They’re the best Anime that 2006 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of xxxHOLiC, School Rumble Ni Gakki, D.Gray-man, and more!
MAL Score: 8.00
Kimihiro Watanuki can see spirits and other assorted supernatural creatures, which is quite a bothersome ability he strongly dislikes. On the way home one day, while plagued by some spirits, he is inexplicably compelled to enter a strange house. There, he encounters Yuuko, a mysterious woman who claims to be able to rid him of the ability to see and attract the troublesome creatures—for a price. She demands that he work at her “store” that grants wishes to people, and thus begins Watanuki’s adventures through weird and wonderful events.
The music is wickedly haunting and appropriate, and compensates for the limited animation well in some episodes where it’s dearly needed. Actually, the music is pretty top-tier, especially when the mood calls for SCARY!
The dub is actually easier on the ears than the original Japanese and this is mostly due to the soothing liquidity in Yuuko and Doumeki’s voicework. It was wise of them to play their characters so rich and low, because Watanuki is the most incredibly annoying little goober I’ve ever heard. I’m not saying the acting is bad, because Watanuki’s clearly supposed to reach that ungodly level of spastic that he does and sometimes it’s really funny, but MORE often, oh gosh, I just want to send him to that little internment camp in Japan where they keep all the School Rumble characters so they can whip him into shape. Still, there’s no big difference between the language tracks, so preferences will just split where they always do. Oh, one of these days I’ll get to slam some bad voice acting…but not yet.
This series really isn’t bad for wasting time on, but the fact that I have to use the word “wasting” probably indicates how original or striking it is. Most of the adventures of Yuuko and company are underwhelming and talky enough to turn a two minute neat idea into a twenty minute “what the heck was that?” Let’s just say that Yuuko has a very particular way of looking at the world, and her routine cautionary speeches can become grating at best, and childishly elementary or just plain stupid in a pretty package at worst. Occasionally, Yuuko would state some grand moral that REALLY rubbed me the wrong way, and given how much she has to say, I imagine that this will be the case for most viewers at one point or another.
Mixed in with all these middling ideas, there are a few glowing gems, though, I can’t deny that. Episodes involving a snowball fight where the snowmen do the battling, and a shoutout episode to the famous short story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” are a few among them. Still, I’m talking roughly an eighth of the episodes are really memorable. xxxHolic relies far too much on these tired platitudes and more tired running gags like Yuuko always being drunk and/or hung over and Watanuki going off on Doumeki like a pasty-white cherry bomb.
It’s a shame because we really want to know more about Watanuki’s gift and what it has to do with the death of his parents, his friendship with Doumeki, and most importantly, his “destined” servitude to Yuuko. It’s something that is constantly foreshadowed but never revealed to even the smallest extent, in favor of more Hogwarts-esque hijinks. Sometimes all an episode will have going for it is a fun little reference to one of CLAMP’s many other series, and if that’s a draw, you know you’re in trouble story-wise.
So, while there’s fun to be had, the basic fact is that everything xxxHolic attempts, the style and the spirit, or spirits, if you wanna get all punny, has been done much better in different shows with higher budgets. (Kino’s Journey, Mushi-Shi, Galaxy Express 999) As such, while not at all bad, this is the first show I’ve reviewed that I can’t honestly recommend. It’s tearfully AVERAGE in every way possible. A ghost, if you will, of what it seems to promise.
All in all, xxxHolic leaps out as visually strange and narratively exciting, but it’s a hollow façade hiding a frequently boring show.
*THIS IS A PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF MY VIDEO REVIEW WHICH CAN BE FOUND HERE:
Thanks for reading!
xxxHolic is an anime that doesn’t have an underlying plot so much as a series of loosely connected episodes that are all based off of Japanese folk lore. A young man named Watanuki can see spirits. He finds a shop that grants wishes and ends up working there part time. Shenanigans ensue. Most of the episodes have only very loose connections to each other. An anime can be setup like this and still be well done, but xxxholic isn’t. One major issue that pops up multiple times is that serious moments, which should have some impact on the characters or the plots to come, are dropped and never mentioned again instead. Another issue is that the episodes don’t really do anything interesting with the folklore. Instead it just throws the reference at you, follows up with some faux intellectual statement to wrap things up and moves on to the next thing. The comedic aspect is another area where it fails since there are very few moments that are actually funny. Most of the humour is based on Watanuki having really over the top reactions to what’s going on and it’s not particularly funny when they do it the first time. So doing it multiple times every bloody episode just gets repetitive and really boring. The semi-serious moments they try to have are also ruined by them always reverting to “comedy” quickly after those moments end.
The characters certainly don’t make up for the largely absent plot. Each one has one or two exaggerated personality traits that define them. Watanuki over-reacts to things and is a tool. Doumeki helps Watanuki and has no visible reaction to anything. Himawari either doesn’t understand the obvious or toys with Watanuki for fun. Yuuko always knows what’s happening but only deals with issues personally when she has too. She also drinks a lot. And I just described the four major characters completely with a few adjectives. I could do the same for the secondary characters, but that would take a while. One other issue with the characters is that there are several plot lines involving individual characters that seem like they could potentially lead to development, but they either get dropped or go unresolved in favour of keeping the status quo.
The art is terrible. I’m used to borked proportions in anime, but xxxHolic just takes it too far. The characters have ludicrously long and slim limbs and bodies with tiny little heads. This makes them look more like models made out of string cheese than actual people. The backgrounds are generally sparse and the supernatural beings don’t have much impact. They just look bland most of the time.
The voice work is difficult to judge. There are a lot of really talented voice actors working on this such as Nakai Kazuya, Ohara Sayaka, Itou Shizuka and Fukuyama Jun but they all adopt these really exaggerated voices which add to the lack of depth for their characters. I blame the direction since I know that all of them can do roles with depth. The music ranges from bad to generic.
The yuri factor is a 2.4/10. Simply because Yuuko gets really touchy with some of the other female characters and it comes off as a bit homoerotic.
My final rating for xxxHolic is a 3/10. The art is bad. The characters have no depth. It’s not funny and what little story there is lacks interesting content. If you want a good anime grounded in Japanese myths there are far better options like Mushishi or Kino’s Journey. If you want something by Clamp specifically there are still better anime, like Magic Knight Rayearth or Cardcaptor Sakura. As for xxxHolic, you can skip it.
It’s funny – thanks to Watanuki’s wild antics as well as Mokona’s drunkenness. Creepy – mostly because it scared the heck out of me sometimes (especially episode 10, 12 and 24). Dark, because it presents the world in a way that people rarely see. It’s interesting – you get hooked into it and you actually become an xxxHOLIC-holic. Finally, it’s clever because it doesn’t take the viewers for fools.
The characters are just great. Doumeki and Watanuki are yin and yang. They always seem to have this love-hate comedy routine wherein Doumeki says one thing then it annoys Watanuki right off the bat, then Himawari comments on how close they are. I also like Yuuko. I am always amazed by her wisdom and how she takes on her job. I think the concept of just compensation in something other than money is very clever. I like her here more, instead of the Yuuko from TRC. The black Mokona cracks me up as well even though I’m a tad bothered that he’s not as well mannered as the white Mokona.
Production IG’s work was a bit interesting. The visuals seemed off to me sometimes, but there’s something about it that keeps me watching. I didn’t like the colors though, since most of it was concentrated on the main characters/elements. The background elements seemed a bit dull sometimes. I did like the demon parade episode, because the scenes were more vivid than usual. As expected of CLAMP, the characters have slightly deformed body types and tall and stringy characters. I guess it’s what separates them from others.
I’m not familiar too with the three main seiyuu, but I think they did a splendid job. Jun Fukuyama was very entertaining as Watanuki. Sayaka Ohara’s mature, sultry and womanly voice fit Yuuko’s personality really well and Kazuya Nakai’s voice was also well suited to Doumeki’s character. Of course, Mika Kikuchi was very entertaining as Mokona as well.
The music was very much like the plot – a bit dark, but contemporary. I like the catchy opening theme (19sai), the cutesy first ending theme (Reason), and the j-rock second ending theme (Kagerou). The BGM really helped in making things a lot more creepier too.
I’m really glad that I found the time to watch the series. I have to say that this is my favorite CLAMP series by far – mostly because the CLAMP series I’ve seen haven’t impressed me as much as xxxHOLIC. I’ll end this review with Yuuko’s words that resonated throughout the series – There is no such thing as coincidence in this world. There is only the inevitable.
9: School Rumble Ni Gakki
English: School Rumble 2nd Semester
Japanese: スクールランブル 二学期
MAL Score: 8.01
Continuing right where season 1 left off: Harima still likes Tenma but still runs into obstacles everytime he tries to confess his love to her. To complicate the situation, Class 2-D challenges class 2-C once again and there’s a rumor floating around that Harima and Yakumo are dating as the school prepares for the cultural festival.
Story – Like the prequel, this series barely has a storyline besides Harima after Tenma, Tenma after Karasuma. But the thing i liked about this season was the involvement between Eri and Harima. The involvement between them made this season more enjoyable for me then the prequel.
Art – Just like Ichi Gakki, the art has no real difference. Still beautiful as usual.
Sound – I really love School Rumble’s choice of music. I thought after watching Season 1, they could never find something just as cheerful as SCRAMBLE (Guru Guru Mawaru.. Guru Guru Mawaru) but to my suprise, Sentimental Generation was just as lively and also made you want to get up and sing and dance, trust me i did that once..
Character – The character are the same, i don’t recall any new characters in this one (watched this a year ago, can’t really remember). But one thing i remember very clearly was the character developments. I mean there were still some characters that didn’t change a bit… perfect example is Lala. The character that developed most in my opinion is none other then the Ojou, Eri. (Sorry have to give a spoiler, please do not read if you haven’t watched yet!) From totally disliking Harima, to slightly having good feelings for him, i thought this was the best part of School Rumble overall. <–Spoiler ends here. Also you get to learn much more about each and every characters.
Enjoyment – Again, this series is perfect enjoyment. From pure comedy to pure romance, this series is something that will keep you going after a harsh day.
The only reason i gave a 9 for enjoyment was because there are about 2 fillers in this season that totally were really lame. But this is mainly because there wasn’t enough manga material and 2 episodes couldn’t fill in the next arc for the manga.
Overall – Some say this series wasn’t as good as its prequel, i personally do not think so. I have no right to criticize one’s opinion but i shall stick to my own that this series totally bombed. Overall, if your a really huge fan School Rumble and really want to know more about a certain character, you should really consider watching this season.
Story: Compared to the first season, the story starts off slowly with a bunch shorter stories that don’t seem to develop the overall plot as much. It isn’t until the mid to second half of the anime does it seem to really get back to the main storyline. The story is mainly about the characters chasing after the people they are in love with only to have their attempts fail leaving them to come up with another angle of attack (metaphorically). This anime is a nice follow-up to the first season and overall it continues the plot well.
Animation: Like most anime comedies, there are a lot of visual jokes, so being well animated is quite important. Studio Comet does a good job fortunately and the visual humor comes across quite nicely. Some of the funniest moments I can recall come from the character Harima’s reaction to certain things and situations.
Sound: Nothing much to say on sound. The seiyuu do a good job and the music fits the anime overall. I like the opening and endings.
Characters: In most romance/comedies and in this one as well, there are multiple love webs that exist and are the main motivations for the characters. In the first season of this anime, most of the focus is on the protagonists, Harima and Tenma. However, in the second season the scope seems to widen and greater focus is given to other characters which seemed to have a smaller role in the previous season. I like this expansion, as it makes the plot more complex and intricate.
Enjoyment: School Rumble’s (both the first season and the second) use of random, sometimes absurd comedy and good utilization of the parody help it to stand out in its genre and create many memorable moments. I dub this show a must see for comedy fans. This was one anime where I basically enjoyed every moment.
First let me say I will review this anime as a whole not only the second season and it might contain some minor spoilers!
I will start with the conclusion for those of you who doesn’t want to read the whole review. So here it goes:
Overall/Conclusion – 7.8/10
Have you ever watched one of those spanish/latin soap operas or telenovelas where the characters never really manages to convey their feelings and say what they mean, especially regarding love, resulting in an never ending circle of misunderstandings and drama ? The difference is, in School Rumble, instead of drama you’ve got comedy.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun series to watch from the beginning to the end and the comedy mixed with excentric characters are, probably, the key elements that will get you hooked on this series. However, if you are person like me and if you are more in the series with good story progression and characters development maybe you’ll be a bit disappointed or frustrated. Still that’s not a reason not to watch School Rumble, especially when you are in a mood from something relaxing and mellow.
Art/Animation – 7.5/10
Although it’s nothing you would expect from a recent anime, the art is not bad at all. I like the characters design and I think it fitted well with their personalities. Also I was impressed with the level of animation used is some of the scenes that required more action, although some of them were useless and not needed for this genre. This really shows the animation had more potential but also the fact that the animation buget was poorly used on scenes that don’t really matter. Also, they could’ve work more on backgrounds and characters details but it dosen’t really matter anyway, since you’ll be more frustrated with other things than art in the end, trust me.
Sound – 9.5/10
I think the sound is the best part of School Rumble . The sound is in perfect tune with atmosphere and tone of the series and as a whole it adds great value to this anime. But…man…the most memorable songs are the opening and ending themes from the first season. The feel-good theme of this two songs perfectly complements the first season. and even if you don’t like the show I think it will make you wanting to watch the next episodes just to listen to this songs again and, eventually you will find yourself humming along in no time. Although, at first I didn’t like the opening theme from the second season, after listening to it a few times, I found Sentimental Generation to be as catchy as Scramble from the first season. I can’t say the same thing about the first ending theme for the second season and I’m glad they’ve replaced it later with Futari Wa Wasurechau which perfectly fits the whole second season ending. As for voice actors, besides Lala, which is way overexagerated character overall, all the voice actors were really good and matched the personality of each character. Special mentions goes to Noto Mamiko and Koshimizu Ami for the voices of Yakumo and Tenma – I loved them both.
Characters – 7/10
Here comes the area where I talk about the first problem of the series. There are alot of main and supporting characters in this series and the problem is how they are handled. To be more specific, many of the supporting characters are randomly brought up in the spotlight with some random stories at the expense of the main characters which are sent into oblivion, at times, for 2-3 episodes. This happens mostly on the second season but the first one is no exception. In this way, really few of the main characters get some sort of development or progression and it’s disappointing beacuse I wanted to see more of Akira, Eri and Yakumo instead of some random story with some random support character or even worse a filler.
Story – 6/10 SOME MINORS SPOILERS HERE! Skip if it bothers you!
Unfortunately,this is the weakest part of series and the second problem.
There aren’t so many good things to say here due to the fact that is no real progression or development on the story. I mean the producers really loved to troll us from the beginning through the end, at least regarding the story. When you think something important may happen that will make the story progress, think twice because your are wrong. If something happens, it happens in such a way that the relations between characters are not affected at all in the next episode. In the beginning it’s funny but after a while and through the end this never ending circle gets very frustrating. What more can I say…I think Scramble opening theme describes the best the whole story concept behind this series so…Guruguru mawaru guruguru mawaru!!
Enjoyment – 8/10
If you love the anime in the comedy genre you’ll have a blast watching this one but if you also love any type of development in anime and you want any type of closure maybe you will be a bit frustrated as I’ve been.
Japanese: ディー グレイマン
MAL Score: 8.04
Losing a loved one is so painful that one may sometimes wish to be able to resurrect them—a weakness that the enigmatic Millennium Earl exploits. To make his mechanical weapons known as “Akuma,” he uses the souls of the dead that are called back. Once a soul is placed in an Akuma, it is trapped forever, and the only way to save them is to exorcise them from their vessel using the Anti-Akuma weapon, “Innocence.”
After spending three years as the disciple of General Cross, Allen Walker is sent to the Black Order—an organization comprised of those willing to fight Akuma and the Millennium Earl—to become an official Exorcist. With an arm as his Innocence and a cursed eye that can see the suffering souls within an Akuma, it’s up to Allen and his fellow Exorcists to stop the Millennium Earl’s ultimate plot: one that can lead to the destruction of the world.
I’ll start with the plot, which is far darker than your average shounen. From the very first episode, we are shown a merciless enemy that will exploit any weakness, who’s main weapon, the Akuma (demons) uses the souls of the dead. These are not zombies, just mindless corpses. These are weapons which pull a soul back from heaven and torture it as their power source. A lot of shounens gloss over the concept of death, bad guys are captured alive or shown the error of their ways, people fall unconscious but can be healed, etc. In D. Gray-man, death is very real, and resting in peace is only for the fortunate ones who’s loved ones are strong enough not to be tempted to call them back.
Against the Akuma and their creator, the Millennium Earl, are the Exorcists of the Dark Order. Exorcists are those chosen by God to use ‘innocence’, a mysterious substance which can be used to form weapons capable of destroying the Akuma. The series follows Allen Walker, a new recruit with the ability to see the souls trapped within the Akuma. The plot itself begins slowly, with short arcs in which Allen and his comrades are dispatched to investigate mysterious phenomena which are thought to be caused by innocence fragments. After a few of these arcs, the Noah Clan, allies of the Millennium Earl, begin to be introduced and the focus turns to the war between him and the Dark Order.
The plot is, for the most part, very well paced. Early arcs are kept short, about 4 episodes or so long, with a single ‘filler’ episode in between. Don’t be put off when I say filler. While the plot could easily go without these episodes, I found them all to be entertaining (if somewhat silly at times) and they served well as comic relief within an otherwise serious plot. And if you don’t enjoy them, they do become fewer and further between as the war intensifies and plot arcs become longer. With one exception, none of these longer plot arcs drag on to the point that the viewer just wants them to get on with it. In the one arc in which this does occur, it is saved in part by having another plot running at the same time. Battles often do last across multiple episodes, but in most of these, the battle changes and develops over those episodes, unlike drawn out battles in other shounen which just get repetitive, where the middle episodes can often just be skipped entirely.
The show also boasts one of the best sets of characters of any anime I have seen. Each hero is flawed, and the Earl and Noah are far more fleshed out (in more ways than one in the Earl’s case) than most villains. It says a lot about the quality of a series’ characters when the villains mourning a dead friend can evoke sympathy. They also managed to inspire doubt as to whether the exorcists are in fact the good guys, thanks to the show’s religious imagery.
As for the heroes, each has their own motive, each of which is more complex than the standard shounen motives of just saving the world or becoming the strongest and the like. Allen wants to save the souls of the Akuma, to the point where he can even show disregard for his own or others’ lives at times. Lenalee, the series’ main female character, fights for the sake of her friends and brother, and her past reveals that she may not support the Dark Order’s cause even as she fights for them.
My personal favourite characters were Lavi and Bookman. These two are a master (Bookman) and apprentice (Lavi) of a clan of historians who became exorcists to be close to history as it occurred so that it could be recorded, and while they do fight, they try to minimise how much they interfere. Lavi’s conflict between his duty as a Bookman and as an Exorcist, the loyalty he developed for his friends despite Bookman’s orders to become close to no one, and his doubts as to whether the cheerful, friendly, fun guy is the real him or a mask that he should remove was probably my favourite aspect of the series.
So, here I am singing the series’ praises, yet it got a 9, not a 10. Why? Well, in complete contrast to what I said at the beginning, because it ended. A lot wasn’t able to be explained before the series was cancelled. The last ten episodes or so suffered from trying to rush one of the story arcs after having taken their time over previous ones. The battle in the last three episodes was amazing, but it also wasn’t the final battle that I wanted to see. There is a lot of potential for a sequel, including a development at the end that virtually screamed “to be continued”. I do sincerely hope that there will be a sequel. But if there isn’t, the show ended in the best possible place it could. A clear cut ending is often unrealistic, and endings in which the heroes won but the villain is there in the shadows, not as dead as they thought, muttering “This isn’t over” gets old quickly. Maybe the abiguity was for the best.
All in all, the show is well worth watching, even if you don’t usually commit to long running shounen. Just don’t go in expecting to not have any questions at the end.
The Story has a very original plot. When I started this anime I immediately liked the concept of chosen humans + “innocence” = akuma (demon) butt-kicking “Exorcists”! I knew nothing about it but i decided to watch it based on its good animation and I was not disappointed at all. The characters and their uniforms/weapons all look outstanding!
I found that all of the op. and end. songs are excellent songs that you wouldnt mind listening to each episode. Normally I would skip songs but I listened to all of D.Gray-man’s because they really do suit the anime and sound good! Background music could be a bit better tho…
Character is one of the best aspects of the anime. Each and every character is Amazing! Each main character is lovable, unique, strong, nice-looking and they all have mysterious pasts and secrets. I have found fan clubs for even the evil characters. You wont find out about the evil characters until late in the anime but they are surprisingly loved as well. There might be a few characters you dont like but those would likely be side characters..all the main characters are great! The development of the ALL the characters through out the series always amazed me…
Try not to give up on this anime too early…after watching about 30 episodes I started to get a little bored… But since I loved the characters and was curious about the plot I decided to go read the manga. I was instantly hooked and it became a favorite! The point is that at the start of the anime there are a lot of filler-type episodes (especially before episode 38). Dont get me wrong, these are not the typical useless filler episodes. All most all these episodes are either action-packed or show some character development.
Even in the most serious of times there are humorous moments and great weapons/abilities/battles..
D.Gray-man finished with 103 episodes and not many fillers..In my opinion do not be disappointed with the end of the anime. There are many amazing battles that lead up to the climatic end but a lot of things are left unexplained. I don’t think its confirmed but I am expecting a second season in the future after a lot more manga chapters are released (when the anime ended, it was very close to manga and i guess they decided not to go into fillers…)
Overall this anime is excellent [9-10] and covers almost every genre;
A worthy watch! It can be compared with the popular shounen anime Naruto and Bleach but I found more interest in D.Gray-man which is a bit more serious and in depth. (And a lot less out-stretched if you know what I mean…)
The story was bad to say the least. It was badly paced as most of the time your stuck to seeing something between shonen- anime glued together with a lot of dramatism. And that means that action fight’s are predictable and almost seem pointless and the Allen or Lenalle or other guys from the Order cry after almost every fight about something. The story had so much plot-holes that there were more holes then the plot. Also on the end all you get is about the same were this anime started. The last episode everyone is still fighting akuma’s and more then 100 episodes passed away already.
It was very good. Nowhere in this anime you can see bad animation and it was 103 episodes long. That’s a lot of episodes! Off course it wasn’t anything ground braking and akuma’s could of been made more creepier.
It was awesome. All the time I liked the sound in the anime soundtracks. Specially when Allen played piano. Only reason I didn’t give it 10 was, because few openings could of been a bit more better. Almost all of the openings were top notch, but none of them were something that I would like to listen.
The good guys were decent characters.The main protagonist Allen was an interesting character, but he lacked the brains or the attitude to be a real protagonist. Allen is basically a good guy and nothing more. The protagonist might as well be Lavi or The Krory( The vampire dude). Well at least the good guys had some good character development, but because of the bad story the character development was really hard to see. The villains were just pointless. There goal was pointless and even 3 year old kids have better goals to accomplish. For example, Earl’s goal was to destroy the world. And what will happen to him? Who the hell would want to destroy something his life depends on? Makes no sense.
I kinda enjoyed this anime with a big minus. I liked to watch some of the fights in D. Gray-man, like Krory against Lavi and Allen. Though most of the time the fights were one-sided like Allen killing lvl 1 akuma’s. The comedy in here was like: Should I be laughing or not? So I didn’t crack any laugh at all. Well at least I liked to listen to the music. But once I remember how long this anime was I feel like I wasted too much of my time for almost nothing. I will never rewatch this anime.
The story is rubbish. For 103 episodes it went nowhere and the last episode just ended with a cliffhanger. Character’s are decent. The art and music is quality stuff, but nothing ground-braking.
If you really have nothing to do then go watch D. Gray-man. At the start you will like it , then you will get bored of it somewhere in the middle, then close to the end you will start to like it again and you will want to know what will happen next and at the end you will just get a wtf moment that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a lot of wasted time.
7: Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi
English: KenIchi: The Mightiest Disciple
Japanese: 史上最強の弟子 ケンイチ
MAL Score: 8.08
“Weak Legs” Kenichi Shirahama would rather spend his time reading self improvement books than fighting. However, when he finally works up the courage to become strong and join his school’s karate club, he is coerced into fighting a bullying upperclassman who is intent on getting him kicked out of the club. He is about to give it all up until he falls for his mysterious new classmate, Miu Furinji. In order to face this challenge, he undergoes rigorous training at the dojo she lives at, Ryouzanpaku. Some initial training by the masters there allow him to defeat his upperclassman, however his fighting prowess brings him to the attention of the powerful gang of delinquents, Ragnarok. Wishing to protect the things he loves and determined to have the strength to face the increasing adversity, he must learn various martial arts from the dojo’s resident masters, taking Karate, Muay Thai, Ju Jitsu and Chinese Martial Arts and combining them to create his own fighting style!
The story, although simple at heart, becomes more complex at the surface as the anime progresses through the episodes. Kenichi is your run-of-the mill weakling kid who is always getting picked on by everyone and has no confidence in his abilities whatsoever. But that doesn’t stop him from doing the right thing and stepping into some pretty hairy situations despite his shortcomings. The story begins with Kenichi wanting to get stronger because of his will to protect his friends. As a result, he joins the Ryōzanpaku dojo and from there on out, every episode has meaning, and will have you wanting for more. The story ends with Kenichi in an final showdown verses the leader of the most intense gang in Japan – Ragnorak. Just from that, it gives you the sense that the plot development is spectacular in this show.
The art for Kenichi is well done. All of the characters are drawn very well and have distinguishing characteristics that cosplay members will love to create. Animation is also done very well, as you have great battles and very few repetition of frames.
Arguably, the sound is probably the weakest point of the anime, and its not even that weak. Opening/ending songs are pretty good and the scores used throughout the anime fit quite well with the current scene you are watching. However, it is the voices to each character that really brings all the characters alive, as you can feel the emotion from all of the characters.
The character design in HSD Kenichi is so original and great, that you’ll wonder why nobody has ever came up with this before. Kenichi is trained by six masters, who all specialize in a different form of martial arts. All of their personalities are so different and unique, you’ll also wonder how each of them get along in the first place. Hence, the many comedic moments and episodes that you’ll inevitably witness as they all fight amongst themselves to be the one who trains Kenichi. Ah, and let’s not forget the beautiful Miu Furinji, Kenichi’s love interest, who, unlike other female protagonists of similar plots, is one hell of a fighter and the reason Kenichi joins the dojo. As the anime progresses deeper in the story, you’ll be unveiled to a plethora of unique characters who have different fighting styles and unique personalities, which will all amaze and have you laughing at the same time. For the sake of keeping this section as short as possible, I’m simply going to say character development is flawless in this anime.
Even with all of this that I have written about, this anime would be nothing without its comedy, and that is what makes Kenichi so much fun and enjoyable to watch. You will be literally laughing out loud at some of the hellish training that Kenichi is forcibly put through and will wonder why he hasn’t died yet. (Yes, the training is that hellish). Even with 50 episodes, the comedy of Kenichi never gets old and you’ll find that to be the case right up to the very last episode. Hell, sometimes you’ll wish that they had more comedy than serious fights, because its that good.
All in all, Kenichi is one of those rare anime shows out there that is able to blend in comedy with the overall serious plot extremely well. One of the few qualms that I did have with this show was that the ending occurred a little to quick and you’ll also wish that they gave more information about the history of each of the masters, as they provide you with relatively very little on each one of them. In the end, once you watch the final episode of this anime, it will take you five seconds or so to wish that there would be a second season to it.
From the start, this anime has a very typical story and plot. Having a high school setting, the story is about Kenichi’s quest to become stronger. The story itself is incredibly basic that any idiot can grasp its concept. The way in which the story flows makes it feel like a game; Kenichi gains some experience points => clears a stage => levels up => makes it to the next stage. This makes it really enjoyable to watch him develop but its overall simplicity is also its downfall, due to the lack of depth to the story. This doesn’t matter too much, to the average viewer because of than the awesome fights and there’s plenty of comedy that will make it hard to take the show seriously.
This anime is full of so many interesting characters and it’s not only the 2 main ones (Kenichi & Miu). Some of the supporting characters are also great, as their little quirks make the series more enjoyable. With Kenichi being the main titular character, he proves to be quite an amazing well developed one. It just makes it so interesting to watch a “loser-kun” character with no natural talent become such a great fighter.
The quality of the animation is very peculiar because most of the time it looks really simple and crude. The action on the other hand can be pretty intense but the character’s thoughts tend to slow down the pace. The music has to be the weakest aspect of the show, as there is nothing particularly special about it. Not only that but the background sounds (birds & cicadas) don’t sound good but the SFX during fights help add to the intensity.
Overall History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi proved to be a really enjoyable and addicting Shounen Action anime to watch, as it didn’t rely on typical “power ups” and “special techniques” but just traditional fighting styles and clichés. Of course this anime would have been so much better if it was produced by a different studio but even then the story would still be very linear. If you’ve seen and enjoyed shounen action animes like “Tenjou Tenge” & “Naruto” then you’ll definitely enjoy this one.
The animation is lack luster. Rather than fluid animation displaying extension of limbs and alertness of characters. Kenichi relies more heavily on the quick flash of motion with speed lines indicating action, and sequences of pictures less worthy of being called animation. Character design is uninspired-ly shounen, with an overall presentation of something one would see in the early 90’s.
Bad voice acting. There really is no other way to say it. It was surprising to discover that the voice of the main character, Shirahama Kenichi, is acted by Seki Tomokazu one of my personal favorites. The music is equally bad and also quite forgettable. I had to go back to youtube just to remember them, and even then it was unfamiliar. Also laughable are the foley effects for fights which prove highly anachronistic given current technology and processes.
Characters – 4
Nothing to see here except a plethora of sterotypes as flat as the paper they were conceived on. We have your meek protagonist who cherishes what little companions he has. His busty, pure-hearted, yet equally shy friend. Kenichi’s numerous martial arts masters are all ripoffs of characters from various fighting games and movies. We have the old man with a long beard and ripped muscles, the kung fu master, the kunoichi weapons expert, the thai boxer, badass karate guy, and disciplined but dangeruous Aikido master. On the opposing side we have baddies including a tsundere who likes kittens, a bitter enemy who misdirects rage, and the main bad guy who lusts for power at all costs.
Story – 5
This story plays out as all shounen fighting shows with a hint of romance do: Fight a person and find out that something more sinister awaits. Train. Conflict of conscience. Something bad happens. Train. Fight. Get former enemies to be your friend. Train. Recognition of weakness. Train. Discover you like girl. Date. Train. Remember past with girl and baddies. Train. Turn weakness into strength. Prevail.
Enjoyment – 4
The only thing I can honestly say that I enjoyed is the application of Norse mythology in the form of giving nick-names to the "bad guys." I wasted a lot of time during the show trying to find a higher meaning behind the monikers. But clearly the creator though: Norse names are cool sounding. end of thought.
Overall – 4
Kenichi is a laughably mediocre show. I once had this score at a six (I tend to give middle of the road shows the benifit of the doubt), and then a five; however, while writing this review I have come to the conclusion that this show is not the sum of its average parts. At no point in time does this show take the viewer by surprise. Everything from design to execution is bizarrely over-exaggerated and banally predictable. Even if one is a fan of the genre, I doubt that it stacks up to any of the heavy hitters, or even the more marginally popular fare.
6: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
MAL Score: 8.15
There is no putting it lightly—Tsunayoshi Sawada is just no good. He is clumsy, talentless, and desperately in love with the school idol Kyouko Sasagawa, a girl so completely out of his league. Dubbed “Loser Tsuna” by his classmates, he seems to be the very personification of failure in the guise of a middle-schooler.
Tsuna’s boring life takes an extraordinary twist when he encounters the mysterious Reborn, who happens to be a hitman… and shockingly, a baby! Sent from the strongest Mafia family in Italy, Reborn is assigned the daunting mission of preparing the dull middle schooler to succeed the ninth boss of the notorious Vongola family, who is on the brink of retirement. The dull boy has a grueling road ahead, but with the help of his new criminal affiliates and his peculiar home tutor, perhaps even Loser Tsuna can achieve greatness.
At first glance, Katekyo Hitman Reborn may seem boring. The major flaw of the anime is that it absolutely misleads you, and it completely deceives you into either a) dropping the anime or b) thinking the anime is lame, when it isn’t!
The first 20 episodes may mislead you to drop the anime, just like it misled me, because of its fillerlike episodes. You will most likely tell yourself “Wow, this is really lame. What’s the point of all this?” That’s what I thought, but I gave it a chance. (And I’m SO glad I did. Katekyo Hitman Reborn is now my absolute favorite anime.)
The beginning is kind of slow and different from the rest of the later episodes, because apparently KHR was initially meant to be a gag anime – it was supposed to be something funny and comedic. The anime took a different turn as you progress to episode 20 into something more serious.
The first 20 episodes is merely a /long/ introduction to the anime. It’s worth watching though, because you get to be familiar with all the characters. They are all likeable! If you decide to watch Katekyo Hitman Reborn (and I hope you will!) you should decide whether you like it or not, after 25 episodes or so. It’s only fair, right? All animes have their flaws; and it’s flaw, in my opinion is that they don’t give it a decent start. If you do not have the patience for that, then this anime may not be for you.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn deals with the mafia. Tsuna, the *main* character, is in the next line to be the 10th boss for the Vongola Family~ (one of the many families in the mafia.) Reborn, a hitman, and also a baby (hehe), travels from Italy to Japan to tutor Tsuna to become a worthy boss for the Vongola Family.
From then on, Tsuna’s adventures and what he experiences are endless– but they’re all interesting. Over the course of the anime, Tsuna grows and matures, and becomes really strong; fighting his enemies and getting stronger each fight he experiences. The fights he encounters are well made, and they WILL keep you at the edge of your seat. Tsuna isn’t the only one fighting, though– he also has a “family”– his comrades, if you will, and the battles they encounter are endless.
The art is well made; I don’t think there is much to complain about it.
It isn’t outstandingly good, nor is it horribly bad to a point where you have to shield your eyes. The characters are wonderfully drawn and are all unique in their own ways. The art progressively gets better as you further get into the anime.
The sound is absolutely AMAZING. It deserves an 11/10, as opposed to a 10/10.
I loved all of the openings, and endings– I never once had to skip it; and that’s kind of rare, considering the fact that I’m absolutely picky with my music.
The soundtrack is amazing as well, there is a couple of them for EACH character (well, the main characters, anyways.)
They have a soundtrack for every different scene in the anime, and it is absolutely positively pleasing to the ears. Everything about it is EPIC!
The characters are very well portrayed; you can’t help but love all of them (well most of them anyways.) They change greatly over the course of the anime and it’s worthwhile to watch them grow up.
I love Katekyo Hitman Reborn! I love everything about it; it makes me laugh until I fall off my seat and look like a loser, it makes me sad as they go through their hard times, it makes me happy as they overcome their obstacles– and so on.
I can ramble on forever about how much I love the anime, but I’m going to end now, before I end up typing a ten page paper.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn is an AMAZING anime as I mentioned a billion times (well not really, but let’s pretend.) I highly suggest that you go off and watch it right now, but I can’t tell you what to do. It’s ultimately up to you.
Everything about it is amazing- it’s storyline, (although it may seem boring at first) it’s art, it’s sound, it’s characters– it’s everything!
Tsuna is a generic high school teenager which has the hots for some girl and doesn’t have the balls to do anything about it standard shonen cliché’s. The art is fairly mediocre as well the action scenes look alright for a shonen but everything else looks so bland and generic especially the character designs.
The soundtrack is very forgettable as well nothing really stands out except for the openings they are pretty great l think l like all the reborn openings which is really rare the last one is my least favourite though.
The characters god fucking damn it the characters l think l already talked about tsuna enough he is a standard generic shonen protagonist which wants to protect his friends also he dosen’t want to become a Mafioso even if it runs in his family’s tree his character is just so infuriating the other main characters are fairly forgettable as well only character l really remember fondly was hibari because he didn’t give a shit about anything that happened none of the characters get a huge amount of significant development for a 200 and something episode series.
There is also quite a lot of filler in reborn especially in the future arc with the girls cooking food and going on strike and it all feels quite pointless for a shonen to have it was probably there to save money because l don’t remember the filler scenes going for as long as they did in the manga.
While l do have a lot of complaints with the story and the characters l did enjoy myself with the show it was a fun cheesy shonen just don’t bother with the manga it gets even worse especially with the manga ending which l won’t spoil.
Overall Hitman reborn is a fun generic shonen it does hold a special place in my heart though because it was one of the first shows l ever watched when l first got in to anime.
Just DON’T judge the anime by the first 20 episodes. Watching till 20 I was ready to quit a few times, but i read some good reviews so i kept watching. If you cant stand them at all, DONT skip em! Just be patient. These episodes are to introduce some of the characters, and of course make you laugh a lot!
The only drawback of this anime (personal opinion) is it’s art. Sometimes characters’ and backgrounds’ art aren’t good at all, since the detail is too low.
“So why should i watch it then?” you may ask, the answer is simple: Just give it a try and you will understand why I’m giving it a big 9/10 no matter the drawbacks mntioned above!
5: Ouran Koukou Host Club
English: Ouran High School Host Club
MAL Score: 8.18
Haruhi Fujioka is a bright scholarship candidate with no rank or title to speak of—a rare species at Ouran Academy, an elite school for students of high pedigree. When she opens the door to Music Room #3 hoping to find a quiet place to study, Haruhi unexpectedly stumbles upon the Host Club. Led by the princely Tamaki Suou, the club—whose other members include the “Shadow King” Kyouya Ootori; the mischievous Hitachiin twins, Kaoru and Hikaru; the childlike Mitsukuni Haninozuka, also known as “Honey”; and his strong protector Takashi “Mori” Morinozuka—is where handsome boys with too much time on their hands entertain the girls in the academy.
In a frantic attempt to remove herself from the hosts, Haruhi ends up breaking a vase worth eight million yen and is forced into becoming the eccentric group’s general errand boy to repay her enormous debt. However, thanks to her convincingly masculine appearance, her naturally genial disposition toward girls, and fascinating commoner status, she is soon promoted to full-time male host. And before long, Haruhi is plunged into a glitzy whirlwind of elaborate cosplays, rich food, and exciting shenanigans that only the immensely wealthy Host Club can pull off.
Every character is based with a sterotype near the beginning of the series. The real question though is if the characters actually grow out of their set roles. After watching the whole series that’s both a yes and a no. It all comes down to the fact that the manga is still going and the characters are still maturing in that format; thus, they can only grow so far in the anime without making it a new story entirely. Sure, they stay towards their first impressions but, there are a handful of episodes that explain each Host Club member and their reasoning behind attitude, outlook, and for joining the club in the first place.
A keen example is Tamaki and his feelings for Haruhi. In the beginning, he takes on a father role towards her and the audience is made to believe that this is only part of his nature; however, the viewers should realize that this is because of the feelings he holds for her. Even Tamaki doesn’t understand it and in episode twenty-three is forced to question it. He probably can’t comprehend his feelings in the end, but he seems to establish some understanding towards Haruhi. Really, characters do grow but they tend to have done a lot of growing before the show was established, and quite a few past experiences are explained through-out the episodes. Either way, the audience is given the chance to fall in love with the characters before they begin to change, which adds a nice and smooth transition.
I’ve found people complain at the lack of the details made towards the characters themselves. Then again, how much detail do you want on a character that’s about to turn chibi on your ass? Seriously, the animators did a wonderful job at finding a keen balance between common and glorious so that when a touching moment is needed, the characters have that necessary lovely animation & while during the hyper-active moments, the characters are bouncy and have a jelly-like movement.
One thing that caught my attention after reviewing certain episodes was how detailed the background could be. I hadn’t noticed it on the first run through due to how into the show I was; however, if you pay attention, you really notice how wealthy the animators attempted to make the school look. Look at the ceilings and the inscriptions into it, that’s pretty damn detailed to me.
I was iffy about the music in the beginning. Once I heard the first line of the opening, Sakura Kiss, I felt the catchiness; however, after listening to the whole thing I wasn’t direly impressed. The ending song, Shissou, I didn’t like at all. It just sounded like normal Japanese rock. I was disappointed even more when I found LAST ALLIANCE was the band who preformed it because they could have done a lot better.
Regardless, I gave the music a chance and got a copy of the available soundtracks. While watching the show I found the melody coordinated with many places perfectly, surely in the Ouran world the music full of rich violins, playful piano, and elegant harp was a match made in heaven. In it’s own way everything works… but that ending song.
Since there is no dubbing released, I can’t comment on that; however, the subtitles by Lunar Anime provided on their fansub were wonderfully done. Generally, I don’t like to comment on subtitles because what’s there to say, but what I liked was how many notes were provided to get said joke. It was also produced very nicely for the English audience.
Simply, Ouran High School Host Club is just a fun old time. It’s got the wackiness to pull you into a fit of giggles, but at the same time enough character development to move along with a pretty random plot. I was going to skip this series entirely because I tend to avoid popular shows now-a-days; however, in the end I’m glad I didn’t. This was certainly worth my time and I guarantee it’s worth yours, too. It’s hard to find a character or a part that you plainly didn’t like. So, unless you’re extremely nit-picky, then there shouldn’t be a problem to enjoy this anime.
There are lots of laughs and pretty boys waiting for you at the Host Club so what are you reading this review for?
Ouran High School is one of the best reverse harem anime series I have watched. The first episode really made an impact. It did not start as to be draggy but rather it easily showed the main idea of the story which started when they have discovered that Haruhi is a girl. The story was quite shallow at first which was just showing the different themes of the club and how they entertained the guests but when you continue with the later part of the series, you’ll realize that behind all the smiles of the characters, there is a bitter past. The flow of the story is also good. It starts with the story of a certain character, followed by an episode just for enjoyment, them the story of a certain character and so on which promoted the balanced flow of the story.
The art of this anime is great since they can convene the different effects for a specific situation correctly. The type of animation used was the traditional type of animation (not the 3D or any modern form of animation) which for me, was better since the traditional type of animation was a type wherein the viewers can interpret more using their own imaginations.
The opening song Sakura Kiss (which became my favorite) sung by Chieko Kawabe was really fitting for the series since it was lively and the lyrics can really relate to the main character which was Haruhi Fujioka. The ending song Shissou sung by Last Alliance was great in which it blended with the appeal of the club.
I like the way they treat each other. They treat each other as close friends not some enemy that is to be competed financially or in other aspects (which was the opposite of what their parents really want). Each of the character’s qualities complimented the others that’s why their host club was in harmony. Other characters are also shown who were either supporting or testing the strength of the bond between the host club members.
While watching this anime, I might have looked like i was crazy or something coz i kept on laughing out loud everytime there is something really really funny like the thing that happened during their host club ball and the ever-changing characteristic of Tamaki Suou. The “punch lines” and “Labels” also help a lot in expressing the humor of the series like in the part of Kyouya who just recently woke up from bed was placed title as a “Low Blood Pressure Evil Lord” and Haruhi was labeled “Studious Commoner” and the host club’s “DOG” at the very start of the series.
If you want a lot of laughs mixed with a mixture of romance and a little bit of sadness, or liked boys that are classified as the prince-type, loli-shota type, cool type, devil type or a natural rookie type, then you should watch this anime coz you’ll really enjoy this movie and at the same time understand and appreciate the series as a whole. It’s really great! ^_^
All the characters are uniquely lovable. Each person has their own specific traits, and without a doubt, their own problems they need to overcome. Everyone has their favorites too, so within a few episodes you’ll be rooting for one person to get with the other, no doubt.
Character development and the enjoyment level were the biggest pluses for Ouran. It keeps you entertained nearly the whole way through (except for one or two episodes around 19 or so).
Only weakness I found was the sound. I didn’t particularly care for either the opening or the ending (though the opening wasn’t all that bad I guess).
So, in conclusion, it’s almost impossible to not enjoy this show. The ending is great and the lead up to it is very well done. Want to feel good and laugh at the same time, check Ouran out.
4: Major S2
Japanese: メジャー (第2シリーズ)
MAL Score: 8.22
Gorou Honda has finally returned to Mifune East Junior High School, surprising his friends upon arrival. Now, Gorou is once again surrounded by those he holds closest, and he strives to continue playing and enjoying the game he loves most.
However, things do not go as planned, as Gorou is reminded of the harsh realities of baseball as he copes with an injury he sustained while playing baseball at Hitaka Little. Between new rivals, old friends, and mending broken relationships, Gorou must overcome challenges he has never faced before.
His goal of attending elite baseball high school Kaido may not be far from his reach, but complicated circumstances may stop him in his tracks once again. How will he deal with the immense pressures of the game? And will he ever be able to find the type of baseball he loves most?
I rated Major Season 1 a 9/10. It was exciting, but it had a few things holding it back. The first half of the season didn’t have that much in terms of baseball games, there was a lot of romance subplots that were tough to care too much about. And, it was kind of ridiculous to see little leaguers practically playing like pros.
Major Season 2 comes in and fixes just about everything that was wrong with Season 1. First off, the show has baseball games right from the start. There’s only a few episodes of building up to the big games, they get right into it, which is awesome. In keeping with the theme of more baseball, all the subplots this time around revolve around baseball as well. There isn’t any silly parent/kid drama like last time. No romance subplots. The entire plot revolves around what the anime is supposed to be about.
Also, the games seemed a little less ridiculous this time. I mean, there’s still some crazy plays. But the fact that they are in high school now, and not a bunch of little shrimps made it so my immersion wasn’t ruined by it this time around.
I think the plot is a lot more interesting and innovative this time around as well. Season 1 was your standard story of a boy wanting his team to become the best. This time around, the story revolves around high school powerhouse Kaido, and Goro’s interactions with them. There are some surprisingly good plot twists, and I found the story to be a nice breath of fresh air.
The art and sound are once again great. I thought they did a good job drawing the older versions of everyone from season 1, the music is good once again.
Overall, if you watched Major Season 1, you probably liked it, and I have no doubt you will like season 2 as well.
I really liked season 1 as well as the movie but this season I found quiet annoying and the main reason for that is Goro himself. As you know he is a determined and stubborn guy who does deserve some admiration. However this time it was brought to whole new levels which I did not appreciate.
One good thing is that Goro learned not to bash his team mates when they miss the ball but did it make him a good team mate? No.
He still is as self centered as usual if not more. It’s all about him! “I’m this this, I’m that and all of you are trash.” though it was put in a much nicer way. He never gives mound to anyone and gets totally irritated when things don’t go his way “Put me on the mound, put me!”. Yes, he does have better skills than some others but you don’t have to rub it in their face! If you are that confident in yourself then make up for their minuses later on instead of glaring daggers at them and taking fun away from them! With his logic you don’t even need other pitchers in the team! If he doesn’t change his way, I’ll be surprised if other pitchers won’t try to quit from the team.
Another annoying thing is that he never learns! He broke his right shoulder and do you think it made him realize something? Nope! He still pushes himself like before, not giving a damn about future. he is so stuck up in present that it makes you wish that he would break his left shoulder too so he could finally learn the lesson! There is a thin line between being cool and an idiot and he usually goes onto the side of idiots.
Again, once it comes to fight for the dreams guess whose dreams come true all the time? Being MC sure is a blessing, too bad none of us is one in real life.
There were also barely any games this season, I mean game variation. Because one game managed to last for 5-6 episodes! And there were 2 games like that! All together it’s already almost half of the season! Where is some kind of variation?!
Most of new characters were plain and barely looked fun, the designs became quiet lame too.
However, what I really loved in this season was the whole training arc on the island. It brought in more depth to the series as well as realism. Besides it is good to see what kind of exercises are there. Actually the whole examination process was fun with all the tests.Also we learned few more techniques and names for them.
Over all I’m left disappointed. Was thinking about mark 7 but I guess I’ll stop on mark 6… I honestly hope that next seasons will be more exciting with some interesting characters and that it won’t be Goro centered. I know that he is the MC but it doesn’t mean that he has to be mister invincible whose dreams always come true and who always gets it his way. Just because you train all the time and are a prodigy, doesn’t get you away from the injuries, loses and troubles.
Feel free to disagree with me but that’s my opinion. Goro needs to get off his high horse.
-The soundtrack and art are amazing as per usual
-This season dives deeper into the relationship between Sato and Goro, as well as introducing many important and likeable characters to the series
-Goro is very strong this season, however, his strength does not become annoying
-More focused on the baseball and not the plot, so it is rewatchable and fun
-There isn’t much emphasis on the plot for the series as a whole (the story is still fun)
I loved this season, hope you watch it 🙂
3: NHK ni Youkoso!
English: Welcome to the N.H.K.
Japanese: N H Kにようこそ！
MAL Score: 8.32
Twenty-two-year-old college dropout Tatsuhiro Satou has been a hikikomori for almost four years now. In his isolation, he has come to believe in many obscure conspiracy theories, but there is one in particular which he holds unshakable faith in: the theory that the evil conspirator behind his shut-in NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) status is the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai (NHK)—an evil and secret organization dedicated to fostering the spread of hikikomori culture.
NHK ni Youkoso! is a psychological dramedy that follows Tatsuhiro as he strives to escape from the NHK’s wicked machinations and the disease of self-wrought isolation, while struggling to even just leave his apartment and find a job. His unexpected encounter with the mysterious Misaki Nakahara might signal a reversal of fortune for Tatsuhiro, but with this meeting comes the inevitable cost of having to face his greatest fear—society.
"Welcome to the NHK" is a kind of collection. Collection of troubles and problems we can meet in our life. It doesn’t perceive as anime. It doesn’t perceive as something fictitious. It is life. Hateful everyday life gets emotional colors and draws a wide reaction with slowly walking real life on the our side of screen.
In "NHK" everyday events are not shown grotesque and mockingly as in parodies and not weightly depressed as in psychological thrillers but somehow chaotically and tragicomicly — you want to weep, smile, think ironically and philosophize simultaneously. Every joke provokes not a roar of laughter but the sad smile as you recognize yourself and your troubles in "fictional" heroes.
Even if you have a job, relatives, interests, it doesn’t change anything. You aren’t able to get rid of solitude if you feel your purposelessness and pettiness. If you laugh, you laughter is insincere. If you cry, you wail. Problem of self-concept and fear of the life is urgent for many people, but the feeling of hopelessness and despair appears only when there is nobody to support you. You’ve got tired from struggle along on your’s own not at once but gradually. It happens little by little but it does. There are no N.H.K., there is no god, there are only nonchalance, loneliness and despair. You think that people around get everything easier and live merrily and sociable but you simply can not see the same as you as they also are dissociated from the world. It is impossible to meet for such humans but only they can understand each other. It is very hard and cruel. In "NHK" it is shown somehow exaggeratedly but the inner life is described entirely faithful. Psychology is described as much as possible faithfully, all the reasons are named correctly, emphases are placed where they needed.
Art and sound do for this work and don’t have any serious shortcomings. All the aspects of this anime are high qualitative.
Such masterpiece anime must be a conspiracy… Conspiracy against what?
More than half of you are probably wondering what a hikikomori is; So that explanation should probably come now before getting into the review of the series. The dictionary definition of hikikomori is “a state or condition of acute social withdrawal”. The number of people living the hikikomori or NEET (Not pursuing Employment, Education or Training) lifestyle are increasing everyday worldwide but they are predominantly concentrated in Japan among the adolescent male population. The hikikomori are basically shut-ins. They feel uncomfortable in presence of other people. They don’t leave their rooms/houses unless they absolutely have to and make just enough money through various means (parents, relatives, jobs that can be done from home, and rarely part-time jobs outside the house) to survive and continue their hikikomori lifestyles.
The main character of the story, Satou Tatsuhiro, is a college dropout. He is a complete conspiracy nut who believes a giant organization encompassing the whole planet called the N.H.K. (Nihon Hikikomori Kyoukai / Japan Hikikomori Association/Society) is working around the clock to ruin his life and make sure he stays a shut-in forever through any means necessary. The origin of his obsession with conspiracies seems to be an upperclassman named Kashiwa Hitomi with whom he spent a lot of time with in high school. Satou realizes that he can’t continue living as a NEET forever and wants to escape the lifestyle and overcome the conspiracies of the NHK but he is too afraid and doesn’t know how to go about it. However, everything changes when one day he meets a girl named Nakahara Misaki who claims that she will save him from his hikikomori lifestyle if he agrees to sign a contract with her and become the subject of her “project”.
The story is about a very serious subject matter but it is still full of humorous moments. The creators of the anime realize that the best way to convert such a serious subject matter into an enjoyable anime that will not only entertain the viewers but also educate them is through humor. That being said, the anime is also full serious and sometimes very sad occurrences. If you happen to be an emotional person, be prepared to shed a few tears or at least feel downright horrible watching some of the episodes of this series. The story progresses at a fair pace with a good mixture of serious episodes and some not too serious ones.
The characters are well designed and although I have never actually met a hikikomori, I would guess that the personalities and lifestyle are fairly depicted. For me, the most notable character in the series is the female lead Nakahara Misaki. She remains a mystery for almost the entire series and refuses to reveal any personal details about herself to Satou. Even when asked directly, she makes up obvious lies in order to avoid divulging anything personal. Her actions leave the viewer wondering and guessing and although that becomes somewhat annoying at times it contributes to the story coming together quite well in the end.
As for the other characters –
Satou is your “typical” conspiracy nut shut-in (or what you would imagine one would act and feel like). While his hikikomori lifestyle doesn’t seem to be as severe as some other people’s, it is bad enough to keep him from functioning as a part of society and most of his ventures to the outside world seem to end with him becoming completely scared and freaked out.
Satou’s only male friend Yamazaki Kaoru is your typical anime/hentai/game otaku. He is obsessed with all sorts of things the most notable of which happens to be echii games. He is very passionate about his obsessions and becomes easily enraged by the smallest things especially if they have any relevance to his obsessions. Needless to say, he is an amusing character to watch.
Satou’s upperclassman (senpai) Kashiwa Hitomi is a complete conspiracy nut like Satou. She seems depressed most of the time and even sees being happy as a sign that she is playing into the conspiracies. She is a supporting character in the series, but plays an important role in the development of the story.
The voice acting is nothing spectacular but the voices fit the characters well. The same can be said about the music. There is no ground-breaking piece of music in the series. There is however a somewhat catchy anime song that is played throughout pretty much the entire series. Do be careful not to get it stuck in your head.
The art and animations are at best average. You won’t find any great-looking characters and the animation can be sort of clumsy at times. I can best compare the art to ‘Great Teacher Onizuka’. However, it looks slightly better and animations are done at a higher quality. That being said, the art style does fit the series quite well. I can’t imagine the story represented with any different kind of art style.
ATTENTION: The next paragraph talks about the ending. While I will not include any specifics about what happens at the end of the series, I will talk about the style and quality of the ending. If you feel this might spoil things for you, skip over the next paragraph.
The story ends. That sounds like a weird statement, but most of you know that in many Anime series that doesn’t happen and it’s always a letdown when this occurs. So rejoice; this one actually concludes. It is the ending you will likely suspect part of the way through watching the series with a few twists and turns before it gets there.
In conclusion, Welcome to the NHK is a well-written and well-told story about a serious subject matter. It has a good pace and just enough of both humor and sadness. I enjoyed the series very much and if it is a type of anime you normally enjoy, I am sure you will love this series as well.
Unique, complex, entertaining, slow paced and utterly brilliant. The story of this anime is so beautifully constructed, executed and structured that it took me a while before realizing how amazing it really was. The synopsis is already provided so I won’t be summarizing anything here. In fact, I’d recommend reading the synopsis before continuing to read the rest of this review. The story telling in this anime is such a roller coaster of emotions that it’s honestly pretty exhausting sometimes. Most scenes had me in the brink of tears from either laughing too hard or watching something painfully realistic and relatable. It starts off with a lot more comedy in the beginning, but the further you go, the more bittersweet moments you find. The romance is also pretty realistic in the sense that you’ll NEVER see the main couple be LOVEY DOVEY. I think some people might dislike this anime a lot because it doesn’t necessarily rely on the suspension of disbelief like other anime. True, there are a lot of weird/funny hallucinations the main character sees and hears, but almost all of the situations throughout the anime are believable. Anyway, this isn’t the only anime to tackle on the whole “society is a bitch” idea, but it’s one of the few to actually do it in such an efficient, painful, smart, and entertaining way. Honestly, I could go on and on about the story, but I think you guys get my point by now.
Before judging the artwork of this anime, keep in mind that it was released in 2006, almost a whole decade ago. Although it’s not the prettiest artwork or the most innovative, but I do think the artwork fits the genre and story perfectly well. With that being said, there’ll definitely be moments when you’ll be thinking “wow this anime is a lot more beautiful than I thought”. Just like the themes, the artwork has this extremely grungy, old school, somber feel to it. It also reminds me a lot of Cowboy Bebop for some reason. Which obviously makes this anime that much more awesome. All kidding aside though, there is also a good variety of artwork throughout the anime. You’ll notice a difference of quality in scenes depending on the setting. Scenes where Tatsuhiro is at the beach, the park, or in the city are a lot more visually pleasing than when he’s at home. Facial expressions on every character are also unique and interesting. Overall, the artwork perfectly suits the anime.
The opening and ending songs of this anime are really good. Not my personal favorites, but easily in my top 20. That aside, the quality of the voice acting in this anime is ridiculously high. Each voice actor feels like they’re perfectly suited for their role. The sound effects during hallucinations are great and most of the time extremely hilarious. My personal favorite by far is our main character, but that’s only because he gets the most screen time(duh). Music during scenes are perfectly intertwined with the situations in the anime. With music you sometimes forget it’s there. However, if you’ve watched anime for a while you can’t help, but notice what a big role it plays in most scenes. There’s a wide range of music that vary from playful to extremely sad and depressing. It’s pretty stunning.
This is probably the strongest aspect of this anime. Each character has a purpose. Every character grows, fails, learns, and maximizes their potential as a solid character. There is no such thing as a “weak character” in this anime. It’s actually unbelievable how well written, well developed and well exposed every character is and how that justifies their existence. Not a single character feels extraneous or even annoying. It almost feels like every character has tragic hero qualities.
I LOOOOVVVVVVVVEEEEEE THIS ANIME!!!! It’s definitely on the same level as Toradora, Lovely Complex, Kimi ni Todoke, Clannad/Clannad: After story, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, etc. It’s worth watching, re-watching, purchasing, and remembering. It was painful to watch, it was hilarious, it was bittersweet and underrated.
Notes: I did write this review a few weeks after watching it, but my feelings and perspectives towards it have not changed. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone looking for something unique and highly interesting. I’m not going to lie, you have to be a little mature to get some references and relate to it fully.
Japanese: NANA [ナナ]
MAL Score: 8.49
Nana Komatsu is a helpless, na?ve 20-year-old who easily falls in love and becomes dependent and clingy to those around her. Even though she nurses ambitious dreams of removing herself from her provincial roots and finding her true calling, she ends up traveling to Tokyo with the humble reason of chasing her current boyfriend Shouji Endo.
Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is a proud, enigmatic punk rock vocalist from a similarly rural background, who nurtures the desire to become a professional singer. Putting her career with a fairly popular band (and her passionate romance with one of its former members) firmly behind her, she boards the same train to Tokyo as Nana Komatsu.
Through a fateful encounter in their journey toward the metropolis, the young women with the same given name are brought together, sparking a chain of events which eventually result in them sharing an apartment. As their friendship deepens, the two attempt to support each other through thick and thin, their deeply intertwined lives filled with romance, music, challenges, and heartbreaks that will ultimately test their seemingly unbreakable bond.
These words are the introduction of the beautiful world of “Nana”. Ai Yazawa is probably the most convincing shoujo manga writer ever. With colourful, realistic characters, breathtaking events and just a pinch of music she creates a world in witch every girl can forget about reality and fall into the embrace of romantic fantasies.
One of the best things about “Nana” are the characters – we can actually see the reflection of ourselves in some of them and believe, that someone like that can really exist. This is proof that you can make a good anime without the conventional tsundere, moe or annoying childhood friend.
One thing I didn’t like though is Hachi’s personality. Her behaviour at times is despicable. Mainly because she has no ideals or dreams (except getting married witch is pretty boring compared to the rest of the characters).
The story is also one of Nana’s strong points. Ai Yazawa worked really hard on it, and did her best to create a realistic world so that the reader can almost become part of it and experience it emotionaly.
Even though the plot is a typical shoujo tearjerker (with a bit of music) it has that magical something that makes you cheer unconsciously for some characters and experience emotionally some events almost as strongly as the characters themselves. Another good thing about the story is that it exposes the hard, cruel reality, which has no happy endings and pure loves. Yazawa-sensei gives her characters a big imagination (especially Hachi) But the world they live in is just like ours.
As for the art, it wasn’t that impressive. It annoys me how all the characters are so thin and tall. Other that that I think the art matched the story pretty well. There were lots of details regarding shadows and highlights. That’s in order to underline the mood of certain moments, mainly in room 707.
Nana has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The openings and endings were songs by the 2 fictional bands in the show, witch was a brilliant idea imo. Olivia Lufkin and Anna Tsuchiya fit the characters perfectly. Nothing much to add here: the music in Nana is brilliant. Period.
Overall, Nana is a must-see position for shoujo-fans. It tells us a lot about life, it’s hardships and also teaches us an important lesson about the mistakes, that we shouldn’t make.
This is my first review, so please don’t be hard on me 😉
For those of you who have watched your share of anime about love/relationships, I bet you could identify somehow with “Bokura ga Ita”, “Kimi ga Nozomu Eien” or “Kare Kano”. Or at least you felt connected with its characters. I have watched them all and know what I’m talking about.
Recently, I finally sat down and watched “Paradise Kiss”. It’s a short (12 episodes) anime that, to make it short, is about relationships and growing up. I was impressed by its maturity. The art style took a while to get used to, but afterwards I loved it. After watching it, I decided to watch “Nana”, which is by the same author and deals with similar issues.
“On board the train to Tokyo to meet her boyfriend Shoji, Nana Komatsu ("Hachi") happened to sit beside Nana Osaki who was traveling to Tokyo to fulfill her dreams of becoming a musician. The vocalist for her punk band "Blast", Nana aims for a major debut for "Blast" in Tokyo where her boyfriend, Ren, is the guitarist for a popular band "Trapnest". Sharing the same name "Nana", both girls quickly form a bond of friendship. Their paths cross again when they encounter each other while searching for accommodation in Tokyo. Eventually they decide to live together in the same unit and this further strengthens their bond as the two "Nana(s)" go through their love lives and career.” – AnimeNewsNetwork
I almost have no words to express how it made me feel. It’s amazing. Incredibly realistic and moving. I started watching it without knowing a thing about it (not even synopsis), though the title “Nana” sounded familiar as something popular among anime fans. The anime was broadcasted in 2006, lasting 47 episodes, but the manga first came out in Japan in 2000 and is still ongoing.
The concept itself isn’t anything too extraordinary. People living together, people falling in and out of love, people trying to make it in showbiz and other stuff. You could say it blends many overused ideas, then twists them around and reinvents them, transforming itself into a completely original and brilliant idea. And it contains romance, drama and comedy, but the transition between them is really well done, so it doesn’t feel weird.
What really makes “Nana” shine is the incredible character development. The evolution of each character’s personality and relationships with other characters. The things we watch them go through seem so real, like we’d probably make the same mistakes and choices as they did. No one is perfect – that’s a fact. We often think to ourselves “If I was [him], I wouldn’t have made that choice”, but the truth is we are lying to ourselves. We are insecure, emotional beings, that often ignore rational thought and make reckless decisions. “Nana” is so realistic that it’ll blow your mind away.
This is a long series, but it’s not hard to watch. In the first episodes, the action often switches between the actual time and many flashbacks, but they really are important to understand a character’s background. At some point you might get the feeling that they’re repeating the flashbacks, but don’t worry. This isn’t a filler-filled series.
In the end I felt that the story was really well told. But they leave you in a sort of cliffhanger… because the manga isn’t finished yet. But they made it more than obvious that at some point there’ll be a second season of Nana, so don’t worry. In fact, I loved watching this and the way it ended wasn’t too frustrating because I’d just experienced an awesome series.
The way the characters look might be a little hard to get used to (at least imo), but I really like the art style. I don’t think there’s anything too impressive or revolutionary about the visuals here… which is a good thing. I think the plot alone would be enough to hold the audience and maybe if they’d done something too extravagant visually (*cough* Air *cough*) the viewer would get sidetracked from the story itself. I think the animation was very fitting for the anime.
The animation studio is Madhouse, which was also responsible for “Beck”, “CardCaptor Sakura”, “Paradise Kiss”, “Death Note” and a bunch of others.
I watched the episodes with the original Japanese voice actors and English subtitles. As for the actors, I think they were perfect for their roles. KAORI gave her voice to Nana “Hachi”, which suited the character perfectly with the childish and girlish tone (but thankfully not an annoying high-pitched voice). For the tough rock singer Nana Osaki we have Romi Paku, who also voiced Edward Elric in Full Metal Alchemist. They knew that “Nana” would be an instant success, so they gave it a cast of famous actors and spared no expense.
At first this seems like an anime about music, but it doesn’t play that much of a part here. I mean, we hear lots of songs, but the story isn’t focused on showing us the making of the songs in detail. Compared to “Gravitation” or “Full Moon wo Sagashite”, music wasn’t as important here.
I loved the songs. The fictional bands’ songs are used as openings and endings. OLIVIA is the singing voice of Reira, and we hear many songs from her. My favourite was “A little pain”. It was the first Ending, and since each episode ended on a relatively sad tone, the song fit perfectly. When I heard the first words of the lyrics (“Travel to the moon…”) it almost made me want to cry.
As I’ve mentioned, the characters are the best thing about the anime. We get the chance to know a bit about each character’s history, motivations, thoughts and desires. They are so realistic that we just can’t help but being sucked in by them.
As the anime progresses, the characters gradually grow. This is a very “slice of life” genre of anime, so we watch them growing up. I love how they all interact and deal with their decisions. I love how they aren’t perfect… but as flawed as humans should be.
I loved this anime and it will definitely become one of my favorite series of all time. I feel like watching it again and again, but since it is 47 episodes long and makes me very emotional, maybe it’ll have to wait until I have more time.
I don’t feel like reading the manga for the sole reason that it is too damn long. If it weren’t for that, I would have already ordered all the volumes. But I gained new respect for the mangaka Ai Yazawa.
There are 2 live-action movies for “Nana”. I haven’t watched them yet, but will soon. I’m curious as to how they squeezed all that plot into 2 movies (I’d say they have enough material to make a whole 11 episode drama or maybe something even longer).
The anime will have a second season… I’m sure of that. But for that to happen, we’ll have to wait until the manga is finished. Hurry up!
Said lack of enthusiasm along with the fact that it’s a relatively long show directed by Morio Asaka aka that flowery director who’s so slow-paced in his storytelling that even the stuff of his I’ve actually liked ended up feeling underwhelming in the end, is the main reason I never watched Nana. But part of said reason was just that I wasn’t interested. I never even cared enough to learn what happens in the show other than the fact that it was about two women named Nana who become friends and deal with relationship issues. And as much as I like the Paradise Kiss anime, part of its appeal was that it was really short. Eleven episodes, which admittedly made manga fans a bit grumpy considering an important male character and some story details got shortchanged as a result, but if it meant less boredom caused by dead space, than I was all for it.
But even with the huge amount of summer anime I keep up with riding my ass like a sexual metaphor that I’m not going to elaborate on because it would be too nasty even for me, I had free time to surf Netflix for new shows to get into. And after my failure to get into the Netflix originals that I tried, along with browsing the anime selection and noticing Nana was on there, I decided it was as good a time as any to watch it and ended up finishing the show in less than two weeks. You have no idea how much free time I sacrificed regarding other activities I could have been doing – like finally playing Bioshock Infinite for one – to accomplish that, especially since I don’t actually love Nana. Not that I don’t think it’s good. It is. But if you were to ask me if I wanted to rewatch in the future, I’d just shove my Paradise Kiss DVDs in your face, and not because I managed to get those really hard-to-find DVDs for a relatively cheap price and want to brag about it. Not just because of that, anyways.
And yes, it is the pacing that’s the problem. I’m okay with taking a break in-between dramatic moments in order to set them up so that they’d actually have some impact, but not breaks that go on this long. The very first episode of the anime introduces our two twenty-year old protagonists, a happy go-lucky idiot named Nana Komatsu and a rock punk chick named Nana Osaki, by having them meet on a train during their move to Tokyo and end up becoming roommates due to various circumstances. I was expecting the next episode to showcase the two getting to know each other whilst revealing their motivations for moving to Tokyo in the first place, until I read the Netflix summaries and discovered that the next five episodes would flashback to their pasts in a “how we got here” sort of way meaning we wouldn’t get any meaningful interaction between them until half a one-cour series has passed. And to top it all off, they rehash the opening episode in Episode 6, which makes me wonder why you needed a prologue to begin with. I mean there’s hooking the audience and then there’s just baiting them with cookies for breakfast. It’s an extreme, but by no means the only example of this sort of pacing dragging the show down. Certainly not the worst example from the show either.
Not that the downtime is dull. It’s just pretty average. If you’ve seen one story about a quirky female trying to make friends and ends meet, then you’ve seen Nana’s light-hearted stretch of episodes. The only thing that makes it tolerable compared to most go-nowhere shoujo series is how despite Nana K trying her hardest to be independent, she’s completely dependent on others, which becomes increasingly problematic on the people surrounding her as well as herself throughout the series. This leads to a decently engaging climax ⅓ of the way through the series when said hypocrisy pushes her boyfriend towards another woman, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I had just watched a romance movie that was the first part of a trilogy and stretched out to three times the length it needed to be.
It wasn’t until Nana O’s circle of friends, including the band of which her former boyfriend is a member of, shows up that the average-to-engaging ratio started to tip more towards the latter. But even then, it has its slow moments. Whilst I appreciate Nana for having buildup so that I could actually care for the “will they or won’t they” part of the story rather than act like a man in his forties who’s desperate to lose his virginity, I could have completed an entire workout routine in the time it took for the buildup to go somewhere whilst still having enough time to cook some meat afterwards.
The absolute nadir of the experience was with the story’s final arc, where after Nana K makes a mistake that causes her and everyone to face their own demons in a heart-wrenching string of episodes that rivals Kids on the Slope’s final stretch in terms of emotional intensity, the show then spends the next ten episodes trying to have the characters go on with their lives with each episode having about 3-5 minutes of compelling drama and 17-20 minutes of “whilst I like these characters, this doesn’t further the story in any real way” I know a bunch of people were sour on Kids on the Slope for skipping an entire volume of the manga – amongst other things – but please explain to me what showcasing the actual process of Kaoru moving on from wrecking his entire life would actually add. Sometimes, some things are best left to the imagination and you just need to end the thing right then and there.
And just to make things worse, nothing even comes out of all that buildup other than a reaffirmation and closure of old plot threads that whilst engaging, don’t really lend any sort finality to the show as a whole. Without giving too much away, there’s this weird and unnecessary use of time skip before it cuts back to the present with the characters just acting like they usually do, even when major events occur. And whilst a hard decision is made in said finale, said decision is undercut by the timeskip showing that everything is going to be alright in the future, rendering it completely pointless. It feels like the anime ended right in the middle of the story, and whilst I understand that Nana’s source material hasn’t concluded even to this day – although the chances we’ll ever get a conclusion from the author at this point are about as likely as Iggy Azalea ever being relevant again after her breakdown – you could have at least had made some sort of big deal out of things. At least achieve a small last-minute accomplishment? No? Alright then, but don’t expect me to read your manga in order to find out what happens next. Especially since there’s a certain car crash that happens later on that I think I’m better off pretending doesn’t exist.
Am I banging too much on how unnecessarily long I found this series? Well it’s the most unique thing I can say about it, because like me, even if you don’t know what happens plot-wise, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t have any idea what Nana was actually about. The whole story is somewhere between Beck Mongolian Chop Squad and a Seo Kouji manga in that the majority of the characters are working towards making it as a punk band whilst dealing with all sorts of heartbreak and truths regarding how complicated relationships can get. All the characters are adults and even the more assholish members of the cast are likable, which automatically makes Nana better than those works. And it doesn’t hurt that it focuses more on the latter than the former, which I prefer because my interest in the inner workings of how a band operates is virtually nil whilst my interest in the inner workings of how a relationship works is higher than the peak of Mount Olympus.
Whilst there are some weird plot contrivances to further the story along, complaining about that in a drama is like complaining they’re emotionally manipulative or comedies are funny. If you don’t like the very idea of them, then you shouldn’t be watching anything from the genre to begin with. You don’t see me watching Bollywood movies for a reason you know. And whilst some of the plot points are eerily reminiscent of Suzuka, they work here because the drama fires in all cylinders rather than play favoritism towards one weak direction. Everything that happens is a result of the characters’ personalities. Events that happen to one character also affects those around them, causing all involved parties to face themselves along with their circumstances. Nobody is a true bad guy, even when it’s clear that one side is more wrong than the other. Even the high school kid who demands money from the girls he sleeps with is a lot nicer in practice than he sounds right no–get out of that chat room! I swear he’s a decent guy…sort of.
And most of all, the romance and relationship stuff is ultimately just a tool for larger issues. Sure we’ve seen said issues addressed before: responsibility, personal luck, inner demons, etc. But those sorts of issues are never going to stop being relevant anytime soon, no matter what your age is. And as long as that remains true and they’re explored in a way that reminds us of said truth, I’m always going to find the stuff that Nana represents intriguing. That is why Nana continues to be remembered as one of the anime greats despite not being popular in this current generation of anime fans. Which makes it all the more frustrating that the show is to romance stories what Monster (sans conclusive ending despite the ambiguity of it all) is to crime stories.
As well-written, decent-looking (although Nana’s actual animation is pretty terrible), nicely dubbed, and overall enjoyable both Madhouse productions are, my desire to ever revisit them is severely tempered by their long lengths and the inevitable dead space and repetition that comes from this sort of serialized storytelling “should have been a movie” format. Maybe if the comedy during Nana’s lower-quality stretches was funny, the pacing wouldn’t have been so much of a problem. But all the jokes come from “How to write shoujo comedy 101”, which is about as funny as a kid from a PBS show throwing a tantrum during the middle of a Lifetime drama. Sure it sounds like a good laugh on paper, but so does page 67 of the Kama Sutra. And don’t blame me if your partner never wants to sleep with you again after that experience.
MAL Score: 8.95
The Amanto, aliens from outer space, have invaded Earth and taken over feudal Japan. As a result, a prohibition on swords has been established, and the samurai of Japan are treated with disregard as a consequence.
However one man, Gintoki Sakata, still possesses the heart of the samurai, although from his love of sweets and work as a yorozuya, one might not expect it. Accompanying him in his jack-of-all-trades line of work are Shinpachi Shimura, a boy with glasses and a strong heart, Kagura with her umbrella and seemingly bottomless stomach, as well as Sadaharu, their oversized pet dog. Of course, these odd jobs are not always simple, as they frequently have run-ins with the police, ragtag rebels, and assassins, oftentimes leading to humorous but unfortunate consequences.
Who said life as an errand boy was easy?
It’s strange to say this, but humour has never been a strong department for the medium, partly because of the cultural differences between East and West, but mainly because the majority of anime comedies rely more on parody than anything else. The problem with this is that quite often the viewer is left without a frame of reference, so the humour simply goes over their heads. Some shows manage to get away with it purely by throwing out an almost constant stream of gags in the hope that people will understand enough of them to be entertained, while others like Seto no Hanayome and Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu have a slightly more careful approach.
The area where anime is weakest is where situational comedy is concerned. There are plenty of shows around that could invariably class themselves as sit-coms, but the penchant for studios to base their stories in some sort of school setting severely limits the quality of the humour. In essence, the industry’s blind adherence to what they think is a winning formula has resulted in the dilution of just about every single joke that could be told in a school setting, so much so in fact that these days studios have fallen to relying on fanservice based comedies in order to make ends meet (pardon the pun).
Comedy anime isn’t dead though, as there are some rays of light shining down on the wreckage of red noses, bladders on sticks and giant shoes. Nodame Cantabile insane otaku heroine and her long suffering boyfriend introduced many people to the world of classical music and the usage of otaku power when learning French. Genshiken took a slightly rose tinted look at the multi-layered world of the Japanese otaku, while Moyashimon payed homage to the classic American frat comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House.
One series has, however, defied all the conventions, and has become one of the greatest comedy anime of all time. Incorporating elements from some of the best comedy of both East and West, the series has an anarchic streak that, at times, is more reminiscent of Monty Python, The Simpsons and Family Guy.
I am, of course, talking about Gintama.
The concept of a samurai sit-com isn’t new to anime and manga, however it wasn’t until the serialisation of Sorachi Hideaki’s manga in 2003 that anyone actually realised the potential in this type of story. Set in a quasi-historical Edo, Japan (and possibly the rest of the world), has been conquered by an alien race known as the Amanto. The nation’s strongest warriors were no match for the alien technology, and in an effort to prevent another samurai uprising, the powers that be have banned humans from carrying swords in public.
In this world there lives a former samurai with silver hair who runs the firm known as Yorozuya from his rented second floor apartment. From time to time he takes on odd jobs (yorozuya), for people in order to pay his rent and buy milkshakes and his beloved Weekly Shounen Jump.
He is Sakata Gintoki, and his destiny is to make you cry with laughter.
To say that the story is a bit on the haphazard side is probably a gross understatement, however Gintama is nothing if not consistent in its approach. The underlying story is of Gintoki and his “friends”, Shimura Shinpachi (an average human teenager with no real special qualities), and Kagura (an alien who looks human and possesses monstrous strength), as they go through their days doing odd jobs for people, getting into arguments/figths with the Shinsengumi (police, kind of), drinking strawberry milkshakes (or some other flavour depending on Gintoki’s mood), and trying in some small way to make the world a better place.
And that’s really about as serious as many of the episodes get. The haphazard approach to the story is a purposeful measure that, strangely enough, works very well, mainly because Gintama is a comedy series. There are story arcs that occur over the course of the show, and even though they may include some serious or dramatic content, Gintama never once loses its sense of fun. Indeed, the comedy is the true strength of this series, not simply in its style and delivery, but also in its content. Many of the visual gags have to be seen to be believed (seriously, how the hell did they get away with the Neo Armstrong Cyclone Jet Armstrong Cannon), and whilst the series is top-filled with parodies, the humour is always involving so the viewer rarely feels like a joke has gone over their head.
That said, Ginatama has one aspect that is greater than all others in terms of its plot and comedy content, and that is its ability to turn the seemingly ordinary into something completely different. This is the main reason why Gintama can be considered a sit-com rather than a parody, as this aspect has more in common with shows like Blackadder and Monty Python than anything else. There are numerous occasions where the series will catch the viewer off guard with its sly, anarchic take on seemingly normal events (like being in a public toilet and running out of paper).
Of course, there are downsides too. Although the series is extremely strong in terms of comedy, it sometimes lacks when events take a serious turn. This may be due to the audience’s reactions, as viewers may automatically think that something funny is going to happen next, however a part of it also stems from the fact that the comedy is sometimes too “strong”. It’s ironic to say this, but Gintama’s greatest strength may also be its biggest weakness.
As with any long running shounen series animation and design are pretty good on the whole. The characters convey a sense of visual individuality that at times goes beyond that of other shounen anime, although this is tempered with a small degree of genericism that allows the humour to flourish . The colours are extremely bold and solid, while the backgrounds and set designs highlight the synergy between alien technology and Edo. The animation itself is of an extremely high standard, so much so in fact that some of the visual gags only really work because of it.
The high points of the visuals are the show’s numerous and well crafted parodies. There are many occasions where the style, animation, end even the character design, changes to make the humour more immediate, sometimes occuring in the blink of an eye, and sometimes lasting for a good portion of a given episode. The series also plays around with a variety of concepts that most people only really read about, one example being an occasion where Gintoki and the gang are rendered invisible because the episode is incomplete. It’s nigh on impossible to find another anime that not only mentions something like this, but also shows the viewer what it would look like.
Much of the humour comes from the characters themselves, but no matter how good the scripting is, delivery is everything when it comes to comedy, and in this respect Gintama is extremely well served by its seiyuu. The cast are able to perform with a panache that is sometimes astonishing, and their portrayals of their respective characters are so good that one would be forgiven for believing they were full time comedians. Possibly the best example of this is Kugimiya Rie (Kagura), who for many years has been typecast into various tsundere roles. Her portrayal of Kagura is truly excellent, especially in terms of comedy, and much like the rest of the cast she manages to not only maintain a consistent character for a an extended period of time, but has actually become more adept with her timing and delivery.
Gintama is generally consistent with its choice of music, and certain tracks are repeated throughout the series usually to add to the comic atmosphere of a given scene. That said, some of the more serious moments can feel a little off-kilter as the score changes can sometimes be a little sudden. As with any long running series the OP and ED have changed since the show began airing in 2006. These tracks are usually pretty good at capturing the essence of Gintama (which just sounds wrong), as a whole, and the opening sequences are designed and choregraphed to highlight the important aspects of the anime – humour, fun, some seriousness, and a large slice of anarchy.
In all honesty, there is no real reason to find the characters outstanding, and the fact that they are iconic, original and memorable is possibly Gintama’s greatest triumph. Gintoki, Shinpachi, Kagura, the members of the Shinsengumi, and all the sundry characters, alien and otherwise, who appear in the show will find some funny bone to tickle. When taken as individuals each is a flawed creation that really wouldn’t work were this any other anime, but the plot and scripting for the series, together with the talent of the seiyuu and the design of each character, turns this idea completely on its head. Much of the comedy is dependent on the characters, and it’s because the series is so good at entertaining the audience that any noticeable flaws are generally forgiven or ignored.
Gintama is not simply a funny anime though. Over the seasons the show has gradually become a phenomenon in the medium, mainly because of its ability to maintain consistent humour for over most of its 201 episodes. The irreverent and oh-so anarchic humour can, at times, come off as weird, but this has only served to endear the series to more viewers.
Numerous fans refer to Gintama as their “anime crack”, a sentiment which is understandable in a sense as it has the ability to lift one’s mood in a way that few other anime can manage. That doesn’t mean that everyone will be entertained though, but if the viewer approaches the show with the right sort of mindset (e.g. open), then the series has a lot to offer.
That said, shounen fans will definitely find Gintama appealing, not simply because it bears all the stereotypical hallmarks of that genre of anime, but also for its ability to creatively parody other shounen tales (like Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, etc – who can forget the infamous DragonBleaPiece movie trailer). Fans of comedy anime like Seto no Hanayome, Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu and others of that ilk, will also find Gintama’s ability to mess with everyday concepts worthwhile.
There are plenty of aspects to the series that possess a broad appeal in terms of humour, and it’s to the credit of everyone involved with the production (from mangaka Sorachi Hideaki on down to the guy/girl who makes the tea), that the show never gets old, stale, or too bogged down in how good it actually is.
There’s a new king of comedy in town. Make way for Gintama.
Now this is a show I’ve wrestled with for a long time. Many of my friends pledged almost fanatically this is the best anime in existence. I watched the first episode. So this is it? I was not impressed. As a person who found pleasure in the darkest and most gloomy kinds of settings, I would almost immediately say that this was not for me. Everything was just so weird and appeared to be arbitrarily glued together.
I was so naïve.
At some point I picked Gintama up again, I’m one of the people who are not easily moved to laughter but still, there had to be something to this… Let me tell you this, Gintama is a journey, a pilgrimage. You will not appreciate it after two or three episodes, even twenty may not be enough. It took me sixty whole episodes when I was finally thoroughly entertained but it was then that I realized: Gintama is like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It’s barely recognizable at first but the next time you turn your gaze in its direction, it will have turned into an avalanche.
Sooo… yeah, this is actually hard. Gintama is composed of a series of mini arcs that have no real connection to each other. You can’t call it a consistent storyline but it’s also not really episodic, there are also fillers organically weaved into the style and pace of the anime. A strange kind of hybrid, that still works somehow. We have different little events like the Benizakura, Yoshiwara or Popularity Poll arc, which all are amazingly done. Action, drama and most of all comedy, Gintama’s got them all and none of them are bad. Also, because I can’t find a better place to do this, let may tell you a few things about the often overlooked setting. The pseudo-medieval, post war Japanese capital Edo with modern technology, invaded by a multitude of alien races called Amanto. Sounds utterly random right? Wrong. It is my firm believe that this setting is actually the backbone of Gintama. Why you ask? Because it allows for the greatest number of possible scenarios, different people and places. You can have a samurai, a rebel leader, an alien and a penguin costume guy added to the cast and nobody bats an eye, because it still feels natural. Never forget the setting, it makes this anime what it is.
It’s strange, when I started watching I thought to myself ‘This looks somehow generic’ but at the same time ‘This looks somehow unique’. It’s hard to explain but that’s the feeling I get from Gintama. Visual quality may not be top notch here but it gets progressively better, a fact that is especially apparent in latter battle sequences. I would leave it at nine points but there’s another thing… facial expressions. They are beyond hilarious, I won’t say too much about it but you will understand once you have seen a few exemplary episodes.
There are a few very iconic and memorable tracks on the Gintama OST, that’s probably due to the fact that they are used so frequently but that doesn’t mean that I ever got sick of them. Audio is mostly bright and uplifting, fitting to the animes focus on comedy. Opening and ending themes are also pleasing, notably Donten and Stairway Generation. This would also be a eight or nine if it wasn’t for the seiyuus. These guys are BRILLIANT! Every voice fits its character and Sugita Tomokazu is probably the most unique voice I have ever heard in anime. He’s now the voice of Gintoki for me, forever. Kugumiya Rie is a rather well-known name, revered for her roles as your run of the mill tsundere girls. Kagura was a kind of character that was probably new to her but she still did an excellent job. There are a dozen other examples but I’m not going into debt on all of them, only thing you have to know is that the voiceover job is amazing.
Alright, so this is the deciding factor that makes this anime awesome. Here we have some amazingly thought out characters and not just for comedy purposes, most of them have a backstory, even the vilest of antagonists are not just pure embodied malice. This is also what causes the anime to take time to get going, you have to get to know the characters. A naked random guy is very much different to a naked Isao Kondo. Almost all of them are likeable, memorable and most of all funny. We have no focus on development here but such progression would do more harm than anything else. It takes time to get to know them and that process is very important, changing a well-established character after that process is complete doesn’t strike me as a good idea.
It takes time, 60 episodes to get it rolling, 140 episodes to have me almost dying of laughter but it was well worth it. Gintama maintains a consistent, no, increasing level of entertainment over the course of its 201 episodes. It’s already hilarious and would have been even better if I was capable of understanding the Japanese language without subtitles or if I’d seen more anime to understand all the parodies going on. Knowledge of basic Shounen Jump, Ghibli Movies, NGE, Doraemon or Gundam widely enhances the spectrum of jokes you can laugh about. Even without that and as part of a western audience, I found myself crying out in laughter over a majority of the jokes, there are just so many of them, no way you can miss everything.
So are all these people right, is Gintama the best anime of all time? I dare not to pass judgment unto that, simply because Gintama is so unique and unconventional that I feel it falls into a category of its own. There is no competition for this anime in its specific category because it’s the only one that ever made it there. This is not the best of all anime, this is just Gintama, don’t lump it together with all the others! Even if they’re brilliant, if they’re entrancing, if they’re masterpieces, don’t make that mistake. I myself who is speaking so highly of this anime have other favorites; this is simply Gintama, no need for comparison.
If you plan on taking a shot at Gintama and you’re not completely hooked after the first few episodes, bring a lot of patience, it will pay off.
There isn’t a single cohesive narrative to Gintama. There are some loosely connected arcs, and a whole lot of episodes that have nothing to do with those arcs, but there is no single narrative. The basic setup is that the world has been conquered by aliens, referred to in Gintama as “Amanto” and the government is still subservient to them. Samurai are no longer allowed to carry swords except for a few who work for the government or who have wealth and connections. In this world a samurai named Gintoki works by, in theory, doing odd jobs. Although that largely consists of him doing nothing. His crew consists of a youngster named Shinpachi, an Amanto girl named Kagura who possesses super strength and is highly vulnerable to sunlight, and a giant dog named Sadaharu, our cute character who requires ear scritches and belly rubs. Hijinks ensue as this group and the people around them get into shenanigans.
Let’s begin by looking at the problems with the series, shall we? By far the biggest issue is that the writing aesthetic is horribly inconsistent. Most of the episodes are highly random and intended for humour but when they get to the more story heavy arcs things take a huge shift into serious territory, sometimes including really heavy topics like sex trafficking, and it creates a huge tonal clash between episodes. You can’t segue from jokes about testicles and bloody rectums into a story about an underground city where children are sold to be raised as sex slaves. There is quite literally no way to make that transition so that it isn’t painfully awkward and completely disrespectful to the serious issue. It’s worse than that Captain Planet episode that dealt with AIDS. Sure, that was way over the series’ head too, but there wasn’t such a radical tonal problem. The tone isn’t the only thing that has problems with consistency, there’s also the continuity. There are three basic ways to do continuity. The first is having a strict, coherent continuity where everything matters. The second is to have a basic progression from one episode to the next but the details aren’t that important. The third is to toss continuity out the window completely, like Galaxy Angel. The problem with Gintama is that it does all three. Some episodes deal very much with continuity as being super important, others follow the more fast and loose route where there’s a progression but the details aren’t important and there are other episodes that don’t fit into any kind of continuity and will never be mentioned again after they’re over.
Now that we’ve been over that, let’s talk a bit about the comedy in this series that is, mostly, comedic. A lot of it is pretty puerile humour where someone defecates in their pants, or someone’s anus bleeds or where the punchline is something involving testicles. There are also a lot of bits where the characters will make loud references to some other piece of media and there are some other random bits of humour. The trouble is, a lot of it really isn’t funny. For example, there’s a running gag about one of the characters eating too much mayonnaise which is funny because… if he ate that much mayo in reality he’d weigh two hundred kilos and have to get around with a motorised scooter? There are two characters who pretty much exist for stalker jokes and there’s another running joke about Katsura getting annoyed by people calling him the wrong thing. There are times when the randomness can work and there are some points where they parody something competently instead of just making reference to it but they’re few and far between. I will give the series full credit for having some surprisingly clever deconstructions here and there, particularly when it comes to its treatment of trans-gendered characters.
Gintama has a large cast of reoccurring characters, but very little in terms of complex ones. Most of them are used for one or two jokes and that’s pretty much it. I will say that there’s nothing wrong with that for a comedic work. You can have a bunch of fairly one-note characters as long as they have dynamics that provide good comedic possibilities and you can take advantage of that. The problem is the more serious episodes. This cast would be perfectly passable if the series didn’t have those largely serious story arcs but when you take a bunch of relatively shallow comedic characters and try to do something fairly serious with them it just quickly loses any sense of tension and the characters come across as heavily under-developed, if not as completely out of place.
The artwork and animation are pretty decent. There are some cases where they recycle footage or show a background with nothing happening, which they will almost always lampshade, but it’s competently done. The action sequences can be pretty strong, both when they’re doing something largely serious and when they’re doing a jokey action scene.
The actors are pretty capable and no one does badly. However, the level of over-exaggeration in the series is really high and you might very well find yourself growing weary of listening to people shouting. The music varies. Sometimes it’s pretty good, sometimes it’s kind of annoying. Mostly, it’s just kind of bland.
There’s some in the series. There’s an openly lesbian character who shows up on a semi-regular basis and there’s a guy who is heavily implied to have romantic feelings for Sougo who shows up for a couple of episodes late in the series. There’s no reciprocation for their feelings, but they also aren’t used for jokes based on their sexuality. Some of the other characters act like asses about it at points, but the series itself doesn’t treat it as an issue. So, I’ll give Gintama some credit for treating its gay characters no differently than it does its straight characters. It is pretty refreshing, especially when you have “comedies” like Baka to Test that have to be as mean-spirited as possible about things like that.
Gintama has a real problem with consistency. Its tone is wildly inconsistent which can lead to some really awkward and stilted moments. It’s inconsistent with what it wants to do with its continuity. If you like humour that’s more than a little puerile and pretty random then you might still enjoy the series in spite of that and there are some things it does pretty decently but it’s honestly not my cup of tea in that regard. I just don’t find ninety percent of the attempts at humour to be amusing. As such, I have to give the series a 4/10. Next week we’ll have this year’s film festival. Starting with Kara no Kyoukai 6 on Sunday. Because I’ve looked at that franchise first during the last two years and I might as well do it this time as well.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
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