Zalis116's Animetake a look at Zalis116's Manga
Welcome to my Seen All list! If you have any questions, complaints, or anything to say about the contests of this list, please don't hesitate to send me a private message on the forums. I always loving hearing about how my comments affect people's viewing/purchasing choices, even if it's to the tune of "you totally gushed over this anime, so I knew to avoid it." Not only does it help me improve what I write here, but it helps me feel like I haven't completely wasted my time writing all this.
|801 T.T.S. Airbats (OAV)||Not really good||The kind of show that entertains while it's running, but when it's over, makes you ask, "Okay... why did they make that?" I can hardly believe it was made under coordination with the military, since it pretty much makes a mockery of military discipline and values. DomFortress would certainly go into conniptions over corruption and impurity and other such nonsense. But that doesn't really matter, because Airbats is an exercise in boredom and forcing oneself to slog through each episode. Yeah, there's some cool flying, but the actual stories are a wash-rinse-repeat cycle of love triangles and "can our lovable misfit squadron avoid dissolution, again?" The characters are tolerable at best, annoying and predictable at worst. And then the end doesn't manage to survive anything major regarding the military aspects or the romances. There are some laughs to be had, but there's just nothing substantial to get into with this OVA.|
|A-Ko the Versus (OAV)||Not really good||Seriously, what the hell were they thinking? Be warned, this is a completely alternate continuity to the rest of the Project A-Ko projects, so if you go into Vs. expecting more of the same, you'll be sorely disappointed. In fact, you'll probably disappointed no matter what your expectations are, because this is an absolutely generic "LovelyAngels duo chase bad guys and rescue annoying bratty kid, and oh yeah, the whole universe is going to die" story that happens to have A-Ko characters inserted into key roles. Too dumb and mindless to live up to the legendary dumb and mindless fun of the previous installments, yet not incompetent enough to be hilariously bad.
All in all, A-Ko the Versus will just leave you scratching your head, wondering why it was ever made.
|Aa Megami-sama: Tatakau Tsubasa (special)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Accelerando - Datenshi-tachi no Sasayaki (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|AD Police (TV)||Not really good||AD Police (1999 TV series) is a great case study on the classic "laws of anime" and laws of traditional Westerns, but those qualities make it not so effective as a police action-drama. The problem is that we get this special squad of "Advanced Police" whose main distinction from "Normal Police" is their capability to engage heavily-armed cyborgs with only a pistol and come out victorious by being able to shoot these cyborgs' cores. This leads to many many scenes of our heroes running through barrages of gunfire unscathed and other flights of fallacy as the plot winds through a conspiracy of stealing "Boomers" from Genom corporation and the revelation of some of Genom's true aims.
Of course, this comes with all the usual cop show clichés; I was so waiting for somebody to say "You're a loose cannon!" or "I'm getting too old for this shit," but I went unrewarded. We do see all the standard "mismatched partner" elements come into play, though. For an older ADV dub, AD Police TV does a fairly good job of keeping things natural and believable in the acting, though that's partly because the subtitles do a good job of making things less believable. Like a woman screaming out "HUSBAND! HUSBAND!" as her spouse is getting set up the bomb in a collapsing building. This was my first exposure to the Bubblegum Crisis / AD Police franchise, and I think watching it first was the right idea -- this way, I won't be as disappointed as I would've if I'd seen the classic series first.
|AD Police Files (OAV)||Good||True to its name, this OVA is a collection of "police files," and as such doesn't feel too short or incomplete. It's just another set of additions to the Boomer/Neo-Tokyo/Genom City mythos established in the rest of the franchise. Animation isn't quite as highly refined and detailed as in the original Bubblegum Crisis OVA, but it gets the job done in portraying a starkly grim Neo Tokyo that isn't dominated by pink hair and 80s pop numbers. Storywise, ADP explores an increasingly thin divide between humans and Boomers. Where other parts of the franchise had humans, Boomers, and pretty much nothing in-between, this OVA deals with humans questioning where their humanity ends in the process of cybernetic implantation. Lots of sex and violence too, in the way only late-80s/early-90s anime delivered them. OVA 3 is a bit of a RoboCop ripoff, but oh well, it works okay. I don't think I ever saw RoboCop back in the day, anyway. So while AD Police Files isn't as well-known or influential in North American fandom as Bubblegum Crisis, it's no less worthy of attention.|
|Afro Samurai (TV)||Decent||AFRO, NO!!!!!!!!
I'd never made an active effort to acquire Afro Samurai on my own, but since a friend of mine had it, I figured I'd watch it on a "may as well" basis. In the realm of animation quality and shock/entertainment value, AS is nearly unrivaled. The huge production costs are evident in the high-energy fight scenes and even the non-fight scenes, which show heavy amounts of stylization and detail. Basically, it's a triumph of the co-produced hybrid anime, and the result is something that's not quite Japanese (despite being animated in Japan) and not quite American (despite the involvement of Samuel L. Jackson and the "African-American Western" mood). And there is plenty of entertainment to be had, from the creative killing methods, over-the-top violence & gore, and just the sheer ridiculousness of samurai swordfights mixed with modern devices like cell phones, night vision goggles, and sophisticated weaponry. My favorite bit had to be Afro's "shadow" calling out, "Afro! There ain't no f*cking way you can win against this guy! He's got arrows and grenades and shit!" However, the level of story sophistication doesn't measure up to the level of technical sophistication, because the main story beyond the flashes of steel and geysers of blood is a fairly typical revenge saga, whose plot twists and quirks are easily predictable to those who are familiar with lots of anime and/or Hollywood movies. Especially as the flashbacks mount up, the connections to the characters from Afro's past become more apparent, leaving the audience only 10% as surprised at plot developments as the characters are.
But for all its flaws, AS is still very much worth watching at least once, if only to see the potential of high budgets and the melding of talents from both sides of the Pacific. Or just to see how a samurai with nothing more than a sword and and afro can beat an enemy carrying an RPG.
|Afro Samurai: Resurrection (movie)||Good||Suffers a bit from being in the movie format, as opposed to the serialized format of the previous incarnation. As a result, the story does feel rather rushed and compressed. But when you've got Samuel L. Jackson being badass and hacking through baddies with a ridiculously overpowered katana, who cares? This movie is also notable for changing the definition of the word "dead," with lines like "Dead him, Afro!" and "Didn't you dead this guy already?"|
|After Class Lesson (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|After... The Animation (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Ah My Buddha (TV)||Decent||After seeing all 13 episodes, I can say that Amaenaide yo!! is a bit above the average harem/etchi anime, but it still has too much pointless fanservice to get anything more than a good rating. That said, I recommend checking it out; you get to see some version of Buddhist spirituality at work, with a bit of comedy as Ikkou gets abused by the girls. Keitarou would be proud. Aside from the "monk gets super powers when horny" storyline, there really are some good moments that deal with life, death and regrets. Especially episode 9.|
|Ah! My Goddess (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Ah! My Goddess: The Movie||Good||*comment pending*|
|Ai Monogatari (OAV)||Very good||Also known, if not very widely, as 9 Love Stories. Prone to lapses into manga-style slideshows from time to time, but that's forgivable for 9LS' payoff: an old-school, nostalgic anthology of mature adult romance. You won't find anything in the way of recurring characters or over-arching plots, but if you can get attached to characters and their predicaments within a short span of time, there's a lot to like. Some stories are more predictable than others, but it's always nice to see characters with romantic histories and regrets, in contrast to the usual first-love antics we see in anime. There's also a rich variety of insert songs to frame the action, some in English, some in Japanese. How they got away with using Beatles songs is beyond me.|
|Ai Yori Aoshi (TV)||Good||A romance / harem comedy show, but at least this one isn't the typical school setting...we get characters in college, and the childhood friend/promise angle combined with a look at arranged marriages. Some will criticize Aoi for being too devoted and subservient, but I think it's an interesting character study on someone who dedicated themselves to an ideal as a child and kept with it no matter what. The first four and last four episodes are probably the best, as the middle of the series introduces more girls and some fanservicey comedy. Even so, the other girls have their moments, and there's enough of Aoi and Kaoru (who is not as pathetic as Keitarou and other male leads) to make things worth it.|
|Ai Yori Aoshi ~Enishi~ (TV)||Decent||A continuation of Ai yori aoshi, Enishi gets a slightly lower rating because it feels like filler, and the end doesn't provide final resolution. We do see a bit more of the Aoi/Kaoru story, along with the antics of the other girls. These antics are pretty typical for harem/fanservice anime, so you get all the standard swimsuit poses, convenient falls, and other events that continue the first season's tradition of diluting a perfectly good love story with lowbrow comedy. As a partial discredit to the writing quality, Enishi marks the first time (January 2005) when I watched an anime in Japanese with subtitles and thought, "Wow, I can understand a large percentage of what's being said!" based on the audio.|
|Air (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #10: see comment in Top 30|
|Air (movie)||Very good||A condensed "re-versioning" of the Air storyline; for a movie, the animation isn't particularly better than the TV series, just different. Some character designs, like Misuzu's, are more "normalized" compared to Air TV. The story is approached in different ways, like placing the medieval flashbacks within Misuzu's historical research, and reducing or eliminating the roles of the secondary girls. The result is a more streamlined, understandable story that plays up the Yukito and Misuzu relationship, with a minor twist on the famous "goal" scene. Unfortunately, this removes some of the charm that came from the confusion and multiple storylines in the TV series, but the Air movie is very much worth watching if you like the Air TV or sad/supernatural anime in general.|
|Air In Summer (special)||Good||Sidestory of one of my top favorite anime, featuring a more in-depth look at Ryuuha, Uraha, and Kanna and the adventures and misadventures they have on their travels. Not outstanding enough on its own to be an excellent anime, but the character animation and background art is perfectly comparable to the high levels found in the TV series. Not recommended if you haven't seen AIR TV through episode 9, mainly because you won't really understand what's going on otherwise.|
|Aishiteruze Baby (TV)||Good||If you couldn't already tell, I like cute shows, and Ai Baby fits the bill. It's the story of a five-year-old girl who is abandoned by her mother, and for some inexplicable reason, comes to be taken care of by her cousin, Kippei. Unlike most guys in anime, Kippei actually makes the male race look good, as expected of a shoujo anime male lead. So with that setup, Ai Baby is equal parts smarmy cuteness and angst, as Yuzuyu is very endearing and you can't help but feel bad for her on numerous occasions. Plus, we get some romance with Kippei and a serious love interest, who has some sorrows of her own. If you like kids' stuff and cuteness, you'll be pleased, but otherwise, you may be bored. However, Kokoro provides some great eye candy for the guys.|
|Ajimu - Kaigan Monogatari (ONA)||Decent||I really thought this one was based on a visual novel, but apparently it's an anime-original. Can't blame me for thinking that though, as it's got an exotic summery setting where a guy interacts with numerous girls, eventually winding up with one of them. So if you like VN adapations, you'll probably like Ajimu Beach Story. Even if you don't like that genre, ABS works as a generalized romance anime. One noteworthy aspect is that the title girl, Ajimu, has "her own thing" going on, independent of the male lead. The downside to that is that the "own thing" is singing and playing the ukulele, so you'll have to tolerate a few insert songs being used over and over again. The OP is a real treat though -- it's a driving, guitar/synth powered song that not only evokes the tropical setting of the ONA, but also SNES-era video game music.
It's strange, I remember picking up ABS on the fansub circuit a few years back because I really wanted to see it for some reason. But then it sat around for awhile, even though I had that "gotta see this!" thought in the back of my mind. When I finally did watch it, I wasn't exactly disappointed. If anything, ABS is simply unmemorable. It's pleasant, sometimes funny, and occasionally moving. But in the end, I can only give it a 6, because I had to scan back through the episodes to recall anything about the characters or the major plot points.
|Akahori Gedō Hour Rabuge (TV)||Decent|
|Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka (TV)||So-so||Based on an H-game. Lots of girls. An all-star voice cast including Rie Kugimiya, Aya Hirano, Rie Tanaka, Ryou Hirohashi, and more. Rie Kugimiya playing a wealthy tsundere girl who winds up in an arranged-marriage / cohabitation scenario. What could possibly go wrong? I should have liked this show a lot. But I didn't, as the rating shows. So what went wrong?
Really, five sixths of the show are quite good on a "for what they are" basis. Not many of these shows open with secret agents and espionage, so it started strong out of the gate. Rie Kugimiya's Yuuhi Katagiri is petulantly adorable, and even coined the term "panic-dere" for her fretting over main character
So what did go wrong? At the risk of spoilers, AkaSaka spent 10 episodes developing characters' actions and reactions, while simultaneously building their relationships. When you throw all of that out the window in favor of something shocking and controversial for the sake of shock and controversy, there are bound to be some unhappy campers. I could respect Rumbling Hearts for the choices that the story and the characters made, because they all proceeded with some degree of logic from what had happened before. Not so with AkaSaka. I might have retained a modicum of respect for the ending if AkaSaka had actually stuck to its guns. But no, they employed a cop-out that basically said, "You don't have to feel creeped out about this ;-)" Maybe that way it wouldn't have been such an epic failure of a WallBanger. Here's hoping that the upcoming OVA is an alternate ending of some sort.
|Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka Hardcore (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Akane Maniax (OAV)||Weak||This OVA holds a small place in history for being the catalyst of Media Factory International's C&D actions against fansub groups and "that one website." After seeing it, it's not surprising that they wanted to keep it under wraps. If Akane Maniax weren't associated with Rumbling Hearts, it wouldn't get half the attention it does. While it's not bad technically (animation and music are at average OVA levels of quality), the story and the characters are maddening enough that you'll be glad it's only three episodes. The main problem is Gouda Jingouji, who is the most clueless, delusional lead male this side of Love Hina's Keitarou Urashima. And to go along with his delusions, the viewers get a variety of "imagination" scenes, many of which involve giant mecha. Yes, giant mecha in what is ostensibly a school romance/comedy story. Seasoned viewers will no doubt recognize Gouda's VA (Tomokazu Seki) from other, better roles, and think "how the mighty have fallen." Granted, there are some good moments, but it's not a good sign when the best moments are the reminiscences of a title's much superior parent story. Funimation is making the right choice in not bringing this one over.|
|Aki Sora (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Aki Sora: Yume no Naka (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Akikan! (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Akikan! (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Akira (movie)||Good||Deserves recognition for helping fuel the anime boom outside Japan starting in 1990 or so. I've only ever seen it in English, so I'll have to check watch it again before finalizing comments. However, I will say that it's a great weird/dark/violent story, with enough to satisfy the action and philosophical junkies out there. Even lovers of cute/romantic shows should watch it.|
|Alien Nine (special)||Good||*comment pending*|
|All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku (OAV)||Very good||While I haven't seen much of the original Tenchi Muyo, the original Nuku Nuku OVA is a shining example of early-90s OVAs, with high-quality animation (at least on par with what I've seen of Tenchi), and just a pure sense of wackiness and fun that's lacking in most contemporary anime. I actually saw this OVA last after viewing Nuku Nuku TV and the Dash OVA, so as a result, the story was familar enough: Ryunousuke comes to live with cat-based androbot, fanservice and various adventures involving Mishima creations gone amok ensue, and at the end Nuku Nuku is confronted with a choice over making the ultimate sacrifice. The main differences in NN-OVA are that the parents are divorced, with Ryu's mother Akiko wielding Mishima Industries' and giving "custody battle" a new meaning; and that the OVA format gives the episodes a standalone nature, as if every episode were made fearing it would be the last. Luckily, there is a satisfying conclusion in episode 6, setting it apart from many other OVAs.
Sadly, the DVD for this is OOP, so it may soon be an expired license. I'd skip the English version, though; too many name gaffes and performances that don't live up to the old-time Japanese originals like Megumi Hayashibara.
|All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku (TV)||Good||An anime that reminds us not to take everything so seriously. I haven't seen the original OVA series yet, but Nuku Nuku TV is a fun ride, where everything is so rediculously over the top (save for the "straight man," Ryunousuke, whose role is also key to the comedy) that you'll either seriously enjoy it or seriously hate it. The parody of heroic anime in the last episode is of note, and many standard anime conventions (like the sweat drop) are exposed and lampooned. It won't satiate your dramatic cravings, but Nuku Nuku TV is appreciable by veteran anime fans, and to a lesser extent, by newbies.|
|All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku DASH! (OAV)||Good||NN-Dash seems to have a "black sheep" status in the Nuku Nuku franchise, but I liked it just as much as I did the original OVA and NN-TV. Dash changes things up by making Ryunousuke old enough to allow a non-creepy romantic plotline between him and Nuku Nuku, who in Ryu's eyes is just a normal girl until he learns the truth. Dash is much more serious and slower-paced than the other incarnations, though the "Nuku Nuku combats Mishima weaponry" formula is still there. Although this was an OVA, the technical qualities aren't too much better than the TV series, which aired earlier the same year (1998).
NN-Dash might not live up to the comedic reputation of the other versions, but the age-appropriate romance is a nice twist, and you may find a few standout episodes that increase the overall value. For me it was episode 9, a fantastically sad tale about another robot girl similar to Nuku Nuku. And the ending of Dash was effective enough to draw a few tears, although the actual resolution is different enough from its predecessors' to be distinctive. NN-Dash is a bit of a harder sell to fans new to the franchise, but I'm glad to have it on my shelves.
|Amaenaide yo!! Katsu!! (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Amagami SS (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Anal Sanctuary (OAV)||Bad||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|And Yet the Town Moves (TV)||Good|
|Ane Haramix (OAV)||Good||All hentai have been moved to a separate list|
|Angel Beats! (TV)||Excellent||Lives up to every bit of its impressive|
|Angel Links (TV)||Good||In an unprecedented move, I'm going to be lazy and link to an external review, rather than write a full comment. However, the review is one that I wrote, so it should be okay ^_^
In condensed form, Angel Links is a show that suffers from its comparisons and marketing connections to Outlaw Star. Not because it's worse than OS (although actually, it is worse, but not by much), but because AL will disappoint fans who are looking for more of the same things they liked in OS. AL has an unglamorous beginning, starting with a few fights between "Space Pirates of The Week" and the Angel Links spacecraft's overpowered overkill weapons, as well as some blatantly recycled "launch" footage that qualifies as non-sexual fanservice. While many of the characters remain undeveloped in the short runtime, Meifon Li stands out as an impulsive, bratty, yet extremely steadfast and determined teenage captain. Once her main story starts up after the midway point of the series, it's hard not to keep watching and caring about her. AL barrels towards a conclusion that's sometimes cheesy (i.e. "Villain's base mysteriously collapses upon villain's defeat"), but certain parts are truly moving and made the whole series worth watching to me.
|Angel Tales (TV)||Decent||Cute, enjoyable, fluffy series, but comes with heavy counter-recommendations: If you can't stand the sight of cute girls fawning over and being emotionally dependent on a Pathetic Standard Anime Loser Male (or "PSALM" for short) whom they call "Master," AVOID AT ALL COSTS. Basically, it's a harem without a whole lot of visual fanservice, but with plenty of "mental fanservice." Luckily, for those who like cute anime girls in abundance, Angel Tales does not disappoint, as you get girls of all ages (under 20, of course) with a variety of personalities,hair colors, and eccentricities. The reincarnated animal setup make AT differ a bit from other series in the genre--I found that some of the best parts were the flashbacks to the past "traumas" of the girls and their ways of dealing with them in the present. You can even revel in the irony of a fish being scared of water and a parakeet being scared of heights, for example.
Unfortunately there's not much plot or substance behind the fluff. Early episodes feature riveting tales such as "Goro has to look for a job to feed these new girls at his house. Some of the girls decide to 'help' him in his search. What could possibly go wrong? And when AT does decide to develop a serious plot towards the end, you might well wish that it hadn't. There's probably a reason why I'll have to resort to fansubs for the second season, since I don't see Bandai taking a chance on releasing more of this series. Make sure to check out the "Venomous Tales" clips on the DVDs though -- they're highly irreverant "reversionings" that replace some cute sections with more bizarre and twisted elements.
|Angelic Layer (TV)||Excellent||Top 30 #09: see comment in Top 30|
|Angels in the Court (OAV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Animation Runner Kuromi (OAV)||Very good||One of the first times I noticed anime direction trademarks. This tongue-in-cheek look at and parody of the anime/animation industry can be distilled as "Kodocha meets Genshiken", due to the contributions of director Akitarou Daichi. Title character Kuromi, after finding herself in a real-life version of Whose Line "Worlds Worst Promotions" sketch, gives Sana Kurata a run for her money as she dashes, spins, and prances her way around the scenery. The supporting cast doesn't lose anything to her *incomplete*|
|Animation Runner Kuromi 2 (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Animatrix (OAV)||Good||If you like anime but not The Matrix, you won't like this, but if you like The Matrix and aren't familiar with anime, TA can serve as a "gateway drug." Almost every segment has something going for it, whether it's CGI visuals or further exploration of The Matrix's backstory. "Matriculated" strays too far into pretentious acid-trip territory, but the others are worth a look. My personal favorite is the slow-moving, dreamy, playful "Beyond." The extras are also worth a look, as they explain some valuble things about TA and about anime in general.|
|anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (TV)||Excellent|
|Another Lady Innocent (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Apocalypse Zero (OAV)||Worst ever||I hesitate to toss out "Worst Ever" ratings, but Apocalypse Zero earns it by sheer revulsion factor alone. To be fair, A0 is not completely without merit -- the animation is OVA-quality for the most part, with lots of detail on the power suits and lots of, uh, "creativity" for the mutated monsters. Unfortunately, much of the animation goes into portraying all kinds of horrific acts, most of which I don't even want to recount here. "Ultraviolence" is an understatement, and there's also plenty of disturbing sexual elements that might make you consider A0 borderline hentai. But trust me, there's nothing erotic or arousing about anything in A0. Beyond all that, A0 features an array of the dumbest, most one-dimensional characters I've ever seen. You'd think that students in a post-apocalyptic world would be street smart enough to run like hell when confronting a 15-foot mutated crime against nature, but no, they stand around and try to reason with these creatures, even when our hero Kakugo saves their asses and gives them a chance to get away. Add to that a plot built on poorly developed or non-existent character motivations that ultimately goes nowhere after two (literally) gut-wrenching episodes, and it all comes together as one of the biggest wastes of time I've sat down and watched. I'd rather sit through Garzey's Wing again, because at least that OVA was merely pointless and non-sensical, rather than deliberately offensive.
If you long for the days when "anime" meant something bizarre, outlandish, and over-the-top with violence and sexual elements, A0 may be a good choice for you; it just wasn't a good choice for me. If you're brave enough to seek A0 out, be sure to check out Bang Zoom!'s English dub -- I don't think I've ever heard the line "I kissed a dog once" done better anywhere else.
|Aquarian Age - Sign for Evolution (TV)||So-so||Aquarian Age TV was just a "meh" series through and through for me. The fact that it's basically a fusion between "card games are serious business" shows like Yu-gi-oh! and CLAMP's X/1999 might have something to do with that. Actually, it's more like a ripoff of X, right down to some individual lines that seemed stolen wholesale, like, "He can be born as A and save the world, or B to destroy it." Even with ADV's handy-dandy who's-who insert guide at the ready, it was still difficult to follow the different factions and their confusing jumble of names, motives, and goals. Add to all that Yuki Kajiura's typical insomnia-medication music and fights that got abstracted to colored lines flitting about the skies, and the simple act of staying awake became my greatest battle. AquAge looks pretty enough, but its short length means things are too rushed for the emotional parts to have any coherent impact. Although there is a decent love story going on that gets a reasonable conclusion, I'll have to chalk this show up to "merchandising for fans of the card game."|
|Aquarian Age the Movie (OAV)||Weak||At only an hour's length, Aquarian Age the Movie barely qualifies as a movie. In fact, it barely qualifies as much of anything, other than undeveloped characters hastily meeting each other, and then having a showdown with some vague world-threatening evil force. So yeah, not much more than a vehicle to push a children's(?) card game. Now, if you [i]really[/i] liked the Aquarian Age TV series and are just dying for more, then the movie is recommendable. But I don't know of anyone who's ever had a reaction to the TV series better than "Well, that wasn't too bad.|
|Aquarion (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Aquatic Language (special)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Ar Tonelico (OAV)||Decent||A nice one-shot OVA that presents an intriguing fantasy world. CG airships and magical combat/items abound, with some hints of a world stratified socially by "the tower" (split between those who live above and those who live below). Characters get introduced, and they aren't *un*-likeable, but there's just not enough time to put anything significant together. The theme here is "We must defeat the monster with the power of song," kind of like RahXephon but without the Aztec names. Unfortunately, this OVA is pretty much a game promo for a game that will never see the light outside Japan, so it's fairly pointless in the grand scheme of things.|
|Arc the Lad (TV)||Decent||AtL is mostly a video game-based series with loads of magic, fighting, and scary-ass monsters. Though Arc is the title character, the story focuses on Elk, who is in serious need of a LiveJournal or MySpace to vent his complaints about life. However, there are some very interesting surprises near the middle that help to redeem the show. Too bad the villain is your typical "I am TEH EVAL POWER and I will destroy everything!!1!" type; this drags the overall level of the plot down a bit, but at least the airships and John Williams-esque opening theme keep the good times rolling.|
|Arcade Gamer Fubuki (TV)||Bad||It was nothing but BileFascination that led me to seek Arcade Gamer Fubiki out, and I went into it with full knowledge of the potential consequences. The main consequence of that was losing ~100 minutes of my life that I'll never get back, but oh well, I wasn't doing anything important with those minutes anyway. AGF tries to tap into nostalgia for the grande olde agee of arcade gaming, but its efforts to create EPIC tournaments just fail. There's only so many ways you can over-dramatize coin insertion, joystick manipulation, and button-mashing before it all turns into a mess of WhatDoYouMeanItsNotAwesome. The attempts at fanservice and titillation also fall flat. These girls just aren't sexy, not from a normal male viewpoint or from a lolicon viewpoint. (Standard disclaimer: I'm not a lolicon, but that doesn't mean I can't tell what they like.) And the plot, such as it is, has all of its supposedly major revelations telegraphed to any remotely intelligent viewer. The comedy... well, there are some occasional bright spots, like the mysterious masked figure actually acting hurt after making a dramatic exit through a plate of glass. But most of the time, you'll be laughing in a subconscious effort to trick your brain into thinking things are funny, when they actually aren't.
Justin Sevakis, I salute your arduous subtitling efforts on AGF, as they added as much lulz as possible while still sticking to the translations.
|Area 88 (OAV)||Very good||My only regret is that I saw this one on a bootleg DVD with awful subtitles. I first saw it because the game "U.N. Squadron" for SNES was based on it, and I can say the game certainly whitewashes some things...A88 is a great fighter jet action anime, with a dark story about war and (in)humanity behind it. The level of detail in the flight scenes is quite high, a hallmark of the old hand-drawn days. As for the story, it'll soon become clear that in some situations, there are no easy answers. Now that I have the ADV re-release, I can go back and watch this with an English dub or subtitles that actually make sense.|
|Area 88 (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Argento Soma (TV)||Very good||I get the feeling that this series made little or no impact on either side of the Pacific. Which is really a shame, as Argento Soma is a well-made, thoughtful, slow-paced psychological mecha anime that does enough things right to distinguish itself from its compatriots. Chief among those compatriots would of course be Neon Genesis: Evangelion. Sunrise had previously thrown their hat into the "Eva clone" ring with 1998's Gasaraki, a show that combined mostly realistic mecha and politics with incomprehensible mysticism. One thinks they decided to have another go at it in 2000 with A S. The comparisons to NGE are well-founded; you have a team of mecha pilots piloting vehicles that are not quite mere machines, fighting against unknown monstrous invaders against which conventional weaponry is useless, and the continuing mental decay and breakdown of the characters.
However, A S does do some things differently, like having the pilots as twentysomething adults in a formal military unit, rather than "teens in super-secret maverick organization." In addition to having a split personality, the main character Takuto Kaneshiro/Ryu Soma has a clear agenda for joining the team and for fighting, rather than being thrown into the cockpit and toyed around by fate and commanding officers. Other characters, played by standout voice talents like Yui Horie, Kikuko Inoue, and Takehito Koyasu, are no less compelling than Ryu Soma. Also, the North American setting provides more varied landscapes and a larger scale of space and distance, in contrast to the cramped Japanese setting of most "Tokyo is under attack by X" stories.
While the slow pacing can make episodes hard to get through, the plot twists involving the aliens' nature and the conclusive, coherent ending make it all worthwhile. The main drawback I see is that too many fights get resolved with the help of "tagalong child character's mysterious giant robot friend," diminishing the contributions of the other characters a bit. Still A S is a solid entry in the mecha field and still offers plenty for those who aren't specifically mecha fans.
|Aria - The Natural (TV)||Excellent||There's not a whole lot more that can be said about Aria the Natural, other than that it continues in the style and spirit established in the first season. Only now, it's got twice as many episodes and better animation. If you didn't like the first season, then there won't be any "improvement" in the second season, as AtN continues right along at its lethargic pace with little or no conflict or plot development. That's not to say things don't happen; most episodes feature a character vignette or some kind of supernatural event. Some of the supernatural episodes drag quite a bit, but some of the best moments in the series occur when the two overlap in a rare 2-episode continuous story arc about the retirement of Akari's gondola. I never thought the decommissioning of a boat could be so sad. In general, if you can tap into Akari Mizunashi's "Everything is wonderful" attitude while watching, you're bound to have a rewarding experience. Besides, turning off one's internal "cynicism switch" is necessary to enjoy many anime, not just this one.|
|Aria the Animation (TV)||Very good||Aria tends to be a series that inspires extremely divisive reactions among viewers. It's the kind of series where you either fall in love with it immediately and voraciously watch it all, or you drop it after one or two episodes. I had the first reaction, possibly because I was at a convention and randomly saw episode 4, which is a bittersweet and tragic episode with those "sad supernatural" elements that I love so much. So why would people drop it so soon? Well, even I have to admit that Aria is "boring." Despite the fantasy setting, it's slice-of-life to the maximum, is almost devoid of conflict, and moves along at a snail's pace. So, we're left with stories of eternally optimistic Akari and her dreams of becoming an "undine" (tourist gondola rower) as she meets people, carries out tasks, and practices the trade with her friends that happen to work for rival companies.
The setting of Aria is a character in itself, as it takes place on a watery Mars (called "Aqua") in the beautiful city of Neo-Venezia. Everything looks lovely, from the seas to the skies to the buildings to the highly-cosplayable outfits of the 90% female cast. (Despite that, there's not much fanservice outside one swimsuit episode, so it's a show for older audiences but not otaku/fanboy fodder.) And fans of deformed/chibified faces won't go home empty-handed.
It's a shame that Aria and its sequel won't get licensed, but that's inevitable for series like this that simply aren't for everyone. Still, for niche fans of series like Kamichu!, Someday's Dreamers, Kokoro Library, and To Heart, Aria is pure gold.
|Aria the Origination (TV)||Masterpiece||The ARIA franchise just kept getting better and better, until finally culminating and ending in 13 episodes of material that I had no choice but to rate "Masterpiece." The franchise always looked good visually, but for AtO they stepped things up considerably. Widescreen format, more detail on buildings, more pleasantly integrated CG water effects, more fluid character facial expressions (whether normal or super-deformed) -- just more of everything. One of the main criticisms leveled against ARIA is its random, episodic format that precludes an over-arching storyline. To those critics I say, "Preclude This": Aria the Origination puts a spectacular conclusion on the story that you'll realize has been there all along. It's the story of Akari, Aika, and Alice's journey to becoming the next generation of Prima Undines, and what that means for the precious friendships they've developed along the way. As per the "Origination" part of the title, we also see the pasts of Alicia, Akira, Atena, and even Grandma, as well as the "origins" of Aria Company. There isn't as much "supernatural tearjerker" factor as the previous two series, but AtO is chock-full of wonderfully bitersweet "happy-sad" moments. If you've come to like and care about these characters over the 40 episodes prior to this series, you will feel their triumphs and losses as if they were your own. And if the events of the last 3-4 episodes weren't enough, I have never been this sad to see a franchise end since finishing Sailor Moon Stars, and that was after 200 episodes of the first anime I ever got into.
But if you have been following the Aria franchise up to this point, you don't need me to tell you that continuing to AtO is a no-question decision. And if you haven't...well, what are you waiting for, start watching it now if for no other reason than the emotional windfall payoff found in Aria the Origination.
|Aria the OVA ~Arietta~||Very good||Even better animation and art quality than the two TV series. Still not a lot of story, but there are some informative flashbacks about Alicia's past from before Akari joined Aria Company. It's only 1 episode, so if you like the Aria franchise in general, don't hesitate to grab it.|
|ARISA (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Arjuna (TV)||Very good||Our world is in peril. Gaia, the Spirit of the Earth, has sent five magic rings... Oh wait, wrong series. Well, apparently everything we do in our modern world is wrong, and we're all screwed when the oil starts running low, but in the meantime, there are plenty of anime to watch. Arjuna is very much a visual and aural feast, with striking combinations of animation and live-action for the eyes, and a score good enough to get its own audio track. The content, however, is another story. There's an adequate love story, and plenty of evolution for Juna, but much of the material is thinly-veiled eco-propaganda that preaches to the choir. Not to mention characters that are annoying (Cindy) and confusing/useless (Chris--"You must defend the planet. But don't kill anything, including the rampaging monsters that are causing all this destruction.") And, what messages should we interpret for our reality when the events are put into motion by psychics and supernatural creatures? In fact, Arjuna's message can wind up backfiring--if modern civilization is doomed and corrupt, why not enjoy it while we can? Still, I have to respect a series that sticks to its philosophical guns, even if it does run out of ammunition at the end. Looking back, I'm not sure why I rated Arjuna as highly as I did, but the music and visuals are impressive enough to deserve attention in their own right. No matter how muddled the message of Arjuna, it's not unpleasant to look at or listen to|
|Armitage III: Poly-Matrix (movie)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Assemble Insert (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Astarotte's Toy (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Asura Cryin' (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Asura Cryin' 2 (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Avenger (TV)||Not really good||In the tradition of other Bee Train series like Noir, Madlax, and .hack//SIGN, Avenger is slow-paced and minimally animated, and often degenerates into lengthy sleep-inducing sequences of stills and camera pans over stills. While Noir at least had a good story and somewhat interesting characters to go with it, Avenger introduces flat, mostly unsympathetic characters and a story that starts in a "that might be cool" position, but ends up with too many loose ends and unanswered questions to be satisfying by the time episode 13 comes to a close. It's hard to tell which character is most at fault: Layla, the bland, butch, hard-boiled gladiator woman, with her "Go ahead, try and kill me" catchphrase? Speedy, the doll breeder who, like the audience, is merely "along for the ride" and doesn't do much of anything anything? Nei, the inhuman doll who also doesn't do much of anything?
Maybe a 24-episode run could've helped things, but there were so many instances when Avenger appeared to be killing time that I don't know if the audience could've taken more episodes. To its credit, Avenger has some good fighting scenes, even if the motivation behind the fighting is a G-Gundam-esque "resource distribution" scenario. And the art/backgrounds expertly portray a ruined, depressing, postapocalyptic Mars. But Avenger's primary saving grace is its music; the chaotic, confusing, non-sensical OP and ED by Ali Project are just so addictive that you'll want to play to them again and again (which I can't say for the anime itself), and the background music is always hard at work with vocal and instrumental tracks that intensify the mood and save the series from slipping from mediocre to awful.
I can't say I regret watching Avenger, but I confess I gleaned more enjoyment from cheesier series like Yumeria and Magikano that didn't promise much, but accomplished what they set out to do. Avenger, on the other hand, introduced an exotic world with lots of potential backstory and possibilities, and then proceeded to plod around for 13 episodes while only vaguely accomplishing some of its goals.
|Ayumayu Theater (ONA)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Azumanga Daioh (TV)||Excellent||Azumanga Daioh is an acquired taste. If you're looking for a serious plot, or really, for any plot beyond a look at three years of high school, you won't find it in Azumanga Daioh. If you want cute, fluffy, and off-the-wall random comedy, AzuDai has plenty of it, with a cast of eccentric/bizarre female characters, including Chiyo-chan, common nominee for "cutest ever." And cats. Lots of cats.
I've read that AzuDai is something of an unoffical favorite in the black hole known as 4chan, so that should indicate the type of appeal it has; quotable quotes, characters with ytmnd-able attributes. For anyone who's graduated from high school, no matter their country, the last episode is guaranteed to bring up some bittersweet nostalgia.
|Azumanga Daioh - The Very Short Movie||Decent||An array of jokes and gags covered in the first two episodes. Contains an alternate version of Osaka's dream about Chiyo's pigtails. Not a bad extra, but nothing too special--the series is more coherent and funnier for those scenes.|
|Azumanga Web Daioh (ONA)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Azusa, Otetsudai Shimasu! (special)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|B Gata H Kei - Yamada’s First Time (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Baby Love (OAV)||Decent||It's been said that males are bigger DVD / home video collectors compared to the fairer sex, so it should come as no surprise that shoujo OVAs like Baby Love are few and far between. For that reason, Baby Love has a bit more historical significance than it does entertainment value. It's not bad by any means; it's a simple, charming story of a girl seeking the love of an older boy who's all too interested in the allure of more mature girls. Seasoned viewers will likely be able to see every plot twist coming a kilometer away, but if you like standard shoujo shenanigans and love polygons, Baby Love isn't half bad. At the same time though, it's no more than half-good, because it probably condenses too many manga volumes into 30 minutes, leaving character and story developments rushed or incomplete. It might have been better as a 13-episode TV series, but that anime format was still in its infancy back in 1997 when Baby Love was released.|
|Baccano! (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts 2 (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts OVA||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Bakemonogatari (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Banner of the Stars (TV)||Very good||In reading other reviews of this series and its predecessor, Crest of the Stars, I found that I wasn't alone in my reaction to Banner of the Stars. In CotS, the main draw for me was the relationship and interactions between Jinto and Lafiel. This element is still present in BotS, but the latter half of the series is much heavier on the space fighting / tactical side of the story. I didn't hate the fighting (it was improved animation-wise over the "talking heads/damage report" style of CoTS), but it did detract from the Jinto/Lafiel scenes and the exploration of the fascinating Abh culture. Luckily, the early episodes are more dialogue-intensive, and manage to tie back to some of CotS' events while introducing new characters like the battle-hardened Samson, the cutely dangerous (romantically-speaking, that is) Ekuryua and the spectacularly insane commanders Nereis and Nefee. Plus, the always-entertaining yet eternally-bored Admiral Spoor gets more screentime.
Unfortunately the animators had an apparent lack of faith in the dialogues, which they displayed by cutting to camera pans over other scenes, usually of female characters in the bath or nightclothes, during dialogues of completely unrelated characters. There's also a few too many CotS flashback sequences, to the point where you practically get the whole CotS series retold as if it's the "glory days" and BotS is a pale shadow in its wake. But that's not the case; if you liked CotS, there's no reason not to continue on with this sequel and see more of one of anime's greatest couples.
|Banner of the Stars II (TV)||Good||BotS 2 features more land-based action than any other series in the franchise, and I have to wonder if that's a detriment. On a technical level, each series has improved over the last in terms of animation quality and appeal of its character designs, but BotS 2 drifts just a bit further from what first drew me to CotS. The other series succeeded with the formula of "story of relationship between human and Abh in the midst of galactic war," but BotS 2 has a lot of emphasis on what it admits to be a meaningless, out-of-the-way planet. And with the political mire of Territorial Prime Ministers, Territorial Ambassadors, and emigration regulations, I've never felt like the franchise was closer to collapsing under its own wordy weight than during BotS 2.
Nonetheless, there's still a balance between Jinto/Lafiel scenes, space fighting, and surface action. But since surface military conflicts had never been a big part of the franchise before, it felt harder to care about them in this series. And, the unprecedented land action meant less Lafiel and less Abh exposition. In the end though, the Jinto/Lafiel elements rise to the top (thanks to some clever foreshadowing using the language barrier); there are some truly heartbreaking and poignant moments of dialogue and monologue that come out of those two. At only 10 episodes, there isn't a chance for filler, and again, those who've liked the franchise so far should definitely continue on to this series. I just didn't find it as good as what came before.
Incidentally, the English dub in BotS 1 & 2 does get somewhat better than its abjectly awful outing in CotS, but the acting is still laughably Shatnerian, and overall it's not good enough for me to recommend or to improve Ocean's reputation.
|Banner of the Stars III (OAV)||Good||The real shame with this OVA is that Bandai hasn't brought it over to give "honest" viewers a chance at an epilogue to the series. While it's got some amusing spaceflight (thanks to Ekuryua) and more of the space action that viewers have come to expect, the real value of BotS 3 is its sense of "full-circle" and finality as Jinto at last makes a return to his home planet. The character designs have matured a bit and become a bit more rounded and softer, but otherwise everything is on par with the previous BotS series. I'm not sure if the novels go on, but BotS 3 felt like a fitting end to this multi-series franchise. Worth watching, and would be worth buying if Bandai did a quick 1-DVD release for it.|
|Bartender (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Basilisk (TV)||Good||What I Watched: Basilisk
What I Expected: Romeo x Juliet + Naruto
What I Got: Romeo Must Die
I still don't know what possessed me to buy Basilisk in Limited Edition singles pretty much as it came out. Key's review of disc 1 was quite favorable, but ninjas and ultraviolence usually aren't preferred elements of mine. Maybe it was the fact that the artbox is a freakin' fortress that you can stand on with no ill effects. Any show with a box that strong can't be all bad, and yes I include the 2005 Negima! series there. As a side note, this series taught me that Funimation + Gonzo is a winning combination -- I found the English dub to be much better written and more entertaining than the subtitles I followed along with. It sometimes strays from the original translation, but most changes are for the better.
So, the motto of b>Basilisk is "Kill Early, Kill Often," with the carnage starting in the first episode and rarely letting up until the ep24 end credits roll. After all, there's 20 ninja between the Kouga and Iga clans, and it's pretty clear from early on what their ultimate fate will be. That's not exactly a spoiler -- the true spoilers are the answers to the questions "Who kills whom, how, and in what order?" True to my expectations, there is a Romeo+Juliet plot component, and it's done quite well -- Gennousuke and Oboro aren't mere star-crossed lovers, but clan leaders intent on burying the hatchet through their union. And they would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids of the shogun and the proxy war of succession that embroils their clans.
Of course, there's no shortage of action, violence, sadism, blood used as a weapon, sex used as a weapon, masters of disguise, and nearly invincible badasses. Heck, Gennousuke's powers were so effective, they had to nerf him for a decently long arc. Many of the ninja have powers based on being weird animal hybrids, like being visibly part slug or spider. The bizzare variety means that battles are rarely boring.
Still, there are some issues with pacing, as some lulls between fights drag on too long, and there are many structural choices that don't make sense. Several episode midpoints feel like they should be endpoints, and vice versa. Flashbacks to characters' pasts can be effective ways of building audience sympathy for them, but not when the flashbacks show up after the characters are already dead.
But speaking of sympathy, Basilisk manages to avoid favoring one side or the other. I liked the Kouga, but I've encountered various people with completely different reactions to the clans and the characters. If you can take some violence and other "mature content" (I almost started a drinking game based on "Oboro almost gets raped"), Basilisk is a solid choice if you're looking for a tragic love story.
|Battle Angel (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Battle Arena Toshinden (OAV)||Weak||*comment pending*|
|Battle Programmer SHIRASE (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Battle Skipper (OAV)||So-so||Battle Skipper is one of those OVAs that people bought and watched in the 90s because there just wasn't a lot of selection out there. At least that's my theory, because there's nothing particularly compelling or interesting about BS (hurr hurr) that would get people to say "Man, I gotta check this out!" It's got all the trappings of fancy girls' school stories, with warring student organizations and a drill-curled blonde with the "ojou-sama laugh" to match. Add to that some Magical Girl transformations, sentai team antics, and piloted mecha, and you've got Battle Skipper summarized in 125 words or less.|
|Berserk (TV)||So-so||Downgraded to so-so after seeing the whole series. I know that it's incomplete and that the manga is pushing 30 volumes, but the events at the end gave the impression that everything that had come before was almost pointless, and by extension, the time I spent watching the first 21 episodes was also pointless. Still, Berserk is a high-quality older series with a few engaging main characters and some interesting side characters (I took an odd liking to Sir Adom of Chuder, as a campy and over-the-top figure), including one of anime's most intense/brutal warriors (Guts) and one of its most enigmatic and complicated leaders (Grifith). Berserk shines on and off the battlefield, in its depictions of battles and their planning, and in the scheming and double-dealing surrounding Grifith's rise and maintenance of power. Aside from the ending, the only reason not to watch Berserk is if you have a low tolerance for blood & violence. The outtakes on the discs are priceless--"Hey, did you see Caska in that dress? I think she wants you to baste her like a turkey."|
|Bible Black (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Bible Black Only (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Bible Black Origins (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|(The) Big O (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Big Wars (movie)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Binbou Shimai Monogatari (TV)||Decent||So cute. So heartwarming. And yet so ludicrous. Sooo slooooow. And soooo saccharine that you'll find it hard to shovel down more than one episode at once, without brushing your teeth with some violent, fanservicey, or otherwise different anime in between. It is nice to see anime orphans who aren't that way for the sake of convenience, with none of the usual hardships. I'm looking at you, Happy Lesson. Although you have to suspend some disbelief about underaged children left to live alone in a modern/industrialized nation, Poor Sisters' Story is a good slice-of-life portrait of Kyou and Asu Yamada. ("Today" and "Tomorrow," get it?) Their stories of triumphs, setbacks, and unchanging love and support for each other are generally honest and endearing, but even the most uncynical of fans won't get through all 10 episodes without rolling their eyes a few times. For my part, I couldn't get over how Kyou and Asu had an excellent chance to escape their living conditions and live rent-free, yet turned it down, most likely because they were hit by a meteor made of crystallized sentimentality. It's a good thing shows like this don't require a lot of action, or motion for that matter. Get ready for a lot of scenery stills, which contribute heavily to the pre-climate-change glacial pacing. But I have to say, the final episode was a genuine and deserved tearjerker. Still, I can't help but think that the irregular episode count of 10 was a blessing, because I'm not sure if I could've taken 2-3 more episodes.|
|Birdy the Mighty (OAV)||Decent|
|Birdy the Mighty Decode:02 (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Birdy the Mighty: Decode (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Black Blood Brothers (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|(The) Black Mail II - The Animation (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Black Rock Shooter (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Blackmail (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Bleach: Memories in the Rain (OAV)||Decent||A retelling and expansion of some of the events during the Hollow battle in episodes 8 and 9. Nothing spectacular, but manga fans may appreciate it.|
|Bleach: The Sealed Sword Frenzy (OAV)||So-so||I think I read this story somewhere...was it on fanfiction.net? Actually, this is a decent Bleach OVA that lives up to the quality of the series, packed with action and comedy, and fans of the Soul Society officers will love the ending credits scenes. Good animation, though with a villain with a name like Blade, I couldn't help but call him "Daywalker" in my mind.|
|Blood Reign: Curse of the Yoma (OAV)||Not really good||Not bad if you like early-90s artwork, ultraviolence, and nightmarish monstrous/demonic creations. Unfortunately, the scenes with monsters and violence are separated by many scenes of the main characters frustratingly wandering around the countryside. I remember thinking, "Gee, can't these guys catch a break and find a normal village to stay in, as opposed to villages filled with zombies and vengeful ghosts?|
|Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan (TV)||Good||"I'll cut you, punch you, toy with you, stab you leave you out in the cold, drip stuff on you, but that's just how I express my love!" And this is just part of the OP of this show, whose title means "Club-to-Death Angel Dokuro-chan." Not for the newbie anime watcher or the faint of heart, BTDc is full of rediculous, over-the-top violence, with parodies of Magical Girl anime and lolicon. Although many say that it's a "one-trick-pony" type of comedy, I never got tired of seing Dokuro-chan abuse and kill Sakura. I also enjoyed the fast-and-furious dialogue that occasionally tests the reading skills. Overall, it's a fun little OVA series for lovers of ultraviolence and supersonic comedy. And now I hear they're making more of it...|
|Blue Submarine No.6 (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Boku wa Imōto ni Koi o Suru: Secret Sweethearts - Kono Koi wa Himitsu (OAV)||So-so||With a title like "I'm in love with my younger sister," they're not going for subtlety on this one. Still, it's only one OVA, and has all the scandalous material one could want. The art is quite good, but the music makes you think, "Okay, when's Snidely Whiplash going to tie Iku to the train tracks now?"; it's that melodramatic. Also, watch for the best/worst Engrish ever when Iori talks about the significance of clovers.|
|Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan Second (OAV)||So-so||The first Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan was wildly successful at combining Magical Girl stereotypes, gross-out humor, obscure cultural references, over-the-top bloodshed, and lolicon-shaded fanservice. Even so, it had started to wear out its welcome by the end of its 4 episodes. "Second" is BADC over-staying its welcome. The shift to a new studio doesn't help at all, as it loses the clean, crisp look of the first series. And with only 2 episodes, there's no time for anything to develop beyond utter randomness. Not that randomness is inherently bad, but the first OVA had dropped enough hints of an over-arching storyline that it couldn't get away with being totally random. But hey, if you've got the DVD, you may as well get your money's worth and knock those 2 eps out.|
|Bottle Fairy (TV)||Decent||I'm really not sure what to make of Bottle Fairy. On one hand, it's cute, fluffy, and educational about Japanese culture, festivals, and holidays, but on the other hand, its late-night airtime means a target audience of hardcore otaku. Plus, the cultural information doesn't add a whole lot if you've seen a lot of anime and know about certain traditions. The fairies have lively and distinct personalities, and Tama-chan adds misinformation and entertainment, but I can't shake off a disturbed feeling from the overall experience of Bottle Fairy. This is especially evident in some of the summer episodes featuring swimsuits and similar outfits. Still, the imaginative, playful aspect reminds me of old cartoons like Muppet Babies, where characters would suddenly be in different costumes and different situations at the drop of a hat. In general, approach Bottle Fairy with caution.|
|Boys Be... (TV)||Good||TRSI is promoting Boys Be as a change of pace from the norm, and they're mostly right...it's a relatively normal slice-of-life series about a few guys and their struggles with women. While most non-shoujo romance series go down the fanboy-pleasing "all the women love wimpy main character" route, Boys Be provides some comedy while remaining serious. It's somewhat episodic, as the plot doesn't directly connect one episode to the next, but for a manga series that has gone on forever, the 13 episodes of Boys Be do a good job of concluding their story properly. I'm anticipating this one on DVD, since TRSI does a good job, and the video quality of the fansubs out there isn't that great.|
|Brigadoon (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Brighter than the Dawning Blue (TV)||Not really good||Another series that goes to show that I shouldn't rush out to watch any series with "Based on an H-Game" in the description. Yoake na starts out with a lot of promise, with cute girls, a "semi sci-fi" setting, and male and female leads that seemed stronger than the usual for this genre. But unfortunately, things deteriorated quickly. Between declining animation quality, increasing cliched situations, overplaying of the standard anime "my mom's dead" sympathy card, and the breakneck rushing of the story en route to a deus ex machina ending, that promise was squandered. That's not to say Yoake na was a total waste -- there was some good comedy in early episodes, Princess Feena remains a fairly strong chracter throughout, and some of the sci-fi action was welcome in a genre that normally sticks to ordinary settings.
I don't regret watching Yoake na, but it's a show that doesn't transcend the limits of the bishoujo game adaptation genre, and doesn't even rank too well within the genre. If I were asked the question, "Would you recommend this to someone who doesn't normally watch this genre of anime?", I'd have to just say "no.'
|Bubblegum Crash (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Bubblegum Crisis (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Burn Up Excess (TV)||Good||Burn Up! Excess originally entered the list in Will Not Finish when I saw the first episode at anime club awhile back. I thought it looked dated, and had pointless jiggle and fanservice. But as a testament to my
Despite all the random fun in Burn Up Excess, a plot eventually materializes by the end, and it manages to make earlier, seemingly random events fit in with the main storyline. Certain users on ANN lament that sexual fanservice in anime has been ineffectively fused with tearjerking melodrama in post-2000 anime. While I don't share those laments, I can point to Excess as an example of old-timey, "they don't make 'em like this anymore" fun anime with few pretensions of being moving or dramatic.
|Burn Up W (OAV)||Good||This is the first Burn Up! incarnation that features Rio, Maya, and Lilica's gun-toting police adventures. It's almost 2 different OVAs, with episodes 3 and 4 taking on a more serious and story-driven tone than you see in episodes 1 and 2. Plenty of nudity, jiggle, and other assorted fanservice throughout. On the story side, BuW winds up a bit incomplete, but I hear it's continued in some form in Burn Up! Excess. But chances are, you're not watching this for the plot, you're watching it to see blonde hottie Rio doing naked bungee jumping and yelling "Now I can't get married anymore!!!" In essence, this a pure, crystallized form of 1990s anime: dominated by "dumb fun" and not to be taken seriously.|
|Burn Up! (OAV)||Good||Unlike its related-in-name-only spinoffs, this original Burn Up! is mostly a police action thriller with a bit of titillation thrown in. Although Bu! has a 1990 release date, the art style and animation quality are more reminiscent of the 1980s golden age of OVAs. The initial car/bike chase is especially impressive, with complicated rotating shots that would be commonplace in the CG era, but were hard to pull off in the hand-drawn era. And for the most part, these "police babes" aren't the kinds of ditzy or cutesy flakes found in later Burn Up! incarnations, aside from the pink-haired and naïve Yuka. These women are dedicated to their missions and their teammates, even if they have to become "loose cannons" and go against police regulations to do what is right. A shame there wasn't more made with these characters, but the story wraps up pretty well for a one-shot OVA.|
|Burn-Up Scramble (TV)||So-so||Or, "Why AIC Shouldn't Make 1990s Anime in 2004." I get the feeling that Burn-Up Scramble was a result of Dentsu and Geneon USA thinking, "Well, ADV did pretty well with these 'Burn-Up' series, let's produce another one and cash in!" (See also the Saiyuki sequels.) True to its name, the creative staff, characters, and voice casts (in both languages) have been almost completely "Scrambled" in relation to the previous Burn Up incarnations. In contrast to ADV's playful, high-spirited Excess dub, Scramble's dub is a very competent and faithful Bang Zoom! production that plays just fine, but doesn't bring anything interesting to the table.
For some reason, the attempts at 90s madcap mayhem just seemed incongruous with the "clean" digital look of Scramble. Some bad CGI flames and other animation blunders didn't help things one bit. Some of the stunts required not just suspension of disbelief, but "suspension of non-belief" as well, such as Rio crawling around on the outside of a damaged moving jet airliner. While Rio's character survived the digital transition intact, the others didn't fare so well. 90s Nanvel: quiet pseudo-Chinese inventor girl. 2000s Nanvel: Gone without a trace. 90s Maya: buxom gun-toting maniac with skimpy outfits and a symbolic need to release "tension" by firing those guns. 2000s Maya: Obsessive-compulsive gun-collector with a pseudo-religious air about her and a tragic backstory. 1990s Lilica: Cute pink-haired computer genius and consummate support staff, played by Sakura "Sakura" Tange. 2000s Lilica: Not-so-cute redhead can't-control-her-powers lonely psychic girl, with poor artistic skills and a tragic backstory. See anything in common? I'm all for sap and sentimentality, but when I sit down to watch something with "Burn Up" in the title, I want action, hot chicks, guns, explosions, police conspiracies...not a freakin' "Long Lost Sensei Reunion" arc. Yeah, Scramble did have some of those things that made its predecessors good, but it just felt like they were trying to squeeze some last sliver of vitality from a franchise whose time had come and gone. I just hope the summer 2008 Slayers anime doesn't fall victim to the same disease.
This is one scramble that should've left those eggs as they were.
|Burst Angel (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Burst Angel: Infinity (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Can Can Bunny Extra (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Canary (OAV)||Not really good||A pretty forgettable one-shot OVA about trying to start and keep a band together. Of course, there's some sort of love story going on too, but the most memorable part is the reality-defying chase scenes near the end, which come close to what you see in Golden Boy, Episode 5. It won't waste too much of your time, but if you value your time, don't watch it.|
|Candy Boy (ONA)||So-so||Not really about candy or boys, this 8-minute short features a lesbian love triangle in a college setting. Good quick-watch for shoujo-ai fans, with an eye-pleasing "realistic" art style that avoids the typical anime look. // After seeing the full series, it's not extremely heavy on the incestuous lesbian content, but it is a charming story of sisterhood, sacrifice, growing up, and family bonds. Looks pretty nice too, especially if you get the DVD versions.|
|Cantaloupe Collector (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Canvas - Sepia-iro no Motif (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Canvas 2 - Niji Iro no Sketch (TV)||Good||A palette of mixed feelings about this anime. The girls are pretty and plentiful, but Canvas 2, though based on an H-game, is not a fanservice/harem anime. Not everything is bright colors and school uniforms, as C2 presents a fair amount of drama centering on a love triangle between Hiroki, Elis, and Kiri, as well as the struggles that characters have in overcoming past misfortunes and pursuing their art/other dreams. The art theme is fun, and C2 is often cute and funny to balance out the drama, but the ending...well, it shows how much a budget cut from 26 to 24 episodes can do. Not a "bad" ending per se, just a bit unexpected.|
|Cardcaptor Sakura (TV)||Very good||Do you like Clamp? Do you like Magical Girls? Do you like abject cuteness? If you answered "yes" to these questions, then you need to watch CCS. It's 70 episodes & 2 movies of required viewing. Sure, it's often a "card of the week" plot, but you have all sorts (and I do mean ALL sorts) of love triangles going on, plus no excessive transformation sequences; Sakura wears a different costume every episode, and whether she's in battle costume or school uniform, she oozes cuteness in every scene. While CCS is popular in loli circles, the series itself is innocent, unless you count normal costuming like school athleticwear as fanservice. The animation holds up well enough that it's hard to believe it comes out of the late 1990s, and stays consistent over the 70-episode run. Like other Magical Girl series, the plot has a number of minor climaxes that interrupt the "monster-of-the-week" paradigm and provide moments of heigtened tension.|
|Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card||Very good||Probably the worst thing about CCS Movie 2 is the series is finally over. You hate to see them go, but before the credits roll, you get to see Sakura, Shaoran, and all the rest (even minor characters get cameos) in one last adventure. Cuteness, magic, tears, romance, and hooeee-ing abound. I should also comment on the dub--it really is one of the great shames of anime that the whole series couldn't have been dubbed with this cast and style. Sure, they'll never beat the Japanese VAs in pure cuteness, but the CCS M2 dub is not just an improvement over the atrocious CardCaptors dub; it is a truly good-quality effort that even preserves Sakura's trademark "hooeee!" line. Watch this after episode 70 of the series; you'll have the instinct to delay it, just so that CCS doesn't "end," but it is inevitable. It is your destiny.|
|Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie||Good||Make sure to watch this between episodes 35 and 36 of CCS, as you'll see a large time skip otherwise. A decent movie that plays like an extended episode, with a wistful look into Clow Reed's past. 95 minutes of CCS goodness, but avoid the dub, as it's based on the "Cardcaptors" names and characters.|
|Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran (TV)||Good|
|Castle in the Sky (movie)||Masterpiece||Often imitated, never equalled. Vintage Miyazaki story and visuals, good acting in both languages, and a great fantasy experience, even if some of the "messages" ring a bit hollow. The ships, robots, flight scenes, and design of the castle itself will make you forget that you're watching a pre-1990 anime. Enjoyable for all ages and multiple viewings.|
|Cat Planet Cuties (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Cat Soup (OAV)||Decent||There are some good things about Cat Soup, as far as the creativity, originality, and audacity it brings to the world of animation and that of dialogue-free, abstract storytelling. However, I got the impression that I needed to be on various drugs to fully enjoy this movie, and since I didn't have access to those drugs, I can't rate it very well.|
|Ceres, Celestial Legend (TV)||Very good||The way things used to be. Done during the twilight of all-cel animation, Ceres sports beautiful artwork/character design, along with the expected amount of drama, romance, and attempted rape that you would expect from a Watase Yuu work. Only 24 episodes, so some of the manga is left out, but it's still a very layered, beautiful, and tragic story. Some say that the Aya/Touya romance is underdone, which is partially true. I'd like to think that it's an instance of "girls falling in love for no rational reason," or maybe the manga has some scenes which flesh things out a bit. Someone once commented, "I miss the days of shows like Ceres and Escaflowne where you had to stay tuned or miss important plot details," and Ceres lives up to those remarks.|
|A Certain Magical Index (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|A Certain Scientific Railgun (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Chains of Lust (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Chance Pop Session (TV)||Good||Watched this one upon reading about it in a Shelf Life column. Chance Pop Sessions is a short, cute series about music, togetherness, following one's dreams, and it has a fair share of touching moments, especially as the focus moves away from simply making it in the music world to issues of relationships/families. However, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't already like soap-opera-ish storylines and/or music/singing competitions. This is due to the preponderance of clichés, coincidences, and secondary characters that only exist for one function e.g. "catty antagonist girl," "sort of boyfriend," "character who randomly dies to shake things up," "headstrong singing rival," "disapproving parental figure." It doesn't help that the animation relies on recycled footage (the 30-second "Angel of Music" intro in each episode) and numerous stills while the same songs play over and over again. The songs aren't bad, but CPS just doesn't have the same overall appeal of similarly-themed series like Full Moon wo Sagashite. You may laugh, you may cry, and it's "feelgood" in the end, but there's not that much of substance beyond the sweet taste.|
|Cherry no Manma (OAV)||Decent||I did some work on the fansubbing of this mini-OVA, which adapts maybe a chapter or two of a shoujo manga that no one in the English-speaking fandom has ever heard of. As such, there's no character introductions -- we're dropped into the middle of a story and assumed to know about the "young girl with two older live-in servant boys" living situation. There's no major conclusion to anything, just an incident where a pair of prized panties goes missing, possibly purloined by the more perverted of the boys. Arguments, misunderstandings, and a "find the runaway" plot ensue. That's all there is, but it's only 10 minutes, and there aren't that many shoujo OVAs in the oldschool era (or any era, for that matter). So Cherry no Manma is an interesting rarity at best, and a way to burn 10 minutes before leaving for class/work at worst.
If nothing else, CnM taught me how to use \t and \move tags to typeset moving text on a spinning pair of panties. And I'll always be grateful for that.
|Chibits (special)||So-so||An entertaining diversion/disc extra, Chibits contains a Chii/Sumomo adventure, similar to the panties-buying quest in episode 4.|
|Chobits (TV)||Good||Ah, Chobits. Is it a philosophical sci-fi tale about man and machine, or a fanboy-oriented fantasy about cute, obedient computer girls that will never act like those violent and confusing real-life girls? Honestly, it's a bit of both, with some etchi comedy in the first half and a more serious story in the second half. Unfortunately, the episodes that deviate from the manga are uniformly bad, so the Chobits anime story suffers a bit. Especially since the ending is a serious deviation from the manga. Nonetheless, you do get cute/gorgeous art, a lot of laughs from Hideki, some very touching stories involving side characters, and the messages about technology are actually a reprimand to the fantasy-obsessed otaku, not a reassurance that their lifestyles are OK. This puts Chobits above standard fanservice-fests, but be sure to read the manga, too, as the ending is different enough to raise more than a few eyebrows.|
|Chobits (OAV)||So-so||Apparently, this is also labeled as episode 24.5 of the TV series, and contains scenes where Sumomo and Kotoko talk and summarize the entire series. A decent peek into the future lives of the characters, but you're really not missing much if you skip this.|
|Chocotto Sister (TV)||Good|
|Chōjikū Romanesque Samy - Missing 99 (OAV)|
|Chrome Shelled Regios (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Chrono Crusade (TV)||Very good||Manga purists will criticize Chrno Crusade for deviating from the storyline, but the ending earns points in my book for being unconventional and unhappy. First off, the series itself has pretty good animation, mood-appropriate music (OP and ED are good as well) and for awhile, a generally fun "nuns with guns" atmosphere. That, along with the 1920s America setting, are things you don't see every day. Lots of action and a more serious tone after the filler "Christmas" episode (17 or so) to bring us to the end, which in my book is appropriate and tragic for the series. I've mentioned the "sunset scene" of episode 24 in the past, and that scene's visuals, music, and dialogue create a very moving experience--because of that, Chrno Crusade's ending will be unpopular to some, but if you enjoy crying over anime as I do, it's golden.
After actually reading the manga, I'm concluding that they're both equally valid stories. They both reach the same place in the end; only the routes they use to get there are different. The first time I saw CC, it was in the fall of 2004 via a hopelessly mixed group of fansubs given to me by a friend on CD-R. It was certainly an interesting experience, being new to the fansub world and not knowing what groups or relative quality levels I was in for from episode to episode. Re-watching it on DVD with 5.1 English sound was a better experience in many ways. Due to the American setting and the added 1920s slang, ADV's English dub is just as good if not better than the original. It's even got Hilary Haag playing herself and Greg Ayres playing himself, what more could you want? The re-watch also came after I gained my inexplicable appreciation for GONZO; this is definitely one of their better works as far as character designs and animation are concerned.
|Chrono Trigger (OAV)||Awful||Two questions:
1) Why was this OVA made?
2) And why oh why did I decide to watch it?
I don't think question 1 has an answer, but I decided to watch CT (despite all the warnings not to) because I've been a fan of the SNES game ever since it came out in the mid-90s. A case of curiosity killed the cat -- the animation is bad compared to any other mid-90s anime, and obviously even worse compared to contemporary series. I thought I'd at least get to see some of the player-characters in action, but no, they decided to make it about monsters attending the MIllenial Fair. They even managed to ruin the image of the regal and mysterious Nu by turning one into a dunce of an oaf who plays the recognizable drinking game (with the help of some SNES controller button-mashing by his traveling companion) and proceeds to spend a fair block of time taking a leak. Oh, by the way, did you know that Gato (originally González) is strong, and if you beat him up, you'll win Silver Points? If you didn't, you certainly will after he reminds everyone of this fact, dozens of times. Seriously, it's that bad. They could've gone to icybrian.com and found fanfics with much, much better stories than this. (I recommend "Origin of Mt. Woe, "Planeswalkers," and "Chrono Continuum," btw.) The only things that spared CT from the dishonor of a "Worst Ever" rating were the neat images of the OVA leads in scenes from the game, and the music...most of which is taken straight from the game, in all its 16-bit glory. So really, I can only recommend this OVA IF you're a fan of the game, and you have a certain flavor of morbid curiosity. Otherwise stay very far away, especially if you're too young to remember the game coming out.
|Chu-Bra!! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Clannad (TV)||Very good||Yet another sublime combination of KEY game adaptation + Kyoto Animation. By now, these guys know their trade, they know their audience, and they know what works. Unfortunately, that means that some of the heartbreaking/tragic elements in Clannad lose a bit of their emotional impact for me, because I've seen similar concepts play out in the adaptations of ONE, Kanon, and AIR. So things like "mysterious girl is really spiritual projection of girl in coma, subsequently disappears" weren't so shocking, because I'd seen them before and could see them coming. But that doesn't mean that you will too, if you're not as familiar with the genre as I happen to be.
And that doesn't mean Clannad is overly stale, either. KEY/KyoAni haven't rested on the laurels of their past successes, no matter how invincible those laurels might make them. Clannad shows the results of a refinement process, correcting for shortcomings of earlier adaptations and adding new pieces to the puzzle. While this is a "based on romance game" anime, I can recommend it with few reservations to those who aren't hardcore fans of the genre, as long as they don't outright hate it. There's enough comedy for anyone, stemming from main character Tomoya' Okazaki's sarcastic, prank-prone personality, sidekick/"2nd Place" Youhei Sunohara's over-the-top over-eagerness, epic misunderstandings (of the shoujo-ai variety), brief but gorgeously animated fight sequences (complete with numerical combos!), one of the greatest "trapped in gym equipment closet" sequences I've ever seen, and of course all the quirks of the female characters.
The moe component of Clannad is not quite as "in-your-face" as it was with Air and Kanon; it's faint, but it's still there. And unlike those past adaptations, only one girl has a major supernatural backstory component. For those who thought the other adaptations suffered from discrete-arc syndrome, where girls disappeared from the story after their arcs concluded, Clannad works to keep all the characters involved on a regular basis, even while focusing on individual girls' arcs for a few episodes at a time. The downside of this is that things take on too much of a harem vibe, at least more than I'd like to see for a show whose source material is not harem in nature. As mentioned earlier, there's some but not many supernatural components, and in their place we get more real-world (melo)drama revolving around self-confidence, shyness/isolation, student life, and family/parental issues. In fact, the main theme of this "sad girls in sakura" series is billed as "family," and while not a remarkably complex theme, it works well enough from a feel-good perspective. Of course, it goes without saying that the overall package looks and sounds great, thanks to KyoAni's usual quality (especially the "fight" scenes) and KEY's character and sound design. While I couldn't see it as a superb piece of work, Clannad met my high expectations with flying colors. I've heard things get more serious/supernatural in the After Story, so bring that on as well.
|Clannad After Story (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Class Reunion (OAV)||Not really good||An unlicensed H-OVA that precedes "Class Reunion Again." At least it's supposed to be hentai, but the version I saw was censored. Dousoukai is like the anime version of "St. Elmo's Fire" or "Big Chill," in that it's about a post-high-school group of friends and the relationship intrigue between them. For what it's worth, the story is passable, with a range of cute and hot girls as eye candy. Actually, the removal of the hardcore scenes in the downloaded version makes this OVA seem more romantic and character-driven, though the real version probably feels more like a string of sexual encounters with something contrived to connect them. Not that bad, but beware Engrish subtitles, because that's probably what you'll get if you seek this one out.|
|Class Reunion Again (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Classroom of Atonement (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV)||Very good||The first I heard about Code Geass was Wolverine Princess' forum query, "Please tell me Code Geass is not supposed to be pronounced Code Gayass." It didn't grab my attention at first on the fansub circuit, mainly because my attention was diverted elsewhere to shows like Kanon, Gift Eternal Rainbow, Crescent Love, Asatte no Houkou, and what I thought would be my "I'd better watch this because everyone else is" series of the Fall 2006 season, Death Note. But after countless amounts of image macros, forum chatter, "public secret spoilers," Pizza Hut shout-outs, and one certain "Code Geass: The Ero-game" fan video (that for the life of me I can't find right now), I decided that I couldn't go too wrong with CLAMP character designs and Sunrise mecha/
To tell the absolute truth, it was the ero-game parody video displaying the lovely ladies of Geass that proved to be the tipping point of my interest in the series. Just as I liked Full Metal Panic! for its mix of military mecha and highschool hijinx, I enjoyed seeing the student and romantic lives of Lelouch and his friends comedically mixed with the more serious political/war story. That's not to say it's too serious, though. Code-G has been accused of being nationalistic, and while I can sort of see where they're coming from on that one, it came off to me as an entertainment product first and foremost. Sure, there are some parallels that can be drawn to real-world situations like the Iraq war, the Palestine situation, and American policy in general, but Code-G's real appeal comes down to the mecha fights, the remarkably-Death-Note-esque supernatural abilities, and of course the girls. Of course, with CLAMP behind the character designs, the boys lose nothing in the prettiness battle. The mecha fights get a little crazier and less believable as the series goes on, but they at least start out with plausible premise. There's plenty of great "blood-pumping" music to accompany those fights, too -- any number of tracks will let you know instantly that something awesome or at least cool-looking is about to transpire.
As ridiculous as the Power Of Geass seems, it's at least internally consistent enough to make sense in context, and the show is adept at giving us cliffhangers involving Lelouch's use of the power to get out of tough military and romantic situations. Some of his schemes are farfetched, but others are brilliant enough to make one stand up and cheer. After an intense final showdown, the end of the season brings out the biggest cliffhanger yet, and it was good enough that the wait for the second season could not have been short enough.
So in summary: [Death Note] + [Gundam Seed] + [Tsubasa Chronicle] = Code Geass, so if you like the sound of that math, dig right in.
|Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 (TV)||Good||AAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...Hahaha...ha. Apparently, the theory on CG2 is that the runaway success of the first series in a latenight timeslot prompted a move to an evening timeslot for the second season, a timeslot traditionally associated with more mainstream shounen anime like Fullmetal Alchemist and s-CRY-ed. As a result, the creators had to retool their original plot designed with latenight broadcast standards in mind to...something...else. After untangling the web woven by Season 1's cliffhanger and getting the story back on track, CGR2 continues along fine for awhile. There's some great romantic hijinx, which of course were what drew me to the Code Geass franchise in the first place. Something about a poor girl running headlong into a closed locker during a campuswide "tag-your-crush" event inspired unstoppable laughter and multiple re-wind/reviewings from me.
But somewhere in the range of eps 12-20, Things Go Wrong. No, not merely for Lelouch's situation, although he does have quite a bit to deal with, but for CGR2 as a production and as a symbol of quality storytelling in the eyes of the audience. Which is ironic, since other rumors say that some plot elements got written in because of suggestions from the 2ch image boards, i.e. at the behest of the audience. So to say the least, the middle section of CGR2 is brimming with leaps of logic, plot holes, bizarre deviations of character, random allegiance toggles, Gundam-Wing-esque nonsensical politics, and many of the standard action death (avoidance) tropes, such as No One Could Surive That, I Got Better, and Never Found The Body. It even inspired the creation of the "Code Geass R2 Inverse Laws of Lethality and Mortality," which boil down to "If you get shot with a single bullet, you're going to die. But if you get riddled with machine-gun fire or caught in a huge blast from a weapon of mass destruction, you've got a good chance of living." Not until the final showdown in the last few episodes does R2 recapture the greatness that defined the first season, but at least that final battle lives up to the fandom definition of "epic." The ending/denoument is quite satisfactory, assuming you can finalize one version of events and a character's fate in your mind.
So is R2 a bad or unenjoyable show to watch? You might think so from my description of the middle section, but nothing could be further from the truth of my experience with R2. Throughout the series, I looked forward to every episode, just to see what crazy shyte they would come up with next. After instituting a 2-drink minimum before every episode (usually consumed while watching that same week's episode of Familiar of Zero 3), CGR2 became a weekly 25-minute extravaganza of laughter, jaw-dropping amazement, and *metal fists in air* as the left-field revelations charged the pitcher's mound. Many call R2 a "trainwreck." Well to them I say, have you ever seen a trainwreck? Trainwrecks are awesome, especially if you see them firsthand. So CGR2 has all the awesomeness of a trainwreck, with none of the real-world consequences like loss of life or property damage. I may have to revise that 2-drink per-ep minimum when watching 4 or 5 eps on DVD, though.
|Colorful (TV)||Good||"Roses are red, violets are blue, this show is about panties."
Colorful is about the closest thing in anime to [adult swim] short-attention-span stoner humor. If you've ever been uncomfortable or dismayed with the amount of titillation fanservice in an average anime romantic comedy, then believe me, Colorful isn't for you. You have to enjoy ecchi for ecchi's sake to enjoy or tolerate this 16-episode anthology of short vignettes. The style of Colorful varies widely, with normal anime-type drawings one moment to semi-crude animation that seems more at home in South Park or Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The overall experience is akin to a frenetic session of channel surfing, as the vignettes skip between characters, storylines, and situations with no evident connection other than the "appreciation" of the female form and the undergarments adorning said form. At its core, Colorful is "lust externalized"; it discards the social restraints on the mental leering, drooling, and undressing that takes place in the male minds, and manifests those reactions in reality. The results are a cavalcade of raw, raunchy, and just plain wrong antics coming from the henpecked and horny male characters.
ADV's presentation of Colorful takes that moral line in the sand out back and shoots it like a rabid dog, thanks to Steven Foster's more-irreverant-than-usual English dub. That's the only audio track I've listened to at this point, but I'm assuming that the Japanese track can't exactly be tame, based on the subtitles. As if that weren't enough, the DVD extras prove why ADV's "VA Culture" is second to none -- you have to buy the DVD and see them to believe it.
|Comic Party (TV)||Good||Very entertaining, and required viewing for the hardcore Otaku--Comic Party parodies many aspects of anime/manga/doujinshi and the fandom as a whole, and Taishi is perhaps the greatest non-villain "insane megalomaniac" character ever. Be sure to get the DVDs from TRSI, as they have great packaging, extras, and explanations of the subtle visual gags of Comic Party. The comedy abates a bit around episode 9, but it's still very worth it. In retrospect, the series does have some flaws that I sort of ignored on first viewing. 1) The animation is a bit rough in places, even on more key elements like character faces. The pervasive dotcrawl doesn't help things any. 2) While CP has value as an otaku / doujinshi culture anime, it doesn't completely escape its origins as a bishoujo game. These are evident in the abundance of girls that show some kind of attraction to Kazuki, and the 13-episode length doesn't allow for enough development of each and every one of them. So if you hate dating-game anime, be warned, but if you like that genre and appreciate its female characters, then full speed ahead. Chances are you'll find a favorite among the CP girls -- mine is Chisa "I can't stop ~desu!" Tsukamoto.|
|Comic Party Revolution (OAV)||Decent||Episodes 1-4 of the combined "Comic Party Revolution" 13-episode series. Great to see all the familiar faces again, although some episodes display the dating-sim origins by focusing on Kazuki+one girl. Watch for the background Magical Girl show, "Card Master Peach" that becomes a running gag in the show.|
|Comic Party: Revolution (TV)||Decent||Episodes 5-13 of the combined "Comic Party Revolution" 13-episode series. One strength of Comic Party Revolution is that compared to the 1st series, it doesn't seem quite as much like an advertisement for the production company's product, "To Heart." CPR TV, however, has a great To Heart 2 cosplay incident that will leave you shocked and moe'd. Animation is changed and upgraded over the quality of the 1st TV series, and the plot, such as it is, continues Brother Two's attempt to conquer the doujinshi world. Other than that, we get parodies of the sports, action, and horror genres of anime, as well as more of the cute girls like Mizuki, Chisa, and the rest. Leaves things open for more, so we can hold out hope...|
|Compiler (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Compiler 2 (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Cool Devices (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Cosmos Pink Shock (OAV)||Decent||The 1980s were considered the Golden Age of OVAs, having produced some of the best examples of non-televised serial storytelling. But this age where yen apparently grew on bonsai trees also produced some of the worst OVAs of all time because nobody had to say "We don't have the budget to fund that lame idea." And then there are bizarre little one-shots that don't fit either of those categories. Cosmos Pink Shock isn't an all-time classic, but it's far from terrible. From what I've read, it's an adaptation of several parts of a story that was serialized in a magazine. The result is a disjointed, incomplete amalgamation of random events, centering around a rampaging rocket ship (and its ditzy pilot) and loosely tied together with narration that seems to mirror the audience's response of "Uhh, I'm not sure what's going on, but isn't it cool?"
If nothing else though, CPS is unquestionably 80s, down to every last frame, note of music, and character design. Historical value aside, there is a decent half-hour of entertainment to be found here. As long as you don't expect an epic storyline, the random events are amusing enough on their own, and they do build into something approaching a coherent, if utterly open-ended story. CPS wisely doesn't try to make the viewer care about too many characters, other than the protagonist and a few others. There are a few segments that introduce groups (or even whole races) of characters, but you get the feeling that CPS is saying "I'm not going to obsess over these guys too much, and neither should you." At the very very least, I didn't get annoyed with CPS while watching it roughly 6 or 7 times in the process of translating it, so I hope you all enjoy the (allegedly) witty dialogue I've put together and the oldschool 80s fun when we get around to releasing it.
|Cosplay Cafe (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Cosplay Complex (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Cowboy Bebop (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #05: see comment in Top 30|
|Cowboy Bebop: The Movie||Excellent||Set between episodes 22 and 23 of the series, the movie has just a slightly different feel than the TV episodes--the more extended, focused plot is a good story, and has good graphics, but I just can't call it a Masterpiece. Still very worth checking out for the fight scenes, the butterfly animations, and the pure fanservice chase scene as Spike returns to the city. Some elements are a bit too reminiscient of some TV episodes, like Spike's brush with death in Jupiter Jazz, and Vincent Volaju's general similarity to Vicious as a villain. The fact that "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" isn't plot-essential is a positive point; I first watched it with minimal knowledge of the series, and still found the same charm in the characters that they bring to the TV series.|
|Coyote Ragtime Show (TV)||Very good|
|Crazy Gate (OAV)||Bad||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Crest of the Stars (TV)||Very good||Crest of the Stars is only the beginning of the epic Seikai saga, but it's a solid piece of introduction, exposition, and world-building. It's somewhat old-school sci-fi, with not a lot of action--the animation is noticeably on the cheap side, even for 1999, with overuse of stills, "talking heads" scenes, stills with dialogue that suggest that characters are actually moving, and recycled/flashback sequences. But if you get past all that to focus on the dialogue, CotS is a well-written series that makes one want to go out and check out the source novels. While the space battles fall below Star Trek on the excitement scale, the story is rewarding tor those who get into it. I particularly liked the construction of the Abh race through the narrations and through Lafiel's unexpected reactions to various events. The romance between Jinto and Laffiel, while it doesn't advance much, is amusing to watch and doesn't follow anime romantic conventions. Speaking of Laffiel, her character design is pretty enough to be called a "beauty of the galaxy," especially in later episodes when she gets out of military garb and gets into civillian clothes ;)
At any rate, despite subpar animation and several shifts in tone and setting, CotS' story is satisfying enough in 13 episodes, and effectively leads into the subsequent Banner of the Stars series. And speaking of Star Trek, it's in your best interest to stay a few light-years away from the English dub -- the actors all graduated from the... William. Shatner. SchoolOf.....acting, and the script makes rediculous changes that don't need to happen at all. It's perhaps the only English dub that is somehow more awkward and unwieldy than a straight reading of the subtitle script would've been.
|Cromartie High School (TV)||Good||Surreal, random, and amusing, Cromartie High School is one of those anime where you have to accept that anything can happen and that nothing really has to connect from one episode to the next. I watched CHS almost entirely in English, and I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything--the dub voices are great, the humor is still there, and the DVDs have great explanations of cultural oddities and very obscure references. Like its accompanying manga, the artstyle is fairly distinct from most other anime out there, so if you're looking for something that "doesn't look like everything else," CHS may fit the bill. CHS probably isn't for everybody, but if you can deal with series like Azumanga Daioh, Excel Saga, and Pani Poni Dash, you might find something to like. There's absolutely no romance or cute female characters, just a bunch of delinquents and their antics. And no, the last episode doesn't count, though it does manage to provide a good closing to a type of show that doesn't lend itself to solid endings.|
|Cutie Honey (live-action movie)||Not really good||Maybe it's because I've never seen any other Cutey Honey incarnations, but this movie killed me on the inside, just a little bit. I'm sure it's no worse than the series, but seeing all these anime-isms transited to live-action recalled memories of Power Rangers, and not in a good way. The ending was a tad emotional in a "sympathy for the villain" way, I'll admit that much. Seeing this movie get licensed was definitely a surprise. Recommended for Cutey Honey fans, lovers of camp, and I'm not sure who else.|
|Cybernetics Guardian (OAV)||Weak||I guess I shouldn't expect much more from the creator of M.D. Geist, but Cybernetics Guardian is a disjointed mess. It feels like you're watching a movie on TV while occasionally skipping to other channels and missing a few parts. Only there is no channel-skipping, and those missing parts that might've made the movie coherent simply don't exist. But at least there's mecha with skulls on them, and probably some people getting ripped apart, IIRC.|
|D.C. II: Da Capo II (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|D.C. ~Da Capo~ (TV)||Very good||To my knowledge, Da Capo is the first "based on romance game" anime that had a full 26-episode run, as earlier adaptations were either 12-13 episode TV series or shorter OVAs. (Not to mention a 26-episode 2nd season, but I haven't seen that one yet.) Within the genre, it's a high-quality entry, but it's so unquestionably for the fanboys that it's not going to make any new fans of romance-game-based anime or increase the respectability of the genre. It's almost as if the adaptors didn't know what to do with the increased episode count, as the first 7-8 episodes are exceptionally short, and the middle third of the series has "side stories" at the end of every episode showing vignettes of the girls searching for and meeting some "Lord Cat" type of character. (One side story is genuinely scary, I can't deny that.) And make no mistake, DC is all about the girls and their connections to one lucky guy, Junichi Asakura in this case. So expect all the usual blushing faces and tsundere punishments of Junichi's transgressions, because early on, the situations in DC are as typical as they come: school activities, beach/hotsprings trips, etc. The girls are different from each other, but still mostly fall under dating-game archetypes. You've got Nemu, the conveniently-not-related-by-blood younger twin sister, the cousin/childhood friend Sakura (who also uses a "Big Brother" appellation for Junichi), the robot girl, a catgirl maid, a "popular lonely" girl, and assorted other classmates.
So DC spends the first 14 episodes with Junichi hanging around with this assortment of girls doing all the usual things and establishing the show's main love triangle. And there are some amusing moments, particularly the symbolism of a wind-up key. Also of note is the episode he spends "playing boyfriend" with one of the secondary girls to ward off her female admirer. But after episode 15 recaps the series, things suddenly turn darker and consequently, better. And this is where the apparently "random" structure pays off; the time Junichi spends with the various girls allows DC the anime to show one of the game's endings or at least some kind of resolution with the girls, leading to several touching moments and episodes. Of course, this is all helped along by the supernatural elements, like Junichi's ability to see others' dreams and the magical, never-withering cherry trees. Although it falters a bit in the early going, DC stays strong to the end.
And a mini-editorial on these kinds of anime: Too often game-based anime like Kanon, Da Capo, and Shuffle get downgraded as "harems" like Tenchi, Love Hina, Ai yori Aoshi, and Girls Bravo, just because it's "one guy with a bunch of girls." But I think romance-game based anime need to be evaluated in the context of their source material. In these games, you choose to woo one girl, generally forsaking all others; most aren't "score with a bunch of girls" harems. So just as other series are expected to stay true to their manga/novel source, romance game anime include a bunch of girls in order to please fans of the game by showing at least some of many of the girls, since there are always game players who liked that one side girl instead of the "true ending" girl. So while DC and similar anime may seem to suffer from female character overload, keep in mind that it's all about being faithful to the source.
|D.C.II S.S. ~Da Capo II Second Season~ (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|D.C.S.S. ~Da Capo Second Season~ (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|D.N.Angel (TV)||Good||Cute, funny, and romantic--for some reason, I found myself rooting for Dark to deceive the law and steal stuff, because it was such fun watching him do it. Critics of DN Angel are right in saying that it's "for the fangirls," as Dark represents the mysterious/bad-ass type character, and Daisuke is the perfect "nice guy/good friend" guy, and there certainly are a few shounen-ai overtones. Still, as a guy, the internal conflict/co-operation between Daisuke and Dark is interesting to see. After awhile, the romance and comedy pick up (especially with Mio's odd brand of Japanese), heading into the somewhat misplaced final two arcs. There's definitely a feeling of "we had more manga and we needed to fit in what we could," but DN Angel's ending still provides enough closure for the anime's events.|
|Dai Mahou Touge Omake (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Dai-Guard (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Daichis - Earth Defence Family (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Daicon films (special)||Good||No plot, no meaning, no character development, no coherency, no respect for international copyrights or character trademarks. And yet these sci-fi convention openers truly embody the essence of "anime." Or at least everything that represents the type of "anime by otaku, for otaku" made since the mid-1980s. It's simply a dazzling, dizzying succession of random images and sequences, while ELO's "Twilight" (--I think, I don't have access to the videos as I write this--) plays over it all. I wasn't around for the VHS-era of fandom, but I imagine this would bring a smile to the face and a tear to the eye of any oldschool fan.|
|Dance in the Vampire Bund (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Dark Love (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Darker than Black (TV)||Good|
|Dead Heat (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|DearS (TV)||Good||Question: Are you - a) a female (b) a mature, well-adjusted male accustomed to normal adult romantic relationships, or (c) a sexually frustrated fanboy? If you answered A or B, I'd recommend not watching DearS, but if you're leaning towards C, dive right in and enjoy this amusing dose of wish-fulfillment. Though not quite at the level of the manga, the girls are very pretty, and while there is a slightly disturbing slave theme and BDSM costuming, it's not as bad as the OP, "I'm your Slave" suggests. Although the story feels like it's been done before (probably because of this anime), there are many genuinely funny moments, thanks to good comedic timing and use of double takes, particularly in one scene where Takeya casually converses with Ren in the bath with a delayed reaction to her presence. Despite the pretty art, the characters' personalities aren't that distinctive--Takeya is the typical anime lead male who freaks out at real-life nudity, though at least he has a healthy porn habit. Neneko is Childhood Friend Ver. 3.23, and her Daria-esque voice in the English dub is spot on. And why must all these characters be tragic orphans or have parents that conveniently work overseas, anyway? The ending's a bit open, but there's still plenty to like along the way, including episode 5...though the critics laughed at it, that was one of the few "intended to be sexy" scenes in ecchi anime that actually struck me as such. I guess the critics answered A or B. At any rate, this anime compelled me to go out and buy the manga after 6 or 7 episodes, so it's done its job.|
|Death Note (TV)||Very good||Having never read any of the manga before seeing the Death Note anime, the main question on my mind was "Will it live up to the hype?" In some ways it did, and in others, it didn't. DN was effective at presenting a dark fantasy that was simultaneously childish and complex (infantile revenge "ultimate power" theme combined with tough ethical questions of good, evil, and the ethics surrounding the usage of such powers), and Madhouse was up to the task of making the animation detailed, lifelike, and much more "Japanese" in character design compared to the average anime. The music was also key in setting the mood for grandiose scenes of elimination and more subtle "cat and mouse" moments between Light and his rivals. Speaking of music, I have to say I absolutely hated the Nü Metâl OP/ED for the second half of the series -- the first themes were eminently listenable, but the second themes were highly skippable.
And this "sectioning" issue is one of my problems with Death Note; the first third was very impressive, the middle third was good but not excellent, and while the final third did a good job bringing things to a conclusion, it lost a lot of steam and just didn't have me enthusiastic about sitting down and watching the episodes. Part of that is the introduction of too many new characters in the last of three "acts" (something that traditional drama would never do) and the elimination or marginalization of interesting characters from the earlier parts of the series. The Shingami(s), for example, are almost non-existant in the final third until the very end, when they were such an integral part of things early on. Maybe the characters introduced in the last act had more background in the manga that I should've known about, but I mainly found them to be distracting interest-killers.
While the ending has an appropriate buildup and resolution, I couldn't help but think that Light had de-evolved as a character and made mistakes in the 30s episodes that he never would've made in the first ten episodes. Maybe that's the point, and maybe I missed it, but because of these issues, DN wound up being a pretty good show, but nothing earth-shattering or amazing to me.
|Debutante Detective Corps (OAV)||Weak||There are good one-shot OVAs, and then there's stuff like Debutante Detective Corps. Basically, this is a bit of extended fanservice for fans of the Graduation game and 2-episode OVA that were popular (in Japan) in the mid 1990s. DDC is an excuse for the girls of Graduation to play out an alternate-world scenario involving kidnapping conspiracies, special attacks, and a whole lot of random ass-kicking and wanton destruction that only 90s anime can provide. While all this may sound cool on paper or on html, it's not. To be fair, I did watch DDC before I had a chance to watch the Graduation OVA, so maybe I would've enjoyed it more if I'd been familiar with the characters. Watching DDC without that prior exposure is like being on the outside looking in on an in-joke that you just don't get. And like I said, the kidnapping/conspiracy elements may seem cool, but by the time the OVA's over, you'll wish that the mysteries hadn't been resolved, because all they leave behind is that empty "what did I just watch?" feeling in their wake.|
|Demon King Daimao (TV)||Weak|
|Denpa teki na Kanojo (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Desert Punk (TV)||Very good||Score one for Funimation on this one -- this is one of the best and funniest English dubs ever created. It's good enough that it seriously improves the show, yet from the few scenes I sampled with the subtitles on, it doesn't change a whole lot of the content. It mainly improves on the original lines to make them more natural and significantly more perverted than the Japanese script. The mouth-covering desert gear is also a godsend, as it allows the addition, subtraction, and transformation of lines without worrying about mouth flaps. It may be strange to talk about the English dub before all other elements of a series, but for me, Funi's dub seriously made Desert Punk worth watching. Actually, it's a reasonably good post-apocalyptic desert action series featuring the rougher side of Gonzo's visual style. Kanta is one of the most deliberately unlikable main characters around, but that makes his (mis)adventures more compelling; as you partly want to see him get away with his acts, while also hoping that he gets what he deserves. Throughout DP, Kanta manages to defy viewer expectations in his journey as a true anti-hero. There is a bit of a plot going on in the background, but for the most part, it's about watching Kanta chase money and boobs, and seeing Kosuna as his younger, sensible apprentice. The conclusion isn't the most satisfying ever, but again, Funi's dubbing makes getting there more enjoyable. Especially the OP/ED songs, all four of them.|
|Destiny of the Shrine Maiden (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Detatoko Princess (OAV)||So-so||The very poor man's Slayers, except much much shorter. 3 episodes isn't enough time to let anything develop, so we're left a bunch of annoying pudding obsession jokes. Offhand, I don't remember anything else of note.|
|Devil Hunter Yohko (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Di Gi Charat (TV)||Decent||A key part of anime history, gema, given how many times it's referenced in other series, nyo. Di Gi Charat is cute, weird, and "lowest common denominator" at the same time, nyo. Most of the animation quality goes into the chibi girls, nyu, with the rest being minimalist figures, nyo The 16 episodes will run by in a flash, gema, so if any one part is annoying, nyo, take comfort that it won't last long, nyu. Did I mention that Di Gi Charat is one of the most (in)famous examples of characters adding nonsense syllables to their sentences in order to sound cute? ¿Nyo, nyo?|
|Di Gi Charat - A Trip to the Planet (movie)||Decent||One of the most plot-rich portions of the Di Gi Charat franchise, by which I mean it has a discernible plot. And not a bad one, by DGC standards anyway. It's a rather tender look into Dejiko's past and family life on Planet Digi Charat, as well as some sympathetic insight into the normally evil Piyoko. Some of the usual insanity is involved, but if that didn't stop you from watching the TV series or other related specials, it shouldn't stop you from watching this movie.|
|Di Gi Charat Christmas Special||Not really good||Another little DGC one-shot special that probably wasn't worth the time I spent on it. But I watched it anyway because I'm a completionist masochist, and was treated to a Christmas adventure on a cruise ship where Dejiko and the gang try to celebrate in their own way, and Piyoko (in one of her more sympathetic moments) yearns for presents and familial warmth as well. But of course any hopes for poignancy are dashed by the usual cavalcade of fart jokes, Eye Beams, Mouth Bazookas, and I think there were some monster vines/tentacles thrown in there too.|
|Di Gi Charat Natsuyasumi Special||Weak||Another aimless set of Digi Charat escapades, this time involving the typical anime "America Adventure" and annoying foreign otaku speaking badly accented Japanese. Then there's a lame battle of the bands and other typical summer fare like ghost stories that we've all seen a thousand times. Actually, while skimming through the episodes to write this comment, they didn't seem that bad. But maybe that's because I spent too much time looking at the pretty stills in the OP/ED. I'm still going to stand by my original rating that was based on trudging through the complete episodes.|
|Di Gi Charat Ohanami Special||Decent||Episode 2 of this special is perhaps my favorite part of the Di Gi Charat franchise so far. It's relatively light on the gross-out/sadistic comedy that permeates the TV series, and instead simply has the gang getting together for some flower-viewing, highlighted by a heartwarming feelgood background song. A nice change of pace the usual discordant chaos. The first episode is a fairly typical Dejiko vs. Piyoko scuffle, but eps 3-4 continue the sweeter, laidback tone of the 2nd by focusing on sidestories Puchiko and Rabi~en~Rose respectively.|
|Di Gi Charat Summer Special||So-so||I couldn't quite remember what happened in this special and what happened in the Summer Break Special, but a couple minutes of quick scanning eventually cleared that up. This Summer Special is essentially a 2-note affair: one of those notes being "It's so hot, what do we do?" complaints, and the second being side characters like Abarenbou and some Gamers customer that quickly wear out their screentime and tolerance welcome. We do see the introduction of Pyocola "Piyoko" Analogue in the first ep (I was a little confused upon watching Leave it to Piyoko! awhile ago), and for better or worse, the Summer Special does continue with the original premise of DGC as advertisements for Gamers. Still, they were 10 minute episodes that had me checking the remaining runtime quite a bit.|
|Di Gi Charat: Winter Garden (special)||So-so||If you're an old-school console gamer like me, then you're probably familiar with the history of Super Mario Brothers 2, the game with the vegetables, potions, and that blasted key guardian, Phanto. Back in 1987, Nintendo didn't want to release the game created as SMB2 in Japan in the US, likely because it was essentially a sadistic ROM-hack of SMB1. (Of course, it eventually got an SNES remake in Super Mario All-Stars, and I still curse invisible blocks to this day.) So they took a completely unrelated game called Doki Doki Panic, changed the generic Arabian Nights characters into Mario characters, and sold it as SMB2 in North America. You may be wondering, "what does any of this have to do with Winter Garden (special)?"
Well, WG takes a page from the old Nintendo playbook by taking an unknown generic love-drama 2-episode special, replacing the original characters with Di Gi Charat characters, and marketing it as a Di Gi Charat anime. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but the result is that the events of WG have no relation to anything from any other DGC anime. Similarly, the characters have nothing to do with their characterization in the DGC anime, although the "all grown up" look isn't bad. There's none of the annoying antics or gross-out humor that I've complained about in the rest of the DGC franchise. But then again, it was those things that gave DGC its identity. Strip them away, and you get a disjointed sequel at best, and a crass cash-in attempt at the worst.
|Diamond Daydreams (TV)||Very good||If you want something that's a change of pace and setting from normal anime, Diamond Daydreams is a great choice. In the tradition of other "anthology" series like Sentimental Journey and Seraphim Call, DD has an episodic structure, with roughly 2 episodes per story. Decent character artwork, pretty backgrounds, and plots that, while a bit melodramatic sometimes, still differ enough from standard shounen and shoujo romance to be interesting. The background music is also noteworthy, using a mix of modern and traditional instruments to set a relaxing mood. I found that it enhanced the "wintery" feeling of the series, even though I watched it as the DVDs came out in February-June. The closer fits the show's mood much better, though I still liked the cute and bouncy opener.
My favorites are the Atsuko, Karin, and Akari stories, although they all manage to tell compact stories and tie in the "Diamond Dust" myth effectively. Voiceacting is good enough to make it watchable in either language, although some of ADV's name pronunciation errors irk my purist sensibilities. Overall, I'd recommend DD to anyone who doesn't mind a bit of drama & romance. Some may find it a bit boring, but that's okay; even I had trouble staying awake in a few spots.
|(The) Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (movie)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Divergence Eve (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|DNA Hunter (OAV)||Bad||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|DNA² (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|DNA² (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Dojin Work (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Doki Doki School Hours (TV)||So-so||Doki Doki School Hours is a good-natured, light-hearted show that's hard to hate, but at the same time, it's one of the most consistently unfunny comedies and one of the most un-marathonable series I've seen in a long time. The comparisons to school slice-of-life comedy Azumanga Daioh are inevitable, although the manga source predates Azumanga's by a few years. DDSH is much more "manga-esque" in appearance, with onscreen text all over the place for character reactions, place/time settings, and situational commentaries. However, whatever artistic charm the manga may have had, the anime drains most of it away. Almost everyone's eyes are the same color, hair is rough and simplified, and most of the "action" relies more on text and dialogue than actual animation. The "loli teacher" (who is actually my age as of this writing) isn't a bad idea, and it's a change of pace from the recent spate of "kid genius" teachers. Mika Suzuki's class is full of quirky characters, so there's plenty of potential for comic interactions...so what went wrong? Why is DDSH so relentlessly unfunny most of the time? I believe it came down to a simple math error. Somewhere in the writing process (which theoretically doesn't involve math at all, but this is the only explanation that makes any sense), somebody got a fraction reversed. Instead of having 20 jokes per episode, DDSH has 1 joke in 20 episodes. That 1 joke is "These characters have these personalities, and they will react like this in these situations." You can easily create a drinking game out of predicting who will pop up and say what at what times. The basic framework is built around the standard school events and holidays, so expect episodes centered on Golden Week, summer vacation, the end of summer vacation, sports day, culture-fest, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, White Day (I think) and any that I might have left out. In short, everything you've seen a dozen times before in a dozen other school shows. Maybe newer fans will appreciate it more, but I can't imagine newer fans being attracted to something like this.
I will say though, that things improve in the "Gold" OVA episodes 14-20, when they dispense with the normal flow of time and start doing massive shifts in genre and frames of reality. So we get a family drama, a film-noir/"Untouchables" episode, postapocalyptic warfare, and more. Those helped DDSH avoid slipping further down in my ratings. Even before the genre/parody shifts, DDSH was a very episodic series, and its repetitive content contributes to its "un-marathonable" status. There's just no compelling reason to go on to any given episode after watching the previous. Heck, most of the time it had me thinking, "Okay, I'll skip the song, then it's only 10 minutes to the eyecatch, then another 10 minutes to the ED, then I can stop the episode and switch to something else." Many episodic anime lack good endings, and I'll give DDSH credit for an attempt at conclusiveness. however, upon seeing the title of episode 20, "The Small One Leaves Okitsu," I was able to predict [b]exactly[/b] what the crisis would be [b]and[/b] the nature of its ultimate resolution. I won't say "FAIL," more like "Did Not Succeed." Other school comedies are much better than this; the aforementioned Azumanga Daioh does the cute/school/slice-of-life routine far better, with characters that [i]aren't[/i] one-note player pianos. While DDSH's genre shifts are admirable, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei outclasses it by a long shot. By the way, for the dub fans out there, it's an Ocean/Bluewater dub, and I often find those hard to like. It seems like the best they can do is "passable, for open minds" like the "My" series, or "just as awesomely cheesy as the show demands," like G Gundam. I sampled a later episode of the English track, like 17 or 18, just to allow enough time for the actors to have gotten into their characters. They hadn't. For whatever flaws the Japanese track had, at least there was some enthusiasm present.
|Domain of Murder (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Don't Leave Me Alone, Daisy (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Dragon Crisis! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Dragon Half (OAV)||Excellent||An extremely zany early-90s OVA from ADV's back catalogue. If you can appreciate absolutely absurd medieval mayhem with heaps of fanservice, Dragon Half is great for a quick laugh. There isn't any real story or plot to speak of, just characters wailing on each other with swords, magic, firebreath, classic anime mallets, and anything else you can think of. Of special note is the English dub -- it's one of ADV's best comic gems, right up there with Generator Gawl and Ghost Stories. I loved the 90s self-referentialism, too...if you're a character in episode 2 and you need to remember what happened earlier, what do you do? Why, bring out the VHS tape of OVA 1 and search through it, of course!|
|Dream Eater Merry (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Dream Hazard (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventures Special||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Duchess of Busty Mounds (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|E's Otherwise (TV)||So-so||I probably would've listened to reviews and advice that told me to stay away from E's Otherwise, if not for one factor: English dub director Steven Foster + scriptwriter Kathleen Moynihan. That combination always makes for an entertaining English dub, and E's Otherwise is no exception. The dub dialogue was consistently funnier and snappier that what I followed in the subtitle script, and had some of Moynihan's amusing standard Hollywood references like "dodge this!". And it certainly helps to have lots of ADV regulars like Chris Patton, Greg Ayres, Hilary Haag, Monica Rial, Kira Vincent-Davis, and Christine Auten on hand. While E's Otherwise plays like a generic shounen anime crossed with s-CRY-ed and X-Men, it's not without its good points. There's lots of bold, colorful character designs that are never hard to tell apart. Asuka Tokugawa is one of the most moe female characters I've ever seen. She doesn't lose anything in comparison to any KEY girl or other moe favorites. She's mind-blowingly endearing in every scene she's in, and definitely helped hold my interest in the series. That kind of puts a hole in Tyrenol's lauding of E'sO as a series from the good ol' days before moe took over. Endings... well, the musical ED is an extremely catchy rock song with memorable guitar riffs. The actual series' ending... well, it's inconclusive, but at least it's not as bad as I thought it would be. That's not saying much, but it is saying something.|
|Early Reins (OAV)||Decent||Not the most realistic Western, but it's not like Westerns in general are known for their realism. It's mainly the guns and gunplay that get ridiculous, with the standard "gunslinger bad guys can't hit the broad side of a train, but untrained heroes hit the mark every time" rules in effect. You could say that it strains credulity to have a bunch of 19th century American women able to effectively use firearms, but "hot chicks carry guns and shoot stuff" is par for the course when it comes to anime. There's certainly not much of a plot to speak of, but Early Reins is reasonably entertaining enough to make 45 minutes go by. Oh, and you might think that the English dub is the better choice due to the setting, but you'd be wrong -- it's done by the folks at Arvintel, the studio responsible for such nadirs of dubbing like Green Green and Bible Black.|
|Eden of the East (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Eden's Bowy (TV)||So-so||One of the most spectacularly inconsistent series I've ever seen. Eden's Bowy presents a fascinating world of blended science fiction and medieval fantasy, and its floating cities are a good enough hook to intrigue anyone. However, its execution is wildly uneven. Some episodes are logical, well-paced, and emotionally resonant. Others... aren't. Some are too boring to easily stay awake through, and others see the characters go against previous development and common sense. So the rating represents an average of the two extremes, not a "the whole show is like this" value. When it's good, Eden's Bowy is great, but when it's not, you might find yourself in wtf-headscratch-land.
Hailing from the spring of 1999, EB looks more dated than some of its contemporaries like Dual! and Arc the Lad. But if you're looking for something a little more old school, it'll be up your alley. Also noteworthy is the English dub by ADV's Monster Island studio. Like many MI dubs, the acting is all over the map, but the writing is good enough to make the dialogue more entertaining. I especially like/remember a line from some incompetent minor villains, "Luckily, these hostages pointed us in the direction we needed to go." Finally, the ending is not what I'd call neat, clean, and conclusive. Still, it's got large-scale grandiose action, coupled with some truly disturbing imagery. Overall, I found Eden's Bowy worth the journey, but was it ever a bumpy ride.
|ef: a tale of melodies (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|ef: a tale of memories (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Eien no Aseria (OAV)||Bad||*comment pending*|
|Eiken (OAV)||Good||Many dismiss this series into "Worst Ever" or similarly bad ranking because of the outrageous breast sizes on its female characters and the rediculously ecchi antics involved, but I found Eiken to be a wildly funny send-up of all the trappings of ecchi and hentai anime. Part of that is because of the circumstances -- we started watching it at an Anime Club marathon, but 3 minutes into it the club officers put the kibosh on it. So we had an afterparty with about 20 people in various stages of intoxication crammed into my basement watching the two episodes and laughing our asses off at how totally wrong and inappropriate the situations were. And trust me, there's plenty to remind you of hentai if you've seen a fair amount of it. And the parody is well-done too; you've got the standard "leading lady," the little sister, the alluring older woman, the clumsy "I'll do my best, DESU" girl, and all the other stereotypes we know and love. There's no significant story, no real ending (though there is a substantial amount of manga), but it doesn't really matter. If the ecchi levels of series like Girls Bravo, Love Hina or Mahoromatic are too high, for you, then Eiken is waaay over the top, so be warned. But it's definitely better to watch with friends and booze involved than to watch alone. Or failing that, at least have booze on hand.|
|El Cazador de la Bruja (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|El Hazard - The Magnificent World (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|El Hazard 2 - The Magnificent World (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|El Hazard: The Alternative World (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|El-Hazard: The Wanderers (TV)||Not really good|
|Elemental Gelade (TV)||So-so||Irritatingly average, Elemental Gelade is one of those series whose enjoyment level decreases in direct proportion to the viewers previous experience with anime. It's fine for new fans, with its plucky headstrong shounen hero and fantasy fighting action. On the other hand, veteran fans will be too busy noticing animation flaws and "elements" ripped off from other series. Like the "girl in a box" from Outlaw Star and countless other series, the main character's similarity to Fullmetal Alchemist Edward Elrich, the materialization fighting from s-CRY-ed and My-Hime, the "fighters = tools, or do they?" question from Naruto and the bland "I'm gonna get stronger and protect this girl who's actually much more powerful than me" heroism from too many shounen anime to count. The best moments of EG involve side or oneshot characters, like an Edel Raid who realizes that her scale of time is far different from her former human master's. Unfortunately, these good moments are few and far between, cancelled out by moments of sheer scripted stupidity. Chief in my mind is a town that Kou and Ren go to where every building is built with a "keystone" at the peak of the roof. These keystones, if destroyed, will cause the building to collapse. Of course, our hero has to destroy one of these keystones to thwart some minor villains' designs on the village. But let's back up a second. They intentionally build structures that will collapse if one stone is smashed? What The Hell?? Somebody just failed architecture forever, and not one character in EG is smart enough to realize this.
Thinking back, I feel it's shows like EG that contributed to Geneon USA's troubles. IIRC it wasn't heavily downloaded at the fansub level, but those who did see it knew it was mediocre, derivative, and not worth watching again. And then those people spread their opinions in blogs and fan reviews to the point where people who didn't watch the fansubs decided that it wasn't even worth watching once. I do have to give credit to Ocean Group's dub for making the most out of the source material, though. "What was the deal with those ninjas on the pirate ship?", indeed.
|Elf ban Kakyūsei (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Elf Princess Rane (OAV)||So-so||A classic insane/fanservicey comedy; it's only 2 episodes, so it doesn't develop into a Rune Soldier-ish fantasy adventure, but there are enough laughs and pratfalls to provide entertainment for awhile. Since it is only 2 episodes, I'd say that you may as well watch it, but at the same time, I'd also say that you may as well not watch it.|
|Elfen Lied (TV)||Excellent||Top 30 #18: see comment in Top 30|
|Elfen Lied (OAV)||Decent||An episode set between episodes ten and eleven of the TV series, this OVA is a bit silly, but gives some important information about the past lives of some of the characters, mainly how Lucy came to be held in the facility in the first place. The silliness mainly comes from some scenes with Nana, Yuuka, and Mayu, which help develop Nana's acclimation to living at Hinata Apartments ~I mean, Kamakura Inn or whatever. Since it wasn't released by ADV with the series, it's not extremely hard to find online if you go searching for it.|
|Emma: A Victorian Romance (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Escaflowne: The Movie||So-so||I saw this before seeing the series, and thought it was fairly good, but then I found out that various characters had been drastically changed, and, well, the villain and entire plot had been altered to fit a movie runtime. Still, there's worse out there, and if you want to see a parody dub of this movie, check out http://escadub.uncreativity.com (fandub still in production, distro TBA)|
|Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (movie)||Very good||Imagine the first seven episodes or so of Neon Genesis: Evangelion. You have seen them, right? Because you know that if you haven't,
If you never cared for NGE, Eva 1.0 probably won't change your mind. If you only casually liked NGE, Eva 1.0 might not offer anything new and amazing for you, beyond the eye candy. But if you're a fan of the franchise, you'll get enough out of the movie to make it worth your while. And finally, if you haven't seen NGE at all, Eva 1.0 is a reasonable introduction, especially if you prefer more modern productions. Also know that if you fall into that last group, I'm jealous of you. Not because you've got the experience of one of anime's marquee entries ahead of you, but because of the catgirls.
|Excel Saga (TV)||Excellent||Top 30 #28: see comment in Top 30|
|Fafner (TV)||Masterpiece||*comment pending* Quick note: The top 20 is badly out of date -- I put it together at the beginning of 2006, and obviously I've seen a lot of anime since then. This series dethroned Scrapped Princess as my favorite series back in December 2007.|
|(The) Familiar of Zero (TV)||Very good||I'd stayed away from this one for awhile because it seemed like a cheap Harry Potter rip-off, only with more girls and fanservice. But after seeing Shakugan no Shana and Hayate the Combat Butler! and falling in love with Rie Kugimiya's tsundere girl performances, moving on to Familiar of Zero was the inevitable logical step. Most of these "ordinary Japanese teen gets whisked away to fantasy adventure world" anime have female main characters, but FoZ scores distinction points for having a male protagonists. And not just the standard male protagonist you'd find in typical harem anime, either. No, after Saito Hiraga finds himself summoned to a magical alternate world to be the familiar of a pink-haired flat-chested tsundere named Louise, he makes the most of the situation, and takes active interest in some of the other girls at the school. To a great extent, he deserves the sadistic punishments handed down by his mistress. This is not "guy accidentally stumbles into girl and gets his ass dragon-kicked across the Milky Way" territory.
JC Staff has created a colorful and appealing fantasy world here. And of course, it's not hard to guess that most of this "appeal" lies in the female characters. These characters benefit from an all-star voice cast. Mainly Rie Kugimiya and Satoshi Hino reprising their equivalent Shana roles, but also Yui Horie as *incomplete*
|(The) Familiar of Zero F (TV)||Very good|
|Fantastic Children (TV)||Masterpiece||Honestly, I'd have to watch Fantastic Children a second time to do a complete analysis out, but I felt I had to get the word out on this lesser-known series. To put it concisely, it's fantastic. I'd put it right up there with Last Exile, Scrapped Princess, and Wolf's Rain as a series that captures the elusive "epic adventure" feeling. and FC is admirable in its execution. Beautiful backgrounds that make you think you're looking at a painting, varied character designs that show the right emotions at the right times, sufficiently fluid action scenes in both hand-to-hand combat and sci-fi technological combat, a strong piano-driven score that sets all the right moods...you can tell that a lot of work and planning went into making this series.
The story involves the "Children of Béfort" who repeatedly reincarnate throughout history in an effort to fulfill their mission. FC builds up layers and layers of mystery as some characters investigate the past, others try to make sense of the present, and others seek to forge the future. What's impressive about FC is that once this mission is fulfilled, the story turns to a second arc that shifts away from the primary characters for several episodes, yet still retains interest and relevance on the part of the viewer. (On the part of this viewer, anyway.) The end is filled with emotional moments and revelations that make sense of previous information without feeling like a last-minute "exposition dump."
If I had to cite flaws, one would be that some of the Children of Béfort weren't differentiated enough, to the point where I was mixing up names even late in the series. (And where'd the name "Béfort" come from, anyway? Maybe I just wasn't paying attention.) Some lines and scenes get a bit repetitive, but when the final episode and the DVD-extra special ending came to a close, I felt I'd gotten a solid show and more than my money's worth, and the FC DVDs were rediculously cheap even upon initial release. Don't let the "childish" title or the retro big-nosed character designs scare you away -- FC is definitely worth it, especially when the inevitable Anime Legends collection comes out. Word of caution: the ANN reviews warn that the English dub is beyond awful, and I didn't check to verify this. I recommend following their advice and pretending that the dub doesn't exist.
|Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture||So-so||I've wound up watching this movie at least twice, maybe three times, at Anime Club and related after-parties. Since I never played the Fatal Fury video games, I didn't feel much of a connection to the characters or their situations. But there are some decent fights, hot babes, and an appropriately cartoony final battle to cap things off. Plus, the English dub (the only version I've seen) is entertaining in a "so cheesy it's funny" way.|
|Fate/stay night (TV)||Good||Fate/Stay Night was a real mixed bag for me; some parts were impressive, and others were just plain disappointing. Part of the problem probably stems from the massive amount of story in a multi-game saga that got adapted into a 24-episode. Some characters with lots of potential get offed before they can truly shine, and other characters get their screentime awkwardly extended by assuming roles incongruent with their former selves. And the biggest character problem is Shirou Emiya, one of the most bull-head, chauvanistic lead males in recent anime. It's admirable that he's so altruistic and well-meaning, but his "No, don't fight, Saber! I can do it!" attitude leads to multiple repetitions of [Emiya takes on disparately powerful foe and gets beaten within an inch of his life] -> [Saber rushes in to save him, at the cost of her dwindling mana] -> [somehow Emiya magically recovers, only to repeat the same mistake two episodes later]. Sure, those abilities get explained in the end, but by the time Emiya utters his meme-orable line, "People die if you kill them," the first thing in the viewers' mind is "O RLY?"
As an action anime, F/SN is not a bad outing; you get occasional shortcuts in fight scenes, but most of the action is technically solid. Music is decent too, especially the occasional shifts in the OP/ED to fit the emotional line of individual episodes.The only problem with the action comes in the ever-shifting parameters of the Holy Grail War -- at times, you'll see a resemblance to playground wargames, as in "Bang! I killed you!" / "No you didn't, I still had 4 extra lives!" And the Holy Grail element with historical figures seems, interesting, but I suspect it's one of those Japanese "let's be cool by throwing all this foreign cultural stuff in!" things.
What I liked best about F/SN was the character segments between the fights. Some of it strays into harem territory and belies the series' origin as a romance/action visual novel, but I especially liked Saber and her transformation as she dealt with modern customs/clothing and her relationship with Emiya. Although the ending doesn't conclude the greater story, it's still reasonably satisfying. Overall, F/SN was an okay show that didn't waste my time, but it's no Unlimited Anime Works either.
|Figure 17 (TV)||Excellent||If you've ever thought, "Gee, anime is too full of guns, explosions, robots, and perverted loli/fanservicey trash," then make haste to the nearest online retailer and get Figure 17. While there is a sci-fi/action hook, the real focus is the slice-of-life tale of a shy girl trying to make friends, fit in, and deal with the loss of certain people close to her. One unique aspect is the 45-minute episode length, which makes F17 effectively a 26 episode series and allows for a slow, reflective pace that lets viewers better understand and empathize with the characters. Animation for the monthly-aired episodes has some share of stills (appropriate for character & dialogue-driven anime), but nears OVA quality, and fight scenes take no shortcuts. If you just want action though, look elsewhere. As another added benefit, F17 is not loli at all, unless you count some brief scenes during the theme song. Overall, Figure 17 can be a great experience, as long as you don't mind a slower pace, and I sure don't.|
|Final Approach (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (movie)||Good||Good, but not exactly the best ever. . .lots of great eye candy and fanservice for the hardcore FF7 fans, but it might not have as much appeal to those outside this group. To quote a hilarious "fakesub" file for FF7-AC: Denzel: Will this explain anything? Marlene: No, because they spent all the budget on graphics and got the script from fanfiction.net. Even so, the animation is a site to behold throughout, and seeing the post-game world is a treat. Great use of FF7 music, especially my favorite track, "Jenova."|
|Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals (OAV)||Not really good||Oh, my, I saw this on VHS years ago, like 2000 or something. Nice little story, if a bit short, but I don't remember it as being all that good.|
|Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (US CG movie)||Decent||For what it is, it's not a bad movie--a very nice construction of realistic CGI, even if it wasn't perfect. Movies and anime adaptations of Final Fantasy will never live up to fans' expectations from the games in terms of story, but TSW presents a nice story of defending the earth from evil and a "collect X# of special/magical objects. Decent voice acting from mainstream movie stars, and some fast-paced action scenes make FF TSW an enjoyable experience, even if it wasn't quite what everyone expected.|
|Final Fantasy: Unlimited (TV)||So-so||This one is not as bad as it seems. True, it's childish, and doesn't live up to the legend of the games, but there is a lot of imagination in the character designs, backgrounds, and even the sometimes awkward CGI. And not that I'm racist, but you can definitely notice the lower-quality Korean-outsourced animation in many scenes. The cancellation of the second half hampered the plot, but there's still time for a few storytelling gems. Half the time, you'll be torn between the opinions of, "What were they thinking?" and "Why didn't I think of that?" Although FFU is not completely bad, I still can't say it's particularly good. There are a lot of childish hijinx, and the recycled attack sequences with the rediculous, "____, Color of [some abstract emotion or concept]" can get old pretty quickly. Many episodes are relatively aimless "Group winds up in new Wonderland section, trouble shows up from The Earl or local dangers, Kaze arrives to fire his Magun and save the day, roll credits" stories. The Japanese VAing didn't hold anything outstanding, as they can only do so much with a script of this level. The English dub isn't one of ADV's better efforts--annoying voices for the leading roles of Ai and Yuu (such creative names!), average to mediocre for other roles, and some embarrassingly awkward adaptation choices, such as one of the villains saying things like "I want to see that Magun-baby for myself" where "Magun" had -chan attached in Japanese. It worked for "Bimmo-baby" in Golden Boy, but it doesn't work here. To sum things up, don't watch Final Fantasy: Unlimited because you're a Final Fantasy fan -- watch it because the thinpack or singles are cheap, and some of its elements happen to look intriguing to you. I liked the ending, and liked a few episodes along the way, but I can't say it was good overall, though I've seen worse.|
|First Kiss Story (OAV)||Not really good||One of the few anime whose title tells you pretty much what you're going to get. The distinctive parts about First Kiss Story are that it has a female lead and focuses on a long-distance relationship. The indistinctive parts are... just about everything else, FKS doesn't really do much else to differentiate itself from all the other romance OVAs out there. Since I've seen a lot of the romance OVAs out there, I had to skip back through the episode just to recall what the characters and the story were all about.|
|Five Card (OAV)||Not really good|
|(The) Five Star Stories (movie)||Decent||"History had begun to move. That was also the beginning of a sad destiny that would soon lead all of the four solar systems into war. Lachesis...Clotho... and Atropos... Around these three goddesses who possess terrible power, revolved a legend that was now unfolding." Sounds like a great introduction to an epic series about a fantastical interstellar war. Man, we're in for some large-scale battles, rich characterization, and an intricately crafted cosmology, right?
Sure, it sounds impressive, except... these introductory lines are the last lines in the movie! True, there is a large-scale and interesting sci-fi world built in Five Star Stories, along with some decent 80s-animated action, but they leave so much unfinished that it's almost not worth it at all. It's like watching 4 episodes of a 26-episode series, only to find out that episodes 5-26 don't exist, except in the manga/novels/whatever source material.
|FLCL (OAV)||Excellent||Ah, FLCL, Gainax's magnum opus of incomprehensibility. To be honest, there is a story there, though it's more an exploration of various themes, mainly about maturing and growing up. Short but sweet, FLCL contains Haruko, one of the craziest and most memorable characters in recent times. References too many to count, ranging from South Park to random motorcycle commercials. Not recommended to new anime watchers, due to the extreme speed, density, and weirdness of everything. Very "experimental" animation, with extreme distortions, manga inserts, but the animation is very high quality. Luckily for the unfortunate souls who only get their anime from Cartoon Network, Synch-Point's dub is very good, retaining all the sounds and mannerisms of the Japanese, although some of the more obscure culture references have been altered. Since FLCL is too short to tell more of a complete story, it gets downgraded one notch to "excellent." Veteran otaku cannot miss this series.|
|Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Foxy Nudes (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Free Zone (OAV)||Bad||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Freezing (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Fresh Precure! Omocha no Kuni wa Himitsu ga Ippai!? (movie)||Decent|
|Fresh Pretty Cure (TV)||Good|
|Fruits Basket (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #03: see comment in Top 30|
|Full Metal Panic! (TV)||Very good||Top 30 #19(tie): see comment in Top 30|
|Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (TV)||Very good||Top 20 #19(tie): see comment in Top 30|
|Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (TV)||Very good||Top 20 #19(tie): see comment in Top 30|
|Full Moon o Sagashite (TV)||Good||52 episodes of shoujo angst and goodness. It may take some swallowing of pride to enjoy Full Moon wo Sagashite, but if you can get through some questionable comedy, awkwardness, and fillers during the first half, you'll get a very rewarding drama at the end. The premise exemplifies the balance of cuteness and tragedy; cute girl, the cutest Shinigami ever, but an undercurrent of sadness and foreboding throughout. If you can get through certain episodes in the early 40s without a tear in your eyes, then as Aerosmith would say, "mister you're a better man than I." Recommended to fans of cute shows, singing, and music, as well as drama lovers.|
|Full Moon o Sagashite: Cute Cute Adventure (special)||So-so||An amusing extra, probably some manga sidestory that wasn't animated in other episodes. Nothing too special here, but it's a nice addition.|
|Fullmetal Alchemist (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 20 #11: see comment in top 20|
|Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (TV)||Excellent|
|Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa||Good||They should've called it "Fan Fiction: The Movie," because this disappointment to the FMA franchise feels like it could've come from the halls of Fanfiction.net. In truth, I'm being a bit harsh, possibly because the TV series had set my expectations so high, and a couple of years and forum spoilers passed by between finishing the series (January 2005) and watching the movie (July 2007). On the production side, it lives up to "movie-quality," with plenty of alchemy fanservice scenes for the action fans. The problem lies in the "All new supervillain appears, old heroes must once again join forces to defeat it" plot, as well as all the new random, unexplained permutations of alchemy that get thrown around like there's no tommorrow. Still, this movie isn't bad, it just doesn't live up to the TV series or provide a truly satisfying conclusion. Guess I'll have to look into the manga and see how it's different.|
|Fushigi Yugi (TV)||Good||You'll need a bit of tolerance for eye-rolling shoujo dramatics, but Fushigi Yuugi is a pretty good romance action/epic story, with the artwork of Watase Yuu behind it. Like Ceres and others of her works, FY has a spunky yet vulnerable heroine, an assortment of pretty boys to meet any fan's tastes, and a plot full of magic, mayhem, and shocking twists/deaths. And of course, the requisite rape-themed material, though there's nothing graphic. Despite all the lovey-dovey Miaka/Tamahome scenes, there's enough comedy from the others to provide balance, and even the villains get their chance to appeal to the viewers' emotions. With 52 episodes, there's enough material to leave you satisfied, even if you don't go on to the OVAs.|
|Fushigi Yugi (OAV)||Decent||These two OVA series are decent...compared to Eikouden, they're much more coherent and consistent with the TV characters. I'd have to watch them again to say more.|
|Fushigi Yugi (OAV 2)||So-so||This is episodes 4-9 of the "Oni" set. These episodes are coherent and consistent with the original story, and allow the viewer to revisit the backstories of many of the Suzaku 7. Chichiri's episode (#8) is particularly good, imo, since he had one of the most unexpected tragic pasts. (The OVA, however, conflicts with the anime's version of events at this point.) IIRC, episode 9 of this OVA can make a better overall end to FY than Eikouden can.|
|Fushigi Yugi Eikoden (OAV)||Not really good||This OAV really felt unnecessary and confusing, as it had to come up with an excuse to create some evil force for Miaka and the gang to fight against. It's nice to see all the characters again, but unless you're a Fushigi Yuugi completionist, you might find a better use for four episodes' worth of your time.|
|Futakoi (TV)||Weak||One of the top series in my short "Regretted watching" list. I thought that this one would be nice and cute, and nice and cute it was...however, that doesn't excuse Futakoi from being a pointless harem show, with yet another male lead who gets tons of undeserved female attention. Not to mention, nothing is resolved, at any point in time. Sure, it has cute girls (especially Lulu and Lala), and Kaoruko and Sumireko are appealing in the "childhood friends" way, but I still have to give Futakoi an "avoid" rating. Plus, it made me regret certain aspects of my childhood, since I was never able to get any girls, let alone twins, to promise me that they would be my bride.|
|Futakoi Alternative (TV)||Good||I feel like this is my reward for having suffered through Futakoi. I don't know how much value F-Alt has as a standalone anime, since I spent a lot of time chuckling at changes to the characters and references to the "standard" version. On its own, F-Alt can be viewed as an action/drama/comedy about a guy who happens to be a detective and the twin girls who happen to live with him. However, starting at the initial scene with six-year-old girls battling a giant squid on a plane (sorry, Samuel L. Jackson is not involved), it's clear that realism isn't the biggest priority. The animation is "deceptively realistic" with fairly detailed backgrounds and flowing fight scenes, but the biggest draw is seeing what random thing happens next. Gothic Lolita superheroes? Giant squids? Yakuza? Illuminati conspiracy? Guns, baseball bats, explosions? Futakoi Alternative says, "Bring 'em all on!"|
|Futari wa Precure Max Heart 2: Yukizora no Tomodachi (movie)||Very good|
|Futari wa Precure Splash Star (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Futari wa Precure Splash Star Tick Tack Kiki Ippatsu! (movie)||Good||This movie was my very first experience with the megalo-massive Pretty Cure franchise. Luckily, it's nothing you can't follow if you know the mechanics of Magical Girl anime. You get a duo of transforming junior-high girls, their magical mascot companions, and some kind of threat to the world. In the case of PCSS:TM, this thread is completely unrelated to the major villains in the TV series, making the movie a standalone. I'd heard about how the Pretty Cure franchise was famous for Magical Girls using physical attacks instead of only "Moon Star Tiara Kaleido Action Spiral Bridal Flash Heart Splash Shining Daisy Blizzard Finger Negative Heart Thunder Lock On Giga Starlight Divine Drill Breaker RELEASE Attack" magic spells. Upon watching this film, I discovered that Inuyasha is in fact not "Dragonball Z for girls." Pretty Cure, on the other hand, is. Not surprising since it's also animated by Toei, with some of the same creative staff that worked on the Dragonball franchise. And a theatrical budget allowed for PCSS:TM to have some highly impressive fight scenes, with fluid movement, aerial stunts, and magical energy flying all over the place. Apart from those fight scenes, the story involved Saki Hyuuga and Mai Mishou second-guessing their friendship and being emo for a bit, before invoking ThePowerOfFriendship and ThePowerOfLove to deliver some serious ass-kicking.
I never got into DBZ back when I was in its target age demographic, and I still don't care for it now. But I did like Sailor Moon back in the day, and through this movie I discovered that Pretty Cure has everything that makes Magical Girl anime great, combined with all the good points of DBZ-type shounen anime, yet without the drawbacks of DBZ. Given those factors, it was inevitable that I'd get into PC someday or another.
|Futari wa Pretty Cure (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Futari wa Pretty Cure: Max Heart (movie)||Good||*comment pending*|
|G-On Riders (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|G-spot Express (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! (TV)||Good||Yet another schoolgirl/slife/nostalgia series that draws some obligatory comparisons with Azumanga Daioh. But, Manabi Straight! does have some attributes that stand out and make for a worthwhile watch. The first that comes to mind is the title character Manami "Manabi" Amamiya. With her "Forward, GO!" motto, unwavering energy, endless school spirit, and unending store of surprises, there's never a dull moment with Manabi. MS! is also notable for being set in 2035 under a very believable situation: Japan's declining birthrate leads to decreased school enrollment, school closures, and a possible end to the typical school life found in so many other anime. Amongst a school culture of malaise, Manabi is truly an inspirational character, and her uniqueness and "I wish I knew a girl like that back in High School" factor rival that of Haruhi Suzumiya, without the sadism or evil. The problem is that the other characters don't receive too much development, and are mainly used as "sounding boards" to reflect and focus Manabi's craziness and thus advance the plot. And I think I'm right in assuming that this is a nostalgia show for people who have been through [Japanese] high schools, and might not be as effective for viewers who haven't finished that stage of life. It's all about school spirit, being with friends, being a part of something bigger than yourself, and organizing for change against "The Man." Manabi's hacking of the school clocktower to broadcast a message and play the tune of "My Grandfather's Clock" was especially touching for me, and I have to wonder if it went over the heads of Japanese viewers who didn't know the tune.
Also notable in MS! is the art style that renders its schoolgirls as short, slightly chubby, and semi-chibi. It's a cute, distinctive style whose CG blends well with the gadget-laden future setting. I just have to wonder why it had to be an all-girls' school - it kind of invites labels of "fanservice / loli series." They could've thrown a few background males in there and still show plenty of schoolgirls.
|Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Galaxy Angel (TV)||Very good||(Note: Some of these comments apply to the Galaxy Angel franchise as a whole, since they have the same character set and same style.) I first got into Galaxy Angel due to PantsGoblin's comments on the forums and my association with a certain online anime distribution group. It's been a fun ride so far, starting with this first series. My first impression of GA (1st season) is that it's a stylistic bridge between 1990s and 2000s anime. The animation is early CG, but the facial expressions, reactions, and comedy are very much rooted in the 90s. This means lots of completely random humor, which is very well served by the world setup (futuristic galaxy with a multitude of worlds to explore) and the half-length episodes that tell a complete mini-story without letting the jokes get old. And GA is as random and episodic as they come -- often drastic events that happen in one episode are completely reset for the next, and there's zero plot continuity from episode to episode. In fact, after episode 3, the episodes can be watched in any order without consequence. This makes GA a fun watch for a few episodes at a time, but it's certainly not something like Last Exile where there's always a compulsion to see the next episode. Sure, there's the general mandate for the Angels to seek Lost Technology; sometimes they find it, sometimes they don't, but it doesn't matter one way or the other.
The characters are also key in helping GA shine. Each of the lovely ladies of the Angel Brigade has enough interesting quirks to carry an episode alone or to act as part of the ensemble, and the episodic missions allow for any of the 21 possible combinations of one or more Angels to be used. (Yes, I did the math!) One thing I liked about this season compared to the others were the darker and more serious episodes. These were mainly stories that dealt with the Angels' past, although one particularly masterful episode involves Mint deciding that her friends must die in order that her secret cosplay habit not be discovered. On the fanservice watch, there's surprisingly little of it...yeah, there's some revealed skin and jiggle with Forte and Ranpha, but for an otaku-aimed series, there isn't any blatant fanservice like pantyshots or clothes-changing scenes.
Lastly, a comment on the audio tracks: the Japanese track assembles quite a bit of star power, actresses that voice the games, sing the theme songs, appear in radio dramas, etc. But the relatively unknown English cast from Ocean holds their own pretty well, improving their performances after getting used to the characters. The ADR script also manages to retain the comedic value while adapting to the phrasing and timing of English. I really with Bandai Ent. and not Bandai Visual were releasing [b]Galaxy Angel ~Rune[/b], because I'll miss Ocean's work when I finally get around to Rune.
|Galaxy Angel A (TV)||Decent||Long franchises can only go on for so long with the same thing before problems emerged. Overall, I remember more unfunny/boring episodes in Galaxy Angel A compared to previous series, and there was a lack of the more serious character-building episodes that went a long way in providing variety for the early seasons. GA A also commits the "Jump the Shark" crime of introducing wacky new characters to shake things up, in the form of rival Lost Technology hunters Malibu and Kokomo. There's only so much you can do with the same characters for this many episodes, but those two additions were more annoying than anything else. And how many times do we have to hear Norman declaring his robotic love for Vanilla? Luckily the second half "AA" episodes that I've seen so far feel like an improvement, and I've heard that GA X is even better, so I wouldn't write off the franchise yet. (This technically isn't "seen all" by ANN's standards, but many consider episodes 1-26 to be "Galaxy Angel A" and 27-52 as "Galaxy Angel AA," possibly in a clever imitation of Gundam Z (Zeta) and Gundam ZZ (Double Zeta))|
|Galaxy Angel S (special)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Galaxy Angel Z (TV)||Good||Continues the fun set up in the first GA series with more of the same. GA Z does a good job of "staying the course," with a visual facelift to put it wholly within the 2000s digital era of anime. To be honest I don't remember too many of the specific plots and incidents of GA Z, but they were 9 episodes of fluff and fun, easily recommendable to anyone who's seen the first season.|
|Galaxy Fraulein Yuna (OAV)||So-so||A fusion of elements from the Magical Girl genre, mecha-musume, space-fighter sci-fi, and good ol' schoolgirl lesbianism. However, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna doesn't do any of these particularly well. Apparently it was based on some obscure video game that never made it to North America, so English-speaking audiences won't have much of a feel for the background of the characters or their world. While I'm a little hazy on the specifics, I do remember that I'm not eager to pop this one back in the DVD player any time soon. I've mentioned this attribute in other comments, but GFY is, at the end of the day, one of those random VHS-era OVAs that was brought over and sold because nobody knew any better.|
|Galaxy Fraulein Yuna Returns (OAV)||So-so||In truth, watching Galaxy Fraulein Yuna Returns was my true motivation for bothering with this franchise in the first place. This is because it was the inimitable Steven Foster's first scriptwriting job at ADV, so I had to watch it due to a mix of fanboyism and morbid curiosity. And indeed, there are some pretty good liberally-rewritten lines. Despite the sometimes cringe-worthy acting and always cringe-worthy singing, the English dub is a decent experience. And in all fairness, the story has a little more emotional depth, compared to the first GFY OVA series. Not enough to save GFYR from mediocrity and obscurity, but I do remember it a little more fondly than its predecessor.|
|Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Gantz (TV)||So-so||Gantz certainly had the ambition to garner a higher rating than So-So, but it fell short in so so many ways. Overall, it follows the pattern that many 2000s Gonzo series took after. That is, "Original series = good, manga adaptations = not so good." Let's start with the characters. On the one hand, they've got some realism to them, and it's nice to have a lead who's dirty-minded (to the extent a normal teenage boy would be), selfish, and downright unheroic at times. The chance to hear characters' internal monologues is also a plus. On the other hand, many of the other characters suffer from stupidity, vacuous idealism, and tendencies to make pointless and idiotic self-sacrifices. And it's no coincidence that Gantz> goes downhill around episode 21 or 22 when the truly and indisputably best character is killed. I won't post spoilers, you'll know it when you see it. Speaking of people dying (if they are killed), it becomes harder and harder to feel anything for all but a few choice characters -- the never-ending procession of violence and death ensures that you'll become desensitized and not care if individuals or whole groups get mowed down by the meat grinder.
But as a spectacle of killing, dismemberment, (attempted) rape, and other immorally shocking acts, Gantz delivers it piping hot within 30 minutes or less. People and vaguely-defined aliens get shot, stabbed, blown up, crushed, sliced, slashed, melted with acid, psychologically attacked, and probably have other horrors visited upon them that I can't recall. And if profanity and raunchy dialogue could score points with GANTZ (the sphere-dwelling character), Madman Matt Greenfield and ADVs VAs would be well on their way to that 100 mark. Even if the source material was lacking, the English dub rarely failed to entertain. Especially in the final arc, with the Chris Ayres vs. Greg Ayres showdown.
But speaking of source material and the final showdown, it's the last act that drags Gantz down. That's not entirely Gonzo's fault; if you don't have more manga to adapt, you have to come up with an ending somehow. But it's pretty sad that I, as someone who hasn't read the manga, could tell where things "went off the rails." There's a decline in both technical quality and storytelling after a certain point (see above), and the show never recovers, choosing to rip-off / pay homage to Cowboy Bebop while leaving us no resolution on the aliens, the nature of GANTZ, or the conclusion of the game the characters are playing. While it's unfortunate that Gantz didn't live up to its potential, at least it was
|Garzey's Wing (OAV)||Worst ever (dub), Awful (sub)||This OVA has the dubious distinction of being the first Buried Garbage in Justin Sevakis' "Buried Treasure" column. That was where I first heard of Garzey's Wing, so maybe I was pre-conditioned to think it was bad. But after watching it, I can't help but think that the scathing criticism was deserved. Sure, the English dub is bad enough to be great comedic material if you've got a few friends and a lot of alcohol together. But nothing short of a Carl-Macek-caliber re-write/re-cut could've done any better with the source material. Evidently we're supposed to be familiar with the whole "Byston Well" mythos from Aura Battler Dunbine beforehand, so maybe there's a 0.000001% chance that GW makes a little more sense when not viewed as a standalone work. But on its own, GW is a hopeless jumble of characters we're supposed to care about (but don't), settings we're supposed to be familiar with (but aren't), and story progression that's supposed to make sense (but doesn't). Sure, nonsensical plots aren't intrinsically dealbreakers. The problem with GW is that none of its character actions or plot developments have any kind of logic or consistency to them, under neither real-world view or a fantasy-world view. Even this would be forgivable, except that GW sets itself up as a grand, serious epic fantasy, and none of its content can back that up. The ending is especially unsatisfying, most likely to inspire reactions of "I waded through 90 minutes of crap for this?! So yes, GW deserves every bit of its bad reputation. Despite all that, I still recommend watching it; it's an enjoyable experience (even alone, as I first saw it) to laugh at, especially with that English dub.|
|Gasaraki (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Gate Keepers (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Gate Keepers 21 (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Gekigangar 3 (OAV)||Good||Consider this the "true ending" for Martian Successor: Nadesico--you get to see most of the characters just as they were in the series, plus a "movie" featuring all the previously used Gekiganger clips as well as some additional movie material. Too bad the only way to get this is LQ VHS-rip fansubs online--it's a much more fitting conclusion to Nadesico than the movie.|
|Generator Gawl (TV)||Decent||"Do you have your gun?"
"I thought you were bringing your gun!"
Generator Gawl is lame, boring and trite, while simultaneously being lively, hilarious, and original. How can this contradictory duality exist in once series? Simple, it all comes down to what audio track you're watching. The English dub of GG was an early ADR script and direction work from Steven Foster, the same master of disaster who later brought us comedic masterpieces like Colorful, Super Milk-chan, and Ghost Stories. Now, I will admit that I haven't exactly watched the Japanese version. However, I have watched the English version twice, each time with the wildly-different subtitles on. Fundamentally, GG is a rushed, low-budget Terminator ripoff, with a confusing story rife with plot holes. The characters are nothing special, and most of the dialogue consists of the same bland lines that you'd find in any other anime. I swear, if I hear "If apologies solved everything, we wouldn't need the police!" one more time... Luckily, Fosterization comes to the rescue in the dub, turning clichéd exchanges into witty retorts, completely inventing some plot elements (while making the original plot more coherent), using silences and "no mouth movement" scenes to completely overhaul dialogue, exploiting the visuals for additional jokes (while at other times being comedically at-odds with the visuals), adding sexual innuendo, and 21 more hit songs. In other words, it's a completely unfaithful dub, but it's one that simply makes the show better. The writing isn't the only plus point -- this was Vic Mignogna's first lead part, and he was fully into the role of Gawl. Monica Rial gives a great performance as Natsume, particularly in one monologue that Rial herself cited as one of her favorite ADR acting performances.
If you're interested in GG as a Japanese anime, do so at your own risk. But if you're not a purist about dub changes, and/or have enjoyed other Steven Foster works in the past, the English version is a must-see. If you can find it, that is. It'd be nice if ADV re-released GG, but apparently they don't have room amongst the 10th and 11th re-releases of RahXephon, Chrono Crusade, and Wandaba Style I'll admit that I downloaded a DVD-rip version, and subsequently paid a good $55 to a convention dealer for the long out-of-print Perfect Collection. As a dub experience, it's just that good.
|Geneshaft (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Genshiken (TV)||Very good||Genshiken has two levels of appeal--first, as a comedy that parodies and celebrates otaku culture, even while chastising it a bit. Second, as a slice-of-life drama about a group of friends and all the relationship interplay that goes on between them. I can't be sure of it, but I think that female fans could enjoy watching Saki's attempts to compete with "otaku-dom" for her boyfriend's attention. Most of the time, Genshiken plays less like a straight-up comedy and more like glimpses at a group of people as they go about their lives -- it's just that their lifestyles and the things they do are often funny to us as anime fans. Viewers new to the medium might experience many things going over their heads, even if they read the extensive onscreen fansub notes (within the fansubs) or DVD liner notes. Genshiken is simply dense with parody, spoken references, and visual cues from other anime/manga/games as it goes about celebrating years of "visual culture" history. There's even an "anime within the anime" that functions as a stand-in for many moe/otaku-centric anime. (Aria is the closest resemblance in my mind.) Depending on your opinion of "referentially dense" anime, this can be a good or a bad thing.
The humor doesn't stop there, however. Genshiken achieves a decentralized character dynamic that allows distributed focus on most of its inhabitants, many of whom represent some facet of the otaku world. Although the main character is ostensibly club newcomer Kanji Sasahara, the real impetus of the action is outsider Saki Kasukabe, whose actions and reactions drive much of the comedy. Even so, she isn't a main character, either. Club President Madarame's over-the-top otakuness is a never-ending source of laughs, and the episode with him and Saki alone in the clubroom is a priceless sendup of dating-sim games.
On technical levels, Genshiken isn't mindblowing, but its target audience doesn't require jaw-dropping animated motion to be impressed. There isn't much for music, either, though I found myself watching and singing along to the closer in almost every episode. While I found the Japanese voiceacting to be better, the Media-Blasters dub was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. In general, we get a more sedate, laid-back kind of anime that will appeal perfectly to those who seek it.
Through all the celebration of otaku culture, Genshiken is also something of a reprimand to its excesses, including the lifestyle-damaging obsessiveness, the unhealthy attitudes towards real-world women and/or sex, the petty rivalries (cf. the Manga Club), the reckless spending, and so forth. Genshiken is good entertainment for otaku, but it's far from a legitimization or defense of their lifestyle.
|Genshiken (OAV)||Good||Not too much to say about this that I didn't already ramble on about in my comments for Genshiken TV, except that I kind of liked the art style of the 2004 TV version better. Which is strange, since this is supposedly a better-quality OVA. It's more of the same in terms of the character relationships and the otaku comedy, though you can expect the otaku-hating fangirl Ogiue to show and and cause some trouble. From reading the manga, I already had a pretty good idea of the plot events, but these episodes are certainly worth watching. They're even considered to be a direct follow-up to the TV series, being labeled episodes 13-15 in the fansub world.|
|Ghost in the Shell (movie)||Good||Come on, you know what GitS is about, you don't need my comments...ok, this movie is said to form some of the basis for the Matrix movies, and deals with issues of conscience, sentience, man vs. machine, living vs. nonliving, and there's action and killing...it's been a few years since I've seen it, so sue me if I'm wrong--you accept settlements in anime DVDs, right?|
|Ghost Stories (TV)||Excellent||English Version: I found the dub quite hilarious--as a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and movies built on parody & references, I enjoyed the humor that made fun of Ghost Stories itself and rewarded me for knowing obscure facts, such as what the "Big Dig" is. The voice acting and comedy produced by the VAs is top-notch, and encouraged me to give other dubs more of a chance. The comedy is at the best in the middle three volumes, after the actors hit their stride but before the swearing and sexual humor became too much.
Japanese Version: It's not terrible, but you can tell it is meant for audiences of Japanese children / families. (Thank goodness for the Ghost Profiles in the extras.) Animation for humans is average, but there is some nice CGI for many of the ghosts. Most episodes follow a formula that recalls some echoes of Scooby-Doo--Normal day at school, Mysterious Phenomenon occurs, the gang investigates, Amanojaku makes some comments, Satsuki reads the Ghost Diary, Some ritual gets performed, end of episode. The dialogue is mostly bland; over 80% of Keiichirou's lines in Japanese are either "Onee-chan!" or "I'm scared!" Still, there are some episodes with some genuine sadness and emotion, in particular episode 12 (flashback to Satsuki's mother, where the dub just didn't feel right), and the last episode. The dub is the main reason to watch Ghost Stories, but the Japanese version isn't worthless.
|Gift - eternal rainbow (TV)||Good||My fanboyism for series based on dating-sims, visual novels, and ero-games leads me down many paths, and one such path led me to the rather obscure (even by fansub standards) 2006 series Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~. I"ll say straight up that I believe some anime from these sources are good enough to rival any of the more mainstream, broadly popular anime. But others, like G~ER, fall into the category of "for fans of the genre, and no one else." It's the kind of series where you appreciate it for being like many things you've seen before, giving it a comfortable and familiar.feeling. The cast of characters is all too familiar -- nondescript lead male, one male sidekick (whose wacky inventions provide good comedic material), and about five girls of varying hair colors, including the not-related-by-blood little sister, the childhood friend, the tomboy, the spacey girl, and a blond half-foreign girl (a panty-flashing witch, in this case). And in fact, it's very much like an earlier show from the same genre, namely Da Capo, since both have an ambient supernatural phenomenon that grants wishes and figures into the plot. With only twelve episodes to spend some time with the secondary girls and get to the main love triangle, things feel a bit rushed, and several early episodes have a "misbegotten Gift of the week" format to them.
But still, being a fanboy of the genre, I found enjoyment in G~ER: cute girls, bright colors, decent animation that occasionally reveals its outsourcing, and a story with some laughs, some tears, and a decent conclusion. But it's unmistakably a "comfort food" anime for those who like visual novel adaptations -- if you don't, then I'd recommend avoiding this one.
|Ginban Kaleidoscope (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Girl From Phantasia (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending**comment pending*|
|Girl Next Door (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie)||Masterpiece||*comment pending*|
|Girl's High (TV)||Good||Did you ever wish that Azumanga Daioh had fewer cute kittens and more panty shots and jokes about periods? Well, High School Girls (fansub title = better than the official title that has a misplaced apostrophe) may not be exactly what you ordered, but it's close enough to not send back to the kitchen. HSG is about the lives, friendships, rivalries, and romantic entanglements of six girls at an all-girls school, no more, no less. Along the way, the plot winds through typical events, like sports day, a cultural festival, summer vacation, holidays, and everything else you've seen before. It's a bit unique in that these girls are a bit more raunchy and debased in their words and actions, compared to standard anime girls, although most of their personalities show some degree of cliché. However, the emphasis on the less glamorous aspects of femininity means that HSG is not an otaku-pandering series; it's something boys can enjoy for the fanservice, girls can enjoy for the identification-with-characters aspect, and both can enjoy for the comedy.|
|Girls Bravo (TV)||Decent||Yes, it's fanservice/etchi comedy to the extreme, but at least Girls Bravo's degradation of women is tempered by degradation of men--it's equal opportunity. And after watching it all, I wasn't really disappointed. Attractive girls, comedy, zany military/magic action, and a few sweet/tender scenes for a few of the characters. Overall, Girls Bravo is slightly offensive, but palatable, and you'll be entertained for 24 episodes. What kind of "entertainment" is found is up to the viewer...
*EDIT* The English dub deserves special attention; it's another New Generation Pictures effort, and in this case they alter the dialogue quite a bit to make GB much funnier and even more ecchi. It's nothing that butchers the plot, just substituting stock Japanese lines like "I'm so glad" or "This is delicious" or "[character name]..." with comedy that works better in English. Very much worth getting the DVDs for.
|Godannar (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Goku Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (OAV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Gokudo (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Gokusen (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Gold Throbber (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Golden Boy (OAV)||Good||Tolerance for jiggles required. If you can get past EXTREMELY raunchy fanservice, many laughs await you in the 6 episodes of Golden Boy, and the dub is top-notch as well. I understand there's a lot more manga out there, but 6 episodes is enough without becoming tiresome. Plus, as an added bit of trivia, Kintarou's name, 金太郎, actually does mean something like "Golden Boy."|
|Goshūshō-sama Ninomiya-kun (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Graduation (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Grappler Baki (OAV)||Weak||Grappler Baki would be a standard meatheaded fighting/superpowers anime, if not for one glaring flaw: THE OPTIC NERVES ARE NOWHERE NEAR THE NECK!! Maybe the 2001 TV series gives a better take on the story, but I'm not bothering to find out.|
|Gravion (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Gravion Zwei (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Gravitation (TV)||Good||Well, I once swore on my pride as a man that I'd never ever watch this, but sure enough, I had to go and take it out of "Will not finish." Once I got over the "fear the anime because of its fans" barrier, I managed to survive Gravitation and even enjoy it a bit. Gravi's main claim to fame is its "men loving men" component, but it also works well as a "succeeding in the music world" story. And the boys' love didn't feel like exploitative fan-pandering, perhaps because it aired back in 2000 before the main shounen-ai craze set it. Rather, Gravi's love story works from a "you can't help who you love" premise that erases gender lines. Instead of "he's a man, and I love him," it's "I love him, and he happens to be a man." I would criticize Gravi for having too many other implied male pairings -- I recall thinking, "Are there any purely straight men in this show?" -- but then again I'd have to criticize other series like Strawberry Panic for doing the same thing on the shoujo-ai side.
There's never a dull moment with Gravitation's characters, although sometimes Yuki seemed more inconsistent than enigmatic. Shuuichi, well...he made the boys' love more palatable by pretty much being like a woman to begin with. Even without the cosplay. Some of his random acts and statements just leave you asking, "Why?", though. To go along with the bishounen visual schemes, we get a lot of frenetic transformation and distortion in the animation. Shuichi, especially, gets knocked around in super-deformed sequences heldover from 90s anime, and these sequences are often a breath of fresh air in the realistic, down-to-earth setting. And Shuuichi's random animal transformations (often when being clingy to Yuki) are cute as well.
I get the feeling that there's a lot more manga story than what the anime covered, but oh well, it found a fairly dramatic ending to build up to. I don't regret watching Gravi anyway, if for no other reason than its significance in the yaoi/shounen-ai/boys' love/whatever-they-call-it-these-days fandom. Catchy J-rock music, too.
|Green Green (TV)||Weak||I knew what I was getting into when I started Green Green, but even my experience with other perverse etchi/comedy anime couldn't prepare me for some of the horrors inside. The main bright spot for me was Midori, voiced by the same Japanese VA as Riku Harada from D.N.Angel, whose cheerful demeanor and devotion to Yuusuke were a breath of fresh air in scenes featuring her. In fact, GG's only emotional relevance to me came from the game-transplanted supernatural backstory about her and Yuusuke. Other than that, the show feels like an experiment gone wrong, kind of like the plot's experiment of combining an girls from an all-girls school with a male boarding school located in the rustic depths of Middle of Nowhere. The production values are nothing to write home about, either--character designs aren't very appealing, animation is riddled with shortcuts, the music isn't even worth downloading, the Japanese dub is merely adequate, and the English dub has been denounced as one of the worst ever. And of course, GG focuses on (aside from Yuusuke) the most imbecilic, cluless, and pathetic specimens that the male species has to offer. If that weren't enough, all kinds of bizarre and disturbing fetishes just have to be explored, such as eating rice flavored with the scent of a woman, or an aggressively creepy little sister fetish.
But since that's not the first time anime males have made me ashamed of my gender, let's move on to the female characters. Unfortunately, aside from the previously mentioned Midori, none of the female characters are appealing beyond the surface level, and I'm sure you know what I mean. They're supposed to be from an all-female environment, yet they have zero curiosity or interest in boys (other than a quasi-harem attraction for the oh-so-kind Yuusuke), and pretty much only exist to be objects of lust for the male characters and punishers of the males' transgressions. I did find the "grenade" girl Arisa to be rather amusing though; she's the only one that struck me as halfway realistic, and her yaoi-inspired fantasies of male behavior gave me a chuckle.
Since much of the series' 12 episodes is filler before the main backstory gets resolved, there's plenty of chances for our brainless characters to get into inane situations. If you're the type of fan who thinks "well, I don't mind a little fanservice, but not too much", stay far away from Green Green. I can't imagine female fans finding anything of interest in this series. At the same time, GG manages to alienate its target audience of horny males by introducing enough disturbing elements to all but ruin its erotic/fanservice value. I won't go into detaile, but it's almost like browsing pornsites online and accidentally getting redirected to goatce or something similar via a blind link. Man I hate when that happens, and while I almost never drop anime series, the end of episode 9 was almost enough to make me stop the episode and never return. Only the things I'd heard about the bittersweet/sad ending made me continue--if I weren't such a sentimental sap, you might be reading these comments in "Will not Finish."
|Green Green (OAV)||Not really good||This OVA gets some pretty bad ratings, but it's not as bad as the series. Then again, it's only got 25 minutes or so to assault our senses and our sensibilities. It came out a year before GGTV, and is an "alternate universe" featuring the lead males coming to the all-girls' school as an experiment between the schools. Typical hijinks, fanservice, and punishments ensue, and eventually there's some sort of plot about missing panties. Who's to blame? Some of the character relations are different from the TV series, notably Midori and Yuusuke; Midori is hard at work trying to improve Yuusuke's personality, rather than blindly accepting him no matter what. Even for an OVA, the character designs and animation are lackluster, and the voice acting (Japanese) has a "do we really have to do this crap?" feeling to it. But anyone looking for artistic merit in anything named Green Green is looking in the wrong place anyway.|
|Green Green Character DVD (OAV)||Decent||Now these I can say were worth watching and didn't make me want to Shift+Delete any files. Only because they're basically slash fiction with some of the girls of Green Green in some compromising, naughty, yuri-worthy situations. Totally random and rediculous from a plot point of view, and utterly inconsistent with their behavior in the TV series, but who cares? It's all so very wrong, yet so right at the same time.|
|Green Green Thirteen: Erolutions (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Grenadier (TV)||So-so||It's not quite as bad as you might think. There's a bit of a plot and political drama to go along with the borderline-absurd gunfighting and fanservice, but it can't be ignored that Rushuna is a ripoff of Vash the Stampede and his pacifist attitudes, only female and with the patented mammary ammo reloading devices that this series is famous for. That said, the fanservice in Grenadier isn't all that excessive, although you can pretty much predict when Rushuna will get that urge to jump in the bath. It has a fun, "on the road" feel through a variety of landscapes, and the fights are well-animated and choreographed, but at best, Grenadier is a way to kill off a few hours and move on to something else.|
|Grrl Power (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Guardian Hearts (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Guardian Hearts Power Up! (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Gunbuster (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Gungrave (TV)||Very good|
|Gunslinger Girl (TV)||Very good||A pity it had to be only 13 episodes...Gunslinger Girl will disappoint people looking for another Noir-like "girls with guns" thriller, because it's fairly talky and slow-paced. There are some well-animated action scenes, with blood, explosions, and nice detail on guns and bullets. Aside from the action scenes, what GG offers is character analysis of young girls in extraordinary circumstances, and each of these girls have some sort of a tragic history that will tug the heartstrings. One of the most interesting things to watch is how they view their situation and how they react to their jobs and the events that unfold around them; you get to see a variety of worldviews, from the innocent to the cynical to the harshly utalitarian. The Italian setting is a welcome change of pace, as are the English OP and Italian/operatic ED. Also, many deride Gunslinger Girl as a loli-fest, which couldn't be more wrong--the girls have a conditioned nonsexual "admiration" for their Handlers, and the Handlers have no sexual interest whatsoever in the girls. In fact, the contrasting relationships between different girl-Handler pairs is another fine point of the series. Great dub from Funimation as well.|
|GUNxSWORD (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Gurren Lagann (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Gurren Lagann the Movie –Childhood's End-||Very good||*comment pending*|
|H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~ (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|.hack//GIFT (OAV)||Not really good||"Not really good" isn't much of a surprise here, since there's no way this random chibi/super-deformed extra ever aspired to be all that good. It's an amusing little diversion, if nothing else. I probably would've gotten more out of it if I'd been familiar with the .hack// game series, but I still watched it for completionist purposes anyway.|
|.hack//Intermezzo (OAV)||So-so||OVA sidestory of .hack//Sign that featured Mimiru adventuring in a random "legendary" dungeon, along with some highschool girls playing "The World" deciding that it was time to move on. Not a bad episode by any means, but it wasn't very compelling, either.|
|.hack//Legend Of The Twilight (TV)||Decent||This was my first exposure to the .hack// franchise, and while I get the feeling that compared to Sign and Roots, it's like SD Gundam compared to UC Gundam, I liked it well enough. It's very "kiddy" in style and story, from the ages of the characters to the bright color schemes of The World and its trappings. Gamers, especially MMORPG players, will find plenty to relate to with all the proceedings of hit points, experience points, levelling up, and finding rare items, but those who don't like game-based anime like Arc the Lad and Wild Arms should be warned.
At least the animation is bright, cheery, and has plenty of motion, avoiding the "pan over stills" syndrome of other Bee Train anime like Avenger, Madlax, and .hack//Sign. Characters aren't very complex, generally falling into certain "adventure party" roles. At times, I felt the series should've been titled "Legend of the Twincest Bracelet" due to the main characters, but it's only mildly creepy. The story isn't too bad for the 12-episode runtime, though the titular bracelet provides way too many omnipotent conveniences to solve the characters' problems. Overall, a cute fantasy diversion that is easily accessible to the .hack//-uninitated.
|.hack//Roots (TV)||Not really good||I suppose I only have myself to blame for my disappointment with .hack//Roots. After all, I haven't fully played any console games made after the 1990s, which means I have no experience with the videogame portion of the .hack multimedia franchise. However, .hack//SIGN and .hack//Twilight were relatively accessible and passably entertaining, so I gave Roots a try for the sake of franchise completionism.
I won't say it was a total mistake, as the first half was compelling enough. It had intra-guild tensions, inter-guild rivalries, and characters with enough mystery behind them to keep me watching. Of course, as with any Koichi Mashimo-directed Bee Train show, you're getting to get a slideshow experience, with lots of people sitting around talking and very little movement or action. (For once, this is excusable, since the show is about people logging into an MMORPG and chatting with their friends.) It also helps that the backgrounds paint beautiful images of a virtual world, and that the Ali Project music is bizarrely operatic, as opposed to Yuki Kajiura's sleep-inducing techno.
But shortly after the halfway point, some sympathetic characters get derailed, several interesting characters get removed from the stage, the inter-guild rivalry dies down, and the new characters and situations were mostly yawn-inducing. By the end, I was mainly watching .hack//Roots just to get it over with, and for the widely-considered-annoying catgirl. To make things worse, none of the main goals are achieved at the series' end, nor are any of the primary problems solved. Apparently Roots is a prequel to one of the games, and those things are covered within the game. Understandable enough, but it really kills Roots' chance of being a quality standalone work.
So in summary, if you haven't played the .hack games and don't intend to, you probably don't want to watch this show.
|.hack//SIGN (TV)||Good||I'd avoided this series and the rest of the franchise for a long time, mainly because I'd heard it was "boring" and "like watching someone play a video game." But after seeing //Twilight, I decided to go ahead and check //Sign out, if for no other reason than the significance and the popularity of the franchise. I should add that I've had zero exposure to the .hack// series of games, and I don't play MMORPGs at all. So maybe I would've gotten more out of //Sign if I'd had those experiences.
Even so, .hack//Sign is an anime worth watching...if you can tolerate slow pacing and a lot of stills. One might expect fantasy action in an anime set in an online game world, but compared to //Twilight, //Sign concerns itself more with the chatting and personal interaction that takes place in these kinds of games. As the series progresses, we learn more and more about the players' IRL existances, and how they affect the game characters' motivations and actions. While there is a macro-level plot about the Key of the Twilight, the real focus is on character evolution as the players trust, betray, support, and abandon each other in the game world. //Sign features numerous characters within several different factions, and it's interesting to see the anime shift between them and show their respective character arcs and resolutions.
While there isn't much magical action to speak of, the fantasy visuals showcase the creative potential of an online game realm with many distinct worlds. As with other Bee Train productions, Yuki Kajiura's music is in full force, working overtime to enhance the experience. The OP-ED are fine pieces of work, and there's plenty of choral and instrumental background music throughout the episodes...if nothing else, the soundtrack deserves the hype it gets. I found myself watching the English track more often, but both audio tracks are just fine.
Final Verdict: A little on the slow/boring side, great visuals & music, and a good series to watch if you want something a little more serious and mature than average.
|.hack//Unison (OAV)||Decent||Another little .hack spinoff OVA that features characters from various incarnations chatting and relaxing. Having seen //Twilight before //Sign, it was nice for me because I could see some of the characters that formed the basis for the //Twilight protagonists. Nothing amazingly good or bad about it, but I thought I'd comment anyway.|
|Haibane Renmei (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #08: see comment in Top 30|
|Hanamaru Kindergarten (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hanasaku Iroha - Blossoms for Tomorrow (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Hanaukyo Maid Team: La Verite (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Hanaukyo Maid-tai (TV)||Not really good||Or, "Why I shouldn't watch series just to see examples of fansubbing from a given era." I'd become disillusioned with the modern fansub community's obsession with PERFECT 1280x720 HDTV VIDEO QUALITY, 100% softsubbing, flamboyant karaoke, pseudo-professionalism, and microscopic background-blending subtitles apparently intended only for people with 40" monitors or larger. On the count of not suffering from any of those qualities, Hanaukyo Maid Team (or at least the version I watched) succeeded brilliantly. But as an anime series, I can't say it succeeded as well. Never have half-length episodes felt like such a chore to get through. While the ecchi and fanservice elements felt almost OVA-quality at times, the animation did not. Many of the multitude of girls looked indistinct, and became known to me only as "that tech girl," "the ninja," "the fangirl," "those three girls who molest Taro in the bathroom and in bed," and so forth. With only 6 standard episodes worth of material, there was barely any time to develop anything, let alone a huge cast. While there is some semblance of serious story at the end, it comes as "too little, too late." You might say, "But Zalis, this show is just fanservice trash anyway, who cares about the story?" The problem with HMT is that while the art is mature, the situations are not. I'm not above a little wish fulfillment, but this show moves things into the "wish quality assurance" department. I never expected highbrow art out of this, but all the ecchi situations are junior-high-level or worse. Seeing a few maidgirl boobies doesn't relieve the eyerolling awkwardness as this boy (with a girl allergy to rival Yukinari Sasaki of Girls Bravo) gets smothered with uninspired servile affection. Maybe it's my fault for watching a series intended for boys half my age. Or maybe the 2004 "Verite" remake can salvage things.|
|Hanaukyo Maid-tai OAV||Not really good||Mostly "more of the same" from the TV series, but slightly better. It manages a heartwarming exploration of a dual-personality girl and some amusing moments of "off-duty maids" and crossdressing. I can't give it a higher rating because it's no more worthwhile storywise than the TV series, but it does show noticeable improvement.|
|Hand Maid Mai (OAV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Hand Maid May (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Happiness! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Happy Lesson (TV)||Decent||In 2000, Love Hina brought the harem comedy headlong into the digital anime era. Not surprisingly, it spawned various imitators that tried to ride the genre's popularity. To be fair though, Happy Lesson TV is not technically a harem, as Chitose's teacher-mamas spend more time and energy trying to be teachers and mothers than they spend on trying to be Chitose's older-woman lovers. And there's not qutie as much fanservice as you would expect. But like Love Hina, HL-TV goes with the five-girl setup, with enough hobbies and quirks in these ladies to provide plenty of sci-fi and supernatural hijinks. And of course, most of these hijinks result in Chitose getting maimed or tortured somehow.
HL-TV's problem is that it combines this cliched setup with a bland storyline. Most episodes involve Chitose going to school, being completely oblivious to class rep Nanakorobi's flirtations (for an average teenage boy, Chitose's hormones are surprisingly inert; it doesn't make a bit of difference, guys), and one of his mamas will have some kind of crisis (usually brought upon herself by her crazy hobby/quirk), requiring Chitose to intervene and feel more closeness with that mama by episode's end. There is some increased conflict at the end, but only for an ending's sake.
The saving grace of HL-TV for me was the cute cosplaying blonde art teacher Uzuki, mainly in episode 8 where she befriends a young boy in the park. Even though I could predict how things were going to go, that episode still drew some tears out of me. Lastly, avoid ADV's dub on this one; it's not one of their better ones, and nobody realized that there's no terminal silent "e" in Japanese, so the lead male's name winds up sounding like a popular snack food.
|Happy Lesson (OAV)||Decent||This actually came before the TV series, and it actually has five episodes -- the last two were never fansubbed nor released by ADV, but I managed to see them raw. HL-OVA is not particularly better or worse than HL-TV -- the main mark of its OVA status is that the episodes have little to do with one another, aside from being about Cheetos (tm) and his five teacher mothers. The first episode is quite similar in structure to the first episode of the TV series, and the remaining episodes more or less focus on one of the mamas. I seem to remember Uzuki getting shafted out of screentime. The events are run-of-the-mill, like trying to motivate lethargic classmates, Chitose being oblivious to the class rep's advances, Chitose getting possessed by some random spirit...really, the only lesson here is that if you didn't care for the TV series, this OVA doesn't redeem the franchise.|
|Happy Lesson Advanced (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Happy Lesson The Final (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Happy World! (OAV)||So-so||Fairly standard "sudden girlfriend appearance" anime of the angel/goddess variety. Decent hook with the fortune/misfortune distribution aspect, but everything about it is average. I had to check back on the episodes just to see what if anything went on. It's the standard routine of [magical girlfriend cohabits with guy] -> [magical girlfriend somehow integrates into his family and school life] -> [hilarity and drama ensue]. No meaningful ending or resolution whatsoever...you feel like you're getting 3 episodes out of a 13-episode series, with no hope of ever seeing 04-13. Not really recommended, unless you're looking to burn an hour and a half before work or something.|
|Haru no Ashioto The Movie: Ourin Dakkan (OAV)||Weak||School takeovers are serious business, and this OVA offers nothing, I mean nothing that's unique, compelling, or memorable. Probably because it's shorter than a standard TV episode, and only meant to be a companion piece to a VN -- rather than compressing the VN's story down, it deals with one random incident and assumes that the viewers have foreknowledge of the characters. So don't bother with it, unless you've got some kind of need to watch any and all anime based on romance games. That was my motivation, anyway.|
|Hataraki Man (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Hatsukoi (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Hatsukoi Limited (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Hayate the Combat Butler (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Hayate the Combat Butler! Heaven Is a Place on Earth (movie)||Decent|
|Hayate the Combat Butler!! (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Hayate the Combat Butler!! (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|He Is My Master (TV)||Good||A great comedy offering from our friends at Gainax. Definitely better if you've seen a wide range of anime, especially etchi comedy and maid shows (Mahoromatic, also from Gainax) in particular. It helps to have seen Evangelion, as well. Character designs are attractive in an openly loli way, and "goshujin-sama" Yoshitaka is a shameless "lolicon pervert uniform maniac who enjoys voyeur photos and H-games." With Yoshitaka designing costumes for the fetish of the week, HiMM is yet another indicator of Gainax's undying respect for horny otaku everywhere. [/sarcasm]|
|Heartcatch Precure! (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|A Heat for All Seasons (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Heat Guy J (TV)||Good|
|Heaven's Lost Property (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Heaven's Lost Property Forte (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Heaven's Lost Property: Project Pink (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hell Girl (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hell Girl: Three Vessels (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Hell Girl: Two Mirrors (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hellsing (TV)||Decent||So much potential, but it went to waste. I wanted Hellsing to be the show that redeemed vampire anime for me, as it's not really my preference. And at the beginning, I was intrigued by the gradual de-evolution of Seras Victoria from human to vampire, but the story didn't give me enough of that. Still, lots of gunfights and magic make this one worth watching, and Alucard is menacingly delicious in both languages.|
|Here is Greenwood (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Hidamari Sketch (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Hidamari Sketch (special)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Hidamari Sketch × 365 (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Hidamari Sketch × 365 (special)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|High School DxD (TV)||Decent|
|High School of the Dead (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Higurashi no Naku Koroni Gaiden Nekogoroshi-hen (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|(The) Hills Have Size (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Hime-chan's Ribbon (TV)||Good||Saccharine sweet, sometimes repetitive Magical Girl show from the era before Sailor Moon infused sentai-type action into the genre. Full review here.|
|His and Her Circumstances (TV)||Very good||Too bad it got cut off. I bought this one blind in my early days of anime collection, and I wasn't disappointed at the romance and comedy that I found in Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (AKA "Kare Kano"). A combination of Gainax trademark experimental animation, a well-developed love story, and high school comedy, Kare Kano has some great moments near the middle of the series, including the first serious "sex scene" that I "saw" in an anime. (You know what I mean with the quotes.) Unfortunately, a large amount of recaps and the letdown at the end prevent me from rating Kare Kano as high as I'd like to. Time to start buying up the manga.|
|Hitō Meguri Kakure Yu (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Hitō Meguri The Animation (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Hitohira (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hitozuma Cosplay Kissa 2 - Hitozuma Love Love Cosplay OVA||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Holy Sleazy School (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Honey and Clover (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Honey and Clover II (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Honō no Haramase Tenkōsei (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hoshi Neko Fullhouse (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Hoshizora Kiseki (ONA)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hotori - Tada Saiwai o Koinegau (special)|
|Human Crossing (TV)||Good||Human Crossing is the kind of series that wouldn't get a second glance from R1 licensees these days. The best way to describe HC is "a Jdorama that happens to be animated." HC has a number of things going against it: it's slow-paced, it's "boring," there are no hot babes or sexy bishounen, there's no fantasy/action and scarcely any comedy. It's an example of substance over style, as all the men look blocky, the women look mid-30s and frumpy (even the 17-year-old in the second episode), and there's a marked reliance on stills and minimal animation. Still, it was a welcome treat to see families, husbands, wives, bosses, and co-workers in ordinary stories, especially since I watched HC after finishing DearS. The stories are episodic, so you get a quick, complete experience in 22.5 minutes. The quality of the plots themselves are rather hit-and-miss; you'll probably find some episodes to be touching, and others dumb or forgettable. If you happen to be an older fan with a spouse and/or kids, HC is the perfect cure for highschool hijinx anime.|
|Hyakko (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Hyper Doll (OAV)||Decent||Forgettable yet fun bit of 1990s fluff. Lazy "slacker generation" super-heroes, lots of fanservice, transforming magical girls, bizarre monsters, and oh so much destruction. Looks all right for an OVA of its age, and the English dub spices up the comedy aspect with some medium-aware humor. "Oh no, it's Kurageman!" "What does that mean? I don't speak Japanese!" Fun times, but you get the feeling that the story could've and should've been taken a lot further than the scant 2 episodes that were produced. It could've been a decent 13-episode latenight TV series, but sadly it was created a bit before Those Who Hunt Elves pioneered that particular format.|
|Hyper Speed GranDoll (OAV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|I Dream of Mimi (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|I''s (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|I''s Pure (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Ichigeki Sacchu!! HoiHoi-san (special)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Ichigo 100% (TV)||Not really good||Typical case of, "If main character makes a decision, then we have to end the manga, and we want to milk it for 18 volumes" syndrome. I 100% was a fun, harmless fanservice fest at the beginning, but as the series and OVAs dragged on, I really began to dislike Junpei and wonder what the heck those girls were smoking and how I could get my hands on it. After 5 OVAs and one special, still nothing concluded -- a "goes nowhere, does nothing" anime. The best value is probably the cute girls and deciding which one you like best.|
|Ichigo 100% (special)||Good||Receives a higher rating than the series because it focuses on Yui, and I always seem to like those childhood friend/shy girl characters in anime. I tell myself that, but maybe I'm just a perv who may or may not have fantasies about girls who sneak into my bed wearing panties and an unbuttoned nightshirt|
|Ichigo 100% (OAV)||Weak||Honestly, the most surprising thing about Ichigo 100% (OVA) that it's still on my hard drive after about 2 years. This OVA followup to the massively disappointing Ichigo 100% TV is crass, cheap, demeaning, and exploitative. Oh yeah, and it shows young girls in states of nudity and/or undress too. No no, the real "exploitative" part is how it purports to be a sequel that might actually mean something in terms of resolving what little story the TV series had, and then proceeds to string viewers along on the miniscule hope that there will be some kind of decision, conclusion, or even a vain sense of finality. Just more ridiculously contrived ecchi situations, from the standard slip-and-fall routine to an entire episode-long escapade that could've been prevented with reasonable communication. The third episode has some slightly better comedy and a wide variety of fetish outfits to add to the fun. But the fourth and final episode seriously pissed me off to the point that I wanted to stop it and purge everything Ichigo 100% - related from my memory and from my HDD. Even though it slightly redeemed itself when the "hook" was revealed, the 4th episode had nothing resembling a conclusion. Probably because there were still like a dozen volumes of manga left out there. Luckily, I was able to go and spoil myself on that manga to find out which girl Junpei ends up with and save myself the trouble of dealing with the story and characters any more. Seriously, Junpei is far worse than characters like Kyousuke Kasuga of Kimagure Orange Road or Keitarou Urashima from Love Hina in the departments of clumsiness, awkwardness with women, and indecisiveness that it's just painful to watch sometimes. Maybe I'm being a little harsh on Ichigo 100% (OVA) because I saw it back before I unlocked my inner ecchi demons. But I think it's telling that I later rated this OVA even lower on other sites; it's bad enough that my opinion of it worsened over time.|
|Ichigo Mashimaro (OAV)||Excellent||Everyone's favorite loli foursome and their "Big Sis" Nobue are back for more in this OVA that could easily be episodes 13, 14, and 15 of the TV series, only with better production values. Some of the more risqué / borderline shoujo-ai elements are more pronounced in the OVA, as well. As always, Miu and her outlandish, imaginative personality form the catalyst for most of the conflict and the comedy. Let's hope
|Ichigo Mashimaro Encore (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Idol Project (OAV)||Not really good||If you're looking to point any fingers of blame for the decline of OVAs as a respected art form, you've hit a bulls-eye in pointing them at Idol Project. At least I'd like to think that the classic "Golden Age" OVAs of the 1980s will never be associated with late 1990s dreck like IP beyond the technical/format level. Now, in Idol Project's defense, it may be an insightful satire into Japan's idol culture for those who know about it. But for those who don't, it's an incoherent cacophony of hyperspace planet-hopping, idol competitions completely unrelated to singing, as well as chases, races, and faces of all varieties. For a show about idols, there's a definitive lack of singing and music of remotely good quality. Having thoroughly enjoyed Full Moon, I have nothing against anime about girls singing, especially if they can tie it to an inspirational and dramatic storyline. But Idol Project had none of that. Then again, I should've expected that kind of disappointment after seeing that other anime on my list with "Idol" in the title. And while I never knock 1990s anime merely for being "old," IP doesn't do the era any favors with its misshapen faces, gaudy eye colors, and frightful hairstyles. While there is an element of "dumb fun" in a way that 2000s anime has forgotten how to execute, that can only redeem this OVA so much.|
|(The) IDOLM@STER (TV)||Excellent|
|Ikki Tousen (TV)||Not really good||When deciding what to rate Ikki Tousen, I found that this series, more than any other, captured the meaning of the description, "Not really good, but not a total waste either." Because IT is not really good--it plays out like a poor man's Tenjou Tenge, with the same rediculous competitions to "take over" or "overthrow" schools via supernaturally-charged fighting, the same utter lack of authority controls on these fights, and the same emphasis on the female form exposed via fighting and injury. Compared to TT though, there's something just a little "off" about the character designs--it's hard to explain, but the faces just aren't convincing enough in their reactions or emotions, not to the point where I could connect with them. Much of the budget obviously went into the fights, which are a figurative orgy of pantyshots, jiggle, clothes getting ripped off by anything and everything, and more.
And i have to admit, that's where the value comes in--poor design or not, these girls are hot to trot, and main character Hakufu's carefree attitude towards nudity merely fans the flames. After all, there's no shortage of skin shown of a girl who thinks nothing of casting off her dress (while already braless) to do the classic waterfall training exercise In comparison to similar series, what the director calls the "sexual side of fighting" is very ramped up, and some of the scenes outside the fights could easily pass for the initial parts of real hentai scenes. You have to respect their committment to realism, as they took the time to actually hire a highschool girl to pose for "reference photos" doing the types of panty-baring kicks seen in the series.
I must admit, I watched Ikki Tousen primarily in the English dub, which is a quality job by New Generation Pictures with subpar material. Even the Chinese-inspired Japanese names of the characters were pretty much on target on the pronunciation front. Plus, the English dub had Carrie Savage, while the Japanese dub did not. Story? Yeah, I guess there was some kind of a story about the Three Kingdoms Era in China and reincarnations of warriors from that era, but who cares about that when there's a "Big Fighters Tournament" and fanservice-laden trips to the pool and the hotsprings to consider? Music is good enough to indicate "Wow, this is a fight!", but not great--strangely enough, I really dug the 80s-esque opener, "Drivin' through the Night."
For what it is, Ikki Tousen is a great anime if you want some titillation and the chance to see hot girls lose their clothes before losing the fight, but by all critical and general-appeal standards, it isn't really worth watching.
|Ikki Tousen: Great Guardians (TV)||Decent|
|Ikki-Tousen: Dragon Destiny (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Immoral Sisters (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Immoral Sisters 2 (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Immoral Sisters: Blossoming (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Infinite Ryvius (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Infinite Stratos (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Inmu (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Inmu 2 (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|(The) Invisible Stud (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Ippatsu Kiki Musume (TV)||Not really good|
|Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Irresponsible Captain Tylor (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Irresponsible Captain Tylor (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Is This a Zombie? (TV)||Very good|
|Isshoni Sleeping: Sleeping with Hinako (OAV)||Weak||I rarely use the fast forward button when watching an anime for the first time (except on recycled mecha / Magical Girl transformations), but this one had me hitting the "skip forward 20 seconds" key for most of its duration. Whatever value can be had in Sleeping with Hinako can be found in less than 10 minutes of its 45-minute runtime.|
|Itadaki no Hecatetan (special)||Good||For now, the last cute chibi-fied special featuring Shakugan no Shana characters. Also features some of the villains in their quieter moments. Contains semi-spoiler content for the later parts of the series, so avoid watching it before finishing episode 24.|
|Itazura na Kiss (TV)||Very good|
|Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Jinki:Extend (TV)||Weak||To paraphrase Bakura from Yu-gi-oh! The Abridged Series, "This show is a load of bollocks." It's not often that I get Biblical or British when criticizing a series, but Jinki: Extend managed to inspire that kind of reaction. In a way, J:E is a goldmine of wasted potential, as it had the chance to be a rare series about female mecha pilots and not mainly based around fanservice. (As opposed to the likes of Gravion.) Actually, there was a fair amount of fanservice in J:E, and I welcomed it because it provided enough eyecandy to distract my mind from the needlessly time-skipping storyline and the battles that appeared to have no motivation or resolution, other than some bullshit "lost love" jealousy that got tacked on at the last moment. Seriously, time-skipping between 1988 and 1991? It may as well have been a skip between January and July for all the apparent differences. Rumbling Hearts knew how to pull off timeskips; the characters actually looked and acted distinctly depending on what time era was being shown. J:E could've at least extended us the courtesy of putting "Place: Time" captions at key scene changes, but noooo, apparently the creators expected everyone watching it to be intimately familiar with the manga (which, being one of ADV's manga licenses, is something we're never going to see legally in English). I think Hitokirishadow said it best in a response to ANN's review of the second DVD volume:
"[Jinki: Extend] isn't like Eva, chock full of religious and psychological references for which outside research can be justified to an extent. Barring situations like that, a series (or anything else) should not require Internet research to comprehend or enjoy. This series was truly a mess. "
Sure, the girls were cute, the mecha looked cool (not too many 2D/3D mismatch moments), but still...what happened to Shizuka? What happened with Shizuka and Aoba's troubled mother-daughter relationship? (Sure, we find out what happened in the past, but that doesn't excuse the "cliff-dropper" ending of episode 6, wherein a tense fight between them shifts to completely irrelevant content in the next episode and is never revisited.) Does anybody care about those Ancient Jinki that were supposedly a major threat to mankind anymore? How does one blow up an enemy mecha whose pilot had taken a young girl hostage in the cockpit, only to have that young girl fall safely into your mecha's caring hand? Bollocks, I tell you, just bollocks. Your options if you want to preserve your sanity: never mind the bollocks, and watch J:E for some periphery appeal element (cute girls, cool mechs, beloved voice actors), or just skip it entirely.
|Juden Chan (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|K-ON! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|K-ON! Season 2 (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Kaette Kita Court no Naka no Tenshi-tachi (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Kagihime Monogatari - Eikyuu Alice Rondo (TV)||Good||Weird and wonderful in the way that only Kaishaku anime can be. The "there can be only one" tournament format is nothing new, but the "all girls have story pages inside them" and metaphorical key-rape concepts are innovative enough. As with some other Kaishaku works, forbidden love plays a part here, in the form of a love triangle between twin siblings and the younger sister's crazed lesbian friend. All in all, a hit or miss series, but it hit well enough with me.|
|Kakyūsei 2 (TV)|
|Kaleido Star (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Kaleido Star: Good dayo! Goood!! (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Kaleido Star: Legend of Phoenix - Layla Hamilton Story (OAV)||Masterpiece||*comment pending*|
|Kaleido Star: New Wings Extra Stage (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Kamichu! (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Kämpfer (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kanamemo (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kanokon: The Girl Who Cried Fox (TV)||So-so||O RLY? / O LOLI? / DELICIOUS FLAT CHEST / A FOX IS FINE TOO / IT IS DELICIOUS CAKE, YOU MUST LICK IT / MARSHMALLOW HELL 2THExTREME
Okay, so I was a little reluctant to watch Kanokon at first, due to all the hype, rumors, and talk of oMGb00BZ that had been floating around the online AnimeSphere. But for some reason or another, possibly because I'd watched another ecchi anime from the same fansub group, I took the plunge. I didn't know it at the time, but this series completed the process, begun in the early days of 2007 with Yumeria, of unlocking my inner ecchi demons and fully crossing to the dark side. You see, there are some shows out there that are perfectly safe for the ecchi haters. Some shows require a slight tolerance of ecchi, others a slight appreciation. Farther down the spectrum, shows like Girls Bravo require you to actively like ecchi if you want to enjoy them. And then there's Kanokon, a show that pretty much demands that you love ecchi and be able to enjoy anime exclusively for ecchi and nothing else.
So what do we have in Kanokon, anyway? Well, we have minimal-effort animation by Xebec, we have Mamiko Noto sounding like Mamiko Noto reprising her role as Yukinari Sasaki in Girls Bravo, we have Ayako Kawasumi sounding like Ayako Kawasumi playing a well-endowed, "adventurous" fox spirit, and then we have some actress whom I swore to be a Rie Kugimiya alias playing a lesser-endowed wolf spirit. Naturally there's a love triangle that drives much of the character interaction, some FUSION HA! transformations, some occasional plot involving some other animal spirits and the romantic affairs of other humans at the school, and a couple of down-on-their-luck ninja girls. But the real engine of action and controversy for this series is foxgirl Chizuru's aggressive and rampant propositioning, "smothering," teasing, and general molestation of young-looking and hapless male lead Kouta. This may be "wrong" enough in its own right, but it's even more disturbing to think of how things would play out if the gender roles were reversed. Rizelmine pulled off a comedic gender reversal of the "Naru/Keitarou" dynamic, but I can't see any series trying to have a studly guy slathering his attentions all over an underdeveloped girl.
Alcohol helped me considerably while watching Kanokon, as each episode's efforts to outdo the previous on the ecchi scale just got funnier and funnier. It's easy to put away 4-5 episodes and not realize where the time's gone.
After all, time flies when you're having fun, especially when you're having fun with all the ecchi, fanservice, and innuendo packed into almost every minute of every episode of this series. Seriously, this was the first mainstream anime to provide some scenes for the "desperation/wetting" fetish crowd since Lucy's hallway accident in Elfen Lied. Another thing to keep in mind is that all of my ecchiness impressions of Kanokon come from the TV-broadcast version. Meaning that the DVD-uncensored version, if we apply non-Gonzo logic, is even more "out there," so to speak. I've seen the DVD specials, and those pretty much are hentai by all but the most technical definitions. You have been warned!
Oh yes, and possibly the most awesome thing about this anime is that it was reeling in the streaming numbers among elementary school students, with all of the major genders represented. Man, why couldn't I have had this kind of opportunity back in elementary school, 17-20 years ago?? We might've learned a few things about relationships between men and women, and maybe I wouldn't have grown up with such warped & repressive attitudes on the subject. Back in those days, the best vicarious romantic entertainment we could get out of our computers was naming our virtual spouse in "Oregon Trail" after whatever classmate we happened to like that week.
|Kanokon: The Girl Who Cried Fox (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Kanon (TV 1/2002)||Very good||If you've seen AIR TV, you won't have any trouble accepting the supernatural events that take place in Kanon, but newer viewers may find it too strange to see random magic, etc. in a generally realistic setting and storyline. Some of it, especially Makoto's story, is very "Japanese" in nature, and some people might not like the "2-4 eps per girl" format. Of course, that goes with the territory with dating-sim based anime like Kanon. If you can get into it, some of the stories are quite touching/sad, but if you want a similar experience with more refined artwork, go for AIR TV.|
|Kanon (TV 2/2006)||Excellent||Top 30 #13; see comment in top 30|
|Kanon Kazahana (special)||Good||Maybe I should rewatch Kanon Kazahana, as I had to fight to stay awake (Sunday afternoon after a convention), but that can't be a good sign. Provides an epilogue/additional conclusion to Kanon, but for some reason doesn't really capture the mood of the series. That's sort of how I evaluate specials/movies/extra episodes, but maybe that's a bit too stringent.|
|Karas (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Karin (TV)||Good||Perhaps my favorite vampire anime, probably because it has more in common with cutesy romantic comedies than dark gory thrillers. To make things more fun, Karin discards or distorts many conventions of vampire lore (such as the effects of crosses, garlic, and stakes, "Anyone would die if you drove a stake through their heart") and sets up an "interspecies" love story, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. The mood of Karin is light, funny, and laced with ample fanservice, pun intended. Side characters are memorable and should offer something for everyone, from the suave charm of Ren, to the Gothic Lolita goodness of Anju, to the all-out insanity of Winner Sinclair, who is easily the greatest "wacky foreign transfer student" since Mio Hio from D.N. Angel. The non-character artwork isn't too impressive, though credit is due for the distinctive take on nosebleeds. Karin is also rife with pretty much every cliched anime reaction, and many events have a by-the-book feel. Still, I loved the balance of etchi, cuteness, comedy, romance, fantasy, and some serious drama that the series offers, and the ending was perfectly adequate for a series of this nature. Just be on the lookout for the episode that seems designed to offend & disturb Karin's target audience.|
|Kasimasi - Girl Meets Girl (TV)||Good||Takes a silly premise, and does some things right, some things wrong. Not really wrong, but Kashimashi eventually becomes a typical love triangle with the lead, the childhood friend, and the "unobtainable" crush at school. That doesn't mean that the journey isn't worth it, though. KM is at its best when it's showing Hazumu adjusting to the realities of being female, but those moments diminish as the show goes on. External comedy is added to the mix by alien antics and some annoying repeated lines/gags involving a female teacher, who unfortunately doesn't reach the level of lewd entertainment of Shikijou-sensei from Mahoromatic. While the method and results of the conclusion may be unappealing to some, it's a reasonably complete ending for a 12-episode series.
KM is drawn in a soft, pleasing, "feminine" style, which means cute girls, cute uniforms, flowers, and maybe a few hints of fanservice. It's rather interesting that they picked an already-feminine boy to become a girl, in contrast to series like Tenshi na Konamaiki. So, despite the issues with the lesbian love triangle, there's still enough gender-role commentary to hold some interest. I'll have to check out the manga, which comes out later this year.
|Kasimasi - Girl Meets Girl (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kateikyōshi no Onee-san The Animation - H no Hensachi Agechaimasu (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Kaze no Stigma (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Keitai Shoujo (ONA)||Bad||One of the most absolutely pointless things I've ever had the displeasure of experiencing, in any medium. It's not outright offensively bad enough to garner a worse rating; it's simply bland and far too short for any character development or anything meaningful to happen. There isn't even any fanservice worth looking at, as the artwork is too low-budget to portray highly attractive female characters. There's no time for ecchi situations to develop, either. Overall, there's virtually zero reason for anyone to watch this, ever.|
|Kemeko Deluxe! (TV)||Good|
|Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Key the Metal Idol (OAV)||So-so||You know, I really wanted to like this one more than I did. KtMI looked different from normal, and had good reviews and forum buzz. Maybe it was expectations, but I expected some show about Key's evolution and efforts to break out of her shy shell, make 30,000 friends, and become a singer. Instead, I got a bunch of stories about psychic powers, burly guys controlling giant robots, and people getting ripped apart/tripped out by these robots. Finishing KtMI was a real chore, especially during a 20+ minute scene in episode 14 that has 40 bajillion still shots in a row, with two men talking about a bunch of backstory that would have been useful 10 episodes prior, with nary an animated mouth movement between them.|
|Ki*Me*Ra (OAV)||Awful||*comment pending*|
|Kiddy Grade (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kiki's Delivery Service (movie)||Very good||Cute Miyazaki fare with magic, flght, and a bit of drama; not as epic or expansive as others of his films, but worth watching. I'd have to watch it again to make a full comment on it.|
|Kill Bill Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren (movie segment)||Decent||I assume this entry refers to the anime scenes that form O-ren's flashback scenes. Decent animation, although it's more reminiscient of that Linkin Park video than the typical anime series.|
|Kimagure Orange Road (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Kimagure Orange Road (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning (movie)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Kimagure Orange Road: The Movie||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kimi ni Todoke - From Me to You (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season (TV)||Good|
|Kimikiss pure rouge (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World (movie)||Masterpiece||*comment pending*|
|Kino's Journey (TV)||Masterpiece||While it may not be for everybody, I couldn't find anything wrong with Kino's Journey. For people who don't mind slow-paced anime with episodic plots, KJ is the perfect "maturity fix" for when average anime makes one's eyes roll. While the talking motorcycle may recall memories of Knight Rider, Hermes' presence doesn't detract one bit, and provides a perfect sounding board for all the elements of philosophy, morality, and politics that Kino offers or encounters during her travels. And while there is a definite story arc in Kino's life evolution (for instance, speaking more like a girl during flashbacks, and more like a boy later on), the chronology of most episodes is interchangeable, reinforcing the series' ideal of being on a journey for the sake of the journey, rather than reaching a destination. The settings are so widely varied as to instantly inspire curiosity and keep the viewer wondering what lies beyond the horizons of the next episode.
And while you'd expect an episodic series to quietly shuffle off the stage at the end, the last episode of Kino's Journey is an exceptionally powerful story. (I won't spoil anything, see it for yourself.) As long as you don't require high-adrenaline action (though there are some gunfighting scenes) or h0Tt bAb3Z, I highly recommend Kino's Journey. If you don't mind the slow-paced, serious types of anime, I don't think there's any reason not to watch it.
|Kino's Travels: Life Goes On (movie)||Masterpiece||Why, ADV, why? Why do you make all the Kino's Journey fans seek out other ways of seeing this movie? Okay, it's not really a movie, it's more like a slightly-longer episode of of the series, only it provides some of Kino's background and her training with her Master. As is often the case in the TV series, a crisis brews up and Kino has to resort to gunplay, but this movie shows Kino grappling with those decisions for the first time. Highly recommended to watch after the series, I just wish I could own it on DVD.|
|Kirameki Project (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kirara (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Kiss×sis (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Knights of Ramune (OAV)||Weak||I never thought shameless ecchi mixed with some mecha and sci-fi could be this boring, but Knights of Ramune managed to prove me wrong.|
|Kodocha (TV)||Excellent||Kodocha was one of the series to take North American fandom by storm back in the days of VHS fansubbing. It didn't do so well when Funimation finally brought it to DVD in 2005, but I can still see why it captured the hearts of so many fans. When Kodocha wants to be funny, it's very funny. And when Kodocha wants to be dramatic, it's very dramatic. Much of the humor comes from main character Sana Kurata, who is a never-ending source of high-speed rants, improvised songs, and general insanity. When Excel Saga came out a few years later, Sana must've been Excel's main rival for word output per second. Well, her and that Micro Machines guy. Sana's main foil, rival, and love interest, Akito Hayama, provides a good chunk of Kodocha's dramatic content. Of course, Sana herself is no slouch in that department. The slow progress of the main romance over 102 episodes can be frustrating, but luckily Kodocha has plenty of wacky, amusing, and compelling side characters, and the show can easily switch between main-cast focus and secondary-cast focus it wants to add some variety or provide some non-manga filler.
Much of the drama in Kodocha comes from the tension between children, adults, and children trying to become adults, as well as family issues. The family drama sometimes treads close to overblown soap opera territory, but luckily the writing, music, and voice acting in emotional scenes are good enough to avoid taking things over the top.
Or at least the Japanese voice acting, anyway. I can't say too much about Funimation's dub of the first 51 episodes, as I only sampled a few eps here and there. I didn't care for the name pronunciations, some of the writing was changed for censor-type reasons in early episodes, and the secondary characters didn't pull off the dramatic scenes that well. Still, they certainly tried their best, and I imagine I'll check out the dub for a second watching. On the other hand, I also wouldn't mind a Super Gals!-style sub-only release from Nozomi of the second season -- the presently-available HKDVD-rips just don't do the show justice. Even if you just stick with what Funimation's released, you'll still get a good experience -- the second half bogs down with an annoying new character, a long "Sana shooting a movie on location" arc, and an even longer New York arc. I can't remember who said it, but they were right in saying that "between this show and Marmalade Boy, New York is where good shoujo go to die." Fortunately, things pick up once the cast reunites in Japan. The ending isn't all that conclusive as the manga was still ongoing, but it's still powerful enough to make things seem worthwhile.
|Kodomo no Jikan (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kodomo no Jikan Nigakki (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kodomo no Jikan: Anata ga Watashi ni Kureta Mono (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Koi Kaze (TV)||Excellent||Top 30 #30: see comment in Top 30|
|Koi Koi Seven (TV)||Weak||For now, let me direct you all to the full review I wrote elsewhere. [comment pending, sort of]|
|Koihime (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Koihime Musō (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Koihime Musō (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kokoro Library (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kokoro Library - Communication Clips (special)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku o - Yōkoso Tsugumi Ryōhe (TV)|
|Kujibiki Unbalance (OAV)||Decent||Relatively pointless, only worthwhile if you know and appreciate the cliches of "otaku-targeted" anime. Contains episodes 1, 21, and 25 of the KujiUn anime that the Genshiken characters watch from time to time, and watching this OVA gives a little more context and insights to the scenes found in Genshiken. As a standalone though, there's not much satisfaction aside from amusing yourself with all the character archetypes and stereotypes presented. The weak-willed male lead, the childhood friend, the dignified Student Council President, the tsundere rival girl, and so forth. Maybe when Media-Blasters releases the twelve-episode TV series (never finished in fansubs), we'll get a more coherent KujiUn experience.|
|Kujibiki Unbalance (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Kujira no Chōyaku - Glassy Ocean (movie)||Very good||Glassy Ocean is a hallmark of experimental/independent anime, on the lines of Hoshi no koe. While the animation won't impress anyone used to modern standards, it's good enough for what it is. The story of Glassy Ocean...well, it's more not there than there, as the movie presents a strange world of frozen time and a frozen ocean, where spherical water droplets grace the sky and a whale's leap takes half a day. Very worth watching if you want something out of the ordinary, because it's harder to get more out of the ordinary than this.|
|Kurau: Phantom Memory (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Kyo no Gononi (OAV)||Very good||When it comes to Today in Class 5-2, the answer is "yes." The question being "Is this Loli?" If the idea of fifth-graders getting into classic anime etchi situations bothers you, then stay far away. The strange thing is, veteran viewers will probably see these situations coming a mile away, but there isn't a loss of enjoyment. Creepiness aside, C5-2 looks great, truly deserving of the "OVA-quality" label. Many elaborate facial expressions that go beyond the characters' ages, fluid motion everywhere, and I have to hand it to them, these girls look attractive. Attractive, that is, as long as you keep the "they're eleven, damnit!" thoughts on the back burner. In general, the situations are amusing, thanks to some expert comedic timing and sheer randomness. And you'll never look at collarbones the same way again. There's also a relatively cute "childhood friends becoming more?" storyline connecting things together, thereby offsetting the Azumanga-like "4 mini-episodes per episode" structure. So I'd say C5-2 is worth watching (and a quick 1-disc purchase if it comes over here), but be warned, you will feel dirty for liking this one.|
|Kyōran Kazoku Nikki (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|L/R: Licensed by Royalty (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Labyrinth of Flames (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Ladies versus Butlers! (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Lamune (TV)||Decent||Lamune is a pretty typical dating-sim-based anime that would sell roughly 16 copies if it were ever brought over here. In a "startlingly original" setup, we have Kenji and his childhood friend, Nanami, who go about their high school lives as ordinary friends. Who's betting that they might realize that they have some kinds of "Friends+" feelings for each other. Of course, other girls from the game make appearances, and you get the crazy cousin, the overworked senpai, the painfully shy classmate. However, Lamune is not a harem, as most of the girls recognize who "should" wind up together and adjust accordingly.
Part of the charm of Lamune is the summery, seaside setting, and the relaxed, innocent mood that everything takes place in. Every episode features a flashback to Kenji and Nanami's past, many involving Kenji using hermit crabs to tease and play pranks, so at least the series gives more exposition than "these two are childhood friends." Fanservice is sparse compared to harem-styled anime in this genre, although one scene in the first episode could be described as "unintentionally kinky." On the technical side, nothing stands out as extremely good or extremely bad (aside from the grating, Engrish-packed ED song), so anyone who likes/tolerates dating-sim anime in general can get value from Lamune.
|Last Exile (TV)||Excellent||A great achievement in CG animation, with a wonderfully inventive world setup and technology. For once, we get heroes who are bold and determined, rather than a Shinji-esque "can I really do this?" type. Much like Scrapped Princess, the world of Last Exile is fully created for this particular series, and not based on any other anime models. Techies and mil-geeks will love the airships and their fights, and anyone can appreciate the awe-inspiring visuals of some of the "villain" vessels. If you're bored with average school/love/comedy or slice-of-life anime, Last Exile is the perfect remedy to show just how epic anime can be.|
|Last Order Final Fantasy VII (OAV)||Good||What Final Fantasy on the anime screen could have been. Although there were a few inconsistencies with the game, LO has decent animation, and is worthwhile just to see FF7 characters again and to see a game sidestory that's easy to miss if you're not looking for it. If you haven't played FF7, you probably won't get much out of Last Order except a few spoilers.|
|Leave it to Kero! Theatrical Version (movie)||Decent||Kind of reminds me of the Pikachu adventures shown before some of the Pokemon movies, though better. Kero and Spinel have an epic battle over confectionery goods, with chases, magic, etc. Good watching for Card Captor Sakura fans, but probably won't make much sense otherwise.|
|Leave it to Piyoko! (OAV)||So-so||Short spinoff of the Di gi Charat universe involving evil character Piyako and her cohorts' plans to kidnap princess Dejiko. The main attractions to this OVA are the cute Broccoli designs and the sentence-ending tags common in this franchise. Specifically ~pyo for Piyoko. Otherwise, it's the usual bunch of random sometimes-cute, sometimes-gross misadventures, and Piyoko & co. don't have nearly the amount of scene-carrying power that Dejiko and her friends do. I don't even remember most of the events too well, except for one episode featuring tents that led to alternate dimensions. Even at 15 minutes long, the episodes were hard to sit through sometimes. Unless you're a hardcore DGC fan, I recommend avoiding this one -- the original series is good enough to know the franchise for knowledge's sake.|
|Leda - The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|(The) Legend of Black Heaven (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Legend of Crystania - The Motion Picture||So-so|
|Legend of Lemnear (OAV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Like Mother, Like Daughter (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Lime-iro Senkitan (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Lime-iro Senkitan: The South Island Dream Romantic Adventure (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! (TV)||Good|
|Living for the Day After Tomorrow (TV)||Excellent||Literally translated as "The Direction of the Day After Tomorrow," Asatte no Houkou is another entry in the "Magical Slice-of-Life" genre. It may seem like a "Freaky Friday" ripoff, but in this case the child and adult switching bodies are relative strangers, not mother and daughter. Like other body-switching stories, this leads to some amusing fish-out-of-water comedy, but those situations are minimalized in favor of showing how people might really react to that predicament and to the notion that the change might be permanent. Along the way, AnH raises some profound ideas about children's desire to grow up, adults' desire to return to childhood, and the nature of friendship/romance/family. It's not a flashy or exciting series, but for the story and the target audience, it doesn't need to be. Animation is fairly minimal with lots of stills and washed-out watercolor backgrounds, but character designs are well-done and sometimes strangely attractive, i.e. adult Karada and some of the female side characters. Be warned, this is another one of those slow-paced, "nothing happens" kinds of anime, but imo it's very rewarding in the end.|
|Living Sex Toy Delivery (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Locke the Superman (movie)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Looking Up At The Half-Moon (TV)||Very good||Unfortunately, it's only 6 episodes long, but this series, also known as "Hantsuki," gives a powerful emotional ride over a short period of time. Hantsuki is a hospital-based love drama that's a little more mature than the average anime, between a guy hospitalized for bedrest and a girl in frail health. Extra comedy comes from Akiko, the world-weary, sardonic, and violent nurse, and we also get complications from an irascible and boozing doctor. The OP is quite catchy, and Hantsuki gets extra credit for using "Night on the Galactic Railroad" as a plot point. (Warning, episode 3 of this series contains spoilers for NotGR, and vice versa, in a way.) The character designs reflect a more "mid-00s" sensibility, with characters looking much more Japanese than in anime of the past. The OP/ED are great mood-setters, and the overall lesson is one of "what can we do in this fleeting interval called a lifetime?", or in this case, of an anime series.|
|Lost Chapter of the Stars - Birth (special)||Decent||Tells a short story involving Lafiel's parents on their rather eventful honeymoon. Not especially great or essential to the ~Of the Stars series, but it provides some perspective that leads into Lafiel's first meeting with Jinto.|
|Lost Universe (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Love Hina (TV)||Very good||Top 30 #06: see comment in Top 30|
|Love Hina Again (OAV)||Good||You have to approach Love Hina Again with forgiveness in your heart--after all, they did condense 3 volumes of manga (10,11,12) into 3 OVA episodes, necesitating a few shortcuts. Still, LHA is a sufficient ending for the animated version of Love Hina, giving each character a chance to shine and go to war with Kanako, the adopted sister and longtime admirer of Keitarou. We even see Moé the doll again, which means some touching scenes, and the "final battle" Naru goes through in the annex is exciting enough, dealing with each of her rivals in turn. If you want to get a conclusion, but don't have $140 to drop on manga (because you *will* feel compelled to collect it all), LH Again is the way to go.|
|Love Hina Final (special)||Weak||Ranks highly in any list of "most deceptive titles," but not anywhere else. This is nothing more than a recap of Love Hina TV and a re-introduction to the characters. Possibly created to drum up interest for the Japanese home video release or the second season that never happened. Even if you're a completist, don't strain yourself trying to track this special down or lose any sleep if you haven't seen it. You aren't missing anything at all.|
|Love Hina Spring Special - I Wish Your Dream||Decent||I think for many people, the Love Hina Spring Special is the weak point of the TV series. The leaf bikins and abundance of fanservice are inevitable, but much of the action, fighting, explosions, etc. seem forced in for no apparent reason; none of it is in the manga. Aside from a short conversation between Naru and Shinobu in the "Again" OVAs, you could ignore this special's existance and not suffer for it. Speaking of suffering, the "turtle singing" scene holds the dishonor of causing my greatest embarrassment as an anime fan, thanks to a random "normal" walking in at just the wrong time.|
|Love Hina X'mas Special - Silent Eve||Very good||In contrast to most specials, which are just extra service for dedicated fans of a series, LH Christmas could appeal to people who hate the constant harem comedy and fanservice of the TV series. Expanding on manga material in a positive way, this special advances the Naruto-Keitarou relationship over a snowy urban backdrop. Shinobu plays a key role, keeping Keitarou company yet sacrificing her own feelings when the moment demands it. The insert song at the end is very appopriate and well-timed to the action, and facilitates a touching ending. (Episode 25, also included on the disc, is unnecessary, though it would have made a decent start to the cancelled second season.)|
|Love Is the Number of Keys (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Love Love? (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Love Position - The Legend of Halley (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Love Selection ~THE ANIMATION~ (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions (TV)|
|Lovedol ~Lovely Idol~ (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Loveless (TV)||Decent||I once swore that I wouldn't watch any anime under the category that is (mis-) labeled by many as shounen-ai, yaoi, or BL. But, I caught some of Loveless at a convention viewing room, and it was okay. Someday, I should make an effort to learn about this area of the fandom that appeals to so many girls, and I suppose I could survive Loveless.|
|Lucky Star (TV)||Excellent||Almost everything that anyone's ever said about Lucky Star is true. It gets better after the 4th episode, it is a show about nothing, a show heavily-laden with otaku and nerd culture humor, a show with no plot or higher purpose, and a show with tons of moe and girls tailored to any conceivable taste. It is not, however, a loli show. Certain reviewers on this very site have gone into labored tirades about how "the girls in Clannad are children. THEY ARE CHILDREN. Clannad is infantilizing women, and therefore it sucks and you're a horrible person for liking it." No, the girls in Clannad are not children, they're perfectly normal teenagers by anime standards. Now, the girls in Lucky Star are in fact drawn strangely enough to look much younger than they are, so that's a valid criticism. (Same with Manabi Straight.) I myself never thought they looked like children, more like gashapon dolls. And it's all moot, as Lucky Star never sexualizes its character to any significant degree. I'm thinking that those calling Lucky Star "pedobait" need to put down their Lonely Kagamin doujinshis for a moment and actually watch the series.
Now that that's out of the way, on to the series itself. First thing is that LS requires a very high level of otaku-savviness if you want to get the most enjoyment out of it. There's constant references to other anime, various manga, anime theme tunes (24 different EDs!) other Kyoto Animation productions, other roles played by the voice actors (like with Aya Hirano, not just to Haruhi, but also some more obscure shows like Angel Tales), and other Japanese cultural tidbits. Reference notes can help, but jokes aren't as funny when they have to be explained. If you like these elements and these forms of comedy, chances are you'll like Lucky Star. If you don't, then you probably won't.
"Luckily," there's still some humor to be found in the character interactions. At the center of it all is Konata Izumi, the picture-perfect otaku girl that we'd all love to know. One key to Konata is her imposition of the world of otaku over the normal world of her friends, some of whom fight back, and others of whom don't get it. It's a meeting of minds between Konata and the audience: we understand Konata's means of interacting with the world, and laugh at the others for not quite keeping up.
Other characters brought in later in the series serve to lampoon specific fandom traits, like Yutaka (the pure personification of moe), Hiyori (yaoi/yuri fangirl), and Patricia (overeager and sometimes clueless foreign fans). There's also a steady supply of quotable/"screenshot-able" lines, many coming courtesy of the genius that is Strato of a.f.k.. But the Bandai release is equally worthwhile, as the dub captures the characters quite well, and the subtitles don't suck like the Haruhi ones.
With Lucky Star being a show about nothing, with only a 4-panel comic to work from, you can't expect much conclusion or finality. Or even that much character development. However, we do get a school festival final arc, replete with friendship, nerdy banter and dancing. And just before that, episode 22 delivers the emotional sucker-punch to end all emotional sucker-punches. After 21 episodes of playing off Konata's dead mother as an excuse for her father-inspired otakudom, LS delivers a simple yet devastatingly effective montage of Kanata and Souichirou's past, all set to soaring trumpet riffs that wring out every bit of happiness and sadness from the images. If this was done in a dramatic show, it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary, but seeing it in a comedy makes it all the more striking.
|Lucky Star OVA||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Lunar Legend Tsukihime (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Maburaho (TV)||Not really good||Maburaho is one of those series that I'd originally placed in "Will Not Finish," but went ahead and watched anyway against better judgement. The problem with Maburaho isn't a surplus of jiggle/harem antics and a surfeit of story. The main problem is that it's got an R-rated premise with a PG-rated execution. These girls want Kazuki's genes the old-fashioned way, which opens up all kinds of kinky fetishistic possibilities. But instead of capitalizing on this concept, Maburaho embraces the tired-and-true "Violent Retribution for Accidental Infringement" system, which is common enough to be a category over on AniDB. The problem here is that in theory, these girls should want Kazuki to get aroused when they get into standard anime ecchi situations, like getting a peek up their skirts or walking in on them bathing. Yet they still dish out punishment straight out of the Naru Narusegawa playbook. (The buxom blonde bombshell Kuruiko Kazetsubaki isn't so bad with this, but she doesn't find success either.) Of course, it could also be pointed out that most real straight male teenaged males would jump at the chance to impregnate willing females on a no-strings-attached basis, but I guess I'm used to anime lead males not fully exploiting their convenient harems.
Aside from not living up to its ecchi potential, Maburaho stumbles badly in the story department as well. One it's established that Kazuki has limited uses of magic remaining, it's a foregone conclusion that some shocking turn of events will force him to winnow that spellcount down. And when Kazuki's
Sadly, the ending that does develop makes the incredible cop-out ending of His & Her Circumstances feel complete and satisfying. At least with HHC, you might've known there was a lot more manga out there and that there wasn't a complete ending in store. This show, otoh, manages to pull the rug out from under everything worthwhile it had developed in the second half and
I'd like to say, "If you don't care for ecchi/harem comedy, avoid this show." But since it barely even delivers on those fronts, I'll need to revise that to, "If you don't like cockteases in real life, you won't like this ultimate cocktease of an anime."
Sidenote: Neither the relatively unknown Japanese cast or the stalwart ADV regulars could do anything impressive with the material they had. Bless Tiffany Grant for putting together the ADR script that she did, but nothing short of old-school Fosterization could've rescued this stinker. The only reason I rate it as high as "Not Really Good" is that the midpoint drama drew a few tears and hence a modicum of respect from me.
|Macross Frontier (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Macross Plus (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Macross Zero (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Madlax (TV)||So-so||If everyone had a copy of Madlax, sales of sleeping pills just might collapse. Done by the same studio as Noir, Madlax seeks to weave a story of mystery, intrigue, and of course, "girls with guns," though "girl with guns" may be more accurate. On technical grounds, Madlax exhibits more advanced Bee Train symptoms than Noir -- we get some action-packed fight scenes (though most are of Madlax effortlessly and predictably triumphing over her enemies), but even more slow camera pans over still images set to soporific Yuki Kajiura techno-opera. Not to mention the repeated flashbacks and repeated dialogue about a bunch of supernatural mumbo-jumbo.
Granted, the supernatural was present the whole time, but it felt brushed aside for so long that when it resurfaced towards the end, it felt less like a coherent plot element, and more like deux ex machina to extricate the characters from the corner in which the writers had trapped them. Despite some moments of beauty and a few scenes that worked, emotionally speaking, I found myself not really caring about the characters, the plot, or anything else except the number of episodes I had left before it was over. There are certainly worse anime out there than Madlax, but it just didn't connect with me or fit my tastes. I do need to watch that suck puppet video, though.
|Madox-01 (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Magic Knight Rayearth (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Magic Knight Rayearth 2 (TV 2)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Magic User's Club (OAV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Magical Girl Pretty Sammy (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Magical Kanan (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Magical Kanan Summer Special (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Magical Meow Meow Taruto (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Magical Project S (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (TV)||Excellent||I saw a bit of MSAA years ago, but after watching a lot of anime since then, I watched Abenobashi and absolutely loved it. Coming from Gainax, you can expect scads of random, outrageous, bizarre humor / animation, on the lines of FLCL and His & Her Circumstances. If you like parody/referential movies, then you can enjoy MSAA, which parodies fantasy anime/RPGs, space/giant robot anime, Magical Girl anime, film noir, dating sims, war stories, Hollywood movies, and more. (With some references to Excel Saga, it even parodies parody anime!) Through it all, there's actually an ongoing story and a reason to the madness, and a couple of episodes break the "parody of the week" format to develop the actual plot. MSAA might be too esoteric for those new to anime, but for veterans, it's comedy gold. I was especially laughing at episode 8, since I knew all the dating game references, even the obscure ones like Sentimental Grafiti. Make sure to get the original 4-disc release, as the AD-Vid Notes are invaluable, and the other disc extras are a lot of fun as well.|
|Magical Twilight (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Magical Witch Punie-chan (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Magician's Academy (TV)||Good|
|Magikano (TV)||Good||I try not to discuss specific fansubs in these comments, but imo Magikano necessitates it. Mk was subbed by AnimeUniverse, who had previously been my group of choice for Shuffle! and Hanbun no tsuki ga noboru sora. Most of what I'd heard in the fansub scene about Mk was negative, as in "It's just some dumb comedy with one guy, a bunch of girls, and random magic." I only DLed it because AnimeU had subbed it, and it languished on my HD unwatched for a year or so. Then I attended ADV's panel at ACen '07, and the announcement for Magikano came up at the end, almost as an, "Oh yeah, we did have one more title" afterthought. Given John Ledford's remarks about sticking to A-rank titles, I had to wonder, "What did ADV see in this piece of junk?" So I decided to watch it and see if it was any good.
And by most standards, Mk is not great anime. It sets out to spoof general anime clichés and harem comedies and does a reasonable job of it, but it can't avoid falling into the same pitfalls as the genre it lampoons. The self-aware infomercials are classic, though. And it doesn't even have great visuals to make up for the plot -- the characters are in an "ultra-distorted" mode practically all the time, so there isn't much fanservice value. Plus, things just go downhill when the more serious magical plot kicks in, on the way to a very "wtf was that?" ending.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed Mk quite a bit and plan on picking up the DVDs. Part of this goes back to the fansubs; AnimeU takes a lot of heat in the fansubbing scene for their subtitles that add a lot of Americanization, opportunistic jokes, and "color" that isn't present in ultra-faithful, ultra-literal translations. For this kind of series, AnimeU's subs made a rather mediocre series much, much better. I can only hope ADV does as well, though it will likely be in the English dub, not the subtitles. Here's hoping for an irreverant Foster-ized madcap adaptation.
|Magnetic Rose (movie)||Masterpiece||*comment pending*|
|Mahoraba ~Heartful days~ (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Mahoromatic - Automatic Maiden (TV)||Good||I know it looks like another fanservice maid show, and while that statement has truth to it, Mahoromatic does have some serious parts to reward the intrepid fan--mainly about family, loss, war, and the "warrior mentality"; similar to the Area 88 OVAs, it asks the question whether a fighter really can resume a peaceful life. Even the "school ghost story" episode (5) strikes some sentimental chords, despite being filler material. The ending of the first series is good, but the second season will be necessary to view.|
|Mahoromatic: I'm Home! (special)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful (TV)||Good||The addition of Minawa as the "younger sister" / all-around klutz girl is questionable, and leads to some moments that occasion the rolling eyes smiley, but her existance is also a philosophical quandary that makes them worth sitting through. The standard fanservice/maid comedy continues, but once you get past episode 9, you're in for serious action and drama, with an emotional/touching second-to-last episode and a confusing/controversial final episode. You need some tolerance for skin and bouncing breasts, but Mahoromatic as a whole rises above its negative parts.|
|Mahoromatic: Summer Special||Decent||This occurrs, story-wise, roughly around episode 7 or 8 of the second season, "Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful." The Summer Special isn't too much more than a fanservice treat for fans of the series, so if the etchiness in the TV show puts you off, avoid this one. Nonetheless, it is very funny and action-packed (even if a tad bit unrealistic, but hey, it's Gainax), so if you do enjoy Mahoromatic, it's worth a watch. Maybe after the end of the second season, if you know what I mean.|
|Mahou Sensei Negima! OVA Haru||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Mahou Sensei Negima! OVA Natsu||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Maid in Heaven (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Maid Sama! (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Maid Service (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|(The) Maiden Diaries (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Maiden of Deliverance (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Majikoi - Oh! Samurai Girls (TV)|
|Maple Colors (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Maria Holic (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Maria Holic Alive (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Maria Watches Over Us (TV)||Excellent|
|Maria Watches Over Us 3rd Season (OAV)|
|Marmalade Boy (TV)||Good||To justify 76 episodes, there's always a new character, a new revelation, or a new twist waiting around the bend to create more shoujo angst for Miki and the rest of the characters. Marmalade Boy is the best example I know of a "reverse harem anime"--Miki isn't particularly smart or attractive, nor does she have a clasically appealing personality; and yet, numerous guys fall in love with her, challenging her to stick to what is, has been, and will be her choice. Just remember: the eye-catches never lie. Trust me. I finally finished Marmalade Boy, making it the longest series I've completed, and while it ended well, I was rolling my eyes at numerous points in the last few episodes. The ending was among the most definitive I've ever seen in anime, just as much as a 19th-century novel. Unfortunately, the DVD subtitles have numerous errors, omissions, and other issues (outlined at animeondvd) that can detract from the series. But for all its flaws, MB was a great ride, and a good watch for any lovers of romance/drama anime. Or maybe it's worthwhile just for the eye-cady / pretty-boys, who knows?|
|Marmalade Boy Movie||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Marriage (OAV)||So-so||I can contend with a straight face that Graduation has some historical significance in the annals of non-hentai dating-sim adaptions of the 1990s. However, the same cannot be said for Marriage, which features the characters from Graduation in their mid-20s. Marriage takes all the bad stereotypes, silly attitudes, and social awkwardness associated with Japanese romantic relationships and combines them into two excruciating, painful-to-watch episodes. While this OVA isn't terrible, it is just plain depressing. It's not the same kind of depression that you'd get from supernatural dramas like AIR, soap operatic emotional rollercoasters like Rumbling Hearts, end-of-the-world dystopias like Texhnolyze, or raw exposés of the human condition like Now and Then, Here and There. No, Marriage brings with it its own special blend of depression: the soul-crushing notion that somewhere, someplace, love, dating, courtship, romance, and marriage do or ever did resemble the events that just unfolded on your screen over the past hour. And the instructional/research segments, where they trot out purported statistics, just add injury to insult. If I wanted to watch educational anime about marriage, I'd rather watch Step-Up Love Story and skip straight to the good stuff. Everything else about this OVA is woefully mid-90s. The hairstyles and colors, the music, the character designs...heck, even the noticeably low-budget Magical Girl anime, Wedding Peach, looked better than this, and so far is a better bridal-themed anime.
I think what I most remember about Marriage is that I used it as a test of my "anime comprehension speed," by watching it subbed on my computer while kicking off a rewatch of Stellvia dubbed on my TV at the same time. Stellvia was the better choice. By far.
|Martian Successor Nadesico (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #14: see comment in Top 30|
|Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture - Prince of Darkness||Not really good||If Martian Successor: Nadesico were a dating-sim game, then the movie, Prince of Darkness, would have to be the "Bad End." It claims to be action/mecha oriented, but spends most of its time collecting up the characters again. And, speaking of these characters, most of them are heavily changed from the TV series, and you hardly see two key characters at all. I really can't give a reason not to avoid Prince of Darkness, unless you're desperately hungry for more Nadesico and can't find the Gekiganger OVAs.|
|Mask of Zeguy (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Master of Martial Hearts (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Mayo Chiki! (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Mayoi Neko Overrun! (TV)||Decent||Stray Cat Overrun! is what I like to call otaku cotton candy. It has all the right character types and all the right situations to be squarely in line with numerous other shows of its genre. Between the emotionless catgirl, tsundere childhood friend, hopeless loser male friend duo, ridiculously wealthy girl, ninja maids, a busty carefree (not blood-related) big sister, and of course one perfectly average male lead to rule them all and in the darkness bind them. And starting with the panty-flashing wakeup call at the very beginning of episode 1, most of the situations follow comfortable, familiar paths. The school festival, the town festival, the beach trip with the "stuck on remote island" conclusion, the trip to the mountains complete with taking shelter from the rain with an unknown girl... it's all there. SCO! may not be playing any new tunes, but damned if it isn't hitting all the right notes.
And yet there are some treats outside the realm of predictability, in part thanks to the "different director every episode" approach. The music-video-shooting episode offers some over-the-top displays of wealth, and the Jenga tournament offers up every possible kind of hilarious "What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?" moment, similar to various other tabletop-game-based series. The random non sequitur mecha episode adds some much-needed hot-blooded flavor to the proceedings.
Sadly, like many shows of this nature, Stray Cat Overrun! doesn't have much of a conclusion. Sure, there's some drama involving mysterious catgirl savant Nozomi, but the romantic threads and ultimate fates of the characters are left unresolved. But if you like "otaku anime," there's a good chance you'll like this show in spite of everything. If you don't, then I can only suggest to stay far away. But I've said it elsewhere, and I'll say it again: I would rather have a dozen more shows like SCO! that know exactly what they want to be, than another piece of pretentious, unentertaining dreck like Earth Girl Arjuna. Thankfully, the evolution of the anime industry in the last 10 years has taken things in that direction.
|Maze (TV)||So-so||Part of the value of Maze is its strong "so bad it's good" factor. Between the constant, over-the-top fanservice, 1.5-dimensional supporting cast, etchiness, overpowered magic/mecha combat, and Ranma-esque "hook," Maze covers plenty of familiar ground. Despite all that, it's strangely addictive to watch the conflicts between Male Maze and Woman Maze, and it'll make you want to find out the cause. On the other hand, the early episodes are much more fun, when everything just "is," with no explanation other than "Phantom Light Power." As more secrets of Man Maze are revealed, things become less fun and more creepy, although the explanation of the name "Maze" is quite interesting.
Also, part of the humor requires an understanding of Japanese gendered speech patterns, mainly in the episodes when Female Maze speaks like a man and vice versa. Hearing Kotono Mitsuishi and Sakura Tange as Maze and Mill is also a treat. The animation quality doesn't pass the test of time, and wasn't even that good for its time--shortcuts, loops, inconsistencies, and other errors abound--perhaps they thought the audience would be distracted enough by Solude's breasts and Mill's lolilicious outfit to notice. One bright point is Episode 9, "The Tearful End of an Empire," which features some of the best examples of unbreaking royal spirit and nobility that I've ever seen in anime, and probably won't be surpassed until I get to episode 39 of Twelve Kingdoms.
|Maze (OAV)||So-so||Despite my rating, this OVA is worth a watch, as long as you take nothing, and I mean nothing seriously. Between the gender-changing (normal girl -> perverted boy after dark) and self-referential in-jokes, you'll find plenty to laugh at, even if you're only laughing at all the "so bad it's good" parts.|
|(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #7: see comment in top 30|
|(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV 2009 renewal)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Melody of Oblivion (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Memories (movie)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Memories Off (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Memories Off #5 Togireta Film (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Memories Off 2nd (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Memories off 3.5 - Omoide no Kanata e (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Mermaid Forest (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Metropolis (movie)||Good||Felt like it didn't quite meet its potential, but Metropolis is very much a visual feast, and a good ol' story about humanity, robots, prejudice, intolerance, and the tendency of power to corrupt. A good budget is evident in the background shots and designs of the city, and the CG 2D + 3D graphics generally fit pretty well. For some reason, I wanted them to play "Aeris' Theme" instead of that Ray Charles song at the "letting go" scene, but hey, you can only ask for so much, right?|
|Midnight Sleazy Train (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Midnight Sleazy Train Track 2 (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Midori Days (TV)||Very good||Sure, the laws of physics go out the window when a girl becomes a guy's right hand, but when have those ever mattered in anime? If you can get past that and some eye-rolling etchi parts, Midori Days is a very sweet and funny romantic comedy. The main characters aren't too irritating, and the side characters make good contributions to the story, from the figurine otaku Takamizawa to the precocious elementary school girl Shiori to the endlessly scheming Ayase Takako. For a 13-episode series, the conclusion feels "final," and in general, the weirdness of the original premise is the only major strike against Midori Days. (I also liked seeing the elevated trains throughout the series--it's an interesting background element that sets MD just a bit apart from the average anime.)|
|Minami-ke (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Minami-ke: Betsubara (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Minami-ke: Okaeri (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Minami-ke: Okawari (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Misaki Chronicles (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Mitsudomoe (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Miyori no Mori (special)||Very good||Kind of like Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest: The Anime. Very luscious artwork portraying the beauty and mystery of the forest/rural setting. The story, however, was more compelling in the first half while Miyori was struggling to adjust to her new school and surroundings. The second half turned into more of a typical kids+nature vs. evil corporate development saga. Still worth it for the supernatural creatures that lose nothing to a typical Ghibli outing.|
|Miyuki-chan in Wonderland (OAV)||So-so||One of the first CLAMP manga to be animated, somewhere in the temporal vicinity of Tokyo Babylon and RG Veda. With only two episodes, it's not much more than a random near-pornographic romp through various worlds, tied together by vague Alice in Wonderland themes. It's 1990s ecchi at its purest, complete with funky hair colors to go along with all the bunny girls and lesbianism. Not much of a point, but at least it's fun, unlike a certain other anime franchise based on multiple CLAMP worlds.|
|Mizugi Kanojo: The Animation (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Mizuiro (OAV 2)||Good||Nicely drawn two-part OVA based on a renai game, with animation quality superior to the first (hentai) Mizuiro OVA, from what I understand. It's a cute love story complete with childhood reminiscience and a bit of the supernatural, and evokes happiness, sadness, and that elusive "happy/sad" feeling from the viewers. Unfortunately, viewers who are familiar with Kanon will probably be able to recognize some of the plot "hooks," and it may seem a bit clichéd as a result. Even so, there are many worse ways that you could spend an hour than watching Mizuiro.|
|Mizuiro (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Mobile Fighter G Gundam (TV)||Very good||*comment pending* This mouse of mine glows with an awesome POWER! Its loud roar tells me to comment on G Gundam!
|Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (OAV)||Good|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Modern Magic Made Simple (TV)||So-so|
|Moekan (OAV)||Not really good||Moekan is one of those "You won't know what the heck is going on unless you're familiar with whatever source material" short OVAs. If you're not trying to find more material to meet your clumsy combat maid robot girl needs, you won't find much to satisfy you. At least there's some fighting and explosions going on to keep things interesting.|
|Moetan (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Momo: The Girl God of Death (TV)||Excellent||Shinigami no Ballad is full of strange and wonderful things. Since it's episodic, the 6-episode length doesn't make SnB incomplete at all. These are stories about young people and their dealings with death, and if you subtract the fantasy elements of the Shinigami, the stories are all too real. That's what made it easy to get attached to the characters and sympathize with them in most of the episodes. Movement is sometimes minimal, but the characters are drawn in realistic style, and some of the background art is amazing, especially the night sky reflected in the pool in episode 2. Some of the stories are lighter than others, but the first episode comes out swinging and proves that SnB won't hold back when it comes to the "Death comes to us all" idea. The last episode is particularly powerful as an uplifting story of the value of life, with echoes of "It's a Wonderful Life" and Kanon. Short, sad, 6-episode anime series (plural) = Teh Win.|
|MoonPhase (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Mother Knows Breast (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Motto To Love Ru (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Mouse (TV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Mouse and His Child (movie)||Excellent||I never knew this was on ANN, until some arguments at another site over whether it was "anime or not" brought it to my attention. Even though The Mouse and His Child might not really be worthy of an Excellent rating, I'm going to allow myself some nostalgic indulgence, because this is truly one of my favorite childhood movies.
I don't know whether M&C is truly anime or not. Apparently it was a co-production between Sanrio and some American companies back in the late 1970s. But back in the mid to late 1980s, when my parents had a likely-copied-from-rental VHS copy sitting around, none of that mattered to me. I must've watched that tape dozens of times when I was between the ages of 7 and 13, and it didn't lose anything in a few recent rewatches in the last 5 years. M&C is a dark, brooding take on the normally cheery world of sentient toys, with ample amounts of violence, misery, cruelty, slavery, and outright deaths -- all quite rare for alleged kids' movies from that era. Along with all of those, there were philosophical elements concerning free will, destiny, "the theatre," family, and in perhaps the trippiest sequence, a contemplation of infinity. Heck, the story begins by having the titular mouse and child cast out of an Edenic toy store for questioning the nature of their existence and the future of the toys as a family.
After being re-wound by the only human character in the movie, the wind-ups find themselves on a literal descent into hell, in the form of a junkyard dominated by rats. These rats are led by the uncaring, sadistic, yet strangely self-doubting and insecure Manny. After the mice escape impressment into Manny's wind-up slavegang, they find themselves relentlessly pursued as they go through a series of fate-tossed meetings and partings amidst the remarkably complex society of forest animals. One of their earliest and closest friends is the melancholy Frog, who managed to shape my outlook on life with the single line, "We did the very best we could, but it just wasn't enough."
After gathering and re-gathering allies (and after a decidedly brutal crushing), the two mice take on the rats in what is still one of my favorite and most memorable sequences of anything I've seen for the past 20 years. (Of course, I skipped the rest of the movie and FFwded to that sequence many times, which explains its memorability...) Just thinking about "Ah, that's my cue!" *record scratch* *music change* still brings chills down my spine to this day. While that particular action music track is excellent, the whole score shines just as brightly. There's the theme song, "Tell me my name, " "Manny's Marauders," and a soaring operatic number used while the mice are shackled to a spring-loaded axe and repeatedly rewound until they manage to cut down a tree. The instrumental score perfectly captures the moods of all the mournful, scary, menacing, and yes, triumphant/happy scenes. For reasons evident to those who have seen M&C, I frequently think through the instrumental version of "Manny's Marauders" while up on ladders or roofs.
At any rate, I've gushed enough -- if you want something unlike virtually anything you've ever seen before, go search for The Mouse & His Child on YouTube or the torrent site of your choice. I say this because it never got a DVD release, so it's virtually impossible to find legitimately.
|Mushi-Shi (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #21: see comment in top 30|
|My Brother's Wife (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|My Classmate's Mother (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|My Dear Marie (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|My Santa (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|My-HiME (TV)||Very good||Top 30 #16(tie): see comment in Top 30|
|My-Otome (TV)||Very good||Now that it's all over...sure, MO is straight-up shounen action with a few yuri overtones, and isn't revolutionary anime by any means. Still, MO is everything that epic action anime should be, with magical/high-tech powers, political intrigue, choices that put love and duty on the line, and "join our powers together to defeat powerful enemies" moments. Character designs are pretty and varied, animation is fluid, and the battles/weaponry constantly outdo themselves in scale and creativity. In many ways, MO is better than its predecessor, My-Hime, and the creators have forged a very interesting and interconnected world, and any sequels will be eagerly awaited by the fandom world. Fans of MH will better appreciate the in-jokes and references, but even newcomers to the series should like MO for the action, comedy, and devastatingly powerful emotional scenes in some of the mid to later episodes.|
|Myself; Yourself (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Nagasarete Airantou (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Naisho no Tsubomi (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Najica Blitz Tactics (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Nanaka 6/17 (TV)||Very good||Nanaka 6/17 has carved itself a special place in my heart, and has been the best "pleasant surprise" of the summer for me. It's not especially original, realistic, or high-budget, but the premise is cute, the characters likeable and entertaining, and the story presents several worthwhile messages on growing up.
Nanaka (6) is undeniably cute, from the catch phrases to the hair beads to the voice, and it's pulled off well in both languages. Nanaka (17) is sympathetic if not overly likeable, and her reappearances in later episodes provide some dramatic moments of the type that you wouldn't expect from a series like this. We also get a more in-depth analysis of the "childhood" friend type of relationship than most anime typically offer. The side characters are amusing as well (I never got tired of Satsuki's antics), and benefit from the 13-episode length that doesn't allow things to get stale. It's not a perfect series, and is occasionally annoying; episode 8, in particular, is a rather funny comedic filler ep, but if you've seen these types of anime before, it's practically paint-by numbers. Nonetheless, I'm really glad I checked it out. (If you're thinking of DLing it, think again; compared to what you're likely to find, the DVDs are far better in every aspect, and the dub is perfectly good.)
|Nanatsuiro Drops (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Natsuiro no Sunadokei (OAV)||Decent||Honestly, if they had made an 11-12 episode series out of this, I think it could have had drama approaching KgNE levels, but since it's only 2 episodes, that promise goes to waste. Animation is very pretty, and it's a great treat to see the characters from the game in animation above the level of stillframes. The concept is unusual enough to be noteworthy--an average faceless love-sim male character finds himself jumping back and forth in time through summer vacation, with the goal of preventing an accident on the last day that kills the girl of his dreams (which he learns of before he actually experiences dating her). Unfortunately, the intense compression of this two-episode OVA means that many scenes seem incoherent, and some of the game's key side characters have less than a minute of time. Unlike most series based on games (which can be enjoyed without knowledge of the game), Natsuiro no Sunadokei won't really make sense if you haven't played the game. Solution: play the game, it's long, has a decent plot, and is available to buy (legally) in the US as "The Hourglass of Summer."|
|Natsume's Book of Friends (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Natsume's Book of Friends (TV 2)||Excellent|
|Nee, Chanto Shiyou Yo! (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Needless (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Negima! (TV)||Good||Yes, it's different from the manga, but that doesn't mean it's bad; MSN is great for Ken Akamatsu fans who enjoy his artwork and fanservice/humor, and a few episodes hold some nice emotional treats, particularly in episodes 15, 19, and the final arc. Although it treads into dangerous loli territory, the overall story is a cute/innocent/fun magic+school story. The animation is average quality at best, probably because they had to go out of their way to draw 30 different schoolgirls. Most Negima manga fans don't care for this anime, but so far, I've seen a few anime-added scenes that improved on the story, notably episode 19 and the "idol competition" in episode 11.|
|Neo Ranga (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV)||Excellent||Top 30 #15: see comment in Top 30|
|Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (movie)||Excellent||I may be in the minority here, but I actually liked NGE TV episodes 25-26. Instead of going for the massive giant-mecha massive-destruction final battle, they concluded the psychological aspects of the story, which I always saw as more important than the giant robots & Angel battles in the first place. 25 and 26 were perfectly valid and emotionally relevant to me, and it was a few weeks before I pressed on to the movie. End of Eva provides the "final battle" aspect that everyone was yearning for, but goes beyond the fan demands. EoE does have amazing, high-budget Eva fights, but the crux lies in the issues of humanity and humans' "walls of the heart." Plenty of raw, disturbing imagery, starting with the hospital scene, and it only gets stranger (live-action sequences are a plus), delving into all kinds of symbolism and Freudian psychology (like Eros & Thanatos, the life and death wishes) before the bitter end. The sequence in chapter 10 where "Komme Sasser Tod" ("Come Sweet Death") ranks among my favorites; the music highlights Shinji's momentous decision, and we see the confusion, regret, despair, and joy of most of the major characters. So all in all, End of Evangelion is just as good and valid to the Eva universe as the TV ending, and provides another fitting conclusion to a top-grade series.|
|Nerima Daikon Brothers (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|New Angel (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|NieA_7 (TV)||Very good||If you're expecting non-stop laughs, alien hijinks, and bathouse fanservice, you've got the wrong anime. But, if you're looking for a slow, quiet anime with artistic ties to Serial Experiments Lain and Haibane Renmei, step right up to NieA_7. Sure, there are alien hijinks, but the series is really about Mayuko's hardscrabble smalltown life in an imperfect future world where aliens are commonplace and cars are not. It's a strange series, with intentionally lame humor, but there's enough philosophy on society and life in general to make NieA_7 worthwhile, and a fair share of sad, bittersweet, or nostalgic moments. If for no other reason, watch it to see Kawasumi Ayako playing a character who is *NOT* a sweet, motherly, perfect, benevolent, "I can do anything" girl.|
|Night on the Galactic Railroad (movie)||Very good||I'll start by saying that not everyone will like this movie. It's strange, it's slow-moving, and is often boring or sleep-inducing. If you can surpass these obstacles, you'll see a graceful portrait of what happens when Japan and Christianity collide. NGR involves two friends who are whisked away on a train to various other worlds and far corners of the universe. The animation is old-school, but holds up well: the kind of art that pulls you along for the ride even if it isn't eye candy. NGR is dark, tragic, and philosophical, the kind of movie that gives the viewer a sense of mental accomplishment at the end. Definitely good if you're looking for a challenge.|
|Ninja Nonsense (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Nisemonogatari (TV)||Very good|
|Noein - to your other self (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: Purezza (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Noir (TV)||Good||A very solid entry in the "girls with guns" field. To like Noir, you'll have to tolerate long and repeated flashback scenes, set to (imo) good-quality, haunting music. The overall pace of Noir is pretty slow, so have caffeine ready. Still, the plot is good, and you'll find yourself rooting for cold-blooded mercenary assassins, which is always cool. Compared to its heir apparent (Madlax), Noir delivers a coherent story and plenty of action, although the lack of blood detracts from the realism. Aside from the killing, Noir is about the team relationship between Mireille and Kirika, combined with the betrayals and alliances that take place with other characters. Animation and music are of good quality (although often repeated), so essentially, Noir has a lot going for it, yet a fair amount going against it.|
|Nora (OAV)||Decent||An old-school sci-fi movie from the 1980s; a standard man vs. machine, dangerous-AI, "you can't do that, Dave" type of story. It has a cute title character, zero-gravity acrobatics, and a lot of cool futuristic backgrounds to complement all the "position of humanity" philosophy and action.|
|Now and Then, Here and There (TV)||Masterpiece||Watching Now and Then, Here and There isn't going to be one of your most enjoyable anime experience, but that's how it's supposed to be. NTHT presents a sci-fi tale of war and children, showing the harsh realities of kids who take up the gun and taking the viewer through all manners of human cruelty. Between the rape, torture, and bleak desert environment, NTHT can be emotionally difficult to watch, but the end holds rewards of some sort. While the animation isn't the greatest, it's appropriate for its time, and the characters are hard to forget, the good just as much as the bad. If you want serious war anime that doesn't pull any punches, NTHT is an excellent choice--for best value, watch NTHT between light, fluffy series like Love Hina, Rune Soldier, or Girls Bravo. I wanted to launch into NTHT after finishing Texhnolyze, but something told me that that wasn't a good idea.|
|Nyan Koi! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Ogenki Clinic Adventures (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Oh My Goddess! (OAV)||Good||Short, and condenses quite a bit of manga into 5 episodes...still, this helped fuel the AMG franchise worldwide and maintain interest for the manga and the current TV series, and for better or worse helped solidify the milquetoast archetype that so many other series employ. On one hand, it's the height of wish fulfillment (Phone-order Godesses? Take me off the Do-Not-Call List!), but OMG also shows that reality after the wish isn't necessarily perfect. Especially not with the mature charms of Urd and the not-quite-loli cuteness of Skuld to contend with. And, since this OVA helped establish the often-imitated, rarely-equalled magical girlfriend+psuedo-harem concept, it shouldn't be missed by romantic comedy enthusiasts.|
|Oku-sama wa Joshi Kōsei (TV)||Bad||This was one of the first series I ever "dropped," but against my and many other people's better judgment, I came back to it and watched it all. In some ways I'm glad I toughed it out, but part of me wishes I hadn't. You know it's bad when the fansub group in question adds some commentary to the last episode indicating just how much they hated working on it. Back when it first aired in the summer of 2005, I hadn't yet unlocked my inner ecchi demons, so the excess of fanservice was one factor in my initial "drop" decision. Another was that it was yet another Ayako Kawasumi lead role, and within the past 6 months I'd seen Ai yori aoshi: Enishi, To Heart, Piano, Outlaw Star, Samurai Champloo, Mahoromatic, and Please Twins! -- I never reached the point of hating her as a VA, but it was a case of "I cannot take yet another show with this chick!" Aside from that, My Wife is a High School Girl may as well have been a Korean animation project. I don't mean to cast racial aspersions, but it just looked different and decidedly worse than what I'd seen in the past.
So after making the Fanserviceholics Anonymous confession, I returned to this show. While the triumvirate of Ayako Kawasumi, fanservice, and cheap animation didn't bother me so much, the deluge of hackneyed, predictable situations hit me with full force. How many "lovers seen or interrupted in compromising positions" situations can one audience be expected to take? Do we really need the "I'm a high school student and I'm secretly married" introduction at the start of every episode? Worse than that, I just double-checked that the introduction does in fact appear at the start of every half- episode contained within each OP/ED song pair. Seriously, even Naruto doesn't recap Naruto Uzumaki's background and lifestory in every episode, and its target audience is far younger than My Wife is a High School Girl! To add injury to insult, nothing concerning the marriage/chastity contract gets resolved, nor do Asami and Kyousuke have to face revealing their relationship to anyone. Nor do we every get any good backstory on why the two are even married in the first place. It's one of those, "this is the setting, roll with it" series.
The individual episode stories feature a bunch of asinine "deflect other love interests' attention while keeping the secret" routines, and all this time, Asami is trying to actively seduce her husband. That doesn't sound wrong, but given the contrived "no sex until Asami graduates" contract that her father enforces, it's one of those "What an Idiot" kinds of things. Worse yet, most of the actual ecchi content is confined to fantasy sequences, so we don't actually get much in the way of compelling, story-based sexual situations. I know that sounds silly to read, but imo these things work better when backed up by stories and characters we can identify with.
Speaking of identification, that may be the real reason why I and other non-Japanese fans didn't find My Wife is a High School Girl all that appealing. After learning about and understanding Japanese men's national fetishistic appreciation for high school girls, it becomes clear that this anime has a direct connection (from title alone!) to that mentality. After all, Asami is lusty (yet naïve), busty (yet shy about her appearance), and willingly handles all domestic tasks, while still finding time to prance about in every possible fetish outfit a high school girl might wear. In short, the ideal fantasy for the Japanese target audience, but the cause for alienation and irritation among foreign audiences. Not to be a selfish pirate, but I hope this show never sees the light of day in R1. I guess all the companies are aware that the instant they announce the license, Animeondvd's forums will crash from all the "this show sucks to high heaven" messages from an informed fanbase.
Good things to come out of this series:
The "kitty cat machine gun" meme, as seen in this video. The ED
|Omamori Himari (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Omishi Magical Theater Risky Safety (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Once Upon a Time (movie aka Windaria)||Weak (dub), Very good (sub)||I haven't watech the subtitled version of Windaria, but from what I understand, it's quite different from the dub, which edits out scenes, waters down dialogue/conflicts, adds lines where there were none originally, and even makes significant changes to the overall story. Still, in either language, it's a fantasy/war movie with a political/Romeo & Juliet plot on one side, and the story of a man caught in the middle and forced into difficult decisions, on the other.|
|ONE ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~ (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|One: True Stories (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne—!! (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Oreimo (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Orphen (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Orphen: The Revenge (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Otaku no Video (OAV)||Excellent||Despite being released in 1991, a time in which "anime fandom" was almost exclusively a Japanese phenomenon, the lessons and statements in Otaku no Video still resonate to this day, in fandoms all across the world. OnV is at once a love letter and a cautionary note to fans, as if saying: "This is the wonderful world you can enter into, but it comes at the price of alienating your 'normal' friends, displacing your other hobbies, and decreasing your chances of success with women." But it's also a celebration of that process, both from normal fans, and the dreamers who went on to form GAINAX. Otaku no Video is not only a highly significant work for fans of Studio Gainax, but also for old-school fans in general, regardless of their nationality. And of course, it remains accessible to newer fans, as it's the Genshiken of its time. Older fans will be filled with nostalgia over past pastimes like collecting cels and filling shelves with VHS tapes. Newer fans will marvel at the pre-Internet fandom world that they never experienced. Also of note are the live-action interview segments interspersed with the story (I think it had spaceships and giant robots by the time things were over, go figure), which revealed different facets of anime otaku and other types of otaku. Perhaps most telling was the segment that managed to predict the 2-D Love phenomenon before it was ever labeled as such. The wonders of early H-Games at 320x240.
Interviewee: "This girl Hiroko is so cute, look at her outfit."
Interviewer: "Have you ever thought of forming a relationship with a real woman?"
Interviewee: "...Um, don't you think Hiroko is super-cute?"
I may have entered the fandom a "generation" later, and on the other side of the world, but I knew where that guy was coming from. And that's the kind of common experience that OnV portrays, something that's become lost in today's micro-fragmented fandom.
|Otaku Unite (live-action movie)||So-so||Decent documentary, although if you're deep enough into the fandom to be reading people's anime lists on this site, it probably won't tell you anything you don't already know. Some things will make you celebrate your fan status, while others may make you feel embarrassed to be a part of this fandom. But at the least, Otaku Unite! is something you could show to parents/relatives/friends who have no idea what the anime/manga thing is all about.|
|Otoboku - Maidens Are Falling for Me! (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Otogi Zoshi (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Our Home's Fox Deity (TV)||Good|
|Ouran High School Host Club (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #12: see comment in top 30|
|Outlaw Star (TV)||Very good||A lot of fun with a bit of plot. Varied and diverse characters, like the practical young Jim, the "loose cannon" Gene, the reserved warrior, Suzuka, and the high-strung catgirl, Aisha. Melfina, unfortunately, isn't incredibly interesting. OS has ambitious and creative space battle animation, and characters, backgrounds, etc. are drawn satisfactorily. The plot is mainly comedic, with a bit of seriousness thrown in. Things drag a bit in the middle, as the series seems to be wandering just as aimlessly as the characters. Certain aspects of the endings will seem overly serious in contrast to the rest of the series, but at the end of the day, you'll probably find yourself wishing that this crew could keep on having adventures, just like in Cowboy Bebop, and that's the real goal of these "space opera" series.|
|Pani Poni Dash! (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Panty Flash Teacher (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Panzer Dragoon (OAV)||Worst ever||Normally I don't apply the "Worst Ever" rating unless something has absolutely no redeeming qualities. However, Panzer Dragoon has no redeeming qualities. Non-existent and nonsensical story, zero character development, awful CG animation, lousy regular animation, ridiculously bad voice acting in the English dub (which is the only extant version), the worst/cheesiest kiss scene in the history of all media... yeah, I think I've covered all the bases. As with other anime like Arcade Gamer Fubuki and Garzey's Wing, I watched this due to its appearance in Sevaks' "Buried Garbage" column. But at least AGF was generally tolerable, and GW was hilariously bad while still being marginally competent. PD just sucks to high heaven, no two ways about it.|
|Papillon Rose (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Paradise Kiss (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Paranoia Agent (TV)||Masterpiece||*comment pending*|
|Peacemaker (TV)||Decent||Warning: contains men with sword/compensation issues and vaguely homoerotic overtones. OK, some jokes aside, PeaceMaker Kurogane is like a shorter Rurouni Kenshin. Semi-historical fiction? Check. Reluctant hero unwilling to kill? Check. Elaborate swordfights with political implications? Check. Occasional over-the-top comedy and love interests? Check. PMK didn't grab my attention as a "great" anime, but the mixture of genres held my interest, as did the scenes with some of the girls like Ayu-nee and the sad/cute/mute Sayo. Gonzo delivers on the animation quality, ADV delivers on the dub, and even the throwaway/filler episodes deliver enough comedy for viewers who aren't bigtime fans of swords/samurai. PMK is average overall, but it still doesn't contend for "Most awesomely mediocre anime of all time."|
|Peach Girl (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Penguin Girl (ONA)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Perverted Thomas (OAV)||Bad||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Petite Princess Yucie (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Pia Carrot 2 DX (OAV)||Not really good||If you've seen the Pia Carrot 2 ero-OVA, then you're probably already familiar with this by-the-numbers bishoujo game adaptation. Only this time, you don't have the promise of one relatively tame sex scene at the end of each episode to relieve the tedium. While I personally don't dislike adaptations like this one, I can't recommend it to anyone who isn't familiar/comfortable/tolerant with the genre. I enjoyed the ongoing game of "predict the next plot development" and "spot the convention" more than the actual story, which has a guy spending time with one cute waitress girl per episode. And of course there's a little sister, an occult girl, a tomboy, a drunk, and a cosplay freak, all of whom are clearly doomed to lose to the tsundere girl involved in the "Crash Into Hello" incident at the beginning. About the best character development that happens involves those all-too-common parental traffic accident deaths. So if you want something sickeningly sweet and perfectly embodies 1990s bishoujo game story and character designs, Pia Carrot 2 DX is a reasonable choice. But like with the two ONE adaptations, you might be better off watching the hentai version. At least in this case it's only half the length to sit through. My comments on the original 2 Pia Carrot OVA series can be found in my "behind the curtains" section.|
|Pia Carrot e Yōkoso!! - Sayaka no Koi Monogatari (movie)||So-so||While the 3-6 episode OVA format worked well enough for adapting Pia Carrot games, the one-shot 45-minute movie just isn't sufficient. I'm not sure how the original game was set up, but kudos to the movie for not going the normal dating-sim-adaptation route of "one guy, lots of choices." It was nice to see the focus on one girl and her affections for a potential love from her past. And for the die-hard Pia Carrot fans and completionists (and I'm not kidding anyone here: no one else would be watching this movie anyway), there are some cameos of characters from earlier games & OVAs. Nothing amazing to be found here, but it's a relatively pleasant genre entry, with a bit of forced drama in a subplot giving way to an acceptable resolution in the main plot. Good to see the girls and uniforms of Pia Carrot in modern animation and drawing styles, as well.|
|Piano (TV)||Good||If you like your anime realistic, this is as realistic as they come--an honest-to-goodness "Slice of Life" about a junior high girl and her struggles. I decided to pick this one up and watch it because it's out of the ordinary. Pianists and fans of classical music should find something to like in this anime; the OP and Miu's piano piece are good pieces of music--find them online and play them, if you can. Unfortunately, if you don't like slife anime without extra gimmicks, you'll probably find Piano to be mind-numbingly dull, which I can understand. And, we've all seen some "what were they thinking" hairstyles in anime, but Miu's hair is right up there among the worst, I have to say.|
|Pikachu's Rescue Adventure (movie)||Decent||The best of the Pikachu film shorts shown before Pokemon movies. Like most of the shorts, it's an adventure that shows the spirit and power of teamwork, but RA is genuinely moving without being annoying. Maybe I'm just a sucker for "ordinary critters band together to overcome adversity" plots.|
|Pikachu's Summer Vacation (movie)||Weak||Let's see, there's a Pokemon camp, and a crisis involving Charizard...wait a minute, are those dancing palm trees? Dude, I think I'm tripping, what kind of acid is this again?|
|Pita Ten (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie)||Very good||Another work by Makoto Shinkai, longer and better developed than "Voices of a Distant Star." Excellent visuals, and a story more focuses on the sci-fi and friendship aspects than the love angle. While this movie didn't press quite the right buttons to be a full tearjerker for me, it is a sad and bittersweet tale about the realization of dreams in the face of steep odds. The art designs of the tower, the planes, and other machines puts a great deal of average anime to shame.|
|Place to Place (TV)||Good|
|Planetes (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Plastic Little (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Platonic Chain (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Please Save My Earth (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Please Teacher! (TV)||Good||Viewers' milage will certainly vary on the female teacher - male student relationship, but Please Teacher!, based on a short manga, accomplishes all that it needs to in 13 episodes. The sci-fi elements add a dimension to the plot (or maybe just convenient devices), and the romance, if strange, is a prime example of people making something work despite difficult circumstances. Someone else once said that Please Teacher! focuses on the internal obstacles that Kei and Mizuho have to overcome to advance their relationship, as opposed to Ai yori aoshi, KgNE, etc., where all sorts of external obstacles show up to threaten the "main couple." PT's story, then, is a bit different from the norm. Of course, things get a bit harem-esque when more girls than expected start falling for the typical spineless, clueless, average male lead. Also, Please Teacher!'s art (a rarely-seen non-urban setting) and music create a wonderful light/summery mood, which for me made PT the best "summer mood anime" until I saw AIR TV.|
|Please Teacher! (OAV)||Good||A nice way to conclude Please Teacher, focusing on some of the more etchi parts of the series...not the most complete conclusion ever, but it proves that 13-episode romance series aren't too short to be satisfying. After all, size doesn't matter...|
|Please Twins! (TV)||Good||The comparisons to Please Teacher! are inevitable, but Please Twins! stands in its own right as a slightly etchi romance/comedy/drama. Although the hook keys on viewers' desires for scandal ("Which girl is Maiku's sister? Which is not?"), I must admit that it kept me drawn in. P-Tw captures some of the summer mood of PT, but the camera's real focus is on Miina, Karen, and the other girls. If you can handle the fanservice and hinted-at-incest, you get a sometimes overdramtic emotional ride that gets to where it needs to go within 12 episodes. PT fans also get cameos of most of PT's characters, and those who were annoyed by Kei might be pleased to know that he gets a non-speaking role in Please Twins.|
|Please Twins! (OAV)||Decent||Unfortunately, thie OVA loses some of the charm of the Please Twins TV series, especially with the drastic character changes in Karen, who becomes a selfish brat with a borderline brother complex. It's a bit lacking in the etchi department as well, which is what fans of these two series are expecting. So, while it's a step down from the TV series, you may as well watch it...it's on that 4th DVD anyway, after all.|
|Pleasure Commute (OAV)||Bad||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Pokemon 2000 - The Movie||Good||Perhaps my favorite Pokemon movie. Still has the classic characters, with a resurfacing of the faux-romantic tension between Misty and Ash. The action scenes are what really sell Pokemon 2000--from the massive CGI airship to the Titan battles to the frozen ocean chase scenes, they make for a movie that can be enjoyed again and again. When I first saw Ash + his pokemon + Lugia racing across the sea to Ice Island, I thought, "This is what action cartoons are really about," just like the ones from my childhood in the 1980s :)|
|Pokemon 3 - The Movie||Good||A more psychological Pokemon movie about isolation and lonliness. Beautiful art (by Pokemon standards, that is) of the frozen crystal palace, and the uNown are a bit more interesting than the average "legendary Pokemon" that you see in these movies.|
|Pokemon 4Ever (movie)||So-so||You know, when I saw this movie the first time, it was called "Princess Mononoke." When I saw it the second time, it was called "Pokemon 4Ever." A bit of interesting time travel, and a look at the innerworkings of Team Rocket, but there's not much else to recommend this to people over 15 who aren't hardcore Pokemon fans.|
|Pokemon Heroes - Latias & Latios (movie)||Not really good||Ugh. "Oh no, someone's after some super-rare legendary pokemon! Oh no, they found them! Oh no, the world is in danger of catastrophe, and Ash has to save it, AGAIN!" Perhaps this is why they dropped "Movie 5" from the title, because this definitely feels like a piece of a long movie series."|
|Pokemon: Jirachi Wish Maker (movie)||Decent||Pretty decent Pokemon movie... a bit of a love story and a tale of a friendship between a boy and a rare pokemon, good animation by Pokemon standards, thrilling final fight, not too bad overall.|
|Pokemon: The First Movie||Good||Not great, but not bad, either; MewTwo is a powerful/engaging villain, and the general Pokemon movie plot clichés hadn't been worn out at this point. Standard Pokemon action with cloning and a message, though this message will ring completely hollow with adults or anyone who realizes, "Gee, a franchise that's all about making monsters fight each other is telling kids that violence is bad!" For me, the best part of this movie is the soundtrack, the instrumental score that is; it may be 4kids rescored music, but that doesn't mean it can't be exciting in the dramatic parts and subtle/evocative in the quiet parts. That CD is an essential on all my road trips :)|
|(The) Pollinic Girls Attack!: The Animation (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Popotan (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(Le) Portrait de Petite Cossette (OAV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Pretear (TV)||Very good||Pretear is a nice and short Magical Girl show that managed to draw some tears from some of the hardened souls at my school's anime club. Unlike many magical girl series that span 50, 70, or 200 episodes, Pretear tells a compact story of love, betrayal, and destruction in only 13 episodes. Some things are a little rushed in the short frame, but there's time for comedy, training, and family drama along with the standard fights and transformation sequences. These feature Himeno in a variety of outfits and are not all stock footage. I should warn that the dub, for some arcane ADV reason, changes Himeno's name to "Huh-MEEN-o."|
|Princess 69 (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Princess 69: Midnight Gymnastics (OAV)||Not really good||all hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Princess Lover! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Princess Mononoke (movie)||Masterpiece||It's good, but I may need to reconsider the "Masterpiece" rating. I'd have to watch it again to be sure.|
|Princess Nine (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Princess Tutu (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Private Sessions (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Private Sessions 2 (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Project A-Ko (movie)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Project A-Ko 2: Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Project A-ko 3: Cinderella Rhapsody (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Project A-Ko 4: Final (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Psychic Force (OAV)||Weak||*comment pending*|
|Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Pugyuru (TV)||Not really good||It's hard to nail down Pugyuru's exact quality level, simply because it's so bizarre and random without ever striving for a point or any kind of coherency. You have a mostly-unnamed girl who winds up with this maid...alien...thing in her life. Then there's the yakuza, a Snow Queen, a squid girl, a "Yankee" thug, and a smattering of events that would make Jackson Pollack proud. Pugyuru ends as suddenly as it begins, with no connections between episodes, and no connections between events within episodes. (4-panel comic adaptation, maybe?) The 3.5-minute episodes certainly contribute to this disjointed feeling, but on the upside it makes for a very easy one-sitting watchthrough. There's certainly nothing compelling enough to warrant a re-watch, unless you're hungry for outlandish bodily humor. And not the kind of scatological humor found in series like The Daichis (which at this point I've seen but not commented). No, Pugyuru revels in having the bodies of its nonhuman characters stretched, contorted, part-substituted for various objects, partially-eaten, "stickyfied," or opened up to reveal unimpressive secrets within.
I'd compare the overall mood of the series and its character interactions to Di gi Charat, another short-episode/random-humor series that failed to impress me much. But at least DGC had attractive Koge-Donbo character designs and characters that you could feel interested in. While I don't hate randomness per sé, Pugyuru's crude art and unengaging characters doom its rating to the "Not Very Good" heap.
|Puni Puni Poemy (OAV)||Decent||If you're easily offended by vulgarity, huge tracts of land, and loli fanservice, consider yourself warned. In general, PPP is a cracked-out, madcap sendup of various anime and hentai genres, with incredibly fast and insane dialogue from the main character, and all sorts of seriously disurbing villains. We'd expect nothing less from the makers of Excel Saga, after all. PPP holds the honor of being the only anime where I had to slow my DVD player down to 1/16th speed just to be able to read subtitles. Even if you are easily offended, it's only two episodes to sit through and survive. EDIT: After some discussion on this thread, it should be noted that some of the underage sex elements can be extremely unsettling, to the point of being traumatic in some cases. While I stand by my earlier statements that PPP is a fun ride and a cracked-out experience, I'm not sure I ever want to watch it again, after seeing it in Japanese, in English, and with commentary. Best when viewed with others, like at an anime club or at a convention.|
|Pure Mail (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Queen Millennia Movie||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Queen's Blade 2: The Evil Eye (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Quiz Magic Academy (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Quiz Magic Academy - The Original Animation 2 (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Qwaser of Stigmata (TV)||Very good|
|(The) Qwaser of Stigmata: Portrait of the Empress (OAV)||Good|
|R.O.D -The TV-||Good||Saw this before the OVA, and still like it better--ROD TV starts out slow/weird, but after episode 12, the action and main plot pick up. No need to see the OVA beforehand. Animation is fluid and gorgeous, and the "Paper Master" fighting scenes are full of surprises throughout. While many complain about The Paper's absence in much of ROD TV, the three sisters and Nenene are engaging, decently-developed characters in their own right. In terms of action, the concluding arc is unbelievable, in a good way. Aside from a few moments, the dub is excellent; British accents For The Win.|
|RahXephon (TV)||Decent||I'll be honest: I wanted to like RahXephon more than I did. I had seen Evangelion, and heard all these things about RX, like that it wasn't as religiously bloated, pretentious, or depressing as NGE, and that it had a more coherent story, better visuals, and deeper/better-developed romance than NGE. RX lived up to some of these claims, but failed at others, and at many points did feel like an Eva rip-off (especially the episode (~15 maybe) where Ayato is pulled into a dreamworld by a Dolem attack). Instead of religious jargon, RX fills its dialogue with musical babble and a bunch of Nahuatl (Aztec) names, the latter of which makes the characters in RX unnecessarily hard to understand and follow. This made it feel pretentious to me. The visuals were good, I do admit, with pleasing character designs and elaborate/pretty mechas. As for the romance, I was expecting great things, but with the multiple girls and all the Aztec name-dropping, I couldn't find a coherent romantic thread to follow. Should I root for Nishima? Haruka? Megumi? Hiroko? In regards to the last episode, if I want harem anime that plays like a dating game, I'll watch Shuffle! or Kanon, thank you very much. If it weren't for a certain incident in episode 19, my opinion of RahXephon might have been much worse. After all this, I still found RahXephon to be a decent buy (thinpack) and a decent use of time, and I will re-watch it to try to catch things I missed.|
|RahXephon (OAV)||So-so||Oh look, it's more of exactly what I didn't like about the RahXephon TV series: Quon talking to herself and spouting incomprehensible pseudo-philosophical babble. Still, it wasn't that bad (it was mercifully short, after all), and at least managed to look pretty and explore a little more of the RX characters and setting. So I'll let it off the hook.|
|RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio (movie)||Not really good||If the RahXephon TV series is doomed to be compared with the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series, then the inevitable comparison for this movie is with The End of Evangelion. While EoE was a landmark achievement in animation and experimental storytelling that brought a definitive (if not satisfying) conclusion to its parent story, R:PC comes off as a cheap effort to cash in on its parent's success by retelling the same events in a chopped-up "digest" format. So maybe the more appropriate comparison is Evangelion: Death. The "chopped-up" aspect is quite literal, as the movie suffers from some terrible editing/pacing issues. Imagine one scene with some characters relaxing at a ski resort, culminating in a very cute "girl gives hand-made mittens to the guy she likes" sequence. Immediately after the mitten handover is completed *BAM* ohmygosh Ayato's in a desperate struggle against yet another Dolem. What. The. Hell. While R:PC claims to be an alternate re-telling of the RX TV story, I didn't get anything more out of it, aside from one "mature content" scene that I don't remember being in the TV series. It was the same "don't hate em but don't like em either" characters, the same incomprehensible mysticism, the same convoluted love story, and the same story whose main saving grace was the sequence of events that played in episode 19 of the TV series. However, the "cheap cash-in" doesn't apply to the animation or musical qualities, as both of those aspects are truly theatrical-caliber. It's pretty rare to watch a minute's worth of key animators scroll by in the credits, after all. So it's a visual feast, but the kind of feast that leaves you empty inside when all is said and done. Guess I'll have to go back and rewatch the TV series.|
|Read or Die (OAV)||Good||A well-animated OVA with an original storyline and concept (the "Paper Master" bit), ROD has enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat and enough drama to tug on the heartstrings, but I still don't see why people say that this is so superior to the subsequent TV series.|
|REC (TV)||Good||A short series with short episodes, concerning a fairly average salaryman and an eccentric, voice actress-wannabe/Audrey Hepburn fangirl who become acquainted under some rather drastic circumstances. Somewhat comedic, but with a healthy undercurrent of romance & angst. The first episode starts out with a shock, and while I found it intriguing, others have disapproved. Don't miss the DVD-only episode that came out awhile back on the fansub pipeline--it has some further development on Matsumaru & Aka, as well as some funny moments and provocative scenes with a girl from Matsumaru's past. If the events of the first episode aren't too disturbing, you'll probably find REC to be a sweet and charming series (no small thanks to the appeal of Aka), and the short length makes it a bite-sized morsel.|
|Record of Lodoss War (OAV)||Good||While it may seem crude by today's standards of graphics and animation, we have to give some credit to LW for forming one of the key bases of 90s and 2000s fantasy anime. Rumored to have been based on D&D campaigns, LW uses its 13 episodes well to weave an epic, apocalyptic war story, with all the beloved standards of dragons, swordplay, magic, nonhuman races (dwarves, elves, orcs, etc.), and just a bit of romance. Certainly worth looking into if you're a fan of 12 Kingdoms, Scrapped Princess, and other fantasy anime more serious than Slayers.|
|Refrain Blue (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Renkin 3-kyuu Magical? Pokahn (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Revolutionary Girl Utena (TV)||Excellent||Another entry in the "they don't make them like this anymore" category. Utena is old-school shoujo at its finest, with convoluted dealings of magic, romance, drama, action (swordplay) and a mountain of talk about "revolution" and "end of the world." All kinds of romantic attraction are fair game in RGU, including but not limited to incestuous, same-sex, opposite-sex, and let's not forget Utena's bold gender-bending. RGU is one of those series where some things just won't make sense, no matter how hard you think about it. Still, the series has that epic feeling without dragging on too long (39 episodes, with some skippable fillers & recaps), and the animation & music are great considering the series' age. True, some music scenes are often re-used (you'll be using that fast-forward key, trust me), but some tracks like "Sunlit Garden" never get old. Just buy Revolutionary Girl: Utena for the reduced re-release price, sit back, and enjoy the spinning roses.|
|Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie||Very good||Unlike the Escaflowne movie, I strongly recommend watching the Utena TV series before watching this movie. This is because the visuals are so strange, stylized, and wtf-outlandish that you probably won't understand the characters, much less what's going on over the course of the movie. If you have seen the series, the movie is a visual feast and an alternative, condensed retelling of the story. The character designs feel a bit different, and certain things are very wrong/disturbing (some of Touga's flashbacks, for instance). Again, the visuals are weird, but there are some very beautiful scenes worth gawking over, and the movie re-uses much of the excellent music (like "Sunlit Garden") that made the TV series so good. Automobile-lovers/mechanically-minded fans should find appealing things about this movie :wink:, though this certainly ain't no Initial D.|
|RIN - Daughters of Mnemosyne (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Ringetsu the Animation (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Rizelmine (TV)||Very good||I consider Yumeria to be the series that unlocked my inner ecchi demons, but Rizelmine unlocked an appreciation for just straight-out-wrong comedy, as well as Rie Kugimiya's tsundereloli repertoire (though I had previously seen Shakugan no Shana). Although Rizelmine isn't much to write home about visually, the absurd, over-the-top situations more than make up for it. Once again we have a guy who manages to deflect his "every man's dream" predicament (having a loli show up at your doorstep and declare herself your wife), but he does so in a believable and seldom-seen manner: by having a thing for older women. So Tomonori's initial rejections of Rizel are a joy to watch, if for no other reason than we see antics and physical punishments normally dealt out by women to men (e.g. Naru Narusegawa to Keitarou Urashima in Love Hina) with the gender roles reversed. Luckily it's all played for comedy, and no domestic abuse overtones ever enter the picture. And then there's Rizel herself, with the Absolute Zone going on and those adorable "hair bells" that are just too cute for words every time they prehensively ring. Rizel's brand of "depraved carnal innocence" also contributes to the comedy, with a mix of gusto and naïvete when it comes to what goes on between a woman and a man. But as if that weren't enough, the cast expands into a sizable love polygon including characters of all interests. The second season ramps of the ecchi factor even more, and at one point reaches the best "Love Potion Gone Wrong" sequence I've ever seen. "I've already drank it," indeed. (Although come to think of it, I can't recall any instance in any media where a love potion has actually worked. Go figure.)
But amidst all the lolicon content, explosive tears, and widespread mayhem, there are a few sweet and tender scenes, and some solid drama at the end. Overall, a fun watch that goes down easy with half-length episodes. Goes even faster if you skip OP/ED, but why would you want to skip content-relevant Rie Kugimiya songs?
|Romeo × Juliet (TV)||Very good|
|(The) Roommate (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Rosario + Vampire (TV)||Weak||I'd be a liar if I said this show was any good. But I'd be just as much of a liar if I told you I didn't enjoy it. Cheesy music (apart from the OP, which is rather catchy), lackluster animation, literal Monster-of-the-Week plot for most of the series run, and no major incidents or story developments that aren't pathetically predictable well in advance. No, not just "That guy's a werewolf" or "eventually they'll discover that Tsukune's really a human" predictability, I'm talking, "The other girls will walk in and interrupt Tsukune and Moka from kissing *now*" levels of predictability. It's just that bad. None of the suspense or danger elements ever work, because the way things are set up, you know that Tsukune's never going to get executed or exiled. No no, we all know there are 4 reasons for watching this series: "Moka," "Kurumu," "Yukari," and "Mizore." Okay, maybe not Yukari the loli witch, but the lovely ice queen Mizore Shirayuki easily makes up for that. She's got that endearing tsunere/self-imposed isolation flavor of moe going for her, not to mention those thigh-high stockings and short miniskirt; we all know what that adds up to, right? (Of course, mega-short skirts are hardly exclusive to Mizore-chan here, as all skirts in this show are designed for convenient and frequent pantyshots.) And if that weren't enough for me to have rapidly-freezing drool in my mouth whenever Mizore was onscreen, she shares a voice actress with other beloved characters of mine such as Shana in Shakugan no Shana, Nagi Sanzenin in Hayate the Combat Butler and Louise de la Valliere in Familiar of Zero. As one of the few people who liked the fourth-wall-breaking commentator Babbit in Kodocha, I found the Babbit rip-off in this series amusing as well.
So to recap: threadbare plot + middling technical merits + hawt girls + occasional comedy + RieKugimiyaAwesomeness = Rosario + Vampire. Take That, Communicative Property of Addition!
|Rosario + Vampire Capu2 (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Rozen Maiden (TV)||Good||I'd avoided the Rozen Maiden franchise at first, because on the surface it seemed silly at best and creepy at worst. However, I don't regret giving it a try, because the surface descriptions overlooked one key component of the story: Jun's psychological struggle to overcome his self-imposed isolation and feelings of worthlessness. That resonated with me (and I would think many fans on both sides of the Pacific) far more than the "There Can Be Only One" Alice Game battles between the dolls. But if you don't connect with the psychological aspects, RM has much more to offer. Elegant Gothic Lolita fashion, the absurdity of master-servant relationships between dolls and humans, dolls ranging from cute and bubbly to refined and dignified, and comedy that knows when to move into the background. There's also some great music by ALI Project in the OP (which evokes a dizzying, deranged dance emblematic of RM's fights and swirling roses) and Shinkichi Mitsumune (composer on Revolutionary Girl Utena) in the BGM score. In fact, the track "Hyoukai" replaced "Never Meant to Belong" from Bleach as my "personal soundtrack" whenever I want to add to the sad atmopsphere of anything.
And despite the whole "loli in a box" thing, RM is not overly creepy; with a few scattered exceptions, the dolls aren't portrayed in any kind of a sexual light. Even for those exceptions, their balljoint-doll external skin kind of negates the fanservice factor for all but the most ardent fetishists.
|Rozen Maiden: Detective Kun-Kun (special)||So-so||I'd compare this to .hack//GIFT, as it was a special short extra bundled with a video game. But unlike GIFT, which told a side story featuring the main characters, Detective-Kun-Kun features the cast of RM's "show within a show" of the same name. Nothing spectacular, just a vision of a full version of the short detective snippets we experience within RM itself. But simply not being great doesn't make it bad, as it's an enjoyable way to spend 7 minutes or so.|
|Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre (special)||Decent||Seems to take place somewhere in the middle of Rozen Maiden: Traumend. Contains some of the normal comedic hijinks, and Suiseiseki being tsundere towards Jun as usual. The main point of Overture (screw the French or German or whatever spelling that is) is showing a bit of the history of Shinku, Suigintou, and the creator of the Rozen Maidens, events that were already hinted at within the main series. Despite the derisive "OverHype" moniker, RMO is good if you want more Rozen Maiden. It's just not good if you want more Rozen Maiden, if you get what I mean.|
|Rozen Maiden: Träumend (TV)||Decent||This second season of Rozen Maiden is still worthwhile, but I had to downvote it due to it having fewer of the positives from the first season, and more annoying negatives. The main strike against RMT is that with Jun having dealt with his shut-in personality and lack of self-confidence, he becomes more of a static character, with fewer compelling moments like he had in RM. In place of those elements, we get the same amounts of comedy (only now with the occasionally-funny but often irritating Canaria), and more of the Alice Game. Unfortunately, the anime's time limitations and some complication or another with the manga's publication render this major plot thread of both RM series incomplete. And this time it's possible that not even reading the manga will lead to a complete ending.
But RMT is far from a total loss -- it's got the same great Mitsumune score and another ALI Project OP, and some devastating doll "shutdown" scenes. I think I've been a sucker for those ever since seeing Moé the doll in Love Hina, although my reaction to that scene is likely based on childhood viewings of "The Mouse and His Child." I think the effectiveness of such scenes is rooted in our innate dreams of seeing beloved toys come to life -- that makes it all the more tragic when the magic runs out and the dolls stop moving.
One other feature of RMT that almost substitutes for Jun's personal journey in RM is a sick girl named Megumi. Seeing her talking about wanting to die and begging her Rozen companion to use up her life energy provided some of the best T_T scenes of the series. Unfortunately, one of the frustratingly incomplete aspects of RMT is that we never find out what happens to her. As with the first series, RMT is good at evoking "villain sympathy," in that it's still quite easy to feel bad for even the most villainous of the dolls when they don't achieve their goals. It's just too bad there are so many loose ends, and our only recourse is to wait for a third season or hope there's a satisfactory conclusion in the manga.
|Rumbling Hearts (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #04: see comment in Top 30|
|Rumiko Takahashi Anthology (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Rune Soldier (TV)||Decent||Rune Soldier certainly isn't any kind of a classic, and probably doesn't quite surpass Slayers in the Fantasy/Comedy/Fanservice category. Still, it should be a cheap buy and an amusing way to pass 24 episodes worth of time--animation is very shiny and pretty if a bit cheap sometimes (like one scene in episode 18 or so where a scene of Louie jumping between rocks in a race is repeated 3 times), there's a variety of girls to match anyones tastes/fetishes, and the action never takes itself too seriously, as Louie always makes some lunk-headed error to screw things up and simultaneously save the day. Reminds me of Excel Saga a bit in that it finally strings together a plot in the last 4 episodes or so, and the conclusion is more satisfying than some serious/dramatic series. Worth watching, especially if you're coming off a series like Texhnolyze (like I was) and needing something to cancel out the emo/depression factor.|
|Rurouni Kenshin (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (OAV)||Masterpiece||*comment pending*|
|S-CRY-ed (TV)||Decent||I'd avoided s-CRY-ed for awhile because I'd thought it was typical dumb shounen fare. And in many ways it is, but it's typical dumb shounen fare that lasts for a finite 26 episodes instead of 260+ episodes. As long as you disengage your brain and don't take anything too seriously, Scryed is a lot of fun: hot-blooded, action-packed, call-your-attacks fun, with materialization attacks reminiscent of what Sunrise would later do with My-Hime/My-Otome. And then there's the English dub, which adds a whole new level of over-the-top silliness to the proceedings. I had to pause the video and recover from laughter upon reaching the part I'd previously seen in this video. And I've heard there's even more innuendo added in other lines where I must've been watching the Japanese track at the time.
But despite my expectations, Scryed actually succeeded in getting serious and putting together some good drama, both at the individual character level and the larger scale of the racism and discrimination against Lost Ground residents and Alter users. I was all but ready to give this show a higher rating, but the last episode rolled around. After a suitably epic conclusion to the main plot elements in episode 25, the finale just had to go and feature a senseless "we must see who's stronger" bragging rights fight. Sure, that's how shounen fighter anime work, but I'd thought that those characters and Scryed in general had risen above the standards of the genre, even while gleefully embracing them. So yeah, in the end it was typical dumb shounen fare after all. But it was still greatly entertaining, well worth the price of buying the collection blind on sale at TRSI.
|(The) Sacred Blacksmith (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|SaiKano (TV)||Masterpiece||Top 30 #27: see comment in Top 30|
|SaiKano: Another Love Song (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Sailor Moon (TV)||Good||Very much a classic, assuming you watch the subtitled version. While the video and music components are dated by today's standards, the story and action are quite good for the Magical Girl genre--we should remember that while Sailor Moon is more or less a "standard" today, it was originally a parody of Magical Girl shows, since most previous entries in the genre had bold, decisive, confident, virtuous lead characters, and Usagi is the opposite of all that. The Four Generals of the Dark Kingdom each get their own arc, which means that not all 46 episodes follow the same "monster of the day" format, as each general has their own approach and mission to carry out. For me, the true ending of episode 45-46 remains the best of Sailor Moon so far (through Super S), and the fights and sacrifices of those last two episodes stand up to the best of anime endings overall.|
|Sailor Moon R (TV)||Decent||R is my least favorite of all the seasons of Sailor Moon. The Doom Tree filler arc was passable, but Chibi-usa was extremely annoying (though she becomes more bearable in later seasons) and the villains became less and less interesting throughout the series. Since the villains were uninteresting (Emerald in particular), more emphasis fell on the "monster of the day" setup, and some battles were so poorly planned and executed that you'll thank the maker of the fast-forward button. The last episode, however, is an amusing clip/preview show that is significantly different in English vs. Japanese, and much funnier/self-referencing in Japanese.|
|Sailor Moon R Movie: Promise of the Rose||So-so||This movie involves a being similar to Ari and En from the Doom Tree Arc of Sailor Moon R. There's a hint of shounen-ai, but the movie is more about the friendship between Mamoru and Fiore, and the distortion that Fiore's isolation brings to the equation. Of course, there are fights, transformation sequences, and a teleportaion into space for the final showdown, so it's a nice sidestory and treat for Sailor Moon fans, but I didn't really feel that there was anything special about the Sailor Moon R movie.|
|Sailor Moon S (TV)||Very good||Considered among the darkest of the Sailor Moon series. Introduces new Sailor Senshi, which means rivals for Sailor Moon outside of the latest "We're here to destroy everything" group of villains. This is a blessing and a curse; we get tension between Usagi's "save everyone" worldview and Uranus/Neptune's "any sacrifice" mentality, but this comes at the expense of other character development and the fun scenes among the Inner Senshi that were a bright spot of earlier series. The "Pure Heart Crystals" concept is intriguing at first, but loses its luster after the powerful mini-climax in episodes 21-22 and the Mimett arc, which has a "tread water till the finale" feeling. If you hated Sailor Moon already, the monster-of-the-week plot and re-used scenes aren't much better, but if you do like Sailor Moon, you can't miss S.|
|Sailor Moon S Movie: Hearts in Ice||Good||Similar to the R movie, the SMS movie has a "random enemy comes from the depths of space to conquer the earth" plot, but the real highlight is the story about Luna falling in love with a human, a story linked with the "Princess Kaguya" Japanese fable. Art, animation, music, and action are at or above Sailor Moon S TV standards, and the main fights run by-the-numbers: Confront, Transform, Attack, Get Hurt, Use Combined Super-Attack. Still, the Luna subplot is something special, and for me, the SMS movie holds the distinction of being the first anime to draw a few tears from me. It would be the first of many...|
|Sailor Moon Sailor Stars (TV)||Very good||Sailor Stars is often hailed as one of the most sad/dramatic seasons of Sailor Moon, and one of the saddest parts for me was that the series was finally ending, after beginning my collection with Sailor Moon three years prior to watching Stars. Some things haven't changed much from previous seasons, though SS is far less cute and fluffy than the previous season, SuperS. After a strong six-episode arc that utilizes Chibiusa effectively, things become business as usual, mostly. The plot suffers from recycling the same setup as S and SuperS -- "villians searching for something (Talisman, Gold Dream Mirror, Star Seed) and attacking random humans to get it," but things are changed up by removing Mamoru and Chibiusa, to give the fan-serving idols, the Three Lights, more screen time. Sadly, the banter among the Inner Senshi, so prevalent in earlier seasons, is reduced in Stars, though the ever-popular Outer Senshi get a return appearance. By this point, Sailor Moon as a series gains some self-aware humor, like characters getting attacked during pompous speeches. Once things head into the final arc, the full tear-jerking potential is unleashed, giving the series a fitting send-off after 200 episodes. I won't spoil anything here--even if you're against fansubs, if you like the SM franchise, you owe it to yourself to make a special exception and track this down.|
|Sailor Moon SuperS (TV)||Good||It may be an unpopular opinion, but I actually like SM SS. The focus falls on Chibi-usa and her friendship with Pegasus, and Chibi-usa is much more bearable in this season than she is in R. It is very fluffy-cute, and some episodes are quite heartwarming in a "happy-sad" way, especially when Chibi-usa and Usagi exchange their child/teenager statuses. The villains are more well-rounded than in S, and the Amazon Trio provides a lot of laughs as they exploit pick-up lines and dating clichés as they seek their victims. The halfway point is good enough to inspire that all-important "sympathy for the villains" as the Amazon Trio arc comes to an end, and the other villains have enough personality to keep things interesting in the second half. Sure, some episodes seem like filler, and the story isn't truly ended until the 6th episode of Sailor Stars, but all in all, SM SS gets more of a bad reputation than it deserves.|
|Sailor Moon SuperS (special)||So-so||In case you forgot about Sailor Moon's origins and early battles, this special provides a few flashbacks and stock footage character introductions. The second half involves a vampire unrelated to the main villains, and has a pretty standard "Call Pegasus + Long Finishing Attack" conclusion. (SMSS TV really pushes it on attack time length, btw.) Nothing too special about this special, which is only available on fansub, probably for a reason.|
|Sailor Moon SuperS Movie: Black Dream Hole||Decent||Chibi-usa in one of her least annoying moments. The SMSS movie is cute, childish, and whimsical, much like the series. Features some of the best flight, action, and mother-daughter bonding scenes of the 3 movies, although the plot, once again, involves a "Join up with the Outer Senshi and defeat the mysterious invader from space" story.|
|Sailor Moon SuperS Plus - Ami's First Love (special)||Decent||A short special for Ami fans about her being deceived by some random monster. Has Ami at her "Sailor Senshi of Love and Exams" academic best. Not bad, and worth watching, but no tragedy will befall you if you miss this.|
|Sailor Victory (OAV)||Not really good||Another entry in the Graduation franchise that gave rise to several distinct OVA series in the 1990s. Even with two viewings, I wasn't drawn into or seriously entertained by the parody and comedy in Sailor Victory. But hey, it's got mecha, drills, and lots of stuff getting destroyed. All in all, not an awful entry, just one of those "there's better ways to spend an hour" shows.|
|Saint October (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Saishū Shiken Kujira (ONA)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Saiyuki (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Saiyuki: Requiem (movie)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Sakura Diaries (OAV)||Decent||Suffers from "way too short for the manga" syndrome, but an engaging soap-operatic story nonetheless. One merit is its look into cram-school/ronin vs. university students and culture, which is something we don't get to see in very many anime, though the main focus is the love triangle. If you take guilty pleasure in watching people lie to and deceive each other, Sakura Diaries may be for you. The fact that one of the girls is Touma's cousin makes things more interesting; it should be noted that this sort of relationship isn't seen through the same taboo lens in Japan as it is elsewhere. While I don't usually judge anime favorably for having fanservice, some of the scenes of Urara are enough to score points, mainly because they're not like recent anime where it's "Girl gets exposed + guy accidentally sees but can't look away + girl pummels guy"--Urara isn't just showing off for the fans, she knows what she's doing.|
|Sakura Taisen: Ecole de Paris (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sakura Taisen: Le Nouveau Paris (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Sakura Taisen: New York NY. (OAV)||So-so||Yet another Sakura Wars OVA based on a game I have zero experience with. (Although I understand Sakura Wars V actually is out in North America now.) So, predictably, you get dropped into the middle of a story and a cast of characters you're expected to know about. Despite all that, Sakura Wars: New York NY is reasonably entertaining. If only the villain weren't so generic, and if only there was more focus on the classic steam-powered mecha and less focus on ancient Egyptian laser beams.|
|Sakura Taisen: Sumire (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Sakura Wars (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sakura Wars 2 (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Sakura Wars: The Movie||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Samurai 7 (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Samurai Champloo (TV)||Very good||AKA "Samurai Bebop," lol. Like Cowboy Bebop, SC is mainly episodic with a vague quest and enemy in the background. But mainly, it's an excuse for a historically irreverent hip-hop-filled trip through Japan, focusing on a misfit trio and their adventures in trying to find food, transportation, and sometimes a little "action." As a result, some of the individual stories are hit-and-miss for comedy, but the characters rarely fail to entertain, and once the main plot ends, the series ends on a fitting and perfectly appropriate note. Animation/fight scenes are well-drawn and fluid like CB, and come on, what is funnier than a samurai holding a pistol in true American "ghetto-capping" style?|
|Samurai Deeper Kyo (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Samurai Girls (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Samurai Harem (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sands of Destruction (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Save Me! Lollipop (TV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|School Days (ONA)||Weak||*comment pending*|
|School Days (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|School Days: Magical Heart Kokoro-chan (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|School Days: Valentine Days (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|School Rumble (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|School Rumble: 2nd Semester (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|School Rumble: Extra Class (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Scrapped Princess (TV)||Excellent (dub), Masterpiece (sub)||Top 30 #02: the dub gets a slightly lower rating because of confusion on names--for some reason, they don't observe the Cin > Cz name change/transformation, and call her Cz throughout, which distorts some of the story/dialogue. Read more about why ScraPrin is my 2nd favorite anime in the "Top 30 Anime" list.|
|Secret Desires: Passions of the Midara (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Seifuku Shojo (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Seitokai Yakuindomo (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Sekirei (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sekirei: Pure Engagement (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sentimental Journey (TV)||Good||Like Diamond Daydreams, Sentimental Journey takes the "remove the male lead" approach when it comes to creating dating-game-based anime. If you're familiar with this genre, this isn't much of a loss, and this anime is left with "a story of 12 girls in 12 cities." So, no main plot, just separate stories about a variety of girls--if you want a beginning-to-end plot, look elsewhere. Opinions will vary, but if you get into it, you should find a few of the girls and situations interesting. No fanservice; just 12 stories of life, love, happiness, and sadness. I bought SJ on impulse for less than $20, and wasn't disappointed.|
|Seraphim Call (TV)||Good||I've seen some weird anime in my day, and while one might not expect it, Seraphim Call deserves to be rated among them. You might not think it, as SC is portrayed as a fluffy, episodic anime similar to Sentimental Journey, with 11 stories of 11 girls + an epilogue to bring them all together. But, settings and situations are quite inventive--not only is everything set on a futuristic island city, you get a mix of mechs and action in with the standard stories of romance and coming-of-age for these girls. Along the way, you get an episode through the eyes of a stuffed animal, a manga-style episode, two (budget-saving) episodes centered on each of two twins, and some surreal / time-travelling / alternate reality stories. Again, very strange, and there's even an episode about pi! (the number 3.14157...) I can't say I've seen that in any other anime. Can you?|
|Serial Experiments Lain (TV)||Excellent||There's so much one could say about Serial Experiments: Lain, but it's the kind of anime you have to experience for yourself. Not too many series have this much capacity to challenge, confuse, and annoy viewers while still keeping them hooked. Part of the "challenge" is staying awake through dialogue-free scenes with bizarre visuals, but there is a story behind it all. SEL is also a commentary on modern values and our addiction to the virtual world, and contains the distinctive ABe art style found in NieA_7 and Haibane Renmei. No cute or lolibait designs to be found, either. So, SEL is weird and hard to understand, but at the risk of sounding elitist, you've got to see Lain to be among the hardcore anime fans. And if you're a poser, I *will* track you down, beat you up, and steal your lunch money, lol.|
|Sex Demon Queen (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Sex Exchange (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Sex Taxi (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Sexfriend (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Sextra Credit (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Shadow Star Narutaru (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Shakugan no Shana (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Shakugan no Shana S (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Shakugan no Shana Second (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Shakugan no Shana Tokubetsuhen: Koi to Onsen no Kougai Gakushuu! (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Shakugan no Shana-tan (special)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Shakugan no Shanatan Returns (special)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Shamanic Princess (OAV)||So-so||For a mid-90s OVA, Shamanic Princess has good production values and music, but the plot is convoluted enough that most of the characters' actions don't appear to have any motivation. Still, if you like fantasy action, elaborate magic, and bad-ass babes in tight clothing, ShP can be enjoyable, and the time structure deserves a look, as the last two episodes lead chronologically into the first, with the fourth episode being the "end" of the storyline. Unfortunately, I found Shamanic Princess to be forgettable overall, but that might be because I treated it as a "watch in English while folding laundry" anime and didn't pay enough attention.|
|Shattered Angels (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|She and Her Cat (OAV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Sherlock Hound (TV)||Good||An undervalued classic, Sherlock Hound is one of those series where the English audio is definitely better than the Japanese. The British accents fit the setting so well that you won't want anything else, though the Japanese track isn't bad by any means. With some assistance from Miyazaki Hayao in early episodes, SH is basically "Sherlock Holmes with dogs," and while not 100% faithful to the Arthur Conan Doyle works, this series is pure innocent fun. The plots are the standard, "Moriarty has fiendish plot and Sherlock Hound foils it," but the scenarios and early 20th-century-esque technology make almost every episode worth watching. I tracked this series down because I remembered seeing some of the airplane scenes (in episode 10) 15+ years ago, and when I finally got to that episode again, my memories weren't disappointed. The scene that begins when Mrs. Hudson says, "Watson, give me your gun!" is forever etched in my mind as something that great animation experiences should be.|
|Shigofumi - Letters from the Departed (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Shin Koihime Musō (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Shin Koihime Musō (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Shin Koihime Musō: Otome Tairan (TV)||Decent|
|Shin Ringetsu (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Shinesman (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Shrine of the Morning Mist (TV)||So-so||Shrine of the Morning Mist receives a special award as the "Most Awesomely Mediocre Anime" that I've ever seen. From its standard plot (childhood friends/cousins romance + boy in danger + magical fighting team + monster-of-the-week + evil villains who want to destroy the world) to its sketchy animation quality to to its incongruous OP/ED its shallow characters, everything about SMM screams out "middle-of-the-road." (And, my personal "most emotional moments" involved some of the supporting villains, rather than the conclusion or the main couple.) Still, it's got some decent comedy and fun poked at Magical Girl anime, though instead of outright parody, it's the girls imitating what they would have knowledge of as average Japanese girls. The dub is also passable and adds some comedy of its own. With a complete collection priced at the cost of of a single DVD, and 26 short episodes that you can watch quickly by skipping the OP/ED, SMM is a tempting anime snack. Also, it's worthwhile to see some Japanese mythology and Shinto content, a sort of educational value that you don't get from most anime.|
|Shuffle! (TV)||Good||When this first started coming out, I thought, "*rolls eyes* another game-based harem anime," but Shuffle! really does have some powerful drama in the later episodes, and I quickly caught up with the show to see it all. In the end, Shuffle! is pretty satisfying, despite some animation quality issues in the second half of the last episode. The main drama gets resolved, and we see a comedic epilogue with the best of all the girls. *comment (update) pending*|
|Shugo Chara! (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Shugo Chara! Party! (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Shugo Chara!! Doki— (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Shusaku the Letch (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Sin Sorority (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Sinners Paradise (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Sister Princess (TV)||So-so||A dating-sim based harem anime without the fanservice. That is the essence of Sister Princess, sometimes jokingly called "Sister Princest." However, if you've seen Angel Sanctuary/Utena/Koi Kaze, you won't find anything disturbing in SP. What you will find is an assortment of brightly drawn girls who like to do cute/interesting things, all for the sake of their older brother. Surprisingly, the skin-baring type of fanservice is limited to a couple of beach episodes, and while the plot is threadbare, you'll probably find a few girls appealing enough to make the series worth watching. At the very least, Sister Princess is silly, "guilty pleasure" comedy, which is more than can be said of its sequel, see below.|
|Sister Princess: Re Pure (TV)||Weak||Many say that Sister Princess ~RePure~ is superior to the first Sister Princess series, and in some ways, they're right; the art for the girls is better, the music is more serious/artistic, and the comedy & side characters that filled the first series have been eliminated. However, the literary theory side of me simply won't let RePure slide. Sorry, but any sort of story, in book, stage, film, or animated form needs to have some kind of conflict and character development. SPRP has neither. What it does have is 13 episodes about 12 sisters who love their older brother, and their older brother (who in this series is a nameless, 0.5-dimensional character) who is kind/loving/gentle/etc. That's how the anime starts, and that's how the anime ends. The end result is a boring assembly of vignettes (not helped by constant stillframes) about unfounded insecurities and non-problem "problems" that mainly appeals to fans of the game who were dissatisfied with the first series and want to see their favorite sister in vulnerable, moemoe situations. (I have nothing against episodic "anthology" series either; see Diamond Daydreams, Sentimental Journey, Shinigami no Ballad, etc., but those actually had conflict and plot within each story arc.) Some of the episodes with Sakuya and Chikage were OK, but the rest made me hate all the girls that I was indifferent to in the first series. I'd take the cute, hokey comedy of SP 1 over this junk any day.|
|Sketchbook ~full color'S~ (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Sky Girls (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Sky Girls (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Slayers (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Slayers - The Motion Picture||Decent||My first introduction to the world of Slayers (still need to watch the TV series, though). It's quite accessible, with no previous knowledge of characters required. It's an all right movie, though I don't remember much aside from big br3asts, magic spells, and time travel. At least I finally got to see "That overkill Dragon Slave thingy" that I had read about in various other places.|
|Slayers Excellent (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Slayers Gorgeous (movie)||Good||The fourth Slayers movie, and the last "classic" movie before Slayers Premium came along as [what was thought to be] the last send-off for the Slayers franchise. Gorgeous offers more of the same elements that viewers have come to expect from the previous two movies. This one plays up Lina's Dragon Slave a bit more, and the effects that her mere name and presence have on dragons are quite amusing to watch. Of course, Lina and Naga once again get embroiled in a local conflict, this time between a king and his allowance-hungry daughter. We get some minor skirmishes, Naga gloating (complete with trademark laughter) and some scenes of mass destruction as the movie winds down. There's nothing groundbreaking about Gorgeous, but if you tolerate Slayers in general and the movie/OVA versions in particular, there's no reason not to watch it.|
|Slayers Great (movie)||So-so||Another grand misadventure of the unequally endowed twosome, Lina Inverse and Naga the Serpent. This is the third of the five Slayers movies, and features Lina and Naga wandering into a town and finding themselves on opposite sides of a local rivalry. In this case, it's a rivalry between a father and son on the aesthetics of golem construction, and between two local nobles, both of whom believe that the other is planning to use golems for conquest. The action that ensues is pretty much an excuse to play up Lina and Naga's main characteristics, all culminating in a wacky yet pointless golem battle that allows for lots of destruction and magical mayhem. Nothing profound or serious here, but chances are if you're really looking for that, you're staying away from anything with "Slayers" in the title in the first place.|
|Slayers Next (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Slayers Premium (movie)||Good||Now that I've rewatched Slayers Premium after seeing all 3 seasons of Slayers TV, all 6 OVA episodes, and the first 4 movies, my earlier comment has been validated. When I saw it a few years ago, I could only think of it as a random short movie that involved a bunch of characters from a larger franchise that I was only vaguely familiar with. But the second time around, I was able to see it as it was meant to be seen: as a final send-off and presents to fans who had followed the franchise for the 6 years of its existence. In true fanfic fashion, Premium is a chance for all the major characters to come together to do their thing and have one last adventure. There's some plot about octopi trying to take over the world via what CPM called a Monster (aka "Mazoku" or the more awkward "demon folk" as rendered by ADV), but it doesn't really matter -- you know Lina and her friends will save the day again, running through all their standard eating, quibbling, romantic posturing, and magical destruction antics along the way. Premium also had the advantage of being produced in 2001 and having access to CGI techniques, resulting in animation of much better quality than the older incarnations, and some very slick CG-intensive action scenes. However, part of me thinks that Slayers "belonged" in the 1990s, and the character designs lose some of their rough charm of days past with the shiny updated designs of Premium. While it was sad to see the final "Yes, this is really the end" come across the screen, maybe it was also for the best that they didn't try to extend a very 90s franchise into the 2000s, thereby avoiding the mistake committed by Burn Up! Scramble and You're Under Arrest! Full Throttle.|
|Slayers Return (movie)||Good||Slayers Return is a bit different from the other Slayers movies in that it does not involve Lina and Naga taking sides with opposing factions to bring about mass chaos. Sure, there is mass chaos, but it comes from an external threat and carries with it a sense of real danger, which is fairly unusual in the Slayers movies. Look for some remarkably detailed city destruction scenes that completely outclass the animation level of the TV series. Also, the plotline involves a bit of world history that ties in with the mythos established by the TV series -- another rarity for Slayers movies. While Return does have a slightly darker feel, there's still lots of Slayers-brand fun to be had, especially in Naga and Lina's materialism disguised as altruism that motivates them to help the oppressed villagers.|
|Slayers Special (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Slayers Try (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Softenni (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sōkyū no Fafner - Single Program - Right of Left- (special)||Excellent||A prequel to the events of the main Fafner series. Right of Left fills in some of the gaps in Tatsumiya Island's history of maneuvers against the Festums. Everything looks, sounds, and feels as good as it did in the TV series, and it's interesting to get a few glimpses of Soushi and some of the other characters before they assumed their primary roles in the island's defense. And like some of the best moments of Fafner, this special revisits the meaning and value of sacrifice in the struggle against powerful enemies and overwhelming odds. I don't know if Right of Left would have fit in during the airing of the main series -- the drastic historical flashback could have wrecked the pacing. But it is a shame that Geneon didn't release it along with the TV series; it would've made a nice extra, maybe split into two parts on discs 6 and 7.|
|Sola (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Solty Rei (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Someday's Dreamers (TV)||Very good||Someday's Dreamers is an interesting series in that if it had aired in Japan this year, R1 companies would've taken one look and let it languish in niche fansub obscurity. But, I guess times used to be better for artsy, slow-moving, slice-of-life series that don't have any of the 6 "Big Hooks" (big guns, big swords, big laughs, big explosions, big robots, big breasts). That said, enjoying Someday's Dreamers requires a certain tolerance for this type of anime. The setup is intriguing; a world of "bureaucratized magic," and an average girl trying to make her way through her training. The art, though not necessarily the animation, is a real treat -- highly realistic (despite all the magic) and detail for backgrounds, distinctive character designs that don't copycat from other series, and some nice CG for magic effect, though this CG is often recycled. Yume's Japanese VA is a great example of natural voicing that doesn't even sound like "acting."
While the plot generally succeeds in its intention of portraying "slife + magic," several episodes fall into the mold of Yume encountering some situation, being told not to use magic, using magic anyway, and having to do some 'splaining and apologizing in the end. Expect lots of talk of "precious feelings" and "do my best." Still, SD is a great series for fans who aren't bored by this type of show, with several touching sidestories and a satisfying conclusion in only 12 episodes. Sadly, I doubt that it sold too well, judging by the fact that I found the Vol.1 + Box new for less than 1/10th of MSRP.
|Someday's Dreamers II Sora (TV)||Good|
|Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke o - Anata to Koibito Tsunagi (OAV)||Decent|
|Sora no Iro, Mizu no Iro (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Sorcerer Hunters (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sorcerer Hunters (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Sorcerer on the Rocks (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Soreyuke! Gedou Otometai (TV)||Decent|
|Soul Link (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Space Family Carlvinson (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Spectral Force (OAV)||Awful||Really, really bad short OVA based on a JRPG. Not recommended at all. See full review here.|
|Spice and Wolf (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Spice and Wolf II (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Spirited Away (movie)||Masterpiece||Somehow, a story steeped in Japanese folklore/mythology has become accessible to and beloved by Western audiences. How did this come to be? Chances are, it's the combination of the resources of Disney and the brilliance of Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli. [incomplete]|
|Squid Girl (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Star Driver (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Star Ocean EX (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko II (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Starship Operators (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Steel Angel Kurumi (TV)||Good||Just watch a few episodes, you'll be singing along with the contagiously cute OP before you know it. While the warrior-robot-maid idea is nothing new, SAK is a fun ride that manages to put together a developed, dramatic storyline by the end. Comedy and fanservice abound, of course, but everything's cute, bright, and colorful enough to gain the viewers' forgiveness. One hidden value of SAK is that it allows a look into 1910s Japan and Onmyou mysticism, and the DVD extras enhance the cultural experience even more. So, for at least the first season, SAK is cute and fun, and the half-length episodes will go by at a quick pace. Fans of incestuous shoujo-ai will also find something to like here.|
|Steel Angel Kurumi 2 (TV)||So-so||Unfortunately, the move to the modern setting kills some of the charm of the first SAK series, and the non-Angel characters are definitely lacking compared to Nakahito et al. SAK 2 moves a bit more into the realm of absurdity and shoujo-ai...not that those weren't present in the first series, but SAK2 goes a bit too far sometimes. At least it doesn't completely destroy the series' charm as much as SAK Zero does, and if you buy the SAK complete collection, you may as well watch the two discs of SAK 2--it won't take too much out time out of your life, at least.|
|Steel Angel Kurumi Encore (OAV)||Good||A nice comedic continuation and conclusion of the events of the first series. If you really wanted to, you could call it a day and end Steel Angel Kurumi after this, without much consequence.|
|Steel Angel Kurumi Zero (OAV)||Weak||Ugh. Utterly pointless. Save your time and bandwidth, and download something else. Plot consists mainly of Kurumi sitting around the house pondering how she loves some boy, and all the characters have been stripped of what made them interesting in previous series--no smart remarks from Karinka, and no incestuous lesbian advances from Saki. Animation of the characters is pretty, but the show's animation is cheap, since they never leave the house or do anything. This is a shame, because they're surrounded by a sci-fi futuristic world that would be worthwhile to explore. ADV, I don't blame you for not rushing out to license and release this.|
|Stellvia (TV)||Decent||Stellvia's good points and bad points add up to a middle-of-the-road series. Like a previous product of the director's, Nadesico, it's a fun "kids in space" series. One of the best aspects is the concept of humanity united and working together for a common goal that doesn't involve defeating aliens/Angels/giant mecha/etc.. Even at the darkest hours, the whole series carries a positive, inspirational feeling, especially at the end. But Stellvia doesn't come without negatives. Some might not like the two-arc structure of the series, and some of the character interactions (mainly between Shima and the other girls) stray into the realm of the implausible melodramatic, as opposed to the plausible melodramatic. Character designs are another sticking point. They're cute and all, but they may be a little too loli for comfort. I mean, I like "absolute zone"
|Step Sister (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Step Up Love Story (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Stepmother's Sin (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|(The) Story of Little Monica (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry (TV)||So-so||Just as the rating suggests, this series is nothing more than so-so. I'm not sure why I even started watching it, maybe because it was showing at a convention where I had nothing to do and some SoCo in my glass. At first it starts out as a passable space/mecha series, with main character Sara being a respectable, serious girl focused on her revenge against her brother, to the exclusion of all else. There's some standout "insectoid" mecha, and some good efforts at portraying near-lightspeed space combat, even if the physics are all wrong. And most likely they are. I think what kept me watching at first were the fanservice elements and the overt shoujo-ai elements stemming from a girl with a crush on the main character. But somewhere around the 2/3 mark of the series, SnS began to "strain" credulity, suspension-of-disbelief, and this viewer's tolerance for eye-rolling plot developments. I'd say it started with some silly romantic/jealousy hijnx being exploited as a major plot development in the war/action aspect of the series, and from there things just went downhill with waaay too much brother-complexing from the main character and a supporting female character. When things finally came to a close with the revelation of Big Secrets and the reasoning behind Sara's brother's actions, it took a lot of willpower to avoid throwing things at the screen. If you're diving into Soukou no Strain just don't take it too seriously, don't expect too much, and watch it for the fanservice & shoujo-ai.|
|Stratos 4 (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Stratos 4 (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Stratos 4 Advance (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Stratos 4 Advance Kanketsuhen (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Strawberry Eggs (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Strawberry Marshmallow (TV)||Excellent||Don't be fooled by the 4chan macros and PedoBear's Seal of Approval on Strawberry Marshmallow; this is a shining example of cute, relaxing comedy at its best. To address the "pedo-bait" concerns over SM: yes, this show's target audience is most likely males over the age of 18. But it's not for those men to drool over the underage female characters; rather, it's a way to escape into a more innocent, carefree world, and having the characters be female is merely another way of enhancing that feeling of "difference." Yeah, there are a few questionable scenes and moments, but I stand by my subjective opinion that it's not a pedobait series.
So what does SM have to offer, then? Well, if you're looking for a continuous, coherent plot, look elsewhere, because this is very much a pure slice-of-life series. The real source of entertainment is the characters: Nobue, the de facto central character, narrator, and "big sister" to the younger girls; Chika, the no-nonsense straight-laced girl who becomes abnormal in her normalcy; Matsuri, a loveable shy/clumsy girl; Ana, the English trans-culturated girl with an odd sense of linguistic and cultural identity; and then there's the mischievous, precocious Miu. Given the time, I could write pages on Miu Matsuoka, but let's just say there's a reason Geneon played her up on the DVD covers and other artwork. Sometimes you wonder why the other girls put up with Miu's constant pranks, teasing, and attention-seeking (refer to Miu's constant off-camera beatdowns, which never get old), but it's evident that there's never a dull moment with Miu around. She's got the kind of whimsical, imaginative personality that I wish I could find in females twice her age. For those of you who've read the Bill Watterson newspaper comic "Calvin and Hobbes," Miu basically is Calvin, the Japanese and female version...just like Calvin, Miu is constantly inventing her own reality and imposing that reality on everyone around her, with hilarious results. In summary, Strawberry Marshmallow probably isn't for everyone, as some will be understandably bored or even creeped out by it. But if you don't mind ordinary situations and a laidback pace, then get it now before it goes away in the wake of Geneon's shutdown.
|Strawberry Panic! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Strike Witches (OAV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Strike Witches (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Strike Witches 2 (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Student Council's Discretion (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Sugar Sugar Rune (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Sugar: A Little Snow Fairy (TV)||Very good||If you like cute shows with cute characters and no fanservice/sexual overtones, then this show is required viewing. May be cuteness overdose for those who aren't into the genre. It really does conjure memories of shows like "The Noozles" on Nick Jr. in the late 1980s (I'm really showing my age here)--normal girl leads fairly normal life, but has adventures with magical creatures that only she can see. After finishing it, I can say that Sugar: A Little Snow Fairy deserves its place in my "Lachrymose" subcategory--it's so cute, so sweet, and yet so sad, even though you know what's going to happen. Those who dismiss "Sugar" for being too childish/girly are truly missing out.|
|Sugar: A Little Snow Fairy Summer Special||Good||Set a few years after episode 24, this special is mainly a flashback to events that took place during the series. These events don't add too much, but it's great fun to see Sugar and the rest of the characters doing their thing once again. After the flashback, we get some ending scenes that help cement the poignancy of the series' conclusion. It's not what the viewer hopes for, but it feels right anyway. Worth watching.|
|Suite Precure (TV)||Good|
|Sukeban Deka (OAV)||So-so||Lol, combat yo-yos. Otherwise, a good representative work of delinquent anime/manga from the late 80s/early 90s. Or maybe it's a parody of that genre. Shows how much I know...|
|Sukisho (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|_Summer (OAV)||So-so||A full review by me can be found here. As a bishoujo game adaptation, _Summer might have been better as a 12-episode series than a 2-episode OVA. You can expect all the comfortable trappings of the genre: nondescript male lead, male lead's gregarious male sidekick, childhood friend, little sister, tsundere school friend, mysterious senpai girl, etc. Many of the events are wholly predictable. While the idea of "Male lead not particularly interested in any one girl for unknown reasons" was somewhat original, 2 episodes wasn't enough to fully develop it or to conclude anything. For those looking for a quick watch of something with pretty girls, _Summer is fluffy, charming, and cute enough to satisfy, but it still leaves you with that empty, unfulfilled feeling in the end.|
|Summer Wars (movie)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (movie)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Super GALS (TV)||Good||A fun and underrated series, and I wish it had done good enough in sales to support English dubbing of the second season. We don't see kogals that much in anime, and the zany fun shoujo comedy of SG rarely misses the mark--the characters are diverse (in design), the artwork is *very* stylized, and even the repeated gags with Ran's parents and teachers don't get tiresome. When they're not being funny, the characters actually go through some very sad/tender moments, especially Miyu and her broken family / gang history. *** The second season continues on with more of the same from the first season in terms of the fun Shibuya adventures, only it's not entirely "more of the same." Once Miyu's relationship with Yamato becomes solidified, the series loses "will they or won't they" energy it had before. To make up for it, SG! switches its romantic focus to the Aya-Rei pairing, spending a lot of time on Aya angsting over not being "good enough" or whatever. Still, the kicking ass and adherence to ironclad rules for GALS continue from Ran's side of things, and we get more development from other side characters such as Yuuya and Mami. In fact, one of the standout episodes concerns a very minor character (one of Ran's school friends) and her past. "Childhood friend"-type love stories are seldom done this well.
And when all was said and done, I was sad to say goodbye to Ran and the rest of the gang, but I hope to someday return to Shibuya and see it all again. Incidentally, a more detailed review by me can be found here.
|Super Milk-chan (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Super Milk-chan Show (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Suzuka (TV)||Good||I don't normally go for sports anime, though to be honest, Suzuka isn't really a sports anime--it's a high school drama/romance about characters who happen to be involved in athletics. Chances are, you will seriously hate Yamato for being stupid (and various characters will agree with your opinion), but I guess that's how high school can be. If you're looking for pretty girls, Suzuka has an assortment of shapes and sizes, though the etchi factor is toned down from the T&A-filled manga. While it doesn't animate the whole manga, the 26 episodes are sufficient to provide a better conclusion than most shounen romance series (i.e. Girls Bravo, Love Hina), and there are some "dark past" issues that make Suzuka more serious than what you might think from merely reading a standard summary. The manga is due to be released here in August.|
|Taboo Charming Mother (OAV)||Good||all hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Tanjou ~Debut~ (OAV)||Good||My main claim to fame in the ANN Encyclopedia, or so I'd like to believe...I submitted Tanjou ~Debut~ after not finding it, and contributed a significant portion of the existing data.
This is a mid-90s OVA based on a dating-sim game, and as such has a similar look and feel to other OVAs like Tokimeki Memorial and Graduation. So expect lots of ornate, colorful 90s-anime hairstyles. The two episodes are completely distinct stories built around the same set of characters. The first is a run-of-the-mill story about a girl who pines over a guy, gets excited over a date with said guy, and learns some Life Lessons in the end. "Reality is not always kind to girls with dreams," as I wrote in the plot summary. Pleasant enough, but relatively throwaway and forgettable. The second episode was more engaging to me, as it brought in some supernatural and tragic elements involving a time capsule that the girls buried back in elementary school. If you've seen AIR, Kanon, and other recent anime like them, episode 2 of Tanjou ~Debut~ probably won't be earthshattering. However, you have to remember that this was made back in 1994, before ONE, Kanon, and other "crying games" changed the landscape of romance games and the anime based on them. So I can imagine this OVA having a much bigger impact on the audiences of yesteryear than the audiences of today. Although Tanjou ~Debut~ will never have "classic anime" status, it has historical value for those interested in this particular niche of anime.
|Tantei Opera Milky Holmes (TV)||Good|
|Tantei Opera Milky Holmes Dai-Ni-Maku (TV)||Good|
|Tantei Opera Milky Holmes Summer Special||Good|
|Taro the Dragon Boy (movie)||Very good||One of the first anime I ever saw, back in the day when my parents happened to have a copied dubbed VHS tape. Taro~ is old enough to be "classic," and is based on an old folktale of a selfish boy who gains superhuman strength and journeys in search of his missing mother, who was cursed for her greedy appetite. The dub was actually good (from what I remember), and I'm looking foward to watching it again on DVD. This movie is a great example of anime before the times of mass-market, worldwide consumption--there's nothing flashy or stylized, no big-breasted & scantily-clad women, just characters, a story, and old-school, watercolor-like animation.|
|Tayutama - Kiss on My Deity (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi in Tokyo (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo Movie 1: Tenchi in Love||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo Movie 2: Daughter of Darkness||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo Movie 3: Tenchi Forever||Good||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo! (OAV 1/1992)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo! GXP (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki (OAV 3/2003)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo! Ryo Ohki: Final Confrontations (OAV)||Bad||THIS is it? THIS is the last episode that exists in the main Tenchi Muyo! storyline? The previous six episodes had their ups and downs, but this one is just a galaxy-sized disappointment. Mainly because of its (mis-) handling of the life, times, and death of Tenchi's mother. I have to say I liked the first movie's version of events better.|
|Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (OAV 2/1994)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Muyo! The Night Before The Carnival (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Tenchi Universe (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Tenjho Tenge (TV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Tenjho Tenge: Ultimate Fight (OAV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|Tenshi na Konamaiki (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Tenshi no Shippo Chu! (TV)||So-so||In this sequel to Angel Tales, all the animal girls are introduced and established, so there's none of the painful awkwardness or "look at what a loser this guy is" that marred the early episodes of the first season. There's also no silly attempt at a Serious-Business earth-shattering storyline, which brought down the later episodes of S1. While Angel Tales 2 avoids some of the pitfalls of its predecessor, it also lacks some of the appeal and charm that the first season enjoyed. Foremost are the pets' "traumas," which made for some choice flashbacks and sentimental moments in S1. With those all out of the way, there's less potential for that kind of drama. There's also far less focus on Goro Mutsumi in general, as he morphs into one of those 1950s "Hi Honey I'm Home" quasi-father-figures. So what's left in AT2? Mainly, it focuses on the girls, either individuals or selected age groups. So while S1 was the story of Goro and his well-intentioned but tragic pet-minding history, S2 is a series of isolated vignettes. A fair number of these vignettes feature the girls dealing with their feelings towards Goro, but hey, you take what you can get. There's not much of an overall story, but given AT1's mostly-inept final arc, this might not be such a bad thing. There is some focus on the past and future of the Goddess, which was nice, but the 7 episode (many of them split to half-episodes) runtime didn't allow for much to develop. This leads me to believe that the anime was intended more as a voice actress vehicle and character CD single promotion engine than anything else. I can't say I blame Bandai for not knocking down doors to get Angel Tales 2 brought over here.|
|Texhnolyze (TV)||Excellent||You might ask, "What's this series doing in a list of childish/girl/kawaii anime?" While Texhnolyze is perhaps the most violent and depressing anime that I've ever seen, I had to check it out because of Yoshitoshi ABe's involvement. If you can stay awake, Tx is a rich yet subtle visual feast, with incredibly detailed drawings of a dirty and bleak world. Character and story stylings follow in the tradition of Lain and Haibane Renmei --beyond all the violence, gang wars, and death, it's a story about where humanity is and where it's going (hint: nowhere fast). If you're looking for "off the beaten path" anime, you won't find any schoolgirls in skirts, comic relief animals, giant eyes, or super-deformed characters here. Tx is a challenge to follow (bring the caffeine/Red Bull), but if you're tired of paint-by-numbers plots and cookie-cutter characters, the confusion and weirdness of Texhnolyze may be for you. If all anime were predictable and easy to understand, we wouldn't like it so much, after all.|
|They Were 11 (movie)||Good||*comment pending*|
|This Ugly Yet Beautiful World (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Those Who Hunt Elves (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Those Who Hunt Elves 2 (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|To Heart (TV)||Good||One of the first major examples of the "This was an ero-game but we took all the sex out to put it on TV" genre. Since it spends some episodes focusing on the minor girls from the game (gotta please the game's fans, after all), some of To Heart may seem too random and episodic, especially when strange robots and witchcraft pop up. Overall, To Heart is cute, innocent, romantic fun, with an assortment of girls in seifuku to meet every taste. This is the anime that helped launch the careers of Kawasumi Ayako (Akari) and Horie Yuui (Multi), and Multi was endearing enough to the fans to build interest in...|
|To Love-Ru (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Toaru Majutsu no Index II (TV)|
|ToHeart - Remember my memories (TV)||Decent||...the next series, ToHeart~Remember my Memories~. The drawing style becomes less "anime" and more "game," and if you weren't a Multi fan in the first series, RMM will be hard to stand. There's still the focus on Hiroyuki and Akari, with a resolution of their situation, but RMM spends a lot of time on Multi while still spending a few episodes on the minor characters. Nonetheless, it's a good anime to watch if you're itching for more To Heart, even if you aren't a big Multi fan.|
|ToHeart2 (TV)||Decent||A fairly light spinoff of the To Heart franchise, with no relation to "To Heart" and "To Heart ~remember my memories~," so there's no Multi here. The "main character" focus is somewhat split between childhood friends Konomi and Takagi, and many episodes feature Taka-kun's interactions with an assortment of girls...from shy to alien to occult-maniac to "onee-san-type" girls. Overall, the mood is innocent, relaxed, and fun...some say that it's loli / pedobait, and while it's true most of the girls are moemoe, there's not really anything sexual or loli about To Heart 2, not from what I've seen.|
|ToHeart2 (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|ToHeart2 adplus (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|ToHeart2ad (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Tokimeki Memorial (OAV)||So-so||Based on a famouse renai game, so I checked it out...unfortunately, unless you're familiar with the game and its characters, this 2-episode OVA feels like way too many girls' stories being crammed into way too little space. Artwork is pretty for its time, and it's worth watching to understand the "magic confession tree" references in other anime, but since I didn't know the game, I'm thinking that the upcoming TM TV series will be better and more complete. Plus, there were way too many lines like, "It's okay like this. I'm fine just watching him from afar." Come on, girls have needs and desires too! Does this OVA really expect me to believe they'll be "satisfied" with those situations?|
|Tokyo Godfathers (movie)||Very good||Shows a side of Japan ignored in most anime--the destitute, the deviant, and the homeless. After all, this is Japan, and if you're not rich enough to conform or simply don't choose to, you may as well not exist, lol. Very recommended on these reasons alone, but TG presents a wonderful story of human compassion and caring (for an abandoned baby) by those who don't receive any of it from society. My only question is, is naming girls "Kyouko" some kind of epidemic?|
|Tokyo Marble Chocolate (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Tokyo Mew Mew (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Tona-Gura! (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Toradora! (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Touka Gettan (TV)||Masterpiece||*comment pending*|
|(The) Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk (TV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|(The) Tower of Druaga: the Sword of Uruk (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Transformers: The Movie (U.S.)||Good||Well, it's been accused as being a marketing bridge between two sets of toys, but hey, we still get an epic battle against a powerful enemy, massive shakeups in the ranks of the Autobots and the Decepticons, and Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" in the soundtrack. Need we ask for more?|
|Triangle Heart: Sazanami Joshiryō (OAV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Triangle Heart: Sweet Songs Forever (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Trigun (TV)||Excellent||I almost never hear bad things about Trigun, an anime which has serves as a gateway for so many. Along with Chrno Crusade, Trigun is a prime example of anime that start one way and "bait-and-switch" the viewer into something else midway through as more character pasts and history become known to the viewers. Trigun is mainly for westerns/sci-fi/action lovers, but there's enough character interaction and hints of romance to keep other types of fans satisfied. Although some of the villains are random/undeveloped, the innovation in their design and the action scenes keep things interesting in the last half of the series. In the final few episodes, the moral dilemmae of the characters come to a head and the viewer gets to watch what characters are forced to do in desperate times. So, in summary, come in for the comedy, stay for the action, and leave after you've been through the moral and philosophical wringer.|
|Trinity Blood (TV)||Weak||For some reason or another, I like GONZO, which makes it all the harder to rate Trinity Blood so low. Their CG is pretty good most of the time, their shows have good atmosphere I can sink into, a sense of style and fun, and I've liked their character designs since ~2002 with shows like Full Metal Panic! and Kiddy Grade. TB falls right in the middle of their glory years, which more or less ended with 2006's Welcome to the NHK! imo. It looks great (minus some badly shortcutted fight scenes), it's got appealing female character designs, the OP/ED and BGM are eminently listenable, and the Funimation dub is excellent. Plus, it's got all the elements on paper for success in North America, with nothing too "Japanese" or "otaku" about it to decrease its accessibility. Of course, the flip side of that is that it comes across as a none-too-subtle ripoff of series like Trigun and Hellsing. Abel's goofy incompetence outside battle juxtaposed with frightening in-battle precision bring Vash the Stampede to mind, and his "Nanomachine limiter release blah blah blah" is taken straight from the Alucard playbook. To say nothing of the "vampire (-esque) being working with humans against vampires" element. After introducing its characters, TB winds through several distinct mini-arcs, some better than others, that have relatively little to do with each other or with constructing a larger plotline. Now, I have nothing against episodic "anthology" series with no overarching story like Mushi-Shi, but Trinity Blood's grandiose good-vs-evil clashing-empires setup promised far more than what was delivered here.
Beyond all that, the story that does occur is plagued with problems. One such problem is that many of the character actions and plot developments are completely predictable to the point where the audience sees them coming long before the characters do. And what doesn't fall into that category hits a deep fly ball into left-field wtf-just-happened territory. To make a good action/thriller like TB tries to be, you need to have "surprises" that aren't easily predictable by a saavy audience, but are still believable and logically consistent with the "universe" of the story. TB fails to do this. As if that weren't bad enough, the ending in the last 4-5 episodes is so out-of-nowhere and unsatisfying that you'll wonder what else you could've done with those 10 hours of your life. I understand that the author of the source novels died, which is unfortunate...but seriously, Xebec's ending for the 2005 Negima! series was far better than this crap. And it's sad, because the first 19 episodes or so feel worthwhile, despite all their flaws. Kind of like how I still like Gonzo, even when they make shows like this one.
|Tristia of the Deep Blue Sea (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Trouble Chocolate (TV)||Not really good||*comment pending*|
|True Blue (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|True Blue Gaiden (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|True Love Story (OAV)||Weak||*comment pending*|
|True Tears (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE (TV)||So-so||(for the time being, this comment only covers the first season)
Since I'd gained some fondness for CLAMP and enjoyed many of their animated adaptations, I thought I'd give their massively-multimedia-crossover, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle a try. (Sorry, I'm not going to abide by the random capitalization sCHemE for the title.) Where did I go wrong? I lost track of the characters I liked, somewhere in the blandness. I mean, we start out with Cardcaptor Sakura characters as the central figures of the story. So far so good, I liked CCS. But wait, these voices are different? Where's Sakura Tange? I thought seeing Sakura Kinomoto "all grown up" (tm) would be a good thing, but not when she's become even more useless than the character of the same first name in Naruto. Okay, she's lost her memories and everything, but seriously, you can set your watch to her schedule of wandering off in whatever world they're in, getting in trouble, and forcing the plot to plod along. Shaoran doesn't fare much better in his re-imagined version. So the most interesting characters are the originals, Fai and Kurogane. Fai's "smooth operator" persona and calm demeanor contrast well with Kurogane's frustrated brusqueness, and the banter/bickering between the two was one of the few consistently entertaining elements of TRC. And of course Mokona; this show made me wish it had a speaking part in Magic Knight Rayearth.
As far as storyline is concerned, I can forgive the standard "jump to different worlds in search of items" setup. But apparently I wasn't as familiar with CLAMP's works as I should have been, as I don't really know their manga that haven't made the jump to anime. So there were a lot of "should have known them, but didn't" characters and references, thus reinforcing my appreciation for the TRC originals. All of this would've been tolerable if TRC wasn't so unrelentingly boring. With Bee Train's trademark looonngg slooww camera pans over stills, lengthy talking-heads sequences, and use of Yuki Kajiura's hypnotic music, you'll never be lacking for an insomnia remedy if you have this show on hand. Okay, so there wasn't the budget for high-grade animation. That's understandable, but even the dialogue is mind-numbing. (And this is coming from the scriptwriter of such amusing gems as Irresponsible Captain Tylor and Martian Successor Nadesico!) There's enough repetitive padding to turn any mind to mush. I can't recall specifics, but there are many, many exchanges like this:
Character A: We have to cross the river, enter the castle, and save Sakura.
Character B: So to save Sakura, we have to first cross the river, and then enter the castle?
Character C: Yes, Sakura's in the castle. But we can't get there unless we cross the river.
Audience: AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!!!!!!!
To make matters worse, there's an extremely tedious arc that takes up ~7 of the last 8 episodes of the first season, followed by a completely random filler episode to cap things off. So maybe TRC was originally a gripping and compelling manga that combined CLAMP crossovers with a new and exciting storyline. But even if that's the case, Bee Train and director Koichi Mashimo (who was also behind such snoozers as .hack//SIGN, Avenger, and Madlax) have turned it into one of those 6th-period-History slideshows that you're acutely tempted to sleep through...you know in your heart that the material should be interesting, but you just ate lunch and the music is lulling you into dreamland.
And the biggest bit of disbelief that I have to suspend is that I'm probably going to continue to the 2nd season.
|Tsuki wa Higashi ni Hi wa Nishi ni - Operation Sanctuary (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Tsuyokiss - Cool×Sweet (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|(The) Twelve Kingdoms (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Twilight Q (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Twin Spica (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Two Facials of Eve (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|UFO Princess Valkyrie: SPECIAL (OAV)||So-so||Not much more than a 45-minute recap of the first season, intended to drum up interest for Season 2. You probably won't care for this if you watch it right after the first season, but if you space things out by a few months, it's a nice refresher course to re-introduce the characters and remember the sequence of events in season 1, as disjointed and random as they were. There's some amusing and cynical commentary by Sanada and Hydra (respectively) to add some flavor to the proceedings.|
|UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 2: December Nocturne (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 3: Bride of Celestial Souls' Day (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie 4: Banquet of Time, Dreams, and Galaxies (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Ultimate Girls (TV)||Decent|
|Ultra Maniac (TV)||Good||You'll need to work that fast-forward button for the computer/transformation scenes in most episodes, and a certain tolerance for Magical Girl cuteness is required. That said, Ultra Maniac can be very enjoyable. Not many series can put a smile on my face for 20 minutes straight, and yet Ultra Maniac pulls it off. The series is a bit childish (aimed at junior high girls, most likely), but the character designs and voices are extremely cute and appealing (though not over the top), especially Nina. The facial expressions and reactions in UM are simply priceless, though fans of serious anime won't like them. As for the plot, it's interesting to see a Magical Girl setup combined with everyday school life and romance, instead of capturing cards or defeating evil villains that threaten the world. At the core is the friendship between Nina and Ayu, and the romantic tangles between them and some of the guys at school, with more drama / magical action at the end. If I hadn't already surrendered my masculinity at the end of Snow Fairy Sugar, I would have done so at the end of Ultra Maniac...|
|Ultra Maniac (OAV)||Decent||Maybe it was a test product or an attempt at introduction, but the TV series is better than this OVA, which features a retelling of an event from episode 3 of the TV series. Character designs and voice actors are different from the TV series, and as a result, this title just felt jarring and out of place, as I watched it after finishing UM TV.|
|Umezu Kazuo no Noroi (OAV)||Good||Good horror is hard to come by in the anime medium, or in many other media, for that matter. But I remember being genuinely scared and freaked out when I was translating the first half at 3AM one night. It manages to come up with some supernatural threats that I'd never seen in any other media, and I have to give it credit for that. The second tale is more standard, but it's still decently told. And the rough 80s/90s artwork only serves to enhance the atmosphere.|
|Umi Monogatari ~Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto~ (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Umineko: When They Cry (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|University Girls (OAV)||Worst ever||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Utawarerumono (TV)||So-so||*comment pending*|
|Uta∽Kata (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Uta∽Kata (OAV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Vandread (TV)||Very good||Top 30 #28 (tie): see comment in top 30|
|Vandread: The Second Stage (TV)||Very good||Top 30 #28 (tie): see comment in top 30|
|Vicious (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Video Girl Ai (OAV)||Good||We be kickin' it old school with Video Girl Ai, yo. The art will seem dated by today's standards, and the story compressed quite a bit of manga into 6 episodes, but VGAi is a solid entry and something of a "classic." The story has tones of fanboy wish fulfillment, though it also deconstructs the "fantasy girl" character simply by making her a real girl with real feelings and problems. The 6th episode leans towards the bizarre, but it's a crowning achievement in imagery (for the era) and symbolism of love and what it means to be in love. The manga is surely better, but Video Girl Ai is an excellent way to check out older romance/drama anime without committing to longer series like Marmalade Boy or Kimagure Orange Road.|
|Virgin Auction (OAV)||Weak||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Virgin Night (OAV)||Very good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|(The) Vision of Escaflowne (TV)||Excellent||Top 30 #26: see comment in Top 30|
|Voices of a Distant Star (OAV)||Good||Visually and emotionally stunning, more so when you consider that VoaDS, AKA "Hoshi no Koe" was made by essentially one person. It's a shame that it's only 25 minutes--even as a 6-episode OVA, this heartrending story could have been the next SaiKano. Even though I'm an emotional junkie who enjoys tearjerker anime, HnK didn't hit quite the right notes with me. That doesn't diminish its value at all, however. Check it out, if for nothing else than to see the true potential of artistic innovation and CGI technology.|
|Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer (OAV)||Bad||Or "Voltage Fighter Cowgazer," as some like to call it. Ironically, the large breasts and fanservice are about the only redeeming factors in this poorly-animated, poorly-plotted, poor excuse to cash in on a 16/32-bit fighting game. Another artifact of the 90s era of "release anything and R1 fans'll buy it just because it's anime."|
|Voyeur's Digest (OAV)||Not really good||all hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Wagnaria!! (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Wagnaria!! Season 2 (TV)||Excellent|
|Wandaba Style (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|We Without Wings - Under the Innocent Sky (TV)|
|(The) Weathering Continent (movie)||Decent|
|Wedding Peach (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Wedding Peach DX (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Welcome to Pia Carrot (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Welcome to Pia Carrot 2 (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Welcome to the NHK (TV)||Very good||"It's funny 'cause it's true, and it's not funny 'cause it's true." Welcome to the NHK starts strong with some amusing yet incisive send-ups of otaku culture, brings out some heavyweight emotional punches at the midpoint, languishes a bit with a filler-esque arc at the 3/4 mark, and then ends...somehow? While there are many anime that celebrate otaku culture and its holy trinity of Anime/Comics/Games, such as Comic Party, Genshiken, Lucky Star, and Doujin Work, not too many force viewers to take a hard, critical look at their own lifestyles. To be accurate though, NHK focuses more on shut-ins, or "hikikomori" than on otaku, but the overlap is undeniable. I'm told that the manga and novels are much more "extreme" and that the anime is watered-down in comparison, but since the anime was my first exposure to the story, I didn't feel that disappointment. What did disappoint me was the notable mediocre and inconsistent animation that had its good moments along with more than its share of bad moments. What also disappointed me was the ending, from its contrived setup to its fantastical tangent to its profound lack of romantic resolution. NHK came out with a lot of promise for a mature, adult-oriented story involving the relationship between the hikikomori protagonist Tatsuhiro Satou and the seemingly-normal (but deeply troubled) Misaki Nakahara. But on the romantic fulfillment scale, NHK compares unfavorably to decidedly "juvenile" anime like D.N. Angel.
It's a little hard for me to write about more specifics of Welcome to the NHK, partially because I saw it in late 2006, and also because it hits even closer to home than it did a year ago. At least I had a job back then. But despite its drawbacks, this series is practically a must-see for the hardcore fans out there. It may even be life-changing. EDIT: However, given the direction my life has taken as of April 2009, I don't think I can ever watch this series again. It just hits way too close to home.
|Wet Summer Days (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|When They Cry - Higurashi (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Whisper of the Heart (movie)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Wife Eater (OAV)||Not really good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Wife With Wife (OAV)||So-so||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|Wild Arms - Twilight Venom (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Wild Cardz (OAV)||Bad||*comment pending*|
|A Wind Named Amnesia (movie)||Very good||There are many divergent opinions out there on this movie, ranging from the very good to the very bad. Mine tends toward the "very good" end of the spectrum. While it premiered in 1993, it looks like it could've come from the heydays of the 1980s in terms of overall quality, and had plenty of current and future talent working on it. The main draw is the concept of worldwide amnesia and how it would affect humans in our modern society. I have to say it's not one of my top answers to the question, "If modern civilzation were to end, which anime apocalyptic scenario would you prefer?" (The winners: Evangelion and SaiKano. Quick and painless ftw.) From this concept, A Wind Named Amnesia gets a lot of mileage out of disturbing and depressing scenes of humans acting like (lesser) animals among the ruined shells of advanced society. It's very reminiscent of old-time sci-fi novels, especially the utopian computerized city that Johnny encounters.
Unfortunately, there are some flaws in the execution. You can only wring so much out of a main character who had forgotten everything and began to relearn some of it. Sophia is a murky character whose motivations are vague before they're explicitly revealed, and borderline incomprehensible once they are. And then there's the sentry robot that mercilessly chases Johnny and Sophia across the country (America, no less!) -- you'd think they would've trashed it for good somewhere in the Great Plains, but that would preclude the final showdown in New York City. And then there's the gratuitous (non-explicit sex scene). So AWNA isn't a perfect classic, but if the idea seems interesting to you, it's probably worth checking out after all these years. It also gets bonus points for an accurate (by anime standards) depiction of the USA, including Chimney Rock in my own home state, and some "montage" highway map scenes that were easily recognizable, as in "Hey, that's I-35! in Iowa" or "That's I-64 out of St. Louis!"
|Wind: A Breath of Heart (OAV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Wind: A Breath of Heart (TV)||So-so||Part of a mini-wave of game-based romance anime that aired back in 2004 with half-length episodes. The half-length episodes don't hinder the storytelling that much, at least not as much as the poor animation and visuals do. Seriously, this is some of the worst background/character integration I've in the digital anime area. The story setup has a typical male returning to a town after a long absence and being reunited with various girls, including his childhood friend...if you can't already tell, this is very, very typical anime from this genre. There are a few distinguishing traits, like the fact that the town bestows mysterious powers on all of its residents, and we do see some decent mystery and supernatural events taking place later on. Make sure to get the DVD-only episodes as well, as the TV episodes alone will have non sequiturs..
Again, if an anime description containing the words "based on romance game" doesn't immediately interest you, stay far far away. This is the kind of series that we romance game junkies watch when we're looking for a fix, when we've run out of KEY adaptations (ONE, Kanon, Air, Clannad) and other quality entries like Rumbling Hearts, Shuffle, To Heart, and Da Capo. I'd say even Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~ is considerably better than Wind ~a Breath of Heart~.
|Witch Hunter Robin (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|With You ~Mitsumeteitai~ (OAV)||Decent||*comment pending*|
|Wolf's Rain (TV)||Excellent||Top 30 #20: see comment in Top 30|
|Wolf's Rain (OAV)||Masterpiece||I like to consider these OVAs as a kind of "pennance" for those 4 recap episodes--thanks to them, we get a full 26 episode series, and while TV episode 26 had an air of finality to it, these OVAs take things to a whole new level of loss, tragedy, determination, and sacrifice. Some of the finest action/drama I've ever seen, and for some reason, it's sometimes easier to get emotionally invested in non-human characters than it is with human characters.|
|Words Worth (OAV)||Good||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|(The) World God Only Knows (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) World God Only Knows Season Two (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|(The) World of Narue (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|W~Wish (TV)||Weak||Another one of those "based on romance game" anime that made me wonder, "Why do I unquestioningly watch this stuff?" At least W Wish (approximately meaning "double wish," for reasons that become known later on) is in the half-length episode format, thereby making it easier and quicker to consume, digest, and expel from memory like so much...you know. Goes even faster if you skip OP/ED, though the ED is somewhat more powerful and dramatic than you'd expect for a series like this. While I like PrincessSoft's character designs (as seen in Natsuiro no Sunadokei), they don't come across very well in W Wish, thanks to the washed-out color scheme and low-budget animation. Many people complain that anime in this genre feel too much like their game origins, but in this case, I beg to differ: at least with the game, you expect to be looking at stills for minutes on end. The plot, ironically, is not all that bad -- it's just that you have to suffer through 6 or 7 half-length episodes of filler, secondary female character introductions, shrilly cute Japanese voice acting, and very typical school festival preparation before the more worthwhile content kicks in. Oh yes, don't forget the creepy pseudo-incestuous interactions between the main characters.
Sad thing is, the ending is somewhat interesting, and may even bring a tear to one's eye, but it still doesn't raise W Wish from the mire of mediocrity that the first half sinks into. On the "bright" side, this series is a godsend for "little sister" fans...you get to hear roughly 1429 instances of "Onii-chan" compressed into a short frame of time. Works great if you want to vicariously have the little sister you always wanted, or if you want to vicariously improve your actual little sister that doesn't live up to anime standards. However, I don't want to do either of those things, and I suspect most others won't, either.
|X (movie)||Weak||I first heard of this movie back in early 2004, when it was widely reviled by members of my local anime club. I later learned that the "X" they referred to was the movie and not the TV series, and I later went on to see and enjoy the TV version. But I was still curious enough to see if all the bad things I'd heard about the movie were true. It turns out they were. I don't know how much influence director Rintaro had, but the real fault with this disaster of a movie lies in its attempt to introduce far too many characters and tell far too much story in far too little time. After a truckload of expository monologue arrives on viewers' doorsteps, characters start showing up right and left, up and down. Presumably we're supposed to have read the manga beforehand, but if you haven't, you'll probably have just enough time to learn the characters' names before they get killed. I was familiar with them from my experience with the TV series, but the going wasn't easy. As for any deeper character development or making you [i]care[/i] about these individuals who meet untimely ends, forget about it. X The Movie would rather spend its time on worn-out "humans are destroying the Earth" moralizing and "Watch these suckers try to change DESTINY, because it's not possible. OR IS IT???"
My general appraisal of "X" -- watch the TV series (and/or read the manga), and don't bother with the movie. If you do, at least watch the TV series first. Aside from a slightly different ending, you will get nothing out of the movie that you can't get from the TV series. To its credit, the movie does look quite pretty (if a bit dark and muddled), and the scenes of mass destruction are impressive for 1996. But X TV's digital animation is almost as good, and the events unfolding on screen will have more coherence. Incidentally, if you like the English side of things, the dub for Movie!X is about as good as the movie itself...that is, on the lousy side. I only listened to a few random scenes of it, but looking over the cast lists, the Bang Zoom! TV dub had a lot more respectable talent behind it.
|X (TV)||Good||Another combination of famous manga creators CLAMP and renowned studio Madhouse, who last collaborated on Card Captor Sakura. Like CCS, X is another winner, often considered one of the best anime adaptations of CLAMP's work. Although I consider Angelic Layer to be the best in that regard, X still has a lot going for it. First off, it looks and sounds gorgeous. The OP and ED are lovely pieces that perfectly set the mood before and after every episode. Seeing and hearing the "moon-splitting" scene at the end of the OP made me very glad that I actually got the DVDs so that I could play them on my 5.1 setup. Within the show itself, we get pretty boys, pretty girls, pretty backgrounds, pretty everything, ranging from falling cherry blossoms to immense cityscape destruction. The male characters fare better under the "angular" drawing style (since masculine faces are traditionally more angular than their feminine counterparts), but the girls aren't bad to look at either. The story is a bit on the simple side, with teenagers getting caught between two factions seeking world destruction and salvation. Luckily, X rises above that with its diverse cast of characters, centered around the core of Kamui, Fuuma, and Kotori, and including the various Dragons of Heaven and Dragons of Earth. These characters receive enough backstory to make them more than "Element + Special Power" templates, like you might see in s-CRY-ed, E's Otherwise, or Aquarian Age.
But all this character development comes at a price. The large cast of characters living out their fated destiny within 24 episodes means that many of these characters will get hurt, killed, or otherwise have tragedy befall them. This isn't the cute and fluffy CLAMP of CCS and Angelic Layer, after all. And every time one of these events happen, the show sends out signals of "YOU MUST CARE ABOUT THIS BECAUSE THIS IS SAD." Ordinarily I wouldn't mind such blatant emotional manipulation, but the problem with X is that the large cast of characters spreads the viewer's "emotional investment" too thin. This leads to two outcomes: (1) The viewer only cares a little bit about all the characters (2) The viewer cares deeply for some characters, but doesn't care about other characters at all. I found myself in category (2), but either way, not every tragic event in X will have the full effect its creators intended. Still, given the eternal hiatus that the manga is under, X TV is likely the best and most complete version of the X story. Certainly better than the abysmal movie. this is a test for spoilering in comments
|X OAV||Weak||Nothing much to see here. It's spoilers if you watch it before the series, and pointless recap if you watch it afterwards. Just a promo that's outlived its usefulness.|
|Xpress Train (OAV)||Decent||All hentai comments have been moved to a separate list|
|XXXHOLiC (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Yamibo - Darkness, the Hat, and the Travelers of the Books (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Yes! Precure 5 (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Yes! Precure 5: Kagami no Kuni no Miracle Daibōken! (movie)||Good|
|Yosuga no Sora (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Yugo the Negotiator (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Yume Tsukai (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Yumeria (TV)||Decent||Yumeria is a case where personal enjoyment is not necessarily relative to the objective quality of the anime. Apparently the source material was a game that combined the concepts of romance games and action/rpgs, resulting in a series that merges harem-type anime with sentai-type combat. This may sound like a recipe for a trainwreck, and the characters are all the usual suspects: the male lead (who is more openly perverted than most, in a refreshing twist), the childhood friend, the girl who can only say her name, the weird catgirl, the older woman, and the little-sister-esque cousin. But instead of drowning in its clichés, Yumeria simply revels in them. By day, we see Tomokazu's ever-increasing harem, and by night we get over-the-top dreamworld battles reminiscent of Sailor Moon and Power Rangers, thanks to the attacks and the girls' outfits. Add to that the unorthodox method of "charging" the girls, and the recipe for a trainwreck suddenly seems more tasty. Female fans might not get much mileage out of Yumeria, but one of my favorite social anime memories is bringing my unwatched thinpack to a gathering of friends (mostly guys), wherein we drunkenly laughed our way through the first five episodes.
So is Yumeria a good series? As the rating suggests, no. Unfortunately the fun dies down and gives way to more serious events near the end of the series, but overall, Yumeria is the epitome of what I call "ADV Anime" -- cheesiness, silliness, battles, hot girls (especially Mizuki and her absolute-zone-baring school uniform), explosions and an overall sense of fun. I can't emphasize fun enough -- Yumeria proves that anime doesn't have to be good to be enjoyable, given the right mindset.
|Zaion: I Wish You Were Here (ONA)||Not really good||There's nothing more unfortunate than a mediocre anime that strives to be great. At least bad anime that doesn't try to be any better has some ironic entertainment value. Sadly, Zaion: I Wish You Were Here falls under the former category. With crude animation, badly-integrated CG, cardboard-cutout characters, and a story that never evolves beyond a muddled mess, Zaion is just disappointing through and through. It's considerably worse than other GONZO series from the same era like Vandread, Hellsing, and even Final Fantasy: Unlimited. SaiKano and Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu did the "romance with weaponized girl" story far, far better.|
|Zakuro (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Zan Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (TV)||Very good||*comment pending*|
|Zan Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei Bangai-chi (OAV)||Good|
|Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi (TV)||Very good||*Comment Pending*|
|Zero no Tsukaima: Princess no Rondo (TV)||Good||*comment pending*|
|Zettai Seigi Love Pheromone (TV)||Decent|
|Zettai Shonen (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Zoku Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (TV)||Excellent||*comment pending*|
|Will not finish▲▼||Rating▲▼||Comment▲▼|
|Baki the Grappler (TV)||So-so||Saw a couple episodes at anime club--not that bad, but didn't interest me.|
|Bincho-tan (TV)||Awful||Ecch, I normally like cute shows, but this one is so pointless and so designed to appeal to moe/loli fans (with some rather suggestive imagery), that I refuse to watch any more. I can't understand why the fansub groups are jumping all over this one.|
|Bleach (TV)||Decent||I normally don't go for long-running shounen action shows, but Bleach provides enough entertainment to go along with the fighting to make for an enjoyable show. The comedy kind declines in the 40s/50s episodes, but the action, if a bit DBZ-ish, is still creative, with swords of all shapes and sizes, extreme spirit powers, and a shadowy, ongoing plot behind all the "We've got to save Rukia" parts of the Soul Society arc. Now that that's over, we'll have to see what kinds of "original stories" the animators throw our way.|
|Buso Renkin (TV)||Weak||Saw the first episode at an anime club event. Doesn't seem too bad, but falls too much into "generic shounen" category to make me want to see more. Besides, the "guy meets mysterious girl in monster-fighting organization and starts helping her" thing has been done before.|
|Case Closed (TV)||Weak||Saw a few episode of this at anime club--didn't really catch my interest, plus it is WAY too long to get into.|
|Densha Otoko (live-action TV)||Good|
|Descendants of Darkness (TV)||Weak||Vaguely shounen-ai, not too appealing to me...only saw a little bit at anime club one time.|
|Dragon Ball (TV)||Not really good||I'm sure I saw a couple episodes of this on TV at some point, but I have no intention of finishing it.|
|Dragon Ball Z (TV)||Not really good||Same as with Dragon Ball, I've seen some of DBZ on Cartoon Network here and there...while I'm sure that there are reasons to like it, I don't plan on buying or even downloading this series.|
|Fighting Beauty Wulong (TV)||So-so|
|Fushigi na Koala Blinky (TV)||Very good||*Sigh* I saw some of this years ago, under the name of "The Noozles"--I really loved it, but sadly, it just doesn't exist any more.|
|G.I. Joe Sigma Six (U.S. TV)||Decent||Probably saw some of this; again, this is one of those "back in the day but won't see again" shows.|
|Gatchaman (TV)||So-so||Actually, I'm sure this anime isn't all that bad...it's one of the fundamental classics from the 70s that deserves attention on a historical level. Still, to me it's pointless to sit through so many episodes just to get the "it's a classic" point across, especially when the lines, characters, plots, and actions are so cheesy that it hurts sometimes. I mean, this is the kind of anime that "Martian Successor: Nadesico" was parodying via the "Gekigangar" anime. Therefore, I'm relegating it to "Will not Finish," but I will increase the rating from "Weak."|
|Hamtaro (TV)||Not really good||I think my brother had some of this taped off TV one time...I didn't see any reason to look for more.|
|Initial D (TV)||Not really good||I happened to see some of this, but I can't take dozens of episodes of CGI car races.|
|Inuyasha (TV)||Not really good||Ah, the ever-popular Inuyasha. Due to its length and various comments that I've heard, I won't watch any more beyond the random episodes I've seen on CN.|
|Jagainu-kun (TV)||Weak||I'm sure that shows like Jagainu-kun (aka "Dogtato") have their place in the culture, and that place is far away from me or anyone else over the age of 7.|
|Jing: King of Bandits (TV)||So-so||Saw an episode of this at anime club, wasn't too impressed...but overall, it seems like a decent shounen action/fantasy series.|
|Magical Play (ONA)||Weak||I'm into some zany parody anime, but Magical Play just didn't click for me--the art was terrible, and most of the characters' antics were just dumb, and it didn't help that they were repeated until I, the viewer, felt beaten into submission. I only saw the first episode, but its half-hour runtime seemed like an eternity, with my brain constantly thinking, "Oh, please, for the love of all that's holy, just END!!"|
|Maya the Bee (TV)||Decent||Saw this on Nick Jr. as a kid; never knew it was anime, and now I'll never see it.|
|Mori no Youki na Kobito-tachi: Berufi to Rirubitto (TV)||Good||I believe this goes by the English title "Li'l Bits," and I saw it on Nick Jr. back in the day. Sadly, I don't remember it too well, but it earns a spot on the listings.|
|One Piece (TV)||Awful (dub), So-so (sub)||I know that many people love this show, but the amount I saw of it doesn't justify watching hundreds of episodes. Plus, I'm sort of against long series in the first place.|
|Ping Pong Club (TV)||Awful||Words can not describe the horror I felt when watching some of this series. It's juvenile, disgusting, disturbing, and just so mind-numbingly WRONG that I hope to the anime gods that I'm never ever subjected to another episode. If you like bathroom humor, shock-value male nudity (no bishounen to be found here), hideously distorted character designs, and abject WTF-ness, PPC might be worth a try, but if your tastes are similar to mine, you'd be better off avoiding it and attempting to forget that it exists. PPC retroactively reminds me of Crayon Shin-chan, another show that you'll find in this section.|
|Pokémon (TV)||Not really good||I don't have that much against Pokemon (and I actually like the movies), but I don't like it enough to watch the whole show, so it gets the dreaded WNF rating.|
|Shin chan (TV)||Not really good||Saw an episode by chance on Adult Swim--I sort of liked what Funimation did with the dub, but even the Ghost Stories treatment couldn't save a series that's childish in a bad way, with too much emphasis on Shin being a brat and waving his naked ass around. I understand it's a classic long-running series, well-known in Japan, but the length (however many episodes it is) and the subpar comedy cause CSc to be a show that I'll never make an attempt to complete, even on TV or downloads.|
|Thundercats (U.S. TV)||Decent||Like some other shows on this list, I saw some awhile back (in the mid 90s, not as a child), but I don't think I'll track it down and finish it. Still, you've got to love how much Thundercats still stays in our culture, based on Family Guy's perverted distortion of the classic "Sword of Omens, give me Sight beyond Sight!" line.|
|Transformers (U.S. TV)||Decent||A victim of shattered nostalgia. Like many other kids, I saw some of this back in the day and loved it, but when I borrowed some DVDs from a friend, I just couldn't bring myself to sit through very many episodes. Maybe I've been spoiled by the animation styles and complexities of anime, but other factors were present--I didn't want to wind up buying more DVDs, and I wanted to devote more time and money to anime acquisition and viewing.|
|Zone of the Enders (TV)||Not really good||ZoE suffered deletion from my HD during a space shortage -- the characters were okay but not great, the story wasn't all that good, and the phallic mecha designs didn't help things at all.|