They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of The Chocolate Panic Picture Show, Ojousama Sousamou, Beat Shot!!, and more!
18: The Chocolate Panic Picture Show
English: The Chocolate Picture Panic Show
Japanese: ザ チョコレートパニック ピクチャーショー
MAL Score: 4.41
Gainax’s first professional production, The Chocolate Panic Picture Show is a wacky musical OVA based on a manga by Fujiwara Kamui, serialised in Monthly Super Action and partly inspired by Jamie Uys’s The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980).
Follow Manbo, Chinbo and Chonbo as they are flung into a strange, psychedelic world of madness they don’t understand. See them cause chaos through their zany, unpredictable antics in this comical take on cultural imperialism.
This is a short surreal film, probably inspired by stream of consciousness. I can’t say this is for everyone, taking into account a number of different factors, despite its style and age.
The film illustrates what can only be described as the alcohol and heat-induced nightmare of a sun-bather, who is overwhelmed by phenomena occurring on the beach around him, namely naval carriers and aircraft.
Judging by the soundtrack, if you couldn’t discern anything from the overt symbolism, one can concluded improvisation and is the driving force behind the film. Because of this method of story-telling, there is not much be said about the character except that he is borderline and anxious, and the plot leaves its viewer much the same way.
Overall I can’t say I enjoyed this too much, its seems to be an attempt to explore consumerism and militarism, if anything. But I can appreciate the attempt.
Studio Gainax has the highest reputation of any studio on MAL with the possible exception of Madhouse. So…everything they’ve ever made was gold right? Consider that even Madhouse made Junk Boy and Reign the Conqueror. Gainax it turns out has made some bad anime too and Chocolate Panic Picture Show is perhaps the worst.
The year is 1985. Some of the boys at Gainax just got done watching the 1980 film “The Gods Must Be Crazy” followed by some psychodelic European arthouse cinema. This was when Kamui Fujiwara decided to combine those 2 things and create…this…thing.
There is no plot. This is a 30 minute acid trip that combines the finest of appallingly racist imagery with the pretentiousness of an avant garde art film. Imagine 1940s Looney Toons like “Scrub me Momma with a Boogie Beat” or Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips” if they were directed by Andrei Tarkovsky or Ingmar Bergman. Now make it 1,000 times dumber and more boring. That’s this anime.
30 minutes of ear rape. I think there is a nice guitar solo thrown in there somewhere though. I may have imagined it. This anime took a toll on my mind.
Art: See plot above
The good thing about anime like Shitcom or Utsu-Mutsume is that they are under 5 minutes. This piece of shit is like that stretched out to a full half hour. FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!
There’s…THIS. I am not sure what you would call this besides bottom of the barrel trash.
The Chocolate Panic Picture Show was made after the Daicon shorts and Studio Gainax became its own beast. I think that the studio was still just three guys in a garage at the time. Obviously, they were still putzing around, still trying to come into their own.
Anyway, I can’t really explain this, since there’s no plot and it’s just a bunch of trippy images. You know those 30-second bumpers that Nickelodeon aired during commercial breaks back in the day? This is like that, but longer, older, less entertaining and Japanese.
So, what do we have here for characters? We have three stereotypical African children playing, and that’s it. There are other people who pop up, but yeah, not important.
As for music, it was occasionally tolerable (I kind of liked the drum roll during the “climax”), but the song that played during the end credits was an assault on the ears.
The art is pretty crappy, which is unsurprising considering this is Gainax’s early days.
I can’t say I got any enjoyment out of this. It was surrealistic, but not the fun kind. It’s dumb, but not the kind of dumb you could enjoy with your friends, or even by yourself.
In conclusion, Gainax is quite the powerhouse in anime, but this is their lowest point.
I would avoid this if I were you…unless you’re a flat earther. I bet flat earthers would get a kick out of this anime’s ending.
17: Ojousama Sousamou
English: Debutante Detective Corps
MAL Score: 4.83
Debutante Detective Corps begins with introductions to the five main characters, Miyuki, Reika, Youko, Nina, and Kimiko. It seems these five girls are incredibly rich and have been sent a threatening video tape by forces unknown. A police guard is set up at the school where the girls have enrolled. Kimiko, however, doesn’t like the idea of being cooped up at school, and convinces the rest of the girls to trick the police into leaving. No sooner are the police gone, however, then the girls are assaulted by three armed terrorists. What ensues is a rather silly escapade with our heroines attempting to thwart their attackers.
Given Debutante’s title I am not sure what I was expecting, but regardless of what it was I certainly didn’t get it. Nothing about the story or the title make a lot of sense. Obviously this was a title given by the English dubbing studio and it’s really only the beginning of this epic fail abortion of an anime.
Our story starts with our five heroines entering the scene in spastic, silly, and unnecessarily flashy manners. We are given brief bios of the quintet and you better read it because that’s all the character “development” and background story you’re going to get on any of them. They are all fabulously wealthy girls and apparently are being threatened by a mysterious organization. So of course the police, instead of taking our spoiled bitches to some place secure like um, the police station maybe, they take them to a completely unsecure high school where they end up just locking them up in the principal’s office. Of course despite the school being blanketed but literally hundreds of armed officers in riot gear our three villains do manage to get inside the school where predictable, over the top, silly, and retarded action ensues.
Nothing about the story works. The comedy doesn’t because it relies mainly on having some sort of emotional investment in the characters. Given the shortness of the OVA this is practically an impossible task. Once the revelation is made at the end as too who is behind the attack, you’re likely to either explode into a howling laughter at its stupidity or face palm. Or perhaps both. Obviously that this was meant as a pilot episode for a potential series. It’s not shocking at all that this was never picked up. At least someone with some sense and good judgment realized how god awful the concept was and thus the world was saved from the potential of a full season of this garbage.
The characters are standard 90s clichés. You have every kind of “action” girl in the cast. The Chinese martial arts master, the Russian big guns girl, the explosives expert, the master of disguise, and the psychic master of magic’s. In addition we are treated to the usual tsundere, moe, and bratty personality types displayed in every other anime ever made. There is nothing extraordinary or memorable about any of them and honestly you will have a tough time just remembering their names let alone anything about them. The villains and supporting characters are equally stale and stupid.
Artistically this is about as bad as I have ever seen. The style is typical of the era of which I am not a fan of at all but even for the 90s this is epically horrible work. It’s really shocking to me too when you consider the studios involved in its production. For me it’s really difficult to imagine how anyone ever thought this looked good. The sound and music score are as drab and uninteresting as the animation. The lack of a decent story makes it impossible for any talent level of seiyuu to give a good performance.
If you’re considering watching this because of the studios involved in its production like I did, don’t. You will be disappointed. Debutante Detective Corps is best left to the dustbin of history. I am sure those who made it would also wish you forget it exists too.
All anime fans know that Gainax has produced some of the most influential and beloved anime of all time, but every studio has made a few mistakes right? What was the worst Gainax anime ever? The answer to that question: Debutante Detective Corp!
This anime is clearly supposed to be a Charlie’s Angels ripoff about an international cast of hot girls with varied skills solving mysteries and kicking ass. The problem is that it is one of the most incompetent, horribly directed, pieces of shit I have ever seen. The only laughs come not from the comedy, but from the GOD AWFUL “engrish” that permeates almost every scene of this anime. In other words, the only parts that are enjoyable are completely unintentional.
I’m just going to describe the first scene to this piece of shit and you will know immediately if you want to watch it or not!
A highschool meeting is taking place with the principal welcoming the incoming freshman class. Suddenly, a blatant ripoff of the song “Jump” by Van Halen starts playing. Then a girl on a motor cycle smashes through the large stained glass window that looks like it belongs in an old European cathedral rather than a Japanese highschool and we the viewers are treated to a wall of text that makes our jaws drop! “Miyuki Ayanokouji come from Tokyo with specialty mechanic. The ups and downs of emotion are drastic and it flights easily in straight for wardness. The homelike surface that is good at cooking is surprising!” Miyuki then asks in a California Valley Girl accent, “Sorry…like…am I late or something?”
Just when you are trying to recover from laughter, a second girl smashes through the door of the school with a bicycle and we get another hilarious text wall. “Reika Syu come from Hong kong with the specialty of fighter. A Chinese merchant abroad daughter. It is raised by grandparents the cause of Chinese Mafia tightened from the childish time. Though it is lively and active, it has the bad habit of dose in fant regression. Food is liked very much!”
Then a Mercedes Benz smashes through the wall of the school and we get another outrageous text with bad grammar and a questionable world view from the director of this shit. ““Yoko Ryuzaki come from Yokohama with the specialty disguise. Quarter the German noble that a grandmother is rumored with the illegitimate illegitimate Child of Adolf Hitler descended. As descendent of Hitler her justice is strong and the period drama which punishes advice evil is liked very much by the honest”.
A few seconds later a 4th girl smashes through the ceiling after jumping out of a helicopter that explodes for no reason! She lands on the principal and possibly kills him. We are treated to the following data. “Nina Kirov come from New York with specialty GUN MANIA! The descendent of Russian descendent Romanov dynasty. Parents are big wealthy persons of the mystery what parents are romping about in the world. She himself is military mania of the ULTIMATE.”
Finally our last girl arrives with a totally unexplained, massive police escort. Of course another horrible engrish text is inevitable at this point. “Kimiko Ayanokouji come from Tokyo with the specialty Super ability. The successor daughter of financial combine an old peer descended. The genius type of the intelligence 200 is calm and it is cold it is cold when it is cut off from unusual character!”
Now that our cast is assembled, our adventure is ready to begin…for the five people left in the audience who haven’t fled from the sheer idiocy and ineptitude of this shitty echii series.
Holy shit! I have seen poorly directed anime before, but the fact that someone at ADV films looked at this and decided to bring it over to the US for an English dub just blows my mind. There are legitimately great anime that have yet to receive an English dub, but THIS gets picked up! WTF was ADV thinking?! No wonder they went out of business!
16: Beat Shot!!
English: Watch Me Sink My Putz
MAL Score: 5.05
Expert linksman Akihiko joins the university golf club at the same time as maverick golfer Akikazu. The pair often tee off against each other, though Akikazu is distracted by the charms of his opponent’s beautiful caddy, Misako.
15: Circuit no Ookami II: Modena no Ken
Japanese: サーキットの狼II モデナの剣
MAL Score: 5.62
The adventures of Ken Ferrari, a former racer and motor journalist with an appetite for women. Based on the manga by Satoshi Ikezawa.
14: Mahjong Hishouden: Naki no Ryuu
Japanese: 麻雀飛翔伝 哭きの竜
MAL Score: 5.94
The protagonist, Ryuu or Crying Dragon, is a mysterious man who often plays games with the gang members. He only wins by “ron,” a move in which one needs to wait for the opponent’s tile to complete the win.
*”Ron” is also called “naki” in mahjong, which has the same pronunciation as “crying” in Japanese.
13: Anime Tenchou
English: Animation Store Manager
MAL Score: 6.04
This is the Animation Store Manager!!
Anime Tenchou is a CM character for Animate, one of Japan’s biggest retailer of anime, games, and manga. The character series was created by Shimamoto Kazuhiko for publicity purposes. Later adapted into a manga, a weekly radio drama and this OVA animated by GAINAX and directed by Anno Hideaki.
Anizawa Meito is the blazing store manager. He is a fireball who loves animation merchandise at heart. He takes over the dying wish of the former store manager, though still alive, who was attacked by the rival store and becomes a “store manager” of newly opened animation goods specialty store, Animate. The scarlet, “store manager visor” is his trademark.
Well basically the main plot involves Anizawa Meito (main) taking over his managers last wish (though actually alive) to take over his Animate store. From here we see him, along with the other workers shouting promotional advertisements for their story, and fighting their rival company by way of hand to hand combat. Their antics were quite action packed and entertaining, there definitely is a lot going on during it. (which might give some a headache) You might start to get the feeling that your watching some sort of Dragonball Z commercial. Which is what this OVA basically is…….a commercial! Its fun and amusing, though very very short, but you do get a nice farewell bow from the real life Animate store workers, which was kind of nice.
Very good considering its age, the on screen anime characters are blended in nicely with real life backgrounds from the shop and even Tokyo. All doing either crazy style martial arts, or over the top promotions. Their drawn in good detail, color and fluidity, though do show their age by today’s standards, and the animated backgrounds can be pretty plain, and just not up to standards with the well detailed characters.
After Anizawa thinks his manager is dead, he quickly puts on his uniform style apron, and is joined in conjunction with this pretty catchy 80’s style male sung j-pop theme. It plays through out the OVA in a nice montage. Though some may feel it to be too dated, it really compliments the on screen action antics well. The character voices they have their are well done, and range from deep male style voices, to the loud voices with the female co-worker of his. Though overall the voice overs are pretty sparse. Most of the time you’ll just be hearing the announcer.
Well you pretty much only get to see Anizawa for the most part, but he is joined with brief appearances by his co-workers jumping around on screen. I really liked their design and personalities. They come off more as a mix of exaggerated comical yet well proportioned characters, so it depends on your taste.
Bottom Line: 7/10
Overall its a pretty amusing run through, plus its short so there really is no reason to feel like you wasted your time by checking it out. Then again it is a commercial, and I know most of us don’t like those! Hahahaha!
Do they need to be informative and relevant facts clearly and concisely? Do they need to be original and distinguish themselves from their competitors? Do they need to be attractive and capture the audience’s attention?
No, No and No!
All a good advertisement needs is spirit!
How do you expect a man to sign up for a two year after sales warranty on his new dish washer if you can’t even ignite a fire in their belly with a sales pitch that even a Godfather wouldn’t be able to refuse? You can’t. You can’t even get him in the store, because while you decided to put out on some square in a suit, the competition splashed out on a fifty foot tall replica of the latest model with working water cannons! Purchase incentives? Don’t make me laugh; people want action, excitement…. and most of all, they want every statement to end with an exclamation mark!
Anime Tenchou is just such an advertisement, and it doesn’t simply ask you to pay them a visit; it knocks you to the floor and drags you inside by the ears. You like anime, manga, videogames and their related merchandise ventures? Great. You don’t? Well pansy, it’s time for you to grow some balls and start acting like a real man! No, don’t sign up for that gym membership; start watching anime! Don’t like it? What are you, a girl?
Oh, you are a girl? Well don’t you worry little lady; we’ve got all the manly men you crave, and there all right here… No, not walking around the store, they’re in the Yaoi manga section on the fifth floor. That’s right, a whole floor chock o’ block with cock on cock, where both the manliest and the most effeminate of drawn men get it on all day, every day. It’s what every Yaoi fangirl dreams of; a place where no one can hear them scream. Or squeal, for that matter.
(Customer Notice: Animate is not responsible for any loss of hearing that may result from travelling in or around the 5th floor.)
What the hell you waiting for? Why haven’t you watched Anime Tenchou yet? Are you telling me this literal reflection of the premise hasn’t given you an unquenchable thirst for GAR? You want me to tell you about the presentation?
The sound of Anime Tenchou is like that of a beast as it goes in for the kill; the sound of a battleship being taken down by a fighter jet; the sound of a man stubbing his toe against the leg of a table. In fact, it’s a sound so deeply masculine you can’t evoke with nancy-boy literary techniques. Such powerful emotion can be expressed through direct quotation alone:
And if that doesn’t sound awesome to you, then it’s because you scream like a three year old girl.
Still not satisfied? Man, you’re one tough customer. But don’t you change the channel just yet, because I’ve saved the best for last; Anime Tenchou is so beautiful that it’ll bring a tear to your eye -mostly because you’re just a little wuss, but also because it’s nice to look at.
In fact, it’s so beautiful that it makes the Sistine Chapel look like a doodle. So beautiful that you’d think God himself was responsible for it; and he was. Well, not God exactly but definitely the next best thing; Hideaki Anno, a man already known for biblical productions like ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ and ‘Resurrection: Cutey Honey’
The character designs are so incredibly manly that the animating staff had to take anabolic steroids for three months before commencing work on Anime Tenchou, but it was worth it. The animation is smooth as greased Teflon and awesome. And lust look at those backgrounds, look how detailed they are, it’s almost like real life!… Know why? Because it is real life, dumbass! Know why they used the real world for backgrounds? Because otherwise, you wouldn’t believe a place as awesome as this could really exist!
As unbelievably manly as the artwork is, it does have a few problems. In particular the character designs, which are nicely drawn but are riddled with glaringly obvious proportional errors. Even the lead character, who’s head is visibly much, much larger than his testicles. Sure, getting the proportions exactly right would have been impossible, but come on Gainax, you can do better than that! But perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the staff of Gainax. After all, their hands were probably jittery from all the steroids.
And there you have it: that’s Anime Tenchou. Watch it, if you think you’ve got the plums for it. This review has attempted to capture the sensation of this commercial, but it’s little more than an essence- a little taster of what’s to come.
It’s difficult to describe something like Anime Tenchou with words. It’s much easier to do it with punctuation:
Watch it -if you think you’re man enough.
The animation wasn’t terrible, but the transitions from scene to scene were a little abrupt, even for a short. The sound quality wasn’t great (at least where I saw it.)
This isn’t the worst advertisement around, but I can’t really recommend it since it doesn’t do much except tell you that the store Animate exists. Since I’ve already done that in this review, the advertisement has even less to offer. Oops.
12: KO Seiki Beast Sanjuushi
English: KO Century Beast Warriors
Japanese: ＫＯ世紀 ビースト三獣士
MAL Score: 6.53
The series is set in the distant future in which the Earth is split in two. The southern hemisphere is placed in another dimension while the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere are able to morph into beast-like humanoids. Eventually the humans of the southern hemisphere, led by Uranus, attack the Beasts.
The Three Beasts, Wan Derbard (Wan Dabadadatta) of the Tiger Tribe, Bud Mint (Baado Mint) of the Bird Tribe, and Mei Mer (Mei Mah) of the Mermaid Tribe, are taken prisoner along with Mei Mer’s companion Tuttle Millen (Mekka Mannen, also of the Mermaid tribe), but manage to escape thanks to a little girl named Yuuni Charm Password. Together they seek Gaia, which they believe to be a fabulous treasure, but they are pursued by Uranus’s minions : V-Darn the vicious mage-knight, V-Sion the warrior woman and Akumako, V-Darn’s sadistic imp-like partner.
The story is set the future, at a time when the Earth has been split in half. Humanity has fled to the Southern hemisphere, and the Northern world is now ruled by the Beast Tribes. However, humanity is now attempting to reclaim the planet in an attempt to find the mysterious treasure known as Gaia. In order to facilitate this, Uranus (leader of humanity), sends V-Dan and V-Zhon, along with their sidekick Akumako, to capture the heirs of three of the main Beast Tribes – Tgier, Mermaid and Bird. Enter then, Wan Dabada, Mei Mei and Badd Mint, three of the strangest (and in the case of Wan and Badd, dumbest), prisoners/hostages in anime.
Now, some of you will have noticed that the names I’m using are different from those on MAL, Wiki, etc. Well there’s a good reason for this. The names are taken from the original AnimeUK release of the OVA. The names were changed slightly in the US release some time later. Of the two versions though, the UK release is by far the funnier, for a number of reasons.
One of the reasons why this is a very strange anime is because the show can’t make up it’s mind. The OVA begins as a straightforward combat comedy, however it then heads off down a mecha route, with added touches of mysticism, science fiction, and fantasy. In all honesty, while the story isn’t particularly bad, the lack of any coherent plot direction means that the reasons for events and actions sometimes gets confusing.
But that’s only if you’re taking this show seriously.
KO Seiki Beast Sanjuushi is, above all else, a comedy show, and it provides that in abundance (especially the AnimeUK release with it’s dodgy accents). The puns and visual gags are quick and punchy, and while the comedy is a little dated in comparison to shows like Gintama, the OVA still has the capacity to make you giggle.
As far as looks go, this is a fairly well animated show, especially for it’s time. The colours are bright and bold, and while the character designs are a little on the spikey haired side, they’re not as bad as some I could mention. The characters move well for the most part, however the animation does suffer from little oddities in a number of places, in particular during the hand to hand action sequences (surprisingly enough, the mech action sequences are pretty decent).
The music for the OVA matches the visuals fairly well, however the tendency to switch from happy-boppy to overly dramatic can cause some confusion, especially when it happens before any dramatic event. The OP is a bit confusing because there’s two to choose from. The revamped US version features a heavy rock track called B-O-M-B-E-R, which isn’t a bad song, but I actually prefer the original, annoyingly catchy J-Pop theme tune that began “Wandabadabadabdatta, Wandabadabadabadabadatta datta”. The original track is so annoying in fact, that you’ll find yourself humming it decades later, even if you’ve only heard it once.
As for the voice acting, oh my, where do I begin. The revamped US version of the series is nowhere near as funny as the original AnimeUK release, and while the UK version only covered three episodes, they were a damn sight funnier because of the voice acting than the later version. That’s not to say the voice actors were good though, as the acting is fairly mediocre in either release (I have, sadly, yet to find the Japanese version), however the UK release had one major advantage – accents.
Much like the notorious accents found in the original Catgirl Nuku Nuku OVA (which, ironically enough, also came out in 1992), KO Seiki Beast Sanjuushi featured a range of differing accents, from fake cockney (also known as mockney), to American, and a whole bunch in between. It’s because of these accents that the original release had a charm that just wasn’t present in the US re-vamp.
The characters are, on the whole, a bit hit and miss. The main three in the UK release, Wan, Mei Mei and Badd, are pretty fair as comedy leads, with V-Dan and V-Zhon being suitably evil and funny as well. Unfortunately, the US version loses a lot of what made the characters funny, especially as the emphasis in that version is not on comedy, but on action. Because of this the characters, who are underdeveloped anyway, go from being decent comedy roles to mediocre action heroes/villains. The characterisations simply aren’t strong enough to support this shift in perspective, so the viewer is left with relatively hollow characters that, while not being bad, will never be good either.
To be completely honest, I prefer the original AnimeUK release to the American remake. The UK version has a charm about it that is missing from the later version in particular because a lot more thought was put into the dialogue, but one can’t ignore the impact of those accents.
That said, there will be many people who may not ever get to see the UK version, as it is a rarity in anime these days. The US version, being easier to get hold of, isn’t a bad show on the whole, and I will admit to a degree of bias in my preference for the UK release, however the flaws are more obvious in the US version because of the emphasis on action.
This, like most anime, won’t appeal to everyone, although comedy enthusiasts and fans of mecha may enjoy it. It may also appeal to people who just want something odd and funny to watch, although there are some better choices these days.
Given that there’s more comedic diversity in anime now though, imagine what it was like trying to find funny anime in 1992.
Japanese: アップル シード
MAL Score: 6.59
Appleseed takes place in the aftermath of World War III, where the General Management Control Office has constructed the experimental city known as Olympus. Built to be a paradise on Earth, Olympus is inhabited by humans, cyborgs, and bioroids (genetically engineered humans designed for increased physical capabilities and decreased emotional capabilities). Bioroids run and control all of the administrative functions of Olympus, ensuring that the city remains the utopian society it was meant to be for all of its citizens. But for some people living in Utopia, the city has become less of a home and more of a cage.
Police officer Calon Mautholos has grown to despise Olympus following his wife’s suicide, blaming her death on the lack of creative freedom caused by the rules binding the citizens of the city. As his hatred for the city grows, Calon conspires with the terrorist A.J. Sebastian to destroy the Legislature of the Central Management Bureau to send the rules of Olympus that killed his wife tumbling down. But when Calon discovers it is not political malcontent, but rather hatred for bioroids that motives Sebastian, Calon turns renegade and gains the attention of city officials. Deunan Knute and her partner Briareos of the ESWAT counter-terrorism unit are dispatched to hunt down and stop Calon and Sebastian… by any means necessary!
Going through everything categorically: the animation… not bad, but not amazing. Music… so bland I can’t even remember much about it (though I guess that must mean it can’t have been bad at least). The story didn’t really inspire. They failed miserably to engage my emotions with their boring dilemmas because they couldn’t put together a convincing case about why I should give a toss about it. In addition, parts of the storyline seem a bit muddled up, though that’s possibly because my attention was wandering at that point. The characters annoyed me a bit. The police in the anime are a joke. They seem to have no sense of responsibility, and are able to just do things like transfer to a different division without any restraint, as though they are free to do whatever they want. Do they have no superior officers to report to?!
This anime isn’t horrendous in any particular category… but it’s not really outstanding in any category either, so it’s hard to recommend this anime based on any area. And besides, there’s a movie out now that’s apparently a re-make based on the same source material as this. Though I’ve not seen it, at least it looks visually stunning, which is more than what I can say for this…
The story is similar to many other Olympus outings: terrorists trying to bring down the Utopian society so that humanity doesn’t become like a caged animal. Generally, this means destroying Gaia, which is the main goal of our two terrorists. The story’s decent, and it picks and chooses parts from the 1st and 2nd volumes of the Appleseed series to have in the film. Ultimately, the story satisfied me, so I have no complaints about that.
My main complaint is with whoever they got to do the voice over work. My god, the V/Os for the English dub are awful. Seriously, everyone sounds like a stereotypical New Yorker, and if it’s not that then its the fact that it all sounds like it was recorded in a tin can–echoey (is echoey a word?). A curse word is added to every sentence like a period, and this is also only in the English dub. I watched the movie once in both Japanese and English, and while both adaptations are fair, the original language is the one to watch (some things get cut from the American version, for whatever reason).
The characters are roughly the same in the manga. The one I enjoy the most has to be Hitomi, who wasn’t done any justice in the recent 04 movie. I don’t know what it is, but all the bioroids act like humans instead of clones in both this and in the manga, a thing that the recent films just hasn’t really touched on, at least not yet.
All and all, I enjoyed this, but not as much as I expected. It’s good to see where Appleseed originates, but don’t dive into it with high hopes. If you can stand the ancient graphics and potentially deadly V/Os, then this could be a decent movie for you.
Appleseed is one of a minority of animated works that can lay claim to being too short. There’s is just way too much going on for a single 1 hour film, but, to director Kazuyoshi Katayama’s credit, he manages to keep the threads of storyline together enough to make this a largely enjoyable fare.
One thing that Appleseed, this 1988 version, does much better than the 2004 version, is moral ambiguity. This sci-fi is ripe with it. Earth is introduced to us having recently suffered catatrophe through World War III. Olympus, a protoype “utopia” of sorts, is the setting, where in step the Bioroids, genetically engineered beings, created by humans, to oversee society and prevent another near apocalyptic event from occuring. As with most political scenarios where control is vested in some people, there are others who want it. The Bioroids, while they do a decent job maintaining peace, are also in total political control of Olympus. This doesn’t go over to well with certain humans, who view Olympus as a cage.
One refreshing thing about this anime is the tag team duo of protagonists, Deunan, a very skilled female E.S.W.A.T (read; Special Ops) member, and her partner, the human on the inside, cyborg on the outside, Briareos. Deunan is thrust into the conflict of humans seeking to wrestle power from the Bioroids, and she follows her convictions to their conclusions. Whether or not she makes the right choice at the conclusion of the film is debatable, but it’s one of the endearing features of the work.She shines here as a strong female lead, and her relationship with Briareos doesn’t fall into a rushed, corny romance trap that we often expect of works like this.
Another note; for an 80s anime, there is a surprising amount of women in positions of power here.
This whole conflict that takes place is complicated with E.S.W.A.T mole(s) corraborating with the humans seeking power, a meddling prime minister, and the computer helping to run the whole show, all of these setting the stage for a solid sci-fi thriller.
However, as I alluded to earlier, the one hour runtime just isn’t enough. When you combine these subplots with the various, lengthy action sequences, it becomes apparent that plot development is given the fast track, often to the detriment of the work. Plot developments and devices are introduced almost haphazardly at times, and you’re given little time to contemplate on the importance of one thing before another important one springs up. To this point, one major plot device, inolving the character Hitomi, who is, essentially, the key to everything, is severely mishandled. It’s thrust into the film in mere seconds even though it is such a crucial point.
The ending is a bit of a mess too, featuring a terribly cheesy Star Wars like apparition imparting words of wisdom. It’s almost comical.
That said, the Appleseed universe is a very compelling one because it takes the sci-fi genre and puts a new spin on it. The Bioroids are right to have grievances in that they are meant to serve humans, the humans are right to have grievances in that they have little political power, and so, you have a great setup here with no true good guys or bad guys. Sadly, the potential feels a bit wasted with the rushed nature, but the strong characters, particularly Deunan, and the compelling scenario and moral conflict largely allow Appleseed to be an enjoyable work.
10: Honoo no Tenkousei
MAL Score: 6.65
Transfer student Takisawa Noboru quickly learns that all disputes at his new school are settled in the boxing ring. Now he finds himself in a series of showdowns with the local top dog, Ibuki Saburo, for the love and respect of the beautiful Yukari.
If you have, or know anything about fighting anime in general, you’ll love this. Because it’s a total love letter to them all. There is basically no plot, just two episodes of lots of punching, shouting, sideburns and jokes.
The art-style is a Go Nagai-esque heavy lined style, very much like an animated manga. The music is full of heroic themes, and a rock OP reminiscent of Ai Wo Torimodose (as is fitting.)
What the show does well is compress into two episodes every fighting show cliche it can, from ludicrously named finishers to the devoted girlfriend and the school violence which provides the backdrop for things like the Getter Robo manga. There are unsubtle VA jokes, and no pretence of a fourth wall.
It’s because of this that Honoo no Tenkousei is so fun. It’s nice to have a show that’s only two episodes of breakneck-paced action every once in a while, and the jokes really hit the spot.
There’s not really much more to say – HnT is a love letter to the fighting anime genre which pokes fun at it while employing all the cliches in a competent way, and really can’t be recommended enough if you like that sort of thing.
The story is all very flimsy in Blazing Transfer Student. This punk ass dude has ‘won’ a girl from another guy and now she’s forced to be his girlfriend. But then in comes our transfer student bent on rescuing the girl because if he does she will totally put out and this is oh so romantic. The two of them get into a hastily constructed boxing ring on the school grounds and fight for her heart, with the fights being decided largely by who can say the name of their death-punch faster. Well that, and a pair of vultures who land on the person they deem to be worthy of laying a nest on. Since it’s a mock-up of 70s manga it follows the same aesthetic with big thick lines and poofy hairdos. I’d heard a bit of fuss made over the animation since it was the Project A-Ko team together. It’s generally pretty well animated and dynamically presented by early 90s OVA standards, but it did remind me how glad I am we have moved past the period where much of the episode is repeated animation.
It’s largely all gags, which is why it’s a little disappointing that many of the gags miss rather than hit. Pulling perv faces, yelling loudly or hitting someone make up many of the gags. Thankfully there’s enough good ones to make it worthwhile. The original back and forth of rhetorical warfare when the transfer student enters the school originally is brilliant, and the whole layer of self-parody makes it funny. On some level I would have preferred it be much wilder, but that may have been me spoiled by Kill la Kill and its giant flying speakers shooting recorder missiles, and it wouldn’t necessarily fit with the tone it was going for. It treads close enough to the real thing that it’s extra funny when battles are decided by someone saying the name of their death punch faster. It’s fun, but a total trifle that you’ll forget the exact details of a week later.
Of course, beyond parodying high school there’s general mockery of dramatic action cliches. My personal favorite comes in the climax when the main character realizes his own special attack is never landing first because naturally he has to finish saying the attack name before it hits, but its name is longer than the bully’s attack name. Simply changing the name would be an unacceptable finish for a hero, of course. Gainax takes an interesting direction for art style here, intentionally copying the rough and thick outlines of 70s anime and the simple “blobby” facial expressions of comedy anime from around the same time. Due to the budget only having to be spread out two episodes and Gainax’s resources in 1991 being far better than the 70s anime they’re paying homage to, the frame rate turns out to be very smooth and the blu-rays specifically really make the simple solid colors pop for a very visually appealing look with a lot of charm that holds up in high resolutions. More than the jokes themselves, this is the selling point of this OVA. The soundtrack is lightly enjoyable with the main opening being suitably retro while the mix of synthesizers/rock in the score is more contemporary, along with the cute ending theme that’ll make any 90s anime fan nostalgic. Though the OVA is too short to really go anywhere and seems like it could’ve built upon the charm of its humor and environment, it also doesn’t allow itself to overextend or wear out its personality or sense of humor. The great production values, animation, and short running time make this an easy and enjoyable watch that’s both simple and difficult to particularly recommend. Anyone who’s discovered this OVA exists is the kind of genre fan very unlikely to think they’ve wasted their time with it.
9: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Ore no Gurren wa Pikka-Pika!!
Japanese: 天元突破 グレンラガン 俺のグレンはピッカピカ!!
MAL Score: 6.77
A special episode bundled with the Nintendo DS game based on the series. Envious of seeing how Simon keeps his Lagann clean and neat, Kamina asks the mysterious Chitori to clean up his Gurren for him, unaware of her true intentions.
In a 12 minute episode nothing to developed would happen, but it was a fair episode nonetheless, same art as in the series, it’s just an extra to watch.
8: Re: Cutey Honey
MAL Score: 7.11
A mysterious organization known as Panther Claw make their presence known by terrorizing Tokyo and giving the cops a run for their money. Police are further baffled by the appearance of a lone cosplaying vigilante who thwarts all of Panther Claw’s evil schemes before disappearing. That cosplayer is Honey Kisaragi, the result of the late Professor Kisaragi’s prize experiment. A master of disguise, Honey can magically alter her physical appearance and outfits. But with a push of the heart-shaped button on her choker, she transforms herself into Cutie Honey, the scantily-clad, sword-wielding warrior of love and justice.
That said, though, the uniqueness isn’t apparent in the basic story. While Honey herself brings a few neat elements to the table (more on that later), the storyline itself is pretty standard magical girl fare. Honey can transform into a scantily-clad warrior who fights for love and justice, and she does so to battle the mysterious forces of evil that have come to her city, eventually making it to the leader, who of course has some connection to her. The worst part of the plot is that this story has been used in every magical girl series ever. That said, it’s still told well, and since the series totals to a little over two hours, it’s also told more quickly than usual; those who shy away from magical girls because of the filler that’s usually to be found, fear not! Another nice bonus to this typical plot is that it keeps the series from turning into completely over-the-top comedy-slash-fanservice fest. It’s also important to note that Re: Cutie Honey is completely self-contained and requires neither prior knowledge of the franchise nor watching another series to understand. Neat!
It’s fair to say that characters are vital in setting a cliché story apart from the crowd, and Re: Cutey Honey knows exactally how to do that. Honey, despite being the idol of rabid fanboys everywhere, is one of the coolest magical girls you’ll ever see. She’s smart, she’s strong, she’s cool, she can take care of herself, and she’s not afraid to be sexy. Because of the latter aspect of her personality, then, the fanservice elements of the series are significantly less intrusive than those of other series; Honey would rather kick butt while half-naked than panic and scream when her clothes get ripped off. As for other characters, the only truly significant one is Aki, a police officer that will stop at nothing to capture Honey at first but eventually becomes her closest friend. It’s a pretty predictable way for her to develop, but she’s still a lot of fun to watch bounce off (literally and not) of Honey; honestly, it’s one of the best parts of the series.
Meanwhile, Re: Cutie Honey’s music doesn’t disappoint. The opening theme song, used in some variety for every Cutie Honey series to date, is a peppy J-pop tune that is guaranteed to be stuck in your head for the rest of your life. This is not an exaggeration, by the way. The ending song, meanwhile, is cute but more forgettable. The background music, however, is top-notch; while it has been accurately compared to that of His and Her Circumstances, that’s in the best possible way. The happy scenes in particularly have BGM that’s both appropriate for the scene and well-composed on its own merit. Overall, the music, while not perfect, is in general a blast to listen to. The same can be said for the art, perhaps to an even greater degree. No matter what you look for in a good character design – cute, sexy, or just unique and stylish – Re: Cutie Honey has it in its characters. The most impressive element of the art, however, is the animation: loose, fun, and with perfect flow; it’s perfect for such a fun OVA.
And in the end, that’s what Re: Cutie Honey is: a lot of fun. Despite having a serious overlaying plot and good character development, almost every minute of every episode is packed with action and energy, and it rarely gets dull. It’s hard to find a series with more relentless energy. It might not be what you might expect from a short magical girl OVA, but this one’s special in that it’s more focused on making you laugh and just have a good time than anything else, and that’s what really makes it special. Even the large amounts of fanservice don’t distract from this: if you’re not interested in topless girls, it’s easy to look at the silly excuses for fanservice as just that: silly. I for, one was not bothered by it at all – I just looked at it as another of the series’ unique elements. If you’re looking for a quick, easy to watch anime series that won’t ask anything of you but to enjoy it, look no further than Re: Cutie Honey.
The most impressive thing about this show’s story is that all three episodes manage to be wildly different while still telling the same story.
The first episode is a regular Imaishi action comedy romp. The blueprints for Kill la Kill are very apparent, and while this series doesn’t develop the great visual sense and character dynamics that later series did, it still hits a lot of the same excitement.
The second episode, on the other hand, is a regular superhero drama. It’s the typical story of the hero who tries to do her best, but gets blamed for the trouble villains cause. While it’s a really common story these days, it had a lot of hold considering the more carefree episode before it. Another huge thread in this episode was society’s treatment of women. As funny as that sounds to talk about in an ecchi anime, the second episode did a lot to capture how Honey and her peers weren’t being appreciated.
The third episode is the one that was directed by Hideaki Anno. The apocalyptic imagery and themes of isolation you’d expect are very much present. I thought the script was kind of iffy though, and would have liked it to have followed up on the themes in episode 2.
But what really strikes me about the story is that while I can go on about how the three episodes’ scenarios are different, the characters have one united story. Natsuki and Honey’s dynamic is always sharp and adorable, Seiji is always an amusing witty sidekick, and Kyoko always brings a smile to your face. And that’s what the story was for me. These four people coming together to fight this enemy, and not the convoluted specifics of where this enemy came from.
It’s Gainax, so of course it’s gonna look good. The first episode in particular is a standout display of colors, as expected from Imaishi. The next two aren’t as visually stunning, sadly, but the series stays good looking enough you won’t especially miss it.
The OP is excellent, and the slowed down instrumental version that plays throughout the show is especially my jam. I felt there were some places the soundtrack felt bland or repetitive, but it was a fair track.
Are the characters deep? No. Are the characters fun and relatable? Yes. Honey is a ray of sunshine, and the day to day troubles she faces make her quite sympathetic. Natsuki is an excellent foil for her: strict, independent, and confident. Seiji, as I said before, is great if you enjoy the “smug smartass” character type (see Ryoji Kaji, Aikuro Mikisugi). There’s nothing profound or original about these characters’ depths, but if you like them they easily make the show worthwhile on their own.
This was exactly the pick-me-up I needed. Short show with only three episodes. Great action, great music, great design, some interesting themes, and like I’ve made clear, adorable characters.
Not sure how to be “objective” about enjoyment, but if you’re here to have fun and you love subtle yuri (we’re talking a couple inches above the Euphonium level), give this show a try.
This isn’t the score I have on my list. That’s because there’s a lot of shows I think are “Outstanding” (10), but I don’t think all “Outstanding” shows are equal. I don’t think all “Great”(9) shows are equal either.
But even if it’s not in my favorites, I do think Re:Cutie Honey is a really good show. It’s easy to finish, it hits a perfect balance between variation and consistency, and it’ll have you shipping Honey and Natsuki in a jiff.
The animation is zany and loose. Ranging from very clean with fantastic backgrounds to Honey looking like a noodle flopping around. It’s honestly annoying how ugly is looks sometimes. I understand this was a style choice, but it wasn’t the right direction for Honey.
The action is a step down too. While the cast of characters Honey faces has more build than any before, battles themselves are still uninteresting. They also lack blood. Couple this with the strange animation and lazy “clothes rip off” cliche and battles are very disappointing. To be clear I don’t mind the clothes ripping off stuff, but it just seemed lazy here.
So yes, there is nudity everywhere. More so than ever before. So if you like that than you’re good. Of course there is a ton of fan service with some lesbian overtones.
Unlike most people I find the first episode the worst and than things get better as it goes along. However, it never really becomes great. The entire show seems like a parody of Cutey Honey. I do not dislike this show. In fact it’s quite good. I just prefer the other interpretations of the Cutey Honey character. I recommend those first.
Also to note, this anime is based on a live action Cutey Honey movie. I have not seen it. It is subtitled if you are interested.
7: Otaku no Video
MAL Score: 7.14
Somewhat based on the real story of how Gainax was founded, Otaku no Video addresses all aspects of an otaku lifestyle. Ken Kubo is a young man living an average life until he is dragged into a group of otaku. Slowly, he becomes more like them until he decides to abandon his former life to become king of otaku—the otaking!
Mixed in are live-action interviews with real otaku, addressing every aspect of hardcore otaku life. Not only are anime and manga fans included, but also sci-fi fans, military fans, and other groups of Japanese geeks.
Otaku no Video is a very insightful and introspective (with a touch of mockery) movie that contains both a slightly parodical animated version of the origins of studio Gainax, and live recorded interviews conducted by Gainax of former (and current) Otaku of the time- 1991.
Very nontraditional in many ways, it’s not completely anime, and not completely live action, but a blend that presents relevant cultural information regarding the Otaku. It’s broken up into two parts; one, an animated movie about a guy named Ken Kubo and his stereotypical fat, geeky otaku friend Tanaka, and the second part is a series of the aforementioned interviews in segments called “Portrait of an Otaku”.
The animation first:
Kubo and Tanaka were college friends; Kubo the typical Gary Stu kind of guy- tennis team, has a beautiful girlfriend, scholar, and everything seems right in his life, except he’s rather bored. He meets up with Tanaka by chance in an elevator, and from that fateful reunion on is slowly drawn into the Otaku lifestyle of making fanfiction magazines, garage kits (modified figurines), and eventually full on anime and video games in an attempt to become the OTAKING- King of the Otakus!
After rising to the top, Kubo and Tanaka get screwed, and then have to decide what it was that was really important to them- the grubbing, hand to mouth lifestyle of being an artist and original creator, or selling out and making all the money. There’s only one true path for the Otaking, and that’s to take it beyond the stars.
The pacing is broken up by the interviews, but the narrative is both engaging and humorous, along with providing a very loose version of how Gainax was started, and their goals of shooting for the stars, both in animation and in business practices. It’s very interesting to see how Otaku no Video inspired later works, and drew from the doujinshi (amateur produced works) that put Gainax on the map. Real life science fiction conventions Daicon 3 and 4 (1981, 1983) are explored, which Gainax also produced shorts for. Other character stylings and symbols seen in later works also make appearances, like Kamina’s glasses on a building, robots from Gunbuster, and more.
Portrait of an Otaku:
Through a series of live interviews, the movie also explores the lives and disparate interests of those who call themselves Otaku. Garage Kit Otaku, Military Otaku, Anime and Manga, Fanzines, Cosplay enthusiasts, and Fan Video Otaku, and even an art thief are all shown, and asked series of questions that either mock their interests and lifestyle, or that give some insight into what it is that drives them to their obsession.
While it’s believed that the people interviewed were either Gainax employees themselves (who created their studio to put a name behind their amateur original works, and thereby personifying some of these stereotypes), some of it is plainly staged. Hideaki Anno himself is shown as a Hentai-game addict, even. Typically, the faces and voices are censored, so it’s still unknown who some of them are. It’s interesting in that they’re making fun of Otaku, and at the same time themselves, because that’s how Gainax started out: geeks making their own originals to hawk at conventions.
The portrait section also provides some hilarious statistics on what Otaku are interested in, and how different groups see different themes. A foreigner was also intereviewed, and it was stated that some 50% of those surveyed come to Japan solely out of anime and manga fandom, and the other half either “like” or “are not opposed” to it. A fanzine convention survey of 100 Otaku revealed that only 15% of them had cosplayed, and an overwhelming 60% had not. Of those 15 that responded yes, the “Otaku who did cosplay tended to be repeat offenders”.
Another survey included those who “talk to themselves”, of which the overwhelming majority with 70% did.
There’s also a deep sociological background to Otaku culture; stemming from how a more collectivist culture like Japan operates vs an intensely individualistic one like the US. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered” they say, and to a point, it’s true. In a collectivist culture, the ideal person fits in with their group, their family, their society, and don’t express their individualism much when around others. In private, they can be a night and day different person.
The Otaku have long been branded as “no life losers”, and in a sense shunned from their culture as they’re perceived “deviant”, no different from the US, really. People with anime and manga obsession, people obsessed with doomsday preparation, zombie fanatics, etc.-all these groups share a common thread in that they’re on the fringe of ‘normative’ society. In that, they find a bond together, and create their own subculture outside of the norms.
For anyone who’s interested in the Otaku culture, this half mockumentary is a great video for insight into what it was like back in the day, even if it’s somewhat parodical. In all honesty, what they portray satirically here is not far from the truth, neither in 1991 nor in 2015. There are tons of people out there like the ones shown in this movie, that are obsessive enthusiasts of different fandoms, and though their interests may be broad, they’re all bound by a label that sets them apart- that of the Otaku.
In terms of actual entertainment value, and story, I was quite disappointed. Although an important contribution to the OVA, the ‘portrait of an otaku’ segments really fractured the progression of the story and fragmented its pace so that it was difficult for thew show to build up momentum or excitement. I felt that the story simply not be told in such a short period of time, particularly of the characters were to be properly fleshed out and developed. As a consequence of the short, and divided time, I never felt attached to the characters, or their plight, or only occasionally did their predicament make me feel. This would have been alright if it was more of a comedy, but the fact is it was rarely very funny, the black humour of the portraits was almost entirely absent from the actual anime. This basically means that the OVA is barely worth watching unless you have a genuine interest or investment in the otaku culture in Japan; you will not find a better psycho-analysis of the otaku character.
In the following case, an Otaku (if you don\’t already know), is a Japanese term for a fan/person who is obsessed with any theme/topic/hobby. (The "portraits" are about anime/manga/military/hentai Otakus).
Otaku no Video is a fairly fun video/OVA to watch. Not necessarily for the actual animation, but the Otaku interview bits(called portrait of an Otaku) in between the actual story, where they have interviews with all sorts of Otakus(Manga,Anime,Military,True,Foreign, "Garage Kit"). Of course, this OVA is fairly outdated (~24 years before time of this review). Opinion: Otaku\’s have changed over time, so the same (Portrait of an Otaku) can\’t necessarily be applied to modern ones.
As for the Story, it only becomes worthwhile when he emerges into the Japanese anime industry(episode 2). The first part, I found fairly mediocre.
The art is outdated, but not to the point where it is distracting. GAINAX (a couple years before the Shin Seiki Evangelion.
The Opening themesong, I found quite catchy. The video\’s background music was undistracting to the point where I\’m not quite sure whether it even had background music or not.
Characters both story and portraits were mainly Otakus, some of which seem to be hard to get along with (in the portraits not the anime).
As for Enjoyment, this OVA is one of a kind, even with it\’s outdated(ness), I still managed to learn alot (and a bit about about myself), statistics & surveys "out of 100 otakus) are given so you have an idea regarding otaku.
As a result, this OVA is one to be watched. People can look into this and say…. "That\’s how Otaku were in the 1980\’s, things have changed", "Wow, I didn\’t know that", or even "Oh, I see, that\’s why I talk to myself" (you\’re not alone!!). I\’d recommend this to most Otakus, and maybe anyone who happens interested in Otaku(ism?).
6: Dantalian no Shoka: Ibarahime
English: The Mystic Archives of Dantalian: Ibarahime
Japanese: ダンタリアンの書架 荊姫
MAL Score: 7.17
A DVD containing an all new, original anime episode bundled with the fifth volume of Chako Abeno’s Dantalian no Shoka manga adaptation.
Dantalian no Shoka: Ibarahime (also known as The Mystic Archives of Dantalian: Ibarahime) is a special all new original episode contained within the fifth volume of Chako Abeno’s Dantalian no Shoka manga adaptation. For any die hard fans of the original series, this special episode should be a special moment.
Though it has been long, Dalian returns as her usual self. From the very beginning, she begins complaining just about…everything. And of course, her stomach speaks for herself just like from the original series. Just give her a candy and she’ll shut up. Then, there’s also Huey who returns in his usual role and maintains a calm composure despite Dalian’s 24/7 complaining.
Being known as part of the supernatural mystery genre, this episode brings forth some mystery. Surprised? You might be. That’s because most OVA or special episodes these days are often one of those beach, onsen, summer festival cliches. Yet, Dantalian sticks with its style of mystery and doesn’t fall into the cliches. That’s just one of the little gadgets that makes this special episode unique in its way.
However, let’s remember that the original series wasn’t exactly a hit smash, or at least in my opinion. It lacked smoothness and tries to characterize its characters too much. Needless to say, the characters’ personalities does not balance although they sure bring out entertainment by just watching Dalian and Huey battle it out and about verbally using non magical words. But drop the arguments in this episode because a new character brings forth some trouble for the duo. Working together, the duo once again delivers just deserts.
As for the animation, it’s just alright. Gainax once again is in charge here but nothing much has changed. The episode retains its 1950s feeling of the old English Ages that brings out some realism. The Victorian like dress that Dalian wears retains its original design while Huey still wears his signature hat (see the promo poster if you don’t believe me).
The music/soundtrack doesn’t change much either in this episode. It still has the usual choir music tone and the English style soundtrack. It retains its classical style and I do have to admit, it brings back some nostologia of the old school music. It is definitely well choreographed with the ED song being once again a smash hit in the strangeness department.
Overall, Dantalian no Shoka: Ibarahime is one of those episodes that gives the fans a heads up that the original series is still something to treasure like words in a book, the words written from our memories, or the words delivered by our feelings. However, it once again lacks story or characterization just like the original series. The art is also nothing special to take notice of despite its subjective realism. On the other hand, the soundtrack is quite pleasing to the ears that is appealing and gives off the audio tone which reflects the classical style of the English Ages. It’s difficult to say if this is enjoyable for me or not as it lacks originality (aka the Gosick clone theory). However, it brings back some nostologia and I’ll leave it at that. Whether you’ll like the episode or not is up to you to decide. Maybe, you can write your thoughts and record them in a book, come back later, and then think about it.
5: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Movie Zenyasai: Viral no Amai Yume
Japanese: 天元突破グレンラガン 劇場版前夜祭 「ヴィラルの甘い夢」
MAL Score: 7.28
Viral tries to get some sleep, but keeps on having terrifying nightmares. Can’t anyone save him from his plight?
I recommend you to watch the live version and if you are fan of Viral or just of the funny moments in Gurren Lagann, you’ll definitely love this short special clip!
4: Ranma : Yomigaeru Kioku
Japanese: らんま1/2 SPECIAL よみがえる記憶
MAL Score: 7.62
“Reawakening Memories” deals with Akane suddenly remembering a trip to Ryugenzawa when she was a small child. While there she was saved from a giant platypus by Shinnosuke. Akane travels back to Ryogenzawa and once again meets Shinnosuke, who falls in love with her. Akane blames herself for Shinnosuke`s life-threatening injuries, and decides to stay and help out. This irritates Ranma, who thinks that Akane has fallen in love with Shinnosuke, and will do what it takes to get her back.
Music in this is fun as all the OVA’s had some of my favourite OPs of the whole series:
#01:”Koi da! Panic! (Love Panic!)” by Yawmin (eps 1-6) /
#01: “Love Panic! (English Version)” by Connie Lavigne (eps 1-6) /
#02: “Boku-tachi Wa Kore Kara (Us From Now On)” by DoCo (ep 7) /
#02: “Us From Now On (English Version)” by DoCo USA (eps 7-11).
The side characters and setting are what really create a fun mood with a bit of sentimentality and someone who actually appreciates Akane’s cooking for once! This is a fun take on a well know legend.
3: Top wo Nerae 2! Diebuster
English: Gunbuster 2
MAL Score: 7.65
Generations have passed since the war with the Space Monsters started, and none remain who know how it began, with even records of those times being scarce. It is a lost cause, but humanity still fights against them, relying on the “Topless”: a group of elite space pilots with special powers that allow them to use the Buster Machines—the last hope against the Space Monsters.
Nono, a girl from a remote Martian town, has heard tales all her life of the legendary pilot “Nono-Riri,” and wants nothing more than to leave her humble life behind and follow in the footsteps of her idol. Though she has no idea of the dangers that lie ahead, nothing will stop her from achieving her dream. While Nono is down on her luck, she chances upon the lonesome Topless pilot Lal’C Melk Mark, and decides to stake her entire future on following Lal’C, no matter the cost.
To say I was surprised by the end result would be an understatement.
Top wo Nerae 2 takes a bit of getting used to, especially for fans of the original series. The style, plot and scripting are very different to the original OVA, however the feel of the show is remarkably similar to it’s predecessor. Part of this is because the story is set around ten years prior to the final moments of Gunbuster, at the very end of the 12,000 year period. Humanity is still at war with the “space monsters”, but they are more able to cope now thanks to the efforts of the Fraternity, which is made up of teenaged pilots who possess “supernatural” powers (known as “Topless”), and their Buster machines.
The story begins with Nono, a clumsy girl living on Mars who dreams of being a space pilot. She runs away from home to follow her dream, only to find that reality is very different. Through a chance encounter she meets a Topless called Lal’C Melk Mark, and is completely bowled over by the experience. She follows Lal’C into space, ultimately to meet her destiny.
In all honesty, the plot is actually the weakest part of the whole OVA. Although the story is well paced and the scripting is tight but flowing, there are some obvious homages to Gunbuster which, all told, the show could really have done without. That’s not to say that all the references are bad, especially as this is set within Gunbuster’s timeframe. It simply means that the show is too reliant on knowledge of the original OVA at times, and would have been better served by trying to be more original on occasion.
The biggest problem though, is that the director and the writers have tried to cover this by making Nono a fan of Nonoriri, the girl who saved the Solar System thousands of years ago. This attempt at deus ex machina didn’t sit too well as it gave a certain falseness to the characters thoughts, feelings and actions at times, especially on the occasions that mirrored occurences from the original OVA.
However, while the story may have it’s problems, it is actually enjoyable for the most part, and it’s to the credit of the writers that a number of flaws can be forgiven (not all though, more on that in a bit).
One area where the show does excel is in it’s animation. Gainax have, once again, produced some stunning work in terms of character movements and set piece action sequences, and it’s fair to say that in this department Diebuster is actually better than Gunbuster. The character designs, created by Sadamoto Yoshiyuki (who was also the character designer for FLCL), are very good on the whole, although they are, at times, a tad cartoonish. The backgrounds, especially the renderings of space and it’s wonders, are very well done, and some of the visual effects used in the show are truly inspired.
The OVA does fall down though, in it’s usage of nudity. Where the original series also had a degree of nudity, it’s usage was minimal at best (aside from the bath scene), with the most prominent example being Noriko’s famous shirt ripping moment in the final episode. Diebuster, on the other hand, seems to take any excuse to show the fans some skin, and whilst there are times when this mimics the first series, there are far too many occasions where it serves no purpose other than to please the fans. I’m all for pleasing the fans, but Tsurumaki and Gainax should have tried to do this in a different way instead of choosing to be “cheap”.
Diebuster is very good in terms of it’s sound effects, not simply in their usage, but also because of their timing. The sound department has paid a great a deal of attention to matching specific effects to the on-screen action, and whilst there are times when the sound is a veritable cacophony, closer examination will reveal that each individual effect stems from an individual action, item, character, etc. In truth, Diebuster is one of the few anime that is worth watching with surround sound to truly appreciate the quality of the effects.
In terms of music, the show has a generally martial tone to the various thematic pieces, however these are offset by some mellow tracks that work well with the more relaxed moments. The show has a certain feeling of continuity because of the music used throughout the series, some of which is taken directly from Gunbuster, while others have the same feel. The ending theme in the final episode is very much in keeping with that of the original series, and given that both OVAs finish at the same point in time this, like many of the other tracks, is well used and choregraphed.
Once again though, Diebuster is let down by something simple, in this case, the OP and ED. Where the ED from Gunbuster was a pretty staid ditty about love, the OP had a “get up and go” feeling to it that was reflective of the whole OVA. Diebuster, on the other hand, has two J-Pop tracks for it’s OP and ED, both of which don’t really reflect any aspect of the show, and seem to have been chosen to make the OVA more “trendy”.
That said, the voice acting was very good throughout the show. Fukui Yukari’s Nono possessed a bubbly personality that was tempered with determination, while Sakamoto Maaya’s Lal’C has an aloof, and slightly disgruntled air about her. In terms of acting ability, the cast is truly excellent, and while there are occasions when they do ham up their roles a little, this is very much in keeping with the “excessive” feel of the OVA (more on that in a bit).
As for the characters themselves, they are the second weak point for Diebuster. Nono, in terms of the story, possesses no real motivations other than to be a space pilot. While she is most definitely an enjoyable character, she doesn’t actually develop in any real way, as much of her drive and conviction remains the same even after her memory returns. Much of the development in the show actually happens on the part of Lal’C, especially in the way her thinking changes to reflect that of Nono.
Unfortunately, the show has a number of recurring characters who really get little to no development, and whilst it’s true that this is only a 6 part OVA, if all the development was only supposed to occur on the part of the main characters, then the director should have focused on this instead of making lame attempts to round out other characters, a case in point being the furore involving Tycho and Buster machine Quatre-Vingt-Dix. The time could have been better used to round out the story instead, and it’s ironic that while Diebuster hasn’t done this, Gunbuster actually did.
To many it may seem as though I don’t like Diebuster, especially as I’m an advocate of the original OVA, however nothing couldbe further from the truth. I found Diebuster to be very good, however not in the same way as Gunbuster. The reason for this lies solely on the shoulders of several people, including the director and character designer. Like many directors, Tsurumaki has tried, and in some measure succeeded, to stamp his mark on the series proper, and his influence, along with that of certain other staff members, is readily apparent throughout the anime, so much so in fact, that there are occasions when Diebuster resembles FLCL or Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann more than it does Gunbuster.
This is not a bad thing though, as it does give the OVA a different feel to the original, but therein lies the problem as well. Where FLCL and TTGL have an excessive, over-the-top atmosphere that is prevalent in Diebuster, the original Gunbuster opted for a quiet heroism that was truly touching, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the final episodes of both OVAs. The final scenes in Gunbuster are quiet, with an emphasis on personal sacrifice – the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few being the most appropriate sentiment. Diebuster, on the other hand, opts for a much flashier ending, with lots of noise and action, and to be honest, very little emotional impact. In truth, Nono’s transformation scene and what follows is actually far more memorable than the ending itself, which says a lot about the actual scripting of the show.
The problem, at least for me, is simply this: the entire series is supposed to be about how far humanity will go in order to survive. Given that fact, the method chosen to combat the “space monster” in the final epsiode doesn’t equate with the core of the story, especially as there are other planets in the Solar System that would have been more suitable. That particular method was an attempt at mimicking the usage of Buster machine #3 in the first OVA which, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same effect, mainly because the element of personal sacrifice for the greater good is missing.
It may sound strange to say this now, but Tsurumaki et al could have easily channeled their collective creativity into creating a show that not only captured the spirit of Gunbuster, but also encapsulated the style of FLCL and TTGL, and, in all honesty, a show like that already exists – Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Stood Still. That said, Diebuster is surprisingly honest in a number of ways, the main one being the fact that it makes no excuses for it’s numerous homages to the original OVA. While there may be those who think that using so many references is simply a method of capturing fans of the original anime, this method gives the entire show a feeling of continuity that is so often missingfrom sequels.
On the whole Diebuster is a great addition to the franchise, and while it has it’s flaws, it’s definitely a worthy successor to Gunbuster. While the story and characters may not be as good as the original OVA, Diebuster has a style and flair of it’s own that elevates the show to a whole new level.
I wouldn’t say that it’s truly equal to Gunbuster, but it comes very, very, close.
Lets get down to it. Top wo Nerae! 2, alsno known as Diebuster is the indirect sequel to Top wo Nerae/Gunbuster. I enjoyed this short OVA substantially because of its presentation.
The story follows a girl called Nono who wishes to be a “Topless,” which is basically an ace mech pilot to put it simply. Instead of dragging the story out with pointless episodes and scenes you often see in 26+ shows, Diebuster goes straight to the point and sticks with it. Most of the scenes show multiple different conflicts (whether they are big or small) which are tied together with the main plot quite nicely. Pacing is great, but since it’s so short you might forget some of the smaller details as the series goes on.
This anime brought with it a wide variety of moods and atmosphere simply due to its visual direction. In terms of overall quality, Diebuster falls by today’s standards however considering its age, the key animations were memorable to say the least. The fights were all very fluid, everything in the scene seemed like it was flowing together. Usually, emotion is hard to convey, however Diebuster was able to successfully convey those emotions through its visuals. Not only that, but character design was excellent, they managed to turn a basic style suit into each character’s individual style, and personality wise, none of them (at least to me) seemed to follow the stereotypical route.
Diebuster had a good OST when it comes to sound. The BGM’s were nice and, all though not Gurren Lagann-type memorable, they stood up there with some of the good ones. The voice acting was pretty good too (see emotions being memorable). Some might argue Nono’s voice was annoying, but I liked it. Even the enemy grunts/noises, those were superb, for grunts and noises anyway heh. Everything that had a distinct sound keep that sound though, for example beams sound like beams or explosions sound like explosions, but when tied with Diebuster’s BGM, it sounded better. Lets not forget the OP and ED, both of which totally owned face. Groovin’ Magic stands to be one of the best songs, at least in my opinion, to match this series (plus it was done by Round Table feat. Nino, who are one of my favorites). ACKO’s Hoshikuzu Namida is a catchy single as well, pair it together with the slideshow ending, it’s perfect.
The reason I enjoyed this so much is because of the memorable scenes and the similarity between the original. Gainax seemed to keep the trend of hotblooded epicness going after they finished Diebuster with Gurren Lagann, which doesn’t relate to Top wo Nerae at all, but they all share the same principles. If you are a fan of mecha, shounen, or anything of that sort, I’m am confident Diebuster will give you some enjoyment.
All in all, I give Diebuster, rather Top wo Nerae! 2, a solid 9 out of 10. I have to admit, those seeking to watch this typically already know what they are getting into. A story about believing in yourself and overcoming difficulties and struggles; these things are common to us all.
Sequels are a gamble, especially when the time gap between original and sequel grows and grows. They tend to be put under more scrutiny than their predecessors, as they not only have to deal with standing tall as installments in their own right, but they need to provide merit as a sequel to a product that never needed one. The trickiest prospect involved is the anniversary sequel, as that is where you’re most likely to enact the gambit. Some projects of this nature can pay off in a way that respects the original and becomes its own product, perhaps even succeeding it in the process. However, not everyone can do a Turn A Gundam, and instead, some make Diebuster.
Put it simply, it fails both ways. As a series, it features mediocre at best and largely uninteresting characters, half-assed power-up moments, and tons of convoluted and barely explained sci-fi superpower bullshit & worldbuilding. When the highlight in terms of memorable character moments was a rape attempt, you know you’ve fucked up. As a sequel, Diebuster’s almost insulting. The writers made a completely different type of show -a mediocre one at that- a sequel to Gunbuster. It would be like making Aldnoah.Zero the sequel to Macross. As such, everything about the already poorly-crafted and convoluted world-building (galaxy building?) is brimming with incompatibility.
Buster machines are now biomechanical machines that can only be piloted by people with some hereditary superpower gene rather than robots that take skill for any able-bodied person in general to pilot. They each come with different powers including the ability to freeze space creatures in space with quantum temperatures, and controlling and turning other ships into creatures to use during battle via psychic powers or something akin to that. They have colonized entirely new planets with futuristic military technology, yet transportation technology and all things not inherently related to war against space creatures has yet to advance beyond 2004 —the year this OVA first aired— until the finale outright contradicts that. The finale also proves that it takes place during a specific portion of the original’s finale, as if to self-destruct while getting its idol caught in the explosion. Additionally, whereas Gunbuster used real, hard science for its science fiction, Diebuster uses pseudoscience superpower nonsense. This and more serve as only a taste of how incompatible (for lack of a better word) the world-building is, and why crafting a coherent world is always important. Otherwise, we get two pieces that just cannot fit.
There’s also the fact that the mere existence of the events in Die, even discounting the monumentally awful finale, ultimately sully the finale of the original Gunbuster. Not only did that show end phenomenally, but it did so in a way in which no real sequel could be warranted. Gunbuster ended so conclusively that to continue would be to retroactively take back part of the point of the finale. This isn’t even touching on the world-building. This show really should have been its own thing. It would have been a mediocre at best show, but better a mediocre separate celebration installment than a show that accidentally knocks over its predecessor’s grave, especially when said predecessor became one of the two foundational anime of its studio. However, it would probably require heavy rewrites towards the end in particular. After all, the more it goes on, the worse it gets, peaking in its concluding episodes in terms of sheer atrocity, as the show stops caring almost entirely and ends up outright nullifying the ending of the original, at least canonically.
To cover the positive —read: superficial— aspects of this asteroid, the music is better than last time, and the visuals are still mostly well-crafted. Even with the awful mech designs excessive amounts of usually terrible CGI, the show’s visuals are worthwhile. The character designs are fine enough -particularly that of Nono- and the action animation is smooth, kinetic, and kept track of extremely well…as long as the characters aren’t running. It may not hold up compared to the immaculately detailed and stylized predecessor of yore, but disregarding that leaves you with visuals that were on par with that best at the time, at least animation-wise. The sense of scale is quite large, to add on top of that. Lastly, the music is honestly a tad superior than the original, at least when it isn’t remixing tracks. The OP and ED themes are ok and the background music is serviceable, though that is all I can praise.
Ultimately, the more this show goes on, the more horrible a sequel it becomes. As if it wouldn’t be a bad enough show on its own, it just had to throw a classic series under the bus in a drunken attempt at paying homage and joining a franchise. Barring the prospect of bastardizing a returning cast, Diebuster commits every sin a sequel can commit -including ones I never thought were possible- and ends up shattering itself into pieces upon its obnoxious attempts at trying to send-up and one-up. On its own, it’s a mediocre turned bad show too ambitious for its own good. As a sequel, it is so…so much worse. Way to go Gainax, producing the worst thing in your mainline repertoire to celebrate 20 years!
2: Top wo Nerae! Gunbuster
Japanese: トップをねらえ！ GunBuster
MAL Score: 7.88
In the near future, humanity has taken its first steps towards journeying into the far reaches of the galaxy. Upon doing so they discover a huge race of insectoid aliens known as “Space Monsters.” These aliens seem dedicated to the eradication of mankind as they near closer and closer to discovering Earth. In response, humanity develops giant fighting robots piloted by hand-picked youth from around the world.
Shortly after the discovery of the aliens, Noriko Takaya, the daughter of a famous deceased space captain, enters a training school despite her questionable talents as a pilot. There, she meets her polar opposite, the beautiful and talented Kazumi Amano, and is unexpectedly made to work together with her as they attempt to overcome the trauma of war as well as their own emotions.
In the simplest terms, if Top wo Nerae! didn’t exist, the NGE would never have been made. Many of the themes from TwN are key themes of NGE, and although NGE took a more metaphysical route with it’s story, Top wo Nerae! remains firmly rooted in a more realistic approach (figuratively speaking that is).
The plot for TwN pays homage to the classic tennis anime Aim for the Ace, something which is clearly reflected in the title. The hollywood movie Top Gun also influenced Anno with regards to how his characters should develop. The very simple and straightforward story is about a war between humanity and a mysterious alien civilization. Humanity is using every tool it can conceive of in an effort to win, however they are steadily being pushed back, and things look grim for Earth.
The story begins with Takaya Noriko, a 16 year old girl who attends a military training school in Okinawa. At first she seems rather clumsy and unreliable, however she possesses a steely determination as she desperately wishes to follow in the footsteps of her famous father Takaya Yuzo, an Admiral of the space fleet who went missing during the early days of the war.
The story then continues with the introduction of several other key characters, all of whom play a very big part in the development of Noriko’s character, the most important being Kazumi Amano (the girl that Noriko idolizes), Ota Koichiro, and the young pilot Toren Smith.
I’ll stop with the story there as this is only a 6 part OVA, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t watched it.
The art for TwN is excellent, especially considering the time it was made. The anime is 20 years old now, yet many of the action scenes still stand up to more modern shows. The character designs are reflective of the time, however they are still distinctive for each character. There are two areas where the art and animation deviated from what would normally be expected though. The first was the introduction of "bouncing breasts" into the show (making it the first anime to include such things).
TwN’s usage of jiggling breasts wasn’t actually meant as fan service originally (although many now see it that way). The original reason why they were included was because Anno wanted the characters to move as a real life person would move. It’s unfortunate that many viewers nowadays will automatically see bouncing breasts and base the worth of a show on their inclusion (because they don’t like fanservice, or love it far too much), when the original intent was for some far more innocent and blatantly non-sexual.
The second deviation from "normal" anime practices was the final episode. This episode was made almost completely in black and white and, unusually for anime, the episode was produced by creating the art and animation in shades of grey from the start, rather than shooting colour animation using black and white film. The final battle is also memorable for it’s usage of still images, something which heightens the dramatic effect of the scene.
The sound quality for TwN is also excellent, especially given it’s age. The OP is extremely catchy (it’s stayed with me for 20 years after all), and the music throughout the show is often inspired in it’s usage. The effects are of a very high standard, and although there may be some off-kilter moments, these are easily missed, and very minor.
One of the strange things about TwN is that, even though there are several key characters, the story is effectively about a young girl who comes of age and finds her place in the world. The characters are generally excellent in their roles, but as with NGE, almost all of the development goes to the lead character. Unlike NGE however, this works because the show is only 6 episodes long, and events happen at a much more condensed rate.
Noriko is excellent as a lead character. There are some who find her annoying, whiney, etc, however those people are usually the ones who mark Ikari Shinji as one of the greatest anime characters ever (which begs the question of what drugs they’re taking). Takaya Noriko, whilst being shy, somewhat nervous, more than a little unreliable (and she knows it), and constantly surrounded by people who really are better than her in many ways (we’re talking geniuses in combat, piloting skills, etc), is understandably more than a little scared as to why she is part of such august company. The added pressure of having to match up to what other people can do naturally is telling on her development as a character. Although she does often become disheartened, she displays some of the best character growth seen in anime (in many ways far superior to that displayed by Shinji in NGE).
It’s unfortunate that TwN was such a short series however, as the other characters are deserving of development. None of the characters were annoying in any way, and the relationships between them, especially between Noriko, Kazumi and Jung, are handled very well throughout the anime.
Top wo Nerae! is very enjoyable to watch for many reasons. The characters and their relationships, the dramatic tension, the taut storyline, all serve to whet one’s appetite for more. It’s truly unfortunate that, whilst NGE often receives plaudits from fans, this show is often overlooked or marginalised – even though it is better than NGE. Many fans of NGE dislike the fact that the TwN lacks NGE’s symbolism and metaphysical elements, and blatantly ignore the fact that TwN was a landmark anime for several reason, not the least of which is the fact that it has a girl as the main character rather than a boy. This was almost unheard of at the time, especially as this show is very much action oriented. In addition, whilst Shinji is seen to suffer in NGE, many people automatically marginalise Noriko’s suffering, partly because they perceive it as insubstantial, and partly because they believe that Shinji’s trials and tribulations are "more believable" (pardon me while I laugh), than Noriko’s.
It may seem odd, but it’s easy to distinguish between fans of NGE who actually understood what was going on, and those who are simply emo fanboys/girls, by their reaction to TwN. The one’s who do actually understand NGE actually like TwN, and can see where NGE has it’s roots. The fanboys and girls will write off TwN as crap (which one are you I wonder?).
Humans versus aliens is not a new story, but what makes TwN unique amongst the many in the mecha/action genre is the fact that it very clearly shows the lengths to which humanity will go in order to survive. The only other show where this is highlighted is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which shows just how rare this theme is in anime. NGE wasn’t so much about saving the world from aliens, but more about saving yourself. Another rarity is the fact that TwN also clearly shows the training that young people must go through before piloting a mech (something that is suspiciously glossed over in NGE and many other mech shows).
This is one of those shows that I would recommend to everyone. It’s a rarity of an anime that combines a great story, great animation, and some excellent characters. Many NGE purists would have you believe that that show is Anno’s greatest work, however this is not the case.
Anno’s directorial debut remains, to this day, his finest achievement.
Gunbuster, or Top Wo Nerae! (Aim For The Top, in English), is considered to be the first thing the in/famous studio Gainax put out that is still known of today, and is often credited for putting them on the map. There are many people who consider Gunbuster to be an unprecedented classic, and a shining example of how mecha anime should be done, even 22 years later. And as was the case with another immensely overrated, 6-episode OVA made by Gainax that I shall not name, I’m sure I will hear no end of flak for this review, but let’s make this clear right now: Gunbuster is fucking awful.
There is so much wrong with this anime I don’t even know where to start. But much like that other OVA series I don’t care to mention, I am absolutely dumbfounded by the popularity it commands. There isn’t a single good thing I can name about this show, aside from maybe the fact that Hideaki Anno learned from his mistake and made Neon Genesis Evangelion, which was obviously extremely flawed in of itself.
But let’s begin with one of the most glaring faults this show has: the science. This show has so little respect for physics that it makes Newton cry. This is especially prevalent in the first three episodes, having such faults as training for space missions on normal earth conditions, using objects to increase the gravity on them (because obviously, increased gravity is going to be a big concern in space), several occasions of objects seamlessly entering and leaving space without any damage to the surroundings (for example, a mecha coming in from space and landing in a forest clearing, which would probably devastate a large portion of the forest in real life), sound in the noiseless vacuum of space (though this is by no means the only offender for this), as well as several other chunks of absolute scientific nonsense. There are also several logical mishaps not involving science, like how the girls’ bathrooms are in clear view through a large glass panel for all to see. Which, of course, provides us with a [i]hilarious[/i] fanservice moment.
Next up for the chop, the characters. While the characterisation was shaky in Evangelion, here it is nothing short of awful. The main character, Noriko, stands in the tradition of Gainax in having their main characters be whiny, over-sensitive, and frequently completely useless. Noriko fits the bill for the most part, being a clear building block in Anno’s later protagonist Shinji Ikari. And Noriko manages to give me a new appreciation for Shinji, because at least Shinji was well-written. Noriko is poorly written and completely unlikeable, and the rest of the cast is even worse. Her mentor is so worthless that I honestly can’t even remember her name. You could replace her with a magical chipmunk that knows how to pilot a mecha, and the plot probably wouldn’t change in the least, aside from the spousal abuse shifting to the animal variety. The worst character, however, is probably Jung Freud. I defy you to name a single thing she does in this show. She doesn’t have the remotest significance, but Anno makes it clear we’re supposed to know who she is. As far as her personality, she seems to flip from being the Action Girl to being The Rival, depending on what Anno wants her to be in whichever particular scene, but ends up completely insignificant regardless.
Next is the plot. Everything about it is very badly written. Everything about it is basically a cheesy 80’s movie turned mecha, and the results are as bad as they sound. Noriko is a student at a school training mecha, and is chosen to go into space because her father saved the life of a man who wound up with authority on the matter. In short, he allows a girl with absolutely no piloting skill into a major military division.
In space, Noriko meets a boy named Smith who she may or may not be in love with. I might be more clear about it if he hadn’t spent all of 5 minutes, if even that, on screen. She then winds up completely depressed when he dies, despite them having known each other for like, 5 minutes. Not long after, we are introduced to the antagonising force, which mankind has somehow found out thinks that we are destroying the universe. Considering these alien creatures never show any sign of intelligence or communication whatsoever, it is a mystery how people came to this conclusion.
Not long after, in a climactic battle which sees Noriko go into Shinji-mode, angsting and staying away from the battle, she eventually comes to and winds up piloting the titular mecha for some reason. Again, why a talentless teenage girl would be allowed to pilot something like this is a mystery. Nonetheless, she goes out and kicks a large amount of ass. Also, as shallow as this may be, there is one compliment I can give this series: the Gunbuster looks pretty damn awesome.
Moving along, the last two episodes are commonly hyped up to be absolutely fantastic, but this is absolutely untrue: There’s nothing remotely good about them. Annoyingly, they had the potential to be, especially the finale. The last episode is made in black and white for no particular reason. The only likely reasons I can give are that they were either trying to be artsy and pretentious, or it was to save animation budget. Seeing how this is Gainax, the latter is rather likely. And to add to the damning evidence, what should have been an amazing moment, a battle of epic proportions where robots explode, heroic sacrifices are made, and aliens die, winds up being compressed into a few animation-saving frames. To make this even more infuriating, those frames make it look like something you’d actually want to watch. It’s like a friend going to a concert you weren’t able to go to, who then raves about it to you, bragging about what you missed.
Add to all this the most pretentious, cheesy, godawful, and all-round irrational ending, and you have the formula for a truly terrible anime. I can’t name a single thing I like about this, aside from it having spawned an infinitely superior sequel, Diebuster. I mean, for fuck’s sake… as much as I hated FLCL, this has truly dethroned it as the worst thing Gainax have produced. At least FLCL had some good concepts and production values behind it. If anything, it was just horribly executed, whereas Gunbuster is just a weak, amateur production in every single way.
Final Words: Bad physics, bad logic, bad characterisation, bad writing, bad animation, bad plot, bad directing, bad concepts, bad everything.
For Fans Of: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Neon Genesis Evangelion.
One impressive thing about Gunbuster is its general commitment to maintaining a setting based on hard science in many aspects that don’t concern the Gunbuster itself. Ships travelling at sub-light speed undergo time dilation as per Einsteinian physics, meaning that time on a relatively stationary body like the Earth passes faster- many of the more emotional moments in the show are based on this difference in the passage of time between those fighting in space and those left behind on Earth. Furthermore, a good portion of the show centers not around the mechas but the space fleet, grounding the setting in procedure and a more realistic, wartime feel. This, in turn, makes the comparatively unrealistic mecha battles all the more triumphant for being special, unique among a setting dedicated to the relatively mundane. In fact, these moments have real power- not simply because it’s cool to see a giant robot fight gigantic alien insects, but because every important fight is built up to, set up with real tension and high stakes while carrying the entire emotional weight of the characterization and conflicts. In other words, it’s literally and physically exciting: something that can be said of very few things in the entire medium. Not only that, but the climax of the show along with its ending are incredibly powerful emotionally- the final episode is nothing short of moving on an inspirational, triumphant level.
Personally, Gunbuster is one of my all-time favorite series, and there are few things in anime that I ever enjoyed more. It’s far from perfect though, most notable among its flaws being that there are moments when the budget of the show cannot catch up to its vision. Furthermore, the pacing in the first half is slower than the second, which allows for good and thoughtful characterization but alienates the first three episodes from the last three in terms of general quality- episodes 1, 2, and 3 only exist to build up episodes 4, 5, and 6. Being made in 1988, its style may put off some younger or newer viewers, and if you’re not already somewhat familiar with the genre you may find it hard to suspend your disbelief in the initial episodes. In fact, it can only be fully appreciated by one already somewhat familiar with the super robot subgenre, Nevertheless, I implore anyone who considers themselves an anime fan to watch this short series. It might lack the artistic or literary value of a select circle of masterpieces, but it is a superb piece of work that does nearly everything better than almost anything out there.
MAL Score: 8.03
Naota Nandaba is an ordinary sixth grader living in a city where nothing amazing ever seems to happen. After his brother Tasuku leaves town to play baseball in America, Naota takes it upon himself to look after everything Tasuku left behind—from his top bunk bed to his ex-girlfriend Mamimi Samejima, who hasn’t stopped clinging to Naota since Tasuku left.
Little does Naota know, however, that his mundane existence is on the verge of being changed forever: enter Haruko Haruhara, a Vespa-riding, bass guitar-wielding, pink-haired psychopath whose first encounter with Naota leaves him with tire tracks on his back and a giant horn on his head. Though all he wants is some peace and quiet, when Haruko takes up residence at his parents’ home, Naota finds himself dragged into the heart of the greatest battle for supremacy that Earth—and quite possibly the entire universe—has ever seen.
I highly recommend watching this series multiple times (it is short enough for sure – about the length of a movie all together). Each time I watch it, I start to pick up more subtleties, like pieces of foreshadowing dialogue, thematic development between characters and their foils, and witty humour. The director’s commentary is also extremely insightful to the themes of the story, and I would definitely spend time watching that as well.
Most importantly, I can’t stress enough to not be quick to judge this work. If you don’t understand everything (and you undoubtedly won’t after the first viewing), it certainly does not mean FLCL is "random" or "plotless". It is in my opinion WELL worth a second and third watch in order to pick up as much as you can.
I can’t sing enough praise about FLCL. It holds a dear place in my heart, and I hope everyone that reads this can find a great enjoyment in it as well.
Sadly, FLCL did not offer any but was a one way trip to hell the moment a certain character made a flashy appearance in the first episode.
STORY: There is absolutely no story behind this anime. It is just six episodes of disjointed scripts that attempt to fuse together as much genres as possible then injected with pointless crude sexual humor. It is as confusing as reading a Chemistry textbook upside down and going to write a Biology exam. It is not anything overly intelligent that one wouldn’t understand but a very sorry attempt for a plot.
ART: A rather welcome aspect of FLCL. The art is unique and very neat while the animation is decent but nothing breathtaking.
SOUND: Another redeeming feature of the show.The music, as a standalone is nothing special but mixed with FLCL actually makes sense. It blends perfectly with the animation and just about managed to keep my sanity while being subject to the torture that was Fooly Cooly.
CHARACTER: This is perhaps the aspect of FLCL that is worse than the Story. A good anime has characters that you can connect to, ones you feel an attachment to, ones you root for, likable characters. The only half decent character in FLCL is Naota. The lot of em are either disgusting or detestable and very easily forgettable.
Now welcome to Haruko, my no. 3 most hated character in anime history only behind Shin in Gundam Seed Destiny and Roshio in TTGL. The introduction of Haruko marked the end of FLCL for me. A good description of her would be spontaneously annoying.
ENJOYMENT: I did not enjoy FLCL plain and simple. I have watched this anime an unbelievable 3 times because I kept telling myself maybe just maybe I missed something or there’s is an underlying essence but NO, I only hated it more each time.
CONCLUSION: When there is a subject of controversy, you find things like
-One man’s meat is another man’s poison
-it is hit or miss
-People have different tastes etc
In this regard, FLCL is as polarizing as they come. It will be a love/hate relationship if you decide to brave the show. The good thing is you’ll know which category you belong very early on.
Story – There isn’t one. When I try to describe it to people they think that I’m just making things up. The story is so nonexistent that it’s pretty impossible to spoil.
Character – The MC from Evangelion is paired up with a bipolar schizophrenic girl with unexplained magical powers. The character interactions are nonsensical and character motivations are not even remotely explored. It’s impossible to take anyone in this series seriously.
Art – One of the few redeeming elements of the show. The art is admittedly superbly well done, especially the over-the-top ridiculous sequences that this show is known for. My score ignores how the authors used the many changing art styles as a replacement for actual content.
Sound – The sound was excellent as well. The soundtrack was great, the voice actors were solid, and the english dub is surprisingly good. 9/10
Enjoyment – Watching this once was once too many. Some people might enjoy seeing bright flashing colors and absurd sequences of nonsense, but for me it became trite and jaded 10 minutes into the first episode. I was a fool to continue watching, deluding myself into thinking that it would get better.
Overall – The problem with this show is that if everything is ridiculous, then nothing is ridiculous. I love surrealism, grandiosity and not always understanding everything until the end, but FLCL tries so hard to take everything to an extreme that it struggles to be coherent or meaningful. Perhaps this is why fans are convinced that this show is complex – the idea that they so thoroughly wasted 2 hours of their life on something with absolutely no purpose is disconcerting, so they fabricate some “deeper meaning” for the show when in reality, there isn’t one. Or, at the very least, there isn’t one that can be attained without grasping at straws. And that’s not a meaning worth discussing.
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