They’re the best Anime that 2003 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Digimon Frontier, D.N.Angel, Scrapped Princess, and more!
10: Digimon Frontier
English: Digimon Frontier
MAL Score: 7.15
With five new kids and an exciting new mission in the Digital World, Digimon Frontier brings back all the great action and adventure of the last three seasons. Takuya, Kouji, Izumi, Junpei. and Tomoki meet each other in a train that takes them to the Digital World where a war against evil is being fought. The Angel digimon, Cherubimon, one of The three angels sent to save the World from the power-hungry Lucemon, has turned to the dark side and the entire Digital World is in peril. To fight this great battle, the five CHOSEN ONES must find the Densetsu no Spirit (Legendary Spirit).
The fourth season at Digimon Frontier, this was the creators attempt at bringing back the faze of Digimon that was widely spread around the year 2000 but slowly began to die as the third season, Digimon Tamers, proved to be a disappointment to many Digimon fans.
In this season, the main characters, instead of having Digimon as their partners, the ‘Digi-Destined’ themselves turn into the Digimon. With provides a very interesting twist in this series compared to other Digimon seasons. Though I really liked this series, there were a few things I found disappointing in it, and I’m writing these things out for everyone can see the pros as well as the cons of this Digimon season.
To put it simply, the storyline was overall good. Your everyday, rescue the Digital World from being destroyed plot line. There were many points that could be easily guessed as to the results of the ending as the story draws to a close, but it also includes its many surprise twists that will surprise you no matter how much you’ve been paying attention to the story and each and every detail.
There are some points where I felt like it was just repeating the same thing over and over again and eventually it became quite boring since I could easily guess what the results were going to be. Though it wasn’t to repetitive to the point that each and every detail was alike, but it was still at that level that it was a bit boring to watch through.
I give this one a 7 because of the fact of many things in the art of it that particularly annoyed the hell out of me. For one, there were many incidents where the mouths didn’t move in sync with the words, at all. Not just slight out-of-sync, but major out-of-sync, it didn’t occur often though, which was a relief.
But. . .that wasn’t the main reason this got a 7 out of 10, my main pet peeve about the art in this was how characters would get injured, major injuries, and hardly be able to stand, the next second they’d be standing and all their injuries were totally gone.
Then there were other points when the injuries would last long. It just seemed to really piss me off about this fact of the art.
Well I could say the sound was really good! Great sound effects, I loved the opening song and always sang along to it, I also like the first ending, but when it came to the second ending it just seemed to become to slow for the way things were moving in the series and totally ruined it for me that I fast-forwarded through the ending from then on.
Don’t really know what else to say about the sound so I’ll end it there.
To many. That’s what I’ve got to say about it. There seemed to be to many main characters to give to much information about. In equal amounts that is. The story plot managed to tell you about each of their actual lives before they went to the Digital World, but for a couple of the characters, it was just a single episode used to reveal some of their past, after that it didn’t seem to be very important. Then there were a couple characters who their lives seemed to have almost half of the story line revolving around them.
It seems to start out with one of the characters, Takuya, having the role as the main character, but as the story plot deepens it seems that that staring role is transfered to another character. Not that I found anything to wrong with that though seeing as the new ‘star’ was a favorite character of mine.
I will truthfully say that I enjoyed this anime very much! Despite the things I stated before that I disliked, it was very good ^^ I became attached to some of the characters and cried when they cried, laughed with them, cheered them on, I’ll never forget this wonderful anime!
Overall this an outstanding anime! Though it may not appeal to some of those who are fans of the original (seasons 1 and 2) of Digimon. I’m sure it will be a favorite to those who have chosen this season to watch before the others. Both new and even some older fans of Digimon will enjoy this season. As unlike some of the earlier ones, it seems to be much more in-depth and much darker than some of the other season.
If you didn’t like earlier seasons of Digimon and saw them as ‘childish’, then you may prefer this season as it appears to be a much more ‘dark’ type of anime.
STORY: The plot develops quite well, actually surprising me with some of the twists. Keep in mind this series IS made for kids, so the messages that the story produces are things about growing up and making friends. On top of being a wonderful kids show, it actually has quite a few more adult like themes that surprised and pleased me as a teenage rewatcher of the show.
The storyline will often show the kids being bullied, or having very real problems that I myself have experienced in life. It shows how that effects them once making new friends, and it shows them grow throughout the series. It’s heart warming and very wonderful to watch.
Besides that, the plotline was actually very well written (definitely a step up from Digimon Adventure 02, in any case) and kept you interested throughout the fifty episodes of the show.
ART: The art, as it’s a very old show AND made for children, leaves a lot to be desired. The world is absolutely beautiful, though, and they do a great job with the scenery. I don’t believe the art is terrible, but it is definitely not great, especially compared to the art in anime nowadays.
SOUND: Both the original and the English versions of the soundtrack are pretty good, in my opinion! They are both very upbeat and really fit what’s happening in the show. Very enjoyable to listen to.
The voice actors in the original for the characters are much, much better, though. In the English, true to most children’s shows, they change a lot of things including names and whatnot, so I would suggest watching the sub instead of the dub.
CHARACTER: Every character is well thought out and well designed and well developed. Even though there may be parallels to other Digimon series (Takuya being similar to Taichi, for instance), they all develop very differently and in their own ways which was pleasing to watch.
Digimon Frontier delves more into character development then I feel the other Digimon series had, and it really allows you to get inside the character’s minds. It’s very intense, especially for a children’s show, and very interesting to watch. They did an excellent job at making the characters very relatable in their own respects while also teaching people about the problems bullying and other real life issues will cause later on in life. As a child, the characters in this show helped me out greatly with life, and I find even as an older teenager the messages are universally important.
ENJOYMENT: I have watched this series three times now — once as a young child, once recently in English, and again in Japanese — and I have enjoyed it every time. As I said, the messages are universally important and useful, and I’ve found them helping me in every day life.
The series is very different from the other installments in Digimon, and I think it increased the enjoyment factor for me greatly. It’s my favorite in the Digimon line, and for good reason.
OVERALL: I will gladly give this an overall ten, without a doubt. I love watching this series from start to finish and it’s highly enjoyable.
Delving into character’s minds is something of a hobby for me, and watching a Digimon series allow me to do that was a wonderful experience. As I said, it’s my favorite in the Digimon line, because everything worked so much better.
It had an original plot that was fun and interesting to follow, wonderful characters that were all very different from each other, believable character development, and so much more. Everything about Digimon Frontier was done well, if not very well, and I highly recommend it as something fun to watch and take your mind off of things.
It’s also, of course, an excellent show for kids, and I would recommend showing it to your children if you have them. It teaches wonderful messages that I still carry with me in my day to day life, and it does it in a wonderful way that I really appreciate now that I’m older.
You may wonder how I could give the story and art a good grade and give everything else either fair or lesser. For starters there’s nothing wrong with the story, I think that it does very well in presenting itself. And the artwork is fantastic, while I don’t agree that the characters serve the purpose that they should, they do however look really cool, as digimon mostly have. To be honest because of how the the characters are, it might as well be called Power Rangers: Digital World. You have Kids or teens that say a few special words hold out their cell phone like thing and magically put on armor that often has to do with a positive trait or animal.
Now really, be honest with yourself if this was made with the title power rangers and live action you wouldn’t think that it had any relation with Digimon. Why? because compared to the other four existing seasons of Digimon, this is remotely different.
Please note that this is how the anime came across to me and just because you don’t like the review I gave it doesn’t give you the right to shoot it down in a review of your own, if some people like it fine, but there are people who don’t like it and have their reasons, l feel that it’s not the way digimon should have been but that’s my opinion and everyone is entitled to one.
(Edit) I’ve recently come to the conclusion that Digimon Frontier is worse off than I initially thought. Do I think it’s bad to begin with? Yes. My opinion will likely never change on that. But I’ve gotten enough direct messages so some of the fanbase for Frontier just comes across as petty and even sanctimonious, further putting me off from this series. Why would I want to be remotely associated with that?
Do I respect that it’s been made and the effort taken to make it? Yes, of course. But if you’re going to once again try to convince me otherwise, note that I don’t care what you think. You’re more than welcome to enjoy this series. I quite simply don’t.
Japanese: Ｄ Ｎ ＡＮＧＥＬ
MAL Score: 7.18
Daisuke Niwa is a clumsy, block-headed, and wimpy middle school student who has few redeeming qualities. On his 14th birthday, he finally decides to confess his love to his longtime crush Risa Harada, but is rejected.
In an unexpected turn of events, however, Daisuke finds himself transforming into Dark Mousy, the infamous phantom thief, whenever his mind is set on Risa. Though Daisuke is unaware of this strange heritage, his mother is certainly not: since before the boy was born, his mother had been planning for him to steal valuable works of art and let the name of the elusive art thief be known.
With doubt and confusion constantly clouding his mind, Daisuke finds himself struggling in his relationships with classmates and family. And it is not long before Daisuke realizes that he is not the only one with a fated family legacy—his greatest adversary could be the one classmate he is most unwilling to fight.
That aside, I have never read the manga, so take into account that my review is written without knowledge of the story manga-style.
Fantastic! This anime is truly amazing! I want to start by telling you this:
The reason that this anime is so great is the innocence and purity of the romance. Most animes lack this, in fact every other anime I have seen doesn’t come close to this. Now this could be because I haven’t seen enough romance animes, but D.N. Angel touched me in such a way that still leaves me impacted, one year after viewage. (Yes, I know that’s not a word.)
Great story, I’m mainly grading by how engaging the story is, not how inventive it is. Its actually a very simple story, but its this simplicity that makes it beautiful to watch. To boil it down to the essentials, its just a story about a boy who is confused about love. As the story progresses, he slowly finds his way, and begins to understand more about his life.
I love the art, its unique yet not too forcefully new. Its very refreshing, and the smooth textures really blend in with the moods of the anime. I’m not a very artsy person, but a big thumbs up in this section.
The OP is just amazing, I can never get it out of my head. It sounds a bit weird at first, like the vocals are a bit weak, but the more you listen to it, the more it will be stuck in your head. The in-anime music is also fantastic, great great job here too.
This is where D.N. Angel really shines. The characters are simple, some cliche, but these are the characters I have found myself being attached to the most in any anime. The focus ends up being confusion and misunderstandings, and how the characters deal with these. And instead of turning into some dum fanservicey, ecchi, borderline hentai situation like most modern semi-romances do, the characters are forced to turn away from each other and they think long and hard about their feelings. Through this process, you really start to develop your own feelings toward each character. I really really got into this anime after about 13 eps or so, I became slightly obsessed… whoopsie 😀
Nothing much to be said here; I kinda already said it. It’s really great to see such innocence on the screen when other things like violence and fanservice are in high demand. Not that I mind either of those, but D.N. Angel puts those concepts to shame. Shame shame shame, this anime is so good.
I am definitely going to have to rewatch this anime when I run out (like that’s gonna happen…). But this anime has something that others lack, and its probably its ability to draw the viewer deep into the romance, and you can really see and develop feelings and attitudes during the episodes. Please, you don’t want to miss D.N. Angel for the world.
The story of D.N.Angel is relatively original as you don’t see other anime shows adopting what D.N.Angel has – an angel stealing artwork in hopes of preventing world destruction, if you put it in very simple terms. In a nutshell, the Niwa family has long been the bloodline that holds the dark-winged angel, Dark, in their male children and every 40 years or so, it is time once again for Dark to re-emerge and once again steal the artwork or art pieces from the Hikari family, who also houses an angel of their own, Krad <– Dark spelled backwards if you guys did not notice that immediately. The town that the story takes place seems like it was taken somewhere from Italy and they simply just inserted Japanese speaking people there. ^_^ But don’t worry, the town setting perfectly suits D.N.Angel as soon enough, you will be wishing that you were living in that quaint, little town.
A very important part of the plot is the triangle romance between our protagonist, Niwa Daisuke and the Harada identical twin sisters, Risa and Riku. At first, Niwa has a crush on Risa (the prettier of the two sisters) but as the anime progresses, we see a change in Daisuke’s heart. And its rather very interesting how the change comes about. The romance is such an integral part because in essence, that is what brings out Dark from Daisuke – his love for Risa. To understand exactly what that is about would be giving away too much. You should watch the anime. ^_^
The animation is actually quite interesting. There are a few scenes in some of the episodes which you’ll believe *have* to be computer animated, but amazingly enough, it isn’t. In addition, the quality of the animation is crisp, clean and smooth and is up to today’s standards, given that the anime is a few years old.
The music to D.N.Angel is very good, however, it does fall short of being exceptional. There are many scores that you will find enjoyable, but some of them just sound too much of the same. The introductory song is fantastic (True Light), however, it is sung in the same pitch of voice, and if you’re a big music person who understands that, it may or may not get on your nerves a little.
Character development is a integral part of D.N.Angel as the relationship between Risa, Riku and Daisuke is the overall focal point of the anime. Satoshi Hiwatari is Daisuke’s rival in a sense, however, as Daisuke embraces his counterpart in Dark, Satoshi is seen to reject his. The Niwa and Hikari families have been battling each other for centuries over these artworks and Satoshi is adamant in capturing Dark without his counterpart. Its interesting to watch his relationship with Krad throughout the series.
There is no doubt in my mind that everyone who is looking for a cute romance and an interesting plot will enjoy this show immensely. The only qualms that I have with it is that there are not enough battle scenes in the show that is seemingly advertised by the introductory song and the pace of the anime seems a bit slow in some of the middle episodes. The ending was also very abrupt and easily could have been stretched a bit longer, given us more information and more battles. But looking back on it, once can say that it was sufficient enough. However, once you get passed those two or three episodes that do seem a little too slow, you’re in for quite a treat. If you’re a sucker for romance, look no further than D.N.Angel.
What makes this anime truly stand out is how the story, the characters, and the romance are all serious and pure. This is not another silly anime where the characters degenerate into loons or crack stupid jokes. They take their lives seriously, which in turn allows you to take them seriously, and eventually get sucked into their world.
Though most episodes are captivating and fun, the show does stagnate in places. For example, I remember the snow painting episodes near the end being especially painful to get through. The beginning half also might seem a bit routine and slow, but just wait for the romance that eventually develops with Daisuke halfway through. It was presented very well with a lot of heart, and will keep you coming back for more. Wait for it.
However, keep in mind that this was marketed toward younger viewers, so dialogue, scenes, and characters might come off a bit childish. If you’re young at heart though, you may actually enjoy this point!
8: Scrapped Princess
English: Scrapped Princess
Japanese: スクラップド プリンセス
MAL Score: 7.40
Born to the royal family, Pacifica Casull has earned the nickname “Scrapped Princess” after an apocalyptic prophecy foretells her destroying the world on her 16th birthday. Rescued from certain death by a kindly family, she takes shelter with her adoptive older brother and sister, Shannon and Raquel Casull. When news of her survival reaches the ears of the God Mauser’s worshippers, they issue her death at all costs, forcing Pacifica to flee for her life.
Plagued by threats from the church, the nobility and even the common people, the three siblings attempt to outrun the fate Pacifica is destined to bring, all the while questioning if one girl’s life is worth the world’s demise. The true nature of the Scrapped Princess, along with the harrowing revelations of the world itself, becomes more and more apparent as the princess’ 16th birthday fast approaches.
When starting the show you will be treated to what is seemingly your normal medieval era sword and sorcery fantasy adventure. And for the first half of the series that is exactly what you get. The second half in some ways almost feels like a completely separate show as mecha like combat starts to replace your standard swords and magic fighting. I imagine some people who are expecting a more traditional kind of adventure might feel a bit disappointed but I thought the transition was logical and seamless. Pacifica, known as the Scrapped Princess is on the run with her two older siblings because everyone wants her dead as she is prophesied to destroy the world on her 16th birthday. Of course it will become obvious to the assassins sent after her and the viewers that she is nothing but a sweet girl who poses no threat to anyone. The plot moves along fairly slowly but the pace was quick enough that I never got bored with it. A number of interesting twists emerge, some predictable others not so much but all and all I found the mix of the old and modern technology quite fresh and original. The action and special effects are quite good but my one complaint with it is that towards the end it does feel like it drags on for a few episodes with little really going on. The ending was also pretty solid and I felt very satisfied with how many of the storylines wrapped up.
Pacifica shines as the main protagonist of Scrapped Princess. She is a very likable and character and I think most people will find it very easy to relate with her. Rounding out the rest of the main cast is the siblings and Pacifica’s guardians, Shannon and Raquel. They were very fun characters and I liked them both a lot. Unfortunately we didn’t ever get that much back story on either of them. Things were hinted at with them both but I was left feeling a little let down that these were not better developed. The supporting cast is also very strong as several characters shine, particularly Leo, but others feel a bit flat and stereotypical.
The music was very good. Both the opening and ending songs felt very appropriate and set the tone of the series. Voice acting is also very strong. Do to some issues I had with the subtitle timing on my DVDs, I was unfortunately exposed to the English dub of this show for an episode before I couldn’t take it anymore and had to download the corrupted episodes online. Honestly I don’t know how or why people watch English dubs, particularly from Bang Zoom! who has some of the worst actors in the industry. Why do I always feel like you’re trying to hard when you speak? Just talk normally, you don’t have to talk like your trying to be 12 years old. Just stay away from the dub. Remember: friends don’t let friends watch dubbed anime.
One of my favorite elements of SP, is the artwork and animation. The backgrounds and spell effects were beautiful. The character designs were truly exceptional though. The girls were all adorable and the guys were handsome and manly and bishounen free. Some of the girls bosoms were a bit out of hand though, particularly Winia’s. Those looked like they might get in the way.
Overall I am left with a very favorable view of this anime. A satisfying ending, great characters, I am sad to see this one end. The story feels very original and delivers a unique cautionary tale about mankind and his struggles to not destroy himself.
As you can see, I really liked Scrapped Princess. It’s a familiar song played to a different tune. The way it starts off gives the appearance of being slow and uneventful, but it all depends on your point of view. The action is light, and it builds up gradually to some pretty big battles as the story progresses, but what the show may lack in action it makes up for with some really potent drama. In this way it excels beyond the usual sword and sorcery fare. If you prefer the myth and the magic over character dynamics then this may seem dull and ordinary to you. I enjoy stories about escalating climactic battles, but life isn’t always an epic series of conflicts, so stories like this are nice as well.
The story of the Scrapped Princess is one of prophecy and death, and it never lets you forget that. There’s always an essence of tragedy and suffering looming in the air. There are moments of endearment and playfulness mixed in with those of doom and gloom. So on the surface it may appear to be just another medieval adventure, but beneath it lies an emotional one as well.
Sure there’s the occasional sword fight or spell casting or sci-fi tangent (there’s even some mech-like things), which are interesting on their own, but what I found myself instantly drawn to were the characters. Even though in the beginning I could tell the action was pretty low key, I was still no less interested in watching more. There was an allure not so much in what they were doing, but how they were going about it.
It’s a very well written story. The character’s are surprised when they are supposed to be, they’re not omniscient and are often ignorant of knowledge the viewer already has. Events and precedents are recalled correctly so there’s no plot holes. There are no real loose ends to speak of and the ending is solid. There’s plenty of good humor, romance, and really touching moments. It’s one of those stories where there’s a big world of big burdens and a decisive destiny waiting for them at the end, but it’s the journey itself and the little things inbetween I enjoyed.
The only flaw, if I had to pick any, I could see was that the whole Peacemaker angle was never explained too clearly or thoroughly. This leads to an ending that’s wrapped up just a tad too neatly/ideally for my taste. In fact, I’d say the whole sci-fi thing probably hurt the series more than helped. It could’ve done just fine without it. I would’ve liked a little more definitive clarification on how things got to the way they were, and some kind of indication of where they were going to go from there (such as what happens with magic?).
Given the kind of story this is, I think you get a pretty good feel for the characters, though none quite as well as Pacifica and Shannon. Everyone else are just supporting characters by comparison. Still, characters are fleshed out fairly well. Even if you don’t particularly like a character, you get some kind of sense of who they are. Not just in actions, but how they feel and think.
People are not one-dimensional automatons programmed with a set of unshakable and predictable reactions. They have moments of fear, doubt, impulsiveness, and weakness. It’s essential to establish these things as well for any story to have any semblance of authenticity. Some of the extra characters may not have been necessary but I think Scra-Prin did a good job anyway. No one was particularly overpowered or unbelievable, and the main character’s "spoiled innocence" lent itself well to this story.
The one oddity I would say is that the Winia character looked bizarrely identical to the Senes one. Were they related or did the character designer reach his creative limit?
Maybe it’s just me, but I really like BONES art. Their shows are always vibrant and colorful, their lines are sharp and clean, the character/outfit designs are beautiful, the backgrounds are lush and the animation is always fluid. I guess it may seem pretty "average" by modern standards, but I’d still say they’re my favorite to date.
Well, although no particular tune comes to mind, I’d say as far as setting the mood and tone are concerned, the music was always right. There were never any odd moments of silence and when a scene called for action or suspense there was always the appropriate music to accompany it. I thought the dubbing was pretty good, which is not a compliment to take lightly as I’m pretty critical about, well, everything, but especially dubbing. The subtitles on the other hand were littered with spelling/grammar errors.
Scrapped Princess is a rather misleading title. As a show it doesn’t sound quite right, and it’s certainly an awkward way to keep addressing someone. That is, it makes about as much sense as calling her the "Killed Princess" or the "Trapped Princess". Perhaps Cursed or Forsaken would’ve been more appropriate, though certainly less original.
This show was kind of strange for me because it had the flair of Fullmetal Alchemist and the heart of Eureka 7, but wasn’t as good as either of them in those regards. However, I would say it had the more complete ending of the three.
I’m not sure why, but in the world of Scra-Prin the average woman is very…. voluptuous, that or they are wearing some of the most form fitting clothing ever made. This is either a statement about the lack of bras in medieval times, or that women in our future will be very well endowed.
The animation is quite average – nothing to complain about…a bit boring at times. Nice character designs even for some of the supporting roles.
Sound – the ending theme caught my interest, nice arrangement, a bit different. The beginning suited the series and the score was fitting too, although nothing that stuck longer.
Now, the characters are one of the strong points of this anime…I somewhat came to like them…even Parcifia who can be a bit annoying sometimes with her: “Perhaps it’s better when I die” attitude. This aspect is just a bit to heavy. The development of some of the protagonists (especially Shannon, my personal favourite^^) is consistant; their dilemma and how they cope with problems is interesting and understandable.
Looking at this it is quite clear that I enjoyed it…it’s sad that this anime just couldn’t reach far enough to be truly amazing…but still a recommendable series.
7: 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?
6: Mujin Wakusei Survive
MAL Score: 7.71
The story is set in the 22nd century where space travel, planet colonization and anti-gravity basketball are practically everyday things. Planet Earth has become uninhabitable, and therefore people live in colonies on the surrounding planets. On a school field trip, a mistake causes the protagonist, a young transfer student named Luna, her pet robot, and six of her classmates to be thrown through a gravity storm and crash land on a seemingly uninhabited planet. There, with Luna as their leader, the robot cat Chako, the lone wolf Kaoru, the spoiled rich boy Howard, the shy Sharla, the obedient Bell, the prideful musician Menori and the young genius Shingo must fight for their survival. But is the planet really uninhabited, or is there someone or something out there, waiting in the shadows?
Overall, the story line is excellent. The group of young teens (plus one “animal”, as it says in the opening) get stranded on an uninhabited planet. The main premise is an old one: characters get stranded, must learn how to survive, get along, deal with assorted trials of nature and bad guys, figure out how to get back home. But for once, the writers handle it all very well. Episode plots are tight, the story moves along briskly but without sloppiness. One story arc lasts too long, which made the next one feel far too short, but other than that, the writing is as good as that in any top series.
A lot of thought went into real elements of survival in the wild, and the kids definitely have a hard time of it before they learn how to do all the necessary tasks to feed and shelter themselves. It’s not a picnic at all, contrary to most shows, live action or animated. The characters themselves start out as cardboard cutout stereotypes, but eventually individually-focused episodes and a bit of back-story flesh them out enough that you can’t help but root for them all. The writers maintain a good group dynamic throughout the series, with different characters revealing strengths and weaknesses along the way.
Also, Chako is quite simply the best cute animal mascot character in any series, ever. And I absolutely hate cute animal mascots (except Teto from Nausicaä). I hate them in anime, and I hate them in Engineering in the new Star Trek movie. But Chako is a good one.
The artwork isn’t all that great, but it’s not meant to be. The characters and animals all have a Pokemon look to them, but it’s not objectionable. The backgrounds, landscapes, and alien designs are well done, with nice colors, giving the viewer a good feel for the planet and its creatures. As others have mentioned, the character artwork and animation is very inconsistent. It seems like some of the in-betweens just weren’t done as well as the key frames. There are also a few moments where you want to shout at the screen to tell the animator not to attempt to do certain camera angles if he can’t draw those perspectives. But overall the artwork is nice and colorful enough, with that Pokemon-like bright and cheerful look, while still having a different enough to have its own character.
The opening sequence music really sets the mood, and reminds me of 80s American TV for some reason. End music is decent enough, but not as good. Background music is pretty good, and mostly unobtrusive (as it should be).
I’ll miss this show now that I’ve seen the whole thing. Disney would make a fortune licensing it for the US market, and I don’t understand why they haven’t brought it over already.
Well, its a story of survival on a remote island after a shipwreck or a plane crash (think a child’s version of Cast Away and Lost), but add elements of sci fi into it and you can imagine the basic premise of Uninhabited Planet Survive. Personally I really enjoyed the story of this anime, as it touches on many of the topics of actual survival in the wild if one was to unexpectedly find themselves stranded on a remote island (for example, having to find food, fresh water and shelter), but also had more fantastic themes often involved with science fiction, like monsters and aliens. However, this anime is obviously targeted at a much younger audience as all the characters are of elementary school age and as a result are oftentimes at an elementary school children annoyance level :p. The characters are realistic, although a little bit expected, with the typical rich brat, the classroom president type, the slow witted ox, the nerd, the girl that is always scared, the mysterious emo male, and the peacemaker (whom is the main character of the anime) and her pet robot.
Overall this anime is recommended to those of you who like stories of survival as well as discovery, but dont mind the characters being like your younger siblings. The real strength of the anime lies in its story, as the plot was well paced and you really get a sense of being part of this group, which is a lot of fun especially when they discover new things about the planet.
The art is simple, decent, but not the best I’ve seen.
Sound is also alright, but I positively despised one [Sharla] of the characters voices, I think they could have cast her better.
The character development was well done, considering the circumstances and the ages of the members, I think that they all developed well, and realistically.
So yeah, over all I really enjoyed this ^.^
5: Wolf’s Rain
English: Wolf’s Rain
MAL Score: 7.81
In a dying world, there exists an ancient legend: when the world ends, the gateway to paradise will be opened. This utopia is the sole salvation for the remnants of life in this barren land, but the legend also dictates that only wolves can find their way to this mythical realm. Though long thought to be extinct, wolves still exist and live amongst humans, disguising themselves through elaborate illusions.
A lone wolf named Kiba finds himself drawn by an intoxicating scent to Freeze City, an impoverished town under the rule of the callous Lord Orkham. Here, Kiba discovers that wolves Hige, Tsume, and Toboe have been drawn in by the same aroma. By following the fragrance of “Lunar Flowers,” said to be the key to opening the door to their ideal world, the wolves set off on a journey across desolate landscapes and crumbling cities to find their legendary promised land. However, they are not the only ones seeking paradise, and those with more sinister intentions will do anything in their power to reach it first.
The music was composed by Yoko Kanno, which means I might not have to say anymore, but I will. All her work is magnificent, but this may be some of her best. Insert songs and orchestration are beautiful as standalone but absolutely MAKE the emotional moments too. It’s a wonderful soundtrack to listen to without the anime, but it never overwhelms the story either, matching the action onscreen beat for beat.
In terms of voice acting, the Japanese is a solid listen, but also, Wolf’s Rain has one of the best dubs ever made. There’s not one askew line in the whole package, and what’s more, while I usually use this time to mention the standout players of the cast, I can’t even do that for Wolf’s Rain. Every single voice actor goes beyond the call of duty in their roles, all of them. Even some of the extras leave a strong impression in their five-minutes in the spotlight. This dub is perfect.
So the production values are top dog, but the real important things are story and characters, right? Well, that’s where your mileage may vary. Some people will shout, “This is brilliant!” only to be echoed by others saying “Uh…what is?”
Wolf’s Rain takes place in a complex fantasy world with a rich history, but doesn’t feel like sharing any of that history with the class directly. This is good because that leads to greater focus on the characters, and almost NO exposition spouting. Speaking of the characters, they all start out as flat archetypes and slowly flesh out into very complex personalities, which is kinda different. Still, this approach of showing very little and telling far less really forces you to think and catch fine details in order to understand why wolves are considered divine, what makes the nobles different from normal human beings, and most importantly, just what happened 200 years ago to make the world what it is in the story. It is possible to figure it all out, but it’s NOT easy.
This is because, and this is a little known fact about the show, Wolf’s Rain is an allegory, whereby most everything is actually symbolic of something else. Pilgrim’s Progress was a religious allegory, The Little Prince was a sociological allegory, and Wolf’s Rain is both, but not as obvious as either of them. The show cross-references several religions and mythologies to portray a unified theme. The wolves face trials of doubt, despair, mistrust, confusion and even a false paradise that offers bliss in exchange for identity, and this is in addition to the villains that hound them. The humans in the story struggle with issues of self-worth, denial, choosing comfort over facing the truth, etc., all leading up to a whizbang climax featuring one noble’s idea of the “perfect city for humans.” Think Brave New World or 1984.
The thing I like about this approach is that it’s subliminal. It’s not like Evangelion or Lain where you know there’s this big philosophy being waggled at you, you may not recognize any of the references in Wolf’s Rain, but its powerful message gets through just fine without mentioning a hedgehog’s dilemma or a god in the Wired. Simply put, Wolf’s Rain is powerful and it will make you think, but you’ll get even more out of it if you’ve say, read Revelation or know anything about Shinto animal symbolism, but the writers don’t expect you to. I learned a lot more about the show after I did some research, but I only researched because it was already fascinating.
If there’s a problem with Wolf’s Rain, it’s the infamous recaps. There are four completely useless recap episodes right in the middle of the show together, and I still don’t know why they are there. Still, this isn’t much of a detriment as all four of them can be skipped without missing any new info. And if you’re buying the DVDs, they’re all on one disc by themselves! Unless you’re a masochist, don’t buy the disc.
In the end, though, even if you want to turn your brain off and be a little confused while you watch, the outward beauty and emotional resonance of the series cannot be denied, even in its fairly controversial conclusion. I’ve watched it through several times now and every single time I discover something new and profound. It’s pure magic, it will make you cry, but I hope in the end you’ll be howling-happy.
All in all, I almost pulled this series down a level because of its slightly alienating religious themes and focus on animals instead of humans, but then I thought, how can I punish a show for being both incredibly deep and refreshingly different? It may not be perfect, and I can’t promise you’ll like it, but it is a quality work of art amongst anime and a whole new breed of fantasy.
*THIS IS A PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF MY VIDEO REVIEW WHICH CAN BE FOUND HERE:
Thanks for reading!
Take first, the main character Kiba. He has a goal and he’ll do anything to reach it. But he has two distinct sides to his character. One is his proud, rash, and arrogant self that attacks anything that stands in his way. And the other is a quiet, mysterious, and observing type that is expressed when meeting new friends (For instance, when he was reluctant to say his name to Hige) and whenever he is around Cheza. Though not technically the sorrowful character one would expect him to be in an orphaned and lonely state, he still makes sad connections to his past.
As this was an anime before it became a manga series, BONES (the same company that made Fullmetal Alchemist) had unlimited freedom on where to go with the series. Except for a few “flashback” or “clip” episodes in the middle of the series, there is almost no filler and the pacing of each episode is excellent. The animation is amazing (as expected of BONES) and the music just as well. Beautiful orchestral music is played throughout the series, and, unique to most anime, the opening and ending themes are in perfect English (as are other soundtracks songs during the actual show).
The main story follows an unusual cast of characters, most of which are not even human. Kiba and his crew are all wolves with the power to create the illusion that they are human (though it is not perfect as their shadows and pawprints are still shown through). There are also the typical human characters, like the greedy Dracia that wants Paradise to himself and a pair of lovers that rekindle their relationship through hardship. Plus there’s also the ghost of a cryptic owl that gives advice in proverbs. (Whether or not this is a Legend of Zelda reference is still beyond me)
But there is never a time when an anime can be perfect. There are still plot-holes within Wolf’s Rain. Mainly the ending: It’s open-ended and leaves more to be desired. But as a more thought-provoking series, the ending does its job… Kind of. But besides a few odd turns, Wolf’s Rain is good at creating plot twists. And BONES was so confident about the series that most episodes don’t even end in a cliffhanger. They just find a natural stopping point.
Overall, Wolf’s Rain is an enjoyable series if you love wolves, action, the supernatural, and beautiful music. Though don’t expect it to be happy or provide fan-service.
When I look back at it, I honestly believe that the characters just followed common stereotypes, and really didn’t evolve throughout the plot. The supporting characters were able to garner a little interest from me, but the lead was dull and drab, and the only dialogue I can remember from him is “we have to get to paradise”. A lead character is supposed to get a viewer emotionally attatched, not bore the viewer to tears.
Then there is the plot. Basically it follows a rather dull and drawn out journey to find the wolves “Paradise”, with a few twists and turns along the way. As the characters personalities barely evolve through the course of their journey, the plot becomes tedious, and I found myself not caring at all about the characters and their journey after a few episodes.
Then, there is the final act. To me, the last few episodes feel rushed and poorly thought out, and the story reaches a conclusion where there is no reward for patiently watching the show in its entirety. The show ended on a very vague and sour note, and had kept me in an irritated state for a fair while.
Despite not enjoying the overall plot and the characters, the sound and animation quality of this anime is great. I still find myself listening to pieces of the score to this day to fuel my imagination, which I am very grateful for. I watched the dubbed version, and the voice acting throughout was done well enough. I still despise that opening song, Strays, or whatever it was called, just not my cup of tea.
In conclusion, if more thought was put into the character development and plot, Wolf’s Rain could have potentially been a great anime in my eyes. The shows concept really interested me, and I wanted to like the show, but it sadly didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
4: Kaleido Star
English: Kaleido Star
MAL Score: 7.92
The Kaleido Stage is known throughout the world for captivating audiences with its amazing acrobatics, innovative routines, and extravagant costumes and sets. It is a place for guests to believe in magic, and Sora Naegino wants nothing more than to be a part of that magic—by becoming an acrobat for the famed circus herself.
To realize her dream, she travels from Japan to California to audition for a place in the group. However, Sora learns that she needs much more than her natural talent to bring joy to the faces in the crowd. She quickly discovers just how difficult it is to be a professional performer where the stakes—and the stunts—are higher and mistakes spell danger! To put on performances worthy of the Kaleido Stage, she will need to endure rigorous training, unconventional assignments, fierce competition, and the antics of a mischievous spirit named Fool.
Can Sora reach new heights, make new friends, conquer her fears, and surpass her limits to become a Kaleido Star?
I was proven wrong..
Overall, it was beautiful, bright colours and flowing movements that even appeared graceful, a very colorful setting that didn\’t appear too flashy….it totally captured the brilliance of a circus and the lovely performances that I just had to rewatch again. However it had its flaws, I noticed that several episodes had seemingly worse animation compared to the rest in which the characters looked distorted, thankfully this was hardly significant during the performances which kept their high standard throughout the whole anime.
The opening and ending themes were ok and catchy enough but what i really loved was the background music, some tracks were sometimes quite repetitive but it totally created the magical feel for this anime and enhanced it a lot more (even though you may not realise it). So do turn up the volume whenever you watch any of their performances as \’swan lake\’, \’little mermaid\’ etc. would not be so astoundingly beautiful without the music
Kaleido Star can be divided into 2 parts, 1st being Sora\’s introduction to the circus and striving to be in par with Layla Hamilton. Whereas the second part introduces 2 new character, Leon and May in which might be a turn-off for most viewers due to Sora suffering the most, but of course this is only to build the wonderful finale.
The overall concept may not seem special as it is only about a girl striving to achieve her dream and encountering many hardships. But the idea about a circus and acrobats is very unique, I don\’t think there are many animes out there that have attempted this genre and managed to keep it so interesting and magical. Whats good is the emphasis on friendship, Sora gets through a lot mostly due to the help of the people around her, it is not a one-girl show, all the rest are equally important characters and do shine as well.
Even though this is a shoujo anime, romance is only hinted but barely there, truly not the highlight of the show
As mentioned above, all the characters are great, in fact it is impossible to hate either of them since even the bad ones turn good at the end. Although this seems rather idealistic, it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling at the end
Overall this was a great ride, Satou Junichi\’s other creation, Princess tutu had left me in a bit of a trance when it ended, apparantly this had the same effect. It is hard to describe the truly magical effect this has, you have to watch it to know, and you won\’t regret it
Kaleido Star is the story of our dreams. How they all start from tiny things. Memories from days gone by that we think are insignificant, but at the same time, have really touched us and inspired us to become who we are today. Our dreams are not easy though. There will always be detours and obstacles in our way, and no dream can be reached without putting our own inner selves to the ultimate test, but if we can overcome these obstacles, befriend our enemies, and see the good in everyone’s dreams that they aspire for as well, then your dream can come true.
Despite the formulaic way Kaleido Star goes about fulfilling the dreams of the characters, it works splendidly because of how sincere each and every character is about wanting their special dream to come true, and how the series treats the sincerity of each character with a great deal of respect to the point that the formulaic contrivances such as the cliched “special training” and running away only to come back having “found yourself” feel like genuine happenings.
Likewise, this series as it is couldn’t be anything without its characters. The main focal point of the series is seeing the growth and struggle of all the members of Kaleido Stage from the primadonna to the lowly stagehands, and oh how they grow, and oh how they struggle. I credit this series immensely with how it puts each and every character through their own personal wringer, good guys and “bad guys” alike. It never lets them take the easy way out. Each and every accomplishment any character achieves is 100% earned. There are no gimmes.
And oh the accomplishments! I can’t go into detail because of spoilers but this is where the technical aspects really shine! For as much as people seem to tease GONZO for being GONZO, this is arguably their opus. A setting such as Kaleido Stage requires dazzling animation to fully bring out the Cirque du Soleil atmosphere of the stage, and the animation astounds every time, especially the climaxes of both halves of the series. They are so gorgeous, that don’t be surprised if you forget to breathe for a moment.
The soundtrack is also quite lovely with lots of wonderful performances, especially Ryou Hirohashi as Sora, who brings the same radiance and energy that Sora herself embodies.
With outstandingly gorgeous animation, heartwarming performances, characters that make you believe that everyone in this world, no matter how heartless or cruel they may be, are all good people inside, and a story that invokes you to believe your dreams, no matter how great or small, can all come true. Kaleido Star is one of the best anime I have ever seen. Heartwarming, heartbreaking, and inspiring to all. This is the stuff true dreams are made of.
Overall, I happily give Kaleido Star a 10 out of 10.
The most prominent feature of Kaleido Star is undoubtedly its characterisation, and as such, each character is given a strong dream or ambition that they strive towards over the course of the show, as well as a heavily fleshed-out personality. Almost every character is likeable and easy to become attached to. If you find that you’re a sucker for getting behind your favourite characters and empathising with their hardships, then Kaleido Star is a good bet. By the end of the show, the real emotional impact lies not in the conclusion to the plot, but in the final send-off for a great cast of characters you’ve come to know and love. Relationships are dealt with, but almost always in the form of friendships, rivalries and companionships. Rarely does Kaleido Star tread in the thorny realm of romance, and when it does it’s usually just for a cheap gag. Don’t be deterred though, the friendships that are grown over the course of the series have more weight to them than most romantic relationships in anime. I’m not sure if the characters interactions are massively realistic, but they are believable and earnest enough to work. Really though, the rest of the series is in orbit around Sora Naegino, the heart and star of the series. Fortunately, she is really a great protagonist, particularly in the first season. She is portrayed very much as being a real person, with holes poked into her resolve to achieve her dreams, and struggles that she must overcome, not with superhero talent, but with hard work and perseverance. I must admit to being in admiration of her from time to time. Most importantly, through all the harsh training she endures, you end up really wanting to see her succeed, which really makes the stage performance scenes what they are.
The animation used in the stage show scenes themselves is certainly quite good. Although the level of detail in the cel animation is overall surprisingly low, the stage scenes are carried by a high degree of fluidity in the animation and strong use of artistic direction, such as the use of colour and dramatic camera angles. The music definitely helped to create the sense of tension and beauty required. I do think they could have been done better, and rendered in more lavish detail befitting the scope of the shows, but for a 51-episode tv series it’s production is definitely solid. Unfortunately, off-stage doesn’t allow for the same graceful movement to overcome the simple visual style. The background art lacks personality and detail. The character designs range from completely bland and uninteresting to memorable. Sora and Rosetta, fit into the latter category, while most of the other character designs leave little impression. The music had a very strong presence in the series, and it was definitely good quality, with rousing instrumentals and melancholic strings tugging at the heart when required. However, it was far too repetitive; far more music is required for a series of this length to stop the tracks from overstaying their welcome. The OPs and EDs were relatively good. I watched the first and second OPs every episode, but was appalled by the 3rd.
The plot, looked at in isolation, is very weak indeed, marred by inconsistency and incongruence, especially in the way the plot for season 1 is wholly confused by that of season 2. The way terms like “true Kaleido Star” were thrown about really annoyed me, in much the same way as the over-use of the Angel/Demon analogy in season 2. It all felt so contrived and silly, as though it was an attempt to give the stage some sort of misplaced mythology that ended up just being a distraction from the performances themselves. Furthermore, Leon Oswald’s backstory, and his frequent visions of Sophie grated my patience, because they were a symptom of the overall problem with the second half of the story, which is immature and simplistic plot development. Everything was given parallel and faux meaning with such forceful blatancy that it became a nagging irritation. However, unlike most series, the plot is not the backbone of the show, and with its strong characterisation and emotional themes, it can stand on its feet without the need for a concrete story to support it.
Kaleido Star is no great achievement as an anime series from a technical or cynical perspective. If you watch past the first season, the plot becomes haphazardly thrown together and nauseatingly unsophisticated. However, for its colour, vitality and charm, Kaleido Star proves to be a worthy entertainer/ Perhaps ones could look at the series for advice about why it is so enjoyable – like Sora’s stage play, it is unpretentious fun, and manages to keep itself at an arms length away from derivative clichés. And more than just light-hearted fluff, it has the potential to wet the eyes of all its viewers through Sora’s trials and mesmerising triumphs.
3: 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.
2: Fullmetal Alchemist
English: Fullmetal Alchemist
MAL Score: 8.13
Edward Elric, a young, brilliant alchemist, has lost much in his twelve-year life: when he and his brother Alphonse try to resurrect their dead mother through the forbidden act of human transmutation, Edward loses his brother as well as two of his limbs. With his supreme alchemy skills, Edward binds Alphonse’s soul to a large suit of armor.
A year later, Edward, now promoted to the fullmetal alchemist of the state, embarks on a journey with his younger brother to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone. The fabled mythical object is rumored to be capable of amplifying an alchemist’s abilities by leaps and bounds, thus allowing them to override the fundamental law of alchemy: to gain something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of equal value. Edward hopes to draw into the military’s resources to find the fabled stone and restore his and Alphonse’s bodies to normal. However, the Elric brothers soon discover that there is more to the legendary stone than meets the eye, as they are led to the epicenter of a far darker battle than they could have ever imagined.
Isn’t it strange then, that such a well known human trait can so easily be mistaken for something else entirely?
Or is it simply a case of people not seeing what they don’t want to see, especially if there something new and shiny to watch?
Many anime fans are currently raving about the new series of Full Metal Alchemist, especially as it is an almost direct adaptation of the manga, however in the light of all this new found glory, the original adaptation has become the topic of much debate and controversy, especially by those who once praised the show for being something … a little different.
Now unlike many, the fact that the original adaptation didn’t follow the manga for much of its run was something that I wasn’t overly concerned about, and there’s a very good reason for this too. One of the issues I had with the manga, and in turn Brotherhood, was the fact that the tale is far more “shounen” than the original adaptation, and this difference in not only plot and story content, but overall perspective as well, is noticeable in a number of areas.
As far as pacing, plot, and depth of story goes, Full Metal Alchemist does lose out somewhat to Brotherhood, however this is partly due to the fact that Arakawa Hiromu had far more time to produce a story that worked, whereas the writers for the original adaptation only had part of Arakawa’s work to play with, and had to make up the rest.
Normally this would be the cause for a number of issues, not the least of which is continuity, however Full Metal Alchemist never really suffered from those except where the numerous, and unnecessary, comedy moments were included. That said, what the writers achieved was actually quite remarkable, as they produced a tale that is very clearly about one thing only – obsession – and in that respect, they actually managed to score quite a major coup over Arakawa’s tale.
Some of you may be a tad confused by where this is all going, but fear not, it will become clearer as we get into more detail. Let’s talk more about the actually show itself for a moment though.
In terms of looks, the original adaptation managed to transpose the characters fairly well, and while they didn’t really require any bouts of creativity in general, there were a few new faces as, at the time, the manga hadn’t actually introduced all the players. As for the various locations in which the characters find themselves, the first adaptation generally followed the path laid down by the manga, however there were also some surprisingly original and inventive additions to the various locales, many of which are unique to this particular adaptation.
Strangely enough though, the quality of the animation is almost the same as that of Brotherhood, and given the large degree of crossover in both adaptations, this is actually surprising as usually one version is greatly superior to the other. That said, the new series does have the advantage of seven years of improvements in animation, so one would be forgiven for thinking the margin between the two would be bigger.
Where sound and music are concerned, one might expect more pronounced differences between the two adaptations, however this is not the case. The selection of music for the first adaptation is actually very good throughout the series, and also gave rise to one of the catchiest opening themes in shounen anime – “Ready Steady Go” by L’Arc-en-Ciel. The aural effects are well chosen and choreographed, and while there are many occasions that feature frenetic clashes and lots of noise, care has generally been taken to modulate this to a level that won’t unnerve the viewer (admittedly there are some minor overwhelming moments, but they’re not really worth going into any detail as they don’t really affect the story in any way).
As for the acting, granted there are some different seiyuu between the two adaptations, but the series’ big guns are in force in both. That said, while there is some acting continuity between the two, the actual quality is a little better in Brotherhood, however this may be due to an increased familiarity with the characters, and also because Brotherhood is far more a straight forward shounen tale than the original adaptation- something which actually shows in the acting.
And now to the most interesting bit – the characters.
Unlike both the manga and Brotherhood, the original anime adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist featured some surprising and unique characters, not the least of which is Edward Elric himself.
But before we get into that though, let’s talk Homunculi.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the original series was the nomenclature given to the homunculi, and although their names and purpose have been “clarified” by the manga and Brotherhood, the writers for the original adaptation didn’t have this knowledge, so they actually made them work in a completely different way. The whole deal with the Seven Sins is very different in the first anime, as the writers used the homunculus to highlight the aspect of obsession throughout the series. This is why the first anime adaptation had them being “born” in a particular manner, rather than the more trite reasoning given in the manga and Brotherhood much later.
The homunculi are effectively born from the obsession of humans, a theme which is also present in Arakawa’s version of the story, even though it has been downplayed a lot.
So what does this have to do with the characters? Well, rather a lot actually. Throughout the whole series, there are very few characters who don’t show any of the visible signs that one would normally associate with obsessive behaviour, and this is because they’re cleverly hidden for the most part. From Maes Hughes’ constant babble about his daughter, to Winry’s love of automail. From Izumi Curtis’ longing for her baby, to Dante’s desire for immortality (incidentally, one has to wonder why that particular character was called Dante).
And right at the top of the list is Edward Elric.
In essence, his obsession with being better than his father is what starts the whole chain of events, which then turns to his obsession with the Philosopher’s Stone, and so on. The surprising thing though, is that Ed never actually lets go of his desires in the same manner that others who attempted human transmutation did, and there is actually proof of this too. One look at the manner of Alphonse Elric’s return to his body, as well as the nature of that return, will highlight just how very different this show is to Arakwa’s version, and how different the mentality is come the end.
And if you want more clarification on this, then feel free to ask.
The characters are actually pretty well developed throughout the series, and it’s a testament to the writer’s and seiyuu’s abilities that they turned out as well as they did. That’s not to say there aren’t any problems, however the flaws with the characters stem mainly from a difference in goals and perspective rather than any real lack of talent.
In all honesty, it’s difficult to decide which version is actually better as the differences in plot, theme and character development make this version and Arakawa’s two very different tales. That said, there will be those who fall on one side or the other, some preferring the darker nature of the first adaptation while others like the more direct approach of the manga and Brotherhood. Personally, I found both versions to be very good, especially as the route that Arakawa’s tale takes bears almost no resemblance to this one. While there are some broad similarities between the two in terms of locale, characters and basic plot, in actuality these are only skin deep, as the original adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist deviates quite a lot from the typical shounen sensibilities come the end of the series. The obsessive theme of the first adaptation is a far cry from what one is given in the manga and Brotherhood.
Regardless of which version one prefers though, the simple fact is that we, as anime fans, have been given two great takes on the story, and we should count ourselves lucky to have such a wealth as all too often we must suffer through mediocrity and crap just find some entertainment.
It just a shame that so many people feel the need to side with one version or the other …
Now I’m sure most of you already know the story. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse attempt to bring back their mother and as a consequence for going against the law of equivalent exchange, Ed loses his right arm and left leg. And Alphonse loses his entire body to only have his soul become bonded to a suit of armor. With the help of their childhood friend Winery, she constructs an automail leg and arm for Ed. Soon, they learn about this special artifact known as the Philosophers stone, it has the ability to defy the laws of alchemy and perform the taboo known as human transmutation. Eventually they come to the conclusion that their best bet in hopes of finding the stone would be to join the military. Although, Ed is the only one who joins because he insisted on doing so. And so they embark on their journey. Along the way, the brothers encounter corrupt government officials, homunculi, chimeras and more.
As far as the story goes, it’s fantastic. Especially considering the fact that this anime is a shonen. FMA has a far more intricate and complex plot then shonens like One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto or Bleach. Thematically, it delves into area’s that you wouldn’t expect a show of its kind to do. What’s a life worth? An arm? A leg? An entire body? Can human’s play the role of god ? Should we even be allowed to play the role of god in the first place? Can we disrupt the flow of nature? So yeah, Fullmetal Alchemist is smarter then your average shonen!
Also, the setting of the anime takes place in a fictionalized version of early 20th century Europe during the industrial revolution. The majority of the show takes place in Amestris. A key part of the plot that I almost forgot to mention involves the neighboring nation of Ishval. Long ago, after the tragic incident of when an Amestrian officer shot an Ishvalan child in cold blood, a chaotic war erupted between the two nations. In the midst of the war, state alchemists were brought in to exterminate the Ishvalans through horrific acts of genocide. This is where the revenge driven Ishvalan named Scar comes in.
Speaking of characters, character wise, FMA is just as good. From Roy Mustang, to Riza Hawkeye, to the Elric brothers. All are given considerable amounts of depth. Take for example, the Elric brothers. Ed feels as if he got off easy because he still has his body and is burdened by this. Alphonse is constantly questioning his humanity, existence and whether or not he was a human to begin with ( his memory was erased when Ed bonded his soul to a suit of armor). And I just barely scratched the surface.
When it comes to the production values, yet again, this anime doesn’t disappoint. The animation is very crisp and fluid. It never lets up, character designs are good and remain consistent until the very end. The OST is also worth mentioning here. Michiru Oshima did a very good job. One track that stood out in particular was “Brothers.” Simply put, it was a beautifully done string instrumental over some harmonious Russian vocals. In regards to the opening and ending themes, they’re solid. Opening 4 was my personal favorite. Lastly, the voice acting. I’ll tell you right here and now that it is mandatory that you watch the dub instead of the sub. Why? Because, hands down without a doubt, Fullmetal Alchemist has one of the best dubs you’ll ever here in anime. It’s definitely one of Funimation’s best efforts. All the performances were fantastic from Vic Mignogna, to Aaron Dismuke, to Dameon Clarke, to Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of flaws here and there that prevent Fullmetal Alchemist from achieving perfection. Most notably the first 15 episode, these episodes were unevenly paced and it really didn’t get interesting until Scar showed up. Episodes 4, 5, 10-12 were completely unnecessary and felt very fillerish (I’m not sure but I think they were actually fillers, but don’t quote me on that).
Now of course, I can’t write a review without addressing the ending because it’s one of the reasons why anime fans have such a polarized reaction for this show. I personally liked the ending, it was very bitter sweet. It wasn’t like every other ending for a shonen where everything works out in the end and all the characters hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Plus there are no beach episodes (Jesus Christ, I f**kin hate those g**damn beach episodes in anime). Well, time to wrap this review up, all in all, FMA is an amazing anime. I highly recommend it to anime fans and non-anime fans alike.
I’m typing this review, and i wonder to myself, “Why am i doing this? What can i say about a show that’s been talked about to death?”, and you know what, i don’t exactly have a clear answer. Fullmetal Alchemist premiered a decade ago and is still to this day, one of the most beloved and well known anime of our recent generation. It’s so well known that talking about it almost seems redundant as about 90% of anime fans have already seen it, and if they haven’t seen it then they at least have heard of it, know the premise, and might even know some of the more shocking twists in it. But over the past few years, more and more people have begun to disregard it all thanks to a little thing called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, to the point where i’ve heard Brotherhood fans say to people on several occasions that they shouldn’t watch the original series and just go watch Brotherhood, which i answer to with a big, “Huh?”. But this isn’t about Brotherhood, i’ll cover that elephant in the room if i ever choose to do a review of it. No this is about the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, and why if you haven’t already seen it, then you should check out as soon as possible.
As i said it’s almost pointless to sum up the plot that everybody already knows but, formulaic procedure wins. The story is about the two Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who try to use a blend of science and magic called alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead. Things go terribly wrong however, and in the process Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body, being forced to fuse his soul with a body of armor to survive. They soon join the country’s militia, the state alchemist division to be precise, in order to search for a item of great power called the philosopher’s stone, in order to revive their bodies back to their original forms. The idea of two brothers setting off on a journey is already a concept that could fill an entire show, but then there’s also the story of the them joining the military and how their more childish outlook and views clash with the military’s actions, which is also enough to fill an entire show. But then there’s also the military itself and it’s mission to reform the country, and also the soldiers that wish to change the military to better the country, and then there’s the evil forces that the Elric brothers encounter with their own mission and backstory, and so on and so forth. Fullmetal Alchemist has enough plot lines to fill up 10 different anime, which could easily just make for a cluttered mess of ruined potential, but the story in Fullmetal Alchemist is a well written, perfectly paced, and air tight. But even so this seems like a lot for just a battle shounen, but you can’t really call it just a battle shounen as it seems like the show has just about every genre you can think of all in one. There’s action, adventure, comedy, drama, supernatural, super power, military, romance, mystery, thriller, horror, shock jock, fantasy, and sci fi, all in one. Once again, having so much in one show could easily be the death of it, but all of these genres are performed well and at just the right moments, even having them clash at times just to prove a point. And if that wasn’t enough, this show completes every plot point and every character saga, and still has room for filler. To some the concept of adding filler is a bad thing, but in this case i find being able to have filler more of a compliment than anything. If you haven’t gotten what’s good about the story of FMA from this, let me sum it up for you. Fullmetal Alchemist is an emotional, action packed, well written saga and above all, is fucking big, displaying a vast world of different cultures, inventions and religions that just sucks you in from the very beginning.
Fullmetal Alchemist was made by studio BONES and is probably the show most responsible for the seemingly endless pockets of money that the studio had for many years. But this was an early work, so it’s not exactly perfect. The show didn’t have all that much of a budget to work with, and there were times when it showed, inconsistent character designs, jagged edges, and one or two episodes in particular that looked fairly cheap. But the show is still overall a good looking show. What impressed me most was probably the shading in it and how perfectly it was used to represent different emotions and foreshadowing. The character facial designs also helped this, done well enough at times that two characters could just share a scene together, with zero dialogue, and in just one stare, convey all the emotions they need to get across. Of course this is a battle series, and you can tell that this is where a good chunk of the budget was spent, with fluid animation and splendid choreographing that kept your eyes firmly glued to the screen. Fullmetal Alchemist is a good looking show with some dents here and there, but the moments of brilliance shine right though.
The soundtrack is comprised completely of orchestral pieces, all of which compliment their scenes quite well. It’s in the background, always noticeable but never overpowering, a perfect accompaniment to the show. But, to tell the truth, nothing on the OST really sticks out on it’s own and it’s not really a soundtrack that you listen to on it’s own. A good soundtrack nonetheless but nothing spectacular. If i was only judging the sound based off the soundtrack then i’d probably only give it a 7 or 8 out of 10, but there’s one more important thing to talk about. The dub. This was an early Funimation show, but i’m guessing that they knew ahead of time how big the show would be, because they really brought their A game for it. Talking about Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric is almost as redundant as telling people about the plot to FMA, he’s great as the role, and it’s the number one reason why he has so many fangirls. Plus this was also the show that launched Travis Willingham’s career for his performance as Roy Mustang, which is well deserved. And i’d be remiss to not mention Christopher Sabbat’s performance as Major Alex Louise Armstrong who just does the role complete justice as though IT WAS A PERFORMANCE HANDED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS. There are plenty of other big names like Johnny Yong Bosch and Luci Christanson playing ver small roles which are always nice to hear. But the thing that really impressed me about the dub is that they had actual kids playing the kids including a 12 year old Aaron Dismuke doing a bang up job in his first performance as Alphonse Elric. It’s definitely a show worth checking out dubbed.
A story as big as Fullmetal Alchemist need a big cast, and not only is this cast supplied, but their also just as well written as the story itself. First off we have out two main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric. Edward is the prodigy of the two, the genius who often makes the decisions of what the two of them will do, which can proof to be disastrous at times, considering that with great intelligence and curiosity comes an overwhelming temptation to the dark side. He’s the one who decided to resurrect their mother, he’s the one who decides to join the military, and he’s the one who constantly has to struggle with doing the right thing and doing the things that most benefit them. But he’s still just a kid, and with so comes a certain naiveté towards things. He’s quick to learn from his mistakes and often feels guilt for what his actions have causes, and is driven with a strong determination to set things right, making him the ideal protagonist. Alphonse on the other hand is the philosopher, usually being the moral compass of the two and keeping his older brother grounded to the right side. Between the two brothers, he loses the most, but instead of being angry and bitter about it, is often friendly and optimistic and hates to see people suffer for his sake, giving him great guilt as well for what his brother has to go through for his sake. These are of course, only the two main characters, and Fullmetal Alchemist has nearly 40 supporting and recurring character, meaning characters that show up for more than two episodes and have a role in the overall plot. And you know what, each and every one of them is left unresolved. Like the story, the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are memorable, well written, and big. But the most important thing that these characters do in the series, is acknowledge and represent the importance of family bonds, from the relationship between the Elric brothers, to the relationship between the military soldiers, and event he weird relationship between the Homunculi of the series that form their own little family in a way. From the arrogant but gentle hearted Colonel Roy Mustang, to the incredibly manly glittering Major Alex Louise Armstrong, to the Homunculi that oppose the Elric brothers, all of the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are fleshed out and memorable.
Enjoyment and Overall (10/10)
In case you haven’t been able to tell, i love Fullmetal Alchemist, very few series have made me love them this much. I’m not really sure what i can say about this series that i haven’t already said. It’s an epic tale of love, determination, and passion that every one should check out. We never needed a movie, the series ended fine on it’s own, and just because Brotherhood now exists, doesn’t mean we should disregard this series, personal tastes aside. Fullmetal Alchemist is a series that is completely on par with the original manga and proof that a series doesn’t need fidelity to succeed. I’ll leave off with this quote, which is technically from Brotherhood but screw it, it works.
“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although, if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you will find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yes…a heart that’s Fullmetal.”
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. Fullmetal Alchemist
2. Princess Tutu
3. Juuni Kokuki
4. Kaleido Star
5. Wolf’s Rain
6. Mujin Wakusei Survive
7. Puchi Pri*Yucie
8. Scrapped Princess
10. Digimon Frontier