They’re the best Anime that 2008 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Eyeshield 21, Clannad, D.Gray-man, and more!
10: Eyeshield 21
MAL Score: 7.93
Sena is like any other shy kid starting high school; he’s just trying to survive. Constantly bullied, he’s accustomed to running away.
Surviving high school is about to become a lot more difficult after Hiruma, captain of the school’s American football team, witnesses Sena’s incredible agility and speed during an escape from some bullies. Hiruma schemes to make Sena the running back of his school team, The Devil Bats, hoping that it will turn around the squad’s fortunes from being the laughingstock of Japan’s high school leagues, to title contender.
To protect his precious star player from rivaling recruiters, he enlists Sena as “team secretary,” giving him a visored helmet and the nickname “Eyeshield 21” to hide his identity.
The Devilbats will look to make their way to the Christmas Bowl, an annual tournament attended by the best football teams in Japan, with “Eyeshield 21” leading the way. Will they be able to win the Christmas Bowl? Will Sena be able to transform from a timid, undersized freshman to an all-star player? Put on your pads and helmet to find out!
Eyeshield 21 is definite shonen sports anime. Heck, its even sponsored by the Japanese NFL and received backing in the United States as a football series on a sports channel. And now,…don’t get turned off. Because if you do, you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining series people disregard just because of its non-traditional anime content.
Please, please, don’t dump this series just because its football. I cannot but regret that I did put off watching this and suffered my way through crap series like Blade of the Immortal. My 2 cents on why you should watch (if you don’t want to slog your way through the rest of this):
• Typical plot (yet this works perfectly fine for this series), interspersed with drama, comedy, and laugh your head off antics of its marvelous characters.
• Marvelous characters (I said it but I will say it again), You will love the characters of Eyeshield, because even Sena isn’t as annoying as it seems. And…Hiruma will send you to hell if you don’t watch this.
Now that you’re here:
Characters: To put it simply, there is nothing bland about Eyeshield’s cast. From Sena’s traditional shonen perserverance, to Hiruma’s demonic avarice (and he will become your favorite as well), Eyeshield 21 does a masterful job of designing to characters to both appeal to viewers and to transition their interactions with each other smoothly. The rivalry between Sena and Shin is also nonclichedly carried out, and all the supporting characters get their own backstory as well. To tell the truth, I don’t even think that the supporting characters were even ‘technically 2nd tier’. You cannot but feel for the other characters such as the quarterback of the Zokugaku Chameleons whose delinquent team cannot hold themselves together. And so yes, the characters of Eyeshield are not just comedic, but serious, dramatic, and all the time flawed in some way or another. There’s not fun in watching perfect characters now is there?
Plot: Well, its straightforward enough: team has a dream, team wants to go to Christmas Bowl, team must defeat rival teams, team must work together, team must train, then team must win. But this is all you need to watch Eyeshield. It’s 145 episodes does more than enough to advance the adrenaline pumping scenes of the matches. Between moments of drama and football action is raucous comedy which borderlines on the absurd (cough Hiruma gun toting blackmailer), yet makes it more funny all the same. Now come to think of it, you don’t watch a sports series too much for the plot as more for the character development and anime action.
Sound and Graphics: Nothing too shabby here. The BGMs were great, the Ops and EDs were equally great. Eyeshield does a decent job of fitting its sound to its action scenes. The animation is more than adequate for the heart pumping football action scenes. Of course its NOT realistic. Who would want to watch realistic football for 145 episodes? Nah, this is where you see special moves like those in DBZ like Sena’s Devil Bat Ghost, Kid’s Rapid Fire Throw. (No fantastical equipment, mind but enough specialty to make you want to continue watching.) That said, animation is definitely decent for this series.
Entertainment/Replay Value : This is something I wouldn’t mind watching more than once. The one bone I have to pick with the series is its sometimes slightly traditional fillers, which it has to have in its 145 episodes. But even with that, Eyeshield 21 is hilarious, action packed, and a touchdown for us viewers.
Poptart’s Rating: 8/10
Enters Eyeshield 21 that features a with unorthodox players such as shorty, porky and a Demon. The plot is very simple, about an errand boy who became a superstar in a game played by monsters and his team, the Devil Bats journey to National Championships, the Christmas Bowl. It highlights the rivalry of the main character, light speed runningback Kobayakawa Sena known as Eyeshield 21 and Linebacker Shin Seijurou who is considered as the perfect player. Like other shounen stories, the protagonist grows strong stronger as he faced stronger opponents until the final decesive battle against his rival.
What everyone loved in this anime is its character development and as a sports themed anime, ES21 expressed the importance of teamwork better.
ES21 can be a manual itself and gradually showed the rules of the American football. This sports unlike any other team sports is a game of specialties and choosing a position is very vital to he outcome of the team. In the Devil bats case, the team is composed usually of inexperienced guys (and some are weaklings) relying only on their lifestyle, natural talents, hard work and rushed training. Here are their ligitimate line-up:
QB- H. Youichi – the devilish trickster and master of psychological warfares.
RB/TB- K. Sena- former errand boy with lightspeed legs
RB/FB- Ishimaru – helper from the track & field club
WR- R. Tarou – dedicated follower of a Baseball catching superstar
WR- Yukimitsu- his life was spent on academics
C- K. Ryoukan- a guy who knows nothing but power
G- Y. Daikichi – a loyal apprentice of Kurita
G- Ha -thugs
T- Ha -same-
T- Brothers -same-
Considering these data, thechances of playing forthe national championship was estimated 0.1% but saccording to their Leader, Hiruma-sama, as long as its not completely zero, winning is still inevitable.
Compared with other sports anime, I’d say Eyeshield 21 is the smartest of them all. This anime proves that winning isn’t only a matter of skills, athleticism, work ethic and determination, it takes some deep tactics, calculations and brainstorming to outwit the opposing team and to stand on the battlefield.
After watching this anime, surely you’ll never doubt that David really toppled Goliath. Ya-ha!
Plot: Well, the story follows student Kobayakawa Sena, who just got accepted to Deimon High School, Sena is pretty much a whimpy kid who gets bullied around by others, while running away from some bullies, a Senior Student, Hiruma Youichi, the captain of the Football club notices that Sena is really fast, and wants him to join, and after a rather strange series of events, he ends up joining the Football Team( or Amefuto, as they call it, yeah, idk).
So basically, there’s a team, team has a dream, going to the Christmal Bowl (Highschool Football Tournament in Japan), but they have to do it that year, since Hiruma and his fellow student Kurita Ryoukan are graduating that year, they must train, and beat the other rival teams, from which the most recurring ones are the Oujou White Knights and the Shinryuuji Naga.
It’s 145 episodes for the anime (and 333 for the manga) and even though it sounds long, it’s very entertaining and worth the time, the matches between teams are great and really entertaining. Besides the football matches, there’s also a lot of comedy in this series, most which is absurd, which makes it even better, although most of the time, it is delivered by Hiruma, which makes it even better!
Characters: To put it simply, there is no boring character in Eyeshield 21, not even Yukimitsu is boring. The authors of Eyeshield 21 did an outstanding job in making all of the characters, they are all equally entertaining and amazing, Sena’s rivalry with Shin isn’t anything cliche or whatever, instead it’s done really well and you wanna see Sena beat Shin in a match. All the other characters also get their own stories, from Jumonji and Taki to Agon and Panther, they are all done so well, that it feels like there are no supporting characters, they all feel like main characters, and that also makes it very exciting, not even the matches focus on the main characters, all the supporting characters have their own rivals they have to beat, and it makes it even more exciting than it already is, sure, some characters are flawed in a way, they can’t all be perfect, can they?
Sound/Animation: Well, the music was great, all 5 OPs are great, and it’s Eyeshield 21 that has the BEST ending theme ever (Blaze Away). Some of the BGM was great too, like Be Survivor, and the animation, well, it’s really good, the OPs are done great, and the scenes with special moves like Sena’s Devil Bat Ghost or Shin’s Trident Tackle, they are all done very well, and all I have to say, is that it looks great.
Teams: Well, obviously there’s the Deimon Devil Bats, but there’s also the rival teams like the Oujou White Knights, the Kyoshin Poseidon, the Bando Spiders and the Hakushu Dinosaurs, each one of these teams have their own characters and special plays, and I liked all of them, all of the teams are equally amazing, and of course the matches are really entertaining, but I did feel kinda let down that the Teikoku Alexanders aren’t in the anime, specially since the match between them and Deimon is definetly the best in the series.
Replay Value: This anime is really worth watching again, I wouldn’t mind it, really, it’s a shame that most people pass on it because it’s a Sports Anime, like I did, but I’m sure people would like it if they watch it, now, I’ve really come to love this series, but I have to say that it’s better to read the manga because the anime just stops after the final rematch with Oujou, and it didn’t show the matches agains Hakushu, Teikoku and the World Cup, which I would’ve loved to see, but anyway, it’s a great anime and it’s really underrated, so go watch it, or Hiruma will take you to hell, YA-HA!
MAL Score: 8.03
Tomoya Okazaki is a delinquent who finds life dull and believes he’ll never amount to anything. Along with his friend Youhei Sunohara, he skips school and plans to waste his high school days away.
One day while walking to school, Tomoya passes a young girl muttering quietly to herself. Without warning she exclaims “Anpan!” (a popular Japanese food) which catches Tomoya’s attention. He soon discovers the girl’s name is Nagisa Furukawa and that she exclaims things she likes in order to motivate herself. Nagisa claims they are now friends, but Tomoya walks away passing the encounter off as nothing.
However, Tomoya finds he is noticing Nagisa more and more around school. Eventually he concedes and befriends her. Tomoya learns Nagisa has been held back a year due to a severe illness and that her dream is to revive the school’s drama club. Claiming he has nothing better to do, he decides to help her achieve this goal along with the help of four other girls.
As Tomoya spends more time with the girls, he learns more about them and their problems. As he attempts to help each girl overcome her respective obstacle, he begins to realize life isn’t as dull as he once thought.
This show expects us to believe that teenage girls act like five-year-olds. It expects us to care about these infantile, one-dimensional characters. It expects us to have genuine emotional reactions to the ‘blossoming relationships’ between our bland protagonist and these excuses for characters.
Is this too harsh? Let’s look at the individual components that MAL expects us to rate anime by.
STORY: To be fair, the anime didn’t have much to work with, given that it was based on the original VN plot. Still, the outlandish (one word: Fuuko) and emotionally manipulative plot elements (most of the backstories that were explored) weakened what might otherwise have been a sweet, unpretentious slice-of-life drama/romance.
I mean: a story about a girl who is shy and has trouble making friends? Yeah, cool, you can watch Kimi no Todoke or something. A story about a girl with Mysterious Anime Disease who has the intellectual capacity of a child? Sorry, it’s not working for me. [4/10]
ART: High budget, great production values and art direction. Squishy moe character designs may not be everyone’s cup of tea (Sanae looks barely older than Nagisa), but again, that comes with the territory. If anything, this aspect of Clannad makes me despair, because I can think of a lot of better anime series that deserve to have this sort of budget. [8/10]
SOUND: Evocative without being overdramatic, for the most part. Unfortunately, all the female characters sound like babies. [6/10]
CHARACTER: This is probably the greatest problem I have with Clannad, and again, it’s thanks to the source material. Few of the characters get much development. All of them (the female ones, anyway) exhibit some degree of fanboy-pandering. Kyou’s tsundere-ness, Fuuko’s quirkiness, Nagisa’s unending sweetness, etc. – not to mention the fact that Fuuko, Kotomi and Nagisa, at least, sound at least half their age. Their childish and insecure natures (especially early in the series) make for unrealistic characters – and therefore compromise this show’s unrelenting attempts at making us care about them.
It’s also hard to understand Tomoya’s motivations at the start of the series, i.e. why he even bothered with/cared about Nagisa et al. We get no insight into his motivations at all. Why would a so-called delinquent suddenly take up this project of helping a random girl he’s never met before? Why does he find her interesting? What is the point? [3/10]
ENJOYMENT: Obviously higher if you’re a moe fan, but those who derive little enjoyment from watching cute girls doing cute things might find this series rather trying.
Those who watch anime with their brain switched on will find this series trying.
Those who think that female characters should actually resemble, you know, real people… yeah, don’t watch this show, it’ll make you rage. [5/10]
If Clannad weren’t so obviously manipulative, it might be a better series. Which is not to say that the series is obviously cynical – on the contrary, I think it exhibits a genuine warmth that lesser harem-type series lack. Yet the series ultimately feels contrived and heavy-handed, and its unrealistic characters undermine its would-be heart-warming nature.
The first time I watched Clannad was back in 2008, and I just finished re-watching it for the 3rd time this past few days. Now I realize that will take years before I watch something that does the same impact on me like this anime did. I was moved by it the first time I watched, and the third as well, but surprisingly in a different way. Throughout all anime history this is one of the most notorious series in the romance/drama genre, not only for the emotional load it carries but also for the effects and different reactions it causes on the people who watched it.
The quote at the beginning of the review is from the description of the blu-ray edition. Of course they wouldn’t bad-mouth their own release on the disc cover, but it’s so honest and true that I couldn’t find a better way to introduce this review (I just removed the “and now it’s available in HD!” part, obviously.)
I’d like to start this review, if I may, going straight to the point; the main reason why some people avoid Clannad.
“It’s too cute.”
Yes man, it is. I agree with you. There were times I thought to myself “this would never happen in the real world” but what is the problem? Appreciating these beautiful moments won’t bruise you. “You’ll cry” is also a sentence often read in reviews. I admit, I wrote it on my After Story review, but it’s not mandatory! Nobody is obligated to cry or feel sad, it’s just that the anime is so strong that it makes a lot of people cry. Even if you’re not really into drama or romances, give it a try. If you dislike then drop the 2nd season, but complete this one! It’s one in a lifetime experience, I dare to say you’ll enjoy at least half of the show.
The Clannad collection is undoubtedly a well known anime. Even though, the After Story receive much more attention than the first season. Mostly because it’s more “touching” than its predecessor, but it wouldn’t be the same and wouldn’t even exist without this prequel. It’s the entire set that makes Clannad the masterpiece it is.
Some people end up watching After Story before the first series. The storyline is set in a way it’s not necessary watch the first season to understand what is going on, the characters are introduced again and it’s a different theme. However, I cannot guarantee that you will enjoy the show as much as someone who watched the 1st season before.
Clannad is something I would recommend even to a friend who have never watched any kind of anime. There is no need to have a “anime background” in order to enjoy it, it’s something everyone, without exceptions, can watch. Despite the genre, age, tastes… There is no gore, violence, profanity, battles… it’s just the classical slice-of-life humor mixed with a lovely romance, that proves how strong some stories can be by themselves without any kind of “attractive” or fan-service.
Do you know anyone who’s a little depressed and is now reading some kind of self-help book trying to see the “beauty of life”? Recommend to him/her this anime.
If I were to define this series with one word, I’d say it’s “charming”. It’s an anime to be enjoyed, appreciated. All the aspects of it, including art, soundtrack, characters but specially story.
When we were little, we used to find everything amazing, even the most stupid and simple thing was something amusing. We had a hell of a time with friends, laughing for no reason… But, suddenly it’s all gone.
All those great mementos are now just vague memories and you’re stuck in a boring and endless routine. This are the thoughts of our male protagonist, Tomoya Okazaki. And this little fragment from the first scene gives you already an idea of how the story will progress. However these are also thoughts we all have inside of us, and that’s why Clannad’s story becomes so realistic at some point, because it’s close to reality, a reality some people have experienced themselves.
Don’t worry, this sadness isn’t the main focus of the story. Clannad is a heartwarming tale. Our protagonist will make many friends along the way, and with them new situations will appear, turning his lonely days into something much more enjoyable, happy, and also mysterious.
Jun Maeda and the screenwriters from Key did a marvelous job with the development of some points from the story, keeping some surprises hidden until the very end.
Clannad is a character-driven anime. Since it’s based in a Visual Novel by Key, KyoAni decided to maintain the same setting, that’s why it is divided into “arcs”, each one focusing in a specific character.
When you say on a review that one series has these arcs, a lot of people usually interprets it with a prejudgment that it’s bad because they think it will completely focus in one character during some episodes and leave the rest like if they were in “standby”. This is not how it works with this series. Clannad was divided into arcs because that’s how the Visual Novel was done, it was already like this, KyoAni just decided to follow the order. Even though, these arcs are all tight together and some ‘themes’ are continuously being developed, sometimes on the background but also taking the main stage at some episodes.
While talking about characters, I must praise those who imagined and designed them. From my standpoint, they’re original, unique.
Nagisa, for example, has a strong personality but is easily turned down, she’s caring but also very naive. It must seems incoherent but this is where things gets interesting. These characters’ personalities aren’t “fixed”, and just like us, they change as the time passes by. Watching a character that’s plain and you can predict its next action is boring. Stereotypes like the “tsundere friend” will always be present because in a way or another they’re trademarks of slice-of-life. Even though, the way they’re interpreted and the actions these characters take is what makes the difference between the average and the outstanding.
Kyoto Animation has always impressed me with the visuals and the details you can get from their animes. As expected from a high budget company they have in their hands the most recent software. That said, the artwork was also a joy. It’s common to see wallpapers of Clannad around the internet, just another proof of it.
The placement and setting for the story was really well done, all the buildings and alleys seemed like a small countryside city. Same goes for the characters, they all have a clean and careful outline with that “moe” style KyoAni has. Like said before, KyoAni did an adaptation of the original story, so it means they had almost everything of the storyline done, this way they could focus on improving and include minor “spoilers” and visual jokes from the later chapters into the very first episodes which is great because when you finally get to those episodes, you have that déjà vu kind of feeling and remember they did hint you about that.
The soundtrack chosen and created for this series is something to give praise. I was astonished with the OST. They included some really emotional piano pieces for the strong scenes but also relaxing songs for the happy moments.
Although, they did a huge mistake with the ED. Not that it was the wrong song, Dango Daikazoku is addictive and a cute melody, however, there were lots of emotional endings throughout the anime, but after that heartbreaking scene, they throw the usual ending theme. Ok, Dango is a great melody but it isn’t perfect for every moment. You can’t have a happy and a sad ending with the same song! In some scenes, it ruined the entire emotional atmosphere that was built up. This would be one of the few reasons for me to remove some points from Clannad score.
I once read this marvelous anonymous quote:
-“Oh, now I understand why there are few doujinshi of this anime”
and a caption followed: “otaku after watching the complete Clannad series.”
It’s true! The story is perfect the way it is, nobody wants to mess with it.
It’s a complicated thing to say “that series is the best anime of all times”, this is something too relative. Even rankings like the one here on MAL aren’t trustful. I’m not saying that it’s wrong! It’s just that these things are extremely relative since each website of anime has it own community and, as well, some differences in the rankings. Even though, there’s one thing you can take as “absolute”. If an anime is acclaimed by the majority of the critic during years it must mean it’s good. I hope I was able to make a point, and at least convince some of you to watch it.
[…] adfghkjgfdssSorry, just sweeping my tears of the keyboard.
That word is “moe”. I’d never come across the word before “Clannad”, but I sure as hell knew its meaning afterwards. The word categorises a feeling that originates from the sweetness of the female characters, a sweetness that oozes from their character designs to their voices to the way they behave. But it’s not a charming kind of sweetness that you get from, say, “Aria” or “Usagi Drop”. Rather, it’s a cloying kind of sweetness, the kind that makes my tooth ache and my stomach churn. I can’t stand this kind of sweetness because it feels so artificial, arising from a cynical, carefully engineered attempt to portray the girls as cutely as possible. Taken to this extreme, it’s the anime equivalent of junk food – all empty calories and no real substance or nutrition, serving only to obstruct good characterisation.
You can tell pretty quickly that “Clannad” originates from a harem visual novel or a dating sim. The main protagonist doesn’t waste much time hooking up with most of the girls within his field of view. What’s more, the character designs, with their hair colours extracted from almost all major parts of the visible spectrum, are exactly what you’d expect from that kind of source material. There’s the Brown-Haired Girl, the Blue Haired Girl (they don’t even need names, and to be honest they don’t deserve them), the Grey-Haired Girl, and even a pair of Purple-Haired Twins. In fact I’m surprised to see the roster missing a Pink-Haired Girl.
Predictably a generically distinct personality is assigned to each girl. Now, “generically distinct” may sound like an oxymoron, but let me elaborate. The girls’ personalities are all distinct from one another, but they all conform to a generic archetype that can be readily identified within about 20 seconds of their introduction. There’s the Moronically-Childish Girl (aka Green-Haired Girl), the Shy Girl (aka one half of the Purple-Haired Twins), the Tsundere Girl (aka the other half of the Purple-Haired Twins) etc etc. Again, I’m surprised to see the roster missing a Ditzy Girl – maybe the writers deliberately missed one out in order to prevent the whole thing from becoming even more painfully transparent. It also soon becomes obvious that, though all the girls show interest in the protagonist, for the purpose of this playthrough-, er, I mean, storyline, the player- I mean, protagonist, has targeted Generically Sweet Girl (aka Brown-Haired Girl) to woo.
Though I guess “Clannad” is technically not quite a harem since the show contains another guy besides the main character, it may as well be one. The other guy in question qualifies as a guy only on technicalities. In practice, he more closely resembles some sub-human creature roughly on the level of a worm, and is suitably treated like one too. Most of the girls treat him with disdain, and none of them is interested in him in the slightest. To be fair, the main character himself isn’t quite your average harem lead, and for this reason, I have decided to give him the courtesy of actually using his name in this review: he’s called Okazaki Tomoya. What makes Tomoya different from a typical harem lead is that although he’s a bit of a good for nothing, he at least possesses more charisma and confidence than the typical loser-but-nice stereotypical lead that’s recycled through most harems, and so you can at least kind of get why he’s able to attract a harem, especially when displayed next to the worm-like-lowlife.
Other than the insane amount of moe, “Clannad” distinguishes itself by the insane amount of heavy-handed manipulation of emotions. The show has more of it than “Saikano”, and that is saying something. I bristle at the sight of the slice-of-life tag attached to the show because it completely sacrifices any sort of realism associated with that genre in favour of trying to force more emotions out of the viewer with unbelievably melodramatic storylines. The “tragic” stories from the various characters’ pasts feel so contrived that at times it seems like a competition to see which one can be more ridiculous. It’s a competition won by Blue Haired Girl’s backstory involving a teddy bear. The punchline to the story proved so “moving” it had everyone at my anime society showing bursting into tears. Tears of laughter that is.
Moreover, most of the girls – Blue Haired girl being a prime example – disappears into the background as soon as their part of the story is over. The shift in focus from one girl to the next is so swift and ruthless that I found it rather off-putting. What’s the point of spending an arc fleshing out these characters if they’re shelved as soon as their arc is over? Given the source material, I can guess why: the anime probably pulled together storylines from multiple playthroughs focusing on different characters, but couldn’t assemble them into a single, coherent storyline. Brown Haired Girl stands out as the only girl who’s a constant presence throughout, and that’s only because she’s the girl destined to hook up with Tomoya (but don’t worry, if you don’t like the Tomoyo x Brown Haired Girl pairing, Kyoto Animation has rather helpfully made several special episodes which are in essence alternative playthroughs where Tomoya picks someone else).
Just one of the tragic character situations did not come off as overly melodramatic – the one involving Tomoya’s relationship with his dad. However, that one felt like a tacked-on side story that was jarringly integrated into the show. The side story comes into focus randomly with little apparent purpose, and also feels out of place when placed alongside the cheesily cheerful parts. It’s almost as though when given a piece of material with genuine potential, the makers of “Clannad” didn’t quite know what to do with it.
In the end, I’m grateful I watched “Clannad” with others at my anime society, because watching the whole thing by myself would have been an ordeal more harrowing than any of the forced drama the show could conjure up. During the weeks when I couldn’t attend the society showings and had to catch up on the show by myself, it literally took me two or three sittings to grind through each episode because I couldn’t stomach more than a few minutes of “Clannad” at a time. And no wonder – with its sickeningly sweet stench of moe, ludicrously contrived stories and array of cardboard template cut-outs masquerading as female characters, just what is there to like for someone who’s not into moe or extremely sappy melodrama?
Personal rating: -2.0 (terribad)
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: Saiunkoku Monogatari 2nd Season
English: Tales of Saiunkoku
Japanese: 彩雲国物語 第2シリーズ
MAL Score: 8.05
Shuurei Kou and her friend Eigetsu To, a boy prodigy of humble origins, have been appointed co-governors of the Sa province, one of the eight provinces in Saiunkoku. Together, they decide to make the province an academic research center in the hopes of bringing a long overdue prosperity to the region.
However, while Shuurei goes to the capital to obtain approvals for the ambitious project, the Sa province’s recently established tranquility is threatened by a pandemic that brings both death and turmoil as it begins to spread among the people. Counting on Eigetsu to monitor the situation until her return, Shuurei seeks support from her allies to find a suitable treatment. Yet, Eigetsu’s past personal conflicts distract him, providing an opportunity for opponents of Shuurei’s position to take advantage of the troubles and undermine her authority.
Becoming a government official has been Shuurei’s lifelong dream, but it is no easy task for the first woman undertaking such a position. Will she step up and overcome this great challenge or give in to the looming adversities?
Story – 10
The second season starts off around where the last one ends, so I recommend you watch the first season before you tackle this one. Anyway, the second season is easily even more intricate than the first, with Ryuuki finally taking charge as emperor, something not all members of government appreciates. New enemies appear, and the clans continue to feud as always. Every detail in the story is important, something viewers should be used to by now.
Animation – 9
I really appreciated all the costumes this time around. Everyone’s hair, the jewelery, and building designs, all of it is so wonderfully done. Actions scenes could be a bit better, but that’s not really what the story is about.
Sound – 9
It’s the same, top-quality sounds as the first season. The OP/ED haven’t changed, which makes me glad. They’re really fitting. The seiyūs are kind of awesome and wonderfully casted. Some standouts include: Serian, played by the same seiyu as Xingke from Code Geass (ironic since they’re both very similar characters) and Ran Ryuuren (Hei from Darker than BLACK). Okay, the whole cast is amazing.
Character – 10
All the characters from the previous season appear once again, gaining even more development. Kourin and Eigetsu get a particularity epic storyline, something I did not expect, but ended up loving. Shuurei is as motivated as before, trying her hardest to succeed. Ryuuki is also doing his best, and slowly building a group of loyal supporters. Seiran has found a place for himself in the royal guard, and is finally allowing his true personality to show through. Everyone is wonderfully written as usual, probably thanks to Saiunkoku Monogatari being based off a series of novels.
Enjoyment – 10
The second season takes everything I love about this series and adds even more. All my favourite secondary characters get their chances to shine, and some new characters bring fresh life to the show (Go Jyūsan-hime!). I was impressed by the costumes and soothed by the sounds of the erhu. Usually, second seasons aren’t as good as their firsts, but Saiunkoku Monogatari does not stick to this norm.
You know that series that you obsess over continuously like some druggie? The series that makes you even risk staying up at night and pretending to be asleep when your parents check on you but you have to watch it? It was that sort of series for me.
The thing about this anime is that it completely sucks you in. At first I was very reluctant to watch it because of the whole ‘harem’ thing which really annoys me but I decided to give it a shot when the “ohmygosh exams are coming” craze hit my head. And then I couldn’t stop watching.
I watched both seasons in a week. I sacrificed a lot to finish it. AND I DON’T REGRET ANYTHING. The characters are all so different and they feel so real, it feels good to be able to distinguish between them. In season two the story just got better and there were times I bit my pillow in frustration or to simply stop myself from screaming. My family caught me talking and gushing while pointing at the laptop screen but they decided to leave me alone. I would like to thank them for that.
Then there were the new costumes and Shuurie got some new hairstyles. Good for her. BY THE WAY, Shuurie (am I spelling her name right? I can’t tell. I feel like a mindless zombie because I just finished watching the last episode) is my all time favorite heroine now! I rarely get to see such a strong female lead who doesn’t annoy me and, for some funny reason, in my eyes she just got prettier and prettier after every episode. And I was like, have you ever met such a beautiful character, both inside and out?
New characters were introduced and some older characters’ background details were explored. Very touching stuff, actually. These people feel real to me. I’m glad Ryuuki became stronger in the end and found his resolve and learned to be a better emperor.
There’s so much going on inside my head right now. It’s a jumbled mess. But, the most important question is, WHERE IS SEASON THREE? Breaks my heart. honestly.
Excuse me while I go look for the novels online. Goodbye (^_^)/
6: Skip Beat!
English: Skip Beat!
Japanese: スキップ ビート！
MAL Score: 8.10
Bright, diligent, and yet na?ve 16-year-old Kyouko Mogami works hard to support the career and dreams of her childhood friend, crush, and rising pop icon, Shoutarou Fuwa. Toiling endlessly at burger joints and tea ceremonies, the innocent Kyouko remains unaware that day in day out, all her tireless efforts have been taken for granted, until, one day, she finds out that her beloved Shou sees her as nothing but a free servant. Shocked, heartbroken and enraged, she vows to take revenge on the rookie star by entering the ruthless world of entertainment herself. As she steps into this new life, Kyouko will face new challenges as well as people who will push her out of her comfort zone.
Based on the best-selling shoujo manga by Yoshiki Nakamura, Skip Beat showcases the growth of a young woman who slowly unlearns how to work herself to the bone for the satisfaction of others and takes her future into her own hands instead.
Skip Beat! follows the endearing young Kyoko Mogami as she travels 200-something miles across Japan to support her childhood friend Sho in his debut as a pop singer. She continues to bail him out until she finds out he’s only been using her for her delicious cooking and wife-like, hardworking traits. And he’s allowed to because he is THE Fuwa Sho? Kyoko doesn’t think so.
Here’s where the anime gets a little interesting.
Unlike other female leads who might cry over numerous tubs of ice cream while re-watching their favorite soap operas, Kyoko takes this pain and suffering she’s gone through and turns it into something beautiful. She uses her new-found hatred for Sho as an endless supply of fuel for her journey into the mysterious and somewhat scary world of show business.
Like Kyoko, all of the characters in this anime have a reason to do what they are doing. They all have a single purpose they are trying to achieve through professions such as acting, singing or debuting in big-budget films.
Because not all of the characters were there for the same reason, we as viewers are able to see some great ideology clashes and disputes that break out among this wide variety of characters.
Thinking back, the sole reason why this anime was so enjoyable was the cast of wacky, memorable characters who brought a sense of purpose and bursts of life to what could have been a very stereotypical, bland and fabricated holywood-glamorized portrayal of the world of show business. This cast includes the enigmatic Tsuruga Ren, the selfishly obnoxious Fuwa Sho, the tsundere-dere “Mouko” and the all-knowingly eccentric LME president. While their characters may seem generic and cardboard-like at first, the story’s excellent pacing and wonderful use of character interactions gives depth and meaning to each character….
even the most unlikable character becomes slightly tolerable as you learn to appreciate his existence in the anime.
That being said, the characters’ designs were not exactly up-to-par or great. I am an artist myself and it’s probably the reason why I am so particular about the aspect of art in an anime. The colors were generally very bright and one-sided, while the character designs themselves didn’t stand out much. I did like the emphasis on the expressions of the characters that changed when they were acting but other than that, there was nothing much to look for.
It was truly the characters themselves and the cast of seiyuu who did a fantastic job portraying their animated-counterparts that made me like this anime.
The same goes for sound. Nothing was very special about the upbeat, very forgettable pop-song opening but the ending did a very nice job of capturing any left over angst and anxiety from being a victim of horrible circumstances. OST’s turned out to be fine as well, mostly in the department of dramatizing an event or adding extra suspense.
Lastly, I appreciated the anime’s ability to create an engaging atmosphere with the audience as it tackled the tricky topic of what really goes on behind the camera. How much are we seeing of these underpaid actors who go through sleepless nights and bottles of gin to try and perfect their role?
We only see their perfectly chiseled faces covered in pounds of make-up and we think, “man that’s the life.”
This anime reveals all of the ugly that actually goes on behind that makeup and perfectly lit photos while remaining professional, non-cliche and upbeat. There’s no unnecessary drama, no stupid tabloid induced scandals, no fake love relationships. It could have easily gone down the reality-tv-show path of “look, stars are real humans too! they eat lunch just like we do!”, but it didn’t, thank goodness.
We empathize with these characters and their struggles and triumphs because we actually SEE what they’re going through.
The anime is able to give us viewers insights on their world in a very down-to-earth and realistic manner.
All in all, this anime was fun and very easy to get lost in. I remember seeing it as a middle schooler thinking “wow this is pretty good” and now, as a more-grown-up-but-still-kinda-childish viewer, I’m still thinking the same thing. If you’re looking for a nice way to spend your Saturday afternoon, go ahead and watch it. I encourage you to.
While it’s not beneath the show to humiliate the characters or make them look foolish, they are complex and principled, and the show has enough compassion to give them their dignity. The way it allows even its most prickly characters to learn and change feels natural, authentic and worthwhile. It’s rare to see any show about anything from anywhere as concerned with human dignity as Skip Beat! is.
Let’s have a second season, already.
Beyond Kyoko, some other characters get focused on within the world of stardom as they come to connect with Kyoko and we learn of their own personal challenges they struggled through to get to the point where they were at within their careers. Tsuruga’s character is given the more prominent focus in his interactions with Kyoko as he seemingly hates Kyoko’s motivations for persuing an acting career at first, before the changes in her motivations lead him to start supporting her and developing feelings for her. The series does drop hints that Tsuruga may have a more tragic past than Kyoko and he may have known her for far longer than she thinks, but the series abruptly ends before more of these aspects to the storyline could be explored. This weakness appears to be due to the title’s manga source material still being ongoing as of this review.
Another issue I did find with the series at points came with its comedy. Scenes with it tend to pop up throughout a good part of the series, serving to either exaggerate on a conflict or emotional state affecting one of the characters or to lighten the mood following a rather serious development in the show’s storyline. The title’s comedic style was hit-or-miss for me as I had some moments where the humor focused on the former got me laughing, but others left me indifferent and usually had me feeling that they got in the way of the mood of serious scenes for the latter mentioned moments. Fortunately, the comedy does tone itself down as Kyoko’s emotional state improves from adjusting positively to her new life as an actress and doesn’t intrude too heavily upon later developments with her character and others.
The visuals to the series are rather standard for a late 2000s anime in terms of detail and design for characters and scenery. Details are clean and bright color is used to go along with the show’s upbeat mood, but this and the animation for Skip Beat don’t particularly stick out. The same thing applies to the show’s soundtrack as it does its part to complement scenes in the series that fit for their intended purpose, but have nothing too memorable with them.
Gripes aside, Skip Beat is still one of the better shoujo titles I’ve seen recently as there hasn’t been anything from the demographic that has seriously hooked me beyond a number of titles that came out during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The focus on Kyoko’s growth as an actress is a compelling and enjoyable story worth seeing throughout Skip Beat’s 25-episode run, alongside other characters in stardom who interact with her. If you’re a shoujo anime fan, this is worth a definite look.
MAL Score: 8.15
Ryuuji Takasu is a gentle high school student with a love for housework; but in contrast to his kind nature, he has an intimidating face that often gets him labeled as a delinquent. On the other hand is Taiga Aisaka, a small, doll-like student, who is anything but a cute and fragile girl. Equipped with a wooden katana and feisty personality, Taiga is known throughout the school as the “Palmtop Tiger.”
One day, an embarrassing mistake causes the two students to cross paths. Ryuuji discovers that Taiga actually has a sweet side: she has a crush on the popular vice president, Yuusaku Kitamura, who happens to be his best friend. But things only get crazier when Ryuuji reveals that he has a crush on Minori Kushieda—Taiga’s best friend!
Toradora! is a romantic comedy that follows this odd duo as they embark on a quest to help each other with their respective crushes, forming an unlikely alliance in the process.
Toradora is just the 3rd romcom anime series i watched and I can truly say that it has become my FAVORITE anime.
The short version of this review is: I very much enjoyed Toradora
-The characters are all unique, likable, and relatable due to the fact they all display their weak sides sometimes and moments of insecurity behind the personality exterior. The chemistry between the characters was fun to watch
-The story stays away from cliches and was relatively unpredictable for a love story. Every character had a reason and motive for what they did and how they acted, other than just being unnaturally dumb/too prideful/stubborn.
-The soundtrack was really good, making certain scenes all the more memorable
-I loved the comedic scenarios in the beginning of the series, which gets progressively more serious and emotional as we get deeper into the story and characters, but the overall vibe of the show stays relatively consistent to the end
-I became emotionally invested in the overall plot and characters and couldn’t stop watching, which is extremely rare for me, especially for this genre
I watched the 1st episode and was interested. After the 2nd ep, I was hooked. I watched all 25 episodes in one go, back to back, because I couldn’t stop. Never has another series been able to keep me going (I usually don’t watch more than 5 episodes in one sitting), but Toradora kept me wanting to click on the next episode each time until I was finished, and left wanting more (even though I was satisfied with the ending)
Afterwards, I thought a lot about why an anime series of a genre that is usually not my taste could have been able to retain my attention for so long, and i realized the answers: the characters and the overall story.
The characters are what make this series so great. Each character have personalities that are unique and rather realistic and believable (or as realistic as animes go). There is no “super” character that acts too good or too cool for school. There is no “that annoying” character that acts too snobby or stuck up, which can sometimes be a problem for tsundere characters. And this is all because every character shows a weak side or moments of insecurity, which makes each of them more relatable. It also allows for many rather comedic scenes as well as emotional moments. But the best part is the interactions and chemistry between all the characters, and the way each of them change as their relationship with each other grows.
The second thing is the story. The reason I usually don’t care for romance or drama is because I usually find the story too cliche or predictable. I also hate those cliche moments of “coincidence”, for example, when a main character happens to see his/her love interest with someone else accidentally and misunderstands. I also hate it when characters act unnaturally stupid or too prideful for no reason and let it get in the way of the relationship.
But none of those cliche moments happen in Toradora. Every character has a reason and motive for the actions they decide to take. The story managed to keep me guessing and wanting to know what will happen next, instead of making me feel like i could write the story myself.
Another plus for Toradora is the music. There are some key scenes where the soundtrack actually triggered goosebumps and made me tear; it still does even after rewatching. THAT IS RARE FOR ME. In fact i don’t think anything I’ve ever watched, not just anime, can even make me feel that emotionally invested in fictional characters.
Almost forgot to mention that after it was done, I started to watch it again from the beginning the next day. Another rare occurrence for me, as usually i don’t feel like rewatching things for months. I was able to pick up certain things that i missed with the first watch thru. The only reason I put the story as 9/10 was because of this. A few plot points weren’t really shown or conveyed in the best way and were missed even to an avid viewer like me. But I was glad to have felt that way, leaving me thinking about what I missed, instead of feeling like I could have easily figured it out or seen it coming.
Again, Toradora has become my favorite anime, as a guy that usually doesn’t care for this genre, which says a lot. It gave me more enjoyment than any of the other anime I have seen so far. I would recommend it to anyone, not just romance lovers.
What’s “4 seasons” feeling I am talking about? Here’s the explanation:
I felt the sensation changed 4 times while watch this anime:
1st time: During episodes 1 to 2, watching those episodes for the first time I thought this series would just be a light comedy anime which will make me chuckle without a complicated story. It just like the spring season that give a high hopes on the early year.
2nd time: During episodes 3 to 14, I’m getting a bit bored and almost drop it, but I decided to push my self to finish it (the only reasons I want to finish it is just because I got interest by the last main character who showed up in this part). It just like summer season that is really hot, and the only fun is going to beach during the summer break.
3rd time: During episodes 15 to 24, my curiosity was piqued for what will be going on with this show, things got a bit complicated, and I think this part is the “life” of the series. Just like an autumn season, although the flowers fall, but becomes a wonderful scenery.
4th time: During the final episode, “WHAT THE HELL”, with this final episode, I mean everything seems fine at the beginning of the episode, but in the end it turned out anti-climatic for me. Just like the winter season, unpredictable storms, snow, and always cold; but after that Spring comes.
Well, that’s my personal view of the story, so I give 7/10 for it.
Art and Sound, nothing particular to comment, it all seem good enough, and I like the second opening OST. 7/10 for both of it.
All characters were unique, both in design and personalities, even with the supporting characters, they are all really good. A great job was done by the creator at this point. EXCEPT for MC’s pet, it’s very annoying, and I really like “Ami-n”, her appearance, her personality, her reactions, her way of pretending to be an adult (she’s the last MC that I mentioned before), so 8/10 For Chara design.
For the enjoyment, I think I’ll go for 7/10 that because this show had me feel bored once, and the ending was anti-climatic for me, but I do like the humor and story development (starting from episode 15).
Overall 7/10 score for this show.
What makes Toradora so exceptional as far as the romance genre goes? Is it the story? The art? The Sound? The Characters? It just may be all of them combined. I’d like to begin by stating something. The story of Toradora is very predictable. Cliché even. But wait, isn’t that a bad thing? While the story may seem plain, the execution of the pacing is undeniably good at assuming a calm, relaxed flow for the majority of its run which, in turn, yields a satisfying romantic series as a result.
Toradora is not like many other romantic series out there that have characters fall in love simply just because. Love slowly stems from what begins as two people who become friends looking for mutual assistance in their romantic interests. Toradora gives its audience room to breathe and focuses the first half of the show on building the friendship between the two main characters through silly, lighthearted antics, making developed romantic feelings between characters seem more realistic and sincere later down the line when things become more serious. However, love is a complicated business, as I’ve said in my introduction. People’s feelings do get walked over and left in the dust. While it’s thematically a good thing for the audience to feel touched emotionally, seeing characters getting their emotions crushed was truly a somber sight to behold.
The art was smooth and was enjoyable visually. I did like the consistency that Toradora’s animation offered. For a series that was done in the 2008-2009 time period, it still looks marvelous and holds its own compared to more recent anime. The sound was a big plus in my book. While I liked both the OPs and EDs, I have to give a big shout out to the timing of the music during dramatic moments; that repetitive melody of piano left quite a strong impression on me. I’d like to also address that the script and voice actors were really quite something. The dark little subtleties in comments or remarks were an admirable feature the show had to offer.
I think every romantic series heavily depends on its cast to be the foundation of the series, holding the structure of the show into place. The characters of Toradora are an interesting bunch that create the opportunity for its audience to laugh and also feel gloomy. There is more than meets the eye underneath these seemingly cliché characters. Ryuuji is the male lead and he is generally a very likable, realistic character. He struggles with romance, gets low self-esteem because he’s self-conscious, and regularly voices his opinions on matters at hand. Throughout the show he proves that he’s a loyal friend and all around good guy, though he might be a little obsessive compulsive about cleanliness and order. But hey, who doesn’t have their own little quirks?
Moving onto the main female lead, I felt a little wishy-washy in regards to liking Taiga’s character. I’m not a fan of the tsundere type, and that’s exactly what she is. While Taiga acts like a brat most of the time, she also becomes more and more endearing as the series progresses. She stands up for herself and her friends, and despite her childish behavior, generally cares for the people around her. With the main two characters out of the way, what about the other ‘main’ characters: Minori, Yuusaku, and Ami?
One of Toradora’s strengths was allowing the supporting characters to have their moments in the spotlight. Because of this, we are able to obtain a deeper understanding of them and paint a better picture of them as characters. While Ami and Minori seem perceptive of the relationships in the group, I’m honestly not sure about Yuusaku. Under his oblivious façade it’s somewhat difficult to tell. While he’s Ryuuji’s best friend, he is oddly quite different compared to him. Yuusaku is energetic, outgoing, responsible, yet also very silly and childish. Minori seems like genuinely a nice girl with the happy on the outside cliché personality, but Minori is really a coward underneath it all; she doesn’t confront her own emotions and constantly pushes for Taiga’s happiness at her own expense. It’s not that I disliked Minori as a character, it was just agitating to watch her at times. Last but not least, Kawashima, Ami. Ami is the most astute of the unsaid troubles that are bothering the people in the group and often makes subtle comments or sarcastic remarks pertaining to their unspoken feelings. When she is first introduced she seems extremely stuck up and vain, but as the series progressed it becomes more apparent that she’s tactfully looking out for the people she can finally call ‘friends’ for the first time. She developed the most out of the three supporting main characters, in my opinion, and easily became one of my favorite characters of the series, if not my most favorite.
Despite how gratifying I thought the series was, I also can’t turn a blind eye on the aspects of the show that I did not like. One of the most annoying tropes in anime, at least for me, is characters getting hit for no reason, or very petty ones. It’s a trope that comes hand-in-hand with the tsundere character archetype, and it’s one of the reasons I dislike tsundere characters as a whole. Taiga, who basically goes down the list of tsundere character traits like a check list, is a huge offender of verbally and physically abusing Ryuuji early on in the series. If you’re like me, you’ll find this to be quite vexing. Lastly, fan service is apparent in nearly every recent anime. While I personally dislike fan service, I know that many series utilize it to keep a portion of their audience interested. I watched Toradora because it was a romance story that set itself apart from most others. Although it’s substantially toned down, comparatively to other series, I believe Toradora would have been better off not utilizing any fan service at all.
While I did like the ending overall because it ties things up nicely, and felt fairly rewarding, I did not like how the ending felt very rushed. The amount of material crammed into the last couple episodes felt considerably off, considering the rest of the show was focused on coaxing the relationships at a much slower pace. A couple bad apples on a tree don’t make the rest of the apples rotten, and Toradora was far from being bad. It isn’t a completely perfect series, but one of the best the romance genre has to offer in anime so far.
Every once in a while a person can’t help but wonder what if. There has been a time in all our lives when we have pondered the thought of meeting the ‘one’ who is exactly right for us. Every day we strive to find a person, or people, who understand and accept us for who we are. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that one person that fits together with you like two consecutive cogs in an intricate machine. Maybe, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who is exactly right for you. It’s not because this person is perfect, or because you are, but because your combined flaws fit together seamlessly in a way that allows two different beings to coexist together perfectly as equals … something like a Tiger and a Dragon.
4: Nodame Cantabile: Paris-hen
Japanese: のだめカンタービレ 巴里編
MAL Score: 8.16
Shinichi Chiaki conquers his fear of flying, and Megumi “Nodame” Noda’s exceptional performance at a piano competition earns her an invitation to study at the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris. The pair go to Paris together to take the next step in their careers: Chiaki as a new rising conductor under the wing of the great maestro Franz von Stresemann, and Nodame as a pupil of the esteemed piano professor Charles Auclair.
But, of course, the music world is much bigger than the two of them could have ever imagined. Chiaki and Nodame, alongside old friends and new rivals, must fight and persevere to reach the dazzling musical heights that await them while never losing sight of what matters most.
There is hope though, as while there are plenty of shows that let the viewer down in this way, there are a growing number that actually manage to equal, if not better, the original series, and one such example is Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter.
Now as fans of the franchise will already know, the story is about the eccentric (or slightly mad, whichever takes your fancy), and thoroughly otaku musical genius known as Noda Megumi (Nodame is her nickname), and her reluctant, long suffering love interest Chiaki Shinichi. As the title of the series suggests, this time the pair have moved to Paris to continue their studies. Nodame will attend the music conservatory under the tutelage of the reknowned Charles Auclair, while Chiaki will continue to his apprenticeship under the erstwhile maestro Franz von Stresseman.
Unlike the original series, the plot is far less derived in Paris Chapter. The main reason for this is because a good portion of the original was spent setting the scene and introducing the characters, so by the time Paris Chapter came around much of the hard work had already been done. The story is thus able to continue from where it left off at the end of Nodame Cantabile, however the second series is also reliant on firsthand knowledge of the original as there is very little time spent on pointless flashbacks scenes. While there is a degree of scene setting and character introduction, this is handled in an expedient manner that helps to maintain the flow of the plot.
As far as looks go, Paris Chapter is actually a little better than the original series. While both retain the same atmosphere, the second series has a far more continental look due to the location, which is also reflected in style of clothing. Both Nodame and Chiaki look much the same as they did at the end of the original anime, while the new characters (Tanya, Frank, Yunlong, etc), follow the style of the series to a tee (i.e. highly expressive yet slightly “cartoony” features). The animation is a step up from Nodame Cantabile in that the strange CG used during the musical set pieces is actually smoother and more fluid than before. That said, much of the remaining character animation is pretty much what one would expect from the franchise, and many of the visual gags are well timed and choreographed.
Once again though, the areas where the series really excels are with the sound and music. The voice acting is as good as before (if not better), especially in the roles that continue on from the first series. The newcomers manage to fit in to the cast rather well, and while their performances are loaded with expression, they manage to capture that quirky, eccentric atmosphere that is a hallmark of the franchise.
In terms of music, Paris Chapter is far more focused on delivering set pieces than the original series, and the difference is palpable. This show literally oozes classical music from every pore, so much so in fact, the variety of tracks on offer in Paris Chapter easily rivals that of the first season.
As before though, this is very much a character driven show, and while season one managed a good degree of development for both Nodame and Chiaki, Paris Chapter takes it to a whole new level. In addition to this, the show spends a fair amount of time developing the supporting characters in much the same way as the original. The downside though, is that where the first series had 23 episodes to play with, Paris Chapter only has 11. Now one would think that there is no way to provide any meaningful growth to new characters in such a short time, however this is not the case as the nature of series two is to follow directly on from the original. The benefit of this is that both leads only need to build on their development from the first season, so more time can be spent refining the characters and strengthening their presence in the story, as well as focusing more on the supporting cast. Ironically, this is also the main reason why it is essential to have watched the first season beforehand as much of Nodame and Chiaki’s characterisation in Paris Chapter is dependent on the viewer knowing their history.
Now it should be fairly obvious that I enjoyed Paris Chapter, and to be honest I found it to be as good as the original series. While the show continues to develop the plot and characters, it also manages to retain the eccentric charm of the original without miring itself in melodrama. The new characters are a boon to the series as they complement the story in some novel ways that may not be obvious at first. One example of this is Frank, a music student and European “otaku”, who learns firsthand what otaku power is really capable of (thanks to Nodame and an episode of PuriGorota).
What I’ve always liked about the Nodame Cantabile franchise are the lengths the anime goes to in order to stay true to the manga, and Paris Chapter only serves to reinforce this. The plot is literally taken straight from the pages its paper based counterpart, and while there are some differences due to time constraints (amongst other things), anyone who has read the manga should find themselves on very familiar ground.
As far as sequels go, Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter is pretty much everything fans of the original could hope for.
Paris Chapter is a direct sequel to Nodame Cantabile and picks up where the previous anime left off – with Nodame and Chiaki journeying to Paris to continue their musical education. Besides our two main protagonists a whole slew of new secondary characters are introduced.
You’d have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy the development of the relationship between Nodame and Chiaki. Parts were truly hilarious (episode 5-6), some bits were sad and others were “aah” moments that let you reflect on just how much both of them have grown as people. Their music has also evolved throughout this arc.
That being said, there are several weaknesses in the Paris Chapter. First of all, the series is TOO short to fully tell the story in all its glory. Paris Chapter could have been 24 episodes and still we would have wanted more. Because of the shortened length a lot of stuff felt compressed and there wasn’t nearly enough plot, or music (we need MORE music) to satisfy me or most Nodame fans. *sigh*
Secondly, none of the secondary characters (fun though they are) quite GRABS you the way the secondary characters did in the original Nodame Cantabile. For example, there is no comic relief that comes even close to Timpanist Masumi Okuyama – I miss him so much! Also the developing romances between any secondary characters in Paris Chapter pales in comparison to the Mine – Kiyora Miki Violin Romance. As for Rui Son – what a wasted opportunity, another plot thread started that just seemed to fizzle into ???
Basically with a little more running time I believe the plot and character development would have been perfect. It only scores as high as it does because Nodame/Chiaki are a truly brilliant pairing.
The art was very much in the style of Nodame Cantabile Season 1 so there is no incongruity. Paris is lovingly depicted – watching this anime brings me back to when I visited Paris, I could see some of the places I had been and it was easily recognizable. The animators got the “feel” of Paris close to perfect – I guess nothing can compare with the romance of actually being at the river side at night.
Great soundtrack and sound effects fitting with the anime – I doubt I’ll be the only one wishing for more music. Episode 10 is definately the highlight music showcase wise. OP quite ordinary (disappointing really) but the ED is fantastic, one of the more catchy ones I’ve heard.
Loved loved loved it. I laughed, cried and anxiously awaited every new episode. Would have been a masterpiece if it were just a little bit longer, enough to make up for some of the “hanging” developments. Still, this did a great job of whetting my appetite for Season 3, I need more Nodame!
STORY – This Paris Chapter picks up pretty much right where the first season leaves off. Chiaki is still working to advance towards his goal of being a renowned conductor, and even Nodame seems to have something more concrete in mind for an end result. The general idea of the story is more or less the same, but unfortunately, I think a lot of the charm is lost in the overseas transition — mostly because their dreams don’t seem quite so distant anymore. Chiaki is already fairly well known and well connected; as such, the things that stand between him and what he wants don’t seem to be that big a deal anymore. We all know he’s capable. This second season gives a little more spotlight to Nodame and her development, but even she seems to have made peace with herself for the most part, so the progression just doesn’t seem as interesting.
Episode-to-episode, since it remains quite slice-of-life, the series is still pretty fun and entertaining, but the depth and relevance of the over-arching plot isn’t nearly what it was in the first season. It feels more like a continuation of antics because the story had already matured to its height and there’s no where else to go. I suppose that’s a little disappointing, but at least it doesn’t take away from the original series.
CHARACTER – Like the story, I feel like both Chiaki and Nodame had finished all their significant growth and development in the first season and that there wasn’t much else to address in the second season. Despite having become an official couple somewhere along the way, there were only small differences in the way they interacted with each other. It was still ridiculously adorable for sure, and it could be said that we do gain some insight on Chiaki’s regard of Nodame and their relationship, but I don’t really feel much was explored beyond what we could have already figured out on our own. I suppose slow and gradual progression was part of what made their relationship so appealing in the first place though.
Sadly, most of the secondary cast from the first season stays in Japan, and we’re greeted with a mostly fresh assortment of support characters in Paris (Kuroki the Oboeist is the only character that reappears). And they aren’t nearly as interesting or entertaining as their predecessors. I don’t really think there’s a specific reason though, honestly; I just had a much harder time caring about them…maybe because they weren’t featured as prominently and because none of them really seemed motivated? If they don’t care about themselves, then why should I care about them? It also bugged me a little that almost all of them were pianists; variety is good!
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – At first glance, Paris-hen seems to have gotten a step-up in budget as far as animation goes. Where season one had still frame after still frame for musical performances, season two has none of that whatsoever. Instead, we’re met with a lot of computer-generated music-playing that’s fitted in rather awkwardly with the cel animation. Every single performance is animated in the Paris Chapter. Violins move! Fingers glide over piano keys! Chiaki’s arms actually wave around when he’s conducting! It’s pretty neat; I was excited to see instruments move, but after a while, you really start to notice how awkward it looks.
The difference between the CG animation and everything else is too obvious. Chiaki’s arms are too stiff. The pianists’ fingers are look strange when they move; they’re robotic. It isn’t terrible, but it’s noticeable, and it becomes a little distracting. I think the general character animation took a hit because of it, even in scenes that didn’t involve performances. More proportions were off than usual, etc. The animation was never amazing to begin with, so those small things stand out. I’m not really sure whether the still frame panning is better or worse than the awkward CG, but at least they’re trying.
MUSIC – You know, for a music anime, Nodame Cantabile Paris Chapter has a pretty terrible opening theme. The animation is uninspired, and the song is just… not good. Thankfully, the ending theme is much cuter, and I really enjoyed the multilingualism of it all. We don’t see as much variety in musical selections throughout this season as in the first, but that’s probably because it’s half the length. Almost all of the performance scenes are also markedly shorter, which may bode well for those that got a little bored before, but I was actually kind of disappointed. Even though most of them had been still pans, it took these shortened pieces to make me realize I did really enjoy all those long performances in the first season. I think there’s just something cool about seeing characters perform. It’s inspiring. In all though, there really isn’t much to complain about.
VOICE ACTING – Tomokazu and Kawasumi are still doing a great job with their leads. Chiaki’s noise of disbelief is just priceless every time, as is Nodame’s "gyabo!" It really impresses me that they manage to find that perfect middle where she says it just enough times to be endearing, but not enough times to be annoying. The rest of the cast’s voice acting was pretty average.
One thing I really wish they addressed better was the bilingual nature of the story though. Sure, they’re Japanese characters and thus speak Japanese, and obviously, a show airing in Japan will be in Japanese, but still. The way the series starts off is actually really neat as far as this goes — Nodame is learning French through dubbed anime and it’s really hilarious. There are captions indicating when conversations are actually taking place in French but are being "dubbed" in Japanese. But after a while, these indications disappear, and I get confused, especially when random sniplets of French get woven in to the spoken Japanese. Especially when French characters speaking in Japanese weave French into their Japanese!
I have to admit that it was pretty fun hearing the Japanese butcher another language besides English though. XD
OVERALL – Nodame Cantabile Paris-hen was enjoyable. It didn’t quite live up to the standards set by the first season, but it was far from being a straight-up failure. As I haven’t read the manga or seen the drama, I’m not quite sure how all this matches up with the events there, but it is a smooth follow-up to the original anime. The story doesn’t move much, but the characters are still fun and their interactions cute. The visual aspects could stand a bit more improvement, but the sound is still pretty damn solid (excepting the opening theme).
I’m pretty excited for the third season, anyway. Slice-of-life could conceivably go on forever, and I know I said that both the story and characters feel like they’ve matured to some kind of climax… but despite that, I’m still having fun with them. There’s always room to grow. Maybe there wasn’t much movement in this season, but who knows what the third season could bring? I have faith. For sequels, that’s a pretty rare thing.
3: Major S4
Japanese: メジャー （第4シリーズ)
MAL Score: 8.22
Having finished high school, Gorou Honda sets his sights on becoming a professional baseball player. His dreams are much more ambitious than becoming a Japanese Baseball League player, so he instead decides to move to the birthplace of his beloved sport, America, in order to play in the Major League.
However, Gorou finds that the Major League players are much faster, stronger, and more driven than he is. Nonetheless, he is eager to catch up with them. In order to do so, Gorou must first conquer the ranks of the Minor League, where numerous skilled players compete in the grueling rise to the Majors.
Gorou learns that he will have to adapt to the stark differences of American culture and push himself to new extremes as his race to join the Major League begins.
Once again another great season of major has been made with another story to begin with. A well made anime with a little comedy and drama on it. You may look at this season as an appetizer like the 1st and 2nd season because of the story hanging at the end of it.
Most of the episodes are like a tale that gives some entertainment but the point is that some of them are an annoyance with the main plot that decreases the enjoyment of it.
Just like the first impression about it, I’m a bit upset that the enjoyment of some of the episodes doesn’t connect with the main plot, a high – low feature. Another disappointment is that there are so many plots that ended up quickly without being shown step by step, but even though some of them gives a bit tension on the main character. As the story moves on, there’s only a few positive on it, like the continuing development, motivation, faith and perseverance of the main character, and also for the new characters that comes in to the picture with a bit passion about the game and continues to fire up as it goes.
As this season, Shigeno, Goro improves as well. He burns up to a new level, though there’s something missing about it. New and old characters also helps to add some good effects on the enjoyment of the season, characters that helps the main character to go smoothly, even though some of them didn’t show some superb skills.
The ending song is a bit catchy and easy to follow as the rhythm goes on but the opening song is the one that needs improvement though.
As this episode, it was a great anime but to think there’s something lacking and being spoil about the story, thus, some of the episodes give a great impact like the first five episodes that brings thought of continuing and finding out the ending of it. Therefore I’m quite happy that it contains some features that a great anime must have, as it forms a nice and deserving one.
A fine made anime that gives enough enjoyment and thrill, even though there are some episodes that I’m displeased. Characters, Sound, and a bit of story will make it as a nice anime to watch.
Watch the prequels to maximize the enjoyment and understanding about the story. Hope it helps =)
One sport that I have never had a particular enjoyment for is baseball. Growing up in the United States usually equates to someone loving America’s past time and with the help of Major it might have worked. Major is split up into 6 different seasons and each one has a different tone and way of progressing the story. It is common to hear that Major Season 1 and Major Season 3 are the favorites but Season 4 is usually left out.
The previous installments of Major involves Goro, our baseball protagonist, trying to climb many hurdles of challenges that he faces on a daily basis. His goal is to play against a certain someone and to become the best baseball player possible. The way the animation studio relayed this to the audience is by placing Goro is almost impossible situations in every season. This is not a bad thing as when Goro achieves these goals it plays out like an underdog story. Season 4 however changes things up as he is on a somewhat capable team and overall just has to watch out for himself. The overall tone for Season 4 is also more aloof and comedy driven than previous seasons. It focuses less on baseball domination and more on the bond Goro forms with his new team members. Many people felt that this season was a let down as they did not care for the new team and thought Goro was simply killing time.
The animation in Season 4 is far better than previous installments but still relatively basic if compared to other series. Facial expressions have been improved as you will be seeing Goro’s over-confidant smirk throughout the show’s entirety. Scenes from the baseball games are fluid and detailed but become stale after repeated use.
Sound is average at best in terms of title and background music. The opening theme for this season is worse than Major Season 3 which I LOVED to death. In terms of the music that plays during the show, there are a couple compositions that are very good and fit the mood perfectly. There are however other songs that are supposed to capture American and just turn out at stereotypical Texan like country music. Not a huge problem but if you know how America really is then you know how much this show relies on United States stereotypes. The voice actors are pretty well done as Goro and the new team’s owner have many back and forth skits. Each character has a distinctive voice and vocal mannerisms that stick throughout the entire season. Background sounds such as baseball hits and when the ball hits the foul ball pole are very well done and fit in the scenes.
Where others think this season lacked in I think has succeeded greatly. The whole season mostly revolves around Goro and his team trying to win the championship (mostly like the previous seasons) but we see less of the games and more of the character bonding. Goro meets a pitcher who very effectively shows him he has a lot to learn before he is ready for the Majors. This season also shows something that has been left out so far in the past; how a team effects the city they play for. There are many parts of this season where different members of the city come to Goro telling him their dreams and hopes are in his hands. Not only does this form a connection between the team and the city, it shows how Goro has mentally improved himself to play under extreme pressure (something that is needed in any sport).
Lots of average scores for each category due to the fact that this season does seem like less of an impact than say Major Season 1. However, with a strong cast that I missed when Goro moved on, something great was achevied in this season that I think Major was missing. We saw more of how baseball affects everyday people’s lives and how the pressures of the Major League affect minor league players. The new characters had great personalities and helped Goro mature and grow as a human being and a baseball player. For some watchers of Major, the change of pace will be a turn off but even so this season added new things to Goro’s life that at least for me helped change him into a better athlete. If you are thinking of skipping this season to go directly to Major Season 5, I encourage that you give it a shot and just sit back and relax. The final episodes pick up on the baseball battles to give the season a great finish. Not the best season for Major but still a great anime.
Thanks for reading my review! If you liked my writing style, would like to see some other reviews, or just want to talk, please stop by my page!
STORY(73): A common story, but works, and talk about nice and important themes
ART(49): Yeah, Major have problems yet, the animation is of low profile, but is enough.
SOUND(71): This season was the better in sound, have the better Intro and music put in good points.
CHARACTERS(82): The development of characters was very good, how the sucess and fails are trated by the story, we see Goro have sucess, but we see to players that don´t get her dreams, but is normal, happens, and the anime know, and work with this.
OVERALL (74): Best Season until now, the out of last director, do good for Major.
2: xxxHOLiC Kei
Japanese: ×××HOLiC 継
MAL Score: 8.23
Kimihiro Watanuki’s life was never really normal. But in addition to his ability to see spirits, this sequel to xxxHOLiC finds him still slaving away for Yuuko, the bizarre owner of a strange shop, who promised to rid him of this ability. However, this otherworldly woman can only do so when he has worked enough to earn his wish. Such is the way for anyone who finds their way into the shop to have their request granted: a compensation equal to their wish must be paid.
In this odd shop that straddles the world of the living and the dead, Watanuki finds himself doing household chores for the seemingly lazy Yuuko and her companions, while also helping out clients. Along with his classmates, supposed romantic rival Shizuka Doumeki and his crush Himawari Kunogi, Watanuki deals with the many misfortunes surrounding Yuuko’s customers, as well as those that closely follow him and his friends.
xxxHOLiC – Kei is the sequel to the first xxxHOLiC anime which is an adaptation of the CLAMP manga of the same name.
+ A great plot that leaves you wanting to know what happens next
+ Very deep symbolisms and philosophy are presented
+ A bigger focus on character development
+ An actual sense of continuity unlike the first season’s more episodic format
+ Great mix of supernatural elements into a slice of life anime
– Fans who prefered the episodic format might be let down
– Less freakish supernatural situations (in comparison) to the first season
– Fans of the manga might be let down at the lack of references to Tsubasa Chronicles this far into the story.
+ Flawless animation
+ No quiality fluctuations throughout the series, solid and stable all the way
+ CLAMP art (for those who love it)
– CLAMP art (for those who hate it)
– A little spoilerish but I wish they had kept “a certain person'” eye colours like they should have been
+ Very awesome soundtrack that fits the atmospheres perfectly
+ Very good use of the soundtrack making scenes more powerful
+ Great performance by all the seiyuu’s they did an awesome job
– Watanuki’s voice can get irritaring sometimes (but thats me)
+ Yuuko is amazing….very deep and mysterious character that just makes you wanna know more about her
+ Watanuki, despite being annoying sometimes, is a great and likeable character
+ The rest of the cast both main and supporting are very likeable
+ Great character development that actually makes you care for them
– Watanuki’s short temper irritates me sometimes (but thats me)
– Mokona is also annoying
Enjoyment: xxxHOLiC – Kei was really an incredibly fun anime to watch, I just didn’t feel like stopping, mainly because I loved the characters and the plot.
Overall: xxxHOLiC Kei is a great sequel to a great anime that is adapted from a great manga. But even as great as the anime is I highly recommend you read the manga since there is a lot of IMPORTANT material that was left out of both anime adaptations. If you like slice of life and supernatural animes, then by all means watch xxxHOLiC, its one of the best at doing both at once.
Almost every episode had the making of two or three story arcs. The writers of "xxxholic kei" seem to be the type who when asked, "How did you like that elephant that just walked by?" reply, "What elephant?"
To someone who watched all the first season episodes at least twice the second season is an insult.
The less episodic format led to improvements in some areas, but ultimately this season still suffers from many of the issues I had with the first season, like character designs and the repetitive interactions between characters.
Instead of being mostly episodic like its first season, xxxHOLiC Kei is presented in loosely connected arcs 2-4 episodes. This should’ve helped by allowing more time for developing more in-depth stories and settings, but outside of one arc towards the end the arcs felt mediocre. The couple plot twists they attempted were too predictable, and most the new characters introduced weren’t interesting enough to carry the story.
I think they dropped the ball in their attempts to develop Watanuki’s friend group. In the first few episodes it seemed like the relationship between Doumeki and Watanuki would develop past the very stale, one-dimensional interactions they would have in the first season, but their dynamic hardly changed. The end result is basically an ability that’s used sparingly throughout the season. Himawari’s development was strange and almost nonsensical, that’s all I can say without spoiling. Even with these developments though, nothing really changed with their interactions. Watanuki’s still unreasonably antagonistic towards Doumeki, and swoons over Himawari any times she’s mentioned.
I enjoyed just one arc, which was about 4 episodes. Everything else mildly enjoyable at best and boring/repetitive at worst.
1: Clannad: After Story
English: Clannad ~After Story~
Japanese: CLANNAD AFTER STORY クラナド アフターストーリー
MAL Score: 8.95
Clannad: After Story, the sequel to the critically acclaimed slice-of-life series Clannad, begins after Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa graduate from high school. Together, they experience the emotional rollercoaster of growing up. Unable to decide on a course for his future, Tomoya learns the value of a strong work ethic and discovers the strength of Nagisa’s support. Through the couple’s dedication and unity of purpose, they push forward to confront their personal problems, deepen their old relationships, and create new bonds.
Time also moves on in the Illusionary World. As the plains grow cold with the approach of winter, the Illusionary Girl and the Garbage Doll are presented with a difficult situation that reveals the World’s true purpose.
Based on the visual novel by Key and produced by Kyoto Animation, Clannad: After Story is an impactful drama highlighting the importance of family and the struggles of adulthood.
I experienced something that changed my life…
In a nutshell, Clannad ~After Story~ influenced the way I will live for the rest of my life and not just in some half-assed way like any other show would. It legitimately moved me to make certain decisions, for better or for worse. In that sense, no other anime can compare, as no other anime has provided an equivalent reaction on my part.
Before you continue, you should know that Clannad ~After Story~ is a continuation of the story from Clannad and an adaptation from the original Visual Novel by KEY. Although knowledge of the first season is not necessary, it is highly recommended if you want to get the most out of ~After Story~ as well as this review. That being said, this review is tailored to all readers, and can be understood without knowledge of the first season. Note that there may be very minor spoilers. Now then, on to the meat and potatoes.
I won’t spend much time on the individual components of Clannad ~After Story~ (or Clannad ~AS~ as I will call it now) like I have with my other reviews. At first glance, there is nothing notably outstanding about it as a whole. For those who are interested in the individual components, here they are and the reasons behind them are available at the end of the review:
Enjoyment (in this case influence): 10+/10
| Main Review |
It is difficult to convey the emotions that went through my mind as I watched Clannad ~AS~. For those of you who watched the first season and dropped the show, I urge you to pick up ~AS~ and give it a chance. The first few episodes run almost identically to those of the first season, but the true After Story part branches off in a manner that is unique only to ~AS~. What Clannad ~AS~ gives the viewer is a story of life. A story of despair. A story of forgiveness. A story of hope. Through this story, Clannad ~AS~ can powerfully change the way you perceive the world around you. I am well aware that not everyone enjoys Clannad and ~AS~, especially since the magical light orbs are outlandish to some, but for me it was a bit of a godsend among anime.
The concept of Clannad ~AS~ is neither truly unique nor breathtakingly wonderful. What the viewer gets when watching it is the story of a man. Nothing less and nothing more. What Clannad ~AS~ really excels at, however, is the way it tells the story of that man. While it may be classified as a romance or even a harem anime by some (at least the first season could be), I really classify Clannad ~AS~ as a slice of life. A slice out of the life of a delinquent who can’t seem to do anything right and struggles to protect what really matters to him as the world comes crashing down.
However, “slice of life” can be a deceptive term. As I watched Clannad ~AS~, it was not as much a slice out of Tomoya’s life but a slice out of mine. You see, what Kyoani succeeds in is hitting on the points that make life truly what it is. The continuation of time. The reality of truth. The genuine meaning of “life goes on.” Additionally, by extending over many years, the true significance of every event begins to emerge. Clannad ~AS~ takes the tale of the first season and shapes it around a single person. It is a respectable reflection of life and delves into what many shows do not, and cannot, represent: the story after the story.
While many of the situations may be overblown and excessively dramatized (at least in the opinion of some people), it is ultimately true that every facet of Clannad ~AS~ gives the audience some insight into life. Does it matter that there are miracles and magic orbs of light flying around? For me, no. For others, this could be the case. That is to say, not all aspects of Clannad ~AS~ are perfect, but the impact was enough for me.
If you are looking for a cheerful anime, turn away now. Kyoto Animation does many things with Clannad ~AS~ including some very effective humor in many places, but Clannad ~AS~ will make you cry and smile, often both in the same episode. I won’t lie, I cried at least 5 times throughout the season. Even when rewatching episodes, I cried again. Don’t get me wrong, Clannad ~AS~ really has some happy moments as well, but Kyoani tends to depress many, many times. Each sad moment is profound and beautiful, but nevertheless it is sad. The ending song, Torch, which is played in every episode, serves to alleviate this, for better or worse. Torch is very upbeat, but many people consider it unnecessary and I agree. Torch can be a real mood breaker at times.
The power that Clannad ~AS~ exerts comes from its characters. While the first season portrayed many main characters and their stories, ~AS~ focuses on the life of Tomoya and lightly on the lives of those who surround him. Tomoya is a failure in a cruel world. In a sense, he is a fatal hero. While he may not know it, he is destined to face pain and suffering through his life. There is a bit of controversy over the ending of ~AS~, but those who wish to have a “truer” ending can consider the second to last episode as such (don’t hate me for suggesting it). When seen in that light, Clannad ~AS~ effectively played out a story that neither catered to an audience nor skewed reality (except for the orbs of light, of course). What it presented was something that many people can relate to. The loss of a loved one. The pain of recovery. The neglect of a father. Rediscovering love and friendship. Coping with suffering. *SPOILER* The feeling of holding a daughter in your arms for the first time. The pains and joys of being a father. */SPOLER* What it ended with was a realistic ending and a message for the future. Additionally, if seen that way, the last episode can be portrayed as Kyoani staying true to the visual novel and respecting the source material.
*Unfortunately, more talk of the plot would undeniably lead to spoilers, which I am trying to keep free from this review, so please bear with me. Heck, if I’ve convinced you at this point, what are you waiting for? Go see for yourself what all the hype is about. Otherwise, read on!*
Ultimately, Clannad ~AS~ molded characters that I thought I was familiar with into something close to human. Their stories produced emotion that made me reconsider the situations of the people that I see every day. Through social commentary and moral struggles, the viewer can genuinely begin to respect Tomoya. I know I wouldn’t be able to withstand half of what he did, but I truly began to respect the fact that he kept going, despite him being a fictional character. Through his struggles, I began to learn about myself. Through the struggles of those around him, I began to respect those whom I had once hated. This may seem extreme, and you may think that I am crazy, but what I write is nothing but the truth. Every episode gripped me, and many episodes evoked tearful reactions, which I am not very prone to. As I continued to watch, I could hardly bear waiting a week for each new episode to come out. At the same time, however, I knew that each episode held a bomb – a flood of emotions that could affect the rest of my day. Clannad ~AS~ went way beyond enjoyment – it went into the realm of what I could call an “epiphany.”
Can the story of one man influence the lives of others? Is it still possible if that man is a fictional character? For me, I did not think it was possible for anime to extend its influence at such a level. Clannad ~AS~ proved me wrong time and time again. Look past the first season and the first few episodes, and perhaps you can begin to understand what I mean.
For those interested or who can relate after watching the show, this is the ultimate and most powerful result of the show as it applies to me. The following is the reason why I can’t keep my mind off of Clannad ~AS~ and the reason why it will remain as my #1 favorite for what I know will be many, many seasons: *SPOILER* Through Clannad ~AS~, I have basically committed to wanting to have a baby. Ushio love. */SPOILER*
| Analysis of components |
Clannad ~AS~ is unique in its storytelling, but the story itself is nothing special. The earlier episodes present almost unrelated stories just as the first season did, but Clannad ~AS~ takes a turn for the better with a focus on a single character and his ordeal. At this point, Clannad ~AS~ does nothing but follow the life of a young adult, Tomoya. Sure there is drama (oh, is there drama) and there is romance, in a sense, but in reality, there is no real plot to speak of. What there is, however, is the tale of a life experience that can change the way you live. A real deterrent might come from some of the magic that inexplicably finds its way into Clannad (both seasons), but that never really bothered me. The ending is also less-than-stellar and can be a bit confusing, but as stated before, there’s always the second to last episode to fall back on.
There is nothing blatantly wrong with the animation quality. Kyoto Animation produced Clannad ~AS~, so fans will know that there is nothing to fear. The character design is the same as that of Clannad and other KEY adaptations. The KEY character design is quite distinguishable, with its giant eyes. Personally, I am a fan, but other viewers might dislike the artwork. Other than that, Kyoani did another solid job with the animation, and there are no jerky movements that detract from the gorgeous lessons that unfold.
Kyoani had its ups and downs with the music for Clannad ~AS~. In many aspects, Clannad ~AS~ shoots beyond other KEY adaptations with its unique, unconventional plotline and incredibly well enacted scenes of what could very well be the life of an individual. In fact, many of the ordeals that Tomoya must face strike a particularly strong emotional chord among many people. Who knows, you might not be that certain type of person, but I definitely was. Anyways… back to the music. Clannad ~AS~’s opening sequence is a strong piano melody with deceptively deep lyrics. However, the ending sequence detracts from many of the spectacular moments, especially because Kyoani tends to end episodes on a sad note. As such, many would classify Torch (the ED) as an elaborate troll because it is too lively. Beyond the OP and ED, Clannad ~AS~ features tracks from the Visual Novel, which include very familiar tracks from the first season. Notable among these are the songs with lyrics, ie Ana. Certain parts of the OST mesh very well, and a powerful soundtrack can produce a powerful reaction. However, I don’t remember anything in particular clearly standing out to me, and as previously mentioned, Torch ruined quite a few strong moments.
While most of the other aspects of Clannad ~AS~ are very similar to their counterparts in the first season, character development in ~AS~ take a turn for the better. Kyoani successfully made me hate characters that I loved and love characters that I hated. Through a roller coaster complete with dips and turns, Clannad ~AS~ changed the way I perceive all type of people. From Tomoya’s seemingly disinterested, alcoholic father to Nagisa, a character who I actually deemed annoying in the first season, I came to understand what truly makes up a person. Every character really has a story behind their dejected or cheerful façade. Despite the usual “Clannad magic,” every character also turned out to be associable, adding to the personal level of the show. Even the more comical, secondary characters had their share of emotional moments, giving them real depth and giving the viewer a relatively accurate understanding of human nature. About half-way through the show, there is a certain character that changes many, many things. I won’t spoil it now, but her unique appearance is what truly brought Clannad ~AS~ to unmatchable levels.
Enjoyment is really up to the beholder. My view of enjoyment may be somewhat different from others’. Clannad is not for everybody, but for those who dropped the first season, ~AS~ is truly on a league of its own and worth another shot. Every person has that one anime that leaps up above the rest and leaves a lasting impression. For me, that anime was Clannad ~AS~. No other words can describe the effect it had on me, and I hope that this review has at least made you, the reader, consider picking up this diamond in the rough.
| Final Thoughts |
Thank you for your time (I know the review was long), and I sincerely wish that you give Clannad ~AS~ a chance. Who knows, it may change your life. As always, comments about how effectively this review worked are welcome. Also, a helpful rating is always appreciated.
As I said before, I started After Story expecting it to have the same light-hearted high school drama feel as the first season and, unfortunately, the first eight episodes did nothing to prove me wrong. The first eight episodes are Clannad at its storytelling worst, more specifically the Sunohara arc. Thankfully, Clannad at its storytelling worst is simply “okay”. The Sunohara arc makes Youhei’s younger sister, Mei, seem like a nosy and irrational little girl in contrast to the mature-beyond-her-years character that the writers seemed to be trying to present her as. The Yukine arc was better, but it pushes the boundaries of Tomoya’s “good Samaritan” personality a bit too far. The Misae arc is good by itself, but has very little to do with the story or the characters that we care about. If it weren’t for each arc each containing details that are vital to the enjoyment of understanding of the later part of the anime, I would recommend skipping the first eight episodes altogether to get straight to the real good stuff.
Thankfully, the latter part of After Story more than makes up for its mediocre first act with the absolute greatest storytelling in anime. After Story quickly gets back on its feet and shows what truly makes it great as we ride the greatest emotional rollercoaster in recent memory. The ending has caused some controversy for being too ambiguous to fully understand without having played the video game, but I feel otherwise. Granted, I had to see the anime twice before I truly understood it, but I was nonetheless able to figure out exactly what happened without any outside help. It’s a tough one, but it’s very possible.
While the main setting has its moments of visual awe, the artistic aspect of the anime truly shines in the beautiful and surreal “hidden world”. The impact differs greatly from the main world, boasting beautiful lighting, animation, and colors. In the main world, colors do a great job of changing from bright to dull based on the situation and animation is polished to a shine.
I’ve always been a big fan of a musical score acting as a compliment to whats happening on screen rather than a mere accompaniment. Clannad: After Story masterfully pairs its score with each event to further the emotional impact of each scene. It is done so well, in fact, that one cannot hear the music on its own without feeling some kind of emotion attached to that song by a certain event from the anime. The OP is good and very versatile in setting the correct emotional tone for each episode. On the downside, the bouncy, poppy ED is often horribly inappropriate to the emotions that you are left with at the end of each episode and is almost guaranteed to ruin the mood if you aren’t quick enough to stop it. I found myself sometimes ending the episode early when the scene seemed like an ending due to my fear of facing the buzzkill of an ED.
On the voice acting side, the English performances are top-notch. Each character is paired with a voice that fits their appearance and personality very well and that can easily be recognized among other voices. Luci Christian gives a flawless performance as both English Nagisa and Ushio, and Andrew Love does really great stuff with the situations he is put in as Akio.
The characters are without a doubt the strongest aspect of After Story. Each one is as incredibly human as they are likable, and their easiness to get attached to is one of the biggest reasons that the anime has such a great emotional impact. When the characters are suffering, it as if one of our friends is suffering, and when they are happy, we are happy for them. I have never felt such an attachment to a set of characters as I did in After Story. Each character plays so well off of each other, including Tomoya and Nagisa, who are without a doubt the greatest couple in anime. In most stories, be it in books, cinema, or television, the romance sub plot is almost always one of two things, the incredibly good-looking and nice alpha-male protagonist gets paired with the incredibly good-looking romantic interest, or the incredibly good-looking and nice but shy protagonist gets paired with the incredibly good-looking romantic interest. In both scenarios, the two characters are always blessed with the perfect personalities and that’s why they go so well together. Tomoya and Nagisa are different. Neither of them have perfect personalities, but both of their personalities are able to compliment the other’s. Tomoya’s hot headedness is able to be cooled by Nagisa’s quiet, strong demeanor. It’s not perfect gets paired with perfect, it’s human finds human.
After I finished Clannad: After Story for the first time, there was only one thing I wanted to do: watch the entire series again, so I did. I know that the word “experience” is overused in film and television, but that’s exactly what After Story is. I don’t cry during movies or anime. I’ve seen Elfen Lied, Old Yeller, My Dog Skip, Grave of the Fireflies, etc. You name it, I’ve seen it and didn’t shed a tear. Clannad: After Story made me cry like a girl multiple times, and the reason it did is because it’s different from anything else I’ve ever seen before in one way. It is able to appeal to the most human parts of you, whether it’s Tomoya’s responsibility as a man or Nagisa’s inherent ability to remain positive for the sake of the people she loves, the one thing that makes this anime so emotionally powerful is the fact that you could see it happening to you.
“After Story” takes place right after the first season of Clannad and chronicles the lives of certain characters from the first season, primarily focusing on Tomoya, his relationship with Nagisa and more importantly, himself. It attempts to bring a sense of realism to its viewer through the joys and hardships that Tomoya goes through and accomplishes that for a while. It also eliminates the harem aspect of season one and adopts a much more serious tone.
The series spans 24-episodes with the first 10-episodes composed of various arcs dealing with other characters and their corresponding dilemmas while the rest of the show focuses on the primary protagonists. This brings up the problem of structure and inconsistency. The initial problem with “After Story” is the characters that are focused on for the first 10 episodes. With the exception of the Misae arc as it LOOSELY connects to the magical component of the show, the other arcs have no direct relevance to the overarching story nor do they serve any function in moving the plot, but are just thrown in there, forcing unnecessary drama. This also causes a huge gap in consistency between the first part of the show and the rest, especially in regards to quality. However, the next few episodes are a pleasure to watch as they highlight Tomoya’s evolution as a character along with his relationship with Nagisa. Structurally, “After Story” fell short, consequently causing a gap in quality and consistency.
Substantially, “After Story” has its share of delightful moments, but those are restricted to a very limited amount of episodes. The story is unoriginal, but imbues concepts and themes that are very real and relatable such as: imploring responsibility and growing up, the innateness of hardships, the importance of relationships, moving on, and many others that are close to home. Yet, “After Story” manages to ruin the very thing it tries to achieve. The show spends a great deal of time trying to evoke “realism” through manifesting the aforementioned themes, but subsequently destroys that with its detachment from reality and deus ex machina resolve. For example, one of the arcs in the earlier part of the series shows how two supposedly bitter and rival gangs end up being bros4lyfe via some [extraneous] female side-character. I may not have a proper grasp on gang psychology, but I’m fairly certain that the odds of something like a dudefest and “understanding” blossoming between two rival gangs are astronomical. This notion of “bonds of friendships overcoming everything” is extremely over exaggerated deeming many of the earlier arcs unrealistic, effectively leaving me in a state of overwhelming ennui.
For a series that tries to emphasize real life, especially while trying to deal with issues such as loss, acceptance, etc., it negates all validity by embracing a faux idealism grounded in wish fulfillment. The realism juxtaposed with magical idealism/wish fulfillment really disintegrates the show by the end. However, that is probably one of the overarching reasons the show is as popular it is, because instead of staying true to its realistic core, it defaults into fantasy, idealism, and wish fulfillment. It’s successful but at the cost of complete contradiction therefore making After Story somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory. It should be noted that there is nothing wrong with having a plot based on supernatural/metaphysical notions, however, when the show is simultaneously trying to bring a strong sense of realism to the front, it becomes counter-productive and contradictory. I can’t even incorporate this under efficient “magical realism” because of how badly the two are handled when looked at as a pair.
Essentially, where “After Story” excels at is deception. It does an excellent job serenading its viewer into a false lull making it seem exponentially better than it actually is by manipulating sympathetic themes and completely over exaggerating them, however, when dissected the story offers nothing unique, let alone life altering. It’s a good effort, but that’s all it is, an effort, that has its comely yet ephemeral moments. Conclusively, “After Story” ends up stumbling within its own narrative and resolution.
“After Story” gets a ridiculous amount of praise for having “human-like” characters, however, the series lacks greatly in terms of balanced characterization. Tomoya is well developed and one can partly empathize with his struggles as he tries to shuffle through the various challenges he encounters. Tomoya’s progression is probably the most realistic part of the show and is fairly well-executed. While the show gives us a dynamic Tomoya, we are left face-palming in deep regret and resentment with the lack of attention given to Nagisa. There is nothing memorable about her; struck with some unknown illness, we often see her washing dishes for like three continuous episodes. I felt no sort of attachment, relation, or even empathy towards Nagisa, rather her lack of progression had the opposite effect. Her static, ingénue personality got unbearable. Oh and she can’t hold her liquor. That just heightened my insouciance even further. The futility of Nagisa truly is a burden on “After Story”.
The over-development of one protagonist and under-development of the other did not have a neutralizing effect, but a detrimental one. Their relationship is the foundation of “After Story” but it remains immature, mainly due to Nagisa’s incomplete characterization. Instead of spending the initial 10 episodes on completely useless characters, the series could have utilized the same time to construct Nagisa into a character with dimension, personality, and purpose. The show spent so much time trying to build this false delusion about how “friendship solves everything” that essential aspects got completely disregarded. Tomoya along with an unmentioned character carry the weight of “After Story”. In hopes of keeping this review spoiler free, only the two main protagonists (Tomoya x Nagisa) are discussed.
There are plenty of supporting/side characters in the show, some making cameos (from season one), others for reasons I have yet to understand. The only notable side characters are Nagisa’s parents who provide some comedic relief (which is the same recycled humor of the first season) but they still manage to maintain their likability.
Don’t hold your breath expecting anything aesthetically orgasmic. The girls are molded with “moe” in mind at all times: Unrealistic character designs for a “realistic” anime. In terms of the actual art, “After Story” does a fairly good job. Bright colors are often used to accompany the magical atmosphere and vibrancy of life that the show is grounded upon. There are instances of visually striking scenes scattered here and there, especially with some of the natural backgrounds. There is always light illuminating from somewhere, even in the darker scenes. The one place where the animation did shine is while depicting the “illusionary” world. The background, colors, and overall depiction of that world is nicely done as it provides a very surreal atmosphere to the viewer. However, don’t expect gorgeous animation akin to something like “5 centimeter”. It’s nice, but nothing exceptional.
“After Story” has a viable soundtrack that fit its purposes. Composed of subtle, soft, and sometimes melancholic piano music, the OST is pleasant, but conventional. It wasn’t something that compelled me to go download or re-listen to. The same applies to the OP/ED selections. They are very imminent and “of-the-moment” in the sense that they are enjoyable and appropriate at the time they played. However, I almost always forwarded the OP and rarely listened to ED. The voice actors are fitting in regards to their respective roles.
Undoubtedly, “After Story” is at the forefront its genre because of its inherent ability to capitalize on emotions and “feels” to the point where many “manly” tears are shed and lives are changed. However, I could not relate; as the anime defied all levels of logic with convenient plot devices, contradicted its own pursuit of realism, over-dramatized situations, wasted 11 episodes of my time with frankly fatuous arcs, and underestimated the importance of complete characterization–emotions no longer mattered. After all, feels and impact are evanescent, quality is what remains.
“After Story” therefore didn’t really leave a strong impact on me nor did I learn some particularly significant lesson about life nor did I put my feels on suicide watch. Nevertheless, the four or five episodes towards the middle/end are truly poignant and laudable—if “After Story” could have maintained that level of quality throughout and refrained from committing some of the aforementioned blunders, the series would have lived up to its hype. Alas, I cannot rate a 24-episode series any higher based on my enjoyment of five episodes. My “After Story” experience is a step away from the norm and that’s the reason I spewed all of this—to offer some solace to those who couldn’t cry those manly tears or indulge in wish fulfillment, while also providing another perspective to those who have yet to watch it that isn’t soaked in sheer “feels”.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Clannad: After Story
2. xxxHOLiC Kei
3. Major S4
4. Nodame Cantabile: Paris-hen
6. Skip Beat!
7. Saiunkoku Monogatari 2nd Season
10. Eyeshield 21