They’re the best Anime that 2000 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Gear Fighter Dendoh, Vandread, Brigadoon: Marin to Melan, and more!
10: Gear Fighter Dendoh
Japanese: GEAR戦士 電童
MAL Score: 7.18
The story takes place in the future where war machines from evil mechanical alien empire Garufa finally reaches Earth. In order to protect earth, an Earth defense organization called GEAR (Guard Earth and Advanced Reconnaissance) is formed. GEAR has an ultimate weapon in a form of war mecha, GEAR Fighter Dendoh, which is piloted by two elementary school students, namely Kusanagi Hokuto and Izumo Ginga. Can the friendship between Hokuto and Ginga unleashed the full potential power of Dendoh in order to fight Garufa?
Overall, it may be slightly repetitious and a classical shounen mecha, its music not outstanding, but passable, yet it can be charming and at times moving. There is some character development, but also ‘technicians’ with not much of a backstory…
Ultimately, it does have a potentially interesting storyline.
MAL Score: 7.19
In Vandread, men are from Mars and women are from Venus! Well, not quite. Technology has allowed mankind to colonize the entire Milky Way galaxy, and in one star system, the men and women live on two different planets, Taraak and Mejere. A bitter and very literal gender war rages, to the point where they don’t even see each other as the sames species anymore!
Hibiki Tokai, a male third-class laborer from Taraak, ends up stuck on a battleship after a botched attempt at stealing a robot. When female pirates capture the Taraakian Vanguard, things don’t look like they could get any worse for Hibiki. Unfortunately, they do; when the male crew of the Vanguard fire on their captured vessel out of desperation, they created a giant wormhole, which sucks the Vanguard and the Mejeran pirate’s ships into itself! Now, stuck far away from their home planets, these men and women must learn to work together if they ever wish to make it back home.
Now that I mentioned battles, I’m really not good when it comes to mecha battles. Intergalactic wars tend to either confuse or bore me, but because of the CG I was a bit captivated. The battle scenes did look a bit busy, I wasn’t sure on what was happening all the time. The technical dialogue kind of made it worse, but compared to other mecha series I’ve watched, Vandread wasn’t so bad. I did watch it more than twice.
One of the reasons why I like Vandread is the cast of characters. I was impressed that everyone was able to get a good amount of screen time, even for the supporting characters such as Ezra and Paiway. That’s always difficult to accomplish, especially for an anime with so many characters. Also, Hibiki and Dita probably makes up one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever seen in anime. I think it’s because of their innocence.
Like I said, the CG was quite good. It blended with the hand drawn scenes very well and it wasn’t overwhelming. The color coordination was really good too – there was a myriad of colors that made the visuals of Vandread even more stunning. I have to note that the drawing styles would waver a bit, like for example, the characters’ designs have noticeably changed from the first episode to the second episode. At the middle of the series, I have noticed that the art became more consistent though.
The voice acting was actually good, but I prefer it if Tomokazu Seki was Hibiki instead of Bart. I’m not saying Hiroyuki Yoshino did a terrible job of playing Hibiki, but Tomokazu Seki is one of my favorite seiyuus. I also noticed that a lot of the major voice actors in Vandread also worked on Eureka 7 – another mecha anime I like.
The music was very poppy and upbeat, and it fit the theme of Vandread really well. Both tracks are very contemporary and they both show different aspects of the anime. I like the opening “trust” by Salia as well as “Himegoto” by SiLC. The BGM was equally impressive – I always like it when there are plenty of BGM tracks so that the mood and feel of a certain scene are heightened and conveyed at its best.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not really a huge mecha fan. Vandread, however, is different because it’s got a lot to offer. Whether you’re into comedic anime, a mecha addict, a harem anime enthusiast, or just an ecchi fan, Vandread’s for you.
I think the least an anime series should do is have some reason for existing. Vandread doesn’t. It doesn’t try to be an intelligent sci-fi series; it doesn’t try to be a heartwarming, iyashikei slice-of-life one; it’s even too weak to be considered a harem romance anime. All you get with Vandread is episode after episode of pointlessness.
(And if you’re wondering, I only watched it because it was being screened at an anime society. Oh, hours of my life that I’ll never get back.)
The men-are-from-Mars-women-are-from-Venus premise, while cheesy, could have gone somewhere. In theory. In practice it was an excuse to have a harem-style setup in space.
There are unexciting space battles which exist so viewers can giggle about the innuendo involved in combining mechs. There are episodes of ~wacky hijinks~ that just turn out tedious.
The art in Vandread, while not hideous, does suffer from character design inconsistency and an obviously low budget – in some cases it’s so bad that attempts at fanservice fall pathetically flat.
The use of CGI is also jarring, but I’ll be kind and chalk that up to the year of production.
I don’t remember anything about the use of sound, but since this was a series without much tension or drama, that seems fair enough. It had pretty good opening and ending songs, though. The voice-acting was serviceable, but again, this is not the type of series which requires the expression of deep emotions.
What character? I think that one of the characters (the Ayanami Rei stock type) got a character development arc, and even that was woefully predictable. The rest of the characters were basically stock types (bubbly airheaded girl, comic relief dude) without believable motivations (if any).
Tedious, mind-numbingly stupid, and not even visually engaging enough to make up for that. If you’re watching this for the fanservice (and come on, why else would you waste your time on this), then maybe you’d enjoy it more.
I heard that the Vandread: The Second Stage season is much better, in that it actually has some character development and perhaps a plot. It’s just a pity the first season had to exist.
With that set in, the character interactions are amazing and comical. The show is more comical than serious, but it definitely has its moments of seriousness. The animation is done amazingly well with a mix of drawn anime and CGI space battles. Normally when the two mix it turns out pretty bad (Divergence Eve) but Gonzo managed to pull it off.
The story is nothing to intricate but as it progresses, its gets deeper and deeper which brings a lot more action and battles into play. The character development is pretty good as well, no empty characters are really present (with exception of the third tier people you see occasionally)
Some plot holes are presented but if you watch the entire show (by that i mean season two) then everything will be answered and there are some pretty good twists in it to make it extra enjoyable. I have seen both the english and japanese versions and i have to say the dub actually isn’t bad, but i would go with the japanese.
I would say this is one of my top rated shows, definitely worth watching.
Oh and something worth mentioning is the awesome soundtrack, keep the volume up during battles, the music rocks.
8: Brigadoon: Marin to Melan
Japanese: ブリガドーン まりんとメラン
MAL Score: 7.25
Marin is a typical junior high school girl with a sunny disposition and a loving adoptive family. Her life takes a drastic change when a mysterious mirage is seen in the sky above the entire earth. Killer androids called Monomakia descend to earth from the formation in the sky called Brigadoon and begin to hunt down little Marin. She discovers a blue bottle in a shrine as she seeks escape and from the bottle comes a protector, a sword carrying gun slinging alien called Melan Blue, together they must save the earth and deal with family crisis, school prejudice and the police and come to an understanding of Marins past and Melans unexplained mission, as well as learn to trust each other. Set in 1969 Japan with a colorful cast of friends and enemies.
Brigadoon, I am happy to report, does not suffer the cliches usually associated with certain anime categories or genres. It simply doesn’t belong to any. In fact, It will quietly defy all attempts at categorization and will summarily step on your face if you attempt it.
Brigadoon Marin to Melan’s story revolves around Marin Asagi and a giant humanoid monomakia, Melan Blue. Combining fantasy, sci-fi, action, comedy and drama, it’s a happy mix of everything every anime genre has to offer, all packed into 26 episodes.
First and foremost, Brigadoon’s story is not something you can appreciate by watching the first 5 or 10 episodes and then jumping to the last episode. Despite all the action and the blood and the killing, Brigadoon is, deep down, a love story, brilliant and intricately built over a span of 26 episodes. Marin and Melan’s kiss on episode 26 requires the past 25 episodes to explain; save my keyboard the trouble and just watch all of it.
Second, Brigadoon is not for the faint of heart. Most people will be uncomfortable with a romantic pairing between a 13-year old heroine and a much older-looking hero, and may decide not to even give the series a chance. This is a sad mistake. The most intimate thing that ever happened between Marin and Melan in the entire series was a goddamn kiss, and half the time Melan didn’t know what a kiss was to begin with. It DOES have fanservice, but the pantyshots were far in-between and mostly for humor. It shouldn’t be a hindrance from enjoying an otherwise brilliant series.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the review:
STORY: 8/10. Brigadoon’s first few episodes makes it look like your run-of-the-mill, monster-of-the-day anime. Thankfully, it changes its mind and the pace picks up after three episodes. When it finally does, Marin’s brattiness stops and Melan’s slam-bang kick-assery begins.
Melan’s “duty” is heavily fueled by events from Brigadoon’s past, but the series manages to avoid too much flashbacks by letting Lolo narrate Brigadoon’s backstory little by little. However, there are still some confusing points in the series and even as a fan, I found it hard to follow especially at the last few episodes. A more prominent flaw, however, is the deus ex machina ending. I hate this. It’s very abrupt, a little too convenient, and leaves so many unanswered questions that I can’t help but wonder if the makers originally had a sequel in mind. Explaining the motives of the Hensu-chi alone should take more episodes, considering that this is not the first time Brigadoon and earth almost ended because of the Hensu-chi.
ART: 7/10. The fighting sequels were superb. The action shots are tense and speedy, with no repeated cells to make a one-minute fight last five minutes. The character designs for the monomakias were excellent, notably Melan’s and Kushatohn’s. However, I’ve noticed that most people dislike Marin’s character design; She’s supposed to be 13 but she looks everything under 9. And her feet. I’m pretty sure something’s wrong with them…
Anyway, that doesn’t bother me. What DOES bother me is how the animation tended to screw up at the worst possible moments. There were a few bad sequences in the Submaton Color episode [which was the best in the series], and it irritates me to no end that Melan’s first smile in the entire series was drawn by a retard. I actually have to cover half of the freaking monitor with my hands to make Melan look normal! [Thankfully, Melan smiles radiantly in another scene in the same episode.]
SOUND: 9/10. I found Brigadoon’s soundtrack haunting and enjoyable, but I’d admit it’s not for everyone. Most tracks were Celtic-themed acapella singing, balanced by bouncy instrumental tracks and a fun closing theme. The acapella rendition of the opening song, “Kaze no Ao, Umi no Midori” is powerful and heart-wrenching. This provides strong contrast to the catchy ending theme, “Nijiiro no Takaramono”, sung by the actress who voices Marin herself.
ENGLISH DUBBING: 0/10. Just think of the English dub as parody dub, then forget it exists and watch the subbed version instead. The English dub made several changes in the character’s lines, [e.g. Marin never says “Ahaaa~” in the English dub, even though it’s her trademark expression in the series] and altered some scenes altogether [Melan and Marin’s kiss in Episode 15 seemed to have NEVER happened in the English dub.]
And Marin. Ahh, let me see… it sounds like a fully grown woman trying to sound like a cute 13-year-old, the kind of voice you hear when you dream of little girls asking if you want to play, and when you turn around you see them holding knives dripping with blood, and when they raise it in the air you wake up in the middle of the night screaming. I hate it with all my heart.
Tony Oliver’s voice is decent enough, but for a killing machine like Melan its too soft and low, like a whisper that’s JUST barely audible. Somewhat like a commentator for a golf show. I don’t know, but when Melan gets into a huge catfight involving guns and swords and his voice suddenly reminds me of golf, it kinda ruins the moment.
But more importantly, it’s not worth missing out on Melan’s Japanese voice. It’s emotionless and solid, with a metallic twinge that fits his alien character unquestionably. It constantly reminds you that Melan is a huge bulk of steel and alien flesh you shouldn’t mess with. Unless he’s talking to Marin, he’s ALWAYS unimpressed.I… it’s just… perfect. I want to go on, but I can’t think of any other words to describe it.
CHARACTER: 9/10. Though it has more than a dozen characters and only 26 episodes, Brigadoon manages to provide enough ‘camera time’ for most of them. Not enough time for character development per se, but enough for the viewer to grow familiar with and develop empathy towards them. There’s Uncle Onando, who never says anything and just keeps throwing peace signs whenever he’s onscreen. But I like him, and I don’t know why.
ENJOYMENT: 10/10. I’ve watched the series over three times already, and although I am aware of the series’ flaws, it has not stopped me from enjoying it. It’s a pretty obscure anime and it’s a pity people have not enjoyed it simply because they don’t know the series exists. Highly recommended.
First of all, it has the human weapon as male (a rather good looking one at that) rather than female as seems to be the standard in anime, seemingly push this from an ecchi shounen aspect to a more shoujo one. Most series if they want to reverse it, either make the human weapon as some ugly robot, as some monster hybrid or some female cute monster. That’s what attracted me to this series in the first place. I was wondering where they would go with this.
After getting hooked to Melan and wanting to see more of him, it’s then that the story hits. It really doesn’t pigeonhole itself into the “Proxy battle”, “Mecha” affair that it seems like it’s going to shove itself into. The mystery deepens when we find out that Melan is protecting Marin for a reason. You want to find out why. Toss in a magical transformation device and some romance and you really feel for the characters. It’s stops being about a formulaic trope that so many anime base themselves on.
Others have mentioned the ecchi aspect, but really the way it’s done in this series more or lets blends it away. Yes you see Marin’s panties, but she’s underage and they don’t really point to it and say “HEY LOOK!” like every other ecchi and non-ecchi anime does and make it the focus of the anime. You find out that the reason you can see them in the first place, is probably because she’s poor and doesn’t have any money to buy new clothes. Even the scenes of nudity is for a reason and they don’t parade it down the street like it’s the point of the episode. People are simply nude because they have no clothes, or they can’t wear them at the time.
Really over all, the story is VERY original. It doesn’t have an aspect you can plop into a category. Similar to DT Eightron in that respect. The ones who came up with the story actually sat down and probably did some world building versus sit down and go “Yeah let’s make another anime about a harem… with ecchi. Yeah, like those other five hundred out there.” It’s really want I want to start seeing in anime. More original stories that don’t ruin the experience by having ecchi parts all over the place (Umi Neko and a few other mecha shows), toss in a harem aspect for no good reason (yeah, let’s have a bunch of women… for no real reason. If anyone asks… we’ll say it’s SCIENCE!), or simply be on long string of colosseum battles (YuYu Hakusho, Shaman King, Yu-Gi-Oh, Bleach, the list goes on). It even averts the tried and troped “Let’s have a guy… that controls a woman… but she’s really a sword/demon/mecha/killing doll/dingo/familiar!” It really doesn’t want to make me watch another master-slave relationship being played out on TV where the master is male and the slave is female. I see that in real life too much thanks.
There are anime where the master is female of course, but they add so much ecchi to it that is shoves it back into the shounen, ecchi, boin, harem category. This averts it by making the master female and a child and the slave a good looking bio-mecha type where you don’t see the romance coming until the characters start to get closer to each other. It’s played more realistically.
Overall this anime is good, because it doesn’t try to be like every other anime out there. It makes it’s own path in the world and doesn’t rely on tropes and cliche out there to get it done.
The storytelling of present here isn’t something that can be judged based off of the first couple of episodes. While the monster of the week format persists throughout the 1st half, there are other serious elements at play here. What sets Brigadoon’s earlier episodes apart from other proxy battle titles are the actual repercussions that come with a child summoning a monster to combat other monsters. Lives are damaged/destroyed, thus people grow fearful and act on their fear. This is where the more tragic elements come in to play as not only does Marin become a pariah in the eyes of her peers, she is also targeted by the police as well for being at the centre of all the madness she never asked for. This is a series that won’t pull it’s punches and knows how to use shock factor as a means of getting points across.
Once the 2nd half hits, Brigadoon plunges head first into its own strange mythos and slowly reveals elements, those that are both entirely new and those foreshadowed earlier on. The story picks up a greater sense of urgency as well, as its plot-twists suggest that there is more at stake than just the lives of Marin and Melan. Although there are many elements at play within the setting of Brigadoon, some of the more vital ones do not receive much attention and feel pulled out of thin air with last minute explanations during the last episode. Another somewhat annoying trait this series adopts is use of cliffhangers sometimes. Very rarely will there be a cliffhanger that isn’t resolved via disappointingly simple means. It’s these somewhat cheap tricks that put a damper on what is otherwise a rewarding experience.
The true heart of Brigadoon lies in the intriguingly handled relationship between Marin and her alien guardian Melan. It develops from protector/protected, to father/daughter, and finally to the kind of relationship that should by all accounts feel wrong. The progression of their love feels gradual and given their extreme reliance on each other, the destination feels justified. The actual ending as a result gave me what as the “feels” even though the path to that ending came about could have gone smoother, as I’ve already mentioned. The wrapping up of their character arcs as a result feels cathartic enough to bring one to tears. Helping Marin get through her hardships is her makeshift extended family. Their personalities often rely on one-note gags, but the levity they offer is welcome in the face of the looming despair hanging over the story.
Brigadoon’s aesthetic, while dated visually, evokes a feeling of uniqueness not unlike the story itself. Although the visuals are by no means amazing, the overall cartoony style gives the show its own look. The series is set in 1969 and it certainly shows since special attention is given to make the locations give off that kind of vibe. Though the fight scenes are fluid enough, still, the OST is much more remarkable. “Kaze no Ao, Umi no Midori” by Ikuko is a damn good opener with an appropriately sorrowful feel to it. The rest of the track is diverse enough to accommodate for the range of tones that series employs. My only gripe lies with the ending theme, which on its own is pretty decent, cutesy stuff. However when an episode ends with a serious cliffhanger, it only serves to damage the mood with its cheery tune. It’s better to just not watch it once the second half hits.
It’s to easy see why Brigadoon: Marin and Melan incapable of achieving any more then cult status. I believe that the quirky look may have given off the wrong message to many anime watchers as to what this series is all about. It’s a “something for everyone” sort of show to the point where it ends up being an acquired taste, if that makes any sense. Perhaps the best recommendation I can make for this series is that you should watch it if you’re the sort of person who can live with having their emotions jerked about. If so then prepare for a game of Genre Roulette the likes of which you may never see replicated to this success.
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: 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!
3: Daa! Daa! Daa!
Japanese: だぁ! だぁ! だぁ!
MAL Score: 7.64
Miyu is an 8th grade girl, whose parents have been hired by NASA. They take off to America leaving Miyu with Mr. Saionji. Later, Mr. Saionji decides to go on a 1 year long trip to India leaving Miyu alone with his son, Kanata. More complications rise when an Alien baby and his babysitter pet crashes/lands in their house. To make things worse, alien baby starts calling Miyu and Kanata Mom and Dad, also showing ESP power and floating around.
Story & Characters: As strange and uninteresting as I thought this would turn out, I found it to be sometimes quite captivating and leaving me dying for another episode. Miyu and Kanata are both fairly normal characters, which makes them the perfect backdrop for the chaos which takes over their lives upon the arrival of the two aliens. Wanya provides for a wonderful character foil for both Miyu and Kanata as they scramble about trying to fit Ruu into their lives and properly take care of him. There is a large cast of supporting characters, including Miyu’s two friends, Aya (who is obsessed with writing plays) and Nanami, Kanata’s friend Santa (who at first appeared to be a typical class "weirdo" but proves himself different in that his interests exceed your every day bizarre hobbies (one of which is a strange affinity for faces in wood…) and adds quite a bit of hilarity to some episodes), and Christine (the pink-haired "princess" who goes on a rampage whenever she sees another girl close to her crush, Kanata, resulting in countless instances of hilarious slapstick comedy).
The relationship that develops between Kanata and Miyu was refreshing to watch, as instead of developing with feelings of tension like relationships in other shoujo anime, their immature bickering and joint efforts to take care of Ruu lead to a smooth, gradual development that takes quite some time. They remind me a bit of Ranma and Akane from Ranma 1/2. 🙂
Audio: The openings are bouncy and energetic, as appropriate for this type of anime, and the endings are sweet (but not both are slow) and pleasing to the ears. The background music is simple without becoming plain and repetitive, but complex enough to emphasise and heighten feelings in scenes. The characters’ voice acting was more than acceptable, and I was relieved that Miyu had a softer-voiced seiyuu (voice actor) rather than the usual squeaky, girl voice that seems to be so popular. Ruu’s voice was extremely adorable and fitting, and everyone else’s voices fit their characters well.
Character & Animation: The character designs are mostly loyal to those in the manga, and they actually change into different outfits when at home. I was particularly pleased that this extra detail was added as there are definitely a few anime shows out there where the characters wear the same exact outfit every episode.
The animation was consistent, never choppy, and perfectly acceptable for the type of anime it is. The colours were bright enough to radiate a happy and cheerful feeling without burning anyone’s eyes.
Conclusion: Almost every episode I watched left me feeling refreshed and good inside, even though emotions in episodes varied from being happy to sad to playful or comedic. The series manages to keep you hooked while never laying on too much tension and never leaving you bored. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the anime, and definitely recommend it to those who are looking for a light-hearted comedy that can be both touching and romantic.
Yes, it’s really really old and the art and sound is not even comparable to modern anime. But considering for how it was for it’s time, this deserves a 10. Even so, the story is great. Sure, it’s silly and a lot of scenes are cliches. But the basis of the story plot and the design is very original, and the characters are all wonderful in playing their part. Everyone is very distinctive.
This anime does not follow an intensive story plot which connects episode to episode, so it’s great for rewatching when you want to just pick a little portion out of it. But at the same time, it does have a slow story which progresses.
I would highly recommend this anime if you want to take a break from the modern anime series with intensive plots and much harem. If you don’t… I recommend it anyway because it’s great for laughing and story.
Though it mostly focuses on entertaining kids as a kids show , I’d say it can be enjoyed by everyone tbh if u r looking for a light show without heavy elements in it other than having a good time watching it. Well done by J C Staff.
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: Seikai no Senki
English: Banner of the Stars
MAL Score: 7.70
Three years since the end of their intergalactic excursion, both Lafiel Abriel and Jinto Linn have reunited; Lafiel as the captain of the attack ship Basroil and Jinto as her supply officer. The restart of the war between the Abh Empire and the Triple Alliance thrusts the inexperienced duo into the forefront of the deadly conflict.
As the catastrophic battle between pure humankind and their greatest creation, the Abh, rages on, both sides accept that their conflict is not merely about territory, but about settling the inherent differences between themselves.
Seikai no Senki, or Banner of the Stars, is the 13 episode sequel to Crest of the Stars. It follows the development of the relationship between Lafiel, the Abh princess, and Jinto, son of the administrator of a planet that surrendered and got his family made into Abh nobility.
In Banner of the Stars, Lafiel is now captain of her own Assault ship. Jinto, who promised Lafiel that he would study hard and become a supply officer, has been requisitioned to join Lafiel’s crew aboard the Basroil. He brings with him Diaho, the ginger cat Lafiel bequeathed to him at the end of Crest of the Stars.
Banner of the Stars is about the Abh Empire’s quest to retake territories they lost to The United Mankind. As such, a majority of the story is made up of battle scenes, which are quite well done. The only drawback to the animation is that they re-used those scenes a LOT, similarly with the soundtrack, or I would have rated it a lot higher.
Character development again, is key. You identify with Jinto, and to a lesser extent, Lafiel. There are those characters that you love to hate, and those are well done also. Even Diaho, the cat, is a character in his own right.
The story was a lot better than Crest of the Stars, and overall Banner of the Stars was good, just not as outstanding as some of the other high quality recent releases.
When looking at an anime like Banner of the Stars I, it becomes an interesting task to put one’s own life into perspective. While they are dealing with space, war, and strategies, it makes our own problems seem miniscule in comparison. Forgetting to turn off the light in that room, misplacing the car keys, or not having something nice to wear for dinner become afterthoughts instead of vitally pressing issues. But what this next iteration in the Crest of the Stars series shows is that, despite such massive hardships encircling our persons, those insignificant details somehow always matter.
Banner of the Stars I takes place three years after the events of its predecessor, Crest of the Stars. Jinto has been educated as a supply manager, Lafiel has taken command of the assault vessel Basroil, and together, alongside a few other crew members, will be joining in the war against the Triple Nations Alliance.
Banner of the Stars I looks to separate itself slightly from its initial season by attempting to strike a more unified balance between the space-time exploits and the more grounded character exploration. Whereas the first season focused mostly on Jinto and Lafiel’s relationship with the war acting as the backdrop, the second season spreads out the character focus while having the war acting as the stage. What is given, then, is a look at the various people attached to the battles and a surprisingly high degree of diverse scenarios. For example, the anime will show the terror of fighting a disadvantaged battle or the bravery needed when abandoning a ship one moment and having crew members sit down for a drink or showcasing the commander and his chief-of-communications bicker about her love life the next. The aforementioned talk of perspective encompasses the entire season, showing that both the large scale conflicts and the smaller scale conversations are equally important.
And this is something that is desperately needed. Not that it can’t be one way or the other, but because the show requires both time and connections for the cast at play in order to make their inclusion meaningful. Having such brutality depicted means nothing if the majority of the pieces are expendable or forgettable. This obviously isn’t true for Jinto and Lafiel; we have their background and established relationship, and therefore their predicaments carry the most emotional weight. Which is why so much focus is placed on Samson the country-dad, Atosuryua the Hecto-Commander, Admiral Abriel the calm and persistent leader, and the insane Bebaus Brothers. But it also serves another purpose: showcasing the multitude of parts, or perspectives, on the war itself. Not everyone revels in the fighting for the same reasons. Lafiel does it out of honor, to prove her worth; Nereis does it to combat his and his family’s unkind reputation; and Admiral Spoor does it because she has nothing better to do. The sequences themselves are always well done, but because the anime nurtures the characters so equally, it makes them all more than just action without substance.
Unfortunately, Banner of the Stars I follows the same negative that Crest of the Stars employed, and that is losing itself thematically. There are essentially three different ideas being tossed around by the show: the concept of death, having a place, and knowing “who you are,” each of which revolves around Jinto. The first, on death, is looked at nicely enough. The previous event of Baron Febdash’s killing sparks thoughts in him, he witnesses destruction all around, and he has personal, near-death experiences. And so what is discussed are the “duties of the living” and learning that nobody, no matter their standing, has someone there who cares for them. Sort of piggybacking on this motif, “having a home” is loosely talked during particular scenes, but only when convenient and therefore being rather lackluster. The final theme of existentialism comes out of nowhere and only serves to cloud the already explored messages. The anime wants to tackle these ideas, but cannot, due to either time, focus, or (most likely) both. These halfhearted attempts thus serve as nothing more than hindrances in the end.
Much of the action and the “action” within Banner of the Stars I takes place within space and the inner confines of the vessels, respectively. The locales usually don’t contain a wealth of originality — space is expansive and black, space-time fusion is sometimes colorful, the main deck and other rooms are almost always bluish-gray, etc. — but they do contain a nice amount of detail. Banners, three-dimensional maps, aquariums, viewing windows; in order to combat the “staleness” of the environments, the show does what it can to make each one feel separate and unique.
The character designs remain more or less the same for Jinto, Lafiel, and Admiral Spoor (besides seeing her with her hair down). The newcomers each have their own signature looks — Samson with his scar, Ekuryua’s glazed eyes and short hair, and the Bebaus Brothers’ twin-style designs — are futuristic but not overly unrealistic. Alongside everyone’s respective war outfits, everyone fits the part. Also of note are the differing vessels — the attackers, the patrol ships, the flagships, etc. Some appear specialized (Spoor’s red-and-pronged behemoth), most appear similar (the Basroil’s black painting and anti-proton cannon are common, as are the United Mankind’s signature green ships), yet all are nicely detailed.
Banner of the Stars I contains many more battles and skirmishes when compared to its former season. For this reason, the actual animation is above-average. Lasers fly, mines target, explosions are rampant, battleships move, characters react; there is a plethora of opportunities for the anime to strut its stuff, and takes as many of these chances in which to do so.
As has already been pointed out, Banner of the Stars I effectively spreads out its resources when dealing with its characters. While this provides a more well-rounded experience, this leads to a poor side-effect: the stagnation of Lafiel and Jinto’s characters.
Crest of the Stars introduced, characterized, and developed our duo quite nicely throughout its run. This time, they simply seem to stagnate. Lafiel remains proud and determined, but doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as should be warranted to her. The show provides her with some humanization in the form of very tiny reactions and monologues when thinking or interacting with Jinto. But they’re rather insignificant and often ignored, even by her. Other insights are given — such as her stance on death and her convictions as a captain — but they only help to drive the story, not propel her character.
Jinto suffers the same fate. Even after taking into account all of his philosophical questioning, he never seems to take any of it to heart. Focusing solely on the most concentrated theme, the war surrounding him gives ample opportunities to try to understand life, death, and his position within it all. But there is no real resolution to the thinking; it merely ends once Lafiel comforts him by stating that she would most certainly be saddened by his passing. This peace of mind is cute, and while it moves their relationship forward ever so minimally, it unfortunately doesn’t mean much in relation to this season since so much time was spent away from the couple. If anything, Jinto pulls out marginally ahead of Lafiel due to Diaho. The cat garners a lot of attention, both from the crew members and from the narrative, serving as symbolism for what Jinto’s person should be. He is constantly debated on: with Diaho’s memories of others questioned, whether the ship is appropriate for him, and his seemingly carefree nature in terms of the situation. In other words, everyone (including Jinto) describes the lovable pet in such a way that is applicable both to him and his master. Diaho isn’t worried about death, doesn’t mind the home he has, and hasn’t questioned his being; he simply looks to enjoy the time he has now, doing what he loves (catching mice), relishing in other’s company, and experiencing what life has to offer. That is, having such a grandiose perception of the world may not always be the right way to take things. Sometimes, all that you need to worry about has been next to you this entire time.
The newfound focus on the side cast is a boon, despite it simultaneously being a hindrance to the main cast. There are essentially three other duos besides Jinto and Lafiel: Nereis and Nefee, Admiral Abriel and his chief-of-communications, and Admiral Spoor and her chief-of-communications. Despite all three of the couplings being more or less the “same,” each has their own nuances and specific interactions that make the war itself feel more human. The Bebaus Brothers are true siblings; they bicker and quarrel, but respect each other’s viewpoints. Abriel teases his right-hand officer constantly; quite uncharacteristic for the leader of the largest empire in the galaxy. And Spoor revels in riling up her closest confidant; she finds it more fun to be a sadist towards him than actually participating in the battles. Each dynamic never feels abnormal, even with the craziness of the skirmishes enveloping everyone. And it’s not just these pairings. Jinto and Ekuryua, Lafiel and Atosuryua, and Samson and Sobaash are other relationships that provide similar offerings: a unique and realistic set of interactions.
The OP remains nearly the same as the one used in Crest of the Stars. It’s majestic, orchestral, and fitting, making it a wise decision to keep it around for this season.
The ED is surprisingly good. The catchy drums, guitar, and vocals start off plain enough. But by the halfway point, the background singers kick in, and the power of the song does, too. Oddly, the song’s lyrics focus on love and togetherness when the majority of the season does not, making at least that aspect of the track rather puzzling.
Like the OP, the rest of the soundtrack remains relatively the same when compared to the first season. Synth, drum, and guitar tracks are used during tense moments, flute and piano pieces during the calm ones, and resounding trumpets and drums during those triumphant times. Once again, the track fits the anime well but doesn’t have the capability of standing on its own.
More reiteration, but voice-acting is again average across the board with no special shout-outs to be had.
This season was a bit more of a spectacle. Many of the fights in space were all over the place, in a good way. Directed attacks, multiple strategies, combat prowess, winning and losing; watching everything go down, both the good and the bad, was a lot more fun and involved. Especially since Jinto and Lafiel actually have impact in what eventually plays out.
And while the newer characters are fun and interesting, it was a shame to see such a drop in attention on Jinto and Lafiel’s relationship. I like their characters, and I like their dynamic — it reminds me of a husband and wife “arguing” about the smallest of problems. What was given falls in line with the way the previous season ended, but I would have liked more from them, both in progression and focus.
As it stands, Banner of the Stars I is a small improvement over its first season. With a stronger story, better animation, yet small dip in character development, what is offered is a nice continuation to an already established tale. Hopefully Jinto and Lafiel can juggle both their relationship and the war in the events to come.
Story: Good, balance of war and character exploration, varying perspectives, still thematically lost
Animation: Good, nice art style, good character and battleship designs, above-average actual animation
Characters: Good, Jinto and Lafiel stagnate somewhat, side-cast dynamics and characterization help to alleviate this issue
Sound: Good, good OP, good ED, nice soundtrack, okay VA work
Enjoyment: Good, cool space battles, fun new characters, but needed more focus on Jinto and Lafiel
Final Score: 7/10
Sarcasm aside, given just how utterly horrified I was by Crest of the Stars (scoring it a 1/10 in my review), you might wonder why I even bothered with the sequel. The thing is this – this show seemed to be more about its battle than about its political justifications, and given its undeniable artistic talent, I figured maybe there’s actually some scope for enjoyment here as long as you could put the god-awful politics aside – temporarily, at least. Unfortunately though, even on its own terms, the battle simply isn’t what it was initially made out to be – not unlike the prequel series. And on the other hand, it isn’t long before the horrible politics creep right back and break your immersion anyhow. This right here is the long and short of it – the rest of my review will be about justifying and elaborating on this stand.
The show starts off getting you up to speed with the current status quo, as well as the military logistics of the Abh fleet. It also introduces you to the crew of the attack ship Basroil captained by our lead character Lafiel Abriel, with our other lead Lin Jinto serving as a supply officer. A Terran combat veteran called Samson is notably part of the bridge crew, along with Ekuryua, a somewhat withdrawn and introverted Abh girl who seems overly attached to Jinto’s pet cat, and another Abh lady whose name I forget. Also introduced are the various Abh military commanders whom I’ll get to later. The show wastes no time getting into combat mode, and before you know it the introductions are over and you’re thrust into the immediacy of the war. One thing that the Seikai series as a whole does deserve credit for is its pacing.
Now there are two levels at which the battle is depicted: at the here-and-now tactical level, we’re shown the trials that the leads face and how they deal with them; and at the strategic level, we’re shown various higher-order commanders as they squabble amongst each other and come to crucial decisions. And here’s where it gets interesting: at the level of the here-and-now, the show puts you in the hot seat of the front-lines alongside Lafiel and her crew, and gives you the impression of a gritty and dogged battle against overwhelming odds. Every one in the bridge is practically sweating from the tension, and sirens start blaring across the board as one sector after another of the ship take increasing amounts of damage. The tactical breaks provide very little in the way of relief.
And in between all this, the focus shifts to the higher-order commanders as they deal with the bigger picture and strategic aspects of the battle. But in the war room, things seem almost downright boring – the commanders seem supremely sure of themselves to the point of detachment – one goes for a bath in the middle of all the fighting, and another makes a game of pestering his understaff about her personal relationships. All these ‘cute’ scenes in the high command ships are supposed to showcase the Abh’s supreme competence, and their capacity for mischievous joviality even in the heat of battle. But when the show nears its conclusion, all this charm comes undone when an Abh commander commits a shocking act that reveals what the real stakes of the battle were all along, and makes all their previous joviality and nonchalance come across as rather obscene in hindsight.
Another thing to note is that the battle is depicted solely from the Abh’s standpoint: you only get to see the Abh side of the strategising, and you only ever learn of United Mankind’s strategy or tactics through the obstacles the Abh side faces. So on one hand you get to see how chivalrously the Abh face off against their opponents; and on the other hand how dastardly the enemy is…because that’s what they tell you. One unintentionally good thing about this one-sided view of the war, though, is that the enemy is never given a face this time. You only get to see either their ships or mines being blown up. No dastardly, gratuitously-villainous, moustache-twirling military commanders from the ranks of United Mankind plague the screen this time around (that job is taken over by the Abh commanders, albeit unintentionally).
With that out of the way, it’s now time to address the Elephant in the Room i.e. the two-faced politics of this show. No, you saw this coming a mile away – and no, there’s no getting around this. Because quite simply, not only is it thematically central to the whole story, but it also taints and utterly poisons everything it comes into contact with. So anyways, we’re right back to what Crest of the Stars did worst – any humans who do not wholeheartedly and with tears of gratitude accept Abh overlordship are portrayed as corrupt, greedy, morally broke or otherwise generally pathetic. The president of the Aptic system, which the Abh forcefully took over, gives a defiant speech to never surrender to the Abh invaders – but he is shown to do so just to look good to his voters. He even suggests behind-the-scenes that the Abh retort with racist and condescending insults to spice things up for the cameras. The Abh’s offer to accept surrender from the Aptic government without imposing any deadline on them is made to look like a magnanimous act of generosity. Even those working for the Abh fare no better – a nation is shown to have joined with the Abh simply because the Abh didn’t object to their dietary habits whereas the Terran alliances were absolutely appalled (if you must know, they ate cats – no, I’m not making this up).
And then of course, there’s the United Mankind – the only force in the Galaxy that poses any credible threat to Abh dominion. Their policy is depicted not as a legitimate political resistance to the Abh’s unilateral aggression (which it easily could and should have been), but as a dogmatic mission to either enslave or exterminate the entire Abh race. And surely enough, they are portrayed as genocidal fascists (albeit off-screen this time) who do not consider the Abh to be human, and thus see it as fair game to disregard their enemy’s basic human rights – during combat or otherwise.
On the other hand, Abh commanders like Crown Prince Abriel and Baroness Spoor or even the Bebaus twins, whose actions would have clearly branded them as war criminals in just about any other narrative, are not only never (intentionally) made to look bad, but rather made to look like eccentric geniuses whose outwardly obnoxious antics belie just how “wonderful” and compassionate they supposedly are beneath the surface. The show accomplishes this with its singularly worst act of hypocrisy – while it’s abundantly clear to any rational person that these commanders took many of their decisions with a callous and blatant disregard for human lives, their actions are ultimately justified by the show on grounds that these decisions somehow end up working out for the best. A related point is how the show expects you to overlook all of Abriel’s needless endangerment of his own troops because he expresses the coy sentiment that he’d never be able to forgive himself if anything happened to Lafiel (his distant descendant) or Jinto. The exact same issue loomed in Crest of the Stars as well, and Banner of the Stars continues in the same dishonoured tradition.
Later on in the series, the Terran-born Prime Minister of the Abh Empire has a brief parting talk with the infamous eyepatch-wearing ambassador from the last series, where he praisingly refers to the Empire as “the only force in the galaxy that can impose modernity on the surface worlds”. That right there is the big pretext that the show provides to justify all of the Abh’s military aggression over anyone who seeks to oppose their completely one-sided dominion over humans. I continue to be surprised at how many people seem perfectly fine with this.
To make things worse, the show doesn’t just leave things be even here: even when the crew are on their down-time and just breathing, either reflecting on their lot or even just making small talk, the show takes every opportunity to illustrate how superior the Abh are in every conceivable shape and form, and just how hopelessly unattainable that superiority is to ordinary humans (again, this ties in with the show’s justification of the Abh’s forceful takeover of human worlds). It may not be as blatant as it was in Crest of the Stars – but it’s there, believe me. And it’s done much more subtly this time.
Which brings me to the show’s perhaps craftiest sleight-of-hand: during one of their breaks from the fighting, Jinto has a chat with Lafiel – reflecting upon his lot in life, the position he’s been thrust into, and his possible career options from that point on. Lafiel also shares some of the decisions she’s made about her own future. Throughout the span of that discussion, their relative lack of freedom and legroom within their position as Abh nobility gets brought up time and again, given just how pervasively it is a part of their reality. But under no circumstances is the Abh system itself, which is actually the root cause of their plight, ever brought into question or criticised. The most dumbfounding moment is when Jinto briefly contemplates giving up his title as Count of Hyde and simply returning to his homeworld, but then decides against it because he thinks the people would look down upon him for chickening out of his role as their overlord. Are you KIDDING me?! The people of Martine long for Independence from Abh dominion, and if an involuntarily-appointed governor were to turn down that post and return home, that would make a bold and heroic political statement against the Abh, and the people would have welcomed him home as a goddamned HERO!! Nope, Jinto has no choice (in his own mind, at least) but to continue in his dual roles as a petty officer in the Star Forces on one hand, and a puppet figurehead for Abh rule on his homeworld on the other. Interestingly though, there is one character (and an Abh one at that, to boot) who implicitly criticises the ways of the royals, but the show plays it away as an intentionally spiteful remark made by someone holding a personal grudge, rather than a genuine grievance.
On the technical side of things, the animation is somewhat better than the positively freakish fare that you had to endure last time. The sound and audio cues are pretty much exactly the same as last time, and they mostly do their job quietly and unobtrusively. The opening score, on the other hand (and especially the eerily ominous drum-rolls whenever the voice-over narrator or anyone else speaks Abh-tongue), made me feel deeply uneasy and nauseous – in much the same way that Richard Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyrie” today invokes imagery of cold-blooded monstrosity because of its rather unfortunate appropriation by the Nazi regime.
As for the characters, things are more or less exactly as they were in the last series. Jinto once again proves himself to be an accomplished sycophant. This time around, he is given more space to “develop” – as in, more airtime to express his self-pity with melodramatic wistfulness. Among other things, he broods that no one will miss him when he dies (awwww), and that he won’t be around for as long as Lafiel. You know what, his worries might be unfounded – even in his early twenties, he still looks like a 14-15 year-old, and still retains a husky adolescent voice…maybe he has defied the odds and hit the genetic lottery after all! The show also tries to “humanize” Jinto by showing how he winces and cringes in embarrassment at having to read out the Abh’s official statements of hostile takeover, but it’s a diversion from the plain-and-simple fact that he is perfectly OK with what the Abh are actually doing – the hypocrisy on display is simply sickening. Lafiel is, of course, exceedingly good to Jinto as always, and unfailingly dutiful to her crew – but underneath even that generous and dutiful personality is an uncritical mind, and an unwavering loyalty to the very system that serves to oppress her (and not to mention entire planets besides).
Overall, Banner of the Stars retains the core essence of what made Crest of the Stars so sickening and reprehensible. But where Crest of the Stars provoked shock and outrage, Banner was more of just constantly annoying. The stakes are not something you can sympathise with without rooting for criminal invaders, and that’s primarily what breaks the immersion factor whenever you’re reminded of it. As for the battle itself, as gripping as it may initially seem, it proves to be more one-sided than it was made out to be, and basically depicts the wholesale slaughter of conveniently “evil” enemies in a glorifying light. If it seems “better” than Crest of the Stars, that’s only because it has less obviously-offensive scenes, and instead goes for making subtler insinuations during the more “quiet-time” interactions between the characters. And finally, as much as you may try, it proves impossible to separate the artistic good from the thematic poison of this show, as every event and every interaction is inextricably linked to its reprehensible ideas. It proves once again that it’s just not possible to make good wine from bad grapes.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Turn A Gundam
2. Seikai no Senki
3. Ima, Soko ni Iru Boku
4. Daa! Daa! Daa!
5. Heppoko Jikken Animation Excel Saga
6. Mugen no Ryvius
8. Brigadoon: Marin to Melan
10. Gear Fighter Dendoh