They’re the best Anime that 2003 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Hungry Heart: Wild Striker, GetBackers, Tantei Gakuen Q, and more!
10: Hungry Heart: Wild Striker
Japanese: ハングリーハート Wild Striker
MAL Score: 7.57
Kyosuke Kano has lived under the shadow of his successful brother Seisuke all his life who is a professional soccer player. Tired of being compared and downgraded at, he abandoned playing soccer until a boy from his new highschool discovered him and asked him to join their team. Kyosuke joins it and befriends two other first year players named Rodrigo and Sakai with the dream of becoming professional soccer players themselves.
When I say that Wild Striker doesn’t bring anything new, the one exemption from that can be with the story. Although you still have your typical sports anime story with following a protagonist (Kyosuke, in this case) and his will to win the national championship. The catch here is that his brother, Kanou Seisuke, is already a superstar that plays for AC Milan, and both of them are polar opposites in every way, shape and form. So Kyosuke is always being compared to his older brother and is expected to follow in his footsteps (well, sort of anyway). That’s the overall main theme that the anime always goes back too. However, let me say that there is a lot of plot twists that Wild Striker brings in that really catches you off-guard. It keeps you on your toes and keeps the story very interesting. The matches are also very unpredictable, as Kyosuke’s teams suffers plenty of losses throughout the show. There’s a bit of romance in here as well, which is actually very interesting to watch.
The animation and art is really brings this anime down a notch. Everyone knows that sports anime has a ton of repeated frames, but Wild Striker really pushes that to the limit as each match, it feels like you’re watching the same exact match from an earlier episode, just with a different opponent. A very focal point of sports anime is how the animation during matches is done and because of the poor quality in Wild Striker, sometimes its not that fun to watch. The same thing can be said of the character design. Seriously. It makes me wonder what the budget was for this anime. A bunch of the characters, if you look closely, have the same exactly facial structure, but simply different color eyes and a different hair style. Swap hairs and you’ll swap the character. But Wild Striker does provide enough different character designs to keep it interesting.
Before I get too deep into my sound explanation, let me just start off by saying the the first season OP was the best piece of music in the entire anime. It’s really nice piece of music that fits in perfectly with the anime and very uplifting as well. The rest of the music ranges from so-so to not all that great. The voice actors bring a lot of emotion into the characters they act for, which really brings a lot of the matches to life.
The characters themselves, I was very conflicted on. At first, I was going to write how they were pretty much unoriginal, but when I sat and thought about it for a few minutes, the characters are actually pretty decent. The anime brings just enough different types of characters to compliment the main protagonists in the show, but as I mentioned earlier, save for a few, they all look relatively the same. My biggest qualm about the characters is that there aren’t many opponents that the show heavily concentrates on. Sure, there are teams, but not single opponents. In other words, they’ll introduce a rival, concentrate on him for about 4-5 episodes tops, and then after the teams play their match, moves on forward. But I guess that’s also a good thing, in order to bring in new people into the show.
Even with all of the negative aspects I mentioned about this show, you simply cannot help but to watch episode after episode because the story is pretty unpredictable. When you think a team is going to win, they end up losing. When you think they’re going to lose, they end up winning. Even the storyline itself has a few nice plot twists that you won’t see coming. Though the matches do tend to repeat themselves with the animation, they still have some mystifying quality that makes you watch in anticipation. Bottom line, Wild Striker is enjoyable to the max.
When I rank sports anime, I typically think of placing them in one of three tier groups: top tier, middle tier and bottom tier. I would place Wild Striker in the middle tier. It’s definitely not the worst thing about there, as its very entertaining to watch. However, the ending may leave you with an unsatisfied taste in your mouth and wanting more. In addition, the lack of detail in character design and variability in animation prevent it from the top tier of sports anime. Nevertheless, its something that’s worth your time to check out for yourself.
An old and relatively unknown anime. Does it deserve popularity? Scroll down…
[ 1 MINUTE REVIEW ]
Although there are not a lot of good sports anime out there, Hungry Heart Wild Striker is definitely a great sports anime and is definitely undervalued and underappreciated. Although it does contain some stereotypical shonen elements and characters, the anime is actually much deeper than it appears on the surface. It deals with some real issues that soccer players face such as injuries, uncooperative teammates, going pro and many more. Also, this anime’s story line is really strong and keeps you going through all the episodes. The hero, Kanou Kyosuke, is an extremely likable character and adds to the show’s strong story line and slapstick humor. However, the animation and music really suck. If you love soccer, then you should definitely check this anime out. If you’re not, you can still watch this anime to kill time. Either way, check it out.
[ 5 MINUTE REVIEW ]
Hungry Heart has one of the best stories possible for a soccer anime. Our hero, Kanou Kyosuke, is a great striker but is too rough for the soccer field. Also, his brother is Japan’s top soccer superstar and plays for the Italian club, AC Milan. Tired of living in his brother’s shadow and being compared to him all the time, Kanou quits soccer for good. But one day, Miki, his classmate, blackmails him into coaching the girls soccer club for a week. As he coaches the girls, Kanou realizes he doesn’t need to give up soccer and joins the high school soccer team, hoping to play alongside his brother in the World Cup one day. And thus, begins Kanou’s journey.
The story really is amazing as it is truly inspirational. Kanou, a punk, tries to become Japan’s top striker. You might be thinking “Oh, it’s an anime… Of course he’s going to win all the matches at the last minute and fulfill his dream. This is too predictable…” Well that’s where you, and most people, go wrong with this anime. The plot has several twists and keeps you engaged through all 52 episodes. And unlike Captain Tsubasa, Kanou’s team does not win every match. In fact, they lose quite a lot. The story also brings in a bit of realism, by showing us how difficult it really is to pursue a career in soccer. . Also, you realize how a player’s personal life affects his performance on the field. The importance of team work is also emphasized on constantly. As I said before, the inner meaning of the anime has more than meets the eye.
The characters in the anime are what make the anime enjoyable. Although they superficially appear to be your typical shonen anime side characters, they are not. In the first quarter of the anime, all the characters except Kanou fail to hold your attention for long. However, as the story progresses, you begin to see the complexity in their personalities. The usual side-kicks turn into main characters and their transformation is felt greatly, especially in the cases of Rodrigo, Sakai, Esaka and Kamata. The characters are just so well portrayed that, when they win, you feel like cheering with them and when they lose, you get frustrated. You can feel what is at stake during the big matches. Kanou’s character shows great depth and his character develops through every episode, which is very entertaining and inspiring, to watch. You watch him transform from a street punk to a mature soccer player.
The animation in this anime is well, terrible. Although it wasn’t a very high budget anime or very new, it was still sad to see an insane amount of frame recycling. For example, the 5 second animation of Kanou taking a shot or Rodrigo passing the ball is used in almost every 5th episode. I’m not kidding. In fact, you even see the same animation clip repeated FOUR times in a single episode. It is a very annoying feeling to see the same player play the same pass to the same person over and over again. The character design is another disaster. Almost every midfielder in the anime looks the same. Just change his hair color and his jersey color and there you go – a new midfielder. Seriously, they don’t even change the poor fellows’ hairstyles. Thankfully, the story and the characters themselves are strong enough to keep you motivated to watch the rest of the series.
The music was the second and final problem I had with this anime. The 1st opening theme was pretty good and suited the mood. Sadly, that was the one noteworthy track. The others are just out of place. For example, they play some sort of carnival music during an intense second half. It really feels out of place. Speaking of songs and their placing, the song placing in this anime was absolutely stupid. Whenever you hear inspirational music play, you know that Kanou’s team is going to score in 2 minutes and whenever you hear a daunting drum beat track, you know the opponents are going to score. It really gives the suspense away. They should’ve really put some more thought into that. Howver, it isn’t intolerable.
The ending is great and provides just about enough room for fan fiction. As far as the voice over goes, it is done really well and you can see that the voice actors really enjoyed what they were doing, especially Miki’s and Esaka’s. The subbing by Saizuken could’ve been a bit better though.
Overall, Hungry Heart Wild Striker is a superb anime with a strong story and interesting characters. The animation quality and the soundtrack are disappointing, but are not all that frustrating. If you love soccer, shonen with a dash of Slice of Life or both, then you definitely can’t go wrong with this anime. It’s just one of those anime which has that “it” factor.
( P.S- The way soccer is pronounced as “sucker” can be annoying, but it sort of grows on you :D)
Art: The artwork won’t be counted as too bad for a pretty old anime in my eyes. It’s not like all the new ones with action and very thing in high quality but is VERY worth watching still.
Sound: The sounds are pretty good with their characters. Since this anime was dubbed in cantonese and japanese it’s hard to say. Though if you speak cantonese WATCH the cantonese one cause it’s super funny. Didn’t really ever try the japanese one but I doubt it can be that bad.
Character: This is one part of the anime that is my favorite part. Most characters have their own road to soccer stardom but they each have diffiiculties and their own power. Most shocking things happen with the main characters Kyosuke. Though the one known as his girlfriend (as a joke) Miki is not expressed very good with personal life though she’s a supporter for Kyosuke.
Enjoyment: As one of the first animes I watched it’s definitely NOT a shabby anime. There are NO ecchi in this anime whatsoever and one of the funniest one you will find around on this time of day and year.Throughout the plot the main character Kyosuke goes around making trouble and trying to score. No matter what ways he makes this anime worth watching.
Overall: Since I absolutely LOVE this anime. 10 is one of the worse scores I can give it actually. If I had a choice i will give it a 100.
Japanese: ゲットバッカーズ 奪還屋
MAL Score: 7.60
Mido Ban and Amano Ginji are known as the Get Backers, retrievers with a success rate of 100%. Whatever is lost or stolen, they can definitely get it back. Despite their powerful abilities and enthusiastic behavior, Ban and Ginji are terminally broke no matter what they do simply because few people would actually desire to hire them. As a result, the pair of them tend to do dangerous jobs, often leading to unwanted re-encounters with their old (and dangerous) friends.
Animation: Pretty good, it is getting to be a older animation so you will see its age but that shouldn\’t matter.
Sound: pretty good nothing special.
Character: Great characters they have great story\’s to them and they follow there personality\’s to. Very funny to at times.
Enjoyment: I loved this series but it ended so quickly 🙁
Overall: Very good series, if you like action and humor and a good story check it out.
Getbackers is a typical shounen anime about two guys who are said to be able to get anything back, which has been taken. What helps them are their interesting special abilities Amano Ginji with the power to generate electricity and Midou Ban with a 200Kg hand grip and also possessing the evil eye.
The show pretty much starts of like a typical anime, by introducing the main characters and giving them an opportunity to wow the viewers with some action. Getbackers is able to capture anyone’s attention but as the show goes on, this cheesy anime can easily become tiresome to watch. The fights don’t help it at all, with the same fighting methods repeated over and over, without any variety, to the point when even the action sequences get boring. In between all the action are numerous comedy moments, to lighten the mood however this is poorly executed and doesn’t add much to the show. Also another issue is the characters and apart from the two main characters (Ginji and Midou) the rest are poorly developed and it doesn’t help that the have some pretty lame personalities and special abilities/traits. Another annoyance is when the enemies become allies and the allies become enemies so easily that it just makes it all seem pointless.
There’s also the animation that can be described in one word “mediocre”. It’s obvious that very little effort was put into animating this show, as not even the fights seem fluid and all the chibi didn’t help the comedy. Another thing that can put anyone of from watching this show is the horrendous opening and ending theme music, but at least the exciting music during the action can make up for it.
Overall this is a pretty decent anime for the simple-minded anime fan but a somewhat intelligent anime fan would be able to see Getbackers for its many faults. It does manage to incorporate all the standard shounen elements but without adding anything original to make it stand out from the rest. Even though this anime is aimed at teenagers it seems more like a kid’s show, with moderate violence, no blood and sharp objects replaced by bright shining lights. So if you’re over 12 years old then I don’t recommend this.
While it is an interesting plot, I tend to become distracted when I watch it. Maybe the plot was too shonen for a girl like me who would usually prefer girly anime, but then again the fight scenes were a bit exciting. Truth be told, I enjoyed the fillers more, because they always had me laughing. Other than that, some of the arcs were too long, specially the IL arc. 15 episodes are just too much, and at that point watching the anime felt like a chore. I was so happy when I finally finished that arc because the filler episode after the arc was one of the funniest episodes.
It’s another anime with a huge cast of characters, and most of them I like. I think the character I hate the most would be Himiko. She’s a very irritating girl who acts as if she’s good at her job, but she’s not that great. Plus using perfumes as weapons? What a lame power. Kazuki is OK, but he’s a trap. It really surprised me when I found out he was a guy. Maybe he’s gay – 2 guys are fighting over him and I don’t care if boys from their family wear girly kimonos when they haven’t reached their age of maturity yet. It’s just an excuse to justify his cross dressing.
My favorite character is actually Natsumi. I like that filler episode about her when she dressed up as Ban and Ginji. Speaking of Ban and Ginji, I like both of them too. Ginji is just so adorable when he goes into chibi mode, and Ban is one cool guy, even if he’s a bit mean and distant sometimes. Akabane is pretty cool too – even if he is a bit blood thirsty and sick minded.
The animation and art is reminiscent of early 2000s anime. While it is ahead of anime that was from way back then, it still needed work. It tends to be inconsistent sometimes. You could tell if the designs would waver because they were really notable differences – it’s as if the characters have been deformed. Usually, this would occur in filler episodes, and even more so during the second half. I’m a bit disappointed, because if they wanted to make this anime a hit, everything should be almost perfect. The colors tend to clash sometimes too – greens and purples don’t really go well together.
And what about the voice acting? It was actually pretty good. I’m quite surprised that Ginji’s seiyu was actually Shotaro Morikubo, who was also Musica’s (From Rave Master) voice actor. They were two different characters with two different personalities that it’s hard for me to picture one guy who worked with both of them. I guess that’s really impressive. Plus, Ban Midou’s seiyu (Nobutoshi Canna) was also the seiyu for another character I hold dear to my heart, and that is Tasuki from Fushigi Yuugi. Even without that, I still think the dub was quite impressive.
I like the wide variety of music. Every opening and ending theme was different and I liked every single track. It was all contemporary and modern. There was pop, to hip hop, to j-rock. Everything really went well with the series’ feel. I think that’s because the music direction was made by a very capable person. That person would be Taku Iwasaki, whose works are actually quite familiar to me. He also worked on GONZO’s Black Cat, Rumbling Hearts and Yakitate!! Japan, series with equally good music.
Because of boy-boy love premises, I was almost convinced that I was watching shojo. Clearly, Kazuki and Juubei’s relationship are yaoi fan girl bait. Plus the guys are all very good looking, which convinced me even more. I guess that’s one thing I get out of watching the series.
And what’s with the clothes? I noticed a lot of the characters wore clothes that won’t fit them. Hevn would always wear tops that are too small for her, and the guys wore tight pants. Poor Kazuki; His shirts are always so oversized that they would fall to his shoulders.
Even if there was a bevy of good looking guys in this anime, the eye candy wasn’t enough to make me disregard the story. I’m not saying the story was bad, like I said before, the plot was interesting. There were just errors during the execution. It could have been better.
8: Tantei Gakuen Q
English: Detective School Q
MAL Score: 7.75
Kyuu is your average boy with a knack for logic and reasoning. Desiring to become a detective, he finds out about the existence of the Dan Detective School (DDS); a famed school where students are allowed to bear arms. Together with Megu, a girl with photographic memory, the martial arts master Kinta, the genius programmer Kazuma and the mysterious Ryuu, Kyuu tackles many well planned out crimes, always seeking the truth.
Tantei Gakuen Q is episodic, with each episode mostly focusing on different crimes that occur around Kyuu and his friends. There are a number of multi-episode mysteries in the show, which in my opinion are much more interesting, witty and detailed compared to the one-shot mysteries. Majority of the mysteries are fun to watch, with some crimes containing tricks that are incredibly complicated. Occasionally the story may drift to cheesiness, and certain parts may be quite predictable. A plotline runs throughout the entire series, although the main focus of the show is still on the specific crimes in each case. The ending of the anime, unfortunately, is rather unsatisfying, with the previously mentioned main plotline finishing off rather unresolved.
The animation is rather plain, and contains nothing special. Occasionally, characters may appear disfigured, but with the focus of the viewer on the mysteries occurring in the show, animation is most likely the last thing on everyone’s minds. Character designs are simple and more or less unappealing. It is a wonder with the logical nature of this show why the main character has green and white hair (even as a child).
For the sound, voice acting is satisfying. No character really stands out with an incredible voice actor although you may find one or two characters with a VA that you would rather not have to listen to. The background music is rather enjoyable to listen to, if not overused in the show. You’ll most likely not complain if you like it enough that you wouldn’t mind the same piece to be played over and over again. The openings and endings are rather unmemorable. Especially with the cliffhanger endings in the show, a lot of people would probably rather skip through the opening if they could. With that said, the openings and endings are not bad per se, and I find the first opening to be excellent.
Characters are not really the strongest point in the show. Character development is near non-existent, from the beginning to the very end; characters more or less still act the same (with an exception of a few individuals). Each of the main characters have their own specific traits and talents, and help out in each of the cases using these traits. The teachers in the show are hardly ever seen, and are pretty much forgettable. The criminals are rather generic, with their weak revenge driven hearts, anger, greed, selfishness or tragic upbringings or events that lead them to do their crimes.
As for why I like Tantei Gakuen Q, the tricks used in the show were fascinating. I did not really care much for any other aspect of the show; the mystery was pretty much the only thing I found really going for it. The drama in the show was frankly rather annoying and cheesy to watch most of the time. I also wish the show wasn’t aimed at kids.
Overall, Tantei Gakuen Q is pretty much an anime that the mystery and detective lovers would probably like the most. It doesn’t have much else going for it except for the specific stories in each of the cases. If you would like to give your deduction skills a try, go ahead and watch Tantei Gakuen Q. All hints are always given and fully explained in the show. Be warned though, some of the tricks are complicated and not exactly the sort of thing an average person is going to suddenly think up.
7: Kaleido Star
English: Kaleido Star
MAL Score: 7.92
The Kaleido Stage is known throughout the world for captivating audiences with its amazing acrobatics, innovative routines, and extravagant costumes and sets. It is a place for guests to believe in magic, and Sora Naegino wants nothing more than to be a part of that magic—by becoming an acrobat for the famed circus herself.
To realize her dream, she travels from Japan to California to audition for a place in the group. However, Sora learns that she needs much more than her natural talent to bring joy to the faces in the crowd. She quickly discovers just how difficult it is to be a professional performer where the stakes—and the stunts—are higher and mistakes spell danger! To put on performances worthy of the Kaleido Stage, she will need to endure rigorous training, unconventional assignments, fierce competition, and the antics of a mischievous spirit named Fool.
Can Sora reach new heights, make new friends, conquer her fears, and surpass her limits to become a Kaleido Star?
I was proven wrong..
Overall, it was beautiful, bright colours and flowing movements that even appeared graceful, a very colorful setting that didn\’t appear too flashy….it totally captured the brilliance of a circus and the lovely performances that I just had to rewatch again. However it had its flaws, I noticed that several episodes had seemingly worse animation compared to the rest in which the characters looked distorted, thankfully this was hardly significant during the performances which kept their high standard throughout the whole anime.
The opening and ending themes were ok and catchy enough but what i really loved was the background music, some tracks were sometimes quite repetitive but it totally created the magical feel for this anime and enhanced it a lot more (even though you may not realise it). So do turn up the volume whenever you watch any of their performances as \’swan lake\’, \’little mermaid\’ etc. would not be so astoundingly beautiful without the music
Kaleido Star can be divided into 2 parts, 1st being Sora\’s introduction to the circus and striving to be in par with Layla Hamilton. Whereas the second part introduces 2 new character, Leon and May in which might be a turn-off for most viewers due to Sora suffering the most, but of course this is only to build the wonderful finale.
The overall concept may not seem special as it is only about a girl striving to achieve her dream and encountering many hardships. But the idea about a circus and acrobats is very unique, I don\’t think there are many animes out there that have attempted this genre and managed to keep it so interesting and magical. Whats good is the emphasis on friendship, Sora gets through a lot mostly due to the help of the people around her, it is not a one-girl show, all the rest are equally important characters and do shine as well.
Even though this is a shoujo anime, romance is only hinted but barely there, truly not the highlight of the show
As mentioned above, all the characters are great, in fact it is impossible to hate either of them since even the bad ones turn good at the end. Although this seems rather idealistic, it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling at the end
Overall this was a great ride, Satou Junichi\’s other creation, Princess tutu had left me in a bit of a trance when it ended, apparantly this had the same effect. It is hard to describe the truly magical effect this has, you have to watch it to know, and you won\’t regret it
Kaleido Star is the story of our dreams. How they all start from tiny things. Memories from days gone by that we think are insignificant, but at the same time, have really touched us and inspired us to become who we are today. Our dreams are not easy though. There will always be detours and obstacles in our way, and no dream can be reached without putting our own inner selves to the ultimate test, but if we can overcome these obstacles, befriend our enemies, and see the good in everyone’s dreams that they aspire for as well, then your dream can come true.
Despite the formulaic way Kaleido Star goes about fulfilling the dreams of the characters, it works splendidly because of how sincere each and every character is about wanting their special dream to come true, and how the series treats the sincerity of each character with a great deal of respect to the point that the formulaic contrivances such as the cliched “special training” and running away only to come back having “found yourself” feel like genuine happenings.
Likewise, this series as it is couldn’t be anything without its characters. The main focal point of the series is seeing the growth and struggle of all the members of Kaleido Stage from the primadonna to the lowly stagehands, and oh how they grow, and oh how they struggle. I credit this series immensely with how it puts each and every character through their own personal wringer, good guys and “bad guys” alike. It never lets them take the easy way out. Each and every accomplishment any character achieves is 100% earned. There are no gimmes.
And oh the accomplishments! I can’t go into detail because of spoilers but this is where the technical aspects really shine! For as much as people seem to tease GONZO for being GONZO, this is arguably their opus. A setting such as Kaleido Stage requires dazzling animation to fully bring out the Cirque du Soleil atmosphere of the stage, and the animation astounds every time, especially the climaxes of both halves of the series. They are so gorgeous, that don’t be surprised if you forget to breathe for a moment.
The soundtrack is also quite lovely with lots of wonderful performances, especially Ryou Hirohashi as Sora, who brings the same radiance and energy that Sora herself embodies.
With outstandingly gorgeous animation, heartwarming performances, characters that make you believe that everyone in this world, no matter how heartless or cruel they may be, are all good people inside, and a story that invokes you to believe your dreams, no matter how great or small, can all come true. Kaleido Star is one of the best anime I have ever seen. Heartwarming, heartbreaking, and inspiring to all. This is the stuff true dreams are made of.
Overall, I happily give Kaleido Star a 10 out of 10.
The most prominent feature of Kaleido Star is undoubtedly its characterisation, and as such, each character is given a strong dream or ambition that they strive towards over the course of the show, as well as a heavily fleshed-out personality. Almost every character is likeable and easy to become attached to. If you find that you’re a sucker for getting behind your favourite characters and empathising with their hardships, then Kaleido Star is a good bet. By the end of the show, the real emotional impact lies not in the conclusion to the plot, but in the final send-off for a great cast of characters you’ve come to know and love. Relationships are dealt with, but almost always in the form of friendships, rivalries and companionships. Rarely does Kaleido Star tread in the thorny realm of romance, and when it does it’s usually just for a cheap gag. Don’t be deterred though, the friendships that are grown over the course of the series have more weight to them than most romantic relationships in anime. I’m not sure if the characters interactions are massively realistic, but they are believable and earnest enough to work. Really though, the rest of the series is in orbit around Sora Naegino, the heart and star of the series. Fortunately, she is really a great protagonist, particularly in the first season. She is portrayed very much as being a real person, with holes poked into her resolve to achieve her dreams, and struggles that she must overcome, not with superhero talent, but with hard work and perseverance. I must admit to being in admiration of her from time to time. Most importantly, through all the harsh training she endures, you end up really wanting to see her succeed, which really makes the stage performance scenes what they are.
The animation used in the stage show scenes themselves is certainly quite good. Although the level of detail in the cel animation is overall surprisingly low, the stage scenes are carried by a high degree of fluidity in the animation and strong use of artistic direction, such as the use of colour and dramatic camera angles. The music definitely helped to create the sense of tension and beauty required. I do think they could have been done better, and rendered in more lavish detail befitting the scope of the shows, but for a 51-episode tv series it’s production is definitely solid. Unfortunately, off-stage doesn’t allow for the same graceful movement to overcome the simple visual style. The background art lacks personality and detail. The character designs range from completely bland and uninteresting to memorable. Sora and Rosetta, fit into the latter category, while most of the other character designs leave little impression. The music had a very strong presence in the series, and it was definitely good quality, with rousing instrumentals and melancholic strings tugging at the heart when required. However, it was far too repetitive; far more music is required for a series of this length to stop the tracks from overstaying their welcome. The OPs and EDs were relatively good. I watched the first and second OPs every episode, but was appalled by the 3rd.
The plot, looked at in isolation, is very weak indeed, marred by inconsistency and incongruence, especially in the way the plot for season 1 is wholly confused by that of season 2. The way terms like “true Kaleido Star” were thrown about really annoyed me, in much the same way as the over-use of the Angel/Demon analogy in season 2. It all felt so contrived and silly, as though it was an attempt to give the stage some sort of misplaced mythology that ended up just being a distraction from the performances themselves. Furthermore, Leon Oswald’s backstory, and his frequent visions of Sophie grated my patience, because they were a symptom of the overall problem with the second half of the story, which is immature and simplistic plot development. Everything was given parallel and faux meaning with such forceful blatancy that it became a nagging irritation. However, unlike most series, the plot is not the backbone of the show, and with its strong characterisation and emotional themes, it can stand on its feet without the need for a concrete story to support it.
Kaleido Star is no great achievement as an anime series from a technical or cynical perspective. If you watch past the first season, the plot becomes haphazardly thrown together and nauseatingly unsophisticated. However, for its colour, vitality and charm, Kaleido Star proves to be a worthy entertainer/ Perhaps ones could look at the series for advice about why it is so enjoyable – like Sora’s stage play, it is unpretentious fun, and manages to keep itself at an arms length away from derivative clichés. And more than just light-hearted fluff, it has the potential to wet the eyes of all its viewers through Sora’s trials and mesmerising triumphs.
6: Full Moon wo Sagashite
English: Searching for the Full Moon
MAL Score: 7.95
Two years ago, Mitsuki Kouyama’s friend, Eichi Sakurai, moved to America before she could confess her feelings to him. Though she cannot contact him, they made a promise to fulfill their respective dreams: Mitsuki wants to become a professional singer, and Eichi an astronomer. She hopes that one day her music will reach him across the world with a brilliance like that of the full moon.
There is just one catch: Mitsuki suffers from throat cancer, which makes her voice quiet and singing strenuous. Her grandmother, who has a hatred of music, insists that Mitsuki undergo surgery to remove the cancer, but she refuses due to the risk of losing her voice. One day, two shinigami—Meroko Yui and Takuto Kira—appear to tell her that she only has one year left to live. This sudden revelation spurs Mitsuki into action, and she decides that with Meroko and Takuto’s help, she will become a professional singer in the time she has left.
Full Moon wo Sagashite follows the emotional story of Mitsuki and her shinigami friends as they discover what it means to sing—and ultimately, what it means to live.
While Full Moon wo Sagashite may not see like much on the surface — little girl has a life-threatening disease, wants to sing, and becomes sixteen years old with the help of two friendly shinigami — it becomes so much more deeper as the series move on. This anime doesn\’t shrink away from the uncomfortable subjects of death and suicide, and that is wonderfully refreshing. While initially cutesy on the surface, Full Moon wo Sagashite has a deep, moving storyline that touches upon every human emotion. I don\’t think I\’ve ever cried so much while watching an anime, and I doubt any other can truly touch me as much as Full Moon wo Sagashite did.
Many people complain that the first half of the series is comprised of filler episodes. While this may be true when first watching them, I don\’t think the second half would come off nearly as well without those \"fillers\". They developed the characters, showed you who they really were and what they were looking for, and prepared you for the emotional roller coaster that is the second half of Full Moon wo Sagashite. So, even if you\’re bored during the first half, I implore you to see the series to the end. You won\’t regret it.
I initially didn\’t like the character designs all that much, particularly that of Full Moon. After a while, however, the art smoothed out and became even pleasing. So, not the best, but not the worst either.
There\’s only one way to describe the music of Full Moon wo Sagashite: absolutely astounding. Every song (most of which were sung by myco, Mitsuki\’s seiyuu) was wonderful in its own way. While I didn\’t particularly like the two OPs, they grew on me after a while. Still, nothing can touch the four EDs this show has. My personal favorite is New Future, although Eternal Snow is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Another plus of Full Moon wo Sagashite are the characters. Meroko and Izumi have become two of my favorite characters, although Izumi doesn\’t really come into his own in the anime. His soft side is only shown in the last episode, but that moment is definitely worth it.
The one quibble I have concerning the characters is that their back stories aren\’t as fully explained as they were in the manga. Meroko and Izumi\’s pasts are barely brushed upon, which is a real disappointment. Still, Meroko comes off as one of the best — if not THE best — characters in the entire series.
I will never forget watching Full Moon wo Sagashite. It is certainly an experience, especially for the last fifteen or so episodes.
One thing that really struck me was the ending. I\’ve never come across an anime with such a perfect ending. Everything was tied up, and the emotions that came across were just… mind-blowing. I think I actually sobbed the entire last episode.
So, as a parting note, I urge you to give Full Moon wo Sagashite a try. I did, and it became one of my top five anime.
Pros: Incredible story, characters, and music; best anime ending EVER
Cons: So-so character design at times, not enough back story
Story – 10/10
At first, this looks like the typical shoujo series directed at young girls, thanks to all the bright colours and cute characters. From the synopsis, it looks like a sad and depressing anime about death. But it’s so much more than that.
We meet the main character, Mitsuki, who is a young girl with throat cancer and whose biggest dream is to become a great singer and maybe one day meet the boy she loves, but who left for America two years ago. One day she is visited by two death gods (the Shinigami) – Takuto and Meroko, who tell her she only has one year to live. But instead of sulking and feeling sorry for herself, Mitsuki decides that since she only has one year, she’ll make the best of it. Instead of being stuck at home, always worrying about her health, she’ll give it all and try to achieve her dream of a singing career. When she goes to audition, the shinigami Takuto decides to help her a little bit, by transforming her body into a healthy 16-year-old. Against all odds, Mitsuki is chosen at the audition. In that moment, even going against the Shinigami rules, Takuto and Meroko decide to help her with her dream, in the time that she has left.
This series is slightly similar to the "magical girl" genre (examples: Fancy Lala, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne or Pretear), but not exactly. Takuto has the ability to transform Mitsuki’s body into a healthy 16-year-old’s, but she doesn’t gain magical powers. Even though this is a show about a dying girl, it manages to be very positive and inspiring. There’s a very good mixture of comedy and drama, with some scenes that will make you laugh hard and others that will make you cry like a baby.
In the first half of the series there are a lot of filler episodes. I guess they contribute to the development of the characters and to add realism to the story. As Mitsuki progresses in her career, she has to go through photoshoots, sound checks, clothes’ design, interviews, autograph sessions, etc. If you’re patient and watch that, you’ll get to the good stuff.
In the later half, there are considerably less filler episodes. The plot gets much more complex and interesting. The mood changes to a darker tone. The last 13 episodes are really the best ones and will make you stick to the screen waiting to see what happens. There are a few plot twists.
At last, the ending. I’d say it’s the BEST ending in anime that I’ve ever watched. There are no loose ends. Everything gets explained.
Visuals – 8/10
The light colours really make it look like an anime for young kids. I’d compare the overall visuals of this anime to those of Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne. The characters were appealing and the shading was well done. Don’t expect something 3D-like. There is little computer animation, only present in a few scenes. But although simple, I though it had good visuals.
Audio – 9/10
Full Moon wo Sagashite has one of the best anime soundtracks ever. Even though you’ll hear many, many times songs like "Myself" or "Eternal Snow", you’ll never grow tired of them. "Myself", "Eternal Snow", "New Future", "Smile" and "Love Chronicle", by the band Changin’ My Life, are sang by Myco, who is Mitsuki’s voice actress. So you don’t have to worry about Mitsuki’s 12-year-old voice being different from the 16-year-old… because they were done by the same person.
I absolutely hated the openings. "I Love You" and "Rock’n’Roll Princess" by The*Scanty. Why? First because they don’t sound good. Second because they make the whole anime look so childish that only 4-year-olds would watch it. Ignore the openings! The anime isn’t THAT childish!
And, best for last, the voice actor for Takuto, Yasuo Saitou. He has a really nice voice and can be very expressive. But best of all, there are scenes where he has to sing… and he does it perfectly.
Characters – 9/10
This anime has all kinds of characters. Some that you’ll instantly fall in love with, others that you’ll instantly hate. And you might even change your opinion on a few of them, once you get to know them better. I really like the character development in this anime. You’ll progressively learn more about each character… it’s motivations or even it’s past. You’ll be impressed! Each character is unique in it’s own way and you can’t apply a stereotype to it. They interact extremely well with each other and you’ll definitely feel connected to them.
Overall – 9/10
I absolutely loved this anime. At first I thought it was really childish, but my friends ASSURED me it was worth watching… so I endured the more boring parts and kept watching… and it was totally worth it. It has become my favourite one. You’ll want to re-watch it many times, even if it does have 52 episodes. I’ve watched the whole thing 3 times, in 6 months.
The anime is very different from the manga, but it’s still faithful. And you’ll find this intersting: when they made the ending for this anime, the manga still hadn’t ended. But still, they made an extremely good ending.
Give it a try! It’ll be worth it! No matter how old you are or even if you’re a guy or a girl, it can be appreciated by anyone!
“Full Moon wo Sagashite” is quite a heart warming anime about a little girl who wants to become a singer, but only has one year to live because of the tumour in her throat. Spanning 52 episodes, it was one of the longest anime I watched at the time. To be honest, I think it could have been amazing if it was reduced to half its length – I found the series as a whole to be a bit of a struggle to get through, as most of the episodes up until about episode 40 are actually disposable, girly fluff. Watching “Full Moon wo Sagashite” will pretty much give you the very definition of what a “filler” episode is, because it contains so many of them. I disagree with people who say that these fillers are necessary for character developments purposes – most of them they don’t really reveal much beyond the fact that Mitsuki is a boringly nice person. I’ve seen anime that’s done waaay more and waaaay better character development in its first THIRTEEN episodes than this anime’s done in its first THIRTY *cough*SeikaiNoMonshou*cough*, which just goes to show you don’t need a mass of filler episodes to do a decent a job. Most of these fillers aren’t even very enjoyable to watch. They’re mostly very generic shoujo material and generally fall somewhere between the “dull” and the “mediocre” sections of the scale in terms of entertainment. This is not to say the first 40 episodes of “Full Moon wo Sagashite” is totally worthless. Some of those episodes do progress the storyline a bit (like, a couple of inches) and there are some pretty good standalone episodes as well, but they tend to be few and far in between.
Another thing I found odd is why everyone seem to rate the music from “Full Moon wo Sagashite” so highly – just because it’s an anime about music doesn’t automatically make the music on it good. To me, the music production for “Full Moon wo Sagashite” is very good at best and awkward at worst. For starters, what’s up with Mitsuki’s singing voice? Her voice sounds nice when she talks, and fits that pure and innocent image that she plays, but when she sings, she sounds completely different, and not in a good way. For one thing, she sounds about 10 years older, and her voice has an irritating sandy quality to it. For another, she sounds like she’s trying too hard to inject emotions into the songs, to the point where she starts to sound really fake and unnatural. I’m really surprised to hear the person who does Mitsuki’s voice is a pop star – I’d never have guessed from her singing. It really says a lot when I much prefer the music box version of “Eternal Snow” to the proper vocal version. In fact I don’t think much of the vocal tracks in general. Normally, it is expected that that music in an anime would supplement the show by enhancing the atmosphere. But some of the vocal songs in this series are so bland that at times, it feels like it’s the anime that’s supplementing *them*, causing them to sound better than they actually are by playing them during emotional moments. In addition to this, a lot songs are criminally overplayed… especially the more mediocre ones, which might have been a good thing in a way, because it took quite a few hearings before I got used to the grating vocals. The background music proved to be far superior than the vocal tracks. From the gentle, warm moments to the occasional eerie, chilling ones, it consistently does the job perfectly whenever called upon.
The original idea behind story’s was good, especially with twists building up towards the end, but it is diluted by the massive amounts of filler episodes and took too long to get going. There are times when any resemblance of realism goes out of the window. Normally this happens when Mitsuki’s talking to her shinigumi friends in a dead loud voice – even shouting at times – with other people standing around. She could at least pretend to whisper, but no, she has to talk in her normal voice and it seems that hardly anyone notices, which really bugs me. An example of how it could have been done better would be in “Hikaru no Go”, where people would actually look at Hikaru weirdly when he gets too noisy interacting with the spirit. There’s also the cancer aspect that’s so wrapped up in sugar coating that it’s totally unconvincing. Like many people, I’ve experienced the pain of losing someone close to me to cancer, and the fact that this anime completely failed to connect to me on this front is saying an awful lot. All they’ve done is have Mitsuki clutch at her throat every 10 episodes or so, and occasionally fall ill at the storyline’s convenience, for the most part there is no sense of urgency, no resemblance of the terrifying progression that’s so typical of the condition. All I’m left with is a sense that it’s just essentially used as a plot device, and not much more than that.
“Full Moon wo Sagashite” has got some good characters, but again, they’re no where near as good as they’re hyped up to be, and they don’t really do much in the early part of the series (when there’s a downpour of the supposedly character developing filler episodes, ironically), and only broke out of their 2D personalities when the plot got going later on. I also have major issues with the relationships that goes on in the anime, specifically with the romance aspect of it. I’m surprised that not many people have said anything about this, but hasn’t anyone else noticed that when Eichi, the boy Mitsuki’s in love with, made his “declaration of love” to her, he was about 15-16 and Mitsuki was about 10?! Is it just me that finds this a “tad” unrealistic, not to mention a “tad” dodgy as well?! I can kind of imagine where Mitsuki’s feelings might come from, but Eichi should know better at his age than to try and seduce a 10 year old 😛 Perhaps Eichi should change his name to “Ecchi”, as that’s more inline with the kind of things he seems to be into. I don’t know why they insisted on making this a romantic relationship – it would have been far more appropriate to play the relationship off as a big brother and little sister one rather than this sickening “ooooh Mitsuki, I love you! Even though I’m nearly a young adult now and you’ve barely entered double figures in terms of age” cack. Those scenes never failed to make me cringe. Also, Takuto was supposed to be 12 when he was in a band (yeah this seems a bit young too, considering his band didn’t exactly look like a kids band), so why is he seen riding a motorbike during one of the flashbacks? Now, the explanation may be because he was in the band for a number of years during which time he’d grown up into an adult and was able to learn to ride a motorbike… but this raises the question of why he started falling for a 12 year old girl if he was already so old when he became a shinigumi?!? I wasn’t under any impression that the anime is trying to portray all the boys in it as perverts. What is this obsession with shoehorning romance into absolutely everything these days? Is it really so hard making a shoujo without resorting to this? It’s because of this apparent obligation to make a love story that we’re stuck with these plot holes and rather contrived relationships.
This otherwise stale series is salvaged from mediocrity by the sheer brilliance of its final ten or so episodes that really breathed life into the show. I always thought there was too much sunshine in the early episodes given the premises of the story, but here, the anime rectifies the situation by taking a darker and more depressing turn. With the previously pedestrian story suddenly breaking into a sprint, and the character interactions suddenly becoming interesting, it’s here that the anime really starts to earn its praise. It’s so good that it’s probably worth wading through the previous 40 episodes just so you can watch the last 10. With so many compelling twists happening in the last part of the story, I was actually expecting something more original than the most cliched ending imaginable that I got, especially considering that it’s so often touted to be “the best ending ever”. Still, I’ll admit it is a very good ending – they’ve taken something pretty predictable and executed it pretty much to perfection – but like the rest of the anime, it’s just no where near deserving its “best” label.
Overall, I think “Full Moon wo Sagashite” is an enjoyable, “feel-good” anime, even if it did need the last ten or so episodes to drag it kicking and screaming up to this level of praise. I think the makers made a pretty cunning decision to save those best parts till last – I suspect the strength of those later episodes made people forget how unremarkable most of the rest of the series is. I however, haven’t forgotten, and I stand by my claim that this should really have been condensed down to 26 episodes, not left at 52.
5: Hanada Shounen-shi
MAL Score: 8.00
Ichiro Hanada is a hyperactive little boy who lives with his parents, sister, and grandfather in a rural town. He is always up to some kind of mischief, often teasing his sister or making rude comments to others. Consequently, his mother constantly scolds him, and even the neighbours express disturbance from time to time on how rowdy he can be.
One day, after pulling a terrible prank, Ichiro sprints onto the streets as his mother chases him. He steals a nearby bicycle and takes on a dangerous route, eventually being hit by a truck. Miraculously, he survives the crash, requiring nine stitches to the back of his head and balding for the surgery. However, the near-death experience gains him the ability to see ghosts—the last thing he needs in his life.
Since Ichiro is the only one who can communicate with them, several ghosts of people who have recently died come to him, seeking help to fulfill their last wishes before achieving enlightenment. Each adventure with a ghost leaves the young and curious boy with a different lesson that gradually makes him wiser.
Above all, it’s really, really funny.
While it’s not for the very young (there is some brief nudity, some fairly mature emotional stuff, and Ichiro swears like a sailor at his mother), the many qualities of the show should appeal to a fairly wide range of people.
We meet young Ichiro Hanada doing what he does best – fighting with his mother. He sasses and insults her constantly, and argues with his entire family, who certainly don’t pull any punches with him, either. His happy-drunk father and grandfather often tease him relentlessly. He also really loves to eat. Of course, Ichiro’s selfishness and foul temper make him bring it all on himself. In fact, it’s while fleeing from a fight with his mother that he gets into the accident which sets the story in motion.
Ichiro is hit by a truck, and has a near-death experience. He has a vision of his recently deceased grandmother, who helps him get back to his body and wake up in the hospital, still alive. None of this affects Ichiro’s temperament, however. The only difference is that he now has a scar across the back of his head, which was shaved bald for the surgery. And for some reason his hair won’t grow back.
Ichiro soon learns that he can see and hear spirits. He has no idea what’s going on, and gets frightened when the first one appears. It turns out that his accident gave him the special ability to communicate with the spirits of those who have just died but have not yet "passed on" to the other side. They all seem to have some unfinished business keeping them in limbo, and they enlist Ichiro’s help. Naturally, Ichiro hates it, and refuses, and at first the ghosts have to resort to scaring him half to death to get him to cooperate.
Eventually, he gets used to the nagging spirits. They come in all sorts of varieties, and have different reasons for seeking Ichiro’s help. There’s the father who wants to tell his son that it’s okay for his mother to marry again, an old man who happened to die in an undignified position and needs help, and a student who died while still a virgin and wants to see a naked woman before he goes. There’s even a phony medium who, although she used to con people by pretending to be clairvoyant, actually developed real powers as a spirit.
Ichiro goes through a lot of personal trials in the midst of all this, slowly but surely learning not to be such a little monster. He learns a different lesson on life from each adventure with a spirit.
The series ends in a nice place, but the manga is apparently still going. Ichiro eventually grows up, and his ability to see spirits is passed on to his son. It would be great to see some new animated adventures at some point, so long as it’s done with the same care and skill.
What makes this show so great is like Mushishi (which is the depressing mature version of this) its episodic yet doesnt follow the same pattern making it unpredictable and engaging as not every episode has a happy ending, some tragic, some funny and some out right inspirational.
Dont let the cover fool you, this is a seinen anime and gets better after every episode. My only hang with it is the awful opening and eding choices of songs, other than that, this show is flawless
Right from the start we got introduced to Ichiro Hanada, a mischievous boy – as all kids should be. He’s always cursing everyone around him and doing stuff that drive them crazy. One faithful day, he got himself in a traffic accident. Fortunately, he’s safe but after that near-death experience, he found himself seeing ghost and from there the journey of our little reluctant hero begins.
This anime took a very different approach from the usual. It’s very straightforward, aggressive and surprisingly heart-warming. Its story is divided into small arcs when little Ichiro have to deal with the ghost’s problems. And that’s the shining part of this show, the plots of this anime is simple yet engaging, lovely to watch and in the same time, pretty touching. It shows that you don’t need big words or complicated problems to make a good story, keep it simple and close to the heart is what make the experiences watching Hanada Shounen-shi unforgettable.
And then the characters, my god, are lovable. They interact with each other like human beings, not cliched characters we often see on screen nowadays. With Ichiro in the spotlight, this anime succeeded in keeping the viewers in seat. Ichiro is a kind-hearted kid, he might talk a little too rude but he got good intentions with him. He’s also unpredictable. Watching him is such a joy. The humour of Hanada Shounen-shi is often on point with slight moments of offensive.
Overall, Hanada Shounen-shi is a case where you should not judge a book by its cover. You will miss out a lot on this amazing anime with full of heart-touching moments and happiness. I realize how important the people around to me now after watching this show.
4: Full Metal Panic Fumoffu
English: Full Metal Panic Fumoffu
Japanese: フルメタル パニック ふもっふ
MAL Score: 8.05
Sergeant Sousuke Sagara returns to Jindai High School to protect the precious war asset, Kaname Chidori, from any threat. However, his lack of social skills and real-life experience result in comical yet dangerous situations, endangering the peaceful school life Kaname longs for. As Sousuke continues to bring a wide range of weapons to school as a means to solve threats—real or fake—Kaname struggles to fulfill her duty as the student council vice president all while keeping him in check.
To ensure a successful mission, Sousuke is occasionally forced to use the costume of a famous amusement park mascot called Bonta-kun. With his technical expertise, he eventually transforms the exuberant uniform into a cutting-edge exoskeleton that has only one dysfunction: the voice translator can only produce the sound “mofu.”
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu depicts the adventures of Kaname and Sousuke as they try to live their normal school lives despite the chaos they inadvertently cause.
The story in Fumoffu follows, as mentioned, Chidori and Sosuke’s wacky high school life, and has none of the mecha aspects that FMP! had. This means that there is room for tons of comedy – given that you liked that part of FMP! You’ll see everything from bacteriological weapons to flirt contests in this series, and not to mention, Sosuke’s total lack of "street smarts". There is no continuous story from episode to episode, except two episodes which were tied together. Some of the episodes also feature two mini-episodes at around 10 mins. each instead of one full-length episode. While this system wouldn’t have worked with, let’s say, FMP!, it works perfectly for an all-out comedy show like Fumoffu. I see some people rate the story with a 4 because it’s really no story (and I kinda agree with them on that), but I’m giving it a 9, because I consider what happens in each episode as well in my rating.
The artwork is as great as it was in FMP!. The coloring is better than most series out there, and other effects are okay. And while above average overall, it’s nothing really spectacular, and so it ends up on a 9.
The soundtrack isn’t much to brag about, and the worst aspect of the series, if you ask me. I hardly noticed it was there, and when I did, I can’t say I was impressed. The only exception is the OP/ED themes, which were great, but not good enough to raise the music to a score of 8.
The characters are the same old people I learned to love in FMP!, and that love was enough to cover up for the big lack of character development – they were the same old characters throughout the 12 episodes. But then again, I didn’t really expect much character development since it’s a comedy show. The side characters that were introduced were really hilarious, especially that crazy police woman. I’m stuck on an 8.5 here, too bad MAL doesn’t have the ability to put in X.5 scores >_<
All in all, I enjoyed the show a lot, and I laughed almost all the time. To summarize: If you liked FMP! and it’s characters, and most importantly, the comedy aspects of the show, you have to watch Fumoffu.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Does this anime really have a story? Almost every episode is divided into two sub-episodes parts, which equals two stories per episode. Mostly one has nothing to do with the other episodes. Now if Fumoffu doesn’t have a story why is so good? Easy: In the first season the anime focuses, almost all the time, in the belic conflicts that “Mythril” has with different terrorist organizations. But the thing is that they’ve created amazing-over the top characters, characters they have to show off in another way, in a theme that accentuates more the masterwork they’ve done: a comedy theme, and not in the serious-storyline theme that characterized the first season. This is called fan service my friends.
Now which place is the most popular for an anime to take place and to develop? The answer is simple: school. This ambiance is used now in almost all animes simply because is part of the formula, a formula that is successful. This season is made mainly because of the lack of that “school development” that the first season has. If you watch Fumoffu carefully, you’ll notice that almost every single thing is school-related. In the end, no story at all, only fan service, very well done fan service.
The art and design are not that different from the original Full Metal Panic! The characters keep looking good and smooth. The only thing that changes is the locations that, this time, are more detailed. In Fumoffu the school location is a lot more detailed: new sub-locations inside the school are shown (club rooms, school council room, principal’s room, etc.) and new characters are introduced to complement the roles inside the school. Note that in this anime you ain’t seeing Mechas (well if you can count Bonta-kun as one xD!).
Regarding opening-ending and BGM’s, I have to say that FMP is superior to Fumoffu. However, Fumoffu does take voice acting to new horizons. The voices of Chidori and Sagara are a lot more relaxed and funny. Also, love the Fumo!!! Fumoffu! sound that Bonta-kun does, it may seem childish but in the end, it’s really one of the most hilarious stuff this anime has to offer. Nice sound but as a “sequel” it doesn’t outstand its predecessor.
Full Metal Panic! has always characterized by having one of the best casts of characters around. Well, Fumoffu does really make these characters look better, if possible than the original FMP. The way Sagara and Chidori go to school every day, Sagara’s paranoia and Chidori’s violent personality do help Fumoffu reach the pinnacle in comedy anime. I mean is obvious if you watched the first FMP that the characters are just unique in many ways.
I definitely enjoyed this anime from the first minute to the last one. FMP F offers 100% guaranteed entertainment, even if you know nothing about FMP this anime is a must-watch. Fumoffu is almost at a masterpiece level, the only problem with this show is that it can be VERY random but, then again, that is what makes it funny, isn’t it?
Full Metal Panic Fumoffu is probably the funniest anime I have ever seen. It routinely places Souske\’s vast military expertise and relatively little common sense into the spotlight. This show is filled with explosions, rubber bullets and misunderstandings. No matter what the problem is, it can always be solved by a combination of Chidori\’s level headed approach and Souske\’s arsenal of wacky weaponry.
Speaking of wacky weaponry, this show also introduces my favorite anime character, Bunta-kun: a six foot tall, heavily modified and armed theme park entertainer.
This show is way out there, very funny and a must see for any military otaku.
I would recommend watching the first two or three episodes of Full Metal Panic before seeing this, but it is not necessary.
3: Hikaru no Go
English: Hikaru no Go
MAL Score: 8.09
While searching through his grandfather’s attic, Hikaru Shindou stumbles upon an old go board. Touching it, he is greeted by a mysterious voice, and soon after falls unconscious. When he regains his senses, he discovers that the voice is still present and belongs to Sai Fujiwara no, the spirit of an ancient go expert. A go instructor for the Japanese Emperor in the Heian Era, Sai’s passion for the game transcends time and space, allowing him to continue playing his beloved game as a ghostly entity. Sai’s ultimate goal is to master a divine go technique that no player has achieved so far, and he seeks to accomplish this by playing the board game through Hikaru.
Despite having no interest in board games, Hikaru reluctantly agrees to play, executing moves as instructed by Sai. However, when he encounters the young go prodigy Akira Touya, a passion for the game is slowly ignited within him. Inspired by his newfound rival, Hikaru’s journey into the world of go is just beginning.
The first thing to do is to collect the entire series of 75 episodes, the special and the Journey to Hokuta Cup before you start. One of the most amazing things about Hikaru No Go is it’s ability to capture the viewer from the get go, once you start watching, it’s like you don’t want to stop. Every episode except for Story Arc endings is a mini-cliffhanger motivating you to start the next episode. This perfection of editing and pacing has not been achieved by many other anime.
The story centers around Shindou Hikaru, a 12 year old school boy. He’s just had his allowance cut and was in the midst of rummaging through his grandfather’s garage looking for something to sell for money when he picks up a "Go" board inhabited by the ghost of Fujiwara No Sai, a genius Go player from the Heian dynasty. Sai has unfinished business in this world, he wants to achive "The Divine Hand or Hand of God" in go. He possesses then haunts Hikaru ~ all he wants to do is play Go.
Initially Hikaru lets Sai play by moving the stones for him but he starts to fall in love with the game and starts playing himself. The series is a coming-of-age, maturing of new talent, exposure to the competitive world of Go and the beauty of the game. There’s a nice large cast of supporting characters, all of which are fascinating in their own right.
The soundtrack is wonderful and fits the scenes well. The animation does have some frame reuse but it’s done by the same artist who did Death Note and is good. As the series continues you can physically "see" the characters growing up, they get taller and their faces change.
One of the reasons Hikaru No Go is such a good anime is because Sai is the best anime character ever created (in my opinion). He’s very loveable, smart, funny, honorable AND he’s a Go genius.He shows amazing patience with Hikaru’s moods and childishness, not just being his friend but also teaching and mentoring him from nothing to greatness at Go. Sai is just one of those characters you’ll never forget. He has a big heart.
Having dated a nationally ranked chess player in my wild and mis-spent youth, I was amazed at how faithfully the series captures the world of competitive board game sports ~ rivalry, one-up manship, jealousy, excessive obsession with the game, psychological warfare, pushy teachers, they’re all there and exist in real life. Even a person who doesn’t play Go can understand it as it is presented in the anime.
The series has many layers of philosophy behind it that escape most people the first time around.
* How great is a person’s desire for something?
* Can one live, obsessed with a game and winning?
* To achieve greatness there is always a price one must pay, in time, or friendships sacrificed by oneself or others. How far should one go?
* How should one deal with or live with regrets from one’s past actions?
* Do people care about legacy and what should one try to leave behind?
* If a goal seems "unreachable / unattainable" is it still worth pursuing?
On surface the plot seems simple but in reality it’s very profound, that’s one of the reasons I consider this series a masterpiece. It could easily go on for another 75 episodes and I would want them all. Even after it ended, I was still thinking about it and craving more. I even started playing Go online. The manga sparked a resurgence of interest in Go in Japan, wih some message boards featuring posts by Go professionals stating that they wish they could play against Sai. For an anime to arouse this level of interest is amazing. Hikaru No Go deserves to rank much higher than it does, it is truly a masterpiece.
It starts out very simle, in a way you’ve probably seen before. The main character, Shindou Hikaru, encounters a paranormal apparition by coincidence while stumbling around in his shed, and only he can see it. Said apparition is, in fact, the ghost of a skilled Go player from the past, Fujiwara no Sai. He really wants to play a game of Go, and as such Hikaru brings him along to a Go salon, where he finds a kid his age which he can play. Since only Hikaru sees Sai, Hikaru must play the pieces for him. Of course, fate throws a twist by letting the opponent be a prodigy almost strong enough to become a professional Go player. Sai, skilled as he is, beats this kid, Touya Akira, to a pulp. From here, a wild goose chase after the illusion of Hikaru starts. Sai of coruse manages to get Hikaru into the game, and he eventually chases after Akira. As such we have Hikaru chasing after Akira, who again is chasing what he thinks is Hikaru. Voilá, the stage is set for an intense anime full of emotions, drama and, of course, Go.
The plot from there is, for the most part, what I said above. Through tournaments, encounters at Go salons, school Go clubs, Inseis (aspiring professionals), and eventually the professional world of Go, we see these two chase after each other, and what remains in their wake. Quite honestly, the plot is very barebones, but that is completely irrelevant, because Hikaru no Go is in each and every way a character-driven series, which makes it in many ways more riveting and inspring than a plot-driven series.
And characters, we lack not. Aside the intense, heart-throbbing rivalry that develops between Akira and Hikaru, there are bucketloads of interesting side characters, who range from Go club members to hardened professionals who gaze as these two young players lead on a new wave of young and skilled Go players. Mostly everyone gets an acceptable amount of development, for example the challengers; why they play and what’s at stake for them are usually revealed in a gripping way – I surely don’t think I’ve ever rooted for ten characters when all of them posed as adversaries to the main character. The professionals and newspaper people’s reaction to these up-and-coming kids, it all seems so real you kind of experience their surprise and excitement at this.
But of course, I can’t get lost in the characters only; even though the characters are so good it’s easy to forget the artistic qualities of the show, one must not at all forget the music and animation, which both play an impressive behind-the-scenes role in making this series what it is.
Let me ask you one question: When you were a teen, or if you’re one now, have you ever looked at a picture from when you were two-three years younger? If so, the reaction “Holy mother of love, did I look *that* young?” is probably a familiar one. And when you watch this series, you’ll probably end up thinking the same. For this is indeed a coming-of-age anime, following Akira and Hikaru from sixth grade through ninth grade, or three years. Their growth, while seen mostly in their Go playing and their personalities, is also very much reflected in the animation. Towards the end of the series, I asked myself: “Did they always look like that?”. When they showed us flashbacks to the beginning, I realized, they did not. While you can recognize them, it is actually impressively easy to spot that they were different. Their faces, so much more child-like, and their stature lower. Much lower. I commend Pierrot for doing such a great job of reflecting their growth physically, too. It was so smooth that I couldn’t say from one episode to another that, “hey, he looks older!”, but on an overall basis, by skipping, say, twenty or so episodes at a time, I see that they gradually change.
Apart from that, the animators did an outstanding job. The next thing on the list is probably how they made the Go matches very interesting to watch. Just pain watching the stones being placed could’ve been very deterring, at least in the beginning. So instead they throw in a heap of special effects; lights, shadows, camera angles, intense effects when placing stones, even changing the background to make the game more in the center of attention, or even make a symbolic scape, for example the universe itself, symbolizing the “world” that is the Go board, and even the so-called Divine Move.
In general, Pierrot did an awesome job of making the show pretty to look at. Now, even in 2002 you had better-looking series, but it does not change the fact that it looks really nice. And they improve as they go on. It looks only mediocre in the first episode compared to the final episode. Among the stronger points I can mention clothes, backgrounds and effects when playing Go. The weaker parts are a bit annoying, but are mostly fixed upon as they go along, creating a most aesthetically enjoyable series. One problem is faces, which look a bit weird – at times some details are a bit misplaced -, but they do a nice job of expressiions, while not going overboard with them either, keeping a fairly serious tone. And later on, when I saw the sheer intensity in their eyes, I just thought “whoa!” and had to let a drop of sweat run down my cheek. The other problem is that sometimes when they placed stones on the board, the perspective was done entirely wrong, when the rest of the stones already there looked real nice. This, too, improved very much as the series went on, and in the latter stages I noticed very litte to none of this problem.
And now, the soundtrack, which was done quite nicely. No, that’s an understatement. It was inspiring and evocative, all the while not taking over the series, doing a nice job behind the scenes to build up and strengthen the emotional impacts of the show. The intense feelings of the games, the sad feelings that happened occasionally between characters, it was all done with music that reinforced those feelings and made it enjoyable to the point where I felt this tingling feeling in my stomach. The opening and ending themes are quite nice, too. The first opening, “Get Over” by Dream, especially; its synth-pop rythms and lyrics are very inspiring, but it doesn’t completely outmatch the others; they were all very strong candidates for favoritism and defnitely a worthwhile watch. Not to mention the final ending theme, which is a ten-minute half-instrumental, half-original mix of Get Over. That was a masterful piece of music.
All in all, Hikaru no Go provides sufficient character-driven, intense and emotional entertainment, which most people would find interesting. And don’t let the pretense of a baord game like Go deter you from watching; it is hhgly enjoyable, and though I didn’t really care for the Go, it remained interesting throughout the whole series. And the more enjoyable aspects of the show will definitely overshadow it if it comes to that. And for new and seasoned Go players alike, this is a very interesting ashow to watch!
Admittedly it’s been a few years since I watched Hikaru. Working in the time to rewatch a 75 episode series isn’t feasible when there’s other anime to watch out there. However, that doesn’t matter much as I will explain below.
Let’s talk about the story first:
I rated Hikaru no Go an 8 on story because I felt like while it’s exceptional, the story is pretty simply about Hikaru playing go. You might be wondering how a story can be exceptional with something so basic, but it isn’t about the go games themselves (which I’ll talk about in a few paragraphs) Rather it’s about Hikaru and the people he meets as he learns to play Go. It’s about his relationships with them and how he grows into manhood.
The fact this series takes place over several years is nice. In my opinion, there’s no better time to see a characters development than when they’re children. It’s something we can all relate to in some regard. Also, kids tend to be more expressive of their emotions which makes it easier to know what they’re thinking, which really helps in character development.
The number one reason you should watch this show is the character development. That being said, you might be curious to hear about the go aspect of the show.
Go is the primary focus of 90% of the characters you’ll meet. If you have no idea how to play go, let me give you the absolute minimal stuff you need to know.
Go is a game about territory. You place down stones to create territory and the goal is to have the most territory in the game. If someone surrounds a piece (or pieces) they take those pieces and gain more of the board’s territory.
That’s all you really need to understand about the game to enjoy the series. While you’re watching, I can almost guarantee you’ll want to learn more, but as the series goes on, you’ll find that it becomes too difficult to keep up with. Due to the fact that the game involves a deep sense of strategy once you move past the basics. But you don’t need that knowledge to enjoy the tension. You don’t need the knowledge to understand the joy of victory or the shock of defeat.
Give it a try if you really like character driven anime.
Hikaru no Go is a pretty old series at this point. 2001-2003 was over 10 years ago and obviously it wont compare to modern day animation. Nothing really bothered me about the art though, and so I don’t think my rating here should matter. But I’ll give it a “good” just to say that I had no problems with it.
Sound: The music in this series was always great for creating the right atmosphere. To emphasize this, I sometimes experienced a fuzziness through my body whenever I started hearing the ending music start playing when the episode was wrapping up. It was like they were pumping me up and making me excited to see the next episode.
Character: Like I mentioned in the story section, this is why you should watch Hikaru no Go.
Enjoyment: If you’re wondering if you’ll enjoy the series at this point, then let me offer a piece of advice. Watch the first opening (try to find the best quality you can) If that doesn’t convince you to at least watch an episode, then maybe it wont be your thing 😡
2: Fullmetal Alchemist
English: Fullmetal Alchemist
MAL Score: 8.13
Edward Elric, a young, brilliant alchemist, has lost much in his twelve-year life: when he and his brother Alphonse try to resurrect their dead mother through the forbidden act of human transmutation, Edward loses his brother as well as two of his limbs. With his supreme alchemy skills, Edward binds Alphonse’s soul to a large suit of armor.
A year later, Edward, now promoted to the fullmetal alchemist of the state, embarks on a journey with his younger brother to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone. The fabled mythical object is rumored to be capable of amplifying an alchemist’s abilities by leaps and bounds, thus allowing them to override the fundamental law of alchemy: to gain something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of equal value. Edward hopes to draw into the military’s resources to find the fabled stone and restore his and Alphonse’s bodies to normal. However, the Elric brothers soon discover that there is more to the legendary stone than meets the eye, as they are led to the epicenter of a far darker battle than they could have ever imagined.
Isn’t it strange then, that such a well known human trait can so easily be mistaken for something else entirely?
Or is it simply a case of people not seeing what they don’t want to see, especially if there something new and shiny to watch?
Many anime fans are currently raving about the new series of Full Metal Alchemist, especially as it is an almost direct adaptation of the manga, however in the light of all this new found glory, the original adaptation has become the topic of much debate and controversy, especially by those who once praised the show for being something … a little different.
Now unlike many, the fact that the original adaptation didn’t follow the manga for much of its run was something that I wasn’t overly concerned about, and there’s a very good reason for this too. One of the issues I had with the manga, and in turn Brotherhood, was the fact that the tale is far more “shounen” than the original adaptation, and this difference in not only plot and story content, but overall perspective as well, is noticeable in a number of areas.
As far as pacing, plot, and depth of story goes, Full Metal Alchemist does lose out somewhat to Brotherhood, however this is partly due to the fact that Arakawa Hiromu had far more time to produce a story that worked, whereas the writers for the original adaptation only had part of Arakawa’s work to play with, and had to make up the rest.
Normally this would be the cause for a number of issues, not the least of which is continuity, however Full Metal Alchemist never really suffered from those except where the numerous, and unnecessary, comedy moments were included. That said, what the writers achieved was actually quite remarkable, as they produced a tale that is very clearly about one thing only – obsession – and in that respect, they actually managed to score quite a major coup over Arakawa’s tale.
Some of you may be a tad confused by where this is all going, but fear not, it will become clearer as we get into more detail. Let’s talk more about the actually show itself for a moment though.
In terms of looks, the original adaptation managed to transpose the characters fairly well, and while they didn’t really require any bouts of creativity in general, there were a few new faces as, at the time, the manga hadn’t actually introduced all the players. As for the various locations in which the characters find themselves, the first adaptation generally followed the path laid down by the manga, however there were also some surprisingly original and inventive additions to the various locales, many of which are unique to this particular adaptation.
Strangely enough though, the quality of the animation is almost the same as that of Brotherhood, and given the large degree of crossover in both adaptations, this is actually surprising as usually one version is greatly superior to the other. That said, the new series does have the advantage of seven years of improvements in animation, so one would be forgiven for thinking the margin between the two would be bigger.
Where sound and music are concerned, one might expect more pronounced differences between the two adaptations, however this is not the case. The selection of music for the first adaptation is actually very good throughout the series, and also gave rise to one of the catchiest opening themes in shounen anime – “Ready Steady Go” by L’Arc-en-Ciel. The aural effects are well chosen and choreographed, and while there are many occasions that feature frenetic clashes and lots of noise, care has generally been taken to modulate this to a level that won’t unnerve the viewer (admittedly there are some minor overwhelming moments, but they’re not really worth going into any detail as they don’t really affect the story in any way).
As for the acting, granted there are some different seiyuu between the two adaptations, but the series’ big guns are in force in both. That said, while there is some acting continuity between the two, the actual quality is a little better in Brotherhood, however this may be due to an increased familiarity with the characters, and also because Brotherhood is far more a straight forward shounen tale than the original adaptation- something which actually shows in the acting.
And now to the most interesting bit – the characters.
Unlike both the manga and Brotherhood, the original anime adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist featured some surprising and unique characters, not the least of which is Edward Elric himself.
But before we get into that though, let’s talk Homunculi.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the original series was the nomenclature given to the homunculi, and although their names and purpose have been “clarified” by the manga and Brotherhood, the writers for the original adaptation didn’t have this knowledge, so they actually made them work in a completely different way. The whole deal with the Seven Sins is very different in the first anime, as the writers used the homunculus to highlight the aspect of obsession throughout the series. This is why the first anime adaptation had them being “born” in a particular manner, rather than the more trite reasoning given in the manga and Brotherhood much later.
The homunculi are effectively born from the obsession of humans, a theme which is also present in Arakawa’s version of the story, even though it has been downplayed a lot.
So what does this have to do with the characters? Well, rather a lot actually. Throughout the whole series, there are very few characters who don’t show any of the visible signs that one would normally associate with obsessive behaviour, and this is because they’re cleverly hidden for the most part. From Maes Hughes’ constant babble about his daughter, to Winry’s love of automail. From Izumi Curtis’ longing for her baby, to Dante’s desire for immortality (incidentally, one has to wonder why that particular character was called Dante).
And right at the top of the list is Edward Elric.
In essence, his obsession with being better than his father is what starts the whole chain of events, which then turns to his obsession with the Philosopher’s Stone, and so on. The surprising thing though, is that Ed never actually lets go of his desires in the same manner that others who attempted human transmutation did, and there is actually proof of this too. One look at the manner of Alphonse Elric’s return to his body, as well as the nature of that return, will highlight just how very different this show is to Arakwa’s version, and how different the mentality is come the end.
And if you want more clarification on this, then feel free to ask.
The characters are actually pretty well developed throughout the series, and it’s a testament to the writer’s and seiyuu’s abilities that they turned out as well as they did. That’s not to say there aren’t any problems, however the flaws with the characters stem mainly from a difference in goals and perspective rather than any real lack of talent.
In all honesty, it’s difficult to decide which version is actually better as the differences in plot, theme and character development make this version and Arakawa’s two very different tales. That said, there will be those who fall on one side or the other, some preferring the darker nature of the first adaptation while others like the more direct approach of the manga and Brotherhood. Personally, I found both versions to be very good, especially as the route that Arakawa’s tale takes bears almost no resemblance to this one. While there are some broad similarities between the two in terms of locale, characters and basic plot, in actuality these are only skin deep, as the original adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist deviates quite a lot from the typical shounen sensibilities come the end of the series. The obsessive theme of the first adaptation is a far cry from what one is given in the manga and Brotherhood.
Regardless of which version one prefers though, the simple fact is that we, as anime fans, have been given two great takes on the story, and we should count ourselves lucky to have such a wealth as all too often we must suffer through mediocrity and crap just find some entertainment.
It just a shame that so many people feel the need to side with one version or the other …
Now I’m sure most of you already know the story. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse attempt to bring back their mother and as a consequence for going against the law of equivalent exchange, Ed loses his right arm and left leg. And Alphonse loses his entire body to only have his soul become bonded to a suit of armor. With the help of their childhood friend Winery, she constructs an automail leg and arm for Ed. Soon, they learn about this special artifact known as the Philosophers stone, it has the ability to defy the laws of alchemy and perform the taboo known as human transmutation. Eventually they come to the conclusion that their best bet in hopes of finding the stone would be to join the military. Although, Ed is the only one who joins because he insisted on doing so. And so they embark on their journey. Along the way, the brothers encounter corrupt government officials, homunculi, chimeras and more.
As far as the story goes, it’s fantastic. Especially considering the fact that this anime is a shonen. FMA has a far more intricate and complex plot then shonens like One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto or Bleach. Thematically, it delves into area’s that you wouldn’t expect a show of its kind to do. What’s a life worth? An arm? A leg? An entire body? Can human’s play the role of god ? Should we even be allowed to play the role of god in the first place? Can we disrupt the flow of nature? So yeah, Fullmetal Alchemist is smarter then your average shonen!
Also, the setting of the anime takes place in a fictionalized version of early 20th century Europe during the industrial revolution. The majority of the show takes place in Amestris. A key part of the plot that I almost forgot to mention involves the neighboring nation of Ishval. Long ago, after the tragic incident of when an Amestrian officer shot an Ishvalan child in cold blood, a chaotic war erupted between the two nations. In the midst of the war, state alchemists were brought in to exterminate the Ishvalans through horrific acts of genocide. This is where the revenge driven Ishvalan named Scar comes in.
Speaking of characters, character wise, FMA is just as good. From Roy Mustang, to Riza Hawkeye, to the Elric brothers. All are given considerable amounts of depth. Take for example, the Elric brothers. Ed feels as if he got off easy because he still has his body and is burdened by this. Alphonse is constantly questioning his humanity, existence and whether or not he was a human to begin with ( his memory was erased when Ed bonded his soul to a suit of armor). And I just barely scratched the surface.
When it comes to the production values, yet again, this anime doesn’t disappoint. The animation is very crisp and fluid. It never lets up, character designs are good and remain consistent until the very end. The OST is also worth mentioning here. Michiru Oshima did a very good job. One track that stood out in particular was “Brothers.” Simply put, it was a beautifully done string instrumental over some harmonious Russian vocals. In regards to the opening and ending themes, they’re solid. Opening 4 was my personal favorite. Lastly, the voice acting. I’ll tell you right here and now that it is mandatory that you watch the dub instead of the sub. Why? Because, hands down without a doubt, Fullmetal Alchemist has one of the best dubs you’ll ever here in anime. It’s definitely one of Funimation’s best efforts. All the performances were fantastic from Vic Mignogna, to Aaron Dismuke, to Dameon Clarke, to Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of flaws here and there that prevent Fullmetal Alchemist from achieving perfection. Most notably the first 15 episode, these episodes were unevenly paced and it really didn’t get interesting until Scar showed up. Episodes 4, 5, 10-12 were completely unnecessary and felt very fillerish (I’m not sure but I think they were actually fillers, but don’t quote me on that).
Now of course, I can’t write a review without addressing the ending because it’s one of the reasons why anime fans have such a polarized reaction for this show. I personally liked the ending, it was very bitter sweet. It wasn’t like every other ending for a shonen where everything works out in the end and all the characters hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Plus there are no beach episodes (Jesus Christ, I f**kin hate those g**damn beach episodes in anime). Well, time to wrap this review up, all in all, FMA is an amazing anime. I highly recommend it to anime fans and non-anime fans alike.
I’m typing this review, and i wonder to myself, “Why am i doing this? What can i say about a show that’s been talked about to death?”, and you know what, i don’t exactly have a clear answer. Fullmetal Alchemist premiered a decade ago and is still to this day, one of the most beloved and well known anime of our recent generation. It’s so well known that talking about it almost seems redundant as about 90% of anime fans have already seen it, and if they haven’t seen it then they at least have heard of it, know the premise, and might even know some of the more shocking twists in it. But over the past few years, more and more people have begun to disregard it all thanks to a little thing called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, to the point where i’ve heard Brotherhood fans say to people on several occasions that they shouldn’t watch the original series and just go watch Brotherhood, which i answer to with a big, “Huh?”. But this isn’t about Brotherhood, i’ll cover that elephant in the room if i ever choose to do a review of it. No this is about the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, and why if you haven’t already seen it, then you should check out as soon as possible.
As i said it’s almost pointless to sum up the plot that everybody already knows but, formulaic procedure wins. The story is about the two Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who try to use a blend of science and magic called alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead. Things go terribly wrong however, and in the process Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body, being forced to fuse his soul with a body of armor to survive. They soon join the country’s militia, the state alchemist division to be precise, in order to search for a item of great power called the philosopher’s stone, in order to revive their bodies back to their original forms. The idea of two brothers setting off on a journey is already a concept that could fill an entire show, but then there’s also the story of the them joining the military and how their more childish outlook and views clash with the military’s actions, which is also enough to fill an entire show. But then there’s also the military itself and it’s mission to reform the country, and also the soldiers that wish to change the military to better the country, and then there’s the evil forces that the Elric brothers encounter with their own mission and backstory, and so on and so forth. Fullmetal Alchemist has enough plot lines to fill up 10 different anime, which could easily just make for a cluttered mess of ruined potential, but the story in Fullmetal Alchemist is a well written, perfectly paced, and air tight. But even so this seems like a lot for just a battle shounen, but you can’t really call it just a battle shounen as it seems like the show has just about every genre you can think of all in one. There’s action, adventure, comedy, drama, supernatural, super power, military, romance, mystery, thriller, horror, shock jock, fantasy, and sci fi, all in one. Once again, having so much in one show could easily be the death of it, but all of these genres are performed well and at just the right moments, even having them clash at times just to prove a point. And if that wasn’t enough, this show completes every plot point and every character saga, and still has room for filler. To some the concept of adding filler is a bad thing, but in this case i find being able to have filler more of a compliment than anything. If you haven’t gotten what’s good about the story of FMA from this, let me sum it up for you. Fullmetal Alchemist is an emotional, action packed, well written saga and above all, is fucking big, displaying a vast world of different cultures, inventions and religions that just sucks you in from the very beginning.
Fullmetal Alchemist was made by studio BONES and is probably the show most responsible for the seemingly endless pockets of money that the studio had for many years. But this was an early work, so it’s not exactly perfect. The show didn’t have all that much of a budget to work with, and there were times when it showed, inconsistent character designs, jagged edges, and one or two episodes in particular that looked fairly cheap. But the show is still overall a good looking show. What impressed me most was probably the shading in it and how perfectly it was used to represent different emotions and foreshadowing. The character facial designs also helped this, done well enough at times that two characters could just share a scene together, with zero dialogue, and in just one stare, convey all the emotions they need to get across. Of course this is a battle series, and you can tell that this is where a good chunk of the budget was spent, with fluid animation and splendid choreographing that kept your eyes firmly glued to the screen. Fullmetal Alchemist is a good looking show with some dents here and there, but the moments of brilliance shine right though.
The soundtrack is comprised completely of orchestral pieces, all of which compliment their scenes quite well. It’s in the background, always noticeable but never overpowering, a perfect accompaniment to the show. But, to tell the truth, nothing on the OST really sticks out on it’s own and it’s not really a soundtrack that you listen to on it’s own. A good soundtrack nonetheless but nothing spectacular. If i was only judging the sound based off the soundtrack then i’d probably only give it a 7 or 8 out of 10, but there’s one more important thing to talk about. The dub. This was an early Funimation show, but i’m guessing that they knew ahead of time how big the show would be, because they really brought their A game for it. Talking about Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric is almost as redundant as telling people about the plot to FMA, he’s great as the role, and it’s the number one reason why he has so many fangirls. Plus this was also the show that launched Travis Willingham’s career for his performance as Roy Mustang, which is well deserved. And i’d be remiss to not mention Christopher Sabbat’s performance as Major Alex Louise Armstrong who just does the role complete justice as though IT WAS A PERFORMANCE HANDED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS. There are plenty of other big names like Johnny Yong Bosch and Luci Christanson playing ver small roles which are always nice to hear. But the thing that really impressed me about the dub is that they had actual kids playing the kids including a 12 year old Aaron Dismuke doing a bang up job in his first performance as Alphonse Elric. It’s definitely a show worth checking out dubbed.
A story as big as Fullmetal Alchemist need a big cast, and not only is this cast supplied, but their also just as well written as the story itself. First off we have out two main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric. Edward is the prodigy of the two, the genius who often makes the decisions of what the two of them will do, which can proof to be disastrous at times, considering that with great intelligence and curiosity comes an overwhelming temptation to the dark side. He’s the one who decided to resurrect their mother, he’s the one who decides to join the military, and he’s the one who constantly has to struggle with doing the right thing and doing the things that most benefit them. But he’s still just a kid, and with so comes a certain naiveté towards things. He’s quick to learn from his mistakes and often feels guilt for what his actions have causes, and is driven with a strong determination to set things right, making him the ideal protagonist. Alphonse on the other hand is the philosopher, usually being the moral compass of the two and keeping his older brother grounded to the right side. Between the two brothers, he loses the most, but instead of being angry and bitter about it, is often friendly and optimistic and hates to see people suffer for his sake, giving him great guilt as well for what his brother has to go through for his sake. These are of course, only the two main characters, and Fullmetal Alchemist has nearly 40 supporting and recurring character, meaning characters that show up for more than two episodes and have a role in the overall plot. And you know what, each and every one of them is left unresolved. Like the story, the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are memorable, well written, and big. But the most important thing that these characters do in the series, is acknowledge and represent the importance of family bonds, from the relationship between the Elric brothers, to the relationship between the military soldiers, and event he weird relationship between the Homunculi of the series that form their own little family in a way. From the arrogant but gentle hearted Colonel Roy Mustang, to the incredibly manly glittering Major Alex Louise Armstrong, to the Homunculi that oppose the Elric brothers, all of the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are fleshed out and memorable.
Enjoyment and Overall (10/10)
In case you haven’t been able to tell, i love Fullmetal Alchemist, very few series have made me love them this much. I’m not really sure what i can say about this series that i haven’t already said. It’s an epic tale of love, determination, and passion that every one should check out. We never needed a movie, the series ended fine on it’s own, and just because Brotherhood now exists, doesn’t mean we should disregard this series, personal tastes aside. Fullmetal Alchemist is a series that is completely on par with the original manga and proof that a series doesn’t need fidelity to succeed. I’ll leave off with this quote, which is technically from Brotherhood but screw it, it works.
“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although, if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you will find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yes…a heart that’s Fullmetal.”
1: Princess Tutu
English: Princess Tutu
MAL Score: 8.13
In a fairy tale come to life, the clumsy, sweet, and gentle Ahiru (Japanese for “duck”) seems like an unlikely protagonist. In reality, Ahiru is just as magical as the talking cats and crocodiles that inhabit her town—for Ahiru really is a duck! Transformed by the mysterious Drosselmeyer into a human girl, Ahiru soon learns the reason for her existence. Using her magical egg-shaped pendant, Ahiru can transform into Princess Tutu—a beautiful and talented ballet dancer whose dances relieve people of the turmoil in their hearts. With her newfound ability, Ahiru accepts the challenge of collecting the lost shards of her prince’s heart, for long ago he had shattered it in order to seal an evil raven away for all eternity.
Princess Tutu is a tale of heroes and their struggle against fate. Their beliefs, their feelings, and ultimately their actions will determine whether this fairy tale can reach its “happily ever after.”
There were few reasons for me to watch Princess Tutu, but I still had a strange feeling about it. Today I regret not having watched it sooner for what I saw was one of the most engaging, clever and downright beautiful shows I had ever seen, overflowing with soul and passion.
Story: A unique fairytale which goes far beyond it’s limitations. Masterfully written, the story is a perfect blend of powerful moments, unexpected twists, comedy and romance. The fairytale structure takes the best out of classic ballets and weaves a story that is both coherent and diverse. The endings to both seasons are particularly outstanding.
Art: The series has a stylized and clean art style combined with great animation. Although I felt it fit the series very well, not everyone feels that way. Some believe the art style is a bit too girly or misleading, but it actually fits the fairytale theme very well. The backgrounds are great and the ballet scenes are beautifully animated (although some use too many stills which, even though beautiful, aren’t as good as the animated moments).
Sound: The "coup-de-grace" of the show, the soundtrack doesn’t simply support the show: it is part of the story itself. Each episode is accompanied by a certain ballet suite and takes the most advantage of it. The suites were carefully chosen and superbly performed by a bulgarian orchestra. I had heard many of them before and I was amazed by the quality of the performance. Every single note fits perfectly and sounds delightful, even the songs that were composed for the show. Truly mindblowing, the music adds a whole new layer of depth to it. The voices and dialog are also very good and fitting.
Characters: With such a great story and soundtrack, some would think that the development team wouldn’t be focused on character development. Wrong. All characters are believable, feel real and evolve throughout the story. Even secondary characters show a glowing spirit that many main characters wish they had. If you allow yourself to, you will be able to feel a strong bond and sympathy for those characters, even those you didn’t expect. The multi-layered Ahiru is an amazing and strong main character, and the others will surprise you as well. Not only do characters evolve but they also take advantage of a distinct way to show their "persona": dance.
Enjoyment: A show that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it. The episodes are so engaging and fantastic it’s easy to get sucked in. A surprisingly rich experience you won’t find anywhere else. Surprisingly, I found myself rewatching several scenes shortly after finishing the show. I recommend you to use headphones so that you don’t miss a single note of this visual and musical wonder.
Overall, Princess Tutu is a living, breathing anime that, unlike most magical-shoujo shows, truly feels magical. Yes, I may sound cheesy, lame and corny, but don’t miss out on this unique gem. A true masterpiece.
Story and Characters:
Well, the series starts off a little cliche and trope ridden. In fact, I had subconsciously made a list of every cliche I expected to play out during the series. But boy by the end of that series was I eating that list right back, this series completely redefines how magical girl series can be done. The series frequently takes plot lines and ideas from ballets and other classical pieces of music and then it takes all of them to make its own original and unique thing. And to anyone as concerned with the girly factor as I was, I really didn’t find any of the main plot as overly girly as I was expecting (I found it mildly girly to be fair). The ending has to be one of the best and most rewarding endings I’ve seen in an anime ever, this is a series that definitely delivers, even if you didn’t know what you wanted delivered.
Characters designs and animation are all crisp and beautiful and fit into the world so incredibly well. There’s also frequent CGI at times that is never jarring and fits ever so perfectly. But sound is where is where it was really at for me, having been an already existing fan of classical music. The series didn’t just use common pieces all the time, it used whatever piece fit, no matter how obscure and the series was made better for it. All the pieces that they picked intensified the mood of whatever scene it was in to make a perfect compliment. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find soundtrack usage this perfect again personally. It wasn’t only about having a strong soundtrack, but it was also about using it well.
This is one of my very few 10 series and quite possibly my favorite anime of all time. I think this series should be seen by everyone, you’ll find a lovely diamond in the rough with a great and memorable story. I really can’t think of anything else quite like it, this is a must watch.
Like all good fairy tales, the story is most crucial. It must be whimsical yet cautionary, quickly paced, and tightly-knit. Tutu follows this formula well, though not so much the "quickly paced" bit. This is because Tutu has an episodic monster-of-the-week nature that can become an irritance, and would have been if every episode didn’t, in some way, tie directly back to the main story. Much like director Junichi Sato’s other hidden gem Kaleido Star, the story is broken into two distinct parts, which while seperate, are directly connected. This storytelling works best in that it provides two distinct and memorable climaxes while never feeling rushed or out-of-place.
The main story itself is flawless. A fantastic tribute to the forgotten and oft-dismissed power of fairy tales and ballet, whimsical enough to never forget its true nature, and dark enough to invest interest and revoke the idea of it just being a children’s show.
It’s characters range from the absurd to the sinister and some even manage to play both during the course of the series. The characters alone are uniquely crafted. Though some follow certain Junichi Sato molds, such as Fakir and Mythos, Ahiru stands out as a subversion of the cheerful, determined heroine his works are often known for in that her efforts do not always deem satisfaction, and her ultimate goal is not met with her ideal ending. Everyone interacts sincere to their motives and personalities and no one ever feels like they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.
Of course the art, provided by Sato’s mainstay HAL Film Maker is divine. Every scene is fluid and graceful, especially the dance numbers. Character designs and backgrounds are very imaginative and hold the Germanic fairy tale motif that the series sets for itself.
The accompaniment for the series is a numerous array of classical music and ballet numbers, most of which will be recognizable by ear even if you can’t remember the name of what you’re hearing. Moreso, the music provides a direct parallel to the conflict in each scene it is used, and often scenes are choreographed around the music, making for dramatic impact mostly unparalleled.
Yes, the title is a turn-off, and I’m sure many of you out there think ballet is for 6-year-old girls, but Tutu takes the most universal and respected elements of the things children love and craft something everyone can and most likely will enjoy. Though it trudges in a few places, Tutu never forgets where it’s going. It’s magical waltz always catches up and makes sure it ends on the best note it can.
Overall, I give Princess Tutu a 9 out of 10.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Fullmetal Alchemist
2. Princess Tutu
3. Hikaru no Go
4. Full Metal Panic Fumoffu
5. Hanada Shounen-shi
6. Full Moon wo Sagashite
7. Kaleido Star
8. Tantei Gakuen Q
10. Hungry Heart: Wild Striker