ANN Shinichiro Watanabe page

My average ranking: 7.00

Director Pantheon: Shinichiro Watanabe Rating
Baby Blue (movie) Good

Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) but eerily reminiscent of Makoto Shinkai in both its story and visuals. This short film about two students wagging school the day before one of them moves away is the best of the bunch in the Genius Party collection. The final scene with the girl waving sparklers as the train takes the boy away is a sweet way to end the anthology.
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Very good

This is an appealing series on several levels: the likeable characters (in particular, Spike and Faye), the mixture of sci-fi and western settings, the outstanding artwork for a television series, the many cultural references (musical and otherwise) and the often surprising plots. It's far from the most profound anime ever produced - even the final episode with its pretensions to tragedy, seems forced - but it rewards multiple viewings. The basic plot line of a bunch of goofs trying to cope with a hostile world, and never quite succeeding, has been used in a few anime series - Samurai Champloo (also directed by Watanabe) and Trigun come to mind - but Cowboy Bebop is arguably the best of them.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Very good

Watching the movie is like catching up with old friends. You know what you are going to get and you know you're going to have a good time. More of the same in Cowboy Bebop's case is still very good.
Detective Story (OAV) Decent

Beautifully illustrated monochrome story of detective who searchs for Trinity in the world of the Matrix, only to lose everything. One of the better Animatrix segments but it promises more than it can deliver in the few minutes available. The abrupt ending highlights its shortcomings.
Kid's Story (OAV) Decent

The distinctive visual style doesn't match the flair of Shinichiro Watanabe's Animatrix sibling Detective Story but the storytelling is superior. The rough hewn fluid style suits this tale of a boy fleeing the matrix agents on his skateboard, culminating in a viscerally effective falling sequence.
Kids on the Slope (TV) Very good

Kids on the Slope is a joy to watch, thanks to the two lead characters, the sublime music, the 1960s setting, the overall tone, the constant surprises, the quality execution the emotional highs. I have rarely watched an anime that had so many ecstatic moments. And, yet, I have several reservations about it.

The two main threads – the jazz tinged friendship between Kaoru and Sentaro on the one hand, and the various romantic - never sit together comfortably. The series starts off as one thing (two friends exploring jazz) then spends most of the rest of the twelve episodes as something else (a josei tale of entangled love).

Based on a josei manga it shouldn’t surprise that Kids on the Slope portrays the friendship and loves of two young men as a female audience might envisage them. The relationship between the feminine Kaoru and macho Sentaro could even be considered a chaste and restrained yaoi romance for a mainstream female audience. This isn’t a bad thing. Indeed, the friendship between the two young men is one of the richest I’ve seen in anime, with jazz as its metaphorical expression.

The female characters aren’t realised nearly as well. Ritsuko has a nondescript personality with an annoying voice and a character design that is initially unappealing. Even the most interesting ongoing female character, Yurika, subordinates her future to the man she loves.

The music is so good - another memorable Yoko Kanno effort - I just wish Kids on the Slope had explored it more. That and a female lead to match Kaoru and Sentaro and this could have been a masterpiece.

Samurai Champloo (TV) Decent

The same team that produced Cowboy Bebop here tweaks the formula that was so successful in the earlier series. Combine two or three seemingly disparate elements - in this case hip hop sensibility within a samurai setting - then create some nonchalant main characters and hopefully the end result is greater than the sum of the parts. It all comes together in Cowboy Bebop but somehow the chemistry just doesn't work in Samurai Champloo. The two male leads, Mugen and Jin, together cannot compare with Spike and the female protagonist, Fuu, doesn't even succeed as ornamentation. The backstories of the three main characters is anything but compelling while the episodic nature of the series might have worked had the individual tales been memorable. To top it off, the most boring OP ever in anime started each episode off badly for me.