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Seen some Rating Comment
Ergo Proxy (TV) Very good

SO FAR: It's been an interesting series so far; although I must admit my fondness for it has dropped a bit as it had gone on. It had a strong start with the great score and the atmosphere that really reminded me of the MMO Neocron and the movie Mothman Prophecies. It can be a chore to sit through at times as it progresses very slowly and has a tendency of being quite cryptic. The characters are great though and the score has retained its quality; only the pacing seems to be a fault. I still can't get enough of the opening either as it is such an amazing song accompanied by drearily beautiful imagery.

SEEN: Episodes 1-16. (I have the whole series, I just haven't gotten around to finishing it yet.)

Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (TV) Good

SO FAR: This really feels like quite a departure from the first FMP season; which I guess is the point considering this is more or less a comedy based spin-off. It doesn't really advance the story or provide too much character development but it is certainly good for a laugh in the same way the comedy episodes of the first season were, only in this case they're all comedy episodes. I'm personally enjoying it although I can understand if others might not since it doesn't really advance the story any, nor does it have any serious action elements to it.

SEEN: Episodes 1-6.

Gungrave (TV) Good

SO FAR: I'm enjoying it, but admittedly not enough to keep my focus on it as I've only purchased two volumes so far and have opted to purchase other titles over this one. Whether or not I can even finish it now is in question due to the fact Geneon has shut down US distribution and this is one of the few series I started that I did not rush order the rest to finish. I still intend to finish the series someday if I can, so I'll leave it in "seen some" for now.

SEEN: Episodes 1-8.

Jing: King of Bandits (TV) Decent

SO FAR: Not bad for a simple series designed to be fun, but not great either. It is still interesting enough to likely bring me to watch a few more episodes when I get a chance and am in the mood for this type of series.

SEEN: Episode 1.

Kamichu! (TV) Very good

SO FAR: A rather impressive series as it is very heartfelt and generally innocent with some stellar production values. It tends to border on the ludicrous at times, but in a series of this nature that's not that unexpected. It certainly has some potential and while it's a great series I don't quite think it's lived up to all its potential yet. Sadly it may end up a casualty of the loss of Geneon as I still have not picked up the remainder of the volumes and they are getting harder to find.

SEEN: Episodes 1-4.

Madlax (TV) Very good

SO FAR: This is one confusing series thus far, but intriguing at the same time. It's not a fast paced or action packed series, but it is an interesting one and that makes up for it. The story hasn't really been put together but all the elements have certainly shown up. Until the story really comes together I can't judge it too effectively yet.

SEEN: Episodes 1-12. (Picked up the rest with the TRSI ADV sale. Will finish this soon.)

(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) Very good

SO FAR: Color me unimpressed. Considering the hype and praise this series seems to often get I figured it was a sure bet and actually did something I normally don't do and downloaded some episodes. Don't get me wrong, it's "good" to "decent", but I just don't honestly feel it's anything beyond that. I've seen far better as far as characters, stories and style goes. I intend to finish it, but not anytime soon.

SEEN: Episodes 1-8.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (TV) Decent

SO FAR: Not a bad series although it had its cliche moments and a few repetitive themes that felt a bit overdone; self-detonation anyone? The story is interesting though, even if some of the dialog and story elements are bad, and I still like the characters and look of the artwork. Unfortunately I stopped buying anime for awhile when this was being released and as a result I've fallen a bit behind and it's not the easiest title to find anymore. I still plan to order the rest eventually, but honestly it's just not high on my priorities list right now and will have to wait until I'm caught up on other series.

SEEN: Episodes 1-35.

Noein - to your other self (TV) Very good

SO FAR: Well, so far this is a pretty unique series. It's a hard story to follow at this point, the basics are easy enough to understand, but a lot of the theories the story borrows from(regarding multiple dimensions) add a unique twist to it that tends to make some aspects harder to fully understand. The fact that the nature of the two main groups from the other dimension hasn't been explained also complicates matters some, and the character that the series is named after hasn't really been introduced or explained either. The music is nicely done, sometimes it seems a little over the top, but it's much better than some of the dull or nearly non-existent music that many other titles have. The art style is different, but not in a bad way, and the animation is pretty smooth. The series also incorporates a number of CG elements, a few of which are definitely noticeable as CG, but most blend pretty seemlessly. My one major complaint about the series is the slow release rate, 3 months apart rather than the typical 2.

SEEN: Episodes 1-10.

Otogi Zoshi (TV) Good

SO FAR: A well done and interesting series with a whole lot of elements going for it. It gets a tad dull at times and I'm having a hard time caring much about the characters. The animation and art quality also leaves a bit to be desired at times and the music and voice acting is unremarkable.

SEEN: Episodes 1-5.

Samurai 7 (TV) Very good

SO FAR: I really like the story, although the reluctant savior and his dislike of the characters who I liked the most got to be a bit irritating. The villains up to this point have been incredibly stupid and annoying and have really failed at giving this anime much of a good/evil feel since the evil side has been nothing but incompetent twits thus far. The artwork and animation though is quite good so far, although from what I hear there's a temporary quality reduction in the next volume during episode 7. I haven't picked it up myself yet and the friend I have that is hasn't bought much recently. The limited editions don't seem worth the money to me and would only make this series quite expensive in the end if you picked up the limited edition for every single release.

SEEN: Episodes 1-4.

Solty Rei (TV)

SO FAR:I picked up this series because I'd been watching far too many deep and/or dark series and wanted something that was just fun to watch. I heard this series was pretty much your typical anime with some action, girls and comedy mixed in so I decided to give it a shot to fill that void. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to have its own layer of dark elements and story depth to it. Don't get me wrong, this is no "Haibane Renmei" or "Mushi-Shi", but there's still quite a bit of drama, dark aspects and depth to it. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest.

SEEN: Episodes 1-14.

Trigun (TV) Good

SO FAR: Not a bad series, but I have to say so far I don't like Vash all that much. His antics and behavior get a little old and his character gets a little irritating which is never a good thing for a lead. The setting is interesting and the animation is pretty good and I do like most of the rest of the cast. Having a lead that gets annoying though is always a major problem no matter how good the rest of the cast is though.

SEEN: Episodes 1-7.

Seen all Rating Comment
5 Centimeters Per Second (movie) Excellent

STORY: Come on Shinkai, surely the world isn't the unfair and wretched place you seem to believe it is. This is a beautiful story, I won't dispute that, but after 3 great stories that involve love with some overbearing tragic element or feeling that it is unfulfilled in the end, I am beginning to wonder if Shinkai can do anything else. Voices of a Distant Star was an early effort, so the pattern wasn't quite there yet. The Place Promised in our Early Days at least presented the viewers with hope, even if that is only presented after a great loss. In this case, we just get 3 acts that are beautifully told, but sadly stick to the same depressing nature that Shinkai has now become known for. To be honest, I actually found the second act to be the saddest of them all. While the sadness might be a bit over the top, it's at least somewhat realistic in how it is presented, which is something Shinkai also has a knack for. I would have liked at least something upbeat as the depressing nature actually makes it hard to rewatch, but at least he is able to pull off this sadder style with the level of perfection you expect from Shinkai. There's also a music video used to cap off the series, and I have to say, this just didn't work for me at all. I felt it did little more than recap the events, and waste a block of time in an already short film.

CHARACTERS: The story really has only three main characters, and only two of them are of any major significance in all three parts, with the other only playing a major role in the second part, and is only barely mentioned or hinted at in the third. This was actually one of the saddest parts for me because Kanae, the lesser of the three roles, was actually my favorite characters of the three. Takaki seemed like a fairly typical boy who is a bit of a shut-in, especially as the series progresses, I didn't find him particularly likeable. Akari is a sweet girl, and Hilary did an amazing job with her voice, but I also found her a bit too typical, and her personality just didn't really do anything for me. The fact I didn't much care for those two made the depressing nature of the romance a bit more tolerable, ... until act two. The second act introduced Kanae, a young girl who had a crush on Takaki, and was a character that I really came to sympathize with, possibly because I can relate to her shy nature as I was similar in school and even today, as she was outgoing in many ways except for in the social world. Her character was more interesting and more unique than the other two, and her intelligence and thoughtful nature really made her much more interesting. The end result of this relationship that never was ended up being the most depressing point of the series for me, especially since we get no hint as to what became of her afterwards, nor do we ever see Takaki look at her as anything more than a friend, and sometimes it seemed he hardly even saw her as that.

VIDEO: It's a Shinkai film, what more do I need to say? Shinkai really has a mastery of using amplified colors artistically; basically making the colors far more saturated than normal, but incorporating that effectively in his art style. This is especially noticeable when light is involved, in that Thomas Kinkaid kind of way, though still not to that detailed extent. The animation quality is top notch, he really does a great job in making sure the quality is high and consistent from start to finish. One of the best factors of Shinkais work is his attention to detail, which rivals that of even Miyazaki, although Miyazakis attention often focused more on characters, where as Shinkais actually focuses more on landscapes and objects.

AUDIO: The voice acting in this series is as good as one can expect, no one really disappointed in their portrayals on either the sub or the dub; although with only three main cast members, that isn't that huge an accomplishment. The music follows a style similar to that of The Place Promised in our Early Days, although it isn't quite as impressive, although that's hard since Place had such an amazing soundtrack. The music video at the end of the series was one I didn't much care for, or its place in the story. The song, while meaningful to Japanese due to its popularity, just did nothing for me, and I felt that time could have been better used with something else.

OVERALL: I wouldn't consider this on par with The Place Promised in our Early Days, but it is close, and better than Voices of a Distant Star. On a technical level, this short film easily rivals Place, or even surpasses it, on the video level. On the audio level, I would say Place still has the edge, particularly in its impressive soundtrack. The story is where I felt Place Promised really excels above this series as this sad and bittersweet romance feels a bit depressing and, unfortunately, it goes nowhere. It redeems itself in that I'm sure we can all relate to the experiences of the cast in this film, but for me, the sadness that prevails in this film just doesn't work quite as well as the hopeful feeling Place Promised provides, with the deeper sci-fi storyline that is tacked on with it helping out as well. 5cm does flow a little better, as Place Promised may well bore some audiences since it is pretty slow going, but I really enjoyed the pace of that movie so that isn't a huge factor for me. Either way, regardless of my criticisms, this is still a fantastic film, and is worth viewing for the gorgeous visuals alone. I do love Shinkais work; I just wish he'd branch out a little and maybe just try something slightly more upbeat; even just a tiny little bit more.

Akira (movie) So-so

STORY: I'm one of those few that just wasn't too impressed by the Akira story. Even for sci-fi it just felt like too much of a stretch and simply didn't keep my attention. While I don't necessarily dislike it; I certainly wasn't drawn in to it to any degree. The story didn't seem to make much sense at times and though I do generally like dubs I would recommend the sub on this one simply because the dub lacks a lot of important dialogue that certainly helps the viewer understand the story better.

CHARACTERS: Part of why the story may not have done much for me could be that I didn't find the characters likeable at all. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of character range and the main characters just didn't capture my attention. In the end I just didn't much care about what happened to them.

VIDEO: The animation is very well done for its time, no doubt about that. While I didn't much care for the overall feel of the world; that is more a matter of preference and not a strike against the video and animation quality itself. It still shows its age and some of the imagery was cliche even at that time.

AUDIO: While I had no problem with the voice actors in the english version I did find it alot more confusing dubbed than subbed; which I can only attribute to certain pieces of key dialogue missing or having been changed in the dubbed version. I definitely recommend the sub for this one as a result of how it impacts the story. The music was forgettable, probably because I can hardly remember even one piece of music from the movie that got my attention and I just watched it again less than 24 hours ago.

OVERALL: This anime just didn't keep me interested and I had to force myself to watch it through, let alone watch it again to give the sub a shot. A lot of it had to do with the fact I just never could get into any of the characters, they all seemed dull and shallow to me. Couple that with the somewhat confusing and uninteresting story and it just didn't work. While I have no doubt there are many who have very good reasons for believing this to be a classic masterpiece I must say I just didn't see it myself. I wouldn't say it's bad, but I wouldn't praise it either. My general reaction to this movie is just pretty much "meh."

(The) Animatrix (OAV) Not really good

STORY: Much like the sequels to the Matrix, I would say this volume is disappointing and hardly does anything for the Matrix story as a whole. I didn't like the art direction a good deal of the stories took, and a lot of them just failed to really tell an interesting story. Some of them did manage to have interesting stories but told them in a fashion that made it impossible for me to actually enjoy it, whether through pacing or art style or for other reasons. The one exception I found was the short called "Beyond", which I actually did enjoy, but that's really the only one in this release I enjoyed and the only reason it didn't get a completely negative rating.

CHARACTERS: Most the characters are uninteresting and get little development as you can't honestly expect too much from shorts such as these anyways. "Beyond" did develop the main character well considering how short it is, but the rest that did manage some character development had such a poor story or animation or pacing that it made me basically not care about the characters it developed anyways.

VIDEO: I really did not like a lot of the animation in this one, especially with "World Record" and "Matriculated". Some of the others had decent animation, but I didn't like the artwork and again the only one I actually liked was "Beyond". The only other one that had decent animation was "Last Flight of the Osiris", but I found a good half or more of that one to be a waste, and as shorts there's not much time to waste to begin with.

AUDIO: Most the voicework was decent, but most the soundtrack was techno, which I'm just not a fan of. I have no other real complaints about the audio portion but I don't really have any praise either.

OVERALL: Unfortunately the one gem, "Beyond", is not enough to save this release from being a pack of weak spin-offs that feel more like an animation style exhibition than any attempt to tell a story. I did really enjoy "Beyond" though, which is ironic since it is one of the least noticed shorts on the DVD. On top of the hit or miss titles on the DVD, there's also the matter of the titles being incredibly short. Despite there being 9 of them you barely get your monies worth in length.

Appleseed (OAV) Decent

STORY: The overall story for the OAV of Appleseed wasn't bad at all. A bit cliche at times, but otherwise it was enjoyable. At times it seemed to linger on a specific aspect for too long and at other times it felt like it was wandering around trying to find the right direction. In the end it managed to tell a good story though and that's the most important part.

CHARACTERS: I didn't much care for Deunan at times, but Briareos was an overall good character. The villains are far from interesting, and building up Calon was some of the more bland points in the story. Rather than making Calon seem like an evil villain or making the viewer pity his situation and possibly sympathizing with it; instead it makes him off to be a whiney angst filled man who should go out and get a prescription for some anti-depressants.

VIDEO: The animation is really rather hit or miss, even for its day. Some of the action is great, while at other times the animation seems really low quality. The character designs are done well though and remain consistent and most of the backgrounds and machinery appear well drawn.

AUDIO: The music is like a flashback to the early 80's, outdated even for a 1988 vintage and sounds almost like it could have qualified for the late 70's. The voicework is decent for an old school anime, although the dialog is pretty typical of the time, and at times is rather laughable.

OVERALL: It's not a bad OAV for a classic but it's quite aged and it really shows it. From cliches to horrid music and obvious animation shortcuts you don't see so often anymore, it just doesn't look or sound as good as modern releases. It's still a classic though and an enjoyable one. Faulty as it may be, it's always worth a rent at the very least.

Appleseed (movie) Very good

STORY: I actually enjoyed the story and feel of this movie better than the original OAV, although I know many disagree about that. Some elements of this story were a tad predictable and at times it felt like action was just thrown in for the sake of having action on the screen, and as a result it felt out of place. I'm mainly talking about the attack of the "chick bots" while Deunan and Hitomi are cruising down the road; it just felt unnecessary, although the fight itself was admittedly well done. I'm also not to sure about the ending either, my guess is the elders called off the attack themselves but I wish there was something to at least confirm that, overall it kind of made the whole final battle feel pointless.

CHARACTERS: Again I liked this aspect of the movie more than the original OAV, although the characters were a bit darker. It just seemed more consistent with their job and their surroundings. The villains were also a little better, though they didn't get much background at all this time around although in the end they weren't really the true villains anyways.

VIDEO: What can I say? The video and detail in this anime is gorgeous, some of the best CG I've seen at this point and I was really quite impressed. The way the characters were shaded sometimes made them look like they had plastic skin and feel out of place in the well rendered environments which tended to be distracting.

AUDIO: The soundtrack was impressive, although I wouldn't call it anything near a masterpiece, it still managed to convey what it needed to and got the job done well. The dub vocals didn't match the mouth movements of the characters very well, but considering how well the mouth movements were animated to match the japanese dialogue I'd say they did a pretty good job with it.

OVERALL: Sometimes you just crave a show with merely a decent plot, but a lot of action and Appleseed delivers in that regard. While the action sometimes feels over the top, the story doesn't suffer too much, although it is not the most impressive or deep storyline in the first place. For people looking for action they will get a lot of it here and they will get it done well, while those who enjoy a good story will find enough to make it enjoyable, or at least tolerable.

Armitage III: Poly-Matrix (movie) Decent

STORY: Not exactly the most original story, but it manages to keep it interesting enough to warrant watching. I'm not entirely on board with the ending, but I guess it does work. This is one of those shows where sometimes I dislike the story and sometimes I like it, pretty much on the fence.

CHARACTERS: Armitage is annoying for about the first half and Ross often comes across as subdued. Though the contrast may very well have been their intention, I'm just not entirely sure it works. There really aren't any other characters of note in the movie; most the other characters serve their purpose and are gone without even a hint of any more development on their character than is needed to flesh out their role in the story.

VIDEO: The animation quality isn't too bad, but Armitages outfit is an obvious piece of fan service and the whole dirty, grimey future thing gets tiring after you've seen it in a dozen or more anime already. The dark future can work if done creatively, but in this instance they just didn't pull it off. I wouldn't say anything in the movie is really great, but it is pretty decent for the most part.

AUDIO: I think Kiefer Sutherland is a great actor, but he sounded a little too weak in this role; if only he had done "Phone Booth" before doing "Armitage" he might have shown some of his great voice oriented performance from that movie in this title. Elizabeth Berkley actually played a decent Armitage though, which I found fairly surprising and the rest of the cast never had roles important enough to really notice their performances. The music was pretty much forgettable and didn't really contribute or take away from any scenes or the anime as a whole.

OVERALL: It's not a bad movie really and I would certainly recommend people watch it, but I wouldn't say it's a must have or anything of that nature. I enjoyed it enough to buy it but I admit there wasn't much else out at the time that interested me enough to compete with it.

Castle in the Sky (movie) Excellent

STORY: This is truly a classic and memorable story and like most Miyazaki films it's not just the animation, but the great attention to the story itself, that truly makes it a great film. The story is just well thought out and well paced and unique; all while conveying a moral message to the viewer. It's not quite as deeply serious as many of Miyazaki's other works, but that certainly doesn't work against it and may allow it to be enjoyed a bit more by a larger audience.

CHARACTERS: The characters have alot of depth and all the major players are well represented and interesting. You don't really feel that any character that you'd like to know was left out and most the characters that aren't well developed are still represented well enough for their place in the story. I thought Pazu could have used a bit more development and history but he still received enough for it to work well, just a little bit more would have helped.

VIDEO: The animation is great, even for its age, and the opening sequence, which was animated like a historical record, was very well done. The character design certainly has an older look to it but the animation is top notch and the artwork is impressive from start to finish, especially when it comes to the castle itself. The landscapes and even the caves and just about every scene in the movie could almost be captured, framed and hung on an art gallery wall. It's pretty much a visual treat from start to finish.

AUDIO: The soundtrack is great and the voice acting is quite well done. The english Pazu sounds a little old for his appearance but not significantly enough for it to have a major impact. Mark Hamill plays a great Muska and there's a number of points in the movie where his voicework begins to sound very similar to one of his other well known animated villainous roles, the Joker from "Batman: the Animated Series". Hamill's performance alone makes the dub worth watching, although Anna Paquin's role as Sheeta is impressive as well. As I mentioned earlier, James Van Der Beek sounded a little too old for Pazu but the impact is negligible and other than that he plays the role quite well. The rest of the characters are done well too, especially Dola, and I can't really think of a character off hand that had voicework I didn't like.

OVERALL: This is a very well known anime and for a good reason, it's not only beautiful and unique and well drawn but has a great story coupled with an impressive soundtrack as well. It is truly of the quality one expects from Studio Ghibli and belongs in pretty much any true anime fans library. The pacing might be a slight problem to those looking for a great action movie, but other than that it should be good enough for most.

(The) Cat Returns (movie) Excellent

STORY: I admit it, I was skeptical. I'm usually a big fan of Ghibli films but this one seemed to have a very different feel and look to it and I wasn't sure whether I would actually enjoy it. To my surprise though, I did, and actually found it had a lot of heart and a really interesting story that reminded me of "Spirited Away" in some respects. It's well paced with a great feel to it and was very well written.

CHARACTERS: The characters in this movie are great, they each have their own quirks and distinct personalities and ways of looking at things. Haru also gets a good deal of character growth throughout the movie and her personality itself is also pretty unique for an anime character.

VIDEO: The animation is really quite good, although there isn't a huge amount of action to really put it to the test. The way they animate the movements of the cats though is pretty impressive, and the artwork is really well detailed, especially in the scenes where she follows Muta through the alleys. I loved the character artwork though and the character designs just look like a lot of attention was put in to them so that they really looked like unique and distinct individuals.

AUDIO: I loved the dub on this one and think Anne Hathaway and Cary Elwes played their roles perfectly, especially Cary Elwes who did a terrific job as the Baron. The rest of the cast was pretty good too and I think they did a great job on the casting in this movie for the dub. The music is nothing terrific but it does the job, but I wouldn't say it was something to go out and buy the OST for by any means, although I'm not knocking it either.

OVERALL: An impressive film and yet another enjoyable and interesting movie from the folks at Ghibli. It's a little shorter than their standard releases, but it doesn't feel rushed in the least and is actually paced quite well. This film also has a moral lesson like most Ghibli films, and in this case you need only listen to the words of the Baron to pick up on what that message is.

Chrono Crusade (TV) Excellent

STORY: While many hate this series because it often doesn't quite seem to know what it wants to be, I loved it just because it is so many things and does all those things so well. It has a true dark side(that is strongest towards the end of the series), a comedic side and a plain fun side, all while telling an interesting story. The real downer of this series was the ending in which, more or less, Aion sort of prevailed and the main characters ran out of time and perished. While it can be argued they stopped Aion for the time being and they got to live out the remainder of their time together in peace, one can't help but feel that the events that followed and the reappearance of Aion at the end made Chrono and Rosette's sacrifice somewhat pointless.

CHARACTERS: The characters were great and there was great range in their personalities and styles. Rosette herself seemed to be quite a layered character, dense at times and full of wisdom the next. All in all the characters and their diversity were a high point of this series. The greatest character however was Aion himself, with his manipulative evil style and unusual calm nature and charismatic behavior; which made him truly one of the greatest anime villains I've seen thus far. His character type is something I actually think Andy McAvin portrayed with flawless efficiency in the dub.

VIDEO: The animation was quite well done, even if there were some moments of glaring fanservice and needless jiggle that didn't seem to really fit in with the darker tone of most of the scenes. The style was great though, being very detailed and atmosphere oriented when it was right and then seeming appropriately cartoonish in the comedy scenes. Everything pretty much matched the tone of the scenes for the most part though which only added to the show overall. The variance kept the show from getting overly serious by bringing just enough diversity in without detracting severely from the tone of the series.

AUDIO: I have to start off by saying I love the music for this anime and I seriously suggest the OST if you can get your hands on it. It just has so much range and emotion to it; from sad or melancholy pieces to humorous tunes. The music doesn't really revolve around the action sequences but rather the best tracks are those related to the quieter moments. I also thought the voice acting was done very well and didn't find any one actors performance to be particularly lacking nor did I feel any actors were miscast. The insanely irish cop that speaks about 2 lines in the pilot episode was a bit over the top, but as the character is only shown that once it's hardly an issue. Some argue Satella's accent was over the top as well, but having German born friends myself, it actually sounded about right to me.

OVERALL: I highly recommend this series. I know some of the filler episodes might turn some off, but they are pretty much non-existent in the later half of the series and they really aren't that bad during the rest of it. This anime is a great balance of styles, and they did a great job of putting these styles together without them walking all over each other causing a negative impact on the overall storytelling. I would say most anime fans should at least give this anime a rental and only really avoid it if you dislike dark storylines and endings that aren't of the "happily ever after" type, with a bit of fan service and filler thrown in during earlier episodes as well.

Cowboy Bebop (TV) Very good

STORY: The "Cowboy Bebop" story was very unique and quite interesting, although I must admit there were a few episodes that I personally found to be somewhat dull. The best part of Cowboy Bebop's story though is the range of the story, while still giving just enough time to explore the characters and their past(which really comes to the forefront in the final episodes). You have comedy and action and serious moral lessons all wrapped up in a world that explores so many different genre's and ties them all in together almost seamlessly.

CHARACTERS: Cowboy Bebop has some of the most well known, well liked and recognizable characters in anime right now, and for good reason. Each character has a unique side to their personality and none of them really follow any cliche character type to the letter and they compliment each other quite well despite their differences.

VIDEO: The animation in Cowboy Bebop is pretty good although there are a few points in some of the earlier episodes where the animation really doesn't seem up to par. The artwork and scenery is rather impressive and diverse for a space oriented show, and I like how everything is drawn in a fashion to make it look more used and abused than the perfect example of seamless, mint condition hardware we see in many sci-fi anime and shows.

AUDIO: The music in Cowboy Bebop is really something else. It's a really interesting compilation of different music types, especially jazz tunes, and the opening song really does well in setting the tone of the show and matching the style of the intro. The voicework is also done really well and I don't think the voices could have been cast for this show any better than they were.

OVERALL: I know many people rate this as one of the best and I wanted to, but I must admit there were a few too many episodes overall that I didn't much enjoy and I'm also personally more of a fan of linear stories rather than the episode-by-episode type. While I know Cowboy Bebop does keep its back story going, I just felt it's kept on the back burner a bit too much for my tastes. The rest of the factors about this anime are terrific though; from the soundtrack to the voices to most of the stories and the overall interesting style, or more accurately, compilation of styles.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Excellent

STORY: The story for this movie was terrific, very well paced and well written, giving all the characters plenty of time and purpose while introducing new characters and giving them enough development to make them interesting as well. The story itself is interesting and true enough to the series so that it doesn't feel out of place while still being written well enough so that it doesn't just feel like a really long episode but rather giving it the feel of a feature film.

CHARACTERS: Now since I already talked about the characters in the review of the series I'll focus primarily on new characters introduced for this movie here. The villain is a very interesting and mysterious character while his little minions actually play the part of the ignorant, stupid lackeys very well, which is actually rather rare for those roles. Electra could have used maybe a little more development but the issue there is minor and her character was defined well enough for her purpose in the movie.

VIDEO: The animation here is very well done and I really can't identify any specific place where it seemed low quality or mediocre to me. The scenery isn't very impressive but alot of that is due to the fact the movie really only takes place in the same city from start to finish. The action sequences are incredible and are some of the better animated fights and battles I've seen.

AUDIO: The voicework in the movie seems even better than the series and the score stays true to the jazz roots of the series in its soundtrack. This is some of the finer voicework and music I've seen in an anime and in that regard both the movie and series never disappoint.

OVERALL: The movie does a terrific job of being a series based movie without feeling like a 2 hour episode as so many others do. Another great aspect of the movie is that you can watch it, and enjoy it, without having ever seen the series, although that certainly helps at least to get some background on the main characters and their relationships with each other. The animation is top notch and the soundtrack is terrific with some of the better voicework I've heard. This is definetely one of those anime any fan should kick themselves for having not ever seen if they haven't.

Crest of the Stars (TV) Very good

STORY: I love the story on this one. The setup is really quite unique, with both sides seemingly having a degree of evil to them, but the side of the "oppressor" basically being the good guys overall. The story for the series is also more a story arc, it doesn't represent the beginning and the end of the major events, but more or less just the beginning and how the main characters are caught up in it. It's told very well and has a good drama side and action side to it with a bit of hinted romance.

CHARACTERS: The characters are likeable enough, although only the two main characters are significantly developed. Due to the circumstances of the story though, only the main characters really require development since it's really just about their attempts to get through wartorn space and back to their capital; so the only constants are them.

VIDEO: The animation here is decent, although I wouldn't say it's anything spectacular. The character designs are done well in spite of some minor characters tending to look a lot like others. The action scenes could probably have been improved somewhat but they are still pretty good, especially considering the age.

AUDIO: Here's where this series really starts to lose its points to me. Unfortunately the dub of this series is really only tolerable and is certainly not that good. I've definitely heard worse but I've also heard much much better. I don't mind the voices so much but rather the talent behind them is lacking. Now this is the point where the sub advocates come in and make their statements about sub superiority, except to me there is one major problem; the voice acting in the sub wasn't all that good to me either. It's unfortunate as I really love the story, but unfortunately when it comes to voice performances I'm stuck with either a mediocre dub or a slightly better but still not great sub. I usually choose the dub although if I were Bandai I'd consider redubbing the series with a new cast, although I must admit I like Lafiel's voice in the dub, the acting talent of the actress is just lacking.

OVERALL: This is a great sci-fi story with two likable main characters with enough drama and action to keep fans of both happy. The one major fault of the series though is the voice acting which, to me, just isn't very strong in either dub or sub. It's actually a first for me, usually if I don't like a dub I still find the sub effective, this is really the first time I found neither to be adequate. The animation isn't spectacular but I'd say it's still slightly above average. Overall, while not the perfect series, the story makes tolerating the faults worthwhile.

Cromartie High School (TV) Very good

STORY: Story? Haha, this anime does not rely on any real story. It really just kind of relies on a ... situation; a situation that is perfect for setting up some pretty unusual events. In that sense it works though and this is one of those instances where establishing much of a story would actually work against it rather than for it.

CHARACTERS: The characters are great and it's really hard for me to pick a real favorite. Each one is weird in some way and adds something unique to the group. Most of the minor characters are pretty much all renditions of the same basic "badasses", but they accomplish their purpose well enough as nothing in this anime really has a whole lot of depth. When you get a group together consisting of a bunch of odd delinquents. including the typical odd man out, punk rocker, stranger with delusions of world domination and his lackey and a voice of reason along with a gorilla, robot and Freddy Mercury then you're going to have one very unusual group. I'd have to say my favorite was Maeda, just because he's the only one who actually seemed to notice the world around him while the rest seemed blissfully ignorant and that made most the moments he was involved in quite amusing.

VIDEO: There's not a whole lot of really high end animation as this anime primarily focuses on the dialog rather than the action. The animation does however do a very good job of portraying each scene in an odd fashion and often adding strange little aspects to the scene to keep something there to focus on. More or less it's just a wierd show that keeps the unusual visuals rolling by, and although it doesn't always make sense it doesn't always have to.

AUDIO: This is one of those anime that I just couldn't enjoy the sub of and I actually fully recommend the dub to anyone looking to give it a shot. The dub voice actors are terrific and do a great job of portraying their characters and doing so consistently given the large range of different situations they find themselves in. There's not a whole lot of music aside from the intro and closing music but it doesn't really need much music either. when it's there it's mostly just to add to the feel of the scene, which it manages to do well, but none of the music is really good enough to stand on its own.

OVERALL: This isn't the most normal of shows, so if you're looking for your typical story driven anime with depth and character development then you're definitely looking in the wrong place. If you enjoy a series that's just plain odd and funny then I would suggest giving Cromartie a view and I'd suggest watching it with the dub. I am a dub fan generally but I do recognize it's usually a matter of preference and don't try to push dubs on those who like subs, but in this case I'd have to say the dub is simply more enjoyable overall.

Digimon Adventure (TV) Good

STORY: Alright, first off I'll start by saying this is a kids show and as such I don't expect a huge range of depth and realism in the story. That said, this anime actually has a decent amount of depth and drama to it despite its kid oriented nature. I'm not a big fan of the later Digimon crews, but love the first crew and their story(especially the Myotismon arc). At the time of this shows run the big names were "Pokemon", "Digimon" and "Monster Rancher" in the states, and I personally feel that the other two don't hold a candle to early "Digimon". The greatest part about "Digimon" was the linear storyline which kept progressing as the series went on, but still had a specific plot and purpose for each episode so that most episodes had some sort of action and climax to keep them interesting on an episode by episode basis.

CHARACTERS: Not only were the characters diverse and likable but their respective digimon were also equally as diverse and likable. Watching the kids relationship grow with their digimon and each other was the highlight of the show, and there was a definite difference between the way they started and the way they ended; a type of character evolution that isn't seen enough anymore, especially in kids shows.

VIDEO: I wouldn't say the animation was anything spectacular, although I would say it's a notch above Pokemon. The differences between the evolution stages of the Digimon themselves is quite diverse and there's a large array of different creatures so that you really never get a bunch of the same creatures fighting one another. In a show where creature combat is the strong point that diversity is actually fairly important.

AUDIO: The voice actors for the kids do a great job and most the enemies sound decent while others are impressive as far as typical villain voices go. The main theme is a bit overused and I actually enjoyed the earlier episodes and how they used a more orchestrated theme rather than the redundant techno-pop that later replaced it. I wouldn't say it really had any memorable music unless you count the main theme song getting stuck in your head in a rather annoying fashion.

OVERALL: It's a kids show and it shows, and while it is good by a kids show standards, it really doesn't have the true depth and story quality to keep most adults interested. It does have more than a typical kids show, and certainly more than its primary competition with a much more likable, cast despite its size. The animation and soundtrack isn't particularly impressive but it is decent enough for its purpose. So if you don't mind the more childish shows then I'd say give this one a chance, I think the depth of earlier "Digimon" might actually surprise you.

Digimon: The Movie (U.S. movie) Very good

STORY: This is a tough one because the movie is actually three different stories compiled together. The first two stories are great and the third one is decent. The first story is great because it gives you some background on how the initial digidestined first encountered Digimon and brings to light some of the things briefly mentioned in the original series. The second one is pretty action packed as well with a fairly interesting backdrop and the third one gets a little boring at times and I'm not to fond of this particular crew either, although the action at the end is pretty good. My one major gripe with the movie is the lack of the main characters and their Digimon. You never really get to see the crew from the original series together and most of them are barely shown or mentioned at all, and that's the main reason I couldn't rate the movie any higher.

CHARACTERS: As I just mentioned, a lot of the main characters are missing, the third installment has the main characters from that particular group but the first two are missing most the characters from the original digidestined group, which I felt really detracted from the story. While we see some good interaction between Tai and Izzy and we also see some of Matt and T.K., the rest are essentially absent which I found very disappointing. While I'm not a huge fan of the group in the third segment, at least they're all present so you get the full effect.

VIDEO: The animation in this movie is of pretty good quality, although each part of it was obviously animated at different times as the animation style isn't entirely consistent. It has pretty good action sequences in all three parts and the animation stays pretty smooth and consistent for each part independently.

AUDIO: The music selection is pretty good, containing a number of punk and alternative hits from the US, although I imagine the japanese version did not contain these songs. The only part I didn't really like was the Digi-rap at the very start of the movie as I'll just never understand the huge desire to create raps for anime, especially kids titles, and I admit I am just not a fan of the music type myself. The voices are all great and they are same ones that we're used to from the shows and they keep the same level of quality in the movie as they did in the shows.

OVERALL: A great movie(for a kids flick) with plenty of action, good voices and music and a set of good storylines with well done animation. The only downside, as mentioned previously, is the lack of the whole team of original digidestined along with the fact it's all based in the normal world and we never get to see the digital world either, which is the main backdrop in the actual series.

Ellcia (OAV) So-so

STORY: The story for this title is a tad on the cliche side, but stories so often were from the early 90's. It relies a little too heavily in killing people off, whether for effect or what, but it starts to feel a bit ridiculous at times and you start to wonder if the end of the series will just occur as a result of the entire planets population being dead. The story did have some interesting and unique elements that shined through when you got past the cliches, but not enough to really impress. The worst part was the ending when basically we're left with a bunch of killed off characters, an empire still existing and the only ship that could compete with them gone. Heck, the series even ends with the characters pretty much in the same position they were to begin with, although it never specifically states the empire still dominates or not so things may have changed, who knows. To make it worse they offer up a few pairings in the epilogue that are just plain idiotic on a romantic level, I guess they had to fit in some kind of tiny romance somewhere though.

CHARACTERS: There's really nothing special when it comes to the characters. Eira has a decent personality and character design and Maeyard is also interesting. The Nera character is also somewhat amusing, although the pairing at the end involving her practically destroys my view of her character. The rest of the pirate crew are pretty typical or generic to borderline bad. The fat kid, whose name I can't even remember, is just irritating and is one of those characters that just makes me wonder what the creators were thinking. The character designs and types are even worse on the villains side. The priests lips just look freakish and the king looks like a freaking clown. Princess Crystal looks completely butch or 80's and the rest are all quite generic in both personality and appearance. The main villain manages to keep the antagonists side of the series interesting at least though.

VIDEO: The art for the series is really rather dated and the character designs and palettes are typically atrocious for a lot of the anime from this time period. The animation is also rather dated but is at least of reasonable or slightly above average quality of the that time. Once you get past the hideous art style you can actually get in to the series a bit more and appreciate the animation for how it's animated rather than what it animates.

AUDIO: The voice acting isn't bad for the dub, but that's probably because the dub is more recent. The sound effects though are a bit weaker because they are not as updated. The music is pretty bad, though nothing you'd cringe over, just pretty typical for that time.

OVERALL: It's not a classic or anything and it's nothing bad, but it's really nothing amazing or something you should go out of your way to see. If you get your hands on it for a cheap price then go for it, but otherwise just rent it if you're curious. Only reason I picked it up was to fill my TRSI 10 DVD quota for the ADV sale they did in January of 2008.

Escaflowne: The Movie Decent

STORY: Although the story in the movie follows a similar premise to that of the series, it is done in a much different fashion this time around. I just couldn't really get into it this time though, it just lacked the depth of the series and the diversity. While it's easy to argue a movie will never manage as well as a full blown series as far as story depth goes, I still felt that the movie could have done much better than it did. It simply changed too much from the series and lost a lot of its charm. The ending was especially disappointing in the fact that Vaughn and Hitomi seem to fall in love ,like in the series, and express their desire to be by each others side forever which was at the very root of how Vaughn overcame the darkness. In the end though, despite that revelation, she gets taken back to Earth and it disappears for good it seems, which implies they'll never see one another again. At least in the series they could still see each other and there was at least some hope they'd have a future together, but in the movie their relationship seemed to play a bigger role, only this time in the end it seems they were seperated for good which is a change I wasn't too fond of.

CHARACTERS: This was the hardest part of the movie for me to adapt to. The characters personalities and styles were just changed far too much from the way they were in the series and it almost felt like I was watching a completely different set of characters. From slutting up Milerna and removing Dornkirk altogether to turning Folken into a maniacal 1-dimensional villain to poorly replace him, it was just hard to adjust to the extreme and unnecessary changes. Luckily Vaughn and Hitomi were still good characters which did help some, unfortunately pretty much everyone else in the cast was changed for the worst and one of the best characters from the series, Emperor Dornkirk, was removed entirely.

VIDEO: The artwork and animation in the movie was obviously superior to that of the series. Pretty much all the action was done very well and there were no obvious shortcuts from start to finish. The downside was the major changes to the character art which I thought hurt the movie overall. Add to that the fact the artwork was really done in a grimy and dark style, which was in contrast to the beautiful art of the series. The animation was great, the style however I just couldn't get into.

AUDIO: Well, the soundtrack lives up to that of the series and used a great deal of the originals music as well. The voice acting was very well done with definite improvements since the series in which the voice acting felt weak from time to time. In this area the movie actually excelled beyond that of the series as it took the strengths of the series and improved upon them.

OVERALL: Perhaps if I had never seen the series I might have enjoyed the movie more but it was just hard to really enjoy this retelling because so much was changed from the characters to the art style. The soundtrack though was one of the strong points of the series and at least in that the movie retains some consistency through an equally powerful soundtrack that took a good deal from its predecessor and improved on it. Ultimately the story and the plot and the ending though simply paled in comparison to that of the series. Add into that the needlessly changed and removed characters and it just doesn't work well as a retelling. As a standalone movie it doesn't come out much better though, the pacing is sloppy and the action is intermittent with a number of useless and unlikable characters scattered about and a villain and enemy army that just seems much to contrived. It has its moment and is worth watching, or even buying due to the very low price you can find it for, but I certainly wouldn't recommend going to any great lengths to see it or get it; especially if you are a fan of the series.

Eureka Seven (TV) Masterpiece

STORY: This title really excels in regards to the story and the huge range of genres represented within. It's a mecha series on the surface, and it has its fair share of action that revolves around that component. The true story is so much more than an action/mecha series though, and is in reality more of a drama and a romance than it is action or mecha. Add in some comedy to the series as well and you have a lot on your plate. This could be a negative or a positive; but I found it to be a positive in this case because the genres were balanced quite well. The series does have story arcs, to an extent, but they aren't as prominent, rather it takes kind of a slice-of-life storytelling approach and just sort of introduces elements in a natural fashion instead of giving the sense of pre-fabricated plotlines with obvious conclusions and starts. It's also a very character driven title, and a lot of the earlier episodes center around the development of those characters, which I thought worked great since all the character driven drama later on only benefits from this. It can be a tad slow to start though, and it leaves a lot unanswered until late in the series, so for people who like things more cut and dry, this might be a detractor. The development episodes early on and the slice-of-life storytelling style may also be a negative for some types, who would likely see the episodes as "filler" since they focus on characters and their lives rather than any specific key storyline. To me the style worked perfectly, but I can see how some who don't like this storytelling style may see it as a bad thing.

CHARACTERS What a cast this series has, and that's part of why it works so well as a character drive drama. You have Renton and Eureka, the pair who are the main characters in the series. They are developed quite nicely throughout the series, and it's interesting to see how much growth is seen in these characters as the series progresses; especially Eureka. Of course, their development and growth is very central to the dramatic plotline, especially the romance portion. Holland and Talho make a pretty interesting pair as well. Holland is Rentons hero, yet kind of becomes his worst enemy for a time. Talho, on the other hand, seems to hate Renton at the start but is his best ally of sorts as things move on. Then there's the rest of the Gekkostate, which is a very diverse and interesting crew who all seem well thought out by the writers, even if their lines are minimal. The villains aren't quite as effectively fleshed out as our protagonists, but it's understandable since they're somewhat faceless for much of the series. Anemone and Dominic could have used more screen time I think, or at least a bit more in the way of development, and Dewey maybe could have benefited from a bit less, or at least more spread out since a lot of it is applied over a few episodes. All in all the characters all have distinct and interesting personalities, generally not suffering from typical cliche characters or bland personalities.

VIDEO: The animation in the series is really quite good. It's not cinema quality, but it's well above average for a series in my opinion. You never get that "our budget for this episode was really low" feel; except maybe for the opening for the third season, which just didn't look or seem to move right. Where this series really excels and draws the eye is in the art style and the color palette used. The style can only be described as retro/futuristic with a touch of surf culture applied. Most of the characters have pretty unique outfits ranging from a 60's style to mid 90's. I'd say Renton is one of the few main characters with a modern look, but even his outfits could easily pass as a 90's look too. The color palette is also interesting in just how vibrant the colors are. The character outfits really benefit from the colors used with just as much variety applied to the color of their clothes as was applied to the clothes themselves. It really adds to the sense of diversity of the cast that their design encompasses pretty much the whole spectrum across the crew, and the clothes themselves are very distinct between each character. On top of that the LFOs(mecha) are also just as varied in their palette and design, as well as the ships and even just the backgrounds themselves(especially the Sea of Rainbow Clouds in episode 26). Add to that the green effects of the Trapar and the pink explosions and bright laser blasts and it just feels like calling this series "vibrant" is quite an understatement.

AUDIO: This show had a great cast in the dub and is one of the shows I'm confident in saying the dub was better than the sub; still just my opinion of course. It took Johnny a bit to get in to the character of Renton I think, but he got there and did a great job for the rest of the series. Stephanie was a great Eureka, and Crispin played Holland with a lot more emotion and style than he puts in his typical roles. Gidget, Moondoggie, Matthieu and all the rest were equally well portrayed with a great balance of maturity and immaturity that seem contradictory, but actually worked well for their character types. The sub wasn't bad either, but some characters just seemed way off to me, especially Charles and Ray. I also felt that, as the series progressed and the drama really came in to play, the sub actors were overacting significantly; almost to the point it wasn't tolerable at times. I kind of attribute the preference partially to the fact the series style adopts surf/beach culture, something that isn't quite as prominent in Japan but is quite relevant in US pop culture. The japanese voice actors felt like they were voicing typical characters, where as the R1 dub cast seemed to adopt the series style in their performances to great effect. The music of the series was also excellent and benefits from the same kind of diversity shown in the art, story, genres and just about everything else. You get techno, orchestrated songs, alternative, pop, rock, and songs that mix multiples of those types. All in all the soundtrack takes up 4 CD's, which luckily enough are packaged with the special editions. The score fits the series perfectly too, with slower tunes for darker moments and techno for the battles and rock for more uplifting times and so on. Like the video, the audio portion of this series is quite diverse and matches the style and story nearly flawlessly.

OVERALL: I found this series to be amazing, and I attribute this to the fact it develops the characters so well, so that when the drama really hits you really find yourself caring for what they're going for. It still balances action and mecha elements, and even comedy, to the drama in a very effective way. The series also oozes style from every section, from the art to the music to the voicing and so on. I also loved how it told the story in more natural way and still provided a lot of opportunities to develop the characters, especially the romances, as it didn't follow the typical cliche of hinting at a romance until the very end and then throwing them together. The romance proceeded in a believable fashion and grew as the characters did. This series managed to strike a great balance in the midst of so much diversity, and it only benefited from it as a result. The story itself still turned out to have quite a bit of depth and turned out to be quite powerful, despite the fact it wasn't force fed to the audience in episode after episode and even took a back seat to a lot of the slice-of-life elements for much of the series; just another example of the series great balance. It's hard for me to really label any one thing that this series did so well because it seemed to apply such great balance to nearly every aspect. It won't work for everyone, as some might see the development episodes as filler, or the style as strange, or the mixing of so many genres as odd and so on. For me though, everything came together perfectly, but I think it was the characters themselves that really made me love the series so much personally; the rest just made an already great story nearly perfect. I highly recommend this series to anyone who wouldn't be thrown off by some of the things I mentioned, it's a great ride, and usually a series of this length doesn't even hold my attention that long.

Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture Weak

STORY: The story of this title is pretty weak, basically just an excuse to throw some fan service and fight scenes together. It works on the most minimum of levels, at least enough to recognize a story is there. It pales in comparison even to other videogame to anime releases.

CHARACTERES: None of the characters are particularly interesting, most are just generic fighters with Mai tossed in to keep the good 'ol fanservice flowing. All of the characters are simply generic, which just adds to the whole generic feel of the storyline they're a part of.

VIDEO: The animation is decent for the time but nothing incredible. Mai's fan service is way overdone in just about every scene she's in, which really goes to show the whole intention behind her character. The rest of the series is drawn in a typical fashion and the characters are all pretty much what you'd expect from this type of movie. Like the other aspects of the movie nothing really stands out.

AUDIO: The voice acting isn't very good in this one on both subs and dubs if you ask me; although I'd stick with the sub if you have the choice. It isn't incredibly bad but it's more bad than good in my opinion. The music is also generic, which pretty much just seals the deal in the fact this anime is just a generic compilation of fanservice and fight scenes with nothing truly interesting or great about it.

OVERALL: It's just plain and ordinary and it doesn't even pull it off well. I mean, I certainly can respect some movies or shows that don't deviate from the basic formula's if they can do it in an interesting fashion, but this movie doesn't even manage that. They tried too hard to bring in fight scenes and fan service and didn't try hard enough to actually make it good. As you can likely tell my general label for this movie is simply "generic", I can't emphasize that word enough.

Figure 17 (TV) Masterpiece

STORY: This is easily one of the most underrated anime I know of and it is the story that makes it what it is. Although the description does make it sound like a sci-fi show about a battle between aliens on earth, it is actually so much more than that. The sci-fi aspect is more or less just a backstory that exists to support the primary story which is really the relationship between the 2 girls, Tsubasa and Hikaru, who take on the roles of twin sisters after Hikaru is created from a piece of alien technology during Tsubasa's encounter with their downed craft. The character development in the series is what makes the story as great as it is as you truly begin to feel for the girls and understand their everyday lives in a fashion I've rarely seen in most anime or television or movies or most mediums. The ending is also the saddest ending to an anime I've yet seen, although an appropriate ending either way. The moment Tsubasa and Hikaru seperate and Tsubasa looks around only to realize Hikaru is gone and collapses in the field and cries is one of the truly saddest moments I've seen. Although in the end Tsubasa was stronger for having had Hikaru there it was incredibly sad to see her lose Hikaru after everything she's already been through. This anime just has so much heart and depth to its story and it is that which makes it as great as it is.

CHARACTERS: There's no shortage of character development here and that is what makes the story work as well as it does. Just about every character is fleshed out very well and develops as the story progresses, heck even the dog at the ranch has a decent amount of development and involvement in the story. While all the development and character work might bore some it is simply some of the best for those who enjoy the more slice of life or coming of age style. Heck, I'm not even a big fan of the slice of life genre and I found myself easily drawn into this story and the lives of these characters. You just really start to care about the characters and what happens to them and part of that is because the characters are just so well defined and the aspects of their life are shown in such great detail. They're about as close to feeling like family as a fictional animated character can possibly get.

VIDEO: The animation quality is good, I wouldn't say it's great or terrific but it's good enough for the type of show this is. The artwork is great though, especially the landscape art and amount of detail put into the environment. The character designs take a very realistic approach and don't try to take the overly toonish look at all. All in all this show does everything to look believable and create an immersive environment for an already immersive story.

AUDIO: The voice acting is very well done and is a great example of a well done dub, I actually found I liked the Tsubasa and Hikaru characters voices much better in the dub than the sub. The music is decent although nothing truly spectacular but it does well in the scenes it is in and does convey the atmosphere of the scenes well. Only real gripe I have here is that the opening song feels a bit out of place.

OVERALL: This is a great series that is seriously underrated for how good it is. It might bore those looking for great action and some sci-fi, but as far as the slice of life aspect goes it is truly top notch. The character development is some of the best I've seen and you really truly feel for the characters and their situation from the very start. Unfortunately the end is heartbreaking and while it is positive to a degree, you can't help but feel sorry for Tsubasa's loss after she's already been through so much. If I was to drop my rating for anything it would be the sad ending but I'm not one to rate something poorly just because the ending wasn't "happily ever after", especially since the ending was unfortunately the most appropriate for the story.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (movie) Decent

STORY: Ouch, sorry, I'm still in a bit of pain after Square just kicked me in the nuts with this film. As a fan of the game I was really looking forward to a well done continuation of arguably one of the best RPG stories done to date. Considering the source material, I didn't think that would be a difficult thing to do; apparently I was wrong. What we get instead is a loose collection of over the top action sequences barely tied together by a weak story that quickly dismisses everything you accomplished in the game and then lazily attempts to rehash the same basic plot devices as a sequel. Now this is the opinion from someone who played the game and loved the game; if you haven't played the game and aren't familiar with the story then matters are even worse as you will be, quite frankly, completely lost and confused.

CHARACTERS: The characters here consist of the standard crew from Final Fantasy VII with a few minor additions. The main problem is the characters don't really develop in the least aside from Cloud. The even bigger problem there is that the only reason Cloud develops is because he somehow managed to return to the same or similar psychological state he was in at the start of the game. The only characters that see sufficient screen time aside from Cloud are Marlene, Tifa, Vincent, Rude, Reno, President Rufus and of course the new villains. The main problem with that is that the main crew that we grew to love in the game have only brief moments in the movie and hardly have any role at all. Matter of fact, the movie would have hardly changed if they didn't show up in it at all, which was a huge disappointment since I was really looking forward to seeing them all in action once again.

VIDEO: Alright, here we are in the technical portion of this and this is where the strengths of this movie lie. Visually this is a very stunning movie, primarily due to the action and the models. Contrary to fanboy opinion though it is not perfect and it is not flawless. I found that a lot of the landscape and scenery was lacking and the character movements didn't seem as organic or fluidic as they should. The characters themselves also seem to resemble detailed dolls rather than people. The texturing and model details though are very impressive and the action they managed to get them to convey is certainly some of the best, even if it is sadly one of the only things that make this movie worth watching.

AUDIO: The film has a great soundtrack that manages to live up to that of the game. I would have liked a more orchestrated score with updated music from the game but am still happy with what the movie does offer. The voices were all pretty good as well. Many people had complaints about some of the minor characters English voices, but they didn't really bother me, especially considering their incredibly minor roles in the film overall.

OVERALL: I can sum this up in one word: disappointment. This film was incredibly underwhelming, from the lack of a decent story and the fact it basically resets your accomplishments in the game to the disappointing showing from the main characters of Final Fantasy VII. I would have to say this movie just doesn't live up to its source material. Sadly, it's little more than a fanbase cash in from Square, I can't say I blame them though because it obviously worked. I guess I'm just a fan of the game, but not a fanboy, I appreciate and enjoy the over the top action and updated look but other than that this movie was just disappointing.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (US CG movie) Good

STORY: I don't mind the story so much like others seem to. While I don't think it was spectacular, I did think it was good enough and did enjoy the atmosphere of it and the environment. That said, I do agree with most "Final Fantasy" fans, being one myself, that it just doesn't fit the "Final Fantasy" name and should have never been billed as a "Final Fantasy" movie. I think the story is decent as a standalone but I don't think it works as a "Final Fantasy" or even closely fits what the title generally represents.

CHARACTERS: Aki was a decent character and the rest were alright, but I wouldn't venture to say that any of the good characters were amazing or even great. The only character I actually thought was well fleshed out and well done was General Hein, the villain of the story.

VIDEO: The animation was very well done for its day and is still comparable with even some recent CG movies. What I loved most about the movie was the atmosphere it provided and the feel of the environment. From the dark streets of Old New York to the dream sequences to the besieged barrier city; every scene just had the look and feel that it should have had if you were really there. It just never let you forget that you were watching a defeated humanity on a slowly dying earth.

AUDIO: I didn't think the voice acting was anything incredible. Aki was played well and the others were played decently, but only General Hein really seemed to receive an exceptional performance. Donald Sutherland did well as Sid, but his role was too minor to really have a large impact on the feel of the movie. The soundtrack was nice though and really fit the atmosphere of the movie, it was never overbearing but was also never out of place. I fear though that it doesn't receive the respect it deserves due to the fact this title just isn't very popular.

OVERALL: It wasn't a great movie, but I think it was better than it gets credit for. I think their biggest mistake was billing it as a "Final Fantasy" movie, which only served to disappoint the rabid fans of the franchise when it turned out to have very little "Final Fantasy" in it. I can understand it may have been necessary to secure the funding to produce it and get the title the attention it needed to get it in theaters. In the end they'd have been better off just taking the hard road rather than the easy path of billing it as something popular only to anger the fans in the process. It's not terrific but it is underrated, simply because many don't give it the chance it deserves. I'm not saying people should praise it, but I just believe it deserves a little more credit than it seems to get.

Full Metal Panic! (TV) Excellent

STORY: It's not exactly the most believable story and has obvious roots in comedy, but it's still an interesting story none the less. While a lot of the story revolves around Mithril and their battle against various terrorist groups and a certain unkillable villain, a lot of the core of the story revolves around Sousuke and Kaname and their time in school and developing relationship. The big disappointment was the fact their relationship never really developed significantly from start to finish. While I know there are books these are based off of and there's still more to go, all the development and hints throughout the series just felt like a tease in the end. So much of the story revolves around the two of them coming together and when all is said and done it gets nowhere. It does really come across as an anime that was able to take so many elements in their most extreme style and make them work together very well though. To have slapstick comedy next to serious nail-biting action and for it all to work is always an element I enjoy.

CHARACTERS: The characters are great and dynamic. Each one has a personality all their own and they all react and interact differently. Each character also has a hidden side that is obvious to the viewer but isn't to the other characters, which is what the relationship between Sousuke and Kaname revolves around. The feelings between them is obvious to the viewer but not to each other which is what makes it work so well, but also tends to make it frustrating at times.

VIDEO: The animation is quite good and I certainly can't identify anything to really complain about. The comedic scenes are drawn as such and the serious ones are drawn to show it. There is a degree of fan service though that is really obviously put in place for that very purpose, but aside from that the animation and artwork is quite well done.

AUDIO: The music fits but none of it really struck me as spectacular. The voice work is well done though and all the roles were well cast. Chris Patton and Luci Christian were the best choices for Sousuke and Kaname and I can't think of another dub actor that could have done it better. The soundtrack may not be anything spectacular but the voice acting really is in my opinion, so it certainly deserves some praise there.

OVERALL: When I rated this one it was a hard one to rate. While I did really like the show I wasn't quite sure if it quite made excellent. When reviewing it all again I decided it certainly was excellent but I'd say it is more of a low excellent. The obvious fan service and lack of any character advancement in the end really took away from the overall experience. The rest of the show was still great though and certainly worthy of an excellent rating regardless.

Fullmetal Alchemist (TV) Excellent

STORY: Here it is. Finally, after over a year of collecting, this series is done and what a ride it has been. I admit I first got in to FMA due to my interest in FMP and upon seeing the name I thought they were related. After a little research I found that they weren't related at all but I was interested at that point so I went ahead with the buy. Imagine my surprise when I found that it was not only nothing like FMP, but much better. The story is a great one, and a complex one that twists away throughout the world of FMA and explores everything from war to politics to coming of age and the basics of emotion. I admit there were the odd few episodes that felt out of place or that felt unnecessary, especially in the first half, but overall the anime stayed its course and managed to produce a 50+ episode series that stayed consistently strong. My only disappointment with the story, aside from a few stray episodes, is the ending, which was strong but lacked closure and seemed to step a bit too far in to the sci-fi realm, even for this series. Another great aspect of the series is the comedic element, in that no matter how serious things get there's always a bit of comedy tossed in here and there to give the viewers a laugh, which stays with the series even in to the darkest parts of the finale.

CHARACTERS: Part of what makes FMA such a great title is its characters, each with a lot of depth and development and even growth throughout the series. One of the strongest examples of this is the villain Lust, who grows beyond just being a villain and eventually helps our heroes before her own death. Nothing says character development as well as a villain or hero that is turned to the other side in a practical and believable fashion. The best part was the villains, in that you never quite know who the villains are and just when you think you do things just get deeper and a whole new level is added to it.

VIDEO: The animation and art quality in FMA is really quite high end most of the time. It's nothing stellar that will blow you away or amaze you but it's still above average. Best of all is the variety of costume and landscapes details. From trains to rural villages to deserts and thriving urban areas, each is unique and distinct in that you can usually take one glance at the scene and, if you're familiar with the show, you'll know where you are.

AUDIO: This is one of those series where I feel comfortable saying that the dub was better than the sub. I know some will still disagree, some purists and some fans that liked it the other way, but I really strongly feel in this case that Funi nailed the dub for this series hands down. The voices were pretty much perfect all around and the acting was definitely very effective. I have very few complaints about the dub, so few in fact that I can't even remember anything off hand. I'm sure if I watched it all the way through just looking for problems I might find a few, but if I have to try that hard then I'd say they did a great job regardless. The music in the series was also terrific, at least as far as the supporting music in the anime itself goes. As far as the opening and endings go, I must admit I was less than impressed with any of them, and not only did I feel as though they didn't fit with the anime but they also just sounded to me like your average generic J-pop.

OVERALL: This really was a terrific series and while some might declare it overrated, I personally felt as though it's one of the best in anime in recent years. This was just such a well crafted story, especially for one lasting over 50 episodes. With such a richly layered story and well developed characters it's hard not to praise it. Add on to that the nearly perfect dub job by Funi and the rich music and it's easy to overlook the few stray episodes and poor opening and closing tunes. The only real complaint that legitimately impacts my rating is how it ended, which coupled with the movie is still a good ending, it's just not the kind of ending I'd have preferred. Call me a fanboy, or whatever you wish but I do legitimately believe that FMA deserves the high rating I gave it, and rest assured I am not one to be swayed by popular opinion. This anime was just that good in my opinion.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa Good

STORY: Ah yes, the much anticipated Fullmetal Alchemist movie. I would probably be going a bit too far to say I found this movie disappointing, but it certainly didn't live up to the series, of that I have no doubt. Sadly, unlike the series I found the story in the film to be a bit to formulaic and, while it did take a few unexpected turns, it just didn't seem to hit quite the level the series did. As a closer it did its job, but it did it in a formulaic and somewhat uninteresting fashion that effectively removed many of the series greatest elements. Alchemy for instance, the most powerful element in the series, took pretty much a back seat in the movie. Add in to that the fact I felt the movie ended in a less interesting fashion than the series, seperating the Elric's from the very land we grew to know and love from the series and tossing them in to the rather uninteresting regular world. Not only that but the fact that the movie decided to conveniently kill off a great many of the major players from the main story in the series and it started to feel like the movie was just trying way to hard to close things out in as little time as possible.

CHARACTERS: There's not really much to add here. The characters this time around were just as good as they were before, although some of the alternate reality versions were major departures from the originals, but that's not all that surprising or unexpected. The major villains this time around were as formulaic as the story itself I'm afraid. Although the primary villains motivations weren't quite as typical in the end, that doesn't quite make up for the rest.

VIDEO: The animation this time wasn't light years beyond the series or anything, but it was noticeably better for the most part. Unfortunately there were some CG elements tossed in this time that really kind of stuck out and didn't look quite as good as they could have, but overall it was as good or a little better than the series itself. The landscape and wardrobes were still strong this time around as far as detail goes, but generally they were a bit more drab which may be partly due to the setting.

AUDIO: The music stays pretty consistent in its quality and the voice acting is no different. I'd say the audio is the one aspect of the movie that lives up to the expectations the series has set in all respects.

OVERALL: The film did a decent enough job of closing things out but certainly not an amazing job or anything on the level of what we've come to expect from the series itself. I personally would have preferred things end a different way, but the ending was still good enough to the point I'm reasonably happy with it. The animation was mostly on the same level, better in some ways and worse in others. The story really paled in comparison though, not just in the ending but in the style and depth of it, not to mention the setting and lack of alchemy really removed a lot of the elements that made the series so great. The music and voicework were as good as ever though at least. In the end the movie did its job, it just didn't do it as well as it could have, I'm content with the ending but honestly I felt it could have been much more powerful or the build up to it could have been much more well done. What we got though was a watered down, formulaic story that abandoned many of the best elements of the series that created it. While it still came out to be a decent film, it really could have been so much better.

Ghost in the Shell (movie) Good

STORY: The story seemed a little bland to me with a style that I felt was overdone. The whole futuristic and cyborg thing has been done plenty and, while it still works, there's just nothing I could see in this anime to really set it apart and break it from the cliche. Even watching it the first time it felt like watching a rerun I just couldn't remember the details of.

CHARACTERS: I really don't have many complaints about the characters, but then again I don't have much praise for them either. They just really didn't feel fleshed out or developed or even all that interesting, but they did manage to keep the story going and that's not nothing. This is one of those instances where I swear the fan service laden protagonist is so loved simply due to that fan service.

VIDEO: The animation is really quite good for its vintage and I did find the artwork impressive. Animation and art may not make a story but they at least give this title something significant going for it. If you like eye candy this one might be worth a look.

AUDIO: The english voice acting isn't wonderful but it's passable, the sub is a bit better and probably the worthier audio track on this volume. I wasn't fond of this soundtrack in the least but then again it's not really my style anyways so take that for what it's worth.

OVERALL: I admit I haven't seen this title in quite some time so a lot of this I'm pulling from memory. I do recall enough to know I wasn't really drawn in by it and why that was though. I can see the value of the movie and why people love it so much, it just wasn't really my cup of tea I guess.

Guardian of Darkness (OAV) Good

STORY: This is really a rather interesting story, although it's not exactly a happy tale or a fast paced one for that matter. It does get a little slow at times and the final conflict does kind of approach rather suddenly without much actual build up, except in the 3rd episode which I felt did have proper pacing.

CHARACTERS: Although the story does revolve around Koichi, I actually felt that Terumi was the much more interesting character in this title. Koichi is almost irritating at times with his attitude and, although he is the focus, I actually found Terumi's back story to be more involved and her character just felt like it had more depth.

VIDEO: The artwork isn't bad but the animation isn't the greatest. It does well enough to convey what it needs to, but it probably could have been better during the major battles. The character art is pretty much realistic for the most part and the landscapes and scenery are well drawn, although there is nothing that really stands out as exceptional or truly impressive.

AUDIO: There's not much of a soundtrack and the voice acting is pretty much right around average to good with no performances really showing themselves to be excellent. The audio portion of the title is pretty much just average with nothing proving to be bad but nothing really proving to be great either.

OVERALL: It's not a bad OAV considering it's age, and while it certainly could have used some improvement I really don't have anything bad to say about it aside from some of the less than spectacular animation. The story is interesting though and it is certainly the titles primary strength, despite some pacing problems and a main character that is annoying at times. I would certainly still recommend this title though if you're given the chance to see it. It's not terrific but it is still good and worth the time and money considering the DVD is by no means expensive anymore.

Gunslinger Girl (TV) Masterpiece

STORY: This one tends to be a bit controversial when I bring it up with most. Some argue that there is no real story, basing that argument on the fact that it really doesn't have a specific linear story and each episode is pretty much self-contained, although the events do follow a specific order and certain story components continue from start to finish. Others argue the story is much too dark and the questionable morality of the events in the show make it difficult to even watch. I can see and understand both viewpoints but I personally do not agree with either. Although I prefer linear stories I did find enough of a linear story in "Gunslinger Girl" to tie it all together. I enjoyed more that it was just a dramatic moment in time in these girls lives and not really something complete with a solid objective, start to finish. The story really is just a story about the lives of these girls and what they face and to bring into question the morality of what was done. It's more like a slice of life anime with a very dark fictional twist and I actually enjoyed that and the fact it didn't necessarily have a solid finale. The dark morality of it is at the very core of the anime and I really don't think it'd have worked without that aspect, it may not suit everyone but it works quite well for those that don't mind such a dark look at humanity.

CHARACTERS: The characters are fleshed out pretty well, as their relationships with the other girls and their handlers is the key element of the show. The characters have so much range and depth to them and, despite the fact they are deadly assassins, it's just difficult to actually see them that way even after you watch them shoot up a room full of the enemy without so much as a hint of remorse. Some of the handlers could have been fleshed out a little better, but they still received ample time for their roles in the story so I have no major complaint there.

VIDEO: The animation is great and I just love the overall feel of the entire series. It's not overly colorful but the scenery and character design is still quite diverse and beautiful, even if it has a lot of grays and more subdued neutral colors. The action sequences aren't too common, but they are very well animated and the attention to detail is spectacular. The character art and backgrounds are very realistic and there's virtually no "toon" element in the series at all, which is ideal due to the very serious nature of the series.

AUDIO: I loved the dub of this one, although I know many didn't because it had some minor changes. While it did have these changes, I personally found them to be minor with very little, if any, effect on the overall story. I thought the voice actors for the girls did a superb job and the handlers were pretty well done as well. The music of this series was also top notch and it just perfectly fit the atmosphere and feeling of the series from the opening to the episode content to the closing. At this point I'd say this is one of the better soundtracks I've heard in both quality and how well it fit the series and scenes it was a part of.

OVERALL: This series simply may not interest some. From the dark story to the lack of action and focus on character interaction to the story that isn't definitive, it just doesn't have a lot of the key components that make the most popular anime as popular as they are in the mainstream. If you don't require those things though then this series really is quite a nice piece of storytelling and I personally thought it was easily a masterpiece. Every aspect of the series just came together in perfect harmony and it all worked so well. The superb animation and the perfect soundtrack with some great character development and voice acting combined with a dark tone that really makes you think, not just about the situation of the girls in the series, but question your own morality.

(The) Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor (OAV) Good

STORY: Not exactly the most original story by any means, but it stays just fresh enough to keep it interesting. The story basically has a very formulaic layout and doesn't go out of its way to add much to itself to be anything impressive, but does add just enough to keep it interesting while telling it in a good enough fashion to at least put it above a simple generic labelling.

CHARACTERS: The characters aren't that great but I wouldn't say they're bad either. They're just kind of there to suit their purpose and most attempts at adding depth to them ends up just feeling like filler that doesn't really serve to help the situation much.

VIDEO: The animation is pretty good for the vintage but there is a definite lack of varied scenery. There's nothing really wrong with confining most the show to the same places but a little diversity to the scenery would be nice. The action is decent, compared to other shows released around this time, and could probably be considered a step above.

AUDIO: The dub track isn't to bad which, is saying something considering at that time dubs were usually pretty horrendous. The script for the dub is sufficient enough, although not perfect, but the music is completely forgettable, most the time you forget it's even there.

OVERALL: A classic goody with good animation and a decent story that's also somewhat of a cult classic. While I did like the anime, I certainly wouldn't say it's a truly great anime that's not to be missed and I cannot really see why it is as well known and popular as it is. All that aside though it's also not a bad anime and is certainly worth viewing if you have the chance. I do feel it is overhyped by many of its fans, as often occurs when a show has a cult following, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily bad either.

Haibane Renmei (TV) Masterpiece

STORY: This is not only an incredibly deep and touching story, but a very well told one with a meaningful moral lesson behind it all. It does start out slow, but necessarily so I believe, by allowing you to enter into the life of the Haibane and accompany Rakka as she learns about this world she has been born into. The first five episodes really only introduce the world and the characters and their day to day lives, but it is done in a very touching fashion to the point you almost dread the coming of the real story because it's almost heartbreaking to consider any darkness befalling these people. It certainly does have its darker and sadder moments, but overall it's a good story with a positive message and is one of the best, most well told and beautiful stories I've ever seen. It also manages to achieve this with no use of fan service, nudity, violence or action; which makes it just all that much better.

CHARACTERS: Every character is very well done with diverse designs, plenty of development and depth. They're all likable in their own ways and they seem so very real; a lot of that having to do with the fact the anime gives so much time over to developing them and the world they're a part of. The subject of who was the main character is one I often see debated because while Rakka is the center of attention, the main component of the story really ends up being about Reki and her quest for redemption. While I can understand the idea she is the main character, I still believe the main character is in fact Rakka. It is Rakka's arrival and her own trials that are the central theme for most of it and it is her that makes Reki's redemption possible, not to mention Kuu's flight in a sense. I believe it is that which makes Rakka the true centerpiece to the story and Reki essentially provides the eventual goal or final hurdle for Rakka in the story. Either way every character is an integral part of the story and they are just so well done that you can't help but feel for them and almost get to know them as though they were standing next to you.

VIDEO: The animation is average; and although it's not really high quality, it is still comparable to a lot of anime out there. The artwork on the other hand is simply beautiful and really is movie quality in not just the quality of the visuals but the meaning behind what is shown and the detail and attention put into it. This is some of the best artwork in animation I've seen, not just because of how well it was done but because the artists obviously put a lot of care into bringing this world to life. Granted there was not a lot of action to animate but, the degree of attention and detail put into the artwork goes beyond just having extra money to spend, it reflects just how much care was put into it which is something that can't be created with money alone.

AUDIO: The voice acting is very impressive and well done on both sides, sub or dub. All the voices seemed to match the characters so well and even their personalities. The ambient sounds were also well done, from wind to the sound of the windmills to the river and the bike and more, it just made the world feel that much more real and alive. The most impressive part though is the soundtrack which is an absolutely beautiful composition of orchestrated music heavy on the piano and strings but also included a harmonica and accordian. This is easily my favorite music from any series I've seen so far, and its only competition overall for anime in general for me is the soundtrack for "Steamboy".

OVERALL: This is just an incredibly touching story with so much depth that was done with such great care and attention to detail. It is not a series for everyone though. It is slow going at first and many of the themes may go over the head of younger audiences who won't be able to understand everything that's going on. There's no action or large breasted women or even anything of a sexual nature. It's a very innocent and heartfelt drama and if that's not the type of anime you're really into then there's no doubt it might bore you. For the rest though it is an incredible title with a beautiful world, story and message and a cast of characters you can't help getting attached to.

Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Good

STORY: Here is where this anime is weakest, this story is just a mess. It starts out well enough but just sort of falls apart as it progress until it reaches a conclusion that really wasn't even really developed and felt somewhat out of place. Many characters felt wasted while others seemed overused, just like many points in the story were far too overdeveloped, while others didn't see nearly enough. This anime does have its strengths, but the story is not one of them and thus my lowest rating ever for a Ghibli film.

CHARACTERS: The characters in this title are alright, even if they have little actual depth to them, although the Witch of the Wastes makes a pretty poor villain and doesn't even add anything to the movie when she's not a threat any longer. The characters just aren't developed properly and this goes back to the story aspect and its many problems. There is potential, but that potential just isn't reached.

VIDEO: The animation here is pretty much up to Ghibli standards although I might go so far as to say it is a little below what I've come to expect from them, although with that said it's still pretty darn good. There's an action sequence in the earlier portion of the series that seems pretty mediocre, but otherwise most the animation is very well done.

AUDIO: The soundtrack is pretty good, as usual, and the voice acting is all quite well done. The ambient sounds are all fitting for the visuals and all the music seems to fit right in. Nothing is out of place and the voices on both the dub and the sub fit their characters and are performed effectively.

OVERALL: This is a movie that could have been so much better than it is. Unfortunately a sloppy story and poor development really hinders what could have been a great story. The animation is beautiful and the design of the castle is very impressive and the soundtrack and voices are great. The story is still quite watchable and certainly isn't bad, the problem is it could have been so much better. The worst part, I felt, was the ending which really seemed to just fly out of nowhere and just felt completely out of place. I love Ghibli and I really hate to give a film of theirs even an average rating, but honestly this film just doesn't deliver.

Kakurenbo - Hide & Seek (movie) Very good

STORY: This, the story, is the aspect of this anime that is very debatable regarding its quality. The fact is the anime doesn't really have much of a story and some say it works and some say it doesn't. I personally say it works to a degree but it could have used a little bit more of an explanation at the very end. The simple fact is the anime is too short and really makes you feel like it had so much more to tell and just no time in which to tell it. The ending did a good job of tying all the events together, but didn't do a very good job of necessarily explaining the forces at work behind them to any degree. I still enjoyed the anime, I just wish it had more to it to enjoy.

CHARACTERS: There's not much to put here as there's simply no time to really get to know the characters. There's not a whole lot of dialogue or character development for that matter. Hikora is the only one that seems to have any development and he only gets enough to really understand his motives. The twins are the most interesting of the characters in appearance but they have no development at all, or even dialog for that matter; they really feel like a lost opportunity.

VIDEO: The animation in this title is great and the movement is very fluid with a high framerate. This is actually another area often debated about this anime however. While some claim the animation is poor I personally beg to differ and I think people see the movements as poor is because that much detail simply doesn't exist in animated movements in other anime. Other titles often portray character movements as very rigid, where as Kakurenbo has a very organic style of character movement to it which only seems out of place because we simply don't see it often. People also seem to hate the masks and the mask designs but I loved those as well and simply couldn't imagine this title without those masks; if they ever merchandised masks like that I can guarantee them at least one sale. The rest of the character art was great too, each character had a unique look and appearance and even the demons had a really interesting sort of industrial look going. I personally found the character art in this title to be among the best.

AUDIO: I felt the music did a decent job, although the only real tune was the intro/outro tune. Problem is the song is somewhat repetitive and while it had a good style it eventually got a little annoying. The ambient sound was great though and really added to the atmosphere of the title as a whole and I liked the voice acting on both the sub and the dubs. The sound quality for effects though was noticeably poor compared to the voices. Pretty much any noise that isn't a voice, music or ambient seems almost muffled as if they recorded the effect through a wall using a stethoscope.

OVERALL: The unique style and story really make this anime as great as it is and those are definetely its strong points. I have no doubt that this would have been quite a successful title if it were only longer with more story and character development to it. It certainly is not without its faults, but its strengths are more than enough to outweigh those faults and I still consider this to be a recommended title provided you don't mind the fact it's a mere 25 minutes long.

Karas (OAV) Good

STORY: This series had a great start. The story was a tad hard to follow at times, but it still had so much going for it. Unfortunately for Karas, they decided to finish it and release the second half. While I wouldn't say it was a bad second half; I would have no trouble saying it was disappointing. They took what should have been the great story element of fleshing out Otoha's history and turned it in to one of the most ludicrously over the top segments I've seen in an anime. It was just ripe with cliche after cliche and pointless plot bits that just felt like needless elements of fanservice aimed at certain niche groups. Luckily after that it gets back on track, but even then a number of characters felt wasted and even the final confrontation came off a bit weak. The second half just doesn't do the build up of the first half any justice unfortunately. It's still worth the watch, but it's just not the great contender I originally thought it would be thanks to the conclusion.

CHARACTERS: There was a lot of build up with characters in the first half and what all their roles would be in the series. Unfortunately, as I mentioned previously, quite a few characters felt completely wasted and the development they focused on, Otoha's, was just laughably bad and hardly worth watching. The female Karas wasn't enough of a factor to warrant the screentime and build up she had received in the first half. Several other characters deaths seemed rushed and wasteful. Even what happened with the villains felt like a stunt just to remove them and rush the final battle along.

VIDEO: The quality of the first half was great, and while the second half still had pretty good quality, it also seemed to have small changes to a number of visual elements and character designs. There were some noticeable quality drops, shortcuts and framerate issues in the later portion of the second half as well. The character designs were still quite impressive, especially with the Karas' themselves, although there were some noticeable minor changes with some characters between first and second half. Unfortunately the best part visually was the very beginning of the series and it just goes downhill from there. The second half hardly even has any action elements at all that hold a candle to what is seen in the first.

AUDIO: The soundtrack to the series is great and the cast they got was, for the most part, well chosen. Sadly even the audio doesn't survive the transition from first half to second half unscathed. The music quality remains as it was in the first half, but the voice acting for both the sub and the dub tends to be inconsistent at times. This is especially noticeable with some cast changes between the first and second half; likely due to the huge length of time between the two releases.

OVERALL: It's not a bad series overall, but it takes a huge dive in the second half. I initially rated it excellent but had to drop the rating after viewing the conclusion. I even liked the ending to it, but sadly a lot of what led up to the ending in the second half just didn't deliver as it could/should have. I feel that if they had removed the ridiculous Otoha back story and more effectively used that time to progress the overall story, it could have at least avoided feeling like a disappointment. The audio/video problems aren't quite as significant and could be overlooked, but the downward spiral of the story and what the climax offered simply couldn't be ignored.

Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) Very good

STORY: Truly just a fun classic from the good people at Ghibli. This is one of their less action oriented movies, which pretty much just tells the story of a young witch learning to live as a witch on her own in the big city and the trials she encounters in that time. It can be slow at times and doesn't always feel properly paced, but for the most part it's very well done and is still a charming story.

CHARACTERS: Character development is the key in this movie and is done exceptionally well. You really do care about Kiki as the story progresses and feel for her when things aren't looking so good. It's a very heartfelt story with her emotions and struggles taking center stage, which couldn't work any better since her growing up on her own is the focus of this movie.

VIDEO: The animation is great of course as is pretty much expected from a Ghibli production. The transfer on this DVD release might not quite be as great as others but it isn't all that obvious and is still well up to current standards. Ghibli's distinctive style and attention to detail is once again very obvious from the scenery to character art.

AUDIO: I think Phil Hartman, Kirsten Dunst and Matt Lawrence were perfect leads and did a superb job with the voices in this anime with the supporting cast doing pretty well themselves. The opening and closing soundtrack isn't too bad, although I'm rather sure those aren't the songs that accompanied the original release, but I honestly have only seen the Disney release. The rest of the soundtrack is appropriate for the atmosphere and period and does really well in adding to the feel of the movie.

OVERALL: While I wouldn't call it Ghibli's greatest piece, I'd definitely say it's yet another demonstration of their quality and detail to both the story and the art. It could prove to be a little boring at times but it tells a wonderful story and does a top notch job immersing the viewer in the setting and making them care for the main character. I would rate it just shy of excellent, only dropping it under because the pacing seemed off at times, which tends to make it feel a little slow in the middle.

Kino's Journey (TV) Excellent

STORY: This is definitely one very intriguing and interesting series. When I first heard about it, a story about a traveler and her talking motorcycle, I must admit I was extremely skeptical. I kept seeing and reading more and more about this series and I began to notice that I never seemed to hear anything bad, so I knew there had to be more to it, so I gave it a shot and I sure am glad I did. This story is amazing in the fact that from episode to episode it plays on the extremes of human nature and society, acting as a sort of commentary on the real world while never feeling too much like one. Another plus about the series is that it can also be rather unpredictable at times, like the ending in which I was certain from the start of the 13th episode that things would go full circle and Kino would die so Lily(Sakura) would take her place as the new Kino. I was flat out wrong though and must say I was happy being wrong this time around. A few episodes could have been paced a little better, and a few others could get confusing at times, but for the most part it's a terrific series with a heck of a unique and wonderful story.

CHARACTERS: Kino has a terrific attitude and personality and is one of the more dynamic protagonists I've encountered in an anime. While Hermes isn't the most interesting of sidekicks, she serves her purpose well as a sort of conscience and voice of reason for Kino, not to mention someone to have some dialog with as throughout much of the series it's just the two of them. Most every supporting character, while only present a short while, has a good deal of depth and personality to them, for a supporting character, which makes sense since this series is driven by the cultures and people Kino meets.

VIDEO: The artwork is very well done and the character design is effective. There were a few instances where a character would be introduced who looked very similar to another already met in another episode, but that's a minor problem at best and one that never had a great deal of impact to me. The action in the series is very well done, although admittedly there's not a whole lot of action. What action there is however was done very well. The landscape and architecture is also nicely done, and the detail put into each scene really adds to the feel of the show. The only thing I didn't understand were the lines across the screen, which I thought was a glitch but soon found out was intentional. While they didn't bother me, I still am not to sure on exactly what their intentions with them were.

AUDIO: The voice acting in the series is pretty good in both languages, a few minor characters here and there may have had weak performances but the acting was great pretty much everywhere else and most importantly when it mattered. The opening and ending songs are pretty good, but there's not a whole lot in the way of music throughout the rest of the series.

OVERALL: My only real complaint about this series is that it is so short and that a few episodes could be confusing at times. It's a slower paced series and doesn't have a lot of action, but it is still very engaging with a definite message in each and every episode. Although it can be a little sad at times and it isn't exactly a happy go lucky series, it is still very effective and powerful and certainly is an anime I'd recommend in a heartbeat.

Last Exile (TV) Excellent

STORY: Great story, atmosphere and overall feel in this series, although at times the story really feels like it could be explained a little better. I'm just a big fan of flight and ships and to see them incorporated in an anime that adapts it to one of my favorite genres, steam punk, was just quite a treat for me. The story did get bogged down at times in the middle when needless romances started to pop around every corner, which just felt completely out of place to me. There was also a lack of explanations for certain key elements which could lead some people to be a bit confused. Otherwise the story was great and really supplied the viewer with a large array of episodes from aerial battles to ship races. Only part that could have been better about the story is how well it was told at times.

CHARACTERS: The character development was pretty good across the board, although some of the development over the course of the series actually felt excessive and needless. The one character that could have used more work was Alvis herself, as there just wasn't a whole lot in the way of explanations about her past and exactly why she inherited the role she had. I mean, she wasn't completely undeveloped, but it just didn't go into it enough to satisfy her dominant place in the story.

VIDEO: The CG and cel elements of the anime worked well together, although not flawlessly. There are certainly points in the anime that looked very weak compared to the great visuals throughout the rest of the series. Most noticeable were the engines of the vanships which are often shown as static when you know from other closer shots of them throughout the series that they actually move. There's a few other portions, mainly during flight sequences, where the vanships are just too static for the action on the screen as though a still photo of one was just being dragged across a landscape to simulate the movement. Otherwise the visuals are great and the CG work was very well done, especially the clouds and smoke. For the most part I'd say the animation and design is high end, but it does have those inconsistent moments where the quality just seems to drop noticeably.

AUDIO: The voice acting was typically very well done in the dub, although sometimes Johnny Yong Bosch just felt inconsistent as Claus, sounding great in some scenes and flat in others. Michelle Ruff's voice for Alvis also didn't seem to really fit, but her performance otherwise was pretty good. I wouldn't say any of the acting was really bad though and the rest of the voice cast more than makes up for those few weaker performances. The soundtrack is also terrific and a lot of it could almost qualify as a movie score, not to mention the style of it really reflects the militaristic aspects of the series.

OVERALL: Despite its faults, I just loved the story and the overall feel of this anime from the music to the design to the characters. It wasn't perfect, but what it did exceptionally well was more than enough in my eyes to outwiegh the faults significantly. This is certainly one of my favorite anime due to its unique story and story elements to dynamic cast and beautiful art style. The story might be difficult to understand, but once you do it all comes together nicely. I simply recommend reading your DVD inserts and maybe checking out some fansites to help fill in the holes in the story.

Lensman (movie) Not really good

STORY: The story here is really rather bland and unoriginal. Basically you have the typical hero character that inherits the power to defeat the enemy and is chased around the galaxy until the typical final confrontation. The worst part is the villains are so horrible it's almost amazing they don't defeat themselves first. It's like all the sappy elements of Star Wars without anything that made Star Wars a great trilogy.

CHARACTERS: They're alright, but nothing to praise as far as the main good guys go. The villains, as I mentioned earlier, are horrible in both how they operate and their overall design. The characters personalities though are just completely cliche and pretty much typical for this typical sci-fi story.

VIDEO: A lot of the animation is pretty decent for its age, but I can barely stand the character art and that aspect of the animation definitely shows its age. The action animation isn't too bad and there's no really poor or jerky animation either. The different landscapes tend to be hit or miss, some looking great and others were just plain poor.

AUDIO: There's a lot of cheese here, from voices to dialog to sound effects and music, there's just not a whole lot of elements about the audio for this movie that I'd say are good.

OVERALL: Not great today, nor was it in its day, although it's okay enough to warrant watching it if you're bored. The story just isn't all that engaging and the villains are laughable to the point it's hard to take them seriously. Matter of fact it would be impossible to take them seriously if not for the fact the characters you can take seriously are so obviously afraid of them. If you can get past its many faults it might just be entertaining enough to fill a boring afternoon, but other than that it isn't worth much. I have to give it credit though, this is one of the first movies I watched and enjoyed that I actually knew it was anime when I watched it. It hasn't aged well and I've grown up since then so it just doesn't really work all that well any longer.

Metropolis (movie) Decent

STORY: It was an interesting story with a common theme but it was just a little too common for my tastes. I just found a good deal of this film to be completely uninteresting. The story just never developed to a point I actually felt interested in it and the fact it was such a basic plot didn't help matters any.

CHARACTERS: There's the most basic set of characters here, while Tima may be of some interest, the rest are all pretty much the shake and bake crew you come to expect. They all had their moments, sure, but I just don't feel like they ever actually deviated from the generic style they were obviously built around.

VIDEO: The animation was very well done and a lot of the scenery was unique and portrayed the environment very well. I'm not to fond of the character designs myself, but I recognize and appreciate the style, it's just not really my cup of tea.

AUDIO: The voice acting isn't too bad at all, some are great and others are mediocre, but there's no really bad performances. The music really isn't anything special, it lends itself to the scene but isn't really memorable by any means. The effects don't always seem to work with the voices, often sounding muffled in comparison but not significantly and not in every scene, but it is noticeable in some instances.

OVERALL: While the video was rather impressive, I just couldn't get into the characters from their personalities to their design. The story also failed to really draw me in and I found myself distracted far too often during the movie as it simply wasn't engaging. I can see why others like it and I wouldn't say it was bad, I would just say it didn't draw me in so I found it rather bland.

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz Special Edition (movie) Good

STORY: The story is actually somewhat ludicrous. As great as a utopian warless society is it would be absolutely ridiculous to actually think that no one would secretly develop weapons and try to take over. Considering the war ended only a year before it seems a bit unrealistic as well that the world would suddenly have no weapons and some colony could build up a massive army and no one would have any idea. There's also some continuity problems between the show and the movie that will be very obvious to fans of the series.

CHARACTERS: Much like the series, the characters are really rather uninteresting and they don't get any more development here either. I guess they don't really need to be interesting for the movie and series to work but a little something more would be nice. We do get a little backstory, but not enough to really make the characters feel established, although Hiro does get a small bit of interesting development.

VIDEO: The animation in this movie is really quite good and the details are spectacular, much better than the series and the battles are worth the watch alone. Don't watch the OAV though, the movie is far far better as it has alot more to it. A lot of the OAV feels rushed and is missing scenes I didn't feel should have been cut.

AUDIO: The music isn't bad, the sound effects aren't too great though, much the same as the actual series. The voice acting is decent but I wouldn't give anyone any awards for it and there's a lot of cliche lines and other lines which just sound stupid, but not as bad as the TV series which was notorious for having a pretty sad script at times.

OVERALL: It's a good movie for some good action sequences but the story is less than impressive and the characters are as poorly established in the movie as they are in the series. It's also full of cliche's and ridiculous dialog that just add to the effects of the poor story. All in all it's good for the action but little else.

Mushi-Shi (TV) Masterpiece

STORY: This series is of an episodic nature, so there isn't really a single story but rather 20+ individual stories. It works perfectly though as it allows for a sense of diversity that only benefits the slower and more thoughtful style of the series. For the best comparison I'd say think of "Kino's Journey", for those that may have seen that title. Each story is quite interesting and completely self contained. Some are sad or bittersweet, while others end on a positive note.

CHARACTERS: The only real recurring character is Ginko himself. The series doesn't suffer as a result of this in the least, as Ginko is an interesting and layered character that carries the series quite well. There are a few other characters that show up in several episodes and are developed enough to work well in those minor roles. My only real gripe is that the character designs between different episodes tend to be quite similar, making it appear that you're seeing a character you saw from a previous episode again when it is actually a new character. The characters are all generally as well fleshed out and unique in their personality to make each episode interesting and to make you actually care for them, despite only seeing them this one time. The Mushi themselves are also pretty well developed, which is part of what keeps each episode interesting since the Mushi and what they do is the very basis of the storylines presented in the series. A lot of though was put in to this series and developing the characters involved, even the Mushi, and it really shows.

VIDEO: The animation itself is pretty standard, or even somewhat above standard. It's not going to win any animation awards, but there's no glaringly obvious shortcuts taking place or obvious moments or episodes of lower quality. Of course, the anime doesn't have much action or fast movement or anything that really puts the animation to the test, so it can be hard to gauge at times. The art in the series is absolutely gorgeous though and the diversity between locations seen between episodes is quite impressive. The variety with the Mushi themselves is also very well done in their appearance, giving them great diversity in not only what they do but how they are presented to those who can see them (including the audience).

AUDIO: The music is very soft and soothing and it really fits in perfectly with the series. I loved the music and it never seemed to feel awkward in a scene or feel even slightly out of place. The voice acting was also very well done, especially Travis' performance as Ginko in the dub. I honestly don't think they could have found an actor better suited for the role. He nailed Ginko's personality and the subtleties of his character perfectly. I never really noticed any poor portrayals in the series with either the sub or the dub either, instead noticing quite a few notably well done voice acting jobs.

OVERALL: This is an amazing series. It's beautiful in its artistry on both an audio and visual level and even in the stories it tells. These aren't stories of some great struggle or of wars or violence but rather of humanities life with nature; a nature that we can not see or understand. It's like an anime version of the show "Supernatural" or "X-Files", but instead deals with forces that are not really malicious but rather just another form of life that inadvertently effects the people around it. It does lack action and fan service and other elements of that nature that might draw in some, so if those are what you seek in a series then this one will likely bore you. It's a thoughtful, almost poetic series, and should be appreciated as such. If that's not your cup of tea then it probably will not interest you. If that sounds interesting, give it a shot, I can't imagine you'll be disappointed.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Excellent

STORY: Another impressive story from the people at Ghibli, and once again it is not just a story with a great deal of depth but a moral lesson as well. This movie has a lot of common elements, as far as its message goes, with one of Ghibli's later films, "Princess Mononoke". Despite the similarities in message, the movies are quite different in setting and storytelling, taking completely different paths from the same or similar theme. The depth and attention put into this film is simply amazing and I would certainly rate this as one of their best works. Nothing really feels underdeveloped and when it's all over you feel satisfied with how it all ended and the story feels complete in all respects.

CHARACTERS: The characters in this anime are very well defined as Ghibli characters so often are, from main character to minor supporting characters. The personalities vary and you get all aspects of human spirit from the good to the bad to the greedy. Many characters seem to have multiple aspects to their personalities and their reactions to the events they're caught up in often are reflected in their behavior in a very realistic fashion; a level of character depth that Ghibli does so well.

VIDEO: Considering how long ago this was made, the animation is really quite superb and the art style is fantastic. Most of the anime has a very hand painted look that often reminded me of the look some American titles of much the same vintage would have, like the "The Secret of Nimh". While the animation and subject matter does vary greatly, it's the style of the art that I find very similar and that's no bad thing. The animation is smooth and the characters are well designed and animated. Even after decades this title proves that modern techniques don't ensure the highest of quality and even a movie so aged can still compare.

AUDIO: The sound does seem to be a little muffled, but considering the time this was made that is really of no big surprise. The dub work is quite well done and I certainly recommend giving it a shot. By todays standards the sound really isn't up to par, but one must consider the age and I'd say for the time it was fine. The music is quite good, although there isn't a lot of it in this title, and the voice work on both sides is very well done.

OVERALL: This is indeed a classic in the anime realm and I couldn't imagine an anime collection without it. I love the animation and art style and the voice work as well, although it does seem to lack a significant soundtrack. The music that is in the film though does its job well though. The sound effects and voices don't sound all that good but that can be attributed to its age so it is forgivable. While the dub is definitely newer, they didn't dub it in a fashion that the new voicework would overpower the old sounds so rather than trying to upconvert old sounds to match new voices like is so often done and doesn't work too well, they seemed to have opted to downconvert the new voices to match the old sound which works better in my opinion. Overall this is a great title and a classic and belongs in anyones anime library.

Oban Star-Racers (TV) Very good
Origin ~Spirits of the Past~ (movie) Good

STORY: What you have here is a good story and a good concept, ... in theory. Unfortunately in practice what you end up with is a lot of lost potential. It's a 90 minute movie that moves at a decent pace and develops well through the first half, but then the second half shows up and it becomes a complete mess. Components of development are lost and characters go from significant roles to basically no role at all between the first and second half. The story still works, it's coherent, but its pacing is way off and basically feels like a 2 to 2 and a half hour movie that they compressed to 90 minutes. This movie would have probably worked quite well had it been 30 to 60 minutes longer.

CHARACTERS: This title develops a number of characters fairly well in the first half, but as mentioned earlier, it forgets a number of them in the second half. My main issue was that the characters it left behind were far more interesting than those the film revolved around. Some of the developments even make you feel a little sorry for one of these forgotten characters who is not only forgotten by the movie itself but by the main character as well. Sadly it is the characters who suffered the most from the films poor pacing.

VIDEO: The animation in this film is really quite good and the details are very well done. What this film lacks in story it at least partially makes up for in animation. I've seen smoother or more realistic animation and there's a few sections, primarily in earlier portion of the film, where the characters interaction with the environment just doesn't seem right. For the most part however, the animation is really well done and is very fluid. Even the static components of artwork are well portrayed and detailed, it really can be an impressive movie visually.

AUDIO: The voice acting portion of the films audio is pretty good on both sides. As far as the dub goes, it has very strong performances from Carrie Savage, Laura Bailey and Chris Patton and all around good performances from the rest. Sadly Laura's character, who has one of the best performances in the series, is one of those that is forgotten about halfway through, but she really shines during her limited screen time. The music is good at the very start and at the very ending, however everything in between is forgettable and I found the soundtrack overall to be rather lacking in effect and a little too strong in presence.

OVERALL: This is a "good" film, it is still enjoyable to watch and it certainly has its moments. The problem is this could have easily been a great film, but the potential was lost by trying to fit too much in to a small period of time. I'm convinced that had the movie been longer it could have realized its potential and I think it was meant to be longer, which seems to be the case due to the fact the film progresses at a normal pace for the first half and then rushes to the end in the last half. With a good cast and a decent story that was just poorly realized, this film still makes itself worth seeing at least one time. Something else worth noting however is the distinct lack of any extra's which is a bit uncharacteristic for Funimation. Although apparently there's another release coming out with a lot of extra features, so it would seem Funimation decided to double-dip on this one. All in all I'd say it's a good rental movie but unless you're just looking to add to your collection there's better movies out there if you're looking for a good buy.

(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie) Very good

STORY: The story of this anime is really interesting and unique and I was intrigued from start to finish. This proved to be an even more good thing than usual though as the story was pretty slow going as well and if it hadn't been as good of a story I may have lost interest early on. I'm not so sure about the ending though, it was sad to see Sayuri realize she loved Hiroki only to finally awaken and lose that memory. I tend to believe they would have realized this anyways based on Hiroki's final line and the fact that he still felt the way he did but it really doesn't say for sure at the end.

CHARACTERS: I loved the character development in the show and the unique personalities each character had, even supporting cast. I wasn't to fond of the Takuya character, but when you have differing personalities in your cast there's always bound to be characters you dislike. All the characters that mattered were developed though, perhaps a little too well as a lot of that development was what caused so much of the story to feel rather slow.

VIDEO: The animation is superb and the scenery and landscape is very detailed and well done, some of the best I've seen. On top of all that the animation is also very smooth and looks very natural, even in the few action sequences. The character art is also quite realistic and shows a great deal of attention to detail, right on down to their clothing.

AUDIO: The soundtrack is terrific I felt and is one of the strong points of this title, very mellow and appropriately dominated by the violin. The voice acting was very good and I felt and Jessica Boone did a terrific job with Sayuri. Everything was blended almost perfectly and at no point did any audio elements ever seem to even slightly overpower another unless it was supposed to; such as with gunfire.

OVERALL: The attention to the detail and getting things as close to perfect is truly evident in this title and really shows that it seems to be a labor of love for Shinkai. It truly is a beautiful piece that really only suffers from various story problems such as pacing and very minor plot problems. It wrapped up nicely, although I wish the ending had a bit more solidarity to it but that's a common wish with anime as a lot of it tends to have pretty loose endings. Ultimately though it's a wonderful movie with a lot of detail and devotion obviously put into it and well worth seeing.

Pokémon 2000 - The Movie (movie 2) Very good

STORY: One of my favorites from the Pokemon franchise, it not only brings an interesting villain into the mix but brings in three major Pokemon that most fans of the game will be familiar with. This is a very active and interesting story with a definite message behind it and is actually my favorite of the Pokemon movies.

CHARACTERS: There's some definite character growth this time around between Misty and Ash, growth which sadly never actually goes anywhere as far as I've seen after this movie. I'm not a big fan of Tracey, but his role in the film was pretty minor anyways and the added support character of Melody has an interesting enough personality for a Pokemon character.

VIDEO: The animation in this one was a notch above that of the first movie I'd say, and the artwork is impressive, especially involving the airship. There was some obvious CG used but it actually works well, and the action sequences are quite well done. This is probably the most well animated of the Pokemon movies and, while it's no Ghibli film, it is certainly a well done piece considering its franchise and the genre. This one also has some great artwork that rolls with the credits like the 1st movie did that makes the credits worth watching through.

AUDIO: Another great soundtrack done for this one that is pretty much up to par with the soundtrack in the first movie. The voice acting is pretty much on par with the rest of the Pokemon movies and episodes and I'd say Amy Birnbaum's voicework done for Melody is some of the better voice acting I've heard for a supporting character in a Pokemon title.

OVERALL: It may just be a Pokemon movie, but in my humble opinion it is the best of them; and while they're not for everyone, I certainly recommend this one for anyone that likes the series. The story is the most interesting and the Pokemon involved are mostly not of the "mysterious super pokemon" type seen in other franchise films aside from Lugia who doesn't seem all that powerful himself. The soundtrack is great and the message and feel of the movie is wonderful. It is still just a Pokemon movie and suffers from a lot of the story and pacing problems of the others, but overall it is still a great film for those not turned off by the fact it's a kids movie.

Pokémon 3 - The Movie (movie 3) Good

STORY: I feel that with this movie the franchise began to fall apart as far as its feature length releases started to go. The story just wasn't all that interesting and engaging, and the action wasn't very impressive. While the atmosphere was interesting I just don't feel that the new pokemon or added characters were really very interesting.

CHARACTERS: The same old crew is here and they're all their usual selves, although this time around Ash's mom actually gets a little development of her own. Lisa wasn't a bad supporting character herself, and while she didn't get involved in the story much, she did well for the scenes she was in. The problem I had here was that Molly and the Unown weren't likable at all and I actually found Molly to be rather irritating. The Unown are just there to support the events that lead to the problems and, aside from being a floating alphabet, they really seem pointless and the reason they even appeared to begin with isn't even hinted at. Molly is really an annoying character and I could hardly even stand her, and her actions hardly seemed logical for her situation and that made it hard to get into the story at times.

VIDEO: The animation in this one is pretty much at the level of the prior 2 theatrical releases, and most of the action is pretty well done. The atmosphere and landscapes are rather impressive and well done and as far as the visuals go I'd say this film does almost as well as its predecessors in this department.

AUDIO: The music in this volume isn't quite as good as the score in the previous two movies but is still a generally unique and decent score, although this time they took a more modern approach and less of an orchestrated approach. The voice acting is all done as well as is expected from a Pokemon title and I really don't have any complaints there.

OVERALL: It's not a bad movie, but it certainly has its flaws. From unlikeable characters that you're supposed to like, even pity, to a plot that kind of seems like nonsense. The action isn't too bad and Entei is a decent addition, although I wouldn't say a great addition. They try to do some plot twists this time around, and while they do work I don't think they work quite to the level most would have liked. I'd say if you're a Pokemon fan you'd probably enjoy it, but otherwise it's one that could be skipped.

Pokémon 4Ever (movie 4) Good

STORY: The story for this one wasn't all that bad, but it was also slow going. Not too sure what I think about the whole time traveling thing, although it is just a kids show so practical and realistic stories aren't exactly a required part of the formula. It wasn't a bad movie though and I'd say it was actually a little better than the 3rd movie. One thing I did like about the time travel aspect was the look at more old school Pokemon gear that Sammy had as opposed to the modern gear we're used to seeing now.

CHARACTERS: Same old characters with a rather generic villain and a decent supporting addition. Sammy didn't get a whole lot of development, nor did the villain, and the main characters don't see much themselves either. The only real character development comes at the very end, which works, although it makes the story feel rather pointless. The other downside is there's not many new Pokemon introduced this time around and with only a couple of added characters there's not much new as far as characters go here.

VIDEO: The animation quality has dropped some since the last movie but I'd say it's still well above that of the series and above the movies that followed this release. There's not a lot of action this time though, although the scenery is well done and the action there is at the end is pretty well done.

AUDIO: The soundtracks are beginning to get a bit generic at this point, but there's still some more original music here and there. The voice acting is pretty much what you expect from the Pokemon cast which unfortunately includes a rather generic sounding villain.

OVERALL: At this point it's obvious the movies are moving towards the DVD releases and lower quality, but it's still not a bad movie by any stretch and I would say it was at least a little better than the last. I'd still recommend it though for fans of Pokemon as I see the first 4 as the true movies and everything after more like long episodes. This is no first movie or 2000 but it's still pretty good.

Pokémon Heroes - Latias & Latios (movie 5) So-so

STORY: This story seems to jump all over the place and just doesn't seem cohesive or paced well at all. The story itself had potential, but it just felt poorly written with some unfortunate pacing problems. This is easily the weakest of the Pokemon movies released in the U.S. and is one I'd suggest skipping unless you're a fan that just has to see them all.

CHARACTERS: The villains this time around are just plain annoying and the main Pokemon, Latias and Latios, aren't interesting either. The cast is pretty much as we've come to know them and there's no real development or movement with the major players. All in all, as far as the characters go, this one is a pretty big disappointment.

VIDEO: Could have been worse, could have been better, it's not like the series but it's certainly not the movies either. Some of the CG seems very out of place and, while the backdrop does look pretty nice, it does get redundant as the scenery never really changes.

AUDIO: Standard characters and plain cast additions for the movie with a pretty generic Pokemon soundtrack at this point. Nothing more really to say here, it was just pretty much "meh."

OVERALL: This feature just seemed sloppy and, while it did start off well, it just couldn't seem to keep it interesting. The villains were irritating and the new Pokemon were bland and the story just never seemed to move at a standard pace. To me it just felt like this was a movie they made because they needed a movie but didn't have any ideas for one. While most Pokemon episodes and movies don't deviate far from their standard formula, this particular release seemed generic even by those standards.

Pokémon: Destiny Deoxys (movie 7) Good

STORY: A definite improvement from the features before it. This title feels more like a long episode of the anime, rather than a movie. While that is bad in a sense, it cane also be good in another sense. The story has decent pacing, although it sticks to the tired "super uber Pokemon came out of nowhere" storyline which is getting a little old at this point. The storytelling is definitely better than the past few movies, but still not quite up to par with the first two.

CHARACTERS: The characters are well established so little development is required. The new characters introduced for this title have sufficient enough development for their roles, although none of them really stand out as being an original character concept for this series.

VIDEO: The animation is on par with the other DVD released movies, which is comparatively somewhat above that of the television series. There's a good deal of action in this volume though and, while it isn't animated to the degree we saw in the theatrical releases, it is done well enough though for a Pokemon movie.

AUDIO: Typical Pokemon soundtrack and typical voicework, really nothing special or of note here. The voices aren't bad, but the music is redundant

OVERALL: Good to see they're trying a little harder after the last few releases felt a little on the weak side as far as their stories went. I pretty much doubt though that anything of the caliber of the 1st two releases will ever be seen from this franchise again unfortunately.

Pokémon: Jirachi Wish Maker (movie 6) Good

STORY: Somewhat of a slow story and somewhat uninteresting, and it feels almost like it could have just been a set of episodes that is trying to be a movie. It isn't completely uninteresting though and it gives a chance for some other characters to shine this time around, which was an interesting enough change. I didn't think it was too bad in the end and was certainly better than "Heroes" was.

CHARACTERS: Same old characters and same old character styles for new cast members. No major development going on, although this time around May and Max get some chance at some development, which really helps keep things interesting. Although I must admit I'm not all that fond of the Max character.

VIDEO: Pretty much your standard Pokemon video release movie, not quite as great as the theatrical movies but still noticeably better than the series itself. I wouldn't really say anything about it was impressive to any great degree, though and it was more or less average for a Pokemon flick.

AUDIO: Same old Pokemon crew, same old music, really nothing new to add here.

OVERALL: Definetely better than "Heroes", but still a long ways to go to reach the level of the original movies. Still good to see the franchise take a step up from the sinkhole of "Heroes" though, as I feared it'd die after that one.

Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns (special) Good

STORY: I admit I wasn't to fond of the story for this one. It was interesting, but I personally felt the first movie ended just fine and that this sequel would really detract from that movies ending. In the end it still ended up being a decent release and the ending was still a good ending, although I just prefer the finality of the original movie over this continuation.

CHARACTERS: Same general crew, although this time Giovanni himself has a hand in the plot, along with some of his special agents. The primary cast is all here as their usual selves and Mewtwo returns, although this time around they kind of play him to be somewhat of a powerless wuss, which is a far cry from the pokemon that almost destroyed the entire world in the first movie.

VIDEO: There is a definite drop in quality here, which is really to be expected since this is a DVD direct release rather than a theatrical release like its predecessor. It still is an improvement over the actual series though and is plenty sufficient for the franchise.

AUDIO: Usual voice acting crew here, nothing really new or great to add as no added characters were interesting enough to note aside from Domino, whose actress did a decent enough job for. The soundtrack is pretty much the exact same as the soundtrack in the first movie; although good, I would have liked it more if they used some original music rather than reusing the exact same soundtrack.

OVERALL: Overall it was a good sequel that really didn't need to exist. While I was content with how they ended this story here, I was happier with the original ending and would rather they had just left it be. I didn't like how they diminished the personalities of the clones and the strength of Mewtwo from the original as well. In the end it was good to watch for a Pokemon movie, I just didn't feel it was a necessary movie.

Pokémon: The First Movie (movie 1) Very good

STORY: I loved the story for this movie and I just felt it was paced very well with plenty of story, background and action. Not to mention it revolved around 2 well known pokemon from the games rather than inventing its own new super pokemon just for the sake of the story.

CHARACTERS: The characters are pretty standard for Pokemon, you've got the usual crew and a few other minor players. The only other major characters outside the primary crew though was Mew and Mewtwo themselves. Both Mew and Mewtwo were well defined and got enough insight into their personalities to understand how they thought and why. Although Mewtwo's angst felt a little overdramatic at times, it was by no means intolerable.

VIDEO: The animation was pretty well done as far as action goes, although the final battle had some noticeable drops in quality. The layout and landscape was well done as well and it had a definite almost haunted house style atmosphere to much of it which gave it a fairly unique feel.

AUDIO: The voice acting is pretty much the standard here and there is really no major difference from the show. Phil did a great job as Mewtwo though and handled his emotion very well. The score in this movie really shines as well and I was actually very impressed by this soundtrack and would suggest purchasing it if you can actually find the score, which is by no means an easy find. Watch out for the soundtrack for the movie though as the actual soundtrack often found in stores has a bunch of pop songs that aren't even in the movie, the score itself is actually on another CD specifically labeled as the score.

OVERALL: Although I did find 2000 to be a slightly better movie, I wouldn't say by much. This movie certainly comes close to 2000 though and certainly has a lesson to teach of its own. For any fans of Pokemon or kids movies this is certainly worth a watch and can even be enjoyed by people who aren't even necessarily fans.

(Le) Portrait de Petite Cossette (OAV) Very good

STORY: Ahh, here we go, another one of those controversial titles that people either love or hate. The story is the main reason for the arguments surrounding this title, or more to the point, the missing links in the story. Basically this title can be incredibly confusing and I honestly think people need to see it at least twice to accurately judge it. A lot of aspects of the story just aren't explained well and require you to really think about the events to start to understand exactly what is happening and why. Even after seeing it once through it still takes a bit of thought to truly digest it entirely, and even then it can leave an array of questions. So if you're not fond of a story that takes some thought to comprehend and don't like stories that don't lay everything out for you then you may indeed hate this title and I would completely understand if that were the case. Another difficult aspect of this title is the "loli" nature of it, or rather the fact the main character has fallen in love with the ghost of a girl who is a good deal younger. There's nothing pornographic or sexual in the show, there are a few depictions of Cossette in provocative poses, especially in the 3rd episode, but otherwise if you can get past that it's really a good series.

CHARACTERS: The main characters, Eiri and Cossette, were quite well defined with a good deal of attention and depth put into them. They each have varying layers of personality and of course, as we find out later, there are in fact 2 versions of Cossette. Despite the strengths of the main characters however, the supporting characters are a different matter entirely. Basically every other character in the anime is borderline useless and really only show that Eiri knew other people, their parts in the story is minimal at best. The rest of the cast is just completely underdeveloped that it almost leads you to question why the producer even bothered to put them in the anime in the first place.

VIDEO: The video is quite impressive and it is the style in which it is done that really makes this anime stand out. From the sequences that use a scratched, shaky film style to the eerie CG sequences, there's just alot of aspects to the series that really reflect how the artists used certain styles to portray moods and atmospheres. Some of the CG worked great while others looked overly fabricated, but overall they portrayed the atmosphere they were meant to portray effectively. The action and movement is done rather well; of course there's not a whole lot of action to animate, but what there is was done effectively. In the end though it is the style in this anime that really makes it stand out.

AUDIO: The voicework is well done, the one major flaw being the credits don't really tell you who did what. I have my guesses, though I don't necessarily trust the guesses to label them as fact, even if ANN's encyclopedia agree's, simply because I wonder if those who submitted those names were just guessing as well. The real treat is the soundtrack though, and the ambient effects which were both used along with the visuals to do an A+ job of conveying the dark atmosphere and feel of this title.

OVERALL: I can understand both sides of the argument on this title, but I weigh in on the side in favor of it. While I admit this title certainly isn't for everyone, I'd even venture to say it's not for your average anime fan. I still see it as a great title that just had so many aspects done very well which managed to efficiently portray such difficult subject matter and give it a unique atmosphere. It may get boring for some with the lack of action and may confuse others with the hard to follow story. The loli element might also turn away others, and on top of that the unique visual styles may turn detract from the viewers enjoyment of the series. In the end though, I personally enjoyed this title and I'd at least say give it a shot if you can see past the negative elements.

Princess Mononoke (movie) Excellent

STORY: A classic story and a must see anime as far as I'm concerned. Not only do we get plenty of character development, but we also get an engaging story with a good deal of action and a valuable lesson to teach. This is a fantasy story in just about every way with monsters and beasts and demons and even gods, but through that all it still manages to hit close to home and bring to light mankinds unfortunate constant battle against nature.

CHARACTERS: As Ghibli always does so well, the characters here get plenty of development and you really get a chance to know and understand the personality of even some of the lesser characters in the story. The cast of characters here is no small thing either but they certainly don't fail at keeping each character fresh and developed with a realistic layered personality for most of them.

VIDEO: This film has superb animation and certainly is a great demonstration of just what can be accomplished given enough effort. There's really no noticeable corners cut and each scene is very finely detailed to be both believable and beautiful. The only spot in the film I really noticed a lack of quality was the battle scene with the boars, although I can't say for sure if the style used there was intentional or just a low budget sequence. I found it less immersive myself, but I can certainly see how it could be seen as having a certain artistic quality to it rather than just a lack of quality.

AUDIO: A lot of people didn't like the dub but I thought it was great myself. I especially enjoyed Claire Danes performance as San and think she really shined in the dub. The rest of the cast did good as well, even Billy Bob Thornton whom I was seriously skeptical about. His accent may not have been ideal for most, but his range and emotion was well performed and he just portrayed the attitude of Jigo so well. The soundtrack is also one of the best anime feature film soundtracks I've heard. The music portrays the atmosphere and feeling of the movie from start to finish with flawless efficiency and is good enough to just listen to on its own on top of that.

OVERALL: I would say no anime collection is complete without this title and I fully recommend it to anyone. Some may get turned off by the obvious environmental message, but those people are really trying too hard to read into it; but message or not it's still a wonderful and epic tale. I've shown this movie to anime fans and anime haters and most absolutely loved it regardless of how much they like or dislike anime. Of course, there's little need to recommend it as I'm sure there's hardly a soul on this site that hasn't seen this movie by now. I have no doubt this will likely live on to truly be an anime classic.

Record of Lodoss War (OAV) Very good

STORY: Do you know of AD&D? Then you know about "Record of Lodoss War", the parallels are obvious but it doesn't work against Lodoss, it actually works in its favor. The story is interesting and complex enough to keep it on track throughout the series while still providing ample time for character development. Although it is your typical good guys versus bad guys, it does develop further than that as time goes on and keeps it from falling into the pit of completely generic storylines.

CHARACTERS: The primary cast is not small by any means, however there is still plenty of character development for all the characters that matter and plenty of time to toss in some well done romance as well. While none of the characters are significantly unique in style, they are different enough from each other to provide a rather diverse cast so that you're not left with a pack of bland, righteous heroes that all feel like variants of the same theme.

VIDEO: While a lot of aspects of Lodoss are beautiful, primarily the artwork and landscapes and character designs, there are certain aspects which really seem to come up short. The animation quality is very obviously lacking, especially in any major action sequences which somewhat ruins the immersive quality of those scenes. I know the anime isn't exactly the newest, but I've seen plenty of titles of a similar age with far better animation so I know they were capable of it. The story is still told well despite the weaker animation and the overall quality of artwork does work to offset the lack of animation to some degree, it just could have been so much better if the animation was on the same level as the artwork.

AUDIO: A lot of people hate the dub and think the actors did poorly but I'm one of those that disagree. While a lot of supporting actors in the lesser roles weren't all that great, I did find most the main characters to be well done. I especially liked Lisa Ortiz's voicing of Deedlit and the rest of the voice crew seemed to do a fine job, although I wouldn't say any of the rest were truly exceptional. The soundtrack was underplayed but well done otherwise, nothing incredible by any means but it certainly did its job well when it was used and not drowned out by voices and effects.

OVERALL: This is a great fantasy series with a pretty interesting story despite the fact it seems to follow a pretty basic formula. The animation is definitely the weakest point in this title, but the artwork is still rather impressive. This is one of the defining fantasy based titles in anime I believe, although I think "Twelve Kingdoms" has certainly outdone it at this point, but it is certainly worthy of a good deal of the praise it receives despite some of the somewhat justified criticism. The character work and the well told story are what makes this anime as good as it is and although the animation could have been better it's still a very enjoyable title.

Rozen Maiden (TV) Very good

STORY: The story for this title is a pretty interesting one with the incorporation of the dolls to a sort of tournament style plotline; although that part mostly takes a backseat. The episodes that don't focus on the major story are still pretty interesting and fun to watch though, usually taking a more comedic path instead of the serious, and sometimes dark, path the main storyline takes. The story isn't flawless as some elements border on the creepy side, but for the most part it's a great mix of comedy and serious elements.

CHARACTERS: The creators manage to give the dolls pretty interesting and varied personalities. You have your stoic main character doll, Shinku, who remains pretty serious and only really shows emotion in the worst of situations. Then there's the childish and annoying Hina-Ichigo, who is basically the runt and brat of the group. You have Jun, the main human character, whose attitude just makes you want to kick him in the teeth sometimes. Then there's Souseiseki, who you only see for a few episodes, although her role is bigger in the second series I hear. Then there's the highlight of the show, Suiseiseki, whose attitude towards Jun and even the other dolls often involves some of the funniest moments and dialog. The villain is Suigintou, who manages to be a decent villain but really needs so fleshing out, which I'm sure the second series provides. There's a number of minor characters in the series as well like Nori, Jun's sister, and Tomoe who is a classmate of his; they don't add a whole lot to this series however.

VIDEO: The animation quality really isn't anything amazing. It's not low quality, but I'd say it's just around the average mark. The detail on the dolls though is fairly impressive and the quality of the art is more than sufficient. The color palette is also used to maximum effectiveness, which only helps to support the art quality.

AUDIO: The soundtrack really isn't anything impressive and not really something I could see many jumping on anime right away to purchase. The voice acting was very well done though and I was especially fond of Suiseiseki's voice in the dub and how effectively Rebecca read those lines in the dub. The sub is nothing to complain about either with no real weak portrayals that I noticed.

OVERALL: It's not a masterpiece or anything, or even a "must see" for that matter. It is a good series though and worth picking up if you fancy a quick and fun title. Sadly we only get the 1st season right now due to Geneons departure from the region 1 market and there's a lot more story and development in the second season. The first season still stands well on its own, but you do really want to see how things continue on from here by the end of the series. Rent it or pick it up and give it a try if you can, unfortunately with Geneons current status it's hard to say how reasonable a request that is though.

Samurai Champloo (TV) Excellent

STORY: An episodic anime to be sure, but like Bebop that doesn't necessarily work against it. While I personally prefer titles that stick to linear storylines, I can enjoy episodic stories when they're done well. Unlike Bebop, there are constant reminders in Champloo, in nearly every episode, to at least keep the viewer aware of the central story. The stories are a great mix of comedy and action that meld together extremely well. Toss in some hip-hop influence and culture and you definitely get an anime with a unique feel all its own.

CHARACTERS: This is one of this series strongest points, although not in the fashion I usually praise good characters, which is in the development department. What this title has going for it is a unique cast of primary characters and the unique manner in which they interact. It's not the strongest positive, but with the development the series does have it all comes together pretty well.

VIDEO: The art and animation is very well done. The character art, in some cases, takes a bit of getting used to, but all in all it's very well done. The scenery is very well detailed but there isn't a great deal of variety, although given the time period and location that's to be expected.

AUDIO: I'm not a big hip-hop fan, but I have to give them credit for not only bringing in the unique music style where you generally wouldn't think to hear it but also in incorporating the culture surrounding that style. The voice acting is very well done and the script is terrific in both languages.

OVERALL: This is one interesting title. The combination of modern urban culture combined with the days of the samurai in Japan is masterfully done. The stories are well done and the other aspects of the anime combine to make it believable and not overly fabricated, as is an easy trap for any series with two very different cultures thrown together to fall into. The comedy is terrific and the serious stories have a good deal of depth to them, there's just so much variety in this title that it never gets old.

Scrapped Princess (TV) Excellent

STORY: This series really managed to catch me off guard. I must admit after purchasing and watching volume one I wasn't so sure about the show; I mean it was interesting and I did enjoy it ,but I just wasn't sure that there was enough substance to make a full 20+ episode series out of. The second volume proved me wrong though and the show went from "not bad" to "terrific" in just a few episodes, and luckily went strong right up to the end. There's some definite "Matrix" style elements in this series but nothing similar enough to call it a rip-off, especially considering the "Matrix" concept is hardly original in itself. The story really twists and turns to the point it just never gets dull and really comes to an impressive and complete conclusion that doesn't leave you feeling unfulfilled as many series tend to do.

CHARACTERS: The cast of the series is great; from the spoiled yet thoughtful Pacifica to the dopey yet brave knight Leo. Even many minor characters had interesting personalities. The only really weak characters that I really noticed were, Chris and Winia who just never really seemed to evolve or develop significantly over the course of the series, though their roles were still important and their characters were still pretty good. The biggest disappointment was Cin/Cz though, whose character felt like a missed opportunity with plenty of development and wide open possibilities and in the end she was simply disposed of like an afterthought.

VIDEO: The animation and art style is done well for a series, and while some character designs for several of the minor characters were a bit too cliche, the primary cast of characters avoided that trap quite well. The scenery and layout is quite detailed and diverse and there's not a lot of overly apparent shortcuts taken, even in the action. All in all, for a series with a good deal of action, it is more than adequate.

AUDIO: The soundtrack for the series isn't too impressive, but it is noticeable and does carry the atmosphere of the show well. It's not a soundtrack I'd go hunting for on CD but it's not completely "meh" either. The voice acting though, on both sides, is mostly well done with a few weaker performaces scattered about for very minor roles.

OVERALL: This series really does manage to fool you. With the first DVD you're really left wondering whether the series is going to hold your interest for 20 episodes, or even 10, but then once you hit the second DVD you can hardly wait to finish it. While I wouldn't say many aspects of the series were top of the line or the greatest ever I will certainly praise it in the regard that it does just about everything right and doesn't really fail anywhere. It's a terrific and entertaining series that offers plenty for fans of all types and an interesting enough plot to keep even the most rabid critics amused.

Serial Experiments Lain (TV) Excellent

STORY: I have to say that I had heard again and again before I watched this anime that the story was messed up and was difficult to follow and impossible to understand. I do have to say that those warnings were definitely justified, but I was happy to find that it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be. In the end I understood and followed the bulk of the story. Some things didn't always make sense right away, but I could think back to them in later episodes and they seemed to make more sense. I found the story to be really quite interesting and the style in which it was told was quite impressive, even if difficult to follow at times. It had weird moments, and it takes a second viewing to better understand everything that happens in the end, but it was still a great story. If you don't mind a title that really requires you to think while watching it, this is a good one. Don't expect to be able to watch it in the background though, you're going to need to give it your full attention to really understand it.

CHARACTERS: Lain as a character, or characters, was really quite interesting. The layers to her character added an interesting twist and, at times, made it hard to really figure out what Lain it was we were watching. The rest of the characters were pretty standard, nobody really stuck out, but there wasn't really anyone I despised either. The "villains" weren't all that impressive, but in a sense Lain was really her own villain for much of the story, the villains that we see represented are more of a means to cause the events than a true villain.

VIDEO: The animation itself is nothing too amazing. It's certainly not low quality, but it's nothing anyone is going to declare as being one of the great examples of animation; for its day(1998) though, it was actually pretty impressive. The style is where the series really shines. From the muted colors in some scenes to the sense of light in others reminiscent of an overexposed photograph, every scene follows the titles unique style. Some scenes have this effect more than others; for instance the scenes in the school look pretty close to normal, but a lot of the scenes outside would be recognized from a glance by anyone who has seen this title. The use of strange red splotches in the shadows adds to the series unusual style and provides an interesting contrast to the often overexposed sense of light in the illuminated section of the same scenes. A lot of detail was also put in to specific elements as well, especially power lines and Lain's Navi, where as other portions like the school or the rest of Lains house are no more detailed than your average series would be.

AUDIO: The dub is old, and as such it isn't the greatest as dubs were really only beginning to improve around this time. It isn't a bad dub though and it does its job effectively enough. I wouldn't recommend anyone change their viewing habits for this one, if you watch subs then watch the sub, and if you watch dubs you won't really be missing out or disappointed as a result of this dub. The series also uses a lot of ambient sound, especially computer sounds and the sound of the power lines overhead, and there's not a lot of music in the series. The use of silence and simple ambient sounds really works well with the visual style and is quite well done. The closing song didn't impress me much, but the opening song is a great piece and worth watching the intro of each episode just to hear it again.

OVERALL: Yes it's slow, and it's weird and difficult to understand and there's no real action in it either. If that doesn't bother you and you want something truly unusual and thought provoking then I say go for it and pick this one up. It's really an interesting ride and one that will have you thinking about it for some time afterwards. It's not a story that's going to explain itself in too much detail though, so if you really want a series that makes understanding the story easy then this will do nothing but frustrate you. It's a tough one to recommend, since it is so different and undoubtedly many, especially of the ADD generation, would not care for it. If you know what you're getting in to though and that's your kind of series then it's well worth the ride.

Spirited Away (movie) Excellent

STORY: This is most easily described as "Alice in Wonderland" done in an anime style with a very definite Japanese influence. It definitely puts its spin on the story though and manages to tell a very interesting story, although I'd have to say the ending was rather anti-climactic. The best thing about the story is the unique setting and unique characters and that almost every aspect of the world she's in is very much like a fantasy land; from oceans that form overnight to the inhabitants who see humans as unwanted intruders.

CHARACTERS: In this instance Studio Ghibli did not develop the characters aside from Chihiro to any significant degree, but it actually works best that way as it adds to the mysterious nature of the world and its inhabitants. Chihiro is very well developed though and you see a lot of growth in her character over the course of the movie, which is really sort of the whole point of the story; much in the way that "Kiki's Delivery Service" was about how she grew being out on her own. The character designs are fantastic though; with everything from talking frogs to walking shadows wearing a mask to a giant baby, the true art in this film is in the diverse cast.

VIDEO: Great animation, as you expect from a Ghibli film, and very well done action and realistic character art for the humans. Although there isn't a whole lot of changing scenery in this movie, the scenery that is seen is very well done, detailed and nice to look at so you don't really get tired of seeing it. They really went out of their way to take a world based on the real one and turn it into a fantasy world and it really turned out very well.

AUDIO: The soundtrack for this volume isn't bad, but certainly not to the level heard in "Princess Mononoke" and it also seems often drowned out by other aspects of the movie in many scenes. The voice acting is done well, especially Yubaba and Chihiro, although I was generally happy with everyones performances.

OVERALL: This is a great film with a very unique and interesting feel to it. It doesn't have a huge amount of action or anything that might draw in fans of that type of thing, but it does have a fantastic world that is unique and fun, although still serious enough to preserve the story and its depth.

Steamboy (movie) Masterpiece

STORY: No story they say? I completely disagree, this movie has just as much story as many other anime titles that seem to get tons of praise. What it comes down to, I think, is people expected another "Akira" and were disappointed to find this movie is really not like it, which was fine for me because I wasn't much of an "Akira" fan myself. There is a lot of action though and I suppose it's possible it may have drowned out the story for some as the story is not necessarily spelled out for you completely. Not to mention, from what I've been told, the theatrical release had a lot of cut scenes that were important for the story which the DVD edition left intact. I've only seen the DVD edition though and did not see it in theaters, so I'm only going by what I've been told.

CHARACTERS: The primary cast was small, but well defined I felt. Some of the villains had no real development, but all the characters that mattered did and they all had distinct personalities. Ray doesn't see a whole lot of growth from start to finish, but surprisingly enough Scarlett does, while Ray primarily just solidifies his view of right and wrong.

VIDEO: The animation and detail in this anime is wonderful and, while it isn't the most beautiful of settings, it does a great job of using detail and effects to keep even the most drab scenes interesting. The animation is top notch and there's no real apparent shortcuts or obvious weaknesses from start to finish. The character designs are believable and match the era as well as the architecture and landscapes, the detail is really quite impressive.

AUDIO: I loved the dub myself, the only real downside being the voices didn't always match the mouth movements, but they still did a good job and the dialogue was pretty true to the script. The soundtrack though is on of my favorite anime feature soundtracks I've heard and I pretty much went out and picked it up almost immediately after seeing the movie. The effects are great and the sound is vivid and I just loved almost everything about the audio side of this release.

OVERALL: Aside from having one of the best soundtracks I've heard, great voicework and superb animation it also has a fairly interesting story with a lot of diverse action and even a moral lesson. This is one of my favorites and I find myself personally disagreeing with all the reviews that say it's too action oriented. The story is simply part of the action where as usually they are completely separate and I can see how that might not work for some, but it worked well in my opinion.

Tekkonkinkreet (movie)

STORY: Ummm, WTF? This movie was ... unique, that's for sure, and pretty entertaining. All in all I did enjoy the show, but it really just kind of goes all over the place to tell its story. We get everything from alter egos that actually are embodied in the real world, the mafia, aliens, and kids with seemingly superhuman strength and abilities. It's a fun one to watch, even if the story does jump all over the place and a lot of the plot elements just seem really wierd, particularly for a movie that seems to take place in a near normal world at first.

CHARACTERS: Black and White are the two main characters, and like their names, they are as different as night and day. They're inseparable though, and even though they are so different, they have an endearing brotherly relationship that really works. White seems to almost suffer from a kind of autism, though he also demonstrates some nearly psychic abilities as well. There's the villains, who are either typical Yakuza, or typical evil types with burly loyal henchmen to do their bidding. The Yakuza elements does get some decent development as the story progresses though, so they're at least not just generic mobmen there for the leads to beat up on. There's a few supporting characters, including some sort of adopted grandfather, and a few cops, but their roles are really relatively minor, and the characters themselves are nothing amazing, though they work for their roles.

VIDEO: This is a tough one. On one hand, the art style is pretty inconsistent at times, and is definitely unique in an almost abstract kind of way which really contrasts with the CG city. The contrast isn't because the CG looks out of place, it doesn't, they did a great job of generating the CG landscapes to match the style of the 2D art. The contrast occurs because the CG art is well detailed and not all that abstract, which contrasts with the often loose drawing style of the 2D art. Either way, the contrast isn't a huge deal, and the artwork is really quite impressive, especially the detail put in to the surroundings.

AUDIO: I didn't find much particularly amazing about the music, it's not really a soundtrack I'd go out and buy. The voice acting is pretty decent, while nothing stellar. The stand out of the dub was Kamali Minter as White, which was a perfect performance, above that of the seiyuu who did his voice in the sub even. I wouldn't say this movie excelled in the audio department aside from Whites voice acting, but there were no major faults at least either.

OVERALL: The story was wierd and the audio was decent. The characters had a few greats, but were otherwise just okay to good, but the video factors really made the movie a treat. I wouldn't consider this a must see, especially since I think the awkward storyline might leave a lot of people scratching their heads if they can't get in to stories with a number of odd, unexplained elements. If you can get past that, it's certainly enjoyable, and I'd at least recommend giving it a rent if you're in the mood for something different. It is rated R, but it doesn't deserve that rating in my opinion, which isn't a bad thing. There is blood and violence, and the brief scene of sexuality is nothing more than you'd see on an episode of the Simpsons, so even seeing it mentioned was a bit of an eye roller. The blood and violence is easily tolerable and works well for the movie given the nature of this city and the story that's told there, it didn't feel ridiculously excessive at all. In the end, it's nothing to rave about or anything amazing, but it is a unique experience that I certainly enjoyed.

(The) Twelve Kingdoms (TV) Excellent

STORY: This anime is all about the story and despite being a long anime I couldn't imagine it being any shorter and actually think it should have been longer. The two downsides to the story are that it is somewhat slow, so that may turn off more action oriented fans, and that it involves learning a huge new vocabulary and culture to truly understand it and that can overwhelm others. In the end though they serve to strengthen the detail and attachment to the world of "Twelve Kingdoms" and is part of what makes the anime so great. The detail put into this entirely different culture and the huge array of fantastic creatures and magic is really quite impressive and demonstrates that the original author definitely put a great deal of thought and attention into making this fantasy series something truly unique. The greatest downfall though is that the second arc, "Sea of the Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth", remains unfinished as the anime ended prematurely, and while the rest of the stories are completed you are left somewhat unsatisfied by the fact there's no conclusion to that portion of the series.

CHARACTERS: The primary characters in each arc are very well defined, but most the supporting characters get little attention or development, although the detail put into the world and the main characters doesn't allow much room for it unless they drew out the episodes even longer. The greatest strength of "Twelve Kingdoms" though is the character development, especially for Yoko who changes so much from start to finish. Watching the series once through and then going back and watching the beginning again really solidifies just how much she changed and how well they scripted those changes to slowly occur and actually feel natural.

VIDEO: The artwork and character designs are really well done and the opening sequence with the historical tapestry style artwork is really beautiful. The main problem here lies in the animation, or rather the lack of quality action animation. The story is still told quite well without it and the action was never meant to be a focal point, but a little added work could have helped a little bit. Don't get me wrong though, I love the art direction of the show and it really is impressive visually, it just felt too static at times.

AUDIO: The voicework is quite well done, although some supporting characters tend to sound like other characters and that makes it easy to mix them up at times if you go by voice only. All the main characters have distinct voices though and they're pretty much all well done. Yoko does sound almost irritatingly whiney at first but that is also part of her character and that passes over time as her character develops.

OVERALL: This anime just has a depth of story and character that is virtually unsurpassed at this point, although it has some downsides; such as characters that are irritating at times and a slow story and a lot of knowledge to soak up. These are all necessary to truly get the full effect and they are never truly bad to a point you start to hate the show, and as you get into it they only serve to better it. The one great aspect of the show is the development of the Yoko character and that alone makes the story great regardless of everything else it has going for it. The only major downside is that it ended before it was really over and that left a huge gaping hole from one of the middle story arcs as it was left completely unresolved. All in all though, if you're not a huge action buff that can get into a story despite slow pacing and little major action then this title is definitely recommended. If you need action and can't get into a well told story with a lot of depth then you may want to look elsewhere.

Vampire Hunter D (OAV) Weak

STORY: Feels like a bad spin-off of Castlevania and doesn't even add much depth to its story at all aside from obvious plot points and cliche aspects of the story. There's nothing about this that really feels unique, and even when it was still considered fairly new I felt like I had read and watched/read this same story a hundred times before in novels and movies. It's all well and good to use a common story, but you still need to do something with it to get it a unique flavor and this anime just fails to do that.

CHARACTERS: They're really rather undeveloped and irritating. There's hardly an interesting character in the lot and D himself is about as typical to this genre as a tight wearing superhero is to their respective genre.

VIDEO: Pretty good animation for the day with some well done artwork and average character designs on many of the characters, including primary characters. They obviously like blood and as such they obviously went way overboard with it though.

AUDIO: I wasn't to fond of either the dub or sub, I found both Doris' equally irritating and D just sounded way to cliche for the whole mysterious good guy bit. The music is pretty bland and there's a lack of ambient sounds for something that's supposed to have a spooky feel to it.

OVERALL: It's just plain and boring and follows to many of the basic concepts of the whole spooky heroes and vampires idea. The animation was great for its day and was the main reason I even liked it to the degree I did then, but the story just didn't interest me and I'm usually a fan of the more dark and/or gothic titles.

(The) Vision of Escaflowne (TV) Excellent

STORY: A decent story with a good deal of unique and interesting ideas. It suffers from various corny and cheesy moments, but overall it does well, especially as you get into the later half. The anime tells a detailed story of a world at war and of the life of a young girl caught up in that war. It also incorporates a lot of fantasy elements and some steam punk along with it to essentially bring mechs into the story. The most interesting aspect of the story is the involvement of Isaac Newton in this fantasy world. Bringing in to the story his real life obsession with alchemy which consumed 20 years of his life and, to this day, historians and scientists still are not sure exactly what it was he was trying to achieve.

CHARACTERS: There's a good deal of development with the two leads, but the rest of the characters don't get a great deal of their own. Milerna and her family seem underdeveloped and underused despite their important roles early on and it almost feels like there's a portion of the story that was built up but ultimately left as little more than a footnote in the end. Vaughn and Hitomi grow a lot throughout the story though and their effect on one another is well written and is really somewhat of a keynote as "Escaflowne" is arguably a love story as much as it is anything else.

VIDEO: The animation isn't the most spectacular, but is still impressive when it needs to be and the character design is somewhat unoriginal. The artwork and scenery is what is most impressive in the series and each location looks well thought out and detailed. Another terrific aspect is the internal workings of the machinery and various portions where the movements of the pilot are shown overlayed with the movements of the machine itself which adds a sense of realism to something completely based in fiction.

AUDIO: The voicework in this anime isn't exactly the best and can be hit or miss, but is overall pretty decent. Kirby doesn't always seem to convey the emotion with Vaughn as well as he should, but the rest of the cast does well and Kelly played a great Hitomi. The really great performance though was Andrew as Dilandau which just seemed to have the perfect range for the role and that maniacal tone to it. Unfortunately the sub isn't spectacular either and is the opposite in the Dilandau role as I felt Minami's voicework as Dilandau was so over the top it almost sounded incredibly stupid at times and made me laugh, which I doubt was the intention of the role. The soundtrack is often regarded as one of the greats and for good reason, the music is very fitting for the atmosphere of the show and the time period it adapts too and is always used well in every scene from start to finish.

OVERALL: It has a problem breaking free from many of the anime cliches, but still manages to tell a great and unique story very well. The characters are interesting and their development throughout the series is impressive, especially Hitomi and Vaughn who go through a good deal of changes from start to finish. This is definitely a classic anime and I fully recommend it, especially if you once watched the domestic TV version as it was horribly edited and did the real unedited series no justice. If you like dubs then worry not, the US DVD releases have the dub unedited as well.

Wolf's Rain (TV) Excellent

STORY: This is quite the interesting and unique story with obvious moral undertones. The story here is told amazingly well with a linear storyline that still manages to keep each episode independently interesting with the only episodes that actually feel like filler being the four recap episodes which are simply better skipped. This story goes some very unique directions and I've really never seen or read one quite like it. It is done and paced so well and has everything from slow and thoughtful moments to moments of action and it all ends with a great and emotional finale that is really open to various interpretations.

CHARACTERS: The main characters are quite an interesting crew with obvious ties to one another despite very different personalities. One of the high points of the storyline though is watching the ties between them grow as the story progresses from complete strangers to a nearly inseparable pack.

VIDEO: The landscape and scenery is all a bit bland and dark, which is really the idea behind it all as this does basically take place on a post-apocalyptic dying world. A beautiful landscape here wouldn't really work but there is plenty of detail put into the scenery that is there giving it a good artistic quality of its own despite its dark and dead look. The animation is good for the most part; there are some scenes that look like they weren't animated quite as well as the rest but generally the animation is done well from slow scenes to the action.

AUDIO: The soundtrack certainly has its moments, I'm not sure it's one I'd necessarily buy the OST for, but it had many songs that really added to the scenes that included somber violin oriented tunes to rock songs. The voice acting was terrific I felt and think all of the cast was about as perfect for their roles as you could imagine. It's really hard to praise any one actor as I think they all did an equally terrific job and I commend the entire cast of this series as the emotional nature of the series itself makes it difficult to voice act for.

OVERALL: This was a terrific series with a very unique story to tell that was told very well. The voice acting was great and the art style did not attempt to pretty up a world that really wouldn't have worked prettied up, but it still managed to make such a dark world look good and detailed. There was just so much about this anime that was working against it and they pulled it off not only well, but practically flawlessly. Since it's a deep and emotional story that doesn't rely on a ton of action it may not be for everyone, but for those that can appreciate it for what it is I have no doubt they will be able to really enjoy it.

FOOTNOTE: I consider the OAV to just be a continuation and ending of the series as it is really meant to be. So this review encompasses both the TV episodes and the four episode OAV together.

Wolf's Rain (OAV) Excellent

SEE ABOVE - This OAV is reviewed as part of the TV series

Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Movie (U.S. movie 2/2004) Decent

STORY: Yes, I liked the Yu-Gi-Oh movie somewhat and while I don't think it's a great title with a fantastic story, I do think it tells a good enough story for the audience it's meant for. It is more or less a storyline that feels like it could have been made into a season but was instead shortened up to just a primary confrontation for a movie. It's not that different from other storylines the series has, but in a kids series such as this variance isn't entirely necessary. It has the flashy new monsters and the epic battle that fans of this desire and plays it out as just a fun extension of the series.

CHARACTERS: The characters are pretty much your standard Yu-Gi-Oh crew, although most the crew only gets a minor amount of the focus. Yugi and Seto pretty much steal the stage on this one and at points the story feels like it's trying to hard to find someplace to force in the rest so they at least get some screentime. There's no real development and the villain really only appears briefly and is gone about as fast as he appeared.

VIDEO: The animation was actually somewhat disappointing as it really isn't that much better than what is seen on the TV series. The clarity is obviously improved somewhat but otherwise the animation quality and action is what we expect from the show itself.

AUDIO: Normal voice cast with normal music, really nothing new or significant added in this case to bring up here.

OVERALL: As I mentioned earlier, it's more or less a Yu-Gi-Oh season packed into a movie with a new villain to come and go for the sake of the feature. It does well for Yu-Gi-Oh fans though by staying true enough to the series while still incorporating enough new material to make it interesting, although I highly doubt anyone that isn't a Yu-Gi-Oh fan is going to appreciate or enjoy it.

Will not finish Rating Comment
Astro Boy (TV 3/2003) Not really good

STORY: Pretty boring and uninteresting story. Each episode tended to have a pretty weak plot, although shows of this nature are rarely ever loaded with much in the way of story. Problem is that Astro Boy tried to be a story oriented show and a kids show at the same time and it just didn't seem to work. Others have done it but Astroy Boy simply couldn't pull it off.

CHARACTERS: Pretty ordinary characters with pretty much your average array of personality types in the group. I didn't watch too many episodes but there never seemed to be much development in what I did see.

VIDEO: Pretty low par animation I felt, and the art style is just one that I'm not overly fond of. The backgrounds and scenery seemed pretty well drawn out at times in some of the episodes I saw, but overall I felt the art and direction was fairly low quality.

AUDIO: Not exactly the most impressive voice acting I've heard and the voices pretty much sounded about as typical for their respective characters as the character concepts were themselves. The music isn't really very good and sometimes the effects almost sound a little too old school, and not in a good way.

OVERALL: The stories just never interested me and I didn't feel the animation or artwork was really very interesting either. It's just a kids oriented show that tries to be a story driven show, but never seems to actually deliver much of a story. It just tries to be too many things and never really seems to try hard to actually be any of them. Take that and add in the other aspects I wasn't fond of and I just couldn't really enjoy this show.

SEEN: A handful of episodes here and there.

Cardcaptor Sakura (TV) So-so

STORY: I saw only a handful of episodes but I can't really say the episodes inspired me to want to continue watching it. It did seem to have a story, but from what I saw the story never progressed much and I found what was there to be uninteresting and even a tad cliche.

CHARACTERS: Typical kiddish personalities, nothing new or impressive to bring up here. I didn't really find any of them to be likable myself but it is possible that's just due to the fact I didn't watch it long as well. The awkward romances that were set up between these children was nothing short of awkward and an obvious attempt to toss something different in such a show and draw in a specific niche audience.

VIDEO: Animation seemed pretty standard and the character designs looked to be the typical cutesy kid character models. I didn't see it as bad really, just not good.

AUDIO: The coice acting didn't seem to bad to me, but again it didn't really pull me in either. There's not really a dub to speak of here, at least not a dub done to the unedited version. The music was almost annoying I thought and that really didn't work in its favor either. Normally I can dismiss the music or just not notice it, but in this case it made me almost want to mute the show at times.

OVERALL: I could have given it more of a chance but I just never saw enough in what I did see to inspire me to do so. A lot of what I did see also annoyed me or seemed pretty weak to me as well. It's a much loved show so it's possible I may be missing out, but for the time being I have no intention of watching it any further.

SEEN: First twelve and a number of later episodes in no specific order.

Dragon Ball Z (TV) Awful

STORY: There's a story? Looked like a lot of grunting and cheesy dialog to me. This is one of the weakest anime I've ever seen and the scariest part is it is as popular as it is. I'm sure there is a story in there ... somewhere, but the rest is so laughable I don't even want to think about how good of a story it could be or sit through the episodes in order to find out.

CHARACTERS: They seem to like grunting a lot and they all look like they spent their childhood soaking up radiation. They have the depth of a mud puddle and seem to be about as developed as a blank roll of film, which would incidentally be more entertaining to look at.

VIDEO: It's horrible, just plain horrible. Long, drawn out fighting moves and long moments of people just sitting there trembling or moaning or grunting; if someone walked in at the wrong point they might think you're watching some kind of animated homo-erotica. The animation isn't very good at all and the artwork looks incredibly antiquated, and while that can be a good quality in this case it's not antiquated in a good way.

AUDIO: Some of the voice acting is actually decent as far as the actors ability to do their lines, but a lot of it is pretty bad, especially the villains. But otherwise there's just a lot of really bad sound effects, really bad music that is often too loud and overly dramatic and far too much grunting and other vocal sounds that really barely qualify as dialog.

OVERALL: The best example of a really bad show that is incredibly popular for some really weird reason. There's just nothing good or redeeming about this show and you'd have to hold a gun to my head to get me to watch another episode. I guess it's possible I'm just missing the point entirely, but from what I've seen I don't really think I want to get it even if that were the case.

SEEN: Roughly 15 various episodes.

Final Fantasy: Unlimited (TV) Weak

STORY: I only really saw the first few episodes but I just didn't find what story there was to be of much interest. You had the typical kids in another world where they meet the typical stranger that helps them as they start to get attacked by the typical evil monsters. Yeah yeah, been there and done that, and at that time it was done better than this.

CHARACTERS: Very very typical, nothing new to see here, move along.

VIDEO: I couldn't help but laugh at some of the monster designs, they just weren't scary or even cool looking. They were more like freak show creatures drawn up by a collaboration of 2nd graders. The animation wasn't really any good and, while some of the artwork was interesting, the majority of it was just boring.

AUDIO: Some of the voice acting was alright but I really have to say that Evan's voicework for Yu was just horrible and made the dub completely unwatchable for me. It's possible he gets better later on, but I have to say from the episodes I've seen it wasn't even remotely tolerable. The rest of the voice acting was mediocre to average on both sides and the music was not all that interesting either.

OVERALL: This just wasn't a very good show and is yet another Final Fantasy disappointment in their efforts to bring the franchise outside of the game market. Their problem really seems to be that their attempts so far have really had nothing to do with the franchise aside from the names.

SEEN: Episodes 1-4.

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) So-so

STORY: If you want the real story then stick with the novel or the somewhat well done(but somewhat modified) movie adaptation by Kevin Reynolds in 2002 if you want to see it on screen. This series reflects the work of art it's based on in only the most basic of elements and unfortunately just doesn't capture any of the essence of the original at all. Now I'm not one to normally care about a re-imagined or redone story so long as the basic essence is there, after all I watch and enjoy the new "Battlestar Galactica" and "Samurai 7" and usually defend minor "Americanization" which so many tend to blow out of proportion. Unfortunately in this case the changes to the setting, characters and story are just too significant to dismiss as part of re-imagining the story.

CHARACTERS: The names of the characters are consistent but unfortunately that's about it, otherwise they don't much resemble their novel counterparts and all seem rather one-dimensional (a term I hate using).

VIDEO: I'm just not a fan of this art style, I know many others praise it but it just doesn't appeal to me. It seems far too fabricated and lazy which doesn't interest me in the slightest. It's a unique style, I'll give them that, certainly is worth noting that they were innovative but unfortunately just not in a way that I really liked. I am in the minority on that so take my opinion with a grain of salt, while I don't much care for the artwork there are a great many that do.

AUDIO: I didn't find anything truly impressive or bad about the voice acting in this series. The music is actually pretty decent and does a good job of conveying just what it's meant to. My only real gripe with the voice acting is how the characters are acted, which does fit with the series but doesn't fit with the actual novel. Of course, they can't play the characters to match the novel and not the series since this is the series so I can't really dock points for that.

OVERALL: Ultimately this series just took many liberties with the original story and doesn't have enough substance to it to really make up for that in my mind. I admit, I'm a huge fan of the original and even the recent film, which I mentioned previously, so my views here may also be somewhat bias. As far as the art style goes; I just don't care for that style regardless of the series or artwork it's found in. I was really hoping for a nice anime adaptation of one of the best literary classics and was disappointed to find that story and its great cast of characters twisted in the manner found here. I seriously do suggest to anyone who watches this anime, whether you love it or not, to at least check out the book and the movie to get a better grasp on what the real story is or at least to view a semi-decent and true to form adaptation of it. Obviously the movie takes a few liberties as well but it is still far more true to the original than this series pretends to be.

SEEN: Episodes 1-8. I've also read through all the spoilers, so I know how it plays out from there.

Gilgamesh (TV) So-so

STORY: The story here was incredibly slow paced and just didn't seem to make much progress at all. It was somewhat interesting but not enough to make me want to continue my pursuit of it.

CHARACTERS: The characters weren't bad but the goth theme was a bit overdone and with some of them you just never really quite understood how they thought and why, although it's likely that is intentional. I didn't like Tatsuya at all and, as the story seemed to center around him as far as I have seen, that really kind of drove me from keeping up with the series as well.

VIDEO: This is where I felt things really took a wrong turn. While the character artwork was intriguing and a good deal of the artwork throughout the anime had a unique and interesting look about it, the fact is the animation was just plain bad. A lot of the animation reminded me of old school "Scooby Doo" episodes and it just gave the whole thing an inconsistent feel to it as it was ugly to see such good art mixed with such poor animation. The animation was really the biggest factor that turned me away from the series and usually animation quality isn't necessarily a huge matter to me.

AUDIO: The voices are alright but in the voices as well the whole spooky, subtle and gothic qualities are a little too present and that really detracts from the quality as it gives almost every character an almost identical feel. The music as well isn't to inspired and tries too hard to build on the gothic theme.

OVERALL: The gothic aspect is just overdone in visuals, character design and the vocals/music to the point it's simply too much. Add to that the really weak animation and it just starts to lose too many points to make it a very enjoyable title to me.

SEEN: Episodes 1-4.

Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers (TV) Decent

STORY: It isn't exactly the greatest story or the most original but it does tell it in a somewhat entertaining fashion that's paced well enough to not feel like it's going on far longer than it should. It does still, at times, feel a little longer than it needs to be and they could probably have cut some episodes out here and there, but it is still interesting to an extent with enough twists and changes to keep it from being overly repetitive.

CHARACTERS: The characters seem to be modeled after your average good and bad guys using almost a TMNT formula. They're not really very well developed and don't have a whole lot of depth either, not to mention they seem to adopt a lot of cliches from the good guys to the bad.

VIDEO: The animation is nothing great, pretty much your standard style and quality for shows of this type and vintage. The fighting moves they use get a little repetitive as they always use the same animation when they use the moves and often times the fights rely on little else than these moves. The action really feels underdone and the scenery is pretty much unoriginal and uninteresting.

AUDIO: The voice acting is alright but nothing spectacular. The voices are a little generic for their roles and just make the characters feel that much more formulaic. The music isn't anything memorable and could be almost anything and it wouldn't really matter much.

OVERALL: It's a decent shounen series and actually one of the first I really started watching. The action isn't all that great and the characters are a bit cliche but the story has enough elements to it to make in interesting and worth watching. If it was much longer, like many anime of this type tend to be, then I don't think I'd be able to watch it but luckily it doesn't try to extend its life longer than it needed to be.

SEEN: About half the episodes or a little more in incorrect order.

MegaMan NT Warrior (TV) Weak

STORY: A kid has a cyber buddy that he uses to fight bad guys in which he magically prevails at the end of each episode. Typical storyline that is sometimes decent, but in this case it's too formulaic with weak characters and weaker villains.

CHARACTERS: They just completely lack any unique design or concepts in the characters and each one from villain to support to main are as cliche and typical as can be.

VIDEO:Not exactly what we'd call great animation and the net sequences really seem to be an excuse to use cheap animation rather than a really intriguing idea. Not to mention the backgrounds and scenery is virtually non-existent and there's just never anything interesting to see aside from the characters, and they're not exactly all that great themselves.

AUDIO: Hooray for annoying tunes and bad actors. There's just nothing about this series' audio to even think about praising.

OVERALL: It's just another typical show perfect for afternoon TV that fails to really deliver anything in the way of a good story, visuals or even a single interesting character.

SEEN: Handful of random episodes on television.

Monster Rancher (TV) So-so

STORY: This was pretty much a show made to capitalize on the success of Pokemon and Digimon, at least it felt as much, and as such the story was somewhat similar as well. Unfortunately the story didn't have enough actual story elements aside from the villain/problem of the day to actually give you a reason to watch it.

CHARACTERS: I hated most of the monsters from their voices to their personalities, and the kids just seemed incredibly dense to me. Watching this cast was almost painful at times and I simply couldn't stay interested in the characters at all.

VIDEO: Pretty much standard TV show animation for the time, not great and not bad. It had the usual shortcut action sequences but the character art was hideous, especially the monsters.

AUDIO: The voices for many of the monsters was just bad and irritating and the kids weren't that well done either. I honestly don't even recall a single song from the series off hand so I can't much comment on the soundtrack, although if it were decent I'd likely remember something of it.

OVERALL: This was the weakest of the pocket monsters wannabe style shows on pretty much every account. With a weak story, irritating and ugly characters and standard animation there was just no reason to watch this over Pokemon and Digimon.

SEEN: Handful of random episodes on television.

(The) Mysterious Cities of Gold (TV 1) Good

STORY: I loved this show as a kid because the story fascinated me and this is really my oldest memory of an anime I have, although at the time I was not aware it was an anime or even what anime was. Sadly as I didn't always have control of the TV I never got to see it from start to finish, but I was always fascinated by it when it was on.

CHARACTERS: I don't remember significant details about the characters unfortunately, as it has been probably close to 20 years since I last saw this show.

VIDEO: Due to the age I doubt the animation is that spectacular, but I can't remember all that well. I did love the art direction as a kid though and I certainly remember a number of details about that, so I know it had some impact.

AUDIO: Honestly can't recall much more than the theme song which would sound pretty outdated by todays standards. Voices and such are lost to me.

OVERALL: This was one of my favorites as a kid and it's a shame there's really no means in which to see it again as I wouldn't mind getting a chance to watch it from start to finish as an adult. Due to the age and the target audience at the time I have no doubt I would likely no longer see it as a favorite. I would think I would still enjoy it though, even if for the nostalgia alone.

SEEN: Can't entirely recall.

Naruto (TV) Bad

STORY: Okay, so people say this story is great but I couldn't find it interesting in the least and it was mostly just laughable, and supposedly the episodes I saw were some of the more important as far as the story goes. Yeah, could have fooled me.

CHARACTERS: The characters are basically uninteresting and a lot of the times ... idiotic. There's no real chemistry or diversity here and the villains are usually more interesting than the primary characters, but that's still not saying much in favor of the villains.

VIDEO: Pretty standard animation for a long show, some episodes look decent and others look like garbage. The character art is decent, it's just too bad their personalities aren't half as interesting. The artwork isn't too bad and even the edits don't butcher it up too bad.

AUDIO: The voice acting isn't all that great on either the sub or the dub and I found many of the characters annoying, although that may also have to do with the facts their personalities themselves are annoying. The music isn't really any good although it's not as bad as other shows of the "too many episodes of filler and fighting" genre.

OVERALL: This is just another show of the whole "DBZ" and "One Piece" design and although it's a little more well done it is still not very good. The story, or lack thereof, is still boring and slow and there's still too much filler, and a lot of this just feels like a waste of time. Although filler and wasted time isn't always bad, in this case there's nothing worthwhile in the episodes to waste that time on. Simply, you're better off with a shorter series that better spends its time and actually has content worth spending that time on.

SEEN: Episodes 1-19.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) So-so

STORY: The story has some certain unique elements to it but I just couldn't get into it. It really feels like it's trying too hard to be meaningful and layered and it doesn't really work in my mind. The whole thing just seems overrated to me and maybe that's because I went into it expecting so much based on all the praise it had received.

CHARACTERS: The characters really did seem generic to me and to be honest I absolutely hated Shinji. I really didn't find myself liking any of the characters and the only development the main cast seemed to receive in the episodes I saw only made me dislike them more for one reason or another.

VIDEO: The animation is really quite good and the design and artwork to the eva's themselves is quite nice. I really don't have much in the way of complaints as far as the animation and artwork goes and it's good to see they took a different direction with the mech genre, although they are not technically mechs, but they are close enough to the premise.

AUDIO: Voice acting is alright, but unfortunately they had to act characters I wasn't very fond of. The music I noticed didn't seem all that impressive and I wasn't fond of the opening or closers either.

OVERALL: I don't know, after all the praise this anime has received I really expected a lot more and it just seems incredibly overrated to me. The story has some interesting elements, but overall it just seems like a twist of the same old basic thing. Even the main characters follow the typical style and aren't all that unique, not to mention their personalities just irritated me. I wouldn't say it's a bad anime, but I just don't get the praise myself and the angst and drama and characters just didn't draw me in.

SEEN: Episodes 1-8.

One Piece (TV 1999) Weak

STORY: Problem here is the story just drags on and on and on and on from needless constant dialog to extensive flashbacks and memories. It just takes this anime so long to tell its stories and there's really just no need for it to drag on like it does. The story is a good enough story for a kids show, it's just the pacing that is way off and makes it so difficult to watch.

CHARACTERS: There is a decent variety of characters and personalities, but unfortunately they're a little too rigid. They're just too predictable, even for a kids show cast. There is a good deal of character development, unfortunately it is this development that is often overdone to the point it drags the stories on episode after episode. The villains are just horrible half the time as well, in both design and personality, and they hardly even feel like a threat.

VIDEO: The animation is pretty much your standard kids show style and is really nothing impressive. The character art really bothers me though, often looking more like a freakshow than an anime, even a kids oriented anime. A lot of the landscape and architecture suffers from similar problems as well. I do recognize this is a kids show but it simply looked a little too goofy for me, and this coming from someone that does enjoy some Digimon or Pokemon now and then.

AUDIO: Well first off, I'm not a big fan of this dub and it's even worse due to the fact it's edited beyond belief, making the dub virtually unwatchable. The voice acting in the sub isn't too bad but still nothing I'd give any praise to, especially since a few of the voices just didn't seem to match the characters.

OVERALL: The story wasn't all that impressive and I would personally say Pokemon has a more interesting world and story. Add to that the fact it just seems to drag on forever and you get a story that just gets really tiring, really fast. It may just be that it seemed to drag on to such a degree that it made me lose interest in it that much more, that is always a possibility. I also just didn't like the art style of the series at all and that definitely kept me from really getting into the series. All in all I'd say the art style is tolerable but the pacing of the story is not and is the main reason I just couldn't get into it. This is easily one of the most overhyped pieces of trash I've ever watched and only watched as much as I did because I was told I'd get into it eventually. Well, 44 episodes and it was still god awful so regardless of the rest, that's a failure of a show to me. Of course, I'm not a big fan of incredibly drawn out shows anyways of this genre.

SEEN: Episodes 1-44 of the sub, only a handful from the dub plus a few clips tossed my way via YouTube for comedic purposes.

Pokémon (TV) Decent

STORY: The advantage Pokemon has is that it doesn't rely on long extended arcs and each episode is generally completely self-contained, although they are interconnected to a minor degree. This prevents the story from seeming too drawn out like other anime of this length, although the story itself doesn't have a whole lot of depth. But like most episode by episode shows it doesn't have a lot of draw to it to keep you watching and episodes are really hit or miss, ranging from great to unwatchable.

CHARACTERS: It actually has a fairly varied cast of characters but it's also a rather undeveloped cast. Most of the added support characters are pretty generic, especially the nurse and cop who are literally identical from town to town. There's a huge variety of Pokemon, but a lot of the time they have similar to identical attacks so, in many cases, you could swap one Pokemon for another and it would basically be the same thing. The variety is more in appearance than abilities.

VIDEO: Standard animation for a show of this nature or, in other words, it's not really that great with plenty of shortcuts and mock motion scenes. The character design is pretty standard and consistent and the Pokemon are often unique and different in appearance which tends to give each episode something new, although the abilities of the various Pokemon rarely differ significantly. The landscape and scenery isn't too bad and varies a great deal, despite the massive episode count of this series.

AUDIO: The music is familiar to most gamers as it is heard in the games, although it gets a bit redundant when the same themes are played for hundreds of episodes. I personally prefer the dub voice actors, but of course I watched the show as a dub for years before I even once heard the sub so it's likely a matter of what I'm accustomed to. There's nothing really terrific or outstanding here but the voice actors do a good job and the music is decent for its purpose. Pokemon saying their names over and over does get a little tiring at times, but otherwise I have no real complaints here.

OVERALL: It's just a fun little kids show that does manage to keep it interesting without dragging on with overextended story arcs that never seem to end. There's not a whole lot in the way of story or character development or any elements that will keep the attention of anyone who requires those things. It's more or less just a fun kid oriented show that manages to do what it sets out to do, and that's to just entertain.

SEEN: Majority of the episodes from the original and Johto arc and a handful of the rest.

Voltron (TV) Weak

STORY: The story here was pretty weak and almost every episode followed the exact same formula. Evil guy creates evil creature, lions attack and get beat down, then they form Voltron in a needlessly extensive and flashy sequence and then Voltron gets beat pretty badly. Eventually they use their great power or sword or whatever and the monster gets a large glowing wound and explodes in an almost nuclear flash. Yawn.

CHARACTERS: Standard pack of characters, the only interesting one gets lost in the beginning and replaced by the irritating princess. The bad guys are about as cliche as you can get and the good guys are hardly any better. Nothing is barely worth a mention as far as characters go.

VIDEO: Pretty much the usual for the day, I guess maybe it was even a little better, but still nothing impressive. Character art was the typical style and the scenery was pretty much plain. A lot of the animation was endlessly recycled and the fights between Voltron and the various monsters were almost all identical. Saw one episode, you more or less saw them all.

AUDIO: Bad music, mediocre acting, the audio wasn't exactly this shows strong point and the cheesy effects only manage to solidify that.

OVERALL: This show is old and outdated at this point, but even so it manages to almost define various well known cliches. The story is rather bland and it manages to make a rather uninteresting story even worse by making each and every episode nearly the exact same thing as the rest. It was alright for its day, because standards weren't high then and the idea was new, but it certainly wasn't great even then. Even as a kid I didn't like this show a whole lot. The toy line wasn't bad though.

SEEN: Can't entirely recall.

Yu-Gi-Oh! (TV 1/1998) Decent

STORY: Not a bad story, although the card duels do kind of drag on and on, not to mention they get repetitive. The back stories are usually pretty uninteresting and only detract from the primary story that's going on, and there's a lot of sappy and cheesy elements involved. Yugi's almost losing and then coming back to win with some amazing move gets a little old too, you'd think being as good as he is that every now and then he'd just wipe the walls with someone. Still though, it's not too bad for mindless entertainment, although once you've seen an episode it's not all that worthwhile seeing it again since the amazing surprise card/move that is inevitably played is no longer a surprise.

CHARACTERS: Tea is an annoying character with her over abundant optimism and bubbly behaviour. Yugi isn't too bad for a lead and gets some development and the rest are all just pretty average with mild development and they work decently as a supporting cast. Problem is sometimes those supporting characters get center stage for some episodes and it just doesn't seem to work very well. Seto is especially annoying because he seems incredibly clueless and ,despite everything that happens as the series progresses, it just seems as if he's completely blind to everything around him and his brothers blind loyalty and knack for always getting into trouble gets old.

VIDEO: The animation is really pretty plain and sub par, but some of the artwork with the cards effects and the monsters is pretty good. It really tends to be hit or miss with the artwork, some is great and others are bad or ugly. Character art is pretty standard, although some of them seem to wear needlessly complex costumes and certain females wear either incredibly short skirts or a top that looks like it belongs in a lingerie catalog.

AUDIO: People hate the dub acting but I actually think it's decent, I don't think it's great but I do think it's decent. Frankly I also think the acting in the sub isn't exactly wonderful either and I'd simply choose the dub because I can understand the language but neither are worthy of much praise. The theme song isn't too bad in some renditions, but they could stand to vary the music in the series a bit more as it really seems to be the same few tracks over and over.

OVERALL: It's entertaining but it's not great. It does well for an afternoon time slot but is nothing I would really want to buy episodes of. The story gets a tad redundant and staring at a duel arena gets a bit tiring. Another problem is that once you know how a duel is won the value of watching the episode again is pretty much nil, so there's just no replay value. I don't mind it for some mindless entertainment and it is enjoyable at times, but it's nothing I'd go out of my way to see.

SEEN: A large number of various episodes in no specific order.