They’re the best Anime that 1997 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Battle Athletess Daiundoukai (TV), Kyuuketsuhime Miyu (TV), Saber Marionette J, and more!
10: Battle Athletess Daiundoukai (TV)
English: Battle Athletes Victory
MAL Score: 6.87
Akari Kanzaki has just joined an all-girls academy in hopes of entering the University Satellite, an elite sports training facility. She wants to win the title of Cosmo Beauty – a title held years ago by her mother. It’s not an easy task for her as fear, doubt and peer pressure get in her way, but friends, rivals and fans slowly encourage her to overcome her obstacles and become the best of the Battle Athletes.
Our story opens in a training ground in Antarctica where a bunch of young female athletes are racing across an obstacle course while dragging giant steamrollers. It urns out that after an event that wiped out most of humanity, humans rebuilt and set up training schools to try and get the top athletes. The best students go to a satellite University to compete for the coveted “Cosmo Beauty” title. What I like about this series is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. It uses all the regular elements of a sport anime, but it uses them in a tongue in cheek way, mixes in sci-fi elements and just plays up their absurdity in general. So, while it is predictable, the comedic elements keep the viewer invested and keep the action interesting. That being said, the series has its problems too. The biggest being that it’s pretty racist. For most of the athletes, the series will give some specific country or place of origin: China, Osaka, Russia, the United States, a specific encampment on the moon and so on. There’s one character, however, whose area of origin is a continent. Her name is Tanya and her area of origin is “Africa.” Not like that’s a huge continent or anything. To make it worse, she’s a very… “primitive,” is unfortunately the most apt term, character. She’s superstitious, she runs on all fours, she’s simple minded to an absurd degree, she even howls at one point. Who knows, maybe the nations of Africa were too busy making artistic and scientific advancements, but they didn’t want to offend the rest of the world so they found the dumbest, but most athletic girl they could, made up a bunch of superstitions to teach her and sent her on her way. They bet on the rest of the world being too clueless to notice that Africa has multiple countries. Another issue is that the het romance, although there’s very little of it, is really creepy and involves major age and power imbalances. On the positive side, the yuri romance, which there’s a lot more of, is pretty cute and well handled. Was Hideyuki trying to actively encourage lesbianism or did he just figure people would accept the het regardless of how screwed up it was and, consequently, he didn’t bother trying to make it good? The world may never know but this is the writer behind Read or Die, so the former seems likely.
The major characters are, for the most part, decently fleshed out and developed. The major exception being the aforementioned racist stereotype. One nice little touch is that Akari’s development arc is pretty realistic. She goes through both good and difficult times with certain elements becoming prominent based on which end of the spectrum she’s on. Each cycle she goes through becomes demonstrative of her growth. She becomes better at handling both extremes with maturity and grace as things progress. I also really liked Akari’s love interest, Kris. She’s just amazing.
The art is nothing special. It’s pretty standard late 90s fare. About the most visually interesting it gets is towards the end when certain elements are introduced that I can’t really go into without giving spoilers. That being said, it is competent artwork.
The voice acting in this is really good. You have some really great actresses like Hisakawa Aya, Kawakami Tomoko and Itou Miki being among the biggest names. The music is pretty nice as well.
The ho-yay factor is a 6/10. Primarily because of Akari and Kris. Although Akari and Ichino have their moments as well. There’s also the dynamic between Lahrii and Mylandah.
And that’s Battle Athletes. To be honest, I rather liked it, in spite of its racism. It’s a fun series with some good characters, and one really bad one. The jokes are usually very effective, Akari and Kris have a lot of cute moments and it is an entertaining watch, if you can ignore or forgive its issues. Final rating: 7/10. Next week I’ll look at Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge.
What is this anime about?
Anime turns from light comedy into quite serious spokon with drama about girls who try to overdo their own abilities, with blood, jealousy, broken bones and rivalry until the end. Sometimes serious scenes are mixed with slice of lifecomedy parts.
Anime pays particular attention to such kinds of sport as running and swimming, and also pole vaulting, tennis, air hockey and so on.
Also near to the end you will be surprised by some entertaining plot twist.
Mankind was nearly destroyed 3000 years ago, but then Earth was recovered and humanity colonized Solar system. Sport became important part of people`s everyday life. Sport academies were founded on each planet to find the best athletes to attend the University Satellite.
There the best sport girls can take part in The Big Competition to become a Cosmo Beauty – the best athlet in the universe. Why only girls can attend this university you will find out when that plot twist happen.
Main heroine is cute and gentle Akari Kanzaki. Her mother was the legendary Cosmo Beauty who set lots of records. Akari will have to go through the hard way and turn from a weak girl, who hides from the troubles in the cardboard box with inscription “Akari house” to strong athlet to keep her promise given to her mother. I liked Akari so much actually.
All other characters have their own peculiarities too. Ayla and Jessie compete so hard that fall unconscious while swimming, Ichino starts envy to Akari when she becomes better that her, but fate punishes Ichino for this wrongdoing.
Anna does a terrible thing to her sister to attend the university. Chris torments between her religion and sport, and also she is a lesbian and loves Akari. Tanya is mischievous african girl who worships to totems.
Average for those years, but I liked it.
Nice OP song “Tsubasa” by Yukari Asakura. Also I liked voice of Akari`s seiyuu Rio Natsuki.
Sometimes sport competitions in this anime finish a little bit naive, nevertheless it was so pleasant to watch. I definately recommend it for people who like sport, drama, girls and the relationships between them.
One of these young hopefuls is Akari Kanzaki, who… Let’s just face it, is completely hopeless. She’s slow, fragile, and is just as clueless as to what she’s doing at the Antarctic training site as we are. Being the daughter of Tomoe Midoh, the greatest Cosmo Beauty in the history of the Great competition, she has the genetic make-up that any other competitor would kill for, but her athletic abilities, and her attitude towards training, make her long-lasting lock on last place feel even more painful to watch. While some of her fellow students may have a soft spot for the doe-eyed lump, others see her as an insult to everything they’ve dedicated their lives towards, and aren’t shy about letting her know it. But could the apathetic Akari be more than meets the eye? Could her exterior, which is about as threatening as a rag doll, be hiding an untapped well of talent that’s just begging to be discovered? And even going beyond that, is there some darker truth hiding behind the Great competition itself? As the competition heats up, and the champs rise above the chumps, the 1003’rd Cosmo Beauty may turn out to be the most important one of all.
For Battle Athletes victory, we return to AIC, or Anime International company, only this time we’re looking at one of their earliest works, which came out in the late nineties. The series will be 20 years old this October, and as such, it looks extremely dated. This was a time when the moe style was nowhere to be seen, anime had to work harder to look good regardless of budget, and character designs ranged from cartoony to realistic, while rarely ever straying away from believable human anatomy. Artwork was a lot less polished, and physiques were exaggerated a lot more than they are today. For the time it came out in, Battle Athletes victory looks really good… When it wants to. The animation in this title is heavily inconsistent, and it works for the most part. For athletic competitions that can’t be written off with cheap budget saving tricks(And a few of them definitely are), the animation can be straight up gorgeous. I’ve heard it said that one of the most difficult things to animate is character’s legs when they’re walking and running, and yeah, I’ve seen enough failed attempts to understand this.
A lot of work goes into the simple visual of feet hitting and pressing back off of the ground, which is why a lot of animation tends to focus on above the feet, if they’re not just resorting to bouncing the image of the character’s face. In spite of this, I’m not exaggerating when I say that Battle Athletes Victory makes running animation look easy. They can pull it off at any speed, from fast running that doesn’t give you time to analyze it, to slow-motion running that perfectly captures every single movement of the body to the point that I have to wonder just how much live action research they must have done beforehand. A lot of money clearly got poured into these scenes, because most of the other sports featured in this show aren’t really as impressive. That’s not to say they look bad, but there’s a lot of close-ups, a lot of short bursts of action, and occasionally even repeated animation cycles that are meant to give the illusion of physical activity, and thanks to some smart editing, it almost always works. About half of the action in this series is running, of course, so it’s still an impressive looking series.
Well, for the most part, at least. The budget gets spread too thin at times, and when they run into trouble with it, the quality just abruptly tanks. There are sequences, and a couple of entire episodes, that look less like a high budget show from the late nineties and more like a low budget show from the early nineties. A lot of the material between competitions is just characters talking, interacting and having the camera freeze on them during internal monologues, and this does worlds of good for the budget, but at it’s worst, even scenes like those wind up looking like ass. The character designs, while imaginative, don’t follow the most attractive color palette, making the artwork look kinda grungy at times, and since the characters are mostly designed to carry realistic human anatomy, there are only a few of them that can get away with deformed anime expressions… Some of the more serious characters, such as Akari’s rival Jessie, just look terrifying when attempting to do the same. The color saturation and use of lighting are beautiful, but there are too many instances where the artwork looks rough, and over-all unfinished.
The music, while pretty repetitive, is unbelievable. As with any good sports-related media, the story has a deeply emotional feel to it, and the music composed by Yoshikazu Suo was clearly designed to augment these emotions. Some of the happier moments between competitions will be played alongside the upbeat “There’s no Point Unless You Goal,” actual competition will be accompanied by the intense pounding beat of Battle Program, and for those more devastating and heart-breaking moments… Of which there is a surprising amount… We’ll get the violin track Adagio of Despair. Character themes were very thoughtfully put together and instantly reminiscent of the characters they’re attached to… Even when that’s primarily because they’re based on the races of extremely stereotypical characters, which i’m going to get to in a minute… But the highlight is Wings, the opening to the series, and easily on of my favorite of all time. Joyful and inspirational, and full of imagery that gives each character a fair dose of screen time while throwing in subtle hints about the series. Too bad you only get to see it once per disk… No, I’m not kidding. The same can be said for the sweet Honeybee, the closing theme.
The English dub is a bit hit or miss, but I still prefer it over the Japanese by a great deal, even if the writers made a few embarrassing mistakes in it, such as mistakenly writing a flashback scene as a current scene, or having Akari say another character’s name before actually learning it. I can kind of imagine mistakes like those happening in the old days, but it would be unheard of today. Hey, at least they didn’t try to crowbar in any pointless references to obscure current events, am I right? Anyway, the cast is full of Geneon actors from the late nineties, including the legendary Lia Sargent as the main character Akari, whom she plays very straightforward, innocent and full of heart, even as she grows from a spoiled and co-dependent slacker into a stronger, more confidant idealist, constantly changing while still sounding like the same person at heart. Wendee Lee plays the gruff Osakan native Itchino, in what’s probably one of my favorite roles of hers, as she balances the characters softer and tougher sides fluidly. Steve Blum also gets a small role as the University Satellite headmaster, Grant Oldman, although it’s not a very demanding role, his presence is still appreciated.
Bridget Hoffman pulls double duty as both the Chinese stereotype character Ling Pha, which she performs in a comedically exaggerated accent, and then in a much more dignified role as Anna, who… Like one of her more recent characters… Is a sweet, diminutive girl with a dark, potentially dangerous side that’s hiding beneath the surface. As a treat to any Trigun fans that happen to be reading this, Dorothy Elias-Fahn plays Kris Christopher, a strange but strong-willed girl who has a deep, unrequited crush on Akari. So it’s basically the Milly and Meryl pairing you thought would never happen. Also, as an interesting for Ghost in the Shell fans, two different Motoko Kusanagi actors… Mary Elizabeth McGlynn from the anime and Mimi Woods from the video game, play characters that never actually meet or speak to each other. They’re both good, but McGlynn is phenomenal at how she plays an emotionless character who finds emotion through competition. Julie Maddalena probably had the only bad performance, but I don’t really blame her, because she was playing an annoying and entirely problematic character, so she was probably doing the best she could with what she was given. Finally, we get Jamieson Price, and as much as I’d like to go into detail about why he’s so amazing in this, his character is unfortunately mired in spoilers.
So if you haven’t realized by now, this show is really freaking weird. It’s possibly even one of the weirdest anime I’ve ever seen. There are a ton of strange anime out there that just shove weirdness into your face until it hits diminishing returns and becomes passé, such as Hare + Guu and Excel Saga, but with victory, the weirdness is paced in a way that it can keep consistently shocking you, as each strange detail that gets added to the story makes it’s impact and then settles neatly into the reality of the series’ universe, becoming commonplace for both the viewer and the characters… Until the next kooky detail comes along. So what if one of the main characters has a pet cow that’s allowed to live in her dorm with her? That’s just Gyuube, don’t mind her. So what if an alien turns a girl into a car? those aliens are just like that. So what if one of the show’s only male characters needs a constant supply of chocolate to survive? So what if some characters have unexplained jewels embedded in the foreheads, while other girls don’t? This series takes place in a strange world, with a strange premise, and it seems to revel in the idea of completely ignoring your expectations.
To it’s credit, though, it’s not like it tries to trick you into letting your guard down for it. Victory lets you know right off the bat how weird it’s going to be right from the first shot of episode 1, where the athletes at the Antarctica Training Center are in the middle of an important assessment test, racing while pulling gigantic rolling weights behind them. They’re not just pulling these multi-ton items behind them unhindered, however… They’re moving over rough terrain, avoiding booby traps, and even using their weights as weapons against each other. The results are of course catastrophic, as them main character(Whose been in dead last nearly the entire race) accidentally launches into the air and takes out a media reporter’s hot air balloon. And if that’s not enough, right in the second episode, there’s a biking competition where the contestants are riding on a roller-coaster track, which is designed not only to go up and down, around curves and loop-de-loop like a real roller coaster, but which can even be moved and rearranged DURING THE RACE from a control room overlooking the action.
If you can get through episode 2 without picking up on the fact that this series will leave no shark unjumped, you must have been fiddling with your phone the entire time. Not everything got the sci-fi treatment, of course… We get more normal sports like racing, soccer, tennis and the like. But when it came to making up weird sports, this series goes balls to the wall with it’s level of creativity and imagination. Like a game of pool where the balls are huge, and you have to break them by bowling. Or zero-gravity lacrosse that adds several new dimensions to the game. Then there’s my personal favorite, when they play air hockey, but the puck is as big as a dinner plate, and it’s literally hovering in mid-air. There are others, of course, but in most of these events, the human limit is constantly being pushed and broken, even before we see runners that can accelerate fast enough to create shock waves, and there’s seemingly no rule against injuring your opponent in the middle of battle, as people being taken out with grueling injuries is seen as little other than an elimination.
I’d normally be tearing apart a show like this over how ridiculous it is, how little sense it makes, and how almost none of it could feasibly happen in the real world, even in a dystopian future. Hell, there ARE some plot details I can’t get over, but that’s just the thing… They’re plot details, not connected to the weird pieces of sports logic throughout the series. What ultimately saves this show from being too stupid to excuse is just how sincere it all is. Yeah, the featured sporting events may be ridiculously beyond human capabilities,
but to it’s credit, the athletes performing them are constantly TRAINING themselves beyond human capabilities, and the final story arc gives us an actual solid reason(albeit still just as ridiculous) for why they need to train to surpass conceivable human limits. It never feels like their abilities are undeserved, either… The characters train their asses off, and even when you don’t get to see them do so, you can easily tell from their attitudes what their approach is to training as well as just how serious they are about it. Those that don’t are considered ‘naturals,’ and are treated as anomalies.
So, ultimately, what saves this series from being laughable is it’s mastery over character writing. Every single character who gets even a mild level of importance is given a distinct arc, full of development and memorable moments. Akari easily gets the most of it, because in a way that’s almost reminiscent of Goku, every time she breaks into a new level of ability, there’s another major lesson she has to learn, and another serious challenge for her to overcome, and they all seem to make sense, despite rarely being predictable and once or twice relying on some shaky logic. I went into some detail about this in my review of Gunbuster last year, but throughout the course of the story, Akari is forced to evolve and grow as a character, from a whiny, spoiled little doll to a fierce competitor who can shave significant time off of her running speed just by reading a tip in a book. She has to overcome limits and challenges that are really more psychological than physical, and she’s not the only one. Everyone in this show has demons they have to deal with in order to grow and develop.
There’s a lot of ways to bring depth to your writing, and one of those ways is to have your story be about something. It can be a theme, it can be an idea, but it has to be consistent. Battle Athletes victory is a story about Truth. I don’t mean abstractly, like learning how not to lie, I mean deep, complex truth. The truths we hide from others, the truths we hide from ourselves, and even the truths that get buried throughout history. I said before that there’s a lot of character development in this series, but more specifically, every character has a hidden truth… Sometimes multiple… They they need to uncover within themselves in order to grow. An emotionless girl who’s been trained to be an athletic machine will be forced to realize that the only thing she truly cares about is beating her rival. A prideful overachiever will be devastated to realize there’s another plane of greatness she’ll never be able to reach. The goofball will realize just how much winning the competition meant to her, when she no longer has food or friends around to comfort her. You may train your best friend, only to be forced to acknowledge how much being better than them means to you when she starts to close in on you. Hell, the most dishonest character in the cast, Ling Pha, is arguably the only one who never really develops.
But the most important truth in the series, to me, is the one that rang true to me a few years ago. I’ve seen this series multiple times, and one of those rewatches happened when I was having trouble at work. I was slowing down, not really giving it my all, and after a while of it, I got called into the office. They asked me what was wrong, why I wasn’t producing results, and I said I didn’t know, claiming that I was busting my ass… Words I almost choked on, because even I knew they were bullshit. This all changed when I realized that I was doing the same thing Akari was doing. Whenever I was faced with a task that looked too difficult, I’d automatically accept that it was impossible, and I’d use that excuse to not try. I didn’t have a friend like Itchan to wake me up to this fact, but it was true, I was sabotaging myself, making excuses for failures that hadn’t happened yet. As soon as I realized this, I put a stop to it. I decided that no job was impossible, no matter how unreasonable. Ever since that day, I’ve never given up, I’ve never made excuses for myself, and I’ve continued to be employed as a result. It’s easy for a story to teach life lessons to kids, but when you can change the life and outlook of an adult viewer, there’s something special there.
Having said that, this series isn’t perfect. It has some flaws, and they go deep. There are constant logical derps… The true nature of the character Eric might have you pulling your hair out… But it’s biggest problem is it’s over-use of harmful and insulting stereotypes. The Russian girl is an emotionless machine, the Chinese girl is a dishonest cheater who’s always trying to sell stuff to people, the lesbian is a predatory lech who pays no regard to consent or mutual attraction(think the black girl from Pitch Perfect but not quite as bad), and the black girl… Holy shit, the black girl. Yeah, there’s a character here who’s from Africa, and her character is so racist that even Paula Dean would be insulted. She’s likeable, don’t get me wrong, but if this were an American cartoon, it would be one of the Censored 11. She runs around on all fours, uses her nose like a blood hound, is a “Natural runner,” and there’s an entire episode dedicated to her running around school in a tribal uniform, worshipping a totem god and painting everyone’s faces. There’s also a lot of lame jokes, such as the gimmick of a trio of hijackers, and… Okay, honestly, the whole episode that began the University Satellite arc kinda sucked.
It’s second biggest problem, right behind the racism issue, is the availability of the series. I mean, the lack thereof. Battle Athletes victory was available from Pioneer, which would eventually become Geneon, which would eventually go out of business. It’s been out of print for almost 20 years, and I can’t find any information about anybody trying to rescue it. If that’s not bad enough, the DVDs that it’s actually available on are pieces of shit, dated in all the worst ways. First of all, as I mentioned before, you only get the opening once per disk. That’s because it uses Dragonball Z’s marathon feature, only it’s not a feature, you don’t have a choice. Opening, three to four back-to-back episodes, closing. And the dubbers plastered white text over the opening instead of trying to avoid blocking the visuals. You can find these DVDs for fairly cheap online, and if you’re trying to get all 8 of them, you may even get lucky with a fifty dollar bundle on Ebay. The original OVA is also available stateside, but the manga is not. but seriously, if you’re reading this and actually have the right connections, PLEASE get this series rereleased. Discotek’s been into that kind of thing lately.
It’s not often that you hear about an anime changing someone’s life. They can turn you off from violence, help you to overcome prejudices, change your attitude towards your own life, make you appreciate your loved ones in new ways… Battle Athletes victory is a series that literally, tangibly changed my life, and I’m pretty sure I’d have lost my job and a significant portion of my livelihood without it. I won’t BS you by calling it a masterpiece, that’s not true… The visual quality is inconsistent, the logic isn’t always sound, it’s only black character is too much like Rob Schneider from The Animal, but if you’re able to get past all of that, this series is beautiful. It’s full of heart, has an undeniable passion for athletics and competition, and it’s always finding new ways to make you cry, without having to rely on any cliché modern day tragedy porn. There’s nothing manipulative about it, just genuine emotion and sincere sportsmanship. The sci-fi elements are also a blast, and while the final stretch may have jumped the shark a little too far… Even I’ll admit that… It’s very rarely unenjoyable, even then. It’s an obscure title, but it’s well worth the effort it’ll take to find it. I give Battle Athletes Victory an 8/10.
9: Kyuuketsuhime Miyu (TV)
English: Vampire Princess Miyu
MAL Score: 7.14
Evil Shinma (shape-shifting monsters and vampires) roam the Earth on a mission to unleash their darkness upon the Human race. Miyu Royal Princess from the dark is the Chosen One—the one being who must banish the Evil Shinma from the Earth. She has the power to offer Humans the gift of eternal happiness, yet is herself, trapped between two worlds; destined for perpetual solitude and internal conflict.
Miyu’s only companion is Larva, once an evil Shimna; now her devoted guardian. Together they share a dark journey through the weakness of the human heart and the tragic loss of innocence. Cut off from humanity by the knowledge of what she is, Miyu lives an endless quest as both the hunter and the hunted, on the edge of darkness.
The series because it’s longer has different strengths and weaknesses compared to the OVA.
The first 10+ (too many) episodes follow the formula of
1. Miyu + classmates and how their relationships begin/grow
2. Some shinma appears
3. bad things happen
4. Miyu and Larva defeat the shinma and
5. There are consequences
After a while it got really boring. The only excitement was trying to guess what form the shinma would take. There was reuse of a lot of the frames and the plot got repetitive and predictable, which made this less exciting than the OVA.
On the plus side, interweaved into the plot was the continuing story of Reiha, another shinma who has an antagonistic relationship with Miyu. In fact the character background episodes for Larva, Reiha and Miyu are easily the best episodes in the series. Notice how good I am at not really giving out any spoilers ! <(^.^)>
Tension builds up until the last 2 episodes (the climax) which are easily worth a 9 in plot/story. The ending was much better than the entire series. However, to be fair, having had to sit through 18ish repetition/boredom to watch 8-9 good episodes made me unable to rate this series any better than a 6 overall.
I really did like the haunting flute theme tho!
The action scenes are interesting, but are clearly meant to complement the character moments, not the other way around. With tinges of nihilism and a taste of inevitable suffering, I found this series had a fairly moody tone. I recommend this one for the patient. ^_^
Miyu and Larva are such an interesting couple and you are drawn into their complex and compelling relationship. Miyu is not your typical herione, sometimes you don’t know what side she is on for she seems to be on her own side. I found Miyu and Larva to be a gorgeous looking couple that creeps you out a bit.
Some viewers may not agree with this dark anime but I think you should give it a chance. The anime style is wonderful and a good soundtrack. I gave it full marks because I haven’t seen an anime quite like this and able to be pulled off the way it did. It gave you a sense of reality about how humans are and that not everything ends up the way we want things to be.
8: Saber Marionette J
English: Saber Marionette J
MAL Score: 7.34
In the distant future, since the Earth has become overpopulated, efforts to find and colonize on other planets have begun. However, one of the ships, the “Mesopotamia” malfunctions and all but 6 of its inhabitants are all killed. the remaining 6 manage to escape to a nearby planet named “Terra ll “, which is similar to Earth in many respects. However, all of them are male. Therefore, as to not let their efforts go to waste, they begin to set up 6 countries and to reproduce through cloning and genetic engineering. however, there are still no women, and to make up for it they create lifelike advanced female androids called “Marionettes” which do everyday chores and work. However, they are all emotionless machines. But one day, a ordinary boy named Otaru finds and awakens 3 special battle type Marionettes that have emotions due to a “Maiden Circuit” within them. It’s up to him then to teach them and allow their emotions to grow, and when a nearby country threatens with world domination, it’s up to to Otaru and his “human” Marionettes to protect their country.
The story revolves around Otaru Mamiya and his three Marionettes named Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry, but they are not just an ordinary ordinary marionettes, they have a system called “Maiden Circuit” that act like the source of their emotion thats why they can laugh and cry. A futuristic setting in a planet named Terra – II in the country of Japones where there are no female and all male are born from cloning. Female was replaced by Female machine called Marionettes. Thus begin their wacky adventure under one roof. The gags are old but still funny specially when the punchline is hanagata. The story is not always about humor, there is drama also, its the main point of the story on how the three marionette grows emotionally thru happiness and hardship. The anime’s story is slow pace but not boring so you will have time to enjoy how the it will develop.
Meet Otaru a normal boy who live a normal life, kind and hard working . One day he accidentally activated a Marionette named Lime. Lime a marionette with a cute and childish personality, always eat and play around and loves Otaru a lot. She’s my favorite marionette because whenever she’s around the surrounding become cheerful. Next is Cherry the second marionette Otaru awakened. She always give a maiden aura, in cuteness i think its in par with Lime. She loves to cook and more importantly loves to daydream about his master Otaru.The third was Bloodberry, she’s a how should i say it… a muscle woman? Well she’s not as cute as the first two but she emits an older woman aura, she has the biggest breast among the three and loves to seduce Otaru. For side character, let see, hmm… Hanagata hes a loser so lets forgot about him (Hanagata: What did you just say?) just joking, he always introduce himself as Otaru’s bestfriend, a pesky character who appears anywhere near Otaru.
Otaru, his design is quite simple, passable for a normal character.For the character design of the three marionettes, Lime, since she loves to move around designing loose costume fits nicely with her character. Cherry, she’s loves doing housework so the cutely designed pink kimono si looks good in her. Bloodberry with the blood on her red suits her best, well only her hair is red, she got the most daring design because of her nicely proportioned body and big-sister like character.
The Opening song is good, you will like it the more you listened to it. Same goes for the Ending song, with a great visualization it will make you listened to the song as well. For The Seiyuu’s, I really like the japanese voice for Lime, Megumi Hayashibara. It match perfectly with Limes personality, cute and playful. I dont like the english dub, it gives a kind of feeling that its not Lime-like. Same goes with Cherry, i like her polite voice. When u talk about Bloodberry, that means Power, power in the voice but with a sweetness of an older women and the seiyuu deliver it nicely.
After many years of not seeing this anime (10 years +) it give me a nostalgic feeling and with that i enjoy it a lot. I laughed in the funny scenes and got teary in those touching moment. I couldn’t ask for more… 😀
if u read some weird grammar, its my bad haha, ore ningen da mono~
The premise of the series is that sometime in the future, a group of 6 explorers made an emergency crash onto the Planet of Terra. There was the inconvenient problem that they landed without any females. Rather than wither off on this distant planet, the six decided to make clones of themselves, and thus repopulated the planet, but without females. The compensation for the lack of females is the development of female-appearing robots called marionettes, who can function like a human, but can’t experience feelings of their own, except, that is, for a few special marionettes whom our intrepid protagonist discovers, leading to ever more grand adventures until the fate of the planet is at stake.
A few complaints with this show are that it has a very obvious plot, most of the jokes aren’t funny, an irritating worm put in for comic relief really degrades this series, and a lot of the story is patronizing. I think this series is made especially for kids. The OP & ED are quite catchy, the animation is bad by today’s standards, and the characters are a bit flat. It’s still good clean fun though, worth watching with popcorn and friends.
It came to be this way because of an accident on a colonization ship that left six men alive on the surface, and they use genetics to populate the planet of Terra II. The direct clones of the six survivors rule the six nations that exist on the planet, Otaru being from Japoness which looks like feudal Japan.
Otaru tries to grow the personality of the three Marionettes throughout the series while having to deal with Gartland’s (Germany during World War II) ruler Faust and his own set of three Marionettes. The story is alright if you don’t have a problem with small details that could be considered giant plot holes with a lot of thought.
The art is dated even for a show from 12 years ago. The marionettes look vibrant, but completely out of place. The backgrounds of the other nations seemed to have been picked because they are easier to depict. Action scenes look merely average. It’s not horrific, but it would be hard to call it good.
Characters are a much stronger point. Otaru is not your typical male harem lead. The marionettes show diversity in character as the series progress from one-dimensional to something more.
Overall, Saber Marionette J is a solid, if not spectacular, series. It sets the table well for the OVA and second series that followed, though a conclusion could have been provided in this series if they really would have wanted it.
7: Chuuka Ichiban!
MAL Score: 7.62
The story takes place in 19th century China during the Qing Dynasty, where the Emperor was weakened and the country was close to chaos. It is also during a fictitious era called “The Era of the Cooking Wars”. It was an era in which top chefs with different cooking styles tried their best to improve their skills and to become the best chef in China. It is a country where insulting a high-grade chef or fooling around with cooking could land a person in a jail, and impersonating a top-chef is as good as usurpation of authority. Chefs compete with each other in order to gain respect and even power, but also with the risks of losing everything.
The country of China has four major regions: Beijing, Szechuan, Shanghai, and Guangdong.
The beginning of the story takes place in Szechuan, Mao’s birthplace.
After the death of Mao’s mother, Pai, who was called the ‘Fairy of Cuisine’, Mao becomes a Super Chef in order to take the title as Master Chef of his mother’s restaurant. However, before he takes his mother’s place as Master Chef, he continues to travel China in order to learn more of the many ways of cooking, in the hopes of becoming a legendary chef, just like his mother. During his journey, he meets great friends and fierce rivals who wish to challenge him in the field of cooking.
First chinese dubbed anime that I just finished watching, so the story’s still fresh in my mind. I’ve seen bits of this anime in our local channel, back then it was already pretty interesting but I haven’t been able to catch it always on tv. The plot is very interesting, centering around a 13 year old boy who has a magical touch when it comes to cooking. Like his mom, Mao believes cooking should be used to bring happiness to people, and this is the theme the story revolves in. One can’t help but cheer for Mao as he goes through several tough cooking competitions. Ever watch the Ironchef Master show in Japan? This is the anime version. Man, I can’t help but crave dimsums, fried rice, & other chinese food while watching this. What’s interesting is that the show offers lots and lots of trivias about food — I never realized till I watched it that there are lots of food that can actually improves our health! The characters are very well done, all of them are likeable and its more effective since it uses the bad-guy-turned-good-guy style, making us like the other characters that we thought annoying at first. The phasing of the series is great as well — with each event getting more and more interesting as one watches. The parts I definitely like is the Super Chef competition. The Dark Society of the cooking chefs and the quest for the legendary utensils added that suspense factor, making it not just an ordinary cooking competition. The only thing that lessens the enjoyment a bit is the ending — I was thinking there must be another chapter to this but its the end, apparently this is the case wherein the audience is left to imagine that Mao’s group defeated their enemies, him accepting top chef position and finding all the legendary utensils. Its too bad since if they had just made it a bit longer, the ending would definitely be a happy ever after
I will focus on two things about this series that I feel are most prominent and want to talk about, the characters, structure and the story arcs and their internal structure.
But first I will quickly breeze through all the points that don’t really matter:
Story: The story of Cooking Master Boy is exactly what one would expect for a shounen of this ilk. Defeat comically evil opponents in cooking battles and make friends.
Art: Totally average and passable for it’s time, and still looks nice enough.
Music: What music? Oh right, yeah I guess there’s some playing in the back every now and then.
********* Slight spoilers ahead but if you’ve ever seen a shounen before you’ll be fine. **********
And now, characters.
I will focus on the main 3 individually and the rest in one go.
The protagonist, Liu Mao Xing:
Our protagonist for this adventure is a 13 year old boy whose mother was one of the greatest and most renowned chefs in china. At the beginning of the series an evil villain comes to take over his mothers restaurant but out the kitchen steps up Liu Mao Xing, never having cooked before apparently he takes on the villain to the horror of his fellow restaurant workers and wins, after which he sets out to an adventure to become a great chef.
The girl, Mei Li:
Mei Li is the series main heroine whose only, and I’m not exaggerating here, purpose is to constantly question everything the Protagonist and others around do. She is supposedly a chef, a daughter of the head chef of the best restaurant in Canton no less; however, that is never shown to be the case, for all the viewer knows she may not be able to cook at all. During the series she tags along the protagonist and questions the methods to his madness, and despite witnessing his continuous, unbroken streak of success, she never gives thought to the idea that maybe the Protagonist knows what he’s doing.
I cannot for the life of me understand why she is there. Shounen series usually have a female character tagging along as either one the female viewers can relate to in order to pull in a bit of that crowd, or as the male viewers to swoon over. But Mei Li is so useless, incompetent and irritating I can’t imagine any girl wanting to be her, or any boy wanting to be with her. She has no character or development there of.
The Loudmouth, Zhi Lou (Shilou):
During the first arc they introduce what is possibly my favorite character of the series, we have a lot of characterization for him, backstory and character development, and logically we believe to typical shounen fashion this’ll be our secondary main character of the series. He is not. Instead he just leaves at after all we been through with him and much later at the beginning of the second arc, over 15 episodes later, we are introduced to Zhi Lou. Zhi Lou has nothing to him but that he’s a loud and incompetent chef (at least we know he can cook something, unlike Mei Li) that just tags along against anyone’s wishes. For the rest of the show he causes trouble by not thinking before speaking or doing something stupid.
And now, the good characters:
Chouyu & Ruoh: These are the two mentor Characters to Mao. Mei Li’s father and the Vice chef of the greatest restaurant in Canton, Chouyu and the Master Chef of that same restaurant, Ruoh. However despite them being said to be far superior to Mao whenever they ought to cook, something happens which puts Mao in the spotlight never truly showing us how or why they’re better than Mao.
Xi Er (Shell) & Li Wen (Leon): These two characters are villains who challenge Mao somewhere during the second arc, but turn out allies and join him and the two incompetent sidekicks for the last arc’s adventure. These two are by far the best characters of the series, they get the most character development, are shown to be excellent chefs and during the last arc duke it out with villains getting more screen time than even Mao it feels like. They’re also adults who behave as such.
Sanche: Sanche is the character I talked about in Shi Lou’s section, and despite him leaving during the first arc he makes a return during the last arc and proves himself as an excellent character that should’ve been the sidekick of the series instead of Zhi Lou.
********* Major Spoilers ahead for the 3 upcoming arc segments ***********
Next I want to talk about the three main arcs of this series, these are the original reason I had to write this review, because it’s just something else. I do try to be brief though so I may not convey the full scope of these arcs and why they’re so odd.
Arc 1: episodes 1-14
These 14 episodes are so incredibly fast paced, I’ve never seen a series breeze through this much content in just 14 episodes. Hell, a lesser series would’ve made this arc last the whole 52 episodes of the series allotted run time. So I’ll breeze thorough this segment as fast as the series does.
We get introduced to our main character who is said to never have cooked before, after which he defeats a villain trying to take over the restaurant his deceased mother possessed, after which the admiral of the imperial kitchen is so impressed with his talent he sends him out to study in the best restaurant of Canton, Yonsen Suka. Once he gets to the restaurant he is shown to fail to cook a worthy meal and banished from it, afterwards he finds out the problem, get’s the meal done and is congratulated buy the restaurant owners and given a job there. After overcoming this small bump they immediately send him to a tournament to get the title of a Super Chef, a title only a select few of the greatest chefs in China posses. He wins, the end.
Now one of the greatest chefs in China one would think the series may end, where is there to go? Well an adventure of course.
Arc 2: episodes 15-33
these 19 episodes consist of the worst arc, in my opinion, of Chuuka Ichiban!
During the first 6 episodes Mao goes on a journey across China, we are shown 6 episodic episodes where he arrives in a new town and out-cooks some bad guy, this is also where he meets Zhi Lou. After these he is back in Canton again and back to the Yonsen Suka, where we see the rest of the arc play out in few episode long cook-offs where Mao defeats a bad guy. Of these bad guys two of them are the previously mention Shell and Leon.
The last bout of the arc is against Leon, where Mao acquires a legendary knife, which turns out to be one of 8, and now it’s time to go across China again in search of these treasures before the COOKING UNDERWORLD can get them first, which is a conglomerate of super evil cartoon villains that want to take over the world. Because that’s what a cooking show needed.
At the end of the last episode of this arc they tease that Mei Li and Zhi Lou would leave the gang and be replaced by Shell and Leon, however this is shown to be but a sad Sike in THE MOST BAFFLING scene I have ever seen, period. I have no idea what the idea behind it was but I think it might just be a scene
worth watching the whole damn series for, it is unbelievable, absolutely unfathomably confusing. I simply don’t have the words to explain my utter bewilderment.
Arc 3: episodes 34-52
As if the pacing of this show couldn’t be confusing enough with the speed of sound of the first arc, and the episodic shenanigans of second. This third and last arc is quite the opposite of the first. This is actually my favorite part of the whole series and I watched these 19 episodes in one sitting raising the score of the show from what I had as 5 to the 7 it is now.
The first 12 episodes of this series are one single cooking match against the underworld for the second legendary cookware similar to the Super Chef exam of the first arc which only takes a few episodes. The remaining 7 episodes cover quite a few things in the vein of the second arc but these events despite somewhat episodic are much more fun than the events of the second arc.
And so the series ends, there is no real conclusion they only acquire 3 of the legendary cookware but whatever, I had fun.
EXCEPT THAT IN 2019 THEY ANNOUNCED A SEQUEL SERIES, 21 YEARS LATER THIS SHOW MOST PEOPLE HAVEN’T EVEN HEARD OF WILL CONTINUE.
– edit: The new series is a remake, not a sequel, so it’s redundant if you’ve seen this, additionally it doesn’t cover the first 20 episodes, so it’s not even a proper place to start for those who haven’t seen this one or read the manga.
********* END OF SPOILERS ***********
To end, a few addenda.
– This series is very non sexual overall but there are a couple ass shots that are just not very sexy at all.
– Despite generally decent animation work for it’s time there are a few odd continuation errors that are just subtle enough to miss.
– For whatever reason of all the vile and horrible villains of the series, it’s always the female villains that are the most disgustingly evil.
– This series uses flashy non-diegetic effects to accentuate the food but sometimes the characters react to them as if they were all real and there.
The end, whoever read this far is a madman, who even cares about this show? Why did I write this for 2 hours? Fuck… 2 hours? what’s wrong with me?
Watch “Yakitate! Japan” instead, it’s essentially the same show but about bread and better in every single way possible.
Go home it’s over.
6: Hana yori Dango
English: Hana Yori Dango
MAL Score: 7.67
Makino Tsukushi, a girl who comes from a poor family, just wants to get through her two last years at Eitoku Gakuen quietly. But once she makes herself known by standing up for her friend to the F4, the four most popular, powerful, and rich boys at the school, she gets the red card: F4’s way of a “Declaration of War.” But when she doesn’t let herself be beaten by them and is starting to fall for one of the F4, Hanazawa Rui, she starts to see that there is more than meets the eye…
The premise starts out in a way that you wouldn’t expect much romance to develop from. Tsukushi Makino is a middle to lower middle class student at an exclusive high school attended by mainly wealthy students. Tsukushi is not particularly happy with her high school life nor does she really even want to be at this school. But she attends because of her parent’s insistence and because they have sacrificed a lot to send her there. The school is controlled by the F4, a gang of 4 guys from extremely rich and powerful families. Basically the entire school lives in fear of getting on their bad side and getting the “red card”, which basically means your school life becomes hell on earth until you transfer out. Tsukushi goes about her day just trying to be unnoticed until she graduates, leading a fairly miserable existence. This all changes when the only real friend has accidently incurs the wraith of the F4, she jumps to her defense and finds herself given the red card. But she’s not the kind of girl who’s going to back down and she declares war back on the F4 herself. As Tsukushi fights back and starts to gain the respect of many classmates and even begins to befriend the F4 and we learn that they are not quite as bad as initially thought.
I found the story to be quite moving and powerful and found myself experiencing the full range of emotions. The portrayal of the bullying, which becomes quite intense at times was often very difficult to watch. There will be times you will cringe and times when you will jump out of your chair and cheer. Eiktoku High School may just be one of the 4 or 5 worst places on earth. It truly was a hell on earth and it doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture of high society and the people who populate it. I’m not sure I would have had to strength of character Tsukushi had to stick things out and not let them win. It’s difficult to talk about the romance aspects of this anime without giving away spoilers. Though it will become pretty obvious fairly early where they are going and who she’s going to end up with. The journey to this revelation though is quite the ride. The ending differs completely from the manga version, since this anime was completed several years before its run had finished. Despite the original ending it is still very satisfying and believable.
Tsukushi Makino emerges as perhaps the best shoujo heroine of all time. I really cannot give her enough praise for how I felt about her as a character and how much I would love to have a friend like her. She is tough, practical and no-nonsense type of girl in a world full of shallow materialistic bitches. Viewers will be drawn to her both her likeable nature and the sheer torture she has to endure over the course of the series. The things that are done to her and the torment she is put through are both frightening and inspiring. Seeing the events of the story told through her inner monologue made me feel even more connected to the plot and her emotions felt even more intense because of it. Though perhaps she is in the end a bit more forgiving than I personally would be if I was in her place, she is overall a very inspirational character.
Tsukasa Domyoji is the leader of the F4 and one of Tsukushi’s love interests. He has all the classic elements of a shoujo love interest. He’s fabulously wealthy, handsome, and an asshole. I have mixed feelings on him. Initially he is an extremely frightening character. His menacing demeanor and the adjunct terror that Tsukushi often feels in his presence makes him initially almost impossible to like at all. However as the series progresses he becomes less and less the horrible boogeyman he begins as and actually turns into a decent and even sympathetic human being. While I tried my best to keep hating him, he wore me down not unlike Tsukushi into believing someone could actually fall in love with him. As a character, Tsukasa makes a huge amount of growth. He changes from selfish and egotistical brat into a much more humble and likeable guy while still maintaining the essence of who he is.
Rui is another member of F4 and another main love interest. He is almost the complete opposite of the hotheaded Tsukasa. While still from an enormously wealthy family and suitably good looking, Rui is far more introverted and shy. I liked him far more at first than any of the other men in the cast but he really isn’t any nicer that Tsukasa is. While not physically violent his cold nature and inconsistency in when he does or doesn’t jump to Tsukushi’s defense doesn’t exactly win him any feminist awards. My feelings for him are pretty much the reverse of what I felt for Tsukasa. By the end of the series I grew tired of his personality and while he does manage to change a little, his nature just gets more and more annoying. He was also just a bit too bishie for me.
Most of the remaining supporting cast is pretty detestable. The two remaining members of F4, Akira and Sojiro are not very well developed as characters being their basic personality archetypes and never emerge as serious love interests. Tsukushi’s childhood friend Kazuya is likeable and provides comic relief, often at times when the story can really use some. While he is in love with Tsukushi he is more of a friend to her and he provides her with a much needed friend at times when she really needs one. Shizuka also is one of the rare decent characters who also provides Tsukushi with plenty of support and encouragement in times of need. There are plenty of absolutely spoiled rotten waste of skin bitches and assholes to get mad about. But despite the anger you’re likely to feel every time one of them appears on screen or plots against the heroine they do serve a useful purpose in the growth of the main characters and in the development of the romances.
Given the age of this series the animation and visuals are understandably dated. Unfortunately they are bad enough that it’s possible that it will discourage some people all together from even giving this series a chance. That is a real shame. While I can’t say that I loved the artwork, I did eventually develop some appreciation for it as the series progressed. The color palette used is very drab and the hairstyles and fashions are also extremely dated. The character designs are true to the manga and are realistic body types which adds to the overall sense of realism. The settings and backgrounds though are strength are all look pretty good.
The audio is also a bit of a mixed bag. While the voice acting performances are all top notch, I didn’t much care for the music at all, especially the lame and uninteresting OP animation sequence. The incidental and background music is also very dated.
Ultimately Hana Yori Dango is a series that should not be missed by serious romance and anime fans alike. It’s a very intense series likely to stir up just about every emotion there is for the viewer. Though as much as I loved Tsukushi and the story, I just can’t give this series the perfect score I wanted to because of the uninspired art and music. I highly recommend it.
The characters are fully developed and you really start to put yourself in their shoes once you get to know them better. While some of the storylines can be a bit farfetched, there’s just enough balance of drama, romance, and comedy to draw you in. The storylines have so many twists that you’ll never be bored while watching this series.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for an anime packed with drama, romance, comedy, and interesting plots and characters, this is the anime for you. If you are more concerned with pretty animation and good OSTs, you should look elsewhere.
This anime, while old with older art, was amazing for me. I had been feeling like I hadn’t seen a good romance in a while and what brought my attention to it was a review that had said it “restored their faith in the romance genre”
The main characters while childish and obnoxious at the start slowly seem to develop into mature-ish young adults. Starting with Makino, throughout the anime she is rather stubborn, naive and headstrong. She is a strong female character that faces many emotional trials, while struggling with her life she manages to overcome everything relatively well. Her character has been constructed in a way that places you in her position, withering away in fear when she does or feeling happy when she does.
The F4 boys that she stands up against also go through changes as well, making you cringe and want to pull your hair out. There are many things that could be said about the things they do wrong and right, however, overall they are young boys going through school with emotions and things that a normal person could not understand.
The story was captivating and by the first episode I wanted to know more and see more. It was an anime with life and has many lessons in it. It addresses bullying and other themes that high school comes with, and was easy to relate to.
I enjoyed Hana Yori Dango a lot more than I thought I would and I managed to watch it in two days, days off work spent well in my opinion. I felt extremely satisfied with it and the way it ended. There were times were I couldn’t help but laugh along with the characters. The anime came alive to me, it became a real thing and I wanted to give Makino a good slap every now and then. There was not one moment I wanted to give up on it and not one moment I wasn’t entertained.
I give it an overall score of 9/10
5: Akachan to Boku
English: Baby and Me
MAL Score: 7.84
Takuya Enoki is living a difficult life for a fifth grader. His mother passed away in a tragic car accident a few months ago, forcing him to pick up the slack and take care of his baby brother, Minoru, as his father works the endless hours typical of a Japanese salaryman.
He will have to sacrifice his childhood in order to meet the needs of his little brother. Cooking, cleaning, worrying, and trying to discipline Minoru are some of the tasks Takuya will have on his plate, all while their neighbors blame him for Minoru’s constant crying. Meanwhile, he will watch as his friends live their carefree lives, enjoying their free time. It will not be easy and there will be plenty of stumbling blocks, but along the way, he may actually learn the true meaning of family.
I first watched it in hindi dubbed on spacetoon. And I really feels it’s story is too emotional and it sometimes make me cry. I also luv it’s opening song especially in hindi. I really feels it is a masterpiece and I’d be happy to see it’s movie…
ever since this incident happened Takuya’s life has changed, he now has to take care of a baby as well as doing his school works….
of course it’s hard for a boy who instead of playing takes care of his younger brother
this series shows the love between family members, the responsibilities that each has for the other, the co-operation between them and most important the understandings between eachother, it might sounds boring but it’s really close to real life, there’s no fantasy and impossible things, it’s really sensitive and touching story that makes you think of what you did and what you must do…
the art might not be that awesome, it’s the normal art of any shoujo series, those big eyes and the big heads of the babies, it’s just an ok art but if you think of the story and the characters you’ll forget about the art…
the sound is amazing, that soft background makes you feel the story and enjoy the scenes and the characters are awesome, when they cry you cry and when they laugh you laugh, they just let you close to them and feel what they feel especially Takuya who doesn’t have anyone to listen to his complaints except us, the viewers! but some of the characters are hilarious so yeah akachan to boku isn’t a sad or a typical shoujo anime(which has only romance and nothing) it’s kinda a mix of everything, a really lovely series which will touch anyone’s heart
story : pretty normal stor of a family after the mother died , with a lot of emotion and support the family continued their life and the brother had to grow up and take care of his younger brother the anime revoloves around the different difficulties the family faces and how they solve it together
characters : amazing and i loveee all of them
voices : personally i think takuya`s voice could have been gentler and also seeichi voice could have been younger after all he is only in his 20th but other than that the rest of the voices are so cute specially takuya`s father enouki
art : it`s old but i still like it considering when it was made it was pretty good
the anime expresses the emotions between sublings and the real love between them it also shows how a family can continue together no matter what hardships faced them
4: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars
English: Sailor Moon Sailor Stars
Japanese: 美少女戦士セーラームーン セーラースターズ
MAL Score: 7.92
Like the R Season, Sailor Stars is divided into two arcs:
The first arc (also filler) solves some conflicts from the SuperS season, and also sees the return of the Outer Senshi, Haruka, Michiru, Setsuna, and Hotaru (now reborn as a child).
The second arc is the actual plot from the manga. Usagi bids farewell to Mamoru, who is going to America to study abroad. In his place comes the Three Lights, an idol trio consisting of three boys, Seiya, Taiki, and Yaten. The new enemy is Galaxia, a woman who desires to rule the entire galaxy by collecting the Star Seeds of humans. Three new Senshi appear, the Sailor Starlights, who also intend to stop Galaxia without Sailor Moon’s help.
First of all, let me tell you, I can agree on why Sailor Moon Sailor Stars wasn’t licensed for the american dub version. If you watch this series, you will find out why. But enough with that matter, let me tell you what I thought of this amazing season of Sailor Moon.
I personally thought the story deserved higher that a 6, at that matter. The story was actually well thought out and planned detail to detail. Naoko Takeuchi had really improved since SuperS. I mean, how the new characters incorperated right into the story perfectly. The Starlights added a new sense of different careers in the story and how Seiya tried his/her best to be like a ‘new’ Mamoru for Usagi.
The art had pretty much improved since SuperS, in my opinion. The detail and different colors use to express the characters was amazing. I really thought that the design of the new senshi outfits was absolutly genius! Also, I must say, Sailor Moon’s Moon Tier was really detailed and perfetly executed the attacks every episode.
The sound in the series really got me into the season more and more. The new opening theme really changed the sense of the series after the same theme song season after season. Change was definetly in order. But I must admit, some of the songs the 3 Lights sang weren’t very good in my opinion. I understand they were looking for their princess for a very long period of time but I never got use to the songs they sang.
The Starlights intro into the series really up-ed my opinion on the rating of Character. Yet, in the anime, how they were changed into Male to Female really didn’t make me happy. I’m sure Naoko diefinetly felt the same way. Anyways, away from that matter, I believe that most of the characters didn’t change that much, yet I enjoyed how they comforted Usagi in her hard times.
The enjoyment of the series difinetly deserved a 10/10 in my opinion. The story brought along many happy, sad, romantic, ect., to the series. I think that Naoko did an exceptional job on this season and the manga at that.
Overall, this series deserves a 10/10! The series was outstanding to me and was one of the first anime I watched when I was young. The series always kept me at the edge of my seat and I really enjoyed some humor here and there. If you are in the mood for an amazing series, I highly reccomend this series to any mahou shoujo anime fan out there. The series was excellent to me and I bet any Sailor Moon fan would agree.
There’s plenty of new scouts from other galaxies and other leaded by another princess. It also features a cool idol group as some of the season’s new characters.
This season was the last season of Sailor Moon and it was never dubbed in English during it’s original release. This season may be still new news to some fans who just watched and were familiar with the original English dub.
Break from Mini Moon-
And of course we get a break from Mini Moon. Even though she is still an important character in it’s first episodes, she does get a break and doesn’t appear through the second arc of this season. This could be a relief to some fans after SuperS.
Yes, this season has plenty of hardships, downfalls, and Sailor Moon will be find herself very heartbroken at times.
Villains are scouts-
Yes! I mentioned there was drama. Not only are there new scouts called the Starlights, the villains themselves are also scouts, which makes it hard to know who to trust.
This is all around a super season and is a must watch for fans. Despite the flaws that Tuxedo Mask is absent from the second arc (but it’s for a reason), and the outers appear very little times. It’s still it’s a great season and you won’t be disappointed.
And this last season was the best one (I missed Mamoru-chan but.. ^^).. We saw friendship, love, longing, and also determination and faith.. of course with the sufficient amount of humour ^^ It has everything in it, and it is an anime that I’d show my children..
Everybody should watch this classic, imo. The storyline, the characters, fight scenes.. all of them were 10/10 for me ^^
(Should I begin watching it again?? ^^)
3: Ie Naki Ko Remy
English: Sans Famille
MAL Score: 7.92
Remy, a cheerful and tender-hearted girl, lives with her mother in a French country town. One day her father returns to the town after a long period working away from home in a city. Her father tells Remy that she isn’t their real daughter, and Remy is almost sold to an evil slave trader. It is Vitalis, a strolling entertainer, who helps Remy. Vitalis discovers her talent for singing and decides to take her in with his troupe.
Okay, yes, the 1977 version made by Dezaki is universally considered by fans to be better than this version, the 1997 version. However! That certainly doesn’t mean that the 1997 version doesn’t have anything that’s good about it or that it isn’t a good show in its own right. In fact, I happen to like them both on the same level, but for very different reasons. I really love Homeless Girl Remy for what it is as its own entity, and I think other people should too, if they just look past the source material and the back story behind this production. Everybody knows the story by now, so I’ll talk about the other stuff. For one thing, the animation for this version may be considered low budget compared to the 1977 version, and yeah, low budget is right as some of the later episodes start to look just a BIT funny-looking. But the rest of the show, while it does have the whole nineties look about it, still looks great. The characters look a bit plain and simple, but everything else is great. The backgrounds are rich and detailed, little things are animated nicely, there are some still frames present but they don’t hurt the final product, and the characters’ movements are down to earth and fluid. Plus, because the colors are a bit muted and soft, it’s very easy on the eyes. I seem to like old school cel drawn animation better than digital animation, as it’s easier on my eyes, though a lot of my favorite shows are colored digitally, so I could probably be biased here. I’m not a discriminatory animation lover, though! Check my top 3 to see how varied my animation preferences are! Taking all of this into account, when compared to other shows of its time, the animation is still relatively nice and well done, so I wouldn’t consider it bad or entirely low budget. The creators needed to make do with what they got, and they definitely did, in my opinion.
Now, time to talk about what I feel is the BEST part of the show: the soundtrack. Now, if you’ve read my review of the 1977 version, you’ll have read that I considered that version’s music to be very passe and outdated. Yes, I still hold this opinion to be true, especially now that I’ve finally gotten to finish this version. And wow, the soundtrack for this version is about a thousand times better than the first one! For one thing, the opening and ending themes are absolutely wonderful! They’re both very soft, melodic tunes sung by soft voiced singers, with great lyrics pertaining to love and being yourself and enduring hardship, and they both fit the show to a T. While I did like the opening of the 1977 version, I felt the song was a bit too upbeat, and the ending was even more so, but to a worse and extremely jarring degree. Homeless Girl Remy’s themes are great, soft, warm, fitting, and they match the tone of the show while striking a good balance between dark and upbeat. I love soft songs with singers that have soft voices, so I could be biased here. The background music is another thing that needs to be praised, because unlike other shows where they tend to put the wrong kinds of music in the wrong places, killing tension or ruining poignant scenes (Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, anyone?), Remy’s soundtrack also fits the entire show to a T. I remember the soundtrack for the 1977 version being VERY seventies and I don’t remember liking some of the music that much. However, the 1997 version is full of nice, classical pieces that know when to be subtle and when to be full of suspense and tension, really bringing out the atmosphere and emotions of their assigned scenes. It’s meant to tug at your heart strings, and it definitely tugged at mine when those moments came, making what I feel are great moments in not just this show, but in anime in general. If a soundtrack isn’t used to its full potential and in context, then it could very well feel cheesy and out of place, ruining the show. Thankfully, Remy’s soundtrack didn’t fall into this pitfall.
The characters are the subject to quite a bit of debate in the WMT fandom, as they were subjected to the most drastic changes. Whether it’s for better or worse varies with each character and with someone’s opinion, and WMT anime are known for having very strong, nuanced, three-dimensional, and well developed characters in every single one of their anime, even during times when kids anime were expected to have simple characters who only have one trait and don’t do much other than to entertain kids and preach a bunch of morals, especially in America, which is happily changing in this day and age (especially moreso with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), albeit slowly. However, while I do adore the characters in this version, I do feel that compared to all the other WMT adaptations, these characters are a little bit weak and underdeveloped. One of the worst offenders is Gaspard, the villain in the second half of the show. He’s really not much more than a walking villain cliche. He’s gruff, he’s mean, he’s pathetic, he’s cruel to everyone he meets, especially the kids he enslaves, all he wants is money money money, and he’ll go to whatever means necessary to get it and use it for his own purposes. If kids don’t do anything for him or do anything he hates, which is basically everything, he whips them and takes great pleasure in doing so. Heck, a lot of the villains in this show are card board cut outs meant to make the good characters look good. I can understand why this is so, however, and while I don’t fault the creators for the circumstances that led to the WMT’s downfall, that’s still no excuse to make a bunch of walking cliche villains who are basically just like every one villainous anime character out there, just not with superpowers or intent to destroy the world, even with a very rushed plot that they had to deal with. The good characters are also subjected to lack of development (Vitalis is the biggest victim of this), but it’s not bad in any way. Remy may have been changed into a girl, but she’s still a very strong and good character who can carry the weight of the show very well, though she isn’t the only one, even though her being compassionate from the beginning has very limited her development, and instead, other characters develop because of her, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but if it gets used a bit much, then characters won’t be able to feel like individuals who can stand on their two feet. Though, with this in mind, try being those slaves under Gaspard’s grubby hand. At least this is justified.
While I do praise the creators for at least trying to make do with what they were given considering the inevitable circumstances, there are still some jarring flaws. One of them appears at the end of the show, but it’s not too spoiler filled so I’ll go with it: one minute Gaspard loses sight of Remy, then when it looks like she escaped and outran him, he somehow manages to catch up to her with absolutely no explanation whatsoever! How was that even possible?! Plus, it does seem to want drama a little TOO badly, because you’ll know right away when something bad happens to Remy in any form, and you’ll be able to predict more from a mile away, and even with 26 episodes, there’s still a tiny bit of filler, and considering the circumstances, the show came out very rushed as a result, leaving a bit of a cheesy and rushed ending, but I liked it for what it was, and I’ve seen worse endings so I’ll let it slide. Plus, there’s a good lesson in that no matter how hard things are, you have to keep moving forward and everything you’ve gone through will bring about a positive outcome in the end, and that’s an anvil that really really REALLY and SERIOUSLY needs to be dropped more often in this day and age where kids are being bullied to the point of drugs, alcohol, murder, and even suicide because they feel there’s no way out and no hope for them. Not only that, it also provides some very heartwarming and refreshing romance in a sea of cliche shoujo anime/manga. What I especially liked about this was that in terms of some things happening, characters actually talk about their feelings and problems instead of bottling them in, which is an oh so common pitfall for most anime and manga nowadays. Wanna know the best thing? NO NARRATOR! I don’t remember being annoyed by the narrator in the 1977 version, but he talks and reveals important secrets in EVERY SINGLE episode, so I can see that being very annoying for many people, as some of what he says is really unnecessary. The 1997 version doesn’t have a narrator, thank God. Plus, even with the show’s warm and idealistic nature, the dark, cold fist of reality crashes down on the characters, and nobody is spared. I think children’s shows need more dark and scary moments instead of trying to hide them out of fear of parents complaining. I don’t see the point of hiding the fact that bad things can and will happen to anyone. This is why I like Japan’s shows, because they don’t conform to political correctness like we oh so sadly have and they take their animation very seriously, their kids shows included (most of the time). I think scary and sad moments in children’s shows/movies are good once in a while because those will actually teach them to be good and kind, and…really, bad things can, will, and do happen to people in real life anyway, so why not show them in advance so they’ll learn how to deal with it that doesn’t involve drugs, alcohol, or anything of the sort?
People, don’t revile this show simply because it’s not the source material or because it’s not perfect. That’s not a good attitude to have. I love the 1977 version, but I love the 1997 version just as much for what it is as its own entity. If one can just look past all the flaws and acknowledge what it DOES do well and right, then you’ll be treated to a great, heart-tugging, heartwarming, nice little shoujo anime. Sure, it’s not the best anime in the world, and not the most polished adaptation, but so what? It did its best and knew what it wanted to be. I know this show will have a place in my heart, and if it ever gets dubbed in English (which is likely never unless some brave and bold person steps up to the challenge), I’d absolutely LOVE to show this to my family, friends, and even my future kids one day! So cut the crap and watch this, and acknowledge it for what it is, not for what it should have been!
Ie Naki Ko Remy is a classic Nippon Animation anime, another one of the “Word Masterpiece Theater, and highly praised by many.
Well, the first half of this anime is fantastic. But the problem comes after Vitalis dies.
Why is the anime not good after Vitallis dies? Well, that’s simple: It’s ILLGICAL AND NO NOTION.
After Vitalis dies, Remi goes home to Gaspard, who forces homeless children to work and bring him money. This is literally the biggest problem of this anime.
Remi is not a dumb girl, but she “becomes dumb” after going to Gaspard’s house. Remi has to run away with everyone, so as not to be mistreated by Gaspard, but the script does not let her.
The children get enough money to survive, but these children prefer to stay in the house of a man who mistreats them, and if they all stayed together, they would have a much better life on the street.
Mattia is a smart boy, and he could manage all the children. Even Remi could run away with all the children to Mrs. Milligan’s house, who is her real mother, but she doesn’t know it.
Anyway, this anime was a wasted potential, because the second half is really bad and clueless
Most of the characters are good, they fulfill their function.
I don’t even remember the OST, just the OP and ED which I like a lot.
The animation is ok.
I was disappointed with this anime because it clearly would be one of my favorites if it followed a good plot like the first half. Unfortunately the second half is just a lot of nonsense, as I explained, for the sake of the script trying to force a drama.
This review I decided to talk more about what made me dislike this anime. Because, as I said before, the first half is really good. It’s really a shame that it didn’t stay at the same level until the end.
2: Shoujo Kakumei Utena
English: Revolutionary Girl Utena
MAL Score: 8.19
After meeting a traveling prince who consoled her after the deaths of her parents, Utena Tenjou vowed to become a prince herself. The prince left Utena only with a ring bearing a strange rose crest and a promise that she would meet him again some day.
A few years later, Utena attends Ootori Academy, where she is drawn into a dangerous game. Duelists with rings matching Utena’s own compete for a unique prize: the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya, and her mysterious powers. When Utena wins Anthy in a duel, she realizes that if she is to free Anthy and discover the secrets behind Ootori Academy, she has only one option: to revolutionize the world.
Shoujo Kakumei Utena blends surrealist imagery and ideas with complex allegories and metaphors to create a unique coming-of-age story with themes including idealism, illusions, adulthood, and identity.
That being said, Utena fulfills all of those criteria beautifully. And it is enjoyable on multiple levels. I enjoy it as much now, at age 20, as I did at age 12. My understanding of the characters, the symbolism, and the message inherent in each episode has changed dramatically. At a young age I saw everything as Utena did; I viewed the series from her standpoint, agreed with her fully, and essentially played the role of the fool. In the final episodes when she does not understand what Akio was saying, I did not either. Now I do. Now I sympathize with him, understand his cynicism and manipulation of adolescence, and now I realize just how truly revolutionary and powerful one Tenjou Utena was. Now I understand Akio’s shock. He’s lost the ability to see things as the iconoclast–the fool who is an iconoclast without being self-aware of the full implications of what he or she is doing.
But then, I digress.
"Utena" borrows heavily from the philosophies of Carl Jung and Hermann Hesse, most notably the latter’s incredible novel "Demian". I highly recommend that those who enjoyed this series read the works of both men. The anime incorporates a brilliant and deft weave of existentialism and psychological analysis with excellent characterization and a degree of slice-of-life realism. There is a running theme of the discomfort inherent in becoming self-aware, adolescent discomfort, budding sexuality, and dissatisfaction with the status quo that is inherent in these realizations. These are teenagers who look for the meaning in everything; they cannot yet except there IS no meaning in everything. They want to rebuild the world. In this sense, these turbulent, anarchic sentiments are a throwback to "Demian"; they are the same sentiments that had an entire generation of disillusioned German youth hailing the book as a voice speaking on their behalf for the first time. In many ways, that voice is universal. "Utena" does it justice.
From a technical standpoint, Utena is top-notch. The artwork is gorgeous, the music lush, and the direction lucid. It hearkens to the era of cel-based animation with a minimum of CGI, especially as compared to current offerings. The seiyuu all do an excellent job with their characters. J.A. Seazer’s musical compositions are worthy of stand-alone acclaim. They are quite unlike anything else known in the anime genre.
I suppose I am obligated to warn of the exploration of various taboo subjects beyond homosexuality (Utena and Anthy being one of few canon yuri couples out there outside of hentai), including incest; if you are squiked beyond your comfort threshold by this, don’t watch the show. Otherwise, I cannot recommend this show highly enough. I acknowledge it is not for everyone, but if you are that sort of twisted, abstract person who would enjoy this show, and if you remember the growing pains of adolescence (or are currently undergoing them), you can’t watch it soon enough.
Title: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Manga, Anime: Revolutionary Girl Utena was originally a manga with story by Be-Papas and art by Chiho Saito that ran in Shogakugan’s Ciao magazine from 1996 to 1997. It has been licensed Stateside by Viz Media, and the final volume, which covers the movie, was released on December 3rd, 2007.
Revolutionary Girl Utena has two anime incarnations. One is the original TV show, which is made of 39 total episodes, and was produced by JC Staff (famous for their work on Honey and Clover and Potemayo), and directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara (famous for becoming the director Sailor Moon after the second half of the R season up until the SuperS season). It ran on Japanese TV from April 2nd, 1997 till December 24th, 1997. The second is a movie adaptation, which will be covered later in this review. Both have been licensed Stateside by Central Park Media, which is now defunct. Let’s just say it’s been out for a long time Stateside.
Story: "Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a little princess, and she was very sad, for her father and mother had died. Before the princess appeared a traveling prince riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes. ‘Little one,’ he said, ‘who bears up alone in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength and nobility, even when you grow up. I give you this to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring will lead you to me one day.’ Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was an engagement ring. This was all well and good, but she was so impressed by him that the princess vowed to become a prince one day. But was that really such a good idea?" This is the story that a younger Utena Tenjou tells us as her older self, still aspiring to be a prince and dressing like a boy, goes to the prestigious Ohtori Academy. After her close friend Wakaba is cruelly treated by a member of the Student Council, Saionji and she sees him slapping Anthy, his supposed girfriend, she challenges him to a duel. The ring she wears unknowingly admits her to a secret duelling arena in the forest where Saionji meets her with Anthy, who is apparently the Rose Bride. Saionji then pulls a sword out of Anthy’s chest, and things only get odder from there on out…
Utena is an absolutely amazing series.
On the surface, Utena is just a duelist of the week series, with recurring duelists. However, what makes this show so much more than that is the depth of character development that you get with the duelists, and even with the recurring minor characters. Each duel shows another side to them, and, in addition, reveals even more reasons why these people should go to a psychiatrist. Seriously, you could probably do a good case study on every one of the main characters, and a good deal of the minor recurring characters. Hell, even the girl who’s mainly used as comedic relief gets excellent development and light shed on her psychological problems!
The other thing about this series is that nothing, nothing is what it seems to be at first. There are layers and layers to every single character and aspect of this show, and as the show goes on, you realize exactly what is going on at Ohtori Academy. There’s some very heavy symbolism that uses some fairly mundane objects and allegories that foreshadow what’s going to happen long before it ever does, and you’ll only catch this on another watchthrough of the series.
Which, by the way, would probably be best after you’ve watched this the first time through. There’s a lot of things that you only get in subsequent watchthroughs, and you’ll realize just how much there is to this series when you do. I am convinced that someone could probably write a master’s thesis on this show.
Warning: There are some fairly blatant innuendos and sexual images in this, along with hints of incest and major age differences and definite abuse. Oh, and there’s lots of girls and boys feeling up/kissing their respective genders. So, if you don’t like that, you should stay away from this series.
Art: The art takes a bit of getting used to, admittedly, with blank eyes, sharp edges, and heavy lines. In general, Utena is heavily stylized, but when compared to other shows airing around that time (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Beserk), the quality is fairly high. A lot of work goes into the background art and all the symbolism as well, all of which figure heavily into the show.
There’s a lot of stock footage in this show, but luckily it’s animated well enough that it doesn’t bother you, and every time it plays, you can catch some new little detail about it.
Music: The background music for Utena is done by Shinkinchi Mitsumune, who also did work on Rozen Maiden’s background music. From what I’ve heard from him, this is probably his best work, and I wonder what happened that he put so little effort forth with Rozen Maiden, compared to the effort that had to have gone into this. Every theme is memorable, and is probably some of my favorite music from a series ever.
And then there are the vocal songs that play while the duels happen, done by J.A Seazer. When you’re looking at a translation of the songs, you’re going to realize that they make absolutely no sense and just seem like random words thrown together. And, at first glance, they do. However, as you’re watching the show through again, you realize just how much effort went into those random words, and that yes, they actually do mean something.
The OP, which never changes, is one of my favorites. It’s not anything out of the normal standard for OPs out there, upbeat female JPop number, like with Ouran, but for whatever reason, I really like it. It’s the same thing with the three EDs; all upbeat female JPop numbers that I normally wouldn’t like, but really work for the series.
Seiyuu: Takehito Koyasu (known for his roles as Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi and Haruhi’s dad in Ouran High School Host Club) appears as the voice of Touga, one of the more interesting male characters in here and one of my favorites, and Kotono Mitsuishi (known for her role as Sailor Moon in the show of the same name and Misato Katsuragi in Neon Genesis Evangelion) appears as the voice of Juri Arisugawa, probably the most interesting female character after Utena and Anthy. Akio’s seiyuu, juurouta Kosugi, was also Fernand d’Morcerf’s seiyuu in Gankutsuou, and sounds like sex and malice incarnate. And Anthy’s seiyuu, Yuriko Fuchizaki, brings an amazing amount of depth to her character, just barely hinting at what’s going on beneath the surface and letting hints slip as to what she really is throughout the series.
All in all, an amazing cast.
Length: Thirty-nine episodes may seem a bit lengthy at first glance. And admittedly, there are elements that get a bit repetitive. But I’m fine with the length, as it allows you to see a lot of detail that you might not necessarily see in a shorter series, which works to the benefit of Utena.
Overall: An absolutely amazingly written and acted series with lots of depth, heavy character development, stylization, symbolism and allegories, and people with lots of issues, that has a lot of details you’ll notice on subsequent watchthroughs.
Tied for my all-time favorite series. Watch this. You will not regret it.
Overall: 48/50; 96% (A)
I’d heard a lot about “Utena” beforehand. Some say it’s the shoujo version of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”; others say that Oscar from “Rose of Versailles” is Utena’s spiritual grandmother; and many people consider it to be one of the greatest masterpieces in anime. Having seen it, I can conclude that there is merit in all of those statements. Well, perhaps apart from that last one. For me, “Utena” is too flawed to be deserving of that honour. However, there’s no denying that it’s an influential series, and many of its influences can still be seen in more recent shows.
Although “Rose of Versailles” does have a certian degree of influence on “Utena”, most of these extend only as far as the surface. The most obvious of these influences is Utena herself. Born as a girl, but lived most of her life as a “prince” rather than a “princess”, the parallels between Utena and Oscar, the heroine of “Rose of Versailles”, are obvious. A lot of the visual effects (such as the various rose effects) that “Revolutionary Girl Utena” deploys also seem to be derived from “Rose of Versailles”, although a lot of them do seem to be used in a rather more tongue in cheek way. But beyond this, the two series are vastly different in terms of content. “Rose of Versailles” tells a much more straight forward story, albeit with the gender bender twist provided by Oscar herself, while “Revolutionary Girl Utena” is anything but straight forward.
Not being a fan of the overly abstract and surreal, I had a little trouble getting to grips with the show. For the settings in “Utena”, you have this school with a bunch of these outlandish rules, where the school council members fights duels with each other in a secret tower in the forest for the possession of the Rose Bride (another student), in order to gain the power to revolutionarise the world… Whaddaf*ck? Is this some kind of peculiar school play? Alas no, it appears to be reality, just not as we know it. Utena (who is, in case you haven’t guessed, the protagonist) is thrown straight into this strange setting, and initially, she seemed as confused as I was about the strangeness of it all. She does make some effort towards finding out what the heck is going on, as you would naturally expect her to do, but her efforts are… kinda pathetic. One minute, she’s like “WTF is all this?! Duels? Rose Bride?? Power to revolutionalise the world???” Then the next minute she’s completely sold on all the weirdness and, without anyone prompting her, starts drawing swords out of Rose Bride’s chest and shouting key phrases such as “grant me the power to revolutionalise the world!” like the rest of those freaks from the student council.
And so, after this extremely half-hearted effort at forming a tenuous link to reality (I don’t know why they even bothered to be honest), the scene is set for the rest of the show!
Despite all the weirdness of the premises, I initially found “Utena” less difficult to to get through than I would have expected. However, a few episodes in, I found an even bigger problem that made the going a lot tougher – repetitiveness. There is simply a ludicrous amount of it. If they took out all the repeated scenes, the series would probably be able to fit into a standard 26 episode season quite easily. In each of the arcs of the series, the same scene is reused to set up almost every battle as well as to end almost every battle. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Utena accepting the power of Dios into her… it’s the same scene everytime, no matter what the situation leading up to it is. Sometimes she would be crouching before the scene, sometimes standing, sometimes even with the enemy rushing towards her, but always, she finds the time to casually stand around, being infused with the power and then lunge at her opponent and win the dual. After seeing it 20+ times (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating in the slightest here), there’s just one word to describe this… BOOOOORIIIING. Perhaps they’re trying to parody the transformation sequence of the magical girl, but even as a (not particularly funny) running joke, it wears out its welcome pretty quickly. The action scenes aren’t even good, and they certainly don’t become good after about the 30th time of viewing.
The repetitions aren’t just limited to the battles either, they extend to the “Duelist of the Week” format. “Utena” really taken this format to extremes, with a lot of the scenes/dialogues being used to set up the duels being recycled to the point of annoyance. In the black rose saga, for example, every episode follows the same formula of some person with some personal problems getting told that their only option is to “revolutionalise the world”, and it just seems laughable that it’s the answer to all their problems
“My cat has died.”
“I see. Your only option is to revolutionalise the world.”
“I’ve lost my favourite red pencil.”
“I see. Your only option is to revolutionalise the world.”
“I got a hole in my left sock.”
“I see. Your only option is to revolutinoalise the world.”
You wouldn’t believe how sick of that phrase I became. The dialogues often borders on absurd and smacks of lazy scripting.
But because of all the repetitions this show has, on the rare occasions when it does makes a deliberate change to the script, the contrast can really pack a hefty punch, and those episodes shines all the more brightly because of it. It’s hard to say whether this is a positive thing because the resulting effect can be so refreshingly wonderful, or whether it’s a negative thing because the show’s repetitions drove me to the point where I end up over reacting to the smallest change. Probably a bit of both. Perhaps it’s all deliberate, and you may say I’m missing the point as I’m unfairly criticising what it’s aiming to do, but just because some chef *deliberately* poured a bottle of vinegar into a dish in order to give it an extra zany kick doesn’t change the fact that he’s completely ruined the dish as a result, and it doesn’t make me feel much better knowing that it’s all intentional when I’m gagging from the taste.
As someone who’s really into character driven shows, I did not find the characters of “Revolutionary Girl Utena” to be particularly interesting in general. There’s too much posturing and general displays of shallowness. Every week Anthea the souless doll gets slapped for some petty reason as she’s the scape goat for everything; most of the girls are annoyingly vain, but most of the guys are even more so, and need no encouragement to unbutton their shirt and start poncing around. There’s an irritatingly large amount of time devoted to this, while more fascinating characters like Jury are criminally under used. Admittedly, by the end, most of the characters do reveal themselves to be more than just faceless people in a dull crowd, but still, with a couple of exceptions, I found it hard to care about most of them at any given point in the show. It says a lot that I’m more interested in what Anthea’s pet monkey Chu-Chu is doing than what most of the characters – Anthea especially – is doing. At least Chuh-Chu’s crazy antics, in particularly when he’s battling his arch enemy the frog, never ceases to amuse me.
Speaking of amusement, the nature of the humour in “Utena” is random, and whether it’s effective or not also seem to be pretty random. There are times when it works but then at other times it’s just… random… without being at all amusing.
The similarities between “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Utena” comes mostly from comes from the apocalyptic themes and also the mountain of symbolisms the two of them contain. If anything “Utena”‘s use of symbolims is even more aggressive than that of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” – they’re constantly being shoved into your face and, to be honest, I found it all a bit too much. As the author Stephen King once put it, “Symbolisms exists to adorn and enrich, not to create a sense of artificial profundity,” and there’s a sense that “Utena” is more of the latter than the former. In my opinion, symbolisms should be done with a subtle touch, preferably integrated into the show such that they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. This way, it can be nice when you get them and you don’t feel like you’re missing out if you don’t. The fireflies motif from “Grave of the Fireflies” is a textbook example of how I think it should be done. The intrusiveness nature of the symbolisms in “Utena” on the other hand, feels like it goes against the whole spirit of the concept, and it results in some completely bizarre scenes (f*cking cars popping up all over the place, anyone?) that can really be frustrating if you’ve no idea what these weirdass symbols are supposed to mean.
In terms of production values, “Utena” also comes up short. Other than the ludicrous amount of reused footage that I’ve already mentioned (they should consider displaying “Warning: Contains at least 25% reused animation! on their DVD boxes), the sound production quality also comes off as something more dated than it actually is. I was unimpressed by the much lauded soundtrack that consists a lot of rather experimental sounding songs with gibberish lyrics relating to apocalyptic themes. What’s worse is that those songs tends to stick out badly, so not only did I not like them, I also found it hard not to take notice. It does improve in the second half of the show (I particularly liked the second ending theme, and one of the eyecatch themes is nothing short of beautiful despite its short length), but overall the sound department mostly comes off as a poorly produced, failed experiment.
But despite the amount of time I’ve just spent bitching about the show, I actually think it’s good. It’s just that I found it a lot easier to identify the source of my negative feelings towards it than the positive. I guess there’s an odd kind of enjoyment to be had in “Utena” by turning off the part of your brain that’s grounded in reality, and there’s a certainly a kind of magnetism about the show that keeps it interesting. Amidst all the surreal madness, some of the direction is undeniably brilliant, especially in its execution of twists.
Ultimately, “Utena” is a show that’s far greater than the sum of its parts – in spite of the overly repetitive animation, the overly similar shallow, vain individuals in its cast, the overly aggressive use of symbolisms and the overly filler nature of the story etc, the whole thing works surprisingly well. I just wasn’t blown away, that’s all.
1: Kenpuu Denki Berserk
MAL Score: 8.51
Born from the corpse of his mother, a young mercenary known only as Guts embraces the battlefield as his only means of survival. Day in and day out, putting his life on the line just to make enough to get by, he moves from one bloodshed to the next.
After a run-in with the Band of the Hawk, a formidable troop of mercenaries, Guts is recruited by their charismatic leader Griffith, nicknamed the “White Hawk.” As he quickly climbed the ranks in order to become the head of the offensive faction, Guts proves to be a mighty addition to Griffith’s force, taking Midland by storm. However, while the band’s quest for recognition continues, Guts slowly realizes that the world is not as black-and-white as he once assumed.
Set in the medieval era, Kenpuu Denki Berserk is a dark, gritty tale that follows one man’s struggle to find his own path, while supporting another’s lust for power, and the unimaginable tragedy that begins to turn the wheels of fate.
But the main elements, the magic that made the epic manga what it is are all present in the animated version. Guts, The Black Swordsman, is still the hapless avenger wandering in search for revenge and peace of mind. The world in which the story is set is still that medieval realm right down to the brilliant castles with their greedy landlords, the disadvantaged common folk, and the never-ending wars. And, perhaps most importantly along with the characters, the story is still the same tragedy of fate, friendship and love.
Perhaps one point of criticism for some could be the outdated artstyle. Having aired more than ten years ago, the art and animation will inevitably seem rough and simple for those (like me) who’ve discovered anime rather recently, through recent shows with more high-tech appearance. Upon closer look, however, I’d say that instead of a shortcoming, Berserk’s old-school animation works exactly in the shows favor. The story is, after all, rough by nature and set in an age long gone, in which case the ancient animation actually accentuates the overall mood quite nicely. I wonder if the series’s impact would’ve been the same had it been done in the 2000s, closer to this day. I dare doubt it.
An avid listener of music though I am, I rarely pay much attention to the tunes played in anime. But whereas most shows fail to catch my admiration with their musical score, Berserk did so in spades. Far more than once I found myself being chilled to the bone as the horror scenes rolled in, aided by terrifyingly fitting ominous sounds without which the anime’s horror elements would’ve lacked greatly. In comparison, the joyful tunes of bonfire festivals, the musical elegance of the upper class’s dances, and the emotional pieces of the more waffy scenes all help to highlight the sentiment of each situation. 10/10 score for this department; a true rarity given by me.
One might wonder why I’ve so far mostly talked about aspects many would consider minor in comparison to an anime’s story and characters. Well for one, both animation and music contribute so much to the show’s overall score that there’s nothing minor about them in this instance. As for the other reason, if I’d start to go on detailing bit by bit what makes the story and characters of Berserk so unfathomably excellent, we’d all soon be looking at a review of more than 10,000 words. And since reading all of it would be that much more away from your Berserk-watching (or reading) time, I’m going to keep it simple. Just imagine a story so compelling and layered you’ll truly find yourself gasping at times, a cast of characters so real you actually start to care for them though they don’t even exist, and a high-fantasy medieval world so immersing you can almost feel the reality around you blur away.
But an adaptation from a manga as this is, there’s no way to escape the shadow of the original work. An no matter how excellent an anime this is even forgetting the manga, fact of the matter is that Berserk is the greatest MANGA ever made, and the anime is just a colorful side-kick next to it. At the beginning of my review I said the anime loses to the manga in nothing but length and detail. True. But ponder on this: the anime is one of 25 normal length (a bit over 20 minutes) episodes. The manga is one of over 300 and still going on chapters. The conclusion being, Berserk anime loses A LOT to the manga in length and detail. I didn’t even care to count all the scenes an details of the original work that didn’t exist in the anime, and now as I’m doing so for the sake of writing this review, I can’t help but note that, again, A LOT is lost when such a number of details that helped understanding the characters in the manga, for example, are nowhere to be seen in the anime. To refrain from writing a novel-length review, again, let’s just say that even though Berserk manga had nothing but text and black and white drawings to reach me, I never felt nearly as immersed by the anime as I did by the original.
Be that as it may, Berserk is truly one to deserve the title “epic” in the history of anime. It is an obligatory watch for anyone who likes Japanese animation. It is a classic right there among Evangelion, Miyazaki’s works, or any other anime one might deem ageless and undying. It is right there among them, shining in their midst as the bloodiest gem of them all.
One of those people is a young man called Guts, who we find introduced as The Black Swordsman. Along the way we’ll find out how he came to be a warrior more powerful than any other human, with death more than just nipping at his heels from his very birth. He isn’t merely your average war-torn soul—he embodies the desire to live on the battlefield, choosing to relentlessly face his fate head on and swinging a sword that might as well be a tombstone as tall as a man. His dogged ferocity endears Griffith, compelling him to draw Guts into the Band of the Hawk. Here he also meets Caska, a dark and fiery-tempered woman second only to Griffith in terms of skill and leadership; second to none in terms of honor and loyalty. And thus our tale truly begins.
It is a story about a world full of evil and brutality, of dreams and despair, where people struggle to find themselves in the midst of it all and define the meaning of their existence. Friendship and love are slow to come, but when it’s there it’ll bring tears to your eyes, for the relationships forged in Berserk are more meaningful than almost any you’ll find in anime.
You will soon learn that there are no limits to Griffith’s ambition, nor to his charisma. A leader that seems to grace his era as if stepped right out of a painting, his Band of the Hawk serves him faithfully, offering their own hopes and aspirations to his “bonfire of dreams”—for simply being near him seems to promise glory. He is also in possession of a strange relic—an egg-like pendant bearing ominous notions…
Berserk is not for the faint of heart (or the very young), brimming with violent battles and head-to-head confrontations resulting in dismemberment, bodies sliced entirely in two, blood and entrails by the bucketload, and some very intense sexuality including rape and molestation.
The quality of the animation here varies somewhat from time to time, but it is always good enough, and frankly needs no real mention because it is so overshadowed by every other quality here. That said, there are some pretty stunning moments of gorgeous animation—particularly during the action scenes—but most will likely think it looks somewhat bland by today’s standards. I urge you not to let this deter you.
I’ll make note of the music, since that is certainly one of the most enjoyable things about Berserk. Some viewers might recognize Hirasawa Susumu’s very distinguished sound from other anime like Paranoia Agent and Paprika, and it is all extremely memorable. You will find yourself whistling along when “Forces” chimes in, and various other tunes are used to delightful effect, heightening the emotional impact of already emotional scenes.
Berserk’s finale is one of the most notoriously shocking cliffhanger endings in anime history. The story arc covered by the anime is known as the “Golden Age” of Miura’s manga, encompassed by volumes 4-13. One might even advise a newcomer to skip the first episode (a flash-forward that takes place beyond the ending) and save it to watch after the 25th, but this might not even be necessary—anyone who is truly drawn into this tale will feel compelled to read the manga afterward. This is such a layered and powerful story, filled with so much ugliness and beauty, that you will almost inevitably be drawn in. Berserk is a true classic.
There are three major themes that mark this series: (1) MEDIEVAL, (2) GORE, and (3) PHILOSOPHY.
This is why I think this is a great series: this combination of themes, which is already rare in anime, are very well incorporated together as a complete story.
The (1) MEDIEVAL theme brings the setting of the story. creating an atmosphere where the gore and philosophy can develop together. This also sets the pace of the story based on the technological circumstances of medieval culture. The slow nature of this large-scale medieval story allows enough time to unravel the deep characters.
The (2) GORE theme accents the philosophy, reinforcing characters and foreshadowing the character progression by their behaviour in battle. This is a real treat to see the battle behaviour contrasting with the respective characters you’ve watched develop (Most notably the main protagonist).
The (3) PHILOSOPHY theme is a major feature to the characterization in the main characters. The characters and their actions are defined by their varied internal philosophies. With a very distinct difference in character philosophies and a heavy story focus on them, central story events are marked by relationships between these philosophies.
SOUND: At first glance, the soundtrack seems to be lacking with only 11 songs (Including intro and outro). However, the placement and feeling (And sometimes repetition) of these soundtracks is well done, giving the story great fluidity and emotional propulsion. Voice acting and sound effects are well done, even on dub. Voice acting most notably reflects the characters well, save for some of the demons.
ART: A rough art technique is used in this series, with unique design. Both of these accent the themes by reinforcing and elevating the serious nature of this anime (As opposed to the chibi art design). At times there is an over usage of scrolling single pictures in place of animation, which works as both an advantage and disadvantage. The advantage: it is reflective of the pacing of the anime. The disadvantage: it can be too slow (Especially in the beginning when the story is slower).
STORY, CHARACTER: Probably the greatest strength of this anime are it’s story and characters. The story and characters grow simultaneously making the world of Berserk very lively. Most of the typical anime cliches are steered clear of here (with the exception of one blatant one), which really improved the effectiveness of the story and characters. With a unique and lively world, Berserk captures a lot of realism for an anime.
OVERALL, ENJOYMENT: This is definitely not a lighthearted anime. It can be embraced to the extreme of obsession (Like me) because of the interesting, deep perspectives that operate in the story. The good development quality only makes it further enjoyable. But this anime is truly for a certain crowd because of its extremely deep nature and depictions of extreme brutality. This is going to be a ‘hate it or love it’ sort of anime.
(Updated August 2008: Touched everything up a bit; explanations should be clearer now. =] Thanks for all the positive feedback.)
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Kenpuu Denki Berserk
2. Shoujo Kakumei Utena
3. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars
4. Ie Naki Ko Remy
5. Akachan to Boku
6. Hana yori Dango
7. Chuuka Ichiban!
8. Saber Marionette J
9. Kyuuketsuhime Miyu (TV)
10. Battle Athletess Daiundoukai (TV)