eyeresist's Anime

Seen all Rating Comment▲
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie) Bad *** MASSIVE SPOILERS *** Way overrated. The setting is confusing (if it's Japan after WW2, then why is the Wolf brigade in some sort of futuristic body armour?), the plot is fundamentally flawed (we're supposed to identify with a main character who has no discernable personality; then he turns out to be a double agent, and it's like "WTF? Who cares?"), and the ending is an unbelievable, manipulative tearjerking cliche.
Eureka Seven (TV) Weak ***SPOILERS*** After a very promising start, this show went on at a reasonably good level for a while. In the second half it started to drag, and this got worse as the show went on, becoming really drawn out over the last couple of volumes - 50 episodes was just too long. A few of the episodes had notably bad writing, which typically involved characters acting like they were in a cliched melodrama. Worst of all was the premise, which dawned on me as the plot was gradually revealed: the heroes were doing the usual stuff, resisting the evil government forces and fighting to protect people they cared about, but it turned out they were also fighting to protect an alien organism which had covered the entire Earth and absorbed every living thing on it! By the end I was really rooting for the "villains". The happy ending of the series is that "only" half the human population are absorbed into the alien. After watching End of Evangelion, I think I'm seeing an anime pattern - for the socially isolated, emotionally repressed Japanese, being absorbed into one big gloopy world-soul seems to be only a good thing. For less alienated people, however, it seems like a scary way to lose your individuality and freedom. This is especially paradoxical in Eureka Seven, where, in the first half, our rebellious heroes express their freedom from conventional society through the symbolic activities of surfing and underground techno. This element of the show would've been better served by a more pro-individual plot. (Though I guess, in the context of Eureka Seven, these "rebellious" activities turn out to serve the purpose of group bonding and formation of group identity.)
Darker than Black (TV) So-so ***SPOILERS*** Watchable, but despite its flair the story and characters are fairly generic and never rise above an adolescent idea of what is "cool". There are also some major flaws in the drama: (1) The main character is passive and lacks personality, carrying out assigned missions with no personal interest in the outcome; at the end we learn that in fact the big conflict has been happening off-screen with other characters, and our hero is only called in because he has the magic energy they need. (2) The female police detective character is also quite bland; she serves a function in the plot, but is not interesting enough to be a main focus. The two weakest episodes are centred around her ('The White Dress, Stained with the Girl's Dreams and Blood', parts 1 & 2, episodes 9 and 10). (3) The other characters are all generic shonen manga/anime types too. (4) The old psychic lady is a useless and very annoying side-character. She is supposed to be a vital part of the observatory, but all she does is blather "poetically" about the stars, and before that apparently hadn't spoken for years. How exactly is she useful? (5) The influence of Japanese gangster stories is overdone, with the Syndicate ordering various kills for no logical reason except for characters to die stoically. (6) Towards the end, many "contractors" battle to enter Pandora and die in huge numbers. Meanwhile, our main characters enter with little trouble (two drive right past the troops, who yell "Hey!"). (7) The climax is the usual mystical malarky of the hero having vague conversations with symbolic and/or dead characters, and not practically addressing the problems of the plot.
Magikano (TV) So-so **SPOILERS** A funny satire of harem comedies. The girls are all overt stereotypes, the guy's sister is actually genuinely (creepily) in love with him. The guy has no personality, or awareness of the girls in his life, and, instead of choosing a sweetheart at the end, it turns out he's a monster who wants to destroy the Earth. Nice twist!
Kaze no Yojimbo (TV) Weak A bunch of plot is generated to spin the classic story out to series length, but in the end it just feels tired and dull (same for the visuals). The pace is always slow; the characters are "enigmatic" to the point of blandness; none of them are worth caring about; the plot mysteries aren't especially intriguing; the final showdown is predictable and cartoony. See 'Fistful of Dollars' for the exciting version of this story.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) Good A classic show that broke some old traditions and established some new ones. However, that doesn't mean it's perfect. The tone is a bit inconsistent between mecha combat, teen drama, and mystical hoo-hah. Anno restrains his abstract/symbolic tendency until the last few episodes. The controversial last episodes, supposedly done this way because budget didn't permit the 'true' ending, give the impression that Anno just didn't know how to end the narrative, and perversely didn't care.
Nabari no Ou (TV) Decent A frustrating show, though the problems are difficult to summarise. The art style is a washed-out watercolour effect, with muted colours and no real blacks or very dark shades; I think a richer, more high-contrast style would've been more effective here. The humour is forced: characters are given "gag" characteristics, e.g. one character mistakes strangers for people she knows when excited. These are never really integrated into the characters, however, and are never really funny. Once you get past these initial problems, the show is very good: the relationships, the intrigue, the revealed backstory are all touching and engaging. Unfortunately, the show goes off the rails in the last few episodes (the anime ending is quite different to the manga, which I assume must have been unfinished at the time). It really is an example to writers of what not to do: during the climax, the show wastes time and confuses matters by following a dozen characters, most of whom are not important to the story. Having spent the show building up the potential of Tobari's hidden power and secret past, his power is merely to reveal the past, and the big secret is a complete letdown, with no character revelation and no impact on presentday events. The main character Miharu's decision not to use his power is not convincingly explained, when several obvious options for explanation were available. The character Yoite rejects Miharu's offer to erase him, though it's what he's been asking for all series, and also rejects the offer to be healed, merely so that the writer can include a poignant "death" scene. This is one of a number of cheesy moments in the final episode, including the smiling face of a dead relative appearing in the sky. (There is also the odd case of Miharu's friend Aizawa, who has turned out to be a 100 year old immortal, who says at the end of the series that he will repay his adoptive parents (who we never see) by continuing to play the role of their son - never mind that the fact that he doesn't age will make normal family life impossible.) Admittedly, from what I've read about it, the ending of the manga is equally stupid. If the show had simply gone forward without concluding, focusing on what it was good at, I think I would have rated it higher.
Martian Successor Nadesico (TV) Decent A fun, well-made show, if now rather dated-looking. A bunch of characters embark on a mission (in the spaceship Nadesico) that involves romantic triangles and parodies of mecha show archetypes.
Genshiken (TV) Excellent A great surprise. From the plot description you'd expect a pretty standard anime, but the wit and character are outstanding - a proper sophisticated, grown-up show in disguise! The three episodes of the show-within-a-show Kujibiki Unbalance are a great extra, satirizing the generic conventions of anime.
Shuffle! (TV) Not really good A harem show in which the daughters of the god and demon kings compete for the affections of Our Hero - potentially interesting, you say? Sorry, this is one of the blandest shows I've seen. The best harems are made interesting by the variety of the girls' personalities, but in this case there is nothing really interesting or distinctive about them. The fact that gods and demons are now citizens in the human world plays no part in the show, believe it or not. No culture clashes, no magical high-jinx, no interesting news stories. But there IS fanservice. I like fanservice if it suits the show, but here it's just stuck in for no reason except "here's some service!" I've now seen enough camel-toe panty shots to last me a lifetime... Apart from the fanservice, there's nothing especially objectionable about the show, and I must say the plot development is well done, revealing just enough in the first half to make me want to watch the second half and find out how things develop. That's why Shuffle scores as high as it does.
His and Her Circumstances (TV) Decent A real 'mixed bag'. The low budget is no excuse for Anno making such a hash of this show in the first half of the series, with mostly static shots and moving text, and the re-caps that grow longer with each episode - no wonder he was fired. But the story and characters sustain your interest, which is probably due to the original manga rather than any special achievement of the animators.
Black Rock Shooter (TV) Weak A series about a group of school girls who experience angst, which is played out symbolically in spectacular fights which take place in a sort of dream world. After an intriguing start, this show quickly stumbles due to mishandling its premise. Problem is, you'd suppose the fights would reveal subtext and thus touching emotional issues. Instead, in the real world, there is no subtext: the characters bellow their feelings and thoughts at each other in the most obvious way, meaning there's nothing left to reveal. Meanwhile, the alt-world combatants are emotionless dolls, meaning this part of the show is spectacular but has zero emotional resonance. If they'd done it the other way around, this show might have worked. As it is, it is a failure.
Dai-Guard (TV) Not really good A tribute to the old live action monster movies as well as the giant robot, the twist is that the mecha is run by the publicity department of a bureaucratic company. It's not a bad show, but there is nothing in the way of story, character or art to make it especially interesting. A decent watch, but certainly not worth seeking out.
Kids on the Slope (TV) So-so After the first couple of episodes I was going to rate this much higher, but as the show went on I got tired of the soap opera plotting - so many love triangles - and then the "twists" of the final episode, which were just stupid, gratuitous and unbelievable. Also, I realise now, the jazz component of the show was not really integrated with the story, i.e. the personal journeys of the main characters. It became less and less relevant as the show went on, the exciting musical moments being kind of a cheat to keep you watching what was otherwise a fairly generic Japanese drama.
Jyu-Oh-Sei (TV) Bad After the hero's annoying twin brother was killed off, I had hopes for this being good. Sadly, the last few episodes were ruined by unbelievable and cliched character actions (worst being the heroine catching a bullet for a villain, in order to supply "tragedy"), and a series of ridiculous and nonsensical moments, especially during the climax (the lab suddenly infested with giant killer plants; shooting the megacomputer to stop a bomb on a different planet). Presumably these problems go back to the original light novel, but that's no excuse. Really, don't bother.
Case Closed (TV) Good AKA Detective Conan. I've watched the first two seasons of this long-running murder mystery show. It's compulsive viewing, but in the second season the formula becomes repetitive (it feels like half the episodes were set in remote country mansions). As usual with this genre, the murders are crazily elaborate, in a way which makes the killer much easier to catch! Unlike most modern mysteries, the endings are highly moralistic - murder is ALWAYS wrong, even if the victim has deliberately destroyed countless lives. I enjoyed the mix of old school art and gruesome killings. I recommend the first season; the second season isn't quite on that level. I don't know how the series proceeds after that. (The DVDs are stupidly programmed without a chapter stop after the end credits, so if you cue forward during the credits, you'll miss the post-credits epilogue section.)
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) Decent Amazing visuals, of course. The plot, based on the classic French thriller, is good too, but starts to drag in the second half. The hero becomes annoying; eventually all he does is impotently cry and complain. We might have identified with his disorientation better if the show hadn't made clear all the details of the machinations and betrayals going on around him. I don't think the Gankutsuou element added anything to the story either. It's a shame, probably due to the director being same as of Blue Submarine #6, famous for great visuals and empty plot.
Blood+ (TV) Not really good Another disappointment from Production IG. The OVA had a stupid script but dramatic, colourful visuals, and a dark, gritty feel. The TV doesn't have those positives, but it does have: standard anime plotting, a heroine with two identities which are never sufficiently explained, some bishonen international villains, an invulnerable assistant to the heroine who is never asked "Who the hell ARE you anyway?", the requisite undercover-in-an-all-girl-convent-school arc, and extremely bland visuals. Very occasionally there is an unexpected quality increase, as though another director took over for a few minutes, but overall this is a real letdown after expectations raised by the OVA, and is best approached as filler if you have nothing else to watch.
Crest of the Stars (TV) Not really good Apart from the lead character having a head like a mushroom (he looks much more normal in the manga), the problems with this show, and its sequels Banner of the Stars I and II, go back to the original novels. Character development is skimped, and the central romance is pretty uninteresting. The plot of this first series veers all over the place, from a space battle to on-the-run on an enemy planet, via a particularly stupid section in which a crazy baron wants to capture the heroine to make her his bride. Our interest is supposed to come from watching our beloved characters face adversity, but as they're fairly flat and uninteresting, the whole thing feels rather contrived and strange. Overall, despite some grandiosity in the space battles, it feels like B-grade sci-fi pulp.
Supernatural: The Anime Series (OAV) Bad As a fan of Supernatural and anime, I had high hopes - which were quickly disappointed. The makers of this show just don't seem to "get" Supernatural, instead turning it into a generic/bad anime, about half a notch above L/R in quality. Weirdly, in the extras they say they got a live-action TV writer to write the scripts because they didn't want the usual anime style of writing, but then you see a writing conference in which the directors won't let the writer put in ONE LINE to give the monster of the week some sort of motivation. This stupidity is visible throughout the production: the visuals are garish, the (Japanese) acting lacks all subtlety, the music is tonally wrong, the plots are simplistic, the dialog is blandly generic, and there's no good reason for radically changing the appearances of John and Bobby. Throughout the extras, the directors say they are limited by the short episode format, but we know that this is bull: there are a number of anime shows that have done great things within the 23 minute limit. At the very LEAST this show should have been as good as Witch Hunter Robin. Instead it's just an embarrassment.
Jinki:Extend (TV) Bad As previous reviews have noted, the structure of this show is all screwy. It starts in South America with a set-up similar to EVA, except with a female Shinji. Not brilliant but okay. Then there are intermittent flashbacks to a Japanese setting, which don't seem to have any connection to the main story. As the show goes on, the flashbacks get longer until they take over the show - and it turns out that the opening setting was actually the flashback. Apart from the basic confusion this causes (even when you know it's coming in advance), the Japanese set story is just really blah and unmemorable, with a lot of boring characters and clunky second-rate writing. I had a hard time remembering who was who, and can't really remember the story at all. (Part of the reason for the confusion is that the anime is based on a manga that was itself a sequel to a previous manga (Jinki), but that's no excuse for such a lack-lustre show.)
L/R: Licensed by Royalty (TV) Awful At first I thought it would be pleasantly enjoyable junk, though in terms of characterisation and plot the show barely scraped by. It didn't help that I watched the featurette, in which the director and producer said they created the plot to lead up to the climax they already had planned. Problem is, the climactic sequence is a confused mess, followed by an ending that feels fake and leaves you feeling cheated. The music with awful Engrish lyrics didn't help, either - poor Billy Preston, having to sing that stuff!
High School of the Dead (TV) Weak At first, with the glossy big-budget look and grim zombie action, I thought the critics might have been wrong. They weren't, and may in fact have been too kind. The zombie component of the story is well done, but the biggest part of the show is standard, banal, cliched, otaku-pandering manga characters having excruciatingly drawn-out "dramatic" moments, made more unbearable by the shrill shrieking of the main female characters. Is continual whining and complaining considered an attractive trait in Japanese culture? I haven't even mentioned the constant, irrelevant fanservice - constant close-ups of panties and bouncing boobs eradicate any possibility of taking the story or the characters seriously. Eventually, in the last third of the series, there are some decent character moments, but overall it's not worth it.
Princess Tutu (TV) Decent Based on fairy tales and ballets, this is an atmospheric show, with good music (proper classical music, mostly from ballet). It's really padded though; through a number of episodes, not much really happens. This series would've been better if it had been half the length.
Black Blood Brothers (TV) Decent BBB never really grips you, but it's pretty good. The opening is confusing, but makes more sense the second time around (in Japanese featurettes they often ask you to watch the DVDs twice, but in this case watching again really is a rewarding experience). The story isn't very vampirey (although they are definitely vampires), more light urban fantasy adventure. There are some interesting characters and some cool fights. The ending doesn't have a big resolution (the anime is based on an on-going light novel series), but at least does wrap up properly and on an up note. The Western DVD release includes Japanese audio commentary (subtitled) for each episode, which adds a nice amount of value if you decide to purchase. But you probably won't watch more than twice.
Outlaw Star (TV) Decent Better than Cowboy Bebop, IMO. And an anime with a proper ending = awesome.
Gunslinger Girl (TV) Excellent Classic. Brilliant. What Elfen Leid wanted but failed to be. Ending a bit noncommittal. There is a sequel series, with a different studio and a new glossy look, which is a bit of a shame, but we'll see how it goes.
Cluster Edge (TV) Not really good Cluster Edge is a shonen ai-lite show set in an alternate steampunk world. Most of the main characters have names related to minerals - Agate Fluorite, Beryl Jasper, Sulphur, Lode (which for some reason is usually translated as ‘Rhodo’). Character designs and action animations are good, but layouts and backgrounds are really drab and uninteresting. Story is potentially interesting, but the script is banal and stereotypical. Possibly the original Japanese was more interesting - I did notice one bit in the sub which may have been a bit of shonen ai humour, but generally this aspect didn’t come out (if you’ll pardon the pun). The biggest problem is that the characters are cliched and, worse, dull. Their interactions pad out the show but just aren’t very interesting. Overall, it's not abysmal, but there’s not much value or enjoyment to be found here.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV) Weak Dammit. Another example of anime fan groupthink elevating a so-so title to classic status. Basically, because the characters and their dilemmas are not dramatically convincing, the whole thing was emotionally unsatisfying. The actual animation is excellent, particularly the unusual imagery of the witch zones. The story had potential to be moving, but the characters are cliched and bland: Madoka has no characteristics other than those required by the plot (and note her stated reason for agreeing to be a magical girl - "I'm useless and worried I'll always lean on others" - there is NO indication of this in her behaviour; did the writer never hear of "show, don't tell"?); Madoka's BFF is even blander. Kyoko is nothing but a blatant anime stereotype. Homura has suggestions of something interesting, but her motives, once discovered, aren't believable. The character interactions are overly melodramatic, with no naturalism for balance. The futuristic setting is superfluous. The "rewrite the universe" ending is an unconvincing plot convenience, as well as being quite unoriginal. The OP/ED are forgettable.
Kujibiki Unbalance (TV) So-so Decent enough, but having dropped the parodic element of the original OVA, its formulaic structure and execution make it nothing special.
Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing (TV) Weak Despite the presence of the original director, the rest of the staff have changed, and this is a very poor shadow of the original series. It lacks the distinctive visuals of the original and also its epic quality; despite a number of ships and events that are supposedly massive, they just don't look impressive. The series starts engagingly, with some diverse action scenes and intriguing plot set-up, but then the flaws emerge and only become more problematic as the show goes on. The original Last Exile worked because it was about interesting characters with believable dilemmas; here, although it starts with potential, the few potentially interesting chars are crowded out by the large number of flat or cliched ones. Also, the writers have only a childish understanding of politics and war, which are central here when previously they were only background. All the characters seem to genuinely revere the powerless child empress, who knows nothing of politics (or anything else) but cries and complains a lot. These failures culminate in the last quarter of the series, when we are supposed to sympathise (or at least understand someone else sympathising) with people who think the best way to world peace is genocide of all other nations. The final battles consist of fleets blasting away at each other from a standstill while commanders dramatically flounce their capes and spout empty rhetoric. The villain's final gambit turns out to be completely pointless. In comparison with these devastating problems, fan complaints about fan service (a couple of minor moments in 1st ep), cynical reuse of old characters (these retreads are still among the most interesting chars in this series), and the two pointless recap episodes, are trivial. // To address a complaint of a lot of fans, I think the genki-girl character of Fam could have been satisfactory, if the show was just a fun romp about sky pirates taking down ships and engaging in other escapades, with the war merely serving as background. As the central protagonist in a story about global war and political intrigue, Fam's character needed to have more gravitas or development. Some say therefore that Millia should have been the central character; problem with this is that though she's much more relevant to the story, she's passive throughout. She takes no action without direction from someone else. So the problem isn't that the wrong character was emphasised - the problem is bad character writing, full stop.
Witchblade (TV) So-so Disappointing after a strong start. At first it looks as though the single mother and little girl will be on the run from child welfare while fighting off monsters, but only the monster part persists beyond the first episodes. Instead our heroes settle in the standard apartment building with bunch of wacky extras, and plot-wise we get some decent corporate intrigue, and some faction fighting, which doesn't interest me much. The moody corporate head seems interesting but doesn't develop enough as a character. Oh well.
Berserk (TV) Excellent Famous for its horrendous non-ending, but nonetheless worth seeing. Starts as a Conan-esque hack-and-slash, but develops with political intrigue and betrayal. Powerful stuff.
Nadia - The Secret of Blue Water (TV) Bad First episode has promise of Miyazaki-esque steam punk story, but quickly devolves into unfunny Japanese schtick humour. Plus the title character is really unlikable, always complaining and trying to tell people what to do.
Gungrave (TV) So-so First half = okay. A "mean streets" epic of two friends rising through the ranks of the mob and turning against each other. Second half = monsters fighting.
Texhnolyze (TV) Decent First time I watched this I loved it (didn't see the last 4 episodes). Second time I watched it, I decided it was a terrific style-piece; the hero coming to terms with his mecha prosthetics is a good story, and the inter-gang feuding is interesting, moody stuff, but the plot is full of holes (one problem among many: am I the only one to realise that the character Ran DOESN'T ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING?) and the ending is nonsense. It figures this was written by the same guy who did Serial Experiments Lain.
CANAAN (TV) Weak Flashy junk.
Nichijou - My Ordinary Life (TV) Weak For the first six eps or so this SOL gag comedy managed to be quite funny and engaging. But then they ran out of funny and became merely extremely irritating. Halfway through, I don't think I'll be able to finish this one.
Blue Gender (TV) So-so From the same guy who did Gasaraki, and Armored Troopers VOTOMS, which I haven’t seen. Like Gasaraki, the visual style is harsh, deliberately unpretty, dark and drab with ugly character designs. The action scenes felt a bit removed, and the alien “core” that you had to shoot to kill the bugs seemed silly after a while. (One reviewer complained that the show cheaped-out by having the mecha run on wheels in their feet; I think it’s actually a sensible idea for moving on level surfaces, using less energy and causing less wear-and-tear.) The OP was awful, but BG music was pretty good, when I noticed it - dark low-key techno or somber orchestral, which suited the mood. OST might be worth buying. Acting and sound were okay, not special. The back-story was interesting, but the script was sometimes cliched or contrived, and seemed over-extended at 26 episodes. The end was the usual mystical hoohah. I like to see anime that does things a bit differently, but while I found the show interesting in parts, I think the not-good bits ultimately outweigh those parts. I’d say Gasaraki is a more satisfying viewing experience.
Fruits Basket (TV) Masterpiece Fruits Basket should be a pretty average show. It's a sort-of reverse harem show, with okay animation, a one-note heroine, and a repetitive plot that sort of tails off without a proper ending. But some people love Fruits Basket. I mean, really LOVE it. And I confess I’m one of them. I guess the most important thing is that I can really identify with most of the characters. This show is about people with problems they feel trapped by, and how Tohru, by being utterly selfless and loving, helps the people around her to feel better about themselves. That may sound sappy, but it’s done with complete conviction, and it works. The art is simple but stylish. The OP/ED themes are beautiful. The acting (sub) is great - especially Tohru. There is a high bishounen component to this show, and some light shonen-ai. Sadly, a sequel looks doubtful, as several story elements were changed from the manga, making continuation difficult.
Aquarion (TV) Weak Generic mecha show. Starts badly, improves a bit, but the characters, while varied and emotional, remain generic, as does the story. The director conceived the whole show around a mecha that can combine in different combinations, shame he neglected to come up with a decent story. He also had a scale model of the area around the heroes' base built to help artists get a sense of the spatial relations of the locations - didn't work; all scenes seem to be in some unreal anime environ unrelated to anything around it (same as Mai HiME). Music by overrated Yoko Kanno doesn't help.
My-HiME (TV) Not really good Generic. Overhyped. There are a couple of fresh character twists, but with so many characters these get lost in the shuffle. Otherwise, nothing new. None of the characters is realistic or deep. The art is decent, with some appealing character designs, but the settings never convince as real places. The plot is just the usual stuff, teens fighting against magical monsters.
Honey and Clover (TV) Bad Good grief. Despite the slightly offbeat art-style, and regular moments of "we are so wacky!?!", this show is relentlessly nice and normal, or to put it more bluntly, bland and ordinary.
Kurogane Communication (TV) Not really good Great concept, but the scripts are banal, with robo-versions of tired anime stereotypes (WTF gay robot?), prosaic directing, and some really UGLY art, especially the robot designs. Someone with talent should do a remake of this idea.
Shiki (TV) Not really good Horror fans should be warned that this is really cheesy drama, not horror. It could have been good, perhaps, but the characters are too stereotypical, the angst is overdone and feels obligatory rather than natural, and the vampires build a huge gothic castle in a Japanese village! (Which could've worked if the show was comedic or satirical, but we're meant to take it seriously.) For spooky goings-on in modern-day rural Japan, you'd be better off with When They Cry or Ghost Hound.
Galaxy Angel (TV) Bad How do you rate a comedy that is well made but not actually funny? I laughed once in the first volume, at the robot beating the guy at chess and then apologising for ruining the one thing that gave his life meaning. Now you know the joke, you don't need to watch the show. How did they get all those sequels out of this?
Welcome to the NHK (TV) Decent I appreciated the thought that went into the arcs of the series (I think there were four distinct arcs) dealing with life issues in a serious way, but... The final arc depended on the main character being a complete cardboard idiot, so they could have the climactic moment on the cliff. They at least could have helped themselves by tying his inaction to his NEETism, but I guess that never occurred to them. This cheap plotting really reduced my liking for the whole show. (BTW, I noticed a radical change in the art style in several episodes, esp. during the Mouse Road arc.)
Kaleido Star (TV) Very good I didn't expect much from this, but the show is crafted with a high degree of skill and care, and towards the end I was really excited and gripped by the story (which is sadly rare). It probably helped that I was in the mood for something really positive, upbeat and hopeful, which is what Kaleido Star is all about.
Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts 2 (TV) Not really good I don't understand why there was such a drastic quality drop between series 1 and 2, considering they have the same series writer and director. For comedy, series 2 relies almost entirely on female characters beating up or in other ways severely "punishing" the hapless male characters. This is a trope that, apart from its lack of psychological reality, has just never been very funny, and you'll be completely sick of it by halfway through the series. In the 2nd half there are a couple of tearjerking but fairly useless flashback episodes, and one decent story involving Yoshii and Mizuki, but then it's back to the beatings. Unlike the 1st series, there is very little avatar fighting and battle strategy, except for a tedious 3-ep arc set at a hot springs resort. Even if you loved the 1st series, you'll probably be better off avoiding this one.
Shakugan no Shana (TV) Not really good I guess it helped that I'd seen a couple of really dull shows before this one, so that its positive components were highlighted. It's not a work of genius, but it has attractive, stylish art, and a story with real mystery and drama. The two core characters are the most interesting and likable; most of the others seem a bit silly or pointless. Disappointingly, after the basics are set up, we seeing the circling plot-that-doesn't-go-anywhere common to ongoing shonen series, so I won't bother with the second season. // Although I enjoyed SnS the first time around, when I tried to rewatch it, I got bored pretty quickly and gave up after four episodes.
Witch Hunter Robin (TV) Good I had to bump up my rating by a couple of points after I realised I was watching this show for the 3rd time! The show is problematic because the colour scheme is extremely drab, and the action is generally low key and very slow. At the same time, the premise of the show is engaging, and the atmosphere is very appealing if you like gloominess (very unappealing if you don't). After the introductory episodes, the show drags for a while in "case of the week" episodes. The energy increases in the second half when there is more intrigue with the witchhunting organisation, and our hero goes on the run. I'd like to see this franchise extended some day....
Saiyuki (TV) Decent I hated this at first, as it started without really introducing the characters. However, it is a well-crafted anime, with each main character getting a slow backstory reveal that made them more interesting, and episode stories with a lot of variety and genuine drama. It declined slightly toward the end but was still worth viewing. Sadly, the Reload series was much less interesting in character and drama, and dominated by boring fights and "cool" posing.
Kurau: Phantom Memory (TV) So-so I like the relatively realistic character designs, but the pace is very slow, and the story has the same self-important self pity I recall from stories in the English girls magazines my sister used to read. Initially I gave up after the first 6 eps; when I continued later, I found the drama, action and characters overall quite decent, but not interesting or gripping enough to warrant ever watching it again.
Innocent Venus (TV) Not really good I liked the interaction of the four main characters, and the feel of quiet desperation as they go on the run, so thought this had potential. The much-criticised pirate captain is pretty awful at first, but the director must have realised this, as he is quickly toned down in appearance and attitude. The pirates otherwise remain very generic and uninteresting. Most episodes have great action setpieces, and the drama is decent. Sadly, things deteriorate in the final volume, mostly because too much attention is given to previously secondary characters, at the expense of the characters we began the series with. There is also a sense of anticlimax particularly in relation to Joe: there's obviously some mystery to him, but the answer isn't even hinted at. Instead he just wanders off for no reason.
FLCL (OAV) So-so I loved this when I first saw it, but now I think that the animation and experimentation are great, but the story and characters are too contrived - just an excuse for the animation, which is not what I want from an anime.
Solty Rei (TV) Awful I made two attempts to watch this series, but got no further than episode 3. The (Japanese) acting is OTT and two-dimensional, and the presence of mechs and the girl with green hair and goggles is nothing more than pandering. The worst thing is the script, which is cliched and simplistic, frequently tipping into moronic. Sadly, there is no good reason to watch this show.
Hellsing Ultimate (OAV) So-so I prefer the TV for its grimmer horror atmosphere. OAV is closer to the manga (apparently), which means more flashy "cool" fights, plus chibi humour which isn't very funny. The flashbacks to Integra meeting Alucard didn't seem to have a point. The blood too often looked like day-glo goo. When Alucard wasn't in battle-mode he looked disappointingly normal, even bishonen. I also missed the detail the TV went into (due to having only the beginning of the manga to work with). Background music for the 1st episode was really awful; I didn't notice it in the 2nd, so I guess it improved. The choral ED theme is very good. For all the problems, it was pretty good overall, and reviews say it gets better. I'll be glad to see the origin of the fake freaks animated at last, which was the biggest problem with the TV (when they ran out of manga to work with). Edit: just watched IV and must say I don't think it's improved: the episode was poorly structured, the fights were really stretched out with not much happening, and the Major's ending speech was much too long.
Dragon Ball (TV) So-so I really liked this at the start, but eventually lost interest, and had to drop the rating a notch. Probably works best as a weekly broadcast, not a marathon.
Red Garden (TV) Weak I think there may be an enjoyable story at the heart of this show, but several factors work against it: the characters spend far, far too much time bickering, crying and complaining, some of the character art is grotesque (is this really how Westerners look to the Japanese?), and the songs are badly sung, irrelevant to the story, and not musically strong enough to make up for stalling the action. Also, the quality of the DVD issue is very poor, with edge enhancement making the linework look ugly, and colours always shifting due to poor compression techniques.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV) Decent I think this has been overrated. The Laughing Man arc is interesting in the way it comments on society and technology, but some of the other episodes are just B-grade action movie/cop show pulp. The Major's fan-servicy outfit undermines the show's pretentions to gritty realism and thematic seriousness. The Tachikoma mini-eps aren't actually funny. Also, while the CGI is generally excellent, some of the handdrawn stuff is shoddy - especially in the early episodes, keep an eye open for scenes where the Major goes badly off-model and clomps around like a stocky guy.
Karin (TV) So-so I thought the whole reverse vampire thing had more potential than they brought out - it's not really recommendable as a vampire show, as it's essentially just a school comedy/romance. The colour scheme and artwork made it look like a 90s show, which was a bit odd. OTOH, I appreciated that all the eyecatches were different (I guess that's what they were doing instead of making animation for the previews). The character Winner was annoying.
Girl's High (TV) Bad I was expecting an earthily realistic comedy, but the characters and jokes are extremely generic. The series starts with some "girls being gross" moments, combined with a ridiculous abundance of panty shots. Both these elements die down after a while, but the forgettable characters and cliched writing never improve.
S-CRY-ed (TV) Very good I was surprised - a standard shonen anime that's actually pretty good. Yes, various teenagers face off using various magic/sci-fi powers, but the characters are interesting and well developed, and you really end up caring about some of them. There's a cute little girl who you DON'T want to strangle, a conflicted bishonen enemy who DOESN'T seem largely motivated by stupidity, and fights that DON'T seem to go on for ever. Win win win. The story premise is also interesting and well-presented.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (TV) Weak I watched four episodes, and the only thing I can remember about this show is how unmemorable it is.
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World (TV) So-so I watched it to the end (12 episodes), so it's better than most anime I've seen lately. Standard magical girl with added friends and angst. Nothing special.
Divergence Eve (TV) Decent I'll need to watch it again. As I recall, it's an odd mix of big-breasted fan service and apocalyptic hard-sf horror. Surprisingly gripping to the end, but Eng lang release put the second last episode first in the series, I guess so people would realise it's more than just fan service.
Paranoia Agent (TV) Decent I'm not a fan of Satoshi Kon, though I liked Tokyo Godfathers. The rest of his stuff is very didactic, puffed up with empty style. This is an interesting idea for a show, but after the beginning you never really believe in the characters or situations. The second half of the series is filler, including the best episode, "Happy Family Planning", which is like a little comedy movie about suicide.
Armored Trooper Votoms (TV) Bad I'm watching this to further my knowledge of the landmarks of anime history, and because some mecha fans have called this one of the all-time great shows. Sadly, it confirms my experience that most of the older shows really aren't very good compared even to the mediocre shows of today. In every respect - animation, story & dialog, action choreography - this show is primitive, and the sensibility behind it appears to be adolescent at best. Macross got better as it went on, but Votoms does not have similar potential.
Boogiepop Phantom (TV) Masterpiece I've read the first couple of books and seen the live-action movie, but the anime is best of all! Brilliant art and sound, atmosphere consistently f***in' grim. The only downside is it's sometimes hard to tell the characters apart.
Buso Renkin (TV) Not really good I've seen the first half of this, as it has occasionally been mentioned in the same breath as S-Cry-Ed. While that show has an original premise, generating additional interest by making the landscape a part of the story, Buso Renkin is a very generic shonen story. There are dozens, possibly hundreds of mangas with nearly identical high-school-student-fights-monsters plots. The first episode generates interest with an outlandish battle and some nifty action animation. Within a few episodes, the fights, opponents and animation have become much more generic. Some interest persists because of the characters Tokiko (mysterious fighting girl with cool scar) and Papillon (freakily pervy gay villain), but the rest of the show is dull, including the hero, who lacks any interesting qualities. For the supposed hero, his fights are uninteresting, a real mistake on the part of the anime makers. I also found the writing during the school-under-seige arc painfully cliched: "Oh no, the students think we are the enemy and hate us!" "Yay, now they like us again!" It really was that simplistic. At the moment, I'm torn as to whether I should bother with the second half of the series. I've heard it improves, but I doubt it could be by much.
Ouran High School Host Club (TV) Weak I've seen the first seven episodes. This series has been much hyped. The look of the show is certainly interesting, and I like how they consciously address and parody the moe points of the various boys. However, underneath this is a very generic gag show, with no believable characters to keep us engaged. The central romance is a point of interest, but it's too rarely touched upon. There are a few genuine (mild) laughs, but so sporadic that I really can't recommend this show.
Fantastic Children (TV) Decent I've seen this praised, but I think it's overrated. It's okay, but the characters aren't as rounded as they could be, and the drama never really convinces. Might've been better at half the length.
Hamtaro (TV) Decent If only they'd release a sub version.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (OAV) Decent If you believe the hype and approach this expecting a great psychological masterpiece, as I did, you will be disappointed. This series starts with standard anime cheese and a more-gritty-than-usual visual approach, and is perfectly enjoyable on this level. There are some nice nods to the "real robot" genre as the show progresses. The best episodes are 6 and 7. 6 moves the setting to the desert, resulting in a much more attractive visual style, cleaner and nicely coloured. The highlight here is the character interaction as they wait over several days for the enemy to show. 7 by contrast has a mountain setting, and high drama as the hero and love interest attempt to survive together. There is some great music here and in later episodes as well. The following, climactic episodes are good but not at this level, becoming a bit overblown and cliched. The coda episode, "Last resort", had much potential but was a let-down in the end. (The supplement "Miller's report" has a few nice added character scenes, but is mostly repeated footage from the series, tied together with a dull "investigation" narrative.) Not a masterpiece but worth watching.
Slayers (TV) So-so If you were in hospital, and this was all that was on, you would watch it. You wouldn't hate it, but you wouldn't care if you never saw another episode.
Giant Robo (OAV) Not really good In terms of sound and vision, this is brilliant, especially given it was made in pre-digital times. However, the opening is very confusing, with no introduction to situation or characters, and the drama is EXTREMELY melodramatic, with no basis in reality to relate to. It feels like one long animation fan service, which is fine if that's all you want. Character design is very exaggerated and old-school (think Astroboy, Lupin III).
Dance in the Vampire Bund (TV) Decent Interesting elements, but progressively bogged down by cliches.
Hellsing (TV) Very good It seems trendy now to 'hate on' this show. It's not perfect (starts great and gets a bit ordinary), but there's a lot of good stuff here: the design, the music, the writing. I'd like to see a proper sequel to continue the story.
A Certain Magical Index (TV) Weak It started quite well, but quickly deteriorated into a generic scattershot of shonen cliches, with nothing really interesting or affecting or funny. The DVD release also featured some really clumsily written subtitles.
Phoenix 2772 - Space Firebird (movie) Not really good It starts impressively, telling its story with music and visuals alone; it's more than 10 minutes before anyone is heard to speak. There is impressive old-school animation throughout the movie, particularly Godoh's first drive through the city. Sadly, this movie is held back by elements I've begun to realise are common to the animations of Tezuka Osamu. Particularly, the drama is undermined by cartoonish comedy and musical numbers. I guess it's to keep the kids interested, but for this story it doesn't work. When Godoh goes to the prison camp, this serious moment is "celebrated" by an interlude of buildings and mining vehicles dancing around! Later, Godoh goes to a planet full by quirky aliens obviously only there for comedy value. Two of these creatures stick with him for the rest of the film, to no dramatic purpose. Also, directly after it's said that Godoh couldn't even kill a worm (and the first half of the movie has set him up as a life-loving pacifist), Godoh hunts a herd of firebirds, shooting one and chasing the rest into the sea, drowning them. Nice guy! Neither does he have doubts about his relentless hunt for the phoenix. The phoenix introduces a mystical element that doesn't fit with the earthly concerns of the first part of the film. The ending is standard nonsensical mystical malarky you see in too much anime, where they fall back on "philosophy" when they can't answer the story's issues in a practical way. Also, why are Japanese obsessed with falling in love with robots?
(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross (TV) Excellent It takes maybe half-a-dozen episodes to get past the somewhat formulaic set-up, but then the ongoing saga becomes engrossing, as do the characters and their relationships. It's hard to believe the last third of the series was an addition to cash in on the show's popularity, as it's such a fulfilling development of the show's themes beyond the obvious thrills of wartime conflict.
Nurse Witch Komugi (OAV) Decent It's a humorous parody of the magical girl genre and anime in general, but you don't need to be an anime expert to enjoy it (I wasn't, the first time I saw it). It's very cute and colourful, and parodies the idol industry, otakus (2chan!), and anime cliches.
Sound of the Sky (TV) Not really good It's a mixed bag. To be blunt, this is a pandering moe series disguised with high quality "realistic" production and war themes - a generic slice-of-life show plonked into a military setting without any real adjustment. It looks terrific, on a Ghibli level of detail and atmosphere. However, the main character Kanata is just too super-clutzy and too super-nice, all the time, and the other characters are ditzy anime types rather than believable characters, so you can't really get very interested or attached to them. The lack of military behaviour by the cast seems a wrong choice tonally - it could have provided great contrast, but instead there's just lots of kindly conversation and even hugs. Ultimately, this lack of emotional believability means the show lacks depth and long-term interest. As a charming girls dramedy this can't compete with Fruits Basket, Haibane Renmei, Azumanga Daioh, Bamboo Blade, Kaleido Star, Someday's Dreamers, Strawberry Marshmallow.
Aria the Animation (TV) Weak It's a pastel-coloured world where there are no shadows and everybody's nice to each other. The basic problem is that the characters are basically happy people with no problems, and no desires that need filling, which means there's no drama or even emotional identification. There was some emotion in the episode where one girl decides to "punish" her left hand, and in the last couple of episodes, but it's too little, too late. Go for Haibane Renmei, Someday's Dreamers, Strawberry Marshmallow, or Figure 17, instead.
Air Master (TV) Very good It's a shame the English release was so screwed up. This fighting show is funny and consistently interesting, which makes up for the characters not really developing at all.
Kino's Journey (TV) Decent It's a show to appreciate intellectually, not really a show to have any deep feelings about.
Chobits (TV) Very good It's a very simple sitcom premise, brilliantly carried out. For me, the only problem is the dramatic arc that emerges in the second half of the series, which I thought was really superfluous - it didn't make the show more exciting, it just distracted from the best part of the show, which is the awkward tutelage of Chi by her "master" Hideki. If Chi hadn't done a Pinocchio at the end, I reckon they could have got another good season out of it.
Genshiken 2 (TV) Decent It's hard to rate this without considering it in comparison to the original series. It's definitely not nearly as good as the original. The humour is cruder, see for instance the number of times there is a unison laugh in the first episode - I don't think that ever happened in the original. The characters are more obnoxious, and we don't get the feeling of insight into them that we had before. The art is also cruder, more caricaturish and with thicker lines (the visiting American girl in one episode looks deformed!). That said, I did enjoy Ohno and Tanaka getting together (except for the TONGUES), and Ogiue is likable. The description of yaoi culture is interesting, and it's good to see the characters taking the business of making dojinshi seriously. All up, it's not great, certainly not as good as the original Genshiken, but decent enough to be worth watching once.
Ghost Hound (TV) Decent It's hard to rate this, as it starts so well and ends in mediocrity. For most of the series, it's very atmospheric in art and sound, with underlying trauma and mystery giving everything a sense of depth. The low-key pastoralism is reminiscent of the mood of the X-files TV series. I love the "previously on Ghost Hound" openings, with all dialog replaced by grating, distorted gibberish - uber creepy! The plot deals with fringe brain science (or seems to at first): out-of-body experiences, possession, group mind, psychic residue, which again gives an enjoyable creepiness and gives a sense of deep mystery to the plot. (This is nicely contrasted with the comical translucent-purple-baby appearance of the characters when they have their first out-of-body experiences.) Unfortunately, towards the end of the series, all the interesting plot elements are resolved or minimised, leading to a conclusion that's superficial and overly cheerful (and doesn't really make sense). Very frustrating. And this is that very rare thing, an anime with a "proper ending" - but in this case a conventional story conclusion is really the opposite of what the show needed. Responsibility for this failure must rest with Konaka, who has a gift for atmosphere but no talent for satisfactory plot resolution (see Lain, Texhnolyze, Hellsing TV). (Note, in the last episode, the bioids exploding out of their laboratory tanks - why was this not followed up?)
Mobile Suit Gundam - The Movie Trilogy Not really good It's interesting to see the origins of the Gundam franchise, if only to judge how the series was refined in later years. For its time this was a huge epic, with its many characters and anti-war themes. Sadly, I found myself consistently untouched by the drama. The characters were never really convincing as human beings, being rather flat archetypes taken from previously existing material, with no realistic individual touches. Ultimately, this movie trilogy is only of historical interest.
Bamboo Blade (TV) Very good It's just so nice to see a high quality well-written anime for a change. Some of the characters don't get as much development as they should, but otherwise the drama is fine. My only real problem is with the very end of the final episode, which suddenly hints at dramatic new developments. I assume this was done to promote the ongoing manga, but the result was so frustrating, negating all sense of resolution, that I think it would probably have had a negative effect. I'm ignoring this for my rating.
Ergo Proxy (TV) Not really good Just too cold and characterless for my taste. The main character has no personality, and OTOH the stereotyped gay robot is just stupid and offensive. The story is trying to be intriguing with obscure suggestions of strange conspiracy, but deliberate obscurity is just annoying, and none of it is emotionally involving.
Tokyo Underground (TV) Good Low budget youth TV that does what it promises, though I can't help thinking that a darker directorial approach might have produced something more impressive. Standard Fudged Mystical Ending (TM) not withstanding, this is actually one of the better animes I've seen lately, with interesting characters, memorable sequences, decent art, and an interesting concept effectively realised. Also interesting is the way they had to wrap up the plot after 26 episodes due to lack of interest (due to early episodes being misleadingly comedic and set above-ground). Obviously they originally planned to have our heroes return from the bottom level of the underworld to storm the villain's citadel, but instead ended things early, not brilliantly but to reasonable satisfaction. Note: as with Lunar Legend Tsukihime and Midori Days, this has turned out to be a show I like to rewatch despite it technically not being great.
Lunar Legend Tsukihime (TV) Good Lunar Legend Tsukihime is a vampire/harem show based on a computer dating game. As a reviewer at THEM Anime reported, this is a show that feels like it might get good at any minute. Figuring out what went wrong is probably as entertaining as watching the actual show. Animation is TV-limited but attractively glossy and atmospheric; interior scenes are usually more drab and basic. The music is appropriately gothic, making good use of string quartets and spooky choirs. The idea of a character being able to see glowing red fracture-lines on everything is interesting and different, and the discovery of a bloody prison cell under a house in a later episode is very powerful moment. The problem with this series is that the story and the character relationships just never coalesce. Most of the characters don't have much of an arc. And the event that starts the story is never explained or even questioned: why DID Shiki (the hero) attack and “kill” Arcueid (main love interest)? Faults aside, this show does have a unique modern-gothic atmosphere, and if that appeals you may find it worthing watching. For myself, this show has somehow become one of my all-time favourites (the soundtrack CD Vol. 1 Moonlit Archives is also great).
Tari Tari (TV) Decent Most other reviews will give you a good idea of this show, so I'll just make a couple of points: 1. The choir club is technically choir-and-badminton, but badminton is completely sidelined after the first couple of eps, which is a shame. 2. Towards the end there is a jarring narrative jump, from hints that the chairman might plan to close the school, to everyone knowing the school is to be closed and that the school festival has been cancelled 3. The show holds off showing the choir club actually performing together until the end - one ep ends with them about to audition for the school festival, but the performance is never shown. Nearest thing is the West Shopping District Rangers section, in which they spontaneously sing a hero-show theme song. Why no real performance before the finale? Either it was simply to create suspense, or they didn't trust that a choral performance by these characters would hold viewers' interest. 4. My other issue is the opening scene of ep 7, in which each char is given a note and they then sing a harmony. Unfortunately it is obvious that their voices are all autotuned, making the result disturbingly synthetic. Fortunately I didn't notice autotune used anywhere else.
Last Exile (TV) Very good Mostly awesome, like a series made from all the best elements of Miyazaki's movies, but the plot flounders in the last couple of episodes - Claus's journey to Exile, which involves meeting all the Silvana crew along the way, is too contrived; the final battles lack interest because the Guild is too faceless and passive - even villain Maestro Delphine basically just watches and giggles; Dio's final appearance doesn't really make sense - where did he get that vanship? The ending is a mystical/non-explanatory cop-out - Exile somehow magically fixes the planet (off-screen and without explanation), followed by a cheesy montage of everyone happy together. Despite these flaws, this is overall a great scifi/fantasy series which all genre fans should find rewarding and memorable.
Xam'd: Lost Memories (ONA) Weak None of the characters behave like real people. They are just a bunch of melodramatic anime cliches. Technically the show is well made, but I found the substance of the drama repulsive in its cynicism and artificiality.
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny (TV) Decent Not a bad show, but not as good as its predecessor. The main problem is we never really feel as close to the characters as we did in the first one; they lack detailed personalities. I also thought the ending was weak (SPOILER: there was no good reason for the captain to sacrifice herself like that, especially as she had a child). Some parts were slightly disconcerting, as scenes from Gundam Wing reappeared in a new story context.
Ah! My Goddess (TV) Decent Not sure how to rate this. It's produced to a high standard, but the character interactions tend to the generic. It also never focuses on the one character long enough to become dramatically interesting. Some genuine laughs though. Worth a look.
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku DASH! (OAV) Weak Nuku Nuku Dash is a “re-imagining” of the original story as a magical girlfriend show. It has a few good moments, and it’s not painful to watch, but it’s not outstanding in any way. Nuku Nuku doesn’t have much personality, and neither does Ryunosuke (grown-up version of the character from the TV and alleged love-interest), or anyone else, if it comes to that. The episode stories are bland and the ending is formulaic and unconvincing. The best and most memorable parts were comedy moments involving Akiko, Ryunosuke’s mother. I think it would have been better if, instead of getting more serious, they’d gone the other way and made Nuku even stupider - she is supposed to have the brain of a cat, after all. Watching this show won’t kill you, but there’s better out there.
Blade (TV) Decent Of Western-produced anime, I've seen Animatrix (mixed results), Supernatural (terrible), and now this, because I like the Blade live action series and movies. Character design of the Blade character is a bit odd, with relatively small eyes visible through small sunglasses. There's also something odd about his lips, and I wish his skin was a bit darker. I do like that they use the baldhead look of the live TV. Pacing of fights is problematic in the first episode - too many long unjustified pauses - but improves in later eps. The use of various Asian vamp varieties adds interest, although there's not much you can do to make a tiger-headed man look believable, apart from cutting around him (which they do). The plot is not deep, certainly not as mature as the live TV, but is a series of enjoyable adventures, culminating in a super-epic final battle. The tone is pretty serious throughout. From the little I've heard of it, the US dub is pretty decent, and different enough in content to maybe make it worth watching both versions (the US version also adds to the soundscape in an interesting way).
Tenchi Muyo! (OAV 1/1992) Weak Old school fans call this a classic, but they are viewing it through rose-tinted glasses. In comparison with modern shows, even cookie-cutter harem comedies, the characters are underdeveloped and shallow. Oh, and the comedy isn't funny at all. The art is pretty good, but the female character designs are unattractively sharp. I will update this review when I finish the series, but at the moment I can't recommend this at all. // I could never bring myself to go back to this series, it left such a bad taste in my mouth.
NieA_7 (TV) Very good On the surface it's a comedy, but as it goes on there's revealed an underlying theme of melancholy and nostalgia. High quality stuff, except for the Indian 'gags' at the end of each episode.
Fushigi Yugi (TV) Bad One of the most mediocre shows I've seen in ages. I'm usually forgiving as far as limited animation is concerned, but too much of this show is still frames, for my tolerance. Frame composition is banal, and it looks like they've just copied the manga panels with no attempt to convert for the animated format. The story is generic, the characters are all flat and boring, and the music is bland and second-rate too. It might impress newbies, but everyone else should really not waste their time and money on this.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino (TV) Good Overall a good addition to the Gunslinger anime franchise. The art is done on a slightly lower budget, but the eye quickly adjusts. I miss the OP of the first series, but OTOH I'm glad I don't have to hear that ED again. Plot is good, developing the Franco/Franca partnership, and a young assassin called Pinocchio. Also some good new backstory for the girls, especially developing Triela and Claes. As with the first series, I had trouble remembering which girl and big brother were which. Also, the ending felt a bit too happy for this kind of story. DVD release: the dub was terrible; and why did they call Franca "Flanca"? One Japanese extra, in which we are informed that it is number two of five. WTH? It wasn't that great, but if they're going to stick this one on the disc at random, I'd prefer them to give us the complete set.
Rurouni Kenshin (TV) Not really good Overrated by the same people who call Trigun a "classic" series. It's cheesy, it's childish, it's repetitive. Even the disappointing Peacemaker was better.
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka (TV) Decent Overrated. I really liked this the first time I watched it, but when I tried a second time (after I'd seen a bit more anime) I found the humour much too obvious, and the plotting fairly repetitive.
Trigun (TV) Decent Overrated. I think this show gets a lot of hype from people who saw it early in their anime career, and were blown away by its story arc and emotional range compared to Western cartoons. It's an okay show, but there are a lot better out there.
Rumbling Hearts (TV) Weak Overrated. I was very disappointed by this, which turned out to be just a soap opera, with unlikable characters making unbelievable choices, spinning out a drama which could've been effectively told in under an hour. If you like cliched "romance" and don't care about realism, this is for you.
Gravitation (TV) Weak Overrated. I'm certainly open to a good shonen-ai show, but this isn't it. It's just really corny soap opera plotting, with 2D characters.
Elfen Lied (TV) Weak Overrated. It's a great IDEA for a show (and the OP/ED is good), but the actual story is shallow and cliched. I think a lot of people rate this show because they saw it early in their anime development, and didn't realise this stuff has been done better elsewhere (notably in Gunslinger Girl).
Samurai Champloo (TV) Decent Overrated. It's really good in the beginning, but after a while seems to lose commitment, just going on for the sake of it. The final showdown wasn't written very well, and was kind-of a let down.
(The) Gokusen (TV) Decent Pleasant viewing, but doesn't live up to its potential by making us care about the characters. Maybe the live action is better?
Wandaba Style (TV) Weak Premise has potential but execution is banal, and, fatally for a comedy, it's not funny.
Fafner (TV) Not really good Rahxephon was a good/okay rip-off of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Fafner is a competent/uninspired rip-off of Rahxephon. Why?!?
Grappler Baki Maximum Tournament (TV) Not really good See 'Baki the Grappler'.
Princess Resurrection (TV) Awful Seen the first episode: A bunch of unimaginative anime cliches, sub-par animation, no interesting characters or dramatic moments, and zero laughs (it's supposed to be a comedy).
Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (OAV) Not really good Sequel to Rurouni Kenshin. Overrated. Incredibly "serious", if you're 14 years old. It suffers from the common Japanese action-drama problem of characters being too "cool" to be realistic, and too noble to make even one sensible decision.
Planetes (TV) Very good Should be regarded as a classic. Lovely old-school art, with CG that blends well, and terrific, involved story with an ending that actually feels satisfying (a rare thing in anime). Only real down-side: the characters are mostly stereotypes.
Midori Days (TV) Very good Slick, well-made, entertaining, good concept, not great but enjoyable. Worth watching.
Now and Then, Here and There (TV) Decent Slightly overrated, with the pot-boiler plot and annoyingly optimistic hero. But it looks great, and, because of the world and character detail, watching all at once feels like you're reading a pretty good pulp sf/fantasy novel.
Shigurui: Death Frenzy (TV) So-so Slow and pretentious, with exploitative use of extreme violence and sexual content. But the art is great and the story emotionally gripping. This could be cut down to make a great movie.
Best Student Council (TV) Weak So far, this is pretty lame cookie cutter stuff. Lots of "gags" which aren't funny, lots of stereotyped characters, some fairly predictable "secrets" in the mix. I can't rule out it getting better, but so far I'd say you're better off watching My-Hime (which I didn't like much either, but it's better than this) or Negima?!.
Death Note (TV) Decent SPOILERS! The series develops the characters a bit more than the movies, though they still remain ciphers to an extent. The most interesting part is when Light loses his memory, and we get to compare his newly innocent self with his evil self, although this does show up how Light's moral corruption at the beginning of the series wasn't really shown in enough depth. Problems: Light is supposed to be a genius, but most of his schemes are ridiculously flawed. Dramatic interest steeply declines after L dies, and a pair of cookie cutter replacements appear. There was much potential in the machinations of the cult that developed around Kira, but this was sadly skimmed over. So the last 3rd is sadly a bit of a waste, but the end is very touching.
Desert Punk (TV) Good SPOILERS: Kind of an updating of Trigun. The "hero" is amazingly crass and self-centred, but luckily the show manages to make this genuinely funny and not as low-brow as it should be. The other characters are interesting and likable, and the emergence of the underlying plot is intriguing. Art, acting and sound are all top-notch. Shame about the ending (Desert Punk becomes a baddy; then there's a huge explosion and all the characters die). If they don't make a second series, this mark should be dropped down a few notches.
Chance Pop Session (TV) Not really good Standard idol plot that doesn't pretend to be something it's not. First half quite watchable, though the three girls really lack in the personality department. Second half drags due to full songs playing over montage visuals, often the same songs repeated. Unfortunately the songs are bland and forgettable. The ending didn't make use of its opportunity for a big emotional catharsis.
Sakura Wars (TV) So-so Started annoyingly but got better. Okay, not brilliant. I liked the art, reminded me of Detective Conan. The orchestral BG music is good. The period-style setting is interesting, but the characters are fairly generic and don't really relate to each other in any interesting way. The steampunk element is mostly just cosmetic, unfortunately, and the live-in musical theatre setting is just stupid (the girls drama school aspect was done much better in Kaleido Star). I'd rank this a little over Silent Mobius. A decent time-filler, but less than a classic.
Scrapped Princess (TV) So-so Started brilliantly - good art, interesting characters, intriguing world with hints of a HACKsign backstory (though I didn't like Hacksign - that's another story). Then it kind of went on for a while, and the plot development didn't really seem to add anything - it was just more 'stuff' happening.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (movie) Not really good Supposedly the real ending that Anno hadn't been able to do for the TV series, this film messes with the character types a bit (Shinji was never that catatonic in the TV series, and never especially interested in Asuka), and goes for a big-budget take on the Fudged Mystical Ending (TM). I'm hoping the Rebuild films finally get NGE's ending right, but I'm not optimistic.
Tokko (TV) Weak Terrible in all sorts of ways, but not so excruciating as to make me stop watching it. For a 2006 show, it looks very crude. The character designs are generic, except for the hero's stupid multicoloured hair. The drama is cliched and unrealistic (using the old device of governmental factions somehow simultaneously coexisting and at war with each other), and the comedy is painful (the accompanying jews-harp sound makes it even worse). There are some effective horror moments near the beginning of the series, but these are exceptions. Notice how the blood on the walls of the abandoned-for-5-years apartment building is still bright red! The characters are uninteresting - only a couple of characters have actual personality, and that's based solely in cliche. A couple of potentially interesting side characters are introduced towards the end, but they have no chance of development. The last episode (after the series was presumably cancelled due to complete lack of interest) is hilariously mishandled - a suitable capstone for this jumbled pile of cliches and mistakes. BTW, the DVD subtitles are for the dub version of the script only.
Black Lagoon (TV) Good Terrific production values, and a great feeling of adventure. There isn't an overriding story, as I understand it, just a series of arcs, which makes it feel a little odd structurally. Also, I have a problem with any story that glamourises piracy - just you try sailing around SE Asia, and see how glamourous it feels if you get raided!
Getbackers (TV) So-so The "humour" and cheesy music of the first few episodes turned me off, but then there were some good fights with interesting new characters, and then the first Limitless Fortress arc, which had an interesting mood, and gave the Dr Jackal character opportunities to shine. However, the story and characters rarely rose above generic shonen cut-outs. Apparently season 2 has a lot of the "filler" episodes I disliked, plus a WTF ending, so I am going to stop with the end of season 1. Edit: I saw vol 9 (season 2), which showed some filler episodes and beginning of 2nd Fortress arc. Filler was crap as expected; Fortress arc seemed random and subpar, plus lower production values than season 1.
Read or Die (OAV) So-so The action sequences in the 2nd and 3rd parts are the highlight. The scripts and characters are not otherwise particularly interesting.
(The) Big O (TV) Decent The art deco stylings of the Batman animated series crossed with the hero antics of the 1940s Superman cartoons - plus a giant robo in a city where everyone has lost their memories. Actually, that last bit is never quite explained. The first half is great, exciting and stylish. The second half gets more vague and mystical, but is still watchable.
Someday's Dreamers (TV) Very good The basic story is unremarkable, with a witch-in-training meeting a bunch of characters when she goes to the big city, but the writing and directing are excellent. This is really sweet, gentle stuff, and the music is excellent.
Basilisk (TV) Good The beginning is excellent, a combination of Ninja Scroll (movie & underrated TV) and period drama. Acting and art are great. Unfortunately, the most interesting characters die fairly quickly, and there is a very slow patch when the Iga faction are on a ship. Heroine Oboro is really another helpless lovelorn maid and not very interesting, and the conclusion was unconvincing, the obligatory tragic self sacrifice. Overall, still worth it for the art and dramatic fights.
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed (TV) Excellent The best elements of the Gundam series are collected in this retelling of the original story, with clean modern graphics, epic orchestral music, and a better-than-usual dramatic arc. The main characters are more developed and emotionally believable than previously (and there's a tsundere girl I actually care about as a character), although the main character's knack for mecha piloting isn't explained as in the original. There's less mecha fan-service than in Wing (good), but OTOH no attempt to be "real robot" as in the 1990s OVAs. The story declines slightly towards the end, as the device of a group of survivors beset from all sides is discarded, when the group splits up; also the final space battles are a bit unclear. I admit I can understand criticisms that the pretty visuals undermine the dramatic realism, but overall, it's a very successful and enjoyable series, and a highlight of the franchise.
Jubei-Chan 2: The Counterattack of Siberia Yagyu (TV) So-so The big problem here is they introduced too many new characters, so in the final showdown you have a dozen characters all fighting for screen-time, making the screen and story too crowded, and not leaving enough room for Jubei-chan (the main character!). The ending goes on worse than 'Return of the King' (which is a POS, but that's a rant for another day).
Black Butler (TV) Bad The central premise of the poor little rich boy guarded and served by the demon to whom he has sold his soul obviously has potential, but is ultimately not elaborated in a satisfying way, and is overwhelmed by terrible unfunny comedy throughout the series. And the scheme of the central villain makes no sense.
When They Cry - Higurashi (TV) Good The differences between the alternate-reality stories are interesting, the production is of fairly high quality, and some of the horror is so appalling in its extremity that it's hilarious, but the pace is often very slow, with the same exposition speeches being heard again and again. If you have a strong stomach and like a good conspiracy, it's worth watching once.
Baki the Grappler (TV) Decent The first 13 episodes are great, as Baki struggles to become a better fighter, and we learn more about his past. Then the next season-and-a-half (into Grappler Baki Maximum Tournament) is a tournament with a bunch of he-men hitting each other. Baki doesn't get developed at all. For a moment it looks like he might have a love interest, but after he takes her to the tournament, we just occasionally see her looking wistful in the corridor, and that's it. A wasted opportunity.
Chaos;HEAd (TV) Not really good The first ep makes a high impact, and suggests the show will be a combination of 'Welcome To The NHK' and 'When They Cry'. Sadly, the show becomes more formulaic as it goes on, as the hero accumulates a harem of girls and witnesses a series of not very interesting fights. There is also some moronic pseudoscientific gobbledygook to justify the plot, and I just didn't buy the various big character moments toward the end.
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (TV) Bad The first ep of this consists entirely of long boring exposition masquarading as "dialog".
Deadman Wonderland (TV) Not really good The first episode is intriguing and well done. After this, though, the show becomes very generic, with stereotyped characters and unconvincing dramatic situations. Also, the fights are not very interesting.
Samurai 7 (TV) Good The first part, recruiting the various ronin in the futuristic city, is the most interesting and exciting part. It goes downhill from there to become fairly cliched, but ends okay.
Jungle Emperor Leo (movie 1997) So-so The first problem with this movie is that it attempts to summarise in 90 minutes a lengthy manga and anime series. Characters and story arcs drop out for long periods of time, and often seem barely related to each other, particularly the lion cub Lune's adventure into human society. The movie as a whole seems very episodic. The second big problem is what might be called authorial naivity, in particular his desire to contrast greedy murderous humans with life-loving jungle animals, which requires him to ignore that these animals spend much of their lives trying to eat each other and avoid being eaten in turn. It's a problem an adult viewer will find difficult to overlook. Similarly, the readiness with which Dr Moustache throws away the guide to the gem cave, at the end of the movie, when it's been impressed upon us how vital the gems are to human survival, is hard to justify. Finally, the readiness with which Leo throws himself upon Moustache's knife is unbelievable, and his sacrifice is a bit perverse given how the rest of the movie has argued against using animals for human benefit. The animation is good, but a bit Disney-fied, and not at the same high level as Ghibli's productions.
Love Hina (TV) Decent The funny stuff about makes up for the unfunny stuff.
Azumanga Daioh (TV) Very good The non-adventures of a group of high school girls. Charming and funny, but you need to be in the mood for some repetitive gags and schtick humour.
Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise (movie) Not really good The only compelling reason to watch this movie is the virtuoso animation of Hideaki Anno. The action and effects sequences really are beautiful and amazing. As a drama, however, this is not recommendable. There are over a dozen male characters who can be barely differentiated; there is a "romance" which involves no real emotional interaction, culminating in Our Hero attempting to rape the girl (for no explained reason), followed by a "comedy" scene in which he apologises, but the girl sincerely replies, "No, I'm the one who should apologise for hitting someone as wonderful as you over the head." There is also a little girl who never smiles (for no apparent reason), who finally has a laugh with Our Hero (for no apparent reason). The alternate world of the film is differentiated by unusual fashions and drinking glasses, and Our Hero likes his "mook" strong and black - that's pretty pointless world-building. The film ends with a long montage of stuff, which I think shows events from the hero's life followed by the history of this world's civilisation, culminating in space travel. The effect is to dismiss the personal aspect of the hero's narrative at the end of the story, in favour of a pretentious "art" statement that is really superfluous.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (movie) Weak The only reason to watch this is the fantastic CGI work. Apart from that element, the fight scenes are rendered unbelievable by their complete ignoring of the laws of physics, and the drama cannot compensate for this, as it too is shallow and unbelievable. This movie is really just a very expensive screen-saver.
Pumpkin Scissors (TV) Decent The role of a military unit in post-war reconstruction and peace-keeping is an interesting idea, but in this anime it's too often subservient to anime cliches and stereotyped characters. The show has a good look for its budget, and there is some ongoing intrigue with the corrupt Section1 and the mysterious Silver Wheel organisation, but this doesn't develop much within the scope of the show (presumably the manga continues the story further).
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (movie) Good The story suffers from being a "middle" episode, so it can't really establish or resolve anything. The new character doesn't seem to have much personality yet. Apart from that, it has some good fights, and sets things up nicely for the next episode. Tsuzuku!
Parasite Dolls (OAV) Bad There is some nice looking animation in the action scenes, but the script is juvenile, with 2D characters in unbelievable interactions, and lots of "cool" moments which shouldn't impress anyone who's reached adulthood.
Genshiken (OAV) Decent This 3 episode OAV came as the extras for the disappointing full season of show-within-a-show Kujibiki Unbalance. Apart from a couple of the character designs having been altered for the worse, the writing just isn't at the high sophisticated level of the first series. Comparisons aside, it's still enjoyable as an adjunct to the original.
Ghost Hunt (TV) Awful This anime (and presumably the original manga) looks like an attempt to duplicate the success of Detective Conan (AKA Case Closed). The problem is, the simple stories are drawn out even more than in the case of Conan, and with no resultant extra character or plot revelation. The result is a very slow, painfully obvious structure, and the characters' novelty appeal is wearing off.... "Plodding" is the word to describe it overall. Also, since both the problems and the solutions of the cases are supernatural, the storywriter can basically pull clues and revelations out of his ass. In the end, the scripts became so simplistic, and so repetitive, that I just couldn't stand anymore. An awful show.
(The) Animatrix (OAV) Good This collection of shorts is of very variable quality, but I rate it as good overall because of the highlight episodes Beyond, and Second Renaissance Parts 1 & 2.
Air (TV) Decent This is a much better adaptation of a dating game than Kanon, though still with flaws. The story is slow moving but touching and well-told. It's visually beautiful, and you get used to the hair. The different girls' stories are better integrated into the story than in Kanon, but most of the girls drop out halfway through the show. I think it would have been better to have the girls' stories all tie together in the end. It also would've been nice to get more background on the main character's relationship with his mother. The ending was sadly a bit of a mess: the time anomaly, and our hero disappearing/turning into a crow really weren't explained. There was also some bad writing in the final episode, with stupid lines for oba-san, and a thing with two children that meant either the writer had no idea how to write for kid characters, or else these were supposed to be some sort of cosmic watchers, which hadn't been foreshadowed at all. The two bonus episodes fill out the historic flashback, but some of the writing doesn't fit the expanded scenes well, and there's too much reliance on uncharacteristic gag humour. Also some annoying background music in the second episode. Apparently the previous issue of this series (by ADV, not Funimation) included a 13th "recap" broadcast episode. It's a damn shame that it wasn't included here.
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (TV) So-so This is better than the original series because Hai actually has some personality and takes part in the main plot. However, the story and characters still ultimately never rise above shonen stereotypes, and the ending is stupid - they create an entire duplicate Earth, and for what? The original Earth is still there, stuck with contractors etc.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (movie) Bad This is pretty bad, and proof, if proof were needed, that Yoshiyuki Tomino, creator of the Gundam franchise, knows nothing about people beyond what he's picked up from trashy novels and cliches about "passionate youth". The character of Quess (a "sensitive" teenage girl), in particular, is infuriating beyond endurance, and the soap opera pinings of Hathaway and Nanai don't help. The other characters remain fairly inoffensive shonen cliches. There is an amazing bit of "diplomacy" in which the Federation, having had an asteroid dropped on them, sell the culprits another asteroid, because they need money for government programs! The animation has some great moments (including an exterior of a rotating space colony which is actually a CG shot - remarkable stuff for a film released in 1988!), but this doesn't compensate for the cringe-inducingly awful drama.
(The) World of Narue (TV) Good This is really nice. It certainly won't set the world aflame, but every aspect is done with a high level of skill and enthusiasm. The characters are likable and there's some good humour. I noticed the director took care to always have movement in every shot, so the whole thing seems life-like and, er, animated.
Air (movie) Not really good This movie is a more realistic take on the central romance seen in the series. Apart from having a (different) stupid ending, the film shoots itself in the foot with its crazy style: constant use of "drawn" stills, light bloom, lens effects, blackouts, even bullet-time! This makes for a constantly irritating visual experience, which is a shame as the basic script is pretty good. Overall, you're better off watching the series (or possibly playing the game - I wouldn't know).
Blood: The Last Vampire (movie) Weak This original video animation was made partly as a tech demo by Production IG, and released in 2000. I didn't much like it when I first saw it, and the passage of time has been unfavourable. The tech they were showing off (light effects, filters, limited use of 3D CGI) now looks very dated, and the rest of the anime is not good enough to make up for it. The character design is very inconsistent: the female designs are good (Saya, the nurse), but the men all look terrible - all the white guys look like zombies! A lot of the animation is surprisingly limited, considering this was supposed to be a visual spectacular. I guess, as we've seen with other productions, they were relying on CG razzle-dazzle to carry the show, which never works out. Interestingly, the audio features both English and Japanese voice actors. Sadly, the acting is truly terrible. The US actors represent the worst aspects of the typical dub: unmotivated, lacking sincerity and character, really bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. The guy playing the black guard sounds like they just grabbed some schlub off the street! The Japanese actors are a bit better in their original language (though far from excellent), but their English acting is terrible; the nurse in particular sounds like she doesn't understand a word she's saying. The story has potential, but the writing doesn't have much flare, and the story doesn't develop the characters sufficiently to make them interesting; the final scene with the photo labelled "vampire" is a bit too obvious. This anime may be of interest for historical reasons, or if you absolutely have to see everything with "vampire" in the title, but is otherwise best avoided.
Kamichu! (TV) So-so This presents itself as a Miyazaki-style show, but unfortunately it's not. The premise is interesting, but the characters are all anime stereotypes instead of the realistically observed characters we know from Miyazaki's better films. It always seems like the show couldn've gone a bit further. The stories are consistently weak, e.g. the local shrine god runs away - but then he comes back. The gods' convention could've been stranger or more of a revelation; Kamichu could try using her powers more often than every 4 episodes (!). Her shrinegirl friend pushes her into using her god status to make money, but this is never seen as problematic (perhaps this is normal in a polytheistic society?). Even the OP/ED music starts off sounding great, then quickly becomes blah and forgettable. It seems that something always blocks this show from fulfilling its potential. From the DVD notes, I think the show's creator was especially interested in all the minor gods that are seen in the periphery, and I think the show might've been better if he'd focused more on them.
Slayers Next (TV) Weak This sequel to the first series is supposedly better than its originator, but I thought it was worse. The plot was far more episodic and less memorable than the first series. Various characters from the old show reappear, but lack the freshness of their original incarnations, and lack any special reason to be in the show again. I honestly can't remember who the villain is, or why our heroes are fighting him, and I don't think I cared very much at the time.
Lucky Star (TV) Decent This series became popular because of its otaku references. The main character is a high school girl who has been raised as an otaku by her widowed father. I identified with the way her devotion to these interests has a negative effect on the rest of her life. Apart from this element, this is a fairly conventional school comedy, a bit like Azumanga Daioh but wackier and with less interesting characters. I thought the dance number finale was weak, as it didn't seem to come from any of the characters' personalities. The sight of all those characters dancing absolutely identically (presumably rotoscoped) seemed to undermine the individuality of the characters, which I had thought was supposed to be the main appeal of the show. Maybe for the Japanese becoming identical to everybody else is a happy ending? (See my comments on Eureka Seven.) (The subs on the DVD were annoyingly formatted: too fat to read quickly, and if two people spoke at once, lines would be posted at the top and bottom of the screen at the same time. How the hell am I supposed to read that?)
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV) Decent This show can be criticised for its cookiecutter elements (i.e. dystopian future goverment fought by high school student in mecha) and for a couple of unbelievable plot moments, but overall energy and competence of execution carries you through. Only real problem is it ends on a big cliffhanger (see R2 series).
Noein - to your other self (TV) Not really good This show does have good elements, but outweighed by bad.... The visuals are of a high standard (apart from the change over the first couple of eps, from "experimental" to more normal anime style, and Haruka's ugly and awkward 3D-modelled house). The setup is good, but by ep 6 writing quality has plummeted - Haruka's escape in La Cryma is a joke (the mix of wacky escapade and doomed dystopia doesn't work), and her constantly repeated response to being told that she is now in an alternative future dimension ("Uso!" - lie!) gets annoying quickly. The character of Atori, main villain for the first part of the series, annoys me as his antagonism is unmotivated, merely a symptom of his "crazy" personality. Meanwhile, character development seems to be replaced by constant bickering and complaining. Things improve again in the second half of the series, in terms of enjoyable character interaction, and the show settles into a repetitive slice-of-life/occasional action mode. All the stranded future warriors and quantum physics scientists are hanging out with the pre-teen heroine in her home. There are some good emotional character moments, but the climax is too mystical and basically confused to be effective (might be partly the subtitles' fault). Verdict: this show is confused about its tone, the story meanders directionlessly for much of its length, dialog quality is inconsistent, and the conclusion is vague and unsatifying. Not worth watching again.
Angel Beats! (TV) Weak This show grabbed my attention at the start, because it was visually sharp and colourful, the execution was energetic, and the premise was intriguing (though unable to withstand even cursory rational analysis). Sadly, it sags toward the second half, when it tries to get more serious. The big problem is that the characters are ciphers. Apart from the main guy, there is no attempt to round out any of the characters - even their cliche selling-points (e.g. the guy with the axe who is determined to protect the red-haired girl) are raised and dropped almost immediately, meaning the cast are basically indistinguishable. So, in what is supposed to be a climactic moment in which a girl gets her dream-come-true when a guy says he wants to marry her, I was just thinking "Why is he proposing? Do these characters even KNOW each other?" Because the whole series is directed towards a succession of big emotional payoffs, but doesn't make the characters believable, or even distinctive, it fails and is ultimately a waste of time.
R.O.D -The TV- Bad This started with potential, but the plot just became more ridiculous, and at the same time more banal, as it went on. The problem is bad writing, with tedious dialogue and careless plotting. They sink Hong Kong halfway through the series, for no good reason - and then never mention it again!
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino (OAV) Decent This was a nice watch, apparently overseen by the creator of the original manga. The art was a bit crude, but rich-looking and with some nicely animated moments. I did enjoy the exploration of Venice during the first episode. The two episodes are let down by the inconsequentiality of the stories, which make the viewing experience rather forgettable, but it's nice to hang out with these characters for a while. It's like a "healing" anime, except of course for the low-lying murderous dread typical of this series. Recommended for fans, but don't expect a big deal.
Pani Poni Dash! (TV) Bad Tons of "crazy" gags, but NOT FUNNY.
Initial D (TV) Good Ugly characters (not as bad as the manga though!), classic story. Made car racing interesting to a non-driver so must be good. Hope they make more, as the story was left hanging.
Figure 17 (TV) Decent Underrated. Interesting 45min-long format (you have to concentrate a bit more to make it through an episode - but it's better than those annoying 12 minute shows!). Should be popular with fans of Miyazaki's films.
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) Bad Very disappointing. Haruhi is just a tsundere bitch, and the three episodes I saw didn't make me laugh once. Just shallow trash for trendy teens.
Cromartie High School (TV) Weak Wacky stuff. I was enticed by the Freddy Mercury-alike character, but this show is too self-consciously quirky and not actually very funny.
Serial Experiments Lain (TV) Weak Way overrated. It's hard to understand (and watch), not because it's so artistic and intellectual, but because it's pretentious nonsense.--I recently rewatched this, in the hope that I would discover new value in it. The style is great, and some of the story elements are good. However, the characterisation of Lain is inconsistent and unbelievable (and yes, I'm bearing in mind all the spoilerific stuff we learn about her later), and the story is ridiculous (especially the ending). The show tricks you into thinking it's profound by using an extremely obscure and convoluted method of storytelling, but it's only a trick.
Burst Angel (TV) Not really good What a disappointment! I rented volumes 1 and 3 and enjoyed, so bought the box. Sadly, the plot never comes together despite some promising hints, the characters never do anything interesting, the central guy character basically disappears from the show, and the whole thing feels like it was done just for the money.
Star Blazers (TV) Weak Wow, this dated really badly, didn't it? The animation is often very weak, and the story is consistently sub-Star Trekian drivel. Macross is still good, though.
Beyond (OAV) Masterpiece [Segment of "Animatrix" anthology film]
Second Renaissance (OAV) Masterpiece [Segment of "Animatrix" anthology film]
Akira (movie) Very good
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku (TV) Decent
Argento Soma (TV) So-so
Arjuna (TV) Weak
Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts (TV) Good
Bakemonogatari (TV) Not really good
Banner of the Stars (TV) Not really good
Banner of the Stars II (TV) Not really good
BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (TV) Weak
Blue Exorcist (TV) So-so
Bodacious Space Pirates (TV) So-so
Castle in the Sky (movie) Decent
A Certain Scientific Railgun (TV) Not really good
Chrono Crusade (TV) Bad
Clannad (TV) Decent
Comic Party (TV) So-so
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Decent
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Weak
Coyote Ragtime Show (TV) Weak
Darker than Black - Kuro no Keiyakusha: Gaiden (OAV) So-so
Durarara!! (TV) Weak
Eden of the East (TV) So-so
Elemental Gelade (TV) Weak
Emma: A Victorian Romance (TV) Good
Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (movie) Very good
Excel Saga (TV) Decent
Full Metal Panic! (TV) Decent
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (TV) Good
Fullmetal Alchemist (TV) Decent
Ga-Rei-Zero (TV) Bad
Gad Guard (TV) Not really good
Gantz (TV) Good
Gasaraki (TV) Decent
Generator Gawl (TV) So-so
Geneshaft (TV) Bad
Genesis Climber Mospeada (TV) Not really good
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (TV) Weak
Gilgamesh (TV) So-so
Gin Rei (OAV) Not really good
Girls und Panzer (TV) Bad
Gosick (TV) Weak
Gravion Zwei (TV) Decent
Gurren Lagann (TV) Not really good
.hack//SIGN (TV) Weak
Haibane Renmei (TV) Good
Hand Maid May (TV) Decent
Happy Lesson (TV) Decent
Happy Lesson (OAV) Weak
Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Weak
Humanity Has Declined (TV) Weak
Ikki Tousen (TV) Weak
Infinite Ryvius (TV) Weak
INTERSTELLA 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (movie) Weak
Inuyasha (TV) Weak
Is This a Zombie? (TV) Weak
Jubei-Chan The Ninja Girl - Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch (TV) Decent
Kamisama Kiss (TV) Weak
Kanon (TV 2/2006) So-so
Kyo kara Maoh! (TV) So-so
Lime-iro Senkitan (TV) Decent
Maburaho (TV) So-so
Madlax (TV) Weak
Mahoromatic - Automatic Maiden (TV) Weak
Mars Daybreak (TV) So-so
Metropolis (movie) Weak
Millennium Actress (movie) Weak
Misaki Chronicles (TV) Bad
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (OAV) So-so
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (TV) Decent
Momo: The Girl God of Death (TV) Not really good
MoonPhase (TV) Not really good
Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit (TV) So-so
Mushi-Shi (TV) Decent
My Bride is a Mermaid (TV) Bad
Nanaka 6/17 (TV) Weak
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Decent
Needless (TV) Weak
Negima!? (TV) Decent
Nightwalker (TV) Awful
Ninja Robots (TV) Not really good
Ninja Scroll (TV) Good
Noir (TV) Bad
Otogi Zoshi (TV) Not really good
Paprika (movie) Not really good
Patlabor: The Movie Not really good
Peacemaker (TV) Decent
Perfect Blue (movie) Weak
(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie) Weak
Please Twins! (TV) So-so
Pom Poko (movie) Weak
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (movie) Decent
Porco Rosso (movie) Not really good
Princess Jellyfish (TV) Good
Princess Mononoke (movie) Very good
RahXephon (TV) Decent
RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio (movie) Not really good
Requiem from the Darkness (TV) Weak
Romeo × Juliet (TV) Weak
Rozen Maiden (TV) Weak
(The) Sacred Blacksmith (TV) Weak
Saiyuki Reload (TV) Bad
Saiyuki: Requiem (movie) Weak
Sands of Destruction (TV) Weak
Sasami: Magical Girls Club (TV) Weak
School Rumble (TV) Good
School Rumble: 2nd Semester (TV) Good
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings (TV) Weak
Shangri-La (TV) Bad
Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (TV) Decent
Shrine of the Morning Mist (TV) Decent
Silent Möbius (TV) Bad
Sola (TV) Not really good
Sonic X (TV) Decent
(The) SoulTaker (TV) Worst ever
Speed Grapher (TV) So-so
Spiral (TV) So-so
Spirited Away (movie) Masterpiece
Squid Girl (TV) Good
Steamboy (movie) Weak
Steel Angel Kurumi (TV) Bad
Steins;Gate (TV) Weak
Stellvia (TV) Weak
Stratos 4 (TV) Decent
Strawberry Marshmallow (TV) Excellent
Summer Wars (movie) Not really good
Tattoon Master (OAV) So-so
(The) Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk (TV) Not really good
Un-Go (TV) Weak
Vampire Princess Miyu (TV) Weak
(The) Vision of Escaflowne (TV) Decent
Whisper of the Heart (movie) So-so
Wolf's Rain (TV) Excellent
Wolf's Rain (OAV) Excellent
(The) World God Only Knows (TV) Decent
xxxHOLiC (TV) Weak
Zone of the Enders (TV) Decent
Zone of the Enders: Idolo (OAV) So-so