They’re the best Anime that 2002 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Abenobashi Mahou☆Shoutengai, Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!, Pokemon, and more!
10: Abenobashi Mahou☆Shoutengai
English: Magical☆Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
MAL Score: 7.25
Satoshi “Sasshi” Imamiya believes his life is in shambles, as only a 12-year-old can. Having lost his card collection, his childish dilemmas worsen when he learns that his childhood friend, Arumi Asahina, will be moving away.
Suddenly, their issues are dashed aside for the surreal, and they find themselves transported away through bizarre worlds of science fiction, magic, and war. Any attempt to escape only catapults them into another alien land. Soon, the two come to a realization: every world is just a reimagining of their hometown. But there are two unfamiliar faces—the voluptuous Mune-mune and the elusive blue-haired Eutus—and they just might be the key to escaping their predicament.
Abenobashi Mahou☆Shoutengai follows Sasshi and Arumi’s comedic exploits as they desperately attempt to return home. However, when the pair unravel a tale spanning generations, they begin to wonder if the cause of their situation is more personal than they thought. Is returning home truly what they desire?
The story pretty much surrounds two really good friends Arumi and Sasshi. Who happen to live in a rundown project area called Abenobashi Shopping District thats on the verge of being replaced with a new develpment complex. Of course noone wants to leave but then, everything just starts to go awry quite fast. This is where the ‘falling down the rabbit hole comes in’ Some seasoned anime watchers will be thinking this is alot like Excel Saga but the only connection will be that they are stuck in wierd (not random) enviroments. Beyond that everything will make sense the more you watch the show. Overall, the show manages to bring comedy, drama, action, fantasy, and even romance in to one nice fun 13 episode package.
When you hear people talk about how important having a good production company is for an anime, Abenobashi would be a perfect example. Gainax and Madhouse are two of the best companies in the businesss and watching this show you’ll see why. Theres so many dfferent handpainted backgrounds, that i lost count at about 100 per episode. And the art themes and backgrounds are very different in every episode which makes this show such a joy to watch. On top of that the comedy gags are just so funny you cant help but laugh out loud. Some comedy shows can get by just by having a poor art and great characters, but if you want to see what a comedy can be like with high qualtiy art, this would be the show. I cant forget to mention that the shows characters all show such a diverse range of emotions (and body parts) that fit perfectly with every situation. They use comedy faces at the right times, drama faces at correct places, all of them are displayed with such timing and style its almost eerily perfect. Its hilarious how they manage to pull off so many anime, movie, and video game gags in such a small amount of time. Also my only gripe is that the cast sometimes talks too fast but thats also for comedy purposes
Another thing with the characters is that the voice cast are just perfect for this show, the two main characters are polar opposites from each other but sometimes on occasion they switch roles which makes them fun to watch. You’ll manage to love and hate both of them in equal amounts. Most of the other characters are so hilariously good that you’ll wish you can get them out of you memory banks. The ugly characters are rife with age spots and the youthful characters are filled with beautfy and sexiness. Speaking of sex theres alot of ecchi sittuations in this show, so if you don’t mind a little skin with your comedy its there, Theres even a large amount of ecchi jokes that most people might find offensive but is still hilarious in their own right.
Usually when somone hears the same sound effects robbed from other places its a bad thing. But in this case, robbing or emulating the same sound effects are perfect for this show and whats makes this anime so top notch. It was so fun trying to spot all the different sound effects and spoofs and place them with their original place. The high quality sound actually carrys on to the songs. The background music cosists usually of big band style music perfect for a comedy pair such as Ayumi and Sasshi. The op song is perfect as its a very up beat fun song excellent to set you in the mood of watching the show. Whereas watching the ending song gives you almost a nostalgic feeling (complete with black and white japanese history slide show) which you should be feeling after watching one episode of Abenobashi with all the fun spoofs and such. I can safely say i’ve seen the op and ed every time and thats usually hard to do.
Overall, the show was paced perfectly, comedy was spot on, sight gags were more than perfect, more than enough media spoofs all throughout the show, and it was all just a generally fun ride throughout. Typically the general public views anime as a cartoon with slapstick comedy, boobs, and alot of screaming (like Akira). Thats a pretty good description of the show in a nutshell. This is one of the show’s that would be perfect to show a new anime viewer. Everyone should watch this show regardless of their preference, because even if it sounds like the same formula (from Excel Saga) it is far from it.
Not a big fan of giving all 9’s and 10’s but that my honest feeling about this show.
The debt this series owes to Excel Saga is obvious and considerable, and wile I love both series, to me this has the edge in my affections. Sasshi and Arumi\’s efforts take them from one genre parody to another week by week, but unlike Excel Saga\’s scattergun "just because I said so" approach, the whole affair has a coherent and moderately serious storyline running through it, tying everything together. That one can maintain a single overarching plot through an RPG world, a kung fu world, a scifi world, a gangster world, a warfare world and so on is impressive enough.
But the fact that you needn\’t follow the plot, if you don\’t want to, is also pretty smart. If you prefer, you can generally ignore the overarching plot and concentrate on the humour, of which there is lots, and it doesn\’t really let up; none of excel\’s recycling here, no "cute animal anime skit number three". The exceptions are a couple of episodes that in fact aren\’t all that funny and are mostly concerned with the overarching plot, a bit of a weakness. Perhaps with a little more polish this element could have been spread across the whole spread of episodes, and as it is, it does require some concentration to fully \’get\’ the plot. No matter, I found myself laughing my ass off most of the time anyhow.
Graphically, Abenobashi Magical Shopping Arcade has nothing very special about it – but it\’s a rare comedy that dazzles the eyes too. Everything is however perfectly unobjectionable, with character design probably the most impressive aspect. All the supporting cast, the familiar faces from around the Shotengai, appear in a new form for every episode; it\’s easy to take for granted the way they all fit straight in to whatever setting, yet are instantly recogniseable, no small feat in actuality.
There\’s a mostly jazz-flavoured soundtrack, the BGM nothing incredible, generic but pleasing, and far from seeming out of kilter; like character design it is easy to take for granted its modification to fit the setting of each episode. The opening theme is infectiously catchy and great fun, one of my favourites among Hayashibara Megumi\’s many, many happy songs. The ending theme is also one of hers, and is gentle and lovely, the sort of music that makes you think of summer sunshine.
Basically, Abenobashi Magical Shopping Arcade is one of those rare things that is as complicated as you want it to be. It can be just a parody humour show, or a more complicated tale with serious points to make about urban decline and the loss of community feeling, and also about genre cliches, if you like, on top of simply being funny as hell. You gets more than you pays for, for once.
First when I heard this anime’s name, it made me think of a bunch of cute magical girls with pink hair and super round eyes casting spells and fighting against evil. Something I totally wouldn’t watch. Then I noticed the producer is Gainax, which immidiately made me intrested of the series. So, watched it and I’m happy I did.
Abenobashi tells a story of two childhood friends, Arumi and Sasshi. They live in the peaceful city of Osaka spending time with each other and just hanging around. However, Arumi is going to move to Hokkaido with her family and Sasshi’s pretty shocked when he finds it out. After few strange incidents these kids get sucked in different worlds. Time and period changes every time but the city and the people in it remain, although their settings change. Only Arumi and Sasshi can remember their ‘real’ world, everyone else are living their lives like it has always been the same. Arumi and Sasshi are trying to figure out why they are shuffling these weird paradox-worlds and how they can get back to their original world.
Abenobashi has many movie references from famous American films which is a funny twist when you recognize them. Each episode contains a different world with different set-ups, varying from fairyland to a world of war. Even the art style changes making you really wait for the next episode. It’s a story about life and changes that come along with it.
As I am a big fan of Gainax productions, I really enjoyed this art. It reminds me of FLCL, maybe being a bit more mellow and pastel-colored. Still it has those little details and fast paced movements that makes it super-enjoyable in my eyes. I wish there would be more animes made with this same style.
The atmosphere is mostly created by the art and dialogue/storytelling, so the music mostly stays in the background. The music isn’t that intense but it fits in nicely. Voice actors in the other hand are extremely good choices! None of them made me irritated, they fit really well with their characters. Sometimes it’s really a pain in the ass when you find a good series but the voice actors suck so bad it makes you not even want to watch it at all. Gladly that’s not the case in this one.
The main characters are really good friends with each other. Sasshi’s a good example of a teenage boy who’s still a bit childish with his dreams and behavior, while Arumi is a bit more mature and she easily gets mad by Sasshi’s ‘stupid’ actions. We get a peek of their familiesl and their pasts as well, which makes you understand the main characters and their intensions better. All of the characters are unique persons, they have their own story and goals to reach. In every episode the background-characters positions change, though they still manage to remain their personalities.
If you have watched FLCL and liked it, you totally need to watch this. Abenobashi’s wacky, energetic and humorous. It makes you laugh and smile but some episodes might make you cry and leave you with chills. Because of the jumping from world to world, this anime has a little bit of something to everyone. You should watch it, even if only once.
9: Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!
English: Mirmo Zibang!
Japanese: わがまま☆フェアリー ミルモでポン!
MAL Score: 7.29
Kaede is a cheerful and energetic eighth grader. When it comes to boys, however, she is hopelessly shy.
One day, on her way home from school, Kaede walks into a mysterious shop and buys a colorful cocoa mug. When she reaches home, she casually peeks into the bottom of the mug and discovers an engraved note, which says, “If you read this message aloud while pouring hot cocoa into the mug, a love fairy (“muglox”) will appear and grant your every wish.” The skeptical but curious Kaede follows the directions and announces her wish to date Yuuki, the class heartthrob. Suddenly, the adorable blue Mirumo appears! We soon find out, however, that this cute little muglox would rather eat chocolate and create mischief than help Kaede.
Mirumo, it seems, is prince of the muglox world. Horrified at the prospect of having to marry Rirumu, his princess bride-to-be, Mirumo has escaped the muglox world. Hot on his heels, however, are Rirumu, Yashichi the bounty hunter, and a cast of hundreds of muglox ranging from the good to the bad to the nutty. This gang of adorable troublemakers will see to it that school life for Kaede and her friends is never the same…
Wagamama Fairy Mirumo De Pon is one of my most favorite Animes, of all time!! When I was younger, I would quickly change the channel into where Mirumo De Pon is airing. If I don’t watch a single episode in one day, I’d cry (Lol i’m too dramatic, huh?)
Anyway, this anime made me enjoy my childhood days. It’s the first reason why I would finish my homework before the episode starts.
Although I hated some of the characters (like AZUMI & HARUKA..) but I enjoyed it very well. I first wanted to have my own muglox. LOL.
Overall, I enjoyed it. I hope to see more anime like this!
A few days ago, I decided to watch around 12 episodes again. A few episodes from each season. They were still as fresh as ever, although I found it hard to find the still-working links. The story was mainly about the antics of our gang, along with their cute coffee-cup fairies that changed their lives forever.
After a few comparisons of anime from a few years ago, I noticed that it was pretty solid for its time. The “Moe Revolution” was still climbing, so it was a little ahead of its time, so to speak. Although I don’t think it would appeal very much nowadays.
The sound was also pretty nostalgic. I remember the feeling of dancing to the theme song of Mirumo, and also joining the dance along when he transformed. I could tell from it’s own OP and ED that it was meant for kids, so I don’t think it would appeal to teenagers, unless your like me, who had grown up with Mirumo. But just as the art, it would probably not appeal as much anymore, as it did back then.
*sigh*… I can’t really seem to put off my own personal experience with Mirumo as I write this, so I don’t think it would help that much. But anyway, the verdict. I wouldn’t really recommend this now, since there are a bunch of other anime that would be a better watch, but if your just looking for a cute little piece of history to pass the time, then go ahead.
MAL Score: 7.35
Pokemon are peculiar creatures with a vast array of different abilities and appearances; many people, known as Pokemon trainers, capture and train them, often with the intent of battling others. Young Satoshi has not only dreamed of becoming a Pokemon trainer but also a “Pokemon Master,” and on the arrival of his 10th birthday, he finally has a chance to make that dream a reality. Unfortunately for him, all three Pokemon available to beginning trainers have already been claimed and only Pikachu, a rebellious Electric type Pokemon, remains. However, this chance encounter would mark the start of a lifelong friendship and an epic adventure!
Setting off on a journey to become the very best, Satoshi and Pikachu travel across beautiful, sprawling regions with their friends Kasumi, a Water type trainer, and Takeshi, a Rock type trainer. But danger lurks around every corner. The infamous Team Rocket is always nearby, seeking to steal powerful Pokemon through nefarious schemes. It’ll be up to Satoshi and his friends to thwart their efforts as he also strives to earn the eight Pokemon Gym Badges he’ll need to challenge the Pokemon League, and eventually claim the title of Pokemon Master.
Pokemon works with a re-use formula, the story is long, it is repetitive, it doesn’t progress in any way because development doesn’t really happen.
Art and sound is mediocre as it is a mass-produced anime. Production costs would have been sky-high if they spent any more money on it, and it shows.
The characters are pretty two-dimensional. They aren’t deep, you don’t go into their heads, and they’re all about 11-15 years old but all act the same.
But why do I love this anime so much?? I was obsessed with it as a child, and it still has a warm place in my heart. I think it’s a perfect anime for children because it teaches them some good lessons: try to be the best, do the right thing, and your friends and family are the most important people in your life.
Only unfabulously mean people hate on Pokemon. You know they all watched it and liked it as a child, but my, how uppity we have all become. If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to go back to when anime was about adventure and friendship and silliness, then Pokemon is for you. It’s also a harmless, fun anime for your kids, too. So I totally recommend it. Fabulous, it is.
It starts out with a tiny step, like most other journeys. Our hero, Ash Ketchum, has high dreams of becoming the ultimate Pokemon trainer (I’ll refrain from explaining that to you), and he starts out by sleeping in too late! before logn however, he’s gotten his first (reluctant) Pokemon, everyone’s favorite mouse Pikachu, and they’re off on their epic journey!
The shows brings out an epic adventure of friendship, harsh battles and whatnot; everything you’d expect from a shonen that’s aimed at the younger kids. It isn’t that great however, as it gets very repetitive after a while; a Pokemon/person of the day formula with some kind of problem that always ends well. And that’s what most of the episodes contain, with a small bit of getting further on their journey every now and then.
Animation-wise, the show doesn’t feature anything boastable, with flat character designs, okay backgrounds and no spectacular special effects at all. Was it because of budget restrictions (it is a pretty long anime, after all), or was it because the producers knew the kids they were aiming the show at didn’t care anyway? Well, whatever it was, the animation isn’t anything to brag about.
The soundtrack is what you’d expect of such a show; adventurous opening themes, background music that’s supposed to get you into the fighting/comedic mood, and a variety of sound effects to use for all the moves and whatnot you’ll see. The voice acting is decent, but honestly – my unability to cope with dubs in anime pretty much wins over my nostalgia here, and that is the main reason I stopped watching the show some time ago.
The characters are, well, what you’d expect from a shonen. The rash, headstrong main character and his oh-so-arrogant rival, and the people he travels with; the older, more reasonable (mostly) fellow, and of course, the tomboyish girl with whome he argues a lot. Yup, that’s shonen for ya. The main comedic relief of the series, the Team Rocket trio, is actually a pretty entertaining one. Despite constantly neglecting to look over their mistakes and realise that every one of their contraptions fail against Ash and company, they keep on trying, knowing thinking that their boss will reward them greatly of they bring him the Pikachu. I like their stupid enthusiasm a lot, and their scenes are often among amogn the better ones in the series.
So… Pokemon is basically a cliche-ridden shonen with no real thing to make it stand out. Wait… that can’t be right? What about all the kids that love it? And what of all the others that love it? One of the things, I believe, is the adventurous feel of the series; who wouldn’t want to experience such an epic adventure for themselves? (I know I want to, at least!) Not to mention, the great values of friendship, loyalty and trust which are presented to the viewers. That is one thing that makes Pokemon so great, and I’d try to get any kid into the show becasue of that reason alone. And that’s what there is to say about Pokemon, actually.
The animation was great for its time, and the songs were very addictive. It was obvious that everybody that saw the show enjoyed it very much, myself included. And to this day, over 10 years after the debut of Pokemon, they are still able to sell merchandise.
But what created the downfall of the series was that it never ended! The show could’ve easily ended at the end of episode 84, with the end of the Pokemon League. They could’ve said “Since that day, Ash trained hard to be a master.” and then show him as a master. But no, the episodes just keep coming and coming. Johto was cool because of showing new pokemon, but when they repeated the trend of “new pokemon lolz” it got old really quick. And not mention that Ash never matured. He had a birthday one episode and in the 3rd movie he exclaimed that he and Pikachu have been together for a year. But at the start of Diamond and Pearl Ash was mentioned to be 10 years old again. Inconsistency is bad if you want to keep your audience.
It still find myself rewatching the first few seasons of Pokemon and hugging my pikachu pillow. But the new episodes these days just don’t have the same atmosphere as the old show and it is hard to watch it without booing the lack-luster effort that gets put into each episode. But Pokemon will always have an unforgettable place in my heart and (ignoring anything past the Johto season) for that I give it an 8/10.
7: Motto! Ojamajo Doremi
English: More! Useless Witch Doremi
Japanese: も っと！おジャ魔女どれみ
MAL Score: 7.36
After the losing of magical ability to become witches, they once again become them. But, now they have to go through tests from the Witches of the Witch World. They also meet a new member, from New York, U.S. comes Momoko (the yellow Ojamajo).
Story: The queen of witch world wants to see Doremi and her friends as full-fledged witches so she consults with the senior witches ( 6 members) to give their opinions on this issue and though they were reluctant at first, upon Majo Heart’s suggestion to conduct tests, through which these witch apprentices should get the acceptance from these 6 senior witches. So far it was good and the tests were regarding making sweets of preference of each of the senior witches. Since our friends do not know how to make sweets, an Japanese- American girl named Momoko, who is also a witch apprentice is given by the queen to help our friends.
Characters: Character wise i like onpu and momoko in this series. These try to understand others with good amount of consideration. IN a episode aiko severely scolds momoko ” saying you are unfit for a mother’ when momoko carefully watched hana ( in specific she tied a rope to her waist and to hana-chan’s so that she could not miss her anywhere). Even our clumsy Doremi who too have done more damage to hana-chan than momoko, agrees with her. Moreover, in this series Doremi’s behavior seems to impact hana-chan a lot. For example Doremi’s mannerisms were shown to be practiced by Hana-chan.
Plot development is little in this season. But one can not skip it as it will reveal the sad story of the queen of two generations before.
One more interesting plot is that hana-chan hates to eat vegetables because of the 2 generations past queen’s curse so the responsibility befalls on our ojomajos. But i liked the way these tried to make hana-chan like the vegetables.
Music: Opening songs were seemed to decrease in quality from season 1 onwards. I liked MOmoko-s “ABCDEFG song.”
Enjoyment: I gave a score of 7 for the ‘ vegetable’ habituation strategies and the song of Momoko.
Japanese: X エックス
MAL Score: 7.42
His destiny has finally arrived as the young Shirou Kamui returns to Tokyo after 6 years. A powerful psychic, Kamui vows to protect the happiness of his childhood friends Fuuma and Kotori, even if it means avoiding them. But fate is cruel, whether or not Kamui wants to be involved; he holds the future of the world in his hands, given the choice of becoming a Dragon of Heaven or a Dragon of Earth. The Seven Seals gather, and so do the Seven Angels; all individuals who have their destiny carved out as one who would battle for the fate of the world. What future will Kamui choose to become reality?
STORY – Honestly, X has a pretty decent story, even if most of its themes are far from original. It is, essentially, another battle between humanity and the planet they live on, of man against nature. This conflict has been addressed over and over again throughout history in century-old novels and vintage films, in addition to a wide splattering of anime and manga. Mostly-unexplained supernatural powers and angel/demon parallels, both rather characteristic of CLAMP, aren’t very new either, and really, even combining the two doesn’t add a particularly intriguing angle. Nevertheless, X’s story is solid. It has everything a story needs: a clear theme, a clear point, a clear hurdle, and a clear goal. And actually, the final, deepest concept may even be controversial enough to be original. So what then, went so horribly wrong?
My main issue was pacing and bad storytelling in general. Despite having tons more time to deal with themes, issues, and characters compared to the disastrous X OAV, the anime still doesn’t seem able to utilize this time effectively. The first few episodes are heavy and fast-paced, tossing the audience into the crazy complex details of the conflict with little preamble. Then it cools noticeably and a lot of the macabre and shock is diminished. You kind of wonder what all the hubbub was about. The entire middle of the series seems to slow to a snail’s pace. There are frustratingly long scenes depicting nothing more than a man walking down a path. We really don’t need to watch Subaru walking in silence for five straight minutes and passing the same shrine multiple times. At least the Lucky Star girls were talking about something for five minutes.
Those slow episodes were attempts to delve into the individual backstories of our fourteen plus relevant characters (seven Dragons of Heaven, seven Dragons of Earth, plus supporting roles), but they fail to give much attention to these characters’ connections to the overall plot and theme, making them pretty useless in the grand scheme of things, especially since many of these personal struggles are never resolved. The story used to be clear and have a point, but after trudging through a half dozen of these character-centric episodes, you stop caring. Oh, right, we were concerned about the fate of the earth right? Morals and stuff, what about that again? The last few episodes are forced to pick up speed again, but it happens in that disorganized and rushed way where nothing really makes sense; they explain very little, and the ending leaves you more confused than anything else. And being a non-canonical ending doesn’t help either. Personally, I prefer the X OAV’s ending, even if the rest of it sucked. Clearly, the anime isn’t much better.
CHARACTER – I never did like Kamui much, even in the manga. Like many other things in the series, his backstory seemed uninspired and recycled to me. Typical cute childhood. Typical teenage sobstory. He is oversensitive, and all attempts to shape and transform his character never seem to go very far. The ruthless demeanor he tries to put on for the first few episodes doesn’t last long, and he ends up seeming pretentious rather than complex. I just found him incredibly hard to sympathize with, which is never a good thing. Fuma further seemed like a cheap shot at tragedy, and after a while, he was nothing more than yaoibait. Kotori? How many other "girl from my childhood who I’m in love with"-type characters have you seen? Typical shoujo.
The rest of the cast is a little more forgiving, if still despairingly typical. Of the Dragons of Heaven, Arashi fills in the role as priestess girl. Sorata is the endearing comedic. Karen is your religious character; Seichirou, your nice guy. Nekoi filled the cute school girl role, and Subaru was crossover material because CLAMP loves crossovers. Of the Dragons of Earth, Seishirou is also crossover filler, Yuto was amusing, and Satsuki reminded me of Lain. Nataku did not interest me at all — a clone just seemed unnecessary, but it was yet another archetype. Kusanagi, another nice guy, and Kakyo… eh. I’m indifferent. Hinoto and Kanoe are more of the same. All of these characters, more than anything else, seem to represent dozens of anime and manga archetypes, which limited my general interest in them. Their personal stories were intriguing at times, but were never explored to the depths that they were in the manga, and it was difficult to become attached. They were okay: not good, not bad.
As morals play a huge role in the series, each characters’ personal views and beliefs are the most interesting part of them. Those whose views come to shift and change, those who grow to question things, and those who have complicated relationships with others are the ones that are fun to watch. Nekoi’s relationship with Kusanagi. Subaru’s relationship with Seishirou. Kamui’s with Fuma. Seichirou’s with Karen. All the crossing of relationships over enemy lines was fun — like one giant, strange concoction of Romeo and Juliet-esque drama! Including all the sudden love! Sadly, while a few of the characters do manage to develop a little (read: Kamui), most don’t. They just don’t have enough time between when they’re introduced, when their backstory is explained, and the end of the series. Abbreviated depth when translating characters from manga to anime is nothing new though, sadly.
ART & ANIMATION – It seems to me that there are a lot of series weak in story and character, but strong in the technical aspects. X is beautiful. One day, I’ll figure out why CLAMP’s style of noodley bishounen and wide-shouldered biseinen is just so damn appealing. All the characters have wonderful and memorable designs, many of which highlight their clear personalities. Kanoe and Karen are both confident women. Kakyo and Hinoto are fragile and delicate. There’s a very clear connection between a character’s visuals and his or her substance. Backgrounds are impressively detailed, and I’m always enthralled by animated cityscapes. Rooftops and bridges all looked great, as did all the explosions and magic, all of the blood and macabre. For an anime series, X is definitely full of eyecandy.
MUSIC – I. Love. X’s soundtrack. It’s what I like most about the entire series, hands down. All of the music in the series is beautiful and distinct, especially the leitmotif. There are beautiful piano themes and much wilder, energetic battle themes, including a few very chaotic mixes charged on adrenaline. A lot of the sounds are reminiscent of more traditional Japanese music as well, giving a unique sound. There are also a few tracks that remind me of Native American and perhaps even African tones, adding even more to the blend. Seriously, X’s music is worth listening to even if you don’t see the series. The opening and end themes are both relevant to X’s themes and echo the kinds of sounds that present in the soundtrack. Good, good music all around.
VOICE ACTING – The change of cast between the anime and the OAV was disappointing in general, but the worst of it was trading Tomokazu Seki for Kenichi Suzumura as Kamui’s voice. It wasn’t so much that Suzumura did a bad job though, so if you haven’t seen the OAV (don’t), then it probably doesn’t matter very much because there’s no benchmark. As most of the characters fitted nicely to archetypes, most of the cast just seemed to give a generic voice. Tough guy sounded tough; cute girl sounded cute. Nothing special. Nothing to critique. Nothing to praise. I haven’t seen the dub for X, but I don’t imagine that it’d be much different.
OVERALL – In general, I dislike the idea of trying to make an anime out of a manga that hasn’t finished, but it is possible to do so without failing utterly. Fullmetal Alchemist is probably the best example, at least up until the last few episodes. So the fact is that X could have been handled much better. Trying to explore more than fourteen characters in twenty-four episodes while still orchestrating a main plot is hard. Instead of that, I think it would have been better to compress some of the smaller storylines or to get rid of them altogether, especially the ones that never got close to any sort of resolution. The main story was about morals, priorities, and the fate of humanity and earth. They never seem to explain that very well though, and things got confusing as a result. I, personally, didn’t like the ending, but I think that’s more because it was poorly executed than because it was actually a bad conclusion.
Still, it has become one of my favorites, because it has exactly those things that appeal to me in an anime show: a good storyline with enough twists and changes, excellent animation, a great soundtracks and amusing and diverse characters.
Of course the series has CLAMP all over it, which shows mainly in the characyer design and story, both of which are on par of the average CLAMP series, meaning they’re good. The animation in action sequences is fast-paced and intense, and the soundtrack accompanies each scene well, drawing you in even further.
As I stated in the beginning of this review, the plot is decent and there are enough twists and turns in the plotline, with the most important one taking place halfway through the series; I usually see these things coming, and while all the clues were there, spread out very obviously, I was still surprised.
What follows after that is a dive into the various main characters backgrounds and pasts (heroes and villains alike), and while that could’ve been drawn out a little more, it adds a bit extra..though not much.
The ending is… a bit less intense that I personally would’ve hoped for, but it still fits the series; still, it’s a non-canon ending, and I wonder how the actual series will end now…
A nice series to watch; if you like action with a touch of fantasy in a modern setting, then X is a nice show for you to watch.
The Story focus on the first episodes on Kamui who wants to get a sword that belongs to him, passed down from his mother, but gets drawn into a fight of the destiny of the earth. With him as the key to it apperently.
When put like this it doesn’t sound like much but add to that some very interesting twist and turns that can glue you to the screen and you get something that you want to see the end of no matter what.
The art is done very well, with nice backgrounds that don’t draw to much attention away form what is actually happening and very nice details which together make this anime very nice to look at
the music in my opinion is chossen very well in the dramatic moments, but the fight music is at best anticlimatic and sounds like your playing some videogame sometimes, but only when you have a fight that hasn’t some kind of drama in it. again drama-moments are very well done in this one.
The characters are split in two categories: in one can we put the to main chara’s… with development, emotions and all that portrait so realitic and believable that it can overshadow the, rather poor, suppourtcharaters that the authors were trying desperatly to give some dept but faild half way through.
All in all the anime is really worth it to at least watch once in your life, even if you aren’t a fan of emotinal animes and such.
5: Puchi Pri*Yucie
English: Petite Princess Yucie
MAL Score: 7.42
Despite recently turning 17, the otherwise ordinary Yucie still has the body of a child. Having stopped growing past the age of 10, Yucie yearns to fully mature into an adult body. One day, she is chosen as a candidate for the title of “Platinum Princess,” given once in a thousand years to whoever is worthy of the Eternal Tiara—a mysterious crown said to grant any wish. She’s not alone either, as four other candidates also compete to have their own wishes granted by the crown.
As a result, Yucie enrolls at the nearby Princess Academy in order to grow her heart and work towards becoming qualified for the Eternal Tiara. With her family, rivals, and even the principal of the academy there to lend a hand, will Yucie’s much-desired wish finally come true?
The story may be straightforward, but the execution is impressive. Most of the series is made of one-shot episodes about Yucie and her friends doing little things that bring them closer to their goal, but they’re each unique, taking place in different worlds and involving different characters. In addition, there’s a reoccurring cast with frequently-developed stories, such as those regarding their family life… and, as you would expect from a series like this, a sweet romance or three. Sure, not every episode is engaging or even interesting, but they definitely have enough going for them overall that makes them easy to enjoy. In the last few episodes, a serious plot develops, and while it will feel pretty standard to anyone who watches magical girl series, you can’t help but cheer for the cast to do their best and win. While there isn’t much plot substance overall, and what is there is quite predictable, it’s still a nice mix of fantasy, romance, and magic perfect for any shoujo lover.
The character designs are quite cute, and while they’re not amazing they match the series well. The creators weren’t afraid to make fun of themselves, either: Yucie is frequently mocked for her huge forehead. The animation quality is decent enough; nothing stood out to me either way. The music is also quite average, but overall fitting and likable, and there was a piece or two of BGM that really impressed me. Furthermore, the opening song, “Genius of Smiles,” stands out as incredibly catchy and cute, and is very much worth a listen even if you aren’t a fan of the show. These elements may not stand out, but they’re worthy components nonetheless.
The main five characters of Petite Princess Yucie are a solid cast. Yucie’s sweet optimism makes her a character that you can’t help but love, even if you are the type to get annoyed by magical girl heroines. The shy spirit girl Kokolu, feisty demon Glenda, and heavenly yet picky Elmina make a great circle of friends for her, while the final girl, Beth, is especially interesting as a character. That’s not to sell the rest of the cast short, though! Every last major character has a developed personality and grows through the series. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the cast, but it’s really only the five girls and their stewards (magical helpers) who have developed personalities. Still, the more one-dimensional members of the cast are just as likable.
Do you love cute things, magic, and fluffy fun? If so, Petite Princess Yucie is a great series that should defiantly be on your radar. Shoujo fans will find everything they enjoy about the genre in a series that’s more than the sum of its parts, while people who aren’t usually fans of shoujo may be pleasantly surprised. Sure, it’s not technically impressive or particularly epic, but Petite Princess Yucie is lots of fun to watch, and sometimes that’s all that you need. It may be a seven from a critical point of view, but it’s a darn high seven.
Our story is all about a young girl named Yuushi (Yucie in America), she was found abandoned by her foster dad, who later finds out that this girl is different than most, in that Yuushi is not able to grow to normal adult size, due to a curse placed on her! Upon her 17th birthday she sets her sites on a magical item called the “Eternal Tiara, ” which only the “Platinum Princess” can obtain…to hopeful cure this mysterious curse on her. The whole story stays pretty linear in this regards, yet changes at the same time to help prevent the story from coming off as too tedious. Along the way Yuushi meets other Platinum Princess Candidates who she deems as her good friends, but also fellow rivals to her goal. (since only one can become the Platinum Princess) Now the story doesn’t stay with the same formula in mind all the way through, as a lot of episodes will show her friend’s troubles along with her own, as well as give good hints as to who they are and what obstacles they too have gone through in their lives, most of which are regarding their families. Since Yuushi can only obtain her goal by doing good deeds and collecting all of the crystal flowers (which happens ever few episodes, and require the girls to visit many different worlds), you will get to enjoy a lot of different aspects of the series. Such as Yuushi trying her hand at baking, becoming a librarian, nun, a farmer etc. All in order to rack up her good deed points. There really isn’t too much action that takes place here, especially considering this takes place in more mid-evil times, but you do get a fair amount in there as well…especially towards the end. The story doesn’t really contain many plot twists in the mix, with the exception of one that, again, only happens towards the end. I think many viewers will find that the overall plots in the story can get pretty predictable at times, which may turn off some fans who are looking for some surprises in their anime. The ending does tie up most loose ends of the series. Only bummer is, we never really get to find out much about Yuushi’s past. Still, getting there is quite fun, and you get a good supply of comedy, drama, romance, and adventure. Which helps the story from becoming stale.
“Puchi Puri Yuushi” shouldn’t really contain anything that viewers will find offensive. The violence is pretty mild, and there isn’t really too much of it. However there is a scene or two when one of the characters gets cut, and there is a touch of blood on them, but nothing gruesome is ever shown. Also, one of the girls does come from a “demon world, ” so that might offend some. Other than that, there really isn’t much to worry about. Nothing ever crosses over a “PG” rating.
My favorite part in the artwork category was the characters themselves, (well, the main cast anyway) because all the girls are drawn with pretty good differences, so nobody ever looks like they were just copy and pasted from the same formula, I especially liked the design on Yuushi herself. All the adults in this title on teh other hand, seemed to look a bit more generic. I was never really able to find one that stood out for me…well other than a character named “Gunbard.” The backgrounds were also another stand out feature, I think they pulled off the whole “fairytale” look quite nicley. Now I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of most of the actual clothing in this anime, they just looked so bland and boring. Overall the animation is nothing spectacular, but I think they pulled off the look and feel they were going for.
The opening and ending themes match well with the whole fairytale-ness of the title. The beginning comes in the form of a nice kind of out beat style song, while the ending is played a bit more suttle. The background music? Well…its okay and all, but nothing really ever stands out much. (lots of guitar picking tracks throughout the anime) Now when comparing the sub to the dub, I would recommend watching this in subtitle form. The dub isn’t really bad, and I honestly did get use to it after a while. But the voices just didn’t match nearly as well as the sub did, because some of the American voices actors they got tended to get a bit on the annoying side. The soundtrack can be somewhat generic sounding at times, but nothing really too bad.
I really liked the cast of characters, I felt they were varied so much that it was just great to see them all interact with one another. We had Yuushi the outgoing one, Glenda the rival and comic relief of the show, Kokolu the quiet one, Erumina the noble, and Besu the loner. (all of them come from different worlds) The supporting cast is also great as well, and some actually help in the comedy areas. As much as I did love them and all, I also couldn’t help but feel that their overall ways could be considered a bit stereotypical and by the book as well. What sets them apart from becoming tagged as soly that, was the great chemistry and friendship they had. It may not have been fleshed out enough to really set the stage for anything…but they did do it well enough for you to at least care about them.
Puchi Puri Yuushi may not be anything special, and some may not like the big amount of cuteness or it’s somewhat predictable storyline. But the anime is still a nice title to invest your time in, just for the sake of enjoyment and fun. If you’re a fan of fairytale style anime, and don’t mind a good portion of cuteness to go as a side dish on your anime plate? Then “Puchi Puri Yuushi” is a tasty treat indeed!
Petite Princess Yucie started as a video game series, aptly named Princess Maker. These video games, also by Gainax, are about creating a character, finding clothes for her, and getting her jobs and such. The goal is for you to keep working your character up the career ladder, until you reach a prestigious job, or fall from the ranks and end up in a dead end job or something. The game even includes such jobs as prostitute and crime, so I don’t really think they are for children. The game is famous for having over 70 different types of endings. Quite a feat in the early 90’s when they were released. However the anime is free from anything risque, adult, mature, or graphic in nature. It seems to have taken the basic themes of games, and turned it into a true magical girl anime that could be watched by anyone (and it should be watched by everyone!). This is the perfect series to watch with children, but adults will like it too. The anime was created in 2002 and directed by Masahiko Otsuka. Otsuka is a veteran of Gainax Studios, but this is his first time directing something on his own, although he has co-directed many titles before. And I must say he has his own style, and helps make this series become something very special. In some ways it’s very different then a regular Gainax series, but in other ways its deeply rooted in their style. Anyway, I do hope to see more series directed by the man, because he is quite talented.
As for the story, although nothing completely groundbreaking, it is very good. The setting is a standard “sword and sorcery” fantasy realm, and I really thought that gave the series a nice touch. There are dragons, mystical creatures, fairies and who knows what else out there. The show revolves around Yucie, a 17 year old girl, who’s stopped growing at age 10. Yucie wants nothing more then to age like a normal girl, so people will take her seriously. This is very understandable, I mean everyone takes one look at her and thinks she’s a child, not some older teenager. And I doubt many people would believe her, if she told them her real age. But she has another reason why she wants to be normal. When she was a young girl, she was saved by a little boy but never got the chance to thank him. By now he would be grown up, but she still looks like a little kid. She wants to properly thank the boy, and feels she can only do so if she looks her age. She also seemed to have developed a bit of a crush on the boy, even though she would never admit this. And what kind of a proper relationship could he have with a girl that looks like she’s 10!? Yucie ends up being thrown into this whole “Platinum Princess Candidate” thing going on at the town. Whoever can find something in the castle can become a Platinum Princess Candidate, and Yucie sees a light at the top of the castle, and she’s instantly drawn to it. When she makes her way to the light, she finds the Queen of the castle there, and she celebrates the fact that Yucie will become a Platinum Princess Candidate. It is revealed that once every thousand years a group of girls are chosen to be candidates, and one of them will eventually become the Platinum Princess, will be given the Eternal Teairra, and granted one wish. Luck (or faith) was on Yucie’s side it seems. Perhaps she can get her wish to become an adult at last!
Yucie must go to the castle’s own Princess Academy, and learn how to become a proper princess. At this school she slowly meets her rivals, and it becomes clear that the Platinum Princess Candidates must grow their hearts if they are to become the true Platinum Princess. As the main cast is slowly revealed we noticed that they all stopped growing at age ten. The first girl introduced is the quiet and friendly Miss Cocoloo. Cocoloo is the princess from the Spirit World. Next we have Miss Glenda, the fiery and competitive princess from the Demon World. And we also have Elmina, the stoic Princess of Heaven. Yucie and her rivals must go on jobs in which they must accomplish tasks for the townsfolks, or help them with errands, or merely babysit little children. These jobs are designed to not only help their hearts grow, but to also learn what it means to be a real princess, and become a generally good person. Each of these episodes have the girls work together to accomplish a goal, and toward the end they all learn an important less. And the lessons are never after-school special lame either. The girls, despite being rivals quickly become friends. Even though they know only one of them may get their wish, and so there may be some hardships to overcome in the future. In between these jobs, the girls must also collect the “fragments” of the Eternal Tiara, which are each in one of the many worlds (Human World, Heaven, Spirit World, etc). These episodes are usually quite light hearted, cute, and very fun to watch. There is some really funny moments in the early episodes. And despite the pattern, none of this is repetive and all of these episodes tend to move the plot along quite nicely. The series continues in this pattern until another main character is introduced (don’t worry I won’t spoil much). In which after this character is introduced the jobs and fragment collecting finishes up, and eventually the series heads toward a very dramatic conclusion. The last arch of this anime is quite dark, sad, and has a lot of drama. And although I loved the cute opening episodes, these last few are my favorite. The series deals with some really sad things, and although it never becomes depressing you may want to have a few tissues nearby just incase. The second to last episode is very powerful, and it’s ganna hit you in the heart. There is a very beautiful and heart wrenching scene at the very end of that episode that probably will make the tears start flowing. And I really loved how the show concluded, although I suspect many will not like the ending. But I think many will enjoy the fact that every single thing is explained before it ends. And just enough back story and interlinkings of plot exists to make everyone happy. And luckily for us everything is resolved and it does end. Although I’d love to see another season of this great show. Please Ganiax? Use some of that Gurren Lagann money you guys got.
The series has many strong points, one of them being the interactions between the characters. It’s just great to watch these girls become friends, and bump heads with each other along the way. I really enjoyed watching Glenda and Elmina fight with each other. The two girls are clearly friends, but they won’t admit it. Glenda would usually say something about another girl not being up to her level, in a joking tone, and Elmina would always manage to turn it around on her, making Glenda seem like the butt of her own joke. Some of Elmina’s lines are priceless, and since she speaks in an almost emotionless manor, it makes them even better. Since they are both princesses of the demon world and heaven respectively, it makes sense why the two fight a lot. They seem to always be at odds with each other, but manage to come together when the moment calls for it. Another thing I really liked to watch was the close friendship between Yucie and Cocoloo. And hearing Glenda joke that Yucie is a “brat” and that she’s a “fantastic” and “elegant” princess never gets old. And surprisingly all the main characters evolve and change. The character development was handled quite well, and even the supporting cast changes somewhat. Each of the girls have a “steward”, who helps them along their ways, and all of the girls fathers make an appearance. And of course a series like this would not be complete without a Prince as a love interest (although he may or may not turn out to be a surprise)Perhaps my favorite example of this is Glenda changing, which is clearly shown with a fight scene toward the end of the series (I’ll be vague in order to avoid spoilers). Since she is from the Demon World, she has magical powers, and when she fights someone later on you can’t help but feel for her. You notice how she changed and became a truly better person, caring for others more then herself. This fight was really a defining point in her evolution and I just LOVE that scene. And let me say this is one of the few series out there where I like each and every character. All the characters are interesting, unique, likable, and never annoying.
Another strength of the show is the many themes it deals with. And for this type of show it is actually quite deep. The show asks us what it truly means to grow up. Because Yucie and the others have aged, at least internally. But at times they still act like children, and their youthful bodies help to keep them young. This may be a metaphor for young adults. On one hand they look like children, but on the other hand they are mature enough to be considered adults. It’s like they are trapped in between phases, in between ages. Just like the girls here, they don’t fit in with the adults, but on the other hand can’t relate well to the children. And their youthful appearance helps to keep them young and active. The series also deals with friendship in great detail. What does it truly mean to be ones friend? And how much do you really care about these people you label as your friend? Throughout life we will have many rivals and will bump heads many a time with them. But can we still be friends with them, despite fighting over something very dear to us? Petite Princess Yucie has a lot to say about that as well. And the series also deals with father-daughter relationships. I’m sure many fathers and daughters out there will get a lot more out of this aspect then me, but I did find it very touching and sweet. OK so this series may not come up with a new philosophy on life, or delve into quantum physics or anything like that. The plot is not overly complicated or complex either. And it doesn’t dissect it’s characters in classic Anno style either (although he was the supervisor on this series!). But it’s certainly not some shallow throw away show either. It’s not at all fluff. It has a real heart, and the story can move you and make a real impact on the viewer. To me that is a sign of good storytelling.
As for the visuals, well this is Ganiax after all, so expect some impressive stuff. For a TV series the artwork is very well detailed. It’s colorful, light, and beautiful at times. The backgrounds help to give this a “fantasy” feeling, by detailing the towns, hills, valleys, and castles really well. The non-human worlds are also quite distinct, and not exactly what you’d picture. But they work quite well. Gainax seems to have ignored their other more common styles (FLCL style and Nadia style), and went with a more standard magical girl style that obviously is very fitting. Character designs are all cute, with big eyes and colorful hair styles. However the series style of characters does look different enough to help it stand out among other series. It should also be noted that AIC co-produced this with Gainax, so perhaps that’s one reason why this looks so different then their other stuff. The animation is always great, and I doubt anyone would ever have a problem with it. All in all the series looks really great when everything is together. Well animated, light and colorful color palette, and great character designs. It may look a little too cute and childish for some, but I like the style.
As for the music in thsi anime, I found it to be above average. The opening is cute and fluffy, and really never fails to put a smile on my face. It has become a real favorite of mine! The background themes don’t really stand out on their owns, but they are very fitting and I did really like them. There’s one insert song toward the end of the series that I loved (and it’s song by the English Dub actors as well who do an amazing job by the way), and the second to last episode plays a slightly different version of the opening theme that works really well with the final scene there. The ending theme is fitting, and more quiet then the opening. And it’s also another good song. As for the dub, I really loved it! There’s nothing anyone could ever find wrong with it. ADV gave this title to their studio in Austin, Texas to dub. Austin’s studio was named Monster Island, and frankly I’m kind of sad they didn’t dub more titles. Because Petite Princess Yucie was quite a dub. It’s a very fresh, and expertly acted dub, with a great script and perfect casting. Rachel Rivera plays the lead, Yucie, and she does a great job. She makes Yucie quite adorable at times. You just can’t help but root for Yucie, and part of that is because of Rachel Rivera’s great performance. Cocoloo is played by Monika Bustamante, who has a really unique voice and helps makes the character Cocoloo come to life. Really, it’s hard to imagine anyone else play that character. She has Cocoloo’s quiet nature down pat, and sounds just a little strange, but not at all weird. So Cocoloo. It’s hard to play the balancing act here between just a little weird, yet kind and warm, and also very quiet. But Bustamante handles this like a veteran. Kelley Huston plays Glenda, and her voice really suits the character well. She captures Glenda’s more passionate side with ease. She knows exactly how to get worked up about something, and can say her little catch phrases perfectly. She always manages to get a laugh out of me. But she also knows when to tone her character down, and when Glenda’s sweeter side is being shown is when Hutson really can shine. Elmina is played by Leigh Anderson Fisher, who mangaes to get her almost-emotionless state of being down pat. She can make Elmina sound distant, but not cold, monotone but still caring, and even can subtely change her tone of voice just enough for when Elmina is joking around that it sounds perfect (but never too much as to give Elmina too much emotion. After all angels in this anime are almost emotionless, stoic, and always calm or firm sounding). I must also commend David Jones, who plays Glenda’s father, the Demon King.I have to say this guy is really good. He should move to Houston ASAP! I want him in more dubs! The Demon King is not at all evil, although he is a demon, so he must still sound powerful. And David Jones gets this. The Demon King really cares for his daughter with all his heart, and is always bossed around by her. David Jones does a great job at making the Demon King powerful, silly, and a little over the top, all which fit his character to a T. But he never crosses the line into annoying, which was probably hard to do. This is quite the contrast from his previous role, the cold hearted and evil Gargoyle from Nadia: Secret of Blue Water. Another role in which I really enjoyed him in. The supportive and episodic characters are all very well cast, and do a very good job as well. And almost none of the cast is recognizable There are practically no long time veterans, or fan favorite voice actors here. And so it all sounds very fresh, very new, and it stands out among the hordes of generic sounding dubs which have become the norm. This is a keeper.
So is the show perfect? Well for this type of show I would say just about. There are very few if any problems I can find with this show. Not many flaws overall. Perhaps they waste too much time early on with the light hearted stuff? And maybe it’s a bit too episodic in the beginning? But I find that those episodes did add to the story, and they were never repetitive. And the early episodes are vital for fleshing out and introducing the main characters. So perhaps the biggest flaw in the show is being in the magical girl genre to begin with. Not because I personally dislike the genre, but because many will dismiss it just because of that. Which is really quite a shame because the show is worth a look at. In fact I specifically recommend this show to those who say they dislike magical girl shows. They may find that in Petite Princess Yucie, they finally have a magical girl show in which they can say they enjoyed. Ok so it probally won’t change your life, but the story is very good, the characters are likeable, and it’s very well done. And it’s a very powerful story with a real heart. And sometimes that’s just enough.
This anime is not for everyone. It’s very cute, sweet, and at its heart it is a magical girl show. I mean the girls do have tranformation sequences, the show is about retrieving magical shards. Many people do not want these things in their anime, so I don’t know if they would enjoy this. But it’s also about growing up, and learning to love your friends and family. And it is a very powerful story. But if there’s just one magical girl show you must check out, let it be Petite Princess Yucie. The show could easily be enjoyed by those that are not big fans of magical girl shows, and you will enjoy the very powerful story it has tell. One with a real heart, great characters, and great production values. It’s very sad at times, but instead of focusing on only that emotion the series has you laugh along with the characters, get scared with them, get exited together, and finally grow with them. You may cry along with them, but on the large it is a very uplifting story that I cannot recommend enough. Are you manly enough to watch Petite Princess Yucie?
4: Digimon Tamers
English: Digimon Tamers
MAL Score: 7.62
Digimon Tamers takes place in a world where the popular Digimon franchise is all the rage, consisting of a cartoon, video games, and the trading card game. Takato Matsuda is a huge Digimon fan that’s particularly obsessed with the card game, and constantly daydreams about the universe therein. One day, he finds a mysterious blue card, which he slides through a scanner toy to use in the popular battle game. His toy suddenly glows and transforms into a Digivice, and Takato’s fan-made design, Guilmon, materialises in front of him. Thrilled by the prospect of having a real-life Digimon, Takato embraces his new partner, and his adventures as a Digimon Tamer begin.
Takato quickly discovers that being a Digimon Tamer is not all fun and games—in reality, it’s much more dangerous than the card games he’s accustomed to. Wild Digimon have begun to appear all across Japan, causing rampages that result in chaos and mayhem. Armed with his Digivice, which can scan trading cards to strengthen Guilmon, Takato and his new partner set out to combat the rogue Digimon. They are tasked with protecting the world from Digimon attacks, whilst a mysterious organization determined to eliminate all Digimon and their Tamers lurks in the shadows…
Let’s face it, the idea that ENIAC, the world’s second computer, was capable of twisting space-time and created parallel dimension where computer data took physical form and gained sentience on its own, and then interacted with human kids’ emotions to reconfigure the data to combat monsters, was quite silly, and the show mostly served only commercial purposes. (This creation of the Digital World is explained in the Wonder Swan games relating to Digimon Adventure 02.) The plot of the first season also was quite nonexistent, fighting one big bad with world-domination fantasies after another.
Then, after many years they decided to air Digimon Tamers in the kids’ weekday morning program slot. I hadn’t seen it back on the good old years because I didn’t know Japanese, didn’t want to watch English dub and subs were not available, which was quite surprising, considering Digimon is, or once was, very popular franchise around the world. I started to watch it mostly for nostalgy. Digimon Tamers however turned out to be much more actual cyberpunk than kids’ show.
Digimon Tamers’ plot is built upon the concept of unintentionally created artificial intelligence. It is, too, a bit strange idea, especially given that it’s creation is timed in 1984. But then again, Digimon Tamers officially is stated to take place in different universe, so we can assume some technology had advanced asynchronously. Or perhaps the same quantum phenomena that affected the creation of the Digital World played a role here. Anyway, the backstory is not fully explained in the show, there’s a novel called Digimon Tamers 1984 which would be a good companion to watching it, but it hasn’t been translated either to my knowledge.
Tamers is loyal to the original ideas of Digimon however, and the fact they made them believable, even if eccentric, is one of the things that make it so good. The childrens’ ability to interact with the Digimon in unique ways and the fact the main character actually CREATES his own Digimon are justified with the concept of DigiGnomes – programs that were originally intended as a part of a children’s toy, designed by a group of programmer students at University of Palo Alto in the 80’s, until the project was cancelled.
The art of the physical world is decent, but when we get to the Digital World it’s amazing, acidic. We have packets of garbage data running around deserts in coils, our physical world’s information networks manifested in the sky as a huge shining globe with greatest data streams arranging around it like debris rings of a planet, and all your classical Digimon weirdness – mansions inside glass bubbles underwater and completely monochromatic old-skool town etc. The CGI and normal animation in this show are in perfect balance. Some evolution scenes (basically those from adult stage to perfect stage) aren’t very cool, they could be much better, and that’s about the only actual complaint.
I’ve always considered all incarnations of Digimon to have excellent soundtracks, and Tamers is not an exception. The second ending theme ‘Days ~aijou to nichijou~’ is so sweet and dreamy I have on many mornings after not sleeping the night (like was the case at the time when Tamers aired here on kids’ mornings) listened to it on loop about ten times and got a really good feeling. After that it temporarily loses it’s charm, but on the next morning it’s restored. The opening ‘The Biggest Dreamer’ is really groovy too. Tamers has more futuristic and/or digital sounding BGM’s than the other seasons, fitting it’s themes and atmosphere perfectly. The first evolution sequence music, ‘Evo’ is probably the coolest Digimon evolution music ever, but the others send chills to the spine too. Try listening those in Youtube even if you don’t plan to watch the series.
Characters are better developed than in any other Digimon incarnation, and some have relatively dark backgrounds. Our main hero is way far from typical shounen hothead with big ego and exaggerated goals and bad manners. He’s what you’d call an artistic soul, and his development into a sort of knight on a white (though it’s really red here…) horse is interesting. The Digimon also have distinquishable personalities that aren’t paired with their owners’ personalities in any typical – balancing opposites nor overly similar – fashion. We have serious adventuring group drama here where half of the ‘people’ just happen to be artificial intelligences gained physical creature-ish manifestation via quantum physics.
Also, the Digimon aren’t initially friends by default. Wouldn’t you be surprised, confused if you just happened to encounter a talking battling mutating video game creature? Their slowly developing bonds are quite serious. And we get to explore the differences and similarities of humans and Digimon. At the beginning, most Digimon are guided by their basic instinct to battle, absorb the opponents data, convert it into utilizable form for self, and evolve, bestowed upon them by humans themselves. Neither is there any over-the-top world-saving premise – the characters become involved with it through pure chance, bit by bit, through their own choices.
Our main villain is, unlike the Digimon, an emotionless program. Originally created to keep the numbers of copies of data files in given limits, in order to prevent viruses from spreading themselves that way and collapsing the budding 80’s Internet, he has now gained physical form too, and become what you could call an ‘eco-fascist’, calmly launching plans to reduce the numbers of humans after calculating there’re too many of them for the planet to withstand. This is an interesting, thought-provoking concept really.
We don’t have big bad guys who are bad just for the sake of it here. Sans the few rogue monsters in the beginning that serve only as ways to initiate character conflict, every villain has understandable motives for whatever they do, and most turn out good after some serious misunderstandings and political or religious differences crossing the border of two different worlds have been cleared. The question whether or not we are gods and masters of our creations is also explored in many episodes – even if our creations believe in gods completely of their own.
And the final battle is on par with Gurren Lagann’s. No, I’m not kidding. They have many things in common in fact, as one Digimon’s final form is like giant green dog-faced mecha, and both involve quantum physics you actually have to think a bit for them to make sense.
Overall, it’s weird, trippy, cool and enjoyable to both children and adult science fiction fans. Not everyone is going to like it of course, mostly probably because it has lots of monster battles, the beginning is slow, and because some things of the backstory are left a bit obscure. Also some have called it Evangelion’s child, which in turn has pissed off some fans of Evangelion, which I think is completely justified – indeed it doesn’t go to same depths over same subjects. Some have called it a bad Evangelion-wannabe, but I don’t think they have much in common. Both are good though, so let’s not start an argument over this one.
If you watch Tamers expecting it to be like Evangelion, you’re going to be disappointed and probably hate it. So don’t do that. Tamers is worth liking it. It doesn’t try to be a ripoff of ANYTHING, it’s honestly completely its own kind of work.
There simply isn’t anything like Digimon Tamers out there.
Story wise: We have three arcs in this series and all of them are quite different in themes and quality.
First, the tamers beginning: this is a kind of prologue that goes from episode 1 to 13. Most episodes are just fine, with some really good characters moments. Every single Digimon series have always started a bit slow, but that’s only so we can get to know our characters and so it is understandable. Here we are presented the concept of cards, which is an amazing support system so that the human can aid their digimons in battle, as well as we start to understand the dynamic of this series; it is darker than the previous two, we don’t have chosen children, we have children who happen to become tamers, so there’s no actual deux ex machina to keep them safe and so the danger feels quite real. Even while in this first arc there is not such an extreme danger, the feeling is there in the air and it will pay off later on.
Second, devas: it goes from episodes 14 to 36 and here is where Tamers hit the lowest of its quality (except for episodes 33 to 36 that act as an introduction to the final arc); devas are the worst villains I’ve seen in any digimon series (and maybe in any given anime). Their motivation is poor, their design is dreadful and they are just plot fodder and not actual characters; we spend so much time with them that they just fall flat to make any impression. The worst episodes of the series features them, they are extremely boring or passable at best. Yet, when you ignore the devas, what happens around is fine or even good to great, as luckily our main characters are treated quite better, and such it is not a deal breaker. There are only 3 or 4 crappy episodes in this long arc, about 2 or 3 memorable ones, and the rest are just fine or slightly good. When you ignore the devas and focus on the rest of the characters everything is fine, but as soon as they appear they drag the show down.
Third and final, D-Reaper: Here is when Tamers shines; it is the best arc of the series and Tamers shows us it’s not afraid to go dark. We see the worst of some characters and the best of them; we get to feel fear and despair. Remember how I told you earlier there is no deus ex machina? Well, just 3 episodes before we enter this arc one of our character’s digimon dies (permanently) and a digivice breaks, something we’ve never seen before in a digimon series, allowing us to peek at the darkest of two characters just before it pays off for both of them, showing their best character development. As this arc starts both worlds, digital and ours, enter in such a huge crisis that is almost impossible to predict how it’s going to get resolve, and to do so everyone have to work together, not only the children and the digimon, but the adults as well, and so we get into a full set war against the new enemy that is filled with despair, but also some moments of hope to make an incredible smartly shaped finale. Everything we see here has been foreshadow before handed, and as such every moment feels earned, it’s not rushed nor convoluted, it’s just greatly structured and when you add that to some great characters you get one hell of an anime.
If just there was no devas, this could have been just as great as Adventure (or even better)
Characters: Mostly the character work is great; however there are some misses too here. But let’s see each character:
Takato: here I just have to applaude the writers. Takato started as a crybaby and a coward, but slowly he became more and more brave, accustomed to fighting, he became considerate, but he never stopped feeling like the same character. Though he changed he still felt like the same Takato. There is a moment when the writers just wanted us to hate him, around episode 32 or so, and though I did hate him quite a lot, I have to say that I loved to hate him, and I also was pleasantly surprised by how they handled it to make a character that came from annoying to likeable to hateable to be likeable again; it’s not something any person can pull, and by the end of the series, Takato’s character treatment is fairly the best and something that should be praised.
Ruki: A close second for best character treatment, just behind Takato, as she comes from ice cold with an “I don’t care about anyone” attitude to someone who cares deeply about her friends, is dependable and never stops being cool and badass. Her changes are slow and gradually made, and as such it’s never rushed and feels naturals. As she says by the end “humans don’t change that easily” and those words fits her perfectly. Her character is just outright awesome!
Jenrya: Here the writers made many, many mistakes! Though he is never annoying he is never all that relevant. Sure, he has his moments, but he never gets fully developed; we get just a bit of background in earlier episodes and no more, and he just feels like a character that acts as plot fodder rather than being a fully fleshed out one. Still, he will never be bothersome.
Impmon/Beelzebumon: here’s another character that started as a broadstroke and got amazingly developed. His background is consistent with his personality and he takes some courses of actions that largely impact who he becomes later and he must endure the weight of the choices he makes. He is by definition the “conflicted character” and when you use a conflicted character right in a show, it adds more layers of deepth to it, and as such this character gets it right!
Juri: I’m amazed that she came from annoying girl to what she became later on. I won’t enter on details, but after episode 33 we got to really explore the darkness of her character and shows us how even kids can hold up some very hurtful stuff; by the end of the series these conflicts get resolved, yet it is amazing to see someone who was so cheerful in the beginning (to the point it was outright annoying!) showing her darker self and overcome it. Kudos to the writers!
The three main digimon: It’s important to say that all the three digimon have fleshed out characteristics that makes each one feel real. I won’t enter into details, but I can tell you that Guilmon is loveable, yet silly in the beginning and he grows smarter and deeper as we progress, while never losing his cuteness. Terriermon is a relaxed type of digimon who learns little by little to take things more seriously and Renamon is a digimon that rather stays on the background, but just as Ruki she warms up to the rest gradually, while never letting go her characteristic self of staying in the background.
Other supporting characters: Tamers have several! It takes focus on others tamers as Ryo, Hirokazu, Kenta, Shuichon, the families of our main tamers and a group of adults trying to save the world, and develops them at their fullest while keeping them at the background. Ok, maybe not Ryo, but the rest all get as developed as they can in the limited screentime they have, and that’s something to praise, as not many shows care to do so.
Sound: Outstanding. There was a very well made decision here; some of the themes from the previous series were kept while also adding new ones, more techno that goes along with the sci-fi air this series have. Songs like “Slash” fit that really well, and the opening theme “The Biggest Dreamer” is just amazing and fits the series general theme.
Enjoyment: As I said earlier there are moments that are a real drag, quite bad to just outright awful, while there are also magnificent ones, specially coming from the last story arc. Still, as a whole most episodes are just good, but considering how extremely satisfying the final arc was, I decided to upgrade it from “good” to “very good”, ergo the 8 score.
Tamers stands as my third favorite Digimon series behind Adventures and Savers. It made many, many mistakes (I’m looking at you devas…), but as I re-watched it I realized it was worth to keep up with it and to endure the worst of it, because the highlights of the series are extremely good. As such, we can’t see this as the masterpiece Adventure was because it is not as consistent as that one, but it surely aimed for the greatest, it was filled with potential and it managed to explode more or less some of it, but not all. Still, it is a great Digimon series, and one worth re-watching. Also, it made possible the herculean task of delivering a finale as good as Adventure did, and that’s not a small feat.
Stary observations (funny facts and bits of information I got while re-watching, which might contains some spoilers):
-Juri to Takato (episode 11): “Always talking about Digimon”. Well, I’m 21 years old and I’m here writing these reviews so… yes, always talking about Digimon.
-Guilmon (episode 16): “I can do a handstand” Isn’t Guilmon the cutest digimon ever made?
-There was a ravel callback in episode 18! It was the ringtone from Nami-sensei! I thought it was worth writing it as it was an important song in both previous series.
-There are multiple foreshadows: for instance Juri becoming a tamers gets mentioned before Leomon appears, the Ark becoming Grani is also mentioned beforehanded, and so the theme of magic vs data in early episodes, among many others. This shows how much thought and effort there was on this series!
-There was a moment in episode 29 where a dog bullied Culumon. I won’t even try to understand it.
-Kenta (in episode 31): “Sukamon fits Hirokazu” I thought the same!
-Episode 45: “Justice Kick” worst ultimate attack ever! xD
-Episode 51 (finale): when the digimon left I couldn’t help but cry. Also, I smiled when Takato found the gate to the digital world.
And that’s it! I hope you liked this review! There’s much more to say about this, but I won’t make you endure it any longer. See you!
Next time: Digimon Frontiers took the risky concept of human becoming digimon and failed to keep an audience, almost killing the franchise.
Riku was more of a lean mean ass kicking machine who was relentless and gave no mercy, she thought of Digital Monsters as nothing but pieces of data.
The other characters beleive in the power of digimon and them as real creatures. This becomes obvious very early on in the anime.
There are three main digimon / heros of this unlike the other series where there we’re countless. Basically these evil things coming to try destroy all Digimon, these have to be stopped.
Through out the series you follow the paths of these three main character who are very well animated for their personalities…Their look reflects their attitudes greatly. I really liked the art and sometimes there was some really nice visuals and the sound make this quite an emotional trip through the characters eyes you may feel sad or angry at the events or actions of characters but overall it’s pretty amazing.
Just watching the journey these people come on is a great experience by itself, especially following the path of Riku.
This is my first review so I hope it made sense lol…hope you enjoy the anime too..I really enjoyed this anime and think it has a really high rewatch value…
3: Haibane Renmei
English: Haibane Renmei
MAL Score: 7.98
Born from a cocoon in the village of Old Home, a young Haibane—a being with a halo and small gray wings—awakens to a world she does not understand without memories of her past. Named Rakka for the dream of falling she had while inside the cocoon, she soon becomes accustomed to life in the strange town. However, there are strict rules for the Haibane, such as being forbidden to leave the village or go near the walls surrounding it. These, along with mysterious disappearances of their kind on their “Day of Flight,” begin to unsettle Rakka and the others since they know almost nothing about their own kind.
Haibane Renmei tells not only Rakka’s story but also of those around her, as they live their lives with no memories of the past while trying to break free from their former pain and ultimately find salvation.
Don’t be fooled by the angel-like appearance, by the way. Religion has nothing to do with this anime, and ABe has said before that it’s a purely aesthetic choice, though some do feel that there’s symbolism involved.
That said, it’s provocative and heartbreaking and dreamlike. Pacing is slow, but expertly done. You’ll find that one episode transitions easily into the next. And so much of the story is implied… as well as character backgrounds and the like.
Its art doesn’t try to wow the viewer, and it seems content to just let the setting and soft colors and unique character designs speak for themselves. The backgrounds are gorgeous and detailed. Characters’ personalities are mild and realistic; no character gets shoved into the standard archetypes you so often see in anime.
Also notable is the soundtrack. Every song fits the mood of Haibane Renmei perfectly — especially notable (aside from the opening, “Free Bird,” and ending theme “Blue Flow”) are “Garasu no Yume,” “Ailes Grises,” “Starting of the World,” and “A Little Plate’s Rondo.” Many of them feel like lullabies. Personally, the soundtrack is one of my favorite parts of this series, but looking at the other reviews, it looks like I’m the only one who finds it so breathtaking. Your mileage may vary.
It begins by letting the viewer into the peaceful simplicity of daily life in Glie, allowing insight into the setting and the minor characters, but it grows into a story about friendship and letting go and guilt and forgiving yourself and so much more. The climax of the story is likely to make you cry or cringe or suck in your breath — maybe all three.
At times depressing and at times gently uplifting and feather-soft, Haibane Renmei is unparalleled in beauty, and I wouldn’t hesitate to call it my favorite anime of all time.
One of the first things a viewer will notice when watching this series, is the visual and artistic style with which it is produced. Although the animation does not excel on any technical level, with occasional distortions and simplifications in the cel work, it certainly gets the job done and is more than made up for in the other artistic elements. The background artwork is detailed, scenic and fits the tone of the series perfectly. The character designs are simple but memorable and attractive, particularly Rakka. Most importantly, the series is washed in a soft, water-coloured style that gives it a subtle dream-like quality. The audio aspects of production were also strong, but, especially in the case of the score music, did not excel. Kou Otani (who recently did the score for Shana) handled the music and created a score that was engaging but ultimately forgettable. The main problem is likely that a real orchestra and instruments were not used to create the music, and although her synthetic compositions are strong, the sound ultimately feels tinny and a bit cheap. The OP and ED are very good, particularly the OP, which fits the series perfectly and is an inviting start to every episode.
Haibane Renmei (lit. Ash feather federation), starts off in "Old Home," a small, peaceful village full of enthusiastic youths. The story focuses on a group of five female "Haibane," whom are young girls with tiny wings on their back, and halos floating above their heads. The five eventually become six as a new girl, Rakka, is "born" into their world. From there, Haibane Renmei follows the trials and tribulations of these girls until its stunning climax in episode 13. With little tangible plot to grip onto beyond the premise, Haibane Renmei essentially revolves around the characters’ journeys in confronting their own personal issues, set against the mysterious backdrop of Old Home and the encompassing town. People often have gripes about plot points and settings not being literally explained or explored, but in the case of Haibane Renmei the fact that the surroundings of the Haibane and their circumstances are a nostalgic haze lends focus to their internal struggles. This series makes no mistake about what lays at the core of its tale and, as such, every heart-warming gesture or pang of despair is captured with potency and poignancy.
The characters themselves are benefited from this focus, with the two main characters given a remarkable amount of depth and intensity for a series of this length. The supporting cast are lent a certain weight, but are not completely fleshed out, which is befitting of their supporting roles, really. One great asset the series has is that, perhaps because it appears to be completely unconcerned with pandering to an audience or a market, its characterization feels uniquely sincere. They’re not classifiable as prodigies, tsunderes, role models or heroes, but rather feel like real people with a real heart and soul behind them. Not only does it make the cast likable, but, particularly in the case of the leads Rakka and Reki, this earnestness draws you into their emotional dilemmas and makes you empathize and identify with them. As the characters struggle to come to terms with themselves and their mistakes, it’s hard not to be stirred and affected.
But much more than just a drama with believable characters, Haibane Renmei is hued in a melancholic and languid atmosphere, and dripping with beauty in its symbolism and mystery. Inviting, warm, and ultimately gripping, Haibane Renmei is a series that is nurtured on emotion and thematic overtones, rather than being constructed with plot and action. If you can appreciate that, then it is sure to captivate. Where Haibane Renmei truly succeeds and other dramatic anime fall to the wayside is in its sincerity. Rather than being conceived for audience appeal, one can feel the passion and emotion of the creator seep through. In short, on top of its charm and poignancy, it feels genuine.
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
Washi – who composed the actual review
Archaeon – who contributed directly to portions of the review and gave feedback
Seishi – who contributed guidance from his own experience after already writing a review of this show
Here are their individual scorings for the show:
Category – Washi, Archaeon, Seishi
Story – 9, 8, 8
Art – 8, 9, 10
Sound – 8, 9, 10
Character – 10, 8 , 8
Enjoyment – 10, 9, 9
Overall – 10, 9, 10
In the club wide poll held for Haibane Renmei it received an average overall rating of 8.23
Thus begins the hauntingly decorative tale of “Haibane Renmei”
Instantly, “Haibane Renmei’s” inquisitive nature provokes the viewer while simultaneously mesmerizing with an unsettling, yet evocative atmosphere. Aesthetically, Renmei is subtly similar to that of an aged watercolor painting with broad strokes and distinct backgrounds. Musically, the series charms with its mellifluous pieces that refine its forlorn and bittersweet atmosphere with poignancy and care. Thematically, it probes the audience to ruminate indefinitely. Combining all those elements and packaging them in an amicable manner, “Haibane Renmei” manages to weave together a captivating tale with unforgettable characters that will surely capture the hearts of those who give it an honest try.
The story is simple. The series traces the “new” life of Rakka in the quaint town of Glie that is enclosed off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable wall. The bucolic town is home to both humans and haibane—“beings” with halos and char-coal grey wings. Distinctive of something akin to angels, the haibane subtly but distinctly set themselves apart from their physical image and beatific attributes. Rakka with no former memory or traces of her past assumes her new role and life along with her new haibane family.
Although the story seems straightforward, it is equally deceptive because where Renmei lacks in a strict plot, it makes up for infinitely through its substantial style and themes. With that being said, it is important to note that this is a series that capitalizes on maturing with time, making it a slow ride thereby allowing the viewer to appreciate both the artistic and thematic merits that constitute the show. There aren’t any cheap thrills, gratuitous expositions, female and/or male exhibitionists servicing the fans, or flashy fights; rather it’s a simple tale to bring the viewer a thought-provoking and beguiling experience.
As aforementioned, the story is one that may seem simplistic, but under its “no-frills” veil, it’s a labyrinth coated with insightful and empathetic themes. The series is structured in a way that certain, obvious questions are raised. However, while the series provides perceptive themes, it does not supply many answers. Like a distant illusion, a hopeful mirage, the prospect of a potential resolution looms, but never fully manifests. While that can potentially turn away many viewers, this plays to the show’s strengths because it allows room for imagination and speculation while holding true to the essences of the series. Often times there are no answers and in a narrative based around some themes such as self discovery and self truths, churning out linear answers would be clearly unjustified and of poor taste.
“Haibane Renmei” is a tale that inquires, but doesn’t resolve; it’s not to patronize the viewer, but to enhance the experience by showing rather than telling: a technique that’s highly underrated because it’s often misused or overly-done to a point where it can seem conceited or forced. Through Rakka and her fellow haibane comrades, we get to embark on a very special journey; a journey about a once crest-fallen girl who awakens in foreign lands only to discover the greatest truth—one about herself. “Haibane Renmei” illustrates the importance self-discovery, friendship, forgiveness, guilt, salvation, and “truth” in a world shrouded in ambiguity. The haibane almost seem like a nostalgic metaphor, one that eerily resonates with the viewer. Frequently, the closest familiarity lies within the most strangest of places/individuals and through these bizarre encounters do we get the chance to really look into who we are and more importantly, understand who we are.
One of the strongest points of the show is the characters. The developing propinquity between the characters is depicted in a classy manner while also establishing memorable personalities amongst the cast. Most of the themes of the show are actualized within the interactions and through the wonderfully constructed dynamics between the close-knit haibane family, the true importance of relationships shine through with blinding effect. The notion of friendship is crafted with extreme care; it isn’t overdone nor is it overbearing to a point where it becomes a contrived plot-device. Rather, it’s there for a definitive purpose: to engage the themes of the show and direct the characters unto their respective paths while providing the viewer with a filling sense of empathy and endearment. The two main characters Rakka and Reki are idyllic in that sense because their dynamics as friends and individuals are done with principle and relevance rather than characteristics defined by formulaic absurdities that accompany “power of friendship”. Both girls struggle and continue doing so but how they cope with their struggle and try to manifest their true selves through their respective struggles is one of the greatest accomplishments of this series and rightfully so.
The art and music both compliment the series nicely. The characters are designed in a humble manner which can be off-putting to certain viewers, but in all reality, the character design fit well for the purposes of the show. The art is fluid. A soft, pastel palette is used to give life to the rustic town while contrasting with darker tones of blues and grays to maintain the melancholy that lingers throughout the series. There seems to be a misnomer regarding this show’s art coming off as ostentatious and obtuse which could be considered distasteful due to personal preferences but as a whole, the art is alluring, complimentary, and aesthetically appeasing.
The soundtrack is heavily composed of harmonious yet melancholic piano music accompanied by the lilting of a jubilant violin. Although, the soundtrack is sublime at parts, it isn’t a collective masterpiece or something that would compel the viewer to indulge in as a detached element of the show. Conclusively, artistically and musically Haibane Renmei does not disappoint and serves its intended function to augment the atmosphere and setting of the show.
Perhaps it should be noted that this series comes from the unconventional yet brilliant mind of Y.Abe who created works such as Texhnolyze and Lain. Whether that is appealing or detracting, it must be understood that Haibane diverges from the extremely dark and brooding presentation of the aforementioned but maintains the thematic and aesthetic segments exceptionally well, just as the other works by Abe. Consequently, if you’re fan or new to Abe’s works and yearn for something that’s delectably intriguing but its own, Haibane Renmei will fulfill every intended quota.
Haibane Renmei is truly an enchanting series that appeals to the viewer not just as a series to enjoy imminently, but one that forces introspective contemplation afterwards. Truths and answers about the world and self aren’t black and white, but similar to the haibane’s wings–tinted in shades of grey. Immerse yourself in the town of Glie and walk aside the haibane in a world that’s as strange as to you as it is to them; perhaps in the process, you’ll find your shade.
2: Juuni Kokuki
English: The Twelve Kingdoms
MAL Score: 8.04
Youko Nakajima has only ever wanted to be normal. She does what she is asked, gets good grades, is the class president, and even helps her classmates whenever she can—but because of her red hair, she has never fit in. With her pushover attitude, Youko lets classmates take advantage of her, so she has nobody she can really call a friend.
But on an otherwise ordinary day, a man who claims to be from another world barges into Youko’s classroom and bows before her. This elegant blond-haired man, Keiki, claims that Youko is his master and belongs on the throne of his kingdom. However, their first meeting is cut short as Keiki has been followed by otherworldly beasts called youma. He is able to escape with Youko into his own realm, but two other classmates—Ikuya Asano and Yuka Sugimoto—are caught up in the madness as well. Unfortunately, their troubles have only just begun, as the youma attack leaves them separated from Keiki. Alone in this strange new land, these ordinary students must learn to fend for themselves or die.
It starts off innocently with Yoko being accosted at school by a handsome man with long blonde hair who wants to swear allegiance to her. Before she knows it, monsters?!? are attacking her, she’s being defended by Keiki, she won’t leave her friends and suddenly Yoko and the 2 friends she won’t leave have been sucked into another world. Thus begins our journey into the magical land of the 12 kingdoms.
I admit, after the dramatic beginning, I was expecting this to be like the Escaflowne/El-Hazard type of series. That impression was swept away in under 10 minutes. Escaflowne is a good anime, but 12 Kingdoms is a Great anime.
What sets 12 Kingdoms apart is the detailed explanation of the political, social, economic and philosophical aspects of the kingdom. As the episodes progress, you learn how the kingdoms are organized, why they are structured the way they are, and the good and bad things about each type of government. I’ve never heard it explained better in any other anime.
The story and characters really suck you in. The more they reveal, the more you want to know and you’re eagerly looking forward to each episode to see how the character’s will react, secretly hoping for some of them to "grow up", others to "snap out of it", and actually even hoping for a few to "just die". At the beginning, I really wanted to slap Yoko a few times while shouting "deal with it". But by the end of the series Yoko has become the heroine that people identify with and they root for her. There are pivotal scenes that make you stand up and cheer in joy.
There aren’t any extraneous "filler" secondary characters. While the motivations of some aren’t revealed till much later, for the most part you can understand and sympathize with the "good" secondary characters and grow to hate the "bad guys".
The fantasy world created by the writer is capable of much more exploration via this anime. The plot has many other directions it can go in. Even though the series ended at 45 episodes, I know a lot of us 12 Kingdoms fans would be really happy if they made another 45 episodes as there is still a ton of unused potential – including all the other "unexplored" kingdoms, not to mention the rest of the black kirin story.
Watch this great anime but be prepared to feel sad at the end because there isn’t any more to watch! The only flaw it has is that it ended too early.
Much like I found the overlapping worlds of Seirei no Moribito to be an interesting concept, I really enjoyed the way this world of The Twelve Kingdoms was mythically linked to our own – and how the cultural response to the kaikyaku (people from our world who fall into theirs with the passing of a mystical storm) is handled. Although the world has its fantastical oddities and mysteries, the peoples that populate it, their trials and tribulations, their feelings of animosity and companionship, are inescapably human, bringing the creative setting to life with a sense of believability and depth. This is when fantasy is at its best as far as I’m concerned – you can shove as many wizards and dragons into a story as you like and it’ll fall flat without an edge of humanness. For example, I loved the fact that the world had its own language, and that the language barrier between Kaikyaku and the native populace was of great significance, and that the world is filled with as many people eager to take advantage of you as there are apt to be helpful and friendly. The differences in ideologies and cultural outlooks from one kingdom to the next also lend the world a greater sense of realism. All these things combine to create a setting that is alive and vibrant, and easy to become attached to, as one becomes attached to a real city or country with personality.
Unfortunately, the dialogue is often stilted and seemingly unnatural (apparently every character is perfectly able to slip into a casual introspective monologue at the drop of a hat), and at the micro level, there are several small inconsistencies and poorly handled plot points dotted throughout the series which are sometimes distracting. Overall though, the story is woven together with deft hands. The series always has a strong sense of direction and an epic scope, with a story that deals with countless characters across many kingdoms, and yet which never seems bogged down, convoluted or tangential. Many anime series with fantastic plot seem to be unable to write it in a way so that the characters become emotionally involved in a profound way – but The Twelve Kingdoms really stands out from the crowd in this respect. Perhaps this is even more of an achievement given the length of the series – whereas most anime seem drawn out at 26 episodes, this show charges its way veraciously through its plot, with almost no filler to be seen. The only thing I could call filler would be the too frequent use of recapping. Perhaps it’s just because I watched the series in such quick succession, but it really did seem that there was too much time spent showing bits of previous episodes over again. The single biggest gaping flaw in the story is the lack of conclusion in Taiki’s story (leaving me looking to the novels). But for this, the story is wrapped up nicely, even without the originally planned continuation pending further novel releases.
The production on the series is very well done – far from perfect but, given the length of the series and the scale of the story, I think the studio (Studio Pierrot) did a good job at producing it. The character designs are all very well detailed and attractive, and the battle scenes (excluding the bigger army battles, which would be impossible to animate properly on a tv budget) look really good, occasionally exceptional with brutal choreography and fluid animation. As was typical of this vintage, there are numerous shortcuts taken in the animation and many imperfections, but some leeway has to be given unless one wants to declare all tv anime before digicel to be badly done excluding Bebop. The background art fits the bill, with nice and detailed scenery and a sense of exoticness to the landscape. Beyond a satisfactory visual render for the show, there isn’t much more of note to the production elements, other than perhaps some of the music, which is used sparingly but to good effect. The main theme, which plays in the opening is a great little piece, with an inviting sense of heroism and adventure to it. The voice acting shouldn’t be overlooked, with some voices well and truly making their characters; the sympathetic Taiki, the soft-spoken elegance of the Mt Hou sages, the unbashful heroism of Shoryu, and the earnest performance for the lead character, Youko, whose transformation from an insincere and insecure high school girl to a battle-worn Empress is handled with impressive believability.
Enhanced, no doubt, by these performances, the characterisation and character development in The Twelve Kingdoms is another of its triumphs. With one of the most memorable young heroines in anime, Yoko Nakajima, who is simultaneously easy to relate to and awe inspiring, and a large cast of supporting characters, each of whom have a distinct and interesting personality, this series is a joy to watch for those of us who love stories that flesh out their characters. You’ll swing from feeling pride at your favourite characters’ triumphs, to heart-wrench as they endure hardship and persecution, and lots in between. At the end of the series, you’ll be sad to see the curtains close because it will mean saying goodbye to a cast you have become attached to, whether because they are just likable or because you’ve empathised with them and watched them grow emotionally. I know I finished the series just wishing there’d be more so I could see what happens to Taiki, and what kind of rule Youko will uphold as a full-fledged Empress.
In conclusion, the series is good wholesome entertainment, with strengths in the most important fields of storytelling: plot, and character. The production won’t make your eyes widen, but it keeps up with the rest of the series. Every now and then, things feel a bit disjointed or the writing seems a little forced or unnatural, but with 45 episodes there’s plenty of content to redeem its missteps. Some arcs are more consistently gripping than others, but none of them should ever bore, and all of them had me on the edge of my seat at their climax. When I say arcs, there are only 3 major arcs, and each of them overlap, so don’t think it’s “episodic” in any way. I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy or who is just in search of an anime they can really sink their teeth into: a good old fashioned tale which is neither frivolous nor pretentious.
At the start I was pretty turned off by the series. I found the lead character, Youko Nakajima, to be utterly annoying. It didn’t help any that she cried and cried for like the first 12 episodes straight (okay, maybe 7). But when that was done with, and the new world that we are presented with is explored and explained, things started to look up.
The characters for the most part are pretty interesting. I especially liked Keiki (Youko’s Kerin – think man that can turn into what looks like a unicorn), Shouryuu ( King En), Rokuta ( Shouryu’s Kerin), Rakushun (a guy that’s really a rat) and many more. The characters all have some sort of substance, a majority of them have experienced some kind of hardship. You get to see most of them achieve such sincere growth that I for one couldn’t help but to smile at how they turned out after their individual journeys.
The plot of the story is pretty good as well, and the ideas that went into developing the backdrop are to be commended – the author was very imaginative – it works.
However, this series was far too long than was necessary. A few episodes were nothing but recaps of previous episodes, and when i say a few I mean more than 1,2,3,4…. That was annoying and really a waste.
There were quite a few side stories in the entire series (which is good) except one of the most major stories was never resolved. It was simply left…open..I kept wondering if somehow it flew past me and I didn’t realize, but after looking back thoroughly, I can say nothing came of it. I am talking about Taiki, the Kirin who disappeared along with his King. This was the start of a great side story, and it was disappointing to see that it wasn’t followed through.
Instead of wasting so much film to recap past episodes, surely it could have been used to do better justice to the novel and resolve Taiki’s story.
And to conclude, the very last episode was by far the worst episode of them all. All it did was pretty much recap the previous 2 episodes…word for word, picture for picture. If you watch episode 43 and 44, you’ve watched episode 45. Keiki, who is a very instrumental character, was pretty much left out of a majority of the episodes, and wasn’t even granted the respect of being shown at the end.
So, while this was a good story, with awesome characters, it’s not a show that I would be inclined to watch again, nor can i say it was enjoyable.
On a good note, I’ve decided to go out and get the novel. So I guess the anime has done it’s job to get me interested in the original source.
1: Princess Tutu
English: Princess Tutu
MAL Score: 8.13
In a fairy tale come to life, the clumsy, sweet, and gentle Ahiru (Japanese for “duck”) seems like an unlikely protagonist. In reality, Ahiru is just as magical as the talking cats and crocodiles that inhabit her town—for Ahiru really is a duck! Transformed by the mysterious Drosselmeyer into a human girl, Ahiru soon learns the reason for her existence. Using her magical egg-shaped pendant, Ahiru can transform into Princess Tutu—a beautiful and talented ballet dancer whose dances relieve people of the turmoil in their hearts. With her newfound ability, Ahiru accepts the challenge of collecting the lost shards of her prince’s heart, for long ago he had shattered it in order to seal an evil raven away for all eternity.
Princess Tutu is a tale of heroes and their struggle against fate. Their beliefs, their feelings, and ultimately their actions will determine whether this fairy tale can reach its “happily ever after.”
There were few reasons for me to watch Princess Tutu, but I still had a strange feeling about it. Today I regret not having watched it sooner for what I saw was one of the most engaging, clever and downright beautiful shows I had ever seen, overflowing with soul and passion.
Story: A unique fairytale which goes far beyond it’s limitations. Masterfully written, the story is a perfect blend of powerful moments, unexpected twists, comedy and romance. The fairytale structure takes the best out of classic ballets and weaves a story that is both coherent and diverse. The endings to both seasons are particularly outstanding.
Art: The series has a stylized and clean art style combined with great animation. Although I felt it fit the series very well, not everyone feels that way. Some believe the art style is a bit too girly or misleading, but it actually fits the fairytale theme very well. The backgrounds are great and the ballet scenes are beautifully animated (although some use too many stills which, even though beautiful, aren’t as good as the animated moments).
Sound: The "coup-de-grace" of the show, the soundtrack doesn’t simply support the show: it is part of the story itself. Each episode is accompanied by a certain ballet suite and takes the most advantage of it. The suites were carefully chosen and superbly performed by a bulgarian orchestra. I had heard many of them before and I was amazed by the quality of the performance. Every single note fits perfectly and sounds delightful, even the songs that were composed for the show. Truly mindblowing, the music adds a whole new layer of depth to it. The voices and dialog are also very good and fitting.
Characters: With such a great story and soundtrack, some would think that the development team wouldn’t be focused on character development. Wrong. All characters are believable, feel real and evolve throughout the story. Even secondary characters show a glowing spirit that many main characters wish they had. If you allow yourself to, you will be able to feel a strong bond and sympathy for those characters, even those you didn’t expect. The multi-layered Ahiru is an amazing and strong main character, and the others will surprise you as well. Not only do characters evolve but they also take advantage of a distinct way to show their "persona": dance.
Enjoyment: A show that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it. The episodes are so engaging and fantastic it’s easy to get sucked in. A surprisingly rich experience you won’t find anywhere else. Surprisingly, I found myself rewatching several scenes shortly after finishing the show. I recommend you to use headphones so that you don’t miss a single note of this visual and musical wonder.
Overall, Princess Tutu is a living, breathing anime that, unlike most magical-shoujo shows, truly feels magical. Yes, I may sound cheesy, lame and corny, but don’t miss out on this unique gem. A true masterpiece.
Story and Characters:
Well, the series starts off a little cliche and trope ridden. In fact, I had subconsciously made a list of every cliche I expected to play out during the series. But boy by the end of that series was I eating that list right back, this series completely redefines how magical girl series can be done. The series frequently takes plot lines and ideas from ballets and other classical pieces of music and then it takes all of them to make its own original and unique thing. And to anyone as concerned with the girly factor as I was, I really didn’t find any of the main plot as overly girly as I was expecting (I found it mildly girly to be fair). The ending has to be one of the best and most rewarding endings I’ve seen in an anime ever, this is a series that definitely delivers, even if you didn’t know what you wanted delivered.
Characters designs and animation are all crisp and beautiful and fit into the world so incredibly well. There’s also frequent CGI at times that is never jarring and fits ever so perfectly. But sound is where is where it was really at for me, having been an already existing fan of classical music. The series didn’t just use common pieces all the time, it used whatever piece fit, no matter how obscure and the series was made better for it. All the pieces that they picked intensified the mood of whatever scene it was in to make a perfect compliment. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find soundtrack usage this perfect again personally. It wasn’t only about having a strong soundtrack, but it was also about using it well.
This is one of my very few 10 series and quite possibly my favorite anime of all time. I think this series should be seen by everyone, you’ll find a lovely diamond in the rough with a great and memorable story. I really can’t think of anything else quite like it, this is a must watch.
Like all good fairy tales, the story is most crucial. It must be whimsical yet cautionary, quickly paced, and tightly-knit. Tutu follows this formula well, though not so much the "quickly paced" bit. This is because Tutu has an episodic monster-of-the-week nature that can become an irritance, and would have been if every episode didn’t, in some way, tie directly back to the main story. Much like director Junichi Sato’s other hidden gem Kaleido Star, the story is broken into two distinct parts, which while seperate, are directly connected. This storytelling works best in that it provides two distinct and memorable climaxes while never feeling rushed or out-of-place.
The main story itself is flawless. A fantastic tribute to the forgotten and oft-dismissed power of fairy tales and ballet, whimsical enough to never forget its true nature, and dark enough to invest interest and revoke the idea of it just being a children’s show.
It’s characters range from the absurd to the sinister and some even manage to play both during the course of the series. The characters alone are uniquely crafted. Though some follow certain Junichi Sato molds, such as Fakir and Mythos, Ahiru stands out as a subversion of the cheerful, determined heroine his works are often known for in that her efforts do not always deem satisfaction, and her ultimate goal is not met with her ideal ending. Everyone interacts sincere to their motives and personalities and no one ever feels like they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.
Of course the art, provided by Sato’s mainstay HAL Film Maker is divine. Every scene is fluid and graceful, especially the dance numbers. Character designs and backgrounds are very imaginative and hold the Germanic fairy tale motif that the series sets for itself.
The accompaniment for the series is a numerous array of classical music and ballet numbers, most of which will be recognizable by ear even if you can’t remember the name of what you’re hearing. Moreso, the music provides a direct parallel to the conflict in each scene it is used, and often scenes are choreographed around the music, making for dramatic impact mostly unparalleled.
Yes, the title is a turn-off, and I’m sure many of you out there think ballet is for 6-year-old girls, but Tutu takes the most universal and respected elements of the things children love and craft something everyone can and most likely will enjoy. Though it trudges in a few places, Tutu never forgets where it’s going. It’s magical waltz always catches up and makes sure it ends on the best note it can.
Overall, I give Princess Tutu a 9 out of 10.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Princess Tutu
2. Juuni Kokuki
3. Haibane Renmei
4. Digimon Tamers
6. Puchi Pri*Yucie
7. Motto! Ojamajo Doremi
9. Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!
10. Abenobashi Mahou☆Shoutengai