Please excuse any entries without a comment or with an incomplete comment. Anything without a comment has been recently finished and I simply haven't had a chance to update it. Something with an incomplete comment is a title that had been under the "Seen Some" category, then got moved over when completed... then never updated. I try to fix these as I find them, but they're much harder to spot since there is actually text in the box.

Seen all Rating
5 Centimeters per Second (movie) Good
The strength of 5 Centimeters Per Second is in the amazing visuals--the animation quality might be some of the best I've seen, topping even the gorgeous ef ~ a tale of memories. The animation is so intricite and detailed that even things like airplane cloud trails end up moving. These background features are normally just painted stationary into the background, but here they pop and move. It is quite stunning. Storywise, 5CPS is decent--a bit confusing (despite its overall simplicity) with characters that aren't given a great deal of personality or interest. The story is a romance, of sorts, but never caused me to care one way or the other. Still, the animation on this title alone makes it a must-see event. The actual mileage will vary depending on the viewer.
Air (TV) Decent
A delightful cast of characters isn't enough to save a mish-mash plot. Without the plotting problems this could have been an easy Excellent. But with the plot issues it barely reaches Decent. If you check your brain at the door and simply enjoy the characters and their travails, Air will be a much more rewarding watch. I wasn't able to do that.
Akira (movie) Not really good
Some interesting aspects to this movie, but I always get really impatient when I watch it. I feel like it succumbs to the cheap trick of just going nonsensical, rather than doing anything of substance. I need to see it again sometime... I made the mistake of selling my copy several years ago when I needed money. Will probably reacquire it, despite my vague qualms with it. ***edit*** So I reacquired it (thanks to winning it uber-cheap on the ebay) and watched it again today. I'll leave the above review there for history's sake rather than completely editing the comment. I found my above complaint about getting impatient with the movie still in full swing. The pacing is absolutely wretched and goes on way too long. They could have easily cut out 20 minutes to half an hour and made it an hour and a half or so and had amuch more effective movie. The other complaint I had above I think is not so valid. It is more that the plot as construed can't support a two-hour movie. I think it would have worked fairly well as an OAV... the ebb and flow nature of episodes would have been a big benefit to the plot. Anyway, a nice DVD to have in my collection on the cheap, but I doubt I will be watching it again anytime soon.
Alien Nine (special) Good
Amusing, but ultimately disappointing, OAV. Four episodes is quitely simply not enough time to make the show really satisfying. I liked what was there a lot... but there needed to be at least 8 episodes to give the series the proper flow and aura. Still, I loved the ideas, and I loved the characters... four episodes just is not long enough to let the series come together.
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku (OAV) Decent
Cute little OAV. Not strong enough to have me running to put in the full series, but not weak enough for me to dismiss it, either. Concept is the epitome of fan service, but somehow it works better than I'd initially think.
Angel's Egg (movie) Excellent
(The) Animatrix (OAV) Decent
Fun vignette collection of stories taking place in the Matrix mythology. The overall feel is very American, but the animators involved are largely genuine Japanese anime big shots. A good example of how American source material leads to an American animation. Best watched as a sub.
Aquatic Language (special) Excellent
Included on the Pale Cocoon dvd as a special feature, Aquatic Language does a lot in a short amount of time. It is a spastic story that bounces around a little cafe, listening in on some of the craziest conversations. The effect works really well--the situation is caricatured quite nicely so that it feels like a fantasy without ever feeling far-reaching.
Avenger (TV) Bad
This has been surprisingly fun. Not a very deep anime, but the characters are amusing and some good action to be had. My one complaint is that there is ALWAYS big, dramatic music going on. It makes whole episodes sound like a preview. It doesn't help that much of the music is nothing more than crappy keyboard effects. I will say that the OP and ED songs are great. ***edit*** Really, this show isn't worth the time. Its tempting because it is such a cheap series... but save the ~$20. The understandable plot is simplistic. The details are shady and hard to follow. The characters are largely wooden puppets... gah. Still, a few amusing moments keep it from sinking into pointless hell... but we should demand more than that out of anime.
Azumanga Daioh (TV) Excellent
I knew this was good... between seeing the first couple of episodes (and loving them) with a friend several times (dating back to before the show was legally available in the US) and just all the good feedback, I knew this was a must-own series. Glad I finally got around to it because it really is a treasure. (I had laughed at some posts calling the series moe... although as I watch it, I have to admit it does feature the dominant elements of moe. Not that I'm one to care one way or the other...). I started on the third disc of the thinpack set today, so I'm almost half-way through. ***edit*** In the end, this turn out to be an awesome series and I'm ashamed I didn't get into it sooner. The characters are ace all around and the scenarios are classic. Highly recommended.
Baccano! (TV) Excellent
If Pulp Fiction was on cocaine, and set in the 1930s, it might end up a lot like Baccano!. While a few structure flaws keep this from being a masterpiece, it somehow manages to work through the flaws to deliver a stunning story. One can either view all of the characters as the main character, or none of the characters as main characters--there is no cut-and-dried protagonsit. Some people will probably emotionally line themselves with certain characters, though they may not get the most out of the story that way.
Barefoot Gen (movie) Very good
A movie often compared to Grave of the Fireflies (and rightly so). It is really good... but really tough. I actually found this one to hit me harder than GotF... which I found to be anti-climactic in the sad department. That isn't to say GotF isn't sad... it is. However, the characters make a lot of bad choices to make it hard to really identify with them. Barefoot, on the other hand, is much more sympathetic because the characters don't make as many bad decisions. Also, the images are much more extreme, making it hit that much harder.
Berserk (TV) Very good
This was such a great show. Until the final episode just ENDS without warning. No resolution, do not pass go, do not collect $100. It has that sudden, random ending that just shouts "we ran out of money.... end scene!" Whether that is the case, or just really poor planning its hard to say. However, up until the last episode Berserk stands with the best in terms of characters, development, and execution. Its just a remarkable tragedy that we couldn't see more.
Black Blood Brothers (TV) Decent
I have the first of three DVDs, with the other two in the mail. I saw the first episode subbed once, then saw it and the other three episodes on the DVD dubbed. The dub is decent... though I'm definitely going to go back and watch 2-4 subbed. (As much as my friend pays lip service to not caring between sub or dub, whenever I put in an anime she requests the sub. Go figure). Anyway, episode one was fantastic. And episodes two through four were great also, even as a dub. I can only imagine that a sub will highly enhance them. This is how vampire animes should be done. Cool swagger, creating their own mythos, intense plot... but funny with characters that are easy to care about. This has potential to be a top-5 series for me. ***Edit*** Now completed and I really enjoyed this one. It works best when viewed as a light-hearted series that some serious stuff happens in. I know a lot of people don't like the characters, but of the character that matter I found them either charming enough or endearing enough to enjoy. In the end, i guess not a top-5 series... but one I'll keep in high regards for a while.
Black Lagoon (TV) Very good
Even though I would have preferred something that wasn't episodic, or more specifically two-to-three episode arcs, everything else about season 1 was absol-freakin-lutely perfect. The characters were a trip and the premise taps into the common fantasy of leaving normal corporate life for something exciting. It kind of evokes the prologue to Monty Pythyon's Meaning of Life in spirit--abused business men who revolt against the system and become pirates. The style to the show is thoroughly western--even moreso than Cowboy Bebop. The show just oozes cool from every spore of its existence. I'm definitely looking forward to the second season.
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage (TV) Excellent
Somehow ended up being better than season one--gone are the nice, easy scenarios. The ante has been ratcheted up quite a bit. From the tense first arc with the bloodthirsty twins to the final arc which gives the series a good Kill Bill/Quentin Tarantino feel. Now that I've finished the series, for about the first time I have interest in digging up the manga--I want more, dangit! (I know better than that... I have never once gotten more than a few chapters in any manga I've started. Still, I want more!)
Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody Decent
I didn't have much hope for this... after all, the Naruto movies have been (largely) nothing more than filler episodes. While the Bleach movie is a filler episode, it keeps up the Bleach tradition of offering genuinely interesting filler. The story works well within the hour-and-a-half time constraint without feeling stretched or truncated in an abnormal way. The fights at the end feel somewhat rushed... but it is a nice change of pace from the normally really drawn-out episode-long fights the series usually muddles in. The introduced character is fun, and the villains... well, defeatable within the time constraint. Of course, it takes the help of thee captains gratuitously thrown in at the last minute (a move that seems as blatant-a-fanservice as having Gaara, etc, in the second Naruto movie). Yet it still works. Very enjoyable.
Blood+ (TV) Very good
While the series gets long and the plot a little bit too weak to maintain a 50 episode series, Blood+ succeeds at being compelling simply because the characters are all really interesting and likable for who they are. In other words, you properly hate and fear the bad characters--but you enjoy seeing them on screen. While the show does succeed, and can be recommended, in a lot of ways Blood+ feels like a missed opportunity. Giving the plot better direction would have greatly benefited the show.
Boogiepop Phantom (TV) Good
Two episodes in and I'm really enjoying the horror vibe. The atmosphere just creeps me out. Already I can tell that this will be a tightly knotted series and episodes recall other episodes as we see things from different perspectives. My only fear is that the episodes will get too repetitive and, thus, loose their punch. We'll see how it goes. ***Edit*** Some of my fear was true... the nature of the jumping time and shuffling of characters made the series feel somewhat repetitive. Still, the repetitiveness is more in the tone than actual story. Things especially started flowing well during the last half of the series. The set up of the Boogiepop franchise makes the anime a little bit hard to comprehend on its own... but it works.
Bottle Fairy (TV) Bad
Ugh, this just reeks of "made for kids, adopted by creepy otaku". It is semi-educational, features tiny loli-tastic fairies, and has so much "squeee!" moe factor to it that it is nauseating. And I even LIKE moe. There is just nothing about this series that does anything in an interesting way. Each episode is about half the length of a normal episode, but they're so droll and boring and trite that they seem three times as long as they are. If this series had been ANY longer I probably would have jumped off a cliff.
Brighter than the Dawning Blue (TV) Decent
A cute little romance that has to fight more battles than those simply between the two people. The series is well paced... flow properly building from friends, to good friends, and so on. The are some cheesy moments- but it is hard to find an anime without those, especially romantically themed ones. The characters are all fun/interesting... although it would have been fun to have more appearances by the Indiana Jones-esque father. Kind of fun and audacious for them to have a woman world president, especially one who seemed more matronly than anything. There were funny aspects... though the funny moments diminished toward the last five or so episodes as the tensions start to build. In that regard Crescent Love is very well paced. The tensions are (refreshingly) not so much focused on the couple's relationship, but on outside forces. Anyway, a good view for those in the mood for a short romantic series.
Castle in the Sky (movie) Decent
Decent Miyazaki, though the English dub is atrocious. I'll have to see this subbed to see what I really think... though largely the story failed to capture my interest. Which, incidentally, I'm finding more-and-more to be the case with Miyazaki stuff pre-Nausicca. Enjoyable enough movies... but nowhere near the engaging level of Nausicca or Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle. Largely because, I think, the characters aren't there. In the later Miyazaki stuff the characters are rich and detailed... in these earlier films they feel stiffer and more typical.
(The) Cat Returns (movie) Good
All-too-short movie from Studio Ghibli. It just barely hits the mark of being a "full length" movie. It feels like it could have gone on another hour or so without dragging. But for what it is, The Cat Returns is most excellent. (Though it probably helps to really enjoy cats... like I do.)
Cat Soup (OAV) Very good
A brilliant little OAV that passes much quicker than the half-hour length would indicate. It is basically a bunch of odd sketches featuring cats. The journey is trippy and bloody and completely charming. Right from the opening scene you know this is going to be special. The perspective is just amazing--and animated beautifully to boot! Unfortunately OOP with copies demanding over $20 on amazon marketplace, I doubt if most people will take the time to purchase this and view it--but it really is worth the money, despite the short length.
Claymore (TV) Very good
They should blaze "RIYL: Berserk" on the cover--the two series have a very similar feel. Thankfully, while Claymore lacks the super-strong character development of Berserk, Claymore has a decent ending (unlike Berserk's anger-inducing non-ending). This is what shonen should be--Claymore rises above series like Naruto and Bleach because it doesn't stretch on for unending numbers of episodes, while still injecting a wild bevy of characters and situations.
Comic Party (TV) Decent
So far an amusing tale in which our unenthusiastic protagonist gets coerced into becoming, essentially, a manga artist. Between awkward girl situations and weird convention happenings, he discovers himself. ***Edit*** Now completed. It isn't the sort of series that lends itself well to marathon watching. It works best to watch a couple of episodes here, and a couple of episodes there. But it is an amusing view, albiet not the most engaging of shows.
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Very good
So far I've feel sort of let down. I think I'd be enjoying this much more 5-7 years ago, when I first saw and loved Evangelion. Right now Cowboy Bebop is just feeling like all flash and no substance. But I'm not too far into it and we'll see how things develop.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Good
Strong visually and stylistically. Story never really caught me. I never got wrapped up in it emotionally. Which is a problem (and one I have found to be true of the tv series also.) I don't know, I'll keep plugging away at the tv series and maybe eventually they'll click?
Cromartie High School (TV) Very good
Ridiculous-yet-awesome Excel Saga cum Azumanga Daioh zaniness. The setting is that of a highschool for delinquents. Yet the characters are amusing and get into funny situations. Example: One whole episode is dedicated to trying to figure out what the title of a song is... much humming commences. The show is only 10 minutes long per episode... which ends up working very well for its comedy style. They also have big repeat-viewing value. I like to call Cromartie the anime equivalent of Monty Python. It has that same ridiculous sketch comedy feel to it.
Dead Leaves (OAV) Decent
Zany OAV that captures the spirit of FLCL in a shorter timeframe. While it looks and feels like FLCL, the storyline is much different. Great for when you want to watch someone funny in that random FLCL way, but you don't want to take the full time needed to absorb FLCL. I applaud this OAV and recommend it.
Death Note (TV) Very good
Been REALLY loving this one. I do have this feeling that it is stretching on a little too long and probably would have worked better in 24 or so episodes, rather than 39. ***edit*** OK, so having finished this it really was quite excellent. My initial inclination that it is too long was borne out somewhat... but not horrifically so. It is a minor detal, 39 episodes. There was unessential stuff that could have been cut, but it worked out well in the end.
Demon Prince Enma (OAV) Good
Demon Prince Enma is an awkward little OAV. At four episodes (of varying length) it just doesn't have enough room to be telling the story it needs to be telling. However, when Enma gets good (about mid-way through the 3rd episode), it gets really good. Even the stuff prior to the 3rd episode is good, just confusing until things pull together at the end. Somehow things DO seem to pull together... there ends up being a reason for those first few episodes. However, they should have taken much less time on those parts and focused much more significantly on the later storyline. Still, the title manages to be freaky, violent, and charmingly fanservice'd. Recommended for those who enjoyed Elfen Lied, or are looking for a dark horror story.
Desert Punk (TV) Decent
I think I'm 7 episodes in on this. I started out loving it, then the combination of the hero acting like an ass and the somewhat repetitive nature of the show both sucked some of the enjoyment out of it. I have faith that the series will be good... but I do hope that it is able to vary things as I go along. **edit** I finished this aaaaages ago, but never edited my comment. Well, no matter. A fun series where the first disc and last disc and a half are the best parts. The 5-odd discs inbetween those are a bit obnoxious. Still, I'd consider the journey acceptable and worthwhile.
Detroit Metal City (OAV) Very good
AMAZING. Mix Metalocalypse with The Ping Pong Club and you come close to what is going on here. Completely crude, absurd humor... metal maddness... the only downside is that it can be a bit tough to keep up with the Asian-produced subtitles. This is a show that revels in the rock & roll lifestyle--sex, drugs, and frequently extreme language.
Doggie Poo (Korean movie) Decent
Most people will hate this. It is Korean claymation--and crudely done claymation at that. I haven't seen the subbed version yet, but the dubbed version is so dramatic and overblown that it ends up being unintentionally hilarious. Worthwhile for those interested in seeing oddities of animation, or those who want to see something so bad it is awesome.
Domain of Murder (OAV) Good
ef: a tale of memories (TV) Very good
Stunningly beautiful anime so far (I'm just 4 episodes in), largely from an artistic viewpoint. The romantic stories are decent so far, though nothing really out of the ordinary... this is an anime that is being carried solely by the visual eye-candy. That isn't to say that the story is bad! It isn't... it just fails to really distinguish itself. It shoots itself in the foot for foreshadowing some big reveals too heavily, making the reveal less exciting than it should have been. ***Edit*** Finished this now. It was worth going through... dragged a little bit, though largely to focusing too heavily on the less interesting relationship. The various strands of the anime were brought together to an extent, though not as snuggly as I was expecting... though there is a certain beauty to the casual way everything was interconnected. The story is good, not great... but visually is where Ef picks up the slack and presents something incredible. One of the best visual experiences in anime that I've seen.
Elfen Lied (TV) Very good
My god, I'm only 5 episodes in and already it has been some of the most intense 5 episodes of any show I've seen. They know how to hit all of the emotional chords possible. Multiple times I have found myself either outraged or horrified or totally saddened. Just in five episodes this show has run me through the emotional gamut more than any other media form I've consumed in ages. The last thing was probably a book of some sort (I'm thinking maybe either a Madeleine L'Engle novel or Tad Williams' Otherland trilogy.) Anyway, label me highly impressed so far. ***edit*** So I finished this today and it has just destroyed me, in all the best ways possible. It was just like, whoa. I don't even have words for it. This very quickly became one of the greatest things I have seen, period.
FLCL (OAV) Good
I am so glad that what I was expecting isn't what the series turned out to be. I heard comparisons to Excel Saga (which I'm more-and-more dreading trying to finish) due to the randomness of the show. Which, I guess if taken only on the level of randomness, isn't too far from the truth. Thankfully there is so much more to each show that makes them totally different from each other that the comparison rather seems moot, even though it does make a certain amount of sense. This series succeeds partly on the characters (which are varied-but-largely enjoyable) and partly on the interest to see what crazy thing they do next. (Honestly, robots from foreheads? The creators must have been taking some excellent controlled substances...) A series like this would probably be a failure if it was longer than six episodes... and might almost work better in an even shorter constraint. Like a movie! (Though then they couldn't play on the "flcl" title evolution.) Anyway, most decidedly enjoyable... though not sure why it is one that is universally hailed in anime circles. (Although my suspicion is that this is a case where the higher price makes people think it is a premium product and, thus, gets more accolades than it deserves.)
Fullmetal Alchemist (TV) Excellent
I saw a smattering of episodes on Cartoon Network and just from those few episodes I could tell that this was going to be a must-see anime. Ran across a deal on ebay I could not refuse for all 51 episodes (and yes, they are the official FUNimation releases, relax). I stuck in the first disc last night and was immediately drawn in and engaged with the series. Made my way through disc two today. If things keep going this way 1. it might end up being my favorite series ever and 2. I'll knock out the whole series in 13 days. (Ok, impossible because the seller had to delay shipping season 1 vol. 2, so I haven't received that one yet. But you know what I mean). Seriously, a fantastic anime. **Edit** Apparently I never re-edited my comment after finishing this. Well, it ended up a masterpiece on my ratings, so you know my opinion didn't change any and might have even gotten more impressed as I went on. Just one of the most intense anime series I have seen.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa Good
I think I'm just hoping for the impossible with this series. This movie fixes about half of my complaints with the tv series' ending, which is for sure better, while still leaving me wistful for something more. Maybe the second tv series will go into the territory I am looking for. Beyond this whole "ending" idea, the movie doesn't feature writing quite as sharp as that displayed in the series--but compared to most series movies it works very well. Also as a nice change of pace the movie doesn't really stand on its own. It is definitely a continuation. Still, there are times where it feels like the writers got a spot too clever. Like having Maes Hughes' double play a minor (and lame) role. Either don't use the double, or give the double a major role. But the way he was used made it feel like a cop-out. Also, there are several key plot points they fail to explain that feel like roping in a character, just so they're around. Again, cop-outs. Still, it was a valid follow-up and definitely worth owning.
Gad Guard (TV) Very good
The show has been intriguing to me based off of ANN's Encyclopedia entry--both picture and description. However, I loathe mecha with a burning passion so I put off acquiring it for ages. Like, serious burning hatred. I think because Evangalion was such a horrible mess. 26 episodes is a long time for any show, but for a mecha it feels like the world could end before the series does. The reactions I've read beforehand (largely from the feedback forum thread on the FUNI re-release Shelf Life review earlier this year) were dominantly negative--though those were mostly from big mecha fans. I had hope, though, because the few voices speaking up in favor of the series said it was good if you didn't view it as a mecha. Yet, somehow I managed to steamroll through this series in pretty good time. Partly due to raw determination and partly (mostly) due to the break from school. Mmmmbreaks. Anyway, thankfully, the small minority was correct--it IS a fun series for a non-mecha-lover like myself. Here the mecha feel more like tools, so the focus is firmly on the (mostly) human characters. The main cast is an interesting collection--though there are characters more interesting than the dominant two focused on. While the series isn't episodic, most episodes feature a conflict of some nature that is exclusive to that episode, giving it the episodic aura. (Until the final few episodes of the series when everything comes together.) Recommended for people who don't like mecha, but feel like they should dabble in the genre, anyway.
Gauche the Cellist (movie) Excellent
Gashu the Cellist is a great little movie that really shows off the simple charm of early Japanese animation. The animation is simple, however it does a lot with its simplicity. Features some of the cutest talking animals ever--especially that beaver and the bird. Music is the vehicle for the plot to advance--and on that end the music is very good, especially the piece that becomes Gashu's trademark. Had me wondering why the kitty hated it so much.
Ghost in the Shell (movie) Decent
This is the movie that launched the GitS series. Pretty good... not the be all and end all of action anime movies, but certainly worthy of being watched and enjoyed. I'll probably go and pick up the second movie today after work.
(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie) Excellent
Awesome. Reminds me of the first time I watched Spirited Away-- that carefree joy and realization that [i]THIS[/i] is what anime is all about. Great characters and great ideas. The only complaint I'd have is that the movie starts off fairly slow. But as a complaint it is really minor. I'd love to see a follow-up at some point.
Girl's High (TV) Good
It basically performed like a hyper-fan serviced Azumanga Daioh. The cast of main characters is large, just like Azumanga and balance in a similar way--between the short, "awwwwww"-inducing moe girl and the outgoing, competitive girl... it just reeks of the Azumanga formula. However, Girl's High puts a new twist by not being shy with the panty shots, cleavage hints, suggestive phrasings, and more (What school has a competition for banana eating? I mean, really... Really sexy!). While fan service remains a theme throughout the show, it is most noticeable during the first three (or so) episodes. After that the characters and plots rise up to be entertaining on their own. The fan service still occurs--but with less frequency, or at least without jarring the viewer from the other things going on. Now, the interesting claim that Girl's High has is being a more realistic look at females of that age group. Despite being someone who is male, but who grew up with two younger sisters, I think I am at least somewhat qualified to comment on this assertion. I'd say that Girl's High gets it right better than any other anime I've seen, but it still indulges in a fair bit of fantasy. But story arcs like the one focused on clique infiltration and malicious lie spreading sounds totally like the stuff my sister went through. As is the getting annoyed at a friend's lovey-dovey tripe. I could really only rate the series "good" due to all the fan service and being so inspired by Azumanga Daioh, it was a more enjoyable series than that for me.
Golden Boy (OAV) Decent
While Golden Boy was portrayed as being outrageously funny with some explicit context, the truth is that neither polar end is very extreme. The big boobies jiggle in most episodes, and when the boobs aren't jiggling, the main character is leering at a woman or otherwise thinking lewd thoughts. The general approach is not something I tend to be a fan of--Desert Punk comes to mind as a series that would have been much stronger without the sex-obsessed main character. Each of the six episodes of Golden Boy stand alone, with the exception of the sixth episode which features the return of characters from the prior episodes. This episodic format gives the series a "paint by numbers" feel. Cue part time job. Cue beautiful woman. Cue toilet humping. Cue embarrassment. Et cetera and so forth. Like with the aforementioned Desert Punk, it is the main character's inventiveness to solve non-boobs problems that is the interesting part of the series. Some of the scenarios end up being funny, but not enough that I would consider this a series that succeeds at comedy. Worth a view, but nothing particularly special.
Grave of the Fireflies (movie) Good
Grave of the Fireflies has as intense of a reputation as any anime out there. "it's sad" "it's hard" "it's a tearjerker" "there's no hope in it". I wish I could have seen the movie without having heard of its reputation before hand. That definitely lessened the impact to a certain degree. Still, an intense movie that is pretty crucial.
Gundress (movie) So-so
Mecha doesn't really settle well with me most of the time. I wasn't excepting the big mecha aspect to this that there ended up being... though when there is more to the story than mecha battles I can tolerate it to a certain extent (and there isn't a whiny character like in Evangelion). The interest to Gundress is the rebellious main character and her relationship with a man who is essentially a terrorist. She is interesting, he decidedly less so. Side characters are amusing, particularly the smuggler they had to protect (though it is hazy to me why they had to protect a smuggler in the first place... and why said smuggler was worth allowing the city to be attacked... but whatever.) Anyway, worth a watch.
Gunslinger Girl (TV) Good
I've had this series for a while now. I watched episode 1 when I first got it (thanks to the TRSI bargain bin) and it didn't really stick with me and I moved on to bigger and better things. Kept on meaning to pick it back up, but I was rather dreading it, too, because I didn't expect it to live up to the hype. Finally decided to stick in in the DVD player again, especially now that I've got my new determination to only watch one series until it is done. Reaction? Quite enjoyable. Some very interesting issues are brought to the attention to the viewer without the show ever telling the viewer what to think. Very deftly done. While the series ends up being more episodic than expected, the flow is good as it bounces between the various girls (with more focus with Henrietta than the others), allowing each one's personality to shine. The animation is deceptively good... subtle touches like seeing sugar in the bottom of a teacup won't be noticed by many viewers, but show the kind of detail the creators cared about.
Haibane Renmei (TV) Masterpiece
First disc=amazing. I have never had four episodes go by that quickly before (except maybe some of those long-running shonen series ala Bleach or Naruto... but that is a different kind of quick). I am really excited to see where this goes. ***Edit*** Now finished, and I have to admit it was every bit as incredible as the first disc suggested it would be. Gorgeous, creative, excellent characters... the only thing this series did awkwardly was in explaining the nuts and bolts of world in which they were in. Sure, it gave us the basics, but I want more. I can accept the whole dream-thing, but I need more explanation as to why the dreams are so important. But as far as complaints go I would consider this one to be fairly minor. I would be more distressed at ambiguity in characters, which this series does exceedingly well. Each character feels individual and well-developed. Things keep moving through the thirteen episodes by introducing darker elements. This has become a top-5 anime for me.
Haré+Guu (TV) Excellent
I think too many people bypass this series because of the kiddy visuals. A remarkable shame if that'ss the case. Hare+Guu is one of the great surprise series I've stumbled upon. Despite the dominance the simple art styles, the show can run rather mature--the creators knew their audience would not be kids. As such the bright colors and simple designs give way to darker tones and more complex designs and faces when needed. They had their pulse on how to vary the styles to keep the show from becoming visually stale without making it feel too random or awkward. The series starts off fairly episodic, although hints at a more overarching theme or story. By the final 1/3 to 1/4 episodes flow into each other fairly nautrally, despite still decently standing alone. But tensions carry over and give the viewer a reason to continue watching, even as they might start experiencing fatigue. The characters are great and the humor is fantastic. I was laughing throughout the whole series. Somehow the humor manages to stay fresh, even though upon hindsight a lot of the same topics are hit over and over. It is presented in such a way that it is still funny... largely thanks to straightman Hare.
Haré+Guu Deluxe (OAV) Very good
Hare + Guu the tv series was a surprisingly hilarious (and sadly overlooked) masterpiece. I knew initially that there was an OVA series also released in R1, but forgot about it until recently. Once I remembered I purchased it lickity-split and have been waiting to feel in the right mood since. This evening was just the time. At 6 episodes long, the OVA is just long enough to feel substantial and just short enough to be completed in one sit-down. It captures the spirit and feel of the TV series, completing a number of the random story lines and introducing a new one. The basic thread linking these episodes is Weda's pregnancy and what comes of it. The same humor is present, along with Hare's amusing overreactions. Definitely a must-watch for those who loved the first series. (I know it'll never happen, but I really want to see the other follow-up OVA series licensed for R1! C'mon FUNI!)
Hellsing (TV) Good
First two or three (good thing my dvd player remembers where I leave off in these cases when I can't remember) have been awesome. My excitement has been tempered somewhat upon reading some negative feedback regarding the way the series ends. Ugh. Dropped in the Big Anime Purge 2008 edit I reacquired this after selling it. Watched all the way through and actually liked it quite a bit. Properly dark with some good action. Its been long enough since I've seen it that I don't have anything really illuminated to say here, but I do hope all of Hellsing Unlimited gets an R1 release.
Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Excellent
Probably my favorite of the Miyazaki films I have seen. One of the rare adaptations he's performed, but it still has all of the classic Miyazaki touches. All of the characters are awesome (even though Turnip Head turns into quite a fruit at the end) and the story is superb. This stands at the top of some of the best movies I have seen, let alone anime.
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie) Decent
Rated "decent" for its cold, desensitized, hopeless feeling... actual flow and characters are more of a "so-so" rating. The action is the best part of this movie--unfortunately the action is infrequent. The plot is a mess that the extended narrative fails to clear up.
Junkers Come Here (movie) Good
Cute movie that essentially ends in disappointment. Feels like a cheaper Studio Ghibli... which sounds like a diss, but isn't. Few movies can live up to the grandeur that is Studio Ghibli. Does drag in a few places, but ultimately worthwhile... although not essential.
Kakurenbo - Hide & Seek (movie) Good
Kakurenbo is a fun idea, but ends up feeling disappointing. It ends way too quickly at just shy of a half an hour. It looks pretty good (despite a couple of clunky 3D graphics) and the atmosphere is great. Had this been expanded into a 13 episode series--or even a full length movie--it would have been great. The idea of an abandoned town (which ends up looking like a creepy carnival set in the world of Soul Eater) which kids go to for thrills (but never return from) is great. If paced right it would provide some great intense moments for the viewer--but at 25 minutes it steamrolls through everything so we only get brief glimpses at the wide cast of characters (all who seem interesting, but it is a distant interest) before everything suddenly ends.
Kaleido Star (TV) Very good
Kaleido Stage is a weird hybrid of circus and theatrical production. While I can appreciate this sort of circus (thankfully they were human-only--I have serious issues with circuses with animals, since they're never treated properly)... it was the theatical element that really drew me into the series. Well, let me rephrase... the characters were great and were the best part of the series. But the setting (especially the theatrical theme) really helped to cement the series for me. The series was described to me as "Rocky meets Cirque du Soleil"... and that was pretty much spot-on. I don't like Rocky, so that sort of... essense... was a touch annoying, but I can't really complain. The series has some flaws, but manages to be charming enough to keep them from being too obnoxious.
Kamichu! (TV) Very good
aw, I loved this series. It is hard to put my finger on it, but something about it just felt RIGHT. I think it has to do with the main character and her shy personality. Not that shyness is foriegn to anime... but the way it is presented her is particularly charming. Also, the supporting characters are very well shown and the art in general looks beautiful.
Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens (TV) Good
Cute series that reminded me quite a bit of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya. Unlike Melancholy, though, I felt the ending was weak and didn't seem to resolve anything--not a problem if they make a second series at some point, but I find that highly unlikely. The characters, despite being rather stock, are fairly endearing--I enjoyed seeing the main characters of note interact. The various references to the anime/manga medium were totally hilarious and smoothed over what the ending failed to. Hard to really recommend the series to most people, but if you're into the Haruhi thing and don't mind ridiculously open endings, give this a shot.
Karas (OAV) Very good
WOW. While not technically a mecha (due to the absence of machines), the armor that is worn comes off as being very mecha in design and use. So my enjoyment of this OAV is interesting considering I really hate mecha. This series is a big win, though, due to its engaging, intense story. It has two flaws: one fairly forgivable and the other not as forgivable. Occasionally the 3D looks a bit rushed... although with a strong, intense story like this some visual glitches are forgettable. Less forgivable is the occasionally confusing way the story is told. In general this is a show that will have you scratching your head wondering what is going on during segments... but largely pulls things together in a way that makes sense. Unfortunately, there are a couple of instance where this fails to work. Not to get into spoiler detail, but there is a scene at the end where something important happens and the entire flow changes because of this happening. If they had made prior mention of this being possible, we could just accept it and move on... but as it is it felt like this random happening thrown in to make the show end up the way they wanted it to. Sure, it wrapped up nicely, but we need to have advance notice for stuff like that so it doesn't feel like a cop-out.
Key the Metal Idol (OAV) Good
Most of my qualms with this series have less to do with problems with the plot, and more with qualms with pacing and spacing. If things went normally like one would expect, this could very well be an excellent series. However, the final 1/3 of the series pulls the "two movie-length episodes!" crap on us. So basically an hour and a half long--time enough for nearly 4 episodes' material. Those two episodes are an insane marathon. Twice in the last episode I had to stop watching for a significant period of time because I didn't have that much time blocked out. If it was split into proper lengthed episodes, this wouldn't be a crucial problem. Anyway, translate the "15 episode" bullcrap into "21 episodes", as that is realistically more accurate.
Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) Good
Fun, cute Miyazaki film that follows a 13 year old witch and her cat, Jiji. While I felt Kiki didn't get the same amount of realistic detail that a lot of other Miyazaki heroines get, her character is still an interesting peek into the mind of a 13 year old girl. She acts emotionally without reason--as my sister phrased it, "She's hormonal." However, she isn't a pissy hormonal--indeed, she goes out of her way to help people and be nice. It's just where boys are concerned that she reacts in a way to make the viewer ask "Why'd she do that??" Anyway, Kiki's Delivery Service is a good, solid viewing for Miyazaki fans and makes a good viewing for non-anime fans as well.
Kill Bill Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren (movie segment) Good
Kind of random for the encyclopedia to have this, but since I have seen it I might as well add it to my collection and comment. Short, but works astoundingly well within the live-action movie. It is surreal going from the live action-to the anime-and back to the live action. It made me all happy inside.
Kill la Kill (TV) Very good
What a bombastic series. Everything here is absurd and cranked to 11. Yet usually when series do that, they loose something. The joy in watching becomes seeing what crazy thing happens next, right? But here the joy is in the plot advancement and, more so, watching the characters develop through the progression of each episode. No matter how much aesthetic atomic bombs hit the screen, the focus is never lost. Impressive. That is does all of that while embodying, advancing, and ditching so many anime tropes? Yeah.
Kino's Journey (TV) Very good
A kid and a talking bike? Kind of hard to go wrong. I've seen the first two episodes so far and have enjoyed them, although it is a very relaxed sort of series that tries to truly savor experience and living. There is subtle humor which works really well. It'll be interesting to see how the series holds up farther along. ***Edit*** Several more episodes in and this got really amazing really quick. Not going to say much else here now, but wanted to get that out there. ***Edit 2*** After finishing, this was a great series that has a handful of episodes that are masterpieces, but a few too many that aren't and drag the overall score down. Yet even those episodes are worthwhile... even if not full-blown masterpieces. The overall tone of the series feels fairly steady. There isn't any overarching plot--it is very episodic. Some viewers will probably find joy in discovering the different locales with Kino, while others will be more interested in learning about Kino through the journey. Both angles are worthwhile and give the anime texture and depth.
Koi Kaze (TV) Excellent
If you don't mind some taboo subject matter and like a really well crafted romance, Koi Kaze may be just the ticket. It succeeds by not focusing so much on the taboo, but how the taboo affects the parties involved. In between are some great character defining moments. The best part is how the show takes a pretty neutral stance on said taboo... allowing the viewer to make their own interpretations.
Kyo kara Maoh! (TV) Excellent
I feel like Kyo Kara Maoh! should be much more popular than it is. As such, I have to look about for a reason people wouldn't be fawning over this show--the simple reason is the bishonen/shonen-ai undertones. It scares off people who are uneasy with such things. The sad thing is that Kyo Kara Maoh! utilizes shonen-ai not as a genre, but simply as a humor device. Thus, even people who wouldn't normally get a kick out of the boy love should find its presence here to not be repulsive. The series focuses mainly on how Yuri, a normal school boy, is suddenly thrust into the throne of a kindom in another world. The conflicts are full of tension and the series never drags as it knows how long to make each story arc without it getting boring--or feel too rushed. The characters are endearing and work well throughout the whole series (all 78 episodes). Highly recommended.
Little Norse Prince Valiant (movie) Good
I suspect The Little Norse Prince has not aged very well. However, as an early glimpse at Japanese animation (ANN lists it at 1968) it is a crucial and interesting viewing. The animation actually looks better than the 1968 date would imply--however, it is still a far cry from the animation we'd expect to see 20, 30, and 40 years later. Not to mention the story-telling techniques have different standards than before.
Lunar Legend Tsukihime (TV) Good
I wasn't expecting to like this. I had watched the first episode about a year and a half ago, posted about it in the "currently watching" thread on the forum, and gotten a few people responding saying the series was terrible. So I let it drop, and placed it in my "wish I hadn't purchased this" emotional disappointment brainwave. Saw it sitting on my shelf a few days ago and figured I really should just bang it out--get it over with, right? It's only 12 episodes... not a huge time commitment. Well, I ended up really enjoying it. I don't make the mistake of thinking it's a great series, however I did find it pretty intense at parts and the main female vampire completely amazing. A lot of the characters feel bland in the beginning, but as the series develops they gain interest (not necessarily personality, but they do become more complex and, well, interesting).
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (movie) Good
It rather threw me for a loop when I found out that Hayo Miyazaki did one of the Lupin the III movies. As it was one of his early films it isn't surprising that there is more Lupin than Miyazaki in the way this feels. There are a few points where you can feel the Miyazaki touch, but this should definitely be seen as a Lupin product first and foremost. It is solid and entertaining. Worth seeing.
Lupin III: Voyage to Danger (special) Very good
Magical Play (ONA) So-so
The DVD is called (for whatever reason) Magical Play, not Magical Witchland. But the same program it is. It is the cute adventures of a girl wearing a fish costume. Which sounds like all kinds of lame, but in actuality ends up being rather amusing. It is worth noting that although ANN notes the # of episodes at 20+ (at just a few minutes a pop), for the DVD they make string them together into 4 or 5 regular length episodes. As far as I'm aware, no material was cut... it is just a matter of how they're presented.
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (TV) Decent
This is a series that starts off with a bang with the first two episodes being just about perfect. Unfortunately, the whole series cannot maintain that momentum--though that may be as much due to my inability to pick up on certain references than anything. However. This would have been a series that would have worked much better in 11 or so episodes instead of 13. It just stretches too thin by the end. (The rather weak ending doesn't help any, either.) While not the worst ending ever (Evangelion, I'm looking at you), it feels like a cop-out, especially after all the build up through those last four or so episodes. That said, I still love the characters and would recommend the series.
Master Keaton (TV) Good
I'm three or four episodes in and so far enjoying this series a lot. Keaton reminds me of a Hercule Poirot-style investigator insofar as he walks around and interacts with the various participants of the mystery (or scenario). But he seems to get involved a lot more than a Poirot would. Poirot will, in a low-key way, steer the action from behind the scenes while Keaton is much more hands-on. It works well for the format and the episodic format makes it good for a random episode when I only have time for one.
Master Keaton (OAV) Very good
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) Very good
I'll admit, I was kind of turned off by all of the hype surrounding this series. And, more specifically, the price surrounding the series. Still, I ended up bidding (and winning) the first three volumes on ebay and, of course, the day after I make that decision I hear that an economy-priced boxset is coming out. By the time I acquire the 4th volume I will have paid the same price as the boxset. Sigh. Still, I watched the first disc and am really enjoying it. The DVDs are in chronological order, not broadcast order... but quite honestly I couldn't really imagine watching these in a non-chronological order so while the hardcore fans may swear by the ultra-high priced special edition DVDs, I'm quite Ok with spending just as much for these three dvds as I would have paid for just one of the special edition. ***Edit*** I can see why people tout the broadcast order. Which is not how I watched it. However, I also feel like the chronological order probably gives a truer sense of the characters and their evolution. Still, it remains that chronological viewing shows you an epic arc (eps 1-6), followed by a bunch of episodes that more-or-less stand alone. So weird. Still, it sounds like there will be a second series and I definitely look forward to it.
Memories (movie) Very good
Three short stories compose this movie... each one highly compelling in its own way. The first story earns its points on raw creepiness. It is a psychological horror that seems to take cues from Alien. The second story is has to do with the sudden creation of the ultimate weapon: and it is a human being.. and what ensues from that. The last tale is probably the least compelling of the three, yet even that one has left a deep impression on me. I don't remember much about its plot anymore, but I do remember several isolated "screen shot" type images in my mind. Anyway, certainly worth checking out. Won't form the centerpiece of a collection, but definitely makes a great compliment to any collection.
Mermaid Forest (TV) Very good
Amazing series that mixes surreal imagery with brash violence and edgy presentation. The journey is mindblowing, and might end up in my top-5 favorite anime series (after Haibane Renmei and FMA). I highly recommend this lesser-known series.
Midori Days (TV) Good
Two episodes (so far) into this one. I'm enjoying it... although if they don't capitalize on some of the obvious situations (like, you have to change sometime, right? Showers??) it might be kind of disappointing. But the concept is amusing and the execution has been pretty good up to this point (albeit too much screaming). Lets see how the episodes go from here on out... ***Edit*** This show ended up not capitalizing on some of the situations I posited above, but in the end I feel like that is a strength, not a weakness. Show had a fairly good flow to it, only getting mired in more-or-less pointless episodes in the middle. Character relationships were interesting and surprisingly touching. The only real weakness to the series was the visuals, which were kind of bland and flat. Still, I prefer to judge things on other factors when possible.
Millennium Actress (movie) Very good
Intriguing move that shows the life of a woman from an early to old age. Intertwined with all of this is a couple of observers and a shadowy lover. The mix is perfect and comes together well in the end. The beginning stages are kind of confusing, but they work as a bridge to when characters start making sense. If there is one flaw it feels like they rush a lot of elements, glassing over what could have been interesting parts of the story. A better developed OAV might have done the story more justice... although as an hour and a half film this does the trick.
Mind Game (movie) Excellent
The closest comparison is Cat Soup, which is from the same director. Despite being a bit confusing, Mind Game is truly a work of art. Some absolutely brilliant plot ideas and visuals... though this brilliance is buoyed by a storyline that has flashbacks that flicker by at the speed of light Not to mention things are shown that don't actually happen, things reverse in time, and some moments that would be completely impossible become possible. It is a relatively long movie--though it never feels like it is spending too much time in one place. The visuals usually stick with one style, but they incorporate other looks as well. The most disorienting and, honestly, disturbing, is when they merge actual faces onto the animated bodies. Craziness. The characters are portrayed in a neat way. The "main character" is a 20 year old guy who is initially rather unappealing, but he proves himself and actually becomes rather likable. Then there is this great old man who looks like he belongs in either an older anime title or an animated version of The Lord of the Rings or something like that. He totally looks out of place in the wacky visuals the rest of the movie provides. But it works much better than expected. A pity this has never been licensed in R1... truly worth importing (or otherwise seeing).
Moonlight Mile (TV) Decent
The worst part of this is that season 2 has never been licensed in R1--and probably never will be. However, season 1 stands on its own fairly well. The pacing of the series is a bit weird--whether because they knew they were doing a second season or whether it was just segmented oddly, but there are mini arcs of 3 or so episodes each--the arcs build upon each other so that they have to be watched sequentially, however, it seems as though the series would have worked better if there was one focus that was being built towards without all the deviations. Regardless, the characters are fun, especially the main one. Some of the lesser characters could have used a bit more polish, but on the whole quite well done.
Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit (TV) Decent
I probably did Moribito a disservice by watching it right after the amazing Baccano! and only a few weeks after finishing the spectacular Kyo Kara Maoh!. If I had not seen KKM I think I would have become much more engaged in Moribito, which has a similar fantasy setting. However, even without having seen such quality shows right before watching this, I feel like Moribito lacks focus in its plot, has characters that are way too stiff and wooden, and character designs that vary between being (at best) bland, and (at worst) ridiculously ugly. As such, I sort of feel that even if I had waited until the most opportune moment to view the series, I still would have been left feeling underwhelmed.
Mushi-Shi (TV) Good
Episodic series are a struggle for me... I much prefer an ongoing storyline-they are much more intense. With episodic series, where each episode is self-contained with its own little arc, the chances are good it'll fall into a predictable formula. However, Mushi-Shi manages to be presented in such a way that it isn't predictable. The only constants are the main character, a white-haired, one-eyed mushi-shi named Ginko, and the mushi that are his expertise. The episodes have a fairly laid-back pace, especially initially. As they wear on they get more and more intense as the stories take on different angles and appearances. While I would have liked to see the episodes have something plot-wise to tie them together, the episodes still end up being quite successful. Recommended, although it is a series that seems to be overrated by the ANN rating population.
My Beautiful Girl Mari (Korean movie) So-so
There is a certain charm surrounding this, particularly in a visual respect. Despite being fairly obviously computer-generated, the animation is pretty breathtaking most of the time. It has a fantastic feel that most obvious CGI fails to evoke. Unfortunately, the storytelling is rocky. The plot lands somewhere between "confusing" and "non-existent" while the characters all seem dry and without personality. The one character which could have been amusing is reduced to nothing more than a one-dimensional stereotype. I might try watching this again with the English dub and see if it improves any... the Korean voice actors brought zero personality to the movie. (You know it is bad when *I* suggest the English dub might be better... haha).
My Neighbor Totoro (movie) Excellent
Miyazaki's big talent is in bringing out the tiny nuances that make characters seem alive--this talent is particularly apparent in his young female protagonists. During much of Totoro I was laughing--not because things were necessarily funny (though sometimes they were) nor because things were dumb (this movie never feels dumb)--but because of simply how incredibly Miyazaki's talents came together in this movie. Ever character had a purpose for existing and felt perfect in their role. The fantastical touches feel marvelously unforced and get relatively little screen time (particularly when compared to Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Caste), but despite that they play the perfect role. I wonder if JK Rowling didn't get some inspiration for the Wizard's Bus (featured mostly in her third book) from the Cheshire Cat bus in this movie. Totoro is, in my opinion, a must-see Miyazaki film.
My Neighbors the Yamadas (movie) Very good
This might just be the epitome of not judging a book by its cover. This may not be my favorite Studio Ghibli production that I've seen, but it certainly doesn't lack charm. One thing I love in what Studio Ghibli does is how they reveal the character's little quirks and traits and My Neighbors the Yamadas does this remarkably well. There is no ongoing storyline, and the animation style looks like something from the coloring book pages of a Saturday morning cartoon, but despite these two things the movie succeeds--to the point where it feels NECESSARY for the story to be little, sketchy, vignettes and for the visuals to be what they are. This film FAR exceeded my expectations.
Nabari no Ou (TV) Very good
A modern ninja story that seems to nod to Naurto (or whatever shows Naurto takes its cues from), but without the kiddie look to it. The main character has a Gaara thing going on in how stoic and emotionless he is-- though he isn't cruel the way Gaara is through the early Naruto episodes. In tone Nabari feels more like Zombie-Loan or even Cowboy Bebop. I will say that the opening song is fan-freakin'-tastic, especially the female vocalist. There are some frustrating things so far, only six episodes in. I mean, despite how far the plot has progressed, we really haven't seen any change in the characters, either personality-wise or talent-wise. They got very much beat in the, what? third episode? and are going to have to get better to have a chance, right? Also, the fighting scenes are awesome and there aren't enough of them so far. The lack of fighting works if there is a lot of character development going on... but in lieu of that, fight more! Anyway, looking forward to the forthcoming episodes, regardless. Edit The fighting doesn't happen much anymore, but it feels like a truer look at what life would be like in such a position. The yaoi overtones that have cropped up are not to my preference, but at this point I am well enough invested in the series to keep watching. Edit Well, after dropping the series on the fansub circuit after episode 17, I picked up the FUNI DVDs recently to pay off my fansub debt and decided to watch the whole series from the beginning--knowing I wouldn't remember half of what I needed to if I tried picking up where I left off. As such, I was dreading re-starting as much as I was looking forward to finishing. Still, the series was much more palapable on a second viewing than I was expecting. The aforementioned shonen-ai remains light enough that viewers could take it for "really empathetic friends" if they wanted to. The action, though infrequent enough to really make Nabari satisfying to action fans, is fantastic when it occurs. Very fluid and quick fighting, a nice change of pace from panning stills and off-screen action. The thing that Nabari no Ou does well, in my opinion, is really shows how no side in a battle is after power for noble reasons. Each side (of which there is more than two) in Nabari is free from selfishness or powerlust. At the same time, there are characters on all sides who are presented as good people.
Naruto (TV) Decent
I understand the criticisms against Naruto. Yes, the filler episodes are obnoxious (though I definitely seem to enjoy them more than most do), but I can't get away from the fact that as much as I wanted to hate it, I really quite fell in love with the series. Each character is interesting because we get the back story for each character. So even when they act like total brats we understand the journey they took to get to that point. So while I hesitate to recommend Naruto from a critical standpoint, I personally get a whole lot out of it.
Naruto (OAV) Weak
See it to complete your Naruto collection, not for any other reason. The premise is kind of clever, but totally fails to pay off in any way what so ever. Totally leaves you hanging, as the ending fails to, well, wrap anything up. (I think perhaps one of the video games uses this concept or something, so you can use what you've learned in this to find some hidden things. What game, if it even made it stateside, I don't know.)
Naruto Shippūden (movie) Decent
Decent little movie that starts off with a bang before sliding into more standard Naruto-filler plot. Certainly not a great deviation from the norm, but does work admirably well within the context of a movie time frame.
Naruto Special: Battle at Hidden Falls. I Am the Hero! (OAV) Decent
This one should have been a episode. Definitely better than some of the filler that actually DID become episodes. It is always a bit weird going back to some of these earlier moments when Sauske is still around, though it does remind me how much I really don't like him. Quite honestly, Naruto and Sakura are better off without him. Anyway, I digress. Kind of a predictable story, but enough interesting moments to be of interest.
Naruto the Movie: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom Weak
Worst Naruto movie ever? Probably. And hopefully they won't do any that are worse. Plot was not there. Characters felt tired and cliched. Nothing really worthwhile to this one, folks. Move on, nothing to see here.
Naruto the Movie: Legend of the Stone of Gelel Weak
The Naruto movies tend to be one large filler episode, however, as far as filler episodes would go, this one is fun. Has all many of the good characters (Shikamaru, Gaara, etc) and some interesting foes to battle. The storyline more-or-less makes sense, even though some of the plot revelations are pretty obvious from the get go. The main thing that cheapens the episode a bit is, no matter how good it is to see some of the Sand people in action, it is readily apparant that they had no role in the plot whatsoever. The makers probably said, "Oh, people like Gaara, let's fit him into the movie somehow" and flimsily sewed them in. Ah well, no matter. Still an amusing watch, regardless.
Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow So-so
The first of the Naruto movies. Feels more tedious than anything. The trek into a snowy country makes for some beautiful shots, but the storyline leaves much to be desired. Or maybe I just get weirded out by instances of modern technology in a society like Naruto's. I mean, the opening shot takes place in a movie theater! It still makes me shudder. Although I should get used to it... I mean, there is sprinkled elements of technology in Shippuuden, too... ai charamba.
Naruto: Akaki Yotsuba no Clover o Sagase (OAV) Not really good
Probably a filler episode or segment that never made it into the show. Starts off slow, but gets amusing enough to make it worth a view for a Naruto fan. Some good Konohamaru moments. Actually rather had me teary-eyed at the end.
Naruto: Konoha Sports Festival (movie) Awful
Not really a movie, contrary to what the parenthesis's after the title say. Feels more like segments that would happen before a commercial break during a television special, only without the special or the commercials... and all smashed together into one. Nothing really worthwhile to this, beyond putting another feather in your Naruto cap. (And, quite honestly, the plot--if you can call it that--is absolutely horrific, and only worthy of a (to use a South Park refernece) Terrance and Phillips plot. (Aka, bodily functions are at the fore).
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Very good
For a while, Nausicaa was my favoirte pre-Spirited Away movie from Miyazaki. As I've seen more of the older Ghibli offerings, though, that opinion has changed. There are problems with the plot flow with Nausicaa. However, it is still a worthy Miyazaki movie that I love.
Neo-Tokyo (movie) Very good
Pretty cool. Reminds me a lot of the Memories dvd. Three anime shorts done by three different directors. The shorts on Memories are fairly self-contained and makes sense by themselves. These are self-contained also, though are quite a bit more obscure. While Magnetic Rose off of Memories is better than any of the other stories on either DVD, as a whole Neo-Tokyo seems to work better.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) Not really good
I first saw this when I was 17 or 18 and just loved it. Half a decade passes and I decide to root it up on ebay. I do so, get three episodes into it, and realize that it is absolutely unwatchable now. Whether that is due to me being older and less angsty, or if it just doesn't hold up on a second view I don't know. Also, as far as anime endings go? Horrid.
Nerima Daikon Brothers (TV) Decent
A very frustrating series. I was interested by it because I love musicals, and this looks to be the closest thing to a musical anime available through US distributors. And there is some value to it. But the music is very repetitive and the plot for most of the episodes is very repetitive. Later episodes work much better... if you make it that long.
NieA_7 (TV) Decent
This is Yoshitoshi ABE's least-talked about series. And for good reason. While there is nothing inherrently wrong with the series, it's slow pace and awkward visuals don't make it as endearing as the other three series he's worked on. If you're in the mood for something that meanders and is more toned down, NieA_7 provides some interesting characters and ideas.
Ninja Scroll (movie) Decent
To be fair, I watched a poor quality pirate that an ex-roommate left behind... and it was the English Dub to boot. So I reserve the right to change any of the opinions contained within this blurb when I get the real DVD and watch with the subtitles. Yet, despite those distractions, it is evident that Ninja Scroll is a well-done movie. The English dub is... really bad. Like, you can't even imagine how bad it is until you hear it. And I can say that without having heard the Japanese version. Yet, the flow of the movie is really good... no really long lulls, yet not non-stop action, either. I will say that none of the battles had that highly epic feel that I've come to expect thanks to various tv shows... but it works well enough within the constraints of an hour and a half feature film. Anyway, it is worth seeing... but I can't wait to actually see a quality version with English subs.
Now and Then, Here and There (TV) Very good
At multiple points during this series I was reminded strongly of A Tree of Palme--both in character design and how those characters acted. I rarely check personnel in the encyclopedia, but I did this time and was shocked that there weren't any staff that overlapped on the two productions. I mean, the similarities are uncanny. Close as character designs/attitudes might have been, the two productions are otherwise pretty far removed from each other. Now and Then, Here and There goes some very intense, interesting places. Plot-wise it is decent--though nothing I'd write home about. However, there are a number of fabulously unique characters--especially the mad King. The Japanese voice actor who did his roll just absolutely nailed it. It was about the best voice acting job I've ever heard. He sounded totally mad--and thus believable. A very interesting character and very scary as well. The series is worthwhile for him alone.
Ocean Waves (special) Very good
A forgotten Studio Ghibli piece, I found this one to be fairly similar to Only Yesterday--with the strong focus on flashbacks and focusing on events of yesteryear. The big difference is that Ocean Waves focuses on a male rather than a female as the main character. Ocean Waves also ends up being a much stronger film than Only Yesterday--much more creative and varied characters in more intriguing situations. Not available in the US, but a very worthy import from Europe for those with a region-free DVD player.
Oh My Goddess! (OAV) Good
The OAV that would spark the Ah! My Goddess tv series is a good but all-too-brief look at the story. Episodes pass and months flash by--still, there is a nice feeling about the series. The animation is old but elegant. The real draw is the nice cast of characters--all of whom are interesting in their own way.
Omishi Magical Theater Risky Safety (TV) Good
Nice, safe otaku-friendly anime featuring cute little angel and shinigami apprentices. Basically feels like a slice-of-lice title... assuming that interacting with angels and shinigami was a part of every day life. But if they did exist, in the context portrayed in the show, this is exactly how they would act. "One day in the life of Shinigami Risky!" or "How an angel gets its wings: A Tale of Safety". If you know what I mean. The most interesting part of the series is the lead human character, who is involved with a boy a couple of years younger. This odd coupling is the heart of the series--she seems to tower above him in a not-unrealistic way. Thus Risky Safety takes on a slightly creepy aura. It's the sort of series that is worth a view--at least for people interest in the genre... enough about it makes it stand out from the crowd. But it doesn't escape enough of the common tropes to be truly recommended to anyone else.
Only Yesterday (movie) Good
A cute little pining story of a girl who keeps on looking back at various things in her life while visiting a nostalgic place. Not the strongest Studio Ghibli, but it is still Studio Ghibli. Hard to go wrong.
Outlaw Star (TV) Very good
Pale Cocoon (OAV) Good
Fun short OAV centered around a society where the world as we know it doesn't exist. Everyone lives underground in the only habital place, Earth just a distant memory. It is the main character's job to, essentially, go through leftover documents and restore them as much as possible. However, no one views his job as very important...
Paprika (movie) Good
On the one hand I find this to be quite interesting and good. On the other hand I can definitely see where the people who don't like it are coming from. The storyline was more complex than I was expecting, but complex does not necessarily equate interesting. The atmosphere is emphasized over characterization and to the movie's detriment. Still, it is a landmark film and one worth repeated watching.
Paradise Kiss (TV) Very good
This artistically flamboyant series is akin to the female's version of Catcher in the Rye. A story of a high school girl who starts off as a goody-two-shoes and ends up dropping school, modeling, and living with a boyfriend. It is much more exciting than any series about fashion should be and works as both a romance and a slice-of-life show.
Paranoia Agent (TV) Very good
Amazing. I'm just one disc into the series (four episodes), but I will be very surprised if this doesn't turn out to be one of my favorites. Each episode has focused on a different character (or set of characters), but each link together nicely with a singular focus. Am excited to see where this goes. Edit Somehow I never updated this after finishing it. I've actually seen it twice all the way through. Through the middle it turns more episodic than I'd like through the middle, there are some truly amazing episodes in there.
Perfect Blue (movie) Excellent
Perfect Blue shows that animation can be a prime medium for horror. Unfortunately Perfect Blue is hampered by an ambiguous ending that doesn't quite satisfy. Still, the movie does a good job of showing how the madness lurks... and how said madness can manifest in the viewer as the viewer experiences in what the main character experiences.
Phantom Quest Corp. (OAV) Decent
Decent enough OAV. Only four episodes--would have been better if the episodes had a single story arc, rather than being episodic. Felt fairly reminiscent of Scooby-Do, only a bit more mature-both being more serious and in fanservice. Amusing enough and worth a viewing for those into shows like Zombie-Loan and Requiem from the Darkness.
Ping Pong Club (TV) Excellent
It might be easy to dismiss Ping Pong Club as simply juvenille boys gross-out humor, but to do so would be to miss two things: 1. the amazing width and breadth of said humor--somehow they stretch it out into 52 twelve minute episodes without it overstaying its welcome. 2. the strong cast of characters and the great personalities each has, not to mention how textured their friendships are. The real impressive thing about the series is how Takeda and Kyoko are the emotional central focus of the series--they are who the viewer latches on to and connects with. Probably because they have some semblance of normality and sanity to them. Because of this the viewer can easily place themselves into their shoes as the rest of the cast goes completely ape-shit. Helping cement Takeda and Kyoko's place as the emotional centerpoint for the series is watching their relationship develop. It is one of the more subtle and textured portrayals of a relationship that I've seen in anime and it is masterfully done. The brutal combination of gross-out boy humor and the tenderness between Takeda and Kyoko made this one of the more unique and polarizing series I've seen.
Please Teacher! (TV) Good
Please Teacher (or, my preferred title Onegai Teacher) take a page out of the fairly common teacher-student relationship fantasy. While Onegai Teacher adds enough caveats to make the situation somewhat morally acceptable, that doesn't take away from the, erm, fantasy intentions. Yet, despite a storyline that takes its cues from the online erotica fiction world, there manages to be a surprising amount of depth to the show. It is interesting to see the relationships develop and it will be interesting to see how the show keeps up its momentum during the remaining episodes. So far, not amazing, but interesting enough to keep watching. ***Edit*** Ok, I have now finished said series and I have to admit to really liking it in the end. Yeah, the concept is still unprofessional online erotica material. But what Onegai Teacher has that the aformentioned erotica doesn't is actual character depth and relational realities. The main characters were pretty awesome, and the side characters really worked well also. It is a series that definitely works to a niche market... but it has the strength to escape beyond that, too.
Please Teacher! (OAV) Decent
Essentially just another episode... probably considered too racy to air? On par with the rest of the series, as far as the storyline goes. I suspect (hope?) that it is be included with the DVD set, so really rating this here separately is probably a non-issue. Just refer to my comments on the series.
Please Twins! (TV) Very good
I really liked this one. I wasn't sure how it was going to be related to Please Teacher so was more or less pleased with how Please Twins took place in the same world, but didn't really relate to Please Teacher at all. I actually found the relational dynamics in this one much easier to digest than in the first one... here there was actual mystery: which of the girls is actually a twin? Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the show is the ending. It is hard to arrange an ending that feels perfect... but Please Twins came pretty dang close.
Please Twins! (OAV) So-so
I didn't like the tone of this bonus episode too much. I mean, it was fine... and allowed for some almost naughty moments ... but largely just felt like an excuse to vilify the sister, and get a couple of awkward cameos in. It's not as naughty as the OAV episode for Please Teacher, nor does it serve any purpose, unlike Teacher. Still, it isn't like we paid anything extra for it.... no harm, no foul.
Polyphonica (TV) Good
I'll be honest, Polyphonica isn't a great, original work. However, its unique gimmick of using music is so nicely textured and detailed that it ends up standing out from the crowd. The basic scope of the series is that in this one city there is overlap between the spirit world and humans. Humans who play particularly engaging music attract the attention of a spirit, and they can form a bond where the spirit works in exchange for hearing the human's music. Ok, my description sounds ridiculously convoluted, but the way it is explained within the context of the show really works.
Pom Poko (movie) Good
Studio Ghibl. I had no idea what to expect from this film. I'd heard it was one of the weaker Ghibli offerings, but even a weaker Ghibli is better most anything else. This is a rough film--both in terms of its flaws and just the emotional toll it takes to watch. It's no Grave of the Fireflies, that's for sure. But it isn't a happy walk in the park, either. As Ghibli films are apt to do, there is a strong environmental message to Pom Poko. Luckily they sidestep it being totally annoying by keeping it realistic. I didn't understand the film's awkward obsession with balls. The length of the film was the biggest drawback--it felt a good half hour longer than it could really support. On the plus side were some fun characters and interesting ideas. Especially loved how the movie felt a bit like a PBS special with the narration and telescoped time.
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (movie) Very good
Was excited to be able to see a Hayo Miyazaki flim in the theater, finally. Ponyo might not be Miyazaki's best (but neither is it his worst), but it might be his most aesthetically appealing film from an artistic viewpoint. Generally a fun, "feel good" tale that shows off a perfectly paced flim unlike anything else shown in US theaters. Some very clever moments, and some satisfying scenes you'd never see in a kid's animation in the US.
Porco Rosso (movie) So-so
The worst I have seen from Studio Ghibli. Worth a view, but will probably leave most feeling unsatisfied, particularly due to the lameo ending. Rent it, don't buy it.
Pretear (TV) Decent
I remember really enjoying this series... knocking it off in just a couple of days. However, it isn't a fantastic series... simply an enjoyable one. It is the sort of series you flirt with for a weekend, really enjoying the time you spend with it... but after the weekend you put it out of your mind easily and forget about it. I had even forgotten I'd seen this and when I saw it on my "seen all" list I was like, "that's a mistake!" until I really thought about it. Despite my awkward amnesia about the series, I do recommend it. But I recommend it for what it is... a fun distraction, but nothing that's a masterpiece or really full of great artistic merits.
Princess Mononoke (movie) So-so
This seems to be most people's holy grail when it comes to Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. I mean, it is fine and all, but I found it quite overrated. See it-- you'll probably love it. But I am glad I found it cheap used.
Project Blue Earth SOS (TV) Very good
First of all, don't be fooled by it only have 6 episodes... they are double-length episodes, so the series will play like a regular 12 episode series. Second of all, if you have any kind of love for classic sci-fi, especially those with alien invasions, GET THIS NOW. Project Blue Earth is an amazing take on pulp sci-fi--a really great, under-the-radar series. Visually, the series is just stunning. One of the best looking series I have seen. The colors and designs all look ripped straight from the covers of Fantastic Science Fiction and Astounding Stories and Asimov's Science Fiction.
R.O.D -The TV- Masterpiece
This was amazing, totally blew my (already high) expectations out of the water. The OAV was good... but this totally fixed all of the problems I had with the OAV and added some awesomeness for good measure. The characters sparkle and are the pulse of the series. The action is great and placed at good points in the series. And the ode to books and reading is much loved by this English major. Also, the Jap. voice actress who did Anita's voice did a freakin' fantastic job. A very intense voice that simply crackles with intensity when it needs to.
Read or Die (OAV) Very good
A beautiful OAV that would go on to spark an entire series. Good action and fun scenarios. The pacing feels a bit off--as well as the characters. These are shackles that are probably a result of the length constraints. Regardless, this is a must-see anime, especially at the low price it costs these days.
Requiem from the Darkness (TV) Good
Intriguing little series that never really lives up to its potential. Visually it is spectacular. It also treads closer to the horror genre than most other animes get. However, other than the first few episodes and the last few episodes, it feels too much like a Scooby-Doo exercise, with the supernatural being more-or-less stripped and human culprits to blame. (Granted, it comes off much, much cooler than Scooby... both visually and character-wise). It is good to not spoon-feed answers to an audience the way many avenues of pop culture do. But there is a fine line between not spoon feeding and being way too obscure for your own good--and Requiem from the Darkness fails to identify that line and crosses way onto the other side. The series, due to its inability to explain itself and the random nature of things happening, feels like the creators were merely winging it every episode, saying "hey, wouldn't be cool if THIS happened now??" without any broader reason or scheme behind it. The whole thing feels like it could be remarkably fantastic in more capable hands. But, as it is, it isn't. What we have is what we have. And what we have is good and worth seeing. But the flaws are there, front and center.
Resident Evil: Degeneration (movie) Not really good
The quality is about what one would expect from an animated Resident Evil story. The animation is just a step above cut-scene quality, while the storyline is not quite as good as those found in the video games. Over all a package that fails to compel. Still, it is Resident Evil, so there is SOME value to it for those who love the video games. But that is pretty much the only market for this.
Roujin Z (OAV) Decent
When your script-writer is the same guy who scripted and directed Akira, people are going to pay attention. I was never a fan of Akira, despite seeing it four or so times. I was curious as to whether something else from Otomo would feel different than Akira (my Akira complaints are summarized succinctly above). After watching Roujin Z, which is much better than Akira, I'd have to say that a lot of the same problems are still present. The pacing is kind of atrocious. Thankfully, the characters of Roujin Z are (largely) more interesting than those of Akira, making the movie as a whole more palpable. Plus, there is just something great about a decrepit old man causing so much trouble for the populus as a whole. Still really only manages to reach a "decent" on the scale. But definitely amusing at times.
Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise (movie) Masterpiece
Like a more mature Studio Ghibli piece, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is both smart and beautiful, with engaging, complex characters to boot. A classic underdog story, Honneamise is set in an alternate history where the general public views the attempts to reach space as frivolous. Thus, the space unit of the military is a laughing stock--with the lack of funds to drive the point home. The movie is about overcoming... and it is about mistakes. It is a complex movie that causes the viewer to think.
Rozen Maiden (TV) Very good
AWESOME. Loved the characters. Loved the premise. Has me antsy for the second series to release. Seriously cannot wait. Anyway, the idea feels perfect for anime-- probably the only visual medium that could pull this off without it feeling cheesy. A kid hides away from life, spending his days ordering stuff off the internet and returning them within the trial period. He gets an order forum for Rozen Maiden dolls and goes a head and fills it out (why not?). This leads to him receiving one and, after turning the key it its back, it comes alive! Ahhh! Noooo! Anyway, the real treat to the series is watching the characters interact and change. There is a real sense of threat at times, allowing the emotional connections to payoff for the viewer. There are some flaws in the details, though none of them really worth making mention of here.
Rozen Maiden: Träumend (TV) Good
Well, I loved the first series dearly. I'm not sure what the difference is but I didn't get the same overwhelmingly awesome feeling in responds to Traumend as I did the first series. Whether that was due to an actual difference in the way the two series are presented (the flow of the second series does seem clunkier) or if I'm just in a different kind of mood (always possible), but while the second series is good and enjoyable, the series as a whole seems to fall short of the first series. THAT SAID, the ending for this series is MUCH more intense than the ending for the first series. There is much more at stake and a heightened sense of sinister evil. Even as the series looks forward, it is also filling in the blanks that were questions from the first series. So in all, a worthy successor even though it didn't hit quite as high of a note overall.
SaiKano (TV) Excellent
This series... destroyed me. One of my guilty pleasures (without actually going so far as to feel guilty about it) is romance series. And the more tragic the better. Well, this one sure qualifies as tragic. Early on the viewer knows that despite how perfect the couple seems together, there is no way it can work. Thus the underlying sense of failure and impending loss is a strong undercurrent throughout the 13 episodes that make up SaiKano. The tragedy's don't end with relational impossibilities.. the war that creates the setting for Saikano's world is very real and intrudes on the series like a dark cloud. While the series is very sci-fi and fatalistic in how it views war, the horrors feel very real and applicable even to historical combats thanks to how it focuses on the people involved, rather than the actual war. Truly a series of beauty... one that strikes the perfect balance of romance, conflict, character, and impending doom. After watching the series I was an emotional mess for at least several days.
SaiKano: Another Love Song (OAV) Good
While it doesn't live up to the series, the OAV provides an alternative view of some of the things from the series. Provides a different filter for interpreting the show. While not interesting by itself, after watching the series it makes a good, nostalgic view... it clarifies some things, develops a few more characters, and generally is a worthwhile viewing.
Saint Tail (TV) Very good
Saint Tail is one of those great, yet rarely discussed series that really could use a rescue. Its first round through the R1 realm was a financial disaster for Tokyopop--the first disc had four episodes and an English dub. That could not be sustained as the third disc boosted disc count to 7 and the fourth disc kept the high episode count while dropping the English dub. Most licensors would have probably dropped the series at that point, but thankfully Tokyopop did one last release--a 3 disc affair that give us the final 21 episodes. Saint Tail then disappeared--to the point where an amazon search only brings up the 3 disc finale and not the 5 discs preceeding it. They're uber rare on ebay, too. Thankfully I scored the complete series via ebay (though paid through the nose for it). Nevermind how I had never seen an episode before, and the ANN ratings were good but hardly exaltuous. I could just tell it was going to be a very worthwhile series. I was quite right--this is the perfect execution of the magical girl genre and the episodic structure. Despite most episodes standing on their own (one 2 part episode and the final few episodes excepted), there is a palpible tension that runs throughout the series as the stakes are raised. Saint Tail is a thief who only steals to correct unjustice. As a result many moralistic questions can be raised with the viewer as they are faced with similar questions as Death Note raises. However, unlike with Death Note, Saint Tail never lets her power corrupt her. Thus the questions become even more acute and relevant. The series is a long one to get through, however for a long series it flows well and it is easy to marathon episodes without burning out. Even the little details stand out--the musical score is phenomenal and doesn't recycle the same thing over and over (with the exception of the transformation scenes). If you can dig this series up, I do highly recommend it, especially for anyone into the Magical Girl genre.
Scrapped Princess (TV) Very good
I love these medieval-style fantasy settings with sword battles and magic. It is hard not to be attracted to a princess who was, essentially, discarded at birth because of a prophecy. It isn't a perfect series--a couple of the foe decisions make no sense from a rational standpoint (things like "we'll let you go for now, but next time we'll kill you!"--seriously?) and the series could have used less mecha-style battles (not real mecha, of course... but the feeling is similar) and more sword vs sword kind of battles. Still, the characters were appealing (even a lot of the "bad" characters) and the series never felt like it was slogging down or forcing the characters to go through extra hoops, just to squeeze more episodes out.
Serial Experiments Lain (TV) Good
I saw one episode of this a month ago and left feeling kind of confused. Picked up the series on ebay and watched the first episode again, this time grasping it better. Actually, really like it this time around. Either I'm in a better mood, or properly aligned my expectations to what I saw first time through. Still only a few episodes in, but definitely looking forward to more. EditIt took me waaaaay too long to finally watch this from beginning to end. Each time I tried I had to start with episode 1 because it is the sort of series you have to watch completely in a shorter amount of time or you'll just forget too much. It is a layered, complex series that never reaches the heights it should, but still achieves some interesting ideas and moments.
Shadow Star Narutaru (TV) Good
Shadow Star Narutaru is a fun little show that suffers a bit from awkward pacing and unfortunate meandering. There is a nice sinister streak that runs through the duration of the series. However, there never seems to be any major problem to become the main plot--rather it hops around from one situation from the next, utilizing the characters in nice ways, but ultimately the series strength is the aforementioned sinister streak and the cool main character. Which in my mind is more than enough to make the series enjoyable... but isn't enough to make it a classic series.
She and Her Cat (OAV) Very good
I was interested in seeing this when I was looking up everything that Makoto Shinkai had done. But since it is only 5 minutes long I figured my chances of doing so were slim, since it'd never get a US release. Right? Well, that just goes to show how "smart" I am. ADV did us the great pleasure of actually putting it ON the DVD for Voices of a Distant Star... I actually only watched Voices of a Distant Star again because I had the DVD in my player to watch She and Her Cat. (Which runs slightly contrary to the "Why?" I listed above... but just go with the flow.) The 5 minute run-time for She and Her Cat are great. It is all black and white, giving it a vintage feel. Despite the short run-time, it is still dinstinctly Shinkai... throwing wistful loss and sorrow at the viewer like no one else in the business. Unlike VoaDS, SaHC actually utilizes this loss is a beautiful and heart-wrenching way. Which is a good thing, because this OAV totally justifies me owning this otherwise atrocious DVD.
(The) Skull Man (TV) Very good
Like a neat mixture between Lupin the 3rd and Requiem from the Darkness, The Skull Man is a much better series than one might be led to believe. It has a classic detective feel to it, and the pacing to match. Despite the slow pace a lot of things happen and somehow wraps up in a fairly conclusive way. The series strong point, though, is in the fabulous character designs. Not all of them are home runs, but it does feel like character-after-character of realistic individualism. Anime characters are usually either individual but not realistic... or realistic but not individual. The Skull Man finds the perfect balance.
SOS! Tokyo Metro Explorers: The Next (movie) Decent
Nice little movie that needs to be longer to really engage the viewer. And that's all I'll say about that.
Spice and Wolf (TV) Very good
Who would have thought that a series with a flirty fox-girl based around trade economics would be at all palpable. Somehow Spice and Wolf pulls off the impossible with a crazy-good story that mixes adventure with great character relations. This is a series I "bought into" based on hype without expecting it to live up to that hype. So glad I was wrong.
Spirited Away (movie) Masterpiece
This was the movie that made Miyazaki a name in the US. And for good reason--the movie is fantastic. Combines whimsical and dark fantasy, with some of the deepest, most complex characters to hit the animated screen. A few uber-cheesy moments... but those are forgivable within the whole arc of the story. Highly recommended.
Spring and Chaos (movie) So-so
Kind of awkward movie that is hard to follow as it jumps between different times. Interesting visuals never quite become all they should be. In general, this feels like a title that was rushed--everything about it seems like it would be much better with more planning and effort. The basic ideas are there to create interest, but without a proper frame.
Steamboy (movie) Bad
I'm not surprised that this is from the director of Akira. Like with Akira, Steamboy is much less than the sum of its parts would indicate. However, unlike Akira it seems like the anime community hasn't embraced it and forgiven its flaws. The only thing that Steamboy does right is in the visual department. There are some stunning visuals here. Unfortunately, the visuals also get pretty repetitive, considering there is only so much variety seam / technology can give you. And that is the high point. The storyline is weak as hell, and definitely not strong enough to carry a 2+ hour movie. It could have fit in a half-hour episode and still felt drawn out. The characters are........ flat. Which is a really kind way of saying that there isn't a single interesting character in the whole movie. The only one with spark is the spoiled girl, but she is also as cliched as they come. I can tolerate bad plots if the characters are strong, but when they're not.... look out.
Sword Art Online (TV) Masterpiece
It's been a number of years since I've watched anime regularly. But Sword Art Online is the sort of series to rekindle that passion and interest. It's got that immediately gripping hook that pulls you in, then populates its world(s) with fun characters. There are two distinct phases to SAO: episodes 1-14, then episodes 15-25. I think of them as season 1 and season 2, although I think that technically they're all considered season 1. But this split showcases major plot adjustment. This is somewhat problematic because while the second half of the series is really good, the first half is amazing. So there is a significant let-down during the second half. Though they almost seem to recognize this, giving the most episodes to the first half, then steamrolling through the second half at a great pace that maintains interest without dwaddling for unnecessary sideplots and stuff. It works really well, despite the step back.
Tales from Earthsea (movie) So-so
aka Tales from Earthsea. While I'm familiar with the author behind the series that inspired, I have no real knowledge about the actual books. Thus my opinion is untainted by trying to line up the movie with the books. As just a movie, Earthsea is sort of mediocre. I rated it "decent", but only because there is something nicely carefree about the title. The characters all sucked, and the flow of the movie was horrific. While I don't particularly recommend the title, I don't know that interested people should shy away from it either.
Tekkonkinkreet (movie) Good
Promotional blurbs market this the wrong way, focusing on the street fighting and scum clearing. The real driving force of Tekkon Kinkreet is brotherly love, and what happens to fragile minds when that bond is dissolved. The main characters are quite compelling, although the side characters never seem to reach their potential.
Texhnolyze (TV) So-so
Starts off needlessly confusing. By the time the plot straightens out, the viewer realizes that none of the characters are remotely interesting, with the exception of several who die early on. Once you try to accept the mediocre characters, the plot gets completely pointless and the series finally ends, never to be seen again.
Tokyo Godfathers (movie) Very good
Clever, better-than-expected feel good tale that still pushes some social boundaries. The story is paced well... it slows down when it needs to be slow and speeds up when it needs to pick up. Some genuinely interesting characters, too.
A Tree of Palme (movie) Very good
There is something rather maddening about this movie... and at the same time something rather jaw-dropping. The main character, who is essentially a robot (though it is much, much more complicated than that), is often kind... but he also doesn't know the limits and frequently pushes the boundaries of acceptability, particularly with his relationship with his female friend. It just made me really annoyed. Yet at the same time those mistakes feel... natural for a non-human entity with a good heart. So it is hard to really fault him... as long as he comes on OK in the end.
Trigun (TV) Excellent
True Tears (TV) Very good
To explain the show would make it sound like a typical harem--One boy, three girls who want his interest. However, despite the love tria, sorry--rectangle, the show ends up being pretty fabulous due to the fantastic cast of characters. Of particular strength is the mother of the main character, who ends up being really engaging even when I wanted to throttle her. As is common in love-rectangle scenarios I ended up feeling a bit disappointed at who the main character ended up with, however, in the end it was done well and gave the portion of the audience attached to that girl to properly come to terms with it. This might be the most beautiful romance I've seen since ef - a tale of memories (which needs licensed pronto--Bandai?)
Tweeny Witches (TV) Very good
A weird series insofar as it looks geared toward kids, both in some of the shortcuts taken with the animation and the awkward computer graphics. What isn't apparent without watching the series is how dark the general tone is (Arusu's general chipper demeanor excepted) and the complexity of the plot. While anyone who has grown up on Agatha Christie mystery novels will guess a lot of the big reveals before they are officially revealed, it is still a noble adventure in storytelling. Oh, and remember what I said about the awkward graphics? That is only occasionally... the scenery is often absolutely beautiful and the series is a treat to simply take in.
Voices of a Distant Star (OAV) Weak
It has been long time since I've seen this, but I remember not being impressed. While it was visually great, and the emotional pull was well executed, the ending just sort of came without really resolving anything. Also found the whole cellphone thing to be pretty gimmicky. Worth a view if you've got nothing better to do.
Whisper of the Heart (movie) Masterpiece
Absolutely great. Threw me for a loop considering I watched The Cat Returns first, and they have completely different tones. In fact, there isn't really much that links them at all. But what we get instead with this is much, much better. The characters were fun and evolve well. Just beautiful, spot-on Studio Ghibli.
A Wind Named Amnesia (movie) Good
Somehow I feel like I've written about this one multiple times--yet it is always blank on my list. It has been a long time since I've seen this, but it is definitely worth a viewing. Sort of has a Hayo Miyazaki feel in tone and message, though not necessarily in character and appearance.
Winter Days (movie) Very good
While there is no R1 release of Winter Days, the lack of an English translation is not a huge crutch. It is a series of (very) short animation pieces from many different animators. As an anthology sort of work, the linking factor is a long poem, which each segment loosely bases itself on. However, none of the segments have any dialog or anything, and the stories don't really link in any way. So I didn't find the lack of English translation to be a hindrance. Still, Winter Days is only for those who love animation for animation's sake... the viewing won't be compelling if you need a plot or recurring characters. Instead, it is all about enjoying the subtleties in the animation.
Witch Hunter Robin (TV) Very good
As copied from my "what are you watching now? why?" post in the forum: Really, really loved it. I mean, the first 7 or 8 episodes are good, but they feel very episodic in nature. I was enjoying them, but at the same time was thinking, "There's going to be another 18 episodes of this? How??" Then all of a sudden (and I forget which episode this change takes place), we start encountering more of a solid story line and the tensions just grow, and grow, and grow. I mean, the pacing is impeccable. In hindsight I have zero complaints about how the series started off and the pace at which it ramped up. Really enjoyed it.
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files (TV) Very good
Outrageous shonen fun. One of the few shows I am watching the English dub with. Someone I respect on the forums advocated the dub because it goes so well with the tone of the series. I can see that to a certain extent. On a second time through the series I'll definitely switch back to the subs and see which I end up actually liking better.
Yukikaze (OAV) Decent
Really only purchased because I found the elusive BluRay for a respectable price--worst case scenario I could flip it online and at the least make back what I paid initially. Yukikaze is a respectable little series that is based on alien invasion and human's attempts to one-up them technologically using the yukikaze. While not in my normal specturm of anime enjoyment, Yukikaze was a good experience for me. Not because I like it ("casual enjoyment" would be more apt)--but because it allowed me to see a genre that I normally completely discount. While it focused more on the technology and battle than the characters (something I was afraid of going in), I was at least able to follow what was going on to a certain extent. Not so much to truly interest me in the plot--but enough that I knew basically what was going on.
Zaion: I Wish You Were Here (ONA) Weak
Short (blessedly so) TV series. At only four episodes it feels more like an OAV. But I don't think I could have taken many more episodes. While the whole plot feels rather tired, it did become emotionally stirring at parts. Which I'll take over plot just about any day. I find myself to not be a big fan of mecha, of which this has elements of (in tone, if not actual machines). So it was a bit of a mixed bag, but I do not lament seeing it.
Zombie-Loan (TV) Decent
Zombies who hunt zombies. Hard to go wrong. Throw in good supporting side characters and some intense scenes toward the end and you've got a winner. Won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I quite enjoyed the journey. (Too bad the theme song totally sucks...)

Will not finish
Amatsuki (TV)
A nice meandering anime that does more than description does justice for. I can describe it and it'll sound like sh!t. But it is working really well... especially once you hit episode four and the plot actually starts clicking. Definitely going to continue watching this one. ***Edit*** And boy was I wrong. By episode 7 or so I totally lost interest. Have no desire to see another episode of this ever again. Held promise but I don't think it was ever going to fullfill it (especially if the rumors I heard about an unsatisfactory ending are true... sooo glad I dropped it before then. I'd have been mad if I held on to the end looking for a bang, only for a fizzle).
Argento Soma (TV)
Not my normal realm of anime, but the first episode was amusing. Nice they didn't just jump right in with the big machines. Good emotional tensions, etc. Only dreading the next episode because I'm afraid that it could start sucking. And I don't want it to. Dropped in the Big Anime Purge 2008
Bartender (TV)
So far a really laid back anime. If it was about any other topic than bars & alcohol, I'd probably not be too interested. But the style is perfect and the series has been a loving ode to bartending. ***Edit*** if an official US release comes, I'll consider picking it up (and I think there SHOULD be a US release)... but the *wince* bootleg I have is just wretched. Visually stunning, and I love the ode to alcohol, but the bootsub was next to unfollowable.
Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran (TV)
Medicore animation and subpar sounds make this series hard to recommend. Still, if you can get past the worse-than-parody sound effects and music cues, there are some fun moments to be hand. Wish I still had the money, but not so bad to make me re-sell on ebay. (Not like I spent much on it in the first place... thank you CD Warehouse). Dropped in the Big Anime Purge 2008
Demonbane (TV)
First couple of episodes have been decent but not great. So far not a waste of time, but I could see it spiraling pretty easily. ***Edit*** And after writing that I never once picked it up again, and I have no desire to. Not really that good, honestly.
Excel Saga (TV)
3 episodes in and I'm surprised at how all the randomness is actually being held together by some kind of ongoing storyline. I have trouble seeing how this will work for 26 episodes, but so far it has been amusing. Though I can/t help but feel like these characters have been done better in other series. **Edit** Over two discs into this and it is enjoyable enough, but not so enjoyable that I really feel any compulsion to sit down and truly finish the series. I mean, I could. But it would feel like work... and i don't like it when anime feels like work. I sort of feel like Excel Saga tries too hard to be goofy and crazy. That the creators were so focused on being goofy and silly that it was serious work. Goofy and silly and serious is an awkward combination. Dropped in the Big Anime Purge 2008
Kiddy Grade (TV)
I haven't started watching this yet, but want to take a moment to say how vexing this series has been already for me. First off, I won vol. 1 in an anime lot. 2. I find vol. 6 and 8 at a used CD/DVD store and pick them up. 3. Same day I find out that there is a re-release of the series that packs two DVDs into one pack... so the series shrinks from 8 volumes to 4 volumes. I find that these double volumes are going for super cheap prices online. In fact, the boxset is cheaper that it would cost me to go and and get vols 2,3,4,5, and 7 online, or anywhere else. So I sigh and order the boxset through Right Stuf. Dropped in the Big Anime Purge 2008
Najica Blitz Tactics (TV)
This is the series for which the term "fan service" was created. Holy-hella-panties shots! Girls with guns and an attitude. I could definitely do without seeing panties every two minutes, still, this sort of viewing perfect for an episode of anime before bed, but nothing deep or juvenile is wanted. Kind of the anime equivalent of summer blockbuster movies. Dropped in the Big Anime Purge 2008