They’re the best Anime that 2016 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Gantz:O, Orange: Mirai, KanColle Movie, and more!
MAL Score: 7.43
Death does not have to be the end; one can live again, but only through beating the game posed by the black ball called Gantz.
On his way home to celebrate his younger brother’s birthday, brave and kind-hearted student named Masaru Katou is stabbed to death. He awakes in a small room with a cityscape view in the heart of Tokyo—and he is not alone. To his surprise, it is not the afterlife, but the waiting room for a high stakes game with their lives on the line. Before he has the chance to process the situation, Masaru is handed a gun and teleported into the center of Osaka to carry out one simple task: eliminate any alien on sight.
Accompanied by the aged Yoshikazu Suzuki, the stunning idol Reika Shimohira, and the cold but experienced Jouichirou Nishi, Masaru must overcome his fears in order to survive the game and return home to his waiting brother.
While Gantz O follows the Osaka Arc it makes some big changes, ones you can see the reason for and some you can’t.
Rated at PG12 in Japan, the drug abusing Kyo Hanaki and Rapist Kazuo Kuwabara are absent, understandable.
Less understandable is that most of the Tokyo team are abscent too, it’s faster to say the only ones shown are Kurono, Suzuki, Reika, Nishi & Kato….I’m so sad that Host Samurai was absent.
The movie also incorporates an alternative end to the Oni Arc that starts the film off, which was so awesome it gave me goosebumps.
The CGI is amazing and despite it being a PG12 it is still full of gore.
This adaptation of the Osaka Arc is pretty good, despite the changes and overall it’s a must watch for any Gantz manga fans.
Gantz:O is a CGI adaptation of a manga that was an extremely enjoyable piece of work. The CGI was consistent and beautiful, the fight scenes were amazing, and the makers stayed true to the storyline to an extent, which is excellent as well. The gore was something that I had worried about since this movie is PG12, but it was very vivid for a PG12 rated film, and personally it was satisfying enough for me.
There are some changes to the characters and storyline which were a little disappointing, but to be honest those changes were understandable, and it didn’t ruin the experience at all. Some of the big changes that came to my attention was,
1. The absence of several Tokyo and Osaka team members, including some members who had amazing battle scenes in the manga.
2. Katou’s stance in the arc; in the original, he has already experienced battles against aliens, but in this movie he’s shown to be a newbie, oblivious to the rules and weapons of Gantz.
3. An altertative ending to the Oni alien arc and Osaka arc.
Overall these changes are understandable because this movie is obviously for newcomers as well as fans, and if they had put all the characters in a 96 minute movie Gantz:O would’ve become a extremely rushed movie. Despite having these restrictions, the changes managed to fit in very smooth with the entire atmosphere of the Osaka arc, which is one of the reasons I give this movie such a high rating.
In conclusion Gantz:O is a film that you simply need to watch if you’re a fan of the original work, and even if you aren’t, it’s worth the watch with a solid story, outstanding graphics and fluid fight scenes.
The story makes some drastic changes from the manga, which by themselves wouldn’t make it bad, but together make the Osaka Arc a much simpler and more boring experience (You can feel this in particular during the first half of the movie). The new ending is the only change I think affected the movie positively. Without spoilers, I’d say that while it wouldn’t have had sense in the manga, it makes a perfect fit for the narrative flow of the movie.
I think the most disappointing part of the film was the music. The trailer had this really strong theme going on, but it was absent from the movie except from the credits, and all the music was pretty much the same “dramatic eleventh hour track”.
Anyway, I personally enjoyed the movie, but upon thinking about it for a while, I realized it had some very weak points. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who’s never heard of Gantz, but if you want to see the Nurarihyon fight animated, or at the very least have seen some of Gantz and liked it, I say go for it.
4: Orange: Mirai
Japanese: orange －未来－
MAL Score: 7.44
Twenty-six-year-old Hiroto Suwa; his wife, Naho; and their old high school classmates—Takako Chino, Azusa Murasaka, and Saku Hagita—visit Mt. Koubou to view the cherry blossoms together. While watching the setting sun, they reminisce about Kakeru Naruse, their friend who died 10 years ago. Mourning for him, they decide to visit Kakeru’s old home, where they learn the secret of his death from his grandmother.
Filled with regret, Suwa and his friends decide to write letters to their 16-year-old past selves to set their hearts at rest. With the knowledge contained in the letter from his future self, 16-year-old Suwa has the chance to rewrite the future. What choices will he make? What will happen in this new future?
This review contains spoilers from the original orange:
So the movie starts off with a 38 MINUTE RECAP OF ORANGE! You could have condensed this movie into a twenty minute OVA and it would have been the same thing!
So forty minutes into this amazingly interesting story, an original story begins about the future where kakeru and Naho end up together. Which sounds great but of course we aren’t going to start the original story that way NO! WE ARE GOING TO START IT WITH THE IMPOSSIBLE PSEUDO-SCIENCE OF THE TIME TRAVELING LETTERS. Yeah remember the black hole Bermuda triangle bit, that everyone agrees is one of the worst plot holes in any anime ever. Lets put emphasis on that for five minutes.
After that there is only 15 minutes left in this movie, there is no way in hell they could possibly make it original or good at this point. And I was right the next 15 minutes is just how much it sucks that Suwa didn’t end up with Naho.
And that’s the entire movie. I gained nothing from it, and I only hope no one else has to endure the hell I have.
As a fan of the original series, with Suwa being my favorite character, this movie was quite the letdown.
What bothered me the most weren’t the constant recaps of the anime (despite them being completely skippable), but the insight we got into Suwa’s route with Naho.
At some point in the movie, Suwa is reflecting on his actions and says that he pretty much exploited Naho when she was vulnerable and that’s the reason the two ended up together. His friends try to snap him out of it by saying he’s a nice person and that she fell for him naturally. Ok, I’ll take it (not a very good reason though)… Then by the end of the movie we see the two of them waking up from the “dream” we just watched. Not only do they seem distant from each other and sad, but Naho just dreamt she had a child with Kakeru, and that she was happy with that… which pretty much confirms what he was saying earlier. Had Kakeru been alive, none of it would’ve happened. Ouch.
Having that route ruined, at least I’ll get to see Suwa move on in the timeline where Kakeru is saved, I thought! Nope.
Suwa’s idea of happiness there is seeing Naho and Kakeru together… well, okay. But what about YOUR happiness? He’s still alone 10 years later… and is smiling at how close Naho and Kakeru are… talk about NTR.
The best part of the movie was seeing Hagita and Azu finally get together, that was fun.
Animation and sound were pretty much identical to the anime’s, not much to say there.
The scene where they’re watching the sunset together was nice too, but I consider everything else not worth watching.
Orange is a series where time travel is a predominant part of the plot. It allows for speculation and creates an overall very emotional watch in the form of regret and changing the future to make a better outcome. While the plot device causes holes, it works well to create tension and suspence if you can get passed it.
The production quality of Orange: Mirai is as expected. A familiar yet, unique art style that works well with the characters and environments. The camera is superb once again with great angles and sometimes incredible shots! The character designs are the same as before and there are a few times when there are slightly lower quality facial features, just like the show. But I digress, the animation was once again, consistent and of high quality. The environments are also truly beautiful and immersive, one of the highlights of this film and the show.
The characters have already been well developed at this point and the film continues to do so even more up until the end where we get to see what we wanted the whole time. Everything is tied in a great big knot by the end of Orange: Mirai which I am happy about. The anime ending is good and it works, but the ending here truly gives us a great sense of satisfaction and tear inducing happiness.
In conclusion, this is well worth the watch if you are a fan of the series or if you are hungering for an even better continuation with a statisfactory ending. The one gigantic thing I took away from this.. is a quote.
“Hanging in there, living, is the toughest thing there is.”
3: KanColle Movie
English: Fleet Girls Collection KanColle Movie Sequence
Japanese: 劇場版 艦これ
MAL Score: 7.51
The movie starts off after the events of Episode 3, when Kisaragi had sunk. The Mikawa Fleet (Furutaka, Aoba, Kako, Kinugasa and Tenryuu) are in the middle of Night Battle. Choukai uses Searchlight and gets medium damage, but they win in the end. A New Fleet Girl gets “dropped”, emerging from the sea. It is Kisaragi. Kisaragi is brought back to the temporary base in Solomon Islands, but she is suffering from PTSD and has amnesia, unable to remember anyone from back in the anime, excluding Mutsuki…
now I’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible but there may be some spoilers so be careful.
So the movie takes place at the Iron Bottom Sound and Fubuki and the gang led by Nagato (Teitoku is somewhere else) have to investigate the strange crimson sea of the iron bottom sound. Basically it’s the battles of Solomon.
The movie also reveals secrets of the kanmusu and the abyssals and their relationship. They even show how drops work with the drop of a certain kanmusu after a battle. The movie also shows why Fubuki is so important even though in actual history, she didn’t really do anything great.
The animation was great with many of the new Kanmusu (Chokai, Tenryuu, Kako, Furutaka, Kinugasa, Aoba) having good parts in the action. Ships that didn’t have much time to shine in action during the anime like Yuudachi and Yamato each had some great action scenes as well. There is also more much less of the Cg and everyone moved like how you expected them to move. Compared to the anime the action is much more fluid with many awesome scenes.
Many different Kanmusu have made cameos and if you listened carefully you could here them talking in the background in some scenes.
Now the story itself might be met with mixed reviews. I won’t say anything about it but some people might not like certain events. The story is mainly quite serious with only bits of slice of life. I personally found the story to be quite interesting as it helped with concluding Fubuki’s story.
Overall it was quite an enjoyable experience and I can safely recommend the movie to anyone who likes Kancolle. I also recommend people who didn’t like the anime to watch this as it fixes a lot of problems the anime had.
Kantai Collection’s anime series was iffy but not outright horrible for the most part, being either too unfocused with it’s comedically overbloated slice of life episodes to being confused in terms of plot direction as well as it’s CGI not up to snuff…however LA still liked Kantai Collection’s anime series for two reasons…..Kongou and the anime’s “attempt” in trying world building for a web browser game anime adaptation.
So what’s Kantai Collection’s movie about?…after the events of the anime series, the Fleet Girls hear an eerie voice in Ironbottom Island and within this island starts spreading corroding discolored waters, thus the Fleet Girls must figure out what or who and how to stop this, with Fubuki being mysteriously linked to all this.
Kantai Collection’s movie right from the offset ticked many of LA’s boxes of how to do an anime movie correctly, from now upgraded and far more detailed animation to the mere fact that this movie makes callbacks to the anime that becomes one of the primary focus to this movie. Best yet is that the movie manages to redeem what world building the anime series did especially when concerning the odd “hope” or “fate” that appeared in the anime series as well as the Abyssal Vessels themselves are looked upon.
Kantai Collection’s movie character focus are towards three characters, Fubuki, Mutsuki and Kaga for the most part. Kaga’s focus helps immensely with world building of this movie, Mutsuki helps with the emotional side of the movie especially when one character who we thought sunk in the anime series comes back and this brings in Mutsuki’s emotional clutch to the movie. Fubuki helps with the goal-orientated plotline for this movie mainly to do with Ironbottom Island and the voice that keeps calling out to her. To be fair this format of having three simultaneous plotliines linked to three characters is good for plot progression.
For the minor characters, they are essentially supporting characters and the MANY MANY characters have a chance to shine as well as bringing us tension if some of our favourite characters might sink or kicks Abyssal butt. LA’s favourite character from Kantai Collection easily goes to Kongou (she’s in LA’s Favourite characters!) however she has a shorter screentime which LA gets, the movie is much more serious, plot focused and intense than the anime series so LA could see her screentime slimmed down, HOWEVER Yamato (LA’s second favourite character in the series) got a bit more of the spotlight from this movie and her being badass so LA is completely ok with that.
Kantai Collection’s movie does imply something with it’s Abyssal Vessel and Fleet Girls lore and the world building this movie implemented and by the finale of the movie goes full lotus eating machine on us. Nonetheless Kantai Collection’s anime series hinted at this but the movie outright brings this up and makes an interesting notion of the Abyssal Vessels from the web browser games and just the notion of “enemies” in general have, the movie basically saying that the enemies we fight are not just a targets or points, they too have a goal not just as an enemy but as a “character” and they are more tragic characters than the “evil enemies we have to fight just..because” which is easily manifested in Fubuki’s end goal “villain” though they leave this notion up in the air by the end of this movie however LA thinks that’s the point, character-wise and sequel-wise.
The animation once again done by diomedea as LA mentioned is definitely a step above from the anime series, from really detailed and consistent animation with diomedea finally doing many of the naval battle skirmishes beautifully and gloriously fluid and action-heavy, best yet is that the CGI is now integrated to it’s traditional animation, though sometimes the CGI are shown at times but not as blatant as the anime series. Either way, LA can see that diomedea step up their game for this movie and it god damn shows.
Now voice acting…Jesus who to start?…Yuka Iguchi as Kaga, Rina Hidaka as Mutsuki and Sumire Uesaka as Fubuki were great however here comes the most obvious MVP of Kantai Collection’s movie…Ayane Sakura voicing SIX characters, they being Jintsuu, Mutsu, Nagato, Naka, Sendai and Shimakaze all with differing accents and voices. Though Ayane Sakura takes the easy MVP seiyuu for this movie, LA’s favourite voice actor for this movie however would actually go to Rina Hidaka however if only because she goes into more of the emotional range her characters goes through helped. LA just wished Kongou had more screentime…then LA could had easily put Nao Touyama in LA’s favourite voice actor in this movie.
So yeah, if it isn’t blindingly obvious, Kantai Collection’s Movie is another breath of fresh air when it comes to anime movies for LA, having this movie tie back to the anime series as well as focus on plot points brought up from the anime series and give us an original story in the process, NO anime movie-only character schthick, no recapping wasting time instead this movie getting straight to the action and as such progressing the plot forward instead of being a one-off instance (with it’s world building and character development) and the most obvious reason being that the movie outdid the anime series in many differing aspects from the plot to characters all under 90 minutes, all this is seriously how you get into LA’s best standards in making an anime movie and Kantai Collection’s movie succeeded impressively.
If this is the plot and character direction the Kantai Collection media is going, then LA will be quite interested in how Kantai Collection Zoku-hen will lead to…
Hopefully with more Kongou…
Story 8/10 : I found the story to be pretty well written, although nothing out of the ordinary. Yes it’s about what happened to Kisaragi but like my main thesis said, the movie was just so short falling in at an hour and thirty that it couldn’t get all the details out.
Art 8/10 : The art was pretty good for CG 2017. It’s still similar to the anime version but just slightly improved, nothing much of a difference here.
Characters 7/10 : The character’s were memorable to me but this could be a different statement for someone else. We still have most of the same characters returning from the original anime in the movie. Although we have some additional characters starring such as Amatsukaze, Choukai, etc. I noticed though they got little screen time in the time the movie had. Not too much of a vast improvement here.
Enjoyment 8/10 : I really enjoyed this movie since it followed up from the anime pretty well. Some plot holes were covered up and we got to see new characters that people wanted to see. Could use improvement though.
Overall 8/10 : I would most likely give this movie a 7/10 but the budget I heard wasn’t too much so the people who had to do this did what they could which I can understand so I’ll bump it up to an 8/10. Well done movie, but could use more length to it.
TL;DR : Watch the movie if you enjoyed the series, plot holes fixed, continuation, although short.
2: Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito
MAL Score: 7.84
An adaptation of the visual-novel by Key, Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito combines the story of the original work with an expansion that extends the narrative with content from the Hoshi no Hito light-novel sequel.
In the future after much of the world has been devastated by nuclear and biological warfare, a young scavenger or “Junker” exploring a quarantined and abandoned city comes across a service robot still faithfully awaiting customers in the rooftop planetarium of a department store. Against his pragmatic instincts he helps the robot repair the planetarium’s projector: a decision which will change both their fates.
If you happen to be interested in astronomy I think you’ll find it very moving. Ditto if you often read post-apocalyptic stories in any form, and also if you’ve been doing any thinking about how life will be when robots routinely move among us.
It’s a little jewel, and I still am having feelings from it the day after watching it.
Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito, or Planetarian: Stargazer- is a decent movie for those who have not watched the original Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet, 5 episode ONA. Though this movie is a sequel, it includes many scenes from the original, allowing for newer viewers to catch up. Unfortunately, I think it would be better to watch the original 5 episode ONA than to watch the movie. This is because all as the scenes from the ONA are flashbacks which in my opinion lose their effect because they are not being experienced in real time.
One big issue with this movie is that 80% of it is flashbacks from the ONA series, which could’ve been left out so the movie story could’ve been further developed. Honestly this didn’t even need to be a movie but a 20 min episode if you cut out all the flashbacks from the ONA.
The characters are new and only one (the main character of the ONA) has remained, though you’d see the original robot girl Yumemi (the other main character from the ONA) very often in flashbacks. The new main characters of the three children aren’t honestly expanded a lot. No one from the new character was really developed sadly. However, the best character development has definitely been the now old the main character Kuzuya (The Junker/Old man in this movie). I would like to specify further, but that’s a big spoiler.
Animation is good, though not as good as the original ONA series. Why does Ruth have no eyes? (They cover his eyes with hair) This just seems like a little lazy animation- they drew eyes for the other two kids, why can’t they do it with him? The main character (the old man) Kuzuya also seems to suffer often from his hair covering his eyes. I would’ve liked to see his eyes more.
The soundtrack is practically the same as the original ONA, especially the main theme from the Christian hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus”.
If you’ve already watched the ONA series: It’s a decent movie and just skip all the flashbacks wherever you see them. I would not describe watching this movie as a big MUST, unless you’re interested in what happens to the main character after the ONA series.
If you haven’t watched the ONA series: Watch the 5 episode ONA first! You’ll absolutely love it.
Robots talk too much. And so does kids. This entire movie bears a resemblance to sitting down in the middle of a forest and letting all them mosquitoes suck you. Gah! So annoying! So irritating! Because there were so many interactions in the movie. I thought that I was watching an Indian action series and thus couldn’t get the full experience from it.
Everything about this movie is splendid except from the characters. Yumemi Hoshino aka The Planetarian Robot Girl, is so fucking annoying that I wish that she would just shut the fuck up. The kids in the movie are also such a nice combination of stupidity that if I were to be the MC of this movie, I’d silence them and put where I think that they should belong: back to where they came from.
Story : 10/10
Art : 9/10
Sound : 1/10
Character : 1/10
Enjoyment : 9/10
Overall : 9/10
This movie is like watching David Production flex about their knowledge of astronomy. In which I don’t really mind. But if you’re gonna flex then you better make it good. This movie nearly failed in that aspect. But it was luckily saved by the strong pillars formed by the story alone.
Eh. Ok movie I guess. Wouldn’t really recommend this to anyone because it staying underrated is already the perfect place of where it should belong.
1: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky
Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム サンダーボルト DECEMBER SKY
MAL Score: 7.93
Federation troops and Zeon forces carry out a fierce battle in the Thunderbolt Sector in what was once Side 4 “Moore.” The Thunderbolt Sector is a shoal zone composed of the debris of destroyed space colonies, named for the electrical discharges from the metal debris. MS pilot Io Flemming is among the Federation soldiers who are dispatched to the area, where Zeon sniper Daryl Lorenz awaits them on the battlefield.
(Source: Gundam Wikia)
Thundebolt then caught me completely off-guard. Having no time for animes these days I got the glimpse of the upcoming OVA through some promo I was never hoping to watch, It didn’t say much though, only showing some really neat looking battle scenes. I am a mecha fan, even putting aside the fact that I stopped watching anime some time ago, so it was only natural that I would be interested in a battle sequence that actually resemebles just that – a battle sequence. From there I was only secinds away from being completely blasted into oblivion by the first OVA episode. The animation, the music, the pacing, interesting characters and refreshing approach at the topic on OYW – all of that packed into merely a 20-minute-worth of screening.
Then, I couldn’t watch the other 3 eps because of chores and kind of forgot about it until recently, when I found out that it acutally got a re-release in a form of a movie: December Sky. And what a movie it is!
A spectacle is more appropriate – because technically and visually it blows away even the Unicorn OVAs and TV series! From ground up the visuals and audio are all pitch perfect. Finally one can enjoy eye-candy partially drawn battle sequences when there’s very little actual CGI involved. Sure, there is still some, but not very offputting and someone who’s not accustomed to the sight won’t even catch it. That’s very good, espeically in the era of mecha animes being nearly 100% done over CGI. Good job SUNRISE.
Then there’s the music, the score and voiceover – all top notch, as expected of a high budget SUNRISE theatrical release. Seiyuus in both Japanese and English versions do their jobs well, although I would still prefer to hear the original voiceover for the fact of a better lipsinc. Japanese seiyuu also tend to pour more emotion into their characters than their English counterparts.
Plotwise it is a traditional good vs evil story, however the twist is here that in war there’s no black and white but rather shades of grey and lots of ambiguity. The world in Thunderbolt is also much grittier than in previous installments and I believe that was the idea behind the project – to show, that wars in Gundam UC universe are comprised off not only genius pilots and giant robots but also, and probably most often off personal tragedies of minor characters that apear behing the curtains. In that aspect the story hits jackpot. It so reminds of another project like that caught me by surprise – 0080 War in the pocket. Albeit having an entirely different cast and approach to the topic of wars it still is, in a way, a reminisent of that amazing installment. Not often a 80 minute film will engage you so much into it’s world and keep you at the edge of your seat until you hurt yourself. Amazing.
Overall, I recommend it mostly to Gundam fans for apparent reasons, but also it should find some audience around your average Joe’s looking for a visually stunning mecha battle spectacle. For Gundam series to have a good story as an add-on is rarity these days, so enjoy it while it lasts.
*SPOILERS FOR MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT*
Thunderbolt is definitely an interesting installment within the Universal Century timeline of Gundam. It preaches what we all know by now: war is hell. However, it doesn’t do this in a manner that makes it come off as obnoxiously preachy like say, Gundam 00 Second Season, and it doesn’t do that in away that involves shooting the quality of its writing in the foot like say, Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny (aka the entire Cosmic Era). At the same time, with hardly even a 1/20 of the length as the Cosmic Era in its entirety, and a mere 1/8 of the amount of runtime as 00 S2, it manages to do far more than both of those series in terms of actually showing just how fucked up war can be. Then again, a large number of series in the UC timeline is dedicated to this. So, even though it does more with the famous “war is hell” angle, does it stand on enough other merits to warrant being called a good addition to Universal Century? Let’s find out, shall we?
This is a side-story in the ongoing war between the Earth Federation and Zeon. As such, that war it referenced constantly and this is just an ongoing battle in one battlefield, as if it were WWI, where one battalion could be facing off against another in the same battlefield for months. Each side in this particular battlefield near Space Colony Side 4 had a key player: Io Fleming for the EF and Daryl Lorenz for Zeon. Each of them has some baggage that lead them to this war, and it’s all done with no words; it’s just the music and visuals which are left to speak the backstory to us. I can appreciate this kind of storytelling, where you don’t need words to convey something important about the characters, and that’s not something you can easily pull off.
In the actual battlefield, we get to see just how messed up it all can be, especially when kids are involved in the battle and are forced to panicky as they are slaughtered like their experienced soldier brethren. Some of the soldiers and captains risk their lives to save their crew, be given how much pride both sides have, they’d rather die than flee or get captured, and it doesn’t turn out pretty for the captain of the this Earth Federation mothership, who ends up getting killed by her soldiers over this same issue. Even the Zeon are willing to fight to the death and die in an explosion than get arrested, which is what they try to do in episode 4 when they’re infiltrated. Meanwhile, Io and Daryl, who plow through each other’s soldiers and get their own special mobile suits (Full Armor Gundam for Io and Psycho Zaku for Daryl) end up locked in combat and settling the score that is alluded to have started even before the events of the series, and that same score which has built up over the first 3 episodes, ending in a crazy climax in which neither of them wins. In the end, the Federation forces are captured (I don’t get how) and Io is tortured, albeit not without really spelling out the anime’s message for Daryl.
This anime really knows how to paint a picture on just how horrible war is, and it plays it up to Joe me without becoming preachy, and it does this with just 4 18 minute episodes, amounting to the screen time of 3 TV episodes, and it did so much more than the aforementioned Gundam anime in the preamble, which have so much more time. On the downside, there are Deus and Diabolos ex Machinas in the form of a thunderbolt saving a pilots life in episodes 2 and 4, with the first one being addressed in frustration by Daryl after he almost got a clean shot on Io. Still, this story worked rather well, and with so little time to do so, that’s impressive. Sure, the film has the added benefit of a little extra time and yes some things do feel a bit off in movie format as opposed to OVA format, but the core of Thunderbolt remains untouched.
A lot of people take issue with these characters being “one dimensional” and I’m gonna have to dispel that. Like with Cowboy Bebop, while the characters seem like 1D stereotypes of characters on the surface (since yes, there are people who believe Bebop’s characters are flat and one-dimensional), thanks to implications andtheruch way in which they are fleshed out, they are much more real than one would initially give them credit for. Io comes off as a bloodthirsty jerk, but he is so much more. After losing his father, he constantly reminds himself of himvia his dad’s favorite song. He fights not because he wants to, but because he has to, so he brings his mucus along that way he can get in the mood to fight without letting reality tranquility lose his morale, and he does still care about people, like his girlfriend who he doesn’t has the best of relationships with thanks to this war. Speaking of, Captain Claudia Oeer is really unfit for her position, only being placed there on account of rank and the captain slot being forcibly open. The stress of the war makes her relationship with Io very hard, and she even turns to drugs to solve her problems, as then her fate is sealed when one of her more prideful subordinates shoots her for daring to suggest that she and her men should flee on account of being outmatched. She’s the most tragic character here for that reason. Cornelius is just the friend of the trio who understands them and provides a bit of insight into the other two characters for us via implication, as well as help be part of the funny running gag of giving Io tissues.
Daryl is pretty tragic too, losing one of his limbs early on, he still dreams of what could’ve been. Even his lover, Karla, can’t stand what the loss of limbs is doing to him and his allies. Even still, he loses another one, and this all drives him to ask her to amputate all of his remaining limbs so that he can pilot the new Psycho Zaku in order to combat Io, who has killed most of his cohorts. As Io commented in the final episode, even though he hates what this war has done to him, he has driven himself a bit mad by it, making such a hasty and life-changing decision; he’s right about what this has done to Daryl. Karla isn’t very happy about being forced to be here herself, as she hates what she has to do to Daryl and the other Zeon troops, as well as the fact that she’s part of this war. I really like the romance flashback in episode 4, as it really sells how much she and Daryl love each other, without needing words to do so.
None of the other guys are really worth mentioning, but the named cast is pretty good and much richer than people give credit for. To those who say “What about the SEED, Destiny, and 00 Second Season cast? Many of them suffered through war but you criticized them.” The thing is, those characters didn’t necessarily suffer through war, they suffered through the stupidity of the war’s combatants as well as themselves; they were idiots and assholes (in some cases, both, like Shinn from SEED Destiny) who let the war make them worse. Those are not good characters. That’s the difference between them and the Thunderbolt characters; these guys suffer like soldiers who actually feel like real, at least somewhat intelligent people, those other ones just don’t.
This is easily the best looking Gundam anime to date, without question (unless I end up seeing Unicorn, and even then, that’s debatable), with only the second season of Thunderbolt giving it a run for its money as of now. The sheer detail put into every single frame is astounding, and the digital effects of the lasers and explosions are simply breathtaking. The action looks freakin’ amazing due to this, and the Gundams receive the perfect amount of detail, and this series rivals anime put in cinemas. The directing is wonderful in terms of the animation. The character designs also seem pretty realistic, stylistic lines not withstanding. My only gripe, fnyoh can call it that, is that the Doms and other Federation mobile suits have a more child-like shading that somewhat clashes with the gritty and detailed setting and other mobile suits, as that there is some minor CGI with some of the space debris (though they’re “blink and you’ll miss it”). Other than that, Thunderbolt looks beautiful, and it’s easily one of the best-looking anime of the decade.
The OST, done by Naruyoshi Kikuchi, is great,and makes a wonderful fit for this space battlefield in which the anime takes place in. Thunderbolt for Main Theme is a great score for whenever Io steps out into battle with the Full Armor Gundam, with its wonderful free jazz, even if it’s absent here, though despite this, the soundtrack is still amazing. The other themes are great at accomplishing the feelings their scenes intend, as if to sell them even more than the writing can. Not a huge amount of these pieces are overtly memorable, but they sell their scenes extremely well, which is still a good thing in its own right.
The dub is pretty solid as well, even if I only recognize one cast member. Some moments for some of the characters do feel week, especially in comparison to the Japanese voices, but there are an equal amount of really strong moments. The most notable performance is Johnny Yong Bosch as Daryl Lorenz, and he does do a good job and probably has the least amount of moments that feel even slightly off. Then again, he is in did he most prolific dub actors in anime, and he does do some rather emotional characters, so that’s to be expected of him. While I do prefer the Japanese voice acting on this one, the English dub cast did a pretty good job with this one.
I had a lot of fun with this anime. The slick soundtrack, the awesome battles, the striking feeling of hellishness in war, and the breathtaking visuals were all a real treat to witness, and the characters and writing were no slouch either. Sure, some moments were a bit iffy and weird, but it was truly an adrenaline rush of a series. I simply wish I would get more, and with a second season on the way, that same high seems likely to reach me again. Plus, seeing a Perfect Zeong in action is something that makes my inner fanboy come out, it’s that cool.
OVERALL: 9/10 RAW SCORE: 88/100
Interestingly, I would say that Gundam Thunderbolt is the perfect Gundam anime for newcomers, no matter which version you go for. It hits on all of the major themes of Gundam with a proper tone and decent characterization and writing, it has kickass action, and it doesn’t really require much background knowledge. Even disregarding that, both this and the original OVA are truly solid Gundam anime that deserve all of their fanfare and I’m sure that the manga is just as good. Can I say that either version of Gundam Thunderbolt is the best of the bunch? No; there are some UC Gundam anime that surpass this, such as Gundam Origin. This is just a side-story after all, and it would be weird if a side/story was superior to everything else in the franchise. Even still, this is definitely worth watching, even if you are new to Gundam. With all that said, I bid you adieu.
Thunderbolt is a story of humans utterly ensnared within cruel times, of overblown military budgets and desperation, of those once passive to the times swept into frenzied fever. The spread and escalation of war is a result of the failure of leadership at the highest levels, and Thunderbolt captures failures of leadership at a small scale. Atrocities beget atrocities, unfolding into each respective side’s umpteenth measure to snuff the other out, in a tense climax to the action with depictions of bodies upon bodies. Except unlike in SEED, both sides are treated as neither hero nor villain, but as small pawns in a deadly game of chess, the larger scale or outcome of which isn’t even depicted or known. Innocence is lost. The soul dies, and the shells of what were once men become beasts that crave only the hunt. What to the protagonists were quests to quell the nightmare of war obliterated their humanity, for now they are the nightmare.
The truth is you, the reader, too, are an insignificant subject of a societal system, the direction of which is far beyond your control. Should civility break down and give you the choice of whether to hide from the fire, or to become that which lights it, will you be the one getting torched, or are you the one holding the torch?
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky
2. Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito
3. KanColle Movie
4. Orange: Mirai