They’re the best Anime that 2002 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Ou Dorobou Jing, Groove Adventure Rave, Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!, and more!
10: Ou Dorobou Jing
English: Jing: King of Bandits
Japanese: 王ドロボウ JING
MAL Score: 7.22
Jing may appear to be a young boy, but his remarkable skills make him one of the most feared thieves on the planet. Along with his feathered partner Kir, Jing travels from town to town, stealing anything of value regardless of the amount of security. But when he’s in a pinch, he has one more trick up his sleeve: Kir bonds with Jing’s right arm to perform the effectively deadly “Kir Royale” attack. And because of all this, Jing is infamously known by many as the “King of Bandits.”
The story was very intersting about some Bandit King thief named Jing that steal something each ep that not ordinary human can steal,well each ep is intersting and it never get me boring to watch it.
Well the art is old but its still good art it was used to be before,compared to the OVA of KOBJ ,the ova has better art,since its newer,but the art is still very good.
The sound was very great,the opening and ending songs were very good,the effects too,the BGM music was good as well,most of the music bgm and opening ,ending songs was by the band Scudelia Electro.
The characters were amazing Jing is very amazing teenager
hes not pervent,hes interesting and mysterious,Kir is a cute character too,hes a pervent but very funny.
I am very enjoyed the anime,after watching about 10-12 times already,I know it for sure.Each episode of the animes is intersting and have it own story,well all I can that this anime amazing.
This anime have a lot of good things,so this animes get 10.
Was there one? As from wiki “King of Bandits Jing is a series of short, usually disconnected stories starring the young boy who calls himself Jing, the Bandit King. Although Jing’s reputation seems to extend throughout the universe of the series, many enemies underestimate him, not expecting the “great” King of Bandits to be a “little kid”.”
Quite accurate, a different story each episode. I admit, a few episodes did have a bit of charm to them, and the short romances that Jing experiences in the series were somewhat cute, but that’s all the series gives. A light story, that allowed the creators to put little thought into the series. It can work, and I’ve seen it work, but Jing does not pull it off in a way I found satisfactory.
Though art, as is most things, is down to the viewers taste, I don’t have much complaints about it. It’s wasn’t great, but I was happy with it. I’ll leave it at that.
I found the music, the opening especially, to be very standard. Nothing stuck out all that well to me, and I was happy to skip it while watching. Overall, I don’t particularly remember any of the music, nor am I bothered by this.
I actually found the characters really boring, Jing was a ‘cool’ young dude who didn’t say much, somewhat carefree even. But nothing original really made me interested in his character. As for that stupid bird that followed him, all I could think of was that annoying parrot from ‘Aladdin’. Minor characters that Jing ran into in the series did have a bit of appeal, but again, nothing really interested me or stuck out as original. I didn’t even find them to be well done cliche’s.
Some episodes entertained me, strangely enough one would be the episode with the Ghost Ship. I have been complaining about cliche’s but sometimes they can appeal. A little, anyway.
Each episode left me with a feeling of disappointment, and sometimes confusion. I had no idea where the series was headed, and the ‘ending’ if you call it that was completely unimpressive. If you want a light-hearted series that doesn’t demand much attention, however, then perhaps you should try it out. I’d imagine it may also very suitable for younger viewers, but it’s nothing special.
When I started watching I kind of got the feeling, that watching all the episodes in a row might take away some of the feeling of the anime, because the episodes are in most cases unconnected. For that reason I wasn’t really captivated by the anime. Starting from episode 6 though, it got alot more interesting and I started to really enjoy it. It was alot of fun to watch and the characters are totally amazing. With some difficulties at the beginning, the anime ended up being really great and I can only recommend it. It might not be a masterpiece, but it is definitely worth watching.
9: Groove Adventure Rave
English: Rave Master
MAL Score: 7.24
Fifty years ago, malevolent stones known as Dark Brings brought about the “Overdrive,” a calamitous event that destroyed one-tenth of the world. In the present day, the nefarious organization Demon Card seeks the Dark Brings’ power for their all but innocent intentions.
Haru Glory, a sword-wielding silver-haired teenager, inherits the title of Rave Master: the person who wields the power of the legendary Rave Stones, artifacts capable of destroying the Dark Brings. However, the many Rave Stones were scattered across the globe as a result of the Overdrive, allowing Demon Card to continue their malpractices.
Groove Adventure Rave follows Haru, his strange dog Plue, the fiery blonde Ellie, and the infamous thief Musica, as they embark on a great journey that will take them around the vast world, searching for the Rave Stones that will finally end Demon Card’s injustice.
The genres include: shounen, comedy, action, adventure and drama.
Groove Adventure Rave doesn’t have the most original story. It’s roughly like this: Haru Glory, a 16 years old “Rave Master”, must collect all five Rave-stones to prevent the world from being destroyed by the terrifying power of Darkbring, which caused Overdrive, a huge explosion which destroyed 1/10 of the world 50 years before. So, basically Groove Adventure Rave seems like your average collect-’em-all anime where the main character grows with every item he finds. And, yeah, that’s basically it, but there are also very interesting back stories and under it’s stupid upper layer, there is an interesting story for the ones that start watching “Rave”, but I can’t go into it further without spoiling.
The art for Groove Adventure Rave is above average. It’s nice and fluid, but the producers didn’t think much about the backgrounds that sometimes look pretty awful. They stuck to the original designs by Mashima Hiro very well, and the art catches the goofyness of the anime.
Not much to say here. The BGM is pretty bland, and the OP’s and ED’s are pretty boring. The voice actors on another hand were very good. Especially Tomokazu Seki as the main character Haru Glory.
The characters for Groove Adventure Rave are very good.
The main characters are Haru Glory: the Rave Master who has to collect the five Rave-stones to save the world (he is pretty much your average shounen male lead who gets stronger and stronger in order to beat the bad guys), Elie: the mysterious beauty with amnesia trying to remember who she is (the most interesting character whose past is unknown), and Musica: a Silver Claimer (meaning he can bend and shape silver as he wants) who is searching for a very special ship (your regular, arrogant cool-looking guy).
Despite it’s lacking story, I really enjoyed Groove Adventure Rave. The last arc was not as good as the others but is still very good. I was entertained the whole way and I definitely recommend Groove Adventure Rave to anyone who’s just looking for a fun anime to watch.
Groove Adventure Rave is a shounen-anime, and a good one at that, but it’s not the best one ever. Remind yourself of that before watching it. Still, Groove Adventure Rave is a very good anime and will keep you glad for a while.
I hope you found my review helpful, and if you didn’t please tell me why, so I can improve myself until next time.
Elie has lost her memory and she is trying to retrace her steps to get her memory back. Both characters awkwardly meet and agree to help each other out.
The drawing is not all there but the story and gags kind of help in my opinion, as you will understand once you watch it that some scenes seem as though they are from dbz and some are just too far fetched.
All in all I give it an 8 and it is worth watching in my opinion. Just don’t be too picky.
The story is very typical as its just a certain boy who is destine to go and stop a great evil but must collect something in order to get stronger and stop it. So why is this enjoyable? I’ll tell you why its because of its back story and how the plot progresses. There is so much back story that explains what going on and goes deep to make this not bland and shows a lot of time is put into this. As the plot goes on, the objective changes. Collecting rave stones is still there but its how they collect them that is change and that I’m not gonna spoil it, but lets just say its surprising even to me. This clearly show that this is gonna last like 100 more episodes but then they end it with a cliffhanger. I ask why!? How come this show doesn’t get more episodes like fairy tale as that still ongoing and lets not forget this is base off the manga of the same creator who made the fairy tale manga that the anime fairy tale is base on. I should also say that the anime is a little different to the manga which might disappoint some people who read it but to me its not a huge deal as I expected this but at least give it a non open ending! Now I know people might say its glad to end it because it might of drag like the other ongoing shonen jump titles and I can understand that but not to me. Also if you wan’t all the answers to certain plot points they mention, you’ll have to read the manga and I hated when they do that! So overall the plot I say its good but could of been great if they ending wasn’t so open and gives the answers to are questions.
The art is generic but is above generic. The characters looks is just like the manga which is nice. The animation is also very fluid and seems to be done well. But the backgrounds looks very crappy as not a lot of detail goes into them. So overall the art is very good and fits well.
The score is pretty decent. The BGM is pretty bland but fits when it comes to humor and serious moments. The ops and eds are good and can be pretty catchy. In the english dub version we don’t get but the score use really show they care. The BGM in that fits since the anime is goofy and seems to go well in the scene but its still pretty bland. The op they use is just one of the best dub themes I heard. Well to me anyway. So I give both of the music a score of 8 as they both might have some music you’ll like.
English dub vs english subs:
Now the subs is really well acted as Tomokazu does a good job of being Haru as he captures his personality very well. There is also Ayako who voice Elie which really capture her sprite and dignity even when she doesn’t know who she is. The rest also did a good job so no need to go in detail but what about the dubs. For one thing it is very corny almost to the point of bad and seems to be for kids(which is no surprise since this is licence by Tokyo pop and this aired in cartoon network) but thats the charm of it. The actors manage to work around it. And I notice that one of them is voice by Tom Kenny who voice spongebob and he fits so well with the scripts he is given. Also I notice that the jokes are very funny to make a teen laugh. So I say check the dub but if you can’t stand those kinds dub then stick to the subs.
Winner: English dub if you are into funny goofy stuff, Or Subs if you wan’t well acted voice works.
Now the characters are pretty generic at first. They all basically follow a certain shonen stereotype as we seen in many other shonen anime. But as the plot goes on, it give lots of development for are characters. Plus there is also some things we don’t know about them which keeps us hook to these characters and hope we get the answers. One example is Elie as the more close she wants to know who she is, the more we wan’t to know. The villains show a lot of threat and plus some show that they might be good but we don’t see that until its shown. But there are some characters we don’t get the full knowing of them which is a shame because I’m really interested into these characters. So overall the characters are not as generic as you think and you’ll probably have one of these as your favorites.
Rave master is a shonen anime you should check out. It will keep you happy but its not great do to some lacking in areas like in plot. But give this a watch as this is one of the better shonen animes out there.
Overall:8/10 This is the greatest anime
8: Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!
English: Mirmo Zibang!
Japanese: わがまま☆フェアリー ミルモでポン!
MAL Score: 7.29
Kaede is a cheerful and energetic eighth grader. When it comes to boys, however, she is hopelessly shy.
One day, on her way home from school, Kaede walks into a mysterious shop and buys a colorful cocoa mug. When she reaches home, she casually peeks into the bottom of the mug and discovers an engraved note, which says, “If you read this message aloud while pouring hot cocoa into the mug, a love fairy (“muglox”) will appear and grant your every wish.” The skeptical but curious Kaede follows the directions and announces her wish to date Yuuki, the class heartthrob. Suddenly, the adorable blue Mirumo appears! We soon find out, however, that this cute little muglox would rather eat chocolate and create mischief than help Kaede.
Mirumo, it seems, is prince of the muglox world. Horrified at the prospect of having to marry Rirumu, his princess bride-to-be, Mirumo has escaped the muglox world. Hot on his heels, however, are Rirumu, Yashichi the bounty hunter, and a cast of hundreds of muglox ranging from the good to the bad to the nutty. This gang of adorable troublemakers will see to it that school life for Kaede and her friends is never the same…
Wagamama Fairy Mirumo De Pon is one of my most favorite Animes, of all time!! When I was younger, I would quickly change the channel into where Mirumo De Pon is airing. If I don’t watch a single episode in one day, I’d cry (Lol i’m too dramatic, huh?)
Anyway, this anime made me enjoy my childhood days. It’s the first reason why I would finish my homework before the episode starts.
Although I hated some of the characters (like AZUMI & HARUKA..) but I enjoyed it very well. I first wanted to have my own muglox. LOL.
Overall, I enjoyed it. I hope to see more anime like this!
A few days ago, I decided to watch around 12 episodes again. A few episodes from each season. They were still as fresh as ever, although I found it hard to find the still-working links. The story was mainly about the antics of our gang, along with their cute coffee-cup fairies that changed their lives forever.
After a few comparisons of anime from a few years ago, I noticed that it was pretty solid for its time. The “Moe Revolution” was still climbing, so it was a little ahead of its time, so to speak. Although I don’t think it would appeal very much nowadays.
The sound was also pretty nostalgic. I remember the feeling of dancing to the theme song of Mirumo, and also joining the dance along when he transformed. I could tell from it’s own OP and ED that it was meant for kids, so I don’t think it would appeal to teenagers, unless your like me, who had grown up with Mirumo. But just as the art, it would probably not appeal as much anymore, as it did back then.
*sigh*… I can’t really seem to put off my own personal experience with Mirumo as I write this, so I don’t think it would help that much. But anyway, the verdict. I wouldn’t really recommend this now, since there are a bunch of other anime that would be a better watch, but if your just looking for a cute little piece of history to pass the time, then go ahead.
7: Shin Chou Kyou Ryo: Condor Hero
English: The Legend of Condor Hero
Japanese: 神鵰侠侶 コンドルヒーロー
MAL Score: 7.34
Youka is a young 13-year-old boy. One day, his Uncle, Kakusei, has him follow in his steps of martial arts and has him study the art of Zenshinkyou. After being mistreated, Youka runs away Zenshinkyou. He stumbles on a Forbidden Tomb where he finds a beautiful young woman, by the name of Shouryuujo. After a short time, Youka is eventually accepted by Shouryuujo to study the techniques of the Koboha under her, and thus begins their adventure through martial arts and love.
*Please note that only season 1 was voiced in Japanese but all 3 seasons have been Chinese dubbed.*
Before proceeding with the actual review of this anime, I would like to clarify the name of the story. Based on the original novel written in the late 1950s, this story should be called The Return of the Condor Heroes. But somewhere along the way, the Japanese decided to change the name to Legend of Condor Hero, which to add on to the confusion is the same name as the prequel story to the story that this anime is based upon. So to sum this up, Legend of Condor Hero (anime) does NOT equal to the actual Legend of Condor Hero, but in fact, the anime is the sequel to the Legend of Condor Hero. For those who can read Kanji, check this out and everything should be clear.
The Legend of Condor Hero is, to many Chinese, the Romeo and Juliet of the West. Not because the story have much in common, but rather it is the reputation that it earned over the last 50 years as a romance story. You can literally go walk to a Chinese and ask them the story of Legend of Condor Hero and 90% of the time they will be able to tell you something about it.
The story revolves around Yang Guo and his lover Xiao Long Nu in their adventure against the dominating Mongolian Empire (~1250 AD) under Genghis Khan’s grandson. However, what really captivates viewer to this story is the taboo/forbidden love between the two as one is the master and the other is the apprentice.
While the anime adaptation follows the actual story quite closely, there were some missing characters here and there (for example, Sha Gu played a key role in providing the background story of Yang Guo’s deceased father, but she was completely taken out in the anime). However, I was glad that the production crew did a good job with the crucial Battle of Xiangyang as that was the "heart" of the story in the actual novel.
Since I have personally read the entire trilogy -the official Chinese novels- of the Condor series (The Legend of the Condor Heroes, The Return of the Condor Heroes, and The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber), I was expecting a lot from this anime. It failed me in many ways, from the poor animation quality, to the overly repetitive scenes and soundtracks. All in all, it was fairly decent in terms of story retelling, but for an anime in this day and age it certainly can be a whole lot better.
The OP and ED are addictive.
Hotness: very intense forbidden and pure love.
Bishounen: The main lead is a cutie. He could have been more intelligent and more sensitive though.
After dedicating myself to all 3 seasons , the anime has played a role in showing the realization that best story are not only to be told from Japan, for it can also be found from other countries as well. It is not a simple task to win over this in terms of story plot.
My review of this anime series (all seasons):
Story S1 + S2 10/10
Completely mindblown Jin Yong is a masterpiece. Story flows consistently well from the start until the end. All main and supporting characters plays an essential role, some sticking to the series until the very end, including the big bird in the opening song. Character grows over each seasons. The naive and childish Yang Gua in S1, evolving into a legendary, matured man in S3. Yang Gua and Xiao Lung Nu love to each other: lovely and pure.
Story S3 8/10
Disappointed with the last few episodes.
Animation and soundtracks S1 6/10
Decent designs, just not up to today’s standard. Love both the OP and ED. Japanese dub is average.
Animation and soundtracks S2 + S3 5/10
1)Animation doesn’t look like much effort is inserted. Crushing sea water onto ship looks like mountain emerging from the bottom. 2)Repetitive long flashbacks, flashback of Yang Gua rescuing Huang Rong shown twice. 3)Certain scenes repeated broken soundtracks. OP and ED songs changed yet uses S1 OP animation, doesn’t fit.
Cantonese dub is otherwise, good. Perfectly fits the character. Made me laugh.
Because of the story.
Overall 10/10 (ignoring animation and sound)
Love it. Lots of meaningful messages to the audiences: grow over mistakes, independent life, knowing when to stop, never stop learning, be helpful, be a good example, forgive and forget, etc.
I give my credits to the author Jin Yong for introducing such an amazing story. Also a big thanks to the production staff for making an anime version of the Condor Hero series. Have no regret watching it. One of the world’s greatest ancient chinese story ever told!
MAL Score: 7.35
Pokemon are peculiar creatures with a vast array of different abilities and appearances; many people, known as Pokemon trainers, capture and train them, often with the intent of battling others. Young Satoshi has not only dreamed of becoming a Pokemon trainer but also a “Pokemon Master,” and on the arrival of his 10th birthday, he finally has a chance to make that dream a reality. Unfortunately for him, all three Pokemon available to beginning trainers have already been claimed and only Pikachu, a rebellious Electric type Pokemon, remains. However, this chance encounter would mark the start of a lifelong friendship and an epic adventure!
Setting off on a journey to become the very best, Satoshi and Pikachu travel across beautiful, sprawling regions with their friends Kasumi, a Water type trainer, and Takeshi, a Rock type trainer. But danger lurks around every corner. The infamous Team Rocket is always nearby, seeking to steal powerful Pokemon through nefarious schemes. It’ll be up to Satoshi and his friends to thwart their efforts as he also strives to earn the eight Pokemon Gym Badges he’ll need to challenge the Pokemon League, and eventually claim the title of Pokemon Master.
Pokemon works with a re-use formula, the story is long, it is repetitive, it doesn’t progress in any way because development doesn’t really happen.
Art and sound is mediocre as it is a mass-produced anime. Production costs would have been sky-high if they spent any more money on it, and it shows.
The characters are pretty two-dimensional. They aren’t deep, you don’t go into their heads, and they’re all about 11-15 years old but all act the same.
But why do I love this anime so much?? I was obsessed with it as a child, and it still has a warm place in my heart. I think it’s a perfect anime for children because it teaches them some good lessons: try to be the best, do the right thing, and your friends and family are the most important people in your life.
Only unfabulously mean people hate on Pokemon. You know they all watched it and liked it as a child, but my, how uppity we have all become. If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to go back to when anime was about adventure and friendship and silliness, then Pokemon is for you. It’s also a harmless, fun anime for your kids, too. So I totally recommend it. Fabulous, it is.
It starts out with a tiny step, like most other journeys. Our hero, Ash Ketchum, has high dreams of becoming the ultimate Pokemon trainer (I’ll refrain from explaining that to you), and he starts out by sleeping in too late! before logn however, he’s gotten his first (reluctant) Pokemon, everyone’s favorite mouse Pikachu, and they’re off on their epic journey!
The shows brings out an epic adventure of friendship, harsh battles and whatnot; everything you’d expect from a shonen that’s aimed at the younger kids. It isn’t that great however, as it gets very repetitive after a while; a Pokemon/person of the day formula with some kind of problem that always ends well. And that’s what most of the episodes contain, with a small bit of getting further on their journey every now and then.
Animation-wise, the show doesn’t feature anything boastable, with flat character designs, okay backgrounds and no spectacular special effects at all. Was it because of budget restrictions (it is a pretty long anime, after all), or was it because the producers knew the kids they were aiming the show at didn’t care anyway? Well, whatever it was, the animation isn’t anything to brag about.
The soundtrack is what you’d expect of such a show; adventurous opening themes, background music that’s supposed to get you into the fighting/comedic mood, and a variety of sound effects to use for all the moves and whatnot you’ll see. The voice acting is decent, but honestly – my unability to cope with dubs in anime pretty much wins over my nostalgia here, and that is the main reason I stopped watching the show some time ago.
The characters are, well, what you’d expect from a shonen. The rash, headstrong main character and his oh-so-arrogant rival, and the people he travels with; the older, more reasonable (mostly) fellow, and of course, the tomboyish girl with whome he argues a lot. Yup, that’s shonen for ya. The main comedic relief of the series, the Team Rocket trio, is actually a pretty entertaining one. Despite constantly neglecting to look over their mistakes and realise that every one of their contraptions fail against Ash and company, they keep on trying, knowing thinking that their boss will reward them greatly of they bring him the Pikachu. I like their stupid enthusiasm a lot, and their scenes are often among amogn the better ones in the series.
So… Pokemon is basically a cliche-ridden shonen with no real thing to make it stand out. Wait… that can’t be right? What about all the kids that love it? And what of all the others that love it? One of the things, I believe, is the adventurous feel of the series; who wouldn’t want to experience such an epic adventure for themselves? (I know I want to, at least!) Not to mention, the great values of friendship, loyalty and trust which are presented to the viewers. That is one thing that makes Pokemon so great, and I’d try to get any kid into the show becasue of that reason alone. And that’s what there is to say about Pokemon, actually.
The animation was great for its time, and the songs were very addictive. It was obvious that everybody that saw the show enjoyed it very much, myself included. And to this day, over 10 years after the debut of Pokemon, they are still able to sell merchandise.
But what created the downfall of the series was that it never ended! The show could’ve easily ended at the end of episode 84, with the end of the Pokemon League. They could’ve said “Since that day, Ash trained hard to be a master.” and then show him as a master. But no, the episodes just keep coming and coming. Johto was cool because of showing new pokemon, but when they repeated the trend of “new pokemon lolz” it got old really quick. And not mention that Ash never matured. He had a birthday one episode and in the 3rd movie he exclaimed that he and Pikachu have been together for a year. But at the start of Diamond and Pearl Ash was mentioned to be 10 years old again. Inconsistency is bad if you want to keep your audience.
It still find myself rewatching the first few seasons of Pokemon and hugging my pikachu pillow. But the new episodes these days just don’t have the same atmosphere as the old show and it is hard to watch it without booing the lack-luster effort that gets put into each episode. But Pokemon will always have an unforgettable place in my heart and (ignoring anything past the Johto season) for that I give it an 8/10.
5: Patapata Hikousen no Bouken
MAL Score: 7.56
Jane’s mother dies when she is born, and her father, a rich English aristocrat, soon remarries to a woman with a son, William, who despises his new father and brother. George and Jane grow up with a dream to make a flying machine. George believes the distant Asian sands hold a secret: a mysterious cerulean sand which can make machines fly. He goes on an expedition to find it, and soon is reported executed for treason. William disappears too. After she recieves an unsigned letter holding a handful of pale-blue sand which floats in the air, Jane is sure her brother is alive and leaves to the East to find him and prove him innocent. There are many mysteries to unravel in store for Jane and her new friends on her journey. But perhaps a mystery should forever remain a mystery…
I found Patapata Hikousen no Bouken to be a very enjoyable anime. The characters swept me off my feet right from the start, and the story was just as good. This would be a good show to watch with the family; adults can find several hints at the ending that would be missed by children, and there is little swearing, and no nudity.
The plot had many twists and turns that made each episode interesting in its own way. Most of the twists were minor, not really necessary, but they were excellent opportunities to showcase character development, which was done beautifully. The one problem I have with the plot is that I was able to guess who the evil mastermind was by episode three, although I had to wait twenty episodes to confirm my suspicions.
The characters were what really made this show shine. I even shed a few tears over their pain, which I don’t normally do. Every character displays depth, and most develop as the series progresses. Certainly all of the main characters do. Even the aforementioned evil mastermind changes, perhaps more than some. It is also possible to feel sympathy for the evil mastermind, once they have been unveiled. I found that difficult, but I can see how it would be possible. Most of the characters also have a backstory, which makes them more realistic.
This is an older style anime, which is perfect for the time period, but that isn’t my preferred style. The scenery is amazing, but the characters look a little young for their ages.
Overall, I liked the music, but I have to admit that nothing really stood out to me. On the other hand, I found nothing that repulsed me either, so this gets a high rating. One note on the theme song: While the music is the same, the pictures do change, and are mostly clips from the show.
This show hooked me from the very beginning, and kept me entertained the entire way. It made me laugh out loud, cry like a toddler, and left me wishing for a sequel. I could have watched another three dozen episodes about the characters. This one gets top marks.
I define a solid action adventure by two primary metrics: 1) having tension, creative set pieces, and varied, interesting locations in the action-adventures 2) having a cast you want to follow along. Provided that the action adventure does not devote its resources to doing much else, a lack of thematic substance, rich characterization, or character development is not much of a problem. If you start getting bored of the action adventures, then the problem is not necessarily a lack of substance but rather the style wasn’t good enough— the action wasn’t new and inspired for each episode, there isn’t enough tension for you to keep watching, and the characters aren’t interesting enough make you want to see them.
Patapata meets both of these metrics. First of all, it does a good job setting up the stakes for the action-adventure by spending three episodes setting up the background of both the hero and the villain so that both of them have personal reasons for doing what they do. I wanted to follow Jane on her adventure because I sympathized with her enough to want to see her attain her goal. The villain in the latter half comes off as a stereotypical power hungry warmonger like you’d see in anti-war Ghibli movies, but is saved from being a cliche because they spent three episodes detailing his childhood and it is Freudian.
While the long term tension is there, there is also tension in the individual episodes. Though some of the early episodes have comparatively tame conflicts that might leave viewers bored, the episodes with more serious stakes become more frequent as the show progressed until a 6-7 episode stretch with engaging life or death struggles. In addition, this method of doing things was best, as it allowed the show to gradually increase the threat level, especially since the protagonist is a teenage girl with no combat abilities. They showed Jane learning to solve smaller problems before being able to tackle bigger ones, which was also a good way to make the child protagonist active in a way that didn’t feel contrived or disproportionate to the stakes involved. Moreover, these smaller problems showcase Jane’s moral character, whereas thrusting her into the conflict would make her feel much more like a shell of a character designed to keep the action moving.
This ties into the variation of the set pieces as well, as there is a good balance between the slice of life episodes and the action-oriented episodes. The setting also changes every two episodes or so and the designs of the scifi ships and locations are unique enough to flavor the adventures.
As for having a cast you want to follow along, most of the time this is done by having entertaining individual personalities and great character chemistry so that no matter what the characters do or where they go they can make the scene interesting just by their presence. In this case the character personalities are plain, but they are authentic and easy to root for, owing to the overall tone of the show and the setup of the characters (which was previously mentioned). Though Jane is the archetypal pure hearted Ghibli girl that can do no wrong on the surface, the show gives a thoughtful explanation of where her sympathy for other people and her love of flying comes from. It should also be noted that characters like Jane and Erin from Beast Player Erin are not goody-two shoes characters in the same sense as shounen/shoujo characters with big hearts but ditzy personalities because the latter don’t have authenticity.
This leads to the issue of the supposed childishness and heavy handedness of the series which I’ve seen most other people complain about. We’ve all seen the villains who do horrible things only to get turned to the other side by the protagonist who believes that there is good in everyone. In this show it is true that all those on the side of the good guys are portrayed as pure hearted, well intentioned people. It is also true that there are instances where Jane chooses to trust people that seem to mean harm to her only for them to turn out to be good people after all. Given the surrounding intangibles, I choose to believe that this is more of a case of her being able to read people well, not that she’s blindly being idealistic and that the show is supporting the idea that everyone is redeemable. There is evidence in the show to support this as well. The first clue was when she trusts Barsac enough to accompany him, but she senses that he’s withholding information so she lies about her identity. Second, there are two incidences where she’s confronted by evidence that a person she once trusted is suspicious, and in those instances she puts her faith in people aside and opts to take precautions to defend herself. Outside of Jane, Barsac is shown to trust Jane to accompany them on a top secret mission because he reads her to be trustworthy. Furthermore, the show actually avoids redeeming any of the main villains, so no 180 turns.
That is the extent to which I can understand where complains of childishness and heavy handedness come from. While the tone and direction of the show suggests that is geared towards children, it is sufficiently balanced and not nearly sugary enough to interfere with my immersion in the characters and the stakes. This is in contrast to something like Beast Player Erin, where the comic relief characters, repetition of flashbacks, low stakes, nurturing environment, and singing tipped the show towards being too sweet and undermined its dramatic tension. It is better than Nadia in this regard as well, as the tone of Nadia took me out of the story with its flat humor (especially the ecchi humor) and its three cartoonish villain characters as well as a complete lack of authenticity (trademark of Anno). Furthermore, this is not childish in the same way that something like Anne of Green Gables is, where the stakes are limited to a kid’s life in the country side. People die here.
Another complaint is that per the childish nature of the show, the plot is predictable and cliche. The plot is predictable insofar as it follows a journey through different places in search of some macguffin and you know the protagonists have plot armor. It is cliche in the sense that the macguffin can be exploited by a shady organization to unlock weapons of mass destruction and the pure hearted girl is the one to stop them. I would argue that though you know the overall layout of the plot, the show still crafts sufficient engagement because the specifics of the HOW things happen throughout the journey are unexpected and it still does a good job at establishing threat. For example, in one episode where the protagonists must face bandits terrorizing a village, the episode does not start with them hearing about the bandits and deciding to help. The episode starts with a tense scene where village defenders are overrun by the technologically superior bandits, with one of the bandits grabbing the female leader by her hair and dragging her on his vehicle. That part is not childish. This establishes the threat so that even though the viewer knows the good guys are going to win somehow, but you still want to watch them do it. Another reason people may find this show predictable is because the villain reveal was obvious. But I don’t think that was every intended to be much of a reveal or twist given the setup of the first three episodes. The same goes for the villains being obvious to spot. The show intentionally makes it clear who are the villains because this creates dramatic irony in which the audience knows something the characters don’t, and suspense derives from waiting for the characters to figure it out before they get into trouble.
So that’s my case for why this show functions well as an action adventure and why its supposed childishness and predictability don’t interfere much with that function.
Now I will explain what elevates the show for me personally and in the process further dispel claims that it is childish, cliche, and heavy handed. Skip ahead to the end to avoid what you might find to be overanalyzing pretentiousness. SPOILERS AHEAD
I previously talked about how I interpreted Jane’s morality. This is not the type of morality that strictly separates good from evil and advocates for blind kindness towards everyone. The show directly states that machines are neutral and whether they are good and bad are dependent on the people that use them. What viewers might not get is how this applies to broader themes in the show if interpreted a bit more loosely. Jane and her brother are both idealistic inventors who believe in the best of people, don’t harbor hatred or ego, and are stubborn in their ambitions. Along her journey, sure Jane comes across many good hearted people that she correctly trusts, but she also comes across instances where she faces the possibility of people betraying her and she has to act accordingly. Her idealistic attitude applies to her attitude towards flying machines, which she perceives to be inherently good for their ability to make things easier for people. Her brother is the same way, as he believed that his inventions were used to make a utopia and unlike Jane, was successfully tricked by someone else into contributing towards evil means. They both share the same flaws of idealism and being overly trusting. Now, loss of youthful idealism and innocence is not some groundbreaking theme and is quite common.
What elevates the understanding of this idea beyond what I normally see in media is William Buxton’s story. All his hatred and evil deeds stemmed from a childhood grudge against the Buxton family for interfering with his mother’s sole love for him. He wanted to be the sole recipient of his mother’s love, and when his mother died he associated the trauma of her death with the anger he felt for the Buxton family, amplifying these negative emotions. These emotional scars from an early age lead him down a path to create a supposed utopia where he had full control, and further to create a super weapon to dominate the rest of the world, all so he can be the center of everyone’s allegiance. He treats Jane similarly, wanting to keep her to himself by keeping her in a cage, so much so that he had a child substitute for Jane while she was gone. People to him are little more than possessions. This is in line with the possessive, jealous thinking that he had as a child. It’s a type of thinking based on absolutes, based on maximizing something that is technically positive— his mother’s love for him. He could not cope with anything less than his mother’s absolute devotion to him, such that you can describe this pattern of thinking as idealistic. So all three Buxton family members were idealistic in that they held onto something good so tightly that they did not allow room for anything they perceived to be negative.
You might be thinking that George and Jane Buxton are nowhere close to the monster that is William, but despite what it seems those two do have flaws, and those flaws are rooted in dealing with absolutes (move over, Sith lords). Of course you can say that George was excused from any blame because he was being misled by William, and the specifics of what he did in Neo City were not elaborated on, but given the greater themes in the rest of the show and his personality type, there is enough room to suggest that his own mindset made him easier prey. George may have been fooled but it takes two to make a fool. George’s utopian ideals and blind trust in William made him more susceptible to promises of a perfect world and he tended to hole himself up in his laboratory without diverting his energy away from his scientific pursuits to learn about the outside world.
As for Jane, despite what it seems, she did not remain the same throughout the journey as is common for her archetype. In fact, her arc not only dealt with the loss of youthful idealism but an inability to cope with loss by letting go. Just like William, she had trouble letting go of her mother and her entire journey was in search of George, who was presumed dead. When given the opportunity to escape in the last episode, she jumped from the escaping ship back to the sinking ship to try to rescue her brother, and still had to be forced into the escape pod afterwards because she didn’t want to leave her two brothers. However, the escape pod was kept from leaving because its rope got tangled. At that point William, who just before tried to use a superweapon to rule the world and keep the world for himself, saw that Jane’s life was in danger and had to make a decision. He chose to stop thinking about himself for once and cut the rope. In that moment, he let go of his anger and hatred, as well as his desire to have the world and Jane to himself, allowing the escape pod to unfurl its wings and fly. Jane, in the pod, had to watch her brothers die with the ship as she flew away high in the sky. For 25 episodes, Jane wanted to make flying machines to help people and because as a child she was told that her mother was in the sky, so flying was a ways to get close to her dead mother. Now, flying takes on a whole new meaning— freedom from past pain, attachment to dead loved ones, and attachment to one’s own ideals. This holds true for both William and Jane, and you can say George was also freed himself from the guilt of helping William by helping to correct his mistakes. In addition, the father, Edward Buxton, is shown recovering from illness induced by his grief at the end of the show.
So how do idealism, good and evil, flying machines, and dealing with grief relate? The pervading spirit is that of neutrality, of zen. There is a balance of good and evil, of positive and negative, of ying and yang. You have to be reasonable and moderate. Utopias and benevolent flying machines don’t exist. Not everyone in the world is pure hearted. Not everyone who is pure hearted contributes to pure good. Not everyone who is evil is lacking in love but rather the perceived lack of love was what led to the evil. Not everyone you love can stay with you forever. The cerulean sand can be used for great good or great evil depending on the light that shines on it. The genius of an inventor can be used for great good or great evil as well. The death of a loved one can lead one down on a path of compassion or a path of destruction. To hold onto one end of the extreme and try to conform the world to that vision is to not just to be too idealistic but more importantly, it shows a lack of balance, a lack of understanding, and a lack of restraint. To abandon attachment to extremes and accept this mix of good and bad is to free yourself so you can fly. All of this was not preached by the show but rather embedded in it. If you don’t want to look it’s not there but if you want to look it’s there, so if all this sounds like pretentious talk to you, you can ignore it and just enjoy the show in a straightforward way.
Each of the individual themes I mentioned have been tackled in anime before, but few have done with this combination of naturality, authenticity, and cohesiveness. Dennou Coil and Fantastic Children were not able to satisfactorily pull off the theme of letting go of loved ones— Dennou Coil because the last few episodes dealing with grief were disconnected from the rest of the show and Fantastic Children because its contrived background story made for poor buildup.
In summary, Patapata succeeds because it is a fun action adventure that ties its themes together in such a way that one theme amplifies the other.
Now for some quick personal opinions on art and music:
Art: Aesthetically speaking, the designs are balanced— though the show is made for kids the designs have enough hardness to them, unlike many kids shows and all moe shows that are too soft in design.
Music: There is a prominent theme that sounds quite good called Dream to the Sky. They overuse the theme but it’s good enough that I don’t mind. The ED themes sound like they were made by the Backstreet Boys. Though the OP and ED’s are no slouch themselves, I do wish the OP and ED were lifted from Nadia which is otherwise inferior in every category (that’s me being mad that Nadia is so popular while this show falls into obscurity).
4: Digimon Tamers
English: Digimon Tamers
MAL Score: 7.62
Digimon Tamers takes place in a world where the popular Digimon franchise is all the rage, consisting of a cartoon, video games, and the trading card game. Takato Matsuda is a huge Digimon fan that’s particularly obsessed with the card game, and constantly daydreams about the universe therein. One day, he finds a mysterious blue card, which he slides through a scanner toy to use in the popular battle game. His toy suddenly glows and transforms into a Digivice, and Takato’s fan-made design, Guilmon, materialises in front of him. Thrilled by the prospect of having a real-life Digimon, Takato embraces his new partner, and his adventures as a Digimon Tamer begin.
Takato quickly discovers that being a Digimon Tamer is not all fun and games—in reality, it’s much more dangerous than the card games he’s accustomed to. Wild Digimon have begun to appear all across Japan, causing rampages that result in chaos and mayhem. Armed with his Digivice, which can scan trading cards to strengthen Guilmon, Takato and his new partner set out to combat the rogue Digimon. They are tasked with protecting the world from Digimon attacks, whilst a mysterious organization determined to eliminate all Digimon and their Tamers lurks in the shadows…
Let’s face it, the idea that ENIAC, the world’s second computer, was capable of twisting space-time and created parallel dimension where computer data took physical form and gained sentience on its own, and then interacted with human kids’ emotions to reconfigure the data to combat monsters, was quite silly, and the show mostly served only commercial purposes. (This creation of the Digital World is explained in the Wonder Swan games relating to Digimon Adventure 02.) The plot of the first season also was quite nonexistent, fighting one big bad with world-domination fantasies after another.
Then, after many years they decided to air Digimon Tamers in the kids’ weekday morning program slot. I hadn’t seen it back on the good old years because I didn’t know Japanese, didn’t want to watch English dub and subs were not available, which was quite surprising, considering Digimon is, or once was, very popular franchise around the world. I started to watch it mostly for nostalgy. Digimon Tamers however turned out to be much more actual cyberpunk than kids’ show.
Digimon Tamers’ plot is built upon the concept of unintentionally created artificial intelligence. It is, too, a bit strange idea, especially given that it’s creation is timed in 1984. But then again, Digimon Tamers officially is stated to take place in different universe, so we can assume some technology had advanced asynchronously. Or perhaps the same quantum phenomena that affected the creation of the Digital World played a role here. Anyway, the backstory is not fully explained in the show, there’s a novel called Digimon Tamers 1984 which would be a good companion to watching it, but it hasn’t been translated either to my knowledge.
Tamers is loyal to the original ideas of Digimon however, and the fact they made them believable, even if eccentric, is one of the things that make it so good. The childrens’ ability to interact with the Digimon in unique ways and the fact the main character actually CREATES his own Digimon are justified with the concept of DigiGnomes – programs that were originally intended as a part of a children’s toy, designed by a group of programmer students at University of Palo Alto in the 80’s, until the project was cancelled.
The art of the physical world is decent, but when we get to the Digital World it’s amazing, acidic. We have packets of garbage data running around deserts in coils, our physical world’s information networks manifested in the sky as a huge shining globe with greatest data streams arranging around it like debris rings of a planet, and all your classical Digimon weirdness – mansions inside glass bubbles underwater and completely monochromatic old-skool town etc. The CGI and normal animation in this show are in perfect balance. Some evolution scenes (basically those from adult stage to perfect stage) aren’t very cool, they could be much better, and that’s about the only actual complaint.
I’ve always considered all incarnations of Digimon to have excellent soundtracks, and Tamers is not an exception. The second ending theme ‘Days ~aijou to nichijou~’ is so sweet and dreamy I have on many mornings after not sleeping the night (like was the case at the time when Tamers aired here on kids’ mornings) listened to it on loop about ten times and got a really good feeling. After that it temporarily loses it’s charm, but on the next morning it’s restored. The opening ‘The Biggest Dreamer’ is really groovy too. Tamers has more futuristic and/or digital sounding BGM’s than the other seasons, fitting it’s themes and atmosphere perfectly. The first evolution sequence music, ‘Evo’ is probably the coolest Digimon evolution music ever, but the others send chills to the spine too. Try listening those in Youtube even if you don’t plan to watch the series.
Characters are better developed than in any other Digimon incarnation, and some have relatively dark backgrounds. Our main hero is way far from typical shounen hothead with big ego and exaggerated goals and bad manners. He’s what you’d call an artistic soul, and his development into a sort of knight on a white (though it’s really red here…) horse is interesting. The Digimon also have distinquishable personalities that aren’t paired with their owners’ personalities in any typical – balancing opposites nor overly similar – fashion. We have serious adventuring group drama here where half of the ‘people’ just happen to be artificial intelligences gained physical creature-ish manifestation via quantum physics.
Also, the Digimon aren’t initially friends by default. Wouldn’t you be surprised, confused if you just happened to encounter a talking battling mutating video game creature? Their slowly developing bonds are quite serious. And we get to explore the differences and similarities of humans and Digimon. At the beginning, most Digimon are guided by their basic instinct to battle, absorb the opponents data, convert it into utilizable form for self, and evolve, bestowed upon them by humans themselves. Neither is there any over-the-top world-saving premise – the characters become involved with it through pure chance, bit by bit, through their own choices.
Our main villain is, unlike the Digimon, an emotionless program. Originally created to keep the numbers of copies of data files in given limits, in order to prevent viruses from spreading themselves that way and collapsing the budding 80’s Internet, he has now gained physical form too, and become what you could call an ‘eco-fascist’, calmly launching plans to reduce the numbers of humans after calculating there’re too many of them for the planet to withstand. This is an interesting, thought-provoking concept really.
We don’t have big bad guys who are bad just for the sake of it here. Sans the few rogue monsters in the beginning that serve only as ways to initiate character conflict, every villain has understandable motives for whatever they do, and most turn out good after some serious misunderstandings and political or religious differences crossing the border of two different worlds have been cleared. The question whether or not we are gods and masters of our creations is also explored in many episodes – even if our creations believe in gods completely of their own.
And the final battle is on par with Gurren Lagann’s. No, I’m not kidding. They have many things in common in fact, as one Digimon’s final form is like giant green dog-faced mecha, and both involve quantum physics you actually have to think a bit for them to make sense.
Overall, it’s weird, trippy, cool and enjoyable to both children and adult science fiction fans. Not everyone is going to like it of course, mostly probably because it has lots of monster battles, the beginning is slow, and because some things of the backstory are left a bit obscure. Also some have called it Evangelion’s child, which in turn has pissed off some fans of Evangelion, which I think is completely justified – indeed it doesn’t go to same depths over same subjects. Some have called it a bad Evangelion-wannabe, but I don’t think they have much in common. Both are good though, so let’s not start an argument over this one.
If you watch Tamers expecting it to be like Evangelion, you’re going to be disappointed and probably hate it. So don’t do that. Tamers is worth liking it. It doesn’t try to be a ripoff of ANYTHING, it’s honestly completely its own kind of work.
There simply isn’t anything like Digimon Tamers out there.
Story wise: We have three arcs in this series and all of them are quite different in themes and quality.
First, the tamers beginning: this is a kind of prologue that goes from episode 1 to 13. Most episodes are just fine, with some really good characters moments. Every single Digimon series have always started a bit slow, but that’s only so we can get to know our characters and so it is understandable. Here we are presented the concept of cards, which is an amazing support system so that the human can aid their digimons in battle, as well as we start to understand the dynamic of this series; it is darker than the previous two, we don’t have chosen children, we have children who happen to become tamers, so there’s no actual deux ex machina to keep them safe and so the danger feels quite real. Even while in this first arc there is not such an extreme danger, the feeling is there in the air and it will pay off later on.
Second, devas: it goes from episodes 14 to 36 and here is where Tamers hit the lowest of its quality (except for episodes 33 to 36 that act as an introduction to the final arc); devas are the worst villains I’ve seen in any digimon series (and maybe in any given anime). Their motivation is poor, their design is dreadful and they are just plot fodder and not actual characters; we spend so much time with them that they just fall flat to make any impression. The worst episodes of the series features them, they are extremely boring or passable at best. Yet, when you ignore the devas, what happens around is fine or even good to great, as luckily our main characters are treated quite better, and such it is not a deal breaker. There are only 3 or 4 crappy episodes in this long arc, about 2 or 3 memorable ones, and the rest are just fine or slightly good. When you ignore the devas and focus on the rest of the characters everything is fine, but as soon as they appear they drag the show down.
Third and final, D-Reaper: Here is when Tamers shines; it is the best arc of the series and Tamers shows us it’s not afraid to go dark. We see the worst of some characters and the best of them; we get to feel fear and despair. Remember how I told you earlier there is no deus ex machina? Well, just 3 episodes before we enter this arc one of our character’s digimon dies (permanently) and a digivice breaks, something we’ve never seen before in a digimon series, allowing us to peek at the darkest of two characters just before it pays off for both of them, showing their best character development. As this arc starts both worlds, digital and ours, enter in such a huge crisis that is almost impossible to predict how it’s going to get resolve, and to do so everyone have to work together, not only the children and the digimon, but the adults as well, and so we get into a full set war against the new enemy that is filled with despair, but also some moments of hope to make an incredible smartly shaped finale. Everything we see here has been foreshadow before handed, and as such every moment feels earned, it’s not rushed nor convoluted, it’s just greatly structured and when you add that to some great characters you get one hell of an anime.
If just there was no devas, this could have been just as great as Adventure (or even better)
Characters: Mostly the character work is great; however there are some misses too here. But let’s see each character:
Takato: here I just have to applaude the writers. Takato started as a crybaby and a coward, but slowly he became more and more brave, accustomed to fighting, he became considerate, but he never stopped feeling like the same character. Though he changed he still felt like the same Takato. There is a moment when the writers just wanted us to hate him, around episode 32 or so, and though I did hate him quite a lot, I have to say that I loved to hate him, and I also was pleasantly surprised by how they handled it to make a character that came from annoying to likeable to hateable to be likeable again; it’s not something any person can pull, and by the end of the series, Takato’s character treatment is fairly the best and something that should be praised.
Ruki: A close second for best character treatment, just behind Takato, as she comes from ice cold with an “I don’t care about anyone” attitude to someone who cares deeply about her friends, is dependable and never stops being cool and badass. Her changes are slow and gradually made, and as such it’s never rushed and feels naturals. As she says by the end “humans don’t change that easily” and those words fits her perfectly. Her character is just outright awesome!
Jenrya: Here the writers made many, many mistakes! Though he is never annoying he is never all that relevant. Sure, he has his moments, but he never gets fully developed; we get just a bit of background in earlier episodes and no more, and he just feels like a character that acts as plot fodder rather than being a fully fleshed out one. Still, he will never be bothersome.
Impmon/Beelzebumon: here’s another character that started as a broadstroke and got amazingly developed. His background is consistent with his personality and he takes some courses of actions that largely impact who he becomes later and he must endure the weight of the choices he makes. He is by definition the “conflicted character” and when you use a conflicted character right in a show, it adds more layers of deepth to it, and as such this character gets it right!
Juri: I’m amazed that she came from annoying girl to what she became later on. I won’t enter on details, but after episode 33 we got to really explore the darkness of her character and shows us how even kids can hold up some very hurtful stuff; by the end of the series these conflicts get resolved, yet it is amazing to see someone who was so cheerful in the beginning (to the point it was outright annoying!) showing her darker self and overcome it. Kudos to the writers!
The three main digimon: It’s important to say that all the three digimon have fleshed out characteristics that makes each one feel real. I won’t enter into details, but I can tell you that Guilmon is loveable, yet silly in the beginning and he grows smarter and deeper as we progress, while never losing his cuteness. Terriermon is a relaxed type of digimon who learns little by little to take things more seriously and Renamon is a digimon that rather stays on the background, but just as Ruki she warms up to the rest gradually, while never letting go her characteristic self of staying in the background.
Other supporting characters: Tamers have several! It takes focus on others tamers as Ryo, Hirokazu, Kenta, Shuichon, the families of our main tamers and a group of adults trying to save the world, and develops them at their fullest while keeping them at the background. Ok, maybe not Ryo, but the rest all get as developed as they can in the limited screentime they have, and that’s something to praise, as not many shows care to do so.
Sound: Outstanding. There was a very well made decision here; some of the themes from the previous series were kept while also adding new ones, more techno that goes along with the sci-fi air this series have. Songs like “Slash” fit that really well, and the opening theme “The Biggest Dreamer” is just amazing and fits the series general theme.
Enjoyment: As I said earlier there are moments that are a real drag, quite bad to just outright awful, while there are also magnificent ones, specially coming from the last story arc. Still, as a whole most episodes are just good, but considering how extremely satisfying the final arc was, I decided to upgrade it from “good” to “very good”, ergo the 8 score.
Tamers stands as my third favorite Digimon series behind Adventures and Savers. It made many, many mistakes (I’m looking at you devas…), but as I re-watched it I realized it was worth to keep up with it and to endure the worst of it, because the highlights of the series are extremely good. As such, we can’t see this as the masterpiece Adventure was because it is not as consistent as that one, but it surely aimed for the greatest, it was filled with potential and it managed to explode more or less some of it, but not all. Still, it is a great Digimon series, and one worth re-watching. Also, it made possible the herculean task of delivering a finale as good as Adventure did, and that’s not a small feat.
Stary observations (funny facts and bits of information I got while re-watching, which might contains some spoilers):
-Juri to Takato (episode 11): “Always talking about Digimon”. Well, I’m 21 years old and I’m here writing these reviews so… yes, always talking about Digimon.
-Guilmon (episode 16): “I can do a handstand” Isn’t Guilmon the cutest digimon ever made?
-There was a ravel callback in episode 18! It was the ringtone from Nami-sensei! I thought it was worth writing it as it was an important song in both previous series.
-There are multiple foreshadows: for instance Juri becoming a tamers gets mentioned before Leomon appears, the Ark becoming Grani is also mentioned beforehanded, and so the theme of magic vs data in early episodes, among many others. This shows how much thought and effort there was on this series!
-There was a moment in episode 29 where a dog bullied Culumon. I won’t even try to understand it.
-Kenta (in episode 31): “Sukamon fits Hirokazu” I thought the same!
-Episode 45: “Justice Kick” worst ultimate attack ever! xD
-Episode 51 (finale): when the digimon left I couldn’t help but cry. Also, I smiled when Takato found the gate to the digital world.
And that’s it! I hope you liked this review! There’s much more to say about this, but I won’t make you endure it any longer. See you!
Next time: Digimon Frontiers took the risky concept of human becoming digimon and failed to keep an audience, almost killing the franchise.
Riku was more of a lean mean ass kicking machine who was relentless and gave no mercy, she thought of Digital Monsters as nothing but pieces of data.
The other characters beleive in the power of digimon and them as real creatures. This becomes obvious very early on in the anime.
There are three main digimon / heros of this unlike the other series where there we’re countless. Basically these evil things coming to try destroy all Digimon, these have to be stopped.
Through out the series you follow the paths of these three main character who are very well animated for their personalities…Their look reflects their attitudes greatly. I really liked the art and sometimes there was some really nice visuals and the sound make this quite an emotional trip through the characters eyes you may feel sad or angry at the events or actions of characters but overall it’s pretty amazing.
Just watching the journey these people come on is a great experience by itself, especially following the path of Riku.
This is my first review so I hope it made sense lol…hope you enjoy the anime too..I really enjoyed this anime and think it has a really high rewatch value…
3: Shaman King
English: Shaman King
MAL Score: 7.77
A battle is about to begin in Tokyo: the Shaman Fight, a tournament held every five hundred years where shaman—those who can command spirits—confront each other in combat. The victor of this contest becomes the Shaman King and the only one who is able to contact and control the Great Spirit, allowing them to reshape the world as they please through its immense power.
During a late night walk, Manta Oyamada runs into his classmate, the carefree You Asakura, who invites him to come stargazing with some friends, who, to Manta’s horror, turn out to be ghosts from a local cemetery! However, the knowledge that Manta possesses—a rare sixth sense that allows Manta to see these spirits—endears the boy to You. So when You finds out that his new comrade has been beaten up by a local gang, he decides to avenge him with the help of Amidamaru, a samurai ghost whose tomb was broken by the gang leader.
Soon Manta uncovers more about the world of spirits, including the Shaman Fight, in which his new friend You aims to claim victory.
Overall I’d recommend this show to anyone who likes shows with awesome characters, lots of humor, awesome battles and a great storyline.
Children can and do appreciate good anime though. For this review I’ll consider the Japanese version.
The lowest score, 8, has to go to art. As a grown-up I’ve seen top notch quality and you do not expect SK to demonstrate excellence in terms of art. People, spirits, places and backgrounds are moderately well designed. There are a lot of moments with great visual impact. Considering their immense number, action sequences are animated okay.
The dialogues and the story-line are well done until the very end of the anime and the ending may leave a lot of people unsatisfied, therefore I couldn’t rate the story 10. I thoroughly enjoyed how it all moved forward, how conflicts were resolved and how the single one threat of Hao loomed closer and closer to build it all up. Characters were introduced, developed and interacted with one another beautifully. The tournament became a means to explore underlying themes of friendship, hatred, forgiveness, hard work, hope and destiny. Comedic aspects were well balanced with drama and the epic action.
The effort poured into the voice acting and soundtrack of this series is certainly not widely acknowledged, but the series include two bombs like Romi Paku and Megumi Hayashibara who are very talented, along with many other skillful actors that brought characters to life. I even fell in love with Ren Tao – seriously I made dozens of drawings, I even dreamt about him. Anyway, the music is very varied and was used purposefully, blending with various scenes in harmony. I can still recite the two openings and a few other songs from memory. 10.
Characters! Who can forget Yoh’s goofy smile, Ren’s fits of anger, Ryu’s gigantic thumb and pompadour, Horohoro’s cute spirit Kororo, Anna’s scary eyes, Manta’s brave soul? Nah, they and the rest are unforgettable. Each has their own unique personalities, dreams and lessons to teach us. I grew up with them as they grew up with each other. 10. 11. 12.
I remember rushing home everyday from school, telling everyone to shut up and turning on the TV to watch Shaman King. The series would glue my eyes to the screen. I remember feeling miserable when Yoh lost to his opponents. I remember falling of my seat laughing when Chocolove pissed off Ren. Enjoyable all the way. 10.
I acknowledge that this series has its own shortcomings. I know it is not perfect. Maybe the sweetness of my childhood is interfering with my judgement.
When I have a child, though, he or she is watching this.
To properly criticize Shaman King, I want you to understand that Shaman King came out from an era where shounens were the determined bread winner, and there were plenty of attempts of random shounen being released. At the same time, things like Naruto, Inuyasha, Hajime no Ippo and Hunter x Hunter were airing or finished airing and plenty of other commercial shounens were being released or about to start in that craze. I wouldn’t call Shaman King succesful, as the way I have stumbled upon it I consider bizarre.
It started airing at 10 PM on a cartoon channel. What’s bizarre about this is that it and Naruto, are the only two anime, that ever did that in my country. Naruto, understandably was a cashcow, it makes sense, but Shaman King was the experiment before it. No knowledge of it being an anime, aired quite late at night, signifying that it is intended to older audiences, and it did well. I stayed up every night to watch it and talked to friends about it and we enjoyed it. Outside of Dragon Ball and Yu-Gi-Oh, which aired on some random completely different channels, for most of the kids I knew, this was our first shounen experience, at an age where we could actually understand it. I expect that Shaman King was a cheap bargain for the audience my country tried to hit with it, and that it worked out quite well. Because Shaman King was really enjoyable and really enjoyed.
The reasons it was enjoyable for are that there finally was a cartoon that tried to define the characters as persons, and explain their state. It also kept all the familiar traits of other cartoons that we were seeing, which were in its humor, and had themes that weren’t really explored here, but worked in other countries for their young audiences. No cartoon that I’ve watched at that point really attempted to create character development, or any overarching plot, and instead were mostly one offs. Shaman King did do that, maybe not that a level that I would consider commendable today, but it did do it. It was comedic, but it played off based on the personality of the characters, and also how they changed. Their actions did matter past the scope of the episode, and that really won me over. The fact that the world can get more complex, the characters can evolve, and the fact that story was going somewhere. There were pretty few examples of other shows that even managed to do an attempt at this at the time for me.
But its problem today is a simple one. Due to the competitive scene at the time, Shaman King falls short to almost every show, and pretty much any modern show, can easily outclass it. I mean, it had poor production values, with each fight having some still frames and barely enough contact was ever done between characters. Most of the budget was spent on making sure the designs and characters are consistently colorful and have enough details, but there really isn’t any fighting choreography, which is a detriment of the series, and in action scenes the characters may sometimes look remarkably choppy. The story doesn’t really have a pace or a clear structure, so that might mislead a lot of people into drawing conclusions about the series, which won’t work in its favor, due to how laidback the attitude of its characters can be, or how many liberties it will take in its structure. It is filled with character archetypes and tropes that are across most shounen anime. And its overall theme is the power of friendship. Based on what I enjoy now, I can say for certain that if I came across Shaman King today, I would not care much for it and think it was bad. The factors that made it good at the time are that everything else didn’t really have any sort of direction, when Shaman King did and I didn’t really have a lot of the criterias of comparison I have to other shows now, that making Shaman King pure novelty to me.
This doesn’t make Shaman King necesarily bad, it just means that it is hard for someone to determine whether they would like it or not, and that it is hard for it to get any sort of notoriety when there’s far better looking options, and the fact that it is a shounen might turn off a lot of people because it is one. I personally don’t consider it bad. While I think most of the fights were dull and uninteresting, with a few exceptions, what has driven the fights was the dialogue and the progression they went towards. The actual fight itself for me being dull was easy to overlook based on the fact that Shaman King knew how to properly state why what was on screen was happening, what was the goal, and where the character has to get to win. The quality of the fights in Shaman King will vary. Sometimes they can be really interesting, like a certain fight where someone led the main character into discovering a new power, and sometimes they can be really dull, which is when the characters simply win by showing their powers and doing some movements in order to meet the quota of “this is an action shounen”.
I wouldn’t honestly call Shaman King an action shounen as much as I would call it Final Fantasy XV. A group of guys, travelling around, getting powers, and enjoying off the road they are on is what I mean. It is often comedic and playing off the personalities of the characters, but it can also be serious whenever there’s a “protecting my friends, family, morals, ideals etc” type of shounen shtick to be presented. It can be mature and well executed when the situation calls for it, but it can take its time with comedic moments insignificant for the overarching plot or simply go in a serious direction out of nowhere. Due to Shaman King bouncing too much between where it is going and where it wants to go, it can sometimes seem slice of lifey, and this made its overall pace to suffer, as the stakes were constantly being toyed with, and as a result of this, where Shaman King was moving towards wasn’t 100% certain at all times. I know this is an odd thing to say when the series is titled Shaman King, in a series about people fighting each other to become Shaman King, but the story takes a lot of random detours or restructuring of how it goes about things, while mostly keeping the reward of being the Shaman King as ambiguous and potentially anything, this leading to an odd type of progression in the story, where you didn’t know what the stakes were, until Hao happens.
Unfortunately, the execution of the villain, Hao, is not particularly good, as he is defeated through the power of friendship and he is portrayed as a generic edgy cartoon villain. So the series doesn’t really benefit too much from having him as a villain as much outside of him being just a reason for the characters to become more serious. This villain is pretty much where Shaman King becomes a chore to suggest anyone to go through with it, since he becomes an important part of the anime, his manga counterpart is a lot more human and developed, and this counterpart doesn’t really have any traits that make him that. He is a threat for the sake of being a threat. He doesn’t completely weaken the series’ high points, but since he’s the focus, Shaman King becomes less entertaining as he becomes more and more prominent. Which doesn’t really make me sell Shaman King in terms of the story, despite of having various elements well executed, and well implemented humor that plays off various character traits very well.
But still, my view of them today, with my view of them back then, isn’t exactly in sync. For instance, the introduction of a major character in the series astonished me due to the fact that this was the first time I ever saw a guy being introduced by chopping a car in fucking half for absolutely no fucking reason out of nowhere. Today, the same scenes of him made me laugh my ass off, because of the fact that he gave me the impression of an edgy little troglodite upset at the fact that his parents never bought him Hot Wheels ™. The fact that he afterwards rants about he is a superior being while looking at some cars in traffic strengthened that remark. I might be more fond of the characters due to the fact that I’ve experienced them while being young, but I still think their personalities were executed quite well and that their motivations are quite understandable. In addition to that, the personalities they have play off each other well. While I don’t think they singlehandedly are unique characters or have any particularly unique character arcs compared to other shounens, I do think they are executed well due to the fact they are simple. Partially is due to the adaptation not really adapting some of the parts that gave more depth to some characters, as the anime focuses more on making it a truer shounen.
I can’t really recommend Shaman King on any other basis than curiosity. It is a story about some kids going through a tournament to become God and fighting each other with not particularly well done animation. The themes it has are common and you’ve probably seen something else similar to it at this point you would draw comparisons too. The only real praise I can give Shaman King is that in smaller circles, in places where its main competitors were gone, it could stand out. It managed to be a shounen and if you seek that, as long as you don’t expect much in terms of fight scenes, it can do the work quite well. But note, it doesn’t have any lasting impact or build anything unique of its own. It just executes the aspects of a shounen to a decent level.
MAL Score: 7.95
Moments prior to Naruto Uzumaki’s birth, a huge demon known as the Kyuubi, the Nine-Tailed Fox, attacked Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, and wreaked havoc. In order to put an end to the Kyuubi’s rampage, the leader of the village, the Fourth Hokage, sacrificed his life and sealed the monstrous beast inside the newborn Naruto.
Now, Naruto is a hyperactive and knuckle-headed ninja still living in Konohagakure. Shunned because of the Kyuubi inside him, Naruto struggles to find his place in the village, while his burning desire to become the Hokage of Konohagakure leads him not only to some great new friends, but also some deadly foes.
The concept of this show isn’t that hard to follow. It’s an alternate world in which ninjas live. The ninjas fight by using various skills, and they have this power flowing inside of them called chakra. Chakra is used to perform powerful attacks which (usually) belongs to either of the five traditional elements of earth, fire, water, air and lightning. Of course, since they are ninjas, they fight with weapons like shuriken and kunai as well as hand-to-hand combat. As expected of this kind of world, there’s evil people, having different goals and reasons behind their evil.
The story follows Naruto, one of these ninjas, as he grow as a ninja, from being a stupid little prank-playing brat to becoming a fine ninja. Along the way, he interacts with and makes friends with many fellow ninja, fighting his way towards his dream of becoming Hokage (the leader of his village).
The story isn’t nearly as good as the concept would indicate. Sure, a lot of the characters has some nice background stories, won’t complain about that, but they manage to drag out everything so much. It really annoys me. Some fights take several episodes when they could’ve been done them just as good in one or two. There’s also way too much fighting. The story goes like fight, fight, background story, fight, fight, even more fight, half an episode’s worth of resting or journeying, fight, fight, and so on. I mean, it’s cool to watch fights, but there are just way too many fights, and they drag most of them out to unnecessary lengths. The only really enjoyable fight was the one between Sasuke and Naruto right before the fillers began. Which brings up another thing…
Fillers! Agh, I normally don’t mind fillers, but Naruto had some really, really stupid ones. Sure, there was the occasional diamond among the charcoal, but that doesn’t excuse the high amount of bad fillers. I mean, just because they are fillers doesn’t mean that they have to make them bad. Several shows have actually made decent and at the same time long fillers (especially Bleach, with its 40-episode long Bount arc), but Naruto failed horribly here.
Also, I feel that Naruto is very silly at times. Silly is usually good, but not when it’s immature silly. And guess what+ Naruto is silly in an immature way. It’s so dreadfully stupid at times that I had to close my eyes, take a deep breath and wait until it got serious again. Now, it did have some good comical moments, but those were far and wide between.
Another thing I feel like releasing my rage on is the animation. It barely manages to get the description “average” to me. At its best, it’s slightly above average. However, a lot of time it’s slipshod galore with the animation. I still have many very bad memories from having to watch lots of errors in the animation, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get rid of those memories. While the amount of errors decreased as the episodes passed by, at least every second episode before the 100s had one or more moments of slipshod animation. Wonder if they ever considered firing the animators.
As a side mention, they should do something about Rock Lee – even though I’ve slightly gotten used to his horrible looks, I still feel a burn in the back of my eye every time I see him.
The music is pretty good, though. A lot of great tunes (especially the sad ones are great), and the first few OPs and EDs were pretty awesome. It has some really bad music parts too, like the tribal voice-ish song, and sometimes they could’ve used better themes during the fights. As the series progressed, the quality of the OPs and EDs decrease too.
The characters are fairly okay, I guess. Some of them are really annoying, like Naruto, because he’s so stupid. Agh, he annoys me to no end! Some other characters are annoying too, because of things like their looks (Gai and Lee), or because they are failed attempts at comical relief (at least in my eyes, you might find them funny), like the all too perverted Jiraiya.
That’s the negative about them. However, they have some really nice background stories, some which are elaborated more upon than others. Many of the characters also get fair amounts of screen time, which for some people can seem too much, whilst others will be content with it, because their favorite character from the show gets an episode for him/herself.
I also like the fact that most of them have dreams or aspirations, and motives for what they are doing and how they are acting (usually it’s tied together with their background stories). The growing relationships between them is also nice, their maturing, and how Naruto is slowly getting accepted by more and more people through hard work.
Basically, they’ve portrayed the characters very well, and not too over the top, but some of them act stupid and silly from time to time, which drags the character rating down.
I have some mixed feelings for the show, which kind of drags down on the enjoyability factor of it. Great concept, not as good story, both good and bad music, horrid animation at times, many characters with background stories, some of them great and some not-so-great; it’s hard to completely make up my mind, but I believe the ratings I have given shows my feelings towards the different aspects of the show.
Of course, even though there was things I didn’t like, I can easily see why this show is so popular as it is; it has humor that the kids may find funny, as well as lots of fights which appeal to the teenagers and adults. I personally didn’t like it that much, though. I’m looking forward to Shippuden, because I’ve heard it was much better… I really hope so!
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
When I was 13 years old, I remember watching and loving this anime. I had never seen any other anime shows, and I thought the concept was original and amazing. When I found out that others animes literally had all that Naruto had plus a lot more, I was… bored with all the fillers. At the time the anime was great, but it really does get old.
Then again, the anime is not absolutely horrible. It has the essentials, with a somewhat unique story and art style. The characters are cliche, and enjoyment is there but short and sweet.
What I truly love about Naruto is the great soundtrack. It seems that all the OP and ED are just fabulous, and the music just fits within the series. I would have liked a bit of a change over the course of the show, but hey, it almost never happens.
All in all, it was a good show. Just good. So basically: Shame on those people who watch 10 episodes and immediately come here and write a review. Also shame on people who give this show all 1’s because everyone else loves it. It’s OK, but ive definitely seen better.
What I love bout naruto is the whole “Ninja aspect” of the show. Every technique had substance, quality and all of the training arcs really shown the defining elements of how ninjutsu worked within the naruto universe. These qualities are something I will soon not forget. I know alot of people complain about naruto being a half ass wit that can’t do nothing Or perhaps sakura being useless. But in away I look at the series as being a little different, especially in the developing of characters.
Kishimoto did not intend to create the story with a “bad ass” character right from the start, toppling villains one after the other, no. Naruto was set up in a way that much resembles an ordinary life and the tribulations and tests you must go through. Death is at every corner and naruto is a kid that is trying to fit in with the rest of the shinobi and be “recognized” I think that was one of the main defining elements of the original series. Kishi wanted to show here is a character that no one likes because he has a living breathing monster inside of him. You can only wonder what he is thinking, being in his predicament.
Watching him grow up as a monster and trying to be known as a famous shinobi and protect his friends, but realizing that he is in a world fraught with danger at every corner. Watching his friends die before him or getting hurt. The degree of emotion in the series was something I really enjoyed. It was really powerful. I remember hearing people spout nonsense in the discussions boards “omg to much drama, get on with the fighting already” But I actually liked how naruto had that drama, it fit in with the entire theme of the series. It kind of brings a whole different realism to the show compared to other shonen series. I won’t state any names.
One of the things that kishi really focused on in the original was friendship, and bonds. Thats one of the major theme’s watching this team 7 grow up together, learning from kakashi and becoming great ninja in the process, learning the ways of the ninja world. This show explores themes of revenge, hate, bonds and sorrow to a very astounding degree.
The characters in this series were in every sense of the word children, growing up in a world full of adults that were much more talented ninja’s both skills and combat. That is not to say the show was made for children. Just that kishi wanted to show the younger generation as the main characters of the show and the older generation as the training shinobi. They had to learn the ropes of what being a ninja is like. After their pre training sessions, they were finally put to the test of just how grueling the world is and how they must use every ounce of there being to survive and also protect the people they love.
10 years ago people viewed naruto very different to how people view it today.
Perhaps maybe the reason I love naruto so much and the reason it feels very nostalgic to me, is because I was around when I watched it first aired and I remember the fanbase during that time of the original series. It was one of THEE most popular anime series on the net and not a single person had anything remotely unscrupulous to say about it. Suddenly after the 100 episode filler arc, or the not so appreciated “shipuuden” it lost its reputation and became a show just muddled by idiots that call any one narutards for watching it. I have seen how the fanbase has changed significantly over the past 10 years of watching naruto. It is quite sad really.
I still consider naruto to be one of my favorite quality anime series, regardless of where it’s going. Perhaps maybe its because im very infatuated with ninja’s and like the unique way that kishi has created this ninja world. Similar to how i really love pirates in the one piece world. Every arc is something new and fresh so kishi can develop on that and expand upon the show in various different ways. One piece had some of the greatest character back stories and cast I’ve seen in a series, but it did suffer from story progression a bit thankfully naruto does not. It has a pretty solid pace and some of the most ground breaking plot twists.
I guess it’s all a matter of personal preference and what you like to see in a show. I my self im not a huge fan of typical shonene tropes that are used consistently, but i love how the original series gave us a much more powerful emotional impact to the show. In away it felt more humanized as apposed to the more generic super power elements of shipuuden.
1: Juuni Kokuki
English: The Twelve Kingdoms
MAL Score: 8.04
Youko Nakajima has only ever wanted to be normal. She does what she is asked, gets good grades, is the class president, and even helps her classmates whenever she can—but because of her red hair, she has never fit in. With her pushover attitude, Youko lets classmates take advantage of her, so she has nobody she can really call a friend.
But on an otherwise ordinary day, a man who claims to be from another world barges into Youko’s classroom and bows before her. This elegant blond-haired man, Keiki, claims that Youko is his master and belongs on the throne of his kingdom. However, their first meeting is cut short as Keiki has been followed by otherworldly beasts called youma. He is able to escape with Youko into his own realm, but two other classmates—Ikuya Asano and Yuka Sugimoto—are caught up in the madness as well. Unfortunately, their troubles have only just begun, as the youma attack leaves them separated from Keiki. Alone in this strange new land, these ordinary students must learn to fend for themselves or die.
It starts off innocently with Yoko being accosted at school by a handsome man with long blonde hair who wants to swear allegiance to her. Before she knows it, monsters?!? are attacking her, she’s being defended by Keiki, she won’t leave her friends and suddenly Yoko and the 2 friends she won’t leave have been sucked into another world. Thus begins our journey into the magical land of the 12 kingdoms.
I admit, after the dramatic beginning, I was expecting this to be like the Escaflowne/El-Hazard type of series. That impression was swept away in under 10 minutes. Escaflowne is a good anime, but 12 Kingdoms is a Great anime.
What sets 12 Kingdoms apart is the detailed explanation of the political, social, economic and philosophical aspects of the kingdom. As the episodes progress, you learn how the kingdoms are organized, why they are structured the way they are, and the good and bad things about each type of government. I’ve never heard it explained better in any other anime.
The story and characters really suck you in. The more they reveal, the more you want to know and you’re eagerly looking forward to each episode to see how the character’s will react, secretly hoping for some of them to "grow up", others to "snap out of it", and actually even hoping for a few to "just die". At the beginning, I really wanted to slap Yoko a few times while shouting "deal with it". But by the end of the series Yoko has become the heroine that people identify with and they root for her. There are pivotal scenes that make you stand up and cheer in joy.
There aren’t any extraneous "filler" secondary characters. While the motivations of some aren’t revealed till much later, for the most part you can understand and sympathize with the "good" secondary characters and grow to hate the "bad guys".
The fantasy world created by the writer is capable of much more exploration via this anime. The plot has many other directions it can go in. Even though the series ended at 45 episodes, I know a lot of us 12 Kingdoms fans would be really happy if they made another 45 episodes as there is still a ton of unused potential – including all the other "unexplored" kingdoms, not to mention the rest of the black kirin story.
Watch this great anime but be prepared to feel sad at the end because there isn’t any more to watch! The only flaw it has is that it ended too early.
Much like I found the overlapping worlds of Seirei no Moribito to be an interesting concept, I really enjoyed the way this world of The Twelve Kingdoms was mythically linked to our own – and how the cultural response to the kaikyaku (people from our world who fall into theirs with the passing of a mystical storm) is handled. Although the world has its fantastical oddities and mysteries, the peoples that populate it, their trials and tribulations, their feelings of animosity and companionship, are inescapably human, bringing the creative setting to life with a sense of believability and depth. This is when fantasy is at its best as far as I’m concerned – you can shove as many wizards and dragons into a story as you like and it’ll fall flat without an edge of humanness. For example, I loved the fact that the world had its own language, and that the language barrier between Kaikyaku and the native populace was of great significance, and that the world is filled with as many people eager to take advantage of you as there are apt to be helpful and friendly. The differences in ideologies and cultural outlooks from one kingdom to the next also lend the world a greater sense of realism. All these things combine to create a setting that is alive and vibrant, and easy to become attached to, as one becomes attached to a real city or country with personality.
Unfortunately, the dialogue is often stilted and seemingly unnatural (apparently every character is perfectly able to slip into a casual introspective monologue at the drop of a hat), and at the micro level, there are several small inconsistencies and poorly handled plot points dotted throughout the series which are sometimes distracting. Overall though, the story is woven together with deft hands. The series always has a strong sense of direction and an epic scope, with a story that deals with countless characters across many kingdoms, and yet which never seems bogged down, convoluted or tangential. Many anime series with fantastic plot seem to be unable to write it in a way so that the characters become emotionally involved in a profound way – but The Twelve Kingdoms really stands out from the crowd in this respect. Perhaps this is even more of an achievement given the length of the series – whereas most anime seem drawn out at 26 episodes, this show charges its way veraciously through its plot, with almost no filler to be seen. The only thing I could call filler would be the too frequent use of recapping. Perhaps it’s just because I watched the series in such quick succession, but it really did seem that there was too much time spent showing bits of previous episodes over again. The single biggest gaping flaw in the story is the lack of conclusion in Taiki’s story (leaving me looking to the novels). But for this, the story is wrapped up nicely, even without the originally planned continuation pending further novel releases.
The production on the series is very well done – far from perfect but, given the length of the series and the scale of the story, I think the studio (Studio Pierrot) did a good job at producing it. The character designs are all very well detailed and attractive, and the battle scenes (excluding the bigger army battles, which would be impossible to animate properly on a tv budget) look really good, occasionally exceptional with brutal choreography and fluid animation. As was typical of this vintage, there are numerous shortcuts taken in the animation and many imperfections, but some leeway has to be given unless one wants to declare all tv anime before digicel to be badly done excluding Bebop. The background art fits the bill, with nice and detailed scenery and a sense of exoticness to the landscape. Beyond a satisfactory visual render for the show, there isn’t much more of note to the production elements, other than perhaps some of the music, which is used sparingly but to good effect. The main theme, which plays in the opening is a great little piece, with an inviting sense of heroism and adventure to it. The voice acting shouldn’t be overlooked, with some voices well and truly making their characters; the sympathetic Taiki, the soft-spoken elegance of the Mt Hou sages, the unbashful heroism of Shoryu, and the earnest performance for the lead character, Youko, whose transformation from an insincere and insecure high school girl to a battle-worn Empress is handled with impressive believability.
Enhanced, no doubt, by these performances, the characterisation and character development in The Twelve Kingdoms is another of its triumphs. With one of the most memorable young heroines in anime, Yoko Nakajima, who is simultaneously easy to relate to and awe inspiring, and a large cast of supporting characters, each of whom have a distinct and interesting personality, this series is a joy to watch for those of us who love stories that flesh out their characters. You’ll swing from feeling pride at your favourite characters’ triumphs, to heart-wrench as they endure hardship and persecution, and lots in between. At the end of the series, you’ll be sad to see the curtains close because it will mean saying goodbye to a cast you have become attached to, whether because they are just likable or because you’ve empathised with them and watched them grow emotionally. I know I finished the series just wishing there’d be more so I could see what happens to Taiki, and what kind of rule Youko will uphold as a full-fledged Empress.
In conclusion, the series is good wholesome entertainment, with strengths in the most important fields of storytelling: plot, and character. The production won’t make your eyes widen, but it keeps up with the rest of the series. Every now and then, things feel a bit disjointed or the writing seems a little forced or unnatural, but with 45 episodes there’s plenty of content to redeem its missteps. Some arcs are more consistently gripping than others, but none of them should ever bore, and all of them had me on the edge of my seat at their climax. When I say arcs, there are only 3 major arcs, and each of them overlap, so don’t think it’s “episodic” in any way. I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy or who is just in search of an anime they can really sink their teeth into: a good old fashioned tale which is neither frivolous nor pretentious.
At the start I was pretty turned off by the series. I found the lead character, Youko Nakajima, to be utterly annoying. It didn’t help any that she cried and cried for like the first 12 episodes straight (okay, maybe 7). But when that was done with, and the new world that we are presented with is explored and explained, things started to look up.
The characters for the most part are pretty interesting. I especially liked Keiki (Youko’s Kerin – think man that can turn into what looks like a unicorn), Shouryuu ( King En), Rokuta ( Shouryu’s Kerin), Rakushun (a guy that’s really a rat) and many more. The characters all have some sort of substance, a majority of them have experienced some kind of hardship. You get to see most of them achieve such sincere growth that I for one couldn’t help but to smile at how they turned out after their individual journeys.
The plot of the story is pretty good as well, and the ideas that went into developing the backdrop are to be commended – the author was very imaginative – it works.
However, this series was far too long than was necessary. A few episodes were nothing but recaps of previous episodes, and when i say a few I mean more than 1,2,3,4…. That was annoying and really a waste.
There were quite a few side stories in the entire series (which is good) except one of the most major stories was never resolved. It was simply left…open..I kept wondering if somehow it flew past me and I didn’t realize, but after looking back thoroughly, I can say nothing came of it. I am talking about Taiki, the Kirin who disappeared along with his King. This was the start of a great side story, and it was disappointing to see that it wasn’t followed through.
Instead of wasting so much film to recap past episodes, surely it could have been used to do better justice to the novel and resolve Taiki’s story.
And to conclude, the very last episode was by far the worst episode of them all. All it did was pretty much recap the previous 2 episodes…word for word, picture for picture. If you watch episode 43 and 44, you’ve watched episode 45. Keiki, who is a very instrumental character, was pretty much left out of a majority of the episodes, and wasn’t even granted the respect of being shown at the end.
So, while this was a good story, with awesome characters, it’s not a show that I would be inclined to watch again, nor can i say it was enjoyable.
On a good note, I’ve decided to go out and get the novel. So I guess the anime has done it’s job to get me interested in the original source.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Juuni Kokuki
3. Shaman King
4. Digimon Tamers
5. Patapata Hikousen no Bouken
7. Shin Chou Kyou Ryo: Condor Hero
8. Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!
9. Groove Adventure Rave
10. Ou Dorobou Jing