They’re the best Anime that 2000 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Gravitation, Blue Gender, Love Hina, and more!
MAL Score: 6.98
All Shuichi ever dreamed about was following in the footsteps of his pop idol, Ryuichi Sakuma and the band Nittle Grasper. Together with his best friend Hiro, Shuichi’s formed a band called Bad Luck and they’ve even managed to get signed to a major recording label! Unfortunately, the studio deadlines are looming and Shuichi still hasn’t finished the lyrics for any of the songs. What he needs is a little inspiration… but he’s been running a little low in that department lately. While Hiro recommends finding a girlfriend, fate has other things in store for him…
Walking through the park late one night, Shuichi’s latest lyrics flutter away and land at the feet of a stunning stranger that takes his breath away. Unfortunately, that mysterious stranger happens to be the famous novelist Eiri Yuki, who completely crushes the young singer by telling him he has “zero talent”. Now, Shuichi’s so annoyed that he’s managed to finish his song just so he can find and confront Yuki once again. But, are his actions really motivated by anger, or has he actually fallen in love?
STORY – I would venture to say that Gravitation was probably one of the first of its kind. Certainly, this was the title that opened the floodgates for hundreds of other shounen-ai titles at the turn of the century. Sure, if you pick through the music and ignore the gay pairing, you leave yourself with a simple, old-fashioned love story about one person pursuing another’s love while a troubled past stands between them. Nothing new there at all. But Murakami’s decision to intermix a very strong musical plotline together with the core romance was a very smart move indeed and probably one of the main reasons I took to this series so readily. I really appreciated the fact that Shuichi’s attention was split fifty-fifty between his career and Yuki — this balance made things interesting in so many different ways because there were times when Shuichi’s two goals seemed to go against each other and he had to decide which was more important. The fact that he sometimes had trouble putting one above the other made him easy to sympathize with, and it was refreshing to see that the romance wasn’t always the absolute central point of the series.
I also really enjoyed the insight into the music industry, though much of it was certainly exaggerated. It’s amusing in a way how much I shirk away from caring about the rival bands and scandals for musicians in real life, but Gravitation got my attention anyway. The drama was good, and I suppose you grow to care about these characters much more than those in reality. Unfortunately, Yuki’s deep, dark past could be considered the most cliché aspect of the entire series, and even in my fangirl days, I was never really impressed by it. Still, within the thirteen episode series, the subject is skirted around constantly and details always remain a bit fuzzy around the edges. I suppose it’s partially because much of the series is very comedic and the horribly tragedies of the past are only explored enough for the present to make sense. It works alright enough, but it certainly isn’t anything amazing.
All in all, Gravitation’s story is a good, fun twist on a simple, old love story. While not perfect by any means, it’s still both a brilliant comedy and a touching romance, and there’s enough little surprises to keep you excited for the entirety of its run!
CHARACTER – I don’t think there was a single bad character in this entire series. Each and every one of them had some sort of role to fill and had their moment in the spotlight. Though there were a few classic archetypes like Yuki, the dark and mysterious one, and Hiro, the best friend, somehow the little quirks in their personalities made them seem a little less typical. Yuki especially, armed with his tragic past, was an interesting character to follow because he himself admits that he doesn’t understand himself. In retrospect, his probably wasn’t the most accurate or the most convincing account of trauma and psychological health problems in the world, it works well enough for the story’s purposes.
Shuichi was a fun protagonist, considering he was also one of the series’ primary sources of comedy relief (in the first episode, he was late for a meeting because he had to go save a turtle being harassed by a bunch of kids, you know). Spastic and crazy most of the time, he’s moments of seriousness almost seem random, but where Yuki’s past only worked well enough, Shuichi’s dynamic personality actually worked very well. It’s clear that his love started off as simple infatuation and that he had to deal with mostly un-reciprocated feelings for several episodes; it was thus intriguing to watch how his generally happy personality dealt with the chaos, turmoil, and heavy uncertainty that came with the relationship he found himself in. It was also nice to see a character that wasn’t always sure of himself and his feelings — even though it was easy for the audience to tell how he felt, Shuichi still questioned himself and the "purity" of his love wasn’t cheapened by the absolute certainty other characters sometimes have.
Pretty much all of the other characters are also worth mentioning, but I’ll try to be more brief for the rest of them: Ryuuichi and Tohma are probably the most interesting characters aside from our main boys. Both front one image of themselves while maintaining ulterior motives that are both understandable, easy to sympathize with, and realistic enough, making them more whole as characters. K and Sakano, both wonderfully unique and quirky, aid Shuichi in the comic relief, and they do it oh so very well. Tachi, and to a lesser extent, the rest of ASK, are probably the flatest characters in the entire series, which is rather impressive, I think, because they’re not that unbelievable of characters despite that. And though Gravi is a very obviously bishounen-centric series, the three whole female characters we get are all fairly respectable. Mika, Noriko, and Ayaka all serve their roles well and don’t bring down their sex! Power to that.
ART & ANIMATION – The animation was more or less average. It wasn’t outstandingly exceptional, but nor was it terrible and poorly done. Some introductory scenes are made to look like a live action piece, which made things interesting, but again it isn’t anything eye-popping. The bright and flashing lights during performances were good and realistic; some of the backgrounds throughout the series also looked quite nice because of similar effects. Though the characters are drawn in a pretty generic style for the most part, super deformed chibi people jump in quite often for emphasis and comical effect. The "normal" characters don’t much resemble Murakami’s original style, but thats probably partially due to the fact that Murakami’s style changed dramatically during the course of her twelve volume manga. The chibi style on the other hand, is pretty easy to recognize as Murakami’s own.
MUSIC – Gravitation is everything about the music. The music in this series is what makes it complete, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. From beginning to end, Gravitation is filled with perfectly appropriate background music, no matter how long or short the clip or scene is. Many a times, insert songs are rehashed as soft instrumental and piano versions, helping to bring in familiar themes for emphasis and emotion.
J-rock artist Kinya Kotani sings all of Bad Luck’s music in the series. Though his music has changed significantly since his work in Gravitation, his work at the time suited Bad Luck very well because Kinya’s personality was near identical to Shuichi’s. Seriously! Someone like that actually did exist in real life! "The Rage Beat," Bad Luck’s main insert song is incredibly upbeat and energetic, perfect for pumping up the audience; it’s also very inspiring to listen to and helps gear everyone up for some exciting confrontation. "The Rage Beat" actually plays once an episode for like the first five episodes, but you don’t really tire of it. If anything, you get more excited for it every time. "Blind Game Again," the band’s other insert song is equally energetic, though a bit more serious sounding, which fits very well with when its used. Nittlegrasper’s only song in the series is "Sleepless Beauty," which is performed by K.ITO + D.K. (Kenichi Ito and Daisuke Kuroda) It’s a breathtaking song and also suits the band very well.
Funnily enough, Murakami obviously got her inspiration for some of the characters in Gravitation from real life groups. Nittlegrasper, a legend in the series, is comprised of Tohma Seguchi (keyboardist), Noriko Urai (keyboardist), and Ryuichi Sakuma (vocalist and lyricist). Nittlegrasper disbands with Ryuichi leaving to pursue a solo career in America, and Tohma becoming the president of NG, a producing company. Now, Icemen was a real life j-rock band, though they certainly weren’t as famous as Nittlegrasper, they performed "Shining Collection," Nittlegrasper’s song in the Gravitation OVA. Icemen is comprised of Daisuke Asakura (keyboardist), Kenichi Ito (guitarrist), and Michihiro Kuroda (vocalist). Icemen disbanded in 2000 with Kuroda leaving to pursue a solo career in America, and Daisuke is now the very capable producer of many j-pop/j-rock bands. Including Kinya Kotani. And K.ITO + D.K. And Yousuke Sakanoue (who did Gravi’s OP theme). NG produces all the music for Bad Luck. DA produces all the music for Kinya. Well, what a coincidence! The change that Murakami made was adding in Noriko, the purple-haired keyboardist in place of Kenichi, the red-haired guitarrist. But wait, Hiro, of Bad Luck, is a red-haired guitarrist! And they’re both on white guitars no less! Guess she was trying to make it less obvious where she got her inspiration.
Really though. The music in Gravitation is fantastic. The OP theme is one of the few that I actually sat through every single time because I was so enthralled by its energy. The ED theme is similarly entrancing, though with a slower, calmer melody. Good stuff guys, seriously.
DUBBING & VOCALS – The original voices in Gravitation are exceptional. A lot of renowned voice actors worked in this anime, and they all live up to their name. Seki Tomokazu works Shuichi’s personality beautifully. His voice is energetic and strong when need be, and softer, more quiet and scared when need be; the emotion that rings in Shuichi’s voice is incredibly convincing. Shuichi’s singing voice is that of Kinya Kotani, and I’ve already rambled about that. Ryuichi’s voice has a similar effect with emotion. Yamaguchi Kappei has played a lot of famous leads, including Ranma and Inuyasha, and though he doesn’t play lead in this anime, his character is nonetheless quite essential and a good voice never hurt in that. And since Ryuichi’s character changes so quickly from second to second, it’s amazing that he sounds so good. His normal, chibi, cute character is fitted with a perfectly adorable and simply lovable voice. It really does sound as if a child is running around and squealing about the Monster Gao and cars going zoom. Then, quickly, in the blink of an eye, Ryuichi will be serious and his voice suiting him just as wonderfully.
My favorite voice in the series is neither singer however, but rather, Tohma Seguchi, for he is voiced by Orikasa Ai. You can’t really can’t tell Tohma was voiced by a woman unless you already knew. She does a phenomenal job with it, making Tohma a strong and eeriely convincing character. He can show support and kindness when he wants to and give calm and simply chilling orders when he’s irked. Tohma means buisness; he gets what he wants. And that’s made perfectly clear. Orikasa Ai is also the voice of Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo!, and not to mention Quatre from Gundam Wing, who looks freakishly like Tohma’s twin.
Gravitation has been licensed and dubbed in the US by The Right Stuf International. Because TRSI hasn’t worked with that many series, the names on the cast list are unfamiliar and unimpressive for the most part. I bought the first two DVDs when they came out and thus saw the first six episodes dubbed. I couldn’t do it anymore after that. As a fan of the series, I realize I was probably (and still am) a bit purist about it, but I usually consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for bad dubs (I made it through ten episodes of the 4Kids One Piece, after all). Gravitation’s dub was just that awful. All of the characters sounded flat and unemotional, and they all sounded like they had the same voice actor. Shuichi wasn’t nearly as energetic as he should have been. It was simply bizarre hearing Tohma with a very generic man’s voice. Yuki’s voice was probably the most forgivable, but that’s probably because his archetype was the easiest to type cast for. One of these days, I might go back and watch those DVDs again for a second impression, but when the original is just so damn good, I don’t know why I would. (My impression of the dub does not affect my score in the "sound" category of this review.)
OVERALL – Gravitation really is a piece of work. It can go from absolutely hilarious to troublingly dark (and vice versa) in three seconds flat. You get two stories at once, two missions, two goals. You seem to jump back and forth from one to the other, but in truth, they’re both intertwined through relationships and an mysterious history, making things quite intriguing. Gravitation is worth a watch, even if you aren’t particularly fond of shounen-ai. In the end, it’s a romantic comedy with a dark twist, and I’ve known a good number of people who don’t care for the genre at all to have fallen in love with this series because the boy’s love isn’t the point. (Just a plus.)
The story follows Shuichi Shindou, a 19 year old vocalist trying to make it big in the music industry and Eiri Yuki, a young, cool and cold romance novelist and pretty much revolves around the couple’s careers, love life and past. Nothing complicated or confusing neither is it plot less or pointless. The series is short, only 13 episodes long but every episode is filled with quality; it’s well paced, never did it ever feel even slightly slow or boring. It’s simply entertaining which is what an anime should be!
Shuichi is a generic uke; he’s loud, cute, innocent, has a feminine body (which he uses for his failed plans) and is quite open about his love towards Eiri yet he’s a loveable character. I don’t usually like characters with this sort of annoying personality but with Shuichi he grows on you, maybe because its quite nice to have such an energetic character as the main lead.
Eiri is….a cool guy, look wise and personality wise. He’s the classic “Tall, dark and handsome” character fan girls scream over. When I said before it revolves around the couples past, its actually his past that it’s focused on (I mean, seriously, you can’t expect Shuichi to have a dark past now could you?)
Other characters include Hiro and Suguru who are the other members of Shuichi’s band ‘Bad Luck‘, Mr K their manager, Mr Sakano their producer, Tohma Seguchi their boss, Eiri’s brother in law and a member of Shuichi’s favourite band ‘Nittle Grasper’ etc. The cast of Gravitation is likeable, they’re mostly used for comic relief and for a 13 episode show they all carry a decent amount of distinct characteristics. Tohma reminds me of some petite pretty boy gangster though, the way he handles certain situations and is one of the more serious characters.
Here comes the music. A very important part in any anime, even more so in this one since it’s a show all about music. The music and themes in this are just simply fun and personally I quite liked them – the opening and other songs the band sung had some techno in it which made the songs really funky, which I enjoyed since I don’t really listen to techno. The piano themes used when there’s a ‘heart-warming moment’ or whatever got me every time (in a good way) and the ending is used to create a cliff-hanger moment at the end of each episode.
However, it sort of annoyed me that they recycle the same song/scenes every time they showed Bad Luck singing – only a couple of other times did they use new footage or songs. The music aren’t masterpieces but it’s a great listen.
If outfits come under art, I would down rate the art because the performing outfits that Shuichi and Ryuichi wore are HORRIBLE. They look like some bad cop out from the 80’s which I don’t understand how it managed to find its way into this show since Gravitation came out in 2000. Then again, I don’t live in Japan so I don’t really know how singers dress there, though I’m pretty sure no singer in their right mind would dress like that. Other than that little critique the art was fine. The cover shown in the summary pretty much tells you what the art is like – bright, pretty and cute, so not much more I can really discuss on that.
In my opinion, Gravitation is one the best shounen ai out there to date. The only reason why I say “one of” is simply because I haven’t watched all the shounen ai out there, but even so it’s still up there because it also does well as an anime. It’s well funny, throughout the series I had had many good laughs. There are extremely lame and stupid moments (e.g. Shuichi dressing in dog costume) that had made me cringe but I guess that’s just part of the course. There are also shocking pause-the-screen-to-take-in-what-just-happened moments which either puts a huge grin on my face or make me look completely dumbfounded.
The music industry aspect is quirky, serving much humorous content with the sheer craziness of it all and does make the audience doubt the music industry of today if that’s how it’s really run. And even though it is shounen ai, don’t be completely put off by it – I guess if you ever want to explore this genre then Gravitation is a good or perhaps the only place to start.
With every episode I hoped that the next one will be better, but unfortunately they all were at the same low level. An over-emotional immature kid who’s able to sing only one or two sings through all the 13 episodes, with huge eyes and pink hair, dressed in some funny coat and shorts. Thanks, I’ll pass.
Instead of funny, try pathetic. I don’t remember laughing much when I watched it. And when I did it was more of the silly actions of the main character than of the actual humor. The art isn’t stunning either, the music even worse.
There were, of course, some scenes that I liked, but not many of them. The only character I could like was Yuki Eiri because of his outwardly cold and indifferent demeanor. But even that wasn’t good enough to begin liking the anime in the slightest. I survived to the end of it and was glad to be able to finally remove it from my HD. Well, the last episodes I watched thinking ‘only 4 (or less) left, if I survived till now, I can finish it as well’.
And ever since I watched it I’m wondering how it’s possible that so many people worship it. I cannot understand it. For me, it was probably the worst anime I’ve ever seen.
9: Blue Gender
English: Blue Gender
Japanese: BLUE GENDER
MAL Score: 7.04
Blue Gender takes place in the not too distant future in a world where things have gone terribly wrong for humanity. Humans have been replaced at the top of the food chain by the Blue, a race of bug-like aliens that have colonized Earth and pushed humans aside. A space station, Second Earth, has been constructed as a safe haven for humans, with the hope of one day reclaiming the Earth once more.
Yuji Kaido was cryogenically frozen, having been suffering from a disease known as B-Cells. Once awakened, he joins a team of soldiers that have come to Earth to extract him. Unfortunately, nothing goes according to plan as they make their way back to Second Earth.
Yuji will have to deal with the horrors of fighting a bloody war as he and the fighters from Second Earth look to survive. Will they be able to win back Earth without losing their humanity?
Story: The initial idea, I must admit, isn’t very original. Giant bugs VS. human beings has been done many times over, but this isn’t the entire focus of Blue Gender. A variety of locations, plotlines and situations are introduced, the vast majority of them well developed. A wide range of issues related to maturation, bonding, dealing with death/violence and mankind’s self-destructive nature are explored, and the political intrigue in the latter half of the series is also a nice touch.
Art: Probably the weakest part of the series. While the gritty character designs are appropriate, the art often dips into noticeably distorted bad spots and is, honestly, a little bland. Don’t expect too much in the animation department either, except for more important action scenes.
Sound: The music in Blue Gender ranges from the catchy OP, to the ambient (and often somewhat unsettling) background music throughout each episode, to the understated and beautiful ED. Overall, very good.
Character: One of the best points of the series. Even minor characters are given a considerable degree of background and personality, and the leads develop to a significant extent as they gain new experiences and face new trials. I felt that the characters behaved realistically, had understandable motivations and had more depth than those in most other series I’ve seen. In addition, the matter of relationships (and sex) is handled in a refreshing way that is, in most cases, tasteful.
Enjoyment/Overall: Blue Gender is an action-packed, frightening and ultimately great series. It should be noted that it is rather violent, regularly deals with disturbing topics and, at many points, tells a rather morose and bleak story. However, within this melancholy framework is something that is poignant, intriguing and worthy of praise. I would highly recommend Blue Gender to anyone mature enough to handle it, and to those that want a series that explores some of the darker aspects of humanity and its role in the universe.
STORY- A man awakens 12-years after being put in a state of suspended animation to find that the earth has been over run by giant bugs know only as the Blue. He is resuced and taken back to mankinds last safe haven called second earth which is a sapce station. Their he disocvers that he has the power to destroy the Blue and take back the Earth in order to save humanity.
ART- The art of the show is not the best, but very well done. It is done in a style that is remanicent of the Gundam Wing series, and is an older form of animation. The type not typicaly seen in newer animes, but don’t let that get you down, because as I said before its still done very well.
SOUND- The music of Blue Gender is very good, the opening theme is one that will stick in your head, and the use of music is done very well and in the right spots to help set the tone and pace of the series.
CHARACTERS- This is where Blue Gender really shines. The differnt chacerts that are introduced through out the series are the ones with the most human aspect that I think I have ever seen in an anime series. They have their veiws about life and love and humanity as a whole, and the way they adapt and change through out the series is done very well. You can help but get involed with them due to these human aspects that we all feel.
ENJOYMENT- This is a 26 episode series that I finished in a matter of days, I was glued to the screen wanting to see what was going to happen next. Its a more mature anime series due mainly to the dialog and violance, but those are things that I didn’t really notice too much, beacuse they are typical everyday human behaviors, which is another reason way I loved this anime series so much was the human elemnt that they brought to the series.
OVERALL- WOW! this seires was amazing, if you’ve heard about it and have’nt seen it, then put it on your list of things to watch very soon, you won’t regret it. If you’ve never heard of Blue Gender and want to see an anime with great characters, and a compelling story, then this is the one for you. It’s just one of those shows you can’t help but love.
For any of you who have seen the movie Starship Troopers, there are quite a few similar elements in Blue Gender. Despite our staggering intelligence and development, mankind is getting owned by some huge bug-like monsters. The difference here is that the bugs have already taken over Earth, forcing a small proportion of our population to flee to an orbiting space station. However, all hope is not lost since mankind is initiating an operation to retake our glorious planet. At the heart of this mission are people called "sleepers" and enter our main character.
We follow Kaido Yuji as he wakes up to a post apocalyptic Earth and follow the poor guy as he is dragged along a harrowing gauntlet of bloodshed toward a shuttle to escape into space…and that’s really only the prologue. The feeling you get watching Blue Gender is similar to Starship Troopers. The battlefield is chaotic, the enemy seems unstoppable, and soldiers are being ripped apart by the dozens. However, unlike Starship Troopers, this show’s storyline goes much deeper, has a much darker feel, and definitely delivers more than just gory action.
Anyone who enjoys raw brutality and violence surely won’t be disappointed and there’s even a damn good story behind it. I think the only reason I can’t give it a 10 has to do with the characters. I personally never really connected with any of them though this is no wonder since the majority of them die without warning. Definitely not for the faint of heart or the easily depressed. Just a fair warning :))
8: Love Hina
English: Love Hina
MAL Score: 7.12
Keitaro Urashima promised a girl when he was young that they would meet up again at Tokyo University in the future. Sadly, in the National Practice Exam, Keitaro ranked 27th from the bottom. Knowing his grandmother owned a hotel, Keitaro intended to stay there while continuing his studies for Tokyo U, only to find out the hotel had long been transformed into an all-girls dormitory. Through an odd twist of fate, Keitaro eventually became the manager of the dorm, beginning his life of living with five other girls.
So, a young man called Urashima Keitaro suddenly finds himself working as the manager for an all-girls dormitory. Yes, you can probably see where that story is going. Lots of slapstick humor, romance and funniness is the recipe for this show. I think it’s pretty cool, and if you like romance/harem anime, this is a definite must-see.
I’ve watched Love Hina before way back when I was still a kid and I remember loving this series, but after re-watching this series 10+ years later, I began to question my taste for anime because Love Hina is by far one of the most stupid and ridiculous anime I’ve ever watched and I can’t believe it’s actually possible for me to hate an anime this much.
I’m writing this review at the risk of getting viciously mauled by an angry mob of Love Hina fans who will do anything to defend their beloved anime, so I’ll try not to be too harsh on this. Okay, time to get started with this rant—I mean review.
The characters of Love Hina are soooo darn GENERIC and just downright ANNOYING that I need to punch the wall just to appease my frustration. Let me introduce them.
— Urashima, Keitarou – The main protagonist. He is really dumb and extremely unreliable but he is very persevering (Sounds familiar?) and he makes a good punching bag for Naru.
— Narusegawa, Naru – The main heroine. She’s a tsundere on drugs who’s got nothing better to do besides beating up Keitarou EVERY…SINGLE…DARN…TIME!!!.
— Aoyama, Motoko – The very typical “Ice Queen” of the harem.
— Maehara, Shinobu – The kind and pure-hearted middle schooler *cough* loli bait.
— Su, Kaolla – The awfully annoying and carefree kid in the harem.
— Konno, Mitsune – The “mature” one.
— Otohime, Mutsumi – The airhead.
I don’t have a problem with harems, in fact, I love them (not including reverse harems) so I’m quite used to stereotypical girls, but the girls in Love Hina are just so darn annoying that it’s impossible for me to like any of them. The one I have the biggest problem with though is not one of the girls, it’s the stupid MC Keitarou! because he is just so fucking useless and unreliable! I JUST FUCKING HATE THIS GUY!!!. He doesn’t have any redeeming qualities whatsoever except for his undying perseverance and hard work that leads to nothing most of the time.
The story revolves around Keitaro and the “promise” but mostly, the episodes are just stupid fillers designed to prolong this stupid anime. The fillers doesn’t contribute to the plot one bit and can get really really random, for example, ancient turtle civilizations? seriously? come on, they can do better than that. I wish they focused more on the main plot because I was actually curious who’s this mysterious “promise” girl.
Although I have lots of bad things to say about this anime, I can’t deny the fact that I did get some laughs watching Love Hina, but the jokes becomes so repetitive (Naru beating up Keitarou) I’m laughing no more.
~Love Hina’s formula for comedy~
Keitarou + accidents + misunderstanding = Naru beating the crap out of him
The art is fine, I don’t really have much complaints about it because it’s a very typical art for an old anime.
I actually liked the OP and ED and I kinda felt nostalgic hearing them again. The OP is kinda catchy, although it annoyed some viewers, I’m not annoyed by it at all.
As for the Japanese voice acting, there’s one voice that grabbed my attention, the voice of Motoko. Her voice is adorable especially when she is screaming. The voices of the other characters are also good and fits the characters quite well.
I recommend this to you if…
you like generic harem anime.
you like old and repetitive jokes.
you like an extremely violent tsundere heroine and a pathetic loser MC.
But if you’re not any of what I mentioned above, I suggest you cross this out on your list now, because I guarantee you’ll hate this one.
For as innovative as they may have wanted us to think the animation is, it’s just bad. I know cel animation anime that flow far more smoothly than this. It jerks, the characters are often disproportioned, character movement is erratic and often impossible even by anime standards. Backgrounds are nice looking but that’s about it.
The BGM had my ears bleeding. It’s an example of why amateurs shouldn’t be playing with artificial synthesizers. It’s all over the place, never appropriate, and nothing you would ever want to hear stand-alone. The only decent thing the series manages is a very catchy OP sequence, but with repeated listening, even that will beging to grind on your eardrums.
Enough about the technical aspects, Love Hina is based off the manga by Ken Akamatsu. It’s a fantastic romantic comedy and the series roots itself in the concepts that made the original very popular. In fact, many of the main story is well scripted and executed, but then manages to make everything likeable about the story horrible. The comedic timing is off, the dialogue is laughably awful, and of course there is no nudity. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not some horndog wanting to see the girls nude, but don’t have twenty-thousand bath scenes and all the girls bathe wearing towels. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Either make an ecchi series or don’t!
But that’s not the worst part, oh no. What really makes this series near-unbearable is the godless amount of filler. 1/3 of the series doesn’t even correspond with the story, introduces meaningless characters who serve absolutely no purpose, and only serves to annoy the viewer who slowly realizes what he or she has been cheated out of.
Speaking of characters, the core cast stays very true to the original idea whether you like them or hate them, but when the series devolves to filler it feels like the characters become stereotypical versions of themselves. Not only that, but the spotlight is put on meaningless filler characters who only add minor and inconsequential conflict for the allotted time of the episode they’re in. Development is slow and often unrecognizable for the majority of the cast, sans Keitaro, Naru and arguably Shinobu. It’s just very unsatisfying given the length of the series, and what is done with the characters.
You know, the first time I watched it, I wanted to like it but the more I watched, the more I realized I was watching crap. My 12-year-old cousin who watched the series with me lost all interest in anime after finishing this I kid you not. Let that be a warning to anyone who thinks that because this anime is popular, that it’s also good.
Overall, Love Hina gets a 4 out of 10.
7: Ayashi no Ceres
English: Ceres, Celestial Legend
MAL Score: 7.21
Ceres was a tennyo (Celestial maiden) who came down from the heavens to bathe in a stream. She hung her hagoromo (robe) on a tree nearby, which was her key to returning to the heavens. But the robe was stolen and the man who had stolen it forced her to become his wife, thus producing a family full of human and tennyo blood mixed.
Now, in modern day time, Aya Mikage is a descendent of Ceres, and has quite an amount of tennyo blood. On her 16th birthday, she and her twin brother, Aki, are thrown a party. At the “party,” Aya’s grandpa plans to kill her, for she has tennyo powers unlike the rest of the family, and can actually become Ceres herself and destroy the Mikage family. Aya, however, can switch back, so this transformation happens quite frequently.
With protector Yuuhi by her side, it is up to Aya to control Ceres and keep her from coming back, but her relationship with an ex-worker for her evil grandpa may be a distraction.
It starts off very peacefully, with Aya Mikage and her twin brother Aki spending time with their friends, celebrating the twins’ 16th birthday. However, this peaceful day is interrupted by Aya falling off a bridge, down on the highway underneath. Miraculously, she lands without getting a scratch, and she’s saved from cars on a collision course by a mysterious, red-headed man. And that day marks the end of the happy days for the two.
They are summoned to the family mansion to celebrate their 16th birthday, but instead, they end up being the victims of the Mikage family’s gruesome rite of killing off female descendants with strong tennyo powers in them. Said powers suddenly awaken, preventing her from getting killed.
From here on, the story goes darker, deeper and angstier as we’re thrown into the mess that Aya suddenly finds herself in, being hunted by her own family all of a sudden. She has to deal with the fact that her twin brother has turned into a reincarnation of an evil man from the past, and she has to make sure Ceres doesn’t take over her body completely. This leads to some great action scenes, as Ceres emerges to fight the Mikage family from time to time, with her astounding powers.
And then there’s the love, the beautiful, yet sad love that is Aya’s and Toya’s love – Toya is the guy who saved her, but also a Mikage henchman, which means he’s out to get her. However, he slowly falls in love with her, and her with him, despite the two of them being enemies. Now they must find a way to live out their love without the Mikage family or Ceres, who has a vendetta against the Mikages, getting in the way. Of course, there’s Yuhi, and there’s actually some mutual love between Yuhi and Aya as well, creating a love triangle that can rip Aya apart.
The characters in the anime are all very realistically portrayed. From Toya’s quest to find his place in this world to Aya’s struggles to remain herself through all that happens around her. The love that slowly develops between Toya and Aya is never forced, and their relationship progresses nicely over the course of the series.
The side characters are all good too, and despite not having so major roles, they fulfill them excellently, and they are portrayed very well too. Most of the characters you will see have some depth to them, which causes your heart to be with them as well, and not only Aya and Toya.
I’m also fond of the character development that takes place during the course of the series – at the end I could see how much they had matured, obviously having learned a few things about life and love during the events that took place during the course of the series.
Studio Pierrot did a nice job on the animation, and despite it being a bit old, it’s very good. The lighting effects are very well done, though the same can’t always be said about the special effects – they had their moments they too, though. The overall detail is very good, but there’s one thing that bugged me, and that was the fact that their hair seemed transparent when in front of their eyes. You can’t see your eyes through a layer of hair >_
A very original plot line, immersing a young woman on her 16th birthday, into a world of danger and constant threat while those who are around her and those who she loves are hurt. With love triangles that are sometimes heart wrenching and at other times very sweet. And with a very important message which you will be blatantly told if you haven’t already figured it out by the end of the series.
Characters that are simply amazing, follow them all through their pain and trials that they have to overcome. All are excellently portrayed and their feelings really reach you. The romance between some of the characters is just grand, it really gives and shows you the true feeling of love.
Soundtrack is just amazing, opening song: Scarlet, must be hands down one of the best openings for an anime. The background played throughout the anime is outstanding with beautiful instrumental and piano music. The voice actors, just wow, their acting, the feeling they put in each character, it is just outstanding, some scenes I actually think in the recording studio the voice actor actually cried.
What is so good about this anime?
For an anime that was released in 2000 the art is simply amazing. The plot line is so intricate and very original. The romance between various characters that really portray their anguish, sadness, happiness, confusion, and love. An amazing soundtrack that completely fits the mood and just makes you want to listen to the songs over and over again. I have to say, this is one of the best romance anime’s out there. Enjoy this series.
There is precisely one good thing about this series, which is the opening, “Scarlet” by Junko Iwao. Not the weird animation, just the song. I have the Japanese version and the piano only version and they’re quite pleasant and pretty.
You want generic tropes with good ol’ 90s animation? You got it! Toya’s got like double or triple plot amnesia which gives him extra doses of mangst, because what’s a bad shoujo without amnesia? He then meets Aya and for reasons unbeknownst to me, cept that she got through his “cool dude mystique” and decided that he was safe and that she felt safe with him she falls in love with him, because I guess you fall in love with people because of that? Even though she knows nothing about him and barely knows him. Toya then “rediscovers his memories” and then gets Harry Potter syndro-I mean, convenient headaches! And goes back to the dark side! And then we find out that his memories aren’t his memories after all! Because some time ago he was brought in covered in bruises and given false memories that gave him pain when he thought of Aya. When did any of THAT happen, exactly? Who cares, because ONWITHTHESTORY!
And if you think THAT didn’t make sense, I’m not going to get into the rest of the plot because it REALLY doesn’t make sense. Possession, reincarnation, abusive scumbags, spoiled kids with creepy obsessions, underage sex, incest, lots and lots of obsession, attempted child murder, attempted fratricide, stalking, sexist stereotypes… It’s got all kind of fun in it, I guess.
It also really bothered me that the Smart Dude had incredibly tiny glasses which wouldn’t have helped if they were normal-size anyway cause he had these ridiculous bangs in the way and I kept grumbling to myself “cut your friggen hair you incompetent you’re a SCIENTIST” and I LOVE long hair on men so this was incredibly confusing.
Also, common sense? Hahahahaha WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS IS A TERRIBLE SHOUJO NO ONE USES THEIR COMMON SENSE HERE! It’s verboten! (I like shoujo but gods help me I can’t STAND this anime).
Despite the implications of the ending (it’s hilarious, really, you just have to lose your sanity to appreciate it), this series also presents a double standard that’s tropic of reverse harems. Women don’t get harem endings (where the end result is left open to interpretation and more than likely they have an open marriage), so one of the guys (there are typically only two) have to either die or vanish. It’s typically the hotter one, so the underdog who’s “better” for the woman (despite her preferences hahaha women making choices what’s THAT about, amirite??) gets a chance. Well after the woman’s lost her virginity, anyway, since that’s a BIG part of their character development, donchaknow? Interestingly, guys in harem stories typically don’t lose their virginity, if they have it, although male harem stories arguably have the men get sexually assaulted far more often, as a gag joke, so… Yeah I don’t think it evens out but trying to understand this series hurts my brain.
Anyone telling you this series has character growth is a LIAR and you SHOULD NOT listen to them. Unless they mean that after about 18 episodes characters with pretty much zero personality suddenly get backstory at 100 miles an hour. Backstory does not equal character growth but sure, whatever floats your boat.
You want a good shoujo? Well… watch “Yona of the Dawn”. It’s arguably a reverse harem set in a fantasy world. It’s hilarious -on purpose- and well-written and includes a lot of great character development and the animation is pretty. The “Sailor Moon R” film is also a great shojo film about a superpowered woman rescuing her male hubby who is endangered by his ex-boyfriend. Just don’t watch this. Don’t.
6: Kaikan Phrase
Japanese: 快感 フレーズ
MAL Score: 7.37
After the break up of their old band, guitarist Yuki & drummer Santa decide to form a new one. They recruit bass player Towa, young guitarist Atsuro, and after much persuasion, vocalist Sakuya. Together they form Lucifer and they struggle to make it in the music business, and also to stay together. As well, they have to deal with personal issues, such as parental objections, and watching their old bands succeed ahead of them. Sakuya is the most troubled band member, as he has to deal with his tragic past, and his relationship with teenaged lyricist Aine.
The story started of typically. A little bit slow but as it progresses you’ll find yourself hooked. There’s a lot of character development that would make one kind of attached to each band member. It was focused more on the band, on have they struggled, how they developed they’re relationship to each other and how they overcame the obstacles they faced. It was pretty touching and inspiring. The "love story" started of a little bit late but for me it was just the right timing. You’ll see how love can change someone.
Sound is ok, because the anime was done in 1999 so the music is a liitle off my taste. But I most probably would have liked it better if I saw the anime at that time.
I’ll give the characters an outstanding. Each one of them has different characteristics that would make different kind of people relate to them. Nobody stood up annoyingly or overly dramatic. Even the female leads character was done just appropriately.
Obviously I had a fun time watching it. Time well-spent! 44 episodes just not enough.
The artwork is very dated, for something produced in the 90’s, it looks like something from the 70’s, and while they give us a lot of background on the other members of the bands, they water all of it down! This manga is really ONLY interesting because it’s racy and because of the very titillating relationship between the characters. The anime story line made changes from the manga that sterilized everything that was interesting or compelling out of it.
It comes off as a big yawn and if you have read the manga, don’t bother with the anime – you’ll be disappointed. If you have watched the anime, now go read the real deal in the manga – it’s 1000 times better.
The story starts off with making the band; each character is introduced with their set of problems as they try to become professionals. Whilst the band is discovering itself at the grass-roots level we’re frequently made to listen to their sounds, composed of catchy tunes Midnight Crow and Datenshi Blue (which are sang by the real-life Lucifer band – clever of the producers to make an actual band as counterparts for the anime band). The ballad Dakishimeru hokani also leaves quite an impression as it pops up from time to time when the characters go through hardships.
The manga starts off with the female protagonist Aine Yukimura but in the anime she isn’t involved until half-way through the series. Once Aine and the lead vocalist Sakuya meet though the story picks up pace; on the highs and lows of becoming and being big in the music and media scene, ending practically every episode on a climax- yes you just have to watch the next episode (it’s a vicious cycle).
The art of Kaikan Phrase is as expected from animes made in 1999; it is pretty good and you get used to it after the first few episodes.
It would’ve been better if there was a bit more romance in the anime though- would’ve done justice to Mayu Shinjou the mangaka but I guess the emphasise was meant to be on the music world for this anime instead. But otherwise it is quite the enjoyable watch, where we never quite know what Sakuya will say or do- his level of confidence is beyond measure. Expect lots of drama, many dilemmas and a whole lotta music ~ Kaikan phrase.
5: Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
MAL Score: 7.45
A normal looking high school girl on the outside, Kusakabe Maron is actually the reincarnation of Jeanne d’ Arc. With the help of the angel, Fin Fish, Maron works as the thief Jeanne at night to seal the demons that reside in pieces of artwork, preying upon the weak hearts of the owners. She is branded as a thief due to the fact that the artworks disappear after she seals the demons. One day, a new neighbor and classmate appears, as well as a rival in her night job, the thief Sinbad. With her own best friend being the detective’s daughter, out to capture her and the appearance of her new rival, Maron’s work is anything but easy.
KKJ doesn’t exactly provide anything ground breaking story-wise. It’s standard mahou shoujo material. Like many other thieves you may find in other anime, Jeanne oddly enough tells the police beforehand she actually plans to steal something, and magically completes her missions successfully, foiling the police each time. While there is an obvious plotline, majority of the anime is fairly episodic. It follows a monster of the week pattern, so each week (or should I say each episode) Jeanne seals another artwork, normally helping non-returning characters that have problems most likely due to the demons. The second half has the plot picking up, with new (and returning) antagonists as well as development of the romance between the two main characters. It’s fairly standard, but interesting enough if you don’t mind standard to begin with.
Unfortunately, the infamous reused transformation scene is used in KKJ, and is quite frankly an annoyance to watch after the first time. Animation is also reused a lot when it comes to the demon sealing. The animation is bright and colorful, and this being based off a manga by Tanemura Arina of course means awesome character designs, at least for the thieves’ costumes. An irritating number of still screens are also often used in KKJ, detracting enjoyment at times, simply because nobody likes to stare at a still screen when something else could be done. Anyhow, if you’re looking for amazing animation, look no further, because it certainly isn’t here.
Nothing too special can be found from sound either. The opening and endings are fairly catchy, although perhaps a more slow song would have been more fitting for the first ending. Background music is quite forgettable, but at least there’s nothing that ruins the scenes, proving that the BGM does its job. Voice acting is fairly satisfying, with Maron’s VA doing an excellent job showing her strength, will and loneliness. Fin Fish’s VA, while befitting her role, is fairly annoying to listen to however, probably due to the extremely high pitch.
KKJ’s characters would have to be its strongest point. Most of the characters develop throughout the series, especially the leads. Maron is a seemingly happy person, but behind it all is one who suffers from extreme loneliness. Chiaki is a somewhat trouble male who has a reluctance in engaging in any serious romantic relationship with another girl. The developing romantic relationship between her and Chiaki is pretty much the highlight of the show for the romance lovers, but it’s quite predictable from the start how it would all turn out. There’s more to Miyako then what appears at first, with this and the history behind some of the antagonists, make up for a fairly interesting cast of characters.
Did I like it?
If you’re wondering whether I actually enjoyed Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, I didn’t really. I’m a fan of the manga and thought the drama especially portrayed in it was brilliant. I was disappointed when I saw the anime had taken the mahou shoujo approach, with long and tedious transformation scenes, and pointless clashes between Jeanne and the police. I also hate monster of the week setups, as they prove to be far too boring and repetitive.
Overall, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is your everyday mahou shoujo. Complete with transformation scenes, flashy (and unrealistic) action, and a bit of romance here and there. Take that with some of the drama and twists presented in the show, an interesting cast of characters, and we have an anime the mahou shoujo lovers could waste their lives on for a while.
1)must see; 2) must see; 3)must enjoy ^_^
Then I was a teenager I used to watch this and imagined that I am that brave, strong, lissome girl. I knew all phrases when she is transforming and that was my inducement to be better and alarm-clock which woke me up every morning with smile, bravery and impulse to continue what I have started.
Story is about friendship which could be very mystical and disloyal, about love which can be beautiful but in the same made-up, bet from the start till beginning it always is truthful to yourself which teaches us to love ourselves too. Great!
story : 8/10
i said i love this anime, but this anime is really stressed on what is absolute evil and what is absolute kindness, im kinda against that so i personally think this is an anime for younger kids and would like u to know that the plot is great its just my personal issues. There are good points and bad points to both the anime and manga, i recommend watching both. The manga have a better ending, though the anime already have a happy ending(i meant it you are not new to anime you pretty much know all this kinds of anime leads to happy ending) but the manga ending is like even more happy or something?
If you watch both, you will get a very detailed backstory for each main character.
art : 10/10
the art is PERFECT. it is so shoujo-ish, its exactly for girls. Now i would say that the manga actually have better art than the anime but… the anime’ transformation is awesome. so this anime is tittled ‘kamikaze kaitou jeanne”,
and you can kinda guess that it have somethings to do with theives. The main characters actually go through a transformation, which involve flashy lights and lots of turning and stuff. But in the manga its kinda dull, there’s not really the process for transformation, like poof the girl has changed.
sound : 9/10
The sound i great, but its like average… there’s no really good points and there’s no bad points either…
Character : 9/10
the characters are awesome, there’s a lot of backstory given for the girl, and a little for the guy. they have strong personality and there’s so much of character development. But you know you can never have too much. Now in the manga, there’s is more backstory given to fin fish. So it’s best to read both manga and anime.
Overall : 8/10
i know it will be 9/10 if i don have a preference over what kinds i like, so it’s just something personal.
4: Turn A Gundam
MAL Score: 7.70
It is the Correct Century, two millennia after a devastating conflict which left the world broken. Earth is now mostly uninhabitable, and thus a remnant of humanity has resided on the Moon while the Earth and its few survivors recover. For years, the “Moonrace,” the people of the Moon, have continued to check if Earth is fit for resettlement.
A boy named Rolan Cehack and two others are sent down to Earth for a reconnaissance mission. Rolan ends up spending a year on the planet working for the Heim Family, aristocrats living in a Victorian-like society. This family, like others of similar wealthy status, celebrates one’s coming of age with a ceremony involving a giant stone statue known as the “White Doll.”
To Rolan’s surprise, the Moonrace suddenly touches down on Earth with the intent of taking it by force. During the attack, the White Doll is broken apart, revealing a mobile suit called the “Turn A Gundam” inside. With Rolan in its cockpit, the Turn A causes a standoff between the forces of Earth and Moon. The young pilot, along with the people of both sides, must keep the peace and avoid another all-out, catastrophic war.
Breaking away from his Kill ‘Em All melodramas that marked his earlier successes, he came up with a much lighter outlook which has shown in the works after. While Turn A follows the usual teenager finding himself piloting a mecha in a war it manages to present plot devise in an interesting and untried way successfully. The Mecha themselves (by futurist Syd Mead who designed Blade Runner and Tron) are so aesthetically different they border on grotesque. This plays very well in early episodes when the battles take on a very War of the Worlds feel to them. The characters interacting in a typically rich Tomino script are well rounded, likable, and surprisingly complex who carry with them stings of an individual plot that the director skillfully weaves into a deep and complex story. The plot itself is heartwarming, funny, tense and has Machiavellian dealings on both sides of the war. Action does take a back seat to plot development, but as the series progresses fights become faster, more brutal, and with none of the canned battles that tend to pop up in mecha series recently. Yoko Kanno delivers again in the soundtrack, one of my favorites she has done. Of Particular note is Tsuki no mayu which appears in the first episodes in one of the most memorable scenes in the show.
Now if there was a downside I would have to say hardcore action fans would be disappointed in the slower pacing as Tomino slowly develops characters and the political situation. On the plus side this is one of the few Gundam series you do not need prerequisite knowledge to understand what is going on. It also has the single best ending I have ever seen in an anime. Whether you are a mecha fan or not I would implore you to at least give this underrepresented series a try, you will undoubtedly find something to you own liking.
If you’re not familiar with Gundam and the UC universe in particular, then this is not a good place to start.
It does have a stand alone story, but it’s certainly not intended for people who have little to no prior knowledge about the franchise.
This is a spoiler free review.
This one takes place thousands of years in the future in which the only space colony left is on the moon and obviously its population has advanced technology (including mechs of course), meanwhile, the people on earth are still living in a 1930s way of life. Everything is fine and dandy, until one day the moonrace decide to return to their roots, earth. And of course, a war breaks out.
It is a little different from the usual Gundam since it gives one side of the war a clear advantage due to their technology and knowledge on how to use it, while the other side is rather primitive. They also make it clear how different the two cultures are in many interesting ways and the 1930s clothes and technology really give off a unique vibe to this series, it’s something you rarely see in anime in general.
It’s also different because the atmosphere is relatively lighthearted, but at the same time it also deals with its themes and issues with a straight face.
Another thing you’ll notice about Turn A is that even though it follows the Gundam tradition of a boy eventually finding a Gundam – piloting it – fighting in a war and so on.. It also goes through its traditional route in a noticeably unique way that you’d never see elsewhere. Furthermore, it’s also famous for containing various easter eggs from previous Gundams that only fans will immediately recognize.
I must warn you though, that the first episode is very rushed and poorly presented. I don’t know what they were smoking when they made it, but thankfully the next 3 or so episodes slow down and assist in making everything sink in. And much like in most series in the franchise, the pacing in general is kinda slow and it does get faster towards the end. And it’s not really slower than usual so you should be used to this by now.
The story is also very rich since it explores this conflict through the various perspectives of each party that’s involved, whether it’s the citizens, the spies, the soldiers or the leaders of each side. It does this very throughly and it keeps going back and forth from peace or some sense of settlement and then back in to war again so the situation won’t remain static. Also things do get wrapped up very nicely and the story is concluded very well. It also focuses a little more on politics than your average Gundam and as a result it doesn’t have as much action and the battles aren’t on a massive scale with many deaths in each episode either, but it does make sure that most deaths have a certain impact on the story and not just death for the sake of it (I’m looking at you, Victory Gundam).
Overall the story is both more unique and more complex than usual, but as a result it’s also a little more clunky and it felt like it’s a bit much for the show to handle from time to time. Heck, at times it’s even a bit hard to follow because it keeps jumping around, but I still think it’s handled very well for the most part.
As much as I love Gundam in general, I can’t deny that characters and characterization are among the franchise’s biggest weaknesses. Gundam characters normally consist of angsty teens and/or dumb adults who randomly do irrational and unreasonable actions for petty reasons just to take the story in a certain direction. This is a bad thing because it normally makes them feel like slaves to the story without much free will or solid reasoning behind them.
Fortunately, in this particular installment those types of things seem to be toned down significantly. Some characters are even more complex than usual and their motives and dilemmas are a lot more believable and easier to follow.
Whether these motives are related directly to the war, or just normal motives related to their personal lives as a result of the war. This is truly what drives the story forward and not in an overly forced way.
Many characters are inserted in to different inconvenient scenarios throughout the series that inevitably change them over the course of it. Their development in general is given a lot of time and focus.
Even the main character is not your usual Gundam angsty teenage boy either. He’s basically a pacifist, (“I’m on neither side!”) and much like the story, he’s also quite unusual. Oh, and I should probably mention that this boy talks, looks and even dresses up like a girl from time to time. So that might turn off some people (and turn on others, lol).
I’m no fan of these types of characters, but this does make him far more memorable than usual. But besides that, he’s also well portrayed and his actions are usually quite believable. The only downside is that he’s kind of a Mary Sue and he’s mostly the one who’s there to change the people who surround him and not the other way around..
The series even tries to avoid having clear villains, but I’d be lying if I said it completely succeeds, since they do emerge eventually. And some characters even seem like plot devices who’s main purpose is to prolong the conflict between the two sides (quick! throw in some random lunatic before they find an excuse to stop fighting each other!). Though I do like how some characters that seem to be very minor at first, unexpectedly play rather important roles later on.
Overall, for a Gundam series, these characters are handled exceptionally well and are also pretty memorable.
The visuals do have their ups and downs.
On one hand the mecha designs are nothing amazing and the production values in general are a little low for the franchise. The Gundam of this series in particular gives me a craving for Pringles for some reason. With that being said, there are cameos of mechs from other Gundam series, most notably, the Zaku which is present through out most of the series. Now that more than makes up for those weird designs for me.
The animation is overall fairly average, but the battle choreography is noticeably good and well above average, despite having less action in terms of quantity than most Gundams do.. And that’s probably the result of it being on a smaller scale.
In terms of character designs, they aren’t the most detailed, but are expressive enough and they do have an interesting variety in their features. Each one looks very different from the other and the 1930s clothes add a lot to it as well.
The first opening is a pop song (I guess) and it isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but you get used to it and at least the lyrics fit perfectly with what the series is about. And pretty much the same can be said for the second opening.
The ending songs aren’t bad, but are way too quiet for me to remember and the soundtrack in general doesn’t have much variety but it does fit the series’ tone and it’s very noticeable. Especially one track in particular that had a violin in it, or something..
I don’t speak Japanese, but voice acting is also ok, I guess, but nothing really stands out about it.
I enjoyed it very much of course.
It’s an exceptional Gundam series and a great anime on its own as well.
Though admittedly, not every Gundam fan would appreciate it because of how different it is. I guess you either love it or hate it.
thats the way of Turn A Gundam.
i enjoyed it very much, got deeply sought in.
even more than by the literary quality of storytelling and the excellent work of all the participating visual and performing artists i was deeply impressed by the great respect toward nature and humanity as a part of it. the smallest thing was allowed to create its own beauty, the least important character was granted its complexity. so this is giving an idea how far you may advance the art of animated film.
the title is programme, but again a mark for the thoughtful balance of this oustanding art piece – a programme not only for the makers also for the recipient. so at least you have to decide how good Turn A Gundam might be for you…
…and. may be there is no turn back!
3: Seikai no Senki
English: Banner of the Stars
MAL Score: 7.70
Three years since the end of their intergalactic excursion, both Lafiel Abriel and Jinto Linn have reunited; Lafiel as the captain of the attack ship Basroil and Jinto as her supply officer. The restart of the war between the Abh Empire and the Triple Alliance thrusts the inexperienced duo into the forefront of the deadly conflict.
As the catastrophic battle between pure humankind and their greatest creation, the Abh, rages on, both sides accept that their conflict is not merely about territory, but about settling the inherent differences between themselves.
Seikai no Senki, or Banner of the Stars, is the 13 episode sequel to Crest of the Stars. It follows the development of the relationship between Lafiel, the Abh princess, and Jinto, son of the administrator of a planet that surrendered and got his family made into Abh nobility.
In Banner of the Stars, Lafiel is now captain of her own Assault ship. Jinto, who promised Lafiel that he would study hard and become a supply officer, has been requisitioned to join Lafiel’s crew aboard the Basroil. He brings with him Diaho, the ginger cat Lafiel bequeathed to him at the end of Crest of the Stars.
Banner of the Stars is about the Abh Empire’s quest to retake territories they lost to The United Mankind. As such, a majority of the story is made up of battle scenes, which are quite well done. The only drawback to the animation is that they re-used those scenes a LOT, similarly with the soundtrack, or I would have rated it a lot higher.
Character development again, is key. You identify with Jinto, and to a lesser extent, Lafiel. There are those characters that you love to hate, and those are well done also. Even Diaho, the cat, is a character in his own right.
The story was a lot better than Crest of the Stars, and overall Banner of the Stars was good, just not as outstanding as some of the other high quality recent releases.
When looking at an anime like Banner of the Stars I, it becomes an interesting task to put one’s own life into perspective. While they are dealing with space, war, and strategies, it makes our own problems seem miniscule in comparison. Forgetting to turn off the light in that room, misplacing the car keys, or not having something nice to wear for dinner become afterthoughts instead of vitally pressing issues. But what this next iteration in the Crest of the Stars series shows is that, despite such massive hardships encircling our persons, those insignificant details somehow always matter.
Banner of the Stars I takes place three years after the events of its predecessor, Crest of the Stars. Jinto has been educated as a supply manager, Lafiel has taken command of the assault vessel Basroil, and together, alongside a few other crew members, will be joining in the war against the Triple Nations Alliance.
Banner of the Stars I looks to separate itself slightly from its initial season by attempting to strike a more unified balance between the space-time exploits and the more grounded character exploration. Whereas the first season focused mostly on Jinto and Lafiel’s relationship with the war acting as the backdrop, the second season spreads out the character focus while having the war acting as the stage. What is given, then, is a look at the various people attached to the battles and a surprisingly high degree of diverse scenarios. For example, the anime will show the terror of fighting a disadvantaged battle or the bravery needed when abandoning a ship one moment and having crew members sit down for a drink or showcasing the commander and his chief-of-communications bicker about her love life the next. The aforementioned talk of perspective encompasses the entire season, showing that both the large scale conflicts and the smaller scale conversations are equally important.
And this is something that is desperately needed. Not that it can’t be one way or the other, but because the show requires both time and connections for the cast at play in order to make their inclusion meaningful. Having such brutality depicted means nothing if the majority of the pieces are expendable or forgettable. This obviously isn’t true for Jinto and Lafiel; we have their background and established relationship, and therefore their predicaments carry the most emotional weight. Which is why so much focus is placed on Samson the country-dad, Atosuryua the Hecto-Commander, Admiral Abriel the calm and persistent leader, and the insane Bebaus Brothers. But it also serves another purpose: showcasing the multitude of parts, or perspectives, on the war itself. Not everyone revels in the fighting for the same reasons. Lafiel does it out of honor, to prove her worth; Nereis does it to combat his and his family’s unkind reputation; and Admiral Spoor does it because she has nothing better to do. The sequences themselves are always well done, but because the anime nurtures the characters so equally, it makes them all more than just action without substance.
Unfortunately, Banner of the Stars I follows the same negative that Crest of the Stars employed, and that is losing itself thematically. There are essentially three different ideas being tossed around by the show: the concept of death, having a place, and knowing “who you are,” each of which revolves around Jinto. The first, on death, is looked at nicely enough. The previous event of Baron Febdash’s killing sparks thoughts in him, he witnesses destruction all around, and he has personal, near-death experiences. And so what is discussed are the “duties of the living” and learning that nobody, no matter their standing, has someone there who cares for them. Sort of piggybacking on this motif, “having a home” is loosely talked during particular scenes, but only when convenient and therefore being rather lackluster. The final theme of existentialism comes out of nowhere and only serves to cloud the already explored messages. The anime wants to tackle these ideas, but cannot, due to either time, focus, or (most likely) both. These halfhearted attempts thus serve as nothing more than hindrances in the end.
Much of the action and the “action” within Banner of the Stars I takes place within space and the inner confines of the vessels, respectively. The locales usually don’t contain a wealth of originality — space is expansive and black, space-time fusion is sometimes colorful, the main deck and other rooms are almost always bluish-gray, etc. — but they do contain a nice amount of detail. Banners, three-dimensional maps, aquariums, viewing windows; in order to combat the “staleness” of the environments, the show does what it can to make each one feel separate and unique.
The character designs remain more or less the same for Jinto, Lafiel, and Admiral Spoor (besides seeing her with her hair down). The newcomers each have their own signature looks — Samson with his scar, Ekuryua’s glazed eyes and short hair, and the Bebaus Brothers’ twin-style designs — are futuristic but not overly unrealistic. Alongside everyone’s respective war outfits, everyone fits the part. Also of note are the differing vessels — the attackers, the patrol ships, the flagships, etc. Some appear specialized (Spoor’s red-and-pronged behemoth), most appear similar (the Basroil’s black painting and anti-proton cannon are common, as are the United Mankind’s signature green ships), yet all are nicely detailed.
Banner of the Stars I contains many more battles and skirmishes when compared to its former season. For this reason, the actual animation is above-average. Lasers fly, mines target, explosions are rampant, battleships move, characters react; there is a plethora of opportunities for the anime to strut its stuff, and takes as many of these chances in which to do so.
As has already been pointed out, Banner of the Stars I effectively spreads out its resources when dealing with its characters. While this provides a more well-rounded experience, this leads to a poor side-effect: the stagnation of Lafiel and Jinto’s characters.
Crest of the Stars introduced, characterized, and developed our duo quite nicely throughout its run. This time, they simply seem to stagnate. Lafiel remains proud and determined, but doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as should be warranted to her. The show provides her with some humanization in the form of very tiny reactions and monologues when thinking or interacting with Jinto. But they’re rather insignificant and often ignored, even by her. Other insights are given — such as her stance on death and her convictions as a captain — but they only help to drive the story, not propel her character.
Jinto suffers the same fate. Even after taking into account all of his philosophical questioning, he never seems to take any of it to heart. Focusing solely on the most concentrated theme, the war surrounding him gives ample opportunities to try to understand life, death, and his position within it all. But there is no real resolution to the thinking; it merely ends once Lafiel comforts him by stating that she would most certainly be saddened by his passing. This peace of mind is cute, and while it moves their relationship forward ever so minimally, it unfortunately doesn’t mean much in relation to this season since so much time was spent away from the couple. If anything, Jinto pulls out marginally ahead of Lafiel due to Diaho. The cat garners a lot of attention, both from the crew members and from the narrative, serving as symbolism for what Jinto’s person should be. He is constantly debated on: with Diaho’s memories of others questioned, whether the ship is appropriate for him, and his seemingly carefree nature in terms of the situation. In other words, everyone (including Jinto) describes the lovable pet in such a way that is applicable both to him and his master. Diaho isn’t worried about death, doesn’t mind the home he has, and hasn’t questioned his being; he simply looks to enjoy the time he has now, doing what he loves (catching mice), relishing in other’s company, and experiencing what life has to offer. That is, having such a grandiose perception of the world may not always be the right way to take things. Sometimes, all that you need to worry about has been next to you this entire time.
The newfound focus on the side cast is a boon, despite it simultaneously being a hindrance to the main cast. There are essentially three other duos besides Jinto and Lafiel: Nereis and Nefee, Admiral Abriel and his chief-of-communications, and Admiral Spoor and her chief-of-communications. Despite all three of the couplings being more or less the “same,” each has their own nuances and specific interactions that make the war itself feel more human. The Bebaus Brothers are true siblings; they bicker and quarrel, but respect each other’s viewpoints. Abriel teases his right-hand officer constantly; quite uncharacteristic for the leader of the largest empire in the galaxy. And Spoor revels in riling up her closest confidant; she finds it more fun to be a sadist towards him than actually participating in the battles. Each dynamic never feels abnormal, even with the craziness of the skirmishes enveloping everyone. And it’s not just these pairings. Jinto and Ekuryua, Lafiel and Atosuryua, and Samson and Sobaash are other relationships that provide similar offerings: a unique and realistic set of interactions.
The OP remains nearly the same as the one used in Crest of the Stars. It’s majestic, orchestral, and fitting, making it a wise decision to keep it around for this season.
The ED is surprisingly good. The catchy drums, guitar, and vocals start off plain enough. But by the halfway point, the background singers kick in, and the power of the song does, too. Oddly, the song’s lyrics focus on love and togetherness when the majority of the season does not, making at least that aspect of the track rather puzzling.
Like the OP, the rest of the soundtrack remains relatively the same when compared to the first season. Synth, drum, and guitar tracks are used during tense moments, flute and piano pieces during the calm ones, and resounding trumpets and drums during those triumphant times. Once again, the track fits the anime well but doesn’t have the capability of standing on its own.
More reiteration, but voice-acting is again average across the board with no special shout-outs to be had.
This season was a bit more of a spectacle. Many of the fights in space were all over the place, in a good way. Directed attacks, multiple strategies, combat prowess, winning and losing; watching everything go down, both the good and the bad, was a lot more fun and involved. Especially since Jinto and Lafiel actually have impact in what eventually plays out.
And while the newer characters are fun and interesting, it was a shame to see such a drop in attention on Jinto and Lafiel’s relationship. I like their characters, and I like their dynamic — it reminds me of a husband and wife “arguing” about the smallest of problems. What was given falls in line with the way the previous season ended, but I would have liked more from them, both in progression and focus.
As it stands, Banner of the Stars I is a small improvement over its first season. With a stronger story, better animation, yet small dip in character development, what is offered is a nice continuation to an already established tale. Hopefully Jinto and Lafiel can juggle both their relationship and the war in the events to come.
Story: Good, balance of war and character exploration, varying perspectives, still thematically lost
Animation: Good, nice art style, good character and battleship designs, above-average actual animation
Characters: Good, Jinto and Lafiel stagnate somewhat, side-cast dynamics and characterization help to alleviate this issue
Sound: Good, good OP, good ED, nice soundtrack, okay VA work
Enjoyment: Good, cool space battles, fun new characters, but needed more focus on Jinto and Lafiel
Final Score: 7/10
Sarcasm aside, given just how utterly horrified I was by Crest of the Stars (scoring it a 1/10 in my review), you might wonder why I even bothered with the sequel. The thing is this – this show seemed to be more about its battle than about its political justifications, and given its undeniable artistic talent, I figured maybe there’s actually some scope for enjoyment here as long as you could put the god-awful politics aside – temporarily, at least. Unfortunately though, even on its own terms, the battle simply isn’t what it was initially made out to be – not unlike the prequel series. And on the other hand, it isn’t long before the horrible politics creep right back and break your immersion anyhow. This right here is the long and short of it – the rest of my review will be about justifying and elaborating on this stand.
The show starts off getting you up to speed with the current status quo, as well as the military logistics of the Abh fleet. It also introduces you to the crew of the attack ship Basroil captained by our lead character Lafiel Abriel, with our other lead Lin Jinto serving as a supply officer. A Terran combat veteran called Samson is notably part of the bridge crew, along with Ekuryua, a somewhat withdrawn and introverted Abh girl who seems overly attached to Jinto’s pet cat, and another Abh lady whose name I forget. Also introduced are the various Abh military commanders whom I’ll get to later. The show wastes no time getting into combat mode, and before you know it the introductions are over and you’re thrust into the immediacy of the war. One thing that the Seikai series as a whole does deserve credit for is its pacing.
Now there are two levels at which the battle is depicted: at the here-and-now tactical level, we’re shown the trials that the leads face and how they deal with them; and at the strategic level, we’re shown various higher-order commanders as they squabble amongst each other and come to crucial decisions. And here’s where it gets interesting: at the level of the here-and-now, the show puts you in the hot seat of the front-lines alongside Lafiel and her crew, and gives you the impression of a gritty and dogged battle against overwhelming odds. Every one in the bridge is practically sweating from the tension, and sirens start blaring across the board as one sector after another of the ship take increasing amounts of damage. The tactical breaks provide very little in the way of relief.
And in between all this, the focus shifts to the higher-order commanders as they deal with the bigger picture and strategic aspects of the battle. But in the war room, things seem almost downright boring – the commanders seem supremely sure of themselves to the point of detachment – one goes for a bath in the middle of all the fighting, and another makes a game of pestering his understaff about her personal relationships. All these ‘cute’ scenes in the high command ships are supposed to showcase the Abh’s supreme competence, and their capacity for mischievous joviality even in the heat of battle. But when the show nears its conclusion, all this charm comes undone when an Abh commander commits a shocking act that reveals what the real stakes of the battle were all along, and makes all their previous joviality and nonchalance come across as rather obscene in hindsight.
Another thing to note is that the battle is depicted solely from the Abh’s standpoint: you only get to see the Abh side of the strategising, and you only ever learn of United Mankind’s strategy or tactics through the obstacles the Abh side faces. So on one hand you get to see how chivalrously the Abh face off against their opponents; and on the other hand how dastardly the enemy is…because that’s what they tell you. One unintentionally good thing about this one-sided view of the war, though, is that the enemy is never given a face this time. You only get to see either their ships or mines being blown up. No dastardly, gratuitously-villainous, moustache-twirling military commanders from the ranks of United Mankind plague the screen this time around (that job is taken over by the Abh commanders, albeit unintentionally).
With that out of the way, it’s now time to address the Elephant in the Room i.e. the two-faced politics of this show. No, you saw this coming a mile away – and no, there’s no getting around this. Because quite simply, not only is it thematically central to the whole story, but it also taints and utterly poisons everything it comes into contact with. So anyways, we’re right back to what Crest of the Stars did worst – any humans who do not wholeheartedly and with tears of gratitude accept Abh overlordship are portrayed as corrupt, greedy, morally broke or otherwise generally pathetic. The president of the Aptic system, which the Abh forcefully took over, gives a defiant speech to never surrender to the Abh invaders – but he is shown to do so just to look good to his voters. He even suggests behind-the-scenes that the Abh retort with racist and condescending insults to spice things up for the cameras. The Abh’s offer to accept surrender from the Aptic government without imposing any deadline on them is made to look like a magnanimous act of generosity. Even those working for the Abh fare no better – a nation is shown to have joined with the Abh simply because the Abh didn’t object to their dietary habits whereas the Terran alliances were absolutely appalled (if you must know, they ate cats – no, I’m not making this up).
And then of course, there’s the United Mankind – the only force in the Galaxy that poses any credible threat to Abh dominion. Their policy is depicted not as a legitimate political resistance to the Abh’s unilateral aggression (which it easily could and should have been), but as a dogmatic mission to either enslave or exterminate the entire Abh race. And surely enough, they are portrayed as genocidal fascists (albeit off-screen this time) who do not consider the Abh to be human, and thus see it as fair game to disregard their enemy’s basic human rights – during combat or otherwise.
On the other hand, Abh commanders like Crown Prince Abriel and Baroness Spoor or even the Bebaus twins, whose actions would have clearly branded them as war criminals in just about any other narrative, are not only never (intentionally) made to look bad, but rather made to look like eccentric geniuses whose outwardly obnoxious antics belie just how “wonderful” and compassionate they supposedly are beneath the surface. The show accomplishes this with its singularly worst act of hypocrisy – while it’s abundantly clear to any rational person that these commanders took many of their decisions with a callous and blatant disregard for human lives, their actions are ultimately justified by the show on grounds that these decisions somehow end up working out for the best. A related point is how the show expects you to overlook all of Abriel’s needless endangerment of his own troops because he expresses the coy sentiment that he’d never be able to forgive himself if anything happened to Lafiel (his distant descendant) or Jinto. The exact same issue loomed in Crest of the Stars as well, and Banner of the Stars continues in the same dishonoured tradition.
Later on in the series, the Terran-born Prime Minister of the Abh Empire has a brief parting talk with the infamous eyepatch-wearing ambassador from the last series, where he praisingly refers to the Empire as “the only force in the galaxy that can impose modernity on the surface worlds”. That right there is the big pretext that the show provides to justify all of the Abh’s military aggression over anyone who seeks to oppose their completely one-sided dominion over humans. I continue to be surprised at how many people seem perfectly fine with this.
To make things worse, the show doesn’t just leave things be even here: even when the crew are on their down-time and just breathing, either reflecting on their lot or even just making small talk, the show takes every opportunity to illustrate how superior the Abh are in every conceivable shape and form, and just how hopelessly unattainable that superiority is to ordinary humans (again, this ties in with the show’s justification of the Abh’s forceful takeover of human worlds). It may not be as blatant as it was in Crest of the Stars – but it’s there, believe me. And it’s done much more subtly this time.
Which brings me to the show’s perhaps craftiest sleight-of-hand: during one of their breaks from the fighting, Jinto has a chat with Lafiel – reflecting upon his lot in life, the position he’s been thrust into, and his possible career options from that point on. Lafiel also shares some of the decisions she’s made about her own future. Throughout the span of that discussion, their relative lack of freedom and legroom within their position as Abh nobility gets brought up time and again, given just how pervasively it is a part of their reality. But under no circumstances is the Abh system itself, which is actually the root cause of their plight, ever brought into question or criticised. The most dumbfounding moment is when Jinto briefly contemplates giving up his title as Count of Hyde and simply returning to his homeworld, but then decides against it because he thinks the people would look down upon him for chickening out of his role as their overlord. Are you KIDDING me?! The people of Martine long for Independence from Abh dominion, and if an involuntarily-appointed governor were to turn down that post and return home, that would make a bold and heroic political statement against the Abh, and the people would have welcomed him home as a goddamned HERO!! Nope, Jinto has no choice (in his own mind, at least) but to continue in his dual roles as a petty officer in the Star Forces on one hand, and a puppet figurehead for Abh rule on his homeworld on the other. Interestingly though, there is one character (and an Abh one at that, to boot) who implicitly criticises the ways of the royals, but the show plays it away as an intentionally spiteful remark made by someone holding a personal grudge, rather than a genuine grievance.
On the technical side of things, the animation is somewhat better than the positively freakish fare that you had to endure last time. The sound and audio cues are pretty much exactly the same as last time, and they mostly do their job quietly and unobtrusively. The opening score, on the other hand (and especially the eerily ominous drum-rolls whenever the voice-over narrator or anyone else speaks Abh-tongue), made me feel deeply uneasy and nauseous – in much the same way that Richard Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyrie” today invokes imagery of cold-blooded monstrosity because of its rather unfortunate appropriation by the Nazi regime.
As for the characters, things are more or less exactly as they were in the last series. Jinto once again proves himself to be an accomplished sycophant. This time around, he is given more space to “develop” – as in, more airtime to express his self-pity with melodramatic wistfulness. Among other things, he broods that no one will miss him when he dies (awwww), and that he won’t be around for as long as Lafiel. You know what, his worries might be unfounded – even in his early twenties, he still looks like a 14-15 year-old, and still retains a husky adolescent voice…maybe he has defied the odds and hit the genetic lottery after all! The show also tries to “humanize” Jinto by showing how he winces and cringes in embarrassment at having to read out the Abh’s official statements of hostile takeover, but it’s a diversion from the plain-and-simple fact that he is perfectly OK with what the Abh are actually doing – the hypocrisy on display is simply sickening. Lafiel is, of course, exceedingly good to Jinto as always, and unfailingly dutiful to her crew – but underneath even that generous and dutiful personality is an uncritical mind, and an unwavering loyalty to the very system that serves to oppress her (and not to mention entire planets besides).
Overall, Banner of the Stars retains the core essence of what made Crest of the Stars so sickening and reprehensible. But where Crest of the Stars provoked shock and outrage, Banner was more of just constantly annoying. The stakes are not something you can sympathise with without rooting for criminal invaders, and that’s primarily what breaks the immersion factor whenever you’re reminded of it. As for the battle itself, as gripping as it may initially seem, it proves to be more one-sided than it was made out to be, and basically depicts the wholesale slaughter of conveniently “evil” enemies in a glorifying light. If it seems “better” than Crest of the Stars, that’s only because it has less obviously-offensive scenes, and instead goes for making subtler insinuations during the more “quiet-time” interactions between the characters. And finally, as much as you may try, it proves impossible to separate the artistic good from the thematic poison of this show, as every event and every interaction is inextricably linked to its reprehensible ideas. It proves once again that it’s just not possible to make good wine from bad grapes.
MAL Score: 7.85
Based on the Shogakukan award-winning manga of the same name, InuYasha follows Kagome Higurashi, a fifteen-year-old girl whose normal life ends when a demon drags her into a cursed well on the grounds of her family’s Shinto shrine. Instead of hitting the bottom of the well, Kagome ends up 500 years in the past during Japan’s violent Sengoku period with the demon’s true target, a wish-granting jewel called the Shikon Jewel, reborn inside of her.
After a battle with a revived demon accidentally causes the sacred jewel to shatter, Kagome enlists the help of a young hybrid dog-demon/human named Inuyasha to help her collect the shards and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. Joining Kagome and Inuyasha on their quest are the orphan fox-demon Shippo, the intelligent monk Miroku, and the lethal demon slayer Sango. Together, they must set aside their differences and work together to find the power granting shards spread across feudal Japan and deal with the threats that arise.
There are flaws in the overall composition. Things one might ask themselves like; why, if you KNEW you we’re going to be trekking across feudal Japan for months on end, would you bring only one outfit? And more importantly why would it be your Junior High School uniform – i.e. a bright green miniskirt?
Regardless, the story itself is very weak, as its the random plot arcs and ridiculous character relations that really make the show. To summarize, a young girl falls down a well at her family’s shrine, only to be transported back in time to feudal Japan, where she frees a grumpy dog eared half demon man who is stuck to a tree (The result of a bad breakup) and ends up breaking a magical mystical artifact that then shatters into a bazillion pieces. Ditzy teenage girl and pissy dog demon guy now must work together to find all the shards of “The Sacred Jewel” before the bad guys do. Sure there’s another load of subplots – pointless, funny and romantic alike – but we’ll get to that.
Although the premise is simplistic it does expand further along in the story, but only if one likes the show enough initially to move on in the series through the 160 + episodes.
The subplots and the arcs are what make this series entertaining. (And also agonizing if the arc you’re in bores you to tears) We’ll have run ins with random demons and get mixed up with numerous characters who may or may not come and go. Each plot brings changes and the characters do a very good job of growing and evolving as a result. The series does, despite its episodic nature, still follow some sense of linearity. Development in the characters remain as they would in a real person. (This excludes the Inuyasha movies, unfortunately)
Despite all that, its still one of those series that makes it very easy to drop in at any time and figure things out eventually. I watched from the middle first before I decided I loved the show and went back to see the beginning – which was drastically different to me considering the amount of change that takes place from beginning to middle to end.
I can’t go into detail very well considering the story, as there is so much of it its hard to find a place to start. The elements of the setting and time really come into play with the presence of the spirits and demons all of which offer a uniqueness all to its own. The multiple love triangle issues are superficial but also complex, so there is a degree of decent conflict in that regard. I also really appreciate personally how the development of the relationship between the two main characters, Inuyasha and Kagome, is gradual.
Coming to the characters, there are many. Too many to identify them all in this review. This is a great thing about the show, but can also be annoying and for the casual observer, confusing as hell. I’ll touch on the main characters at least:
Kagome is a really plain Junior High School girl. As a heroine she starts out pathetically dull and often comes off as a total ditz. However if you give her a chance she does show you how she can grow to be a capable human being despite the fact that she is a 15 year old idiot running around feudal Japan in a miniskirt. Throughout the show we find shes short tempered, opinionated and rash, but she does keep a sense femininity intact somehow. She also retains an ability to sympathize with and care for the people she comes to know. What I love about her is that she starts out completely incompetent. Literally she is nothing but a Mary-Sue-ish teenage airhead with little care in the world aside doing well in school, and she morphs (gradually) into a priestess who can use a bow and even protect herself. She – going through the show constantly compared to the priestess Kikiyo (Details will become clear if you decide to watch the show) she makes a deliberate effort to break free of that confine and become her own person, and I like that.
Inuyasha is also a great source of character development. I know I keep saying “Development development development!” but really is one of the biggest things this show has going for itself. I almost see this anime as some kind of document of how Inuyasha becomes a man. Hes over 50 years old but despite that he is extremely childish, boorish and often rude and annoying. He also works pretty hard to gain strength and create a name for himself. He is an ‘underdog’ (lol puns) and also has a bit of a Gary-Stu thing going for him. Being a half demon with a snobby older brother and a messed up undead ex-girlfriend gives him a lot of stuff to complain about.
The characters ARE shallow. But their relationships are entertaining and – if you get all the way to the end of this series and the short Inuyasha Sequel: Inuyasha the Final Act – are rewarding to see until the end.
I’ll keep the review of the art quick in saying that it is very traditional for the time it was made. Its got a lot of square and rectangular shapes and brightly colored character designs that fit in well with its shounen genre. The style is very consistent, budget obviously allowed for lots of attention to detail and a tone of seriousness. It has its own sort of beauty, very reminiscent of Takahashi’s earlier works like Ranma 1/2 and the like, which aired in the late 1980’s. Almost a retro anime style if you get my meaning. Movies have much more bold and sharp lines. Character designs could use work (I can’t get over the miniskirt thing, I’m sorry. Its just too stupid. And I get really sick of Inuyasha never wearing anything but his giant red.. thing)
Even quicker, my opinion of the sound. The music is diverse and beautifully complex. One of the best parts of the show. Multiple opening and ending themes, background music all magical and perfectly suitable to the time period. Voice acting is always better in Japanese. English is very harsh on the ears, I strongly dislike it nowadays.
Very long review and I’ve only just scratched the surface. Inuyasha, as I see it, is a classic shounen. Its time in the limelight long passed when it made room for Naruto and Bleach to move in on the scene. For those of you who can take a long series and like the sound of this show, give it a shot. Perhaps google a list of filler episodes you might feel like skipping if this does tickle your fancy. Inuyasha does have something for everyone. From the action to the supernatural, to the romantic and the historical. Its a story hard to place and hard to review with a fair share of chaos and confusion. Its a mess, really. But its a big fun mess if you’re willing to see it through.
As always, keep good humor in mind while watching. This show is bananas and it will make you want to throw objects at the screen from time to time.
For now, I tip my hat to Inuyasha. I thank it for showing me this world, showing me complexity and hilarity, and for showing me how flaws can be celebrated for their entertainment just as well as the parts that shine.
The storyline is basic and very easy to follow, however the story does seem to drag on, so if you have patience with animes this could be for you.
The characters are pure genius, each with their own running joke. Each character (with the exception of Kagome) has a dark and kind of upsetting past often including the death of a loved one. My favourite is Miroku by far. He is a perverted womanising monk who flirts with pretty much any girl. However, some characters, like Shippo (an adorable fox demon), have a minor role with little or no fight scenes. (Then again that’s a small part of his jokes).
The fights are good, lots of blood in some places. However the fights are short and it seems to always be Inuyasha doing most of the work. (As he has stated a few times). The others seem to be back up and use the same moves. For example, Sango, a demon slayer, uses her Hirakotsu (a giant boomerang often used hitting Miroku when he flirts with other girls or touches her butt) but she has a sword which rarely gets used. I think I’ve seen it 3 times and then I can only remember when she is about to use it on Kohaku (her little brother who has no memory of killing their whole village because he’s being controlled by the main bad guy).
The romance is my favourite part in all of the series. It’s more sweet than it is romantic. But it’s the sort that makes you feel all warm inside. I’m sad to say that the romance barely progresses. (Apart from Miroku and Sango). And there is a really big love net. But like I said, it sweet in a LOT of places.(Oh, for you fan girls, I know Sesshomaru, Inuyasha’s brother, is a favourite. Oh, I’m not a fan girl.)
All in all, Inuyasha is a good anime (and my favourite). Watch it if you have patience and love a good laugh, fight sometimes full of blood and sweet romantic bits in an anime.
After the intoduction of the fourth protagonist ( Sango), apart from a few side-stories, the plot essentially deteriorates into a viscous cycle. In a few occasions it seems there will be some new development, but I was dissapointed when the same-old thing happened again. The fillers were heavily Naruto-like, admittedly better.
Overall: I think the series can be alot better, but if you like extended series, this could be for you.
1: Cardcaptor Sakura
English: Cardcaptor Sakura
MAL Score: 8.15
Sakura Kinomoto is your garden-variety ten-year-old fourth grader, until one day, she stumbles upon a mysterious book containing a set of cards. Unfortunately, she has little time to divine what the cards mean because she accidentally stirs up a magical gust of wind and unintentionally scatters the cards all over the world. Suddenly awakened from the book, the Beast of the Seal, Keroberos (nicknamed Kero-chan), tells Sakura that she has released the mystical Clow Cards created by the sorcerer Clow Reed. The Cards are no ordinary playthings. Each of them possesses incredible powers, and because they like acting independently, Clow sealed all the Cards within a book. Now that the Cards are set free, they pose a grave danger upon the world, and it is up to Sakura to prevent the Cards from causing a catastrophe!
Appointing Sakura the title of “the Cardcaptor” and granting her the Sealed Key, Keroberos tasks her with finding and recapturing all the Cards. Alongside her best friend Tomoyo Daidouji, and with Kero-chan’s guidance, Sakura must learn to balance her new secret duty with the everyday troubles of a young girl involving love, family, and school, all while she takes flight on her magical adventures as Sakura the Cardcaptor.
The premise itself is fairly typical for a mahou shoujo anime. A happy-go-lucky girl suddenly comes across magical power and begins her quest alongside a cute lion-like caricature serving as her guardian and mentor. Sakura’s role as the chief protagonist is to capture the fifty-three magical cards of Clow Reed, each inhabiting a unique power that inconveniences Sakura and the people around her in some way. Some of these cards are immensely powerful, including the ability to manipulate time and dreams, while others are fairly weak or trivial in comparison and encompass smaller abilities like creating flowers or making objects float. After Sakura fights against the power behind the card and then seals it away it becomes a part of her possession that she can then use at will.
At least, this is how the story first seems.
The series is largely changed and complicated with the introduction of the deuteragonist in the eighth episode. Syaoran Li, a boy from Hong Kong, suddenly transfers into Sakura’s class and disturbs the situation by antagonizing Sakura and competing for the Clow Cards. This relationship serves as the basis for the central theme of the series as their feelings and relationship change and develop immensely, from rivals to friends and finally to lovers. This is a very gradual change and it’s paced well enough that it feels completely natural, a change you might not even notice without retrospect. You contempt Li when he’s first introduced and by the end you grow to enjoy his presence almost as much as Sakura herself.
Shoujo series are a bit infamous for their overly-idealized and sudden romances but Cardcaptor Sakura is again an exception. There is certainly idealizing, sparkles and bubbles, but the depth is there. The feelings between Sakura and Li naturally grow and evolve over the course of the series, with no contrived events used to advance their relationship. There is not even a confession by the end of the 70-episode run, yet there is no need for one as the anime has already communicated how strongly the two feel for each other. Character interaction and body language are used to express this– not conveniences followed by dramatic outcomes. The end result is one of the most natural and endearing romances in anime. As a mahou shoujo it is good, but as a romance it is excellent.
Cardcaptor Sakura is mainly a lighthearted and fun series. Most of the entertainment revolves around Sakura and her interaction with the characters, most notably her guardian Keroberos (endearingly shortened by Sakura to Kero-chan) and her closest friend Tomoyo who often goes along with her to the scene of each card to record footage on her camcorder. Other important characters include Sakura’s beleaguering older brother Toya and the object of her affections, Yukito, a friend of Toya whom she holds a large crush towards. Still, the series does eventually take a more serious turn in the second half after the initial card collection draws to a close. Some characters reveal hidden sides that will surprise the audience and certain side characters develop and become integral to the story. At no point does the show ever feel too silly or too serious; it’s a perfect blend of the two.
Interestingly, there are several elements that deviate from the conventions of most mahou shoujo anime. There isn’t a traditional transformation sequence in the anime nor one unique outfit that Sakura wears when using magic. Instead she wears normal clothing like a regular girl, or rather whatever silly costume her friend Tomoyo decides to dress her up in before the event. This adds a lot of variety to the action sequences and gives the audience a small something to look forward to each episode.
Despite its young demographic and reputation as a family-friendly anime, there are also some surprisingly taboo topics that are covered in the anime. There’s the forbidden love between teacher and student and homosexual feelings between two important characters. The anime does not use any of these elements as shock value, though, simply presenting them as-is with no moral connotation. ‘Love’ is the main theme of CCS and the amount of detail put into the relationships of even periphery character is certainly commendable.
On the other hand, the music here is nothing short of stunning. Some of the songs that play in the series, such as the first opening and the track used when capturing a card, are classics that will stick in your head and be remembered fondly for a very long time. More than simply enhance the experience, these tracks are a large part of what makes the anime what it is. The soundtrack is by far one of most defining and important aspects of the series, and perhaps one of the best in anime.
That being said, Cardcaptor Sakura is definitely not without flaws.
One of the largest complaints can be put on the rather long length of the anime. At 70 episodes it can certainly drag on at some parts in the story. While CLAMP carefully tried to make each episode as engaging and interesting as possible, it’s only natural that some episodes are weaker than others and that some events can become a bit predictable at times. Luckily, this mostly changes in the second half of the anime where the story expands and takes a mostly different direction where more emphasis is put on the characters’ relationships. As fun as each episode is, I can’t help but feel like it would have benefited from a shorter episode count in order for the story to flow better. A 50-episode story would have been a perfect fit, neither too long nor too short.
It should also be mentioned that the changes between the original Japanese version and the English localized “Cardcaptors” are very drastic, and certainly not in a good way. Music and names of the characters are changed, episodes are flipped and mixed together in an odd and sometimes incoherent order, and important backgrounds and plot elements are minimized or removed completely. While certainly not unwatchable, it’s a very toned down and poor imitation of a fantastic anime. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice by watching any version except the original Japanese one.
In a genre where conventions and inspiration form the crux of most stories, Cardcaptor Sakura is a brilliant title that breathes new life into the genre and anime as a whole. While not quite flawless, this is a classic that has acceded its spot as one of the most influential and quality anime titles in recent times. It’s a consistently high-quality, entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking anime that has more than earned its widespread acclaim and influence. This is a title that shows that there is indeed a correlation in storytelling between creativity and quality.
Cardcaptor Sakura has certainly earned its place in history.
The first and second season, in my opinion, is not most impressive plot-wise. It is pretty much very episodic, with recurring goofs such as Sakura’s battle costumes, Tomoyo with her camcorder, Toya always showing up at the right (or wrong) times, Sakura trying to win over Yukito, Kero looking up at the sky saying “Yue” like he’s heartbroken, and Syaoran once again tries to compete with Sakura. The impressive part of the first season is its comedy and action, because it was just amazing. For a magical girl anime, the action was just there. Every scene, suspense, effort, luck, desperation, success, it was there. When Sakura is not capturing cards (she approximately captures one per episode), she enters an environment with heartfelt friendship and goes through life very joyfully and often humorously. Even though the only plot is to “capture them all,” Cardcaptor Sakura such a variety of enjoyment that you will find yourself staying glued to the screen.
The season offers a change of pace as Sakura embarks on a brand new adventure, meeting a mysterious new rival. This is where the plot starts to change, as the cards are no longer the main emphasis of the plot. It is clear that while the cards changed her destiny (in capturing the cards), it also affected her daily life as well. The third season explores how the cards created a new path for Sakura in friendship and romance. This part of the plot is present in the first two seasons, but it became the main focus of season three. Personally, this is when Cardcaptor Sakura won me over. Until then it was just a very addicting and enjoyable show. Season three gave meaning to the cards and provides a few dramatic moments that fortifies the underlying themes and symbolisms the series tries to convey.
If you are new to Cardcaptor Sakura, then you might not realize that it was made in 1998. For its time, the art was amazingly amazing. From the opening sequence, you can point out minor details such as the movement of Sakura’s costume in the wind and the animation of her hair was just so realistic. Voice acting was awesome (and cute), and facial expressions were especially awesome. And then, there are the action scenes themselves. When the cards are released/captured, there’s a “wow” moment that you don’t expect to see in a typical magical girl series. Even though the action isn’t very technical with cool names and gadgets, it features everything from flying, sword fighting, evocations of the elements, and last but not least, Sakura. One thing that cannot be expressed enough is how cute Sakura is portrayed. That may sound stupid, but it’s one of the main attractions of the show.
Not only are the opening and ending sequences catchy, the background music was incredible, simply incredible. From the opening scene featuring Sakura on top of a tower, the music was engaging in every aspect. Then it smoothly makes a transition to everyday music when Sakura introduces herself, and finally to the suspenseful and catchy battle theme that everyone loves. One of the main complains about the dub (Cardcaptors) was that the music was changed. The original music was excellent, and it fits the situation it is for very well.
For an anime like this it’s tough to be perfect character-wise, but which anime masters character portrayal, right? The anime focuses the most on Sakura, Kero, Tomoyo, Syaoran, and Meilin, as expected, since they’re the main characters. Of course Toya and some other characters I don’t want to spoil have their roles also, but mostly it centers on the elementary students (and Kero). While a good deal of the supporting characters were developed, it is done mostly through inferences and vague symbolism. In a way this is good, because it gives Cardcaptor Sakura a deeper meaning if you see it, but if you don’t, it’s still a very enjoyable anime with minor plot holes. So in short, Cardcaptor Sakura is mainly an anime of character development and emotional maturation, and it mostly succeeded, for the main characters only.
From what I said above, this category would definitely have to be a 10/10. In fact, it has one of the best re-watching values of all the anime I’ve watched. The first time you go through the anime, it’s just plain enjoyable. The second time, you tend to pick up symbolism and motifs from here and there. That “ah hah” moment where everything clicks makes the series even more enjoyable, because it connects its episodic attribute to the main plot more closely. Cardcaptor Sakura just enjoyable no matter how you look at it.
An interesting character in Cardcaptor Sakura is Meilin. She is a filler character, meaning, she is not in the original manga. However, her roles are clearly defined and becomes one of the major plot-driven characters at the end of the anime, as well as being a very consistent character. One example is how I regard an episode that dedicated to her as one of the best, even though it is a filler. The addition of Meilin is not for the detriment of the plot, and I applaud the excellent direction it took to incorporate such a character.
Another factor that might affect some viewers is how everything is in rōmaji or English. At the opening sequence, Sakura’s name tag says SAKURA, the cards are in English, even how Sakura says them is in English. There’s just a lot of convenient things here for English watchers, something curious but gladly accepted.
If you watch this anime, then watch out for some controversial topics. The first one is homosexuality, which is present plainly in one relationship, and very vaguely implied in a couple of others. It would certainly bring up some questions for younger viewers, but in the end, the anime explains it in a very fitting and safe way. Still, it could be a concern but it shouldn’t stop you from watching it. It’s safe to say that yuri/yaoi isn’t a main component of the plot.
Another controversy is incest, the legal kind (in Japan). While a non-Japanese audience might be a bit uncomfortable of a first cousins relationship, it is best to keep in mind that in Japan, it is completely normal. There’s no weird things like brother/sister, mother/son, or stuff like that, so don’t worry.
And there’s a third kind of relationship explored in the anime, which is an innocent student-teacher crush. The anime never really goes anywhere with it, but it’s nice just to mention that it’s there. The one important thing to keep in mind is that all these three types of relationships do not affect the enjoyment of the series in any way. Relationships, after all, are part of the main plot, and they should be treated in an adult manner.
Lastly, although it’s something that not many cares, there is death. Throughout the series, no one really died, but the motif of death, angels, and the afterlife appears frequently. It’s listed as a controversy due to the assumed target audience (young females), but in the end, death is one of the aspects that gives more meaning to the plot.
As much as I don’t want to bash Cardcaptors, I feel that it is relevant. If you watch Cardcaptors, then my ratings do not apply. These ratings only apply to the Japanese subbed version, as well as what I think is the best version. Get this one if you can!
I can’t bring myself to give this anime a ten just because it carries no major revelations or any of the sort. You can argue that the ending is pretty dramatic, kind of, but the main purpose of the anime is to let the audience sit back, relax, and enjoy. Of course I am being harsh because I want something out of every anime I watch, but for Cardcaptor Sakura, enjoyment alone is enough to get it to a 9. Once in a while, it’s good to just watch a series and and enjoy it wholeheartedly.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Story: The anime is “episodic” in nature, usually consisting of single episode stories that most often serve to develop the characters and their relationships with one another, as well as Sakura coming in contact and attempting to “capture” one of the lost cards. Being a long series however, it can begin to feel very repetitive after only a short period of time. Although I think the overall concept of the story is good, I feel as though it could have been executed better, with more emphasis placed on the cards. In some episodes the cards have a very little role, sometimes being captured very quickly. A few times a card doesn’t even show up at all.
Animation: The animation is good overall, a few scenes are reused at times, but I have no major qualms.
Sound: Like with the animation, the sound was done well. There are a few songs I liked, and a few that I didn’t. The voice acting was done well, with voices that suited the characters nicely.
Character: I really felt that the characters were developed nicely throughtout the story. The Love triangle involving Sakura, Yukito and Li developed and resolved itself in the end, giving a feeling of closure after so long. The develop of characters and their relationships felt very natural to me as well. Their actions rarely, if ever, felt forced or out of character.
Enjoyment: If you are a fan of shojo or “magical girl” anime, and can stand a little bit of repetitivness, I would say that Card Captor Sakura is a must see for you. I personally enjoyed it thoroughly despite a few lulls hear and there.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Cardcaptor Sakura
3. Turn A Gundam
4. Seikai no Senki
5. Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne
6. Kaikan Phrase
7. Ayashi no Ceres
8. Love Hina
9. Blue Gender