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 Chouja Raideen, Dragon Ball GT, Ougon Yuusha Goldran, and more!
9: Chouja Raideen
MAL Score: 6.29
Hishou, Ginga, Ace, Hayate, and Ikazuchi all work at a studio doing various idol-related jobs at the request of their manager, Reiko. But in reality, these five teenagers are really the Reideens, a group of superheroes who fight the Super Devils sent by Lushu, a mysterious being. Little do the Reideens know, these Super Devils are being sent for a more important purpose…
Reideen the superior doesn’t have much to do with the original show and stands on it’s own. It’s basically Tekkaman Meets Saint Seiya, but has elements from Brave raideen, so you might as well judge it for what it is.
The plot is pretty basic early on, typical Good vs evil scenario. The first half of the show is Monster of the week afair, but I’d say it’s done well, since it kinda builds upon the plot. The 2nd half takes a different direction and I’d say it’s more interesting than the 2nd half since the cast is giving more to do, and it ends on a pretty good note as well.
The characters are pretty alright, There are the Main 5 raideens who have stereotypical personalities, but I think they work alright in the show and never felt too dull or annoying. There are the rival raideens who are one of 2 major problems with the show, Not because they are bad characters, but they never tell their motivation to the main cast, until like halfway through, which is beyond dumb. There is also the idol girl, who isn’t a bad character, but She causes the biggest plot hole, which is how is she able to see the monsters, when no one else is? There is never a reason given at all and that hurts the show.
Animation is above average for the time, looks nice, but it’s not gonna blow your mind, outside of the final several episodes which looked really nice. However the use of CGI looks pretty dated. I quite like the raideen armors a lot, They are essentially bird versions of tekkaman blade and that’s nice. However the highlight is the God Reideen, which is a great updated design to the original Raideen.
Sound Fairs about the same, the cast does a good job, though Reika’s gets kinda grating to listen to. I really dig the OPs a lot, which are probably some of the better mech OPs of the 90s In my opinion, the rest of the music is pretty solid too and fits the show very well.
Chouja reideen may have not a lot to with the original and is kind of an Odd entry into it’s series, but I honestly enjoyed watching it. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s an interesting curiosity back in sunrise’s past, and I’d say give it a shot.
You have 5 basic protagonist. They have a story but it’s a very light one, they never enter into details or characters episodes in which they struggle because of something in particular (except for the main character). There are hints of a deep story in them but it’s never told (Ikazuchi with his childhood friend, for example). They used the episodes only for battles with random monsters and that’s just sad. You can’t relate with them (even tho they have a very good design and a decent base).
And when you think they could do better with them, suddenly, 5 more guys make theis appearance in the show. If the main protagonists are basic and have just a little backgound story you can imagine this other 5 guys… we barelly get to known their names and that’s it (except for one of them because he’s related with the main character, but we only get to know a briefly part of that story, so…)
And about the story, it’s just chaotic. The first 28 episodes are the typical “let’s fight this one chapter monster!” and, well, it’s ok. We have a bad guy, we have a motivation… but then episode 28 happens and everything stop making sense. I’ll not do a spoiler, but they waste 7 episodes for an irrelevant plot that could be fixed in just 2 and the last 2 chapters are the final battle, in which we see things that doesn’t make any sense with the previous information that we had.
This show was like someone wrote the first 28 and then another person that doesn’t know anything about the show made the rest of them looking for something, anything, to complete de 38 episodes.
8: Dragon Ball GT
English: Dragon Ball GT
MAL Score: 6.46
Emperor Pilaf finally has his hands on the Black Star Dragon Balls after years of searching, which are said to be twice as powerful as Earth’s normal ones. Pilaf is about to make his wish for world domination when he is interrupted by Gokuu Son. As a result, Pilaf flubs his wish and accidentally turns Gokuu back into a child.
After the wish is granted, the Black Star Dragon Balls scatter across the galaxy. However, Gokuu discovers that they will cause the Earth to explode unless they are all brought back within a year. Uniting with his granddaughter Pan and a young adult Trunks, Gokuu sets off on an adventure through the universe to find the Black Star Dragon Balls and save his planet from destruction.
This review will be going into just about every plot hole, very F up, just about everything that is terrible and wrong in DBGT that I can find or remember.
*Just so you know, I am a GIGANTIC DBZ FANBOY, and I do know DBZ isn’t “perfect” and yes this review is nothing but a whinny nit-picking troll intended bash fest, so if you hate reading about hate or if you are not familiar with the majority of dragonball and most of the stuff that accurs before GT cause this review will spoil most of the “plot” of GT, then go ahead and click unhelpful *
STORY: Sequels, well they usually give justice to the original, or remind you that the original is as good as it gets.
Dragonball Z, anime franchise king, the big long winded battle, overrated fail, BEST ANIME EVAR!!, whatever your take on DBZ is, you can not deny it’s popularity, calling it a household name in Japan (And around the world) is more than an understatement.
Probably the best best comparison I can made is: DBZ is like Mario, everyone knows what is it is.
And of course one thing always happens when a series becomes popular, a sequel is made.
I remember when I found out about Dragonball GT, I went crazy! Fanboying like no tomorrow, but I was young and very easy to impress, and there was a side to me that wished DBZ never ended, and that Goku would continued to beat up baddies and fire Kamehamehas until the cows come home.
But enough of that.
I watched Funimation’s version, the one where they skipped the first 20 or so episodes, but that was actually a present in disguise because those episodes were just a laughable gimmacky version of a dragonball search from Dragonball, but instead they’re looking around the galaxy for the black star dragonballs!
Stop, I’m not going to ask what’s the difference between these black star dragonballs and the original ones cause I don’t give a damn, but I want to know why are they there.
From how DBGT explains it, the black star dragon balls were an extra set of dragonballs that Kami, the namekian guardian of the earth before dende, made for no apparent reason.
Hold on… Wasn’t the earth destroyed by Kidd Buu? I’ll explain this F up, you see when Kidd Buu destroyed the earth at the end of DBZ, they had to use the Namekian dragonballs to bring the planet back to normal… but before that, Super Buu destroyed the lookout(Where Popo and Dende live at), where these balls are said to be.
If memory serves me right, Dende had to recreate the Dragonballs again cause they got destroyed along with the earth… So no one except Dende could’ve made them, but it’s pointed out that Kami made them… Sooooooo yeah, if you look at it this way, DBGT is completely non canon.
Next let’s talk about the first major villian, Baby, who’s name is impossible to take serious, I mean I laugh every time one of the characters say his name with anger or seriousness.
Baby’s er… Babie’s (I’m not sure how to write that) story is that he is the last of the race called the tuffles, and that he seeks revenge against the saiyans…
Wait a minute, something like this had already happened, although it was non canon, there was an ova about the last creation of the tuffles trying to get revenge on the saiyans, and said ova was made years before GT.
Unoriginality is one thing, but to use the same concept twice shows that there was no creative thought used in the making of this anime.
Anyway, after Baby gets his ass whooped twice, he goes to Earth and starts to take control of everybodies minds (Except Hercule, Buu, and Uub… and Piccolo). Mainly Vegeta’s, and the result of baby taking over his mind? You get the worst named villian of all of Dragonball, Baby Vegeta… probably the least threatening name of a villian next to Buu.
Next up the Super 17 saga… which needs to be renamed the Fan Service saga.
This is without a doubt the most shallow part of DBGT, premise; all hell breaks loose on earth, literally! And the main characters have to go around the world rekilling their old foes (Except Baby for some reason) even the ones from the movies.
Oh my god, once again GT takes a pre existed plot, this time from the DBZ movie Fusion Rebirth, and just switches a few things around like who is fusing into a super fighter, actually both the movie and GT seem to rip off the OVA, cause they all feature villians coming back to life, except the OVA was the one that had the original concept of revived villians for the series.
The main villian this time is Android 17, 2 of them actually that fuse together into a super android named, heh, super 17.
I’m tired of naming similiarites between GT and the movies, cause fusing androids had already been used in the DBZ movie, Super Android 13.
Usual DBZ plot setups accur, super 17 beats every one to death until Goku arrives and Goku uses a last resort attack to beat him. But before any of that happens, two notable things happen:
1. Goku goes to hell and fights Frieza and Cell in a goofy battle, and Goku gets sends sent further down to hell with filler episodes.
and 2, An android 17 that already exists on earth (Which is actually canon, because Krillian, after the Cell games saga, wishes android 17 back to life but this part is pretty easy to over look), kills Krillian just to piss off android 18. This part really irritates me alot actually, just piece together what I said in this paragraph, and you’ll understand.
And last but not least, the Evil Dragon saga, which isn’t that bad actually.
While the villians revived on the last saga were on earth, their negative energy corrupted the dragonballs making them crack and when they gathered them together to make a wish, instead of shenron appearing, an evil dragon appears and spreads the dragonballs along with 7 evil dragons around the earth.
So Goku and his granddaughter, Pan, basicly just go around killing each dragon and taking each dragonball from each evil dragon, simple and probably the best arc GT has to offer.
But these is where I need to point something out, GT does not know what mood to take, sometimes it gets really serious and dark, then next episode it gets so silly and whimsical that the first dragonball series seems more mature, never does it get into a comforable middle of these moods like DBZ does.
I know I haven’t touched everything yet (like super saiyan 4 for instance, or how Goku gets turned into a kid, sigh) but I feel like I have made my point.
Except I will actually admit there is ONE thing and one thing only that GT actually does better than Z.
And that is: The relevancy of the dragon balls, unlike Z where they simply used to bring people back to life, the dragon balls are so important to the plot that three of the major story arcs are heavily affected by the dragon balls, especially the shadow dragons arc.
ANIMATION: I know it’s a pre 2000’s anime, but even DBZ looks better than most of GT’s animation.
SOUND: This is the only thing I’ll say it’s decent, Funimation’s dub cast returns to repraise their roles, making the dub more than tolerable.
Hahahahaha, except the really stupid rap for the opening theme.
+ It’s another dragonball adventure, and dbz fanbase loses its shit.
+ The dragon balls are actually important to the plot.
– Completely unoriginal
– Doesn’t know what mood to take
– More plot holes than a fan fiction
– It’s another dragonball adventure, and dbz fanbase goes insane (DBAF)
The one major thing that Dragonball GT suffers from is an identity crisis. It starts off as a primarily comedy anime with action as a secondary, something that worked very well for Dragonball and occasionally worked here as well. Unfortunately, the series received poor ratings, mainly because everyone wanted more action and less goofing off. At about Episode 17, the focus shifted from comedy to action, and that’s also when the plot started to suffer. It’s difficult to be original when one uses plot devices that have been seen in so many other anime, not to mention done better. And as well all know, with a lack of originality comes boredom. At least this series is "only" 64 episodes in length, so it’s not as much of a chore to sit through as, say, Dragonball Z.
On an more positive note, the art and animation received a nice upgrade. Some of the character designs are a bit iffy, but it’s still passable. The music is also rather good, especially the opening, DAN DAN Kokoro Hikareteku, and all four endings. I can safely say that I enjoy listening to all five songs on a regular basis. The fights are enjoyable more often than not, though once again, I’ve seen better…much better.
It may be far from perfect, but Dragonball GT at least makes an attempt to be entertaining. If you still want to watch, then by all means, go for it. Just don’t expect too much, and enjoy the opening and endings as they come.
Story- I hear and read all the time about how “awful” the story is. Ok I admit, if the whole show was like the after Goku turns into a kid but before the fight on Planet M-2 I would have trashed this show. But, it’s not at all! The fight on M-2 really took everything up a couple of notches, the idea was so cool and of course the infamous Baby villain was introduced. Everything starts to fall into place for the Baby and Goku fight and c’mon… SS4 is one of the coolest transformations in the whole series, even if you knew it was coming. The Super 17 saga was very dark and powerful. It was short lived but it needed the DBZ aspect to come back and give GT some more life and add a good intro to the Black Dragon saga. I get very confused when people say “I don’t like this saga”. I don’t mind your opinion but you gotta give a reason… Some of the dragons were lame but the last fight was one of the best in DragonBall, DBZ and DBGT because of the power of Omega Shenron, the “thing” that happens with Goku and Vegeta (for those of you that don’t know I wont spoil) and just the magnitude of the fight was epic. So what are the bad parts of the story??? Pacing in the beginning was an issue. It was slow and boring to start off and that’s a big turn off for people and then they are ready to bash on all the bad that comes next and if they do that, they overlook the good. Also there’s a character problem but let’s wait till I get there.
Art- This is weird but the art in the Baby arc and Super 17 arc was worse than the art of DBZ. Then it seemed like it changed a little for the final arc but it wasn’t spectacular. I don’t get bothered with bad art because I am in it for the story but I have to admit, seeing that an anime’s prequel had better art than it did bothered the hell outta me. If you are someone that hates average or older looking art work than take caution.
Sound- I enjoyed the sound… it didn’t copy all of DBZ’s tracks (Thank GOD!) and I thought the opening is brilliant. The Dub is ok, I do not like kid goku and when he transforms and Sean Schemmel’s voice comes back it’s like heaven. Sound is really hard to judge.. I don’t think I’ve ever watched something with bad sound and I hope I never do haha. But it was average no complaints accept for some annoying Dub voices.
Character- UGH! I am sure I am not alone on this. If I had two big problems on the show that I could rant about is 1.) why is Pan the most annoying character ever put on a screen… and 2.) why is it that no one accept for Goku and Vegeta can put up a fight? Everyone who was strong in DBZ is suddenly weak? Confusing nonetheless. The only reason I am not putting this lower is because of Goku, Vegeta, Uub, and the villains of the story.
So, DBGT. Everyone loves to hate it. If you’re someone who has watched DB and DBZ but you fear GT because of the reviews take it from me. If you try and compare GT to the first two you are going to want to never watch it again, there isn’t really a comparison. Take GT for what it is. It’s a not so serious mood of some cool fights and new transformations. The ending is very heart felt and can make some tear up, if they got one thing right the ending of GT was as perfect as ever. Even the last movies was amazing and heart felt. Don’t hate GT until you find both the good and bad. Give it the credit it deserves, it’s not the biggest screw up of anime, it’s just a decent final chapter to everyone’s favorite hero Goku. Don’t hate GT plz, give GT some love!
7: Ougon Yuusha Goldran
English: The Brave of Gold Goldran
MAL Score: 6.83
Goldran follows the adventures of three young boys who are tasked with finding alien robot fighters, or Braves, that are sleeping in the form of crystals. Their major antagonist is the flamboyant and thoroughly incompetent Walter, and the villains that follow him are often similarly humorous.
I watched Goldran in Cantonese so the experience I get may be a little different than you, but it is the same anime. Goldran is really childish, soft-hearted, and not the serious mecha fight anime.
The robot combinations are pretty darn impressive, And everyone of them with a “heart of gold” (LIKE TOTALLY GREAT guys, character) THEY DO LOOK INCREDIBLE !!!
The Goldran robots are initially sealed in power stones scattered across the globe. Most of the robot team are unlocked early on by the kids in the anime. Within countless battles are the bonds that grow and the strength to fight together.
And finally the second half, the REAL adventure begins. And a deeper friendship path.
tl;dr The Goldrans that appear are SUPER INCREDIBLE ROBOTS !!!
6: YAT Anshin! Uchuu Ryokou
Japanese: ＹＡＴ 安心！宇宙旅行
MAL Score: 7.00
The emergence of the dimensional tunnel sets the background for a new space era in which space travelling can be designated to planets outside the solar system. Hoshiwatari Goro is a space traveller who goes in search for his father whose whereabouts are shrouded with obscurity. His only link to his father is an old photograph. In order to attain his goal, Goro participates in a young space travelling company known as “YAT” which organises tours to different planets. However, in the midst of his journey, he was involved in an accident which resulted in the destruction of the spaceship. As a form of compensation, he had to work for YAT and this sparks off a train of space adventures for him.
5: After War Gundam X
English: After War Gundam X
MAL Score: 7.32
When one space colony declared its independence from the Earth Federation, the devastating 7th Space War, an all-out war between Earth and space, resulted. The Federation responded to the Space Revolutionary Army with mobile suits, called Gundams. However, the Space Revolutionary forces played their trump card and dropped hundreds of space colonies onto the Earth, plunging the planet into a seven-year-long nuclear winter. The Federation collapsed, but the Space Revolutionary Army was unable to invade the Earth in the aftermath of the colony drop.
Fifteen years have passed. The year is now After War 0015, and a New Federation has sprung up on Earth to restore order. In space, the colonial leaders have been rebuilding their own forces as well. By chance, fifteen-year-old Garrod Ran has discovered an old Federation mobile suit, the Gundam X, and now he uses it to help out the Vulture ship Freeden in its struggle to keep the powers that be from repeating the mistakes of the past.
It’s a damn shame that After War Gundam X is the least popular of all the Gundam shows, because it really is an impressive piece of work and probably one of, if not the best of Gundam spinoffs. It has the realism that Wing does not, the maturity missing from SEED, and the extra kick lacking in 00. The only Gundam since the original to be cancelled, and to be honest that’s the biggest fault X has. You can’t help but wonder what could’ve been if only that episode count reached 50.
At the start of the show we meet Garrod Ran, a young mercenary of only 15 years of age and lets just say, he does some pretty amazing stuff for a guy his age. After taking a rescue job he meets the target, Tiffa Adill, a mysterious young newtype girl. However, upon learning that his employer would only exploit her for her abilities, Garrod turns on him and joins the very group he “rescued” her from, the mercenary ship “Freeden”. With the help of Tiffa’s abilities, the crew of the Freeden continues their search to help any newtypes who are being unjustly used by others.
Gundam X has one very crucial element that no other Gundam spinoff does. It feels like a U.C. show. In the world of Gundam X, the colonists have seemingly dropped all of the colonies down to the Earth as opposed to just one, and the human population is relatively miniscule. Because of this, many people consider the After War universe to be an alternate reality to the Universal Century, as opposed to a standalone universe such as the Cosmic Era from SEED or the Future Century from G Gundam.
Without spoiling anything I have to point out again that Gundam X ended 11 episodes early at episode 39 as opposed to 50. Because of this a lot of people feel the ending is rushed. I have to disagree to an extent. Although the ending moves very fast(quite a bit happens in those last 8 episodes in very little time) it wraps things up quite nicely and I can’t but feel that’s almost exactly how the original ending would’ve gone. Still, I’d love to see those missing 11 episodes.
The art style is good, but let’s just say the animation could’ve had a better budget for its time. Roughly the same quality as Wing. Definitely the biggest negative to X in the aesthetics department, but it’s more good than bad. The gundam designs are pretty outlandish, but for how badass they look, they aren’t invincible, unlike the SEED and Wing gundams, which is great. The Freeden pilots have an uphill battle ahead of them.
Great voice acting and one hell of a score. The Gundam X openings (by the amazing group Romantic Mode) are some of my favorite openings in all the anime I’ve seen, and in regards to the ending credits, I rarely sit through ending credits but for this show I made an exception. The three ending themes(two of them are different language versions of the same song) are some the best that I’ve ever heard used in anything, anime or otherwise. As for the score, I’m always humming one or two tracks here and there. Great soundtracks.
At first I thought this was the biggest weakness Gundam X had. A few episodes later and I was proved wrong. All I can say without spoiling you is that it’s definitely enough character development. At first the show seems to be only about Tiffa and Garrod, but over time it focuses on other characters well enough. Tiffa and Garrod are still the most important characters, but it doesn’t terribly overshadow the anyone else. There are still flaws, such as expanding on a few bit characters who don’t show up for more than 10 minutes of screen time, and the Frost Brothers up until the last arc, but overall it’s all good.
Gundam X is definitely not the best Gundam show, but damn if it isn’t the most likeable. It’s hard to hate this show. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s one hell of a ride from start to finish. Garrod in particular is just an amazingly well done protagonist. He’s impossible to hate, and he’s always believable. He’s extremely street smart, but not a genius; very skilled in battle but not exactly soldier by any sense of the word. From the very first episode, he is kicking things in gear and you just want to strap yourself in for the roller coaster ride he’s going to deliver.
I like to refer to Gundam X as the Daft Punk of Gundam. Anyone who’s experienced it can’t hate it in the least. I give it a 9 because hell, I can’t deny how much fun I had. I enjoyed this more than G Gundam, and that’s saying a hell of a lot. A great balance of the always enjoyable shonen heroism while still keeping that tomino-esque reality that the original gundams had. You can even find some parallels between X and Tomino’s own Crossbone Gundam graphic novel, strangely enough. If you can watch After War Gundam X, then do so. Chances are you won’t be disappointed.
But other than that, it still retains the other characteristics from other Gundam series, and redefines and advances them. Garoad you can say is more of a modern day interpretation of Judeau Ashita from Double Zeta. He’s young, but he’s a guy who is out doing his job and circumstances just led him to where he is. What’s also unique is that he’s not a newtype but yet, he just naturally develops his piloting skills. Tifa’s character was just new to me, and I felt the nature of her character felt out of place for Gundam, but because this isn’t the original Gundam and the intention was to go for something different and new, I felt she just simply served her purpose though I don’t personally call her a top 5 female Gundam character. And as usual, the series will still have villains and antagonists you can relate to which the Frost bros do well at. The series does have some interesting twists and turns that will keep you guessing in relation to the characters and the overall story. I feel that because it’s uniquely both characteristically and not characteristically Gundam at the same time give a new distinction it’s trademark characteristics.
Well, this series premiered after Gundam Wing, so most of the color schemes and gimmicks of the mechs will probably not really stand out since it mostly follows the approach that Gundam Wing has. But I guess some of the features of the GX where its main weapon needs to be powered by a satellite brings a new element to the engineering and the firepower that hasn’t been used in past sagas makes it more fresh. And as I stated earlier, the mechs in general don’t have any qualities that are necessarily fresh or new. Like the Leopard is pretty much a green colored firearms, and the design of the GX looks like the Wing Gundam but with a different set of wings.
The character designs mostly in relation to the costume are a little wilder than your typical Gundam series, thus giving some reflection to its post apocalyptic nature. But other than that, you have generic bishounen and bishoujo designs but very tolerable. My favorite design is that of Jamil with a modern day old school approach. He wears a very ancient military style uniform, and his side burns and hair style is something more characteristic of a 1970s anime hero. And Tanya is just simply hot.The character design is nothing really cutting edge but still appropriate for its setting at some capacity. The battles are pretty interesting since a majority of this Gundam series takes place on Earth and I was wondering if there was ever going to be any traditional space battles, which has always been an iconic trait of the franchise. But I feel that the engineering and the gimmicks of the Gundams presented justified keeping the battles on earth territory for most of the series. But the battles are still intense and they excellently know how to apply land and air war fare with a different approach with more reliance on transforming mechs.
Personally, I loved Takagi Wataru’s unique approach to playing Garoad Ran. Even though he’s achieved world fame as Onizuka Eikichi from GTO, I loved how he still retained his nasal voice and make Garoad come across as a teenager and as a wise ass. I thought it was a very brilliant performance. Granted Garoad has comedic traits, I think Takagi’s addition who mostly does comedy roles does a great job in a more serious role such as this one himself. I think Jamil’s voice actor, Horiuchi Kenyuu who is famous as playing Raiden in the Metal Gear Solid games brought a unique charisma to his character and also made him sound very intimidating. And another unique actress is Mitsuishi Kotono, who was also still playing Sailor Moon at the time is also the voice of Tanya, the bridge captain. Later she would come back to Gundam SEED. as the Captain of the Archangel. With her role in Gundam X, she brought Misato’s party girl side to her character.
The music is just intense and beautiful. The opening theme DREAMS just has this militaristic feel with how it opens, but yet transitions to this powerful song about hope and determination, and the ending themes sung in English sound like Love Lift Us Where We Belong, but brought a refreshing feel to the series. The background music is very appropriate for the series.
Well, sadly, this Gundam had to be cut due to low ratings, but I heard that this series is finding rejuvenation in Japan with the DVD releases and people are appreciating it more. Artistically as I said earlier, it really does nothing to advance Gundam but I think it still maintained its spirit and really brought a unique and distinctive redefinition to some of its original foundation. Such as the themes and concepts behind the series with new types was what made it unique and was first brought into an alternate universe of Gundam which would later be brought back in SEED which I think they did a bad job of that concept in that series. I say it is required to have some familiarity with the original Gundam to understand the origin of its concepts such as colony drops and newtypes, and some familiarity with Gundam Wing to understand the mech design and style. This is something truly made for Gundam fans, and I think this is probably something that a casual anime fan or a hardcore anime fan that isn’t into Gundam could probably handle.
In a technical sense, the art, music and sound effects are roughly equal to Gundam Wing. They were produced back to back, so this is expectable. If you’ve seen Gundam Wing, then you know what Gundam X looks and sounds like.
What really sets Gundam X apart, especially from its immediate predecessor, is its characters. Gundam X is full of characters that you can actually care about. In particular, Garrod and Tifa’s relationship is extremely genuine and endearing. This is quite a feat for a genre of anime not particularly well known for being able to develop a believable romance.
The plot of Gundam X is well paced, keeping a good momentum and tension throughout. Each episode tends to leave you hanging, and craving more. This structure worked well for Escaflowne, and it works very well here too.
Overall, don’t write this Gundam off just because you heard it got canceled. I consider this the best of the AU Gundam series, and enjoy it on the same level as the original series. Any Gundam or mecha fan should see this series.
4: Saber Marionette J
English: Saber Marionette J
MAL Score: 7.34
In the distant future, since the Earth has become overpopulated, efforts to find and colonize on other planets have begun. However, one of the ships, the “Mesopotamia” malfunctions and all but 6 of its inhabitants are all killed. the remaining 6 manage to escape to a nearby planet named “Terra ll “, which is similar to Earth in many respects. However, all of them are male. Therefore, as to not let their efforts go to waste, they begin to set up 6 countries and to reproduce through cloning and genetic engineering. however, there are still no women, and to make up for it they create lifelike advanced female androids called “Marionettes” which do everyday chores and work. However, they are all emotionless machines. But one day, a ordinary boy named Otaru finds and awakens 3 special battle type Marionettes that have emotions due to a “Maiden Circuit” within them. It’s up to him then to teach them and allow their emotions to grow, and when a nearby country threatens with world domination, it’s up to to Otaru and his “human” Marionettes to protect their country.
The story revolves around Otaru Mamiya and his three Marionettes named Lime, Cherry and Bloodberry, but they are not just an ordinary ordinary marionettes, they have a system called “Maiden Circuit” that act like the source of their emotion thats why they can laugh and cry. A futuristic setting in a planet named Terra – II in the country of Japones where there are no female and all male are born from cloning. Female was replaced by Female machine called Marionettes. Thus begin their wacky adventure under one roof. The gags are old but still funny specially when the punchline is hanagata. The story is not always about humor, there is drama also, its the main point of the story on how the three marionette grows emotionally thru happiness and hardship. The anime’s story is slow pace but not boring so you will have time to enjoy how the it will develop.
Meet Otaru a normal boy who live a normal life, kind and hard working . One day he accidentally activated a Marionette named Lime. Lime a marionette with a cute and childish personality, always eat and play around and loves Otaru a lot. She’s my favorite marionette because whenever she’s around the surrounding become cheerful. Next is Cherry the second marionette Otaru awakened. She always give a maiden aura, in cuteness i think its in par with Lime. She loves to cook and more importantly loves to daydream about his master Otaru.The third was Bloodberry, she’s a how should i say it… a muscle woman? Well she’s not as cute as the first two but she emits an older woman aura, she has the biggest breast among the three and loves to seduce Otaru. For side character, let see, hmm… Hanagata hes a loser so lets forgot about him (Hanagata: What did you just say?) just joking, he always introduce himself as Otaru’s bestfriend, a pesky character who appears anywhere near Otaru.
Otaru, his design is quite simple, passable for a normal character.For the character design of the three marionettes, Lime, since she loves to move around designing loose costume fits nicely with her character. Cherry, she’s loves doing housework so the cutely designed pink kimono si looks good in her. Bloodberry with the blood on her red suits her best, well only her hair is red, she got the most daring design because of her nicely proportioned body and big-sister like character.
The Opening song is good, you will like it the more you listened to it. Same goes for the Ending song, with a great visualization it will make you listened to the song as well. For The Seiyuu’s, I really like the japanese voice for Lime, Megumi Hayashibara. It match perfectly with Limes personality, cute and playful. I dont like the english dub, it gives a kind of feeling that its not Lime-like. Same goes with Cherry, i like her polite voice. When u talk about Bloodberry, that means Power, power in the voice but with a sweetness of an older women and the seiyuu deliver it nicely.
After many years of not seeing this anime (10 years +) it give me a nostalgic feeling and with that i enjoy it a lot. I laughed in the funny scenes and got teary in those touching moment. I couldn’t ask for more… 😀
if u read some weird grammar, its my bad haha, ore ningen da mono~
The premise of the series is that sometime in the future, a group of 6 explorers made an emergency crash onto the Planet of Terra. There was the inconvenient problem that they landed without any females. Rather than wither off on this distant planet, the six decided to make clones of themselves, and thus repopulated the planet, but without females. The compensation for the lack of females is the development of female-appearing robots called marionettes, who can function like a human, but can’t experience feelings of their own, except, that is, for a few special marionettes whom our intrepid protagonist discovers, leading to ever more grand adventures until the fate of the planet is at stake.
A few complaints with this show are that it has a very obvious plot, most of the jokes aren’t funny, an irritating worm put in for comic relief really degrades this series, and a lot of the story is patronizing. I think this series is made especially for kids. The OP & ED are quite catchy, the animation is bad by today’s standards, and the characters are a bit flat. It’s still good clean fun though, worth watching with popcorn and friends.
It came to be this way because of an accident on a colonization ship that left six men alive on the surface, and they use genetics to populate the planet of Terra II. The direct clones of the six survivors rule the six nations that exist on the planet, Otaru being from Japoness which looks like feudal Japan.
Otaru tries to grow the personality of the three Marionettes throughout the series while having to deal with Gartland’s (Germany during World War II) ruler Faust and his own set of three Marionettes. The story is alright if you don’t have a problem with small details that could be considered giant plot holes with a lot of thought.
The art is dated even for a show from 12 years ago. The marionettes look vibrant, but completely out of place. The backgrounds of the other nations seemed to have been picked because they are easier to depict. Action scenes look merely average. It’s not horrific, but it would be hard to call it good.
Characters are a much stronger point. Otaru is not your typical male harem lead. The marionettes show diversity in character as the series progress from one-dimensional to something more.
Overall, Saber Marionette J is a solid, if not spectacular, series. It sets the table well for the OVA and second series that followed, though a conclusion could have been provided in this series if they really would have wanted it.
3: Kidou Senkan Nadesico
English: Martian Successor Nadesico
MAL Score: 7.51
Akito doesn’t want to fight. Despite a childhood spent on the anime Gekiganger 3, a Mecha show, he’d rather cook than pilot a Mecha. Fate intervenes when his home on Mars is destroyed, and he is transported instantly to the Earth, mysteriously. He has questions no one can answer fully, but follows a girl from a chance meeting in hopes to discover any. The girl, Yurika, is captain of the private battleship Nadesico, and in order to follow her, he enlists as their cook. Possessing the nanite implants that allow to control mechas, he’s a handy backup pilot for the mechas of the Nadesico. He joins a crew bent on avenging Mars that seems to be composed of only misfits, otakus, and ditzes; however, in reality, they are handpicked experts. They take their own private war back to Mars to face the harsh reality that life may not always be like a Giant Mecha series.
Nadesico is a love letter to the space/mecha genre, both laughing at it and along with it with the same level of panache as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
It parodies the genre with clichés, and honours it by keeping to them itself. For example, Nadesico lampoons over the top sacrifices via its in-show 70’s/80’s inspired mecha anime ‘Gekigangar 3’ then does the same thing itself anyway, revelling in the genre trope. It has a young adult unwillingly thrust into a mecha on an almost daily basis, yet his mecha is pink for crying out loud.
It’s actually a smart comedy because beyond the love for the mecha genre they’re playing with, the writers are self-aware enough to acknowledge the details that a serious story would tackle, such as the (contractual) consequences of a corporation funding a military ship, funerals for the deceased, the effects of anime on viewers, and the different cultures of Earth, but never stopping the laughs along the way. They even justify the sillier stuff in the show such as having such an airhead for a captain, by again satirising corporate tendencies. (the concept of tailor-made captains because of technology handling the rest of the ship)
The backbone of this show, the factor that keeps it from descending into meaningless skit show histrionics is the attention to detail, on both a narrative level and thematic level. It has the enthusiasm for sci-fi so much that it goes to lengths to explain many of its technologies using nano-machines, cyber-networking and boson particle manipulation and any number of concepts that any avid reader of hard sci-fi will automatically recognise. Bear in mind this was released in the mid-90s before nano technology had hit the mainstream media as it has today, in the way it’s overridden nearly every mainstream sci-fi story as an explanation for fantastical stuff occurring on screen.
On top of that, the show for the most part avoids one of my own little pet peeves, that of ships in space taking hits from lasers and not blowing up instantly, as if they were back on Earth and only got hit by a few stray bullets. This little annoyance is avoided by the usage of actual force fields bouncing lasers off of the hulls. The animators even show waves in the ocean peeling backwards as the Nadesico hovers above.
It’s this trivial, yet much welcomed, attention to detail that helps elevate the anime above mere comedy. It’s not just about making you laugh, but immersing you in its world with consistency and delivering a genuinely engaging story. Rather than be a gimmick, the Gekigangar anime actually becomes more and more relevant to the main story in interesting ways that are better left unsaid in a review.
The story flows between cliché and creativity every five minutes constantly surprising you. Individuals who in no way belong on a ship are brought together anyway, characters who look like they’ll be in main roles are dispatched speedily, enemy ships get progressively stronger, generic alien bad guys are revealed to be not so faceless or generic after all, a brilliant time-jumping Memento-esque episode that riffs on Evangelion’s psychoanalytical finale in a humorous (yet always honourable) fashion also pops up, it’s just a complete mix.
And every single character on the Nadesico gets some level of development, which is no mean feat considering the comedic nature of the show. Even Nadesico’s successor, TTGL, didn’t develop every character to any kind of level (Leeron for example), so when Nadesico goes out of its way to give a little detail to the past of a random pilot who you figure is only there to give bad puns, well you really appreciate it.
The actual plot of Nadesico when you strip everything else away is actually pretty interesting, which is why the anime works, it’s built on a good foundation. What starts as a generic ‘faceless aliens invading Earth’ story ends with the characters and viewer not wanting a victory for either side at all. The Nadesico ship itself belongs to a corporation, hence justifying the motley crew of misfits and the airhead of a captain. Because their superior technology is mostly automatic the captain was chosen for her looks, tailor-made for the crew’s emotional wellbeing. It’s crazy, it’s cynical, but you just know corporations could be that stupid to do such a thing one day, obsessed as they are with end results and not the methodology to get there.
The mega corporation responsible for the Nadesico ship is also a brilliant way to force conflict and danger upon it, from both Earth’s self-defence forces who don’t like the idea of corporations messing with military matters, and of course the invading aliens who don’t like the Nadesico for its pesky meddling. This is much more interesting than having a generic plotline where a military ship goes ‘rogue’ for the billionth time in a sci-fi tale. (ok, that happens later as well) As the threats to Earth get larger, and more time passes, uneasy alliances are formed, love triangles are formed then imploded, revelations are uncovered, suppressed memories are, well, unsuppressed.
The first three episodes are perfection, throwing you headfirst into its pitch-perfect comedic tones with hilarious stuff involving humour on both a physical and meta level. The voice acting is oldschool 90’s assured goodness. Nadesico has some of the best and funniest ‘Engrish’ I’ve ever heard in anime. The soundtrack is also very decent; nothing too memorable except for the OP music, but the soundtrack isn’t too generic either.
So as stated earlier, Nadesico shares much in common with TTGL for its skill in blending irreverent humour with its homage to a very popular genre of anime, but a key difference between the two is that TTGL is not afraid of leaping outside the box and tossing physics to the side to bring almost-abstract comedic imagery, whereas Nadesico is always weighed down by consistent logic whether in physics or narrative.
This is to say, no matter what crazy stuff happens in Nadesico, unlike in TTGL, there’s always a reason behind it. In TTGL Kamina’s sword can stretch to infinity for no reason other than to make you laugh. In Nadesico, for example, there’s a reason why only certain people can boson jump, it’s not used for convenience’s sake. Nadesico is actually a better homage in that it uses meta-humour with the Gekigangar TV show, not for a gimmick but as part of the actual plot. Nadesico is actually a decent analysis and commentary on anime. The latter half of the show ups the drama and emotion, and pretty much blatantly celebrates the very medium itself with bold proclamations that are infectious.
Nadesico is an essential anime for sci-fi/comedy fans. Observe a young guy with suppressed memories get pushed around the solar system by a blue-haired witless captain of a White Base-ish ship blowing up insect-looking baddies while watching mecha anime in his spare time. The ending is far from cliché, however much it will leave some viewers disgruntled for its unresolved story, the fact is that everything of importance in the narrative actually IS resolved; it’s a cliché-avoiding ending that doesn’t resort to what Gekigangar, the mirror of most mecha anime, does.
It doesn’t force an ending on you with cheap happy shortcuts, Nadesico is better than this, going at its own assured pace always treating story and characters with respect. If you’re the type that just has to have every single plot point wrapped up and a more ‘complete’ ending, then there is the subsequent Animage Grand Prix Award-winning movie Nadesico The Movie awaiting you, though the movie is a separate beast entirely, different in tone from the series.
So there is only one Nadesico folks, one specific combination of humour, drama and space hijinks that hits the right spot each time. “Gekiga In!”
STORY – I guess I will start with the story, the fantastic story. The story is mostly a parody of more modern mecha anime, which just so happens to include a parody of your typical 70s/80s mecha anime. Fans of every genre will find something to like within this series. Fans of harems, romance, action, mecha, comedy, parody, and drama will all find something to like here. It’s simply a jack of all trades among anime. Truly one of the more diverse series. After the halfway mark, the story begins to answer questions found earlier in the series. The story takes a life of its own and is no longer just a simple parody, and several twists take place. Though the comedy fades slightly, I’m willing to bet it will be near impossible for anyone to drop the series at this point as it still retains its delightful addictiveness.
ART – Yes the art is from the mid to late 90s which may cause a problem for some people. It did for me as I’m very much now used to the extravagant art of today’s anime. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just dated. I did notice some problems with Haruka Minato though. For some reason it just seemed like she was differently drawn than the other characters. Once you get by the fact that it’s from the the mid to late 90s, you’ll have no problem enjoying the art. Another thing to point out is how well the 70s/80s stereotypical mecha anime characters are included into a more modern mecha series.
SOUND – The opening theme, “You Get to Burning” is insanely catchy and will probably stick in your head for awhile. The ending theme, “Watashi Rashiku” is equally as good, and will probably follow suit, and stick in your head as well. The bgm is typical science fiction fare. It fits the setting, and none of the music is out of place, which is great, considering the diversity of this series.
CHARACTER – One of the best features of this show. You get great diversity within the cast. The tomboyish girl, the moe girl, the ditz, the justice loving guy, the “afraid to fight” guy, etc…etc. The best part is how wacky the crew is, yet they are all extremely qualified for their positions. You’ll see what I mean when you first see Yurika. The relationships between characters are also really well done. You’ll feel sorry for some, while hating several others. In my opinion that equates to a great series. To fully appreciate the cast, if it weren’t obvious enough, the series must be watched in full. Also, I feel it’s near impossible to not fall in love with Ruri, you’ll see what I mean.
ENJOYMENT – The series is highly addictive and very entertaining. When you’re not laughing, you could be feeling one of many emotions guaranteed while watching this show. It has its dramatic moments, but you’ll be mostly laughing throughout the series. It’s a great anime, and I feel it would be very hard to not appreciate at least a little.
OVERALL – I make it my goal to watch a series that usually places among those considered the best in anime, and though I just finished this series, I have to say it is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was highly addictive and hilarious. It had great characters, and a decent plot. Oh and did I mention it was hilarious? One of the best features is the diversity of genres within Martian Successor Nadesico. There is literally something there for fans of nearly any genre to appreciate (except for horror). I would certainly make it in my best interest to view this series as soon as possible.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to mecha anime, Nadesico doesn’t fail in its quest to poke fun at its ancestry and let you know about it. It’s rather fun to watch the show and point out the parody moments in each episode. It even contains a parody within a parody in the form of Gekigangar 3, a spoof of the mecha anime of the late 70s and 80s. Don’t think that parodies are the only things that will make you laugh. There are many points where the crew takes over and keeps the laughs coming with their daily interactions.
Speaking of which, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the crew of the Nadesico. Each crew member is unique and memorable in his or her own way. The entire spectrum is there: the otaku, the diva, the quiet one, the pervert, etc. It’s almost impossible to not find one character that you can relate to in one form or another. The seiyuu do an equally great job at fleshing out their respective characters. Houkou Kuwashima (InuYasha’s Sango, Azumanga Daioh!’s Kagura) does a wonderful job as Yurika, switching from heartfelt to hyper with ease.
As the series cruises along the half-way mark, the focus changes. The rampant parodies are taken back a bit, and a solid plot emerges. There are several psycho-analytic moments that blatantly poke fun at Evangelion, but I just didn’t find myself laughing as often as before. As everything hit the fan and the end began to come in sight, I was waiting for the epic conclusion that I had planned out in my mind. What I saw was nothing close to my hopes. Rather, Nadesico simply ended.
The ending left me with mixed feelings, and it will most likely be seen as a love it or hate it ending among others. On one side, there are numerous plot holes that are left wide open, and several events are left unexplained. To put it simply, under most circumstances, I would see such an ending as a failure. However, I found it to be fitting finale for such a quirky series. There didn’t need to be a perfect ending. I was able to leave the Nadesico with a smile on my face and a satisfied feeling, and that’s what matters.
Whether you’re a fan of mecha anime or not, I still highly recommend this anime as an enjoyable comedy. Sometimes, you just have to take some time to laugh at yourself, and Nadesico does just that.
2: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
English: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
MAL Score: 7.71
The United Earth Sphere Alliance is a powerful military organization that has ruled over Earth and space colonies with an iron fist for several decades. When the colonies proclaimed their opposition to this, their leader was assassinated. Now, in the year After Colony 195, bitter colonial rebels have launched “Operation Meteor,” sending five powerful mobile suits to Earth for vengeance. Built out of virtually indestructible material called Gundanium Alloy, these “Gundams” begin an assault against the Alliance and its sub organization OZ.
One Gundam, whose pilot has taken the name of the slain colony leader Heero Yuy, is forced to make a crash landing into the ocean after an atmospheric battle against OZ’s ace pilot Zechs Marquise. Upon coming ashore, he is found by Relena Peacecraft, daughter of a peace-seeking politician, who witnesses Heero’s descent to Earth. Although neither of them realize it yet, this encounter will have a profound impact on both their lives, as well as those on Earth and in space colonies.
The story, like all Gundam plots revolve around war, two opposing factions of space and the earth, a boy and his chance encounter with a Gundam. At first, GW bombards you with the names of many factions and organizations that play a key role in making the world of GW what it is. When you truly begin to grasp what a certain organization is and what it stands for, it has just been defeated and wiped from the show. Although, quite annoying, GW exemplifies the concept that, those who don\’t evolve, won\’t survive. Throughout the first half of the series (before the emergence of Mobile Dolls), GW centralizes around world events caused in response to the happenings of the main characters and their actions. As the plot moves along, we take a more personal look at the main (~8) characters – why they fight, what their objectives are and who their allies/enemies are. In the final curtain, both these plots come together for the inevitable \"Gundam Final Showdown.\" Action is spread out enough to keep the viewer entertained but remember; GW is not a shounen anime. The plot encompasses the soldiers of war and their actions for their respective sides.
Animation and Sound
This is no KyoAni work, but it\’s also nothing close to the bottom of the barrel. GW\’s animation is mid to high quality (even for 2007) thanks to Sunrise. Most scenes take place in the dark of a room or space so remember to turn up the brightness. Animation quality drops at points (a given) but even then, it\’s appealing enough to keep the screen on. GW isn\’t as clean as SEED nor do the mobile suits have the same shiny effect as G.U.N.D.A.M\’s but given the time difference, it\’s understandable. Most of the OST in GW consists of great battle music to fit the occasion. Battle armament sounds are top notch, especially Heavyarm\’s guns and Wing Zero\’s shoulder vulcans. The largest ball drop is the lack of music during most anti-climactic scenes – making them quite dull. As well as random sound effects when character comes to realization about something.
Ah, therein lies the success to any Gundam. As said before, those that don\’t evolve, won\’t survive. As such, each and every main character (8 by my count) goes through a change or situation where they must make a choice. This pseudo character development grants us a clearer view on each character\’s motives and reasoning behind their actions. GW sports a large cast where each main character is paired with another of the opposite sex for contrast/similarities. Not including the immense support cast, GW already has lots of names to remember. But don\’t be intimidated! Most non-essential characters die within a few episodes anyways. Jokes aside, it\’s very easy to remember all the important characters and the support character or the day.
Although I wasn\’t pumped for this review, GW is still a great watch. It\’s one of those anime\’s that suffers a lot of disdain for the popularity it gets. It\’s in the eye of the beholder whether you\’ll like it or not. The first 20 or so episodes is great – political manipulation and backstabbing at its finniest. Then the centrality shifts and once more towards the end – essentially, you may not like what you see at first but remember, there\’s about 3 \"arcs\" in which the genre wavers to appeal to more audiences.
With the previous Gundam series, G Gundam being more hand to hand oriented, this series goes back to the traditional space battlefield with guns, lasers, and missiles, and are taken to a whole new extreme. The fights are fast paced and diverse with the many mobile suits that are present ,and the environments they all take place in such as land, sea, air, and space, are always exciting and you’re getting something different. With the use of coloring and resolution, it is easy to follow the fast paced action this series has to offer.
Like the characters, the mobile suits themselves that contain singular but yet distinguishing traits all have their uses and are given equal time to stand out. Like the Wing Gundam is the all rounder, the deathsytche being close range, and Heavyarms being long range, etc. And also, the skills of the pilot will also effect the outcome of how the mobile suit can be used. Such as when Heero had to pilot Heavyarms for example. And you also have the Mercurus and the Vayeate which represented offense and defense and I feel that the staff read the art of war first to apply some of the principles you see in this series.
The character design also brought in a traditional “bishounen” design to the franchise. Nothing wrong with that. They are also very diverse and distinctive in which once again their features are distinguished. I love how the expressions come across and the use of costumes. I also found it unique that this series plays homage to Char Aznable through Zechs Merquise with his get up so you’re basically getting Gundam, Zeta Gundam, and Char’s Counterattack all rolled into one with this series.
I’ll have to say that both the English and Japanese voice cast is probably the best I’ve heard in any anime in both name recognition and performance. On the Japanese side, you have big names like the multi-talented Midorikawa Hikaru playing Heero Yuy, and there’s also Mark Hildreth, the voice of Terry from Fatal Fury playing him in English. They both do a convincing job of making Heero coming across as something of an emotionless being who exclusively cares about what he’s doing. And the charismatic Koyasu Takehito is very menacing as Zechs, but I really like how Brian Drummond, the English actor does a much better job of bringing out his compassionate side. I also really enjoyed Brad Swale’s portrayal of Quatre, I thought it was far superior to Orikasa Ai’s performance. Granted Quatre is the most human, I just thought that even though he is played by a woman in the Japanese version, he sounded too feminine, but the English version was just perfect.
The music itself is classic and one of the most addicting soundtracks you’ll ever hear that also defines Jpop in the mid 90s. When it was on Toonami, I thought it was cool that whenever they played the opening themes, Just Communication and Rhythm Emotion as a background song, I thought it was awesome they retained it in American TV. If it were 4Kids, they change it to some lame rap. But I thought the music also defined the intense and adrenaline rush nature of the show.
Granted I do believe this series is a great gateway to the Gundam universe, I personally don’t believe it should be used as a barometer to what defines a great Gundam series. Each Gundam is different. You can’t compare this series to 08th MS Team, or Zeta Gundam. But this series does have its significant flaws like all other series have, and which is why I have never given any anime so far an overall perfect 10/10. But if anything annoyed me about this series, it is most certainly Relena. I remember after Gundam Wing aired, there were websites in dedication to her death. I’ll admit I was and still am one of those fan boys who wish Relena died. She’s like the Hillary Clinton of the anime universe. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. I find her to be annoying, and a hypocrite. If you have seen the series, you know what I’m talking about, and if you want to know, check this series out.
Among the series that helped cultivated this young fanbase, Gundam Wing was one of the biggest to make its debut, becoming a tent-pole entry that not only served as a gateway title to the Gundam franchise but perhaps, more importantly, a show that became many viewers first exposure with anime altogether. Because of its status as many people’s initial experience with the medium, or at the very least, their first conscious discernment between Japanese and Western animated works, a great deal of nostalgic value has been associated with it. A predicament that would inadvertently lead to a lot of blind appraisal under false pretenses, whether the parties in question were aware of it or not.
Its influence in the western climate is undeniable but that doesn’t negate it from the same baseline criticisms applicable to any other show. And in that regard, Gundam Wing is far from a timestamp of fidelity and quality-control. While its production values have certainly stood the test of time — with sharp edits, gorgeous matte paintings, ear-worm industrial synthpop mixings and fluid animation that could go toe to toe with many titles being produced today — the screenplay, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky, falling victim to the common narrative conceits of its time period.
Overwrought with needless plotting manipulation, contrived idealistic monologues delivered by cardboard cutout personalities, and a narrative that quickly spirals into a chop suey of hackneyed writing; Wing was Gundam’s messy attempt at a rule-of-cool political shounen. An attempt that got all the attributes correct on the surface, but when brought under an analytical microscope, barely kept its head above water. Where past installments found an equilibrium between teen angst and the war drama that facilitated it, Wing ended up fumbling this formula with wrongheaded attempts intended to capture a younger demographic, while seemingly forgetting the fact that it already had that demographic in their back pocket, to begin with. It’s the kind of creative misfiring only possible by the hogwash of self-obsessed auteurs being allowed to run amok. It certainly succeeded in creating easily digestible entertainment but sadly at cost of proper storytelling. Today, we’ll shelf whatever nostalgic value the show has with the community, as we attempt to examine it for what it is and not what landmark value it may have held.
The story starts out like any other in the franchise, with a conflict brewing between two separate factions: one found on earth (United Earth Sphere Alliance) and the space colonies that occupy the heavens. And in the wonderful Gundam tradition of dressing up opposing factions in broad strokes of fascism, The Alliance in this iteration represents our big baddies, extending their oppressive control over the space colonies with such aggression that even Benito Mussolini would blush. It’s the kind of setup that alludes to a grandiose battle to determine supremacy, and we do certainly get to see something like that play out, but the plotting used to get to that power struggle, was, for the lack of a better word, laughable.
The Gundam franchise has always used teen pilots in their series as conduits to channel their themes of warfare and human ethics. And while what I’m about to say may seem like a trivial detail, it’s the core difference that separates successful installments in the franchise that still manage to feel plausible, from those of the likes of Wing which could only muster up all of its creative juices to obtain juvenile status at best.
This core difference I speak of is the allocation of character relevance.
In 79 and Zeta Gundam respectfully, Amuro and Kamille were both talented pilots due to their upbringing and new-type abilities, but there was never a point in time where their involvement led to the tipping point that determined the outcome of any given large-scale battle. They were more adept than the average soldier but was ultimately just another person operating under the guidance of a small rag-tagged group, which was itself just a small cog in the machine, manipulated by the governing parties as they saw fit. Regardless of their individual talents as pilots, they didn’t win wars single-handedly; there was always a group effort, involving the sacrifices of many people on both sides. Even Char Aznable, considered the best pilot in both series, had to rely on the strength of others around him to achieve victory in any given battle.
The point I’m trying to make here is that no one was ever an end-all-be-all trump card for winning the war. The teen pilots may have been incredibly strong relative to those around them but that’s all they were: strong. Nothing more, nothing less. But this is where Wing differs significantly, and not for the better.
Unlike before, the teens weren’t just strong this time around, now, they’ve practically been turned into God-sent messiahs… EDGY God-sent messiahs at that (sigh).
What once took the collective effort of battalions fighting against each other to cause a dent in the war, was now reduced to the actions of a handful of angsty teens with a mech suit, pent-up rage, and an endless line of fodder to mow down — cool poses and manchild yelling notwithstanding. And yeah, I know what you’re thinking “But ZephSilver-sama, what’s the problem with that?” Well, my young Padawan, have patience, I’ll explain further once we address another pressing issue with Wing. That being its treatment of war factions and politics.
A Coup d’etat; common occurrences during wartime, and one that the Gundam franchise readily utilizes to spice up its content, and understandably so. Whenever any governing party finds itself at odds with the militaristic stronghold that keeps it in power, it’s basically a powder keg waiting to blow. For Gundam, that translates into a cool ass firework display of mecha action, pink explosions, and blood confetti just waiting to happen. And Like any good thing, moderation is key. And as you’ve probably guessed by now, this is an understanding that escapes Wing. Coup d’etats are expected events but the amount of times that it ended up occurring in Wing is just unrealistic, to the point of approaching parody.
The mere act of existing as a governing entity in Wing basically assures you a one-way ticket to shitsville. There is zero stability in this universe. A constant potpourri of back-stabbing and upheaval. This fickle game of musical chairs between alliances became so bad at times that any given character could find themselves supporting no less than 4 separate groups in the course of the show’s 49-episode run. Wing, despite its simplistic narrative, was constantly asking its audience to keep tabs on several moving parts simultaneously. A type of sensory overdrive where tertiary factions were constantly sticking their necks out to remind the viewer that “they still exist!”
The constant betrayals meant that there was no true side for the audience to follow or individual motivation worth investing into, turning the human race into a marginalized group of trigger-happy neanderthals. With no solid conviction for the numerous groups that sprung up and a mess of Heel-Face Turn characters that easily switched sides at the whim of whatever the screenplay belched out at any given episode, what was left in the end were our teen pilots (a.k.a Emo Power Rangers), as they rode in on their high horses providing the answer to everything. And by “provide answers” I mean they blew shit up while reciting their edge-lord diatribes.
Using youths as the poster children for justice is one thing, but making them the sole proprietor to end the human race’s problems is a complete other… and no, I’m not being hyperbolic either. Our five teen edge-lords: Heero Yuy, Duo Maxwell, Trowa Barton, Quatre Raberba Winner and Chang Wufei, were tasked with taking on The Alliance’s military stronghold, without the help of any backing nation or military group. Yes, you read that correctly. 5 teenage emo rangers are quite literally tasked with defeating a united earth front all by themselves… but perhaps even worse than that is that the show writes it to where such a ludicrous task is actually made feasible by turning the mobile suits into indestructible doomsday machines.
Because the characters were all one-note, personality-wise, they were often re-written to service whatever role the plot demanded at the time. This turned megalomaniacs into spokespeople for peace and vice versa. Something that was made all the more bothersome with constant bombardments of contrived, idealistic monologues. A notable example being Zechs Marquise, the show’s watered down version of Char Aznable, where he made a 180 in mindset while still delivering his idealistic speeches that conflicted with his actions. There were times where he was quite literally trying to murder someone in cold blood while delivering messages akin to “peace and unity bro!” But it wasn’t limited to him alone, as most of the characters cashed in on these long-winded, ass-backward speeches that were contradictory to their immediate actions on-screen. This failed attempt at adding depth to the cast did nothing but further expose their lack of dimension and characterization. And depending on your investment, this could make the experience enjoyable in an unintentional “haha, they can’t be serious right now?” parody way, or just plain stupid in a “what were the scriptwriters smoking?” way. Thankfully, my approach was the former.
When taken by themselves, any one of these specific issues mentioned doesn’t become a huge detriment to the story, but when they’re compounded into a snowball effect of bad ideas meet even worse screenwriting decisions, that’s where the true issue arises. What could have been a simple rule-of-cool political shounen, was now transformed into a molotov cocktail of messy outcomes, the likes of which was too far gone to be salvaged by a script revision.
Where all of this extra time went unaccounted for when addressing Wing’s writing seemed to have turned up in the show’s visual and auditory output. And boy did it pay off! Despite all the verbal carpet bombing I’ve directed towards Wing so far, even I can’t find anything worth scrutinizing in these departments. Wing’s production values are better than a vast majority of anime entries released in the 90s — hell, I’ll even take it a step further and state that in its restoration form, it could outpace many entries in the early 2010s as well. Needless to say, this was also some of the highest production values seen from the Gundam franchise as well; not since Zeta in 85 has their been such a noticeable increase in audiovisual output.
With a staggering amount of saturated color gradients, physical encounters that had a tangible weight behind it, and an undeniable fervor for blood-boiling theatrics, Wing definitely delivered on visual spectacle. When you put aside the nonsensical propulsion that led to any given action scene and just soaked it in for what was shown on-screen, this was quite the crowd pleaser. Also, before we continue on, the J-Pop opening “Just Communication” by TWO-MIX is a national treasure that should be protected at all cost! And no mention of Wing’s audiovisual output would be complete without making special mention of the aesthetically appealing design work.
When it comes to creating vogue-looking, rugged character models, very few can topple Shukou Murase. Though, at the time, that was yet to be seen. Being an up-and-coming creative, Murase secured his position as character designer based on his work on 89’s Ronin Warriors Gaiden. A decision that he would prove wasn’t a fluke with an extensive catalog catapulted by his newfound recognition on Wing, where he would go on to further lend his talents to titles such as Argento Soma and Gasaraki.
And last, but certainly not least, the mechanical designers themselves. While there were several names attached to the project, all of which deserving of a comb-over, I’ll only focus on one; mah boi Hajime Katoki. When it comes to beefing up mecha designs to look like “Do you even LIFT bro?” steroid-memes (in a good way, of course), Katoki is your go-to guy. He has the magical ability to do with mecha what Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure does to the masculine form, all the while making the final product appear plausible for the universe it’s a part of. Which brings me to perhaps one of, if not, my favorite mecha design in the entire Gundam canon, Zechs Marquise’s Tallgeese. This glorious, Roman gladiator inspired hunk of metal was just a demanding screen presence. It’s a fan favorite for good reason and I’m inclined to support the appraisal that it has racked up throughout the years.
And yes, there were noticeable shortcuts taken at times, with a few still-image panning shots here and speed-lines there, but those sporadic moments of cost-saving techniques never detracted from the overall care given to bringing the entire vision to life. As a whole, the audiovisual output is where Wing truly shines.
After taking everything into consideration, both the good and the incredibad, I can’t say I wasted my time with Wing. Sure, like everything else, it had its problems, but what in the Gundam franchise doesn’t? Yeah, there were times where the issues mentioned impeded on my enjoyment and certainly other occasions where my invested interest was tested. But upon passing the finish line, looking back from where I started to where I eventually stood, at the very least, the journey through Wing offered up aspects worth cherishing. Even if they were aspects knee-deep in issues I’d rather forget.
Although Gundam Wing’s historical relevance may have engulfed its actual inherent value, it’s still a title I would recommend to others. It’s not really one of those shows where you could divorce its issues through selective viewing, as is the benefit for something Like Zeta or 79 Gundam; where under the context of warfare and the understanding that the new-types are essentially hypersensitive, autistic x-men in space, excusing their irrational blurps of emotional responses to others become acceptable. With Wing, the issues found are far too deep-rooted, corrupting the very foundation of its script that everything grows out from. You can cut the proverbial limb off of Zeta or 79 Gundam and still be left with something functional, but attempting such an act on Wing is no different than taking to its head with a swift guillotine strike.
With all that being said, approach Wing with reasonable expectations. If you walk in understanding that it’s Emo Power Rangers vs The World, with the added benefit of having high production values, then you can walk out unscathed, taking with you a fun viewing experience and another legacy title under your belt.
1: Neon Genesis Evangelion
English: Neon Genesis Evangelion
MAL Score: 8.33
Fifteen years after a cataclysmic event known as the Second Impact, the world faces a new threat: monstrous celestial beings called “Angels” invade Tokyo one by one. Mankind is unable to defend themselves against the Angels despite utilizing their most advanced munitions and military tactics. The only hope for human salvation rests in the hands of NERV, a mysterious organization led by the cold Gendou Ikari. NERV operates giant humanoid robots dubbed “Evangelions” to combat the Angels with state-of-the-art advanced weaponry and protective barriers known as Absolute Terror Fields.
Years after being abandoned by his father, Shinji Ikari, Gendou’s 14-year-old son, returns to Tokyo. Shinji undergoes a perpetual internal battle against the deeply buried trauma caused by the loss of his mother and the emotional neglect he suffered at the hands of his father. Terrified to open himself up to another, Shinji’s life is forever changed upon meeting 29-year-old Misato Katsuragi, a high-ranking NERV officer who shows him a free-spirited maternal kindness he has never experienced.
A devastating Angel attack forces Shinji into action as Gendou reveals his true motive for inviting his son back to Tokyo: Shinji is the only child capable of efficiently piloting Evangelion Unit-01, a new robot that synchronizes with his biometrics. Despite the brutal psychological trauma brought about by piloting an Evangelion, Shinji defends Tokyo against the angelic threat, oblivious to his father’s dark machinations.
It’s also a reminder to me of something important.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most debated animes in history. Some would argue that there are numerous hidden messages in the show, while others argue that it simply plays up to a certain puerile idealogy of the world. Whatever the case may be, NGE established itself as the hot topic in anime for well over a decade.
NGE first saw the light of day as a manga by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and was published in Shonen Ace magazine from February 1994. It’s purpose was to raise awareness and public interest in the anime version that was to be released in October of the following year.
The anime was directed by the famous Hideaki Anno, and is hailed by many fans as his masterpiece (although there are numerous people who disagree with this point of view).
The animation in NGE is actually very well done considering the time it was made (and the fact that Gainax was running out of cash). The colour palette used for the show was decidely bright in many ways, and at the time it contrasted well with the serious tone of the story.
The characters were well designed for the most part, but the real breakthrough in terms of design were the EVA units and the Angels. NGE pushed the boundaries of mecha design in anime to a new level, something which no other show of the time could achieve. It also wasn’t afraid to show an enemy who had no visible relation to humans – something that was a rarity in those days (although Anno had used a similar technique in Top wo Nerae).
The animation in the show is generally very fluid, and although there are some notable flaws, they don’t actually impede on the enjoyment of the show.
The sound in NGE is very good in general. The VAs in the japanese version are very good, and are able to deliver a greater depth of emotion than their american counterparts. The effects used are also quite good but never really stood out as much, partly because of the overwhelming visuals, and partly because they were generally stock effects. The music is generally good throughout the show, with a mixture of classical and other styles scattered here and there.
One of the most memorable things about the music in NGE is the theme tune. Anno had originally wanted to use Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances as the theme music for each episode, but was overruled by TV Tokyo, who felt that this would confuse and alienate the audience. Instead he settled on what has become one of the most played anime theme tunes in history – A Cruel Angel’s Thesis, which was performed by Takahashi Yoko.
This is the area where NGE failed as an anime. Prior to making NGE, Hideaki Anno had suffered from depression for a while, and the characters in NGE were created in such a manner as to reflect his struggle against mental illness. Each of the characters is flawed in different ways, something that was unusual in anime at the time. Given Anno’s talent as a director, this should have led to some interesting, and highly original, character development. Unfortunately the show failed in this area because of one key factor – Ikari Shinji.
For many people like myself, the main issue we have with the show isn’t the story, or the animation, or the sound. It’s the characters, and in particular, Ikari Shinji. In creating him, Anno and the rest of the production team lost focus on the other characters. Shinji is not your typical hero in that he isn’t, courageous, or handsome, or intelligent. In fact, Shinji consider’s himself to be worthless. The issue I have is that the show focuses far too much on Shinji, almost to the extent where the other characters were simply plot devices for his devlopment, and not enough on the characters around him.
That’s not to say Shinji is a bad character. He’s not. The problem is that one can only stomach so much unjustified self pity (which unfortunately most of it was in his case), before wanting to slap some sense into the person in question. It’s been pointed out to me that Shinji wanted to kill himself because he thought he was worthless, and that he should be pitied because of the bad hand he was dealt. I’m sorry but that argument doesn’t wash with me. If someone truly wants to kill themselves then they will, so Shinji didn’t really want to die. In addition to that, I know quite a few people who have been dealt the worst hands possible, yet they do not whine and complain about it (and many of these people did consider themselves to be useless/worthless at one time or another – yet they suffered in silence for the most part). What Shinji wanted was for people to pity him and tell him he wasn’t worthless, and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it was over-used in NGE (to the point where I wanted to put him out of his misery – and not because I pitied him). The fact that Shinji’s character has a tendency to ram his sense of worthlessness into the faces of the other characters is what put me off, as that type of behaviour is usually for attention rather than a cry for help, and because of the show’s focus on Shinji, you can imagine how much I wanted to hit him afterwards. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand, it was just that they failed to depict him as an object of pity, and instead he came across as a whining, self pitying, attention seeking, and generally loathesome person.
As for the other characters, in particular Rei and Asuka, they did get a certain amount of development throughout the series. Unfortunately though, their characters, as well as the rest of the cast, were overshadowed by the mammoth amount of development given to Shinji.
I actually quite enjoyed the concept behind NGE, as it made a nice change of pace. I did, however, have some issues with the convenient deus ex machina of Unit 01, as well as a number of other “coincidences” that were scattered throughout the series.
The story itself isn’t all that original, and it has clearly borrowed elements from other sci-fi stories. What made the story seem to be original was the inclusion of psuedo-religious and psuedo-philosophical concepts, as well as the inclusion of “Fruedian” psychology. These formed core elements of the story, so what would have been a standard “save the earth” scenario became a dive into the psyche of the characters. The basic plot is borrowed directly from Space Battleship Yamamoto, and the idea of “young” people protecting the earth was used by Anno himself in Top wo Nerae.
Unfortunately the story breaks down in several places. Anno tried to make a show that merged all perspectives into one single view, and while he managed to achieve this in some measure, he failed because he focused too much on Shinji, to the extent that no other options were ever considered.
Here’s what I mean. NERV is a quasi militaristic outfit, and as such, would generally have backup options available to them. The convenient deus ex machina I mentioned earlier effectively removes all chance for anyone else to come to the fore – except for Shinji that is. If the viewer is to believe that an organisation such as NERV was supposed to protect the earth, then they would at the very least, look for other options, especially considering Shinji’s character flaws. This would effectively mean that they would have at least some combat veterans or trained soldiers who could handle the EVA units. The use of teenagers as the leads in the show was simply so that it would appeal to the teenage audience.
Another area where the story breaks down is in it’s use of religious symbology. Many fans believe that what is shown in NGE is taken directly from religious beliefs, in particular Kabbalism, Judaism and Christianity. While the names used in the show may be true to those religions though, in many cases the manner in which the reference is used is actually based on Anno’s own definition, rather than the religious viewpoint (something for which Anno has been heavily criticised).
In truth, The religious symbology used in the show was only really used to give the series an edge over other “giant robot” anime (i.e. Macross, Gundam, etc), and all of the various interpretations since have been ascribed to it by the viewers rather than the creators (something which is very well documented).
One big plot hole that I noticed, and one that should have been obvious to most people as well, was Shinji’s isolationist attitude, and Gendou’s reaction to it. It’s obvious to any who’ve watched the series that Gendou feels little sympathy towards Shinji, however due to that convenient plot device using Unit 01 I mentioned earlier, Gendou needs Shinji to pilot the EVA unit. So, what you effectively have is the leader of a militaristic organisation who feels little for others, and a teenager with supposed mental instabilities. This being the case, why wasn’t Gendou forcibly dosing Shinji with meds to make him more compliant? If your purpose is to protect the earth and it’s people from attack by extremely powerful beings, and you’re basically a selfish person with your own agenda, then conscience or paternal instincts don’t come into it, you simply do what’s necessary, no matter what anyone else says.
It’s interesting that the whole “psychology” angle is only really supposed to apply to Shinji, isn’t it? Characters like Gendou have been “toned down” because their actions would have drawn too much attention to themselves, another convenient plot device.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a tough show to rate. According to Anno, if you’re a normal, well rounded person then you won’t learn anything from the show. While this may be true in some cases, the things that one can learn from the show are juvenile at best. Many of the older fans of NGE have a tendency to view the show through the rose tinted lenses of nostalgia, and while this is not a bad thing, it inhibits the ability to view the show objectively. Many of the younger fans, on the other hand, are fiercely loyal to the show, and have a tendency to react harshly to any criticism of the show. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the show has gained a certain notoriety that it could have done without, and many people who watch the show for the first time, do so with certain preconceived notions already embedded in their heads.
NGE is one of those shows that could have been great. Unfortunately the glaring flaws in the plot, coupled with the lack of develpment amongst the other characters in comparison to Shinji meant that I, at least, only found the show to be mediocre. NGE was a let down for me as I am a big fan of Top wo Nerae, the show that is effectively the older sibling to NGE (and is considered by quite a few people to be the superior show).
I’m not going to suggest anyone watches the show, as that is a decision you should make for yourself. Likewise the choice of whether you love it or hate it is something that only you can decide. The only thing I can say about the show is that, when watching it, be as objective as you can.
NGE is no Top wo Nerae by any measure, but it is a classic. Unfortunately, it really isn’t Anno’s best work, and the rebuild is making the same errors all over again.
And here’s the review that originally graced this page. It’s a bit bilious and lowbrow, but it served it’s purpose – which contrary to what you may think wasn’t to simply to upset the “hardcore” fans.
Okay, I’m REALLY going to upset a lot of you out there with this review.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most mediocre animes I have EVER seen.
I watched this when it first came out, and I wasn’t overly impressed with it to say the least.
The story is okay. The idea of earth being assaulted by unknown, quasi-supernatural/technological beings is one that has been handed down through the years, the most famous example being The War of the Worlds (which wins hands down by the way).
The animation was actually one of the few plus points for this anime. The art style and use of colour made this attractive to many when it was first released. The sound was also of a high standard, and the catchy J-pop intro jingle was forcibly lodged into many peoples craniums.
Now we get to the good part – the characters.
Ayanami Rei was okay as a character, but what on earth possesses everyone to raise Ikari Shinji to almost godlike status? The guy is biggest loser in anime (with the exception of Makoto for School Days – Nice Boat), and one of the biggest losers I have even seen in ANY story since Thomas Covenant. I honestly found myself wishing he was a real person so I could smack some sense into him. I’ve heard it mentioned that he is the most realistic character in the anime, and I have to wonder what planet the people who say such things were born on. I mean honestly.
Okay, rant over, here’s why this character is THE MAIN REASON why this anime was mediocre. NERV is a military organisation whose SOLE objective is the protection of the planet, by whatever means. This being the case, WHY THE HELL is Ikari Shinji the main focus of the story? He doesn’t want to pilot an EVA, and doesn’t want to fight. Any self respecting organisation WOULD HAVE FOUND SOMEONE MORE WILLING AND MORE ABLE to do the job. There’s such a fuss over how special Shinji is, but surely with 6 billion people on the planet there would be someone better equipped for the job.
But I understand the anime only had so much budget so they couldn’t really conduct a global search.
The most believable character is Asuka Langley Soryu, as her reaction to Shinji’s ineptitude and cowardice is similar to that of any reasonable person.
I’m not going to mention enjoyment as I’ve already made it clear that this was mediocre at best.
This wasn’t Hideaki Anno’s best work by far. Top wo Nerae (Gunbuster), was a far superior sci-fi anime, and the characters were MUCH more believable. The story for Top wo Nerae beats Neon Genesis Evangelion hands down.
As for his other works, watch Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (KareKano or His & Her Circumstances). Hideaki Anno proved his talent with this anime, and Top wo Nerae, so I can only assume he was suffering from dementia when Evangelion was written.
A suggestion if I may, to end this rant. If you want emotion, trauma, passion, a great story, and all the rest, then watch some of the following animes:
Flanders no Inu (movie)
Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid
NHK ni Youkoso!
Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou
Top wo Nerae
Grave of the Fireflies
There’s a lot more that fit the bill. Watch them, then re-watch evangelion and see if it has the same feeling it did before (I would advise removal of the fluffy pink clouds of nostalgia in your head before rewatching).
Some of you are probably wondering why I wrote this review if I dislike the show so much. The reason is simple. I’m sick to death of seeing the show aired on the various channels that show anime, and I’m even more fed up with the fact that newcomers to anime are indoctrinated by magazines and other people into liking this piece of tripe, especially when there are far superior animes out there that rarely get mentioned anywhere.
I’m going to end this review here. I’m not going to tell you all not to watch this. I just hope that this review makes you consider what actually IS good in anime.
I hope I haven’t upset you all too much.
Hugely experimental and wonderfully unique, Evangelion is a roaring success.
The basic, initial, plot goes thus: a 14-year-old boy named Shinji is called to NERV (an organization charged with defending mankind from extinction, no less) by his estranged, seemingly cold and calculating father. There, his fathers’ first words are an order to pilot an immense robotic machine, the titular Evangelion, and fight against the monster that’s attacking Tokyo-3, the city under which NERV has it’s headquarters. These illusory ‘monsters’ are called Angels and are seemingly invincible – traditional weaponry, even in the year 2015, has minimal effect upon them. Only the Eva ‘biomechs’, which can be piloted solely by certain selected 14-year-olds can stop them. This [i]is[/i] merely the basic, initial premise of the series. As it goes on, everything gets a lot more complicated; There’s a metric ton of mystery, suspense, twists and turns in Evangelion’s plot, all routinely thought-provoking and intensely interesting.
The characters are excellent. This is an important point as the series is more about them than about the Angels or NERV. Shinji Ikari is one the most believable and genuinely sympathetic character ever conceived in anime. Though some would complain that Shinji is overtly emotional and annoyingly so. But, really, no one wants Shinji to become the ‘Hollywood hero’ and save the day with a smile on his face – no such human could ever really exist, and studio Gainax understand this and apply it perfectly to the series. Shinji’s mental struggle is dealt with effectively by Hideki Anno, through the use of complex monologues and largely successful experimental cinematic techniques. Asuka and Rei, the other chosen children, are both polar opposites and ingenious characters. Both develop a great deal in a very interesting way throughout the series, and this character exploration and growth is at the heart of Evangelion.
The design aspects are wonderfully unique – the Evas themselves are strikingly colourful and the Angels are attention grabbing and memorable with many towering over Tokyo-3’s skyscraper. The Angels appear in many different forms (one Angel takes the form of a gargantuan, blue diamond while another is too small to be seen with the naked eye and acts as an organic virus, crippling NERV’s computer system) which helps Eva avoid the repetitve “Monster of the Week” format and keeps the action aspect of the series consistently fresh and enjoyable. Judeo-Christian references are famous (or rather, infamous) in Evangelion and despite widespread condemnation, I am of the firm belief that the symbolism is never obnoxious, and always evocative and visually shocking. It must be noted these references are usually fairly shallow, but they make you sit up and take notice of the deeper meaning in the series as a whole. Animation is crisp and clear for the platinum re-mastering that I watched, and I hasten to add that this re-mastering is only version of Eva worth buying. Visuals are regularly stunning and scenes from this series will surely stay with you forever. The regular provocative imagery is often times shocking and sometimes awe-inspiring. The image of a crippled Rei, bleeding and covered in bandages in the first episode provides the first real shock of the series. Such imagery contrasts with the visual gags present throughout – a toothpick container obscuring Shinji’s nether regions in episode 2 being one of the most memorable.
The music is, much like the rest of Eva, superbly memorable. It excels at setting the right mood and tone, using inspirational trumpets to highlight Asuka and Shinji’s success in battle, and nuanced reflective tunes to convey the character of Rei. The OP is among my favourites of all time and you’ll not tire of hearing it throughout the 26 episodes of the series.
The final two episodes are controversial (more controversial than the rest of the series at least!) because they are both the peak of experimental Eva. While I certainly wouldn’t call them “bad”, they are frustratingly unsatisfying as an ending. Thankfully, the subsequent movie release titled ‘End of Evangelion’ rectifies this with bombastic aplomb. EoE – which essentially tells the story of what happens in eps. 25 and 26, but this time outside of Shinji’s mind – is truly magnificent, and definitely lives up to the sky high standards set in the series, and perhaps even exceeds them. As well as being one of the greatest anime movies ever made, EoE gives the series an extraordinary conclusion.
I haven’t even mentioned the dub, the pacing or the sound effects, but rest assured that they are all of a fantastic standard. Overall, I think this series deserves it’s iconic status – it’s easily one of the absolute best TV series (anime or otherwise) that I’ve ever seen. Every single episode is nothing less than a masterpiece and an utter joy to watch. I whole heartedly recommend Neon Genesis Evangelion. It is imperative that you watch this anime!
Story: One of the most well known aspects of Evangelion is it’s story; it is simply unorthodox, as it does the process of not feeding all of the story the viewer; it drip-feeds it, giving the viewer only half the story, or sometimes giving scenes without any context. For some anime, this would be a disaster waiting to happen, but in the case of Evangelion, this is done almost consistently masterfully, holding back information on such subjects such as SELEE or The Angels. Many have critisized the holding of frames later in the series, but taken into the context of the fact they were running out of money to make the show, is is understandable.
For many fans, their major criticism of the anime is the handling of the ending, which many consider far too ‘out there’ and simply crap. I too, am not a huge fan of the ending, but taking the ending to the TV series, inside the context of the ‘true’ ending movie, The End of Evangelion, the ending can make a lot more sense, and thus I enjoy it far, far more. To stop me from ranting on for ages, Evangelion’s story is a master stroke in writing, one which has been a hard feat to replicate.
Art and Sound: I was introduced to Evangelion through the in-progress tetraology of films, The Rebuild of Evangelion; due to this, I became used to the cutting edge graphics employed for the higher-budget films. And to be honest, yes, the TV series art is beginning to show it’s age 20 years on; however, this does not detract from the series in any major capcity, as the art compliments the anime extremely well.
The sound is also fantastic, and a very high-point for the show. Excellent music is employed to showcase the fights against the Angels, and for darker moments such as the internal struggles of the main cast of the show. Some of Beethoven’s music is featured later in the series, which coupled with the emotional impact of the scene, produces one of the most excellent scenes in anime history.
Characters: By a massive leap, the highlight of the series. Evangelion features in it’s story the struggles of the main characters, to devastatingly wonderful effect. Weak, timid, daddy-issues Shinji, to powerful, arrogant, egotistical Asuka, to the quiet, mysterious Rei, and the dark, apparently agnostical Gendo, Evangelion develes into the mind and motivations of these characters, showcasing exactly what makes them tick, and this is what gives us some animes most regonisable and wonderful characters.
I am certain entire essays have been written on why certain charcters tick, and that’s another reason so many of these characters are so wonderful. Fans are so devoted to their favorite characters (personally I am partial to Rei and Gendo), and this creates a wonderful feeling when learning about these characters and then discussing this with other fans. Generally, Evangelion employs some of the most human characters in anime, showing us that the heroes of anime aren’t always strong, both mentally and physically, or not even in control of their lives.
In closing, Evangelion is one of the strongest anime ever produced. It employs powerful characters, a deep, deep story, and art that has only just began to show it’s age. What makes the show’s longevity even more powerful is that even now on sites such as EvaGeeks people are still analysing this series, trying to know everything about it. I hope Evangelion will live on in the hearts of it’s fans, who’ll continue to appreciate it’s deep, metaphorical story. I hope that Evangelion will always remain an anime that will be treasured, for all the ages.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
2. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
3. Kidou Senkan Nadesico
4. Saber Marionette J
5. After War Gundam X
6. YAT Anshin! Uchuu Ryokou
7. Ougon Yuusha Goldran
8. Dragon Ball GT
9. Chouja Raideen