They’re the best Anime that 2010 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, K-On!!, InuYasha: Kanketsu-hen, and more!
10: Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
MAL Score: 8.15
There is no putting it lightly—Tsunayoshi Sawada is just no good. He is clumsy, talentless, and desperately in love with the school idol Kyouko Sasagawa, a girl so completely out of his league. Dubbed “Loser Tsuna” by his classmates, he seems to be the very personification of failure in the guise of a middle-schooler.
Tsuna’s boring life takes an extraordinary twist when he encounters the mysterious Reborn, who happens to be a hitman… and shockingly, a baby! Sent from the strongest Mafia family in Italy, Reborn is assigned the daunting mission of preparing the dull middle schooler to succeed the ninth boss of the notorious Vongola family, who is on the brink of retirement. The dull boy has a grueling road ahead, but with the help of his new criminal affiliates and his peculiar home tutor, perhaps even Loser Tsuna can achieve greatness.
At first glance, Katekyo Hitman Reborn may seem boring. The major flaw of the anime is that it absolutely misleads you, and it completely deceives you into either a) dropping the anime or b) thinking the anime is lame, when it isn’t!
The first 20 episodes may mislead you to drop the anime, just like it misled me, because of its fillerlike episodes. You will most likely tell yourself “Wow, this is really lame. What’s the point of all this?” That’s what I thought, but I gave it a chance. (And I’m SO glad I did. Katekyo Hitman Reborn is now my absolute favorite anime.)
The beginning is kind of slow and different from the rest of the later episodes, because apparently KHR was initially meant to be a gag anime – it was supposed to be something funny and comedic. The anime took a different turn as you progress to episode 20 into something more serious.
The first 20 episodes is merely a /long/ introduction to the anime. It’s worth watching though, because you get to be familiar with all the characters. They are all likeable! If you decide to watch Katekyo Hitman Reborn (and I hope you will!) you should decide whether you like it or not, after 25 episodes or so. It’s only fair, right? All animes have their flaws; and it’s flaw, in my opinion is that they don’t give it a decent start. If you do not have the patience for that, then this anime may not be for you.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn deals with the mafia. Tsuna, the *main* character, is in the next line to be the 10th boss for the Vongola Family~ (one of the many families in the mafia.) Reborn, a hitman, and also a baby (hehe), travels from Italy to Japan to tutor Tsuna to become a worthy boss for the Vongola Family.
From then on, Tsuna’s adventures and what he experiences are endless– but they’re all interesting. Over the course of the anime, Tsuna grows and matures, and becomes really strong; fighting his enemies and getting stronger each fight he experiences. The fights he encounters are well made, and they WILL keep you at the edge of your seat. Tsuna isn’t the only one fighting, though– he also has a “family”– his comrades, if you will, and the battles they encounter are endless.
The art is well made; I don’t think there is much to complain about it.
It isn’t outstandingly good, nor is it horribly bad to a point where you have to shield your eyes. The characters are wonderfully drawn and are all unique in their own ways. The art progressively gets better as you further get into the anime.
The sound is absolutely AMAZING. It deserves an 11/10, as opposed to a 10/10.
I loved all of the openings, and endings– I never once had to skip it; and that’s kind of rare, considering the fact that I’m absolutely picky with my music.
The soundtrack is amazing as well, there is a couple of them for EACH character (well, the main characters, anyways.)
They have a soundtrack for every different scene in the anime, and it is absolutely positively pleasing to the ears. Everything about it is EPIC!
The characters are very well portrayed; you can’t help but love all of them (well most of them anyways.) They change greatly over the course of the anime and it’s worthwhile to watch them grow up.
I love Katekyo Hitman Reborn! I love everything about it; it makes me laugh until I fall off my seat and look like a loser, it makes me sad as they go through their hard times, it makes me happy as they overcome their obstacles– and so on.
I can ramble on forever about how much I love the anime, but I’m going to end now, before I end up typing a ten page paper.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn is an AMAZING anime as I mentioned a billion times (well not really, but let’s pretend.) I highly suggest that you go off and watch it right now, but I can’t tell you what to do. It’s ultimately up to you.
Everything about it is amazing- it’s storyline, (although it may seem boring at first) it’s art, it’s sound, it’s characters– it’s everything!
Tsuna is a generic high school teenager which has the hots for some girl and doesn’t have the balls to do anything about it standard shonen cliché’s. The art is fairly mediocre as well the action scenes look alright for a shonen but everything else looks so bland and generic especially the character designs.
The soundtrack is very forgettable as well nothing really stands out except for the openings they are pretty great l think l like all the reborn openings which is really rare the last one is my least favourite though.
The characters god fucking damn it the characters l think l already talked about tsuna enough he is a standard generic shonen protagonist which wants to protect his friends also he dosen’t want to become a Mafioso even if it runs in his family’s tree his character is just so infuriating the other main characters are fairly forgettable as well only character l really remember fondly was hibari because he didn’t give a shit about anything that happened none of the characters get a huge amount of significant development for a 200 and something episode series.
There is also quite a lot of filler in reborn especially in the future arc with the girls cooking food and going on strike and it all feels quite pointless for a shonen to have it was probably there to save money because l don’t remember the filler scenes going for as long as they did in the manga.
While l do have a lot of complaints with the story and the characters l did enjoy myself with the show it was a fun cheesy shonen just don’t bother with the manga it gets even worse especially with the manga ending which l won’t spoil.
Overall Hitman reborn is a fun generic shonen it does hold a special place in my heart though because it was one of the first shows l ever watched when l first got in to anime.
Just DON’T judge the anime by the first 20 episodes. Watching till 20 I was ready to quit a few times, but i read some good reviews so i kept watching. If you cant stand them at all, DONT skip em! Just be patient. These episodes are to introduce some of the characters, and of course make you laugh a lot!
The only drawback of this anime (personal opinion) is it’s art. Sometimes characters’ and backgrounds’ art aren’t good at all, since the detail is too low.
“So why should i watch it then?” you may ask, the answer is simple: Just give it a try and you will understand why I’m giving it a big 9/10 no matter the drawbacks mntioned above!
English: K-ON! Season 2
MAL Score: 8.16
It is the new year, which means that the senior members of the Light Music Club are now third-years, with Azusa Nakano being the only second-year. The seniors soon realize that Azusa will be the only member left once they graduate and decide to recruit new members. Despite trying many methods of attracting underclassmen—handing out fliers, bringing people into the clubroom, and performing at the welcoming ceremony—there are no signs of anyone that plans to join.
While heading to the clubroom, Azusa overhears Yui Hirasawa say that the club is fine with only five people and that they can do many fun things together. Changing her mind, she decides that they do not need to recruit any members for the time being.
K-On!! revolves around the members of the Light Music Club as they experience their daily high school life. From rehearsing for concerts to just messing around, they are ready to make their last year together an exciting one!
Yes there is much shame to be had in admitting you enjoy watching K-On!!, because who in their right mind would enjoy a plotless moeblob slice-of-life show over say… the testosterone filled battle epic TTGL? Certainly no one would admit to such an atrocious act to their friends face to face, (or anything less than a distance of 100 miles and 2 computer screens for that matter). Hence it becomes extremely hard to be objective when posed with the question, ‘Is K-On!! a good anime?’, because all of our social preservation instincts scream “run away!”, while somewhere deep in the soft side of our hearts, something keeps us rooted to our chair and our eyes on our displays.
(Unless you factor in the anonymity of the internet of course, in which case, proudly declaring that K-On!! is awesome and giving it a 9/10 is A-O-K.)
Jokes aside though, in recent times I feel that too much anime are being categorized based on if they have any moe elements in them. While there’s nothing wrong with giving labeling an anime as containing moe, it unfairly depicts certain anime as catering towards the niche otaku audience and suggests it’s lack of depth and unoriginality, which in many cases simply isn’t true. Take Lucky Star for example. Who’s to say that it was just a mindless moeblob?
Anyway I had a review here somewhere… I would go as far as to say that I love the slice-of-life genre. Honey & Clover (which I maintain is more slice-of-life than romance) and Aria remain firmly at my number 1 and 2 spot. For a great slice-of-life, there are a number of criteria that one needs to fill, but the simplest and most important is that every episode should end with you feeling relaxed and contented with a smile on your face. Does K-On!! achieve this? Yes, absolutely 100% yes.
K-On!! follows a relatively frugal format in terms of storyline. You wouldn’t go into each episode expecting anything dramatic or exhilarating, and for some this may be what they like to call boring. But then again, you wouldn’t open a bag of chips expecting M&Ms and chocolate fudge, so why you go into K-On!! expecting anything even resembling a continuous plot? K-On!!’s style single episodic scenarios work greatly in it’s favor, viewers are never startled with annoying cliffhangers or feel an obligation to keep up with it in fear of missing out on some important plot element. If watching K-On!! becomes a chore (I’m looking at you Bleach manga), then it’s missed the point completely, and in this regard, I give K-On!!’s ‘plot’ two thumbs up.
Despite this though, K-On!! deals with some surprisingly deep themes that would go right over the heads of most casual viewers. One definite improvement from it’s first season is the branching out of the limited focus of club practice (eating cake) to wider array of activities. Granted, most of them are still obvious and predictable, the sort of been-there done-that stories we’ve all seen before, but the shift allowed K-On!! to focus on many different aspects and resort less to what I like to call ‘moe-moments’ in order to fill up the 24 minutes. Lets face it, how many different ways can you eat, drink and procrastinate before it starts getting old? Instead though, from the summer trips to school plays to the air conditioning campaigns, K-On!! moves away from the same-ness of cake/tea/practice/more cake in the first season and closer to true slice-of-life.
K-On!!’s real brilliance shines in the final 6-7 episodes or so, as the girls neared the finale of their school life, the realization that their after school tea times can’t last forever hits them quietly and their are faced with the challenges of change and the future. Though not exactly compelling and dramatic, it nevertheless teaches us that our beloved peaceful times cannot always last forever, which only makes them more precious, not unlike Aria the Origination, but on a smaller scale. K-On!’s main idea was a carefree life of daily cake, tea and music with not a worry in the world, but K-On!!’s step away from that ultimately paid off and turned what would have been just a mediocre moeblob into a great slice-of-life.
I supposed I’d better tackle the moe problem, as it seems to be the main issue dragging K-On!! down. Yes, there is a lot of it. Yes, it gets annoying. Yes, it is overused and detracts from the overall effect. Would K-On!! be better without it? Probably. But then it wouldn’t be K-On!!. Yes you can all come and egg my house afterwards for using such a cliche argument, but there is some wisdom in my words, ladies and gentlemen. As much as we all hate to admit it, moe has become an integral part of the characterization of the K-On!! girls. Yui simply wouldn’t believe the same if she didn’t drool over Azu-nyan or cake, Azu-nyan wouldn’t be the same if she didn’t get embarrassed over every little thing and Mugi simply can’t exist without her air-headed-ness and cheerfulness. Sure, they could do without it, but then they’d be different characters completely. Big Macs would probably taste better with tomato sauce instead of mayo, but then they wouldn’t be Big Macs anymore, if you get what I mean. Even though I make better tasting burgers myself, I wouldn’t want to have Big Macs any other way.
And to be fair, a lot of the moe-hate stem from people who watch 3-4 episodes, drop it, and then go complain about it on forums. As I followed K-On!! throughout it’s season, I was quietly surprised as the moe-moments gradually thinned out little by little. It was as if as the girls grew older, the show slowly matured along with them. Don’t believe me? Well, don’t my word for it, see for yourself. Right now. Open up say episode 2 or 3, count how many moe-moments there are, and then compare them to a later episode, say, 21 or something. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere so take your time… Ok… done? See? Good. Anyway as I was saying, the gradual fade of moe was was subtle and barely noticeable, but for those paying attention it was a nice touch, and went along well with the tone of bittersweetness of the end of their high school lives.
I guess it’ll be wrong to not comment on the music of K-On!! seeing as how that was kinda the whole theme that they were going for. Honestly speaking, it really isn’t half bad. Toyosaki Aki (Yui)’s cute but horrendous out of tune vocals aside, the OP, ED and insert songs generally maintain the high standard of the first season. They’re catchy, and well… very K-On!!-ish. What caught me out though was the meaning they seem to embody. Rather than the lyrics simply being a spontaneous creation (I mean Curry Nochi Rice, what was that all about) they represented something, like Yui’s realization of all the things she took for granted in portrayed in U&I and the girl’s close friendship exemplified through their song for Azusa. In short, K-On!!’s music is great, and that’s all there really is to say about that. (Unless you hate poppy rock, in which case allow me to direct you to the mute button. Seriously, no one’s making you listen to this, get over yourself.)
Guess I better get on to the boring stuff now.
Animation: Nothing to write home about, but the smoothness and crispness is certainly pleasing and relaxing to look at, a very good style for a slice-of-life. Animation during the live performances have definitely improved since the first season, which is a definite plus.
Sound: Insert songs aside, more often than not there’s always some cutesy background music playing to accompany the scene. While this can easily backfire, KyoAni does a very good job of timing, and fitting the mood with the right music, so this section is also a plus.
Voice Acting: I was surprised in the first season how such a amateurish band of seiyuu could bring the characters to life. Another season’s gone by and I’m pleased that the quality of VA as remained consistent. Toyosaki Aki’s performance as Yui deserves a special mention, with interchanging voices between cutesy and hoarse, and the constant (if a bit too frequent) “ehhh?”s, it was really a joy to listen to. I still maintain that she needs singing lessons though.
So ultimately, is K-On!! a good anime? Well let me be perfectly honest. I actually wrote this review as a bet against a friend who maintained that it was impossible to write a review for, and I quote, “a cliched intangible blob of moe”. Now to be fair, he may have been right. Maybe I would have found it much easier to just simply cast K-On!! aside as a generic moe-cash in by KyoAni with half decent characterization, no good plot and overall mediocre anime. But as I instead set out to do the impossible task, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that it was not as impossible as I originally thought. K-On!! is good. Heck, it’s great. It knew exactly what it wanted to be, and set out to achieve it brilliantly (which is more than I can say for Angel Beats). I’d probably go as far as to say it is the best slice-of-life/moe anime of the year. Sure, it probably couldn’t hold a candle to say… Durarara or FMA:Brotherhood, but you wouldn’t compare K-On!! to those anime for the same reason you wouldn’t ride a goat to an equestrian event or wear a miniskirt to a basketball game. Is K-On!! a good slice-of-life/moe? Yes. Then… did I enjoy K-On!!? Yes, immensely. Then… Is K-On!! a good anime? Obvious answer is obvious. So much for generic and mediocrity huh?
I will conclude with this afterthought. I could probably very easily write a long rant about the negatives of vanilla ice cream. I could talk about how bad it is for your health, how expensive and nutrition lacking ice-cream is, or how it is an overrated flavor and too many people eat just because they don’t have the guts to try new and better flavors, or how the ice-cream companies continue to make vanilla ice-cream to cater for those idiotic people, cashing in instead of nobly taking the first step in revolutionizing ice cream flavors. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the fact that I like vanilla ice-cream, and that I enjoy having it every Friday night after dinner as I tune in to watch the weekly action flick on television. If I didn’t enjoy vanilla ice-cream, would that change the fact that it’s a good ice-cream? Of course not. You’d be a magnificent retard for declaring vanilla ice-cream is bad just because you don’t like it, so why do some people do it so much for anime like K-On!!? Vanilla ice-cream exists for people who like vanilla ice-cream, just like K-On!! exists for people who like a good slice-of-life with a bit of (or quite a bit of, whatever floats your boat) moe. If there are people who enjoy it, then that should be all that matters, and I think sometimes we’re too easily forgetful of that fact.
Thanks for reading this wall of text.
For any individual, there always are surprises to be found in the long walk of life. Things that initially appear flavorless and dull, but reveal themselves to be something much more colorful. These are the kinds of experiences that impact a person and make them feel something of significance. They may make them laugh or cry, but in the end these are the kinds of stories that hold a special place in one’s heart. The second season of K-ON is, for me (and for many), this very experience.
K-ON has always been a very polarizing series, one which has a dedicated fanbase and a vocal group of people staunchly asserting their hatred of the anime. Regardless of any personal feelings one might hold towards the massive franchise, it’s impossible to deny the influence that it’s enjoyed these past few years. But unlike so many titles that are successful simply by chance or for manipulating its viewers, KyoAni has painstakingly focused on quality to ensure that K-ON deserves every bit of its fame.
Clearly, this is not a complex story.
This will not challenge your beliefs or ideals, nor give you something to analyze and mull over. It’s first and foremost a character-based slice of life revolving around five young girls and their daily lives within their highschool music club. Though reluctant fans and critics of the genre may find themselves irritated by the idealized and cute nature of the series, there is much more value to be found than a cursory glance at the artwork or synopsis might suggest. K-ON is an anime which all groups of people can enjoy- provided that the notion of ‘cute girls drinking tea’ doesn’t make you want to go outside and blow stuff up.
While comedy plays the most extensive role in the entertainment of this series, a good portion of the fun comes from the characters and their basic interaction with each other. There’s a very interesting dynamic between the main cast and they contrast and play off each other in both comedic and dramatic scenes. The most noteworthy example of this is the relationship between Yui and Azusa: a lazy, ditzy girl alongside her extremely hardworking and strict junior. While there isn’t anything especially unique or complex to be found at first, it’s a relationship that eventually develops into one that feels genuinely endearing. There are no melodramatic arguments between the two, nor is there only a single moment where their feelings come to light.
Surprisingly, the resulting character development does not subvert this dynamic but instead expands upon it. Azusa still finds herself feeling out-of-place and anxious in regards to the silly behavior of her seniors, while Yui also struggles to take her musicianship more seriously and come across as a figure that Azusa can rely on. A heavy contrast between the two exists as a result, which allows them to gain insight and grow from each other in a way that feels meaningful, while still retaining the inherent nature of their personalities. It’s a dynamic that the series focuses on and highlights, and thankfully this aspect is treated with the care that it truly deserves.
Of course, K-ON focuses heavily on the other members of the club as well – five girls of very different lifestyles and backgrounds coming together and becoming close and inseparable friends. Unlike many slice of life series, this isn’t an immediate growth between the cast (sans the long friendship between Ritsu and Mio), but rather a gradual one that builds from each episode. Rather than focus on one specific character each episode, the series is often focused more on their time together as a group. The girls all feel like human beings with personality and purpose, rather than the faceless archetypes that have become a staple of many anime titles. As a result, it becomes very easy to grow attached to the characters and feel like you’re along with them for the ride, rather than simply being a mere spectator.
For an anime to immerse its viewers to such a level – to allow them to feel like they are there with the cast, is a very special thing. It serves not only to make each moment more meaningful, but to make the experience feel very personal as well. When the tale of the five girls is over, you may find yourself feeling like something important inside of you is now missing. If all the tea and cake leaves you in doubt, this will be the sign of something more.
The most prevalent theme within the series is that of growing up. They change, they adapt, and they learn to accept their new situation. As graduation draws closer for four of the five girls they deal with the complications of college entrance exams, career choices, and leaving their highschool life behind. Surprisingly, this has the biggest impact not on these characters themselves, but on their junior, Azusa, who feels discontent and uneasy about her friends moving on before her. She struggles with the prospect of managing the club by herself and recruiting new members for after the other girls graduate, an issue that is touched upon many times and eventually resolved towards the end of the series.
It’s this theme which leads to a wide variety of emotional and heartwarming moments in the story. Two preeminent examples include the girls performing in front of the school for a final time and having a tearful realization after, and a final scene where the four girls graduate and play a bittersweet farewell song in the club room for a crying Azusa. I am not ashamed to admit that these two scenes made me tear up.
Which brings up an interesting point, because if the series were so focused on the girls eating cake and doing nothing each episode, would these kinds of scenes exist in the first place? No. It almost feels like a direct contradiction to the claims of the anime being focused on nothing more than the cuteness of the characters, and while it’s impossible to deny its presence in the story, it’s quite clear that this is not what the anime is defined by. This is what sets K-ON apart from many of its competitors: being an anime that is not only cute and entertaining, but one that carries emotional impact as well.
It should also be noted that while the manga is not by any means bad, KyoAni took Kakifly’s very simplistic 4-koma and added an enormous amount of detail to it, taking important plot elements that only existed in a passing line or panel from the manga. The vast majority of the character development and emotional scenes are the work of KyoAni and the talented staff behind the anime, and for taking liberties and improving upon the manga in so many ways they deserve to be applauded and commended. There’s an adage about how adaptations are always inferior to the source material, but this is one example that proves it’s not always so.
But then, where would the series be without the stunning production values that KyoAni is so well known for?
This is luckily an aspect that is not glanced over or given second thought, and the visuals in K-ON are something that stand out as being absolutely stellar as a result. Almost everything about the characters is fluid and detailed, with movements looking and feeling very much lifelike. Not only do the mouth and limbs move like in most anime, but the hair will move along with the body, the clothes will furrow and crease realistically to the character’s movements, and their eyebrows and facial shape will accentuate their expression. While the girls seldom practice or play music, the scenes where they do play are beautifully animated and show detail that musicians and general viewers will appreciate. It’s a gorgeous anime to look at and it really reflects the effort that KyoAni put into the series.
Music itself is much more varied than in the first season, with several times more unique songs that the girls perform together as a band and during the opening and ending sequences. These songs are all performed by the actors behind each character, and, while they certainly aren’t amazing pieces of music, they fit perfectly with the tone of the anime and with the musical talent of the girls. They are not professional musicians but rather highschool girls that play and practice for fun, which makes the silly songs that they perform seem all the more realistic and fitting. Of further note is the background music, which is simplistic and sets the atmosphere for each scene very well.
The second season is a bit of a departure from its predecessor, though, in the sense that the music is not highlighted or given nearly as much focus as it had before. This isn’t an anime about music but an anime about a group of friends that happen to play music. They practice and play, discuss musical terminology, and shop for new gear, but this serves more as an aspect of their daily lives rather than something they are invariably focusing on and thinking about. There’s definitely enough here to satisfy accomplished and aspiring musicians alike, but it is not the focal point. However, when the series does focus on its musical performances it does a fantastic job, hitting on both the entertainment and emotional level. “U & I” is a great example of this, a song written by Yui to show thanks for her sister in a way that she could never express without music.
In the end, K-ON is not some form of “masterpiece” or its synonyms. It would be very difficult to find any anime that can genuinely meet that criteria. Rather, K-ON is an exemplary title that showcases what the best of anime really has to offer, both within its genre and universally. It’s a title which shows us that a complex plot and deep themes are not required for an anime to truly resonate.
K-ON may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but for the girls of Sakuragaoka High School, it is their tea party.
So where do i start? K-On, initially a, as many people call it, “fluffy slice of life” depiction turned from that into what I would personally call a coming of age story, one in which each character is thoroughly explored and developed well, and one in which you see them mature since the end of Season 1. But the key here is that kyo-ani didn’t overdo it either. So here is my breakdown:
Story (8/10): To be fair, people will dispute me, but in K-On!!, the story is something we all live through in our own realities. When watching this Anime, it reminded me of my days in High School, a place where you not only experienced new opportunities, but grew in maturity, and most importantly, developed memories and friendships that would transcend the years themselves. At first, the tone was lulled, but Im not afraid to say that by the end, the way the story developed made me reminisce my final days, and I too got caught in the emotional moments before the end of the Season. I didn’t want it to end, but sometimes, thats what makes the best endings, because you know it ended so wonderfully, and that emotionally you were satisfied. Clannad (After-Story), Kanon, Air, Angel Beats! and now K-On!…Kyo-Ani, you have successfully reeled me in again.
Art (10/10): Has K-On!! improved since the first season? All you need to do is look at the opening theme songs and compare the artwork. Brighter, crisper, smoother, and especially with the live-action scenes, more atmospheric, my eyes were bedazzled by what Kyo-Ani had done, and one can tell they knew how to get their moneys worth from the animation software. Especially with a certain scene in Episode 10 (I think), It was beautiful.
Sound (10/10): Absolutely astounding, thats all I can say. Every time a new song played, whether it was the first few minutes of Episode 1, the new Op of GO! GO! Maniac or Utauyo! Miracle or even something as beautiful as U&I or Tenshi ni Fureta yo, nothing disappointed me, I even laughed a little at the lyrics. I remember disliking Yuis voice initially as well, but oh damn, has it grown on me as time gone on, and even Death Devils songs have revived my love for Japanese speed metal. Either way, the songs make up just another reason why I didn’t want this season to end, it reminded me of my days on a Fender Bass or my Grand Piano, the two instruments I consider my life and soul.
Character Development (9.5/10): The fact that I almost cried at the end of the final few episodes are enough to justify my personal score, because it felt like losing something special to me when i realised the anime was ending so soon, and the manga as well (New manga apparently announced…
8: InuYasha: Kanketsu-hen
English: InuYasha: The Final Act
Japanese: 犬夜叉 完結編
MAL Score: 8.21
Thwarted again by Naraku, Inuyasha, Kagome Higurashi, and their friends must continue their hunt for the few remaining Shikon Jewel shards, lest they fully form into a corrupted jewel at the hands of Naraku. But Naraku has plans of his own to acquire them, and will destroy anyone and anything standing in his way—even his own underlings.
The persistent, unyielding danger posed by Naraku forces Sango and Miroku to decide what is most important to them—each other or their duty in battle. Meanwhile, Inuyasha must decide whether his heart lies with Kikyou or Kagome, before fate decides for him. Amid the race to find the shards, Inuyasha and his brother Sesshoumaru must also resolve their feud and cooperate for their final confrontation with Naraku, as it is a battle they must win in order to put a stop to his evil and cruelty once and for all.
The art as always was clean and enjoyable. But the development of the characters was spectacular! I am so glad that the ending was the way it was. What I hoped for all along.
So glad I watched it and highly recommend to others as well!
To a man who completely watched every single Inuyasha episode known to man, I want to point out that this here is one of the most miraculous things ever.
Story – The story takes wherever the last story picked of. I found this to be much better than the 167 episodes the original one took place. The psychological impact of the story stunned me to no end, making me marathon this over and over again. Truly amazing. 10/10
Characters – Out of all the characters in this series, Kagome evolved the most. Not to say that the others stayed the same, but Kagome. She played the most significant role and completely carried the show. Unfortunately, the way Inuyasha changed was completely irrelevant in any standard and should not be mentioned again, overall best character development. 10/10
Sound – You may not realize it, but the dub for this show was gorgeous. You could say that this is dubbing gone right. It made the show feel very realistic and logical in every aspect of the story. Don’t forget the OST. Truly just gorgeous. I spent $20 downloading the Inuyasha OST and not once regretting it. 10/10
Art – The art style for this was pretty astounding, feeling refined like my new born child. He was born yesterday April 4, 2014 at 12:27 AM while I was finishing up this show. 10/10
Enjoyment – Disregarding what ever my wife says about this show, it will always be 1st in my life. 10/10
Overall – This was a masterpiece of a show that i would never recommend the first season to. It was glorious in all aspects. In the honor I gave my son the middle name of InuYasha 10/10
Im out and never forgot to blaze it.
Story (10) Definitely one of the more in-depth storylines in anime. The show takes you back in time, well it literally does each time Kagome goes through her family’s well, to see peoples’ pasts to see how everyone is connected to each other. The story picks up where the first season ended, Inuyasha and company are going after Naraku to end his evil in their world. This is the main story, but things that weren’t taken care of in the first season were finally given a resting place. What I mean by this is things like “What happened to Inuyasha-Kagome-Kikyou love triangle?!?” are finally resolved and definite.
Something that I would like to point out is the pacing of this continuation series. This 26 episode ending is NOT rushed, everything is greatly paced.
Art (8) A definite improvement in animation, but not to the extent that it is extremely noticeable. The animation style is kept the same, which is great because I believe that having the same character animation is crucial in the overall enjoyment of the anime. An example for this would be the Minami-ke series where all 4 seasons are animated differently because they were made in 4 different studios. It had an obvious effect to many of the views, including myself. Animation is smooth and attractive, yet not too flashy.
Sound (10) Music in the InuYasha series have always been great! Song likes Dearest – Ayume Hamasaki, Every Heart – Boa, Fukai Mori – Do As Infinity, and Rakuen – Do As Infinity, are great examples of the awesome music. Music is incorporated into the anime well with the timing of it, and also the selection of music they use. In fact, my first spine-chilling experience while watching anime came from this show. It was due to the mix of what was happening in the anime and the song that came with it. When I think of great music in anime I think of InuYasha immediately.
Character (10) The complex relationship between Inuyasha, Kagome, and Kikyou is one of the most engaging subjects of anime that I have ever seen. The anime does a great job in taking time with character development. You do not have to worry about not understanding why things happen, because the anime explains, or has explained, why. The characters are original, that is what I love about them. I love that they all have pasts, especially Inuyasha and Kikyou. It adds so much more depth to the story. Another thing I love about the characters is the timing of their actions. They are themselves when nothing is going on, and they serious, but still themselves, when something is happening. They have dimension.
Enjoyment (9) Just an absolutely fitting ending to a great series. It was well made, and while typing that I just told myself I wish I could watch this for the first time again.
Overall (9) An extremely high 9 rating in my books. Recommend it to anyone, especially to those that are interested in action, romance, drama, and some comedy.
MAL Score: 8.21
As a child, Moritaka Mashiro dreamt of becoming a mangaka, just like his childhood hero and uncle, Tarou Kawaguchi, creator of a popular gag manga. But when tragedy strikes, he gives up on his dream and spends his middle school days studying, aiming to become a salaryman instead.
One day, his classmate Akito Takagi, the school’s top student and aspiring writer, notices the detailed drawings in Moritaka’s notebook. Seeing the vast potential of his artistic talent, Akito approaches Moritaka, proposing that they become mangaka together. After much convincing, Moritaka realizes that if he is able to create a popular manga series, he may be able to get the girl he has a crush on, Miho Azuki, to take part in the anime adaptation as a voice actor. Thus the pair begins creating manga under the pen name Muto Ashirogi, hoping to become the greatest mangaka in Japan, the likes of which no one has ever seen.
The true meaning of the title was never revealed, but most speculators believe it’s short for ‘BAKUchi MANga.’ (Gambling Manga). It is a simple tale of two middle school guys setting out to become professional manga artists. The story progresses like any other sports or music anime, where ordinary guys aim for the top, facing many challenges and rivals on the way. However, I consider this to be the greatest shounen/seishun (coming of age) genre anime I have ever encountered, because it analyzes what makes a manga good in a coherent way, and more importantly, it practices what it preaches.
This is a review by EIGHTHSin, and contains many spoilers. Read it at your own risk.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are SEVEN major steps to manga creation – Name, under-sketch, inking, filling, effects, screen tone, and whiteout. I’m no expert in manga drawing, but with this series being a manga about manga (which actually got serialized), I have no doubt this is correct. Of course, this anime alone is not nearly enough to teach you about how to draw manga, but it is quite enough to entertain a casual viewer like me. The show also emphasizes the difficulty of the process, that one cannot hope to succeed half-heartedly.
As the character mentioned in the first episode, “Manga is the Japanese cultural heritage popular across the globe.”
This NHK series is extremely educational not only in introducing the process of manga creation, it also debates many other aspects of mang such as: how things work in a weekly manga publisher; the selection process; how artist stay serialized; the importance of target demographics; and argues how things ought to be in the industry. In addition, famous classic and current manga series and their authors are mentioned throughout this series without alteration of any sort, which functions as a masterpiece suggestion for new manga readers. It even directly quotes them, re-enacts DBZ “fusion”, and uses quirks like Naruto’s “-dattebayo”. I take this to be a stamp of approval from those authors, and also to pressure themselves to create a masterpiece worthy of mentioning those names. The show uses real-life examples as case studies to explain its theories.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are SIX key elements to a successful shounen manga – A world that pulls the readers in, clear reason why protagonists are fighting, battles where it’s easy to tell what’s happening, equally or even more intriguing antagonist, a cute heroine, and some laughs or tears.
The first episode had an extremely strong pull – The tested and tried “average joe whose life changed by a trigger event”, in this case, Takagi’s request to be a partner. The turn of events leads to a promise of marriage upon realization of dreams, which serves as the clear reason why the protagonist wants to get his manga serialized, which is the first step to getting an anime series.
The story then goes on to show them making manga, meeting their ‘opponents’ in manga contests, and their manga are actually shown… even with a clear ranking measurements to determine a winner – easy to tell what’s happening in the battle.
Then, there is Niizuma Eiji, the prodigy archrival of the protagonists, who is extremely intriguing, and happens to follow the “Introduce an enemy character, he’s even stronger than protagonists, but turns out to be an ally” as mentioned during the ‘CROW’ production.
There’s the cute heroine in Azuki, and the show has many comedy and tear-jerker moments to keep the audience interested throughout the series.
I find it interesting that the shows makes many observations that we probably don’t consciously realize when casually reading manga, and even more interesting that if we pay close attention, almost EVERY observations of a successful manga made in this series are actually reflected in the series itself. In fact, it was also mentioned that most shounen protagonists wield swords, and if you think about it, the protagonists in this show brandish their pens in “battle”.
The protagonists make FIVE manga series in the first anime series – ‘The Two Earths’, ‘A Millionth of’, ‘The World Runs on Money and Wits’, ‘Angel Days’, and ‘Quasi-Detective TRAP’.
‘The Two Earths’ is their very first manga. It serves as introduction to the manga creation process.
‘A Millionth of’ shows the difficulty of getting a prize in manga contests, and introduction of various styles of manga.
‘The World Runs on Money and Wits’ functions as their confidence booster, as well as their gateway to future successes.
‘Angel Days’ is used to show the qualities of typical shounen manga, and the importance of choosing manga that fits each author style.
Finally, ‘Quasi-Detective TRAP’ is their success of the series, and its production process emphasizes the bond and friendship between the two main characters.
The story follows the standard shounen format with many seishun elements. The good guys work hard to realize their dreams while encountering one obstacle after another. After clearing each obstacle, they “level up” by becoming better artists and attain better understanding of themselves. Like all seishun sports or music anime, there are consistent themes of awkward youth love, challenges of being a student, and the importance of friendship.
The protagonists set FOUR years as their goal for their anime debut. This is the prime reason why Mashiro is always in such a rush to make manga, and frequently shows his impatience.
The main characters in this series are extremely human, and they act according to their own desires to make their dreams come true.
Takagi has the ambition of becoming rich and famous, and he gave up the “mainstream” path of elites (get good grades to get into a prestigious university) for his love of manga and became a true “gambler”.
Azuki follows her dream of becoming a seiyuu and moves to Tokyo, while stubbornly limits interaction with Mashiro to motivate both herself and Mashiro.
Miyoshi truly acts on her desires, and can’t help but reveal secrets of others and butting into their business.
Niizuma also acting on his desires, but in a different way, drawing what he pleases and doesn’t care what others think about him.
Hattori sees promise in Ashirogi, and does everything, even some “dirty adult tricks” to make them succeed.
What I’m trying to get at, is that the characters are interesting, and they “move on their own” according to their desires. I have to say, they are *too* human at times, and causes their actions and motivations to detach from reality, but as a fantasy and dreams shounen series, this is totally acceptable.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are THREE requirements for a successful mangaka – Conceit (Confidence), Effort, and Luck.
One of the major themes in the series is to have “Confidence” in yourself to follow your dream.
To follow that dream, the protagonists put a lot of “Effort” into manga, sacrificing sleep, school, and even time for girls in order to become successful.
Further more, “Luck” is prevalent in this series. However, it remains realistic due to many setbacks they face, just as they would in the harsh reality. The protagonists consists of a relative of a mangaka and a guy who’s getting the best grades in school yet interested in manga. Right off the bat, they have been dealt pocket aces as “gamblers”. Still, they don’t become an overnight success. It took a lot of sacrifices and effort, and after 5 manga series, they finally made it to an authentic weekly magazine.
This series isn’t just a fairy tale. It successfully shows the difficulty of making a living with manga, and shows the harsh reality that only the most talented *and* hardworking succeed. They were dealt another lucky card in getting Hattori as the editor, who truly cares about the authors and preciously “raises” them as mangaka.
As a shounen manga, a convenient setting is actually preferred. The key is how realistic the story develops given the fantasy-filled premise.
I especially loved a subtle snippet of reality in Mashiro’s family. Where the breadwinner and the eldest of the family call the shots in home, like when father and grandpa straight up shut off the mother in roundabout ways, with the “Decision-making process” in his home and “Please get me seconds (refill my bowl)” by grandpa. It’s outdated and somewhat sexist, but the harsh reality in Japanese culture.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are TWO types of successful mangaka – “The Genius-Type”, and “The Calculating-Type”.
The anonymous author of this series is the same as that of ‘Death Note’ series, and it is also clear in this series that the storyteller is the “Calculating-Type” just like the protagonists. In other words, he “calculates the laughs and tears in a way that doesn’t seem to be calculated, through calculation.” Obviously, this is not going to work on everyone, so we will all have different opinion, but the story is extremely well-constructed, and the anime direction presented the plot in very interesting ways. It’s easy to sympathize with the characters.
I believe the ONE single most important theme in ‘Bakuman.’ is the love for manga. Both protagonist and antagonists in this series really have passion for manga. It really shows how much love the author has for this series, and manga in general.
The series points out flaws in Shounen Jump (“Shounen Jack” in series), the only real-life title altered in the anime. The show communicates to producers in the real life through its characters.
For example, there shouldn’t be any politics in manga selection, like rejecting student submission or favoring popular authors – “Anything interesting will be published.”
The potential incompetence of editors, in their heavy reliance of survey to determine which series gets cut off – “Manga written for votes rather than true quality.”
The need for manga to have a strong pull early due to selection process of using names of first three weeks and the threat of cancellation due to votes – “The lack of series that slowly draws the audience in, and consequently series being approved without long-term prospects.”
Manga published in order of popularity – “Creates unfairness for new and aspring authors.”
How audience like stereotypical stuff that stifles creativity – “All popular series have swords”
The young mangaka depicted in this series have hinted how they wanted to change Shounen Jack when they get popular. Perhaps the author of ‘Bakuman.’ wanted to do the same with this show as well.
‘Bakuman.’ is the “mainstream among mainstreams” in terms of shounen anime, but has the dreams, the inspiration, the depth, the entertainment value, and of course, the laughs and tears unmatched by any other. It also has the uniqueness in being a manga about manga and an anime about anime. In terms of contribution to the industry, this easily ranks among the most significant series to be aired in this century so far, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
I’ll start by giving credit where credit is due. This anime is an AMAZING look into the manga industry and the lives of mangaka. By the end of the show, I felt like I knew how to create a manga of my very own and it told me how I too could get it published in a weekly magazine. It also told me why I wouldn’t ever want do that in a million years. Being a mangaka is hard, and Bakuman shows us that in spades. It cleverly uses Ashirogi Muto’s emotions to give a clear understanding of how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. That’s certainly where this anime shines the most. So, what’s wrong with it? Well…
Although Bakuman uses Ashirogi Muto well in some cases, it completely fails at making them likable in the slightest. Mashiro is an arrogant love struck teenager who has a crush on some girl he’s barely ever made any interactions with, and Takagi is just the plain boring smart yet doesn’t act smart kind of character. I’m sorry if I’m being a little harsh, but in an anime that tries to show a realistic representation of the challenges in the manga industry, making the main characters get away with absolutely everything that would probably get them fired just from the power of pure arrogance and a tad bit of plot-armour just doesn’t sit well with me. And that’s not even talking about the most forced romance in anime history.
Mashiro decides his entire future based off of a promise he made to girl he had a slight crush on. That’s would be pretty fine, if not still a bit stupid, if it weren’t for the fact that they drag out this completely uninteresting romance for the ENTIRE SERIES. And they only ever talk directly about 3 times. 3 times! The show rubs it off as being their own way of expressing love or some shit like that, but it was just painful to watch from start to finish.
Not all the characters are bad. Whilst most of the best ones don’t really show up that much till season 2, Niizuma Eiji is by far the best character in this show. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say that he’s fun to watch every time he shows up on screen and his passion for manga makes you route for him all the way.
Overall, I can see the appeal of this anime. I really can. But the characters and story were just so uninteresting for the most part that I cant bring myself to like this anime. If what I just told you puts you off watching this in anyway, then stay clear. There’s much better anime out there.
You’re still probably going to end up watching it after reading the other reviews anyway, aren’t you?
Oh, and the music isn’t that memorable. I forgot that part.
NOTE: This review covers all 75 episodes of Bakuman.
Contains Minor Spoilers
If I could describe the story of Bakuman in one sentence it would be something like this: Bakuman is a tale about two best friends, Mashiro Moritaka and Tagaki Akito who want to become Japan’s greatest mangakas. Their journey is long and filled with laughter, cheers, tears, courage and romance. The personal lives of our mangakas contain a lot of twists and drama which makes the story more engaging than one would expect. The story is engrossing and so well written that I wish some of the stories and ideas that the characters come up with for their manga were real.
One word, beautiful. Obata Takeshi is an extremely talented artist. His art matches perfectly with the uplifting story and bright atmosphere of Bakuman. Character designs are drawn very realistically however from time to time designs are exaggerated for slapstick purposes, and it actually manages to be extremely funny. The backgrounds are extremely detailed, from the art pens and work desks to the manga posters spread throughout the series. You can even see Mashiro’s writer’s bump callus from drawing so much. It’s amazing how Obata manages to come up with different art styles for the different manga in the series. Whether it’s dark, gloomy and serious or bubbly and flashy, the art always manages to be entertaining and eye catching.
I enjoyed every single song used in the show, particularly “Blue Bird” by Kobukuro and “Moshimo no Hashi” by nano.RIPE. The voice acting was top notch. All the seiyuus did a fantastic job, especially Morita Masakazu and Okamoto Nobuhiko, who were hilarious and constantly had me rolling on the floor.
Bakuman’s greatest strength lies not in its story, but in its characters. Mashiro and Takagi are fantastic leads that fit the theme of the story perfectly because through them we see the struggles mangakas go through in order to get serialized and the constant battle to keep on being serialized. Both of them care for one another deeply and through ups and downs, together they always keep pushing forward. The supporting cast is one of the most likeable and funniest I’ve ever seen. From the fellow mangakas to the editors everyone felt like they had a purpose and helped contribute to the story. I loved every single character however I felt Niizuma Eiji and Hiramaru Kazuya stood out above the rest. They were eccentric, funny and just plain damn fun to watch. And like I said previously, Morita Masakazu and Okamoto Nobuhiko portrayed the characters perfectly.
Bakuman is one my all time favourite anime. It’s not philosophical, cynical, depressing or about the downfall of humanity. It’s not the anime to end all anime. I just love it because it was so fun to watch. I forgot about my problems for 75 episodes and that’s why I watch anime, to have fun. A great story, beautiful art, a catchy soundtrack and a well developed cast of characters, please give this one a try.
6: Nodame Cantabile: Finale
Japanese: のだめカンタービレ フィナーレ
MAL Score: 8.25
Shinichi Chiaki is quickly making a name for himself as the principal conductor of the revitalized Roux-Marlet Orchestra, and Megumi “Nodame” Noda has made leaps and bounds as a pianist at the Conservatoire de Paris. However, tensions mount between the two as Nodame feels left behind by Chiaki’s growing success and his close friendship with legendary piano prodigy Rui Son. Disregarding her teacher Professor Charles Auclair’s advice, Nodame enters another piano competition in an attempt to jumpstart her own performance career.
Meanwhile, those around Chiaki and Nodame are at their own crossroads. Rui begins to doubt herself after hearing Nodame’s playing and being denied tutelage from Auclair; Maestro Franz von Stresemann faces the reality of his mortality; pianists Yunlong Li and Tatiana Vishneva feverishly prepare for a competition, while the latter also struggles with her growing feelings for oboist and fellow student Yasunori Kuroki.
As Chiaki, Nodame, and their friends continue on their respective journeys, they must not only strive to stay true to themselves, but also remember where it all started.
Sometimes though, the difference between the two is very small….
So, Nodame Cantabile is finally over, and with it we say our collective goodbyes, gyabos and mukyas to the odd couple of the classical world. The aptly named “Finale” follows directly on from Paris Chapter, and not much has changed since the end of the second series. Chiaki is still conducting the Marlet orchestra, and they are progressively getting better thanks to him and the concert master. Nodame is also improving thanks to her lessons with Professor Auclair, however she feels that Chiaki is drifting further away from her.
The one thing that has always surprised me about the entirety of Nodame Cantabile is how closely the anime tries to follow the manga, however while the majority of the tale is transposed extremely well, there are occasions where the adaptation only touches on the manga storyline. For the most part the plot in Finale flows rather well and, as with the rest of the series, the music allows one to appreciate the story in a manner that simply isn’t possible in the manga. However, if one has read the manga then there may be some confusing occurences in the story, one example of this being the absence/alteration of a huge chunk of storyline from the final two episodes.
For many people the changes in the anime won’t be an issue, regardless of whether they’ve read the manga or not. The story in either form is enjoyable, and while the manga may contain more plot,there are elements of the anime adaptation that more than maks up for the changes.
In terms of design and animation, Finale is very much in the mould of the first two series, something which should come as no surprise since J.C. Staff are responsible for the trilogy (and OVAs of course). Character designs are just as eclectic as they were before, and the European settings are just as good as they were in Paris Chapter. Animation is pretty much on par with the previous series as well, including the dreaded 3D fingers playing the instruments (something which has long divided opinion since it’s not the best CG in anime, but is reasonably accurate in its usage). I didn’t mind them personally, however they do interrupt the flow of the story a little (while you pause to chuckle at how robotic they are that is).
The star of the show though, as any fan of the series will know, is the music. While Finale may not be as heavy with the classical pieces on display as previous outings, there is enough here to enhance the story and add vibrancy to the series. One thing that I was pleased to hear was the more subtle thematic music used in the series, and many scenes were made without any accompaniment, something which is laudable given the series is top-filled already.
In addition to the quality of music, the acting is also very good throughout the show, but given that the cast is pretty much that of Paris Chapter, this should be no surprise. Seki Tomokazu is in fine form as Chiaki, while Kawasumi Ayako continues to bring out Nodame’s oddness and eccentricity.
As far as the characters go, this is probably the weakest of the three series for Nodame and Chiaki. While the cast generally receive a decent amount of development, the overall quality seems a little rushed, especially in the last two episodes. It would have been better if Finale was a 12 or 13 episode series as the bits that have been left out of the manga shed a new light on Chiaki’s feelings for Nodame, something that has been hurried in the anime version.
That said, those who have only watched the anime will probably find the characters to be pretty good overall.
Finale is a nice way to end the series as it continues to use the tried and tested formula of the first two seasons – mixing slapstick comedy with classical music. While the show does have some niggling issues that could have been resolved, these shouldn’t really cause any major problems with one’s enjoyment of the series, even if one has read the manga.
On the whole Nodame Cantabile: Finale is a good addition to the franchise, but not a great one. The somewhat rushed development of the characters during the latter half of the series may annoy some people (those who’ve read the manga for example), however those who love the show in its entirety will probably be happy enough with the results.
As it is, this is an enjoyable show that rounds off the franchise in a fairly pleasing manner, and if anyone is sad about the series ending, well, the encore has already started.
Story: Nodame Cantabile Finale story follows up 2nd season as Nodame and Chiaki struggles between work and their relationship. Meeting people and playing wonderful music with well known musicians from all over the world. As Nodame is becoming better and more popular its time for chiaki to struggle the same way as Nodame struggled in the past.
Art: Calming and beautiful.
Sound: Beautiful classical music… which isn’t so popular nowadays but still captures you into the story of the song.
Characters: All kinds of characters from 1st season till 3rd season developing really nicely , changing characters and everything else.
Enjoyment:Really Really enjoyable anime especially for music lovers … because you can hear all kinds of classical music. Without music there is an awesome storyline which starts funny in 1st season and gets more serious over next 2 seasons in 3rd season it concludes and ends without any regrets.
Overall: A perfect anime , calming , funny and romantic without leaving u any regrets.
~~ This is based on my experience after watching S1,S2 + S3 ~~
Where do I begin? Ah. Nodame Cantabile is one of my favourite romance series and that being said, I do watch a lot of romance anime and although I do love the typical ‘love at first sight’ sort of thing – let’s face it. It doesn’t always happen in real life and Nodame Cantabile shows love in a realistic setting.
I personally love the “find someone who makes you a better you” type of romance because a good partner will always make you a better type of you and in Chiaki x Nodame – it was beautiful. We see the two of them mature as they move along from one stage to another, facing difficulties and learning to accept one another’s flaws. It takes a lot of work and that’s reality. And I love romance animes when it’s real.
Love is a really funny thing. It’s really difficult to interpret but I always find that small things really do matter. It’s not about the big things that couples have to do – it’s the small things that people normally don’t really care about.
For example, Chiaki constantly taking care of Nodame – cooking for her, cleaning her room and laundry, etc
That to me, is love at its simplest form.
If you enjoy a series filled with funny characters, amazing classical music and slowly developed romance – then this is definitely the show for you.
It’s really a hidden gem.
5: Major S6
Japanese: メジャー 第6シリーズ
MAL Score: 8.35
The intense Baseball World Cup has reached its conclusion. Gorou Honda has regained his passion for baseball and is once again back in full gear. He has secured a team position with the Hornets and has travelled back to America to prepare for his spectacular debut as a Major League pitcher.
However, Gorou encounters a sudden series of unexpected issues and devastating events follow, crushing his motivation and potentially reducing the baseball career that he has worked tirelessly to maintain into crumbs. In the final season of Major, Gorou must yet again overcome immense hardship in order to save his baseball career. This time there is no simple solution, as the problem is deeply rooted within his own mind…
And im not just talking about this season, but the show as a whole. It starts of with a bang, like these kind of animes usually do. With a tragedy that leads a talented individual to pursue his dream. In this case, to be the best baseball pitcher in the world. But most of all, just play baseball.
You follow Goro Shigeno/Honda through some rough years of his life. Battling with both injuries, tragedies and strong opponents. And they always get stronger, and the wall to climb always gets higher. And it’s truly, an epic journey. There are some rough paths from little league to major league. But you quickly learn that there is no shortcut to success.
So, this anime follows a storyline pattern that is proven successful by many shows before. And then it’s no suprise when i tell you, i think its brilliant. They start of with a little kid idolizing his father. But when his father falls victim to a freak accident, he starts to rely on himself. And grows to be, the very talented, hotheaded and cocky main character. With one goal, to get stronger.
The main character is very important in this series, more so than some of the other animes i have watched. Of course, all animes revolves around 1 or more main characters, but this series i feel is a little bit different. I can’t put my finger on it, but they way they have done the “storytelling”, makes me care more for this character than in any other anime. Maybe with the exception of Hajime no Ippo. Which is the only show i can compare it with, mainly because of the storytelling and the colorful characters.
So, i have followed Goro though fire and ice, thick and thin, blood and sweat.
And i have to be honest, i love him. I love his sincerity, his innocence and childish but cocky behaviour. His humour, his guts, his talent, his heart and his soul. And that’s basically what this show is about.
What more do you need?
Pretty original, some signs of the shounen pattern, but still. It have turned it up a notch and spiced it further than anyone before them.
The first two seasons were decent. But from there the quality got alot better along the lines, and the last season is magnificent.
Realistic sound, alot of variation in the different scenarios. It’s impressive in every way, and i can’t recall that i have every noticed a flaw.
This show gets top score on character, but not just because of the main character. You meet alot of interesting characters when you follow Goro, and each and one of them are unique. Of course, some of them are similar to characters in other animes. But if you add all the characters up, they deserve top score. No doubt.
This show captures the nervous moment when you can decide a game, with one throw/pitch. And does it brilliantly. But the humour, the characters and the story are marvelous. I almost cried when i was finished with the last episode, and it left me with that empty hole in your heart. The feeling you usually get when you miss something and you want more.
That means i enjoyed it alot, and it deserves full score
No suprise here.
When you get that empty feeling like i just wrote about. That’s a pretty good indication that this anime was superb.
So, what can i say. It’s been almost three months since i finished this anime, and the emptiness in my heart is still there.
You want any more reasons to watch this?
Note: This review is all about all the seasons of Major including its OVAs and Movies
Major is somewhat my favorite sports anime of all time. The anime is all about the struggles of Goro Shigeno, an avid baseball player, who wants to join the Majors. Baseball is actually my least favorite sport for the reason it is tedious but somehow Major makes it look fun.
Major isn’t only about Baseball but it is also about Goro’s desires and struggles in his life. As Major marches onward, Goro grows physically and mentally. Major is different from sports anime who initially focuses on teams but Major focuses on Goro alone. Major is an amazing chronicle of baseball.
Major has good characters. Although it is a show that is Goro-centric, it still has good development on its characters. These characters are well-made especially Goro. Goro is a stubborn man. This attitude of his never disappears. But as he continually develops, he grows into a better man. The height of his development might be in the last season when he got a psychological problem.
Major’s visual are quite normal for a sports anime but it is well directed and animated. The baseball games were great and exciting. I like how the staff emphasised the pitches. The music is also amazing and one of the openings is one of my favorite
Overall, I enjoyed Major. It is not just a simple sports anime but a character-driven one in a lesser form. I have no issues on it. Everything was simply amazing. The characters, story, visuals, music. Major is really an epitome of how sports anime should be.
tl;dr at the bottom
*check my previous review on S3 before reading this*
This is for seasons 4,5,6 epilogue and world series OVA.
Genre:- Sports, Drama, romance
As I had said in my first review the first 3 seasons are appetizers, the real deal starts from season 4.
These three seasons are undoubtedly right at the top of sports anime genre, treading a path very few sports anime do. Most of the anime have a school setting in this genre, while a select few like Giant killing, One outs and a few others go on to show us the professional nature of sports. And Major sits on the top of these undoubtedly. While One outs is essentially more of a thriller than real sports, Giant killing manages to portray the problems of a football manager in a professional league rather decently. But between 12 episodes and 72 episodes it isnt difficult to see which of them is more comprehensive. Also major is baseball and GK is football. major is from a players POV while the other is from a manager’s.
Season 4 picks off right from where S3 left. As usual things feel a little surreal and rushed, but the anime still manages to be realistic and shows a few of the basic problems someone faces when they go to an unknown country with little to no knowledge of the dialect(or language if you please). The hero is still OP but if you think he is going to breeze through everything well lets just say you might be surprised. Honestly what they show in this season has probably happened somewhere in baseball already. (Its still actually not far fetched at all since lionel messi did worse stuff in Barcelona practice to his teammates than what they show here). in what they very skilfully introduce a growth chart to the protagonist. the matches get way more intense and I can safely say I havent enjoyed baseball matches so match since One Outs, it makes Diamond no Ace matches look stupid. The matches do not drag, are finished within 2-3 episodes, and the main focus is actually more on the humans playing baseball than some tricks(there are tricks but they do not overwhelm the character interactions). Sure a bit of shouneny stuff are thrown here and there, but thats never a deterrent to the actual show. (Those who want to focus on that aspect of the show and bash it are welcome to, but tbh if you use a convex lens so much, you can pretty much give up enjoying anything). And yes this season has some of my favourite character interactions.
S5 goes bigger and better. The main storyline which started from S1 becomes greatly important. And things are settled. But the drama is extraordinarily intense, and tbh I havent seen more drama in a sports anime anywhere. (maybe baby steps, but still the intensity is lower). The final game is my favourite of the entire series and the conclusion is something I did not expect. This season for me was the pinnacle of a drama sports shounen, something that cannot be bettered, ever. But this season was also about romance. Romance started to bloom slowly but surely. And it was interesting to see our protagonist juggling baseball and romance.
I thought it was over with S5 but I was wrong S6 was almost equally brilliant and handled one very important aspect of a sportsman(or two), and they did it very well. They didnt overextend it and neither did they undermine its importance. The focus shifted from the games to Goro(the protagonist) as a persona and his problems, as well as his arrogance which led to his downfall. How he overcomes the odds and how his teammates get inspired from him(In fact the entire series is like that). And finally at the very last episode we get one of my favourite confessions ever. This season had splendidly done drama and showed the life of a player beautifully, the problems and the ups and downs.
The world series OVA was essentially a bridge between between S6 and the epilogue, which had essentially 2 games and more of shounen sports stuff, but it is essential for a sense of completion.
Finally the epilogue. The epilogue is my favourite part of the entire series. I love how they make things go the “full circle”. I love how they show the protagonist grown up. I love how at the very end they show the entire 6 seasons in 5 mins while the first opening starts playing. I am a huge sucker for growing up anime, and this was the pick of the lot. I teared up at the end when they showed the entire journey of the guy. I grew up with Goro. Only flaw maybe a timeskip, but they couldnt have done a better job IMO.
There are a lot of things I take back from the anime. And a lot of regrets and wants crop up. I want a love of my life like Goro had, someone to fall for me as his girlfriend did. it taught me that having talent doesnt mean anything unless you practice hard enough because somewhere in the world there will always be someone better than you at what you do. It teaches you to value your friendships. And it made me nostalgic about mine. And finally it showed how life had a weird way of repeating itself(you would know what I mean when you see the anime).
tl;dr:- Incredible drama, the best baseball you will see, a story about growing up, a heart warming epilogue, thats all you need from an anime like this. the most complete sports anime ever.
rating:- (Animation, Music, Story, Characters, Enjoyment)
World series OVA(7,7,6,6,10 36/50)
Epilogue-10/10(sorry couldnt split this one 🙂 )
4: Cross Game
English: Cross Game
MAL Score: 8.41
Kou Kitamura and Aoba Tsukishima are often at odds—even though their families happen to be close friends and business partners. Although the only child of a sports shop owner, Kou has never been interested in playing baseball. Despite this, he possesses an impressive batting ability honed by frequent visits to the local baseball batting center run by the Tsukushima family. On the other hand, Aoba loves to play baseball and is a star player with exceptional pitching form.
However, these two seemingly complete opposites share something very important to them—Wakaba Tsukishima, Aoba’s older sister and Kou’s destined sweetheart. Admired by the quarrelsome duo, Wakaba often finds herself the catalyst to their never-ending rivalry. But whether or not they realize that they have more in common than either would care to admit, only time will tell. The game of baseball may just be what the pair needs to ultimately overcome their own personal struggles.
Honestly, i was blown away by the first episode, what a very strong start for an anime. It was all unexpected, Just the first episode and it already made me cry… The story was about the cat and dog relationship of Kou and Aoba. Adachi-sensei used his usual pattern of story, the childhood friend route. With a lot of twist , surprise event and a roller coaster of emotion that you will like. We have comedy, romance, drama, Baseball action in one place.
First, let’s discuss comedy, Adachi-sensei never missed any opportunity to crack a joke, the very important thing about delivering a joke was the Timing and that was done perfectly. He will happily use anyone or anything (old or new) as a punch line, so even its just an ordinary day you will find it funny and interesting. Next is Romance, the romance in the story isn’t rushed, you can see it develop little by little, with love triangle in every corner makes it interesting so you can enjoy the love and hate relationship of the two protagonist until the end~. Drama, when Adachi-sensei put a drama in his work it become the key point of the story, just like what happened in the first episode, it will leave an impression until the end of story. Baseball action, Maybe because Adachi-sensei have his own baseball team that he can deliver such an exciting baseball game. He knows When and how to make incredible events to happen, totally surprising, that’s why I love the baseball manga the he writes.
Another key point of the story is memories~ Every now and then you’ll see a flashback in the story, well I didn’t find it annoying, it plays a major role in the character development of the main characters. Sometimes those memories makes me teary.Ending, I’m somewhat contented with it, all the feelings was sorted out and finished the climax of the waited battle in the baseball tournament. Somewhat because i wish he continued it until koushien XD
If u already read some of Adachi-sensei’s manga you will find that all of his male protagonist has the same kind of character and i think same goes for the female. This time its Kitamura Kou, only son, cant even play catch ball till 5th grade, hard working and good at lying. The Ace Pitcher of the Seishu Academy, a typical character that you will like. Tsukishima Wakaba, same age, birthday and birthplace as Kou and love him more than anyone else. She plays a major role in the story despite of her status. Tsukishima Aoba, wakaba’s little sister, who hates Kou very much and love Wakaba. If there’s a word to describe her its “Tsundere”. Kou’s teacher about pitching. Very talented in Baseball despite of being a girl. Akaishi Osamu, position catcher, 5th batter and later the Captain of the Seishu baseball team. Like Kou he loves Wakaba too. Azuma Yuuhei, 1st base and the 4th batter and a talented one. He first appeared as an antagonist. He’s emotionless when talking and only shows different emotion when playing baseball. Takigawa Akane, I’m really surprised of her appearance in the story, almost jaw dropping. The girl that moved next door and the daughter of the Soba Restaurant owner and a great painter. Her appearance takes the story to a new height.
Here’s another trademark of Adachi-sensei. Imagine a classic drawing and add modern day coloring and you will get a remastered feeling. His character design is all the same, specially the ears and the hair color were black, blond and brown. Same goes for the character faces, i had read in one of his manga that even Adachi-sensei criticize his own work for having the same face design for some character. Overall, the classic animation style that used in this anime was some-what refreshing if you want to escape the modern day animation style.
The Opening song “Summer Rain” really suits the anime, it gives the listener a tropical kind of beat, maybe because of the guitar. Good thing that they didn’t replace it until the end of the series. The Ending song Koi Kogarete Mita Yume fit perfectly to the 1st quarter of the season~ that slow and sad song can easily make u cry if added in the scene specially in the 1st episode~ The 2nd one is Orange Days, a Rap song, IMO it doesn’t fit the anime, its not like the song is bad or anything, just that using a song like that in an anime with a classic style of animation isnt good. The 3rd Moeru You na Koi Janai Kedo got a nice beat and slow rhythm . And the last ED song is Rehersal, one of my favorite song. The piano is great and the lyrics too.
I really enjoy Cross Game. I laugh on the jabs, cries in the sad and touchy scenes and get caught in the suspense and excitement of baseball action. that you will ask for more. Well if you Want more baseball action, read H2 and Touch.
Cross Game is my first Adachi anime, and I was thoroughly impressed by its storytelling. The whole series is slow paced and filled with tension. Despite being somewhat predictable, Cross Game is well executed. There is only 1 filler episode out of 50, and even that episode tied pretty well into the main story. My only criticism is Adachi could have fleshed it out a little more, adding some more episodes. Yes this show already has 50 episodes, but it feels shorter than that.
I really liked the art from this show. It feels like an old school anime, and the nostalgic atmosphere it creates serves it well. There were a few points in the show where the animation quality dipped. However, the no non-sense/frills animation was pretty consistent throughout its entirety.
Cross Game’s cast is one of the most memorable in all of anime (that I have watched at least). Each character is developed so well that there isn’t really a character that you won’t like. In fact, you will really sympathize with the main cast’s struggles, hardships, and triumphs.
I loved the OP and the first ED. The next few ED’s are great, but not as powerfully moving as the first one. The first ED “Koi Kogarete Mita Yume” is a beautiful song in its own right, but coupled with this anime, it really could not be more perfect. The OP “Summer Rain” is another song that really speaks volumes about the show and instantly feels like a classic. Finally the soundtrack is wonderfully arranged and really adds to the tension/excitement of the show.
I’m not really a big fan of baseball and when I started this show I was a little hesitant, but I had heard great things about it. From the start, the show hooked me in and never dropped the ball. Easily one of the best slice of life shows I’ve seen (one of the best anime’s I’ve seen for that matter), so I highly recommend this show to others. If you can get past its animation (for some, that’s the weakest part of the show), you will be rewarded with a classic.
Average Series Rating: 9.4 – Classic
One of the most common misconceptions viewers have regarding any form of media is something I call the “been there, done that” phenomenon. That is, if something similar has been done before, chances are the viewer will form a set of judgmental comparisons and criteria to be matched. This leads to the unrealistic expectation that equates to the viewer expecting some sort of literary revolution, only looking forward without truly embracing what the present has to offer. Adachi Mitsuru’s Cross Game accepts its genre boundaries, and relies on the deftness of its storytelling and the depth of its characterization to keep you wanting more.
Kitamura Ko is the only son of Kitamura Sports Shop, whose apathetic nature belies his immense potential as a baseball player. Living down the street from Tsukishima Batting Center, home to its four sisters, Ko’s family has formed a long-lasting relationship with the Tsukishima’s. This bond is strengthened by the fated pair, Ko and the Tsukishima’s second oldest, Wakaba, both being born on the same day in the same hospital.
Almost immediately, Adachi throws a tragic curveball to the viewer, to which he first displays his skillful handling of his story. With such heavy dramatic potential in just the first episode alone, Adachi carefully utilizes this opportunity to not throw away his setup in favor of melodrama, but instead capitalize on creating a human connection between the characters and the viewers. This connection cements the foundation for a strong cast of personalities, led by Ko and the Tsukishima’s third sister, Aoba.
The two protagonists are startlingly similar, and Adachi builds the pair up like two halves of a perfect whole. Despite Aoba’s generally spiteful attitude towards Ko and his reluctant acceptance of her continual ridicule, the exchanges between the two do not detract from their development, but instead define its progression. Additionally, a further romantic element is introduced, which adds a dramatic tone that quickens the story’s pacing towards their lives in Seishu High School and their dreams of aiming for Koshien, while introducing human complexities and relationships that are surprisingly, never overdramatized.
However, to assume the depth of characterization stops with the protagonists would be a major mistake. Perhaps the most interesting character besides the leading pair is Akaishi Osamu, a childhood friend to Ko. Eventually named team captain to Seishu’s baseball team, Akaishi’s personality and decisions throughout the series draw a heavy emotional connection not expected of side characters, especially in sports anime that typically focus only on the protagonists. A whole slew of other characters are also given some time to shine, from Seishu’s cleanup hitter, Azuma Yuhei, to the team’s former manager, Shidou Risa. Each character opts to stay true to who they are, while developing as a result of the progression of the story. Adachi embraces the notion that people never completely change who they are, but they do make adjustments to make better of their lives.
Outside of the drama and relationships is a generally lighthearted dialogue that surrounds a rather typical formula to get to Koshien, Japan’s High School baseball championship. The progression of Seishu’s baseball team and Aoba’s struggle to continue baseball despite not being able to participate in official games become key plot points that seamlessly intertwine with consistent character interaction defined by Adachi’s keen sense of humor.
Speaking of humor, jokes are masterfully timed and clever, despite seeming cliché from time to time. The juxtaposition of the serious and the blithe is a tone not seen pulled off correctly too often in anime, but Cross Game is able to nail it almost every time, making sure each joke is cracked just the right number of times and at the right time too. However, the frivolity of their banter is not wasted either. Even the lightest of jokes serves a purpose to further an emotional connection between the character and the audience, and as the series progresses, the viewer will find him or herself laughing or crying along with the characters.
Regarding the actual baseball in the series, there is definitely plenty of it, and the games are done very well. One does not have to be a fan of baseball to simply enjoy the timely suspense of a close game, and unlike most other sports anime, the series doesn’t sell out on creating unrealistic situations or miracle comebacks to keep the viewer at the edge of her seat.
The pacing of Cross Game is slow for a sports anime, but well-executed. The three major twists in the series are timed perfectly, which adds a sense of believability, for coincidences in life do occur, but not constantly. While relationships between characters may seem to grow complex, the foundation of the series remains rather simple and true to itself. For this series to be labeled as a “drama” is definitely justified, but a bit of an overstatement. It carries many slice of life elements and ultimately is a feel-good experience, but the sheer variety of what it has to offer extends beyond a simple genre label.
However, that’s not to say that the series is flaw-free either. With a decent amount of characters spanning 50 episodes, one can’t help but to ask for just a bit more from a few more characters. There were many lovable personalities throughout the series, and while some continued to develop, others like Nakanishi or Senda could have had some more time dedicated to them, seeing how they were both constants throughout the series.
The animation is relatively consistent throughout the show. Released in 2009 by SynergySP, Cross Game definitely isn’t one of the top shows in the animation department; however, the series definitely wins some points with its charm in character design. Even though the art style might not seem too refined, it is easy to grow onto, and within a dozen episodes, one will hardly notice any huge complaints in that department.
One step above the animation is the quality of Cross Game’s soundtrack and voice acting. While there isn’t anything in particular that stands out about the voice acting, Irino Miyu’s Kitamura Kou and Tomatsu Haruka’s Tsukishima Aoba were a fine lead pair. The true standout of Cross Game’s sound set was its OST, which includes several tracks that were awe-inspiring when played alongside certain scenes. However, the OST probably was not used to its full potential mostly because the most captivating tracks were saved for the grandest moments, and most of the series consisted of lighthearted moments with lighthearted tunes to match it. The only opening of the series, Summer Rain, was an excellent choice to carry the series through 50 whole episodes. The first ending, Koi Kogarete Mita Yume, was my personal favorite and a highly emotional ballad. The other endings were all solid with their own respects.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, and Cross Game is an excellent example that supports this time-worn metaphor. Underneath a genre filled with complexities and controversy, Cross Game flourishes with a simple tale to tell, and it’s given a lengthy amount of time to do so. Unhurried, yet engaging – simple, but beautiful – Cross Game was an emotional and memorable experience that has undoubtedly been the best Sports-related anime I’ve watched thus far.
+ Charming design
+ Consistent animation
– Nothing too special
– A few gaffes in animation
+ Extensive cast that is believably human
+ Heavy emotional connection
+ Excellent Development
+ Does not fall victim to repetitive tropes
– Some characters could’ve used more attention
+ Excellent OST and op/ed sequences
+ Solid voice acting
– Some wasted potential in soundtrack usage
+ Engaging story that is simple at heart
+ Nearly perfect pacing that always keeps the viewer at the edge of her seat
+ Highly entertaining baseball games
+ Mixes well with characters
Overall: 9.3/10, Highly recommended for anyone to give a try. Potential classic of the genre.
3: Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei
English: The Tatami Galaxy
MAL Score: 8.59
One autumn evening at a mysterious ramen stand behind the Shimogamo Shrine, a lonely third-year college student bumps into a man with an eggplant-shaped head who calls himself a god of matrimony. Meeting this man causes the student to reflect upon his past two years at college—two years bitterly spent trying to break up couples on campus with his only friend Ozu, a ghoulish-looking man seemingly set on making his life as miserable as possible. Resolving to make the most out of the rest of his college life, the student attempts to ask out the unsociable but kind-hearted underclassman Akashi, yet fails to follow through, prompting him to regret not living out his college life differently. As soon as this thought passes through his head, however, he is hurtled through time and space to the beginning of his years at college and given another chance to live his life.
Surreal, artistic, and mind-bending, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei chronicles the misadventures of a young man on a journey to make friends, find love, and experience the rose-colored campus life he always dreamed of.
Life wouldn’t be less than a simple and plain matter of choices, wherever our life is right now is due to the choices we’ve made in the past, we’re doing and we’ll probably make in the future, considering everything said “Life” would just be an abbreviation of the sum of choices we’ve made up until now.
Have you ever thought about them?, the choices you’ve made I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone have dedicated, at least a little moment of their time, to muse about the choices we’ve made so far in our lives, important or mundane ones, it matters not. The best moment would be maybe while we’re spacing out during a boring lesson in our classroom or when we’re just slacking off a bit at our working place, or if our personality is that of the “pensive” type we already have a space in our schedule to muse about the little events in our lives, leaving aside the type of personality we’ve, I’m pretty sure we do all have asked ourselves the unavoidable question “What if…” didn’t we?.
“Maybe I should have seated next to that pretty girl in the bus, but instead I’ve decided to stand up”.
Just an example, how can my life change due to that mundane and maybe insignificant event?, impossible to know it and for that I question myself now “What if I’ve seated with that girl?”, a quick reply to that question could be, even if it’s a little creative, that I could have talked with her a little during the ridesharing, I could have found that she’s a wonderful girl and she thinks nice of me, next day she could have reserved the sit for me and again we start to talk, this could have lead me to ask her out, to fall in love, get engaged and when I didn’t even realize it I’ve already married that girl. What was the triggering event for that?, “a stupid and mundane choice when I was young” would be the answer of an older version of myself, or maybe, a more realistic scenery would be that the girl gets off of that bus and it was the last time I saw her, anyway it wouldn’t be completely wrong to say that we’re the product of our choices, but not only, since also the people we meet have the power to change us considerably; maybe you’re asking “what does all this things have to do with the review and with this anime?” to that I reply “quite everything”, since “we’re the product of our Choices” is the main theme of the anime I’m now going to introduce you, The Tatami Galaxy.
(Since our protagonist is nameless I shall now refer to him, from now on, as “The Protagonist”)
Throughout the development of the story, we can see how different can be the life of The Protagonist based on the choices he had made and the people he had meet during his first year of University. The premise of this anime is to show us how different could be our lives due to a choice, in our protagonist’s case, the choice of a Club to join. How can the choice of joining a certain Club be considered as something important, something that could change completely our lives?, at a first gaze I would say “it’s quite improbable” but I couldn’t be more wrong and for our protagonist that couldn’t be more true. The Cinema Club?, Tennis Club?, Softball Club?, English Club?, it doesn’t matter; all of this show is about The Protagonist’s pursuit of his “rose-colored campus life” and what would be that? well it’s Everyone’s dream: being popular, a lot of friends and a cute girlfriend but that’s something that reveals to be a particulary difficult goal to reach for our timid protagonist and lucky isn’t even by his side since someone is obstructing him and that obstruction it’s represented by a physical person, another character of this anime, Ozu. The relation between Ozu and The Protagonist is a bit weird but I totally loved it, Ozu could be or your best friend or you worst enemy, depending how you approach him. So through many of the clubs The Protagonist joins we’re the audience of what would happen to his life if he had only joined a different club in his first year.
The story telling of this anime is unique, incredible unique if I must say it. We need to think of it as a puzzle, a puzzle with 11 parts (11 as the episodes of this anime), so little by little we need to fill the missing parts until it gets finished, at that moment we can actually gaze the wonderfully picture that have been created.
The first thing that strike us are the characters, they’re unique in their own way, all of them have a characteristic that would lead them to being crafted into our minds, starting from The Protagonist to the Fortune Teller (you’ll love that old baba!) since they are made of a simplicity and yet they’re so unique that you’ll have a hard time trying to get them off your head (admitted if you want to). First we have The Protagonist, he’s a first year University student, quite shy and easily manipulated by the other characters of this show, especially Ozu, whose failing to obtain his precious rose colored life consider his life a total waste. Ozu, whose The Protagonist usually describe his first meet with him as “the first as well as worst”, he’s a devil like little guy but not only because of his behavior which is indeed evil (“He eats people’s unhappiness with three helpings of rice” – The Protagonist’s words) but also because of his appearance, he’s also the best and only friend of our protagonist. These two are the most important characters in the show, I won’t talk about each of them since Tatami Galaxy’s really offer a large and above all, original and interesting cast of characters, otherwise this review could get really long. Even if the story revolves around The Protagonist, the other characters aren’t less important, I would say actually they’re more important than him for the development since our protagonist is a passive character; Remember?…not only the choices are important but also the people we meet could lead our lives to an unexpected turn. This anime goes that far too actually made us understand that not experiencing something is actually an experience itself, and we won’t understand that until we finish this anime. The ending is something special; it gives the whole meaning for this show. Comedy isn’t missing neither, this show stands out also for its comedy scenes, and every character will make you laugh in a different way, their own way. Johnny’ scenes, a character’s show, are memorable.
The art is quite particular too, even if you may find it weird at the first sight, we get used to it quite fast and maybe we ask ourselves “Why there aren’t more shows like this?”, The animation is Madhouse Studio, so we can count with an incredible high level animation, characteristic trademark of this studio. The OST suited perfectly every scene, from those more ” lively” ones to those passives, but for one strange reason we don’t give the deserved attention to them, that’s because The Protagonist’s speed light monologues will take most of our concentration, leaving the OST in the background, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Both OP/ED are amazing too, I especially liked more the OP single.
Unless you’re able to read very quickly you won’t be able to leave the Pause button aside, since The Protagonist usually talks in a very speedy way that sometimes we aren’t able to read the subtitles in time but that won’t be the only thing to interrupt us during the vision of this anime, there are also those The Protagonist’s monologues which are so filled with meaning and extremely well written that we could actually feel the urgent of going back to rewatch them, an action I actually repeat many times. It’s incredible but every single phrase pronounced in this show has its own charming and filled with meaning, Wikiquote would have a lot of pages filled with our characters phrases, and I’m not referring to those cliché ones we find everywhere, Tatami Galaxy’s ones are all original.
There are anime with meaning and moral, there are anime with funny characters, there are anime with an incredible story and unique storytelling, but I need to say that The Tatami Galaxy was composed by all of them. I would recommend (personal experience) to rewatch this anime after some time, because its incredible the amount of particulars that could be missed the first time, after all, re-watching an anime to us dear let us appreciate those little particulars we could have missed the first time, and in The Tatami Galaxy’s case I can assure you’ll be surprised.
I’ve expressed myself the best I could, I hope this review moves someone into watching this anime because it’s really worth. I’m going to leave you, the readers, to visualize the whole bocón of things said in this review, don’t hesitate and jump into it you won’t regret it, in that case I’ve realized my main point for this review, otherwise I apologize for being unable to send my feelings towards this incredible anime to you since it’s only my fault as a novice reviewer as I’m.
In any case, I appreciate the time you took for reading it.
La Vida se reduce a las decisiones tomadas. Cualquiera sea el modo en que esté nuestra vida ahora, se debe exclusivamente a las decisiones que hemos hecho en el pasado. Lo que nos lleva a decir que no estaríamos del todo en error al decir que la Vida no es nada más que la suma de nuestras decisiones. Personalmente soy una persona que no cree en el Destino, pues me gusta pensar que tenemos el control total de nuestras vidas, el control de las decisiones que tendremos que afrontar. Me gusta pensar que tenemos frente a nosotros una cantidad infinita de puertas en vez de una sola.
¿Alguna vez has pensado en ellas, las decisiones que has tomado? Estoy seguro que cualquiera ha dedicado, aunque sea un poco de tiempo, para meditar sobre ellas. Importantes o no, el mejor momento para ello podría ser cuando estamos ociando durante una lección aburrida en la escuela, o mientras ociamos un poco en el trabajo o, si somos del tipo pensativo, no necesitamos estar aburridos para dedicar un poco de nuestro tiempo a meditar sobre todo. Estoy seguro que al menos una vez nos hemos preguntado “¿Cómo sería si..?”.
“Tal vez debería haberme sentado al lado de esa chica, pero decidí quedarme de pie”
Es sólo un ejemplo, ¿cómo cambiaría mi vida debido a ese evento tan común y corriente?. No soy capaz de saberlo y por eso si me pregunto “¿y si me hubiese sentado con ella?” una respuesta veloz, aunque un poco creativa, sería que habría comenzado a charlar con ella y me daría cuenta que es una chica estupenda y de que, sorprendentement,e ella piensa lo mismo sobre mí. Al día siguiente me la encuentro de nuevo y comenzamos a charlar otra vez, y esto me lleva a pedirle un día de salir conmigo, a enamorarme de ella y así sucesivamente al matrimonio. ¿Cuál sería el evento que me llevó a todo eso? “Una decisión común y corriente cuando era joven” sería la respuesta de mi Yo anciano o, siendo más realista, la chica se baja del tren y esa fue la última vez que la vi. No estaríamos del todo errados al decir que nosotros somos el producto de decisiones, pero no solamente nuestras decisiones, pues las personas que encontramos a lo largo de nuestro camino tienen el increíble poder de cambiarnos…Tal vez os estés preguntado “¿Qué tiene que ver todo esto con la review o con el anime?” y a eso le respondo: “prácticamente todo”, porque “Somos el producto de nuestras decisiones” es el tema principal de la serie que ahora les voy a presentar, The Tatami Galaxy.
(Siendo nuestro protagonista un sin nombre, lo llamaré, a partir de ahora, El Protagonista)
A lo largo del desarrollo de la historia, podremos ver como sería la vida de nuestro protagonista en base a las decisiones que escoge el primer año de universidad y a las personas que encuentra en ella. La premisa de esta historia es mostrarnos cuan diferente pueden ser nuestras vidas debido a una decisión que tomamos. En el caso de nuestro protagonista, la decisión de un Club al cual unirse. ¿Cómo podría revelarse ser una decisión que cambiaría nuestras vidas el escoger a cuál club pertenecer? Es algo que consideré imposible a una primera impresión, algo que se puede considerar una deducción completamente errónea después. ¿El Club de Cine? ¿Club de Tenis?, ¿Football Club? ¿El Club de Ingles? No tendría importancia de verdad pues el objetivo de nuestro protagonista es encontrar lo que él considera “La vida color rosa”. ¿De qué se trata esta? Pues eso sería el sueño de todo el mundo: Ser popular, muchos amigos y una bella novia, algo que, claramente, para nuestro tímido protagonista se revela ser una misión imposible. Ni siquiera la buena suerte lo acompaña, pues se encuentra siempre siendo obstaculizado. El obstáculo en este caso es una persona física, otro personaje de este anime, mi favorito, Ozu. La relación entre Ozu y El Protagonista es una de las más geniales que he visto. Fuera de lo normal, pero algo que completamente amé. Ozu o podría ser tu mejor amigo o tu peor enemigo, depende de cómo te le acerques en vuestro primer encuentro. Entonces, a lo largo de este anime, nosotros seremos los espectadores de cómo seria la vida de nuestro pobre protagonista, y cómo esta sería diferente si sólo se hubiera unido a otro club su primer año.
La narración de esta historia es única, increíblemente única si tengo que precisar. Si queremos podemos pensar de esta como un rompecabezas: un rompecabezas de 11 piezas (11 como los episodios de este anime) que poco a poco va cogiendo forma, sólo colocando la última pieza es que podremos apreciar la imagen completa y admirarla es todo su esplendor.
La primera cosa que nos impactará en esta serie serían sus personajes, los cuales son únicos en su forma de ser, hasta dejar una huella en nuestras mentes que difícilmente desaparecerá. Comenzando por El Protagonista hasta la Vieja Adivina (¡Adorarás a esa vieja!), todos son tan simples, pero a la vez son tan únicos que difícilmente los encontrarás aburridos. Primero que todo tenemos a nuestro protagonista, un chico bastante tímido y reservado fácilmente manipulable por otros, especialmente Ozu, el cual al haber fallado en su búsqueda por la “vida color rosa” siente que su vida hasta ahora ha sido un completo desperdicio. Después tenemos a Ozu, sl cual el protagonista suele describir su primer encuentro con el como “el primero al igual que el peor”.
Él es un chicho malévolo, y no sólo por su comportamiento (“Él se come la infelicidad de la gente con un contorno de arroz” palabras de nuestro protagonista), sino también por su apariencia que, es de hecho, demoníaca. Estos dos son los personajes más importantes del show. No me pondré a hablar sobre los demás porque Tatami Galaxy ofrece un cast de personajes muy amplio, pero, sobre todo, interesante y original, lo cual me tomaría mucho tiempo y esta review se pondría muy larga. Si bien la historia gira entorno a El Protagonista, los otros personajes no son menos notables. Yo diría que son hasta más importantes para el desarrollo de la historia que el propio protagonista, debido a que este último es un personaje pasivo, ¿Recuerdas?… No sólo las decisiones son importantes, porque también están las personajes las cuales le pueden dar un gran giro inesperado a nuestras vidas. Este anime llega tan lejos tanto da mostrarnos que no experimentar algo es una experiencia en sí y eso no lo llegaremos a comprender hasta el final de este anime. El final es algo especial, algo que le da todo un significado a la experiencia que hemos visto. La comedia no falta, de hecho este anime resalta sobretodo por su comedia, cada personaje te hará reír en un modo diferente, el modo de cada uno de ellos. Las partes de Johnny, un personaje del show, son memorables.
Los diseños son bastantes particulares también. Aunque se pueden encontrar extravagantes en principio, nos acostumbramos de una manera veloz a ellos, a tal modo que nos preguntamos “¿Por qué no hay más como estos?”. La animación está hecha por el estudio Madhouse, famoso por la atención y la extrema precisión en sus trabajos. Es de verdad muy fluida y perfecta. El OST encaja perfectamente en cada escena de la serie, desde las más pasivas hasta las más activas. , un particular extraño es que por la mayor parte el OST pasa desapercibido, debido a que los monólogos a la velocidad de la luz de nuestro protagonista se llevan la mayor parte de nuestra atención, dejando el OST en un plano fuera de nuestra percepción, lo cual no es necesariamente algo malo. OP/ED fueron muy buenos, a mí me gustó mucho más el OP single.
Si tu capacidad de lectura no es lo suficientemente veloz estarás pegado al botón de pausa. Eso es porque El Protagonista habla de una manera tan veloz que es casi imposible seguirlo, haciendo la comprensión algo difícil. Pero esa no será la única vez que echaremos el video para atrás, porque también los monólogos de nuestro protagonista están tan llenos de significado que los querremos leer de nuevo. Puede ser increíble, pero cada frase dicha en esta serie es tan llena de significado y resplandece con tanta luz propia que Wikiquote tendría páginas enteras sólo con los diálogos de nuestros personajes… Y no estoy hablando de esas frases baratas que se consiguen en todas las series, las de Tatami Galaxy son todas originales.
Hay animes con significado y moral, los hay con personajes divertidos, hay animes con una increíble narración y desarrollo de la historia, pero tengo que decir que The Tatami Galaxy tiene todo esto y más. Yo recomendaría (experiencia personal) ver de nuevo esta serie después de un tiempo. De eso modo nos podemos dar cuenta de la increíble cantidad de particulares que se dejan atrás mientras los estamos viendo por primera vez. Porque, después de todo, mirar de nuevo un anime que nos gustó nos da la posibilidad de apreciar esos pequeños detalles que nos pudimos haber saltado, y en este caso hay bastantes.
Me exprese lo mejor que he podido, espero que esta review les ayude a decidiros a dedicar vuestro tiempo en este anime, porque de verdad lo vale. Ahora voy a dejar a ustedes, los lectores, el tiempo de visualizar todo lo que se dijo hasta ahora. Si acaso encuentran a este un poco interesante, les digo que no lo duden y denle una oportunidad, ese es el objetivo principal de esta review. Si no es así, pues no logré trasmitir mis emociones sobre esta gran serie con éxito al ser aún un principiante.
En cualquier caso, les agradezco su tiempo.
A nameless protagonist, referred to as Watashi (‘I’) by himself, has just entered college, and the story more or less follows his many lives and many misfortunes. Each episode starts with Watashi pursuing something inane or stupid – like a “rose-colored campus life” or “raven-haired maidens” and in each episode his friend Ozu, manages to somehow screw everything up. I say friend in the lightest sense of the term, because Ozu isn’t really anyone’s friend. He’s a backstabbing punk who just loves to terrorize people, and he always manages to infect Watashi in one way or another, usually ending up driving him away from his goal. Along Watashi’s trip across the Tatami Galaxy you’re introduced to many different people, and in each life, a different story unfolds. Each story is unrelated other than by starting the same way at first glance, but you’ll start noticing some patterns, and eventually it brings you to one of the most impressive endings I have ever seen. If I were to tag a genre to this anime I’d first have to say it’s a slice-of-life comedy, then mystery, but it’s also a really great psychological anime. It’s incredibly dialogue heavy, and the first three minutes of episode one has the most text I’ve ever seen in an anime. That being said it can be very easy to lose track of what is going on, but if you’re on your feet then you shouldn’t get lost too easily.
Yojou-han is brought to you by MadHouse, which is known for it’s diverse art style and in this anime’s case it is either defined as pretentious or glorious. I would like to call it the latter. It’s non-traditional and is unlike any other anime in existence, seriously. It’s like Mononoke when Mononoke was new, it can amaze people, or turn people the heck away. It’s a very vibrant anime, and everything is so fluid – movement looks just splendid. For those faint of eyes, be wary, Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei may not be the anime for you.
Well, there’s a song about shapes in an early episode. That was like, totally freaking awesome. How many anime have songs about shapes? Unless Fullmetal Alchemist the Musical is coming out anytime soon, I think that’s about a zero other than Yojou-han. The opening is amazing, and Asian Kung-Fu Generation does a great job (It’s called “Maigo Inu to Ame no Beat”). I believe it’s their first opening for a non-shonen show. The ending is amazingly well positioned (you’ll see what I mean) and the first time you hear it I promise you’ll get a small shiver. The singer is the same who sang the Arakawa Under the Bridge opening, Etsuko Yakushimaru. The voice acting for every character is of course, awesome as well. Watashi does most of the talking and I was considering favoriting his voice actor (Shintaro Asanuma) just because I liked to hear him talk. The background music is the only flaw sound-wise. There really isn’t much to listen to, and even if their is, I probably didn’t notice, because between following the dialogue and looking at the art, it’s pretty hard to manage a third element.
I’ve already explained who Watashi is, but let me tell you a little more. Watashi likes shortcuts and doesn’t like working, and almost can be seen as a lazy Ozu. Ozu is our antagonist most of the time. He’s the downright rotten scoundrel who always leads our poor Watashi astray, and usually ends up profiting off of it. I called Watashi a “lazy Ozu” a moment ago because Watashi isn’t an innocent little bird, he’s just too lazy to put his efforts into anything other than his hobbies. Akashi, the somewhat romantic interest, is a girl who loathes moths and is bluntly cold to everyone around her. Kind of like Senjogahara (from Bakemonogatari), but easier to cope with. She’s pretty funny herself, but all the characters are. We have the doll-fanatic Jougasaki, the drunk and elder Hanuki who likes to speak broken engrish, the Master Higuchi, who is an 8th year graduate who plans to travel the world, and multitudes of others (like Watashi’s Johnny (see Eden of the East)). The character development is insanely good too. This anime is about Watashi’s little foray of self realization, thusly he gets the most character development, but never have I seen it done so well.
An anime that can create a macrocosm within itself is an anime to be trifled with. It sets the stage with brilliant characters and visuals, brings hilarious moments throughout, and manages to deliver numerous meaningful messages. Is there a perfect world? Will I be happier with more money and women? Will I be happier doing what people say I should? Yeah. It’s pretty damn complex. It’s as thought provoking as Kaiba while bringing the comedy of Gintama. I think it’s safe to leave it at that.
No fanservice, no lolis, no moe, no ultra-violence, no regrets. It’s intelligent without being snobby, it’s stupid without being idiotic, and it’s appealing without being inappropriate.
To sum it up, I think you should just try it out. It’s only 11 episodes, and I think for the one season range of anime, this is one of the best out there.
Destiny is always dangling right in front of you, so why not reach out and grab this anime?
Yojouhan is a rare example of a series with time loops where the loops themselves are actually played with. Throughout the 11 episodes, there are several different stories, but many of the episodes focus on the same stories as others. What makes these episodes work is that we see the stories from different angles. In some episodes, we see segments of the story that aren’t entirely clear, though at the time are not distracting. In later episodes, these plot points are often explained when Watashi’s perspective changes and we see what actually happened. The best part of this, though, is that every episode lends pieces to a larger story. While the series is episodic, what we see effectively falls into place like a jigsaw puzzle, all coming to fruition in the final episode making for one of the most satisfying conclusions I’ve ever seen.
As a result of this, the first few episodes of the series don’t make complete sense. They come off as being more abstract than part of an actual plot, but as the series goes on the beginning is referred to in a way that makes this start a vital piece of the puzzle. However, the start is hardly a throwaway. While not as strong as the rest of the series upon viewing, the bizarre and abstract style make the beginning an enjoyable watch anyway.
On that note, the way the series is presented is part of the genius. Upon starting the show, the first thing that will strike you is undoubtedly the art. The characters are drawn in an oddly cartoony way, using only one-tone colours for the art and having a rubbery kind of movement to them. This seems like an odd choice, but it does help to draw you into the unique world of Yojouhan, and later in the story it even gets used for plot purposes. This is also combined with a lot of black and white live-action shots, wherein the characters are sometimes drawn over the actors.
The strange presentation doesn’t stop there, though. One strange feature of Yojouhan is that Watashi is very fond of monologuing, in a way very reminiscent of Kyon (from the Haruhi Suzumiya series, in case you’ve been living under a rock). He does so, however, at a very high speed. If the show has a fault, it is this, but it’s more of a double-edged sword than a flaw outright. For people who aren’t great at reading, the high speed of the subtitles can often make the things Watashi says hard to keep up with, but it’s rarely overwhelming. On the plus side of it, it helps to keep the pacing of Yojouhan fast, which keeps the series interesting, an important factor in a series that is driven with an abundance of dialogue (excellent though the dialogue may be).
For a show that could have easily been dull or just weird if it had been handled wrongly, it only makes sense that even more precautions are made to make sure that there isn’t a dull second in Yojouhan, as evidenced by the motormouthed narration. What helps with this is that rather than being thrown into an entirely new plot every time, there are a few elements that remain the same throughout every story. The beginning and end of each episode are usually the same, as well as Watashi’s meeting with a fortune teller. This helps the viewer to keep a pace with the series, which may have been otherwise hard to do.
The characters of Yojouhan aren’t really the focus point, but they aren’t an afterthought by any means. While each member of the cast is a vibrant and distinctive individual in of themselves, the actual characterisation isn’t really the strong point of the characters, but rather how they are used. Just like the story, each character and their actions throughout the two years are explained slightly more with each new perspective. This ends with more or less every character coming out good, but one character in particular sticks out as being an excellent example of defied expectations, showing their nature as a 3-dimensional character as we see their story from each side fall into place. I won’t spoil who it is, but anybody who has seen the series should know who I mean. Watashi himself, while an unremarkable person, is hard not to like for his enjoyable musings and relatable situations, and as the series goes on he does develop well, if not remarkably so.
Of course, the time loops persist for as long as Watashi continues to miss the proper way to live the two years, with conclusions that have been dangling in front of his eyes the whole time. Some of the conclusions become expected after a mere few episodes, but other, more important ones (as well as the entire point of the time loops) are less obvious and yet no less excellent.
Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei is an exercise in series structure unlike anything before it. The way the entire series is built comes off as nothing short of genius. I have yet to see any of acclaimed director Yuasa Masaki’s previous works, but Yojouhan makes it blatantly clear that he lives up to the reputation that precedes him. I can only hope Kaiba, Kemonozume and Mind Game are nearly as good as this, because now Masaki has set an excellent example of how to make a truly great, original anime.
For Fans Of: Bakemonogatari, Welcome to the N.H.K!
MAL Score: 8.95
The Amanto, aliens from outer space, have invaded Earth and taken over feudal Japan. As a result, a prohibition on swords has been established, and the samurai of Japan are treated with disregard as a consequence.
However one man, Gintoki Sakata, still possesses the heart of the samurai, although from his love of sweets and work as a yorozuya, one might not expect it. Accompanying him in his jack-of-all-trades line of work are Shinpachi Shimura, a boy with glasses and a strong heart, Kagura with her umbrella and seemingly bottomless stomach, as well as Sadaharu, their oversized pet dog. Of course, these odd jobs are not always simple, as they frequently have run-ins with the police, ragtag rebels, and assassins, oftentimes leading to humorous but unfortunate consequences.
Who said life as an errand boy was easy?
It’s strange to say this, but humour has never been a strong department for the medium, partly because of the cultural differences between East and West, but mainly because the majority of anime comedies rely more on parody than anything else. The problem with this is that quite often the viewer is left without a frame of reference, so the humour simply goes over their heads. Some shows manage to get away with it purely by throwing out an almost constant stream of gags in the hope that people will understand enough of them to be entertained, while others like Seto no Hanayome and Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu have a slightly more careful approach.
The area where anime is weakest is where situational comedy is concerned. There are plenty of shows around that could invariably class themselves as sit-coms, but the penchant for studios to base their stories in some sort of school setting severely limits the quality of the humour. In essence, the industry’s blind adherence to what they think is a winning formula has resulted in the dilution of just about every single joke that could be told in a school setting, so much so in fact that these days studios have fallen to relying on fanservice based comedies in order to make ends meet (pardon the pun).
Comedy anime isn’t dead though, as there are some rays of light shining down on the wreckage of red noses, bladders on sticks and giant shoes. Nodame Cantabile insane otaku heroine and her long suffering boyfriend introduced many people to the world of classical music and the usage of otaku power when learning French. Genshiken took a slightly rose tinted look at the multi-layered world of the Japanese otaku, while Moyashimon payed homage to the classic American frat comedy National Lampoon’s Animal House.
One series has, however, defied all the conventions, and has become one of the greatest comedy anime of all time. Incorporating elements from some of the best comedy of both East and West, the series has an anarchic streak that, at times, is more reminiscent of Monty Python, The Simpsons and Family Guy.
I am, of course, talking about Gintama.
The concept of a samurai sit-com isn’t new to anime and manga, however it wasn’t until the serialisation of Sorachi Hideaki’s manga in 2003 that anyone actually realised the potential in this type of story. Set in a quasi-historical Edo, Japan (and possibly the rest of the world), has been conquered by an alien race known as the Amanto. The nation’s strongest warriors were no match for the alien technology, and in an effort to prevent another samurai uprising, the powers that be have banned humans from carrying swords in public.
In this world there lives a former samurai with silver hair who runs the firm known as Yorozuya from his rented second floor apartment. From time to time he takes on odd jobs (yorozuya), for people in order to pay his rent and buy milkshakes and his beloved Weekly Shounen Jump.
He is Sakata Gintoki, and his destiny is to make you cry with laughter.
To say that the story is a bit on the haphazard side is probably a gross understatement, however Gintama is nothing if not consistent in its approach. The underlying story is of Gintoki and his “friends”, Shimura Shinpachi (an average human teenager with no real special qualities), and Kagura (an alien who looks human and possesses monstrous strength), as they go through their days doing odd jobs for people, getting into arguments/figths with the Shinsengumi (police, kind of), drinking strawberry milkshakes (or some other flavour depending on Gintoki’s mood), and trying in some small way to make the world a better place.
And that’s really about as serious as many of the episodes get. The haphazard approach to the story is a purposeful measure that, strangely enough, works very well, mainly because Gintama is a comedy series. There are story arcs that occur over the course of the show, and even though they may include some serious or dramatic content, Gintama never once loses its sense of fun. Indeed, the comedy is the true strength of this series, not simply in its style and delivery, but also in its content. Many of the visual gags have to be seen to be believed (seriously, how the hell did they get away with the Neo Armstrong Cyclone Jet Armstrong Cannon), and whilst the series is top-filled with parodies, the humour is always involving so the viewer rarely feels like a joke has gone over their head.
That said, Ginatama has one aspect that is greater than all others in terms of its plot and comedy content, and that is its ability to turn the seemingly ordinary into something completely different. This is the main reason why Gintama can be considered a sit-com rather than a parody, as this aspect has more in common with shows like Blackadder and Monty Python than anything else. There are numerous occasions where the series will catch the viewer off guard with its sly, anarchic take on seemingly normal events (like being in a public toilet and running out of paper).
Of course, there are downsides too. Although the series is extremely strong in terms of comedy, it sometimes lacks when events take a serious turn. This may be due to the audience’s reactions, as viewers may automatically think that something funny is going to happen next, however a part of it also stems from the fact that the comedy is sometimes too “strong”. It’s ironic to say this, but Gintama’s greatest strength may also be its biggest weakness.
As with any long running shounen series animation and design are pretty good on the whole. The characters convey a sense of visual individuality that at times goes beyond that of other shounen anime, although this is tempered with a small degree of genericism that allows the humour to flourish . The colours are extremely bold and solid, while the backgrounds and set designs highlight the synergy between alien technology and Edo. The animation itself is of an extremely high standard, so much so in fact that some of the visual gags only really work because of it.
The high points of the visuals are the show’s numerous and well crafted parodies. There are many occasions where the style, animation, end even the character design, changes to make the humour more immediate, sometimes occuring in the blink of an eye, and sometimes lasting for a good portion of a given episode. The series also plays around with a variety of concepts that most people only really read about, one example being an occasion where Gintoki and the gang are rendered invisible because the episode is incomplete. It’s nigh on impossible to find another anime that not only mentions something like this, but also shows the viewer what it would look like.
Much of the humour comes from the characters themselves, but no matter how good the scripting is, delivery is everything when it comes to comedy, and in this respect Gintama is extremely well served by its seiyuu. The cast are able to perform with a panache that is sometimes astonishing, and their portrayals of their respective characters are so good that one would be forgiven for believing they were full time comedians. Possibly the best example of this is Kugimiya Rie (Kagura), who for many years has been typecast into various tsundere roles. Her portrayal of Kagura is truly excellent, especially in terms of comedy, and much like the rest of the cast she manages to not only maintain a consistent character for a an extended period of time, but has actually become more adept with her timing and delivery.
Gintama is generally consistent with its choice of music, and certain tracks are repeated throughout the series usually to add to the comic atmosphere of a given scene. That said, some of the more serious moments can feel a little off-kilter as the score changes can sometimes be a little sudden. As with any long running series the OP and ED have changed since the show began airing in 2006. These tracks are usually pretty good at capturing the essence of Gintama (which just sounds wrong), as a whole, and the opening sequences are designed and choregraphed to highlight the important aspects of the anime – humour, fun, some seriousness, and a large slice of anarchy.
In all honesty, there is no real reason to find the characters outstanding, and the fact that they are iconic, original and memorable is possibly Gintama’s greatest triumph. Gintoki, Shinpachi, Kagura, the members of the Shinsengumi, and all the sundry characters, alien and otherwise, who appear in the show will find some funny bone to tickle. When taken as individuals each is a flawed creation that really wouldn’t work were this any other anime, but the plot and scripting for the series, together with the talent of the seiyuu and the design of each character, turns this idea completely on its head. Much of the comedy is dependent on the characters, and it’s because the series is so good at entertaining the audience that any noticeable flaws are generally forgiven or ignored.
Gintama is not simply a funny anime though. Over the seasons the show has gradually become a phenomenon in the medium, mainly because of its ability to maintain consistent humour for over most of its 201 episodes. The irreverent and oh-so anarchic humour can, at times, come off as weird, but this has only served to endear the series to more viewers.
Numerous fans refer to Gintama as their “anime crack”, a sentiment which is understandable in a sense as it has the ability to lift one’s mood in a way that few other anime can manage. That doesn’t mean that everyone will be entertained though, but if the viewer approaches the show with the right sort of mindset (e.g. open), then the series has a lot to offer.
That said, shounen fans will definitely find Gintama appealing, not simply because it bears all the stereotypical hallmarks of that genre of anime, but also for its ability to creatively parody other shounen tales (like Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, etc – who can forget the infamous DragonBleaPiece movie trailer). Fans of comedy anime like Seto no Hanayome, Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu and others of that ilk, will also find Gintama’s ability to mess with everyday concepts worthwhile.
There are plenty of aspects to the series that possess a broad appeal in terms of humour, and it’s to the credit of everyone involved with the production (from mangaka Sorachi Hideaki on down to the guy/girl who makes the tea), that the show never gets old, stale, or too bogged down in how good it actually is.
There’s a new king of comedy in town. Make way for Gintama.
Now this is a show I’ve wrestled with for a long time. Many of my friends pledged almost fanatically this is the best anime in existence. I watched the first episode. So this is it? I was not impressed. As a person who found pleasure in the darkest and most gloomy kinds of settings, I would almost immediately say that this was not for me. Everything was just so weird and appeared to be arbitrarily glued together.
I was so naïve.
At some point I picked Gintama up again, I’m one of the people who are not easily moved to laughter but still, there had to be something to this… Let me tell you this, Gintama is a journey, a pilgrimage. You will not appreciate it after two or three episodes, even twenty may not be enough. It took me sixty whole episodes when I was finally thoroughly entertained but it was then that I realized: Gintama is like a snowball rolling down a mountain. It’s barely recognizable at first but the next time you turn your gaze in its direction, it will have turned into an avalanche.
Sooo… yeah, this is actually hard. Gintama is composed of a series of mini arcs that have no real connection to each other. You can’t call it a consistent storyline but it’s also not really episodic, there are also fillers organically weaved into the style and pace of the anime. A strange kind of hybrid, that still works somehow. We have different little events like the Benizakura, Yoshiwara or Popularity Poll arc, which all are amazingly done. Action, drama and most of all comedy, Gintama’s got them all and none of them are bad. Also, because I can’t find a better place to do this, let may tell you a few things about the often overlooked setting. The pseudo-medieval, post war Japanese capital Edo with modern technology, invaded by a multitude of alien races called Amanto. Sounds utterly random right? Wrong. It is my firm believe that this setting is actually the backbone of Gintama. Why you ask? Because it allows for the greatest number of possible scenarios, different people and places. You can have a samurai, a rebel leader, an alien and a penguin costume guy added to the cast and nobody bats an eye, because it still feels natural. Never forget the setting, it makes this anime what it is.
It’s strange, when I started watching I thought to myself ‘This looks somehow generic’ but at the same time ‘This looks somehow unique’. It’s hard to explain but that’s the feeling I get from Gintama. Visual quality may not be top notch here but it gets progressively better, a fact that is especially apparent in latter battle sequences. I would leave it at nine points but there’s another thing… facial expressions. They are beyond hilarious, I won’t say too much about it but you will understand once you have seen a few exemplary episodes.
There are a few very iconic and memorable tracks on the Gintama OST, that’s probably due to the fact that they are used so frequently but that doesn’t mean that I ever got sick of them. Audio is mostly bright and uplifting, fitting to the animes focus on comedy. Opening and ending themes are also pleasing, notably Donten and Stairway Generation. This would also be a eight or nine if it wasn’t for the seiyuus. These guys are BRILLIANT! Every voice fits its character and Sugita Tomokazu is probably the most unique voice I have ever heard in anime. He’s now the voice of Gintoki for me, forever. Kugumiya Rie is a rather well-known name, revered for her roles as your run of the mill tsundere girls. Kagura was a kind of character that was probably new to her but she still did an excellent job. There are a dozen other examples but I’m not going into debt on all of them, only thing you have to know is that the voiceover job is amazing.
Alright, so this is the deciding factor that makes this anime awesome. Here we have some amazingly thought out characters and not just for comedy purposes, most of them have a backstory, even the vilest of antagonists are not just pure embodied malice. This is also what causes the anime to take time to get going, you have to get to know the characters. A naked random guy is very much different to a naked Isao Kondo. Almost all of them are likeable, memorable and most of all funny. We have no focus on development here but such progression would do more harm than anything else. It takes time to get to know them and that process is very important, changing a well-established character after that process is complete doesn’t strike me as a good idea.
It takes time, 60 episodes to get it rolling, 140 episodes to have me almost dying of laughter but it was well worth it. Gintama maintains a consistent, no, increasing level of entertainment over the course of its 201 episodes. It’s already hilarious and would have been even better if I was capable of understanding the Japanese language without subtitles or if I’d seen more anime to understand all the parodies going on. Knowledge of basic Shounen Jump, Ghibli Movies, NGE, Doraemon or Gundam widely enhances the spectrum of jokes you can laugh about. Even without that and as part of a western audience, I found myself crying out in laughter over a majority of the jokes, there are just so many of them, no way you can miss everything.
So are all these people right, is Gintama the best anime of all time? I dare not to pass judgment unto that, simply because Gintama is so unique and unconventional that I feel it falls into a category of its own. There is no competition for this anime in its specific category because it’s the only one that ever made it there. This is not the best of all anime, this is just Gintama, don’t lump it together with all the others! Even if they’re brilliant, if they’re entrancing, if they’re masterpieces, don’t make that mistake. I myself who is speaking so highly of this anime have other favorites; this is simply Gintama, no need for comparison.
If you plan on taking a shot at Gintama and you’re not completely hooked after the first few episodes, bring a lot of patience, it will pay off.
There isn’t a single cohesive narrative to Gintama. There are some loosely connected arcs, and a whole lot of episodes that have nothing to do with those arcs, but there is no single narrative. The basic setup is that the world has been conquered by aliens, referred to in Gintama as “Amanto” and the government is still subservient to them. Samurai are no longer allowed to carry swords except for a few who work for the government or who have wealth and connections. In this world a samurai named Gintoki works by, in theory, doing odd jobs. Although that largely consists of him doing nothing. His crew consists of a youngster named Shinpachi, an Amanto girl named Kagura who possesses super strength and is highly vulnerable to sunlight, and a giant dog named Sadaharu, our cute character who requires ear scritches and belly rubs. Hijinks ensue as this group and the people around them get into shenanigans.
Let’s begin by looking at the problems with the series, shall we? By far the biggest issue is that the writing aesthetic is horribly inconsistent. Most of the episodes are highly random and intended for humour but when they get to the more story heavy arcs things take a huge shift into serious territory, sometimes including really heavy topics like sex trafficking, and it creates a huge tonal clash between episodes. You can’t segue from jokes about testicles and bloody rectums into a story about an underground city where children are sold to be raised as sex slaves. There is quite literally no way to make that transition so that it isn’t painfully awkward and completely disrespectful to the serious issue. It’s worse than that Captain Planet episode that dealt with AIDS. Sure, that was way over the series’ head too, but there wasn’t such a radical tonal problem. The tone isn’t the only thing that has problems with consistency, there’s also the continuity. There are three basic ways to do continuity. The first is having a strict, coherent continuity where everything matters. The second is to have a basic progression from one episode to the next but the details aren’t that important. The third is to toss continuity out the window completely, like Galaxy Angel. The problem with Gintama is that it does all three. Some episodes deal very much with continuity as being super important, others follow the more fast and loose route where there’s a progression but the details aren’t important and there are other episodes that don’t fit into any kind of continuity and will never be mentioned again after they’re over.
Now that we’ve been over that, let’s talk a bit about the comedy in this series that is, mostly, comedic. A lot of it is pretty puerile humour where someone defecates in their pants, or someone’s anus bleeds or where the punchline is something involving testicles. There are also a lot of bits where the characters will make loud references to some other piece of media and there are some other random bits of humour. The trouble is, a lot of it really isn’t funny. For example, there’s a running gag about one of the characters eating too much mayonnaise which is funny because… if he ate that much mayo in reality he’d weigh two hundred kilos and have to get around with a motorised scooter? There are two characters who pretty much exist for stalker jokes and there’s another running joke about Katsura getting annoyed by people calling him the wrong thing. There are times when the randomness can work and there are some points where they parody something competently instead of just making reference to it but they’re few and far between. I will give the series full credit for having some surprisingly clever deconstructions here and there, particularly when it comes to its treatment of trans-gendered characters.
Gintama has a large cast of reoccurring characters, but very little in terms of complex ones. Most of them are used for one or two jokes and that’s pretty much it. I will say that there’s nothing wrong with that for a comedic work. You can have a bunch of fairly one-note characters as long as they have dynamics that provide good comedic possibilities and you can take advantage of that. The problem is the more serious episodes. This cast would be perfectly passable if the series didn’t have those largely serious story arcs but when you take a bunch of relatively shallow comedic characters and try to do something fairly serious with them it just quickly loses any sense of tension and the characters come across as heavily under-developed, if not as completely out of place.
The artwork and animation are pretty decent. There are some cases where they recycle footage or show a background with nothing happening, which they will almost always lampshade, but it’s competently done. The action sequences can be pretty strong, both when they’re doing something largely serious and when they’re doing a jokey action scene.
The actors are pretty capable and no one does badly. However, the level of over-exaggeration in the series is really high and you might very well find yourself growing weary of listening to people shouting. The music varies. Sometimes it’s pretty good, sometimes it’s kind of annoying. Mostly, it’s just kind of bland.
There’s some in the series. There’s an openly lesbian character who shows up on a semi-regular basis and there’s a guy who is heavily implied to have romantic feelings for Sougo who shows up for a couple of episodes late in the series. There’s no reciprocation for their feelings, but they also aren’t used for jokes based on their sexuality. Some of the other characters act like asses about it at points, but the series itself doesn’t treat it as an issue. So, I’ll give Gintama some credit for treating its gay characters no differently than it does its straight characters. It is pretty refreshing, especially when you have “comedies” like Baka to Test that have to be as mean-spirited as possible about things like that.
Gintama has a real problem with consistency. Its tone is wildly inconsistent which can lead to some really awkward and stilted moments. It’s inconsistent with what it wants to do with its continuity. If you like humour that’s more than a little puerile and pretty random then you might still enjoy the series in spite of that and there are some things it does pretty decently but it’s honestly not my cup of tea in that regard. I just don’t find ninety percent of the attempts at humour to be amusing. As such, I have to give the series a 4/10. Next week we’ll have this year’s film festival. Starting with Kara no Kyoukai 6 on Sunday. Because I’ve looked at that franchise first during the last two years and I might as well do it this time as well.
1: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
English: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Japanese: 鋼の錬金術師 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST
MAL Score: 9.16
After a horrific alchemy experiment goes wrong in the Elric household, brothers Edward and Alphonse are left in a catastrophic new reality. Ignoring the alchemical principle banning human transmutation, the boys attempted to bring their recently deceased mother back to life. Instead, they suffered brutal personal loss: Alphonse’s body disintegrated while Edward lost a leg and then sacrificed an arm to keep Alphonse’s soul in the physical realm by binding it to a hulking suit of armor.
The brothers are rescued by their neighbor Pinako Rockbell and her granddaughter Winry. Known as a bio-mechanical engineering prodigy, Winry creates prosthetic limbs for Edward by utilizing “automail,” a tough, versatile metal used in robots and combat armor. After years of training, the Elric brothers set off on a quest to restore their bodies by locating the Philosopher’s Stone—a powerful gem that allows an alchemist to defy the traditional laws of Equivalent Exchange.
As Edward becomes an infamous alchemist and gains the nickname “Fullmetal,” the boys’ journey embroils them in a growing conspiracy that threatens the fate of the world.
I admit that as I’ve seen the original and read the manga, the pacing of Brotherhood seems to start off being VERY fast (I finally got used to the pacing after watching the first fifteen eps or so). Events that took up half a volume of the manga and had spread though a few episodes of the original anime were now shown in just a single episode. However, after trying to look at it from the perspective of someone who’s new to FMA (not comparing it to the manga nor the original), I believe that the pacing works and it manages to tell an intriguing story effectively with little confusion. The plot is full of clever ideas and unpredictable twists that link various parts of the story together. By the final episode, all loose ends are neatly tied up and what’s left is a hugely satisfying epilogue.
The animation in FMA Brotherhood is crisp and very well done (although it does sometimes dip a bit in quality). Compared to the original FMA it’s a bit simpler but that’s just because the original set a very high standard to follow. The facial emotions of the characters are also perfectly presented. The action scenes are brilliant and VERY well animated, with a variety of alchemy techniques and other talents being displayed nearly every episode. The various battles are consistently exciting to watch, but somehow get even better towards the end of the series.
The voice acting is of an excellent and consistent quality, and I think that pretty much all the characters have voice actors which suit their personalities. The majority of the openings/endings are a pleasure to watch due to fantastic animated sequences and theme songs. The background music which play during the episodes usually fit very well with the situation, although some tracks seem to be overused a little at first. This becomes less of a problem as the series progresses, with plenty of new music being introduced to support the story as it reaches the finale.
Moving on to the characters (best thing about this series), the original FMA focussed mainly on Ed and Al and on their struggles to regain their bodies, whereas Brotherhood also explores other characters to great detail at the same time. The majority of the spotlight is still on the two brothers, but it highlights their interactions with new characters which were not present in the original anime. New characters include a group of people from Xing (a neighbouring country), another person from the Armstrong family (who I think has become one of the coolest members of the supporting cast), and a new main antagonist. For me, the Xingese characters in particular (Ling Yao and Mei Chang among others) provide a new dimension to the FMA world, by showing us a different culture to the militaristic one we’re familiar with. I think the new antagonist is an improvement on the original FMA, as this person has a much stronger and clever link to the Elric brothers’ father. Returning characters from the original FMA, such as Mustang and Scar, are much more awesome and developed due to the fact that Brotherhood is 100% faithful to the manga. Plus, Winry Rockbell now has a much more active role in the story. I can say for sure that this anime has one of the best main/supporting casts I’ve ever seen, and you’d probably find it difficult to label any of the recurring characters (whether they are good or evil) as being either boring or unnecessary in terms of the storyline.
One of the many good things about this series is that there has been absolutely no filler at all (yes, I’m thinking of Naruto, Inuyasha, etc), which prevents the story from losing momentum. All the episodes are concise and every scene is important as part of the huge plot. The dialogue fully explains everything and is straight to the point. As multiple characters are explored there are lots of side stories, but these are all perfectly intertwined with the main story of the Elric brothers and more often than not directly influence their journey too. Like most anime series, there are things from the manga which have been left out, but these are usually just restricted to comedy moments. There has been one episode which shows a lot of flashbacks of events so far, but that’s forgiven as it shows the most epic moments of the series, and also provided us with some history on the father of the Elric brothers.
FMA Brotherhood will be sorely missed now that it’s finished. It is excellent in every aspect and has very little, if anything, that can be called a flaw (maybe rushed character development at first due to the fast pacing, but this quickly subsides). Each episode feels like it’s too short, a testimony to how much it draws you in to the story and characters. There are moments which leave you smiling, laughing, sad and simply amazed. Try this anime, it’s recommended for absolutely everyone, to newcomers and to those familiar with Fullmetal Alchemist.
I’m not a huge fan of the MAL categorical rating system, as I’ve mentioned in some of my previous reviews. I oftentimes outright ignore it. However, looking at the categories right now, I feel as though this is one instance where I can use it to talk about everything I want to so I’m going to use it.
The FMA:B plot and world-building are some of its strongest aspects. The world that it creates is an immersive, full-feeling thing with many animate pieces that move even when you aren’t looking at them. It’s an extremely creative world as well, adopting its own set of universal laws including alchemy through equivalent exchange, mind-body duality and its own interpretation of a higher power, and it sticks by these laws. Never once does the story contradict its own rules, instead using them in creative ways to build off of each other. The plot is also one of the most engaging parts of the show, unveiling itself at just the right pace to keep you interested whilst still keeping a few major cards to play at the very end. The pieces fall into place in a way that is satisfying because it simultaneously mind-blowing and obvious, and that’s one of the marks of strong storytelling.
While the FMA:B story is certainly one of the best I’ve seen, I find that I have to withhold my 10 score here on the grounds that its incredible direction and creativity are marred by some detrimental weaknesses. First of all, the exposition is handled extremely poorly. The first and third episodes feel like they’re from some shitty cartoon network show, the show blatantly ignores the show-don’t-tell rule in the entirety of its first chunk (with characters spelling out exactly what is happening and why it’s happening) and its tendency to repeat important plot points over and over again quite frankly feels insulting to me as the audience as though the show is assuming I’m not able to pay attention or figure things out for myself and need to have the fact that Ed and Al committed the sin of human transmutation and lost their bodies told to me at least twenty-five times in the first two hours of show. Secondly, there’s a period of time which I would probably refer to as the third fourth of the show (episodes 40-53ish) in which the show drags incredibly, adopting a typical battle-shonen approach of having characters engage in multiple-episode long one-on-one or two-on-one battles, giving them plenty of time to pose and stand off and monologue at each other. This isn’t how fighting or war works, and these contrived battles really take away a lot of the climactic atmosphere. Finally, the show’s ending is not nearly as satisfying as I wish it had been. The final few episodes are for the most part brilliant, but once the show plays all its cards and it’s resolution time, it wraps itself up with cliches and in-your-face themes.
The art is absolutely astounding 80% of the time and absolutely horrid 20% of the time. Thus the 8 score. The action is all stunning, the openings gorgeous, the backgrounds consistent and unique, building a sense of a real lived-in world. The character designs are sometimes a little bland, but for the most part they are memorable and the homunculi look brilliant so I don’t have any real complaints there.
What I have a problem with is the obnoxious number of times that the show goes “anime” – reducing its characters to shittily-drawn caricatures and its animation to blocky, looped motion. Usually this is used during the shows attempts at humor, which I’ll talk about later, but most of the time it was just extremely cringe-inducing and distracting, ruining the sense of continuity and immersion in this world. The show obviously wants you to take it seriously (it sure loves its drama) and when Al is portrayed as a big grey mound with a squiggle for a mouth it makes this difficult. There’s a difference between having your character goof around and having the show itself goof around. It almost feels like a laugh-track, telling the audience “this is the funny part!”
For the most part, however, the art is gorgeous. When it counts, it shines, and that’s really what matters.
Undeniably the strongest aspect of the show. I have no complaints whatsoever. The soundtrack is never distracting but always effective, the voice-actors (especially for Bradley and Al) absolutely nailed it and the openings and endings… dear lord. It’s been said before, but the openings and endings to FMA:B are some of the very best ever made, both in sound and visuals. They tell small stories of their own. They set the tone for the episode and for their section of the show as a whole. I especially loved ‘Golden Time Lover’ and ‘Chemistry’, but I have to give special mention to SID’s ‘Rain’. As far as I’m concerned, that opening could have been the end of the show. It single-handedly established a sense of finality, a long-endured struggle of these characters and their causes. Everyone is portrayed as exhausted, weak and full of both despair and determination: protagonist and antagonist alike, fighting under the rain. Not for glory, not for honor, but just for the one thing they care most for. Personally, it made me extremely hyped for the final stretch of the show. It wasn’t quite what we got, but at least we got some of it.
I believe that there is an intense connection between a show’s opening and the audience’s willingness to appreciate it. It is very likely that the intensity of many fanbases is in part due to the ability that openings such as these have to maintain feelings in regards to the show, oftentimes perhaps even distorting or altering memories of the show itself into what the opening would have you believe the show was like rather than what it was actually like. Obvious examples that jump to mind are Sword Art Online’s “Courage” and Guilty Crown’s “My Dearest”. Remember how those shows were absolutely nothing like that? No?? IT’S TOO LATE FOR YOU
But I digress.
I would definitely call out the show’s characters on being the weakest link and the most undeserving of the praise that the show receives. For starters, the writing is often clunky and awkward, but that’s not the main issue. It’s because most of them are not really characters: they’re plot devices with one or two distinguishing traits tacked on. They’re entirely predictable, not because they feel like real people but because they do the same things over and over again. Al talks about what he’ll do when he gets his body back. Ed talks about how they’ll find a way and how they will atone for their mistakes and etc. It’s not that it’s melodrama: it’s the fact that it’s the SAME melodrama over and over again. It wasn’t until sometime past episode 30 that Ed stopped sounding perpetually like a broken record and started to feel as though he were actually developing, but even then he was really just defined by his arc and not by any amount of complexity.
And that’s the pitfall that so many of these characters fall into. If your character’s only real traits beyond their development for the sake of the show are “hates being called short” and “hates milk” they’re really more of a tool with some googly eyes stuck on to them. Other characters are even worse: Armstrong is manly. His sister is more manly. Mustang wants to be Fuhrer and avenge Hughes (he’s even got this great relationship with Hawkeye that could have been seriously compelling if they ever had any real conversations about anything besides “we must overthrow the government” and “Hughes!” over and over again). Winry likes Ed and automail. Ling wants to be emperor. Now, FMA:B is a complex, busy show. I could understand if it didn’t have the time to make these characters anything more than chess pieces for its grand and elaborate plot, giving them a few distinguishing traits because that’s really all it can manage without dragging itself out immensely. But it DOES have the time: it has all the time it spends having Ed yell about being called short. It has all the time it spends having Armstrong pull of his shirt and yell about being manly. It has all the time it spends having Ed and Al talk about getting their goddamn bodies back over and fucking over again as though I would somehow manage to forget it. Ling passing out from lack of food. May fawning comically over Ed. Mustang is antisocial LOL. The same gags, over and over again, barely even rehashed in any original way. Not only do they become painful to watch, they devour all of the development that this shallow cast of characters could have had to make me actually invested in them. They’re far too static, with most of them having a single change or revelation over the course of the show’s 64 episodes in order to indicate that they have grown as a person. But a good character has so much more than that: what kind of music do these people listen to? Why? Who are their role models? Why? What books do they like? What are their favorite places to eat? What do they appreciate in the people they’re close to?? What are their personal histories…
Oh wait, sorry! I didn’t mean to ask that last one! Please, I take it back! NOOOOOOO…
Yeah so I forgot to mention something. Screw all that stuff about making these characters possess complex personalities, FMA:B has a better way to define them.
Everyone who’s remotely relevant has a traumatic backstory. It’s a harsh world, sure. I get that. Here’s the issue: people are introduced and then defined through their trauma. Now this isn’t Angel Beats bad, where horrible things happen to perfectly innocent people for no reason. Most of the tragedy is partially a result of the decisions of the characters involved, and their resulting struggle is a combination of having to cope with the consequences and with themselves and their mistakes. However, this cannot be used as a SUBSTITUTE for character development. A supplement, sure, but I still remember in episode four when Ed and Al meet a state alchemist who literally introduces himself with something along the lines of “my wife left me because we were too poor” before he even tells them his goddamn NAME. Here, come on in! Take a seat! Would you like some sorrow pie or tragic backstory cake? We have plenty! Ed and Al’s dad left, then their mom died, then they f*cking ripped their bodies apart. Winry’s parents were murdered in cold blood. Mustang had to kill lots of people. Armstrong had to kill lots of people. Everyone had to kill lots of people. Scar watched everyone he loved get killed, and then had to kill lots of people. These are always the first things we find out about people, and then for the rest of the show they are defined almost exclusively by them. If anyone is overly happy and wholesome, it means something horrid is going to happen to them. It’s basic emotional manipulation. Look at this adorable little girl and her dog! Dead. Look at this smiling, picturesque family! Husband dead. Dead. Everyone innocuously happy has to die or lose someone close to them. The more broken and internally conflicted you are, the safer you are. There’s no need to pile more grief on Scar, so he’s relatively safe.
Yes, the characters suffer from repeatable and preventable problems. They exist mainly to function as morals-in-a-bottle with gags tacked on to them. They’re difficult to relate to, because all we know about them is whatever themes they embody and one or two dumb jokes. Ikuhara writes characters more personable than this, and his stories don’t make sense on PURPOSE. I did give the characters a 6 though, and there are reasons for that.
First off, despite their lack of humanization the characters complete their tasks of being walking themes with relative effectiveness. This isn’t anywhere near Log Horizon S1 bad. These characters are here for a reason, they represent something, and they represent those things well. Sure, they could have easily been better, but they fulfill their purpose and for that alone they are not failures. I will also give special mention to Scar, who, while still actively defined by his trauma was executed far more impressively than the other characters. This is probably in part because the show actually viewed him as morally ambiguous as opposed to just making the character FEEL morally ambiguous when there was really no doubt that the show wanted you to think this was a ‘good guy’ (*cough* Mustang)
Second off, there are some exceptions to the rule. Most of my complaints thusfar have been leveled at the shows protagonists. They are the ones that suffer from dismal repetition and blatant violation of show-don’t-tell. Where the show does excel is with its antagonists. There are seven homunculi in the show, incarnations of the seven deadly sins, and they so utterly clobber their “good-guy” counterparts in terms of being engaging, personable subtle characters that it isn’t even funny. Their intensive backstories are never shoved in your face, their apparent contradictions are given plenty of time to be uncovered by the viewer, and the deliciously ironic conclusions to their arcs are done tactfully. Many times I found myself actively routing for them because they were just so much more interesting and well-executed. I would happily watch an “Adventures of the Homunculus” spinoff cataloging the several hundred years most of them lived before the start of the series.
I was constantly gripped by the plot. I actively looked forward to the openings and endings. The art was oftentimes orgasmic. The homunculi made me want to start looking for ingredients to make a philosopher’s stone with. However, I was constantly frustrated by the show’s apparent lack of respect for its viewers and by its absolutely abysmal humor. I’ve already said it, but I don’t know if I’ve driven home just how infuriating it is to have exposition repeated to you over and f*cking over again and how cringe-inducing it is when somebody violates the show-don’t-tell rule at extremely tense and crucial moments. It actively snapped me out of the experience whenever Ed and Al had a conversation about getting their bodies back after the 5th time it happened, and when God literally spelled out for Ed that he had discovered the meaning of life I facepalmed hard. That’s not how you do themes, man. That just comes off as preachy. That’s something the show suffered constantly from: it felt incredibly preachy. It’s character’s speeches about the answers they had found to their struggles felt much more pointed at the audience than at anyone in the show they were talking to, and that bothered the ever-loving crap out of me. And have I mentioned the humor? For every joke the show has that lands, it tries about five others that fall on their face. As I’ve already mentioned, they’re repetitive and used as a substitute for meaningful character interactions and development. It seems as thought the show is trying to use them as a counterbalance for its immense amount of melodrama, but instead they end up just ripping apart the tone and stagnating the story. Despite these gripes, I did overall enjoy the experience and felt that the positives did inevitably outweigh the negatives so I will happily give it a 7 for enjoyment.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not a masterpiece. It’s a very respectable, unique, inspired and creative show and it’s definitely a classic. I would happily recommend this to most people. However, don’t go in with irrational expectations. It’s enjoyable, it’s engaging, it will definitely give you plenty to think about, but in my personal opinion it gets a little too much praise and a little too much hype. I probably would have enjoyed it more myself if I hadn’t heard nothing but angelic worship for it before going into it. I formally apologize to any huge fans of the show that I may have offended: it’s not by any means a bad show! I don’t give out 7s all that lightly, believe me. This is merely an argument against FMA:B being the be-all-end-all of anime. Thanks for reading if you made it through that wall of text, and have a nice day!
One of the issues at hand seems to be ownership as producers, writers and directors all seem to want the work to be reflective of their style and perception, and in order to stamp their mark on a show they will makes numerous unnecessary changes or additions. Admittedly there are times when the adaptation supersedes the original work, but more often than not the result is at best a decent anime, and at worst utter twaddle.
And then there’s the other side of the coin, where the anime adaptation sticks to the storyline set out in the original work. Normally one would expect these to be superior works, but in a strange irony this is not always the case. The problem with these types of adaptations is that the original work may not have been very good, or even have a suitable narrative, to begin with, and turning them into anime only seems to exacerbate their inherent flaws.
Fortunately, the Full Metal Alchemist franchise manages to steer clear almost all of these pitfalls. The problem is, there are no other anime that have so evenly split the viewing public’s opinion between the two versions of the series. Unlike the 2003 adaptation, Brotherhood is a faithful representation of Arakawa Hiromu’s hit manga, and while many fans of the franchise laud it as the best thing since sliced bread, there are a number who consider the original anime version to be the superior tale.
But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Many people will already be familiar with the particulars of the story, and in a very real sense the common perception is well formed. Unfortunately, one of the problems with liking something too much is that one becomes blinded to its flaws, and while Brotherhood has very few noticeable ones where the narrative is concerned, this also serves to make them stand out.
The story is told in a very straight forward, no nonsense manner that is kind of refreshing given the penchant for filler episodes. The issue though, is that the content of the tale is much lighter in tone, much more typically “shounen” in its essence, than that of the first adaptation. One of the reasons for this is because the undercurrent of obsession amongst the main characters peters out towards the end of the story – a stark contrast to the ending in the first adaptation. Instead, these obsessive behaviours are effectively “de-humanised” by pushing them on to the non human characters.
There is a very clear sense that the plot is geared towards a more typical shounen standpoint and mentality, and while the whole still works very well as a story, one does have to wonder if the writers for the first adaptation didn’t steal a march on Arakawa. It’s possible that she had to change her idea of how the tale should develop because the first anime version took a much darker path than most other shounen franchises.
That said, the ending allows for a degree of catharsis that was missing from the first adaptation, and although there are some broad similarities between the two versions at times, in truth they are as different as chalk and cheese. As an added bonus this series is far less dependent on random comedic moments, and the difference this makes to the flow of the plot is palpable when the two versions are directly compared.
One big advantage that Brotherhood has is that the seven year gap has allowed for improvements in various aspects of production, and it shows in a number of areas. The animation is more fluid than before, although admittedly the difference isn’t really obvious at first and only really appears during large scale action set pieces. The character designs will be very familiar to any fan, but are subtly sharper and more defined than in the previous series.
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest plus points for Brotherhood is actually its wealth of interesting characters.
As one would expect, a number of the characters from the first adaptation appear in Brotherhood, but there are also several who are notable for their absence as they do no appear in the manga. Instead, a horde of new characters appear throughout the course of the series, many of whom have their own goals, ideals and personalities. Indeed the biggest difference between the two versions is the sheer number of people who all seem to have some impact on the story.
For much of the series Edward and Alphonse Elric behave in a manner that many who have watched the first adaptation will find familiar, and one of the nice things about this is that familiarity is used to very subtly develop the pair into very different characters. The change in their personas happens very gradually, but by the end of Brotherhood one can see just how much growth the pair has undergone.
Strangely enough, the most interesting additions to the series are actually Yao Ling and Olivier Mira Armstrong (Alex Louis Armstrong’s older sister – but without all the muscle flexing), two of the supporting roles. Yao Ling presents a strange dichotomy for the series to tackle, and while he doesn’t develop as much as he possibly could have, this is offset by the moral and ethical dilemmas inherent in his situation towards the end of the series. On the other Olivier Armstrong possesses some of the strongest characterisation in the whole story, and while she is without doubt a major player at certain points of the show, what makes her interesting is the fact that the viewer is never quite sure of her goals.
There are a number of very strong characterisations in the series, but one of the things that is a little strange is the difference between the two versions where the homunculi are concerned. Unlike the first adaptation the homunculi in Brotherhood have very different origins, even though they still deal with similar obsessions. This raises an interesting perspective on the series as a whole, and is one of the reasons why Brotherhood is far more of a shounen tale than the original adaptation. The plot takes on a subtly lighter tone, even though it may not seem that way, once their origins are understood, and the main reason for this is the “de-humanisation” I mentioned earlier. The viewer is aware that these characters, though human-like in form, are not linked to humans in any way, and this awareness acts as a buffer so the viewer is less likely to question the actions and behaviour of the homunculi. In essence one is subjected to the ethos that monsters are evil and do bad things, which raises some interesting issues where Kimblee, Greed and the military’s generals are concerned.
The quality of the acting is possibly the main reason why Brotherhood is able to pull off its feat of developing not only the familiar characters, but also the new additions. Paku Romi and Kugimiya Rie reprise their roles as Edward and Alphonse Elric, but with the exception of a few roles, the remaining cast are very different from the first outing. Now normally one might consider this a recipe for disaster, but it’s a testament to the quality of not only the actor’s abilities, but also the scriptwriters, that this series easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the original.
The music is very well composed and produced, and the series has a surprisingly large number of opening and ending themes, especially for 64 episode series. That said, fans of Brotherhood may find themselves in a bit of a quandary, especially if they prefer the OPs and EDs from the first series. As for the sound effects, they are handled in a decidedly competent manner that makes one wonder why other shounen anime seem to have trouble in this department. Granted there are occasions when there’s a bit of a cacophony, but in general the effects are clear, bold, and well choreographed.
Now unlike most viewers, I actually consider Brotherhood to be equal to the first series, and I don’t really fall on one side or another. Like a number of fans my preference is for the much darker tone of the first series, however the cathartic ending of Brotherhood, as well as the improvements in production and animation, go some way to balancing the scales. Some people prefer the somewhat darker nature to Ed’s character from the first adaptation, but in all honesty the rationale behind the two versions is very different, and while they’re broadly the same character, that perception is only really valid until the last few episodes of either show. The same principle applies to Alphonse, Roy Mustang, in fact to most of the characters.
That said, Brotherhood is just as entertaining and involving as its predecessor, and it’s a testament to Arakawa’s skill as a mangaka that she has been able to produce a tale that, at the very least, rivals the original anime adaptation.Yes, Brotherhood is more typically shounen than the other version, but the nice thing about this is that fans are given two very good versions of the same story, and that is something rare in anime.
Now if only all remakes, revisions or reboots could be this good.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
3. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei
4. Cross Game
5. Major S6
6. Nodame Cantabile: Finale
7. InuYasha: Kanketsu-hen
10. Katekyo Hitman Reborn!