upon the ending yet! Short version, I don’t like CB’s ending. (More flames incoming! Duck and cover!) Now, the ending is not quite as bad as the ending for, say, Akira, or the anime version of Chobits. It does have a sense of finality to it, something most anime endings don’t have. However, I did not find it “legendary.” I found it disappointing. First of all, the ending is extremely predictable. It’s virtually telegraphed to you before it even happens. Not only that, when I saw it, my reaction was, ” . . . that’s it? Seriously, that’s IT?”
But I better move on to CB’s technical aspects before I get too letdown. Its artistry leaves no complaints. CB is probably the best-looking pre-digital anime I’ve ever seen. Even if you were to remake the series with digital enhancements, I doubt you could make it look better than it already is. Sumptuous backgrounds, top-notch character art, animation that ranges from above-average to really good, no off-model shots, this is a visual feast. The movie looks even better. It’s obvious a lot of care was put into the visuals of CB. My only being the primitive CGI, but you get used to it.
And now we touch upon CB’s greatest aspect; its soundtrack. It’s the sort of the soundtrack that makes you go, “Ah yeah, baby!” This is why you watch CB, the music. The music is the magnum opus of Yoko Kanno. A combination of jazz, blues, and rock, but it isn’t just any old jazz, blues, and rock, it’s GOOD jazz, blues, and rock. Everything from the opening, to the incidental music, to the endings, you get music that will set your soul on fire. The only anime I’ve seen whose soundtrack could rival CB’s is Death Note’s. Something I noticed about CB’s soundtrack is the music sounds more like music from albums rather than typical soundtrack music. Another smart move; most people are accustomed to listening to music from CD and MP3 albums as opposed to soundtracks, so when they hear CB’s music, it’ll be more familiar-sounding than most other anime soundtracks. Regardless, even if you hate CB, you gotta score this music.
CB is also famous for having what is perhaps the oldest English dub for an anime series that is considered god-like. I saw this on Adult Swim, and I can safely say, this is another masterpiece from Bandai and Bang Zoom. Every character sounds like how you would imagine them to, and the voices are neither wooden nor over-acted. All the different accents the characters have sound really cool too. I did sample the Japanese dub on the movie, and I will say, Spike and Jet sound really good in both Japanese and English, but I will never get used to Faye’s Japanese voice. Yeah, this is one you gotta see in English. (Though in retrospect, the Japanese performances aren’t bad, it just doesn’t click like the English dub)
While CB is still often regarded as a classic, I’m not the first to criticize it like so. There has been some backlash against CB in recent years. Some people complain it’s not “Japanese-y” enough, that it’s too Western. I mentioned that earlier, but there is another anime I’ve seen, Baccano, which is also very similar to American movies, but it was consistently entertaining, and not as predictable as CB, so I did not mind. Others have mentioned the same things I have, that it’s boring, the plot isn’t strong enough, it’s style over substance. This isn’t a disaster by any means, but I do have to say that, outside of the production values, CB is one of the most overrated anime I’ve seen. It’s not one of the worst, certainly not, but it’s not quite the experience I was promised either. To put it in other words, there were some episodes that I would score a 4 out of 10. And yet, there are some episodes, including the movie, that I would score a 9 out of 10. The 6 overall is just from mixing the good episodes with the bad.
I like to imagine that in an alternate dimension, CB was an OVA series instead of a tv series. All the episodes I do like, (# 2, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, and 22) were released on separate OVAs, as well as a few others to bridge the plot gaps. Then a theatrical came out (Knocking on Heaven’s Door), and then another to end it all (The Real Folk Blues, albeit with a revised conclusion), and it would be grandiose. Alas, I don’t live in that universe. Hey, Shinichiro Watanabe likes drawing influence from Hollywood, right? What’s something it’s doing a lot of right now? Continuity reboots? He could still do that. I can dream, can’t I?
EDIT: This review was revised on 9/17/2015 to be less awkward to read.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Cowboy Bebop
2. One Piece
3. Hunter x Hunter
4. Digimon Adventure
5. Turn A Gundam
6. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
7. Master Keaton
8. Gokudou-kun Manyuuki
9. Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne