They’re the best Anime that 1991 to 2000 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Alexander Senki, Nessa no Haou Gandalla, Chiisana Obake: Acchi, Kocchi, Socchi, and more!
28: Alexander Senki
English: Reign: The Conqueror
MAL Score: 5.70
In 356 BC, Alexander the Great arrives in Greece with the ominous destiny that he will become the “destroyer of the world.” Inheriting the crown, he becomes king of the Macedonians and starts down a road of conquest with terrific speed. Alexander ultimately confronts his fated nemesis, Darius the Third, in a war with Persia which changes Alexander into the devil he was fated to become, assuring the destruction of all in his path, and possibly himself.
(Source: TBS Global Business)
The first thing people can’t help but notice is the show’s art style. The art is not very Japanese at all, and somewhat reminiscent of Aeon Flux. I might’ve been able to tolerate it, had they used it better. Sure, all of the characters are painfully ugly, but did they have to be mostly naked on top of that? In no scene during the anime do Alexander or Darius wear pants. Everyone in Reign is allergic to pants, and so I have to stare and some dude’s butt or codpiece in every scene.
The plot itself is really hard to get into, because it’s just a series of pointless battles interwoven with pseudo-philosophical dialogue. There’s ultimately little reason to cheer for Alexander’s selfish conquest, and the sub-plot revolving around Aristotle’s search for a mystical object called the Platohedron seems equally uninteresting.
The characters are extremely flat and almost impossible to relate to. Alexander seems to have no identifiable personality. He only issues orders to keep fighting and frequently boasts about his love for "speed." You shall be my "speed." We can’t win because we don’t have "speed." Always with the speed. His mother is generically crazy. His best friend is generically paranoid. Darius, the supposed antagonist of the series, doesn’t do anything to show he’s more evil than Alexander is. He’s just a king minding his own business, and Alexander invades *his* land. The viewer might ask himself, "Why am I supposed to be pulling for Alexander to beat Darius?" I watched the whole thing, and I don’t know the answer either.
Perhaps the worst aspect of Reign, however, might actually be the soundtrack. The OP consists of little more than background noise. The in-show music that pops up during dramatic scenes and battles sounds like awful techno that some sixth grader whipped up on his PC while learning how to use the music program. Every tune associated with Reign is completely nauseating.
If you’re a glutton for terrible, awful anime, then Reign is the perfect show for you. For people who want to find something entertaining, stay far away. Reign belong somewhere on every "Worst anime of all time" list.
If you’re looking for something historically accurate, you’ve come to the wrong place. Alexander Senki roughly follows Alexander the Great’s ascension to the throne and his conquests throughout the ancient world whilst being hunted by various wizard cult members. The strange dichotomy between obvious fiction and romanticised reality gives the whole experience a sense of surreality, emphasised by the unconventional art style. The art gives the world a unique sense of identity, in that it combines strange, technology-drenched architecture in hypercolour with angular, almost jagged faces. Whilst I can understand that it may throw some people off, I feel it is key to the quality of the show and is thus almost unparalleled (if only because no-one is game enough to have such a potentially controversial artstyle).
The music choice is reflective of the art design, in that it combines upbeat, heroic tunes with offbeat synthesised ones. Watching the sub, the choice of voice actors seemed suitable. I did however dive into the dub for one episode, where the voice acting ranged from uninspired to downright infuriating (looking at you, Zoroastrians). So if you’re tossing up the two, I would recommend the sub. Speaking of criticisms, there are some bits of repeated animation, but these are usually some of the better animated sections and it isn’t too egregious.
I really enjoyed this show. Whilst it isn’t for everyone, it certainly doesn’t deserve the 5.78 average it had at the time of writing. Take a chance and give it a go – it might surprise you.
The major elements that make this series stick out for quality are its excellent integration of metaphysical themes and ancient philosophical figures that were renowned around Alexander’s time that influence his conquests throughout the course of the series. Alexander is blessed with a high degree of luck and charisma in his conquests that gets explained as being influenced by the fate bestowed upon him by an ancient artifact capable of algorithmic manipulation of reality that he seeks out in later episodes of the series to find meaning to his supposed destiny. This makes his existence threatening to several cults influenced by differing philosophical schools of thought who attempt to assassinate Alexander throughout the course of the series and influential Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Diogenes serve to either guide or hinder Alexander’s quest to conquer countries and come to terms with the supposed destiny he has. The assumptions of Alexander’s destiny made by many throughout the course of the series are not what one would assume on the surface, which is hinted to at points earlier in the series and the title’s finale. On top of the show’s creators shown to have done well in their research of Greek philosophy and supernatural lore for their spin on Alexander’s life, they also make their own unique takes to major feats that Alexander accomplishes such as his taming of the wild horse Bucephalus, his encounter with Diogenes and his cutting of the Gordian Knot. These nice touches make the exploits of Alexander’s character for this adaptation of the series all the more pleasing to see unfold.
When it comes to other characters in this series though, the series is a mixed bag in their focus on them. Some characters get enough focus to have defined personalities and developments that show what beliefs or loyalties they have that lead them to either be loyal or opposed to Alexander’s pursuits. Others that have major roles in the series are either quite underdeveloped or shallow in their characters that make them difficult to connect with. The series also appears to have been left open-ended as Alexander is still alive and well following his journey in the title’s finale, yet is still intent on pressing forward with his quest to conquer the known world. However, I think this might have been intentional by the show’s creators since the series was more about Alexander trying to come to terms with himself instead of an actual focus of his entire life.
The presentation for this series certainly sticks out from standard anime fare. The character and setting designs for Reign the Conqueror were done by Korean-American animator Peter Chung, whom some folks may recognize as the animated talent behind the American animated cult hit Aeon Flux. On the plus side, many character designs are drawn to be quite lifelike with realistic details for muscle tone and facial features, settings that are faithful to their intended historical settings with occasional elements of steampunk tossed in for technologies employed, subdued color tones that make for a nice touch to the dark mood this series gives off and decent use of CG animation for some of the complex animations seen in the series such as a glimpse of the universe seen when Alexander enters the barrel hut of Diogenes, armies marching and the elaborate “world of destruction” seen in the finale of the series.
On the bad end, many of the major characters in this series (mostly the men) sport very revealing attire like tight thongs, shirts that expose midriff and formal attire that look like women’s bathing suits that give the series somewhat of a homo-erotic feel and are obviously not faithful to Alexander’s time period. Plus outside of the CG animation, the hand-drawn animation to this is mostly subpar with animation shortcuts and tricks employed to give off a sense of fluid animation that doesn’t look convincing in many instances.
The soundtrack to the series sports tense and dark insert tracks that do their part to compliment the serious mood of this series, though don’t particularly stick out. The original opening song for Reign (“Anata no Kiss wo Oshiemasho ~You Were Mine~”) sports an upbeat, optimistic mood and lyrics that go against the intended mood this series wishes to give off. Yet in a occasional case where changes done by an American distributor are done for the better with a series, Tokyopop created a new opening song for their English dub of the series (“Worthy of your Soul”) that sports a melancholic mood and lyrics that both better accompany the feel of Reign.
Overall, I’m actually fairly surprised with this series. I was expecting a dud thanks to much of the negative reception that this series received from anime fans. But I think this reception was exaggerated thanks to Reign’s attempts to be different from the norm. Granted, the homo-erotic attire of the characters will turn away some fans and there are a number of characters I felt could have been better developed. But the series does do well at integrating supernatural lore and unique spins on major elements of Alexander’s conquests of the known world. It’s not perfect, but I think the reputation of this series as a supposed dud is greatly exaggerated.
27: Nessa no Haou Gandalla
English: Gandalla: The King of Burning Desert
MAL Score: 5.90
A dispute between young band members and an unfortunate choice of melody inadverdently draws them all into the demonic horror known as the desert-god Gandalla.
26: Chiisana Obake: Acchi, Kocchi, Socchi
English: Three Little Ghosts
Japanese: 小さなおばけ アッチ ソッチ コッチ
MAL Score: 5.99
This is a heart-warming story with three little ghost called There, Here and Where. They are not scary like usual ghosts but pretty and mischievous like human children. Of course they sometimes surprise people by disappearing or flying, but they are loved as children’s friends.
Each episode consists of two stories.
25: Saint Luminous Jogakuin
English: St. Luminous Mission High School
MAL Score: 6.04
Kaihei is a rather normal high school student but soon discovers that his deceased grandfather has left him the chairman position of his all-girls high school, St. Luminous Mission High School. Besides being the only male student on campus, he is also now the young chairman in charge of campus rules, happenings and punishments. When Kaihei arrives however, it seems a student has gone missing. Kaihei, along with his closest friends, are now determined to solve this mystery (without getting the local police involved) before graduation.
Against the objections of some of the teaching staff and of many of the students Kaihei enrols himself in the school so that he can continue his education while he tries to decide what to do with his new responsibility. But things only turn to the worse as some of the girls start to disappear in mysterious ways while outside forces attempt to discredit the school and take it over. Kaihei finds himself embroiled in an ever deepening mystery while he attempts to establish his credibility with the students, staff and parents.
Just what is going on at the non-standard school where students have an unusual amount of freedom in their studies? Are there evil spirits or aliens involved in the disappearances, as some students claim? Are Kaihei’s actions helping the situation or making things worse? Kaihei will eventually have to make a decision about a commitment that will affect everyone and everything at Saint Luminous Mission High School.
This short and enigmatic series is first and foremost a very good mystery story. Although the setting and situation appear to be tailor-made for a harem comedy, comedy is very secondary to the mystery in this series, and Kaihei is not a harem anime lead character, nor are the girls harem anime heroines. The animation is quite good for the time, with character designs reminiscent of many of the classic AIC anime of the 90s. As well, the voice acting cast are for the most part seasoned pros from many of those same AIC classics. In addition, the ending theme song is a very early and quite memorable piece from Ali Project.
Saint Luminous Mission High School remains a unique and intriguing example of late 1990’s anime series that were based upon original stories. It was originally released on Japanese Laser Disc, and then on R2 DVD, but has never been licensed in North America. The official web sites are now rather sparse and contain little of the original information.
Saint Luminous Jogakuin revolves around the disappearance of a student attending an all-girl high school, Saint Luminous. Our main character, Kaihei Kajimi gets the news that he is going to inherit the school from his late grandfather. As a result of this inheritance, Kajimi has to act as the school chairman unless he wants the school to shut down. He accepts the role and thus begins the fun harem/slice of life anime that this show was destined to be.
It’s not that fun, actually.
Soon after, Kajimi finds himself playing detective, attempting to find the missing student only to discover that more girls are disappearing by the minute. Along the way, he meets with the girls that reside in the school, whether that be an artist or a radio jockey, he makes sure that they find comfort in these dire times. What makes Saint Luminous Jogakuin so special to me is that, while the show’s premise is set up to be some kind of harem anime, it manages to be mature in its tone and atmosphere. There’s a hidden sadness that lies within this show. The fact that Kajimi continually fails to find answers to the mystery is frustrating to watch, but maybe that’s the point. The lack of progression that lies in the mystery adds to the burden of the main character. As the show progresses and the school’s morale starts to diminish, I feel more sympathetic to Kajimi as he is unable to resolve the case. Watching his relationships with the students becomes more and more distant as weeks go by is unbearable, and the mind-boggling mystery that barely moves isn’t much help.
The plot moves at a standstill, yet the situation worsens each passing week. Kajimi is completely incapable of solving this mystery. Not because he’s an inept detective, but because the disappearances are caused by an unexplained force that he doesn’t have the power to comprehend. This leads me to believe that the mystery isn’t the main focal point of the anime. It plays a considerable role, don’t get me wrong, but I think the strongest parts of the anime lies in the interactions between Kajimi and the girls that he interacts with. As the show progresses, we are introduced to a motley crew of schoolgirls. Each of the girls tend to have a distinct personality and some with a personal arc that gets resolved thanks to Kajimi’s help. The girls don’t act like characters from a haram, but they act more realistically and have their desires separate from the male lead.
With all of that said, is Saint Luminous Jogakuin a good show? Maybe. If you’re looking for a good mystery, stay away from this show. If you want a “character study” (which is a term I use very loosely) then perhaps give this show a shot. Just don’t expect the resolution to be more satisfying than the buildup.
English: Legend of Himiko
MAL Score: 6.23
In a world where the dead walk, where good and evil exist as palpable forces, a darkness is stirring. The undead march against the cities of light, to capture the sacred fire that is the source of their power. But one hope remains. Called into this world by the magical flame, a young girl named Himiko is thrust into the maelstrom of danger, betrayal, and war. For she is heir to the sacred fire, and holds a power that could save its Guardians… if she survives!
(Source: Central Park Media)
Seemingly based on a PS1 game Himiko-den has a moderately interesting premise, being an isekai of sorts in a fantasy setting based on feudal Japan featuring the battle between the good forces of Yamatai aided by the power of a holy flame called the Bokka against the invading Kingdom of Kune. Magic and mysticism play a big part in the anime with the holy Bokka guiding our more or less intrepid heroes and the Fountain of Darkness aiding the opposition.
Well all that sounds like something I could get behind. It would not be a hard thing to make an interesting or at least cohesive story with those elements. It should at least be sufficient as a competent time waster. Well, it certainly wasted my time though not in the way I had hoped.
Himiko-den stumbles and fumbles around in every way possible to make a confusing and grating experience that serves well as a guide as to what not to do with your story.
We begin the story with the invasion of Yamatai. The guardian of the Bokka decides that the best place to hide would be with the aforementioned holy flame. Well, it would be a good place to hide if the people of this land didn’t all have the innate ability to teleport wherever they pleased by using the power of editing. The main antagonist, someone who looks like he is simultaneously both a member of KISS and the pope wanders into the chambers and kills the people there and throws the guardian’s baby named Himiko into the fires of the Bokka. Fast forward a few years and Himiko is in modern-day Japan and 15 years old. Nothing really happens in the modern day before she and her friend Kutani are teleported right back to Yamatai, this time not through editing but through the totally not made-up-on-the-spot powers of the Bokka.
I can’t quite get it across through text, and you shouldn’t watch this anime yourself, so trust me when I say that the anime both manages to move way too fast and way too slowly at the same time. That small paragraph takes up the majority of the first couple of episodes. Throughout the entire show you get this feeling that nothing really happens, but at the same time the story wooshes by you faster than a jet-powered Formula 1 car.
Either the anime occasionally cuts out character interactions and plot developments or the anime is so boring I very frequently lost and regained consciousness for minutes at a time while watching it. As I said earlier characters teleport from place to place with editing magic, some actions happen in the background with no explanation given afterwards and our band of heroes manages to always pull out a win just because they can rely on the macguffin that is the Bokka’s power. It’s never properly explained what it can do, at one point it’s a shield, then it’s a sword, oh now it causes an explosion, oh look it can make you see far away, oh wait now it projects a big image of your face to anyone else who can use the power. I wouldn’t really dwell on it too much, but the woeful directing and editing combined with the plot armour the Bokka provides gives the anime a sense that nothing can ever go wrong for our main characters and nothing ever does. Everything works out perfectly all the time forever.
That’s not even where it ends. When the anime is not off confusing me with random cuts and missing story it’s off confusing me with plot points and conflicts that are brought up and solved almost instantly or conflicts which are brought up, built up, and be solved but which don’t matter to the story at all. Things happen in the anime more or less to pad the runtime. There’s no rhyme or reason to some of the plot elements brought up and when it does have a side-story that could go somewhere it wastes it by solving it in the worst way possible and leaving you with an empty and frustrated feeling.
In the end, the main story doesn’t matter because every conflict will be won with no effort and the side-stories don’t matter because they’re either vapid or botched.
So I guess that leaves us with at least having relatable and interesting characters or an intriguing world to explore. Well, considering that the anime is called The Legend of Himiko, and the title character does absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, for the entire run you can guess what the rest of the characters are like. They’re all one dimensional and boring. There’s this semi-harem going on with some queen candidates for Yamatai, but all the queens are made up of at most two character tropes and the story would be the same if all but one didn’t even exist. Himiko and Kutani are basically the same, Himiko is a freightened high school girl and Kutani is a hot headed idiot both of them move through the story as if railroaded to just get to the end.
In short the characters are flat and uninteresting and hardly worth more than a glance just to see the admitedly alright designs.
The world is just a recreation of feudal Japan, but with magic and it’s not even all that magical. If not for the flying mountain that serves as a base of operations of the evil guys and the Bokka it would basically just be feudal Japan, but more bland.
When it comes to its artistry The Legend of Himiko looks like it was both drawn and composed for on either a small budget, a tight schedule or both. Character models are inconsistent, faces have a tendency to morph around, sometimes during speech. There’s not a lot of movement and what little movement there is is choppy. The soundtrack consists of the same spooky sounding song played over and over and some in-universe lady playing on a flute she keeps dropping on the floor and it sounds exactly what you’d expect a mistreated flute to sound like.
I wanted to find something good to say, at least here, but I can’t. The most I can muster is that I guess the OP song is half decent, at least until it doesn’t get repetitive.
In conclusion, The Legend of Himiko is an uninspired isekai seemingly made without any energy or budget put behind it. Its bland and uninteresting story is rivaled only by its bland and uninteresting art. It’s a relic of anime of days long gone that has been forgotten and for good reason. While I personally think there’s worth in remembering the mistakes of the past many do not and would probably be glad to forget The Legend of Himiko which is just one big pile of mistakes.
If you’re looking for older anime to watch and happen across this one then I suggest staying away. For some good isekai there’s the Vision of Escaflowne and if you’re just in the mood for a classic fantasy world Slayers is for you.
23: Gregory Horror Show: The Last Train
Japanese: グレゴリーホラーショー – The Last Train
MAL Score: 6.23
The third series, The Last Train is set with 26 stories during a bizarre train ride that Gregory embarks upon.
It was refreshing to see that the story along with intro did not involve the house as see in the first two seasons. The idea of a train was a wonder concept choice seeing how its job is to repeat and repeat some more. Sadly, nothing was answered from season 1 or 2. In fact it brought on more questions.
Same computer generated art style as in the first two seasons. Art was realistic looking for the horror bit while at the same time being comical for the comedy aspect. Making for a good mix with plot.
It was intriguing to see the show done from not a narration p.o.v. but from a first person with a 3rd person out look. Some minor things are learned about the main character but nothing really impacting.
season 1 can be a joy to men. Both genders i can see getting along with season 2. As for this season it is a nice mini vacation.
22: Shin Megami Tensei Devil Children
Japanese: 真 女神転生 デビチル
MAL Score: 6.34
A series based off of the Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children franchise.
21: Master Mosquiton ’99
English: Master of Mosquiton ’99
MAL Score: 6.51
Catholic schoolgirl Inaho discovers that a vampire, Mosquiton, is feeding off of her classmates. So she stakes him, but he is revived after her blood comes in contact with the his remains. Mosquiton becomes her slave and also a history teacher. Together, along with Yuuki and Honou, the unlikely duo have many escapades and adventures. One of Inaho’s main goals is to find the mythical O-Part to make some money!
The OVA, “Master Mosquiton,” is one of my favorites. It combines great animation, wonderful music, interesting characters, adult humor, nudity, and an ability to draw you in. It was a light-hearted tale of a vampire (Mosquiton) and his mistress (Inaho).
The series takes all of that, dilutes it and stretches it so thin that you end up feeling like NOTHING happened after 26 episodes! I realize that the sex and adult content was removed so it would be seen by all ages on TV, but it was a mistake to do so: Mosquiton was originally an adult dark comedy, and it worked.
[ STORY ]
The story starts very interesting and intriguing but it falls flat after repetitive episodes. The backstory later within the last 5 episodes almost saves the day but ultimately fails to make up for the series earlier shortcomings.
Also, this story is a “re-imagining” from the OVA, which is fine, but it wasn’t as strong a choice. ( OVA: 1920s, Mosquiton ’99:1999) 6/10
[ ART ]
The animation goes from TERRIBLE to fair and back again within the same scene. So disappointing since “Master Mosquiton” had excellent visuals. 4/10
[ SOUND ]
The music is pretty good. The 1920’s big band music that trickled over from the OVA is tops and I very much enjoyed the opening theme and background music. Solid. 7/10
[ CHARACTER ]
Inaho is 100% annoying and vile, which is hard when she’s the main character. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay that she has many less-than-stellar traits, but she should have at least ONE redeeming quality. Mosquiton is also MUCH more of a wimp and lapdog this time around. He’s still an adorable Bishounen (^_^). Yuki and Hoono, the two demons, are one-dimensional but are given more depth when you see their back story in their final episodes. There are also two main characters that are unique to the TV series and not the OVA: Wolf Lady and Frankie. The wolf lady proves to have a great backstory, (She cannot TOUCH a member of the opposite sex without lashing out violently/becoming more “wolf-like”) which includes a great deal of heart breaking backstory. Frankie is boring and has no reason to be in this series.
Camille, Mosquiton’s first wife, who had a HUGE role in the OVA has no pull in the TV series. In the TV series they never establish her as Mosquiton’s ex-wife she’s just a henchman. Totally stupid for them to pass up her interesting story.
The characters would be rated much higher, but the only good moments in their arc are their backstories, which only appear very late in the series. 5/10
[ ENJOYMENT ]
The first 20 episodes (give or take the few that stand out) are boring a strung out. When you get to the last 5 or so, your enjoyment goes up immensely. 6/10
[ OVERALL ]
Final verdict? WATCH THE OVA. It is truly fun, unique and interesting. If you have seen the OVA, and you want more Mosquiton goodness, you may want to watch this anime. It will at least give you some Mosquiton to savor. If you are NEW to this franchise, I would say pass the TV series up. You won’t have the love of the characters already like I did- that’s the only way I got through it. 6/10
Thanks for reading. Hope this gives a good insight as to whether or not to see this show.
The story is a re-imagining of the OVA, it places the characters in different places, in different times with slightly different personality changes. It starts with the greedy Inaho and she finds Mosquiton and forces him to make a contract with her. Every episode starts with her looking or searching for a piece of O-part that fits the key she has which is slightly annoying because that was every episode.
EVERY EPISODE, it was fair but it seemed like you could watch a few episodes for the light-hearted banter between the Mosquiton & Inaho. It seems the darkness/adult-comedy/romance isn’t there anymore, this more of a light-hearted/romance/comedy. Which, even though it IS the same set of characters, the storyline worked a lot better in being a dark comedy rather than a light one.
Some of the character’s backstory is different, like Camille. She’s not with Mosquiton and Germaine or whatever is his name is isn’t just some guy who seemed like the bad guy at the end. I preferred it this way, honestly. Camille in the OVA added something, but her presence here seemed better to me, I don’t know.
The ending episodes are the best, I wish they would have spread them out. The Christmas one was especially my favourite because it reminded me so much of how Inaho acted in the OVA and their relationship.
All in all, the story was fair, kind of fun and made you shake your head at Inaho, so I gave it a 6.
The art was alright for it’s day, I believe that because this has been fan-subbed that the quality has been lost on VCRs. A lot of people complain about older anime because of this, but I don’t fault the art or animation. I am sad that I couldn’t give it a better rating, because the fun use of colour would have been much better and the animation much smoother and less pixelated had there been original dvd releases. So — 5.
Great! They use some of the old OVA music in mixture with some new tunes and some music that makes you feel like “Oh, this is getting good!” I loved the music, I have nothing to complain about! -9
I believe that in a light-hearted scenario that this is how the characters would act because there was honestly no darkness in this anime. Mosquiton was very light hearted and I see how he became very domesticated during the series. They were all the same basically but with two new characters: Wolf Lady and Frankie.
I liked the character’s development here, it’s very touching in the ending episodes. Frankie is often funny and I like his persistence. I think they add something to the series.
THE ONLY CHARACTER I DO NOT LIKE is Akito? Inaho’s cousin? She is annoying, she acts just like Inaho and she reminds me of Sailor Moon? I don’t know, it’s just with Inaho being a frustrating ass, Akito comes in and does the same thing. When they are in an episode together, I just skipped one completely because it was just stupid. Even in the end, she was practically useless. There did not need to be a character to try to hog Inaho’s spotlight by acting just like her, they show no family ties which makes her appearance more annoying.
Enjoyment: If you like Mosquiton, you’ll like this kinda. In my brain, I think of this as a super sequel in my brain where it’s a certain way so I don’t think of Inaho as the same exact one in 99′, because they are different in many ways.
Overall: It’s a little better than decent, I found myself almost tearing near the end because I love Inaho/Mosquiton :] I think you would too if you saw the OVA
20: Gregory Horror Show
English: Gregory Horror Show
MAL Score: 6.56
The first series is a set of 25 stories about a male businessman arriving at the hotel after taking a train home from work. He encounters the mysterious owner of the hotel, an old mouse known as Gregory, who suggests that he stay a while. Soon, the man becomes drawn into a bizarre series of events taking place within Gregory House as he tries desperately to escape from this bizarre purgatory.
The CGI box-like art style is unlike anything I’ve seen and the cartoony character designs are really striking next to the dark settings. Speaking of the characters there’s a great variety on offer, from the pink lizard ‘nurse’ who takes extreme pleasure from taking blood samples to mummy dog and mummy papa, a father and son team who complain about their splitting headaches, not realising the cause is that they have an axe and a machete stuck in their heads.
The story is told from the first person perspective of the unfortunate people who wander into Gregory house, the reasons which are unknown to them, but are slowly revealed throughout the series. The revelations experienced by these ‘guests’ are thought provoking to say the least, when you get beyond the initial look at this series you find it has a suprising amount of depth.
It’s amazing what you can fit into 2 and a half minutes
For a show that is supposed to be a horror/comedy (as described by the dvd’s back) I was hoping for a lot more. Each episode starts with our “protagonist” giving a short voice over which sets the tone or “theme” for the episode. This is actually a detail I quite like, but the rest of the show falls short, nothing is actually scary. Although you can tell that the show is trying, the spooks just fall flat and the humor is badly timed. Over the course of season 1 I don’t recall laughing at all, or getting scared. I do remember cringing at some points but that is do to the fact that the dvd I received only has the English dub which is pretty painful to begin with.
There’s not much else to really say about the show. The characters have pretty unique personalities. The animation is lackluster but not particularly bad. The sound design is nothing special. The plot is pretty dull, they even explain things that you could have potentially enjoyed trying to find meaning for on your own. Overall the show is a let down; it’s really short running about 3 minutes per episode, but it’s not really worth your time.
(Side note the side story “Gregory Horror Show: The Bloody Karte” is a bit better some of the jokes actually stick and work well with the characters.)
A somewhat personalized anime. Very decision based and the conclusion to reason makes you think. The idea of not knowing who the narator is a wonderful concept. A very good role playing game.
I can not think of any way i would change it. All details that would come to mind of what i would expect were there. The art was no question relevant to the plot.
Voices as well as sound effects not only matched the mood but were timed perfectly.
Normally i would say it was confusing but that was the point here. If it was simple or you could follow through it would ruin the adventure. This story on background i can see to be the type where you pause and have a debate on what has happened and what will happen.
Plot is very thick. Unless you are wise i mean extremely open minded you will fall for each of their traps. Some traps are obvious others are not so much. The idea of the obvious traps with trick later down the road. So the blend is quite smooth.
19: Gregory Horror Show: The Second Guest
Japanese: グレゴリーホラーショー – The Second Guest
MAL Score: 6.60
The second series, The Second Guest is similarly set with 25 stories, except this time the main victim is a woman who has just taken a taxi home from her best friend’s wedding ceremony.
*note p=positive and n=negative
Same idea as season 1 but different gender for main character.
p:kept going with different approaches to common regular things.
n: did not continue from the last season. In fact no mention of the first season at all just the background characters.
n:raised more questions than answers
p:stayed the same as season 1.
p:animation continued to blend smoothly
Mixed: To some regard it added details on the main female character but also took some away as well. For example say i ask for your assistance in cooking. We have a wide arrangement of cooking items laid out on the counter to use. I make it a point to you that i am using some of the ingredients. At the end i don’t show you what i created.
18: Haunted Junction
Japanese: HAUNTED じゃんくしょん
MAL Score: 6.64
Saito High is a high school with its spiritual beings and a principal whose hobby is collecting occult paraphernalia. The school has the prophecy-chosen members of the Holy Student Council to protect it. These students have problems of their own; Haruto Houjo, the president, has a way of summoning spirits, and would resign from his duty for a normal life if it weren’t for the principal. Kazumi Ryodo, the next member, is good at being possessed and has something for the Hanako. The last member is Mutsuki Asahina, who is a master of exorcism and is attracted to small boys. Unfortunately, these three are in charge of keeping the school in line and defending the world from supernatural beings, and this mission brings them through wacky predicaments.
This is standard school plagued with spirits fare for the most part. The Holy Student Council, of which Haruto, Kazumi and Mutsuki are members of, is tasked with keeping spiritual harmony at their school, and they accomplish this by going after errant ghosts and helping them either move on, or at least stop their foolish behaviours.
Although the concept of some ruling body policing otherwordly beings isn’t new, this anime pulls it off in a strict school setting, and in just 12 episodes, bonds are formed within the group through their misadventures that’s a plain joy to watch. Haruto, being the unwilling President of the Holy Student Council, is able to summon all 7 school spirits at his choosing (yeah, whole new meaning to having school spirit). Kazumi and Mutsuki are son and daughter of buhddists/shintoists respectively, and all three houses for a triangle which grants Saito High its unusual paranormal phenomenoms.
Eh, not much to say here, the art is standard for anime, although the sequence of summoning the spirits is fun to watch, reminiscent of Sailor Moon (yes, you enjoyed it when you first saw Sailor Moon and her transformation, admit it) and a little bit of fan service goes a long way in anime like this, which are usually overlooked in favor of more high profile paranormal police anime (Yusuke, I’m looking at you!)
There aren’t really that many special sound effects or much, but a particularly funny and enjoyable part of this anime is the summoning sequence, in which Haruto says "Welcooooome" (yes, in engrish) and every episode except the sixth, which ends in a splendid "OH MY GOD" (also in engrish) for a variety of reasons.
It is interesting to see the interactions between Haruto and his fellow Holy Council members, seeing as how he just wishes for a normal life. These interactions add a great deal of depth and conflict to what would otherwise be a happi-go-lucky anime of high school students having fun chasing after various ghosts
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of short anime, like BPS, Maburaho and some others, but this one is the most that struck me, as it has real character development, interesting side stories and a lot more I don’t wish to spoil. So hurry up and watch this anime! You’ll be glad you did!
[STORY 8] Haruto Houjou just wants to be a normal student, but is suckered in being president of the Holy Student Counsel……and he hates it! Now, with his friends Mutsuki and Kazima they patrol Saito High exorcising spirits, keeping the school spirits in check. It’s always fun in anime when the hero is relunctant, and Haruto plays this role to a 10. The episodes are non-linear and each is focused on a different spirit, or Japanese folklore. The premise puts this series into the mind of Urusei Yatsura or Ranma 1/2, as there is oddball wackiness with some lunatic rouge spirit that must be put in it’s place.
[ART 8] Haunted Junction’s visuals are gold. It might take a little bit getting used to the long-legged, oddly shaped eyed characters, but helps so much when it comes to the visual comedy. The school spirits are adorable (except Bones Suzuki and Harou Sato, they annoyed me after awhile), Red Mantle is probably my favorite, and aside from the summon scene, the animation isn’t too repetitve for a title this old.
[CHARACTER 10] I thought this cast was just going to be a run-of-the-mill trio of teens with powers. Boy, I was off. Haruto is practically driven mad by his task as president and wants to live a mundane, ordinary life. Mutsuki Asahina is the strongest of the three, and as far as I can recall, is one of the few female characters in anime with a vicious shota fetish, and it’s funny watching her torment poor Nino every chance she gets. Mutsuki I find very refreshing, because way too often is the male character pervert portrayed to the point where I think it’s boring now. You don’t get many female perverts in anime and I really appreciate her. Kazumi, the goofball of the trio, is the labeled with the job of getting possessed to properly exorcise the renegade spirits, and has a hopeless crush on the school’s Toilet Hanako, a busty spirit who charms the boys. The school spirits themselves are intoxicatingly entertaining in their individual charm. I would’ve opted for more Mirror Girl and less of the Bones and Sato pair, but I digress. As per comedy anime goes, the cast has to be able to carry it, and the students and spirits of Haunted Junction does to perfection.
[OVERALL ENJOYMENT 9] If you find yourself wanting to look through archives to find a great comedy anime from the 90’s, Haunted Junction is worth checking out. Lightly molded in the style of Ranma and Gegege no Kitaro, it’s of the wall humor mixed with a fantastic cast had me sitting through this. I wish some of the writers of comedy titles of today could do a bit of research with shows like this one and Rumiko Takahashi works and try to recapture the spirit of satire and slapstick that anime like Haunted Junction used to carry so well.
PROS: Great cast, solid retro-styled comedy, very easy to get into
CONS: Mildly underused school spirits (Mirror Girl, Giant)
Ok and now I’m serious. If you’re a fan of comedy or youkai or maybe both you should definitely add this to your ‘plan to watch’ list or even watch it NOW. I’m not a beginner when it comes to anime so I’m surprised how actually good this show is.
The [PLOT-10] is pretty interesting. I’ll give it 10 out of 10. Hilarious how they showed Aka Manto or Teke Teke here. You would enjoy this even if you have no clue at all about youkai, seriously!
The [ART-5] is a typical ’90’s anime so it’s mediocre but that doesn’t matter at all thanks to this fantastic plot!
The [SOUND-6] is nothing fantastic but still not bad, so…
Sometimes main female [CHARACTERS-10] can be such dummies but not when it comes to Asahina. All of girls and boys have their own fantastic personalities and everybody have different tastes so you’re going to be able to find your own personal favourite.
The [ENJOYMENT-10] as you can guess is incredibly high in my opinion but that’s true. This show is something different than the others. You can laugh, cry and learn something new about youkai at the same time. Nothing more to say, no need to explain. Such a shame how unpopular this anime is in our community.
OVERALL – 9 out of 10
17: Warau Salesman
English: Laughing Salesman
MAL Score: 6.64
Each episode follows Fukuzou Moguro, a traveling salesman, and his current customer. Moguro deals in things that give his customers their heart’s desire, and once his deals are made and their unhealthy desires are satisfied, Moguro’s customers are often left with terrible repercussions, especially if they break the rules of his deals…
One good aspect is how condensed the stories are, never being rushed. This anime does a very good job of presenting a different story in a short time every episode, usually the first 2 or 3 minutes, after which comes Moguro offering the miraculous, too good to be true, solution for his client’s problems. The problems are realistic and mundane, with a big portion of the clients being salarymen. A big part of the enjoyment comes from the expectation, each time you begin watching another episode, of seeing in what fucked up way will Moguro ruin someone’s life. I don’t recommend this anime to people who get upset at “mean-spirited” characters of shows. This one’s not about justice or retribution. Moguro doesn’t care if his clients are bad or good people, weak or strong. Many times someone will suffer without having deserved it.
Moguro Fukuzou’s voice acting is great at being both funny and creepy. The character, in appearance, is bizarre-looking compared to the rest, always having the same grinning expression, and his speech is equally distinct. He will always sound like an extremely polite salesman trying to sell something, even when he is angry at someone that broke his promise.
Overall, it’s an anime about 10 minute episodes with independent stories about drama and/or dark humor with bizarre or gruesome endings.
Do not watch if you get upset at fictional characters suffering for no reason.
First of all, Warau Salesman is a Horror-Comedy with pretty heavy social commentary. I don’t know why people always deem it as something else. But lets start at the beginning.
The show is about a mysterious salesman, Moguro Fukuzou, who deals in human souls (the literal japanese translation is “kokorou” which means heart, but its symbolic for souls). He offers people a splendid deal that fits their deepest desires perfectly and that they won’t possibly refuse. All free of charge of course. However, Moguro has always one condition that he makes clear to his clients. If the client breaks that condition, the whole deal is void and Moguro can collect his soul (visualized by basically fucking up his former clients life). Now here is where the whole horror and also social commentary comes in. Moguro himself is of course not a normal salesman yet alone a normal human being. His true origins are never made really clear throughout the whole series, but its safe to say that he is some sort of a devils advocat if not the devil himself. He always hangs in a bar called “Demon Nest” so that basically covers that. And just like some demons Moguro, in some way, has to be invited by the people. If the client is on the hook and agrees to Mogurus terms, from that point on Moguru is in his life for good watching him at all times without being noticed (except if he wants to be noticed). Now why would anybody break a good deal that last forever as long as one tiny condition won’t get violated? Because human beings are selfish, ignorant and greedy scum who always want more! You give them the little pinky and they take the whole hand! And that is the premise of this show and Moguros transactions. He knows of that selfish nature and feasts upon it. He knows eventually every last one of his human clients will turn into a greedy and dishonest pig, so he can collect his souls in peace.
While the first episodes are very tame in regards of violence, some of the later episodes turn out to be quite gorey. But despite all the gore and deep commentary, Warau Salesman is still a funny comedy show with some great humor in it. Not least due to Moguros crazy monologues and self awareness. The events in each episode make up for great situation comedy as well.
If you want sophisticated and social critical, yet dark, crazy and unpredictable comedy this is the show for you. I definitely recommand it!
Give this a shot!
With the new revamp “sequel” this past year titled “Warau Salesman New”, I was surprised to see not a single review for the original series. Essentially, if you have a pessimistic side to you and enjoy dark comedy, you’ll probably get a decent amount of entertainment out of this one. I’ve only been able to find the first season, so this will only be reviewing the first 25 episodes.
In Warau Salesman, Every 10-minute episode features a brand new character. The desires of said character are given to you at the beginning of the episode. Once Moguro appears, he offers a too-good-to-be-true deal for the character. Some characters fall for it right away, others he has to be more persistent with. Rest assured, he closes the deal and you get to see the aftermath of the character’s now-met desires. Depending on how scummy the character it is, the more satisfying Moguro’s wrath becomes. Or in stark contrast, the character doesn’t deserve the treatment at all and you end up feeling pretty sympathetic toward them.
It started airing in 1989, so don’t expect too much from the quality of the animation, artwork and sound. I actually like the old school style, so this was a big plus for me. The thing I liked the most in the artwork were the scenes focusing on the city itself, as it often gives a polluted and sleazy feel to the show. You would also expect the new character’s personalities to bleed into each other and all be the same, but I was impressed that they were able to give new characters a personality of their own for each episode.
Whenever I was having a bad day, I turned an episode of this on and it instantly made me appreciate my life again which is what I liked most about it. Though it has comedic elements, there are some pretty sad and relatable characters within the show. You are bound to relate to at least one of them if you watch long enough. It’s an episodic show, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. Warau Salesman does what it does very well, so you are bound to enjoy the rest of it if you enjoy the first episode.
Overall this is a great show if you are having one of those irritable days where you are annoyed by everything and everyone. I got a good amount of enjoyment of it in that respect. Next time you get into one of those cynical and depressing moods, maybe think about giving Warau Salesman a try.
MAL Score: 6.65
The flames of war explode in the Middle East as two shadow forces unleash monstrous new weapons of mass destruction! But in a world in which giant robots are real, the most dangerous weapon of all lies buried within a human mind. Yuushirou, the fourth son of the mysterious and powerful Gouwa family, finds himself at the center of events that will change the future of mankind forever! Nothing can prepare the human race for what is about to be unleashed in Gasaraki!
The series has a very large cast, and as such, it struggles early on in giving any one character enough attention to establish them as a believable, human individual. For far too long, the protagonists of the series are sidelined to a seemingly inconsequential role of feeling sorry for themselves, and most of the rest of the cast are like talking clichés. This results in a disappointing, flat beginning. But the show does eventually manage to pull in the viewers when things start to come together and the characters are faced with hardship after hardship, the way they handle each obstacle a contribution to their depth of character. By the end of the series I felt a strong affection for many of the characters, and the villains prove to be very satisfying in their antagonistic roles, with Gouda-esque scheming and cunning. The almost iconic Nishida was one of the more interesting characters, a tactical genius and a man of honour and strong values, he provided the backbone for the idealistic elements of the series. Unfortunately, Miharu is never quite granted enough development to make her anything beyond blatantly sympathetic, and Yushiro is often terminally quiet. The more outgoing members of the TA crew proved to be the best source of characterisation from the whole show.
I’m not usually a fan of mecha at all, in fact the mere concept of creating bipedal weapons that dwarf other combatants or transform into jets is just impractical. A man-made bipedal weaponry would not only be incredibly hard and costly to create (just look at how long it took them to get ASIMO waddling about), but it would serve no purpose, having no benefit over existing vehicles of war such as tanks and aircraft. Not to mention, hominoid designs for mecha are only possible to a certain height, whereupon the sheer weight of the mecha would cause its legs and joints to crumble. Gasaraki, however, is the one and only mecha anime where the mecha is both feasible and logically designed. Rather than trying to sell them as useful all-purpose weapons, the “Tactical Armours” or TAs, are portrayed as being optimised for urban combat, where the mobility of tanks is severely limited. They are not oversized, instead built with a stock frame that is able to hold a large array of equipment, ammunition and some missiles. The thought that was put into them is quite impressive, exemplified by the fact that they, realistically, are not flawless super-powered machines. In one of the earlier episodes, for instance, the functionality of the TAs are severely impaired by sand getting into their systems when they enter combat in a desert area. Also, the piloting of a TA is shown to be quite a taxing experience, with the use of drugs to manipulate the pilot’s physical condition being a common occurrence (quite an adept foresight into the direction of warfare). In combat, their mobility is significantly better than alternative vehicles (especially as they are able to hoist themselves up the sides of buildings), but they are not overly dextrous or agile. This down-to-earth, believable portrayal of mecha is something I hadn’t seen done before (or since), and so I give the show credit for its pioneering mecha conception.
However, with that appraisal out of the way, the fact that they are more realistic also means that the action scenes are often slightly subdued and slow, not as exciting as the fast-paced fisticuffs of your usual clichéd mecha. There are a number of action highlights, such as Symbol’s TAs taking out a unit of tanks in Belgistan, and the battle following the awakening of the Kugutsu, but all in all, the action scenes are relatively bland, and sometimes the animation budget clearly isn’t there to support them (such as when the rioting takes place later in the series). A few times, they are made more interesting by the ingenious use of the TAs many functions to escape a tight situation. The show maintains a relatively fast pace right the way through, so it isn’t lacking in excitement, but don’t expect to be blown away with intense action sequences. On the whole, the production values get the job done but do not excel. The character designs are different, but, with the exclusion of the Gowa family, also uite unappealing. There are a number of reused cels and shortcuts in the animation are apparent at times. The music, on the other hand, is remarkable, with an ethereal clash of archaic Japanese and modern, militaristic sounds. This melding of sounds is exemplified best by the OP, which I consider a musical accomplishment, and quite possibly my favourite anime OP ever. The soundtrack is fittingly haunting and refreshingly innovative.
So, where the characters and the production are the sources of most of the show’s flaws, the plot is an understated success, crafting a complex mythos for the gasaraki, as well as deftly utilising the global economy as the stage for a truly modernistic conflict. The way the series balances, or rather, collides the old and the new through its exploration of multiple timelines, one set in archaic Japan and the other in the near-future, is clever and engaging. It mirrors the thematic core of the series, which is all about the conflict between traditional and modern values, and the resultant direction of human civilisation. I especially love the story behind the Gasaraki, and their plight was a nice way to cap off the themes of the show in a thought-provoking manner. I will also attest to the fact that Gasaraki truly nails the fragile balance between mystery and explanation; where many anime leave frustrating plotholes, Gasaraki leaves a hazy sense of unknown which compliments the new-age mythical tone of the show. It helps that I’m a great fan of political espionage and conspiracy, as a good portion of the show is spent scheming and plotting, as well as exposition interestingly delivered through news reports. There is a lot of dialogue, and the story is quite involved, so it’s not a show you can casually skip through. That’s not to say it becomes bogged down in pointless dialogue; there should be enough going on to keep anyone interested.
All in all, Gasaraki is a series that should be applauded for trying something new and interesting with the mecha genre, and for the amount of thought that went into its complex story, but is one that failed to live up to its potential through unexceptional production and often poorly written characters. It’s a series that will be highly enjoyed by anyone with the fortitude to watch past its opening episodes, and for anyone who really appreciates innovation and a creative story. Those who simply must have strong dramatic elements to their anime, or who are likely to be apathetic toward the cool mecha designs may find the show very disappointing. In any case, its milestone treatment of mecha as more than a fanciful superweapon, is one that no other anime has put in the effort to match, and its plot is several cuts above the cliché that plagues the mecha genre.
Gasaraki is a relatively unknown anime series. Instead of concentrating on battles in their machines, it revolves more around family politics and politics.
The story revolves around Yushiro Gowa, the fourth son in the Gowa family. The largest company in Japan. His family puts him in the volunteer part of the experimental Mecha unit. Then things erupt in the Middle East, and a Nato/UN is sent in, and are pushed back by a unknown force. The Gowa family learns that there is another Mecha unit and send in theirs without UN permission. Things get really complicated then, Yushiro meets the leader of the other Mecha unit Miharu and things begin to come clear in Yushiro’s life. After the UN forces defeat the Middle East country, the United States finds out about the Mecha units and tries to take them for them selfs. That’s just story through the first ten episodes. Like I said a lot of political intrigue. I’m not going to go much further let’s just say it puts the United States and Japan a odds, and maybe that’s what some people want inside Japan to shake it up, because they feel Japan is America’s slave.
I know this came out before the Iraq war, but there are is a lot of similarities to what’s going on right now, and it’s doesn’t show a good impression of the United States, Japan, and the UN. The story was captivating, the Mecha battles were believable, nothing over the top. The character’s seemed real, and believable. The only thing that kept it getting a 10 was the ending. It was a little anti climatic, other wise the show was great.
Gasaraki takes place in a not-so-distant sci-fi future. Illegal immigration is a (seemingly) huge problem in Japan due to the effects of globalist economics, which has built up the illusion of economic superiority in developed, globalist economies. On the minds of the Japanese people (or so we’re told) is the desire for consumption, luxury, and the satisfaction of immediate desires. The interconnected international community, of course, is highly sensitive to huge changes, and an upstart in the Middle East (where else?) has created a problem that needs to be taken care of by all those with interests in keeping the Progress moving.
Enter the TAs. What better way to show-off your cool new mechs than going to the Middle East and hopefully (but is it really even necessary?) kick some ass. The first thing that one will take note of is the incredibly realistic mech designs. Their grittiness perfectly fits in to the muted, militaristic color tones present throughout the series’ design. A design that even extends into the past (hey, it fits into the theme!)
The mechs (TAs) themselves aren’t really the main focus in the grand scheme of things, although you’ll get a nice bit of detail into how they work, and it’s great that they’re realistic enough that it seems probably that they could work as portrayed. Instead, we have the spotlight shining on a whole mess of characters. Like the TAs, we get a sense that most of these people are simply cogs in a political/militaristic machine, that has been turning for centuries. There are those, it seems, that can gain control of this machine (the ‘terror’ ?) and our main character Yuushirou is one who has the ability to control some crazy thing in order to get closer to that power.
Of course, with a power like that, who wouldn’t want to use him as a means to their end? His own powerful family isn’t going to sit by and let someone else harness his ability, so they do what they’re supposed to do, be ‘mean’ to him…
In my opinion this anime shines in its literal discussion (not just exploration) of themes that define the will of human beings to take control of themselves, create civilization, and steer its progress. Therefore, it t is no surprise that politics and the military play such an important role in the anime because it is through these channels that modern man is able to accomplish change. The narrative mirrors this in a way I can only describe as ingenious: the content of the narrative becomes the movement of the narrative itself.
What we see happening on the micro level (this story) has been occurring in a much grander scale throughout all of human history.
So, what is it that Gasaraki is trying to say? Up until the very end there doesn’t seem to be any overarching morality that the show is trying to espouse. Instead we have individuals ompeting to force their own vision onto the whole of human civilization. And at the end, well it’s something….
Something I find most interesting is the portrayal of the TAs/kugai as vessels which contain the gods humans want to keep closest to them. Those gods really being a certain ambition within us all. That these vessels, in both instances, would also be weapons is quite telling. (see also: swords)
One of the individuals I find most interesting is Nishida, a scholar with the hope of rejecting the progress that has been made and instead descend into a more pure and idealized system. Another is the eldest (?) Gowa brother who does the opposite. The focus is on these big-shots , regulating even our main characters to the level of small-timers. This dichotomy between the big-shots and the small-fries becomes an important part of the series. Big-shots hope to shape the world with their ideals, become fate, while small-fries simply want to see fate as something not etched in stone but forever changing, and live their lives according to their own much smaller and more ephemeral dreams. This difference of perspective is really the only way we can gauge good vs evil, for the most part what is right and wrong gets lost in the force of those attempting to control the narrative. That our main characters struggle with one perspective, may be a clue as to the moral direction this series wants to take.
In terms of thematic content we have: the TA/kugai, pilot/kai parallel, the theater stage and the stage of fate, the eternal conflicts of civilizations and the eternal conflicts of ideas, chaos on the small and grand scale, mortality and immortality, human-ness and anti-human-ness, progress that leads to destruction and the destruction that leads to progress, the sapling that grows among the rubble and the husk that topples under its own weight, the personification of history/fate, the oppressiveness of fate and the rejection of fate, human monkey-ness and human being-ness..and many more.
The anime is also executed well. I think the direction, pacing is spot on. Opening and ending themes are incredible.
Gasaraki is a slow-moving, dialogue-heavy, dark, and realistic anime that asks some of the most important and relevant questions about ourselves and our desires as human beings, especially of those human beings who have power over all others. It also serves as a decent predictor of what has happened since 1998. 8/10.
15: Bakuretsu Hunters
English: Sorcerer Hunters
MAL Score: 6.69
In the continent of spooner, sorcerers, who are the continent’s aristocrats, have begun to abuse their powers. Under the guidance of Big Momma (their boss) Carrot (who turns into a giant monster every time he’s placed under a magic spell), Gateau (a bodybuilder), Marron (a mage), Chocolate and Tira (who can transform into dominatrix’s at will) must stop the evil sorcerers from picking on the weak; however, none of them (except maybe Marron) have a clue to what’s going on.
This show starts off with each episode having its own plot line, but eventually once we get some back stories, the full plot comes into view. There is nothing really complicated about the story, nothing intricate, in fact it is a very linear plot line, but that doesn’t mean its not interesting. And things do pick up a lot in the second half of the series (known as the Spell Wars)
Through the story, we get to know the characters very well, getting flashbacks and such so we can have a better understanding of the relationships they share with eachother. The characters themselves are all quite crazy in some way, they definitely keep you liking them. The emotional/sexual tension between them is always good for a laugh as well.
The art is done decently, not top notch, but for the old hand colored style, it is great. although the personalities of the characters keep the mood up, the color schemes and overall environment of the show tends to place a dark tone which is a nice balance, especially towards the end.
The sound is very good in this show. they use of comical effects and magical ones is on the ball, and everything from character themes to the opening and closings are very enjoyable to listen to. I have seen both the dub and sub, and must say the dub is pretty funny, they really brought out the characters with it, but the sub is also done amazingly. I think i would recommend the sub over dub just because in the dub, Tira can be annoying to listen to, and she doesn’t seem to have the best match up ever.
Overall, they mix of drama and comedy is done very well, especially as the show goes on. The secrets that some of the characters possess are also very fascinating to learn about. A great watch, very entertaining. Check it out.
By and large, the bulk of the series are stand alone episodes. The Hunters recieve a job from Big Mama, they go to some new town, find a new evil sorceror, kick his ass, and then move on to the next episode. These things are light and really empty. They aren’t bad, they just aren’t that good either. Since each episode features a different bad guy – as well as different side characters – there is very little chance for anything to feel like a threat or for the audience to get attached to the side characters.
As the series moves on, it does develop a larger, VERY epic-in-it’s-scope, story, but even that feels hollow. The show’s main villain is totally one-note, his motivations are lacking, and the conflict between him and the Hunters is almost never touched upon.
The characters themselves are really just empty and that’s what bothered me most about the show. The basic idea of the cast is nice – there’s a love triangle going on between Carrot/Chocolate/Tira, but with the caveat that Carrot isn’t interested in either of the girls. They grew up together and so he thinks of them as sisters, but this isn’t stated until the show is practically over. Given that Carrot spends 90% of the show chasing after women, it’s hard to understand why he doesn’t just give these ladies what they want when no one tells you WHY he won’t.
Gateau and Marin have a sub-plot in that it seems like they’re an item – or at least that Gateau has feelings for Marin – but again, this is never touched upon or developed. Perfectly good drama, wasted!
When it’s all said and done, I’m really torn on this show. If this was something I had seen when I first got into anime – if this ever aired on Toonami – I’m sure I’d be a fan. The comedy is there, there’s a touch of ecchiness, there’s action, and the animation in most episodes is clean. There are the usual animation shortcuts – namely repetative transformation sequences – but that’s standard for anime. The twists at the ending were interesting as well. But I feel like I’ve seen all of this before and seen it done better.
If you have nothing better to watch, then I’d be fine suggesting this. Otherwise, pass this up.
We meet the characters a bit forcefully with some being rather pushy and perverted and others being rather expository. They imply that they have been traveling around a great deal already and so some things have to be worded out a bit oddly so we could understand them. I do have to wonder why the girls end up changing personalities when they take off their clothing. I’m also not sold on their names being the names of pastries. It makes me think they should be French or something.
I wish Big Mama would actually explain a bit more about what the flash backs are about and who the male is that she thinks about it. I also wish they would say her real name a bit more then calling her Big Mama. No offense but when they call her that, I can’t help thinking about a large black women being called that instead of her. From what I know of, she isn’t even a mother to them so why call her big Mama?
The animation is rather nice, having that old vintage charm. Sometimes the characters look stiff, and other times it’s like they have runny egg symptoms. Carrot is the most out of control on the runny eggs images where his body doesn’t seem to want to keep his shape. He frails his arms around like crazy and at times looks like he’s actually broken or made from rags. The other characters don’t really have times like this (Well, the girls mostly do but not as badly as Carrot) so why change it.
The English voices are alright in a bit, though Terra and Chocolate are actually really annoying. They are high pitched and rather whinny. I don’t have much wrong for the males because they don’t hurt my ears. I fell in love with Marron’s voice, the younger of the brother. The scripts are pretty forced and end up having to explain a lot sadly, taking away the charm. Other then that, the rest of it is pretty tongue and cheek with the comedy. Sometimes, how they talk is actually way too hard to figure out. They end up mumbling or screaming into the mic which makes things hard to understand.
14: Gegege no Kitarou (1996)
English: Spooky Kitaro
MAL Score: 6.72
Kitarou, a ghost, spends his afterlife helping humans in need of his skills. He thwarts the plans of evil spirits who live to torment humanity. This time, Kitarou’s friend Megumi is in need of his help. Her father, a botanist, went to Baruru Island to study the plant life there, and was subsequently kidnapped by evil spirits. It’s up to Kitarou to save him.
13: Aa! Megami-sama!: Chichaitte Koto wa Benri da ne
English: Oh! My Goddess: The Adventures of Mini-Goddess
Japanese: ああっ女神さまっ 小っちゃいって事は便利だねっ
MAL Score: 6.90
A large collection consisting of the adventures of the Goddesses featured in the anime and manga series Ah My Goddess. Parodies of other works, and a large number of jokes pervade this series of shorts in which the Goddesses torture and hang out with their friend Gan the rat.
Story: 6 (Most issues evolve around Gan-chan)
Art: 7 (Same style as Ah! My Goddess)
Sound: 7 (All the sound FX you would expect in a comedy)
Character: 8 (Great idea putting support cast in main roles)
Enjoyment: 6 (Fairly funny for a kids comedy)
Overall: 3/50 = 6.6 = 6.0 (5 minutes of a fun show )
Mini Goddess is to Ah My Goddess as Tiny Toons is to Loony Tunes. Basically a chibi version of the goddesses Urd, Skuld, and Belldandy. They’re a lot funnier, cuter, and wacky compared to its normal counterpart. First off, you should know that Keiichi and Belldandy aren’t the main characters. Urd, Skuld, and a new character named Gan-chan are the main characters in this show. I especially like this since there is more screen time for Urd and Skuld. Belldandy is more of a supporting cast and its perfectly fine. It’s not a show to be taken serious since the episodes last around 5 minutes with a 2 minute ending theme song. With the limited time, the episode stories are all pretty much made up of "what if" episodes, parodies, silly situations, and afterthoughts. It almost feels like they were just making it up as they went, but thats just how the show is constructed. This puts a whole new spin on random sitcom anime with the only comparable show (that I know of) to this one is Tiny Toons. If you don’t know what that is feel free to search the internet. One episode said it best: "Why do you call it the adventures of mini-goddesses when all you guys do is mess things up." It’s so hilarious but true!
On a technical standpoint, the art and animation was perfectly fine. All kept in the same style of Ah! My Goddess style. But slight details will be left out to keep the characters in a chibi feel to them. Since this is a comedy in the simplest sense, the animation’s are mostly contrived of comical sight gags and limited frame rates. The visual issues are placed well enough to convince the viewers its for comical purposes. And it plays out pretty convincingly. The voice actors are kept all the same and still retain their greatness, and even the ending theme song is pretty cute although it never changes.
Some people might take a while getting used to Gan-chan as being one of the main characters. But after a while you will most likely end up getting used to him as he and the Goddesses get stuck in many silly situations. It’s obvious this is geared toward a younger audience, but people will still be able to find a few laughs in this show regardless of age. Even I had a few favorite episodes, but there are much more funnier shows than this. If you’re a big fan of Ah! My Goddess or if you enjoy silly comedy slapstic or even if you’re a big fan of Urd and/or Skuld, definitely give this show a shot. And don’t be fooled by the episode number, you can finish this whole show in about 4-6 hours time.
Chibi artwork hasn’t anything really exceptional. If you feel stressed and wants to be free from it, watch few episodes, they are really short. Perfect anime for casual times.
It mostly revolves around Gan-chan whom is a somewhat clumsy mouse who loves food. There’s no real main storyline it’s just a cute kid show.
The art is good but the same as the OVA.
It’s the common sound effects from any ordinary kids comedy show.
Cute, funny, and adventurous. Gan-chan was clumsy but pretty cool and Belldandy, Skuld, and Urd were the same as always.
It was 48 episodes long and it got really boring sometimes so it wasn’t all that great.
12: Senkaiden Houshin Engi
English: Soul Hunter
Japanese: 仙界伝 封神演義
MAL Score: 7.11
Thousands of years ago, it was a time of witchcraft and dark magic. An evil sorceress has bewitched the emperor of the mighty dynasty and he has become a mindless puppet. The country is in shambles, and evil spirits lurk everywhere. The human world is on the verge of utter destruction. A bold mission is planned by the Confederation of the Immortal Masters. They send a young master wizard to hunt down the villains and evil warlocks in the devastated lands.
That’s enough History let’s get into the details.
The story takes place in Ancient China, when the five great Kingdoms come into power. The story is also based on a Chinese folklore, just like The Great Journey West (which is the basis of the Dragon Ball story line). The world is split into two planes, the plane of mortals and the plane of Doshin. Doshin are like immortal spirits or demi gods in the Chinese folklore. Our main character is a lazy Senin named Taikoubou, basically he’s training to become a Doshin, who is sent on a quest to capture over a 1000 Yokai (aka Demons) that plague the Mortal world. Taikoubou doesn’t like fighting but uses his sear wits to out smart his enemies. Though he seems to get himself into near death situations, he always proves victorious in the end, while accompanied by fellow mortals, Senin, Doshin, and even Yokai that wish to make the world a better place.
The characters are all likeable, and you’ll eventually pick your favorite character since the story also revolves many of Taikobou’s companions. Along with a mythical or fantasy like storyline, many characters have some futuristic looking weapons like lightsabers, laser cannons, with a splash of some panda looking robots. Another good mention is that there many awesome battles where they use the natural elements as their weapons, so action junkies will get their fill.
With many pros there are also a few cons. Even though the series was made near the turn of a new millennium, but it still looks like it came from the late 80s or early 90s. The show has a lot of political intrigue so prepare yourself for half hours of war and economic strategies (feels like I’m watching the news). The series is also 26 episodes long so you won’t get your fill, and trust me there is no continued storyline either.
All in all its worth watching. There are complete DVD box sets of the whole series at Best Buy or FYE for like $29.99. And for those who have ever played Shonen Jump Super Stars on their DS and never learned the name of that bunny eared character you’ve just learned now.
And that’s all I have to say
Based on Ryu Fugisaki’s epic manga series Houshin Engi, Soul Hunter had all the potential to be a master piece in itself. But the constraints of condensing over 200 chapters of vivid narration into 26 episodes of animation not only forced the title off to an entirely different plot tangent but also off the leader boards of great anime.
The story is your typical shounen in which the protagonist is made to face a myriad of powerful oppositions and does so with the aid of a growing group of allies each with distinct and varying abilities. With that said, Soul Hunter doesn’t differ all that much from the conventional, but (also as a side note for those you’ve read the manga) Soul Hunter initiates rather faithfully to the base plot of the manga, though given the constraints of only 26 episodes, it’s no surprise that the series much conclude on an alternate route. However, this is where the anime really falls short, because in its attempt to replicate the manga, the anime instigates a range of big ideas and concepts about humanity, history, immortality and the prospect of a greater omniscient power- which the ending never got around to address nor justify.
In short the anime grind on slowly with minor development per episode, while the ending was to a large extent very ironically rushed.
ART & SOUND:
Soul Hunter is not a new anime and with that I hope to have justified my stance on its lacklustre animation and odd assertions of elevator style background music. There are numerous occasions where the animation was limited to the panning of a still image and though limited screen frames are really no fault of the anime itself, it’s common occurrence was (at least to me) a serious impairment to the overall quality of the show. Sound in general was mediocre throughout the series, with low emphasis on both diegetic and non diegetic sounds, the anime suffered greatly in its attempts to capture and create ambiance.
For a 26 episode series, to incorporate the full cast of its manga predecessor would be highly unlikely, though the anime did make an effort. But that’s just the problem, the show attempts to give air time to a range of major characters (or rather, the key ‘fighters’ of the series) and neglects the fact that in showing them all, none of those characters under go any major development, there was no learning curve for the characters and everyone just conveniently reaches an epitome in the time of need. Indeed, this may be a reflection of episode constraints, but realistically speaking, you can take this as a warning to just postpone watching this show.
Having read the manga, I acknowledge that I may be biased in saying that the anime really didn’t amount to much for me. The fight scenes are mediocre, the emotional scenes aren’t sad, the humour is forced and the while it’s possible to get a laugh or two out of the series, that’s really all there is.
For those who’ve read and enjoyed the original manga, you WILL be disappointed, especially since none of Fugisaki sensei’s genius will be evident here and none of depth, emotion and characterisation that made the manga great can be found here either.
For those who haven’t read the manga, then yes, you’ve guessed it- this is not the place to start getting into the series. Period.
11: Boogiepop wa Warawanai
English: Boogiepop Phantom
Japanese: ブギーポップは笑わない Boogiepop Phantom
MAL Score: 7.16
Five years ago, a string of grisly murders shook the city to its core and now the rumors have begun once more. Boogiepop… Everyone knows about Boogiepop: meet her one dark night and you are taken. People tell each other the stories and laugh: no one believes that she can possibly exist in this day and age. Still, strange things appear to be going on and the darkness is taking on many forms. Something is out there. Are you safe?
Peppered with some of the best sound editing I’ve ever heard in an anime, this montage of scarred urbanites and neo-humans colliding into each other violently is the forbearer for anime hits like Baccano. Boogiepop Phantom began the light novel trend in Japan and has spanned multiple mediums to tell this fractured story of an urban legend stalking the streets of urban Japan dispatching creeps who feed on cute school kids.
I could go more into the story, but that’s not what a review is meant to do. If you want story, go read the synopsis or Wiki it. I’ll talk about the viewing experience. This anime is heavy with mood, similar to Serial Experiments Lain in many ways, but what makes this anime stand out by itself is the superb sound production which not only elevates the content but is seemingly an essential part of it. The sound is a core part of the story, guiding the viewer through each sordid tale; through each blood-soaked tragedy, with its eclectic music (everything from electro, drum & bass, to fusion) and reverberating soundscapes.
Each episode plops you firmly into the point of view of various troubled characters battling demons both real and imagined, and all the while small threads appear and disappear, threads tying these character biographies into the larger mystery of what occurs in the opening five minutes of the show.
A five minutes incidentally which are excellently written and directed, a perfect primer for what to expect with this show. If you feel like bailing out after those five minutes, then you should, because you won’t appreciate what happens for the next eleven episodes, which is more of the same quality of storytelling. Boogiepop Phantom excels in both ‘show dont tell’ and voice-overs. I’ve lamented the usage of voice-overs in anime many times, calling it a lazy screenwriting tool, but it’s used perfectly in Boogiepop Phantom. Character voice-overs actually tell us things we don’t know, and give us insight into their motives.
A review is meant to help make up your mind. If I were Miss Boogiepop Phantom herself, I’d shoot a psychic grapple hook into your mind and pull you into this trendsetting show so you could experience terror and awe, as only a viewer should when watching a classic anime.
Told through a semi-episodic structure, Boogiepop Phantom follows the lives of young teens who have fallen victim to the consequences of a series of incidents dating five years into the past, some of who obtained strange supernatural powers. Among the students a rumor begins to spread, that of an unearthly creature lurking in the shadows of the city; a phantom-like entity that is believed to be the very personification of Death itself. And while the rumor is being laughed off, the children keep going missing.
The story is told through a rather convoluted fashion. This type of storytelling feels more like a jigsaw puzzle than your regular chronologically-linear structure that is most commonly used. Boogiepop Phantom tells a story through several different timelines and a series of seemingly unconnected events that are told out of order. It is a rather methodical show, systematically introducing elements to the narrative that adds to the ever-growing mystery surrounding the series, but also providing enough evidence and information for the viewer to follow the plot on the most basic level. The series never caters the viewer by giving info-dumps or connecting pieces for them. Instead, the story is jam-packed with different plot elements and variables, and it can be hard to pick up on all of them. If you are a casual watcher and have a problem with banging your head against the wall trying to figure out where and how to fit single pieces of the plot into the puzzle, I highly recommend you to stay away from this series.
The reason the show decided to use such a type of storytelling is because it allows the characters to take over the spotlight, leaving the story to unfold itself in the background. As I previously mentioned, the show revolves around a group of young teens striving on their way towards adulthood, and the series examines each character, allowing the viewer to project themselves onto them. This way, we are allowed to get to know and understand each of the characters: the way they observe and perceive the world around them, how they fit (or don’t fit) into the society, the problems they face and the hardships they deal with. This is where the show gets a lot darker, as it touches upon some of the more disturbing and maybe even controversial topics regarding the lives of the characters. While it doesn’t go into too much depth with the psycho-analysis, it does do an amazing job presenting the characters as individuals and helping the viewer understand them and what they are going through. This also allows the show itself to approach the story from different angles, and address certain subjects revolving around it, using the characters as googles to observe the world and the events. These stories are usually interconnected in one way or another, so they often intertwin. While the connections aren’t important or necessary to the story and bigger picture in general, they are used as a well-thought reminder for the viewer to recall the past events, or the ones from the previous episodes, allowing an easier understanding of the whole piece.
Now, while the show revolves around a different character each episode, there are a few characters (and entities) that are moving the main plot forward. I won’t go into too much detail here, due to this being a very spoiler-heavy area, in order to provide a better viewing experience. Aside from Boogiepop, AKA the ”Angel of Death”, as referred to in the anime, another character worth mentioning is Kirima Nagi. Nagi is usually referred to as the ”Fire Witch” throughout the show, due to her ability to use and control fire that she gained in the aforementioned incident five years ago. Being aware of how dangerous and uncontrollable her powers can be she decided to distance herself from her friends and people in general. She appears to be a superhero-like figure in the Boogiepop saga, being heavily devoted to protecting the world from whatever threats may come. Very strong both physically and mentally, Nagi is usually the one confronting the unknown entities throughout the series. Having that Boogiepop is not the only supernatural entity haunting the city, it is also the habitat of other creatures, such as the Pied Piper-like child who encounters people who have regrets in the directions their lives took, and takes away the manifestation of their youth, leaving but a raw, empty shell, or a fastly-aging, and seemingly autistic girl that plays with butterflies that can draw memories out of people.
As you might have already guessed already, Boogiepop Phantom is a show that primarily revolves around dealing with changes throughout certain points in our lives. It uses memories, the ”borrowed” concept of Serial Experiments Lain, to present the young teenagers’ need to retreat from the reality that they are not used to due to their immaturity, and the consequences of turning to escapism. It shows their hopeless and unprepared struggle when having to take responsibility and face the consequences for the choices they made. Throughout the series, the characters are shown dealing with such in the most bizarre ways; having them create their own versions of reality, creating a rather distorted view of the world, or even locking themselves into their very own childhood memories, refusing to face up to the facts. And through such disfigured views, Boogiepop observes the entire society, leaving strong commentary on it.
Where the show really stands out the most is in its audiovisual appeal. The show has a very unique visual design, especially when it comes to the design of the characters. They appear very humanoid, being completely devoid of the usual features characteristic for the anime medium, such as huge eyes, weird hair designs and unnatural hair colors. The reason for this is twofold: the main reason being the need to set the baseline of normality in the show, and establish the basic sense of realism. In a series where so many supernatural things happen the viewer must be able to distinguish what ‘normal’ is, in order to understand the abnormal. Secondly, the natural design allows the viewer to project themselves onto the characters more easily, and makes the drama all the more believable. It’s also devoid of the usual anime gimmick in the form of caricature faces, exaggerated expressions, or anything that could damage the tense mood of the series. The show uses a reduced color palette to create a sepia-like tone, pulled through a vignette effect, creating a sense of emotional malaise. This not only establishes the unsettling mood for the series, which is afterall a horror/thriller show, but also helps put the main happening in the literal center of the screen. Unfortunately, Boogiepop suffers from the lack of budget and weak technical merits that are manifested through inconsistent animation, low-quality visuals and still shots. The sound design consists of synthesized avant-garde music carried by a leitmotif in the form of an active sonar pulse, and is mostly used to convey drama in the sound-mixing. As its predecessor Serial Experiments Lain, Boogiepop Phantom also feels the most comfortable playing with the silence, and using the loud, sharp electronic sounds to emphasize the important change in the mood change in tone.
Unsettling, cryptic but overall insightful, Boogiepop Phantom is a horror that treats both the viewer and the genre with respect. It is a very mind-boggling show that never takes itself too lightly, and doesn’t expect anything other than that in return. If you are willing to fully commit to it, you can expect to be heavily rewarded in the end by everything that this “spooky sepia puzzle” has to offer.
First off, Boogiepop is a horror anime, pretty much like Elfen Lied and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and all three shows also have a few similarities: blood, gory violence, very disturbing, great art and animation, and a dive into the human psyche. But then again, there are the differences between the three and what makes Boogiepop different from the other two is also what makes it so amazing.
What makes it truly stand out completely is the art/animation. Throughout the entire show(except the last episode), the art is done in a dark, hazy, blurry, sepia tone; the animation is good but sadly the character designs are very bland and make it almost impossible to tell everyone apart. Both art and animation are really good, but they make the show a lot more confusing the it’s own plot line which I will get to right now.
The story for the show is very non-linear, if you go into this without knowing anything about it, you’ll get left behind scratching your head for sure. Boogiepop takes place in an unamed city in Japan where a month ago, a pillar of light appeared out of nowhere and strange things start to happen along with some nasty murders that seem connected to another killing spree from five years ago. Actually, trying to come up with a brief synopsis for this show is honestly very difficult, so lets just leave it at that for now. From time to time, the show would focus on a certain character and learn about them and their connection to the events. Just like the works of Satoshi Kon, Boogiepop is very very psychological and when it comes to the human psyche, it goes in way deep than you would image. There are also some themes in this show such as: change, relationships, dualism, and escapism.
Finally sound; not only does Boogiepop having great sound editing, but it also has some of the best music ever composed in an anime. The music mainly consist of gregorian, experimental electronica, and mostly just sound effects made for the anime. I haven’t heard much of the Japanese dub, but the english dub is really good; Right Stuf International did a great job with the dub if I say so myself.
Elfen Lied and Higurashi are indeed both great horror anime, but to me, Boogiepop Phantom is one of the most underrated horror anime as well as one of the most overlooked anime in general. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something good and scary to watch. Multiple viewings are a must for Boogiepop Phantom.
10: GS Mikami
MAL Score: 7.20
In a world plagued with malicious ghosts, how is it possible to combat the existence of such evil spirits? The answer is to hire a “Ghost Sweeper”—a professional exorcist, whose duty is to exterminate any unwanted ghoul or poltergeist.
When it comes to Ghost Sweepers, Reiko Mikami is considered to be a cut above the rest. After receiving an offer to examine a haunting near Jinkotsu Hot Spring, she sets off to put her skills to work. Accompanied by her assistants, the underpaid and perverted high school student Tadao Yokoshima and the friendly teenage ghost Kinu Himuro, GS Mikami details the wacky exploits and adventures of these three as they go about investigating paranormal activities.
With the exception of a small number of 2-parters, the series is episodic and you can jump into any episode with little to no prior familiarity. However, in addition to the main trio, there will be some reoccurring characters such as fellow Ghost Sweepers Meiko and Emi; the alchemist Dr. Chaos and his android assistant Maria; and Mikami’s former teacher and his current discipline, Pete, a half-breed vampire.
Each character has their own function that works in a formulaic sense and do something. Unfortunately, you will need to read the manga if you want any background and development on the characters. The manga expands why Yokoshima has some spiritual prowess and also goes into the details of their back stories. But the anime does a good job of justifying it by demonstrating a lot of tabla rasa to make sort of make you forgive that. Still the series does go beyond fighting ghosts. They fight other super natural beings such as gremilns, sea creatures, and vampires. What also keeps this series from being a bit repetitive is sometimes the ghost isn’t bad, but needs help in other forms in order to move on.
In addition, the series spoofs of 90s pop culture so pop culture buffs may enjoy this. What mostly drives the series is its comedy. Even though Mikami is this sexy lady, I am glad it doesn’t get repeatedly exploited as pointless fan service. She is only used in that way a small number of times and works in the right context. Dr. Chaos being broke is another source of its comedy despite claiming to be this genius. It goes on.
The art is rather simple but still a little distinct. The design works in a way that it is easy to emulate if you want to try some fan art, but still has a sharpness that brings a mature feel.
The grainy contrast brings that urban and ghastly feel, but the bright colors with the clothing brings a convenient “flash” and youth friendly atmosphere. The action is nothing revolutionary like “Dragon Ball Z” during this time but works in its own way. Mikami uses something like a light sabre and Shinto chants to combat the ghosts which brings modern cinema with Japanese traditions. Overall, it is bearable but nothing outstanding.
Some of you may now the voice of Horikawa Ryo and Tsuru Hiromi as the voices of Vegeta and Bulma from Dragon Ball Z, but in this anime, they are the voices of Yokoshima and Mikami. If you’re familiar with Tsuru’s role as Bulma, then you will instantly recognise her voice and it works with her character with being sexy but yet all-business. Horikawa Ryo, as always seems to amaze me. Not only as his performance as Vegeta, but also as Shun from Saint Seiya. As Vegeta, he’s vicious, as Shun he is feminine, and now as Yokoshima, he is this hormone driven teenager and he just manages to pull it off. The man has many talents as a voice actor and probably one of the best. Other notable seiyuus are Chiba Shigeru as Dr. Chaos and Morikawa Toshiyuki as Pete.
The music also works perfectly with the series. The chiming synthesisers in the hook of the opening theme and the sexy jazz in the background music brings the urban feel, the supernatural, and the sex appeal come together as one and for that.
Well, this series is no Yuu Yuu Hakusho, but if you want something short and episodic and doesn’t require much of an attention span, this might be the series for you. If you want an anime to just pass the time.
There are some interesting threads that never get followed up much. For example, Yokoshima seems to have some real spiritual power, but nothing much happens with it. There is also a very slowly developing romantic thing between Yokoshima and Okinu. It would have been great to make more progress on this. The other characters that show up from time to time are interesting as well but I find myself wishing they had more development.
There are some pretty funny moments though. This show makes great use of long pauses for comedy and some pretty crazy distortions of character model for Yokoshima’s legendary pervyness. Worth watching when you want some 90s-ish comedy no-commitment fun.
The series is set in 90’s Japan where ghosts & demons are quite common. To get rid of these phantasms “Ghost Sweepers” are hired to exorcise them. One of these Ghost Sweepers is the gold digger Mikami Reiko & her assistants the “thirsty” Yokoshima & the ghost Okinu. Much of the anime focuses on these characters daily life but they are filled with comedy & their encounters with various spirits, however it can get a bit dark at times.
Similar to Hell Teacher Nube, Ghost Sweeper Mikami tends to be episodic with some stories being 2-3 episodes long which can vary from facing ghosts, possessed artifacts, demons, vampires, yokai & even mythical creatures, but the highlight of this series are the characters & the comedy brought from them. As the series continues, more characters are introduced such as other sweepers like Emi, Meiko, Pete, Karasu, Dr. Chaos & the android Maria. There’s several other characters but these are the most recurring.
Much of the comedy does come from Yokoshima as he is easily one of the most hilarious, perverted & miserable anime characters. Most of his conflicts often end in misery with Yokoshima getting the short end of the stick & often being “pussywhipped” by his boss Mikami whom he has a mad thirst for. (Who wouldn’t?) Similar to Lina Inverse from The Slayers, Mikami is very self centered often choosing money over the safety of her friends, well specifically Yokoshima. Most of the anime’s charm comes from these two characters as they often backstab each other for their own selfish gains but at times display some affection only to be shattered by a good gag. Mikami as character is selfish & quite formidable as a ghost sweeper which is a great trait for an independent woman character. If you like her then you should like the anime.
As much as i like the series, I would’ve preferred if got a bit serious, while there are some episodes which were dramatic & contained some good fight scenes, it would’ve benefited if more of those drama episodes were featured in the series. Although, what it lacks in story is made up by its heart as the series can get a bit cheerful at times, especially with its xmas & new years episodes.
Being made in the 90’s, this is definitely one of Toei Animation’s good looking show as its uses a wide assortment of colors due to each characters specific exorcism style & through the various types of ghosts. Along with good animation is the soundtrack as most of it ranges from chilling horror music to a jazz style, however some tracks are episode specific such as episode 26.
Ghost Sweeper Mikami is a great blend of horror & comedy which is made up by its funny cast of characters which offers the same quality as Hell Teacher Nube & The Slayers. While it may not have the most complex plot, it does display much variety & the series doesn’t feel repetitive regardless of its episodic scenarios. By 16 episodes, you should know whether you love this series or not. Also, Mikami Reiko is a fine woman. XD
9: Ayashi no Ceres
English: Ceres, Celestial Legend
MAL Score: 7.21
Ceres was a tennyo (Celestial maiden) who came down from the heavens to bathe in a stream. She hung her hagoromo (robe) on a tree nearby, which was her key to returning to the heavens. But the robe was stolen and the man who had stolen it forced her to become his wife, thus producing a family full of human and tennyo blood mixed.
Now, in modern day time, Aya Mikage is a descendent of Ceres, and has quite an amount of tennyo blood. On her 16th birthday, she and her twin brother, Aki, are thrown a party. At the “party,” Aya’s grandpa plans to kill her, for she has tennyo powers unlike the rest of the family, and can actually become Ceres herself and destroy the Mikage family. Aya, however, can switch back, so this transformation happens quite frequently.
With protector Yuuhi by her side, it is up to Aya to control Ceres and keep her from coming back, but her relationship with an ex-worker for her evil grandpa may be a distraction.
It starts off very peacefully, with Aya Mikage and her twin brother Aki spending time with their friends, celebrating the twins’ 16th birthday. However, this peaceful day is interrupted by Aya falling off a bridge, down on the highway underneath. Miraculously, she lands without getting a scratch, and she’s saved from cars on a collision course by a mysterious, red-headed man. And that day marks the end of the happy days for the two.
They are summoned to the family mansion to celebrate their 16th birthday, but instead, they end up being the victims of the Mikage family’s gruesome rite of killing off female descendants with strong tennyo powers in them. Said powers suddenly awaken, preventing her from getting killed.
From here on, the story goes darker, deeper and angstier as we’re thrown into the mess that Aya suddenly finds herself in, being hunted by her own family all of a sudden. She has to deal with the fact that her twin brother has turned into a reincarnation of an evil man from the past, and she has to make sure Ceres doesn’t take over her body completely. This leads to some great action scenes, as Ceres emerges to fight the Mikage family from time to time, with her astounding powers.
And then there’s the love, the beautiful, yet sad love that is Aya’s and Toya’s love – Toya is the guy who saved her, but also a Mikage henchman, which means he’s out to get her. However, he slowly falls in love with her, and her with him, despite the two of them being enemies. Now they must find a way to live out their love without the Mikage family or Ceres, who has a vendetta against the Mikages, getting in the way. Of course, there’s Yuhi, and there’s actually some mutual love between Yuhi and Aya as well, creating a love triangle that can rip Aya apart.
The characters in the anime are all very realistically portrayed. From Toya’s quest to find his place in this world to Aya’s struggles to remain herself through all that happens around her. The love that slowly develops between Toya and Aya is never forced, and their relationship progresses nicely over the course of the series.
The side characters are all good too, and despite not having so major roles, they fulfill them excellently, and they are portrayed very well too. Most of the characters you will see have some depth to them, which causes your heart to be with them as well, and not only Aya and Toya.
I’m also fond of the character development that takes place during the course of the series – at the end I could see how much they had matured, obviously having learned a few things about life and love during the events that took place during the course of the series.
Studio Pierrot did a nice job on the animation, and despite it being a bit old, it’s very good. The lighting effects are very well done, though the same can’t always be said about the special effects – they had their moments they too, though. The overall detail is very good, but there’s one thing that bugged me, and that was the fact that their hair seemed transparent when in front of their eyes. You can’t see your eyes through a layer of hair >_
A very original plot line, immersing a young woman on her 16th birthday, into a world of danger and constant threat while those who are around her and those who she loves are hurt. With love triangles that are sometimes heart wrenching and at other times very sweet. And with a very important message which you will be blatantly told if you haven’t already figured it out by the end of the series.
Characters that are simply amazing, follow them all through their pain and trials that they have to overcome. All are excellently portrayed and their feelings really reach you. The romance between some of the characters is just grand, it really gives and shows you the true feeling of love.
Soundtrack is just amazing, opening song: Scarlet, must be hands down one of the best openings for an anime. The background played throughout the anime is outstanding with beautiful instrumental and piano music. The voice actors, just wow, their acting, the feeling they put in each character, it is just outstanding, some scenes I actually think in the recording studio the voice actor actually cried.
What is so good about this anime?
For an anime that was released in 2000 the art is simply amazing. The plot line is so intricate and very original. The romance between various characters that really portray their anguish, sadness, happiness, confusion, and love. An amazing soundtrack that completely fits the mood and just makes you want to listen to the songs over and over again. I have to say, this is one of the best romance anime’s out there. Enjoy this series.
There is precisely one good thing about this series, which is the opening, “Scarlet” by Junko Iwao. Not the weird animation, just the song. I have the Japanese version and the piano only version and they’re quite pleasant and pretty.
You want generic tropes with good ol’ 90s animation? You got it! Toya’s got like double or triple plot amnesia which gives him extra doses of mangst, because what’s a bad shoujo without amnesia? He then meets Aya and for reasons unbeknownst to me, cept that she got through his “cool dude mystique” and decided that he was safe and that she felt safe with him she falls in love with him, because I guess you fall in love with people because of that? Even though she knows nothing about him and barely knows him. Toya then “rediscovers his memories” and then gets Harry Potter syndro-I mean, convenient headaches! And goes back to the dark side! And then we find out that his memories aren’t his memories after all! Because some time ago he was brought in covered in bruises and given false memories that gave him pain when he thought of Aya. When did any of THAT happen, exactly? Who cares, because ONWITHTHESTORY!
And if you think THAT didn’t make sense, I’m not going to get into the rest of the plot because it REALLY doesn’t make sense. Possession, reincarnation, abusive scumbags, spoiled kids with creepy obsessions, underage sex, incest, lots and lots of obsession, attempted child murder, attempted fratricide, stalking, sexist stereotypes… It’s got all kind of fun in it, I guess.
It also really bothered me that the Smart Dude had incredibly tiny glasses which wouldn’t have helped if they were normal-size anyway cause he had these ridiculous bangs in the way and I kept grumbling to myself “cut your friggen hair you incompetent you’re a SCIENTIST” and I LOVE long hair on men so this was incredibly confusing.
Also, common sense? Hahahahaha WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS IS A TERRIBLE SHOUJO NO ONE USES THEIR COMMON SENSE HERE! It’s verboten! (I like shoujo but gods help me I can’t STAND this anime).
Despite the implications of the ending (it’s hilarious, really, you just have to lose your sanity to appreciate it), this series also presents a double standard that’s tropic of reverse harems. Women don’t get harem endings (where the end result is left open to interpretation and more than likely they have an open marriage), so one of the guys (there are typically only two) have to either die or vanish. It’s typically the hotter one, so the underdog who’s “better” for the woman (despite her preferences hahaha women making choices what’s THAT about, amirite??) gets a chance. Well after the woman’s lost her virginity, anyway, since that’s a BIG part of their character development, donchaknow? Interestingly, guys in harem stories typically don’t lose their virginity, if they have it, although male harem stories arguably have the men get sexually assaulted far more often, as a gag joke, so… Yeah I don’t think it evens out but trying to understand this series hurts my brain.
Anyone telling you this series has character growth is a LIAR and you SHOULD NOT listen to them. Unless they mean that after about 18 episodes characters with pretty much zero personality suddenly get backstory at 100 miles an hour. Backstory does not equal character growth but sure, whatever floats your boat.
You want a good shoujo? Well… watch “Yona of the Dawn”. It’s arguably a reverse harem set in a fantasy world. It’s hilarious -on purpose- and well-written and includes a lot of great character development and the animation is pretty. The “Sailor Moon R” film is also a great shojo film about a superpowered woman rescuing her male hubby who is endangered by his ex-boyfriend. Just don’t watch this. Don’t.
8: Petshop of Horrors
English: Pet Shop of Horrors
Japanese: Pet Shop of Horrors (ペットショップ オブ ホラーズ)
MAL Score: 7.26
Count D, a quite interesting pet shop owner from an area called Chinatown, sells rare and hard to come by pets to people longing for something special, but with each sale comes a contract. If the rules of the contract are followed, everything goes fine, but if someone should break the rules of the contract, the pet shop cannot be held responsible for anything unfortunate that might happen. Leon Orcot, a homicide detective, has linked many odd and unexplainable deaths together; they all were customers of Count D’s pet shop, and he intends to find out why.
It doesn’t compare to the actual manga, but the chapters selected for the anime are the more interesting. Though there are two main characters, count D (do not mistake him for Dracula) and detective Leon Orcot (those two have a really funny love/hate relationship), the real characters are those involved with the story of each episode.
Each episode has a different story line, they may be short but are profound and always giving a message at the end. It’s a dark and full of mystery anime, but the stories provide a positive impact.
The technical features may no be great (animation, sound) but are well done and I think it should be continued.
Each episode can be watched without having any background knowledge of the series, as they are all their own story, similar to anime such as pokemon were it is easy to jump in at any point in the series. However, this is also a drawback, as were there should be a pause to explain something further or in more detail, the show chugs along over it, crossing its fingers and hoping that the audience will understand.
As dark anime go, Pet Shop of Horror doesn’t necessarily have a unique concept, but the overall story is unique. It’s easy to become lost in the episodes, which provide a unique "this-could-really-happen" sense that few others manage to achieve.
The animation leaves something to be desired, however, with even the Japanese, English-subbed version looking like a terrible American dub. The background music is interesting, but the anime also keeps things quiet were there should be ambient noise such as birds, cars, even the wind.
Character development is limited, but as the series is so short it’s not so much that they didn’t bother, its that there simply isn’t enough time to get to know the characters and watch them grow.
Overall, if you watch anime for the music or animation then this isn’t for you. Fans of the manga, be prepared as these episodes are based almost word-for-word on stories from the first three volumes.
The 4 stories are connected are by a petshop that secretly deals in strange creatures that come with a set of rules that the owner must follow… or the shop will not be held accountable for what happens to them. Yeah, this sounds a lot like Gremlins now (the shop is even in Chinatown), but it works well as a set up for the stories. The costumers of the shop include A mother and Father who have recently lost their daughter; a man whose wife had died on their wedding day; an actor down on his luck; and the campaign manager of an aspiring politician. All of them have issues that come to light when they bring their new pets home. There is also a little extra continuity tossed in with a detective who is suspicious of the petshop and is constantly at odds with its owner, Count D.
The first two stories unfold like like a mystery. In both cases the shop’s costumer has suffered a loss of a loved one, but there is more to it than just that. There are circumstances behind the loved ones’ deaths that are revealed as the story unfolds, which lead up to the parables’ morals and, in both cases, grisly conclusions. The third plays out more like an inevitable tragedy with a cynical bit of irony at the end. The forth tale is by far the strangest, as we watch one of the character’s desires being played out in a somewhat perverse way at the end. The show takes from both eastern and western mythologies for its supernatural elements, involving creatures such as mermaids, medusa, and kirin; which of course act as the catalyst of the story. Each story has interesting themes and is well paced, making the best of the time it has.
This is not to say everything about this show is good, it certainly has some big shortcomings. The first of which is rather obvious, its length. With the show being only four episodes long it does not have the luxury to cover the wide array of topics a longer anthology could, and is consequently less impacting. There is also the issue with the stories themselves. It is true that they do work well as parables, but they have little to no subtly. The characters are fairly one dimensional (though not necessarily uncompelling) mostly there just to make a point. The delivery of the messages is pretty heavy handed, cut and dry with little left to think on. Finally, there is that little bit of continuity with detective Leon Orcot (I did not name him earlier) and Count D, which unfortunately goes nowhere. Neither character has any meaningful development, and only serve the role of someone for the viewer to follow from episode to episode, and say the moral of the parable out loud.
On the techinical side of things, Petshop of Horror is heavy with creepy atmosphere. The color pallet aims for both ominous and mystifying, and fulfills its role quite well. Character designs are fairly typical of 90’s anime, though Count D and the ‘pets’ he sells look quite striking. Backgrounds aren’t anything special, but get the job done. Honestly, the show looks best when it is being mystical and creepy; the opening scene with the tiger painting or the climax of any of the stories will attest to that. The music also goes for the spooky vibe, and while not anything special on its own, works well with the visuals and story to create an ominous atmosphere. One example of this is the insert song in the second episode, which is not particularly good, but is memorable because it was used to great effect.
While not amongst the elite of its kind, Petshop of Horrors is certainly worth the small amount of time it takes up. Its stories are uniformly good, and have some interesting ideas which at the very least might make for good conversation material. If you are in the mood for something short, spooky, and just a tad thoughtful, then I recommend picking up this OVA.
7: Jigoku Sensei Nube
MAL Score: 7.54
Nube is a clumsy, easygoing, and very kind teacher, but he has a secret under his glove on the left hand. He has a monster hand, and he also has the ability to sense ghosts and evil spirits. So he protects his dear students from these evil spirits with his monster hand, proving to be very powerful.
Basically, it’s a school story with all the weird and scary things you wish could happen to you in a real school, that is, if you’re into ghosts and that kind of stuff.
Hell Teacher Nube is an anime about a schoolteacher with a demon claw in the place of his right hand, which he covers with a black glove, and all the hilarious and touching and sometimes just weird adventures he has with his students as what seems like the entire pantheon of Japanese lower mythology causes havoc in their school and town.
Nube and the students deal with ghosts, UFO’s, youkai, oni, doppelgangers, curses…you name it, they’ll take care of it.
Urban legends are also incorporated into the episodes…spirits of suicides in bathrooms, ghosts appearing in photographs, odd gods…
What else could you want in a supernatural school anime?
The best part of this anime are the stories. When I watched it, the wonder of all the crazy creatures and the wacky characters was a lot of fun. But what hooked me was that it was my first foray into Japanese superstitious culture. The stories are absolutely great!
Nube is an elementary school teacher who has an Oni sealed into his left hand. During his role as a teacher, he develops a great relationship with his students vowing to always protect them from danger. This is constantly proven when his precious students are attacked by ghosts, yokai, & other supernatural demons. While the series is episodic, it later adds more characters such as Yukime the snow demon & Tamamo a fox sorcerer which increases the quality of the anime.
Episodes contain a blend of comedy & horror, however sometimes its focus will be more on horror which can be very disturbing at times.(Ep31 & 44) Other episodes can be more comedy based or either touch upon an important morality lesson which tend to be some of the better episodes such as ep28 being about xmas. It should also be noted that the main character can vary every episode as some are focused on Nube while others are based on his students.
One of the highlights of this series is Nube himself as he a shonen hero in every respect and is a well written character who shifts from a wise mentor to a comedic love crazed buffoon. I should mention that a love triangle forms in the anime which intentionally was done for laughs but towards the end of the series becomes a very serious subject.
Overall, Hell Teacher Nube delivers in entertainment at times being a much darker version of Goosebumps. It may have a monster of the week formula but it’s not a battle series & provides much more content as a whole. Examples include some of its dramatic storytelling and the good nature of people such as eps (20 &34 aka Nube’s origin) or possibly the best heart touching episodes being 47 & 48. It may take some time to getting into, but you may end up loving this anime. Whenever you finish the anime, I recommend to watching the 2nd movie & the OVAs. The OVA episodes are actually cannon, being based on much later manga chapters with its final episode being the best way to finish the anime series.
Hell Teacher Nube is a supernatural/yokai episodic “monster of the week” show from the mid-90s that is flying under the radar of most anime fans nowadays since it was never really a hit in the first place back then, and as most of the titles that fail to generate a solid initial impact, it couldn’t avoid the fate of being forgotten in time. Debuting in the same year Neon Genesis Evangelion sent bittersweet shockwaves with its controversial last 2 episodes, Rurouni Kenshin became the new fighting shounen attraction after Dragon Ball was quickly running out of steam with Dragon Ball GT, Detective Conan started building its empire drawing the attention of the ones interested in mysteries, the Slayers franchise was getting stronger in the fantasy genre with its second installment (Next), and Sailor Moon, the most iconic and popular magical girl show from the 90s, was saying goodbye with its final season (Stars), among other competent shows that made their debuts in 1996, there was hardly any room left for a fully episodic and simple show like this (which also had to face direct competition in the supernatural genre with the more well-known and established GeGeGe no Kitarou (1996) household series) to make itself a relevant name both in Japan and the West.
I first knew about this show back in 2007, when a local anime specialized TV station started airing it after midnight and I used some of its episodes as background television while I was finishing some of my homework and was preparing myself to sleep, never really paying much attention to it and consequently remembering virtually nothing besides the visuals, character designs and the catchy J-rock opening theme. But there was something about its captivating, youthfully-sinister atmosphere that after all these years did manage to stuck in my mind that encouraged me to revisit it now, 11 years later, with complete dedication. And I have to say that -despite its simplicity- it has been quite a pleasant surprise, and that it’s truly worth the try for those who have no troubles watching old shows with dim colors, simple characters and an episodic monster-of-the-week structure. Watching it has been such a delightful experience, that I just can’t help to try to increase its low awareness levels.
The argument: it follows the paranormal adventures of Meisuke “Nube” Nueno, a kind, funny, lovable and young teacher at Domori elementary school who since birth had an abnormal sensibility to perceive evil ghosts and demons from the spiritual “yokai” world (a faculty that made him an easy target to them and allowed him to evetually become a demon connoisseur and a demon slayer) and the 5th grade naughty students he has in charge, with whom he develops a very close, warm and trustworthy relationship, to the point that he even gets permanently and tenderly bullied by them. Due to a tragic incident (which is told with details in one of the later episodes) before becoming a teacher in that school, he managed to seal a powerful demon in his left hand, which turned it into a monstrous-looking one and which he has to cover with a black glove in order to not reveal his true nature and frighten the people around him. This sealing granted him the ability to fight other demons with said hand, since the power of that demon is at his disposal there.
I have to say that the “horror” tag this show has is kind of misleading. Though it’s about ghosts and demons attacks, it is really not scary or uneasy to watch at all. You don’t watch this to feel frightened, to feel that suspense that true horror works stimulate. No episode will really have you on the edge of your seat nor covering your eyes from shock. It is after all very kid-friendly, there’s no gore, no raw scenes and no body parts flying through the air. There is blood, but nothing that terrible or excessive, and virtually the whole time from the teacher’s part, never from the kids, who are only threatened by the supernatural entities and never physically hurt, so no edgy and cheap child torture here. The tone is really very light, innocent and with lots of goofy comedy the whole time, though it occasionally gets more serious.
As an episodic, “monster of the week” show, most episodes are pretty formulaic with an autoconclusive story; one or some of the students of the class will face –in a certain context- the threat of a yokai world entity (ghost, demon, monster, etc.) that will take advantage of a particular weakness, insecurity, moral fault or dark inner sentiment those children have in order to scare them. When the entity is about to make his act, Nube appears, confronts it and ends up slaying it with the power of the demon he has in his left hand, saving his students in the process, something he is happy to do since he believes it is his mission in this world to protect them from their attacks. Everyone celebrate at the end and the kids learn from the mistakes that allowed the creatures to attack them in the first place.
Despite being formulaic, the episodes still show variety in focus, relevance and tone. Some are very light, while some others are more intense and/or heavy. Some are more relevant than the rest, in the sense that they tackle the backstory and some mild character progression of the characters. Some are just to have simple fun, others to leave substantial moral messages. Some are more disturbing or creepy than the others, or even thought-provoking, like one which involves an artificial biology-class mannequin that started to develop a soul inside and started considering himself as a real normal human being with genuine feelings, a situation that made the class feel uneasy and that led them to face a moral dilemma and to take questionable decisions. And while teacher Nube is the main character and the ones who saves the day, not all the attention is put into him; the show does a good job in giving every character of the class a fair share of focus in terms of number of episodes centered around them (including Nube himself).
Speaking about the characters, they are not realistic and most of them are stereotypical. Nube himself represents a virtuous and beloved shounen hero that will protect the ones he loves no matter the costs. Hiroshi, the main character from the children, is a naughty, hyperactive but kindhearted and brave boy, who likes playing football and has lots of friends. Kyoko is an insecure, neurotic but grounded girl everyone likes to bully (I’d say she’s the most interesting among the children because she is the most mature and can see and analyze the situations they face with an adult perspective). There’s also a malicious girl who likes to gossip and brag of her early developed breasts, an innocent, righteous boy, a spoiled rich kid and a delinquent, among others. But being an unambitious formulaic show, I don’t see any trouble in this. You never come to this type of shows expecting realism and lots of character development and stuff. However, this doesn’t mean they are totally static throughout all of the show’s run. As said before, some of the terrifying incidents with the ghosts make the kids learn important life lessons and grow up as human beings, which is effective.
Anyway, watching all these characters interact, having fun with their teacher and living all those thrilling and mysterious ghost adventures in their own school and surroundings is truly the main appeal of the show and precisely why you come for it, because in all honesty, who wouldn’t have liked to live all this during their elementary school days? Scary and everything, supernatural and paranormal activity has always been a subject that has awakened the interest of people trapped in a boring, mundane daily life, even more in kids discovering the world they live in. And this show really delivers in dragging you to those times when you were a kid fascinated with ghost stories. It appeals to that child wish most of us had of living fun and adventurous supernatural experiences along with our friends and classmates. It does an excellent job in making you wish you would have lived all that to make your school life way more entertaining and memorable, in company of an unorthodox, funny, young and close teacher everyone loves that wasn’t just that typical distant person you treat with a lot of respect and fear looking from below.
The art irradiates a particular charm hard to describe that makes this so addictive and the atmosphere so obscurely lovely. The color palette is colorful enough to not give this image of something that is trying to sell itself as very dark and serious but rather kid-friendly and at the same time dull enough to print in the viewer this absorbing feeling of people being menaced by creatures sneaking from the shadows, especially when action takes place at nights. It perfectly suits the overall tone and direction of the show. Anyway, you just have to see it to understand, it’s kind of hard to do so with cold words. All I’m going to add here is that this youthfully sinister and haunting feel is something that you just dont see very often in modern anime with digital coloring and shading techniques and that cel-animation had an advantage when it comes to this matter.
To conclude, Hell Teacher Nube is a show that, while nothing special in regards of being an episodic show which follows a monster of the week formula, it’s still a show with a fascinating, obscure-but-innocent charm, able to delight and entertain almost effortlessly given it’s likable cast, easy-to-watch condition and absorbing atmosphere. Besides, it is also educative, you can use it to learn a lot from Japanese folklore. And while it obviously won’t work for people who have a hard time getting into monster-of-the-week shows, I believe that those who don’t have troubles with them will find this show to be an overall gratifying experience that is worth the try. 7/10.
Some additional tips/comments:
Being episodic, you don’t really “have to” watch every single of its 48 episodes to understand it and you can skip some of them. However, episodes 20 and 34 are essential, since they tackle the past of the main character and explain more who he is and why he feels he has the mission to protect kids from the attack of ghosts. And if you really want to feel the whole emotional impact the heartbreaking last 2 episodes provide, I’d say it is indeed necessary to have watched the whole show so said impact can in fact, materialize in you.
As a show dealing with ghosts with a gloomy, somber (but still innocent) feel, it is highly recommendable to watch it at nights, and ideally inside your bed. That way you will be able to get more immersed in its exquisit and haunting atmosphere, which is precisely the idea when watching a show like this! The same way you enjoyed more scary shows like “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” or “Tales from the Crypt” when you watched them surrounded by the mysterious and menacing feel of the night rather than by the clarity-safety feel of daylight. The feel of this show is such that it just doesn’t work much if watched during the day.
The show gets a little pervy sometimes. You will see some boys conveniently falling into women breasts, some nosebleeds, the teacher fantasizing with naked women, and what may be probably the most annoying issue, an 11 year old girl bragging about her early developed boobs. There’s also an episode where a teenage girl literally suffers from spontaneous body incinerations that burn her clothes leaving her totally naked in front of everyone. But as most of the 80s/90s shows with raunchy stuff, all this is used for more comical rather than erotic purposes, so it’s really nothing that annoying. But if you categorically can’t stand the inclusion of this type of moments in shows involving kids, then it would be better to not try this show.
6: Gensoumaden Saiyuuki
Japanese: 幻想魔伝 最遊記
MAL Score: 7.57
Many years ago, humans and demons lived in harmony. But that unity ended when demons started attacking humans and plotted a mission to unleash Gyumao—an evil demon imprisoned for thousands of years. Now, Genjo Sanzo, a rogue priest, must team up with three demons—Sha Gojyo, Son Goku, and Cho Hakkai—and embark on a perilous journey to the west to stop these demons from resurrecting Gyumao and restore the balance between humans and demons on Earth.
Story: 5 (another "Journey to the West" spinoff)
Art: 6 (Pretty above standard fare for its time)
Sound: 7 (English voice acting was impressive don’t miss it)
Character: 8 (first male team that didn’t make me feel gay)
Enjoyment: 9 (Main characters made this show great)
Overall: 35/50 = 7.0 (Didn’t mean to make the score look like that)
Ever since Dragon Ball, there have been a large influx of anime basing themselves on the "Journey to the West" epic piece. It’s storyline is perfect for an anime iteration, but then again, any idea can become an anime. Well what I’m getting at is that this is another iteration based on that epic. And in my opinion, this is the best iteration of that tale that I have seen so far.
It’s not historically accurate at all. If anything, it follows the story extremely loosely. I mean the names are partially the same and their personalities match (i.e. monkey, priest, etc) but thats about it. Their opposition are literally monsters and their goal is to reach the west. They use guns and have a dragon that transforms into a jeep. So you can’t take this seriously. But there is one thing that this show has and the other anime does not: attitude. The four travelers, Gojyo, Sanzo, Hakkai, and Goku, are all badass and their chemistry between each other are hilariously cool.
Now I enjoyed the English dub of this show simply because the banter between the four was actually more believable in a realistic friendship sort of way. When they make fun of each other it sounds like something I would say to my friends. No matter how much they sound like they hate each other guts and despise each other but when it comes down to it, they will follow each other to the ends of the earth. That is something that is often attempted in anime but rarely executed very well.
All the adventures they encounter are your typical random shonen encounters that they have to overcome. I would have cared less if their teamwork wasn’t so awesome and macho even under stressful conditions. No matter what they faced, they still managed to accomplish it in a virile manner.
Overall this show, like many others like it, can not be fully appreciated unless you’re ready to accept the fact that its story is very very vague. Secondly, I highly recommend the English dub since they sound much more badass than the Japanese dub and really made this show from okay to pretty darn good.
My only complaint about this anime would be the animation. There are a lot of “still shots” used during the battle scenes, but you can overlook that. The animation is also not as clean as I would like to be, but I think, maybe, it was intended that way, to go along with the story.
The characters are PERFECT. They don’t get any better than this. Sanzo, the ‘renegade priest’ who swears, smokes, drinks, weilds a banishing gun, and has a tongue sharp as a razor. Goku, the lovable little monkey king, who is always hungry, and whiny, but kicks butt during the battles. Hakkai, the soft-spoken, sympathetic demon, with a heart of gold, and a tragic past. Finally, my personal favorite, Gojyo, the drinking, gambling, swearing, skirt-chasing pervert of a water sprite, who just makes you laugh out loud almost everytime he opens his mouth.
All of the characters have a tragic past (with Hakkai’s probably being the worst), that is revisited from time to time to help you understand why they are the way the are.
The music in this anime is great, especially the OP songs. I would actually buy the OST if I could find it.
Even though the goal of the entire series is to prevent the resurrection of the old demon, and the entire series works towards that goal, this is basically an episodic anime. Enjoy!! ^_^
Story: Based on an old Chinese story, the story of Saiyuki is addicting and entertaining. The simple idea of four total opposites finding a way to travel together on a journey to "save the world" is kind of hilarious. Now, the story itself isn’t quite as interesting as the comedy or the characters, but with an "evil" group trailing the Saiyuki boys, a few crazy demons here and there, and a huge secret from the past on their backs, it does keep you interested to the very end.
Art: The art style for Saiyuki is done in a way that it preserves the original manga style. While at times the drawings appear a little weird (and maybe disproportionate), the overall style is amazing. Each character design is different from the next. I like the art style. It’s unique and in a way, beautiful.
Sound: The music for Saiyuki is catchy. Each background song is nice and fits almost perfectly with the mood. The openings and closings are addicting to listen to. As for the voice acting, nothing better can compare (for both Japanese and English). The Japanese version is as good as any Japanese version made, with the talents of Souchirou Hoshi and Akira Ashida (along with many more). The English dub, however, goes almost above and beyond. With Greg Ayres as Son Goku (and in his first major role), Vic Mignogna as Kougaiji, and David Matranga as Genjo Sanzo, the dub itself rocks! Considering it was translated a few years back, the acting beats that of most of the newly translated dubs of the current years (such as Bleach, Death Note, etc.). To finish, the sound for the series is perfect.
Character: The characters for Saiyuki are amazing. With Son Goku (the monkey king), a fiery boy with a knack for being loud and a love for meat buns. . . With Cho Hakkai, the calm and laid-back man with a tragic past. . . With Genjo Sanzo, a priest with no care for following the rules and a cigarette always in hand. . . With Sha Gojyo, a perverted half-demon with a love for smoking, drinking, and woman. Each of the four main characters are unique in their own way. Even the bad guys are interesting (with the Kougaiji group being just as cool as the Saiyuki boys)!!! All in all, the characters are definitely a part of what makes the series addicting.
Enjoyment: Oh, where to start? From the action-packed adventure to the slap-stick comedy that continues throughout the entire series, the enjoyment is absolutely outstanding. The interactions between characters, the awesome voice talents, and the beautiful art style. . . All add up to a great watch that makes you want to finish all 50 episodes as soon as you can.
Overall: The series is amazing, something to watch over and over without growing bored. I might be giving it a little too much credit, but then again, I personally think Saiyuki is one of the best. Hopefully others (such as those who might possibly read this review) will enjoy it as much as myself.
5: Gakkou no Kaidan
English: Ghost Stories
MAL Score: 7.70
Years ago, all of the ghosts in a haunted schoolhouse were banished by a certain student. Now, they’re back—and they want revenge…
Satsuki and Keiichirou Miyanoshita are two siblings recovering from the tragic loss of their mother. After moving to their mother’s hometown, they learn that the local school they have transferred to is an old building—one said to be haunted. Despite initially brushing it off as a silly rumor, the two soon discover that ghosts are indeed real and that they’re after them! Gakkou no Kaidan is the creepy tale of the lives of these siblings and their newfound friends as they try to survive the school’s ghosts—with a little help from their pet cat along the way.
When this show was released in Japan, reception was bad and I can see why. Before I talk about this show itself, I want to point out that I’m actually surprised this show is bad. You’ve got Noriyuki Abe in the director’s chair, the man behind hit shows like "Bleach" and "Tokyo Mew Mew" (these are hit shows for crying out loud!). And speaking of people attached to "Tokyo Mew Mew" and bleach, the a few members of the Japanese voice cast, such as Takako Honda and Tomoko Kawakami, were in those shows. Studio Peirrot put a lot of money into this series, and usually when a studio puts so much money into a product then that means their real serious about this. And to top it all off, this show is based on a series of best selling novels, I haven’t read these books, but I’m gonna assume that they are awesome. Looking at all that I’ve listed above, you’ve got to ask yourself, how did this show fail?
Show doesn’t start off too bad, actually. We get the basic story, young Sastuki Manoshita has moved with her family to the town where her deceased mother used to live (and creepily, the same house she grew up in). On her first day of school, she, her brother along and their new friends chase their cat into an old school building, and find that the school buildings haunted. Not only that, the ghosts haunting it are suppose to be sealed off. Turns out the ghosts were sealed in areas where construction was taking place, and damage to anything ghost was sealed in meant that said ghost was now set free.
Not a bad too bad of a story, if things turned out differently, this could’ve turned into a decent kids’ series. Instead, we are faced with three main story problems, and because of this the series suffers greatly:
Problem #1: The series is more episodic than chapter based. For long running shows like "Case Closed/Detective Conan" and Naruto, this can be a good thing. If you missed an episode, no worries, you’ll catch up eventually and easily when plot points come up. "Ghost Stories", however, is only 20 episodes long. This may not be a huge problem for some people, but to me, this series feels like it needs a consistent story line. Weather it would be better or not because of that, I don’t know, but as result of being episodic the show feels a lot like a Japanese version of "Scooby Doo" (as others have described it).
Problem #2: If there was a movie made about a Japanese ghost legend, it’s in this series. What makes movies like "Epic Movie" and "Meet the Spartans" so bad? Answer; referencing every movie in the past year, those movies concentrate more on making references than making jokes. Now, while "Ghost Stories" is nowhere near as bad as those movies, they make the same mistake. According to the ghost profiles on the DVD extras all monsters and ghosts are based on Japanese Uban and Ancient legend. With this in mind, it seems like the producers told the writers to make sure every monster and ghost made it into the series. Much like the movies above are reference happy, this movie is very ghost happy.
Problem #3: This series falls apart completely at the end. It got to the point where near the end of the series where they basically just, "Screw this," and just stopped trying. As I said, the series doesn’t start off too bad, the series even has a few good episodes worth watching. But alas, the series becomes progressively bad, there become some plot twists that make no sense, there’s a few continuity errors in a few episodes and as I said before, material is recycled, thus the show becomes stale. Very stale.
If I wasn’t watching the english dub, I would’ve given up on this show. The dub stays true to the original storyline and keeps the original Japanese names, but changes everything else. The english voice cast had a translated script in the studio with them, and were told to ad-lib when it was appropriate. George Bush haters will love the Republican, the Democrats aren’t even safe from the wrath of the Texas voice actors, Scientologist prepare to sue ADV films, and celebrities are ripped a new one. And aside from poking fun at famous figures, there’s also quite a few clever one-liners and running gags. The spells that are chanted to seal the ghosts are often changed or twisted in meaning, the kids begin to chant it normal, "Jaku, Jaku, kick the bucket!" which suddently becomes, "Jaku, Jaku, you can suck it!" But where this dub is the funniest, is the personality changes in the characters. Satsuki becomes a fairly unlikable b!#*@, Leo is now Jewish, Hajime is a lot more perverted in the english version, and Satsuki’s brother Kechiro it apparently retarded. My favorite performance comes from Monica Rial, who portrays Momoko as an overly fanatical Christian (being a Christian myself, this offends me, yet I can’t help but laugh). But if there’s an award for most revetting performance, it should go to comedian Rob Mungle, who portrays Amanojaku, the ghost that possesses Satsuki’s cat. Rob plays this role seriously, and waits to make a joke, as opposed to making one every 3 seconds, thus making his punch lines all the more rewarding.
People tried to hate on this dub, but in the end of 2006 Anime Insider magazine named it "Best dub of the Year". All attempts to bury it have failed, and even most of the critics caved to liking it. The dub makes the series all the more watchable. If you plan on watching show in Japanese (the Japanese track is still on the DVD with translated subtitles), then go right ahead, just a word of warning, you may like it more when you’re not sober.
Aniplex was handed the English dub of the show, knowing it was a failure in Japan and probably would be a failure here, it SEEMS they didn’t take the dub too seriously. So what do we get? The best dub that has ever been done ever.
Let me try to explain; the show has so many logical fallacies and strange lip flaps, the voice actors decided to add really adult and funny jokes, often breaking the forth wall and mocking the show itself. It’s like a fandub with comedians or an Abridged series, but full episodes.
The animation is poor, the story is thin and a more like villain of the week episodic series and the environments and sound designs are really really bland, what saves this show is the English Dub ONLY via Aniplex.
My advice to you is to watch the Dub, if we were basing this show on its sub in this review I would tell you to send this show to the closest pit of fire and exorcise the demons out of your house, but the English Aniplex Dub is a MUST see. Bare in mind the adult humor may be offputting to younger audiences.
Ghost Stories is the amazing tale of a failed anime that became a cult classic through the absurd dubbing of the now defunct ADV films. The original is quite forgettable and not worth your time, but the infamous dub is DEFINITELY worth watching.
So who the hell was ADV? Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Texas dub studio ADV was the main rival of Funimation. Due to a series of terrible business decisions and an industry bubble burst, they went bankrupt and their best talent was poached by their surviving rival. They are basically the WCW to Funimation’s WWE or the Sega to Funimation’s Nintendo. ADV was best known for licensing, distributing, and dubbing Evangelion, Full Metal Panic, Elfen Lied, Robotech, and Welcome to the NHK. Unfortunately they also dubbed a LOT of shit titles and chose some real stinkers for their cable Anime Network and Comcast On-Demand selection.
ADV believed that they should only show the first couple episodes of good shows and show all episodes of their worst shows. That way fans would have to buy the DVDs for the good series and might watch episodes of the shows they would never buy on DVD. This strategy has a HUGE flaw. If your network is mostly filled with horrendous titles like Ikki Tousen, Moonphase, Magical Shopping District, and fucking Jungle de Ikou, then viewers are going to turn the TV off and never come back. When a Japanese studio forces Funimation to dub some series that flopped in Japan in order to recoup their domestic losses, Funi will quickly banish those series to cheap DVD without ceremony and pray that nobody finds them. ADV on the other hand would hold up those abortions for all the world to see! ADV basically said, “you bastards want to watch some free anime? We’ll make sure you regret every second of it!” Consider that ADV wasn’t even forced by the Japanese to license their worst show Jungle de Ikou. ADV voluntarily bought the rights from Media Blasters because their flagship network simply NEEDED a show that can melt eyeballs with its wretchedness!
The final thing you need to know about ADV is their…unique approach to dubbing. ADV really didn’t believe in following the original Japanese text and was often quite liberal with their translations. This could help with comedy series where the original Japanese joke might not translate well, but it often screwed up their dramas. Every Eva fanboy can tell you that ADV’s Evangelion translation omitted vital plot points, explained some things poorly compared to the Japanese text, and fundamentally misunderstood other points. Their translation of Elfen Lied also suffers from these problems. One of the key culprits of this attitude towards translation was Steven Foster. Attitudes online tend to be quite negative towards Mr. Foster, but he was very talented at spoofing terrible series with joke dubs whenever ADV gave him the freedom to do so.
Ghost Stories is a highly formulaic series about grade schoolers that fight a new ghost in each episode that is based off a Japanese urban legend or myth. The series was intended to be frightening fun for small children that introduces them to classic scary stories. The problem is that it isn’t remotely scary or creepy, is WAY too repetitive, and none of the characters are likeable or memorable. The characters spend the first 1/3 of every episode denying that something clearly supernatural is supernatural. When they finally decide they are facing a ghost, the main character Satsuki gets out her dead mother’s ghost journal and looks up how to defeat the ghost. They defeat the ghost and everything ends happily. That is the summary of EVERY SINGLE EPISODE! The original series is also notable for completely unnecessary and unwanted fanservice. These are supposed to be kids in elementary school and yet the anime has panty flashes every 5 seconds and a closing theme song called “Sexy Sexy”. That’s just fucked up!
Steven Foster of ADV decided to change the characters and actually give them traits that differentiate them. One is a Jewish nerd, one is a self righteous evangelical, one is absurdly perverted, etc. The Foster dub is filled with ridiculous pop culture references and constant insults directed at the show Lost, the band Creed, Toby Keith, and Christian Slater’s acting.
Be warned that the Foster dub is also wildly offensive and irreverent with frequent gay jokes and casual racist jokes. This was 2005 and this series serves as a kind of bizarre time capsule of that period and what was acceptable then. America was a lot less angry and bitterly divided. As a result, people weren’t as sensitive and there wasn’t the same pressure to be “PC”. We all casually hated the douche in the White House in 2005, but he was an establishment dick not so different from our previous 4 asshole presidents. The hate against Obama after 2008 was completely unique and so strong that the backlash transformed the online far right from a shadow of a joke into a serious political power. Now Hollywood is cracking down hard on hurtful jokes and trying to avoid association with the new Right. Pulling a Foster and constantly using the words “retard”, “faggot”, and “nigga” with reckless abandon was highly frowned upon then too, but today that shit simply wouldn’t fly. NO ONE would greenlight such a show with a PG rating when even South Park usually bleeps or avoids those words in 2016. It isn’t the most clever dub, but it is so outlandish and shockingly tasteless that you kind of have to laugh.
The art is by Studio Dean and as you would expect it is at least passable. It isn’t the prettiest series ever and doesn’t have breathtaking visuals, but this thing clearly had a decent budget behind it. I’m sure the net loss in Japan was significant after this shit bombed!
The soundtrack is Kaoru Wada pretty much rehashing his work from the Inuyasha soundtrack. While I really love his work in that setting, it feels completely out of place in this spooky children’s series. The same soundtrack can be good for 1 anime and a complete miss if given to another. This feels as out of place as pairing Pokemon with the band Disturbed. I already mentioned the wildly inappropriate use of “Sexy Sexy” and the opening theme while less pedophilic is still completely out of place.
This is not a good anime. This isn’t the most clever writing for a dub. This absolutely IS something that you should see though. This shit is absolutely hilarious and provides a window into the state of dubbing during the anime boom years in the US. This was when studios could buy terrible anime and treat the dub like a complete joke because they were so flush with money. They were simply that confident in people buying anime in huge amounts. I miss those days sometimes. I really do.
MAL Score: 7.85
Based on the Shogakukan award-winning manga of the same name, InuYasha follows Kagome Higurashi, a fifteen-year-old girl whose normal life ends when a demon drags her into a cursed well on the grounds of her family’s Shinto shrine. Instead of hitting the bottom of the well, Kagome ends up 500 years in the past during Japan’s violent Sengoku period with the demon’s true target, a wish-granting jewel called the Shikon Jewel, reborn inside of her.
After a battle with a revived demon accidentally causes the sacred jewel to shatter, Kagome enlists the help of a young hybrid dog-demon/human named Inuyasha to help her collect the shards and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. Joining Kagome and Inuyasha on their quest are the orphan fox-demon Shippo, the intelligent monk Miroku, and the lethal demon slayer Sango. Together, they must set aside their differences and work together to find the power granting shards spread across feudal Japan and deal with the threats that arise.
There are flaws in the overall composition. Things one might ask themselves like; why, if you KNEW you we’re going to be trekking across feudal Japan for months on end, would you bring only one outfit? And more importantly why would it be your Junior High School uniform – i.e. a bright green miniskirt?
Regardless, the story itself is very weak, as its the random plot arcs and ridiculous character relations that really make the show. To summarize, a young girl falls down a well at her family’s shrine, only to be transported back in time to feudal Japan, where she frees a grumpy dog eared half demon man who is stuck to a tree (The result of a bad breakup) and ends up breaking a magical mystical artifact that then shatters into a bazillion pieces. Ditzy teenage girl and pissy dog demon guy now must work together to find all the shards of “The Sacred Jewel” before the bad guys do. Sure there’s another load of subplots – pointless, funny and romantic alike – but we’ll get to that.
Although the premise is simplistic it does expand further along in the story, but only if one likes the show enough initially to move on in the series through the 160 + episodes.
The subplots and the arcs are what make this series entertaining. (And also agonizing if the arc you’re in bores you to tears) We’ll have run ins with random demons and get mixed up with numerous characters who may or may not come and go. Each plot brings changes and the characters do a very good job of growing and evolving as a result. The series does, despite its episodic nature, still follow some sense of linearity. Development in the characters remain as they would in a real person. (This excludes the Inuyasha movies, unfortunately)
Despite all that, its still one of those series that makes it very easy to drop in at any time and figure things out eventually. I watched from the middle first before I decided I loved the show and went back to see the beginning – which was drastically different to me considering the amount of change that takes place from beginning to middle to end.
I can’t go into detail very well considering the story, as there is so much of it its hard to find a place to start. The elements of the setting and time really come into play with the presence of the spirits and demons all of which offer a uniqueness all to its own. The multiple love triangle issues are superficial but also complex, so there is a degree of decent conflict in that regard. I also really appreciate personally how the development of the relationship between the two main characters, Inuyasha and Kagome, is gradual.
Coming to the characters, there are many. Too many to identify them all in this review. This is a great thing about the show, but can also be annoying and for the casual observer, confusing as hell. I’ll touch on the main characters at least:
Kagome is a really plain Junior High School girl. As a heroine she starts out pathetically dull and often comes off as a total ditz. However if you give her a chance she does show you how she can grow to be a capable human being despite the fact that she is a 15 year old idiot running around feudal Japan in a miniskirt. Throughout the show we find shes short tempered, opinionated and rash, but she does keep a sense femininity intact somehow. She also retains an ability to sympathize with and care for the people she comes to know. What I love about her is that she starts out completely incompetent. Literally she is nothing but a Mary-Sue-ish teenage airhead with little care in the world aside doing well in school, and she morphs (gradually) into a priestess who can use a bow and even protect herself. She – going through the show constantly compared to the priestess Kikiyo (Details will become clear if you decide to watch the show) she makes a deliberate effort to break free of that confine and become her own person, and I like that.
Inuyasha is also a great source of character development. I know I keep saying “Development development development!” but really is one of the biggest things this show has going for itself. I almost see this anime as some kind of document of how Inuyasha becomes a man. Hes over 50 years old but despite that he is extremely childish, boorish and often rude and annoying. He also works pretty hard to gain strength and create a name for himself. He is an ‘underdog’ (lol puns) and also has a bit of a Gary-Stu thing going for him. Being a half demon with a snobby older brother and a messed up undead ex-girlfriend gives him a lot of stuff to complain about.
The characters ARE shallow. But their relationships are entertaining and – if you get all the way to the end of this series and the short Inuyasha Sequel: Inuyasha the Final Act – are rewarding to see until the end.
I’ll keep the review of the art quick in saying that it is very traditional for the time it was made. Its got a lot of square and rectangular shapes and brightly colored character designs that fit in well with its shounen genre. The style is very consistent, budget obviously allowed for lots of attention to detail and a tone of seriousness. It has its own sort of beauty, very reminiscent of Takahashi’s earlier works like Ranma 1/2 and the like, which aired in the late 1980’s. Almost a retro anime style if you get my meaning. Movies have much more bold and sharp lines. Character designs could use work (I can’t get over the miniskirt thing, I’m sorry. Its just too stupid. And I get really sick of Inuyasha never wearing anything but his giant red.. thing)
Even quicker, my opinion of the sound. The music is diverse and beautifully complex. One of the best parts of the show. Multiple opening and ending themes, background music all magical and perfectly suitable to the time period. Voice acting is always better in Japanese. English is very harsh on the ears, I strongly dislike it nowadays.
Very long review and I’ve only just scratched the surface. Inuyasha, as I see it, is a classic shounen. Its time in the limelight long passed when it made room for Naruto and Bleach to move in on the scene. For those of you who can take a long series and like the sound of this show, give it a shot. Perhaps google a list of filler episodes you might feel like skipping if this does tickle your fancy. Inuyasha does have something for everyone. From the action to the supernatural, to the romantic and the historical. Its a story hard to place and hard to review with a fair share of chaos and confusion. Its a mess, really. But its a big fun mess if you’re willing to see it through.
As always, keep good humor in mind while watching. This show is bananas and it will make you want to throw objects at the screen from time to time.
For now, I tip my hat to Inuyasha. I thank it for showing me this world, showing me complexity and hilarity, and for showing me how flaws can be celebrated for their entertainment just as well as the parts that shine.
The storyline is basic and very easy to follow, however the story does seem to drag on, so if you have patience with animes this could be for you.
The characters are pure genius, each with their own running joke. Each character (with the exception of Kagome) has a dark and kind of upsetting past often including the death of a loved one. My favourite is Miroku by far. He is a perverted womanising monk who flirts with pretty much any girl. However, some characters, like Shippo (an adorable fox demon), have a minor role with little or no fight scenes. (Then again that’s a small part of his jokes).
The fights are good, lots of blood in some places. However the fights are short and it seems to always be Inuyasha doing most of the work. (As he has stated a few times). The others seem to be back up and use the same moves. For example, Sango, a demon slayer, uses her Hirakotsu (a giant boomerang often used hitting Miroku when he flirts with other girls or touches her butt) but she has a sword which rarely gets used. I think I’ve seen it 3 times and then I can only remember when she is about to use it on Kohaku (her little brother who has no memory of killing their whole village because he’s being controlled by the main bad guy).
The romance is my favourite part in all of the series. It’s more sweet than it is romantic. But it’s the sort that makes you feel all warm inside. I’m sad to say that the romance barely progresses. (Apart from Miroku and Sango). And there is a really big love net. But like I said, it sweet in a LOT of places.(Oh, for you fan girls, I know Sesshomaru, Inuyasha’s brother, is a favourite. Oh, I’m not a fan girl.)
All in all, Inuyasha is a good anime (and my favourite). Watch it if you have patience and love a good laugh, fight sometimes full of blood and sweet romantic bits in an anime.
After the intoduction of the fourth protagonist ( Sango), apart from a few side-stories, the plot essentially deteriorates into a viscous cycle. In a few occasions it seems there will be some new development, but I was dissapointed when the same-old thing happened again. The fillers were heavily Naruto-like, admittedly better.
Overall: I think the series can be alot better, but if you like extended series, this could be for you.
3: Serial Experiments Lain
English: Serial Experiments Lain
MAL Score: 8.05
Lain Iwakura, an awkward and introverted fourteen-year-old, is one of the many girls from her school to receive a disturbing email from her classmate Chisa Yomoda—the very same Chisa who recently committed suicide. Lain has neither the desire nor the experience to handle even basic technology; yet, when the technophobe opens the email, it leads her straight into the Wired, a virtual world of communication networks similar to what we know as the internet. Lain’s life is turned upside down as she begins to encounter cryptic mysteries one after another. Strange men called the Men in Black begin to appear wherever she goes, asking her questions and somehow knowing more about her than even she herself knows. With the boundaries between reality and cyberspace rapidly blurring, Lain is plunged into more surreal and bizarre events where identity, consciousness, and perception are concepts that take on new meanings.
Written by Chiaki J. Konaka, whose other works include Texhnolyze, Serial Experiments Lain is a psychological avant-garde mystery series that follows Lain as she makes crucial choices that will affect both the real world and the Wired. In closing one world and opening another, only Lain will realize the significance of their presence.
Introduction: I find myself typing this review thinking more about the conceptualization of existence, than the anime itself. Above all, there are two standards I hold true for anime. There are anime that simply entertain for the sake of enjoyment, and there are anime that stretches the boundary of human imagination. Serial Experiments Lain falls in the latter category and for this reason Serial Experiments Lain stands out as a true classic. Serial Experiments Lain pushes the envelope of what the perceived notion of what can be done with television as a medium. The show doesn’t just provide entertainment; it provides insight, and profound views and beliefs about technology and the role it plays in society. With that said it’s time to get on with the review.
Story: Given that Lain’s story progression is very disjointed, if the execution were to be even off by the slightest, the show would have been ridden with plot holes. Lain however doesn’t need worry about plot and story in the same sense as other anime, but instead relies on the atmosphere and the characters to tell the story. What little plot Lain does have, the show works with it fabulously. Now some may argue that Lain is completely plot driven, but to each his own. Personally I believe that Lain strays as far as it can from bland episodic story telling, and in essence is similar to Citizen Kane in the aspect that the story has little to do with the show. Lain above all is a character study, and the plot only moves forward under the characters.
Art: Despite the art being off center in terms of traditional anime, it hardly deters from the overall enjoyment of the series. It is important to note that the series actually benefits from the unique art style presented in Lain. Art is not a big pulling factor for Lain, so if you are a fan of high quality art, you may be in for a rough ride.
Sound: The series relies on a minimalist approach to sound and music. Dialogue is sparse, but very profound. Sound effects are seldom used but with brevity, and has a lasting impact on the viewer. Once again, this lack of a quality that would normally be detrimental to an anime’s enjoyment, but becomes one of Lain’s strengths. The sound of the electricity running through power lines, the empty sound of Lain typing on her keyboard, and the scarce use of music. These are all memorable pieces of sound effects that adds to the overall impact of the show.
Character: Now this is where Lain shines brightest. In a vast wasteland of mundane same-old, Lain sticks out as an anime that takes its characters to a level that most anime can only dream of achieving. The character of Lain is perhaps the most deep and relevant characters in anime today. To explain upon this point, one would have to watch the series and comprehend the various themes and motif’s on one’s own. But in order to be brief, Lain’s character can be summarized as ascending from human status, to near God like power through the prowess of the internet. Ahem, I mean, “The Wired.” It’s a simple concept and seems like it has been done before, giving credit to the argument, and it probably has. But the beauty here is the cast of side characters that surround Lain. Her sister, her father, mother, and friends, are all extremely deep characters, that although don’t appear to be, are actually extremely poignant in their own right.
Enjoyment & Closing: If watched with an open mind, Lain will do more than simply entertain. It is truly revolutionary anime for its time, and the amount of depth in the show is utterly staggering. Never in my years of watching anime have I seen a show as thought provoking as Lain. If one were so inclined to contact me, we could talk for hours upon hours of the religious symbols, and religious references that run about the shows course. We could then change the subject to comparing Lain’s character to that of philosophy of the Jungian Shadow. We could converse and discover deeper and more universal meanings as time progressed. Lain is such a show that the viewer doesn’t just watch it. The viewer must be pushed to think, and who doesn’t want to do a bit a of thinking once in a while?
Serial Experiments Lain is a paragon of many dimensions, and completely unparalleled in many more. It’s a masterpiece of intellectuality, and utterly unparalleled in providing a mind-warping trip into extreme psychological and philosophical themes whose impact lingers and haunts like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
This is going without saying that Serial Experiments Lain is one of the most inaccessible creations of art to grace the medium of Animation, and it is difficult to even describe its complexity. There is a broad range of ideas, all of which have massive depth in their facets, which could all be focused on as a main point. Generally, these themes involve technologies impact on society, thorough deconstruction of the internet, the psychology of an impersonal god, Etcetera. In addition, the massive breadth of theoretical possibilities to many of the open-ended points in Serial Experiments Lain’s plot and themes is without limit.
There is more things to breakdown and go into detail than could ever be summed in a simple article, especially considering the more subjective aspects. What I will going into is the realistic nature of the setting and plot of Lain, the mechanics of the show, and ultimately to the madness that lies within the later themes of Serial Experiments Lain.
**Section 1: Exposition Methods & Related Devices**
Concerning the plot of the first half of the show, the delivery is extremely cryptic and mysterious. There is little aspects of the plot structure in which one definitive point is summed up, rather it’s ever-evolving, chapter-less, and amorphous. Points are conveyed not through clear, upfront events, but through innumerable small details continuously revealed throughout the course of each episode. Everything is a puzzle made up of tiny little fragments of information, the bonding of each piece comprising of the viewer’s continuous contemplation and theorization of what is going on, and what is next. Eventually, through no clear, definitive point, but over a general expanse of time, the big picture clicks into place.
The latter half of the show, starting somewhere in the 6th episode or so, is an even higher dimension of intellectual exposition. In the first half, the themes involved with each small detail conveyed would be mentioned some way or another. The philosophical notions and ideas, as well as most of the psychological aspects, are found entirely through the viewer’s own questioning. This side of the plot, which holds some of most powerful ideas and content of its genre that I’ve ever witnessed, are never expressed in any moment through the face-value of events that occur, but entirely through the varying levels of connotations. There are no narratives, clear explanations, or dialogue, only the viewer’s ability to string together the numerous implications of events into powerful, complex systems of ideas.
The methods listed places Serial Experiments Lain on a level of intellectual sophistication that is, as of this day, unrivalled. Common tropes of exposition found in mainstream Japanese animation usually involve not only singular points of very direct narratives or dialogue, but outright illogical halts to events taking place in way for spoon-feeding the audience information to degree’s that outright kill immersion, or even break the 4th wall. Serial Experiments Lain is the absolute anti-thesis of this. Through the constant connotation-heavy, cryptic exposition, almost the entire burden of figuring out what is happening is placed on the intellect of the viewer.
In tandem with the exposition method is the pacing of the events that occur. Particularly in the first half of the show, the pacing for the most part is slow, drawn out, and takes it’s time with every detail presented. It’s true that it goes over-board in this regard at some points, however, it’s inextricable to success of the shows exposition method, which I will demonstrate in an analogy: If I were to present a person with a puzzle, demand it to be pieced together quickly, and then toss all pieces in the person’s face, said person wouldn’t make heads or tails of the puzzle. A puzzle is formulated and solved one piece at a time until the bigger picture is revealed.
This illustrates the key function of the slow pacing in the show. The significance of each bit of information presented is only designated by how each scene takes its time in revealing said information. If the show were to completely scrap this pacing in way for a faster speed, nothing would be able to serve as a cue to the importance of a bit of information versus an irrelevant bit. The viewer wouldn’t be able to register enough information to form a bigger picture, and the exposition as a whole would simply fail. In order for the cryptic nature of the exposition to not fall into incoherency, lengthiness of time must be utilized.
*Section 2: Realism – Part I*
Suspension of Disbelief is a critical aspect of Serial Experiments Lain. That is, the complete lack of any cause for disbelief what so ever. Before I go on about how Serial Experiments Lain achieves a grounded sense of tangible realism, and why it’s so relevant later on in the anime, I’ll first explain a few things about disbelief, and what too much suspension of disbelief can do to the emotional impact of an art piece.
Disbelief is what naturally arises when a viewer witnesses something that is extra-ordinary, fundamentally different, or super-natural in relation to the real world the viewer lives in. Disbelief isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if there is plenty of aspects of the show that are congruent with our own reality, or that the extra-ordinary premises are developed into some kind of sensible system I.E. if you can present a sufficient amount of science or logic behind what’s happening. However, regardless if it affects the show negatively in an immediate sense, which it can very much do, inundating a viewer with material that requires vast suspension of disbelief changes the nature of the effect.
Take a show like Naruto for example, where the characterizations are almost nonsensically dramatic and flamboyant. It’s true that it’s very entertaining to watch, but in reality, no one is going to spontaneously pass out at the sight of a tasty bowl of noodle soup, or yell at someone with so much force that they are lifted off their feet and fly ten blocks away, let alone survive.
An even better example, which highlights the negative aspects of what disbelief can do, is any sort of prelude or interlude you might find in a standard Shonen anime Ala. Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, or Soul Eater. In these scenes, usually, each side spends inordinate amounts of time explaining things. These explanations can be either totally nonsensical in the context (a villain explaining every fighting move he uses to the protagonist, or vis versa), or reach eye-rolling lengths (rants that go tens of minutes in length with no real reason why fighting isn’t happening. (I know it’s called filler material, and I don’t care))
The primary flaw in a consistent need for the viewer to suspend their disbelief is that the long-term impact of the show is lessened in proportion. While suspending one’s disbelief opens you up to the realm of the ridiculous and the fantastic, it also increases the emotional distance from the show and the real world. A viewer might get swept off their feet by a story about forest spirits and cosmic gods, but once we return to our daily lives, “real world” begins to over-write and obscure the emotions lingering from the experience. This is because the premises we are subjected to outside of the show have nothing in common with reality. In this regard, Serial Experiments Lain is incredible in a sense that not many show’s I’ve seen have achieved.
This quality, which is the utter lack of any cause for disbelief, is facilitated in two key ways, the first being the characterizations of the show. Just like the qualities of the expositions method (and by extension the existence of the entire plot), this is also an inaccessible part of the show. The characterizations of the show are, for lack of more interesting words, straight-forward, serious, and extremely mundane in a very “real life” way. This may seem like the shows biggest down fall, due to it lacking any sort of conventional values of humor, drama, goofy/silliness, or any sort of distinctly Japanese flavor of ‘wacky’. However, these issues are only skin deep, as they, just like the plot, serve to ground the viewer in a sense of absolute realism when the later half of the show begins to take off. That is, in the moments of absolute madness, there is no point in which the idea that “this could happen to real people, or people I actually know” falters.
The second key point is the plot. Speaking of which…
*Section 3: The Setting, and The Wired*
The plot elements involving the first half of Serial Experiments Lain are absolutely crucial to formulating the basis of, as well as a sense of logic and realism to, the second half of the show, which is where the truly transcendental madness lies. In particular, the plot concerning who and what Lain Iwakura is, what The Wired is and it’s functions, and what it’s relationship with humanity and Lain is. It’s important to note that The Wired’s relationship to Lain and the rest of the Human race are drastically different. However, due to the fact that the progressions of the plot lines aren’t found in singular events, but arrays of small details scattered through out each episode, there is a sort of vagueness to the origin of each idea presented in the show. This makes the subject extremely complex and difficult to even approach.
The initial setting of the show centers around a junior high schooler named Lain Iwakura. Lain is a very shy, distant, and extremely detached individual. She has a group of female friends which act typical in whatever ways junior high schoolers act, and they occasionally spice up there lives by going to an underground nightclub. It’s all extremely mundane and normal, until things take a turn into the unknown when strange occurrences revolving around something called “The Wired” begin to happen.
Initially, the appearance of The Wired seems to be the show’s equivalent to the internet, both technologically and sociologically. However, the nature of The Wired is revealed to have drastically different dimensions, mainly in the distinguishability between itself and the ‘real world’. This is illustrated through quite a few events that happen through out the first 4 episodes.
In the details of the first episode, one of Lain’s classmates commits suicide. A period of time after Lain Iwakura discovers this, Lain starts receiving emails from her dead class-mate which claim that “she crossed over into The Wired”. These emails show, somehow, that her conciousness still exists. Another series of events involve depictions of people undergoing strange hallucinations in episode 4. One of which particularly involved a teenage boy who seems to be undergoing what, on the surface, seems to be a severe hallucination of being trapped in some kind of dungeon-based video game. Ultimately, the boy ends up killing a girl he believed to be some sort of dungeon monster… What follows this is very crucial, and has vast implications.
After the event, Lain is shown gathering details on the incident, and what is gathered is that the boy had desired to play a video game (called Phantoma) with in The Wired. After this bit of detail, Lain’s father approaches her and engages in a dialogue, saying that Lain must remember that the only function of The Wired is to contain and transfer information, and that it’s not to be confused with the real world. Lain responds with a denial of this, stating that the difference between The Wired and reality isn’t clear at all. This dialogue, coupled with how the incidences involving people playing video games in The Wired, which resulted in experiences that completely blended with their perception and sense of reality, begin to point toward the nature of The Wired as something that is able to manipulate the conciousness of those who are connected to it.
In the episode 5, through the fragmented dialogues involving Lain and a variety of floating puppets, it’s revealed that external reality is a “Hologram” of the information contained within The Wired. Everything that ‘exists’ is simply centralized projections of the collective information that The Wired contains. The final progression is wrapped through two key events. The first is Lain’s sister, Mika, getting into a car crash. Through some freak accident involving her connection to The Wired, Mika’s mind gets duplicated into two separate instances, both of which begin to have their own experiences and become their own individuals. The second point comes much later in the show, where the exposition on the origin of The Wired, and its purpose, takes place. This exposition shows that later in the development on the technology behind The Wired, a scientist named Masami Eiri began to implement the ability for The Wired to become permanently connected to people on an unconsciousness level. The scope of this implementation was not just singular targets, but everyone on Earth. This is what is referred to as “The 7th Protocol of The Wired”.
So… What does it all mean? What exactly is The Wired, ultimately? It is two-fold: technological, and metaphysical. Concerning the technology behind The Wired, it’s some kind of global array of devices which, through some means, fundamentally affect the psyche of everyone on the planet. Through out the show, Physicalistic Mind-philosophy is a position taken as true, specifically that the human mind is electrical impulses in the brain, which can be affected and manipulated like any other electrical system. This presumably involves some sort of machinery that can wirelessly interface with, and therefore manipulate, human brains. However, there is another side to the technology, and that is the digitalization of conciousness itself. To put it more in the semantics used in the show, the complete translation of the human mind into a construct of information contained completely within The Wired, which can exist independent of any brain or body. This seems to be largely the case for most people later in the show, and is actually what happened to Lain’s classmate who killed herself in the beginning of the show, so it’s safe to presume that this is the universal case.
The second dimension of The Wired is metaphysical. To a universal, omniscient perspective which theoretically isn’t connected to The Wired, The Wired is simply psyche-affecting technology. However, given the truth explained about how mind’s who are connected to The Wired are completely integrated into The Wired, the meaning of The Wired when considering limited, human observers is absolutely fundamental. As explained in Episode 5, everything experienced by someone who is connected to The Wired are projections, or ‘holograms’, of information stored within The Wired. Given the fact that all of humanity is connected to The Wired, this logically means that the entirety of all experience-able and observable reality is The Wired, and any other conceivable basis for reality is equivalent to non-existence, due to how minds contained within The Wired having no means of experiencing something outside The Wired.
It doesn’t stop there. The Wired’s fundamental link to all observable phenomena goes beyond what is external to the human observer, but actually extends to the mind of each human observer itself. Not only is external phenomena projections of information in The Wired, but every level of mental phenomena that make up concious beings are simply autonomous constructs of information as well. This key fact serves as the basis for how everything, including the minds of human beings, can be manipulated, created, or erased in any way or means. This ties in with who Lain Iwakura is.
*Section 4: Lain Iwakura*
To preface, Lain Iwakura is an extremely detached individual. Lain is detached not just in a social way, but in a completely fundamental way: She seems to not really ‘connect’ with the entirety of her own reality, as if something were very subtly… wrong. Coupled with this is how utterly lost she is with in here own mind. I find this very intriguing and relatable because of how similar this behaviour is to my own, due to some aspects of my own mind. I often have my attention detracted into ‘clouds’ of mental noise that are usually extremely ungrounded in reality, at times bordering on out right craziness. This psychology is quite similar to Lain’s own kind of wanderings with in herself.
However, in exactly the same sense of how The Wired has unfathomably vaster facets to itself than its initial appearance, there is too more to Lain Iwakura than meets the eye. Actually, what is met by the eye at all would be closer to outright deception. Firstly, the name “Lain Iwakura” doesn’t actually refer to one particular person, but more accurately describes multiple beings…
From the get go, Lain Iwakura’s exact identity, in terms of it being singularly defined, is brought into confusion in the first few episodes, particularly when she visits the local nightclub. In scattered dialogues she has with various people that enjoy the night club scene, Lain Iwakura is talked about as if she is two different people. At one point a boy flirts with her, asking her to come back when she is her “wild side”. Another point is when the DJ of the club makes some sort of inquiry to her, only to dismiss her because “she wants to play her shy kid side”. During a few brief incidents, particularly involving a person who actually commits suicide in the night club via shooting himself, Lain is shown abruptly switching to a much more assertive, aggressive demeanour.
At first it simply seems to be the inklings of a Split Personality Disorder. However, episode 6 through 7 add a dimension to the problem. In episode six, Lain Iwakura is shown wondering through projected landscapes of data in The Wired (different from the projections that make up of Tokyo), attempting to find a certain scientist who worked on the technological prototypes of The Wired. In these scenes, she is entirely in her “aggressive” persona. In the beginning of episode 7, Lain speaks with her computer, expounding that there is a Lain in The Wired different from the shy Lain Iwakura, which is who she sees as herself. I feel it’s important to consider the occurrences shown in episode 5, involving Lain’s sister Mika. As discussed on what the implications of those events were, Mind duplication is possible in The Wired, and considering this, the dialogue at the beginning of Episode 7 begins to point toward the problems with Lain’s identity going beyond mere Split Personality Disorder.
There is another aspect of who, or more appropriately, what Lain Iwakura is, and this ties directly into the identity crisis that is about to come to a boil. Specifically, what is Lain’s relationship with The Wired…
Inklings of Lain Iwakura possessing some sort of great power of some nature are littered throughout the first 7 episodes. Lain is usually mentioned in almost all the dialogues describing the nature of The Wired, as well as the existence of some sort of ‘omnipresences’ or ‘god’ within The Wired. Whenever she is mentioned, she is described as carrying some immense power, or that her will is somehow crucially important.
Two particular incidents should be considered. The final scene of Episode 2 involves Lain Iwakura and her normal group of friends hanging out in the night club. At one point, a man shoots and kills a random female. Everyone begins to clear out of the club, but Lain stands transfixed. The man recognizes her for some reason, insinuates that Lain is somehow forcing him to the actions of homicide against his own will, and referred to her as a “scattered god” (At least in my version of the Japanese to English subtitles). The second incident is around the middle of Episode 6, where Lain Iwakura is interrogating the scientist behind the prototypes in which the technology behind The Wired was based off of. Shortly before the end of the discussion, the scientist claims that Lain is extremely important to The Wired, and that she has unspeakable potential.
This finally leads us to the smoking gun: Episode 8. Around the beginning, Lain is confronted by her normal group of friends. Her closest friend, Arisu, begins to ask if Lain is guilty of something, though Arisu fails to specify what this exact something is. After repeated questioning, Arisu drops the accusation and wanders off. From this point, Lain has some rather vivid panic attacks involving quandaries about her other “me” in The Wired, worrying about what that “other Lain” did, and confused on the matter of who she is.
At the 14 minute mark on, things become clear. Arisu is shown, in her bedroom, sexually stimulating herself to a fantasy of one of her teachers, which is obvious by his imaginary figure standing over her. All of the sudden, from the corner of Arisu’s eye, Lain is seen sneering at her from Arisu’s bed, tangibly and physically. With a persona clearly different than the ‘Shy’ Lain Iwakura, the ‘pervert’ Lain beginnings to mock Arisu for her fantasy, and laugh in response to Arisu’s accusation of Lain spreading rumours of her perverse desires, which sends Arisu into an emotional fit. To fill in the rest of the context, Arisu was initially suspecting that the ‘shy’ Lain started a rumour about her fantasies about this specific teacher, when the ‘pervert’ Lain actually caused the initial rumors.
Simultaneous to this event, the ‘shy’ Lain is shown, physically and tangibly, lying in her own bed in a fit of panic. What follows can only be described as a artistically surrealistic depiction of a mental breakdown, which involves a conflict between the ‘aggressive’ Lain and the ‘pervert’ Lain on who each of them are, or who the “real” Lain is, and, to her distress, the ‘shy’ Lain is forced to endure.
Following this is a scene somewhere outside the projections making up Tokyo, the ‘aggressive’ Lain is seen talking with a concious being in the form of a shape-shifting sliver blob, who actually turns out to be Masami Eiri, the scientist who implemented the “7th protocol of The Wired”. This time, it’s flat out stated that Lain is an omnipresent being within The Wired. After a series of denials, Lain concludes that if what Eiri said is true, she could simply “delete” all the information involving the nasty rumours spread by Lain about Arisu. Information, in this case, meaning everyone’s memory. Eiri agrees and asks her to try it…
… And then Lain succeeds in doing exactly that, proving Eiri true. After a scene simply showing the word “deleting…”, the ‘Shy’ Lain Iwakura is shown walking to school, when her group of friends greet her in a very chipper fashion. As they run to her, Lain deduces that she actually did what is equivalent to ‘erasing’ the events surrounding the rumours from existence, as no one remembers it: She deleted all memory of it from The Wired. Just as Lain attempts to return their greeting, another Lain tangibly manifests itself from ‘shy’ Lain’s position, greeting her friends in a very socially engaging way clearly different from the ‘Shy’ Lain Iwakura. All this occurs as if the ‘Shy’ Lain were some sort of imperceptible ghost to the event, as no one actually senses her presence. Lain is left in denial, saying “Stop it! I am me; I’m over here”. In a state of shock, she watches her group of friends leave with the other Lain, when she is suddenly confronted with the ‘pervert’ Lain. She says “Lain is Lain, I am Me”, and the whole scene fades to white. The episode ends with the ‘Shy’ Lain asking her computer to affirm whether “I am me, and that there is no other me than me”, clearly in an inescapable quandary of the nature of her fundamental existence…
So what is Lain? Lain is the ‘admin’ of The Wired. Lain is a being capably of creating, erasing, or changing any and all information in The Wired at her will, and capable of existing and moving to any point and place within said information. In other words, Lain is the omnipresent, impersonal god of the entire universe in which humanity exists, as she can freely change all aspects of reality at will. The good question is WHO exactly is Lain Iwakura? Frankly, that’s clearly an open-ended question, but from the perspective of the ‘shy’ Lain Iwakura, Lain Iwakura is a multitude of persons, all of which are also “admins” of The Wired. As to who the initial or real one is, this is impossible to answer, as each one Lain Iwakura fundamentally interferes with all the social and external functions of every other Lain Iwakura, as well as the possibility that every Lain Iwakura can create or destroy other Lains, meaning any one Lain could have been the first.
*Section 6: Realism – Part II*
Everything said so far has paved the way to what is the crown jewel of what Serial Experiments Lain offers: the philosophical themes and psychological contexts, which I’ve somewhat touched upon already. However, before we finally journey into said madness, I feel there must be some final precepts that have to be covered.
In philosophy, particularly in the abstract and fundamental categories such as metaphysics or ontology, proper and convincing execution of any idea is an easy performance to fail. The logic behind a particular conclusion can wane to many unjustified leaps and gaps, tend toward insubstantially tangential pseudo-intellectuality, or degrade into nonsense. Generally speaking, the most common instances of anything resembling abstract philosophy in modern media is either wildly exaggerated poor critical thinking, or entirely based upon “what ifs” and unexamined presumption. It is a shame that this is so because abstract and existential philosophy can create some of the most profound experiences that can be conveyed, if done right.
It is from this aforementioned point that Serial Experiments Lain draws its greatest virtue: despite the utterly extreme degrees it achieves, everything is grounded with in what can be reasonably deduced or implied from the premises of the plot concerning the world, Lain Iwakura, The Wired, and its effect on humanity. Despite its venture into solipsistic-esque notions and profoundly Lovecraftian epistemological themes, not once is there a vast gap in the substance that spawned such extreme quandaries. Unlike most artistic creations concerning extremely disturbing abstract philosophy, Serial Experiments Lain actually provides a satisfying sense of logic to a degree that completely dissuades any doubt. Not only is the logic of such extreme notions solid, but the premises making up said logic are realistic and scientifically feasible.
Most of what happens in terms of philosophical and psychological horror is completely based in highly advanced levels of wireless technology, an absolute understanding of how conciousness works in the brain, which allows for its manipulation, and global-scale virtual reality. True it might be that these extreme levels of technology are offset by innumerable distances of scientific advances that we have yet to uncover, none of the notions present seem so far off that I would begin to disbelieve them. The ‘fiction’ part of the Science Fiction behind Serial Experiments Lain is highly questionable in whether it truly strays from reality. On good example: I am not quite convinced that conciousness manipulation via electronic interfacing with a brain qualifies as outright fictitiousness.
This key point, that the ‘fiction’ behind the philosophical themes might not be all that fictitious; that there is consistent feasibility, solid logical progression, and realism leading up to, and present within, the incomprehensible fringes that Serial Experiments Lains shots for, is the crux of its unforgettably haunting and traumatic effect. These notions aren’t something that can just be dismissed as wildly pseudo-intellectual propaganda, nor as emotional drivel. No… This could actually become a reality one day.
*Section 7: Metaphysics, Ontology, and Mind*
… and so we finally arrive at the monolith of unspeakable magnitude that is the philosophical and psychological contexts of Serial Experiments Lain.
The philosophical ideas and themes, and all accompanying psychological contexts that the show ultimately centralizes on, deal with the abstract categories of thought on a comprehensive scale: Philosophy of mind, free will, the concept of the self, reality, metaphysics, and even epistemology-esque notions. This is to say that Serial Experiments Lain attacks all angles of how we conceptualize the true nature of the reality that the psychological self must function in. The direction of horror selects every aspect of how we think and feel about existence itself, which, by virtue of these feelings and thoughts being the basis in which we mentally interact about the world, totally affects one’s feelings and thoughts on anything conceivable. The structure of the philosophy is also of great merit. The way the notions are presented, and how they connect, is as if one were approaching a vast web of complexity with no clear point of beginning nor end. Every idea presented is either a seamless progression from, directly tied to, or a direct implication of, another idea.
The first theme that develops is the basic metaphysical and ontological thought surrounding The Wired. As I have explained in the sections on The Wired & Lain Iwakura, the definition of The Wired and the “real world” blend until they are absolutely indistinguishable. Minds which connect to The Wired are transformed into digital information in the process. This means that The Wired isn’t merely a virtual reality overlaying one’s sense perceptions, as that would mean that the mind of the observer would be rooted in another “reality” beyond the virtual reality: There is clear ontological difference. When a connection takes place, the mind of the observer becomes apart of The Wired itself, making The Wired the only reality there is, and thus the ultimate reality.
From many different instances in the show, this notion is progressively frayed into a complex network of more specific, sinister ideas. Much of the thought following the aforementioned basic notions blend into Epistemology and further reflections of what reality is to a human observer within The Wired. Serial Experiments Lain introspects deeply upon what it means for something in reality to exist, or specifically, for something in the past to have actually occurred, and meditates on how humans can know of such existences of objects. The entirety of the events in episode 8, where Lain was revealed to be a group of impersonal gods to humanity, as well as many dialogues preceding and follow that episode, show case one ontological idea on the being of events and objects: The basis on which any happening occurs, or pn which any object exists, is human memory. Tamper with the collective memory, and reality is warped, or even destroyed.
Further illustrations which will disambiguate this idea are present in the 8th and 13th episode. As gone over before on episode 8, Lain is capable of removing information from human minds on a vast scale. In episode 13, after a traumatic bout of events which lead to a climatic moment of distress for Lain, involving Arisu’s sanity snapping under the weight of said traumatic events (watch the episodes to find out why), Lain Iwakura erase all memory and records of The Wired, by extension any memory of herself, from existence.
Carefully examining the outcomes of these two crucial events poses a tremendous quandary with an answer of dreadful undercurrents: This would be the fragile dependence upon the human psyche in order for an object or event to exist. If, somehow, any physical trace of an event were to be erased, say, a persons existence, an important part of someone’s life, or a discovery that brought change of monumental magnitude to society, and then following that, the annihilation of all records which preserved the information regarding the subject, could it still be affirmed that it actually happened? If, given these conditions, all memories and mental information surrounding said subject were made void, and any awareness of such removal of information, that is, awareness of one’s own ignorance, were permanently removed, how would one be able to say if something existed or not? To the human observer, what would be the difference between these conditions surrounding an object or event, and said object or event never even existing?
In the omniscient, transcending perspective I am addressing this issue in, this seems inconsequential. However, to the human observer connected to The Wired, with the fallibility and limited scope of perception the comes with our human brains, what then would be the situation? What would be the outcome to someone who not only has their knowledge limited to the information that exists within The Wired, which would include the bundles of information that comprises their mind & conciousness, but also has their scope of awareness, particularly in terms of their own ignorance, limited to said information as well? The answer, with all its terrible implications, is that a comprehensive annihilation of all records and human memory would result in a state indistinguishable from not only the non-existence of said object or event, but a permanent state of unawareness from all of humankind in regards to the subject. It would literally be as if it had never even been conceived before…
From here on is when things get far more complexly intertwined, splitting into two main aspects. When taking into account the events of episode 8 and 13, as well as the fact that minds that exist in The Wired are just as much projections & constructs of information as the objects that make up the world of The Wired, the undercurrent of the previously described Epistemological notions bubbles up into another tremendous quagmire.
*Section 8: Quagmires at the Fringes of Comprehension*
The apposite observation that should be made in light of all these mind-numbing thoughts is the subtle Lovecraftian tone. That is, a tonality that, somehow, a humans sense of reality is frighteningly sheltered: Fragile and insignificant in relation to an un-meditatably vaster nature of reality, whose inklings might all but shatter any sense of sanity or well-being. It is a theme that slowly creeps into one’s mind at the unravelling of each idea spoken of so far. I feel the final nails in the coffin lie within in the epitome of these ideas. Enter the boundaries of Free Will, and its implications on the concept of The Self.
Return one final time to climaxes of the 8th episode. It was shown that Lain was able to erase events from reality due to the ontological nature that the existences of events can only be facilitated by the memory records of human minds… But what did the events of that episode truly imply about what a psyche is? The notion that it is bundles of information with an unspecified level of complexity has been tossed about, but a human psyche of this nature would find a ghastly truth to their existence.
This truth is on the ontology behind what ultimately constructs a person’s mind, which is the experiences that make up their lives. Specifically, that the construction is ontologically sourced from Lain’s being(s), and ultimately her whims. Take a moment and reflect on what built any ideal one might hold in life? Experiences with abuse leading to a desire for compassion in society? A certain sort of wisdom that might lead you from acting upon selfishness and hate, perhaps? Or reflect on any accomplishments one has had? Graduation? A person you were meaningfully intimate with: A mother, best friend, or partner of some sort? How exactly do these things exist to you, and how do they shape your mind? These, ineluctably, are based in memory records. Everything that has happened to us is memory, and therefore, everything that not only dictates our behaviours, but dictates self-image, concepts of who we are, and ways of thinking, are fated entirely from memory.
… And so, with a flick of Lain’s fingers, any comprehension of an ideal would be gone. In the instance of a whim, your warmest memory’s of your mothers love, your best friends companionship, or of all the good deed’s one has done, would turn to nil. The most mind-splitting notion is that any alterations or annihilations of the facets of one’s mind would go utterly unnoticed; The change itself becoming erased by the ignorance of such. You could be morphed from a loving saint to blood-thirsty psychopath, or have one’s mind revert back to an infantile state with the previous life all but erased, and you wouldn’t even know there was a difference. Any sense of there being an independent will, choice, or even freedom of thought, is just an illusion at the consequence of Lain’s prolonged absence. An illusion which can be shattered at any moment of her meddling.
This shattering of the illusion of a free psyche spells an insanity: That you can not escape this ontology, because the nature of your mind binds you to it, and the only alternative is the nothing of non-being. However, the most horrible disillusionment is not for those of human observers, but for the impersonal god herself, Lain. The Lovecraftian flavors of this ontology of The Wired is a double edged sword, with the show climaxing at the blow dealt to Lain… The realization of a near perfect Solipsism.
An underlying instinct of our human nature is that we exist in a world external to us. In order for something to become significant for us, the consequences of it must be outside the meer of mental whims. Engrained within the logical route to instances of meaningful events is that of their independence from us, less they be absolute delusion. Our minds must rely on there being something, or else everything that happens is simply an absurd form of nothing. There has to be a line in the sand between what has happened, and hasn’t happened, and the notion of independence of objects is that which draws that line.
It is this fundamental nature – this line in the sand – that Lain slowly finds herself bereft of. Each time Lain Iwakura alters the environment and history of The Wired, something wanes. At each demonstration on the ontological nature of the events that the Lain Iwakura cares about, there is a scream. A cry that can not be audibly sensed, nor sourced by any visual perception, for it comes from the breaking of a mind: An unfathomable, terrible wailing of a thousand leagues of the void, drowning all paths to meaning. It is the realization that, upon gazing at the truth of her reality, there is no real distinguishing between Lain’s own imagination, and the supposed ‘world’ around her.
This is finely represented in the last episode of the series. In the final confrontation between Lain and Masami Eiri, an incident occured: Arisu witnessing said events. After what must have lead to some abject realization of what the world around her really was, Arisu descended into an unintelligible state of maddening wails. Despite Lain’s attempts at placation, Arisu slipped into to catatonia under the weight of such inescapable truths. In absolute desperation to fix the only thing she really cared for, Lain wished everything back to the point were The Wired didn’t exist….
Once again, reality followed her wish. All memories of Lain’s existence were erased, and Masami Eiri was fired before he ever instigated the 7th Protocol of The Wired (which created the ‘admin of The Wired’: Lain). It seemed as if everything were back to normal, and it appeared as if The Wired was no more, except for one slight discrepancy… Lain still existed.
Now in what seems to be some sort of Limbo in the form of Tokyo, all falsehoods resolve. The entire world in which Lain cared about, in particular, all the minds in which she had a relationship with, are merely bundles of information which exist solely at her word. There are no ‘others’, nor objects. There is no ontological substance to having ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘people’, or any sort of conception which would lead to a meaningful life. Any configuration of The Wired would net the same result: All possible experiences are equivalent to imagined illusions of Lain’s mind, which are held in only an inescapable nothing. From this, Lain’s mind cracks as the finality of her Solipsism-esque existence is disclosed.
That is, until she visited by God, or some other being that is actually independent of Lain Iwakura’s will.
Whatever happened after Lain’s mind snapped, the series closes on something jarringly absurd. Lain finally realizes the true ‘depth’ of her omni-presence, which is that the ontology of time itself based in memory and current awareness of the environment around human observers, both of which are malleable by Lain’s commands. This is shown by her meeting her old friend Arisu, who is now grown up and married, of and completely unaware of the events she had with Lain in her teenage years. They briefly exchange words, with Arisu befuddled with the familiarity of Lain’s visage. As they part, Arisu remarks that she’s sure they will meet again. Lain agrees: They will meet again. ‘Anywhere, Anytime’…
That is, until she visited by God, or some other being that is actually independent of Lain Iwakura’s will.
Whatever happened after Lain’s mind snapped, the series closes on something jarringly absurd. Lain finally realizes the true ‘depth’ of her omni-presence, which is that the ontology of time itself based in memory and current awareness of the environment around human observers, both of which are malleable by Lain’s commands. This is shown by her meeting her old friend Arisu, who is now grown up and married, and completely unaware of the events she had with Lain in her teenage years. They briefly exchange words, with Arisu befuddled with the familiarity of Lain’s visage. As they part, Arisu remarks that she’s sure they will meet again. Lain agrees: They will meet again. ‘Anywhere, Anytime’…
What the ending of Serial Experiments Lain means is possible the most thought provoking aspect of it all. The final thoughts that I am left with is are on how the ‘Shy’ Lain originally came into existence? What does the existence of the ‘other’ Lain’s mean? Perhaps the original ‘Lain’ who was birthed the beginning of the 7th protocol simply saw no meaning or motivation in anything due to her completely blank mind, and the creation of the “Lain of the flesh”, which is what the ‘shy’ Lain has been refereed to, was a means understanding what ‘human’ emotion and meaning was all about. What was the nature of the God-like being who visited Lain? Was he a figment of Lain’s imagination? Are there other levels to The Wired that haven’t been explored yet; Levels which Lain is ignorant of? Perhaps there are many parallel Wired’s, each with a similar being like Lain, outside of which higher beings oversee, and perhaps enjoy, letting these Lain’s play out their existence? These are but a few ideas which are inspired but the absurd, open-ended cliff-hanger that the series concludes on…
The entirety of the experience that makes up Serial Experiments Lain is completely nonpareil. Not simply unparalleled in terms of any mere genre, but of any medium across the board. It is as such because Serial Experiments Lain is a journey, not simply of a character in a show, but for the mind of the viewer itself. It is fall into a monolithic black-hole of completely unimaginable insanity, and a plunge beyond the absolute fringes of existential madness. It is gloriously epiphanous, yet strikes paralysing, abject horror deep into my soul. It is utterly awe-inspiring, yet haunts me to the bone weeks after the mere mention of its name.
In The Wired, we are all connected as one, and there is no escape…
Serial Experiments Lain is not your average show, and definitely not something you run into every day. It is a unique piece of entertainment that completely transcends its genre, and presents itself as a work of art. An avant-garde show, not restraining itself to the boundaries of traditional storytelling and plot building, creating a completely unique and revolutionary piece of media.
This anime series is NOT for everyone. One of the reasons this show is popular even now, two decades after its initial release, is because its plot is still not completely figured out. The story is told in a rather convoluted fashion, which makes the already complex plot even harder to interpret.
Lain is one of those shows that require the viewer to pay full attention to every detail, and challenging them to put all the pieces together to grasp the content of the story. The theme portrayal in this series only becomes more relevant even now, that the use of technology and internet is becoming larger. A nearly prophetic story of what will happen if the lines of reality and virtual world start to blur.
Not only does the show do an excellent job at connecting its elements with its heavy commentary on psychology, sociology and technology, but it also has a very striking approach to the themes of human connection and loneliness, and overall an exploration the existential self in relation to the world. it raises a series of very thought provoking and intellectual questions about identity, existentialism, and religion. The show is also very famous for its mind-bending thoughts about reality, evolution and the existence of God.
Lain’s narrative is rather cryptic, meaning that nothing is told to the viewer directly, but rather gives them the undertone hints and pieces that, combined, make the story. The story is devoided of any dialogue or character’s inner monologue, not allowing the viewer to know more than they should, giving them a strange sensation of being lost, and forcing them to search for answers. Due to the absence of dialogues, the show relies heavily on its visual presentation. It tells its story through massive, yet subtle use of symbolism and visual keys. The series is rich of surreal and expressive imagery, with commonly metaphorical content.
In terms of characters, there are just the two worth mentioning, with one being far more relevant than the other: Lain and her best friend, Alice. They represent the two sides of the same coin, or, in this particular show, a physical world, and the virtual one. Lain is a lonely, shy, and seemingly depressed middle-school girl, who also suffers from a split personality disorder. She is used to portray most of the show’s themes, one of them being a demonstration of the internet’s ability to split ones personality, creating a whole different person online. Alice, on the other hand, is much more down-to-Earth, realistic and communicative. Her character is used to resemble reality, and common sense in general, but she is also the key trigger in Lain’s development.
Also, even though other characters have an important role in the story, and are used as a symbolical representation of a certain element the show portrays, they aren’t as significant as the two aforementioned are.
What i think is the strongest point of SEL’s characters is the manner in which their characterization is done. As a fairly good compensation to show’s lack of dialogue, Lain’s characters aren’t defined through cheesy lines or forced exposition conversations, but rather through their very actions. The show can clearly depict the character with little to no dialogue, only through visual presentation of characters reactions, movement and behavior. In an essence, ‘show’ is of a far greater value than ‘tell’ in visual media, and SEL follows that rule in a nearly flawless manner.
From the technical sides, even tho the show lacks budget and doesn’t have as much production value as most of the shows nowadays do, it still managed to use this in its advantage.
The character designs are much more realistic and humanoid than most of the series. They are devoided of any abstract, but very commonly seen elements, such as weird and unique hair styles, unnatural hair colors, huge eyes and so on. This is due to the fact that the show wanted to make itself closer to the viewer and make them project themselves to the characters easier, but also to set a certain border of reality. In a show where so many surrealistic things happen there must be a certain sense of realism so the viewer can actually see what the paranormal happening is.
Also, due to the lack of budget, the backgrounds in the scene have minimal amounts of details, and a somewhat inconsistent animation. This allows the author to literally point out elements the viewer should pay attention to.
The show also uses lots of repetitive sequences, like the cityscape scene from the beginning of each episode. This is also used quite well, combined with new monologue each episode that really help a lot in the theme exploration. The show uses a very murky color pallet, with two different sets of colors: the deep blue tone, and a thick yellow and nearly sepia tone. This is not only used to locate the time of the happening, which is usually at night or twilight, but also used to switch tones and suggest a certain mood change in a scene.
It is very noticeable that the show lacks music, probably due to the lack of budget. In this certain show, this is by no means a flaw.
For a such a cryptic and mysterious show such as SEL, the absence of music creates a very unique atmosphere. The over-present silence and sometimes a quiet, but sharp techno sound absorbs the viewer in a world shrouded in absolute mystery, creating an atmosphere that perfectly complements the viewer’s feel of being lost.
But also, surprisingly enough, such lack of music and creating an absorbing ambient can be use very well when invoking drama. For example, a sudden hard techno bass after a long period of silence can help in creating a sense of tension, and also signifying to the viewer that he should pay attention to the plot point. This can also work the other way around, when the omnipresent background musing is rashly interrupted by silence, creating a very clear tone contrast.
Serial Experiments Lain is one of the greatest anime shows ever made, and a personal favorite of mine. It takes an absolute focus on singularity, developing its themes beyond the limits, and pulls the maximum out of its platform for storytelling. It has some of the most aggressive and infinitely deep theme explorations ever put in any sort of media. Its story is complex, intriguing, and somewhat immersive, with thousands of plot-twist, fascinating narrative style, and unparalleled and grounded thematic side. A thoughtful and unique 13-episode experience that can only be described as an onslaught of brutal mindfucks, digging deep into the core of your brain. A perspective-changing brain-basher introducing a completely new look onto this so called “reality”.
Close the world
Open the next
English: Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files
MAL Score: 8.45
One fateful day, Yuusuke Urameshi, a 14-year-old delinquent with a dim future, gets a miraculous chance to turn it all around when he throws himself in front of a moving car to save a young boy. His ultimate sacrifice is so out of character that the authorities of the spirit realm are not yet prepared to let him pass on. Koenma, heir to the throne of the spirit realm, offers Yuusuke an opportunity to regain his life through completion of a series of tasks. With the guidance of the death god Botan, he is to thwart evil presences on Earth as a Spirit Detective.
To help him on his venture, Yuusuke enlists ex-rival Kazuma Kuwabara, and two demons, Hiei and Kurama, who have criminal pasts. Together, they train and battle against enemies who would threaten humanity’s very existence.
Anyways, for those of you who do like a well constructed fighting/action anime, Yu Yu Hakusho is an outstanding show in this category, overall. Yes, it is a shounen, and yes, it does have a few of those typical shounen clichés. However, it also manages to come up with a lot of very unique and inventive ideas, and its dialogue, above average story, with much more depth to it than what you would expect from a shounen, and actual good sense of humor (when compared to most other action anime), make this title stand out from the crowd.
I find the characters to be the real award winners here. They each have something unique and interesting about them. Upon first glance they may look like they each have those 1-dimensional cliché roles of an action series, but upon further viewing you will see that there is more than what meets the eye with Yu Yu Hakusho characters. I can guarantee that throughout the course of this show anyone watching it would at least find 1 character which they can truly appreciate. Also, this show doesn’t just focus on the main character getting stronger and always being the big hero. There is some very interesting character development for many of the characters, and the way in which they interact with one another, as well the diversity and similarities that they show, make for a very balanced chemistry between this cast.
The animation and artwork isn’t top notch, even for its time, but its adequate and gets the job done. The action isn’t amazing, but believe it or not, unlike most action/shounen anime this anime often tends to focus more on developing its story and characters, rather than producing lots of mindless action. And at that, even if it doesn’t look all that great it is great to see actual strategy and emotion playing big parts in many of the fights, rather than simply just having a bunch of punches, kicks, throws, explosions, etc., taking up multiple episodes.
Now, as for the music, its really all opinion. Some people won’t find it to be anything special. I personally fell in love with the entire soundtrack of the series, and believe it or not, it has some of the best BGM that I have heard in any shounen anime. Its doesn’t quite give you the same diversity and overall satisfaction that the soundtracks of Cowboy Bebop and a few other anime with great musical scores give you, but once again, its far above average when compared to most other shounen and action anime, or at least I feel that way about its music, personally.
And then finally, there is the voice acting. Oh, and how wonderful it is. Well, if you’re watching the sub then chances are the voices will stand out to you as adequate, yet nothing amazing, but as long as you’re watching a decent and reliable fansub or the DVDs, you will love the dialogue, which is brilliant in its use of sarcasm/jokes and also in delivering many of the serious and plot-oriented lines. However, if you’re an English speaker, even if you typically can’t stand dubs, the English dub is the way that this series should be watched. The English voice acting is absolutely fantastic. The voices all fit their respective characters almost perfectly. Sure, the dialogue may not be 100% accurate in correspondence to the original lines from the sub with its added humor and sarcasm (which is well worth going a little off track from the original script for, though), but the messages that each character gets across with their lines are delivered solidly and would be interpreted and understood in the same way, whether you were watching the sub or the dub. So, overall, the dub is loyal to the original text despite the fact that it makes a few very noticeable changes and states some lines in different ways.
Overall, Yu Yu Hakusho is a very fun and enjoyable series. This anime is not something that everybody is going to like, but most people should at least find something about it that keeps them interested. Its not a DBZ clone, and its not just a mindless excuse for intense action scenes. The show is fairly long, but its one of the few series that go over 100 episodes and still manage to stay fresh the whole way through. Therefore, I highly recommend this series. I personally find it to be one of the best series that anime has to offer, action or otherwise, and I know that many people would disagree with me (although, I’m really not a big anime buff), but I have watched my fair share of anime and I almost never give out 10’s as scores since no series is perfect (and this anime is no exception), but when I feel that a series deserves it then I give it that score, and Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the few. If you haven’t seen it yet then go out and give it a try. I can almost guarantee that you won’t be sorry.
I am astounded and equally appalled by the amount of idiocy and ignorance in some of the reviews for Yu Yu Hakusho, as it boggles the mind how some of them are even considered valid criticisms of the series in the first place. As you can already tell, this review won’t be a professional one, more so than a rant on the amount of hate this absolutely legendary franchise has garnered over the years. This also will serve as a refutation on the invalid and fallacious “criticisms” the franchise has received over the years as well, meaning that this won’t be a review discussing the show more so than it being a refutation against the undeserved hate the show has received. To put it bluntly, Yu Yu Hakusho has to be the most unfairly hated on Anime of all time. It is labeled as an old, unwatchable work by the casuals who hype up everything new and despise everything that came out before the 2000’s. It is also a work which receives a lot of hate from the elitists, the same kind of elitists who place the same ten shows in their Anime favorites lists and think that they are cultured because of it. “Oh how I love thee, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Oh how I love thee, Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Oh how I despise thee, typical battle shonen trash, with the exception of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Hunter x Hunter of course.” They say, while throwing around fallacies with no backing evidence.
I am beginning to stir away from the main point, so let us begin with the fallacies and my refutations to said fallacies before I stir away even further:
1.“Yu Yu Hakusho has no good villains. The main antagonist of the Dark Tournament arc is nothing more than a brute who receives no real character development.”
This is inherently false. Yu Yu Hakusho has two main villains in the franchise: Toguro and Sensui, who are the central villains of the arcs they encompass. Toguro is a villain who receives development from the moment he is introduced up until the moment where he is finally beaten. Toguro is also a great subversion of all the other battle shonen villains, because he is beaten through his own will rather than being beaten through the power of friendship which most battle shonen use as a cheap way to progress the plot. His relationship with Genkai is developed thoroughly, and this makes him feel like a real character rather than some obstacle the main characters have to overcome in order to move on to the next obstacle. He is made all the more human when his dark past is shown, and even more so when the viewer starts to question if he is really evil or not. When a character does that, are they really the typical battle shonen villain? Are they one dimensional? Or is the viewer who is criticizing the show nitpicking at straws just to attack the series? You be the judge of that, because anyone can see that Toguro is a well-developed character. This refutation also applies to Sensui as well, as both he and Toguro are developed and get the same fallacies thrown at them over and over again, with no concrete evidence to back said fallacies up. The amount of hypocrisy these pseudo intellectuals adhere to is unbelievable! You mean to tell me that Father from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is a well-developed villain, whereas Younger Toguro from Yu Yu Hakusho is not? These people must be so far up their cranium to not see the obvious hypocrisy in what they say.
2. “Yu Yu Hakusho is a formulaic battle shonen, especially the first arc which is the Spirit Detective arc.”
How can these people say that Yu Yu Hakusho is formulaic, especially the Spirit Detective arc, when they also contradict themselves in the same sentence and go on to say that the arc was needed to establish two of the central characters, Hiei and Kurama? No arc in Yu Yu Hakusho is formulaic, since the show develops it’s characters all the while moving the plot forward with each ongoing arc in the story. It would be illogical to start an Anime with the central thrust revealed to the viewer immediately, rather than developing it’s leads first and giving the viewers an insight into the world of the Anime. This is exactly what the spirit detective arc does: it introduces the characters, introduces the world, and introduces the concept so that the viewers can familiarize with what they are seeing. It does it well enough and also advances the story smoothly into the next arc. It would be illogical for tension to arise from the very first episode, and the spirit detective arc avoids that issue while introducing characters and developing them. As for the other arcs, while they border on some battles that were not entirely important to the main narrative, they still serve to progress the plot and develop the characters. The Dark Tournament arc was necessary to progress Toguro’s, Genkai’s, Kurama’s, Hiei’s and Kuwabara’s character arcs, all the while developing Yusuke and Keiko’s relationship and introducing new characters such as Gin as well. The next arc was all about developing the main villain, revealing more about the demon realm and the lore of the Hakusho universe, and finally closing in on Yusuke’s character, where his relationship with Keiko would come to fruition and he would meet his father and mature from a troublemaker into a person who is more responsible. The very last arc gives a final clause to the whole Anime: from the lore, to developing Yusuke and Keiko’s relationship, to developing the other characters, and so on and so forth. How is Yu Yu Hakusho a formaluic shonen where the plot barely progresses, when the plot does in fact progress and the characters are constantly developing? It makes zero sense what these people claim.
3. “The main characters are unsympathetic and slow-witted tough guys.”
Again, this is wrong and the Anime proves it. A tough guy would be someone along the lines of a Jojo character, Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken, a Dragon Ball character, or any other meathead you could find from any other battle shonen out there. By this same logic, every battle shonen character has to be a dull witted buffoon, right? Even when the central characters go to school, unlike most samurais and ninjas which plague the genre, people still proclaim that they are dull-witted tough guys. For argument’s sake, let us suppose that the four central characters from Yu Yu Hakusho are dull-witted tough guys. Ok, what is so bad about that? Are they one dimensional? Are they underdeveloped? Clearly not, since the Anime develops them thoroughly throughout the course of it’s run. The central characters are neither slow-witted nor are they though guys, and even if they are, they achieve what most other battle shonen characters fail to achieve: Character development.
Now to refute said argument, Hiei is a character who was abandoned and was shamed throughout the entirety of his life. Due to this, it only makes sense for his character to be a tough guy who lacks any form of emotion. Even then, he still does show some sympathy and emotion when talking about his sister, Yukina, as he still wants to protect her from all of the harm in the world. He not only does have very valid reasons as to why he is the way he is, but he is also sympathetic and far from the usual archetypical tough guy one would see in a battle shonen.
Yusuke and Kurama grew up in neighborhoods which were filled with crime. Yusuke had been abandoned by his father and his mother had been an alcoholic for years, so it only makes sense for him to turn out the way he did. He was also hated on and ridiculed by some of his teachers, so it is not that hard to see why he puts a tough guy act on. It’s also an act, and he isn’t really a tough guy so to speak. As for Kurama, he isn’t a tough guy at all, far from it actually.
4. “Yu Yu Hakusho has no tough female leads, only tough male leads.”
Yu Yu Hakusho was the first battle shonen to introduce strong female leads, which to this day barely any battle shonen does. Genkai is one of the toughest female characters one could find in a battle shonen. Mukuro is a girl as well, and she is stated to be the second toughest demon king in the franchise, and the second toughest character in the franchise overall, if not arguably the toughest. She beats up S rank demons fairly easily during the last arc, and comes close to winning the entire tournament all by herself. If this is not equal representation of males and females, then I really do not know what is. Of all the battle shonen one would pick on, people choose Yu Yu Hakusho to rant about the inequality between male and female characters. Even the females who exhibit no battle power whatsoever are still developed throughout the course of the Anime’s run, such is the case with Keiko and Botan, who are given time to develop and entire episodes dedicated to them.
Other fallacies people like to throw at Yu Yu Hakusho include it having too much plot armor and convenience at times, and that the audiovisuals have not aged well at all. Aside from the latter, which is an entirely subjective critique and does not matter at all when discussing factors which are truly important such as narrative and characters, Yu Yu Hakusho barely suffers from the issue of plot armor. Keep in mind that these people who accuse Yu Yu Hakusho of having plot convenience are the same people who think that the original Rurouni Kenshin is a good Anime, the one where Shishio is defeated by the power of plot armor and the one where Himura Kenshin pulls a victory right out of his pocket every time he needs to win a battle, even against foes who are shown to be able to outclass him at first.
Yu Yu Hakusho has no plot armor whatsoever. The reason Yusuke beats Toguro is because Toguro wanted for that to happen so that he could find someone worthy enough and fulfill his wish of death and end his suffering, not because Yusuke magically became stronger through the power of plot convenience. Other cast members are shown to lose at times throughout the tournament’s run, and that shows that the series does not reek of plot armor. Similarly, Sensui is defeated by Yusuke because Yusuke’s father, the demon king Raisen, willed that to happen, not because Yusuke magically became stronger due to plot armor. Moving on to the final arc, Yusuke is expected to win the battle against Yomi, especially after he had gained so many abilities and increased both his power and his abilities along the way. The series subverts audience expectations by showing Yomi winning and Yusuke losing, even though Yusuke had gained a lot of strength prior to that throughout the Anime’s run. How are any of the examples listed above plot armor? These are the opposite of plot armor.
The last and final point people like to bring up about Yu Yu Hakusho is that it suffers from power creep, unlike it’s successor Hunter x Hunter. Rarely is this statement made, but let us address it nonetheless. Yu Yu Hakusho started to suffer from the power creep issue around the end of the third arc – the Chapter Black arc – where Yusuke defeated Sensui after a hard fought battle through his awoken demon form. The writer fortunately enough ended the series at it’s high note, and the power creep ended just as it had fairly started, and Yusuke did not end up becoming the strongest character at the end of the day (Even though it was logical for him to be, since he is Raizen’s son and shares the same blood with him). The lore was fully explored by then, and the series did not need to introduce any more villains since the narrative ended there, and the epitome of power was shown. Some like to say that it wasn’t Togashi’s intention to end the series there, as he only ended it due to time constraints and pressure from Shonen Jump magazine. Regardless of the validity of that statement, the fact still remains that he ended it there, right when the power creep started to show itself.
After addressing all the fallacies thrown at Yu Yu Hakusho, I still cannot find one criticism which I think holds any validity to it. Moreover, the amount of hypocrisy coming from those who criticize it is unfathomable. The same people who call the villains one dimensional are the same people who like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, which contains one of the weakest villains to ever come out of the Anime medium, Father. The same people also criticize it for having plot armor yet find no contentions with Rurouni Kenshin’s plot armor and conveniences whatsoever.
Regarding the audiovisuals, they have aged well and I do not see any problem whatsoever in them. One listen to “Struggle of Sadness” should prove that the soundtrack is inherently well made and is still a great listen. The animation was consistent throughout all of the episodes, and has barely aged whatsoever.
That’s all I have to say about Yu Yu Hakusho. It is a series which deserves more recognition, as it is one of the very few good battle shonen out there, and all the fallacies both the elitists and the casuals throw at it are not real criticisms, more so than they are nitpicks with no evidence to be backed up with. Yu Yu Hakusho was and still is ahead of it’s time, both in narrative and in technicalities. It inspired many series which were to later come after it, such as Naruto and Bleach, and it does not deserve the harsh treatment that it receives nowadays.
What really set this show apart from other shounen action shows for me was the relatively intelligent use of dialogue by the main characters. I originally watched the uncut Funimation dub, which is definitely the translation I’d recommend (even if its probably not as true to the original dialog as some of the fansubs.) The humor in the show is less slapstick than most anime, and situational comedy plays a large part in the show, with some parts practically satirizing the action genre itself.
The story revolves around a junior high delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi becoming something called a “spirit detective” (although I’d really call him more of a fighter than a detective.) It is his job to take care of demons that escape into the living world and stop them from causing trouble. Yusuke takes his orders from a ancient mystical being named Koenma who also happens to look like a toddler and in addition to knowing the secrets of the universe is also “quite potty trained.”
Each character is portrayed uniquely, and contributes to the storyline. Yusuke manages to overcome many of the usual tough-guy stereotypes present in anime of this kind, coming across as witty and sarcastic as well as being a strongly independent fighter. Meanwhile, Kuwabara on the other hand actually embraces these same stereotypes to such a degree as to be hilarious as his “dumb punk” behavior is juxtaposed against such things as his love for kittens, or his “romantic” attempts toward Yukina.
The animation is really nothing special, even when compared to other anime released around the same time period. There are a lot of still and scrolling shots and characters are drawn relatively simply. The action scenes are somewhat lacking in visual effects as well, however what they lack in animation quality they more than make up in style. Each fight is characterized by the combatants unique personalities and fighting methods.
The soundtrack is nothing to write home about either, being somewhat repetitive and lacking in originality. Then again, clever musical arrangement is not something I have come to expect from shounen programming anyway. So I’ll admit that as far as audio and visual effects go, Yu Yu Hakusho is pretty mediocre. If you require stunning realism and breathtaking artwork, I would definitely not recommend this show for you. Since I tend to place more emphasis on story and characterization, these obvious shortcomings did not bother me as much.
So I’d say this show was definitely enjoyable, even to someone like me who tends to lack appreciation for less serious anime. While light in tone and not exactly intellectually stimulating, Yu Yu Hakusho manages to deliver an engaging story with a large dosage of clever humor as well. Certainly a decent show, especially if you enjoy classic early 90’s style anime action.
1: Kenpuu Denki Berserk
MAL Score: 8.51
Born from the corpse of his mother, a young mercenary known only as Guts embraces the battlefield as his only means of survival. Day in and day out, putting his life on the line just to make enough to get by, he moves from one bloodshed to the next.
After a run-in with the Band of the Hawk, a formidable troop of mercenaries, Guts is recruited by their charismatic leader Griffith, nicknamed the “White Hawk.” As he quickly climbed the ranks in order to become the head of the offensive faction, Guts proves to be a mighty addition to Griffith’s force, taking Midland by storm. However, while the band’s quest for recognition continues, Guts slowly realizes that the world is not as black-and-white as he once assumed.
Set in the medieval era, Kenpuu Denki Berserk is a dark, gritty tale that follows one man’s struggle to find his own path, while supporting another’s lust for power, and the unimaginable tragedy that begins to turn the wheels of fate.
But the main elements, the magic that made the epic manga what it is are all present in the animated version. Guts, The Black Swordsman, is still the hapless avenger wandering in search for revenge and peace of mind. The world in which the story is set is still that medieval realm right down to the brilliant castles with their greedy landlords, the disadvantaged common folk, and the never-ending wars. And, perhaps most importantly along with the characters, the story is still the same tragedy of fate, friendship and love.
Perhaps one point of criticism for some could be the outdated artstyle. Having aired more than ten years ago, the art and animation will inevitably seem rough and simple for those (like me) who’ve discovered anime rather recently, through recent shows with more high-tech appearance. Upon closer look, however, I’d say that instead of a shortcoming, Berserk’s old-school animation works exactly in the shows favor. The story is, after all, rough by nature and set in an age long gone, in which case the ancient animation actually accentuates the overall mood quite nicely. I wonder if the series’s impact would’ve been the same had it been done in the 2000s, closer to this day. I dare doubt it.
An avid listener of music though I am, I rarely pay much attention to the tunes played in anime. But whereas most shows fail to catch my admiration with their musical score, Berserk did so in spades. Far more than once I found myself being chilled to the bone as the horror scenes rolled in, aided by terrifyingly fitting ominous sounds without which the anime’s horror elements would’ve lacked greatly. In comparison, the joyful tunes of bonfire festivals, the musical elegance of the upper class’s dances, and the emotional pieces of the more waffy scenes all help to highlight the sentiment of each situation. 10/10 score for this department; a true rarity given by me.
One might wonder why I’ve so far mostly talked about aspects many would consider minor in comparison to an anime’s story and characters. Well for one, both animation and music contribute so much to the show’s overall score that there’s nothing minor about them in this instance. As for the other reason, if I’d start to go on detailing bit by bit what makes the story and characters of Berserk so unfathomably excellent, we’d all soon be looking at a review of more than 10,000 words. And since reading all of it would be that much more away from your Berserk-watching (or reading) time, I’m going to keep it simple. Just imagine a story so compelling and layered you’ll truly find yourself gasping at times, a cast of characters so real you actually start to care for them though they don’t even exist, and a high-fantasy medieval world so immersing you can almost feel the reality around you blur away.
But an adaptation from a manga as this is, there’s no way to escape the shadow of the original work. An no matter how excellent an anime this is even forgetting the manga, fact of the matter is that Berserk is the greatest MANGA ever made, and the anime is just a colorful side-kick next to it. At the beginning of my review I said the anime loses to the manga in nothing but length and detail. True. But ponder on this: the anime is one of 25 normal length (a bit over 20 minutes) episodes. The manga is one of over 300 and still going on chapters. The conclusion being, Berserk anime loses A LOT to the manga in length and detail. I didn’t even care to count all the scenes an details of the original work that didn’t exist in the anime, and now as I’m doing so for the sake of writing this review, I can’t help but note that, again, A LOT is lost when such a number of details that helped understanding the characters in the manga, for example, are nowhere to be seen in the anime. To refrain from writing a novel-length review, again, let’s just say that even though Berserk manga had nothing but text and black and white drawings to reach me, I never felt nearly as immersed by the anime as I did by the original.
Be that as it may, Berserk is truly one to deserve the title “epic” in the history of anime. It is an obligatory watch for anyone who likes Japanese animation. It is a classic right there among Evangelion, Miyazaki’s works, or any other anime one might deem ageless and undying. It is right there among them, shining in their midst as the bloodiest gem of them all.
One of those people is a young man called Guts, who we find introduced as The Black Swordsman. Along the way we’ll find out how he came to be a warrior more powerful than any other human, with death more than just nipping at his heels from his very birth. He isn’t merely your average war-torn soul—he embodies the desire to live on the battlefield, choosing to relentlessly face his fate head on and swinging a sword that might as well be a tombstone as tall as a man. His dogged ferocity endears Griffith, compelling him to draw Guts into the Band of the Hawk. Here he also meets Caska, a dark and fiery-tempered woman second only to Griffith in terms of skill and leadership; second to none in terms of honor and loyalty. And thus our tale truly begins.
It is a story about a world full of evil and brutality, of dreams and despair, where people struggle to find themselves in the midst of it all and define the meaning of their existence. Friendship and love are slow to come, but when it’s there it’ll bring tears to your eyes, for the relationships forged in Berserk are more meaningful than almost any you’ll find in anime.
You will soon learn that there are no limits to Griffith’s ambition, nor to his charisma. A leader that seems to grace his era as if stepped right out of a painting, his Band of the Hawk serves him faithfully, offering their own hopes and aspirations to his “bonfire of dreams”—for simply being near him seems to promise glory. He is also in possession of a strange relic—an egg-like pendant bearing ominous notions…
Berserk is not for the faint of heart (or the very young), brimming with violent battles and head-to-head confrontations resulting in dismemberment, bodies sliced entirely in two, blood and entrails by the bucketload, and some very intense sexuality including rape and molestation.
The quality of the animation here varies somewhat from time to time, but it is always good enough, and frankly needs no real mention because it is so overshadowed by every other quality here. That said, there are some pretty stunning moments of gorgeous animation—particularly during the action scenes—but most will likely think it looks somewhat bland by today’s standards. I urge you not to let this deter you.
I’ll make note of the music, since that is certainly one of the most enjoyable things about Berserk. Some viewers might recognize Hirasawa Susumu’s very distinguished sound from other anime like Paranoia Agent and Paprika, and it is all extremely memorable. You will find yourself whistling along when “Forces” chimes in, and various other tunes are used to delightful effect, heightening the emotional impact of already emotional scenes.
Berserk’s finale is one of the most notoriously shocking cliffhanger endings in anime history. The story arc covered by the anime is known as the “Golden Age” of Miura’s manga, encompassed by volumes 4-13. One might even advise a newcomer to skip the first episode (a flash-forward that takes place beyond the ending) and save it to watch after the 25th, but this might not even be necessary—anyone who is truly drawn into this tale will feel compelled to read the manga afterward. This is such a layered and powerful story, filled with so much ugliness and beauty, that you will almost inevitably be drawn in. Berserk is a true classic.
There are three major themes that mark this series: (1) MEDIEVAL, (2) GORE, and (3) PHILOSOPHY.
This is why I think this is a great series: this combination of themes, which is already rare in anime, are very well incorporated together as a complete story.
The (1) MEDIEVAL theme brings the setting of the story. creating an atmosphere where the gore and philosophy can develop together. This also sets the pace of the story based on the technological circumstances of medieval culture. The slow nature of this large-scale medieval story allows enough time to unravel the deep characters.
The (2) GORE theme accents the philosophy, reinforcing characters and foreshadowing the character progression by their behaviour in battle. This is a real treat to see the battle behaviour contrasting with the respective characters you’ve watched develop (Most notably the main protagonist).
The (3) PHILOSOPHY theme is a major feature to the characterization in the main characters. The characters and their actions are defined by their varied internal philosophies. With a very distinct difference in character philosophies and a heavy story focus on them, central story events are marked by relationships between these philosophies.
SOUND: At first glance, the soundtrack seems to be lacking with only 11 songs (Including intro and outro). However, the placement and feeling (And sometimes repetition) of these soundtracks is well done, giving the story great fluidity and emotional propulsion. Voice acting and sound effects are well done, even on dub. Voice acting most notably reflects the characters well, save for some of the demons.
ART: A rough art technique is used in this series, with unique design. Both of these accent the themes by reinforcing and elevating the serious nature of this anime (As opposed to the chibi art design). At times there is an over usage of scrolling single pictures in place of animation, which works as both an advantage and disadvantage. The advantage: it is reflective of the pacing of the anime. The disadvantage: it can be too slow (Especially in the beginning when the story is slower).
STORY, CHARACTER: Probably the greatest strength of this anime are it’s story and characters. The story and characters grow simultaneously making the world of Berserk very lively. Most of the typical anime cliches are steered clear of here (with the exception of one blatant one), which really improved the effectiveness of the story and characters. With a unique and lively world, Berserk captures a lot of realism for an anime.
OVERALL, ENJOYMENT: This is definitely not a lighthearted anime. It can be embraced to the extreme of obsession (Like me) because of the interesting, deep perspectives that operate in the story. The good development quality only makes it further enjoyable. But this anime is truly for a certain crowd because of its extremely deep nature and depictions of extreme brutality. This is going to be a ‘hate it or love it’ sort of anime.
(Updated August 2008: Touched everything up a bit; explanations should be clearer now. =] Thanks for all the positive feedback.)
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Kenpuu Denki Berserk
3. Serial Experiments Lain
5. Gakkou no Kaidan
6. Gensoumaden Saiyuuki
7. Jigoku Sensei Nube
8. Petshop of Horrors
9. Ayashi no Ceres
10. GS Mikami
11. Boogiepop wa Warawanai
12. Senkaiden Houshin Engi
13. Aa! Megami-sama!: Chichaitte Koto wa Benri da ne
14. Gegege no Kitarou (1996)
15. Bakuretsu Hunters
17. Haunted Junction
18. Warau Salesman
19. Gregory Horror Show: The Second Guest
20. Gregory Horror Show
21. Master Mosquiton ’99
22. Shin Megami Tensei Devil Children
24. Gregory Horror Show: The Last Train
25. Saint Luminous Jogakuin
26. Chiisana Obake: Acchi, Kocchi, Socchi
27. Nessa no Haou Gandalla
28. Alexander Senki