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5 Centimeters Per Second (movie) Very good 4/21/11 5 Centimeters per Second is a pretty traditional "decent story." There's little not to like; its pretty and emotionally compelling (both visually and story-wise) featuring a couple angles on one romance. There's really not a whole lot of depth though, and nothing spectacular makes it a stand out. But for the hour it lasts, it is more than worth its while, and possibly even worth a rewatch.
A-Channel (TV) Good 7/25/11 For a slice of life show, A-Channel doesn't do itself any favors in trying to get an audience interested. Of the four character main cast, only one character (Yuuko) is truly likable and captures that moe spirit the producers must have been going for. The others, while not necessarily unlikable most of the time, just can't capture the heartstrings of the audience. And for what probably should have been a typical slice of life school show, there are a few peculiarities. For instance, an (only halfway decent) insert song in every episode, really weak supporting characters that are neither in the spotlight nor unimportant, and a strange character dynamic between the four main cast mates. In the end, things work out okay for A-Channel, the great number of slice of life standbys it sticks to redeems, for the most part, the strangeness but this anime certainly does not stand among the slice of life greats.
Afro Ken (OAV) Very good 7/10/10 Oftentimes, interesting character design is all it takes to make for a decent show. Considering that this is a half hour special, essentially a commercial for the Afro Ken toy line, this OAV doesn't need any more than that. It's cute and funny with unique visuals, and even provides a look into the designer of Afro Ken and the San-X toy line. There's nothing else like it when it comes to a cheap entertaining watch.
Aiura (TV) Good 7/3/13 Each episode of Aiura packs in an infectious OP, wonderful visual style, and a decent punchline or two. The trouble is, it all comes in twelve, four-minute episodes. The series could easily warrant a full-length season of its own, but is still pleasant as is.
Akiba-chan (TV) Good 8/24/10 Akiba-chan's animation is a little bit deceiving; it looks like a cheap way to sell a doll line at first glance. However, the mix of stop-motion and CG actually looks pretty good and the character designs are pleasing. The content is pretty funny, the characters quick, and its five-minute format is suited for the slice-of-life stand-by's that are presented here.
Amagami SS (TV) Excellent 8/18/11 Featuring six romantic short stories (and two special one episode arcs) Amagami SS provides lots of variety. But it's not just the quantity that is impressive, but the quality. Each of the main girls has an arc dedicated to them and while some are clearly better than others, all of them are great. Some comedy and light, sparse ecchi moments pepper the piece rounding out the romantic aspect, and each arc really takes on a narrative style all of its own. It all comes together especially well, with the backdrop of Christmas and a large cast of likable characters securing this title in top notch territory. The only drawback may be the lack of some details during a couple of the arcs (particularly Tsukasa's arc) but Amagami, by and large, makes excellent use of the four episodes dedicated to each female protagonist. Amagami SS is a dating sim adaptation gone right, and beyond that, an excellent anime.
Animal Crossing (movie) Good 7/17/10 Perhaps familiarity with the Animal Crossing games is a prerequisite, but the Animal Crossing movie really shines. As far as the story goes, it's more or less typical younger-audience fare. However, the level of detail used to recreate the world of the games is really astounding and enhances every aspect of the movie. The pace is snappy, with plenty of humor and conflict to keep things moving smoothly.
anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (TV) Excellent 7/14/11 AnoHana presents a very real and heavy set of emotions; from start to finish, there is an onslaught on sadness, regret, nostalgia, and desire conveyed in a satisfying way. For that reason its story (decent) and its characters (probably more than decent) take a back seat in terms of importance; the show could be about anything or anyone, but by transmitting these emotions, it would retain that "fingerprint" that AnoHana has. And its a great fingerprint that makes for a pleasing viewing. This paired with likable characters and a good story, both of which give ample oportunity for dramatic moments, AnoHana is a recipe for success.
Aoki Honō (OAV) Bad 7/21/10 Even if a particular story (regardless of medium) has no particular conflicts to drive its plot, it can still maintain an audience's interest by showing something new, daring, funny, or just generally interesting. Some might consider Aoki Honoo's situations daring, but what it really boils down to is watching someone arrogant take advantage of people for about an hour. He has no particular trouble doing it, no feeling that what he is doing is wrong, nothing (physical or abstract) threatening him or challenging him to change. Aoki Honoo plays like the middle hour of a particularly uninteresting movie; no character introduction, no plot progression, nothing but fodder to make for an excessively melodramatic end that never comes because no force of change was introduced.
Aquatic Language (special) Bad 9/2/10 Even at only 9 minutes, Mizu no Kotoba is certainly a waste of time. Featuring characters that needed to leave an impression but didn't, Mizu no Kotoba focuses on snippets of badly edited, uninteresting conversation. These snippets may cause discussion among pseudo-philosophers, but in reality are just obnoxious. Instead of using all nine minutes to try and redeem these characters, the short takes some particularly unsatisfying and strange turns at the end, followed by one of the more predictable 'surprise' endings. To make matters worse, the sound is mixed very poorly throughout; while perhaps trying to set a mood, in reality it just made it difficult to hear. Conversation-based, character driven slice of life titles can be very well done but as Mizu no Kotoba proves, don't have to be.
Baccano! (TV) Masterpiece 9/4/10 Typically, taking a linear story and shuffling its chronology to make for a pseudo-mystery would not only flounder in its (probably) baseless ambition, but suggest that the story didn't have too much flare to begin with. While Baccano is probably an exception to the rule, it still leaves some hints behind that even with its top-notch execution, it's not all smooth sailing. Namely, it begins with a needless first episode, and its least thrilling story arc exists solely to tie up loose ends. However, Baccano, in every other way pulls through stupendously: many well designed characters (and their relationships with one another) are presented in a way suited for the time-jumping aspect of the show. There is plenty of action and intrigue, and besides the first episode, each is very satisfying and entertaining. The series has two solid endings (one with the series and one with the specials) that balance conclusion and open-endedness. While it maybe lacks a 'bang' (and can come across clunky at the beginning), Baccano's excellent characters, presentation, and balance of realistic and fantastic elements make a unique and stylistically impressive anime.
Bakemonogatari (TV) Decent 1/17/12 Bakemonogtari is directionless. It has its hands in some elements of comedy, action, and mainly supernatural thriller, but mostly forgoes all of those for nothing at all. The episodes are filled with endless dialogue, and not the intriguing, interesting kind of Katanagatari. Here, it's just babble. The story is split into several arcs, none of which draw on each other in an appealing way, which certainly doesn't bring any sense of progress or ultimately closure to the series. The characters are mostly unlikable, although a few do have very nice design. As far of the animation style here, SHAFT seemed to have gotten carried away, with plenty of distracting few-frame text shots. While all of the elements taken separately are mostly terrible, the sum of them fares somewhat better. Bakemonogatari, on the whole, is neither good nor exciting, but it somehow remains a passable watch.
Bartender (TV) Very good 8/13/10 If for no other reason, Bartender is worth watching for its style and standpoint; among anime, Bartender is a rare breed. It takes on a very mature and, at the risk of sounding a little pompous, sophisticated tone which, coupled with its narration style gives a very theatrical vibe. This narration style doesn't exactly break the fourth wall, because there was no fourth wall in the first place: characters from throughout the series, whether involved or not in a given scenario help the telling of the story for both characters and audience alike. It comes across as pretty strange, but without it the stories would have probably come across as much more mundane and uninteresting. Most of the scenarios boil down to essentially a history lesson on a few cocktails, but it's interesting how the cocktail's stories relate to the character's.
BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (TV) Very good 6/10 Although it sometimes gets a bit too dramatic for its own good, Beck delivers a touching, entertaining story. The music scenes (and overall theme) are presented well, giving the series a solid setting and feel. It features some English dialogue, which is always a little off (even when spoken by supposedly native speakers), serving as somewhat of a distraction. The ending seems rushed (the manga continues on farther) and the pacing of the last few episodes are way off. Still, Beck stands out among most 'slice-of-life' (using that term loosely) anime.
Black Rock Shooter (OAV) So-so 7/26/10 Black Rock Shooter was sort of like scenes from an average action show shuffled into scenes of an average drama. The result is lackluster, but no worse than either of these halves would fare on their own. The drama sections (the majority of the OAV) were a little drawn out, and could have easily been edited for conciseness. On the other side of the coin, the action sequences were decent, but without knowing who the characters were or why they were fighting made these scenes unfocused with no direction. The big draw for both sections was good character design, and just enough intrigue to keep watching. While some ties between the two halves are made at the very end of the film, they really provide more questions than answers; great for opening the door to further entries in the series, but not so great at forming a complete piece.
Bokura ga Ita (TV) Good 1/3/11 Bokura ga Ita begins with a lot of charm and an interesting, dramatic story. Unfortunately, around the halfway mark, the story scatters a little bit, and as the series time is split between these less interesting, less developed stories, the entire show suffers. By the end of the series, the show has just about stalled out, and when the ending finally comes, it is nothing spectacular. There are still plenty of funny and sweet moments, but all too often they are buried under the series' own weight.
Bunny Drop (TV) Good 3/10/12 Usagi Drop walks the line between a genuine sort of sentimentality and a safer, more artificial, "push all the right buttons" approach. In it's second half, the series walks on the wrong side of that line a few times, but remains consistently cute and enjoyable. The only problem is that by occasionally taking the easy way out, such a simple slice-of-life series loses what makes spectacular slice-of-life series more enjoyable. It's nice and cute but ultimately light fare that falls well short of its potential.
Canary (OAV) Bad 8/13/10 No matter how good a half hour OAV is, the bottom line is that it can only be so good due to simple time restraint. However, it's not too much to ask for a semblance of coherency in such a release, but apparently the Canary staff didn't get the memo. The plot and characters were beyond mentioning in detail, but they surely weren't any good. There was a little humor buried under the rubble here and there, but the distraction of not knowing what was going on completely detracted from any enjoyment that could have been derived from these scenes.
Chance Pop Session (TV) So-so 11/29/10 Chance Pop Session is pretty boring on the surface. It's story is drab with a dull palette and uninteresting characters. Many episodes are laced with strange, over-long musical numbers (both taking place in the story and "artistic" montages) which feature a select few songs repeated over and over. If there's a redeeming factor to CPS, it's its subtle and relatively well-done drama, which although both predictable and boring compared to other titles, somehow remains endearing and helps the title pass more smoothly.
Chronicles of the Going Home Club (TV) Very good 10/10/13 Kitakubu is so very clever. Each episode is bold in terms of comedy, but never cliche, and the parody aspect is finely crafted. Each episode is laugh-out-loud funny, providing fresh delivery around every turn. The whole cast is likable and fun. And while the series never takes itself seriously, it never flies off the rails either. Kitakubu is funny and smart, perfect for a light comedy.
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Masterpiece 4/10 It's pacing and episodic chapters makes this series very watchable, while still retaining an overarching plot and direction. The art and music style are excellent, but the (at first, seemingly cliche) characters make this stand out in my mind.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Masterpiece 4/10 One of the few anime movies that lives up to the series it is based on, the Cowboy Bebop Movie plays like an extended episode, and a very interesting one at that. Compelling story and unique setting make this movie a must watch.
Coyote Ragtime Show (TV) Very good 8/23/10 With excellent pacing and balance, a plot that refuses to take the 'complex-for-complexity's sake' route, and great characters, Coyote Ragtime Show delivers. It's story, which follows what boils down to three 'teams' race to a planet slated for destruction (each, naturally for their own reasons), does not strive to be wildly unique and instead opts for an intriguing plot that does not give up its secrets until the very end (yet also manages to tie up nearly every loose end in a concise and satisfying way). The characters are likable, nice to look at, and ultimately just as much drivers of the plot as the ongoing war around them. CRS keeps things simple and lets the solid facets that make it up stand for themselves; a design choice that pays off.
Crayon Shin-chan: Action Kamen vs Haigure Maô (movie) Good 9/6/10 As a traditional movie, Action Kamen vs Haigure Maou struggles to present a complete story; its plot just as silly as one might expect from an adaptation of a comedy, and as such there is way too much emphasis put on it in this film. Luckily, the 'too much' of this film dedicated to plot advancement is still only about half the movie, the rest being dedicated to fast humor and endearing characters. For each moment of this first Shin-chan movie wasted, there is another worthwhile one just around the corner.
Dance in the Vampire Bund (TV) Decent 5/10 It's a shame the after such a promising first episode, Dance in the Vampire Bund doesn't return to anything that resembles interesting until more than halfway through. While the first half drags with very little (interesting) going on, the second half really bursts with good action and character design. Unfortunately, the entire show has pacing issues so even the parts that have lots of potential seem rushed and incomplete.
Dead Leaves (OAV) Awful 7/24/10 In a word, Dead Leaves is nonsense. And while a nonsensical spirit may enhance, say, a comedy, when nonsense is the spine and lifeblood of any work, it is bound for failure. Dead Leaves in particular has nothing to mention outside of its overly crude atmosphere, outright boring action, and ridiculous character design. Even when a creator tries to use nonsense to represent some sort of "deeper meaning" (which is usually little more than self-righteous viewers reading too deeply into things) it typically falls flat on its face. And with Dead Leaves, it is obvious that "deeper meaning" was not the intention. The result is a work with zero entertainment value or redeeming factors.
(The) Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (movie) Excellent 3/16/11 As a film that runs longer than most of the arcs in "Melancholy," The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya would flounder if it had fallen back on the series' standbys. It's difficult to pinpoint what, exactly, but there is something that makes this movie incredibly different than the series it's based on; Disappearance remains intriguing from first frame to last (an impressive feat for a film bordering on three hours) and carries a captivating emotional weight. More impressively, Disappearance actually adds depth and character to Melancholy, and the Haruhi universe in general. If Disappearance has one flaw, it's that viewers who have not seen Melancholy will have little to no interest or understanding in any of the film. But for those who have seen Melancholy (even those who mayn't have liked it) Disappearance is a treat.
Double-J (TV) Decent 3/20/12 Bound by 11, 4 minute episodes, Double-J expectedly does not carry much depth. It sort of zags back and forth between an informative piece (about traditional arts) and a comedy, ensuring (beyond the short run time) that things don't get stale. Ultimately, it is pretty funny, and has a nice ED song. It would be hard to make the case that Double-J is a waste of time to anyone, regardless of taste.
Dragon Ball (TV) Very good 4/10 Dragon Ball is a great start to the venerable series, but easily the weakest of the chapters. While incredibly funny and featuring many memorable fight scenes and characters, there are some pacing issues and some episodes can get repetitive and occasionally boring. A classic case of the whole being greater than its parts because, despite issues, this show still ranks highly as it is the beginning of one of the grandest stories every told.
Dragon Ball GT (TV) Masterpiece 4/10 Once you get past the fact that Toriyama had little to do with this series, you'll find the perfect ending to a true epic. Many fans don't like GT for various reasons, but in reality it contains snappy humor, excellent character design, inspiring fight scenes and a conclusion that leaves many threads tied, and yet room for some imagination.
Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy (special) Decent 4/10 A Hero's Legacy provides a cute after-story for Dragon Ball, but not much else. The enjoyment comes more from hearing about what happens to the characters 100 years after the story, rather than what's actually going on, which makes this a watch-it-once type special.
Dragon Ball Z (TV) Excellent 4/10 Dragon Ball Z is the core of the Dragon Ball story, and what cements Dragon Ball in my mind as one of the greatest stories written. Watching time bring characters into and out of their prime, through training, battles, and lots of non-combat related memories together, watching Dragon Ball is like watching a young family and a tight-nit group of friends grow up together (with lots of added spice, naturally). I can't imagine someone watching this saga and not feeling attached and satisfied once completed.
Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku (special) Excellent April 2010 Bardock expands the story of Dragon Ball, adding another layer to the characters and events of the Saiyan and Freiza Sagas. It does so in a way that compliments the series and stands well on its own.
Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (movie 11) Good 4/10 Bio-Broly has a ridiculous plot, but everything else about it shines, especially the unconventional grouping of characters and villains of both physical and mental clout.
Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (movie 9) Very good April 2010 Easily the best Dragon Ball Z movie, this is the only one who's plot, fights, and characters mesh into something I can watch repeatedly.
Dragon Ball Z: Broly - Second Coming (movie 10) Good 4/10 Second Coming is a little more interesting than the first Broly movie, if only for the younger cast of characters. The fight scenes are better in this one, but I still can't shake that blandness from the first Broly movie.
Dragon Ball Z: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan (movie 8) Not really good April 2010 Easily the worst of the Dragon Ball Z moves, I never understood why this was the most popular. Broly is a boring character, the plot is nonsensical, and the ending is weak. It is also the longest of the DBZ movies and you feel EVERY MINUTE.
Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge (movie 5) Decent 4/10 Cooler's Revenge seemed like a scaled down version of the Freiza saga, which isn't bad, but certainly does not have the same scope or intrigue, and seems too familiar.
Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (movie 1) Decent 4/10 Deadzone, as the first Dragon Ball Z movie, really sets the tone for the following movies; there's good action, a few laughs, and not much else.
Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (movie 12) Good April 2010 Fusion Reborn functions well for it's fair share of humor, alternate locations, and plenty of fanservice paired with an especially humorous take on Adolf Hitler. Not to mention a (pretty ridiculous) cool villain and intense fighting. It's just important to put canon events aside for this one, or at least go into this one thinking of it as an alternate timeline.
Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (movie 4) Decent 4/10 There's not much to say about Lord Slug, besides that it has one of the funniest conclusions in action movie history, and besides that it is just okay.
Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! (movie 7) Very good April 2010 Super Android 13 is an example of what a good Dragon Ball movie should be: an indirect tie-in that stays focused and interesting throughout.
Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks (special) Excellent April 2010 Like Bardock, The History of Trunks acts on the level of a standalone movie and background to the series. Especially interesting is that this story is simultaneously an alternate timeline and a direct tie in to the series (due to the time travel aspect of the Dragon Ball story) greatly increasing the scope of canon materials during the Trunks and Android Sagas.
Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (movie 6) So-so 4/10 Return of Cooler is just bland, with little semblance of coherency (a shared trait with the majority of the Dragon Ball Z movies). The only redeeming qualities are good fight scenes and interesting setting.
Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (movie 3) Good 4/10 Tree of Might claims the best villain design of the Dragon Ball Z movies, and arguably the best action. A solid watch.
Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (movie 2) Good 4/10 World's Strongest retains that feel of classic action anime by being entertaining without ever taking itself too seriously. Cool character designs and somewhat unique premise make this film stand out.
Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (movie 13) Decent 4/10 Wrath of the Dragon seems like a cheaply thrown together excuse to finish off the series. Sure, it holds my interest, but it just seems to be trying too hard. The backstory was not developed well enough, but was so uninteresting that I didn't mind.
Dragon Ball: Yo! The Return of Son Goku and Friends!! (ONA) Good April 2010 Son Goku and His Friends Return is a fun animation, if only for it being a new chapter in the Dragon Ball story after many years. It lets some of the lesser characters take on the villain, while still letting the big guys do some dirty work as well.
Durarara!! (TV) Good 12/3/11 If Durarara!! had stuck with the vignette style that it begins with, it probably would have been pretty cool. The cast was certainly big enough to support an individual('s) chapter every week, and seeing how smoothly the first few episodes pass both teases and supports this idea. Had the vignettes contributed to an overarching story, so be it. But DRRR!! actually eventually falls into one story, and then another during the second half of the series, nearly dropping the single-episode type chapters entirely. These stories are entertaining, but are not fully fleshed out, and end in an unsatisfying way. The cracks really begin to show as most of the characters introduced in the second half of the story really play no role beyond their introduction. DRRR!! probably should have stuck to a single light novel, instead of trying to convey two over 24 episodes. The end result is not an entire waste, as there are still plenty of cool characters and situations. but things could have fared much better for this almost-gem.
FLCL (OAV) So-so June 2010 It's a shame that FLCL forgoes the style that frames it (in it's first and last episode), because that may have lead to a pretty interesting series. While these 'frame' episodes do fit the mold of what it seems the series goal was, they retained entertainment value; the jokes were funny, the action was good, and the characters interesting. The rest of the episodes simply fall flat in every way and seem like a way to drag the series to a six episode length without adding any decent content.
Giant Killing (TV) Decent 6/7/11 Giant Killing certainly has its rough patches; it takes a while to get off the ground, and even when it does, there are pacing issues. But Giant Killing's hook allows it to at least hang on for its 26 episode span. Giant Killing focuses on the entirety of the struggling ETU soccer team. It does not focus on one (exaggerated) star player, and it even spends time presenting the people important to the teams success off the pitch (like PR, the press, and the fans). Unfortunately, many of the conflicts in these periphery segments go completely unresolved. If Giant Killing were to go on the a second season, it would have a chance to shine. After all, all the ingredients are there; a likable, diverse cast, a fairly unique premise, and good subject matter. Only the muddiness of getting started holds this title back.
(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie) So-so 2/17/12 There's not a lot going for The Girl who Leapt Through Time, namely because it isn't interesting, and its' single important character isn't very likable. The movie fails to put any kind of urgency (or at least, effective urgency) into the basic science fiction plot. It isn't too long of an investment, but its certainly not a great way to spend an hour and a half.
Golden Boy (OAV) Decent April 2010 Golden Boy was good for a few chuckles, but not much else. From each episode, I really expected more comedy than slice of life (which it doesn't handle very well), but it is very short so it didn't waste my time completely.
Golden Time (TV) Very good 4/13/14 Golden Time is a nice romantic comedy. Its relatively unique setting and characters make the series memorable, although it mainly plays by the book. The psychological and supernatural elements of the series are played to a minimum, acting as nice enhancements without taking away from the main drama at all. At its root, Golden Time is connective emotionally, the true test of any romance series.
GUNxSWORD (TV) Very good 7/20/10 GUNxSWORD tells an excellent and complete story in 26 episodes, including a full cast of interesting characters and a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end (without gimmicky twists). Watching Van and company struggle against their adversaries, conflicting goals, and other outside sources gave GxS a complex and dynamic feel that doesn't usually sacrifice itself for a 'happy ending.' The antagonists were really special in that, on the surface, they seem to genuinely want to make the world a better place, and keeps the viewer trying to figure out how the two opposing forces will deal with each other all the way until the series satisfying ending. GxS excels at keeping things fresh and interesting with every episode, making it a great watch.
Hanasaku Iroha - Blossoms for Tomorrow (TV) So-so 12/10/12 Hana-saku Iroha's two halves oppose each other. The later half is genuinely entertaining, the characters have become more likable, and the story is shifted off the virtues of work and on to the characters themselves. The first half, on the other hand, is difficult to watch. It is boring and wastes brilliant character design (especially in the case of Ohana and Minchi) on the mundane, and hard-to-do. Though the series picks up, it really misses a lot of opportunities for more standard anime fair. Despite it's appearance, this isn't really a slice-of-life, but a slow to pick up story. It's really a mixed bad, but the enjoyable ending does work to correct some of the formality and slowness of the first half.
Hataraki Man (TV) Decent 12/12/2010 Hataraki Man's loosely connected single-character-introducing vignettes are decent; each comprises an episode and feels pretty complete, expanding the world of magazine editing it presents. Putting technicalities aside though, the story of each episode ranges from mostly decent to outright boring. Eleven episodes is tough enough to work with in presenting a complete series, and this issue is compounded with the design choice of characters only appearing meaningfully in one episode apiece. There's lots of self-analysis that goes on by the characters which leads to contrived and meaningless moments of 'self-discovery' (and these unfortunately seem to be the message of the series as a whole). On a superficial level Hataraki Man is watchable most of the time, but it fails to leave any impression.
Hatsukoi Limited (TV) Very good 4/18/12 Hatsukoi Limited has a lot of fun with a big cast, school (and inter-school) romance, and a ton of love polygons. Everything is kept simple enough to be enjoyable over a short 12 episodes while still maintaining some character depth, growth, and a certain level of "interweaving story" complexity. The large majority of the cast is likable and well-designed, and carry the series very well. Covering the whole spectrum of emotions and romantic interactions, Hatsukoi Limited is pretty terrific.
Hetalia - Axis Powers (TV) Decent 9/23/10 For every funny short in Hetalia, there are about three which aren't. Even at its funniest, Hetalia rarely raises more than a chuckle, and some of the more historically informative pieces are outright boring. At only five minutes per episode, though, the series stays snappy, and its never too long before another funny piece is hit upon. Also, many of the less funny shorts retain some value, as they advance mini-story arcs, and flesh out the characters. Hetalia is much less ambitious than its premise might sound, and the historical 'spine' of the series is a little gimmicky, but it still manages to entertain enough to warrant a viewing.
High School of the Dead (TV) So-so 9/25/10 If there's one thing Highschool of the Dead proves, it's that too much ecchi fanservice and a limited episode run can make even a pretty mature take on a zombie invasion mediocre. While the series starts out (and sometimes returns to) the struggles of surviving a zombie invasion in a way that is at least dramatically satisfying, later episodes lose focus and direction. Besides an entire episode dedicated to the aforementioned echhi fanservice, there are also completely convoluted romances and a plot turn that badly introduces many characters and degrades the last few episodes into a confusing melodrama. HotD would have been better served to have dropped these extra elements to focus on presenting a complete story.
Honey and Clover (TV) Excellent 10/31/10 Honey and Clover is a little like an exquisite sandwich on stale bread; while the middle episodes (and this constitutes the majority of them) are absolutely perfect, they are hindered by a slow start-up and a scattered non-ending. At its best, H&C presents an absolutely perfect ratio of drama to romance to (tasteful) comedy. The plot, though slow, is gripping, full of likable characters, and a real and realistic progression of feelings. This is really where this show stands out; there is real emotion behind all of the characters and the relationships they are in. While the story is slow, the timeline actually moves very quickly, covering about four years in 24 episodes. Still, the writing is so spot on that this is more of an observation than a complaint. Even the 'bookends' of the first few and last few episodes have merit. The first few aren't great because they are low on story, but they still remain entertaining, and the last few just take some strange turns but by then the characters are so comfortable in the eyes of viewers that these strange events can still be warmly received. To top it all off, H&C boasts great art direction, soundtrack, and retains a cohesive feel throughout. H&C, even taking its faults into consideration is incredibly top-notch.
Honey and Clover II (TV) Masterpiece 5/6/11 Honey and Clover II picks up right where Honey and Clover left off, leaving only two things behind. That is, its excellent first season soundtrack, and a lot of the humor that ran through the first season (although it still shows up on occasion). But while the old soundtrack is sorely missed (this season's just doesn't compare) the lack of humor represents the evolution in the story and the life of the characters. H&CII is just as engaging and touching as the first season, but follows the characters' transition into adulthood, which gives it a much more serious tone. Each character is given a satisfying conclusion during this season, and the series finale in particular gives memorable closure to the entire series. H&CII effectively uses the foundation its predecessor built for it, which in this case is much more than enough.
ItaKiss (TV) Good 7/19/11 Despite being all over the road, Itazura na Kiss mostly delivers. It stays fun and light, with an occasional melodramatic, predictable situation thrown in the mix. It keeps things tense, if only at a surface level. Ita Na Kiss is not a typical romance; many times romance takes a back seat to other life-events. These situations can't be classified as "slice of life" (because of the aforementioned melodrama) but perhaps that is more interesting. Most of the characters are interesting and likable (again, on the surface level), and keep things crisp as they trapeze through (many out of place) events that completely trancend a school romance. And although things don't sit perfectly, and the quality is not always spectacular, the journey of Itazura na Kiss in fun and entertaining.
K-ON! (TV) Masterpiece April 2010 K-ON! stands as one of the best (if not the best) anime series, and from a very unassuming position. Featuring four (and later a fifth) members of an all-girls' high school light music club, K-ON! never ceases to be entertaining, smart, and funny (and also occasionally touching, as well). While the club's activities are rarely more exciting than having tea and pastries in the club room, the show never comes close to boring. The main cast, including the band and a few other friends, really shines, carrying the show without many supporting characters, making the time spent in these episodes all the more focused. The voice-work is excellent as well; all the girls are more than capable of singing (even though only two do in the series, they all do in the official soundtracks) and the line delivery is spot on. K-ON! is the embodiment of how excellent a bright modern seinen series can be.
K-ON! (movie) Masterpiece 11/27/12 Eiga K-On! was another masterpiece in the K-On series. It didn't fail to be impressive visually, excellent plot-wise, and had an excellent soundtrack. This movie shone just as brightly as the series, making for a wonderful watch.
K-ON!! (TV 2) Masterpiece 11/16/10 On every level, K-ON!! is perfect. This second season of the K-ON! franchise is longer than the first, and keeps the first season's integrity the entire time, making for an excellent and extended watching experience. The characters are just as beautiful and engrossing as the first season, their interactions just as funny and entertaining, and the added layer of drama of the girls' looming graduation only enhances an excellent formula. Each aspect of the show is truly phenomenal, and somehow the sum is even greater than its parts.
Kaede Newtown (movie) Good 12/7/10 Light and fun, Kaede Newtown is a simple, enjoyable short movie.The art is fairly unique without being gimmicky, and despite the youngish look of everything, there's a nice romance core story that ties everything together. The few characters are likable, and the short length doesn't detract from anything (in fact, had it gone on longer, things may have started to run out of steam). Newtown is a pleasant ride, and well worth the time investment.
Katanagatari (TV) Excellent 9/11/11 Katanagatari starts slow, but quickly becomes a lot of fun, and a stylistic masterpiece. The bane of the shows first few episodes is the heavy amounts of dialouge. Granted, in hindsight, these episodes are just as excellent as the rest, but without a foundation to lay these words upon, they carry little weight, and slow the episodes. The more episodes that pass, though, the more engaging the characters become. The different swordsmen and Maniwani that act as competition are designed and executed perfectly, and the art has a very loose style, freely changing between episodes and scenes, making Katanagatari one of the more visually engaging anime. The plot itself is a little thin, but the various details and individuals working as cogs in the story make it very interesting to follow. All of this leads up to one of the greatest anime conclusions, wrapping up the show with dignity and style.
Kids on the Slope (TV) Very good 9/9/12 Sakamichi no Apollon is a very nice romance. It pushes all the right buttons and uses the backgrounds of jazz and the 60's in Japan to differentiate itself from other similar series. In doing so, Apollon certainly sets a unique mood which, though it may be a little calculated from a production perspective, does invoke the right emotion to the series. There's plenty of cool musical scores, drama, and heartache to carry the series with ease. Apollon is, if not entirely refreshing, a solid romance series.
Kimi ni Todoke - From Me to You (TV) Excellent 10/5/10 At every turn, Kimi ni Todoke opts for the well executed rather than the flashy and the result is low key excellence. Perfect story direction turns its simple love-story premise into a work of beauty and emotional weight, and perfect art direction blends a detailed 'dramatic' art style with a rounder cuter one, accounting for comic relief, emotional drift, and active imaginations. These styles (and funnier segments in general) are well timed, tasteful, and always act in a way to add to character development, never to detract from a given scene. These tools, carried by likable characters, fitting score, and appropriate length add up to a satisfying wonder of an anime series.
Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season (TV) Good 5/31/11 Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season takes a few big steps back from the prior season. Story-wise, it's as if everything that happened in the previous season was forgotten; all the progress the characters made was reset, giving the interactions in this second season not seem believable. The story focuses again on Sawako and Kazehaya, but there is little time devoted to developing the charming secondary characters of the first season any more than they had been already. And the only new character of any importance is ambiguous to the point of irrelevance. Even the one main struggle faced by the main couple seems convoluted and forced. And the music in this season is very weak (contrast that to the fantastic soundtrack of the first season). But while it's hard to believe this sort of sloppiness is the sequel to the magnificent first season, there are a few quality aspects to the show. The series still manages to swing from one extreme mood to another smoothly (though since the story is much weaker, these swings are less impressive). And the characters still have lots of character and charm. As its own piece, KnT2 may have fared somewhat decently, but after what is inevitably expected in it as a sequel, it is a disappointment.
Kinmoza! Kiniro + Mosaic (TV) Good 9/28/13 Kiniro Mosaic is a cute and cross-cultural spin on the standard "school life" genre. It sports nice animation and soundtrack, along with likable characters. The show's gimmick, an exchange student from England, is really not overplayed, but instead allows for interactions and situations not typically seen in this type of anime. It's nothing Earth shattering, but works to make the series feel somewhat fresh. Language Barrier is also handled well here, only subtly playing it for laughs after the first episode. Really, the whole affair is pretty sweet and cute, certainly worth 12 episodes.
Kodomo no Jikan (TV) Very good April 2010 Kodomo no Jikan was unique, and yet familiar, always pushing the envelope, but never venturing into outright vulgar territory. Through the ups and downs of the character's relationships, KoJ keeps a grip on your emotions, often changing tone in a heartbeat, while never losing a stride. One character's in particular, Kuro-chan's parts, seemed a little out of place and forced, but besides that, KoJ is a nice (and most of the time funny) story that can't help but be liked.
Kodomo no Jikan Nigakki (OAV) Good April 2010 The OAV follow up to Kodomo no Jikan ventures into some new, different territory, keeping the focus on Rin but also expanding its scope to some of the minor characters as well. Again, Kuro-chan's side story seems a little off, but that does not significantly hold back the rest of the plot, which is still as snappy, tense, funny and wrenching as ever.
Kodomo no Jikan: Anata ga Watashi ni Kureta Mono (OAV) Good April 2010 This is simply and extra episode of Kodomo no Jikan, and a pretty decent one. It doesn't add much to the series, but it still holds my interest.
Kodomo no Jikan: Kodomo no Natsu Jikan (OAV) Awful 3/17/11 Natsu Jikan begins on the same fine line that the other Kodomo no Jikan entries carefully treaded (that is, the line between a level of tastefulness and vulgarity) but runs straight and deep into vulgar territory. The plot is nonsensical, and all of the characters seem flat and possess none of what made them so intriguing to watch originally. This content mars the entirety of the series and is a stone that should have been left unturned.
Kowarekake no Orgel (OAV) Very good 11/5/10 Kowarekake no Orgel is very effective in using its time; for a half-hour piece it is complete and resonating. Though simple in nature and really not deviating much from the expected, KnO offers something moving and new through a good premise, tasteful presentation, and solid direction. KnO also avoids all of the less tolerable sci-fi tropes and instead opts to create a simple, likable, near-future world, perfect for the delivery of this specific tale. Though only thirty minutes, KnO leaves an incredibly lasting impression.
Kyo no Gononi (OAV) Very good 12/7/10 Kyou no Go no Ni is much more than it first appears to be (a short, school-life, echhi comedy). While living up to genre conventions (and it does; KnGnN is very funny), somehow, some essence and charm of elementary school is captured and presented on screen. Obviously, most situations are wildly exaggerated, but there is a realistic, nostalgic force at work that enhanced the entire experience. An excellent male lead and great supporting characters, coupled with subtle romantic undertones and a fantastic soundtrack make KnGnN about as good as an anime of this type can be.
Kyō, Koi o Hajimemasu (OAV) Good 12/11/11 Kyou, Koi wo Hajimemasu is probably made for fans of the manga series. It's clear that many details and background setup is left out. What sets this OAV apart, though, is its ability to bypass that, and still be enjoyable for someone completely unaware of the print series. Sure, the story is not shown in its entirety, but everthing that needs to be known is made clear. The end result is still a short OAV, but there are some really decent romance elements involved. It's certainly worth a watch, and holds up more than its own against similarly structured OAV series.
Lagrange - The Flower of Rin-ne (TV) So-so 7/11/12 Rinne no Lagrange is boring; the mech battles are so loosely relevant that they lack meaning, and the school life portions are shallow and bland. As the series progresses, things get a little better, as the characters become a little more endearing and the story picks up a little semblance, but still the entire effort is very airy. Rinne no Lagrange does, however sport nice animation and some decent character designs.
Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! (TV) Good 5/1/12 Papa Kiki was cute, with a small cast of likable characters. The plot is mostly on the ridiculous side, but it is played seriously and is actually pretty effective in conveying its' story in a believable way. There's probably room for a sequal, being that much of the peripheral cast is left largely unexplored, but as a 12-episode series, Papa Kiki is certainly decent.
Lovely Complex (TV) Decent 2/4/12 Lovely Complex started out really well; the premise was fine, and the mostly-comedic back and forth between the protagonists was truly funny. It's surprising, though, how thin the series wore relatively quickly. Once the romantic plot kicked in, the series started flailing a little, with the drama ultimately taking away from the comedy. This was one romcom where the two elements did not blend, but really almost detracted from one another. Sure, there's a couple moments of comic relief in tense scenes that really work effectively, but they are pretty few and far between. The characters are likable enough (or at least the leading few are) but never surpass "above average" in terms of being interesting (and the peripheral characters fall way short of that). The art is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the character designs and color palette just do not sit right; there's an overall salmon/yellow/beige color dominance that is not at all pleasing to the eyes. On the other hand, most of the comedy is physical, with a character making some sort of ridiculous face, or gesture, or whatever else happening visually. A lot of the comedy is actually very funny, and it's a shame it wasn't given the spotlight a bit more. Lovely Complex was not a waste of time, but it was a waste of potential.
Lucky Star (TV) Very good 7/7/11 Lucky Star is a blast. It's a silly, fun, slice of life piece, with a somewhat unique cast of characters and no shortage of daily situations to infuse with humor. Not much of the humor is really laugh-out-loud funny, but the series is still highly enjoyable and makes for very smooth watching. The "Lucky Channel" segments at the end of the series are a mixed bag; they start off mostly aggravating but get better as the series goes on. The ending credits segments are also a mixed bag, but generally okay. Lucky Star is special in the style that holds it together; it is consistent between episodes (and episode segments) and is distinct.
Lucky Star OVA Excellent 8/15/11 The Lucky Star OVA plays like a very special episode of the main series; there are a lot of hooks that would not have quite fit in to the regular show but work well in this standalone (for instance, the main girls interacting within an MMORPG). Because these concepts are so fresh and well executed, this OVA is easily the best "episode" of Lucky Star.
Lunar Legend Tsukihime (TV) Weak 2/6/12 Shingetsutan Tsukihime is boring in every way. Its palette is drab, its music is grating (in the slow, string section sort of way), and it is populated with weak, boring characters. There is certainly a story being told of it, but most of it falls into the categories of 'unclear' or 'not interesting enough to figure out.' While there's nothing really good about this series, the only bad thing about it is how boring it is, on every level. Fans of vampire stories, or this kind of overly-serious, non-romantic drama might enjoy this, but probably no one else would find it worth their time.
Major (TV) Very good 8/24/10 Season 1- The first season of Major brings together drama and sports in an incredible way. While many of the dramatic elements are a little far-fetched, the characters are engaging enough to make the emotions behind them seem very real. Major also manages to make little-league baseball not just interesting, but thrilling. The games are edited perfectly to build suspense, making every play and call very exciting. Major strikes a perfect balance between on-the-field and off-the-field moments and the 'in between' of practice games, training, and mental preparation. Held together by the glue of likable characters, Major Season 1 cements itself as a great anime. 10/3/10 Season 2- Compared to Season 1, Major Season 2 suffers from lack of direction, tension, and likable characters (all aspects handled well by its predecessor). Season 2 is divided into two arcs, and as such loses some of the focus the first season had. The first arc is the more similar of the two to Season 1, but because the characters aren't given much individual screen time it's difficult to feel very connected to the team. The second arc is an oft-changing delve into a very confusing baseball team hierarchy. The characters' goals change from episode to episode, there are several teams and therefore many characters, making it difficult to remember who is on what team and what the goal of each team is. There's a lot of unneeded drama here that gets in the way of the games, and relatively few games are shown (and the ones that are aren't as exciting as Season 1's, they are mainly used to highlight a lead characters' personal struggles). There's still plenty to like here, and the series charm comes across during some instances, but this shake-up in formula and overcomplicated plot make Major Season 2 a serious step back from the excellent groundwork Season 1 laid for it. 11/20/10 Season 3- Major season 3 bounces right back from the missteps of season two and delivers the same kind of thrilling baseball as the first season. The featured team has lots of personality, and the drama surrounding them, though sometimes either too sparse or too over-done, is generally well placed. A few characters from prior seasons make reappearances, and thankfully all of them serve a purpose, with the nostalgic factor they bring an added bonus. Major season 3 somehow remains fresh, and returns the series to excellence. 1/7/11 Season4- As far as Goro's baseball career goes, the portion Season 4 covers is both the most scattered and least inspired. In a similar fashion as Season 2, characters filter in and out of the series with very loose and far-away goals doing a poor job of holding things together. These are quite a few episodes devoted to characters from older seasons, but none of these are particularly interesting. Regarding Goro's portion of the series (and really, it is the bulk of it) the drama is nothing great (with a horrific handling of the language barrier Goro faces when he comes to America [at first not just acknowledged but heavily referenced as an obstacle, and later completely dissolved for no stated reason; both intruding on the enjoyment of the season]) and while the baseball is nearly as good as in previous seasons, Goro does not seem nearly as intriguing, and without structure the games don't mean much. Major Season 4 wades in mediocrity in contrast to the fantastic season(s) before it. 8/18/11 Season 5- For Season 5, Major returns to both focus and excitement. It recaptures the fun and drama surrounding Goro's games of his youth, but puts a mature spin on them that didn't seem to connect in the previous season. With this season focusing on one tournament, the games were meatier and carried more of an impact. As it turns out, making Goro more interesting took only proving that baseball can also be fun without him; he doesn't pitch in a few games, and one game doesn't even feature Japan's national team but they are just as well executed as the other games. This makes Goro's tenacity all the more impressive and he shines despite being a team member rather than just the team's star. Unfortunately, and somewhat strangely, despite the larger assertion that Goro is a member of a team than any other season, his teammates are underdeveloped and lack screen time. It's not a huge issue, but by the end of the season, these characters are pretty forgettable. The off-the-field drama, such as the romantic and family subplots were about average, but they clearly weren't the main point here. When these scenes crop up, they are entertaining, but not nearly as entertaining as the games. And luckily there are plenty of those to bring prestige back to a tired series. 2/4/12 Major Season 6 is really a great baseball anime, but it leaves a little to be desired as an ending to such a fantastic series. The baseball games of this season are really interesting and tense (although probably not as tense as the games portrayed in some of the earlier seasons). Again, Goro is treated more as a member of a team than a singular ace. This season actually pits Goro against some conditions that make it really tough for him to play, and it's different and depth-inducing to see Goro face these challenges. Goro's team, the Hornets does have some character, and in certain moments certain team member's personalities shine, but ultimately Goro is the star of the show (if not always the team itself). Interestingly, Goro's previously explored home life is all but abandoned; most of the off-the-field action takes place with characters new to season 6. These episodes are sparse, and are certainly the weakest part of the series. While the final episode focuses almost entirely on tying up loose ends with Goro's friends and family back home it was disappointing to see so few familiar faces in the limelight (even Gibson and Junior, though playing in America mostly take the backseat). But all in all, whether taken as an anime to itself, a conclusion to a long-running baseball series, or just a section of the overarching Major story, season 6 is very good, and adds to a truely wonderfull series.
Major: Yūjō no Winning Shot (movie) Good 3/21/12 The Major movie is decent, but a little concise for all of the moving parts it contains. There's drama on and off the diamond, and some typical action revolving around an injured player. None of it is quite as thrilling as Goro's television escapades, mainly because there's only one featured baseball game at the very end of the film. Still, this movie fills in some blanks from the Major series, and could definitely have turned out worse.
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV 2009 renewal) Not really good 7/14/10 The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumia tries very hard to present an 'ordinary high school meets fantasy' setting, but succumbs to some of the worst obstacles possible. The premise (Haruhi being subconsciously able to control things around her), while somewhat unique, really just gives the creators license to push any type of event in a given episode whether it fits or not. The nonsensical plot elements are further crippled by the three 'supernatural' members of the cast (besides Haruhi) who only seem to be able to use their powers when it is time to close a story arc. These story arcs stretch on and on, until they are finally solved in the final few minutes of the arc, and the solutions rarely have anything to do with anything that happened in the previous episodes. In fact, eight episodes are dedicated to the exact same events, created by a 'time loop' with little changing between episodes besides the characters clothing. The conclusion? It simply ends; one of the loops changes at the end, and a new arc begins. The cast is completely unlikable, ranging from obnoxious (Haruhi), to a whiner (Kyon), to 'silent until the story needs me' (everyone else). It doesn't matter what order the episodes are watched in or what episodes are omitted; even at its very best, Haruhi is only good for an occasional smile, and more often it is just grating.
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya (ONA) So-so 7/18/10 Haruhi-chan fares much better than its main counterpart, giving (most of) the characters some personality and limiting 'story' events to only a few minutes. While these short episodes feel like a more appropriate length than the main series (partly due to their sillier nature, partly because the main series often hangs around the same issues for too long) these still often drag and are sometimes a chore to watch. There were a few funny moments, but they were surrounded by a majority of 'unfunny, trying-too-hard' moments.
Minami-ke (TV) Decent June 2010 Judging by its character designs, Minami-ke should have been a cute anime filled with humor. Unfortunately, the three sisters that make up the main cast simply don't come together in an enhancing way. Chiaki in particular, whose no-nonsense, superior attitude becomes too predictable a few minutes in, really detracts from the experience. There is a very large supporting cast, which is a mixed bag, although all of them have a 'one note' sort of feel. Still, Minami-ke does occasionally come through for laughs, and the further into the series I got, the more it grew on me. It's flaws did not make the series bad, per-se, but instead made it feel like a lot of potential was wasted.
Minami-ke Tadaima (TV) Good 9/16/13 While Tadaima dips into all the old Minami-ke standards for yet a fourth time, it somehow manages to avoid the staleness that plagued the earlier series. It's no secret why; the cast is expansive and balanced, getting fair screen time, the mini-plots are a little more surreal and allow some extra room for humor, and the whole affair is kept lighter and more direct-comedy-centric. Tadaima stands firmly above the other seasons and feels like it achieves what the others couldn't.
Minami-ke: Betsubara (OAV) So-so 7/12/10 The Betsubara OAV is an episode about on par with the rest of Minami-ke's third season, and as such, suffers from similar problems. Namely, recycled plots and dragging tempo. These shorts feel like they were cut from the main series, and should have probably been left on the cutting room floor.
Minami-ke: Okaeri (TV) Decent 7/12/10 The third season of Minami-ke returns to its original studio and also returns to all the typical standbys of the first season. While not bad, most of the jokes fall flat, and the series really runs out of steam as it goes on, often treading in already-covered water. Welcome is the return of the other Minami family this season, but unwelcome is the washing over most of the secondary characters received; while once the spice of the show, these characters come across as bland here. Still, the Minami family retains some charm, and ultimately makes the show worth watching and looking past some faults.
Minami-ke: Okawari (TV) Good June 2010 A second season of Minami-ke, Okawari takes some strange turns from the first season. The most noticeable change is the art direction; Okawari is animated by a different studio than the first season, a fact that remains evident throughout. The art style conflicts completely with the themes of the show, and minor characters (even some with speaking roles) are depicted as silhouettes. The cast is shaken up a bit, with several characters not appearing, and a few new ones making their debut. The content is pretty much on par with the first season, but certainly more interesting, with the characters becoming a little more likable.
Mitsudomoe (TV) Weak 10/28/10 Mitsudomoe is based upon an incredibly weak structure; an initial misunderstanding turns into a bigger misunderstanding, and keeps snowballing into a huge misunderstanding. It's the kind of thing, barring some incredible cleverness or creativity, that is apt to become obvious and repetitive. Unfortunately, Mitsudomoe does not possess the cleverness or creativity to avoid this pitfall, and actually compounds the issue by featuring several shorts in a given episode. The icing on the cake is in the nuance, though; any hope for redeeming qualities is crushed by a horribly unlikable cast with no sense of cohesion, distractingly-bad character design, and a too-over-the-top presentation. Occasionally, and on very rare occasion at that, Mitsudomoe delivers a humorous line or two, but none are truly funny, and these small bursts of humor seem more like an accident than good comedy.
Moshidora (TV) Decent 1/13/12 Moshidora clearly states where it is going at the beginning of every episode: a girl packs up a book on management and leads a team to Koushien. Unfortunately, that is exactly what this series is about. In truth, it is not all that unfortunate, but ultimately, watching the clever ways Minami adapts the business-oriented book's advice to suit a baseball team is much, much less interesting than watching an intense baseball game. Things pick up a little bit towards the ending; there's some more baseball, some inter-character drama, and a couple powerful moments in the last few episodes. Moshidora isn't bad, but it is weak as a baseball anime, and a little too short (both in series length and list of truly enjoyable elements) to stand toe-to-toe with other sports or slice-of-life anime.
My Little Monster (TV) Not really good 5/1/13 Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is a really scattered series; the set up is nice enough (interesting characters, not quite contrite premise), but after the first episode, any semblance of continuity is wiped clean. The show really doesn't progress; the characters' moods towards one another in any given episode (or even moment) is seemingly based on nothing. This, combined with its bizarre pacing create a show which is thoroughly a mediocre romance, yet packed into the structural conventions of a rambunctious comedy. The product of this mish-mash is not unwatchable, but entirely underwhelming (although, if there is a redeeming quality here, the OP is excellent).
Nanatsuiro Drops (TV) Not really good Nanatsuiro Drops falls into the category of "trying to do two things at once at the expense of one another." Half magical girl series and half school romance, there's a sharp divide between the two halves. Undoubtedly, the romance is better; the magical girl elements are beyond half-baked, and carry no semblance of coherency. Like the magical girl portion, the romance section is boring, but at least makes some sense. things actually do pick up a little at the end of the series, but the long road is not worth the wait for a comparatively meager payoff. Cute, a little, but also drab is Nanatsuiro Drops.
Neighborhood Story (TV) Masterpiece 10/17/11 Gokinjo Monogatari balances romance, comedy, and drama in a very effective way. The reason is centered at its core: the large main cast interacts in a complex way that comes across as very real and makes the characters incredibly likable. While the show is not necessarily slice of life, the slice of life nuance of the character interaction enhances the other aspects of the show beyond any other. Coupled with excellent art design, a unique story and an interesting cast, Gokinjo Monogatari is a shining and beautiful gem.
Neighborhood Story (movie) Very good 8/23/11 The Gokinjo Monogatari movie is less of a movie and more of a brief half-series recap, and retelling of said half's climax. Since it's basically a recap, much of the detail and finesse found in the first half of the actual series is gone. However, the anime portion it is based on is extraordinary; simply borrowing its characters and premise is enough to make a rousing piece, but it comes nowhere close to the series original presentation.
Nichijou - My Ordinary Life (TV) Very good 12/27/11 Nichijou is a lot of fun. With two (and later a third, less important) comedy cores, the jokes and humorous situations have an ample cast to correctly convey themselves. These cores are mad of three characters a piece, with distinct personalities. The series does not paint them into a corner however; the straight-man can easily be off the wall in the next bit, but it all comes across very naturally and keeps things from getting stale. There's a large cast of secondary characters who are all pretty well developed, and all contribute to the humor in some way or another during the course of the series. If there's a detriment to the show, it's that a few of the sketches can go on for a little too long, but these are actually few and far between, and the rest strike a nice, fresh balance of running jokes, continuing "stories," new matierial, and non-sequiters. For what is essentially a random-type comedy series, Nichijou stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Non Non Biyori (TV) Good 12/26/13 Non Non Biyori is a pleasant slice-of-life series. Its twist- taking place in an extremely rural setting, is played quite well- it allows for some deviations from the norm, but since these series rarely focus on more than five or so characters anyway, nothing seems too out of place. Another twist on the formula is the difference in age between the main characters. It's played pretty subtly but again, allows the series to look a little different from the others. The final result is nothing spectacular, but it is a funny and charming slice-of-life.
Nyoron! Churuya-san (ONA) So-so 7/16/10 Nyorōn Churuya-san did feature the most interesting character from Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Tsuruya, however a much more toned down version of her. While some of the scenarios were mildly funny, most of it fell flat, and the mini-series felt repetitive despite its short length.
Ōkami-san & Her Seven Companions (TV) Good 9/18/10 While its premise isn't exactly awe-inspiring, Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi's worth is delivered through nuance. With a host of likable characters, bright colorful palette, and mostly episodic episodes, its easy to overlook some of Ookami-san's faults; namely the hindering overarching plot (that really goes nowhere), some uncomfortable ecchi moments, and a distracting narrator that talks through character dialogue (and, admittedly, this brings some character to the series and the narrator herself). Ookami-san really comes across, though, as the type of anime that could continue without a main overarching plot for a long time, simply following the business of Otogi Bank, much like most of the episodes did. This would have given the show more longevity, and, by not being bound by the constraints of one plot, been able to pursue many story arcs. As it is now, Ookami-san is a fun and detailed series that will most likely be forgotten in the anime world, much short of its potential.
One Outs (TV) Very good 3/7/12 One Outs is a really clever baseball anime. It probably doesn't have the greatest baseball action out there, but it completely deconstructs the rules of baseball and the tenancies of the players. There are some high-stakes game and psychological elements thrown in as well, leeping things tense and fresh. The only flaw with this series is its final arc, which really takes some of the emphasis off baseball. Still, the overwhelming majority of the show is focused and well-executed.
Otaku no Video (OAV) Not really good 8/27/10 Otaku no Video isn't really clear with its standpoint on the only subject matter it covers: 'otaku.' Is it praising the work ethic and creativity of the otaku? The cartoon sections do feature some very successful otaku. But then why was such tragic music playing during the 'Portrait of Otaku' segments? And, on the topic of these 'Portrait of Otaku' segments, live action footage of 'real life' otaku, are they real interviews? It's never made clear, but these subjects were clearly being presented as tragic, completely clashing with the animated segments of the film. Dispersed throughout were (again not verified) statistics based on tiny subject groups and 'news headlines.' While all of these stories went unrecognized, I assumed they were real until 'news' from as far as 2035 was presented. Otaku no Video stands in a very strange place as a hybrid anime and (doc?/mock?)umentary and really seems more like a source of fanservice than learning material.
Pale Cocoon (OAV) Bad 8/28/10 Pale Cocoon had one episode's worth of canvas to work with, and unfortunately (but very predictably), like many other pieces of science fiction, preaches about pollution. As if this one sci-fi pitfall wasn't enough, Pale Cocoon fluffs things up with nonsense without even trying to disguise it in philosophy. While many watchers will certainly say that there is some deep meaning behind the nonsense dialogue (or the misplaced 'music video,' or the bizarre things that happen at the ending, etc), to put it simply, they would be wrong. If there's one redeeming factor here, it is the visual production value. Or at least it would be if the design of the characters or the 'dystopian' world made any sort of effort. There's some design decisions that are equally nonsensical to the plot (floating green... dust?) and makes any effort to take this world seriously very difficult. Pale Cocoon is obviously designed to be thought provoking, and probably works among those haughty enough to purposely seek out "abstract" anime. For anyone grounded in reality, it comes across as almost-pretty absurdity.
Penguindrum (TV) Excellent 3/5/12 Mawaru Penguindrum is actually very special and good. It features a large interesting cast, bright color palette, tasteful fantasy non-sequiturs, the right amount of mystery and symbolism, and a vast plot. Penguindrum has it own style, which it stays true to in both times of heavy drama and comic relief. That drama and comedy play off each other exceptionally, working not to jerk one moment in the opposite direction of the last, but to work in tandem, moving the series in emotional directions that have a genuine impact on the audience's perception of the plot. The series also sports good direction; the camera-work, pacing, and manner of revealing plot details are all spot on. Penguindrumnever steps out of bounds and never wears out it's welcome, making for an excellent series.
Perfect Blue (movie) Very good May 2010 Perfect Blue would have benefited from another hour of playtime, but even as it is (a little condensed), it stands as an exciting, attention-grabbing movie unlike most others.
Polar Bear's Café (TV) Excellent 9/22/13 Shirokuma Cafe is all sorts of pleasant. The series main strengths lie mainly in its serene atmosphere and subtly whimsical concept of a world where animals are people, but also retain their animal traits. The charm of neither of these strengths wears off after a hefty 50 episode span. The series is endearing and funny from beginning to end, skipping out on over-the-top gags (for the most part) for a softer, character-driven humor. The conversations the very likable cast have pit the viewer in the center of a wonderful group of friends, who journey through a year of holidays, festivals, and everyday life. Shirokuma Cafe is unique and wonderful.
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (movie) So-so 10/30/10 In an immediate sense, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is entertaining; putting aside the too-many out of place action scenes, the visual style is nice and there aren't many dull moments. But it's not that Layton doesn't deliver something that's interesting which makes it unremarkable; instead, it's a constantly devolving plot that starts out promising but sputters out a third of the way through. Layton's story starts out interestingly with plenty of charm. A tense and captivating mystery is put into place that looks to be completely satisfying. However, as the ball begins rolling and the adventure actually begins, the whimsy that carried the set-up turns into nonsense, and the plot is spread thinly over many flat and, not just underdeveloped, but nearly-unintroduced characters. By the end of the film, there is so little coherency that it doesn't matter what the solution to the mystery is because nothing makes sense any longer.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV) Masterpiece 6/14/11 Madoka is a concise, self-restrained delivery of style. From the character designs to the battle scenes to the overall premise, the show is virtually stylistically perfect. Each of the magical girls have their own vibe and fighting style, keeping the action brisk and interesting, and their "normal girl" counterparts are very likable, with strong character foundations and backstory. The plot is engrossing and emotionally engaging, and when things start to come together towards the end of the series, it is clear that much thought was given to its conclusion. The series art also deserves some recognition; SHAFT's signature style fits this series perfectly, with witches and their barriers giving off an appropriate level of creepiness. There is also a huge amount of detail given to not just the art but the witches backstories and a cypher language, making Madoka a series to be enjoyed both while watching and afterwards, solving some of the more elusive "puzzles." From start to finish, Madoka delivers a monumental and whole masterpiece.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1: Beginnings Very good
Rizelmine (TV) Good 4/28/11 Rizelmine is lots of fun. That's not to say it's great, or even consistently entertaining (the first few episodes in particular are pretty slow). But by the end of the series, the character roster has grown large enough and likable enough to make every episode smooth. Rizelmine's humor is certainly present most of the time, and the romantic co-plot blossoms through the series to a satisfying conclusion. There's a lot going on behind the silliness, and while it may be gilded, still manages to glitter like gold now and again.
Robotics;Notes (TV) Good 6/23/13 Robotics;Notes has some pacing issues. Twenty-two episodes seems a few short to fully develop the story, and the first half (or non-plot) meanders for a few episodes too long (with a definitive filler episode as the proverbial cherry on top). However, the cast is largely likable, and there is always a sense of a deeper plot lurking under the surface. However, like much of the in-series antics, much of the plot could be described as "Augmented Reality." All the elements for something great are there, but they never really come together. There's plenty of strings left untied at the end of the series, and lots of missed potential. And that missed potential is what characterizes the show; perfectly enjoyable but quite off target.
Rozen Maiden (TV) Weak 8/4/10 Lots of modern media tries to be unique by blending different genres together. Even when effective, it's a pretty gimmicky approach, and that's when the genres actually blend. Herein lies Rozen Maiden's problem; it tries to do many things at once at the sacrifice of cohesion. The European styled dolls clash with the dull, uninspired suburban backgrounds, and the art execution is poor. The plot, and a pretty serious one, only progresses during about half the episodes. The rest are dedicated to something that loosely resembles humor. Really, neither the plot or the non-plot is effective or entertaining. The characters are grating and predictable, and every situation really drags. While it's difficult to say whether a more focused approach would have redeemed this series completely, it certainly would have made a better watch.
Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei (TV) Decent 11/29/10 Like a poor, trying-too-hard amateur art project, SZS is a lot of flash with very little substance. Incredibly unlikable characters trapeze through distractingly obnoxious art direction to present a piece so steeped in obscure Japanese culture, that surely most, no matter their position on the globe, should feel left out. There's no need for most of the gags, dialogue, and indecipherable messages that flash across the screen, which take away from the sometimes funny antics of SZS' core cast. Still, SZS has surface appeal, if only due to its high energy, constantly changing nature, and decently designed characters (who are only so horrible for their poor character traits).
Servant × Service (TV) 10/6/13 SxS never really gets anywhere. The premise might work for a slice of life series, but this romantic comedy never quite does anything. The entire cast is pretty unlikable and most of the jokes fall totally flat. The romantic elements are skewed by their relative scarcity (for a series that revolves around a budding romantic relationship) and strange character interactions. Besides being flat, the comedy feels stale, and gets awfully repetitive. SxS is 13 episodes of nothing, besides perhaps a decent opening and ending sequence.
Shining Tears X Wind (TV) So-so 10/19/10 Shining Tears X Wind is, at its best, decidedly mediocre, and at its worst, awful. Luckily, the awful part of STXW is limited to the first episode or so. While the groundwork laid is so bad, it doesn't matter in regards to the rest of the series; the plot is so convoluted and confusing that anything happening in previous episodes is all but lost in regards of solid continuity (although there is, theoretically, an overarching story). Still, STXW is interesting enough to watch as it is happening, as long as not too much is expected from it; characters are plentiful and there's no shortage of new situations, so boring plot threads or characters never stick around for too long.
Sora no Manimani (TV) Good 11/5/10 Sora no Manimani is decent, and just that, in all respects. In terms of story, SnM is not unique in that it's a school comedy, but its subject matter, astronomy, is pretty new. Unfortunately, astronomy itself does not make for spectacular viewing; I can't imagine that seeing animated constellations hearing their names would hold much interest for anyone without quite a bit of astronomy knowledge beforehand, and there is not much accompanying history to go with them to keep things accessible. While underwhelming in that regard, the featured Astronomy Club does get to go to some generally unexplored (in the realm of media) places. There are a few romantic plot lines, and lots of "chuckle-type" comedy. None of it gets old during its short run, and while the characters sometimes teeter on the line between "likable" and "aggravating" they fall on the "likable" side the large majority of the time. Nearly every new story element is immediately transparent, and are followed by predictable conflict and resolution, or no real resolution at all. Still, while SnM is not big on surprises, it is pretty big on fun, and its short length makes sure it doesn't wear out its welcome.
Sound of the Sky (TV) Weak 6/29/12 Sora no Woto looks like it's going to be cute, but it simply isn't. In fact, it is outright boring and oftentimes nonsensical in terms of plot. This wouldn't be so much of an issue if the majority of the show wasn't spent divided between forcing this plot and contrived moments ment to bring out a certain emotion but just seem, again, forced and not genuine. Interesting moments are few and far between and the relatively brief 12 episode series seems like a drag and waste of time, unfortunate for the cute character (designs) that got mixed up in this series.
Squid Girl (TV) Very good 11/6/11 Ika Musume is so fun! Sure, it's a little on the ridiculous side with anything squid related, but the entire thing is really cute and funny. The characters are pretty likable for the most part, and the situations they find themselves in are always good for a laugh. The short segments lend themselves to the type of comedy that is present. Character design is a little plain for all of the characters but Ika Musume herself, but there's still plenty of decent sight-gags and art shifts for a laugh. The segment with Ika Musume and her umbrella, in particular stands out gemly, and the rest of the show glitters almost as well.
Steins;Gate (TV) Very good 10/26/11 Steins;Gate takes a very typical sci-fi theme (time travel) and stands it on its head. Sure, it follows many of the typical tropes in this category, but it also sports some of the most likable characters the sci-fi genre has seen. Steins;Gate balances its sci-fi elements with great character interaction, a thrilling sense of urgency, and even some of the most tastefully placed romance. There is very little not to like about Steins;Gate. The first few episodes (which are slow paced) and the typical confusion left behind from a series involving time travel are easily forgiven in light of all it brings to the table.
Strawberry Marshmallow (TV) Very good 7/31/10 Ichigo Mashimaro is just as sweet as its namesakes and humorous to boot. The series masterfully wraps slice of life situations (from all four seasons) around a subtle and well-timed comedy core. Because each episode digs a little deeper into the calendar year, there is plenty of variety, with just enough 'events' (Holidays, beach trips, etc) to keep things interesting without becoming too exciting. One shortfall is the characters' wildly uneven amount of camera time, but the two characters most often ignored are the quietest, and perhaps something that would happen in a real life group of friends. Overall, however Ichigo Mashimaro is a slow-paced gem.
Strawberry Marshmallow (OAV) Good 8/4/10 For its OAV, Strawberry Marshmallow goes down the 'extra episodes' route as opposed to 'special episodes.' It's probably a good decision considering these OAV's could have easily fit into the main series, and this show is really not about shaking things up too much. That being said, compared to the twelve episodes of the TV run, these episodes are a little boring. A new soundtrack is also introduced which is ultimately less pleasing than the original. All the charm of the series is here, just a little watered down.
Strawberry Marshmallow Encore (OAV) Good 8/9/10 Encore takes a few steps away from its predecessor; the art is 'rounder,' the music is a little trying and the plot takes the characters in some unsatisfying directions. The humor is still clear but the years between the production of the main series and this two-episode OAV seem to have taken the simplicity factor that made the original so great away. Even addressing these flaws, Encore lacks something else as well; that general charm which made the twelve episode series worth sticking around through. While Encore has trouble standing up to the expectations set by the series, it still ultimately remains a cute, funny, and (most importantly) worthwhile watch.
Strike Witches (OAV) Decent June 2010 While really nothing more than a promotional video, it was pretty unique and got my interest piqued into the series.
Summer Wars (movie) Very good 8/19/11 Summer Wars is a decent film on two levels. The first is the world of Oz, the virtual replica of the real world. It wows with impressive visuals and is actually really cool. The other portion is a family drama, with a large family with old roots gathering for the 90th birthday of their matriarch. Like many big budget movies aiming for a large demographic, there's plenty to like; these two narrative halves work together well, and make for some good comedy, drama, and suspense, which all make way for a satisfying ending. There are some issues along the way: the intricacies of the family cannot even try to make themselves evident during its two hour runtime, things can get a little predictable and trite, and sometimes it feels like things run along a bit too quickly. Still, there's very little not to like. This piece is well crafted and would likely appeal to any fan of anime or film.
Super Seisyun Brothers (TV) Good 12/22/13 Super Seisyun Brothers has really fantastic artwork. The color palette and character design are pretty unique, and the result is gorgeous. As a 5-minute-episode series. Seisyun does a nice job of not lacking substance- each episode actually feels like an episode. There's nothing earth shattering here story-wise, but it goes by pleasantly enough. SSB is a great example of how a short-episode series should go.
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes (TV) Very good 2/11/12 Milky Holmes has a really bright color palette and cute character design. The aesthetics of the show alone are enough to warrant a watching. As far as the content, things are kept pretty light. There's a little detective work, and an overarching plot which, although it may seem serious, is packed with humorous and comical situations. There's a lot of actual funniness (much of which seems a little too mature for the overall tone of the show) and the entire package is very pleasant.
Time of Eve (ONA) Good 7/22/10 Unfortunately, Eve no Jikan, a show which could have really been great, falls into two fatal traps. The first is obvious just from its description (and the show doesn't do anything differently in this regard than one would expect); the entire series is preaching a pro-tolerance attitude using androids as very obvious stand-ins for race, gender, etc. The second trap is a (seemingly intentional) interruption of moods with one another. It's fine if a series/episode/situation gives off different moods, but the conflicting way they interact here feels clunky, forced, and really kills the sentiment of a few scenes. However, Eve no Jikan does in many ways redeem itself. There is plenty of room for drama and laughs, and a cast of interesting characters interacting in a unique environment for what is essentially a slice-of-life piece. Even if the very political messages took a back-seat, it would still have been interesting to see how humans and androids interact when they don't know the status of one another, so it's too bad this route wasn't taken.
Toradora! (TV) Very good 1/2/13 Toradora! just really works. All the characters are pretty great and, it's strange but, it seems like it really walks right along he lines of ordinary. There's nothing spectacular to point out about it but the completed product is excellent. The main couple is dynamic and interesting, the side characters are dynamic and interesting, the plot is dynamic and interesting, all while not being too flashy or too gimmicky or too complicated. Toradora doesn't quite reach the emotional depths of some of the best romance anime, but it can certainly hold its own.
Wagnaria!! (TV) Not really good 9/2/11 Working!! can't decide whether it wants to be slice-of-life or romantic comedy; instead it takes a middle-of-the-road approach that offers the worst of both worlds. The first episode shows promise; it is genuinely funny and explores the types of situations one might expect in a light restaurant-based series like this. But things take a swift turn for the worse as the interactions between the flat unlikable characters take precedence over the situations they find themselves in on the job. There's nothing expressly wrong with the characters, but they don't lend themselves to an overarching story, and that's what Working!! tries to put in place. The setting becomes worse than a backdrop; it would be no great tragedy if the aspects of the diner took a backseat, but forcing most of the interactions to take place inside this one building, a building which is stripped of any real purpose, makes the series even more repetitive. To make matters worse, when the story kicks in, focus is shifted completely from the more interesting characters to two of the most boring and predictable in the cast. Sure there are a few laughs, but they are not worth wading through the rest for.
Waiting in the Summer (TV) Good 7/29/12 Ano Natsu was good if not a little forced. It wasn't formulaic or contrived, but it's genre combining and cast of characters almost feels like it. The romance elements were nice and the story was enjoyable, but the series isn't the most memorable, and something about it seems artificial.
Wake Up, Girls! (TV) Good 4/13/14 Wake, Up Girls! starts out great- watching WUG come together, along with the girls' personalities fleshed out is exciting and fresh. Unfortunately, about halfway through, the series settles in a little too comfortably. Whatever tension and intrigue marked the first few episodes (and movie) mostly dissolves. The rest of the series is not bad, just a little flat and meandering. The animation is hit and miss- while the character design is nice, and many of the settings are convincing, the animation itself seems cheap. Ultimately, the story is nothing worth writing home about, and end a little abruptly. WUG is solid, but not quite as outstanding as it set itself up for.
Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie Very good 1/11/14 This movie, essentially a double-first episode to the series Wake Up, Girls, should not be judged on its own, but will rather have to be judged on the merits of its series counterpart. That being said, every anime series would appreciate a double-first-episode of this quality. WUG provides a great opening to this series and certainly sets up a high level of anticipation for the rest of the show.
Welcome to the NHK (TV) Excellent May 2010 NHK is a beautiful example of how a show can really play with your emotions, and grow one attached to its' characters even after only a few episodes. NHK is, at times, a spot-on satire of various counter-cultures, and the rest of the time is the tragedy associated with these lifestyles, poor self-esteem, and tumultuous relationships. Coupled with a perfect soundtrack and intriguing content, NHK really stands out as unique.
White Album (TV) Not really good 11/12/11 White Album must be one of the most confusing anime ever. It seems like there was intended to be an actual story, but really none of it makes sense. The editing and 'camerawork' suggest there's some kind of meaning to many scenes, when really none is made clear, even at the very end. The characters, likewise, cannot be figured out without a healthy dose of imagination; their actions and dialouge do not make sense on their own or within the context of the 'story.' Superficially, the series gets better as it wears on, but this may just stem from familiarity and a desensitization toward the nonsense that occurs.
White Album 2 (TV) Good 1/7/14 White Album 2 is so unlike its predecessor that it can not be called a sequel. Besides taking place in the same universe, there is nothing "2" about this series. Its drama is solid, which is good because that is all WA2 really has to stand on- there's no comedy, a small cast of characters, and a setting that has been explored time and time (and time) again. That's nothing against the series, but actually a testament to how solid the drama is played out. The third quarter of the series loses a little focus, as some events are retold from a different perspective, but by the time the ending comes along it still hits like a train. WA2 is not the kind of series that will probably be remembered down the road, but it certainly merits its existence.
Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life (TV) Decent 9/28/13 Wooser has wonderful animation. Really, its style, color palette, and design are among the best ever produced. As far as the actual content, Wooser is okay for a few laughs. It's typical 3-minute fare, with plenty of parody and nonsense. The humor, and Wooser himself is too crude, period, especially for an anime this cute. It is cute though, and with a great ED, this short series has lots of style, enough to warrant a watch.
You and Me. (TV) Good 4/15/12 Kimi to Boku shows that slice-of-life stand-bys can technically carry a show with a mostly male cast, but not necessarily that it should be done. It doesn't help that the five male leads are pretty boring, and interact in a completely unnatural way. Watching typical school-life plots through these characters is not unbearable, or even bad, but certainly not natural, or as enjoyable as a series which features female characters. Luckily, Kimi to Boku breaks itself up with a traditional romance element to aide the weaker slice-of-life portion of the show. While nothing really happens in any of these threads by the end of the series, hey help it go by that much faster, and adds some female presence to a series otherwise devoid of it. In part due to its short length, KtB is ultimately not too bad.
Yowamushi Pedal (TV) Excellent
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files (TV) Not really good 8/4/11 Yu Yu Hakusho is not all bad. It has a really awesome final arc, and there are a few enjoyable moments throughout the series. Its main problem during the majority of the series, though, is that it presents too little in terms of characters and in-universe to justify the grand scale it is trying to tackle. The main cast, which really consists of four fighters and a couple support characters, is neither vast nor varied enough to carry a long fighting shounen anime. The villians, too are either one dimensional and short lived (most of the first tournament opponents), or completely wear out their welcome (Sensui is a particularly blatant example of this). Without a deep backstory or some solid set of rules, these characters further flounder without a good foundation to support them. Sure, there are some good character designs and a few intense battle scenes, but they are too sparse and comparatively mediocre to redeem the rest of the series. Strangely, the last arc of the series, which spans just under twenty episodes, is really fantastic, remedying all of the aforementioned problems. The fighting roster completely opens up, the characters are given their overdue backstory and the action is frequent and enjoyable.This final chapter does its best to retroactively shine the rest of the series, but only acts as a reminder of how fun Yu Yu Hakusho could have been.