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 Mamotte Shugogetten!, Silent M?bius, El Hazard: The Alternative World, and more!
10: Mamotte Shugogetten!
English: Protect Me, Heavenly Moon Guardian!
MAL Score: 6.66
Tasuke Shichiri is the envy of his friends because since his parents are always traveling he can do as he pleases. It’s a surprise present from his father that keeps him from being lonely: an odd ring known as the shitenrin. From it comes a moon goddess named Shaorin, dedicated to protecting her “master” — no matter how much of a mess she makes doing it!
I have to say though that watching it was a bit too painful at times. Some episodes were just so bad, like the episode were Shaorin first went to school. let me tell you – it was bad. It was so boring I find myself half asleep and not bothering to understand the situation fully. There were episodes that were ok, like the one where Takashi, Tasuke’s friend, accidentally took with him Shaorin’s uniform. That was an episode that gave me a lot of laughs.
It did remind me of Ranma 1/2. I would say it was a combination of Ranma and Ah! My Goddess, but the problem was the execution. It was executed poorly and it wasn’t nearly as good as the two series I mentioned. I think it was the bad storylines – I just thought that some of the topics were shallow.
The music was the first thing that got me to watch the anime. The opening and ending sequence showed Tasuke and Shaorin singing the songs, and apparently it takes that much to impress me. I realized later that the songs tend to be stupid and boring after the first two episodes, and it doesn’t make up for the bad storyline.
There were good points though. I loved the hoshigami. Rishu and Kohan were just too cute. I also find the Tasuke – Shaorin match up to be a bit endearing. Other than that, I can say no more.
Like I said in the beginning, the fact that I finished watching all episodes is a bit surprising. I probably wouldn’t even have watched it if I had known it had a weak storyline and poor execution. I can’t say it’s the worse anime ever, but It’s definitely in the bottom of the food chain.
Mamotte starts as your average anime, it introduces its characters, gives you an idea of what is to follow and leaves you with an impression that you will watch a mediocre at least school-life comedy. Well, in the beginning, at least. After that what follows is a bunch of formulaic standalone episodes which pretty much follow the same pattern; something triggers a random event, Ruan makes the matter worse – usually while trying to get Tasuke’s attention- Tasuke gets in trouble and the kind Shaorin comes to save the day.
As the story progresses, the only change is that Tasuke’s and Shaorin’s feelings for one another become clearer. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that is actually a good thing as it can get annoying at times; the cheesy inside monologues and pointless melodramatic scenes do not really help.
But it’s not just Tasuke and Shaorin who want to express their love, everyone loves them, what every single character wants is either to gain Tasuke’s or Shaorin’s love or just to be there to support them, they have no other purpose and no development, a cast full of dry stereotypes. Even though there were a bunch of likeable side characters they were left in the shadows due to the poor storyline.
I tried hard to enjoyed it as much as I could, with no results, it was with all honestly, a completely waste of time. I would not recommend this to anyone over 13-14 years old. In the end maybe I should have just watched the opening.
The story is your basic magical girlfriend plot line; if you’ve seen this kind of show, you know what to expect story-wise. It doesn’t really do anything new in this department. Each episode tends to be a different misadventure of your main cast, and some of them can get kind of ridiculous, stupid, or boring. Mamotte Shugogetten tends to put more emphasis on the comedy than on the romance, though the humor can be really hit and miss. It might be enough to get a little laugh out of you, or might not.
The show has a cast of about 8 main characters. A lot of the time the show seems to just cram every character it’s got into each episode and it can feel kind of overwhelming and unnecessary. The characters themselves are, again, not anything very new, but I think they can be enjoyable. Shaorin and Tasuke are your main couple, and they’re cute enough, just your average couple you would see in this genre. The rest of the cast is the center of comedy, with the main gag being that they’re all constantly trying to win the affection of either Tasuke or Shaorin (with the exception of two of them). This joke can get really stale when it gets used so often.
I think the art style is very nice, and Shaorin especially has a great design. Another one of the characters, Ruuan, also has a unique design that really sticks out. The animation itself isn’t always great, but it does what it needs to do for this kind of show. The voice acting is fine and voices suit the characters. The background music is just generic synth/MIDI-sounding stuff, nothing special there. However, the opening — and I hate to say this — is really the best thing in Mamotte Shugogetten. I didn’t skip it even once. Its a really awesome song with visuals that suit it perfectly. The ending song is also pretty nice, with interesting and creative visuals.
So, I didn’t hate Mamotte Shugogetten, but I was let down. I was expecting something more unique and interesting. I guess the best way to describe this show is “harmless” or “mediocre”. It doesn’t really bring anything different or new, but it also isn’t atrocious or offensively bad, and there is some charm to it. If you go into this show expecting a serious show and something really fresh and new, you’re going to be seriously disappointed. But if you just want some simple lighthearted fun, I guess this is an okay anime for that, but you could do better.
The manga is pretty different and focuses more on the romance instead of the comedy, and it also doesn’t have the filler that the anime does. So if any of the ideas in this anime interest you, I’d recommend to just read the manga instead. You will have a much better time.
9: Silent M bius
MAL Score: 6.79
The year is 2023 and Alien Beings known as “Lucifer Hawks” have begun invading earth from another dimension. All that stands between them and the enslavement of the human race is the Attacked Mystification Police Department – a special division of the Tokyo Police staffed by women with amazing paranormal abilities.
Speaking of dubbing, Silent Mobius has one of the worst dubs I�ve heard in a while. Some of the characters are alright (not great, but alright) such as Kiddy and Katsumi, but other characters are so painful to listen to that it almost temps me to drop my final score of this anime down a few notches. The one voice actor who got on my nerves the most was Barry W. Levy who provided the voice for Robert (Roy) DeVice. I don�t know who his voice coach was, but he had this horrible habit of putting a period after every word he said (so.he.talked.like.this.), which got annoying quick. And don�t even get me started on his weak display of emotions. Every time there was an emotional scene with Roy (especially a crying scene) I wanted to close my eyes and pretend it wasn�t happening. How this guy gets to play alongside Matthew Perry in an upcoming movie is beyond me, but since Silent Mobius came out nearly ten years ago I�ll give him the benefit of the doubt. If all you have to do to escape Barry Levy�s voice (although granted he�s not the only crappy voice actor here, just my pick for bad tomato) is put up with reading subtitles I�d say it�s well worth it. Japanese audio is the way to go with this series, trust me.
One thing I found rather interesting was how the setting of the series was like a character all on it�s own. It�s very distinct and memorable. It�s almost like a futuristic post-apocalyptic version of Gotham, where governments have pretty much turned their heads away from the state of the city and have essentially helped in making it the mess that it is. Also much like Gotham the city has two sides to itself. It has its rather nice residential areas where people of higher class can live respectably, and then it has the broke down and poor parts where nobody (especially cops and AMP members) should ever go. One of the early episodes had our heroine-in-training Katsumi Liqueur and her soon to be boyfriend and fellow police officer Roy get trapped in the worst part of town after their vehicle crashes (with the help of a little sabotage, of course), and they had to make their way around without drawing attention to themselves, which meant they needed to change into something a little less �cop-like�. This is probably the first episode that really pulled me in because it gave so much life to the city depicted in the series. Later episodes further expand upon this, but they don�t forget about the cast members either.
Each of the characters of Silent Mobius have at least one episode almost entirely devoted to them, which is always a welcomed aspect when in need of a little character development. When the series first started it felt a lot like my first day of school. I didn�t know any of the characters, and certainly wasn�t able to remember any of their names, but by the end of the series, much like the end of the school year, I knew all of the characters by name and face alike. This is all thanks to some great character development and nicely spread screen time between them. The progress of the series is nicely paced as well, and just when you think you�ve got it pegged it throws at you an Alice in Wonderland tie-in and an episode about time travel to grab your attention incase its lost it. It�s true that Silent Mobius can be very predictable at times and some episodes do feel as though they�re dragging along, but for the most part it knows when to change it up by tossing in a couple of huge plot twists and killing off a character here and there that you probably didn�t expect to die.
The audio and animation quality of Silent Mobius are both equally as good. Not all of the music is something I would have on my MP3 player anytime soon, but the OP and ED themes (aside from the second ED, which I�m not a big fan of) both do their part respectively. The animation was overall very good but there are some recycled scenes here and there, and for an action anime I guess it would have been nice for things to be a bit more fluid, but it�s not something to complain too much about. One thing is for certain though: if you�re looking for blood and guts and/or sex this isn�t the anime for you. There is a little bit of mild violence sprinkled around throughout the series but nothing even close to excessive. And I think I can recall one sex scene with possibly some brief nudity, but nothing gratuitous at all. I also don’t remember hearing much profanity. Also, if you’re looking for a Sci-Fi anime with one of those deep philosophical and extremely technical plots I suggest avoiding this one and turning to something along the lines of Neon Genesis Evangelion instead. Silent Mobius is for younger teens and above, with an interesting Sci-Fi storyline that doesn�t go over viewers heads for a change, and has a nice dosage of romance, comedy, and mystery on the side. If you�re in the mood for a little Sci-Fi action that doesn�t require you to dust off the old Webster�s Dictionary, then I suggest giving Silent Mobius a try.
My Score: 8.5
Version Watched: English Dub
The conflict between AMP and the Lucifer Hawks proves to be an engaging one, especially towards the second half of Silent Mobius. Enough plot twists are tossed out where certain AMP characters are revealed to have past connections to what led the Hawks to our world, the series isn’t afraid to toss its characters into deadly and depressing situations (even tossing in a character death that shakes the resolve of one prominent character) and the major antagonist of the series hatches a clever plan that pushes AMP to its breaking point in the final episodes of the series. These shocking developments kept me hooked on the series from start to finish.
Silent Mobius also has enough time in exploring and giving enough details as to how society functions in the wake of the problems that humanity faced by Lucifer Hawks to give the series somewhat of a cyberpunk vibe. Corporations in charge of the day-to-day operations of major areas of society, entire areas of a city being slums for criminals due to no land redevelopment to them, malfunctioning robots running amuck, people coming to grips over loss of human identity with becoming a cyborg (big subject with Kiddy’s character). The fact the series could give enough of these elements while retaining focus on its characters and the continued conflict with Lucifer Hawks did well at catching my interest.
The show’s not without its imperfections. Some characters seem a bit underdeveloped compared to others (Lum and Lebia) and the Lucifer Hawks don’t get much in the way of fleshing out. In addition, the show lacks a proper resolution as Silent Mobius concluded during the middle of some major plot developments revealed in the show’s final episode.
The visuals to Silent Mobius are a bit of a mixed bag. While sporting bright colors and defined details with scenery and character designs, the style of animation tends to get inconsistent on occasion, particularly with how character faces are drawn. The series does make use of CG animation in its rendering of magical effects and a later scene involving a Lucifer Hawk which stick out from the regular animation. And for an action series, the animation is rather lackluster as shortcuts are apparent on a number of occasions with still shots and reused animation frames. The soundtrack to the series, on the other hand, was high quality throughout as the tracks matched well with the moods of the various situations faced by the characters consisting of selections such as dramatic ballads and intense insert music.
Overall, Silent Mobius made for an engaging paranormal/ sci-fi action series which expands upon the content from the two earlier movie adaptations by further exploring its world and characters with some engaging plot twists to boot making it a better adaptation of its manga source material despite its lack of a proper ending.
Yes, there in 2023 things are no longer as we know, abominable creatures known as Lucifer Hawk (a name that to me makes no sense), terrorizing people, more precisely in the Tokyo city. To combat these creatures a special police department was created, the Department 00, also known as AMP (Attacked Mystification Police Force) which is formed only by women!
The story has everything I really love when it comes to an anime with women! They are in charge, are strong and powerful, and we still have a hint of romance. I really love the romance of Kiddy and Ralph. At first they were like rivals, Kiddy being as tough as Ralph, and both live fighting, until fall in love. No doubt a classic love story!
Many times the story becomes confusing when trying to explain how was the appearance of the Lucifer Hawk, and especially who opened the Nemesis gates. It is insinuated that who does it is the father Katsumi, Gigelf Liqueur, however, in all episodes have something about him, I always had the impression that he tried to prevent the opening of the gates. However, it is not explicit who actually caused all the current decline of the planet. They are sometimes cited secret projects like Gaea Project that are secret even to us, their details are not clear.
An interesting point of Silent Mobius is that taking out the soundtracks of background, most of the songs are in English, fleeing rather than we see in anime in general. Both ending are sung in English, delicate and soothing “Silently” and the romantic “Till The End Of Time”. One exception is opening “Forbidden Pensee”, an exciting music with subtle touch of mystery. The background music are also not to throw away bring orchestral atmosphere that perfectly blends the mysterious and dark side of Silent Mobius. The character designs was something that take long to get used to, at first things seemed a little strange, such as Katsumi’s face it, depending on your perspective seemed higher, which left her with a look of older than she really was .
At first I thought that 26 episodes would not be enough for addressing every story that was to come, as we got to the 11th episode, and was even introduced the story of some character. Maybe that’s why some important explanations end up getting out and everything seems to happen disorderly.
8: El Hazard: The Alternative World
MAL Score: 6.82
Miz plans to retire as a Great Priestess of Water to married life with her darling Fujisawa and as replacement the young Qawoor Towles arrives to Floristica. Jinnai sees Qawoor’s initiation ceremony as a chance to infiltrate Makoto’s laboratory but accidentally activates a mysterious thingy that sends them all through the dimensions to a grey industrial city protected by a huge castle in an alternative world.
The new opening theme is a completely forgettable Jpop ballad completely out of line with the exotic Mideastern feel of El Hazard as a whole, and the closing credits are downright scary, with hideously painted images of women’s faces in flowers and linked hands circled by glowing halos, having nothing to do with the plot or story of the anime and looking like spooky illustrations out of some evangelical Sunday School picture book.
The Alternative World introduces several new major characters, but with such a huge cast and so few episodes to work with, the only one that comes off seeming like they might be a real person is Qawoor. Qawoor seems to have some mysterious past connection to Makoto, but like so many other things in this series, that revelation ends up being brushed aside and forgotten.
As if all that isn’t enough bad news, most of the events in The Alternative World do not actually take place in El Hazard, but in a new world whose history, geography, and politics are never explained in any detail. The climax of the series is one of those infamous “dream endings”, and the final episode is the most boring onsen episode I’ve ever seen. (Oh god, all the nipple-less breasts! Make it stop!)
In short, El Hazard: The Alternative World is a disappointment from the word go. Only recommended for completionists. At least it’s short.
Story: I finished this anime and couldn’t really describe the plot to my friend. There were a ton of plot holes, which made the story confusing and hard to follow. When I wasn’t confused, I was bored out of my mind.
Art: The animation seemed to go downhill with every spinoff/sequel, and Alternative World had the worst art by far.
Characters: The characters had no development whatsoever. They were all flanderized to the point where they were just shells of who they were in the first OVA. Qawoor was the worst. She was so pointless and annoying. Jinnai’s stupidity and stubborness were just nauseating. Makoto was so confused the entire time, but he’s still wholeheartedly admired by the other characters for being a cute nice guy. I really don’t blame Jinnai for disliking him. Makoto was such a simp for Qawoor, and Nanami was such a simp for Makoto.
Enjoyment: This anime failed miserably at its attempt to be comedic. It’s main source of comedy was slapstick humor, which did not get a single laugh out of me whatsoever.
The ending was also very disturbing. Diva basically r*p*s Jinnai. He was clearly NOT giving consent, but it’s implied that she forced him into int*rc*urse to repopulate the Bugrom race. I feel like it was just played off for laughs since it was a woman forcing a man, which is just gross and sad.
Bottom Line: DON’T WATCH THIS ANIME! It’s cringey, unfunny, lazy, and disturbing.
7: Popolocrois Monogatari
English: Popolocrois Monogatari
MAL Score: 7.00
Prince Pietro is the half-human, half-dragon prince of the kingdom of Popolocrois. After the evil GamiGami tries (unsuccessfuly, as ever) to take over the Kingdom, a mysterious girl named Hyuu appears in the forest near Popolocrois Castle, which is the beginning of an adventure for Pietro, his witch friend Narcia, and all their friends. Set following the events of the first Popolocrois game.
If you can believe it, this anime is actually a sequel to the first video game. I have not played the video game, as it hasn’t been released here! But I don’t care! This anime may be a sequel, but it doesn’t totally leave you in the dark about who’s who and what’s what. Anyway, the story’s about a prince named Pietoro who, with his forest witch friend Narcia, meet a strange purple haired girl named Hyuu, who suddenly appeared because of the antics of the Demon King GamiGami. As it turns out, Hyuu is part of a supposedly dead race of people called the Wind Kind, and despite their attempts to befriend her and help her cope with the situation, Hyuu is frustrated and wants to know about the Wind Kind. Her bodyguards, Ston and Sanda, decide to steal Pietoro’s dragon powers, which prompts Hyuu to join forces with GamiGami and try to become the queen of Popolocrois so she can find other wind people like her. This causes quite a lot of problems for Popolocrois and everyone in it, and she’s constantly worrying whether everything she’s doing is right.
This was made in 1998, so of course the animation is going to have nineties written all over it, but for the most part, it’s actually very well made. The colors are soft and muted, yet bright, the movements are fluid when they want to be, and when the situation calls for it, it can really set the mood. If you can believe, it was made by a brand new company back then. No, it wasn’t Bones, it wasn’t Sunrise, KyoAni, Gonzo, or anyone of that caliber. It was made by none other than Bee Train, who really was a new company back then, and this anime really showed what they were capable of. Yeah, the cutesy, chibi character designs can be very off-putting, especially if you think this anime’s gonna be a saccharine fest, WHICH IT ISN’T! But then again, this style was prominent in the games as well, so don’t think the character designers weren’t faithful. I seem to find that I have a liking for the old style of animation as its very easy on the eyes with their soft, muted colors and occasional fuzziness.
Now to sing praises about one really great part of the show: the music! The entire soundtrack fits the show to a T! The soft, dreamy tunes fit the moods perfectly, all the pieces are wonderfully composed with that sweet, pleasant nineties feel to it you’d find in most anime of the nineties, and the effects they can have on scenes are awesome! Plus, there’s always a kind of whimsy in every single piece of background music. Even in the sad scenes there’s something whimsical going on, and it doesn’t hurt them one bit. Guess who composed the OST? Ko Otani. You may think you’ve never heard of him, but trust me. You’ve heard his work. This is the guy who did the OSTs for anime like Haibane Renmei, Outlaw Star, Gundam Wing, Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-, Shakugan no Shana 2nd Season, .Hack//Quantum, Eyeshield 21, Zatch Bell, Hyouge Mono, Hakuoki, Another, Deltora Quest, Pumpkin Scissors, and Blade of the Immortal. Some of you hardcore gamers may know him for his work on Shadow of the Colossus, Sky Odyssey, and Sengoku Basara 3, so this guy has a pretty good resume. Another great part of the OST are the songs. It’s not often you see an actual insert song play in a majority of episodes, and musical numbers in anime are normally very uncommon aside from a concert scene, yet Popolocrois has musical numbers. I’ll bet you’re thinking they’re just carbon copies of G3 My Little Pony songs that are cliche, dumb, annoying, and have no relevance to the story whatsoever. WRONG! The musical numbers have great orchestral music, wonderful singing, and fantastic animation, very much like the ones in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. They’re pretty much the best songs I’ve ever heard.
Next up is the second best thing about this show: the characters. You may think that, because the character designs are all cutesy and make the show look like its for kids only, that there’s gonna be rehashed and reused character cliches like the main male character being an idiot hero or a spoiled brat, the love interest, and the clingy jealous girl who hates it when her male gets interested in any other girl, the shy girl who does nothing but worry about the main character, the stupid villain who wants to take over the world for stupid reasons, etc. Again, WRONG! Yes, they look like they could fall into every one of these stereotypes, but they don’t! They all possess subtle but unique and awesome traits that most characters nowadays lack. Even the villains here are amazing, and the best of them is Demon King GamiGami, who is not only awesomely hilarious with his over-the-top hammy voice acting and his strange love for making weird mechas out of junk, but actually has much more motivation than just taking over the world and getting rid of Pietro. Every character is very likeable. Pietro, while a prince, is just like any other kid: sweet, kind, is a little impulsive but not in a bad way, and is a little short sighted at times. But when the going gets tough, he’ll be willing to learn and improve himself for the better. Narcia, while just as sweet and nice, doesn’t have a lot of confidence and often keeps to herself, but instead of blowing this out of proportion, she asks for advice and talks to whoever is willing to listen about her problems. By God, why can’t more anime characters follow her example?! I will admit, however, that the only character I’ve had problems with is Hyuu. I don’t hate her. In fact, I really like her (and she has the best insert song in the whole series), but…she is the most freaking selfish and indecisive character EVER! By God, every other episode she decides one thing and then changes her mind and does something else while constantly not seeing what her problem is! I’ll let it slide this time because it pretty much drives the plot, and that she DOES explain her reasons for doing what she does, even if she doesn’t solve them right away.
I can’t really seem to find any real flaws with this show, other than Hyuu’s constant doubting and indecisiveness. But I do know that this show does have things that can really turn off other people, which may contribute to why it’s so underrated and why it won’t be able to be aired on American TV. For one thing, episodes 12 through 21 are mostly character focused episodes, which are awesome, though most people may find them to be pointless filler, and these episodes are anything BUT pointless, and they’re rather slow paced, so one would have to be patient and appreciate what the episodes have to offer if they want to enjoy them. Secondly, GamiGami seems to love fanboying over Narcia like a kid with a crush. Yeah, an old man who crushes on a 12-year-old girl. It can be pretty easy to construe GamiGami’s fanboying over Narcia as pedophilia, but he’s everything BUT a pedophile. For one thing, he doesn’t really go after her, and his fanboying is only taken to the extent of a child with a one-sided crush. He’s much more honorable and noble than most anime villains. Plus, it’s mostly played for laughs, so people shouldn’t worry. Also, I get the feeling that people may think Narcia’s alter ego, Kai, is an African-American and slam her with accusations of stereotyping just based on her portrayal, though in Popolocrois, there’s no defining people by the color of their skin or the country they come from, so they really shouldn’t be all paranoid (I haven’t heard anything of the sort, but I think people would say stuff like this if Popolocrois did air on American television and if they’re paranoid enough). That, and people may look away from it just because of the cutesy chibi character designs and the fact it’s based on an RPG alone, which is a HUGE mistake, as a lot of people I know believe that Popolocrois is one of the best RPG adaptations ever, especially considering OTHER adaptations (Final Fantasy Unlimited). What also surprised me about Popolocrois is that it actually managed to subtly sneak some very suggestive things past the radar (NOT SEXUAL!!!), and no children’s show I ever saw managed to address such an issue in that way despite its warm, innocent, and idealistic nature. I thought it was a pretty bold move. It’s in episode 11, and believe me, you’ll know the scenes when you see them. This is why I love Japan’s kids shows, as they’re not afraid to treat certain serious issues with the gravity they have in real life or sugarcoat them due to fear of parents complaining.
So what if Popolocrois looks cutesy and is based on a video game? You guys are really missing out on this diamond of an anime. It’s sweet, it’s nice, it knows when the stakes are serious, it averts so many fantasy cliches, and it’s just downright awesome! GO WATCH IT!!! Seriously, why hasn’t this been broadcasted on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network yet?! Would someone be so kind as to license it and dub it in English for fans to enjoy?! They deserve to watch this polished gem of an anime!!!
Two anime series were also created: PoPoLoCrois Monogatari which takes place between the first PoPoLoCrois Monogatari game and PPLCMII, and PoPoLoCrois, which adapts the PlayStation 2 games that chronicle the adventure’s of Pietro’s son, Pinon. Whilst both are very good (the latter including some surprisingly dark moment), I feel the former is the better series – hell, I think it’s a fucking masterpiece!
PoPoLoCrois Monogatari tells the story of a mysterious girl named Hyuu who somehow appears on PoPoLoCrois. She soon befriend Pietro, and the majority of the series focuses on their relationship, how Hyuu copes with being in an unfamiliar world, and the mystery surrounded where she came from. The series starts out rather small-scale initially (despite a rather large opening, but grows to be almost an epic by its finale.
Despite being a children’s series, PoPoLoCrois Monogatari places a massive emphasis on character development, deeply exploring the thoughts and feelings of the main characters. So much emphasis is placed that the plot effectively stops half way through and then shifts into a series of stories and encounters that have no real bearing to the main plot but greatly develop the main characters, and the story does not pick up again properly until the last three or four episodes. Character development is done in a way that shows that the protagonists are still children yet does not trivialise or tone down the drama.
The only real problem with the series is that the aforementioned plot-hiatus can make the show seem to drag out a little, but honestly I didn’t find this detracting from the overall experience one bit.
The series has great animation with a very unique (and pretty) artstyle, and one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard in anime. It is not required to play the games to enjoy the series, but you’ll understand certain characters’ relationships more and recognise references/callbacks to the first game. I’d highly recommend watching this series, it’s quite tragic that it’s so obscure despite being so fantastic.
with art like that, at first i think it’s child story (like doraemon or ninja hattori).
with thought like that make popolocrois is memorable for me.
Story: plot is rather flat, but the conversation, situation, and emotion is not the level for child story
Art: Surprisingly, with art like that it can show many mimics and emotion. and i become like this ^^
Sound: Amazing, opening is very great and ending is more popular than popolocrois itself (and have 2 versions, i love miyajima eri version)
Character: I like it. All character have plus minus personality
Enjoyment: not to good for me because flat plot. (there are times i’m bored in the middle of watching)
6: Shadow Skill: Eigi
Japanese: 影技 SHADOW SKILL
MAL Score: 7.11
In the land of Kuruda, warriors with magical powers and incredible fighting skills battle for the ultimate prize: the title of Sevaar, the strongest warrior in the land. Elle Ragu, nicknamed Shadow Skill, is the newest Sevaar to emerge, but that doesn’t make her life any easier. Teaching her “little brother,” Gau, how to be a warrior, fending off assassins from other kingdoms and thwarting enemy invasions is hard enough, but her biggest challenge will be paying off her drinking debts.
The story of Shadow Skill – Eigi takes place in the land of Kuruda, which is one of four lands that protect the Holy City of Julianess. (Each land has its own unique fighting style but only Kurudan is actually looked at beyond just name and one move.) Among the four, Kuruda is known for its long history of invincibility due to their elite warriors known as Sevalle/Sevar. The main heroin, Elle Ragu is one of these warriors, namely the most recent one, and thus maybe not that well known at first. Along with her step-brother Gau Ban, whom she took into her care once his family was killed, they face various adventures in Kuruda. Along the way hey meet some old friends like Fia Arcana, who seems to have a history with Elle, or some new ones like Kyou, who is a member of an demon-beast hunting group. The first “half” of the series is in a bit lighter tone, concentrating more on the adventuring and so, rather than doing anything too deep. Testimony to this are the various comedy moments which are not rare for fantasy anime but here comedy does not play a major role. This however changes after a while when the real plot starts to unfold. All the seemingly unimportant things start to matter as they begin to play their main role in one man’s plan to annihilate the so long managed peace. The ending is nice and fulfilling despite the fact it leaves some questions unanswered. Maybe a sequel in some distant future ? Who knows. (doubt it ^^)
The characters in this anime are diverse and in tone of the old days of fantasy anime. Elle is the strong type that acts lazy but when push comes to shove she is dependable and acts mature. She earned her title and it doesn´t get to her head. She is quite protective of her little brother but in her own way. Gau, the second of the two main characters, is Elles adoptive little brother. He trains hard and does his best to be of any help to Elle. He is portrayed as the weaker individual climbing his way to fame and strength thanks to the support of his surroundings. However, he has his own inner demons whom he has to face so he can become like his older sister. This though, becomes more apparent in the second half of the story. The other characters are also done very well but they are a bit neglected. Indeed Fia and Kyou got some attention regarding their personal backgrounds and so on but the rest is either minimal or shrouded in mystery at best. We have many characters whose past has been hinted a few times however the line ends there and we are left to ponder who or what they really are.
Well, as expected from a show that is over 10 years old, the graphic side to this anime is nowhere near today’s standard. Be it characters, locations or misc. For me however, that is not a negative. Sure, it may not be so detailed or the colours aren´t so vivid but I still think it stands on equal ground with its brethren form the days of old. It certainly has its own unique ring to it but if you aren´t a junky for modern anime art styles then this will hardly play a role in your enjoyment.
OP and ED were nice but hardly memorable. You might listen to them a few times but then it´s fast forwards from a certain point on. The rest of the sound department is good at best. VA is done very nicely and that´s about it for sound…
I personally enjoyed this anime quite a bit. It has all an anime needs to keep its audience entertained throughout the entire run without having to worry about too much fillers that can bore you to death. The story isn´t ground-breakingly innovative or anything and yet it´s not unoriginal either. It has many elements of your ordinary fantasy anime but tied together by a entertaining story and nice characters. What more can one ask for ?
Shadow Skill – Eigi is definitely worth watching for any fantasy anime fan out there and even for those that aren´t fans, since it still manages to be entertaining. They might not find it as great but at least they won´t be let down either. This is one of those anime where you can sit back and relax while watching the story unfold without having to worry whether you are or not just wasting your time. In short, if you are a fantasy fan watch it and you´ll be pleased. If you aren´t but have the time, give it a try, who knows, you might like it even more. ^^
(5)- Anywhere, anytime, as many times as you like!
(4)-Definitely worth seeing more than 3 times…
(3)-Once for regular viewer, 2 (or even 3) times for a fan.
(2)- Seeing once is more than enough.
(1)- Impossible to even reach the end…
I haven’t enjoyed an anmie like this for quite a while , its just a good old school butt kicking ,ass whopping heroic in the face of death and just plain funny type of anmie , that keeps you involved and rooting for your Heroes all the way through.
Story – yeah its a fantasy , but on the whole , it was well done. I liked the whole four county concept.
Art– old school type , but some of the emotions on the faces and the action was outstanding.
Sound- I heard only on dubbed , but it was not bad at all . The voice actress who did elli captured the mood exactly.
character.- On those that the anmie focuses , they are developed very very well.We get to see their history , weaknesses , strengths and interactions with each other.There is more than hint of romance with a love triangle as well.
The love letter episode was classic , i couldn’t stop laughing.any more would be a spoiler.
yes , its an awesome anmie and yes it deserves to be watched and enjoyed.
5: Lodoss-tou Senki: Eiyuu Kishi Den
English: Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight
Japanese: ロードス島戦記 英雄騎士伝
MAL Score: 7.14
Five years after the death of the Emperor of Marmo in the War of Heroes, Parn is now the Free Knight of Lodoss, he and his old allies now famous through the land. However, the Emperor’s right-hand man, Ashram, seeks the scepter of domination to re-unify Lodoss under his former leader’s banner. Meanwhile, beyond his attempts at conquest lies a more sinister force beginning to set the stage for the resurrection of the goddess of death and destruction…
That said, Chronicles of the Heroic Knight starts out less than promisingly. The first eight episodes (the weakest of the show) concentrate on the struggle with the ruthless (and yet strangely not so evil) Black Knight Ashram for the Scepter of Domination which initially comprised episodes 9-10 of the OVA. While it’s nice to see Parn, Deedlit, Slayn, and King Kashue again, their roles are actually less significant this time around. The only characters to receive any development are two supporting characters from the original, the headstrong mercenary Shiris and her quietly reserved (but easily enraged) Berserker partner, Orson. (In what may be an example of one of the many inconsistencies in the show, both characters are reintroduced to Parn and company as if they never crossed paths in episode 8 of the OVA.) There are several new characters, too, including a prissy mage apprentice, an easily deceived priest, a mischevious elfish grass-runner sprite named Maar, but all three are hardly memorable. The slow pace of the episodes are what really work against them, however; there’s less action and more talky moments; even the climactic showdown at Fire Dragon Mountain between Ashram and the vicious red dragon Shooting Star is longer and more drawn out than one might expect. There is a surprisingly heartfelt sacrifice in episode 7, but the overall arc doesn’t have the same energy or roller-coaster action of its predecessor.
It is only at episode 9 and onward that Chronicles finally comes to life. The story jumps ten years after the Fire Dragon Mountain events, where the focus shifts to the evil wizard Wagnard’s desire to awaken the Goddess of Destruction, Kardis. Again, Parn and company’s roles are reduced to supporting ones, and consequently, come across as the least interesting in the show. The hero here is Spark, a blue-haired knight wanna-be who, at the surface, comes initially across as a more pale incarnation of Parn, but his troop of companions do provide the kind of banter and chemistry one would expect for any fantasy adventure. The smart-aleck mercenary Garrack is a well-realized character, as is his sassy half-elf partner, Leaf, who steals every scene she’s in with glee. Just as interesting are the loyal thief Ryna and the dwarfish priest Greevus. This ragtag team of misfits are joined by a mysterious girl named Little Neese (daughter of Slayn and Leylia), who turns out to be one of the key ingredients Wagnard needs to revive Kardis. During all this, Ashram returns in a last attempt to unite Lodoss (to fulfill his late master, Emperor Beld’s dream) while the shifty Grey Witch, Karla, also lurks in the shadows. It is the chemistry between Spark’s comrades and the more lively pace that really bring much needed energy to this major story, which, many would argue, is just a recycling of the last story thread from the OVA, but this telling is more complex, introducing some twists that are alternatingly surprising and insightful. And even though the grand finale is less exciting than the OVA, it still wraps up the show on a pleasing note. (Although Wagnard’s drawn-out rituals and Little Neese’s continuous screams of pain get tiresome after a while.)
Probably the only jarring thing about Chronicles of the Heroic Knight are the short three-minute Welcome to Lodoss Island segments at the end of each episode. These are super-deformed versions of the characters in goofy, cartoonish sequences, each of which clock in at around 2-3 minutes each. These wildly bizarre skits (which parody the world of Lodoss) will either amuse or drive you batty; I personally choose to give them a pass because they just don’t click with me, but chances are your mileage may vary. (Interestingly, it’s worth checking out these interludes with the English version to see how the Japanese puns–which make up a majority of the dialogue in these skits–are adapted into English, namely "I’m King Kashue, and this is my CASHEW! I’m really quite a nut!" as opposed to the more literal "I’m King Kashue, isn’t my KATCHU (armor) nice)?"
The character development and overall entertainment value of Chronicles provides for a pleasant enough way to pass the time for fantasy fans, which isn’t to say that it is the most aesthetically or aurally pleasing show to watch. On the contrary. The Lodoss OVAs had some beautifully detailed, if sometimes limited, animation, but Chronicles’ production values are another matter. Aside from a breathtaking opening sequence (underscored by a beautiful theme song composed by Yoko Kanno), the animation fluctuates throughout the series, with some episodes looking downright painful on the eyes. There are several episodes which do get a boost in overall quality, artwork wise, particularly the last ones, but all in all, the artistry is not one of Chronicles’ strongest points.
The audio portions fare signifigantly better, thanks in large part to the epic musical score contributed by Kaoru Wada. Fully orchestrated, with soaring, epic marches one moment and pounding, percussive action cues the next, this soundtrack arguably carries the whole show from start to finish. As mentioned, the opening theme is remarkable and impeccably delivered by Ma-aya Sakamoto, although the ending theme is a bit on the kitschy side. The sound effects are also very good.
As far as the voice acting goes, the dub of Lodoss has received a mixture of praise and disgust from many fans, but I happen to be one of its biggest fans. The Chronicles dub, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. It does have its assets: Crispin Freeman does a surprisingly fantastic job as Spark (making this potentially monodimensional character more interesting than he is) and Angora Deb is similarly good as Leaf. (I might argue that both make this dub worth watching.) It also reprises much of the cast from the OVA dub; even though their acting standards are lower than that of the OVA (Parn’s more mature-sounding voice in particular takes several episodes to find his stride), it’s still nice to have continuity. Working against them, however, are the uneven performances by the lesser supporting characters — several of which border into intolerable territory (Ashram’s minions, Governor Rabido, and Prince Reona, in particular, are dreadful), and vocal inconsistencies (some characters receive new voice actors either temporarily — Lisa Ortiz’s Deedlit is annoyingly replaced for at least two episodes by a far duller A.J. Parks — or permanently — Garrack’s Michael Gerard drops out after five episodes, Crispin Freeman plays him for the remainder of the show). That, in addition to the sometimes awkward-sounding dialogue and hit-and-miss synchronization, rank the overall dub a notch below its superior predecessor. It’s by no means the worst around, however, and patient dub fans may find it to have some merit.
In all fairness, the Japanese voice acting isn’t all that stellar either. The entire Japanese voice cast from the OVA are replaced; while some voices are less grating than their English equivalents, others are actually sub-par in comparison to some of the better voices on the dub, particularly the seiyuu playing Deedlit, who is nowhere nearly as good as Yumi Tohma or Lisa Ortiz. There are also some parts of the Japanese language track which come across as cheesy, particularly the scenes involving the talking dragons (these scenes come across as very laughable in the English version, and the Japanese track sounds every bit as fake in this part). The common attitude I hear from dub detractors is that the Japanese language track is preferable, regardless of whether it has any weaknesses of its own, but in the case of Chronicles, I have to say that both audio tracks tie in quality. They have their strong points and are, at best, tolerable, but not particularly flawless.
All in all, Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight isn’t without its drawbacks and doesn’t always live up to its predecessor, but it’s still a fine series that holds its own ground decently. For every weak point, there is always an asset to counter it, making this one moderately enjoyable fantasy Anime series.
For some reason, I could not get into the original Lodoss, try as I may. However, Chronicles had me hooked from episode one, despite the fact that the first batch of episodes are basically a rehashed version of the OVA storyline. Fair warning though; don’t get used to seeing Parn and Deedlit in every episode. After the introduction, it’s as if the original Lodoss story never happened. A new cast, and a large one at that, is introduced with new enemies and new motives. While it was great to see that the producers took the time to make sure that no one was just another nameless warrior, keeping track of a cast this size proved to be a daunting task. The story to go along with this new group was equally complex, but very intriguing and captivating. That is, until the end of the episode, when super-deformed versions of the characters make a parody of the story just displayed. It was funny at first, but then became just plain annoying and took away from the real storyline.
Probably the brightest star of this series is, arguably, the music. Yoko Kanno, already famous for her work in such titles as Ghost in the Shell: Stand alone Complex and Vision of Escaflowne, whips up a fantastic orchestral score to fit every scene on the screen, making this series pleasing on the ears. The opening and ending themes, Kiseki no Umi and Hikari no Suashi, are a joy to listen to every time they play and are definitely two of my favorite anime themes. The animation sequences to go along with them were stunning. It’s a bit of a shame that the series couldn’t have the same luster in its animation. By no means am I saying that the animation is bad. I was just a little disappointed at the dip from the opening and ending sequences to the series.
If you liked the original Lodoss, then by all mean, pick up Chronicles of the Heroic Knight. It’s just about everything that the OVA was and better. Just skip the last three minutes of each episode and enjoy the ending theme instead.
So I will begin this by saying that the author wrote this story well out of their normal comfort zone. It is hard to take and tell a tale that is not in relation to your heritage, for instance it is hard for a storyteller who lives in the West, to write a story about things that relate solely to the East, and visa verse. This author however did a very splendid job in doing just that.
But, the story itself is very linear and predicable. Now while this can be a good thing in this case it is not. Since the story itself is so visible it cannot and will not be able to draw the viewer into the storyline. To complicate matters even more, the unnecessary amount of characters actually bogs the storyline down further.
Characters were so numerous that any depth that could have been given wasn’t due to the amount of them. The screenwriter chose to add characters in that really were not needed other than to provide a plot vehicle or romantic interest. Less is more, and in that allows for better character development and a chance for the viewer to connect with the characters. Unfortunately this story did not allow for that, and should have sacrificed some characters. For future screenplay writers, not all stories need romance, nor do they need characters who’s sole responsibility is to help provide plot line.
Production values were better for this series than the first. The characters were diverse in features to allow a pleasant indulgence in them. For the most part the clothing designs were true to a European style fairy tale, but there were a few Asian influences in them as well. I’m sure that however was the artists trademark and quite acceptable even nice to see.
One of the problems however in production values were the action, or fight scenes. These were very far and few between with most of them being nothing more than SFX and quick color flashes and stills. I would venture to guess that the budget was shoestring and some sacrifices had to be made, I personally just wish they would have made them in the character department and not the action department.
So overall with a huge cast of characters, poor production values in animation, this series has, in my opinion, a higher rating that it deserves. Storyline was weak, art values were high along with sound and styling, this series should actually rate closer to 6.5 than the 7.6 it currently holds. Which again is what triggered this review.
This series would be good for a viewer who is wanting a simple plot and storyline with good art but poor production values.
4: Majutsushi Orphen
MAL Score: 7.14
Six years ago at the magic school known as the Tower of Fang, a grave accident happened involving the magical sword Baltanders and the magic user Azali. Unable to control the sword’s power, Azali was transformed into the shape of a great dragon who since that day became known as Bloody August. Krilancelo, a young magician at the Tower who cared greatly for Azali found much to his disgust that the elders of the Tower of Fang were less than willing to save Azali and wanted rather to pretend the accident never happened. Angered by their stand, Krilanceloa swore that he would find a way to return Azali to her former self. Thus he forsook the name Krilancelo and declared himself Orphen, leaving the Tower and his magical studies behind to wander the world…
The story is enjoyable and the best thing about the anime. Some nice changes to pretty common story elements make Orphen get a story that is good and solid. The mix of humorus sceens and action and battle scenes it done very well and in a way that helps the story along and doesn’t feel like it has been put there just for the heck of it. There are fightscenes but they are generaly not long. They are far from the battles of animes such as Dragon Ball or Bleach where they stretch on for several episodes with one episode dedicated to the yelling needed to power up. If you are a fan of these battles I whould not recomend Orphen to you for it’s fight scenes. The battles mostly over after a few strikes. If you have read the Lord of the Rings trillogy you can expect the battles to be much in the same way when it comes to presentation. More focus on what happens before and after a fight than the actuall battle. They are not overly short but no longer than they need to be since they are not the main focus of the story. That is the hunt for the relics needed to transform Azalie back to her normal form before the Tower of Fang (called Talon`s Peak in the story synopsis) can kill her.
I like the art style of this anime. You can see that it’s not a very new anime by just looking at it but with a fantasy story it doesn’t hurt to think old. The backgrounds are detailed without having any real details. It might sound odd but it’s the best way I can describe it. Everything has a good amount of colours in diffrent shades. Grass and stone are not one colour with another shade for shadows and highlights. They are done in the same style as paintings or the old disney films.
The characters are done in the three shades way mentioned above with the addition of another colour for lighting effects and fit very good onto the background.
The magic spells could have done with some more detail, they are very simply drawn but then it’s pretty hard to add shadows to something that glows strong enough to make make all other shadows look weak.
The characters fullfill their roles very well even if they are very sterotypical in most cases. Despite that they are fun and fit into the story and they don’t feel to sterotypical untill you start to analyze them. It whould have been fun to see a bit more character development from Majic and a bit more so from Cleo. It whould have been fun looking back at the anime but nothing I found myself thinking about while watching it. The others are done nicely enough.
The soundtrack did what it’s supposed to. Be in the back but wasn’t very intresting with the exeption of one track which was great. I also liked the opening and closing songs especially the closing ones. More personal taste than anything else in this case I’d guess since they are pretty standard. You’ll like or love them while you watch but forget them after a while when they get replaced by the next thing you watch.
I whould highly recomend it to people who want to watch a good fantasy anime that has a good mix of story development, action and humor.
If you want a anime with lot’s of actions and battles or a very deep and serious (in terms of theme) anime you should continue your search.
If you are looking for something good to watch in general, you could could easily do worse than watch Sorcerous Stabber Orphen.
Also for those who are not to elitist to watch dubbed anime. The english dubs are good.
Searching for a dragon out of affection
Accompanied by a rich girl and apprentice
Who seek guidance for a better life direction
With two trolls as comic relief
And a organization out to stop the hero
A story of trust and betrayal unfolds
With chances of success being zero
What might sound as a familiar story
One you’ve heard time and again
Watch and you’ll see what a nice story this is
Here is Majutsushi Orphen
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
This is my first review on MAL and, to start this off, I chose a slow paced fantasy light-novel adaption that I recommend for those who enjoy adventure stories in search of forsaken loved ones.
Story – 7
Art – 6
Sound – 7
Character – 8
Enjoyment – 6
Overall – 35/5 = 7
Story – 7
The story takes a while to get going and, a lot of the time, the majority of the situations for some episodes are only brought about for the sake of comic relief. However, as the story progresses, the emotional buildup begins to improve quite well once the backstory for the protagonist, Orphen, is told. With simple but decent magic fights and a likable trio to follow, I came to enjoy the romance and the internal struggles each character undergoes. The biggest issue is the slow pacing for the overall series.
Art – 6
As an anime that aired between 1998 and 1999, the art style was clearly dated but well done as a whole. Given how some scenes lasts for a long time, one would focus quite a bit on the scenery which was actually well done for its time. Still, in comparison to other anime of this time, this one wasn’t able to stand out as much.
Sound – 7
For those of you that have spend lots of time listening to 90’s anime music, you can guess what kind of music this show had. The usual endings are calming but I personally liked how upbeat the openings were with the first opening being Jazz. Voice acting was as you would expect from most 90’s anime, okay but nothing spectacular.
Characters – 8
The characters are where the story really shines as the majority of this anime seemed more character driven than plot driven. Orphen, unlike most light-novel protagonists, is a cool protagonist who is a decent fighter and is sometimes a jerk to many of those he encounters. The most reoccurring female figure, Cleao, who I will admit is just there for comic relief was okay and, once the emotional aspect of the story came around, she actually became both likable and relatable. And then there’s the try hard apprentice Majic who actually is the pinnacle of character development over the course of this series. As a whole, the lineup takes a while to get used to but, unlike many of the more recent light-novel adaptations, this group was quite solid.
Enjoyment – 6
I’ll admit that the slow pace is not for everyone including myself and the two “comic relief” trolls will actually get annoying rather quickly. And I mean REALLY annoying for some occasions. Still, I enjoyed how each character developed as the story progressed as well as how much more relatable they became. No harems, no fancy battles, just pure and well-developed character development.
Overall – 7
This anime might not be for everyone given how slow and behind the times it is, but if good 90’s music, a decent plot, and eventual “feels” is what you want, then I would recommend this to you.
MAL Score: 7.20
Bullies often target someone frail and weak—someone exactly like Yuugi Mutou. His beautiful childhood friend, Anzu Mazaki, is always there to stand up for him, but he can’t depend on her forever. Katsuya Jonouchi, who is almost always accompanied by his verbal sparring partner Hiroto Honda, doesn’t seem like a bad person either, despite always bringing Yuugi trouble. But most of all, Yuugi wishes for a true friend who understands him and would never betray him.
Yuugi treasures his Millennium Puzzle, an ancient Egyptian artifact that was brought into his grandfather’s game shop. Believing that solving the puzzle will grant him his wish, he completes the puzzle, unleashing a new personality within him—the soul of the “King of Games.”
Dark, twisted, strong, and reliable, the new personality named Yami Yuugi is the exact opposite of Yuugi. Upon any injustice toward him, Yami Yuugi takes over Yuugi’s body and forces the opponent into a “Shadow Game.” The stakes are high as whoever loses shall have a taste of the darkness that resides within their own heart.
There are a lot of changes from this to Duel Monsters. Mokuba’s character is 100% different, Kaiba is somehow more of a jerk, Yugi is tinier and he gets beat up one per episode. And Yami challenges people to shadow games, which end in insanity or death.
The episodes are really predictable, for the most part. One of the main characters is picked on, Yami challenges them to a shadow game and wins, the episode ends. Even so, it’s fun to watch, because the bad guys always get what they deserve. And you get to see some real action as opposed to half an hour of children’s card games. Also Joey crossdresses.
I would recommend this show to both fans and haters of Duel Monsters. If you liked the other series, you’ll really like this one because it fills in a lot of missing information. If you hate the other series, then you’ll probably like this because of the action and actual plot.
The art is okay and the sound track is nothing special (except for the song that plays when Yami is being awesome). I gave it a ten for enjoyment because…I LOVED this show. I’m such a geek, I know, but really, I had a lot of fun watching this. Hopefully you will too.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! we meet young little Yugi Moto. Like in the show here he was introduced as a kind and loving friend to Tea (Anzu), Joey (Jonouchi), and Tristan (Honda). There is also another character that was forgotten to be shown as well, Miho Nosaka. Miho is another of Yugi’s friends that usually hangs around Tristan or Tea.
Yugi finds the Millennium Puzzle in his families Game Store and decides to build it. The box says “who ever is able to complete this Puzzle will gain the powers of the Dark and one wish will come true”. Yugi finishes the Puzzle and wishes for Friendship. Then the dark spirit, Yami, grants him this wish and protects Yugi’s friends from dangerous Bullies, Gansters, Rich Snobs, and demented Criminals.
Unlike the Yu-Gi-Oh! you see on TV, this is way different then what I expected. Yami, which we all see as the super good guy is a crazy psycopathic killer in this series. Always playing mind games and then killing his opponent. He is some King of Games. This is one to check out.
First a little background,
If you grew up in the 1990s, you probably saw at least a few episodes of Yugioh, the anime about children playing a poor man’s version of Magic the Gathering featuring holographic monsters and rules that seem to change every episode. Yugioh was localized in the US by the infamous and now thankfully defuct company 4kids. All dark plot points involving death and people getting sent to hell were removed, and replaced with references to the “shadow realm”. This is similar to early US dubs of Dragonball Z where in every god damned episode someone was getting sent to “another dimension”. 4kids even made awkward edits where guns were photoshopped out and guards simply pointed at characters, although obviously they were supposed to be holding something.
Finally, the part where I actually review season zero:
However, even the “uncut” version without the overzealous editing of 4kids wasn’t that dark. The Yugioh that was popular in the US was intentionally a kid friendly show. This could NEVER be said about the first Yugioh series, also known as season zero. Comparing season zero to the later Yugioh series would be almost like comparing Berserk to Pokemon. Season zero is deliciously dark and morbid, with the main character callously murdering people in nearly every episode. Even if you disliked Yugioh as a kid, season zero will make you chuckle. Card games aren’t nearly as important in season zero, and Yami is portrayed as the king of all games in general, not just card games. Almost every episode he challenges some poor soul to a new twisted survival challenge and ends up killing them like fucking Jigsaw. This show is pretty dark and twisted for a shonen genre, but I personally find it hilarious. Watching it is like learning that there was an original version of Disney’s Recess that was R rated and dark as hell. Wouldn’t you want to at least watch a few episodes for a laugh? The art is mediocre and lacks the polish of the later series, but who doesn’t love Kaiba’s green hair? No seriously, he has fucking green hair! The soundtrack is actually quite good with an absolutely amazing opening theme by Field of View. The characters and plot are obviously a bit different, but I actually like this version a lot better. If you vaguely remember Yugioh, but won’t watch it because, “that’s just a baby show”, I think season zero might have you laughing and applauding in no time!
2: 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.
1: Kenpuu Denki Berserk
MAL Score: 8.51
Born from the corpse of his mother, a young mercenary known only as Guts embraces the battlefield as his only means of survival. Day in and day out, putting his life on the line just to make enough to get by, he moves from one bloodshed to the next.
After a run-in with the Band of the Hawk, a formidable troop of mercenaries, Guts is recruited by their charismatic leader Griffith, nicknamed the “White Hawk.” As he quickly climbed the ranks in order to become the head of the offensive faction, Guts proves to be a mighty addition to Griffith’s force, taking Midland by storm. However, while the band’s quest for recognition continues, Guts slowly realizes that the world is not as black-and-white as he once assumed.
Set in the medieval era, Kenpuu Denki Berserk is a dark, gritty tale that follows one man’s struggle to find his own path, while supporting another’s lust for power, and the unimaginable tragedy that begins to turn the wheels of fate.
But the main elements, the magic that made the epic manga what it is are all present in the animated version. Guts, The Black Swordsman, is still the hapless avenger wandering in search for revenge and peace of mind. The world in which the story is set is still that medieval realm right down to the brilliant castles with their greedy landlords, the disadvantaged common folk, and the never-ending wars. And, perhaps most importantly along with the characters, the story is still the same tragedy of fate, friendship and love.
Perhaps one point of criticism for some could be the outdated artstyle. Having aired more than ten years ago, the art and animation will inevitably seem rough and simple for those (like me) who’ve discovered anime rather recently, through recent shows with more high-tech appearance. Upon closer look, however, I’d say that instead of a shortcoming, Berserk’s old-school animation works exactly in the shows favor. The story is, after all, rough by nature and set in an age long gone, in which case the ancient animation actually accentuates the overall mood quite nicely. I wonder if the series’s impact would’ve been the same had it been done in the 2000s, closer to this day. I dare doubt it.
An avid listener of music though I am, I rarely pay much attention to the tunes played in anime. But whereas most shows fail to catch my admiration with their musical score, Berserk did so in spades. Far more than once I found myself being chilled to the bone as the horror scenes rolled in, aided by terrifyingly fitting ominous sounds without which the anime’s horror elements would’ve lacked greatly. In comparison, the joyful tunes of bonfire festivals, the musical elegance of the upper class’s dances, and the emotional pieces of the more waffy scenes all help to highlight the sentiment of each situation. 10/10 score for this department; a true rarity given by me.
One might wonder why I’ve so far mostly talked about aspects many would consider minor in comparison to an anime’s story and characters. Well for one, both animation and music contribute so much to the show’s overall score that there’s nothing minor about them in this instance. As for the other reason, if I’d start to go on detailing bit by bit what makes the story and characters of Berserk so unfathomably excellent, we’d all soon be looking at a review of more than 10,000 words. And since reading all of it would be that much more away from your Berserk-watching (or reading) time, I’m going to keep it simple. Just imagine a story so compelling and layered you’ll truly find yourself gasping at times, a cast of characters so real you actually start to care for them though they don’t even exist, and a high-fantasy medieval world so immersing you can almost feel the reality around you blur away.
But an adaptation from a manga as this is, there’s no way to escape the shadow of the original work. An no matter how excellent an anime this is even forgetting the manga, fact of the matter is that Berserk is the greatest MANGA ever made, and the anime is just a colorful side-kick next to it. At the beginning of my review I said the anime loses to the manga in nothing but length and detail. True. But ponder on this: the anime is one of 25 normal length (a bit over 20 minutes) episodes. The manga is one of over 300 and still going on chapters. The conclusion being, Berserk anime loses A LOT to the manga in length and detail. I didn’t even care to count all the scenes an details of the original work that didn’t exist in the anime, and now as I’m doing so for the sake of writing this review, I can’t help but note that, again, A LOT is lost when such a number of details that helped understanding the characters in the manga, for example, are nowhere to be seen in the anime. To refrain from writing a novel-length review, again, let’s just say that even though Berserk manga had nothing but text and black and white drawings to reach me, I never felt nearly as immersed by the anime as I did by the original.
Be that as it may, Berserk is truly one to deserve the title “epic” in the history of anime. It is an obligatory watch for anyone who likes Japanese animation. It is a classic right there among Evangelion, Miyazaki’s works, or any other anime one might deem ageless and undying. It is right there among them, shining in their midst as the bloodiest gem of them all.
One of those people is a young man called Guts, who we find introduced as The Black Swordsman. Along the way we’ll find out how he came to be a warrior more powerful than any other human, with death more than just nipping at his heels from his very birth. He isn’t merely your average war-torn soul—he embodies the desire to live on the battlefield, choosing to relentlessly face his fate head on and swinging a sword that might as well be a tombstone as tall as a man. His dogged ferocity endears Griffith, compelling him to draw Guts into the Band of the Hawk. Here he also meets Caska, a dark and fiery-tempered woman second only to Griffith in terms of skill and leadership; second to none in terms of honor and loyalty. And thus our tale truly begins.
It is a story about a world full of evil and brutality, of dreams and despair, where people struggle to find themselves in the midst of it all and define the meaning of their existence. Friendship and love are slow to come, but when it’s there it’ll bring tears to your eyes, for the relationships forged in Berserk are more meaningful than almost any you’ll find in anime.
You will soon learn that there are no limits to Griffith’s ambition, nor to his charisma. A leader that seems to grace his era as if stepped right out of a painting, his Band of the Hawk serves him faithfully, offering their own hopes and aspirations to his “bonfire of dreams”—for simply being near him seems to promise glory. He is also in possession of a strange relic—an egg-like pendant bearing ominous notions…
Berserk is not for the faint of heart (or the very young), brimming with violent battles and head-to-head confrontations resulting in dismemberment, bodies sliced entirely in two, blood and entrails by the bucketload, and some very intense sexuality including rape and molestation.
The quality of the animation here varies somewhat from time to time, but it is always good enough, and frankly needs no real mention because it is so overshadowed by every other quality here. That said, there are some pretty stunning moments of gorgeous animation—particularly during the action scenes—but most will likely think it looks somewhat bland by today’s standards. I urge you not to let this deter you.
I’ll make note of the music, since that is certainly one of the most enjoyable things about Berserk. Some viewers might recognize Hirasawa Susumu’s very distinguished sound from other anime like Paranoia Agent and Paprika, and it is all extremely memorable. You will find yourself whistling along when “Forces” chimes in, and various other tunes are used to delightful effect, heightening the emotional impact of already emotional scenes.
Berserk’s finale is one of the most notoriously shocking cliffhanger endings in anime history. The story arc covered by the anime is known as the “Golden Age” of Miura’s manga, encompassed by volumes 4-13. One might even advise a newcomer to skip the first episode (a flash-forward that takes place beyond the ending) and save it to watch after the 25th, but this might not even be necessary—anyone who is truly drawn into this tale will feel compelled to read the manga afterward. This is such a layered and powerful story, filled with so much ugliness and beauty, that you will almost inevitably be drawn in. Berserk is a true classic.
There are three major themes that mark this series: (1) MEDIEVAL, (2) GORE, and (3) PHILOSOPHY.
This is why I think this is a great series: this combination of themes, which is already rare in anime, are very well incorporated together as a complete story.
The (1) MEDIEVAL theme brings the setting of the story. creating an atmosphere where the gore and philosophy can develop together. This also sets the pace of the story based on the technological circumstances of medieval culture. The slow nature of this large-scale medieval story allows enough time to unravel the deep characters.
The (2) GORE theme accents the philosophy, reinforcing characters and foreshadowing the character progression by their behaviour in battle. This is a real treat to see the battle behaviour contrasting with the respective characters you’ve watched develop (Most notably the main protagonist).
The (3) PHILOSOPHY theme is a major feature to the characterization in the main characters. The characters and their actions are defined by their varied internal philosophies. With a very distinct difference in character philosophies and a heavy story focus on them, central story events are marked by relationships between these philosophies.
SOUND: At first glance, the soundtrack seems to be lacking with only 11 songs (Including intro and outro). However, the placement and feeling (And sometimes repetition) of these soundtracks is well done, giving the story great fluidity and emotional propulsion. Voice acting and sound effects are well done, even on dub. Voice acting most notably reflects the characters well, save for some of the demons.
ART: A rough art technique is used in this series, with unique design. Both of these accent the themes by reinforcing and elevating the serious nature of this anime (As opposed to the chibi art design). At times there is an over usage of scrolling single pictures in place of animation, which works as both an advantage and disadvantage. The advantage: it is reflective of the pacing of the anime. The disadvantage: it can be too slow (Especially in the beginning when the story is slower).
STORY, CHARACTER: Probably the greatest strength of this anime are it’s story and characters. The story and characters grow simultaneously making the world of Berserk very lively. Most of the typical anime cliches are steered clear of here (with the exception of one blatant one), which really improved the effectiveness of the story and characters. With a unique and lively world, Berserk captures a lot of realism for an anime.
OVERALL, ENJOYMENT: This is definitely not a lighthearted anime. It can be embraced to the extreme of obsession (Like me) because of the interesting, deep perspectives that operate in the story. The good development quality only makes it further enjoyable. But this anime is truly for a certain crowd because of its extremely deep nature and depictions of extreme brutality. This is going to be a ‘hate it or love it’ sort of anime.
(Updated August 2008: Touched everything up a bit; explanations should be clearer now. =] Thanks for all the positive feedback.)
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Kenpuu Denki Berserk
2. Cardcaptor Sakura
4. Lodoss-tou Senki: Eiyuu Kishi Den
5. Majutsushi Orphen
6. Shadow Skill: Eigi
7. Popolocrois Monogatari
8. El Hazard: The Alternative World
9. Silent M bius
10. Mamotte Shugogetten!