They’re the best Anime that 1999 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Shin Hakkenden, Cybersix, Saber Marionette J to X, and more!
10: Shin Hakkenden
MAL Score: 7.18
Based on the long cherished, classic Japanese novel Nanso Satomi Hakkenden by Bakin Kyokutei Takizawa (1767), a modified version of it was made into animation.
Taking place in the future, during this time wars were occuring in heaven, mostly for possession between the eight moons created by the savior Fuse that surrounded God’s land. When the war ended, there was only one ruling family – that of the Oowaris, and the remaining son gained control of all the moons of heaven, except for one. Meiten, the moon of the pope, where people refrained from war and were therefore out of it’s terms.
Eight people. Each from one of the eight moons. Each possessing one of the jewels – the elements that compose Earth. They are those who are destined to become saviors of humanity. All of them have sacrificed for these jewels, and are determined to complete their duty to Queen Fuse who entrusted these to them. When the mad emperor Kai threatens to revive a ghost who wants to prevent the restoration of Earth, these eight must battle using the powers given by their jewels in order to create Earth and defeat those who want to prevent it.
So they all go to Kusanagi, the ship in the center of God’s land. They must gather the jewels in the key called Yatsufusa at Kusanagi’s center, in order to create Earth.
Shin Hakkenden is based on a very old Japanese novel that took around 4 decades to complete, but Shin Hakkenden sets in the future, and has some changes.
The Story of Shin Hakenden start hundreds of year after the Planet Earth got destroyed by a large comet, dividing it into 8 planets. At that time the Leader of Earth (called Fuse) rescued some people from the impact via space ships and wondered the space for a new home. Fuse tried to create a new Earth, in doing so she break the balance of the galaxy and people hated her for that.
Years and Years after, 8 persons, with 8 different jewels with 8 different background and tragic stories. re-unite to fight injustice and return Earth, which revealed to be a tough task for many obstacles, super power factions and a psychopath villain.
Shin Hakkenden aired in 1999, for an anime produced in that period and comparing to other anime in the same time. Animation and Art are outdated, bland and sometimes silly. maybe the series was produced on a low-budget, but fortunately for those who don’t concern much about animation, it won’t hurt the experience of watching this anime and its great story.
Here’s the awful part, the music! as a point to strengthen the assumption of this produced under low-budget, the entire series run with limited music pieces, maybe even few. every episode has the same music playing again and again. the fight scenes could be more intense with better music.
What made this series interesting and worth the watch is its characters.
the characters are well-developed. each one had its own sub-story running in the series. each had their moments and tragic events.
The way The 8 jewels fighters fight their way, met each other, helped each other, traveled, struggled, sacrificed , with many supporting characters helping them in the bloody journey was well-done.
the characters are realistic too. they are not the common-type of protagonists. each act on their normal behavior. they argue, fight and leave each other sometimes. over the 26 episodes, i can say characters got pretty deep development which really interesting and great.
I can’t say it will be enjoyable for any individual. As long you put in mind you are watching an old anime. And forgive its animations and sound/music.
I bet you’ll enjoy the story and the characters.
Thank You for reading my review. and sorry for the crappy English 🙂
So first I’ll talk about the story
The story is more than excellent. There are great moments and some of them are just normal
I liked the dark side of the story and how all the characters suffered for a sublime goal. I did not like the cause of the sparks in order for them to become villains. Ridiculous and possibly very trivial reason.
Secondly the graphics
Very good for those who move the characters badly improve in some shots, but mostly bad. I understand that it is an old anime, but there are anime with the same foot, but the graphics are better than it.
Third, the sound
The song “Beginning and Ending” is good but I hated that in every episode they remind us of the main story after the introduction
As for the voices in the episodes (OST), they are excellent and bring back to me the memories of this anime that I watched before on TV but in a different language.
Fourth, I want to integrate the extent of the fun with the anime and its characters
The main characters are all bad except for (the dog) in short, there are some support characters who excel at the main ones in many respects, and they are the ones who helped the anime in the fun part, how the changes in them change the course of the story radically.
The anime is deserved to watch, and I gave it 8/10
The plot revolves around Kou, who embarks on a journey to discover his past, his mysterious powerful jewel, and its connection to the infamous Queen Fuse. Even if the premise does not appeal to you, this show will provide a plethora of events as well as interesting side stories and character backgrounds of the other jewel holders. In terms of pacing, If, like me, you prefer dialogue-heavy anime, you won’t have to skip or suffer through long fighting scenes because they’re actually short here, which is good for us. Fight scenes are merely used to convey information such as “they were busy fighting now while something else was happening.” They are not intended to provide visual entertainment.
In terms of characters, the show excels; almost all of the main characters were likeable in my opinion; the focus and screentime of characters in this anime are random, which is good because of the unpredictability, but can be bad because of the imbalance. Villains, on the other hand, lacked depth; most of them are simply subordinates of greater evil, and the “big evil” are simply boring megalomaniacs.
Art and animation on a shoestring budget. Don’t expect beautifully drawn action scenes, and keep in mind that this anime is more about talking than fighting. Character design is good; each main character has his or her own unique-looking design and clothing. What I didn’t like was the inconsistency between most of the main characters and irrelevant characters who appeared briefly in the background or running away, etc… I’m not talking about them being drawn poorly, which is common in anime, but rather that these characters have a more “realistic” appearance for some reason, whereas most main characters look like aliens or some sort of customised video game character who is out of place with their inconsistent vibrant colours.
To me, the opening and first ending of the song are memorable – in fact, the op song is called MEMORY, just saying-. However, the number of OSTs that play during episodes is limited, which means you’d get bored listening to the same music over and over again; however, only a few of them were decent.
I enjoyed the journey to solve the mystery; the war theme was also intriguing; I expected this anime to be about space war politics, but it was more about “internal affairs” I liked how most of the characters were mature, and some made me laugh with their jokes. What I didn’t like were the fantasy elements; I’m not saying I dislike the fantasy genre, but this anime adapted a fantasy novel but only has about 20% of those elements, and most of them are introduced too late and briefly; it felt like the director didn’t like the fantasy elements and only took the key points of the novel to make the conclusion make sense.
Overall, it’s a good old classic average anime with pros and cons; it’s not a “meh anime,” but it’s a fine anime with many flaws that detract from its fineness.
MAL Score: 7.23
Anime based upon the original Argentine graphic novel series of the same name.
The story follows the titular character who is a genetically engineered super-soldier; one of the creations of Dr. Von Reichter’s diabolic experiments. (The fictional) Von Reichter is actually a former Nazi who conducted horrendous experiments during the second world war. He flees to South America where he continues his experiments which culminate in the creation of the “Cybers,” one of which happens to be Cybersix. However, since the Cybers exhibit free will at an young age (an undesired trait), Von Reichter destroys all the Cybers to prevent a rebellion.
In the present day, Cybersix is one of the Cybers who managed to escape and is living a quiet life under the alias of “Adrian Seidelman”; however, she finds out that her survival is dependent on a special substance that Von Reichter created and thus she is forced to hunt down the “Technos,” a newer generation of super-soldiers created by him, in order to survive. Unintentionally, in the process, Cybersix becomes a superhero protecting the world from Dr. Von Reichter’s creations and his evil plans.
This series is an adaptation of an Argentinian graphic novel, that a Canadian company picked up the rights to, and contracted a Japanese studio to animate. The original graphic novel is much more adult orientated and while this adaptation isn’t exactly for kids it’s certainly been toned down a bit. Fortunately enough this doesn’t hamper the story.
This is one of those shows that’s best to go into with little to no idea what it’s about, so I’m not going to talk extensively about the characters or story but give a few reasons why you should check it out. First of all, it has one of the most realistic female leads I’ve ever encountered. While this isn’t so much of an issue in anime as it is in western animation, authentic female protagonists are still rather rare outside of the romance genre. In an action or superhero series authentic female characters are almost unheard of and yet that’s exactly what Cybersix delivers. A female protagonist that’s distinctly female, simultaneously realistic and flawed, Cybersix deals with a variety of issues through a chiefly female perspective.
Beyond the expertly crafted lead, Cybersix hosts a number of other strikingly realistic characters and a well executed story about love and loss set to the backdrop of a sleepy south american city. Stylistically and thematically Cybersix is an incredibly unique mix, there really hasn’t been anything like it since, especially as far as international collaborations go.
With all that said, if you’re looking for a well done and unique series with engaging and realistic characters then I can’t recommend Cybersix enough.
This show was first aired 1999 in Canada (and Argentina), I myself being a Canadian born in 1994 was a young child when I first watched this show. Admittedly I came across it on youtube recently and was driven by nostalgia to watch it again. I tried to watch this show with a critical eye rather then watching through nostalgia goggles and hope the review also is free of it, but be warned that this review might be a bit biased due to that reason.
anyway, moving on.
Story 7/10 (warning, this is gonna get long): The story of the show is fairly simple for the most part, a woman with superhuman strength and agility (Cyber 6) who cross dresses as a man to take on her secret identity (Adrian Seidelman) watches over a South American city fighting against the genetic creations of the evil Doctor Von Reichter and his equally evil eight year old son José. immediately I began to see some minor flaws with this show (Critic: 1, Nostalgia: 0), most prominant being the lack of explain certain things that seem like they would be important. What exactly is Cyber 6? What was that green stuff she drank in the first episode? What is Von Reichter trying to accomplish and why does he want Cyber dead? These are all interesting questions that the show gives tiny hints at but never really offers a sense of understanding, we get that Cyber is a cyber woman but that could mean several things. And at the very last episode we finally get an explanation of the green liquid, turns out it’s something she needs to drink to survive (despite the fact that after the first episode it was almost never brought up again until the end). The comic apparently explains most these question, in fact a brief story synopsis on wikipedia of the comics will give you a much better understanding of some of the minor plot points that seem unanswered yet shown through the show. But as I said with my Akira review, you shouldn’t need to look it up or read the reference material, the minor and larger plot point should be weaved into the story. (I’d also like to make it clear that I have never read the comic, though from what I understand from many who have they aren’t very good) Fortunately these are minor plot points that can be overlooked.
One last thing I’d like to state is something that I think brings the score for the story high then it normally would be. The ending is done well for once! Many shows (especially cartoons from the late 90’s to early 2000’s) always had the problem of ending on low notes as cliffhangers or a blatant “hey, if we get enough money we’ll make more episodes!” Cyber 6 doesn’t suffer from this, the ending subtly hints that there is the possibility of a second season yet still has a proper conclusive ending where something is actually accomplished rather then the typical “I’ll get you next time my pretty!” Personally I enjoyed this immensely and although I feel the show could have gone on was glad they weren’t completely counting on it by making a half-assed ending.
Art 8/10: (sorry about the overly long story section, I’ll try to keep the other areas shorter) As I said, the show was animated by a Japanese company so it has anime like elements to it despite being made mainly as a western show. However the animators rather then making the whole show follow the same anime template for character designs and such that’s been used in… Almost ever anime ever! (Sorry, I just hate the lack of uniqueness in many anime) They stuck to a more cartoonish approach to the characters, however the movement is just as fluid as you would expect to see in any anime. I have notice some aspects where the it seems choppy (mostly during very fast or very large sequences) but for the most part the animation is solid and the design is quite nice actually (I’ve seen some pages from the comics and believe they were trying to stay as close to the character designs from there).
Sound 7/10: First, the voice acting. The voice acting is strange, for the most part it’s solid, fits the characters well (most of the time), and is overall fairly decent… After the first few episodes. It may just be me but it seems like the voices are off in the first couple of episodes but then get better, almost like the voice actors weren’t really sure what they were going for but figured it out later, this might just be me but it’s something I can’t overlook. And as noted early, some of the voice just don’t fit, it’s almost like the actors thought they were voicing someone completely different and the voices seem ridiculously out of place, this however only limits itself to a few bit roles and is not present a lot, enough so that it throws you off a little. Also, something I feel I should state, the show was owned by a Canadian company and so the show was primarily Canadian, and therefore the original language was indeed English, meaning on the whole sub vs dub debate, there is none, not an important fact but one that I felt should be mentioned. As for the music, as with the voices it’s well done but sometimes out of place, occasionally you’ll get things like the music being to cheery and uplifting for the situation being used and vice versa, this problem is present quite a few times and although it does drag the score down a bit it’s not enough to derail the whole show.
Character 9/10: The characters are an interesting topic, since the story (until near the end) is kind of lacking the characters are basically the meat of the show. If you’re making a show that heavily relies on the characters they’d better be good… Thankfully they are, although occasionally seeming a little one beat and overly silly they are present well and given enough personality to keep the show going strong. Nothing is played over the top with them and everything is fairly subtle, such as the relationship between Cyber 6 and her friend (and male personas co-worker) Lucas. It’s not played as a “Hey! Cyber! I’m Lucas and I love you! Totally! We should go out!” but rather more like a friendship with some definite sense of romantic feels between the two. Julian (a street kid who befriends Cyber) has a sad back story but nothing overdone like “I’m sad because my parents were killed by a rogue toaster,” he has to do things he’s not entirely proud of to keep a roof over his head but it’s not done to the point where you should feel sorry for him because “we told you to!” One problem I do have that keeps the score from a ten is the villains, Von Reichter and José. These characters are evil, why? Because they want to kill Cyber 6 and take over the city. Why do they want to do that? Because they’re evil. See where I’m coming from, we have villains who are villains just for the sake of being villains, we’re not even given much of a reason as to why Reichter want’s Cyber dead, with José we can at least get where he’s coming, who doesn’t want to control a city after all? But Reichter just seems to be there because he was in the comics.
Enjoyment 10/10: I’m afraid if nostalgia goggles will play a role in any part of this review, this is most likely it. Cybersix is indeed a very enjoyable show, it has plenty of everything: action, comedy, drama, romance, and all are very well done and don’t suffer the problem many other shows with several aims do, such as fighting over control of the shows main focus until there is none. The show knows it’s an action, and romance, drama, and comedy rather then try to replace it just help accent it, keep it fresh and keep it enjoyable, this also allows it to be enjoyed by all ages seeing as how it doesn’t just cater to kids love of seeing people being punched (well in all fairness I think everyone enjoys that), but the other more subtle areas definitely appeal to wider audiences. The show is just plain fun to watch. (Well nostalgia goggles, you had your chance, hope you didn’t do too much damage)
Overall 8/10: The verdict is that Cybersix is a good show (though criminally under-rated) and is definitely worth a look. It’s fairly short and sweet so you can feel satisfied but not like you spent too much time with it. The characters and overall entertainment value of this show are very well done despite some minor downside that can be easily overlooked. So check it out if you don’t have anything to do over the weekend, you won’t be disappointed.
Regarding the comic series, if you liked the show and want feel like you want more you can always check these out. They don’t have an official English translation out but you’re in luck if you can read Spanish, there are also a few fan translations floating around on the internet so you can try your luck there. But be warned, the comics (from what I’ve heard from other at least) are not very good. They are also nowhere near as kid friendly as the show, I saw a picture that I thought was some of the weird fetishy rule 34 pics the internet loves to spit out (full out reverse pedophilia action) but turns out it was actually the cover for one of the volumes (no, not a page, the actual cover). You have been warned.
Cybersix is about a Genetically engineered woman named Cybersix, and her battle against the many monsters sent by her creator to cause trouble. By day she poses as a male literature teacher, hangs out with her BFF Lucas, and acts like a geek. By night, she’s an ass kicking sex-symbol that frequently visits her love interest, Lucas. It’s also episodic, so you’ll never have to worry about a boring arc lasting more than one episode. Personally, I was never bored.
The characters are cool, spunky, unique and likable. While the majority of the characters outside of the main four or five rarely get any screen time, they only add to the already action-packed story. Cybersix herself is one outstanding individual, being both tough and gentle at the same time. Awesome.
The music isn’t orchestrated, but man that main theme is catchy.
I highly highly recommend this one! Since it’s only 13 episodes, you have very little to lose. Be warned the ending is slightly unsatisfying.
8: Saber Marionette J to X
Japanese: セイバーマリオネットJ to X
MAL Score: 7.29
Taking place mere months after the Saber Marionette J OVA series, this newest installment in the Saber Marionette line follows the continuing adventures of Otaru and his clan of selfless, obsessive marionette girls. This time, the evil Faust is back, and again toying with Marionette technology that was never meant to be explored. The Saber Dolls are back, and torn between their newfound love for Otaru and their undying loyalty to Faust; Will Otaru, Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry be able to stop Faust again, or are they all headed for the scrap heap?
First off for those that plan to watch the show, the plot synopsis is rather glaringly wrong. Faust is not an enemy in this series and the saber dolls do not fall in love with Otaru.
Now the first thing one would ask when watching a sequel is whether or not it measures up to it’s prequel. In my opinion it is not as good as the prequel, but there is still a lot to like. The music and sound have improved since the start, which may appeal to some. The fight scenes aren’t spectacular but get the job done, giving the sense of strength that the marionettes possess. It’s where character and story become involved that things get iffy.
Shows like this aren’t exactly known for their deep plots full of betrayal and woe, so where story goes you have to look at it in a certain light. The story wasn’t bad, but at times felt painfully obvious. In all honesty though the show did really grip me in the key points and I really enjoyed it. The main problem I had was that it really chugged at points, making me lose all interest. When the show picked up it was good but pushing through was difficult for me at times. The show had a great ending that had originality (as far as I know, anyway) and really made me want more episodes, so even though it was slow at times it did have really good moments as well.
Character development is also a rather large hurdle this show tripped on. The marionettes have mostly grown their maiden circuits to the max from the first series and did not change much from that end on. The first series had a strong plot foundation for development that tried to stretch into this show as well, but in my opinion did a lackluster job of it. That being said, while the characters did not do much developing, I still enjoyed their varied personalities a great deal and really enjoyed the show.
Nothing showstopping. Really just stretching the material for another season, but for those who enjoyed the first, a great continuation with a stellar ending that made me sad it was over and wanting more episodes, and really what more can you ask for?
MAL Score: 7.37
Zoids are beast-like fighting machines used in both everyday use such as transportation, and special use such as war. Some types of Zoids, know as Organoids, are miniature Zoids that are living organisms. These Organoids have the capability to fuse with a non-living Zoid and make it much more powerful.
Van (Ban) Freiheit discovers a Zoid Organoid in an abandoned laboratory while running from two strangers piloting Zoids. Also in the laboratory, in an animated suspension tube is a strange girl. He breaks the tube open and takes her and the Organoid with him. Spotting a ruined Shield Liger Zoid outside nearby, the Organoid fuses with it and repairs the damages. Making his escape, Van names the Organoid Zeke, and decides to keep him as a friend. The girl, who says her name is Fiona, wants to find something called Zoids Eve, and so Van, Zeke, and Fiona begin their adventure.
The story, although your simple "country raised kid rises up to the challenge of saving the world from evil," is very good and has enough plot twists in between to leave you on the edge of your seat and wanting for more. What made this Zoids saga different from the others were the miniature Zoids organoids that were able to fuse with their larger counterparts and in essence, bring the Zoid to life with more power than before. What really makes the story great is the epic battles they have between many Zoids.
These epic battles for the most part, are animated very well. For being an older anime (debuted in 1999) it still holds up to today\’s standards fairly well and really does not disappoint. The characters themselves look a bit bland at times, but it isn\’t to the degree where its unwatchable.
The sound is so-so. Because it\’s been awhile since I saw this anime, I don\’t remember a lot of the scores used, but I do remember for scores used for the battles and they fit just right.
All of the main characters have very distinct personalities and you\’ll come to have your favorites most definitely. Van and Fiona have believable strengths and weaknesses given their environment and always seem to have an enemy, or rival, to go against up with. There really isn\’t a boring moment where you\’ll find that the protagonists are superior to everyone else.
All in all, the anime was a great start to the Zoids saga. Though a lot of the following stories after were not as great, this is still a classic. The stirring romance between Van and Fiona again is something you\’ll fall in love with as the story progresses and is one more reason to give this show a try. To end with, if you\’re one of the younger anime audiences out there and like mecha anime, but haven\’t given the original Zoids a try because of the lackluster performances of the others, I urge you to give this one a shot.
The series takes place on the Planet Zi, where living machines called Zoids live. There are wild ones, and ones controlled by humans. There are two major powers on the planet Zi, the Republic and Guylos Empire. Though the war they fought is over, the peace is tenuous and could give way to war at any moment. The story follows Van who lives in a village. He goes out one day and gets chased by bandits into some ancient ruins. The he finds a organoid, and names it Zeke. Zeke reviews a Shield Liger and defeat the bandits. They go back into the ruins and discover Fiona a ancient Zoidian who has lost her memory. The group on a adventure searching for t he Zoid Eve, through bandits, merc’s, and war.
STORY: The story is great, it’s light, but there are dark undertones. I guess the company did it to attract younger viewers. The violence is toned done, though you see cities being destroyed, and Zoids being destroyed so you know what’s happening and doesn’t take anything away from the story.
ART: The animation is great done by XEBEC, the same people who did Love Hina, Elemental Gelade, and Buso Renkin, which were all pretty good series.
SOUND: The one flaw I found in this series was the soundtrack. It lacked depth and feel. Was it still good, yes. It just didn’t to the series justice.
CHARACTERS: The characters in this series were great. You could feel their pain and see their suffering and joy. The just captivated you and brought you in. The best characters were the two main ones Van and Fiona and their story was just wonderful.
OVERALL: Zoids is 24th favorite anime series out of about 250 series/OVA/movies I’ve seen. It’s a great series, not quite a classic, but still great. A series everyone should watch.
STORY: In the first half of the series, Van Flyheight is a zoid pilot who comes across a mysterious type of zoid known as an Organoid who he names Zeke, as well as a young girl named Fiona in pods found in mysterious ruins. Upon finding the two, Van finds himself the center of attention of bandits and soldiers alike who are after the Organoid’s strange powers. Van and Fiona come across other characters and find themselves in the middle of a war, and have to do what they can to help bring peace to land and end this war. Zoids does a relatively decent job of keeping tone shifts frequent without overexaggerating it, often having serious moments albeit with light-hearted comedy when the mood needs to be brought up. The flow of the story feels natural, and feels neither rushed or slow. It has a nice, even pace that the viewer can easily enjoy. 9/10
ART: The art direction that Zoids took was aesthetically pleasing all around. Characters were detailed enough that they didn’t stick out too much, but also were not too detailed to the extent that they distracted from the environment. It felt as though environments and characters had about the same effort put into them, so that neither were too distracting. Obviously, the Zoids were what the majority of the focus was put on, most likely being what most of the budget was used for. The zoids were rendered with high quality, and it shows. If anything in particular needed the most focus in terms of art, it was definitely the Zoids, and it shows. That being said, the only real flaw I can see with them is that some animations were clearly recycled throughout the series, but it’s not incredibly noticeable so it isn’t really that big of an issue. 9/10
SOUND: As much as I personally enjoy the soundtrack, I do have some issues with it; the main problem I have is that the soundtrack can often times sound a little repetitive while other times is a little too scarce. There’s nothing wrong with having certain audio tracks be more common than others, but eventually it gets to the point where some tracks sound as though they’re heard in almost every episode. I felt that there could have been a little more variety in certain places, and that occasionally, certain tracks did not fully fit the mood. Yet in other situations, the soundtrack did its job very well, helping in creating the particular mood of a scene. I felt that the type of music used did fit the overall environment of the show, using both fast paced action-themed music for fighting, and softer, more melodic music for scenes involving development of characters. 7.5/10
CHARACTER: In Zoids, the characters can really be hit or miss. Some aren’t as fleshed out as others, but the main cast is fleshed out enough that the viewer cares about them and wants to see them succeed. Van Flyheight is the most developed character by far, as the second half of the series, Guardian Forces, focuses on how much Van has matured since the first half of the series (there is a small time skip in between), and they really emphasize just how much he’s changed, going from often being a jokester kind of character to a more serious character who cares about protecting those dear to him. The show also does a nice job in creating sympathy for certain characters who start off as villains but have a change of heart as the series progresses. Unfortunately, while Zoids does a great job in developing the main protagonists, the show falls a bit short in terms of the main antagonists, who sadly fall into the usual trope of being evil for the sake of being evil. That being said, they are not part of the main focus of development to begin with, and while it would be nice to see them developed more, at the very least the main and supporting cast have enough development to keep the viewer caring for them. 8.5/10
ENJOYMENT: The biggest part of enjoyment typically comes from watching the Zoid battles throughout the series. They have a mix of fast paced action and often strategic ways of fighting, appealing to more than just one audience with the way the battles are handled. There is drama involved, but it is not shoved in the viewer’s face. There is a nice, even pacing between the fighting and story elements, so neither feels overdone. Light hearted moments in the show are welcome when they are as the action and serious tone will bring characters back to reality. The show has a nice, enjoyable pace from start to finish, introducing slight changes in the second half so as not to be repetitive. 9.5/10
OVERALL: Zoids: Chaotic Century/Guardian Force gives off the feeling of being along for an adventure. It develops its characters enough to make the viewer care for them, and want to see them get to the end of their journey. You follow them along, and through thick and thin, they keep fighting, and the journey goes through various types of drama and has an adventurous feel. A lot of the series is about the maturity of Van as a character too, and you see him grow from a young boy to a man who fights for what he believes in. You also see the evolution of how the likes of Fiona and several other characters develop throughout the series, and by the end, their relationships feel genuine. The characters feel like those who can be related to by the viewer. It has all the feelings of an adventure, from humble beginnings to the maturity one gains from it.
Final Score: 10/10 : Would recommend to any anime fan.
6: Mugen no Ryvius
English: Infinite Ryvius
MAL Score: 7.47
The year is AD 2225. Kouji Aiba and Aoi Housen are serving as astronauts in-training in Liebe Delta which is located on the edge of the Geduld Sea. When saboteurs with unknown intents suddenly strike during a routine dive procedure, the space station plummets into the Geduld, a plasma field that links all the planets like a nervous system and crushes any ship that strays too far into it. With all the adults onboard killed, the young astronauts will have to survive this long journey home in midst of the growing tension amongst each other. Meanwhile the organizers of the sabotage look on and prepare to attack once more.
For me, what made the characters interesting wasn’t so much their innate personalities, but the way they handled the situations around them. Ultimately that is what defines the cast in this series. After all, many people find their true colours emerge in life-or-death situations, and I took a strange pleasure in seeing everyone change, stay the same, or reveal their true selves as everything began to crumble. While some of you might think about boys running amok doing all sorts of bad things, the instance that disturbed me the most involved perpetrators from my own gender. There are no groups in this anime that can easily be seen as victims or oppressors… everyone loses their grip a bit. We are all human, and there are no monsters to blame everything on.
The production, though nothing earth-shaking, adequately supports the story and characters, such that I never felt myself cringing due to quality issues. Certainly we’re not taking about a Miyazaki film here, but we spend so much time listening to dialogue that it never grated on me.
Infinite Ryvius is a look at the politics of a confused society under threat. Any student of history or politics would do well to watch this title. For those non-politically inclined, you might find yourselves drawn in by the character drama, thinking a lot about the world you live in, and that’s always a good thing, hmm? What would you do in the same situation? I think I’d probably cry, but then, that’s why I watch anime instead of actually piloting space ships. ^_~
Strange but this anime seems to be the only one that all the people who rated it liked and respect it, even the ones that gave it an average 7 think this is a really good anime, but just gets dragged down by animation and the really depressive story, in their opinion, i happen to like the animation and the story.
This anime has one visible flaw but the good points more than make up for it. The only flaw i can see, and the one that drove people off from this anime even before they gave it a chance is the animation that looks like it came out of the early-mid 90’s. Sure the fighting scenes don’t look so spectacular and there are no majors CG effects, but the animation is still capable of inflicting a few WOOWWs and i find the space battles more intriguing from the logic and realism point of view a lot better than in Gundam, and if you’ll watch the show you’ll know what i mean.
The character design is that semi-realistic mid 90’s Evangelion like style, no pink or blue hair, just the realistic colors you’ll find in humans, Aeris Blue doesn’t count since he has dyed hair. So overall i love the way they are drawn.
The sound is great, with nice music beats, even dough i didn’t enjoy the OP theme to much, but i can’t think of giving it a lower grade than 10 when it comes to voice acting. It has the best voice acting i ever came across, with voices so diverse and acting so realistic in all sorts of situation, from happiness, to anger, cry or desperation.
The plot is good and filled with nice and unpredictable twists and similar to the classic "Lord of the flies" but placed in a sf ground, so it’s all about how a few hundred teenagers without adults to watch over them fight to survive. And belive me, the outside enemy isn’t their own enemy, they are their worst enemy and as time passes things become more and more violent and desperate and the mood darker and darker.
So overall the story focuses on the human nature, on how people act in desperate situation and how these situations change their personalities, the fight for survival and acts of alliances, violence, backstabbing, emotions of all kinds from love, friendship to fear, hate, jealousy and self conservation. All put in an overall realistic and very detailed manner and very dark and dramatic that just keeps you wanting more. And this anime has a real ending, and i don’t mean the short, forced conclusion, no, a hole episode in which you can see the aftermath of "no spoilers" the story, unlike most of the japanese animes.
The character development has to be the crown jewel of this anime, it has the best, most extensive and unexpected character development I ever seen. All the characters are taken care of, some are important from day one others that you’ll never consider get a big importance after a while. I should warn you that there are about 26 characters that appear in every episode and have a real development, and that you might not like any of them in the end, but almost all change and at the end you’ll never recognize them and you’ll probably say "i never thought that he’ll end up this way". Maybe you’ll love some characters at first and then come to dislike then and the other way around.
Value and enjoyment:
This is one of the best, if not the best animes i’ve seen, and if you don’t mind the animation you’ll find a masterpiece of a story development, voice acting and character development…these are the three areas in which this anime could be the best of the best animes.
If you are a SF/psychology fan and you prefer story and character quality over animation quality then this is the BEST choice for you, but if you are a shallow person who just enjoys explosions and cool mechas and pantie shots then you better thing twice.
It is such a brilliant anime and yet so few people know of it, and why you ask? … Well i guess this world is composed of shallow pantie shot, mega-exposion loverz since this show is so unknown and shows like DearS, Naruto or other top100 animes are soo famous.
It’s also worth mentioning that in addition to the design choices, the follow-through on the art and animation in Ryvius is lackluster at best. Stiff, jerky movements abound, and the character art, which is rough to start with, suffers noticeable degradation in quality at many points. The cinematography during some of the space battles is so poor that I genuinely don’t think I would have been able to tell what was happening if not for the narration offered by the characters. Still-frames, poor transitions, reused footage—any technique that could shave a dollar off the cost of animation is used, and used frequently. On a more positive note, the space backgrounds aren’t half bad, and the mecha and ship designs are pretty impressive in comparison to everything else.
I swear that I’m not trying to beat this show up based only on its technical side, but frankly, whoever thought that this musical score was a good idea deserves to be beaten up, figuratively and literally. To elaborate on that a little, I’ll say that the soundtrack is unique—it’s a mix of jazzy contemporary, soft atmospheric noise, and grandiose orchestra, all underscored by a distinct flair of hip-hop influence. That sounds strange on paper, and in this particular case, it isn’t any better in practice. I’ve been impressed by hip-hop and electronic soundtracks in the past, but most of the music in Ryvius consists of simplistic beats that sound tinny and uninspired. One track features a man (who I can only assume was hard-up for cash at the time) repeatedly rapping the word “Ryvius.” I wish I could say I was kidding. It is one of the worst pieces of music that I have ever heard. The score has its high points, but they’re few and far between; in general, it actively detracts from the show. Good integration is theoretically possible even with a sub-par soundtrack, but the music in Ryvius fails to jive with what’s happening at any given point in time. Upbeat tracks play while people are panicking and dying, not just once, but with unerring frequency. Sometimes the music will start, barely manage to reach a point where it’s noticeable, play for five or ten seconds, and then stop abruptly to match an awkward scene transition. My impression of the sound in Infinite Ryvius matches my impression of many other things in Infinite Ryvius: It’s tacked-on and it feels unnatural.
The series hurries to introduce disaster; it takes all of two episodes to get to the “kids trapped on ship trying to stay alive” premise. The beginning is rushed, clearly, but it works; it breeds tension and arouses curiosity about how the situation will play out. It introduces the large cast, briefly but sufficiently, and tosses them all into the fray. But just as it gets to the point where the pot should start boiling, the series freezes. It has no idea what to do, and perversely, it brings some of its less convincing sci-fi elements to bear in a series of dreadfully uneventful mecha battles which mostly consist of the characters shouting inarticulate technobabble at one another. There’s precious little indication that these battles have anything to do with the plot as a whole, and indeed, once the story is complete it becomes glaringly obvious that they serve almost no purpose other than to kill time. Isn’t that an oddity; at the points where they occur, these fights lack the context to be suspenseful or engaging, but in retrospect, that context makes them seem silly and unnecessary. Nor do they appear to affect the characters in any way. You would think that these constant reminders of how tiny and mortal they are would drive the kids mad, but it seems like most of the character conflict pushing the story would have occurred with or without eight episodes worth of borderline junk.
Speaking of those characters, it’s on their behalf that I can finally give the show some much-needed credit. The cast is huge, and individually they aren’t the most complex bunch, but the show manages to juggle a pretty involving web of relationships that ends up bearing some rewards. There is a gritty and understated wit to the way the characters interact that I found myself appreciating more than anything else in the show—they mock each other gently, threaten each other softly, and on the rare occasions where they help each other, they do so with great humanity and sincerity. There is no clear-cut good or evil present in the series; everyone is an antagonist to someone, whether they know it or not. Some of them hate each other, but at the same time they recognize the need for one another. The ship’s pilots don’t like the thugs and the thugs don’t like the pilots, but neither can exist without the other; they know it and it shows in the way they act, which is both clever and true to how a society really functions.
Ryvius also manages to generate a fair amount of effective drama by taking character archetypes and forcing them to react to adversity. The pushy, aggressive, prideful brother? Make him get overpowered by a stronger boy and turned into an unwilling underling, then see how he handles it. The peacemaking, kind-hearted girl who just wants everybody to get along? Make her the target of merciless violence, and see if she can still cling to her optimism. It isn’t the most inspired or original formula, but it’s played well enough here—even in the very early episodes, the series is careful to drop some subtle hints that everyone might not be who they initially appear to be, and some equally subtle hints that some of the cast are undergoing transformations, for better or for worse. Sometimes those transformations are a bit over-the-top, but I’ll forgive that, because in general I found myself having just enough emotional investment in the characters to not want to see them break under pressure. In some of its human elements, at least, the series soundly struck the right note.
To get back to the story for a moment, I talked about the show’s beginning and middle, but not about its last third or so, which is the most satisfying part. It’s not perfect. It’s a plot that definitely requires a stretch on the part of the viewer to appreciate. But the fact that the series actually manages to snap out of its lengthy funk and make something of a story that initially appears to be a complete mess is commendable. Not only do some of the science fiction aspects come full circle, but the show actually manages to draw a meaningful parallel between the unseen antagonists and the children they’re targeting, which is a surprising and welcome turn of events. The last third of Ryvius makes all the difference in the world. It manages to pull the series out of the quagmire of mediocrity that the middle nearly drowned it in and breathe some life into it. There still isn’t any excuse for the painful ineptitude I mentioned earlier, but that the writers actually managed to pull themselves together for the home stretch is nothing to sneeze at.
To pin down just what ails Infinite Ryvius: It’s ambitious to a fault. There are way too many scarcely explained, grandiose sci-fi concepts placed alongside the comparatively grounded character interactions, and for the most part they end up feeling misplaced. Things like the Geduld, the destructive natural phenomenon that suddenly appeared in outer space, or the Sphixes, the beings which are associated with controlling the giant robots. Or the giant robots themselves, for that matter. Some of them do actually end up working, and when that happens they couple quite well with the show’s human half. I can see what the series is going for, certainly, but if I had to pick a number, I’d say that it’s sixty percent of the way there; not every thread is tied off, not every connection is firm. Its world just isn’t made whole on the level that you’d expect a sweeping sci-fi to operate on. But I do think this show earns the privilege of at least some recognition, mostly on the basis of its characters and the way it manages to steer itself into a graceful ending. It does just enough right for me to give it the benefit of the doubt, and a cautious recommendation.
5: Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel Saga
English: Excel Saga
Japanese: へっぽこ実験アニメーション エクセル サーガ
MAL Score: 7.50
It’s hard to take over the world, and the enigmatic Il Palazzo, head of the ACROSS organization, knows this, so he aims to start small by conquering the city of Fukuoka. Two young officers, the Excel and her partner Hyatt, are tasked with executing this plan, but standing in their way are the City Security workers, a group consisting of three (mostly) normal guys, a very severe girl, and some robots. Regardless of simplicity, Excel and Hyatt always manage to screw up their missions, which usually result in death and lots of destruction.
Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel?Saga chronicles the elaborate troubles that the ACROSS officers get themselves into, as Excel and Hyatt never fail to do their jobs improperly.
Excel Saga actually not only tells the story of Excel and her escapades, but it is actually three different story lines going at once.
We have the tale of Excel, Pedro, and The Neighbors that work for the city.
With that said, the story is not easily reviewable but here goes.
Well to tell the truth, there really is no story (aside from trying to take over the city) until the last few episodes when random twists of fate bring all three story lines together (dont worry that didn’t ruin anything)
Each episode of Excel saga is meant to be a parody of different genre, for instance, there is a sci-fi episode, a fantasy episode, a "power rangers/sailor moon" type one, etc etc. Throughout the course of these episodes, stranger and stranger things start happening and its always entertaining, sometimes funny, sometimes WTF.
The episodes that dont so much focus on Excel have no plot either, and are more of the "daily life" type anime episodes.
As for the art, the animation is top notch. Everything is well colored, choreographed, and presented. They make use of a wide array of animation styles for the various episodes and characters which is a plus.
The sound……i dont even know. This is one of the reasons you love it or hate it. Excel talks extremely fast about the most random things and she can get to be very annoying, or very entertaining. And you may think that "oh she can’t talk like this the whole time" but you are wrong, almost the entire time she is running that jaw of hers. Dub or sub, she sounds the same, i dont have a recommendation, pick whichever you normally watch.
Aside from the vocal tracks, the music is quite entertaining. The character themes and sound effects play a big role to help emphasize scenes and actions.
As for enjoyment, I personally found the show very entertaining although at times i did want excel to just STFU but it was worth it in the end to watch it. Dont watch this for any kind of epic plot because you will be disappointed, but if you want highly entertaining, high energy and comical times, check this show out.
The story mainly follows 2 main characters as they’re “trying to take over the world” for a company called ACROSS, i forgot what the acronym stood for. The two girls, Excel and Hyatt, all work under a man called Ilpalazzo. The great thing about the two main characters is that they’re complete polar opposites of each other. Excel, is your typical over eccentric and stupidly ignorant girl, and Hyatt, is very under eccentric and is actually pretty smart. Its funny in a sense that they are Literally different from each other. They’re not the only characters in the show tho. There are at least a good dozen characters that keep reappearing but always displayed in different situations.
Art and Sound
The art and animation is typical pre-2000 style artwork. Its all kind of lame in my opinion, but they do show their artistic variety in how they have to draw drastically different environments with every episode. The music is forgettable, although you’ll laugh at the ED a few times it gets annoying after the 3-4th time listening to it. The op is a little catchy and its a nice touch to have hyatt cough during her singing.
The best part of the anime is the line execution or the script. The use of the word “Shock” and the running joke of her eating her dog among all the other hundreds of jokes makes this show stand out so much. The simplistic lines flow very well with the simple artwork and characters. They even go far as copying characters from from digi charat, to fist of the northstar, to shinesman (you’ll think its power rangers but its really a spoof off of Shinesman), really show the voice range and artistic range albeit a little simple.
This show does have its high points but its also with its downsides. If you’re really into anime comedy, then this would be a good pickup, but even if you’re not into the comedy genre it still would not be bad to pickup and watch since there is the possibility of you seeing one of your favorite “classic” anime or genre get spoofed. You’ll see jokes coming from lolicon to androids, to poverty jokes, you’ll see a little of everything here. It’s definitely a different style of comedy and Nabeshin’s comedy style transfers very well to his other work, Nerima Daikon Brothers. This anime is not for most people but you’ll enjoy the ending
Manga/Anime: Excel Saga was originally an manga created by Rikdo Koshi. It began running in Young King OURS in the April 1997 issue, and is still running at this point in time, at. Viz has licensed it Stateside, and the sixteenth volume (and the latest volume to be compiled over in Japan) was released on September 11th, 2007.
The anime version was produced by JC Staff (best known for Revolutionary Girl Utena and Honey and Clover), and directed by Shinichi Watanabe (well-known for Nerima Daikon Brothers and Tenchi Muyo! GXP). It ran on TV from October 7th, 1999 to March 30th, 2000. It has been licensed by ADV Stateside, and the sixth and final volume was released April 8th, 2003.
Story: …Story? What story? xD
Basic plot follows ACROSS’ (leader Ilpalazzo and lackeys Excel and Hyatt) attempts to take over the world.
And really, that’s about it. Because each and every episode can be taken as a self-contained standalone (except for the last ones), and there’s almost no continuity, except in the characters, and one or two basic plot elements.
You see, this anime is a parody of every single genre/major show in the history of evah. Sports anime? Done. Youth drama? Done. Gundam? Done. Dragonball? Done. End of the world? …You get the idea. They even do an episode just to see how far they can violate TV censorship rules.
It’s got some good gags. But it’s not satire material. It’s still pretty well done, though.
Art: There’s not a lot to be said here, because it all depends on what they decide to mock each episode. xD But whatever they choose to mock, they do it well.
Music: The lyrics to the OP are hilarious, and the fact that they’re sung so horribly out of tune is the only reason the OP stands out. The ED stands out for the fact that it’s just a dog barking/woofing/howling, with a translator translating them into a human language for us.
The background music, as always, depends on what they’re trying to mock each episode. But as with the art style and story, it’s done well. I’ve still got some random themes bouncing around in my head…
Seiyuu: The big thing for this one is that they got Kotono Mitsuishi (Sailor Moon’s seiyuu) to do this, so when they do magical girl parodies, it’s even more hilarious, because in a way, she’s mocking herself (they even do some very specific mockings of Sailor Moon herself). xD They do this with several other seiyuu. Also, Ilpalazzo’s seiyuu is Hotohori’s seiyuu (from Fushigi Yuugi) and Touga Kiryuu’s seiyuu (Revolutionary Girl Utena), and his seiyuu is right up there with Joji Nakata for me. So, overall, WIN.
Length: I cannot think of a single genre or major show that they did not mock (and any ones that do come to mind are only because they were released after this). Plus, it starts to drag a little at the end. So, yeah, just right.
Overall: A pretty decent parody gag anime with awesome seiyuu and music.
Also, HAIL ILPALAZZO!!
Overall: 42/50; 84% (B)
4: The Big O
English: The Big O
MAL Score: 7.53
Paradigm City, a city of amnesia and a place of belonging. It remains populated by forgotten pasts and the ruins of their labors due to a calamity 40 years ago. Shrouded in a fog-like mystery, it is up to people like Roger Smith to shine a light through the mist. Acting as a professional negotiator and suave agent, Roger is a self-tailored ladies man whose only love is for funeral black. However, as he gets deeply involved with his clients, what often starts as a simple negotiation evolves into Roger saving Paradigm from crime and peril.
In the process, Roger stumbles even deeper into the untold folds of the city. As a rule, things are hardly ever as they appear. Serving as gray knight in a gray world, Roger is not without allies. By his side are Norman, a loyal and widely skilled butler, and Dorothy, a human-like android with deadpan snark. Together with the relic Big O, a jet-black mecha of gargantuan size and weight, they help Roger serve iron justice to Paradigm’s lurking villains as he discovers the truth about 40 years ago.
First of all, if you are a mecha fan, you may be sorely dissapointed with this show, it has much more of a mystery feel to it and the Mecha fights may not be to your liking.
However, if your not a hard-core mecha fan like me but can appreciate the art-form of Mecha, you will likely enjoy this.
The main reason I love this show was because of it’s fantastic mysteries and it’s fantastic characters. I love all the characters in this show, because they are somewhat unique in their own ways. Characters like Schwarzwald who to many people appears to be evil actually is trying to good. While people like Alan Gabriel are completely insane and the main Villain Alex Rosewater has a superiority complex.
Again I gave this a 10 almost across the board, because It’s my opinion on the series. I felt it was a well told story.
Overall I think BIG O is under appreciated by most anime fans. Everyone should check out this series.
anyways, its basically about a negotiator named roger smith that pilots the big freaking mecha, big o. later on he gets swept up in all of this espionage and secrets and whatnot.
the first season is mostly stand alone episodes roger gets hired as a negotiator and he gets into battles with other mechas destroying most of the city (only for it to miraculously be exactly back to normal the next episodes.. ooh anime, gotta love it XDD) he runs into various villians including some reaccuring ones such as beck the wacky criminal that always seems to get himself locked up, schwatzwald that was once a newspaper reporter went crazy and is now dressed up in bandages and goes around setting stuff on fire and wants to uncover the truth. and more youll see threwout the series.
the second season has more of a plot feel to it, this is when you get into the somewhat wierdness of the series, and the crazy twists and turns and stuff.
both seasons are great. and it has a very nior batman-esque feel to it. im not very good at explaining things, but i would totally recommend it 🙂 plus its only 26 ep. so its not so bad (each season is 13 ep.)
3: Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
English: Now and Then, Here and There
MAL Score: 7.64
Shuuzou “Shuu” Matsutani lives his ordinary life in peace. He has friends, a crush, and a passion for kendo. Dejected after losing to his kendo rival, Shuu climbs a smokestack to watch the sunset where he finds Lala-Ru, a quiet, blue-haired girl wearing a strange pendant. Shuu attempts to befriend her, despite her uninterested, bland responses.
However, his hopes are crushed when a woman, accompanied by two serpentine machines, appear out of thin air with one goal in mind: capture Lala-Ru. Shuu, bull-headed as he is, tries to save his new friend from her kidnappers and is transported to a desert world, unlike anything he has ever seen before. Yet, despite the circumstances, Shuu only thinks of saving Lala-Ru, until he is thoroughly beaten up by some soldiers. As he soon finds out, Lala-Ru can manipulate water and her pendant is the source from which she is able to bring forth the liquid, a scarce commodity in his new environment. But now, the pendant is lost, and Shuu is the prime suspect.
Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku is the haunting story of a dystopian world, and of Shuu, who has to endure torture, hunger, and the horrors of war in order to save the lonely girl he found sitting atop a smokestack.
The hero of this story, Shu, is actually not so much a hero as he is just another victim of an ugly world gone wrong, and one who himself is nearly broken a number of times. What makes him stand out is his stubborn refusal to succumb to the hopelessness and terror of it all, even while everyone around him has been beaten down to the point where they commit terrible acts out of overwhelming fear and a desire to survive—in some cases a distant yet precious hope that if they can make it through, they’ll one day be set free from this hell that holds them captive.
The setting is an alternate world that Shu finds himself pulled into, a bleak dystopian wasteland of endless, bone-dry desert; the atmosphere is stifling and oppressive, a nihilistic Future Boy Conan where skies are not blue, but blood-red, and there isn’t a drop of water to be found. Enter Lala-Ru, a girl who, like Lana of the aforementioned classic, holds a power that can save the world from its ruin—a power that has fallen into the wrong hands. This is very much like a story Hayao Miyazaki might come up with were he feeling suicidally depressed. Lala-Ru, unlike Lana, would sooner let the squabbling humans wither up and die than exert herself to aid them.
It’s easy to understand how Shu must feel, having stumbled into this world gone mad, but while I become more and more depressed and anxious as characters descend further and further into misery and anguish with each episode, Shu never loses his resolve. Even after being beaten and starved and nearly killed a number of times, he retains his determination to protect those in need of help, and to try to reassure them that as grim as things seem, everything will be okay.
It’s tough to believe him, in the face of so much kidnapping, murder, and rape, all at the behest of Lord Hamdo, the completely insane fruitcake dictator of Hellywood and desperate captor of Lala-Ru. Other characters will accuse Shu of lying, and you’ll wonder if there really is any escape from the utterly dismal state of this nightmarish world. But you’ll also find that there are fragments of hope, and in some sense one may ultimately find illumination in all this darkness and despair.
Now and Then, Here and There has a look and feel that suggests it was a project made on a tight budget, yet with a lot of feeling behind it—especially evident in the wistful ending theme. You won’t find yourself impressed with flashy modern animation, but the overall production is sufficient to convey the bleak atmosphere effectively.
The makers of this anime clearly wanted to say something, and they’ve gone about doing so in the most dire, soul-draining way they could muster. It’s up to you if you can weather the journey, but I guarantee you’ll come out on the other end a bit wiser for it.
So this anime starts out like so many others do. A typicial shounen-anime like boy lead nicknamed Shu, who is living is daily life normally in Japan circa 1999, who’s a little slow but good hearted finds a mysterious girl on top of some smoke stacks at the edge of town. He tries to talk to her, and ask her how she got to the top of the other smoke stack, when all of a sudden these futuristic machines get teleported there, and the people controling them want to capture this girl (named Lala-Ru). Bust just like in any typicial shounen-anime our hero tries to save her, a bit a little stupidely, but he tries. He ends up being teleported to the strange world (possibly the future of earth) along with these strange military people, and Lala-Ru. The place he gets transported to is called “Hellywood” , and he gets separated from Lala-Ru, and accidentally get’s her pendant. But this is were the similarities with all other anime series pretty much stops. After this point this anime evolves into something much, much more. It’s a dark seinen series, about how war effects people, and can destory the lives of everyone. It’s also grounded in reality, even though most of the events take place in this “distant world”, it’s very realistic and feels as though most of this could happen right now (and to be fair, it was inspired by horrble events that happened in Africa over ten years ago). This anime is brutally honest, it doesn’t sugar coat anything, nor does it glorify war or violence. It’s a slap to the face to the DBZ’s and Naruto’s as well as many American war movies and novels of our current era. It also has a very powerful and blunt statement. But it’s much, much more then that too. The story is emotional, engaging, and one of the best overall stories I’ve ever seen. The only “problem” I can find with the story is it isn’t very “deep”, it’s a pretty straightforward, simple story, not very layered, but it wasn’t going for deep in that sense anyway. It does have a message, and a point to it all, and it’s a very good story. I can’t mark it down for that small problem so 10/10.
It’s a little dated, but it’s still very beautiful. For whatever reason the powers that be decided to give this anime a more “simple” look to it. When compared to other anime from around or before it’s time (Revolutionary Girl Utena, To Heart, Cowboy Bebop) it’s not as detailed. This does not make it ugly, far from it. Still it’s not the best animation and art ever, even given it’s time. Cowboy Bebop truly shows what could be done with technology of the time, and a extremely large budget. This anime has no use of CGI or other computer techniques that newer anime series use. It’s not as flashy as Cowboy Bebop (1998), and no where near as nice looking as say Black Lagoon (2006), a newer anime for example. The character designs are simple but effective, and the background art is very beautiful. The sunset in episode one is something to really enjoy, feel free to pause and just look at how nice it is. It’s clear this anime was not made with a very large budget, but it still is very nice looking at times, esecially backgrounds. Don’t let the dated animation turn you off this show, because it is an amazing series. This anime proves you don’t need flashy animation, and gimmicks to make a great anime, all that’s needed is a good story, and some talented people involved.
The music in this series is quite amazing. From it’s very nice opening theme to it’s background music everything is great! The ending theme is one of my favorites from any anime, because not only is it a great song, but it helps to calm the audience down after seeing some brutal and disturbing stuff. This anime has some of the best use of music I’ve ever seen.
The dub for this anime was recorded at Taj Studios Inc (NYC), for Central Park Media. The group of actors from New York City have proven themselves to be a talented bunch, but sadly many of the producations are still very poor. I think they get a bad rap due to the many poor 4Kid’s dubs these guys have been in though. They are great actors, and they have have good directors and writers that work for the dubbing studios in NYC too. Luckily this is one of the best dubs I’ve ever heard, and definitely my favorite dub from a studio in/near New York City. The first episode starts off a little iffy, strong but with some awkard lines here and there (no pun intended) but afterwards it’s really a top level dub. This anime needed a good dub, and CPM reconized that and allowed extra time for the dubbing to take place. Actors got to watch the entire show once or twice through before even starting on this anime. Special attention was given to this dub, and it clearly shows. With well known actors/actresses like Lisa Ortiz, Dan Green, Crispin Freeman, and Rachael Lillis giving great performances (that we’ve come to expect from them), but the one who steals this anime is Jack Taylor. He plays the horrible and insane ruler of Hellywood, King Hamdo, and he nails it! Jack Taylor is incredibly frightening and convincing! You would NOT want to deal with King Hamdo! If Jack Taylor’s performance was not as strong as it is, the entire show might have buckled under the weight of that. The man should get an award for what he did in this show. He makes you hate Hamdo, with an undieing passion! Another relatively unknown, Dana Halsted, plays his assistant Lady Abelia, and she quickly gets used to her role. She gives out another great performance. Everyone in this anime knows their roles, and can really act. Only problem with the dub is the confusion on how to say the name “Nabuka”. That and some may say a few of the children sound a little too old. I however did not think so at all. Both are forgivable seeing how amazing this dub is. The dub script stays pretty close to the subtitle track, as many CPM titles tend to do. This is one to show to the sub-only fans!
(I checked out the sub and it seemed fine to me)
This is not an anime you will “enjoy” as a form of entertainment. This is not an action show, this is not a comedy, this is some serious stuff! This is an anime that will be hard to re-watch because it is very depressing, very dark, and very distrubing. But this is an anime you will be very happy you watched. This is an anime that truly uses the medium to it’s full advantage, much in the same way Grave of the Fireflies did. I can’t imagine watching this as a live action movie, or reading it as a book. Anime is the perfect medium for this story. It may be a little too dark and depressing for some, but if you have the strength to finish it, you will look back at it and say “that was amazing”.
Very well directed and written story. The animation may be a little dated and simple but it’s still very nice and it works, and the music is stunning. The dub is one of the best from NYC, and it’s one to test on those subtitle only type people, but the subtitle track is perfectly alright as well. Both are very good. This anime is very dark, disturibing, depressing, visualy graphic at times, but it’s still one of the best stories ever told. Brutal, but brutally honest and realistic. Highly recommended esecially to those who like Grave of the Fireflies , fans of Mohiro Kitoh’s mangas, or fans of Akitaro Daichi (who want to see him do something darker). Actually if you are a human being (and even if your not, lol) I suggest this to you, as long as you can deal with it. It’s really 16+ due to the subject matter,violence, implied rape, visually graphic scenes, and overall dark tune. Much of the violence is aimed at innocent children, and it makes it much worse. A very mature series, but a true masterpeice.
I don’t really like the “Lord of the Ring” books all that much. One of the main reasons for this is that there are points in the books when it felt like it’s trying to be a fairy tale adventure for kids (the Tom Bombadil part especially), and then the next moment, it gets all serious again, trying to be an adult’s fantasy novel. As a result I was confused over what frame of mind I should be reading it in.
Unfortunately, “Now and Then, Here and There” suffers from the same problem. My initial impression was that it’s meant to be an anime aimed for younger viewers, due to the simplistic character design style which gave it an almost Studio Ghibli kind of look. In episode 2 or 3 the anime starts showing its true colours, portraying the kind of disturbing violence and cruelty that makes it obvious that it isn’t meant for kids. And yet, and yet… the kid’s style animation is still there, glaring out at me from my screen, sending contradicting signals into my brain and confusing the hell out of me. The early sudden change of settings in the opening episode definitely didn’t help me get to grips with this anime either.
“Now and Then, Here and There” seems to be made with a specific purpose in mind, with a specific set of morals they wanted to tell through the anime, and it does succeed at times through some really hard hitting moments that may have caused many other viewers to forget its flaws. However, I found myself unable to look past its flaws and enjoy the show – its attempt to get its message across is just too amateurish because its story and characters often don’t hold water.
The primary example here is King Hamdo. No doubt other viewers have already pointed out that history has shown how such an insane dictator can exist, and most likely pointed to dictators such as Hitler as evidence. But, in reality, there are always complications that give rise to such situations whilst in contrast, “Now and Then, Here and There” gives you a retarded version that just shouts at you: “the leader is mad… just like it can be in real life!!” You can only get away with this kind of simplification of “Mad King ruler” if you’re spoonfeeding a fairy tale to children, for whom the content of this anime obviously isn’t suitable for. I haven’t studied other dictators in history lessons, but I can tell you a thing or two about Hitler that I learnt back in school all those many years ago (bear in mind that even this is a watered down version for kids, and the reality would have been even more complicated). Yes, Hitler may have been crazy, but there was far more to him than that. He had amazing leadership ability, and was one of the finest orators of the 20th century. He wove a magic spell over the German population, raising morale, restoring German pride and giving them new hope when the nation was suffering in the wake of an economic collapse in combination to the backlash of losing World War I. And what’s more, he delivered. Germany was on its knees when he came to power, and not only did he led them to recovery, he led them back up pecking order into a position to challenge the most powerful nations in the world at the time. Although in retrospect, it seems unthinkable someone like him could have got hold of power, when you take a closer look at the details, it does make you see how it could have happened.
Now lets take a look at King Hamdo. He’s obviously mad. Um… that’s it. Oh yea and he’s incompetent and is totally devoid of charisma. Wait! Why is he in power again?? Sure his fortress made his army practically invincible, but that isn’t exactly because of his competency. A muppet could sit there and produce much the same result, so what’s stopping people from overthrowing him? It seems infeasible that he could stay in power like that, especially considering that, from the way his subjects seem to feel about him, it doesn’t appear to be the kind of monarchy where people see the King as some kind god’s chosen – it feels closer to a dictatorship that’s evolved from a military organisation. How can someone as useless and mad as King Hamdo keep his grip on his position in this kind of environment when he can’t even keep his hold on his own sanity (or even give the impression that he is anything other than mad)?
Then we have Hamdo’s second in command Abelia, who isn’t really a bad person at all. I can’t understand why she hasn’t taken power over from Hamdo, especially in this military environment that requires discipline and cool headed decision making. As King Hamdo is clearly in no condition to rule, you’d think someone like Abelia would just confine him somewhere, take care of him, and stop him from hurting everyone including himself. But instead she chooses to just stand around taking abuse and having her conscience knocked about on a daily basis. But of course, if she takes a course of action that actually made sense, then there would be no half-built platform for the anime to launch its intended messages from etc -_- I waited and waited to see why Abelia was so obedient to Hamdo, but still couldn’t find the answer by the end, and can only conclude that it hasn’t been thought through properly.
Instead of showing some of the realistic dilemmas of war like, say, “Gundam Seed”, “Now and Then, Here and There” opts to go for the simplified, one sided “fighting is bad, full stop” version, and ends up tripping over it’s own messages. By painting in such a saintly light one of the characters Sis who, without providing an alternative solution, is against any sort of action against Hamdo, and also painting all those who wants to take action against Hamdo as being hot headed youths, the anime is clearly endorsing her pacifist view. But at the same time, it unwittingly showed the fact that doing nothing is probably is why things have become so bad in the first place. Hamdo’s own sustained grip on power is due to the unwillingness of his subordinates to overthrow him. How many lives are lost because of this kind passiveness? I’m not annoyed about which particular side of the argument that “Now and Then, Here and There” has chosen, but I’m annoyed that it has chosen to present it in such a black and white, overly simplified manner, and I’m also annoyed that it doesn’t make a particularly good argument for its case – it’s a bit someone like preaching against violence of any kind, including fighting back, while a crazy guy is running around unrestrained in the background mowing people down with a chainsaw.
Unlike “Lord of the Rings”, the fantasy world in “Now and Then, Here and There” is severely lacking in details. We are thrown straight into this chaotic world, and at no point in the anime do we get to hear an explanation for how it got into this mess. I want to know how it happened, and I want to know about all the strange technology this world possesses. Why are they so desperately short of water when they have all this technology to go to other worlds? Can’t they just appear near a massive lake in one of these other worlds and collect water?! You can argue that this isn’t the point of the anime, but because of the omission of such information, it’s not really easy to get a good grasp of the situation or to sympathise with the unwillingness of the characters to do the right thing. For example, if more background information is provided, then I *may* be able to understand why King Hamdo holds so much power over his subjects, for example. Throughout the series, I couldn’t help but constantly questioning many aspects of “Now and Then, Here and There”, and when this happen it’s almost impossible to really enjoy the show.
“Now and Then, Here and There” is by no means a bad anime, though. At the end of the day, King Hamdo doesn’t get that much screen time – he’s just someone who annoyed me immensely with his mere existence. The main character also quite annoying with his incredulously happy-go-lucky attitude – is he from some alien race that are incapable of feeling pessimistic or something? But those aside, there are some fairly interesting characters that I would have liked to have seen more of, but their potential are not fully explored for the most part. Some of the emotions generated by the series feel very real and touching (something that’s well reflected in the slow, contemplative ending theme), and the portrayal of issues such as rape is very gritty – much more convincing than some shallow attempts made by other shows such as “Elfen Lied”. But at the end of the day, its childishly simplistic view of dark, complex issues just doesn’t work. It’s a bit like reading a twisted version of a fairy tale like Snow White where an extra bit of storyline got inserted, in which she gets raped by one of the seven dwarves or something, and has to deal with the mental trauma that results from it – it’s just feels all wrong and out of place! I guess you could say that “Now and then, here and there” does kind of live up to its title though – it doesn’t seem to quite know what it’s doing, so ends up being a bit here and a bit there, and ultimately neither completely here nor there. I was really expecting something so critically acclaimed to be better constructed!
2: 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!
1: Cowboy Bebop
English: Cowboy Bebop
MAL Score: 8.77
In the year 2071, humanity has colonized several of the planets and moons of the solar system leaving the now uninhabitable surface of planet Earth behind. The Inter Solar System Police attempts to keep peace in the galaxy, aided in part by outlaw bounty hunters, referred to as “Cowboys.” The ragtag team aboard the spaceship Bebop are two such individuals.
Mellow and carefree Spike Spiegel is balanced by his boisterous, pragmatic partner Jet Black as the pair makes a living chasing bounties and collecting rewards. Thrown off course by the addition of new members that they meet in their travels—Ein, a genetically engineered, highly intelligent Welsh Corgi; femme fatale Faye Valentine, an enigmatic trickster with memory loss; and the strange computer whiz kid Edward Wong—the crew embarks on thrilling adventures that unravel each member’s dark and mysterious past little by little.
Well-balanced with high density action and light-hearted comedy, Cowboy Bebop is a space Western classic and an homage to the smooth and improvised music it is named after.
The story is set in a space western setting – a genre and setting I’m loving more and more for each show I watch that falls under the genre. We follow two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet, who own a ship called the Bebop. They travel the Solar system, chasing wanted criminals to earn money. Along the way, they also pick up two women; the debt-laden Faye Valentine and the playful kid and computer genius Edward (yes, Ed’s a girl).
Each episode brings about a new bounty which they chase after, and while that doesn’t sound too exciting to watch 26 episodes in a row, you’ll end up loving the show. All the different events makes for a certain degree of unpredictability, and you’ll sometimes wonder how things will end. However, that alone is not enough to give the story the rating I’ve given it. So why have I given that rating? Let’s continue…
One of the things that elevate the show a bit above the rest is the manner in which the main cast’s pasts are explored. It’s not like one flashback episode and you understand everything about how they are today. In one episode you might get one piece, and then the next one in another episode, and it’s not until the final three episodes of the show that everything falls in place. This way of executing it makes you want to watch another episode, so that you can find out more about the characters (some may say that this falls in under "Character", but the manner in which the pasts are explored are more "Story" than "Character", IMO). Now, that’s so far a 9 for the story. Why did it deserve a 10?
The answer is easy: the way they executed many scenes in the show. The contrasts which you get to see between, music, the setting of scenes and what’s really happening just gives the story that extra edge deserving of a perfect score.
The characters are all really good and interesting fellows. Though they every now and then reminded me of characters from other shows, they preserved that originality which gave a feel that they were, if not completely, then at least a little bit more real than most characters out there. The way their pasts intertwine with the future and how everything ends with them confronting and settling open ends from their pasts is also something that’s impressive to watch. I don’t really have anything more to say than "perfect".
The animation is, for a 90s anime, stunningly good. The detail put into backgrounds and surroundings is really good, and I also love how good lighting effects and shading are at times. All of Ed’s strange movements are animated really nicely too. If there’s something negative, it’s the somewhat dull coloring (compared to today’s standards), as well as poor effects when traveling in hyperspace.
The soundtrack is also astounding! The music used for the show is so incredibly varied, and while keeping mostly to the more jazzy tunes, the soundtrack visits so many genres that it’s hard to not like at least a few pieces. What I also loved is the way the music was used not only as a medium to go with and amplify the mood, but also as a contrast to what’s happening in several scenes. All in all, it’s really amazing. Don’t have anything to say against voice acting and other sound effects either.
All in all Cowboy Bebop is an anime that’s in the top tier on the greatness scale, and a show I believe every anime fan should give a try.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Cowboy bebop borrows much from western media and pop culture in general. his show pays homage to or references, subtly and overtly, things as disparate as Antonio Banderas, Bruce Lee, John Woo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Convoy, Biggie Smalls, Donald Duck, various mythologies and folktales, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bill Evans, Stray Cats, Alien, blaxploitation films, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Queen, George Clooney, Led Zeppelin, Django and other spaghetti westerns, Herbie Hancock, American and Japanese professional baseball, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Jean-Luc Godard, Batman, B.B. King, Beverly Hills 90210, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, The Unabomber, Heaven’s Gate and Marshall Applewhite, Kiss, film noir, The Beatles, Sleeping Beauty, Bonny & Clyde, Ziggy Stardust, Charlie Parker, Woody Allen, Star Trek, Cool Hand Luke, and Taxi Driver. I kid you not. And that’s not a complete list. References in character design and dialogue are forgivable, but when it straight up copies scenes and plots then I think it can be held against the show. I feel like I’ve seen Cowboy Bebop before, it’s just been packed into a pretty package. I enjoyed a lot of these homages, but that does not excuse the marked lack of creativity. The mere evocation of a masterpiece does not make a masterpiece. Quentin Tarantino is an example of someone who uses pastiche and cultural references well, and most importantly, his references and homages don’t make up his entire videography. There is far too little originality in Cowboy Bebop.
The fact is that Cowboy Bebop is the epitome of style over substance. I can appreciate it for its audiovisuals, but, to me, a show needs more than that to be a true masterpiece. Make no mistake though, it does have some of the best audiovisuals I’ve ever seen, and could arguably be considered a must-watch for that alone. The OST is good (despite also being a tad overrated,) the art is great, and the animation is extremely fluid. It should also be noted that Cowboy Bebop is one of the few anime that holds the distinction of having an English dub superior to the original Japanese. The atmosphere that the audiovisuals achieve is their greatest quality, and is distinct in almost every different setting. This is not done well in most space travel anime, and I have to applaud Cowboy Bebop for that achievement at least.
The main storyline consists of about 5 episodes, the rest of them being episodic individual stories. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the episodic stories were hit or miss, and they never measured up to the main plot. Some of the non-main episodes focus on a character and their past, and this is good, but most of them are completely pointless and could be removed without anybody noticing. One of them was about fighting an alien-fungus-fridge-monster, it was an interesting and silly parody of Alien, but it contributed nothing to plot or character development. Considering how character driven this show is, that’s a problem. There was also an entire episode paying homage to blaxploitation. Seeing as the allusion was presented in a more original way, and the episode showed a lot about Ed’s character, that one was not only forgivable, but it was one of my favorite episodes. Like I said, hit or miss. There is an episode about catching a super-dog. There is an episode about a virus that turns people into monkeys. There is an episode where they chase a bomber (Woody Allen) with some help from a transsexual looking trucker. At least 4 episodes were easily 10s, but more of them were closer to 5s. The first 4 episodes were particularly weak, which is a huge problem in a 2 cour anime. The anime may have had a good conclusion, but the sub-par exposition cannot be ignored.
The main crew was made up of interesting and entertaining characters, and they prevented the episodic nature of the show from being a complete flop, although there were some unanswered questions about Faye’s past in particular. Actually, strangely enough, the unanswered questions contributed to the splendid atmosphere. Everything had a rich backstory, but few flashbacks and no infodumps. This helped give the show its characteristic nostalgic atmosphere. One complaint I would have is that the main antagonist is simply not compelling, his motivations are somewhat unclear, and he’s just one dimensional. He also uses a katana, even though it’s the future, and somehow still manages to kick ass. He’s just very cliché and lame. The antagonist in the movie was very well done with his depth, motives, and parallels to Spike, and that makes me wish Vicious got the same treatment, as it would fit his character far better, and his character is far more important.
One thing you should understand is that the characters are often good examples of clichés done well. Jet, for instance, is the typical hard-boiled former cop, but he is also the most empathetic of the crew. He is a foil to Spike and is hard working, but they also parallel in many ways. Ed is the teen genius/tomboy and hacker with little depth, but she also serves as a foil to Spike and many of his views on life. Faye is like a mix of all of the other characters’ worst traits in terms of personality, but she still manages to be a sympathetic character. In fact, even though she keeps up her unpleasant exterior and despite her being the anime’s main source of fanservice, she arguably experiences more development than any other character. Still, they lack any sort of real innovation, in anime or otherwise.
Despite all my criticisms, Cowboy Bebop is cool. It’s very cool. The characters and aesthetics were compelling (for the most part) to the point where I even enjoyed some of the admittedly weaker episodes. I can’t give it a 10, it’s simply not a masterpiece. I can’t give it a 9, it’s not truly great. I can’t give it an 8, it’s too flawed and unoriginal. I don’t want to give it a 7, it was just too inconsistent. I have to settle on a 6.7 or so, which could be rounded either way. That said, an average of my story, art, sound, and character scores did give me around a 7.2.
Cowboy Bebop is enjoyable and it has wide appeal; I would probably recommend it to just about anybody. It was up and down in terms of quality, and it was similar to a slice-of-life in its episodic and relaxed nature and its lack of an explosive climax, but it was good. I liked how the anime takes place after the “important part” of the main characters’ lives is over, and nostalgia becomes a huge theme, seeing as it was the first anime I ever watched and it thus evokes a huge sense of nostalgia for me anyway. I loved the laid back atmosphere. The problem is that after looking through all of the episodes and rating them individually, I realized that the majority of it was nothing special. With a little restraint and reworking, Cowboy Bebop could have been the masterpiece that it is widely regarded as, and it does hold a special place in my heart regardless, even if that is only due to it being my first anime. That bias is probably why I choose to round the score to 7, rather than to 6, despite the fact that the latter is typically the better practice.
I am always willing to defend and justify my scores so leave me a comment if you disagree, and tell me why I’m wrong. I say that because this does seem to be a pretty uncommon score, even among those whose opinions I have great respect for. Keep in mind that a 7 is a generous and good score in any case.
“Fuck you! Cowboy Bebop is a classic! You’re not allowed to criticize it!”
The more astute viewers will note that I scored the series a 6, but the movie a 9. I kind of like Cowboy Bebop. It does do some things very right. It had the potential to be one of the greatest franchises ever. Alas, while its production values are unmatched, the writing . . . doesn’t always match up with the production. Because of this, the series ended up being a style-over-substance experience for me, but why was that?
The premise of CB is that in the late 21st century, mankind has started living in places in the solar system besides Earth. In this future are bounty hunters known as Cowboys. Cowboys do whatever they can to make cash to keep the food stockpile stocked and their spaceships running. The show follows one such group of Cowboys who pilot a ship called the Bebop. In the beginning, we meet Spike Spiegel, a former gangster, and Jet Black, a former cop. As the series progresses, the Bebop also has Ein, a super smart dog, Faye Valentine, a woman on the run, and Edward, a really, really, REALLY weird hacker girl. Cowboy Bebop has been described as a series that has a continuous plot, and has standalone episodes at the same time. Having seen the series, I can tell you that technically, most of the episodes aren’t standalone, but many of them are only connected by the core characters.
Here’s where one of my problems lie. When Cowboy Bebop is good, it’s really good. The setting is very mature; it never condescends to the audience. The action scenes are superbly well done, the dialog is believable (though cheesy at times), and the atmosphere really pulls you in. How many episodes are actually really good? Seven. If you count the movie as an episode, that brings it up to eight. Eight out of twenty-seven episodes were good. The rest were not.
The problem with most of the episodes is one of two things: one, it’s really boring, or, two, it’s so clichéd, you will be able to predict exactly what happens by the end after the first two minutes, or both. I have to be honest, a lot of the episodes of CB are just plain boring. If this wasn’t a “classic” and a more ordinary anime series, a lot of them would be branded as what they truly are; filler episodes. And if it’s not boring filler, it’s hackneyed.
Watanabe is known for being a huge fan of American cinema, and that’s obvious in CB. Unfortunately, he ripped off a lot of American movies virtually piecemeal. Now, you may not suspect it, but I am more knowledgeable of American cinema than I am Japanese animation. To describe it as best I can without spoiling, if you have seen at least one movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, John Woo, and Michael Mann, then you have already seen Cowboy Bebop in another format. This is actually a clever trick though; most anime fans reject Western pop culture, and may not notice this when watching CB, so they’ll think it’s “fresh” and “original”, when it’s fact, it’s actually MORE clichéd then most anime. But hey, when CB is exciting and isn’t (too) blatantly ripping off Hollywood, it’s worth watching.
At least, when the worthwhile characters are onscreen. I like the main character Spike a lot. He is the embodiment of cool, like a 21st century version of Steve McQueen. He’s cool, but he’s very human too. He’s reckless, he makes mistakes, but he knows how to charm people, and he also knows how to beat his targets. I also like Jet. He’s a constant worrywart, which is a funny contrast to his rough appearance. Some of the incidental characters are memorable too, (but usually only in the good episodes and movie). Something else I liked was the Bebop crew was not always a stable group, or nakama you could say. In most anime, when the heroes band together, nothing ever separates them. That doesn’t happen in CB. Sometimes, the crew gets in arguments, and sometimes, one of them will leave the Bebop for a time, and so on. It’s a touch of realism I appreciate.
However, some of the characters didn’t click with me. I never really cared for Faye. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t really care for her either. Edward is amusing, but she feels out of place in a series like this. The incidental characters in the less memorable episodes are just that, unmemorable. However, what I’m about to print in the next paragraph will anger thousands, possibly millions. (And maybe make hundreds say “Right on!”) Mind you, it’s just my opinion. Everything I print in these reviews is just my opinion; you don’t have to take it personally, but the following opinion of mine needs to be said:
Vicious is one of the lamest villains ever.
The main antagonist is a man known as Vicious, someone who’s still a part of the gang Spike came from. He’s cunning, ruthless . . . and is absolutely lame. What’s his motive? Does he just want power, or to mess with people? Even if so, why is he so boring to watch? The villain from the movie was a lot more interesting. Overall, you got two really good protagonists, some interesting chemistry between the protagonists, one-shot characters who are either interesting or not, and a forgettable antagonist. Yay.
And I haven’t even touched upon the ending yet! Short version, I don’t like CB’s ending. (More flames incoming! Duck and cover!) Now, the ending is not quite as bad as the ending for, say, Akira, or the anime version of Chobits. It does have a sense of finality to it, something most anime endings don’t have. However, I did not find it “legendary.” I found it disappointing. First of all, the ending is extremely predictable. It’s virtually telegraphed to you before it even happens. Not only that, when I saw it, my reaction was, ” . . . that’s it? Seriously, that’s IT?”
But I better move on to CB’s technical aspects before I get too letdown. Its artistry leaves no complaints. CB is probably the best-looking pre-digital anime I’ve ever seen. Even if you were to remake the series with digital enhancements, I doubt you could make it look better than it already is. Sumptuous backgrounds, top-notch character art, animation that ranges from above-average to really good, no off-model shots, this is a visual feast. The movie looks even better. It’s obvious a lot of care was put into the visuals of CB. My only being the primitive CGI, but you get used to it.
And now we touch upon CB’s greatest aspect; its soundtrack. It’s the sort of the soundtrack that makes you go, “Ah yeah, baby!” This is why you watch CB, the music. The music is the magnum opus of Yoko Kanno. A combination of jazz, blues, and rock, but it isn’t just any old jazz, blues, and rock, it’s GOOD jazz, blues, and rock. Everything from the opening, to the incidental music, to the endings, you get music that will set your soul on fire. The only anime I’ve seen whose soundtrack could rival CB’s is Death Note’s. Something I noticed about CB’s soundtrack is the music sounds more like music from albums rather than typical soundtrack music. Another smart move; most people are accustomed to listening to music from CD and MP3 albums as opposed to soundtracks, so when they hear CB’s music, it’ll be more familiar-sounding than most other anime soundtracks. Regardless, even if you hate CB, you gotta score this music.
CB is also famous for having what is perhaps the oldest English dub for an anime series that is considered god-like. I saw this on Adult Swim, and I can safely say, this is another masterpiece from Bandai and Bang Zoom. Every character sounds like how you would imagine them to, and the voices are neither wooden nor over-acted. All the different accents the characters have sound really cool too. I did sample the Japanese dub on the movie, and I will say, Spike and Jet sound really good in both Japanese and English, but I will never get used to Faye’s Japanese voice. Yeah, this is one you gotta see in English. (Though in retrospect, the Japanese performances aren’t bad, it just doesn’t click like the English dub)
While CB is still often regarded as a classic, I’m not the first to criticize it like so. There has been some backlash against CB in recent years. Some people complain it’s not “Japanese-y” enough, that it’s too Western. I mentioned that earlier, but there is another anime I’ve seen, Baccano, which is also very similar to American movies, but it was consistently entertaining, and not as predictable as CB, so I did not mind. Others have mentioned the same things I have, that it’s boring, the plot isn’t strong enough, it’s style over substance. This isn’t a disaster by any means, but I do have to say that, outside of the production values, CB is one of the most overrated anime I’ve seen. It’s not one of the worst, certainly not, but it’s not quite the experience I was promised either. To put it in other words, there were some episodes that I would score a 4 out of 10. And yet, there are some episodes, including the movie, that I would score a 9 out of 10. The 6 overall is just from mixing the good episodes with the bad.
I like to imagine that in an alternate dimension, CB was an OVA series instead of a tv series. All the episodes I do like, (# 2, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, and 22) were released on separate OVAs, as well as a few others to bridge the plot gaps. Then a theatrical came out (Knocking on Heaven’s Door), and then another to end it all (The Real Folk Blues, albeit with a revised conclusion), and it would be grandiose. Alas, I don’t live in that universe. Hey, Shinichiro Watanabe likes drawing influence from Hollywood, right? What’s something it’s doing a lot of right now? Continuity reboots? He could still do that. I can dream, can’t I?
EDIT: This review was revised on 9/17/2015 to be less awkward to read.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Cowboy Bebop
2. Turn A Gundam
3. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
4. The Big O
5. Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel Saga
6. Mugen no Ryvius
8. Saber Marionette J to X
10. Shin Hakkenden