They’re the best Anime that 2009 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Golgo 13 (TV), Fairy Tail, Tegamibachi, and more!
10: Golgo 13 (TV)
English: Golgo 13
MAL Score: 7.53
Golgo 13 is not his real name. Then again, neither is Duke Togo, Tadashi Togo, or any number of the aliases he goes by. A man of mystery, not even the world’s most prominent intelligence agencies can determine who Golgo really is, or just where he came from. But all agree that his skills are nothing short of legendary.
Armed with a custom M16, Golgo is willing to take any job for any agency, from the FBI to the KGB. He has completed every contract he has ever taken and will work for anyone who can meet his price. He is both the greatest weapon and the greatest threat to any nation; no one is safe once they are in Golgo’s sights.
To start with, this is an anime that gives off an oldschool-ish feeling and that is to be expected, since the manga started publishing about 40 years ago. The drawing style clearly shows it: all characters have very serious and rough faces, showing each and every wrinkle. The scenery is quite good. Even though it might lack detail, it clearly isn’t the type you would shove off as a picture-based-and-streched-over-the-horizon background.
There are no major problems with the sound either. At first it might feel as if there is a lack of music, but as the series goes on, you will probably start to notice the recurring tones. Some might find them a tad repetitive, but considering the retro feeling this anime gives off, some repetitiveness could actually be considered as a tool to emphasize that special kind of feel. I have no complaints about the opening themes or the ending themes either.
When it comes to the characters, it is quite difficult to provide an evaluation. As this show is centered on Duke Tougou (a.k.a. Golgo 13) going on solo assignments, you will not be seeing any other major characters. There is not much to say about character development either. I mean, we have a cold-blooded sniper with nearly inhumane skills, unwavering principles and, most of the time, a perfect example of a poker face. He is certainly the most silent protagonist I have ever seen and we can’t “hear” his thoughts either, so what is there to develop (not to mention how)? Still, it feels like Golgo becomes a tad more talkative and expressive towards the end of the series, so it is possible to interpret it as a slight emotional shift, though the reason for it is anyone’s guess. Despite this, though, all the characters feel quite real and alive; they all have individual personalities and different attitudes towards Golgo, so the anime does not lose ground on this aspect either.
Where it does, though, is the story. Or, more precisely, the lack thereof. The series is episodic and there is no relation between the assignments whatsoever. In fact, if your younger sibling wanted to make a prank and rearranged the playlist while you were making a sandwich, you would not even notice it. I am guessing the studio picked the missions from the manga randomly, hence the lack of cohesion. Yet, despite the anime not having a coherent plot as a whole, every episode has a different and unique story, various circumstances and characters that continue to pique the viewers interest and provide tons of entertainment.
To conclude, anime series with no plot tend to lose their appeal very quickly. However, Golgo 13 is quite enjoyable. It just has something in it that makes you look forward to Tougou’s next assignment and keeps you wondering, just how he is going to demonstrate his prowess. When his enemies underestimate him or make wrong deductions, you just get the proud feeling “That’s my Golgo! Those bastards don’t have a chance! Show them who’s boss!”, or something along those lines.
If you are a fan of super-manliness, protagonists having nearly inhumane skills and an oldschool feel wrapping it all up, this is one show you should definitely watch.
Each episode is non-sequential, and has no bearing on future or previous episodes so you can essentially watch the episodes in no particular order and have more or less the same enjoyment. Each episode begins with Duke Togo aka Golgo 13, receiving a request to kill a target, and the rest of the episode usually involves Golgo 13 undertaking some masterful feat to accomplish his goal. There is no story overall other than following Golgo 13’s exploits, however each individual story is fairly unique in regards to how it is presented, each supporting character’s backdrops and storylines. That being said, each episode falls back into same formula and you essentially know how each episode will end.
Ah characters… or should i say “character” as each episode introduces us to only one character who returns every episode. (excluding the gun craftsman who appears a few times). As previously stated, Golgo 13 is the best sniper in the world, he can take out any target, regardless of the circumstances. Also a master in hand to hand combat and short ranged armed combat. Golgo 13 has the outward appearance of a cold emotionless killer, amazingly well built, and has his share of battle scars from earlier days. Quite possibly the manliest man of anime. That being said though, he undergoes very little character development over the entire series. There is a plethora of other characters introduced, usually with unique stories, or backgrounds, however many either end up dead (targets) or will never appear again throughout the series.
Clean artwork, great colouring and shading. I was a big fan of the gloomy atmosphere that the shading gives the series. even in the bright and sunshining days, there still exists that sort of darkness. Character design is somewhat lacking however in this series. Although for the first few episodes you don’t really notice it, a general trend starts to develop… A lot of the supporting characters start to look the same. There are soo many supporting characters introduced throughout the series, that most of the henchmen,a few of the targets, and many of the supporting/extra women throughout tend to look nearly identical to each other. Fluid animations throughout, amazing backdrops, and overall pretty good stuff
the First Opening: “take the wave” from naifu was actually quite catchy, Also a big fan of ” Glass no Highway from doa. other op and eds were alright. I thought the seiyu for Golgo 13; Tachi Hiroshi did a great job voicing Duke Togo (Golgo 13), It was a cold emotionless voice that just fit the character perfectly.
This series was fairly enjoyable, The viewing experience was over a period of 8 or so months, so there was a decent gap inbetween watching, Although thinking about it now, This likely isn’t one of those anime where you can just keep watching all the episodes back to back and in 1-4 sittings, Each episode will tend to get very repetitive over time. But as a simple, sit back and watch every now and then show, this anime has merit
A pretty good experience to watch, Has some pretty enjoyable moments, and a few twists and turns along the way. Check it out if you find the time
Golgo is an elite sniper. Man with a mission. All you need is 3 million USD and he will make any of your wishes happen. Need to embarrass a violist during his play? No worries! Golgo can shoot the string of a moving instrument from 500 feet away, eyes closed while parrying flying katanas. Here’s a meme. Who would win? Bulletproof, 30 inch thick class wall or one big boy with a toy gun? There is literally nothing this dude can’t make happen.
Story-wise, Golgo 13 is entirely episodic show. One man, one mission, one episode. The best part is how consistently fucking amazing the writing is. For example, during one episode, he trolls the police forces in 5 different ways and they all fall under his master troll, but it is not a keikaku doori tier meme, everything is planned, shown to the viewer. and works because the police officers are doing their job in the exact way they are supposed to. This other time, our dude got a life sentence in prison just to break out of the “unbreakable” jail with an inmate, purely to shoot him moments later. There are only 7 episodes that were more mediocre than amazing, which leaves similar shows such as City Hunter in absolute shame. Nearly every episode is unique and so different from one another that watching the show becomes nothing less than hooking. It’s impressive how knowledgeable the writer is of so many different subject and how he manages to create such successful episodes around all of them.
During the run, the amount of times Golgo smiles is 0. He does not smile. This is a serious anime. So. Damn. Serious. No matter how ridiculously awesome and amusing the events get, there is absolutely no room for character centric comedy. He also has sex with something like 34 different women during the run, and no matter how much he likes these women, he never shows it in any other way than sex. He never speaks, he never answers their feelings nor shows an expression of any sort, and in case they happen to witness him practicing his profession, there is no soft spot in his hard. Any witness dies. There is no limit to how Man and how loyal to himself this dude is. If there ever was a person who doesn’t break his character, it is him.
What really serves this series is the English dub which made the thing incredibly enjoyable to watch. Golgo himself is voiced with a guy who sounds like a real professional killer. Especially meaningless side characters have been voiced according to their character archetype. Different English pronunciation have not been left out as there are everything from “oi m8” aussies to Irish drunktards. Some of the dialog has been seasoned with insane puns and more of the witty side banter. Like in one episodes, there is this guy – who is paralyzed below the weist – being targeted by Golgo 13, so he flees on an island and covers the entire island with bulletproof matter. When Golgo 13 arrives there with his helicopter, this dude’s friends and bodyguards go to him and say “Looks like you can’t even take one step out of this island.” Pure comedic gold.
Art-wise, here’s a tip: the bluray is a disaster. Not as bad as, let’s say Death Note remaster, but it was a failed attempt. Get the DVD instead. The art itself follows the more classic side seen on mature anime series that were made with 90’s style without the typical anime bs. Gungrave, Speed Grapher and practically every old Gonzo production are good example of the familiar and welcoming art style this anime has. In terms of animation, compromises are rarely ever made. Story telling and visuals are prioritized over cheap effects and atmosphere killing tricks that mainly would remind the viewer that they are, indeed, watching an anime.
I highly recommend Golgo 13 to people who like their anime manly and mature, served ice cold with nothing but respect towards the audience.
9: Fairy Tail
English: Fairy Tail
Japanese: FAIRY TAIL（フェアリーテイル）
MAL Score: 7.61
In the mystical land of Fiore, magic exists as an essential part of everyday life. Countless magic guilds lie at the core of all magical activity, and serve as venues for like-minded mages to band together and take on job requests. Among them, Fairy Tail stands out from the rest as a place of strength, spirit, and family.
Lucy Heartfilia is a young mage searching for celestial gate keys, and her dream is to become a full-fledged wizard by joining this famous guild. In her search, she runs into Natsu Dragneel and his partner Happy, who are on a quest to find Natsu’s foster father, the dragon Igneel.
Upon being tricked by a man, Lucy falls under an abduction attempt, only to be saved by Natsu. To her shock, he reveals that he is a member of Fairy Tail and invites her to join them. There, Lucy meets the guild’s strange members, such as the ice wizard Gray Fullbuster and magic swordswoman Erza Scarlet. Together as a family, they battle the forces of evil, help those in need, and gain new friends, all the while enjoying the never-ending adventure that is Fairy Tail.
Now before you continue reading I must warn you that if you haven’t seen all the episodes or are a huge fan that can’t take criticism please refrain from reading this review. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
For those yet reading this review please keep an open mind about what you are going to read.
Initially I did enjoy fairy tail but in the end i started disliking the series. Here are a few reasons why
First of all the arcs are short. Which means there’s a lot of things they can’t do, bigger story, adventure or exploring, showing more of the side characters, etc. Every arc ends up boring to me and not memorable. The arc size also makes it so predictable. They have to go there without knowing much, be beaten by the enemies easily, get back up and run after them, beat them, a little talk afterwards, then go home.
The fillers, Fairy Tail has horrible fillers. Like the Daphne arc and the Starry Key filler arc. Just unbelievably bad. ABove that the filler arc is the second longest arc in the whole series. For those who might argue that fair tail has “less” fillers let me point out that FT has 38 filler episodes out of a total of 175. That’s 21% filler, which is quite a lot.
Lisanna~They took a nice little cute backstory that helped multiple characters and ruined it. Brought her back without a good explanation and then afterwards nothing has changed. She barely talks to Natsu, she isn’t important in the story. It was better when she was gone. Her being back and doing nothing basically ruins the whole flashback which was supposed to show how much she thought of Natsu, he thought of her, how Elfman decided to get stronger after losing her, Mirajane changed to be nicer, etc.
There’s no training neither any foreshadowing. None of them really change. They were only going to train once but then Mashima said screw you, they’re going to instead get powered up in 5 minutes. Natsu had a chance to grow with his powers near the beginning. He learned that he could use his flame to hold things or whatever. He forgot right after, lost a good chance and it hasn’t showed up again yet.
Natsu’s a horrible character. He’s a main protagonist of the worst type, cocky yet can’t prove it. Always runs ahead and gets beaten easily by the enemies, then he gets up and is able to beat the main boss of the arc. He needs a power up every fight or he loses, he sometimes has to get insulted until he’s angry enough to beat him. Why the hell can’t they give him a fire lacrima to use in a fight, he always has to get fire from some inconvenient ways. He even forgave Gajeel after he beat Lucy for like an hour, talked to him all nicely about dragons after their fight.
I couldn’t even care about any of the characters. They are contrived, one dimensional, stereotypical and lack even the little bit of depth that the story sometime requires.
Natsu’s power is supposed to be unique. Yet, every arc they run into a new dragon slayer. And then they run into god slayers that’s powers are even stronger than their dragon slayer counterparts. It’s like he’s making it up as he goes.
The comedy is annoying. Natsu’s vehicle sickness got boring when it screwed up his chance to fight, which was by like the 8th episode. After that it’s just been used way too much and has messed with his fighting multiple times since. Gray has to strip every god damn episode, they haven’t thought of giving him a jumpsuit or whatever. Everyone elses comedy is boring. The only person who ever says something funny is Happy.
The action sucked, all the fights weren’t interesting and of course were full of random powerups and bad comedy. The animation of the fights were mediocre and most fight end in Natsu consuming fire in some convenient way for the plot or getting help from his “nakama” and magically beating the enemy who seemed overpoweringly strong till now.
Story is nothing special. Nothing has really changed since the beginning.
Oh the time skip. I totally forgot about mentioning that. It was horrible, a 7 year skip. They didn’t even let the mains train or whatever. They came back and were easily able to beat enemies that had almost beaten them 7 years ago and had been training the whole time they were gone.
All in all Fairy tail happens to be one of the worst battle shounens i have ever seen and this is coming from a guy who has seen a fair amount of shounen.
With this I end my rant.
To those rating this review as “” or “Not ” your feedback is greatly appreciated.
I am still amazed at myself that I managed to watch all of this series, but that only indicates that there are some positives to it and I somehow enjoyed it all. What can be said about the story? Nothing really special, a girl named Lucy wants to become a wizard in a famous guild and after she meets Natsu, one of its members, she manages to join him and thus, they form a team and start on taking missions and embark on journeys. Natsu is trying to find his parent, a dragon who raised him and taught him rare magical skills and abilities based on fire. Although the concept of guilds, which is taken from online games is interesting, it is in no way original.
The story progresses in arcs with each arc being connected nicely with the next one and the transition between them feels smooth and logical. The atmosphere and the nature of each arc generally remain the same lighthearted and cheerful vibe following the vibe of the anime on its whole, except for some moments and scenes which need to be dark to show the contradiction between good and evil. Although, the story of each individual arc can be described as cliche, you could at least expect the execution to be masterful for a popular anime like this, right? No, they decided to shit all over the place with the word mediocrity, though there are some glimpses of good storytelling and directing in some arcs, but this is exactly what they are, glimpses. Individual elements of each arc are interesting but the story itself is unoriginal, although how it’s told and executed is what counts the most and this show had the potential to be great, but they vomited it all out to appeal to the general public and/or their target group If this was their purpose than they nailed it. Linear, repetitive and predictable storytelling and the use of generic guidelines as in any typical shounen of this type leave no room for the element of surprise for some rare plot twists that might exist.Also the amount of fan service, aka huge breasts for almost every female and semi nudity for males, is staggering at the least. Generally, the arcs are short and leave no room for good development and the pace of each arc is out of place. I felt that some arcs needed faster pace but others slower, go figure. Some episodes are uneventful with no action and on top of that no story or character development of any kind. Dialogues are mediocre and superficial for the most part but there are comedic moments where combined with sound and animation made me actually laugh hard. The blend of action, comedy and drama is mediocre and as I already mentioned “Oh the potential!!!!”.
Animation is one of this anime strong parts. For a long running show, it is pretty consistent in quality and is very good. Colors are bright and cheerful which suit the anime very much and they adjust well to the atmosphere and the mood of the scene. Facial expressions are distinct and well portrayed. The designs of characters are unique and suit their personalities quite well which in consequence make them somehow memorable. The only complain I had is in the moment of fight scenes which could be depicted better and in more detail.
My favorite part ironically or not was the sound. My gosh it was incredible!!! I actually searched and downloaded some soundtracks of this anime and I usually don’t do that. The sad music and ost’s in the epic moments of the anime are just amazing. OP and ED songs are really great you will love them trust me.Incredible is the fact that the soundtracks match their arc themes and the moments of sadness,joy,tension,mystery and action too damn well. There were parts in the anime that wasn’t that melodramatic but with the right ost it actually managed to invoke from me a sad emotion. Also, I don’t remember any misuse of sound, it was just perfect. Voice actors are all good and for the most part, fit well to the characters.
Fairy Tail’s characters is another disappointing fact. We are introduced to a large cast of characters who are one dimensional and static. Main characters are flat and underdeveloped. I understand that combined with short arcs there isn’t much room left to develop so many of them, but they could at least try. Every stereotype of this genre can be found in this series, from the typical hotheaded male protagonist to the evil villain who becomes good and changes sides and the fact that most of them remain the same throughout the series makes this show even more predictable. It’s impossible to be caught by surprise when you expect for them to act based on their generic stereotype and they act exactly like that in any given situation. The villains of the show are equally as underdeveloped as the main characters. Of course, there are some exceptions and we can see glimpses of good development here and there which are later ruined to the bones. So much good development is so brutally destroyed, that it is frustrating even to imagine the potential of this series. Nonetheless, there are likeable characters whom you will want to cheer for but that doesn’t change the fact that most of them are flat and superficial.
The last disappointing fact I want to mention, is the fighting scenes. Battle system is your typical “raw strength+power ups wins” concept. Almost no amount of thought or originality can be traced anywhere. Some abilities are cool, but that’s it. The battles are won by overpowering the enemy and no strategical thinking is involved. Superficial and annoyingly tiring dialogues and monologues which ruin the pace of the story take place in every fight scene and I mean literally in EVERY fight scene. I know that concepts like friendship and comradeship are important, don’t misunderstand me, but not when they are in excess and feel like they try to nail it in my brain with a drill and on top of that, at the expense of the story. Power levels are confusing as one reviewer stated. There are no trainings but main characters manage to win enemies they shouldn’t be able to win like ever. Oh yea, I forgot the power of friendship and nakamas!!! Silly me.
Generally this whole thing can be summed up in 6 steps.
Step 1: A strong enemy appears. MC’s are beaten up by the enemy.
Step 2: MC’s yell about friendship and the power of nakamas.
Step 3: They power up emotionally and physically by the power of friendship and random stuff.
Step 4: MC’s overpower the villain.
Step 5: No training of any kind whatsoever.
Step 6: New arc. Go to step 1.
When an anime can be summed up like this than in my books this is not good at all.
All in all, Fairy Tail generally has a vibe of positivity and lightheartedness. If you like characters that seem cool, raw power, mc’s that overpower their enemies who rely on their friends and protect each other, if you like good animation with awesome soundtracks mixed perfectly to every scene, if you liked something like D-Gray Man or Bleach than you should watch this show and I am sure you will enjoy it very much. I definitely recommend this to children, as well. But if you are an experienced anime viewer or if you like intelligence, good story, plot and character development, if you like insane plot twists and strategic battle scenes with complex fighting systems or if you want to watch something of this genre but don’t have much time than don’t waste it on this and watch something like Hunter x Hunter or Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.
*English is not my native language, excuse me for any mistakes. All feedback is appreciated.*
**EDIT** It has been pointed out to me that this review has an elitist tone, this was definitely not my intention and I don’t consider myself to be superior or more intelligent than any of you.**
Story – (3/10)
This is one of the weaker aspects of Fairy Tail as it gets daunting and rather boring because there is no real progression, and it becomes incredibly predictable with how it will play out, at first it was pretty fun since the stories did serve a proper purpose and introduced us to some other characters but as it goes on, you feel that it’s afraid to make changes to the characters so they just write what they know and that’s where the repetitiveness comes from. The gags were funny for the first 20 episodes but then they get really old fast as well as the fanservice, it even gags at important moments, you could have a serious fight but instead have a comedy bit in the middle completely ruining the mood for the fight.
Art – (6/10)
The animation is pretty good for a shounen anime as it can be fast paced and some of the magic does look pretty cool but at the same time, the designs of most characters seem really plain looking, minus maybe 2-3 characters everyone else looks really generic.
Sound – (9/10)
Quite possibly the best thing about Fairy is the sound as it mixes irish folk music with some modern day sounds blending really well and does match the battles that happen, this was something I am glad they kept as it was something very different from the norm. The OP’s and ED’s were also very nice to listen to and mainly composed of some very energetic pop music.
Characters – (2/10)
This is by far the worst aspect for Fairy Tail, one dimensional, bland, incredibly cliche and just lacked development. I will start off with the main character Natsu who is to me one of the worst MC’s in anime ever. He never develops, there is no challenge for him, he doesn’t have any conflicts with how he does things its just ‘I’ll beat the crap out of you’ no matter how evil that person is, even if they kill someone he will still treat it more like a sparring match rather than him losing control and losing himself in the process of it, if he’s always going to be this guy who doesn’t think and just swings away then its going to get really boring really fast.He doesn’t so much get stronger but rather uses the power of friendship after making a speech and wins. Lucy is another character I just could not handle because she was just fanservice and a plot device, she didn’t get stronger each time, she just gets caught in a messy situation, screams a bit, summons a spirit and that’s it, her character seems to be a key for the arc to go through but apart from that she is utterly useless. Now despite all the bashing of the characters I will say that there are some decent characters like Erza, Wendy, Gajeel and Gray because most of them did get stronger and developed and were conflicted with how they did things but even they can fall victim to lousy progression.
Enjoyment – (4/10)
It was fun at first but once the story and comedy repeated all the time, you get sick of it and switch to something else straight away, there is no proper pacing and some arcs went for too long that you don’t feel as invested or interested any more to care
Overall – (3/10)
Fairy Tail lacked a lot of important elements and was clearly confused as to what it wanted to be, it was either over the top battle or a comedy, it was too messy to balance both because it couldn’t have the comedy at the right time, I wouldn’t recommend this anime because it’s fallen to the many cliches and doesn’t really bring anything solid to the table.
English: Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee
MAL Score: 7.64
With his mother taken away from him and having lost everything, Lag Seeing is now a letter whose delivery has been assigned to Gauche Suede, a Letter Bee. Despite their troubling start, the two of them become friends, leading Lag to realize what his aim in life is: to deliver people’s most important feelings in the form of letters, just as Gauche has done.
Although Tegami Bachi may seem extraordinarily childish at first, the subtle, dark undertones are what make it very appealing.
Amberground, the setting of the story, is divided into three sections based on social class: Yodaka, Yuusari and Akatsuki. The land is covered by darkness with the exception of the artificial sun with illuminates the capital (Akatsuki); therefore, the farther away you get from the capital, the darker it gets.
Lag Seeing, an orphan, was found by a Letter Bee, Gauche Suede, who realized that Lag was the package he had to deliver to Campbell Litus, a small town in the dark Yodaka District. To Lag, Gauche was like a hero – he had saved his life numerous times during the delivery. Gauche was also the one who taught him about how letters hold the hearts of those who write it, and how the gaichuu (giant insects) are out to steal those hearts. Overshadowed by his hero, Lag swears to become a Letter Bee when he grows up. Only, when he finally achieves his goal, he discovers that the person who inspired him is no longer working as a Bee. Desperate to see him again, he begins to search for Gauche during his deliveries. In the process, Lag learns of an underground organization plotting to overthrow the capital, and the price that the citizens of Amberground pay for the artificial sunlight.
Studio Pierrot has done a pretty good job with the animation. All the colours look very comfortable and eye-pleasing, with fabulous openings and endings.
I really like the music in Tegami Bachi because it really adds to the story. Each piece of music was carefully planned out and they really suit the setting of the story.
This is where I really think the story is lacking. Lag is an annoying crybaby who really, is nothing more than annoying. Niche, Lag’s dingo, does incomprehensible things almost every episode. Gauche is the only one who has a relatively deep character, that enables you to understand his thoughts and motivations. The occasional flashbacks do help explain Gauche’s character, but in general, you can’t really relate to the characters.
The light mood mixed with the dark undertones make a nice blend.
There is a strange land called Amberground where it is constantly night, and an artificial sun only partially illuminates it. A mail delivery service known as “Bee Hive” recruits young “Letter Bees” to travel near and far and deliver letters. To make things difficult, the land on which they travel is teeming with monsters called “Gaichuu.” The letter bees are equipped with special guns and a protective pet called a “dingo” to overcome such challenges. Lag Seeing is our main letter bee with a special power and dingo, and he strives to become the top letter bee.
With such an interesting and original premise, was the story executed well? I have to say that Letter Bee started out strong. We first see Lag as a distressed, confused young child whose mother was taken away by the capital. He is nothing more than a “letter” needing to be delivered to a person who will take care of him. You follow Lag as he encounters an inspirational letter bee named Gauche, and upon being delivered safely, he swears to become a letter bee just like him.
Eventually, Lag takes a letter bee exam, finds a dingo, and meets many other letter bees who will occasionally work alongside him. Unfortunately, Gauche isn’t among them because he suddenly goes missing before Lag arrives. The series manages to develop a lot of mystery up to this point about his whereabouts, Lag’s mother, and the strange events that occur in their world. Letter Bee also becomes a bit political as we gain insight into Amberground’s system of government.
Just before midway of the series, all of the mysteries are temporarily forgotten, and filler episodes take over. The majority of the show consists of Lag making deliveries to random people whose personal stories range from compelling to cheesy, looking at flashbacks, blasting up Gaichuu, getting sick with a fever, racing, celebrating Christmas, and so on. After a while, these episodes feel like a waste of time. I personally wanted the story to move back to the mystery, especially with the anime nearing its end so fast.
The final few episodes actually grow darker in nature and return to the mystery that made this series so fascinating in the beginning. My friend and I thought that this was what Letter Bee should have been all along. In the end, the story leaves off with much to be desired; however, a second season has recently been announced which explains why we ended up watching so many fillers. Hopefully Letter Bee’s continuation will explore more of its dark mystery and answer some questions.
To answer my own question, I would say that the story was not executed as well as it could have been, but I do look at this anime under a more positive light knowing that a second season is soon on its way. There is much potential left for Letter Bee to bring out.
The characters certainly drive the series and make it very interesting. Lag Seeing, as I have so often mentioned already, is an innocent, determined child who possesses the power to look directly into people’s hearts upon shooting his gun. He views himself as delivering the hearts of people rather than just mere letters. However, his major drawback is that he is a crybaby in every single episode. Every little thing seems to touch his heart and bring tears down his cheeks. Either you like him or you don’t. I found him to be quite likeable despite his drawback. Lag travels with his dingo called Niche who is rather compulsive in attacking others and is protective of him. It is very fun to watch them interact during their travels.
We also get to really know the other letter bees and Bee Hive officers. They each have their own personality, strength, motive, and unique dingo. Their backgrounds are slowly revealed through flashbacks; however, a few of them have yet to receive proper development which I suspect has been saved for season two. Nevertheless, they are strong and memorable characters.
The rest of the cast consists of people whom Lag meets while delivering letters: a lonely little girl, a pair of lovers, a worried mother, a con artist, you name it. While a few of them are pretty interesting, it is hard to just care about them all and to see the show focused on them so much. Their purpose more or less serves to give Lag and the other letter bees some character development.
Animation, Setting, and Music
The animation is a mixed bag. The character designs are great, as well as the background scenery for the towns and such. However, it has not been a thrill ride to watch the fights that occur during every delivery. The animation there is so-so, and the monsters are a bit too CGI for my tastes. They never feel like they fit quite right in the show.
This season worked very hard on developing its setting and atmosphere. They are simply Letter Bee’s strongest points as of right now. The atmosphere can be rather haunting because the world is always dark and bleak beyond the lively, warm towns. The background music largely contributes to this with its gentle, spooky tunes and classical music.
Letter Bee is a very unique and atmospheric anime full of deep mysteries and strong characters. Its story might have gotten a bit weak midway with all its fillers and flashbacks, but it has so much potential for the second season. This season was all about building up the characters and atmosphere; the second one just might get straight to business. With high anticipation for its continuation, I recommend this anime.
7: Pandora Hearts
MAL Score: 7.69
To young Oz Vessalius, heir to the Vessalius Duke House, the perilous world called the Abyss is nothing more than a folktale used to scare misbehaving children. However, when Oz’s coming-of-age ceremony is interrupted by the malicious Baskerville Clan intent on banishing him into the depths of the Abyss, the Vessalius heir realizes that his peaceful life of luxury is at its end. Now, he must confront the world of the Abyss and its dwellers, the monstrous “Chains,” which are both not quite as fake as he once believed.
Based on the supernatural fantasy manga of the same name, Pandora Hearts tells the story of fifteen-year-old Oz’s journey to discover the meaning behind the strange events that have overtaken his life. Assisted by a mysterious Chain named Alice, whose nickname is “Bloodstained Black Rabbit,” and members of a clandestine organization known as “Pandora,” Oz begins to realize his existence may have more meaning than he could have ever imagined.
With each of these suggestions, I refer to a particular character in the story whose struggle with loss reflects one of these patterns. This theme of loss and the struggle to regain or find acceptance is by no means a new one to either drama or anime/manga, but in Pandora Hearts it is approached in a sensitive, original, and surprisingly light-hearted, pleasing manner. Though emotionally gripping, Pandora Hearts is rarely dark and angsty, favouring quirky, likeable characters and a humourous, tongue-in-cheek storytelling style.
The XEBEC-produced art/animation quality may be somewhat lacking, but the irresistibly charming Pandora Hearts is sure to make you fall in love with its beautifully crafted story, characters, fantasy world, and music.
– most loveable, original and well-developed cast I’ve seen in a long time
– detailed, interesting “Alice in Wonderland”-themed world
– story contains few “filler” episodes and is perfectly paced, sure to leave you gasping for more
– emotional, memorable OST by .hack//SIGN & Noir (and many more) composer Yuki Kajiura
– one of those anime that has a bit of everything: drama, action, humour, even hints of romance
– sub-par art quality, rather unacceptable by today’s standards
– weak, disappointing ending; many story threads left hanging without resolution
– some unavoidably cliché moments and a protagonist who is often ineffectual and, worse, annoying in his willingness to lay down his life
– no clear antagonist in the story, though this isn’t really a problem until the very last episodes
15-year old Oz Vessalius is the typical spoiled selfish noble kid, playing pranks all day, teasing his servant and best friend Gilbert, gaining favours from his indulgent uncle Oscar. Then, on the night of his coming-of-age-ceremony, time freezes and Oz is forced into the Abyss by mysterious strangers. Trapped in this nightmarish alternate dimension, he meets a strange, devilish young girl named Alice, who is really a Chain (a sort of “monster” of the Abyss). They form a Contract: Alice decides to help Oz return to his world, while he promises to search for her missing memories. As they find out more about her, it turns out there’s a lot he doesn’t know about the past either….
The story follows a somewhat well-worn path – disaster befalls naïve youngster, he meets mysterious girl, they discover new things, make friends and beat bad guys – but the difference is that the characters who fill all the traditional roles are so original and interesting. Alice, as the heroine of the story, is refreshingly powerful and strong-willed, with a bad mouth, a meat fetish, and a wicked laugh – and a surprising sensitivity. Oz, on the other hand, is earnest and soft-hearted, though he oddly doesn’t seem to care too strongly about anything.
There are also plenty of mysteries to be solved and plot twists to be revealed. However, I wouldn’t say that the plot is the anime’s strongest point. Not quite. Most of the “plot” really has little to do with the present situation at hand and is more about exploring the characters’ pasts. In fact, almost all of the really interesting moments in the anime are actually revelations about the past. As you might expect, all this jumping back and forth between past and present, real and alternate dimensions, while fascinating, can leave one confused and overwhelmed. Lastly, I can’t neglect the fact that the ending is truly dismal. Like many anime (it seems), a promising beginning, middle and even climax is no guarantee of a satisfying ending. When you reach the final episode I’m sure you, too, will be thinking, “What? They can’t leave it at that – there must be some mistake!!”
There’s no way Pandora Hearts gets anything less than full score on this one. The characters are simply enrapturing. It’s hard to pick a favourite because there are so many good choices! For starters, the designs are original, enticing, and complement the characters’ personalities well. Oz, despite being 15, has the vacant, vulnerable look of a younger boy, suggesting his innocence and fragility. Alice looks fiery and ferocious with her red jacket, demonically pointy hair, and long high-heeled boots; but her short stature and smooth, childlike features render her cute and approachable. Gilbert is astonishingly handsome, dark, and mysterious when he first appears as Raven in full black attire; as soon as his hat comes off, however, (so to speak) he becomes comical with his messy “seaweed” hair, his emotional tantrums, and his self-conscious cigarettes. Two other characters I feel deserve special mention: Xerxes Break, a silly yet understatedly dangerous character whose loose sleeves flop over his hands, whose smile is always shaped unnervingly into a V, and who wears a freaky rattling puppet-doll on his shoulder called Emily; and Vincent Nightray, who has two different-colored eyes, one yellow and one red, as if to represent his unpredictable, split personality (at times saccharinely sweet; at others cold-bloodedly cruel and deceptive).
Each character is quirky, with multiple sides to their personality. Oz occasionally shows a hyper-romantic, flirtatious side. Alice, as mentioned earlier, will do anything for meat. Gilbert has an incurable phobia of cats. Sharon, a girl who is older than she looks, likes young boys and seems to have a thing for Alice. Break is addicted to candy and other sweet things. Vincent is disturbingly obsessed with his brother. And so on.
The characters also have incredible chemistry together. Oz and Alice have this cute little “You’re my man-servant, do what I say!” “Hahaha, of course Alice! (but not really!)” thing going on, with semi-romantic undertones. Oz and Gilbert, meanwhile, have an endearing “master and servant” relationship that’s complicated by the fact that Gilbert looks (and is) much older than his “master” (and made hilarious by the fact that Oz can still get away with teasing him.) Naturally, Gil and Alice find themselves caught in a struggle for the affections of their master/man-servant Oz, hurling funny names at each other that soon become familiar (“Stupid rabbit!” “Seaweed hair!”) – though when it comes to Break, they are united in their icy distrust of the slippery, duplicitous character.
The true strength of the characters lies in their multi-facetedness. No character in the main cast feels “all good” or “all bad.” For much of the story, there is even no clear antagonist, as each suspicious individual is shown one by one to be pure-hearted in some way. Somehow, the anime hardly suffers for this lack of “true evil,” which I view as a testament to the strength of the characters.
As for character development, the entire anime basically revolves around the characters’ individual backstories. There is nary a character in the main cast who we do not see some kind of flashback of. In a way, the characters’ pasts define who they are even more distinctly than the present action. Strangely, I found this worked very well, leading one to speculate fascinatingly about what must have happened before the main story.
Art & Animation (6/10)
By today’s standards, as well as the standards set by the rest of the anime, the art really sticks out like a sore thumb. And let me get this clear that I don’t in any way mean Jun Mochizuki’s original designs; I’m talking about the frame-by-frame art quality of the anime, which was produced by studio XEBEC. Compared to contemporaries in the same genre that I’ve been watching such as Kuroshitsuji and Nabari no Ou, the art and animation really has a lot of catching up to do. Unpolished, often with very unappealing colour palettes, and few extremely eye-catching or original backdrops, I wondered frequently why they could not have done this beautiful story justice with a higher budget. Without the charms of Mochizuki’s character designs, the art would nearly render this anime unwatchable. The opening of an anime should be its one greatest chance to dazzle and woo the audience with flashy, high-budget sequences; yet Pandora Hearts is one of the only good anime I’ve watched where the quality of the opening animation failed to impress me at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautifully conceived opening with wonderful music and fascinating visuals, but the animation itself is little beyond lacklustre.
Music & Voice Acting (9/10)
Yuki Kajiura’s work truly is beautiful. It’s hard to say anything bad about it. When it comes to emotional drama, suspenseful themes, heart-wrenching themes, and tragic themes, she is the master. Her English-language insert piece, “Everytime you kissed me,” is a thorough success, and the ubiquitous “music box” theme she created for Pandora Hearts, “Lacie,” is hauntingly memorable. But I can be nit-picky. The themes can get slightly repetitive and, if you’ve heard her previous work, it’ll probably feel a little deja vu. The endings and opening, while excellent, are not extraordinarily exceptional. In the end, the one point I knocked off comes down to the music not being extremely original, just very good.
There is nothing really left to be desired from the Japanese voice acting. Everything is just as it should be. The boyish, suave Junko Minagawa (Ryoma Echizen , Ritsuka Aoyagi) is the perfect choice as Oz, while listening to Kosuke Toriumi (Yuri Lowell, Kiba Inuzuka)’s sexy voice as Gilbert is like eating chocolate ice cream, and Akira Ishida (Gaara, Kaworu Nagisa, Athrun Zala, many others) does a spectacular job as the eccentric, foppish Break (and Emily!), as usual. In all respects, a very strong cast.
Bottom line: Pandora Hearts has its share of flaws, and probably won’t please absolutely everyone (action fans, why are you still here?!), but once immersed in its lovely, charming little world, its intoxication is a very, very pleasant experience. (9/10)
Pushed aside and left broken, do you accept death in the name of saving another’s life, desperately looking for pieces of yourself to confirm your existence? Knowing nothing about yourself, wanting to find out, yet scared of finding out, how do you move on? How do you protect something you once lost, in fear of losing it again, suffocating it with your loyalty and inability to let it leave your sight?
Pandora Hearts explores the story of Oz Vessalius ( or Bezarius, as I’m used to ), a boy whose life is thrown into chaos on his fifteenth birthday, at his coming-of-ceremony. The anime, I’d say, has an overarching theme of loss and self-discovery.
The Abyss is a deep, dark place where sinners are dragged into-a place that Oz stopped believing in until he was thrown in. With the discovery of a pocket watch that sings a haunting tune, strange things begin happening and Oz meets a young girl called Alice, a Chain from the Abyss with the form of a black rabbit once her suppressed power is unleashed, who is searching for her lost memories.
I won’t reveal anymore. The whole charm of the anime is found in the characters and the past shrouded in mystery. Oz, Alice, and his faithful servant, Gilbert, begin their quest to search for pieces of memory that Alice is searching for.
On the surface, it looks like a normal anime. Questing for memories while defeating enemies but that’s exactly where we’re misled. The pieces of Alice’s memory are intertwined with others’, and for the most part, the plot involves flashbacks of the characters’ pasts. One fragment only leads to more questions. Pandora Hearts’ strongest point is its characters. The characters are never one-sided and they are so skilfully woven that we see begin to slowly see the flaws in them. Why does Oz accept everything so light-heartedly? Nothing seems to bother him at all but as we move on, we see a darkness emerge, once layered and locked away.
Despite all that, the anime retains its timely comedy, providing a light-hearted adventure for the person watching. Alice and Gilbert are constantly fighting for Oz’s attention, coming up with nicknames like “Seaweed Head” and “Stupid rabbit”. Oz leaves them to their own antics, only to be unwillingly dragged in and pulled from both sides. Oz, disturbingly calm about everything, with a policy to accept everything as it is because anything can happen. He has also been shown with a tendency to flirt, much like his uncle.
Alice, while meat-loving, sarcastic, tsundere-like and shows some signs of sadism, has a sweet and vulnerable side. Gilbert, while short-tempered and sensitive, is gentle and hold a fierce loyalty to Oz. The only time Alice and Gilbert cooperate with each other is when yet another interesting character, Xerxes Break slips in ( quite literally ). Break is one of those manipulative characters who believes in using others and being used. He also likes to pop out of the strangest places, but he, too, has a larger part than simply being a “minor” character. His mistress, Sharon, is a deceptively sweet-looking character who, in punishing Break, shows no hesitance.
Vincent Nightray, a man who, at times is, sweet while other times, scarily crazed and shows an alarming obsession for his older brother. Then, although he didn’t have much screen time, Eliot Nightray and his attendant, Leo. Eliot was truly a crucial character who played a large part in Oz’s development. There also some undertones of hinted romance but that doesn’t play a large part.
The episodes passed by too fast for me to realise that I was almost at the end. Oz, as a character, peels away the protective layers he had unconsciously wrapped around himself and slowly starts to face himself. He, Alice and Gilbert have grown undeniably closer and it’s time to face past demons. The mystery behind what truly happened in the past is left as a question mark and in that aspect, I believe the anime could have ended off better.
Even then, the plot did a great job. I’d say, honestly, it didn’t feel like there was “evil” like in some anime, there’s pointedly evil people who do the most horrible things. But in this, you slowly start to realise that things are not as they seem and that’s exactly what makes this a classic watch. The plot wasn’t perfect, I admit, there were certain clichés but the idea of building something with pieces of memories and at the same time, building the characters’ pasts solidly, they did a wonderful job. I did cry once, at that important part of Eliot and Oz’s meeting.
Moving on to the OSTs, they were perfect. I love Kajiura Yuki’s music and using the English piece “Everytime You Kissed Me” by Emily Bindiger really raised the quality of the anime. The OST is one of the things that gave me goosebumps. One thing I had a problem with, though, is that it tended to become repetitive. At some point, I realised that the same OSTs were repeating and it didn’t have as much impact as it should have. Even so, the OST really did help to make this a top-notch and haunting anime. The voice acting was great. There were times when it kind of slipped and you start to wonder if Oz’s voice actor is a female but I think she did a really great job of voicing Oz. It was deceiving because I always thought it was a male ( except for those few times she had to scream ). The voice actors manage to bring out the feelings and the characters they are.
The animation appealed to me, but in today’s standards, it hardly stands out. The animation, however, holds this certain fluidity and childishness in young characters, showing that, perhaps, the story isn’t as deep as it seems and we shouldn’t look too much into it. The animation remained smooth throughout so I don’t think it was much of a problem.
Pandora Hearts is worth your time and effort. But I wouldn’t say that it would appeal to all fans who might be more inclined to other genres. I really enjoyed it, hence the full score. It’s still a great watch so give it a try!
Why do I say this?
There are many interesting plot threads and ideas that are introduced at various points in the story, but they are almost never followed through with or they’re executed in a way that, frankly, makes them boring. For example, when we learn about the four dukedoms of Pandora, I get the sense that there’s a lot of history and political machinations going on in the background but it hardly ever gets explored, instead focusing on the development of our main heroes, Oz and Alice (which doesn’t sound that bad, but more on that later). Then, we are introduced to the main antagonists, the Baskervilles, who seem really cool and threatening at first, but when we meet them, are like Team Rocket without the silly speeches. In other words, they’re there just to have antagonists in the show and don’t do a whole lot to further the story.
The cherry on top was the notably craptastic anime-only ending. I have never even read the manga and I could tell the ending was shoddily put together at the last minute, just to have some sort of conclusion, but honestly, I’d rather have an open ending over what they did here. For fear of being too spoilery, I will just say that the writers thought to throw in a bunch of generic Chains to provide some sort of “ultimate challenge” for the protagonists, but as a result, it comes off as completely random and badly-written.
So let’s move on to the protagonists beginning with Oz. Oz is a lovely young fellow – cheerful, caring, loyal, and brave. However, he’s apathetic, taking everything in stride even when he’s faced with some terrible Chains in the Abyss. It’s completely unrealistic and makes it hard for anyone to connect with him. How can you care about a character who, well, doesn’t care? To his credit, he does get some character development but it either never follows through (e.g. his father issues) or it takes the form of someone lecturing him (this is probably more the fault of the writers than an actual character flaw, though).
Then, there’s Alice, Pandora Heart’s main tsundere. She doesn’t end up being nearly as interesting as she first presents herself to be, although her little quirks make her more endearing than Oz, such as her insistence that Oz is her manservant and her fondness for meat (LOL since when does a rabbit like meat so much?). Still, I’m afraid to say she doesn’t have much depth to her, the most being her desire to regain all the fragments of her memory. The rest of the time, she’s relegated to being a source of humour and/or romantic tension with Oz or, in her B-Rabbit form, being the series own deus ex machina.
There are some notable characters – namely Gil, Break, and Vincent – who receive some notable time and developing on top of interesting histories and colourful personalities, but they’re supporting characters who must eventually step back to let the main plot take center stage.
As for the animation, overall, it’s poor. There are some nice designs floating around, but when it comes down to making everything move, it’s lacking, especially for such a recent and (relatively) short series. I’ve seen longer and older series with equal or better animation, to be honest. I swear, I have never seen so much floating hair and clothes in anime in my life – it was like a gust of wind went by and the animators simply took a single frame from that and kept it for the entire sequence while keeping the mouths moving. Even in the opening sequence (which are nearly always of high quality), there’s a shot of Oz running that looks odd and clunky.
Most reviews will also point out the lovely music, but then it’s by Kajiura Yuki, so that’s a given. If you’ve heard Kajiura’s music before, you’ll recognize her style almost immediately, so whether that’s a positive or a negative is up to you. For me, it’s generally a positive since she pulls through with another solid soundtrack, but personally, I’d like to see her try something different from what she usually composes. For Pandora Heart’s purposes, though, it’s good listening material here, although certain tracks tend to get overplayed. Voice acting was pretty solid, so no complaints here.
So overall, Pandora Hearts began as a very promising series with a lot of great ideas that could have continued being great until the end if executed properly. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen and the series falls flat on its face by the halfway point. I would say either read the manga (which I’m told is better?) or find another fantasy series.
6: Dragon Ball Kai
English: Dragon Ball Z Kai
MAL Score: 7.71
Five years after the events of Dragon Ball, martial arts expert Gokuu is now a grown man married to his wife Chi-Chi, with a four-year old son named Gohan. While attending a reunion on Turtle Island with his old friends Master Roshi, Krillin, Bulma and others, the festivities are interrupted when a humanoid alien named Raditz not only reveals the truth behind Gokuu’s past, but kidnaps Gohan as well.
With Raditz displaying power beyond anything Gokuu has seen before, he is forced to team up with his old nemesis, Piccolo, in order to rescue his son. But when Gokuu and Piccolo reveal the secret of the seven mystical wish-granting Dragon Balls to Raditz, he informs the duo that there is more of his race, the Saiyans, and they won’t pass up an opportunity to seize the power of the Dragon Balls for themselves.
These events begin the saga of Dragon Ball Kai, a story that finds Gokuu and his friends and family constantly defending the galaxy from increasingly more powerful threats. Bizarre, comical, heartwarming and threatening characters come together in a series of battles that push the powers and abilities of Gokuu and his friends beyond anything they have ever experienced.
Many like me who have seen the original and yet have seen this and thought well Kai is obviously the same isn’t it?
Well Yeah thats because it is But there are differences here and there to mention but it isn’t as major as a lot of people like to assume so I will be making some comparisons here that you’ll expect to see in this review since this is based on my analysis of this show from watching it twice alongside Dragon ball Z.
Story – 9
The story is sped up much more better compared to the original for obvious reasons of course, It sticks to major characters along with the main plot, less over the top screaming (Though there is that occasionally at times) and less deviating to different locations with little going on in them. better direction of how the pacing is handled within the story to how it is in the manga though I would argue that some certain moments in this version like the original happened quite differently in the manga.
The short prologue to the beginning of what happened to Goku’s father Bardock was a nice touch compared to how the original started off. It sets the story very nicely by showing bardock’s assault on frieza’s army and also the major difference was a removal of the fillers from the original which I like a lot about this.
Now for me I enjoyed some of the fillers from the original anime such as Gohan surviving out in the wilderness as part of his training or Goku and Piccolo amusing test driving episode or even seeing some of the characters trying to find the dragon balls or just randomly seeing some of the supporting characters in their own segments like Tien, Krillin, Yamcha, Chichi etc.
The fillers were also placed in some of the right spots in the story to give some fun easy going highlights towards characters and even progression for example gohan on his adventure out in the wilderness by piccolo to adapt to his surroundings and to not be afraid had a nice throwback to the original dragonball that in a way keeps it connected.
To me, Some of the Fillers like these are still a joy to watch personally unlike some certain animes that just shoehorn filler episodes to disrupt the flow of their story and action badly
(cough cough Bleach and Naruto)
The Filler from the original offered a nice casual distraction away from the main plot but also kept up in the right places as well as still offering the action, drama and humour to the show as a whole, I mean sure the negative to that is filler episode could tend to drag but they were also placed in convenient places that to me made sense and I wish a lot of shonen animes would do this. (I could go, But moving on)
But to note I also know from the original anime you have fillers that are just too slow and time wasting, For the love of god I totally did not like the whole fake Planet Namek filler and Goku when he fell off snake way when he met those 2 annoying Orges, including the fillers that stretch the length of certain episodes or just random added silly moments which I also wasn’t a fan of.
Now with Kai most of these fillers are pretty much gone which really helps viewers to stick with the main plot which in term keeps it more direct and maintains that balance of content and at least help it to not completely drag on for very long which is a major improvement.
Art/Animation – 6
Honestly I am however disappointed with Toei animation.
A series that finished a long time ago, that was beloved by loads of fans all round the world gets this reboot in 2009 and did they improve on art and animation? honestly.. Not that much at all.
This very much annoys me to say this but Dbz kai in terms of its animation capturing the same dated 4:3 ratio like the original did with certain colour correction and contrast but with the very same style of animation which in today standards of art and animation is undeniably lazy from Toei Animation standards considering this reboot came out in 2009!! Just unacceptable.
I have no problem with the art/animation with the original series since it came out in the late 80s/Early 90s, but Come On Now!.. this is practically the same with little certain things that they kinda enhanced which look like anybody could do on PowerPoint!
What seems very good from the very opening of truly great animation that would of suited the series as whole for it in this era of animation only comes to slap people in the face when they see this and say where is the improvement on the animation?? (No way only in the opening!?….Really? Surely they had a lot more time right?)
The original recycled animation has been limited but still not showing enough of that change that should of been implemented with better quality in the first place and some of the uncut blood and violence is replace by bruises which looks silly and yes even though the manga isn’t too violent it still looses some of its believability at times when something violent occurs
which does make me sympathies with those that did not warm up towards this series but again another thing is at least its not bad compared with the original in terms of missing features to the characters and what not.
As a really good example look at original JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders reboot. It got an updated look of the animation as well as other features in their new series to bring its source material of the manga to life so why not Dragon ball kai??
I get that the studio works on other different shows in Japan now and then but Is it really that much of a chore for them to do so for their most profitable franchise besides just animating the opening? They might as well just get Madhouse to work on it like they did for Hunter X Hunter 2011 if they aren’t really up to the task.
Music – 6
Right Okay..I honestly feel pretty mixed about this one.
While Kenji Yamamoto was originally the music composer behind The music of this series but had to be replace because of some corporate music scandal he had done.
before this show was release on DVD/bluray to the public they had the music to be replace with the former composer from the original series in 2009 which yet again is a problem, like the animation the music score sounds too dated like I’m watching an old detective show that sounds like 1966 The Green Hornet, The Hell!? seriously its Dragon ball Z!!!
So Understand that the mixes of genres of this show falls under Battle Shounen, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Martial Arts,
Sci Fi, Super Power which adds a lot of variety for this show so It should feel and sound like it has its own uniqueness here especially to other music soundtracks nowadays but it unfortunately doesn’t since this anime has more of an out of date feel to it now which does not make me feel invested towards the episodes as much at times.
I LOVE the music composer Kikuchi Shunsuke from the original series I’ve nothing against him, but his soundtracks for a reboot version/ Remastering of this series up to this point just doesn’t really make me feel excited or engage to whats happening on scene especially since certain Iconic soundtracks are not present there like the original show and with this issue I feel, It just doesn’t really resonate with me when something is taking place.
Of course I am aware that Kai added a few new music scores in place of the show and they sound good but are only once during different characters moments which makes it pretty pointless honestly.
It was more better in the original because it was more authentic and done so well for particularly in that time period of anime back then.
The Opening Is okay, not really topping the original in anyway since the original Opening sounded so Iconic and with this opening I just felt it was played too much that but could’ve added more instead of hearing the same opening song throughout 97 episodes and again In no way competes with the opening of Dragon ball Z CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA since its so Iconic from the previous installment.
Voice Acting – 9
The dub and sub on the other hand are probably the highlight of Kai itself especially the dub as it is well handled by funimation.
It adds a lot more verbal curses than the original from previous works of there own, Good thing about this show its that it sticks closer to the Japanese dialogue of its source material.
For me the stand out performance from the dub easily was Chris Ayres as Frieza, Sean Schemmel as Goku, Dameon Clarke as Cell and Chris Sabat as Vegeta and Piccolo. I was also very happy that I heard other different voices for a change too, Though I do however miss Kyle Hebert as the narrator for his charismatic energy for the intro but doc Morgan does do a good job also.
Other voices like Colleen Clinkenbeard as Gohan in english is sort of okay but not that good, It can sometimes sound a little jarring and irritating at times especially when she forces her vocals too hard along with the screaming and I preferred her less as gohan as the show went on and I’m not a fan of when she has to voice Kid Goku since its basically the same as another character that she voices such as Luffy and to me it just does not fit for kid goku or gohan since all I’m hearing from her is her performance as luffy.
Not to mention she voices 18 who doesn’t even sound like she’s related to 17 as his twin sister who I felt the original sounded more close to it even in the Japanese, though her little kid version of gohan isn’t too bad. There was also a few annoying script changes as well in certain scenes too. But overall a great dub.
Now also, to be fair In comparison to Nozawa’s performance as Goku and Gohan I do think it would be unfair to compare voice performance here as some of the Japanese voice actors i feel don’t always sound as right in their roles regardless if Akira had a hand in picking certain individuals, but that isn’t my place to say because I do at times like their performance.
(P.s I’m Not trying to start a Dub Vs Sub debate here folks)
Also I like to mention the opening and closings is quite upbeat and laughably offer the best animation of the show by leaps and bounds.
but yet again, only having 1 opening can be repetitive for 97 episodes, honestly it would of been nice if they had done a few more openings each with a different song but Alas! Its only a minor nitpick.
As for the characters – 8
As Similar to the original, Cool heroes, Wicked villains, Memorable action, Plot as well as a great build up that follows through different stages of the narrative just like the manga counterpart now that the dialogue in this series expresses the show more better. Its demonstrates pretty much the same cast of colourful characters that still represents themselves in their colourful own way the more you watch you start to feel some sort of connection to one of these characters that define a lot of fun traits within the shonen genre and it’s easy to see why.
The characters have their own drive about them that strive to be the best of themselves despite their flaws which will resonate sharply with the viewer but it also gives interesting context to prior events that happens within each Arc which becomes clearer even through my 2nd rewatch.
Personal Enjoyment – 8
I have to admit the first half I really enjoyed a lot but I felt by the second half it felt like it got a little bit tedious going into Cell’s Arc even towards the final third of the show, it weirdly enough ends at Trunks going back to his own timeline to end the chaos without finishing off the rest of the series but It was pretty much a simple yet a decent conclusion until Dragon ball Kai 2014 pretty much wraps up the original series.
Final Verdict – 8
Now there could of been a much more improved version of this no doubt about that, but I feel Dbz kai did a decent job on its reboot to the original despite falling short in places where its production was very lazy which earns this series this rating
Its still a great series for anyone who want an introduction to watching battle shounen anime or just want to check out what the original series of Dragon Ball Z is.
It sticks close at hand to its source material even if you don’t want to fully watch the original at least this is a more condense way to get through with ease and not too long to feel drawn out. Sorry if my review came off being serious but that is how I properly critic and say what I say with honesty.
Also PLEASE watch Dragon ball if you can, Its basically The prequel of Both Dragon ball Kai & Z since that doesn’t get as much love as the sequel does in general. Or if it’s not your thing than the Manga would likely be a better option. Until then Thanks for reading. ; )
I’ll just focus on Kai and the changes it has
Ok, so the story in dragonball has never been really complex or deep, but it’s still fun to watch.
In my opinion, the biggest improovement Kai has over DBZ is that all the anoying fillers are gone and now the story goes, mostly, acording to the manga. No more eternal power charging, no more eternal “he is so strong” internal monologues a no more feeling that nothing really happened in the last 10 chapters. Yeah there are some fun filler missing, like when goku and picolo go to the driving school, but in the end what is gained with the exclusion of the filler is far more than what is lost.
I’ve read here that the story got cut out, that’s not true, they just cut out all the filler that made the original Dragonball anime a pain to whatch for the poeple that have read the original manga.
The art in dragonball has allways been decent considering the times when it was released. But just as the new opening makes you believe at first, this could have been a real remake but the only thing we get here are the exact same animation but on a higher resolution, that’s all.
The audio has been remade and sounds great. After finishing KAI I watched some episodes of the original anime and the difference was clear.
I also liked some of the aditions to the soundtrack, though not all of them.
At least to this date, this is the best way to watch dragonball.
If you are a newcomer to the world of dragonball you will be able to see the story and fights just as Toriyama made them in the original manga.
If you already saw the original anime or manga you will be able to go throught this all time classic once again without having to be tortured by the neverending fillers.
It’s good, but it could have been so much more.
I really would have loved to see a real remake with the kind of animation that we get in the opening of kai.
The story to DB Kai is no different from the original series. The Earth is paid a visit by a being named Raditz whom claims to be Goku’s brother; Raditz reveals to him that he’s not even of Earth, instead he comes from a different race called the Saiyians whom lived on Planet Vegeta. They eventually battle, and Goku as well as his allies learn that Raditz isn’t the only one out there from that race, nor is he even close to the strongest. They then prepare themselves to battle against the last two warriors of the Saiyan race.
I will mention now that the removal of various filler such as Snake Way, Garlic Jr., and various other things was definitely a plus. The show moves quite better without the constant distractions; but the truth is, even without the filler, DB Kai can still be a chore at times with situations dragging along for too much time, and the outcome simply not being a good enough pay off for some of the waiting. In any case, the overall story is fun, and DB Kai works its way up to the final battle against Cell.
DB Kai manages to keep the action well paced enough, and character personalities are fleshed out. However, things could have been so much better had the only change to the show been the various filler. One thing DBZ did well was its voice acting for the English dub and character interactions. Some serious fans will catch the removal of some dialog and it may bother them, it sure as hell bothered me because Vegeta especially had some good lines, like his threat to beat on Yamcha for practically no reason. The changing of voice actors got on my nerves as well; Colleen Clinkenbeard is annoying as hell as Gohan, and had I never seen this before I would have been wishing for his brutal death at the hands of Frieza. Now speaking of Frieza, they have Chris Ayres playing him. I hate everyone Ayres, Chris and Greg Ayres have a very annoying, whining, saccharine feel that gets on my nerves quick. Colleen Clinkenbeard also voices Android 18, and she just feels all types of wrong here. Meredith McCoy is by far the best to play her; she brought a sinister yet sexy appeal to 18 that carried over to her facial expressions and even fighting.
Another thing DBZ always did amazingly well was introduce intense music scores. Funimation’s BGM is probably this anime’s best quality and they know it, yet for some reason they use boring elevator music, with no variation or anything new through out the entire duration of the show. Vegeta and Piccolo’s addictive themes that described their characters so well? Gone. The terrifying BGM of death when Frieza goes off to kill Vegeta while King Kai narrates this is the evil Prince’s last stand? Jettisoned… for some irritating trash that doesn’t enhance the scene at all. I can list plenty more examples, but this proves to me that not everyone understands the effect music can have during some scenes.
The animation and artwork appears to be remastered, but the only thing actually new is the opening. I don’t have much of a problem with this, still this could have been better updated. At least DB Kai delivers the action well enough and there’s plenty going on that can turn a new comer into a fan. There’s loads of fisticuffs and brutal beatings to go around.
As I look around there are plenty of people that really enjoyed Kai more than DBZ. I can honestly say that I understand that because it does trim a lot of the fat and focuses more on character and story development, along with action which is the main selling point. Unfortunately for me, I look for other things in my anime and music means a lot to me; a great soundtrack can actually mask flaws in a work, and DBZ was full of them yet the BGM smoothed things out making it more tolerable. In addition, there are things that seems changed for the sake of it. None of the voice actors from the original died while this was in production, so I see no reason for the change in cast, nor the removal of some lines.
Despite my dislike for this remake, if that’s what it is, I still recommend it to fans so they can see it for themselves; but I highly advise to be prepared for these various changes. I already know plenty of individuals who had the same issues with this as I did.
Highs: Some of the removal of filler does work, enjoyable action
Lows: Altering of cast and BGM is a huge blow for me
5: Kyou kara Maou! 3rd Series
MAL Score: 7.78
At the end of season 2. Yuuri defeats Shinou, but since Shinou had been defeated, Yuuri and Murata could no longer go to the Shin Makoku. However, because Yuuri had fought and defeated him, his powers had surpassed that of Shinou’s, resulting in him being able to rely on his own power to return to Shin Makoku.
After the ceremony at the age of 16, Yuuri slowly begins to discover that much has happened while he was away. The ten officials of the noble family have decided to make Wolfram the next Maou, but now that Yuuri has returned and taken back his role as Maou, complications arise when one noble disagrees with Yuuri returning to the throne.
In addition, an ancient secret society that threatens the peace of both humans and Mazoku has risen, and a fight for the throne that now leaves the nobles wondering who is the legitimate Maou.
Just like the OVA Saralegui (Sara) enters into this anime and uses sly methods to get Yuuri to do his bidding. This anime had a sense of betrayal and may be a little more emotional than the first for some people. Saralegui isn’t rather friendly at the beginning of the series but then he realizes not only Yuuri’s special qualities that make them help each other but that also his ______ is invloved.(Six letter word)
the basic story is a war between the Mazoku and humans. Yuuri was away for some time apparently and this caused several people to rethink who is the legitamate successor of the throne. This problem is mainly caused by Wolfram’s relative who wants Wolfram to take over.
Yuuri travels around trying to help stop the war, as usual trying to be the hero. At some point he is even unable to return home. ~~Mystery~~
All these problems are caused mainly by one person and for a good reason, in order to obtain the…not spoiling it.
There is still quite an amount of humour based in the show and there are different arcs even though it is only a 39 episode anime. Yuuri’s brother is alot more involved which makes it more enjoyable, especially the last episode were i almost pissed myself. It was sooooooooo funny. You may just think i am weird but i enjoyed this anime and i recommend it to you if you enjoyed the first series.
P.S. The OVA is crap so don’t judge this anime from that.
The show is extremely entertaining, just as America’s funniest home videos or Keeping up with the kardashians is, except unlike those shows, you don’t end up with a lower brain cell count afterwards.
The show is a classic stereotypical anime, and a pretty good reason why people who don’t watch anime think all of us who do are fucking wierdos’. There is blatant cringe worthy yaoi, almost to an excessive amount, made worse by the fact it is often seen as a running joke(Wolfram being gay, and Yuri sort of not really being gay?- They are “engaged”) and never actually given a reason. It’s not like “Wolfram is gay” because nobody, including the character himself, would admit it or say it. Then, you’re like, Yuri, just tell him you don’t like dick, but then there’s scenes where he is alone with a guy and says shit like “he smells nice” or “he has nice features” and then blushes like a fucking schoolboy who just got asked who is crush is by his own crush.
The yaoi alone kills me, sometimes so much that I have to pause the anime and go for a walk. Then there’s the matter of the characters them selves. All characters are hilariously cliche, and almost always the same person honestly. There is very rarely two characters who aren’t like the other. Yes, there’s aspects that are different-in personality and background- but only just enough for a lazy writer to say “job well done, I think I’ll go check out an anime cafe”
Yuri himself is likable, but very cliche. He’s trustworthy to a fault, and never learns not to be, despite it literally causing nearly every story arcs problems. Does he have character development? Sort of. But really all he does is just understand more people, more. He really never changes or learns from anything, and him, and nearly every character in the show, is waaaayyy over the top. Like, Jim Carey over the top, except with post 2005’s quality.
One character they do add, King Sara, is likable only because he is rather different from everyone else. He is mysterious, manipulative, sociopathic, and influential, all the while being 2 years older than Yuri. While the character is still not great by any means, it’s certainly a better character than the villains in the show. They are about as forgettable as the show itself.
That’s actually an apt way to describe the anime: Forgettable. I liked the first series, but if you were to ask me what the fuck happened, I would space out for about 4 minutes, remembering only the tense yaoi moments and sincere stupidly of yuri himself. I can’t even recall villains in the first series, other than Adalbert, and if you think he was a villain, then you might need to higher your standards.
In a nutshell to describe characters of this series- Largely likable, largely forgettable, but entirely entertaining.
The plot is what it is as well. It isn’t so much messy as it is just plain bad. So, really, that’s sort of a good thing. The main plot in this third series often had me mouthing obscenities and face palming myself. It’s like “Okay, yuri did this again” or “Yuri, how are you this stupid”.
Then, the show can’t even make up for it’s over the top cliche sincerity, with adding cool fight scenes or even blood or gore. Nobody ever seems to die in this show. It’s like it’s made for 9 year olds but could only be appreciated by 14 year olds.
The art, given the year it was made, is passable, but considering other shows made the same year, is pretty crap in comparison. It’s not really bad per say, just underwhelming and sometimes, like when it comes to the animation of the show, hilariously bad. The animation is so mediocre it makes the art appear above average in comparison.
What the show does really suffer from at all, is sound. The background music, just as in the first series, is lovely, potent, and always fitting. It’s not amazing, but certainly the best aspect of this entire show.
To conclude: The 3rd series of Kyo Kara Maoh’s cringe worthy cliche moments and characters, as well as it’s childlike tone and attitudes, are only saved due to the likability of the show- a likeness that’s rather embarrassing that even among anime fans, I rarely mention this as something I watched and actually enjoyed.
You probably will too.
The action sucks, plot is ridiculous most of the times but its no less enjoyable than others! You can’t help but feel warm and fluffy inside while watching this anime. I’ve seen a lot of anime with better storyline, art, plot but not all of them can affect a person’s emotion. I think that what makes it possible are the characters. I’m not an expert when it comes to analyzing stories but I think that the characters in this anime are well designed. Not in terms of appearance but in personality and background story. I felt genuinely sad for the character Geneus despite being a villain. For Saralegui, i felt irritation at the same time sympathy but regardless he’s one of my most favorite character in this series! Also, I’m not a fan of pure, naive characters since most of them are just dumb and helpless, but Yuuri is an exception. He doesnt waver. He stands his ground and most importantly he fights for what he believes in. Yuuri is truly PURE. regarding the shonen ai department, theres completely NO development but I dont feel disappointed at all.
To summarize, the story revolves around loyalty, trust and friendship. Its worth watching and I plan to rewatch the whole anime in the near future!
Best episode: episode 25, when the 10 nobles and yuuri played “shinou’ed away”… I somewhat felt proud for yuuri 🙂
4: Michiko to Hatchin
English: Michiko & Hatchin
MAL Score: 7.84
Under the unrelenting heat of the South American sun, hardened criminal Michiko Malandro breaks out of a high security prison for the fourth time in search of a man from her past. Michiko finds a clue in the form of Hana Morenos, a young girl trapped under the fists of her abusive foster family. In her powerlessness, Hana fantasizes about the day when she is finally whisked away from her captors by her very own Prince Charming. Little does she know that her fated prince would turn out to be the buxom and husky convict who charges in atop a stolen motorbike, claiming to be her mother.
The unlikely duo chase down their dreams in the sun-drenched land of Diamandra, navigating through the cacophony of betrayal, poverty, and child exploitation rings hiding in plain sight. However, wind of Michiko’s manhunt soon reaches the ears of criminal syndicate Monstro Preto, and a storm of gang warfare begins brewing over the horizon…
Michiko to Hatchin is the story of vibrant people and their clashing agendas, and of all the unlikely human connections drawn together by one elusive man.
Manglobe, the production company (and the brains behind), Michiko to Hatchin, have really pushed the boat out with this anime. But then again, they’re no strangers to success or quality, especially as they are the company responsible for Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo. The series was directed by Yamamoto Sayo and is effectively her first full time at the helm of a production, and whilst this may have been a gamble on the part of Manglobe, it’s one that certainly paid off as Michiko to Hatchin has a certain “fresh” quality that I haven’t seen in anime in a long time (not since Cowboy Bebop in fact).
The tale is about an escaped convict named Michiko Malandro and her quest to find her lost, and supposedly dead, lover Hiroshi Morenos. In order to achieve this, she “kidnaps” a girl who is supposedly Hiroshi’s daughter, initially thinking that she would know where Hiroshi is. However the world has changed during her years in prison, becoming at times more brutal and less forgiving.
The decision to set this tale in a quasi-South American (Brazilian), country was a stroke of genius as the creators and director could do things that would never have been included had the show been given a more staid setting. In addition to this, the characters themselves are able to have that little bit more “flair” about them because of the setting, something that initially detracts from some of them until one realises that the gaudiness is all simply part of that character’s persona – more on that later though.
Now fans of Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo will know that Manglobe are able to produce some stunning visuals, and Michiko to Hatchin is no slouch in this department. From barren deserts to lush jungles, from slum shanties to sleek factories, the level of detail is excellent, and well above that of many recent titles. In addition to this, the various settings in which the story takes place have a certain realistic quality about them that belies the fact that this is an anime.
In addition to the great scenery, the characters are extremely unique and well designed, again, adding to the sense of realism about the show. The leads and immediate supporting cast are individuals to a tee, with each character possessing a certain lifelike quality that many anime would find difficult to match.
One area where the show really excels is with the animation. It’s rare to see such lifelike movement in anime, and in many ways the fluidity and natural motion in Michiko to Hatchin represents a step up from that of Samurai Champloo.
Sound is another area where this show works very well. The effects are extremely well chosen and choreographed, and while some may be overwhelming, this is actually purposeful because of the situations the characters may find themselves in. The music used throughout the series is atmospheric and refreshing, and is reflective of the Latin-American feel of the show. The OP, a track called “Paraiso” by the Japanese jazz band Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, is an excellent piece that harks back to the classic “Tank!” of Cowboy Bebop fame. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the ED, “Best Friend” by Karutetto, as it is a bit too “boy-band” for my tastes.
One of the truly great things about Michiko to Hatchin is actually the cast. Manglobe and Yamamoto took the somewhat surprising, move when they chose the actors, opting not for established traditional seiyuu but for established screen actors. However, this seemingly risky choice has paid off in spades for the series. Maki Yoko (Battle Royale II: Requiem, The Grudge), is extremely versatile as the sexy, pouting, hotheaded, and somewhat childish Michiko, whilst Ohgo Suzuka (Year One in the North, Memoirs of a Geisha), is truly excellent in the role of Hatchin as she provides a depth of character that is rare to find.
Which neatly brings us to the characters themselves. Michiko is willful, headstrong, selfish in the extreme, and very childish. Hatchin is somewhat shy and nervous, but also responsible, tidy, and hates laziness. Both leads are extremely well defined from the outset, something which is reinforced as the relationship between the two is extremely combative (the pair are effectively polar opposites). Others like the terrifying Satoshi Batista or the terrier-like (i.e. always chasing Michiko), Atsuko Jackson are also well defined from the start, and through the first few episodes it may be difficult to see how any of the characters are actually developing because of the strength of the characterizations.
One reason for this is because both Manglobe and Yamamoto decided against using normal anime practices for developing characters, and instead chose a far more realistic and subtle approach. One needs only to compare the relationship between Michiko and Hatchin (or even Michiko and Atsuko), at the beginning of the series, with their behaviour towards the end to see exactly how much they have developed as characters. An example of this is the fact that Michiko is initially very much an annoying, sexy, pouting, selfish jerk, however at the end of the series she reminds me of Balsa from Seirei no Moribito. Hatchin, Atsuko and Satoshi also undergo this extremely subtle development (you’ll see how much by episode 20).
I thoroughly enjoyed this series for many reasons, the main one being the fact that this is a show that is not afraid to show the casual brutality of its setting. There will be some out there who didn’t like the way the series ended, however I found the conclusion to be very much in keeping with the essence of the series, whilst at the same time being far more realistic than the endings of most other anime.
Michiko to Hatchin is a rarity in the medium, and should not be prejudged on the basis of one or two episodes. The complexity of each character, the harsh, unforgiving setting, the sometimes brutally real actions of individuals, and the extremely subtle development all serve to make this one of the best shows of 2008, and one of the best anime to appear in the last decade. At times Thelma & Louise, at times City of God, at times Laurel and Hardy, this anime possesses a style and flair that surpasses that of Samurai Champloo – a feat by any measure.
Given the quality of this series, and its previous titles, I’m rapidly becoming a fan of Manglobe.
The world depicted in “Michiko to Hatchin” is this wasteland, a setting fraught with greed and death amid the indigent and the impoverished. This is South America (Brazil), or rather a variation of it. From the gritty alleys, to the squalid shanties and the lush and viridescent landscapes, Manglobe doesn’t disappoint. The setting is not only a beauty to look at but is also something unique and rare that allows the show to take wing and travel regions that are distinctive yet still within the realms of what was initially established. Through this director Yamamoto is able to channel the genius of Watanabe and the result is something unlike any other that challenges and perhaps even surpasses works such as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.
The story chronicles the lives of mainly Michiko Malandro, an escaped convict on a desperate hunt to find a supposedly dead man that was once her everything and Hana Morenas nicknamed Hatchin, the apparent daughter of this man and who Michiko initially thinks is the ultimate clue to helping her achieve her goal. The premise is set, but the main plot is less prominent than what many would expect. In this show it is merely used as a device to tie in many self-contained stories together and give the show a satisfactory conclusion because ultimately this show isn’t about the goal, it never was. The show is about the journey and the bonds that are broken and healed along the way. And the stubborn, immature Michiko along with the self-righteous, mature Hatchin are characters real and charming enough to carry you through this journey and not let you go.
The show also has an astounding soundtrack that lives and breathes nearly as much as the characters do. The energetic soundtrack fits every beat and every pulse of this high-powered train ride, yet also smoothly transitions towards a more melancholy nature when the situation calls for it. Through this the music is able to create remarkable scenes of raw emotion and immeasurable charisma that echo and persist long after you have finished the show. The animation is no slouch in its department either. One of the reasons why Michiko and Hatchin feel so startlingly real is that they look and move like real people as well and while there are times where the animation quality may drop, it still stays very consistent throughout and lends to an experience that is both aesthetically pleasing and emotionally stimulating.
Ultimately this is a series that as well as examining the lengths in which people would go to accomplish their goals, more importantly looks at the bonds that are formed during that time. Michiko and Hatchin go on a dangerous adventure together as a tornado of a tag team, and through this are able to form a relationship that overcomes the trials and tribulations that come their way and even the long and arduous chasm created by time. It is a bond both honest and deep that lies in juxtaposition with the superficial and vapid bonds congesting the streets of Brazil, a strong bond of indomitable love and unending trust. And though there are many instances throughout the series where the two characters pull each other down with their flawed personas to the extent that you would think they are better off without each other, it becomes evident later on how much they need one another, how much more they are able to accomplish with each other as their platforms. The show does well to depict two sides of a relationship, one of anger and disarray during quarrels and also one of a serene and resonant beauty during the rare moments of an embrace and while the show is far from deep or a riddled literary piece of work, it does well to show the power of friendship and love in a realistic manner and the way in which it is able to travel the void of time and always be there right when you need it, proving that love is far from a burden, but rather a privilege. The privilege of being responsible for another.
Sayo Yamamoto’s first work is by no means perfect, but through its unique setting, remarkable soundtrack and captivating characters, she is able to construct a show filled with raw emotions and a flaring style constituting to a heartening, disturbing and riveting journey that in my book is nothing less than a masterpiece.
Michiko to hatchin’s story is rather unusually executed; my original impressions was that the series was episodic but upon completion that statement was a fairly inaccurate description, but in saying that I still find that each episode is ‘episodic’ in its own way. Each episode does contribute to the story being told, but interestingly enough they also provide detail on many background details: such as the lives of a group of kids growing up in the slums Sao Paulo, or even settling in on the business motives of an organized crime network hosting a bullfighting tournament or a prostitution ring etc etc…
To its credit these many moments scattered throughout the series helped maintain my interest throughout the series entirety; each scenario was new and refreshing, each life had something different to offer. Unfortunately, criticisms still need to be considered, as whilst all these many moments managed to pique my interest. I could only feel that they somehow seemed to be a foot-hold in grabbing the viewers attention because the actual story seems kind of trivial in comparison to many of the side-stories.
This observation still only further justifies why i believe this series to be good, as it came up with such a variety of side-stories that managed to maintain a consistently high level of quality, that made the long journey all the more worth it in the end.
One thing that I wanted to point out upon entering this series, is that at the period of time in which Michiko to Hatchin is set. Brazil was going through a revolution. I was personally a little disappointed when I discovered that this series covered very little of that historic event. Not to discredit the series for this because instead of doing that, it’s vivid portrayal of life in Brazil at the time seems particularly plausible and in many ways makes up for my disappointment. Underneath every garbage bin and behind every building, the place oozes with a deep sinister corruption. Everything from the police cover-ups and false justifications, money laundering, prostitution, you name it, this series probably has it.
A positive to all this, is that the series doesn’t try to make a bad name out of all of this. It simply lets its vision unwrap itself never bombarding its audience with moral preaching. This is the lives of these people, are they happy with it? Maybe, maybe not, but at least they are making a living out of what they got, and if what they have is morally ambiguous then why not use its absolute best.
The actual story whilst being rather trivial as I mentioned earlier is twisted around with the many side-stories adding a bit to the series worth. What irks me though is the motivations behind the foundation of the story, our main character Michiko being one of the soul main characters comes across as ditzy and in many ways, really gullible which does little to help with story progression, and most of the story is moved forward by side-characters.
Even with these criticisms, I still must say that Michiko to Hatchin’s ending is probably one of the best conclusions to an anime series that I have ever encountered. One problem I have found with many shows is that they take too long to conclude or the exact opposite where they don’t have a conclusion. Michiko to Hatchin falls fair and square into the middle. Covering everything that it had previously established and no noticable plot threads are left unresolved without seeming to rushed or too slow.
One of the most notable things about Michiko to Hatchin’s story is its interesting cast. The show takes the time and effort to construct a diverse quantity of personality and character traits. I do have a couple of issues with some minor and the main characters, some minor characters (not many) are occasionally used as plot conveniences but even these characters still get some level of development. Emphasizing that this series waste’s no time in establishing its characters personalities, ambitions and motivations, which is certainly a good thing.
One of the best things about watching this series was watching Michiko and Hatchin’s characters develop as the series played out, they’re an unusual and possibly eccentric combination of mother and daughter. Many times I began to wonder if they are even related, like at all, but as a member of the audience, I could feel a relationship present, whilst being slightly unorthodox it was not an impossible relationship to envision. It is entertaining to watch as they interact, learning from each others mistakes. Watching the unusually mature Hatchin take care of the naively reckless but caring Michiko, and vice-versa.
My complaints with some of the characters, are that their motivations are occasionally very vague. A good example would be some of the interactions between Michiko and Atsuko, a few of the outcomes from there encounters are occasionally poorly explained and sometimes a little stupid. Without giving away any spoilers, there was one particular scene where I was screaming at Atsuko in my head for not carrying out a particular action that she had tried so hard to achieve but in the end didn’t carry it out. The reason? Well I might have missed it because the motivation behind it was sort of precarious but the consequences for iit rendered their reasons completely arbitrary.
Our main character Michiko isn’t without fault either, very prone to some questionable actions throughout the series, chasing someone who is clearly trying to get away from her just seems to be a motivation that is slightly beyond my comprehension.
Other than these complaints it was an interesting cast nonetheless and despite these people’s shortcomings, these actions (even the ones that I previously mentioned) never felt out of character and becomes a small plus in my book.
The Art whilst not anything spectacular is very clean and this quality is constant throughout the entirety of the series. The most notable moments are seen in the many action sequences. Each scenes choreography was well animated rarely ever resorting to cheap techniques (and if the series did they were very well disguised). Each scene had a fluidity all on its own, it was fast-paced when it needed to be, retrospectively it was slow when demanded and normal between these many moments. Each frame never felt out of place when actions were being displayed. I mention this because the sheer breadth and style of the many action sequences in this series never lets up and the art knows how to dictate the adrenaline pumping moments and thus contributes to the series well-established atmosphere.
One of the best things about Michiko to Hatchin is the background designs. Never before have I seen a 3rd world/2nd world country presentation as detailed than I have in Michiko to Hatchin (with a possible exception of “Flag”) in an anime/manga series. Everything from the large open spaces accompanying a desolate road; to the slum, crime ridden districts of Brazil’s many cities, towns and communities. The level of detail that goes into many of the locations emphasize the tensions building in each district and community.
The character designs across the board are very commendable, and I loved how all the characters have a degree of acceptable realism to them. Whilst Michiko the main lead has a busty accentuated figure, her figure is complimented by the shows diverse characters and as mentioned previously with their large range of personalities, the same can be said for each character’s designs. Figures often appear in a versatility of chubby, well-groomed and formal, poor and hungry, old and young character types. Serving to make the characters far more relatable, increasing the series impact.
One particular aspect of the art that I wish to take into consideration is actually the opening and ending credits. One thing I loved about this series was the mesh of beautiful textures that I witnessed upon entering and leaving every episode. With a hint of photo-shop thrown into the blend of pseudo-phantasmagorical art reminiscent of a retro-American psychedelic hippie movement.
Michiko to Hatchin’s soundtrack is a well-made and thoroughly appropriate soundtrack with a collaboration of string instrumentals, mostly of the ukulele and acoustic guitar, with a common accompaniment of percussion instruments such as the timpani, bongos and such. A lot of the songs in the series ost are wildly and energetically presented, catering to the fun and adrenalin-soaked and occasionally sexually fused atmosphere that the series provides.
Some of the tracks are particularly memorable, most notably the opening sequence with its bubbly bebop jazz style. Effectively melding its complex harmonics making it an absolute blast to listen to, with the show forcing me to listen to it every single time I started a new episode, and that is definitely a good thing.
Each track adequately sets the tone of each scene and never fails to boast an exciting entourage. Overall I see no reason to complain about the ost. It is effective, different and great to listen to.
Overall, this show does have a couple of faulty points, where entertainment value can be somewhat lacking on a couple of occasions and at times I felt the characters make stupid decisions but they are few and far between. And as I mentioned before, rarely do those stupid decisions seem out of character, so if anything it helps benefit the series.
Altogether this series is a quality adventure taking place in an untouched landscape. It has a positively balanced story with non-repetitive scenario’s, the show never tries too hard at what it does and loves to revel in its own world. It knows its limits and actively makes use of that boundary. It is a vision that is both refreshing and entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who shares a delight in venturing into a world of interesting characters and constant thumping of a glorious beat in every background.
3: InuYasha: Kanketsu-hen
English: InuYasha: The Final Act
Japanese: 犬夜叉 完結編
MAL Score: 8.21
Thwarted again by Naraku, Inuyasha, Kagome Higurashi, and their friends must continue their hunt for the few remaining Shikon Jewel shards, lest they fully form into a corrupted jewel at the hands of Naraku. But Naraku has plans of his own to acquire them, and will destroy anyone and anything standing in his way—even his own underlings.
The persistent, unyielding danger posed by Naraku forces Sango and Miroku to decide what is most important to them—each other or their duty in battle. Meanwhile, Inuyasha must decide whether his heart lies with Kikyou or Kagome, before fate decides for him. Amid the race to find the shards, Inuyasha and his brother Sesshoumaru must also resolve their feud and cooperate for their final confrontation with Naraku, as it is a battle they must win in order to put a stop to his evil and cruelty once and for all.
The art as always was clean and enjoyable. But the development of the characters was spectacular! I am so glad that the ending was the way it was. What I hoped for all along.
So glad I watched it and highly recommend to others as well!
To a man who completely watched every single Inuyasha episode known to man, I want to point out that this here is one of the most miraculous things ever.
Story – The story takes wherever the last story picked of. I found this to be much better than the 167 episodes the original one took place. The psychological impact of the story stunned me to no end, making me marathon this over and over again. Truly amazing. 10/10
Characters – Out of all the characters in this series, Kagome evolved the most. Not to say that the others stayed the same, but Kagome. She played the most significant role and completely carried the show. Unfortunately, the way Inuyasha changed was completely irrelevant in any standard and should not be mentioned again, overall best character development. 10/10
Sound – You may not realize it, but the dub for this show was gorgeous. You could say that this is dubbing gone right. It made the show feel very realistic and logical in every aspect of the story. Don’t forget the OST. Truly just gorgeous. I spent $20 downloading the Inuyasha OST and not once regretting it. 10/10
Art – The art style for this was pretty astounding, feeling refined like my new born child. He was born yesterday April 4, 2014 at 12:27 AM while I was finishing up this show. 10/10
Enjoyment – Disregarding what ever my wife says about this show, it will always be 1st in my life. 10/10
Overall – This was a masterpiece of a show that i would never recommend the first season to. It was glorious in all aspects. In the honor I gave my son the middle name of InuYasha 10/10
Im out and never forgot to blaze it.
Story (10) Definitely one of the more in-depth storylines in anime. The show takes you back in time, well it literally does each time Kagome goes through her family’s well, to see peoples’ pasts to see how everyone is connected to each other. The story picks up where the first season ended, Inuyasha and company are going after Naraku to end his evil in their world. This is the main story, but things that weren’t taken care of in the first season were finally given a resting place. What I mean by this is things like “What happened to Inuyasha-Kagome-Kikyou love triangle?!?” are finally resolved and definite.
Something that I would like to point out is the pacing of this continuation series. This 26 episode ending is NOT rushed, everything is greatly paced.
Art (8) A definite improvement in animation, but not to the extent that it is extremely noticeable. The animation style is kept the same, which is great because I believe that having the same character animation is crucial in the overall enjoyment of the anime. An example for this would be the Minami-ke series where all 4 seasons are animated differently because they were made in 4 different studios. It had an obvious effect to many of the views, including myself. Animation is smooth and attractive, yet not too flashy.
Sound (10) Music in the InuYasha series have always been great! Song likes Dearest – Ayume Hamasaki, Every Heart – Boa, Fukai Mori – Do As Infinity, and Rakuen – Do As Infinity, are great examples of the awesome music. Music is incorporated into the anime well with the timing of it, and also the selection of music they use. In fact, my first spine-chilling experience while watching anime came from this show. It was due to the mix of what was happening in the anime and the song that came with it. When I think of great music in anime I think of InuYasha immediately.
Character (10) The complex relationship between Inuyasha, Kagome, and Kikyou is one of the most engaging subjects of anime that I have ever seen. The anime does a great job in taking time with character development. You do not have to worry about not understanding why things happen, because the anime explains, or has explained, why. The characters are original, that is what I love about them. I love that they all have pasts, especially Inuyasha and Kikyou. It adds so much more depth to the story. Another thing I love about the characters is the timing of their actions. They are themselves when nothing is going on, and they serious, but still themselves, when something is happening. They have dimension.
Enjoyment (9) Just an absolutely fitting ending to a great series. It was well made, and while typing that I just told myself I wish I could watch this for the first time again.
Overall (9) An extremely high 9 rating in my books. Recommend it to anyone, especially to those that are interested in action, romance, drama, and some comedy.
2: Ookami to Koushinryou II
English: Spice and Wolf II
MAL Score: 8.34
Traveling merchant Kraft Lawrence continues his northward journey with wolf goddess Holo, in search of her lost home of Yoitsu. Lawrence and his sharp-witted partner continue to make some small profits along the way, while slowly uncovering more information about Holo’s hometown. However, the road to Yoitsu is a bumpy one filled with many troubles—Lawrence runs into a charming young fellow merchant who has his eyes set on the female wolf companion, and he begins to doubt if Holo will remain by his side; he and the goddess will also have to consider precarious and risky business deals as Lawrence strives to achieve his dream of becoming a shopowner. All the while, with his determination tested at every turn during his journey, Lawrence must question his relationship with Holo, take on business ventures, and ask himself whether it is time for him and Holo to go their separate ways.
It is peculiar that despite the trials and tribulations Lawrence and Holo have gone through, many of which are life-threatening, both Lawrence and Holo showed little to no development at all. We are introduced to the merchant Lawrence with little to no background to speak of. He self-proclaims profit-oriented priorities that he insists even onto the anime’s second season, which is at best prideful, and at worst dismissing any portrayal of the developing relationship between Holo and himself. The latter is especially damning considering that a considerable amount of screen-time that was devoted to the interactions between Holo and Lawrence. In the start of Season 2, the Amarty Arc, in my opinion, was the most captivating episode in the anime where the tension between Holo and Lawrence was at its greatest, and with a possibility of the duo separating a hinted (but completely unconvincing) possibility. Yet, it ended so, so terribly. Not only was the entire premise of the conflict in bad taste, but it reveals that Lawrence seems to have learnt nothing from the ordeal, seeing how Season 2 ends.
The characterisation of Holo herself is a mess as well. Introduced as an obscure pagan deity of harvest, the Wise Wolf Holo is uncharacteristically naive and childish. Of course, this can be attributed to her centuries of solitude from being a household deity that has fallen out of favour. But you would expect Holo to live up to her sobriquet of “Wise Wolf” somehow rather than being no different from a character that looks her age. An impish, wilful character, Holo provides little to drive the narrative, and rather than being a travelling companion to Lawrence, she more resembles his charge. It is difficult to call Holo the main protagonist in the anime.
With blatant flaws in the anime contradicting the cult following of Spice and Wolf, the benefit of the doubt has to be given to the original light novels being horribly misrepresentation by the anime. Rather than being a mature slice-of-life narrative with medieval economics sprinkled on top, the anime devolved into a drama-driven narrative that features an anthropomorphic eye-candy. It has unforgivably underdeveloped characters and world, and disappointment is aggravated by the fact the anime is given a second cour but the anime remained irredeemable.
As foreshadowed by the prequel OVA, Spice and Wolf II focus heavily on the romance aspect between our protagonists. By and large, this second adaptation has been regarded as equally successful as its predecessor (if not more successful). In terms of the light novels adaptation, it has been widely accepted for its accurate following of the “actual” story, unlike most anime adaptation. While previous knowledge of the series is not absolutely required to enjoy the show, it is highly recommended for viewers to watch the first season as well as the OVA, which act as the prelude, before watching Spice and Wolf II. For those who wish to try this series with no previous background, here is a little summary of what to expect. Wordy. To be precise, the show is filled with dialogues from start to end, from episode one to episode twelve.
One common question people tend to have for this series often relates to the balance between romance and (merchant) trading. While there are still a decent dose of merchant-like business talks that may confuse viewers from time to time, the spotlight for this sequel seems to land on the character developments over anything else. Hence Horo and Lawrence fans will most likely enjoy the show much more than those who seek for nothing but story content (ie. business trades in medieval times).
The world of Spice and Wolf can often serve as a history textbook (that focuses on the medieval era in Europe). This is once again proven in the second season as viewers are exposed to the corrupted nature of the slave markets and the power of churches at the time. Although the inspiration of merchant trade has been greatly diminished, the believable surroundings of the medieval setting make this anime still interesting to watch even for those who are not too into the romance aspect of the show.
The character department, without doubt, is the selling point this season. Lawrence, for once, no longer seems like an undefeatable merchant. While viewers may remember him as a successful businessman, particularly when it comes to negotiation during trade, in season one. Many of us will be surprised to see that Lawrence, ultimately, is still a human being and thus he must also have his illogical and “stupid” moments especially when it comes to something he has no experience with. Something called love.
The animation this season is by Brains Base (as oppose to IMAGIN which was responsible for the previous season). There are some very minor changes in the character facial expressions and sometimes their looks at various angles, but overall the quality is similar to the first season and there is no reason for one to be disappointed with it. Re-using a quote from my review on the OVA, “For the most part, one can safely say Brains Base did a great job in taking over the series”.
Seiyu are the same as before with Jun Fukuyama being Kraft Lawrence and the lovely Ami Koshimizu acting as the equally lovable Horo (can’t get enough of that thick “Horo-only” accent). Other notable great seiyu that took part in this season include Romi Paku, and Saeko Chiba. In terms of music, the OP and ED are quite enjoyable and the BGM generally suit the particular scene in the question reasonably well. On the whole, this anime is still unique just like its predecessor. However, the big twist this season is the more intense character relationship developments rather than the merchant trading. In hindsight, there seems to be a certain lack of cleverness in plot development. But then again, the various Horo x Lawrence moments are enough to make up for that.
This anime continues where the last one left off, Horo and Lawrence slowly make their way to Horo’s hometown. Along the way they happen upon various opportunities for profit and gain useful knowledge. All that while trying to keep a strong relationship between a human and a goddess. Some also might wonder if this can stand up against the hype from the fame of the last series. I can easily tell you it does, but with one Achilles heel….
Its definitely not story or the cast that brings this show down from a perfect 10, its the bad decision to use a completely different production companies to fill in place of the original greats Imagin (animation) and Studio Bihou (Background art). But at the very least keep Studio Bihou as this is what made Spicy Wolf 1 extra special. The animation in S&W2 would appear perfectly the same as before except you will notice many mistakes upon viewing, such as awkward angles, skinny limbs turn to fat limbs, back ground characters, and other minor/major details. Albeit not as exact as the original, it still provides that spice and wolf feel.
If the story of Horo and Lawerence are the heart of the show, the background art would have to be the soul of the show. Amazing amounts of detail were made in S&W1. If you rewatch it, you WILL see things that you haven’t seen before. Sadly, the ‘soul’ of the show appears to be bland, lifeless, and uninhabited. So many angry feelings bubble up when i saw how many simple angles and lines are in one show. Towns don’t look like towns. They more resemble a horrible copy paste job that does not fit any point of view angle at all. Small intricate details like wheat in wheat fields or cobblestones appear to be nonexistent. It indeed does hinder the experience considerably. But I am confident you will oversee all the faults once you realize that this story is after all, Spice and Wolf 2.
Lawrence is still very ‘crafty’ (heh) and Horo is still foxy as ever. Now that their feelings are more established, we will see more character progression this time around and this alone trumps anything a bad artist can draw up. Most of their emotions are still worn on their sleeves, but now they start to rely on each other implicitly. It’s just a wonderful thing to see Lawrence and Horo interact with each other. Like a young boyfriend and girlfriend scheming to do things their way no matter how crazy it may seem. You will also notice how much these two characters have grown from before. For better or worse it does make the chemistry between them much more intense. The acting between the two is something of pure win as you will laugh, cry, and everything in between. Such a play on emotions is also a clever way of dissuading the viewer of thinking one way or another when a choice or problem arises for the fearless duo.
This will definitely lead the viewer to varying degrees of thinking about the outcome. Its a formula that definitely works great with a mercantile anime. These situations that they face definitely appear to be more difficult than before and it is apparent through the first story arc. It might be because the stronger relationship between the two or just the trading is more intense. Either way, it will leave you wanting for more. Not in a shounen anime sort of way but more like a good book you just can’t put down.
Everything pertaining to the light novel appears as anime gold and everything pertaining to animation production (sans the seiyuu cast) seems to have slipped considerably. Do not let the downgrade fool you though, this is till a very solid iteration to Spice and Wolf.
As a side note: you will love Training With Horo (S&W2 special #2)
1: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
English: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Japanese: 鋼の錬金術師 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST
MAL Score: 9.16
After a horrific alchemy experiment goes wrong in the Elric household, brothers Edward and Alphonse are left in a catastrophic new reality. Ignoring the alchemical principle banning human transmutation, the boys attempted to bring their recently deceased mother back to life. Instead, they suffered brutal personal loss: Alphonse’s body disintegrated while Edward lost a leg and then sacrificed an arm to keep Alphonse’s soul in the physical realm by binding it to a hulking suit of armor.
The brothers are rescued by their neighbor Pinako Rockbell and her granddaughter Winry. Known as a bio-mechanical engineering prodigy, Winry creates prosthetic limbs for Edward by utilizing “automail,” a tough, versatile metal used in robots and combat armor. After years of training, the Elric brothers set off on a quest to restore their bodies by locating the Philosopher’s Stone—a powerful gem that allows an alchemist to defy the traditional laws of Equivalent Exchange.
As Edward becomes an infamous alchemist and gains the nickname “Fullmetal,” the boys’ journey embroils them in a growing conspiracy that threatens the fate of the world.
I admit that as I’ve seen the original and read the manga, the pacing of Brotherhood seems to start off being VERY fast (I finally got used to the pacing after watching the first fifteen eps or so). Events that took up half a volume of the manga and had spread though a few episodes of the original anime were now shown in just a single episode. However, after trying to look at it from the perspective of someone who’s new to FMA (not comparing it to the manga nor the original), I believe that the pacing works and it manages to tell an intriguing story effectively with little confusion. The plot is full of clever ideas and unpredictable twists that link various parts of the story together. By the final episode, all loose ends are neatly tied up and what’s left is a hugely satisfying epilogue.
The animation in FMA Brotherhood is crisp and very well done (although it does sometimes dip a bit in quality). Compared to the original FMA it’s a bit simpler but that’s just because the original set a very high standard to follow. The facial emotions of the characters are also perfectly presented. The action scenes are brilliant and VERY well animated, with a variety of alchemy techniques and other talents being displayed nearly every episode. The various battles are consistently exciting to watch, but somehow get even better towards the end of the series.
The voice acting is of an excellent and consistent quality, and I think that pretty much all the characters have voice actors which suit their personalities. The majority of the openings/endings are a pleasure to watch due to fantastic animated sequences and theme songs. The background music which play during the episodes usually fit very well with the situation, although some tracks seem to be overused a little at first. This becomes less of a problem as the series progresses, with plenty of new music being introduced to support the story as it reaches the finale.
Moving on to the characters (best thing about this series), the original FMA focussed mainly on Ed and Al and on their struggles to regain their bodies, whereas Brotherhood also explores other characters to great detail at the same time. The majority of the spotlight is still on the two brothers, but it highlights their interactions with new characters which were not present in the original anime. New characters include a group of people from Xing (a neighbouring country), another person from the Armstrong family (who I think has become one of the coolest members of the supporting cast), and a new main antagonist. For me, the Xingese characters in particular (Ling Yao and Mei Chang among others) provide a new dimension to the FMA world, by showing us a different culture to the militaristic one we’re familiar with. I think the new antagonist is an improvement on the original FMA, as this person has a much stronger and clever link to the Elric brothers’ father. Returning characters from the original FMA, such as Mustang and Scar, are much more awesome and developed due to the fact that Brotherhood is 100% faithful to the manga. Plus, Winry Rockbell now has a much more active role in the story. I can say for sure that this anime has one of the best main/supporting casts I’ve ever seen, and you’d probably find it difficult to label any of the recurring characters (whether they are good or evil) as being either boring or unnecessary in terms of the storyline.
One of the many good things about this series is that there has been absolutely no filler at all (yes, I’m thinking of Naruto, Inuyasha, etc), which prevents the story from losing momentum. All the episodes are concise and every scene is important as part of the huge plot. The dialogue fully explains everything and is straight to the point. As multiple characters are explored there are lots of side stories, but these are all perfectly intertwined with the main story of the Elric brothers and more often than not directly influence their journey too. Like most anime series, there are things from the manga which have been left out, but these are usually just restricted to comedy moments. There has been one episode which shows a lot of flashbacks of events so far, but that’s forgiven as it shows the most epic moments of the series, and also provided us with some history on the father of the Elric brothers.
FMA Brotherhood will be sorely missed now that it’s finished. It is excellent in every aspect and has very little, if anything, that can be called a flaw (maybe rushed character development at first due to the fast pacing, but this quickly subsides). Each episode feels like it’s too short, a testimony to how much it draws you in to the story and characters. There are moments which leave you smiling, laughing, sad and simply amazed. Try this anime, it’s recommended for absolutely everyone, to newcomers and to those familiar with Fullmetal Alchemist.
I’m not a huge fan of the MAL categorical rating system, as I’ve mentioned in some of my previous reviews. I oftentimes outright ignore it. However, looking at the categories right now, I feel as though this is one instance where I can use it to talk about everything I want to so I’m going to use it.
The FMA:B plot and world-building are some of its strongest aspects. The world that it creates is an immersive, full-feeling thing with many animate pieces that move even when you aren’t looking at them. It’s an extremely creative world as well, adopting its own set of universal laws including alchemy through equivalent exchange, mind-body duality and its own interpretation of a higher power, and it sticks by these laws. Never once does the story contradict its own rules, instead using them in creative ways to build off of each other. The plot is also one of the most engaging parts of the show, unveiling itself at just the right pace to keep you interested whilst still keeping a few major cards to play at the very end. The pieces fall into place in a way that is satisfying because it simultaneously mind-blowing and obvious, and that’s one of the marks of strong storytelling.
While the FMA:B story is certainly one of the best I’ve seen, I find that I have to withhold my 10 score here on the grounds that its incredible direction and creativity are marred by some detrimental weaknesses. First of all, the exposition is handled extremely poorly. The first and third episodes feel like they’re from some shitty cartoon network show, the show blatantly ignores the show-don’t-tell rule in the entirety of its first chunk (with characters spelling out exactly what is happening and why it’s happening) and its tendency to repeat important plot points over and over again quite frankly feels insulting to me as the audience as though the show is assuming I’m not able to pay attention or figure things out for myself and need to have the fact that Ed and Al committed the sin of human transmutation and lost their bodies told to me at least twenty-five times in the first two hours of show. Secondly, there’s a period of time which I would probably refer to as the third fourth of the show (episodes 40-53ish) in which the show drags incredibly, adopting a typical battle-shonen approach of having characters engage in multiple-episode long one-on-one or two-on-one battles, giving them plenty of time to pose and stand off and monologue at each other. This isn’t how fighting or war works, and these contrived battles really take away a lot of the climactic atmosphere. Finally, the show’s ending is not nearly as satisfying as I wish it had been. The final few episodes are for the most part brilliant, but once the show plays all its cards and it’s resolution time, it wraps itself up with cliches and in-your-face themes.
The art is absolutely astounding 80% of the time and absolutely horrid 20% of the time. Thus the 8 score. The action is all stunning, the openings gorgeous, the backgrounds consistent and unique, building a sense of a real lived-in world. The character designs are sometimes a little bland, but for the most part they are memorable and the homunculi look brilliant so I don’t have any real complaints there.
What I have a problem with is the obnoxious number of times that the show goes “anime” – reducing its characters to shittily-drawn caricatures and its animation to blocky, looped motion. Usually this is used during the shows attempts at humor, which I’ll talk about later, but most of the time it was just extremely cringe-inducing and distracting, ruining the sense of continuity and immersion in this world. The show obviously wants you to take it seriously (it sure loves its drama) and when Al is portrayed as a big grey mound with a squiggle for a mouth it makes this difficult. There’s a difference between having your character goof around and having the show itself goof around. It almost feels like a laugh-track, telling the audience “this is the funny part!”
For the most part, however, the art is gorgeous. When it counts, it shines, and that’s really what matters.
Undeniably the strongest aspect of the show. I have no complaints whatsoever. The soundtrack is never distracting but always effective, the voice-actors (especially for Bradley and Al) absolutely nailed it and the openings and endings… dear lord. It’s been said before, but the openings and endings to FMA:B are some of the very best ever made, both in sound and visuals. They tell small stories of their own. They set the tone for the episode and for their section of the show as a whole. I especially loved ‘Golden Time Lover’ and ‘Chemistry’, but I have to give special mention to SID’s ‘Rain’. As far as I’m concerned, that opening could have been the end of the show. It single-handedly established a sense of finality, a long-endured struggle of these characters and their causes. Everyone is portrayed as exhausted, weak and full of both despair and determination: protagonist and antagonist alike, fighting under the rain. Not for glory, not for honor, but just for the one thing they care most for. Personally, it made me extremely hyped for the final stretch of the show. It wasn’t quite what we got, but at least we got some of it.
I believe that there is an intense connection between a show’s opening and the audience’s willingness to appreciate it. It is very likely that the intensity of many fanbases is in part due to the ability that openings such as these have to maintain feelings in regards to the show, oftentimes perhaps even distorting or altering memories of the show itself into what the opening would have you believe the show was like rather than what it was actually like. Obvious examples that jump to mind are Sword Art Online’s “Courage” and Guilty Crown’s “My Dearest”. Remember how those shows were absolutely nothing like that? No?? IT’S TOO LATE FOR YOU
But I digress.
I would definitely call out the show’s characters on being the weakest link and the most undeserving of the praise that the show receives. For starters, the writing is often clunky and awkward, but that’s not the main issue. It’s because most of them are not really characters: they’re plot devices with one or two distinguishing traits tacked on. They’re entirely predictable, not because they feel like real people but because they do the same things over and over again. Al talks about what he’ll do when he gets his body back. Ed talks about how they’ll find a way and how they will atone for their mistakes and etc. It’s not that it’s melodrama: it’s the fact that it’s the SAME melodrama over and over again. It wasn’t until sometime past episode 30 that Ed stopped sounding perpetually like a broken record and started to feel as though he were actually developing, but even then he was really just defined by his arc and not by any amount of complexity.
And that’s the pitfall that so many of these characters fall into. If your character’s only real traits beyond their development for the sake of the show are “hates being called short” and “hates milk” they’re really more of a tool with some googly eyes stuck on to them. Other characters are even worse: Armstrong is manly. His sister is more manly. Mustang wants to be Fuhrer and avenge Hughes (he’s even got this great relationship with Hawkeye that could have been seriously compelling if they ever had any real conversations about anything besides “we must overthrow the government” and “Hughes!” over and over again). Winry likes Ed and automail. Ling wants to be emperor. Now, FMA:B is a complex, busy show. I could understand if it didn’t have the time to make these characters anything more than chess pieces for its grand and elaborate plot, giving them a few distinguishing traits because that’s really all it can manage without dragging itself out immensely. But it DOES have the time: it has all the time it spends having Ed yell about being called short. It has all the time it spends having Armstrong pull of his shirt and yell about being manly. It has all the time it spends having Ed and Al talk about getting their goddamn bodies back over and fucking over again as though I would somehow manage to forget it. Ling passing out from lack of food. May fawning comically over Ed. Mustang is antisocial LOL. The same gags, over and over again, barely even rehashed in any original way. Not only do they become painful to watch, they devour all of the development that this shallow cast of characters could have had to make me actually invested in them. They’re far too static, with most of them having a single change or revelation over the course of the show’s 64 episodes in order to indicate that they have grown as a person. But a good character has so much more than that: what kind of music do these people listen to? Why? Who are their role models? Why? What books do they like? What are their favorite places to eat? What do they appreciate in the people they’re close to?? What are their personal histories…
Oh wait, sorry! I didn’t mean to ask that last one! Please, I take it back! NOOOOOOO…
Yeah so I forgot to mention something. Screw all that stuff about making these characters possess complex personalities, FMA:B has a better way to define them.
Everyone who’s remotely relevant has a traumatic backstory. It’s a harsh world, sure. I get that. Here’s the issue: people are introduced and then defined through their trauma. Now this isn’t Angel Beats bad, where horrible things happen to perfectly innocent people for no reason. Most of the tragedy is partially a result of the decisions of the characters involved, and their resulting struggle is a combination of having to cope with the consequences and with themselves and their mistakes. However, this cannot be used as a SUBSTITUTE for character development. A supplement, sure, but I still remember in episode four when Ed and Al meet a state alchemist who literally introduces himself with something along the lines of “my wife left me because we were too poor” before he even tells them his goddamn NAME. Here, come on in! Take a seat! Would you like some sorrow pie or tragic backstory cake? We have plenty! Ed and Al’s dad left, then their mom died, then they f*cking ripped their bodies apart. Winry’s parents were murdered in cold blood. Mustang had to kill lots of people. Armstrong had to kill lots of people. Everyone had to kill lots of people. Scar watched everyone he loved get killed, and then had to kill lots of people. These are always the first things we find out about people, and then for the rest of the show they are defined almost exclusively by them. If anyone is overly happy and wholesome, it means something horrid is going to happen to them. It’s basic emotional manipulation. Look at this adorable little girl and her dog! Dead. Look at this smiling, picturesque family! Husband dead. Dead. Everyone innocuously happy has to die or lose someone close to them. The more broken and internally conflicted you are, the safer you are. There’s no need to pile more grief on Scar, so he’s relatively safe.
Yes, the characters suffer from repeatable and preventable problems. They exist mainly to function as morals-in-a-bottle with gags tacked on to them. They’re difficult to relate to, because all we know about them is whatever themes they embody and one or two dumb jokes. Ikuhara writes characters more personable than this, and his stories don’t make sense on PURPOSE. I did give the characters a 6 though, and there are reasons for that.
First off, despite their lack of humanization the characters complete their tasks of being walking themes with relative effectiveness. This isn’t anywhere near Log Horizon S1 bad. These characters are here for a reason, they represent something, and they represent those things well. Sure, they could have easily been better, but they fulfill their purpose and for that alone they are not failures. I will also give special mention to Scar, who, while still actively defined by his trauma was executed far more impressively than the other characters. This is probably in part because the show actually viewed him as morally ambiguous as opposed to just making the character FEEL morally ambiguous when there was really no doubt that the show wanted you to think this was a ‘good guy’ (*cough* Mustang)
Second off, there are some exceptions to the rule. Most of my complaints thusfar have been leveled at the shows protagonists. They are the ones that suffer from dismal repetition and blatant violation of show-don’t-tell. Where the show does excel is with its antagonists. There are seven homunculi in the show, incarnations of the seven deadly sins, and they so utterly clobber their “good-guy” counterparts in terms of being engaging, personable subtle characters that it isn’t even funny. Their intensive backstories are never shoved in your face, their apparent contradictions are given plenty of time to be uncovered by the viewer, and the deliciously ironic conclusions to their arcs are done tactfully. Many times I found myself actively routing for them because they were just so much more interesting and well-executed. I would happily watch an “Adventures of the Homunculus” spinoff cataloging the several hundred years most of them lived before the start of the series.
I was constantly gripped by the plot. I actively looked forward to the openings and endings. The art was oftentimes orgasmic. The homunculi made me want to start looking for ingredients to make a philosopher’s stone with. However, I was constantly frustrated by the show’s apparent lack of respect for its viewers and by its absolutely abysmal humor. I’ve already said it, but I don’t know if I’ve driven home just how infuriating it is to have exposition repeated to you over and f*cking over again and how cringe-inducing it is when somebody violates the show-don’t-tell rule at extremely tense and crucial moments. It actively snapped me out of the experience whenever Ed and Al had a conversation about getting their bodies back after the 5th time it happened, and when God literally spelled out for Ed that he had discovered the meaning of life I facepalmed hard. That’s not how you do themes, man. That just comes off as preachy. That’s something the show suffered constantly from: it felt incredibly preachy. It’s character’s speeches about the answers they had found to their struggles felt much more pointed at the audience than at anyone in the show they were talking to, and that bothered the ever-loving crap out of me. And have I mentioned the humor? For every joke the show has that lands, it tries about five others that fall on their face. As I’ve already mentioned, they’re repetitive and used as a substitute for meaningful character interactions and development. It seems as thought the show is trying to use them as a counterbalance for its immense amount of melodrama, but instead they end up just ripping apart the tone and stagnating the story. Despite these gripes, I did overall enjoy the experience and felt that the positives did inevitably outweigh the negatives so I will happily give it a 7 for enjoyment.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not a masterpiece. It’s a very respectable, unique, inspired and creative show and it’s definitely a classic. I would happily recommend this to most people. However, don’t go in with irrational expectations. It’s enjoyable, it’s engaging, it will definitely give you plenty to think about, but in my personal opinion it gets a little too much praise and a little too much hype. I probably would have enjoyed it more myself if I hadn’t heard nothing but angelic worship for it before going into it. I formally apologize to any huge fans of the show that I may have offended: it’s not by any means a bad show! I don’t give out 7s all that lightly, believe me. This is merely an argument against FMA:B being the be-all-end-all of anime. Thanks for reading if you made it through that wall of text, and have a nice day!
One of the issues at hand seems to be ownership as producers, writers and directors all seem to want the work to be reflective of their style and perception, and in order to stamp their mark on a show they will makes numerous unnecessary changes or additions. Admittedly there are times when the adaptation supersedes the original work, but more often than not the result is at best a decent anime, and at worst utter twaddle.
And then there’s the other side of the coin, where the anime adaptation sticks to the storyline set out in the original work. Normally one would expect these to be superior works, but in a strange irony this is not always the case. The problem with these types of adaptations is that the original work may not have been very good, or even have a suitable narrative, to begin with, and turning them into anime only seems to exacerbate their inherent flaws.
Fortunately, the Full Metal Alchemist franchise manages to steer clear almost all of these pitfalls. The problem is, there are no other anime that have so evenly split the viewing public’s opinion between the two versions of the series. Unlike the 2003 adaptation, Brotherhood is a faithful representation of Arakawa Hiromu’s hit manga, and while many fans of the franchise laud it as the best thing since sliced bread, there are a number who consider the original anime version to be the superior tale.
But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Many people will already be familiar with the particulars of the story, and in a very real sense the common perception is well formed. Unfortunately, one of the problems with liking something too much is that one becomes blinded to its flaws, and while Brotherhood has very few noticeable ones where the narrative is concerned, this also serves to make them stand out.
The story is told in a very straight forward, no nonsense manner that is kind of refreshing given the penchant for filler episodes. The issue though, is that the content of the tale is much lighter in tone, much more typically “shounen” in its essence, than that of the first adaptation. One of the reasons for this is because the undercurrent of obsession amongst the main characters peters out towards the end of the story – a stark contrast to the ending in the first adaptation. Instead, these obsessive behaviours are effectively “de-humanised” by pushing them on to the non human characters.
There is a very clear sense that the plot is geared towards a more typical shounen standpoint and mentality, and while the whole still works very well as a story, one does have to wonder if the writers for the first adaptation didn’t steal a march on Arakawa. It’s possible that she had to change her idea of how the tale should develop because the first anime version took a much darker path than most other shounen franchises.
That said, the ending allows for a degree of catharsis that was missing from the first adaptation, and although there are some broad similarities between the two versions at times, in truth they are as different as chalk and cheese. As an added bonus this series is far less dependent on random comedic moments, and the difference this makes to the flow of the plot is palpable when the two versions are directly compared.
One big advantage that Brotherhood has is that the seven year gap has allowed for improvements in various aspects of production, and it shows in a number of areas. The animation is more fluid than before, although admittedly the difference isn’t really obvious at first and only really appears during large scale action set pieces. The character designs will be very familiar to any fan, but are subtly sharper and more defined than in the previous series.
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest plus points for Brotherhood is actually its wealth of interesting characters.
As one would expect, a number of the characters from the first adaptation appear in Brotherhood, but there are also several who are notable for their absence as they do no appear in the manga. Instead, a horde of new characters appear throughout the course of the series, many of whom have their own goals, ideals and personalities. Indeed the biggest difference between the two versions is the sheer number of people who all seem to have some impact on the story.
For much of the series Edward and Alphonse Elric behave in a manner that many who have watched the first adaptation will find familiar, and one of the nice things about this is that familiarity is used to very subtly develop the pair into very different characters. The change in their personas happens very gradually, but by the end of Brotherhood one can see just how much growth the pair has undergone.
Strangely enough, the most interesting additions to the series are actually Yao Ling and Olivier Mira Armstrong (Alex Louis Armstrong’s older sister – but without all the muscle flexing), two of the supporting roles. Yao Ling presents a strange dichotomy for the series to tackle, and while he doesn’t develop as much as he possibly could have, this is offset by the moral and ethical dilemmas inherent in his situation towards the end of the series. On the other Olivier Armstrong possesses some of the strongest characterisation in the whole story, and while she is without doubt a major player at certain points of the show, what makes her interesting is the fact that the viewer is never quite sure of her goals.
There are a number of very strong characterisations in the series, but one of the things that is a little strange is the difference between the two versions where the homunculi are concerned. Unlike the first adaptation the homunculi in Brotherhood have very different origins, even though they still deal with similar obsessions. This raises an interesting perspective on the series as a whole, and is one of the reasons why Brotherhood is far more of a shounen tale than the original adaptation. The plot takes on a subtly lighter tone, even though it may not seem that way, once their origins are understood, and the main reason for this is the “de-humanisation” I mentioned earlier. The viewer is aware that these characters, though human-like in form, are not linked to humans in any way, and this awareness acts as a buffer so the viewer is less likely to question the actions and behaviour of the homunculi. In essence one is subjected to the ethos that monsters are evil and do bad things, which raises some interesting issues where Kimblee, Greed and the military’s generals are concerned.
The quality of the acting is possibly the main reason why Brotherhood is able to pull off its feat of developing not only the familiar characters, but also the new additions. Paku Romi and Kugimiya Rie reprise their roles as Edward and Alphonse Elric, but with the exception of a few roles, the remaining cast are very different from the first outing. Now normally one might consider this a recipe for disaster, but it’s a testament to the quality of not only the actor’s abilities, but also the scriptwriters, that this series easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the original.
The music is very well composed and produced, and the series has a surprisingly large number of opening and ending themes, especially for 64 episode series. That said, fans of Brotherhood may find themselves in a bit of a quandary, especially if they prefer the OPs and EDs from the first series. As for the sound effects, they are handled in a decidedly competent manner that makes one wonder why other shounen anime seem to have trouble in this department. Granted there are occasions when there’s a bit of a cacophony, but in general the effects are clear, bold, and well choreographed.
Now unlike most viewers, I actually consider Brotherhood to be equal to the first series, and I don’t really fall on one side or another. Like a number of fans my preference is for the much darker tone of the first series, however the cathartic ending of Brotherhood, as well as the improvements in production and animation, go some way to balancing the scales. Some people prefer the somewhat darker nature to Ed’s character from the first adaptation, but in all honesty the rationale behind the two versions is very different, and while they’re broadly the same character, that perception is only really valid until the last few episodes of either show. The same principle applies to Alphonse, Roy Mustang, in fact to most of the characters.
That said, Brotherhood is just as entertaining and involving as its predecessor, and it’s a testament to Arakawa’s skill as a mangaka that she has been able to produce a tale that, at the very least, rivals the original anime adaptation.Yes, Brotherhood is more typically shounen than the other version, but the nice thing about this is that fans are given two very good versions of the same story, and that is something rare in anime.
Now if only all remakes, revisions or reboots could be this good.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
2. Ookami to Koushinryou II
3. InuYasha: Kanketsu-hen
4. Michiko to Hatchin
5. Kyou kara Maou! 3rd Series
6. Dragon Ball Kai
7. Pandora Hearts
9. Fairy Tail
10. Golgo 13 (TV)