They’re the best Anime that 1996 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Gokinjo Monogatari, Kaitou Saint Tail, Jigoku Sensei Nube, and more!
10: Gokinjo Monogatari
English: Neighborhood Stories
MAL Score: 7.54
The protagonist, Kouda Mikako, is a student of “Yaza Gaku”. Specialising in fashion design, Mikako dreams of becoming a fashion designer with her own brand. Living next to her is her childhood friend, Yamaguchi Tsutomu. Even though they have been close since they were young, they share a platonic friendship. However, Tsutomu has been gaining popularity, especially with the girls, because he seems to resemble a popular vocalist from a band and somehow, Mikako begins to see him in a different light. This is a story about how youths cope with dreams, love and friendship.
Well, as much as I am loathed to put labels on what are clearly three-dimensional characters, here we have a show where Ai Yazawa pretty much presented us with what could be a psychological profile of a tsundere before such a term even came to existence. She’s brassy, full of herself and can sometimes be unfairly cruel, but that is just a front she she feels she has to put up in order to shield her vulnerable side.
Yes, it would be convenient to say Mikako is the way she is because of the childhood trauma of a divorce (and what her Mom did afterwards). But alas, the reason behind her disagreeable personality is artistically anticlimatic. That is simply the way she is, as is evident from the flashbacks from her childhood and later when she becomes “honest with herself.” This is the place where I feel the anime succeeds because we become too used to seeing the lead female character who is cutesy, klutsy, timid, moe or whatever stereotype that is supposed to appeal to the regular anime audience. She is truly one of the more variated full-rounded characters you’d find in any narrative.
The main drawback from this show, like a lot of the shoujo anime that aired around that time (Marmalade Boy, Kodocha) is the number of episodes. I really believe they could have more effectively told the story that they presented if they instead aired around half the episodes. Of course I am talking about filler episodes that sometimes introduced inconsistencies (***spoiler****e.g. why would Mikako be unable to sell her wrong-sized clothes at the second flea market if she was able to sell out all those exact same clothes at the first flea market?***spoiler***), but that is a minor quibble compared to the parade of episodes that occupied the middle featuring a love triangle between three supporting characters. They could have easily settled that matter in a handful of episodes, but they stretched it out over at least ten episodes, padding those with situations based on uselessly masochistic self-abnegations so contrived that my suspension of disbelief almost never recovered.
But thankfully, it didn’t overtake the main story of the show, which was the real draw in the first place. It’s clear the creator had a lot of fun with her inaugural anime adaptation and it shows through her somewhat unconventional artwork and character designs. The whole thing sort of reminds me of “Doug”. The animation certainly shows its age, although it’s pretty solid for what was shown at the time. For those who are expecting the quality put into Yazawa’s other two animes by Madhouse Studio, be warned that you’ve been spoiled.
The music, mostly provided by Mikako’s seiyuu Rumi Shishido might be an acquired taste for some (for those who don’t like unsteady singing voices), but it grows on you, at least it did for me. The story, as long as it focuses on the two main characters, is pretty solid-grade work as it navigates you through the ups and downs of a teenage girl trying to cope with her contrary personality. As for enjoyment – well I wouldn’t have spent at least 62 total hours going over the series if I didn’t enjoy it. So in the end it would have received a higher grade for the story and characterization if it weren’t for the mostly repetitive fillers.
What initially drew me to watch this show was the very unique art style. Everything is done completely with flat colors which made me think of ’70s cartoons. It’s definitely a peculiar look, but fits the show to a tea. There’s a perfect balance between being tastefully retro and progressively modern. Thankfully nothing is really lost with having such beautiful artwork either. It’s similar to Sailor Moon in the sense that the art style at its core is so strong and appealing that the limited animation isn’t as much noticeable, though, that’s not to say that it doesn’t also look great in motion, because it does.
But art only nets you so many points in your favor. I could also mention the music which is absolutely phenomenal and so good that it can almost be a little distracting at times. Take that as you will, I see it as a positive. But the characters is where Ai Yazawa shines and Gokinjo Monogatari certainly doesn’t skimp out on that. Despite being one of her earlier manga, it works because it all feels very personal.
Every character in Gokinjo Monogatari is lovable and easy to empathize with. Even if there were a character you didn’t particularly like or connect with at first, I guarantee you’ll grow to love them during one of their episodes. Yes, while there definitely is an on-going narrative, for the most part it’s pretty casual. There definitely is plenty of drama and romance, but it weaves in and out of relevance rather than being the main focus. And in between that you have a string of really wholesome episodes that’ll tug at your heartstrings. These were some of my favorite episodes and really showcases the show’s wide emotional palette.
With that being said, comedy is one thing Gokinjo Monogatari does not prioritize. Most of it comes from cheeky banter between the characters. It’s more charming than anything, but you won’t exactly be laughing out loud. Honestly I kind of like that though. Makes everything feel a lot more genuine. Every scenario feels like it could’ve been directly inspired from the creators’ lives. It creates this very intimate bond between the show and the viewer. Gokinjo Monogatari is something you watch to invest yourself into these characters’ lives. To see this group of friends figuring themselves out through the hard times, but ultimately sticking together out of mutual love for each other. While some moments hit very close to home and and made me feel the same guilt and anxiety as the characters, at the end of the day it encourages self-improvement and shows you that there are people out there for you. Is it anything life-changing? Maybe, maybe not. It’s honestly more reaffirming than anything. Makes me feel more confident in myself. And I think that’s something everybody could appreciate. Regardless of what you get out of this show, it absolutely will stick with you one way or another.
Now I wasn’t too thrilled with seeing the opening of this anime because it looks so old, the characters are drawn in a funny way, none of the female characters have boobs and the music was kind of blah. But, somehow, you get hooked on the show and start to enjoy it without realizing.
Story is great. I love that everyone is in a Art school. Each character has goals and aspirations that are different from typical anime out here so I enjoyed that. Also because I can relate to most of the characters as well. Mikako wants to have her own brand and sell her handmade clothes. Her friends study, work hard and make everything that they by hand to sell at the flee market. It just goes to show that hard work really pays off! There’s a lot of love triangles that takes place in this anime. It might become too much at times but just follow along. Great story. You see the characters unfold when the time is right and you get to learn a lot from this anime too.
Of course the art isn’t all that great but it doesn’t matter because the story and plot is what keeps you watching. Also, I realized that even though the females are drawn a certain way and don’t seem to have womanly features such as breasts, hips and thighs, they are still beautiful in their own way. Especially with the several fashion ideas and clothes they wear. I kind of liked that because you don’t have to draw a busty woman just to make her look sexy. It’s all about the personality of the person, or in this case, the characters.
Many of you aren’t going to like the music. it took me awhile to get used to it but I grew to like it.
I love the characters mainly because it’s a creation of Yazawa Ai. But also since I am a big NANA lover, i like to think that Mikako is Hachi and Risa is Nana, Risa’s boyfriend is Ren and Yuusuke is Takumi.. But that’s just me and my fantasies lol I grew to love all the characters even though some of them annoyed me. Mikako annoyed me through half of the show because she is actually a tsundere character to the fullest. But I learned to appreciate and love her and her personality because most girls go through the same feelings and thoughts. Everyone has thought of something that isn’t true or loved a person so much but couldn’t tell him so you be mean to them for no reason. Or when you see your lover talking to someone else you get jealous. Mikako goes through so many emotions that you learn to love because she is like most people, even yourself. There’s a lot of ups and downs in this anime and in the end, it will be all worth it.
I enjoyed this very much. I liked the story, I liked the characters, I like how creative everything is and the journey of a young girl trying to sell her fashion brand clothes, with the conflicts of relationships and family. Yet she still tries her best to become successful. Her and everyone else in her group. It’s a bitter sweet kind of anime. The one thing I hate about this anime is the filler episodes and the constant flashbacks. Sometimes it would be so long and so repetitive that it can take up half of an episode! So, its ok when you know when to skip a few minutes but all in all its a pretty good watch.
I was going to rate it a 7 at first but after finishing the show and looking back on it, the story was really great. Especially for an anime back in the 90s with a story like this. I really enjoyed it and to everyone that has seen Paradise Kiss, please watch this anime and watch Paradise Kiss again. You will enjoy it 10xs more because now you fully understand each character and the message being sent about women, aspirations and goals, and conflict with love and family. Thank You.
9: Kaitou Saint Tail
English: Mysterious Thief Saint Tail
Japanese: 怪盗セイント テール
MAL Score: 7.54
Meimi Haneoka, 14, is a normal girl during the daytime, but during the night, she assumes the “position” of Saint Tail, a modern-day Robin Hood who steals from thieves and gives items back to their original owners. She is aided by her friend, Seira Mimori, a nun-in-training, and she is chased by her classmate (and soon-to-be love interest), Daiki Asuka (often called “Asuka Jr.”).
Meimi, of course, is Saint Tail and the young detective trying to catch her is her classmate Asuka Jr. You\’ll have to suspend your disbelief with this one as one impossibility after another keep Saint Tail out of the cops\’ grasp. And another thing – it\’s not as if she actually hurt anybody. Who will persecute someone who steals somebody\’s running shoes and return them to the original owner, anyway?
But as I said, you won\’t really dwell that much on the robberies. Like me, you\’ll probably get hooked on Meimi and Asuka Jr. and waiting for the moment that Asuka Jr. finally catches Saint Tail. Lighthearted and cute, this anime is definitely one of my favorite classics.
like 2 episodes for themselves so I give character a 9. 10 for enjoyment I loved this show so much I reached it immediately, yes a 44 episode show. You may be wondering why I left Story for last, well mostly because it’s the shortest but a complex woven tale. This show really centers around the love story between Meimi and Asuka Jr. this is not a only because it is well established in the first episode there seems to be nothing that stands in the way of these feelings. Knowing this before the watching bears no harmful results on ones enjoyment because this show is a love story woven throughout and everything else is merely a backdrop for it to grow. To quote Shakespeare: Life is but a game, men and women, merely players.
8: Jigoku Sensei Nube
MAL Score: 7.54
Nube is a clumsy, easygoing, and very kind teacher, but he has a secret under his glove on the left hand. He has a monster hand, and he also has the ability to sense ghosts and evil spirits. So he protects his dear students from these evil spirits with his monster hand, proving to be very powerful.
Basically, it’s a school story with all the weird and scary things you wish could happen to you in a real school, that is, if you’re into ghosts and that kind of stuff.
Hell Teacher Nube is an anime about a schoolteacher with a demon claw in the place of his right hand, which he covers with a black glove, and all the hilarious and touching and sometimes just weird adventures he has with his students as what seems like the entire pantheon of Japanese lower mythology causes havoc in their school and town.
Nube and the students deal with ghosts, UFO’s, youkai, oni, doppelgangers, curses…you name it, they’ll take care of it.
Urban legends are also incorporated into the episodes…spirits of suicides in bathrooms, ghosts appearing in photographs, odd gods…
What else could you want in a supernatural school anime?
The best part of this anime are the stories. When I watched it, the wonder of all the crazy creatures and the wacky characters was a lot of fun. But what hooked me was that it was my first foray into Japanese superstitious culture. The stories are absolutely great!
Nube is an elementary school teacher who has an Oni sealed into his left hand. During his role as a teacher, he develops a great relationship with his students vowing to always protect them from danger. This is constantly proven when his precious students are attacked by ghosts, yokai, & other supernatural demons. While the series is episodic, it later adds more characters such as Yukime the snow demon & Tamamo a fox sorcerer which increases the quality of the anime.
Episodes contain a blend of comedy & horror, however sometimes its focus will be more on horror which can be very disturbing at times.(Ep31 & 44) Other episodes can be more comedy based or either touch upon an important morality lesson which tend to be some of the better episodes such as ep28 being about xmas. It should also be noted that the main character can vary every episode as some are focused on Nube while others are based on his students.
One of the highlights of this series is Nube himself as he a shonen hero in every respect and is a well written character who shifts from a wise mentor to a comedic love crazed buffoon. I should mention that a love triangle forms in the anime which intentionally was done for laughs but towards the end of the series becomes a very serious subject.
Overall, Hell Teacher Nube delivers in entertainment at times being a much darker version of Goosebumps. It may have a monster of the week formula but it’s not a battle series & provides much more content as a whole. Examples include some of its dramatic storytelling and the good nature of people such as eps (20 &34 aka Nube’s origin) or possibly the best heart touching episodes being 47 & 48. It may take some time to getting into, but you may end up loving this anime. Whenever you finish the anime, I recommend to watching the 2nd movie & the OVAs. The OVA episodes are actually cannon, being based on much later manga chapters with its final episode being the best way to finish the anime series.
Hell Teacher Nube is a supernatural/yokai episodic “monster of the week” show from the mid-90s that is flying under the radar of most anime fans nowadays since it was never really a hit in the first place back then, and as most of the titles that fail to generate a solid initial impact, it couldn’t avoid the fate of being forgotten in time. Debuting in the same year Neon Genesis Evangelion sent bittersweet shockwaves with its controversial last 2 episodes, Rurouni Kenshin became the new fighting shounen attraction after Dragon Ball was quickly running out of steam with Dragon Ball GT, Detective Conan started building its empire drawing the attention of the ones interested in mysteries, the Slayers franchise was getting stronger in the fantasy genre with its second installment (Next), and Sailor Moon, the most iconic and popular magical girl show from the 90s, was saying goodbye with its final season (Stars), among other competent shows that made their debuts in 1996, there was hardly any room left for a fully episodic and simple show like this (which also had to face direct competition in the supernatural genre with the more well-known and established GeGeGe no Kitarou (1996) household series) to make itself a relevant name both in Japan and the West.
I first knew about this show back in 2007, when a local anime specialized TV station started airing it after midnight and I used some of its episodes as background television while I was finishing some of my homework and was preparing myself to sleep, never really paying much attention to it and consequently remembering virtually nothing besides the visuals, character designs and the catchy J-rock opening theme. But there was something about its captivating, youthfully-sinister atmosphere that after all these years did manage to stuck in my mind that encouraged me to revisit it now, 11 years later, with complete dedication. And I have to say that -despite its simplicity- it has been quite a pleasant surprise, and that it’s truly worth the try for those who have no troubles watching old shows with dim colors, simple characters and an episodic monster-of-the-week structure. Watching it has been such a delightful experience, that I just can’t help to try to increase its low awareness levels.
The argument: it follows the paranormal adventures of Meisuke “Nube” Nueno, a kind, funny, lovable and young teacher at Domori elementary school who since birth had an abnormal sensibility to perceive evil ghosts and demons from the spiritual “yokai” world (a faculty that made him an easy target to them and allowed him to evetually become a demon connoisseur and a demon slayer) and the 5th grade naughty students he has in charge, with whom he develops a very close, warm and trustworthy relationship, to the point that he even gets permanently and tenderly bullied by them. Due to a tragic incident (which is told with details in one of the later episodes) before becoming a teacher in that school, he managed to seal a powerful demon in his left hand, which turned it into a monstrous-looking one and which he has to cover with a black glove in order to not reveal his true nature and frighten the people around him. This sealing granted him the ability to fight other demons with said hand, since the power of that demon is at his disposal there.
I have to say that the “horror” tag this show has is kind of misleading. Though it’s about ghosts and demons attacks, it is really not scary or uneasy to watch at all. You don’t watch this to feel frightened, to feel that suspense that true horror works stimulate. No episode will really have you on the edge of your seat nor covering your eyes from shock. It is after all very kid-friendly, there’s no gore, no raw scenes and no body parts flying through the air. There is blood, but nothing that terrible or excessive, and virtually the whole time from the teacher’s part, never from the kids, who are only threatened by the supernatural entities and never physically hurt, so no edgy and cheap child torture here. The tone is really very light, innocent and with lots of goofy comedy the whole time, though it occasionally gets more serious.
As an episodic, “monster of the week” show, most episodes are pretty formulaic with an autoconclusive story; one or some of the students of the class will face –in a certain context- the threat of a yokai world entity (ghost, demon, monster, etc.) that will take advantage of a particular weakness, insecurity, moral fault or dark inner sentiment those children have in order to scare them. When the entity is about to make his act, Nube appears, confronts it and ends up slaying it with the power of the demon he has in his left hand, saving his students in the process, something he is happy to do since he believes it is his mission in this world to protect them from their attacks. Everyone celebrate at the end and the kids learn from the mistakes that allowed the creatures to attack them in the first place.
Despite being formulaic, the episodes still show variety in focus, relevance and tone. Some are very light, while some others are more intense and/or heavy. Some are more relevant than the rest, in the sense that they tackle the backstory and some mild character progression of the characters. Some are just to have simple fun, others to leave substantial moral messages. Some are more disturbing or creepy than the others, or even thought-provoking, like one which involves an artificial biology-class mannequin that started to develop a soul inside and started considering himself as a real normal human being with genuine feelings, a situation that made the class feel uneasy and that led them to face a moral dilemma and to take questionable decisions. And while teacher Nube is the main character and the ones who saves the day, not all the attention is put into him; the show does a good job in giving every character of the class a fair share of focus in terms of number of episodes centered around them (including Nube himself).
Speaking about the characters, they are not realistic and most of them are stereotypical. Nube himself represents a virtuous and beloved shounen hero that will protect the ones he loves no matter the costs. Hiroshi, the main character from the children, is a naughty, hyperactive but kindhearted and brave boy, who likes playing football and has lots of friends. Kyoko is an insecure, neurotic but grounded girl everyone likes to bully (I’d say she’s the most interesting among the children because she is the most mature and can see and analyze the situations they face with an adult perspective). There’s also a malicious girl who likes to gossip and brag of her early developed breasts, an innocent, righteous boy, a spoiled rich kid and a delinquent, among others. But being an unambitious formulaic show, I don’t see any trouble in this. You never come to this type of shows expecting realism and lots of character development and stuff. However, this doesn’t mean they are totally static throughout all of the show’s run. As said before, some of the terrifying incidents with the ghosts make the kids learn important life lessons and grow up as human beings, which is effective.
Anyway, watching all these characters interact, having fun with their teacher and living all those thrilling and mysterious ghost adventures in their own school and surroundings is truly the main appeal of the show and precisely why you come for it, because in all honesty, who wouldn’t have liked to live all this during their elementary school days? Scary and everything, supernatural and paranormal activity has always been a subject that has awakened the interest of people trapped in a boring, mundane daily life, even more in kids discovering the world they live in. And this show really delivers in dragging you to those times when you were a kid fascinated with ghost stories. It appeals to that child wish most of us had of living fun and adventurous supernatural experiences along with our friends and classmates. It does an excellent job in making you wish you would have lived all that to make your school life way more entertaining and memorable, in company of an unorthodox, funny, young and close teacher everyone loves that wasn’t just that typical distant person you treat with a lot of respect and fear looking from below.
The art irradiates a particular charm hard to describe that makes this so addictive and the atmosphere so obscurely lovely. The color palette is colorful enough to not give this image of something that is trying to sell itself as very dark and serious but rather kid-friendly and at the same time dull enough to print in the viewer this absorbing feeling of people being menaced by creatures sneaking from the shadows, especially when action takes place at nights. It perfectly suits the overall tone and direction of the show. Anyway, you just have to see it to understand, it’s kind of hard to do so with cold words. All I’m going to add here is that this youthfully sinister and haunting feel is something that you just dont see very often in modern anime with digital coloring and shading techniques and that cel-animation had an advantage when it comes to this matter.
To conclude, Hell Teacher Nube is a show that, while nothing special in regards of being an episodic show which follows a monster of the week formula, it’s still a show with a fascinating, obscure-but-innocent charm, able to delight and entertain almost effortlessly given it’s likable cast, easy-to-watch condition and absorbing atmosphere. Besides, it is also educative, you can use it to learn a lot from Japanese folklore. And while it obviously won’t work for people who have a hard time getting into monster-of-the-week shows, I believe that those who don’t have troubles with them will find this show to be an overall gratifying experience that is worth the try. 7/10.
Some additional tips/comments:
Being episodic, you don’t really “have to” watch every single of its 48 episodes to understand it and you can skip some of them. However, episodes 20 and 34 are essential, since they tackle the past of the main character and explain more who he is and why he feels he has the mission to protect kids from the attack of ghosts. And if you really want to feel the whole emotional impact the heartbreaking last 2 episodes provide, I’d say it is indeed necessary to have watched the whole show so said impact can in fact, materialize in you.
As a show dealing with ghosts with a gloomy, somber (but still innocent) feel, it is highly recommendable to watch it at nights, and ideally inside your bed. That way you will be able to get more immersed in its exquisit and haunting atmosphere, which is precisely the idea when watching a show like this! The same way you enjoyed more scary shows like “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” or “Tales from the Crypt” when you watched them surrounded by the mysterious and menacing feel of the night rather than by the clarity-safety feel of daylight. The feel of this show is such that it just doesn’t work much if watched during the day.
The show gets a little pervy sometimes. You will see some boys conveniently falling into women breasts, some nosebleeds, the teacher fantasizing with naked women, and what may be probably the most annoying issue, an 11 year old girl bragging about her early developed boobs. There’s also an episode where a teenage girl literally suffers from spontaneous body incinerations that burn her clothes leaving her totally naked in front of everyone. But as most of the 80s/90s shows with raunchy stuff, all this is used for more comical rather than erotic purposes, so it’s really nothing that annoying. But if you categorically can’t stand the inclusion of this type of moments in shows involving kids, then it would be better to not try this show.
7: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS
English: Sailor Moon SuperS
Japanese: 美少女戦士セーラームーン Super S
MAL Score: 7.60
SuperS centers heavily on Chibi-usa and the Sailor Team. A new enemy, the Dead Moon Circus, has now appeared. Their motive is to find the Golden Dream Mirror that would be used to rule the world. To do this, the enemy attacks innocent victims for their Dream Mirrors and test their energy. Chibi-usa also has a new ally on her side, Pegasus. This season also sees the Sailor Senshi obtaining new powers.
Story: The story is, I’ll grant not as involved as the other arcs. And the fact that we know Chibi Usa has Pegasus right off the bat kills some of the suspense. SuperS is often criticized for being too light and cutesy. But even though most of the episodes are filler, as with the rest of Sailor Moon, they are rarely boring. It is lighter, but we just had S, arguably the darkest season in the series, and we’re about to get into Stars, which is also very heavy on the angst. SuperS is a welcome intermission. Some of the episodes are very funny, such as when Usagi stalks Rei and Mamoru as the red ninja of love, or when Minako dates two of the villains simultaneously. I also like that it focuses on Chibi Usa, she really comes into her own. She also gets her own romance with Helios, which I think is the sweetest relationship in all of Sailor Moon.
Art: I’m not a big art person. The art is I think better than the earlier seasons, but it’s Sailor Moon. You don’t watch it for it’s animation merit.
Sound: The Japanese voices are wonderful as always. The English is…yeah. Though I will say Helios’ dub voice is really sexy. The score is top-notch, I think SuperS has the best music. Lots of new pieces.
Character: The Inners all develop a bit, Usagi really doesn’t but oh well. Chibi Usa is the one who goes through the most change, SuperS for her is like what Classic was for Usagi. And um, there’s Helios, who is awesome!
Enjoyment: It’s fun to watch, really. I swear.
Overall: I wish this season wasn’t written off so much. It has some wonderful qualities. I never tire of it. I highly recommend you at least give it a try!
While the manga of the SuperS arc gave Chiba Mamoru his due spotlight, the anime version utterly refuses him of this. Chiba Mamoru is once again left to linger in the background of every story (virtually absent in the Star season to come) while Chibi-Usa is given yet again way too much screen time.
The SuperS anime focuses on Chibi-Usa, as if an entire S season of her friendship with Tomoe Hotaru wasn’t enough. Unless you love Chibi-Usa (to DEATH) this may not bother you. Just warning, almost every episode has Chibi-Usa piping in it.
The art value changes randomly throughout this series. Some episodes are of excellent quality but many of them revert back to the cheap animation of Sailormoon R (part I, Doom Tree).
As for sound, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is consistant in its good soundtrack, but this season offers almost nothing new.
When it comes to Character Development, an Inner Senshi may have one episode them seems to be about them (namely, when Tiger-eye, Hawk-eye or Fish-eye persues them) but otherwise such expectations go unfulfilled.
The Enjoyment level is Poor due to all the reasons listed above. I for one hate Chibi-Usa and find the entire series grating, frustrating and poor quality. Overall, however, there is some goodness to be gleaned, like the progression of Sailormoon’s powers as well as the Inner Senshi and the knowledge that we won’t have to put up with Chibi-usa anymore in Stars.
Story: One thing that annoyed me about this season, is also an annoying point that the anime did to the first, and Stars seasons. They left out a lot of important manga plot elements. It would have been a much more worthy season if had shown those details instead of leaving them out. It was a cute season, regardless.
Art: I absolutely love how they made Pegasus look artistically. Every one of his appearances had a magical essence to it, so art-wise this season was pretty good.
Sound: No big deal in sound either in this season. No groundbreaking music, a lot of soft melodies were played throughout most of it, so it had a serene feel to it. Not horrible, but not amazing either. The voices though of Pegasus and Nehenlenia were top-notch.
Character: Although I’m not much of a Mini Moon fan, the new character of Pegasus/Helios was a great addition, and actually made me like Mini Moon’s character more. Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask were hilarious acting as parents, but other than that, the main leads weren’t exactly main in this season. It’s all about Mini Moon this time.
Enjoyment: I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I would have loved if this season were more like the manga’s story-line instead of just Mini Moon being the main focus. Tuxedo Mask’s origin story was prominent in the manga, instead it was only referenced in this the anime season. The same applies to the quartet villains, who also didn’t get their origin or outcome in the anime explained.
Overall: This season wasn’t the absolute best season, but still it’s worth watching for it’s cute scenes, and romance.
6: Fushigi Yuugi
English: Mysterious Play
MAL Score: 7.63
While visiting the National Library, junior-high students Miaka Yuuki and Yui Hongo are transported into the world of a mysterious book set in ancient China, “The Universe of The Four Gods.” Miaka suddenly finds herself with the responsibility of being the priestess of Suzaku, and must find all of her celestial warriors for the purpose of summoning Suzaku for three wishes; however, the enemy nation of the god Seiryuu has manipulated Yui into becoming the priestess of Seiryuu. As enemies, the former best friends begin their long struggle to summon their respective gods and obtain their wishes…
Each character for the most part has their own unique use and contribution to the story and they are presented in ways you get to know them. The characters or heck, maybe even one character will grow on you as you watch from start to finish. I would explain this, but it would be a significant spoiler, and if you’ve seen this anime, you know what I’m talking about. Whether that character is good or bad, you’ll love them. Hell, my favorite character Nakago is the primary antagonist and even Yuu Watase, the original manga-ka has admitted that Nakago is her favorite character.
The anime will hopefully satisfy men and women. The story overall is very diverse with its appeal, but it went a little longer than it should have, but it ends in a way where everything is resolved and the characters wonderfully develop. It has romance, adventure, excitement, comedy and action, which I will further get into. However, what will annoy male and female alike is the interaction between Tamahome and Miaka when they really get romantic with each other. It kind of drags and we don’t need that much hugging even if we can appreciate how much they love each other.
Well, the character design today doesn’t really stand out in comparison to most shoujo out there for the most part. The costume designs are a little flamboyant for the setting, but even so, they still compliment the character designs very well where it helps make them stand out a bit more. The action is well coordinated, technical and raw which will appeal to male viewers. The city settings captures the heart of ancient China very captivatingly and truly represents their culture at that time period where they gathered to worship the emperor. However, with the modern day settings, you get a different approach to the school uniform with the blazer and ribbon design you see in lets say Evangelion, than the more mainstream sailor uniform which I thought was unique to anime in the mid-1990s with Magic Knight Rayearth and Sailor Moon being the rage back then with those designs, so its nice to see something different. It is also unique to point out in the real world in Fushigi Yuugi, nobody has crazy color hair, but in the book, you got the typical crazy color anime hair which was somewhat of the intention of Watase and the staff at Studio Pierrot. So overall, the art may be descent, but the character design 100% stand out, but the action, costumes, and scenery makes up for it.
The dub of Fushigi Yuugi does have some credible names, but I don’t think the dub was good. First off, Tamahome is played by David Hayter who you may know as the voice of Solid Snake from MGS. When you hear that voice in relation to Tamahome’s image, it just doesn’t match. He makes Tamahome sound gruffy, though it’s not the voice he uses for Solid Snake, but when he does scream, he does scream like Snake. This kind of casting is to me, for the sake of casting a big name and you’re giving him a character he’s not appropriate for. However, this was a role I thought perfectly suited his Japanese counterpart, Midorikawa Hikaru, the voice of Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing, and Rukawa from Slam Dunk. Granted Midorikawa has played character opposite from Tamahome, he had a different kind of cool that Snake has, but he still has that passion and soft side that really captures him. As a matter of fact, Watase actually wanted him to play Tamahome because he had him in mind when he created the character.
I also enjoyed Kae Araki the voice of Sailor Chibi Moon as Miaka. She does sound annoying with her high-pitched voice, but it was at a certain tone where it really captured the character with all of these emotions whether sad, happy, concerned, or excited. And Seki Tomokazu, my 2nd favorite seiyuu who has played Miyata in Hajime no Ippo, Domon in G Gundam, Kamui in X The Movie, and many others was great as Chichiri, my 2nd favorite character. He is so multi-talented and he demonstrates it very well when you get to know his character more. Overall, the cast is just top notch and they all have great chemistry. Even though the romantic tension between Tamahome and Miaka gets annoying, their seiyuus truly make it believable.
The opening theme song Itoshii Hito no Tame Ni does open with this more traditional approach and then at the right moment, transitions to a more energetic J-Pop song. It’s very unique to me because it captures the cultural and romantic atmosphere of the series. And the ending theme Tokimeki Doukasen has a different kind of energy that is generic but still catchy and semi sexually suggestive in a more innocent sense. The background music is well orchestrated in every sense. Such as traditional Chinese music, more traditional cinematic.
Anyway, I think this is an anime I believe you should try to give a chance even if it may not be your taste. There are all kinds of good qualities this anime has that does make up for its bad ones. Even so, the bad qualities are still there but if you concentrate and stick to what you like, you’ll forget about them. I remember during the days of VHS fansubs, I used to talk to people who cried watching this series. It has all of these great themes such as love, friendship, loyalty, and betrayal and they are presented in a very realistically approachable manner. And believe me, there are moments where you might and I’m not ashamed to admit I have watching this series. The only anime that has achieved me to react like this since is the Kimura vs Mashiba oav of Hajime no Ippo.
Although it is one of my favorite series, there are some parts that to me are considered unsatisfactory. I feel a bit sorry for Chiriko because he was one of the lesser important seishis (the other would be Mitsukake). I am not a fan of Chiriko or Mitsukake, but I do think that they could’ve used more screen time.
I also noticed some discrepancies. It could be due to translation errors, but I’ll say it anyway. There was an episode where Keisuke and Tetsuya go to the Genbu shrine. They went there to see the Byakko miko. One question: why is the Byakko miko in the Genbu and not the Byakko shrine?
I have to mention that I watched the english dubbed version, because I found certain voice dubbers annoying. I hate Tomo’s voice – it is the most annoying voice I have ever heard in my life. Whoever thought of making Tomo’s voice sound that way was nuts and should be locked up in an asylum. Miaka was also a bit annoying. I cringe whenever she would cry out Tamahome’s name.
And now for the positives. I love the story – I think it is well thought of. It was able to mix in elements such as love, friendship, deceit, war, etc. into something really decent and worth watching. I first watched the show 6 years ago, and when I watched it again last month I find myself obsessed once more.
The visuals weren’t bad either – although I can’t say if I prefer seeing genitals on Yui and Miaka. Seeing naked people is bad enough. However, the show is filled with bishonens throughout the show. My personal favorite is Nuriko of course. He is my god. The wonderful art shown at the end of the show via the ending theme was beautifully made and I never grew tired of it.
The music wasn’t bad – most of it were mid 90s music, so I can’t say I’m a huge fan of it. I do like the ending song, "Tokimeki no Doukasen". It’s another one of those nostalgic song for me – everytime I hear it I can’t help but feel reminiscent of the year when I first watched Fushigi Yuugi. Some of the insert songs weren’t bad either. Again they were mid 90s styled, but they’re not so bad. I did get tired of the opening song after a while. Hearing "Maiagare Suzaku" for more than 10 times tends to get on my nerves.
I think one reason why the show was suspended on Filipino free TV was because of mild sex and vulgar language. This is definitely not for kids, but I would say it is a must – see for the 16+ crowd (mostly because I saw the show when I was 16).
Fushigi Yuugi: The Mysterious Play, is about a 15 year old girl Miaka Yuuki, and her best friend Yui Hongo. Miaka and Yui are in the library when Miaka sees a mysterious bird lead her to the restricted room of the library. There, Miaka finds a mysterious book, and her and Yui are pulled into the world. Miaka and Yui meet a mysterious man who saves them from slave traders, but Yui is thrown back out of the book, and the man has left, leaving Miaka all alone in this Ancient Chinese world. Miaka meets with the man again, and they end up at the palace, and through circumstances, Miaka is charged with the duty to gather together the seven senshi of Suzaku, and save Konan from destruction!
I know that makes no sense, but in a nutshell, Miaka fell into Konan, an Ancient Chinese world, where the whole world lives on the idea of the Four Gods in Chinese Mythology. Miaka is in the south, where Suzaku, the Red Bird (Pheonix in some translations) protects the country. Each God has 7 constellations (or in this case, the 7 senshi). So the constellations have taken the form of 7 warriors, and Miaka needs to gather them to summon Suzaku, who will grant her 3 wishes.
The animation itself is smooth, and well done, until about the second season (ep 27+) where the animation seems to take a bit of a plunge at times. The colouring is also very vibrant at times, but others, it’s very muddy looking, and monotone, because everything seems to be in the brown colour tone, except the hair of Miaka’s senshi. The most remarkable thing in the animation, however, is the eyes. When the animators but their mind to it, they draw some beautiful, bright, colourful eyes.
The music in this falls into an olden style theme, mostly Chinese sounding. However, they have their theme, and ending theme that do not fit that theme. And one thing you need to know about Fushigi Yuugi, is if you want to hear more of it’s music, be prepared for trumpets. Lots of trumpets.
Anyways, the theme song is fairly slow at first, but then seems to almost have dance feel to it. It’s nothing remarkable. The ending theme, however, is a dance song, but also has a fairly sad tone to it, fitting the series well, I feel.
The voices, English and Japanese, I have to mention, are wonderful. I love it in both languages. The voices fit the parts perfectly.
There is a whirlwind of characters. Be prepared to remember some names. The main characters are essentially Miaka, Yui, Tamahome, and Nakago, but you have the supporting cast (that consists of atleast 12 senshi, only including the Suzaku and Seiryuu), and about 13 more characters I can name off the top of my head.
While most characters have well-done development, because of the mass amount of characters, some of these character appear almost personality-less, most notably two of Miaka’s senshi, Chiriko and Mitsukake, and two of the Seriyuu senshi, Tomo and Miboshi (I’m not counting Ashitare because he practically never talks, and well… if you want to sure, he has no personality I suppose). Watase herself never really developed these characters, so they continue to suffer, even onto OAV’s, and even in their songs. But for the characters she does focus on, they are all very different, and it’s not hard to pick a favourite.
For all the bad things I have said, this series has an amazing fanbase, and I personally think it has high replay value. Everytime you watch the series, you find something you missed, but I remember the first time I saw this, and I was an addict, most literally. I couldn’t wait for them to release the next VHS (and boy did they have alot… 14). I know of people that do dislike this series, but for the most part, everyone has something about this they liked, and it usually lies in the characters themselves, particularily the senshi.
C’mon, for a series that spawned so much merchandise, character songs, OAV’s, etc, how can it not be enjoyable?
Well yeah, the OAV’s aren’t enjoyable, but the series itself is fun to watch over and over again.
Overall / My Comments / My Feelings
The story is a bit different from the manga, and justifies this beginning a bit more. Miaka and Yui are pulled in to the book world, but they both return (in the anime, it’s only Yui). Miaka gets in an agruement with her mother, and runs back to the library, getting pulled into the book again to set her free of the pressures of her real life. The manga honestly has a stronger beginning, and gives you more sympathy for Miaka as the protagonist.
Even though my above comments aren’t the best, this is me looking at it critically. If you don’t, and just watch it for enjoyment, I can guarentee anyone who loves the romance genre of anime will like this.
Yes, Miaka and Tamahome can be terribly annoying. They are my least favourite characters after all… But the first time I watched the series, I LOVED those two, it’s just been 9 years since my first watching, and I’ve developed a series dislike for their constant crying for each other.
I know I sound negative, but I do recommend this series to anyone. Anyone. It’s a classic, and for it’s time, it was an incredibly original plot. (Yes, we know in Inu Yasha that Kagome travels between worlds, however, Fushigi Yuugi predates Inu Yasha quite a few years. Fy being originally published in the ’92 region and manga, while Rumiko was making Ranma 1/2 still at that time (she published the first Ranma in ’93) so it’s not possible that InuYasha could be more original than FY, because it wasn’t made at the same time. It’s possible Rumiko could have gotten ideas at that point (I can’t find the year for InuYasha)).
ANYWAYS, just watch Fushigi Yuugi. I’m going so off track here, because I like talking about how original the series is, and how much I love the characters. (Me? I’m a Tasuki fangirl)
5: Hana yori Dango
English: Hana Yori Dango
MAL Score: 7.67
Makino Tsukushi, a girl who comes from a poor family, just wants to get through her two last years at Eitoku Gakuen quietly. But once she makes herself known by standing up for her friend to the F4, the four most popular, powerful, and rich boys at the school, she gets the red card: F4’s way of a “Declaration of War.” But when she doesn’t let herself be beaten by them and is starting to fall for one of the F4, Hanazawa Rui, she starts to see that there is more than meets the eye…
The premise starts out in a way that you wouldn’t expect much romance to develop from. Tsukushi Makino is a middle to lower middle class student at an exclusive high school attended by mainly wealthy students. Tsukushi is not particularly happy with her high school life nor does she really even want to be at this school. But she attends because of her parent’s insistence and because they have sacrificed a lot to send her there. The school is controlled by the F4, a gang of 4 guys from extremely rich and powerful families. Basically the entire school lives in fear of getting on their bad side and getting the “red card”, which basically means your school life becomes hell on earth until you transfer out. Tsukushi goes about her day just trying to be unnoticed until she graduates, leading a fairly miserable existence. This all changes when the only real friend has accidently incurs the wraith of the F4, she jumps to her defense and finds herself given the red card. But she’s not the kind of girl who’s going to back down and she declares war back on the F4 herself. As Tsukushi fights back and starts to gain the respect of many classmates and even begins to befriend the F4 and we learn that they are not quite as bad as initially thought.
I found the story to be quite moving and powerful and found myself experiencing the full range of emotions. The portrayal of the bullying, which becomes quite intense at times was often very difficult to watch. There will be times you will cringe and times when you will jump out of your chair and cheer. Eiktoku High School may just be one of the 4 or 5 worst places on earth. It truly was a hell on earth and it doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture of high society and the people who populate it. I’m not sure I would have had to strength of character Tsukushi had to stick things out and not let them win. It’s difficult to talk about the romance aspects of this anime without giving away spoilers. Though it will become pretty obvious fairly early where they are going and who she’s going to end up with. The journey to this revelation though is quite the ride. The ending differs completely from the manga version, since this anime was completed several years before its run had finished. Despite the original ending it is still very satisfying and believable.
Tsukushi Makino emerges as perhaps the best shoujo heroine of all time. I really cannot give her enough praise for how I felt about her as a character and how much I would love to have a friend like her. She is tough, practical and no-nonsense type of girl in a world full of shallow materialistic bitches. Viewers will be drawn to her both her likeable nature and the sheer torture she has to endure over the course of the series. The things that are done to her and the torment she is put through are both frightening and inspiring. Seeing the events of the story told through her inner monologue made me feel even more connected to the plot and her emotions felt even more intense because of it. Though perhaps she is in the end a bit more forgiving than I personally would be if I was in her place, she is overall a very inspirational character.
Tsukasa Domyoji is the leader of the F4 and one of Tsukushi’s love interests. He has all the classic elements of a shoujo love interest. He’s fabulously wealthy, handsome, and an asshole. I have mixed feelings on him. Initially he is an extremely frightening character. His menacing demeanor and the adjunct terror that Tsukushi often feels in his presence makes him initially almost impossible to like at all. However as the series progresses he becomes less and less the horrible boogeyman he begins as and actually turns into a decent and even sympathetic human being. While I tried my best to keep hating him, he wore me down not unlike Tsukushi into believing someone could actually fall in love with him. As a character, Tsukasa makes a huge amount of growth. He changes from selfish and egotistical brat into a much more humble and likeable guy while still maintaining the essence of who he is.
Rui is another member of F4 and another main love interest. He is almost the complete opposite of the hotheaded Tsukasa. While still from an enormously wealthy family and suitably good looking, Rui is far more introverted and shy. I liked him far more at first than any of the other men in the cast but he really isn’t any nicer that Tsukasa is. While not physically violent his cold nature and inconsistency in when he does or doesn’t jump to Tsukushi’s defense doesn’t exactly win him any feminist awards. My feelings for him are pretty much the reverse of what I felt for Tsukasa. By the end of the series I grew tired of his personality and while he does manage to change a little, his nature just gets more and more annoying. He was also just a bit too bishie for me.
Most of the remaining supporting cast is pretty detestable. The two remaining members of F4, Akira and Sojiro are not very well developed as characters being their basic personality archetypes and never emerge as serious love interests. Tsukushi’s childhood friend Kazuya is likeable and provides comic relief, often at times when the story can really use some. While he is in love with Tsukushi he is more of a friend to her and he provides her with a much needed friend at times when she really needs one. Shizuka also is one of the rare decent characters who also provides Tsukushi with plenty of support and encouragement in times of need. There are plenty of absolutely spoiled rotten waste of skin bitches and assholes to get mad about. But despite the anger you’re likely to feel every time one of them appears on screen or plots against the heroine they do serve a useful purpose in the growth of the main characters and in the development of the romances.
Given the age of this series the animation and visuals are understandably dated. Unfortunately they are bad enough that it’s possible that it will discourage some people all together from even giving this series a chance. That is a real shame. While I can’t say that I loved the artwork, I did eventually develop some appreciation for it as the series progressed. The color palette used is very drab and the hairstyles and fashions are also extremely dated. The character designs are true to the manga and are realistic body types which adds to the overall sense of realism. The settings and backgrounds though are strength are all look pretty good.
The audio is also a bit of a mixed bag. While the voice acting performances are all top notch, I didn’t much care for the music at all, especially the lame and uninteresting OP animation sequence. The incidental and background music is also very dated.
Ultimately Hana Yori Dango is a series that should not be missed by serious romance and anime fans alike. It’s a very intense series likely to stir up just about every emotion there is for the viewer. Though as much as I loved Tsukushi and the story, I just can’t give this series the perfect score I wanted to because of the uninspired art and music. I highly recommend it.
The characters are fully developed and you really start to put yourself in their shoes once you get to know them better. While some of the storylines can be a bit farfetched, there’s just enough balance of drama, romance, and comedy to draw you in. The storylines have so many twists that you’ll never be bored while watching this series.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for an anime packed with drama, romance, comedy, and interesting plots and characters, this is the anime for you. If you are more concerned with pretty animation and good OSTs, you should look elsewhere.
This anime, while old with older art, was amazing for me. I had been feeling like I hadn’t seen a good romance in a while and what brought my attention to it was a review that had said it “restored their faith in the romance genre”
The main characters while childish and obnoxious at the start slowly seem to develop into mature-ish young adults. Starting with Makino, throughout the anime she is rather stubborn, naive and headstrong. She is a strong female character that faces many emotional trials, while struggling with her life she manages to overcome everything relatively well. Her character has been constructed in a way that places you in her position, withering away in fear when she does or feeling happy when she does.
The F4 boys that she stands up against also go through changes as well, making you cringe and want to pull your hair out. There are many things that could be said about the things they do wrong and right, however, overall they are young boys going through school with emotions and things that a normal person could not understand.
The story was captivating and by the first episode I wanted to know more and see more. It was an anime with life and has many lessons in it. It addresses bullying and other themes that high school comes with, and was easy to relate to.
I enjoyed Hana Yori Dango a lot more than I thought I would and I managed to watch it in two days, days off work spent well in my opinion. I felt extremely satisfied with it and the way it ended. There were times were I couldn’t help but laugh along with the characters. The anime came alive to me, it became a real thing and I wanted to give Makino a good slap every now and then. There was not one moment I wanted to give up on it and not one moment I wasn’t entertained.
I give it an overall score of 9/10
4: Tenkuu no Escaflowne
English: The Vision of Escaflowne
MAL Score: 7.68
Hitomi Kanzaki is just an ordinary 15-year-old schoolgirl with an interest in tarot cards and fortune telling, but one night, a boy named Van Fanel suddenly appears from the sky along with a vicious dragon. Thanks to a premonition from Hitomi, Van successfully kills the dragon, but a pillar of light appears and envelopes them both. As a result, Hitomi finds herself transported to the world of Gaea, a mysterious land where the Earth hangs in the sky.
In this new land, Hitomi soon discovers that Van is a prince of the Kingdom of Fanelia, which soon falls under attack by the evil empire of Zaibach. In an attempt to fight them off, Van boards his family’s ancient guymelef Escaflowne—a mechanized battle suit—but fails to defeat them, and Fanelia ends up destroyed. Now on the run, Hitomi and Van encounter a handsome Asturian knight named Allen Schezar, whom Hitomi is shocked to find looks exactly like her crush from Earth. With some new allies on their side, Van and Hitomi fight back against the forces of Zaibach as the empire strives to revive an ancient power.
Manga, Anime: There are three different manga for this anime, and the two that were released around the same time as the anime are worlds apart. In order to understand this, you need to know a little something about the production.
Escaflowne was in development for about five years. Shoji Kawamori (famous for his work on the Macross series and Eureka Seven) came up with the initial idea for the series after a trip to Nepal, and hashed out the basics of the series with Minoru Takanashi at Bandai, with Hitomi originally as a curvy, long-haired, air-headed girl with glasses, and a decidedly more shonen bent to the series. Sunrise (famous for their work on the Gundam series and Cowboy Bebop) was originally selected to do the series, which was then planned at 39 episodes, and Noboteru Yuki worked with Kawamori, with the director at the time being Yasuhiro Imagawa. The director stuck around long enough to coin the phrase Escaflowne, and then left before production actually started, and the project was shelved. Two years later, Sunrise picked it back up and bought on Kazuki Akane (famous for his work on Noein -To Your Other Self- and the Birdy the Mighty 2008 remake), who then gave the series a complete makeover, bringing in shoujo elements to balance out the shonen, notably, making the men a bit more into bishonen and remaking Hitomi as the girl we know in the series.
The first of the manga titles to come out shared the anime’s name, and was based on the original production ideas, which gave it far more of a shonen bent. This manga was done by Katsu Aki, and ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s Shonen Ace magazine from October 24th, 1994 to November 26th, 1997. It was licensed Stateside by Tokyopop, and the eighth and final volume was released on September 14th, 2004. The second manga title, titled Messaiah Knight – The Vision of Escaflowne, later retitled Hitomi – The Vision of Escaflowne, was released around the same time as the anime, and was a shoujo adaptation based more on the final version of the anime. Yuzuru Yashiro did this adaptation, and it ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s Asuka Fantasy DX magazine from April 8th, 1996 to January 18th, 1997, and has yet to be licensed Stateside. The final manga title is called Energist’s Memories, which is an anthology of several stories from the Escaflowne universe done by several manga authors. It was released in January of 1997, and also has yet to be licensed Stateside.
Escaflowne is a twenty-six episode series (yes, you’ll notice it was cut down from the 39 episodes originally planned) that was produced by Sunrise and Bandai Visual, and directed by Kazuki Akane. It ran on Japanese TV from April 2nd, 1996 till September 24th, 1996. It was licensed Stateside by Bandai Entertainment, and the latest full boxset was released on April 11th, 2006 as part of the Anime Legends collection.
Story: High school track runner Hitomi Kanzaki has a talent for stunningly accurate tarot readings. One day, she has a vision of a young man slaying a dragon, and, later that night, the same young man is transported to her world in a pillar of light, along with the dragon, and he slays it. As soon as the young man, named Van Fanel, has harvested the energist stone that lies in the dragon, the pillar of light returns him back to his world, Gaea, where both the moon and Earth (known as the Mystic Moon) hang in the sky – only Hitomi is taken back with him. As Hitomi tries to find a way home, her latent psychic powers are awakened, which in turn awakens Farnelia’s mech (known as Escaflowne), and she becomes caught up in the politics and conflict between Asturia, Farnelia, and the Zaibach Empires.
You can tell that the story was originally meant for a longer series, but the decision to trim it down to twenty-six episodes came through just when the series came in just as production was beginning, and the director didn’t want to sacrifice any of the characters or plot lines. So, instead, the already elaborately planned plotlines and character development was made to fit into a twenty-six episode series. And, admittedly, while the story and development is a bit jerky, slow at first but then speeding up in others, it still manages to completely and coherently wrap things up in its length, not to mention give the fairly extensive cast of characters good development.
And speaking of characters, I have so much respect for how they developed them. The characters all start out as fairly common shoujo tropes, but are developed into real people and incredibly engaging ones at that. Hitomi especially; she could’ve been this horrible Mary-Sue, but instead she is developed and even grows up a little as she makes her way through Gaea and reacts pretty realistically to her situation. Relationships between all of them are slowly developed, and you aren’t hit over the head with it as they are; when they are finally bought to light or out and out pointed out, you realize, "Oh, that explains it!"
For those of you who are mech fans, you’ll be happy to hear that the mech fights are paid as much attention to as the the story and character development; there’s at least one major fight every other episode. And especially appropriate is how they developed the mechs to match the level of technology that’s found in Gaea.
Gaea is general is built extremely well as a world; just about every aspect you could think of is given thought and explained in ways that don’t make you feel like you’re being hit over the head with the exposition hammer all that much.
The downside of all this is that you feel like you’re getting bombarded with information, and there are a few minor characters that are mostly running gags and who they seem to forget exist for a few episodes here and there and then are bought back into the story to remind the audience, "Hey! They’re still here!"
So, overall, while there is quite an overload on information, and a few gag characters are forgotten here and there, Escaflowne’s story is still pretty good, and all elements of it are given equal loving attention.
Art: Compared to other shows that were airing roughly around this time (Ruroni Kenshin, Martian Successor Nadesico, Ghost in the Shell), Escaflowne’s art is pretty damn good, if not gorgeous. Character designs are given the perfect amount of detail, not to mention as are all the different races on Gaea, mech designs, backgrounds, just everything is absolutely beautiful in this. There are some very strong lines used in this, like what we saw in Ouran High School Host Club. And overall, the quality of the art has aged quite well.
The style of the art has not aged well, though. Facial features are extremely exaggerated, notably with a few noses that could conceivably be used as swords with how pointy they are. Also, CG use in this is fairly obvious, which is a bit understandable, but it’s still a bit painful to watch at times.
Music: The music for this is absolutely spectacular. Yoko Kanno did the work on this, and it’s not the typical jazz soundtrack that I’ve seen from her in Darker than Black and Cowboy Bebop. Instead, here, we get EPIC orchestral scores, with beautiful string work and special emphasis on the cello (used to be a cellist, so it’s always great for me to hear the instrument used so well) and excellent choral arrangements.
The OP is sung by Maaya Sakamoto, Hitomi’s seiyuu, and is just a lovely ballad (well, waltz, actually, it is in 3/4 time) in general. It’s always a good thing when I don’t skip through the OP, and it’s even better when I sing along to it; I did this every episode. The ED is a more stereotypical upbeat JPop number done by a guy instead of a girl, and was very easily skippable.
Seiyuu: This series is chock full of good seiyuu. Hitomi was Maaya Sakamoto’s (famous for her work as Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club and Aeris Gainsborough in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) debut role, and her singing of the OP was her first work singing. Besides Ms. Sakamoto, Jouji Nakata (famous for his roles as the Count in Gankutsuou and Alucard in Hellsing) appears as Folken, and Juurouta Kosugi (famous for his roles as Akio in Revolutionary Girl Utena and Fernand d’Morcerf in Gankutsuou) appears as Dryden.
As for the other seiyuu, the voices fit well, and were acted well, which is all I ask for.
Length: Twenty-six episodes makes the series feel a bit pushed for time. Having the full run of 39 episodes probably would have helped this in the long run, and especially given it some time to breathe. Any shorter, though, and it just wouldn’t have worked.
Overall: Escaflowne has an excellent story and characters, a well-built and animated world, excellent seiyuu and beautiful music. It has a few flaws, mainly from the compressed schedule it was given to air in, and the occasional forgetting of characters but, nonetheless, is a very solid series. It’s not a ZOMG favorite series for me, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good series.
Overall: 41/50; 82% (B)
So I’ve been patiently watching the series mainly because I have nothing else to do, and tbh I quite enjoyed the first half of the series. And then they lost me. I mean it’s a fantasy anime, so a fair bit of leeway has to be given to the plot. I can make my peace with the hidden power of fate that the MC uses. I can deal with the mana-mechanical transformer-bots in a medieval setting. Hell, I can even swallow the uber ridiculous goal of the antagonist to control fate, and in corollary, control the world. Classic Villain. Pretty easy to swallow. Then it got weird.
There are a bunch of reasons I pretty much hated the series.
1. The antagonists are a fucking joke. First there’s Dornkirk who is our classic villain in the shadows, pulling the strings, laughing his evil laugh, who not surprisingly at all started out helping people. His goal is to create a world without war. Now thats very ambitious. More ambitious is his chosen method of accomplishing this goal i.e. controlling fate. You would think that he would take some kind of care in choosing his generals and inner circle.
Which brings me to Folken. Seriously dude? You joined his Hitler-esque cause because you didn’t want to kill a dragon? Yeah I know, thats not what happened, but take a moment to think about his actual motivation for joining up with Dornkirk. There really isn’t any. I mean I get why the fortune twins fell for Folken, they were half cat so it makes sense for them to unconditionally love the person who saved them. Folken’s origin story makes me believe his Draconian mother had intimate relations with a fucking cocker spaniel, because in the end he’s basically a rescue.
AND WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THIS DILANDAU CHARACTER? I mean seriously. His only motivation to do anything is “I have a boo boo on my cheek and I must destroy the one who did it and anyone in the way of accomplishing my boo boo revenge”. Really man? Is that all there is to you considering how many fucking times you battled the MC?
2. Which brings me to my second point. I don’t like to be masturbated without the pleasure of a climax. Van has a hard-on for murdering every minor baddie, but for whatever reason when it comes to Dilandau his sword needs Viagra to function. Not to mention Hitomi’s nagging also starts ONLY when Dilandau’s close to death. Why? Why is this barely one dimensional character still alive in the 3rd act of the series? Even the final plot twist with this character…WHY? And more importantly HOW? His condition just resolves itself because….profit? This character gave me the biggest murder boner simply because the writers wouldn’t kill the little bitch off and kept teasing till the very end.
And after all that “cold as ice” acting , Folken’s heart suddenly melts? Because his two pussy cats died? Why? Did I miss something? What was your motivation to join Dornkirk ? What was your motivation in leaving him? Were you sleeping while he slaughtered the first few million people, or did it really take your pussy dying for you to regain your empathy? WTF? THIS, if any of the characters from the antagonists should have been the final conflict. Instead, the writers pussy out and turn him into a good guy at the end. Its pathetic. I bet a nun could jerk me off better than this piece of shit anime.
3. Then there’s… Luck enhanced soldiers made by transfusing synthetic blood created from splicing the genes of the luckiest people…….
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!? WHY NOT A FUCKING SPELL? ITS A MAGICAL WORLD!!! A SPELL WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE BELIEVABLE!!!
Unless you’re as nit picky as me, you probably won’t notice, but the mythology and the world design is in a clash in this anime. Much of it is ok, since we waste most of our time with the bland and often interchangeable characters, but for the most part…ehhh…the world isn’t believable as either fantasy or science fiction.
4. The two main characters finally fall in love. This love is strong. Its history is epic. It will become a tale retold in many forms. It had the power to overcome fate. There was nothing in the way of the two lovers making a life together. Theirs was a perfect ending. “Well, I have go back to Earth for absolutely no reason at all and pine for my lover for the rest of my life” – Hitomi.
In conclusion, I’ve definitely seen animes with worse characters, story mechanics, mythology and plot. Credit where credit’s due. It isnt the worst thing out there, but make sure you don’t watch this anime when you actually have the time to watch it. Watch it while you study for a test or something like that. Keep it in the background so you don’t notice the flaws, and you only see the magical transformer robots and furries. At least that way you won’t pull your hair out from the frustrating stupidity that is Escaflowne.
The first thing about this series that earned it a point in my favor was the wholeness and realness of the characters. Hitomi, the protagonist, in particular earned my approval because she, unlike most anime females, seems very realistic. She’s not the stereotypical "cutesy" girl (God, but I do hate those), nor is she overly self-sacrificing; she’s not one of those violence prone angry chicks, nor is she the tough loner, she’s not a goober who’s always eating, nor is she a femme fatale; she’s just a high school girl growing up in stages with a strong moral code. She’s someone I can imagine meeting if I walk down the street, which, after being innundated with the above stereotypical anime females, is very refreshing. Granted, there are many people who dislike Hitomi greatly, but I feel that she’s a strong character and that many of her actions, if you take the time to really imagine yourself in her situation, are reasonable, or at the least, understandable.
Aside form Hitomi, there are many other chracters involved in the story, each having their own personalities and unique stories. You’ve got Allen, the valiet bishounen knight, who is a bit strung up on the old ways of chivalry, Dilandau, the bloodthirsty psychopathic young general, Van, the moody and quiet crown prince, and a variety of other characters. The characters are so well done that it’s easy to fall in love with even the minor ones such as Gaddes, Allen’s right hand man.
The art style is very good given it’s time period. It is a bit older though, so don’t expect graphics like those of today found in animes such as Full Metal Alchemist and Air. The colors are a bit duller, but that only serves to enhance the overall rustic feeling of the anime.
The musical score for the series is fantastic. The emotions of a scene are captured superbly based solely on the ochestra rhythms. The openning theme is one of my favorites. The ending is a bit odd, but it grows on you. The ending also seems somewhat out of place as it has a sort of slowish techno-pop feel to it.
The main genres are romance and fantasy, but there is also a splash of the mecha realm thrown in. Unlike most mecha animes, the mechs in this are powered by the fantastical powers of dragon heart stones, hydrolics, and mechanical sytems. Their subesquent design is unique and intruiging. While seemingly low tech (the world in which Hitomi falls is not really technologically advanced and has a middle ages feel to it), the mechs are actually impressive bits of machinary. The floating fortresses and air ships, powered by magical stones, are also of interest.
There is not much humor to be found. Given that the story takes place in a world in the thros of war, this is understanable. It is not overwhelmingly, depressingly serious though. They do not make a point of expressing the darkest vices of human nature like Beserk or Elfen Lied. However, the anime does examine the destructiveness of greed, cowardess, hatred, and the problems associated with pursuing science for the sake of science. So, if you’re a fan of the overly goofy or light-hearted series, this one is likely not for you. It is also not likely for you if you’re an action fiend that requires an explosion or hand-to-hand fight every ten seconds. This one is mainly for fantasy/romance (but not the teenaged angst romance or the ten girls single guy romance) types.
One of the main themes of the anime is the conflict of fate versus free will. It makes some very intersting conclusions about how one’s free will affects not only one’s self but all of those around one.
I adored the bizarre twists presented at the end and highly recommend this. At least watch the first three or four episodes to give it a try. The only thing that will disappoint you is the fact that there’s not more of it.
3: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars
English: Sailor Moon Sailor Stars
Japanese: 美少女戦士セーラームーン セーラースターズ
MAL Score: 7.92
Like the R Season, Sailor Stars is divided into two arcs:
The first arc (also filler) solves some conflicts from the SuperS season, and also sees the return of the Outer Senshi, Haruka, Michiru, Setsuna, and Hotaru (now reborn as a child).
The second arc is the actual plot from the manga. Usagi bids farewell to Mamoru, who is going to America to study abroad. In his place comes the Three Lights, an idol trio consisting of three boys, Seiya, Taiki, and Yaten. The new enemy is Galaxia, a woman who desires to rule the entire galaxy by collecting the Star Seeds of humans. Three new Senshi appear, the Sailor Starlights, who also intend to stop Galaxia without Sailor Moon’s help.
First of all, let me tell you, I can agree on why Sailor Moon Sailor Stars wasn’t licensed for the american dub version. If you watch this series, you will find out why. But enough with that matter, let me tell you what I thought of this amazing season of Sailor Moon.
I personally thought the story deserved higher that a 6, at that matter. The story was actually well thought out and planned detail to detail. Naoko Takeuchi had really improved since SuperS. I mean, how the new characters incorperated right into the story perfectly. The Starlights added a new sense of different careers in the story and how Seiya tried his/her best to be like a ‘new’ Mamoru for Usagi.
The art had pretty much improved since SuperS, in my opinion. The detail and different colors use to express the characters was amazing. I really thought that the design of the new senshi outfits was absolutly genius! Also, I must say, Sailor Moon’s Moon Tier was really detailed and perfetly executed the attacks every episode.
The sound in the series really got me into the season more and more. The new opening theme really changed the sense of the series after the same theme song season after season. Change was definetly in order. But I must admit, some of the songs the 3 Lights sang weren’t very good in my opinion. I understand they were looking for their princess for a very long period of time but I never got use to the songs they sang.
The Starlights intro into the series really up-ed my opinion on the rating of Character. Yet, in the anime, how they were changed into Male to Female really didn’t make me happy. I’m sure Naoko diefinetly felt the same way. Anyways, away from that matter, I believe that most of the characters didn’t change that much, yet I enjoyed how they comforted Usagi in her hard times.
The enjoyment of the series difinetly deserved a 10/10 in my opinion. The story brought along many happy, sad, romantic, ect., to the series. I think that Naoko did an exceptional job on this season and the manga at that.
Overall, this series deserves a 10/10! The series was outstanding to me and was one of the first anime I watched when I was young. The series always kept me at the edge of my seat and I really enjoyed some humor here and there. If you are in the mood for an amazing series, I highly reccomend this series to any mahou shoujo anime fan out there. The series was excellent to me and I bet any Sailor Moon fan would agree.
There’s plenty of new scouts from other galaxies and other leaded by another princess. It also features a cool idol group as some of the season’s new characters.
This season was the last season of Sailor Moon and it was never dubbed in English during it’s original release. This season may be still new news to some fans who just watched and were familiar with the original English dub.
Break from Mini Moon-
And of course we get a break from Mini Moon. Even though she is still an important character in it’s first episodes, she does get a break and doesn’t appear through the second arc of this season. This could be a relief to some fans after SuperS.
Yes, this season has plenty of hardships, downfalls, and Sailor Moon will be find herself very heartbroken at times.
Villains are scouts-
Yes! I mentioned there was drama. Not only are there new scouts called the Starlights, the villains themselves are also scouts, which makes it hard to know who to trust.
This is all around a super season and is a must watch for fans. Despite the flaws that Tuxedo Mask is absent from the second arc (but it’s for a reason), and the outers appear very little times. It’s still it’s a great season and you won’t be disappointed.
And this last season was the best one (I missed Mamoru-chan but.. ^^).. We saw friendship, love, longing, and also determination and faith.. of course with the sufficient amount of humour ^^ It has everything in it, and it is an anime that I’d show my children..
Everybody should watch this classic, imo. The storyline, the characters, fight scenes.. all of them were 10/10 for me ^^
(Should I begin watching it again?? ^^)
2: Kodomo no Omocha (TV)
MAL Score: 8.05
Sixth grader Sana Kurata has a perfect life. Her mother is a (fairly) successful author, she has a young man employed to keep her happy and safe, and best of all, she is the star of the children’s television show Kodomo no Omocha. There’s just one thing bothering her, and that’s Akito Hayama.
Akito is a classmate of Sana’s, and ever since he’s started acting out in class, the rest of the boys have followed his example. Every day, the girls and the teacher wage a battle to keep the class under control and to get some actual learning done. That rotten Akito… Sana won’t stand for this!
The hyperactive Sana decides to dig deeper and find out what makes Akito tick, so class can go back to normal and the teacher can stop spending every day crying instead of teaching. But the more she learns about him, the more she realizes that there might be more to Akito than meets the eye.
Kodocha was the very first anime series I watched from start to finish. Yes, this show was definitely worth finishing. Overall, this anime is a 10, even though outward appearances don’t suggest so. Never judge a show solely on its art.
My friend referred me to Kodocha, saying I’ll definitely like it, but at the time I wasn’t interested in anime, so I wasn’t sure.
I was curious enough to watch it. Admittedly, I was really not impressed with the beginning of the show (Beginning as in, the first five minutes. I guess I saw the pastel colors, so I was a little put off). Quite frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t drop the show within those five minutes, but I’m glad I didn’t.
After the first episode, I was hooked. I don’t know about other watchers, but I was up until the darkest hours of the night watching one episode after another. Each episode ends with a little cliffhanger (sometimes you’re blindsided by a shocking event at the end of an episode), and it’s enough to make you want more.
The story was interesting enough to create an addict out of me. There are a lot of interesting plot points. I suppose there is no singular plot, but there are little “plotlets” that somehow connect in a weird way. In other words, when one problem is resolved, another one forms. It may seem like another cutesy shojo anime, but there are a lot of serious moments as well.
The Art…fair, at best. My standards are high when it comes to artwork (think Satoshi Kon or Makoto Shinkai). The pastel was off-putting for me because the characters and backgrounds seemed washed out. Yes, I am well-aware that this anime was made in 1996, so the art is definitely impressive for its time.
I liked the sound. I really did. Especially the english dub, because Sana’s voice was spot-on. Many people say that Akito’s voice sounded too old in the dub, but I thought it suited the character just fine. His was my favorite voice in the dub. I also enjoyed the zany music (especially the “Kodocha Mambo” and all of Sana’s raps) and the appropriate (not cheesy) music was played during the sad and/or touching moments.
The characters are cute and lovable or wacky, yet endearing. Each character is very different, and I think you can find something to love or hate (good character development means that nobody’s perfect) about each of them. Sana is amazing. She runs by the high of life (and the occasional energy drink) and she has the bubbly personality that everyone likes. But Akito is by far my favorite character. He’s he strong, silent type that seems rough on the outside, but you can tell he has a good heart. If he were real, I would definitely pursue him.
I enjoyed the entire show from start to finish. The funny moments made me laugh out loud, some of the sad moments made me cry (and I don’t cry easily), and the overall crack-craziness of the show was enough to make my entire week.
This was the show that led me into the world of otaku. Good or bad, I’m not sure. I’ve watched a lot more anime since then, but no other series or movie can quite compare with Kodocha. Some have come very close, but they barely missed the mark that Kodocha set. This show will always be number one in my book.
Im serious i was sooo lost at the end of the anime it didn’t make any sense. Although the manga is wayyyy more serious than the anime it makes a lot more sense at the end than the anime and it has a better anime.
P.S. this series may be hard to find i dont know why but every single time the series gets deleted then re-added on youtube. You might wanna try www.veoh.com it has better results for anime than youtube n_n
I am sure that the sellers didn’t know how rare and valuable the series was but I took the advantage anyway and decide to buy the Kodocha DVDs for the total of £26.00 making the second cheapest out of print anime I have ever brought only losing to Bezz My-Hime Anime Legends complete collection set which I brought for £15 on my local CEX store. A week later I got myself the set and I immediately binge-watch it and after watching both season 1 (Episode 1-51) DVD and season 2 (Episode 52-102) online am going to be truly honest with you. This show is not only the best romance anime I have ever seen but it’s also one of the best animes I have ever seen period.
Like with Eureka Seven, My Hero Academia, Full Moon Wo Sagashite and Gundam Build Fighters I never really expected this show to be good but man did this show proves me wrong in every way possible. This was the anime that made not judge an anime based on its cover because while this show has a funky childish cover but man this show completely fooled me because outside the goofy cover this show is pretty dark.
So what made this show so great you may ask? You will soon find out.
The story of Kodocha follows Sana Kurata who is a star of a popular TV show called child’s toy while being in 5th grade. One originally day at school as she goes into class the boys in her class are raising hell. The ringleader of the group Akito has counted the teacher into silence in some sort of blackmail. So, the boys are free too, reach havoc as they please. Very determined too, lead a normal school life Sana targets the ringleader Akito with all of her energy and the relationship and daily lives of Sana and Akito begin.
Now, what do I think of the story of Kodocha? The story of Kodocha is executed perfectly. The story starts off a very simple as boy’s vs girl’s rivalry but as the series progresses it story become surprisingly complex and it becomes a great coming of age story.
The one that I really liked about Kodocha is how it was able to synergize its comedy and romance elements meaning it’s was able to have a nice blend of comedy and romance.
The one problem that I have with a lot of romcom anime in recent memory is how they don’t have a balance of romance and comedy elements meaning they have one genre element taking over the other which is not a good thing for a romcom anime
Kodocha doesn’t suffer from any of those problems because the show knows how to an element in an appropriate manner. The comedy in Kodocha is just amazing because not only they are funny and original but the execution and the timing for the jokes are flawless.
The pacing in Kodocha is great. It knows hows to pace itself for certain arcs and scenes and too, be honest you will never get bored when watching this show.
Surprisingly the show really explores really hard-hitting themes and social topics such as child abuse, divorced parents, teenage pregnancy, homelessness, and adoption and these themes are explored in a very mature way too, the point where the viewer can sympathize with the characters.
Also, when those themes are explored the show goes into a different tone that is suitable for those themes and this show knows how to to use its tone correctly as well blend them.
The one thing I loved about Kodocha is the use of foreshadowing. As early as episode 8 the show does a brilliant job at foreshadowing later events that will happen.
On top, of the shows great directing and clever dialogue Kodocha is very unpredictable with its writing which the writing itself it was great, to begin with.
Kodocha is an anime that will make you laugh, cry, happy and it will keep your edge too, your seats from to finish with great plot twists great and interesting arcs and good pacing.
Overall the story of Kodocha was amazing from start to finish and it’s easily favourite coming of age story in all anime.
When it comes to the characters in Kodocha I thought they were all pretty awesome.
Sana Kurata is an 11-year-old cute redheaded TV film star girl with an uncontrollably hyper and active personality.
Sana is just an amazing character. She starts off a simply uncontrollably hyper character with a lot of passion but as the series progresses she becomes an amazing multi-dimensional character with lots of emotion and depth. Sana is a perfect example of flawed charterer in anime. She is a chararter who barely reacts to emotions and love and every time when facing the reality of life, she will just sing a song so she can keep her positive outlook on life. This obviously, later on, backfires on her because as series progresses others chararters like Akito, Fuka, Tsuyoushi, and Misako start to make Sana face reality where they are grown out of Sana antics completely where they tell her to take life more seriously. Her chararter development in the series is fantastic as this hyperactive girl slowly transforming into a mature young girl who is able to understand love and people feelings.
Overall Sana Kurata is an amazing character and she became one of my favourite female characters of all time.
Next up we have Akito. I personally really like this character Like Sana he is a multi-dimensional character who is realistically flawed in his own right. Not to mention I really adored his character development from start to finish.
Also despite being a troublesome stoic individual he actually cares for Sana deeply. Not to mention he’s chararter reactions towards the other chararters including Sana was great.
His character chemistry with Sana was just awesome as they start off as enemies but as the series goes on they eventually stop being enemies and they start helping with other peoples problems and eventually in the second half of the show they start having feelings for each other.
Overall Akito is an awesome character and he’s easily one of the best Shoujo main leads I have seen in anime.
Misako is easily one of the best moms in anime. She is a great mother figure to Sana she is very likeable and very entertaining to watch and she has a great and well-told backstory. This is how you do a mom-type character.
Rei is another great character that I really liked and he is a great surrogate father figure for Sana. Like with Misako Rei has a really tragic and well-told backstory that the audience can relate.
Tsuyoushi is Akito best friend and the main voice of reason for Akito. Like with the other characters I just mention he is also another fascinating and well-written character that I really enjoyed from start to finish.
Naozumi is another fascinating character I really liked.
Like with Sana he is an orphan where he was abandoned as a baby and both Sana and Naozumi used to spend time a lot with each.
He also has a great story/character arc that was well executed. He’s an also a great love interest for Sana and I really liked the love rivalry with Akito as they fight who is worthy of being Sana’s girlfriend
Fuka gets a special mention to me because she gets a lot of hate from fans of the show for being a backstabber and overall annoying but I actually don’t Fuka as a character, in fact, I liked her quite a bit. Sure I will admit she can be a bit of a pain of the ass to deal with in the beginning but the end of the series she does redeem herself as a charter.
The rest of the characters are all pretty great that have a lot of charm into them.
Overall the characters in Kodocha are perfect. This is easily one of my favourite charter cast in anime.
Visually Kodocha has surprisingly has aged well for the most part least. Studio Gallop really did a great job on the charterers designs, character moment, and the backgrounds scenery while dated was still pretty solid for what it is. It totally has aged well and for a 102 episode series that’s really impressive. If I had any nitpicks with the shows visuals than it would be some use of recycled animation in some of the episodes.
Other than that the visuals were pretty good for the most part.
The soundtrack is honestly great and well executed.
There wasn’t a dull track whatsoever and all of the tracks fit the tone of the series perfectly. My favourite track from Kodocha is hands down Always Be With You. This song is amazingly well made as it perfectly captures the tone with the more emotional moments of the series. Other favourite tracks include Sana Tomorrow, Don’t Cry For Me, Vitamin Love, Goodbye Love, Harmony of Sana and Hayama, Sepia Wind and Kennema De Fuka.
Both openings of Kodocha were really good, catchy and they really fit the mood and the tone of the show. I personally prefer opening 2 over opening 1.
As for the ending themes they were all great.
The first ending theme Panic by Still Small Voice is a great catchy ending theme that I adore. Easily one of my favourite anime ending themes.
While I wasn’t a fan of the second ending theme DAIJO-BU by Tomoko Hikita at first however as time went by the second ending theme grew on me to a point where I liked it as much as the first ending theme.
The Third Ending theme Pinch (Love Me Deeper)” by Rina Chinen is one of my favourite anime ending themes period as it was very catchy and it song itself fits well with the second season of Kodocha as a whole.
Now for sub vs dub.
Both are honestly fantastic for what they All of the actors in both dub and sub really did a great performance in the roles.
Funimation did an amazing job with the dub overall and it added more life to this wonderful series.
Laura Bailey did a fantastic job at voicing the hyperactive Sana Kurata. She is filled with range and her portrayal of Sana was amazing. Easily the best performance in the dub.
The rest of the voice actors did a great job in the roles.
If I had to pick which one is I prefer I would pick the dub even though the dub cuts off after episode 51. Sad times.
Overall the soundtrack is great, the openings were amazing the ending themes were good and both sub and dub are really good.
I absolutely adored Kodocha.
It has everything that I love about romcom. The story is amazing, has great pacing, wonderful theme exploration and its handled in a very mature way. Great and well-developed characters that are relatable to, the viewer. Visuals that have aged well for the most part and the soundtrack is amazing.
Kodocha is a romcom anime done right and it’s not the best romcom anime I was seen but it’s now one of the best animes I have ever seen.
If you’re looking for a great romcom series that deals with heavy themes as well as having great and interesting characters then I strongly recommend Kodocha.
Sadly, Kodocha hasn’t been licensed in the UK by any UK DVD studio but it was once available by Funimation in the USA before going out of print.
I hope Kodocha gets re-licensed someday as well getting a Blu Ray with a new English Dub that has episodes 52-102 dubbed.
Final Score 10/10
1: Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan
English: Rurouni Kenshin
Japanese: るろうに剣心 -明治剣客浪漫譚-
MAL Score: 8.30
In the final years of the Bakumatsu era lived a legendary assassin known as Hitokiri Battousai. Feared as a merciless killer, he was unmatched throughout the country, but mysteriously disappeared at the peak of the Japanese Revolution. It has been ten peaceful years since then, but the very mention of Battousai still strikes terror into the hearts of war veterans.
Unbeknownst to them, Battousai has abandoned his bloodstained lifestyle in an effort to repent for his sins, now living as Kenshin Himura, a wandering swordsman with a cheerful attitude and a strong will. Vowing never to kill again, Kenshin dedicates himself to protecting the weak. One day, he stumbles across Kaoru Kamiya at her kendo dojo, which is being threatened by an impostor claiming to be Battousai. After receiving help from Kenshin, Kaoru allows him to stay at the dojo, and so the former assassin temporarily ceases his travels.
Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan tells the story of Kenshin as he strives to save those in need of saving. However, as enemies from both past and present begin to emerge, will the reformed killer be able to uphold his new ideals?
The story is deep, intricate, emotional, and touching. Everything from romance, action, suspense, and even some thriller in included in Rurouni Kenshin. There are a total of 95 episodes to Rurouni Kenshin, however, only the first 62 (the first two seasons) are only worth watching because the third season is all fillers. The first two seaons depict the story of Himura Kenshin, also known as Hitokiri Battousai, and his motley bunch of friends in Sagara Sonouske, Myojin Yahiko, and Kamiya Kaoru. Without giving too much away, the first season is based on his stay with Kaoru Kamiya and how he keeps his vow of not to kill. The second season is where the plot develops and we are introduced to a little bit of Kenshin’s past.
To some of the younger fans out there, the animation may seem a bit older and not as new as some of our recent anime like Death Note and Full Metal Alchemist, it still is drawn with very exceptional quality and after the first few episodes, you find that the style perfectly suits the time frame in which the story takes place.
Taku Iwasaki has done a beautiful job with the soundtrack to Rurouni Kenshin as during each and every part, there is the perfect song that fits the scene. This is especially the case during the second season as Iwasaki unveils a multitude of amazing pieces of music that you will undoubtedly look to download.
You will either hate the characters or love them. The character development during the anime is portrayed very well. An example of this is the development of Yahiko from an innocent child to an exceptional swordsman throughout the show. The only qualm people may have is the lack of romance between Kenshin and Kaoru. Though its hinted at very slightly during the first two seasons, there is not much between them. All of Kenshin’s rivals also have unique personalities and Nobuhiro Watsuki has done an excellent job with them.
The only reason I advise you to avoid the episodes 63-95 is that they are pointless fillers. By the time the second arc had ended, the Kyoto arc, the anime had caught up to the manga. So as with all animes, they stopped animating the manga and aired fillers so the manga could develop. However, by the time the manga finished, the fillers were so terribly bad that Rurouni Kenshin had to be cancelled.
That is why after episode 62, I urge you to find the manga and start reading it from Volume 18 to enjoy the amazing story of Enishi and the Revenge Arc. It is there where the true story of Kenshin is continued and completed, and not with the later episodes.
I rate episodes 1-62 a 10/10 because they follow the manga very well..
I rate episodes 63-95 a 6/10 because even though they are pointless, some of the fillers do have good back stories and battle scenes..
A final overall rating of a 9/10 is due to the anime, Rurouni Kenshin (the manga I would give a 10 ^_^). There is no doubt in my mind that if you are looking for an anime with a little bit of everything and looking for an anime that involves mystic sword styles, amazing battles and an "oro-ing red-headed samurai," look no further.
Rurouni Kenshin stars its titular protagonist, Kenshin Himura, a former assassin who became legendary for his skill and body count during the Bakumatsu wars of Japan. Years later, Kenshin becomes a rurouni (an unemployed samurai) and wanders the country now seeking to atone for the lives he’s taken by helping others, and vows to never kill again. He soon meets up with Kaoru Kamiya, the manager of her own dojo. After Kenshin saves Kaoru’s life he’s given a place to settle down in and protect. The two are later joined by the young child of a family of samurai, Yahiko Myojin, and a roughish street fighter named Sanosuke Sagara who mainly battles with his fists. This main four accompany Kenshin as he fights other lost souls from the Bakumatsu who often seek to challenge the new Meiji government who threaten their archaic sword-wielding way of life.
With the manga beginning in 1994, Rurouni Kenshin became a flagship title of the “battle shonen” subgenre that was now truly beginning to acquire momentum, and the franchise is now considered a staple classic of the entire genre. Getting into Rurouni Kenshin now is rather interesting, as it holds this historical evolution inside of its own story. Rurouni Kenshin begins as not fully a battle shonen, being more like that earlier hybrid of action-adventure where fights were frequent but typically short, simple, and bookended by longer exposition or downtime. As the series progresses it changes and benefits from becoming increasingly about the fight themselves as special fighting abilities become more common, villains stick around longer and violent conflicts are hyped, and the pacing changes to nearly non-stop action as entire episodes become centered around the battle ahead.
One way of looking at this progress is that it means Rurouni Kenshin “starts slow” and doesn’t reach part of its full potential in the early stories. This would be true for the manga or anime, but it’s the anime that really suffers from this crawl. Given that the manga was still in development when the anime began, the producers started preparing filler material early on. Shorter stories and plot details from the manga were stretched out to get more of an episode out of them, and many original episodic stories were also introduced between following the manga’s events. Not only this, but parts of those original manga stories were arbitrarily changed, such as Kenshin’s fight with Sanosuke, and nearly always worse off for those changes. The anime also tries to appeal to a younger audience by censoring much of the violence and darker imagery depicted in the manga, an example here being Hannya’s back story.
Despite many of these frustrating concessions, the original storylines of the manga are present enough to still make the anime’s beginning engaging as long as you’re out of the stretches of original filler. The soft-spoken, peaceful Kenshin Himura is a very unique protagonist for shonen anime. The typical shonen protagonist is a young boy, or at the very least someone who begins weak but has a lot of potential to become more powerful or grow as a person. Kenshin is nearly the opposite of this, being a fully developed adult whose philosophies on life are already finalized by his vow to never kill again, and he’s instantly implied to be the best swordfighter in Japan and routinely demonstrates that fight after fight. Kenshin feels almost invincible at points and lives up to his legacy, but how does the action maintain dramatic tension if the match-up results always seem so obvious? The answer is by giving Kenshin two serious handicaps. One is that Kenshin fights using a blade where the sharp edge is on the opposite side so as not to easily kill his opponents and betray his vow, and the second is that vow itself. Kenshin is forced to hold himself back from full strength to prevent killing anyone, which levels the playing field somewhat between his opponents. As Kenshin is forced to face stronger enemies he’s routinely challenged to revert to his merciless killing ways to stand a chance. Because Kenshin does not change much as a person throughout the series, the progression of watching him is centered on revealing more of who he actually is. That is, his personality as a cold assassin. Kenshin also doesn’t spend the series learning new attacks but instead slowly reveals ones he already knows. Kenshin’s fights stay interesting as he’s forced to find openings to incapacitate his opponents instead of killing them, which would actually be far easier.
Kenshin’s love interest is very obviously and immediately Kaoru Kamiya. The original title of the manga was “Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story”, but anyone who recommends this series as a romance would have to be out of their mind. If anything, Kenshin and Kaoru’s relationship is the poorest major part of the storyline. Kaoru’s romantic interest in Kenshin begins almost right after they meet, and from then it doesn’t really evolve beyond this unrequited gushing of Kaoru over Kenshin and falls into a generic anime stasis. Kaoru struggles maintaining agency in the story because nearly all of her thought processes involve Kenshin in some way, and she is almost never, ever seen contributing to major fights. This only gets worse in the anime due to its countless light and comedic filler episodes revolving around Kaoru’s feelings towards Kenshin and his “hilarious” misunderstanding of them. She becomes almost annoying in the anime because of these additional jokes making her character even shallower, and her breakdowns over Kenshin possibly becoming the killer he used to be can cross over into trite melodrama. Given that Kaoru is trained in the art of the sword to the point of teaching it, it would’ve been nice to see a character who’s around at nearly all times actually contributing to the fighting around her. Instead she’s seen as too weak and is never really given opportunities to prove herself in the first place. This also would’ve given her more personal stake in what’s going on rather than nearly all of her actions being centered around Kenshin. It’s disappointing that one of our main characters is one of the show’s few females who can fight and she does nothing with it, instead usually being relegated to cheerleader status and an irritating ditz.
The first 27 episodes of the anime are a mixture of filler episodes and mild to moderately altered adaptations of the manga’s arcs. The best of these arcs is the one that stays truest to the manga, which is the Oniwaban/Megumi arc. This is where the show’s transition to battle shonen begins, with a variety of opponents who use weapons other than swords and specific techniques rather than raw strength and agility. With the exception of the arc’s final fight against Aoshi and the subsequent climax these battles are fairly short and not that interesting, but they are fun to watch now that our opponents are intriguing and have surprising fighting styles to show off. Despite this satisfying arc, the rest of the first season ranges from average to downright boring. Its canonical manga stories are mainly short introductions to characters and the Meiji era setting and culture the series is set in, and we’re prevented from getting to the really good stuff by a bevy of terrible filler that threatens to destroy the quality of the series as a whole.
Rurouni Kenshin isn’t just full of filler, it’s full of some of the worst filler I’ve ever seen. Filler that’s so bad and mishandles the base material so much that it insults the characters and cheapens the surrounding canonical storylines. I’ve already brought up how the lighter tone of the anime and the filler’s focus on comedy relies on Kaoru’s shallower traits and develops her as a worse character than she actually is, but the same goes for everyone else as well. Yahiko is turned into a whiny spoiled brat because there’s more to work with there when it comes to comedy than a stubborn inspiring samurai, and Sanosuke may not be very bright but he’s turned from a badass into a doofus as he’s constantly insulted by Kaoru and Yahiko. The attempts at comedy are the most painfully generic and lazy jokes you’ll come across, as literally the same gags are spread out in filler across this 94 episode series. Kaoru is a bad cook! Yahiko is always complaining and calling Kaoru ugly! Sanosuke is a freeloader! All of this hundreds of times as you’re also forced to put up with extremely dull original storylines that can revolve around main characters being frustratingly stupid (Yahiko stealing Kenshin’s sword), or they revolve around simplistic, awful original characters that only show up once. The typical filler plot is some random helpless idiot needs to be encouraged by Kenshin’s group to not give up at doing whatever, and these episodes can involve the group trying to help a circus girl blast off out of a cannon or Kaoru pinching a sumo wrestler on the ass. And the filler villains are usually the most cartoonish, relentlessly evil brigands that would make a real serial killer look like a more reasonable guy.
The filler in Rurouni Kenshin fails to retain anything that made the original story captivating. For starters, the action (or any excitement at all) practically doesn’t exist in the filler. The series’ excellent ability to capture the grace of the time period its set in by its semi-realistic tone that contextualizes the super-powered characters into something believable is upended by the anime’s constant appeals to children with no regards to quality as it’s doing so. Rurouni Kenshin’s filler is almost always excruciatingly boring, and I’m almost stunned that the anime’s writers could even bear to write around 50 episodes of such trite stories for a living and would never be encouraged to try harder for the sake of their own entertainment. Even something like Dragon Ball Z’s filler sometimes tried to do the base material justice by making its own supervillains and staying close to what the main stories were about. If you’re wondering why I have this series as a 6, then it’s because the anime’s filler is actually what makes up a majority of it and it’s worth a 3 if not even less. But enough about numbers, because it’s time for the part anyone who’s seen the series before was waiting for me to get to.
After about 10 enjoyable episodes of manga adaptations and about 17 mind-numbing episodes about Kaoru being ugly and a bad cook, it’s almost (not) worth it to fully experience the revitalizing whiplash of the series instantly taking the kid gloves off. A mysterious man named Saitou Hajime shows up at the Kamiya Dojo searching for Kenshin. It turns out Saitou is a former member of the Shinsengumi and an old rival of Kenshin’s from the Bakumatsu. Saitou challenges Kenshin to see if his abilities have weakened since he’s settled into a more peaceful life. The anime’s production and sense of direction finally comes alive in this scene, as Kenshin’s warm crimson visage is dominated by the icy navy blues of Saitou that exude from his cold personality and cover the entire screen for the duration of the fight. Yahiko appropriately seems to mimic the perspective of the young audience during this fight as he shouts “I knew it! Kenshin can never lose! Kenshin is invincible!” right before his hero is cut down by Saitou with the same ease Kenshin has been defeating his previous opponents. Kenshin is barely spared, and Saitou insults him afterwards by saying Kenshin Himura as “the wandering samurai” will be of no use to him and the police in the upcoming battle for the nation of Japan. Another man said to be the closest to Kenshin in skill, or possibly better, during the Bakumatsu is raising an army to overthrow the Meiji government. The psychotic Makoto Shishio and his gang of underlings are threatening the country from within the city of Kyoto, and Kenshin leaves for Kyoto as his friends chase after him to make sure the Kenshin they know isn’t lost in the fierce battle ahead.
This is the beginning of the Kyoto arc, and this arc is the sole reason why the Rurouni Kenshin anime has obtained classic status, and it’s a perfect beginning to boot. The creators address the audience and tell them things are going to be different. There’s going to be more violence and blood, and even major characters could die against a villain that’s said to be too much for even the man who just beat Kenshin to handle. The stakes and threat level are higher than ever before, and the new sub-villains are set up early on to give as much anticipation of their battles as Shishio’s himself. Aiding that anticipation is everyone in this arc having unique fighting styles which reach their full potential through more dynamic action sequences than seen before.
Kenshin’s journey across Kyoto introduces several new characters. The aforementioned Saito is a fantastic addition to the series and probably my favorite character period. Saito’s eclipsive moral compass makes him a great character to demonstrate the ethical borderlines of maintaining a samurai code of justice in a more rigid judicial government. He’s a true anti-hero in a series that had previously been defined by righteous do-gooders, and his complete misanthropic disdain for everyone else around him makes his personality starkly stand out and he has both some of the funniest and most dramatic lines in the series. His begrudging companionship with rival Kenshin and the less-skilled Sanosuke makes for a highly entertaining dynamic. The female ninja Misao also contains much of the series’ best attempts at humor, and her relationship with the Oniwaban group is an excuse to bring former opponent Aoshi into the Kyoto arc and make it even bigger. Misao is also never shown being as helpless as Kaoru, and even Kaoru and Yahiko get literally their one important fight of the entire series in the Kyoto arc. Kenshin’s former master Seijuuro Hiko is brought in to establish more of Kenshin’s past as well as some actual growth, and Seijuuro’s every action becomes significant as he’s a monolithic type who’s implied to be the strongest fighter in the series but prefers to stay out of the action as much as possible.
The Kyoto arc just does everything right and is exactly what Rurouni Kenshin had the potential to be. The pacing is brisk and the story filled with large obstacles the heroes must overcome at a moment’s notice, such as Shisho’s army advancing on the city of Kyoto or his heavily armored battleship threatening Japan from the seas. The growing cast is full of universally good additions, and they are divided evenly across this big adventure and are all given at least one special moment to shine. Later shonen works could take lessons from how to effectively manage a big cast of characters as well as Rurouni Kenshin does during the Kyoto arc.
The production team stops cutting corners here and adapts the manga more faithfully, and the increased amount of effort is palpable in the greater quality not just in the writing but in the animation as well. Fights are extremely dynamic with more constant camera movement that darts around the frame, and the characters themselves move very quickly and fluidly with no noticeable framerate skipping. The main reason the Kyoto arc is such a joy to watch is because everything’s always moving. There’s a kinetic soul to this entire production that the rest of the series completely lacks that makes this story, its characters, and its action breathe and come to life. When the studio plays with color like in the aforementioned Saitou fight, all of the story’s events feel more dramatic. The speed and intensity of matches is emphasized wonderfully, and Rurouni Kenshin’s Kyoto arc is the golden standard of 90s shonen anime productions and it even transcends the basic story it adapts from the manga. This all peaks exactly where it should in the final fight against Shishio which is a serious contender for the best match ever in a battle shonen anime. In addition to the scenes often rippling from the humidity caused by the torrents of flame surrounding the arena, the studio also plays with aspect ratio at parts to give a broad widescreen perspective that recalls Rurouni Kenshin’s original influences from samurai films and makes the scenes as intense as those classic film moments.
The Kyoto arc is full of the heart the rest of the series doesn’t have and then some. It has the courage to go beyond the original manga story’s quality and understands the story and its implications well enough to be able to successfully accentuate them into something more powerful but nonetheless faithful. The characters reach the peak of their established personalities and every single one of them grows in some way from the challenges they face. The action is enthralling and absorbing. Everything comes together in this big arc and none of it flounders to deliver a perfectly satisfying experience that deserves to stand the rest of time as a blueprint for a fully-realized battle shonen arc.
Things were looking good for the Rurouni Kenshin anime now that the team was taking it more seriously, but the anime had now gotten too close to the manga to have anything new to adapt. You know what this means: more filler. But after a few episodes of the same terrible junk from the first season, something promising is done as the team decides to write more serious original storyline arcs. They clearly learned something from covering the Kyoto arc and putting so much more effort into it, and I was open for the possibility that the team could finally write filler that did the base story justice even if it didn’t reach the same heights. There’s very little information on Rurouni Kenshin’s post-Kyoto arcs so I had to find out for myself if they were any good. As it is now, most people haven’t even seen anything past the Kyoto arc and still shower the series with perfect scores (this ought to be a federal offense). The anime also makes a strange decision to change the animation and art a bit after the Kyoto arc, but it’s so minor and subtle that its “uncanny valleyness” just makes it even more off-putting whenever the changes stand out. Regardless of how minor the style change is, it’s lower quality than before and these final filler episodes are full of a lot of very still frames with little movement.
Rurouni Kenshin’s first filler arc is… actually tolerable. The storyline come up with here is about the religious persecution and exile of Christians from Japan and their return to take revenge on the country. It’s actually an extremely clever way to stick to Rurouni Kenshin’s historical setting but not settle on the same stories of swordsmen alienated by the new government. It’s another story of disenfranchisement caused by old grudges but with different motivations and different types of characters. The main new character is Shogo Amakusa, a sort of prophet to the Christian movement who claims to have sword skills blessed by God. He fights using the same style Kenshin was taught which makes him an acceptably threatening follow-up to Shishio, and there is ethical conflict regarding their religious motivations as Shogo and his group are willingly taking advantage of their followers’ beliefs for the sake of revenge, even though it may be justifiable for their religious freedom.
Shogo is accompanied by his own gang of villains similar to Shishio, and they also each have distinct character designs and powers. Where this arc particularly falters though is the action goes back to being very simple and dull. The choreography is basic again, the animation goes back to being cheap, there’s no tricks with color or perspective to give the fights that same energy, and the fights don’t build up suspense as they’re all settled in 3 to 5 minutes. It’s a massive disappointment that shows the team hasn’t abandoned their laziness, even if the basic promise of these qualities is more than they’ve done previously. The actual plot is somewhat interesting as Kenshin is given a very serious handicap I won’t spoil, and most of the villains this time around are victims who need to obtain religious freedom but don’t want more violence. Sanosuke is actually the best part of this Christian arc, as he becomes an actual deuteragonist and a major player to the plot with his (actually somewhat touching) relationship with Shogo’s sister, Magdalia. He’s actually focused on in a bigger ratio here than he was in the Kyoto arc. While this arc is ultimately rushed (for literally no reason since they just make more filler after) and doesn’t execute well the same things it copies from the Kyoto arc, some parts of it actually work to a degree and there’s a basic foundation for a good story set up which is more than I can say for the rest of the filler. It’s by -far- the best filler story in Rurouni Kenshin, but that’s less of a testament to how good it is and more of an example of just how little the rest of the series tries. I got a baseline enjoyment out of this arc but as a stand-alone story it’s not good enough to the point where I would recommend anyone watch it.
At this point I was relieved to see any improvement in the filler quality and thought the team might continuously evolve in future filler arcs, but instead the exact opposite happened. Subsequent arcs got increasingly shorter and the characters even worse. After several stupid comedic episodic filler like brought up earlier the team decides to make one of their terrible two filler ideas into a mini-arc. This time it’s the one where Kenshin and co. encourage some pathetic sap to achieve his goals, so you get several episodes of a wimpy nerd crying about swinging a wooden sword being too hard. There’s no threatening villain in this part or anything, just a total bore and flavorless story.
The next arc begins immediately as a group from Europe called the Black Knights have come to Japan seeking an ancient treasure called the Divine Elixir which is said to be able to cure any illness. Ignoring the fact that putting a magical MacGuffin in a historical setting at this point is stupid, the Black Knights are basically the illuminati with a medieval fetish who secretly plan to control the world from the shadows with the money they get from the elixir. The Black Knights we see are a main trio that wield a lance, an axe, and rapier each. This is actually a very solid idea that the original manga itself could’ve used, as the characters being western is a perfect excuse to bring new weapons and fighting styles into the series. Don’t get your hopes up to see any of those fights brought to their potential though, as like in the Christian arc every fight in the Black Knight arc is short and unexciting to watch (though the final is borderline okay). The Black Knight arc isn’t a total pain, but it’s quite worse than the Christian arc because the plot has no momentum whatsoever. Many of the episodes focus on adventure and exploration over any action, and there’s a lot of the characters just wandering around and trying to figure out clues to the elixir. And as we expect, the filler writers are not good at creating entertaining dialogue to carry these slow moments.
After one brief filler episode that’s actually okay just because it dares to develop a certain main character without the manga’s guidance, another mini-arc begins that’s the finale of the series. And what a finale it is, because this is the worst one yet and the most egregious core concept. The Feng Shui arc revolves around magic. Literally magical spells that control dragons made of water and sudden blasts of wind. What an insult that so close to the end of this series they throw in magic that betrays the historical setting like never before. Rurouni Kenshin has always crossed the border of reality into fiction, but it made an attempt to disguise it with its serious tone and convincing explanations for its ridiculous powers. There’s a guy who breathes fire, but oh he does it by carrying oil in his stomach and using flint on his teeth as a spark. It may be total bull, but the idea of it is constructed out of the materials of the setting so that it doesn’t seem too out of place despite being a fantasy. There is no justification for magic because its very definition means it’s conjured from a place outside of reality, and it’s so fitting that the final idea to come out of the filler would remind of us of how poorly the series was understood. It’s not worth covering this arc more other than to mention there are no real fights and the final confrontation is two guys trying to overcome each other’s spiritual force or something like Dragon Ball Z. The anime series ended up being so mishandled that they didn’t even get a proper final episode done in time and the story abruptly ends after this boring arc. They could’ve cut these five episodes and come up with a better ending. They could’ve cut this entire “third season” and the series would’ve ended better. What’s even the point of doing filler if you’re not biding time to adapt the rest of the manga?
The series’ music is pretty solid all around. It’s often anachronistic with its frequent use of electric guitar, but it doesn’t sound out of place because the modern instrumentation doesn’t draw attention to itself. Guitar chords are slow and smooth, almost sounding like a flute and very organic. I think I still would’ve preferred to see a more classical score with more folk instrumentation that matches the setting, but they didn’t screw the pooch from the choice they made and the compositions can be quite nice. The opening and ending themes are good all around too, but only having three openings across 94 episodes is kind of tiring. I do like how they changed the second opening’s animation to include new characters, and the opening during the Kyoto and Christian arcs is especially cool because of the “flickering flame” effect over the arc’s antagonists. I grew to like it even more than the first opening, “Freckles”. Siam Shade’s “1/3 Pure Heart Emotion” is fucking awesome too, especially with its accompanying graffiti art animation.
For those not already familiar with it, the English dub is well done. The casting is what mostly stands out, particularly because I feel the same way about Mayo Suzukaze as Kenshin as many people do about Masako Nozawa as Goku. I realize Kenshin is meant to be effeminate and has a relatively small constitution, but he’s definitely not an 8 year-old boy. I find it impossible to take Kenshin’s original voice seriously, especially during his violent “battousai” phase, and it’s enough that I’d take any dub over the original. Sorry folks. Richard Cansino carries a similar light, gentle tone with him that’s more suitable for Kenshin’s age. Not to mention his starker, sterner tone when Kenshin’s personality switches stands out far more and further emphasizes the difference between each of his two halves while also being more threatening due to his more mature tone. The line delivery isn’t always perfect depending on the assigned actor, however. Dorothy Elias-Fahn as Kaoru can be irritatingly shrill, and Lex Lang can be somewhat monotone as Sanosuke despite being a perfect voice. But Philece Sampler is hilarious fun as Misao.
When everything’s said and done, Rurouni Kenshin deserves better than what this series gave us. Outside of the Kyoto arc, even the material it adapts from the manga is weakened. The filler is an insult to the canonical storylines and setting as well as being downright painful to sit through. If you want a number, I’d gladly slap an 8 on the Kyoto arc alone, but I’m not rating the Kyoto arc. I’m rating all 94 episodes. Even the score I’ve given it is generously curved in the Kyoto arc’s favor because of how the amount of terrible filler dwarfs the length of the Kyoto arc. With this recent trend of manga re-adaptations giving worthy revivals to old manga that was mishandled, I hope to the bottom of my heart Rurouni Kenshin will get the treatment it truly deserves. Funny enough, the outlier in how incredibly well the anime adapted the Kyoto arc here and made it better than it was before with remarkable animation, dynamic perspective, and color theming, makes me think a newer anime would be unlikely to match this series’ adaptation in quality. It’d be worth doing the manga in its entirety again however to improve the pre-Kyoto stories and finally take on what’s after them. Will it happen? Who knows, but I’m waiting patiently.
Maybe we who haven’t gone back and finished this anime until now have prevented a new one from happening. It seems like many people are perfectly satisfied with their memories of this show that’s actually extremely troubled, and it frequently ranks on “best of all time” lists. Ultimately though, this anime as a whole is not a classic, and I recommend no one watch it in its entirety. If you want my advice, then read the manga up to the Kyoto arc, watch the Kyoto arc, and then finish the manga. You could watch the pre-Kyoto stuff too because it’s not -that- much worse, but I don’t think it’s worth it. Let’s let it be known that Rurouni Kenshin needs to come back and become the anime series we wanted it to be.
The characters are great and well developed, which is the sort of thing you’ll expect from a shounen action series, of this calibre. But the character that truly stands out is "Kenshin", with his 3 contrasting personalities; dopy Kenshin, noble protector Kenshin and manslayer Kenshin and it is interesting how all of this is crammed into a single character. However there are a few brat-like characters that can get quite annoying at times but it doesn’t take much away from the show.
There were two things I had to consider when looking into the quality of the animation; the time it was made and how well it depicted scenes. The animation quality of RK is exactly what you’d expect from something made in the 90s however when it comes down to it, it is really good especially during the action sequences. It is able to show the true intensity of the intense fights however those kinds of fights happen to rarely in RK.
The music on the other hand isn’t all that special and there are only a few noticeable good tunes that go well, with the situations. The OP and ED themes are a range of catchy and annoying tunes however you’ll definitely find some of them really enjoyable and hard to get out of your head. Another thing I just have to mention is that RK is one of those few anime that even a Sub anime fan like myself, actually prefered viewing the Eng. Dub version (uncut).
Overall RK is definitely one of the classic Shounen anime series that every shounen anime fan must watch. There a great deal of action, comedy and drama; with a superb story to back it up. The characters are also well developed and bring forth some really emotional moments but some are just plain annoying. Also little things like stupidly thought-up enemies and the huge number of cheesy moments reduce the overall quality of this fine anime. Another thing that badly affected the series was that it ended with a bunch of fillers but if you don’t get bothered by all this, then you’ll definitely enjoy RK.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan
2. Kodomo no Omocha (TV)
3. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars
4. Tenkuu no Escaflowne
5. Hana yori Dango
6. Fushigi Yuugi
7. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS
8. Gokinjo Monogatari
9. Kaitou Saint Tail
10. Jigoku Sensei Nube