They’re the best Anime that 1997 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Saber Marionette J, Pokemon, Kidou Senkan Nadesico, and more!
10: Saber Marionette J
English: Saber Marionette J
MAL Score: 7.34
In the distant future, since the Earth has become overpopulated, efforts to find and colonize on other planets have begun. However, one of the ships, the “Mesopotamia” malfunctions and all but 6 of its inhabitants are all killed. the remaining 6 manage to escape to a nearby planet named “Terra ll “, which is similar to Earth in many respects. However, all of them are male. Therefore, as to not let their efforts go to waste, they begin to set up 6 countries and to reproduce through cloning and genetic engineering. however, there are still no women, and to make up for it they create lifelike advanced female androids called “Marionettes” which do everyday chores and work. However, they are all emotionless machines. But one day, a ordinary boy named Otaru finds and awakens 3 special battle type Marionettes that have emotions due to a “Maiden Circuit” within them. It’s up to him then to teach them and allow their emotions to grow, and when a nearby country threatens with world domination, it’s up to to Otaru and his “human” Marionettes to protect their country.
The story revolves around Otaru Mamiya and his three Marionettes named Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry, but they are not just an ordinary ordinary marionettes, they have a system called “Maiden Circuit” that act like the source of their emotion thats why they can laugh and cry. A futuristic setting in a planet named Terra – II in the country of Japones where there are no female and all male are born from cloning. Female was replaced by Female machine called Marionettes. Thus begin their wacky adventure under one roof. The gags are old but still funny specially when the punchline is hanagata. The story is not always about humor, there is drama also, its the main point of the story on how the three marionette grows emotionally thru happiness and hardship. The anime’s story is slow pace but not boring so you will have time to enjoy how the it will develop.
Meet Otaru a normal boy who live a normal life, kind and hard working . One day he accidentally activated a Marionette named Lime. Lime a marionette with a cute and childish personality, always eat and play around and loves Otaru a lot. She’s my favorite marionette because whenever she’s around the surrounding become cheerful. Next is Cherry the second marionette Otaru awakened. She always give a maiden aura, in cuteness i think its in par with Lime. She loves to cook and more importantly loves to daydream about his master Otaru.The third was Bloodberry, she’s a how should i say it… a muscle woman? Well she’s not as cute as the first two but she emits an older woman aura, she has the biggest breast among the three and loves to seduce Otaru. For side character, let see, hmm… Hanagata hes a loser so lets forgot about him (Hanagata: What did you just say?) just joking, he always introduce himself as Otaru’s bestfriend, a pesky character who appears anywhere near Otaru.
Otaru, his design is quite simple, passable for a normal character.For the character design of the three marionettes, Lime, since she loves to move around designing loose costume fits nicely with her character. Cherry, she’s loves doing housework so the cutely designed pink kimono si looks good in her. Bloodberry with the blood on her red suits her best, well only her hair is red, she got the most daring design because of her nicely proportioned body and big-sister like character.
The Opening song is good, you will like it the more you listened to it. Same goes for the Ending song, with a great visualization it will make you listened to the song as well. For The Seiyuu’s, I really like the japanese voice for Lime, Megumi Hayashibara. It match perfectly with Limes personality, cute and playful. I dont like the english dub, it gives a kind of feeling that its not Lime-like. Same goes with Cherry, i like her polite voice. When u talk about Bloodberry, that means Power, power in the voice but with a sweetness of an older women and the seiyuu deliver it nicely.
After many years of not seeing this anime (10 years +) it give me a nostalgic feeling and with that i enjoy it a lot. I laughed in the funny scenes and got teary in those touching moment. I couldn’t ask for more… 😀
if u read some weird grammar, its my bad haha, ore ningen da mono~
The premise of the series is that sometime in the future, a group of 6 explorers made an emergency crash onto the Planet of Terra. There was the inconvenient problem that they landed without any females. Rather than wither off on this distant planet, the six decided to make clones of themselves, and thus repopulated the planet, but without females. The compensation for the lack of females is the development of female-appearing robots called marionettes, who can function like a human, but can’t experience feelings of their own, except, that is, for a few special marionettes whom our intrepid protagonist discovers, leading to ever more grand adventures until the fate of the planet is at stake.
A few complaints with this show are that it has a very obvious plot, most of the jokes aren’t funny, an irritating worm put in for comic relief really degrades this series, and a lot of the story is patronizing. I think this series is made especially for kids. The OP & ED are quite catchy, the animation is bad by today’s standards, and the characters are a bit flat. It’s still good clean fun though, worth watching with popcorn and friends.
It came to be this way because of an accident on a colonization ship that left six men alive on the surface, and they use genetics to populate the planet of Terra II. The direct clones of the six survivors rule the six nations that exist on the planet, Otaru being from Japoness which looks like feudal Japan.
Otaru tries to grow the personality of the three Marionettes throughout the series while having to deal with Gartland’s (Germany during World War II) ruler Faust and his own set of three Marionettes. The story is alright if you don’t have a problem with small details that could be considered giant plot holes with a lot of thought.
The art is dated even for a show from 12 years ago. The marionettes look vibrant, but completely out of place. The backgrounds of the other nations seemed to have been picked because they are easier to depict. Action scenes look merely average. It’s not horrific, but it would be hard to call it good.
Characters are a much stronger point. Otaru is not your typical male harem lead. The marionettes show diversity in character as the series progress from one-dimensional to something more.
Overall, Saber Marionette J is a solid, if not spectacular, series. It sets the table well for the OVA and second series that followed, though a conclusion could have been provided in this series if they really would have wanted it.
MAL Score: 7.35
Pokemon are peculiar creatures with a vast array of different abilities and appearances; many people, known as Pokemon trainers, capture and train them, often with the intent of battling others. Young Satoshi has not only dreamed of becoming a Pokemon trainer but also a “Pokemon Master,” and on the arrival of his 10th birthday, he finally has a chance to make that dream a reality. Unfortunately for him, all three Pokemon available to beginning trainers have already been claimed and only Pikachu, a rebellious Electric type Pokemon, remains. However, this chance encounter would mark the start of a lifelong friendship and an epic adventure!
Setting off on a journey to become the very best, Satoshi and Pikachu travel across beautiful, sprawling regions with their friends Kasumi, a Water type trainer, and Takeshi, a Rock type trainer. But danger lurks around every corner. The infamous Team Rocket is always nearby, seeking to steal powerful Pokemon through nefarious schemes. It’ll be up to Satoshi and his friends to thwart their efforts as he also strives to earn the eight Pokemon Gym Badges he’ll need to challenge the Pokemon League, and eventually claim the title of Pokemon Master.
Pokemon works with a re-use formula, the story is long, it is repetitive, it doesn’t progress in any way because development doesn’t really happen.
Art and sound is mediocre as it is a mass-produced anime. Production costs would have been sky-high if they spent any more money on it, and it shows.
The characters are pretty two-dimensional. They aren’t deep, you don’t go into their heads, and they’re all about 11-15 years old but all act the same.
But why do I love this anime so much?? I was obsessed with it as a child, and it still has a warm place in my heart. I think it’s a perfect anime for children because it teaches them some good lessons: try to be the best, do the right thing, and your friends and family are the most important people in your life.
Only unfabulously mean people hate on Pokemon. You know they all watched it and liked it as a child, but my, how uppity we have all become. If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to go back to when anime was about adventure and friendship and silliness, then Pokemon is for you. It’s also a harmless, fun anime for your kids, too. So I totally recommend it. Fabulous, it is.
It starts out with a tiny step, like most other journeys. Our hero, Ash Ketchum, has high dreams of becoming the ultimate Pokemon trainer (I’ll refrain from explaining that to you), and he starts out by sleeping in too late! before logn however, he’s gotten his first (reluctant) Pokemon, everyone’s favorite mouse Pikachu, and they’re off on their epic journey!
The shows brings out an epic adventure of friendship, harsh battles and whatnot; everything you’d expect from a shonen that’s aimed at the younger kids. It isn’t that great however, as it gets very repetitive after a while; a Pokemon/person of the day formula with some kind of problem that always ends well. And that’s what most of the episodes contain, with a small bit of getting further on their journey every now and then.
Animation-wise, the show doesn’t feature anything boastable, with flat character designs, okay backgrounds and no spectacular special effects at all. Was it because of budget restrictions (it is a pretty long anime, after all), or was it because the producers knew the kids they were aiming the show at didn’t care anyway? Well, whatever it was, the animation isn’t anything to brag about.
The soundtrack is what you’d expect of such a show; adventurous opening themes, background music that’s supposed to get you into the fighting/comedic mood, and a variety of sound effects to use for all the moves and whatnot you’ll see. The voice acting is decent, but honestly – my unability to cope with dubs in anime pretty much wins over my nostalgia here, and that is the main reason I stopped watching the show some time ago.
The characters are, well, what you’d expect from a shonen. The rash, headstrong main character and his oh-so-arrogant rival, and the people he travels with; the older, more reasonable (mostly) fellow, and of course, the tomboyish girl with whome he argues a lot. Yup, that’s shonen for ya. The main comedic relief of the series, the Team Rocket trio, is actually a pretty entertaining one. Despite constantly neglecting to look over their mistakes and realise that every one of their contraptions fail against Ash and company, they keep on trying, knowing thinking that their boss will reward them greatly of they bring him the Pikachu. I like their stupid enthusiasm a lot, and their scenes are often among amogn the better ones in the series.
So… Pokemon is basically a cliche-ridden shonen with no real thing to make it stand out. Wait… that can’t be right? What about all the kids that love it? And what of all the others that love it? One of the things, I believe, is the adventurous feel of the series; who wouldn’t want to experience such an epic adventure for themselves? (I know I want to, at least!) Not to mention, the great values of friendship, loyalty and trust which are presented to the viewers. That is one thing that makes Pokemon so great, and I’d try to get any kid into the show becasue of that reason alone. And that’s what there is to say about Pokemon, actually.
The animation was great for its time, and the songs were very addictive. It was obvious that everybody that saw the show enjoyed it very much, myself included. And to this day, over 10 years after the debut of Pokemon, they are still able to sell merchandise.
But what created the downfall of the series was that it never ended! The show could’ve easily ended at the end of episode 84, with the end of the Pokemon League. They could’ve said “Since that day, Ash trained hard to be a master.” and then show him as a master. But no, the episodes just keep coming and coming. Johto was cool because of showing new pokemon, but when they repeated the trend of “new pokemon lolz” it got old really quick. And not mention that Ash never matured. He had a birthday one episode and in the 3rd movie he exclaimed that he and Pikachu have been together for a year. But at the start of Diamond and Pearl Ash was mentioned to be 10 years old again. Inconsistency is bad if you want to keep your audience.
It still find myself rewatching the first few seasons of Pokemon and hugging my pikachu pillow. But the new episodes these days just don’t have the same atmosphere as the old show and it is hard to watch it without booing the lack-luster effort that gets put into each episode. But Pokemon will always have an unforgettable place in my heart and (ignoring anything past the Johto season) for that I give it an 8/10.
8: Kidou Senkan Nadesico
English: Martian Successor Nadesico
MAL Score: 7.51
Akito doesn’t want to fight. Despite a childhood spent on the anime Gekiganger 3, a Mecha show, he’d rather cook than pilot a Mecha. Fate intervenes when his home on Mars is destroyed, and he is transported instantly to the Earth, mysteriously. He has questions no one can answer fully, but follows a girl from a chance meeting in hopes to discover any. The girl, Yurika, is captain of the private battleship Nadesico, and in order to follow her, he enlists as their cook. Possessing the nanite implants that allow to control mechas, he’s a handy backup pilot for the mechas of the Nadesico. He joins a crew bent on avenging Mars that seems to be composed of only misfits, otakus, and ditzes; however, in reality, they are handpicked experts. They take their own private war back to Mars to face the harsh reality that life may not always be like a Giant Mecha series.
Nadesico is a love letter to the space/mecha genre, both laughing at it and along with it with the same level of panache as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
It parodies the genre with clichés, and honours it by keeping to them itself. For example, Nadesico lampoons over the top sacrifices via its in-show 70’s/80’s inspired mecha anime ‘Gekigangar 3’ then does the same thing itself anyway, revelling in the genre trope. It has a young adult unwillingly thrust into a mecha on an almost daily basis, yet his mecha is pink for crying out loud.
It’s actually a smart comedy because beyond the love for the mecha genre they’re playing with, the writers are self-aware enough to acknowledge the details that a serious story would tackle, such as the (contractual) consequences of a corporation funding a military ship, funerals for the deceased, the effects of anime on viewers, and the different cultures of Earth, but never stopping the laughs along the way. They even justify the sillier stuff in the show such as having such an airhead for a captain, by again satirising corporate tendencies. (the concept of tailor-made captains because of technology handling the rest of the ship)
The backbone of this show, the factor that keeps it from descending into meaningless skit show histrionics is the attention to detail, on both a narrative level and thematic level. It has the enthusiasm for sci-fi so much that it goes to lengths to explain many of its technologies using nano-machines, cyber-networking and boson particle manipulation and any number of concepts that any avid reader of hard sci-fi will automatically recognise. Bear in mind this was released in the mid-90s before nano technology had hit the mainstream media as it has today, in the way it’s overridden nearly every mainstream sci-fi story as an explanation for fantastical stuff occurring on screen.
On top of that, the show for the most part avoids one of my own little pet peeves, that of ships in space taking hits from lasers and not blowing up instantly, as if they were back on Earth and only got hit by a few stray bullets. This little annoyance is avoided by the usage of actual force fields bouncing lasers off of the hulls. The animators even show waves in the ocean peeling backwards as the Nadesico hovers above.
It’s this trivial, yet much welcomed, attention to detail that helps elevate the anime above mere comedy. It’s not just about making you laugh, but immersing you in its world with consistency and delivering a genuinely engaging story. Rather than be a gimmick, the Gekigangar anime actually becomes more and more relevant to the main story in interesting ways that are better left unsaid in a review.
The story flows between cliché and creativity every five minutes constantly surprising you. Individuals who in no way belong on a ship are brought together anyway, characters who look like they’ll be in main roles are dispatched speedily, enemy ships get progressively stronger, generic alien bad guys are revealed to be not so faceless or generic after all, a brilliant time-jumping Memento-esque episode that riffs on Evangelion’s psychoanalytical finale in a humorous (yet always honourable) fashion also pops up, it’s just a complete mix.
And every single character on the Nadesico gets some level of development, which is no mean feat considering the comedic nature of the show. Even Nadesico’s successor, TTGL, didn’t develop every character to any kind of level (Leeron for example), so when Nadesico goes out of its way to give a little detail to the past of a random pilot who you figure is only there to give bad puns, well you really appreciate it.
The actual plot of Nadesico when you strip everything else away is actually pretty interesting, which is why the anime works, it’s built on a good foundation. What starts as a generic ‘faceless aliens invading Earth’ story ends with the characters and viewer not wanting a victory for either side at all. The Nadesico ship itself belongs to a corporation, hence justifying the motley crew of misfits and the airhead of a captain. Because their superior technology is mostly automatic the captain was chosen for her looks, tailor-made for the crew’s emotional wellbeing. It’s crazy, it’s cynical, but you just know corporations could be that stupid to do such a thing one day, obsessed as they are with end results and not the methodology to get there.
The mega corporation responsible for the Nadesico ship is also a brilliant way to force conflict and danger upon it, from both Earth’s self-defence forces who don’t like the idea of corporations messing with military matters, and of course the invading aliens who don’t like the Nadesico for its pesky meddling. This is much more interesting than having a generic plotline where a military ship goes ‘rogue’ for the billionth time in a sci-fi tale. (ok, that happens later as well) As the threats to Earth get larger, and more time passes, uneasy alliances are formed, love triangles are formed then imploded, revelations are uncovered, suppressed memories are, well, unsuppressed.
The first three episodes are perfection, throwing you headfirst into its pitch-perfect comedic tones with hilarious stuff involving humour on both a physical and meta level. The voice acting is oldschool 90’s assured goodness. Nadesico has some of the best and funniest ‘Engrish’ I’ve ever heard in anime. The soundtrack is also very decent; nothing too memorable except for the OP music, but the soundtrack isn’t too generic either.
So as stated earlier, Nadesico shares much in common with TTGL for its skill in blending irreverent humour with its homage to a very popular genre of anime, but a key difference between the two is that TTGL is not afraid of leaping outside the box and tossing physics to the side to bring almost-abstract comedic imagery, whereas Nadesico is always weighed down by consistent logic whether in physics or narrative.
This is to say, no matter what crazy stuff happens in Nadesico, unlike in TTGL, there’s always a reason behind it. In TTGL Kamina’s sword can stretch to infinity for no reason other than to make you laugh. In Nadesico, for example, there’s a reason why only certain people can boson jump, it’s not used for convenience’s sake. Nadesico is actually a better homage in that it uses meta-humour with the Gekigangar TV show, not for a gimmick but as part of the actual plot. Nadesico is actually a decent analysis and commentary on anime. The latter half of the show ups the drama and emotion, and pretty much blatantly celebrates the very medium itself with bold proclamations that are infectious.
Nadesico is an essential anime for sci-fi/comedy fans. Observe a young guy with suppressed memories get pushed around the solar system by a blue-haired witless captain of a White Base-ish ship blowing up insect-looking baddies while watching mecha anime in his spare time. The ending is far from cliché, however much it will leave some viewers disgruntled for its unresolved story, the fact is that everything of importance in the narrative actually IS resolved; it’s a cliché-avoiding ending that doesn’t resort to what Gekigangar, the mirror of most mecha anime, does.
It doesn’t force an ending on you with cheap happy shortcuts, Nadesico is better than this, going at its own assured pace always treating story and characters with respect. If you’re the type that just has to have every single plot point wrapped up and a more ‘complete’ ending, then there is the subsequent Animage Grand Prix Award-winning movie Nadesico The Movie awaiting you, though the movie is a separate beast entirely, different in tone from the series.
So there is only one Nadesico folks, one specific combination of humour, drama and space hijinks that hits the right spot each time. “Gekiga In!”
STORY – I guess I will start with the story, the fantastic story. The story is mostly a parody of more modern mecha anime, which just so happens to include a parody of your typical 70s/80s mecha anime. Fans of every genre will find something to like within this series. Fans of harems, romance, action, mecha, comedy, parody, and drama will all find something to like here. It’s simply a jack of all trades among anime. Truly one of the more diverse series. After the halfway mark, the story begins to answer questions found earlier in the series. The story takes a life of its own and is no longer just a simple parody, and several twists take place. Though the comedy fades slightly, I’m willing to bet it will be near impossible for anyone to drop the series at this point as it still retains its delightful addictiveness.
ART – Yes the art is from the mid to late 90s which may cause a problem for some people. It did for me as I’m very much now used to the extravagant art of today’s anime. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just dated. I did notice some problems with Haruka Minato though. For some reason it just seemed like she was differently drawn than the other characters. Once you get by the fact that it’s from the the mid to late 90s, you’ll have no problem enjoying the art. Another thing to point out is how well the 70s/80s stereotypical mecha anime characters are included into a more modern mecha series.
SOUND – The opening theme, “You Get to Burning” is insanely catchy and will probably stick in your head for awhile. The ending theme, “Watashi Rashiku” is equally as good, and will probably follow suit, and stick in your head as well. The bgm is typical science fiction fare. It fits the setting, and none of the music is out of place, which is great, considering the diversity of this series.
CHARACTER – One of the best features of this show. You get great diversity within the cast. The tomboyish girl, the moe girl, the ditz, the justice loving guy, the “afraid to fight” guy, etc…etc. The best part is how wacky the crew is, yet they are all extremely qualified for their positions. You’ll see what I mean when you first see Yurika. The relationships between characters are also really well done. You’ll feel sorry for some, while hating several others. In my opinion that equates to a great series. To fully appreciate the cast, if it weren’t obvious enough, the series must be watched in full. Also, I feel it’s near impossible to not fall in love with Ruri, you’ll see what I mean.
ENJOYMENT – The series is highly addictive and very entertaining. When you’re not laughing, you could be feeling one of many emotions guaranteed while watching this show. It has its dramatic moments, but you’ll be mostly laughing throughout the series. It’s a great anime, and I feel it would be very hard to not appreciate at least a little.
OVERALL – I make it my goal to watch a series that usually places among those considered the best in anime, and though I just finished this series, I have to say it is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was highly addictive and hilarious. It had great characters, and a decent plot. Oh and did I mention it was hilarious? One of the best features is the diversity of genres within Martian Successor Nadesico. There is literally something there for fans of nearly any genre to appreciate (except for horror). I would certainly make it in my best interest to view this series as soon as possible.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to mecha anime, Nadesico doesn’t fail in its quest to poke fun at its ancestry and let you know about it. It’s rather fun to watch the show and point out the parody moments in each episode. It even contains a parody within a parody in the form of Gekigangar 3, a spoof of the mecha anime of the late 70s and 80s. Don’t think that parodies are the only things that will make you laugh. There are many points where the crew takes over and keeps the laughs coming with their daily interactions.
Speaking of which, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the crew of the Nadesico. Each crew member is unique and memorable in his or her own way. The entire spectrum is there: the otaku, the diva, the quiet one, the pervert, etc. It’s almost impossible to not find one character that you can relate to in one form or another. The seiyuu do an equally great job at fleshing out their respective characters. Houkou Kuwashima (InuYasha’s Sango, Azumanga Daioh!’s Kagura) does a wonderful job as Yurika, switching from heartfelt to hyper with ease.
As the series cruises along the half-way mark, the focus changes. The rampant parodies are taken back a bit, and a solid plot emerges. There are several psycho-analytic moments that blatantly poke fun at Evangelion, but I just didn’t find myself laughing as often as before. As everything hit the fan and the end began to come in sight, I was waiting for the epic conclusion that I had planned out in my mind. What I saw was nothing close to my hopes. Rather, Nadesico simply ended.
The ending left me with mixed feelings, and it will most likely be seen as a love it or hate it ending among others. On one side, there are numerous plot holes that are left wide open, and several events are left unexplained. To put it simply, under most circumstances, I would see such an ending as a failure. However, I found it to be fitting finale for such a quirky series. There didn’t need to be a perfect ending. I was able to leave the Nadesico with a smile on my face and a satisfied feeling, and that’s what matters.
Whether you’re a fan of mecha anime or not, I still highly recommend this anime as an enjoyable comedy. Sometimes, you just have to take some time to laugh at yourself, and Nadesico does just that.
7: Taiho Shichau zo (TV)
English: You’re Under Arrest (1996)
Japanese: 逮捕しちゃうぞ (1996)
MAL Score: 7.54
Tokyo Highway Patrolwomen Natsumi and Miyuki get off to a bad start when Miyuki busts Natsumi for reckless moped driving on her way to work. Things get worse when they find out they’re going to be partners!
A continuation of the OVA series, the adventures of Tokyo policewomen Natsumi and Miyuki continue in the You’re Under Arrest TV series. It’s back to Bokuto Precinct, where demented felons and bashful (but hunky) policemen abound, and where the cutest girl in the office… isn’t a girl.
You’re Under Arrest! Its been one anime that I’ve been meaning to watch for years and years and have simply ignored for one reason or another. I knew all about it being the first child of Kosuke Fujishima (who also fathered another of my favorite all time franchises, Ah! My Goddess), and I had heard good things, but I just never ever bothered.
For the past week, I bothered.
Fourty-seven episodes never went by so quick. I was simply blown away at the sheer “goodness” of this series. From amazingly well developed characters to the quirk 90s fusion jazz soundtrack, there wasn’t a single bad thing I could find here. Granted, there were leaps of logic at times, and a few episodes were just way too corny, but none of that really detracted from what proved to be a truly enjoyable series.
Onto the synopsis.
If you’ve never heard of the basic story, then you’re either young or living under a rock. Tsujimoto Natsumi, on her way to her first day at work, is flagged down for violating several traffic laws by a beautiful policewoman named Kobayawa Miyuki. She then discovers that Miyuki is her new patrol partner at the Bokuto Station; Traffic section. The two start out rocky, but develop into one of the most impressive crime fighting duos ever seen.
Sorry Batman & Robin, but you need to step aside.
They unlikely pair are surrounded by a bevy of personalities including a timid mountain man (Nakajima Ken), a happy, gossipy, busybody (Nikaidou, Yoriko), and a stoic enigma of a section chief (Kachou). Throw in a draq queen and an archetype detective and you got yourself a decent supportive cast.
But it doesn’t end there! Through their misadventures, Natsumi and Miyuki constantly encounter one of the most bizzare “superheroes” in anime history. Strike Man, the masked vigilante, while proving to be ultimately harmless, bungles his way through the series as a friendly pseudo-antagonist while providing some hilarious JUSTICE monologues. His deadly mega-ultimate-meteor-fireball-crusher-strike-ball-of-justice is a thing of deadly beauty…though Natsumi has never once failed to hit it out of the proverbial park and send him packing.
Another interesting character is one of the least seen but most explored. Tokairin Shoji makes his first appearance, unannounced and unheralded, late into the series but slowly develops as something very special. For someone like me who has never once touched this franchise, it was incredibly awesome to watch this guy interact with the existing characters, so I won’t spoil anything, but I can guarantee you that his presence “makes” the series.
Of course the cast doesn’t end there, but I got to cut it off at some point right? Shout outs go to the old man/young girl couple, the intense teenage policewoman wanna be, the kindergarten kids, and Beach Volley Ball Man.
Yes, Beach Volley Ball Man.
With all these interesting characters, its easy to think only a few of them matter. That simply isn’t the case. While everyone does have their part to play, their path to that part is well explained and shown. It seemed as though for each character, even the most minor of them, the viewer is given a history and a reason to not only care for them, but also grow attached.
In other words, the characters are the story. Their actions, their relationships with one another, and the blossoming romances and admiration are the selling points, and with as uplifting as they prove to be, I’d be hard pressed not to buy!
Love, Friendship, and ACTION! Simple, heartwarming, and honest. Everything about this series gave off those feelings, and the soundtrack champions those themes.
Now, jazz certainly isn’t the most popular music genres, and even less so is fusion jazz, but considering the setting and date of the series (1996 Japan), the music fits perfectly and adds a little something extra to every scene…smooth when it needs to be and fast paced fusion-action during the more volatile scenarios. The two opening songs were excellent and addictive while the endings did a nice job wrapping things up. As always, music is a matter of personal taste, so perhaps being a fan of jazz AND fusion jazz jades me, but I would think most anyone would agree that this was a decent OST.
Ultimately You’re Under Arrest! was one of the most entertaining anime I have ever seen. I full expect to immerse myself in the franchise as a result, and I have to say, I’d expect the same from anyone else who gives this a try. There is a prequel four episode OVA, but they don’t pack the same punch. If you’re interested in the franchise, THIS is the installment you’ll want to use as your barometer.
I HIGHLY recommend this. It doesn’t matter whether you prefer new school or old school, action or romance, policewomen or goddess…this is something you’ll want to check out for sure.
You’re under arrest is a blast from the 90’s providing everything that I wanted from this kind of show: Characters who steal your heart with their personality and charisma, jazzy ost during each episode and catchy op and ed song that makes you dance, unique animation style used during the 90’s(glittering water animation is one my favorites) and finally a solid story that gives you a nostalgic feeling if you were a kid of the 90’s.
The sound of the car engine running on the highway, the jazzy ost that accompanies it, a monologue filled with substance and depth told into the sunset, a dialogue line that emphasize the characters traits, a one second decision that changes everything during a car chase, this is what You’re under arrest offer to it’s viewers.
You’re under arrest is a show that focuses on the daily life of its characters but also on their job as policemen/policewomen. It aims on the both sides of the coin and it does a great job at doing so, the result is a action packed slice of life with great female characters who steal you’re heart with their personality and charisma, and capable male characters who despite their lazy and funny personality when they’re is no room for mistake they are the ones who you can rely on them.
The characters are what makes this kind of show great! They have their own moments and spotlight during the show were they manage to shine. A single glance to their partner is enough to make both of them understand the next course of action is, one dialogue line filled with substance that changes everything, a flashback used at the right moment, well done collaboration to solve a case, these are the things which You’re under arrest uses for the development of its characters.
You can easily distinguish the characters from their course of action and unique personality traits. We have Miyuki( best grill of course) a mechanical freak who loves to make adjustments on cars and motorcycles but she also has a sweet side and a crush on one of her colleagues, Natsumi who relies on brute force and her competitive spirit to manage everything, Nakajima a professional bike rider who has a crush on one of her female colleagues but he is to shy to confess, the Chief who is always lazy but serious and does his job perfect when it counts, Aoi who is one of the best traps that I have seen, her character and reasons are so well handled that you can relate to why he dresses as a women and finally Fujiko who looks like a hopeless policewomen at first glance who likes to gossip but when you get to know her she is really suited for her job. What I am trying to say is that the characters have depth, substance and solid reasons of choosing these line of career.
As many shows with a length of 50 episodes you will find some so called “filler episodes” that are only for the comic relief or to take a break from the serious episodes. Don’t worry this show has some serious and dark arcs that portray the pride and stake of what means to be a police officer and how the public perceives this institution. You will see sweat on the face of the characters, you will see them putting everything they have at stake to protect their pride and honor as police officers during those arcs so you won’t be disappointed at all.
The music is one of my favorites aspects from this show, the opening song is so catchy that I almost find myself dancing on it, the ending song is so 90’s and has a nostalgic vibe and the jazzy ost during each episode makes me raise the volume higher. While the animation quality is not as great as the one from the ova(you will be amazed how each detail was so well crafted despite it’s 24 years age) the visuals still manage to capture my attention and during the the action scenes the animation is top notch for its time.
I gave this show a 9 because I want others to try it out especially for the slice of life lovers who want something different you will not be disappointed, contrary you will be surprised like I was about how good the sol moments were handled. It’s the magic of Studio Deen that manages each time to create something enjoyable and solid for its audience. Well then thank you for your time and patience reading this and I hope you will have a blast watching this anime!
Story: Simple but profound way to portray human warmth and values (7/10)
A police comedy drama about the two patrol officers Tsujimoto, Natsumi and Kobayakawa, Miyuki and their daily adventures in the traffic department of the Bokutou police station in Tokyo. The little adventures that you might find too fluffy, but the characters are brought into some slightly thrilling situations and the way in which the little everyday disasters are solved is credible and provides a lot of fun on the other hand. One can criticize that a police officer should not show up at work with a hangover and that the overall tone is a little too breezy for a series about policemen, high-speed hunts and natural disasters. There are no shootings, no deaths of any kind. Instead, villains are arrested, people rescued and dates enjoyed. Maybe that’s why I like the show so much, because everything is solved in a human and understandable way.
Characters: cute and well portrayed, therefore sympathetic & interesting (8/10)
The characterization is well done and focuses on how the two very different women become friends and how their partnership helps them to become better at their job. This is also the summary of the OVA. If you asked me for a recommendation, it would be like this, watch the first four episodes (OVA) and if you don’t like it, skip the series.
She is open-minded, funny and has a certain inclination to see everything as a competition that has to be won. She’s the type: female buddy, which sometimes leads to very funny scenes. However, she is friendly and kindhearted, very credible and adorable in her own way, a true friend.
She’s the perfect counterpart, she’s serious, patient and a hell of a mechanic. Call me old-fashioned and typically male, but a woman with whom you can spend a whole day in the garage repairing a motorcycle or a car, and she also has a very good taste in terms of classical cars, drives in private life a Toyota GT 2000, I’m in love 😉
The supporting characters may be stereotypical, but they are well-structured and fulfill their roles. On the other hand, the diversity of different characters keeps the story interesting and remains exciting until the very end.
At first glance, a strict but loyal superior, to whom all others show great respect and trust. He fulfills his role well and the more the series progresses, the more human he appears. His character is gradually revealed, which is done very well.
Fox Oshou (temple priest):
My personal favorite among the secondary character. I don’t want to reveal too much at this point, except that I`m sure if you watch the show (esp. the OVA), you will understand why I think the priest is pretty cool.
I know that he is 100% stereotypical, but his character is so brilliantly described that fits perfectly. He respects the law, is decent person and just a little naive and so wonderfully clumsy about women (esp. Miyuki) that you can only laugh about it. Nevertheless, his character gets a development, which is very slow but steady, you almost don’t notice it, only in the end you think, Oh! What happened?
She’s kind of cute but she’s also the worst kind of gossip-monger, what often causes misunderstandings and additional problems.
Beside Natsumi and Miyuki one of the most interesting characters of the series. The way the character is introduced may be a little embarrassing at first, but the rest of the series shows an excellent character portrayal. Even this extraordinary personality meets all human facets and the character as well as his motives are comprehensibly developed out of the situation.
Visuals: Art and animation are handled very well (8/10)
Art shows a great deal of skill and ambition, not only for the time in which the anime was created. It is a well-known fact that Fujishima-san is a fan of cars and motorcycles and therefore the drawings of the vehicles are very detailed. But also the character sketches, for which Nakajima, Atsuko (OVA) and for the TV-series again Nakajima, Atsuko and Matsutake, Tokuyuki were responsible, are very well done and make the individual characters very lively. For a time when computer animation was still in its infancy, the colours may not be as varied, but beautiful in their entirety. Furthermore wonderful shadings and successful transitions were created. In addition, the animation especially of the pursuits drives are awesome. A really great example are the multiple chases in bad weather, these passages are simply gorgeous.
Sounds: sound effects, voices and BGM match the series well (8/10)
The BGM by Ōtani Kō is very well done (Ep. 1-4 OVA), accompanies the plot well and in particular is not used continuously. If you think of City Hunter and Gundam Wing, you are already familiar with his works. A very positive aspect of his arrangements is that the characters obtain the opportunity to show a development based solely on their facial expressions and actions that are not influenced by background music. I like this signs of professionalism and creativity very much, which offers the characters space to unfold a great deal of complexity and leave it to the audience to interpret it unaffected by the BGM. Iwasaki Yasunori joined the team for the musical design of the following TV series (Ep. 5-51).
The OP for the OVA is „100mph no Yuuki” by Hiramatsu, Akiko & Tamagawa, Sakiko. It`s a cheerful title sung by the Seiyū of Natsumi and Miyuki and sounds like a typical idol song but lyrics and melody convey the right mood.
The ED is again sung by Tamagawa-san & Hiramatsu-san and is called “Arittake no Jōnetsu de” a gentle, soft ending sequence. Both OP and ED impress with very good art and animation, especially considering the fact that they were created around the mid 90s. The two similar sequences that revolve around the two policewomen are very pleasant to watch. The movements of the characters are natural, there aren’t a lot of still frames used and as mentioned above, the sketches of the characters are pretty well done, with lots of details and a grandiose play of light and shadow.
The TV series starts from Ep. 5 to 25 with the title “Boku de Aru Tame ni” by Flying Kids, a real catchy tune from the 90s. You can listen to it or dance Fox Trot, if you like.
The ED for Ep. 5-25 is “Thank You, Love”, sung by Terada, Keiko a really wonderful song, a favorite of mine. A good musical arrangement and the tender singing Terada-san is a pleasure to listen.
The opening of Ep. 26 to the end is “Love Somebody” by Fukui, Mariko, also beautiful, but the Japanese pop singer sings a bit faster and more lively. The title was also her debut.
The ED from episode 26 is “Sora o Miagete” sung by Shirai, Takako. It is a beautiful song, a really great melody and a gorgeous voice. Maybe the ED animation is a bit simple, but the character images are incredibly beautiful.
The voice acting and dialogue directing in Japanese were done very neatly, of course not without clichés, but also many scenes that are quite funny with typical Japanese puns and cultural jokes. A little sad is that the the lip-sync was not done correctly. Sometimes there is a sound without mouth movement, but that`s just a minor mistake. For those looking for an English dub, before you get your knickers in a twist, a little warning that Natsumi sounds like a West Coast beach beauty. Also, AnimEigo’s English dubbing is not faithful to the original, but surprisingly the English subtitles have been done much better in this regard, so I would recommend the original with subtitles.
This leads us directly to the voice actors, a very good overall picture of the character roles. I particularly liked the voice of Kobayakawa Miyuki, spoken by Hiramatsu, Akiko. She added a very feminine and caring softness to the character role, which fit well.
Also, the voice actress Kozakura, Etsuko as the voice of Nikaidou, Yoriko has shown a very good performance and Yoriko`s character as the gossip of the police station is vividly presented.
And last but not least, Matsumoto, Rica as voice of Aoi, Futaba was a very good choice, a pleasant sound, warm and mellow.
Taiho Shichauzo focuses on it`s characters and their personalities and doesn’t seek to entertain the audience with excessive bloodshed, shootings and cruelty. A series that is really worth seeing, charming and enjoyable, at a good pace. All in all nice entertainment, recommended to fans who like a cop story a little easier and humorous.
Thanks for reading and have fun watching.
6: Jigoku Sensei Nube
MAL Score: 7.54
Nube is a clumsy, easygoing, and very kind teacher, but he has a secret under his glove on the left hand. He has a monster hand, and he also has the ability to sense ghosts and evil spirits. So he protects his dear students from these evil spirits with his monster hand, proving to be very powerful.
Basically, it’s a school story with all the weird and scary things you wish could happen to you in a real school, that is, if you’re into ghosts and that kind of stuff.
Hell Teacher Nube is an anime about a schoolteacher with a demon claw in the place of his right hand, which he covers with a black glove, and all the hilarious and touching and sometimes just weird adventures he has with his students as what seems like the entire pantheon of Japanese lower mythology causes havoc in their school and town.
Nube and the students deal with ghosts, UFO’s, youkai, oni, doppelgangers, curses…you name it, they’ll take care of it.
Urban legends are also incorporated into the episodes…spirits of suicides in bathrooms, ghosts appearing in photographs, odd gods…
What else could you want in a supernatural school anime?
The best part of this anime are the stories. When I watched it, the wonder of all the crazy creatures and the wacky characters was a lot of fun. But what hooked me was that it was my first foray into Japanese superstitious culture. The stories are absolutely great!
Nube is an elementary school teacher who has an Oni sealed into his left hand. During his role as a teacher, he develops a great relationship with his students vowing to always protect them from danger. This is constantly proven when his precious students are attacked by ghosts, yokai, & other supernatural demons. While the series is episodic, it later adds more characters such as Yukime the snow demon & Tamamo a fox sorcerer which increases the quality of the anime.
Episodes contain a blend of comedy & horror, however sometimes its focus will be more on horror which can be very disturbing at times.(Ep31 & 44) Other episodes can be more comedy based or either touch upon an important morality lesson which tend to be some of the better episodes such as ep28 being about xmas. It should also be noted that the main character can vary every episode as some are focused on Nube while others are based on his students.
One of the highlights of this series is Nube himself as he a shonen hero in every respect and is a well written character who shifts from a wise mentor to a comedic love crazed buffoon. I should mention that a love triangle forms in the anime which intentionally was done for laughs but towards the end of the series becomes a very serious subject.
Overall, Hell Teacher Nube delivers in entertainment at times being a much darker version of Goosebumps. It may have a monster of the week formula but it’s not a battle series & provides much more content as a whole. Examples include some of its dramatic storytelling and the good nature of people such as eps (20 &34 aka Nube’s origin) or possibly the best heart touching episodes being 47 & 48. It may take some time to getting into, but you may end up loving this anime. Whenever you finish the anime, I recommend to watching the 2nd movie & the OVAs. The OVA episodes are actually cannon, being based on much later manga chapters with its final episode being the best way to finish the anime series.
Hell Teacher Nube is a supernatural/yokai episodic “monster of the week” show from the mid-90s that is flying under the radar of most anime fans nowadays since it was never really a hit in the first place back then, and as most of the titles that fail to generate a solid initial impact, it couldn’t avoid the fate of being forgotten in time. Debuting in the same year Neon Genesis Evangelion sent bittersweet shockwaves with its controversial last 2 episodes, Rurouni Kenshin became the new fighting shounen attraction after Dragon Ball was quickly running out of steam with Dragon Ball GT, Detective Conan started building its empire drawing the attention of the ones interested in mysteries, the Slayers franchise was getting stronger in the fantasy genre with its second installment (Next), and Sailor Moon, the most iconic and popular magical girl show from the 90s, was saying goodbye with its final season (Stars), among other competent shows that made their debuts in 1996, there was hardly any room left for a fully episodic and simple show like this (which also had to face direct competition in the supernatural genre with the more well-known and established GeGeGe no Kitarou (1996) household series) to make itself a relevant name both in Japan and the West.
I first knew about this show back in 2007, when a local anime specialized TV station started airing it after midnight and I used some of its episodes as background television while I was finishing some of my homework and was preparing myself to sleep, never really paying much attention to it and consequently remembering virtually nothing besides the visuals, character designs and the catchy J-rock opening theme. But there was something about its captivating, youthfully-sinister atmosphere that after all these years did manage to stuck in my mind that encouraged me to revisit it now, 11 years later, with complete dedication. And I have to say that -despite its simplicity- it has been quite a pleasant surprise, and that it’s truly worth the try for those who have no troubles watching old shows with dim colors, simple characters and an episodic monster-of-the-week structure. Watching it has been such a delightful experience, that I just can’t help to try to increase its low awareness levels.
The argument: it follows the paranormal adventures of Meisuke “Nube” Nueno, a kind, funny, lovable and young teacher at Domori elementary school who since birth had an abnormal sensibility to perceive evil ghosts and demons from the spiritual “yokai” world (a faculty that made him an easy target to them and allowed him to evetually become a demon connoisseur and a demon slayer) and the 5th grade naughty students he has in charge, with whom he develops a very close, warm and trustworthy relationship, to the point that he even gets permanently and tenderly bullied by them. Due to a tragic incident (which is told with details in one of the later episodes) before becoming a teacher in that school, he managed to seal a powerful demon in his left hand, which turned it into a monstrous-looking one and which he has to cover with a black glove in order to not reveal his true nature and frighten the people around him. This sealing granted him the ability to fight other demons with said hand, since the power of that demon is at his disposal there.
I have to say that the “horror” tag this show has is kind of misleading. Though it’s about ghosts and demons attacks, it is really not scary or uneasy to watch at all. You don’t watch this to feel frightened, to feel that suspense that true horror works stimulate. No episode will really have you on the edge of your seat nor covering your eyes from shock. It is after all very kid-friendly, there’s no gore, no raw scenes and no body parts flying through the air. There is blood, but nothing that terrible or excessive, and virtually the whole time from the teacher’s part, never from the kids, who are only threatened by the supernatural entities and never physically hurt, so no edgy and cheap child torture here. The tone is really very light, innocent and with lots of goofy comedy the whole time, though it occasionally gets more serious.
As an episodic, “monster of the week” show, most episodes are pretty formulaic with an autoconclusive story; one or some of the students of the class will face –in a certain context- the threat of a yokai world entity (ghost, demon, monster, etc.) that will take advantage of a particular weakness, insecurity, moral fault or dark inner sentiment those children have in order to scare them. When the entity is about to make his act, Nube appears, confronts it and ends up slaying it with the power of the demon he has in his left hand, saving his students in the process, something he is happy to do since he believes it is his mission in this world to protect them from their attacks. Everyone celebrate at the end and the kids learn from the mistakes that allowed the creatures to attack them in the first place.
Despite being formulaic, the episodes still show variety in focus, relevance and tone. Some are very light, while some others are more intense and/or heavy. Some are more relevant than the rest, in the sense that they tackle the backstory and some mild character progression of the characters. Some are just to have simple fun, others to leave substantial moral messages. Some are more disturbing or creepy than the others, or even thought-provoking, like one which involves an artificial biology-class mannequin that started to develop a soul inside and started considering himself as a real normal human being with genuine feelings, a situation that made the class feel uneasy and that led them to face a moral dilemma and to take questionable decisions. And while teacher Nube is the main character and the ones who saves the day, not all the attention is put into him; the show does a good job in giving every character of the class a fair share of focus in terms of number of episodes centered around them (including Nube himself).
Speaking about the characters, they are not realistic and most of them are stereotypical. Nube himself represents a virtuous and beloved shounen hero that will protect the ones he loves no matter the costs. Hiroshi, the main character from the children, is a naughty, hyperactive but kindhearted and brave boy, who likes playing football and has lots of friends. Kyoko is an insecure, neurotic but grounded girl everyone likes to bully (I’d say she’s the most interesting among the children because she is the most mature and can see and analyze the situations they face with an adult perspective). There’s also a malicious girl who likes to gossip and brag of her early developed breasts, an innocent, righteous boy, a spoiled rich kid and a delinquent, among others. But being an unambitious formulaic show, I don’t see any trouble in this. You never come to this type of shows expecting realism and lots of character development and stuff. However, this doesn’t mean they are totally static throughout all of the show’s run. As said before, some of the terrifying incidents with the ghosts make the kids learn important life lessons and grow up as human beings, which is effective.
Anyway, watching all these characters interact, having fun with their teacher and living all those thrilling and mysterious ghost adventures in their own school and surroundings is truly the main appeal of the show and precisely why you come for it, because in all honesty, who wouldn’t have liked to live all this during their elementary school days? Scary and everything, supernatural and paranormal activity has always been a subject that has awakened the interest of people trapped in a boring, mundane daily life, even more in kids discovering the world they live in. And this show really delivers in dragging you to those times when you were a kid fascinated with ghost stories. It appeals to that child wish most of us had of living fun and adventurous supernatural experiences along with our friends and classmates. It does an excellent job in making you wish you would have lived all that to make your school life way more entertaining and memorable, in company of an unorthodox, funny, young and close teacher everyone loves that wasn’t just that typical distant person you treat with a lot of respect and fear looking from below.
The art irradiates a particular charm hard to describe that makes this so addictive and the atmosphere so obscurely lovely. The color palette is colorful enough to not give this image of something that is trying to sell itself as very dark and serious but rather kid-friendly and at the same time dull enough to print in the viewer this absorbing feeling of people being menaced by creatures sneaking from the shadows, especially when action takes place at nights. It perfectly suits the overall tone and direction of the show. Anyway, you just have to see it to understand, it’s kind of hard to do so with cold words. All I’m going to add here is that this youthfully sinister and haunting feel is something that you just dont see very often in modern anime with digital coloring and shading techniques and that cel-animation had an advantage when it comes to this matter.
To conclude, Hell Teacher Nube is a show that, while nothing special in regards of being an episodic show which follows a monster of the week formula, it’s still a show with a fascinating, obscure-but-innocent charm, able to delight and entertain almost effortlessly given it’s likable cast, easy-to-watch condition and absorbing atmosphere. Besides, it is also educative, you can use it to learn a lot from Japanese folklore. And while it obviously won’t work for people who have a hard time getting into monster-of-the-week shows, I believe that those who don’t have troubles with them will find this show to be an overall gratifying experience that is worth the try. 7/10.
Some additional tips/comments:
Being episodic, you don’t really “have to” watch every single of its 48 episodes to understand it and you can skip some of them. However, episodes 20 and 34 are essential, since they tackle the past of the main character and explain more who he is and why he feels he has the mission to protect kids from the attack of ghosts. And if you really want to feel the whole emotional impact the heartbreaking last 2 episodes provide, I’d say it is indeed necessary to have watched the whole show so said impact can in fact, materialize in you.
As a show dealing with ghosts with a gloomy, somber (but still innocent) feel, it is highly recommendable to watch it at nights, and ideally inside your bed. That way you will be able to get more immersed in its exquisit and haunting atmosphere, which is precisely the idea when watching a show like this! The same way you enjoyed more scary shows like “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” or “Tales from the Crypt” when you watched them surrounded by the mysterious and menacing feel of the night rather than by the clarity-safety feel of daylight. The feel of this show is such that it just doesn’t work much if watched during the day.
The show gets a little pervy sometimes. You will see some boys conveniently falling into women breasts, some nosebleeds, the teacher fantasizing with naked women, and what may be probably the most annoying issue, an 11 year old girl bragging about her early developed boobs. There’s also an episode where a teenage girl literally suffers from spontaneous body incinerations that burn her clothes leaving her totally naked in front of everyone. But as most of the 80s/90s shows with raunchy stuff, all this is used for more comical rather than erotic purposes, so it’s really nothing that annoying. But if you categorically can’t stand the inclusion of this type of moments in shows involving kids, then it would be better to not try this show.
5: Chuuka Ichiban!
MAL Score: 7.62
The story takes place in 19th century China during the Qing Dynasty, where the Emperor was weakened and the country was close to chaos. It is also during a fictitious era called “The Era of the Cooking Wars”. It was an era in which top chefs with different cooking styles tried their best to improve their skills and to become the best chef in China. It is a country where insulting a high-grade chef or fooling around with cooking could land a person in a jail, and impersonating a top-chef is as good as usurpation of authority. Chefs compete with each other in order to gain respect and even power, but also with the risks of losing everything.
The country of China has four major regions: Beijing, Szechuan, Shanghai, and Guangdong.
The beginning of the story takes place in Szechuan, Mao’s birthplace.
After the death of Mao’s mother, Pai, who was called the ‘Fairy of Cuisine’, Mao becomes a Super Chef in order to take the title as Master Chef of his mother’s restaurant. However, before he takes his mother’s place as Master Chef, he continues to travel China in order to learn more of the many ways of cooking, in the hopes of becoming a legendary chef, just like his mother. During his journey, he meets great friends and fierce rivals who wish to challenge him in the field of cooking.
First chinese dubbed anime that I just finished watching, so the story’s still fresh in my mind. I’ve seen bits of this anime in our local channel, back then it was already pretty interesting but I haven’t been able to catch it always on tv. The plot is very interesting, centering around a 13 year old boy who has a magical touch when it comes to cooking. Like his mom, Mao believes cooking should be used to bring happiness to people, and this is the theme the story revolves in. One can’t help but cheer for Mao as he goes through several tough cooking competitions. Ever watch the Ironchef Master show in Japan? This is the anime version. Man, I can’t help but crave dimsums, fried rice, & other chinese food while watching this. What’s interesting is that the show offers lots and lots of trivias about food — I never realized till I watched it that there are lots of food that can actually improves our health! The characters are very well done, all of them are likeable and its more effective since it uses the bad-guy-turned-good-guy style, making us like the other characters that we thought annoying at first. The phasing of the series is great as well — with each event getting more and more interesting as one watches. The parts I definitely like is the Super Chef competition. The Dark Society of the cooking chefs and the quest for the legendary utensils added that suspense factor, making it not just an ordinary cooking competition. The only thing that lessens the enjoyment a bit is the ending — I was thinking there must be another chapter to this but its the end, apparently this is the case wherein the audience is left to imagine that Mao’s group defeated their enemies, him accepting top chef position and finding all the legendary utensils. Its too bad since if they had just made it a bit longer, the ending would definitely be a happy ever after
I will focus on two things about this series that I feel are most prominent and want to talk about, the characters, structure and the story arcs and their internal structure.
But first I will quickly breeze through all the points that don’t really matter:
Story: The story of Cooking Master Boy is exactly what one would expect for a shounen of this ilk. Defeat comically evil opponents in cooking battles and make friends.
Art: Totally average and passable for it’s time, and still looks nice enough.
Music: What music? Oh right, yeah I guess there’s some playing in the back every now and then.
********* Slight spoilers ahead but if you’ve ever seen a shounen before you’ll be fine. **********
And now, characters.
I will focus on the main 3 individually and the rest in one go.
The protagonist, Liu Mao Xing:
Our protagonist for this adventure is a 13 year old boy whose mother was one of the greatest and most renowned chefs in china. At the beginning of the series an evil villain comes to take over his mothers restaurant but out the kitchen steps up Liu Mao Xing, never having cooked before apparently he takes on the villain to the horror of his fellow restaurant workers and wins, after which he sets out to an adventure to become a great chef.
The girl, Mei Li:
Mei Li is the series main heroine whose only, and I’m not exaggerating here, purpose is to constantly question everything the Protagonist and others around do. She is supposedly a chef, a daughter of the head chef of the best restaurant in Canton no less; however, that is never shown to be the case, for all the viewer knows she may not be able to cook at all. During the series she tags along the protagonist and questions the methods to his madness, and despite witnessing his continuous, unbroken streak of success, she never gives thought to the idea that maybe the Protagonist knows what he’s doing.
I cannot for the life of me understand why she is there. Shounen series usually have a female character tagging along as either one the female viewers can relate to in order to pull in a bit of that crowd, or as the male viewers to swoon over. But Mei Li is so useless, incompetent and irritating I can’t imagine any girl wanting to be her, or any boy wanting to be with her. She has no character or development there of.
The Loudmouth, Zhi Lou (Shilou):
During the first arc they introduce what is possibly my favorite character of the series, we have a lot of characterization for him, backstory and character development, and logically we believe to typical shounen fashion this’ll be our secondary main character of the series. He is not. Instead he just leaves at after all we been through with him and much later at the beginning of the second arc, over 15 episodes later, we are introduced to Zhi Lou. Zhi Lou has nothing to him but that he’s a loud and incompetent chef (at least we know he can cook something, unlike Mei Li) that just tags along against anyone’s wishes. For the rest of the show he causes trouble by not thinking before speaking or doing something stupid.
And now, the good characters:
Chouyu & Ruoh: These are the two mentor Characters to Mao. Mei Li’s father and the Vice chef of the greatest restaurant in Canton, Chouyu and the Master Chef of that same restaurant, Ruoh. However despite them being said to be far superior to Mao whenever they ought to cook, something happens which puts Mao in the spotlight never truly showing us how or why they’re better than Mao.
Xi Er (Shell) & Li Wen (Leon): These two characters are villains who challenge Mao somewhere during the second arc, but turn out allies and join him and the two incompetent sidekicks for the last arc’s adventure. These two are by far the best characters of the series, they get the most character development, are shown to be excellent chefs and during the last arc duke it out with villains getting more screen time than even Mao it feels like. They’re also adults who behave as such.
Sanche: Sanche is the character I talked about in Shi Lou’s section, and despite him leaving during the first arc he makes a return during the last arc and proves himself as an excellent character that should’ve been the sidekick of the series instead of Zhi Lou.
********* Major Spoilers ahead for the 3 upcoming arc segments ***********
Next I want to talk about the three main arcs of this series, these are the original reason I had to write this review, because it’s just something else. I do try to be brief though so I may not convey the full scope of these arcs and why they’re so odd.
Arc 1: episodes 1-14
These 14 episodes are so incredibly fast paced, I’ve never seen a series breeze through this much content in just 14 episodes. Hell, a lesser series would’ve made this arc last the whole 52 episodes of the series allotted run time. So I’ll breeze thorough this segment as fast as the series does.
We get introduced to our main character who is said to never have cooked before, after which he defeats a villain trying to take over the restaurant his deceased mother possessed, after which the admiral of the imperial kitchen is so impressed with his talent he sends him out to study in the best restaurant of Canton, Yonsen Suka. Once he gets to the restaurant he is shown to fail to cook a worthy meal and banished from it, afterwards he finds out the problem, get’s the meal done and is congratulated buy the restaurant owners and given a job there. After overcoming this small bump they immediately send him to a tournament to get the title of a Super Chef, a title only a select few of the greatest chefs in China posses. He wins, the end.
Now one of the greatest chefs in China one would think the series may end, where is there to go? Well an adventure of course.
Arc 2: episodes 15-33
these 19 episodes consist of the worst arc, in my opinion, of Chuuka Ichiban!
During the first 6 episodes Mao goes on a journey across China, we are shown 6 episodic episodes where he arrives in a new town and out-cooks some bad guy, this is also where he meets Zhi Lou. After these he is back in Canton again and back to the Yonsen Suka, where we see the rest of the arc play out in few episode long cook-offs where Mao defeats a bad guy. Of these bad guys two of them are the previously mention Shell and Leon.
The last bout of the arc is against Leon, where Mao acquires a legendary knife, which turns out to be one of 8, and now it’s time to go across China again in search of these treasures before the COOKING UNDERWORLD can get them first, which is a conglomerate of super evil cartoon villains that want to take over the world. Because that’s what a cooking show needed.
At the end of the last episode of this arc they tease that Mei Li and Zhi Lou would leave the gang and be replaced by Shell and Leon, however this is shown to be but a sad Sike in THE MOST BAFFLING scene I have ever seen, period. I have no idea what the idea behind it was but I think it might just be a scene
worth watching the whole damn series for, it is unbelievable, absolutely unfathomably confusing. I simply don’t have the words to explain my utter bewilderment.
Arc 3: episodes 34-52
As if the pacing of this show couldn’t be confusing enough with the speed of sound of the first arc, and the episodic shenanigans of second. This third and last arc is quite the opposite of the first. This is actually my favorite part of the whole series and I watched these 19 episodes in one sitting raising the score of the show from what I had as 5 to the 7 it is now.
The first 12 episodes of this series are one single cooking match against the underworld for the second legendary cookware similar to the Super Chef exam of the first arc which only takes a few episodes. The remaining 7 episodes cover quite a few things in the vein of the second arc but these events despite somewhat episodic are much more fun than the events of the second arc.
And so the series ends, there is no real conclusion they only acquire 3 of the legendary cookware but whatever, I had fun.
EXCEPT THAT IN 2019 THEY ANNOUNCED A SEQUEL SERIES, 21 YEARS LATER THIS SHOW MOST PEOPLE HAVEN’T EVEN HEARD OF WILL CONTINUE.
– edit: The new series is a remake, not a sequel, so it’s redundant if you’ve seen this, additionally it doesn’t cover the first 20 episodes, so it’s not even a proper place to start for those who haven’t seen this one or read the manga.
********* END OF SPOILERS ***********
To end, a few addenda.
– This series is very non sexual overall but there are a couple ass shots that are just not very sexy at all.
– Despite generally decent animation work for it’s time there are a few odd continuation errors that are just subtle enough to miss.
– For whatever reason of all the vile and horrible villains of the series, it’s always the female villains that are the most disgustingly evil.
– This series uses flashy non-diegetic effects to accentuate the food but sometimes the characters react to them as if they were all real and there.
The end, whoever read this far is a madman, who even cares about this show? Why did I write this for 2 hours? Fuck… 2 hours? what’s wrong with me?
Watch “Yakitate! Japan” instead, it’s essentially the same show but about bread and better in every single way possible.
Go home it’s over.
4: Slayers Try
Japanese: スレイヤーズ TRY
MAL Score: 7.82
For nearly a millennium, demons have imposed a magical barrier that has impeded the people trapped within it from reaching the outside world. Now that it is broken, several kingdoms seek to explore the lands that were once beyond their grasp. To this end, they establish a peace delegation to make contact with the inhabitants of the new world.
Meanwhile, the young sorceress Lina Inverse receives a message from a mysterious woman named Filia ul Copt. When they meet, Filia expresses interest in hiring Lina and her friends, having heard of their great deeds, for a certain task that will take them to the outside realm. Despite that, Filia feels the need to put their strength to the test and pits them against a dragon in the middle of the city! After proving themselves, the sorceress and her fellow adventurers set off for the unexplored lands, where many adventures and a worrying prophecy await them.
Another good example is Slayers Try.
Unlike the previous iterations in the Slayers franchise, Try is not actually based on a novel by Kanzaka Hajime, however the author did write the basic outline for the series. This meant that there was far more room for the creativity of other writers to come to the fore, and it’s actually surprising how well Try follows on from the first two series. However, given that many of the production staff are the same as in the previous two outings, and that director Watanabe Takashi is once again at the helm, it should be no surprise that the writers would have a “passing familiarity” with the content.
The story is set several months after Next. The magical barrier that kept the lands isolated has been destroyed, and various kingdoms have decided to send a group of emmisaries to explore and re-establish relationships with the outside world. Unfortunately, Lina and the gang are taking a break in the port city from which the expedition is leaving…
One thing that really stands out about the plot for Slayers Try is the degree to which it progresses throughout the show. While the series manages to retain much of its irrevent humour (albeit in a punchier form), the story is far more focused than in previous outings, and fans of the series may find themselves surprised by the difference.
One unfortunate side effect of this “change” though (although I consider it more of an evolution), is that certain viewers, especially those who are diehard fans of the original two series, consider Try to be the inferior addition to the franchise, partly because it’s not based on an existing novel, but also because of the increase in plot focus.
Whatever the case may be, personally I consider Try to be at least as good as the original series and Next. The plot is well paced and flowing for much of the series, and the increased focus on telling the story only serves to make the humour more precious.
The main aspects that fans of the series will find appealing is the fact that in terms of sound and visuals, Try is without any shadow of a doubt, part of the Slayers franchise. Everything from the character design and animation, to the seiyuu and music are, by and large, the same as in previous outings, and this pays off in a big way in many areas of the show. The animators are far more capable and composed than either of the previous two series, while the voice actors are more self assured than before. The fact that even the same production staff have been used on many aspects of Try gives it an extra dimension that neither the original series nor Next had, and this is because at almost every level of production there is a good deal of experience with the Slayers franchise – and it shows.
In terms of characters, Try is a more than worthy addition to the franchise. After all, the gang’s all here, and this time they have a whole world to play with. Lina and Gourry are just as funny as before, even with the noticeable reduction in jokes involving food and/or eating, Zelgadis is just as moody as ever, and Amelia is still heroically gung ho. Try, however, is unlike either of the previous two series in that the characters are more solid, however this is partly due to the more focused plot. That said, while there is a degree of development for most of the characters, the majority of growth occurs on the part of only one character.
Filia ul Copt is, in many respects, a parody of the stereotypical Dungeons & Dragons “Gold Dragon”, however she is also the character with the most development in Try. Her background, together with the history of her race, make for a solid platform upon which to develop a character, however this seems to be the biggest area of debate, as many viewers feel that Try should have focused on developing the relationship between Lina and Gourry.
Personally, I don’t mind her at all, and I can’t really understand what all the fuss is about. Filia’s personality works well with the other characters, and the fact that she is oft times portrayed as a parody of the D&D Golden Dragon means that she fits in nicely with the ethos of Slayers.
In terms of its content, Slayers Try is very different to either of the first two series and, in all honesty, the show seems to have “borrowed” some of the best aspects of both. Being a fan of the franchise, I found that I enjoyed Try just as much as I did either of the first two seasons. However, the more focused plot may be disconcerting to purists, however much of the humour is retained throughout the show, and this is the area where the Slayers franchise normally excels.
Granted there will be those who simply don’t like Try for one reason or another, and while I can understand the perspective voiced by many nay-sayers, it should be remembered that, like any series, unless there is an effort made to develop the franchise it will simply stagnate. The bigger crime, at least for me, would be to let down the original series and Next by simply re-using the same formula over and over again – such things become tiresome after a while. Granted there is a degree of that in the third series, however Try is also very different to its predecessors because of its tighter story and focused plot.
Try is most definitely a great addition to the Slayers franchise, and while there are those who don’t like the series, there are just as many who do. If you’re a fan of Slayers but haven’t seen Try, then you should definitely mark it as one to watch. The show has all of the appeal of the first two series, yet is unique enough in its own right as well.
That said, newcomers to the franchise are advised to watch the first two series before watching Try, as there are numerous references to previous events and characters.
On the whole, Slayers Try is one of those shows that you should really make your own judgement on. While there is a certain “business as usual” feel to the series, there are plenty of new characters, places and occurences for Lina and the gang to mess with/blow up/steal from, and it’s great to see them given a much bigger “playground” this time around.
Of course and Slayers wouldn’t be slayers without those really strange and wacky episodes and characters which I’m glad to say there are a decent amount but not too much craziness to diverge too far from the plot. Nice little comedic breaks. All the characters have their outstanding personalities and we even dive deeper into a few of the main characters. I love this anime series, mainly because it was the first one I saw, but this season blew me away. I’ve re-watched it 4 times and still enjoy it.
Each season of slayers seems to build more on the storyline (ignoring Revolution and Evolution-R), and Try does a great job of that. It focuses on a lot of different perspectives, and the question of how to define the good guys vs. the bad guys.
The series explores the relationships between Mazoku, gods, those that are neither, and those that are both. Xellos shows his dark side, which makes me love him that much more. And the relationship between Xellos and Filia is hilarious.
The comedy in Try is different that the previous two seasons. There are fewer filler episodes, a lot of suspense, and a lot of action. There are 6 episodes in the season that I found sort of weak (15-20), but the other 20 episodes are by far the best in the series. The series brings out a lot of emotion, and is in my opinion the best of them all.
3: Akachan to Boku
English: Baby and Me
MAL Score: 7.84
Takuya Enoki is living a difficult life for a fifth grader. His mother passed away in a tragic car accident a few months ago, forcing him to pick up the slack and take care of his baby brother, Minoru, as his father works the endless hours typical of a Japanese salaryman.
He will have to sacrifice his childhood in order to meet the needs of his little brother. Cooking, cleaning, worrying, and trying to discipline Minoru are some of the tasks Takuya will have on his plate, all while their neighbors blame him for Minoru’s constant crying. Meanwhile, he will watch as his friends live their carefree lives, enjoying their free time. It will not be easy and there will be plenty of stumbling blocks, but along the way, he may actually learn the true meaning of family.
I first watched it in hindi dubbed on spacetoon. And I really feels it’s story is too emotional and it sometimes make me cry. I also luv it’s opening song especially in hindi. I really feels it is a masterpiece and I’d be happy to see it’s movie…
ever since this incident happened Takuya’s life has changed, he now has to take care of a baby as well as doing his school works….
of course it’s hard for a boy who instead of playing takes care of his younger brother
this series shows the love between family members, the responsibilities that each has for the other, the co-operation between them and most important the understandings between eachother, it might sounds boring but it’s really close to real life, there’s no fantasy and impossible things, it’s really sensitive and touching story that makes you think of what you did and what you must do…
the art might not be that awesome, it’s the normal art of any shoujo series, those big eyes and the big heads of the babies, it’s just an ok art but if you think of the story and the characters you’ll forget about the art…
the sound is amazing, that soft background makes you feel the story and enjoy the scenes and the characters are awesome, when they cry you cry and when they laugh you laugh, they just let you close to them and feel what they feel especially Takuya who doesn’t have anyone to listen to his complaints except us, the viewers! but some of the characters are hilarious so yeah akachan to boku isn’t a sad or a typical shoujo anime(which has only romance and nothing) it’s kinda a mix of everything, a really lovely series which will touch anyone’s heart
story : pretty normal stor of a family after the mother died , with a lot of emotion and support the family continued their life and the brother had to grow up and take care of his younger brother the anime revoloves around the different difficulties the family faces and how they solve it together
characters : amazing and i loveee all of them
voices : personally i think takuya`s voice could have been gentler and also seeichi voice could have been younger after all he is only in his 20th but other than that the rest of the voices are so cute specially takuya`s father enouki
art : it`s old but i still like it considering when it was made it was pretty good
the anime expresses the emotions between sublings and the real love between them it also shows how a family can continue together no matter what hardships faced them
2: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars
English: Sailor Moon Sailor Stars
Japanese: 美少女戦士セーラームーン セーラースターズ
MAL Score: 7.92
Like the R Season, Sailor Stars is divided into two arcs:
The first arc (also filler) solves some conflicts from the SuperS season, and also sees the return of the Outer Senshi, Haruka, Michiru, Setsuna, and Hotaru (now reborn as a child).
The second arc is the actual plot from the manga. Usagi bids farewell to Mamoru, who is going to America to study abroad. In his place comes the Three Lights, an idol trio consisting of three boys, Seiya, Taiki, and Yaten. The new enemy is Galaxia, a woman who desires to rule the entire galaxy by collecting the Star Seeds of humans. Three new Senshi appear, the Sailor Starlights, who also intend to stop Galaxia without Sailor Moon’s help.
First of all, let me tell you, I can agree on why Sailor Moon Sailor Stars wasn’t licensed for the american dub version. If you watch this series, you will find out why. But enough with that matter, let me tell you what I thought of this amazing season of Sailor Moon.
I personally thought the story deserved higher that a 6, at that matter. The story was actually well thought out and planned detail to detail. Naoko Takeuchi had really improved since SuperS. I mean, how the new characters incorperated right into the story perfectly. The Starlights added a new sense of different careers in the story and how Seiya tried his/her best to be like a ‘new’ Mamoru for Usagi.
The art had pretty much improved since SuperS, in my opinion. The detail and different colors use to express the characters was amazing. I really thought that the design of the new senshi outfits was absolutly genius! Also, I must say, Sailor Moon’s Moon Tier was really detailed and perfetly executed the attacks every episode.
The sound in the series really got me into the season more and more. The new opening theme really changed the sense of the series after the same theme song season after season. Change was definetly in order. But I must admit, some of the songs the 3 Lights sang weren’t very good in my opinion. I understand they were looking for their princess for a very long period of time but I never got use to the songs they sang.
The Starlights intro into the series really up-ed my opinion on the rating of Character. Yet, in the anime, how they were changed into Male to Female really didn’t make me happy. I’m sure Naoko diefinetly felt the same way. Anyways, away from that matter, I believe that most of the characters didn’t change that much, yet I enjoyed how they comforted Usagi in her hard times.
The enjoyment of the series difinetly deserved a 10/10 in my opinion. The story brought along many happy, sad, romantic, ect., to the series. I think that Naoko did an exceptional job on this season and the manga at that.
Overall, this series deserves a 10/10! The series was outstanding to me and was one of the first anime I watched when I was young. The series always kept me at the edge of my seat and I really enjoyed some humor here and there. If you are in the mood for an amazing series, I highly reccomend this series to any mahou shoujo anime fan out there. The series was excellent to me and I bet any Sailor Moon fan would agree.
There’s plenty of new scouts from other galaxies and other leaded by another princess. It also features a cool idol group as some of the season’s new characters.
This season was the last season of Sailor Moon and it was never dubbed in English during it’s original release. This season may be still new news to some fans who just watched and were familiar with the original English dub.
Break from Mini Moon-
And of course we get a break from Mini Moon. Even though she is still an important character in it’s first episodes, she does get a break and doesn’t appear through the second arc of this season. This could be a relief to some fans after SuperS.
Yes, this season has plenty of hardships, downfalls, and Sailor Moon will be find herself very heartbroken at times.
Villains are scouts-
Yes! I mentioned there was drama. Not only are there new scouts called the Starlights, the villains themselves are also scouts, which makes it hard to know who to trust.
This is all around a super season and is a must watch for fans. Despite the flaws that Tuxedo Mask is absent from the second arc (but it’s for a reason), and the outers appear very little times. It’s still it’s a great season and you won’t be disappointed.
And this last season was the best one (I missed Mamoru-chan but.. ^^).. We saw friendship, love, longing, and also determination and faith.. of course with the sufficient amount of humour ^^ It has everything in it, and it is an anime that I’d show my children..
Everybody should watch this classic, imo. The storyline, the characters, fight scenes.. all of them were 10/10 for me ^^
(Should I begin watching it again?? ^^)
1: Shoujo Kakumei Utena
English: Revolutionary Girl Utena
MAL Score: 8.19
After meeting a traveling prince who consoled her after the deaths of her parents, Utena Tenjou vowed to become a prince herself. The prince left Utena only with a ring bearing a strange rose crest and a promise that she would meet him again some day.
A few years later, Utena attends Ootori Academy, where she is drawn into a dangerous game. Duelists with rings matching Utena’s own compete for a unique prize: the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya, and her mysterious powers. When Utena wins Anthy in a duel, she realizes that if she is to free Anthy and discover the secrets behind Ootori Academy, she has only one option: to revolutionize the world.
Shoujo Kakumei Utena blends surrealist imagery and ideas with complex allegories and metaphors to create a unique coming-of-age story with themes including idealism, illusions, adulthood, and identity.
That being said, Utena fulfills all of those criteria beautifully. And it is enjoyable on multiple levels. I enjoy it as much now, at age 20, as I did at age 12. My understanding of the characters, the symbolism, and the message inherent in each episode has changed dramatically. At a young age I saw everything as Utena did; I viewed the series from her standpoint, agreed with her fully, and essentially played the role of the fool. In the final episodes when she does not understand what Akio was saying, I did not either. Now I do. Now I sympathize with him, understand his cynicism and manipulation of adolescence, and now I realize just how truly revolutionary and powerful one Tenjou Utena was. Now I understand Akio’s shock. He’s lost the ability to see things as the iconoclast–the fool who is an iconoclast without being self-aware of the full implications of what he or she is doing.
But then, I digress.
"Utena" borrows heavily from the philosophies of Carl Jung and Hermann Hesse, most notably the latter’s incredible novel "Demian". I highly recommend that those who enjoyed this series read the works of both men. The anime incorporates a brilliant and deft weave of existentialism and psychological analysis with excellent characterization and a degree of slice-of-life realism. There is a running theme of the discomfort inherent in becoming self-aware, adolescent discomfort, budding sexuality, and dissatisfaction with the status quo that is inherent in these realizations. These are teenagers who look for the meaning in everything; they cannot yet except there IS no meaning in everything. They want to rebuild the world. In this sense, these turbulent, anarchic sentiments are a throwback to "Demian"; they are the same sentiments that had an entire generation of disillusioned German youth hailing the book as a voice speaking on their behalf for the first time. In many ways, that voice is universal. "Utena" does it justice.
From a technical standpoint, Utena is top-notch. The artwork is gorgeous, the music lush, and the direction lucid. It hearkens to the era of cel-based animation with a minimum of CGI, especially as compared to current offerings. The seiyuu all do an excellent job with their characters. J.A. Seazer’s musical compositions are worthy of stand-alone acclaim. They are quite unlike anything else known in the anime genre.
I suppose I am obligated to warn of the exploration of various taboo subjects beyond homosexuality (Utena and Anthy being one of few canon yuri couples out there outside of hentai), including incest; if you are squiked beyond your comfort threshold by this, don’t watch the show. Otherwise, I cannot recommend this show highly enough. I acknowledge it is not for everyone, but if you are that sort of twisted, abstract person who would enjoy this show, and if you remember the growing pains of adolescence (or are currently undergoing them), you can’t watch it soon enough.
Title: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Manga, Anime: Revolutionary Girl Utena was originally a manga with story by Be-Papas and art by Chiho Saito that ran in Shogakugan’s Ciao magazine from 1996 to 1997. It has been licensed Stateside by Viz Media, and the final volume, which covers the movie, was released on December 3rd, 2007.
Revolutionary Girl Utena has two anime incarnations. One is the original TV show, which is made of 39 total episodes, and was produced by JC Staff (famous for their work on Honey and Clover and Potemayo), and directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara (famous for becoming the director Sailor Moon after the second half of the R season up until the SuperS season). It ran on Japanese TV from April 2nd, 1997 till December 24th, 1997. The second is a movie adaptation, which will be covered later in this review. Both have been licensed Stateside by Central Park Media, which is now defunct. Let’s just say it’s been out for a long time Stateside.
Story: "Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a little princess, and she was very sad, for her father and mother had died. Before the princess appeared a traveling prince riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes. ‘Little one,’ he said, ‘who bears up alone in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength and nobility, even when you grow up. I give you this to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring will lead you to me one day.’ Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was an engagement ring. This was all well and good, but she was so impressed by him that the princess vowed to become a prince one day. But was that really such a good idea?" This is the story that a younger Utena Tenjou tells us as her older self, still aspiring to be a prince and dressing like a boy, goes to the prestigious Ohtori Academy. After her close friend Wakaba is cruelly treated by a member of the Student Council, Saionji and she sees him slapping Anthy, his supposed girfriend, she challenges him to a duel. The ring she wears unknowingly admits her to a secret duelling arena in the forest where Saionji meets her with Anthy, who is apparently the Rose Bride. Saionji then pulls a sword out of Anthy’s chest, and things only get odder from there on out…
Utena is an absolutely amazing series.
On the surface, Utena is just a duelist of the week series, with recurring duelists. However, what makes this show so much more than that is the depth of character development that you get with the duelists, and even with the recurring minor characters. Each duel shows another side to them, and, in addition, reveals even more reasons why these people should go to a psychiatrist. Seriously, you could probably do a good case study on every one of the main characters, and a good deal of the minor recurring characters. Hell, even the girl who’s mainly used as comedic relief gets excellent development and light shed on her psychological problems!
The other thing about this series is that nothing, nothing is what it seems to be at first. There are layers and layers to every single character and aspect of this show, and as the show goes on, you realize exactly what is going on at Ohtori Academy. There’s some very heavy symbolism that uses some fairly mundane objects and allegories that foreshadow what’s going to happen long before it ever does, and you’ll only catch this on another watchthrough of the series.
Which, by the way, would probably be best after you’ve watched this the first time through. There’s a lot of things that you only get in subsequent watchthroughs, and you’ll realize just how much there is to this series when you do. I am convinced that someone could probably write a master’s thesis on this show.
Warning: There are some fairly blatant innuendos and sexual images in this, along with hints of incest and major age differences and definite abuse. Oh, and there’s lots of girls and boys feeling up/kissing their respective genders. So, if you don’t like that, you should stay away from this series.
Art: The art takes a bit of getting used to, admittedly, with blank eyes, sharp edges, and heavy lines. In general, Utena is heavily stylized, but when compared to other shows airing around that time (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Beserk), the quality is fairly high. A lot of work goes into the background art and all the symbolism as well, all of which figure heavily into the show.
There’s a lot of stock footage in this show, but luckily it’s animated well enough that it doesn’t bother you, and every time it plays, you can catch some new little detail about it.
Music: The background music for Utena is done by Shinkinchi Mitsumune, who also did work on Rozen Maiden’s background music. From what I’ve heard from him, this is probably his best work, and I wonder what happened that he put so little effort forth with Rozen Maiden, compared to the effort that had to have gone into this. Every theme is memorable, and is probably some of my favorite music from a series ever.
And then there are the vocal songs that play while the duels happen, done by J.A Seazer. When you’re looking at a translation of the songs, you’re going to realize that they make absolutely no sense and just seem like random words thrown together. And, at first glance, they do. However, as you’re watching the show through again, you realize just how much effort went into those random words, and that yes, they actually do mean something.
The OP, which never changes, is one of my favorites. It’s not anything out of the normal standard for OPs out there, upbeat female JPop number, like with Ouran, but for whatever reason, I really like it. It’s the same thing with the three EDs; all upbeat female JPop numbers that I normally wouldn’t like, but really work for the series.
Seiyuu: Takehito Koyasu (known for his roles as Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi and Haruhi’s dad in Ouran High School Host Club) appears as the voice of Touga, one of the more interesting male characters in here and one of my favorites, and Kotono Mitsuishi (known for her role as Sailor Moon in the show of the same name and Misato Katsuragi in Neon Genesis Evangelion) appears as the voice of Juri Arisugawa, probably the most interesting female character after Utena and Anthy. Akio’s seiyuu, juurouta Kosugi, was also Fernand d’Morcerf’s seiyuu in Gankutsuou, and sounds like sex and malice incarnate. And Anthy’s seiyuu, Yuriko Fuchizaki, brings an amazing amount of depth to her character, just barely hinting at what’s going on beneath the surface and letting hints slip as to what she really is throughout the series.
All in all, an amazing cast.
Length: Thirty-nine episodes may seem a bit lengthy at first glance. And admittedly, there are elements that get a bit repetitive. But I’m fine with the length, as it allows you to see a lot of detail that you might not necessarily see in a shorter series, which works to the benefit of Utena.
Overall: An absolutely amazingly written and acted series with lots of depth, heavy character development, stylization, symbolism and allegories, and people with lots of issues, that has a lot of details you’ll notice on subsequent watchthroughs.
Tied for my all-time favorite series. Watch this. You will not regret it.
Overall: 48/50; 96% (A)
I’d heard a lot about “Utena” beforehand. Some say it’s the shoujo version of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”; others say that Oscar from “Rose of Versailles” is Utena’s spiritual grandmother; and many people consider it to be one of the greatest masterpieces in anime. Having seen it, I can conclude that there is merit in all of those statements. Well, perhaps apart from that last one. For me, “Utena” is too flawed to be deserving of that honour. However, there’s no denying that it’s an influential series, and many of its influences can still be seen in more recent shows.
Although “Rose of Versailles” does have a certian degree of influence on “Utena”, most of these extend only as far as the surface. The most obvious of these influences is Utena herself. Born as a girl, but lived most of her life as a “prince” rather than a “princess”, the parallels between Utena and Oscar, the heroine of “Rose of Versailles”, are obvious. A lot of the visual effects (such as the various rose effects) that “Revolutionary Girl Utena” deploys also seem to be derived from “Rose of Versailles”, although a lot of them do seem to be used in a rather more tongue in cheek way. But beyond this, the two series are vastly different in terms of content. “Rose of Versailles” tells a much more straight forward story, albeit with the gender bender twist provided by Oscar herself, while “Revolutionary Girl Utena” is anything but straight forward.
Not being a fan of the overly abstract and surreal, I had a little trouble getting to grips with the show. For the settings in “Utena”, you have this school with a bunch of these outlandish rules, where the school council members fights duels with each other in a secret tower in the forest for the possession of the Rose Bride (another student), in order to gain the power to revolutionarise the world… Whaddaf*ck? Is this some kind of peculiar school play? Alas no, it appears to be reality, just not as we know it. Utena (who is, in case you haven’t guessed, the protagonist) is thrown straight into this strange setting, and initially, she seemed as confused as I was about the strangeness of it all. She does make some effort towards finding out what the heck is going on, as you would naturally expect her to do, but her efforts are… kinda pathetic. One minute, she’s like “WTF is all this?! Duels? Rose Bride?? Power to revolutionalise the world???” Then the next minute she’s completely sold on all the weirdness and, without anyone prompting her, starts drawing swords out of Rose Bride’s chest and shouting key phrases such as “grant me the power to revolutionalise the world!” like the rest of those freaks from the student council.
And so, after this extremely half-hearted effort at forming a tenuous link to reality (I don’t know why they even bothered to be honest), the scene is set for the rest of the show!
Despite all the weirdness of the premises, I initially found “Utena” less difficult to to get through than I would have expected. However, a few episodes in, I found an even bigger problem that made the going a lot tougher – repetitiveness. There is simply a ludicrous amount of it. If they took out all the repeated scenes, the series would probably be able to fit into a standard 26 episode season quite easily. In each of the arcs of the series, the same scene is reused to set up almost every battle as well as to end almost every battle. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Utena accepting the power of Dios into her… it’s the same scene everytime, no matter what the situation leading up to it is. Sometimes she would be crouching before the scene, sometimes standing, sometimes even with the enemy rushing towards her, but always, she finds the time to casually stand around, being infused with the power and then lunge at her opponent and win the dual. After seeing it 20+ times (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating in the slightest here), there’s just one word to describe this… BOOOOORIIIING. Perhaps they’re trying to parody the transformation sequence of the magical girl, but even as a (not particularly funny) running joke, it wears out its welcome pretty quickly. The action scenes aren’t even good, and they certainly don’t become good after about the 30th time of viewing.
The repetitions aren’t just limited to the battles either, they extend to the “Duelist of the Week” format. “Utena” really taken this format to extremes, with a lot of the scenes/dialogues being used to set up the duels being recycled to the point of annoyance. In the black rose saga, for example, every episode follows the same formula of some person with some personal problems getting told that their only option is to “revolutionalise the world”, and it just seems laughable that it’s the answer to all their problems
“My cat has died.”
“I see. Your only option is to revolutionalise the world.”
“I’ve lost my favourite red pencil.”
“I see. Your only option is to revolutionalise the world.”
“I got a hole in my left sock.”
“I see. Your only option is to revolutinoalise the world.”
You wouldn’t believe how sick of that phrase I became. The dialogues often borders on absurd and smacks of lazy scripting.
But because of all the repetitions this show has, on the rare occasions when it does makes a deliberate change to the script, the contrast can really pack a hefty punch, and those episodes shines all the more brightly because of it. It’s hard to say whether this is a positive thing because the resulting effect can be so refreshingly wonderful, or whether it’s a negative thing because the show’s repetitions drove me to the point where I end up over reacting to the smallest change. Probably a bit of both. Perhaps it’s all deliberate, and you may say I’m missing the point as I’m unfairly criticising what it’s aiming to do, but just because some chef *deliberately* poured a bottle of vinegar into a dish in order to give it an extra zany kick doesn’t change the fact that he’s completely ruined the dish as a result, and it doesn’t make me feel much better knowing that it’s all intentional when I’m gagging from the taste.
As someone who’s really into character driven shows, I did not find the characters of “Revolutionary Girl Utena” to be particularly interesting in general. There’s too much posturing and general displays of shallowness. Every week Anthea the souless doll gets slapped for some petty reason as she’s the scape goat for everything; most of the girls are annoyingly vain, but most of the guys are even more so, and need no encouragement to unbutton their shirt and start poncing around. There’s an irritatingly large amount of time devoted to this, while more fascinating characters like Jury are criminally under used. Admittedly, by the end, most of the characters do reveal themselves to be more than just faceless people in a dull crowd, but still, with a couple of exceptions, I found it hard to care about most of them at any given point in the show. It says a lot that I’m more interested in what Anthea’s pet monkey Chu-Chu is doing than what most of the characters – Anthea especially – is doing. At least Chuh-Chu’s crazy antics, in particularly when he’s battling his arch enemy the frog, never ceases to amuse me.
Speaking of amusement, the nature of the humour in “Utena” is random, and whether it’s effective or not also seem to be pretty random. There are times when it works but then at other times it’s just… random… without being at all amusing.
The similarities between “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Utena” comes mostly from comes from the apocalyptic themes and also the mountain of symbolisms the two of them contain. If anything “Utena”‘s use of symbolims is even more aggressive than that of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” – they’re constantly being shoved into your face and, to be honest, I found it all a bit too much. As the author Stephen King once put it, “Symbolisms exists to adorn and enrich, not to create a sense of artificial profundity,” and there’s a sense that “Utena” is more of the latter than the former. In my opinion, symbolisms should be done with a subtle touch, preferably integrated into the show such that they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. This way, it can be nice when you get them and you don’t feel like you’re missing out if you don’t. The fireflies motif from “Grave of the Fireflies” is a textbook example of how I think it should be done. The intrusiveness nature of the symbolisms in “Utena” on the other hand, feels like it goes against the whole spirit of the concept, and it results in some completely bizarre scenes (f*cking cars popping up all over the place, anyone?) that can really be frustrating if you’ve no idea what these weirdass symbols are supposed to mean.
In terms of production values, “Utena” also comes up short. Other than the ludicrous amount of reused footage that I’ve already mentioned (they should consider displaying “Warning: Contains at least 25% reused animation! on their DVD boxes), the sound production quality also comes off as something more dated than it actually is. I was unimpressed by the much lauded soundtrack that consists a lot of rather experimental sounding songs with gibberish lyrics relating to apocalyptic themes. What’s worse is that those songs tends to stick out badly, so not only did I not like them, I also found it hard not to take notice. It does improve in the second half of the show (I particularly liked the second ending theme, and one of the eyecatch themes is nothing short of beautiful despite its short length), but overall the sound department mostly comes off as a poorly produced, failed experiment.
But despite the amount of time I’ve just spent bitching about the show, I actually think it’s good. It’s just that I found it a lot easier to identify the source of my negative feelings towards it than the positive. I guess there’s an odd kind of enjoyment to be had in “Utena” by turning off the part of your brain that’s grounded in reality, and there’s a certainly a kind of magnetism about the show that keeps it interesting. Amidst all the surreal madness, some of the direction is undeniably brilliant, especially in its execution of twists.
Ultimately, “Utena” is a show that’s far greater than the sum of its parts – in spite of the overly repetitive animation, the overly similar shallow, vain individuals in its cast, the overly aggressive use of symbolisms and the overly filler nature of the story etc, the whole thing works surprisingly well. I just wasn’t blown away, that’s all.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Shoujo Kakumei Utena
2. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars
3. Akachan to Boku
4. Slayers Try
5. Chuuka Ichiban!
6. Taiho Shichau zo (TV)
7. Jigoku Sensei Nube
8. Kidou Senkan Nadesico
10. Saber Marionette J