Seen some Rating
Master Keaton (OAV) Very good
Texhnolyze (TV) Good

Seen all Rating
80 Days Around the World With Willy Fog (TV) So-so
Ah! My Goddess: The Movie Decent
Akira (movie) Very good
It’s a hugely important film but, at least in its second half (the first half zips by at an impressive rate), an only moderately entertaining film. It’s well worth watching though (pretty much mandatory viewing in fact) regardless of its flaws, chief amongst which is an attempt to squeeze six hours of plot into a two hour film. The art and animation are top notch and Neo-Tokyo, as well as being beautifully rendered, is as atmospheric and memorable a setting as you could ask for, the characters are not always particularly sympathetic but they are well designed and well voiced and the intelligence of the work always shines through…if only the narrative had room to breathe. Akira is a flawed but seminal classic and, twenty years on, it’s still one of the few productions that should be a cornerstone of any anime fan’s collection – a yardstick by which other anime films are judged.
Angelic Layer (TV) So-so
A somewhat unengaging (though perfectly watchable) toy advertisement in search of a toy to advertise. Angelic Layer is a production that's passable in most regards but excels in none and while it's not boring (and it's certainly entertaining enough to hold the attention of the pre-teen audience it was designed for) it's difficult to recommend it very highly. The supporting cast are mostly quite entertaining and the tournament structure is handled as well as could be expected of such a tired format (this is pretty much an archetypal shônen fighting show model re-cast in a shôjo mould) but the protagonist is rather irksome, and her developing relationship with her absentee mother (and competitor-in-chief) goes for heart-warming but only manages to achieve nausea inducing (on both an emotional and an intellectual level). This is time-filler anime – it’s easy enough to sit through (aside from the last few episodes in which the afore-mentioned nausea inducing family drama reaches its zenith) but, unless you’re a CLAMP obsessive, there’s nothing much to be gained by doing so.
(The) Animatrix (OAV) Decent
Appleseed (movie) Good
If you're looking for a story of a dystopian future with real depth you'd be better off with, well, all sorts of things really. But this is an often visually spectacular reworking of the Appleseed setting (a lot of people didn’t like the blend of 3D CG and faux 2D cel shading but I beg to differ – I thought it looked great when it came out and I think it mostly holds up well now, aesthetically speaking) and an agreeably enjoyable action movie that largely succeeds on its own terms. Yes, it’s all fairly shallow and hackneyed but as the eye candy whizzes by at a pleasing rate and stuff goes “BANG” on a regular basis, I’m inclined to shrug, conclude that it is what it is, sit back and enjoy the ride.
Aquarian Age - Sign for Evolution (TV) Decent
A series based on a collectible card game targeted at adolescent school girls…doesn’t sound promising does it? Somehow, however, Aquarian Age didn’t turn out so bad. I’d even be prepared to go right out on a limb and say it’s moderately enjoyable. As might be expected, the plot is limited by virtue of being written around the game’s factions and structure but it still manages to build up a bit of momentum. The character designs are a little over-stylised for my tastes but it’s not an unattractive production. I could go on in this vein – in pretty much every area this show exceeds expectations…but never by all that much. About the only area in which the show fails badly is the soundtrack – when the protagonist of your show is the singer in a rock band and other characters include bandmates, pop idols and music executives, having a very limited selection of not very convincing songs is a good way to undermine whatever atmosphere you might have developed.
Arjuna (TV) So-so
Astro Boy (U.S. movie) Not really good
Azumanga Daioh (TV) Good
Azumanga Daioh - The Very Short Movie Decent
Azumi (live-action movie) Good
A suitably epic Samurai film, this makes up in spectacle what it lacks in finesse. The merry band of teenage assassins are all rather two-dimensional, including the titular Azumi, and the plot is hardly treading new ground (what is it with the Japanese and effete, psychotic, homosexual villains?) but the many sword fights are undeniably entertaining (particularly the mass carnage of the concluding battles) and it’s an enjoyable, if undemanding, way to fill a couple of hours.
Azumi 2: Death or Love (live-action movie) Good
Battle Royale (live-action movie) Very good
Battle Royale II: Requiem (live-action movie) Not really good
Beyond (OAV) Very good
See "The Animatrix".
Black Jack The Movie Not really good
Blood: The Last Vampire (movie) Very good
Originally intended to be the middle section of a three-part OAV, Blood gets a lot of criticism for dropping the viewer into the middle of the action with little in the way of background or exposition and a decidedly open-ended conclusion. Personally, I think it works. It’s an interesting, atypical and atmospheric setting, it looks stunning (it’s basically an exercise in “look-what-we-can-do” by Production IG), has great character designs, is nicely paced and the action scenes are generally very well handled (though the monsters are a little underwhelming). The lack of spoon-fed background or any real closure lends the production a certain enigmatic, snapshot quality – as does the intriguing blank slate of a protagonist.
Boogiepop and Others (live-action movie) Very good
An unexpected pleasure, this is a genuinely intelligent movie adaptation of the light novel of the same name. Stylish, surreal and mostly well-acted, the film is initially confusing (and quite deliberately so) but as more viewpoints of the same events are added to the mix, everything begins to slot satisfyingly into place. As good as it is, this is no masterpiece – the idea of viewing the same events from many different perspectives (with no one angle providing the full picture) is not new and has been done better elsewhere, the characters are not universally intriguing and the budget constraints leave the film looking like a decent TV production rather than a theatrical release. Caveats aside, this is well worth a look – it’s an involving film with a number of genuinely memorable scenes and characters.
Brave Story (movie) Very good
Cannon Fodder (movie) Very good
See "Memories".
Castle in the Sky (movie) Excellent
(The) Cat Returns (movie) Very good
An attractive and highly entertaining movie, The Cat Returns is fairly lacking in substance for a Studio Ghibli release – it was, after all, originally envisaged as a short commercial for an amusement park – but it's a worthy addition to the Ghibli canon nonetheless. Ultimately, any flaws are adequately compensated for by the charming protagonist, the inspired feline antics of the supporting cast and a handful of spectacular set pieces. This release shouldn't leave anyone overly disappointed provided they take it for what it is – a sweet and funny child-friendly family film – rather than viewing it in the shadow of the Miyazaki and Takahata classics the preceded it.
Cat Soup (OAV) Good
Chrono Crusade (TV) So-so
Colorful (TV) Bad
A “sex comedy” that’s not remotely sexy and never comes close to being funny, Colorful is a series of short sketches (many with recurring characters) entirely based around the premise that women exist purely to be ogled at and men are entirely unable to resist drooling over and / or sexually harassing them (which neatly absolves them of any responsibility of course). The whole thing is deeply – and offensively – misogynistic. Despite being entirely focussed on breasts and buttocks, Colorful isn’t remotely explicit, which rather begs the question of just who it’s supposed to appeal to – the humour is too juvenile to appeal to anybody with a mental age over 13 (man looks at cleavage, man gets nosebleed, hilarity ensues…genius…) and yet the sub-softcore content means that any hormonal adolescent with an internet connection would not be at all hard pressed to find a better outlet for their onanistic pursuits. I guess it must be aimed at men who believe that catching a glimpse of a passing woman’s underwear really is the most exciting thing that will ever happen to them. Only the occasional decent character design and a pleasingly catchy ska-punk opening song save this show from an even worse score.
Conan, the Boy in Future (TV) Excellent
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Excellent
Essentially a side-story, this film works unusually well as a stand-alone by-product of the franchise (I watched it before seeing the TV anime without either being confused or feeling that anything in the TV series had been given away). The whole thing looks phenomenal and there are certain moments that shift the aesthetics into the sublime (certain shots of the Arabic quarter of the city for example). Aside from great art and great animation, the sound is pretty good too – the blues soundtrack is somewhat inauthentic and lacking in grit but, taken in context, it fits the visuals and atmosphere of the film like a glove. There are problems, of course. The plot is neither groundbreaking nor very substantial, the fight scenes are occasionally a little too drawn out and certain plot devices (e.g. the vintage aeroplanes) seem to have been inserted purely because somebody thought it would look cool and to hell with the audience’s suspension of disbelief. These are just niggles, however – this is a thoroughly entertaining, visually stunning and eminently recommendable action flick.
Cromartie High School (TV) Excellent
A genuinely funny series, the offbeat humour of Cromartie High School is a cocktail of gags, surreal observation, slapstick and parody that’s quite distinct from any other anime I’ve yet to encounter. Indeed, the sense of humour on display seems to have more in common with the better British TV comedies than with its animated Japanese peers. The series’ brief (half-length) episodes are better watched a few at a time since watching them en masse tends to dilute the effect and result in a certain sense of déjà vu. The animation’s on the cheap side and the art is deliberately rough (in the manner of the manga) but both fit the feel of the production and the excellence of the Japanese voice cast, the great comic timing and the quality of the material – dry, wry, witty and bizarre – make this a veritable classic.
Dai-Guard (TV) Very good
Dead Leaves (OAV) Good
Detective Story (OAV) Decent
See "The Animatrix".
(The) Diary of Tortov Roddle (ONA) Very good
Divergence Eve (TV) Weak
Dominion Tank Police (OAV) Awful
Dominion Tank Police is not remotely attractive, it's not funny, it's not exciting, it's not consistent, it's not interesting, it's not a good example of how to re-release an ageing video cassette title onto DVD and it's certainly not worth buying. It’s worth noting that this is a dub-only release and that the dub is a bad one but, even presuming that the Japanese version is markedly better, this is one OAV that’s beyond salvaging – the manga upon which this is based is no masterpiece itself but it is at least moderately amusing and is superior to this adaptation in pretty much every conceivable way.
Excel Saga (TV) Not really good
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (movie) Bad
An utterly pointless and fundamentally bad film…the CG animation is mostly very impressive and the Japanese voice cast is competent but these plus points don’t come close to making up for the gaping holes in this project. Unlike the earlier FF movie, Spirits Within, this film is largely incomprehensible to anybody who hasn’t played the video game it’s based on (despite a fair amount of tedious and clumsy exposition) and that can’t be a good thing – a theatrical movie needs to be able to stand on its own merits. This presumption of foreknowledge extends to dropping multiple game characters into minor roles in the film without anything resembling an introduction that might allow the casual viewer to know who or what they are. Swords that look like they weigh considerably more than the people swinging them, fights that look, well, turn-based, people with extraordinary powers that are never explained…everything points to a film that aped its source material instead of adapting it for a broader audience and a different medium. If you’ve played the game and you liked it so much you’d be happy to watch a feature-length cut scene, you may get something out of this. Otherwise, beyond checking out the nifty CG technology, this film’s a waste of time and money.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (US CG movie) Decent
As a seminal example of a fully CG feature film, Spirits Within was pretty successful – the animation is occasionally a little awkward but has mostly held up remarkably well. From a technical point of view, it was an impressive achievement. From a dramatic perspective…things are a little less rosy. It’s not awful – no worse than the average live-action, science fiction b-movie, certainly – but it’s decidedly not a classic of its genre. For the most part, however, a capable voice cast, some sexy machinery and some nice special effects overcome the film’s various deficiencies and it’s easy enough to get through it without your eyes glazing over. Finding a reason to watch it again may be more challenging.
(The) Final Flight of the Osiris (OAV) Decent
See "The Animatrix".
Full Metal Panic! (TV) Decent
Gad Guard (TV) Good
Gatchaman (TV) Bad
Battle of the Planets (the American “adaptation” of Gatchaman) was, some 28 years ago, the first anime I ever saw. Not that I knew what the word anime meant – I was about four years old at the time. Anyway, I loved it as a young child and for many, many years afterwards I remembered it fondly and with a great sense of nostalgia…right up until I saw it again as a twenty-something adult. It’s bad. I mean it’s really, really bad – bad in almost every conceivable way. It’s entirely possible that the unadulterated Japanese original is a great deal more entertaining – I may one day pick it up and find out, in which case this entry will be updated – but the BotP version firmly belongs in the file marked “shattered childhood convictions”.
Gauche the Cellist (movie) Good
Genshiken (TV) Good
Ghost in the Shell (movie) Very good
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (movie) Very good
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV) Very good
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (TV) Very good
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society (movie) Good
(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie) Excellent
(The) Gokusen (TV) Good
Comparisons to GTO are inevitable but possibly unwarranted. There are similarities of plot, of course, but the shared themes were hardly GTO’s invention – see Salaryman Kintaro for example – and despite the similar settings, The Gokusen ultimately has a tone of its own. It’s a fairly cheap and cheerful production and the plot doesn’t really throw up many surprises but it’s a well-written and genuinely amusing comedy and the cast – Cromartie style delinquents, well-meaning yakuza thugs, dim-witted crooks and, of course, Kumiko herself – are all fun characters. The only fly in the ointment as far as characters are concerned is Kumiko’s anthropomorphic bulldog who appears to have snuffled in from a passing children’s cartoon, feels quite out of place and really adds nothing of merit to the proceedings. It’s a little too lightweight and a little too forgettable to merit a higher grade but for a fun and undemanding distraction, you could do much worse.
Grave of the Fireflies (movie) Excellent
Gravion (TV) Awful
Gunsmith Cats (OAV) Not really good
Haibane Renmei (TV) Masterpiece
It’s hard to write about Haibane Renmei without gushing – this intelligent, mature, quietly contemplative and deeply moving allegorical exploration of wounded psyches is easily one of the two or three best anime series I have ever seen (or ever expect to see). The viewer is gently immersed – alongside the protagonist – into a placid, detailed, beautifully realised and intriguing world but by the fifth episode they’re on an emotionally resonant and utterly compelling excursion into depression and suicide, loneliness and isolation, dependency and self-discovery, hope and redemption. Yoshitoshi ABe conceived this work on his own upswing from a spell of deep depression making this a deeply personal work and yet it is also a surprisingly accessible work for anybody with the patience to accommodate it and sufficient life experience to interpret it. If I were being unduly picky I might point out that the hazy soft focus effect used in the earlier episodes is not entirely effective and that the animation is not particularly fluid…but in a series this good, these are mere quibbles. This is affecting and, ultimately (once you get past the lump in your throat), genuinely uplifting stuff – if only there were more than a handful of other anime series that came remotely close to reaching the pedestal it sits upon.
Hal & Bons (OAV) Decent
A brief series of CG shorts, this is pretty well done and quite funny in an understated sort of way. Having said that, neither the format nor the premise is geared towards any great depth making this an amusing diversion rather than something you can really get your teeth into. Well worth a few minutes of your time in any case provided that you’re a fan of dry, slightly surreal humour.
Heat Guy J (TV) Decent
Hijikata Toshizo: Shiro no Kiseki (OAV) So-so
Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Very good
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie) Very good
Kai Doh Maru (OAV) So-so
An interesting but failed experiment (to create an anime that would emulate the style and colour palette of Japanese feudal art in order to lend a sense of antiquity), Kai Doh Maru is more of a curiosity than anything else. Its genuine beauty is obscured by a computer generated Vaseline-like overlay, it's very talky without anybody having anything particularly interesting to say and the resolution feels rushed. Then again, it's visually quite unlike any other anime ever released and on the odd occasion when it actually works, it works very well indeed.
Kid's Story (OAV) Good
See "The Animatrix".
Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) Masterpiece
Kill Bill Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren (movie segment) Decent
Kimagure Robot (TV) Decent
Kino's Journey (TV) Very good
Kujibiki Unbalance (OAV) Not really good
Kujira no Chōyaku - Glassy Ocean (movie) Good
Lady Snowblood (live-action movie 1973) Decent
Last Exile (TV) Excellent
Love Hina (TV) Bad
Lupin III: Crisis in Tokyo (special) Good
Lupin III: Dead or Alive (movie) Good
Lupin III: Dragon of Doom (special) Good
Lupin III: Farewell to Nostradamus (movie) Very good
Lupin III: Island of Assassins (special) Good
Lupin III: Missed by a Dollar (special) Good
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (movie) Very good
Lupin III: The Columbus Files (special) Decent
Lupin III: The Fuma Conspiracy (movie) Very good
Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao's Treasure (special) Good
Lupin III: The Secret of Twilight Gemini (movie) Good
Lupin III: Voyage to Danger (special) Good
Lupin the 3rd: Bye Bye, Lady Liberty (special) Decent
Probably the weakest of the Lupin III films I’ve seen, this is watchable enough (though probably only for existing fans of the franchise) but only very moderately entertaining. The version watched was the old Manga UK dub-only VHS release (come to think of it, I don’t think it ever made it to DVD) so, needless to say, it doesn’t look great and it doesn’t sound great (at least if you’re used to the established Japanese voice cast). There’s a deeply annoying brat character that gets way too much screen time and while Lupin was never about plausibility this outing does see the proceedings taken in particularly ludicrous directions. Still, it’s as goofy and good natured as you’d expect and it’s certainly worth watching if you’re a Lupin fan…it’s just not worth watching twice.
Macross Plus (OAV) Not really good
Macross Plus Movie Edition Not really good
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (TV) Not really good
Magnetic Rose (movie) Excellent
See "Memories".
Mahoromatic - Automatic Maiden (TV) Bad
Martian Successor Nadesico (TV) Decent
Master Keaton (TV) Very good
Matriculated (OAV) Not really good
See "The Animatrix".
MazinKaiser (OAV) So-so
Megumi (ONA) So-so
A freely distributed ONA designed to highlight the plight of the eponymous young Japanese girl whose kidnapping by North Korea was greeted by a seemingly underwhelming interest from her own government. The show was clearly produced on a fairly restrictive budget but, while it’s in no danger of winning any animation awards, it’s quite sufficient to get the job done and aid Megumi’s family in telling a story that deserves greater circulation than it has had thus far (both in Japan and abroad). Less easy to brush off is the frankly horrific English dub which appears to have been voiced by the first half dozen tourists to wonder past the studio’s window – it’s a harrowing true story and it deserves better than a dub that varies from very, very bad to laugh-out-loud funny (probably not the mood they were going for).
Memories (movie) Excellent
Metropolis (movie) Excellent
Mezzo (TV) Decent
Millennium Actress (movie) Masterpiece
Mind Game (movie) Excellent
Mushishi (live-action movie) Decent
My Neighbor Totoro (movie) Masterpiece
My Neighbors the Yamadas (movie) Decent
(The) Mysterious Cities of Gold (TV) Excellent
One of my all-time favourite childhood cartoons (along with a Spanish-Japanese co-production called Dogtanian), I remember this, with a great deal of fondness, as being an absolutely epic adventure. Then again, it’s about 20 years since I last saw it and I’m fully aware that childhood nostalgia doesn’t always survive contact with the truth so, until I get my hands on the new box set, both the mark and this write-up are strictly provisional.
Najica Blitz Tactics (TV) Bad
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Excellent
Nekojiru Gekijō (TV) Decent
New Cutey Honey (OAV) Not really good
A cheerfully (and knowingly) dumb update of the venerable Cutey Honey magical girl franchise, it’s a cocktail of boobs, explosions, catchphrases, more boobs, tongue in cheek dialogue, two-fisted action and ropey old sex jokes that’s undoubtedly an acquired taste. The art, character designs and, well, pretty much everything else other than the disturbingly catchy opening song are decidedly retro and the whole production feels like a low budget C feature. So, it’s cheap and it’s dated and it’s kind of stupid and it emphasises naked ladies and slapstick over all else and…and…and actually it’s not as terrible as it ought to be. Go Nagai is quite clearly a dirty old man and most of his works are, at best, cheesy beyond belief but this is daft, mindless entertainment – it’s not actually good by any stretch of the imagination but it raises a smile from time to time.
NieA_7 (TV) Decent
Ninja Resurrection (OAV) Bad
Going by the reviews, one might be forgiven for thinking that Ninja Resurrection was the most offensive anime ever made. It isn’t all that offensive (provided you aren’t a Christian of the dour and humourless variety), relative to some of the other rubbish that’s been churned out over the years, but it is thoroughly tedious and largely without merit. The OAVs were cancelled suddenly in mid-plot halfway through the series, which would normally be a great annoyance but in this case is something of a relief. Basically, what we have here is some bloody but not particularly convincing violence, some religious themes and symbolism that were clearly well beyond the ken of the writer and director and a rather lifeless historical setting all squeezed into a cheap, mercifully brief, half-finished series.
Ocean Waves (special) Very good
Oh My Goddess! (OAV) Not really good
Oldboy (Korean movie) Excellent
Only Yesterday (movie) Masterpiece
Orguss 02 (OAV) Good
Panda! Go, Panda! (movie) Good
Paprika (movie) Masterpiece
Paranoia Agent (TV) Excellent
Parasite Dolls (OAV) Good
Purchased on a whim and with no great expectations of quality following lacklustre reviews, Parasite Dolls was an unexpected pleasure. There’s nothing tremendously original here and nor is it quite as deep as it might have been had it not been a short, episodic OAV series but this is, nonetheless, atmospheric, intelligent, pleasingly dark (literally and figuratively) and cynical cyberpunk with no annoying otaku-friendly cliché characters to get between the viewer and the dystopian Gibsonesque action. It’s not GitS but it is a welcome addition to the genre.
Patlabor 2: The Movie Very good
Patlabor: The Movie Good
Perfect Blue (movie) Excellent
Ping Pong (live-action movie) Very good
(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie) Decent
Pom Poko (movie) Very good
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (movie) Excellent
Porco Rosso (movie) Excellent
Princess Blade (live-action movie 2001) Good
Princess Mononoke (movie) Excellent
Program (OAV) Bad
See "The Animatrix".
Puni Puni Poemy (OAV) Decent
RahXephon (TV) Good
Read or Die (OAV) Good
Riding Bean (OAV) Awful
Roujin Z (OAV) Very good
Rune Soldier (TV) Decent
Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection (OAV) Weak
This looks vastly superior to the movie but the increase in production values is matched by a decrease in storytelling skills. There are less shônen clichés here but there’s also more teenage angst and with no moderately entertaining action or adventure to hang that angst from, it just comes across as wallowing. It’s also even less penetrable than the movie for those not familiar with the manga and / or TV series upon which it’s based and whilst that’s more forgivable for an OAV spin-off, it resulted for me in an unengaging viewing experience that was a 50/50 mix of looking at the mostly pretty but essentially meaningless pictures and checking the time elapsed counter on the DVD player. I would have given this a lower mark but for the fact that I recognise it’s intended for existing fans of the franchise and, not being part of said demographic, I can’t really give this a fair appraisal.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Motion Picture Weak
It might be the case that this movie would be more enjoyable with prior knowledge of the manga and TV series that spawned it. That said, a movie has to stand alone on its own merits and be judged accordingly. On that basis, I find Samurai X to be mediocre at best - few of the cast are developed to any extent whatsoever, presumably on the (erroneous in my case) assumption that viewers would be fans of the TV series. The setting is an inherently interesting one – the rapid fall of feudal Japan to the inexorable encroachment of Western culture, politics and military power – but it’s also a frequently used one and the problem with that is that it’s hard not to make comparisons to other works that covered the trials and tribulations of that age with far greater depth and without so much whimsical romanticism. Lady Snowblood springs to mind. The setting aside, this is fairly typical shônen nonsense of the oh-so-earnest “I’ll do my best!” variety but with added introspection and shoe gazing. For a theatrical movie this is pretty weak from an art standpoint (though the animation is smooth) and nothing much else stands out as being particularly praiseworthy either. This is probably best left to those who nostalgically remember being enchanted by the franchise as children - there is nothing here to commend this title to a mature audience that are fresh to the franchise.
SaiKano (TV) Awful
SaiKano: Another Love Song (OAV) Weak
Salaryman Kintaro (TV) Good
Samurai Gun (TV) Not really good
A show that was clearly aiming for dark, sexy, intriguing and exciting but ended up having to be satisfied being a barely adequate action piece. The central premise (machineguns and steam trains in the mid-19th Century feudal Japan of an alternate history) ends up as just a hook upon which to hang cool props; there’s no explanation and no real insight into how the early introduction of such technology might have impacted upon society – The Difference Engine this is not. There’s a dark strand of misogynistic sexual sadism running throughout the series – it may be the bad guys hunting and torturing semi-naked women on a semi-regular basis and the good guys punishing them for doing so but the lingering eye of the camera results in the inescapable conclusion that these scenes are designed to titillate the audience rather than to advance the plot. The main players are all at least somewhat interesting but, like the premise, they are never really explored in any depth. However, the action scenes, most of them set in dead of night, are fairly well handled and generally entertaining and whilst they rarely have any kind of grounding in realism, that’s hardly a flaw unique to this series. This is just about worth watching – provided you have nothing better to do – but with a little more thought it could have been much more than that.
Second Renaissance (OAV) Good
See "The Animatrix".
Serial Experiments Lain (TV) Decent
She and Her Cat (OAV) Decent
Sky Blue (Korean movie) Decent
Spirit of Wonder Scientific Boys Club (OAV) Very good
Spirited Away (movie) Excellent
Steamboy (movie) Very good
Stink Bomb (movie) Very good
See "Memories".
Suicide Club (live-action movie) Decent
Tachikomatic Days (OAV) Very good
Tales from Earthsea (movie) Good
Tekkonkinkreet (movie) Very good
Tobira o Akete (OAV 1995) Decent
Tokyo Godfathers (movie) Excellent
Trava (OAV) Decent
Ulysses 31 (TV) Good
A show I watched and enjoyed in my childhood back in the 1980s. I didn't follow it as avidly as its stablemate, The Mysterious Cities Of Gold, and I don't remember it quite as fondly (or as vividly) as that show but I do recall that it was superior - if not especially aesthetically pleasing - children's entertainment with a scope and intelligence little seen on kid's TV these days.
Urusei Yatsura: Only You (movie) Decent
Vampire Hunter D (OAV) Awful
A truly ugly film with a truly stupid plot. I can’t, in all honesty, think of anything nice to say about this badly-dated production at all. The mishmash of western, sci-fi and b-movie horror themes could have been intriguing…but isn’t. The character designs are universally awful. The dialogue is awful. The voice acting is awful. The fanservice is more than a little bit creepy. None of the cast is remotely sympathetic. The fights are indescribably tedious. The humorous interludes aren’t remotely funny. The level of intelligence on display would insult a five year old. It’s a wonder I made it to the end of the movie. The version I watched was Manga UK’s dub-only DVD release but even if the Japanese voice cast is exemplary (which they may or may not be), this is still a thoroughly execrable waste of time and money.
Vexille - 2077 Isolation of Japan (movie) Decent
Voices of a Distant Star (OAV) Decent
Wanwan Sanjushi (TV) Good
Weather Woman (live-action movie) Decent
A rather odd and decidedly Japanese film – it’s a strange amalgamation of b-movie sexploitation with S&M overtones, media satire and comedic surrealism. Something like a toned down and greatly emasculated version of Visitor Q really. It’s genuinely amusing in parts and though it’s patchy and uneven, when viewed as a curiosity it’s actually quite entertaining.
Whisper of the Heart (movie) Very good
It’s far from being the greatest of Ghibli movies but this is an entertaining and moving production nonetheless. Our protagonist and her family are delightful characters and the film’s theme of magic as a by-product of learning and imagination is an entirely welcome one (and deftly handled at that). The central romantic plot is somewhat less convincing – largely because the object of our heroine’s affection isn’t nearly as well developed as he might be, leaving the viewer little choice but to accept that the two of them are a match made in heaven on fairly flimsy evidence. Greater problems are that, firstly, the charm of the first two thirds or so of the film is not fully sustained throughout (though it’s never entirely absent) and that, secondly, the conclusion (which I won’t spoil here) is liable to leave European and North American audiences somewhat incredulous given the age of the protagonist and her beau. Still, the expected Ghibli production standards, a great cast, a non-cloying dose of nostalgia-for-lost-youth and full quotas of literary flights of fancy and romantic whimsy make this a solid and thoroughly enjoyable excursion.
Wolf's Rain (TV) Decent
Wolf's Rain (OAV) Decent
World Record (OAV) Weak
See "The Animatrix".
You're Under Arrest (OAV) Decent
Having been produced as a mainstream family show, YUA spurns the usual fanboy pandering and violence in favour of adult characters and generally effective gentle situational comedy and it’s all the better for that. The UK release is dub-only and whilst the dub isn’t terrible relative to other dubs of this age (which isn’t really saying much), the crude and grating localisations (“You go girl!”) are irksome and feel awfully dated. The character designs are quite pleasing without being anything special and the animation and background art is up to standard but it’s the technical designs – cars and bikes and whatnot – that have clearly had the most care and attention lavished on them and they look exceptionally good. Our protagonists are a genuinely appealing pair and most of the supporting characters are a lot of fun. The driving sequences always look good and are sometimes quite enjoyable (especially in the first episode) but the cheerfully upbeat tone of the series makes it difficult to ever feel the girls in blue are in any real danger. Similarly, the character development and romantic entanglements are fun but lacking in substance. Overall, this isn’t particularly deep but it’s a refreshing change of pace and it’s difficult not to remember it with affection.
You're Under Arrest Specials Weak
A collection of 20 very short episodes designed to promote the YUA movie, these “mini specials” add nothing to the franchise. The art and animation are fairly basic but that’s not the problem here. The problem is that most of what made YUA so enjoyable has been stripped out of the production in favour of appallingly repetitive, decidedly immature and hopelessly unfunny fanservice-orientated “comedy” with a distinctly different tone. There are a handful of episodes that eschew the panty thief / flasher / peeping tom route and turn out to be quite enjoyable and there’s enough charm left in the characters that this isn’t unwatchable (at least if you don’t attempt to digest it in large helpings and thus alleviate the sense of déjà vu somewhat) but it’s hardly something I could recommend, even to fans of the OAVs, TV series and movie.
You're Under Arrest: The Movie Decent
In terms of production values this is a clear step up from previous YUA releases but, attractive as it is, it’s not really anything all that special in the looks department considering that it’s a theatrical movie. Beyond the aesthetics, it’s an enjoyable thriller and it’s nice to see everybody’s favourite traffic cops back in action once more but the plot does seem to be a little out of character - a little too bombastic and fraught - for a series that was always so good at making drama out of the little things in life. On the plus side, Tsujimoto and Kobayakawa are as peppy and appealing as ever and thing move along at a good pace. Newcomers to the franchise won’t have any problems following the film but without an attachment to the characters developed in the OAV and TV series I’d imagine that few would find it to be much more engaging than a typical American live-action made-for-TV movie.
Yugo the Negotiator (TV) So-so
It’s always nice to find an intelligent, mature anime series that eschews the usual clichés and avoids any temptation to pander to virginal otaku. Unfortunately, Yugo is not all that it might be. The series prides itself on the realism of its locales and characters and on the grittiness and plausibility of its refreshingly non-fantastical plots. The problem is that whilst Yugo looks right it never quite feels right – the Pakistani and Russian settings are superficially well-researched but weak cultural stereotypes and Cold War era archetypes regularly seep through the veneer, the women are all stock seinen wish fulfilment fodder and both plot arcs are somewhat unconvincing in narrative terms. Worst of all, Yugo himself is literally too good to be true – he knows everything, withstands any torture (all too regularly), speaks every language under the sun fluently and can pass himself off as being of any nationality. Suspension of disbelief takes a severe blow to the head. What results is a series that’s somewhat interesting without ever being really intriguing and moderately entertaining but not at all engaging.
Zaion: I Wish You Were Here (ONA) Awful
A tedious plot, annoying and generic angst-ridden characters, poor dialogue, sub-par voice acting (in both sub and dub versions), terrible animation and uninspired art do not add up to a great show. It’s only four episodes long and yet somehow it took me a fortnight to get through it all – possibly because I fell asleep on at least three occasions whilst watching it. I’ve seen worse but not often. Watching Zaion is like watching paint dry only with less narrative punch.
Zone of the Enders: Idolo (OAV) So-so
If I was asked to present the epitome of mediocre, so-so, not bad, distinctly average anime, ZOE – Idolo would be my answer. It looks okay, it sounds okay, the mecha designs are okay, the plot is okay, the characters are okay, the dialogue is okay, it’s all…okay. The problem is that at no point does it ever get better than okay. At no point does it stretch the extra distance and achieve good or intriguing or novel. Hell, even if it were to occasionally dip down into sub-mediocrity I’d have been grateful for the relief from constant okayness. It’s perfectly watchable but it’s also depressingly bland, forgettable and devoid of personality or distinguishing features.

Will not finish Rating
Elfen Lied (TV) Bad
What happens when you combine generic romantic comedy, bloody ultra-violence, syrupy moe of the more nauseating variety, and loli-flavoured sexuality on the one hand with delusions of artistic sensibility and a hackneyed sci-fi plot on the other? You get a mess, that’s what – a mess called Elfen Lied. A doomed attempt to combine the basest pandering to every fetishistic desire of the mouth-breathing, basement dwelling, socially incapable otaku contingent with pretensions of narrative depth, this show is, at best, faintly embarrassing and, at worst, queasily uncomfortable to watch. The blood and guts content, while profuse, is curiously bland (as is the profligate gratuitous nudity), none of the characters is very sympathetic – or at all well developed – and the romance and melodrama isn’t at all engaging. The production values aren’t at all bad and the show’s not unwatchable (in a so-cheesy-it’s-almost-amusing kind of way) but that’s about as close as I can come to an endorsement.
Ga-Ra-Ku-Ta: Mr. Stain on Junk Alley (TV) Decent
Girl's High (TV) So-so
An adaptation of the High School Girls manga that manages to amplify all of the problems inherent in its source material whilst simultaneously failing to emulate its strengths. The characters and the situational comedy are compelling enough that it remains quite watchable and, indeed, moderately amusing but I’m left, nonetheless, with the feeling that more has been lost in the translation from one medium to the other than was strictly necessary and whilst the manga was capable of appealing to males and females, teens and adults, the anime seems much more focussed on the horny male teenager demographic. That’s not a good thing (at least not if you don’t fall into that demographic and have some appreciation for the original version) – and the bargain basement animation doesn’t help matters.
Noir (TV) Bad
Unappealing characters with horribly ugly character designs, insipid voice acting, nods to sixties spy films that are barely skin deep, tedious dialogue, glacial plot development and implausible storylines…Noir is like how-not-to-make-girls-with-guns-anime-for-dummies. Something might have been salvageable if not for the fact that the show entirely squanders what could have been its two biggest (and possibly only) strengths. Firstly, for an action show, Noir is decidedly lacking in excitement, tension and threat. The violence is completely bloodless (it’s Hollywood style carnage without consequences) and cartoonish with droves of faceless minions gunned down en masse to no great effect and the viewer is never left in any doubt as to the outcome of the battles. That’s fine in a light-hearted show but in something that sets itself up as having grit and depth, it’s poison. Secondly, the show’s French setting could have provided an atmospheric backdrop and an opportunity to wander down paths less travelled in the world of anime. Here too, it falls flat on its face. Aside from the occasional crude visual cue, the setting could be anywhere. Anywhere in Japan that is. The French protagonist is in no way culturally (or linguistically) differentiated from the Japanese protagonist and the setting is squandered – not only does it not add anything to the atmosphere but the production team’s obvious lack of familiarity with the locale and its culture actively hinders the viewer’s already perilously thin suspension of disbelief.
Peacemaker (TV) Weak
A deeply irritating teenaged protagonist (complete with spiky hair and a will to improve himself and overcome all obstacles on the quest he lives for) lots of fights and a really annoying mascot animal (that appears to have snuffled in from another anime with a completely different visual style) mark this as yet another tedious shônen epic – albeit a rather nicely presented one. Fairly overt BL elements and the protagonist’s unbelievably effeminate companion (who somewhat resembles Michael Jackson around about the time his nose started to fall off) along with some rather uncharacteristic (for a shônen action show) dialogue and exposition maybe indicate that the makers hoped to bulk out the audience by appealing to the fangirl demographic. Personally, I can’t think for the life of me why anybody, regardless of gender, would want to immerse themselves in this entirely disposable effort. The art’s pretty good, as is the animation and everything’s kept moving forward at an acceptable pace but there’s no shortage of inherently better shows that can make the same claims. None of the characters is particularly appealing and the plot, based on the first volume, is a recipe for ennui.
Shin chan (TV) Weak
This is frantic, puerile, ugly, infantile and generally stupid – and intentionally so. I don’t have a problem with that. Unfortunately, it’s an only occasionally funny show and given that its whole appeal (or lack thereof) rests on the quality of the gags, the show is left without any real redeeming features to fall back on. There are a few laughs but not nearly enough to be worth the time required to watch it and the dub-only English release, while understandable, doesn’t help to endear this series to me.
(The) Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk (TV) Weak
Having watched the first episode when it was broadcast online by Gonzo, I’m not much interested in watching anymore. An anime based around a computer game (rarely a good sign), the first episode is a weak parody romp featuring a team of adventurers on a D&D style dungeon jaunt – it’s rather like Rune Soldier only with all the charm removed and a lot of gags that feel like slightly dodgy knock-offs from an unused script for an episode of Excel Saga. I hear that subsequent episodes move in an entirely different direction – if I ever bother to watch any more of the show (unlikely) I’ll update this write up accordingly. On the basis of the first episode alone, however, it’s all pretty shallow and the art and animation are very much of the cheap and cheerful variety.