They’re the best Anime that 2007 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Afro Samurai, Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi, Claymore, and more!
10: Afro Samurai
English: Afro Samurai
MAL Score: 7.36
When he was a young boy, Afro witnessed his father be cut down in a duel at the hands of a man known only as Justice. After taking the life of Afro’s father, Justice cast aside his Number Two headband and took the Number One to claim its godly powers as his own.
Years later, having obtained the Number Two headband which grants him the right to challenge the Number One, Afro moves forward in his hunt for revenge on the man who murdered his father. There is just one thing that stands in his way—everyone else in the world! Though the Number One can only be challenged by the Number Two, the Number Two can be challenged by anyone. As his enemies gather to try and take the title of Number Two, Afro must fight through a myriad of foes and obstacles if he hopes to reach the Number One and claim vengeance once and for all.
The voice over cast list start off with Samuel L Jackson (pulp fiction, Starwars) and Kelly Hu (X2: Xmen United) two A list actors very famous for their action movies. And their voices get put through the test as they use their voices for multiple characters in the series. And the voices they portray are very believable in my opinion.
As in terms of animation value, one only needs too look at their hair and their tattered clothing flowing in the wind just like in a classic samurai showdown of the old days. Everything is very artistic and not to mention VERY gory (which is a plus for me).
As expected of a 5 episode series, the story is not very detailed on character backgrounds and side stories except the main character (their website more than explains each character). But, they do throw you in the mix right away. The main character “afro samurai” is the second samurai in the world. And he is on a mission to become the number one samurai in the world. And thats where the story starts, his journey to his headquarters.
the verdict? For those who want a quick pick me up action anime that you can finish in one sitting, by all means pick this up! but if youre looking for a super long anime, youre looking in the wrong place.
First of all, the story as a whole is VERY mediocre: boy loses father, boy gets revenge on fathers killer, etc. It’s like something from Daredevil. But the thing that really, REALLY pisses me of is this: he hardly ever fights humans. Seriously. He fights killer robots, humanoids and weird monks (one armed with a bazooka!), and finally a guy with 3 arms.
That is why this series comes off as poor.
However, this is saved by the excellent animation with unique styling and excellent sounds. The artwork is great, and the voice acting by Samuel L Jackson adds the extra bad-assery that the show needs.
The charaters were pretty bad. You know how I feel about the enemies, but even Afro-Samurai is badly portrayed. He’s a 2D character, and the writers thought that if loads of bad stuff happened to someone, I’ll automaticly feel sorry for him and be on his side. No, it doesn’t work like that.
Overall, not a series worth avoiding, but only because it’s so short. There are plently of better anime to watch in the mean time.
I really had high expectations for this anime, and they were crushed for how bad the story is presented and yeah, Samuel L. Jackson is here but, that doesn’t make the anime good, the story and the characters should, not a big movie star.
The story is mediocre at best, the story follows a vengeful, full of hatred man named Afro, who saw his father the bearer of the n.1 headband being killed by the bearer of the n.2 headband named Justice just for the sole reason of becoming a god (don’t know how a headband will grant you that but…ok) and he tells Afro if he wants revenge he’ll be waiting, that’s where the 5 eps. anime starts with one problem, nonsensical bulls**t, what happened to the earth? why is technology only used by a group of old guys? why people can only kill the n.2 so they can kill n.1 and not directly? why those headbands are important anyway? or why those thing aren’t explained? don’t know and i couldn’t care less now, it was boring, the only thing they were focused on was the past, in every eps. 15 min. of his past and 3 of action but they forgot the present and the unexplained.
Art & Animation
It wasn’t bad but i didn’t like it, it’s a combination of western cartoons and anime (like Tokyo Tribe), it was ok.
The music was fine, the sound effects were bad, the voice acting was ok because only Jinno and Ninja Ninja (the one with white afro) had good voice acting and Afro (Samuel L. J.) didn’t talk much and when he did it was ok.
Mediocre characters, not appealing for me, i felt Jinno more than Afro, other than that, the characters were rushed, needed more eps. to be really good.
It was boring, i didn’t get why this is liked and popular maybe just because of Samuel L. J. and that’s it, i was going to watch the movie but only if i liked this so no movie for me, mediocre enjoyment.
9: Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi
English: The Familiar of Zero: Knight of the Twin Moons
Japanese: ゼロの使い魔 ～双月の騎士～
MAL Score: 7.45
Revered as heroes for their role in defending Tristain, Louise Fran?oise and her familiar Saito Hiraga face heavy pressure to continue protecting the Kingdom. With an uneasy peace now established within Albion, the newly crowned Queen Henrietta must deal with a political struggle brewing on the horizon. To make matters worse, a new villain has begun plotting in the shadows against the Crown.
With the continuing threats that face the Kingdom, Louise and Saito are compelled to work together once more. No longer “Louise the Zero,” the young mage’s newfound aptitude for Void magic gives her enough power to wipe out an entire village; however, wielding these abilities comes with its share of challenges. As more conflicts arise, the idea of placing honor above oneself is put into question—regardless of their answer, their only choice is to see it through until the end.
As implied by the ending of the first season, FnK is a direct continuation of the story. Several new characters are introduced almost immediately, and, while I don’t have anything against them, I’d like to point out that they (most notably Agnes) take up quite an amount of screen time with their own subplots, leaving less for the overall story. Thankfully, they aren’t dragged out for too long. Particularly refreshing is the noticeable advance in Saito and Louise’s relationship, during which several important questions are raised and decisions are made.
The animation is done on a fairly high level for the time, although it’s not anything outstanding: characters still talk out one side of their face and all that, many scenes lack smoothness—just like in the first season, all things considered. Some scenes, particularly those of burning villages, are pretty nicely done. (I swear I’m not a sociopath!) The sound work borrows most themes from the first season. They’re fine for what they are but still come off a little generic. New opening and ending are somewhat enjoyable, definitely more so than those of the first season IMO.
As for the characters, the previously known Academy residents (Kirche, Tabitha, Guiche, etc.) have much less screen time. Not sure if I like that; personally, I’d prefer to see them some more. New characters are passable, if a bit queer-looking. Siesta is still there, being apparently dumber than previously. Yes, everything has to be sacrificed for the sake of fan service. (sigh) On that note, what is particularly annoying about FnK is that fan service has increased in quantity, but definitely not in quality. Saito’s obsession with boobs might’ve been funny at first, but the obviously contrived situations become old very quickly. You might not even notice it at first, but by the last episode it will come screaming in your face. Then again, the finale itself is too silly, anyway.
All in all, with FnK Zero no Tsukaima keeps being a good addition to your collection as long as you enjoy fantasy harem comedies with a questionably high amount of hit-and-miss fan service. Many will laugh, some might even tear up; overall I think the second season is almost as enjoyable as the first, barring the certain cheesiness and an overall drop in the quality of the comedy. However, it might leave something to be desired when it comes to the story progression, so I sincerely hope they won’t drag it out for too long. Any further decrease in pace coupled with an increase in fan service could easily ruin the show. (Editing this paragraph from the future: It did ruin the show.)
As a whole, Zero no Tsukaima’s first season seems better than the second season. If I didn’t like the first season, then that would mean that I probably wouldn’t like the second season, right? Then how come I like the second season more than the first? Read on and I’ll tell you why.
The story obviously needed work. I think the problem was that they tried to fit in many different storylines at a time. There was Saito and Louise’s relationship, the ongoing war with Albion and there was Anies’ story too. Each story would have been potentially better as stand alones, especially Anies’ story, but a combination of the three isn’t such a good idea. All three at once can be too much, maybe one or two at a time would’ve been better.
Furthermore, I’m really getting tired of the Louise and Saito’s love hate comedy act. It became so predictable – Saito does something that displeases Louise (usually looking at other girls), Louise brings out her whip, screams “You damned dog!” and beats Saito up. It’s been like that since the first season. The only improvement is that both are more aware of their status, that Louise is a noble while Saito is a plain commoner, which is why they’re still not official as a couple.
I’m a little disappointed that there was less screen time for the characters from the first season. I’m sure a lot of Zero no Tsukaima fans were disappointed to see less of Kirche, Tabitha and Guiche. A good side effect from that was more exposure for Henrietta – She was barely seen in the first season so I didn’t like her back then, but the second season showed a different side of her which made me like her more. I also like the new characters, Anies and Julio. Anies has such a cool personality and background, while Julio is such a hottie. He is so much better than Guiche.
Visually, it looks the same as the first season – same colors, same backgrounds. However, I do think the character design looks different. I think the character designs look more crisp, but at the same time, the drawing became more inconsistent. I’m especially glad that there was less fanservice, or rather, more tolerable fanservice in the second season.
Another aspect that didn’t change is the voice acting. I’m glad it didn’t change at all since a lot of my favorite and famous voice actors can be found in the cast list. Rie Kugimiya (Al in Fullmetal Alchemist, Shana in Shakugan no Shana) and Satoshi Hino (Yuuji in Shakugan no Shana, Kouichi in Kimikiss) are still Louise and Saito. There’s also Ayako Kawasumi (Ruriko in Gate Keepers, Ohno in Genshiken) as Henrietta, Yui Horie (Eri in School Rumble, Hanyuu in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai) as Siesta and Takahiro Sakurai (Shun in Gatekeepers, Cloud in Final Fantasy: Advent Children) as Guiche.
I also like the music. In fact, I think the music is better this time around. In the first season, the songs were too cutesy, but in the second season, the songs were more striking and had better quality. I really like “I say yes” by Ichiko, which is the OP. It’s so different from all the other Ichiko songs I’ve heard. I think it has more power and emotion to it, which makes it so special.
Despite of its many shortcomings, I still like it better than the first season. I thought it was more funny and entertaining, I like the new characters, and I’m especially glad that there was less fanservice this time around. However, the main reason why I like the second season more than the first is potential. I thought the second season had more potential than the first, and I want to see that potential in a third season.
Fluke it was not, all told. I’d still recommend the series to anyone whose tastes seem to run in the general direction of fantasy/harem romance/politics. But despite its strong latter episodes, Futatsuki no Kishi does suffer from a few weaknesses its predecessor managed to keep to a minimum or avoid entirely.
Plot: Again we join Louise and her hapless familiar Saito at the Tristain Academy, where their relationship has grown marginally stronger. I have no complaints with how the whole inevitable Saito/Louise pairing is portrayed at first; we’re given the impression that things have moved forward for the two, despite Louise’s fondness for brandishing that riding crop, and it’s an impression we need to be given if we’re going to believe in the two as a viable and vital couple. When relationships hit a standstill in the real world, of course, things tend to go sour very soon after.
That said, one of the weakest points of the plot is its handling of the central romance. Louise and Saito make progress with one another in fits and starts, alternating between trite slapstick and almost extreme affection. It’s the slapstick that bothers me most, partly because there’s so damn much of it, and partly because the plot occasionally has to contort itself in unlikely directions simply to land Saito in unfortunate positions of lechery. Too many episodes are devoted not to progressing the underlying series of political events in any significant way, but to progressing Saito toward a pair of breasts, and Louise toward Saito and said breasts at just the wrong moment. And when they do get along, there are one or two moments of startling physicality that may make it a little difficult to fully appreciate (understandable as these moments may be, Saito and Louise being healthy teenagers and all).
Don’t get me wrong, though. Futatsuki no Kishi does have its truly sweet moments. The last episode really nails it, but as it’s the last episode, I’ll refrain from singing its praises too loudly here.
Due to Futatsuki’s focus on the central romance’s sporadic twists and turns, the political storyline suffers — a real disappointment to me, as the two arcs seemed to work so well together in the first season. The first half in particular often interrupts the continuity with breasts, Saito’s appreciation thereof, and Louise’s resultant disapproval. The shift toward politics in the second half feels like an abrupt temperature change at first, seemingly for the production team as much as we viewers, as the general organization of episodes seven and eight came across as a bit shoddy to me. When the suddenness levels out, however, we get a solid final four episodes. If you were a fan of the politics in the first season, hang in there; it’s ultimately worth it.
Characters: I have two major problems with the characterization in Futatsuki, the first being inexplicable personality shifts. The first season gave us a surprisingly strong cast, and I looked forward to said cast developing further from where they left off, but this isn’t always the case. Saito, for example, seems at times to have been demoted into your average, everyday pervert. Siesta’s resolve to wrest Saito’s affections from Louise isn’t surprising, considering her acts of momentary boldness in the previous season, but her willingness to throw herself at Saito is a bit disconcerting. These divergences don’t seem to be indicative of the kind of change one thinks of when discussing character growth.
Secondly, I didn’t appreciate the marginalization of some characters. New characters Agnes and Julio ultimately earn our interest, but season one set Kirche and Tabitha up for a bit of explication, and we hardly see them at all this time around. I feel bad for Tabitha’s seiyuu, having to make the trip down to the studio to record a grand total of three or so lines. With Tabitha and Kirche out of the way, it goes without saying that Guiche and Montmorency don’t get much screen time, either.
On the other hand, those recurring characters who are further fleshed did good things for me. I couldn’t help being interested in Colbert’s history and plight, and Delfringher, who has to be the cleverest talking sword in all anime-dom, is even more hilariously pithy than before. Even Henrietta shows her many good and bad sides this time around.
Setting: Tristain Academy hasn’t much changed, and, had the majority of the show been set therein, the place may have gotten old. Fortunately, we’re introduced to a variety of locales as things move along — a surprising number, really, considering how much of the plot is fanservice-centric (Saito doesn’t let circumstances keep him down, so to speak). Our heroes visit such settings as an underground vault, a snowy mountain, and Louise’s ample home, traveling between Tristain and Albion, the flying faux-Britain.
We also gain insight into the general level of technology with the introduction of Tristain’s musketeers. Despite this title, the guns employed in Futatsuki are decidedly similar to rifles, in terms of accuracy; it seems that magic coexists with a higher level of technology than was previously made clear. By implication, this tautens the dynamic between aristocrats and plebeians, as those not gifted with magic are proven to be perfectly formidable marksmen. Perhaps the aristocrats’ control is not as total as it seems.
Art: Futatsuki brings back the same clean, simple, Shakugan no Shana-esque art style as the original, retaining its reputation as the pastel equivalent of Shana’s darkness and fire. Interestingly, the animation itself alternates between very good and shoddy, particularly where fight scenes are concerned, but it balances out in most episodes to be more than acceptable. I’m happy that J.C. Staff decided to forgo the use of 3D computer graphics in rendering flight sequences; such graphics have their place, that place being Last Exile and not here.
Sound: Based on music alone, I would have rated Futatsuki below its predecessor in the sound department. Music throughout the series often comes across as generic action fare, and besides, the opening and ending themes didn’t do as much for me this time. Maintaining the score at 7, however, are certain scenes in which the voice acting is absolutely dead-on. Futatsuki’s all-star vocal cast definitely delivers.
Verdict: Personally, I prefer my shows to be solid from beginning to end, rather than loaded with meaning, progress, and spectacle in the final four episodes. Either way, Futatsuki no Kishi turned out to be worthwhile thanks to that final stretch, particularly for a viewer who enjoyed the first season as much as I did. It’s ultimately worth your attention as a follow-up to Zero no Tsukaima and a segue into the forthcoming season three, but be warned that it has its shaky spots.
MAL Score: 7.76
When a shapeshifting demon with a thirst for human flesh, known as “youma,” arrives in Raki’s village, a lone woman with silver eyes walks into town with only a sword upon her back. She is a “Claymore,” a being manufactured as half-human and half-youma, for the express purpose of exterminating these monsters. After Raki’s family is killed, the Claymore saves his life, but he is subsequently banished from his home. With nowhere else to go, Raki finds the Claymore, known as Clare, and decides to follow her on her journeys.
As the pair travel from town to town, defeating youma along the way, more about Clare’s organization and her fellow warriors comes to light. With every town cleansed and every demon destroyed, they come closer to the youma on which Clare has sought vengeance ever since she chose to become a Claymore.
In the world of Claymore, monsters called “Yoma” roam around the land disguising as ordinary humans and eating their guts. In order to combat these beings an organization with no name creates warriors that are human-Yoma hybrids, the titular Claymores. Our narrative follows a particular Claymore named Clare as she travels the land, fighting Yoma and completing missions for the organization. You quickly learn that there’s a particular Yoma she’s chasing after to take revenge for the death of someone she loved. Unfortunately, the one she’s chasing is a particularly powerful variety called an awakened being. So, how does the series manage the premise?
Let’s start with the problems. The biggest one is the ending. Now, let’s be as fair as possible. There’s no way they could go through the story of the entire manga, even if you only include the bits that had been released at that point. That being said, the part they do end on is kind of rushed and very much unsatisfying. A lot of the story is also pretty standard action fare. It isn’t really bad, but it does nothing new either. Clare goes to a place, fights a thing, gets stronger, lather, rinse and repeat.
Now, there are some good things about the story too. The episodes that deal with Clare’s back story are quite brilliant. The series also does build up a world that has a lot of potential intrigue, although it isn’t nearly taken full advantage of in the anime. The series is also good about introducing major plot points well in advance of the point in the story that they become really important.
Most of the major characters in Claymore are quite interesting. The Claymores are nicely varied and the best character moments in the series are among them. The biggest issue with them is that most of their basic back stories are all very samey, at least the ones you see. Dead family because of Yoma and then she became a Claymore. I suppose it does make sense given the sacrifices they have to make to become Claymores. Doesn’t seem like the thing you’d get into if you had a loving and supportive family but it still gets a bit repetitive when the series wants you to feel sorry for a particular character because of her tragic past that happens to be virtually identical to the tragic pasts of all of these other characters. The antagonists do have some depth to them too, which is nice for an action oriented series. The secondary characters are largely under-developed, but most of them serve well enough for what they need to do.
After all that let’s get to the big problem the series suffers from in terms of characters, Raki. Just imagine the most obnoxious, useless sidekick character you can think of and you’ve probably got a character similar to Raki. He’s a young boy who gets rescued by Clare and then starts following her around while contributing nothing of value to anything. As a narrative device, he serves two purposes. The first is to give the series an excuse to explain information about the organization. Which could have been done without him if they’d been clever with their dialogue. The other purpose he serves is to give Clare an anchor to her humanity. Although I would argue that they could have easily made her a stronger character by giving her a more introspective anchor, like her memories of Teresa or her own determination, and dispensed with the twit altogether. But instead we had to have this obnoxious brat with no good dialogue or moments. I don’t know what ultimately happens to him in the manga, but I hope it involves death by fire.
There are plenty of positives about the art. The action scenes are magnificent. The backgrounds are vivid and nicely detailed. They also do put effort into making the Claymores look different in spite of them all having the same outfits, hair and eye colours. There are two major problems with the art, though. The first is the way they do blood. This is one of those series where blood frequently spurts from wounds as though it’s shooting out of a high pressure hose. Furthermore, the lighting in some scenes makes the Yomas’ blood look like a neon purple hue. Which is practically guaranteed to drain the tension given how silly it looks when a liquid that strongly resembles grape kool-aid is spraying into the air. The second problem is the outfit that claymores wear. It’s a tight, white bodysuit with a cape and the only armoured bits are around the shoulders, fingerless gloves and making up the skirt. Now, they can regenerate quite a bit of damage but it still makes no sense for them to leave quite literally all of their vitals exposed. Nor does it make sense for them to wear something that’s going to ride up in the worst ways into battle.
They did get some really good actors. Kuwashima Houko, who also showed up in last week’s review as Kita Michiru, voices Clare. Paku Romi, Mizuki Nana, Orikasa Ai, Takayama Minami and Inoue Kikuko all give great performances. The one weakness is Raki’s actor, Takagi Motoki. That isn’t to say he’s a bad actor, I really haven’t heard him in enough roles to make a good judgment, but he plays a character who spends the bulk of his dialogue either crying or being vaguely perky. As such, he doesn’t get the chance to demonstrate any real range. The music is pretty standard stuff, except when it comes to tragic or intense scenes. The composition work in those is really good.
There is a bit of les-yay in this series. Clare’s attachment to Teresa comes across as a young girl’s first crush. Jean and Clare get some subtext laden moments. Several of the other Claymores get scenes with each other that could be read as having romantic undertones as well. Particularly Helen and Deneve. That being said, the series ultimately does nothing with these relationships that’s definitive, so it’s ultimately left open to interpretation. So I’m going to give it a ho-yay factor of a 3/10.
Claymore does have quite a bit that’s good. A lot of the characters are well done, the premise is interesting, the acting is largely good and the action scenes are awesome. However, it also has a lot of issues. It ends at a bad point, Raki exists, there are questionable art decisions, Raki exists, it draws on quite a few cliches and Raki exists. In the end, the series is still decent enough for what it is but it’s certainly not a classic or among the best. My final rating for it is a 6/10. If the premise sounds interesting or you’re looking for something relatively quick with some good action, check it out, unless you don’t want to deal with an annoying sidekick. Next week I’ll look at another request, Welcome to the NHK.
From the beginning the story is very easy to follow. You have Claymores (strong female warriors) and it is the job of these Claymores to slay the Yoma. The story basically follows Clare as she travels to slay these Yoma, which get increasingly difficult to defeat as the story goes on. As a character Clare is developed so well that your opinion of her will change constantly throughout the series. Knowing her past before she became a Claymore and her current self makes it hard to believe that those two are the same person. What’s disappointing is that some of the other main characters are not as developed as Clare but at least they produced good enough results. Raki being the main supporting character is really the only annoying character and doesn’t really bring much to the story. As the story goes on it changes completely from the original hunt and kill Yoma, onto a more interesting and compelling storyline with amazing battles.
The fight sequences are just amazing and what helps it is the superb animation quality, thanks to "Madhouse" (also producer of "Death Note"). A lot of detail is put into every aspect of animation, with amazing lighting effects, detailed backgrounds and realistic character models. It is great to see all this kept during the bloody fight sequences however I do feel some corners are cut which just loses some of its essence (e.g. when the arms move so fast it does the typical DBZ speed attacking effect).
The music is fantastic with a magnificent orchestral score mixed in with some wicked bass and rockin’ tunes. It’s perfect in setting the right atmosphere; drama or action, it does well in both however there are times, mostly during fights, that the music can get a little messy.
Overall this ends up becoming an interesting anime that actually brings something new to the saturated shounen anime market. It manages to stay true to the manga storyline throughout however the story ends up moving at a very fast pace but the benefit of this is that every episode counts and there isn’t any screen time wasted by: pointless flashback, training episodes, prolong deaths, etc. It’s a shame that the anime deviated from the manga slightly near the end, which is bad news to manga fans and it means there’s less chance for it continuing.
That is the backdrop of what you are going to be experiencing. Fortunately (or unfortunately), that should leave you wanting for more. This story is set in a fantasy land set in medieval times where creatures called Yoma hide within human civilization.
Many (but not all) of the normal humans fear the claymores because they are made of half of what they are afraid of: the Yoma. But they are a necessary evil since they are the only ones strong enough to combat these horrible beasts. Not many people know much about Claymores. Just as mysterious as they sound, you will know very little about the inner workings of their organization, except for a few important rules. This story surrounds one character only known as Clare and basically shows how one becomes a claymore. From human life, to selection, to training, to assignments, and then to tougher assignments… typical shonen anime right? They way they tell Claire’s exploits is a pretty good idea. They pretty much “Tarantino”. That is a great way to explain how this universe works, well I enjoy moves told in this fashion too (some folks won’t). This shows how emotion plays an important role in the show how their human half creates many internal conflicts with themselves.
There’s mainly one main character and like 40 supporting characters. Unlike most anime out there that keeps EVERY character alive, this one actually does the dirty deed of killing off characters, which I enjoy very much. Not the killing part but more of the reality of it. Friends live and die just as willingly as the enemies. And that is very refreshing in the sea of Naruto’s and Bleach’s. You’ll actually get a good amount of face time with all the claymores they present to the viewers. You’ll still remember who favorite ones are. This is one of the very few anime that I actually remember most of the characters’ names. Not only does each one have a unique look and attitude, but they also have specific powers that separates them from them all. Half way through the anime, im sure you will find a handful of favorite blond warriors. My personal favorite is Clare.
You can’t mention anything about the artwork without talking about the character design. I think this is one of the best character designs I’ve ever seen in an anime. Not just because it mostly consists of beautiful slender blond haired sexytime warriors but, in the variety of how different each warrior is from each other. From hair style to warrior insignias, to even the swords they carry all have subtle details that u can easily remember or recognize. Even their “alter-ego’s” are unique to each warrior. And you cant have medieval fighting giant monsters without great backdrops and this show has those in spades. As many fight scenes there are in this show, the backdrops are just awesome. From abandoned towns, to forest fights at dusk, to even fights in dark dreary caves, they’re all situated in different places. Sure they sound very typical but with as many variations in the villains they fight, they all feel very fresh when watching them. The background animations like the random civilians, breaking objects, sparks, and fire embers are all here. They don’t look anything impressive but they do add wonders tot he fighting. Most notably the blood… and this anime shows them by the bucket load. It never stays away from violence and thats what makes this show great. Not many current anime shows this much gratuitous violence and its very refreshing after watching a few dozen slice of life school comedies.
If there was anything to complain about the show, it would have to be the sound effects. You can tell most of the stock sound effects were from other shows and movies. Most notably would be the Star Wars laser fire sound when a Claymore “transforms.” When I first heard it i was laughing so hard. On top of that other sound effects are just very normal like growling and sword clanging etc. The music is also a little on the weak side. They could have done better with some of the ‘theme’ songs like when clare ‘gets angry’ or when she ‘learns a new skill’ the songs appear pretty weak. But they do break out in some serious guitar riffs and rock instrumentals, which are pretty impressive compared to the other music in here. But the opening songs and closing songs are one of my favorite parts of this show. J Rock is really catchy and seems very fitting for this show throughout. Hell, I have it playing in my car as we speak!
The story was very interesting through the first 20 episodes. Representing a little shonen with Clare’s development cycle. But the end sorta feels like they’re selling the series a little short. At this ending i felt kind of cheated just like what i felt on the ending of Code Geass. If you want to watch a good story driven show this is a good one to watch, but be wary of Raki and the ending.
Oh by the way, please try to watch the entire show before you go and give it 10’s or whatnot. The last 4-6 episodes will disappoint, I guarantee.
7: Saiunkoku Monogatari
English: The Story of Saiunkoku
MAL Score: 7.92
Shuurei Kou, the daughter of a noble yet impoverished family, is a clever young lady who dreams of becoming a government official and contributing toward her country. However, her dream is out of her reach as such a position is forbidden to women. While her father works a low wage job as an archivist at the palace, Shuurei has to juggle odd jobs to make ends meet. Then, one day, an unexpected visit changes her life.
Shuurei is called to assist Ryuuki Shi, the new emperor who is known for slacking on his duties and preferring the company of men. Tempted by the generous compensation, she readily accepts the chance to become the young emperor’s consort for six months. Luckily, she is not alone as Seiran Shi, her trusty friend, joins her as Ryuuki’s bodyguard. While tasked with transforming the new emperor into a responsible ruler, court life and politics prove troublesome as Shuurei faces the challenges of her new life.
Set in a fictional country, Saiunkoku Monogatari centers on the idea of meaningful leadership, its adversities and the rewards that come alongside a prospering nation.
At first glance, the plot may seem a bit shallow – a girl becomes the consort of a reluctant Emperor, let the silliness begin! – but wow does it become so much more. Essentially, Saiunkoku Monogatari is an engaging drama filled with political intrigue disguised as a simple reverse harem story. Even the simplest details connect to overall story and the plot becomes more and more developed as the show progresses.
Not much to say here other than Saiunkoku Monogatari does have an overdose of bishies. Don’t let that deter you though. None of the characters are there just for looks.
Pretty well done score. Some of the highlights include anytime Shuurei plays the erhu and the OP/ED themes.
This show has a lot of characters, but they are introduced slowly and all of the major characters have their backgrounds fleshed out enough. Shuurei is easily one of the best female protagonists I’ve come across. She has a girl power! attitude that never comes off as obnoxious. Her interactions with the rest of the cast are entertaining to watch. She has a magnetic personality, but not to the point of ridiculousness (Honda Tohru comes to mind). Though truth is, I kind of like all of the characters. Some stand outs include Seiran (one of my top ten favourite characters ever) and Ryuuren with his crazy flute.
The plot twists, the characters, the everything. I finished this show some time ago, but I wouldn’t mind rewatching it. It’s the kind of show where you miss little details the first time around.
My enjoyment of this show compels me to give it a 10. The story is just so much more than a little blurb of a summary. The characters really grew on me, the soundtrack added to the mood. The beautiful backgrounds always caught my eye. There’s just so much substance to this show – it’s not for someone looking for a simple story. Prepare to be sucked into the world of Saiunkoku Monogatari, I know I was.
The story focuses on Shuurei Kou, a resident of Saiunkoku. She dreams of becoming a government official and throughout the series, we see her chasing that dream, as well as juggling love, friendship and work at the same time.
I greatly admire Shuurei, as well as the other women characters in this series. She\’s definitely not like Miaka, personality-wise (she does look a bit like Miaka). She\’s smart, capable, and courageous; She carries with her all the virtues that women should have, and the story focused more on her qualities rather than her appearance (honestly, the boys are prettier than Shuurei). I believe that Saiunkoku Monogatari is one rare anime that portrays how women can make a huge difference in their societies. First you have Shuurei, who defied all odds and emerged superior in the end. There\’s also Sai Rin, who surpassed her male sibling and became one of the heads of the merchant alliance. There\’s Eiki, who refuses to have anyone tell her what to do.
Even with the slightly feminist theme, I do believe that Saiunkoku Monogatari can gain a male audience. The male characters are also very chivalrous and noble. My favorite would be Ensei and Seiran. Both of them are ready to give up their lives for the future of their loved ones. There\’s also Eigetsu, who is able to accomplish so much at such a young age. If you\’re not satisfied with that, there\’s always the chinese proverbs that are given in every episode (they double as episode titles).
Madhouse never fails to amuse me. I always say that anything Madhouse makes is automatically a must see for me. However, I am a bit disappointed this time. The animation for Saiunkoku Monogatari wasn\’t so impressive (but the last few episodes improved). I noticed that the movements weren\’t so smooth (Fight scenes need work), and I wasn\’t a fan of the color scheme either. It wasn\’t that bad, but it wasn\’t that good either.
Voice acting was very interesting. I actually had a chance to see clips of the voice actors working, and it was very entertaining to watch Houko Kuwashima (Shuurei) and Tomokazu Seki (Ryuuki). I think they did a very good job of portraying their respective characters\’ personalities.
The music wasn\’t that impressive at first either, but in time I started to like it. I even had the lyrics to the opening and ending themes memorized. I guess I didn\’t like it too much because I usually prefer contemporary anime music, but it did fit the theme of the series very well. I think they even used Chinese instruments to produce the music.
Truth be told, I usually prefer anime series that are set in modern time and in the real world. The fact that it\’s set in ancient China threw me off at first, but by watching it I was able to see what a gem it really is. It was very entertaining, educational and even funny at times. Saiunkoku Monogatari was able to sway my preference because it is truly an inspiring tale and it should be seen by everyone (And I can\’t wait for the second season!).
Speaking strictly about Saiunkoku Monogatari, there is an overall plot that contains many shorter stories within it. One of the best things about this series is that it seems spontaneous – one event leads directly to another. However, this shift is never fluid. There are always obstacles that the main character – Kou Shurrei – must overcome. In that sense, it’s much like real life. One of the most consistent obstacles is her being a woman in the "men’s world" of politics. Another main impediment that we can perhaps relate to better, is love. The many men that Shurrei comes across causes her to weigh the importance of work versus love. Being a 17-year-old girl, she is easily confused, and what she decides to do in terms of her relationships is quite a suspenseful part of the anime.
Saiunkoku Monogatari is hilarious, has a plot with amazing depth, components that everyone can compare to, and deals with serious issues in an entertaining way. It’s quite ingenius, and quite frankly, I can’t wait to watch the second season. ^^
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.
5: Saiunkoku Monogatari 2nd Season
English: Tales of Saiunkoku
Japanese: 彩雲国物語 第2シリーズ
MAL Score: 8.05
Shuurei Kou and her friend Eigetsu To, a boy prodigy of humble origins, have been appointed co-governors of the Sa province, one of the eight provinces in Saiunkoku. Together, they decide to make the province an academic research center in the hopes of bringing a long overdue prosperity to the region.
However, while Shuurei goes to the capital to obtain approvals for the ambitious project, the Sa province’s recently established tranquility is threatened by a pandemic that brings both death and turmoil as it begins to spread among the people. Counting on Eigetsu to monitor the situation until her return, Shuurei seeks support from her allies to find a suitable treatment. Yet, Eigetsu’s past personal conflicts distract him, providing an opportunity for opponents of Shuurei’s position to take advantage of the troubles and undermine her authority.
Becoming a government official has been Shuurei’s lifelong dream, but it is no easy task for the first woman undertaking such a position. Will she step up and overcome this great challenge or give in to the looming adversities?
Story – 10
The second season starts off around where the last one ends, so I recommend you watch the first season before you tackle this one. Anyway, the second season is easily even more intricate than the first, with Ryuuki finally taking charge as emperor, something not all members of government appreciates. New enemies appear, and the clans continue to feud as always. Every detail in the story is important, something viewers should be used to by now.
Animation – 9
I really appreciated all the costumes this time around. Everyone’s hair, the jewelery, and building designs, all of it is so wonderfully done. Actions scenes could be a bit better, but that’s not really what the story is about.
Sound – 9
It’s the same, top-quality sounds as the first season. The OP/ED haven’t changed, which makes me glad. They’re really fitting. The seiyūs are kind of awesome and wonderfully casted. Some standouts include: Serian, played by the same seiyu as Xingke from Code Geass (ironic since they’re both very similar characters) and Ran Ryuuren (Hei from Darker than BLACK). Okay, the whole cast is amazing.
Character – 10
All the characters from the previous season appear once again, gaining even more development. Kourin and Eigetsu get a particularity epic storyline, something I did not expect, but ended up loving. Shuurei is as motivated as before, trying her hardest to succeed. Ryuuki is also doing his best, and slowly building a group of loyal supporters. Seiran has found a place for himself in the royal guard, and is finally allowing his true personality to show through. Everyone is wonderfully written as usual, probably thanks to Saiunkoku Monogatari being based off a series of novels.
Enjoyment – 10
The second season takes everything I love about this series and adds even more. All my favourite secondary characters get their chances to shine, and some new characters bring fresh life to the show (Go Jyūsan-hime!). I was impressed by the costumes and soothed by the sounds of the erhu. Usually, second seasons aren’t as good as their firsts, but Saiunkoku Monogatari does not stick to this norm.
You know that series that you obsess over continuously like some druggie? The series that makes you even risk staying up at night and pretending to be asleep when your parents check on you but you have to watch it? It was that sort of series for me.
The thing about this anime is that it completely sucks you in. At first I was very reluctant to watch it because of the whole ‘harem’ thing which really annoys me but I decided to give it a shot when the “ohmygosh exams are coming” craze hit my head. And then I couldn’t stop watching.
I watched both seasons in a week. I sacrificed a lot to finish it. AND I DON’T REGRET ANYTHING. The characters are all so different and they feel so real, it feels good to be able to distinguish between them. In season two the story just got better and there were times I bit my pillow in frustration or to simply stop myself from screaming. My family caught me talking and gushing while pointing at the laptop screen but they decided to leave me alone. I would like to thank them for that.
Then there were the new costumes and Shuurie got some new hairstyles. Good for her. BY THE WAY, Shuurie (am I spelling her name right? I can’t tell. I feel like a mindless zombie because I just finished watching the last episode) is my all time favorite heroine now! I rarely get to see such a strong female lead who doesn’t annoy me and, for some funny reason, in my eyes she just got prettier and prettier after every episode. And I was like, have you ever met such a beautiful character, both inside and out?
New characters were introduced and some older characters’ background details were explored. Very touching stuff, actually. These people feel real to me. I’m glad Ryuuki became stronger in the end and found his resolve and learned to be a better emperor.
There’s so much going on inside my head right now. It’s a jumbled mess. But, the most important question is, WHERE IS SEASON THREE? Breaks my heart. honestly.
Excuse me while I go look for the novels online. Goodbye (^_^)/
4: Dennou Coil
English: Den-noh Coil
MAL Score: 8.08
In the near future, augmented reality has become a key part of daily life. A gentle middle school girl named Yuuko “Yasako” Okonogi and her family have just moved to Daikoku City despite rumors of people disappearing. There, her grandmother, nicknamed “Mega-baa,” runs a shop called Megasia that specializes in illegal tools which interact with parts of the virtual world.
Mega-baa also hosts an unofficial detective agency called “Coil,” a group of children around Yasako’s age who find and handle corruption of the virtual world. Yasako gets involved with the group when Fumie Hashimoto, a playful member of Coil, helps rescue her cyberdog Densuke after getting trapped in virtual space while chasing a mysterious virus. Also investigating these corruptions and viruses is an abrasive hacker named Yuuko Amasawa, who the others take to calling Isako.
Can Coil discover the truths behind the mysterious viruses and corruption, and if they can, at what cost?
ANIME: Dennou Coil was directed by Mitsuo Iso (well known for his key animation work on early Ghibli movies and Neon Genesis Evangelion) and was produced by Madhouse (well-known for their work on Death Note and Paranoia Agent). It ran on Japanese TV from May 12th, 2007 till December 1st, 2007 and, as of the time of this writing, has not been licensed Stateside.
STORY: The year is 2026, eleven years after the technology to turn the internet into augmented reality by the use of immersive “cyberglasses” was developed. Yuko “Yasako” Okonogi, a young girl in sixth grade, moves to Daikoku City, the center of the technology behind the glasses, and is strongarmed by her grandmother into joining her “investigation agency”, composed of children with powerful illegal software codes and tools. On her first day in town, she runs into Yuko “Isako” Amasawa, a cold, aloof master hacker chasing a mystery in Daikoku City, that will soon involve both Yukos and their friends…
Dennou Coil is probably one of the best shows I’ve watched in a good long time. This show has been in development for about ten years, and with the incredible subtlety of this entire show, I can believe it. Every aspect of the technology, how the world works, and every tiny detail that one can think of for this blends together to make the world seem incredibly believable, if not possible in just a few years’ time. It’s just futuristic enough to seem amazing, yet grounded enough in reality to seem incredibly possible.
The plot and characters in this are incredibly well-constructed as well. Characters are slowly developed through various interactions and their relationships to others in episodes, and even though characters may not take a prominent role for a few episodes, they’re always there in the background. And the plot itself is intricately woven; the smallest details from the earliest episodes, which seem like throwaways, come back to play in full force in the last half of the show. The first third of the show establishes the basics of the world and characters, then comes a brief filler arc that slowly brings things to the fore, and then the last third of the show takes everything that’s come before and takes it into far darker places than everything up until this point would have you believe was possible. The final episodes of the show are probably some of the darkest I’ve seen in a show aimed towards a younger audience to date, but, regardless, resolve amazingly well.
ART: Dennou Coil has a bit simpler character design than other shows that Madhouse has done; the kids and adults are a bit more angular, and are a bit less intricately designed than, say, characters from Death Note. However, their traditional realism shows through in the interaction of the virtual environment and the real environment; incredible amounts of detail are put into the various software codes and tools that the children use, along with how they manifest (and yes, some will call similarities on some of the patterns that show in the hackers’ codings and the arrays in Fullmetal Alchemist, but really, let’s not be nitpicky here).
MUSIC: The background music for this series doesn’t particularly stand out, but, regardless, is a well-done score, and worth a listen to. The OP and ED are done by the same singer, Ayako Ikeda, and are some of the best opening and ending songs I’ve heard in a long while, the OP and its eerieness in general especially.
SEIYUU: Fumiko Orikasa (well-known for her roles in Hellsing as Seras and in Saikano as Chise) takes a starring role in this as Yasako and does an incredible job in the role. Otherwise, all the other seiyuu in this production do a solid job.
LENGTH: Dennou Coil was meticulously planned, I think, to be just the right length; not too long, so that it wouldn’t drag, but not too short, so that there wouldn’t be information overload. No complaints here, in general, a wonderful job in planning – then again, ten years in development does that to a show.
OVERALL: One of the best shows that I’ve seen in a good long time, with incredible amounts of detail, and well-constructed plots and characters, and solid background music, art, and seiyuu.
An underappreciated gem of the 2007 season; watch it.
OVERALL: 47/50; 94% (A)
STORY – Dennou Coil’s story is a very unique and interesting take on a popular old subject: digital technologies and the human consciousness are both subjects that have been explored for years. Usually though, a series’ protagonists are similar in age to its primary target audience, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here as Dennou Coil’s themes are actually rather sophisticated and suggest a complexity beyond what may be expected when the characters are in the 10-11 year old range. The connection between the consciousness and a digital projection of oneself has been examined in series such as Ghost in the Shell, but it’s definitely interesting to see this sort of stuff with Digimon-aged characters. The story is good and solid, but what can be a point of frustration is the leisurely pace the plot seems to progress at for the first half of the series. Though it’s a mystery at its core, the series often lapses into almost slice-of-life or simple adventure-type episodes that seem to contribute very little to the overall story.
This was indeed frustrating to me, and I was close to dropping the series as a result. But I stuck it through on my brother’s recommendation, and I was definitely rewarded. Almost all the "useless"-seeming episodes contain nuggets of important information, and even the recap-like episode has bits of new, and very relevant, material slipped in between the recycled animation. In retrospect, this was actually incredibly clever as it mimics the mystery of the series and forces you to recall things later as you suddenly realize their importance. Keep your eyes pried.
Once you hit the second half of the series, everything starts progressing very quickly. The tension rises, the suspense more than doubles, and the mystery deepens as the characters explore avenues and possibilities they hadn’t considered before. The story becomes even more engaging and intriguing as you delve into the pasts of various characters, intertwined in ways they don’t realize. It gets scary too, in that wonderful creepy way that most horror movies aren’t able to accomplish. Watch the second half of this series by yourself with the lights out in the middle of the night. It’s fun. 8D
CHARACTER – The two main characters in Dennou Coil are both wonderfully in-depth characters. Yasako and Isako appear to be polar opposites, and it’s really great watching their relationship change and grow throughout the course of the series as they are forced against each other and along side one another by circumstances. As they’re both new the area at the start of the series, it’s also interesting to follow their interactions with the other children as they carve out their places among them. They’re great foil characters, and though this comparative nature is made obvious by their similarly pronounced given names (they’re both named Yuko, though the kanji is different, allowing them to have different nicknames), I don’t really feel as if that cheapens it. Additionally, though I usually tend to dislike wholly "good" characters, the fact that we’re dealing with children makes their personalities and motives easier to sympathize with, regardless of "goodness." Besides, it’s not that hard to believe that children just aren’t that jaded, even if sometimes they pretend to be.
The rest of the children vary in complexity of character, but none of them seem completely flat or boring. Daichi and his gang may seem pretty stereotypical at first glance, but all of them are explored further (sure, Daichi and Denpa more than the rest, but even the lackeys have some ulterior motives). Fumie, Akira, and Kyoko interested me the least (Kyoko annoyed the hell out of me, really), but they facilitated plot points well enough, and the latter two are minor enough (and young enough) to not really matter much beyond that. Haraken I kind of have mixed feelings about because his character never seemed to change much, even when it seemed like he should have. It was an understandable staticness, to some extent, but it still bugs me somewhat. Still, his relationship with his aunt was fun to follow, and I think it’s kind of hilarious that the aunt is only seventeen, but considering the ages of most of the other characters, that’s pretty damn old! Then again, there’s also Mega-baa… who’s ancient, but possibly more childlike and energetic than anyone else in the series!
All in all, I was very happy with the characters in Dennou Coil, even the ones that appeared kind of generic found ways to make themselves entertaining for the most part.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – I don’t think there was anything especially notable about the art or animation in this series, but both were definitely fitting. The characters looked appropriate for their given ages, and there was a softness about the general style that seemed to suggest the same. The animation I would consider to be on the high end of average; the explosions, the shininess of metatags and metabugs, as well as the Illegals were all very well done.
MUSIC – I’m very fond of both the opening and end themes in Dennou Coil; both have this sort of mysteriousness and anticipation to them that go very well with the story and general mood of the series. The music present in the series itself must not have been anything too memorable since I can’t seem to recall anything right now, but nothing stands out as bad either so. There may actually be some good tracks I can’t think of right now though; there were some pretty nice action and suspense scenes, and I’m sure the music was appropriate for them. I just can’t recall anything right now.
VOICE ACTING – This series hasn’t even been licensed yet, I don’t think, so subbed is your only choice for now. Average? Yeah, I’d say about average, average-good? Most of the voices were pretty nice, especially for more eccentric characters like Mega-baa and Haraken’s aunt, but otherwise nothing particularly notable.
OVERALL – I think Dennou Coil is a great series, despite its slow pacing at times. You can consider it reflective of reality — mysteries aren’t always solved immediately, and children tend to have short attention spans, so they may wander off and do something else for a little while before being reminded of the task at hand. Mystery is a pretty neglected genre in anime in my opinion, but Dennou Coil handles it very well while matching familiar digital/reality themes with characters that aren’t traditional to them. Everything wraps up neatly in the end (yes, that does mean it’s a mystery that has a good ending!), and I was left feeling very satisfied.
The story basically follows the adventures of different elementary kids who are trying to uncover the secrets of this augmented reality. As the series begins it doesn’t give the viewer much to go on, except a few things you’ll notice and able to pick up on straight away. Once having a basic understanding about what this whole plot and story is about, it becomes very interesting to watch, as these little kids end up discovering different mysteries. The characters themselves are pretty ordinary and don’t really do much for the story, accept later on once the story begins to find its place. However viewers may find themselves getting annoyed by some of the characters, but the intriguing and dramatic story will help you forgot about these little annoyances.
The animation has a certain uniqueness to it, as it seamlessly blends in drawn animation with 3D CG. It is not all the time when you find an anime which works so well with CG but it actually helps portray the half-virtual world in this one. The music is pretty good as well, with fun melodies while normal things are happening, dreary tunes for the mysterious moments and exciting tunes for the pockets of action throughout.
Overall Dennou Coil is an intriguing sci-fi anime that is similar to “Ghost in the Shell”, in the way that it shows another possibility of future’s technology. The story itself is very interesting, as it somehow portrays a realistic possibility of developed city, whilst also managing to incorporate many mysterious supernatural elements as well. This helped to add some incredibly intense drama in the highly eventful 2nd half of the series. Yet amongst all the fun, interesting and exciting episodes are a few incredibly dull and boring ones, in the 1st half, which let the series down.
Other than this, Dennou Coil is definitely an anime worth watching and I would have given it a higher overall rating but the uneventful 1st half of the series prevented me from doing that.
3: Seirei no Moribito
English: Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit
MAL Score: 8.16
On the precipice of a cataclysmic drought, the Star Readers of the Shin Yogo Empire must devise a plan to avoid widespread famine. It is written in ancient myths that the first emperor, along with eight warriors, slew a water demon to avoid a great drought and save the land that was to become Shin Yogo. If a water demon was to appear once more, its death could bring salvation. However, the water demon manifests itself within the body of the emperor’s son, Prince Chagum—by the emperor’s order, Chagum is to be sacrificed to save the empire.
Meanwhile, a mysterious spear-wielding mercenary named Balsa arrives in Shin Yogo on business. After saving Chagum from a thinly veiled assassination attempt, she is tasked by Chagum’s mother to protect him from the emperor and his hunters. Bound by a sacred vow she once made, Balsa accepts.
Seirei no Moribito follows Balsa as she embarks on her journey to protect Chagum, exploring the beauty of life, nature, family, and the bonds that form between strangers.
Seirei no Moribito has some of the smoothest and most fluid animation of any anime produced over the last few years. Production I.G. managed to produce one of the best looking anime of 2007, and with it, managed to introduce one of the most unique and interesting female leads in anime.
The colour palette is very “Ghibli-esque” as it mainly uses greens, browns, blues, etc, but Production I.G. has made good use of them for the characters and environements, and the overall effect gives the show a feeling more reminiscent of “Monoke Hime” or “Gedo Senki” than anything else.
Character designs are exceptional throughout the show, most especially the main and immediate supporting characters. Balsa is exceptionally well designed, and far more realistic than many other fantasy female leads. Her character is fairly muscular and stocky, yet without the extremely toned muscles shown in most other fantasies. Facially too, the designers went for realism more than anything else. Balsa is not beautiful, but not ugly either. She’s plain (in a sense), and is most definitely a woman, not a girl.
The other characters are also designed very much with realism in mind, and this actually helps to pull the viewer into the show in a big way. It’s also nice to see that attention was paid to the animals in the show as well, and it makes a nice change to see a horse in anime that actually looks like a real horse.
One thing that should be mentioned here is the design influences. Many people relate thise series to China and Japan because of the very obvious visual references to those countries (i.e. the palace, the emperor, the ninjas, etc), however this is really only a small part of the whole. In truth, Seirei no Moribito isn’t simply based on China and Japan, but is actually based on the greater Indo-Chinese region. This is reflected in the differing facial structures, customs, practices, etc, that are seen in the show. Balsa and Jiguro are originally from Kanbal, a country that shows a number of elements of Northern India/ Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet. This influence also extends to Balsa and Jiguro’s fighting style, which is very different to that of the stories other combatants. The backgounds, still scenes, the rural settings, even the mountainous regions and jungles, are very clearly based on a region of South-East Asia stretching from India to Japan, and it’s a rarity to find this kind of scope or depth of detail in anime.
The animation quality throughout the show never really lets up, and the action sequences are especially impressive. The fights are swift and well executed, and the movements of the combatants is especially impressive during the action scenes. Production I.G. have also paid attention to the different combat styles used in the show as well, and have managed to include these in the animation, which gives the fights a far more “authentic” feel.
Each episode opens with a very nice, and rather catchy, J-rock/pop ballad called “Shine”, which was performed by L’Arc-en-Ciel but never released as a single. The rest of the music in the show (composed by the famous Kawai Kenji), adds to the atmosphere and overall feel of the show. The dramatic moments, fights, and even the slow-paced scenes are all emphasized with some great background music.
The sound effects are exceptional in this show, especially as this is more of a “historical” fantasy. The background noises, the grunts, clucks, whinnies, and other noises of the various animals, the clash of steel on steel, etc, breathe life into the series, and makes the setting that much more “real”.
It goes without saying that the star of the show is Balsa, the spear wielding warrior woman, and Balsa, as a character, is one of the strongest and most unique female leads in any anime. She is muscular and stocky, possess many skills (not the least of which is her formidable fighting ability), has a strong sense of right and wrong, is very rarely indecisive, and is sensible in many ways. As I’ve said earlier, Balsa is no beauty, and this again sets her apart from many other female leads, as the designers generally try to make lead women in anime “attractive” to male audiences.
Chagum, on the other hand, is exactly how you would expect a young prince to be, but without the arrogance (which makes a nice change). What makes this series really work though, is the attention to character development that both Balsa and Chagum receive, and how, as each of them develops, their relationship with each other changes.
There are several other characters who appear throughout the series (Tanda, Touya, Saya, Jiguro, etc), all of whom receive a certain amount of development because of their association with Balsa. The nice thing about the development of the supporting characters is that it is often directly linked to the development of either Balsa or Chagum, or both in some cases. This is most especially true in the case of Jiguro, who was Balsa’s guardian and mentor as a child, and is the one who taught her how to fight with a spear. The various references and flashbacks to this character slowly begin to make sense as the series progresses, and with this clarity it is possible to understand Balsa’s character even more.
There is a downside to the characters though, in that there are other characters who receive little to no development. In addition to that, the characters who do receive development rarely get it continuously. Strangely enough though, this does very little to impact on the story or the viewers enjoyment of the show.
The story is actually a nice role reversal of the typical “rescue the princess” scenario and, although it’s meant to be a serious fantasy action drama, there are some genuinely humourous moments.
The story flows at a nice steady pace throughout the series, and although it does slow down from time to time, these are effectively the times when the majority of the character development happens. The premise was good on the whole, and although the story at times seems more like stock fantasy, there are enough differences, as well as some great character development, sound and animation, to make watching this a worthwhile experience.
This isn’t a light-hearted series, but it also doesn’t become overly dramatic. It doesn’t focus so much on action that it gives up areas of the story, and it never lets the story become so bland that you get bored of watching. It’s an interesting show to watch and the pacing of the show, as well as the slow delve into Balsa’s past, serve to ensure that you keep watching.
Although the plot may be simplistic at times, this isn’t really a show that suffers from it, especially as the show itself is more character driven than anything else. The main focus of the show, from beginning to end, are the characters. This is emphasized by the fact that the action and drama clearly take second place to each of the characters.
Overall I’d recommend this show to any Ghibli fan, and also to anyone who like shows like Claymore, Slayers, or even Rurouni Kenshin or Sword of the Stranger. It’s an extremely enjoyable example of how good a fantasy series can get if you do it right, and because of it’s characters, it will appeal to fans of many different genres.
The element of Seirei no Moribito that most screams for attention is its stunning production, and here is where my faith in Kamiyama is affirmed. The entire series has maintained an unprecedented quality of art and animation. It has the look and feel of a (good) movie, with a sweeping cinematic mode of directing that befits the stories’ expansive fantasy world, and stunningly realised landscapes that bring the show to life. More so than in any other anime I can recall, the background art in Seirei no Moribito left a profound impression on me – this could well be the finest example of background art in anime, not just for its level of detail, but for the way it is used to enhance the atmosphere of the show and draw the viewer in to its vibrant and striking settings. On top of this, the cel animation, while it could quite easily have been blessed with a higher level of detail to match its surroundings, is amazingly fluid and vital when it needs to be. The use of cel-shaded CG has been popularised among IG’s producers it seems, and it’s generally put to good use in Seirei, to animate hordes of extras in scenes such as in the towns, or when the palace assembles its army. This means that these scenes are bought to life in a way that would otherwise not be possible with a tv anime budget, successfully avoiding the common anime trap of either having a surprising absence of people in the background, or have large crowds of people inexplicably still. Unfortunately, it sticks out a bit too much on a number of occasions, providing a nagging distraction.
I think this show’s production also excels in a way that people generally don’t give credit for, and that is the expertise with which it is directed – Kenji Kamiyama’s style of directing is a subtle yet effective one. Unlike the in-your-face stylistic shots of Akiyuki Shinbo’s work (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Tsukuyomi MoonPhase, Petite Cossette), Kamiyama has presented this series in a conventional yet fresh manner. The fight sequences, particularly those in the third episode, exemplify this, where the use of camera angles serves to make the fight more engaging while not drawing from the choreography. The wide and distant shots used in and around the palace are excellent at creating its cold, detached atmosphere, and the overall choice of shots is amazingly good at highlighting the show’s beautiful scenery. As he did with his directing work on Gits SAC, Kamiyama has created a visually captivating series.
The music was a surprising achievement from the veteran, Kenji Kawai, whose scores I generally find bland and uninspired. I’m not sure why this anime marked such a great deviation from his usual standards, but the music in Seirei no Moribito is a really crucial contributor to its dramatic impact – from the urgent and threatening battle theme, to the quiet and hauntingly evocative tracks, the music delivers in every respect. I’m shocked to say that his work here was more compelling than much of Yoko Kanno’s recent work, and he wasn’t even creating music with real instruments. Fitting with the visual style of the show, the score music is very much produced in a traditional cinematic way, which does this show justice.
Unfortunately, the show’s content fails to live up to its gloss, and I think this is mainly a failure of the pacing of the script rather than of the story itself (which comes from a novel series). The bare plot is an accomplished exploration of life and adulthood, and of the connection between humanity and nature. It is set in a fantasy world, but at its core it depicts a very down-to-earth, human ordeal. Fortunately, the intricacies and depth to the characters and their relationships is well incorporated into the show – the connection formed between Balsa and Chagum gives the show most of its emotional weight. The other thing that I found to be well written is the development of Chagum himself, as he is torn from his palace life and forced to experience life and shoulder responsibility. It is satisfying to see him grow as a person as the show progresses. Perhaps the egg inside of him is a parallel to his rearing into adulthood. The problem lies in the amount of time the show takes to achieve this development, and in the unsatisfying climax.
My appreciation of a good story stems from its sense of direction toward a climax that brings together all of the crucial plot threads from throughout the show and culminates them in a burst of excitement of drama that pays off the time the viewer has spent watching it develop. Instead, the big event that the show had supposedly been leading up to was a rushed affair with a surprising lack of tension or emotional potency. The show did not have any filler per se, but by the time the conclusion was wrapped up I felt that a lot of the show’s time was poorly spent on redundant subtleties of its character development. The trailer gave a very different impression to what was delivered. Balsa and Chagum living together was nice a pleasant affair, but it lacked a sense of tension or danger that ultimately dragged down the middle of the show. The exploration of Balsa’s character was far too spontaneous and vague for my liking. I did get a strong sense of her character from her actions throughout the show, but I really think she had a lot more potential and that we were never given the kind of insight into her that was frequently hinted at.
All in all, this show left me feeling unsatisfied, like being left hungry after a serving of fine food. The show is of undeniable quality; however the writers behind it failed to capitalise on its full potential, through sloppy pacing that made its stand-out moments seem like a tease, and through its inability to deliver a conclusion that sends off the show at its peak. I recommend this show to anyone with an ounce of patience, as the subtle development of the characters and their companionship is ultimately its most rewarding component. I think this show also succeeds in its fantasy elements – its portrayal of two intersecting worlds is fascinating. Don’t go into this series expecting non-stop, heart-pounding action, because it’s a laidback show about the endearing strength of the human spirit with only intermittent bursts of excitement.
The animation for this show was superb all the way through, which is nice for a TV anime. Each episode looked gorgeous, so I liked the consistency. The unique alternate fantasy setting and protagonist of this series were a nice departure from anime convention.
The main character is a wandering thirty year old spear-wielding woman who bodyguards people for a living. She basically ends up as a guardian of a prince who’s possessed by a water spirit. His father, the emperor, orders his death to save the land from a drought, and thus the being-on-the-run-from-awesome-assassins template begins.
The assassins are awesome in this case simply because they get time to develop as characters. Not as much as the main characters, but still depicted as a cohesive unit of honourable and professional men, as opposed to remaining faceless goons who obey orders like automatons. Balsa is usually one step ahead of them but they’re hot on her heels for most of the anime and this is due to their skill and cunning, not stupid errors on Balsa’s behalf.
This characterization extends to the land most of the story is set in, so you are actually concerned about the impending doom, as opposed to many other generic anime where you really couldn’t care less.
The story is laden with feeling. Episode 17 for example has one of the most touching moments I’ve ever seen in anime, its a very brief sequence but it really put a lump in my throat. But what follows is even more emotional, with Balsa’s back story and the inevitable climax…there are really amazing moments spread out through the story, where in any other anime they would be mishandled, but in this production they hit all the right beats. I was teary eyed many a time I’m not ashamed to admit.
Seirei no Moribito has a very well written story, great direction and fantastic fight scenes, while bravely eschewing most anime narrative clichés as best as it can for 26 episodes. It does this because its adapted from a fantasy novel, and I hope they adapt the rest of the books in the series.
Its a testament to everyone involved in this production, from the writer to the animators, that a story can be so epic and yet not even have a typical antagonist. In fact it wouldnt be too far off to say that we dont really see a villain in Seirei no Moribito. Yet the conflict and drama is monumental, which makes it all the more remarkable. Sure there are characters you wouldnt want to have tea with, but the anime steers clear of generic cliches, there’s no black and white good versus bad plot, no easy resolution to everyone’s troubles.
Seirei no Moribito charts a rites of passage, a life-altering journey, the symbiotic relationship between man and nature. The characters struggle, they run and ultimately have to face their destiny head on. It’s inspiring. Why? Because the anime never talks down to the viewer, because it retains its dignity, it doesnt follow the trends of today, it sticks to the source material as best as it can.
The only bad thing I can say about this show is that the beginning credits sequence is bland and the song is too, but then I don’t like L’arc-en-ciel at all. The short sequence halfway through each episode signalling an advert break is very cool though, it slowly charts the birth of the water spirit.
If you like the medium of anime at all, you must watch this. If you’re looking for tons of action, you’ll be disappointed because this has a story to tell, and it will tell it in its own pace designed to develop characters, and yet it still has some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen in my life. If you have any taste at all, you’ll enjoy this masterful example of Production I.G’s contribution to anime.
2: Naruto: Shippuuden
English: Naruto: Shippuden
Japanese: ナルト- 疾風伝
MAL Score: 8.21
It has been two and a half years since Naruto Uzumaki left Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, for intense training following events which fueled his desire to be stronger. Now Akatsuki, the mysterious organization of elite rogue ninja, is closing in on their grand plan which may threaten the safety of the entire shinobi world.
Although Naruto is older and sinister events loom on the horizon, he has changed little in personality—still rambunctious and childish—though he is now far more confident and possesses an even greater determination to protect his friends and home. Come whatever may, Naruto will carry on with the fight for what is important to him, even at the expense of his own body, in the continuation of the saga about the boy who wishes to become Hokage.
Naruto Shippuden : Review |
Naruto. The series that sold over 220 million manga copies, winning handful of awards along the way. An anime that ranked as one of the most watched series in Japan that got tarnished by a greedy studio and has received tons of internet backlash throughout the years.
Let me start off by saying Naruto is by no means a flawless anime. It’s the exact opposite. The series had too many fillers. Sometimes the animation quality was below par and pacing can be painfully slow at times. But please bear with me here. I’m going to tell you why it has been the best experience an anime gave me in my entire life and dig into what made the series popular while also explaining its flaws.
Story – 8
The story of Naruto has been a mixed bag. While it’s not bad, it’s certainly no Berserk. But what it is, is beautiful (probably not the word that can be often used to describe a shounen anime), but it really is. It’s unpredictable, it’s thrilling, it plays with your emotions, it’s funny, it’s tragic, it’s sometimes downright frustrating but it is, more than anything, wondrous and fun while being able to take itself seriously when it needs to. It starts off where the first part of Naruto ended and the very first scenes gives us a sneak peak of things to come. The series eases you back into the world of Naruto with a slow paced , almost SOL like first few episodes. And the story then on is presented in a collection of long well constructed story arcs with the bigger picture stories of Sasuke and the Akatsuki being told parallelly till a certain point. Down the line this is series deals with more mature themes and darker tones and manage to execute well on most of those themes if not all. The story is mainly hampered (not ruined) by fillers and pacing issues which I will discuss below.
Let’s start with the filler. The amount of filler in this show is staggering. It counts as 219 total filler episodes which make up 44% of the series as a whole.
The issues that lies within the filler episodes is that they are not allowed to make any significant changes to the story or specifically its characters. This being a mainly character driven plot, this becomes a huge issue because any significant event in fillers could affect the characters so they can’t move ahead the plot line at all. So mostly what we get is poorly written mini-arcs and episodes that don’t affect any of the characters or the world in any significant way. This is worsened by the below par writing for these filler episode as they are not written by the original author Masashi Kishimoto himself.
However, there are exceptions for this. Some of the filler episodes can be genuinely enjoyable but those are few and far between. The fact that filler can’t move the plot along fuels the second big flaw. Which is,
Pacing Issues. Aside from what I’ve said above, even some of the non-filler episodes are very slow paced. This is mainly only an issue at the start of the series. If you’re into characters chilling down and wasting a lot of time, this may sit well with you. But even then some of these episodes might be below par for your taste. Once the series kicks it into high gear around 70th episode, it mostly manages to keep that pace up.
Now that we got the flaws out of the way, let’s talk positives.
The main strength of the series is its characters, who drive the plot (which we will discuss in detail later). After the first 70 episodes, things begin to get lot more interesting really fast. The world of shinobi gets expanded exponentially, and if you’re a fan of deep lore in stories, this will fit right in your wheel house because it begins to explore the roots of the world and its history very deeply.
Another thing that this series does very well is explaining its core concepts to the viewer. The techniques that characters use and how the things in shinobi world works are explained in detail. Also, the concept of Chakra and what a versatile and detailed power system it is compared to other shounen series really stands out.
The amount of themes explored in the series are vast. It explores all the basic themes of a typical shounen and as it goes on it delves into themes such as the nature of humans, self sacrifice, discrimination, manipulation, roots of war and peace, difference of perceptions, the line between good and evil, and alienation. It manages to deal with all these themes without abandoning the shounen type feel or becoming pretentious.
Something that the author, Kishimoto, really excels at is setting up events. For example, during the early episodes of Naruto (the prequel to this show), he has already started setting up major events that happened in the last of episodes of Shippuden. In the beginning, we look over these little details and minor events and have no idea that they are going to have such an impact later in the series, and when it all comes together in the end, you feel so satisfied. Most of the times these events and twists will take you by surprise and maybe you’ll have fun trying to figure out them before they happen as Kishimoto drops clues for you to pick up throughout the entire series. Same thing applies to the moments that tug at your heartstrings , they feel genuine because how the story builds up to those moments.
Being a battle shounen ,of course there are going to be battles, and this is one area that the series really shines.
As I see it , battles can be broken down into three different segments in this anime , The battle of wits , The battle of ideologies , The physical battle. All three come in union to make some memorable and truly great moments. Each characters ideologies and philosophies gets tested time and time again by their opponents and we can see even the main character himself doubt his ideologies towards the end. When we see someone gets broken inside as well as the outside it’s devastating to watch. To put it blatantly, Naruto has the best combat scenes I’ve ever witnessed in an anime. I have to mention that this style of combat is heavily inspired by Hunter x Hunter. Kishimoto does a fantastic job putting emotions into its battle scenes which are backed up by gorgeous animations (at times, we’ll get to that later) and a mesmerizing soundtrack, and with these combined it really sets up fantastic visual storytelling through combat. Kishimoto does an excellent job at setting up the events leading up to the fight to make it feel all the more personal and these battles often comes down to which character outwits the other rather than who can punch harder. This makes characters like Shikamaru Nara who have very little ability make a huge impact in the series.
Variety of the fighting styles is massive, ranging from intimate hand to hand style combats, tactical combats, long range jutsu battles, and most often a mix of all of these!
The last arc of the series has been very controversial as the constant change of antagonists has irritated some of the viewers. But in all honesty, all of the antagonists that presented had different motives that drove them to do what they do and distinctively different from each other which made them very enjoyable. That being said, the final part of the war arc was really disappointing as the final villain of the series is the worst character that the series had to offer as the villain had almost no personality and motives were shaky at best. Without spoiling anything all I can say is that decisions taken during the last war arc felt like it was done to unnecessarily prolong the final battle and messed it up with a poorly written villain and bad story decisions. But the final episodes after the War arc manages to reign it all in and give a proper farewell to the series it so richly deserves.
Throughout the series you will witness friends become foes, foes become friends, unlikely alliances formed and broken, that precious character you loved die, revenge plots, plot twists, characters growing up, politics, romance, and the world itself change. It can be flawed at times but it’s a full package and Kishimoto always seemed to have the ending and everything planned out from the very beginning.
Characters – 10
Now this is the core of the franchise.
Each character in Naruto is very distinctive from each other. Each has a core motive that drives them, a unique personality, and a specialty in different skill sets. And hats-off to Kishimoto for his brilliant character design as he used a very bright color pallet and made each one very distinctive to make each of them stand out.
No matter which kind of characters you prefer, you’re sure to find someone here that you can relate to. What the series really does well is making sure that you’ll be attached to the characters emotionally. And you will cheer them on as they try to achieve their goals , watch their philosophies and ideologies gets tested , watch them break or prevail and break down crying at their deaths.
You will get to see how what’s happening around the characters change them , mold them. Witnessing how tragedies that’s happening around them having an effect on their psyche is one of the strongest points of Naruto Shippuden. It’s fun seeing small character interactions from early episodes grow into full blown relationships.
Now let’s move on to the “Villains”
This series checks all the boxes when it comes to antagonist character archetypes.
*Self-Righteous Villain with a God Complex* [checked] , *Money Hungry Villains* [checked] , *Religious Psychopaths* [checked] , *Villain who is after Revenge* [checked]. I think I’ve made my point there. But what makes this villains so enjoyable is that no one is a villain just for the sake for being a villain. The best kind of villains are the ones you can empathize with, the ones that you feel for and understand them and make you question your own morality, this is something that this series excels at. As same as the main characters, the villains too have core motivation driving them. They have their own beliefs, ideologies and they are willing to fight for what they think is right. You might find yourself cheering on the villains more than the “heroes.” The morality here is blurred.
But coming back to the war arc, its main flaw is the final villain (which I will not spoil here). Compared with the other villainous characters from the series, the final character is very bland and their motivations are not entirely clear or most likely not relatable to any of the viewers. That being said, this character is only in the series for a very small amount of episodes and the others certainly do more than enough to make up for it.
Art and Animation – 7.5
Again we have a mixed bag here.
This show can look stunning when it wants to, and by stunning I meant big budget movie level of quality. But at times the quality can drop way below par.
I think I should specially mention Hiroyuki Yamashita’s work here. He mainly works on battle scenes and this man is a genius when it comes to it. Even though he only worked on a limited number of episodes, his episodes pushes the animation, choreography and stylishness to 11!
Despite this I can’t give it a higher score because this show is wildly inconsistent with its animation.
And as for character designs, we already talked about how Kishimoto made his characters very distinctive and imaginative and how the bright color pallet fuels this.
Sound – 10
This is an another strong point of the series. Yasuharu Takanashi has made a masterpiece of a soundtrack for this series that manages to highlight the intensity, the tragedies, and the sorrow of each moment. The emotions that Kishimoto wants to portray make it through to us so well because of this soundtrack. It connects us with the world of Naruto Shippuden in a special way. I would recommend listening to tracks like Samidare (Early Summer Rain) to get a taste of what the soundtrack is like.
Enjoyment and Overall Experience – 10
Naruto Shippuden is more of an experience that needs to be had than just a mere show. It played with our emotions for over a decade and now it has been concluded. The enjoyment of Naruto Shippuden goes beyond just the series itself. This series has a very big community and fanbase that you could interact with. And its lore is so vast that you would never run out of things to discuss about it. Although it has its share of major flaws, this series is a journey that shouldn’t be missed if you’re fine with the hefty commitment. It’s by no means a flawless anime , but it’s an anime with highs that more than makes up for it’s lows. It reaches for the stars but makes a few tumbles along the way , but the best moments of Naruto are some of the best moments in the medium itself.
And with this, I conclude my review for this series that defined a generation.
Sub or Dub ? : Sub is recommended
| Recommendations for Similar Series |
[Naruto] : Yes, the original series. It’s essential to watch it before the Shippuden series because it contains a lot of character development and build-up for the Shippuden series.
[Fullmetal Alchemist : Brotherhood ] : This series contains most of the things that made Shippuden great such as good character development, good soundtrack, and excellent world building. This series does it in about 70 episodes which is truly a magnificent achievement. If you like Naruto Shippuden, it’s a given that you will like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood as well.
[Hunter X Hunter (2011)] : A series that greatly inspired Naruto. Both anime feel very similar in style. If the inconsistencies of Naruto bothered you, you’ll find a much more consistent pacing and quality of writing here. Whether the highs of Hunter X Hunter matches up to the highs of Shippuden or FMA Brotherhood is up for debate, but you won’t have to sit through any lows like you have to endure with Naruto or Naruto Shippuden.
[Proofreading – SomeRandomNerd]
The Naruto franchise is one of the most hyped and popular series in the anime world. After 10 years, 500 episodes and a bunch of movies the moneymaker Naruto franchise is finally put to rest.
Naruto was one of my favorite shows as a kid, it was better than anything else on TV and I still remember rushing home from school to catch Naruto on TV, good times. After the original series “Naruto” ended, I was thrilled about the sequel show, “Shippuuden”, that was about to start airing but little did I know what a disappointment it was going to be.
Story: 3/10 (Cannon: 6/10 & Filler: 1/10)
Naruto Shippuuden is a continuation of the original therefore the concept of the story remains unchanged but the execution and pacing are a different situation.
Naruto Shippuuden follows Naruto Uzumaki as he aspires to become Hokage and at the same time tries to bring back his friend, Sasuke, but the story is much more complex than before, now we have Akatsuki hunting down all the Jinchuuriki, Sasuke seeking revenge for his clan , Naruto’s struggle against the Kyuubi, Danzo’s plot to take over Konoha, the 4th great Ninja War, Madara attempting to end the world and so much more. Yeah, the story gets way more complex but not for the better.
Unfortunately what was a simple straight-forward and fairly enjoyable plot, soon got covered with pointless subplots that turned the show into a mess, a complete wreck filled with plot armor and plot conveniences. We still have Naruto aspiring to become Hokage while trying to bring back Sasuke but those story-lines get smothered with useless boring subplots and endless filler episodes (not that the main plot was good). That combination ruined my enjoyment of this show.
On to the next flaw. The pacing of the show is just unbelievably bad, with dragged out scenes that put you to bed, important moments that are rushed and not properly explained, hundreds of filler episodes interrupting important and hyped-up fighting scenes and a lot more is wrong with the pacing/execution.
What bothered me the most, as it did many others, were the filler episodes, particularly the ones during the 4th great ninja war that were inserted in the most intense fighting moments. Naruto going full power against his opponent, what an epic scene…why not insert about 20 filler episodes?
This series has so many twists that you stop caring mid-way. The main antagonist got replaced 3 times because the writers fked up and made them too OP for Naruto to defeat… so the next logical step is to introduce someone twice as powerful. Referring to Obito who was replaced by the stronger Madara who was replaced by the stronger Kaguya, what a mess…
While Naruto Shippuuden is a shonen show that follows the generic path of “get beaten> yell/scream> rise up> win> repeat” and employs cliche themes such as “the power of friendship conquers all”, despite all of that, I never cringed while watching it and these flaws never stopped me from enjoying the show.
Sure, it can get a bit annoying to see Naruto rehabilitate every “evil” guy he meets and turning them into his friends but it ain’t that bad.
To be fair, Naruto Shippuuden does have amazing fight scenes that get you hyped, sad moments that bring tears to your eyes, artistic scenes that inspire the viewer, lighthearted scenes that put a smile on your face… In this area, Naruto did great and exceeded my expectations.
The characters are generic, cliche and many are one-dimensional or have very little development but that doesn’t stop them from being likeable and unique in their own way.
I will talk about the characters I consider important to the series.
Characters worth remembering are: Jiraiya, Tsunade, Kakashi, Madara.
Naruto is a young ninja who had a harsh childhood during which he faced many difficulties and sad moments. The difficulties he experienced as a child traumatized him and made him the way he is, a cheerful and friendly guy who would do anything to protect those he cares for. Naruto’s dream is to become Hokage but he will not be blinded by that dream and even if it means straying away from it, Naruto will offer his help to whomever is in need, he will put everything on the line to save those he considers friends, no matter the circumstances and that is the quintessence of his personality.
Even though it is not evident, throughout the series Naruto’s character slowly changes and matures after facing and overcoming the obstacles in his path.
Sasuke is the “last” of the Uchiha clan after its bloody demise at the hands of his older brother, Itachi. His only goal in life is to avenge the death of his clan and seek revenge on Itachi, not caring about others or the consequences of his actions. Sasuke’s character is stagnant and does not develop until late in the series, he is the “rival” that makes Naruto strive to be better and stronger.
Itachi was arguably one of the greatest shonen villains until the writers reduced him to a generic, plain good guy.
Itachi is the “prodigy” child of the Uchiha clan, a skilled shinobi and a good brother until one dark night when he murders every member in the clan except for his younger brother. His character was intriguing and a great addition to the series but ended in miserable failure as the writers decided to rehabilitate him after his death.
Obito, another victim of the “power of friendship” theme. He has lost everything, his dream of becoming Hokage is gone, his loved one is dead, his friend betrayed him, his body is ruined therefore he decides it is best to destroy the world and yet he is easily turned into a good guy by our great hero, Naruto.
Kurama/Nine-Tails is one of the nine tailed beasts. Centuries of being regarded as a mindless monster and sought after as a tool for war caused Kurama to hate humans. After being sealed into Naruto Uzumaki, Kurama attempts to maintain its negative opinions about the world, but with Naruto’s insistence on treating it with respect, the fox overturns its hatred and willingly strives to use its power for the world’s salvation.
Kurama’s development is quite inspiring and a model we should all follow, with the racism, sexism, homophobism, etc. that is happening in the contemporan society.
The art and animation was originally good, fluent with nice colors but it went downhill and resulted in the overall animation&art being bad.
In order to save money, the studio decided to use lots and lots of flashbacks, entire minutes of already aired scenes from previous episodes, still facial expressions, pointless starring, etc.
Although the show started airing in 2007 and ended 10 years later, not many good changes had been made to the animation.
Most of the opening themes and ending themes are decent and the OST is fairly good. The voice actors did a good job interpreting the characters but not an outstanding end result. I couldn’t find a song I loved but nor could I find a song I hated so I guess the sound department is fine.
I highly enjoyed the canon episodes even some of the filler episodes but the overwhelming number of shit filler episodes and flashbacks ruined my enjoyment of this series. Not much to say about it…
My bias won’t let me rate this below 5…
Naruto Shippuuden had its good moments that made it shine but it was quickly clouded by the huge amount of filler episodes, flashbacks, inapt characters, subplots, etc.
I will certainly remember Naruto for the rest of my life, it is a show I grew up with and it holds a special place in my heart.
As advice to the people who have’t watched it yet: skip some of the fillers, a great experience awaits you!
I’ll start out with some of the cons of this show. As many other reviews have already stated, Naruto is loaded with filler episodes and this can’t be any more true. At times the fillers can be funny and interesting, but most of the time you are just impatiently waiting for the show to get back to the real story line. There were tons of flashbacks and honestly they show the same scenes from the past multiple times. The story can be rushed, and at other times it feels like it’s been the same battle for like 5 episodes. The artwork in the battle scenes can vary from good to not so great. But even with it’s many faults, I still gave this show a 10/10. ( honestly if you hate fillers that much, just skip around)
I don’t know where to start with all the great things that this anime has to offer. I’ll start off with the characters. The character development was great for the main characters and even some of the sides characters. I think that the show did an excellent job in giving each character a unique personality and they really made sure that you knew all the characters and their backgrounds. The development of the characters was so great that I was constantly questioning who my favorite character really was. At the beginning I honestly thought that Naruto was annoying and ignorant, but the growth and development of Naruto really grew on me and he began to become one of my favorites. Okay next is the story line. The plot was pretty interesting, but very long. While it did seem like the story was at a standstill for a while in the show, the writers did a good job at subtly setting everything up. Little things that happened in random episodes sometimes came up later as being important. The plot was like a puzzle at times, where I would try to put the pieces together. I actually really enjoyed how they set it up like that. Like Naruto and his friends grew, the story grew as well. In this sense I mean the vibe and mood of the show. It starts off more as a fun action comedy, but as the story goes on, it gets more dark, emotional, and the maturity level of the anime just increases. I’m not kidding when I say that this show can actually teach you life lessons.
I highly recommend watching this whole anime. Even though it is loaded with fillers, by the time you get to the last few episodes, you’ll start to feel emotional and sad that it’s come to an end. While this isn’t Your Lie in April or Clannad, this show still will definitely hit the feels. The end will have you feeling nostalgic, sad, happy, you’ll honestly be feeling so many different emotions. This anime may be 500 episodes, but it is totally worth it and in the end you won’t regret it.
1: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
English: Gurren Lagann
MAL Score: 8.65
Simon and Kamina were born and raised in a deep, underground village, hidden from the fabled surface. Kamina is a free-spirited loose cannon bent on making a name for himself, while Simon is a timid young boy with no real aspirations. One day while excavating the earth, Simon stumbles upon a mysterious object that turns out to be the ignition key to an ancient artifact of war, which the duo dubs Lagann. Using their new weapon, Simon and Kamina fend off a surprise attack from the surface with the help of Yoko Littner, a hot-blooded redhead wielding a massive gun who wanders the world above.
In the aftermath of the battle, the sky is now in plain view, prompting Simon and Kamina to set off on a journey alongside Yoko to explore the wastelands of the surface. Soon, they join the fight against the “Beastmen,” humanoid creatures that terrorize the remnants of humanity in powerful robots called “Gunmen.” Although they face some challenges and setbacks, the trio bravely fights these new enemies alongside other survivors to reclaim the surface, while slowly unraveling a galaxy-sized mystery.
When men were men. They were screaming like crazy speeches, faced the impossible, and said things that made no sense, but that even so we did say “EPIC”.
There was a time.
A time of captains Harlock, a master time Asia, a time of Domons.
Logic was not important. The strategy was not important. If you believe in the impossible, impossible would be nothing in front of you.
The time is gone
A wave of animes that have to be “realistic”, “philosophical”, “adults” around us. Are good? Are. Meet your purpose? Meet.
However, however … I miss something.
Characters idiots who laugh in the face of death, and not to be shaken by anything. Characters that I remember that, in essence, in the beginning, were not meant to be realistic.
No wonder that I am addicted to shonens: manga as One Piece, Fairy Tail remind me that there are heroes who still believe that boundaries are bullshit, and that men should talk about crazy dreams with a smile on his face.
Few original anime (non-manga based) can pass this spirit, and if I had to indicate a Studio to produce an epic-without-notion, “Gainax” probably would not be the first on my list.
But they did so. Oh, how did.
Ladies and gentlemen, forgiveness for the lengthy introduction: Let’s talk of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Many have already heard things about this series of 27 episodes. Effusive praise. Discouraging reviews. And you may already have heard the following phrase: “compliments to the Gurren Lagann are exaggerated”
And let us be clear: Yes. ARE.
But it could not be otherwise.
Gurren Lagann anime is not the type that parses. Is the type of anime to which you manifested with exaggeration and passion. “Overkill” is the key word of the anime: everything is extremely Titanic, extreme, “over-the-top”, “larger than life”, etc.
With certain exceptions (some Gundam, some Macross, tss), never been a fan of mecha anime. Would be far from the top of my list and, being this a recurrent genre in every new season animes, I believe my dismay is understandable: it is both anime mecha clamoring arrogantly that will “revolutionize the genre”, “overcome Evangelion”, “be the new Gundam” and other things that many simply die on the beach, lost in own mediocrity.
Gurren Lagann will by reverse path: doesn’t take itself seriously. Does not involve complex plots policies or attempts to “explore the essence of the human being”. It’s about guys inconsequential facing death in colorful fuses (and often ungainly) and BLOWING THINGS UP. Many things.
The series is a species of “giant parody mecha”, a spoof so well done that took an undeniable brilliance. As the series develops, over the hump “70 years” (frantic action and episodic with colored robots), “80 years” (frantic action and sequential with specific enemies … and colored robots!), “90 years” (frantic action with colorful robots … in space!) and Century 21 (IE … a tribute to the series, where the hype coming into the extreme).
The series features a climate extremely pure (remember One Piece in this sense) that does not match the latest productions of Gainax (with the exception of perhaps Diebuster): in Gurren the Studio tries their best to tell a story extremely positive, bright, boiling the blood-is as an antithesis of Evangelion.
The cast features some of the most best ever seen in recent years, with big names like Kamina (“do not believe in yourself. Believe me, I believe in you “), Kittan (” no, this is my soul! You will regret it! “), Simon (” my drill is one that PIERCES the HEAVENS! “), just to name the most unbelievable (after all, we still have Viral Genome, Dayakka-” My wife is the best of the universe-SWING! “).
Heroes who face the impossible again and again, like real men. The psychological development of some of them (Simon, to quote) is monstrous: the series managed to combine and traces of human “weaknesses” with the “iconic” of characters (courage to sacrifice himself when necessary, never retreat, and other elements worthy of legends).
Council to watch this anime: turn off your brain. One of the best quotes of the anime is “Go beyond the impossible and kick the logic to corner” (Kamina), and this is often taken in a sense more than literal. Gurren Lagann is about ridiculously scenes with epic songs -Sung playing in the background (and I know that many of us love this type of scene, feeling rather lack thereof in the current anime), is about characters screaming attack names aloud, and gigantic explosions. If you allow “get in the mood”, you will be taken to an unbelievable journey. And smile like a fool, knowing you made the right decision.
The animation is jaw-dropping. To get an idea, 40% of the money used in the production were dedicated to the last 5 episodes, creating sequences that make many films out there go shame. The soundtrack contributes with the light/climate: epic songs sung, rap and Opera hybridizes to give a special glow to several of the best scenes of the series (many of these will be marked for those that see).
Perhaps the only factor of production that is worth being criticized is the episodes “reprise” (there are two of them, a long piece of episode 6 and episode 16 integer), but it is worth remembering that this is part of the “joke” that Gainax proposed to do, saying that “kick the logic to corner” with this series: 27 episodes rather than 26, the protagonist being voiced by a man (many of the previous, as Shinji Ikari of Eva, were dubbed by women), etc.
“you’re praising too! You’re exaggerating! “-
I ‘M. But as I said earlier, this is an anime that does not allow cold and calculating analysis. The very premise, the first episode, it doesn’t make much sense. It is a classic “love or hate”. Or you enter the atmosphere of “OW MAN, WAY TOO EPICNESS” or so says “This is not my type.” Despite the success that had (yielding promises of future projects), Gurren Lagann is not for everyone.
It’s about courage.
Struggles that make the DBZ characters seem Wimpy
It’s about heroic speeches and exaggerated.
If you are unable to watch something that cannot lead to seriously, I recommend more sober, more series “feet-in-the-ground”.
If you are willing to embark with the crew of the Gurren-Dan, welcome to war.
By the human race.
Through The Universe.
To quote the slogan of a well-known epic film: “Prepare for glory”.
A message to the rabid fanboys probably is in order. If you are incapable of accepting anyone’s opinion that differs from your own then you might as well stop reading this right now. What follows is a critical and perhaps a bit harsh analysis of a series that at its best was one of the best things I have ever seen, but at its worst made me want to punch a hole in my television. I certainly did not hate TTGL. I can clearly recognize its achievements and its place in anime history and its influence. But it also has some unforgivable warts that many of which were unnecessary. It’s typical of a GAINAX project which always seems to be high on presentation and build up and piss poor at conclusions.
There is nothing remarkable about the story in TTGL. It borrows from familiar themes and unfolds in a pretty predictable and formulaic manner. It’s the presentation of the storyline that makes it so unique from most anime of this type. TTGL is really two anime in one. The series is divided into two major story arcs. Both are full of balls out macho testosterone filled awesomeness. The scale of the story grows exponentially as each battle and each Gurren Lagann transformation becomes more and more epic. Taken at that, TTGL succeeds at an unrivaled level. The first arc has a perfect mix of comedy, tragedy, drama, and GAR. I loved it. It totally worked at every level. Until…
Where things start to come undone is in the second arc which starts at episode 16 and is set seven years after those events. The feeling is totally different. First you’re trying to get used to characters that have grown up, at least physically, and a setting that is completely alien to the apocalyptic wastelands of the first half of the series. But where things unravel is that it starts to get away from what made the early parts of the series so successful. It begins more of a romance arc, which you expected given the way things went in the first part and frankly I would have been disappointed if this hadn’t developed. However it’s so ridiculous that all it does it make you think the characters are completely retarded. I mean seriously, how can you be in a relationship with someone for seven fucking years and never kissed that person? Really? You expect me to take this seriously or actually care? The second is the addition of a political drama that does about as much for the story as the unrealistic romance elements. All it does it take a cast that was almost entirely likeable from the first half and make half of them asshats and douche bags.
Eventually though things get back on track with what made the show so completely awesome before. The problem is by time they do will you be so angry and pissed off that you even care anymore? That was the situation I found myself in. As much as I wanted to be angry at it the feelings I had for it do start to pop up again. The battles are even more epic and literally galaxy shattering. It’s so totally masculine that I am surprised I didn’t grow a pair of balls myself. But… it seems I always have to say that, just as it manages to redeem itself and make me swoon with delight; GAINAX delivers their final fuck you to the audience and frankly, it is unforgivable. Sadly it completely ruined any enjoyment I had for it.
TTGL characters are pretty much what you would expect from shounen anime. However it manages to carve out a few legendary ones. Pretty much anyone who is a fan of anime knows who Simon, Kamina, and Yoko are. I can say that they aren’t overrated by the fandom either. Kamina is pure awesomeness. A man’s man and a woman’s dream. His single minded determination and love for his comrades makes him the kind of friend that any man would want. While he may not be “husband material” to us girls every one of us would want to put our arm in his and be protected by him. He’s the kind of guy that can really only survive in a world of conflict. A true hero for the ages.
Simon has many of Kamina’s traits. As the main protagonist in the series he does well to overcome the obstacles in front of him. I loved him, as a boy. It was after the time skip that he has grown up that he becomes less interesting as a character. He evolves into something he’s not, a virtual clone of Kamina that they are almost indistinguishable from one another. The weaknesses and more reserved nature of the younger Simon which made him for me a much more real and interesting character disappear. Instead of the thoughtful and cowardly boy we have a guy who is as reckless as Kamina ever was and goes into everything with all guns blazing and damn the torpedoes! Its so uncharacteristic of him that it takes away from his character. The final events of the story in particular are needless cruel and unnecessary and a further example of how out of character he has become. By the end he is Kamina, complete with the ending you would have expected of him and all traces of the likeable kid all but erased.
Yoko is the ship that launched a million wet dreams from boys and probably a few grown men alike. You might think that a character with eye popping measurements that spends the majority of the series in a bathing suit would be simply a tool for exploitive fan service. But that’s not the case, as she really shines on her own and manages to be sexy without feeling like she’s just a prop. Yoko is one of the few characters in the story to actually grow up. She takes on responsibility as opposed to the rest of the cast who seem intend on riding the coattails of their past glories instead of contributing something to society. Overall though she’s treated poorly by the story and while she is very important to the first part of the series it’s almost like she became just another face in the crowd later on. Being a big fan of hers I found that to be particularly disappointing.
The rest of the main and supporting cast is a bit of a mixed bag. The reason my score of them as a total suffers is that the vast majority of them are very static and unchanging. Most of them are not all that interesting and are more like the background. With few exceptions when one of them dies in the story’s epic death count you are left with little emotional reaction because you didn’t feel anything for them when they were alive. The time jump also affected my enjoyment of them as I mentioned many of them had total personality changes that really had no justification. Some initially charming and interesting characters such as Nia I found myself just despising or becoming apathetic towards.
One thing that TTGL does not fail to deliver though is heart pounding and eye-popping visual effects and artwork. This series is truly a masterful work of art. Everything about it screams epic goodness. GAINAX always has a bit of a unique and cartoony art style. But what I really love is the bright colors and quirky designs. It totally works for this series perhaps like no other ever has. This is truly an achievement that I can find absolutely no flaws with.
Not to be outdone, the musical score and voice acting is just as exceptional. The actors manage to bring out all the macho characters and the often screaming dialogue and make it all work. The music is some of the best I have heard in an anime. The OP/EN themes rock hardcore and will have you moving your feet and singing out loud.
So did I like TTGL? The answer is yes. Did I enjoy it? Not really. Because of that it just can’t go down as one of my favorite series as it really should have thanks to that retardation at the end. I know I am going to be in the minority here. The story is not meant to be taken seriously and for the most part I didn’t. However I was expecting more and I didn’t get it. Chances are if you’re male, and under the age of 30 you just might watch this and think it’s the best thing ever. For us girls your experience may vary. It’s definitely worth the viewing but beware the trap of unrealistic expectations and hype.
Gurren Lagann was breathtaking. An endlessly thrilling ride from the most humble beginnings to the most fantastic of ends. Absolutely inspiring and a must-watch. There are so many memorable moments in this series, and lines and ideas that it imprints into your very soul.
I will admit this is one of the first anime I had ever watched, except Miyazaki films. And its ridiculousness shocked me as a newcomer. Even so, I was enraptured, drawn by the infectious energy and the constant adrenaline rush from this show.
Because it was unique. It was so very unique.
Tengen Toppa, while it does have an amazing story, is not about the story. It’s not about a logical progression, strategy, conflicts of interests, world building, exploring the sci-fi or the other ideas in it. In fact, it is about the deconstruction of all those things. I usually like smart anime. But Tengen Toppa is unique, managing to be good without trying to be smart. Because it isn’t about being smart. Its about feeling. Everything else is just a plot device. Its abstract almost, like a legend or an epic. You don’t need to believe it. TTGL takes your ideas and your expectations and says fuck you. The only one idea that matters is feeling and spirit. It delivers on an emotional level. A primal instinct; willpower, that adrenaline rush and madness that overcomes you as you resolve to beat an impossible challenge in pursuit of what you want.
Every aspect of the show work to arouse and reinforce this zeal in the viewer. Its art, with a clever use of angles, bold lines, exaggerated designs and at times simplified drawings personify its brazen self-confidence and panache. Its soundtrack oozes fearless charisma with a liberal use of energetic horns, drums, opera, rap(!), violin ensembles, and forceful sound effects… all the while also reserving a soft, passionately delicate side for its emotional moments. Its vibrant characters(especially one of the manliest leads in anime I know, Kamina) are among the most unforgettable I’ve ever encountered, and how far they come by the end, and indeed how much they grow on you is amazing to behold. Every single one of them, in the span of 27 episodes(yes, TTGL hates norms, even season counts), manages to surprise you and show you the many faces of human nature. In a way, they are perfectly chosen to represent the show’s central theme of the struggle between human “spirit” against the abyss of “despair”.
I like to think of Gurren Lagann now as at least in part, as a light hearted jab at various overused tropes in anime(such as copious amounts of fanservice, plot arcs that escalates from small to unbelievably huge and so so many more). Gurren Lagann takes every cliche trope there is and ramps it up to 11, in a way that it feels strangely new and enjoyable again. If I could describe this show in one word, it’d be “ridiculous”… and I don’t mean that in a bad way in the slightest.
The blatant and ridiculous sexual innuendos everywhere(the Di-gurren has a gigantic dick for a hull for just one example), the in-your-face approach to fan service, the seemingly boundless main plot arc, the battles, the set pieces, those outrageous VILLAINS, Nia and her moeblob eyes, the cheesy dialogue(it actually seems to work quite well in TTGL for some reason although it wouldn’t anywhere else), the over-the-top speeches and declarations, the attack names… the list goes on and on. It presents these obviously un-serious things in the most serious and cocksure way possible. And somehow… manages to be convincing. It shocks you and grabs your attention with nothing else other than its unique spirit and confidence. TTGL feels like its taking an adult and making him play pretend, dragging him about in a crazed rush, and learn again what its like to be mad with drive and child-like passion for your dreams.
For deus ex machinas, there were so many in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann I couldn’t count them all. But it played into the show’s theme “Kick logic out and do the impossible” perfectly. I didn’t get the impression from the rest of the narrative that the show was taking itself very seriously at all(viewed as a parody, TTGL is pretty damn good), so they actually felt natural and strangely uplifting, instead of disappointing.
Tengen Toppa is also excellent at emotionally moving you. They even state in the anime itself, “kick logic out… it’s all about spirit!” And it delivers. It will move you, fire you up, make you cry, laugh. But it will most definitely not intrigue you, or make you race the characters in deductive reasoning like in other shows. But it will leave you exhilarated regardless.
And maybe… just maybe… etch itself into your memory for a long time to come.
EDIT: Now, as much as I know it is strange to say now, right at the end, especially after(rightly!) emphasizing the ridiculousness so much, I think it is dishonest to give the impression that this is just a mindless show intended to make you scream. Believe it or not, how epic it manages to be despite the absurdity is actually the result of very clever writing, brilliant implementation and noticeably passionate production values and attention to detail. In fact, I would even say this is one of most subtly intricate and thoughtful series to come out in recent years. This doesn’t take the form of philosophical debates and pretentious sci-fi however. In true TTGL(and Gainax) style, it defies expectations. Everything thats silly is in your face, and whats clever is hidden for those who care to look.
It takes the form of exquisite symbolism, subliminal homo-erotic rap, intricately interwoven themes which the show doesn’t always spell out for you(as just one slightly spoilerific example; think about the mistakes of humanity. Think about the Elder in the Face-God Village or the Chief of Jiha village and compare population-control Rossiu and the Anti-Spirals to them… they all are driven by the same thing), the bitter contrasts of war and how they seem to fade once you actually understand the sides, how infectious and inspiring spirit is when it truly refuses to give in to cynicism… hell, when you’ve finished I actually encourage you to read this: http://wtf.animeblogger.net/?p=140
For now, the rest of you: watch this show.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
2. Naruto: Shippuuden
3. Seirei no Moribito
4. Dennou Coil
5. Saiunkoku Monogatari 2nd Season
7. Saiunkoku Monogatari
9. Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi
10. Afro Samurai