They’re the best Anime that 2004 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Enzai, Teizokurei Daydream, Hitsuji no Uta, and more!
MAL Score: 5.22
The protagonist is Guys, a young boy from a poor family, who gets caught for stealing candy from a Paris store.
However, after being railroaded by a city detective named Guildias, Guys finds himself accused, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a man he never met.
From that point on, most Enzai takes place inside a dark, claustrophobic, dirty prison, in there, Guys experiences humiliation and torture of various kinds, much of it involving sexual acts such as rape and forcible sodomy.
When I read the summary for the plot and decided to watch this, I thought this might be a reasonably good anime. Mystery aspects involved, art looked decent…what could go wrong. Right?
I was wrong. Very wrong.
Honestly, within the first five minutes of this anime, I was already stricken by how revolting it was. I nearly turned it off right then and there. Yes, I understand that prison is horrifying. Maybe they wanted to show that. Yada yada yada, but are you people serious? This is a two episode series and I can’t even count how many rape scenes there are. Is that supposed to be sexy? God, I hope not, because if so, it failed miserably. At some points, I felt like vomiting.
Don’t get me wrong. In terms of storylines, I’ve seen worse, but I’ve seen much, much better.
Oh, there’s still hope for him. Hey, maybe we can get into some plot now…oh wait, nope. Just more rape. Look, the lawyer is back, let’s get cracking. Looks like he found something. Now is it time to actually…damn it all, more rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Pathetic attempt at plot. More rape.
I wish I was exaggerating. Really, I do.
And, you know what the kicker is? At the end when Guys finally escapes prison and the horrors he found there, what does he do? Turn right around and start doing the same shit that ‘sickened’ him…with his lawyer! Yup, that’s right. I know they only showed a kiss, but come on. None of you are naive enough to think it stays so innocent, right? I don’t know about everyone else, but I was astounded.
“Awesome. Despite the fact that these characters are kind of one-dimensional, I’m glad…oh come on, really? Now he’s making out with his lawyer? Nevermind, I take that back.”
I know what you’re thinking: “But Lusca saved him!” Don’t give me that crap. If I was raped dozens of times in prison, no one would even be touching me at all, let alone making out with me. I wouldn’t care if that person had slayed a frickin’ dragon on my behalf, he still wouldn’t be touching me. Guys is supposed to be traumatized, remember? I would be curled up in a ball, trying to pick up the trashed remains that represented my life.
Gah…I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re interested in shotacon. Or, for whatever reason, rape scenes. It’s not worth it. Please save yourself the trouble.
At first, I was simply excited as to what it was because the title was somewhat intriguing, but as I go through the middle, I ended up staring and then sometimes wondering what’s been happening. The story overall is pretty good, though the ending was somewhat anti-climactic.
This is a purely PWP (Porn Without Plot), so I don’t suggest it to those under 16. Unless you think you’re mature. ^^;
5: Teizokurei Daydream
English: Ghost Talker’s Daydream
MAL Score: 6.17
Saiki Misaki has been able to see ghosts since she was a kid. Now, working at an S&M club, her spare time goes to sending the spirits off to the other world by having to make them realize they’re dead and have to leave. This would supposedly be a little bit easier if you didnt have a background of hardship and loneliness… and a perverted employer.
Ghost Talker’s Daydream was based on an extremely obscure manga that ran for 22 chapters back in the early 2000s. The manga is classified as an Ecchi/Horror that combines bad comedy and fetish pandering with edgy as FUCK content including lots of child murders and rape. Imagine a level of mood whiplash and tonal inconsistency that makes Elfen Lied look like Monster. Now you’re beginning to get an idea of what this manga is like. Oh yeah, we’re in for a trip!
The premise of the manga is that there’s an albino girl with psychic powers. She can communicate with ghosts and her father is a police commissioner who wants to force her to use her powers to solve difficult murder cases. However, she hates using her powers and rebels against her father in the most EPIC way possible… by becoming a dominatrix at an S&M club. She’s also the part time editor of a porno magazine. Despite her wishes, she is sometimes given an offer she can’t refuse and is roped into a case where she has to solve a murder and usually exorcise the victim’s spirit. If this plot sounds kind of insane, it’s because it is.
However, the plot summary alone doesn’t prepare you for the pit of madness that awaits. In chapter 3, our heroine Misaki is at the S&M club catering to a failing manga editor with a scat fetish. She’s in the shower washing the shit off herself and singing a song about her clitoris. Then she returns to the room to find that the manga editor has hanged himself! This is played off as a joke! Some police arrive and interrogate Misaki, who has to channel the spirit of the dead manga editor and convince the cops she didn’t kill him. That’s what a normal chapter of this manga is like. Well, I forgot to mention the random pop culture jokes like when Misaki turns into Buttercup from the Power Puff Girls for 1 panel. This manga just punches you right in the brain!
In 2004, the studio behind Princess Tutu and Aria decided to adapt this shitty manga into a 4 episode OVA. I don’t know how this happened. I don’t know why this happened, but it somehow happened. Guess who was forced to direct it? Only the fairly legendary Osamu Sekita. This is the guy who directed Cross Game and was co-director of the original Mobile Suit Gundam and Zeta Gundam. I don’t know how they dragged him into this project, but I’m glad they did. He made a damn masterpiece!
In the first episode, Misaki must solve the murder/suicide of a young mother and daughter whose spirits are haunting an apartment. Easily the highlight of this episode is when the villain throws the little girl forward, which somehow causes her to rapidly accelerate upwards at an odd angle and splat against the ceiling. If the ceiling wasn’t there, she would have achieved orbit. I think Sekita forgot he wasn’t working on a Gundam anime and that this wasn’t a zero gravity environment.
Then Episodes 3 and 4 happen and they are glorious!
Detective: “One dozen children were abducted, raped, and murdered! To solve this case we need the world’s greatest psychic! Where could she be?
(cut to hot spring promising hair rejuvenation)
Our Heroine: (Sings) “La La La-La Lee Lee Lee Gotta grow more hair on my pussy!”
As the anime will remind you many times, our heroine is mostly bald down there because she’s an albino. This is the ONLY aspect of her albinism that the anime remembers. She never wears sunglasses to block out UV light. She walks around in the middle of the day wearing basically nothing. The fact she hasn’t died of cancer is her real superpower, not the psychic stuff!
While the tonal whiplash from the manga is back with a vengeance in the anime, this adaptation has a few flaws. Several plot elements from the manga are simply never explained in the anime. There’s a guy who keeps stalking Misaki and taking photos of her, but it’s never explained who he is! In the manga, he’s a masochist who wants to enter the club but keeps getting turned down because he’s only 17. Remember at the beginning of the review where I mentioned Misaki’s father is a police commissioner? Well the anime NEVER explains that! She just keeps getting jobs from some mysterious voice on the phone and all we see is her yelling at whoever is giving the orders. It’s never even insinuated this is her father. Another plot point from the manga is that she can also summon demons and bind them to her will. She mostly uses a demon made of hair, very similar to Bayonetta. The anime once again doesn’t explain this! She’s fighting some thug in a warehouse and suddenly drops trou and fires this hair/rope demon from her panties. There’s no callback to it and it’s never explained!
Despite all the flaws this anime has, Misaki is genuinely enjoyable. She is a confident, sexy, bad bitch! However, she ultimately does have a soft side and helps out when she needs to. Her English voice actress mostly worked on 4kids dubs and is best known for playing Mai Valentine in Yugioh. So if you ever wanted to hear Mai swear up a storm, say lewd things and sing about her pubic hair, you’ve come to the right place!
Ghost Talker is the kind of random, apeshit insanity you can only find in cheap, old OVAs. I call these O.B.A s for “Old. Bad. Anime.” Ghost Talker is right at home alongside Mad Bull 34, Angel Cop, and all the classics of this genre! It’s shocking, distasteful, absurd, and you’ll probably love every minute of it!
the basic idea of having a spiritual medium working part time as a dominatrix does seem pretty nice to me, but not even the amount of fan service will make up for the fact that it doesn’t satisfy in the end.
i’m actually quite anxious to read the manga after this, but the anime isn’t worth your time. even if you’re intent on watching this because one of the main characters is a dominatrix, you’ll be disappointed.
it’s funny at times, the animation is quite okay, but in the end it feels completely unfinished and underdeveloped. i’m quite sure that it could have done well as a full series, but 4 episodes just isn’t enough.
This is another one of those titles that had so much potential, but was marred by very poor direction by a hack director; a complete fool who should have been sitting down and re-watching Satoshi Kon anime films (if he’s ever watched them), to learn what it takes to make an outstanding anime that deals with such dark content. The moron in question happens to be Osamu Sekita. Ghost Talker’s Daydream is among the worst anime OVA’s that I came across years ago, and has been since collecting lots of dust on my shelf.
Ghost Talker’s Daydream is a supernatural anime with horror elements that contains a vast amount of comedy. Among its problems happens to be that the comedy clashes very badly with the horror in an almost Elfen Lied type of way. In addition, many of the story elements seem really unnecessary, and this also goes for the secondary characters who over stay their welcomes very quickly. When you have a show that an entire secondary cast can be slightly used to not used at all, as well as a piece of the story that can be completely omitted, and the overall story can still carry on with a full head of steam, then something is very wrong. You would have to search kind of hard for poor direction like this.
I have seen some bad directing in anime through out the years, and this title is definitely among the worst to use the short episode OVA format I have ever seen. The story development is very poor. There was no real reason for the main character to parade around in a dominatrix outfit, other than to bombard the viewer with constant fan service. Her occupation as a dominatrix was barely covered and it played no factor at all in the overall story or even in the plot. It was tacked on there just because, and there are several other useless elements like these.
The supporting characters are completely disposable for the most part. The first side character to make an appearance is a girl named Ai whom is in her own bad predicament. Once her two stories were tied up, there was very little reason to keep her around. The same goes for the character Souichiro. He’s the typical bumbling idiot who plays the role of the comedy relief, and does a very bad job at it. Misaki herself is almost as bad. She has the ability to battle spirits by unleashing a whip from her lower region, and during the first episode, she appears to be going through some type of ecstasy while using this attack but it’s never explained why this occurs. Instead, it’s dropped and she never goes through it again.
The first two stories are stand alone, while the third and fourth are two parters. The stories have some very interesting premises dealing with the demise of certain people and one even involves an unsolved child murder. Sadly, these stories are badly paced with non plot related elements being introduced. The spooky atmosphere is dealt a blow by the repeated comedy making it very hard to take this serious. There was so much room for character and plot development but they take the backseat for more fanservice, more comedy, and screen time for worthless characters. Misaki’s background concerning her childhood is somewhat examined, but her character development is overall weak. The writers instead decide to focus on her fascination on growing pubic hairs because she happens to be naturally bald. Personally, I don’t see the humor in this.
Although good for an OVA, the animation is not very fluid and there is a slight amount of jumpiness. The artwork has some good character designs and I’m sure some guys will get a kick out of the nudity. The camera work places a vast amount of attention on cheek and panty shots. In the music department, nothing really stood out to me but the sound effects has standout moments, like Misaki slapping her private part with handfuls of water. The BGM never gripped me in its attempt at being creepy because I couldn’t take the story serious at any point. The ending theme was so forgettable to me that I don’t remember any traces of it.
The anime was put into the hands of a childish director and was seriously held back due to that decision. I don’t recall ever coming across any of Sekita’s work before or after this; but based upon this weak effort I will go on and say that he cannot carry a story that the serious viewer would actually care about.
I have to warn those whom are not familiar with this title. Do not for any reason take serious the claims you will hear about this being for a mature audience in regards to intelligence or its artistic brilliance. There’s nothing artistic or brilliant about it. This is your standard mindless anime, packed with childish sexual humor, a near rape scene, and fan service. If I were to mention any other positives about this series it would have to be the short length, and even at 100 minutes it felt too long. I couldn’t possibly imagine sitting through 26 episodes of this. I only recommend this to the very easily pleased anime fan who thinks all anime is great, and that it’s just the people who don’t like anything.
Highs: Traces of decent ideas here and there
Lows: Hack job for the most part, not funny, disposable characters, mindless fan service
4: Hitsuji no Uta
MAL Score: 6.20
Kazuna’s family has a history of suffering from a disease that creates an uncontrollable vampire-like thirst for blood. Knowing none of this, Kazuna was sent to live with the Eda couple as a child. As the sickness begins to show signs of being present within himself, he comes into contact with his older sister, Chizuna, who has been suffering from it since early childhood. Knowing that the sickness incurs a heavy weight upon those that suffer from it, Chizuna tries to ease her brother’s burden, to help him learn to control his urges, but…
A sort-of non-traditional take on vampires. Kazuna and Chizuna are vampires, but vampirism is more of an illness and a hindrance than it is anything else. It’s quite a sad story, following how the illness ultimately destroys their lives. The anime’s ending differs from the manga, however, as well as leaving out a couple side characters entirely, but as the story (in the anime) is focused mainly on Kazuna and Chizuna’s interaction, it’s not a major issue.
– The backgrounds/settings are rather gorgeous. The muted palette overall reflects the melancholy tone of the show, and the style the characters are drawn in make them all the more striking, in my opinion. The eyes, especially, were haunting, and I particularly liked the dark outline for the noses (rather a change from the disappearing noses that are standard anime fare).
– Doing more than an OVA with such a character driven story would have been a mistake, but it wouldn’t have hurt to give it a bit more cash for the four episodes. Man did I get sick of Kazuna’s "attacks" (they looked like someone splatted some blood patterned brushes on a multiply layer in Photoshop), the wind chime, the moon, and (omg) the RED moon, not to mention the picture of Chizuna as a little girl, and a bunch of other reused shots/frames/misc. The obvious lack of budget inspired a drinking game in which the viewer would pass out from alcohol poisoning within the first episode if they were to actually put it to practice.
I give it a 7 for animation because, despite all the reused visuals, the visuals that were presented were rather pretty. Woulda been nice if things you know… moved more, though.
– The ED is really hauntingly beautiful, and sad. It’s actually one of my most played on iTunes. I’m a sucker for sad songs, what can I say? ^.^;;
– Woulda been nice if they had coughed up the cash for an OP, or even just better background music. The only real saving grace is the ED, music wise.
7, if only because I fricking love the ED so much.
Like I said, what this series is entirely about. Very well done, I thought. Chizuna was probably my favorite, but all the characters resonated emotionally, I think.
This series isn’t so much about a "story" or "plot-line" as it is about Chizuna and Kazuna, specifically. More of a slice out of their lives, than anything else.
7. It’s all coherent, and there are a few decent "twists".
Well, if you can’t get over the lack of budget, not much. But if you like a good story, with good characters, and some… a lot… a whole bunch… of angst, then this show is totally for you. If those things aren’t your piece of cake well… *shrug* For me, an 8, leaning towards a 9. 10 if I count how fun it is to rewatch and make fun of for it’s lack of budget. Or how Kazuna totally wants to do Chizuna.
Hitsuji no Uta is a retelling of the story told in its manga counterpart stuffing 7 volumes of well developed plot and characters into 4 episodes of rushed anime with poor animation. I wont be getting into the plot or characters because if you haven’t read the manga or don’t intend to; you have no reason to know of the existence of this OVA series. Even as a fan of the manga (which has its flaws) this OVA is completely pointless. The story skips so much that you cant really understand all of whats going on, i mean the deeper elements that actually require thought process while reading the manga. the animation is also poor; i expect more from madhouse and looking at still images of this anime youd think its got proper animation but it doesent. the framerate is choppy, characters can become disproportionate with large heads at times, they take plenty of shortcuts with animation such as dialogue over still images of characters who are supposedly talking or stock animations of trains. all in all this ova series should have never been made. fans of the manga series will find this painful to watch, anyone else wont enjoy it. the manga is only 7 volumes long so just go read it or look it up to see if youd like it. dont base any of your opinions on the story by what you see with this ova.
Hitsuji no Uta is an interesting anime, and if it had more time to develop it would have been really good. The anime as it stands at 4 episodes manages to tell a good story, even though it is short. What I found cool about it was that, instead of the low budget taking away from the enjoyment, it actually added to it. The repeated images and switching between black and white and color make the anime a little more stylized, rather than hindering the interest of the story. The way they show Kazuna’s attacks also adds quite a bit of tension to the experience.
The art style looks good most of the time, but sometimes ends up looking a bit off from the way you see it normally. This only happens in a few scenes, and it doesn’t really disturb the presence of the theme. And like I said before, the low-budgetness of the anime actually stylizes it and makes it unique.
Really, there’s not much here. There’s about one song plus the ending theme. The one song in the anime actually fits in most of the situations, so even though there’s not a large variety, it adds a familiar atmosphere when certain events are happening.
The characters weren’t that developed, mostly because there wasn’t enough time to get to know them all. But by the end, you have a feel for the personality and ideals of most of the important characters.
Enjoyment & Overall
I enjoyed Hitsuji no Uta quite a bit, and because it’s so short, the story doesn’t get distorted and twisted around until it’s unrecognizable. I would recommend it to anyone; I’m sure anyone could find something to like about it. Even if you don’t like it a ton, you’re only with it for 2 hours of your life, so you can watch it and add it to your repertoire of anime knowledge without too much effort.
MAL Score: 6.44
The unnamed main character has been having strange dreams, seeing strange things, and meeting strange people. He investigates these events and finds a strange girl named Aya. With her help, he discovers that his world may not in fact be real and many of the people he thinks he knows may not exist anymore.
The entire anime plays out similarly to the end of Evangelion where absolutely nothing makes any sense. This is an area that could have used significantly more polish. Done properly, this could have been a mind-twister that really made you think about some important questions in life. In stead what we have is a Half-life/Evangelion hybrid that just doesn’t feel right about half of the time.
This is by far the series strongest area. The art is relatively well done. There’s better out there, of course, but this really isn’t bad. The characters feel individualized, well drawn, and well animated. The backgrounds are rich and contrast well enough that the characters don’t become drown out by it. The environment overall feels believable.
I really don’t have any particularly strong feelings about the audio in this series. For me it was just … meh. It certainly isn’t bad sound and the theme isn’t too bad … but it also isn’t good either. It’s just there.
This is the low point of the series right here. There are token characters everywhere in this one. This includes the obligatory mostly-naked girl in all three episodes. For me, this really took away from the story. Some of the characters are, for the most part, believable. They do their best to draw out the main character but even then he feels … empty most of the time.
Surprisingly, I still enjoyed this anime. It certainly wasn’t the best out there … but it was pretty good. It is, for all intents and purposes, average. If you’ve got nothing all that great to watch, this is at least a somewhat enjoyable experience.
The final verdict: OK … I suppose.
Interlude, by Merriam-Webster’s definition, is an intervening or interruptive period, space, or event. How this can be applied to this OVA is moot. We can conclude that the most likely meaning of the Interlude in this anime is the world of memory, in which all of our characters live their lives in this “intervening pause” of the apocalypse. The tautology of the word can clearly be seen in every intro where one of the heroines gives a monologue (or even a soliloquy) about an abstract idea concerning despair in regard to personal ambition, the point of life, or obliviousness to the world around us. I may mention the motifs and symbolism I see throughout the series, which may be full of praise, but this does not reflect my actual review of the OVA as a PRODUCT.
Now the review:
(5) Story: There is no true plot. Just an abstract outline of the apocalypse in parallel with a dream world that was formed to preserve the lives and sanity of a number of humans left in the world. Now the beauty of this lack of plot is that the director gives us a piece of his work, his art and we’re supposed to see what is truly being expressed throughout his work. There are questions imposed here that make you really think. Just to name a few:
“Is sacrifice really worth it if a person you’re sacrificing for is oblivious to your efforts?”
“Could you live with yourself if everyone else died but you?”
“Does the power of love juxtapose with the shame of regret in times of extreme trauma or does the power of love triumph over the shame of regret in those moments?”
“When and where does morality end and begin?”
I mean you could go on for hours trying to see the symbolism within this short OVA and determine what the author was trying to get across. However, many of my fellow anime fans know that anime is used as a direct means to express a certain emotion, thought, or outlook on an aspect of life or human values. However, making this OVA abstract detracted heavily from actually making this OVA enjoyable for most viewers.
(9) Animation: This is one aspect which the producers clearly did not fail in. The art in this work was very smooth, clean, and crisp within the memory world. The apocalyptic world is portrayed in a fuzzy, surreal manner, giving way to the feeling of shock; how the world became what it was never supposed to be. I can’t say the detail was simply amazing, but they way the artists pulled it off did contribute to the sense of illusion and loss of reality within the OVA.
(7) Sound: Again no complaints. Just as with the art, the producers did not neglect on the sound effects, voice acting, or music of the series. However, I can clearly see that they did not go out of their way to use sound as a tool to further convey the feelings and emotions of confusion and dark self-reflection in regard to the main character’s interaction with his surroundings, which is why I gave it a positive, but not an outstanding rating.
(6) Character: Again, in relation to to my story rating, I believe the characters are used as a kind of foil, not just to the main character, but to ourselves. The characters were not very well developed because the I believe the director made it his intention to keep his story abstract. The only person whom I believed was really was developed was Mutsuki Saegusa who sacrificed everything for a step-brother whom she truly cared for. I can look into the characters and begin to delve into the realm of philosophy asking questions about myself, humanity, and the surreal. However, this is an anime review so I’m avoiding any digressions when I can! 😉
(9) Enjoyment: I can go forever about this one. Let’s keep it short.
I’m a very deep thinker. This OVA presents questions and innuendos that really made me think about values, morality, humanity, etc. Because of this, I enjoyed the anime a lot because it made me reflect on a lot of ethics we follow today.
(6) Overall: Again this OVA is not for people looking for amazing action or getting blown apart in terms of psychological thinking, like with Inception (I know it’s not anime but it’s a good example). It’s supposed to stimulate reflection and provoke some sort of response in terms of what symbols you can pull out of the anime and discuss with other viewers. I enjoyed it as provoker of deep meditation. As an OVA, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless they are into finding deep, hidden themes and meanings within the shows.
In many respects this summarises the feelings you get after watching Interlude, whose plot doesn’t fail to get you worked up with expectations but at the same time gives you a headach for the most part due to it being basically pointless. It is one of those animes where the authors tried too hard to twist things up but end up in the end getting twisted themselves with loose ends all over the place and leave the mess up for you to fill in the blanks, pretending all along there is somehow some great psychological logic behind it all which of course nobody grasped!
2: Cossette no Shouzou
English: Le Portrait de Petit Cossette
MAL Score: 6.83
Eiri Kurahashi is a Japanese art student who works in an antique shop. His friends begin to notice a dramatic, and rather concerning, change in Eiri, as he becomes more absent-minded and his behavior completely changes. They quickly decide to blame their friend’s troubles on a girl.
They may be right, however, as Eiri has begun seeing a beautiful, doll-like girl trapped within an antique Venetian glass that his uncle bought in France. She seems to be living in a strange other world, contained entirely inside this glass, but her image refuses to leave Eiri’s mind. His sketchbook becomes filled with her likeness, and he realizes he has become completely infatuated with this strange little girl. When he recognizes her in a portrait by the mysterious Italian artist, Marchello Orlando, he learns her name is Cossette d’Auvergne, and that she was tragically murdered along with the rest of her family.
One night, as he closes up the shop, he hears a voice asking him not to leave. Finally making contact with the object of his obsession, he makes a deal that he doesn’t fully understand.
With regard to the plot, it would be no exaggeration to state that the same story could have been told within five minutes, nor would it be too much to say that any review of the plot would also most likely divulge what little twist there is. In essence, the story revolves around two artists and a piece of art, the portrait of a young girl, and the two differing outlooks on art these two artists have: one in the end prefers the piece of art, unchanging and everlastingly beautiful, unwilling even to acknowledge the existence of the living, changing ‘original’ girl, while the other prefers his art to be alive in some fashion, even if this means that change and loss exist. It is a story about the love of the artist for his art, a love that is profound enough to accept the necessity of loss, even, if necessary, of the self.
Nowhere is the story explained in as much words as I’ve used above, or are there pieces of dialogue directly concerning this difference in outlooks on art. In fact, there is not that much dialogue at all, nor does the show try to explore the main characters: there is little in the way of actual plot or character development.
This is because Le Portrait de Petit Cossette is a Romantic piece, or, more accurately, a piece of Romantic horror. The plot is a gathering of tropes from the genre, and focuses to a large extent on the passionate love of the main characters without giving much in the way of an explanation for their feelings and behaviour, wholly following the example of the greater pieces of Sturm und Drang literature, where round characters were considered less important than the strength of what little they tried to convey. Even the fact that the plot seems confusing, and that not everything is explained or neatly given a purpose within the story can be fully explained as Romantic horror: from Poe to Lovecraft the actual lack of a full explanation served to enhance the story.
When all is said and done, the story might not be all that original, or contain a lot of development. It is, however, very true to form.
The art is simply gorgeous. A lot of different styles are used, from simple nature backgrounds to what has been described as "bargain-basement Salvador Dali", with an emphasis on portraying scenes in twilight or with light that is filtered, seemingly in order to make the few bright points stand out more. Even though not all styles work out equally fine – especially the more surrealistic scenes tend to be a bit over the top – they do usually perfectly portray the mood of a certain scene.
To this is added a soundtrack consisting largely of semi-classical music that does a wonderful job in strengthening the different moods, ranging from simple, uplifting tunes to a ballad that is beautiful and haunting, even though it is sung in Japanese, which does not really fit the mood.
It is true that this show is pretentious, as is, it should be said, all art, and visual arts have a tendency to be even more pretentious than music or literature: the use of a French title (containing errors in grammar, spelling, and syntax, to boot, as it should have been titled "Le portrait de la Petite Cosette") is in itself proof of this, as is the bundling of a whole bunch of different musical and visual styles. On the other hand, it is quite honest about its being pretentious, and it must be said that, in the end, what matters in visual art is the art, not story, and not character. Anime is visual art, and no matter how good a series is, it will never be better than a solid book in portraying story or characters. What it adds are visuals, and these enhance the story in a way words alone can never do. To me, it is not too pretentious to try and make the story revolve around the art, and not the other way round: in a way, that seems to be what anime should in the end be about.
I won’t lie. I consider Le Portrait de Petit Cossette to be the best piece of film I have ever seen, without a single doubt. As implied above, it is very difficult to make an objective statement on story and art, as you either like the style, or you don’t. To me the different scenes do connect, and portray a story about longing, love, and sacrifice that portray thoughts that can be felt, but not put into words – though they can be shown.
In a way, I am in love with these three episodes like the protagonist is in love with the painting, and, thus, am unable to see anything that could detract from this impression. Perhaps that simple fact is the greatest compliment a show can receive.
Cossette’s story is relatively simple, but for whatever reason, its creators seem eager to make it as difficult to follow as possible. There are frequent changes in setting between the real world and a surrealistic hallucinatory world that the protagonist visits. These transitions take place with little tact, and they give the series a very warped sense of chronology which is only added to by the use of repetitive flashbacks to events that happened only minutes ago. There is little to no explanation offered as to what this surreal world actually represents, and the OVA seems to take it for granted that the audience will be able to interpret the significance (if there is any) of the events that transpire there without much help, a proposition that’s dubious at best and downright foolish at worst. What’s happening in the real world isn’t very interesting, either; the protagonist’s group of age-appropriate female friends are noticing that he’s having a bit of a mental breakdown, they’re all concerned with his well-being, and they take various actions to try to ensure his safety. This story thread ultimately serves very little purpose, and is more or less just a distraction from the central plot. To even understand that plot requires using tremendous amounts of speculation and assumption to fill in the gaping holes left by the writers. I’m confident that I’m a reasonably attentive viewer, and I don’t feel at all embarrassed to say that on the first watch of Cossette, I could only guess at what was happening for at least forty percent of the OVA’s running length. There’s a fine line between minimalistic storytelling and poor storytelling. It gets crossed here, in spades.
I wish I could say that the characters swooped in and redeemed everything, but it wasn’t to be. Our male lead, Eiri, an amateur artist who owns an antique shop, is a neat concept, but he has all the personality of a dishrag, and is little more than a tool used to push an overly obvious thematic agenda on the audience. The same can be said of Cossette, the doomed young daughter of foreign nobility whose soul is trapped in a decorative glass; what a great idea, and what a shockingly lackluster execution. Her lack of character might be explained away by the idea that she is supposed to represent an object of obsession rather than a person, but the fact that she responds in kind to Eiri’s love sort of voids that entire train of thought. There’s an attempt at romance, but I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again—romance holds no meaning when neither character is even identifiable as an individual. Supporting roles, you ask? Welcome to the cast of cliches: A close female friend who is in love with Eiri but has difficulty showing it, two local psychics who give Eiri vague spiritual advice (such gems as “there’s a soul in everything”), a hard-nosed doctor who notices Eiri’s failing mental and physical state, a girl smitten with Eiri who works at a local restaurant. They’re introduced haphazardly and, again, we’re often left to make assumptions about who they even are and what their relationship is to Eiri. Most of them are cardboard cutouts graced with the privilege of about two or three lines of dialogue, and their role in the story as a whole is rather unnecessary. There’s some kind of halfhearted harem drama between the overly zealous friend who is in love with Eiri and the rest of the cast. This element isn’t very well thought out, nor does it have any place in the OVA, and it falls more or less flat.
Artistically, Cossette has a lot of merit. The production values are reasonably high. The character designs are inoffensive. The backgrounds are lovely, ranging from verdant forests to foggy city streets, and the atmosphere created in the bowels of Eiri’s dusty antique store is suitably eerie. Somewhere along the line, though, Cossette trades all of that for a ridiculous amount of CGI, editing, and visual trickery that’s really quite annoying. It turns into a regular slideshow of artistic tricks-of-the-trade. Name a strange camera angle, lighting or filtering choice, or visual distortion, and the odds are pretty good that it’s here. Cossette just can’t resist: A shot through stained glass here, a weird point-of-view through a digital camera there, an overlay of flickering static, an endless pan over a computer-generated landscape. Words cannot even describe the number of techniques in play here, most of which serve no purpose other than as a sort of directorial “hey, look what I can do!” In terms of the technical implementation, they might very well be flawless, but I’ll be damned if I can see a reason for their awkward inclusion. The OVA is actually at its best when none of these are employed. The halls and darkened storage rooms of Eiri’s store, with antiques stacked around him like tombstones, are a lot more unsettling than the tactless barrage of seizure-inducing effects.
If you’re the type to look at the staff listing, you might be able to guess that there’s one aspect of Cossette that is tough to complain about, and that’s the music. Yuki Kajiura does what she does best: Sweeping modern orchestral compositions backed by chanted vocals, intricate piano melodies, soft and haunting atmospheric noise. The soundtrack sounds great both in the context of the OVA and on its own. It doesn’t sound as clear or as polished as her later work, but it’s arguably as good as any other musical score she’s been involved with, and that should say just about everything; it’s grade-A, plain and simple. It’s not terribly difficult to label the soundtrack as Cossette’s strongest element. Imagine judging a dog show where the only contestants are a beautiful golden retriever and a dead possum. That’s the choice I had to make.
Harsh words all around, and yet, that number does say five, which is far from the worst available score. Cossette might have inexcusably poor writing, but it does have some technical merits to fall back on, and I’ll begrudgingly admit that it’s a captivating watch even though the visuals are obnoxious. It’s also a very creative idea, and while that idea ultimately isn’t capitalized on, I can tell that it is trying to make an ambitious statement about art and the nature of human interaction with art. This thematic material isn’t handled well at all, but the fact that there’s even any thematic material worth mentioning in the first place is something. In a word, Cossette is a mess, and I really can’t give it the most enthusiastic praise, but creativity and ambition are present, and if nothing else, it’s certainly a unique piece of work.
She is Essential. She is Beautiful. She is Perfection. She is a Muse.
If the perceived perfection is identified as genuine, is it not irresponsible to allow ne plus ultra beauty to be squandered to the inexorable flow of time? Marchello Orlando, a man obsessed with the unparalleled beauty of his “lover,” believed it immoral to permit such beauty to wither away — even if it required the assassination of the angelic person, whom he professed his adoration. For Marchello, terminating inimitable elegance was paramount in the pursuit of “preserving” his masterwork(s). But art is not an exercise in preservation, rather it’s a rendition of singular moments/conceptions that are ever-fleeting. The art, itself, is preserved, but the transient process is lost to the annals of time. Eiri Kurahashi, a young artist who becomes entranced by Cossette d’Auvergne’s haunting beauty, discovers the ennui of drawing a pseudo preservation of Marchello’s “divine” deed. In a physical and emotional catharsis, Eiri uses his own blood to paint a stunning portrait of his tormenting muse. Signifying Eiri’s denial of Marchello’s notion of preservation, in lieu of acknowledging the muse for what she really is (a human being), and not for what she represents (perfection personified).
The porcelain doll shedding tears of blood, was the surrealistic representation of how Marchello viewed Cossette. It is said that “the eyes are the windows of the soul,” and given that the doll (Cossette) has no eyes, she, invariably, has no soul. By virtue of his blood pact with Cossette, Eiri offers his own soul as a form of reparation for “his” past ill deeds. He is, after all, the reincarnation of Marchello. The man who rejected Cossette’s life, for his own idealistic vision. Of course, Eiri suffers extensively for his “past” transgressions, in a myriad of chilling scenes with hauntingly beautiful artwork. Screeching violins go hand and hand with the gothic aesthetic, creating a melancholic atmosphere to accentuate Eiri’s gruesome retribution.
Cossette, inadvertently, gives inspiration to her “two lovers,” but while Marchello takes her gift and forsakes her for it; Eiri, on the other hand, returns the favor by giving his blood (the necessary fluid of human life) to affirm her existence as valuable, and not merely the object for which one derives self-actualization. Eiri, after 250 years, releases Cossette from her bondage of eternal “preservation,” by rejecting the flawless imposter (the muse, if you will) for the release of the real Cossette from her unsought constraints; thus, allowing her soul to transcend the intermediary world and finally be at peace.
The emancipation of Cossette absolved Eiri from his own misguided idealism. Empowering him to break free from his self-created muse infatuation, and, hopefully, learn to foster an emotionally symbiotic relationship. Eiri (Marchello) deluded himself in the pursuit of capturing impeccable beauty; thus, dissociating himself from the pivotal social interactions of his everyday life.
1: Shin Getter Robo
English: New Getter Robo
MAL Score: 7.36
Humanity is under attack by demonic creatures called Oni. Unable to fight back by any other means, the scientist Dr. Saotome creates a series of giant robots that harness the mysterious power of Getter Rays, giving them the strength necessary to fight the Oni. The strongest of these is Getter Robo, and Saotome must enlist three very different men to pilot it – martial artist Ryoma Nagare, criminal leader Hayato Jin, and monk Benkei Musashibou. Together, the Getter Team fights to end the Oni menace forever.
As a person who only sporadically saw Getter Robo and never read the manga especially it’s version of Shin Getter Robo (which I’ve heard was way better), what makes this OVA stand out was that it actually implemented many of the elements from Gunbuster which is one of my favorite anime.
The overall events never matched up to how Gunbuster was but at the same time the fact that this was a classic Super Robot series with a very conclusive respectful “death” of the original iconic three speaks volumes for why this is an outstanding anime.
In the end, Shin Getter Robo is not for everyone even including hardcore Super Robot fans but for me, it is certainly among the most epic series out there. The way the timeline shifts, the character evolves, the annoyances of typical characters toned down…I stick to what I said in my original sentence. Sometimes there are shows where you can criticize the show because of it’s genre but sometimes there are shows that are presented in such a way that it’s like criticizing Batman for wearing his underwear outside which is different from criticizing his having nipples.
Shin Getter Robo has many parallels to the dark iteration of Batman. What many non-fans or even hardcore fans may see as psychotic poorly written turn of events for violence’s sake, I see as near-perfectly shifting cookie cutter heroes into charismatic anti-heroes that would strongly appeal to even general classic Super Robot fans who didn’t watch the original series.
The story of New Getter Robo is definitely not its forte. Rather than focusing on actual storytelling, the plot mostly just seems like an excuse to pit the three violent and near-psychotic men against legions unfortunate foes. While this may put off some viewers, it does make for plenty of screen time featuring the getter team turning its enemies into bloody smears on the ground, with or without their trusty super robot. Think of New Getter Robo as a Power Rangers series that kids were never meant to watch — if you like the monster-of-the-week feel that is light on the plotting, you should be able to enjoy what New Getter Robo offers.
The characters, on the other hand, are definitely the strength of the series. The three protagonists are simply, for the lack of a better word, badass. There is never a dull moment while watching the trio pulverize oni large and small, because you can see their love for the job when they shout those iconic phrases such as "Change Getter One!" asvthe catchy battle theme boom from your speakers. Though neither deep nor complex, Ryoma, Hayate, and Benkei are perfect for New Getter Robo, which happens to be a simple and straightforward story.
The art style featured in this series is nostalgic yet dynamic. Sketch lines are used for shading, much like older anime series’, but the use of thick lines in the rendering of each scene creates a bold sensation that makes it feel larger than life. However, though that animation is crisp and clean, the amount of detail is rather low. Background art never goes beyond being functional, the frame rate never enters the realm of smooth, and the transformation sequences are either reused or omitted. Though the style and limitations of New Getter Robo’s animation certainly does add to the air of nostalgia, it does put the production value of the series into question.
The amount of enjoyment derived from New Getter Robo depends strongly on personal taste. If you enjoy shows of the super robot genre such as mazingkaiser and other Go Nagai classics, or if you just want some action that is light on thinking, New Getter Robo is definitely worth a look. But if the idea of watching three grizzled men in colorful tights fighting in a giant robot only evoke thoughts of ridicule in your mind, chances are, this is not for you.
Getter Robot is one of the most popular fuses and my experience watching the anime was quite satisfactory, despite the series having only 13 episodes I think the ending was interesting.
The animation by Getter Robo reminds me a lot of the cartoon animation of The Big O, despite being inconsistent in some specific moments, the animation in the end managed to please my expectations.
The characters are the strongest point of the work and I really like how they have different personalities, that is, they are the type of characters that many people end up liking right from the start, but there are others that don’t really like these types of characters.
The soundtrack even though it is the same as Opening, they can make a good impression at the time of battles and even get nostalgic at times, but I think the anime could have a variation of Osts.
About the design of Getter Robo, well … I thought it was really cool and it is completely different from the other strands that I’m used to seeing .. And to those who like strands with overpowers characters I think you could take a look at the anime, and to those who don’t like it, I recommend to go far.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Shin Getter Robo
2. Cossette no Shouzou
4. Hitsuji no Uta
5. Teizokurei Daydream