They’re the best Anime that 2009 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of RideBack, Chrome Shelled Regios, Sora no Otoshimono, and more!
English: Ride Back
MAL Score: 7.28
In the future, an organization called the GGP has taken control of the world. Rin Ogata was a promising up-and-coming ballet dancer, but suffered a serious injury while dancing and decided to quit. Years later in college, she comes across a club building and soon finds herself intrigued by a transforming motorcycle-like robotic vehicle called a “Rideback”. She soon finds that her unique ballet skills with balance and finesse make her a born natural on a Rideback. However, those same skills also get her into serious trouble with the government.
The first thing that caught my eye when I saw Rideback was the quality of the animation. The CG work in this show is amazing. From the very first episode to the very last episode, the Ridebacks were given extremely fluid animation and modeling, almost to the point of realism. I found it very neat to not have to suspend my disbelief too much at the Ridebacks, since they were animated so well. The character designs and movement were also done quite nicely, and having the show air in HD helped a lot. Madhouse did a fantastic job of creating a living, breathing, alternate universe Tokyo in the year 2020.
The second thing that caught my eye, or in this case, my ears, were the sound and the music. Music composer Takafumi Wada went all out, mixing techno, classical, and heart-thumping action pieces throughout the show. The music really coordinated with the scenes, especially during the action sequences along with the soliloquy sequences. The opening song is a jumble of Engrish, but once you figure out the lyrics, it creates a nice motif to the show. The ending song is a slow ballad, which goes nicely with the slideshow of solemn redemption scenes.
The characters, given the time constraint of the show, were given enough development for the audience to care for. We get to see Ogata Rin’s desires and motivations, the BMA’s desires and motivations, and we are able to empathize with them. However, many secondary characters were one dimensional and only appear in the show to create plot devices. Sadly, with only 12 episodes, these characters were unable to become fully fleshed out. We can only see the police chief as only “the police chief,” the reporter as only “the reporter,” and the Rideback club members as only “the Rideback club members.”
The story is also a mixed bag. Frankly, Rin’s soliloquies were much more fascinating than the game of cat and mouse between the terrorists and GGP. Madhouse, however, did a fantastic job to meld the two storylines together. I can see why some people would scoff at sudden climax in the last episode, or at the disregard for physics in some of the action scenes. But all in all, the story provides a nice tinge of sentimentalism, which is not overbearing or underwhelming. The allegory between Rin’s Fuego and her desire to continue ballet is done very well, I must say.
When I started watching Rideback, I didn’t know what to expect, other than awesome animation. After finishing it, I found out that it had a little of everything: political intrigue, amazing action scenes, intense ballet, and lesbian tendencies. On Anidb’s comments for Rideback, some people have complained that this show is all animation, no quality. I must politely disagree. Most shows hit you over the head with repeated symbolism. Rideback, however, does it with style, by layering the symbolism with multiple story backdrops. I recommend this show highly to those who enjoy action and mecha series in general, and to those who like to see quality coming-of-age stories.
I forgot to mention that the voice acting in this show is superb, especially commendable is Nana Mizuki as Ogata Rin. I want to end by imploring whoever is reading this not to get discouraged by Anidb comments, and give Rideback a chance. I was quite glad I did.
In a futuristic Japan where vehicle’s know as Ridebacks are all the rage Ogata Rin must try to pick herself up from ruining her career as one of Japan’s finest dancers.
Rin herself may be one of the best things to come out of Rideback, as she is a terrific main lead. Throughout the entire series she tries to come in gripes with herself, and why she does the things she does. Why is it that when she rides Fuego does her heart pound so much? Why did I make that jump? Why in all of these flames do I feel truly alive? These are the type of questions she ask’s herself throughout the series, and her coming into gripes and realization of each of the answers is truly a wonderful journey.
Rin is most definitely a rare character, but sadly that’s all this show has to offer in terms of characters. Unfortunately all of the characters are nothing more than one-dimensional cut outs used simply to move the plot forward. You never get to know any of the characters, on really any level, other than their purpose inside the context of the plot. Which is definitely a draw back, from an otherwise great show.
One of Rideback’s successes is that it’s plot is believable. I am not talking about the motorcycle’s with arms. No I am talking about how everything comes together. How Rin comes into mix with the terrorist organization and why she becomes wanted by the GGP. It’s brought together, by a couple of really believable coincidences. Rin getting caught in the middle of this doesn’t feel forced at all. On the contrary, it actually feels like she got caught in the middle of everything.
However, just because everything comes together in a believable way does not forgive the very shaky plot of Rideback. The problem with Rideback is that it’s only 12 episodes long. I think that a longer series would’ve benefited Rideback a lot more. The viewer never fully understands what happens in the show. Why is the BMA leader want revenge so bad? It’s clear he was screwed over, but how? Why? Who is this mysterious lady who seems to have the answers? Why is she helping take down the government she works for? The anime itself is full of questions that never get answered. If this series was extended and had the time to answer, explain and expand on everything already present that this anime would have truly been a masterpiece. But alas it’s 12 episodes holds it back and keeps it an average level.
The two biggest successes of Rideback have to the art and soundtrack. Both entirely entrancing and add so much more depth to this series. The animation of Rideback is breathtaking. The character designs are top notch, and the background visuals will leave you in a state of awe at just how beautiful they are. The Rideback animation is flawless and the action sequences done with the Rideback have so much detail in them that they will raise your heart levels tenfold.
The soundtrack in anime(Outside of Mells consistent bad English in the opening) is fantastic. From the adrenaline pumping techno to the beautiful piano scores. The OST adds a depth to this anime that the story and characters weren’t able to. It adds so much emotion as Rin tries to figure out who she is, and really gets your heart pumping every time she gets on a Rideback. Truly one of the better Sound Tracks out there.
Unfortunately do to the jumbled messed of the plot and lack of any character depth(Outside of Rin} leaves this anime easy to forget and easy to pass by. It’s a good anime, but at the end of the day that’s it. The stunning visuals and beautiful OST does not make up for the other area’s that are lacking. Rideback is definitely worth a watch, but don’t go in expecting to find one of the rare gems of this decade.
In the first episode, I was heads over heels in it. I breathed, smelled and laughed with RideBack. That delirious-like state continued for a few more episodes, even intensified. I was sure right then that this is the best anime I have watched in a long time now. And then came the cold shower.
I should probably mention that I finished watching the last episode 5 minutes ago. So I might not be the most rational being at the moment. The promise and the letdown are the biggest two I have ever faced when watching basically anything up until now. The emotions portrayed as she stopped dancing, the feeling of pure joy and life as she discovers RideBack.. It was like I was watching a creation of universe. Immense, deep and indescribable. Ofcourse the story goes on, but the biggest disappointment for me were Rin’s emotions, intentions and willpower. She is able to give up something she loves more than anything else just because circumstances changed. She hurt her leg. She managed to hurt someone else by some miracle. No, no, can’t do. Let’s stop. A nap sounds so much better. Bullshit.
So, she discards it all, never to do it again, then does it all over again for someone else’s sake. Imagine this scenario in a different setting. You absolutely love playing basketball. Nothing else like it. A friend of yours manages to get hurt badly. And yes, it was caused by you, since he was coming to see you play and a car hit him. And now you decide never to play basketball again because it made someone you love get hurt. Wtf? Oh, I forgot to mention that even tho you swore never to play it again, you still do it in the end because that friend wants to see you play. So you play for him and not for yourself anymore, appearing saint-like. Not even allowing yourself to enjoy it as before. Seriously, there is not much more that could be piss me off than this whole charade. Bah.
As for other topics.. Animation is amazing. CGI fits in well, the scenes and background are simply amazing.
Story is mediocre, but it works. There are some untied ends, but it was enough to hold everything together without flinching.
Sound department I think lacked. The soundtrack could be amazing, but it was just something that goes along with everything..
Characters. You might have read my initial pissed-off complaints about some aspects, but I was generally happy with everyone. Else.
Also, I shoulfd mention, I would rate this by the end of first few episodes as almost 10. Judging purely by personal enjoyment. Then it just went downhill. The are freaking lucky that they had a scene with panties twice! Look, RideBack is like one sport at which your panties would be on display ALL THE TIME if you were doing it in skirt. Which Rin manages to do alot. But they always chose perspective that obscures them. The wind was also behaving non-windy. Really stupid details, but as they keep repeating over and over again, it gets to be really annoying. But there are two scenes in which they managed to give a split second pantie-shot. I am a pervert, sure, but here are the basic laws of physics being denied. The barely managed to get out of that spot by that maybe one second altogether. Meh. Btw, they are white and really plain looking. Enjoy your spoiler.
9: Chrome Shelled Regios
English: Chrome Shelled Regios
MAL Score: 7.32
In a post-apocalyptic world overrun with mutated beasts called Limbeekoon or Filth Monsters, humanity is forced to live in large mobile cities called Regios and learn to use special weapons called Dite, by harnessing the power of Kei to defend themselves. In the Academy City of Zuellni, Layfon Alseif is hoping to start a new life and forget his past. However, his past has caught the attention of Karian Loss, the manipulative Student Council President and Nina Antalk, a Military Arts student and Captain of the 17th Military Arts Platoon, who instantly recognizes his abilities and decides he’s the perfect candidate to join her group. However, with a secret past that won’t leave him alone and unknown powers beyond normal, Layfon just might not take it.
Imagine my surprise then, to find a high school.
That’s right. Here at the end of the world the best that some bright spark could come up with was another high school. That said, Koukaku no Regios (Chrome Shelled Regios), does use the setting rather well, and approaches the whole concept in a manner that is somewhat entertaining.
Originally, Chrome Shelled Regios began life as a series of light novels by Amagi Shusuke, with a manga adaptation by Miyu available around the same time. A second manga adaptation followed, this time by Kiyose Nodoka, then a third (by Watari), and finally a fourth, which is, unusually, a 4-koma version by Futaba Masumi.
Oh, and there’s a prequel light novel series called Legend of Regios as well.
The story begins in the academy city of Zuellni, a domed mobile “fortress” that roams the post apocalyptic world, where Layfon Wolfstein Alsief is hoping to forget his turbulent past and begin a new life. Unfortunately, he quickly catches the attention of Karian Loss, the student council president, and Nina Antalk, the leader of the 17th Military Arts Platoon.
At first glance Chrome Shelled Regios seems like a pretty standard fantasy styled anime, and truth be told, this is a pretty accurate impression. The plot is fairly straight forward, with little in the way of true complexity. Unfortunately, the manner in which the story is delivered has all the hallmarks of an action melodrama, and while there are some comedic elements thrown into the mix in an effort to balance things out, the overall effect is rather lopsided.
Probably the biggest example of this is the main character’s “turbulent past” and the reasons why he is attending Zuellni. There is a clear attempt to obtain sympathy from the audience, however the plot seems overly contrived, and rather than ensuring that this aspect of the story is part of the greater tale, it instead stands out as one of several occasions where the show has tried to elicit a reaction from the viewer.
The main problem with this is that the writers have adopted an approach that is more like a traditional fantasy, something which would normally be fine given that this is ultimately a light novel adaptation. It’s unfortunate then, that the transposition from paper to screen doesn’t quite work, however this may be because the writers literally had multiple versions of the story, so instead of creating their own version, they simply decided to pick the best bits from all the other versions and string them together.
The end result is a story that has its plus points, but doesn’t really know what to do with them.
While the story may be a bit haphazard at times, the art and animation are of a good standard throughout the series. The characters are pretty standard fare in terms of design, but they are well animated and possess their own unique features. The backgrounds are a strange mixture of the familiar and the unusual, mainly because of the incongruousness of a post apocalyptic high school. That said, the level of detail is pretty good throughout, and while there are some genuinely absurd moments, they don’t reall affect the overall look of the show.
As far as the music goes, the show uses a variety of pieces over the course of the series, but while the choregrpahy is often good, the music sometimes doesn’t mesh with the on screen action. The OP is a typical “beats per minute” dance track called Brave Your Truth by Daisy x Daisy. Like many other shows, Chrome Shelled Regios has two EDs, Yasashii Uso and Ai no Zuellni, both of which are by Chrome Shelled. Both are bittersweet ballads that, unfortunately, don’t work all the time given the context of the episode itself.
On the other hand, the acting is actually pretty decent. The seiyuu are talented and play their roles fairly well, although there are some occasions where the character can seem unnaturally emotional, something which is partly due to the script itself rather than the skills of the actors.
One of my biggest gripes with Chrome Shelled Regios was the lack of originality when it came to character types. Granted there are only so many to go around, however the writers seemed to have followed the cut and paste format to the letter. While the plot may be interesting in parts and the story engaging to a degree, in a series like this it’s ultimately the characters that make the whole thing shine. The lead roles are interesting enough, but their development can often seem overly conrtived. In addition to this, the actual characterisation is fairly basic at best, and very little time is spent on ensuring that the characters have reasonable and valid justifications for their actions.
Again, this may be due to the writers attempting to incorporate all of the versions of the story into one narrative, but whatever the reason may be, the upshot is that this show really could have been so much more than it is. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, as Chrome Shelled Regios is entertaining in its own way. The problem is that the ideas and concepts behind the show could have been planned and executed better. The post apocalyptic high school, for example, is a novel idea, but instead of trying for more originality, the creators have gone in the other direction.
In simpler terms there are many thing in Chrome Shelled Regios that have been done before, and often done better. The series relies too much on stereotypes and plot devices, and too little on innovation, creativity and ingenuity. The sad part about all of this is that while the show is entertaining enough to be enjoyable to a degree, many of the elements that make up the series have only really been applied to maintain the viewer’s interest (and hopefully sell some Chrome Shelled Regios goodies). This is the reason why the comedy doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the plot, and the lack of cohesion at the most basic level is ultimately the reason for the poor characterisation as well.
It’s unfortunate that, once again, a series with a great deal of potential has been let down by its creators. One can only hope that the future will bring improvements, and that more companies will stop making shows that are nothing more than glorified advertisements for related merchandise.
After all, who knows what I’ll find on my next foray into a post apocalyptic world …
Story/Plot – 6.7
The Overall plot is about Layfon Alseif, a person who has potential for being in Military Arts, but is reluctant because of his past. However, he still becomes part of the military academy, and finds himself in the 17th platoon fighting in Platoon matches, or against filth monsters and slowly revealing his past as he fights along.
Yes this deserves a low score of 6.7, why you ask? First of all Regios can get VERY VERY confusing. (almost as confusing as Lost) This is a show that demands you to either pay attention to almost everything they are showing you, or go back and rewatch a couple episodes. Even then, you still won’t understand some of the parts of the story, which suggests that this show is going to receive another season such as a prequel, but as of now, I have heard no news about it. Secondly, I have noticed the storyline follows a particular pattern, Fight Filth Monsters->Reveal a little bit of Layfon’s Past->Fight in Platoon Matches->Reveal a little more of Layfon’s Past->Fight someone Layfon knew before (Haia, Gorneo-> Reveal his past some more->Then, Bam, Fanservice episode. Then maybe, they would add an episode to show that Felli, Nina, Leerin, or Meishen likes Layfon. However, the show does make up for it with the twists in the plot, and still the story does proceed, although it may be slow. The show gets docked a few points though especially at the end where they absolutely rush the whole thing. Even rewatches of the last episode and of previous episodes will not explain everything in the end and viewers may feel unsatisfied, almost like watching the second season finale of Lost.
Characters – 7.4 (this will be done with overviews with characters that have high to medium importance)
The biggest flaw with the characters is that they never actually change their personalities or anything throughout the whole show.
Layfon: is always reluctant to fight, and wants to do something else than fighting, but doesn’t , Layfon also doesn’t notice that Felli, Leerin, Nina, or Meishen likes him, and does not notice this for the whole season. However, he does have a hidden past, which means he is different from the other characters and kind of makes the viewers want to know his past. I have also noticed that layfon had 2 personalities, 1 where he was super nice, and then a more serious one. He is basically could be in a platoon by himself and still win matches.
Felli: also wants to do something else besides being in the military academy, but doesn’t. However, Felli is one of the most likeable characters, and she herself adds a lot of comedy to the show, her kicks are more deadly than one by Chuck Norris or Bruce Lee (and also very funny), and when they draw Felli in an angry state, it is quite enjoyable. Felli also does change her personality a little to show that she likes Layfon.
Felli uses Psychokinesis to support the 17th platoon, which is basically large radius of sight and the ability to transfer speech and information to other members. If you need an example, think maphacks in RTS games basically, probably a very advanced form of them.
Nina: always wants to become stronger, but no matter what she does, she doesn’t really get much better, although she trains a lot of the time. She also gets mad at Layfon a lot, but she always forgives him later on anyways. She is also the leader of the 17th Platoon, but for a leader, she really isn’t particularly strong and takes a backseat to Layfon. Truely speaking, she basically tried to go the warrior class and put all her stat points in INT and doesn’t have a restat.
Sharnid: Carefree attitude, and like Layfon had a sort of mysterious hidden past. Although Sharnid acts carefree about almost everything, things are revealed about his past, and he actually takes it very seriously. However, many things are still not explained about him, such as his origin, and that can be good or bad, depending if there will be another season. He is currently the sniper for the 17th platoon, and if you need a reference, think of Kurz Weber from Full Metal Panic, except maybe 10 times cooler in my opinion. Sharnid is the sniper for the 17th Platoon and is also a playboy. 😛
I mean I really can’t find big enough flaws for the music or the sound. During some extreme fight scenes, such as the one where Layfon fights with Haia to save Felli, the background music is amazing, and deserves high marks. The ending songs for the show are also very good in my opinion and they do change the ending song after the halfway point in the anime. Also if you listen carefully, each time they have different voice actors sing the ending theme song which is nice. For example, Felli sings a duet with Sharnid, along with other combinations. However, I just don’t like the beginning theme song, and they don’t change the song after the halfway point, which leaves me to skip the beginning theme song. They also repeat a generic BGM sometimes when layfon is fighting, and that becomes annoying after a couple episodes, and docks the anime some points.
There is really nothing special about the animation, except the fight scenes and the fan service scenes. However, when they draw Felli at times, and even Sharnid (when he is sprayed with water by Nina at the pool) it is quite comical, and brings up the score. Other times however, the animation is a bit off, if you can remember the time where Layfon is on the train alone with Meishen, and where we get a close up on Meishen’s face, her nose just seems to be drawn weird in my opinion.
This anime was actually very enjoyable in my opinion, the mix between action, comedy, and fanservice kept me watching the anime to the end, and many of the characters are quite enjoyable to watch, particularly Felli. The fan service scenes also help with putting the anime in a more relaxed have fun state, instead of action and fighting all the time. Also this anime had better comedy scenes that some of the anime I have seen that were only about comedy.
Overall – 7.72 (6.7+7.4+8.7+7.6+8.2=38.6/5=7.72)
Only 7.72 on an anime I based my username off of? how come? Although I truly enjoyed this show especially the action and a little bit of the more relaxed episodes, the ending to the season really severely docked this show some points. After reading all the released manga that have been translated, I have noticed that they explain a lot more with the manga than with the anime, which means if you truly want to know everything you have to read the manga also. That shouldn’t be the case. They need to pace this anime a lot better than they did, have bigger changes with the characters, besides Felli, and explain the story more. I mean they had 24 episodes, which is a considerable amount of time to make the story work out.
Some people also tell me, don’t worry there is definitely a second season! But how can you be so sure? They haven’t announced it or anything which suggests they are just leaving the anime as is. Hopefully, they do release another season, and explain all the holes in the story, which will definitely lead to a better score in the next season.
In the end, If you are looking for an anime that has good fighting scenes, relaxed scenes with the 4 girls that like Layfon (fanservice), and some comedy, then you should definitely take a look at Chrome Shelled Regios or atleast just try a few episodes. This show offers a nice balance of action/seriousness to comedy/fanservice, so many viewers might like this particular anime.
The main thing I disliked about it, was that it was too centered around the main character. Layfon is strong, Layfon appears when others are in danger, Layfon beats everyone. Close to every women character are blushing when seeing him, even if there is no romance. Even the cold one ends up being all over the hero. The other characters feel like they were added just to have some kind of background but there’s no real work on them.
During 24 episodes the story isn’t fantastic, nothing that surprises us suddenly, well they played the safe card. In the end, many questions are unanswered. It seems that no second season will be released so they will stay as it is. Sad because a lot of ideas were present. For example, all those Heaven’s Blade Wielders, we get to see them in the two or three last episodes, some of them for just a sec, disapointing.
To sum up, the anime is classic, I didn’t really enjoy it but still, it was watchable enough so I went till the end to see if it gets better. Don’t expect incredible storyline, just a common anime in the overall sea of animes.
8: Sora no Otoshimono
English: Heaven’s Lost Property
MAL Score: 7.32
Ever since he was a child, Tomoki Sakurai has always woke up with tears after a dream of an angel. His childhood friend Sohara Mitsuki worries about this and decides to seek the help of Eishirou Sugata, an eccentric sky maniac. He concludes that Tomoki’s dream is undoubtedly connected to what is known as the New World, a floating anomaly that scientists have failed to understand.
Recruiting the New World Discovery Club’s first members, Eishirou schedules a time to meet up in order to observe the mystery in the sky. That day, Tomoki’s peaceful life is changed forever when a strange girl falls from the sky and begins to call him master.
Sora no Otoshimono follows the daily activities of the New World Discovery Club as they begin to learn more about the Angeloids that have arrived on Earth.
Then, shit happens. The anime goes totally random and it made me LOL; so hard I almost chocked and spilled soda over my laptop. The humor in Sora no Otoshimono is random, but yet it always seems to make me laugh. The ecchi things stuff tomoki does has yet ceased to bore me.
The characters are also, setup in such perfect proportions for a comedy anime. A perverted boy with his childhood friend, creepy senpai and class prez. Each character has his/her share of randomness to make you laugh.
(The humor and story of Sora no Otoshimono, I can’t help but say, reminds me of Inukami. They way Yoko punishes Keita is so similar to what happens to tomoki.)
Sora no otoshimono is a must watch, if you like this kind of comedy anime. Especially if you like fan service comedy, I guarantee you, you’ll laugh your ass off.
“The following story depicts the downfall of my quiet and peaceful life.” – Tomoki Sakurai
If someone is telling you this anime has flying pantsu (underwear), what will come to mind? People throwing pantsu at each other? Or if you are a bit more creative, perhaps you may be imagining them using the pantsu to wrap around a volleyball for practice? (I really got that as a response before). But will you believe me if I say the underwear in this show can really fly like a bird (heck, they even fly in a wonderful formation in the sky). Furthermore, what if those pantsu can explode? Yes, they can go KABOOM! How’s that for a change? Assuming you are still hanging around, let me give this one final piece of advice. Stop reading right here if flying and exploding pantsu is not what you want to see because it only gets much more exciting and chances are you won’t like it (ie. you can drop this show from you list).
Now for the rest of us, where should we begin? How about the ordinary lifestyle of the young man, our protagonist of the story, Tomoki Sakurai? All he ever wished from his small town was to live a peaceful and quiet life where he can eat, sleep, and play. He even made a motto for himself, “peace and quiet is the best”. One night under a cherry tree, a pretty angel came falling down toward our hero and that is how his quiet and peaceful life comes to an end. Who might this girl be? Where did she come from? What kind of past did she have? All these questions will propel the story forward and eventually develop into something much more than what anyone would have initially thought possible from this type of show.
Unsurprisingly a great deal of character developments, in terms of personal growth, lies with the fallen angel. As the series progresses, she not only begin to show depth as a character, but at the same time get involved in a funny four-way romance. Various characters’ past have also been revealed which explains a lot about their current self, particularly their behavior. This also made them more real and believable as a whole.
The sound department really deserves special recognition for this show. Not nothing does it have a special, one of a kind, ending per episode, but each ending also features the aftermath of what happened at the end of the episode (think of it as some form of epilogue). As an example, I strongly urge you to look up the second ending (flying pantsu ending). In addition to the various endings, the unique background music (BGM), that does not often repeat itself, also deserves honourable mention. Often times I feel that I was nearly going in tears thanks to these BGM. They make a strong compliment to the already excellent series.
Sounds come in many different forms. Music obviously counts as one, but voicing is another, especially in the anime industry. Some voices can make a character seem like a lifeless zombie or can totally repel viewers from watching further. Others can bring life to a character, making them more lively and believable. Fortunately, Sora no Otoshimono has a large group of talented casts that helped make the characters come to life and also aided the comedy aspect of the show. If I were to select one seiyu from the group whom I believe have performed the best, it will have to be Souichirou Hoshi (Kira from Gundam SEED, Keiichi from Nigurashi no Naku Koro ni). His ultra hilarious performance as Tomoki, the protagonist, played a key role in the overall success of the series in my opinion. Though his voice may be hard to get used to at times, his role as Tomoki is certainly refreshing, highly different from most of his previous character voices.
You may think that there is probably nothing else that is good about this series. You are dead wrong. The ultimate selling point of Sora no Otoshimono lies in the animation. While it does not have the unique animation techniques like those we often seen by SHAFT, this series cannot be taken lightly either. Production quality is top notch. With smooth fluid-like animation, great scene transitions, and consistently level of high quality production by the studio, all made this show an eye candy to watch. Of course this is especially true if you are into ecchi-fan service. But even if you are an action fan, you will not be disappointed as the series totally shines with its animation. You have to see it to believe it. Certainly one of the best quality anime (animation-wise) of the Fall 2009 season.
To be honest, I am not an extremely big fan of ecchi comedy. But Sora no Otoshimono completely changed my view on this genre. I was really drawn in by the emotional scenes multiple times throughout the series. Similarly, I was also captivated by the very sad, yet powerful, scenes toward the end of the show. It certainly showed us that Sora no Otoshimono is not just about pure ecchi humour, but actually have a strong background story to back it up! I would also like to applaud the production studio, AIC A.S.T.A. for a job well done in adapting the original material from the manga. Lastly if you have read the entire review, do yourself a favour and watch the series now. It is only 13 episodes long, so why not give it a shot?
Comedy: The comedy is wild and exaggerated, using gags, slapstick, and parodies. And it’s corny. It reminds me a bit of a Looney Toons cartoon. The main male character, Tomoki, is uncontrollably perverted, and the comedy mostly consists of him coming up with plots to see women naked or in panties, and getting beat up in the process. He is shown 90% of the time in chibi form (the small child-like form) with a totally different voice, and almost half of that time he is running around naked. In fact, I almost don’t recognize him when he switches back. I just don’t find this type of dumb comedy appealing.
Ecchi: I’m a fan of ecchi, but I do find mindless ecchi boring. There needs to be some situational element to make the ecchi sexy and appealing, like a romantic build-up, an awkward situation, or some cuteness. Some of the panty shots involving Sohara early on in the series are quite nice as she shakes her butt around cutely while talking. The brief shot of the girls putting on kimonos was nice too. There was some romance there too, where Sohara developed some affection for the hero as he saved her. But then from about the 4th episode on, any of this romantic/cute ecchi ceases to exist. Instead, it’s all brute-force mindless, emotionless ecchi as Tomoki barges in on girls to catch a peek. With no situational element, it’s about as sexy as looking at a department store swimsuit catalog.
So with the comedy and ecchi elements being lackluster, and the story being more of background element (and this story being a bit shallow and undeveloped) Sora no Otoshimono fails to deliver. It’s watchable as mild entertainment, but I wouldn’t regret having not seen it.
7: Toaru Majutsu no Index
English: A Certain Magical Index
MAL Score: 7.40
Academy City, Japan, is at the forefront of science. Besides being 30 years ahead of the world technologically, more than three-fourths of this peculiar city’s population consists of students developing their psychic abilities as espers in various institutions. Among these students is Touma Kamijou, a high school boy with the lowest psychic rank of zero, but with a mysterious power no scientist can understand: “Imagine Breaker,” which allows him to negate other supernatural abilities.
This, however, doesn’t affect Kamijou’s life in the least as he plays his role as a regular teenager; that is, until he meets the strange Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a young girl who has memorized the entirety of the forbidden grimoires, and now a dangerous organization is hunting Index down. With several magicians looking to harm the girl, Kamijou will defend his new companion at all costs as he discovers a strange new realm of the supernatural.
One of the greatest battles that mankind has ever witnessed is the battle between science and religion, a battle that is still being fought today. So just imagine, what will happen if people with supernatural abilities existed and both these sides got hold of people whose special abilities that are nothing short of miraculous? So how exactly does this relate to To Aru Majutsu no Index? Well I suppose a short summary of the story is in order.
Now To Aru Majutsu no Index (which I would just refer to now as Majutsu no Index) is set in a world where both science and magic coexist. Kamijou Touma, you regular high school kid lives within a place called Academy City, the so called “utopia of science” as well as an utopia for a new type of people known as ESPers, people who can have supernatural abilities by controlling the laws of science. Kamijou Touma, being a student in the Academy City, has a strange power called “Imagine Breaker”, a skill which allows him to dispel anything magical or is a product of ESPer powers. On the other hand, there is Index Prohibitorum Librorum (or Index for short), a nun who has the superhuman ability to remember virtually anything and has memorized in her mind 103,000 grimoires concerning magic that is prohibited by the church or is otherwise just far too dangerous to be used. One day, Touma found a starving Index hanging in his balcony after being chased by mysterious men, begging him for food. This is where the story starts as Touma finds himself in the middle of all the problems concerned with letting a walking manual for destruction live in his house.
Now, you gotta admit, the idea of science and magic clashing against each other is a pretty freaking good concept, and a good concept always mean a good anime right? Well, Majutsu no Index had pretty much everything that a good anime has: a good concept, interesting premises, and a recipe for romance. Unfortunately, it failed to use its full potential as an anime because of certain mistakes made by the producers of this anime.
So let’s start off with the story. As I’ve said, Majutsu no index is set on interesting premises yet it failed to fully utilize all of its hidden potential. You see, one of the biggest problems here is, or the lack thereof, of a main antagonist because what happened is that the anime was split into two sides : the magic side and the science side.
The magic side is the side concerned with magic aspect of the anime. The plots concerning this side usually just revolves around people who are relentlessly trying to kidnap Index to learn the secrets in her head and wreak havoc upon the earth, those who want to save Index from her perfect memory, which they claim would kill her if they don’t brainwash her every year since she would remember every detail she sees and ultimately overload her brain, and the church which is responsible for pretty much all of Index’s problems. And obviously, it’s Touma’s job to protect Index which he usually does by talking and punching the said magicians into submission. Though that way of solving things isn’t really all that bad, what really makes the magic side so terrible is that it’s quite episodic when it comes to plot. The plot from one arc to another just doesn’t add up and that makes it quite terrible: the fact that it has no continuality.
The science side on the other hand, is a heck lot more interesting in terms of plot than the magic side. It revolves around the concept of leveling up ESPers. You see, the thing with ESPers is that they are ranked using levels, starting from level 0 (which is by the way, Touma’s level) and above. This is done in order to measure how strong an ESPer is with level 0 being weakest, virtually having no powers, and those with higher levels having stronger powers. The current highest level ESPers have been able to attain is level 5, a title which seven different people in Academy City hold. The story focuses on two of these level 5 ESPers, namely Misaka Mikoto, who was the ability to control electricity and is a friend to Touma, and The Accelerator, who can control and redirect vectors at will. What happened is that Academy City decided to create the first level 6 ESPer, and there are only two ways to do it: Either have a level 5 ESPer kill roughly 128 other level 5 ESPers, or to have a level 5 ESPer kill 20,000 level 3 ESPers. Seeing as they only have seven level 5 ESPers, they opted for the other method: have a level 5 ESPer, namely The Accelerator, kill 20,000 level 3 ESPers. Now the question is where do they get 20,000 level 3 ESPers?
If you haven’t noticed by now, yes, I am biased towards the science side of the story but there is a good reason for that. As I’ve said, what this series lacks is the presence of a main antagonist, and what the science side gives is just that, along with a solid plot. On the other hand, the magic side is, as I’ve mentioned, quite episodic in nature, jumping around from one antagonist to the other and having no clear goal as to where it would lead the story next after one conflict is solved. This is one of the biggest downfalls of Majutsu no Index and is one of the main reasons as to why it fails to live up to its potential. Another problem with this anime is that the magic and science side of the story almost never crosses each other, despite the fact that they should be two sides of the same coin. This is especially annoying from time to time because it causes quite a few plotholes in the story.
Another one of the problems with Majutsu no Index lies in its characters. I’m not saying that they are bad, it’s just that they are so cliché it hurts. We have Kamijou Touma, who’s definition of unlucky is seeing naked chicks and getting “in touch” with the ladies (gee, I haven’t seen that before), Index, who is your regular hyperactive loli, Misaka, nicknamed biribiri, who is your run-of-the-mill tsundere, and others who would take too long to mention. But of course, that isn’t the real problem, as cliché characters can still be interesting despite the fact that they are, well, cliché.
The real problem is that the makers of the anime desperately try to make Touma, the main character, look badass when in fact, he’s not. And for the sake of doing this, they pretty much confine most of the other characters to the sidelines. This becomes very apparent during the latter half of the show, when pretty much every problem ends up being solved when Touma punches the antagonist in the face.
But of course, not all of the characters are bad. Take Accelerator for example. Aside from being the main antagonist for the majority of the science side plotline, he is also the one of the few characters that received a noticeable amount of character development. As the story introduced him as an evil psycho who is willing to kill tens of thousands to gain power, he was later shown to have a softer side who cares for others more than he seems .Other than him, most of the other anime characters just receive minimal amounts of development, maybe aside for one more character though discussing her here could spoil the story.
So far, the only redeeming feature Majutsu no Index has is in its animation and music. The Art was just the way I like it, clean, smooth, and shiny just like most of the newer animes today, though there are times when the movements seem a little bit choppy but this is barely noticeable and doesn’t really affect the overall experience of watching this anime. The music on the other hand is just plain freaking awesome. The first and second openings, both J-pop songs, where sung by Kawada Mami which are in my opinion, just perfect for the theme of the anime: fast-paced and somehow had a futuristic tune to it.
So overall I’d have to say that To Aru Majutsu no Index is more or less an average anime. It’s an anime with a good concept and interesting premises, it just happened to have been unable to fully utilize its full potential. Still though, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad anime. It does have moments where it shines and shows some pretty amazing scenes. Unfortunately, it couldn’t maintain that level of goodness throughout which becomes one of its downfalls. So this isn’t really something that I would personally recommend, but if you’re stuck with nothing to watch, or maybe you’re one those who have a liking for shounen animes with a little bit of romance here and there then why not give this a shot. Who knows, you might come to like it more than I did.
So to provide a quick summary, here are a list of pros and cons:
+ It has a good concept: Science against Magic
+The openings, both sung by Kawada Mami, were awesome J-pop songs
+The art was clean and smooth
+The Science side of the story had a good plotline
+The Accelerator is just a badass antagonist
-The anime was unable to use its full potential and due to half of the story, the magic side, being terrible
-The makers of the anime were trying too hard to make the protagonist of the story, Touma, look badass despite the fact that he was not
-The animation can get a little choppy at times, though this isn’t too noticeable
-The characters are quite cliché
~First and foremost, thanks for reading my review. If you have any comments regarding my review or just want to have a discussion, then leave a comment at my page. I will greatly appreciate it. =)~
The characters themselves are just so two dimensional and uninteresting that you dont care for their story at all. Not to mention they all have to have some gimmick to distinguish them from another character.
As far as genre goes TAMI is a shonen type action show but thats being too generous in my opinion. TAMI’s action scenes never go past 1-3 actions before they have to talk for 90% of the fight about something that wont even matter once the conflict is resolved, and all the main character ever does is punch people.
TAMI isnt necessarily bad but its just so plain that you find yourself wondering why you’re even bothering with it? It tries to be funny but always throws the same gags at you that you just dont care for them. I think theres some wasted potential here and thats a shame because I really wanted to like this show
“When magic and science crosses path, what will happen?” is how I would have liked to start this review. However the answer to that would have simply be “nothing” since, although both sides exists in the same place, there were hardly any interaction between them. So instead, I will begin by asking Index what she meant by accompanying her to the depth of hell. She was hardly present for half the show and during the rare occasions when she is in an episode, she gets sidelined and become a minor character with absolutely no impact to the story (beside biting Touma on the head).
So what happened to those 103,000 magical texts? With the exception of the first few episodes and the last episode or two, where Index as a character actually matters to the plot, there is practically zero reference to the 103,000 magical texts for 80% of the show. Granted the production studio (J.C. Staff) wanted to follow the novel as closely as possible (and they did a very good job at it), it is understandable for the abrupt ending to the story thus far. But it still makes no sense for the story’s centerpiece to be dangling here and there with no sense of purpose in the various story arcs.
If one were to ignore the problems mentioned above, then the overall production quality of Toaru Majutsu no Index is actually quite good. Decent animation from J.C. Staff (though sometimes the distant shots seem lacking in detail) plus a great cast of seiyu make this anime a pleasant watch to those who don’t really mind a poor storyline. Don’t get me wrong though, the mini arcs throughout the show which introduces and help create character developments are great in themselves. However, once the dust settles, it always makes me wonder what happen to the story that was suppose to center around Index.
Character-wise, most were introduced to compliment the particular story arc (with the exception of the main protagonists). Afterward, they will tend to “fade” to the back sometimes making a few seconds appearance here and there with no significance. In terms of character development, not much observable changes occurred for the male protagonist and Index which can be attributed to the faithful following of the novel (since there wasn’t that much matter to talk about at the time of the anime production). On the other hand the co-heroine/main protagonist, Mikoto, of the Railgun series (a spinoff of Toaru Majutsu no Index) did show considerable character growth which makes her shine like a bright star among the group of relatively static characters.
Those familiar with Shana will instantly ring a bell in their head as they watch the first OP of this series. If the OP does not make you go “OMG, this sounds similar to Shana’s OP!”, then perhaps watching the daily interaction between Index and Touma will help ring some bells. To be more precise, one can even replace Index with Shana and voila, you have yourself Shakugan no Shana III. The point I am trying to make here is the similarities between the two anime.
1. From the same production company.
2. At least one of their OP theme is sang by the same singer (Kawada Mami).
3. Shana = Index, Yuji = Touma.
So what am I trying to say here? It means that if you enjoy watching Shakugan no Shana, feel free to give this anime a try. The magician (magic) vs esper (science) theme advertised by Toaru Majutsu no Index does have its selling points, but I just think it desperately need a sequel to really link the various bits and pieces together. I enjoyed the mini arcs (whether they are filler or not), those irrelevant mini stories were very entertaining and they help keep my mind off Index. But once I start thinking deeper into the character ties and relationships, there is just something missing about the purpose of Index. Perhaps a hopeful sequel will fill in the missing puzzles, but as things stand right now the story really hurts the show.
6: Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini
English: Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor
Japanese: DARKER THAN BLACK 流星の双子
MAL Score: 7.46
One night, as meteors streak across the star-studded sky, Shion Pavlichenko becomes a Contractor. Despite her brother’s transformation, Shion’s twin sister Suou continues to live a fairly ordinary life, attending middle school with her friends and getting caught up in the awkwardness of growing up. However, everything changes when her home is invaded by a masked man cloaked in black, destroying any sense of normality she once had. Revealed to possess latent Contractor abilities of her own, Suou is caught between family, friends, and her own sense of purpose as she ventures into the ruthless world of cutthroats and espionage that Contractors call home.
Meanwhile in Tokyo, investigation surrounding Hell’s Gate’s sudden collapse is underway, and prophetic signs of doom point in the direction of a silver-haired doll.
Suou Pavlichenko is a 13 year Eurasian girl whose life suddenly changes on a fateful day when she meets up with Hei. Involved in the mess of politics and war between the contractors, she seeks out on her own quest to find her missing twin, Shion. Alongside her is Hei, a drunk bastard who completely lacks the mannerism and politeness he once had. The personality change might have been necessary in this series as it made things a bit interesting, but it didn’t seem all that good seeing him like that. The storyline, in its individuality served to be interesting though. The protagonist goes through a lot of ordeals throughout her journey. The series also has some graphic and violent killings which made it a little gory at times. The birth and evolution of the contractors was something we had vaguely seen in Kuro no Keiyakusha. The involvement of many groups (CIA, FSB, MI6 and Section 3) could have made for better viewing had they had more air time. They left it a bit incomplete and it felt as if these names were only included to attract attention without proper motive behind it. Also the “Syndicate” that pretty much ruled in Kuro no Keiyakusha was nowhere to be seen, again a disappointment as the whole mysteriousness behind them suddenly disappeared. Altogether though, despite its shortcomings it was somehow good how it ended up being. I guess it may be due to the protagonists’ whole journey from havoc to happiness. As for the name “Gemini of the Meteor”, it wasn’t nearly as important to be kept in the title IMO.
Ryuusei No Gemini had a plethora of characters which made it quite an entertaining prospect to watch. Starting off with Suou, a determined and strong girl entwined between living a life as a human or a contractor. It was touching to see the ordeals she and her school friends went through. Much like a supporting character, July was an example of some nice character development, and his relation with Suou was charming to watch. Hei’s laid-back sake drinking attitude failed to impress me the slightest. And the fact that he was not able to showcase his powers during most of the series made it lamer for me. The agents of Section 3 were pretty good, namely Hizaki and Genma. Hizaki’s remuneration involved kissing someone after the usage of her power added to the humor. Madam Oreille was yet promising character shown but somehow failed to make much of an impact in the Anime. Lot of interesting characters I would say. But somehow they were cramped up in a short series which somehow failed them I believe. They should have been given more time for their characters to be known properly rather than just through some cameo roles.
The original characters were already pretty awesome in how they were made. The new characters were also very nicely put out. From the Russians to the CIA to the Japanese characters, all looked very original. Also the new characters gave the storyline a refreshing experience. The fights were well coordinated and typically good to watch. Hei’s new look was intriguing; Suou’s character was pretty nicely done too. The agents looked good and the whole background of the Anime from Russia to Tokyo was beautiful. The characters are all very nicely drawn and the animation stands out to be pretty good as well.
Sound was another good factor for Ryuusei No Gemini. The OP was a treat to the ears. I particularly liked it. The voices of the characters were also very good. Suou sounded very sweet whenever she used to shout “Tanya”. As there was a mixture of cultures, it’ll be interesting to see how these voices correlate in the dubs that will be out later on. The ED was average I would say. The best thing however would be the background score during the fights. The whole beat-box thing or whatever that was being played surely pepped up the interest to watch. I loved it.
Seeing this series individually without comparing to the previous one and you’ll find that it’s actually good. Although not as epic as Kuro no Keiyakusha, Ryuusei No Gemini offers an entertaining experience with some interesting character portrayals. Combined with good artwork and sound, it is a definite recommendation. Just don’t try and compare it with the first season and you’ll definitely like it.
Still wondering why and how the Heaven/Hell Gates appeared? Still wondering why they brought on an augmented sky that warped into the new one? Still wondering why contractors and dolls became a product of this? Still wondering why their lives are correlated with fallen stars? Still wondering what the motivation of the syndicate was? Still trying to decipher this show’s bullshit?… Well, join the club. In this second season, the writers said “fuck it” once again, as they followed up the events of the first by managing to create something that felt terribly dated from the moment it rolled off the assembly line. It’s a husk of the show’s former self in every regard. The story, despite being more streamlined this time around, was still very uneventful. All it does was drag us along to a nonsense-filled finale that will likely leave all its mysteries and hackneyed bullshit permanently unanswered. It’s the kind of narrative structure when the intent felt like reverse-engineering gone wrong. This is studio Bones after all. A studio that’s become infamous for thrusting their own concepts up their asses.
The 1st season of DTB went from passable action romp to inflated pseudo-concepts by the final stretch of it. And as if that wasn’t enough, now it felt like the staff gave up on having decent coherency among its pseudo-thematic jargon and settled for whatever came to mind instead. So this time around, even the pseudo-concepts don’t make sense. Like a rough draft of a script passed along a circle of “fuck its” and shoulder shrugs, as they rake in the money, tossing what little ideas they had towards the finished product without so much as batting an eye.
Speaking of tossing shit together, the art seemed to have become a victim of complacency as well.
I don’t know how this is possible, but with fewer episodes to worry about and more years to perfect the art style, the 2nd season felt like it brought no visual improvements to the table. By a side by side comparison, very little was made better, instead, a 2-year gap in its production cycle seemed to have left it in a state of stagnation. It’s like the animator team made it back in ’07 and just let it gather up dust until it was time to release it. And when placed against other titles made in the same year, it just pales in comparison. And this isn’t to say that studio Bones couldn’t do any better. They’ve already proven that they could improve their visual and animation efforts as time goes on. Just looking at the visual output between Eureka Seven’s 1st and 2nd season shows that. So seeing how little they cared about improving their craft for DTB’s sequel felt like a cheap blow. It’s a mediocre patch-job that doesn’t deserve any credit whatsoever.
And while I can’t offer it much credit, an aspect of this season that might register with some was the new choice of music.
The great jazz/blues fusion soundtrack of season one took a backseat to a more contemporary House-electronic sound. It’s not a bad soundtrack but when compared to the prequel’s, it feels out of place. It inadvertently strips the show of its familiar charm and alienates it further from its predecessor. The neo-noir backdrop feels out of place when the smoky croon of a Jazz track is replaced by what’s effectively a rave-party anthem. It simply sucks the atmosphere out and replaces it with something more “in the now” as opposed to the timeless feeling. Since musical taste is subjective, I won’t harp on it any further and leave you to decide where you stand on it.
But what isn’t a decision that needs much debating over was the new cast.
With fewer contractors, more people characters in their place, there’s still no decent characterization to be found. They made a big deal about contractors having no irrational emotion in season one but there’s very little differentiating them from other people when they all remain one-note. Also, that sense of maturity that the first season carried for its characters was thrown out the window and replaced with bombastically over-the-top eccentricities. This causes a HUGE tonal shift in how the show is presented and perceived. Similarly to what the switch in musical tones did, this too was a decision that watered down the poignancy that occasionally flicked through in season one. Now, everything was glaringly carefree. They even changed the classy cat to a flying squirrel. LIKE SERIOUSLY? FUCK YOU DTB!
The biggest issue comes with Suou, our new protagonist. She takes up more screen time than necessary and is only good for two things: being an inconsistent character that flip-flops from one tonal speed to the other, or loli fanservice. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she was degraded to becoming a contrived plot-device halfway through the series.
Hei isn’t even the same badass we use to love. The writers added over-bloated angst to his characteristics and made a man who was already lacking in emotional range, to begin with, to be presented as a complete nut job of polarizing extremes. In place of the calm and collected demeanor he once had, we’re instead given a raging alcoholic who slaps little girls in his spare time and drinks himself silly when he felt like it. Of course, he still kills contractors like the cool electric Batman we grew to love but his conflicting characteristics with his supposed “emotionless state” makes it harder for anyone to care for him anymore. He simply became a puppet of the poorly written screenplay, being inserted whenever the writers saw fit.
But perhaps the worst replacement was that of the side characters introduced for this season. The cast included a tranny bartender with a lolicon obsessed son, Misaki the walking plot-device, antagonists that border on luny, and a sleuth of people that aren’t worth the mention. Needless to say, the cast here was far inferior to the show’s previous standards. They served no other purpose than being aggravating tagalongs that no one ever wanted.
And really, this season itself was just that: an aggravating tagalong that we’re forced to accept as a continuation. Instead of getting a decent successor, we’re instead given a half-baked effort that couldn’t stand on its own. Bones dropped the ball in every conceivable level.
Disappointment… I found nothing here but unsubstantial fights and cheap attempts at fanservice. This is NOT how you do a sequel to a neo-noir action romp. It doesn’t even work as pure schlock entertainment. Apparently, even Pizza Hut said “oh hell no, fuck that” since they too were nowhere to be found, wanting nothing to do with this uninspired continuation.
There are bad sequels then there’s DTB’s sequel. A sequel that literally scrubbed the show of its previous identity and STILL didn’t answer any questions. As it is now, I can only recommend this to completionists. An underwhelming mess that sullied what little credentials the series was desperately clinging onto.
The defining feature of the entire series: how they manage to draw every character with dead eyes throughout the series, yet expect us to enjoy ourselves. The defining scene: horrible side character creation 1, dreadlock kids, sobbing and venting to horrible side character creation 2, his crossdressing dad, culminating in being more likely to make you laugh than cry as he sobs and whines into his cake. The defining question: how they expect us to believe Hei can still kick everyone in the world’s ass with no powers and reduced to “living the good life” (that one was a minor meme joke, do not worry if you did not get it).
There are already other reviews that detail exactly how the plot is (stupidly) aimless and bereft of basically most of the useful details it should have, so I am not going to rehash that. What I will touch on is how the plot is awful with the characters it uses: it introduces lots of new characters, all poor creations that are impossible to care about; it has a lot of short, impossibly one sided battles; it gives random annoying flashes to some apparently crazy event involving Yin, with absolutely no real explanation as to why they happened; it has random, annoying flashes to these blonde twin girls, who speak in tittery, annoying voices and “say mysterious things” i.e. nonsensoleum; it has cop lady chasing desperately after Li, despite the fact that she has no real insight to anything in this series, never does anything, and just wastes our time; it has former cool cat Mao back as an awful, ridiculously (poorly drawn) cartoony flying squirrel like creature (they called it a mamonga or something, whatever). Get the picture?
This version of Darker Than Black just tries to establish how SAD and AWFUL everything is for everyone, and it definitely does a good job of showing viewers an awful time. Of course, just like people are unwilling to be objective about Code Geass 2 since they loved Code Geass 1, similarly no one will be objective about Darker Than Black 2 since they loved Darker Than Black 1. I cannot wait until the OVAs come out to “connect the seasons” and people act like it redeems all the flaws.
5: Casshern Sins
English: Casshern Sins
Japanese: キャシャーン SINS
MAL Score: 7.52
In a distant future, Earth has become a wasteland and humanity as we know it has died out. All that remains are sentient robots. They were supposed to be able to live forever—until the one called Luna died and The Ruin started. Their bodies will rust, and there is nothing that can be done to fix it. Now the robots are left only to contemplate their deaths, kept going only by the rumor that if they eat the one called Casshern they will gain immortality.
Casshern knows nothing about his past, why he exists or what he is, but he must find out or he will face the constant torment of being hunted by robots who don’t want to die. Casshern leaves death wherever he goes, but he must face it if he is to find out the truth of this world.
Like most good shows, Casshern is amazing in a number of areas and wouldn’t be the same without any of them. The soundtrack, voice acting, animation, directing, fights, dialog, art – everything aligns just right to create a show that is just about perfect for what it is. I’ll be getting into detail on that now.
Casshern Sins has a very powerful and gripping soundtrack composed by Kaoru Wada (Princess Tutu, Tekkaman Blade, To Heart). The songs are all symphonic, ranging from minimalist and pretty to towering and sinister. The loud songs are very intensely dramatic and dark to the point that some (like the first track Sins) sound outright evil. (Interestingly, that song sounds like the symphonic version of an Opeth song.) The calmer songs are usually very airy and often acoustic-guitar driven. They definitely evoke images of Casshern’s world where you’ve heard them in the background. While either type is great, I prefer the calm songs if only because the more dramatic ones would go better with the show.
There is something very mysterious but also very charming about these calmer songs. They bring a sense of wonder mixed with familiarity. It’s a sense like seeing something totally new, but so enthralling that it feels like home. The ultimate song that captures this feeling is ‘Memory Past’ which is the song that usually played whenever Casshern met someone new and learned their story. The closest real musical comparison I have for this OST is the music in Phendrana Drifts in Metroid Prime which has always been some of my favorite composition. In the context of the series, all of the songs work superbly well to add ten extra layers of tone onto the already tone-tacular series. The music is notable straight from episode 1, which I guess it’d have to be to make me go and find the OST.
In addition to the OST, there has been a Best Theme Collection from this series. The show has one opening theme (Aoi Hana by color bottle) and 3 endings (Reason by KANA, Aoi Kage by Otoya Kichiemon, and Hikari to Kage by Kuno Shinji), the second of which is only used for one episode. The best theme collection has the op and main eds in TV size, several instrumental versions of Aoi Kage, two original tracks by Wada Kaoru, two important vocal insert songs from te series (Sky and A Path by Nami Miyahara who voices Lyuze), and finally, both the original Tatakae! Casshan! theme and a new, heavy version of the song by Otoya Kichiemon.
I personally didn’t care much for the 2 main eds, but I found myself completely unable to skip the op for even one episode. It is easily one of my favorite opening songs in a while. Aoi Kage and the modern Tatakae! Casshan! are both awesome because they manage to play heavy metal acoustics. Anything that can do that is automatically awesome. The old-school Tatakae! Casshan! is the ultimate great touch for lovers of old-school tatsunoko songs. However, great as that all is, Sky and A Path were the real reasons I was interested in this release. These songs made episode 8 of the show amazing and reappear at many great moments later in the show. Both are extemely pretty and wonderful, and Nami Miyahara’s English is excellent (evidently she studied English in Australia).
It’s worth making the statement that Casshern Sins has some of the coolest sound effects ever. The effects during fights are visceral, intense, and completely full of impact. Care was taken to make the sound effects just right and give every hit that needed extra edge. I’m thinking that they made a lot of the effects in the studio, seeing as there were very organic sounds of like pots breaking or the creak of metal. It’s pretty rare I think these days for so much craft to go into sound effects in anime, so it’s pretty notable when it does.
As far as voice acting goes, this show amassed a royal fuckton of talent. Being as there were so many minor characters, a lot of voices were required, and Madhouse didn’t skip out on giving every single character a standout voice. For starters, Casshern himself is voiced by Tohru Furuya (certainly most notable as freaking Amuro Ray, as well as Tuxedo Mask, Pegasus Seiya, and Yamcha) which is a very interesting performance. The voice of Casshern is certainly unique, sounding strong but never stern, and in pain but never really weak. The voice adds a lot of mystery to the character, sounding like the robot he is, who doens’t quite understand emotion even though he seems to feel it. The best part though is his wails in agony which are used frequently when Casshern’s body self-repairs. That dude’s wails are frightening.
Nami Miyahara plays Lyuze with the perfect mixture of resolve, confusion, rage, and love. Like Casshern, hers is a very distinct voice. Yuko Minaguchi (Videl – Dragonball, Yawara, Akiko – Kanon) does a completely superb job as Ringo. She should be cast as every single little kid in anime. I’ve never heard a kid voice that managed to sound young and yet in no way annoying. Best kid voice ever. ‘Cho‘ reprises his role as every old man in anime, lol. Akiko Yajime (Diva – Blood+, Shin-chan, Relena Peacecraft, Kuu – Haibane – damn that’s range) brings her mysterious voice to Luna which tricks you with it’s very regal sound until you start to see another side… well that’s a spoiler. Kenji Utsumi (Shenlong – DBZ, Zodd – Berserk, Lt. Armstrong – FMA) is Braiking Boss who he played in the old version of the show as well, bringing a nostalgia factor.
Toshiyuki Morikawa (Who is in everything. His list is totally nuts.) is awesome as Dio. He plays the perfect rival character. His voice has a darkness to it, but not like an evil bad-dude, more like a man driven by dark purposes but full of resolve, which Dio is. Mami Koyama (Lunch – Dragonball – yes, most of the cast worked on Dragonball, Balalaika – Black Lagoon) brings the thunder as Leda who is convincingly evil and conceited, but also has an inner emotional side. Some of my favorite minor character performances include Mami Koyama’s second roll as Lizbell in episode 7 (which is interestng because Koyama is Tohru Furuya’s ex-wife, which when you think about it makes certain scenes very awkward), Tomoko Akiya whose performance as Sophita is borderline creepy and very fun, and Taeka Kawata who plays Nico, the little girl whose brain has been fried.
Casshern Sins is animated by Madhouse. The dudes who brought you (alphabetically) Black Lagoon, Boogiepop Phantom, Death Note, Dennou Coil, Gunslinger Girl, Nana, everything Satoshi Kon, Texhnolyze, Trigun, and X, just to name a few. If you’ve seen none of those, I’ll just say it – they have incredibly high production quality and have been around forever. To give you an idea of how high their budget is, the first half of Casshern Sins aired simultaneously with three other Madhouse shows, the second half with one, all of which had unfaltering high-quality animation throughout. There is pretty much no other studio who can do something like that. So it really comes as no surprise when I say that Casshern Sins has incredibly beautiful animation.
The most instantly and consistently notable thing about Casshern’s art is the luscious backgrounds. The background art is almost incomparably beautiful – almost. Probably only one show matches up to it, it being Mushi-shi, which is why it’s no surprise that Yoshihiko Umakoshi was the art director and character designer for both series (a dual job he’s done for Zipang, Street Fighter Alpha, and Boys Over Flowers, none of which I’ve seen. He also did it for Air Master which doesn’t matter because that show is fugly, probably thanks to budget.) I’ve actually watched an interview with this guy on one of the Mushi-shi DVDs and while he is very boring to listen to, I do remember him saying that he was a perfectionist and would always stress that there be boatloads of detail in the backgrounds, which I guess he’s still up to.
Casshern’s art is almost always barren, lifeless, and cold. The world of Casshern faces ruin (basically, apocalypse) and so there is little life to be found. The landscape is jagged and covered in large mountains, hills, valleys, craters, and deserts of sand and snow. Remnants of civilization can be found, some cold cities have buildings that still tower while others have fallen apart and buildings have become decrepit husks. Some places have become so dry and ruined that the ground has actually crystallized and cracks under every step. Occasionally, though, there are places of lush, brimming life to be found. Secret gardens surviving in caves or wellsprings and oceans. There is definitely a sense of mystery to the world that you can find anything if you look around enough. And, as a character in one episode teaches Casshern, every place in this world is beautiful. As a big fan of dystopic art, I found myself completely enraptured in these wastelands as much as I was mystified by the lush outcropping of life in unexpected places.
Umakoshi’s character designs are drop-dead gorgeous. It takes skills to make a masked superhero with a big red C on his chest and ornamental horns on his helmet fit into a dark, somber setting. But, somehow, he’s done it. Casshern looks like a badass but also looks like he fits into the setting. He is supposed to be a beautiful person, and it’s certainly visible in his design. All of the characters are very tall and lanky, almost like CLAMP designs, but have an added sharpness to them and are actually consistent. I can easily call them some of the best character designs I’ve seen in anime.
What’s most impressive, though, is that a definitive 70s style remains ingrained into the designs. Every one has absurdly big hair and their facial features are very old-school. However, these elements have been perfectly crafted so that the designs still look modern and not ridiculous as they often do when new shows try to use old style. The robots especially represent the old school with their very basic designs, but they have a bloodthirstiness about their designs that makes it unsurprising when they are killing machines. Overall, I’d say my favorite designs from the series were definitely Lyuze and Luna.
Naturally, since this is Madhouse, there are also plenty of exemplary animation techniques. Unfortunately, ANN doesn’t have any animators listed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hiroyuki Imaishi’s (director of Gurren Lagann and animator of all those wacky scenes in shows like FLCL, Mahoromatic, and even FullMetal Alchemist) name ended up on that list since his trademark over-the-top and hyperactive style is used in many of the fights. The show features a lot of ‘sketchy lines‘ and badass shadow effects. The fight scenes often contain mind-blowing animation tricks that will make people who notice these things cream a huge load.
I think that series director and storyboarder Shigeyasu Yamauchi probably had the biggest impact on the way this series turned out. As you can see on his ANN page, he directed a bunch of the Dragon Ball/Z and Saint Seiya movies and had involvement with their main series (and going by their ANN pages, he would have had experience with nearly all of this show’s seiyuu during those times). The experience with those series can be seen heavily in the fight scenes. When Casshern and Dio fight, nearly every strike rockets someone into a wall which explodes just as the other fighter shoots at them like a bullet for the next blow. There are several scenes where the ground around Dio craters under the sheer fluctuation of his power. Yamauchi definitely wanted to bring the scope and intensity of a DBZ fight to this series, which is something I personally have always wanted to see done in a serious anime. It is made a thousand times better by the huge budget of the show which allows the fights to look amazing, cool, and fluid.
Yamauchi definitely has a great sense of dramatic cinematography. Every shot is carefully composed to look as cool as possible, with characters nearly always in some kind of dramatic pose and the light hitting them just right. This is taken to an almost hilarious extent in some of Casshern’s fights against robot armies because he will literally attack them by kind of jumping at them, striking an epic pose, and somehow causing them to explode. Lighting is impeccable and the use of color is very important. Most of the show has a sort of blue and grey hue to it, but when other colors appear they are striking and noticeable against the backdrop of blue. Overall, I think Yamauchi just does a splendid job and probably had a lot of fun with it.
The overall plot in Casshern Sins is so simple that I could detail the whole thing thoroughly in a small paragraph (but I won’t for spoilers’ sake.) The show’s focus is more on the themes that drive the series and the characters representing or interacting with those themes. That said, while the plot is simple, it is very well-presented and interesting, making it a great driving force for the action and themes.
All of the show’s themes relate directly to the conflict between life and death. The dark, barren world of Casshern is on it’s way to ruin and death is ever-present. Every person is directly grappling with death and the end of the world, and those who don’t die just from the ruin usually die at the hands of other robots, especially if they try to attack Casshern. There are few characters who survive their own episode, much less the whole show.
What Casshern, who is immortal, learns in his travels through the dying world is how death effects different people (usually robots). Most of the world desperately clings to life. The strong robots fight and kill each other constantly to steal each other’s parts and try to prolong their lives. The weak search for any means of survival, clinging to little hopes or loosing to despair. Some merely accept the ruin as pleasantly as they can, but more often than not they will turn from this mindset at the slightest sight of hope – namely, the supposed immortality that one will gain if they devour Casshern.
However, not everyone is desperately clinging to life. Casshern encounters some robots and humans who aspire to something without the fear of death. Some teach him that the world is beautiful even in ruin, that there is hope in the world, or that they can live forever in the things that they leave behind. Casshern’s conflict becomes whether or not eternal life is justified or death necessary. He is torn between the sadness of death and the liveliness brought out by it’s presence.
The themes of each episode are interesting and deep, sometimes moving, and more so as they culminate into the over-arching theme. Casshern, as a stark contrast to the world around him that he desperately tries to understand, makes for the perfect receptacle to these themes.
Casshern Sins features surprisingly complex main characters in light of it’s simplistic plot and usually episodic nature. Casshern himself starts off as basically a blank slate with no memories and only knowledge as far as he learns from others. As he experiences the world, he has to weigh his experiences against each other to figure out his own beliefs. His character is kept interesting by the conflicting ideas he develops in relation to those experiences.
Lyuze’s conflict is between her desire to kill Casshern because of him ruining the world, effectively killing her sister, and her growing care for him and changing perception of the world. Casshern’s first companion, Friender, has some pretty great development considering that he is a robot dog who cannot speak. Friender’s emotions are represented through actions, and in those actions we see how he slowly transitions from hating Casshern to trusting him and eventually both protecting him and keeping him under control.
Without spoiling, the villains, Leda and Dio, have their own interesting development. Dio has dreamed of nothing but killing Casshern, while Leda is using dio to try and make the world her own. Each of them is thoroughly explored and developed. Luna, Oji, and Braiking Boss are also great characters with a lot of development, but those are spoilers.
There are a whole plethora of minor characters, most of whom appear just for one episode. Every one of these characters feels alive – they don’t merely expunge their beliefs onto Casshern, but show him the way that they live (or, of course, die) through their actions. Characters come in all variety of personality, shape, and size. (inside joke) Casshern could be said to have the best pseudo-harem since Ginko from Musi-shi.
Casshern Sins is episodic much in the same sense as Cowboy Bebop. The chains of episodic parts are broken up by plot-related episodes, the major characters get their own introspective episodes, and the last group of episodes form the conclusion. There were a couple of less-than-amazing episodes (I remember finding 15 and 16 a bit boring and 21 is kind of ill-done but the next episode justifies it) but otherwise, every episode was great.
All of the plot episodes were superb, especially whenever Casshern and Dio fought, which was always quite epic. Besides the wonderful climactic episodes, I pretty much had 4 favorites. Episode 7, where a woman in a high tower teaches Casshern about the beauty of this ruined world – Episode 8, where a woman wants to spread hope through her song – Episode 12, where a man tries to paint his city his color so that the world will remember him – and Episode 18, and excellent cuckoo nest episode into Lyuze’s psyche.
As I stated in the beginning, Casshern Sins is definitely not for everyone. If you like all kinds of anime regardless of genre and are easily interested in something without it having to be fast-paced, Casshern may be for you. If you’ve always wished that the philosophical plots of pretentious anime would mix with the good fun and awesome fights of shounen action, Casshern may be for you. However, if slowness leaves you bored or action leaves you disinterested, you’ll want to stay away. For me, the show was everything I could have wanted and filled a niche that I’ve long waited for an anime to fill.
Casshern Sins is a remarkable feat, in that it somehow captures every single, minute detail of the human spirit. It achieves this by starting from the very basics and quickly developing on the basics as the series moves on.
One thing that really took me in, is how Casshern Sins truly captured my fear of death. It achieved this through an odd but clever display of writing, by showing us that even the machines that we make will some day fall into decline as rusting scrap metal.
I for one like to identify myself through the materials that I collect and make, and even this review right here is constructing another aspect of myself. Casshern Sins asks, what is the point of all this? I believe the materials that remain after my death will serve as a reminder of my existence, but nothing can escape the harsh reality of time and a millenium from now, it is an almost inescapable fact that those materials that I had so carefully constructed, so thoughtfully made, will just vanish. It is quite frightening and puts true emphasis on the word death.
Things change however, a chance of hope comes along. An ideal that preserves life, immortality.
Many religious affiliations pervade Casshern Sins series. God from the perspective of Catholicism promises a chance of eternal life, I make this comparison as Sins as a robot stands as a metaphor for this deity, a promise for immortality. Building on that concept, the precious beautiful skin of his body only serves to emphasize the prize of such a trait, but being immortal comes at a price. A price that one may not expect. As time wears on, one discovers an infinite sea of potentials, this quest to transcend the boundaries between being just a simple robot engineered to destroy, to becoming ‘human’, not physically but consciously has begun, but once this has been achieved. Who is left to bear witness it? Even though this concept and theme is not exactly original, it must be said that Casshern Sins is particularly noteworthy on how it manages to effectively show this journey of emotional discovery in every excruciatingly painful detail.
Watching this show reminded me of Paulo Coelho’s quote “It is the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary” and it is the simple things in life that Casshern Sins detaches from and allows us to witness as realistically as possible; both the efforts and dramas to recapture these important and sometimes trivial things, but it is these aspects that only elevate the potency of Sins journey. Even when the helping hand of a loyal friend may seem far away, capturing that relatable and simple essence of loneliness has rarely ever made such a profound impact.
A negative aspect to the story can largely be centered on the extremely pessimistic nature of the series and it can arguably fall into the category of angsty melodrama rather than insightful, and many of the concepts that are brought up through the entire series can come across as completely redundant by the series conclusion simply because of the handling. One scene that I wanted to bring up in particular is a scene where a robot finally submits to her desire of wanting to be immortal after reflecting for an entire episode that she wants to die naturally. Whilst it was certainly a powerful scene at the time, thinking back on it, the series only seems to want to be as depressing as possible. Whilst this isn’t always a bad thing, it comes across as forced, and lacks a level of fluidity.
However, with those observations out of the way, it still can’t be dismissed that the overall series has very solid writing and is riveting in how it plays out. Never failing to provide a delicate balance of answers to the many questions that the series asks.
Much of Casshern Sins’ characters are truly integral to the story that the show is telling, and because of the theme heavy story in respect with the series episodic nature. It is only inevitable that many new characters are constantly introduced in order to represent another aspect of a philosophical question/s that the series imposes. A lot of the characters become representations for the themes of mostly hope and despair, but entangles within many varying levels of regret, remorse, guilt, jealousy, occasional romantic struggle and sometimes optimism.
Considering the series episodic nature, a large majority of the episodes do an absolutely splendid job of building characters in such a short time and it is a truly commendable aspect because at times I was almost pushed to tears in some of the more powerful episodes. Saying that, I will have to discredit some of the episodes for having an inconsistent quality, this inconsistency is mostly due to the characters that are being presented, but for the most part the character development is well above average and occasionally phenomenal but these cases are few and far between.
I can only appreciate the characters so far though, because as I said previously there is a varying level of quality in the development of many of the characters, another problem I had with the characters is that many of them have very similar intentions throughout the entire series, it can get a little repetitive at times. Adding onto that; some characters only seemed to be placed there to plunge Sins into a more intense state of guilt and regret. Even though this can be perceived as a problem. The fact remains that this can be ignored to an extent because these characters show that this the series is remaining true to the premise that it has given and does not cop-out, even at the moments when the series becomes unbearable.
Many of the motivations for the characters are understandable, as a dying breed of life suffering from an incurable disease; I imagine it would only be natural for someone to carry out desperate measures when they have been pushed to their breaking point. This is one theme that Casshern Sins portrays better than anything else.
The series artwork does nothing but do what it sets out to do, abysmal and ruined, wrapped up in an unusual mixture of bluish-greyish brownish textures that builds the apocalyptic landscape with powerful ease.
The series takes time to build on its own sorrow in order to emphasize some lovely landscapes that capture the quintessential and brooding style that is reminiscent of an Edward Hoppers painting, two that come to mind are “The Lighthouse at Two Lights”, and “Screaming Monkey Drive In”, pleasant to look at but cringing with a landscape of heart-ache and desperation.
Much of the animation is carefully designed. One noticeable moment was a touch of rust painted below the eye-line of a robot. The moment was heart-breaking and is something that took me by absolute surprise. Rust is deterioration and its symbolic connotation within this scene was used to its utmost potential.
I always look forward to bear witness to the fascinating ideas of art that series from Madhouse Animation studios have to offer and Casshern Sins is a beautiful edition to the collection that is sure to become an influence in the future.
One thing I noticed about the OST was the consistently monotonous style across the board. Which certainly works in the series favor, but a couple of tracks stood out for me: the first one being “Roamer” as it captured the image of one man, simply standing a-top a hill graced in a red sunset, contemplating as to where his feet will take him next, it’s a classic pose and one that holds much weight.
The second one was “Memory Past”, I’m not entirely sure what it was about this track but it just pushed a button in me. It was like I was floating in a sea of water feeling the waves softly carrying me. An interesting perspective to say the least, but I couldn’t help picturing myself as a robot resting in the sand of the shallows feeling the water brush over me. It was a vivid moment, and a beautifully foolish one, it is simply a moment of passing time awaiting the day of no-return.
At the time of watching this series. I think I was in the exact state of mind that was required to enjoy Casshern Sins and I finished it up in a marathon sitting. I tend to love a nice happy show as much as the next fellow but my thirst for drama can be over-bearing at times and Casshern Sins knew how to keep me glued to the couch. I was engaged with every detail that was playing out before me and every bit of terror, every moment of blissful decadence only served to invoke a greater emotional response from me. Those special moments of heart-ache scattered throughout, only serves my interest as keeping Casshern Sins as a worthy investment of my time for years to come.
From what has been discussed I believe that Casshern Sins is a fantastic work, capturing every rigid emotion of the human spirit and melding every element so effectively. Constantly serving as a reminder to the breadth of questions that have been brought up and sought after in this series. Deep, often beautiful questions that serves as a recipe for sympathy and empathy towards all its characters as you bear witness to there destruction.
I find it difficult to recommend this series mostly due to its overbearingly negative nature, and time has shown that not many people like pessimistic series. Nevertheless, for all of those out there who can withstand or perhaps immerse themselves in Casshern Sins battlefield of depression, they will surely find solace in the beauty of its melancholy.
Here’s a good test whether you may or may not like it.
Are you an anime fan one who:
A) Tolerates a continuously oppressively grim atmosphere and a snail-paced plot?
B) Forgives gaping plot holes for the sake of appreciating the heavy symbolism and existentialism?
C) Is fine with an acrobatic fist-fight for every single episode?
D) Doesn’t mind sparse dialogue, one-note and melodramatic characters, and numerous silent introspections?
E) All of the above
If you picked choice E, the chances are in your favor and you may like this style over substance anime.
**No Spoilers really. And I’ll be vague in the analysis as for the most part, you should be the one doing that. Keep in mind, that it can be a depressing anime. **
Concepts, Character, Story-
It doesn’t have much of a plot but has some unique and interesting concepts.
The first half starts episodically, featuring heavily on the surrounding bleak world. Our main protagonist, Casshern, wanders around the barren wasteland and sees how the various humans and robots react towards this post-apocalyptic event that he caused. Suffering from amnesia, he intends to find answers in his placement for this world. Meanwhile, the second half starts explaining the mysteries of what occurs. But it never gets fully resolved and makes gigantic jumps in the narrative. There were sudden shifts in characterization and in the end, becomes incredibly ambiguous.
As for the cast of characters, “naturally wooden” would be the best way to describe them.
The main quintet of Casshern, Lyuze, Ringo, Ouji and Friender appear one-note and simple to evaluate. Their dialogue is sparse, often calling each other’s name many times or simply staying silent the entire time in an artistic way. Also, Casshern may seem also too melodramatic at first, but very slowly develops because of the other characters. The antagonists and robots (if I can even call them antagonists) have simple motives but gets confusing as it changes pace in the second half and stumbles itself near the end.
Regardless of their flat characterization, they give out further meaning towards this post-apocalyptic world in a crucial, yet subtle way. However, for Casshern Sins, it becomes a double-edged sword as non-recurring secondary characters of each episode suffer from redundancy. There are no surprises from seeing what may occur to them (it’s quite predictable and repetitive), but taken upon further necessary examination, they provide some heavy symbolism that manages to be new in its own right episodically.
In all, it depicts a metaphorical setting that not many anime generally would take. There are lengths for ambiguity for it and different interpretations on what they may mean. However, most of the themes are rooted in existentialism and the meaning of life.
Granted, despite its slow pacing and episodic format, I had to binge watch this over the course of 3 days as I’ll end up forgetting the impact of the setting and atmosphere.
Sound and Art/Animation-
As for the OST, Kaoru Wada made it seem like a déjà vu for his InuYasha’s OST. Seriously, I could replace some of the tracks and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. However, it does well to bring out the bleak aspects of the atmosphere and manages to blend into the ambiance. The opening “Aoi Hana” by Color Bottle has a catchy sound that I like but doesn’t fit well overall.
On the other hand, “A Path” sung by Nami Miyahara has some pretty good English pronunciations (even more so with the English version by Caitlin Glass) and bears weight to the overall themes to the anime. It’s very emotionally moving, but it noticeably gets repeated a couple times, though.
Voice acting for both English and Japanese carry out their part when necessary and manages to project the character’s angst for catharsis. One thing that I may have overlooked would be the sound effects. The visceral crunches of the iron clad robots and the most minor of movements such as rustling fabric embellish the complexion of its environment even when dialogue remains tacit. And there are occasions of a show-and-don’t-tell presentation.
When it comes visually, it does well for it. It’s Madhouse what do you expect.
The brown rusting of the robots gives a good contrast to the azure sky. The details are quite beautiful to gaze especially since not much else is going on. The specks of dust and other particles splinter into the air on many occasions and it’s very aesthetically pleasing especially with the flora that sometimes gets presented.
Childlike character designs are juxtaposed towards its more depressing background. The contours are bold and sleek but details are quite simple. The animation features very solid figures with hand-to-hand combat, although I can’t help but easily see the numerous repetitions of each scene. I distinctly remember certain fights and robots being re-used. Because of these repetitions, it makes it feel even more monotonous. It’s a bit unique though as choreographed scenes quickly pan to the smaller details of the area rather than focusing on the characters, having that elegant flair.
While certainly not the most high-budgeted and most amazing animation, its presentation and style is what makes work well for the atmosphere and the anime as a whole.
Enjoyment- 9/10 (first 15 episodes)
7/10 (latter part)
What made me enjoy this anime would be its world. The pacing is intentionally slow and not hamfisted with details, allowing for some thought-provoking ideas on existentialism to leak through. It establishes that ambiance and truly makes it a post-apocalyptic world. Because of this, even if I found many scenes to be melodramatic and not relatable, it manages to get me emotionally that some other anime can’t pull off.
It takes the conventional heroism where the main character is OP, and there are continuous strings of fights for a sense of justice. However, it subverts it as the fights are never thrilling, mostly everyone (including the antagonists) are victims of the decaying society, and the meaning to continue to pursue a goal is grimly lost as one mindlessly wanders around the world, knowing that he is different and must be alone as he loses everyone around him.
Once it starts trying to unravel its mystery, my focus shifted towards that and I was expecting some sort of large revelation that would solve everything. But it doesn’t. Near the end, the pacing speeds up, makes a large shift in unresolved details, and fizzles out in the end.
If I would make an analogy, it’s kind of like Ouji’s dilapidated jeep. It works well slowly, but when it puts the pedal to the metal and makes a large U-turn, the rusted parts start crumbling away because of the Ruin. At least there is still some meaning for that ending.
Overall- a mid-high 7/10 (Good, not average)
The flaws are apparent such as its monotonous pacing and unrealistic characters. If taken at face-value, this anime will be a terrible chore. This anime is not the most accessible as it doesn’t cater the audience’s general accustomed tastes. However, its quality is mostly based on the eye of the beholder through individual experience and appreciation for analyzing. If read in-between the lines in its atmospheric presentation, it will be a unique experience that few ever dwell upon.
4: Toaru Kagaku no Railgun
English: A Certain Scientific Railgun
MAL Score: 7.70
The student-filled Academy City is at the forefront of scientific advancement and home to the esper development program. The seven “Level 5” espers are the most powerful in Academy City, and ranked third among them is middle schooler Mikoto Misaka, an electricity manipulator known as “The Railgun.”
When strange incidents begin occurring throughout the city, she finds each crime to be connected to the elusive “Level Upper,” a legendary device that allegedly increases the esper level of its user. As the situation escalates, it becomes apparent that there is more to the Level Upper than meets the eye, and that Academy City may be a far more twisted place than the glamorous utopia it appears to be.
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun focuses on Mikoto and her friends—and the dangerous situations they find themselves in—as they get caught up in the matter of the Level Upper. As Mikoto says, “There’s never a dull moment in this city.”
All is not lost though, as while it is rare that a spinoff can proclaim itself to be as good as, if not better than, the original work, there are some shows that do fit the bill. Frasier (Cheers), CSI: NY and Miami, Torchwood (Dr. Who), Mork & Mindy (Happy Days), and a small number of other titles are widely regarded as at least equal to the original works.
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun can also add its name to that list..
Unlike Toaru Majutsu no Index this series is not actually based on the light novels by Kamachi Kazuma, but is instead based on a spinoff manga by Fuyukawa Motoi. Unlike the Index series the spinoff focuses on Misaka Mikoto, the “Railgun” from the original series. Once more the action takes place in Academy City as Mikoto and her friends are beset by strange earthquakes, conspiracies, friendship issues, and all manner of hijinks.
Like the original series the format of Railgun uses an amalgamation of episodic and multi-chapter arcs however, much like Index, the series is also flawed in terms of its plot because of this. While the series has a reasonably enjoyable story, the tendency to jump from one focus to another like frog on a hot rock is detrimental to the flow of the plot. It’s unfortunate as the format is similar to that adopted by GitS: SAC, however the big difference between the two shows is that where GitS: SAC provided food for thought, Railgun neglects this in favour of audience pleasing fillers (if the audience is juvenile that is).
That said, the plot has some interesting aspects to it, however the lack of a timeframe means that viewers may become a tad confused as to the ordering of events, especially if one tries to correlate the occurences in Index with those in Railgun.
The biggest downside to the format of Railgun though, is the fact that the more interesting aspects of the show are never fully explored due to the lack of focus, something which would have given this show the edge that it really needs.
While the plot may have its issues, the art and animation for Railgun is definitely a step up from Index. The characters follow the design of the manga and the original series, and while this may promote a certain sense of continuity, it’s also a downside as well, as the character design becomes a little stale over the course of the show (i.e. too much of the same).
Backgrounds and settings are generally bright and colourful, and the scenery is very much in keeping with the style of the original series. The animation is generally smooth, however there are moments when the characters move in a truly ludicrous manner, something which can ruin a good action scene.
The one thing I do question is the fanservice, as it’s clearly surplus to requirements. Granted the series is nowhere near the same level as some I could mention, however this is a showthat didn’t really need to go that extra mile just to please the fans, and the story would have been more enjoyable without all the pandering.
Railgun is generally well served in the acting department. Satou Rina and Arai Satomi reprise their roles from Index as Mikoto and Kuroko, and they are joined by Itou Kanae and Toyosaki Aki (Saten Ruiko and Uiharu Kazari respectively), to form the main core of characters. However, while the actresses are all experienced, there are occasions when the roles are really “hammed up”, particularly when it comes to relationship issues.
As for the music, the show has a decent variety of thematic tracks which are generally well used when required, however there are also occasions where the music is clearly at odds with the on screen action. The generally upbeat style of music is reflected in the two OPs and two of the EDs used in the series. The ED for episode 12 is more melodic and has a slightly bittersweet sentiment to it which serves as a nice counterpoint to the ending of that particular arc.
The biggest surprise of this series is the characters. In a strange irony, they are both the best aspect of Railgun, but also its worst. The lack of plot focus is, in part, made up for by the development of the main cast, especially Ruiko who, in terms of actual character growth, is developed more than the other three girls. Now many fans may argue with that perspective, however I will point out that of the four main girls, it’s Ruiko who not only changes the most, but also endures the most.
Now, I did mention that the characters were also the worst part of Railgun didn’t I? Well, the reason for this is that while the characters do receive a degree of development, it simply isn’t enough to justify their actions. The lack of plot focus only exacerbates the problem, and the show is littered with semi developed characters. In addition to this, the usage of comic relief based fanservice (e.g. Kuroko’s behaviour towards Mikoto), washes away what little development had gone before. While the characters are engaging enough in their own way, the show could have done with putting more effort into the plot and characters, and less into making money from the hormone crazed masses.
With all of the problems I’ve mentioned, many might think that I didin’t enjoy Railgun, when in actuality, I did. The show is entertaining as a no brain action romp, and had the potential, along with Index, to be something truly great. While I may regard Railgun as a wasted opportunity, it isn’t actually a bad show at all, and many people may find something to keep them insterested.
In all honesty though, Railgun, like Index, had a great deal more potential than it actually delivers. The concept of both series is inventive and imaginative, however the execution, especially in Railgun, falls flat due to the desire to make money.The biggest example of how this impacts the show is the level of fanservice throughout the series (one whole episode, for example, is nothing more than a swimsuit buffet). It rapidly becomes obvious that the one of the main purposes of this series is to pander to hordes who love Mikoto, and while giving the public what they want isn’t a bad thing, sometimes a show is better off not doing so.
On the plus side though, at least Toaru Kagaku no Railgun is one of the few spinoffs that’s as good as the original story.
Academy City is a city that thrives on those who are espers — who are special — whether they already have powers or are trying to attain them. Everyone is reaching towards their ideal self, but some people don’t care what methods get used. The pursuit of the “next level” is absolute. If our limitations only exist so we can surpass them, should there be a limit to how far we can go to get there?
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun, or A Certain Scientific Railgun, follows the events around Misaka Mikoto and her core group of friends and their exploits within the City. They are students, aiming to better their powers as espers. But in a city with a concentrated amount of people with special abilities, it’s only natural for the criminally-minded to try to carve out their own bit of power at the expense of others. To combat such an element and maintain civil order, the organization Judgment exists. Having a free-willed, ace-in-the-hole player like Misaka who keeps people in line all by herself doesn’t hurt either.
Misaka (affectionately dubbed “Biribiri”) is one of the most powerful espers in Academy City. Her ability to generate and manipulate electricity makes her a force that most overconfident thugs learn too late shouldn’t have been reckoned with. Kuroko is her best friend, a crazy and hyperactive girl whose yuri-obsession with her beloved “Onee-sama” is hilarious despite constant rejection. Teleportation of objects (herself included) is her esper proficiency, making her one of the more menacing opponents to come up against, despite the diminutive and cute appearance. Uiharu is the demure techie: easily embarrassed, but a wizard at hacking or culling information from any network. As a member of Judgment, she is often the “eye-in-the-sky” for Kuroko when they take action.
In a place brimming with espers, Saten is the most fascinating of the four. Her official designation is Level 0. She has no powers at all. Nevertheless, she attends classes and learns all there is to learn about being an esper. The teachers explain to the Level 0s like her that it’s possible to reach Level 1… but Saten always has a wistful look when the topic comes up. It’s clear she doesn’t have that kind of optimism. What does it mean to be that kind of outsider looking in? And how much worse is it to be in the middle of this incredible city, surrounded by so many exceptional people she’d love to be?
Academy City is almost a character in itself. It’s hard not to fall in love with it. Clean, stylish, dotted with wind generators, a near-futuristic center of learning and advanced scientific research, all the while supersaturated with technology. The juxtaposition of seemingly sentient trash-collector robots and soda machines that only work if you kick them appears to point out that we’ll always have some low-tech around.
Railgun fixes most every glaring problem that tripped up Toaru Majutsu no Index. Gone are Index’s occasional — albeit entirely useless — scenes where those involved in the higher echelons of running Academy City were up to some sinister, boring machinations. Fortunately, Railgun is much more down-to-earth. It also wisely limits the amount of talking that occurs during fight sequences. The action is left to unfold naturally, instead of cramming in reams of idealistic soliloquies that the Index villains probably weren’t even listening to. Finally, it does away with Index’s tendency to tell one mini-arc, followed by another mini-arc, followed by another mini-arc… ad nauseam that tended to make the show’s overall narrative out of focus and its pace too breakneck.
The structure of this show, however, is a bit of an odd thing and does deserve to be mulled over. It begins largely episodic with only a scattering of episodes focused entirely on the more serious arc that concludes at the halfway point. The second half is much the same. I say ‘odd’ because it’s a unique structure I’ve rarely come across. Most non-episodic anime tend to follow the same format as any other narrative medium: an identifiable conflict or targeted goal at the outset; gradual complications along the way; an ending with the inevitable climax and resolution.
Railgun mostly ignores that age-old wisdom. Twice.
The four or five episodes that precede each climax are strong, focused, and exciting. So if the creators were so capable, why not follow the arcs in every episode? Simply put, it seems to be a stylistic choice — and one that is as refreshing as it is surprisingly effective. It frees up the story, allows our perspective of Academy City to expand by degrees and the characters a chance to breathe. The importance of the latter cannot be stressed enough. After all, our heroines are living here primarily to learn. It’s a given that attending classes and socializing are going to make up no small portion of their day-to-day lives.
That said, Kuroko and Uiharu’s work at Judgment comprises the larger portion. Most of the fun is watching them work on cases and hunt down perpetrators. Even though Misaka isn’t a part of Judgment, she often forces herself into the role of unofficial member. That she has this proclivity for beating up criminals isn’t so much that she’s a do-gooder, but rather that’s how she finds it easiest to protect her friends. She has an active investment in their well-being and specific meaningful relationships to lose if something goes wrong. This is, of course, all to say that it’s vastly more engaging to watch her and her cohorts, as opposed to a certain bed-headed, misfortunate guy with a chronic Helper Monkey Complex.
I usually don’t mention voice acting, but the consistent excellence is such that I can’t avoid it. Toyosaki Aki easily hits her highest note yet here and in one pivotal moment gives an amazing, touching performance. Even the always-talented Tanaka Atsuko creates a character that is very special. So to avoid a laundry list of names, let me simply say that if some of your favorite seiyuu are involved, it probably wouldn’t be an exaggeration to urge you to check it out for that reason alone.
The OPs are as highly-charged as Misaka’s railgun and the EDs are catchy outros after all the excitement. In fact, the songs that bookend the show’s second half are as good as — if not better than — the first half’s. And here I thought it was some sort of sadistic tradition in anime for second-half OPs and EDs to be lacklustre.
The overall soundtrack is just as fantastic. Not only the music itself, but also its skillful use. At one point, a solitary piano begins playing, making us realize that since the episode started there hasn’t been any music. Instead of merely reinforcing the mood, it becomes the subtext that the characters can’t say. Later on when they connect to each other, a similar piano begins. As they are finally able to talk, more and more instruments are woven into the song as they become more and more desperate to express everything they wanted to say earlier.
Sound effects are another design element that truly shine. There is something so perfect in the execution of Biribiri’s electricity and Kuroko’s teleportation. It isn’t that Index’s sound effects for these abilities were bad at all, but rather that in Railgun they have been refined enough to be a little addicting to listen to. Likewise, the action of the fight scenes is as much aural as it is visual. Impact is visceral, whether against concrete or someone’s face.
The art is crisp and beautiful. The visual design is such that your eyes get drawn in, from a particularly huge parfait to some spellbinding fight choreography. Some close-up expressions of the characters are priceless. Unfortunately, certain distance shots of them can dip in quality. It’s a pity given the polished look of everything else around them, but comparatively speaking it’s easy to forgive as it doesn’t occur often.
Railgun is an anime that starts with a cast of memorable characters, tells a very entertaining story, and has the privilege of doing so with laudable production values. The questions it raises are thought-provoking and relevant. Even when the story meanders into a stand-alone episode that has no real bearing on the plot, it is always with a sense of how it fits into the overarching frame. Like its characters, the story breathes. At times it runs; at times it walks. And yes, also like its characters, sometimes it takes that random detour and ends up discovering something wholly unexpected. While science plays a large role in the show, all its elements end up filled with quite a bit of magic.
And that’s a certain kind of awesome.
The story is nothing new. At all. There are people who can use powers and this time a whole city is there to develop these. Even though everyone’s already full of that premise, doesn’t mean you don’t have to explain the world build, writers. We only got a glance at what its like living in Academy City. The world was never explained. Why the magic users don’t appear was never explained. The “Level” system was never fully explained. We saw everything but knew nothing.
This show uses a specific formula to get its story arcs going, usually introducing a new character that has nothing to do with the conflict at the start, and then starts slowly revealing why this one character in fact has everything to do with the conflict. The wrong in the execution of the show is its constant failures to try to hide it. The episode itself tries to be too unpredictable and almost becomes too predictable, you see. It’s funny how this show tries to pretend it’s not based on arcs by constantly remembering you of what happened in the past. These ‘flashbacks’ are unneeded and they only serve to take more screentime.
The story contains many trivial episodes (which is also a screentime problem, like the festival, the visit to the girls dorm, the Judgement investigation episodes of things we already know about etc.) and recycles alot of jokes (like Shirai worshipping Misaka). Not only that, but the filler episodes and the jokes are misplaced, which completely ruins the dramatic mood it tries to develop (just like it happened in the end of episode 22).
The story ends up having too many mishaps and too little reconnaissances. There are twists and turns on the story but it is never truly developed since the end of every conflict has little impact on the characters themselves (like it was all ‘just another adventure’). There was never a climax. There was never a point where I was worried any of the characters would get hurt. There was never an experience that involved the viewers worrying or even caring for the characters. I just accepted eveything that happened and moved on, knowing that in the end everything would go well. And it did. That’s why I didn’t enjoy watching this series.
We got more development to the side characters than to the main cast of girls, while Uiharu was the most developed and by far the worst character of the show. We still know nothing about Misaka’s past, which is a shame since she has the most screentime of the entire series, and it feels dull to watch her kicking ass without knowing the conflicts she had to pass to obtain such power. The villains are are absolutely horrible. This is another anime that explains the bad guy’s actions by the insanity of their minds, like a human can only be mean if they are out of it. It’s cringe-worthy, I’m telling ya.
The art is nothing special. I’ve seen this style many times, and I don’t like the side faces. This is not a judging point, though, I’m just pointing it out, alright?
Animation is okay. Nothing much to complain about.
The sound work is bad. While the fights are going the same singing tune keeps on repeating undefinitely until it’s over. The episodes always start with the same calm soundtrack. Each part always has its own music. This show is so preditable that you can even predict which soundtrack is going to play for each scene, and It’s not like they are good at all. The music should help the show by adding another feel to the scenes, and not help you to know what’s coming up next, lmao.
There are shows with no story that can be enjoyable with good characters. There are shows with bad characters that can be enjoyable with a good story.
But there are no shows with bad stories and bad characters that can be enjoyable. See you in the sequel, Kagaku no Railgun. I hope you learn.
3: Tetsuwan Birdy Decode:02
English: Birdy the Mighty: Decode 02
Japanese: 鉄腕バーディー DECODE:02
MAL Score: 7.73
Following the Ryunka disaster, Tokyo is left in a period of social turmoil. To make matters worse, the group of aliens directly responsible for the catastrophic event have escaped from the Space Federation and are hiding on Earth.
Still sharing a body, Space Federation officer Birdy Cephon Altera, and high schooler, Tsutomu Senkawa, are tasked with capturing the fugitives and bringing them to justice. However, an unexpected crisis develops when the outlaws become targets of an unknown assassin with a vendetta. Now Birdy must deal with the chaos of everyday life and also uncover the identity of the assassin before more escapees fall victim.
Being a long time fan of the original Birdy the Mighty OVA from 1997, it goes without saying that I was definitely looking forward to the new series of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode. Unfortunately the first season of Decode, whilst being good and great in some areas, was lacklustre in others – especially where the pacing of the story was concerned.
Thankfully, A-1 Pictures have changed the whole ball game with the release of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: 02.
The second season picks up directly after the end of the first. Tsutomu and Birdy are still sharing a body for the time being whilst the world tries to make sense of the Ryunka incident. Meanwhile, a prison transport belonging the the Intergalactic Police is attacked by an unknown assailant. The escaped convicts take shelter on earth, and Birdy is ordered to find and capture them. During the course of her investigation though, Birdy runs into an old friend…
The story seems pretty straightforward on the whole, and there are some predictable events that occur, however don’t be fooled by the failings of the first season as Decode: 02 is a completely different beast. The story is much tighter this time around, and is very much focused on Birdy rather than Tsutomu. One irony is that, whilst the first season looked at Tsutomu’s love life, the second season is very clearly about Birdy’s relationships, and I found that this aspect was far more engaging than the sci-fi school romance that was season one.
One of the main problems I had with the first season was the inconsistent, and often slow, pacing of the series. I just wanted the show to get on with the story rather than beat around the bush. As with any story, no matter how good, unless the pacing is correct the audience will lose interest, and season two is no slouch is this department. The tighter storyline, combined with some excellent pacing and some great (even with the predictable bits), plot development, allows the audience to become far more engaged in the story. The added bonus of this season being mainly about Birdy makes her character far more accessible,and endearing, as well.
Oh, and we also get to find out why she’s called “Berserker Killer Birdy”.
The animation for Decode: 02 is easily on par with that of the first season. The incorporation of CG is almost seamless, and the character movements, especially during the action sequences, are exceptional. One thing that may have detractors though, is that some sequences have a decidedly “rough and ready” look to them. This isn’t due to a lack of time or skill on the part of the animators though, as it is very much intentional. The aim of these sequences is to direct the viewers attention to the characters and their struggles, allows the animators greater freedom and flexibility when it comes to character movements, and promotes a greater degree of emotion than a clean, clinical finish could everallow. The reason they chose to do this is purely because Birdy is an Ixion Altairan, a genetically engineered “super-soldier”, and when you watch those scens, you’ll begin to understand why they work on several levels. Fans of the awesome Casshern: Sins will recognise this technique as it is used heavily in that show as well.
Sound has been improved in the second series, with the characters themselves expressing a greater degree of emotion through their respective seiyuu (more on this in a bit). One of the high points of the voice acting occurs when Chiba Saeko (Birdy), and Irino Miyu (Tsutomu), speak exactly the same lines at exactly the same time. I won’t say why this happens, however the degree of emotion expressed by both is extremely well synchronised.
Music is also a step up from season one. The OP and ED are just as good as the first series, however I did find myself preferring the OP to Decode: 02. The thematic music used throughout the series follows the same trend as season one, however it seems to work better here. This may be due to the tighter storyline, however it may also be due to the fact that there have been some changes to the tracklist, so some thought looks to have gone into what works where.
One of the driving forces of the Tetsuwan Birdy Decode series has been it’s characters. In season one both Tsutomu and Birdy were engaging, yet both lacked a certain polish. In Decode: 02 however, Tsutomu is far more composed and mature (the Ryunka event and it’s aftermath having been a rite of passage of sorts). Birdy has also undergone some improvement, and is far more endearing than she was in the first season. The fact that this season delves more into Birdy’s past also helps to round out her character a lot, as the audience can begin to understand her motivations and goals.
I absolutely adored this season, and it is easily one of the best follow-ups I have seen in anime – period. This show has something for everyone, from human interest and romance, to mystery and major ass-kicking (super-soldier style).
Decode: 02 proves once again what we all know already. With a little care and thought, the sequel can easily surpass the original.
Most notably would be the animation – 02 exhibits some of the most incredible animation in a 13-episode series for a long, long time. Where other shows might shell out for a good fight scene here and there, 02 provides stunningly kinetic action scenes throughout the entire run, most notably in its incredible finale. If you like good animation, it’s a must.
But it’s not just the animation that dominates over the first season. The characterisation and setting also prevails – the plot gives a more Birdy-centric view, and Tsutomu loses any annoying qualities he once had. Their chemistry is quite nice to watch, and other characters also receive some good development.
Nataru, a new character, is an excellent addition and forms a large part of the plot, fitting in well with the setting and providing some great development for Birdy. The new antagonists are also worthy, and the colourful villain cast makes a nice change to the vague enemies of the first season.
The music is nothing particularly amazing, but it serves its purpose well. The OP and ED are just as good as the previous ones, and the Main theme that plays here and there is a joy to listen to.
If there is one obvious complaint, then it would have to be the art. In some places, it really suffers, looking lazily drawn and messy – however, this is all intentional in providing some high-quality animation and making an otherwise bland enviroment or dramatic scene come alive. For once, it’s nice to see a studio favour the movement and action that you would expect from an animated piece of work, rather than focus on static close-ups and un-necessary amounts of shading.
And, an extra added difference to the second series is that it heavily ramps up the Gore-factor. This is good or bad depending on your persuasion, but the series certainly does not take shortcuts when it comes to brutality. In my opinion, this makes everything even more refreshing, but opinions may differ.
Overall, Birdy Decode: 02 is a rarity in that it’s much, much, much better than its predecessor – which is almost a shame, as people who disliked the first season would be put off by the second, despite it’s many corrections and improvements. Overall, I recommend this anime to ANYONE. Whether you saw the first season, whether you didn’t, or whether you liked it or not, you should give this show a try.
The first season was insipid because the focus is on the school life aspect while the more appealing intergalactic setting and aliens in masquerade get demoted to the background for a relatively large part of the series. The whole ordinary kid stuck in extraordinary events premise is overshadowed by the fact said extraordinary events are way more interesting that the ordinary kid. Naturally, the reverse is what made the sequel so much better. In addition, season 2 deals with alien fugitives taking cover on Earth, allowing the introduction of Birdy’s childhood friend, thus giving the opportunity to explore Birdy’s back-story. To put it simply, the sequel did practically everything that I complained was lacking in its first season.
As such, it can be argued that the real reason that season 1 is mediocre is because the real ‘story’ have not occurred. And it makes sense when one consider the case of the so-called standard 26-episode series. The alien they fought at the end of the first season? It’s not the so-called ‘real’ Final Boss. It was not the actual climax. The secret project and experiments was just the set up, merely to prepare the stage for this sequel. Indeed, this one is when it’s finally ready to deliver what it has been building up previously. This is when things finally start to get serious, hence why the pace in season 2 is much faster and with more events occurring.
[Characters:8.0] As said, the character of focus is one of the key reasons defining Birdy Decode on the whole. Previously, the side characters doesn’t really contribute much to the story. For all intent and purpose, the only relevant characters were mainly just Birdy, Tsutomu and Natsume who got caught in the event. Now, apart from the protagonists, the main antagonist too gets the fair share of back story and other minor character also get their share of the limelight.
And of course, there is much drama and development to be had for Birdy herself. From her comedic Arita Shion persona to flashbacks involving her past, the scenes were well executed. The lighter moments are comedic when it needs to, while the heavier and darker scenes are dramatic without being overdone. In particular, the story can get surprisingly quite touching and bittersweet in the latter part of the series.
The choice of voice-acting cast was great too. As with the prequel, I like the voice acting for Birdy, especially when she is in her Arita Shion mode. Special mention goes to Mamiko Noto as Birdy’s caretaker.
[Art:8.5] Another compliment goes to the major improvement in production values. Not only is the story better, even the animation quality is much higher. The action sequences are fantastic, albeit some of them being rather brutal. In short, the art style is excellent and in particular, I like the mix of animation styles – for example, the sketchy style (similar to those of Gainax productions) is highly appropriate for some of the more emotionally chaotic moments.
[Music:7.5] Decode has good soundtracks, but the prequel didn’t quite get to put them to good use. Thankfully, this season rectify that. Furthermore, the choice of opening and closing themes are also much more agreeable.
[Summary] With a classic science-fiction setting, some romance and plenty of cool action sequences, it shall suffice to say that Birdy Decode 02 is definitely worth the watch.
Personal Overall Rating: 8.5
2: Higashi no Eden
English: Eden of The East
MAL Score: 7.80
On November 22, 2010, Japan was hit by missile strikes, a terrorist act that fortunately did not harm anyone, becoming known as “Careless Monday.” Quickly forgotten, society goes on about their lives as normal.
During her graduation trip to America three months later, friendly college student Saki Morimi’s life is forever changed when she finds herself saved from unexpected trouble by Akira Takizawa. Takizawa is cheerful, but odd in many ways—he is stark naked and suffers from amnesia, believing himself to be a terrorist. In addition, he possesses a strange cell phone loaded with 8.2 billion yen in digital cash.
Despite Takizawa’s suspicious traits, Saki quickly befriends the enigmatic young man. However, unbeknownst to her, this is the beginning of a thrilling death game involving money, cell phones, and the salvation of the world. Higashi no Eden chronicles Saki’s struggle to unravel the mysteries behind her savior, while Takizawa himself battles other individuals armed with similar cell phones and returning memories which reveal his possible connection to the event from months ago.
+ This anime definitely brings a very interesting plot.
+ The level of mystery and suspense will leave the viewer wanting more every episode.
+ Definitely one of the most refreshing stories in recent seasons.
– Its is only 11 episodes long, a very uncommon number for an anime.
– The ending leaves you with a cliffhanger that the movies are expected to resolve.
– Because of the # of episodes, plus the announcement of 2 movies. The anime ending does not feel like it brings any closure to the overall story.
+ Fantastic art in both characters and backgrounds throughout the anime.
+ Very artistic animations for both the Opening and Ending themes.
+ There is really nothing bad to say here, this anime brings some nice eye candy to the viewer.
+ Very good OP and ED songs. They are really cool to listen to.
+ The soundtrack is also really good, complimenting some scenes really nicely.
+ The voice acting is solid through the series, specially for Akira.
+ Takizawa Akira is main driving force in terms of character in this anime. He is pretty much the only one who constantly shines.
+ Other Selecao members are all unique and different in personalities, and are also very interesting people and have some good development (as short as some may be).
+ Akira is as mysterious as a character as he is likeable, he doesn’t take things TOO seriously and also provides some good comedy.
– Saki, despite being likeable, just doesn’t seem to contribute much to the overall plot despite being a main character.
Enjoyment: This anime was highly entertaining, despite ending in a cliffhanger it left me wanting more every episode and it would never feel boring. With the movies set to bring a conclusion to the anime, I can’t wait to see them.
Overall Higashi no Eden proves to be a very enjoyable and entertaining anime which brings some rather unique and interesting plot that will be able to keep your interest from its unique 11 episode run. However because the series itself is not complete without the movies, the ending might feel a little underwhelming to some. Regardless, this anime surpassed my expectations and its a fantastic show to those looking a solid plot, likeable characters, beautiful visuals, and enjoyable music. I highly recommend people try this anime out, I dont think you will be disappointed.
After watching the first few episodes of Eden of the East (a.k.a Higashi no Eden), I was extremely impressed and very excited. I thought I had found a compelling mystery anime with lovable characters, a great storyline, and fluent animation. I couldn’t wait to see what Eden had in store, so I sat through the entire series and both of the movies in a huge marathon. You want to know what it all amounted to? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The storyline of this anime goes absolutely, positively NOWHERE at any point in any of the movies or episodes and gives the phrase “dragging it out” an entirely new definition. This is one of the most disappointing anime I’ve ever seen simply because it gets you so excited with it’s engrossing beginning, and just plateaus for the remaining 90% of screen time.
Synopsis: A man wakes up outside the White House stark naked with a gun one hand, a cell phone charged with 8.2 billion yen in funds in the other hand, and no memory of who he is or how he got there what so ever. The man, who goes by Takizawa (even though It’s not his real name), goes on to find out that he is involved in a game in which he and twelve other contestants were given 10 billion yen and told to “Fix the country”. He meets a girl named Saki and together they go on an “adventure” (if you can even call it that…) to discover Takizawa’s past.
For the first few episodes, this is a compelling concept. Additionally, Takizawa jumps off the screen as a charming character with tons of personality and Saki (Takizawa’s love interest) seemed like she would develop into a likable character. I thought Eden couldn’t go wrong with so many stellar pieces in place. Well, it did. Very wrong.
The #1 problem with Eden is that the plot never builds into anything significant or exciting, with the exception of the end of the series portion of Eden, which was entertaining, but certainly not worthy of being considered a true climax. After that moment, nothing happens. Literally nothing. There are a few new developments that never lead anywhere, the contestants of the game start to get narrowed down, but that doesn’t lead anywhere, and worst of all, the promising relationship between Saki and Takizawa doesn’t lead anywhere! In the first couple of episodes, I absolutely fell in love with these characters! They had personality, they had chemistry, and they were unique! You want to know what it all built up to? Absolutely ZILCH.
And that brings us to the ending of the anime, which I won’t spoil, but to summarize my feelings on it; it sucks. There are happy endings, sad endings, and there are bad endings. Bad endings are the endings that just leave an unfilled void in your soul; the unmistakable feeling that everything you just watched has been for absolutely nothing. That is the kind of ending that Eden has.
Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the plotholes yet. For instance; there is one scene where a character sprouts wings and flies away. Yep, just for no apparent reason. It is never explained, it is never mentioned again, and it is the only supernatural thing that takes place in Eden. Those are the kind of plot holes we are dealing with here. It’s hinted at that this could have been a hallucination but that honestly just raises even more questions if you ask me.
In short, the story to Eden had huge potential and capitalized on next to none of it. Wildly disappointing.
The animation is probably the highlight of the anime. Everything is pleasant to look at and the animation is always fluent. I liked the animation style quite a bit. It never really has a chance to shine though, thanks to the general lack of action and climatic/exciting scenes, which a damn shame.
The soundtrack is unique and pleasant to listen to. Eden also has one of my favorite EDs ever. The voice acting is pretty good in both versions, but I’m not crazy about Saki’s voice actor in the dub.
The only two characters worth talking about are Takizawa and Saki.
Takizawa, as I mentioned earlier, really stands out in the beginning of the anime as a charming character overflowing with personality. He is a great protagonist for the most part, and he receives a fair amount of character development, but he remains disappointingly static throughout the anime and his personality can only make up for so much. I liked Takizawa a lot, but he just feels like another wasted opportunity.
Saki, as I also mentioned earlier, is Takizawa’s love interest. She seemed like she could develop into a great character with a distinct personality but guess what? It never happens! Are you sensing a theme yet? She ends up being a stereotypical female character who is just sort of… there. She seems to be gradually written out of the show, in fact. The relationship between these two is built up more then anything else in the show, and that makes it all the more disappointing when even that ends without giving the viewer an ounce of payoff or satisfaction what so ever.
The fact that these are the only two characters worth mentioning and both of them are disappointments is all the information you need to infer that Eden’s characters fall flat in yet another, lets say it together this time, (ALL: Wasted Opportunity!)
To be fair ,there are a couple decent side characters, but none of them are relevant enough to the plot or entertaining enough to take the time to talk about.
Eden of the East left a disgusting taste in mouth. It builds you up and builds you up and builds you up only to have no payoff at the end (or any other point) what so ever. It is a colossal waste of potential and I really can’t recommend watching anything past the 11 anime episodes, if even those. It may as well of ended there, because the true ending is about as satisfying as if it had just ended after the episodic portion of anime; no closure and no real climax.
How delightfully reassuring, then, to discover Eden of the East; this, unlike the aforementioned failures, begins on a much higher bar of quality. In fact, tapping into the hot topics of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, information technology, marginalized geek subculture, and subversive conspiracy theories, it accomplishes an astronomical level of relevancy to its early twenty-first century audience that’s both rare and difficult to pull off. Like Akira emerging from a background of Cold War paranoia, Eden of the East manages to capture the Zeitgeist of disenfranchised youth of the millennium and repackage it into a fascinating adventure that anyone can enjoy. Instead of loudmouthed biker brats trying to prevent the apocalypse, there are spotty middle-class misfits with too much HP trying to save Japan from itself.
The sequence of events may be ambiguous, with the script hardly pausing to explain how they connect with each other, but the pace remains satisfyingly steady. Strangely enough, like watching a master illusionist at work, the confusion contributes to the enjoyment. The series withholds tantalising facts until the last possible moment and glosses over its meandering mystery with generous handfuls of charisma.
In truth, the first half of the show elicits the kind of spine-tingling rapture that only comes along once a decade when viewers inadvertently stumble upon a confident masterpiece. I could see it already – breathless fans hailing Eden of the East as the second coming of Death Note, the easy five-star ratings flying from reviewers’ fingertips, and a live-action movie so popular it even makes it as far as British cinemas by 2015!
All I can say is enjoy the magic while it lasts. Inevitably, Eden of the East overreaches and certain contortions of the plot midway stretch viewers’ suspension of disbelief to untenable limits. At first there is a clever chase sequence highly reminiscent of Light and L’s interplay in Death Note, where the mysterious hero Akira tries to save the day with the help of Juiz (a voice on his phone which grants his every wish). For whatever reason, just at that key juncture, the show follows up with a scene of such crippling farce that, despite later rationalization, it spells a stunning loss of momentum. After that, there’s a long period of rushed explanations, sluggish suspense, and one or two twists desperately in need of more coherent setup.
Fans expecting easy-to-grasp developments and a neat conclusion will end up disappointed. However, for conspiracy theorists and generally anal fans who like to pore over minute details and debate exact wordings for weeks after a show is over, this will prove quite the feast.
Even in that age (2009) of knock-off CGI and dime-a-dozen action sequences, Eden of the East’s visuals warrant some respect. The style may not be up to much, but cityscapes, monorails, museums, cars, and streets have rarely looked this good. The quirkiest aspect is the combination of hamster-cheeked characters with hyper-realistic, superbly detailed backgrounds. Although this sounds intuitively incompatible, the quality of animation is consistently high and melds everything together nicely.
Apart from a catchy opening theme sung by the established Brit-rock band, Oasis, and some excellent American voice acting during the early episodes, Eden of the East’s soundtrack remains effective but wholly unremarkable.
Out of all the characters, only Akira Takigawa leaps off the screen with his incredible effervescence. Turning up at the White House naked with a gun in his first scene certainly makes him memorable, but his charm extends beyond mere gimmicks. Akira’s development reveals a fascinating duality in his personality, which ensures he is at once easy to like and teasingly difficult to grasp. His whimsical nature belies an underlying quick mind and a surprising level of gravity, the latter of which manifests itself in the messianic themes surrounding him (obvious statements that he’s Saki’s ‘prince’, his supposed massacre of 20,000 NEETs, the occasional deadpan expression etc). He’ll delight and entrance in turn, and he’ll do it seemingly without much effort.
Everyone else, unfortunately, gets caught in the whirlwind of his mystery without any opportunity to make their own mark. The good news is that the supporting cast, being ordinary people with ordinary problems, generally behave within the familiar boundaries of reason. Regrettably, this means that, when thrown into Eden of the East’s extraordinary circumstances, they become like headless chickens – alarmingly useless. At some point, I began to wonder how many more times I’d have to watch Saki mope after Akira, worrying about his terrible secrets without being able to help uncover them. Her behavior is always understandable, of course, but also off-putting for being redundant.
Apart from that, the gaggle of weak antagonists impedes any attempt at emotional investment. The most carelessly developed individual has to be that purple-haired femme fatale whose morbid behavior is as caricatured as her looks. Being the only female of note other than the mediocre Saki, I found her constant prancing in underwear and high heels a horribly patronizing and silly portrayal. Truly, does being psychologically disturbed always have to mean being half naked? Other antagonists introduced later simply look boring, are underdeveloped, or generally don’t do much of note. Viewers will keep watching simply to find out the answers to the questions set at the beginning, and not because they will care about the conflict of interest.
I find this a very difficult anime to recommend without caveats. Objectively, I recognize Eden of the East’s great achievements; brandishing an arsenal of treats, including an innovative mystery that doubles as social commentary and Akira’s magnetic characterization, it will exceed expectations on first impressions. On the other hand, I feel underwhelmed by the experience. Somehow, the show misses its mark, becoming a rambling setup for the anticipated movies with convoluted themes and tenuous explanations. Nonetheless, the fact remains – for a fresh and nail-biting reinterpretation of the mystery genre (even if short-lived), Eden of the East rivals the monumental favorites on the market of that date.
1: Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season
English: Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Second Season
Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム00 セカンドシーズン
MAL Score: 8.10
In the year 2311 AD, a world that once saw itself full of inter-continental conflict now stands unified, led by the Earth Sphere Federation (ESF). The ESF established a preventative military task force known as the A-Laws, tasking them with shutting down violent terrorist organizations. As they gain more and more legal authority, the A-Laws begin to twist the law to fit their own agenda, ruling the citizens of Earth with a heavy hand.
In response to the fascistic behavior of the A-Laws, the anti-terrorist group Celestial Being reappears. Led by state-of-the-art mobile suits known as Gundam, the pilots of Celestial Being wage a new war with the A-Laws, aiming to stop their tyrannical abuse of power.
Setsuna F. Seiei, pilot of the Gundam Exia, helps to lead the charge along with his fellow Gundam Meisters Lockon Stratos, Allelujah Haptism, and Tieria Erde. But in the process, Setsuna stumbles upon a conspiratorial plot spearheaded by a new faction, the Innovators, and must contend with his own old wounds and ghosts of the past in order to save a world that despises him.
Now, Season 2 started out with a lot of potential. The main characters were reintroduced very well, preserving the characteristics they were known for and refining them, along with offering a slightly different side of their personality. Some characters did change for the worse, but this is necessary to create the strife needed for the story to build. And it did build. A new faction came into play here, and some of the old characters on the antagonistic side in Season 1 are not happy with the new world order. New characters are introduced very well and immediately create a third side to the previous two-sided strife in Season 1. There are many characters that are struggling to find themselves in the new world order, so the series has a bit of a depressive feeling to it. Not even Lockon’s lighthearted comments helped much here.
However, as well as the introductions to the new characters were, the development of many of these characters had something to be desired. It falls into the same trap that swallowed Code Geass R2, which is to let new characters languish in development. However, while R2 introduces too many characters and has to shift back and forth awkwardly between the factions, Gundam 00 introduces fewer new characters and makes the shifts amongst them much more fluidly, going for “Let’s integrate all the factions into the episode” rather than Geass R2’s “focus here for one episode, focus there for another.” 00 also focuses on the protagonists much better. The antagonists (that fat blonde guy), along with Bushido, along with the Innovators, could have used more development, but at least I got a better idea of their true personalities better than the Knights from Geass R2. If there was one glaring complaint about 00 S2’s characterization, it would come in the form of antagonistic development in the form of the true mastermind, Ribbons Almark. An antagonist is supposed to create a feeling of hatred in your heart, or you fall for the antagonist’s plot and cheer on the protagonists’ failure. But the main feeling I get from Ribbons is ambivalence. “Your comrade just got killed.” *no emotion* “You just got betrayed.” *no emotion* “Your test subject just wrecked your newest Mobile Suit.” *no emotion* “Your plan to take over the world has caught a HUGE snare.” *Whatever* All he does is sit on a MAGENTA couch and twiddle on his thumbs, no matter if his plans succeed or fail. For someone who’s the mastermind, he doesn’t like to get involved much, like he’s a puppetmaster with really long strings on his puppets. Problem is, he feels disconnected from the plot and action, and well, let’s just say that 00 S2’s biggest fault after this is plot management.
Now, the first… 2/3 of the series was developed very well. We get to see the main characters discover a different side to themselves and we are able to supplement the change with what we know about the characters in season 1. But after that, the series starts to stumble. The audience is waiting for a return of aspects that distinguished the characters from season 1. In creating a different dimension for the characters, they gave up the platform built up for the characters in season 1. Like Hallelujah, whose reintroduction was too sudden. Welcome, but not well done. Thus, after about the 2/3 mark, the series starts to wander and lose its footing. The focus is on little plot elements that need time to develop, but the producers only had so many episodes of plot to work with. Thus, the big plot elements were placed on the back burner and left to overcook. The series has to rush to resolve these big issues, but didn’t get to do so until the last 3 episodes or so, so it was a miracle that episodes 23 and 24 didn’t feel too rushed. What would have been nice is if they started focusing on these big plot elements around… episode 20 or so? But it’s no big surprise that episode 25 felt like you were landing an airplane but hadn’t slowed down enough. You do stop, but all your passengers are thrown 2 rows forward in your attempt. The series was haphazardly wrapped up as a result.
But don’t get me wrong: Gundam 00 S2 is still worth your time to watch if you enjoyed S1. There’s still a lot to like, such as the more complex story, matured characters, and many characters just finding their true selves during their personal struggles. I’m not sure if I just expected too much, though. It’s still a likable series, but it just tossed away its potential for becoming a masterpiece about 2/3 of the way in.
(This review assumes familiarity with the first season of Gundam 00 and references several season one spoilers. Season two spoilers are hinted at but not explicitly stated.)
STORY – Gundam 00 had a precarious premise from the very beginning. The “war to end all wars” story is one that seems to be visited often, but because it’s such an idealistic goal, series pursuing it always stand on a shaky foundation of logic and realism. As a result, it’s a very difficult premise to execute well. One of biggest logical gaps for me is still the idea that Celestial Being’s two hundred-year old technology can be superior to that of current-day armies, especially since Celestial Being itself seems to have a very poor understanding of the machines they’re making use of. Instead, they are reliant on a supercomputer and the notes and secret power-ups passed down to them by a dead man. All of the questions I had from the first season surrounding the organization’s conception and survival over the last two centuries remain unanswered for the most part, but the most frustrating thing was not knowing the ultimate purpose of CB until the series’ finale.
It blows my mind that most of the characters didn’t even seem to know exactly what the “real” purpose of their organization was. It’s one thing to keep the audience in the dark, but seriously, even the characters didn’t know? Yes, everyone fights for their own reasons, but if you’re part of an organization, you should maybe know what they’re up to. Just sayin’. The antagonistic Innovators are introduced this season as the new puppeteers of the world, along with their half-puppets, the A-Laws. Presumably, they know what’s going on, but since the point of view of the story follows the members of Celestial Being more than the Innovators, the story becomes very reactionary. CB is trying to do this to stop the Innovators from doing this. CB does this because the Innovators are going to do this. But why should the audience care if they ultimately have no idea what anyone’s fighting for? The goals from the first season seem to have gone to the wayside somewhere along the way.
The flimsy storyline also contributed to an entire season of awful pacing marred by way too many romantic subplots. Seriously, could there possibly have been more of them? It didn’t take long for 00 to feel like one gigantic soap opera that just happens to take place in space with some kind of war going on in the background. In fact, I’d venture to say that the romantic storylines and drama were the main focus and the war, morals, and fate of the universe thing was the secondary subplot. Who will get Setsuna in the end? Marina or Gundam? Can Lyle save Anew from her overused mind-control plot device? Will Tieria ever be able to win Veda back from Ribbons? Will Allelujah ever actually do anything important in this series or say a word other than “Marie”? Will Saji ever stop being spineless, and will Louise eventually accept him again or just go to Andrei instead? Can Billy forgive Sumeragi for using him? Can Shirin and Klaus both survive to the end of the series for their happily ever after? Will Mr. Bushido ever give up on Setsuna? Will Patrick ever win Kati’s heart??
It. Is. Ridiculous. To be honest, most of the relationship drama (romantic or otherwise) in 00 had the potential to be interesting, but the fact that there was so much of it limited the relevance of each individual subplot and put a huge strain on the viewer’s ability to care, especially with an unclear central plotline to tie everything together. The conclusion of the second season and the series as a whole is just as bad as, if not worse than, the first season’s ending. It felt similarly rushed, extremely anticlimatic and unrealistic, and didn’t resolve nearly as much as I would have wanted. Many of the characters feel stranded at the end of the series, though you do get a resolution for most of the relationship nonsense, further supporting the idea that the relationships were the core of the series and that everything else was secondary. As far as the politics go, it was definitely more of a forced ending than a conclusion. A conclusion implies that things are actually concluded.
CHARACTER – With a few exceptions, most of the first season’s gigantic ensemble cast returned for the second season’s “four years later.” A new season really wasn’t necessary just for a timeskip, but it was still really nice being able to see Setsuna age. He’s the most interesting character in the entire series just because he matures so much as events unfold, and even as he doubts himself, his motivation, and purpose in the world, he never falls into the trap of the Jesus-kun Syndrome — when a character becomes a preachy moralfag and refuses to kill people, often accomplishing this by disabling mobile suits in battle instead of destroying them. That isn’t to say that having morals and a conscience makes for bad characters, but I find it refreshing when the morals and conscience can coincide with the resolve to fight and the knowledge that killing is sometimes necessary. Rather than instilling the pacifist streak in Setsuna, Sunrise made a good decision in having Marina around to balance things out. As irritating and useless as she was most of the time, I think she was necessary to round out the points of views in the series; that is to say, she was a good idea, just poorly executed.
Lyle, the new Lockon, felt like a huge cop-out from the beginning. Sunrise actually succeeded in killing a character! …But here’s his identical twin to replace him. Great. It didn’t help that they never utilized the “twin” or “brothers” aspect to the best of its potential, and Lyle’s logic failed on so many levels. He did not want to be compared to his brother, but essentially agreed to take over his brother’s previous identity when he joined Celestial Being by taking on his old codename, his Gundam, and his Haro. Lyle’s romantic subplot with Anew was one of the ones that had the most potential, and there was a lot of good acting as far as Lyle’s inner conflict and reactions went, but in the end, I don’t think his character evolved as much as it could have, and static characters remain uninteresting.
Allelujah was amazingly disappointing throughout the second season and pretty much drops off the map after episode seven. You wonder whether his role as a Gundam Meister actually makes him a “main character” or not since he dwindles to the point where he doesn’t even have any speaking roles for several episodes at a time. Since Hallelujah supposedly “died” for one reason or another, there wasn’t anything in the way of personal conflict. Instead, he spends the whole time chasing after Marie/Soma Peries. Unfortunately, Allelujah/Marie interactions are idealistic and boring while Allelujah/Soma interactions are repetitive and boring. Marie’s struggle with Soma and Soma’s struggle with belonging and revenge are interesting for many of the reasons the Allelujah/Hallelujah struggle was last season, but the character(s) could have stood well enough on their own without the obligatory romance/attention of Allelujah. Really, Allelujah probably brought them down by turning it into a cheesy would-be romance rather than the revenge/moral conflict it should have been.
Rounding out the Meisters, Tieria changed a lot between the first and second season. It would have been nice to be able to actually see that progress rather than just accepting that development had happened, but it’s still refreshing to see characters that actually grow and change, and Tieria does continue to mature. Throughout the second season Tieria struggles with the fact that he’s an Innovator and his role in both Celestial Being’s and the other Innovators’ goals. On the most basic level, it’s probably the most interesting of the Meisters’ conflicts, usurping even Setsuna, but poor execution, lack of attention, and being constantly thrown back by a dozen other subplots kept it from really succeeding, especially at the end.
As previously mentioned, there are probably two dozen other characters all with subplots of varying degrees of depth and relevance. Saji and Louise’s is especially prominent, but the themes of their relationship cover very little that one of the others doesn’t already, especially now that they’re both directly involved in the fighting and are no longer bystanders. Neither of them are particularly strong or interesting characters, and I still think that 00 would have been better off without them. It would have probably saved us about ten episodes of drama. There are also still an assload of characters aside from those listed above that make appearances at random, but aren’t actually relevant to anything anymore. Ali Al-Saachez will pop up again every seven or eight episodes. As will Nena Trinity, who really should have just died in the first season with her brothers. And as will Liu Mei Wang and Hong Long, who really do anything at all the entire season. All of the Innovators aside from Ribbons are pretty much interchangeable, and even Regene didn’t seem to mean much in the end.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION – The animation in the second season remains slick, and the battles are all relatively fun to watch. I really missed the Gundam Exia’s design, though the 0, 00, 0-Riser, and 00-Riser are all pretty interesting as well. I didn’t think the Arios was much of an improvement over the Kyrios, though honestly, you don’t see Allelujah in action enough this season for his suit to really leave an impression on you. The GN Archer, which actually had a neat design, could have also been featured a lot more. Seravee and Seraphim also had a nice concept, but like the others, was ever over-shadowed by the 00 and 00-Riser. And the Cherudim? As with the Dynames, the prominence of the gigantic rifle made the rest of the suit less important, but even visually, the Cherudim was less to look at than the Dynames.
The updated character and costume designs did a lot of good, I think, and I’m fond of Setsuna’s older appearance. The only new characters that are introduced in the second season are the score of Innovators. They come in pairs with hilariously punny names like “Revive Revival,” “Anew Returner,” and “Bring Stabity.” They also come in a variety of colorful flavors! Way to make it easy to spot the plot devices hiding out in the army and in Celestial Being, guys. There had to have been a better way to illustrate the concept of a race superior to humans without making it ridiculously obvious, right? The ease at which it is to spot these characters also makes the montage at the end of the series open to a lot of debate, but I really just think Sunrise is trolling us at that point.
MUSIC – The music is probably what I ended up enjoying the most in this entire series. I didn’t much care for the second season’s first opening and ending themes, but chalk that up to my general indifference to UVERworld and Chiaki Ishikawa. Neither are terrible songs or particularly annoying — just not my thing, I suppose. The second opening and ending, on the other hand, are probably why I even bothered to sit through some of the later episodes since neither of the singles had released at the time. “Namida no Mukou” by stereophony actually took a while to warm up to me because I found the timing awkward in many parts, but I loved the vocalist’s voice and the energy in the song is just fantastic.
Meanwhile, I loved “trust you” by Yuna Ito pretty much immediately. I’d only listened to a few of Ito’s songs prior to that, but “trust you” just blew me away. The melody is beautiful and the steady tempo really carries it through. Furthermore, the accompanying animation was gorgeous and well-timed to fit with the music, and it left a wonderful contemplative feeling at the end of each episode — more than most of the episodes deserved. It was also a great follow-up the animation for the second ending of the first season, “Friends” by Stephanie. There are a few episodes that end with a brief a capella version of “trust you” that I found really unnecessary and awkward, but the song itself is great.Oddly enough though, I like the TV Cut much better than the full single.
Tommy heavenly6’s “Unlimited Sky” is used as an insert song for some of the later episodes, which was also pretty awesome. I adore Tomoko Kawase’s voice in general, but I always find her anime songs much more energetic and upbeat than her other work, and “Unlimited Sky” is no exception. It always made the battle scenes that much more exciting — a very needed extra when you’re having a hard time caring about the characters involved or the storyline at the time.
Lastly, the instrumental soundtrack for 00 seemed markedly improved in the second season. The leitmotifs are a bit more prominent and the music in general seemed to compliment the mood and feeling of each scene a lot better. It was really refreshing to see/hear something actually improve between the seasons.
VOICE ACTING – Average for the most part, though I suppose Shinichiro Miki gets special mention for some excellent acting involving a very emotional Lyle, and Noboru Sougetsu (Ribbons), for managing to not remind everyone of Amuro Ray, at least most of the time.
The dub is still pretty awful. The best of the dub cast is Brad Swaile as Setsuna and maybe Alex Zahara as Lyle; both are pretty average. The rest of the cast either sound painfully uninspired or just… the same. Half of the female characters in this series sound the same in the dub. It’s must be pretty bad when I’m offended at how poorly done the voices are for even characters I don’t care about (which, in 00, is most of them).
OVERALL – When I reviewed the first season of Gundam 00, my main complaints included the fact that they had more details than structure, that they didn’t bother to explain a lot of what I would consider to be important backstory, and that there were far, far too many characters, all of whom were trying too hard to be the focus. The lackluster ending to the first season didn’t lead me to have a lot of expectations for the second season, but I’m still rather disappointed that they managed to let all of their problems get worse rather than better. In the end, I only saw 00 through to the end for the sake of having seen it to the end, which is never a really good reason at all. Then again, maybe I only saw it through so I could eventually bitch about it here… which really isn’t that great of a reason either.
But Gundam 00 S2 is crappy as hell (aside from the good looks.. the production value was top notch).
I have to admit that I liked Gundam 00 S1 (except for the ending).
Gundam 00 S1 focused a lot on the plot/action and because of that, the character development got neglected.
But that didn’t matter, because even with the 1-dimensional characters, it was still an interesting and exciting mecha anime.
However in Gundam 00 S2, ‘they’ tried to ‘spice up’ the character development a bit.
They totally froze the storytelling and decided to focus (a lot more) on the characters.
But they failed miserably!!! The characters didn’t come ‘alive’ one bit!!!!
The result = crap.
Hell.. what annoyed me the most were the things that just didn’t make sense.
For example the ‘couple’: Louise and Saji.
Saji discovers something (very) important about Louise’s tragedy (spoiler?) and ‘every’ viewer knows Louise should know about this.
But for some reason whenever Saji meets Louise, he NEVER discloses this important information to Louise.
What we get instead is a lot of shit dialogue like: “Saji..” “Louise!” “Saji!!” “Louise!!”
The same with Setsuna.. awww .. I’m not even going to start with his “Orewah Gundammmuhhh” dialogues/monologues…
In short.. Gundam 00 S2.. was bad.. very bad.. compared to season 1..
The story became predictable, the (romantic) character development was crap, some unimportant characters died,
bad guys didn’t actually die in season 1, you get spammed with loads of new characters,
Ribbons ‘bitch-slaps’ female characters and they ‘endure’ it *cough*.. and so on…
But anyways .. loads of you brainwashed *Gundam-lovers* will probably love this show anyways..
So… enjoy the sequel you guys.. 😐
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season
2. Higashi no Eden
3. Tetsuwan Birdy Decode:02
4. Toaru Kagaku no Railgun
5. Casshern Sins
6. Darker than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini
7. Toaru Majutsu no Index
8. Chrome Shelled Regios
9. Sora no Otoshimono