They’re the best Anime that 1996 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Alps no Shoujo Heidi: Heidi to Clara-hen, X/1999, Chocchan Monogatari, and more!
5: Alps no Shoujo Heidi: Heidi to Clara-hen
Japanese: アルプスの少女ハイジ ハイジとクララ編
MAL Score: 6.56
Condensed version of the second half of the TV series.
English: X – The Movie
Japanese: エックス, X/1999
MAL Score: 6.58
At the millennial edge, the concluding battle for humanity’s future is staged. Kamui Shirou’s destiny has been decided as he returns to Tokyo to face his ultimate challenge. The Dragon of Heaven, defenders of the Earth, stand ready to protect the world from the Dragon of Earth, the seven angels of legend, who embrace the devastation of the planet to bring about its purification. Now Kamui must decide which side to fight for although he finds the idea utterly unappealing. It isn’t until realizing that his two childhood friends, Fuma and Kotori Monou, are in grievous peril that Kamui decides to step into his fated position in the climactic struggle of the Year of Destiny: 1999.
It’s CLAMP, so it’s pretty. This is a given. But that’s about all it has going for it when it comes to technical merit.
Someone’s head gets cut off practically every ten minutes (or at least dies in some gruesome way). They fit the deaths of most of the cast into the movie. Someone should turn it into a drinking game.
I think my mother summed it up best: "Who are these people and why did they just kill each other? It looked like it was important for some reason."
How to define what is a good anime? You consider the story and its development as a main point, the characters’ originality and description, the animation and the drawing (although this can be an subjective point of view) and the sound as a whole – the voice acting and the background music.
The story in this movie, as well as in the series can be viewed only as an average and nothing new, even if we consider that this is an anime from 1996. The (un)conventional view of the ever-going fight between the good and the evil, which is never purely black and white. The moral and the reasons for choosing on one side or the other. The duality of people’s choices and the world that we live in. All of these points are represented clearly, though not in a very original way.
The actual development of the story is really different from the one in the TV series, but that’s understandable considering the time frame. The story is taking a faster way of developing, it’s has more blood-shed, and it’s full of conflicts between the actors. And that is about all that is. It looks like it is just one big fight and it’s background is depicted in a really hasty manner.
Considering the large number of characters, there practically wasn’t any time to tell each of their stories, even in the amount that it was done in a 26 episode series. You get the feeling that all that they’re are about is filling up the story with action time and fights of the type everyone vs. everyone. And besides the genders and different fighting styles, there aren’t many differences between the characters. So you ask why do you need 7 vs 7? Is 7 really a number that magical? It could’ve been done with just the main characters and the story would’ve been liberated of the ever-repeating fights that, of course, lead to the culmination in the last 10 minutes. Which is a fight with lots of blood shed, as well.
The art is really good. From the drawing of the characters to the backgrounds and scenery, it’s obvious that a lot of time and affection has been spent on it. The fights, including all the effects from sword slashing to sakura leaves flying around, are really a high point. The only thing that can be considered is the originality and the personal taste of the viewer.
The background music is eerie throughout the movie and wonderfully backing up the blood-shed and the fights. But it gives an even darker light to the whole story and to the enjoyment of it all.
So considering all this and hoping to stay objective to the end, my conclusion will be that this is an average version of a potentially great anime. And that is all.
Also be warned that if you are planning to watch X, you should /not/ watch it as someone who has never /read/ X. You should read X first, then watch the movie. Otherwise you will not be able to understand or appreciate it at all. This review is, by the way, written with the assumption that you /have/ read X – but never fear, for there are very few actual spoilers for the manga and you may still read this review even if you haven’t read X. Now, let us get on to the actual review…
The majority of you are angry that X the Movie doesn’t follow X. But that’s because the majority of you are looking at the movie from the perspective of people who have read all eighteen volumes. You see, when I first started watching the movie, I went into it angry. I was ready to point out all the flaws I could possibly find.
“No! No no no no no! Seishirou, Subaru, what are you doing!”
“Subaru, you don’t walk around in shifuku! I think the animators confused you with Hokuto. Who has been dead for nearly a decade by this point so I don’t know how they could confuse you with her…actually…”
“/No. What are you doing. Stop it. You’re both idiots/.”
“No no no no no no noooo. Subaru, that is not your wish. And Seishirou, you’re just being downright rude. And stupid. Have I mentioned how stupid I think the two of you are?”
“Whoa they turned into dragons!”
~incomprehensible complaining, sobbing, raging ten minutes into the movie~
“W-where is Kakyou?! Who is this brat?”
“Whoa Yuzuriha, you’re pretty…forceful. I remember you being much bubblier and friendlier in the manga!”
“Hey, Kusanagi. /What happened to you/. When did you become such a horrid brute?”
“/What happened to your relationship with Yuzuriha/?!”
“Well Fuuma…you’re just going on a rampage, aren’t you…”
Half way through the movie, I realized something. And started laughing.
X the Movie was released in 1996; by that time, the X manga was only up to about eight volumes. CLAMP is not about to spoil all their developments in a movie. How Subaru and Seishirou’s relationship resolves is one of the reasons a majority of people read X – how do you get that out of the way? /Especially/ since we don’t learn how their relationship ends until, oh, over five years later! The sensible way is to kill them off ten minutes into the movie, of course. Can’t get your hopes up too much, can we? While my heart aches, I can’t blame the directors or CLAMP since it was a rather grandiose move in order to keep X’s sixteenth volume a complete and, I might add, devastating surprise.
Kusanagi is portrayed as a bastard, not because he is one, but because they can’t show what sort of relationship Kusanagi and Yuzuriha have later on. That would be spoiling it! As for Kakyou – I don’t think he was even introduced by the eighth volume, so they simply had to replace him with someone else. To be fair, whoever they replaced him with (I apologize, I already forgot his name, yes I know I’m horrible) looked quite similar to Kakyou. Another red herring, if I may say.
So, basically, X the Movie is one gigantic troll.
Distance yourself from X and you can see it. Even I, who loathe it when manga are taken and dissected into pieces and consequently abridged for anime format, managed to become objective and viewed X as simply…something separate from its manga counterpart. If you so desire to see it as such, you could even call X the Movie a really long trailer for X – or a “what could have been” version of X. You could even see it as a parody, if you want. A really bloody, messy parody.
That aside, X the Movie is truly breathtaking. The art is beautiful. Here are the /real/ CLAMP characters – not the stiff, and, quite blatantly, often ugly art of the television series. The animation is wonderfully done and fluid. Now if only an anime series – true to the manga – could be released with this sort of quality! The character designs are completely and utterly true to their original counterparts. Seishirou is dashing as usual, Subaru is beautiful, Arashi is utterly gorgeous, Yuzuriha is adorable, Hinoto is stunning. I’d go into the other characters but that would take too long – I’m simply mentioning the ones that struck me with awe. The soundtrack is also quite solid; I can’t remember having any complaints about it. In addition, the seiyuu were quite fitting for all their characters.
The visuals are very dark and mystical, as is fitting for X. Be warned, for there is…quite a bit of gore in X. In the television series, there was almost absolutely no blood, which was one of the major things that irritated me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a fan of gore at all. But X is filled with blood and guts and bones and pretty darn painful deaths, and if you’re planning to censor that, why make an anime series at all? The movie, written and released before the anime series, makes up for that.
Those of you who, despite my warnings, will be going on to watch X the Movie (and have made it this far into my review) without reading X the manga must be warned – the characterization in the manga is different. The character development is different. The events displayed in the movie either did not occur or are not in chronological order. As I stated earlier – it is best if you read X before you watch the movie. Distance yourself. Know the characters. Know who they are. Watch, watch without getting angry – watch it the “right way”, and you will enjoy it.
I know I did. I watched it and I don’t regret it in the slightest. I might even watch it again, if only for that beautiful art.
3: Chocchan Monogatari
MAL Score: 6.65
This feature length film is based on autobiography of Cho “Chocchan” Kuroyanagi, who is better known as the mother of an actress Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.
The story starts in pre-World War 2 Japan when Chocchan marries violinist despite the objection of both of their families. They live in poverty, have three children and are happy together. Any misfortune they face with a smile. But new obstacle for their happiness comes when the war breaks out and Chocchan’s husband must leave for the front…
Anime is gorgeous. Beautiful and sad story about the war, about the hope, about the mother’s love. I used to cry when I saw all power of woman’s feelings.
Though the theme is serious, however, to watch this story will be interesting both for children and teenagers and adults.
2: Ihatov Gensou: Kenji no Haru
English: Spring and Chaos
Japanese: イーハトーブ幻想 Kenjiの春
MAL Score: 7.19
A unique biographical sketch of the life of the great modern Japanese poet Kenji Miyazawa, Spring and Chaos is a highly stylized and intense film that draws on Miyazawa’s writing techniques to tell his life story. Miyazawa often used animals as the main characters in his stories and poems, and it is this technique that allows director Shoji Kawamori to recreate Miyazawa’s fanciful land of Ihatov and use it as the backdrop for Miyazawa’s life. Beautiful and affecting, Spring and Chaos is a fitting tribute to one of Japan’s greatest writers.
(Source: Rotten Tomatoes)
Spring and Chaos is a short parable on Kenji Miyazawa’s life as an adult, directed by Shoji Kawamori of Macross and Escaflowne fame. Of course, one cannot expect a comprehensive life account in less than an hour’s time—thankfully, the movie doesn’t attempt that. Colorful and deliberately surreal, it instead relays the atmosphere of Miyazawa’s works and the circumstances of their creation, the physical and emotional turmoil he was going through in his short life, and his unique and vivid vision of the world around him, doing so in short and poignant glimpses that tell us exactly as much as we need to know to understand his personality. Surrounded by misfortune, sadness, and misunderstanding, Miyazawa’s soul shone through in his unrelenting dedication to comprehending the world and enriching the lives of others back when almost nobody—including most of his family members—could realize the extent of his talent, strength of character, and self-sacrifice.
The movie quite fittingly gives us a good taste of Miyazawa’s writing and worldview by presenting his life as a visual poem where characters are portrayed as cats—and does so by capturing the very essence of poetry in all of its splendor without focusing too much on the worldly details; in a sense, taking an approach almost exactly inverse of the over-represented slice-of-life genre. Call it an “essence of life”: the genre where you say little to tell a lot. And yes, in its relatively short runtime it tells quite enough to emotionally overwhelm—just like good poetry should.
Many of you know how it feels to rewatch something you first saw many years ago. More often than not you fail to recapture that first-time experience. But Spring and Chaos is one of those very rare pieces of art that doesn’t only stand the test of time—it actually becomes better on a subsequent watch. I was just under 20 when I first saw it, and while it certainly did seem inspired and engaging at the time, I couldn’t say I was moved very much. But now I’m 30, and it completely wrecks me. Perhaps, it’s just that it’s easier to empathize as you grow older, or maybe it’s because I’ve grown to appreciate poetry more since my teenage years. I don’t know, but it’s hard to even write this simple review without choking up. So many scenes in Spring and Chaos are unbelievably powerful despite the narrative subtlety. This is especially prominent in the second half, considering the movie has very little actual dialogue and relies predominantly on visual storytelling. All in all a mark of an outstanding work that transcends its medium and succeeds at its ultimate task: to introduce the viewer to the marvelous world of Kenji Miyazawa. The lamp is lost, its light forever preserved. Sleep well, Kenji-san.
This movie really isn’t for everyone, the whole idea of the story is somewhat vague if you try to really understand it. But, in no less does that take away from the whole experience. I truly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a Miyazaki film or a Otomo film.
I do say though with heart, the main character, Kenji, left me to wonder a lot of things about life and its surroundings. This movie can teach you something.
The main character Kenji Miyazawa is a bit of an oddball,his idealistic view of life and carefree attitude is a point of contention between him and his father and a source of amusement among children.He’s immature while at the same time convincing in his lead role.
I really like the animation,the drawing was done with great detail,the like of which is rarely seen among today CGI animation.
Overall not an anime everyone will be able to appreciate but i found it enjoyable non the less.
1: Shin Kimagure Orange☆Road: Soshite, Ano Natsu no Hajimari
Japanese: 新きまぐれオレンジ☆ロード ～ そして、あの夏のはじまり
MAL Score: 7.42
It’s been several years and Kyosuke Kasuga is now 19. A mysterious phone call warns him of oncoming cars but he doesn’t listen. Ironically, he gets hit by a car and because of his telepathic abilities, gets sent three years into the future. His 22 year old future self is now a photographer who is lost in Bosnia and believed to be dead. Kyosuke must find his 22 year old future self and restore himself, the 19 year old, to his correct time. Along the way he reunites with Hikaru who is now a professional and famous dancer. Madoka is also there, distraught over both Kyosuke, the 22 year old, going missing in Bosnia and Kyosuke, the 19 year old, getting hit by a car.
Have to admit that the experience wasn’t as good as the first time. Shin KOR gives you a semi-old feel, so as a person exposed to post-AD2000 animations, it doesn’t really give you a full retro feel or a new feel. Once you get used to HD quality anime, you’ll need to take some time to get accustomed to Shin KOR artwork. Nevertheless, I kinda liked the artwork. It has lost a bit of the original appeal, but the change in artwork makes it easier for later generations to appreciate Orange Road.
Before I start, just a warning that I may reveal some spoilers subtlely, but I try not to (as for all my other reviews soon to come).
My ratings (y’know like 9 for story, 7 for art, etc) are kinda biased for Shin KOR because I simply love KOR too much lol. But pretty much this was the kind of rating I’d give when I watched it 5 years ago, or perhaps better. I’d highly recommend this to everyone who watched and liked Kimagure Orange Road (TV/OVA) because it is sort of an ending to the story. One reason I liked Shin KOR was because I could relate with the characters and I know what happened in the TV/OVA/MOVIE.
The story was pretty well-made. It followed the KOR series chronologically and it put a stop to the story itself. The feel and direction was very different from the original though. The kind of experience you’d get is different from KOR, and the climaxing points are emphasised on different areas.
Shin KOR is slightly aimed at a more mature audience I rkn, with many suggestive sexual content. Pretty mild but enough to feel that, hey the characters are already adults. I didn’t quite like the mature direction it was heading to, but it was still alright. I loved the idea about time travel though, and how it was pieced together. It kinda came to me that “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakera Shoujo?sp)” was inspired by orange road. The romance was awesome and refreshing, which is what I love about KOR.
The artwork is similar to 1990+ animations. Colours used give you a warm feeling, and brings out the landscape really well.
The OST is really nice. I was shocked that it’s by Yuki Kajiura because it’s not her usual kind of ‘opera-sensation’ music. I think this was one of her earliest works in Anime. The music brought life to the movie. In fact my favourite part of the movie was the piano pieces played in the movie.
Character development wasn’t very much present, because the foundations were still based on the TV series. But really, the characters have grown much in this movie. It was really fun to see how they become like. The change was rather great (inclusive of the character design). Quite a lot of dialogue between characters, but the feelings of the characters were well portrayed. It touched me.
Overall it’s an enjoyable movie for me on Christmas Day. I’m starting to miss KOR. Maybe I’ll continue with the manga. KOR really made me enjoy my memories so much.
One character from the OVAs appears in the movie, so you may want to watch the OVAs first to learn who the hell the guy is. I thought he seemed out of character, though; he was hitting on Madoka as if he never came to his big realization.
The plot feels kinda aimless once Kyosuke gets sent to the future. He’s confused, he doesn’t know what to do or where to go… All he can do is give us a tour of the future to show us the after story. Once the solution is presented… Well, he didn’t have to work for it at all. It gets you feeling like there won’t even be a climax, but then there’s sort of one shortly after.
The details in the art and animation made it look more like a movie than the first movie. It was still pretty average, not like it was so incredibly smooth that it stands out. I guess you could say it was about as good as any other anime movie based on a series. Y’know, stuff like Spirited Away is on another level.
The characters have smaller eyes than before and generally look older and a little more modern. One point I found odd was the size difference between Kyosuke age 19 and 22. It was like comparing a teen to an adult… but they were both adults. It would be sort of unusual for a person to still be growing at that age…
Yusaku is still missing in action. I don’t remember what happened to him in the series at all… like he just faded away at some point. Would Hikaru accept him if he managed to directly tell her how he feels? This feels like one loose end that could possibly end that love triangle once and for all.
Anyhow, it was a pretty decent movie. It wasn’t very exciting or whatever and it didn’t really have me guessing what would happen next since they introduced the solution to the problem pretty early in the movie. Despite that, I still found it interesting, though.
It continues to show how he envisioned the characters from the original Manga, now nineteen, would have moved on with their lives through university. If you watched the first movie, you might feel better for the characters after watching this. Maybe it was Tereda’s way of trying to redeem himself after the poor reception of the first movie. I guess you could also consider this movie fan service for those who wanted a more complete closure to the relationships.
However, it gets quite weird with the supernatural powers back in and the way they’re used just feels silly as usual.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Shin Kimagure Orange☆Road: Soshite, Ano Natsu no Hajimari
2. Ihatov Gensou: Kenji no Haru
3. Chocchan Monogatari
5. Alps no Shoujo Heidi: Heidi to Clara-hen