They’re the best Anime that 1998 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou, Master Keaton, Chuuka Ichiban!, and more!
10: Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
English: His and Her Circumstances
MAL Score: 7.60
Yukino Miyazawa is the female representative for her class and the most popular girl among the freshmen at her high school. Good at both academics and sports on top of being elegant and sociable, she has been an object of admiration all her life. However, in reality, she is an incredibly vain person who toils relentlessly to maintain her good grades, athleticism, and graceful appearance. She wants nothing more than to be the center of attention and praise—which is why she cannot stand Soichiro Arima, the male representative for her class and the only person more perfect than her. Since the first day of high school, she has struggled to steal the spotlight from her new rival but to no avail.
At last, on the midterm exams, Yukino gets the top score and beats Soichiro. But, to her surprise, he congratulates her on her achievement, leading her to question her deceptive lifestyle. When Soichiro confesses his love to Yukino, she turns him down and gloats about it at home with only a hint of regret. But the very next day, Soichiro visits Yukino house to bring her a CD and sees her uninhibited self in action; now equipped with the truth, he blackmails her into completing his student council duties. Coerced into spending time with Soichiro, Yukino learns that she is not the only one hiding secrets.
At first glance, Kare Kano is your average high school romance story. Thankfully, the odd personalities of the two leading characters break the idea of this just being another romance story. Kare Kano does contain the usual shoujo romance story elements when it comes to the trials for our main couple (jealous outsiders, temporary separation). But originality is able to come through with the way the leading characters handle their problems, often ending in a comedic resolve to their troubles. Besides the usual love trials, Kare Kano also features a number of interesting side stories about the support characters, so if you’re not a fan of the main couple, fear not, there are other amusing couples in the series as well. Unfortunately, Kare Kano’s story takes a nosedive with the lack of an ending. The last few episodes continue to build the plot up, but the series simply ends before anything can come out of the previous events. This is one of the greatest annoyances when it comes to Kare Kano, especially if one is not a manga reader.
The animation is more or less quite poor in Kare Kano. Taking into account this show is from 1998, anyone can easily see the budget was definitely not allocated to producing good animation. The first half of the show had its moments, the animation in this part of the series were acceptable. One of the techniques that the producers used was to cut out still images directly from the manga, which can be both a good and bad thing. Obviously this saves the producer a lot on cost of actual animation and some may think it is quite cheap of them. But I would think majority of people feel the black and white manga images added to the atmosphere of the show, especially in the moments they were used (which were when things became more serious). The second half of Kare Kano was when the animation began to lose its charm. More still images were constantly being used. Episode 19 of Kare Kano had the entire episode made up of cardboard cut outs, which were stuck on sticks and moved around (like a puppet show). The last five episodes were horrendous, a lot more of the manga pictures were being used, but rather then adding to the atmosphere, it just made the entire show feel cheap. The final episode barely had any animation at all, simply still images.
The sound in Kare Kano is one of its stronger points. The opening and ending have catchy pop songs that some may or may not like depending on their taste in music. There are also a number of enjoyable piano tunes in Kare Kano. All in all, the background music fitted well to the mood in this anime. A good pat on the back for the Japanese voice actors of Kare Kano as well. The VA for Yukino (the leading female) did a wonderful job in bringing out Yukino’s two faced personality, as did the VA for Arima (the leading male). If anything, the only complaint I have for the Japanese VAs was the one for the supporting character Tsubasa. I only felt her voice did not feel right.
Perhaps Kare Kano’s strongest point would be the characters. The leading couple is two somewhat eccentric two faced people (particularly the female) who pretty much break out of the stereotypical shoujo couple. The leading female, Yukino is an absolute riot to watch. You will witness her stressing over the smallest of things, unbelievable for someone who at first glance seemed to be the most perfect person you could find anywhere. Supporting characters such as Asaba and Tsubasa are also equally enjoying to watch as their odd personalities fit in perfectly with Kare Kano’s quirkiness. Character development is very thorough in Kare Kano, with even Yukino’s parents having screen time to develop their back stories. The only negative feature when it comes to the characters is that even towards the end of the show the characters are constantly built up with development, only to have the show end before anything could happen.
For why I enjoyed Kare Kano, I was previously a fan of the manga already. My favourite character would definitely have to be Yukino for her weirdo personality and decisions to solve her problems. I also really like the ending song, which I thought was perfect. Albeit I was definitely frustrated with how the show ended. The terrible animation was just painful for me to watch (especially the last 6 or so episodes). And I thought it was a poor decision on the producer’s part to end the show like it would end every other episode, and slap on a “The End”. I mean, nothing ended at all.
Overall, despite its obvious flaws Kare Kano still manages to be a favourite amongst the shoujo lovers for its interesting array of characters and somewhat unique storyline for the main couple. If you aren’t normally fond of stereotypical high school love stories, try giving Kare Kano a try. It’s recommended though to continue with the manga after watching the anime if you want to see how the story ends, since you won’t find any ending from here. So yeah, If you like comedy, romance, weird characters and high school settings then Kare Kano will probably be for you.
His and Her Circumstance, Kareshi Kanojo no Jijyou, Kare Kano, whatever you want to call it, there is one important thing you should know about this romantic comedy: not once at all does the male lead accidentally faceplant into the female lead’s breasts, nor does he accidentally see her naked when her towel slips off, nor does his hand by chance find its way onto her butt.
Instead, they have sex.
And this is what sets Kare Kano apart from all the other romance anime that have come out in the last decade or two. Those anime are not romantic comedies, they are comedies with sexual tension. The romance in Kare Kano is real romance. Yukino and Souichiro’s relationship is treated realistically, seriously. They meet, they fall in love, things progress. It has a remarkable authenticity, especially in the early episodes.
The comedy element works, too. Yukino Miyazawa, who obsesses over being the perfect student, gets snapped back into reality by a rival perfect student, Souichiro Arima. But while she is left dejected, he ends up smitten. The comedy is character-based, feeding off the hesitation and awkwardness from the two teens as they muddle their way into a romance. Yukino’s family also provides good comic material, especially in the parents, who had their daughters a little too early in life. Other character types are explored: the sassy athletic girl, the jealous girl, the cute guy who’s hard to figure out, etc. But these side characters don’t get in the way of Yukino and Souchiro’s story.
The series is based on Masami Tsuda’s manga, and its weakness is its format. Even with the legendary Hideaki Anno of Neon Genesis: Evangelion fame at the helm, the series suffers from a lack of budget and abundance of static images. Scenes that read quickly on Tsuda’s pages get stretched as filler on screen. The most annoying thing about it are the episode recaps, which on a couple of occasions approach the three minute mark. That’s three minutes that the writers unfortunately couldn’t fill. The budget only gets worse as the series progresses, and when we get to the final episode it’s almost unbelievable that they go as far as they do. No colors, no animation, just line drawings. No full cast either, just two narrators.
The series ends not even halfway through the full 21-volume run of the manga. What the series does cover it covers quite accurately, so the story itself is as strong as the pages of the book, but Kare Kano, for all the quality they could squeeze out of it, remains rough and unfinished. The anime is enjoyable, but I highly recommend reading the manga.
Miyazawa and Arima are one of the most interesting couples in anime. Both suffer from psychological issues and create a fake persona to use in public. As the series progresses, both must learn to discard their masks and be truthful with themselves and each other. Miyazawa has a bad inferiority complex. She is jealous that she isn’t naturally a genius or athletic, so she spends all her effort trying to trick others into thinking she is. She has a low self esteem and has a pathological need for constant praise. Without it, she would fall into a helpless depression. Arima was born to abusive parents who were a disgrace to his wealthy, extended family. He is so terrified that he will become like his parents or that people will associate him with his parents, that he creates an angelic persona. Even though many of his extended family hate him anyways, he must act perfectly or he fears he will lose the love of his aunt and uncle who raised him. We create masks to deceive others into thinking we’re better than we actually are. However, no good can ever come of lying to yourself.
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” – The Brothers Karamazov
Besides the excellent main couple, His and Her breaks free of several constraints that anime places on itself. Both main characters actually have family that you meet! I want you to think about how rare that is. I’ve seen over 950 anime and less than 10 of them have 2 main characters that each have a father, mother, and siblings that we meet. Anime characters always are orphans or only have a mother or their parents are overseas. Despite the great emphasis that Japan places on family, anime is paradoxically terrified of portraying families!
You know what other taboo this show breaks? The 2 main characters ACTUALLY HAVE SEX in a shoujo anime! If you’re new to anime, you probably can’t appreciate how rare this is. Space Brothers lasts 99 episodes and the main couple never have sex or get physical in any way. Nodame Cantabile is the same way. What about Spice and Wolf, which always makes the top 5 for best couple in anime? Nope! No sex, no kissing, nothing. You sit through 26 episodes of economics lectures to watch the main couple get together and…you get a Wonka ending. “You get NOTHING! You LOSE! Good Day Sir!” The only anime I can think of where the main couple have sex are Berserk (good example) and Future Diary (bad example). As a shoujo, His and Her stands alone in completely unexplored waters.
Finally, you get all the psychology and character drama of Eva without suffering through the most laughably obscurantist plot in the history of anime. A plot filled to the brim with half baked ideas and homages to ancient mecha like Ideon. The central conflict of the entire series is that the Angels are attacking humans. After 26 episodes you never learn why. After Death/Rebirth and End of Eva, you STILL don’t know why. If you want to learn basic, essential plot details without consulting the internet, you have to watch the reboot movies, buy the 15 video games and the Japanese Daizenshuu. Can you imagine any other work of art that’s held in any esteem getting away with that shit? “Yeah Bro! I just finished Werckmeister Harmonies. Now I need to beat the video game in order to make sense of it! I got through the circus level, but the whale boss keeps kicking my ass!”
The character art is shit. I can’t tell which characters are adults and which are children. Miyazawa’s parents don’t look any older than her younger siblings.
Due to massive budget issues, the first 5 minutes of every episode are a recap using previous animation. That way, they only have to animate 17 minutes of new footage each episode. Even that wasn’t enough, so we get popsicle stick characters and animation that’s so bare bones it’s a joke. Also episode 13 is entirely recap. What the FUCK was wrong with Gainax and meeting their budgets? I think they must have blown all their cash on cocaine and hookers.
The secondary characters aren’t really that great. They don’t get enough time to really develop, but do get just enough time to steal from the main characters in a way that hurts the show.
The original mangaka HATED this adaptation and apparently thought it was pretentious. So she drove down to Gainax, screamed at Anno, and pulled the plug on a second season. Anno went into a deep depression and walked off the series after episode 18. The rest of the anime after that point is garbage. Even the most diehard fans of this show don’t watch episodes 19-26. It’s like the Post-Kyoto Arc part of the Rurouni Kenshin anime. It’s so bad it doesn’t exist in the minds of the fans.
His and Her Circumstances isn’t a series for everyone. However, if you have patience and can get over its shortcomings, you will witness one of the most unique and moving romances in anime! Hell, it just might be the greatest anime that Hideaki Anno has ever made (that isn’t Re: Cutie Honey). I can’t get my offline friends to watch this one, and half my online friends dislike it. However, I love this anime and beg anyone who hasn’t seen it to try it out!
9: Master Keaton
MAL Score: 7.60
Taichi Keaton is a half-British half-Japanese archeologist and SAS veteran of the Falklands War. He solves mysteries and investigates insurance fraud for Lloyd’s around the world.
Ex-SAS, Archeologist, part time lecturer, traveler, historian, Insurance agent; Taichi Hiragi Keaton is a Jack of all trades and a “master of life”. He is simple, intelligent, humble, and a moralistic goody-two shoes infused with the love of life and the possibilities it brings.
The show itself is an exact mirror reflection of its main character; a “Jack-of-all-trades” in that it touches a wide variety of genres and themes, from slice-of-life, romance, mystery to historical, war drama, thriller. It dips into almost everything an anime of its premise possibly can. And the result is a flawed masterpiece packed with enough surprises to make it an easy recommend for old-school anime fans.
For people who are on a lookout for episodic shows that are relaxing and can be watched slowly over time, Master Keaton could be a good choice. But the show can appear to be a bit too bland or simplistic for some, especially anime fans who prefer currently airing or recent anime; the reason for that is that Master Keaton is an old school “realistic” seinen, a genre that is largely ignored by a majority of anime viewers, and its animation is barely decent, even for an anime of its time. The show also lacks the bombast or extravagance of recent anime, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on what kind of a viewer you are.
On a related point, some of the sensibilities the show displays are quite simple at times, such as the mostly black-and-white morality, or the importance of bonds or friendship (a favorite theme in anime), or the single dimensional personalities of some supporting characters, but these characteristics are more preference based rather than something that could be singled out as a flaw; indeed, these “sensibilities” are a part of the show’s personality and make thematic sense, despite the fact that they result in simplistic cliche’s at times.
On the flip side the anime is quite intelligent, in a sense that it is set in a real world setting, though stylized to suit the anime medium, and grapples with story concepts that haven’t been seen in any anime. Despite some episodes being predictable, and a few bearing clichés, most of the stories are very engaging. In fact, there are at least a handful of stories that I can safely say are among the most unique and well written in any medium of entertainment, and the show is well worth the watch for these few episodes alone.
Its greatest strength, though, is its simple yet charming personality, and the staggering variety of stories that it tells. The writers have made excellent use of the standalone format to give some of the best variety in episodic anime/manga yet.
For instance, in one episode we see Keaton in Burgandy as an insurance agent to investigate one of the most expensive wine bottles in the world, and in the next he is escorting a fugitive through swamps while his criminal buddies attempt to rescue their leader from his clutches. Another episode sees him deep in the mountains of Spain being hunted by a highly trained K9. And in yet another episode we see him spending summer vacations in Japan with his dysfunctional family.
Any other show with such a variety would either fall from the burden of its own elephantine ambition, or succumb to acute schizophrenia. But not so Master Keaton. Its stories are never convoluted or over-ambitious, and it never forgets its identity. Diversity may be the key here, but the aesthetic values remain the same.
In the sound department, the use of music is not always perfect but it’s quite fitting. The overall OST is among the more memorable ones I have heard yet and suits the series perfectly. The dub version does a good job of making the anime feel “global”, as different characters have accents that correspond to their backgrounds, which obviously could not have been done in Japanese. But the English VA direction falters at times, and the overall delivery is not always convincing. The Japanese voice acting, by contrast, is pretty solid.
Lacking in budget, the animation is not as great as some anime from the same period, but it is very much passable. The basic art style is very similar to Monster, which is not the only solid proof of Naoki Urasawa’s involvement in the project. The anime has a strong European feel to it, as the stories take place all over the world, especially that particular part. The art style, music and writing suits this well, and helps create the right European feel, without sacrificing the anime-specific elements.
Despite the flaws, “Master Keaton” delivers something unique that you will not find anywhere in the medium. Its niche oriented content might drive away some people, but its worth checking out for fans of 90s anime and episodic shows, and anime fans who are looking for stories that are more grounded in the world we actually live in.
Master Keaton’s greatest asset is its variety. One episode it is a mystery, the next it is an action show, and the one after that it is a slice of life. The show really does end up getting it fingers in to almost every genre there is. To go along with the different genre, the show is in a different place every episode. In the rice patties of Japan and then in the hills of Scotland. Walking into the beginning of every episode and not knowing exactly what to expect is probably my favorite part.
Unfortunately as much as variety is the show’s greatest strength it is also its greatest weakness. Any RPG player can tell you a jack of all trades is a master of none. The show ends up falling into that same problem. I wouldn’t say that the show does anything down right poorly but it definitely doesn’t do anything extremely well.
Mr. Keaton himself is kind of a James Bond meets MacGyver except he is really dorky. He plays the buffoon and no one ever really expects him to be good at anything until he makes his move and it is too late. Keaton has basically had every job in existence. I really like how the show handled Keaton’s past. The show gives you little bits of information here and there; in almost every episode there is something new introduced about Keaton. It could be something important and explored the whole episode, or it could just end up being a few lines where one more job is added to his already long resume. Most of the other characters are only one episode characters. There are a few recurring characters, like Yuriko his daughter and Daniel O’Connell a friend of his. But even these characters only get a few episodes. I think all the characters are likable and well done for the time given to them but not a whole lot is done with any of them.
The animation is kind of interesting in that it looks older then what it is. The show came out in 1998 but I would have guess the early 90’s to maybe even little earlier. I don’t mean to saying the animation is poor, it just seems that art style is from a earlier era. Characters in the background tend not to be draw as well. It also has a more realistic looking than most anime but at the same time it is just cartoony enough to not look overly realistic either.
The quality varies a little episode to episode and it false to do anything particularly well. On the other hand it has great variety and I really enjoyed the lead character. Master Keaton didn’t exactly WOW me but I could see someone else falling it love with it. I would probably recommend some other shows before this one to someone but I think it could end up being worth wild to check it out and see for yourself.
This varies from episode to episode to be honest, some are solid 10s, others are lower, but there’s no real bad ones to be fair, just ones that are more interesting than others. Plot episodes vary greatly, one episode Keaton might be disarming a bomb with chocolate, surviving in the desert, or making a windmill to bring water to local plants so he can finally have his perfect pudding. Therefore how much you’ll like the series depends almost entirely on….
Taichi Keaton is a great character, plain and simple. The only other non-episodic characters include his daughter, his business partner, and his father, none of whom get a lot of development, but that’s ok because Keaton himself is more than interesting enough. If you like watching smart characters, you will probably like this show.
Eh, it’s just not overly memorable. Naoki Urasawa’s signature character designs are well executed, but music, not bad nor good nor memorable and animation and art? So-so. It doesn’t bring the series down by much though unless you really really care about that stuff.
This is the type of show you watch for Keaton alone, if he sounds like a character who interests you, go for it without hesitation! The dub has a lot of iffy sounding accents that I don’t think quite work, not the best of dubs either, but certainly and underdog that needs more watching. Everything I’ve said applies to the OVA equally as well.
8: 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.
7: Serial Experiments Lain
English: Serial Experiments Lain
MAL Score: 8.05
Lain Iwakura, an awkward and introverted fourteen-year-old, is one of the many girls from her school to receive a disturbing email from her classmate Chisa Yomoda—the very same Chisa who recently committed suicide. Lain has neither the desire nor the experience to handle even basic technology; yet, when the technophobe opens the email, it leads her straight into the Wired, a virtual world of communication networks similar to what we know as the internet. Lain’s life is turned upside down as she begins to encounter cryptic mysteries one after another. Strange men called the Men in Black begin to appear wherever she goes, asking her questions and somehow knowing more about her than even she herself knows. With the boundaries between reality and cyberspace rapidly blurring, Lain is plunged into more surreal and bizarre events where identity, consciousness, and perception are concepts that take on new meanings.
Written by Chiaki J. Konaka, whose other works include Texhnolyze, Serial Experiments Lain is a psychological avant-garde mystery series that follows Lain as she makes crucial choices that will affect both the real world and the Wired. In closing one world and opening another, only Lain will realize the significance of their presence.
Introduction: I find myself typing this review thinking more about the conceptualization of existence, than the anime itself. Above all, there are two standards I hold true for anime. There are anime that simply entertain for the sake of enjoyment, and there are anime that stretches the boundary of human imagination. Serial Experiments Lain falls in the latter category and for this reason Serial Experiments Lain stands out as a true classic. Serial Experiments Lain pushes the envelope of what the perceived notion of what can be done with television as a medium. The show doesn’t just provide entertainment; it provides insight, and profound views and beliefs about technology and the role it plays in society. With that said it’s time to get on with the review.
Story: Given that Lain’s story progression is very disjointed, if the execution were to be even off by the slightest, the show would have been ridden with plot holes. Lain however doesn’t need worry about plot and story in the same sense as other anime, but instead relies on the atmosphere and the characters to tell the story. What little plot Lain does have, the show works with it fabulously. Now some may argue that Lain is completely plot driven, but to each his own. Personally I believe that Lain strays as far as it can from bland episodic story telling, and in essence is similar to Citizen Kane in the aspect that the story has little to do with the show. Lain above all is a character study, and the plot only moves forward under the characters.
Art: Despite the art being off center in terms of traditional anime, it hardly deters from the overall enjoyment of the series. It is important to note that the series actually benefits from the unique art style presented in Lain. Art is not a big pulling factor for Lain, so if you are a fan of high quality art, you may be in for a rough ride.
Sound: The series relies on a minimalist approach to sound and music. Dialogue is sparse, but very profound. Sound effects are seldom used but with brevity, and has a lasting impact on the viewer. Once again, this lack of a quality that would normally be detrimental to an anime’s enjoyment, but becomes one of Lain’s strengths. The sound of the electricity running through power lines, the empty sound of Lain typing on her keyboard, and the scarce use of music. These are all memorable pieces of sound effects that adds to the overall impact of the show.
Character: Now this is where Lain shines brightest. In a vast wasteland of mundane same-old, Lain sticks out as an anime that takes its characters to a level that most anime can only dream of achieving. The character of Lain is perhaps the most deep and relevant characters in anime today. To explain upon this point, one would have to watch the series and comprehend the various themes and motif’s on one’s own. But in order to be brief, Lain’s character can be summarized as ascending from human status, to near God like power through the prowess of the internet. Ahem, I mean, “The Wired.” It’s a simple concept and seems like it has been done before, giving credit to the argument, and it probably has. But the beauty here is the cast of side characters that surround Lain. Her sister, her father, mother, and friends, are all extremely deep characters, that although don’t appear to be, are actually extremely poignant in their own right.
Enjoyment & Closing: If watched with an open mind, Lain will do more than simply entertain. It is truly revolutionary anime for its time, and the amount of depth in the show is utterly staggering. Never in my years of watching anime have I seen a show as thought provoking as Lain. If one were so inclined to contact me, we could talk for hours upon hours of the religious symbols, and religious references that run about the shows course. We could then change the subject to comparing Lain’s character to that of philosophy of the Jungian Shadow. We could converse and discover deeper and more universal meanings as time progressed. Lain is such a show that the viewer doesn’t just watch it. The viewer must be pushed to think, and who doesn’t want to do a bit a of thinking once in a while?
Serial Experiments Lain is a paragon of many dimensions, and completely unparalleled in many more. It’s a masterpiece of intellectuality, and utterly unparalleled in providing a mind-warping trip into extreme psychological and philosophical themes whose impact lingers and haunts like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
This is going without saying that Serial Experiments Lain is one of the most inaccessible creations of art to grace the medium of Animation, and it is difficult to even describe its complexity. There is a broad range of ideas, all of which have massive depth in their facets, which could all be focused on as a main point. Generally, these themes involve technologies impact on society, thorough deconstruction of the internet, the psychology of an impersonal god, Etcetera. In addition, the massive breadth of theoretical possibilities to many of the open-ended points in Serial Experiments Lain’s plot and themes is without limit.
There is more things to breakdown and go into detail than could ever be summed in a simple article, especially considering the more subjective aspects. What I will going into is the realistic nature of the setting and plot of Lain, the mechanics of the show, and ultimately to the madness that lies within the later themes of Serial Experiments Lain.
**Section 1: Exposition Methods & Related Devices**
Concerning the plot of the first half of the show, the delivery is extremely cryptic and mysterious. There is little aspects of the plot structure in which one definitive point is summed up, rather it’s ever-evolving, chapter-less, and amorphous. Points are conveyed not through clear, upfront events, but through innumerable small details continuously revealed throughout the course of each episode. Everything is a puzzle made up of tiny little fragments of information, the bonding of each piece comprising of the viewer’s continuous contemplation and theorization of what is going on, and what is next. Eventually, through no clear, definitive point, but over a general expanse of time, the big picture clicks into place.
The latter half of the show, starting somewhere in the 6th episode or so, is an even higher dimension of intellectual exposition. In the first half, the themes involved with each small detail conveyed would be mentioned some way or another. The philosophical notions and ideas, as well as most of the psychological aspects, are found entirely through the viewer’s own questioning. This side of the plot, which holds some of most powerful ideas and content of its genre that I’ve ever witnessed, are never expressed in any moment through the face-value of events that occur, but entirely through the varying levels of connotations. There are no narratives, clear explanations, or dialogue, only the viewer’s ability to string together the numerous implications of events into powerful, complex systems of ideas.
The methods listed places Serial Experiments Lain on a level of intellectual sophistication that is, as of this day, unrivalled. Common tropes of exposition found in mainstream Japanese animation usually involve not only singular points of very direct narratives or dialogue, but outright illogical halts to events taking place in way for spoon-feeding the audience information to degree’s that outright kill immersion, or even break the 4th wall. Serial Experiments Lain is the absolute anti-thesis of this. Through the constant connotation-heavy, cryptic exposition, almost the entire burden of figuring out what is happening is placed on the intellect of the viewer.
In tandem with the exposition method is the pacing of the events that occur. Particularly in the first half of the show, the pacing for the most part is slow, drawn out, and takes it’s time with every detail presented. It’s true that it goes over-board in this regard at some points, however, it’s inextricable to success of the shows exposition method, which I will demonstrate in an analogy: If I were to present a person with a puzzle, demand it to be pieced together quickly, and then toss all pieces in the person’s face, said person wouldn’t make heads or tails of the puzzle. A puzzle is formulated and solved one piece at a time until the bigger picture is revealed.
This illustrates the key function of the slow pacing in the show. The significance of each bit of information presented is only designated by how each scene takes its time in revealing said information. If the show were to completely scrap this pacing in way for a faster speed, nothing would be able to serve as a cue to the importance of a bit of information versus an irrelevant bit. The viewer wouldn’t be able to register enough information to form a bigger picture, and the exposition as a whole would simply fail. In order for the cryptic nature of the exposition to not fall into incoherency, lengthiness of time must be utilized.
*Section 2: Realism – Part I*
Suspension of Disbelief is a critical aspect of Serial Experiments Lain. That is, the complete lack of any cause for disbelief what so ever. Before I go on about how Serial Experiments Lain achieves a grounded sense of tangible realism, and why it’s so relevant later on in the anime, I’ll first explain a few things about disbelief, and what too much suspension of disbelief can do to the emotional impact of an art piece.
Disbelief is what naturally arises when a viewer witnesses something that is extra-ordinary, fundamentally different, or super-natural in relation to the real world the viewer lives in. Disbelief isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if there is plenty of aspects of the show that are congruent with our own reality, or that the extra-ordinary premises are developed into some kind of sensible system I.E. if you can present a sufficient amount of science or logic behind what’s happening. However, regardless if it affects the show negatively in an immediate sense, which it can very much do, inundating a viewer with material that requires vast suspension of disbelief changes the nature of the effect.
Take a show like Naruto for example, where the characterizations are almost nonsensically dramatic and flamboyant. It’s true that it’s very entertaining to watch, but in reality, no one is going to spontaneously pass out at the sight of a tasty bowl of noodle soup, or yell at someone with so much force that they are lifted off their feet and fly ten blocks away, let alone survive.
An even better example, which highlights the negative aspects of what disbelief can do, is any sort of prelude or interlude you might find in a standard Shonen anime Ala. Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, or Soul Eater. In these scenes, usually, each side spends inordinate amounts of time explaining things. These explanations can be either totally nonsensical in the context (a villain explaining every fighting move he uses to the protagonist, or vis versa), or reach eye-rolling lengths (rants that go tens of minutes in length with no real reason why fighting isn’t happening. (I know it’s called filler material, and I don’t care))
The primary flaw in a consistent need for the viewer to suspend their disbelief is that the long-term impact of the show is lessened in proportion. While suspending one’s disbelief opens you up to the realm of the ridiculous and the fantastic, it also increases the emotional distance from the show and the real world. A viewer might get swept off their feet by a story about forest spirits and cosmic gods, but once we return to our daily lives, “real world” begins to over-write and obscure the emotions lingering from the experience. This is because the premises we are subjected to outside of the show have nothing in common with reality. In this regard, Serial Experiments Lain is incredible in a sense that not many show’s I’ve seen have achieved.
This quality, which is the utter lack of any cause for disbelief, is facilitated in two key ways, the first being the characterizations of the show. Just like the qualities of the expositions method (and by extension the existence of the entire plot), this is also an inaccessible part of the show. The characterizations of the show are, for lack of more interesting words, straight-forward, serious, and extremely mundane in a very “real life” way. This may seem like the shows biggest down fall, due to it lacking any sort of conventional values of humor, drama, goofy/silliness, or any sort of distinctly Japanese flavor of ‘wacky’. However, these issues are only skin deep, as they, just like the plot, serve to ground the viewer in a sense of absolute realism when the later half of the show begins to take off. That is, in the moments of absolute madness, there is no point in which the idea that “this could happen to real people, or people I actually know” falters.
The second key point is the plot. Speaking of which…
*Section 3: The Setting, and The Wired*
The plot elements involving the first half of Serial Experiments Lain are absolutely crucial to formulating the basis of, as well as a sense of logic and realism to, the second half of the show, which is where the truly transcendental madness lies. In particular, the plot concerning who and what Lain Iwakura is, what The Wired is and it’s functions, and what it’s relationship with humanity and Lain is. It’s important to note that The Wired’s relationship to Lain and the rest of the Human race are drastically different. However, due to the fact that the progressions of the plot lines aren’t found in singular events, but arrays of small details scattered through out each episode, there is a sort of vagueness to the origin of each idea presented in the show. This makes the subject extremely complex and difficult to even approach.
The initial setting of the show centers around a junior high schooler named Lain Iwakura. Lain is a very shy, distant, and extremely detached individual. She has a group of female friends which act typical in whatever ways junior high schoolers act, and they occasionally spice up there lives by going to an underground nightclub. It’s all extremely mundane and normal, until things take a turn into the unknown when strange occurrences revolving around something called “The Wired” begin to happen.
Initially, the appearance of The Wired seems to be the show’s equivalent to the internet, both technologically and sociologically. However, the nature of The Wired is revealed to have drastically different dimensions, mainly in the distinguishability between itself and the ‘real world’. This is illustrated through quite a few events that happen through out the first 4 episodes.
In the details of the first episode, one of Lain’s classmates commits suicide. A period of time after Lain Iwakura discovers this, Lain starts receiving emails from her dead class-mate which claim that “she crossed over into The Wired”. These emails show, somehow, that her conciousness still exists. Another series of events involve depictions of people undergoing strange hallucinations in episode 4. One of which particularly involved a teenage boy who seems to be undergoing what, on the surface, seems to be a severe hallucination of being trapped in some kind of dungeon-based video game. Ultimately, the boy ends up killing a girl he believed to be some sort of dungeon monster… What follows this is very crucial, and has vast implications.
After the event, Lain is shown gathering details on the incident, and what is gathered is that the boy had desired to play a video game (called Phantoma) with in The Wired. After this bit of detail, Lain’s father approaches her and engages in a dialogue, saying that Lain must remember that the only function of The Wired is to contain and transfer information, and that it’s not to be confused with the real world. Lain responds with a denial of this, stating that the difference between The Wired and reality isn’t clear at all. This dialogue, coupled with how the incidences involving people playing video games in The Wired, which resulted in experiences that completely blended with their perception and sense of reality, begin to point toward the nature of The Wired as something that is able to manipulate the conciousness of those who are connected to it.
In the episode 5, through the fragmented dialogues involving Lain and a variety of floating puppets, it’s revealed that external reality is a “Hologram” of the information contained within The Wired. Everything that ‘exists’ is simply centralized projections of the collective information that The Wired contains. The final progression is wrapped through two key events. The first is Lain’s sister, Mika, getting into a car crash. Through some freak accident involving her connection to The Wired, Mika’s mind gets duplicated into two separate instances, both of which begin to have their own experiences and become their own individuals. The second point comes much later in the show, where the exposition on the origin of The Wired, and its purpose, takes place. This exposition shows that later in the development on the technology behind The Wired, a scientist named Masami Eiri began to implement the ability for The Wired to become permanently connected to people on an unconsciousness level. The scope of this implementation was not just singular targets, but everyone on Earth. This is what is referred to as “The 7th Protocol of The Wired”.
So… What does it all mean? What exactly is The Wired, ultimately? It is two-fold: technological, and metaphysical. Concerning the technology behind The Wired, it’s some kind of global array of devices which, through some means, fundamentally affect the psyche of everyone on the planet. Through out the show, Physicalistic Mind-philosophy is a position taken as true, specifically that the human mind is electrical impulses in the brain, which can be affected and manipulated like any other electrical system. This presumably involves some sort of machinery that can wirelessly interface with, and therefore manipulate, human brains. However, there is another side to the technology, and that is the digitalization of conciousness itself. To put it more in the semantics used in the show, the complete translation of the human mind into a construct of information contained completely within The Wired, which can exist independent of any brain or body. This seems to be largely the case for most people later in the show, and is actually what happened to Lain’s classmate who killed herself in the beginning of the show, so it’s safe to presume that this is the universal case.
The second dimension of The Wired is metaphysical. To a universal, omniscient perspective which theoretically isn’t connected to The Wired, The Wired is simply psyche-affecting technology. However, given the truth explained about how mind’s who are connected to The Wired are completely integrated into The Wired, the meaning of The Wired when considering limited, human observers is absolutely fundamental. As explained in Episode 5, everything experienced by someone who is connected to The Wired are projections, or ‘holograms’, of information stored within The Wired. Given the fact that all of humanity is connected to The Wired, this logically means that the entirety of all experience-able and observable reality is The Wired, and any other conceivable basis for reality is equivalent to non-existence, due to how minds contained within The Wired having no means of experiencing something outside The Wired.
It doesn’t stop there. The Wired’s fundamental link to all observable phenomena goes beyond what is external to the human observer, but actually extends to the mind of each human observer itself. Not only is external phenomena projections of information in The Wired, but every level of mental phenomena that make up concious beings are simply autonomous constructs of information as well. This key fact serves as the basis for how everything, including the minds of human beings, can be manipulated, created, or erased in any way or means. This ties in with who Lain Iwakura is.
*Section 4: Lain Iwakura*
To preface, Lain Iwakura is an extremely detached individual. Lain is detached not just in a social way, but in a completely fundamental way: She seems to not really ‘connect’ with the entirety of her own reality, as if something were very subtly… wrong. Coupled with this is how utterly lost she is with in here own mind. I find this very intriguing and relatable because of how similar this behaviour is to my own, due to some aspects of my own mind. I often have my attention detracted into ‘clouds’ of mental noise that are usually extremely ungrounded in reality, at times bordering on out right craziness. This psychology is quite similar to Lain’s own kind of wanderings with in herself.
However, in exactly the same sense of how The Wired has unfathomably vaster facets to itself than its initial appearance, there is too more to Lain Iwakura than meets the eye. Actually, what is met by the eye at all would be closer to outright deception. Firstly, the name “Lain Iwakura” doesn’t actually refer to one particular person, but more accurately describes multiple beings…
From the get go, Lain Iwakura’s exact identity, in terms of it being singularly defined, is brought into confusion in the first few episodes, particularly when she visits the local nightclub. In scattered dialogues she has with various people that enjoy the night club scene, Lain Iwakura is talked about as if she is two different people. At one point a boy flirts with her, asking her to come back when she is her “wild side”. Another point is when the DJ of the club makes some sort of inquiry to her, only to dismiss her because “she wants to play her shy kid side”. During a few brief incidents, particularly involving a person who actually commits suicide in the night club via shooting himself, Lain is shown abruptly switching to a much more assertive, aggressive demeanour.
At first it simply seems to be the inklings of a Split Personality Disorder. However, episode 6 through 7 add a dimension to the problem. In episode six, Lain Iwakura is shown wondering through projected landscapes of data in The Wired (different from the projections that make up of Tokyo), attempting to find a certain scientist who worked on the technological prototypes of The Wired. In these scenes, she is entirely in her “aggressive” persona. In the beginning of episode 7, Lain speaks with her computer, expounding that there is a Lain in The Wired different from the shy Lain Iwakura, which is who she sees as herself. I feel it’s important to consider the occurrences shown in episode 5, involving Lain’s sister Mika. As discussed on what the implications of those events were, Mind duplication is possible in The Wired, and considering this, the dialogue at the beginning of Episode 7 begins to point toward the problems with Lain’s identity going beyond mere Split Personality Disorder.
There is another aspect of who, or more appropriately, what Lain Iwakura is, and this ties directly into the identity crisis that is about to come to a boil. Specifically, what is Lain’s relationship with The Wired…
Inklings of Lain Iwakura possessing some sort of great power of some nature are littered throughout the first 7 episodes. Lain is usually mentioned in almost all the dialogues describing the nature of The Wired, as well as the existence of some sort of ‘omnipresences’ or ‘god’ within The Wired. Whenever she is mentioned, she is described as carrying some immense power, or that her will is somehow crucially important.
Two particular incidents should be considered. The final scene of Episode 2 involves Lain Iwakura and her normal group of friends hanging out in the night club. At one point, a man shoots and kills a random female. Everyone begins to clear out of the club, but Lain stands transfixed. The man recognizes her for some reason, insinuates that Lain is somehow forcing him to the actions of homicide against his own will, and referred to her as a “scattered god” (At least in my version of the Japanese to English subtitles). The second incident is around the middle of Episode 6, where Lain Iwakura is interrogating the scientist behind the prototypes in which the technology behind The Wired was based off of. Shortly before the end of the discussion, the scientist claims that Lain is extremely important to The Wired, and that she has unspeakable potential.
This finally leads us to the smoking gun: Episode 8. Around the beginning, Lain is confronted by her normal group of friends. Her closest friend, Arisu, begins to ask if Lain is guilty of something, though Arisu fails to specify what this exact something is. After repeated questioning, Arisu drops the accusation and wanders off. From this point, Lain has some rather vivid panic attacks involving quandaries about her other “me” in The Wired, worrying about what that “other Lain” did, and confused on the matter of who she is.
At the 14 minute mark on, things become clear. Arisu is shown, in her bedroom, sexually stimulating herself to a fantasy of one of her teachers, which is obvious by his imaginary figure standing over her. All of the sudden, from the corner of Arisu’s eye, Lain is seen sneering at her from Arisu’s bed, tangibly and physically. With a persona clearly different than the ‘Shy’ Lain Iwakura, the ‘pervert’ Lain beginnings to mock Arisu for her fantasy, and laugh in response to Arisu’s accusation of Lain spreading rumours of her perverse desires, which sends Arisu into an emotional fit. To fill in the rest of the context, Arisu was initially suspecting that the ‘shy’ Lain started a rumour about her fantasies about this specific teacher, when the ‘pervert’ Lain actually caused the initial rumors.
Simultaneous to this event, the ‘shy’ Lain is shown, physically and tangibly, lying in her own bed in a fit of panic. What follows can only be described as a artistically surrealistic depiction of a mental breakdown, which involves a conflict between the ‘aggressive’ Lain and the ‘pervert’ Lain on who each of them are, or who the “real” Lain is, and, to her distress, the ‘shy’ Lain is forced to endure.
Following this is a scene somewhere outside the projections making up Tokyo, the ‘aggressive’ Lain is seen talking with a concious being in the form of a shape-shifting sliver blob, who actually turns out to be Masami Eiri, the scientist who implemented the “7th protocol of The Wired”. This time, it’s flat out stated that Lain is an omnipresent being within The Wired. After a series of denials, Lain concludes that if what Eiri said is true, she could simply “delete” all the information involving the nasty rumours spread by Lain about Arisu. Information, in this case, meaning everyone’s memory. Eiri agrees and asks her to try it…
… And then Lain succeeds in doing exactly that, proving Eiri true. After a scene simply showing the word “deleting…”, the ‘Shy’ Lain Iwakura is shown walking to school, when her group of friends greet her in a very chipper fashion. As they run to her, Lain deduces that she actually did what is equivalent to ‘erasing’ the events surrounding the rumours from existence, as no one remembers it: She deleted all memory of it from The Wired. Just as Lain attempts to return their greeting, another Lain tangibly manifests itself from ‘shy’ Lain’s position, greeting her friends in a very socially engaging way clearly different from the ‘Shy’ Lain Iwakura. All this occurs as if the ‘Shy’ Lain were some sort of imperceptible ghost to the event, as no one actually senses her presence. Lain is left in denial, saying “Stop it! I am me; I’m over here”. In a state of shock, she watches her group of friends leave with the other Lain, when she is suddenly confronted with the ‘pervert’ Lain. She says “Lain is Lain, I am Me”, and the whole scene fades to white. The episode ends with the ‘Shy’ Lain asking her computer to affirm whether “I am me, and that there is no other me than me”, clearly in an inescapable quandary of the nature of her fundamental existence…
So what is Lain? Lain is the ‘admin’ of The Wired. Lain is a being capably of creating, erasing, or changing any and all information in The Wired at her will, and capable of existing and moving to any point and place within said information. In other words, Lain is the omnipresent, impersonal god of the entire universe in which humanity exists, as she can freely change all aspects of reality at will. The good question is WHO exactly is Lain Iwakura? Frankly, that’s clearly an open-ended question, but from the perspective of the ‘shy’ Lain Iwakura, Lain Iwakura is a multitude of persons, all of which are also “admins” of The Wired. As to who the initial or real one is, this is impossible to answer, as each one Lain Iwakura fundamentally interferes with all the social and external functions of every other Lain Iwakura, as well as the possibility that every Lain Iwakura can create or destroy other Lains, meaning any one Lain could have been the first.
*Section 6: Realism – Part II*
Everything said so far has paved the way to what is the crown jewel of what Serial Experiments Lain offers: the philosophical themes and psychological contexts, which I’ve somewhat touched upon already. However, before we finally journey into said madness, I feel there must be some final precepts that have to be covered.
In philosophy, particularly in the abstract and fundamental categories such as metaphysics or ontology, proper and convincing execution of any idea is an easy performance to fail. The logic behind a particular conclusion can wane to many unjustified leaps and gaps, tend toward insubstantially tangential pseudo-intellectuality, or degrade into nonsense. Generally speaking, the most common instances of anything resembling abstract philosophy in modern media is either wildly exaggerated poor critical thinking, or entirely based upon “what ifs” and unexamined presumption. It is a shame that this is so because abstract and existential philosophy can create some of the most profound experiences that can be conveyed, if done right.
It is from this aforementioned point that Serial Experiments Lain draws its greatest virtue: despite the utterly extreme degrees it achieves, everything is grounded with in what can be reasonably deduced or implied from the premises of the plot concerning the world, Lain Iwakura, The Wired, and its effect on humanity. Despite its venture into solipsistic-esque notions and profoundly Lovecraftian epistemological themes, not once is there a vast gap in the substance that spawned such extreme quandaries. Unlike most artistic creations concerning extremely disturbing abstract philosophy, Serial Experiments Lain actually provides a satisfying sense of logic to a degree that completely dissuades any doubt. Not only is the logic of such extreme notions solid, but the premises making up said logic are realistic and scientifically feasible.
Most of what happens in terms of philosophical and psychological horror is completely based in highly advanced levels of wireless technology, an absolute understanding of how conciousness works in the brain, which allows for its manipulation, and global-scale virtual reality. True it might be that these extreme levels of technology are offset by innumerable distances of scientific advances that we have yet to uncover, none of the notions present seem so far off that I would begin to disbelieve them. The ‘fiction’ part of the Science Fiction behind Serial Experiments Lain is highly questionable in whether it truly strays from reality. On good example: I am not quite convinced that conciousness manipulation via electronic interfacing with a brain qualifies as outright fictitiousness.
This key point, that the ‘fiction’ behind the philosophical themes might not be all that fictitious; that there is consistent feasibility, solid logical progression, and realism leading up to, and present within, the incomprehensible fringes that Serial Experiments Lains shots for, is the crux of its unforgettably haunting and traumatic effect. These notions aren’t something that can just be dismissed as wildly pseudo-intellectual propaganda, nor as emotional drivel. No… This could actually become a reality one day.
*Section 7: Metaphysics, Ontology, and Mind*
… and so we finally arrive at the monolith of unspeakable magnitude that is the philosophical and psychological contexts of Serial Experiments Lain.
The philosophical ideas and themes, and all accompanying psychological contexts that the show ultimately centralizes on, deal with the abstract categories of thought on a comprehensive scale: Philosophy of mind, free will, the concept of the self, reality, metaphysics, and even epistemology-esque notions. This is to say that Serial Experiments Lain attacks all angles of how we conceptualize the true nature of the reality that the psychological self must function in. The direction of horror selects every aspect of how we think and feel about existence itself, which, by virtue of these feelings and thoughts being the basis in which we mentally interact about the world, totally affects one’s feelings and thoughts on anything conceivable. The structure of the philosophy is also of great merit. The way the notions are presented, and how they connect, is as if one were approaching a vast web of complexity with no clear point of beginning nor end. Every idea presented is either a seamless progression from, directly tied to, or a direct implication of, another idea.
The first theme that develops is the basic metaphysical and ontological thought surrounding The Wired. As I have explained in the sections on The Wired & Lain Iwakura, the definition of The Wired and the “real world” blend until they are absolutely indistinguishable. Minds which connect to The Wired are transformed into digital information in the process. This means that The Wired isn’t merely a virtual reality overlaying one’s sense perceptions, as that would mean that the mind of the observer would be rooted in another “reality” beyond the virtual reality: There is clear ontological difference. When a connection takes place, the mind of the observer becomes apart of The Wired itself, making The Wired the only reality there is, and thus the ultimate reality.
From many different instances in the show, this notion is progressively frayed into a complex network of more specific, sinister ideas. Much of the thought following the aforementioned basic notions blend into Epistemology and further reflections of what reality is to a human observer within The Wired. Serial Experiments Lain introspects deeply upon what it means for something in reality to exist, or specifically, for something in the past to have actually occurred, and meditates on how humans can know of such existences of objects. The entirety of the events in episode 8, where Lain was revealed to be a group of impersonal gods to humanity, as well as many dialogues preceding and follow that episode, show case one ontological idea on the being of events and objects: The basis on which any happening occurs, or pn which any object exists, is human memory. Tamper with the collective memory, and reality is warped, or even destroyed.
Further illustrations which will disambiguate this idea are present in the 8th and 13th episode. As gone over before on episode 8, Lain is capable of removing information from human minds on a vast scale. In episode 13, after a traumatic bout of events which lead to a climatic moment of distress for Lain, involving Arisu’s sanity snapping under the weight of said traumatic events (watch the episodes to find out why), Lain Iwakura erase all memory and records of The Wired, by extension any memory of herself, from existence.
Carefully examining the outcomes of these two crucial events poses a tremendous quandary with an answer of dreadful undercurrents: This would be the fragile dependence upon the human psyche in order for an object or event to exist. If, somehow, any physical trace of an event were to be erased, say, a persons existence, an important part of someone’s life, or a discovery that brought change of monumental magnitude to society, and then following that, the annihilation of all records which preserved the information regarding the subject, could it still be affirmed that it actually happened? If, given these conditions, all memories and mental information surrounding said subject were made void, and any awareness of such removal of information, that is, awareness of one’s own ignorance, were permanently removed, how would one be able to say if something existed or not? To the human observer, what would be the difference between these conditions surrounding an object or event, and said object or event never even existing?
In the omniscient, transcending perspective I am addressing this issue in, this seems inconsequential. However, to the human observer connected to The Wired, with the fallibility and limited scope of perception the comes with our human brains, what then would be the situation? What would be the outcome to someone who not only has their knowledge limited to the information that exists within The Wired, which would include the bundles of information that comprises their mind & conciousness, but also has their scope of awareness, particularly in terms of their own ignorance, limited to said information as well? The answer, with all its terrible implications, is that a comprehensive annihilation of all records and human memory would result in a state indistinguishable from not only the non-existence of said object or event, but a permanent state of unawareness from all of humankind in regards to the subject. It would literally be as if it had never even been conceived before…
From here on is when things get far more complexly intertwined, splitting into two main aspects. When taking into account the events of episode 8 and 13, as well as the fact that minds that exist in The Wired are just as much projections & constructs of information as the objects that make up the world of The Wired, the undercurrent of the previously described Epistemological notions bubbles up into another tremendous quagmire.
*Section 8: Quagmires at the Fringes of Comprehension*
The apposite observation that should be made in light of all these mind-numbing thoughts is the subtle Lovecraftian tone. That is, a tonality that, somehow, a humans sense of reality is frighteningly sheltered: Fragile and insignificant in relation to an un-meditatably vaster nature of reality, whose inklings might all but shatter any sense of sanity or well-being. It is a theme that slowly creeps into one’s mind at the unravelling of each idea spoken of so far. I feel the final nails in the coffin lie within in the epitome of these ideas. Enter the boundaries of Free Will, and its implications on the concept of The Self.
Return one final time to climaxes of the 8th episode. It was shown that Lain was able to erase events from reality due to the ontological nature that the existences of events can only be facilitated by the memory records of human minds… But what did the events of that episode truly imply about what a psyche is? The notion that it is bundles of information with an unspecified level of complexity has been tossed about, but a human psyche of this nature would find a ghastly truth to their existence.
This truth is on the ontology behind what ultimately constructs a person’s mind, which is the experiences that make up their lives. Specifically, that the construction is ontologically sourced from Lain’s being(s), and ultimately her whims. Take a moment and reflect on what built any ideal one might hold in life? Experiences with abuse leading to a desire for compassion in society? A certain sort of wisdom that might lead you from acting upon selfishness and hate, perhaps? Or reflect on any accomplishments one has had? Graduation? A person you were meaningfully intimate with: A mother, best friend, or partner of some sort? How exactly do these things exist to you, and how do they shape your mind? These, ineluctably, are based in memory records. Everything that has happened to us is memory, and therefore, everything that not only dictates our behaviours, but dictates self-image, concepts of who we are, and ways of thinking, are fated entirely from memory.
… And so, with a flick of Lain’s fingers, any comprehension of an ideal would be gone. In the instance of a whim, your warmest memory’s of your mothers love, your best friends companionship, or of all the good deed’s one has done, would turn to nil. The most mind-splitting notion is that any alterations or annihilations of the facets of one’s mind would go utterly unnoticed; The change itself becoming erased by the ignorance of such. You could be morphed from a loving saint to blood-thirsty psychopath, or have one’s mind revert back to an infantile state with the previous life all but erased, and you wouldn’t even know there was a difference. Any sense of there being an independent will, choice, or even freedom of thought, is just an illusion at the consequence of Lain’s prolonged absence. An illusion which can be shattered at any moment of her meddling.
This shattering of the illusion of a free psyche spells an insanity: That you can not escape this ontology, because the nature of your mind binds you to it, and the only alternative is the nothing of non-being. However, the most horrible disillusionment is not for those of human observers, but for the impersonal god herself, Lain. The Lovecraftian flavors of this ontology of The Wired is a double edged sword, with the show climaxing at the blow dealt to Lain… The realization of a near perfect Solipsism.
An underlying instinct of our human nature is that we exist in a world external to us. In order for something to become significant for us, the consequences of it must be outside the meer of mental whims. Engrained within the logical route to instances of meaningful events is that of their independence from us, less they be absolute delusion. Our minds must rely on there being something, or else everything that happens is simply an absurd form of nothing. There has to be a line in the sand between what has happened, and hasn’t happened, and the notion of independence of objects is that which draws that line.
It is this fundamental nature – this line in the sand – that Lain slowly finds herself bereft of. Each time Lain Iwakura alters the environment and history of The Wired, something wanes. At each demonstration on the ontological nature of the events that the Lain Iwakura cares about, there is a scream. A cry that can not be audibly sensed, nor sourced by any visual perception, for it comes from the breaking of a mind: An unfathomable, terrible wailing of a thousand leagues of the void, drowning all paths to meaning. It is the realization that, upon gazing at the truth of her reality, there is no real distinguishing between Lain’s own imagination, and the supposed ‘world’ around her.
This is finely represented in the last episode of the series. In the final confrontation between Lain and Masami Eiri, an incident occured: Arisu witnessing said events. After what must have lead to some abject realization of what the world around her really was, Arisu descended into an unintelligible state of maddening wails. Despite Lain’s attempts at placation, Arisu slipped into to catatonia under the weight of such inescapable truths. In absolute desperation to fix the only thing she really cared for, Lain wished everything back to the point were The Wired didn’t exist….
Once again, reality followed her wish. All memories of Lain’s existence were erased, and Masami Eiri was fired before he ever instigated the 7th Protocol of The Wired (which created the ‘admin of The Wired’: Lain). It seemed as if everything were back to normal, and it appeared as if The Wired was no more, except for one slight discrepancy… Lain still existed.
Now in what seems to be some sort of Limbo in the form of Tokyo, all falsehoods resolve. The entire world in which Lain cared about, in particular, all the minds in which she had a relationship with, are merely bundles of information which exist solely at her word. There are no ‘others’, nor objects. There is no ontological substance to having ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘people’, or any sort of conception which would lead to a meaningful life. Any configuration of The Wired would net the same result: All possible experiences are equivalent to imagined illusions of Lain’s mind, which are held in only an inescapable nothing. From this, Lain’s mind cracks as the finality of her Solipsism-esque existence is disclosed.
That is, until she visited by God, or some other being that is actually independent of Lain Iwakura’s will.
Whatever happened after Lain’s mind snapped, the series closes on something jarringly absurd. Lain finally realizes the true ‘depth’ of her omni-presence, which is that the ontology of time itself based in memory and current awareness of the environment around human observers, both of which are malleable by Lain’s commands. This is shown by her meeting her old friend Arisu, who is now grown up and married, of and completely unaware of the events she had with Lain in her teenage years. They briefly exchange words, with Arisu befuddled with the familiarity of Lain’s visage. As they part, Arisu remarks that she’s sure they will meet again. Lain agrees: They will meet again. ‘Anywhere, Anytime’…
That is, until she visited by God, or some other being that is actually independent of Lain Iwakura’s will.
Whatever happened after Lain’s mind snapped, the series closes on something jarringly absurd. Lain finally realizes the true ‘depth’ of her omni-presence, which is that the ontology of time itself based in memory and current awareness of the environment around human observers, both of which are malleable by Lain’s commands. This is shown by her meeting her old friend Arisu, who is now grown up and married, and completely unaware of the events she had with Lain in her teenage years. They briefly exchange words, with Arisu befuddled with the familiarity of Lain’s visage. As they part, Arisu remarks that she’s sure they will meet again. Lain agrees: They will meet again. ‘Anywhere, Anytime’…
What the ending of Serial Experiments Lain means is possible the most thought provoking aspect of it all. The final thoughts that I am left with is are on how the ‘Shy’ Lain originally came into existence? What does the existence of the ‘other’ Lain’s mean? Perhaps the original ‘Lain’ who was birthed the beginning of the 7th protocol simply saw no meaning or motivation in anything due to her completely blank mind, and the creation of the “Lain of the flesh”, which is what the ‘shy’ Lain has been refereed to, was a means understanding what ‘human’ emotion and meaning was all about. What was the nature of the God-like being who visited Lain? Was he a figment of Lain’s imagination? Are there other levels to The Wired that haven’t been explored yet; Levels which Lain is ignorant of? Perhaps there are many parallel Wired’s, each with a similar being like Lain, outside of which higher beings oversee, and perhaps enjoy, letting these Lain’s play out their existence? These are but a few ideas which are inspired but the absurd, open-ended cliff-hanger that the series concludes on…
The entirety of the experience that makes up Serial Experiments Lain is completely nonpareil. Not simply unparalleled in terms of any mere genre, but of any medium across the board. It is as such because Serial Experiments Lain is a journey, not simply of a character in a show, but for the mind of the viewer itself. It is fall into a monolithic black-hole of completely unimaginable insanity, and a plunge beyond the absolute fringes of existential madness. It is gloriously epiphanous, yet strikes paralysing, abject horror deep into my soul. It is utterly awe-inspiring, yet haunts me to the bone weeks after the mere mention of its name.
In The Wired, we are all connected as one, and there is no escape…
Serial Experiments Lain is not your average show, and definitely not something you run into every day. It is a unique piece of entertainment that completely transcends its genre, and presents itself as a work of art. An avant-garde show, not restraining itself to the boundaries of traditional storytelling and plot building, creating a completely unique and revolutionary piece of media.
This anime series is NOT for everyone. One of the reasons this show is popular even now, two decades after its initial release, is because its plot is still not completely figured out. The story is told in a rather convoluted fashion, which makes the already complex plot even harder to interpret.
Lain is one of those shows that require the viewer to pay full attention to every detail, and challenging them to put all the pieces together to grasp the content of the story. The theme portrayal in this series only becomes more relevant even now, that the use of technology and internet is becoming larger. A nearly prophetic story of what will happen if the lines of reality and virtual world start to blur.
Not only does the show do an excellent job at connecting its elements with its heavy commentary on psychology, sociology and technology, but it also has a very striking approach to the themes of human connection and loneliness, and overall an exploration the existential self in relation to the world. it raises a series of very thought provoking and intellectual questions about identity, existentialism, and religion. The show is also very famous for its mind-bending thoughts about reality, evolution and the existence of God.
Lain’s narrative is rather cryptic, meaning that nothing is told to the viewer directly, but rather gives them the undertone hints and pieces that, combined, make the story. The story is devoided of any dialogue or character’s inner monologue, not allowing the viewer to know more than they should, giving them a strange sensation of being lost, and forcing them to search for answers. Due to the absence of dialogues, the show relies heavily on its visual presentation. It tells its story through massive, yet subtle use of symbolism and visual keys. The series is rich of surreal and expressive imagery, with commonly metaphorical content.
In terms of characters, there are just the two worth mentioning, with one being far more relevant than the other: Lain and her best friend, Alice. They represent the two sides of the same coin, or, in this particular show, a physical world, and the virtual one. Lain is a lonely, shy, and seemingly depressed middle-school girl, who also suffers from a split personality disorder. She is used to portray most of the show’s themes, one of them being a demonstration of the internet’s ability to split ones personality, creating a whole different person online. Alice, on the other hand, is much more down-to-Earth, realistic and communicative. Her character is used to resemble reality, and common sense in general, but she is also the key trigger in Lain’s development.
Also, even though other characters have an important role in the story, and are used as a symbolical representation of a certain element the show portrays, they aren’t as significant as the two aforementioned are.
What i think is the strongest point of SEL’s characters is the manner in which their characterization is done. As a fairly good compensation to show’s lack of dialogue, Lain’s characters aren’t defined through cheesy lines or forced exposition conversations, but rather through their very actions. The show can clearly depict the character with little to no dialogue, only through visual presentation of characters reactions, movement and behavior. In an essence, ‘show’ is of a far greater value than ‘tell’ in visual media, and SEL follows that rule in a nearly flawless manner.
From the technical sides, even tho the show lacks budget and doesn’t have as much production value as most of the shows nowadays do, it still managed to use this in its advantage.
The character designs are much more realistic and humanoid than most of the series. They are devoided of any abstract, but very commonly seen elements, such as weird and unique hair styles, unnatural hair colors, huge eyes and so on. This is due to the fact that the show wanted to make itself closer to the viewer and make them project themselves to the characters easier, but also to set a certain border of reality. In a show where so many surrealistic things happen there must be a certain sense of realism so the viewer can actually see what the paranormal happening is.
Also, due to the lack of budget, the backgrounds in the scene have minimal amounts of details, and a somewhat inconsistent animation. This allows the author to literally point out elements the viewer should pay attention to.
The show also uses lots of repetitive sequences, like the cityscape scene from the beginning of each episode. This is also used quite well, combined with new monologue each episode that really help a lot in the theme exploration. The show uses a very murky color pallet, with two different sets of colors: the deep blue tone, and a thick yellow and nearly sepia tone. This is not only used to locate the time of the happening, which is usually at night or twilight, but also used to switch tones and suggest a certain mood change in a scene.
It is very noticeable that the show lacks music, probably due to the lack of budget. In this certain show, this is by no means a flaw.
For a such a cryptic and mysterious show such as SEL, the absence of music creates a very unique atmosphere. The over-present silence and sometimes a quiet, but sharp techno sound absorbs the viewer in a world shrouded in absolute mystery, creating an atmosphere that perfectly complements the viewer’s feel of being lost.
But also, surprisingly enough, such lack of music and creating an absorbing ambient can be use very well when invoking drama. For example, a sudden hard techno bass after a long period of silence can help in creating a sense of tension, and also signifying to the viewer that he should pay attention to the plot point. This can also work the other way around, when the omnipresent background musing is rashly interrupted by silence, creating a very clear tone contrast.
Serial Experiments Lain is one of the greatest anime shows ever made, and a personal favorite of mine. It takes an absolute focus on singularity, developing its themes beyond the limits, and pulls the maximum out of its platform for storytelling. It has some of the most aggressive and infinitely deep theme explorations ever put in any sort of media. Its story is complex, intriguing, and somewhat immersive, with thousands of plot-twist, fascinating narrative style, and unparalleled and grounded thematic side. A thoughtful and unique 13-episode experience that can only be described as an onslaught of brutal mindfucks, digging deep into the core of your brain. A perspective-changing brain-basher introducing a completely new look onto this so called “reality”.
Close the world
Open the next
6: Kodomo no Omocha (TV)
MAL Score: 8.05
Sixth grader Sana Kurata has a perfect life. Her mother is a (fairly) successful author, she has a young man employed to keep her happy and safe, and best of all, she is the star of the children’s television show Kodomo no Omocha. There’s just one thing bothering her, and that’s Akito Hayama.
Akito is a classmate of Sana’s, and ever since he’s started acting out in class, the rest of the boys have followed his example. Every day, the girls and the teacher wage a battle to keep the class under control and to get some actual learning done. That rotten Akito… Sana won’t stand for this!
The hyperactive Sana decides to dig deeper and find out what makes Akito tick, so class can go back to normal and the teacher can stop spending every day crying instead of teaching. But the more she learns about him, the more she realizes that there might be more to Akito than meets the eye.
Kodocha was the very first anime series I watched from start to finish. Yes, this show was definitely worth finishing. Overall, this anime is a 10, even though outward appearances don’t suggest so. Never judge a show solely on its art.
My friend referred me to Kodocha, saying I’ll definitely like it, but at the time I wasn’t interested in anime, so I wasn’t sure.
I was curious enough to watch it. Admittedly, I was really not impressed with the beginning of the show (Beginning as in, the first five minutes. I guess I saw the pastel colors, so I was a little put off). Quite frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t drop the show within those five minutes, but I’m glad I didn’t.
After the first episode, I was hooked. I don’t know about other watchers, but I was up until the darkest hours of the night watching one episode after another. Each episode ends with a little cliffhanger (sometimes you’re blindsided by a shocking event at the end of an episode), and it’s enough to make you want more.
The story was interesting enough to create an addict out of me. There are a lot of interesting plot points. I suppose there is no singular plot, but there are little “plotlets” that somehow connect in a weird way. In other words, when one problem is resolved, another one forms. It may seem like another cutesy shojo anime, but there are a lot of serious moments as well.
The Art…fair, at best. My standards are high when it comes to artwork (think Satoshi Kon or Makoto Shinkai). The pastel was off-putting for me because the characters and backgrounds seemed washed out. Yes, I am well-aware that this anime was made in 1996, so the art is definitely impressive for its time.
I liked the sound. I really did. Especially the english dub, because Sana’s voice was spot-on. Many people say that Akito’s voice sounded too old in the dub, but I thought it suited the character just fine. His was my favorite voice in the dub. I also enjoyed the zany music (especially the “Kodocha Mambo” and all of Sana’s raps) and the appropriate (not cheesy) music was played during the sad and/or touching moments.
The characters are cute and lovable or wacky, yet endearing. Each character is very different, and I think you can find something to love or hate (good character development means that nobody’s perfect) about each of them. Sana is amazing. She runs by the high of life (and the occasional energy drink) and she has the bubbly personality that everyone likes. But Akito is by far my favorite character. He’s he strong, silent type that seems rough on the outside, but you can tell he has a good heart. If he were real, I would definitely pursue him.
I enjoyed the entire show from start to finish. The funny moments made me laugh out loud, some of the sad moments made me cry (and I don’t cry easily), and the overall crack-craziness of the show was enough to make my entire week.
This was the show that led me into the world of otaku. Good or bad, I’m not sure. I’ve watched a lot more anime since then, but no other series or movie can quite compare with Kodocha. Some have come very close, but they barely missed the mark that Kodocha set. This show will always be number one in my book.
Im serious i was sooo lost at the end of the anime it didn’t make any sense. Although the manga is wayyyy more serious than the anime it makes a lot more sense at the end than the anime and it has a better anime.
P.S. this series may be hard to find i dont know why but every single time the series gets deleted then re-added on youtube. You might wanna try www.veoh.com it has better results for anime than youtube n_n
I am sure that the sellers didn’t know how rare and valuable the series was but I took the advantage anyway and decide to buy the Kodocha DVDs for the total of £26.00 making the second cheapest out of print anime I have ever brought only losing to Bezz My-Hime Anime Legends complete collection set which I brought for £15 on my local CEX store. A week later I got myself the set and I immediately binge-watch it and after watching both season 1 (Episode 1-51) DVD and season 2 (Episode 52-102) online am going to be truly honest with you. This show is not only the best romance anime I have ever seen but it’s also one of the best animes I have ever seen period.
Like with Eureka Seven, My Hero Academia, Full Moon Wo Sagashite and Gundam Build Fighters I never really expected this show to be good but man did this show proves me wrong in every way possible. This was the anime that made not judge an anime based on its cover because while this show has a funky childish cover but man this show completely fooled me because outside the goofy cover this show is pretty dark.
So what made this show so great you may ask? You will soon find out.
The story of Kodocha follows Sana Kurata who is a star of a popular TV show called child’s toy while being in 5th grade. One originally day at school as she goes into class the boys in her class are raising hell. The ringleader of the group Akito has counted the teacher into silence in some sort of blackmail. So, the boys are free too, reach havoc as they please. Very determined too, lead a normal school life Sana targets the ringleader Akito with all of her energy and the relationship and daily lives of Sana and Akito begin.
Now, what do I think of the story of Kodocha? The story of Kodocha is executed perfectly. The story starts off a very simple as boy’s vs girl’s rivalry but as the series progresses it story become surprisingly complex and it becomes a great coming of age story.
The one that I really liked about Kodocha is how it was able to synergize its comedy and romance elements meaning it’s was able to have a nice blend of comedy and romance.
The one problem that I have with a lot of romcom anime in recent memory is how they don’t have a balance of romance and comedy elements meaning they have one genre element taking over the other which is not a good thing for a romcom anime
Kodocha doesn’t suffer from any of those problems because the show knows how to an element in an appropriate manner. The comedy in Kodocha is just amazing because not only they are funny and original but the execution and the timing for the jokes are flawless.
The pacing in Kodocha is great. It knows hows to pace itself for certain arcs and scenes and too, be honest you will never get bored when watching this show.
Surprisingly the show really explores really hard-hitting themes and social topics such as child abuse, divorced parents, teenage pregnancy, homelessness, and adoption and these themes are explored in a very mature way too, the point where the viewer can sympathize with the characters.
Also, when those themes are explored the show goes into a different tone that is suitable for those themes and this show knows how to to use its tone correctly as well blend them.
The one thing I loved about Kodocha is the use of foreshadowing. As early as episode 8 the show does a brilliant job at foreshadowing later events that will happen.
On top, of the shows great directing and clever dialogue Kodocha is very unpredictable with its writing which the writing itself it was great, to begin with.
Kodocha is an anime that will make you laugh, cry, happy and it will keep your edge too, your seats from to finish with great plot twists great and interesting arcs and good pacing.
Overall the story of Kodocha was amazing from start to finish and it’s easily favourite coming of age story in all anime.
When it comes to the characters in Kodocha I thought they were all pretty awesome.
Sana Kurata is an 11-year-old cute redheaded TV film star girl with an uncontrollably hyper and active personality.
Sana is just an amazing character. She starts off a simply uncontrollably hyper character with a lot of passion but as the series progresses she becomes an amazing multi-dimensional character with lots of emotion and depth. Sana is a perfect example of flawed charterer in anime. She is a chararter who barely reacts to emotions and love and every time when facing the reality of life, she will just sing a song so she can keep her positive outlook on life. This obviously, later on, backfires on her because as series progresses others chararters like Akito, Fuka, Tsuyoushi, and Misako start to make Sana face reality where they are grown out of Sana antics completely where they tell her to take life more seriously. Her chararter development in the series is fantastic as this hyperactive girl slowly transforming into a mature young girl who is able to understand love and people feelings.
Overall Sana Kurata is an amazing character and she became one of my favourite female characters of all time.
Next up we have Akito. I personally really like this character Like Sana he is a multi-dimensional character who is realistically flawed in his own right. Not to mention I really adored his character development from start to finish.
Also despite being a troublesome stoic individual he actually cares for Sana deeply. Not to mention he’s chararter reactions towards the other chararters including Sana was great.
His character chemistry with Sana was just awesome as they start off as enemies but as the series goes on they eventually stop being enemies and they start helping with other peoples problems and eventually in the second half of the show they start having feelings for each other.
Overall Akito is an awesome character and he’s easily one of the best Shoujo main leads I have seen in anime.
Misako is easily one of the best moms in anime. She is a great mother figure to Sana she is very likeable and very entertaining to watch and she has a great and well-told backstory. This is how you do a mom-type character.
Rei is another great character that I really liked and he is a great surrogate father figure for Sana. Like with Misako Rei has a really tragic and well-told backstory that the audience can relate.
Tsuyoushi is Akito best friend and the main voice of reason for Akito. Like with the other characters I just mention he is also another fascinating and well-written character that I really enjoyed from start to finish.
Naozumi is another fascinating character I really liked.
Like with Sana he is an orphan where he was abandoned as a baby and both Sana and Naozumi used to spend time a lot with each.
He also has a great story/character arc that was well executed. He’s an also a great love interest for Sana and I really liked the love rivalry with Akito as they fight who is worthy of being Sana’s girlfriend
Fuka gets a special mention to me because she gets a lot of hate from fans of the show for being a backstabber and overall annoying but I actually don’t Fuka as a character, in fact, I liked her quite a bit. Sure I will admit she can be a bit of a pain of the ass to deal with in the beginning but the end of the series she does redeem herself as a charter.
The rest of the characters are all pretty great that have a lot of charm into them.
Overall the characters in Kodocha are perfect. This is easily one of my favourite charter cast in anime.
Visually Kodocha has surprisingly has aged well for the most part least. Studio Gallop really did a great job on the charterers designs, character moment, and the backgrounds scenery while dated was still pretty solid for what it is. It totally has aged well and for a 102 episode series that’s really impressive. If I had any nitpicks with the shows visuals than it would be some use of recycled animation in some of the episodes.
Other than that the visuals were pretty good for the most part.
The soundtrack is honestly great and well executed.
There wasn’t a dull track whatsoever and all of the tracks fit the tone of the series perfectly. My favourite track from Kodocha is hands down Always Be With You. This song is amazingly well made as it perfectly captures the tone with the more emotional moments of the series. Other favourite tracks include Sana Tomorrow, Don’t Cry For Me, Vitamin Love, Goodbye Love, Harmony of Sana and Hayama, Sepia Wind and Kennema De Fuka.
Both openings of Kodocha were really good, catchy and they really fit the mood and the tone of the show. I personally prefer opening 2 over opening 1.
As for the ending themes they were all great.
The first ending theme Panic by Still Small Voice is a great catchy ending theme that I adore. Easily one of my favourite anime ending themes.
While I wasn’t a fan of the second ending theme DAIJO-BU by Tomoko Hikita at first however as time went by the second ending theme grew on me to a point where I liked it as much as the first ending theme.
The Third Ending theme Pinch (Love Me Deeper)” by Rina Chinen is one of my favourite anime ending themes period as it was very catchy and it song itself fits well with the second season of Kodocha as a whole.
Now for sub vs dub.
Both are honestly fantastic for what they All of the actors in both dub and sub really did a great performance in the roles.
Funimation did an amazing job with the dub overall and it added more life to this wonderful series.
Laura Bailey did a fantastic job at voicing the hyperactive Sana Kurata. She is filled with range and her portrayal of Sana was amazing. Easily the best performance in the dub.
The rest of the voice actors did a great job in the roles.
If I had to pick which one is I prefer I would pick the dub even though the dub cuts off after episode 51. Sad times.
Overall the soundtrack is great, the openings were amazing the ending themes were good and both sub and dub are really good.
I absolutely adored Kodocha.
It has everything that I love about romcom. The story is amazing, has great pacing, wonderful theme exploration and its handled in a very mature way. Great and well-developed characters that are relatable to, the viewer. Visuals that have aged well for the most part and the soundtrack is amazing.
Kodocha is a romcom anime done right and it’s not the best romcom anime I was seen but it’s now one of the best animes I have ever seen.
If you’re looking for a great romcom series that deals with heavy themes as well as having great and interesting characters then I strongly recommend Kodocha.
Sadly, Kodocha hasn’t been licensed in the UK by any UK DVD studio but it was once available by Funimation in the USA before going out of print.
I hope Kodocha gets re-licensed someday as well getting a Blu Ray with a new English Dub that has episodes 52-102 dubbed.
Final Score 10/10
5: Cardcaptor Sakura
English: Cardcaptor Sakura
MAL Score: 8.15
Sakura Kinomoto is your garden-variety ten-year-old fourth grader, until one day, she stumbles upon a mysterious book containing a set of cards. Unfortunately, she has little time to divine what the cards mean because she accidentally stirs up a magical gust of wind and unintentionally scatters the cards all over the world. Suddenly awakened from the book, the Beast of the Seal, Keroberos (nicknamed Kero-chan), tells Sakura that she has released the mystical Clow Cards created by the sorcerer Clow Reed. The Cards are no ordinary playthings. Each of them possesses incredible powers, and because they like acting independently, Clow sealed all the Cards within a book. Now that the Cards are set free, they pose a grave danger upon the world, and it is up to Sakura to prevent the Cards from causing a catastrophe!
Appointing Sakura the title of “the Cardcaptor” and granting her the Sealed Key, Keroberos tasks her with finding and recapturing all the Cards. Alongside her best friend Tomoyo Daidouji, and with Kero-chan’s guidance, Sakura must learn to balance her new secret duty with the everyday troubles of a young girl involving love, family, and school, all while she takes flight on her magical adventures as Sakura the Cardcaptor.
The premise itself is fairly typical for a mahou shoujo anime. A happy-go-lucky girl suddenly comes across magical power and begins her quest alongside a cute lion-like caricature serving as her guardian and mentor. Sakura’s role as the chief protagonist is to capture the fifty-three magical cards of Clow Reed, each inhabiting a unique power that inconveniences Sakura and the people around her in some way. Some of these cards are immensely powerful, including the ability to manipulate time and dreams, while others are fairly weak or trivial in comparison and encompass smaller abilities like creating flowers or making objects float. After Sakura fights against the power behind the card and then seals it away it becomes a part of her possession that she can then use at will.
At least, this is how the story first seems.
The series is largely changed and complicated with the introduction of the deuteragonist in the eighth episode. Syaoran Li, a boy from Hong Kong, suddenly transfers into Sakura’s class and disturbs the situation by antagonizing Sakura and competing for the Clow Cards. This relationship serves as the basis for the central theme of the series as their feelings and relationship change and develop immensely, from rivals to friends and finally to lovers. This is a very gradual change and it’s paced well enough that it feels completely natural, a change you might not even notice without retrospect. You contempt Li when he’s first introduced and by the end you grow to enjoy his presence almost as much as Sakura herself.
Shoujo series are a bit infamous for their overly-idealized and sudden romances but Cardcaptor Sakura is again an exception. There is certainly idealizing, sparkles and bubbles, but the depth is there. The feelings between Sakura and Li naturally grow and evolve over the course of the series, with no contrived events used to advance their relationship. There is not even a confession by the end of the 70-episode run, yet there is no need for one as the anime has already communicated how strongly the two feel for each other. Character interaction and body language are used to express this– not conveniences followed by dramatic outcomes. The end result is one of the most natural and endearing romances in anime. As a mahou shoujo it is good, but as a romance it is excellent.
Cardcaptor Sakura is mainly a lighthearted and fun series. Most of the entertainment revolves around Sakura and her interaction with the characters, most notably her guardian Keroberos (endearingly shortened by Sakura to Kero-chan) and her closest friend Tomoyo who often goes along with her to the scene of each card to record footage on her camcorder. Other important characters include Sakura’s beleaguering older brother Toya and the object of her affections, Yukito, a friend of Toya whom she holds a large crush towards. Still, the series does eventually take a more serious turn in the second half after the initial card collection draws to a close. Some characters reveal hidden sides that will surprise the audience and certain side characters develop and become integral to the story. At no point does the show ever feel too silly or too serious; it’s a perfect blend of the two.
Interestingly, there are several elements that deviate from the conventions of most mahou shoujo anime. There isn’t a traditional transformation sequence in the anime nor one unique outfit that Sakura wears when using magic. Instead she wears normal clothing like a regular girl, or rather whatever silly costume her friend Tomoyo decides to dress her up in before the event. This adds a lot of variety to the action sequences and gives the audience a small something to look forward to each episode.
Despite its young demographic and reputation as a family-friendly anime, there are also some surprisingly taboo topics that are covered in the anime. There’s the forbidden love between teacher and student and homosexual feelings between two important characters. The anime does not use any of these elements as shock value, though, simply presenting them as-is with no moral connotation. ‘Love’ is the main theme of CCS and the amount of detail put into the relationships of even periphery character is certainly commendable.
On the other hand, the music here is nothing short of stunning. Some of the songs that play in the series, such as the first opening and the track used when capturing a card, are classics that will stick in your head and be remembered fondly for a very long time. More than simply enhance the experience, these tracks are a large part of what makes the anime what it is. The soundtrack is by far one of most defining and important aspects of the series, and perhaps one of the best in anime.
That being said, Cardcaptor Sakura is definitely not without flaws.
One of the largest complaints can be put on the rather long length of the anime. At 70 episodes it can certainly drag on at some parts in the story. While CLAMP carefully tried to make each episode as engaging and interesting as possible, it’s only natural that some episodes are weaker than others and that some events can become a bit predictable at times. Luckily, this mostly changes in the second half of the anime where the story expands and takes a mostly different direction where more emphasis is put on the characters’ relationships. As fun as each episode is, I can’t help but feel like it would have benefited from a shorter episode count in order for the story to flow better. A 50-episode story would have been a perfect fit, neither too long nor too short.
It should also be mentioned that the changes between the original Japanese version and the English localized “Cardcaptors” are very drastic, and certainly not in a good way. Music and names of the characters are changed, episodes are flipped and mixed together in an odd and sometimes incoherent order, and important backgrounds and plot elements are minimized or removed completely. While certainly not unwatchable, it’s a very toned down and poor imitation of a fantastic anime. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice by watching any version except the original Japanese one.
In a genre where conventions and inspiration form the crux of most stories, Cardcaptor Sakura is a brilliant title that breathes new life into the genre and anime as a whole. While not quite flawless, this is a classic that has acceded its spot as one of the most influential and quality anime titles in recent times. It’s a consistently high-quality, entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking anime that has more than earned its widespread acclaim and influence. This is a title that shows that there is indeed a correlation in storytelling between creativity and quality.
Cardcaptor Sakura has certainly earned its place in history.
The first and second season, in my opinion, is not most impressive plot-wise. It is pretty much very episodic, with recurring goofs such as Sakura’s battle costumes, Tomoyo with her camcorder, Toya always showing up at the right (or wrong) times, Sakura trying to win over Yukito, Kero looking up at the sky saying “Yue” like he’s heartbroken, and Syaoran once again tries to compete with Sakura. The impressive part of the first season is its comedy and action, because it was just amazing. For a magical girl anime, the action was just there. Every scene, suspense, effort, luck, desperation, success, it was there. When Sakura is not capturing cards (she approximately captures one per episode), she enters an environment with heartfelt friendship and goes through life very joyfully and often humorously. Even though the only plot is to “capture them all,” Cardcaptor Sakura such a variety of enjoyment that you will find yourself staying glued to the screen.
The season offers a change of pace as Sakura embarks on a brand new adventure, meeting a mysterious new rival. This is where the plot starts to change, as the cards are no longer the main emphasis of the plot. It is clear that while the cards changed her destiny (in capturing the cards), it also affected her daily life as well. The third season explores how the cards created a new path for Sakura in friendship and romance. This part of the plot is present in the first two seasons, but it became the main focus of season three. Personally, this is when Cardcaptor Sakura won me over. Until then it was just a very addicting and enjoyable show. Season three gave meaning to the cards and provides a few dramatic moments that fortifies the underlying themes and symbolisms the series tries to convey.
If you are new to Cardcaptor Sakura, then you might not realize that it was made in 1998. For its time, the art was amazingly amazing. From the opening sequence, you can point out minor details such as the movement of Sakura’s costume in the wind and the animation of her hair was just so realistic. Voice acting was awesome (and cute), and facial expressions were especially awesome. And then, there are the action scenes themselves. When the cards are released/captured, there’s a “wow” moment that you don’t expect to see in a typical magical girl series. Even though the action isn’t very technical with cool names and gadgets, it features everything from flying, sword fighting, evocations of the elements, and last but not least, Sakura. One thing that cannot be expressed enough is how cute Sakura is portrayed. That may sound stupid, but it’s one of the main attractions of the show.
Not only are the opening and ending sequences catchy, the background music was incredible, simply incredible. From the opening scene featuring Sakura on top of a tower, the music was engaging in every aspect. Then it smoothly makes a transition to everyday music when Sakura introduces herself, and finally to the suspenseful and catchy battle theme that everyone loves. One of the main complains about the dub (Cardcaptors) was that the music was changed. The original music was excellent, and it fits the situation it is for very well.
For an anime like this it’s tough to be perfect character-wise, but which anime masters character portrayal, right? The anime focuses the most on Sakura, Kero, Tomoyo, Syaoran, and Meilin, as expected, since they’re the main characters. Of course Toya and some other characters I don’t want to spoil have their roles also, but mostly it centers on the elementary students (and Kero). While a good deal of the supporting characters were developed, it is done mostly through inferences and vague symbolism. In a way this is good, because it gives Cardcaptor Sakura a deeper meaning if you see it, but if you don’t, it’s still a very enjoyable anime with minor plot holes. So in short, Cardcaptor Sakura is mainly an anime of character development and emotional maturation, and it mostly succeeded, for the main characters only.
From what I said above, this category would definitely have to be a 10/10. In fact, it has one of the best re-watching values of all the anime I’ve watched. The first time you go through the anime, it’s just plain enjoyable. The second time, you tend to pick up symbolism and motifs from here and there. That “ah hah” moment where everything clicks makes the series even more enjoyable, because it connects its episodic attribute to the main plot more closely. Cardcaptor Sakura just enjoyable no matter how you look at it.
An interesting character in Cardcaptor Sakura is Meilin. She is a filler character, meaning, she is not in the original manga. However, her roles are clearly defined and becomes one of the major plot-driven characters at the end of the anime, as well as being a very consistent character. One example is how I regard an episode that dedicated to her as one of the best, even though it is a filler. The addition of Meilin is not for the detriment of the plot, and I applaud the excellent direction it took to incorporate such a character.
Another factor that might affect some viewers is how everything is in rōmaji or English. At the opening sequence, Sakura’s name tag says SAKURA, the cards are in English, even how Sakura says them is in English. There’s just a lot of convenient things here for English watchers, something curious but gladly accepted.
If you watch this anime, then watch out for some controversial topics. The first one is homosexuality, which is present plainly in one relationship, and very vaguely implied in a couple of others. It would certainly bring up some questions for younger viewers, but in the end, the anime explains it in a very fitting and safe way. Still, it could be a concern but it shouldn’t stop you from watching it. It’s safe to say that yuri/yaoi isn’t a main component of the plot.
Another controversy is incest, the legal kind (in Japan). While a non-Japanese audience might be a bit uncomfortable of a first cousins relationship, it is best to keep in mind that in Japan, it is completely normal. There’s no weird things like brother/sister, mother/son, or stuff like that, so don’t worry.
And there’s a third kind of relationship explored in the anime, which is an innocent student-teacher crush. The anime never really goes anywhere with it, but it’s nice just to mention that it’s there. The one important thing to keep in mind is that all these three types of relationships do not affect the enjoyment of the series in any way. Relationships, after all, are part of the main plot, and they should be treated in an adult manner.
Lastly, although it’s something that not many cares, there is death. Throughout the series, no one really died, but the motif of death, angels, and the afterlife appears frequently. It’s listed as a controversy due to the assumed target audience (young females), but in the end, death is one of the aspects that gives more meaning to the plot.
As much as I don’t want to bash Cardcaptors, I feel that it is relevant. If you watch Cardcaptors, then my ratings do not apply. These ratings only apply to the Japanese subbed version, as well as what I think is the best version. Get this one if you can!
I can’t bring myself to give this anime a ten just because it carries no major revelations or any of the sort. You can argue that the ending is pretty dramatic, kind of, but the main purpose of the anime is to let the audience sit back, relax, and enjoy. Of course I am being harsh because I want something out of every anime I watch, but for Cardcaptor Sakura, enjoyment alone is enough to get it to a 9. Once in a while, it’s good to just watch a series and and enjoy it wholeheartedly.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Story: The anime is “episodic” in nature, usually consisting of single episode stories that most often serve to develop the characters and their relationships with one another, as well as Sakura coming in contact and attempting to “capture” one of the lost cards. Being a long series however, it can begin to feel very repetitive after only a short period of time. Although I think the overall concept of the story is good, I feel as though it could have been executed better, with more emphasis placed on the cards. In some episodes the cards have a very little role, sometimes being captured very quickly. A few times a card doesn’t even show up at all.
Animation: The animation is good overall, a few scenes are reused at times, but I have no major qualms.
Sound: Like with the animation, the sound was done well. There are a few songs I liked, and a few that I didn’t. The voice acting was done well, with voices that suited the characters nicely.
Character: I really felt that the characters were developed nicely throughtout the story. The Love triangle involving Sakura, Yukito and Li developed and resolved itself in the end, giving a feeling of closure after so long. The develop of characters and their relationships felt very natural to me as well. Their actions rarely, if ever, felt forced or out of character.
Enjoyment: If you are a fan of shojo or “magical girl” anime, and can stand a little bit of repetitivness, I would say that Card Captor Sakura is a must see for you. I personally enjoyed it thoroughly despite a few lulls hear and there.
MAL Score: 8.22
Vash the Stampede is the man with a $$60,000,000,000 bounty on his head. The reason: he’s a merciless villain who lays waste to all those that oppose him and flattens entire cities for fun, garnering him the title “The Humanoid Typhoon.” He leaves a trail of death and destruction wherever he goes, and anyone can count themselves dead if they so much as make eye contact—or so the rumors say. In actuality, Vash is a huge softie who claims to have never taken a life and avoids violence at all costs.
With his crazy doughnut obsession and buffoonish attitude in tow, Vash traverses the wasteland of the planet Gunsmoke, all the while followed by two insurance agents, Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, who attempt to minimize his impact on the public. But soon, their misadventures evolve into life-or-death situations as a group of legendary assassins are summoned to bring about suffering to the trio. Vash’s agonizing past will be unraveled and his morality and principles pushed to the breaking point.
As if Vash wasn’t enough for this show, they thought it might be a good idea to throw in a fantastic music score too. Tsuneo Imahori really hit the nail on the head with his work here. Great opening, great ending, and great background music throughout the show. I like some tracks so much that I often listen to them while exercising.
Wolfwood, Meril, and Milly are great supporting characters. The constant bickering between them will trigger plenty of laughter. Not a ton of detail goes into their pasts, but enough is presented to satisfy the viewer.
Animation is from the late 90’s, so it’s nothing crazy. It’s great for the time period though.
Overall, one of my favorite anime shows. Worth a watch no matter what type of series interests you.
[Synopsis]: Vash the Stampede (Onosaka, Masaya) is a legendary gunslinger with a $60,000,000,000 bounty on his head who has attained the additional title of the ‘humanoid typhoon’ due to the way he leaves a path of destruction in his wake wherever he travels. Because of this rampant devastation, the Bernardelli Insurance Society tasks Meryl Stryfe (Tsuru, Hiromi) and Milly Thompson (Yukino, Satsuki) to find Vash in order to evaluate insurance claims and attempt to minimize the damage. The story follows these characters across a desert wasteland as it quickly becomes apparent that Vash is more than a simple outlaw.
Vash the Stampede, while an absolute ace in every category when concerning marksmanship, is also quite a carefree and kindhearted character. From the get-go it is revealed that the destruction that is attributed to him is actually the fault of the countless bounty hunters chasing after the reward for his head. With this in mind, he is perfectly capable of dealing out major damage with his signature revolver however perhaps his biggest character trait is that he always avoids killing his enemies – opting to disarm or at worst cripple them instead. This mindset, while at first a character quirk, becomes very central to the shows primary story after a turn in what could be described as the conflict of naivety. Vash occupies an odd dichotomy of personalities where he can be both silly and comical but gravely serious the next second. Vash’s past and the reasons for his preservation of life are explored fairly extensively and as the story progresses.
Joining Vash on his journeys in the anime are the two insurance girls Meryl and Milly. While Meryl at first doesn’t believe Vash to be the legitimate ‘Vash the Stampede’ she eventually is convinced wheres Milly is much more certain after their first meeting. The two girls serve primarily as comedic characters throughout the show and their exaggerated reactions (mostly Meryl) are the source of a good deal of the shows comedy along with Vash’s antics. They are fairly flat characters and while they have emotions and serious scenes they feel fairly stunted on the development front. As the show grows more serious in the later episodes and the silliness of things is slightly phased out, they continue to tag along but seem to lack purpose.
Lastly, Vash and company encounter a priest by the name of Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Hayami, Show) on their travels who at first fades in and out of the story intermittently but later becomes a more primary character. I would say that Wolfwood’s appearance is a marked improvement to the show as he is more complex and action-oriented than Meryl or Milly. He shares some qualities with Vash, comedic and otherwise, but is overall of the more serious characters in the cast.
As Trigun hails from the late 90’s period of anime it’s art and animation leave a decent amount to be desired in comparison to more modern shows. This aside, the character designs, primarily of Vash and his enemies, are very exaggerated however they don’t feel out of place in the world. The animation itself varies from episode to episode and naturally the more important action scenes are shown a little more love than others but overall Trigun is par for the course. The setting for almost all of the story is a desert wasteland and so there isn’t too much exciting to work with in that regard.
One of my major issues with the show actually concerns its art and animation as I have a problem with how it presents both guns and bullets in the show. Because dancing around bullets is both a good source of comedy and also a clear way to show somebody’s speed of movement in an action scene – a good deal of bullets end up missing… a lot of them. This is highly apparent in that Vash goes more or less unscathed for a good portion of the early episodes – both a sign of his skill but hardly an episode goes by in Trigun where Vash doesn’t dart around screaming comically as a whole troop of enemies looses fire at him. So the problem arises in the over-prevalence of guns and the countless number of scenes where bullets seemingly accomplish nothing. When the show relies greatly on the threat of a gun in someones face (which happens multiple times episodically) it somewhat damages the tension and gravity of things when we are conditioned to think that the guns and bullets ultimately don’t mean much.
The show starts out feeling fairly episodic in nature – Vash travels to a city, he is pursued by bounty hunters or encounters a problem already in the city, action and comedy ensue and he moves on. This formula is used for the first 10 or so episodes and so Trigun can feel a bit slow to get into at first. The show picks up pace more than you would initially think it would and it also gets reasonably dark in comparison to its early far more comedic episodes.
At the end of the day, Trigun is less concerned with with actual progression of a plot and more with the moral dilemmas associated with Vash’s lifestyle. Why does Vash cherish life so – and to what lengths will he go to uphold his near-pacifist ideals? The show attempts to drum up a discussion of morals by presenting us with a heroic figure who will stop at nothing to protect and help those in need but who will not take the life of his enemy. This very quickly becomes problematic for Vash and only becomes more so as the show continues – eventually becoming the main focus of the show within the ‘primary plot’. Trigun claims to harbor a moral message but in my opinion its a bit lost and unfounded amongst the action and comedy of the show – it pays close attention to Vash’s own morality but fails to bring up points for one cause or another with any real conviction; it is a little flaky in this regard.
The music of the show fits the setting well enough but isn’t anything I would go listen to again after the show ended. As the setting of the show features primarily sand and frontier towns the music is evocative of a wild west environment but there is some sci-fi influence as well.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
I think that ones enjoyment of the show will rely heavily on whether or not one thinks that the show explored Vash’s moral dilemma adequately or not. The show has decent comedy in the beginning and reasonably interesting plot developments later in the show however because the show’s main focus becomes a moral one I think it should be held to that standard first and foremost. I would say without that moral intrigue, the show’s comedy and action would rarely outstrip anything else in those respective genres and so additionally so, Trigun relies importantly on its messages.
I will preface that my rating of this show is bias in that I am no great lover of the Sci-Fi western setting and that a more avid fan of that genre would be quick to give it a 6 or even as high as an 8 if they could overlook some of my more nit-picky qualms listed. The show falls short for me because as I have stated above, because it does not do anything exceptionally well and because its animation (by nature of its time period) is not actively beneficial to it, it appears overly reliant on what I would consider an ill-conceived or half-baked moral question.
I think that anyone that jumps at the premise of a Sci-Fi western should certainly investigate this show as its setting and characters support the genre well. I would also recommend this show to anyone wanting to explore the more ‘classic’ anime as Trigun is very much one of the more storied shows in medium and is the point of many a conversation. To action fans looking for good gun-slinging fight scenes I would recommend this however admit that other shows probably hold greater potential in this aspect. Lastly, to those interested in the shows comedy – it has decent gag comedy at the beginning but because the show eventually discards many of these gags in favor of a more serious tone I would recommend a different show unless your willing to stick around after the tonal shift.
The first half of the series introduces the characters, and may turn some people off by its silliness, but it makes sense throughout the second half. If the entire thing was completely serious, Vash’s character development wouldn’t have the same effect.
The music is very subtle and gets the job done. It’s not overly noticeable, and compliments the scenes quite well. I heard one of the members of the band Black Mages composed the music. The music is very recognizable and memorable for how simple it is.
The characters are extremely well developed and human. Vash the stampede is one of the most multi-dimensional characters created in anime. You may be constantly asking yourself questions about him. So is he a womanizer or a gentleman? Is he a killer or a pacifist? A goofball or a serious, stern person? All of it is very well developed and lets you know that Vash doesn’t have just one side to him. His friend Wolfwood is also very multi-dimensional and developed.
The animation and drawings in Trigun are not so great. They are in fact very mediocre, which is a shame. Many of the lines are drawn poorly, unevenly and the movement is often very choppy and of a low frame-rate (some of the episodes don’t suffer from this, however). The lower quality animation is probably a budget issue, so it’s a little easier to forgive. It must be extremely difficult to craft such a great series under so much pressure.
However, it’s definitely one of the greatest moral dramatic comedies I’ve ever seen. The last few episodes left an impression on me; the show has a very clear and valuable message that has staying power. If you are up for a nice 26 episode series to laugh and cry with, give Trigun a whirl.
3: Initial D First Stage
English: Initial D First Stage
MAL Score: 8.29
Unlike his friends, Takumi Fujiwara is not particularly interested in cars, with little to no knowledge about the world of car enthusiasts and street racers. The son of a tofu shop owner, he is tasked to deliver tofu every morning without fail, driving along the mountain of Akina. Thus, conversations regarding cars or driving in general would only remind Takumi of the tiring daily routine forced upon him.
One night, the Akagi Red Suns, an infamous team of street racers, visit the town of Akina to challenge the local mountain pass. Led by their two aces, Ryousuke and Keisuke Takahashi, the Red Suns plan to conquer every racing course in Kanto, establishing themselves as the fastest crew in the region. However, much to their disbelief, one of their aces is overtaken by an old Toyota AE86 during a drive back home from Akina. After the incident, the Takahashi brothers are cautious of a mysterious driver geared with remarkable technique and experience in the local roads—the AE86 of Mount Akina.
Story: On the surface, it’s about a pretty bland high school guy who’s got a bunch of car-crazy friends… and turns out to be the 2nd fastest driver in Akina. (Who’s first? Ooooh, don’t you wanna know?) Below the surface…? Okay, pretty much the same thing. 😉 Most of the "story" is just a bunch of kids in cars racing through dark mountain passes …or talking about racing through dark mountain passes. I know it doesn’t sound interesting if you’re not into car races, but it was. There’s something about the speed and the pressure and the tension that sucks you into the show. And of course, there’s also your normal sports anime type general plot of competition and desire, rising to the challenge, overcoming obstacles, etc.
Art: I have to say, this is the biggest downside of the show. Especially in the first season. Thankfully, by the fourth season, there’s a remarkable improvement overall in animation quality. One of the most jarring things is the awkward usage of computer graphics for the racing scenes in the first season. There’s kind of an old-school feel to the way the people look and the brightness of the show… and then all of sudden out of no where, there’s a cgi car that looks like it’s from a different decade than the guy driving it. I don’t think I ever got used to that.
Sound: Personally, I always prefer subs to dubs. Here, I would really suggest the subs… the voices for English dub didn’t feel anywhere near as "right" as the Japanese actors. Whenever I heard the dub, I felt like the voices made me like the characters less. The downside of watching the sub, however, is the Japanese soundtrack. Maybe it’s my close-minded American taste, but I would have preferred hearing the hip-hop on the dub to whatever that was used originally.
Character: The main character, Takumi, was somewhat atypical for this genre, I think, and I liked it. Unlike the normal archetypes like the loser who tries really hard or the cocky natural-born genius, Takumi is sort of actually unique: he doesn’t know anything about cars and doesn’t even really like driving. It was a nice way for the series to start because I didn’t care about street racing when I started the show either. So, even though they toss around a little bit of racing lingo, I was never more behind than the main character was… and, as a viewer, I got a chance to become interested in street racing while Takumi got interested in it. I really liked that his development on the show kind of went down the same road that mine did as a viewer. So I thought they did a great job on his character design and development because his attitude and experience is what hooks you and reels you in to what I assume would be an otherwise complicated and technical world of street racing.
Enjoyment: I think you can tell I enjoyed it, right? I had to make mental notes to slow down while driving for a bit after watching the show. Thankfully, I’m too cowardly to try drifting for real! …And let me tell you, my Corolla never drove like the 86. 😉 I think it was also really appealling because Takumi starts off the show as what seems like a normal, typical driver — it made me feel like there was an inner Takumi just waiting to be woken up buried somewhere in me. (There’s not, unfortunately, but I like to delude myself sometimes.)
Takumi is supported by his best friend and racing fanatic Itsuki, as well as upperclassman and lead racer of the Akina Speed Stars, Iketani. Also important are the opponents Takumi races against, most notably the Takahashi brothers, elite racers whose region-ruling elder brother Takahashi analytically plots to defeat the new unstoppable racer. Initial D’s cast is generally realistic and likeable, with mild yet distinct personality archetypes. Characters are passionate about their hobby and take it seriously, but winning or losing at the sport is hardly considered the end of the world. Takumi’s interest in cars and racing grows at an appropriately slow pace and noticing the nuances of his changed perspective on the subject is rewarding and feels natural, but beyond that little of the cast evolves as people. Takumi’s hobby brings out a competitive spirit in him, but he remains unassertive and distant throughout the season. It’s endearing at first when Takumi is the underdog, his lack of charisma going full circle and becoming genuine charisma when contrasted with his confident opponents, but the small range of his personality gets old. His incompetent relationship with Natsuki is cute and does evolve throughout the show, but is otherwise uninteresting to follow. Natsuki has no involvement with the part of the show having to do with racing, and their chemistry is only supported by the childhood friend angle. I have no idea why Natsuki would be interested in a guy who only gives one word responses, doesn’t start conversations, and has no interests or hobbies, but she’s all over him. The supporting cast is weak because everyone plays diffident comic cheerleader to Takumi. The screeching and melodramatic Itsuki straddles the fine line between endearing and unbelievably annoying, just barely landing on the former because of the few subplots in which his incompetency with racing and people despite his passion garners genuine sympathy from the viewer. Iketani ends up listless outside of a short romantic subplot. He’s supposed to be Akina’s number one racer until Takumi shows up, but what little we see of his driving ability is completely unimpressive and far from knowledgeable about racing compared to the rest of the cast. Takumi is also observed in the shadows by his father Bunta, a former street racer who was legendary in his time, and his boss Yuuichi, an experienced driver and friend of Bunta.
The main attraction of Initial D are the races, but there can be a lot of time between them spent on developing the next opponent, preparation, or comedy/daily life between the main characters. Probably more so than most sports anime. This can occasionally be a drag as the races themselves are never in more than three episodes, with even the final race being a meager two. The anime does assume a fair bit of prior knowledge regarding racing and car terminology on the viewer, and it’s arbitrary which parts are explained and to what detail. I had a particularly problem following the physical logic of the races, where characters would explain how a technique was pulled off but without any kind of visual aid. With little racing knowledge such as myself, hearing about how one of the cars moved by shifting gravity and whatnot seems sensible, but it’s difficult to envision and perfectly understand just through dialogue and the simple racing animations which also makes it harder to appreciate the creativity behind the races and the technique itself.
While the framerate of Initial D can be choppy and there might not be a lot of movement, the art itself is solid and pleasant to look at – for the most part. Many criticize the “fish-like” eyes and lips of the character designs, but they’re meant to resemble original manga artist Shigeno Shuuichi’s art style and it’s distinct otherwise, so I like it. By far the most controversial aspect of Initial D’s animation is its use of computer-generated 3D renders for the cars. CG animation was starting to catch on around this time with many studios believing it was the natural evolution of animation. Initial D’s studios jumped the gun on what was still a niche form of animation and haphazardly shoved it into their series in an attempt to look hip and progressive. The irony, as we know now, is that the CG is immediately the aspect of Initial D that dates it the most. Even though CG was a newer animation form than the cel animation used otherwise, the older form is professionally done by experienced animators and has hit around a universal standard of quality in anime, while the CG is technologically primitive and employed by people who have less experience using it. Initial D’s CG cars are basic models that lack texture to give them a realistic surface and have bold, flat colors that contrast heavily with the surrounding environment of 2D animation. So the animation styles clash, look ugly, and break the series cohesion, but what else?
Initial D’s studios also use the CG as an excuse to cut corners (as is often the case with CG ever since). One of the most noticeable things about scenes with CG in the frames is that the 2D cels they’re on will be completely unanimated. Not only is this awkward if you take the time to notice how everyone and everything in the background is as still as a tree as a car pulls up, but any attempts to mask this lack of moving frames is hilariously embarrassing. A constant technique used is to have a CG car pass in front of a group of people in the background, such as driving across a road horizontally, and then have that still frame of spectators swapped another single frame of them looking in the other direction. Cheap animation has been a part of anime since its inception, but not often will you find a 90s anime that reminds you of Astro Boy of all things. And It really is laziness – I can count on one hand the amount of times the series has 2D animation in the same frame as CG animation, but they can clearly do it. There are also occasional instances of disproportional scales and perspective, where a person standing by a car is way bigger than they should be given their distance. Use of CG also discourages use of traditional animation techniques to emphasize a sense of speed. There’s no motion lines, blur, or anything of that sort to drive that sense of whiplash in your face.
This makes the way the races are directed and portrayed far duller than they have to be, or should be. Without such things as those traditional techniques noted earlier there are no ways to distinguish how fast the cars are going in the animation other than speeding up the rate at which the CG model is dragged across the screen, which could look ridiculous. The visual dynamic of the races is extremely hindered in this way, as the cars going across the screen looks the same no matter how many times they do it throughout the series. This means the drama and intensity of the races is primarily conveyed to the viewer literally, by characters commenting on what’s happening during the race or the sense of speed. But the audience should feel like a front row spectator, not needing to have it explained to them in a visual medium about racing what the stakes are or what the rhythm of the race is. The visuals should shift throughout the races to mimic the adrenaline rush and conflicts of the drivers themselves and recreate the dramatic perspective of what the characters are experiencing, rather than have it delivered in such a plain, flavorless manner that it doesn’t sell the intensity of the race but instead dilutes it by having it conflict with the excitement of the literal narrative as delivered through the dialogue. This is, without a doubt, the weakest part of Initial D. The CG cars are not cute or endearing, nor do they simply look aesthetically unappealing as they clash with the primary animation style. The real issue is that they’re an active detriment to the very core purpose of the series, that are used to circumvent positive direction and animation techniques that would make the series more exciting. The studios didn’t have the ambition to take Initial D to the level it should have been and the most important part of the show, the races, suffer greatly for it. Basically, watch Redline and note the masterful ways it manipulates the motion of its animation to emphasize fluidity and speed and notice how none of them are used in Initial D. Even noting the fact that Redline is a blatant fantasy while Initial D is more grounded, that’s no excuse why a series in that vein can’t attempt more tactful use of such techniques to push the action without crossing the line into absurdity. If it’s not even going to try any of that, then what’s the point of animating?
I’m definitely interested in the future of Initial D. While storytelling progress in this first season has been leisurely at best, it hasn’t paused for long enough to give me the impression that Initial D has reached its full potential. Shuuichi Shigeno seems to realize the basics of having to introduce twists to keep the races interesting, and as he should predictably become more desperate he’ll hopefully bring more dramatic and significant deviations to the formula. This is all presumption though, as it still depends on Shigeno’s intelligence and ambition to take Initial D to the next level. Improvements in directing and animation could also be a major help. Though Initial D is a lukewarm thriller so far, there are enough hints of promise to keep me curious in where it could go so I’ll probably watch to its completion. A street racing anime is a fine concept, but it hasn’t come close to full throttle.
I just finished this series and I KNEW I had to review it right away! Holy shit this series was a trip! Initial D is a series that everyone has heard of, but not as many people have actually watched it. It’s not in the top 600 most viewed series on MAL, yet it’s somehow so famous that non-anime fans know about it. We all know it’s that racing anime with the CHEESIEST OST in existence that spawned all those memes. It’s also one of the only pre-2000 series in the MAL top 250. The others are all series like Rose of Versailles, Galactic Heroes, Ashita no Joe, Evangelion. All of them are very serious, artsy kind of shows considered the crème de la crème of elitist anime…and then there’s Initial D for some reason. Let me tell you straight up that this show does NOT fit in with those others. Initial D is dumb, DUMB anime and never tries to hide that for a second!
Why is this anime so glorious stupid? Oh my God, where do we even start? How about our main character, Takumi Fujiwara. He’s an average high school kid who works a part-time job at the local gas station and doesn’t have much ambition in life. He gets poor grades, has no real plans besides inheriting his dad’s tofu shop and is a very spacey, sleepy looking guy. Oh and for some reason he’s the best rally driver to ever live! His dad was a great street racer and he’s been forcing Takumi to deliver groceries early in the morning since he was 14. That’s all the explanation we get. He’s the best driver in the world and instinctively knows how to pull off physics defying drifts and drive 140 MPH around corners because he’s been delivering groceries in the morning for 2 years. It’s like Saitama’s explanation of his powers from One Punch Man, only Initial D isn’t a comedy! Well, not intentionally anyways.
If you thought Kirito from SAO was OP, you haven’t seen NOTHIN! In the first couple episodes, we find out that Takumi’s buddies at the gas station have a local street racing team and they’re horrible. They drag Takumi into racing for them and he instantly beats one of the best drivers in Japan. Takumi doesn’t even know what model car he drives! He doesn’t give a shit about racing. He just assumed he’s an average driver and everyone in the world drove around corners at 140 MPH because he drives in the early morning and somehow has never seen anyone else drive. Yes…that’s really the dumbass explanation the show goes with! This feels like an average shonen so far. Now Takumi will meet his first rival and lose for the first time right? NOPE! Takumi doesn’t lose in all of season 1. He just smokes everyone for 26 episodes! It gets even better! He’s driving a worse car than every one of his opponents! Takumi wins using a fucking Toyota Corolla! If Takumi was using a good car, he would have won every race in season 1 like Secretariat at the Belmont! This shit goes on for 7 seasons and he’s already the best driver in Japan at the end of season 1! When I was watching the last episode I was in complete disbelief. SURELY this is where he loses. There’s no way this show would be stupid enough to…OH MY GOD! I laughed so fucking hard. I LOVE this show!
You might think that Initial D is just another sports shonen, but you quickly learn there is something a little “off” about this series. Here’s a fun example. Takumi’s girlfriend is a whore. I mean she’s literally an underaged whore, but Takumi is so spacey and thickheaded that he never figures out he’s getting cucked by half the town. Eventually Takumi finds out and confronts the issue, but that’s not until about 30 volumes deep into the manga and after readers kept incessantly sending letters to the mangaka to address it. Why is that a part of this story if the mangaka never intended to write drama and wanted to focus on fast cars like he’s said in interviews? Did he just think it was funny? Why?! Here’s another example. There’s this racer chick who tells one of Takumi’s stupid friends that she’ll sleep with him if he can convince Takumi to race her. After Takumi races her and utterly destroys her, she tells the buddy to meet her at 8 for sex. He gets stuck in traffic and she becomes frustrated and drives off. This sub-plot never resolves. The racing chick never gets back together with Takumi’s buddy and the buddy as far as we know remains a virgin for the rest of the 48 volumes! Who in the FUCK writes like this?! Another time, Takumi finds a date for this other super obnoxious friend and she leaves him the next episode. That sub-plot also is never resolved. Why does this series keep taunting us with these romances and then jerking back at the last minute?
Initial D is a seinen series. The Western equivalent would be like a Vertigo graphic novel. Something like Watchmen or Sandman. This is intended primarily for college students. You would expect that a sports drama for college students and older would take itself at least kind of seriously if it’s not trying to be a raunchy comedy. Initial D is not here to play by the rules of your pathetic human logic! This is a series where an evil racer wins by forcing his opponents to crash at high speeds. Yet nobody ever gets seriously injured or dies in this series. He forces Takumi to race him by minorly injuring several of his friends in quick succession, because this show isn’t even written at shonen level. It’s written like bad professional wrestling! Takumi accepts the challenge and starts winning. Even though they’re playing in a “Super Gum Gum Death Match” where you have to tie your left hand to the wheel. This is straight up some Yugioh Season Zero bullshit! What does the bad guy do? He attempts to kamikaze ram Takumi and kill them both rather than lose! Takumi dodges with a physics defying drift and the bad guy rams into the guard rail on a mountain pass at over 90 MPH. The bad guy gets some minor scrapes, but is perfectly fine. This series actually operates on “George of the Jungle” logic! “Nobody is allowed to die in this story, just get really big boo boos!”
The OST is most famous aspect of Initial D and it lives up to its reputation. High energy, disco Eurotrash all the way. You know how everyone on Rateyourmusic says they only enjoy Radiohead, Bob Dylan and Richard Wagner? This music is so tasteless I think those guys would react to it like the Nazis when Indiana Jones opens the Arc of Covenant. I have an offline buddy whose favorite band is Eiffel 65 and even he might be embarrassed to blast this shit in the car! I loved every second of it!
The cars are CGI and this is 1998, so gird your expectations. For the time though, it actually looked REALLY good! What doesn’t look so great is the character art. Not only does it often feature those huge lips that I hate in anime, but half the male cast looks way too similar. Well it’s a 90s anime, who cares if a few background characters look similar? No, I mean the main character looks similar enough to 2 other rivals that I had to do a double take a couple times. Wait was that Takumi?! Ok, yeah it was.
I know I spent this entire review just kicking the shit out of it, but I actually did love Initial D. This is the perfect guilty pleasure anime! It’s gloriously dumb, but ceaselessly entertaining for 26 episodes! I can’t count how many times I cheered when Takumi drifted into the lead accompanied by cheesy Eurobeat. It’s wonderful! Simply wonderful! I highly recommend you watch this shit!
2: 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.)
1: Cowboy Bebop
English: Cowboy Bebop
MAL Score: 8.77
In the year 2071, humanity has colonized several of the planets and moons of the solar system leaving the now uninhabitable surface of planet Earth behind. The Inter Solar System Police attempts to keep peace in the galaxy, aided in part by outlaw bounty hunters, referred to as “Cowboys.” The ragtag team aboard the spaceship Bebop are two such individuals.
Mellow and carefree Spike Spiegel is balanced by his boisterous, pragmatic partner Jet Black as the pair makes a living chasing bounties and collecting rewards. Thrown off course by the addition of new members that they meet in their travels—Ein, a genetically engineered, highly intelligent Welsh Corgi; femme fatale Faye Valentine, an enigmatic trickster with memory loss; and the strange computer whiz kid Edward Wong—the crew embarks on thrilling adventures that unravel each member’s dark and mysterious past little by little.
Well-balanced with high density action and light-hearted comedy, Cowboy Bebop is a space Western classic and an homage to the smooth and improvised music it is named after.
The story is set in a space western setting – a genre and setting I’m loving more and more for each show I watch that falls under the genre. We follow two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet, who own a ship called the Bebop. They travel the Solar system, chasing wanted criminals to earn money. Along the way, they also pick up two women; the debt-laden Faye Valentine and the playful kid and computer genius Edward (yes, Ed’s a girl).
Each episode brings about a new bounty which they chase after, and while that doesn’t sound too exciting to watch 26 episodes in a row, you’ll end up loving the show. All the different events makes for a certain degree of unpredictability, and you’ll sometimes wonder how things will end. However, that alone is not enough to give the story the rating I’ve given it. So why have I given that rating? Let’s continue…
One of the things that elevate the show a bit above the rest is the manner in which the main cast’s pasts are explored. It’s not like one flashback episode and you understand everything about how they are today. In one episode you might get one piece, and then the next one in another episode, and it’s not until the final three episodes of the show that everything falls in place. This way of executing it makes you want to watch another episode, so that you can find out more about the characters (some may say that this falls in under "Character", but the manner in which the pasts are explored are more "Story" than "Character", IMO). Now, that’s so far a 9 for the story. Why did it deserve a 10?
The answer is easy: the way they executed many scenes in the show. The contrasts which you get to see between, music, the setting of scenes and what’s really happening just gives the story that extra edge deserving of a perfect score.
The characters are all really good and interesting fellows. Though they every now and then reminded me of characters from other shows, they preserved that originality which gave a feel that they were, if not completely, then at least a little bit more real than most characters out there. The way their pasts intertwine with the future and how everything ends with them confronting and settling open ends from their pasts is also something that’s impressive to watch. I don’t really have anything more to say than "perfect".
The animation is, for a 90s anime, stunningly good. The detail put into backgrounds and surroundings is really good, and I also love how good lighting effects and shading are at times. All of Ed’s strange movements are animated really nicely too. If there’s something negative, it’s the somewhat dull coloring (compared to today’s standards), as well as poor effects when traveling in hyperspace.
The soundtrack is also astounding! The music used for the show is so incredibly varied, and while keeping mostly to the more jazzy tunes, the soundtrack visits so many genres that it’s hard to not like at least a few pieces. What I also loved is the way the music was used not only as a medium to go with and amplify the mood, but also as a contrast to what’s happening in several scenes. All in all, it’s really amazing. Don’t have anything to say against voice acting and other sound effects either.
All in all Cowboy Bebop is an anime that’s in the top tier on the greatness scale, and a show I believe every anime fan should give a try.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Cowboy bebop borrows much from western media and pop culture in general. his show pays homage to or references, subtly and overtly, things as disparate as Antonio Banderas, Bruce Lee, John Woo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Convoy, Biggie Smalls, Donald Duck, various mythologies and folktales, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bill Evans, Stray Cats, Alien, blaxploitation films, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Queen, George Clooney, Led Zeppelin, Django and other spaghetti westerns, Herbie Hancock, American and Japanese professional baseball, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Jean-Luc Godard, Batman, B.B. King, Beverly Hills 90210, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, The Unabomber, Heaven’s Gate and Marshall Applewhite, Kiss, film noir, The Beatles, Sleeping Beauty, Bonny & Clyde, Ziggy Stardust, Charlie Parker, Woody Allen, Star Trek, Cool Hand Luke, and Taxi Driver. I kid you not. And that’s not a complete list. References in character design and dialogue are forgivable, but when it straight up copies scenes and plots then I think it can be held against the show. I feel like I’ve seen Cowboy Bebop before, it’s just been packed into a pretty package. I enjoyed a lot of these homages, but that does not excuse the marked lack of creativity. The mere evocation of a masterpiece does not make a masterpiece. Quentin Tarantino is an example of someone who uses pastiche and cultural references well, and most importantly, his references and homages don’t make up his entire videography. There is far too little originality in Cowboy Bebop.
The fact is that Cowboy Bebop is the epitome of style over substance. I can appreciate it for its audiovisuals, but, to me, a show needs more than that to be a true masterpiece. Make no mistake though, it does have some of the best audiovisuals I’ve ever seen, and could arguably be considered a must-watch for that alone. The OST is good (despite also being a tad overrated,) the art is great, and the animation is extremely fluid. It should also be noted that Cowboy Bebop is one of the few anime that holds the distinction of having an English dub superior to the original Japanese. The atmosphere that the audiovisuals achieve is their greatest quality, and is distinct in almost every different setting. This is not done well in most space travel anime, and I have to applaud Cowboy Bebop for that achievement at least.
The main storyline consists of about 5 episodes, the rest of them being episodic individual stories. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the episodic stories were hit or miss, and they never measured up to the main plot. Some of the non-main episodes focus on a character and their past, and this is good, but most of them are completely pointless and could be removed without anybody noticing. One of them was about fighting an alien-fungus-fridge-monster, it was an interesting and silly parody of Alien, but it contributed nothing to plot or character development. Considering how character driven this show is, that’s a problem. There was also an entire episode paying homage to blaxploitation. Seeing as the allusion was presented in a more original way, and the episode showed a lot about Ed’s character, that one was not only forgivable, but it was one of my favorite episodes. Like I said, hit or miss. There is an episode about catching a super-dog. There is an episode about a virus that turns people into monkeys. There is an episode where they chase a bomber (Woody Allen) with some help from a transsexual looking trucker. At least 4 episodes were easily 10s, but more of them were closer to 5s. The first 4 episodes were particularly weak, which is a huge problem in a 2 cour anime. The anime may have had a good conclusion, but the sub-par exposition cannot be ignored.
The main crew was made up of interesting and entertaining characters, and they prevented the episodic nature of the show from being a complete flop, although there were some unanswered questions about Faye’s past in particular. Actually, strangely enough, the unanswered questions contributed to the splendid atmosphere. Everything had a rich backstory, but few flashbacks and no infodumps. This helped give the show its characteristic nostalgic atmosphere. One complaint I would have is that the main antagonist is simply not compelling, his motivations are somewhat unclear, and he’s just one dimensional. He also uses a katana, even though it’s the future, and somehow still manages to kick ass. He’s just very cliché and lame. The antagonist in the movie was very well done with his depth, motives, and parallels to Spike, and that makes me wish Vicious got the same treatment, as it would fit his character far better, and his character is far more important.
One thing you should understand is that the characters are often good examples of clichés done well. Jet, for instance, is the typical hard-boiled former cop, but he is also the most empathetic of the crew. He is a foil to Spike and is hard working, but they also parallel in many ways. Ed is the teen genius/tomboy and hacker with little depth, but she also serves as a foil to Spike and many of his views on life. Faye is like a mix of all of the other characters’ worst traits in terms of personality, but she still manages to be a sympathetic character. In fact, even though she keeps up her unpleasant exterior and despite her being the anime’s main source of fanservice, she arguably experiences more development than any other character. Still, they lack any sort of real innovation, in anime or otherwise.
Despite all my criticisms, Cowboy Bebop is cool. It’s very cool. The characters and aesthetics were compelling (for the most part) to the point where I even enjoyed some of the admittedly weaker episodes. I can’t give it a 10, it’s simply not a masterpiece. I can’t give it a 9, it’s not truly great. I can’t give it an 8, it’s too flawed and unoriginal. I don’t want to give it a 7, it was just too inconsistent. I have to settle on a 6.7 or so, which could be rounded either way. That said, an average of my story, art, sound, and character scores did give me around a 7.2.
Cowboy Bebop is enjoyable and it has wide appeal; I would probably recommend it to just about anybody. It was up and down in terms of quality, and it was similar to a slice-of-life in its episodic and relaxed nature and its lack of an explosive climax, but it was good. I liked how the anime takes place after the “important part” of the main characters’ lives is over, and nostalgia becomes a huge theme, seeing as it was the first anime I ever watched and it thus evokes a huge sense of nostalgia for me anyway. I loved the laid back atmosphere. The problem is that after looking through all of the episodes and rating them individually, I realized that the majority of it was nothing special. With a little restraint and reworking, Cowboy Bebop could have been the masterpiece that it is widely regarded as, and it does hold a special place in my heart regardless, even if that is only due to it being my first anime. That bias is probably why I choose to round the score to 7, rather than to 6, despite the fact that the latter is typically the better practice.
I am always willing to defend and justify my scores so leave me a comment if you disagree, and tell me why I’m wrong. I say that because this does seem to be a pretty uncommon score, even among those whose opinions I have great respect for. Keep in mind that a 7 is a generous and good score in any case.
“Fuck you! Cowboy Bebop is a classic! You’re not allowed to criticize it!”
The more astute viewers will note that I scored the series a 6, but the movie a 9. I kind of like Cowboy Bebop. It does do some things very right. It had the potential to be one of the greatest franchises ever. Alas, while its production values are unmatched, the writing . . . doesn’t always match up with the production. Because of this, the series ended up being a style-over-substance experience for me, but why was that?
The premise of CB is that in the late 21st century, mankind has started living in places in the solar system besides Earth. In this future are bounty hunters known as Cowboys. Cowboys do whatever they can to make cash to keep the food stockpile stocked and their spaceships running. The show follows one such group of Cowboys who pilot a ship called the Bebop. In the beginning, we meet Spike Spiegel, a former gangster, and Jet Black, a former cop. As the series progresses, the Bebop also has Ein, a super smart dog, Faye Valentine, a woman on the run, and Edward, a really, really, REALLY weird hacker girl. Cowboy Bebop has been described as a series that has a continuous plot, and has standalone episodes at the same time. Having seen the series, I can tell you that technically, most of the episodes aren’t standalone, but many of them are only connected by the core characters.
Here’s where one of my problems lie. When Cowboy Bebop is good, it’s really good. The setting is very mature; it never condescends to the audience. The action scenes are superbly well done, the dialog is believable (though cheesy at times), and the atmosphere really pulls you in. How many episodes are actually really good? Seven. If you count the movie as an episode, that brings it up to eight. Eight out of twenty-seven episodes were good. The rest were not.
The problem with most of the episodes is one of two things: one, it’s really boring, or, two, it’s so clichéd, you will be able to predict exactly what happens by the end after the first two minutes, or both. I have to be honest, a lot of the episodes of CB are just plain boring. If this wasn’t a “classic” and a more ordinary anime series, a lot of them would be branded as what they truly are; filler episodes. And if it’s not boring filler, it’s hackneyed.
Watanabe is known for being a huge fan of American cinema, and that’s obvious in CB. Unfortunately, he ripped off a lot of American movies virtually piecemeal. Now, you may not suspect it, but I am more knowledgeable of American cinema than I am Japanese animation. To describe it as best I can without spoiling, if you have seen at least one movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, John Woo, and Michael Mann, then you have already seen Cowboy Bebop in another format. This is actually a clever trick though; most anime fans reject Western pop culture, and may not notice this when watching CB, so they’ll think it’s “fresh” and “original”, when it’s fact, it’s actually MORE clichéd then most anime. But hey, when CB is exciting and isn’t (too) blatantly ripping off Hollywood, it’s worth watching.
At least, when the worthwhile characters are onscreen. I like the main character Spike a lot. He is the embodiment of cool, like a 21st century version of Steve McQueen. He’s cool, but he’s very human too. He’s reckless, he makes mistakes, but he knows how to charm people, and he also knows how to beat his targets. I also like Jet. He’s a constant worrywart, which is a funny contrast to his rough appearance. Some of the incidental characters are memorable too, (but usually only in the good episodes and movie). Something else I liked was the Bebop crew was not always a stable group, or nakama you could say. In most anime, when the heroes band together, nothing ever separates them. That doesn’t happen in CB. Sometimes, the crew gets in arguments, and sometimes, one of them will leave the Bebop for a time, and so on. It’s a touch of realism I appreciate.
However, some of the characters didn’t click with me. I never really cared for Faye. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t really care for her either. Edward is amusing, but she feels out of place in a series like this. The incidental characters in the less memorable episodes are just that, unmemorable. However, what I’m about to print in the next paragraph will anger thousands, possibly millions. (And maybe make hundreds say “Right on!”) Mind you, it’s just my opinion. Everything I print in these reviews is just my opinion; you don’t have to take it personally, but the following opinion of mine needs to be said:
Vicious is one of the lamest villains ever.
The main antagonist is a man known as Vicious, someone who’s still a part of the gang Spike came from. He’s cunning, ruthless . . . and is absolutely lame. What’s his motive? Does he just want power, or to mess with people? Even if so, why is he so boring to watch? The villain from the movie was a lot more interesting. Overall, you got two really good protagonists, some interesting chemistry between the protagonists, one-shot characters who are either interesting or not, and a forgettable antagonist. Yay.
And I haven’t even touched upon the ending yet! Short version, I don’t like CB’s ending. (More flames incoming! Duck and cover!) Now, the ending is not quite as bad as the ending for, say, Akira, or the anime version of Chobits. It does have a sense of finality to it, something most anime endings don’t have. However, I did not find it “legendary.” I found it disappointing. First of all, the ending is extremely predictable. It’s virtually telegraphed to you before it even happens. Not only that, when I saw it, my reaction was, ” . . . that’s it? Seriously, that’s IT?”
But I better move on to CB’s technical aspects before I get too letdown. Its artistry leaves no complaints. CB is probably the best-looking pre-digital anime I’ve ever seen. Even if you were to remake the series with digital enhancements, I doubt you could make it look better than it already is. Sumptuous backgrounds, top-notch character art, animation that ranges from above-average to really good, no off-model shots, this is a visual feast. The movie looks even better. It’s obvious a lot of care was put into the visuals of CB. My only being the primitive CGI, but you get used to it.
And now we touch upon CB’s greatest aspect; its soundtrack. It’s the sort of the soundtrack that makes you go, “Ah yeah, baby!” This is why you watch CB, the music. The music is the magnum opus of Yoko Kanno. A combination of jazz, blues, and rock, but it isn’t just any old jazz, blues, and rock, it’s GOOD jazz, blues, and rock. Everything from the opening, to the incidental music, to the endings, you get music that will set your soul on fire. The only anime I’ve seen whose soundtrack could rival CB’s is Death Note’s. Something I noticed about CB’s soundtrack is the music sounds more like music from albums rather than typical soundtrack music. Another smart move; most people are accustomed to listening to music from CD and MP3 albums as opposed to soundtracks, so when they hear CB’s music, it’ll be more familiar-sounding than most other anime soundtracks. Regardless, even if you hate CB, you gotta score this music.
CB is also famous for having what is perhaps the oldest English dub for an anime series that is considered god-like. I saw this on Adult Swim, and I can safely say, this is another masterpiece from Bandai and Bang Zoom. Every character sounds like how you would imagine them to, and the voices are neither wooden nor over-acted. All the different accents the characters have sound really cool too. I did sample the Japanese dub on the movie, and I will say, Spike and Jet sound really good in both Japanese and English, but I will never get used to Faye’s Japanese voice. Yeah, this is one you gotta see in English. (Though in retrospect, the Japanese performances aren’t bad, it just doesn’t click like the English dub)
While CB is still often regarded as a classic, I’m not the first to criticize it like so. There has been some backlash against CB in recent years. Some people complain it’s not “Japanese-y” enough, that it’s too Western. I mentioned that earlier, but there is another anime I’ve seen, Baccano, which is also very similar to American movies, but it was consistently entertaining, and not as predictable as CB, so I did not mind. Others have mentioned the same things I have, that it’s boring, the plot isn’t strong enough, it’s style over substance. This isn’t a disaster by any means, but I do have to say that, outside of the production values, CB is one of the most overrated anime I’ve seen. It’s not one of the worst, certainly not, but it’s not quite the experience I was promised either. To put it in other words, there were some episodes that I would score a 4 out of 10. And yet, there are some episodes, including the movie, that I would score a 9 out of 10. The 6 overall is just from mixing the good episodes with the bad.
I like to imagine that in an alternate dimension, CB was an OVA series instead of a tv series. All the episodes I do like, (# 2, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, and 22) were released on separate OVAs, as well as a few others to bridge the plot gaps. Then a theatrical came out (Knocking on Heaven’s Door), and then another to end it all (The Real Folk Blues, albeit with a revised conclusion), and it would be grandiose. Alas, I don’t live in that universe. Hey, Shinichiro Watanabe likes drawing influence from Hollywood, right? What’s something it’s doing a lot of right now? Continuity reboots? He could still do that. I can dream, can’t I?
EDIT: This review was revised on 9/17/2015 to be less awkward to read.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Cowboy Bebop
2. Kenpuu Denki Berserk
3. Initial D First Stage
5. Cardcaptor Sakura
6. Serial Experiments Lain
7. Kodomo no Omocha (TV)
8. Chuuka Ichiban!
9. Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
10. Master Keaton