They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Ankoku Shinwa, Licca-chan Fushigi na Mahou no Ring, Licca-chan to Yamaneko Hoshi no Tabi, and more!
14: Ankoku Shinwa
MAL Score: 4.18
Long ago there were fierce gods of legends who shook the earth to its foundation with their power. There are now prehistoric rivals from the primitive times in Japan, that fought to protect their secrets in the present day. The God of Darkness Susanoah-oh is now sleeping in the shadows of the underworld waiting for his rebirth. However his coming hasn’t gone unoticed. There are agents from the Kikuchi Clan (descendants of Japans first inhabitants) who have seen the warning signs of the spreading of darkness’s bringing. These investigators are armed with ancient knowledge and artifacts who are willingly prepared to face the God of Darkness. Now they must fight the assembled spirits of hell to find the one young boy who is chosen by fate to grasp the chaotic might of the deadly Gods.
To the people who think of shows like those I say this – be glad you’ve never watched Dark Myth.
Dark Myth is quite literally the worst anime ever made – period. It is to anime what Plan 9 From Outer Space is to movies – and then some.
The story actually had a half-decent premise, in that the God of Darknes, Susanoah-oh, is about to be reborn, and there’s a bunch of people trying to stop this from happening. The problem lies with the execution though, as Dark Myth, for some reason, decides to stop the story numerous times in order to give you a crash course in mythology – complete with repetitive syllables (and if you watch the show then you’ll understand what I mean).
This stopping and starting of the story leaves one feeling more than a little confused about what the hell is going on, and add to that the fact that the story gives very little information about the characters and you have a show that feels more like watching a train wreck (complete with bits flying off everywhere, people screaming and running for cover, etc).
The art and animation in the show is dreadful. Considering when the show was made (1990 to be exact), it’s odd that such a show could actually pass muster for release in the western market, especially as the characters are pathetically designed, the animation is oft times very disjointed, and the overuse of gore in scenes that didn’t actually need it. The inclusion of so much gore made it seem more like Braindead – without the cheesy humour.
The sound is, once again, shockingly bad in comparison to other shows that were made at the same time. The effects are nothing but annoying, the music doesn’t really suit the scenes, and the voices are definitely forgettable.
Characters in the show are pathetic at best. There may be numerous times when watching this when you’ll wish that everyone dies, or you do. None of the characters have any actual depth, and all of the event in the show are aimed at simply recounting a story rather than developing a character.
This is not an enjoyable show in the slightest. The poor attempt at pschological and supernatural horror, the over-use of gore, the less than one-dimensional characters, the constant and patronizing explanations, all serve to ruin what could have been at least a half decent show. This show takes itself far too seriously, and for that reason it fails in every area. The creators spent far too much time ensuring that the story they wanted was put into the show, and because of this the show lacks everything.
This show is so bad that I would honestly consider it to be a form of medieval toture, and given the choice between being hung, drawn and quartered, or watching Dark Myth again, I would choose the former option. At least I know the torture will end, and I won’t be constantly patronized during it.
Okay, so the art design and sound is definitely not up to par with what anime was being broadcast at the time, but it’s not the art or sound that makes this suspense anime what it is. Frankly, I found the slow tense pacing of this anime very enjoyable- it’s hard to find good horror anime that doesn’t immediately throw tricks at you right out of the gate. A good horror story is one that uses a tense atmosphere to make you afraid even when the monster isn’t on screen. And The Dark Myth is really very good at building atmosphere, albeit it does so at a crawling pace so I understand why many people find it tiresome.
As far as the mini mythology lessons throughout the film, I found them to be very interesting and makes the film a lot easier to enjoy. I think I would have been terribly confused without them. Unfortunately, I cannot attest to the accuracy of The Dark Myth’s telling of these myths, but from what I understood of it, they seemed clear and believable. There is far more talking than there is action, so I see why many anime fans would be frustrated with that as well. It seems to me that The Dark Myth is definitely geared as an adult mystery and not really something for teens.
I think that this thriller anime definitely needs to be given a chance, and fans of horror anime who are looking for suspense should watch through it at least once.
I’ve sat through countless slice of life anime, several terrible cgi anime, and have seen many terrible ovas. I’ve sat through my sister my writer, Master of Ragnarok, and Music girls. But this is the most boring anime I have ever seen.
Sitting through this anime is like sitting through a college lecture out of context.
This analogy doesn’t come from nowhere. Throughout the entire OVA there’s characters who explain myths that ultimately do nothing but pad the runtime. They do absolutely nothing for the plot whatsoever. And this isn’t just a few parts of anime either. This happens at least 6 times throughout the entire runtime. They don’t even animate the myths either, it’s just characters flapping their lips explaining stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with the OVA. It is SO uninteresting. I got so bored that I almost fell asleep FOUR TIMES.
I sincerely cannot explain enough how boring this is. It’s simply not worth your time.
13: Licca-chan Fushigi na Mahou no Ring
English: Licca: Mysterious Magical Ring
Japanese: リカちゃん ふしぎな魔法のリング
MAL Score: 5.89
Second part in the OVA series that was later adapted into a TV show in 1998.
12: Licca-chan to Yamaneko Hoshi no Tabi
Japanese: Licca the movie リカちゃん リカちゃんとヤマネコ星の旅
MAL Score: 5.99
Based on the popular Licca doll in Japan. Licca meets a mysterious cat.
Licca goes on vacation with her father. The town in the mountains they go to is the site of a festival of the stars that has a mystical background, which is more real than Licca expected when she ends up in the middle of the mystical battle for the festival.
11: Wind: A Breath of Heart
Japanese: Wind -a breath of heart-
MAL Score: 6.06
Set four months after the resolution of the game the anime Wind is based on (via Hikari’s ending), the entire gang is planning a big Christmas party. However, with the reappearance of Hikari, weird things start to happen in the city of Kazune. How will things turn out?
10: Samurai Spirits 2: Asura Zanmaden
English: Samurai Spirits 2
Japanese: サムライスピリッツ2 アスラ斬魔伝
MAL Score: 6.19
One hundred years after their deaths at the hands of a former colleage, six legendary holy warriors are reborn to seek justice against the teammate who betrayed them into the hands of an evil god. Based upon one of the most popular video games of all time, Samurai Shodown is a sprawling feature-length saga of reincarnation and revenge, featuring some of the most spectacular battle sequences ever animated! Join Charlotte, Wan Fu, Nakoruru, Galford and Tamtam as they search the feudal province of Edo questing for their lost comrade, Haohmaru, and their sworn nemesis Shirou Amakusa. Will the followers of the divine light triumph over the forces of the dark, or is the course of history destined to repeat itself? Before their hundred-year journey has ended, six samurai will prove that the only thing stronger than their holy blades is the steel of their wills!
(Story and Plot) Probably the first thing that we should mention about the story is the fact that it is finally following the game’s original plot. Something that for what so ever reason, has been skipped in The Motion Picture. Still, what the show really caught me with, were not the action, or the hope for a minor explanation over a piece of the enormous franchise. It was the good mix of seriousness and tender humor. Focusing on inner conflicts incidental to every human being, the story concerns the difference between what is good and what bad, what you want to do and what you are obliged to, between easy and right, and the value and weight of your own choices. All of that has been shown trough Nakoruru and Rera, who are the two sides of one coin. The comic moments between Rimururu and Haomaru were another classy stroke that I will be remembering for a long time. Of course, the story has its amount of unclearness and plot holes, but they are not as visible, as they usually are in productions of that kind. Samurai Spirits 2’s biggest disadvantage of is that it has not been made for people who are unfamiliar with the games and lack some decent knowledge on the characters. Someone not familiar with the franchise will probably have a hard time understanding the value of this show.
(Art and Music) Art and music are probably bringing the biggest improvement to Samurai Spirits 2, compared to its prequel. Drawn in that typical style of the 90’s, with perfectly designed, detailed characters and marvelous landscapes, it really manages to get you in the samurai world. The fight scenes were pretty good, with nice choreography and also drawn with details.
The music was awesome, perfectly completing the theme and mood of the show. I rarely comment the voice acting, but I must say that the performance of those who voiced Haomaru and Rimururu was a class.
(Charachters) A good thing about the characters is that only few of them are under the spotlights in these OVA episodes. This allows us to focus on their development, their personality, their problems and we can actually see someone behind our favorites. The anime mainly focuses on the four – Nakoruru, Rera, Rimururu and, Haomaru, leaving the others like Shiki, Garfold and the bad guy, with little time on screen and literally useless background role .
(Overall) Samurai Spirits 2 is a definite must see for all the fans of the series, for it gives a view over the personality of some of our favorite characters. It made quite positive impression on me, as I believe it would make to anyone who looks a little bit under the floor. So, I will not tell anyone, who never played the games to stay away from it, after all it’s not a bad piece of drawing.
~Read More at: http://animedeed.blogspot.com
9: Twilight Q
MAL Score: 6.34
A Knot in Time
High school students Mayumi and Kiwako are relishing their summer vacation at the beach; however, when Mayumi discovers a presumably lost camera while scuba diving, she cannot help but feel an insatiable curiosity. Upon developing the camera’s film, she is shocked to find herself photographed alongside an unknown man. Enlisting the help of Kiwako’s older brother, the three find out something even more troubling: the camera model has yet to be released. In turn, Mayumi becomes obsessed with discovering the origin of the peculiar camera and its mysterious photograph.
Airplanes have been vanishing from the sky! Even stranger, rumor has it that the disappearing aircraft have been turning into giant carp. Meanwhile, a freelance detective investigates a run-down apartment on the outskirts of town, where he finds a middle-aged man and a young girl with a penchant for fish. Unable to identify the two, the investigator enters their room, only to find it empty save for a document that reads, “This story has been prepared for you, my successor… who should be visiting this room in due time.”
As the title clearly suggests, the OVA is a sort of Twilight Zone anthology, which means the episodes don’t bear any connection plotwise, yet they have similar mysterious atmosphere and employ the same mix of genres that may be roughly described as mystery + sci-fi + mindf*ck. A very good mix, if you ask me.
The first episode called Reflection is based on a story by Kazunori Ito (the scriptwriter for Ghost in the Shell & Patlabor movies), directed by Tomomi Mochizuki (known for his work on studio Ghibli’s Ocean Waves and studio Manglobe’s House of the Five Leaves). One day, a girl named Mayumi dives into the ocean and finds a camera stuck on a coral riff; later, she discovers a film inside the camera and, much to her surprise, the film contains a picture where she poses with some guy she doesn’t even know. Obviously, she decides to find out the truth about the picture’s origins, and so the sequence of enigmatic events begins.
Without spoiling anything, the episode is simultaneously interesting and easy to follow, moving at a fine pace, providing enough twists to keep you intrigued, and offering a conclusive ending while leaving some of the mystery to the viewer’s interpretation. That being said, the story does have a certain problem, as it ends up lacking any distinctive central theme or well-defined message; and even though the episode is tagged as “romance”, it appears to be almost non-existent in the show. Besides, the story incorporates a certain ecological disaster and a certain historical event that, while interesting on their own, remain unexpanded and contribute very little to the main plotline. Eventually, the story turns out well-written and intriguing yet somewhat empty at the core.
The second episode called File 538 is cut from an entirely different cloth. Directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on his own story, it tells about a private detective spying on a father – daughter pair living next door (well, not entirely like that, but I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers). One summer night, the main character enters the apartment and finds a sleeping girl, a fish, and what seems to be a letter from another detective previously working on the same case. As he sits there reading the message, the mystery unravels before his eyes.
This episode turns out very multifaceted and surreal, as the story seamlessly blends real and dreamy events to show how we are often unable to distinguish illusion from reality and end up getting trapped into dreams; also, it provides an ironic commentary on human existence, full of dark humor and Kafka-esque transformations; and some Christian symbolism may be found here as well, although only a bit of it. In general, the story is very original, multilayered and thought-provoking, with plenty of ideas to infer and a couple of amazing revelations that I won’t spell out to avoid spoilers.
That all being said, the anime also has a very dry & demanding presentation, as the whole story is narrated very slowly by the protagonist while he sits in the room, doing nothing else at all. Thus, the show ends up way too static, not to mention a radical violation of the “show, don’t tell” rule. Thankfully, the story makes sense overall, with the protagonist factually explaining everything in the ending; the problem is, many viewers may have trouble following 20 minutes of ultra-slow & rather complex narration that precedes it.
To sum everything up, the two stories of Twilight Q turn out diametrically opposed in their strengths & weaknesses, as the first is well-presented yet has fairly little substance in it, while the second has plenty of substance and the presentation arguably too challenging for its own good. The only thing they have in common, besides the overall mysterious tone, is that both are far from perfect yet unusual & interesting, each in its own way.
If you look at the staff credits, you will see two very big names in the credits for the 1st episode: the character designs were made by Akemi Takada, who also worked on Mobile Police Patlabor, Kimagure Orange Road, Urusei Yatsura and some other classic shows; and the art director was Shichiro Kobayashi, known for working on Lupin III Castle of Cagliostro, Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, Berserk, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Nodame Cantabile, among other things. Plus, there’re some great animators in there, such as Takayuki Goto, a co-founder of studio I.G Tatsunoko, which was later renamed as Production I.G (the G in the studio’s name comes from his surname, by the way). So, no wonder that the animation in this episode is very nice: it’s very colorful, neat and detailed, with both artwork and motion done right. However, the overall style is just realistic with few unique features, and while Takada’s character designs are nice, as they always are, Kobayashi’s backgrounds don’t stand out as much as they normally do for some reason (that may be only my personal impression though). As a result, it makes the animation pleasant to watch yet rather unmemorable in the long run.
The animation in the 2nd episode is no worse although it appears much more limited at first, showing only the room where the protagonist dwells or some stills & abstract imagery going along with his speech, like airplanes in the sky; view of the city streets with clouds flying above; and other stuff like that. It all may look boring on paper, yet the visuals turn out quite impressive in their own way, which is no wonder when the art director is Hiromasa Ogura – the same man who later worked on Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Jin-Roh and FLCL among other famous anime; and the animation director is Shinji Ootsuka – a longtime Studio Ghibli animator who also assisted with key animation for Angel’s Egg, Jin-Roh, FLCL, Millenium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers. In general, the main strength here is the artistic composition that makes some clever use of stills & abstract imagery; and when things actually move, the animation is quite smooth & detailed. Also, the colors are rich, dark and pleasant to the eye, and the overall quality is very good considering the show’s age. The one and only aspect I strongly dislike is the character design of the male protagonist: while it may be a matter of subjective taste more than anything, I think it is way too grotesque, giving him a fairly ugly appearance. Perhaps, Oshii wanted him to look unusual in some way, but that remains beyond my understanding.
Overall, the animation in both episodes reflects their nature and differs the same way as the stories: the animation in the 1st episode is nice to look at yet rather forgettable; the animation in the 2nd episode is quite original & well-done, yet some questionable artistic decisions make it hardly tolerable for some viewers. Nevertheless, both display some genuine quality only hand-drawn anime can offer.
The soundtrack for both episodes by maestro Kenji Kawai consists mostly of keyboard music that isn’t really memorable, and you probably won’t even notice it if you don’t pay specific attention. However, if you do, you’ll realize that the tracks are nicely composed and they do a great job at creating the enigmatic atmosphere of the OVA. I only wish the melodies were more diverse and employed more instruments, but even this way they’re still good & fitting for the show.
The voice-acting in the first episode is fine, with nothing particularly standing out. The protagonist’s voice in the second episode is really weird, and exactly like with the character designs I have no clue why Oshii wanted him to talk that way: maybe, to make him sound mysterious? I don’t know. Well, at least I wasn’t annoyed with his voice although it did sound very strange to me.
The characters in both episodes have no remarkable personalities and few distinctive features in general: in fact, they are just gears used to keep the plot going. However, while the lack of outstanding characters is never a good thing, it may be not too bad in this case, considering the anime’s relatively short length & the very story-driven nature of the mystery genre it belongs to. Taking that into account, I believe the cast is more or less ok for this kind of show… and that’s pretty much it. I wish I could tell you more about them, but there really isn’t much else to say aside from a couple of spoilers.
While far from flawless, Twilight Q is certainly an interesting & innovative anime that may be recommended if you’re into mystery, sci-fi & mindf*ck genres or if you particularly like any of the creators involved in the project. I hope this review helps you set the right expectations before going into the show, and perhaps, you’ll enjoy it more than I did.
Twilight Q follows the format of a sci-fi anthology show like the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Which is probably where it gets the name from. Each episode focuses on a different strange scenario. In the Ajia-do episode, we follow a young girl, Mayumi, who happens across a camera that’s probably been underwater and corroded for a long time. When she has her friend’s brother investigate he comes across something strange. The camera model hasn’t been released yet. The Deen episode opens with a plane turning into a fish. We cut to a grotesque fat man and his young daughter eating noodles. The two scenes are tied together when she looks at a plane flying overhead and shouts the word “fish” at it. But what does it mean?
There are two major issues with this OVA in the context of one of those anthology shows. The first is that the characters we follow don’t have much reaction to the strange circumstances they find themselves in. In our first part, Mayumi fatalistically accepts that time travel is a thing and she’s getting a glimpse of the future without it seeming to bother her in the slightest. In the second we follow a nameless private investigator who learns the truth and, with it, the fate in store for him and he pretty much just grins and goes “well, that’s my life now.” You can’t really have stakes or tension when the characters themselves don’t give a shit. You get those things in an anthology when the focus character(s) fight(s) against his/her/their situation. That’s also how you get a compelling conflict, incidentally. Which is another thing this is lacking.
The second big issue is just that the situations themselves aren’t explored very deeply. In the first, we have the time travelling camera. Then we have Mayumi leap to two different time periods for a couple minutes each and then it all gets resolved neatly. That’s not a spoiler, by the way, we’re told pretty much the instant she leaps that it’s all going to turn out fine. Because her non-reaction wasn’t enough of a tension-drainer. We needed to be outright told how things were going to go too. In the second, most of the story revolves around our PI reading an expository note. I wish I was kidding but that is actually what’s in store for us.
About the most positive I can be is to say that the scenarios are strange enough to somewhat keep your attention and there’s nothing in them that’s really bad. It’s more that you never get any kind of strong pay off and the coverage for them remains pretty shallow and lacking in any real tension, conflict or stakes. Which isn’t cricket for this type of series.
You can probably guess what I’m basically going to say already since I kind of covered this when talking about the story issues. The problem with the characters in this comes down to one simple thing, they aren’t believable. Their reactions are just too stoic given the circumstances and it makes them tremendously boring. Kit’s interesting to see characters rage, rage against the winds of fate. It’s interesting to see characters who freak out a little bit when they find themselves in a situation that would challenge anyone’s perception of reality. Even if the character is able to compose themselves pretty quickly we still need something of a reaction. Because doing it this way is just dull.
The artwork is a bit dated. It’s pretty obvious what era it comes from. But it still holds up pretty well. The movements flow nicely and there’s a clear effort put into making the backgrounds and characters look good. The only real issue I have with it is that there’s a decided lack of strange imagery. Our first tale deals with time travel and the transition we get is a little girl on a swing. The only otherworldly sight we get is the plane turning into a carp. That’s the only interesting sight we get. Which is kind of a load of stale wank.
The problem with the acting ties into the big issue with the characters. No one involved ever sounds invested. The closest we get is some lines from Hyoudou Mako. I’m guessing she had to redo them a few times because she was being too expressive and they finally decided that they were bland enough since her character looks unconcerned during them. The music isn’t bad but it is pretty dull and forgettable. Which, I suppose, does suit the series well.
There isn’t any. Which, I’m sure, is completely unrelated to the series not having interesting character dynamics in the slightest.
Twilight Q is an OVA that really wants to be a compelling sci-fi anthology and probably tried to model itself after the Twilight Zone. The trouble it has is that the team behind it doesn’t seem to understand what made that series interesting. They seem to think that all you need is a bizarre situation. You don’t need interesting characters, a strong conflict, tension, stakes or even odd visuals. They thought that they could just throw any bland character into a strange situation and the situation itself would carry the entire thing. And that doesn’t work. I can’t call it a bad OVA since it’s more boring than anything, but I will say it’s weak. It is a sub-par work and I can’t recommend it for your anthology needs when there are much better series out there. The Final rating is going to stand at a 4/10. Next week I’m looking at Dennou Sentai Voogie’s Angel. I’ve heard things, none of them positive. So, we’ll see how that turns out.
What I liked most about this is its naturalness; strange things happen, but everything is told without resorting to the formulas of this type of stories. The colors and the animation are beautiful, the ambiance too, and despite playing with multiple historical moments, the aesthetics of the 80’s is always preserved; it doesn’t play at any time to guess what the future will be like, or how the past was.
Very good, calm, beautiful, with a great soundtrack and a fantastic capture of the summer atmosphere, of vacations, adolescence, with a sun and a wind that you seem to feel. Delightful.
In the usual line of the great Mamoru Oshii, a spectacular animation, beautiful, different, very careful.
And also like always full with dialogues, in this case a single character, a detective, who reads for almost half an hour the letter he writes to another detective who believes he will continue the investigation he has begun.
Dense, complex, visualy wonderful. Only the end is a little below.
8: Spirit of Wonder: China-san no Yuuutsu
Japanese: ザスピリットオブワンダー – チャイナさんの憂鬱
MAL Score: 6.46
Sometime during the late 19th century, a young Asian girl has made a place for herself in a seaside town as the owner and operator of the Tenkai restaurant and boarding house..
Yet “Miss China,” as the locals call her, is in the dumps. She’s got a Mad Scientist named Breckenridge living upstairs who is chronically late with the rent, and she’s pining for Jim, a handsome watchmaker’s apprentice whom she mistakenly believes is pursuing the local flower girl.
But this isn’t our world. It is a world that has the Spirit of Wonder, where every so often, just occasionally mind you, amazing things happen. The Mad Scientist actually has come up with an incredible invention, and Jim has an unbelievable plan to use it to give Miss China the most beautiful ring in all the World.
The story is about China-san or Miss China and her mad scientist tenant that never pays rent. His assistant Jim is also introduced and plays a large part in the story. Without going any further in explanation as it will spoil the story. It’s a quiet and relaxing story that will surely provide you with a warm memory.
7: Spirit of Wonder: Shounen Kagaku Club
Japanese: ザスピリットオブワンダー : 少年科學倶楽部
MAL Score: 6.57
The now 50 year old Scientific Boys Club decides to built a ship that sails to Mars on the “Ethereal Current” – a thesis of the wife of a club member which claims that the universe is flooded with Ethereal energy. On this stream they travel to Mars in order to prove an old theory about channels on Mars built by Martians, but there is no life. Many years later, when both theories are considered to be nonsense, a Mars expedition discovers a stone with the inscription “Scientific Boys Club 1954”.
I said it gives a warm atmosphere but looking at the setting you can’t help but feel a little chilly, its always snowing, but this does provide a nice touch to the landscape shots. The setting is never really touched upon but they all have English names. Now although not strictly a comedy one could hardly call it a drama, there are a few times you will want to say “Jack, get your fucking ass home to your wife.” But there love is strong and the old guys provide enough humour.
There are only six character to appear in the whole show, not surprising with it being only two episodes. Jack has a job in which he must travel away and the story starts with his return, he lives with his wife and her Father and doesn’t seem to be able to hold his drink, Windy his wife is an eduacated girl, she published a book about Ethreal and the Scientific Boys Club are the only ones to have taken it seriously, she helps them out throughout providing answers to equations and genrally setting them straight. The three old men of the club are the main highlight, Windy’s Father seems like the leader of the group, the Einstein look man is funny, he is a bit of a perv flipping a couple of girls skirts and is the main source of the comedy, the other member stays rather quiet and isn’t really involved in the plot but is always around. Not forgetting of course Miss China has a few cameo roles.
Art is rather simple and seems a little dated like something from the 90s rather than 2001 but the landscape shots were nice and it didn’t effect the show it self. Animation wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great either, something like a motorbike heading of in the distance didn’t even become smaller as it faded off, characters were all well drawn and stayed proportion mostly.
Sound is decent, the general background noises were bland, the sound of trees and the wind blowing were what you would expect them to sound like but wasn’t much variety in it. No music stood out, it all fit nicely into the scenes and the credits song was a cool big band type song and was a decent listen to.
Overall for an hours worth of OAV spread oout over two episode you can’t go wrong, especially if you enjoyed the prequal as this gave off a very similar feeling to it, its got a clam feel about it and is something to sit back and relax, there are no bad guys to worry about, no one to get into the way of out characters, a nice gentle comedy that will make you go ‘D’aaaawwww’ a few times.
The Scientific Boys Club is a wonderful, “modern” sci-fi fairytale about a woman and three old men achieving their pipe dreams… and a drunk guy.
Imagine grandpa tells you about the time he flew to Mars on a ship he built with two of his old buddies and a drunkard, based on some completely bogus theory. That’s total nonsense, right? But what if it /were/ true?
That’s the point of Spirit of Wonder: Scientific Boys Club.
It’s a very feel-good story, not just because of the slow pacing and realistic characters, but also because it grants the unrealistic wishes of these characters. Windy’s scientific theories were mocked and proven wrong, and now she’s a stay-at-home wife. The three old dudes of the scientific boys club have believed for 50 years in a totally nonsensical claim that aliens live on Mars. But luckily for them, this is a story where pigs fly and the sky falls down, and all their unbelievably fantastic dreams are fulfilled.
This ova is the total opposite of “hard” science fiction, where all the science-y stuff has to be scientifically accurate. Instead, Tsuruta has gone out of his way to emphasize how non-scientific everything is. It’s a sci-fi that’s not supposed to be sci — not supposed to be believable. And it feels so good.
P.S.: for more reading, I wrote a bit more with spoilers here: http://flomu.net/blog/2018/12/spirit-of-wonder-scientific-boys-club
The story is shallow and nothing interesting happens at all; you are left with a couple of beautiful, very well-animated scenes, but no compelling events for the plot. They study, they drink, they build a kind of spaceship, go on their mission and… That’s it.
It’s like you’re seeing a slideshow of some trip your uncle Joe went to in 1979 and all he talks about is how good it was, but you get no feeling out of it, you just can’t relate. Uncle Joe is a bad storyteller. Maybe he worked on Spirit of Wonder.
The animation is adorable, the designs, the colors, the faces of the characters, all make you smile. Good music, it gets the mood right.
You don’t get to know the characters very well. This is why I’m saying it’s pretty difficult to care about something here. All you see them talking about is science. Ok, the title is SCIENTIFIC Boys Club. But at least I was expecting some kind of uh deep human relationships. I see they laugh, argue and smile, loving science together, but I don’t see why. I can’t understand how. Windy is the only likeable character there, yet she almost never talk.
If you’re not expecting a compelling story and just wants to kill time, this can be a good, beautiful surprise. For me, personally, it didn’t work.
6: Hikyou Tanken Fam & Ihrlie
English: Ruin Explorers Fam & Ihrie
Japanese: 秘境探検 ファム＆イーリー
MAL Score: 6.65
Fam and Ihrie are willing to do almost anything to make a buck. So when these debt-driven damsels discover the potential profits to be hand in recovering a particularly dangerous mystical object, it means mortal peril for an entire civilization.
There’s no guarantee that they’ll live long enough to squander the fabulous wealth they’ve been promised, and danger lurks around every turn as they cross dark seas in pursuit of legendary evil. Haunted by an unspeakable curse, plagued by doomsday prophecies, plotted against by untrustworthy traveling companions and looked in desperate race to gain the Ultimate Power, Fam and Ihrie are the Ruin Explorers!
To start, let’s cover the superficial aspects. Ruin Explorers is not from the twenty-first century, so there isn’t the modern art style to accompany this. That shouldn’t be objectively placed with a positive or a negative, but the art style here is a bit different from stuff made today. The character’s faces look very angular, like a bit more of an extreme version of “Evangelion”. It started off as strange as I haven’t seen that particular style before, but I quickly not only got used to it, but began to like it for what it was. The art style isn’t too hard to like either when considering the fantastic animation at play. For the art style present, the proportion-work is perfect as I didn’t notice one moment where it failed to stay consistent. The animation itself is also very smooth and is basically feature-film quality.
That isn’t the end of paying respects to the animation, however, as there are other elements that are done tremendously well. Firstly, Ruin Explorers has to be one of the most vibrant, fantasy anime in terms of the color scheme and the richness of said color. For being sub-HD, the footage contains plenty fo grain that makes the colors really stand out. That aids in making the entire package feel powerful in each visual aspect, and don’t think that doesn’t include direction. To start, the art direction is about what it should be, but isn’t too unique. The art director aids in crafting a solid fantasy environment, making everything look great in terms of what you would expect, but there aren’t too many unique traits to it. While the art director doesn’t hold anything back, the director of what literally goes on, in what way, is the person whose earned most of the credit. The director has taken four nearly 20-minute episodes and was nearly able to fit the sensation of growth and excitement that one could find in an entire 12-episode series. Everything is given just the right amount of time, and there isn’t any worrying over the the amount remaining, as the director isn’t afraid to add in some moderately lengthy moments of pure character interaction – leading to considerable development. He’s also quite creative in how he chooses to present scenes, and although the story isn’t too unique or complex, there were several moments I felt surprised to how events turned or how characters would act the next time we see them. Remember Takeshi Mori because either he has only done a great job here, or he is one great director (haven’t yet seen his other works but he has my attention). I have seen a bit of “Gunsmith Cats”, which he directed and was great as-well, and “Skull Man” is also noteworthy from what I’ve heard.
Paying attention to individuals doesn’t end with the art, however, but only becomes more evident when turning to the sound of Ruin Explorers. Firstly, the fact I can put the composer near that of the soundtrack of “Dragon Quest 8” is a huge accomplishment. The soundtrack is fully orchestrated, and I’ll admit I can be a huge sucker for orchestrations. However, these were done exceptionally well and could’ve easily fit into some live-action movie of the time and likely made it at least known by having the soundtrack included. Don’t expect to find the soundtrack outside of the OVA though, as only some of the vocals were released. The man behind it is Masamichi Amano, also having composed for “Bio Hunter” (which was quite good) and numerous other smaller series I haven’t seen yet. Give him attention, as well as the sound director. For just having watched a bit of the show “Real Drive” and it’s horrible sound directing with non-stop compositions, what Yota Tsuruoka had for me here was a blessing. He really knows when are the right moments for either effective use of tracks that really only have one use, or using tracks in more general situations to make them more intriguing. He’s done plenty of famous shows, including everything Clannad, and I know I loved Clannad’s sound directing at the time. Again, pay your respects.
So, the story of Ruin Explorers is basically your typical “Dragon Quest” story-line. However, in a way we don’t follow the hero as much here, making for a more interesting look at things. How it develops is quite interesting in the moderately unpredictable nature, so I’ll leave that at that. We do have a quest of retrieving a set list of items, however, to find and collect. The beginning of every episode will also name itself as a “Turn”, like “Turn 1” or “Turn 2”. The saturated colors also reminisce that of “Dragon Quest”. So with the continual comparisons, the setting of these OVA can likely be understood. The story is similar to that of an RPG, and for that reason it isn’t anything too impactful all on its own. However, there are a few interesting imaginative elements to the world, and it still isn’t a story where the ending can be seen from the first episode.
The storytelling is dynamic, and that is its strength. That strength also drips down into a bit of what makes the characters of Ruin Explorers so interesting. We have our growing list of party members, but who ends up staying and being discovered is quite uncertain as things go on. There is a limited amount of time to present everything, and the OVA realizes that it doesn’t have to put the focus on a deep plot when having such a time-limit, but on the characters. As the story is the backpack that the characters choose to change at their will, the characters feel free of any contrived use and all feel like genuine individuals. Each are given a differing personality, some slightly cliche in relating to archetypes, but most are forgivable when relating those archetypes to what is expected in a fantasy setting. The characters all don’t exactly develop, but they all interact in reasonable ways that give them all a bit of outward confidence. Each of these characters becomes familiar, maybe not by name, but by being cared about by the viewer. They more serve as fundamental components to the group than a named character. That isn’t the same to the two, main characters, however.
We have a female warrior, “Ihrlie”, as arguably the true main character who doesn’t feel a need for romance and is an example of what a character like Asuna could have been. It’s a character you can respect for being independent and, again, confident. She is also given a bit of a back-story which doesn’t hold back the plot, but is told in a manner that flows nicely with it. That could be said even more to her assistant, “Fam”. Fam is a character who doesn’t carry as much of a back-story, but interacts heavily with specific characters in the story. She also develops as an individual by pushing for change and internally becoming stronger. She doesn’t have that prior history, again, but is almost used as a catalyst to moving the plot forward. She is the doer in that her actions lead unexpected changes to many situations, slowly trying to make those changes more controlled. Ihrlie doesn’t develop as much as Fam in learning herself, but in a way the charm of Ihrlie is that she already knows herself.
Ruin Explorers is the typical, RPG plot done right when translated to film. It understands that the literal goal of an RPG isn’t the bulk of interest, but the adventure and the characters that are met, coming along with a nip of unpredictability. The art style isn’t something that would be done now, but isn’t hard to get used to thanks to the excelling budget. The music is fantastic and the direction for it as-well. There is also an opening and ending theme, but the ending theme takes the cake with being a tune that grows on you by the end. The characters are done to their best for the time given, and that isn’t a low degree by any stretch of the imagination. Not many times do I finish an OVA and feel a bit of the same withdrawal that one might feel when finishing “Fullmetal Alchemist”. I want to see more of these characters, but that’s not going to happen. Possibly to my luck, however, a series called “Slayers” was popular enough in the past to get a lengthy series. I’ve heard numerous comparisons of the two’s styles, so that may be the next best place to go for more. Ruin Explorers is an unexpected hit in my book, and is recommended to all those who can tolerate well-animated, old art. It may be convincing to you to know that there’s a ganguro girl present (the rare creatures). Also, it’s recommended to stick to the english sub with this one, overall better performances.
The story takes us to a fantasy world where people called Ruin Explorers do their work in order to either stay alive by finding at least something valuable or they search for mythical treasures of immense power. In this world Ihrie and Fam are on a search for the “Ultimate Power” in order to fulfil their wishes. Along the way they meet a few other characters with the same idea on mind as them, a prince who wishes to avenge himself for the demise of his kingdom and you can pretty much guess how it all turns out. By now you may already think that there isn´t really much of originality in the story or the settings but the way the story is told and how it all unfolds is a rather refreshing return to the good old days when fantasy anime were still all about magic and monsters rather than fanservice and commerciality. But I would also lie if I said that this show is perfect. It has it´s minor setbacks and not all things are cleared or explained in the end but the ending is nice and satisfactory never the less.
The number of characters in this show is rather low but who´d need more in a 4 episode OVA, right ? The main duo Ihrie and Fam are done nicely, each having their own distinctive personality which only contributes to the old days of fantasy anime. Ihrie being the headstrong tomboy with mild temper and swords flying around while Fam is the gentle and innocent type that would never hurt a fly and is the main source of “accidents” which put a smile on your face. The rest of the supporting characters are pretty much as you´d expect them to be. You have the rivals, the greedy merchant, the arch-villain and a handsome prince looking for revenge. The downside (more or less) is that none of the characters is actually looked at deeply. Meaning that aside from a glimpse of Ihries´ and the princes´ background there isn´t almost any character development.
The art is the same as the entire anime – old school. The character models, the backgrounds, the depth of the colours or the details. Everything is as it should be considering the age of this anime. It all smells of nostalgia and the good old days of anime like Slayers or Gokudou-kun Manyuuki. Of course, it´s no eye-candy like today’s shows but it has it´s own ring to it and if you aren´t an addict to the modern looks of anime this will hardy be a distraction or a negative for you.
The OP and the ED are nice but you´ll probably skip them after the first time hearing them. They too are in the tone of the old ways but that doesn´t mean they´re bad, just that they aren´t that good either, but how can you judge until you hear it for yourself, no ?
It was rather nice to once again see a fantasy anime that actually is a fantasy anime. Don´t get me wrong, I have nothing against modern fantasy anime but it´s just that the old ones seem to be a bit more true to the genre than the modern ones. All in all, the show was entertaining despite how short it was so I don´t see a reason why not give it a try.
Ruin Explorers is a nice yet short anime that isn´t that great and doesn´t really stand out that much yet it still manages to bee good enough to entertain you for the entire run of the 4 episodes. The story is nice (yet maybe not so original), the characters are likeable, the art is nothing to be afraid of and the sound is also nothing horrible. So, what are you still waiting for ? ^^
(5)- Anywhere, anytime, as many times as you like!
(4)-Definitely worth seeing more than 3 times…
(3)-Once for regular viewer, 2 (or even 3) times for a fan.
(2)- Seeing once is more than enough.
(1)- Impossible to even reach the end…
Stereotypical classic JRPG nonsense. Heroes are on a quest to retrieve a set of magical items that a powerful villain is searching for as well. Beyond that are plot points that become disposed of quickly and by the end of the 2 hour run-time you’re comfortable not knowing the ending to a few sub-plots. The narrative doesn’t take itself very seriously with a plethora of jokes hackneyed throughout, and at the points it becomes somewhat serious it’s still rather basic and doesn’t try anything fancy. Straight forward, but not schlock. Thank goodness. All of this comes together to become a check-list of classic fantasy adventure tropes that get checked off one by one. That’s alright, since I wasn’t really asking for much more after 2 episodes in. It satisfied me enough and I found it pretty enjoyable, even if one episode ends with the characters ship-wrecked and the next episode starts with them in the middle of a desert.
I really enjoy the 90’s rough sketch look of this anime but with that comes some other lazy animation decisions. For instance, the action is non-existent. It became very evident that after the first episode I wouldn’t be witnessing a shred of combat. I believe there are roughly 3 sequences of actual hack-and-slash while the rest are the heroes surrounding by creatures (a very limited bestiary, by the way) and then the next scene the creatures are defeated. Again, not to bothersome. None of it really questioned my intelligence or made me feel like I missed out on anything. Rather, it’s like a check-list similar to the tropes that needed to be knocked off in the story.
The setting is largely barren and uninspired. Deserts are easy to animated. Oceans are easy to animate. Destroyed locations are easy to animate because it’s rubble. I would have appreciated some more, I don’t know, ‘definition’ to the setting, but that would require another episode to elaborate on some certain aspects, such as “this swamp has X history and Y lore and so we must be careful.” And then it turns into filler. More of a story critique, but how the art is handled can affect the story.
The Soundtrack was actually pretty good, but after 4 episodes it’s repeat songs that lose their effect. Unfortunate, as the directive approach towards the music was pretty fantastical and had adventure at it’s core. Very cool, but wears thin quick.
Sound effects were forgettable and all stock stuff everyone has heard before. One creature repeated the same battle-cry over and over and it became less so intimidating and more-so irritating. I couldn’t wait for it to die.
Sufficient. Ihrie was quite interesting but the narrative shifts its leads haflway in and she gets put on the backburner. A shame, but nothing could be done. The narrative introduces Lyle in the second episode who becomes the backbone of the stories progression, so it couldn’t be helped that the original 2 characters get knocked back.
Everyone is stock. There’s nothing all that interesting here. It’s just basic but in the end gets the job done.
Content. It was neat. Had the run time been more than 4 episodes I can guarantee that my interest would have waned.
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5: Koko wa Green Wood
English: Here is Greenwood
Japanese: ここはグリーン ウッド
MAL Score: 6.82
Hasukawa Kazuya is in a terrible bind. His brother’s new wife is also the woman that Kazuya secretly loves. Determined to avoid them both, Kazuya leaves home to live in the student dorm called Greenwood. There, he hopes to find peace of mind. Unfortunately for Kazuya, stability and peace are the last things one might find at Greenwood – home of the weirdest characters on campus.
I fell in love with this show when I was a teenager. It holds a dear place in my heart. So my review is incredibly biased but then again aren’t all reviews?
The best thing about Greenwood to me with how fun it was to watch. Even though there are only six episodes I felt they did a great job with theme selection per episode. Each episode minus 5 and 6 have their own unique story. Because the characters are likable, they work very well regardless of theme or story. I know my review is a bit vague but I don’t believe delving into the details matter. This is a comedic, light hearted, slice of life Anime. It’s not for everyone but if that’s your thing then I would suggest giving it a go.
The episodes feel really rushed, making things confusing. It’s like we are reading Kazuya’s journal and he’s not too good at writing it. A lot of the time, they seem to be saying ‘go read the manga’ which of course is something I hate about these animes. I really don’t get the episode that they have a ghost in it. It just seems like a bit of a stretch to do that.
Other then the episodes and the odd characters, one thing it has is pretty much a lot of is understanding of feelings. All the characters have problems with something in their lives. The way they show off these issues helps make them understandable. Sadly, we don’t get the whole story as again, this is only 6 episodes and they skip so much that’s in the manga.
The animation is pretty much on the low side, I think partly because of being vintage and partly because of the low budget. It’s pretty boring animation and nothing really stands out.
The English voices are really off for the women and the men feel a little un-emotional most of the time. I can’t stand Sumire’s voice. It’s really high pitched and annoying. I also don’t understand why she keeps saying Ya as well. Is she supposed to be Chinese or something? There really was no music that stood out to me at all. Normally its way to quiet to get any music or it’s just so standard that there was no change in it.
The show is basically just bland and doesn’t stand out but it is still worth a watch.
I found the characters really nice in general, and there were some great lines in here. Nagisa was super funny at times, although I’m sure some viewers would find her annoying, and Shinobu’s bluntness also made for some great comedic moments. The main character is pretty bland in contrast to the characters around him, which is probably half due to him being the straight man of the series, and half due to MC Syndrome. All in all, the characters are pretty good!
The art in the show looks great to me – classic 90s style – and I especially enjoyed the character design. Side characters actually had relatively elaborate design, at least compared to the faceless blurs that are often seen in anime. Overall, I think the show looks great!
However, since the show was released in the early 90s, there are some parts that don’t age too well, which may catch some off-guard to begin with, but there’s nothing glaringly problematic, so, at least to me, it remains a good watch even now.
4: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe
Japanese: ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 Quiet Country Cafe
MAL Score: 7.14
In the near-future Japan, global warming has brought the large city Yokohama underwater, and only the hills remain above the ocean surface. What used to be one of the largest cities in Japan now feels like a small town. Basically, the existence of the island country itself has been threatened. However, there is no feeling of desperation, devastation, nor hopelessness. People are enjoying laid-back lives, and they seem to appreciate each other’s company, enjoying the quiet and peaceful time together.
This is especially so with Alpha, a carefree young woman who runs a cafe, named Cafe Alpha. She enjoys her life immersing herself in the beautiful nature all around her. There is nothing more precious to her than spending quality time with her kind friends. Oh, the fulfillment and the joy she finds in life… it all indicates her to be a compassionate human being, but she is not quite a human. She is actually a type A7M2 robot.
One day, upon hearing a radio forecast warning an approaching typhoon, her old friend who lives close by invites her to the gas station he runs, worried that her old cafe may not withstand the typhoon. Indeed, the passing of typhoon leaves Alpha with her cafe severely damaged. That’s when she decides to go on a journey to raise money to rebuild her cafe, and also to see the outside world away from her friends and the comfort of a peaceful life.
The second set of YKK OVAs is significantly not as good as the first. Main reason: the dystopian elements of the world were absent. Here’s this beautiful, water-covered world, and they mostly only show parts that may as well be current-day Japan. The art is just bog-standard and sub-par. There’s nothing you haven’t seen 100 times before and drawn better elsewhere.
Also, there’s the lingering ass shots. They even introduce Misago in the second half of the second of two OVAs, just so the show can have some boobs. She has no lines, interacts with no-one, and the only acknowledgement of her existence is a random line from other characters. I don’t know whose idea it was to frame so many shots as potential fanservice, but they fundamentally didn’t understand what YKK was about.
Story: 9 (Great)
The story doesn’t necessarily pick up from the previous OVA, and can stand alone on its own without having watched the other OVA before hand.
Alpha Hatusueno is a very human-like robot in the form of a young woman, who has befriended Kokone, another female robot much like her. Alpha runs a cafe on the outskirts of a Yokohama devastated by rising water levels as she waits for the return of her never-see owner; however, a strong typhoon approaches, and threatens to wipe the cafe off the map. Her human friend Ojisan comes to "rescue" her and wish her away to his gas station which can weather the storm better, but Alpha is still left to worry about the future of the cafe and of herself.
After the typhoon, Alpha decides that it’s time to leave Yokohama and explore what the world beyond has to offer. In her absence, some of her friends will move on and explore the world in their own ways, while others will not be so willing to let go and explore Alpha’s world in her absence.
The first episode corresponds to Chapter 62 Typhoon and Chapter 63 My Place in the manga, while the second episode is a massive condensation of what some fans like to refer to as the Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (or Yokohama Shopping Log) arc, comprising the next 15 chapters, with more focus being given on some chapters than other (some chapters are compressed to just a few seconds). The second OVA also adds details not present in the manga – for example, focus is added to Kokone’s relationship with Alpha, arguably changing the nature of that relationship in the process. The OVA also seems to suppose that the Misago is an Alpha-type robot, a notion Ayase shot down in the manga, plays up some of the dynamics between Takahiro and Makki (a welcome change) and other subtle changes YKK fans might be able to catch.
The remaining things the OVA changes from the manga in regards to story are generally done very well. Through the dynamic subtleties and nuances added through animation, the characters and story flow are able to expand and show additional depth. Though the story does suffer from the massive compression, like the OVA before it brings to life the story of Alpha’s journey.
Speaking of which, Alpha’s journey is given subtle yet significant changes as well. The manga presented it mostly as an exploration of Alpha’s world through her eyes, but the OVA’s presentation is set up more for exploring Alpha herself with her world as a backdrop (perhaps to compensate for the compressed time in which to characterize her). Personally, I actually like the OVA’s presentation better in this regard, since Alpha herself is one of the reasons why I was drawn to the manga in the first place and why I find it so endearing.
Also, +1, yay, overtly lesbian Kokone 😉 Also, boo, -1 for seeing Alpha using the restroom :p
Fun fact: Persimmons never grow to be that size, which, at best, are only able to grow to about the size of a grapefruit and are normally the size of tomatoes. YKK fans who have read chapters taking place after this would probably consider it an interesting clue as to some of the events responsible for Yokohama’s devastation in the unseen past.
Art: 9 (Great)
In my opinion, the art doesn’t quite match up with the manga and is even a slight retrograde from the previous OVA (despite being done four years later and by the predecessor of Aniplex, who would later be attached to such groundbreaking projects and personal favorites as FullMetal Alchemist and my favorite anime of all, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The character designs are especially noticeable; don’t get me wrong, they’re still great, but somehow they strike me as being more "generic" compared to the manga. Not to mention, once again, for some reason, the colors still seemed washed out.
The scenery and backgrounds do get some improvement and benefit from the digital art technology that was becoming more in-vogue and mainstream in 2002. It really is something to see these locales come to life, to the delight of any YKK fan.
Sound: 10 (Outstanding)
The sound is pretty much unchanged from the first OVA, including the soothing, calm gekkin music. We’re also treated to a new ED song, Furawura, Furawura (Wandering, Wandering which is just an amazing musical piece, and definitely worth sticking around for (not to mention the story continues after the ED, and even incorporates the ED into the storytelling). It is a rather saccharine scene to watch Alpha review her memories as the song plays.
Character: 9 (Great)
The characterization is overall great, and overall benefits from the transition to animation as with the previous OVA, but at the same time this OVA takes liberties to change perhaps the one key relationship in the entire manga. Particularly, the OVA goes out of its way to change the nature of Kokone and her relationship with Alpha; in the manga, for example, the relationship is presented in a rather neutral manner, allowing the readers to make up their minds on their own and fill in the details. There’s an in-joke within the YKK fanbase that Kokone is a raging lesbian who has a hard-on obsession stalking Alpha, but for the most part their relationship is just presented as being on some level above a regular friendship. This OVA, on the other hand, takes the "raging lesbian" in-joke perhaps a little too seriously for some YKK fans to swallow – Kokone goes so far as to fondle sleeping Alpha’s breasts in the opening of the first episode, and in the second episode appears to be having a little too much fun and anxiety (and perhaps even obsession) being in Alpha’s room.
Alpha, on the other hand, is treated with more respect, and we gain a true sense of intimacy with the character (the good kind, for us, not the kind Kokone apparently wants). The viewers really do begin to feel what kind of person Alpha is, what brings excitement to her life, what her hopes and anxieties are, and some of the loneliness and nostalgia she begins to feel as she decides its finally time to head home. Once again, the animation, for the most part, uses the new medium to its advantage to add and intensify the characters through movement and voice.
Enjoyment: 10 (Outstanding)
Quiet Country Cafe isn’t perfect; it isn’t a perfect transition to animation and it’s not even quite as good as its predecessor, but we’re still treated to more of what many YKK fans have been wanting since the end of the manga: more of Alpha and getting to know her rich character in greater depth. Whether or not you’ll enjoy the somewhat re-imagined characterization of Kokone or the attempt to compress 15 chapters into 30 minutes, you’ll still come away with a great feeling of warmth and satisfaction from what this OVA has to deliver.
Final score for Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe:
Just like the prequel, this is just the right anime to watch when you want to relax and get the pulse down. Accompanied with a hot cup of coffée you are definitely on the right track!
3: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
MAL Score: 7.36
After a disaster leaves the world in a state of decline, the remaining human population lives out their lives peacefully and quietly in the twilight of the human age. Alpha Hatsuseno is an android who works at a cafe bordering Yokohama that rarely gets visitors, and is waiting for her owner to return.
One day, another android, the courier Kokone Takatsu, brings Alpha a package from her master. Inside is a camera, given to Alpha so she can take pictures to reminisce about.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a slow and contemplative anime that follows an android girl as she takes beautiful pictures and experiences touching moments, all amidst a calming sense of peace.
After watching, I prefer the manga. This is probably due to the fact that it\’s in colour and to me, they\’re ill suited. Also the art in the OVA looks dated by now, yet the manga manages to avoid that.
It\’s not easy to rate, never mind describe the story, to give it justice. And perhaps that was the idea, to make you feel things rather than tell you a story? It is not unlike sitting and looking at a sunset or watching a field of grass swaying in the wind. The slow pace, simple story line and gentle music help reinforce a feeling of relaxation and watching the world go by. If you\’re a person who can\’t appreciate things like that, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou may not be for you.
Story: 9 (Great)
The story concerns Alpha Hatsusueno, an android (or gynoid, to be gender-specific) who lives on the outskirts of what’s left of Yokohama, Japan after rising sea levels destroyed most of the city. She spends her days running a cafe and waiting for the return of her owner, who has left for reasons and parts unknown. One day, she receives a visitor – a young woman named Kokone, who is here to drop off a special package for her along with a message. When Alpha asks for the contents of the message, she discovers something special about Kokone – she, too, is a robot!
Alpha and Kokone quickly become friends, and the two begin to explore the world around them, aided by the gift sent by Alpha’s owner – a camera that can directly interface with robots. Kokone returns to her delivery service, leaving Alpha feeling lonely again. She then decides to head out on her own to discover for herself what the world offers for her to photograph and preserve.
After going out to pick up a new rake, the skies above Alpha’s little scooter start to darken; before long, a heavy rain sets in. Suddenly, a lightning strike out of nowhere! Alpha will now have to cope with trying to survive and the changes she’ll face after her recovery.
Alpha decides to try out her new camera and becomes greatly dissatisfied with some of the shots she takes. She searches for the perfect shot, but is suddenly overtaken by a faint memory she barely remembers, one that goes back to the very day she was first activated.
The corresponding manga chapters covered by the OVA’s two episodes are, in order,Chapter 7 Afternoon February 2, Chapter 8 1 by 1, Chapter 9 300 Image Capacity,Chapter 4 Rain and After, Chapter 12 Navi and Chapter 22 Yokosuka Cruise – note that Chapters 8 and 9 and Chapters 12 and 22 have been combined into a single half-episode each.
The story faithfully reproduces the ones told in the original manga chapters, but adds special touches as well. We see the dynamics of the wonderous splendor of Alpha’s world, as well as the dynamics of her special relationship with Kokone (special in more ways than one :). Many of the subtleties of Alpha’s character that can only be told through movement are revealed to us as well. We also see a little more backstory and a few changes here and there between the OVA and the manga – Alpha remembers or at least admits a little bit about what it was like being around before robots were common. Overall, the execution is great and it’s clear that the animators and producers were careful to preserve and enhance the environment and characters of the manga, though I wish we could’ve seen the world through the perspective of Alpha’s camera more often.
Art: 9 (Great)
The art is terrific and faithfully reproduces or even enhances the art style of the manga, but sadly the colors come off as a little washed-out, especially in regards to Alpha and Kokone.With that said, the animation takes us one step closer towards experiencing this futuristic world of Yokohama for ourselves, and brings Alpha and Kokone one step closer to our world.
Sound: 10 (Outstanding)
The music sets a benchmark for anime of this genre and is performed by Choro Club who also gave us the soundtrack for ARIA; much of it is performed with a gekkin, the same type of stringed musical instrument Alpha plays in the manga and seen in the OVA. Background an incidental music factor in heavily, much more so than other works. The music very much correlates to the imagery on-screen and tells us through audio the type of laid-back world Alpha sees, despite the many hardships she and her friends have to put up with.
Character: 10 (Outstanding)
In many ways the characterization of Alpha, Kokone, and the others exceeds that of the manga, since we’re treated to many nuances the manga is simply not able to show. We see in Alpha a certain kind of endearing naivety as she begins to see things for the first time from differing perspectives, yet at the same time, we see a strong-willed young woman who is not only capable of taking care of herself but highly values the bonds she has with what has become her human family. The animation does much to bring these characters alive through these nuances and interactions with others and their environment, bringing these characters one step closer to reality.
Enjoyment: 9 (Great)
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is almost as much of a masterpiece as its source material but is not without its flaws that detracts from its enjoyment. The washed-out colors are distracting, especially when I was expecting the vibrant green and purple of Alpha’s and Kokone’s hair to be carried over from the manga. Despite that, the OVA still does a magnificent job of breathing life into Hitoshi Ashinano’s still images and ephemeral snapshots, and for this alone it is a highly recommended and regarded piece.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is given a final score of:
It may well be the single most boring thing I have ever seen in my life. The main character spent a good fifteen minutes trying to take a photo but being unable to get the right shot. That’s it. Later on, she looks at some lights under a lake. It’s a pretty sight, no doubt, and there’s nothing wrong with a scene of atmospheric tranquility, but it goes like this: lingering shot of lights, lingering shot of face, lingering shot of lights, lingering shot of face, lingering shot of lights, lingering shot of face, lingering shot of lights, lingering shot of face….in silence for at least five minutes. I can’t see any way in which that’s anything less than incredibly dull.
And the animation! I’ve seen reviews praising the way the animation brings the main character’s personality out vividly – but it’s a lie! The art isn’t bad, but the animation is downright poor. Alpha (the main character) has two expressions: ‘slack-jawed gawp’, and ‘suprise’ – and it soon becomes obvious that ‘surprise’ is the same slack-jawed gawp but with pink cheeks. The only other recurring character is the old man down the road, and he has only one expression! His facial features never move more than a fraction of an inch!
The worst example of animation in this, though, was the scooter-sideways incident. There was a sustained shot of Alpha riding her scooter, ‘filmed’ from behind. This was fine on the straight stretch of road, but then she came to some kind of curve or bend – but it took me a moment to realise that’s what it was meant to be, because what actually happens is she leans slightly and moves directly sideways. It’s HIDEOUS.
I’m completely nonplussed by the seemingly universal love of this anime. It makes watching paint dry seem eventful; at least paint progresses from wet to dry. The technical ineptitude only serves to make the experience painful as well as boring, leaving me with a weird feeling of being sedated and then beaten with wads of damp tissue paper.
2: Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen OVA
Japanese: 本好きの下剋上 ～司書になるためには手段を選んでいられません～ OVA
MAL Score: 7.47
Eustachius no Shitamachi Sennyuu Dai Sakusen (Eustachius’ Incognito Operation Downtown)
To get more information about Myne and her strange background, Head Priest Ferdinand sends two nobles, Eustachius and Eckhard, to investigate everything regarding her life within her hometown. However, things do not go the way they expected.
Corinna-sama no Otaku Houmon (Visiting Missus Corinna)
Otto’s wife, Corinna, takes an interest in the outfit that Myne wore at her baptism. Corinna summons her alongside her mother, Eva, and sister, Turi, wishing to know the procedure in making such sophisticated attire and accessories. Naturally, for Myne, she sees an excellent opportunity for profit.
A side story continuation of the show since it takes directly from being up to date in the continuity of the anime.
Two 12 minute parts which are separated by the crude hand-drawn segment at the end of each part.
First one revolving around an investigation of sorts and the second a visit and negotiation.
The art style is exactly as before. This is a really nice quality.
The sound is exactly as before. This is great too.
Characters show a bit of development with supporting characters seeing more of Myne that they had not before which was nice. Seeing one of the new characters in part 1 made for an interesting development of personality. Turi was pretty cute as usual and seeing the mum act out of the normal was nice too.
The OVA set was really nice to watch and enjoy. Sets up nicely for going forward to the next season of the show.
This OVA is composed by two stories, supposedly from two chapters taken from the manga. Not much happens here, it could be avoided, but if you’re a fan and already love the story of the Bookworm girl you can leisurely add this to your watching list.
The first one is more interesting than the second and introduces new characters that are intrigued by the girl Main and as to the second one I’ll just say it’s about a joyous ocassion for some of the secondary characters.
Consider this as a anecdotical appetizer before continuing onto the second season.
There’s nothing much to say about it, it’s fun, it’s enjoyable, it’s like a 15 episode. The quality is as good as in the anime, be it story, characters or art. We get to see the little bussiness man in Myne again, as she negotiates with Benno. Otto’s wife, Corinna, appears more in here so I’m quite happy about it because we didn’t see her very much in the anime.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable episode.
1: Genshiken OVA
Japanese: げんしけん OVA
MAL Score: 7.65
It’s the start of a new year for the Genshiken crew, and that means recruiting new members. Always a dreaded task, The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture manages to get Chika Ogiue pushed onto them from the Manga Club. With her introduction of “I’m Ogiue and I hate otaku,” this year certainly will be anything but boring.
Genshiken follows the daily lives of the members of a university-based club consisting mainly of otaku. They watch anime and read manga (Kujibiki Unbalance-related doujinshi mainly), play hentai games, put together Gundam models and visit the big fair known as ComiFes twice a year. Genshiken does not offer a quasi-philosophical storyline full of twists and riddles. There are some serious moments, but all in all we’re talking pure, awesome comedy.
New to the club is Ogiue Chika. For some reason, she jumped out the window from the university’s manga club and the chairman suggested that she’d join Genshiken instead. The first thing she says when she enters the club room is that she absolutely hates otaku. However, it is soon revealed that her secret passion is drawing and reading yaoi and it’s hard for her not to imagine indecent scenes starring the male members of the club. Every time her secret passion is talked about, she gets flustered and starts blathering incoherently in her Touhoku accent. Ogiue alone makes Genshiken OVA (and season two) worth watching. I love her.
Another new member is Manabu Kuchiki. He made an apperance in the first season, but for some reason, he didn’t join Genshiken. Kuchi, as he wants to be called, is one of the most crazy and whimsical characters I’ve ever encountered. In real life, I would hate him. However, together with Ogiue he adds a batch of randomness that the first season lacked and I can’t help but love his frequent and crazy outbursts.
Genshiken OVA isn’t impressive audiovisually. The art and animation are decent but far from marvelous. This being a comedy anime, it doesn’t matter that much, in my opinion. Same goes for the music: it fits the mood and is rather enjoyable.
Genshiken’s main strength is the characters and the two new members of the group add a lot of humour of the kind that the first season was lacking. The OVA is a great introduction to the second season and offers some of the best laughs I’ve ever experienced watching anime. Wathcing these three episodes of pure awesomness is an hour well spent.
Story wise Genshiken is amazing but you can really say much because there are only three OVA’s, but it’s really the same awesomeness of the Genshiken series
The music is the same which give it a Familiar feel. The opening and ending are great giving it more of a feel like Genshiken.
The Art is what really let these OVA down; the backgrounds are fine it’s just the characters. After the great art we had with Genshiken I thought it would be just as great but it is a real let down the characters look really retarded and their expressions are even worse it looks like someone drew the characters in paint.
The characters are the same crazy otakus doing what they do best: be otaku. Some more characters are added and their lives continue.
If the like Genshiken then you will like the OVAs. If you hoping for the same art then you will be disappointed.
You will like the Genshiken OVA’s if you’re a fan of Genshiken. It would be really hard not to like Genshiken unless you are a Shonen junky. You might find it hard to find the OVA’s but you will find them eventually.
What can possibly go wrong in 3 episodes of Genshiken, which had previously shown so much consistency in the first series? Quite a lot, apparently.
The failings of the OVA’s cannot be attributed to the lack of new content. In fact, the OVA contains the introduction of two new characters, both of which feature in “Genshiken 2”, so skipping them isn’t really an option if you intend to watch the second season.. Well, I say they introduce two new characters, but one of them is a returning character, and it’s one that I would have preferred to see the back of, because he happens to be one of the most annoying characters in the first season who, thankfully, only appeared in one lone episode. His presence was fine enough in that one episodes, but having him as one of the regulars really tested my patience.
The second character, Ogiue, is the more important one, because she is one of the central characters in “Genshiken 2”. Her introduction isn’t exactly the greatest, as she became a member of the society through some really contrived event. I don’t really get the whole otaku hating part of her character either. But other than that, Ogiue does show some promising potential, and can probably be considered one of the few successes of the OVA, albeit a rather moderate one.
The returning characters provide one of the main reasons why I found “Genshiken OVA” so disappointing – they were just all so different from the ones I knew and loved in “Genshiken”. Kasukabe seem to have lost her edge and become tame. I know she was supposed to have mellowed slightly in the club, but still, the change is so large when measured against what she was like at the end of “Genshiken” that she barely feels like the same person. What Kasukabe lost, Ohno appear to have gained. In “Genshiken”, she was a very timid character, only expressing enthusiasm where cosplay is involved. In the OVA however, she has become a lot more aggressive and confrontational, almost unrecognisable from the Ohno in “Genshiken”. Even Madarame, while not changed too much, appear to be going back through old ground by mulling over the feelings that was already subtly hinted but dealt with during one episode in the original series. Though it was never fully resolved in that one episode, I always felt that its unresolved state was probably the best conclusion of all… but now they’ve gone and dug it up again needlessly just to make more of a meal of it. But some things are best left alone, especially since in the case of the OVA, this exercise of repeating what was already done doesn’t exactly throw up any new conclusions. The subtlety in “Genshiken” was one of the reasons that made it so good, and it’s a quality that is sorely missing from the OVA.
And it’s a feeling prevalent throughout that the OVA is a completely different beast from the series. Even on surface, the differences are clear from the style of the animation. In “Genshiken”, the general feel of the art is suitably mundane for a slice of life, despite the odd moment where the SD (super deformity) effect is used. In the OVA however, the colours are brighter and everything seem more cartoony, more comical, with the feeling that the characters are more prone to suddenly go into SD mode. Being someone who likes his slice of life anime to be mundane, I preferred the old style.
Just about the only point during which I felt the charm of the old “Genshiken” within this OVA is at the “that’s a definite fail!” moment at end of the “makeover” episode. I’d watched the original series several years before I watched the OVA. With so much of the anime’s feel modified, and most of the character consistency thrown right out of the window, it probably would have been enough to make me doubt my memory of the original series had I not rewatched it before the OVA. The worst thing is that, due to the OVA being an essential bridge between the two seasons of “Genshiken” as opposed to standalone stories, I can’t even pretend it doesn’t exist, so it’s left as a permanent blemish on the franchise.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Genshiken OVA
2. Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen OVA
3. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
4. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe
5. Koko wa Green Wood
6. Hikyou Tanken Fam & Ihrlie
7. Spirit of Wonder: Shounen Kagaku Club
8. Spirit of Wonder: China-san no Yuuutsu
9. Twilight Q
10. Samurai Spirits 2: Asura Zanmaden
11. Wind: A Breath of Heart
12. Licca-chan to Yamaneko Hoshi no Tabi
13. Licca-chan Fushigi na Mahou no Ring
14. Ankoku Shinwa