They’re the best Anime that 2005 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!, Legendz: Yomigaeru Ryuuou Densetsu, Mai-HiME, and more!
10: Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!
English: Mirmo Zibang!
Japanese: わがまま☆フェアリー ミルモでポン!
MAL Score: 7.29
Kaede is a cheerful and energetic eighth grader. When it comes to boys, however, she is hopelessly shy.
One day, on her way home from school, Kaede walks into a mysterious shop and buys a colorful cocoa mug. When she reaches home, she casually peeks into the bottom of the mug and discovers an engraved note, which says, “If you read this message aloud while pouring hot cocoa into the mug, a love fairy (“muglox”) will appear and grant your every wish.” The skeptical but curious Kaede follows the directions and announces her wish to date Yuuki, the class heartthrob. Suddenly, the adorable blue Mirumo appears! We soon find out, however, that this cute little muglox would rather eat chocolate and create mischief than help Kaede.
Mirumo, it seems, is prince of the muglox world. Horrified at the prospect of having to marry Rirumu, his princess bride-to-be, Mirumo has escaped the muglox world. Hot on his heels, however, are Rirumu, Yashichi the bounty hunter, and a cast of hundreds of muglox ranging from the good to the bad to the nutty. This gang of adorable troublemakers will see to it that school life for Kaede and her friends is never the same…
Wagamama Fairy Mirumo De Pon is one of my most favorite Animes, of all time!! When I was younger, I would quickly change the channel into where Mirumo De Pon is airing. If I don’t watch a single episode in one day, I’d cry (Lol i’m too dramatic, huh?)
Anyway, this anime made me enjoy my childhood days. It’s the first reason why I would finish my homework before the episode starts.
Although I hated some of the characters (like AZUMI & HARUKA..) but I enjoyed it very well. I first wanted to have my own muglox. LOL.
Overall, I enjoyed it. I hope to see more anime like this!
A few days ago, I decided to watch around 12 episodes again. A few episodes from each season. They were still as fresh as ever, although I found it hard to find the still-working links. The story was mainly about the antics of our gang, along with their cute coffee-cup fairies that changed their lives forever.
After a few comparisons of anime from a few years ago, I noticed that it was pretty solid for its time. The “Moe Revolution” was still climbing, so it was a little ahead of its time, so to speak. Although I don’t think it would appeal very much nowadays.
The sound was also pretty nostalgic. I remember the feeling of dancing to the theme song of Mirumo, and also joining the dance along when he transformed. I could tell from it’s own OP and ED that it was meant for kids, so I don’t think it would appeal to teenagers, unless your like me, who had grown up with Mirumo. But just as the art, it would probably not appeal as much anymore, as it did back then.
*sigh*… I can’t really seem to put off my own personal experience with Mirumo as I write this, so I don’t think it would help that much. But anyway, the verdict. I wouldn’t really recommend this now, since there are a bunch of other anime that would be a better watch, but if your just looking for a cute little piece of history to pass the time, then go ahead.
9: Legendz: Yomigaeru Ryuuou Densetsu
English: Legendz: Tale of the Dragon Kings
Japanese: レジェンズ 甦る竜王伝説
MAL Score: 7.31
When a crafty toy company “Wiz” also known in this show as Dark Wiz Company, finds crystals with the faint DNA of monsters known as “Legendz” are found and made into a battle game.
A young boy named Shu receives one these crystals known as “soul figures” from his father after a baseball game. Legendz rapidly became popular and more and more children played it. Wiz employeys start to track down Shu for his special soul figure, for his soul figure can revive real legendz not just the little kiddy digital images! How will Shu fight his way to victory and claim this soul figure as his own?
I’ve heard others put this show down for that same reason, but trust me. The childish look of the box art and some of the art is misleading, though the artstyle is a little weird at first glance, after watching and completing this anime there were many beautiful scenes and characters. An incredibly wonderful story starts to take place as you watch and get further into the show.
One would first suspect this is just a silly show about kids and their dragons born from toys, but after watching more and more you begin to realize the in-depth serious and dark story that is foretold as episodes go on. Once you think the show starts getting to silly, next thing ya know something big happens and more of the mystery’s are revealed. Or maybe you think its getting to serious at one point? Well just around the corner they’ll let some fun comedy loose or back-story about your favorite character.
Even characters that seem meager and unimportant have a role to play in this pleasant anime. Maybe you even think, “boy that persons cruel”, and then before you know it you begin adoring that character more and more as things are revealed throughout the story. I can assure you everything has a place in this anime, from the silly comedy, wonderful story, the fun characters and all of the different kinds of Legendz you get to know through Legendz: Tale of the Dragon Kings.
All ‘n all I hope more people can give this anime a chance as it is quite underrated.
Its got everything one could enjoy for a show about 4 close friends and their adventures with their Legendz.
I found the first half series being lighthearted with its hilarious gags also a lot of character moments in it. Let’s see, the story is about Legendz, mythical creatures that people believe that they were real and really existed long time ago. Just like in real life, the legendz are mythologies. Only, in this, on the setting of time, the legendz are being reborn for some reason. The reborn of these legendz were first represented with the creation of Talispod, one of kids’ toy developed by dark WiZ company in order to make children happy. It was later called Legendz battle by the kids, showing virtual legendz appearing from talispod and you began to do like sword fight with your friend. The problem was shown later that some of legendz appeared in human world for REAL. Here comes some of questions like: “Why legendz appeared for real? What’s the reason of it? What’s Legendz War and how come it happened?”
Yeah, the first half of the series didn’t explain too much about the problem, but there’re indeed some clue where it’s going to be very serious some time later. We got a team rocket-wannabe who were commanded to steal Shu’s talispod, because he had a real and special legendz with him, Shiron the Windragon, and maybe have a connection with the later story, yeah he did indeed. They are doing quite similarly like what pokemon’s team rocket do every episode, only in this, they’re not too annoying. Things became more complicated when there’s something revealed about the existence about 2nd Windragon, which was clearly awkward. Also following the reborn of legendary earth, water, and fire elemental legendz.
Things got more complicated when there’s explained about legendz war, where it happened when the nature of the earth has been diminished, being desolate because humans’ doing against the nature of earth, their darkness in their heart and their negative emotions and legendz began to fight the personification of the aforementioned darkness, resulting destruction to human world and being reset. Now that’s going to be happened again on Shu’s era where humanity have been grown more complex with technologies and so on, also it’s told that the technologies that human created had harmed the nature of earth badly. Later it was told why Shu and his friend were chosen to be saga and why they must face these things completely. Humans later have expected legendz to be dangerous creatures, threatening, resulting them expressed negative emotions that has brought back the deep darkness of the world and being reborn to destroy the existence of life on earth. How they will stop the disaster and how they can overcome the real darkness of the world, it depends on what they do in order to survive.
The stories were thought provoking enough for kids show, showing how deconstructed they are, also darker and edgier than most of kids show. From the existence of human being with its technologies that apparently bring destruction to the mother earth to the negative emotions of human that had brought back the true darkness of the world. It’s simply intriguing and you need to think a bit to make it reasonable.
The main character here, Shuzo Matsutani is kind of typical shounen who is silly, and kind of annoying but hilarious. But, well, it was a bit different of our typical shounen characterization, after all. Even though so, he had a lot of awesome and sad moments too, and interestingly he saved everyone from the worst situation with his silliness, that’s just an unusual moment seriously.
His family problem wasn’t that serious, his father and mother are simply just wanting their children happy at all cost, none that all. After the first half episode, there’s an episode when Shu for the first time really felt despair. He didn’t want to make his parents worry about him and he didn’t want his parents especially his mother to be involved with legendz war. He got quite serious development in these moments.
Second main character is Dino Sparks, who is introduced on around first 5 episodes. I found his character being special, what I mean is he’s a rich person but he isn’t happy at all because his activities had to be scheduled so even he can’t play outside like what most kids do on their age, also he had serious family problem, where his mother left home because of his dad’s doing and mistakes. It simply made Dino hates his father because of that. Later it was shown on 1 full episode about Dino’s father, Bruno Sparks character moments and his past. When he remembered the fondest moment with his wife, and his dream to make toys to make kids happy. We really get his character development after it, made him brave to talk to Dino and said “I’m sorry, Dino. I wasn’t a good father for you. I realized that I’ve made mistakes that have made you sad all this time. I won’t ever let it again to you my beloved child.” Damn, that’s really touching seriously. Also eventually in the second half episode, Dino’s mom had back for long time but had her appearance changed from slim to big fat. Even though so, Dino didn’t lose his love to his mother, also Bruno, her husband until last episodes. “Despite what you look like, you’re my wife and I will always love you.” That’s what I got from Bruno Sparks, what a beautiful and touching moment.
Next is Mike McField. I really like the characterization of him. He’s a nice guy who want to be nice to everyone, evoking them when they’re in problem, and he love natures very much also he’s addicted to hamburger. He’s the first person that able to talk to Dino, the lonely rich guy and even can become friend with also sharing his favorite hamburger with him. He’s the type of sympathetic person who can understand someone’s feeling and also nature’s feeling. That’s why he’s being chosen as Tsuchi no Saga (Earth Saga) because his deep love with nature. He got some serious problem with his feeling when he’s transformed into a griffin and going berserk hurting each other. He felt despair after it happened, thinking that his friend would never forgive him of what he had do with them. He got quite good development after episodes, though, only not as strong as Dino. Also he had less moments with his family.
Next is Meg Sprinkle. She looked like an annoying girl at first, yeah. She made some of funny gags with her Meg Chop for many times, I really enjoy it. She seemed to be the least focused character, but not until her changed mind about her impression to legendz, especially when she finally met her partner legendz, Zuou. She didn’t accept him at first, because she thought legendz were cruel, and had made her sad. But it went through time and eventually she can overcome those feelings. Still, she didn’t have much time about her moments with her family.
Next is Halca Hepburn. She’s the one that I can said, got the most character development than all and having deep characterization out of the other characters. She’s the one who loves legendz very much, hoping legendz becoming real and apparently her dreams come true. At first she was so crazy about legendz, like a nerd. But thing got changed in her mind, her impression of legendz after seeing them becoming threatening to humanity especially for the kids, though she was misunderstood. We got to see her change from crazy to legendz, joining Ranshiin to destroy the existence of legendz in the world. Things got changed again when she finally met her dad, who was also loving legendz when he’s still younger. There’s also thing that explaining their past about reading books about legendz, explaining it like a dad telling a fairy tale. What become worse after that is her dad was the one behind these problems. From a legendz lover become the one that willing to destroy the existence of legendz forever. He has a reasonable motives, though, only it’s kind of silly. This made Halca feel in despair anymore, thinking what she must do to save her beloved ppl. But after that, she became developed and she was the one that had stopped the disaster, along with Shiron and Ranshiin.
Last but not least, for the minor characters. This is where I found that Legendz CARE SO MUCH of its minor characters, even there’s an exclusive episode which told us about the story of some of minor characters after it disappeared from the episodes. Even the team rocket-wannabee, they got so much development and the thought of “they’re cruel people just like team rocket in pokemon” in our minds doesn’t prevail anymore. They also had understandable motives why they did those mission to steal Shu’s talispod, and eventually resigned from dark WiZ company and began to help Bruno Sparks to make children happy with their toys. I can conclude that they just want “kids to be happy.” Even the parents here had their role of how they rescue their children, what they’ll do to protect their beloved children. All people cooperate with each other to stop the disaster, even the main human villain himself. This was really intriguing in character section.
I liked the song Kaze no Legendz, it’s just wonderful. Also Mou Donimo Tomaranai was also unique ending. Most of their soundtrack were classic jazz, which really give us the american things in it. The last ending song was very sad, and it really match with the moment on last episode..
Despite being a 2004 anime, the art was reasonable, though. But the problem is, the design of characters were MISLEADING. People will seem it more likely a family comedy with many gags on it. I knew they’re trying to make people surprised, I really appreciate their motives of making this anime.
There’s simply no one like Legendz out there, although I found the overall of the series being similar to Digimon Tamers, especially its plot, both are REALLY awesome. What I really enjoy especially in this series is that, even though on a very serious situation, they can make you laugh. What a mixed feelings, from the silly-but-fun comedy to breaking the 4th wall. Everytime when something’s getting serious, they did put the gag on the right time, so while you’re enjoying the gags, you didn’t lose the feeling of enjoying its seriousness. I remember in some dialogue “We have to blahblahblah…” “Huh?? but it wasn’t written in the script..” It made me really LOL, seriously, without losing the seriousness.
Despite its seriousness and hilarious things, this series actually had given me some life morals. We, human often don’t know about what we did to the earth of our creation of many stuffs, even we often don’t care about nature. This series actually want to tell us that “Things that destroy the humanity are the human itself.” It was true after all, seeing what we had done to the mother earth in real life and how sad the earth was feeling when it’s being hurt.
I was very sad that this kind of wonderful anime is quite underrated and even on quite low score, 7.4. People should give it a try for sure, don’t just judge the cover from the art style and also its earlier episodes. You’ll find it wonderful if you understand more of this series, seriously.
I hope this review helps, thanks..
And now i rewatch this, really nostalgic :’)
so.. the story is about legendz, legendz are creatures that locked in Soul Doll, to call the legendz need a device named talispod, put the soul doll to talispod and say “REBORN!” talispod initially created as toy for a kids
the art are not really good, but sure its fair for 2004 anime
for the sound, i really really like the opening, at the beginning of opening, shiron flying with the airplane sfx, really coooollllll xD
there are 4 main character and they are choosen become a saga,
shuu saga of wind, he really love baseball, but really bad on it xD
dino saga of fire, a rich boy, but he wasn’t arrogant
mac saga of earth, mac is very kind person who really like hamburger
meg saga of water, masterpiece from this anime “MEG CHOP” xD
MAL Score: 7.44
Thirteen girls, each with the ability to materialize “Elements” and summon metallic guardians called “Childs” have been brought to Fuuka Academy to battle mysterious creatures called Orphans. Each with a different personality and background, they must decide who they truly care about and why they fight.
I watched Mai HiME long before joining MAL so I didn’t know what to say when I first saw the overall rating to be so low. Thus I decided to re-watch the show this past week to refresh my memory and to prepare for this review. If there is one thing my opinion changed about this anime since my first time watching it a few years back, it is the quality of the animation which we will get to in a moment. One short recommendation before we begin the review, get lots of tissue paper when you watch the latter half of the anime, you’ll need it.
Extremely outstanding. Although the first half was somewhat slow to begin with, but the second half just throw you out the window. But without the character introductions and developments in the first half, the viewers reaction will not be as strong in the latter half. In essence, the entire show (episode per episode) was planned so that it can bring out all the emotional effects as it approach the end. That is not to say the anime is boring until the end though. In fact, most of the humorous moments reside in the earlier episodes mixing with some light fan service.
The animation quality is one of the very few things this series could have worked on. As a product made in 2004, the animation level is definitely not the best that Sunrise could have produced.
Absolutely stunning. Mai HiME is one of those rare anime series where the OP and ED are overwhelmed by occasional theme music in between episodes. The soundtracks are so well coordinated that one can truly say the music can play with your emotion.
Due to the large number of casts in the series (there are 13 HiMEs alone, not to mention their “precious” other half), it can get messy the first time watching it. However, once you get past the confusion of knowing the characters, you’ll see how well each of the characters are made. The strong links between each of the HiME, whether it is friendship, hate, or romance, all proved to be an important part of the story.
Enjoyment + Overall:
A must watch. I can’t stress it enough. MUST WATCH! I don’t care if you are a guy, a girl, a homo, an animal, or whatever you may be, I strongly recommend it (don’t forget the tissue for the 2nd half). I hope you get my point on how much I’ve enjoyed this show. As for Mai-HiME’s successor, Mai-Otome, I would recommend it just as much as Mai-HiME. Another definite must see!
At first, it seemed to me that I was getting dragged into another magical-girl-super-happy-fun-time-shoujo-drama bit. But after about episode 3, I realized that there was something…else, a mechanic that seemed to me as cryptically subliminal. I thought, “angst, perhaps?” I indeed did see a touch of dark story that plagued many backgrounds of the main characters in the show. That is what had peeked my interest in the beginning: to continue examining just what made these HiME girls tick.
The company did a very good job of expressing different personalities in all of the characters. Each persona had their own individualism without becoming redundant or too obnoxious. Each girls’ CHILD specifically expressed the more deep, introspective psyche to each of the characters’ personalities (Natsuki’s cool, level-headed demeanor expressed by the ice wolf Duran; Nao’s manipulative, sexual charm demonstrated by the slick and dangerously beautiful Juliet; Mai’s tragic, yet passionate willpower and strength shown by the power of Kagutsuchi, etc…)
When the characters collide in conflict, there is no awkward dialogue (save for some traditional mou and fanservice-y scenes), and it made me feel as though I had some deep, underlying connection to these characters, caring about their own feelings as if we were good buddies. The story that drives the entire plot, basically: “You will destroy all the lives of those around you so only you may prosper, and you will watch the loved ones of those you have defeated die.” Once I took in all of the both large and minuscule details of the plot, I had sunk down so deep into the depths of this anime that I had become enthralled by it.
The dramatic music promotes a heartbroken beauty when watching the incredible art of this show come to life. The use of shadows, flamboyancy of bright and deep color, and the intensity of shading and lining makes this series not so sore on the eyes. Although, like most shows, there are the common examples of “forgetting” to draw in the facial expression or what have you in characters “behind the main scenes”.
I hope that others can come to appreciate this marvel of a series that I have come to love. Either that, or I’m just crazy. Nevertheless, I hope other anime lovers out there will come to see this show the way I see it: Beautiful, dramatic, and addicting.
Characters include the 13 HiME’s, each with a distinct personality and Child – a sort of mecha guardian. Each HiME also has one special person, very important in her life. That makes a main cast of 39 (or 26 if you don’t include Childs). From here, there’s several more main characters related to the plot as well as quite a few sub-characters. Sounds confusing, right? Sunrise does an amazing job of maintaining this large cast – main character names will always remain with you (or at the very least, their faces will be memorable) while the few interesting and comedic sub-characters also prove to be very memorable as well *cough*Chie&Aoi*cough* Main characters have backdrops to their personalities, reflecting their actions and continue to develop through the story.
Animation and Sound are top notch as expected from Sunrise and Kajiura Yuki. The soundtrack’s most prominent pieces feature language-less vocals mixed with various background music (pseudo techno, strings) which will easily stir the emotion tied to the scene. I truly, have never heard any other anime’s soundtrack that can even match the raw power of HiME’s. Although the art style is simplistic for characters, you can really tell the difference between Mai HiME and a lower budget anime. Specifically, the battle scenes prove to out match Gundam war zones.
The most important part – the story. Mai HiME features two very different arcs, the first lasting about 16 episodes and setting the stage for the second. The first is a simple “defeat the bad guys while dealing with school, love and drama,” however, the second changes the story completely. When I saw the change, I nearly choked on my drink. I won’t spoil it, but it’s quite the heart breaker. Both however expand on characters and situations to give a very powerful feeling to watch more – While Mai HiME was still coming out week by week, I literally watched each episode 3-5 times ^^;;
Another great part of the story is how each episode inter-connects with another. Something small may happen in say, episode 5 but in episode 8, that something small creates a greater impact that you’d imagine at first. >.> Sorry about the poor explanation XD. To be able to make the viewer put all the pieces together shows an incredibly high level of planning.
Mai-HiME is amazing at what it does. Drama, action, comedy, romance – if you’re looking for any of these, watching Mai-HiME will not disappoint. Don’t be fooled by the overly comedic appearance though – by episode 8, 15 and 16, you’ll be dying to watch more as you sit through some of the heart wrenching situations the people you’ve seen up till now have to live through.
7: Shakugan no Shana
English: Shakugan no Shana: Season I
MAL Score: 7.49
The world has become a slaughtering ground for the Crimson Denizens, mysterious beings from a parallel universe who thrive on the life energy of humans. These merciless murderers only leave behind scant remainders of souls called “Torches,” which are mere residues that will eventually be destroyed, along with the very fact of the victims’ existence from the minds of the living. In an ambitious endeavor to put an end to this invisible, hungry massacre, warriors called Flame Hazes relentlessly fight these monsters.
One fateful day, Yuuji Sakai ceases to be a regular high schooler—he becomes trapped in a crevice of time and is suddenly attacked by a Denizen. Coming to his rescue just in the nick of time is a nameless hunter who seems no different from an ordinary young girl except for her blazing eyes and burning crimson hair. However, before Yuuji can learn anything more about his situation, he discovers that he has already been reduced to a Torch—merely a scrap of memory waiting to be extinguished.
If you were told the above, what would your reaction be? Sakai Yuji, the male protagonist of Shakugan no Shana, was thrown precisely into this chaotic situation one day while walking home from school. At the same time, viewers were introduced to the main theme of the anime. What if no one will ever remember your existence in this world. Being dead is one thing, but if everything about you will be erased from this world when you die (that includes people’s memory of you), the thought alone could be terrifying to many.
While at first glance Shakugan no Shana may seem like just another anime with the protagonist being thrown into a world he never thought existed. It really make itself standout from the rest if for no other reason than the spectacular introduction to the theme of the story. The story develop itself rather slowly midway through the series as the viewers were taken back in time for some background learning that lead us to understand certain characters better (more on that in the character section). Overall there was no rush to the story as events unfold themselves in a very elegant and comprehensive manner.
It should, however, be noted that since this is just an introductory season to the Shana saga (there is a season 2 to Shakugan no Shana and there will most likely be more in the future), not a lot of questions were answered … but many were raised and leave people in confusion at the end.
Though it can’t be considered a masterpiece in animation, it is in fact still pretty top notch, especially the battle effects (flames for example, were animated in great detail and looked very awesome). If there’s anything to complain about, it would be the over-sized eyes on most characters. But once that’s accepted, everything else about the animation should not hurt your eyes.
While the OP were very catchy, I didn’t quite like the ED much (personal taste). Sound tracks were great as they match well with the intended scenes, some can even help drive your emotion a bit. In addition, the seiyu are quite famous:
Shana voiced by Rie Kugimiya whose famous for her role in Full Metal Alchemist as Alphonse Elric, Nena Trinity in Gundam 00, and Louise Françoise in Zero no Tsukaima. Kazumi Yoshida voiced by Ayako Kawasumi who voiced in Fate/stay night as Saber, Kanokon as Chizuru Minamoto, and Otoha Sakurano in Sky Girls.
Shakugan no Shana also stars Hitomi Nabatame, Shizuka Itou, Mamiko Noto, and many many more talented voice actors/actresses.
Characters are what make this anime shine like a star. Due to the “non-rushing” nature of the show, each character (even the supporting casts) present their own background history and overtime we get to know their personality more and their “behind thoughts”. This result in a very real and believable group of fantastically designed characters (both in terms of the “realism” and the “looks”). Definitely not something you see often in anime these days. The drawback is that some viewers may find it boring or made the stalled the story development.
While not quite a masterpiece level anime, Shakugan no Shana is still a show that is very successful in every single aspect. Personally, this show started out quite a bit like Busou Renkin and Bleach (while others say it is similar to Fate/stay night), but it ultimately delivered a much stronger impression on me than the ones mentioned.
Before I start, let me say that this anime is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people love it, some hate it and some are in between. As for me, I love it to bits so if my review seems a bit biased, I apologise right off the bat.
First off, the storyline, I’m sure there are a few anime out there featuring parallel worlds or dimensions but I really enjoyed the way it’s portrayed in this anime. The main reason for this being that, with such a grim and mature-ish beginning to the anime that gave it such a depth to storyline, the anime does also get lighter by mixing it with some other elements as well and I enjoy these lighter moments as much as the more intense parts of the anime. And mind you, this anime does seem to make the world around the main protagonist, Yuji, to seem hopeless at the start but it grows to become more light-hearted while still maintaining its original premise.
The artwork is rather good in my honest opinion. The characters are reasonably well drawn, although they are of the large-eyed variety as seen in many anime, they are still pretty decent to look at. In my opinion, the artwork shines the most during the fight scenes. The fight scenes never seem to leave you disoriented since it is laid out in such a way that makes it simple and yet, an enjoyment to watch.
For the sound of the anime, I have found nothing I am particularly unhappy about when it comes to the overall sound of the anime. Basically, everything sounds alright, with no flaws or anything that I have found. The voice acting was also pretty decent, and I know some people would beg to differ right here but I liked the way that Rie Kugimiya voiced Shana to be very child-like to mirror Shana’s original age and her true child-like self. I did also really enjoy the opening and ending themes of the series. The animations during these are pretty decent as well.
Now for my favourite part, the characters. The characters really do grow on you in this anime. They also really do have some growth, even the less important ones do have some development to a certain degree. The most of development however must happen to the main characters and this series does not disappoint. First off, the main male protagonist, Yuji Sakai, there is a good deal of development especially at the early stages of the series when he is thrust headlong into a reality that seems so hopeless for him, and yet, he grows to understand and accept his situation. Second, there’s Shana, the main female protagonist. Being a tsundere(wiki it if you’re wondering what this means) character, she does have a lot of development as a character in the story throughout the series as she grows less cold toward Yuji, as she originally viewed him as little more than an object, and instead begins to grow more fond of him and these feelings really confuse her as she still has to maintain her duty as a Flame Haze.
Now for the enjoyment factor, I really did enjoy it. Especially in the later parts of the anime, the plot and the characters did leave me feeling more and more attached to the anime. Most of all, I enjoyed watching the development of Yuji and Shana’s relationship together since it’s not your typical boy likes girl, girl likes boy drama, it’s a lot more complicated than it appears.
Overall, this is a great anime to watch with characters that begin to grow on you after a while. I definitely would recommend watching it. And it’s also a must watch for any tsundere fan out there as well.
The initial introduction of the story really got my hopes up; basically about a normal boy who gets pulled into a bizarre battle only to find after words he no longer really exists, and that his entire being will slowly fade away and be forgotten by all of his loved ones. While discovering mysterious powers of his own he is emersed into into the world of magic and battles along with the cute but stubborn Red haired girl Shana who fights off those that threaten humanity.
Despite having an interesting few episodes the plot it stale. It moves very slowly and is predictable for the most part. The anime could have easily been done in half the episodes they took. The battles slowly become tedious along with the story. Also the cheesy romance that develops made it almost unbearable to watch after a certain point. If I were to describe the enjoyment of the story line most of the middle episodes drop down to a 4-5 nearly killing the series…
It was… acceptable. As far as most main stream shows go the art was OK… but it was overall mediocre. It also feels very deceiving that the advertisements and Opening theme for the series has such beautiful animation because its really not that great overall. Some of the battle scenes were well done though.
Character animation wise the most attention is given to Shana; and they do a very good job with her. The rest of the characters on the other hand are uncreative and boring. The main character specifically lacks any real attracting traits that would set him apart from a side character…
Opening and ending songs are pretty good, I especially enjoyed the first ending theme Yowake Umare Kuru Shoujo. The music in show overall was acceptable, but nothing really stands out about it.
The two main characters… try imagining Saber and Shirou from fate/stay night as middle schoolers and that should give you an idea; Although Shana is much more vocally stubborn that Saber ever was.
Shana is the predictable Tsundere character~ The stubborn easily ticked, but deep down shy emotional girl. Her character development is interesting since she doesn’t really understand basic human interaction very well…
Yuji also is the predictable week but good hearted normal kid, who grows up to be more dependable courageous guy.
Perhaps what killed the character development was when they attempted to throw in romance… its just didn’t work for this plot because of their age… and it split what the story really should have focused on.
There are actually alot of other characters in the story… but their development is mediocre or nonexistent…
I don’t really have much else to say about this series other than It was actually painful to put myself through the torture of watching this entire series; and I think anime fans that are looking for something deep, a moving story line, and/or epic battles will be very disappointed unless they have very low standards.
The reason its gets overall higher scores is because it was made for a large viewing audience~ incorporating humor, action, Romance, magical/fantasy and slice of life. They say the Jack of all trades is master of none, and this anime proves this point.
6: Tsubasa Chronicle
English: Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE
Japanese: ツバサ クロニクル
MAL Score: 7.53
During an excavation at the mysterious ruins in Clow Country, Syaoran discovers his childhood friend Princess Sakura appear on the site with wings that disperse into many feathers. As the feather’s disappear to different dimensions, so does Sakura’s memory. In attempts to save Sakura’s life and restore her memory, Syaoran travels through to another world to find a solution. There’s only one thing left he can do. Travel through to different dimensions to collect Sakura’s feathers. Helping out with the quest is Kurogane, an exiled ninja from Japan Country who wishes to return to his world, the runaway magician, Fay, who desires to jump between each world never to return to his own and the white meat-bun shaped creature, Mokona.
The anime had a very promising first episode and the characters seems well thought out and reasonably likable. I found it entertaining and continued onward.
It goes all downhill from there. The plot starts out strong and then begins failing very quickly. There is a massive amount of what I would claim is filler and you really cannot see much progression at all in the story throughout the entire 1st and 2nd series. (I just found out that the third was canceled >_<)
Basically you could skip episodes 10-47 ish and still know whats going on. The part that really got to me was how often they would play a song while slowly moving frames across the screen to take up time during an episode. I know what the characters faces look like and I don’t need to see close ups of them doing nothing for 10 minutes every episode. They never even bothered to come up with new songs, just replayed them.
If you can sit through 52 episodes of sameness and you enjoy that feel free to watch. I have nothing against the characters or the idea behind the show. It just seems to me that they never went anywhere with it. Maybe the manga is better, I wouldn’t know. Hope this review is helpful and not seen as a hate thread.
First of, in case you did not know, CLAMP decided to \"recycle\" a lot of its characters from Card Captor Sakura and other anime in this show. In essence, you will see a ton of familiar faces, but that\’s all they are – faces. For the most part they have completely different personalities and histories. I don\’t know if that\’s because they ran out of ideas for completely new characters or not, but that\’s just the way it is. But don\’t get me wrong, it\’s definitely not a bad thing.
The animation, as usual from CLAMP, is up to par with today\’s standards and what today\’s viewers expect from an anime. It\’s very crisp and clean and very colorful. The relationship between Sakura and Syaoran is something you could shed a tear witnessing the trials they go through, but once again, the slowness of it all prevents a continuous enjoyment of that.
Yuki Kaijura has once again put together a very beautiful soundtrack to go along with this anime. From the very first time the piece named \"A song of storm and fire\" is played with the anime, that alone will urge you to keep watching this anime. However, this anime does progress extremely slowly at times, especially after the first arc and the fillers (you wouldn\’t think there would be fillers in a 26-episode season, but there are) are extremely boring, possibly with the exception of one or two filler arcs.
Even with all of that, its the animation and music that keeps Tsubasa RESERVoir Chronicles – the anime – alive and what keeps its viewers, in my mind anyway. The story has the potential (well, it does if you read the manga) to be amazing, but the fillers and slow progress prevent it from doing so. If you want to know what happens, pick up the manga and start reading it. You won\’t be disappointed. The anime is something you have to be patient with.
CLAMP, in a move of sweeping lack of creativity, decided to make another franchise by reusing their old characters. I gotta say, smart move, CLAMP–your cash cow is ready to be chopped up and sold.
And this is what Tsubasa Chronicle is: a sell-out.
The story is bland and boring. Dimension-travellers bound together for whatever reasons, but you know, viewers won’t care because they get to see Sakura and Shaoran or whatever his name is go gaga over one another once again and two yaoi-fodder guys vacillate between passion and disgust of one another.
The art was mediocre. It wasn’t good, wasn’t bad. Nothing special. Like the sound.
I cannot give the characters a good rating because they aren’t characters. They are just themselves from the old anime transported to a new one to serve a purpose. They aren’t developed, they aren’t deep, it isn’t good.
I was yawning and scratching a lot while watching this–that can’t be good.
Overall, this is unfabulous crap. Don’t watch it. Unless you’re a CLAMP fan and you won’t listen to me.
5: Fantastic Children
English: Fantastic Children
MAL Score: 7.53
A group of enigmatic white-haired children has been spotted at different times and places in Europe for over 500 years. Always with the appearance of 11-year-olds, they behave far more mature than they should be, never grow old, and seem to have supernatural power. What they have been seeking is a girl, and the only clue they have is a picture with a crescent moon. Now, in the year of 2012, an athletic boy named Tohma is about to be involved in this centuries-long mystery.
The beginning of the story is part mystery and part adventure, focusing on a group of half a dozen white haired kids making an appearance through out centuries seemingly without aging and the other time focusing on a kid called Thoma who meets some anti-social girl called Helga and a energetic boy called Chitto. I admit the story was a bit underwhelming at first but once the story unfolds in later episode, you’ll be hooked straight away, it turns into something quite epic and unique, there’s so many twist and turns and you’d just watch episode after episode and without even noticing it’s already over.
The art style can be a bit of a turn off for some people, they might even think this is a kids show but fear not this is quite mature even if the first few episodes are light-hearted they’re nothing compared to what happens next.
Anyway, as you get used to the art, it becomes more apparent that it’s done quite well, lots of attractive looking backgrounds and pretty solid animations.
The background music can really manipulate the emotions of certain scenes, they really help make pivotal moments in the story have more impact. The OP fit the series perfectly too bad I had to skip on occasion since I just really wanted to get on with the story, While the ED is sang by ORIGA the same singer who lent her voice for the majority of the GITS soundtrack.
How they made the connections with each character was great, most of the characters had a certain connection to the main plot, the importance of characters become unpredictable that you’d be shocked when the story finally reveals what their purpose are. Honestly every character was interesting and it was nice to see that they all had a part to play they weren’t just some random people thrown in together to make episodes last longer.
A lot of people would probably just ignore it after looking at the front picture alone, which is too bad because it’s a pretty damn good show with a unique and interesting plot along with a great cast and a solid OST, you might not like it as much as I did but I guarantee it’s definitely worth watching, it’s only real flaw is how lame the name is.
At first glance, this looks like some weird story about kids, targeted at kids. But don’t be fooled by the simple character design or the title. This series is actually quite intense, with a memorable and complex plot and good storytelling that will draw older viewers waiting with bated breath for what happens next. It is definitely not a series just for children.
The story revolves around a group of mysterious children who appear every once in a while throughout Europe. Who are they, where are they from, and why do they keep on reappearing? These are some of the questions that are being answered bit by bit throughout the series. At the same time, the story also follows another group of children who have run away from the local orphanage, and are searching for a place they want to go. At first, it seems that these two main plots have nothing to do with each other, but at the middle of the series, the two plots converge, and the viewer discovers that they are closely connected after all.
There are also a couple of sidestories with a few adults involving something almost supernatural. Although these sidestories seem off-track, they are related to the main plot in one way or another, and are tied together in the last few episodes.
The plot is fairly complex and quite involved, but not to a point where it’s confusing. The story is told in a way that it’s pretty understandable if you pay attention to it. The story is full of surprises, twists, and secrets that will keep the viewer guessing and wondering what happens next.
The tone of the series is mostly serious. But there is room for some bits of humour and lighthearted fun. There are also a few philosophical questions subtlely being looked at, such as what makes us who we are as humans, is it our souls or our current selves? In terms of love, there are many types being explored: romantic, family, friendships, unrequited, and broken.
Even though it doesn’t look like it at first, each character is connected to one another in one way or another, and that connection is revealed piece by piece throughout the series.
The Children of Belfort: This is the name given to seven mysterious white-haired, blue-eyed children who have appeared for 21 times in the last couple of centuries. They’d gather and run away from their homes when they turn 5, and never live past the age of 11. They search desperately for something before their time is up. The way they talk and act make them more like adults than children. At first, they seem cold and distant, and even perhaps malevonant. But as their stories and pasts are revealed, the viewer comes to feel compassion for them, and their mission. Each person has their own stories and own unique personalities that will touch the viewers’ hearts.
Dumas: The mysterious white-haired boy who appears a few times at the beginning of the series. Appearance-wise, he seems to be one of the Children of Belfort, but he doesn’t seem to be working with them. Who he is and his background story will be revealed later in the series.
Helga: She is an orphan who is kind, but seems to be always lonely. She keeps on drawing pictures of a mysterious place that she wants to go, and she would run away from the orphanage to search for the place in her memory. Her friend Chitto is determined to help her get there. At first she seems meek and timid and always in a daze, but as the series progresses, her inner strength is slowly unveiled.
Thoma: He grew up around the Islands, and knows them well. He meets Chitto and Helga by chance, and is drawn to help Helga get to the place she wants to go. He is a determined young boy who is open and shows emotions easily. Little does he know, he’s more closely connected to the Children of Belfort and Helga than he realises.
Dr. Gherta: She is the director and doctor of the mysterious and suspicious organization Ged Group. A brilliant scientist, she’s somewhat single-minded and almost obsessive with her project, which, for most of the series, is unclear and even almost malicious. But the viewer gradually sympathizes with her plight, especially towards the end when she has a few secrets of her own to unravel.
Detective Cooks: A detective who has been investigating the disappearance of these children, he got interested in them because his grandfather was involved with the children during his lifetime, and Cooks became curious of his grandfather’s findings. As more of a spectator, his sidestory gives the viewer some background information and history to the Children of Belfort.
All of the characters are pretty human, and although they main characters are only children, the circumstances that they’re involved in and how they react make them seem older, and thus even an older audience can relate to them. By the end of the series, the viewer is able to sympathize with all of the characters, even if at first they may seem unlikable or malicious.
The character design and art style is certainly unique, though not the prettiest; in fact, the designs could be said to be boring and quite simple. The children are designed more or less short and a bit stubby, and not a lot of details is given in the eye or hair area. The clothing design is also a bit boring, though it has a country-style flavour to it. However, the expressions for the characters are mostly well-done.
The background art is very beautiful, with lots of lush forests and unexplored islands. The setting has a sort of semi-tropical or Central/South American feel to it (the ruins of temples and statues remind me of the Aztec or Mayan ruins, but also has a sort of exotic island feel), or maybe with a dash of exotic Asian feeling too (with some of the statues looking a bit like Buddhist statues, and the colourful and busy marketplace of Middle East). The cities though, take on a more 19th century European flavour (even though the story is set in 2012), with cobble-stone streets and stocky buildings.
In general, the art is just different, and may take some getting used to. Instead of following the latest trend of shiny backgrounds, brightly coloured and detailed character designs, this series is going against the grain by looking back to the style of the older animes. The general colour palette of the series is kind of dark, with mostly grays and greens and blues, with a lot of scenes taking place during storms or at night; it’s not neccessarily drab, but it’s certainly not brightly coloured. There are a few exceptions with the scenes taking place in the forest on the islands, where the colours are contrasted sharply with the darker scences, using lots of bright greens and yellows. But I think this lack of shiny backgrounds and special effects, and simple character design does add to the sadness and longing feeling of the story. And rather focusing on the character designs (and fanservice), the simple art makes the viewer able to pay more attention to the story and character development.
The voices for this series is okay. It doesn’t really stand out anywhere, but it is mostly ear-pleasing and suitable for the characters. And most of the actors do a good enough job bringing out the emotions, especially towards the end, the viewers can almost feel the characters sorrow or joy.
The music is one of the strengths of this series. The opening song "Voyage" by Inori, is dramatic and uplifting, but also gentle and calming, a perfect opening for the series. It is also used as an insert song for one of the episodes, but with a slightly different arrangement, it’s slower, with piano and cello in the background, and adds a sense of sadness to the scene. The ending song, "Mizu no Madoromi" by ORIGA (who sang both of GiTS openings) is sad and nostalgic, as if longing for something, and very fitting to the theme of the series. I would definately recommend getting the opening and ending singles (it’s one of the best I’ve heard).
The background music uses a combination of piano, cello, and a bit of flute. The theme for the Belfort Children is very memorable (with piano and cello), and a bit sad, like the fate of these children. The only downside is that this theme is a bit overused, being played in almost every episode. Helga’s theme (which is mostly flute and cello) is also gentle and pretty, and suits her character well. The background music is mostly soft and sad, with a few upbeat songs for the tenser scenes. It uses raw traditional instrumental sounds rather then edited sound effects, which works well. And I’d recommend getting the OST "Memory of Greecia" as well.
The first half of the series takes place in the current world at the current time, mostly following the adventures of Helga, Thoma, and Chitto, as well as that of the Children of Belfort and the people around them. Then the next couple of episodes focus on the background story and history of the series. Then that last ten or so episodes brings the characters and sidestories from the beginning of the series and tie everything together.
The pace may seem a bit slow for those who are used to action right away and in every episode. Many of the episodes are used to tell the story and advance the plot, or explain the history and background rather than pure action. And because of the complex plot and how everything is weaved together, some parts of the plot may take some time to develop. But I found it interesting enough that it’s not a boring explaination, and it does help to understand the plot much better. And worry not, there are plenty of action interspersed throughout. Personally, I find the pace okay, it’s just that there’s so much to take in and explain that it takes time. I find the plot to be interesting, and not too confusing to understand, and it did leave me wanting to know more after every episode. And in the end, all of the questions that I wanted to ask have been answered, so I find the ending to be satisfying.
Overall, it is an enjoyable series, and I’d recommend it. In fact, I think this series needs more love and attention.
What do I think? I think it could have used a bigger animation budget and could have been cut down from 26 to 22 or even 20 episodes.
Animation is kind of low budget. Fantastic Children looks and feels like it was made in the ’80s. The color palette should have at least been more vibrant. I mean, sure, you have only so much money for your budget. But if you look at, say, Noir, or Requiem from the Darkness, they managed to have some interesting animation without spending a ton of money on it. What if everything looked like the paintings in the ED? OK, maybe that’s impractical, but it’s still possible to look interesting on a budget.
There is way too much time spent on shots of people just standing around, or extended close-ups of people looking surprised. There are a few things where a situation is first explained, then shown. It would have been better if it had just been shown. And, in general, the pacing is just a bit too slow for me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Mushishi or Kino’s, but that’s not the style of this series. You can almost but not quite just skip a couple of the early episodes. Just don’t watch eps 1-10 when you feel like watching something where lots of stuff is happening.
There are a few pretty silly things. The guys with hats, for example. It’s also a bit disappointing how not all of the characters that a lot of time is spent with get to actually do much.
Voice acting is good. (The characters get intense towards the end, which is tough to do.) Some of the music, like in the last parts of ep 18, is alright too. (Yes I like the ep 18 Russian version of the ED better. So sue me.) The ED is mizu no madoromi, sung by Origa, by the way. But why oh why did they have to have some of the characters try to sing?
So is it worth watching? Does the ending deliver? Overall I’d give it a 7, which means worth watching but not worth buying, and I’d say it’s better than or but worse than or . The drama and action pick up continuously towards the end, so the second half is better than the first. If you haven’t seen, say, Gankutsuou, I’d suggest watching that before this, but Fantastic Children isn’t *bad* and I don’t regret watching it. The characters aren’t cardboard cutouts, and there’s not anything else like that to make me *dislike* it. There are just better series out there. I guess I’d suggest watching it if you like puzzle series and Final Fantasy. Especially Final Fantasy. I’d say it reminds me most of El Hazard the Magnificent World, minus comedy and with somewhat better characters and somewhat slower paced and a bit less coherent and most importantly minus the awesomeness of cat-based armor technology.
Well, I hope this review can help someone decide whether to watch Fantastic Children, but I somewhat doubt it.
4: Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
Japanese: バジリスク 甲賀忍法帖
MAL Score: 7.56
For centuries, the Iga and Kouga ninja clans have engaged in a bitter war. But when a ceasefire is ordered by the powerful warlord Ieyasu Tokugawa, the two clans are forced to put down their arms.
Years later, Gennosuke Kouga, heir of the Kouga clan, and Oboro Iga, heir of the Iga clan, have fallen in love. Through marriage, both heirs aim to bring peace to the clans. But their hopes are dashed when flames of rivalry between their clans are reignited, and they are dragged into another war.
Ieyasu’s two grandsons have both claimed to be the next heir to the shogunate. To resolve this dispute, both the Kouga and Iga are ordered to send their 10 best warriors to fight in a bloody battle royale, with each clan representing one of the potential shogunate heirs. Two scrolls with the names of the fighters are given and are to be marked in blood upon the given fighter’s death. The prize for winning is the favor of the Tokugawa shogunate for a thousand years. Torn between their love for each other and duty to their clans, Gennosuke and Oboro must ultimately decide the fate of their clans.
Heartless killing, endless dying. That pretty much made up the story. Almost every character was just blood thirsty, all except this anime’s Romeo and Juliet, aka Gennosuke and Oboro. It’s another story of forbidden love, I suppose. The forbidden love was a foot note for me – I was more engrossed by the fight scenes and the dramatic deaths of the ninjas.
The concept was actually new to me, but I was able to understand most of it. I was familiar with Samurai – themed anime, but I have never watched a serious shinobi anime like this one (that’s right – Flame of Recca doesn’t count). I’m not sure what separates the two, but from what I notice, Ninjas are less moral and are more likely into killing, that’s why the Iga and Kouga ninjas were chosen to fight it out with each other to come up with the decision on who will succeed the third shogun. I am not sure whether or not this really happened (I don’t think so) but there were a lot of historical references that were explained (thank God!). It’s another opportunity to learn about Japanese culture and history!
So the characters ended up killing each other in the way they knew how – using their different techniques of course. They all had unique techniques, from super sticky phlegm to blood sucking skin to deadly glances. These techniques gave spice to the already violent carnage.
Like their techniques, their respective practitioners were equally impressive and different (Although the girls looked alike, and Koshirou and Yashamaru as well). I was sad that some were only shown for a short time, because their personalities and character made it seem like they were going to stick around longer.
I have to commend the voice acting for this one. Even though I’m not that fluent in Japanese, I know well enough Japanese slang to tell that the language they’re using was the one used in that era. They seem to say “Gozaimasu” a lot. Generally, the seiyus brought out the personalities of their respective characters, and that’s always a good thing.
The drawing style was pretty good, but I found that it can be a bit exaggerated sometimes. Body proportions were kinda weird. Everyone and everything seemed to be big. The women had huge, nipple-less chests (Found out from all the naked girl fight scenes). The men had overly large frames, but they are ninjas so I’m not sure about that. The wrinkles on the elders were a bit too extreme. They were kind with Danjou, but poor Ogen. She was so beautiful in her youth and when she got old they made her look REALLY old. There were a lot of hair too – everyone just seemed so hairy. The landscapes and backgrounds were nicely drawn though, and I did detect a hint of CG just to compliment some scenes. I was kinda ticked that a lot of the scenes were in the dark, which made it hard for me to tell what was happening. Oh well, they didn’t have light then anyway. When the scenes were during the daytime, you could tell the colors were done nicely and complimented each other instead of clashing with each other.
I noticed there was a great variety of BGM – most of them were gloomy though. It did fit the series well, but that’s about it. They didn’t heighten the mood of the scene or anything like that. The opening theme singer’s voice (which is actually Oboro’s seiyu) sounded a bit operatic, so I didn’t like the opening theme that much. I liked both the ending songs though, they seemed more current compared to the opening theme. Anyway, all in all the music fit the mood of the anime.
Again I was hesitant with this one – Didn’t really want to watch it at first since I thought it was going to be too serious, but it ended up to be very exciting and likable. Let’s not forget the violence and gore either, It may seem like I like shojo more, but I actually love violent series just as much.
The story is simple – two warring ninja clans kill each other. Don’t let the simple plot fool you though, there is a forbidden love story thrown into the mix aswell, and that is pulled off well. The best way to describe this would be a ultra-violent Romeo and Juliet sort of story. I enjoyed the story very much, but it had it’s flaws. Many of the characters that appear only last for a few episodes, and I felt that they could have been kept along just a bit longer. But, after all, the main premise of this anime is two ninja clans killing each other, so I’m not really that upset.
Art: (10/10) – Outstanding
This is some of the best art I have ever seen in Anime, period. I am not exaggerating one bit. Even if you don’t like the plot, the sound, or the characters, you should watch this Anime just for the art. If I could rate the art eleven out of ten, I would. Simply epic art. Much detail is put into everything that you see. The backgrounds are rich and colorful, but not too colorful, and seem to pop out of the screen at you. The characters are well designed, and convincing. Even some of the CGI, although it is rarely used, is well done. The only bad point I would give the art would be that some of the characters were designed rather oddly, with massive deformations which takes away from the otherwise blatant realism of this Anime.
Sound: 9/10 – Great
There really isn’t much to say about the sound. I watched this series dubbed for the first five episodes then switched over to subtitles. The dub is well done, but it is very strange watching Ninja’s in seventeenth century Japan speaking English. The subtitles are well done, but they were a tad bit small for my taste, although I do have rather bad vision. The one bad point about the sound is that a lot of the characters that are voiced are given very unrealistic voices, and it is hard to see a character in real life speaking that way. Also, some of the sound effects are a bit overdone.
Character: 8/10 – Very Good
The characters aren’t anything special in themselves, but a good amount of character development is done. As said earlier, the two main characters resemble Romeo and Juliet, in a forbidden love scenario. A complaint I have about the characters is also as mentioned before in the art section — many of them are massively deformed with huge tumors and the like. I am not sure if they meant to do this to show that they had no modern medicine, but some of the deformations are so over the top that they would be almost impossible in real life unless the character was suffering from a severe case of elephantiasis. Also, some of the characters are killed off way too soon, and I feel that they could have had use in the plot.
Enjoyment – 10/10 – Outstanding
I watched this show in a matter of three days, which is pretty good if you ask me. This series if very, very enjoyable, one of the best around. If you have some spare time, I would recommend putting aside a weekend and marathoning it with some friends. This anime has a rather good re watch value also.
Overall: 9/10 – Great
This is a very good anime series, and despite some of it’s flaws, is a must see for any fan. I would say that about 95% of the people who watch this will like it. I would say that this series is appropriate for children over the age of fifteen, because it does include violence, scenes of rape, nudity, blood, and mildly suggestive themes. Main Verdict – Buy, rent, or download this anime — it is great!
It is romantic, gory, action-packed, dramatic, deep and beautiful in every way.
The story is a revamp of the old Kouga/Iga ninja conflict. It is interesting and involving. The story is a historical piece, but it becomes so much more because it reminds you that the people involved were PEOPLE, who had lives and loves and everything in-between. The plot follows a bloody death match; there’s execution-style story-telling, and it reels you in from the first episode to the chilling final one.
The art was excellent. Couldn’t do any better. It has a unique style, the colour pallet was amazing, the background art was gorgeous and the animation was astounding (excellent fight scenes).
The characters were deep and three-dimensional. There are more than 10 people you will see who has the focus on the anime on them, but each is interesting and has a backstory to them so it helps us understand who they are.
If you think Naruto is the greatest ninja anime ever, this isn’t for you, because you wouldn’t know quality if it stuck you in the eye with a kunai. There was nothing unfabulous about this anime, so do watch it.
3: Aria the Animation
English: Aria the Animation
Japanese: ARIA The ANIMATION
MAL Score: 7.68
Drift peacefully into Neo Venezia, a city on the planet Aqua (formerly known as Mars). By the 24th century, humans have found a way to colonize the previously uninhabitable planet. As futuristic as that sounds, Neo Venezia is still teeming with rustic beauty; gondolas on wide canals and waterways are the main mode of transportation. The city itself is a faithful replication of Manhome’s (the planet formerly known as Earth) Venice.
To make sure that residents and tourists alike get the most from Neo Venezia’s many wonders, companies offering guided tours via gondola were formed, one of which is named Aria Company.
This is the workplace of Akari Mizunashi, a free spirited teenager from Manhome who is now a novice Undine (the title given to tour guides). Join Akari as she becomes intimately acquainted with other Undine, tourists, Neo Venezia’s residents, and even the city itself, learning many valuable life lessons along the way, such as the wonderful truth that there are such things as manmade miracles.
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show. The synopsis didn’t really give any clues as to what I should expect, and that is probably the best thing about it – it isn’t quite what you expect.
The story takes place on what used to be Mars (the first thing I didn’t expect), in a place called Neo-Venzia (New Venice), and is about a girl training to be an Undine (the story uses the term to refer to a female gondolier rather than a water spirit). The story itself isn’t linear in any way, as each episode is a story in it’s own right. Normally this is a recipe for disaster in the anime world, but it works in this show – I’ll explain why in a bit.
The art and animation are of a very high standard, and the city and it’s surroundings are beautifully rendered – and you will see a lot of the city in this show. The characters are very well depicted, even when they show their chibi side, and the best bit is there’s not a panty shot in sight – hooray!
The sound is one area where this show excels. Everything is there if you listen, from the sound of the waves to the hubbub of of a crowd. The music is ideally suited to the show and, unlike many anime, actually heightens the viewing experience.
The characters are extremely well realised. I can’t think of one character I actually disliked in the entire show. One of the things I liked about the show was how each character actually fits into the story, and the world in which they exist – even the cats have a purpose. One of the other things I liked was the use of fairytale and mythological creatures in the show. The females gondoliers are referred to as Undines, with the top three being called the Great Fairies. The weather is controlled by salamanders, the gravity is controlled by gnomes, etc. One thing that puzzled me was why the female characters names begin with A (except Grandma, however her real name is Akino), but that’s by-the-by.
So the important question is: Will you enjoy the show?
If you’re an action junkie, or into horror or angst, then this is not the show for you (although it never hurts to give it a try). This show is funny and quirky in many ways, without going over the top, but the one word I would use to describe the show is RELAX. It took me two weeks to finish this show and it’s sequel (which is a long time for me by the way), and this is because this show is so relaxing that I was falling asleep whilst watching it. Normally it takes a lot for me to fall asleep, and even boredom doesn’t work, but somehow this show just relaxes you to the point where you just drift off to dreamland without a second thought, and never once was I bored with this show.
Overall this is a show that deserves to be watched, as it has a unique appeal that the like’s of Sketchbook ~full colour’S~ and Kokoro Toshokan just can’t quite match up to. The reason why the non-linear story works well in this show is because it’s so relaxing that you honestly just don’t care about the fact there’s no real plot – which is a rather refreshing perspective to have.
The best way to watch the show? Have a shower, have a good meal, get comfortable, and relax…
Aria the Animation is not for you, who prefers a clear cut and classically constructed storyline that moves from point A to point B with some key events in between. Aria the Animation is not for you, who requires relentless action and constant fast-paced happenings from their anime. And most certainly Aria the Animation is not for you, who finds little to no enjoyment in just sitting back and watching as a close-knit group of girls, not in their bra and panties with guns ablaze, but with their gondolas and oars go through ordinary day-to-day activities instead of epic adventures and intense situations.
But on the good chance you are the type to approach your anime with an open mind and the patience to watch and see the magic in the moment, you are likely to find the company of Akari, Aika, Alice, and the rest of the undines and undines-in-training much to your liking. Because that’s what Aria the Animation is ultimately about: a journey to uncover the joy of the obvious, the excitement behind the mundane, and the possibilities underneath the sorrows.
These scenarios are played out to us by a cast of characters who depict a variety of different personalities. Akari is the naive amateur who treats all she experiences with childlike wonder; through her most of the show’s message is brought across to the viewer. . Aika is her best friend and almost her exact opposite: no-nonsense and feet firmly on the ground-kind of girl who constantly berates Akari for her dreamy ways. And Alicia is their mentor and the big sister-type of character, who’s there to provide insight and help the juniors along the way. They’re surrounded by a pack of friends who similarly have their quirks and qualities defining them and making their role contributing to what the creator is trying to tell us.
You’re right if you argue that the story is boring and seemingly pointless at times. Saying the characters being archetypes of their respective personalities (and almost exclusively female as well!) is cliche and overused is valid. Complaining that having cats as business company presidents is just plain stupid and ridiculous is justified.
But as one who no doubt has already seen quite a bit of anime in their life, you have for sure come across these common failings before. And in case you’ve reached the point of having made peace with them, or feel like challenging yourself to do so, Aria the Animation may prove to be an eye-opening experience for you that anime can be good even if no heavens are pierced.
From what I saw, I’m sure it will.
The first idea I wanted to share in this review is that Aria is a series that speaks for itself. What I’m doing here is merely trying to explain a complex story within a few lines. I would never be able to summarize all the pros/cons of Aria, first because each person will see it in a deferent way, and second because you would need to watch it in order to understand all the comparisons, metaphores and symbolism I would mention.
That said, I’m reviewing it with the sole purpose of bringing more viewers for this amazing chronicle and hopefully introduce more and more people to Aqua and its habitants.
Aria is an anime that everybody should watch, still, it’s not an anime that will work for everybody. Whether or not you will enjoy it, is up to you, your personal interpretation and the mood of the moment. I would say that what matters the most is the timing. If you watch it while in the mood for a thriller, you’ll drop it even before understanding the idea of the story.
“Now, please take my hand”
Is what you would heard from a radiant Undiine while boarding her gondola. With a gentle smile she would gracefully ask you where to and start conducing you trought Neo-Venezia, a city modeled after Venezia in Man-Home (Earth). She would show you turistic spots and you’d start to notice that even being in 2053 the city moves slowly, without traffic jams, rush hour, polution, cellphones, noise pollution… The only evidences that you are really in the XXII century would be the spaceships that are continually transporting passangers from one planet to another. This relaxed athmosphere would start to embrace you while the Undiine continue to show you wonders and misteries from this planet that were once dry and empty and is now filled with water and life.
It’s impossible to not enjoy such cozy enviroment.
Every episode is a kind of fairy tale, filled with cultural values and a sense of friendship, always coming up with a poetic moral in the end. Aria stands out from the average and prove us that the essence of the Slice-Of-Life is not dead. Characters can be lovely and elegant without being “moe”. All the great stories in human history never needed movies or TV series to be remembered, they passed from generation to generation depending only in the power of words and its storyteller. Aria didn’t have a high budget, neither big sponsors, so the quality of the animation could never be compared to a “top” studio, even though, the artwork values itself from this modest simplicity, that even with a medium quality, brings you gorgeous scenarios and handsome characters.
At this point you probably already noticed that Aria raise some questions a regular slice-of-life doesn’t. This is only possible because of two main reasons: The already mentioned storyline progression, that works with a character-driven story and a “not-so-linear” time progression, and the well said characters.
Usually what you see is a cast made of a group of high schoolers in a school enviroment, 99% of the slice-of-life stories are like this. Not saying they are bad, but it only provides a unilateral point of view from a given subject. Of course each character, if well planned, will have a difference in personality and see things in a different way, otherwise it would get boring to watch. Aria on the other hand change things in a “macro” way, and brings a entire community as characters. Works with different generations and people with the most different styles of life and personality traces, bringing to you a much more rich story that resemble our lifes.
It stays apparent whenever or not a studio made an effort to create something special when one of the basic points of a series steals the show. Financial issues or other external factors can put a “barrier” to graphics, effects, art, post-production development, but sound is relatively free from it. Music can be made by anyone, anywhere. Anonymous people can create masterpieces, and some kid can be playing right now a perfect cover of Beethoven. Why am I saying this?
Because Aria’s music deserve to be praised. Wonderful acoustic pieces by Choro Club and Senoo was the perfect match for the enviroment of the series. The entire OST is performed with string instruments (even a rhodes) without any kind of pop song or eletronic. The songs are slow paced, almost hitting a andante and sometimes a vivace, while the vocal collection are mostly ballads. It’s undoubtedly the best choice of OST for a story with the values of Aria.
Can you fell the nostalgia already?
Aria made something special here.
I wish not enter in the merit of originality but it is perceptible that after its publication, lots of other franchises started producing series which bended more to this side of a philosophical slice-of-life with tones of self-discovery on it. One could say the strenght of this series lies into two major standards. The fact that we all wish for hapiness and a calm life, and the philosophic notion that this happiness and this ability to see the wonder in things is already inside of us. You just need to find it.
Being honest, I don’t really mind that Aria is little of a underrated series. If it’s like this, the amount of haters are minimal, there’s no controversy around it, neither people arguing to see “which is the best character”. The way it is, Aria will continue to be slowly recommended from friends to friends, just like in the pace of the anime itself.
As for enjoyment, it sure hits the maximum score. Without any action scene or a suddenly twists in the plot, Aria still managed to amuse me every single episode. There’s no way I would watch one episode and don’t feel refreshed, all warm and fuzzy inside. Meaning-of-life anime? This is definitely one.
I probably went full-philosophic in the last paragraphs, then for a closure to this review, a funny observation:
Aria is not perfect. There’s something pretty annoying on it, that will chase you from the 1st episode to the last of the 3rd season (…) 99% of the characters’ names and/or last names starts with “A”. Aqua, Aria, Akari, Alice, Alicia, Aika, Akira, Athena, Ai, Al, Anna, Akatsuki…
It’s pretty hard to memorize who is who before you get used to them!
I hope I was able to introduce at least a little bit of this great story that is Aria. Now, the rest is up to you.
“Thank you for choosing Aria Company. Have a safe trip! See you again!”
2: Doraemon (1979)
MAL Score: 7.72
Nobita Nobi is a normal fourth grade student. This all changes, however, when a blue robotic cat appears from his desk drawer. Calling himself Doraemon, this robot tells Nobita that his future descendants from the 22nd century live in poverty because of all the mistakes he made. Therefore, they have sent Doraemon to serve as a guide and mentor to Nobita, so that their future may change for the better. What Doraemon comes to learn, though, is that Nobita is the weakest and laziest student in the whole school.
To assist in his quest, Doraemon has a four-dimensional pocket with him, in which he keeps various machines and gadgets from the future. Unfortunately, these often result in even more trouble for Nobita. Will Doraemon really be able to achieve his mission of changing Nobita, or will he remain as he is?
To begin, as much as you wish to believe that Doraemon is about a ne’er do well named Nobita and how his life changed for good from the arrival of Doraemon, the plot of Doraemon actually revolves around the fact that Nobita is a boy suffering from a severe mental disability, and all of the characters, including Doraemon, are the product of his imagination. In real life, Nobita would be a little boy on his deathbed who imagined the entire series in order to keep himself entertained and to ease his pain and depression.
From this perspective, the entire series of Doraemon now becomes a series about the different sensations of human life that the little boy would’ve felt had he not fallen into a mental disability. Every time Nobita becomes depressed in the story because he was bullied by Gian or Suneo, he is probably suffering pain from his mental disease; Gian and Suneo are simply the manifestation of his illness. Every gadget Doraemon pulls out of his pouch in order to save Nobita is a manifestation of something in real life used to relieve him of his pain; or rather, it may be the surgical tools of a doctor, since sometimes the gadgets cause him pain if Nobita goes overboard with them.
The settings also provide concrete evidence to the truth behind the series. The mental capabilities of a child is much greater than that of an adult, yet it is not all powerful; it is not able to create objects that he has never seen. Therefore we see that the neighborhood inside Nobita’s imagination is very small, with a sparse number of houses and even more sparse the types of people that can be met. For example, we can only see Japanese people in the neighborhood, there is hardly any foreigners. Furthermore, when Nobita is walking around, we almost always only see blank walls, side-walks, and telephone poles; when Nobita is flying, we can only see the clouds in the sky and numerous trees and houses, with many of the same structural build-up. There are hardly any miscellaneous people or things walking around, in accordance with the fact that Nobita’s imagination can only support what it considers as important.
Now, a little bit about the series itself. At this point, if you continue to believe that Doraemon is about how Nobita’s life changed for the better because of the arrival of Doraemon, you will continue to enjoy Doraemon only as a remnant of a great series of memories, and possibly, a great childhood. However, considering the complexities of the plot as analyzed, Doraemon is actually a chilling insight to how the mind will react when driven to extremities of solitude. It is painful to consider how lonely and hopeless it must be for a child on his sickbed without being looked after by a friend, and possibly abandoned by his family for good. With this in mind, the boy now proceeds to indulge in escapism in order to run away from all of the emotional and physical pain that he is experiencing. We laugh at how silly it is, and gaze in wonder at the impressive gadgets that Doraemon can pull out of his pouch, yet behind the facade of happiness and wonder, behind the cover of the moral lessons, behind the desire and personality of an ordinary school boy, there exists a background of such darkness, such that in rereading the series, one cannot help but wonder at how strong a fortitude a child can possess.
Nobita’s friends are also very important in finding just what exactly the series is trying to do. In the beginning, we know that Nobita is very interested in marrying Shizuka, but becomes very agitated when he learns from his great-grandson that he instead marries Jaiko, Jaian’s little sister. Therefore, immediately in the second episode, he tries to change his fate by imagining himself traveling to the future and then… [I will not write a spoiler]
The changes that Nobita makes because of the arrival of Doraemon gives us a clue that Nobita indeed hasn’t given up hope of his recovery, and wishes to live long enough to give birth to the next generation. However, the fact that Nobita never changes the present from his imaginary excursions with Doraemon to the past and the fact that his own manifestation in his imagination reveals that Nobita accepts the fact he cannot change his sickly body, and is not afraid to face his circumstances head on. A line from the original opening of Doraemon:
How wonderful this is,
if only it would come true.
This dream, that dream,
so many of them.
but really, this is a good anime that teaches children lessons, and probably a classic if you enjoy classics. It’s a long anime, sure, but worth it. Every episode is completely stand alone, and easy to pick up, easy to put down without being confused because there really is no story in each of them.
MAL Score: 8.68
“Mushi”: the most basic forms of life in the world. They exist without any goals or purposes aside from simply “being.” They are beyond the shackles of the words “good” and “evil.” Mushi can exist in countless forms and are capable of mimicking things from the natural world such as plants, diseases, and even phenomena like rainbows.
This is, however, just a vague definition of these entities that inhabit the vibrant world of Mushishi, as to even call them a form of life would be an oversimplification. Detailed information on Mushi is scarce because the majority of humans are unaware of their existence.
So what are Mushi and why do they exist? This is the question that a “Mushishi,” Ginko, ponders constantly. Mushishi are those who research Mushi in hopes of understanding their place in the world’s hierarchy of life.
Ginko chases rumors of occurrences that could be tied to Mushi, all for the sake of finding an answer.
It could, after all, lead to the meaning of life itself.
Everything is only as it is.”
Mushishi is essentially a series of stories styled after East Asian legends and folktales. In lieu of gods, spirits, and demons, the paranormal phenomena are attributed to more primitive yet no less enigmatic creatures called “mushi”. Dealing with their kind is the expertise of “mushishi”; professionals whose role may be thought of as an amalgam of healer, exorcist, biologist, X-Files investigator, and Jedi master (well, sort of). Ginko happens to be one of these mushishi and he wanders from town to town, looking for interesting cases and lending a helping hand to those adversely affected by these mushi.
As formulaic as its premise may sound, no two incidents are alike and every episode features not only different mushi but a different setting and cast as well (with Ginko as constant exception). Because of these, the series is able to experiment with various concepts and human relationships and none of the stories ever end in a predictable manner. As such, there is little room for stagnation as each tale manages to be unique and refreshing.
The title is often mentioned in the same breath as Kino no Tabi though Mushishi’s oriental setting and animistic influences give it a more distinct flavor and theme. Whereas Kino limits herself to exploring “what if” scenarios by visiting different countries, Ginko takes it a step further by providing possible solutions and emphasizing the importance of living in harmony with nature, with fellow men, and most importantly, with the self.
While not exactly an anti-hero, Ginko’s personality is an unusual mix of benevolence tempered with common sense; a combination of “grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.” Saving lives is part of his job but he also knows when there’s reason still to hope and when it’s time to move on. He may break his own code at times for the well-being of the majority and he’s not above fooling the gullible either just to get by. His expertise stems not only from his knowledge about mushi but also from his understanding of human nature.
Similarly, none of these supporting characters are shoved into stereotypes which plague most anime and manga. No catgirls, lecherous geezers, or single-minded youngsters (Believe it!); just regular folks in unusual circumstances due to encounters with mushi. Consequently, it doesn’t require much effort to empathize with these characters even if most only appear in their respective episodes.
Not only is the theme “everything is only as it is” evident in the content but it also permeates the manner in which the stories are presented. Mushishi doesn’t try to impress; it simply delivers. While other shows of this era tend go overboard with the fancy CG animation, Mushishi’s visuals remain spare yet aesthetically pleasing. Rather than filling up the screen with explosions and fanservice shots at every possible moment, vivid scenes of natural beauty such as raindrops falling from the heavens, cherry blossoms drifting in the wind, and sunlight penetrating the dense foliage are shown instead. Of course, the viewers are occasionally treated to fantastic scenes showing the surreal characteristics of the mushi but these are shown only when called for in the stories and nothing is done in excess. Even the character designs are relatively plain but perhaps these also contribute to the story in their own way since the audience is less likely to judge the characters based on their appearances.
Likewise, the audio takes the minimalist approach. The soundtrack is comprised of simply melodies which are surprisingly effective in evoking various thoughts and emotions. Ranging from haunting and heart-rending to hopeful and bittersweet, the music often eliminates the need for more words in the most crucial scenes. Also worth noting is the lack of exaggerated voice acting which makes the cast sound more like real people rather than cookie-cutter characters.
In addition to its enchanting audio and visuals, Mushishi also serves drama and thought-provoking content in balanced amounts. Its subtle content and execution never insult the intelligence and present several interesting ideas without drowning the viewers in philosophical jargon or sophistry. All in all, Mushishi truly is one of the finest anime specimen out there.
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
Yuunagi – Writer
itsmee – Contributer/Editor
June – Contributer/Editor
Talamare – Contributer/Editor
Here are their individual scorings for the show:
Catogory – Yuunagi, itsmee, June,Talamare
Overall: 10, 9, 8, 9 – avg=9.00
Story: 10, 10, 7, 10 – avg=9.25
Animation: 9, 9, 9, 9 – avg=9.00
Sound: 9, 8, 7, 8 – avg=8.00
Enjoyment: 10, 10, 8, 10 – avg=9.5
In the club wide poll held for Mushishi it received an average overall rating of 9.06
From minute one, Mushishi’s representation of a vast world grabs the eye and doesn’t let go. Lush forests with dew dripping from every leaf; barren winter mountains peppered with stubborn snow-covered trees; an innocuous pond with lilies on the surface of the still water. The series roams from setting to setting, and all are presented with a lifelike attention to detail. The color palette is richly varied, reaching from the brilliant emerald of vegetation to the deep turquoise of the sea to the dusky red of a far-off sunset. Lighting is used to strong effect, whether it’s beams of sun streaming through layers of foliage and mist or a candle’s flame struggling to brighten a dark old house.
And within those habitats, the mushi themselves are creatively rendered as a strange mix of the familiar and the utterly alien. They are shapeless blobs propelled by twitching motions, phosphorescent insects scuttling along the earth, and great legless serpents twisting skyward. Some take the shape of a natural phenomenon, and the sight of a living rainbow exploding from the earth, or a long-restrained cloud breaking free, expanding and floating away, is bound to impress. The animation on the whole is excellent, but the mushi in particular seem to move with a vivid otherworldly fluidity. At least part of Mushishi is about making sense of the mysterious and bringing reason to something that seems unreasonable. The designs of the mushi add some believability to this; it’s quite easy to see how they could be thought of as ghosts, beasts, or legends, able to inspire both wonder and fear. The tranquility of the environments is consistently impressive in a low-key way, but the spectacle of the mushi can be eerie, majestic, and everything in between.
Sound is part of atmosphere, and in the same way that cold urban horrors might use reverberations in dark alleys or the foreboding thrumming of electronics, Mushishi uses a chorus of insects or the roar of drifting snow to surround us, allowing the setting to speak its piece. The music is minimal but startlingly effective, in many cases fitting easily alongside and even seeming to mimic the voices of the earth. Slow piano notes overlap with rhythmic footsteps, a woodwind’s sad screams resemble those of a forlorn bird. So, too, can the score sound almost unearthly, with an ominous progression of bells and chimes sometimes underscoring a haunting ending or signaling the arrival of the mushi. The result is an immersive ambiance where visuals and sound alone can convey dark, brooding tension or innocent curiosity with equal ease. It isn’t just pretty, it’s totally engrossing, exuding pure atmospheric mastery in almost every scene.
Through this vast world walks Ginko, revenant of revenants, our looking glass. Perceptive of the nature of human and mushi alike, he uses words as careful and deliberate as his journeying stride to become the voice of reason and, with an air of serene confidence, impart his knowledge to others. To become a witness to needless death, a bearer of bad news, or a participant in deception is sometimes part of his job description. As an admirer of life and truth, he cares for none of these tasks, but he’ll defy his own nature and undertake them with solemn dedication if he feels that it’s necessary. He is wise, but not infallibly so. Nor is he a complete stoic; outbursts of childlike wonder at incredible sights, sarcastic retorts to smart-mouthed travelers, and emotion-laden shouts of panic and warning to his fellow humans all show him as a little more than just the nonchalant white-haired sage. His development, in the traditional sense, is sparse, but he is afforded a poignant backstory that makes him and his thought process a little less of an enigma.
Of course, Mushishi gently pushes a picture of a sprawling and intricate world where all beings affect each other in ways both seen and unseen, their actions rippling outward in ever-widening circles, and in that sense, Ginko as a character is no different than any other living thing in the show, simultaneously of little and great consequence. He may be our guide, cursed and blessed to ceaselessly wander, but the world doesn’t turn for him. Rather, it’s in what he represents that we might find significance: The quest for knowledge, the insatiable desire to understand even while knowing that the sheer body of things in existence prevents total understanding. The need to capture the meaning of what surrounds us, spread our wisdom responsibly, and use it to form calculated reactions to the world instead of rash judgments. He truly is that silver fish swimming endlessly through dark water, opalescent barbels probing fathomless black crevices, illuminating them, if only for a brief moment. Much of Mushishi’s strength lies in the ability to provoke thought without direct questions, to let an image serve as subtext, and Ginko himself represents an impressively seamless merging of humanity and idea.
Mushishi is episodic, not bound by an overarching plot. It is a series of self-contained stories which vary in theme, but are always skillfully crafted. Most episodes consist of human drama, based on relatable and familiar emotions, infused with an element of the natural world. The episodic format delivers powerful and gripping tales in an extremely brief timetable, a feat which I have no problem appreciating. The scenarios are original, and the writing is rich with little subtleties and metaphors, but each episode can be understood and appreciated as successful story even if you’ve no desire to peer into them deeply. View Mushishi as a progression of intelligent parables full of interesting ideas, or as a bunch of moving and affecting tales; much to its credit, it is both.
Part of what makes Mushishi work is its steadfast refusal to portray anything in terms as simple as “good” or “evil.” Stories where barbaric man stupidly abuses mother nature, or where nature is a hate-filled monster that comes from the hills to eat scared little man, are a dime a dozen, and while they might pass as entertainment, they often fail to say anything worth saying because they handle man and earth as if they’re combatants in a holy war. Mushishi is not so black and white, and it has an idea that scales much better. The mushi are not red-toothed animals seeking to kill in droves. The humans are not greedy savages bent on scorching the earth. Both are just beings, trying to survive in the same place and at the same time. That they will cross paths, have conflicting interests, use each other, and hurt each other is inevitable; such is survival. Each episode is one meeting of mushi and human, one miniscule butting of heads in a massive world, with the implication being that this is simply what happens, everywhere. Instead of vilifying humans or portraying nature as a vengeful power, Mushishi whispers: This is just the way things are. It does give us a small shove by implying that, as the ones with the ability to reason and understand, the responsibility for mitigating the damage that humans inflict (and the damage that humans receive) falls on the humans, but it never degenerates into the preachy heavy-handedness or gross oversimplifications that plague many works with similar themes.
It’s that theme which allows Mushishi to navigate the spectrum of human emotion. Conflict in its world does not arise from moral failings or piggish greed, only from a lack of understanding, and understanding is a sword with many edges. Ask the child who learns of death, or the old man who learns of life. Sometimes the knowledge you gain is liberating, sometimes it’s disheartening, sometimes it’s terrifying. Mushishi can be all of those words and more, but even when it strays to one extreme, it never loses its humanity, its worldliness, or its feeling of being completely natural. Just as it can depict the warm orange rays of the sun and the cold white howl of the snow, it can depict innocent wonder and violent loss, and with equal sincerity. It has balance, and then some.
As a caveat, I will say that this is the kind of series that practically begs me to use the phrase “not for everyone.” It’s dialogue-heavy, more about the thought leading up to action than the action itself; it keeps the big guns of its visual spectacle on a tight leash, letting them explode only after a suitable buildup to assure the maximum payoff; it doesn’t have the conventional storytelling satisfaction of explicitly coming full circle, instead simply tapering off and fading quietly, as episodic series sometimes do. A few episodes will likely be enough to inform you of whether or not it’s to your tastes, and I’ve no doubt that many have labeled (and will continue to label) it as simply “boring.” I understand the origin of this opinion, but I cannot share it. Mushishi is strangely beautiful and intensely fascinating on several levels. Imbibe it a little at a time like liquor, or dive deeply into it and become drunk on its atmosphere, intrigue, and insights. In my experience, neither disappoints.
In order for something to be pretentious, it needs to put up a cover while not including the methods. An anime that has a realistic art style with dramatic characters is pretentious. It looks realistic, but the methods that are used are opposed to it.
Mushishi makes it clear what it wants to be in the first episode. It’s a series that’s concerned mainly with men’s relationship to nature. The mushi are just the physical embodiment of what nature can be. Some have criticized Mushishi for creating a magic system that has no rules but leads to convenience, but that’s untrue. Mushishi doesn’t have an RPG-like magic system because it uses magic to explore themes, not to offer instructions on how to do battle.
The rules the magic in Mushishi follows is the theme of nature. It’s successful in that department. We often see nature portrayed as a calm, peaceful place in contrast to heartless machinery. If the person is especially ignorant, we will even hear about the good old days when men was One With Nature and everything was peaceful and good. Most people see nature though the lens of the Garden of Eden.
Anyone who ever bothered to learn a little about nature – botany or geology or zoology – will understand Mushishi‘s stance on nature. Nautre is unstable, mysterious, powerful and cares nothing about us. Volcanic eruptions and meteors crashing are terrible things, but they’re produced by an indifferent world that has no malice. They just happen. Then again, it’s the same world that gives us great food and visual spectacles. There plenty of time when the terrible and beautiful merge – how many dangerous animals are also beauiful?
The series achieves that by the nature of the mushi. They often benefit and harm at the same time, like allowing people to give birth to a person that died. There is always a sense of wonder and mystery surrounding the mushi. Even Ginko, despite his cold demeanor is also startled by them. What people don’t say enough about Mushishi is that this is how fantasy should be done. It’s not like Martin’s world, which is full of details to make it clear and familiar. It’s truly alien and fantastical.
Where the series falls is in all other departments. The series doesn’t put enough effort into the characters and the stories. They exist solely to present the varying mushi. There are films whose purpose is only to deliver a visual experience, so abandoning conventional storytelling can be a smart decision. It’s not here. It’s not just that 26 episodes make you demand more, but that abandoning conventional storytelling doesn’t help the series’ aim.
The series forgets about the ‘men’ in the relationship between men and nature. The characters feel like they have an outer life. The issues spring from life itself – art, marriage, vision – rather than having a guy preventing another guy from Being the Best. There isn’t enough character psychology to make these issues feel important.
The characters are all interchangeable. I kept waiting for a reason why this person is concerned with vision, or this one with marriage. Nothing is pointless in fiction, after all. In order to bring depth to an issue, you need to connect to the character. Something in the character’s personality needs to be related to the issue so it will affect it. A lot of shounen shows know this, so they tend to give a narcisstic nature to their characters. The character doesn’t just struggle with The Problem but with his own nature. Ikki learns to curb his narcissism and stop swinging between it and depression. Tai learns (or is supposed to) how being a leader works.
Despite these two not being the most developed examples, they make for different stories. You couldn’t put Tai in Ikki’s story, because Tai’s personality is concerned with relationships with others. You couldn’t put Ikki in Tai’s story, because his story is about learning that sometimes you lose some and win some. I could not remember a character that had a situation concerned with his personality. They tend to have generic wants and needs, nothing that’s unique to them. They may be ‘ordinary people’, but people are not clones even when they follow patterns. Or if the series wanted to comment on that, then the similarity should’ve been made important. Nothing is there to emphasize how similar humans are. These are just empty characters.
Ginko is not much better. An episodic series isn’t an excuse to have undeveloped characters. They may not change throughout the series, but they need a personality that will affect every story. A lot of Cartoon Network shows are purely episodic, yet they’re full of quirky characters who create the stories because of who they are.
We get a backstory episode for Ginko, but it doesn’t reveal much. What’s his motivation? Why is he so into mushi? How does all this exploring affected his worldview? There are sometimes hints. In one episode, Ginko agrees with what I wrote above about the cruelty of nature. This is just one instant, though. All Ginko does is visit people, help them solve the problem and that’s it.
That makes him a plot device, not a real character. He exists so we’ll have someone to follow, but how different would the series be if it was a random mushishi in every episode? I do not ask to immidiately reveal who Ginko is. If every episode gave a small piece, it would be enough. The collector, who appears from time to time is the only person with something resembling a drive. He’s really into collecting, and values it more than humans. It’s a little touch that makes him more real than anyone here. There are sometimes other mushishi’s who act a little different, but the difference is never wide enough.
It’s a missed oppurtunity, sure, but not one without merits. It’s as original as people say it is, and a good example of how far storytelling can go. It didn’t live up to its concept, but it’s still good that it’s out there and that it found an audience. Hopefully, one of these someone will pick up these ideas and run away with them. It’s a fun series, but one that should be easy to improve.
3.5 mushi out 5
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2. Doraemon (1979)
3. Aria the Animation
4. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
5. Tsubasa Chronicle
6. Fantastic Children
7. Shakugan no Shana
9. Legendz: Yomigaeru Ryuuou Densetsu
10. Wagamama☆Fairy Mirumo de Pon!