They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Karakuri Kiden: Hiwou Senki, Tenpou Ibun: Ayakashi Ayashi, Shippuu! Iron Leaguer, and more!
18: Karakuri Kiden: Hiwou Senki
English: Hiwou War Chronicles
Japanese: 機巧奇傳 ヒヲウ戦記
MAL Score: 6.54
8 years ago, Western Civilization visited 19th century Japan. Mechanized dolls and new steam-powered creations began spreading throughout the country. The Wind Gang is a group of doll and steam users who believe in using their creations to violently bring about a new Industrial Era. They attack and destroy the peaceful village of a young doll user named Hiwou one day. Hiwou and his friends escape with a giant doll named Homura. Hiwou now wants to find his father, so that he can help defeat the Wind Gang, and bring peace back to Japan.
17: Tenpou Ibun: Ayakashi Ayashi
English: Ghost Slayers Ayashi
Japanese: 天保異聞 妖奇士
MAL Score: 6.90
In the year of Tenpo 14, Yoi, monsters from another world attack Edo. Those who fight against them are members of Bansha Aratemesho. In public, Bansha Aratemsho is known as an organization to study foreign books. In fact, they are a organization dedicated to destroying the Yoi. These warriors are called Ayakashi. They gather information of odd events in the country, and are sent to destroy Yoi who appear. They are generally very strange people. For example, a guy who has lost his memory, a girl who dresses like a man. They have special powers with which to beat the Yoi.
The series starts out a little episodic (monster of the week, if you will). However, it comes off very well in blending fantasy into real history. The plot starts to pick up near the middle, but feels a little rushed near the end due to the fact that the series was originally planned for a 50 episode run. Being cut in half due to the unsatisfactory ratings required of a "primetime" show really hurt this area. It still is pretty enjoyable, though I felt it would have been much better given a few more episodes.
If you are interested in Japanese calligraphy/word study, this series will appeal even more to you. Ryuudou can draw "Ayagami" from people and youi, which are basically their names and depending on their meanings (current, and original meaning of the word), he is able to magically create weapons, armor and whatnot.
The art style used is very aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and remains constant throughout the series. The action scenes are animated very well and the style blends really well with the mood of the series. It also gives off a very ‘classy’ Japanese feel. Very beautiful and one of my favorite parts of this show.
Personally, I found the OPs and EDs to be great. The ED animation might not be very flashy, but it fits well with the songs and the show in general. The OPs are quite fast paced and are animated quite well.
The soundtrack fits the show to a "T", and although not one of the best, still really helped enhance the mood of many scenes.
Characters are generally likable and have quite a few focal episodes where they are well developed, including their pasts etc. Voice acting is also superb for most roles. I liked how the main character was a middle-aged man and not a young child like most shows in this slot (Gundam SEED, Blood+, Eureka Seven). However, the lack of a main where kids can relate too probably helped contribute to the lack of popularity for the show.
I found myself enjoying this show quite a bit. If you enjoy a little history or Japanese mixed into your anime, then you might wanna check this one out. But if the premise of the shows doesn’t interest you, then you might want to save your time and watch something else.
I still feel it was a waste that it had to be cut though. Could’ve done much better with twice the showtime. Off to watch the OVAs now.
Anyway, in the 14th year of the Tenpo era, there was a secret shrine for “Bansha Aratamesho” (a research institution for foreign literature and learners) under the city of Edo. To the public, this organization was punishing the scholars who studied the Western Culture. However, this organization’s true mission was far more significant. Bansha Aratamesho was responsible to slay the “Yoh-is”, the evil spirits with flesh and blood from another world, that were expanding into Edo. Bansha Aratamesho is not an official organization. Members do not have the typical credentials to be the vassal of Shogun. It consists of a man who lost his memory, a man who was raised in a mountain and a girl who dresses up in a man’s outfit. Their special powers are yet to be known, but they all have special abilities that help slay the Yoh-is. The code name given to them is – “Ayashi”. Ayashis collect all types of information that seems bizarre. With thorough investigation, they locate the Yoh-is and hunt them down.
Now this is where I got to share my problems with the series…..and the main problem is either the pacing issues in the plot, as in it is very slow and it will feel like you’ve been watching the show for half a day. The series does highlight Japanese calligraphy and word study if you interested in learning the language itself and some historic facts often show up in the show, much like Hetalia does sometimes and while it is informative and I will give them merit for that, this series sells itself as an action series and yet the action isn’t up to par to being exciting, it’s just there and it does the pattern of an “monster of the week” plot and for the main storyline does suffers of you trying to keep up and not drift asleep to it. I can see why the series was originally supposed to be 50 episodes, but due to low ratings in Japan, they decided to can the series with only 25 episodes and 5 OVA episodes entitled “Ghost Slayers Ayashi: Inferno”, which I don’t think concluded the series to a satisfying finish.
The characters are honestly very unenthusiastic and dull, and you couldn’t care less about what happens to them. You got Yukiatsu Rydou, the main character who’s a vagrant and has the power of the Ayagami and he was a relatively okay character but I was never completely invested in any of the characters, not even the cross-dressing member of the group Genbatsu Edo or Saizo, the female warrior of the group who dresses like a man and possibly Atl and she is summed up to be the damsel in the group. The other characters are too forgetful or unimportant to mention.
The animation and production values from BONES are remarkably well. Even though I thought the action scenes just felt like it’s just there so you’ll be awake, it was well-animated and the art style of the characters, minus the Yoh-is (they were more “meh” rather than threatening), was acceptable and feel smooth overall. The music of the series was the standard feudal-Japan era BGM and it was done fine but the opening and ending songs are just generic J-Pop tracks that I’ve heard too much in anime and I would just skip them every time I watched an episode, to be honest.
And then there’s the dub by Bandai/Bang Zoom and like the series, it was lacking in the writing department but the dub isn’t bad, it’s just dull and yet the dub has some of my favorite LA-based anime voice actors (Steve Blum, Crispin Freeman & Stephanie Sheh) and even they can’t save this show and that’s the hard thing about it. Maybe Crispin Freeman voicing a cross-dresser help a little bit but the script was written to be straight-laced, no intentionally funny wits and not bullshitting around; and I thought that the script should’ve used a little bit more humor to even it out.
FINAL VERDICT: I’m going to be straightforward about this show…..AND THE FACT THAT IT IS BORING!!! It’s one of the shows that had some potential but it kept on stubbing some toes along the way. I’m very sad and disappointed for this and I wouldn’t recommend this show to action/samurai fans but I’m not going to fully discredit this series and if you like some of the history facts about feudal Japan and calligraphy, then it’s your cup of tea.
16: Shippuu! Iron Leaguer
Japanese: 疾風！ アイアンリーガー
MAL Score: 6.94
The Iron League: a place where teams of robots, under individual “owners”, play various sports and duke it out in tournaments. Mach Windy is a member of Dark Prince, a team that doesn’t play fair and fights dirty to win. Unsatisfied with the actions of his teammates, he defects against the will of Dark Prince’s nefarious owner and joins Silver Prince: the weakest team in the league. Alongside faithful companions such as Magnum Ace and Bull Armor, Mach Windy and Silver Prince will battle against Dark Prince in games of soccer and baseball, and aim for the top!
I feel that fans of this show are crazy fans even if they haven’t seen the show in years. I can only imagine the joy the Japanese fans felt when the show finally got released to DVD 10 years after airing.
This is definitely a special anime. It’s so goood that you can tell in 1993 or 4 or whenever that they’re never going to make something this good again or rather i wish they would! In other words, a true classic! I am calling this a classic because of the QUALITY not because it’s old or the first anime to do x. I wish people would stop calling boring old animes as classic because it’s old. I wish people would stop saying oh it’s the nostalgia or whatever to dismiss 90s/80s anime (it basically depends on the anime). For me i remember I loved watching a bunch of anime as a child and remember they were fun. But then i watched some of those again years later after I forget all the details and then after re-watching i went what ? that’s it? i realized at that point it’s ONLY really fun for children but not for me now. It’s not a bad thing necessarily. Some pass that test, some don’t. it’s pretty obvious whether it does or not. LET ME TELL you that this anime shines now and then. I would guess that when I was a child I wasn’t drawn to this anime… you know robots + sports screams shounen anime. I probably watched on a whim and then realized the show is actually REALLY good. I feel like there’s no such thing as I hate x genre in anime. I think it means you haven’t a seen a good anime in that genre. That’s another reason why I think it’s special. I hate shonen anime and this one is if you try to categorize it from the nature of the show but it’s so gooooooood. Whenever say ugh this anime went all shonen on me I mean that in the worst way possible lol… ie the end of kurenai. despite that there are “shonen” anime that I do like.
I feel like this anime could only be done via anime and that too adds to the specialness of the anime. If it was 26 eps, it wouldn’t be as good, if it was live action that would be really difficult lol… For nodame cantabile I was thinking how the animation is not that anime and so it’s not as expressive as iron leaguer when it comes to facial expression or any type of expression.. they kept the instrument playing animation to a minimum? for obvious reasons. I was thinking what’s the point of making this into an anime?? I thought the drama was better… I REALLY loved the facial expressions and other stuff they did for expression in iron leaguer so it made me think of this.
I love the message of the show. I love how it doesn’t come off forced or cheesy as it has in other anime shows especially the kids shows (wedding peach…) . i love how even though it’s a kids show it can definitely enjoyed by adults. few children’s shows can also be enjoyed by adults and this is one of them. There’s also mystery and surprises. There’s parts that I LOVE… those scenes where x finds about y’s secret or x learns the truth about y. While i was watching i was so curious as to how the character would react and what they would say and now that i’ve seen it, i want to see it again lol.
random thought while I was watching. I was thinking “hey since ryuuken is the karate leaguer he’s like asian so does he have the smallest eyes?” but his eyes looked big in this scene so eh to that silly theory.
I further confirmed the specialness of the anime when I read the interviews by the producers on the official site and how they had all this inspiration from real baseball players and more and were having fun and working hard to make it (like the animators). Also one of them said that this show is for children but they also want people of other ages to watch… he went on to say that overly making it from a child’s pov isn’t a children’s anime. rather, anime that can be enjoyed by adults and old people and children are true children anime. They had no CG back then 😦 but i wonder if the show would look like shit if they used CG…After i finished watching it i really wanted to read interviews. there’s interviews on the official website but I want more. I was thinking if they had interviews or something in anime magazines in the 90s… like i want to read those tooooo. also I felt like reading other fans thoughts… well the japanese fans.
there’s no romance but there’s bromance. in fact you could watch it from a a dirty yaoi fangirl pov lol. there are scenes or lines that could be interpreted like that. I definitely watched from that point of view from time to time lol. i also watched from a serious pov too. Magnum x windy forever ❤ ! lol. IRON LEAUGER is so much more moe than the anime nowadays that try so hard… AND FAIL. It reminds me of some of the realllly trashy american singers that think they’re “sexy” or they think they have to be trashy or almost naked (naked as possible) to be sexy.. they don’t seem to understand that that’s not necessary. I’ve seen time it and time again on immotral song or even in k-pop that it’s possible to be classy and sexy at the same time. it’s so oversexualized in america.
there’s comedy too. it’s smidge of comedy but when they put it in here and there with the animation or situation or a line that put a smile on my face or made me chuckle. it’s so well done because of the characters/character designs and the whole set-up. there isn’t a lot of comedy, BUT none of the comedy fails. the point of the show isn’t comedy anyway but the comedy in it is 5/5 lol. The just completes the show~
so in that way there’s cuteness and moe ( I moed out sometimes lol). the animes now a days try way too hard to the point where the show is boring as hell unless you’re a creepy otaku or they have NO class or it’s so obvious they’re trying so hard. I really want those otakus to watch this anime. for this show that kind of stuff is effortless and those little moments of moe and cuteness is to die for. I LOVED it when magnum winked lol. nowadays the moe is getting really creepy or boring or way too maniac or plain tasteless or too… much ie borderline softcore porno/hentai/whatever you call it. i feel like the moe here occurred naturally or it came off naturally as a result of all the hard-work they put into show rather than like using moe to cover their asses which is a noticeable trend in anime right now. I like the word bromance more than yaoi and i don’t know what yaoi really means anyways (how far do they go lol). they’re robots anyhooooo. so i feel like the bromance is all innocent and fun and if you want to think all twisted and whatnot draw weird fanart go ahead~
I love the animation. the character designs kick ass. For example, the inning on magnum’s back is so CUTE lol. I gotta pause and stare at everyone’s designs lol. one time they zoomed into their shoes/feet. they were all so unique and cute lolz. no seriously i need to inundate this post with the ADORABLE CHARACTER DEISGNS. some of them are BADASS of course but I can still see the cuteness in the badass designs tooooooooo. that’s another reason why this show is so awesome. It has so much going on for it.
The human character designs are good. i was reading in the interview somebody drew the humans asked the producer or somebody is this alright. whaddya think? so i could tell they were being
particular with it. if you think ruri is ugly or whatever then i guess you can since she’s a normal girl. they show a movie star in one ep and that movie star was really pretty. so i think it’s fine ruri isn’t as pretty as the movi star. i dont’ tihnk ruri ugly though personally. I think the girl designs that are overly moed up are ugly actually if anything… .not to mention not a smidge of originality. it reminds me of south korean plastic surgery epidemic. NOSE, EYES, JAW-LINE, FAT-DISTRIBUTION. wtf
The action/animation was intense and exciting and they definitely planned it out well. The beginning of the series was sorta normal but as things progressed the animation got more intense. I really mean it as intense and exciting. that’s the only way I can describe it. don’t worry it’s not a mediocre sports/shonen (no seriously what is up with the crap people proclaim as epic being the boring shit in the world?) anime. the games are exciting, i was saying they’re screwed every other episode lol. that’s what makes it interesting. plus the episodes where the game should be most exciting really is exciting… you don’t have to worry about quality when it comes to that. It was awesome. I had a blast watching those episodes because there’s moments where I’m like omg what’s gonna happen/omg i can’t believe this happened/omg how’s it gonna end/omg i can’t believe it’s ending like this/ lol. it’s a lot of omg’s like every couple minutes??? I found it fun and enjoyable to watch… and that’s what makes someone want to recommend a certain anime to another person because you want to pass on your enjoyment and hope or think that they’ll enjoy it as well.
I love the facial expressions they did with the robots. it’s so expressive. When I was reading the interview, they had separate people for separate things like a person was in charge of facial expression, another for posing etc etc. so I totally LOVED that when I watched. It’s so well done and i could tell they put effort into minuscule stuff like that even before i read the interview. there’s stuff I notice or feel or whatever while watch and reading the interview just affirms that or explains what I was feeling and love how it goes both ways like that. i really really feel what the creators put in to this … their sweats, tears, soul, love for sports, etc,etc. going back to what i was saying i loved what they did with their eyes. I thought it was interesting how their mouths are pink inside like humans lol. Not to mention SUPER CUTE!!! one aspect of the show that seems sorta contradicting is what makes it so good and special and unique. that is how the robots are metal so they shouldn’t be humanly but actually they’re more human than the humans lol.
I also love how the thicklines add to the menace(?) /intensity/impact
The people who made this anime mentioned in the interview on the official website how they had trouble with consistently drawing the characters and robots the same in terms of their relative heights/size. I think they argued about it and got frustrated lol. I think it’s cute and it’s anime so it’s all GOOD. it adds to the enjoyment in my opinion.. spot the quirks!
I wonder if there’s a main character? Is it Magnum Ace? I mean everything is connected to him. If he’s not, then there’s no main character. Anyways I loved all the characters. They’re ALL likable and have their cute character designs. I loved the way top joy talked with the nes and the intonation. not sure if english speakers can tell that his intonation is a little off because i remember when i was wtaching lovely complex with zero japanese studying i couldn’t really hear a significant difference from the way these characters talked vs characters in any other anime but if i were to watch it now i would be like oh it’s so kansai-ben lol. Anyways I loved SEAGULL… the voice acting, the way they drew him, the angle, the pose, etc, and his story or whatever scene with him had me glued me to the screen. THEY utilized the side characters really well.
I loved all the voice acting. everyone fitted the character. MAGNUM’s voice is PERFECTTTTTTTT. I liked all the voice actor’s voices… like i gotta look up what other anime they’re in. I loved the recycling of the Voice actors too lol. like the voice actor of someone on silver castle ends up voicing the baddie’s ___ voice. it’s interesting. actually out of the gold brothers i liked gold mask the best because of his voice… but i like all of ’em so much! sometimes i wanted to know the voice actor of some really minor person in the episode but then when i chcked out the credits they credit main and minor but they don’t include e single character that was in the episode. so i asked on chiebukuro who did mihaeru’s voice because i loved her voice and they were like…well one person replied that it was this voice actor who plays another characteron iron leaguer… so maybe that’s why they don’t credit a character because they recycle the voice actors and we’re supposed to know which one did that minor character (sometimes the va is reall ygood at changing their voices to play different characters so it’s sorta hard. do they still do this practice now a days ? lol.
and of course i LOVEd THE BGM. when i saw them use the bgm in the first ep I was scared they might overuse it but they didn’t overuse it at all imo… and i watched eps in a row etc etc… you know how some tv dramas have something special going on for it especially the bgm like hanazakari no kimtiachi e or JIN or this… you can tell they’re putting their all into it the shows.
So I didn’t watch the previews till after i saw the episode because I want to be as surprised as much as possible. But after certain episodes I was thinking even if i watched the preview i couldn’t have predicted this lol. there’s some good surprises
The opening is awesome. it totally matches the show. It’s definitely good enough to be used throughout the whole run. as you watch the show you realize how amazing the opening song is. I was wondering for the part where they sing IRON LEAGUER with japanese pronounciation of aian riiiiiiiii gaaaaaaaaaa….it sounds like they’re saying eiennnnn leaguer. it doe snot sound like aiannnnnn riiiiiiii gaaaaaaaaaa like it should. in the show they say iron leaguer a lot and they aian riii gaaa. maybe they’re doing that on purpose cause you know eien means forever,eternal. I never reallllllly got why he’s saying it like eiennnnnn riiiiii gaaa.
the ending song is really goood, i love the message. i love hearing the seiyuu’s of characters sing the song. here it is ruri’s seiyuu.
the second ending song is silly lol. the lyrics are simple and fitting. i was gonna watch it once then i realized that they’re changing the lyrics up for the song. it’s so funny hearing magnum ace sing such a silly song.
they changed the animation for the op and let me say that the second opening is rather intense. in fact i couldn’t even tell wtf was going on at some parts because of the credits so i definitely gotta go check out the creditles version. yes they deserve their credit but we can’t see the animator’s work… thank god for creditless opening.
If I HAD to bring up the weakness it would be this certain arc … one reason is because after it was right after a couple REALLY REALLY interesting/INTENSE/EXCITING eps (it literally makes me go omg who knew sports anime could get this good……. ) . the eps were sorta filler-type but then they technically aren’t… and the way that arc ended was kickass AMAZING so that’s why i wrote if i HAD To bring up a ~~ but I still liked that arc as a whole. in this arc there’s eps that are better than others. another thing is towards the end, you’ve seen all the tricks they pull and whatever so it’s not as fresh as in the beginning… but you know the last game was exciting so.. no complaints. I never felt like the games were ever stretched out… perfect ratio of action/dialogue/announcer”s dialogue/talking to self time/robots communicating to each other via telepathy or technology or whatever.. stuff became more big and intense as it went on… i guess that’s the shonen factor but i LOVED IT. like i said before i hate shonen anime b.c. i instinctively hate shonen anime because i ain’t a shonen. but if it’s a really well-done shonen like this I’m all for it, i feel it.
but you know something i wished happened was there was more character development in the last 10-15 episodes as in OTHER characters but then i’m not sure if that would’ve taken away from the character they were developing during those episodes. But you know what i also wish they developed the character they were developing during those eps more like his _____s (I’m not gonna fill that in, those who watched know what comes before the s, hint PLURAL). they gave us something but i wish it was more. that’s selfish request that will never come true lolz.
a fine 52-episode anime that is WELL-DONE.!!! it makes me lament the animes now-a-days that are 13-eps and are suckfest from beginning to end or it could’ve been better if it was longer or try to “move” the audience even though they didn’t develop the characters etc etc. but i loved zetsubou sensei and i think 13 eps was fine for that since the second season was not as interesting and the third season was unwatchable. it all depends on the show and how well done it is etc etc etc.
so it’s completely subbed for chinese and korean (thank god for these lol). it’s done partially for english. This anime has HEART… It’s very HEART-WARMING.
oh and the ova is not good. i don’t know it has holes… i don’t understand the point of it.are ovas that are released after the tv series always bad…??
I was so sad when i finished watching the series. the ending is good and satisfying but i’m sad that’ it’s over. no i donn’t want to it to go on endlessly like naruto. that would make the show turn into 1/10… I sorta confirmed this with the OVA. The only thing positive about the ova I can say is they came up with some interesting robots with the designs (creative stuff… ) and animation of course. I think that’s how one feels after being absorbed and watching something really fun and significant. plus i can’t un-watch this. I gotta wait many years before rewatching lol…. i already know the story and surprises etc but like I said I LOVED some of those scenes. I don’t understand what’s the point of OVAs. i was thinking of the word masturbation with OVAs… because the only people who are going to watch it are FANS not people who you are trying to hoook on the show like with anime tv series. so the people making it know you want to see it or buy it and they know that you loved the series. so they probably can tell what you loved about the series and try to include it in the OVA but it’s not the same thing because that stuff was happening in the series while it was going on (in that atmosphere that was built from past eps and whatnot), while now in the OVA it’s happening after the series “concluded” so… it’s like… novelty effect is worn off and it’s NOT the same thing. as much as i love the characters and the world the anime is set in, I enjoyd it in the ANIME series and i’ll re-live it by re-watching the episodes instead of some weird OVA that’s trying to recreate that??? I want to enjoy the real deal 100% iron leaguer world, not some half-bajed iron leaguer world. but the thing is if the series is really good, usually a good story is told and the ends are tied. so if you gotta something afterwards, you gotta create some friction, and problems or introduce something new etc. otherwise it’s a filler episode of the series ?? so basically the OVA has the potential to destroy what the tv series has done because of what an ova is… something that concluded beautifully gets unconcluded with whatever new thing they come up with. but anyways i loved the series and i dont’ want to talk shit about the iron leaguer ovas. i’m saying, i loved the SERIES but i didn’t like the ovas. I was thinking after i watched the series or the OVAs of stuff I want to know more about with characters and whatnot… so I was thinking maybe the OVA could’ve been better if they told us about the details that fans want to know about the iron leaguers and the story. BUT THEN I READ that there’s some LD (what is that?) that was released and how they wrote the robot’s biography or something on it for all 7 main robots.
The story it takes place in a future where all the sports are played by a team of robots. in this context there is the Silver Castle the worst team in the soccer league, but the fate of the team changes drastically when Magnum Ace, a misterious leaguer, join the team and recruites other strong leaguers to battle Dark Prince, the strongest team in the series.
The story sounds simple and cliché, the pace of the series is very unstable and one of the critics that i have is that 52 episodes is a lot for a simple plot. Aside this the plot have some of misteries that is revealed at bits, the story is divided in 3 arcs the inicial arc that introduces the world the teams and the characters, the second is the stray league arc that goes on another story that it gives the show a nice breath of fresh air and the third arc the world cup tournament.
Its the typical 90’s artstyle and for me its was good but it isn’t anything groundbreaking. Some episodes is really good and others is fine at is best, in general there’s consistency.
The sound is mediocre at is best, there just 2 or 3 song that i can say that i like aside from the opening, the rest is very forgetful.
First the VA/Seiyuus the cast is really good, famous names and voices that are remarkable. saying that most of the characters have their own personality specially the main characters but there are a little to none development, this the classic what you see is what you get. All that aside every characters have their moments and their time to shine with all of then being likeable.
I can say that i enjoy this anime, mostly because i feel attracted to this 80’s/90’s obscure animes. But i can pointed that this is a decent and well built show and if you want to watch a light, simple and fun anime this a excellent choice.
Iron Leaguer is definitely not going to be a show for everyone. You have to be very open-minded to old-school animes. You have to be patient because some episodes don’t advance much to the plot. The theme can represent what the 90’s was for the anime industry (a decade very experimental for anime plots). It may get a bit repetitive and be far from perfect, but the solid characters and a fun and easygoing feeling can turn this show a very fun and pleasant gem.
This is my first review in the MAL so i expected to make a decent job.
It’s probably fair to say that at no point in its life was this show a chart-topper. From its.. interesting robot designs and continually subpar animation to its repetitive and often limited soundtrack and aggressively corny plot beats, Iron Leaguer is clearly not the cream the of the crop. It never received an English release, so the vast majority of its English-speaking viewers have been given the opportunity to see it thanks to the efforts of fansubbers Alpha Numbers and Silver Castle. I think it’s pretty telling, then, that most reviews here from those that have watched the whole show have given it a better score than those elements perhaps deserve.
On a surface level, this is a weird combination of a half-assed sports anime that’s more about sportsmanship than actually playing sport, and a sentient mecha show that dips into the ethics of robotics. Kinda. If you like the talking, feeling kind of robots, this is going to be very up your alley.
The run-of-the-mill sports championship content of this show is underpinned by a deeper, weirdly darker narrative about old robots being retired and used for war. Perhaps inadvertently, this intrigue is coupled with a surprisingly effective framing of our enigmatic protagonist Magnum Ace that starts suspenseful, turns into something deeply interesting, and is concluded with an arc that breaks open the consequences of that mystery and interrogates his character, using him as a metaphor for the moral basis of the show. Iron Leaguer is not well written on a moment-to-moment basis, but over its 52-episode run this throughline is bewilderingly well-executed.
The rest of the main cast, for the most part, spend their focus episodes being interesting and endearing and then fade into the background as soon as they’re over. The plots often alternate between being cheesy and outright ridiculous, and so much of this show is unintentionally funny that it makes an amazing drinking game.
The show sucks. But it has a driving plot that works, enough interesting characters at any given time to support it, and most of all – elevating it above other lackluster old animes, imo – it has heart. Give it a chance and if it’s for you, you’ll see what I mean.
15: Kenran Butou Sai: The Mars Daybreak
English: Mars Daybreak
Japanese: 絢爛舞踏祭ザ マーズ デイブレイク
MAL Score: 7.17
Mars is now almost entirely covered in water. Humanity exists in large city-ships that float through the open seas. But life is hard for those who live on Mars—the economy is in bad shape, work is scarce, and food is expensive and highly prized. Gram and his friends try to do the best they can, but the work keeps drying up. Some have taken to a life of piracy to combat the corruption in the government; one such group is the pirates of the feared Ship of Aurora. And the Earth government, which rules Mars, has dispatched a new team of military pilots to combat them. In their specialized mecha called Round Bucklers, they must make the seas of Mars safe for humanity. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Gram finds himself on the run with the most notorious pirates on Mars. But here’s the thing—he’s starting to like them!
(Source: Bandai Entertainment)
I really enjoyed this anime. Though the overall story wasn’t original it did bring a few new ideas. For example, Mars covered in water, and the design of the Mecha used in the anime. The story also did a great job mixing the elements of drama, action, romance, and a little comedy. The characters were also great, Gram River, Chrysalis Milch, Enora Taft and all the rest. They brought the anime to life. The animation was done by BONES. I was disappointed with them, after all their the ones who did RahXephon, Wolf’s Rain, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Eureka Seven. Though it was still good, it just didn’t live up to their standards. Another small problem I had was the music, which lacked emotion to add to the series.
Overall a very good anime, that’s worth checking out.
The genres include: Adventure, Action, Comedy, Drama, Romance.
Pretty interesting. Mars is covered by water, and the economy is really lousy. Gram tries his best to live a good life, but everything changes for him when he is accidentally brought onto the pirate ship "Aurora", and being a pirate on "Aurora" becomes his new profession. The story follows this merry group of pirates on their travels, as they reveal secrets that could change Mars forever, and a team sent from Earth to catch the pirates. It starts of very nice and entertaining, but as the series progresses, the plot gets weaker, and starts to rely on filler-ish episodes, abandoning the initial story.
Seeing as this was made by Bones (also did Fullmetal Alchemist and Darker than Black), i was expecting awesome animation. I was disappointed. The character designs are bland and the animation looks awkward sometimes.
Decent. Most of the voice actors were pretty bad, actually (the only really good one being Tomokazu Seki), the BGM was nothing special and the OP/ED were so-so.
Best thing about this series. The characters are great: there’s the over-the-top Captain, the nonchalant "pilot ace", the little brat, a talking cat, a childhood friend. The cliché stuff(pretty much the greatest cliché characters since I watched Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann). Oh wait, there’s also a talking dolphin in a weird suit(yeah, you guessed it, he can talk). The two characters that stand out (apart from the talking dolphin) are Gram, your shounen hero, cool to the max, making the ladies fall for him(really enjoyed him though) and Enora, the spoiled girl that tags along the ragtag pirate crew.
As I said earlier, Mars Daybreak starts off greatly. It’s fun, exiting and interesting. You actually get mecha-fighting under water. It’s awesome. You want more. Then it goes all Eureka Seven on you, and apart from E7’s emo awesomeness, Mars Daybreak fails miserably when it comes to the drama, just making it pathetic. I talked about the transition to fillers earlier, and after these so called fillers end, the story just spirals towards it’s doom, becoming predictable, boring, and even screwing up the comedy.
Not a series i would really recommend, but those who liked Eureka Seven might like this, seing as it’s like E7, except underwater, with a lighter take on life than it’s rawer cousin.
The lack of depth also rings true for many elements of the show’s storyline and the title’s world-building. The series seemed to be dropping hints that Gram might have a past connection to the earliest humans who colonized Mars in the first half of the show, yet this builds up to nothing. There are hostilities between Mars and Earth for the latter’s occupancy and influence being felt on Mars and contributing to large amounts of poverty and crime to occur, yet this is mostly a backdrop to the adventures of Gram and the Ship of Aurora. No explanation is given as to why all of Mars is covered in water. Ester makes mention of being part of a race of beings called the Nautical Witches, yet the show never bothers telling us what they are. Nothing is revealed over how an RB is able to come under Gram’s control. I could go on and on pointing out the lack of depth and explanation that Mars Daybreak has for many elements to its plot and world.
I suppose the best way you could enjoy this series is if you don’t ask questions and just enjoy the comedy and adventure. But many comedic moments in Mars Daybreak fell flat for me and the adventure element has its setbacks thanks to the character-focused episodes feeling like padding that add nothing to the show since we don’t learn much about the characters anyway and even then, most of the developments of the adventure are cliched and quite predictable if you’ve seen enough titles like this. You know that the Ship of Aurora crew will prevail in many of their missions unless the plot demands for a twist in developments, which occur in the final episodes of the show. Even then, said twist is very predictable considering you could see it coming from a mile away since the Ship of Aurora crew knew how fishy things were with this development. It’s not that I find this series to be bad at all. It’s just there’s nothing unique in it that sticks out for me compared to similar offerings I’ve seen in the past.
Overall, this series may be worth a look if you’re showing it to a younger audience (since the show was made for young boys in Japan) or if this is one of your first anime titles you are checking out. But otherwise, Mars Daybreak doesn’t really offer anything for more seasoned anime fans unless you can look past the depth issues and lack of unique elements.
14: Juu Ou Sei
English: Jyu-Oh-Sei: Planet of the Beast King
MAL Score: 7.24
After the murder of their parents, 11-year-old twin brothers Thor and Rai Klein are sent away from their home planet. They find themselves awakening on the terraformed planet of Chimaera, where carnivorous plants dominate and the few humans who live there are divided into four groups known as “Rings.” Soon after, they meet a young man by the name of Zagi, and the twins learn that only the “Jyu Oh Sei”—the one who conquers these four Rings—is allowed to leave the planet.
Driven by the desire to return home and discover the truth behind the death of his parents, Thor resolves to survive in the harsh, merciless environment of Chimaera. However, he quickly learns there is more than meets the eye in this strange ecosystem. As Thor is swept up in the politics that entangle the Rings, he uncovers more about his parents’ murder, and ultimately, humanity’s fate as a whole.
Jyu Oh Sei dispels the myth that a series has to be long in order to be good. It’s only 11 episodes but the plot moves very fast and a lot of stuff happens at a good pace.
The story starts off with two twin brothers barely into their teens abandoned on a prison planet after their parents are killed. It begins as a "survival tale" with Thor, the elder brother, being the protagonist, and swiftly transitions into a nature documentary, action movie, drama and finally space opera. Secondary themes like genetics, social order, politics, relationships and existentialism are explored. You won’t be bored.
Real. Fascinating. Relateable. Even Machiavellian. Everyone has an agenda. Nobody is stupid. A few wear their hearts on their sleeves but they’re all well fleshed out. Even those with relatively little screen time are important to the story. There aren’t really any unnecessary characters. Even the plants in this show are their own characters.
Art/Animation and sound
The animation is not as crisp in some places but overall quite good. When they say the main charater looks good, it’s because he really does look good. The characters age and again this is very well done. Backgrounds are very detailed and realistic. Both the Opening and Ending themes fit the anime and were good songs in their own right. Sound effects were pretty good too. Overall very good.
Extremely enjoyable. When it ended I wanted more. This could easily have been 24 or even 52 episodes.
Completely underrated but very good, very watchable anime. It’s hard to find though. Please PM me if you want it, I will figure out how to make a torrent for this if only to share this with other users.
On a colony planet far from Earth, two brothers stumble upon their murdered parents and are knocked out by gas. They wake up on a planet loaned from whoever built the sets for King Kong and Little Shop Of Horrors. That’s right; the jungle tries to kill you every five minutes!
Who killed their parents? Why were they sent to a cruel planet populated by miscreants in tribes who battle each other for supremacy? How can you get off a planet that’s controlled in a dastardly manner that the agents of the Matrix would approve? More importantly, is this damn genre-juggling show worth a watch?
Yes it is, and the reveal which propels the story into a completely different direction is excellent. What we get up to that is decent animation, pretty engaging world design and plotlines that sci-fi fans will dig, and that sense of epicness which comes along with a tale that follows a character over a period of years.
With Jyu Oh Sei there’s this feeling that you’re watching something different from the norm, even though nothing about this production is pioneering in any way at all. I think this refreshing feeling has to do with the fact that the source of the story is from a short manga rather than one that went on endlessly, and that the production crew did a good job delivering it to the small screen. Maybe that in itself is rare these days? The bad guys in this show don’t even have tiny irises! Kudos.
There are miscellaneous flaws as mentioned above, like a love triangle that feels tacked on (aren’t they all?), generic narrative clichés that you’ve seen a million times before and wish you’d never see again, but they’re just little bumps in the road, nothing to dampen the parade. The core concept driving this show, that of the consequences of living in a dog-eat-dog world, fighting to survive for a tangible reason, and the relationship between you and your less-than-spectacular twin brother, are however compelling enough to make you forgive any clichéd moments that pop up.
Jyu Oh Sei breezes along thanks to its 11 episode length; because it’s a successful adaptation and not the insipid tailor-made trash of a TV writer. The soundtrack from the superb-as-always Hajime Mizoguchi is the final dressing on this dessert and stays with you long after you witness the last episode.
The foundation of the plot is a big ‘ole mess of second rate science fiction concepts, including The Plant Planet, The Prison Planet, The War Between the Sexes, and others that it would be spoilerish of me to reveal. Seriously, this story kept reminding me of the Golden Age SciFi I’ve read. The difference is, those stories (well, the good ones anyways) fully explored their concepts and were able make interesting situations out of them. And perhaps the Jyu-Oh-Sei manga manages to do this, but here none of the concepts are really given enough time to become interesting.
The setting and ideas have it easy, though. The characters are the ones who really suffer, as the creators push them through rushed plot twist after rushed plot twist. Perhaps the worst example comes in the first episode, when Thor whiplashes from protecting his brother, to trying to kill him, to protecting him again, in just a few minutes. What was supposed to be a brutal moral conundrum just comes off as silly (It doesn’t help that his brother dies anyways in the same episode, essentially invalidating the whole moral struggle).
And this show is talky. Very talky. There just isn’t time for the characters to exhibit their traits through their actions, so everything has to be explained. This leads to some pretty significant disparities between how character talk, and their actions on the screen.
No, this is not a character-driven anime. Rather, the plot is in control, cracking its whip and forcing the characters through one unnatural contortion after another.
Still, despite all this, it manages to maintain a modicum of interest – up until Ninja Chick is introduced, in a forced attempt at a love triangle. Their is no chemistry to the relationship, however, and it only serves to dry up whatever enthusiasm the viewer has for the finale. The bizarre death of a major character at the end didn’t even provoke more than a puzzled ‘huh?’ from me.
Visually, the show is a mixed bag. The character designs and animation are pretty good, but they take place in incredibly uninspired locales. Big empty spaceships, big empty castles, big empty tundras, big empty valleys – there’s just not much stuff on the planet of the Beast King, apparently.
Another complaint is the misogyny present. Despite the fact that the original work was written by a woman, the story is far from feminist. Oh sure, on the surface stuff like “Women have the absolute right to choose their mates!” sounds all pro-Grrl, but the truth is that all our supposedly strong female characters are completely dependent on men by the end of the show (or dead).
For all the vitriol, Jyu-Oh-Sei has redeeming qualities (it looks alright, the plot starts out somewhat intersting, etc), and people do like it. Nonetheless, this is simply not a very good show, and I recommend skipping it. Certainly don’t blind buy it unless it’s very cheap and you have a high tolerance for schlock.
13: Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer
English: Battle Doll Angelic Layer
MAL Score: 7.26
12-year-old Misaki Suzuhara has just gotten involved in Angelic Layer, a battling game using electronic dolls called angels. Even as a newbie, Misaki shows advanced skills as she meets new friends and enters Angelic Layer tournaments to fight the greatest Angelic Layer champions of the nation.
We follow little Mizaki, a little girl wanting to see her mother after years and years of being away from her. Upon arriving in the city where her aunt lives, she sees a jumbo vision screen that has two little battle dolls (known as Angles) fighting one on one. She is intrigued by them and decides to try it out for herself, unknown to Mizaki her mom is actually much closer than she thinks. This is the base of the storyline, along the way she meets new friends and rivals alike. To her; Angelic Layer is nothing more than a fun activity she likes to play as a sort of hobby, she soon becomes more involved with it and eventually signs on to a tournament…where her mother is the grand champion. It does good with keeping the tension between her and her mother actually meeting one day, as many episodes have them barely missing each other. The story starts off well with introducing each main and supporting cast roll, and there are quite a few of them. However, during the half way point you may start to notice a filler or two happening ever so often, or battles that seem kind of pointless to the base of the story. Speaking of battles, this is another negative about the series, in that Mizaki is one of those main lead characters that rarely ever loses, which might ruin the anticipation of each battle for some viewers. To its credit though they do end on some nifty cliffhangers every now and then, and do a pretty decent job of making the battles exciting for the viewer. Oh and the ending is just awesome, it concludes very well and doesn’t leave you with any sort of questions. So you need not worry about investing your time in a 26 episode long series, only to have it disappoint in the end, because it doesn’t! Its a good story as a whole, but does lack somewhat being that the only real goal in mind is Misaki meeting her mother.
Angelic Layer shouldn’t contain anything that viewers would find offensive, there are little romance scenes going on, but they are never shown or implied as dirty…since these kids are pretty young.
If you’re familiar with a company known as “Studio Bones” then you’ll notice right away that Angelic Layer is very appealing to look at, even considering the fact that this anime isn’t the newest out there. With very colorful setting and character models. However, the characters themselves (with the exception of Misaki) look pretty standard and generic, I was never really able to find one that stuck out for me. The fighting scenes are cool though, they move swiftly and have nice balance of unique fighting moves and martial arts. Along with some containing actual power style techniques. Almost makes me wish they would bring over a fighting game of this series, heck I would buy it!
The closing themes change twice during the whole series, which helps give good variety to the show. They are pretty darn catchy, as is the opening theme song “Be My Angel.” Character voices were also spot on! I listened to it in both English and Japanese. I felt they were just about equal, but I would give a slight tip of the hat to the Japanese version, as it seemed to match a wee bit better! Regarding the background music, you only really get one memorable soundtrack, it plays this sort or arena style action theme, it fits well with the fighting and builds up the anticipation of each match.
They are varied in their personalities, and you get a pretty good variety of them because of this series’ larger style cast line up. Though I feel that I should mention that the major bulk of the cast are indeed females. Even so they seemed to lack a real sort of depth to them, there aren’t really many episodes where we get a true understanding about the supporting cast or rivalries, usually it will include only a brief flash back or passing mention. But I must say they do interact well with one another, and you get a fair amount of character chemistry too. I would also point out that this title is quite good with its whole “friendship” feature.
Bottom Line: 7/10
If I were a big fan of these “one on one” battle style anime, then I probably would have given it a bit higher of a score. Still, it kept me entertained! If you can make it through some of the filler style episodes, and don’t mind the story dragging on some what, then you will like Angelic Layer!
Genre: Action, Comedy, Shojo-ish
Plot Summary: Suzuhara Misaki moves to Tokyo city in order to attend school and for a hope that she will see her mother, who left 7 years previous to work in Tokyo. After exiting the station, she sees on a big screen two people fighting. However, these are not people – rather they are Angels, which are dolls controlled by a Deus. These dolls are custom made, and they fight in Angelic Layer, which is the name of the sport. She is told all this by the scientist Icchan, who walked up to her and started telling her this stuff. Ignoring the possibibility that he might be a lolicon [AKA, pedophile][He isn’t], she followed him into the Anglelic Layer store, where he went and showed her what to buy to create her own angel. After creating her own Angel, who she called Hikaru [which means Light], and making friends, Kotaro and Tamayo, she enters tournaments and goes on to become the Kiseki no Rookie [Miracle Rookie].
Analysis [Contains Spoilers]
Its a decent enough anime. Its done by CLAMP, which makes some good anime/manga, but I do have some problems with it. Early on in the series, Kotaro developes a crush on Misaki, which is teased upon by Tamayo. However, later on in the series, Tamayo admits that she’s had a crush on Kotaro for a long time. If thats the case, why did she even push him onto Misaki to start with? The other thing I can’t get around is the fact that she is the Kiseki no Rookie. She starts playing, and then she never looses. She only lost once, and that was too Kotaro’s little genius sister, Hatoko. She beat every opponent after that, continuously gaining in strength, without really appearing to. Additionally, the Champion, Shuko, who is her mom, lost to her. When she hadn’t lost to 77 or so other players. Finally, there is the matter with her mom. Her mom, quite frankly, is a wuss. A gigantic one. She’s afraid to see Misaki, because she’s afraid of what Misaki will think of her. She doesn’t want Misaki to see her in a wheelchair. However, by postponing it, isn’t she just making it worse?
End of Spoilers
Analysis [No Spoilers]: Some of the fights are cool. I think that the plot is a bit iffy, but its a 26 episode show expanded from a 25 or so chapter manga. There really isn’t much you can do with it. I think that the comedic moments are great, but sometimes it just pushes it. Some of the fights are good, some are bad. It seems like in order to make a new plot point in the fight, they introduce something, that they can miraculously explain away in all of the previous fights. While sometimes, it works, but other times … I just can’t buy it. Theres only so much you can ignore.
Additionally, when you ‘launch’ angels onto the layer, you say an opening shpeal. Which is kinda lame. And I really dont see how Hikaru can fall like the way that she does in that.
There isn’t really much to the anime except for the tournament. The first 4 or so episodes deal with her starting, and then there is the tournament. The rest of the plot then deals with the tournament. The unimportant matches get an entire episode, and some of the ‘big’ matches, you never see the character again. If you do, its very very minor.
This is a cute anime, and ok for a laugh. Some of the fights are good, while others are meh. Watch it if you want.
review taken from animeruwelz, check my profile for details
Even though I enjoy watching Kodomo tournament anime, I don’t find them to be all that great in actually. Yes, there were a few kid tournaments that were actually good such as Gundam Build Fighters, Cardfight Vanguard Season 1 and Future Card Buddyfight Season 1 many of the kids tournament anime seemed to be meh at best by comparison especially when theses that three shows that I enjoy actually have more things going on outside its tournament nature in terms of story and charterers.
As a fan of the sub genre self I decided to check out other kid tournament anime and the first anime that appeared other than the pretty good Danball Senki series which am currently watching from time of the review is Angelic Layer a 26 episode tournament series done by Studio Bones as featuring the art-style from Clamp. I went into this show with pretty high exceptions as I expected this show to be a engaging tournament show that had a good sci-fi tournament setting and fun and likeable characters.
Unfortunately I didn’t get any of that as show quickly devolves into a generic tournament anime that was filled with cliche characters and cheesy predictable writing that was too much for my tastes. Angelic Layer isn’t a bad series, but I don’t think it’s all that great. It’s a decent anime that is very enjoyable for children as well newer anime fans. However, if you like me who had lots of Kodomo tournament anime in the past, you will begin to see that Angelic Layer has a lot of small cracks which become larger as you progress the series to a point where the series starts falling apart in the end.
Also get use of hearing the word predictable throughout this review.
The story follows sixth grader Misaki Suzuhara who has just moved to Tokyo to live with her aunt. When she arrived in Tokyo, she sees two battle between two dolls on a big live-screen called Angelic Layer which is a highly popular game in which players (called Deus) buy and custom-design dolls known as Angels that are moved by mental control when on a field called the “layer.”She soon meets a guy with a lab coat named himself Icchan where he encourages Misaki to purchase and create her own angel. She ended up getting an angel that resembles the protagonist from Magic Knight Rayneth, and she calls it Hikaru. Despite being a clueless of the game in first glance she competes in tournaments and is assisted and watched carefully by Icchan and from there Misaki life as a competitive Angelic Layer player where she has to defeat other players to become the best like no one ever was.
The story on paper was interesting and entertaining however it actual execution the story is boring and predictable. Am not joking when I say this but Angelic Layer is one of the most predictable stories I have ever seen and it’s not for a good reason which falls into the shows cheesy writing which I will talk about in a bit. My problems in Angelic Layer begin with the overall pacing as the series is overall pretty inconsistent as it can go either way too fast or way too slow. It was okay in the first few episodes but it really got out of hand as the series went on as many of the fights seemed to either drag out just to fill the 20 minute mark or fights that are too short where they lasted 2 to 5 minutes. I will admit there were a couple of fights that solidly paced overall but the most part the pacing could have been a lot better.
The pacing seemed to plays along with the shows cheesy writing.
The writing in Angelic Layer is such that many of the dialogue and conflicts are cheesy for the sake of being cheesy. There’s not much self-awareness as the series seemed to ride on the cheese train. It’s gets even worst when the writing goes into full angst mode One of the example of this happens with one match of the tournament where Misaki is fighting a girl who complains about being too tall. Uhhhh what?
On top of the inconsistent pacing and cheesy writing comes in the series of plot holes that ruined the story even more. I won’t mention them here but can easily notice them as you watch the series itself.
The worst thing about Angelic Layer is that is ultimately predictable, but it’s not of a good reason. Personally, I don’t mind predictable shows as long as they good characters that make it up unfortunately with the expectation of two characters which I mention in a bit the characters in Angelic Layer weren’t not all that good. The battles in the Angelic Layer have predetermined meaning thanks to the power of-plot armour that Misaki has she cannot lose an Angel fight. She may lost once an Angel fight in the beginning but after that, she becomes an unstoppable god.
As for the love triangle itself like with the tournament, it’s very predictable and not well executed even though it had potential to be good.
Overall the story of Angelic Layer was underwhelming. It had potential to be fun and interesting, but the predictable and cheesy writing ended up destroying all the shows potential of being a solid kid tournament anime.
The characters, for the most part, aren’t much better as they okay at best and at worst wasted potential. They are not necessarily bad characters it’s just the writing at the various points ruined many of the characters in Angelic Layer.
First up we have Misaki. Out of all the characters in Angelic Layer, she’s easily the worst of the bunch. She’s is a self-insert Mary sue who is simply perfect at everything. She doesn’t much of a personality other that she is kind and clumsy and most of her dialogue was plain boring to listen. She slightly gets better in the final episodes but by then it’s being its way too as she comes off as a bland and unlikable Mary Sue.
Icchi Chan is a pretty cool character While he doesn’t have much depth, his still, a pretty entertaining character who has a lot a charm though at times he does go completely off-rails for my liking at times.
Next, we have Hatoko.
Man what a wasted potential Hatoko was. She was a badass character in the first half but as the series progress, she loses her badassery to a point where she became nothing but cheer-leading fodder for Misaki. It’s such a shame really.
Now we get to my favourite character in Angelic Layer Tamayo.
I really liked Tamayo I really enjoyed of what she did for her character. Despite being a cheerleader for Misaki she was filled with passion and joy. I really enjoyed her tomboyish characters towards the cast especially towards Kotoro and Misaki. Honesty she should have been a main protagonist rather than Misaki because she’s not only interesting character that is filled with charisma but she was only character in Angelic Layer that wasn’t a bore to watch. Thank god!!!
Now we have Kotaro and not gonna lie he’s is boring.
He’s just an incredibly bland character who simply allows Tamayo to do all her karate moves on him like a punching bag. He doesn’t even attempt to counter Tamayo moves and his dialogue was boring as hell.
Finally, we have Ohijro or like who are you again? Apart from being a love interest for our Mary Sue lead as well being a step brother for Icchan he’s was a forgetful character who didn’t do much to the overall plot.
The rest of the characters are very forgetful as they all come and go for plot reasons and they barely leave an impact on the overall plot.
The visuals in Angelic Layer are a mixed bag. On the one hand the series well polished that contains great lighting and cinema-photography while at other times the series can look pretty messy and inconsistent to a point where some of the scenes in Angelic Layer look pretty ugly. The characters designs despite being done by CLAMP were average and not all that appealing to act for the most part. The background scenery is okay as it uses a series of basic sci-fi and urban colour palette for the environments.
The animation itself was fine. While the Angel fights were nicely animated the human characters have somewhat limited animation. While it’s wasn’t bad it just didn’t do much especially when the series likes to use stock footage and animation shortcuts.
If there was one word to describe the soundtrack of Angelic Layer, it would be forgettable. Apart from three to two tracks, I can’t remember the tracks in Angelic Layer.
The opening theme “Be My Angel” by Enomoto Atsuko is a decent opening theme that is upbeat and catchy.
The ending themes, on the other hand, were pretty forgetful and dull.
Now for sub vs dub.
I only saw the first four episodes of Angelic Layer subbed and I thought it was pretty good. Not great but not too dull.
The dub on other hand is pretty weak. Apart from Monical Raial as Tamoyo, the dub, in general, is pretty bad that it’s filled with lacklustre to downright awful performances left and right. Stick with the sub for this one.
I have mixed feelings towards Angelic Layer. On one hand, the premise and setup were very intriguing despite being weakly executed. I liked characters like Icchan and Tamayo as they were a joy to watch and I thought the some of the battles despite being very predictable were fun to watch. Unfortunately, Angelic Layer had a lot of problems that actually hurt it. The soundtrack minus the opening and ending themes were very forgetful and repetitive. Most of the characters apart from the ones that I just mentioned ranged from dull, mediocre, wasted potential to downright awful and the tournament ultimately ended up being tedious thanks to its massive plot armour and predictability.
Your honestly better off watching Gundam Build Fighters as it’s much better version of Angelic Layer that has a better character cast and a more intriguing tournament arc.
Overall I enjoyed Angelic Layer, but I don’t think it’s a good show. It’s a semi-decent series that’s it’s great for people who are under the age of 12 but completely falls for anyone who is over the age of 12.
Final Score 6/10
12: Kurau Phantom Memory
Japanese: クラウ ファントムメモリー
MAL Score: 7.34
It is the year 2100, and on the colonized Moon, a project is under way to explore new aspects of energy. Amami Kurau is the daughter of the chief scientist on the project, and on her 12th birthday, she accompanies her father to the lab to observe the experiments. Then something goes awry, and Kurau is struck by twin bolts of light. In the aftermath, her father is dismayed to find that his daughter is no longer his daughter. Rather, her body is now home to two energy entities with fantastic powers.
The premise: In the far future when mankind has advanced technologically to colonize the moon, two girls are hunted by the authorities for their mysterious supernatural powers.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why this series doesn’t get enough attention; it’s so easy to dismiss KURAU Phantom Memory as just another generic sci-fi/action title. Of course, there are several familiar elements such as mecha, power plant disasters, conspiracy theories, beings from another world, and rogue subjects from questionable scientific experiments, but the lack of any elaborate explanations only goes to show that most of these technical details are mere plot devices. At its core, KURAU Phantom Memory is a drama about personal relationships.
Although many other anime titles have had similar themes in the past, KURAU makes no grand proclamations about ideals (ex. Love! Friendship! Hope! Etc.) and neither does it delve into any of these topics through abstract and verbose mono/dialogues. Instead, the viewers are simply shown the various relationships between the characters: those of colleagues, friends, couples, siblings, as well as parent and child. As if to stress the point that no man is an island, the story even introduces a new kind of bond: that of a Rynax and its pair. The connection between the two beings can be described as a binary existence characterized by intense (yet apparently asexual) longing and inability to live (literally and figuratively) without its pair. As the characters are separated by distance and, for some, by death, the series reveals the emptiness of solitary life and the joy of being with loved ones.
Just as important as the content itself is how the story is executed and in this, the creators of KURAU did a splendid job. Despite all the drama, none of the emotions seem exaggerated; quite a feat considering the number of characters (full-grown men included) who shed their tears throughout the series. Even if you’re sick of watching sad girls in the snow, this show gives you nothing to worry about since everything flows naturally. The pacing is also pretty even since there’s hardly any filler material and it doesn’t slow down to give long lectures about technical details or the philosophies of the characters. As the words “Phantom Memory” suggest, quite a number of flashbacks are shown but none of these drag on for too long and they’re always relevant to the development of the story.
The show isn’t lacking either in terms of audio and visuals. The character designs are unusually realistic and down-to-earth by anime standards, the animation of the battle scenes is pretty slick, the mecha are somewhat reminiscent of those in GitS, the landscapes of the terraformed moon and the scenic Swiss Alps are beautifully illustrated, and uncontrolled Rynax wreaking havoc are always a sight to behold. However, the impressive art is simply icing on the cake when compared to the integral role of the music in conveying the emotions of the story. Moonlight (ED and main theme) evokes feelings of loneliness, sadness, and at the same time, hope, while the cheerful and upbeat Natsukashi Umi (OP) serves as a counterbalance. The insert song Lonely Freedom also does well in highlighting several dramatic scenes with its mysterious and calming aura.
For all of its strengths, it’s a pity that KURAU Phantom Memory does not get the attention that a show of this calibre deserves. This may be one of those cases which demonstrate that a show need not be abysmally boring despite the number of tropes used.
Story: Kurau takes place a couple of hundred years in the future, where multiple world wars and uprisings have given birth to a single power, the GPO, who provides security for the earth and the colony on the moon. Beyond that, Agents are often used for jobs that may fall outside of the GPO, and when the series starts, that’s the role that Kurau plays. Given that description, Kurau doesn’t seem to be any different than any other futuristic anime out there, and would seem plain on the surface. Fortunately, there’s more depth to the show due to the Rynax energy, its importance to Kurau and the rest of the humans and how that all plays out. The story of Kurau is a bit of a roller coaster throughout, as there are a lot of chase sequences due to the fact that the main characters are almost always on the run. These are broken up by the more mellow scenes that resemble your average quiet, slice of life type show, before more chase sequences emerge. This progression is recycled a few times, and while it works for the most part, each sequence is relatively short lived, thus leading to the eventual feeling that you’ve seen it all before. I couldn’t help but feel that the show might have benefitted more from having less of these cycles, and simply extending a few of the better ones overall, leaving more time to get invested with the characters situations before they’re forced to move on again. Fortunately, there’s a few things going on behind the scenes that keep the show interesting, and some of the side characters do a great deal of service to the show by adding more depth. There are some mysteries to be had, but nothing is out of the expected or norm here, and they aren’t really enough to keep you hanging on throughout the entire series. The story behind the characters is the best part, as it delves a lot into the relationships between people, whether it’s as family, friends or on a deeper level. Seeing the growth between the characters is what drives Kurau forward, even if the overall story of the show is rather lacking in a lot of areas.
Characters: As I said before, the characters drive this show, and they do an exceptional job at it. When we first meet Kurau, she’s a young woman who’s incredibly lonely and isolated, as a result of not having her other half in a literal sense. Pretty soon we’re introduced to Christmas, and the majority of the show is watching the growth and development both between these two characters, and almost more importantly, inside of Kurau who often has to deal with balancing her desire to protect and be with her other half, and the safety of the world. Kurau really turns out to be an incredibly strong protagonist, easily one of the more impressive ones I’ve seen in a very, very long time. You can’t help but root for her throughout, as she keeps her desire to help others no matter the cost to herself. Christmas seems initially naive, as but she grows throughout the show as well, both in her desire to protect Kurau, and in her understanding of why it’s important to protect everyone else. The two main side characters are strong in their own right as well, with Doug and Ayaka. Doug isn’t as well fleshed out, as he’s your average loving father who’s along to do the right thing, and I have flashbacks to Maes Hughes from Full Metal Alchemist, although a lot more toned down here in Kurau. Ayaka Steiger is a vastly more interesting character, as she’s got a lot of personal baggage in tow, and spends most of the show hunting down Kurau and other Ryna Sapiens for what she believes is the safety of everyone, only to have her beliefs challenged. Watching her find the truth, overcome her past, and move forward is almost as rewarding as watching the deepening relationship between Kurau and Christmas, and she does a remarkable job in terms of adding to the show as a side character. Another great character is Kurau’s father, who spends the show coming to understand his true role both in the events that changed Kurau’s life, as well as the research and damage he’s done in the years since. He, like many of the other characters of this show, grows into a truly fantastic character that changes along with the world. Beyond them, there are a gang-load of other side characters that don’t tend to resonate as well, but they still add some to the show overall. In the end, this is a show almost entirely about character growth and development, and while that sounds like it’d be a slow and dull show, these characters have a wealth of depth that manages to keep you enjoying their journey, even if there are a few pacing problems.
Artwork: The artwork for this show is really hit or miss, which I find rather surprising as I’m usually a really big fan of Studio Bones. The character animation in this show has a much calmer, almost mundane look to everything. That adds a lot, as you aren’t distracted by the crazy looking characters you might get in other shows. There’s no pink hair, cat ears, or big innocent eyes here. These are characters that draw you in by seeming more real, largely due to their more natural portrayal. The problem is that the animation is rather sketchy at times. Sometimes, the characters are animated gorgeously, and you can’t help but be impressed. At other times, it’s like they have no facial details at all, and they appear to be a pair of floating eyes on a face, and that’s incredibly jarring. These lapses can be seen in the background and scenery as well, as a scene can go from a gorgeous setting of candles floating down a river, beautifully animated to a rather plane scene on a train that shows flat, texture less and rather bland backgrounds. It’s not always bad, and it’s not enough to really detract from the show in my eyes, but it’s certainly not as breathtaking as a lot of other shows, and you can’t help but wonder if they couldn’t have spent a little more effort on this one. Bones has a great track record, so I applaud them for trying something new with their art here, I’d just say that they should maybe pay a bit more attention to detail, as that gets lost a lot here.
Music: Kurau’s music isn’t really anything that’s going to stick with you for an extended period of time. The beginning and ending songs are nice, rather mellow and enjoyable, but they aren’t the kind that makes you decide not to skip them. I watched them each once, and then felt no remorse about skipping them for the rest of the show. The insert music is a lot better, as it adds a lot of strength to some of the more emotional scenes, increasing their impact a lot and helping the show. The downside to this is that it’s the same music, splashed throughout the entire show during these moments. It works, but you can’t help but wonder here if they couldn’t have come up with perhaps one or two more songs to help out a bit more. While the music does help overall, in the end, it’s really not a soundtrack that you’ll likely be running out to buy.
Enjoyment: Throughout the entire show, I really enjoyed this series, but that was mostly due to the characters and their growth and relationships. It’s nice to see how all of them play out together, but the pacing problems throughout keep this from being an outstanding title. The fight scenes which I had certain expectations for were rather skimpy, although they do get better towards the end of the series, but the action certainly isn’t the highlight of this show. If you enjoy your shows with a bit more character development and a bit less action, then you’ll probably enjoy Kurau.
Overall, I certainly find it easy to recommend Kurau to people. The pacing and artwork can be a bit sketchy art times, but the characters more than make up for that. This was a show that I certainly didn’t get what I had expected out of it, but it turned out that wasn’t a bad thing. I had expected a more hollow action show, and got a slower, but more mature and deeper character driven show. If that’s what you’re looking for, then I encourage you to give Kurau a shot, as you may be surprised by it as well.
Characters: Boring and disappointing for the most part. Which is very sad when in the first few episodes there is much potential in Kurau, the heroine of the series. Literally the first image in the series is of Kurau standing alone on a building structure high above the busy flying cars of a future city, apathetic to what should be dangerous to any normal human. Very Ghost in the shell, Major Kusanagi visually……also there are doves flying in the backround. Which you understand later what that scene represents in the story, but this is the moments of the first episode, so I was thinking more along the lines of John Woo and Kurau was about to do a slow motion dive through a skylight. Taking out a room full of bad guys with dual pistols. (End Tangent)
Later on you find out when she was 12 years old, during one of her fathers experiments with a new energy type called Rynax there is an accident, causing two particles to break free from the test area and enter Kurau’s body. The “Rynax” is a sentient life form that lives it’s life in pairs and when entering our “world” need symbiosis with a human to survive (perceivability). Taking over the host’s personality, and gaining memories from that persons past (usually), while giving the human special powers and abilities as well. We are then treated to a “6million Dollar Man” team of scientist testing of her physical abilities, dubbing her super human.
Fast forward back to the current time and Kurau is a bad ass freelance “agent”, which are basically Bounty Hunters or Mercenaries that do any job that falls beyond the scope of the GPO(Government Police). Cold, brash and the best in the business, she is even called Krazy Reckless Kurau by her co-agent while on the job. Passing threw solid matter, the ability to break her body down into light and pretty much “scan” her immediate area. She can also obliterate or bend matter and effect electrical systems. You are even treated to a battle where Kuraru takes down a Mech in a mid air battle…… with nothing but a “Riot Sword”. All in the first episode!!!
What happens next is Christmas appears, who was the second of the pair of Rynax Kurau took into her body, after 10 years of resting. And in one night, Kurau turns from the number one power babe mercenary to a crying, whiny, punching bag for the rest of the series, about 20 episodes in total. Spending much of the time beaten up, bruised and crying, her spiral down to an emowreck really turned me off to this show. There are some moments where she shows true power, like the first GPO ambush were their most effective weapon against Rynax doesn’t put her down. But most of the time she is face down and bleeding after the GPO begins to try and track her down for being a rynax sapien.
“Where’s my Christmas!!!!!!”- Get used to hearing that over, and over, and over again.
And other than Kurau, I had zero attachment to anyone else in the series, specially since she is the only character they develop in the series. Nobody else even matters for most of the show besides Christmas, whom follow from her “birth” into the series.
Plot:Keeping it short now. The rich look for greater riches and the powerful look for greater power. And I guess in the case of the Rynax, those who can move threw dimensions, search for new worlds to experience. The ethics of the Rynax exploiting people to stay in this state of being and people exploiting the Rynax for power, is on display in the series. And that the connections that people make are special, because nobody wants to be alone, being the over riding theme. That is the gist of the story.
Also don’t mind that Christmas is literally a walking plot hole against the last half of the series and nothing really is completely explained in the show. Like why the Rynax need to be in pairs, because by the end of the series Kurau and Christmas have to spent a pretty large amount of time apart from one another, but neither one is effected negatively. When in contrast, threw out the show you’re made to believe that being a part from your partner physically hurts the Rynax and causes a slow and painful death.
Also what happened on the pirate ship??? No spoiler, but it makes no sense and they never talk about it afterwards. Like a married coupe who just avoid bringing up an affair in the relationship. It just goes a way.
Sound: Nothing really to speak of, the intro and closing songs were nothing special. And if I’m am not mistaken they used sound effects from the Proton packs in Ghost Busters when Kurau first comes in contact with the Rynax. So bad……. I really didn’t pay too much attention afterwards because of how hackney it was to use the Ghost Busters SFX.
Art: Dull and drab, nothing stands out. The doldrums would best describe the art and personalities on display. Which would work if this was a gritty, life is hard and everybody dies type of show. Instead of being a cry fest trying to make you relate to every characters life and understand the greater value of love and friendship. Much like if Monster was about a brother and a sister beating all the odds to open a cupcake shop, instead being as real as a heart attack, dark and twisted mind f@#$. Drab works when it fits the story.
I think only two recurring characters in the whole series don’t cry at some point, the evil scientist and the evil GPO director. My confusion is, is this a compelling story I want to explore or some 14 year old Gothic girls diary I should stop reading or laugh at!!!!! I enjoyed the first episode and I continued to watch this series only because of the first episode. I would not recommend this show to anyone.
11: Scrapped Princess
English: Scrapped Princess
Japanese: スクラップド プリンセス
MAL Score: 7.40
Born to the royal family, Pacifica Casull has earned the nickname “Scrapped Princess” after an apocalyptic prophecy foretells her destroying the world on her 16th birthday. Rescued from certain death by a kindly family, she takes shelter with her adoptive older brother and sister, Shannon and Raquel Casull. When news of her survival reaches the ears of the God Mauser’s worshippers, they issue her death at all costs, forcing Pacifica to flee for her life.
Plagued by threats from the church, the nobility and even the common people, the three siblings attempt to outrun the fate Pacifica is destined to bring, all the while questioning if one girl’s life is worth the world’s demise. The true nature of the Scrapped Princess, along with the harrowing revelations of the world itself, becomes more and more apparent as the princess’ 16th birthday fast approaches.
When starting the show you will be treated to what is seemingly your normal medieval era sword and sorcery fantasy adventure. And for the first half of the series that is exactly what you get. The second half in some ways almost feels like a completely separate show as mecha like combat starts to replace your standard swords and magic fighting. I imagine some people who are expecting a more traditional kind of adventure might feel a bit disappointed but I thought the transition was logical and seamless. Pacifica, known as the Scrapped Princess is on the run with her two older siblings because everyone wants her dead as she is prophesied to destroy the world on her 16th birthday. Of course it will become obvious to the assassins sent after her and the viewers that she is nothing but a sweet girl who poses no threat to anyone. The plot moves along fairly slowly but the pace was quick enough that I never got bored with it. A number of interesting twists emerge, some predictable others not so much but all and all I found the mix of the old and modern technology quite fresh and original. The action and special effects are quite good but my one complaint with it is that towards the end it does feel like it drags on for a few episodes with little really going on. The ending was also pretty solid and I felt very satisfied with how many of the storylines wrapped up.
Pacifica shines as the main protagonist of Scrapped Princess. She is a very likable and character and I think most people will find it very easy to relate with her. Rounding out the rest of the main cast is the siblings and Pacifica’s guardians, Shannon and Raquel. They were very fun characters and I liked them both a lot. Unfortunately we didn’t ever get that much back story on either of them. Things were hinted at with them both but I was left feeling a little let down that these were not better developed. The supporting cast is also very strong as several characters shine, particularly Leo, but others feel a bit flat and stereotypical.
The music was very good. Both the opening and ending songs felt very appropriate and set the tone of the series. Voice acting is also very strong. Do to some issues I had with the subtitle timing on my DVDs, I was unfortunately exposed to the English dub of this show for an episode before I couldn’t take it anymore and had to download the corrupted episodes online. Honestly I don’t know how or why people watch English dubs, particularly from Bang Zoom! who has some of the worst actors in the industry. Why do I always feel like you’re trying to hard when you speak? Just talk normally, you don’t have to talk like your trying to be 12 years old. Just stay away from the dub. Remember: friends don’t let friends watch dubbed anime.
One of my favorite elements of SP, is the artwork and animation. The backgrounds and spell effects were beautiful. The character designs were truly exceptional though. The girls were all adorable and the guys were handsome and manly and bishounen free. Some of the girls bosoms were a bit out of hand though, particularly Winia’s. Those looked like they might get in the way.
Overall I am left with a very favorable view of this anime. A satisfying ending, great characters, I am sad to see this one end. The story feels very original and delivers a unique cautionary tale about mankind and his struggles to not destroy himself.
As you can see, I really liked Scrapped Princess. It’s a familiar song played to a different tune. The way it starts off gives the appearance of being slow and uneventful, but it all depends on your point of view. The action is light, and it builds up gradually to some pretty big battles as the story progresses, but what the show may lack in action it makes up for with some really potent drama. In this way it excels beyond the usual sword and sorcery fare. If you prefer the myth and the magic over character dynamics then this may seem dull and ordinary to you. I enjoy stories about escalating climactic battles, but life isn’t always an epic series of conflicts, so stories like this are nice as well.
The story of the Scrapped Princess is one of prophecy and death, and it never lets you forget that. There’s always an essence of tragedy and suffering looming in the air. There are moments of endearment and playfulness mixed in with those of doom and gloom. So on the surface it may appear to be just another medieval adventure, but beneath it lies an emotional one as well.
Sure there’s the occasional sword fight or spell casting or sci-fi tangent (there’s even some mech-like things), which are interesting on their own, but what I found myself instantly drawn to were the characters. Even though in the beginning I could tell the action was pretty low key, I was still no less interested in watching more. There was an allure not so much in what they were doing, but how they were going about it.
It’s a very well written story. The character’s are surprised when they are supposed to be, they’re not omniscient and are often ignorant of knowledge the viewer already has. Events and precedents are recalled correctly so there’s no plot holes. There are no real loose ends to speak of and the ending is solid. There’s plenty of good humor, romance, and really touching moments. It’s one of those stories where there’s a big world of big burdens and a decisive destiny waiting for them at the end, but it’s the journey itself and the little things inbetween I enjoyed.
The only flaw, if I had to pick any, I could see was that the whole Peacemaker angle was never explained too clearly or thoroughly. This leads to an ending that’s wrapped up just a tad too neatly/ideally for my taste. In fact, I’d say the whole sci-fi thing probably hurt the series more than helped. It could’ve done just fine without it. I would’ve liked a little more definitive clarification on how things got to the way they were, and some kind of indication of where they were going to go from there (such as what happens with magic?).
Given the kind of story this is, I think you get a pretty good feel for the characters, though none quite as well as Pacifica and Shannon. Everyone else are just supporting characters by comparison. Still, characters are fleshed out fairly well. Even if you don’t particularly like a character, you get some kind of sense of who they are. Not just in actions, but how they feel and think.
People are not one-dimensional automatons programmed with a set of unshakable and predictable reactions. They have moments of fear, doubt, impulsiveness, and weakness. It’s essential to establish these things as well for any story to have any semblance of authenticity. Some of the extra characters may not have been necessary but I think Scra-Prin did a good job anyway. No one was particularly overpowered or unbelievable, and the main character’s "spoiled innocence" lent itself well to this story.
The one oddity I would say is that the Winia character looked bizarrely identical to the Senes one. Were they related or did the character designer reach his creative limit?
Maybe it’s just me, but I really like BONES art. Their shows are always vibrant and colorful, their lines are sharp and clean, the character/outfit designs are beautiful, the backgrounds are lush and the animation is always fluid. I guess it may seem pretty "average" by modern standards, but I’d still say they’re my favorite to date.
Well, although no particular tune comes to mind, I’d say as far as setting the mood and tone are concerned, the music was always right. There were never any odd moments of silence and when a scene called for action or suspense there was always the appropriate music to accompany it. I thought the dubbing was pretty good, which is not a compliment to take lightly as I’m pretty critical about, well, everything, but especially dubbing. The subtitles on the other hand were littered with spelling/grammar errors.
Scrapped Princess is a rather misleading title. As a show it doesn’t sound quite right, and it’s certainly an awkward way to keep addressing someone. That is, it makes about as much sense as calling her the "Killed Princess" or the "Trapped Princess". Perhaps Cursed or Forsaken would’ve been more appropriate, though certainly less original.
This show was kind of strange for me because it had the flair of Fullmetal Alchemist and the heart of Eureka 7, but wasn’t as good as either of them in those regards. However, I would say it had the more complete ending of the three.
I’m not sure why, but in the world of Scra-Prin the average woman is very…. voluptuous, that or they are wearing some of the most form fitting clothing ever made. This is either a statement about the lack of bras in medieval times, or that women in our future will be very well endowed.
The animation is quite average – nothing to complain about…a bit boring at times. Nice character designs even for some of the supporting roles.
Sound – the ending theme caught my interest, nice arrangement, a bit different. The beginning suited the series and the score was fitting too, although nothing that stuck longer.
Now, the characters are one of the strong points of this anime…I somewhat came to like them…even Parcifia who can be a bit annoying sometimes with her: “Perhaps it’s better when I die” attitude. This aspect is just a bit to heavy. The development of some of the protagonists (especially Shannon, my personal favourite^^) is consistant; their dilemma and how they cope with problems is interesting and understandable.
Looking at this it is quite clear that I enjoyed it…it’s sad that this anime just couldn’t reach far enough to be truly amazing…but still a recommendable series.
MAL Score: 7.41
The ordinary life of high school student Ayato Kamina is turned upside down when Tokyo is suddenly invaded by futuristic fighter jets. Amidst the chaos, he encounters a woman called Haruka Shitow who claims to be from a government organization called TERRA. She reveals that he has been living in a time bubble named “Tokyo Jupiter” that was put in place by the Mulians—humanoids from another dimension—in an attempt to isolate and take over Tokyo. TERRA has been trying to break through the barrier surrounding the city ever since.
Unable to process the revelation, Ayato panics and flees. He runs into his classmate Reika Mishima who leads him to a place called “The Shrine of Xephon” where a large egg slumbers. She starts to sing and an unknown power awakens within Ayato, connecting him to a being called RahXephon that breaks out of the egg. Shortly after, Haruka finds him again and tries to make him join her cause of fighting against the Mulians.
Caught between the crosshairs of the Mulians and TERRA, Ayato begins to question his purpose, navigating altered memories and ultimately his very identity in this chaotic new world.
STORY: The story can be the weakest part for some people, it isn’t simple or linear, but, I think, it’s not too, too complicated. You are in Ayato’s shoes at the start, and it’s very understandable to be confused as to what’s going on. With a little faith and some brain power, keep going forward and it’ll all be revealed if you keep your eyes open. The story is woven well and, without giving much away, I’ll say that it’s about Ayato’s journey to learn about: the world he’s in, the real world, who he is/was, who the giant flying robots are, and what his purpose is in relation to the people around him. Vague, right? I know, this area is pretty sketchy, and intentionally so. The story is deep, the story is more than slightly convoluted, and the story is good. Give it a chance. 8/10.
ART: One of the things I instantly liked about this show was the art. I knew this anime hadn’t come out yesterday and, despite being a guy who just has to have what’s new and now, I really liked the animation. The colors are great, everything is well drawn, with special detail to the mechas (which, surprisingly, some mecha animes overlook, go figure). I didn’t find anything that really stood out as bland and there were few- if any- weak points in the animation. It didn’t feel dated at all despite having come out 6 years ago. 9/10.
SOUND: The Opening/Ending to RahXephon really caught my ears, just like the art caught my eye. The ending theme is beautiful, and sent me to sleep (in a good way) more than once while watching the episodes back to back. The music always fits the mood, the sound effects are great, and a lot of the tracks are lovable. Indeed, one of the ‘themes’ of the show is about sound, and there’s a bit about singing, which I won’t get into unless I want to get into spoiler-land, but Sound is definitely one of RahXephon’s strong points. The voice acting is top notch, if you’re someone like me who always wonders whether to bother with the dub, well I loved it. Ayato’s voice was great, the supporting character’s were pretty good, and Vic Mignogna was… well, he’s Vic Mignogna. 10/10.
CHARACTER: Second to Sound, here’s where the series shines the most. And yet it gets an 8- why? Because of the unavoidable connections between Character and Story. The complexities of the Story mixed with the large cast of characters sometimes made it hard to keep track of who was who, something I found really disappointing. Also, aside from Ayato and the main, let’s say other two, it was difficult to tell who the main characters really were. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, but the ambiguity, imo, could have been handled a little better. Nonetheless, the characters themselves, once you’ve gotten to know them, will blow you away. I really connected with Ayato and many of the supporting cast. A lot of them are deep and, over the course of the series go through so many intense emotional periods, the most passionate parts of their lives. You see them at their best and their worst, really getting to know them, and though it can get kind of tricky keeping track of them all, you’ll definitely have an opinion of them if nothing else. 8/10.
ENJOYMENT: I really don’t know what it was. Could it have been the ‘artsy’ undertones? The score, the production, the characterization? Or maybe I’m just a mecha fan underneath who hasn’t come out of his shell, I don’t know, but what I do know is: I really, really liked RahXephon, and I put it up there in my top 3 favorite animes ever. I forget how I stumbled across it, really, but I’m glad I did. What began as a way to kill time ended as really something of an experience. I understand this series has many parallels to NGE (see above), and after watching this I started to understand why NGE fans so vigorously shoved it into my face, for I was doing the same with RahXephon. You COULD say having to watch the series a second time to understand everything counts as replay value, maybe, but who knows? I know I didn’t fully get everything on the first go around (which is really what keeps this thing from truly, truly being perfect). 9/10.
OVERALL (aka: tl;dr version):
STORY: Ayato’s journey of self discovery takes him into his own mind and places far beyond. Well written, but very complex; worth giving your full attention. 8/10.
ART: Fluid, beautifully done, smooth and nicely drawn animations that keep your attention. 9/10.
SOUND: Amazing English dubbing, and the japanese voices are nothing short of what you’d expect either. Spectacular music, OP/ED, and overall great OST/sound effects. 10/10.
CHARACTER: A (perhaps too) large and real cast of characters, very real, very human, that may or may not make or break the series for you. 8/10.
ENJOYMENT: I’m not sure on this one. Watch the first, let’s say 6 or 7 episodes, wait for things to really get rolling, and if you don’t like it/are totally lost/absolutely hate it, don’t watch it. I for one could not stop watching this anime. 9/10.
So how do two 8’s, two 9’s, and a 10 average out to an overall 10? I have no idea, but I cannot recommend this anime strongly enough. It truly is a work of art.
[This was my first review; if you did not find it helpful, please let me know. I’m always happy to talk about this series!]
Where to begin. First the disclaimer: RahXephon is definitely not for everyone. It’s usually best to have little to no expectations so as to not contaminate the experience. With RX there are some things you should, and a lot of things you should NOT, expect.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how significantly challenging of a show it is to get into. You certainly have to be in the right mood/mindset for it. It is easy to label this show as an action, drama, sci-fi mecha romance (or whatever), but what does any of that mean? If you’ve seen Neon Genesis Evangelion, expect this show to have a very familiar… setting. This is usually the first thing people notice (and usually complain about). Mecha is probably the least important aspect of this show however. The story is also very heavily character driven, so the pacing is very slow and the action is sparse. Coupled with this, the sci-fi aspects of the show are limited and more of a sub-plot if anything. At its heart however RX is ripe with drama and romance, but above all else, it is a very well written and a stunningly artistic show.
That being said, if you are the kind of person who likes to analyze things and gestate them and appreciate the fine art in works, then RX has a lot to offer. This is not to say that RX is an intellectual tour de force meant only for the highest of brows, but rather as a hint for people who like that kind of stuff. If this is not your style or what you are in the mood for, then there is a very good chance you will find this show simply boring, meaningless, and/or just an inferior version of NGE.
I initially tried to watch this show with my brother and we were both wondering “when does anything cool happen?” Some months later I tried watching the show again, by myself this time, late at night. Under these conditions I was able to just sit back and enjoy what was going on. So I definitely recommend watching this under similar settings where you have time to view at least a few episodes and focus on them.
There’s not really much to say about the story that isn’t covered in any synopsis. There are elements of mystery that can be confusing at times, but get more or less resolved/explained eventually (with minor exceptions). Some of the temporal ideas they play with are kind of interesting. The way information is revealed is pretty well done. You slowly get immersed into the world(s) and things become more intriguing and entertaining the more you get to know the characters. What’s more, it actually has a conclusive and COHERENT ending, which is more than I can say for the majority of anime. There’s nothing I hate more than getting really into a series only to have it end in some crazy, sudden, ambiguous, and/or arbitrary manner. I HATE THAT SO MUCH. *deep breath* Ok, so, stories with good endings get high marks from me. I can’t really say what it was I liked so much about the ending without essentially spoiling it, but suffice to say I found it very…. emotionally satisfying.
Do not be fooled. Even though the Japanese love to throw robots into almost everything, RahXephon is scarcely a mech show except in the most token of ways. The fights involving mechs are brief and mostly forgettable. They really serve more of a symbolic and artistic purpose than any kind of technical combative entertainment. This is most prominently exemplified in episodes 19 and 26. The sci-fi part of the story is mostly nonsense, but it’s very pretty looking and sounding nonsense. This is what really counts here. It doesn’t matter if the plot is silly or has been done before, what matters most isn’t what is said but HOW it is told. The real story lies beneath the surface of the sci-fi mecha mumbo jumbo, and if this isn’t clear by the end then you’ve really missed something.
NGE vs. RX:
If you’ve already seen Neon Genesis Evangelion then you might be put off by how strikingly similar this show appears to be. It’s true; the parallels between RahXephon and NGE are uncomfortably pervasive. They both have a young male lead thrust into piloting a mech for some organization to fight against abstract enemies. They both have an older female character who introduces and protects/shelters the main character. They both take place, obviously, in (post-destruction) Tokyo and of course are mankind’s last hope against a prevailing alien threat. Coincidences like these will probably catch your eye throughout the show, however, RX is not the blatant ripoff one might think. These common threads are superficial and are no more egregious than two shows having the same “harem of girls fawning over an awkward guy” plot.
Here’s where the shows stop being similar: NGE provided a more realistic mech story with deep psychological overtones and Christian themed undertones; RX centers around capturing a certain… aesthetic more than anything else. So if you are going to watch RX, it is important to bear in mind that the thing you’ll take away most from it is not the “edge of your seat action” or the “mind blowing concepts” but one thing: aesthetics. Here RX triumphs over NGE most magnificently; it is simply and stunningly beautiful.
The character designs put me off a little bit in the beginning. There was something so simple and plain about them that didn’t sit right with me. Their colors were too solid and too flat. The designs are definitely different, and after a while I either grew used to them or stopped caring, because everything else about the art in RX is just amazing. The time and effort they put into the backgrounds are absolutely breathtaking. The other thing I liked about RX is that even though the enemies are abstract looking, they’re not just weird floating giant eyeballs or anything obnoxious like that. The abstraction in RX actually retains a certain “realistic” genuine design, they look like something someone might actually build.
I’d say the sound in this series shares in the same spirit of aesthetics. I mean, how could it not? The plot revolves around the idea of a world suffused with sound. If you are spinning a story that is largely character driven and are trying to immerse the viewer in visuals then it is equally important that the music draws them in as well. Some of the melodies are really solid/memorable, but the most important part is that the mood and tones are always set just right. Since music/sound is supposed to be a big theme of the show, it would’ve been nice if there had been more distinguishable harmonic singing as opposed to the mostly tonal chanting that goes on. In this area I don’t feel they really tapped into their full potential beauty and the incessant droning can get a little annoying…
The Op/En themes were alright, maybe a little too tranquil for my tastes. The dubbing was surprisingly good. I usually watch an episode or so dubbed and then watch a couple subbed before deciding how to watch the series, but the dub was so well done that the thought to switch over never even came to me. This is not to say it was flawless, Vic Mignogna’s voice didn’t seem to quite fit, but whatever. Comparing it to the subtitling, I might even go as far as saying that the dubbing was possibly better…
The main character is a refreshing alternative to your typical amoral badass or whiny, obnoxious brat. No stupid sidekicks or comic relief here, no retarded antics and none of the usual cliche archetypes that make up your usual lineup. Most of the characters are really well done, a few of the minor characters could’ve been better developed, but they’re all fairly believable and likable. With the exception of Makoto, who is just an unbelievable prick. It’s never really explained why he’s such an insufferable douche bag either. This ultimately doesn’t matter, some people are just bastards for no good reason, but it would’ve been nice if at least A reason was given. In fact, it would’ve been better if some of the characters motives had been elaborated on more.
If you’ve seen and liked Eureka 7 (also by Bones) then you already have an idea about what a story driven by wonderful characters is like. Of course, having good characters alone is not what makes this show unique. More so than the visuals or the sound, where RahXephon really excels is how heart warmingly romantic it is. I don’t mean this in some cheesy, lovey-dovey, soap opera kind of way. It’s somewhat hard to explain. You can watch this show and not even pick up on it, but that’s part of the magic. It’s not overdone and it’s sort of subtle about it but still effective.
Even the characters are beautiful in a way. I hate stories where characters act or react in ways that have no bearing to real life, so when they interact believably it just makes it that much more enjoyable for me. Let’s take harem shows for instance where the main male lead is either painfully oblivious to (or shows no interest in) any of his would-be female suitors. Or, when there’s some ridiculously breasted female character (and there’s a lot of them in anime) and people just act as if it’s the norm, when you know, YOU KNOW, every single male (and lesbian?) eye would be locked on to that woman all-the-time; everywhere she went. I HATE when shows do that.
So I was SO glad to see RahXephon took that extra step to make the characters feel more real rather than just inundate the viewer with more of the usual idealistic/innocent baloney — and I’ll always love it for that. The characters are so sincere and so genuine with one another that it made watching them gripping. In that same vein of realism, I absolutely loved how… amorous the characters were. You’ll see scenes where cleavage might catch someone’s eye, or where there will be an air of sexual tension, or proximity promiscuity, and all these other sensual elements that were deliciously but tastefully mature. This extra layer made the characters so much more… human. I really loved this about the show, and it is probably what I’ll remember most: just how playful and fun and passionate and real they appeared to be. So by the time I got to the end, it was such a memorable and moving journey that I was sad when it was over. The characters were just so alluring and endearing.
There are a lot of mysteries in the show I never understood like who Kamina’s parents were, or how Haruka found him at that gateway after the disappearance, or the whole clone craziness, or the whole elaborate setup at the end, or why the mu were on earth or where they came from… but none of that really matters. I can’t really do justice to how much I liked this show, but there’s a review of it on ANN that puts it into much better words than I have. This is a show anyone who values substance owes to themselves to watch.
From the very beginning you will be thrown right into the thick of it, knowing very little about the plot, story and overall premise. However as the show goes on it slowly reveals, bit by bit, what it is all about, which is about humanity’s struggle against some weird invaders. The story is told well because everything is straight forward and you won’t feel overwhelmed with the back story and all the terms given. However this anime series may lack some originality because it is not too difficult to spot the numerous parallels between RahXphon and the ever-so-popular Neon Genesis Evangelion. Both series about boys being thrust into a war against unknown beings, plus having romantic interest on the side. Nonetheless, RahXephon does manage to become an anime of its own.
The characters are fairly well-defined and well developed but only Ayato Kamina stands out, as the protagonist. Yet every episode usually focuses on one of the supporting characters, developing them further. Nevertheless there are times when the characters’ actions and thoughts are confusing or just don’t make any sense.
The animation and music quality is the sort of thing to expect from BONES. Even though the animation style is somewhat dated, the way in which everything from the amazing fights to just simple talks is animated so well. Whereas the music adds to the impact of the action and drama, seeing that music is a major element in the show. Yet the music does get fairly repetitive.
Overall RahXephon has proven to be a Mecha anime worthy of being included in any mecha anime fan’s collection. The combat is pretty impressive and so is the musical score, which goes well with the artistic concept. This shouldn’t be a tough show to understand however at times things end up being explained poorly, which can confuse us viewers making the enjoyable to watch. I recommend this anime to anyone who doesn’t have anything against Mecha anime.
9: Mobile Fighter G Gundam
English: Mobile Fighter G Gundam
MAL Score: 7.56
In the year Future Century 0060, the many countries that once comprised Earth’s surface exist as separate colonies floating in space. Their home planet now uninhabitable, the ruler of all of the colonies is decided by their unanimous participation in the intergalactic Gundam Fight Tournament—a series of battles between the champions of each colony to determine who is most fit to reign over them all.
Neo-Japan’s champion is Domon Kasshu, a man who accepts the role with some ulterior motives. Domon searches the galaxy for his brother, a criminal who allegedly murdered their mother and made off with the Devil Gundam, a highly advanced weapon with the power to unleash mass destruction across the galaxy. In his quest to bring his sibling to justice, Domon travels from colony to colony, meeting many of the fighters who will become his allies and enemies in the forthcoming Gundam Fight Tournament.
Armed with the strength of the Shining Gundam, Domon battles to uncover the truth behind his tortured childhood, suffering great betrayal and crushing blows on his quest toward personal and national triumph.
The presentation of the culturally diverse cast is of course where the Ring ni Kakero influences come into play. Certain portions of the characters are stereotyped or portrayed in what Americans would find not politically correct. I mean, the Russian is a prisoner? The Japanese portrayed as righteous? The American portrayed as strange and arrogant? And the list goes on. If you’re not offended by that kind of stuff, then you’ll probably laugh because it gets to you in that kind of way. Because the Japanese are oblivious to the concept of political correctness, they can of course get away with doing something like this in their own country. In addition all religious referenes such as Domon’s future Gundam, known as the God Gundam, or G Gundam for short is changed to Burning Gundam; and the Devil Gundam would be renamed to the Dark Gundam.
I really enjoy the characters because of their personalities and they each bring in different elements to the show. Domon is the quiet and anti-social super powered guy; while someone like Chibodee is the obnoxious loud mouth comic relief character. Even some of the minor characters like Alleby have their own contribution to the advancement of the story as well and has some touching moments that I don’t want to get into because it would be a spoiler.
Along with a whole new set of story, setting and characters, you also get new Gundams. For traditional purposes obviously, a huge majority of the Gundams will stick to the grill face, have either the green and yellow eyes, and still maintain the iconic red, white, blue, and yellow color scheme. But they add new details to certain Gundams to make them look more culturally authentic to each country. Like Lumberjack Gundam of Neo-Canda is literally meant to resemble a Candian lumber jack. The Gundam Spiegel piloted by Schwartz has a skinny frame to give it the agility and speed that gives blitzkrieg-esque assaults.
The human characters on the other hand were really meant to have the old school style of design from the 1970s mech anime. The character’s slim builts, the pointness of the chins and faces, the shapes of the eyes, the hairstyles and side burns, and some of the clothing designs gives some indication of that. Plus, it’s not Gundam vs army anymore. Prior to Gundam, mech anime was always the main mech against another bad guy’s mech of the week and G Gundam’s story was meant to present that kind of narration so they bring in all of these Gundams for one one one battles which I will now get into.
The battles are also distinctive because it’s not about lazers, guns, and beam saber fights. It’s hand to hand combat and as Daigouji Gai from Nadesico would say, that a mech is most idealistic for such kinds of battles and is the best means of proving who is the man. Granted certain Gundams are bulky, but the heavy blow action makes up for it. While the smaller Gundams like Spiegel and Nobel Gundam have speed and agility and they move like Spider-Man. So you’re getting martial arts mixed with mech. Despite the lack of convenient war fare weapons, the Gundams of course have special powered moves. Like Domon’s finishing move is the shining finger where he turns gold Super Saiya-jin style and then emits a large beam of light to his opponent.
Of course there are also times we get to see the pilots fight outside of their mechs. Afterall, you need to be a legitimate accomplished fighter to be legible to compete in the tournament. The fights are DBZ-ish with the speed but not of course where they power up and fight for a long time and do fire balls. The fights are still intense and fun. So, the art and animation of G Gundam for it’s overall unique use of character and mech design and intriguing battle.
Tomokazu Seki also happens to play the main character Domon Kasshu who has played other notable roles like Keisuke from Initial D, Miyata from Hajime no Ippo, and Kenichi from History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi. He uses a rough and loud voice, but not high pitched. He can make the character sound cold and calm when he’s not in battle, and yet sound crazy when he’s in a fight. Speaking of the dialog in fights, I just love how dynamic the acting and dialog is in the middle of battle. Like before a fight starts, to officially commence the fight, the fighters have to say “Gandamu faito!!! Rediiii Goooo!!” It’s something you can say is as synonomous as John McCarthy’s “Lets get it on” when he signals to start a fight in the UFC. It’s just that awesome.
And it’s real funny in the Japanese version, Chibodee, played by Hochu Ohtsuka, the voice of Jiraiya in Naruto and Yazan in Zeta Gundam brings a funny tone to his voice and really brings the comedy out of him with his Engrish and how he calls Domon “Japanese.” And Saisaici is played by Yamaguchi Kappei, the voices of Ranma and Inuyasha, and the voice of L from Deathnote. So the Japanese version has a top notch voice cast. As for the dub, I have not seen it in years, but I just feel with the Japanese version, you’re getting the accurate dynamic delivery you need to most enjoy it because I don’t think this anime isn’t fun without the silly Engrish.
The music itself is pretty good. The opening themes Flying in the Sky and I Trust You Forever are really good songs that have a type of passion and feeling to it. Though it doesn’t have a warriors feel like Ring ni Kakero’s or Ashita no Joe’s, the songs still reflect on its semi-unintended campy nature.
G Gundam was mixing old school Shounen Jump, old school mech, and the moderninzing of Gundam all into one. It brings its own unique story that excellently mixes a diverse cast of characters in not just culture, but in personalities; top notch unintended comedy if you’re not Japanese; and high octane action
But simply being different isn’t enough to be good and that doesn’t change the fact that the end result is nothing short of a nonsensical battle shounen that thinks an excessive amount of plot twists and shouting equates to actual quality.
The story can be split up into 2 parts, the first being a revenge tale and other a long winded battle tournament. Set in the future where war is abolished and a new system is put in place, each nation takes part in a battle royal to determine who will obtain supremacy of the universe and the other colonies. These fights are carried out by a Gundam pilot of their choosing and is the driving force behind most of the show’s conflict. It’s through this battle royal that we meet our core group of characters, with our lead obviously being Japan’s representative Domon Kasshu. Using the battle royal as cover Domon’s true objective is to find and defeat his brother Kyoji who has come to poses Dark Gundam, which objective is (you guessed it) to destroy the world.
Now the core story itself isn’t bad on paper but where the problem starts is how it’s presented. Being that it takes a shounen approach, it should come to no surprise that it also obtained the issues commonly found in the shounen demographic. Containing everything from poorly conceived asspulls and powerups to questionable plot twists, G Gundam’s storytelling is just all over the place. Another glaring issue is it’s regurgitation of needless exposition and plot conveniences. And despite the constant bombardment of nonsense like a mermaid, a mummy and windmill Gundam or gundams going super saiyan, it still ask of the viewer to take it seriously. This wouldn’t have been a problem if it was going for a self-aware satire but sadly it never took that route. What we get instead is a show trying too hard to angst and too hard to be cool while coming across as a laughable concoction that you’d think up as a child while playing pretend with your toys.
Now if there was ever an area where G Gundam deserves recognition it would be with it’s production values. The Gundam franchise has always been proclaimed to being ahead of its time, with titles like Zeta Gundam that was leagues ahead of other anime titles of it’s era in terms of cinematography and choreography. But with titles like Double Zeta and Victory Gundam it had seemed that the franchise was finally losing it’s luster. But G Gundam brought on something like a Renaissance for Gundam, bringing with it the familiar levels of animation quality found in OVAs like War in the Pocket and Stardust Memory.
Being that the story focused on mecha fights a great deal of effort was placed into making all the battles to feel grandiose when called for it. And with a introduction to a new way of piloting the mechas by body synchronization, the aesthetics and easy to read body mechanics were ahead of it’s time. The attention to detail really made it an entertaining watch that never felt hindered by the time period it was made. It even looks good for today’s standards. But of course corners were cut with reused scenes and still shots but given the effort placed into everything else it’s easily forgivable.
NOW the same can’t be said for the mecha designs. To put it bluntly half of them are beyond idiotic. Everything from a evil clown to a windmill, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the poorly thought up designs. It’s like the artists all got drunk and doodled up any nonense that popped into their heads. But given the cheesiness of the story they may just help heighten your B-movie experience.
“so bad it’s good” is the best phrase used to describe the voice acting of G Gundam. This is schmaltzy over acting taken to a new extreme. Every one liner is delivered with so much ham that you can’t help but chuckle as they’re delivered. That said I highly suggest watching this dub to optimize the effect. The soundtrack itself works well with the show’s content. Delivering the right amount of “oomph” when needed and adding to the overall 90s vibe.
The characters all felt like they’ve been ripped right out of the pages of cliches. With a spiky hair protagonist that think yelling and “talking with your fists” is the only way to solve problems, it borderlines obnoxiousness at times. The rest of the cast follow the same 1 sided personality with one predominant straight that forces them to be marginalize as typical archetypes. May that be the pretty boy “man of honor” or the strong dumb brute, all of them exhibit the behaviors of easy to write and even easier to read characters.
But being typical characters aren’t necessarily bad per say but the way the writers go about using them is where it really becomes a problem. Everyone is flimsily handled to the point where their personality can flip flop from friend to foe with no proper build up. It’s like they were manipulated in order to serve whatever objective the plot was going for at the time. This result in too many role reversals to be taken seriously and also a sad attempt to try to add depth and complexity to a cookie cutter cast that were only surface deep.
Now without a doubt G Gundam is entertaining. Due to many factors but mostly contributed to the time period it was made, G Gundam has aged into a campy b-movie romp that offers cheesy one liners, laughable plot twists and hammy moments throughout. This b-movie experience is even heightened further if watched dubbed, with a vast array of schmaltzy voice acting performances that deduces genuine bouts of laughter. It’s truly among the pinnacle of cheesy 90s entertainment and those simply seeking dumb fun should look no further.
G Gundam is the ultimate 90s cheese experience. Idiotic plot twists, nonsensical mecha designs and over the top voice acting. It’s the pinnacle of anime cheese but a face palming journey that can’t be forgiven. For everything it had going for it, it always took 2 steps back. It was an experimental attempt to do something different with the franchise that led to half-baked results. For fans of Gundam this might be a fun time waster but this isn’t a something recommended to any newcomer trying to see what the franchise is all about.
The story takes place in an alternet setting, not Universal Century. This new world is called Future Century. In Future Century, nations from around the world leave their homes and begin to live in space, in the newly formed space colonies called the Neo Nations. Even though many have left Earth, it’s still a vitial resorce, and to prevent any further wars the Nations declare that every four years there is to be a Gundam Fight. The Gundam Fight determines which Neo Nation will take Earth into their hands. After each Nation selects one of their best fighters and locks them down on Earth, the battle begins.
In this story, it is now the 13th Gundam Fight. A Martial Artist from Neo Japan, Domon Kasshu, is sent to Earth. With his newly earned title of King Of Hearts, he brings fear upon his opponents, but Domon’s true intensions is to search for his brother, which mysteriously disappeared after an incedent in the space colony of Neo Japan. Now the only remaining member of his family is his father which has been frozen as pusnishment for actiing against the Neo Japan Government. And to release his father, Domon must fight and win the Gundam Fight.
Eventually Domon realizes that he’s not the only one that is willing to go the distance as he meets many formidable foes. Chibodee of Neo America, George of Neo France, Sai of Neo China, and Argo of Neo Russia all have their reasons of fighting within the tournament. They soon become friends after facing a menacing foe known as the Devil (Dark) Gundam.
The story is pretty good. It’s not what I really expected from Gundam, and it was a completely new twist to things. I can rewatch it a few times and still enjoy it. Although, the birth of this series pretty much brought an unnecessary evil to the Gundam Franchise. With all the spoofs of Gundam Wing, Gundam War X, Gundam Seed, and a few other Super Gundam legacies, I can’t help but get mad that because of this one show it had made Gundam into a Super Hero Five show. In the long run, its an okay show, not one of my favorites of the Gundam series, but Gundam Seed wasn’t any better. So if you really want to see what started the Gundam Wing and the Five Gundam concept, this is what you are looking for.
8: Tenkuu no Escaflowne
English: The Vision of Escaflowne
MAL Score: 7.68
Hitomi Kanzaki is just an ordinary 15-year-old schoolgirl with an interest in tarot cards and fortune telling, but one night, a boy named Van Fanel suddenly appears from the sky along with a vicious dragon. Thanks to a premonition from Hitomi, Van successfully kills the dragon, but a pillar of light appears and envelopes them both. As a result, Hitomi finds herself transported to the world of Gaea, a mysterious land where the Earth hangs in the sky.
In this new land, Hitomi soon discovers that Van is a prince of the Kingdom of Fanelia, which soon falls under attack by the evil empire of Zaibach. In an attempt to fight them off, Van boards his family’s ancient guymelef Escaflowne—a mechanized battle suit—but fails to defeat them, and Fanelia ends up destroyed. Now on the run, Hitomi and Van encounter a handsome Asturian knight named Allen Schezar, whom Hitomi is shocked to find looks exactly like her crush from Earth. With some new allies on their side, Van and Hitomi fight back against the forces of Zaibach as the empire strives to revive an ancient power.
Manga, Anime: There are three different manga for this anime, and the two that were released around the same time as the anime are worlds apart. In order to understand this, you need to know a little something about the production.
Escaflowne was in development for about five years. Shoji Kawamori (famous for his work on the Macross series and Eureka Seven) came up with the initial idea for the series after a trip to Nepal, and hashed out the basics of the series with Minoru Takanashi at Bandai, with Hitomi originally as a curvy, long-haired, air-headed girl with glasses, and a decidedly more shonen bent to the series. Sunrise (famous for their work on the Gundam series and Cowboy Bebop) was originally selected to do the series, which was then planned at 39 episodes, and Noboteru Yuki worked with Kawamori, with the director at the time being Yasuhiro Imagawa. The director stuck around long enough to coin the phrase Escaflowne, and then left before production actually started, and the project was shelved. Two years later, Sunrise picked it back up and bought on Kazuki Akane (famous for his work on Noein -To Your Other Self- and the Birdy the Mighty 2008 remake), who then gave the series a complete makeover, bringing in shoujo elements to balance out the shonen, notably, making the men a bit more into bishonen and remaking Hitomi as the girl we know in the series.
The first of the manga titles to come out shared the anime’s name, and was based on the original production ideas, which gave it far more of a shonen bent. This manga was done by Katsu Aki, and ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s Shonen Ace magazine from October 24th, 1994 to November 26th, 1997. It was licensed Stateside by Tokyopop, and the eighth and final volume was released on September 14th, 2004. The second manga title, titled Messaiah Knight – The Vision of Escaflowne, later retitled Hitomi – The Vision of Escaflowne, was released around the same time as the anime, and was a shoujo adaptation based more on the final version of the anime. Yuzuru Yashiro did this adaptation, and it ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s Asuka Fantasy DX magazine from April 8th, 1996 to January 18th, 1997, and has yet to be licensed Stateside. The final manga title is called Energist’s Memories, which is an anthology of several stories from the Escaflowne universe done by several manga authors. It was released in January of 1997, and also has yet to be licensed Stateside.
Escaflowne is a twenty-six episode series (yes, you’ll notice it was cut down from the 39 episodes originally planned) that was produced by Sunrise and Bandai Visual, and directed by Kazuki Akane. It ran on Japanese TV from April 2nd, 1996 till September 24th, 1996. It was licensed Stateside by Bandai Entertainment, and the latest full boxset was released on April 11th, 2006 as part of the Anime Legends collection.
Story: High school track runner Hitomi Kanzaki has a talent for stunningly accurate tarot readings. One day, she has a vision of a young man slaying a dragon, and, later that night, the same young man is transported to her world in a pillar of light, along with the dragon, and he slays it. As soon as the young man, named Van Fanel, has harvested the energist stone that lies in the dragon, the pillar of light returns him back to his world, Gaea, where both the moon and Earth (known as the Mystic Moon) hang in the sky – only Hitomi is taken back with him. As Hitomi tries to find a way home, her latent psychic powers are awakened, which in turn awakens Farnelia’s mech (known as Escaflowne), and she becomes caught up in the politics and conflict between Asturia, Farnelia, and the Zaibach Empires.
You can tell that the story was originally meant for a longer series, but the decision to trim it down to twenty-six episodes came through just when the series came in just as production was beginning, and the director didn’t want to sacrifice any of the characters or plot lines. So, instead, the already elaborately planned plotlines and character development was made to fit into a twenty-six episode series. And, admittedly, while the story and development is a bit jerky, slow at first but then speeding up in others, it still manages to completely and coherently wrap things up in its length, not to mention give the fairly extensive cast of characters good development.
And speaking of characters, I have so much respect for how they developed them. The characters all start out as fairly common shoujo tropes, but are developed into real people and incredibly engaging ones at that. Hitomi especially; she could’ve been this horrible Mary-Sue, but instead she is developed and even grows up a little as she makes her way through Gaea and reacts pretty realistically to her situation. Relationships between all of them are slowly developed, and you aren’t hit over the head with it as they are; when they are finally bought to light or out and out pointed out, you realize, "Oh, that explains it!"
For those of you who are mech fans, you’ll be happy to hear that the mech fights are paid as much attention to as the the story and character development; there’s at least one major fight every other episode. And especially appropriate is how they developed the mechs to match the level of technology that’s found in Gaea.
Gaea is general is built extremely well as a world; just about every aspect you could think of is given thought and explained in ways that don’t make you feel like you’re being hit over the head with the exposition hammer all that much.
The downside of all this is that you feel like you’re getting bombarded with information, and there are a few minor characters that are mostly running gags and who they seem to forget exist for a few episodes here and there and then are bought back into the story to remind the audience, "Hey! They’re still here!"
So, overall, while there is quite an overload on information, and a few gag characters are forgotten here and there, Escaflowne’s story is still pretty good, and all elements of it are given equal loving attention.
Art: Compared to other shows that were airing roughly around this time (Ruroni Kenshin, Martian Successor Nadesico, Ghost in the Shell), Escaflowne’s art is pretty damn good, if not gorgeous. Character designs are given the perfect amount of detail, not to mention as are all the different races on Gaea, mech designs, backgrounds, just everything is absolutely beautiful in this. There are some very strong lines used in this, like what we saw in Ouran High School Host Club. And overall, the quality of the art has aged quite well.
The style of the art has not aged well, though. Facial features are extremely exaggerated, notably with a few noses that could conceivably be used as swords with how pointy they are. Also, CG use in this is fairly obvious, which is a bit understandable, but it’s still a bit painful to watch at times.
Music: The music for this is absolutely spectacular. Yoko Kanno did the work on this, and it’s not the typical jazz soundtrack that I’ve seen from her in Darker than Black and Cowboy Bebop. Instead, here, we get EPIC orchestral scores, with beautiful string work and special emphasis on the cello (used to be a cellist, so it’s always great for me to hear the instrument used so well) and excellent choral arrangements.
The OP is sung by Maaya Sakamoto, Hitomi’s seiyuu, and is just a lovely ballad (well, waltz, actually, it is in 3/4 time) in general. It’s always a good thing when I don’t skip through the OP, and it’s even better when I sing along to it; I did this every episode. The ED is a more stereotypical upbeat JPop number done by a guy instead of a girl, and was very easily skippable.
Seiyuu: This series is chock full of good seiyuu. Hitomi was Maaya Sakamoto’s (famous for her work as Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club and Aeris Gainsborough in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children) debut role, and her singing of the OP was her first work singing. Besides Ms. Sakamoto, Jouji Nakata (famous for his roles as the Count in Gankutsuou and Alucard in Hellsing) appears as Folken, and Juurouta Kosugi (famous for his roles as Akio in Revolutionary Girl Utena and Fernand d’Morcerf in Gankutsuou) appears as Dryden.
As for the other seiyuu, the voices fit well, and were acted well, which is all I ask for.
Length: Twenty-six episodes makes the series feel a bit pushed for time. Having the full run of 39 episodes probably would have helped this in the long run, and especially given it some time to breathe. Any shorter, though, and it just wouldn’t have worked.
Overall: Escaflowne has an excellent story and characters, a well-built and animated world, excellent seiyuu and beautiful music. It has a few flaws, mainly from the compressed schedule it was given to air in, and the occasional forgetting of characters but, nonetheless, is a very solid series. It’s not a ZOMG favorite series for me, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good series.
Overall: 41/50; 82% (B)
So I’ve been patiently watching the series mainly because I have nothing else to do, and tbh I quite enjoyed the first half of the series. And then they lost me. I mean it’s a fantasy anime, so a fair bit of leeway has to be given to the plot. I can make my peace with the hidden power of fate that the MC uses. I can deal with the mana-mechanical transformer-bots in a medieval setting. Hell, I can even swallow the uber ridiculous goal of the antagonist to control fate, and in corollary, control the world. Classic Villain. Pretty easy to swallow. Then it got weird.
There are a bunch of reasons I pretty much hated the series.
1. The antagonists are a fucking joke. First there’s Dornkirk who is our classic villain in the shadows, pulling the strings, laughing his evil laugh, who not surprisingly at all started out helping people. His goal is to create a world without war. Now thats very ambitious. More ambitious is his chosen method of accomplishing this goal i.e. controlling fate. You would think that he would take some kind of care in choosing his generals and inner circle.
Which brings me to Folken. Seriously dude? You joined his Hitler-esque cause because you didn’t want to kill a dragon? Yeah I know, thats not what happened, but take a moment to think about his actual motivation for joining up with Dornkirk. There really isn’t any. I mean I get why the fortune twins fell for Folken, they were half cat so it makes sense for them to unconditionally love the person who saved them. Folken’s origin story makes me believe his Draconian mother had intimate relations with a fucking cocker spaniel, because in the end he’s basically a rescue.
AND WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH THIS DILANDAU CHARACTER? I mean seriously. His only motivation to do anything is “I have a boo boo on my cheek and I must destroy the one who did it and anyone in the way of accomplishing my boo boo revenge”. Really man? Is that all there is to you considering how many fucking times you battled the MC?
2. Which brings me to my second point. I don’t like to be masturbated without the pleasure of a climax. Van has a hard-on for murdering every minor baddie, but for whatever reason when it comes to Dilandau his sword needs Viagra to function. Not to mention Hitomi’s nagging also starts ONLY when Dilandau’s close to death. Why? Why is this barely one dimensional character still alive in the 3rd act of the series? Even the final plot twist with this character…WHY? And more importantly HOW? His condition just resolves itself because….profit? This character gave me the biggest murder boner simply because the writers wouldn’t kill the little bitch off and kept teasing till the very end.
And after all that “cold as ice” acting , Folken’s heart suddenly melts? Because his two pussy cats died? Why? Did I miss something? What was your motivation to join Dornkirk ? What was your motivation in leaving him? Were you sleeping while he slaughtered the first few million people, or did it really take your pussy dying for you to regain your empathy? WTF? THIS, if any of the characters from the antagonists should have been the final conflict. Instead, the writers pussy out and turn him into a good guy at the end. Its pathetic. I bet a nun could jerk me off better than this piece of shit anime.
3. Then there’s… Luck enhanced soldiers made by transfusing synthetic blood created from splicing the genes of the luckiest people…….
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!? WHY NOT A FUCKING SPELL? ITS A MAGICAL WORLD!!! A SPELL WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE BELIEVABLE!!!
Unless you’re as nit picky as me, you probably won’t notice, but the mythology and the world design is in a clash in this anime. Much of it is ok, since we waste most of our time with the bland and often interchangeable characters, but for the most part…ehhh…the world isn’t believable as either fantasy or science fiction.
4. The two main characters finally fall in love. This love is strong. Its history is epic. It will become a tale retold in many forms. It had the power to overcome fate. There was nothing in the way of the two lovers making a life together. Theirs was a perfect ending. “Well, I have go back to Earth for absolutely no reason at all and pine for my lover for the rest of my life” – Hitomi.
In conclusion, I’ve definitely seen animes with worse characters, story mechanics, mythology and plot. Credit where credit’s due. It isnt the worst thing out there, but make sure you don’t watch this anime when you actually have the time to watch it. Watch it while you study for a test or something like that. Keep it in the background so you don’t notice the flaws, and you only see the magical transformer robots and furries. At least that way you won’t pull your hair out from the frustrating stupidity that is Escaflowne.
The first thing about this series that earned it a point in my favor was the wholeness and realness of the characters. Hitomi, the protagonist, in particular earned my approval because she, unlike most anime females, seems very realistic. She’s not the stereotypical "cutesy" girl (God, but I do hate those), nor is she overly self-sacrificing; she’s not one of those violence prone angry chicks, nor is she the tough loner, she’s not a goober who’s always eating, nor is she a femme fatale; she’s just a high school girl growing up in stages with a strong moral code. She’s someone I can imagine meeting if I walk down the street, which, after being innundated with the above stereotypical anime females, is very refreshing. Granted, there are many people who dislike Hitomi greatly, but I feel that she’s a strong character and that many of her actions, if you take the time to really imagine yourself in her situation, are reasonable, or at the least, understandable.
Aside form Hitomi, there are many other chracters involved in the story, each having their own personalities and unique stories. You’ve got Allen, the valiet bishounen knight, who is a bit strung up on the old ways of chivalry, Dilandau, the bloodthirsty psychopathic young general, Van, the moody and quiet crown prince, and a variety of other characters. The characters are so well done that it’s easy to fall in love with even the minor ones such as Gaddes, Allen’s right hand man.
The art style is very good given it’s time period. It is a bit older though, so don’t expect graphics like those of today found in animes such as Full Metal Alchemist and Air. The colors are a bit duller, but that only serves to enhance the overall rustic feeling of the anime.
The musical score for the series is fantastic. The emotions of a scene are captured superbly based solely on the ochestra rhythms. The openning theme is one of my favorites. The ending is a bit odd, but it grows on you. The ending also seems somewhat out of place as it has a sort of slowish techno-pop feel to it.
The main genres are romance and fantasy, but there is also a splash of the mecha realm thrown in. Unlike most mecha animes, the mechs in this are powered by the fantastical powers of dragon heart stones, hydrolics, and mechanical sytems. Their subesquent design is unique and intruiging. While seemingly low tech (the world in which Hitomi falls is not really technologically advanced and has a middle ages feel to it), the mechs are actually impressive bits of machinary. The floating fortresses and air ships, powered by magical stones, are also of interest.
There is not much humor to be found. Given that the story takes place in a world in the thros of war, this is understanable. It is not overwhelmingly, depressingly serious though. They do not make a point of expressing the darkest vices of human nature like Beserk or Elfen Lied. However, the anime does examine the destructiveness of greed, cowardess, hatred, and the problems associated with pursuing science for the sake of science. So, if you’re a fan of the overly goofy or light-hearted series, this one is likely not for you. It is also not likely for you if you’re an action fiend that requires an explosion or hand-to-hand fight every ten seconds. This one is mainly for fantasy/romance (but not the teenaged angst romance or the ten girls single guy romance) types.
One of the main themes of the anime is the conflict of fate versus free will. It makes some very intersting conclusions about how one’s free will affects not only one’s self but all of those around one.
I adored the bizarre twists presented at the end and highly recommend this. At least watch the first three or four episodes to give it a try. The only thing that will disappoint you is the fact that there’s not more of it.
7: Wolf’s Rain
English: Wolf’s Rain
MAL Score: 7.81
In a dying world, there exists an ancient legend: when the world ends, the gateway to paradise will be opened. This utopia is the sole salvation for the remnants of life in this barren land, but the legend also dictates that only wolves can find their way to this mythical realm. Though long thought to be extinct, wolves still exist and live amongst humans, disguising themselves through elaborate illusions.
A lone wolf named Kiba finds himself drawn by an intoxicating scent to Freeze City, an impoverished town under the rule of the callous Lord Orkham. Here, Kiba discovers that wolves Hige, Tsume, and Toboe have been drawn in by the same aroma. By following the fragrance of “Lunar Flowers,” said to be the key to opening the door to their ideal world, the wolves set off on a journey across desolate landscapes and crumbling cities to find their legendary promised land. However, they are not the only ones seeking paradise, and those with more sinister intentions will do anything in their power to reach it first.
The music was composed by Yoko Kanno, which means I might not have to say anymore, but I will. All her work is magnificent, but this may be some of her best. Insert songs and orchestration are beautiful as standalone but absolutely MAKE the emotional moments too. It’s a wonderful soundtrack to listen to without the anime, but it never overwhelms the story either, matching the action onscreen beat for beat.
In terms of voice acting, the Japanese is a solid listen, but also, Wolf’s Rain has one of the best dubs ever made. There’s not one askew line in the whole package, and what’s more, while I usually use this time to mention the standout players of the cast, I can’t even do that for Wolf’s Rain. Every single voice actor goes beyond the call of duty in their roles, all of them. Even some of the extras leave a strong impression in their five-minutes in the spotlight. This dub is perfect.
So the production values are top dog, but the real important things are story and characters, right? Well, that’s where your mileage may vary. Some people will shout, “This is brilliant!” only to be echoed by others saying “Uh…what is?”
Wolf’s Rain takes place in a complex fantasy world with a rich history, but doesn’t feel like sharing any of that history with the class directly. This is good because that leads to greater focus on the characters, and almost NO exposition spouting. Speaking of the characters, they all start out as flat archetypes and slowly flesh out into very complex personalities, which is kinda different. Still, this approach of showing very little and telling far less really forces you to think and catch fine details in order to understand why wolves are considered divine, what makes the nobles different from normal human beings, and most importantly, just what happened 200 years ago to make the world what it is in the story. It is possible to figure it all out, but it’s NOT easy.
This is because, and this is a little known fact about the show, Wolf’s Rain is an allegory, whereby most everything is actually symbolic of something else. Pilgrim’s Progress was a religious allegory, The Little Prince was a sociological allegory, and Wolf’s Rain is both, but not as obvious as either of them. The show cross-references several religions and mythologies to portray a unified theme. The wolves face trials of doubt, despair, mistrust, confusion and even a false paradise that offers bliss in exchange for identity, and this is in addition to the villains that hound them. The humans in the story struggle with issues of self-worth, denial, choosing comfort over facing the truth, etc., all leading up to a whizbang climax featuring one noble’s idea of the “perfect city for humans.” Think Brave New World or 1984.
The thing I like about this approach is that it’s subliminal. It’s not like Evangelion or Lain where you know there’s this big philosophy being waggled at you, you may not recognize any of the references in Wolf’s Rain, but its powerful message gets through just fine without mentioning a hedgehog’s dilemma or a god in the Wired. Simply put, Wolf’s Rain is powerful and it will make you think, but you’ll get even more out of it if you’ve say, read Revelation or know anything about Shinto animal symbolism, but the writers don’t expect you to. I learned a lot more about the show after I did some research, but I only researched because it was already fascinating.
If there’s a problem with Wolf’s Rain, it’s the infamous recaps. There are four completely useless recap episodes right in the middle of the show together, and I still don’t know why they are there. Still, this isn’t much of a detriment as all four of them can be skipped without missing any new info. And if you’re buying the DVDs, they’re all on one disc by themselves! Unless you’re a masochist, don’t buy the disc.
In the end, though, even if you want to turn your brain off and be a little confused while you watch, the outward beauty and emotional resonance of the series cannot be denied, even in its fairly controversial conclusion. I’ve watched it through several times now and every single time I discover something new and profound. It’s pure magic, it will make you cry, but I hope in the end you’ll be howling-happy.
All in all, I almost pulled this series down a level because of its slightly alienating religious themes and focus on animals instead of humans, but then I thought, how can I punish a show for being both incredibly deep and refreshingly different? It may not be perfect, and I can’t promise you’ll like it, but it is a quality work of art amongst anime and a whole new breed of fantasy.
*THIS IS A PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF MY VIDEO REVIEW WHICH CAN BE FOUND HERE:
Thanks for reading!
Take first, the main character Kiba. He has a goal and he’ll do anything to reach it. But he has two distinct sides to his character. One is his proud, rash, and arrogant self that attacks anything that stands in his way. And the other is a quiet, mysterious, and observing type that is expressed when meeting new friends (For instance, when he was reluctant to say his name to Hige) and whenever he is around Cheza. Though not technically the sorrowful character one would expect him to be in an orphaned and lonely state, he still makes sad connections to his past.
As this was an anime before it became a manga series, BONES (the same company that made Fullmetal Alchemist) had unlimited freedom on where to go with the series. Except for a few “flashback” or “clip” episodes in the middle of the series, there is almost no filler and the pacing of each episode is excellent. The animation is amazing (as expected of BONES) and the music just as well. Beautiful orchestral music is played throughout the series, and, unique to most anime, the opening and ending themes are in perfect English (as are other soundtracks songs during the actual show).
The main story follows an unusual cast of characters, most of which are not even human. Kiba and his crew are all wolves with the power to create the illusion that they are human (though it is not perfect as their shadows and pawprints are still shown through). There are also the typical human characters, like the greedy Dracia that wants Paradise to himself and a pair of lovers that rekindle their relationship through hardship. Plus there’s also the ghost of a cryptic owl that gives advice in proverbs. (Whether or not this is a Legend of Zelda reference is still beyond me)
But there is never a time when an anime can be perfect. There are still plot-holes within Wolf’s Rain. Mainly the ending: It’s open-ended and leaves more to be desired. But as a more thought-provoking series, the ending does its job… Kind of. But besides a few odd turns, Wolf’s Rain is good at creating plot twists. And BONES was so confident about the series that most episodes don’t even end in a cliffhanger. They just find a natural stopping point.
Overall, Wolf’s Rain is an enjoyable series if you love wolves, action, the supernatural, and beautiful music. Though don’t expect it to be happy or provide fan-service.
When I look back at it, I honestly believe that the characters just followed common stereotypes, and really didn’t evolve throughout the plot. The supporting characters were able to garner a little interest from me, but the lead was dull and drab, and the only dialogue I can remember from him is “we have to get to paradise”. A lead character is supposed to get a viewer emotionally attatched, not bore the viewer to tears.
Then there is the plot. Basically it follows a rather dull and drawn out journey to find the wolves “Paradise”, with a few twists and turns along the way. As the characters personalities barely evolve through the course of their journey, the plot becomes tedious, and I found myself not caring at all about the characters and their journey after a few episodes.
Then, there is the final act. To me, the last few episodes feel rushed and poorly thought out, and the story reaches a conclusion where there is no reward for patiently watching the show in its entirety. The show ended on a very vague and sour note, and had kept me in an irritated state for a fair while.
Despite not enjoying the overall plot and the characters, the sound and animation quality of this anime is great. I still find myself listening to pieces of the score to this day to fuel my imagination, which I am very grateful for. I watched the dubbed version, and the voice acting throughout was done well enough. I still despise that opening song, Strays, or whatever it was called, just not my cup of tea.
In conclusion, if more thought was put into the character development and plot, Wolf’s Rain could have potentially been a great anime in my eyes. The shows concept really interested me, and I wanted to like the show, but it sadly didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
English: Space Dandy
MAL Score: 7.88
The universe is a mysterious and strange place, full of even stranger and more mysterious aliens. Dandy’s job is to hunt down unclassified aliens and register them for a reward. It sounds easy enough, but something weird always seems to happen along the way, like chance meetings with zombies, mystical ramen chefs, and adorable orphans. Hunting down aliens may not be easy, but it’s definitely never boring.
With the help of his sidekicks, the adorable robot vacuum QT and cat-like alien Meow, and his slightly-used ship the Aloha Oe, Dandy roams the galaxy searching for new alien species. What he usually finds, however, is adventure, danger, and romance, and no two journeys (or universes) are ever the same. This is Space☆Dandy, baby!
But instead, Space Dandy has one good episode and is mired by tons of flat humor, a whole load of boring to bad episodes, and overusing Boobies as a humor device.
1.) Great Animation and Soundtrack- Seriously, Space Dandy looks sexy as hell. From the retro character designs to the whacky aliens to the trippy worlds, Space Dandy is a great acid trip. Many episodes have a unique style from the others. The plant episode and the library episode did a good job of providing a unique enough experience to be memorable as far as the animation is concerned, though flat lined in every other department. The soundtrack is also brilliant, with tons of the flair and flavor we can expect from the people who brought us Bebop and Samurai Champloo.
2.) Some Good Ideas- Some of the episodes contained good ideas that weren’t capitalized on, or would have been awesome if they were fleshed out. Space Dandy is definitely smart somewhere, but the execution is so poor and the episodes so devoid of any of the humor or entertainment that it is supposed to provide. The references to classic sci-fi tropes and movies are great nods to the classics Dandy attempts to emulate, and those occasionally provide humor, but, for the most part, episodes as a whole fall apart.
3.) That One Good Episode- The only good episode in the series is the one that makes fun of Disney’s copyright laws and also has one of the best space races I’ve ever seen. This is episode seven; an episode that I will think of anytime anyone mentions Space Dandy. It’s a fantastic episode. Watch it and avoid the rest. The rest sucks.
1.) Uninteresting and Unfunny Characters- The first episode Dandy is a pretty cool character and you think, “Damn, they’re gonna do some awesome things with him”. But they never do. His character is as stagnant as the rest of the series and he’s never particularly funny. Most of the jokes surrounding him are way too juvenile and overused to elicit even a chuckle. Boobies was funny the first time, but by the twelfth episode, it’s downright annoying. And this lack of comedy can be found in QT, whose autotuned voice makes sense, but isn’t a great design choice in the long run. Meow is also uninteresting as a character.
And then there’s a bad guy, Commodore Perry, who chases them around for some reason or other. The character’s just don’t provide anything worth mentioning to the table.
2.) Decent Enough Plot to Work With, Uninteresting Execution- You see me use the word “uninteresting” a lot because that about sums up Space Dandy. The setup, Dandy is searching for never before seen aliens in order to obtain a bounty, is pretty cool. But the execution is so boring. He goes to a planet where two aliens fight over the ultimate clothing. He returns a lost library book. There’s an alien that shape shifts, there’s a plant planet. The animation and style for every one of these episodes is fantastic and the still shots are goddam beautiful but I can’t watch a comedy anime for its formalism. And maybe if this anime were not a comedy I would rate it higher, but that’s what it wants to be, and that’s what I’ll treat it as.
3.) So Much Wasted Potential, Baby- What I ultimately hate this anime for is wasting so much potential. I can’t emphasize enough the amount of good ideas that went into Space Dandy that are wasted by poor writing, directing, and characters. I can see where this could be funny, and it does provide the occasional chuckle, but it’s so much better taken as abstract sci-fi than a comedy. Maybe if you were high this show would work, but as it stands, Space Dandy is just poor.
Sigh. Space Dandy, Space Dandy, Space Dandy. Wasted potential central. It feels so much like Kids on the Slope, another anime made by director Shinichiro Watanabe. It is set up so well, but fails in every way except animation and music. After Cowboy Bebop, I think Watanabe decided to go style over substance, which tends not to work for me, especially in a comedy series. As I said, if this had been a formalistic sci-fi anime (with occasional comedy elements), it would have worked better. But as a comedy, it fails miserably. It’s unfunny, has terrible characters, and is begging for a better team to handle it.
Watch episode seven. But pass up the rest.
Space Dandy is perhaps most recognisable for being Shinichiro Watanabe’s most recent project. There is a noticeable Cowboy Bebop influence here, but at the same time it feels like the antithesis of what Bebop represents. Space Dandy is all sorts silly and zany. There never seems to be a moment where the show takes itself seriously, and even when it appears to, there is usually some joke waiting at the end. There are no deep messages to be extracted from the episodes. It never aims to be anything more than simple fun– and it works for that very reason.
The story follows the adventures of space greaser Dandy, a cat-like creature named… ‘Meow’, and the ship’s cleaning robot, QT. The three spend their days lazing about while occasionally hunting for rare aliens to fetch them a nice price on market. They are incredibly inept at their job, lacking in any form of intelligence, and everything, always, goes terribly wrong in some way or another.
Space Dandy follows an episodic format, although I don’t believe the term is entirely appropriate as ‘episodic’ implies continuity in some form. There is absolutely no continuity in Space Dandy. Zero. The main characters might die at the end of an episode and then it will casually roll the credits before showing them alive and healthy in the next episode. The character development is essentially nil as a result. Dandy and the rest aren’t characters that you will ever find yourself emotionally attached to, but that’s actually okay. Focusing solely on the comedy is what allows it to work. Drama would never be able to exist in the bizarre world of Space Dandy- at least not without seeming entirely out-of-place. Even deus ex machina (and they are aplenty) are intentionally used for comedic purposes. The show just doesn’t give a damn about being taken seriously.
Everything about Space Dandy oozes charm. The setting is reminiscent of a 1950’s vision of the future, with ray guns, greaser slang and antiquated technology. The episodes themselves deal with every prominent sci-fi trope (time loops, wormholes, zombies, sentient AI) in a fun manner. There is always something different each episode, though some are certainly much weaker than others. A few of them are honestly dull enough to put the viewer to sleep, while others, like the episode involving Meow’s family, are nothing short of greatness. There’s unfortunately no consistency to the quality of the episodes- an issue that seems to be common in episodic comedies.
The shameless fanservice is the show’s one major flaw. There’s nothing wrong with an adult character having an interest in women (or more specifically, boobs), but Dandy’s obsession verges from perversion to outright debauchery. An equivalent to Hooters, named “Boobies” in the show (really!) is frequently present. Boobies this, Boobies that. Dandy’s entire reason for existence is to go to Boobies and ogle all the big-breasted blondes that walk about. Every time he visits, there are close-up cleavage or ass-shots of the girls. When he is not there, he hits on every female in sight; human or alien, it doesn’t matter to him. There is no problem with shows that are mature enough to embrace sexuality as a normal part of human nature, but this maturity is nowhere to be seen in Space Dandy. Its obsession with women resembles a starving 12-year-old who just reached puberty rather than something of a grown adult. The fanservice has its place, but there is no reason for it to exist to this extent. It’s just uncomfortable.
Space Dandy has some of the best art seen in a television anime for years. The first episode looks absolutely stellar, on-par with big-budget series such as Shingeki no Kyojin and not too far behind films such as Redline. The animation does take a dip in the later episodes but its quality always remains well above the average anime. Space Dandy gives a great deal of attention to its action scenes by animating them in full. Most anime studios decide to take the shortcut approach with panning shots (or just plain bad animation), which makes Space Dandy’s visuals all the more commendable. The animators could have taken the lazy way out, but they did not.
The sound is average; nothing noteworthy. Most scenes are accompanied by ambient sounds in order to convey a distinct sci-fi atmosphere. A few scenes, like the battle between QT and a giant robot, and Dandy taking care of an alien child, have more noticeable music, but these moments are all too rare. The opening track is much more interesting, performed by what I would describe as “Japanese Bloc Party”. It encapsulates the quirky charm of the series.
If you have ever found yourself bored by the homogeneity of the anime industry, or simply want to watch something fun and silly, Space Dandy is an anime definitely deserving of your time. There’s an undeniable sense of childishness to the fanservice, and sure, not every episode is a massive joy to watch, but there is rarely a moment that makes you wish you were watching something else instead. It dared to be different and it succeeded. If only more anime took from Space Dandy’s example.
Being a very experimental anime, each episode (this is an episodic anime in case you weren’t clear) is unique and quirky, but each and every one of them have a common factor – they are amazing fun. Comedy is the main point of Space Dandy, and it has been handled exteremely well throughout the series. This might not seem to be the case at first (the show opens with boob jokes), but some of the jokes here are really unique, and the delivery is often top notch. I will not go into much detail in order to avoid spoilers, but in my opinion the first few episodes really aren’t that good and in my opinion the weakest point of the series, so if you find yourself not liking the show much I urge you to continue to give it a chance – it is definitely worth it.
A very common complain with the show is its lack of an overall plot. I personally don’t find any problem with this, and think that some of the greatest shows have been like that. (Mushishi being my best example) Whilst there have been hints that there is something bigger at play, whether it will evolve into something is not certain. So if you are one of those who doesn’t like shows which don’t have a strong overall plot, this might not be the show for you.
The characters are, simply put, outstanding. Whilst Dandy might seem annoying at first with all of his boob jokes and stuff like that, he is undoubtedly a character that will simply win you over throughout the course of the series with his over the top, contagious stupidity and antics. There is also sufficient development in the series despite it simply being episodic, and it weaves the backstories of the characters very well into its episodes. Meow’s (episode 10) was done particularly well in my opinion. And QT is simply hilarious.
The visuals pretty good, and certain episodes do take on certain different (wierd) art styles. I think that they are used pretty well and I love how they are used to tell the story. Episode 11 springs to mind as one which used a very interesting art style to tell a even more interesting story, and I think the show is capable of utilizing creative visuals at times to help reinforce the plot.
Amazing OP and ED, fitting use of music in scenes. I have little experience in music so I won’t comment much on it, but I felt that the overall usage of sound was very effective in my viewing of the anime. Loved the voice acting (note that I am watching the jap version of the show so I don’t know how the dub sounds) and feel that it fits perfectly to every character.
Overall, Space Dandy is hilarious, amazing, and overall a great pleasure to watch. It does start off with some weak episodes, but when it gets going, the stories are simply some of the best. Looking forward to when it returns after the break (its split cour!), and hopefully it continues to pump out these amazing episodes, and maybe even connect the dots and reveal that an overall plot (Not really neccessary, but I think it would be cool!) Highly recommended by me, with an overall score of 9/10.
English: SK8 the Infinity
Japanese: SK∞ エスケーエイト
MAL Score: 8.04
High school student Reki Kyan is passionate about one thing: skateboarding. When night falls, he heads to “S,” an illegal underground race inside a mine where skaters compete in highly dangerous situations. After a loss that results in his skateboard being destroyed and his arm being broken, Reki is now incapable of practicing at all.
While working, Reki runs into his new classmate, Langa Hasegawa, a half-Canadian and half-Japanese boy with no skateboarding experience whatsoever. Langa is in desperate need of money. After they both visit “S” when tasked by Reki’s boss, they get into trouble and are forced into a bet that requires Langa to skate in a race. However, the mysterious transfer student holds a trump card that Reki is unaware of, one which might help him win the race in the most unexpected way.
This review includes spoilers!
So, first of all I have to say: I’m absolutely disappointed. This anime wasted it’s whole potential.
It starts of really nice, I liked Reki and Langa, even though they are a bit cliche but that didn’t bother me much. Later some other characters were introduced, I especially liked Cherry and Joe.
The anime first focuses a lot on Reki and Langa and skating in general.
I myself have no clue about skateboarding so I don’t know whether “S” is realistic or not but I was fine with it because it was kinda fun to watch the “beefs”. But then a certain someone showed up to ruin the mood.
I don’t know what the creators were thinking when they planned Adam but this guy ruined the whole anime in my opinion. He is a really, really bad copy of Hisoka from HxH and he is one of the cringiest characters I’ve ever seen. His blabbering about marrying Langa and finding his Eve was so hard to watch, I cringed every time he opened his mouth. Also his whole behaviour was just ridiculous (I mean, hitting someone with your damn skateboard has nothing to do with skating anymore).
He is one of the most unnecessary and worst written antagonists I’ve ever came across (he is nearly as unnecessary as the red haired police officer, like, why was she even there?) And he RUINED the whole anime.
Also something that bothered me were the people who are watching the beefs because they give a shit about Cherry getting hit by Adam with his damn skateboard, because he is to “boring” in Adams opinion (tf dude).
I also want to mention Adam’s… secretary (I guess? I already forgot his name lmao) because what is wrong with this dude? He is treated like shit by Adam (he calls him dog and it didn’t bother the secretary at all) and his only purpose is to bring a bit of “tension” into the tournament and a “sad backstory” for Adam.
What I kinda liked was the “arc” focusing on Reki after he realised he is nothing special in comparison to Langa. I know this feeling very well and I could empathize with him easily. I also liked that he didn’t overcame this feeling within one episode and actually needed some time.
One more thing I liked was the whole dynamic between Cherry and Joe.
The last episode was just a cringefest and they didn’t spare with cliches. Suddenly Langa makes Adam realise that skating is about fun and not only competing (who would have seen that coming?! Lmao) and they are all best buddies now. Aha.
Overall the anime is full of unrealistic scenarios, bad written characters and a lacking plot (well, if you could call it plot…).
I would have been totally fine watching Reki and Langa imrpove, competing with “normal” characters and Rekis down phase. That would have been enough…
I wouldn’t recommend this anime to anyone (and btw I don’t get it how this anime has an overall score of 8.13. I don’t know if my standards are too high or these of the other people too low lmao).
Yeah, that’s it. Thanks for reading^^
Needless to say, it’s not exactly grounded in realism. Characters often pull off skateboarding moves that break the laws of physics. One character rides an electronic AI skateboard that calculates wind speed. Another salsa dances on his skateboard while its going downhill at 80 miles per hour.
Despite the over-the-top way the show handles the skateboarding side of things, it nails the real-ness of its character relationships. The chemistry between the main cast is incredibly believable. They feel like a real-life group of friends with their own inside jokes and habits. The best episodes in this series are the ones featuring the gang just hanging out and having fun together. It feels authentic. Plus, there’s great character development, not only for the two main leads, but for a majority of the cast.
– This show’s villain is literally is literally just skateboarding Dio. (Same voice actor and everything.)
– Good character development for LOTS of cast members!
– It’s funny. I laughed out loud a lot.
– Great sound and art, the show really fits the skateboarding ‘vibe’
– Actually deals with some kinda heavy emotional themes like dealing with insecurities and feelings of inadequacy
– It’s just fun to watch. I had fun the whole time.
– There’s a recap episode in the middle that contributes nothing to the story
– There are no badass skateboarding women. There are like 3 speaking female characters, and none of them play a huge role in the story.
– I feel like this show can’t decide whether it wants to be gay or not. Maybe I’m reading into this because this show is by the same director as Banana Fish (which was definitely gay.) Sk8 features close relationships between several male members of the main cast, and sometimes seems to vaguely ‘imply’ the presence of something more than bromance, but it doesn’t commit either way. I wouldn’t mind if it did pair up some guys, and I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t, but choosing to present their relationships as ambiguous bothered me.
The script for SK∞ has a casual tone that is easy to catch, with the inclusion of comedy overtones that, without being recursive, is effective. But undoubtedly one of the production’s greatest strengths is the artistic rendering and technical effort on Bones’ part. Because building a current fiction from the foundations of an urban culture alien to current times would not be easy if it weren’t for the excellent work of photography, color, music and artistic direction in general, which give the set a great appeal and special magnetism. Special mention, of course, to the special level of detail and display in terms of animation, with interesting camera exercises and kinesthesia in the races, offering excellent quality levels that have very little to envy to similar cut products.
SK∞ is a sincere proposal that does not seek to be elusive, since it is very clear about what to offer and where to aim. His treatment of skate culture is as engaging as it is eccentric, and the dynamics between his characters make it incredibly easy and organic to want to follow their learning and see how far they are capable of going not necessarily to win, but to feel good about themselves. Hiroko Utsumi’s work transmits passion and fun with a treatment that I wish was seen more often: that of humility, that of enjoying without the need to achieve great feats.
4: Fullmetal Alchemist
English: Fullmetal Alchemist
MAL Score: 8.13
Edward Elric, a young, brilliant alchemist, has lost much in his twelve-year life: when he and his brother Alphonse try to resurrect their dead mother through the forbidden act of human transmutation, Edward loses his brother as well as two of his limbs. With his supreme alchemy skills, Edward binds Alphonse’s soul to a large suit of armor.
A year later, Edward, now promoted to the fullmetal alchemist of the state, embarks on a journey with his younger brother to obtain the Philosopher’s Stone. The fabled mythical object is rumored to be capable of amplifying an alchemist’s abilities by leaps and bounds, thus allowing them to override the fundamental law of alchemy: to gain something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of equal value. Edward hopes to draw into the military’s resources to find the fabled stone and restore his and Alphonse’s bodies to normal. However, the Elric brothers soon discover that there is more to the legendary stone than meets the eye, as they are led to the epicenter of a far darker battle than they could have ever imagined.
Isn’t it strange then, that such a well known human trait can so easily be mistaken for something else entirely?
Or is it simply a case of people not seeing what they don’t want to see, especially if there something new and shiny to watch?
Many anime fans are currently raving about the new series of Full Metal Alchemist, especially as it is an almost direct adaptation of the manga, however in the light of all this new found glory, the original adaptation has become the topic of much debate and controversy, especially by those who once praised the show for being something … a little different.
Now unlike many, the fact that the original adaptation didn’t follow the manga for much of its run was something that I wasn’t overly concerned about, and there’s a very good reason for this too. One of the issues I had with the manga, and in turn Brotherhood, was the fact that the tale is far more “shounen” than the original adaptation, and this difference in not only plot and story content, but overall perspective as well, is noticeable in a number of areas.
As far as pacing, plot, and depth of story goes, Full Metal Alchemist does lose out somewhat to Brotherhood, however this is partly due to the fact that Arakawa Hiromu had far more time to produce a story that worked, whereas the writers for the original adaptation only had part of Arakawa’s work to play with, and had to make up the rest.
Normally this would be the cause for a number of issues, not the least of which is continuity, however Full Metal Alchemist never really suffered from those except where the numerous, and unnecessary, comedy moments were included. That said, what the writers achieved was actually quite remarkable, as they produced a tale that is very clearly about one thing only – obsession – and in that respect, they actually managed to score quite a major coup over Arakawa’s tale.
Some of you may be a tad confused by where this is all going, but fear not, it will become clearer as we get into more detail. Let’s talk more about the actually show itself for a moment though.
In terms of looks, the original adaptation managed to transpose the characters fairly well, and while they didn’t really require any bouts of creativity in general, there were a few new faces as, at the time, the manga hadn’t actually introduced all the players. As for the various locations in which the characters find themselves, the first adaptation generally followed the path laid down by the manga, however there were also some surprisingly original and inventive additions to the various locales, many of which are unique to this particular adaptation.
Strangely enough though, the quality of the animation is almost the same as that of Brotherhood, and given the large degree of crossover in both adaptations, this is actually surprising as usually one version is greatly superior to the other. That said, the new series does have the advantage of seven years of improvements in animation, so one would be forgiven for thinking the margin between the two would be bigger.
Where sound and music are concerned, one might expect more pronounced differences between the two adaptations, however this is not the case. The selection of music for the first adaptation is actually very good throughout the series, and also gave rise to one of the catchiest opening themes in shounen anime – “Ready Steady Go” by L’Arc-en-Ciel. The aural effects are well chosen and choreographed, and while there are many occasions that feature frenetic clashes and lots of noise, care has generally been taken to modulate this to a level that won’t unnerve the viewer (admittedly there are some minor overwhelming moments, but they’re not really worth going into any detail as they don’t really affect the story in any way).
As for the acting, granted there are some different seiyuu between the two adaptations, but the series’ big guns are in force in both. That said, while there is some acting continuity between the two, the actual quality is a little better in Brotherhood, however this may be due to an increased familiarity with the characters, and also because Brotherhood is far more a straight forward shounen tale than the original adaptation- something which actually shows in the acting.
And now to the most interesting bit – the characters.
Unlike both the manga and Brotherhood, the original anime adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist featured some surprising and unique characters, not the least of which is Edward Elric himself.
But before we get into that though, let’s talk Homunculi.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the original series was the nomenclature given to the homunculi, and although their names and purpose have been “clarified” by the manga and Brotherhood, the writers for the original adaptation didn’t have this knowledge, so they actually made them work in a completely different way. The whole deal with the Seven Sins is very different in the first anime, as the writers used the homunculus to highlight the aspect of obsession throughout the series. This is why the first anime adaptation had them being “born” in a particular manner, rather than the more trite reasoning given in the manga and Brotherhood much later.
The homunculi are effectively born from the obsession of humans, a theme which is also present in Arakawa’s version of the story, even though it has been downplayed a lot.
So what does this have to do with the characters? Well, rather a lot actually. Throughout the whole series, there are very few characters who don’t show any of the visible signs that one would normally associate with obsessive behaviour, and this is because they’re cleverly hidden for the most part. From Maes Hughes’ constant babble about his daughter, to Winry’s love of automail. From Izumi Curtis’ longing for her baby, to Dante’s desire for immortality (incidentally, one has to wonder why that particular character was called Dante).
And right at the top of the list is Edward Elric.
In essence, his obsession with being better than his father is what starts the whole chain of events, which then turns to his obsession with the Philosopher’s Stone, and so on. The surprising thing though, is that Ed never actually lets go of his desires in the same manner that others who attempted human transmutation did, and there is actually proof of this too. One look at the manner of Alphonse Elric’s return to his body, as well as the nature of that return, will highlight just how very different this show is to Arakwa’s version, and how different the mentality is come the end.
And if you want more clarification on this, then feel free to ask.
The characters are actually pretty well developed throughout the series, and it’s a testament to the writer’s and seiyuu’s abilities that they turned out as well as they did. That’s not to say there aren’t any problems, however the flaws with the characters stem mainly from a difference in goals and perspective rather than any real lack of talent.
In all honesty, it’s difficult to decide which version is actually better as the differences in plot, theme and character development make this version and Arakawa’s two very different tales. That said, there will be those who fall on one side or the other, some preferring the darker nature of the first adaptation while others like the more direct approach of the manga and Brotherhood. Personally, I found both versions to be very good, especially as the route that Arakawa’s tale takes bears almost no resemblance to this one. While there are some broad similarities between the two in terms of locale, characters and basic plot, in actuality these are only skin deep, as the original adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist deviates quite a lot from the typical shounen sensibilities come the end of the series. The obsessive theme of the first adaptation is a far cry from what one is given in the manga and Brotherhood.
Regardless of which version one prefers though, the simple fact is that we, as anime fans, have been given two great takes on the story, and we should count ourselves lucky to have such a wealth as all too often we must suffer through mediocrity and crap just find some entertainment.
It just a shame that so many people feel the need to side with one version or the other …
Now I’m sure most of you already know the story. The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse attempt to bring back their mother and as a consequence for going against the law of equivalent exchange, Ed loses his right arm and left leg. And Alphonse loses his entire body to only have his soul become bonded to a suit of armor. With the help of their childhood friend Winery, she constructs an automail leg and arm for Ed. Soon, they learn about this special artifact known as the Philosophers stone, it has the ability to defy the laws of alchemy and perform the taboo known as human transmutation. Eventually they come to the conclusion that their best bet in hopes of finding the stone would be to join the military. Although, Ed is the only one who joins because he insisted on doing so. And so they embark on their journey. Along the way, the brothers encounter corrupt government officials, homunculi, chimeras and more.
As far as the story goes, it’s fantastic. Especially considering the fact that this anime is a shonen. FMA has a far more intricate and complex plot then shonens like One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto or Bleach. Thematically, it delves into area’s that you wouldn’t expect a show of its kind to do. What’s a life worth? An arm? A leg? An entire body? Can human’s play the role of god ? Should we even be allowed to play the role of god in the first place? Can we disrupt the flow of nature? So yeah, Fullmetal Alchemist is smarter then your average shonen!
Also, the setting of the anime takes place in a fictionalized version of early 20th century Europe during the industrial revolution. The majority of the show takes place in Amestris. A key part of the plot that I almost forgot to mention involves the neighboring nation of Ishval. Long ago, after the tragic incident of when an Amestrian officer shot an Ishvalan child in cold blood, a chaotic war erupted between the two nations. In the midst of the war, state alchemists were brought in to exterminate the Ishvalans through horrific acts of genocide. This is where the revenge driven Ishvalan named Scar comes in.
Speaking of characters, character wise, FMA is just as good. From Roy Mustang, to Riza Hawkeye, to the Elric brothers. All are given considerable amounts of depth. Take for example, the Elric brothers. Ed feels as if he got off easy because he still has his body and is burdened by this. Alphonse is constantly questioning his humanity, existence and whether or not he was a human to begin with ( his memory was erased when Ed bonded his soul to a suit of armor). And I just barely scratched the surface.
When it comes to the production values, yet again, this anime doesn’t disappoint. The animation is very crisp and fluid. It never lets up, character designs are good and remain consistent until the very end. The OST is also worth mentioning here. Michiru Oshima did a very good job. One track that stood out in particular was “Brothers.” Simply put, it was a beautifully done string instrumental over some harmonious Russian vocals. In regards to the opening and ending themes, they’re solid. Opening 4 was my personal favorite. Lastly, the voice acting. I’ll tell you right here and now that it is mandatory that you watch the dub instead of the sub. Why? Because, hands down without a doubt, Fullmetal Alchemist has one of the best dubs you’ll ever here in anime. It’s definitely one of Funimation’s best efforts. All the performances were fantastic from Vic Mignogna, to Aaron Dismuke, to Dameon Clarke, to Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of flaws here and there that prevent Fullmetal Alchemist from achieving perfection. Most notably the first 15 episode, these episodes were unevenly paced and it really didn’t get interesting until Scar showed up. Episodes 4, 5, 10-12 were completely unnecessary and felt very fillerish (I’m not sure but I think they were actually fillers, but don’t quote me on that).
Now of course, I can’t write a review without addressing the ending because it’s one of the reasons why anime fans have such a polarized reaction for this show. I personally liked the ending, it was very bitter sweet. It wasn’t like every other ending for a shonen where everything works out in the end and all the characters hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Plus there are no beach episodes (Jesus Christ, I f**kin hate those g**damn beach episodes in anime). Well, time to wrap this review up, all in all, FMA is an amazing anime. I highly recommend it to anime fans and non-anime fans alike.
I’m typing this review, and i wonder to myself, “Why am i doing this? What can i say about a show that’s been talked about to death?”, and you know what, i don’t exactly have a clear answer. Fullmetal Alchemist premiered a decade ago and is still to this day, one of the most beloved and well known anime of our recent generation. It’s so well known that talking about it almost seems redundant as about 90% of anime fans have already seen it, and if they haven’t seen it then they at least have heard of it, know the premise, and might even know some of the more shocking twists in it. But over the past few years, more and more people have begun to disregard it all thanks to a little thing called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, to the point where i’ve heard Brotherhood fans say to people on several occasions that they shouldn’t watch the original series and just go watch Brotherhood, which i answer to with a big, “Huh?”. But this isn’t about Brotherhood, i’ll cover that elephant in the room if i ever choose to do a review of it. No this is about the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime, and why if you haven’t already seen it, then you should check out as soon as possible.
As i said it’s almost pointless to sum up the plot that everybody already knows but, formulaic procedure wins. The story is about the two Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who try to use a blend of science and magic called alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead. Things go terribly wrong however, and in the process Edward loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body, being forced to fuse his soul with a body of armor to survive. They soon join the country’s militia, the state alchemist division to be precise, in order to search for a item of great power called the philosopher’s stone, in order to revive their bodies back to their original forms. The idea of two brothers setting off on a journey is already a concept that could fill an entire show, but then there’s also the story of the them joining the military and how their more childish outlook and views clash with the military’s actions, which is also enough to fill an entire show. But then there’s also the military itself and it’s mission to reform the country, and also the soldiers that wish to change the military to better the country, and then there’s the evil forces that the Elric brothers encounter with their own mission and backstory, and so on and so forth. Fullmetal Alchemist has enough plot lines to fill up 10 different anime, which could easily just make for a cluttered mess of ruined potential, but the story in Fullmetal Alchemist is a well written, perfectly paced, and air tight. But even so this seems like a lot for just a battle shounen, but you can’t really call it just a battle shounen as it seems like the show has just about every genre you can think of all in one. There’s action, adventure, comedy, drama, supernatural, super power, military, romance, mystery, thriller, horror, shock jock, fantasy, and sci fi, all in one. Once again, having so much in one show could easily be the death of it, but all of these genres are performed well and at just the right moments, even having them clash at times just to prove a point. And if that wasn’t enough, this show completes every plot point and every character saga, and still has room for filler. To some the concept of adding filler is a bad thing, but in this case i find being able to have filler more of a compliment than anything. If you haven’t gotten what’s good about the story of FMA from this, let me sum it up for you. Fullmetal Alchemist is an emotional, action packed, well written saga and above all, is fucking big, displaying a vast world of different cultures, inventions and religions that just sucks you in from the very beginning.
Fullmetal Alchemist was made by studio BONES and is probably the show most responsible for the seemingly endless pockets of money that the studio had for many years. But this was an early work, so it’s not exactly perfect. The show didn’t have all that much of a budget to work with, and there were times when it showed, inconsistent character designs, jagged edges, and one or two episodes in particular that looked fairly cheap. But the show is still overall a good looking show. What impressed me most was probably the shading in it and how perfectly it was used to represent different emotions and foreshadowing. The character facial designs also helped this, done well enough at times that two characters could just share a scene together, with zero dialogue, and in just one stare, convey all the emotions they need to get across. Of course this is a battle series, and you can tell that this is where a good chunk of the budget was spent, with fluid animation and splendid choreographing that kept your eyes firmly glued to the screen. Fullmetal Alchemist is a good looking show with some dents here and there, but the moments of brilliance shine right though.
The soundtrack is comprised completely of orchestral pieces, all of which compliment their scenes quite well. It’s in the background, always noticeable but never overpowering, a perfect accompaniment to the show. But, to tell the truth, nothing on the OST really sticks out on it’s own and it’s not really a soundtrack that you listen to on it’s own. A good soundtrack nonetheless but nothing spectacular. If i was only judging the sound based off the soundtrack then i’d probably only give it a 7 or 8 out of 10, but there’s one more important thing to talk about. The dub. This was an early Funimation show, but i’m guessing that they knew ahead of time how big the show would be, because they really brought their A game for it. Talking about Vic Mignogna as Edward Elric is almost as redundant as telling people about the plot to FMA, he’s great as the role, and it’s the number one reason why he has so many fangirls. Plus this was also the show that launched Travis Willingham’s career for his performance as Roy Mustang, which is well deserved. And i’d be remiss to not mention Christopher Sabbat’s performance as Major Alex Louise Armstrong who just does the role complete justice as though IT WAS A PERFORMANCE HANDED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS. There are plenty of other big names like Johnny Yong Bosch and Luci Christanson playing ver small roles which are always nice to hear. But the thing that really impressed me about the dub is that they had actual kids playing the kids including a 12 year old Aaron Dismuke doing a bang up job in his first performance as Alphonse Elric. It’s definitely a show worth checking out dubbed.
A story as big as Fullmetal Alchemist need a big cast, and not only is this cast supplied, but their also just as well written as the story itself. First off we have out two main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric. Edward is the prodigy of the two, the genius who often makes the decisions of what the two of them will do, which can proof to be disastrous at times, considering that with great intelligence and curiosity comes an overwhelming temptation to the dark side. He’s the one who decided to resurrect their mother, he’s the one who decides to join the military, and he’s the one who constantly has to struggle with doing the right thing and doing the things that most benefit them. But he’s still just a kid, and with so comes a certain naiveté towards things. He’s quick to learn from his mistakes and often feels guilt for what his actions have causes, and is driven with a strong determination to set things right, making him the ideal protagonist. Alphonse on the other hand is the philosopher, usually being the moral compass of the two and keeping his older brother grounded to the right side. Between the two brothers, he loses the most, but instead of being angry and bitter about it, is often friendly and optimistic and hates to see people suffer for his sake, giving him great guilt as well for what his brother has to go through for his sake. These are of course, only the two main characters, and Fullmetal Alchemist has nearly 40 supporting and recurring character, meaning characters that show up for more than two episodes and have a role in the overall plot. And you know what, each and every one of them is left unresolved. Like the story, the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are memorable, well written, and big. But the most important thing that these characters do in the series, is acknowledge and represent the importance of family bonds, from the relationship between the Elric brothers, to the relationship between the military soldiers, and event he weird relationship between the Homunculi of the series that form their own little family in a way. From the arrogant but gentle hearted Colonel Roy Mustang, to the incredibly manly glittering Major Alex Louise Armstrong, to the Homunculi that oppose the Elric brothers, all of the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are fleshed out and memorable.
Enjoyment and Overall (10/10)
In case you haven’t been able to tell, i love Fullmetal Alchemist, very few series have made me love them this much. I’m not really sure what i can say about this series that i haven’t already said. It’s an epic tale of love, determination, and passion that every one should check out. We never needed a movie, the series ended fine on it’s own, and just because Brotherhood now exists, doesn’t mean we should disregard this series, personal tastes aside. Fullmetal Alchemist is a series that is completely on par with the original manga and proof that a series doesn’t need fidelity to succeed. I’ll leave off with this quote, which is technically from Brotherhood but screw it, it works.
“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson. They just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although, if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you will find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yes…a heart that’s Fullmetal.”
3: Ouran Koukou Host Club
English: Ouran High School Host Club
MAL Score: 8.18
Haruhi Fujioka is a bright scholarship candidate with no rank or title to speak of—a rare species at Ouran Academy, an elite school for students of high pedigree. When she opens the door to Music Room #3 hoping to find a quiet place to study, Haruhi unexpectedly stumbles upon the Host Club. Led by the princely Tamaki Suou, the club—whose other members include the “Shadow King” Kyouya Ootori; the mischievous Hitachiin twins, Kaoru and Hikaru; the childlike Mitsukuni Haninozuka, also known as “Honey”; and his strong protector Takashi “Mori” Morinozuka—is where handsome boys with too much time on their hands entertain the girls in the academy.
In a frantic attempt to remove herself from the hosts, Haruhi ends up breaking a vase worth eight million yen and is forced into becoming the eccentric group’s general errand boy to repay her enormous debt. However, thanks to her convincingly masculine appearance, her naturally genial disposition toward girls, and fascinating commoner status, she is soon promoted to full-time male host. And before long, Haruhi is plunged into a glitzy whirlwind of elaborate cosplays, rich food, and exciting shenanigans that only the immensely wealthy Host Club can pull off.
Every character is based with a sterotype near the beginning of the series. The real question though is if the characters actually grow out of their set roles. After watching the whole series that’s both a yes and a no. It all comes down to the fact that the manga is still going and the characters are still maturing in that format; thus, they can only grow so far in the anime without making it a new story entirely. Sure, they stay towards their first impressions but, there are a handful of episodes that explain each Host Club member and their reasoning behind attitude, outlook, and for joining the club in the first place.
A keen example is Tamaki and his feelings for Haruhi. In the beginning, he takes on a father role towards her and the audience is made to believe that this is only part of his nature; however, the viewers should realize that this is because of the feelings he holds for her. Even Tamaki doesn’t understand it and in episode twenty-three is forced to question it. He probably can’t comprehend his feelings in the end, but he seems to establish some understanding towards Haruhi. Really, characters do grow but they tend to have done a lot of growing before the show was established, and quite a few past experiences are explained through-out the episodes. Either way, the audience is given the chance to fall in love with the characters before they begin to change, which adds a nice and smooth transition.
I’ve found people complain at the lack of the details made towards the characters themselves. Then again, how much detail do you want on a character that’s about to turn chibi on your ass? Seriously, the animators did a wonderful job at finding a keen balance between common and glorious so that when a touching moment is needed, the characters have that necessary lovely animation & while during the hyper-active moments, the characters are bouncy and have a jelly-like movement.
One thing that caught my attention after reviewing certain episodes was how detailed the background could be. I hadn’t noticed it on the first run through due to how into the show I was; however, if you pay attention, you really notice how wealthy the animators attempted to make the school look. Look at the ceilings and the inscriptions into it, that’s pretty damn detailed to me.
I was iffy about the music in the beginning. Once I heard the first line of the opening, Sakura Kiss, I felt the catchiness; however, after listening to the whole thing I wasn’t direly impressed. The ending song, Shissou, I didn’t like at all. It just sounded like normal Japanese rock. I was disappointed even more when I found LAST ALLIANCE was the band who preformed it because they could have done a lot better.
Regardless, I gave the music a chance and got a copy of the available soundtracks. While watching the show I found the melody coordinated with many places perfectly, surely in the Ouran world the music full of rich violins, playful piano, and elegant harp was a match made in heaven. In it’s own way everything works… but that ending song.
Since there is no dubbing released, I can’t comment on that; however, the subtitles by Lunar Anime provided on their fansub were wonderfully done. Generally, I don’t like to comment on subtitles because what’s there to say, but what I liked was how many notes were provided to get said joke. It was also produced very nicely for the English audience.
Simply, Ouran High School Host Club is just a fun old time. It’s got the wackiness to pull you into a fit of giggles, but at the same time enough character development to move along with a pretty random plot. I was going to skip this series entirely because I tend to avoid popular shows now-a-days; however, in the end I’m glad I didn’t. This was certainly worth my time and I guarantee it’s worth yours, too. It’s hard to find a character or a part that you plainly didn’t like. So, unless you’re extremely nit-picky, then there shouldn’t be a problem to enjoy this anime.
There are lots of laughs and pretty boys waiting for you at the Host Club so what are you reading this review for?
Ouran High School is one of the best reverse harem anime series I have watched. The first episode really made an impact. It did not start as to be draggy but rather it easily showed the main idea of the story which started when they have discovered that Haruhi is a girl. The story was quite shallow at first which was just showing the different themes of the club and how they entertained the guests but when you continue with the later part of the series, you’ll realize that behind all the smiles of the characters, there is a bitter past. The flow of the story is also good. It starts with the story of a certain character, followed by an episode just for enjoyment, them the story of a certain character and so on which promoted the balanced flow of the story.
The art of this anime is great since they can convene the different effects for a specific situation correctly. The type of animation used was the traditional type of animation (not the 3D or any modern form of animation) which for me, was better since the traditional type of animation was a type wherein the viewers can interpret more using their own imaginations.
The opening song Sakura Kiss (which became my favorite) sung by Chieko Kawabe was really fitting for the series since it was lively and the lyrics can really relate to the main character which was Haruhi Fujioka. The ending song Shissou sung by Last Alliance was great in which it blended with the appeal of the club.
I like the way they treat each other. They treat each other as close friends not some enemy that is to be competed financially or in other aspects (which was the opposite of what their parents really want). Each of the character’s qualities complimented the others that’s why their host club was in harmony. Other characters are also shown who were either supporting or testing the strength of the bond between the host club members.
While watching this anime, I might have looked like i was crazy or something coz i kept on laughing out loud everytime there is something really really funny like the thing that happened during their host club ball and the ever-changing characteristic of Tamaki Suou. The “punch lines” and “Labels” also help a lot in expressing the humor of the series like in the part of Kyouya who just recently woke up from bed was placed title as a “Low Blood Pressure Evil Lord” and Haruhi was labeled “Studious Commoner” and the host club’s “DOG” at the very start of the series.
If you want a lot of laughs mixed with a mixture of romance and a little bit of sadness, or liked boys that are classified as the prince-type, loli-shota type, cool type, devil type or a natural rookie type, then you should watch this anime coz you’ll really enjoy this movie and at the same time understand and appreciate the series as a whole. It’s really great! ^_^
All the characters are uniquely lovable. Each person has their own specific traits, and without a doubt, their own problems they need to overcome. Everyone has their favorites too, so within a few episodes you’ll be rooting for one person to get with the other, no doubt.
Character development and the enjoyment level were the biggest pluses for Ouran. It keeps you entertained nearly the whole way through (except for one or two episodes around 19 or so).
Only weakness I found was the sound. I didn’t particularly care for either the opening or the ending (though the opening wasn’t all that bad I guess).
So, in conclusion, it’s almost impossible to not enjoy this show. The ending is great and the lead up to it is very well done. Want to feel good and laugh at the same time, check Ouran out.
2: Cowboy Bebop
English: Cowboy Bebop
MAL Score: 8.77
In the year 2071, humanity has colonized several of the planets and moons of the solar system leaving the now uninhabitable surface of planet Earth behind. The Inter Solar System Police attempts to keep peace in the galaxy, aided in part by outlaw bounty hunters, referred to as “Cowboys.” The ragtag team aboard the spaceship Bebop are two such individuals.
Mellow and carefree Spike Spiegel is balanced by his boisterous, pragmatic partner Jet Black as the pair makes a living chasing bounties and collecting rewards. Thrown off course by the addition of new members that they meet in their travels—Ein, a genetically engineered, highly intelligent Welsh Corgi; femme fatale Faye Valentine, an enigmatic trickster with memory loss; and the strange computer whiz kid Edward Wong—the crew embarks on thrilling adventures that unravel each member’s dark and mysterious past little by little.
Well-balanced with high density action and light-hearted comedy, Cowboy Bebop is a space Western classic and an homage to the smooth and improvised music it is named after.
The story is set in a space western setting – a genre and setting I’m loving more and more for each show I watch that falls under the genre. We follow two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet, who own a ship called the Bebop. They travel the Solar system, chasing wanted criminals to earn money. Along the way, they also pick up two women; the debt-laden Faye Valentine and the playful kid and computer genius Edward (yes, Ed’s a girl).
Each episode brings about a new bounty which they chase after, and while that doesn’t sound too exciting to watch 26 episodes in a row, you’ll end up loving the show. All the different events makes for a certain degree of unpredictability, and you’ll sometimes wonder how things will end. However, that alone is not enough to give the story the rating I’ve given it. So why have I given that rating? Let’s continue…
One of the things that elevate the show a bit above the rest is the manner in which the main cast’s pasts are explored. It’s not like one flashback episode and you understand everything about how they are today. In one episode you might get one piece, and then the next one in another episode, and it’s not until the final three episodes of the show that everything falls in place. This way of executing it makes you want to watch another episode, so that you can find out more about the characters (some may say that this falls in under "Character", but the manner in which the pasts are explored are more "Story" than "Character", IMO). Now, that’s so far a 9 for the story. Why did it deserve a 10?
The answer is easy: the way they executed many scenes in the show. The contrasts which you get to see between, music, the setting of scenes and what’s really happening just gives the story that extra edge deserving of a perfect score.
The characters are all really good and interesting fellows. Though they every now and then reminded me of characters from other shows, they preserved that originality which gave a feel that they were, if not completely, then at least a little bit more real than most characters out there. The way their pasts intertwine with the future and how everything ends with them confronting and settling open ends from their pasts is also something that’s impressive to watch. I don’t really have anything more to say than "perfect".
The animation is, for a 90s anime, stunningly good. The detail put into backgrounds and surroundings is really good, and I also love how good lighting effects and shading are at times. All of Ed’s strange movements are animated really nicely too. If there’s something negative, it’s the somewhat dull coloring (compared to today’s standards), as well as poor effects when traveling in hyperspace.
The soundtrack is also astounding! The music used for the show is so incredibly varied, and while keeping mostly to the more jazzy tunes, the soundtrack visits so many genres that it’s hard to not like at least a few pieces. What I also loved is the way the music was used not only as a medium to go with and amplify the mood, but also as a contrast to what’s happening in several scenes. All in all, it’s really amazing. Don’t have anything to say against voice acting and other sound effects either.
All in all Cowboy Bebop is an anime that’s in the top tier on the greatness scale, and a show I believe every anime fan should give a try.
To ‘Not ‘ voters (and you ” voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
Cowboy bebop borrows much from western media and pop culture in general. his show pays homage to or references, subtly and overtly, things as disparate as Antonio Banderas, Bruce Lee, John Woo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Convoy, Biggie Smalls, Donald Duck, various mythologies and folktales, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bill Evans, Stray Cats, Alien, blaxploitation films, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Queen, George Clooney, Led Zeppelin, Django and other spaghetti westerns, Herbie Hancock, American and Japanese professional baseball, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Jean-Luc Godard, Batman, B.B. King, Beverly Hills 90210, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, The Unabomber, Heaven’s Gate and Marshall Applewhite, Kiss, film noir, The Beatles, Sleeping Beauty, Bonny & Clyde, Ziggy Stardust, Charlie Parker, Woody Allen, Star Trek, Cool Hand Luke, and Taxi Driver. I kid you not. And that’s not a complete list. References in character design and dialogue are forgivable, but when it straight up copies scenes and plots then I think it can be held against the show. I feel like I’ve seen Cowboy Bebop before, it’s just been packed into a pretty package. I enjoyed a lot of these homages, but that does not excuse the marked lack of creativity. The mere evocation of a masterpiece does not make a masterpiece. Quentin Tarantino is an example of someone who uses pastiche and cultural references well, and most importantly, his references and homages don’t make up his entire videography. There is far too little originality in Cowboy Bebop.
The fact is that Cowboy Bebop is the epitome of style over substance. I can appreciate it for its audiovisuals, but, to me, a show needs more than that to be a true masterpiece. Make no mistake though, it does have some of the best audiovisuals I’ve ever seen, and could arguably be considered a must-watch for that alone. The OST is good (despite also being a tad overrated,) the art is great, and the animation is extremely fluid. It should also be noted that Cowboy Bebop is one of the few anime that holds the distinction of having an English dub superior to the original Japanese. The atmosphere that the audiovisuals achieve is their greatest quality, and is distinct in almost every different setting. This is not done well in most space travel anime, and I have to applaud Cowboy Bebop for that achievement at least.
The main storyline consists of about 5 episodes, the rest of them being episodic individual stories. This wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the episodic stories were hit or miss, and they never measured up to the main plot. Some of the non-main episodes focus on a character and their past, and this is good, but most of them are completely pointless and could be removed without anybody noticing. One of them was about fighting an alien-fungus-fridge-monster, it was an interesting and silly parody of Alien, but it contributed nothing to plot or character development. Considering how character driven this show is, that’s a problem. There was also an entire episode paying homage to blaxploitation. Seeing as the allusion was presented in a more original way, and the episode showed a lot about Ed’s character, that one was not only forgivable, but it was one of my favorite episodes. Like I said, hit or miss. There is an episode about catching a super-dog. There is an episode about a virus that turns people into monkeys. There is an episode where they chase a bomber (Woody Allen) with some help from a transsexual looking trucker. At least 4 episodes were easily 10s, but more of them were closer to 5s. The first 4 episodes were particularly weak, which is a huge problem in a 2 cour anime. The anime may have had a good conclusion, but the sub-par exposition cannot be ignored.
The main crew was made up of interesting and entertaining characters, and they prevented the episodic nature of the show from being a complete flop, although there were some unanswered questions about Faye’s past in particular. Actually, strangely enough, the unanswered questions contributed to the splendid atmosphere. Everything had a rich backstory, but few flashbacks and no infodumps. This helped give the show its characteristic nostalgic atmosphere. One complaint I would have is that the main antagonist is simply not compelling, his motivations are somewhat unclear, and he’s just one dimensional. He also uses a katana, even though it’s the future, and somehow still manages to kick ass. He’s just very cliché and lame. The antagonist in the movie was very well done with his depth, motives, and parallels to Spike, and that makes me wish Vicious got the same treatment, as it would fit his character far better, and his character is far more important.
One thing you should understand is that the characters are often good examples of clichés done well. Jet, for instance, is the typical hard-boiled former cop, but he is also the most empathetic of the crew. He is a foil to Spike and is hard working, but they also parallel in many ways. Ed is the teen genius/tomboy and hacker with little depth, but she also serves as a foil to Spike and many of his views on life. Faye is like a mix of all of the other characters’ worst traits in terms of personality, but she still manages to be a sympathetic character. In fact, even though she keeps up her unpleasant exterior and despite her being the anime’s main source of fanservice, she arguably experiences more development than any other character. Still, they lack any sort of real innovation, in anime or otherwise.
Despite all my criticisms, Cowboy Bebop is cool. It’s very cool. The characters and aesthetics were compelling (for the most part) to the point where I even enjoyed some of the admittedly weaker episodes. I can’t give it a 10, it’s simply not a masterpiece. I can’t give it a 9, it’s not truly great. I can’t give it an 8, it’s too flawed and unoriginal. I don’t want to give it a 7, it was just too inconsistent. I have to settle on a 6.7 or so, which could be rounded either way. That said, an average of my story, art, sound, and character scores did give me around a 7.2.
Cowboy Bebop is enjoyable and it has wide appeal; I would probably recommend it to just about anybody. It was up and down in terms of quality, and it was similar to a slice-of-life in its episodic and relaxed nature and its lack of an explosive climax, but it was good. I liked how the anime takes place after the “important part” of the main characters’ lives is over, and nostalgia becomes a huge theme, seeing as it was the first anime I ever watched and it thus evokes a huge sense of nostalgia for me anyway. I loved the laid back atmosphere. The problem is that after looking through all of the episodes and rating them individually, I realized that the majority of it was nothing special. With a little restraint and reworking, Cowboy Bebop could have been the masterpiece that it is widely regarded as, and it does hold a special place in my heart regardless, even if that is only due to it being my first anime. That bias is probably why I choose to round the score to 7, rather than to 6, despite the fact that the latter is typically the better practice.
I am always willing to defend and justify my scores so leave me a comment if you disagree, and tell me why I’m wrong. I say that because this does seem to be a pretty uncommon score, even among those whose opinions I have great respect for. Keep in mind that a 7 is a generous and good score in any case.
“Fuck you! Cowboy Bebop is a classic! You’re not allowed to criticize it!”
The more astute viewers will note that I scored the series a 6, but the movie a 9. I kind of like Cowboy Bebop. It does do some things very right. It had the potential to be one of the greatest franchises ever. Alas, while its production values are unmatched, the writing . . . doesn’t always match up with the production. Because of this, the series ended up being a style-over-substance experience for me, but why was that?
The premise of CB is that in the late 21st century, mankind has started living in places in the solar system besides Earth. In this future are bounty hunters known as Cowboys. Cowboys do whatever they can to make cash to keep the food stockpile stocked and their spaceships running. The show follows one such group of Cowboys who pilot a ship called the Bebop. In the beginning, we meet Spike Spiegel, a former gangster, and Jet Black, a former cop. As the series progresses, the Bebop also has Ein, a super smart dog, Faye Valentine, a woman on the run, and Edward, a really, really, REALLY weird hacker girl. Cowboy Bebop has been described as a series that has a continuous plot, and has standalone episodes at the same time. Having seen the series, I can tell you that technically, most of the episodes aren’t standalone, but many of them are only connected by the core characters.
Here’s where one of my problems lie. When Cowboy Bebop is good, it’s really good. The setting is very mature; it never condescends to the audience. The action scenes are superbly well done, the dialog is believable (though cheesy at times), and the atmosphere really pulls you in. How many episodes are actually really good? Seven. If you count the movie as an episode, that brings it up to eight. Eight out of twenty-seven episodes were good. The rest were not.
The problem with most of the episodes is one of two things: one, it’s really boring, or, two, it’s so clichéd, you will be able to predict exactly what happens by the end after the first two minutes, or both. I have to be honest, a lot of the episodes of CB are just plain boring. If this wasn’t a “classic” and a more ordinary anime series, a lot of them would be branded as what they truly are; filler episodes. And if it’s not boring filler, it’s hackneyed.
Watanabe is known for being a huge fan of American cinema, and that’s obvious in CB. Unfortunately, he ripped off a lot of American movies virtually piecemeal. Now, you may not suspect it, but I am more knowledgeable of American cinema than I am Japanese animation. To describe it as best I can without spoiling, if you have seen at least one movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, John Woo, and Michael Mann, then you have already seen Cowboy Bebop in another format. This is actually a clever trick though; most anime fans reject Western pop culture, and may not notice this when watching CB, so they’ll think it’s “fresh” and “original”, when it’s fact, it’s actually MORE clichéd then most anime. But hey, when CB is exciting and isn’t (too) blatantly ripping off Hollywood, it’s worth watching.
At least, when the worthwhile characters are onscreen. I like the main character Spike a lot. He is the embodiment of cool, like a 21st century version of Steve McQueen. He’s cool, but he’s very human too. He’s reckless, he makes mistakes, but he knows how to charm people, and he also knows how to beat his targets. I also like Jet. He’s a constant worrywart, which is a funny contrast to his rough appearance. Some of the incidental characters are memorable too, (but usually only in the good episodes and movie). Something else I liked was the Bebop crew was not always a stable group, or nakama you could say. In most anime, when the heroes band together, nothing ever separates them. That doesn’t happen in CB. Sometimes, the crew gets in arguments, and sometimes, one of them will leave the Bebop for a time, and so on. It’s a touch of realism I appreciate.
However, some of the characters didn’t click with me. I never really cared for Faye. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t really care for her either. Edward is amusing, but she feels out of place in a series like this. The incidental characters in the less memorable episodes are just that, unmemorable. However, what I’m about to print in the next paragraph will anger thousands, possibly millions. (And maybe make hundreds say “Right on!”) Mind you, it’s just my opinion. Everything I print in these reviews is just my opinion; you don’t have to take it personally, but the following opinion of mine needs to be said:
Vicious is one of the lamest villains ever.
The main antagonist is a man known as Vicious, someone who’s still a part of the gang Spike came from. He’s cunning, ruthless . . . and is absolutely lame. What’s his motive? Does he just want power, or to mess with people? Even if so, why is he so boring to watch? The villain from the movie was a lot more interesting. Overall, you got two really good protagonists, some interesting chemistry between the protagonists, one-shot characters who are either interesting or not, and a forgettable antagonist. Yay.
And I haven’t even touched upon the ending yet! Short version, I don’t like CB’s ending. (More flames incoming! Duck and cover!) Now, the ending is not quite as bad as the ending for, say, Akira, or the anime version of Chobits. It does have a sense of finality to it, something most anime endings don’t have. However, I did not find it “legendary.” I found it disappointing. First of all, the ending is extremely predictable. It’s virtually telegraphed to you before it even happens. Not only that, when I saw it, my reaction was, ” . . . that’s it? Seriously, that’s IT?”
But I better move on to CB’s technical aspects before I get too letdown. Its artistry leaves no complaints. CB is probably the best-looking pre-digital anime I’ve ever seen. Even if you were to remake the series with digital enhancements, I doubt you could make it look better than it already is. Sumptuous backgrounds, top-notch character art, animation that ranges from above-average to really good, no off-model shots, this is a visual feast. The movie looks even better. It’s obvious a lot of care was put into the visuals of CB. My only being the primitive CGI, but you get used to it.
And now we touch upon CB’s greatest aspect; its soundtrack. It’s the sort of the soundtrack that makes you go, “Ah yeah, baby!” This is why you watch CB, the music. The music is the magnum opus of Yoko Kanno. A combination of jazz, blues, and rock, but it isn’t just any old jazz, blues, and rock, it’s GOOD jazz, blues, and rock. Everything from the opening, to the incidental music, to the endings, you get music that will set your soul on fire. The only anime I’ve seen whose soundtrack could rival CB’s is Death Note’s. Something I noticed about CB’s soundtrack is the music sounds more like music from albums rather than typical soundtrack music. Another smart move; most people are accustomed to listening to music from CD and MP3 albums as opposed to soundtracks, so when they hear CB’s music, it’ll be more familiar-sounding than most other anime soundtracks. Regardless, even if you hate CB, you gotta score this music.
CB is also famous for having what is perhaps the oldest English dub for an anime series that is considered god-like. I saw this on Adult Swim, and I can safely say, this is another masterpiece from Bandai and Bang Zoom. Every character sounds like how you would imagine them to, and the voices are neither wooden nor over-acted. All the different accents the characters have sound really cool too. I did sample the Japanese dub on the movie, and I will say, Spike and Jet sound really good in both Japanese and English, but I will never get used to Faye’s Japanese voice. Yeah, this is one you gotta see in English. (Though in retrospect, the Japanese performances aren’t bad, it just doesn’t click like the English dub)
While CB is still often regarded as a classic, I’m not the first to criticize it like so. There has been some backlash against CB in recent years. Some people complain it’s not “Japanese-y” enough, that it’s too Western. I mentioned that earlier, but there is another anime I’ve seen, Baccano, which is also very similar to American movies, but it was consistently entertaining, and not as predictable as CB, so I did not mind. Others have mentioned the same things I have, that it’s boring, the plot isn’t strong enough, it’s style over substance. This isn’t a disaster by any means, but I do have to say that, outside of the production values, CB is one of the most overrated anime I’ve seen. It’s not one of the worst, certainly not, but it’s not quite the experience I was promised either. To put it in other words, there were some episodes that I would score a 4 out of 10. And yet, there are some episodes, including the movie, that I would score a 9 out of 10. The 6 overall is just from mixing the good episodes with the bad.
I like to imagine that in an alternate dimension, CB was an OVA series instead of a tv series. All the episodes I do like, (# 2, 8, 12, 13, 17, 20, and 22) were released on separate OVAs, as well as a few others to bridge the plot gaps. Then a theatrical came out (Knocking on Heaven’s Door), and then another to end it all (The Real Folk Blues, albeit with a revised conclusion), and it would be grandiose. Alas, I don’t live in that universe. Hey, Shinichiro Watanabe likes drawing influence from Hollywood, right? What’s something it’s doing a lot of right now? Continuity reboots? He could still do that. I can dream, can’t I?
EDIT: This review was revised on 9/17/2015 to be less awkward to read.
1: Mob Psycho 100 II
English: Mob Psycho 100 II
Japanese: モブサイコ100 II
MAL Score: 8.82
Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama is now maturing and understanding his role as a supernatural psychic that has the power to drastically affect the livelihood of others. He and his mentor Reigen Arataka continue to deal with supernatural requests from clients, whether it be exorcizing evil spirits or tackling urban legends that haunt the citizens.
While the workflow remains the same, Mob isn’t just blindly following Reigen around anymore. With all his experiences as a ridiculously strong psychic, Mob’s supernatural adventures now have more weight to them. Things take on a serious and darker tone as the dangers Mob and Reigen face are much more tangible and unsettling than ever before.
The most hyped up second season since My Hero Academia II has come to fruition and let me say, it does not disappoint.
My expectations were sky-hecking-high after an incredible first season. Yet, SOMEHOW, the second season went above and beyond the call of duty and blew me away with the most amazing season of any show I have ever seen in my life. Allow me to explain.
While most people’s complaints related to the show is “bland” and “too slice-of-life”. I must first say that this show is centered around the characters rather than the plot, despite the plot being really, really good.
Nothing related to the story is wasted. Every character, every line, every moment, every sound, camera angle, power, you name it, is important. There wasn’t a single episode that I felt that I was sold short. I ate up every moment, because it MATTERED.
While small things like incredible animation, directing, pacing, humor, romantization of normal occurrences and all other terms I could use to show how great the show is despite 90% of the population not knowing what that means, I want to focus on the main part of the series I love the most.
The characters. Every single one of them feels like a fragment of a real person’s soul, and shaped to become a well rounded character. Reigen, Mob, Teru, Ritsu, Suzuki, Shou, CLAW, new villains, side villains, and school kids, are all important characters. I was constantly surprised and satisfied with how real these characters felt and reacted to their situations. Their motivations were understandable, and frighteningly relatable.
The relationships between these characters are even more fascinating and is what brings me to tears a majority of the time.
The psychology of this show blows my mind, and saying that it has taught me how I think is flawed (by showing characters that mirror my way of thinking) and how life is actually beautiful (albeit being kind of awful sometimes) would NOT be an understatement.
Mob Psycho 100 is my favorite form of entertainment on all platforms for probably the rest of my life. I would not hesitate to recommend this anime to other people, knowing that many people will probably miss the point of the whole show, which is this:
You matter. Relationships matter. Living life joyfully and working hard, even as a everyday commoner, is not something to be ashamed of, but to be cherished. Enjoy yourself, your life, and your relationships. A message needing to be heard by every human being.
I hope this review was helpful.
“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
When season 2 of mob psycho 100 got announced it would be an understatement to say that I was excited. I was brimming with excitement to see the continuation of Reigen’s, Mob’s and all the other characters story. But now after it’s release and I’ve watched all the episodes of my oh so awaited season 2. I’m honestly not feeling it, and I’m very disappointed.
I’m in no way saying that mob psycho 2 is a bad show. Not at all. The animation is stunning, the direction is phenomenal and the voice acting is as good, if not even better than the first season. It’s noticeable that a lot of care and effort has been put into making Mob Psycho 2. But despite all of these amazing features it has, I feel as if Mob Psycho has lost what made it unique and fun. What made the first season of Mob psycho great in my opinion is three points: the lightheartedness, the sense of humor and the characters. Season 2 only hits one of these points, but actually improves upon it. The characters. Mob and friends have never been better. Mob actually has an arc spanning over the whole season, not one forced into the last few episodes (as in season 1). Mob wants to improve as a person and actively makes an effort to do so. Something you really can’t say he does in the first season. Reigen also has an amazing arc this season. I won’t talk much about it because it would be a shame if I spoiled it for someone. Reigen was more or less the same person at the end of the first season as he was at the start. In season 2 tho, he’s a changed man at the end. It’s not only Mob and Reigen that’s gotten better, but all other characters also stepped up in season 2. They all changed so much that some felt out of character. But I don’t mind since the most of the characters are very well written. And that’s the part of Mob I adore. The rest of it kind of sucks.
The two other points that season 2 doesn’t get is the lightheartedness and humor. Which mostly goes hand in hand. Mob psycho season 1 is a lighthearted slice of life anime about a boy with psychic powers that despite his lack of emotion tries to live out his normal life as good as possible. Mob psycho season 1 never gets serious and dark. It has its emotional moments but never something too serious. In season 2 mob literally comes home to find his house on fire and sees what he believes to be his family burning. Mob Psycho 2 is one of the darkest and most serious shows I’ve seen in a while. And I don’t understand why, Mob Psycho was funny because of how lightheartedly these situation that would be handled totally different in other shows. That’s why it’s funny. When the most serious thing ever happen and Reigen then laughs about it later isn’t funny. It seems more like a flaw in Reigens character. I feel weird saying this but Mob Psycho season 2 isn’t funny at all. Season 2 abandons the concept of the first season and it makes me really disappointed. The first season of Mob Psycho was an analysis of manchildren and more or less a parody of shounen animes. But the second season isn’t a parody anymore. It’s turned into what it made fun of in the first place. I find it very hard to even call it a slice of life anymore.
To further prove my point that Mob psycho isn’t a slice of life anymore is the frequency and lengths of fights. There are few fights in the first season of Mob, meaning that when Mob went 100% and the fights broke out, it felt Impactful and epic. But in season 2 there are fights more or less every episode. The fights are longer, some spanning over something like 10 minutes. The animation might be great, but it gets overwhelming. I was finding myself sighing and thinking isn’t this fight over soon? Rather than being amazed by them as I was in season 1.
The most stupid thing ever happened as well. You know how the show is called Mob Psycho 100. Well suddenly mobs emotions can get ever 100% and he grew even more powerful. The point of the WHOLE show is that once the emotions get to 100% they overflow and Mob can’t control them anymore. But what’s the point of that if he suddenly can get 200%. It breaks the concept season 1 put up. Season 2 takes everything season 1 does good and throws it in the trash can.
What was once fresh and amazing is now just another My Hero Academia, and it’s a real shame. I had high hopes for this anime and I was let down big time. I would honestly rather watch the worst anime ever than rewatch this. The animes I feel the least from are the ones that are mediocre, the animes with extreme wasted potential. And Mob Psycho has sadly become one of them. I was expecting greatness and when what I got was very mediocre. It hit hard and my rating off this season of Mob Psycho suffered.
This season, we again go on a journey with Mob (the OP psychic) and Reigen (the conman) as they exorcise the demons present in the world and those present inside of them. The plot is as simple as it gets, we have our exorcisms going on; Mob being taken advantage of and deciding to become a better person; Claw, making a move; the body improvement club being awesome, etc. The plot doesn’t really diverge from what was presented to us in Season 1, though it does take some detours, those are what make this season so much better than the first one.
The previous season focused more on the fights and their aesthetics whereas this season the attention is more on the character development through the fights. Sure, the fights look as beautiful as ever, but more importance is given to how the characters change and what they take away from the fights. Reigen and Mob visit various clients, and most of the time the exorcism of the spirits serves as a catalyst for Mob’s growth as a character and as a human. But, where the anime shines is not the plot, but the characters.
The characters are the heart of the show, which is true for most stories but more so with this one. The characters may look like typical shounen characters if you look superficially, but when scrutinized, one can come up with a different conclusion. One aspect about the characters I love is how human they feel. Mob does not require any catalyst for the instigation of the feeling that he needs to change, it comes from within him. It’s a joy to see him transform into a socially acceptable person from a socially awkward teen. The show handles this change in a way that is realistic and poignant, which is to be expected as the show does such a great job of portraying the difficulties and hurdles faced by Mob due to his awkward disposition. No development feels rushed or out of place and everything is handled at a pace that is not too fast but not too slow that the watchers get bored. As you watch Mob trying his level best to grow up as a person, you can’t help but start to support him. The body improvement club is what our society should be. They are introduced as temporary comic relief characters but slowly they become an integral cog in the growth of Mob. We don’t spend much time with them on screen, but whenever they are on screen the experience is absolute gold.
The two characters in the spotlight are Mob and Reigen with the latter also getting a character arc which is probably one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. Reigen is a conman, he swindles people, including Mob, for his own personal gain, but, despite that he’s one of the most likeable characters in the series. At first, there seems to be a dichotomy between him and Mob, with Mob lacking the very confidence that Reigen seems to be brimming with, but this season lets us view things with a different perspective. We see Reigen’s inner struggles vicariously and realise he’s not much better off than Mob. Reigen when put in a difficult situation where his only ally seems to be him himself, his introspection reveals a great deal about him and his relationship with Mob. He realises that under the pretence of helping Mob control his powers, he was actually taking advantage of him and was holding Mob back from enjoying his youth. After his epiphany, he does not feign ignorance but tires to better himself as a person. Reigen, in Mob’s own words, is a genuinely good guy. Furthermore, his ultimate move – Self Defence Rush – is capable of destroying the whole planet and needs to be nerfed.
The anime also boasts a spectacular cast of supporting characters. We’ve got dimple, the spirit who wanted to take over Mob’s body at first but warms up to him and becomes more and more of a comrade after each passing episode. This change happens gradually which helps audience familiarise themselves with his character. We don’t get any abrupt character change and thus the show avoids alienating the viewers. Another character worth mentioning is Mogami, a resentful spirit who is the perfect depiction of what Mob would’ve been had he not met with Reigen or had Reigen been a selfish person. The serendipitous meeting between Mob and Reigen is what kept Mob and his uncontrollable powers anchored to the ground. The body improvement club is as epic as ever and this season has convinced me that the biggest muscles they have are their hearts. The characters are meticulously crafted and handled with care. That being said, there are some flaws here and there.
Most of the villains are underdeveloped and are there only as an obstacle for our heroes to overcome. We don’t know their motivations for joining the evil organisation that they have joined and neither do we learn about their personalities. Not all villains are cannon fodder though. The leader of the organisation has a goal set in his mind and though his motivations are a bit overbearing, it’s not difficult to picture that among tens of hundreds of espers one would come across such a guy. Although, the villains are not as interesting as they could have been, I don’t think it matters much because at the end of it all what Mob Psycho really is, if you ask me, is a coming of age story.
The animation is absolutely fantastic. Studio Bones have outdone themselves once again. If you’re holding out on this show because you think that the animation looks crap then, I don’t know what to say to you except you’re missing out on an acid trip. The facial animation conspicuously shows the characters’ emotion and much of the characters’ thoughts are accentuated through their body language. There is a lot of visual storytelling which is really well complimented by the unique art and animation. Lastly, the fights are stupendous. The animation does a great job of presenting the tension and force exerted by each punch, each kick that the characters throw and receive. Every time someone uses his/her psychic powers to pin someone to the ground, the anime does an awesome job of accentuating the augmentation of gravitational field around them which helps in visualising the incomprehensible telekinetic powers that the characters possess. This one guy has the power to teleport himself anywhere he wants and keeps doing so while fighting. You would think that it would make it very hard for us to follow him as he keeps darting around, but due to the excellent cinematography and clever use of visual direction, you can always keep your eyes on him using your peripheral vision. That’s some next level stuff right there. Massive props to everyone involved in animating the series.
The music is brilliant as well. I’m no connoisseur of music but I can tell whether a piece of music fits a scene or not and in the case of Mob Psycho 100, most of the pieces perfectly complement the ongoing scene. The music during fights are perfect to get you hyped, and those during the emotional scenes will make the feels hit you like a truck. Also, the OP is fire.
Mob Psycho 100 is one of the best character driven narratives to come out in recent years. It’s a near prefect retrospective look into a teenage mind and how everyone is susceptible to change. It sends a message that no matter how incongruous you are with respect to your surroundings, no matter how detached you are with reality, you can always start over.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Mob Psycho 100 II
2. Cowboy Bebop
3. Ouran Koukou Host Club
4. Fullmetal Alchemist
7. Wolf’s Rain
8. Tenkuu no Escaflowne
9. Mobile Fighter G Gundam
11. Scrapped Princess
12. Kurau Phantom Memory
13. Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer
14. Juu Ou Sei
15. Kenran Butou Sai: The Mars Daybreak
16. Shippuu! Iron Leaguer
17. Tenpou Ibun: Ayakashi Ayashi
18. Karakuri Kiden: Hiwou Senki