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Want to see
(The) Anthem of the Heart (movie)
(The) Case of Hana & Alice (movie)
Eureka Seven - good night, sleep tight, young lovers (movie)
Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato (movie)
Galaxy Express 999 (movie)
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars (movie)

Seen some
Banner of the Stars II (TV)
A Centaur's Life (TV)
Interviews with Monster Girls (TV)
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (TV)
Mitsudomoe Zōryōchū! (TV)
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (ONA 2)
Mobile Suit Gundam UC (OAV)
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (OAV)
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (TV)
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (TV)
Revolutionary Girl Utena (TV)
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes (TV)
(The) Tatami Galaxy (TV)

Herein lies anything I have written since 2008.

Seen all Rating Comment
5 Centimeters Per Second (movie) Masterpiece Not a single shot, nor an individual piano note lacks the subtle-yet-overwhelming beauty that I've come to expect from Makoto Shinkai. An uncomplicated and unidealised account of the transience of adolescent romances is shown, with Shinkai's ability being more than proven by the fact it is so thoroughly tearjerking.
Air (TV) An exquisite tearjerker. Luxuriant in its production values, and ultimately a thing of tragic beauty. Early arcs may contain inconsequential (yet still certainly meritworthy) drama -a later section being almost bland - but fans who appreciate a memorable and emotionally purging show are repaid plentifully.
Air (movie)
Akira (movie) Excellent This deserves its reputation as a cult classic. Unique within the medium of anime to the extent that some may be put off by it. Its percussive music always sends shivers down my spine; combining this with its visual splendour makes an unforgettable work.
Amanchu! (TV)
Appleseed (OAV)
Area 88 (OAV) Good Time leaves its mark on the character designs, screenplay and presentation, but such marks of the decade affirm this as a classic action show. Dramatic virtually throughout, with an ending that may not satisfy but certainly resonates, this OAV has a commendable ability to keep a viewer's attention skyward.
Aria the Animation (TV)
Armitage III (OAV) Decent Passable elements of romance, mystery and action didn't sit comfortably with the less-than-stellar acting, at least that of the English dub. Ultimately it could have left me more attached to the characters despite a strong start. That said, this was quintessentially, deliciously cyberpunk.
Armitage: Dual-Matrix (movie) Decent Formulaic as regards storyline and the division between heroes and villains, but certainly well paced. Music, action and the English dub pass muster and improve slightly on its predecessor, yet do so without raising the bar too much.
Baby Blue (movie) To coin a phrase, 'Shinkai-esque' would be an apt way of describing this short. Though it might not justify the purchasing of an entire anthology, the restrained dialogue and fragile intimacy of the film's young couple make for an applaudable quarter-hour.
Banner of the Stars (TV) So-so A love story on near permanent hiatus. Though I have nothing against large scale space battles per se, the golden moments Jinto and Lafiel shared needed a greater emphasis, even though they consisted of little more than choice exchanges of words.
Battle Angel (OAV) Decent Manages to tell a complete story within its too episodes. Whilst the screenplay was certainly passable, somehow I feel justice wasn't fully done on a couple of events in the story- they could have had more of an immediate punch.
Blue Gender (TV) An evolving plotline constructed out of various thrill rides produces a story which, whilst not a masterpiece or an originally-themed work, can still hold its own for entertainment value and encapsulation of the viewer.
Boku wa Imōto ni Koi o Suru: Secret Sweethearts - Kono Koi wa Himitsu (OAV) Decent To depict a romance under undesirable circumstances may aid it to some degree, yet in practice it hinders it also. The viewer is made aware of the characters' love, and as such I commend it, but more substance was required for me to really feel the sweetness of the couple's time together.
Bubblegum Crash (OAV)
Bubblegum Crisis (OAV)
Children Who Chase Lost Voices (movie) Bad Within this film we are introduced to a young girl who is suddenly smitten by an otherworldly traveller, and with the aid of a mournful soldier-cum-schoolteacher, she ventures to the fantasy land from whence he came in the hope of reuniting with him. The standard array of fantasy fare is present: magical charms, superstitious villagers and monodimensional ghouls litter the screen when called for, though bizarrely there are also several guns and even an attack helicopter. (I kid you not.) You see, we learn that earthly visitors have long pillaged this hidden realm, including, most ridiculously, Napoleon and Hitler. But never fear, our protagonists intrude in this land with only the humble intentions of finding their lost loves. Do they eventually meet them? I wish not to disappoint, but it is likely that those who watch the film will soon cease to care. By deviating wildly from his genre of specialisation, Shinkai constructs a tale that uniformly fails to captivate. A few monsters are smited, our heroine is rescued from assorted perils with convenient reliability, and several baked potatoes get eaten. We are certainly made aware of the protagonists’ wishes through morose conversations and flashbacks, though at no point in their gun-toting, beast-slaying quest do their plights ever become our own. It is as if the graphical relish that has become Shinkai’s signature was evocative only of tedium, as if his exaggeratedly colourful skies and backdrops were set to lull and not to mesmerise. Here we have a director who has amassed his talents in directing love stories, wholly dispensed of them through a presumed desire to emulate Miyazaki, and produced a fantasy that is fantastic only for its propensity to bore. Never before have I opted to check my Twitter feed in lieu of concentrating on a film, but here I found myself doing so. I begged, almost in a muffled chant, for it to end, wishing in the oddest of ways that I could spend more time on my domestic chores instead. Were it not for my deep respect for this director, and indeed the fact I had imported the DVD, I would have stopped the film prematurely. Prior to viewing, I admittedly did not expect a masterwork of the calibre of Voices Of A Distant Star, though I was nevertheless quite surprised by the sheer disconnect between myself and anything on the screen. The last time I grew so unpleasantly bewildered by an anime was when I saw Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack, which at least had a broader significance to its credit. Children Who Chase Lost Voices is, quite frankly, the biggest disappointment I have recently suffered.
Chobits (TV) Very good Some nice tender moments here. Towards the end it shakes off its comedic style and becomes more of a drama. The plot isn't too complicated, but it needn't be.
Clannad (TV) There is an air of reservedness to this series. Whereas sister titles might use arcs as more efficient cathartic devices, there is less willingness to do the same here. One can commend the manner in which the first two arcs ended, and more so the supplementary episode, but any further praise is not significant.
Clannad After Story (TV) The disappointing early episodes of this sequel do it no favours, and the more striking moments in the latter chapters suffer from over-use of certain musical cues. I did find myself feeling concern and sympathy, though such sentiments were seldom stirred whilst watching, instead occurring only upon reflection. I dare say that maximal appreciation needs a personal engagement of greater immediacy.
Crest of the Stars (TV) Focussing chiefly on the relationship between the two protagonists and not space politics and combat avails this series to exhibit subtle character interactions wisely. The romance remained bounded as such, and Jinto and Lafiel's adventure wasn't the most fantastic I've seen, but I'm tempted to watch the sequels.
Di Gi Charat (TV) There isn't much to say about this. Uneventful and often somewhat odd shorts to while away a few minutes, helping to keep one in touch with one's otaku habits in-between bouts of anime abstinence.
Dimension Bomb (movie)
Dirty Pair (TV)
Dirty Pair (OAV)
Dominion Tank Police (OAV) Good Nice and Retro. Whilst not as funny as I was hoping, Buaku's backstory gave this short series an unexpected depth.
Egao (special) A passable song, with a few of Shinkai's distinctive visuals. Not really special, but not unpleasant.
Elfen Lied (TV) Excellent The build up to the ending is highly engaging, and the brief (and somewhat sombre) concluding scene give the viewer a sense of what has become of the main characters, yet intentionally leaves their feelings for each other undisclosed. The violence, moe and infamous "taboo" scene do not detract from the story at all.
Eureka Seven (TV) At its core, this "westernised" series depicts a simple yet highly developed love story elongated substantially by assorted setbacks. Although situated amidst a bizarre fantastical setting that draws perhaps a little too much attention to itself, it remains emotionally credible, and is definitely satisfying at times.
FLCL (OAV) So-so Perhaps the distinct style of this show is where it fails. Certain sequences do certainly try to counteract the abnormal narrative, but cannot amount to much. The show concludes itself adequately but does so without leaving behind much of a sense of endearment.
Flip Flappers (TV)
Fruits Basket (TV 1/2001) So-so Transforming animals isn't a particularly deep theme, and as a result I felt like I was plodding through this series. The comedy was mild at best, the music could have been better and the various character monologues were unmoving. Its not fatally flawed, but not nearly as good as I was expecting.
Gala (movie)
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) This is a delicious and effortlessly watchable piece, camp but refined, pompous but purposeful. There is an eager delight to be taken in seeing its unsympathetic, aristocratic cast being bewitched by the corruptive charm of the Count; so menacing, delicate and otherworldly a man he is. While every cast member is imbued with the motives and conflicts one would expect from a literary adaptation, any moments of introspection or tenderness are duly outshone by the series’ magnificent grandiosity. Its sparkling theatricality, embodied by the Count’s exquisitely soothing, inviting baritone, seems set to cement the work as an elaborate and lavishly decorated amusement rather than a drama in which our own humanity may be reflected.
(The) Garden of Words (movie) Can Shinkai rebound from the expensive blunder that was Children Who Chase Lost Voices? Yes, thankfully. Perhaps cognisant of his miscue, he returns to very familiar territory. Once again, there is a relatively young couple, an immaculate Tokyo sprawl and, of course, trains. The boy is a failing schoolchild fascinated with shoe-making, the girl a lackadaisical businesswoman with an eating disorder and a gait abnormality. It is unfortunate that the female lead is the one conveniently lumbered with dramatic flaws, but her circumstances at least differ from the incumbencies more common to anime romances. The characters make a habit of meeting anonymously beneath a park bench, and inevitably the seeds of love are sowed. Their contrived relationship develops in the midst of Shinkai’s usual festoonments of aural and visual delicacy. Swirling orange and pink skies, twinkling landscapes and impassioned piano accompaniments work their expected magic, and the tried-and-tested themes of distance and separation are applied with adequacy. All of such tools were, of course, deployed to floundering effect in the previous film, but here they lend ample cinematic sustenance to the story. All is not perfect with the present work though. A clichéd ending, in which the older character proves to have less reserve than is fair for her to possess, blemishes the film's emotional integrity to an extent, but fortunately a more thoughtful scene after the ending credits soothes any lingering disappointment. Save for a plot twist or two, nothing in this tender tale will be unfamiliar to ardent Shinkai fans, yet such people will be the first to admit how much they like it this way. Makoto’s back, chaps!
Genius Party (movie)
Ghost in the Shell (movie) Good It's an "art" film. The plot symbolism are tough to fully comprehend, and the film ends abruptly and ambivalently. The Varied scenes flesh this out and the minimalistic style is fitting, when compared to sci-fi of more immediate spectacle.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (movie) Very good In view of its predecessor, this provides closure and ends when it should; the viewer left satisfied. The way the Major protects Batou is subtly romantic, but the visual decadence is where the core of the shows soul lies.
(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie) Good It certainly had its moments, and the plotline was conclusive and sufficiently explained. But although the tale was not without some emotional effect, there are certainly films that have touched me more than this.
Girls' Last Tour (TV)
GoShogun: The Time Étranger (OAV)
Gunbuster (OAV) Very good Managing to overcome a number of aged anime clichés and musical arrangements, this mecha OAV brings with it stirring events on a literally galactic scale. Doing your duty for others at the expense of lengthy time dilation is one of the main themes, and the resulting character drama accompanies the intense sci-fi visuals appropriately.
Gunbuster 2: Diebuster (OAV) There is a degree of absurdity within science fiction that would usually be hard to excuse, were it not to come from a title in the GunBuster franchise. Whilst many things prevent this from matching its predecessor's appeal, character designs being one of them, dedicated fans may still appreciate its similar grandiosity, visual excess and indulgent undertones.
Gunslinger Girl (TV)
Haibane Renmei (TV) Very good This is a gently paced series with a strong feeling of homeliness. The darker elements are handled without the show becoming too dramatic. Although much about the world of the Haibane -and what lies ahead for them- isn't explained, I can appreciate this series nonetheless.
Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Not really good Original concept with unenthralling conservative ending. Chalk up another win for Mr Miyazaki.
I've Always Liked You (movie)
In This Corner of the World (movie)
Iria - Zeiram the Animation (OAV)
(The) Irresponsible Captain Tylor (TV)
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie) Red riding hood becomes thought-provoking here. To come to terms with what Oshii has done is difficult: Instead of fan-pandering and allowing the romance to prevail, it becomes swallowed up by the grim state of affairs that falls upon the film's bleak yet oddly realistic alternative world.
Kaiba (TV) Kaiba is a story filled, perhaps saturated, with stylistic quirks and puzzling abnormalities, though its most rousing elements dwindle and wane a numerous twists and double-crossings dominate its final chapter. Whilst the many sudden machinations surrounding the series' titular character perhaps offset its romantic merits to a greater degree than in the case of Eureka Seven, to choose an example to wit, we can still find moments of bliss, of melancholy, and dare I say of warped beauty amongst this uneven sea of ameobal figures and thick, sketched lines.
Kanon (TV 2/2006) Excellent Romantic, tearjerking, heartwarming and very cute. The series blends some serious issues with a persisting paranormal tone. The revelations before the ending make the plotline open to some interpretation, such an arc orchestrating its dramatic crescendo perfectly.
Key the Metal Idol (OAV) Very good Some aspects of the narrative and antagonists one could point out as flawed. Sparks of often startling introspection, a genuinely engaging protagonist and a terrific, rousing ending grant this gem far, far more than is needed to compensate though.
Kids on the Slope (TV) Shows of this character seldom gravitate towards me, but it was freely available on Crunchyroll, and the combination of Shinichiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno sufficed to pique my curiosity. From the outset it quickly establishes its strongest element: the unlikely friendship of the high attaining fish-out-of-water Kaoru and the aloof but multifaceted delinquent Sentaro. In the first episode their contrasting body language and gaze is superbly telling, conjuring what can only be described as a profound and—dare I say—notably sexual energy between them. I doubt I shall see a more complex relationship developing within a single anime episode at any time soon. This momentum does not last. Respective love interests for Sentaro and Kaoru are hastily introduced, and emotions between the cast members soon simmer in rather hackneyed ways. Spoken interactions and monologues reveal nothing that expressions or gestures do not, characters make a habit of suddenly running away from each other through anger or anguish with too high a frequency to leave any impact, and the female leads themselves are often denied their own voices or motives, seemingly existing only to send and receive the standard array of strained and conflicted amorous feelings with the two males. It is not that these dramatic apparatuses common to anime romances have no place here, just that their often mistimed and underwhelming deployment seem only to exist as a diversion from the show’s central friendship. Fortunately, though indeed predictably, this friendship endures throughout and leads to a satisfying conclusion, though by the time of the finale one is left questioning the extent to which the romantic subplots contributed anything to the screenplay beyond a number of twists sufficient to fill twelve episodes. Is the series uplifted by its presentation? Certainly, but only to an extent. There is an eloquence to the show that the script betrays, making the plot’s failings all the more frustrating. The frequent jazz sessions involving Sentaro and Kaoru grant them a medium of communication that excels far beyond their verbal exchanges. Musical nuances teem abundantly, and the voices they find in their instruments of choice, when combined with the body language exuded as they play them, constitute all of the best arranged and most affecting scenes. All of which, thankfully, occur without so much as a word being spoken. Sadly, despite Yako Kanno’s involvement, the opening, ending and incidental music is largely forgettable vis-à-vis the masterful use of jazz. Kids on the Slope starts wonderfully and includes applaudable set pieces and a genuinely appealing central relationship, but the mediocrity of the script simply betrays the music, like an uninspired libretto buoyed by a composer’s superior score. I cannot help but favourably recall Watanabe’s short film Baby Blue, which managed to be far more affecting in a comparatively minuscule running time. Kids on the Slope is a song that rewards you for listening to it, but only if one ignores the humdrum lyrics to relish the occasional moment of complexity arising from its melodies.
Koi Kaze (TV) Good Realism is one thing many series deliberately lack, but it is a realistic approach that this gentle tale nonetheless uses (right to the very end) to handle the subject of socially forbidden love. The results are a good, solid anime without spectacle or dramatics, but one which did not emotionally absorb me nearly as much as more fantastic titles.
A Letter to Momo (movie) This film is a hybrid of sorts. A coming-of-age drama about a young girl and her widowed mother jostles with a light comedy about slothful, meddling goblins who come to bother her. While it was quite a joy to see Production IG bringing a coastal town to life and employing such effortlessly expressive and humorous character animation, the sheer incongruity of the troublesome goblins simply obstructed the story’s pathos. Okiura clearly laboured to ensure his creations did not interfere with the delicacy of his character drama, but sadly such creatures proved to be too important to his plot to be relegated to the background: the goblin-heavy climax unfortunately resorts to a literal deus ex machina that grates against the tone that the film’s human elements had previously constructed. There were still scenes of quiet beauty towards the end, though their execution was only successful through the refreshing absence of the supernatural jesters that overstayed their welcome. Aside from the work’s Achilles’s heel, there is a question to be asked about how sensitively its main theme is handled. The two principle characters come to share the most uplifting of moments in the finale, but only through the divine intervention of external powers. For a film that dwells upon maintaining familial bonds in the aftermath of loss, would it not be more suitable for the characters to find such strength in each other than in divine agency? It is as if hope has scored a miraculous victory over despair, the antithesis to the crushing ending of Okiura’s earlier Jin Roh - The Wolf Brigade. I feel that A Letter To Momo could have rivalled Mamoru Hosoda’s filmwork in its catharsis and spiritedness, though the necessity of its silly nonhuman cast members limited its capabilities from the outset.
Macross Plus (OAV) Supported in parts by an initially spellbinding title theme, this OVA comes across as an acceptable yet often bland drama. The stakes aren't as high as in SDF Macross, and the resulting product is quite distanced from the storytelling of the franchise's first series.
Macross Plus Movie Edition A suitably-condensed edit of the OVA. Only non-essential scenes were cut, and the CGI-laden additions enhance some later sequences somewhat.
Mahoromatic - Automatic Maiden (TV) Restrictions of a limited budget are clear to see here, whilst most narrative comes short of inducing much affection towards the principle characters. In this series' defence, it is one half of a longer story. Alas, little enticement to purchase the concluding section results from watching the opening one.
Mardock Scramble: The First Compression (movie) It is perhaps most appropriate to introduce the film by means of a comparison with Ghost in the Shell. Whilst the protagonists of both films bear numerous similarities — chiefly pertaining to their physical capability and their psychological discomfort — the lead character of Scramble is far less acquainted with her role than The Major, and hence far weaker of will. Resultantly, the dependency of Balot upon Oeufcoque contrasts greatly with the relationship between Mokoto and Batou. This is perhaps a good thing, as the exchanges between the frightened heroine and her mysterious companion become somewhat heartfelt, and thereby constitute the picture's warmer moments. Such interactions are soon offset however: Balot's troubled past begins to impede her judgement during the film's final sequence, and her loss of control ultimately leaves her — and indeed the mouse she holds dear — in severe jeopardy by the time of the highly abrupt ending. It must be said that a sufficient amount of emphasis has been placed on exposing and developing Balot, both as a tragic victim and as a troubled yet competent human being. What remains to be seen is the degree to which the same is done to Shell, her antagonist. His disregard for his own tokens of memory, not to say the women he meets, are traits this series of films must elaborate upon to succeed as a whole. Addressing the unresolved questions we ask of Shell will help frame this film's action sequences and mild sentiments within a greater narrative framework, and may indeed grant Mardock Scramble a respectable place within the domain of animated cyberpunk. It's not quite on a par with the classics, though I reckon this tale of a mute superhuman and her guardian mouse can still gain esteem through careful development of subsequent chapters.
Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion (movie)
Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust (movie)
Martian Successor Nadesico (TV) If I could select any title as a litmus test for someone’s tolerance of the comedic and dramatic quirks of mainstream anime, it would be this. Despite its novel use of a show-within-a-show to parody the melodrama of mecha series, Nadesico itself unashamedly relishes in the very same thing. Vapid monologues masquerade poorly as moments of insight, incongruous romances are forged and strained, and hot-blooded caprices routinely veto any semblance of discipline. Because of this, it is perhaps fortunate that the show seldom takes itself seriously, even after major plot revelations when it arguably should. Though this flippancy leads to pacing problems, it also helps endear to the viewer the series’ large and distinctive cast. Half the crew are ditzy and childish; the other half are hopeless otaku. No matter how dire the story’s circumstances, it seems there is always time for characters to exhibit their myriad light-hearted traits. Nadesico relinquishes any claim to excel beyond the peers of its genre, but what it loses in maturity it wins back through the sheer merriment its assortment of oddballs provide. It is a litmus test, but a lovable one.
Memories (movie) Whilst the latter two films are original and mildly diverting in their own ways, the first film achieves everything I could possibly want from a psychological horror.
Metropolis (movie) Masterpiece My favourite anime. A tragic relationship unfolds within a retrofuturistic art deco cyberpunk setting to make a unique, beautiful and possibly timeless piece, respecting Lang and Tezuka whilst being notably dissimilar to both. As the film progresses I feel drawn into its detailed dystopia ever more- the climax scene's unorthodox choice of music ultimately making me cry like nothing else.
Midori Days (TV) Decent Although the idea is original, the relationship between the main characters would have been better if the romance was reciprocated.
Millennium Actress (movie) Kon's method of using fiction-within-fiction to form the narrative gives this film vibrancy. Almost comedic at first, the persisting analogy within the scenes eventually brings a mellow sentimentality to the act of reminiscing over a lifelong hopeless hope. Its not as good as some other works, but my appreciation of this may be nurtured with time.
Mind Game (movie)
Mini Pato (movie)
Miss Bernard said. (TV)
Mitsudomoe (TV)
Mobile Suit Gundam - The Movie Trilogy Having been compressed into a feature-film format causes hefty running times, and an episodic pacing that can't be shaken off. Despite these -along with some flaws in the video quality- a satisfying and somewhat iconic venture into war and honour is presented, with a strong underlying theme of tranquillity following calamity.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (OAV) Taking a position as close to neutrality as is possible within the One Year War, 0080 juxtaposes a child's naïve fascination of the military against a soldier's implausible plight, resulting in a miniaturised and yet sound drama, which rightly holds its place in Gundam history.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (OAV) Universal Century Gundam usually entails numerous tropes, and this story is no exception to this generalisation. [b]0083[/b] avoids the charge of being a predictable outing however, and despite surpassing no principle expectations, it is not undeserving of its inclusion within UC canon.
Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt (ONA)
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (movie) A great rivalry of animated science fiction becomes a tarnished one, thanks to its final chapter. The film's few directional merits are lifted from 0079, leaving an unengaging conflict and mediocre characterisations as its sole contributions to the franchise.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (OAV) Though not the greatest of love stories, nor one devoid of its share of clichés, the lead couple become endearing and supportable. The ebbing, flowing plot manages to remain focussed on a simple and elementary theme, without disappointing those with a tolerance for mecha.
Moondrive (movie)
Nadia - The Secret of Blue Water (TV)
Neko no Shūkai (special) That was quick.
Neo-Tokyo (movie) Very good A fantasia. A triad of contrasting yet mutually supportive works, each one contributing to a magical mixture of surrealism, horror and enchantment. For arthouse, this may not be surpassable.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) Some episodes felt like filler, and some of the "battle" music could have been done without. Nonetheless this is engrossingly deep and introspective, so introspective in fact that the actual ending is impossible for a first time viewer like myself to understand.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (movie) Very good This is the harrowing coup de force by which Evangelion reaches its true conclusion. So haunting is the total apocalypse of the individual that this spectacle is perhaps too ultimate, and too powerful.
New Dominion Tank Police (OAV) An acerebral set of episodes: Basic plotlines, uninspiring villains and plenty of police-related explosions. Still, the madcap antics of the Tank Police remain as oddly charming as ever.
NieA_7 (TV) Nobody likes to do much during the summer. There is something quite oneiric and otherworldly in trying to exert yourself when daylight, insects and dry heat seem perennial, when the passage of time itself is something immeasurable. NieA_7, ostensibly a mellow comedy about a polite but impoverished student and her brash, maladjusted room-mate, captures this dream-like, inconsequential state of being with grace if not profoundness. Mayuko, the student, combines her studies with several part-time jobs whilst NieA, an untidy alien girl, sleeps on Mayuko’s roof, tinkers with scrap parts and pesters her for food. All the while the balmy summer of a rusty Tokyo suburb shimmers around them and their ramshackle ways of life. This arrangement suits neither of them, resulting in most of their interactions being comically hostile, at least in appearance. NieA thinks nothing of expecting Mayuko to provide her with whatsoever foodstuff takes her fancy, whereas Mayuko, usually rational and reserved, never hesitates to berate NieA for her sloth and general carelessness. Their petty arguments form the backbone of their uncomplicated relationship, and it soon becomes apparent that their mutual friendship, whilst never delved into, is sustained through these moments of supposed verbal contempt. NieA_7 has a story to it, but only just. Save for a few regrettable filler episodes that vary from banal to bizarre, this is a show about the characters’ world and not their ultimate plights. The presentation of NieA herself errs towards that of somewhat of a lackadaisical enigma within the broader context of the show’s setting—that in which humans and aliens have come to cohabit—but only minimal effort is spent on any backstories or character development. (This work is adapted from a manga, leading me to suspect there was insufficient material available to focus on such matters.) The various directors, when not experimenting with comedic contrivances, are mostly contented to show Mayuko and NieA simply going about their days. When drama arises, such as an episode in which Mayuko channels her own insecurities into a rarely earnest insult towards NieA, it is typically resolved through NeiA reacting in her usual boisterous way as if nothing serious had happened. By doing so, curiously enough, ultimately nothing does happen. Like NieA herself, the viewer is left to take in the lives of these characters one day at a time, enjoying the emptiness of a lifestyle that permits no change and conveys no status, as if it were worth savouring ultimately. So the storytelling shows thought but is otherwise minimal, though the work manages to distinguish itself from others that the now-ubiquitous “slice of life” label. It does so through a constant, measured attention to its summertime setting and the sense of mellowness this engenders: distant panning shots are plentiful, relishing in an unkempt but welcoming suburbia that becomes almost pretty in the bleach of the sun and the chorus of the cicada. There is nothing technically brilliant to its visual designs, though fortunately it is not left in want of creative distinction: the musical score is unique and evocative. Uncomplicated ukulele and acoustic guitar melodies, combined with the occasional Hawaiian or jazz rhythm, perfectly evoke an aura of peacefulness and an impression of time slipping by without any accompanying alterations in circumstance. If there is anything to this simple anime that resonates beyond the moment, it is its decidedly aestival soundtrack. I will not rush to recommend NieA_7 unreservedly. If it is to charm you, it is to do so not with its subject matter but with how warmly and gently it presents its small cast, and the lulling ambience of their imperfect but relatively untroubled summer lives.
Non Non Biyori (TV)
Non Non Biyori Repeat (TV 2)
Now and Then, Here and There (TV) Bloody, tearjerking and bleak are not words I'd particularly use to describe this, contrary to some. The moral stance of the show, along with the narrative, is straightforward, and Lala-ru's character is never fully explained. As a stories of war and exploitation go however, this is a strong and occasionally heartpounding piece.
Ocean Waves (movie)
Only Yesterday (movie) Only Yesterday is the first Ghibli title I wholeheartedly appreciated, as it happens. Doubtlessly it is as beautiful as its acclaim has purported. It has the sort of undercutting finesse that all but passes one by during an initial viewing, only to reveal itself and linger thereafter in the days that follow; an enchantment aided by Takahata’s masterful use of folk music. Its historical sections, I must admit, are as observant of their subject matter as anything that has been animated. Yet in the wider context of Taeko’s beckoning to a life in the country, part of me holds that such lengthy flashbacks could be seen as deviations. You see, Taeko’s past frustrations and present yearnings suffer somewhat of a disharmony, creating a lacuna to the film that she herself wonders about during her outbound train journey. What is it about her memories as a ten year-old that her family’s farm both evokes and resolves? At the surface there is no similarity between her youthful trials and her cleansing country graft. We struggle to search for a constant that draws these two parts of Taeko’s life into a shared context. My initial candidate for a supposed thematic connection between these environments, through which we may better understand Taeko’s ultimate decision and thereby the film itself, is her unsatisfied wish for independence. In most of her childhood exploits, Taeko has decisions made for her, she sees her family take efforts to see that she conforms, and that her whims are kept under control. Occasions upon which a point of difference arises between her and her peers only distance her from them. It is as if these moments are selected to illustrate a suppressed freedom that, in the film’s internal logic, the countryside somehow offers. Under this interpretation, there is an irony that hides behind the brilliance of the film’s ending. In taking a impassioned act of independence and returning to Toshio, Taeko embraces the very arrangement that her family had thrust at her in the previous day. The difference between Taeko the free spirit and Taeko the victim of external pressure thus shrinks down, not to any difference in action, but instead to mere a matter of will. But there is an additional layer of complexity that we must recognise: Taeko comes to realise that her wish for independence is something that, through being unsatisfied, has been encumbering her. By exercising her agency and freely choosing the confinements of a rural life with Toshio, Taeko accepts that her earlier yearning for the very same agency has itself been of harm. If this is some sort of ode to our capacity as independent agents, then I cannot be the only one who has objections to its didactic point. Still, Takahata's expression of it was not without its beauty.
Orguss 02 (OAV) An ostensibly hotchpotch yet fully expounded fantasy environment sets the scene for a proficient narrative, compensating for a lack of flair with occasions of violence. In combining a self-contained sequence of events with an existing canon, those unfamiliar to Orguss are not put at a disadvantage.
Otaku no Video (OAV)
Other Worlds (movie) A little short and vague for any substantial judgement to be made here. The imagery is there, but not until She and her Cat does Shinkai's style really begin to blossom.
Outlaw Star (TV) Clunky and unremarkable, but it has a certain spiritedness to it.
Pale Cocoon (OAV) So-so Less of a story, more of an abstract. Direction appears consummate, though where similar works show heart this story fails to shine above its neutral and desaturated palette. The narrative crescendo it reaches thus remains dim.
Paprika (movie) True to my expectations, Paprika is a relentlessly intelligent film. A ceaseless barrage of bizarre visual cues and motifs manage to keep what could be an impenetrable sequence of images into something coherent. The film’s frantic pace sidesteps any risk of a dull moment, though this comes at a cost: the viewer can easily become desensitised to the grotesque array of onieric figures that continually upstage the small number of persistent characters. Unlike the equally distorted but far more satisfying Millennium Actress, this work’s greatest merit inheres in the interconnection of its visual devices rather than the motivations of the cast. During the film we learn of one man’s frustrations over his stunted past, and of another’s hopeless fancy for a woman, though taking any satisfaction in how these personal issues are resolved was quite a difficulty—so much is happening that there is little refuge for sentiment. Somehow I feel it was within the director’s capacity to let the hearts and minds of his characters take centre stage, rather than the disembodied nightmare that comes to dominate them. Paprika is a tiffin box of pleasant, piquant spices, but one that is enshrouded in a psychedelic but purposive wrapping that demands more attention that the delicacies lying beneath it.
Patlabor 2: The Movie (movie 2) Good The sense of orchestrated menace amidst an urban sprawl brings us into the realm of the cerebral terrorist. More akin to GITS than its prequel, this is an exercise in reflection, but should one not extract too much of the commentary from the plot alone, the well furnished visuals compensate.
Patlabor the Mobile Police: The New Files (OAV 2/1990) An idiosyncratic cast written into generally inconsequential plotlines results in an oddly endearing slice-of-life series for many a fan to escape to. Though not constant in its tone, this OVA contains some of the funniest moments I've encountered within the mecha genre.
Patlabor WXIII (movie 3) Very good Having glanced at critical articles regarding this film in the past, one's expectations didn't equate to much beyond a "monster movie" (pardon this vulgarity) situated within a familiar fictional world that isn't naturally accommodative of one. Indeed it must be admitted that plots involving monstrous, alien beings are perhaps out of harmony with Patlabor canon, though my criticisms end with such a statement. This film is very much in the spirit of its predecessors. The minutiae of humdrum Tokyo life are scoured by the camera during police endeavours, rain and nightfall beset many scenes and emotionless faces conceal tension, intrigue and corporate machinations. Where this work manages to exceed the first two films, dare I say such a thing, is quite surprising. The ultimate collision between our heroes of the SV2 and the villain is unexpectedly poignant in a dissonant way. As Labors land blows upon the monster, dehumanised though it may be, my reaction was cathartic. The incidental use of the sublime Piano Sonata No. 8 shifts our sympathies from Noa and her squadmates to the monster itself — perversely, we briefly see it as Misaki does; not as a savage beast but as a memento of a departed loved one. Were I so inclined I could draw a sentimental comparison between this film and King Kong on such grounds, though it is more appropriate for me to convey this film's merits to Patlabor fans by stating the following instead. Our madcap, trigger-happy public servants may not take centre stage in this outing, though the style and intricacy of Mamoru Oshii's two masterworks are emulated quite splendidly. It has a curious ounce of heart to it as well.
Patlabor: The Movie (movie 1) Very good As unfolding mysteries go, this one is hard to beat. The intricacy and intelligence of the antagonist's plan was compelling without being confusing, and the whole film polished off with Oshii's trademark combination of exposition and symbolism.
(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie) Rich in production values, and more complex (and admittedly more protracted) than its predecessor in screenplay. Though I may prefer Voices of a Distant Star, Place Promised follows after its sister film in reaching a tearfully rousing culmination, aided by an unvaried yet delicate score.
planetarian (ONA) Planetarian might not be hailed as a masterpiece within the genres under which it falls, mainly due to the fact its premise foretells and constrains the events that can occur within it, but it is still a strong and slightly surprising show by its own merits. Given that its plot is restrictively bleak in its plot, the main degree of freedom it has to exploit lies in how it conveys Yumemi's hope, naïve and false though it is, in a way which establishes a theme of enduring optimism. It is in this dimension in which Planetarian is at its most successful. Our initial impression of Yumemi is that she has no place in the cold apocalypse to which she is blissfully unaware, but despite her worryingly servile personality, the show dedicates its modest resources to inviting reflection on what she signifies. Three things stand out to this end: Her unyielding, possibly hard-wired faith in humanity, her association with the enduring stars, and most novelly for a moe show, her thoughts about the role of robots in the afterlife. Yumemi might be just an idealised observer of humans, claiming to appreciate her subservience to them by rote in lieu of being able to arrive at an autonomous conception of her own good, but then again, there is at least a hint of honesty to her manner. In order to give this show its credit, so much becomes predicated on Yumemi holding genuine sentiments for the people she serves that it would be unfitting to discredit her character as a mere folly that has outlasted her place. Indeed, it is no surprise that her most detailed features are the mechanisms within her otherwise static eye pupils—if Planetarian has any message behind its inevitable sadness, it is necessary that somewhere inside Yumemi, there is a willing, rightful love for mankind that she cherishes to the very end, and expects to last indefinitely thereafter. Akin to the cosmos itself, such an affection has nothing to it if not a certain permanence. In our wizened ways we recognise this as a feeble and foolish notion, but just as the Junker comes to realise when he compares his own feelings to drunkenness, the robot he meets is no more a fool than we are, and we are perhaps all the better for this being so.
Pokémon: The First Movie (movie 1) Bad Even as an obsessive Pokémon fan as a child, I couldn't say much positive about this show. By the standards I hold today, what I remember of the film is notably poor. I did get a special promotional card when I saw it in the cinema though, so all was not lost.
Project A-ko (movie)
RahXephon (TV) Good Masterful direction often competed with lacklustre here, especially where music was concerned. Ayato's rise to strength and the subsequent ending was arresting, but the show's romantic revelations lay dormant for too long. No pun intended, but the singing/re-tuning theme "struck a chord" with others more than it did with me.
Redline (movie) Redline is very much a motion picture for the moment. Through its growing contrivances and near-endless dazzle, it defies our humanly constitutions for our pulses not to be raised by it. Like a palpitation though, it leaves as soon as it comes, and is forgettable but for its excitement. It is clearly a film that is more than comfortable with its own limits.
Robot Carnival (OAV) Robot Carnival is a film I never thought I would ever legally watch. As one might expect, the sheer splendour of the 1980s OVA boom is so very easy to relish, even when nothing arises from the sumptuous ink and paint but robots in motion. One can expect from this compilation everything that gave this era its reputation: it includes nonchalant art-house experimentation, charming mechanical madness, and gilded but worthless scrap, though there is one contribution that deserves special attention here; Yasuomi Umetsu’s Presence. The subject of humans being romantically involved with inanimate beings is as familiar to anime as it was to Ovid, but this particular variation on the theme proved more poignant than many. A feeble, frustrated man creates a robotic enchantress through dissatisfaction with his love life, but is unable to maintain his composure when confronted by the robot’s artificial advances. His response to her supposedly amorous approaches is not that of love or lust but of sudden and harsh violence, and in a bout of angered insecurity he destroys her. What follows is novel. Our aging antihero is then shown later in life, supposedly happy with the family from whom he tried to craft a means of emotional escape. Yet the robot suddenly appears before him temptingly, either as an apparition or as an addict’s hallucination, as if her physical destruction failed to seal the void in his life she was designed to occupy. The man revisits her final resting place in an attempt to come to terms with her, but evidently to little avail. In the final scene, the elderly man is once again visited by this ghost. Upon accepting her offer to join him, he disappears before his real wife, succumbing, perhaps in death, to the embodiment of the basic desires he previously lashed out against. For an investigation into what robots reveal about the humans they serve, there is nearly as much to read into Presence as there is into the more recent Time of Eve. The dated electric piano score dulls its capacity to arrest, and doubtlessly there are issues with this film’s portrayal of gender roles—albeit not as many as regards the compilation’s lesser works—though Presence outshines its fellow constituents to quite a degree. Indeed I am left wishing that Robot Carnival’s running order gave it greater prominence.
Roujin Z (movie) Roujin Z starts as quirky parody of modern healthcare solutions for the elderly, in which a withered old man is used as the guinea pig for a state-of-the-art life support system. Quite predictably, the machine turns rogue, and true to Otomo’s directorial style, we are soon treated to a lavish fantasia of cybernetic brawn, frenetic chase sequences and oh-so-collateral damage. Roujin Z is what Akira would become if it was re-imagined as a study in physical comedy.
Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise (movie) So-so I try my best to like this film. Here and there it is vivid and developed. The score though, along with a slightly disjointed plot and an ending which shuns closure for pure symbolism, alas does not leave the best of imprints upon me.
Rumbling Hearts (TV) So-so Dramatic and ultimately bittersweet it may be, but just not my sort of romance scenario. The premise of the story being a love triangle resulted in it not quite hitting the spot. Narumi had to choose one girl or the other, so a good deal of the tenderness amounted to nothing.
Serial Experiments Lain (TV)
She and Her Cat (OAV) This is Voices in the making. Intelligent, subtly passionate and adorned with visual devices which would go on to characterise the more substantial works of this great director.
She and Her Cat -Everything Flows- (TV) Though not a work in which Shinkai was directly involved, this series both borrows the title and revisits the setting of his earliest short film. As a four-episode series filmed from a cat’s perspective, there is little of substance to discuss about it. Indeed, felines care for nought beyond their limited domain, and this show’s moggy is no exception. Through a monologue he speaks frankly, but not thoughtlessly, of the curious love all cats show to their owners, attending in his details only to the present and the ever more hazy past. (As a cat, his future is simply unworthy of consideration.) Given the stunted scope of his narration, it is fitting, then, that his entire life is depicted in this short series, but the inevitable finale this entails is as positive and warming as one could hope for. This is an inoffensive iyashikei anime that turns no heads, yet still reflects something that is dear to all those with feline companions.
She, The Ultimate Weapon (TV) Excellent I may forget the show's poor lines and stylistic flaws, but not its romantic purity. Such an element endeared right to the surprising and apocalyptic end, pushing the boundaries of bittersweetness almost disturbingly.
Shirobako (TV)
Short Peace (movie)
A Silent Voice (movie)
(The) Sky Crawlers (movie) In spite of a continuously relaxed pace and an oft-unpassionate cast, this offering of Mamoru Oshii never fails to engage and evoke. This marks a characteristically graceful addition to his filmography.
Sound of the Sky (TV) This story of an all-female military unit guarding a picturesque Mediterranean village failed to resonate much beyond the virtues its concept affords. Yes, cute girls do cute things—a show of this type can only play with the cards it is dealt. Yes, the looming threat of war is a constant theme, but with soldiers and guns, why wouldn’t it be? The trumpet rendition of Amazing Grace, a rather stale leitmotif that forms the show’s spiritual backbone, is pleasant enough however. So too is the undemanding story, its clichés and trappings aside. There is nothing memorable here, but nor is there anything worthy of oblivion.
Space Patrol Luluco (TV)
Submarine 707R (OAV)
(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross (TV) Long, without resorting to rendering obsolete any of its content. This fan favourite is unquestionably of its time, just managing to make worthwhile its central love triangle. Though not a romance, or for that matter a sci-fi, that truely shines by modern standards, within it glimmers enough for the patient viewer to warm to.
(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (movie) Provided a viewer possesses a requisite appreciation of the original series, this profoundly luxurious treat will enchant and delight. Its flair and spectacle becomes unforgettable when accompanied by the much-loved soundtrack, ensuring it a place in anime history.
Sweetness & Lightning (TV) When at the hight of its powers, this anime gives expression to something almost ineffable, yet still immediately reminiscent of our own childhoods. Sadly though, the degree to which the cookery is intertwined with the broader depiction of fatherhood is too neat in its separation for the most part, with the former often sharply curtailing the understated joys stemming from Tsumugi's interactions with the world. Furthermore, the kitchen sequences dilute the residual bonding that manages to occur within them. There is too much reverence given to each procedure, as if its completion is an end unto itself—something that must occur and must be finished well—rather than being a mere exercise to enrich the characters involved in it. Again, episode seven is a prime example: the sudden tensions between Kouhei and Tsumugi that flare in such a brilliant scene are diffused, somehow, by the awkward act of making rice cakes. Contrast this with the stuffed peppers from episode four: though we barely see their preparation, their circumstantial presence comes to reveal the familiar and arresting matter of childhood dietary phobias, something that would have been harder to convey had the peppers been placed on the same pedestal as other dishes. Cooking and parenting present considerable challenges but yield great accomplishments, and this show demonstrated how well it can expose the technicalities and delights of each to a broad audience. Its flaw lay in how it weighed each of these goods against one another, for this imbalance ultimately came to dictate each episode's focus.
Tamako Love Story (movie) What a joy it was to see Kyoto Animations's dexterous visual storytelling on a large theatre screen. I had no familiarity with any characters from the Tamako Market series, but this proved not to matter one iota: every individual's distinctions are conveyed with thought and clarity, ensuring everyone in the audience became sufficiently acquainted to enjoy this simple romance. Character quirks and moments of levity elicited audible laughs from the auditorium, something that a home viewing lacks. As one would expect, directorial strengths encompassed all presentational matters. Carefully composed layouts and complementary sound design came together to instil a certain liveliness into each scene. Great significance is wrought from features as ordinary as the movement of limbs, the positioning of a character in a room, or the hum of background noise. This is a fine example of a studio in its sheer element. My only complaint concerns pace. After a revelation in the film's midpoint, the inevitable strains on main characters' relationship result in a sluggish and slightly meandering path. While every scene contains something worthy of attention during the latter sections, the film's ultimate direction is governed by certain sequences more than others. This presence of these superfluous cuts results in the work running short of time: a rousing climax is immediately followed by the credits, leaving the viewer in want of a dénouement to let the heightened mood settle. With such craft on display, I left the cinema wishing the film had been slightly edited to address this slight lacuna. Nonetheless, I look forward to seeing more of Naoko Yamada's work. KyoAni is clearly in deft directorial hands under her helm.
Teekyū (TV) Good gracious, this is not just a drug, or a mere source of ephemeral comfort, but a definitive cure-all for post-recession anime viewers and the social and psychological ills they face. The zenith of amusement for our troubled times. You see, dear reader, there was once a time when the budding otaku would expect from a slice-of-life comedy a solid twenty minutes of hijinks, playfulness and charming oddities. Characters that slowly endear through their quirks and errors. Maybe, horror of horrors, a semblance of storytelling. Gone are such times. In their place, thankfully, is Teekyu. The societal trends of increased literacy, under-developed attention spans and restricted leisure time are reflected in this lovable menace. Episodes last but two minutes apiece, characters, gags and references blur past in a colourful jumble, subtitles fill the lower screen in a frenetic attempt to keep the pace. You'll see, feel and forget it all, as if wolfing down the world's smallest cornucopia. You'll barely realise you are still breathing, yet alone chuckling. By condensing everything one expects from an oddball comedy into so short a running time, an enigma has been created. A surrealist sprint that leaves such notions as pacing, restraint and the fourth wall in tatters. A show that demands a familiarity with the tone of anime comedies yet simultaneously demands precisely nothing. An antidote to all that is nuanced or time-consuming. Try a little. It eases the pain.
Teekyū (TV 2)
Teekyū (TV 3)
Teekyū (TV 4)
Teekyū (TV 5)
Teekyū (TV 6)
Time of Eve (ONA) Pale Cocoon was lumbered by its coldness, but the director's following experiment is laudable for the slight-yet-significant warmth developing between distanced characters. Satisfaction comes easier to the viewer here, provided the hints and implications of the finale are given due contemplation.
Tojin Kit (movie)
Toradora! (TV)
Tsukigakirei (TV)
Video Girl Ai (OAV) When the direction was of a light-hearted nature the character relationships felt more tangible and inviting than during scenes of drama. At parts it came close to poignancy, yet approached the romance too forthrightly, as evident in the ending. It could perhaps be a sign of age rather than anything intrinsic though.
Voices of a Distant Star (OAV) Masterpiece Easily the most affective short film I have ever seen. A testament to its director's summative abilities that devastates through its lightness and sheer heart. When seen for a second time, its emotional core is nothing if not staggering.
Wakako-zake (TV)
Wanwa the Puppy (movie)
When Marnie Was There (movie)
Wolf Children (movie) Somehow I expected I would cross paths with this film eventually. Like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time we are invited into the world of a young woman and the trials she faces once acquainted with a man of unknown provenance, but similarities in content are otherwise few. We are offered not a film that explores the consequences of personal desire as such, but those of a simple but curtailed love that manifests into the delicate but often gruelling form of single motherhood. There is nothing thematically intense to this film, and as such I cannot call Hosoda’s work a study in parenthood or indeed in anything else, though one can nonetheless identify three arcs through which different themes integral to parenting are given cinematic expression. The first of these is how the film’s eponymous characters come to be. A distanced, montage-laden introduction shows our student heroine Hana becoming joyously enamoured by a dishevelled wolf-man. The element of fantasy at play comes not from his supernatural nature but rather the carefully orchestrated beauty by which the otherwise unassuming couple become lovers and parents, their dialogue often being muted so as to allow the camera to convey their passion without this focus being offset by any of the melodramatic outbursts that are both typical and detrimental to anime romances. The sudden but thoughtfully presented death of the wolf-man ushers the second arc, in which Hana copes with how to physically sustain her children. A familiar bucolic setting belies the tests of strength that come to dominate this section, in which Hana’s unyielding selflessness prevails over her lack of farming experience. By virtue of its content, this chapter is less arresting than the straightforward tragedy it follows, though it culminates with an astounding scene in which Hana and her lupine children hurtle in delight down a snow-topped peak, a climactic reward for her toils that is a treat to behold. Its stark, minimal sky-blue palette and flowing movement are as breathtaking as any action sequence one could wish for. Another dramatic turn beckons the third and final act, in which Yuki and Ame begin to grow up and assert their individuality. Having been rescued from drowning while learning to hunt, Ame grows attached to the world of the forest whereas his elder sister Yuki gravitates towards her school life. By symbolically assigning each of the wolf children a respective lupine and human role, Hosoda treads the familiar territory of the relationship between humans and their wilderness. This divide is shown most harrowingly in a vicious fight between the two children that is commendably presented in all its rawness, but sadly this rift between the characters is left without a conciliatory coda. It thus becomes only fitting that there is one climax for each of the child characters. Yuki, the human, finally admits her dual form to a school admirer, thereby coming to terms with her place amongst other people, whereas Ame, the wolf, turns his back on mankind but rescues his mother as a parting gift. The sheer emotional peak attained by the former scene comparatively mars the latter one. Whereas Yuki's conflict is accepted in a delicate but impassioned display of forgiveness and care, Ame merely howls in animalistic triumph from atop a crevice—complete with a sweeping orchestral crescendo—before a clichéd sunrise. We are invited to celebrate each event, as Hana does, though the comparative difficulty we encounter in sympathising with someone losing rather than embracing his humanity may betray how Hosoda wished for us to view wolves in general. A broader criticism Wolf Children faces is the fact that Hana is seen only to have others' interests in mind, and denied a plight as a self-standing woman with goals independent of her family. Such an absence will limit the film's appeal, though to expound upon Hana's character to a sufficient degree to address this issue would be to expand the scope of the film beyond that within which it manages to function, an endeavour that might have offset its central element. In any case, we can still tell that Hana acts through an independent and self-arising desire. Up to the film's very end it is apparent that her sacrifices to her children were an extended gesture of the love she wholeheartedly chose. It should be granted that the film’s lacunas are only noticed on reflection. In the moment of the unfolding screenplay they are lost in Hosoda's seemingly veteran direction, rivalling the best one can expect from the oeuvres of Ghibli or Makoto Shinkai, to which parallels with this work may be drawn. The rich presentation is simply marvellous and the soundtrack’s main theme is near sublime. What would have been a merely pleasant story about love, loss and childhood is turned profoundly moving under Hosoda’s abounding artistry and presentational detail. For the first time in a long while I sobbed throughout the credits. Despite its formal imperfections and lack of narrative complexity, Wolf Children still managed to be the most superbly emotional film I have seen since Shinkai’s Five Centimetres Per Second. If this tale does not prove to be Hosoda’s strongest contribution to anime, it will take something unprecedented from him to surpass it.
You're Under Arrest (OAV)
You're Under Arrest Specials
You're Under Arrest: The Motion Picture
Your Lie in April (TV) When at its worst, Your Lie in April squanders its moments of delicacy or profoundness with monologues that can never hope to match the sheer poetry of its soundtrack. When at its best though, the same show provides visual sequences as breathtaking as anything I have ever seen animated. More specifically, Kousei and Kaori's haphazardly performance of Saint-Saëns' Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso had me literally gasping for air, my jaw agape. Individual features of the piece, such as the main theme alternating between the piano and the violin towards its end, were enhanced into thrilling moments that the subsequent plot never matched through its own accord. I almost believed that such qualities were improvisations unique to the episode's performance, until previous recordings sadly revealed otherwise. I believe this indicates how this series scales the emotional peaks that it does: The occasion in which Tsubaki and Kousei discuss their feelings on a beach is tender only thanks to Debussy. The episode whereupon Kousei assists Nagi on stage speaks so forcefully of the bond between a student and her teacher only through Tchaikovsky's aid. What this anime achieves most triumphantly occurs when its score is used as a dramatic springboard to exceed what was possible strictly by the story's own merits. My only focussed criticism concerns its climax. As we know, Chopin's Ballade No.1 ends in a desolate fashion despite establishing a triumphant theme during an earlier crescendo. This telegraphs what we can expect in the series' finale. From the moment Kousei plays its famous opening bars in the penultimate episode, we are able to anticipate exactly which parts of the theme will represent love and decline respectively, well in advance of when such representations are made explicit. A further disappointment, albeit a minor one in the moment of viewing, is that Kaori's affections during this scene are conveyed through a superfluous violin accompaniment that only mimics the piano's rousing melody. I grant that it is necessary for her to play a musical role in what is certainly a powerful scene—indeed a scene in which her own death is represented—though I can only wonder how else such a directorial challenge could have been approached.
your name. (movie)
Zone of the Enders: Idolo (OAV) What can best be called a conventional mecha environment, bearing resemblance to many of its contemporaries, takes a tragic turn. For a mecha OAV based on a video game, to see such an eventuality is —by its presence alone— refreshing.

Will not finish Rating Comment
Cardcaptor Sakura (TV) Not really good I have no idea if the original unedited version of this is any better than the wholly uninspiring dub, but I err towards not finding that out.
Castle in the Sky (movie) Decent Although the sense of struggle to overcome the blatant "baddie" in the film was engaging, the sky pirates and dialogue limited my enjoyment of this. It is technically my favorite Miyazaki film however.
Diamond Daydreams (TV) Many of the requirements for a good romance show are met here, and for doing so this show ought not to be looked down upon. Limiting itself to unrelated two-episode arcs restricts the show from achieving its potential however, revoking any reason for me to continue watching it.
Excel Saga (TV) Decent No real plotlines here, but there needn't be. I got quite a lot of the jokes but some of the references were beyond me.
Full Metal Panic! (TV)
His and Her Circumstances (TV) I cannot find fault in the portrayal of the characters' budding relationship. None at all. I find one of the most off-putting devices in a dramatic work to be a continual juxtaposition of comedy against drama, a crime this show committed many a time.
Infinite Ryvius (TV) The premise seems lumbered great many characters, few of whom I wish to see develop in their predicament. For me to remain riveted by this over 26 episodes would require a drastic change in setting, something I doubt can happen.
Joker Game (TV)
Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) So-so Female protagonist wants to prove herself. What follows may be considered a spoiler: She does.
Kurau: Phantom Memory (TV) Whilst certainly above average, the episodes seen thus far deal with devices, characters and plotlines that other viewers would appreciate somewhat more than I did. My mild interest simply wasn't nurtured.
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (movie) The main character is a thief? Here's me thinking Miyazaki's tales promoted good morals. This one probably does eventually, but I didn't watch it for long enough to find out.
Magic of Stella (TV)
Mr. Osomatsu (TV)
Noein - to your other self (TV) Not really good Labeling ostensibly magical abilities and occurances as the effects of theoretical concepts within the mathematical sciences seems to be the path taken here. The plot may become something of interest, but the visual styling is not the sort I enjoy.
Pokémon (TV) Weak Like many others I was caught up in the craze. Nostalgic value is rife in this show, but from an adult perspective very little else is.
Pom Poko (movie) Weak I am aware of environmental concerns. I do not need to sit through things like this to be reminded of them. If any transforming sentient raccoon with an inflatable scrotum is offended by my lack of heart, please send me a telegram.
Princess Mononoke (movie) So-so Were it not for the talking animals, assorted spirits, historic setting and environmental theme I would have liked this.
Scorching Ping Pong Girls (TV)
Sola (TV) Weak A first episode drop. Forced its supernatural elements onto the viewer too quickly, exhibited poor dialogue and suffered from numerous genre clichés. A pity considering the score was decent.
Spirited Away (movie) So-so Yes, it is original. Yes, the visuals are memorable. Yes, it is deserving of some praise as a family film. No, it is not the be-all and end-all of anime. When one compares this film to the works of other equally talented anime directors, the level to which it boosted Miyazaki's reputation amongst the mainstream UK audience seems disproportionately high.
Tanoshii Moomin Ikka (TV) Not really good Mentioning this brings me back. Compared to other kids' cartoons of the early 90s I could never help but feel there was something unnervingly strange about the goings-on in Moominvalley.