The Fall 2002 Anime Season Preview Guide

by Zac Bertschy & Rebecca Bundy, Oct 11th 2002
So the new season has finally begun in Japan, and once again there's a veritable landfill full of new material to sift through. Today, Answerman and Ms. Answerman do the sorting for you, offering impressions and opinions on the latest offerings from Japan.


Series Title: Galaxy Angels Season 3

Synopsis: Broccoli's Galaxy Angels are back for a third season of crazy hijinks. They were separated at the end of the last season, so it's up to their leader to track them down and reassemble the team!

He Said:

Galaxy Angels is definitely an acquired taste. It appeals to fans of screwball comedy and low humor, and Galaxy Angels Season 3 sticks to this formula. The first two seasons were basically episodic shorts that eventually got to a storyline; one that concluded rather quickly. They were light and fluffy, and Season 3 continues this tradition. Sticking with the old character designs, Broccoli hasn't done a whole lot of extra work this time around; they're still using extensive CG work on the spaceships and for some of the flight sequences, but by and large, this show fits in visually with the other seasons.

The same cast of characters returns, with no redesigns or costume changes. The animation is fairly well done. Galaxy Angels has always had a decent animation budget and it shows in simple things like character motion and background design. They've added a few new characters, including a few bishounen to attract a female audience to this otherwise completely male-oriented series. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing in Galaxy Angels Season 3 to appeal to the uninitiated; the show requires a basic understanding of who the characters are and what happened at the end of season 2. They don't do a lot of recapping or reintroduction; they toss you right in and assume that you've seen what came before. For that reason, it's hard to recommend this to anyone who hasn't seen a lot of Galaxy Angels already. Chances are, if you've already seen a lot of Galaxy Angels, you don't need me to tell you to watch it.

She Said:

If you haven't seen the first two seasons of Galaxy Angels, you're in for a visual treat that lacks any trace of plot or character development. Each character design is unique, emphasizing a favorite hobby of the five female crewmembers, at least for the first few minutes of the episode, when they were forced to take on new jobs. There seems to be a great potential for character interaction and development, but such things were ignored in place of the captain being injured on his quest to gather the Angels up in the ten minutes allowed for the episode.

The animation, save for a very short comedy segment that was 'drawn' by the captain, is quite well done and almost makes the show worth watching for this factor alone. That is, if one can make it through the unbelievably irritating opening song; the opening song alone is enough to make one question what value the anything that follow might possibly have. It is worth enduring the ten-minute first episode just to see the well drawn characters and the wonderful clothing designs, but anything more would be a waste of time.


Series: Getbackers

Synopsis:

If it's stolen, they'll steal it back! Ginji and Ban are partners who retrieve stolen items. Ginji has a special technique that allows him to send massive currents of electricity through the air, and Ban uses his ‘Evil Eye’ technique to send his foes into a nightmare illusion for one minute exactly. Together, they take on various thugs in the underworld, retrieving lost items (especially for cute girls).

He Said:

Getbackers is a lot of fun to watch. There's enough chemistry between Ban and Ginji (chemistry that has not escaped the homosexuality-obsessed fangirls of today) to make the show a complete joy to watch. Produced by Production I.G, Getbackers sports some smooth, high-quality animation. There are a few scenes where the quality drops a bit, but overall, this is a very pretty series. The characters have been redesigned from the manga, giving Ginji's appearance a well-deserved and appreciated facelift. They exaggerated Ban's hair a bit and gave him cooler glasses, which is another nice touch. The manga looked a little dated, so it's important to update the look of the show. Slow saxophone music and lots of lovingly painted urban backgrounds help to nicely capture the “beat of the city” feel for which the manga is known.

The opening theme is a little grating and the music in the show itself is somewhat repetitive, but the major flaws end there. The storyline is essentially untouched; the basic character concepts are the same as they are in the manga, which is important since the character's personalities are what made the manga so much fun to read. They've condensed a few things here and there, introduced some characters early and lessened the economic hardship that Ban and Ginji are repeatedly put through, but all in all, this is a faithful adaptation and a very entertaining one to boot. Getbackers is easily one of the best new shows this season and should find a huge audience waiting for it when it arrives on US shores. Most often a good anime adaptation is needed to get American audiences excited about a good manga title; it looks like the time has come for Getbackers.

She Said:

The first episode of Getbackers is an intriguing start to a series that has a lot of room to develop characters and plot into a wonderful anime. The concept of two guys, Ban and Ginji, who retrieve lost items, is a simple idea and the opening does nothing to make this anime stand out. A lot of things about this show make it seem average at best. Yet there are numerous hints to there being a lot more to Ban and Ginji, aside from the obvious fact that Ginji controls electricity through his hands and Ban is able to force nightmares or dreams upon a person simply by making eye contact. The first episode hints at a past they were a part of, and hopefully Getbackers will develop them past simply being friends that recover lost items.

Production I.G did a wonderful job with the animation, giving the characters smooth movements in things as simple as a nodding head. The simple humanitarian concept of recovering lost items for people adds humor to the show as the characters hunt down a beloved key chain. This contrasts sharply to the fact that the key chain was stolen by a crooked cop working with the yakuza. Hopefully the show will continue to mix humor and light moments with dark and traumatic scenes. If it does, this unassuming show will easily become a hit with fans from America.


Series: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Synopsis: Major Kusanagi and Batou are back, this time in 30-minute installments. Each episode follows an isolated storyline, tracking the case files of Public Peace Section 9. Kusanagi, Batou and the entire strike team take down international criminals and high-profile thugs, dealing with an endless stream of intense – and fatal – situations.

He Said:

Simply amazing. The anime community had extremely high expectations for a TV series based on one of the most revered manga of all time, by one of the most highly-regarded manga-ka ever, Masamune Shirow. The famous Ghost in the Shell film failed to live up to many fans' expectations, but was still an excellent work in its own right. Manga readers, your time has come; Stand Alone Complex is beautiful, high-energy genius that is faithful to the source material.

Yoko Kanno did the score for Stand Alone Complex, and that alone should send you running to the nearest import CD store. She never lets her audience down, and Stand Alone Complex is no exception. In comparison to the other opening themes this season, and indeed, most anime opening themes, ‘Inner Universe’ is both haunting and beautiful. The score itself is nothing to cough at, either. Animation-wise, Ghost in the Shell is a marvel. Maintaining the high level of quality the movie achieved, Production I.G has worked overtime to bring a stunning rendition of Shirow's characters to life on the small screen. No details are overlooked, as the CG robots and tanks blend marvelously with the traditionally animated characters. Shirow's cyberpunk world has been brought to vivid, thriving life. Although his characters are slightly redesigned to better fit an animated series, the backgrounds are beautifully portrayed. The storylines, which are gripping and engaging, had me wanting more. They even kept the sense of humor that the manga had, but the film lacked; Kusanagi is her tenacious self, and Batou never fails to make a droll comment. In all, no series this season comes with a higher recommendation from me than Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Watch it.

She Said:

The first episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is interesting but lacks character development and plot. On the plus side, Stand Alone Complex offers wonderful music, especially the opening song. Also, the animation is beautiful, allowing for sharp contrasts in colors between Kusanagi's lighter outfit and the simpler dark tones of the rest of the men working with her. The technology used is varied, yet unobtrusive, if you consider geisha robots and disappearing people unassuming. Yet the technology depicted furthers the appearance of a bleak world, with humans abusing science as a "quick fix" for what their bodies and minds are incapable of providing.

The characters, however, are disappointing. The only worthwhile character is Togusa, a man under Kusanagi who chose to refuse enhancing his own body and instead opted to train and grow as a natural human. Because of this, he is the only 'flawed' character and thus is the only character with any life and emotion to him. Kusanagi comes off as a completely technology-dependant character, to the point where she'd rather just augment her body further rather than actually developing skill. She's an uninteresting character that can only grow if the technology allows it. The other members of the squad are simply names to drones that will probably be useful to the plot only through their eventual deaths later in the show. The plot itself has a sense of urgency, but fails to indicate a destination. The first episode has little to offer save for a big-breasted female in a skimpy outfit, a single character worth watching, and a plot that seems to have been forgotten.


Series: Gundam Seed

Synopsis:

Once again it's civil war between the Earth Alliance and Zaft. The Earth Alliance is developing new Moblie Suits that they presume will trash Zaft and send them running home to write up peace treatises, but Zaft has other plans. They invade, and try to capture the new Gundam mobile suits. What they aren't counting on is the appearance of a plucky youngster named Kira, who manages to find his way inside the cockpit of the only Gundam Zaft hadn't put its claws into yet.

He Said:

Another day, another Gundam series. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest Gundam fan in the world, but I know pap when I see it, and Gundam Seed is certainly that. The character designs are lifted straight from Infinite Ryvius, another Bandai space show, but here they just look deformed and strange. All the characters, save a few, have gigantic foreheads and tiny eyes. These poor character designs are hideous enough as it is, but they add insult to injury by draping them in the most insultingly nasty clothing ever to grace an anime series cast. Never have I seen stuff so obviously cribbed from fashion-plate shows like WeiB Kreuz and Yami no Matsuei, and then horribly butchered. The female lead wears what is, possibly, the ugliest pink blouse ever, and the blonde girl has a gigantic hat that obscures her freakishly large forehead. Someone put these guys back in the oven, they're not done yet.

Aside from the characters, who seemingly fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, the show is a total snooze. It's the usual Gundam storyline, except without the likable characters or engaging plot that blessed the franchise's better examples. They spent a lot of money on early CG scenes, and it seems that there wasn't any left for incidental digital effects like floating people and moving spaceships. What you get is basically a Colorforms space fighter or pilot moving in a straight horizontal line across the screen, looking like it's on a Popsicle stick. Some portions of this show may have been animated in Flash. Not to mention, the first thing the Earth Alliance sends out against the Zaft robots is a crappy little spaceship that looks just like the rover from the Atari 2600 classic Moon Patrol? I would have had a lot more fun playing Moon Patrol for 25 minutes. Gundam Seed might have something in it for hardcore Gundam fans and apologists who'll undoubtedly forgive the endless crimes against anime that this series commits, but I'm not willing to overlook this many gaping flaws. Let Gundam die, Bandai, you can't seem to do it right anymore.

She Said:

I didn't think that Gundam could get any worse...but it seems that I've been proven wrong by Gundam Seed. The music would make animals run in fear. Half of the characters are ripped off from other anime, including a masked blonde bishounen pilot taken from Gundam Wing itself. The few characters that are not rip offs are unimaginative and only serve as battle fodder. The clothes look like they had been ripped off of badly dressed hippies...no, I take that back. Hippies have better taste in clothes than these characters did. The animation is horrid and battles comprised of single drawings being pulled across the screen by hand instead of numerous drawings being used to express movement.

There is nothing new about plot or design and it's likely the creators watched the previous Gundam series, took everything that sucked about those shows, and thought to make a new series out of that. The show hints at a plot between two characters on opposite sides of the war, Asura and Kira, but this alone can not save Gundam Seed.


Series: Heat Guy J

Synopsis: In the future, cyborgs are prohibited from entering major cities, for fear they'll destroy whatever's in their path. Daisuke, an agent for a public security firm, works together with Jay, a cyborg dedicated to keeping the peace, to take out malicious androids and keep the city safe.

He Said:

Heat Guy J was put together by the same team responsible for Escaflowne, and it's easy to tell. The characters all have giant noses and resemble Alan Schezar or Hitomi. That having been said, Heat Guy J isn't a bad show, but it's wholly unremarkable and unfortunately forgettable.

Obviously they spent a lot of money on CG effects, like Daisuke's giant gaudy bike, something he's bound to bust out in every episode. Jay's transformation scenes are sort of cool, and the fights are interesting to watch. Unfortunately, I found myself falling asleep, simply because there weren't enough engaging characters and the plotline is pretty slow and pointless. They went for a feel similar to Cowboy Bebop, but failed in execution. The color palette is confused and muddled, mixing pinks and greens with pastels and earthtones. This show doesn't seem to know what it wants to be or look like. The music is nondescript, bordering on irritating. That having been said, the animation is very nicely done, and there's room for the show to grow plot wise. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough in Heat Guy J to like or dislike.. overall, it's completely unremarkable.

She Said:

Heat Guy J is a mediocre show that tries to incorporate numerous common plot elements into its own plot but falls short of bringing all of these ideas together into one story. There are vampires, cyborgs, underground dealings that hint to mafia organizations, old guys, young guys, fat, thin, and tall guys. It's a giant jumble of good ideas that are unable to take root and bear fruit. The backgrounds and interesting character designs save the show from being a waste of time.

Save for J, an older cyborg, and Daisuke, his younger human counterpart, the characters are dry and uninteresting from the bad guy of the episode who was after J for some unknown reason to the pink haired secretary who is nothing more than the generic intelligent female thrown in for color. There is a lot of potential for interaction and growth between J and Daisuke, especially considering Daisuke's dislike of cyborgs, making it the only stable thing in the mishmashed plot line. Overall, however, the show will remain second-rate as long as it's unable to tighten its plot elements.


Series: Naruto

Synposis:

Naruto is in training to become a Ninja and defend his hometown. He dreams of becoming a Hokage ninja, the fifth in a line of legendary ninja who used amazing power to defeat invincible enemies and save lives. Unforutnately, Naruto is the reborn version of a horrible demon fox that killed many villagers, including the parents of Naruto's teacher. Struggling to excel in his training, Naruto steals away with the Scroll of Sealing in the hopes that his skills will improve... unfortunately, all it does is bring about the truth behind what Naruto really is.

He Said:

The Naruto manga is very popular in Japan, and it's been licensed for release in Viz's new Shonen Jump anthology. It's easy to see why; the story is charming, the characters are engaging, and it's an incredibly fun read. It also seemed to have been made to be adapted into an anime series, and here it is. So, unsurprisingly, we have a Naruto anime series. It follows the manga closely enough and translates the finer points of the story very well.

This series was destined for success if they just stuck to the manga, which they did. The characters have been slightly redesigned, and Naruto is a little shorter than he is in the comics, but overall, it maintains the original style. The color palette is appropriately vibrant and colorful, and the animation, done by Studio Pierrot, is adequate. Admittedly, It's a little stiff, but it's light years beyond the horrible work they did for the decidedly lame Tokyo Underground. Naruto airs on TV Tokyo, and there's a lot of manga, which means it's going to run for a long time. Given the amazing amount of potential this series shows with just the first episode, it's obvious that Naruto is going to stick around for a while and quickly become an American fan favorite. The new flagship shonen action series has arrived.

She Said:

Naruto is a lively anime that encompasses wonderful characters, beautiful designs, and an upbeat plot into a show that will easily become a favorite of many fans. The main characters live in a village where everyone trains to be a ninja. Who in their right mind couldn't like that? The plot is quick to set up the personalities of Naruto and Iruka-sensei in the first episode. Although Naruto comes off as a generic young prankster who does things to get laughs and attention, the reason behind such behavior was explained and there are hints that Naruto will easily become a great ninja.

Although quite a few plot twists are given away in the first episode, there is still plenty of room for the plot and characters to develop over the course of the show. Full of humor, ninja tricks, and intense fight scenes, all audiences, no matter their preference in anime, will enjoy this show.


Series: Piano

Synopsis: Piano follows the daily life of a young girl named Miyu living with a well-to-do family in urban Japan. Miyu takes piano lessons from a fairly harsh teacher and hangs out with her friend, Yuki. There might be something between Miyu and her piano teacher.. or is there?

He Said:

There's only one thing remarkable about Piano. The character designs were done by the man responsible for Oh My Goddess! and You're Under Arrest. Other than that, this slow-moving series is bound for complete obscurity, among the likes of equally pointless shows like Boys Be... It looks like Shonen, but it tastes like Shojo. Fujisawa's character designs do not fit in among the decidedly pre-teen girl proceedings. The girls wear short skirts and have pristine skin, and look like a lolita fetishist's dream, yet the series focuses on boys they think are cute but are too shy to talk to and the cute little kitties they have at home and why mom doesn't like the blueberry tarts dad brought home on his way back from work. It's jarring and unsettling. These characters belong in some sickening hentai game, not a shoujo drama.

It's hard to tell where Piano is going. The storyline, at least in the first episode, isn't developed at all. In fact, not much happens. Miyu goes to Piano practice, then home. The end. Nothing else really happens. There are some people that dig this sort of thing, and chastise those of us who can't appreciate something that paces itself like a dead slug climbing a hill, but I require something a little more intense. Like, say, plot. Characters. Storyline. The key things (pun intended) that make a series interesting to watch. So far, Piano has none of these things. Time will tell if they have something greater planned for this show; as it stands, it's a 25 minute nap. Piano hits a completely sour note with me.

She Said:

Piano, for all its beautiful background designs and wonderful music, could easily loose to a turtle in a contest of speed. Miyu's hair defies the laws of gravity while she struggles with the day-to-day difficulties of going to school and playing the piano. In reality she does nothing of interest and instead meanders through 25 minutes of pointless interactions with her best friend Yuki and the piano teacher, leaving the viewers to peacefully snooze along with the beautiful piano music.

Aside from the main character's design, the other characters were well drawn with unobtrusive clothes or hair styles. Unfortunately, everyone, including Miyu, lacks depth. If you can take the pace of the show and are uninterested in actual plot or character development, then Piano will be a rewarding experience. If not, then buy the soundtrack and skip the show.


Series: Spiral

Synopsis:

Narumi's brother is dead, and he left behind a cryptic message: “Beware of the Blade Children”. The next day at school, a girl is found lying on the ground, having dropped from a 5th floor stairwell, hitting a truck on her way down. Narumi is the only suspect, but he knows he didn't do it. Who was this girl, why did she fall, and who are the Blade Children? These, and many more questions, must be answered by Narumi.

He Said:

Spiral has an interesting premise and a lot of potential. Although it could turn episodic fairly quickly, the promise of a strong recurring story arc is tangible from the first episode, and should have people hooked in no time. Even if the character design turns you off, consider giving Spiral a second chance. It isn't as cheesy as it might seem at first.

It's certainly a dark series, although humor is thrown in here and there to keep the proceedings from becoming too heavy. The main character has an amazing logic deduction skill and can solve mysteries a'la Detective Conan, so this makes for some interesting Scooby-Doo like plotlines. Although the supporting cast is a bit on the irritating side, the main character is interesting to watch and his inner monologue is probably the most entertaining and engaging portion of the show. Spiral is a show with many mysteries, and although they aren't as veiled as they are in, say, RahXephon, there's plenty of intrigue to keep people watching. The opening theme, however, is extremely irritating, being high-pitched enough to shatter safety glass. Despite this, there are some very creative and artistic CG designs in the opening sequence that are not to be missed. Spiral will probably gain a large following in the fan community before it's released here.

She Said:

Though very sound in plot, character design, and detail orientation, Spiral abounds in worthless characters that could easily be killed without a single tear shed for their death. The backbone of the plot is based on the disappearance of Ayumu's brother, though the single episode plot revolves around an attempted murder by a man who has some sort of knowledge about his brother's disappearance. It's basically a detective show, but offers a lot of room to further develop the plot.

Hopefully the show will develop the main characters, too. Ayumu especially has the potential to grow, but the first episode makes him out to be a dull daydreamer. His 'sidekick' Hiyono is hyper and loves to collect rumors, but offers nothing save for contrast to Ayumu. The animation is clean, as well as the backgrounds, with cool colors chosen so that they are not obtrusive. If you can wait and hope for more interesting characters while enjoying the animation, structured plot, and murder mysteries, you shouldn't be disappointed with this show.


Series: Kiddy Grade

Synopsis:

The GOTT, or the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs, polices the Galaxy making sure trade agreements are kept and people on different planets are treated humanely. The GOTT's two finest agents, Eclaire, who fights with a tube of lipstick, and her diminutive sidekick, Luminaire, battle bravely in the name of justice, solving the GOTT's toughest cases.

He Said:

Well, Gonzo, it's nice to know you had at least one or two good series in you. Coming off the rousing success of the emotionally devastating series Saishuuheiki Kanojo, Gonzo has returned to its roots with the bouncy, over-the-top Kiddy Grade. It's true, their newest show is much more Gatekeepers than it is Hellsing. The story is hackneyed and the characters are clichéd, but the fanboys are really going to eat this one up.

Kiddy Grade is a beautiful show. They obviously dumped a lot of money into this production. The CG work is fantastic, the characters move with an amazing amount of fluidity, and the whole package is very pretty. Other than that, this show is pretty insulting. The main character is never wearing anything other than tight, revealing clothing and the panty shots are liberally sprinkled throughout the show. She attacks with her lipstick, writing her name out and then whipping it at her enemies. The two main characters make passes at eachother and bounce from case to case, taking out the bad guys and mugging for the camera. There's a heavy shoujo-ai theme, too, so the doujinshi folks won't have to work too hard to crank out a few for this one. It seems like there's a lot going on in the background of this show; obviously there's some deeper plot, but this is only a little better than the insultingly stupid Angel Links. There's certainly nothing new here, and unless you're way in to fan service, best steer clear. Watch Saishuuheiki Kanojo instead, and remind yourself that Gonzo is capable of much better than this.

She Said:

If you like superb background animation quality, random stupid humor, short skirts with numerous panty shots, and unimaginative costumes, then Kitty Grade is perfect for you. The incredible background images that were oftentimes more interesting than the characters blocking such artwork made suffering through the episode worthwhile.

Unfortunately, this is the only remarkable thing that stands out in the first episode. The overall depressing feeling of Saishuuheiki Kanojo must've burned Gonzo out, resulting in Kitty Grade's shoujo-ai themes and comical standpoint that would make a view want to either laugh AT the show or wince in pain from it. The music sounds more like reject scores from bad action-adventure films, and the costumes are randomly placed upon tight female bodies, suitable only for panty shots during fight scenes. Weapons used included a mecha that did nothing but offer a force field, a line of lipstick that suddenly turned into a whip, and a giant machine that was able to suck in the entire enemy fleet and deposit them within a credit card. This anime was targeting an audience that I do not fall into, thus it was unable to do anything more than make me wish I had never been born to suffer through this first episode.


bookmark/share with:

Season Preview Guide homepage / archives

Around The Web