They’re the best Anime that 1999 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Jibaku-kun, Oruchuban Ebichu, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, and more!
English: Bucky: The Incredible Kid
MAL Score: 7.37
Bucky, the protagonist of the history, is a normal boy that lives in the first world. He lives with a single and humble ambition: to dominate the world (in the sense of the whole planet). He is very certain and he would certainly die to reach his dream.
One day he meets with Spark, the Great Child of Primas (World One). Spark is known as the strongest Great Child of all of the worlds, and he is a successor’s search. After finding Bucky and talk a little with him, Spark without apparent reason choose Bucky his successor. Bucky has just become a Great Child and to win the company of Jibaki, the spirit of the first world.
Some introductory elements:
1 – Bucky anime is set in a strange world in a form of a clock, divided in 12 worlds. Each world represents a number in the clock, following the clockwise direction. In the middle of the 12 worlds there is the “Needle Tower”, very similar to a clock hand.
2 – Each world is inhabited by humans, humanoid animals and monsters. Some of these monsters have an evil and destructive nature. These evil monsters are called “Troublemaker Monsters”.
3 – The Needle Tower chooses one virtuous child (the “Great Child”) in each world to protect the people from the Troublemaker Monsters.
4 – Each Great Child is helped by a humanoid pink ball called “Spirit” that explodes when it raises its hands.
Every child in Bucky’s world wants to be a Great Child. Everyone, except Bucky – a child from the 1st World. The protagonist thinks that to be a Great Child is a ‘childish thing’. Bucky wants to be much more. He wants to rule all over the 12 worlds. However, he is always mocked when he talks about his dream.
Once Bucky is attacked by a Troublemaker Monster, and he tries to defeat the monster by his own. His fearless attitude is watched by Spaak (En), 1st World’s GC and the strongest of them. Spaak saves the boy and listens to his dream. Spaak gets impressed by Bucky’s dream and conviction, and so Bucky gets pleased by Spaak’s comprehension.
Then, with not much apparent reasons, Spaak gives to Bucky his spirit (Jibaku-kun) and his title as the 1st World’s Great Child. Spaak goes to the Needle Tower and encourages Bucky to enter in a journey around the entire world to get stronger and, finally, meet him in the tower.
Bucky’s journey to world domination begin, travelling around the world in the clockwise direction, and making allies and friends: Pink (the comic relief) and Kai (the smart guy).
The personalities of the main cast are well balanced, but Bucky’s traits stands out. His self-confident and usually arrogant personality is the real appeal of the series. Bucky never smiles and points his friends as his slaves in his world domination plans. On the other hand, Bucky has strong moral convictions about justice and honour and also becomes more flexible through the series.
From episodes 1 to 13 we don’t have much important things happening. These episodes are much more introductory than anything, presenting the viewer to the main cast and to the original and bizarre universe.
Starting from episode 14, the true story begins, covering the origins of the Troublemaker Monsters and gradually revealing the truth about the organization of the Needle Tower. But, unfortunately, the anime ends when it starts to be really good (around episodes 20-26), when most of the mysteries are solved.
For some, me included, Bucky’s strange plot and over the top colorful world may hide something deeper. First of all, the uniqueness of the plot is present in several elements and metaphors, especially in the world in a form of a clock (a symbol to the passage of time) and in the reverse role of children protecting adults.
By the way, ‘Bucky: The Incredible Kid’ is seen by some as a modern fairy tale about growing up and how it affects the childhood dreams.
There are also a lot of questions that are presented and solved one by one, until an original ending shows off: What is the Needle Tower? Why the Great Children respect the Needle Tower’s orders blindly? How the Troublemaker Monsters are born? Who is the girl in the aquarium that appears in some random scenes?
Every episode is a gradual revelation, so be patient and enjoy the show.
Ths anime don’t have too much popularity in Japan but in America Latina it was great admired.
The style of the old school stroke on the character design is very good.
The story is funny u can know more about on another reviews because on my review i just want to complement the others talking about the songs , i recommend u to listen the first opening and ending themes they are really awesome. ;D
Opening: Yumi Matsuzawa – Dare mo Shiranai Chizu de
(Yumi’ s also the singer of the Saint Seiya Hades’s ending theme, Chikyuugi)
Ending: Two-Mix – Last Tears
9: Oruchuban Ebichu
MAL Score: 7.39
Ebichu the hamster seems like the perfect house pet: she cleans, shops, cooks, does laundry, and anything to please her master, known only as “Office Lady” (OL). Unfortunately, OL and her unfaithful boyfriend, combined with Ebichu’s uncontrollable exuberance and love for ice cream, often earn her severe and bloody punishment. However, Ebichu doesn’t seem to mind the abuse if she achieves her goal of making her beloved master a little bit happier.
Ebichu is about a hamster called Ebichu. Her owner is a single office lady desperate to find a husband. Many jokes center around Ebichu’s owner and her good-for-nothing boyfriend. What makes this show worth watching is its extreme humour that springs form this set-up. Warning to all American kids: Contains adult themes, watch this and be sued! Infidelity, sex in it’s all forms (and positions… he-he-eeeeh…), gambling, violence and much more. Best advertising speech ever?
Ebichu is best watched with an open mind and maybe a couple of friends and some beverages with alcohol in them. Once in a while you can shout: “Oh those crazy Japanese!” After all I enjoyd Ebichu’s twisted humour and recommend this to anyone who can fill all the conditions in the beginning of this paragraph. Try it – I can guarantee that you may or may not be disappointed.
Of course what caught my eye was the off the wall vulgarity in a show that appears to be a cute little slice of life about an adventurous housekeeping hamster. Consisting of an assortment of sexual comedy and somewhat violent slapstick humor. This show pushed the boundaries big time. The simplistic art style was probably the only reason I can gather as to why they were even allowed to show this on television. There’s both explicit sexual scenes, as well as Ebichu getting absolutely decimated in the most comical way (if that makes any sense) by her OL Master or the “Useless Bum”. It also shows the highly dysfunctional relationship of Ebichu’s Master and her “Useless Bum” of a boyfriend. Portraying an incredibly real looking relationship that is so against the norms of most anime.
And through all that, this show remains impeccably charming, and adorable most of the time. Throwing adult themes into something that for all intents and purposes looks like a children’s show, you can’t find this stuff anywhere else.
The housekeeping hamster in question, Ebichu, is voiced by Kotono Mitsuishi, famous from her days as Misato Katsuragi from Evangelion. The story of how this show came to be was an interesting one too. Mitsuishi would read the Ebichu manga in between recording lines for NGE. She would often burst out laughing and that caused people to go up to her and ask what she’s reading. After some time, they at Gainax, including Hideaki Anno (what?), decided they wanted to animate it, and thus made Mituishi the titular character of Ebichu. I just found it very interesting, both that the studio sees a manga and goes “what the heck let’s give it a shot”, and that Mitsuishi eventually got the chance to provide a voice for the character she’d grown to love. And what a voice it was. Never was there a break in character, Ebichu has an unmistakable voice and speech pattern that I can’t compare to anything else I’ve ever heard before. Mitsuishi did an unbelievable job portraying her.
This show is a gem. However, it is a relic from the year 1999 that almost nobody ever talks about. And that’s incredibly sad. I’m not someone who particularly loves straight up comedy anime, but this show hooked me from the start. It was a riot. It stayed true to itself the whole way through, and brought new things to the table that I’d never seen in comedy anime before. You won’t find many shows where a character fantasizes about having an intimate relationship with a hamster. It’s truly something unique for both its time and now and is something most everyone should at the very least check out. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend doing so immediately by any means possible, and then feel sorry that you hadn’t watched it sooner.
One of the funnier animes out there. Adult themes clash with animation and sound effects of a childrens’ show. Humor, sex and kawaii in a perfect mix. Highly recommended!
Very simple graphics and animation, but that is kind of the point. The characters look dull at first glance, but once you get to know them, you can’t imagine them looking any differently.
Can’t give too high a score here, because of the simple looks, but on the other hand this anime really couldn’t have a more appropriate animation.
The intro song is cute and catchy, but nothing too fabulous. The reason I rate the “sound” cathegory so high is because of the sound effects. They are well timed and fit like a glove, that which they are supposed to illustrate. Spot on!
Oh, and great voice acting, especially Ebichu.
No story, just episodic “strips”. Actually, each episode is divided into many many short scenes which often has nothing to do with each other. There would have been nice with some kind of final conclusion, but hey… Extra points for the setting, though.
Except for the extreme and universal aggression towards hamsters, most of the characters feel like real people (if somewhat drawn towards an extreme). The adult theme lets them act without regards to the age of the audience, and there is no epic story behind it all. Just people.
And Ebichu. Who definately is the cutest anime character I have come across this far.
The episodic structure lets you watch any episode of Ebichu at any time, without risk of being confused, so I’d say the re-watch value of this is high. And lots of extra points for the fansubber’s translation notes at the beginning of each episode. Very informative.
8: Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
MAL Score: 7.45
A normal looking high school girl on the outside, Kusakabe Maron is actually the reincarnation of Jeanne d’ Arc. With the help of the angel, Fin Fish, Maron works as the thief Jeanne at night to seal the demons that reside in pieces of artwork, preying upon the weak hearts of the owners. She is branded as a thief due to the fact that the artworks disappear after she seals the demons. One day, a new neighbor and classmate appears, as well as a rival in her night job, the thief Sinbad. With her own best friend being the detective’s daughter, out to capture her and the appearance of her new rival, Maron’s work is anything but easy.
KKJ doesn’t exactly provide anything ground breaking story-wise. It’s standard mahou shoujo material. Like many other thieves you may find in other anime, Jeanne oddly enough tells the police beforehand she actually plans to steal something, and magically completes her missions successfully, foiling the police each time. While there is an obvious plotline, majority of the anime is fairly episodic. It follows a monster of the week pattern, so each week (or should I say each episode) Jeanne seals another artwork, normally helping non-returning characters that have problems most likely due to the demons. The second half has the plot picking up, with new (and returning) antagonists as well as development of the romance between the two main characters. It’s fairly standard, but interesting enough if you don’t mind standard to begin with.
Unfortunately, the infamous reused transformation scene is used in KKJ, and is quite frankly an annoyance to watch after the first time. Animation is also reused a lot when it comes to the demon sealing. The animation is bright and colorful, and this being based off a manga by Tanemura Arina of course means awesome character designs, at least for the thieves’ costumes. An irritating number of still screens are also often used in KKJ, detracting enjoyment at times, simply because nobody likes to stare at a still screen when something else could be done. Anyhow, if you’re looking for amazing animation, look no further, because it certainly isn’t here.
Nothing too special can be found from sound either. The opening and endings are fairly catchy, although perhaps a more slow song would have been more fitting for the first ending. Background music is quite forgettable, but at least there’s nothing that ruins the scenes, proving that the BGM does its job. Voice acting is fairly satisfying, with Maron’s VA doing an excellent job showing her strength, will and loneliness. Fin Fish’s VA, while befitting her role, is fairly annoying to listen to however, probably due to the extremely high pitch.
KKJ’s characters would have to be its strongest point. Most of the characters develop throughout the series, especially the leads. Maron is a seemingly happy person, but behind it all is one who suffers from extreme loneliness. Chiaki is a somewhat trouble male who has a reluctance in engaging in any serious romantic relationship with another girl. The developing romantic relationship between her and Chiaki is pretty much the highlight of the show for the romance lovers, but it’s quite predictable from the start how it would all turn out. There’s more to Miyako then what appears at first, with this and the history behind some of the antagonists, make up for a fairly interesting cast of characters.
Did I like it?
If you’re wondering whether I actually enjoyed Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, I didn’t really. I’m a fan of the manga and thought the drama especially portrayed in it was brilliant. I was disappointed when I saw the anime had taken the mahou shoujo approach, with long and tedious transformation scenes, and pointless clashes between Jeanne and the police. I also hate monster of the week setups, as they prove to be far too boring and repetitive.
Overall, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is your everyday mahou shoujo. Complete with transformation scenes, flashy (and unrealistic) action, and a bit of romance here and there. Take that with some of the drama and twists presented in the show, an interesting cast of characters, and we have an anime the mahou shoujo lovers could waste their lives on for a while.
1)must see; 2) must see; 3)must enjoy ^_^
Then I was a teenager I used to watch this and imagined that I am that brave, strong, lissome girl. I knew all phrases when she is transforming and that was my inducement to be better and alarm-clock which woke me up every morning with smile, bravery and impulse to continue what I have started.
Story is about friendship which could be very mystical and disloyal, about love which can be beautiful but in the same made-up, bet from the start till beginning it always is truthful to yourself which teaches us to love ourselves too. Great!
story : 8/10
i said i love this anime, but this anime is really stressed on what is absolute evil and what is absolute kindness, im kinda against that so i personally think this is an anime for younger kids and would like u to know that the plot is great its just my personal issues. There are good points and bad points to both the anime and manga, i recommend watching both. The manga have a better ending, though the anime already have a happy ending(i meant it you are not new to anime you pretty much know all this kinds of anime leads to happy ending) but the manga ending is like even more happy or something?
If you watch both, you will get a very detailed backstory for each main character.
art : 10/10
the art is PERFECT. it is so shoujo-ish, its exactly for girls. Now i would say that the manga actually have better art than the anime but… the anime’ transformation is awesome. so this anime is tittled ‘kamikaze kaitou jeanne”,
and you can kinda guess that it have somethings to do with theives. The main characters actually go through a transformation, which involve flashy lights and lots of turning and stuff. But in the manga its kinda dull, there’s not really the process for transformation, like poof the girl has changed.
sound : 9/10
The sound i great, but its like average… there’s no really good points and there’s no bad points either…
Character : 9/10
the characters are awesome, there’s a lot of backstory given for the girl, and a little for the guy. they have strong personality and there’s so much of character development. But you know you can never have too much. Now in the manga, there’s is more backstory given to fin fish. So it’s best to read both manga and anime.
Overall : 8/10
i know it will be 9/10 if i don have a preference over what kinds i like, so it’s just something personal.
7: Gokudou-kun Manyuuki
MAL Score: 7.46
It all starts when Gokudou steals a pouch from a fortuneteller, thinking that it contains a gem. Instead, it turns out to be a rock, from which emerges Djinn. The genie grants Gokudou the standard three wishes, but our anti-hero doesn’t think heavily about his wishes. Gokudou does get his wishes, though not exactly in the fashion that he expected. The best thing he gets out of his wishes is Honou no Maken, a magical sword that enables its owner to do fire attacks and it can be summoned from anywhere in the world.
Even with an enchanted sword, Gokudou doesn’t get much respect. He gets turned into a woman by Djinn, who is also a shapeshifter. He is followed by Rubette La Late, a potential love interest who is more interested in adventure, karaoke and outperforming Gokudou. He gets whapped on the head a lot, especially by the fortuneteller who reappears throughout the series just to plague Gokudou it seems. Later in the series, he gets another sidekick, a former evil magician named Prince, who is more handsome and a better womanizer than Gokudou.
The title character of this tale is the most unlikely kind of hero anyone would ever want to meet–he’s selfish, greedy, obnoxious, and has only two goals on his mind: money and hot babes! Gokudo is unabashedly an anti-hero, all right, and so one gets the impression that we’re not supposed to identify with him. And yet, in spite of his disreputable qualities, there is actually something about Gokudo who is very likeable–perhaps because his personality is so over-the-top that one cannot help but laugh at him. The most comparable character to Gokudo is Lina Inverse, but unlike our favorite flat-chested sorceress, Gokudo has almost no redeeming qualities whatsoever–and yet he is all the more amusing for it. (He also tends to break wind in more than one location–particularly dealing with major baddies.)
His motley crew is an equally interesting bunch–there’s Rubette, a tomboyish princess who shares Gokudo’s temper and feistiness (somehow I know that these two are destined for each other), Niari, a lovesick womanizer of a prince who falls for every woman around, a gender-changing genie, a pregnant male panda(!), a pair of Chinese witches… and especially an annoying little midget from Hell, Ikkyu. With the exception of the genie, they are all some of the most self-serving, argumentative group of heroes you’ll ever see–and yet the continuous laughs they provide throughout are precious.
The misadventures that Gokudo and his "friends" continually get into literally bounce off the walls with non-stop silliness and unpredictable plot twists. The story is divided into five "parts": In the first, Gokudo is sent to rescue a damsel from a castle with the promises of a rich reward and the life of a king as the prize. Then he decides to get involved in a desert trek that builds to a showdown with a mechanical giant. After that, we visit the kingdom of the Buddhas and Gods, where they manage to pick up a pint-sized brat of a goddess as an unexpected ally. The fourth arc, which is arguably the LOOOOOOOONGEST of the show, involves Gokudo and his friends switching bodies and exploring the underworld. In addition to being slowgoing, this arc makes the grievous mistake of recycling a sequence that may have been entertaining in one moment (the pop-idol quartet musical number) but now tedious in the next. The last arc involves a trip to some kind of native paradise where they face off with a pair of powerful gods and, of course, the final confrontation with the most unlikely antagonist imaginable–a manipulative old hag. Although the unexpected twists of the plot hamper the entertainment value at times (and the animation and music being little more than cheesy, low-grade quality), Gokudo is nonetheless a showstoppingly funny fantasy farce which should be a hit with comedy-fantasy-adventuregoers.
While people are bound to be, well, opinionated about dubbing in general (an argument not uncommon with Anime series and movies), I have to say that this particular English language track produced by New York-based Headline Sound is loads of fun. Daniel Kevin Harrison simply *is* Gokudo, the loud-mouthed, crude, impulsively selfish anti-hero of the piece. He sinks his teeth into the role with demonic, zany glee, and one of the primary reasons why the dub works is because of his performance.
He shares terrific chemistry with Angora Deb, another one of my favorite NY actresses, who plays Rubette. I have heard Deb in various other roles for dubs, my favorite of which is Leaf from Lodoss TV, but this is the first time I got a chance to experience her playing a lead, and she does so with glorious hamminess. One of her best moments is the episode where Rubette sings "red, red, red"; I was in complete stitches. Ed Paul also does a great job with Prince Niari; he sounded very suave and sexy while very courageous and daring at the same time.
The rest of the cast includes Greg "Ghim" Wolfe (credited here as Chunky Mon) as the Male genie, Jessica "Excel" Cavello as her female counterpart, Georgette Reilly as Ikkyu, J. David Brimmer as two basso-voiced heavies, Pete "Wagnard, Hiroyuki Miyazawa" Zarustica as the Panda, and various incidental roles performed by Rachel "Martina" Lillis, Billy "Parn" Regan, Lisa "Deedlit, Lina, Azalyn, etc." Ortiz, Megan Hollingshead, Meg "Pirotess" Frances, Liam "Hideaki Asaba" O’Brien, and others from the New Yawk dubbing crew. Add to this an equally entertaining adaptation provided by director Bill Timoney and, for a few episodes anyway, Rachel Lillis (which occasionally "Americanizes" Japanese jokes and strays from the original subtitle script, but not by much), and you have one heck of a dub to check out.
While Gokudo may probably wallow in the shadow of other shows of its kind (namely, of course, Slayers), those who give it a try will find it to be deliciously silly, zany, laugh-out loud fun.
This anime became my instant favorite. It’s really funny, and isn’t afraid of taking itself not seriously and being just full on goofy, instead of trying to mix a bunch of genres to be original or whatever.
The story is really fun. it feels like you’re playing DND with your friends, really fun to follow and find out what happens next. It actually makes you wanna see the next episode. Its very bingeable.
The characters are really dynamic and well written. All of them are different and have different personalities, and not once are they out of character. the development of the characters are very well written as well.
The art is somewhat outdated, but I kinda liked it that way.
I immensely enjoyed this Anime, it was a great escape from my life into a different world, a more fun world.
Overall this anime deserves a 10/10. You should really watch this anime if you haven’t.
6: Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel Saga
English: Excel Saga
Japanese: へっぽこ実験アニメーション エクセル サーガ
MAL Score: 7.50
It’s hard to take over the world, and the enigmatic Il Palazzo, head of the ACROSS organization, knows this, so he aims to start small by conquering the city of Fukuoka. Two young officers, the Excel and her partner Hyatt, are tasked with executing this plan, but standing in their way are the City Security workers, a group consisting of three (mostly) normal guys, a very severe girl, and some robots. Regardless of simplicity, Excel and Hyatt always manage to screw up their missions, which usually result in death and lots of destruction.
Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel?Saga chronicles the elaborate troubles that the ACROSS officers get themselves into, as Excel and Hyatt never fail to do their jobs improperly.
Excel Saga actually not only tells the story of Excel and her escapades, but it is actually three different story lines going at once.
We have the tale of Excel, Pedro, and The Neighbors that work for the city.
With that said, the story is not easily reviewable but here goes.
Well to tell the truth, there really is no story (aside from trying to take over the city) until the last few episodes when random twists of fate bring all three story lines together (dont worry that didn’t ruin anything)
Each episode of Excel saga is meant to be a parody of different genre, for instance, there is a sci-fi episode, a fantasy episode, a "power rangers/sailor moon" type one, etc etc. Throughout the course of these episodes, stranger and stranger things start happening and its always entertaining, sometimes funny, sometimes WTF.
The episodes that dont so much focus on Excel have no plot either, and are more of the "daily life" type anime episodes.
As for the art, the animation is top notch. Everything is well colored, choreographed, and presented. They make use of a wide array of animation styles for the various episodes and characters which is a plus.
The sound……i dont even know. This is one of the reasons you love it or hate it. Excel talks extremely fast about the most random things and she can get to be very annoying, or very entertaining. And you may think that "oh she can’t talk like this the whole time" but you are wrong, almost the entire time she is running that jaw of hers. Dub or sub, she sounds the same, i dont have a recommendation, pick whichever you normally watch.
Aside from the vocal tracks, the music is quite entertaining. The character themes and sound effects play a big role to help emphasize scenes and actions.
As for enjoyment, I personally found the show very entertaining although at times i did want excel to just STFU but it was worth it in the end to watch it. Dont watch this for any kind of epic plot because you will be disappointed, but if you want highly entertaining, high energy and comical times, check this show out.
The story mainly follows 2 main characters as they’re “trying to take over the world” for a company called ACROSS, i forgot what the acronym stood for. The two girls, Excel and Hyatt, all work under a man called Ilpalazzo. The great thing about the two main characters is that they’re complete polar opposites of each other. Excel, is your typical over eccentric and stupidly ignorant girl, and Hyatt, is very under eccentric and is actually pretty smart. Its funny in a sense that they are Literally different from each other. They’re not the only characters in the show tho. There are at least a good dozen characters that keep reappearing but always displayed in different situations.
Art and Sound
The art and animation is typical pre-2000 style artwork. Its all kind of lame in my opinion, but they do show their artistic variety in how they have to draw drastically different environments with every episode. The music is forgettable, although you’ll laugh at the ED a few times it gets annoying after the 3-4th time listening to it. The op is a little catchy and its a nice touch to have hyatt cough during her singing.
The best part of the anime is the line execution or the script. The use of the word “Shock” and the running joke of her eating her dog among all the other hundreds of jokes makes this show stand out so much. The simplistic lines flow very well with the simple artwork and characters. They even go far as copying characters from from digi charat, to fist of the northstar, to shinesman (you’ll think its power rangers but its really a spoof off of Shinesman), really show the voice range and artistic range albeit a little simple.
This show does have its high points but its also with its downsides. If you’re really into anime comedy, then this would be a good pickup, but even if you’re not into the comedy genre it still would not be bad to pickup and watch since there is the possibility of you seeing one of your favorite “classic” anime or genre get spoofed. You’ll see jokes coming from lolicon to androids, to poverty jokes, you’ll see a little of everything here. It’s definitely a different style of comedy and Nabeshin’s comedy style transfers very well to his other work, Nerima Daikon Brothers. This anime is not for most people but you’ll enjoy the ending
Manga/Anime: Excel Saga was originally an manga created by Rikdo Koshi. It began running in Young King OURS in the April 1997 issue, and is still running at this point in time, at. Viz has licensed it Stateside, and the sixteenth volume (and the latest volume to be compiled over in Japan) was released on September 11th, 2007.
The anime version was produced by JC Staff (best known for Revolutionary Girl Utena and Honey and Clover), and directed by Shinichi Watanabe (well-known for Nerima Daikon Brothers and Tenchi Muyo! GXP). It ran on TV from October 7th, 1999 to March 30th, 2000. It has been licensed by ADV Stateside, and the sixth and final volume was released April 8th, 2003.
Story: …Story? What story? xD
Basic plot follows ACROSS’ (leader Ilpalazzo and lackeys Excel and Hyatt) attempts to take over the world.
And really, that’s about it. Because each and every episode can be taken as a self-contained standalone (except for the last ones), and there’s almost no continuity, except in the characters, and one or two basic plot elements.
You see, this anime is a parody of every single genre/major show in the history of evah. Sports anime? Done. Youth drama? Done. Gundam? Done. Dragonball? Done. End of the world? …You get the idea. They even do an episode just to see how far they can violate TV censorship rules.
It’s got some good gags. But it’s not satire material. It’s still pretty well done, though.
Art: There’s not a lot to be said here, because it all depends on what they decide to mock each episode. xD But whatever they choose to mock, they do it well.
Music: The lyrics to the OP are hilarious, and the fact that they’re sung so horribly out of tune is the only reason the OP stands out. The ED stands out for the fact that it’s just a dog barking/woofing/howling, with a translator translating them into a human language for us.
The background music, as always, depends on what they’re trying to mock each episode. But as with the art style and story, it’s done well. I’ve still got some random themes bouncing around in my head…
Seiyuu: The big thing for this one is that they got Kotono Mitsuishi (Sailor Moon’s seiyuu) to do this, so when they do magical girl parodies, it’s even more hilarious, because in a way, she’s mocking herself (they even do some very specific mockings of Sailor Moon herself). xD They do this with several other seiyuu. Also, Ilpalazzo’s seiyuu is Hotohori’s seiyuu (from Fushigi Yuugi) and Touga Kiryuu’s seiyuu (Revolutionary Girl Utena), and his seiyuu is right up there with Joji Nakata for me. So, overall, WIN.
Length: I cannot think of a single genre or major show that they did not mock (and any ones that do come to mind are only because they were released after this). Plus, it starts to drag a little at the end. So, yeah, just right.
Overall: A pretty decent parody gag anime with awesome seiyuu and music.
Also, HAIL ILPALAZZO!!
Overall: 42/50; 84% (B)
5: Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
English: His and Her Circumstances
MAL Score: 7.60
Yukino Miyazawa is the female representative for her class and the most popular girl among the freshmen at her high school. Good at both academics and sports on top of being elegant and sociable, she has been an object of admiration all her life. However, in reality, she is an incredibly vain person who toils relentlessly to maintain her good grades, athleticism, and graceful appearance. She wants nothing more than to be the center of attention and praise—which is why she cannot stand Soichiro Arima, the male representative for her class and the only person more perfect than her. Since the first day of high school, she has struggled to steal the spotlight from her new rival but to no avail.
At last, on the midterm exams, Yukino gets the top score and beats Soichiro. But, to her surprise, he congratulates her on her achievement, leading her to question her deceptive lifestyle. When Soichiro confesses his love to Yukino, she turns him down and gloats about it at home with only a hint of regret. But the very next day, Soichiro visits Yukino house to bring her a CD and sees her uninhibited self in action; now equipped with the truth, he blackmails her into completing his student council duties. Coerced into spending time with Soichiro, Yukino learns that she is not the only one hiding secrets.
At first glance, Kare Kano is your average high school romance story. Thankfully, the odd personalities of the two leading characters break the idea of this just being another romance story. Kare Kano does contain the usual shoujo romance story elements when it comes to the trials for our main couple (jealous outsiders, temporary separation). But originality is able to come through with the way the leading characters handle their problems, often ending in a comedic resolve to their troubles. Besides the usual love trials, Kare Kano also features a number of interesting side stories about the support characters, so if you’re not a fan of the main couple, fear not, there are other amusing couples in the series as well. Unfortunately, Kare Kano’s story takes a nosedive with the lack of an ending. The last few episodes continue to build the plot up, but the series simply ends before anything can come out of the previous events. This is one of the greatest annoyances when it comes to Kare Kano, especially if one is not a manga reader.
The animation is more or less quite poor in Kare Kano. Taking into account this show is from 1998, anyone can easily see the budget was definitely not allocated to producing good animation. The first half of the show had its moments, the animation in this part of the series were acceptable. One of the techniques that the producers used was to cut out still images directly from the manga, which can be both a good and bad thing. Obviously this saves the producer a lot on cost of actual animation and some may think it is quite cheap of them. But I would think majority of people feel the black and white manga images added to the atmosphere of the show, especially in the moments they were used (which were when things became more serious). The second half of Kare Kano was when the animation began to lose its charm. More still images were constantly being used. Episode 19 of Kare Kano had the entire episode made up of cardboard cut outs, which were stuck on sticks and moved around (like a puppet show). The last five episodes were horrendous, a lot more of the manga pictures were being used, but rather then adding to the atmosphere, it just made the entire show feel cheap. The final episode barely had any animation at all, simply still images.
The sound in Kare Kano is one of its stronger points. The opening and ending have catchy pop songs that some may or may not like depending on their taste in music. There are also a number of enjoyable piano tunes in Kare Kano. All in all, the background music fitted well to the mood in this anime. A good pat on the back for the Japanese voice actors of Kare Kano as well. The VA for Yukino (the leading female) did a wonderful job in bringing out Yukino’s two faced personality, as did the VA for Arima (the leading male). If anything, the only complaint I have for the Japanese VAs was the one for the supporting character Tsubasa. I only felt her voice did not feel right.
Perhaps Kare Kano’s strongest point would be the characters. The leading couple is two somewhat eccentric two faced people (particularly the female) who pretty much break out of the stereotypical shoujo couple. The leading female, Yukino is an absolute riot to watch. You will witness her stressing over the smallest of things, unbelievable for someone who at first glance seemed to be the most perfect person you could find anywhere. Supporting characters such as Asaba and Tsubasa are also equally enjoying to watch as their odd personalities fit in perfectly with Kare Kano’s quirkiness. Character development is very thorough in Kare Kano, with even Yukino’s parents having screen time to develop their back stories. The only negative feature when it comes to the characters is that even towards the end of the show the characters are constantly built up with development, only to have the show end before anything could happen.
For why I enjoyed Kare Kano, I was previously a fan of the manga already. My favourite character would definitely have to be Yukino for her weirdo personality and decisions to solve her problems. I also really like the ending song, which I thought was perfect. Albeit I was definitely frustrated with how the show ended. The terrible animation was just painful for me to watch (especially the last 6 or so episodes). And I thought it was a poor decision on the producer’s part to end the show like it would end every other episode, and slap on a “The End”. I mean, nothing ended at all.
Overall, despite its obvious flaws Kare Kano still manages to be a favourite amongst the shoujo lovers for its interesting array of characters and somewhat unique storyline for the main couple. If you aren’t normally fond of stereotypical high school love stories, try giving Kare Kano a try. It’s recommended though to continue with the manga after watching the anime if you want to see how the story ends, since you won’t find any ending from here. So yeah, If you like comedy, romance, weird characters and high school settings then Kare Kano will probably be for you.
His and Her Circumstance, Kareshi Kanojo no Jijyou, Kare Kano, whatever you want to call it, there is one important thing you should know about this romantic comedy: not once at all does the male lead accidentally faceplant into the female lead’s breasts, nor does he accidentally see her naked when her towel slips off, nor does his hand by chance find its way onto her butt.
Instead, they have sex.
And this is what sets Kare Kano apart from all the other romance anime that have come out in the last decade or two. Those anime are not romantic comedies, they are comedies with sexual tension. The romance in Kare Kano is real romance. Yukino and Souichiro’s relationship is treated realistically, seriously. They meet, they fall in love, things progress. It has a remarkable authenticity, especially in the early episodes.
The comedy element works, too. Yukino Miyazawa, who obsesses over being the perfect student, gets snapped back into reality by a rival perfect student, Souichiro Arima. But while she is left dejected, he ends up smitten. The comedy is character-based, feeding off the hesitation and awkwardness from the two teens as they muddle their way into a romance. Yukino’s family also provides good comic material, especially in the parents, who had their daughters a little too early in life. Other character types are explored: the sassy athletic girl, the jealous girl, the cute guy who’s hard to figure out, etc. But these side characters don’t get in the way of Yukino and Souchiro’s story.
The series is based on Masami Tsuda’s manga, and its weakness is its format. Even with the legendary Hideaki Anno of Neon Genesis: Evangelion fame at the helm, the series suffers from a lack of budget and abundance of static images. Scenes that read quickly on Tsuda’s pages get stretched as filler on screen. The most annoying thing about it are the episode recaps, which on a couple of occasions approach the three minute mark. That’s three minutes that the writers unfortunately couldn’t fill. The budget only gets worse as the series progresses, and when we get to the final episode it’s almost unbelievable that they go as far as they do. No colors, no animation, just line drawings. No full cast either, just two narrators.
The series ends not even halfway through the full 21-volume run of the manga. What the series does cover it covers quite accurately, so the story itself is as strong as the pages of the book, but Kare Kano, for all the quality they could squeeze out of it, remains rough and unfinished. The anime is enjoyable, but I highly recommend reading the manga.
Miyazawa and Arima are one of the most interesting couples in anime. Both suffer from psychological issues and create a fake persona to use in public. As the series progresses, both must learn to discard their masks and be truthful with themselves and each other. Miyazawa has a bad inferiority complex. She is jealous that she isn’t naturally a genius or athletic, so she spends all her effort trying to trick others into thinking she is. She has a low self esteem and has a pathological need for constant praise. Without it, she would fall into a helpless depression. Arima was born to abusive parents who were a disgrace to his wealthy, extended family. He is so terrified that he will become like his parents or that people will associate him with his parents, that he creates an angelic persona. Even though many of his extended family hate him anyways, he must act perfectly or he fears he will lose the love of his aunt and uncle who raised him. We create masks to deceive others into thinking we’re better than we actually are. However, no good can ever come of lying to yourself.
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – The Brothers Karamazov
Besides the excellent main couple, His and Her breaks free of several constraints that anime places on itself. Both main characters actually have family that you meet! I want you to think about how rare that is. I’ve seen over 950 anime and less than 10 of them have 2 main characters that each have a father, mother, and siblings that we meet. Anime characters always are orphans or only have a mother or their parents are overseas. Despite the great emphasis that Japan places on family, anime is paradoxically terrified of portraying families!
You know what other taboo this show breaks? The 2 main characters ACTUALLY HAVE SEX in a shoujo anime! If you’re new to anime, you probably can’t appreciate how rare this is. Space Brothers lasts 99 episodes and the main couple never have sex or get physical in any way. Nodame Cantabile is the same way. What about Spice and Wolf, which always makes the top 5 for best couple in anime? Nope! No sex, no kissing, nothing. You sit through 26 episodes of economics lectures to watch the main couple get together and…you get a Wonka ending. “You get NOTHING! You LOSE! Good Day Sir!” The only anime I can think of where the main couple have sex are Berserk (good example) and Future Diary (bad example). As a shoujo, His and Her stands alone in completely unexplored waters.
Finally, you get all the psychology and character drama of Eva without suffering through the most laughably obscurantist plot in the history of anime. A plot filled to the brim with half baked ideas and homages to ancient mecha like Ideon. The central conflict of the entire series is that the Angels are attacking humans. After 26 episodes you never learn why. After Death/Rebirth and End of Eva, you STILL don’t know why. If you want to learn basic, essential plot details without consulting the internet, you have to watch the reboot movies, buy the 15 video games and the Japanese Daizenshuu. Can you imagine any other work of art that’s held in any esteem getting away with that shit? “Yeah Bro! I just finished Werckmeister Harmonies. Now I need to beat the video game in order to make sense of it! I got through the circus level, but the whale boss keeps kicking my ass!”
The character art is shit. I can’t tell which characters are adults and which are children. Miyazawa’s parents don’t look any older than her younger siblings.
Due to massive budget issues, the first 5 minutes of every episode are a recap using previous animation. That way, they only have to animate 17 minutes of new footage each episode. Even that wasn’t enough, so we get popsicle stick characters and animation that’s so bare bones it’s a joke. Also episode 13 is entirely recap. What the FUCK was wrong with Gainax and meeting their budgets? I think they must have blown all their cash on cocaine and hookers.
The secondary characters aren’t really that great. They don’t get enough time to really develop, but do get just enough time to steal from the main characters in a way that hurts the show.
The original mangaka HATED this adaptation and apparently thought it was pretentious. So she drove down to Gainax, screamed at Anno, and pulled the plug on a second season. Anno went into a deep depression and walked off the series after episode 18. The rest of the anime after that point is garbage. Even the most diehard fans of this show don’t watch episodes 19-26. It’s like the Post-Kyoto Arc part of the Rurouni Kenshin anime. It’s so bad it doesn’t exist in the minds of the fans.
His and Her Circumstances isn’t a series for everyone. However, if you have patience and can get over its shortcomings, you will witness one of the most unique and moving romances in anime! Hell, it just might be the greatest anime that Hideaki Anno has ever made (that isn’t Re: Cutie Honey). I can’t get my offline friends to watch this one, and half my online friends dislike it. However, I love this anime and beg anyone who hasn’t seen it to try it out!
4: Digimon Adventure
English: Digimon: Digital Monsters
MAL Score: 7.77
When a group of seven children go to summer camp, the last thing that they expect is snow falling in July. In the confusion that follows this phenomenon, they each receive an odd device that transports them to another world. As soon as they wake up in this new world, they encounter strange creatures who call themselves “Digimon.” The Digimon tell them that they’ve landed in the “Digital World,” far from home.
With only the Digimon and the “Digivices” as protection, the seven children set off to find their way home and learn the reason why they were brought here. Led by the impulsive Taichi Yagami and his hungry Digimon partner Agumon, this group will have to fight unknown evils as they discover more about this outlandish Digital World.
As a fan of both Digimon and Pokémon, I don’t see how it’s impossible to like both shows even though at the time I loved Pokémon to death and still do. They may have their similarities, but they are two vastly different creatures who just happen to inhabit the same genre. In fact, despite my love for Pokémon, I find Digimon to be immensely better in the anime department (the games not so much, ironically).
Story (8): Seven young kids go to camp for the summer, and wound up living in a digital land where they meet creatures called Digimon (short for Digital Monster) that evolve—called “Digivolving”—through six stages: Baby, In-Training, Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, and Mega. They use Digivolving and power of friendship to save the digital world from evil.
That’s the simple, cliché response. In reality, Digimon goes much deeper than that, and it soon stood out from the other shounen ‘Mon shows of the time. It still retains that cliché plot, but the thing about clichés is that there are different ways of playing with them, to help separate it from another similar clichéd plot. This doesn’t automatically make the writing in Digimon perfect, there’s always going to be flaws, but it makes it more watchable (or tolerable) than other similar shows.
Yes, seven kids (later it became eight) end up going into a digital world where they meet their Digimon partners. However, these kids end up discovering, or re-discovering themselves and grow up as characters to be better people. The Digimon technically don’t change, although they are catalysts, and they do become stronger based on the inner strength of their partner. It’s a form of teamwork, but more along the lines of “Believe in me who believes in you”.
But why were they sent to the Digital World? Because they are the Chosen: the DigiDestined who will save the Digital World from the bad Digimon who will do anything in their power to take over the world. Digimon was originally supposed to be about 13-26 episodes, however, high ratings in Japan was encouraging enough for Toei to continue for a total of 54 episodes. The series is thus commonly split into arcs named after the big bad: Devimon, Etemon, Vamdemon (Myotismon), and the Dark Masters. Each arc has its own fans, but typically the general consensus agrees the Myotismon arc is the highlight of the series.
Outside of your typical friendship and teamwork, Digimon is not afraid to tackle themes such as death, divorce, adoption, and fear of losing a loved one, and for a kids’ show (especially given the time), it approaches them with maturity. And the average dub-hater will be pleasantly surprised to learn just how much Saban got away with all in a time where not even 4KIDS themselves wanted to touch such subjects (usually). Sure, Digimon has its share of censorship in the States, but only on an outward-appearance level (again, usually). Luckily, the script stays fairly true to the original while it developed Saban’s signature gag dub trait, so a lot of the themes and atmosphere of the series remained. Still, the choice to watch the sub or dub rests all on the viewer, either are fine choices, both have their gains and losses.
Art/Animation (6): Let’s totally be honest here, Digimon has a small budget, and it shows (Toei Animation has this problem a lot, it seems). Stock animation is rampant throughout the series, and there’s off-model moments and other animation errors, but they typically try not to let you notice, and for the most part, they worked the best they could within their budget. As a digitally-colored show (heh, digital), the colors and line-art is clean, albeit kind of flat due to lack of lighting more often than not. The backgrounds (well, backdrops) stand out to me the most with this show in how everything looks holographic—in the Digital World, anyway, as the real world looks more normal, and thus more “real”. It’s a stylistic choice that I feel is a staple to this show. Character designs are unique to the series in that everyone is distinguishable (big traits that stick out to me are the eyes, hair, and how big their hands and shoes/feet are—which is admittedly weird), and monster designs are varied from Digimon to Digimon. This helps them stick out in a line-up of other shounen anime, as well as pave the way for merchandise.
However, due to the small budget, the art is dated compared to later Digimon seasons, and even other anime of the time. The CGI Digivolutions in particular are the worst offenders (although for the time, it wasn’t all that bad). The only exception I can think of where the animation was stellar and holds up very nicely (as well as go beyond its usual budget) was episode 21 when Mamoru Hosoda directed the episode.
Sound (9): Sound-effects in general are generic, however, the beeps, drones, and screeches of the Digivice stand out the most in that department—I would go so far as to say it’s iconic to the series. The soundtrack itself is spectacular. Composed by the late Takanori Arisawa, Digimon’s soundtrack is full of adventure and wonder, while being almost in an electronic/techno genre to give it a more digital feel. Every DigiDestined has their own insert song, and character score—two versions, to be exact—not really unheard of in such shows, but it’s a big deal to Digimon. Villains even have their own character songs, if not theme scores, and they are wonderfully kept in character. The opening theme, “Butter-Fly” by Wada Kouji, is honestly one of the best anime theme songs in a kids’ show (if not in anime in general), perhaps one of the more recognizable from the intro alone this side of Pokémon. “Brave Heart” by Ayumi Miyazaki is also well-known as the Digivolution theme song.
Saban Entertainment, like most dubbing companies of the time, composed their own music. By themselves, the musical score is good, it’s clear they got talent in the musical department. However, the editor(s) of the episodes completely went overboard with the music and just slapped pieces together to fill up the entire episode, rarely leaving a single scene quiet. But the musical score isn’t as well-known as the ungodly catchy, simplistic theme song, simply titled “Digimon Are the Champions”. And now you have the English theme song in your head. You’re welcome. Bonus points if you can see the intro play out in your head.
Voice-acting in the original is solid, though likewise with the English dub, some voices don’t really fit the character. It’s thankfully few and far in-between, and it’s not like the voice acting is terrible. However, because I’m not fluent in Japanese, I’m slightly biased when it comes to voices regardless if that was the original intent on the casting director or not, thus I cannot judge them just based on how they sound alone. I do personally feel there are voices that work best in the original, while others are enhanced better in the English dub.
Speaking of, given the time, the English dub is surprisingly phenomenal with a great voice-cast—yes, a late-90s kids’ anime has an amazing English dub, script and soundtrack aside. It took a bit for the directors and voice actors to get comfortable with the show, but they were able to bring the characters to life in their own special way. Many of them were in the field for years prior to Digimon, and are well-known to the anime community: Joshua Seth, Michael Reynolds, Edie Mirman, Mona Marshall, Derek Stephen Prince, and Lara Jill Miller (at this time, she was well-known from NBC’s “Gimme a Break!”, her being cast in Digimon happened at the same time she returned to Hollywood) stand out best in memory, but many of the cast is well-done. However, as I said before, it, too, has its share of voices that just don’t work out. This is more-or-less limited to side-Digimon that you don’t see often outside of one or two episodes, so it’s the main cast I have more praise towards (though Mimi is a bit of an exception in some areas—Ai Maeda in the original makes Mimi more likeable/listenable than Philece Sampler).
Characters (9): This is where Digimon truly sticks out as a show. It’s very uncommon to find a show with as equally-complex and diverse a cast as Digimon Adventure. The eight main children made this show, even though their Digimon are good characters in their own right and serve as great foils/combos with their human partners.
The characters are as follows: Taichi “Tai” Yagami (Kamiya), the leader of the group who acts before he thinks (but isn’t stupid); Yamato “Matt” Ishida, the cool-headed big brother of a lone wolf; Sora Takenouchi, the motherly tomboy; Koushirou “Izzy” Izumi, the young, know-it-all technical wizard; Mimi Tachikawa, a spoiled, rich girl who never hesitates to speak her mind, but has her heart in the right place; Joe Kido, the more down-to-earth of the children who has a paternal side to him; Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi, Matt’s younger brother who provides a more innocent outlook to the world; and Hikari “Kari” Yagami (Kamiya), Tai’s younger sister who is good-natured and soft-spoken.
Each of them have a backstory, and their own inner demons (well, maybe not so much with Kari according to some folks). Among the eight, any of them can be relatable to the viewer. Many of them struggle to become better, more mature people, but they aren’t alone. The Digimon partners: Agumon, Gabumon, Piyomon (Biyomon), Tentomon, Palmon, Gomamon, Patamon, and Tailmon (Gatomon). They, too, grow as characters and have their own personality, although it’s Gatomon (and possibly Patamon) who has the most character development. But their main role as Digimon partners is to protect and be supportive, and for the most part, they fulfill their duties. They are likewise the mascots of the series, and yet are more than just pieces of data.
Meanwhile, partner-less Digimon play important roles to the story, perhaps even more-so than the human protagonists. Some examples (off the top of my head) are Leomon, Ogremon, Piximon, Wizardmon, Myotismon, Etemon, Pumpkinmon, and Gotsumon. These characters had depth despite being in a few episodes at the least, but they also were just that memorable to the point they have fans to this day.
Special mention goes to the children’s parents for adding a depth to the show most kids’ shows don’t do. Parents in Digimon were very supportive of their children, as well as loving, but were also the most human. While they don’t go through the same experiences as their children (for the most part), it still affects them greatly to let their children go and save the world without knowing why it is they have to. They had to put their trust in them, and thus they (and the writers) gain my respect when they could’ve been like every other adult in similar kids’ shows. If somehow the children don’t grow on you, then perhaps their parents will.
Enjoyment (10): It’s truly a damn shame Digimon has never gotten as popular as Pokémon. Both franchises were being worked on at the exact same time, neither creator knowing of each other, and yet it was Pokémon that was finished first, and would overshadow every other ‘Mon show that would come out since. Is it possible to blame bad timing for why it is Digimon has to constantly work to get noticed? Maybe. But how do we know Pokémon wouldn’t have gone through the same ridicule had it been Digimon that came out first? How do we know that Digimon would have gotten the same popularity? Would it still have struggled? Would it have been a worldwide phenomenon?
Do I wish Digimon would have a bigger audience? Truly, I do, it clearly deserves recognition and praise. However, at the same time, I feel it was a good thing Digimon has remained rather… quiet under many people’s radars. For one thing, it felt more special to me, as a kid, to know that as sad as it was, the show was more for me (and my brothers) than anyone else. I didn’t want the magic and wonder of Digimon to be sucked up by anyone else, I wanted to experience it all for myself. In my mind, everyone else had to be just as special to like it as much as I did.
Another reason I’m kind of glad it stayed low was unlike with Pokémon, Digimon has never really been accused of the same things its rival went through (at least, that I know of). If it had, I don’t think Digimon would have survived. Pokémon had Nintendo, tons of merchandise, and millions of children (and dollars) to back it up. What did Digimon have? Fox Kids? Saban? Toei Animation? Some of Pokémon’s percentage of fans? What good would any of those have done to keep Digimon afloat against the onslaught of attacks?
Even with the cheesiness of a gag dub, I still find Digimon to be highly enjoyable. Yes, the original Japanese is superior in everything, but the English dub is special, even if highly subjective, and thus I can’t forsake the dub. It’s just as memorable as Pokémon’s dub, and yet though I managed to find a way for Pokémon and Digimon to co-exist as friendly rivals, it’s the better of the two (although I honestly would have a hard time picking my most favorite). Saban Entertainment took good care of Digimon at this time, and I thank them for that. It’s the only thanks I can really give them besides “Thanks for Samurai Pizza Cats” and “Thanks for the Fox Kids block”.
In the end, I think “Butter-Fly” says it best for Digimon as a whole (translated):
“After an endless dream, in this world of nothingness
It seems as if our beloved dreams will lose
Even with these unreliable wings, covered in images that tend to stay
I’m sure we can fly, on my love”
Second, I have to say I’m utterly disappointed with the score Digimon Adventure has. 7 is not a bad score, but is way below of what I expected. This is a kid show, and as such it should be scored as how satisfaying it can be to kids, just as how shonnen should be scored as how they satisfy their teen audience, seinen their older audience, and so on. I feel like many are comparing and scoring anime without any filter, as if you could score this anime a 5 just because you compare it with Code Geass or Shingeki no Kyojin, which are 9 if not 10s. And that’s unfair. Digimon Adventure is a stand out in what refers to kid shows and I’ll explain why point by point.
Story wise: It is very well constructed, and smartly thought through; there are misteries that are unveiled as we move forward, and every revelation is handled with care and it is affected by how the characters feel about it. There are plenty shows that just try to be awesome by delievering mistery after mistery and revelation after revelation with no care of their characters whatsoever and fall flat in making any emotional resonance, but it’s not this one. The story is tightly attached to its main 8 characters and their digimon, while giving us the sense of many plots developing under their nose, but strickly related to them. The first 10 episodes are introductory, a prologue if you may, and then we go fully into know what the world they are in is and how it affects ours. Sure, some people could say “why wait 10 episodes to get to real deal?” For starters, those 10 episodes are not bad at all, they are very entertaining and they give us a sense of adventure (hence the title) and exploration that this anime wants us to feel, and it passes with flying colors. The following 44 episodes follow 3 different story arcs, but all related to the same story plot, all of them linked together, with every single episode affecting the following ones, which mean there is no such thing as filler episode, and that’s something we should applaude, as not many kid shows are willing to leave a filler comfort zone (I’m looking at you Pokemon).
Characters: Here is where this anime shines brightly. Character development is at its finest here. Each character has a distinctive personality, quirks and even tics that make them feel real, or at the very least smartly outlined. At first we get broadstrokes, but as we pass episode by episode there’s an incredible development in each character; they are distinctive from each other and they never act out of characters, their actions are not made in order to move the plot forward, but rather to show us who these kids are, which is great, as many animes (and not just kid shows) tend to sacrifice character insight in order to get the plot moving; this one doesn’t. They will always move accordingly to their personalities and we get to see all of them develop. While some others shows would mainly develop 3 or 4 of their main characters, all 8 get to grow in each episode by what happen to them, and even they realize how they grow (and even how they don’t, how they might be stuck) and how much they have to move forward.
There’s a cute concept here that is “values are power” and each character has a distinctive value, may it be courage, friendship, love, sincerity, love, and so on. They grow around these values, but they also get lost in sight of them, when they try to push them they fail as opposed when they let it flow naturally it always work. It’s a wonderful lesson for kids, and it is something we all should add to our daily life, it would make this world better. But putting that aside and returning to the characters, there is not even one that’s left undeveloped, all of them have satisfaying characters arcs.
Sound/Music: Digimon has a beautiful soundtrack. Wada Kouji was a talented musician (rest in peace) and scored some really great songs that made you dream. Digimon is a series that aims for kids to dream and to learn the power of values as well to portraying excellent character development and mature themes explained to them, and as such it needs the right score at the right time, and Wada Kouji just got it right, from Butterfly to Brave Heart, even using classic music as Ravel, the timing is just perfect and while there are surely better OST, this one is among the better ones.
Enjoyment: it is highly satisfaying! I’m 21 years old and as I re-watched Digimon after 12 years I enjoyed it as much as I did when I was 9, and that’s because I could realize how well constructed it was. Besides, it made feel like a llittle kid again. The plots are smart, the character development is spot on, the music is gorgous, the art may lack a little now and then, but is never too bothersome, and the evolutions are damn right exciting and funny! And so I could keep praising it until I’m left out of words. But I think I made my point.
In conclusion: This is defenitely the best Digimon series, as it is the one that gets all plot, character, music and themes right, and delivers them in a highly satisfaying manner. As such, it deserves to be acclaimed, and a 7 is a low score for it.
Is this a realistic anime? No, not at all, but it’s not meant to be anyway. It is an anime that is meant to make us dream. You can’t compare it to, say for instance, Shingeky no Kyojin which explore fantasy elements as realistic as possible or Code Geass, which explores character insight in the midst of war and revolutions. No, of course no, those are targeted for an older audience. But Digimon Adventure is no less satisfaying, and that’s because while it aims for children, one can always appreciate how smartly thought are the storylines and the characters development. It is a show that knows its potential and limitations, accepts them and just aim to be the best it can be, which result in being an awesomely made kid show.
All in all, we have to see Digimon Adventure for what it is and not for what we might want to be. And as on what it is, it is straight awesome.
Like most lengthy anime series it starts off fairly slow, and like most shows in general it has a lot of typical things you’d expect from a show of this genre. Chosen children in a faraway land, partnered with strange creatures, that need to prevent the evil from destroying the world. We’ve all seen it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be well done enough to be damn good in the process.
Starting off with the kids searching for a way home it’s pretty episodic and gets into a pretty standard pattern for the first 15 episodes or so. But after that they begin the next adventure, searching for their respective Crests. Another small series of episodic episodes, but they’re interesting enough that you wouldn’t notice that; and they’re all truly just a springboard that launches the show from ‘fine’ to ‘very good’ on my scale. Introducing Vamdemon (Myotismon for you dub people) and starting the search for the eighth Chosen Child.
It’s here that the story takes a much darker tone, and it only gets darker as it goes on. The show pulls no punches, and though it’s aimed at children it doesn’t insult your intelligence (or at least in Japanese it doesn’t). Though there can be a slight cheese factor in some of the more emotional parts, it’s done well enough that you won’t mind and might even find yourself smiling at the very thing you might have rolled your eyes at.
Even with all the improvements today I still find this art really impressive, and I even prefer it in some instances. There’s a strange realistic feeling to all the characters, sure most have the typical accessories to tell you they’re from an anime but I wouldn’t find it hard to believe if they were based on real kids. But in a show with evolving and fighting monsters who cares how the characters look right, we wanna see wicked awesome monsters!!… Savages, all of you; alright, lets get to the monsters.
They’re awesome, to say the least, there may have been one or two creature designs out of them all that I’d consider lame or stupid. And in a show consisting of 54 episodes and dozens upon dozens of monsters, that’s damn good. The evolutions are awesome, the only ones that are a little lame are the 4 CG ones; it’s not too bad though, considering when the show was made (they’re also not very long). But now to move away from the creature designs, I’ll talk briefly about the background designs, which I found to be incredibly pleasant compared to over a dozen other shows I’ve seen.
Though each background doesn’t exactly stand out in any particular ways, it’s the simple fact that they blend in so well that I like them. They’re designed well enough that they look like scenery, you pay attention to it to get a grasp of what’s around the characters and move on; it still sticks in your mind but it’s not taking over the screen, it’s not exploding to try and be noticed, it’s simply doing the duty of being background scenery. I also found that for a show from the 90’s there’s a surprisingly low amount of re-used footage. Sure there’s the occasional ‘yeah I’ve seen that Mega Flame before’, but for the most part each one fresh and reflects the scenery around it.
It’s strange that a show about elementary school children would have a fairly large amount of character development and depth, but that’s Digimon Adventure for you. Each of the Chosen Children has their own issues, their own past that’s slowly explored as the series progresses, and by the end they’ve all developed into fully grown characters. They’re all clever enough to question situations and surroundings, but they’re only in elementary school so they all still have the charm and innocence of childhood.
But people aren’t the only characters here, no no, the Digimon have their own personalities too. Which are, in some ways, better than the children in my opinion. Though the children grow and change as characters, and the Digimon basically stay the same, they’re still a high point and occasionally contribute a large part of the humor or drama in many episodes.
Ungodly catchy. The Japanese intro and outros are both very good, so good that I’ve even downloaded them and added them to my iPods playlist of anime songs. Though they are very good, and catchy, they’re nothing too spectacular. The audio during the show is also pretty standard, with most of those songs being ungodly catchy as well; awesome, but still nothing too great.
For a show that I once would have only given a five out of ten I’m so glad I went back and watched it over again with the proper audio. To charm me still after ten years have gone by it truly goes to show that this show is something people of all ages can watch and enjoy.
A very good anime that’s sadly under appreciated. Though not perfect, Digimon Adventures is definitely worth watching, or re-watching; especially if you read this whole review!!
3: One Piece
English: One Piece
Japanese: ONE PIECE
MAL Score: 8.59
Gol D. Roger was known as the “Pirate King,” the strongest and most infamous being to have sailed the Grand Line. The capture and execution of Roger by the World Government brought a change throughout the world. His last words before his death revealed the existence of the greatest treasure in the world, One Piece. It was this revelation that brought about the Grand Age of Pirates, men who dreamed of finding One Piece—which promises an unlimited amount of riches and fame—and quite possibly the pinnacle of glory and the title of the Pirate King.
Enter Monkey D. Luffy, a 17-year-old boy who defies your standard definition of a pirate. Rather than the popular persona of a wicked, hardened, toothless pirate ransacking villages for fun, Luffy’s reason for being a pirate is one of pure wonder: the thought of an exciting adventure that leads him to intriguing people and ultimately, the promised treasure. Following in the footsteps of his childhood hero, Luffy and his crew travel across the Grand Line, experiencing crazy adventures, unveiling dark mysteries and battling strong enemies, all in order to reach the most coveted of all fortunes—One Piece.
As for the art style, it’s true, it’s completely different from almost anything else I’ve seen. Much more “cartoonish” and maybe not what you’d expect from an anime. Despite that, you end up loving it. I wouldn’t even say that you have to “get used to it” because it’s not something that detracts from the rest of the series in any way. It didn’t even take me two episodes before I was thoroughly enjoying it and seeing it as a fresh, new style, exciting almost and unlike anything I’d experienced before. Now, some 300+ episodes later, I can’t remember ever NOT liking it, or even why I would have. Especially now with One Piece being aired in high definition, the art is crisp, clean, colorful – VERY sharp and wonderful to look at.
Now that we’ve got those two points out of the way…
One Piece is actually one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, anime or otherwise. The plot is pretty basic at first. Monkey D. Luffy has just set out on his own to find the legendary treasure ‘one piece’ and become Pirate King, and he’s looking for a crew to sail with him. You’ll find yourself falling in love with each and every new member as Luffy finds them. They’re all extremely well developed, with interesting backgrounds and unique, fun personalities. They form one very quirky crew that’s always discovering new adventures and somehow getting themselves into trouble as they strive to achieve their dreams. Each main story arc introduces new minor characters as well, and they’re just as much fun and easy to fall in love with as the Straw Hat crew. Not one character is left out or feels like they’re there for no reason. Everyone has a purpose and adds to the storyline, and one of the really cool things about One Piece is that these ‘purposes’ often resurface at later points in the series. No detail is left untouched, and you’ll seriously be amazed by the way Oda threads together plots and characters and blends all their stories perfectly the more the series progresses.
The plot itself, though fairly straightforward at first like I said, quickly evolves into something HUGE. Much of the beginning of the series is dedicated to forming the crew and letting you get to know the characters, though it’s definitely never lacking in action, but once they reach the Grand Line, you’re swept up in adventure after adventure and following some of the most fantastic story arcs you’ll ever watch. The battles and fights are well-paced, with the final boss fight almost always being completely EPIC. But even through the action, One Piece never quite loses it’s lighthearted, humorous edge. The episodes are sprinkled with PLENTY of funny moments, never too many and never too few. There’s always a wonderful balance of action and humor.
One Piece also has its fair share of heart-wrenching moments, which may take you by surprise! There are some EXTREMELY powerful scenes and episodes that kind of blindside you and leave you wondering when you became quite so emotionally attached to certain characters or other things. I’ve definitely found myself near tears or actually crying at more than one point. One Piece has it all – amazing characters, the never-ending yet never TOO over-the-top humor, exciting battles, fun adventures, heartbreaking moments with quick to follow touching moments. And underneath everything, there’s always the theme of friendship and teamwork, of working to reach your dreams and helping those closest to you achieve theirs, of growing and maturing as a person and discovering the power within yourself to overcome obstacles of any sort, of just BEING THERE for the rest of your crew when they need you – of being NAKAMA.
In a word, One Piece is perfect. And perhaps I’m just biased, being an obviously OBSESSED fan at this point, haha, but what can I say? It’s been running for 344 episodes so far and not ONCE have I wondered or hoped that it would start to reach an end. It is, simply put, amazing.
So why should you watch One Piece?
Because you’re missing out on one hell of a fantastic show if you don’t at least give it a try.
But not all share the same views as I do, lets remedy that, shall we?
A long time ago, there live a fearsome pirate king who goes by the name of Gold D. Roger. He was able to attain everything. But alas he was captured and sentenced to execution. In the brink of death, he proclaimed that he left the great treasure, One Piece, somewhere in the Grand Line and it is for anyone to claim. This event ignited the Great Pirate Age.
In the world of One Piece, there is such a thing as a Devil Fruit. A devil fruit is a fruit bearing some supernatural ability and whoever devours it will get a unique ability however its origins are unknown. There are three types of Devil Fruit, Paramecia, a fruit that can materialize your body into a property. Zoan, a fruit that gives humans the ability of a certain animal, but if its an animal, it gives the ability of humans. And the last but certainly not the least Logia, is a fruit that makes the consumer manifest a certain element. But of course nothing is perfect. If you eat any of the Devil Fruit, you will be rendered immobilize when submerge in the water.
And where is our protagonist? The anime revolves around our mentally impaired boy, Monkey D. Luffy or a.k.a The Straw Hat Pirate(title came from his worn-out straw hat that he always have on). When our boy here ate a devil fruit that turns the consumer’s body into rubber, he sets off to find Shanks, his pirate idol to return his straw hat as promise and find One Piece to be able to earn the title of Pirate King. Along the way he gathers all kinds of oddballs for his crew, The Straw Hat Pirates.
Now how exactly is One Piece different from the hundreds of shounen out there. Well, it isnt. It is exactly what a shounen should be. It follows the lose-train-win formula. So how is it any better? Bingo. Because it incorporates the formula into something fresh and simple.
One Piece arcs can be surprisingly good. There were even times that I was shocked at some plot twists and revelations. It has a very interesting setting as well. And what might that be? The World. The whole world is One Piece’s oyster. It varies from vast, scorching deserts to cold snowy mountains, the concept of adventure here is well defined, it really makes you feel that world isnt small after all. And that my friend, is what an adventure anime should really be.
One Piece knows how to pull it off, be it comedy or serious, and believe me, One Piece knows how to be serious when it needs to be. But it never forgets its roots at the same time, and that is the emphasis of friendship and the bond of Nakama/Friends that glues the whole crew together.
Most shounen anime’s suffers immensely from originality. Because of this, it is hard to distinguish characters from each other, especially in my case as I have my fair share as an otaku. And most of the characters in em lack depth and substance, its hard to remember a character when you know very little about him. But One Piece is immune from this disease. Each character of One Piece is very… say….unique that you’ll find it hard to forget about them. They all have their individual motives, strengths, weakness and even quirky traits. Plus, each individual of the Straw Hat Pirate Crew has an immersing past, that’ll be hard for you not to get delve into. And they all have a certain role, not one character gets overshadowed by the other. They do meaningful interactions with each other. And regardless, that each member is vastly different from each other, they all formed a formidable bond. Even the by-passing characters are memorable.
In contrast to the majority, I find the animation to be creative. Just like how the characters are different and distinguishable. Unfortunately people see it as something of a turn off, and quickly judges One Piece as something infantile. I am not going to lie. One Piece will not go beyond the borders of a shounen. It is not mature. But thats not the point here. An anime doesnt need to be ripe to be good. It just needs to be entertaining. Although I do enjoy a deep, thought-provoking anime, an anime doesnt need to be complex to be satisfying. It can be anything, as long as it offers gratification. And One Piece does.
Another potential problem is its popularity. Most people consider mainstream anime’s to be somewhat of a failure because of its targeted demographic, and that is everyone. "If its able to attract toddlers, then it sucks" that seems to be case for most people. Some people neglect any anime that is able to summon countless little children in its area, thus abruptly convicting it as over-rated. Heck, some people even constantly hunts threads, just to be able to crack Narutard jokes off some newcomer. Do not judge One Piece from its fans. Judge it for what it is.
Do not be mistaken, I am not saying One Piece is for everyone. In the end, its all about taste. But if your have any hint of love for shounen surging in your veins, there is no reason for you not to watch this, not one bit.
In short, the plot is very promising, the main cast is several but well flesh out, the battles are very diverse, and engaging and the comedy doesnt get old, even after 300 episodes. But One Piece is not a masterpiece. It does not break any ground whatsoever. No matter how you see it, its still your typical shounen.
Regardless of this, the level of enjoyment I receive from One Piece is insurmountable. And sometimes thats all you need. Scratch that. Most of the time that’s all you need.
If I were to say anything bad (and I will have to do that as this review is not a positive one) about this anime that would not offend the hardcore fans (and I know there are a lot) is that it’s PAINFULLY slow.
Even if you leave the fillers aside, still- the plot itself progresses in such a slow pace that it’s rather hard to watch. Now for a younger audience it may not matter that much, but to me as a higher age audience, it matters greatly, after all, out of the 23~ minutes of each episode 3 are spent on opening and ending (which is usual I guess), but in most episodes, roughly 5 (!) or more minutes are spent on a recap of the current story arc, as if the creators of the show forgot it’s a shounen anime and instead got the idea that the audience are elderly people with Alzheimer.
But ok, this means there is still 15 minutes left per episode right? Well, not really. In most episodes, the heroes get separated. When they do, the anime tries to keep track of ALL of them simultaneously, cutting every few minutes. This wouldn’t be so bad IF after the cut, the same exact scene did not repeat itself (example – a few seconds that show one of the main heroes standing and looking at a place/ villain that is shown from a few angles. Then the anime continues elsewhere, and when it comes back to the same place, the same exact scene is shown). That may not sound as much, but in drastic cases that can sum up to a few minutes (the worst case I bothered to count was almost 4 minutes of time wasted on watching the same scene). Combined with a lot of other tricks, I’d say that a lot of episodes are left with about 11 minutes of actual content on average. That is simply dreadful.
Now to say some positive things for contrast- the story is actually very interesting and the characters are well done… BUT, no matter how good something is, if you drag it out too much (and this is indeed the case with One Piece), even the best story in the world and the best characters possible (not to say one piece has neither of those.. The story is great, and the characters are good, but not more) will not keep you entertained, and turn even the best story possible into a boring experience.
Now back to the negatives. NO ONE DIES IN THIS ANIME. This is of course an exaggeration, as some people actually do die in this anime BUT only when it’s critical to the plot. At all the other times, the characters “die” just to add drama and to come back a few scenes later.. Sometimes to “die” again and add even more “drama” (added “” because at this point its more awkward/silly after one time rather than dramatic). The worst case of this I saw was with Brownbeard who “died” something like 5 times over 2-3 episodes (if I remember right), and still stayed alive in the end while the show tried to suck as much drama out of this as possible. And this brings me to the next point- fake drama. They seem to try and squeeze out as much of it as possible, at every opportunity they get. From crying children (and adults) to characters repeatedly “dying” and to the most cliche tearjerkers possible at every turn of the story. They even go as far as to try and make the villain’s henchmen AND EVEN THE VILLAIN himself have a tragic past that you are supposed to relate to and feel sorry for (because seems a villain can’t just be evil because that is just the way he is, he had to become evil because something bad happened (lol, how about sheer ignorance or plain greed for wealth or power?)… and we apparently MUST know. for both villains and side characters that we’ll never even see again). Also I mentioned crying.. There is an unbelievable amount of it in this anime. And that would be ok (I guess) if
A- they did not try to milk it for drama (yep, that’s a word that sure gets a lot of use when discussing this anime huh?) every single time
B- they didn’t think that when someone cries, he instantly turns ugly, with snot running down his nose and with the worst face expression possible, regardless of gender, age or how emotional he is.
I’d say a lot more, but there is already a lot of text, and it’s enough to sum it up – this anime is not one I would recommend someone to watch under any normal circumstances (maybe only if someone made a shortened version with all the repeats, openings, endings and cuts removed thus making the whole anime be at around 300 episodes max), I watched over 600 episodes myself, and I can safely say that although some parts were enjoyable, it was mostly rather boring when looked as a whole, and especially the later episodes, and I am regretting the time I spent watching it (as to why i watched it so far- my friend recommended it to me and I did not expect it to last this long. I usually finish what I start, but this is ridiculous, bad, and really beyond me at this point.)
2: Great Teacher Onizuka
English: Great Teacher Onizuka
Japanese: グレート ティーチャー オニヅカ
MAL Score: 8.69
Twenty-two-year-old Eikichi Onizuka—ex-biker gang leader, conqueror of Shonan, and virgin—has a dream: to become the greatest high school teacher in all of Japan. This isn’t because of a passion for teaching, but because he wants a loving teenage wife when he’s old and gray. Still, for a perverted, greedy, and lazy delinquent, there is more to Onizuka than meets the eye. So when he lands a job as the homeroom teacher of the Class 3-4 at the prestigious Holy Forest Academy—despite suplexing the Vice Principal—all of his talents are put to the test, as this class is particularly infamous.
Due to their utter contempt for all teachers, the class’ students use psychological warfare to mentally break any new homeroom teacher they get, forcing them to quit and leave school. However, Onizuka isn’t your average teacher, and he’s ready for any challenge in his way.
Bullying, suicide, and sexual harassment are just a few of the issues his students face daily. By tackling the roots of their problems, Onizuka supports them with his unpredictable and unconventional methods—even if it means jumping off a building to save a suicidal child. Thanks to his eccentric charm and fun-loving nature, Class 3-4 slowly learns just how enjoyable school can be when you’re the pupils of the Great Teacher Onizuka.
The story is somewhat cliche: troublesome high school students with peculiar skills or traits trying to rid a teacher who’s trying hard to to teach them a lesson in life. However, there are some very clever surprises and plot devices to keep the viewer poised for more. My only complaint is the rather hashed season finale (Ep. 42 and 43), but that was to be expected since those are the only two episodes that didn’t diligently follow the manga.
The animation is adequate for its time, but that isn’t the reason why you should watch this.
Both the opening and ending soundtrack for the series is great. Although, neither are as good as the GTO Live Action theme, "Poison".
The reason why you should watch this is simple: Onizuka Ekikichi, 22 years, virgin. This anime is all about character, rather a character. Truly GTO is ineffable in that sense. Watch the first episode and tell me if you’re not immediately enamored by Onizuka and his ridiculous ways.
While there is a certain moral message to the anime, watch it for the sheer fun value. It will make you laugh, that’s for certain, perhaps it might even make you cry. The live action series, I’m not ashamed to say did make my eyes wet.
The live action series (12 episodes) is quite good as well but there are certain things one can have liberty with in an anime that is not possible in live action.
Overall, I highly recommend GTO. Not just the anime but the entire franchise, manga, live action TV series and the movie.
Great Teacher Onizuka Banzai!
Character development is unfortunately absent from the personality of our bland douche of a protagonist, and he is pretty much the same annoying dumbass for the whole duration of the plot. His way of solving issues with students is completely unrealistic, and while this is sometimes acknowledged and played for laughs, it takes itself seriously far too often. He’s pretty much just there for wish-fulfillment, plain and simple. As for his students, all developments in them come off as completely forced and contrived. Plus, almost all of them are blatant archetypes, who have some deep-seated reason to “bawww nvr trust a teacher again!” to boot. Why should we care about anything bad that threatens to happen when we already know that the Mary Sue genius cool handsome hacker boy can fix all problems that come up easily? Another telling issue with the characterization is that just about all men above the age of twenty are, for whatever reason, portrayed as disgusting perverts. This may be a reflection on Fujisawa himself, given the large amount of poorly-placed fanservice. All antagonists in this series start off completely one-dimensional and unrealistically evil, but they then get some sob-story tacked onto their character and their personality changes completely. That is simply not proper character development.
The art is easily the weakest aspect. Almost everybody has the same exact face; you know, that one face that Fujisawa Tohru recycles endlessly in everything he does. The only face he knows how to draw, basically. Great Teacher Onizuka largely depends on visual humor for its value as a comedy, but all of the “hilarious” facial expressions were used over and over again, when they were never really funny in the first place. At the same time, they contribute heavily to my inability to take Great Teacher Onizuka seriously. The rest of the visual humor is just somewhat lame and, man, I hope you like seeing Onizuka’s ass, because you’re going to be getting a lot of that. The animation is nothing special, and any flaws with it are completely overshadowed by the horrendous art.
All of the claims made by Great Teacher Onizuka’s rabid defenders about its “societal commentary” are completely untrue. Bullying is not dealt with much better, more interestingly, or realistically than in many other works I have seen. Furthermore, I failed to see what it actually criticized about the education system, other than the fact that not enough teachers are violent gangsters. This theme continues with just about everything else it supposedly comments on. It either just features these things in a cliché manner or does not really say much about them at all. There is no depth to Great Teacher Onizuka; it is just a simple drama and comedy. This would be fine did it do either of those things right, but, alas, it did not.
I have no idea as to why this anime is so highly regarded. It is just not very good, plain and simple. I get second-hand embarrassment when watching all of those sentimental scenes about teaching, and then I have to wonder why Great Teacher Onizuka didn’t just stick to comedy. Then I remember that it wasn’t funny and I think to myself “ah, that explains it.” GTO started out as a decent parody of all of those stupid shows with a super-teacher who helps his students work out all of their problems and wins their hearts in the process, but it eventually fell victim to self-indulgence and became a stupid story in the same vein. It contributed nothing new nor anything of real value to the genres of school life, comedy, or drama. It never made me laugh out loud, and it never evoked any kind of physical or emotional response. Not in a good way, at least. At its best, it’s okay. At its worst, it’s goddamn painful.
The premise is simple, if not a bit cracked out, and the first episode serves to illustrate. Onizuka is a former Yakuza who always had a dream of becoming a teacher, and the best one of all time at that. Of course, he ends up drawing quite possibly the most ill-tempered class out of the whole lot, and that’s putting it lightly. This begins a 42 episode long trek to slowly win all students of his class over, and along the way figure out their problems. And in the end, it culminates with the student who has easily suffered the most trauma and the revelation of the event that shook the class to its core.
You know Onizuka’s always going to win in the end, and if you have to ask why, then you still don’t quite understand the premise. What’s important is the journey, how is he going to prevail, and where is he going to screw up along the way. It seems easy but quickly becomes complicated when you realize that the class is actively plotting against his efforts. They’re quite brilliant for a bunch of teenagers. The vice-principal also has a very low opinion of the former gang member and spends a lot of his time antagonizing the situation. On top of that, Onizuka is no pristine member of society; in fact, he’s a wonderfully flawed character. He drinks, he smokes, he’s vulgar, he’s a womanizer, and he acts completely over the top, running on instinct. Despite this you will love him, trust me.
The cast of characters supporting the show are just as important; they are numerous and just as easily flawed. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have trouble remembering most of their names by the end of the series, even the ones that are around from step one. Yet, each of these characters gets to carry the plot ball at some point for their spot in the limelight, and most of them will even have their own crowning moment of awesome. By the end, they’ve all grown significantly under their teacher’s tutelage. It’s the sign of a good series when you can juggle all these characters around and manage to leave none of them in the lurch.
A lot of the series appeal is the ridiculous situations that are generated and Onizuka’s ability to come up with equally ridiculous solutions, and soak up comical levels of punishment. It still delivers elsewhere. This show has the ability to move you, and if you don’t feel anything by the end of episode 11’s dramatic soliloquy, quite frankly you must be dead inside. The great teacher also specializes in life lessons, and if you haven’t managed to learn anything by the time the series reaches its conclusion, then I honestly wonder if we were watching the same show. This naturally lends itself to exploring how the school system is failing to prepare its students for the real world, instead focusing on test scores at the expense of all else. Really the only time this show loses its impact at all are when it veers off the overarching story for a one shot episode, and even those don’t feel terribly out of place and serve as auxiliary character development.
The animation isn’t nearly as pristine as technology allows today. It’s still fun the watch, and the facial expressions in particular are well executed. There’s a lot of action going on in some sequences, and there isn’t any major animation break or loss of what’s going on. The music doesn’t have a tremendous amount of variety; it sets the mood for the situation and then goes merrily away, letting the characters speak for themselves. Steven Blum plays Onizuka to the hilt, and I like the rest of the characters voice work as well for the most part. There were a couple of minor characters I didn’t really care for, but a minor character in this series basically means they get about three lines and then fall off the face of the planet for a few years.
This series is full of greatness. If you haven’t watched it yet, then I don’t care how you do it, watch it. If you have, take a bit of your time to revisit your favorite episodes. It’ll be worth it for all of you.
1: Cowboy Bebop
English: Cowboy Bebop
MAL Score: 8.77
In the year 2071, humanity has colonized several of the planets and moons of the solar system leaving the now uninhabitable surface of planet Earth behind. The Inter Solar System Police attempts to keep peace in the galaxy, aided in part by outlaw bounty hunters, referred to as “Cowboys.” The ragtag team aboard the spaceship Bebop are two such individuals.
Mellow and carefree Spike Spiegel is balanced by his boisterous, pragmatic partner Jet Black as the pair makes a living chasing bounties and collecting rewards. Thrown off course by the addition of new members that they meet in their travels—Ein, a genetically engineered, highly intelligent Welsh Corgi; femme fatale Faye Valentine, an enigmatic trickster with memory loss; and the strange computer whiz kid Edward Wong—the crew embarks on thrilling adventures that unravel each member’s dark and mysterious past little by little.
Well-balanced with high density action and light-hearted comedy, Cowboy Bebop is a space Western classic and an homage to the smooth and improvised music it is named after.
The story is set in a space western setting – a genre and setting I’m loving more and more for each show I watch that falls under the genre. We follow two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet, who own a ship called the Bebop. They travel the Solar system, chasing wanted criminals to earn money. Along the way, they also pick up two women; the debt-laden Faye Valentine and the playful kid and computer genius Edward (yes, Ed’s a girl).
Each episode brings about a new bounty which they chase after, and while that doesn’t sound too exciting to watch 26 episodes in a row, you’ll end up loving the show. All the different events makes for a certain degree of unpredictability, and you’ll sometimes wonder how things will end. However, that alone is not enough to give the story the rating I’ve given it. So why have I given that rating? Let’s continue…
One of the things that elevate the show a bit above the rest is the manner in which the main cast’s pasts are explored. It’s not like one flashback episode and you understand everything about how they are today. In one episode you might get one piece, and then the next one in another episode, and it’s not until the final three episodes of the show that everything falls in place. This way of executing it makes you want to watch another episode, so that you can find out more about the characters (some may say that this falls in under "Character", but the manner in which the pasts are explored are more "Story" than "Character", IMO). Now, that’s so far a 9 for the story. Why did it deserve a 10?
The answer is easy: the way they executed many scenes in the show. The contrasts which you get to see between, music, the setting of scenes and what’s really happening just gives the story that extra edge deserving of a perfect score.
The characters are all really good and interesting fellows. Though they every now and then reminded me of characters from other shows, they preserved that originality which gave a feel that they were, if not completely, then at least a little bit more real than most characters out there. The way their pasts intertwine with the future and how everything ends with them confronting and settling open ends from their pasts is also something that’s impressive to watch. I don’t really have anything more to say than "perfect".
The animation is, for a 90s anime, stunningly good. The detail put into backgrounds and surroundings is really good, and I also love how good lighting effects and shading are at times. All of Ed’s strange movements are animated really nicely too. If there’s something negative, it’s the somewhat dull coloring (compared to today’s standards), as well as poor effects when traveling in hyperspace.
The soundtrack is also astounding! The music used for the show is so incredibly varied, and while keeping mostly to the more jazzy tunes, the soundtrack visits so many genres that it’s hard to not like at least a few pieces. What I also loved is the way the music was used not only as a medium to go with and amplify the mood, but also as a contrast to what’s happening in several scenes. All in all, it’s really amazing. Don’t have anything to say against voice acting and other sound effects either.
All in all Cowboy Bebop is an anime that’s in the top tier on the greatness scale, and a show I believe every anime fan should give a try.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Cowboy bebop borrows much from western media and pop culture in general. his show pays homage to or references, subtly and overtly, things as disparate as Antonio Banderas, Bruce Lee, John Woo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Convoy, Biggie Smalls, Donald Duck, various mythologies and folktales, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bill Evans, Stray Cats, Alien, blaxploitation films, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Queen, George Clooney, Led Zeppelin, Django and other spaghetti westerns, Herbie Hancock, American and Japanese professional baseball, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Jean-Luc Godard, Batman, B.B. King, Beverly Hills 90210, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, The Unabomber, Heaven’s Gate and Marshall Applewhite, Kiss, film noir, The Beatles, Sleeping Beauty, Bonny & Clyde, Ziggy Stardust, Charlie Parker, Woody Allen, Star Trek, Cool Hand Luke, and Taxi Driver. I kid you not. And that’s not a complete list. References in character design and dialogue are forgivable, but when it straight up copies scenes and plots then I think it can be held against the show. I feel like I’ve seen Cowboy Bebop before, it’s just been packed into a pretty package. I enjoyed a lot of these homages, but that does not excuse the marked lack of creativity. The mere evocation of a masterpiece does not make a masterpiece. Quentin Tarantino is an example of someone who uses pastiche and cultural references well, and most importantly, his references and homages don’t make up his entire videography. There is far too little originality in Cowboy Bebop.
The fact is that Cowboy Bebop is the epitome of style over substance. I can appreciate it for its audiovisuals, but, to me, a show needs more than that to be a true masterpiece. Make no mistake though, it does have some of the best audiovisuals I’ve ever seen, and could arguably be considered a must-watch for that alone. The OST is good (despite also being a tad overrated,) the art is great, and the animation is extremely fluid. It should also be noted that Cowboy Bebop is one of the few anime that holds the distinction of having an English dub superior to the original Japanese. The atmosphere that the audiovisuals achieve is their greatest quality, and is distinct in almost every different setting. This is not done well in most space travel anime, and I have to applaud Cowboy Bebop for that achievement at least.
The main storyline consists of about 5 episodes, the rest of them being episodic individual stories. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the episodic stories were hit or miss, and they never measured up to the main plot. Some of the non-main episodes focus on a character and their past, and this is good, but most of them are completely pointless and could be removed without anybody noticing. One of them was about fighting an alien-fungus-fridge-monster, it was an interesting and silly parody of Alien, but it contributed nothing to plot or character development. Considering how character driven this show is, that’s a problem. There was also an entire episode paying homage to blaxploitation. Seeing as the allusion was presented in a more original way, and the episode showed a lot about Ed’s character, that one was not only forgivable, but it was one of my favorite episodes. Like I said, hit or miss. There is an episode about catching a super-dog. There is an episode about a virus that turns people into monkeys. There is an episode where they chase a bomber (Woody Allen) with some help from a transsexual looking trucker. At least 4 episodes were easily 10s, but more of them were closer to 5s. The first 4 episodes were particularly weak, which is a huge problem in a 2 cour anime. The anime may have had a good conclusion, but the sub-par exposition cannot be ignored.
The main crew was made up of interesting and entertaining characters, and they prevented the episodic nature of the show from being a complete flop, although there were some unanswered questions about Faye’s past in particular. Actually, strangely enough, the unanswered questions contributed to the splendid atmosphere. Everything had a rich backstory, but few flashbacks and no infodumps. This helped give the show its characteristic nostalgic atmosphere. One complaint I would have is that the main antagonist is simply not compelling, his motivations are somewhat unclear, and he’s just one dimensional. He also uses a katana, even though it’s the future, and somehow still manages to kick ass. He’s just very cliché and lame. The antagonist in the movie was very well done with his depth, motives, and parallels to Spike, and that makes me wish Vicious got the same treatment, as it would fit his character far better, and his character is far more important.
One thing you should understand is that the characters are often good examples of clichés done well. Jet, for instance, is the typical hard-boiled former cop, but he is also the most empathetic of the crew. He is a foil to Spike and is hard working, but they also parallel in many ways. Ed is the teen genius/tomboy and hacker with little depth, but she also serves as a foil to Spike and many of his views on life. Faye is like a mix of all of the other characters’ worst traits in terms of personality, but she still manages to be a sympathetic character. In fact, even though she keeps up her unpleasant exterior and despite her being the anime’s main source of fanservice, she arguably experiences more development than any other character. Still, they lack any sort of real innovation, in anime or otherwise.
Despite all my criticisms, Cowboy Bebop is cool. It’s very cool. The characters and aesthetics were compelling (for the most part) to the point where I even enjoyed some of the admittedly weaker episodes. I can’t give it a 10, it’s simply not a masterpiece. I can’t give it a 9, it’s not truly great. I can’t give it an 8, it’s too flawed and unoriginal. I don’t want to give it a 7, it was just too inconsistent. I have to settle on a 6.7 or so, which could be rounded either way. That said, an average of my story, art, sound, and character scores did give me around a 7.2.
Cowboy Bebop is enjoyable and it has wide appeal; I would probably recommend it to just about anybody. It was up and down in terms of quality, and it was similar to a slice-of-life in its episodic and relaxed nature and its lack of an explosive climax, but it was good. I liked how the anime takes place after the “important part” of the main characters’ lives is over, and nostalgia becomes a huge theme, seeing as it was the first anime I ever watched and it thus evokes a huge sense of nostalgia for me anyway. I loved the laid back atmosphere. The problem is that after looking through all of the episodes and rating them individually, I realized that the majority of it was nothing special. With a little restraint and reworking, Cowboy Bebop could have been the masterpiece that it is widely regarded as, and it does hold a special place in my heart regardless, even if that is only due to it being my first anime. That bias is probably why I choose to round the score to 7, rather than to 6, despite the fact that the latter is typically the better practice.
I am always willing to defend and justify my scores so leave me a comment if you disagree, and tell me why I’m wrong. I say that because this does seem to be a pretty uncommon score, even among those whose opinions I have great respect for. Keep in mind that a 7 is a generous and good score in any case.
“Fuck you! Cowboy Bebop is a classic! You’re not allowed to criticize it!”
The more astute viewers will note that I scored the series a 6, but the movie a 9. I kind of like Cowboy Bebop. It does do some things very right. It had the potential to be one of the greatest franchises ever. Alas, while its production values are unmatched, the writing . . . doesn’t always match up with the production. Because of this, the series ended up being a style-over-substance experience for me, but why was that?
The premise of CB is that in the late 21st century, mankind has started living in places in the solar system besides Earth. In this future are bounty hunters known as Cowboys. Cowboys do whatever they can to make cash to keep the food stockpile stocked and their spaceships running. The show follows one such group of Cowboys who pilot a ship called the Bebop. In the beginning, we meet Spike Spiegel, a former gangster, and Jet Black, a former cop. As the series progresses, the Bebop also has Ein, a super smart dog, Faye Valentine, a woman on the run, and Edward, a really, really, REALLY weird hacker girl. Cowboy Bebop has been described as a series that has a continuous plot, and has standalone episodes at the same time. Having seen the series, I can tell you that technically, most of the episodes aren’t standalone, but many of them are only connected by the core characters.
Here’s where one of my problems lie. When Cowboy Bebop is good, it’s really good. The setting is very mature; it never condescends to the audience. The action scenes are superbly well done, the dialog is believable (though cheesy at times), and the atmosphere really pulls you in. How many episodes are actually really good? Seven. If you count the movie as an episode, that brings it up to eight. Eight out of twenty-seven episodes were good. The rest were not.
The problem with most of the episodes is one of two things: one, it’s really boring, or, two, it’s so clichéd, you will be able to predict exactly what happens by the end after the first two minutes, or both. I have to be honest, a lot of the episodes of CB are just plain boring. If this wasn’t a “classic” and a more ordinary anime series, a lot of them would be branded as what they truly are; filler episodes. And if it’s not boring filler, it’s hackneyed.
Watanabe is known for being a huge fan of American cinema, and that’s obvious in CB. Unfortunately, he ripped off a lot of American movies virtually piecemeal. Now, you may not suspect it, but I am more knowledgeable of American cinema than I am Japanese animation. To describe it as best I can without spoiling, if you have seen at least one movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, John Woo, and Michael Mann, then you have already seen Cowboy Bebop in another format. This is actually a clever trick though; most anime fans reject Western pop culture, and may not notice this when watching CB, so they’ll think it’s “fresh” and “original”, when it’s fact, it’s actually MORE clichéd then most anime. But hey, when CB is exciting and isn’t (too) blatantly ripping off Hollywood, it’s worth watching.
At least, when the worthwhile characters are onscreen. I like the main character Spike a lot. He is the embodiment of cool, like a 21st century version of Steve McQueen. He’s cool, but he’s very human too. He’s reckless, he makes mistakes, but he knows how to charm people, and he also knows how to beat his targets. I also like Jet. He’s a constant worrywart, which is a funny contrast to his rough appearance. Some of the incidental characters are memorable too, (but usually only in the good episodes and movie). Something else I liked was the Bebop crew was not always a stable group, or nakama you could say. In most anime, when the heroes band together, nothing ever separates them. That doesn’t happen in CB. Sometimes, the crew gets in arguments, and sometimes, one of them will leave the Bebop for a time, and so on. It’s a touch of realism I appreciate.
However, some of the characters didn’t click with me. I never really cared for Faye. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t really care for her either. Edward is amusing, but she feels out of place in a series like this. The incidental characters in the less memorable episodes are just that, unmemorable. However, what I’m about to print in the next paragraph will anger thousands, possibly millions. (And maybe make hundreds say “Right on!”) Mind you, it’s just my opinion. Everything I print in these reviews is just my opinion; you don’t have to take it personally, but the following opinion of mine needs to be said:
Vicious is one of the lamest villains ever.
The main antagonist is a man known as Vicious, someone who’s still a part of the gang Spike came from. He’s cunning, ruthless . . . and is absolutely lame. What’s his motive? Does he just want power, or to mess with people? Even if so, why is he so boring to watch? The villain from the movie was a lot more interesting. Overall, you got two really good protagonists, some interesting chemistry between the protagonists, one-shot characters who are either interesting or not, and a forgettable antagonist. Yay.
And I haven’t even touched upon the ending yet! Short version, I don’t like CB’s ending. (More flames incoming! Duck and cover!) Now, the ending is not quite as bad as the ending for, say, Akira, or the anime version of Chobits. It does have a sense of finality to it, something most anime endings don’t have. However, I did not find it “legendary.” I found it disappointing. First of all, the ending is extremely predictable. It’s virtually telegraphed to you before it even happens. Not only that, when I saw it, my reaction was, ” . . . that’s it? Seriously, that’s IT?”
But I better move on to CB’s technical aspects before I get too letdown. Its artistry leaves no complaints. CB is probably the best-looking pre-digital anime I’ve ever seen. Even if you were to remake the series with digital enhancements, I doubt you could make it look better than it already is. Sumptuous backgrounds, top-notch character art, animation that ranges from above-average to really good, no off-model shots, this is a visual feast. The movie looks even better. It’s obvious a lot of care was put into the visuals of CB. My only being the primitive CGI, but you get used to it.
And now we touch upon CB’s greatest aspect; its soundtrack. It’s the sort of the soundtrack that makes you go, “Ah yeah, baby!” This is why you watch CB, the music. The music is the magnum opus of Yoko Kanno. A combination of jazz, blues, and rock, but it isn’t just any old jazz, blues, and rock, it’s GOOD jazz, blues, and rock. Everything from the opening, to the incidental music, to the endings, you get music that will set your soul on fire. The only anime I’ve seen whose soundtrack could rival CB’s is Death Note’s. Something I noticed about CB’s soundtrack is the music sounds more like music from albums rather than typical soundtrack music. Another smart move; most people are accustomed to listening to music from CD and MP3 albums as opposed to soundtracks, so when they hear CB’s music, it’ll be more familiar-sounding than most other anime soundtracks. Regardless, even if you hate CB, you gotta score this music.
CB is also famous for having what is perhaps the oldest English dub for an anime series that is considered god-like. I saw this on Adult Swim, and I can safely say, this is another masterpiece from Bandai and Bang Zoom. Every character sounds like how you would imagine them to, and the voices are neither wooden nor over-acted. All the different accents the characters have sound really cool too. I did sample the Japanese dub on the movie, and I will say, Spike and Jet sound really good in both Japanese and English, but I will never get used to Faye’s Japanese voice. Yeah, this is one you gotta see in English. (Though in retrospect, the Japanese performances aren’t bad, it just doesn’t click like the English dub)
While CB is still often regarded as a classic, I’m not the first to criticize it like so. There has been some backlash against CB in recent years. Some people complain it’s not “Japanese-y” enough, that it’s too Western. I mentioned that earlier, but there is another anime I’ve seen, Baccano, which is also very similar to American movies, but it was consistently entertaining, and not as predictable as CB, so I did not mind. Others have mentioned the same things I have, that it’s boring, the plot isn’t strong enough, it’s style over substance. This isn’t a disaster by any means, but I do have to say that, outside of the production values, CB is one of the most overrated anime I’ve seen. It’s not one of the worst, certainly not, but it’s not quite the experience I was promised either. To put it in other words, there were some episodes that I would score a 4 out of 10. And yet, there are some episodes, including the movie, that I would score a 9 out of 10. The 6 overall is just from mixing the good episodes with the bad.
I like to imagine that in an alternate dimension, CB was an OVA series instead of a tv series. All the episodes I do like, (# 2, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, and 22) were released on separate OVAs, as well as a few others to bridge the plot gaps. Then a theatrical came out (Knocking on Heaven’s Door), and then another to end it all (The Real Folk Blues, albeit with a revised conclusion), and it would be grandiose. Alas, I don’t live in that universe. Hey, Shinichiro Watanabe likes drawing influence from Hollywood, right? What’s something it’s doing a lot of right now? Continuity reboots? He could still do that. I can dream, can’t I?
EDIT: This review was revised on 9/17/2015 to be less awkward to read.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Cowboy Bebop
2. Great Teacher Onizuka
3. One Piece
4. Digimon Adventure
5. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
6. Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel Saga
7. Gokudou-kun Manyuuki
8. Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
9. Oruchuban Ebichu