dtm42's Anime

I've started to do comments for these. I eventually plan to do them all, however it will be at a snail's pace.

I pride myself for bothering to give a grade to everything I've finished. However, these grades are nevertheless in flux as I constantly reassess my ratings.

Seen all Rating
009 Re:Cyborg (movie) Weak
5 Centimeters Per Second (movie) Very good
91 Days (TV) Excellent
Abnormal Physiology Seminar (OAV) Decent
Abnormal Physiology Seminar (TV) Decent
Utterly repulsive in some ways, but oddly watchable in all its outrageousness. The half-length episodes help to keep things simple without keeping being so short as to lack substance. Also simple were the music, the animation and especially the basic character designs.

I really don't know what more to say about this. It occupies a niche for those people who want something more perverted than, say, Seitokai Yakuindomo. But it isn't as funny, although individual scenes are complete riots. I guess at the end of the day, your entire enjoyment of the show will depend on how squeamish you are.

Accel World (TV) Decent
Action Heroine Cheer Fruits (TV) Good
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero (TV) Bad
Afro Samurai (TV) Decent
The fight scenes in this are amazing, but especially the first. It would have done better if it had been twice as long, since there was no time for any sort of decent plot, not that they even tried. A lot was said about how Samuel L. Jackson was in this, but he hardly spoke (in his guise as Afro), so his involvement was mostly a publicity stunt.

All style, no substance. That sums this Anime up nicely.

Afro Samurai: Resurrection (movie) Awful
This was truly awful, hence the grade. I shudder to think how anyone could have been happy with it. Not surprisingly the fights were the best parts, and they were genuinely crap. Yep, I kid you not. The voice acting was horrid, the plot was utterly stupid, and the movie shat all over Afro, degrading him as a character. After it finished I thought to myself, "Gee, this piece of crap is one of the worst Anime I've ever seen". I still think that way. Stay well away from it.
After War Gundam X (TV) Very good
A bit too Super Robot for my tastes, but this is still one good series. Gundam X is easily as good as SEED and probably better, and it's a crying shame that it got cancelled. Even so, the production staff wrapped it up surprisingly well and gave it a fitting (if understandably hurried) ending. I really liked the characters and the themes, and in fact the entire show was better-written (by a country mile) than anything Tomino has ever put out.

I definitely recommend it to Mecha fans. Please watch it.

Aim For The Best! (movie) Good
You know, this movie is pretty dated. Not just the character designs but pretty much everything about it, including the crap animation and the folksy music and the stoic coach and the once-progressive (now normalised) themes. And yet this movie's core transcends time and resonates. It shouldn't be held back just because the technical merits of the time were not so good. As a story about a teenage girl who overcomes her reluctance and her fears to end up enjoying tennis, and her coach who pushes her to succeed at all costs, it is quite solid. Not spectacular, but I felt like I watched a good clean uncomplicated story and a plucky lead character who got a clear development arc. It's well worth the watch.
Aishiteruze Baby (TV) Good
Akiba's Trip: The Animation (TV) So-so
Akira (movie) Decent
To be honest I really don't see what all the fuss is about with this movie. The animation didn't blow me away like it has done for so many others. I felt myself unable to connect with any of the characters. Most of the movie was largely forgettable, the rampage at the end excepted. It wasn't a bad movie per se, not at all. But I'll be darned if I'm going to call it good. Hence, I've given it a middling grade. A nice diversion for a couple of hours I guess, but nothing special.
Alderamin on the Sky (TV) Very good
Alice & Zoroku (TV) Decent
Allison & Lillia (TV) Good
I can pinpoint the moment this show went from a possible Very Good to a definite Good. It was when the fourth arc went for a fifth episode. See, in Allison's half, there were three arcs of four episodes each and then one episode to conclude the half. This is a very logical and sensible way to do things. Indeed, the show could have ended at episode thirteen and still have been quite strong, so good was the resolution (while still keeping things massively open for a sequel hook). But the fourth arc, which was the first arc in Lillia's half, was stretched to five episodes. This meant that the arc overstayed its welcome with too much screentime of boring shots of the aircraft flying over a boring expanse of water. But more importantly, it meant that we never got to have a final episode to wrap things up and provide resolution for Lillia's arc.

But anyway, onto the actual show itself. It's very lovely with a low-key but pretty OP. The music generally was good and fitting with the period. The animation was fine for a mid-level series, but the art was quite good. The planes (and there were lots of them) were very detailed, which I appreciated. I'm not that into 1930s aircraft, but it's nice to see that the fanservice was limited to the mechanical side of things. The stories were generally well done and interesting, but every single arc had plot holes, some pretty serious. I can forgive a lot of it, but then we get problems like the aforementioned fourth arc, where Treize and Lillia end up in a morally reprehensible trap that the authorities knew about and yet allowed to go ahead. It was never explained, just hand-waved. I felt cheated by that. Both Allison and Lillia looked convincingly pretty as children, with older Allison deserving special merit for how beautiful a woman she turned into. I liked their feistyness, although Lillia came too close to the Tsundere mold. It was nice to see Allison be the strong and capable one of her duo and her efforts to subtly seduce Wil were always funny. Wil did sound strange as he was played by a woman (for Lillia's arc), but I thought his cluelessness was a more annoying trait. Also, his decision in episode thirteen felt too rushed, especially for something of that size. Treize was a more traditional male lead and I do feel sorry for him being paired up with the often irritating Lillia. But those two just didn't have the same chemistry as Allison and Wil.

This series had the ingredients to make something special but instead let itself down. Still a lovely show and still worth a watch.

Amagami SS (TV) Good
Yay, a dating sim adaptation which is actually watchable. Gosh, what is the world coming to?

The omnibus format of this is quite unusual. Normally such adaptations focus on one girl's story arc, to the detriment of the others. You can just tell which girl will get the guy in the end by the first episode or two alone, and the other girls exist only to meet fanservice and fetish quotas. This series however decided to show all the girls have their turn at love by resetting the calendar every four episodes and giving each girl her own arc. Most episodes do give the other five girls at least a cameo, however every girl is relevant for at least the length of her own arc. And if one girl, or the general writing in one arc, is not doing it for you, you only have to wait four episodes for a fresh new start.

But as good as the omnibus format is, it does have its downsides. Although arcs you don't like only last four episodes, arcs you do like only last four episodes as well. The rigid episode count - four episodes per girl, no exception made until the bonus seventh girl appears - means that most of the arcs are either stretched or squashed to fit precisely into the allotted timeframe. And of course telling a complete Romance story in just four episodes is a hard task anyway, let alone putting in character development and a story. The girls are rarely relevant outside of their respective arcs, which is a shame. I barely knew anything about them until it was time for the arc, and then - with the exception of fanservice courtesy of Haruka - we hardly hear from them again, except for the cameos.

Here's something people may have overlooked; if the guy is so important in turning the girls' lives around, or has such a deep connection with them, then what happens to the other girls every time he picks one of them? And as unfair as this may sound, the omnibus format cheapens the notion of true love. If he can fall in love with a different girl each time round, and often so quickly and easily, then where's the true heartache and longing?

Following on, I thought the writing was very uneven, dependent on the arc of course. Also uneven was the male lead. In some arcs he was almost a completely different person, at least in terms of his temperament, level of perversion, and depth of feelings towards certain girls. Finally, we had to sit through the same moments again and again and again. And then some. Some people find the beginning of a new relationship to be cute and lap this sort of thing, but I usually find them to be awkward and that was the case most of the time here.

I initially picked Amagami SS up because I liked the visual style of some of the images promotional posters I saw of it, and I'm glad I did. I liked this series, and it was easy to watch. In most cases the relationships progressed way too fast to be all that believable, but it certainly wasn't horrible. The omnibus format was novel, and for all the complaints I had it did work, though whether it was the novelty or not I don't know. The show is also worth rewatching at some point, if only because I now understand the characters better and can make sense of all the cameos.

Anyway, I do recommend it. And as usual, if I am recommending a Romance show then you know it has to be good. I am rather picky about these things.

Amagami SS+ (TV) So-so
Deary deary me, what a let down.

Like most people, I was surprised and more than a little confused when this season was announced. I wondered what was left to show? Five of the six stories had already ended with official couples, so where else could the stories go for another cour? Of course there was Rihoko's arc to wrap up - she really had been shafted in the first season - and indeed they did. But it was poorly done, just like the rest of the season.

Basically, the writing was pretty stupid this time round, trying to force drama into arcs for which we'd already been told the final outcome. This made for some really bizarre scenarios. It also made for character and relationship regression, with a couple of arcs just retreading similar ground to the first season.

An unnecessary season that only exists to make a quick buck. It offered nothing except fanservice and hurried closure for Rihoko. Absolutely not required viewing and it lets the franchise down. It wasn't bad, but it was in no way good either.

Amagi Brilliant Park (TV) Very good
Amanchu! (TV) Good
I subjectively enjoyed Amanchu! at a solid 8/10 level; I'm a sucker for healing anime, especially those featuring cute girls (which is most of them). However, in terms of its objective quality Amanchu! barely missed that mark, and earns a (still-credible) 7/10. A bit too repetitive, a bit too sappy with its dialogue, and the characters weren't as well fleshed-out as they should have been. Although, speaking of the other kind of "fleshed-out", the fanservice was noticeably a lot higher than in normal iyashikei shows, which was (pleasantly) surprising.

Anyway, despite the niggles which prevented it from achieving to its potential, Amanchu! was still a really sweet story with highly likeable characters and consistently good humour. It was never a chore to load up the next episode, and I do recommend it.

Angel Beats! (TV) So-so
I originally was going to rate this a Very Good. Now I think it was lucky to even get this much. Yikes.

So the positives. The music was, in short, superb. The opener ranks as one of the best I've ever heard, the closer is the perfect degree of mellow, and the insert songs rocked (often literally; hah). The show offered some inventive and intriguing ideas about religion, God and the afterlife. The show had a good mystery and knew it, feeding us tasty morsels which always made us come back for more. The humour was really well done; episode five will always be one of my favourite comedic episodes in any Anime, and TK was a gem. And there actually was a proper conclusion, which is uncommon enough in longer Anime; in a show of thirteen episodes that's quite an accomplishment.

And then we get to the negatives, and boy are there a lot. The biggest one would be the characters. No, I'm not talking about how the designs of much of the cast (Yuri especially) were blatantly based on the cast of Haruhi (although it does bug me a little). I'm referring to how most of the excessively large cast were one-note (if that) roles. This is okay in a comedy, but it just doesn't work in a drama. How are we supposed to get behind and root for such shallow constructs? How are we supposed to care? A couple of supporting characters got development, but they were the exceptions that proved the rule.

Related to that was the way in which the series cynically - and tried to manipulate the audiences' emotions via the various back-stories. Characters got manipulative and relatively absurd back-stories that had the reverse effect. Instead of making us care for them it just gave us the opportunity to glimpse at some of the many flaws in the writing. Yuri's backstory was the worst, as it was so far-fetched as to be unbelievable. Characters also suddenly changed their natures at the drop of the hat, with no apparent reason why other than because the writing needed them to. It wasn't just one or two offenders either, but a whole bunch of them.

The plot was an interesting one, with lots of potential for cool twists and interesting discussions on a variety of meaty subjects. (That said, I'll never get used to the ridiculous emphasis Anime places on all-powerful student councils.) But the story wasn't nearly as developed, explained and explored as much as it should have and could have been. Part of this is due to the writers continuing to throw in brand new concepts and ideas right up till almost the end, meaning there were many things that simply never got resolved. Important things too, not just little throwaway scraps.

And part of the problem was simply the pacing. We are thrown into the deep end straight away, so the start moves fast, and many things do happen over the course of the show. But the resolution to the plot is hurried, leaving an entire episode for the resolution of the characters. Which sounds fine, but in a thirteen-episode show you simply do not have the luxury of wasting an entire episode like that on the characters alone (it did try to resolve some loose plot threads but instead only raised more questions; lovely).

My impression from this series was that it could have been a top-tier title given the quality of the staff behind it and the studios involved, not to mention the general ideas the show had, but the writing let it down. At least it was enjoyable, although I had to turn my brain off for it to be that way.

Angel Sanctuary (OAV) Bad
Yeah, it's bad. The character designs are so bad they manage to be unintentionally funny. The plot is bad . . . hang on, there was a plot? I got more information from the blurb on the back of the case than from the OVA itself. I will never understand the Japanese obsession with portraying brothers and sisters as having such creepily close relationships (even at the best of times). This Anime just takes it that one little bit further, I guess.

At any rate, I wish I hadn't paid good money for something so brainless.

(The) Animatrix (OAV) Decent
It was alright. Because of its anthology nature, it managed to be quite uneven. Some directors concentrated on getting a huge animation budget, others had a wealth of creativity instead. Worth watching, but I'm not sure how well it did in its mission of spreading the word about Anime. Still, in any event it didn't hurt Anime's reputation, so it's all good.
anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (TV) Very good
A strong and fresh premise combined with a fantastic start unfortunately did not result in a superb series. It almost was, however there were some elements that let it down, pacing being the most obvious.

I can just see the meeting room for the production team. After the team has come up with four or five excellent episodes, I can picture one random guy throwing up his hands and crying "what now?" See, the series lost momentum in the middle, shoving most of the juicy emotional and plot-related developments into the final few episodes rather than spacing them all out. The finale was especially jam-packed, with so many emotional scenes and plot-bombs crammed in that I became worn out and it struggled to affect me. The characters never really developed until quite late, although there was the occasional hint.

The whole Anime came across as the work of someone who really struggled to turn their great ideas into a workable eleven-episode show. Perhaps a movie would have been better, in fact I'm sure it would. But, what we got was still a really, really good show, with a pair of beautiful themes for the OP and ED.

Geez there was a lot of crying in this, mostly towards the end. It's just too bad that I couldn't join in the characters. The show's premise had huge potential for emotional impact and yet inexplicably struggled to really move me in any notable way. I did seriously contemplate giving it a grade of Excellent, but I just couldn't justify it to myself. I could have forgiven the series for the general plot, pacing and direction problems if I had felt that all-important emotional connection, but the series never quite got me there.

I would recommend this show (with its absurdly long title) to people, especially those who like the sort of hard-hitting character drama and waterworks. I do know of some people who were moved to tears by the finale. I wanted to be one of them. Despite my disappointment, it is a great series, and another nail in the coffin of the idea that Anime has no originality these days. If only the writers could have followed through with the execution . . .

anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (movie) Very good
Another (TV) Weak
Ansatsu Kyōshitsu (special) Weak
Aoi Sekai no Chūshin de (TV) Not really good
A clunky three-episode special/OVA that doesn't even try to tell a proper three-act story. The story is shallow, the characters are shallow, the directing is pretty poor. It just comes off as a cheaply-made prologue to the real story, and if you want to watch the rest you have to read the Manga. It's kind of fun to find as many video game references as possible (and to know what they refer to), but that's the only real entertainment to be had here. Unless you like all the out-of-place sexual innuendo and sexual assault, that is. Sigh.

As an advertisement for the Manga it might work for some people, kind of. Shounen battles, numerous girls in skimpy outfits, video game references; some guys will certainly dig it. But it also doesn't show the Manga to be very good. Mediocre more like it. Apart from the gaming references, it certainly doesn't do anything else new or exciting to stand out from the Shounen crowd.

Appleseed (movie) Very good
Oh man, this movie is just GORGEOUS to look at. You can nitpick here and there, you can state that you don't like the use of different animation techniques, but so bloody what? It is an undeniably beautiful production. The chapel depicted in the opening fight is mind-blowing, and the city is just . . . just wow. Unfortunately, the march of time has meant that the visuals aren't as mouthwatering anymore, but back in 2004 Appleseed was where it was at.

The writing is sort of lame, as is the use of names from Greek mythology for no apparent reason (other than they supposedly sound cool. Well, not in this case). We are also thrown into the deep end in terms of story set-up. There is a rich world history to be told, and we hardly get any of it because of the movie format and the emphasis on numerous (awesome) fight scenes. There is quite a bit of politics and social commentary, but they take backstage to the action. That said, the story is still far, far better than what can usually be expected from big-budget CGI films, and on a recent rewatch in 2011 I managed to catch a lot more depth than I did when I first watched it in 2005.

I'll be blunt. Watch this movie for the visuals and for the fights, as they are still nicely done even after seven years, and treat the decent story as a nice bonus. Think like this and you'll be a happier viewer, I guarantee it.

Appleseed: Ex Machina (movie) So-so
A somewhat disappointing sequel, that's what this was.

First of all it was as beautiful as the first if not moreso, except that it wasn't as enthusiastic about showing it's technical merits as the first one was. Secondly, the writing was even worse than the first movie, which is kind of painful because that wasn't exactly known for it's impressive plot. In this movie I could see plot twists coming a mile away and I wasn't even trying; it was just so predictable. The story tried to include some more politics but it wasn't interesting at all. And Deunan was so fickle I couldn't really care about her.

I do feel sad that I ended up so apathetic towards it, but I certainly wanted to be excited. The heart clearly wasn't in the movie and that shone through to my feelings towards it. I have absolutely no desire to re-watch it; I thankfully do not feel that way about the first movie.

Aquatic Language (special) Good
Ar Tonelico (OAV) Bad
A one-shot OVA to promote the game, it is almost incomprehensible. Trying to introduce us to all the major characters, and pack in meaningful character banter and development, and show us good action scenes, and provide a story hook . . . to do all those things in a two-cour series is difficult enough, but in twenty-two minutes it is next to impossible. And that's if the production team get piles of money and are staffed with veterans and/or geniuses. Which this was obviously not. Only watch it if you have already played the game. It is so poorly done that it doesn't even work as a trailer.
Arakawa Under the Bridge (TV) Decent
The tried to shoehorn in a plot, rather unsuccessfully I must say. There were half-hearted attempts at romance that never lasted long. Forget about any sort of themes like "don't judge people before you get to know them", and don't even bother to look for any meaningful social commentary.

The whole point of this show was the very quirky, even bizarre brand of humour it exuded. If the show ever tried to become serious, the humour would always bring it back down to Earth. Unfortunately, making the humour so important means that you've got nothing to fall back in the times when the laughs stop coming and the cringe factor sets in. As happened not infrequently in these thirteen episodes.

Now don't get me wrong it was funny more often than not, hence my positive grade overall. But it is not by any means riotous fun, and without a crutch it sort of needed to be. This show was a decent diversion for five hours of my life, but despite being incredibly zany it is also largely forgettable. Don't expect too much from it.

Argento Soma (TV) Decent
Aria the Animation (TV) Decent
Armored Trooper Votoms (TV) Decent
Arpeggio of Blue Steel - Ars Nova (TV) Not really good
Asura (movie) Very good
Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (TV) Good
Atom The Beginning (TV) Decent
Attack on Titan (TV) Good
Attack on Titan (TV 2/2017) Very good
Aura: Koga Maryuin's Last War (movie) Very good
It was a surprisingly good film which shows chuuni syndrome in a less glamorous light than anime usually tries to frame it. The story has some pretty nasty bullying and genuine social isolation, and the theme of suicide and whether it's the answer is also explored. It's worth a watch.
Azumanga Daioh (TV) Very good
Baby Steps (TV) Excellent
Baby Steps (TV 2) Excellent
Baccano! (TV) Good
Unlike many overhyped shows I can at least see why people - especially Westerners - would like Baccano!. It's well animated, the score is superb, the tone is energetic and the cast is full of memorably crazy larger-than-life characters. But I have always been perplexed at how certain people can be so enamoured with a show that is so extremely graphic and sports such fetishistic and sadistic violence, and yet be so against violence in other shows. And despite the show's obvious technical quality and the chronology shenanigans, it is hardly impressive from a scriptwriting standpoint, so I too find it weird that Baccano! makes so many people's top-ten lists.
Bakemonogatari (TV) Excellent
This is an amazing Anime, one of the best in the last couple of years. I almost gave this a Masterpiece, but it wasn't - quite - up to that standard. Still a bloody good show though.

The show is filled with witty and clever dialogue; no surprise considering the writer of the original Light Novels. However, the dialogue sometimes - okay, often - got too rambling, overbearing, or just plain started to go in circles. I did appreciate hearing what Koyomi was thinking, but we didn't have to hear every little thought he had, even if most of them were funny or insightful. The dialogue also sported many Japanese puns, especially when talking about the nature of the Oddities afflicting people. I fully accept that I am not the target audience of the show, but my viewing experience was not as good as it could have been. That may sound crass of me, but I am unapologetic.

The visual style was unique, and no, I am not referring to how the first scene in the entire show is a slow-motion pantyshot. I'm talking about the art. Bare-bones to the point of being minimalist, but with an almost fantasy touch. I don't know if the style was dictated by budget concerns, but given that SHAFT made it I would go out on a limb and say yes. However, given that this was made by Akiyuki Shinbo, I would say no. Hmm. There are some scenes which seemed unfinished, and of course the infamous Nadeko "fight" scene was a clear case of QUALITY. However, the frequent cuts to still images and text was no doubt an artistic rather than a budgetary decision (it does help that such cuts were a great way to save money, but still). Anyway, what I can say for sure is that the art style is sure to get your attention, oh boy yes.

Perhaps the show's biggest strength - okay, definitely its biggest strength - are the two main characters. Hitagi is a Tsundere who actually becomes likeable, but never loses her edge. She has her cute girlish moments, and she has her no-nonsense "I wear the pants in this relationship" moments, and both feel so natural. She doesn't have manic-depression, she isn't bi-polar, and she certainly does not have a split personality. I say that because modern Tsunderes are practically depicted as being mentally ill, what with their violent and sudden mood swings and all. And then there's Koyomi. He actually exhibits typical harem-male-lead behaviour such as being perverted, being dense, trying to help everyone, and getting whipped around by the girls. However, he is also sarcastic, witty, funny, insightful, calmer (as in, less easily flustered), and when it comes down to it, he's got the balls to be decisive. Even his negative traits are given interesting new twists; how many male leads would beat up and grope an eight-year-old girl, and then boast about it? Trust me, it is a heck of a lot more funnier (and less perverted) as it sounds.

Bakemonogatari is a great reconstruction of Harem shows, with two great leads and some refreshing visuals (no matter the actual reason for the style's existence). It is very highly recommended. I can't give it a Masterpiece, I just can't, but boy is it close. Maybe if they'd ended it a bit stronger, or animated the prequel first - so I knew what the relationship was between all the characters - then it might have gotten the highest grade. Nevertheless, this is what Anime can offer when strong source material is adapted by a talented creative team.

Bakuman. (TV) Excellent
Along with Hikaru no Go, one of the best Shounen I've ever had the pleasure to watch. Interesting that both are based on real life occupations.

Okay, so the whole "let's not talk to one another until we have achieved our dreams" bit is a horrendous piece of storytelling, but that's not the fault of the Anime. In fact, from what I can tell, the show at least tried to address the issue as best it could, mainly by focusing more on the characters and their relationships rather than make the actual Manga-making the main focus of the story. And this is why the show worked so well. Delights such as the two boys and their girlfriends, Hattori, Nakai and Nizuma, but many other characters too, really helped bring a standard Shounen formula to life. The subtle twists kept things relatively fresh, while the show's narrative was impressively executed.

I can't wait for the already announced second season. And as for the rating I gave this season, look, it cannot escape such a horrible plot foundation. But it does everything else so well that I have no compunction giving this an Excellent.

Bakuman. 2 (TV) Excellent
Even better than the first season. I got chills when PCP was floated. However, that silly promise of marriage is still an albatross around the show's neck, although Miho did get some good screentime with Moritaka.
Bakuman. 3 (TV) Very good
It is the worst of the three seasons by a fair stretch, mainly by putting Azuki on a figurative bus for much of the season. Until the final few episodes she had less screentime and dialogue than almost every other character in the season, including the assistants. The season was also rushing through the material instead of adapting it naturally. This really hurt a lot of characters and storylines, none more so than the "make our dreams come true" story which is the driving one of the entire series. It did not get the weight and attention it deserved, despite the screentime devoted to Mashiro working hard towards it. And though the ending was satisfying, I felt it relied too much on nostalgia for the earlier better material, which was referenced heavily. Interesting to note that the OPs and EDs also pushed the nostalgia angle.

But, for all of its faults, this was still enjoyable Shounen, even if the gloss had come off it a bit.

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman (TV) Not really good
I get that it tried to be a sendup to old-school Anime, but it tried so hard to copy others that it really didn't have its own style. It's just a mish-mash of different homages to different genres. It is also extremely, utterly stupid, taking in the worst excesses of the various genres it apes. There is a good and surprisingly dark story behind all the goofy shenanigans, but it's just not worth it. I will say though that visually this show looks great, with classy opening credits and simple but very effective closing credits. The crisp character designs are also quite well done. The music is pretty nice; I don't have much of an ear for it but even I could tell that the tracks were of good calibre and used to good effect.

Is it a good show? No. The ending was far too hurried, the writing is a mess and it tried too hard to copy other styles. But is it a fun show to watch? Yes. As long as you don't take it seriously, this is actually pretty enjoyable.

BanG Dream! (TV) Decent
Banner of the Stars (TV) Good
Banner of the Stars II (TV) Very good
Banner of the Stars III (OAV) Very good
I love politics and the military, so this should have been great. But I also love romances and - where possible - clear resolutions. If this OVA had an animated sequel then I probably would have rated it as Excellent. But it doesn't, so I didn't. They - the staff - did their best with the short run-time, but there was absolutely no real progress to Jinto and Lafiel's relationship, and nor did anything change regarding the war.

Basically, this was a very lovely and nicely executed side story, but as a finale it utterly fails. I want more Lafiel dammit, is that too much to ask?

Barakamon (TV) Excellent
Barefoot Gen (movie) Weak
Yes, I am giving this movie a grade this bad. A grade which is perfectly justified in my opinion.

Let's start with Gen's voice. It was simply abysmal. The Seiyuu, who was just a kid, wasn't good at all and shouted most of his lines in a horrible and irritating voice. Kids can be rambunctious, but for heaven's sakes they don't speak like that. At least he was the worst (the others could hardly have eclipsed him), although as the titular character he was the most important role.

One thing everybody expects when reading about Hiroshima is a depiction of the actual bombing. And unless you are shown actual footage then what you are watching is someone's interpretation. "Ah," I hear you say. "The director was actually there. He knew what it was like". But he didn't. He was just a child after all. A stone wall wouldn't have protected him as well as it did given the events happening around him, and how close he must have been to the epicentre. The progression of the symptoms was not correct. The way Gen lasted so long before rapidly losing only his hair was not accurate.

Basically, much of the depiction of the bombing and the aftermath was at least partially inaccurate and riddled with mistakes. People do not instantly die from drinking fatal quantities of radioactive water; unfortunately it is much slower than that. Another mistake I noted was that the bomb detonated only seconds after being dropped instead of the forty-three-second-delay, which is clearly wrong. That mistake should never have come up if the writers had done their basic research.

But the biggest problem I have with the movie is how it did such a great disservice to the dead. The movie tried hard to get us to like his family, and by and large it did. But I'm talking about the wider dead. It turned the walking dead into mindless zombies (as opposed to the Einstein strain of zombies). It might seem like a logical choice to make, but it dehumanises the dead, making their suffering seem trivial. Sure, with their eyes burnt out of their sockets and their mouths fused shut they would have looked like zombies, but to completely show them without humanity is one artistic choice I cannot agree with. Also, when Gen met the dying soldier it was treated almost comically. "Hah, his hair is falling out. Oh, he's pooped his pants. Oh no, he can't stand up". Not only is this not how radiation sickness progresses, but it mocked the victims of Hiroshima, something I'd thought would be the last thing the movie would do.

This movie was a huge disappointment. It barely touched on the foreboding aspect, the bombing sequence was like what I'd imagined being under the influence of LSD would be like, and the movie absolutely did not handle the aftermath well. It was crap.

Barefoot Gen 2 (movie) Very good
Well this movie was a heck of a lot better than the previous one, that's for sure.

Without the weight of expectation that comes with depicting the bombing itself, this movie was far more natural and flowed really well. What I thought was going to be a tired plot about street youths surprisingly turned into a rather sentimental and emotional story about survivors suffering all over again by the actions of their own countrymen. The movie nicely covered the discrimination and mental and physical scars that they faced, as well as how they dealt with their predicament.

Gen's voice sounded too old for a nine-year-old boy but at least it was a far better performance than from the first movie (although it couldn't have been much worse). The movie did look noticeably better, and I was never distracted by the quality of the visuals, although I did experience lag between the audio and video.

You don't need to have watched the first movie to enjoy this one, and in fact I recommend that you don't bother with the first at all.

Bartender (TV) Very good
As a teetotal I was not the target audience for this show. But I appreciated the attention to detail, the focus on the characters and the human condition, and the very relaxing atmosphere the show exuded. I also found the show's penchant to use characters from one story as partial narrators in the others to be very interesting. I think the writing was a bit heavy on the "bartenders are amazing" spiel, and it was frequently a tad boring. But ultimately I enjoyed this show well enough, and it deserves major kudos for being mature and high-brow.
Basilisk (TV) Very good
Basquash! (TV) Bad
You know, I have no idea why I kept watching this through to the end. I guess force of habit. The first five episodes were ridiculous of course, but they were filled with so much energy that I got suckered in. Me, a guy who hates Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann to the bottom of his soul. Huh.

But why did I watch the rest? What an effing waste of my time. It got so moronic in places that I should have just stopped complaining and simply dropped it. The fanservice didn't help, quite the opposite (because it was so blatant). The battles past episode five were largely yawn-inducing AT BEST. And the characters were poorly done. Perhaps I stuck around for the first ED music, which was very catchy and always worth watching.

Okay, so my troubles are all my fault because I bothered to watch it in the first place. I KNEW it wasn't going to be good (giant robots with car-shaped torsos playing basketball? Groan), but yet I watched it anyway. Still doesn't change the fact that the show is a piece of crap.

(The) Beast Player Erin (TV) Good
Oh, where to begin. The kiddy show that could have been so much better but for a few tweaks. Isn't that the way it always goes?

It is obvious that this was a low-budget show. Reused animation, recaps and constant flashbacks pad the episode count. The background art can best be described as 'quaint', which is to say it looks like it was drawn by children. It does add a slightly surreal and whimsical atmosphere, but it also is further evidence that this show had budgetary problems. The music is heavily recycled, with the same tunes played over and over again.

And yet, it could have been so good, even with a limited budget. The world-building was almost non-existent - we never learn about any other country except for one notable exception - but the country building was fantastic. We were shown how the different aspects of the country worked together (or not). Everything felt so real, with the monarchy claiming direct descent from a goddess, the two rulers at loggerheads with one another over how to fix the ever-widening and completely believable rift that was enveloping the country, and the citizens of both sides ostracising one another for being either too selfish or too barbaric. The political situation was very well crafted, and not just for a children's show either. Which, if I had to guess, perhaps stems from the source material being written by the same author as Moribito.

It was also very violent for a children's show. Much of the violence was stylised but I don't think little children would be into it. Which probably makes sense, since raising the beasts was shown to be a dangerous and largely unrewarding task. This show was certainly no Pokemon. Add in political assassinations, poisoning adopted parents, hints of suicide, parents selling their child off for gold, a member of the royal family being a shameless womaniser, a major character losing digits on one hand and another major character being eaten alive, this is NOT a children's show despite the storybook look.

What I was most disappointed with was how - spoiler alert - Erin reneges on her own morals, and without explaining herself. I thought this was especially stupid. Another problem was the feud between the two brothers, which seemed to be so pointless and was started in a truly bizarre way. One brother defends the Queen and the other brother overhears and lambasts him for insulting the Queen? WTF? Then there was that dude from the Mist People who followed Erin around and never did anything. He gave the important backstory to her but then never helped out at all when it really mattered, making him just a walking exposition device. Finally, and I bet most people agree with me, the two 'comic relief' idiots were absolutely horrible and should never have been used.

But despite its problems, this was a solid show. Erin was a strong and sympathetic lead with her heart in the right place. She is also a rare example in fiction of a genius being portrayed accurately, not just in her knowledge but in her very mannerisms. Things like interrupting the class to ask questions because she's never been in a classroom and always had an intelligent adult to teach her one-on-one. It's a small but memorable touch. As for the touda and beast lords, both were quite scary. These are not cuddly little animals, they're true beasts. Even when you can befriend one you can never tame it. I liked that, and I also liked Erin's methods for dealing with them. When was the last time a Mon show put that much thought into the living conditions and behaviour of its critters?

Too violent and intelligent for children, and a little bit too childish and repetitive for adults, Beast Player Erin occupies an awkward spot. But it is worth the watch nevertheless. Getting back in touch with your inner child and seeing amazing scenes like the first time Lilan responds to Erin . . . well, it can't hurt.

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (TV) Excellent
Berserk (TV) Very good
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King (movie) Good
Too much was cut from the story, and the animation was often clunky and even downright terrible. But it's still the same old strong Berserk story, so it's watchable enough.
Berserk: The Golden Age Arc II - The Battle for Doldrey (movie) Very good
Now this is more like it.

The animation and CG look have been vastly improved, so the creators obviously learned valuable lessons from the first movie. Another improvement is that while a lot has still been left out plot-wise, it doesn't feel like we are only getting the bare-bones story, even though we are. The movie's pacing is actually fairly well done, and the story is clear to follow, especially compared to the first movie. That said there were still some problematic areas. For example there are several quite large continuity issues that do niggle at the realism, and the members of the Band of the Hawk are not really fleshed out. Of course, the movie's main strength was supposed to be gory action, and it delivers. The fight scenes look fantastic, with the sort of quality choreography and smooth bloody savagery that we've longed dreamed for in the Berserk franchise, but which the first movie didn't quite deliver on.

In almost every way this is a superior effort to the first movie, with obvious signs of lessons being learned and a more sure hand at the helm. I look forward to the third movie and hope it finishes the Golden Age arc as well as this movie continued it.

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc III - The Advent (movie) Good
Beyblade (TV) Weak
Beyblade: V-Force (TV) Bad
Beyond (OAV) Good
Beyond the Boundary (TV) So-so
Great animation and music, as expected from Kyoto Animation. Cop-out ending, as expected from Kyoto Animation. Most of the key areas were deficient. Horrible balance between humour and drama, killing the mood and making for a muddled tone. SHOUTING IS DRAMA mindset; did Mari Okada work on this? Relatively weak plot that's poorly-thought-out. Zero-dimensional screw-the-world-cause-it's-fun villain. Plot twist that raises more questions than answers. Badly-realised and highly annoying one-dimensional characters who have ridiculous attributes instead of meaningful personalities.

Ya know, So-So may be a poor rating, but this show got off lightly.

Birdy the Mighty Decode: The Cipher (OAV) Good
Birdy the Mighty Decode:02 (TV) Very good
Birdy the Mighty: Decode (TV) Decent
Black Jack The Movie Very good
Black Rock Shooter (TV) Good
Blade (TV) Good
Blade of the Immortal (TV) Good
Blast of Tempest (TV) Very good
Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody So-so
Blood Lad (TV) Very good
Blood-C (TV) Awful
Blood-C: The Last Dark (movie) Bad
More tolerable than the television series, but still an absolute piece of crap. CLAMP really have been abysmal lately. Even the fight scenes weren't as good as in the series, and the final monster was done in cheap CG. Couldn't care about any of the inconsequential bit Otaku characters, Saya's reaction/behaviour at the end is like WTF, the plot was weak and poorly-executed, and generally the whole movie stank from start to finish. But hey, at least there were no bunny blenders; thank goodness for that.
Blood: The Last Vampire (movie) Decent
Blue Drop (TV) So-so
Blue Exorcist (TV) Decent
Blue Exorcist (movie) Good
Blue Gender (TV) So-so
Blue Spring Ride (TV) Very good
It is sad when such relatively small niggles hold back what was for most of its run a superbly told story.

After a relatively unimpressive first couple of episodes this show found its feet and told a moving story about emotionally-troubled teens learning to accept themselves. It wasn't just good but actually strong, with some finely-crafted and moving scenes. The show could easily have earned a rating one grade higher had we gotten some decent romantic resolution. An anime-original ending would have been preferable here and relatively easy to do, since the anime ended on a natural stopping point anyway. I'm not saying I am unhappy that we didn't get an official couple, but the way it was left hanging (with an interrupted confession and a new possible love interest for Futaba) was unsatisfying. In other areas, the story did wrap up Kou's family and self-esteem issues very nicely, and Futaba is also a thoroughly changed person (for the better). Which makes me wonder what sort of arcs both of them could have in the rest of the manga; haven't they already learned the life lessons they were supposed to?

This show just reinforces my view that shoujo stories need to quit while they are ahead rather than unnecessarily dragging things out. Most of the characters - even the supporting ones, who also experienced big improvements over the show's run - are ninety-plus percent of the way towards having their respective arcs resolved. If the anime had wanted to finish the arcs off then it could have easily done so, especially if a thirteenth episode had been added. So it is quite painful and frustrating to see everything being left to just hang there, so close to finishing but never to be unless you read the source manga (which will just drag things out even more).

Blue Submarine No.6 (OAV) Weak
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (OAV) Good
This OVA serves as the perfect appetiser. It's funny, memorable, and made me check out the actual series (which isn't nearly as good). It milks the weird situation for what it was worth and the twist was great. It is also the perfect length to make its point without overstaying its welcome. I know of a number of people who would dislike the T.V. series if I showed it to them and yet would enjoy this OVA.
Bokurano (TV) Good
Boogiepop Phantom (TV) Decent
(The) Book of Bantorra (TV) Very good
If you can, I would advise you to look past Hamyuts' character design (specifically her cleavage) and penchant for bunnies, and the horrible animation of the first half of episode one. I know it's hard, but if you do you'll find that this is actually a solid show that deserves far more credit than has been given thus far.

Pretty much every little event in the first half is relevant in the second, when the pieces of the overarching plot come together and you go, "Aha! So THAT'S why..." And when was the last time you saw a show - any show, but especially an Anime show - invent an entirely new religion and have it make sense? Sure, it is not all that complicated, but the Church Of Drowning In God's Grace has a religious philosophy that is logical from their point of view, and they act on it accordingly. They are not all crazies, although they are inhumane (but then, few religions aren't), and they hold a dark secret. Which of course is linked to the Bantorra Library, and boy is it a big one. There's hidden depths to the plot as it slowly but surely reveals its secrets, and I can't say that about most shows.

The characters at first don't seem interesting either, but as they say, patience is a virtue. The action isn't the star of the show, and only acts as a complementary role. Which is a little annoying, given the wide range of powers and all the people who wield them, but it doesn't really detract from the show all that much. I certainly appreciated that the series was not another Shounen fight-fest, that's for sure.

This show is little seen, and the ratings given for it are not impressive at all. However, I wonder how many people were put off by the opening few episodes which were fairly confusing and seemed (but, we learn, were actually not) uncoordinated and irrelevant. Maybe the unfortunate choice of ALI PROJECT for the first opener was partially to blame; apparently, people really hate them. Or maybe the fanservicey character designs of Hamyuts and Noloty coupled with the Shounen-type powers had everyone running for the hills. I don't know.

What I DO know is that this is vastly under-appreciated show which defied genre conventions and made for a thoroughly decent watch by mid-way. If you give it the chance to prove itself, it will reward you.

Brave Story (movie) Not really good
Completely forgettable. So much so in fact that even though I only watched it three months ago I can't remember anything about it, let alone why I rated it this low.
Broken Blade (movie series) Decent
Brynhildr in the Darkness (TV) Decent
Btooom! (TV) Good
Superb character development, good tension, exciting mind-games and a nice visual style all help cover the cracks of this show. The biggest flaw the show has is the premise; a game company kidnaps players of titular Btooom! (the company's most popular game) and pits them against one another in a real-life survival game based on Btooom!. However, the execution is quite solid, especially the character development. Ryouta starts off as an extremely unlikeable NEET but grows into a strong and caring young man, while Himiko - although providing almost all of the show's fanservice - is more than just a pretty face and has deep-seated issues of her own that she must deal with.

The ending of Btooom! was alright on its own; it left a lot of threads dangling and there was a cliffhanger, but I still found it satisfying in how the characters had proven that they'd matured and also how the relationship was handled. However, this show absolutely bombed in Japan (pun not intended), and is unlikely to ever get a second season. Even though the ending we got wasn't too bad, it is holding the show back from a higher grade. If it did get a second season (big "if"), then the ending would no longer be a problem and I would be sorely tempted to bump this first season up to a Very Good.

Long story short, weak premise, great character development, and don't go into this show expecting a complete story or a prospect of a second season. You will almost certainly have to read the Manga past where the show ends.

Bungaku Shōjo (movie) Decent
Bunny Drop (TV) Masterpiece
C – Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility (TV) Bad
Not so long ago I would have be outraged if anyone dared to use the words "noitaminA" and "bad" in the same sentence. Then Fractale came and I thought it was just an unpleasant aberration. Now that I've finally cringed my way through all of [C], I am getting a sinking feeling that the once-strong block is fading, and fast.

The noitaminA block has always seemed to be a bastion of more . . . mature fare, intellectually speaking, but [C] incontrovertibly did its level best to destroy that sentiment. In it is a magical world so poorly conceived in purpose and intent that even the various incarnations of the Digital World from the Digimon franchise look like hard science fiction. The card battles are so bad they look like rejected prototypes from a Trading Card Game tie-in series; even Duel Monsters from Yu-Gi-Oh! makes more sense. And the economic "literacy" of the writers came across as even worse than high-school grade, a damning flaw in a show which wanted to be high-brow.

But those criticisms, valid though they are, are not the real reason I hated this title. It was just a crappy, crappy show. Not just mediocre, but actively bad.

The whole future versus present philosophical clash was mind-numbingly dumb in both ideas and execution, a final twist of the knife to a show which was already fatally wounded by that point. The love interest only existed to be a catalyst and was not a real character by herself. The male lead was all over the place personality-wise, so unsure of what to do with himself that the story suffered, which in turn did not know what to do with him. Classic chicken and egg scenario of fail. I guess the show's moralistic bent, that being financially responsible and having humble but fulfilling goals is something to be derided, probably didn't help matters. There was no rhyme or reason to anything that went on, we never really learnt what the [C] phenomenon really was or what caused it, let alone who ran the Financial Districts or even what the Financial Districts even were.

I've spent more than enough time on this piece of garbage. I only finished it so that I would have ammunition to use against people who see the noitaminA label and so refuse to accept that it is a terrible show. I don't know if Picasso ever made crappy paintings, but I can tell you that not every noitaminA show is of some mythical gold-plated standard, nor is the block some bastion of high quality as it used to be [thought of as].

Cannon Fodder (movie) Good
Cardcaptor Sakura (TV) Decent
Castle in the Sky (movie) Good
(The) Cat Returns (movie) Very good
Very enjoyable and has a lot of great moments, but it was too short and so rushed the character development and some key plot points.
A Centaur's Life (TV) Very good
Chaika - The Coffin Princess (TV) Decent
Overall it was a good watch but it was terribly uneven. Very solid for the first nine episodes, quite weak for the final three (to the point where the show almost fell apart), which did put a dampener on the enjoyment levels. Still, it had an interesting world, strong premise, sympathetic characters and some exciting battles. The tone was also handled well and the show was adept at using goofy humour to lighten the mood when things got too dark. Much better than the awful second season.
Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle (TV) Not really good
Chaos;HEAd (TV) Weak
(Le) Chevalier D'Eon (TV) Very good
Chibits (special) So-so
Chihayafuru (TV) Masterpiece
This is such an amazing show, made all the better because of how unexpected the quality was. Card Game Anime have a dubious reputation and for good reason, so when I heard about Chihayafuru I was sceptical. Not only that, the card game was about playing snap but with poems written on the cards. My expectations were not high. Yet I gave it a shot and am so very glad that I did. There isn't a single weak episode of this show. Every episode is at least sufficient, and many are genuinely strong. Even the recap episode was okay to watch, as it didn't just try and be a recap but rather a place for some very funny and self referential jokes.

The first thing you notice is how good it looks. The animation budget wasn't very high but the artistry is simply amazing. Then you notice how it sounds, namely like a heartwarming Disney movie. And then gradually, as the episodes roll by, you start to realise that holy cow this is good. It's not in your face about it, it doesn't set out to deliberately impress you. The show is more concerned about assembling and fleshing out the characters (beginning with a highly unusual three-episode flashback), and it should be no surprise that they are its biggest strength. The actual game of karuta is nothing special, but because we care about the characters we can get into karuta, which admittedly is far more complex and interesting than the glorified game of snap it first comes across as. The humour is also a strong point, and not only the jokes funny but they are well-utilised.

It was very disheartening to hear how poorly this did in Japan; it came in well under the break-even point and effectively bombed. But, it did its job of promoting the Manga which experienced increased sales, and so a second season has been greenlit. Straight away that negates the only problem that the series had and that is the non-ending. That means this is a flawless show, and I cannot stress how much it deserves this rating.

Chihayafuru 2 (TV) Very good
Although it was still pretty good, this season was very disappointing. It got itself mired in an interminable two-day tournament that lasted two-thirds of the season. While there were some great moments, the focus was very poor in many places. The two new members never felt like they were a true part of the team, some of the most important matches were given only cursory coverage, the constant flashbacks compounded the slow pacing, and too much screentime was given to opponents who simply didn't matter.

Still definitely worth a watch if you were a fan of the first season, but not the must-see Masterpiece that the first season was. Pity.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices (movie) Very good
Chobits (TV) Decent
Chocotto Sister (TV) So-so
I had actually written a great analysis of Chocotto Sister but my browser crashed and now I have to redo it. Five paragraphs down the drain; sigh. But since I can't be bothered, all I'll say is that the lolicon tendencies and brainless fanservice and harem hi-jinks spoilt what was actually a great show. If the series hadn't constantly shot itself in the foot then it could well have been rated as Very Good. That's based on its accomplished and understated drama, its enjoyable slice-of-life content, its strong themes, and its surprisingly effective emotional impact. Geez, what a waste of all that good writing.
Chōyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi (TV) Very good
Chronicles of the Going Home Club (TV) Decent
Fairly uneven, and the whole tsukkomi and boke routine got a bit old. Meta jokes and gags that broke the fourth wall often seemed shoehorned in there to fill in time. And what was with the fascination with seals? Weird. Still, it put a smile on my face more often than not, and it got more assured of itself in later episodes. The show also knew how to poke fun at itself. A respectable effort and an easy watch, especially if you want something light and fluffy to unwind after work.
Clannad (TV) Very good
I really wanted to hate this, and I thought I would too. I have never hidden my intense dislike of Moe, and this is one of the more notable Moe shows. But you know what, expectations are made to be broken. Which is horrible when you expect something to be good only to be crushed by a sense of betrayal, but luckily the flipside is also true. It is always a treat to watch something that you just know will be bad but which actually turns out to be a strong series.

Even after just four episodes Clannad was shaping up to be a great series, and the rest did not disappoint. Throughout the show there was an undercurrent of wry and often hilarious humour, which provided welcome breaks from the hard-hitting dramatical moments. And wow, the emotional punches landed on mark time after time, even though it was (usually) obvious that they were coming. The two biggest and most effective moments effectively bookended the show, coming rather early and very late in the series, but the rest were good too. Even a slightly subdued scene of the two Fujibayashi sisters hugging and crying had powerful weight behind it.

All this drama, and let's not forget all this humour too, and yet none of it depends on the Moe elements the series is so well known for. And that's what I think makes Clannad so successful. The Moe seen here is not a crutch to lean upon, it is merely a form of constant non-Ecchi fanservice for those so inclined. At first I hated the character designs as all the females look like they are some species of amphibious fish, what with their eyes so large and far apart. But once I got used to the designs (easily within the first five episodes), they didn't bug me anymore. I was too busy laughing and empathising with the characters to notice, let alone care.

There is more to Moe than just overly-cute designs. It often has a "normal" male lead who goes around helping several girls (all of whom are into him, to varying degrees) with their deep-seated problems. Except Tomoya was actually exciting and interesting to watch, Youhei always managed to be funny (at his own expense; hah), and the girls were not all damsels in distress. They often needed help, but they weren't completely objectified and came off as almost normal. Almost; this is still a Moe show. But I guess their personalities just didn't bug me, which is unusual since it so often does. I was a little annoyed with Nagisa's hesitation on the romance front, but her shyness is nothing that I haven't seen before. Heck, Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke was ten times worse.

Actually, the thought of romance leads me onto another point. Many harem shows attempt (very poorly) to tease the viewers about whom the male lead will choose, as if it is never obvious. Clannad always made it clear that Tomoya was only ever interested in one girl, and he didn't try to lead on the others. Even the other girls realised this fact, and it didn't take them until the end of the series. Nor did they pull out their claws or anything, trying to steal Tomoya away, so I was thankfully spared Shoujo-style antics. They accepted his decision - before he even made it, or was fully aware of his own feelings - and supported the couple, which I thought was really nice.

Clannad is a triumph of execution. It does more than offer a twist on the standard Moe formula, but rather it mixes Moe into a show which was already very good. The trick they pulled off was to keep the show's quality even after the Moe went in, and I'm glad they managed it. Moe-lovers will of course salivate over the designs, but there is plenty for someone such as myself to appreciate. It is a Moe show that I would - and do - recommend to those who are not really into Moe but just want to watch some quality Anime. And that's because it isn't just a Moe show but a darn good Anime in its own right. Simple as that.

Clannad After Story (TV) Bad

Please note that this has spoilers.

I rewatched much of this show roughly seven months later, skipping almost all of the first eight episodes which most people agree are pretty superfluous. Boy has my opinion of the series changed. I still believe that the show has some really, really strong patches of writing. But the gushing emotional impact is gone, and I don't see why I ever rated this as high as I did initially. It has some big flaws. Really big flaws. Like, almost fatal.

Now, I knew of the flaws when I was watching it, but I couldn't help be moved. I've since managed to get some perspective. The drama gets so forced it ain't funny. Or perhaps fake is a better word. Tomoya's quest to provide for his young family is very well done and still holds up magnificently. But Nagisa's school situation is even dumber than I first believed, and that's just the canary in the goldmine. Things really start falling apart from there. Nagisa and Tomoya are having sex - naturally, that's how she gets pregnant - but as far as the viewer knows they haven't even kissed for crying out loud. I don't even know if they've hugged, plus they sleep on separate futons and never shown to be entirely comfortable around one another. And all of a sudden Nagisa is getting morning sickness, even though onscreen they've done nothing except playing house (and awkwardly. at that). And then she gets very sick, and after much wrangling about where she's to have birth, she dies.

The melodramatic circumstances of Nagisa's death are tolerable, but quite simply, what happens next is not. Tomoya goes into a deep depression (okay, understandable) and his daughter is taken in by Nagisa's parents, with Tomoya playing no part whatsoever in her upbringing. What? Nobody extends a hand, and he basically has no contact with his own daughter for five years. For a supposed family-themed show it is disgusting how little help he is given. Sanae and Akio effectively told him that he was now a part of their family, and yet they never really stepped in and helped him. His friends too went AWOL and largely left him alone; guess they weren't true friends. Back in high school they never would have left him to mope and stew in his own misery for five days let alone five bloody years, and yet they all seem to not know what to do. Here's a clue; be there for him. Is that so hard?

Now we get to the most famous part of the show, the part where even many people who aren't fans agree that the show Gets Good. However, the circumstances of Ushio and Tomoya's bonding were contrived and poorly-written enough, but then we got her falling sick and dying too. This is possibly one of the dumbest twists I've ever had the misfortune to see. Just because we had that Other World business does not mean that Ushio's death and subsequent revival had been properly signalled and solid foundations. It just came across as stupid, probably because it absolutely was. It ruined any poignancy in Nagisa's death, felt cheap, and was unoriginal (no surprises there). It was just a horrible, horrible ending

It did have a very short run of episodes which were very, very strong, even though they themselves had instances of contrived drama. But with eight completely superfluous episodes, the weak Ushio arc and the clusterfuck ending, Clannad After Story has major issues. Although it looks strong, peel back the surface and you find gears and cogs rather than heart and soul. The emotional content is completely fake and manufactured.


Classroom of the Elite (TV) Good
Claymore (TV) Decent
Clean Freak! Aoyama kun (TV) Weak
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV) Excellent
Extremely well made, features exciting mecha battles and a very interesting setting, and has one of the best anti-heroes in anime history.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 (TV) Weak
Code Geass: Nunnally in Wonderland (OAV) Decent
Colorful (movie) Excellent
Conan, the Boy in Future (TV) Good
I believe it was Mike Toole who said that Future Boy Conan was the best Anime series he'd ever seen. I dunno how serious he was when he said that but his comment piqued my curiosity and I downloaded the show. And you know what? It isn't the best Anime series ever, not by a long shot. But I can tell you that it is very, very good.

You wouldn't think so just the the beginning, which is pretty standard and not all that impressive. It doesn't promise much beyond a typical children's adventure story with maybe a touch more darkness than you would allow kids today to see. Violence is pretty bloodless but it is there, and of course each episode opens with a seventy-second-long intro outlining how billions of people died in a war which sank the continents. But apart from the darkness, there wasn't much potential here. Or so I thought.

See, this was made by a couple of good mates called Miyazaki and Takahata. Yes, THAT Miyazaki and THAT Takahata; they are the founding men behind Studio Ghibli. Now, this show was made in 1978, six years before Nausicaa, but you can definitely see their prototypical ideas here. As such, the story starts off unassuming but grows into a multi-faceted Aesop about the horrors of war, the benefits of environmentalism, the spectre of greed, and a well-written arc of redemption for two characters (who, I'm pleased to say, have a wonderful scene together in a great final episode).

Anyway, I initially wasn't all that into the show, and then I actually liked it. As Miyazaki started to lay his cards on the table, I started to respect it. And then I began to REALLY respect it when he kept on laying more out. The writing is not particularly amazing and few of the characters are defined by more than just their respective personality traits; with a couple of notable exceptions there's actually very little character development.

However, Miyazaki and Takahata were experts in the art of storytelling itself even back then. With Future Boy Conan they kept things simple, accessible, and above all, fun. The spirit of adventure and wonder runs richly through this show's veins, and I found the show to be highly enjoyable despite it be ostensibly a show aimed at children. It also helps that despite all of the themes to the show, they are always naturally integrated and never detract from the impressive clarity of the story. The show is directed and story-boarded in what would become typical Ghibli fashion, with plenty of quiet scenes to let us take in the setting or the atmosphere. In other words, it's bloody good, far better than what you'll find in many shows made today.

I would encourage all fans to watch Future Boy Conan. Sure, it's old - 1978 was a while ago, before even Mobile Suit Gundam or Castle of Calgiostro - so it naturally looks old. Yet it doesn't look dated, except perhaps in the noses; the overall character designs are perfectly alright. The music is also fine, even if some tracks are frequently reused (but then show me a series where that isn't the case). So even if you are wary about watching old Anime you should still watch this; there's no excuse.

Just be sure to give it at least five episodes; Miyazaki takes time to hit his stride but once he does it is quite the delightful trip.

Corpse Party Missing Footage (OAV) Bad
It's not my cup of tea, but more than that, it's too short and too disjointed. Plus the sickening violence is nothing to recommend to anyone.
Corpse Princess: Aka (TV) So-so
Corpse Princess: Kuro (TV) So-so
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Excellent
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Very good
I wouldn't rate the series as a Masterpiece, and for me the movie is not as good. The story does offer up several major plot holes, and the Bebop's crew don't really have the chemistry I remember from the series. But boy, it was very enjoyable, and I loved to see Spike and the gang back in action. Speaking of action, much of it was there just for action's own sake, but when it is as well-animated and stylistically as cool as it is here, I can turn a blind eye.
Crest of the Stars (TV) Excellent
Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth - The Animation (TV) Excellent
Cromartie High School (TV) Very good
Cross Game (TV) Very good
This is not the Masterpiece that some people will have you believe. Not even close.

But it is entertaining and engaging, and notably well-executed for a Sports Anime. The direction and the music are excellent, and the flashbacks are integrated in such a way as to not only avoid being annoying, but as an actual integral part of the show. I also commend the show for its unique character designs. Though at first they are confusing, it doesn't take long to learn to differentiate between characters; those Anime that insist on impossible hair colours could learn a thing or two about subtlety.

However, as good as their designs are, the handling of the characters themselves is actually a bit of a let-down. Kou and Aoba have many great touching scenes together, but usually, Aoba's ridiculous insistence on being antisocial around him gets really tiring. I also thought that many of the supporting characters were woefully underused, and then there's Akane, who's inclusion I just never bought. Additionally, we never get to see the characters have real lives outside of baseball and That Dream, which sort of makes it hard to properly like them or - especially - see them as actual people. Yeah, I know they're not, but that's no excuse. They are all passionate, I get that, but their sole devotion to baseball above virtually everything else is almost inhuman. How many times did we see Kou in the classroom? Hardly ever. How often do characters have lives outside of baseball, such as relationships? Until the later parts of the show there was Nakanishi and virtually no-one else. It is a show about baseball, I know that, but the characters - merely high-school age, remember - come off as being weirdos in their obsession.

So anyway, the whole point of that rant about the characters was to say that much of the emotional appeal just didn't work for me, and without such appeal I cannot rate this a Masterpiece. And since the show itself is rock solid but not amazing, I can't rate it Excellent either. Hence, my rating. I do believe that this is the show to get people into Sports Anime, and so I do wholeheartedly recommend it. But I won't pretend that this is something it just simply is not (i.e. a Masterpiece).

C³ (TV) So-so
Daicon films (special) Good
Dance in the Vampire Bund (TV) Good
Rarely has such blatant and shameless material been as good as this.

I went into this show thinking "It's most likely going to be bad, but Shaft might surprise me". I resolved to just watch one episode, convinced that this was going to be a Loli-fest where the main character's trait of wearing Very Little would be designed with Otaku in mind. And you know what? It was exactly that. It was shameless, lacked decency, and Mina's habits and clothing choices were Otaku-bait first and foremost. But what surprised me was how good it ended up being, despite (and let's be clear here, it was very much despite) such puerile executive decisions.

The show as I saw it had two strong points. The first was Mina's Seiyuu, whose convincing portrayal of a sad and lonely girl - and yet a frighteningly powerful princess - did much to help mitigate the otherwise massive flaws in her character. Not just the clothing thing, but how she fell for such a cliched line as "I'll protect you" (it was something along those lines), given by a prepubescent boy.

The second strong point was the writing, which took what could have been - nay, by all accounts should have been - a horribly cliched and hackneyed story and largely made it fresh and interesting. We got interesting scenes regarding vampire politics, vampire-werewolf relations, terrorism, class struggle, economics, the fickleness of public opinion, and how most members of all three races just want to live peacefully and without fear. The first episode was really well done, quite a novel approach although somewhat bizarre.

However, the writing wasn't all good. I must mark the show down for two points on it; the first is that the student council was portrayed as supremely powerful in the school after Mina, which might have worked in a pure comedy series but not in this one. I just hate that trope. The second is that the show was incomplete in terms of story. Indeed, the show could have been stretched out to sixteen episodes (giving more time for the characters to develop) and then used as the first two-thirds of a twenty-four-episode series. It was annoying that it ended when it did, because it had just set-up a very interesting mystery which looked like it was going to be the next arc.

The characters did nothing to break out of their moulds, but they sufficed. Perhaps the one that came closest was Akira, who wasn't a wimp or a fool, and who wasn't as bland as many harem male leads are. As for Mina, she was almost completely in type (bar her gross penchant for stripping onscreen), but she did it so well that I can forgive that.

Dance in the Vampire Bund should not have been as good as it was. Though it only got a Good rating, we should keep in mind that given certain, er, proclivities, it should have gotten a rating of Not Very Good or worse. But though the writing had problems and the story was unfinished, it did enough right to earn it a recommendation from me. Just make sure you raise your tolerance shielding for Lolis and (to a lesser extent) S&M to a high setting. Unless you like that sort of stuff, in which case go for it.

Dareka no Manazashi (movie) Good
A Dark Rabbit Has Seven Lives (TV) Not really good
Darker than Black (TV) Decent
Is this a solid Anime? Yes. Was this made by some very talented people working at a decent and well-known Studio? Yes. Does this show constantly teeter on the edge of oblivion with bad pacing and lacklustre writing only to be ultimately rescued by the pure reputation of its makers rather than its own actual qualities? Hell yes.

Despite the confusing start I was upbeat. I was sure that the creators had an overarching plan and that pretty much every mystery that cropped up would be explained in due time. Yeah, well, twenty-five broadcast episodes later and nothing got resolved. I really do mean nothing; the ending was not rushed so much as not even attempted. Gah. Of course, the writers had so often written themselves into holes - especially with regards to the Contractors, their powers and their prices, not to mention Pai - that it probably would have been impossible anyway to give a sufficient explanation at the end.

Darker Than BLACK is often considered as being in a state of gestalt, whereupon the whole is greater than its parts. But in reality, it is the opposite. Considering the talent and ideas that went into this, what we got is a shocker. A disappointing show which could have easily scored a negative grade due to its craptastic writing.

As I said before, it is a solid show, as Anime shows go. It is far, far better than most Anime, and yet it is deeply flawed. I know I cannot demand perfection, but I expect something as close as humanly possible, especially from these people.

Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (TV) Not really good
So when did the Darker than Black franchise turn all Magical Girl on us? And more importantly, why? But seriously, it is actually quite sad when the overused and out-of-place transformation scene is one of the smaller problems with this show.

Let's see. There's the fact that this came out before the OVAs and yet is unintelligible without them. There is the extremely rushed and confusing ending that drops all of the plot bombshells in the last couple of episodes, most of which made no sense anyway. What was going on was not even explained. Saving all the powder for the ending meant that the rest of the show was still confusing (because we got so little information) and felt stretched, as nothing much happened. There really should not be filler in a one-cour show, and yet the Sapporo arc just dragged bloody on and on.

Except for Suo who had a sympathetic backstory and some spunk, the characters weren't all that great either. Hei was a complete douche, Mao was useless, July was naturally a bore, Kirihara never accomplished much, and Yin was suddenly the most important person ever. The goal(s) of Shion and Madame Oreille was never explained, and how they (the goals) related to the end-of-the-world prophecy I have absolutely no idea.

Sigh. I knew this would be disappointing, but it is one thing to know and quite another to actually experience it first hand. This is a generally crap show that should be avoided, and while I do not regret watching it I definitely have no desire to watch the OVAs. I should not have to watch a prequel made over a year after the series just to ease my complete bafflement by what went on in said series. I just shouldn't.

Date A Live (TV) So-so
When it was a parody it was actually quite funny and cute. When it tried to play things straight the quality nosedived. That's always the danger with parodies, they must resemble the genres or tropes they mock but must never fully emulate them. If they do get too close, then there's no real difference between themselves and the very subject matter they are trying to poke fun at. Date A Live suffered from this problem. The subtle (and no so subtle) good-natured mocking of dating simulation and Harem Anime was good, the girls were very cute and sweet, and Shidou was pretty cool. But whenever the parodying stopped the show simply turned into just another generic dating-sim. That said, the plot was kind of interesting, and I'll probably watch the second season to see where the story goes from here.
Date A Live II (TV) Bad
Dead Girls (OAV) Awful
Deadman Wonderland (TV) Awful
There is one word in the English language that perfectly encapsulates and describes this series; clusterfuck. That is all.
Death Note (TV) Masterpiece
Den-noh Coil (TV) Excellent
Denpa teki na Kanojo (OAV) So-so
Desert Punk (TV) Decent
A Detective Story (OAV) So-so
Detroit Metal City (OAV) Very good
I have to wonder at what kind of person I am that I find this to be funny. The best parts involved the overly-excitable fans, their commentary was hilarious.

It is an appallingly-animated show, but boy is it hilarious and memorable. Just don't expect anything regarding an actual plot or character-development. Watch it for the humour and ONLY the humour, and you'll do fine.

(The) Devil is a Part-Timer! (TV) Very good
Everyone I've shown this series to has been hooked on it. The humour is great, the drama is solid, the way the characters play off of one another is superb. But the most impressive thing this show does is make you forget that Maou and his underlings are - or were - monstrous villains, responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show and the unfinished story and character arcs has me hungry for more. I simply must have a second season.

(The) Diary of Anne Frank (movie) Good
This no-frills movie isn't good enough to do the story of Anne Frank justice. There isn't the emotional impact that there should be for something so tragic. However, by letting her story speak for itself it does avoid mangling it through needless intervention, which is a relief. And it's not a bad movie, not at all. It just isn't as good as it could have been in the hands of a more creative and more ambitious team of staff.
Dies irae (TV) Bad
Digimon Adventure (TV) Decent
Digimon Adventure 02 (TV) So-so
Digimon Tamers (TV) Very good
(The) Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (movie) Very good
I have to say I liked the movie, although I will echo many people and say that it was too long. Fifteen, twenty, even thirty minutes could have been shaved off the runtime without negatively affecting the pacing or storytelling. Even as a casual fan of the franchise (if one uses the term "fan" loosely) I could still tell what was going on (and why) and picked up on the vast majority of the references. Therefore I don't think it is as inaccessible as some say it is, although newcomers will be absolutely lost, no doubt about that.

It is a very, very well-animated and drawn movie. Everything is very fluid (although some parts are noticeably more fluid than others, sometimes distractingly so), and even simple things like characters putting on or taking off articles of clothing (which happens numerous times) are all done properly with no corners cut. Quite a bit of effort went into depicting the faces, like Yuki's eyes shifting nervously and how Kyon's eyes get progressively more tired and desperate.

In terms of characters I loved how Haruhi herself was missing for quite a good chunk of the movie. I know she's supposed to come across as being utterly obnoxious but we are also supposed to like her. However I really don't like her; in fact I hate her. So at the halfway point when Kyon finds her I internally groaned, because she is the biggest weakness in the entire franchise. Kyon however I did like, although I don't know if I agree with his decision. He was undoubtedly the star of the movie though; the other characters were almost forgettable.

I didn't rate this higher because of two big reasons. The first was the length, and the movie did suffer because of it. Not a heck of a lot happened in the movie, not enough to justify that runtime at any rate. So it was kind of boring with everything stretched out too far. Secondly, the movie was made by fans for fans. Either you'll think the movie is absolutely fantastic, or you'll acknowledge that it has a good plot and a good main character and great technical merits but little else; there's nothing here to really hold your interest if you aren't massively into the franchise already.

So yeah, I can see why fans would adore it, and I freely acknowledge that it is a competent production even without appealing to the fans. If you loved both the series you will love this. If you didn't, there is enough here to be worth watching, but just set aside an entire evening to do so.

Dog & Scissors (TV) So-so
(The) Dog of Flanders (movie) Excellent
If you watched the movie without knowing anything about it you would be forgiven for thinking it was made in the late seventies or early eighties, such is the style of its visuals, music and voice acting. But it was really made in 1997, which I found interesting. Apparently it was a remake of the 1975 World Masterpiece Theatre anime television series, which explains the look and feel. And the story itself comes from A Dog of Flanders which is an 1872 novel by the famous English author Ouida. If you watched this movie without knowing anything of the novel you might think that this was a typical family-friendly film safe for the children to watch. That is, until you watch the titular dog in question suffer PTSD - not played for laughs - and then watch both him and his prepubescent master freeze to death in a cathedral after being evicted from their home. Incredibly depressing stuff, but it's really touching. And I admire its faithfulness; almost all of the adaptations rewrite the ending to make it happier, with the boy and the dog surviving and finding a new home. Well, except this one, which stays true to the tragedy in the original novel. That takes guts, and by not pulling its punches the movie is far more powerful than if it had gone for a cop-out ending.
Dragon Ball GT (TV) Weak
Dragon Ball Z (TV) So-so
Dragon Ball Z Kai (TV) Decent
So they left in quite a bit I didn't like (e.g. Ginyu force) and took out quite a bit I did like (e.g. Mirai Trunks' return to the future), but overall this was a very satisfactory effort. Sure, nostalgia played a huge part in my enjoyment of this series, but it was great to see so much of the fat lipo'ed out. Gone was most of the infamous filler scenes, however it is important to note that modern Shounen and children's shows are far more bloated than DBZ ever was. Dragon Ball Kai seems by comparison to say Naruto, Bleach and Detective Conan to be so lean as to be jarring and weird (but in good ways).

Also of note was that this is the first time I have ever watched anything from the Dragon Ball franchise in the original Japanese, isolated scenes not withstanding. I must say it was fun to spot the differences between the Japanese and old English dubs, not just in what the lines were but also how they were delivered. It is obvious that despite the Japanese Seiyuu often registering either too high or too low for my personal tastes, they are far better than the old English dub. Which is why I look forward to buying the boxsets and seeing how the new English dub performs; I've heard some really promising things about it.

Anyway, I am of the opinion that this series failed to get a new generation of fans into the franchise, however as a sendup to such a classic Shounen series it works well. My biggest gripe is that the Buu Saga was not included, since that needed trimming as much as the Frieza Saga. But yeah, what we got was pretty cool.

Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku (special) Good
This is a pretty good special. It should have been longer, to give Bardock the richer characterisation he deserved. Despite the short run time, it did manage to give some sorely-needed background to the Saiyans. It will be of utterly no use to anyone who isn't a fan of the franchise, but for those who are this special is a must-watch.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (movie) Good
Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (movie 9) Not really good
I don't know, I just didn't like this movie as much as many of the others. It was nice to see Gohan be the hero, but there was just too much rehashed from the Cell Saga. The battles were generally pretty good, but the evil-for-the-sake-of-being-evil villains were boring as hell. However, this movie does have one notable thing in its favour; it is the only DBZ movie that can fit into the established canon of the television series. This should not be underestimated, as it means a lot of stuff makes sense, unlike in the other movies where characters are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Dragon Ball Z: Broly - Second Coming (movie 10) Bad
Ah, this movie is pretty crap. The plot holes are waaaay too large to be acceptable, even in a DBZ movie. I've always hated Goten and (especially) Chibi Trunks (although Gotenks, who doesn't make an appearance in this movie, is alright). And the fight scenes were kind of "meh", I thought. Pretty dumb movie with no reason to watch it other than to tick it off, I've got to say.
Dragon Ball Z: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan (movie 8) Decent
This is the longest of the DBZ movies, and it shows. The fight scenes are way more drawn out than in other movies, and yet the movie takes its time getting started. Brolly was a pretty good antagonist, I liked Paragus' scheming, and it was nice to see Vegeta's much-vaunted pride take a beating before he even fights Brolly. The soundtrack, at least in the dub, was kind of cool, and the whole battle felt like an extended AMV. However, the way Goku defeats Brolly was pretty unconvincing, and with such a long battle it got kind of boring in the middle.
Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge (movie 5) So-so
Ah, this movie wasn't so bad. Yeah it was just a retread of the Frieza saga, but the battles weren't half bad, and Coola's final form was awesome. I think it was the first DBZ movie I ever saw, but I'm sure that nostalgia aside it is one of the better ones.
Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (movie 12) So-so
Okay, so it was extremely silly in places (Veku, the barrier which hates name-calling), and took a while to get going. And the end battle was pretty anti-climatic. But it was funny to see Hitler, zombies and various bad guys from the franchise get their arses whipped by Gohan, Goten and Trunks. And both forms of Janemba were pretty cool, even the childish fat version. The action was (or at least felt) short, but it was also pretty sweet. If you already like DBZ then this movie certainly will entertain. But it isn't that great as a standalone feature.
Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (movie 4) Not really good
I remembered this one even less than the third movie. I'll give it a Not Very Good and just leave it be. I know I didn't like it, but it is a bit unfair of me to rate it as Weak or whatever if I cannot even remember what I disliked about it.
Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! (movie 7) Weak
Okay, so the plot of this was inane, the battles badly executed (some great scenes, but there was no consistency to the power of the fighters), and I wonder what the point was except to show the characters fight yet another few foes. But hey, that's what we're watching for, right? At the very least, the way Goku wins was kind of cool.
Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks (special) Excellent
Okay, so Mirai Trunks has been my favourite character in DBZ since the moment he decimated Mecha-Frieza. And one of my favourite episodes ever is #179, Free the Future. But my grade on this title isn't high just because of nostalgia or anything like that. This is not your typical DBZ title.

For one, there is no silly one-upmanship, and the battles are as humourless as they are brutal and intense. Mirai Trunks has a great backstory, one filled with desperation and hopelessness, and anger, and loss. This special shows us that backstory, one slightly different and yet far more fleshed out than in the T.V. series. I was a little disappointed with Mirai-Gohan, as he wasn't given enough screentime to truly shine. But Mirai-Bulma just steals any scene she's in, which sadly is also too few. The androids here seem much creepier, truly evil and sadistic, and they make excellent opponents.

If you are a DBZ fan then this one is required; YouTube has or had it, so there's no excuse. If you aren't a DBZ fan, then watch it anyway, because you will see just how good the franchise can be when it takes itself seriously.

Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (movie 6) Not really good
There were some gaping plot holes in this (but with DBZ, aren't there always?), but also some pretty nice action. The artistry seemed a little weird, and the way that Goku and Vegeta defeat Mecha-Cooler was really daft. I really cannot decide if I like or dislike this movie, hence the grade.
Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (movie 3) Weak
I barely remember it, to be honest. I saw it at a friend's house, and, well, I never bought it for myself, which kind of tells you how unimpressed I was. Even with the usual DBZ plot holes and convenient powerups aside, I didn't think it was all that great.
Dream Eater Merry (TV) Bad
The good? Well, it was a kind of interesting concept and Sana's father was pretty cool. He got way too little screentime. Also, the OP and ED were nice.

The bad? Everything else, just about. The biggest one is that the show had no internal consistency. Episode nine killed the show for good, after that it was just a zombie stumbling around, clumsily piecing together the most ridiculous sequence of events I've seen in a while. "Trainwreck" doesn't do this disaster justice. It's roughly comparable to a jumbo jet hitting the Hindenburg which then falls on top of an orphanage, at least in terms of how badly the plot and entertainment value are burned by the shockingly incompetent writing.

I really want to give this show a rating of Awful, but it isn't - quite - bad enough as to warrant that ignominious level. Still, I recommend that you don't touch this piece of crap unless it is with a ten-foot pole. Now, I have to go wash off the stench . . .

Drifters (TV) Decent
Durarara!! (TV) Very good
People always compare this show to Baccano!. I can see why; you cannot talk about Durarara!! without mentioning its (spiritual) predecessor. Both series of Light Novels were written by the same guy, both have large casts of memorable characters (which are introduced far too quickly in the first episode to keep track), and both have multiple storylines that intertwine with one another. Baccano! has a very impressive OP, and all four of Durarara!!'s OPs and Eds (but especially its first ED) are also top-notch.

That said, Durarara!! is much, much better than Baccano!. While Baccano! is a triumph of flashy but hollow style, Durarara!! has substance. It doesn't have as large a budget, but it has more heart, and despite its plot problems it is better put together as well. And the biggest advantage Durarara!! has is that it was not boring. Baccano!'s gore didn't turn me off, it was the confusing aspect to it. Since scenes often made little sense in their current context I got bored, even with all of the flashy visuals and larger-than-life characters (none of whom I liked). I found it really hard to finish the series. But in Durarara!! the gratuitous violence is gone, Isaac and Miria are gone - okay, so they do appear in a two-minute cameo, but that's it - and the show actually wasn't NEARLY as confusing. I like mysteries, I like trying to figure out what is going on, but Baccano!'s three timelines told in snippets was extremely unfair. Just like in the Haruhi franchise, telling a straightforward story out of chronological order does not automatically make the show better, it just is a fancy way to make an otherwise straightforward story look complicated. So I got confused for no real reason. Durarara!! didn't pull such a cheap trick on me, and I thank it for that. Where it did disappoint was in how it wove the separate plot threads together. At the two-thirds mark there was so much promise, and it looked like there would be one hell of a conclusion, but while the series didn't drop the balls of yarn (it was a pretty good effort actually,) the end result wasn't nearly as good as we had been promised.

The characters were a big mix of good and bad. Certainly the two lead boys - Mikado and Masaomi - were very sympathetic and likeable, but I can't say that much about Anri. She always came across as so strongly self-disparaging that I just couldn't relate to her. Shizuo is a fan-favourite, but as much as I liked him Celty was my favourite character. She was extremely cute at times, whether it be her over-reaction to the dreaded traffic cops or how she blushed when Shinra told her he loved her. She was very kind, always cool, and my favourite scenes of her was whenever she would "shake her head" (hah) in faint exasperation at Shizuo's actions. I have to give props to her Seiyuu Miyuki Sawashiro who did a wonderful job, giving her the right blend of womanly strength and girlish innocence and tenderness. Unfortunately, in the second half many of the other characters - most important enough to make into the second set of theme songs - were woefully underused. The blonde foreign girl in cowgirl attire, Shinra's dad, the traffic cop, Simon, Shizuo's brother, Shizuo's boss, Seiji, Mika and Yamie; they all either barely appeared at all or were shown frequently but never did anything to warrant that screentime. It seemed like a huge waste to introduce us to them and not have them do much, and it also bespoke of problems with the writing that could allow this to occur.

Speaking of problems with the writing, there are more than just a few plot holes here. The general story is quite well done, but the contrivances stretched disbelief. I get that in Anime if you are fifteen then it is almost expected that you live by yourself, but we got to see nothing of the three main children's home lives to compensate. Then a girl whose only problem is that she cannot walk stays in the hospital for eighteen months, and only ever gets two visitors. Never mind the incompetence of her doctors for not realising something rather odd about her (it's a spoiler, you'll have to watch it yourself). Izaya seemingly being omniscient and omnipresent is far-fetched, so much so that not addressing his information gathering abilities was an act of laziness on the writers' part. The origin of the Yellow Scarves was also odd; how does a middle-school student who must have been no older than thirteen at the time create a gang with so many older members? He is a good fighter, but it still seems strange to me. Finally, and most obviously, Izaya's whole plan involving Celty's head never actually happens. One can surmise that the kids stopped the war and therefore prevented the plan from being enacted, but there couldn't have been much more violence without the city erupting into civil war. How much violence did he need? And why was he even trying to do it in the first place; just to see if he could? His motivation was not properly explained, and "I love humans" isn't a motivation.

A good ride nevertheless. Just don't expect Izaya to get his just desserts, or an ending which wraps things up. Luckily there are sequels . . .

Dusk maiden of Amnesia (TV) Very good
An interesting take on a tired genre.

Let's start with the negatives. The episode where a girl caused a mass panic among the students was ludicrous and badly written. The male lead (well, the only recurring male character full stop) was too bland except at the very end. The blonde girl struggled to be relevant. It wasn't a problem when she was just comic relief but when mysteries started revealing themselves she wasn't useful. Kyrie with chips on both her shoulders was a bit hard to like. The fanservice was pretty And the characters claimed that it was weird that Yuuko never got angry when in fact she had gotten angry in the previous episodes, and when two of the other three characters had never gotten angry either. It seemed like less an oversight and more a case of bad writing.

Now for the positives. The music was good, and at times the art direction reminded me of SHAFT. The first episode is really funny and original, showing the same scene twice but in a fundamentally different way. I liked it. The revelations were almost perfectly paced. There was a good, dark reason why Yuuko initially came across as the perfect girl. The overall mystery was sufficiently explained and the show could be fairly creepy when it wanted to be. The male lead did eventually get a backbone. The final episode was very well done with great emotional impact.

This was not a standout or memorable show for me but I liked it well enough.

Earl and Fairy (TV) Good
Wish more reverse-Harem shows were this good. While it's true this doesn't have the strongest story in terms of plotting, the show is very very sweet. Lydia is perfect for the plucky, determined and kind-hearted Shoujo lead role, while Edgar shines as a refined-yet-troubled bastard who softens and eventually changes for her. His character arc and the chemistry between the two are by far the best part of the show, and well worth watching.
Eat-Man '98 (TV) Decent
(The) Eccentric Family (TV) Good
Eden of the East (TV) Very good
ef: a tale of melodies (TV) So-so
Tragedy is only effective when it is poetic. When it is stupid - and I don't mean stupid in a poetically tragic way, but just plain stupid - then it loses its effectiveness. Visual novels (and their adaptations) love tragedy, which is fine if the story and characters hold up. Some of the best works of fiction have been tragedies. One of my favourites is Othello, whose themes of racism, jealousy and fear of infidelity are still relevant today. It's an oldie but a goodie.

But too often visual novels just wallow in a very stupid kind of tragedy where characters act in ridiculous and implausible ways and the story introduces absurd elements that make no sense. It is just so obviously artificial, with realism thrown out of the window because it's an inconvenience. The writers would rather tell a story that's stuffed with as much melodrama as possible than a story which is believable and populated with characters who act as normal humans would.

This is just my personal opinion, but good tragedies are effective because they expose the follies of human nature and just how thin the veneer is of our lives being happy and incident-free. In other words, the characters could be us - either as the instigator or the victim - living lives which could be our own. We have to get the feeling that our lives are but a single bout of plausible misfortune away from unraveling like those of the characters.

So how does this specifically apply to melodies? [SPOILER ALERT]Well, the ingredients are definitely grounded enough. Dealing with sexual abuse and coming to terms with a likely fatal illness are both quite common and good grounds for tragedy, and falling in love with someone significantly older or younger is still reasonable. Instead, it is the way the show goes about it that makes it so damn irritating. The characters behave in moronic and exaggerated ways, such that it is impossible to really feel for them. They don't remind us of ourselves, so the spell is broken. Melodrama is actually a turnoff. But hey, at least the art direction was good.

ef: a tale of memories (TV) Good
Ugh, so much melodrama I almost drowned in it. But though it wallowed around a lot, generally this show's serious tone and introspective focus worked well.

Chihiro's arc was easily the most interesting, as her condition and outlook on life - and Renji's struggle to come to terms with all of this - made for some genuinely good drama. I will say that Chihiro's eyepatch was unnecessary; a physical injury on top of her memory condition is a tad overboard. The unsettling but gripping story that Chihiro writes was very strong and well-used as a metaphor to the themes and plot of her arc. I would actually read that story if it were real, and it seems like something that could win a literary prize. Needless to say, my favourite scenes were to do with the novel itself.

The other two arcs were far weaker by comparison, although Hirono was probably the best male lead. Renji was too weak for too long, whereas Hirono - despite his unusual lifestyle - was more normal in personality. I never could understand Miyako - she was one screwed up girl - but at least she was more interesting than Kei, whose fixation on a childhood friendship was a bit been-there done-that. At least she showed spine I guess in trying to put a claim on Hirono. Would have been nice to see her arc with Kyousuke getting some resolution but the arc was not completed and took a back seat for the final three episodes. The three arcs did not mesh very well, which is a shame. Chihiro's arc is pretty much standalone and that's a problem given that we never get to see Kei handling Chihiro's condition. It's interesting that the worst melodrama happens in Miyako's arc, not Chihiro's.

Musically the show was fine - I like the closer with the harmonica, and the opener was alright. But the music only occasionally grabbed me and made me go "wow". The backgrounds and art style were both pretty awesome - this show is quintessentially SHAFT - and while they did not completely cover up the limited animation budget they did a great job on their own. Shots were framed quite nicely I thought, so I'd like to tip my hat to the half-dozen guys who worked on the storyboards.

I thought I would hate this show and I didn't. Yes, the writing was never good enough for me to get fully invested with any of the characters and the stories have several big issues. But it was nice to have a more serious conversation-driven series that tried to explore the characters' feelings rather than have fanservice hi-jinks. I just wish it hadn't wallowed around so much.

Elfen Lied (TV) Very good
Okay, there's no question that Elfen Lied has some parts in it that don't work well (or at all). The whole incest thing where Yuka gets upset because Kouta won't bang her is facepalming, and the whole bit with infantile Nyuu is just skeevy. But the show is not afraid to tackle some really meaty social issues, the central theme of whether monsters are born or created is handled very well, and the show does have a strong emotional impact where you care what is happening to the characters.
Elfen Lied (OAV) Good
Emma: A Victorian Romance (TV) Excellent
Emma: A Victorian Romance Second Act (TV) Excellent
Encouragement of Climb (TV) Decent
Very cute and surprisingly sweet tale about an introverted girl who learns to be more outgoing. The short three-minute episodes both helped it and hurt it, as it never got stale but never got fully fleshed out either. Ultimately I think the show used what it had pretty well.
Encouragement of Climb Second Season (TV) Very good
Engaged to the Unidentified (TV) Excellent
Engaged to the Unidentified reinvigorated tired and cliched tropes by putting fresh twists on them and packing the show with some smart direction and loads of energy. Just as the best ingredients can be ruined by an incompetent chef, in the hands of a great chef unassuming ingredients can be cooked into a wonderful dish. In other words, it isn't necessarily what you have but rather what you do with it that counts in determining the quality of something (or lack thereof). In the case of Engaged to the Unidentified, it had all the makings of just another middling forgettable romcom, but because it was blessed with good staff it succeeded where others would have failed. I was very impressed with it.
Ergo Proxy (TV) Very good
Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (movie) Excellent
Because of my unabashed love of RahXephon, I often feel the need to remind people that I do in fact like Neon Genesis Evangelion. This movie is no exception.

This movie is great to look at, and the sound ain't bad either. It moves along at a fair clip, and I had fun spotting the edits and outright changes. This is the NGE I love, with great battle scenes, intriguing mysteries, iconic characters, and just a general sense of "dude, this is good stuff". I still am irritated by the complete lack of psychological, emotional, and physical support and protection for the pilots. They are only like the most important people in human history, ever, and yet you allow them to get beaten up at school, go wandering around on their own, and won't give them even the most basic of professional counselling. And then of course they get blamed when the inevitable mental and emotional problems occurs. Newer series also have this flaw - including RahXephon - but it could have been at least addressed some way in this movie; it wasn't. That said, Shinji does seem a little more stable here than in the series, but that's no excuse.

What else can I say? It is Neon Genesis Evangelion. if you know anything about it then you've made up your mind already, and if you don't know what the show is about then get out from behind your rock. This movie is a great introduction to the animated franchise, I just am concerned that it will make newer fans not want to watch the television series. Of course, given how that trainwreck ended (hint; as all trainwrecks do), perhaps it is a baseless concern on my part.

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (movie) Very good
Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (movie) Weak
(The) Everyday Tales of a Cat God (TV) Good
Fantastic Children (TV) Very good
Fastest Finger First (TV) Decent
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya (TV) Good
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! (TV) So-so
The first six episodes are a writeoff thanks to awful drama, but with its second half the season clawed its way back to overall mediocrity.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) Decent
Fate/Zero (TV) Excellent
Fate/Zero (TV 2) Very good
Figure 17 (TV) Good
Repetitive music, limited animation outside battle scenes, stock footage, a rather pedestrian storyline, lack of development for supporting characters, and some really generic and cliche battles early on, all drag this title down.

The dub managed to be both acceptable and subpar simultaneously; how you view Hikaru's voice will make a big difference there. The chemistry between the girls was good (and it had better been given the huge screentime they got), and the battles did get surprisingly inventive occasionally. The slice-of-life elements were very well done, and Hikaru was quite cute whenever munching on food (which was a lot).

This series had a nice story to tell, but it took too long telling it, and for everything it did right there were like two or three things that were not good enough. But it was very watchable - I finished it in four days - and so that's how it avoided a negative grade from me.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (movie) Good
As someone who has not played a single Final Fantasy game (but especially not the seventh), I had absolutely no idea as to what the heck was going on. Doesn't really matter. The visuals are stellar, and the choreography of the fights is amazing. So who cares about all the flaws, the inane narrative structure, the angsty, annoying and downright shallow characters? The seven incredible fight scenes are all I really care about.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (US CG movie) Not really good
(The) Final Flight of the Osiris (OAV) Decent
Fireball (TV) Good
The visuals are nice, the voice acting is great, and the setting is kind of neat, but the very short run-time of each episode does limit how much enjoyment one can gain from this title. Considering the often nonsensical and sometimes downright unfunny humour, and a "plot" which is only vaguely touched upon, and this isn't a great Anime. It is entertaining enough as to be watchable, and the short run-time does mean that you will never be bored, but most of the episodes are just not very fulfilling.
Fireball Charming (TV) Very good
Plot-wise - and yes, there is a plot, albeit inconsequential - it is a prequel to the original Fireball series. Visually however, it is much, much better. But is it funnier? Well, the jokes are less tedious, and although later episodes generally weren't as funny as earlier ones, the humour quotient is overall better than in Fireball. Fireball Charming is only slightly better than the first series, unless you are a real videophile that is. But, having consistently better humour and some semblance of plot means it does enough to earn a higher rating than its predecessor.

It still isn't anything more than a pretty-looking and well acted diversion, but sometimes that's all you want.

First Squad - The Moment Of Truth (OAV) Decent
It's alright - decent action, sympathetic lead character, great visuals - and I found it pretty cool to hear Russian voices for a change instead of Japanese or English. But there's very little depth in here, which is not surprising given the short runtime. Worth a watch though, and the premise has plenty of potential. This would probably do well as a proper one- or two-cour series.
Five Numbers! (OAV) Decent
Well that was a strangely animated and bizarre little OVA now, wasn't it.
(The) Five Star Stories (movie) Awful
This movie is sixty-five minutes long, including credits. At the fifty-five minute mark the main character says "It's time you made your appearance", whereupon his giant robot FINALLY reveals itself. He then proceeds to defeat all three villains in just three minutes, making for a completely one-sided fight scene notable for how boring and anti-climatic it was. It was also the only mech-on-mech battle in the entire movie. This isn't the movie's biggest problem, which are that the lacklustre characters aren't developed properly and the messy story is beyond a joke. But the lack of meaningful giant robot action in a giant robot movie that was marketed with the hero's giant robot on the cover is symptomatic of how retarded this entire Anime is. So not only is its writing quality so far down the crapper it's in the sewers. And not only do the shallow and poorly-explored characters fail to invoke any emotional sympathy. But the movie can't even come through with the promise of even half-way decent action, which is the bare minimum in a post-apocalyptic giant robot movie. I can't believe I once looked forward to watching this pile of manure.
Flag (ONA) Excellent
FLCL (OAV) Masterpiece
Flying Witch (TV) Good
Fractale (TV) Bad
Well, this sucked.

An interesting world and good production values - especially with regards to the first-rate and beautiful OP - are more than cancelled out by a veritable mountain of plot flaws, mind-numbingly dumb characters, not nearly enough explanation to fill in all the technobabble (a lot of which came in the last two episodes), a fascist eco-luddite "let's live as noble savages" aesop, and generally incompetent writing.

There is a reason why the 80s are over, and it has nothing to do with the march of time. I'm not talking about the character designs, which were fine, but rather the outdated sensibilities and almost outright bouts of plagiarism of well-known films and works. To make matters worse, some of the worst modern tropes were thrown in, like the short outraged Loli who calls the lead male a pervert every three minutes, or the creepy guy with the bowl-cut whom you just know is going to be evil.

Look, it has some redeeming qualities. But it still sucks. The fact that it held so much promise is just a further kick in the guts.

Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club (TV) Very good
What held this show back was the melodrama and Nitori. God I hated that brown-nosing eunuch. Otherwise not a bad Sports show, focusing on the bonds of friendship and rivalry.
From the New World (TV) Very good
It has quite a few plot holes, scenes that stretched belief, annoying infodumps, uneven pacing, and one heck of a loose dangling thread. But its great art direction, strong story, well-realised themes and interesting setting conspire to make this cerebral Sci-Fi Fantasy a very, very good one.
From Up On Poppy Hill (movie) Good
I went into this with quite a bit of trepidation, as Goro Miyazaki's previous movie was the weak Tales From Earthsea. I needn't have worried; although From Up On Poppy Hill had its faults, it was a pleasant watch.

The melodrama was unwelcome (those who have seen the movie will know exactly what I'm referring to), and the story of saving the clubhouse was a bit simplistic. There was a bit of fat in here that never went anywhere, basically window dressing to the setting. Also, I found the romance to be a bit weak, especially compared to other Ghibli works. But otherwise this was a very competent movie. Natural Slice-of-Life scenes, mood-appropriate music, gorgeous scenery, realistic settings and superb attention to detail; these have always been Ghibli's strong points, and once again the studio uses them to provide an immersive experience. The movie is set in 1963 Yokohama and it is easy to imagine that we are there with the characters, so genuine are the scenes of bustling townsfolk and school kids and family chores.

From Up On Poppy Hill will never be considered as one of the stronger Ghibli movies, nor will it ever be as well-known as its venerable older siblings. It is just too unassuming and simplistic compared to the likes of Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke, and lacks the powerful charm of Whisper of the Heart and Only Yesterday. But nevertheless it is a solid entry in the Ghibli catalogue, and proof that with the right guidance Goro Miyazaki can deliver the goods as a director.

Full Metal Panic! (TV) Decent
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (TV) Very good
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (OAV) Good
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (TV) Excellent
Fullmetal Alchemist (TV) Very good
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (TV) Decent
Yes, I did just give this show this grade. I mean, I know it deserves a So-so rating at best, but I thought it had enough going for it to bump it up.

Look, I was never a big fan of the first series. I just don't know why, but it never really grabbed me, and I kind of lost enthusiasm for it towards the end. That's not to say that it wasn't very good, quite the contrary in fact. I liked it, which is more than I can say about this version. Brotherhood is lucky I don't actively hate it, cause boy I came REAL close. I'm not harsh on it because I've seen some of the various big plot twists already in the first show. I have much more reasonable opinion about why it wasn't satisfying.

Much was made about how Brotherhood would be following the Manga the whole way, but what people overlook is that faithfulness does not equal superiority. Not if the original work is flawed. Not if the adaptation is badly handled. Both of these points ended up being true. I'm not going to go into a point-by-point analysis of what Brotherhood did wrong, as it would take too much time and invoke too many spoilers. Needless to say, I'll give an overview of the four main problems in Brotherhood:

The least problematic problem was the humour. I say that because as the series went on it got (spoiler alert: hah ha) darker, and therefore we got fewer and fewer instances of the absolutely crud attempts at humour. The Manga has often been criticised for the SD and the mood whiplash, but did we really need to see Edward getting annoyed at people calling him short for the third time in a single episode? Not really; it "grew" old, fast. Okay, my humour is not that good, but I'm not a famous Manga-ka gundammit. Still, the first series had a really good sense of humour in some episodes, but we never saw that in this version.

The pacing of the series was too fast in the first thirteen episodes or so, and then too slow during the middle and end. To have such uneven pacing is bad in itself, but rushing the start meant that some critical scenes - and I do mean critical - were poorly written and hurriedly stuck wherever there was space.

I flat out didn't like the characters by the end, although the final episode redeemed them a fraction (just a small one though). It is never a good sign when you begin rooting for the antagonists just because they are more interesting and less annoying. But then, the antagonists weren't treated very well

The amount of plot holes, scenes which broke my suspension of disbelief, scenes that just plain broke the internal boundaries of the depicted world, and instances of outright stupidity, were numerous and frequent, especially at the end. I just was not enjoying myself out there, because the show wasn't being internally consistent and that just pisses me off. In many cases it wasn't actively the writers' fault, as they were merely copying the Manga's storyline. They still should have tried to make improvements; it's not like there weren't plenty of legitimate areas.

This show did many many things right, the overarching storyline and a proper finale being probably the best aspects. But there so many things it did badly at, and in such quantities, that the negatives almost overwhelm the good. However, enough class showed through for me to give this a Decent rating, but it only just makes the grade. Do not watch this series over the original, it's not worth it.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa Weak
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (movie) So-so
Fusé: Memoirs of a Huntress (movie) Good
The core relationship was a bit weak and it isn't the most tightly-written of movies, but it is a diverting watch with some reasonably good visuals. In many ways it very much resembles a Ghibli movie.
Fuuka (TV) Not really good
Ga-Rei-Zero (TV) Very good
"Read the Manga". Three words that an Anime fan never wants to hear, as all too often they are used to justify endings that are confusing, truncated or just plain non-existent.

Ga-Rei-Zero is intriguingly enough a proper prequel to the Manga and not a simple adaptation, and what it does right is provide emotional closure to many of the characters, not just to Kagura and Yomi. What it completely, horribly and utterly fails to address is the plot, specifically with regards to wrapping it up. Instead, the show leaves open massive questions, never explains what Lag Seeing's doppelganger is doing let alone what the heck he actually is, and it teases us by introducing an important new character in the last couple of minutes of the final episode. Yes, it is a prequel, so it assumes that viewers will have either read or will read the Manga, but that doesn't help me now, does it.

It is a very nice looking series and quite easy on the eyes, with every character (male and female) drawn in a semi-distinctive realistic style. The animation is notably good for a weekly airing show; the show obviously had an appreciable budget and a production team who knew how to make the best use of it. The monsters weren't fabulous or innovatively designed but they served their purpose, and I did appreciate the military hardware. As for the backgrounds, you can sort of tell while watching that some had been based on real locations, which allowed for some non-standard camera shots. It is the sort of thing I would expect to see in a movie or Shinkai OVA, not an action/drama show.

Ah yes, the action and drama. The violence struck a nice balance between being graphic and keeping off-screen. Basically, you got all kinds of amputations and stabbings and whatnot, but not everything was shown (a lot was though). Off-screen violence is easier to animate, and can actually be a more effective storytelling device if done right. The drama was interesting, as we knew where this was all heading, and Kagura and Yomi's relationship was convincing. But I think a bit too much was made out of the "not wanting to kill" angle that Kagura and another character shared. It made me annoyed with both of them, and unlike say Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion they were trained as warriors practically from birth. Hesitation to kill is one thing, and is actually expected at first, but the director drew it out a bit too much. Unlike Vash in Trigun, who had a philosophy and stuck with it through rain or shine, the two characters here had no moral arguments at all, let alone convincing ones. They just didn't want to kill human-looking apparitions (and of course one apparition in particular), even though they had no compunction in killing all manner of creatures.

I can't believe I have gone this far without mentioning the first episode. I had heard it was infamous, even notorious, but luckily I didn't know in what way. Curiosity got the better of me and I checked it out; it is actually on YouTube courtesy of FUNimation. I quickly forgot about the controversy until . . . well, I really can't say. You'll know it when you see it. I'll tell you what though, you'll either be so angry that you will drop the series or be so baffled and intrigued that you will want to watch the next episode straight away. Actually, now is a good time as any to mention that this was a very easy Anime to watch. I don't know why, but it wasn't because the story or character drama was engrossing or anything like that. I just found it easy to start the next episode, and I never found myself looking at the clock hoping that the episode would end. I found it odd, but in a good way.

Ga-Rei-Zero is a very solid and well-polished Anime, and if you can stand the moderate violence I do recommend it. Should you have previously watched Elfen Lied or Gantz then this will be a stroll in the park by comparison. I cannot justify giving it a rating of Excellent but it almost gets there, and I wholeheartedly give it the respectable rating of Very Good.

Gamers! (TV) Good
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) Excellent
Gantz (TV) So-so
(The) Garden of Sinners (movie series) So-so
A+ for trying, and the visuals and fight scenes are undeniably beautiful. And yet, the film franchise is just so fundamentally flawed and incomplete that it is lucky to get the rating it got. I'm talking about numerous instances of terrible writing that constantly threaten to sink the franchise into oblivion, as well as how so much of the story and character histories are rarely even touched upon, let alone actually revealed. Sometime in the future I would like to start a thread on this movie series, re-watch all of the movies, and as I'm doing so write all of the problems I see into the thread. It would be a very interesting exercise, I believe.

Anyway, Type-Moon fans will of course love this movie series, but everyone else should be wary with just how badly-written it is. My advice is that it is best not to think about what is going on and just take it at its pretty face-value. Which is a tad ironic, given that this title wants us to engage our minds more than most Anime. Oh, but that is not what we really want to do. Pretty visuals and awesome fight scenes are the only things of value found in these nine hours of animation, trust me.

(The) Garden of Words (movie) Very good
Suffice to say that the visuals are sublime in most places with some absolute jaw-dropping moments. Yep, this is Shinkai alright. If only he could put as much focus on his storytelling as on his visuals then he'd surpass old man Miyazaki with ease. The first half of this short movie was very strong in how it set up the foundation of the two main characters' acquaintanceship. Then it sort of lost its way a bit and the writing got looser, and then the climatic scene consisted of two people holding an extremely unnatural expository shouting match. Sigh. I won't say that all the hard work was let down by this, but the ending was nowhere near as strong and authentic as it could have been. Still a good watch though, and for those who like photorealistic visuals well this is just a masturbatory experience.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (TV) Decent
Gen Urobuchi is credited with being the lead writer, which is a bit sad since this was a bit lacking in the writing department. No screenwriter can consistently turn out gold, but with this show it did seem like Urobuchi's heart wasn't in it at times. There were quite a lot of characters but only a tiny handful got any sort of meaningful development and focus, and what was there was pretty weak. Amy especially suffered; she was such an important character yet she was not handled very well. And the story's main message is that the only two options for life and society are to live like happy technophobes or soulless technophiles. That's an overly-simplistic and hare-brained view of things, lacks any sort of subtlety and does not really push the audience to think for themselves. I expect better from Urobuchi. It was still an okay show - touches of Urobuchi's genius are scattered here and there - but not a must-watch.
Gasaraki (TV) Very good
Gatchaman Crowds (TV) Bad
It tries so hard to be cool, but the key word here is "lame". It in no way manages to even remotely pull off making this cool. The show isn't at all intelligent either, despite all the efforts to integrate social media into the storyline and make it a critical component of the show. And then there's Hajime. She's a love-her-or-hate-her character, but that's neither here nor there. The fact is she just does not work at all.
Geneshaft (TV) Weak
Genesis Climber Mospeada (TV) Good
Genshiken (TV) Excellent
Ghost Hound (TV) Very good
It almost deserves to be rated as Excellent, but it just misses out.

The show spends too much time talking about psychological theories which may or may not have any bearing on the plot and characters. Yes, the show was quite intelligent, and the staff were obviously widely-read, but I feel they were showing off at times. The plot and characters are quite good, but the ending was a little rushed. I find the oddly low episode count - twenty-two - to be a little surprising, and I wonder if it wasn't cancelled prematurely.

At any rate, it could have done with one or two more episodes, which would have helped give better closure to the characters and give more consideration to the plot. I do recommend it, but with a few tweaks it could have been so much better.

Ghost in the Shell (movie) Good
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (movie) Weak
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV) Excellent
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (TV) Decent
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society (movie) So-so
Ghost Stories (TV) Good
Giant Killing (TV) Decent
This only just squeaked into Good territory thanks to a good ending.

I liked how this show focused on the professional side of sports rather than be yet another high school Sports Drama. Featured were sports writers, camera operators, serious fans, various officials, team management and administration that went beyond the high-school pairing of manager and coach; there was even a PR department, and the club had financial issues and relegation fears. Even on the players' side they had to worry about regular injury and being subbed out, while high-school Sports Dramas often have a fixed team with little subbing, and the spectre of injury only happens when it will most affect the plot, if at all. So much potential, so many relatively new avenues to explore and flesh out, but the show was let down by poor writing. And I'm disappointed about that.

One of the themes was that people who have fun play better. While team morale is of course important, it isn't a silver bullet that will immediately solve all your problems or make your players advance three levels of skill. There was a distinct lack of planning too. Oh, Tatusmi did come up with an impressive game-plan for the big game - which went on too long - but that was the exception which proved the rule. And even then, it stretches disbelief that a team as accomplished, as skilled and as spirited as their opponents were didn't put five or six goals away against ETU, intelligent plan or not. As a side comment, I thought there were too many slide tackles made period (let alone successful ones), and not enough interceptions.

The CG was pretty good, a much better effort than what I saw with Cross Game for example. The music was repetitive, which is a charge I've been laying against quite a few shows recently. At least the OP was good; you don't often hear that sort of English or Scottish sound in an Anime. The character designs on the other hand were just odd. The hairstyles were done well and looked like what real football players might have, but the overly muscular legs, the pointy noses and the weird art style the characters were drawn in made for a disconcerting viewing experience.

The whole business of people speaking French and Dutch and English was handled very, very badly. I do have to give the directors credit for trying, but it just did not work, the Seiyuu simply unable to do those languages justice. Dulfer was the worst offender; his inner monologues were simultaneously both in Dutch and Japanese, and it just Did Not Work. At all. Speaking about inner monologues, oh god, the worst problem the show had by far was that the players would be dribbling the ball and have these long conversations with themselves. Three seconds (if that) of game time turned into a minute or more about a characters telling us how determined he is or whatever. I hated it, just hated it.

I would recommend this to a fan of Sports Anime, but not to a general Anime fan. Even with the (unfulfilled) allure of a professional take on the Sports genre, this show is only slightly above being mediocre. It was watchable enough but that's about it.

Gifū Dōdō!! Kanetsugu to Keiji (TV) So-so
Ginga e Kickoff!! (TV) Very good
Gingitsune (TV) Good
(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie) Excellent
It did not disappoint.

I found this movie to be thoroughly enjoyable, with great humour and drama, and a good cast of characters. The story itself was solid, while the intriguing twist helped to set it apart from otherwise similar stories of time travellers. The budget was good, with moving backgrounds and beautiful background art more than making up for a sad penchant not to draw characters' faces when the "camera" was just a bit far away.

Now for a few gripes. First of all, as Justin Sevakis mentioned in his review of it, there were a few plot threads left unresolved. The painting was important, but only because it merely was; we were not told exactly why. And while it is obvious that the Aunt knows more than she lets on, we never get to see where she fits into all of this. Secondly, I didn't really like Riisa NAKA's performance as Makoto, who usually - especially for the more serious scenes - gave an unsatisfying delivery. I don't know what it was exactly, but most of her lines sounded unnatural, and the performance as a whole was a touch monotonous. Angry, sad, embarrassed, contemplative, she always sounded the same. It was an emotional story, and the character was likeable, but NAKA's performance didn't do either the story or the character justice. Thirdly, regarding poor Makoto herself, she is going to have to learn at one point or another that time waits for no-one. Anyone who has seen the very end will know what I mean.

Nevertheless, this movie was very, very good, and I have no qualms about giving it a deserved Excellent.

Girlish Number (TV) Decent
GJ Club (TV) Good
It's so quiet and unassuming, and each episode is paced very slowly. But it is very charming, the girls are lovable trolls and the atmosphere was very relaxing. It also has very subtle fanservice, more psychological than physical, which I found interesting. I highly enjoyed this show, and recommend it for those who want a change of pace from the typical loud, overbearing Ecchi-Comedies out there.
GJ [email protected] (special) Good
Glass Maiden (TV) So-so
While the elements were okay - not great, but okay - the problem was that this one-cour show felt like a two-cour show with half the episodes missing. The story wasn't truncated or incomplete, it was just missing half the episodes. I've never really experienced that sort of scenario before. Bizarre.
(The) Glass Rabbit (movie) Not really good
Go! Go! 575 (TV) Not really good
Four three-minute-long episodes is hardly grounds to make a good story or characters, and so it is the case here. Especially considering they spend half their time in the bathhouse and the haikus - the supposed focus of the show - are relegated to the occasional mention.
Gokujyo. Gokurakuin Joshi Kōryō Monogatari (TV) Not really good
Full of energy, but also brash, stupid and - the cardinal sin - not very funny.
Golgo 13 (TV) Good
My kind of show, and far less repetitive than idiots out there will tell you it is. In fact, it employs some very clever twists to the base formula and the writing generally does a good job at getting over a lot of plot in just one episode.

That said, it has limited appeal, some stories should have gotten more than one episode and the second half is indeed weaker than the first. A lack of any overarching plot is both a strength and a weakness.

It is an easy show to watch; I devoured all fifty episodes in a week. So if an awesome dude going around being awesome by doing awesome things sound like your cup of tea then by all means check this out.

Gonna be the Twin-Tail!! (TV) Good
Good Luck Girl! (TV) Excellent
Good Morning Althea (OAV) Decent
Gosick (TV) Good
Grave of the Fireflies (movie) Masterpiece
(The) Green Cat (OAV) Weak
It would have been better - MUCH better - as a full-length movie rather than a ridiculously-hurried one-episode OVA. There's nothing really wrong with the plot or characters, but rather there just wasn't enough time to really flesh them out.
Grimoire of Zero (TV) Decent
Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl (TV) Decent
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka (TV) Good
Gugure! Kokkuri-san (TV) Decent
Kohina is awesome but the show, as a whole, was only sporadically funny. I will say though that the jokes which did work were quite strong.
Guin Saga (TV) Very good
Gungrave (TV) Very good
Gunparade March (TV) Good
H2 (TV) Good
Only adapts a third of the story from the original manga, but given how bad the manga got that isn't such a bad thing. Better to be left wanting more than being sick from getting too much, right?
.hack//Intermezzo (OAV) Decent
.hack//SIGN (TV) Good
.hack//The Movie Good
Easily the best CG Anime I've ever seen, the visuals of .hack//Beyond the World are a treat. Definitely a movie to see in HD. The action sequences were pretty good - not great, but perfectly okay - and I salivated over the architecture and the ship designs. Even the small touches were fantastic, such as vegetation in some shots being properly three-dimensional which must have been a pain to render. But what I particularly loved were the character designs. They have these pleasing soft faces; if you've seen Hourou Musuko you'll know what I mean. Except here with a movie-strength budget the faces are wonderfully expressive, and the body language is superb. Pretty much the only thing wrong with it visually are that the lip flaps don't always match up with voice work. But that is a very common problem in CG works and I must say it isn't an issue most of the time in this movie.

If the top-tier visuals are the movie's strong point, the writing does let it down somewhat. The pacing is too slow in the first two-thirds and too fast in the last third. Now, that does mean there was time for some good world-building before the action, but unfortunately we got too many scenes of Sora getting used to the game and hanging out with friends rather than introducing us to concepts, people and places that would become important in the final battle. Plot holes were also prevalent, and the way the game affected both the real world and the players was ridiculous. On the positive side it was nice to see a spook from America actually being a Good Guy, and the grandpa was pretty cool for an old fella. Sora also had some realistic teenage spunk. It isn't the best writing but it's serviceable enough.

I haven't played any of the .hack games and my only previous familiarity with the franchise was .hack//SIGN. So I approached this movie with quite a bit of trepidation. Luckily the barrier of entry was fairly low, the story taking time to introduce The World and its basic gameplay mechanics. This means that if you are a newcomer to the franchise you need not fear not being able to understand anything. Just remember, watch it in 1080p if you can, your eyes will adore you for it.

Haganai (TV) So-so
The OVA promised so much but the series failed to live up to those expectations. The scientist girl was funny although under-utilised and the premise was good; a club for weirdoes who try and learn how to make friends. Many of the individual jokes were good, and it was nice to see a male lead with a bit of backbone.

But I have two related problems. The first was that the series never fully ran with the ideas it brought up, which made it seem light and fluffy rather than an actual commentary. But hey, it is a Comedy first and foremost, so I could it some slack. However, the second problem is that it doesn't do anything else. There's no overaching plot, it's just a collection of jokes.

Now, again, the show is a Comedy, but it isn't JUST a Comedy. It tried to be something more in the first half and then gave up and wasted episode after episode with sort-of-funny antics that really didn't go anywhere. It descended into stale territory when it promised so much and worse, it left me wanting more.

Haganai NEXT (TV) Decent
Much better than the first season, as in it had an actual plot, but still not really where it should be.

Some scenes were absolutely riotous - like the roller-coaster - and Rika stepped up as a character. But this felt disjointed and unfinished. Yes it's only the middle arc, but other shows have had good or even great middle seasons, so Haganai's writing must accept the blame. The screaming matches were quite stupid, as was the cliffhanger, and there are far too many loose ends (some of which were only introduced a few episodes from the end). The drama had sincerity, but it wasn't genuine. I know that sounds weird, but though the characters meant what they said their thoughts and actions were just bizarre. In another sense, the characters were well-realised, but they weren't utilised properly.

It was a fun season, and it avoided the plot-less nonsense of the first season. However, it just didn't feel satisfying, like it didn't live up to the potential it had. That said the story could still wrap up quite well, and if a third season is ever made I will definitely be watching.

Haibane Renmei (TV) Excellent
Hal (movie) So-so
It's not that I don't approve of what it was trying to do, and it's not that I don't approve of that sort of thing in general. It's just that the movie pulls it off so badly that it plain doesn't work. Also highly problematic is the setting, which apparently is super-advanced yet also has anachronisms from the nineteenth century. Make up your mind goddammit.
Hametsu No Mars (OAV) Awful
I just felt like watching something terrible. Not only was it funny as heck - in a "so bad it's good" kind of way - but it also makes me appreciate all the good anime out there even more.

The sad part though is that it isn't even the worst anime I've ever seen.

Hanamaru Kindergarten (TV) Good
Once every so often an Anime comes along with tired cliches and/or a utterly silly/offensive/moronic plot, and creates a delicious stew out of them. This is one such show.

There is nothing here that hasn't been hashed and re-hashed to death, barring the key point that the main characters are little older than toddlers. And yet, it is rather sweet, somewhat touching, and VERY funny. And it does not come across as toddlercon, which is what I initially thought it would be. Even when you know what's coming because you've seen it dozens of time before, this show managed to make those tropes enjoyable. Although, the Yamamoto sisters have to be two of the most clueless females in Anime (still kind of funny though).

I have to give a shout out to the EDs. Every episode has a different one, music, visuals and all. There is a great variety, and most are pretty good. My favourite is the Sci-Fi one, but then I'm biased towards that genre anyway.

This show isn't great by any means, but if preschool-age characters don't bother you then give it a shot. It may surprise you (it certainly did for me).

Hanasaku Iroha - Blossoms for Tomorrow (TV) Decent
Hanasaku Iroha: Home Sweet Home (movie) Good
Pretty good movie that did well to juggle all of its different threads. Just wish it didn't have so much of characters voicing their emotions. First of all it is so unnatural and sounds really stupid; people don't act that way. Secondly we don't need to be told what is already clear on screen, and most of the time it is already obvious or at least could be gotten across in another way. What happened to just letting a scene tell its own story rather than having the characters explain everything to us; does Okada think we won't understand if she isn't painfully blunt?
Hanayamata (TV) Very good
The way its plot consistently relies on extreme cliches does hold this show back from true greatness, and the low animation budget does prevent the yosakoi from shining as it should. Nevertheless it is almost unbearably cute and sweet with characters you just can't help rooting for, plus the art is simply gorgeous.
Handa-kun (TV) Good
Haruchika – Haruta & Chika (TV) Very good
Hataraki Man (TV) Masterpiece
Heat Guy J (TV) Decent
Heaven's Memo Pad (TV) So-so
Hellsing (TV) Good
(The ")Hentai" Prince and the Stony Cat. (TV) Not really good
Quite cute, but also incredibly dumb despite some doozy plot twists.

That said, some of how the wishes stack up is actually pretty intricate and impressive. It can be surprisingly clever and layered. Yet quite a few wishes have fundamental problems with how they work and create huge plot holes, as if the writer overreached himself or just ignored continuity whenever it didn't suit him. The show has other problems too. The theme of "being a pervert is a great thing" is lame, even as the affectionate "hopeless pervert" mantra was overused. Plus there were some bizarre aesops that can't simply be passed off as "LOL Japan". And it was kind of groan-inducing to see the lead female not being able to go five minutes without her trying to justify to herself why she's the best girl for the guy. She defined herself by how good of a girlfriend she would make and that was off-putting.

But the following is probably the biggest gripe from me, and it occurs in the middle episodes. The lead character treats the girls in a sickening manner, especially two of them. Male leads in Harem shows are usually very clueless, and they often hurt the girls around them by not making a choice. But they do so out of ignorance or accident or inattention. It is rare to see a guy who is this much of a prick, so cruel and manipulative and downright selfish. The lead male in HENNEKO pays just enough attention to these girls to string them along, but doesn't really try to understand them or help them.

It's a fairly watchable show, very very cute and with comedy that hits more than it misses. But it's dumb and half the wishes are flawed and the morals are effed-up and the lead male is at times a horrible piece of work, and so I'm left with a slightly sour taste in my mouth.

Heroic Age (TV) Very good
I didn't exactly have high hopes for it going in, but this series was a pleasant surprise.

So what did Heroic Age do right? Well, the character development for several characters impressed me, with many of the antagonists receiving better growth and development than the heroes. And they are only antagonists, as - minor spoiler alert - there is not a single true villain throughout the entire show. Although the show is fours years old the visuals are at times really impressive, especially when depicting alien worlds, the Nodos themselves or stupendously huge stargates. Hisashi Hirai's attractive character designs don't suffer from quite the same level of "copy-pasta" that he is (in)famous for, although you can still instantly tell he was the designer.

The show's mythos was pretty good, with god-like beings and a ship voyaging to find a legendary golden item. Ah yes, unashamedly the story of Jason and the Argonauts, but it worked well. It was at times fascinating, evoking a sense of wonder, and it knew where it wanted to go, as in, the show had a direction. I also appreciated the way the series would often take a step back and have characters consider things, whether it be their loyalties and duties, their grappling with emotions, or trying to piece together what the prophecies had in store with them. The contradictions between the various labors, the reasons for those contradictions, and the way the characters attempted to reconcile the various labors, genuinely impressed me. It showed a level of writing and wide base of thought that didn't need to be there to make the show "work" but was included anyway, and so was a big factor in why I rated Heroic Age as Very Good rather than Good.

I do have issues with the show, naturally. Let's start with the English dub, the version I watched. It was let down by Caitlin Glass's performance as a rape victim. Well, that's what she SOUNDED like. She used this really unnatural voice that I guess was supposed to sound all princess-like, but as it frequently had a constant tremor in it she came across as if she were begging for her life. I wasn't irritated by it all that much, in fact it was a great source of amusement as Glass filled scene after scene with unintentional innuendo. Still a negative though, no matter how funny it was.

Age, i.e. the main male character, wasn't much of a main character. He had no character growth or development, and therefore no character arc. Nothing seemed to bother him, ever. He was a happy-go-lucky guy in the beginning and stayed that way till the end. Although for a while his lack of angst was a refreshing change of pace to other Mecha and Space Opera shows, it became unnatural and then sort of grating. Additionally, he doesn't make appearances - at least as himself - for large tracts of time (often in multiple-episode blocks). He's the main male character but his screentime doesn't reflect that; something is a little wrong there.

I was annoyed and confused with the lack of any sort of internal consistency regarding timeframes, distances and the nature and origin of the powers that the various characters have. Some technical terms were not really explained properly, making it hard to figure out where they fit in. In most Anime the music is often repetitive; even titles in the Macross franchise recycled background music and insert songs every few episodes. However in Heroic Age it was very noticeable and a tad distracting. Especially the Doom Doors (google it), I noticed them every. Single. Time. (Luckily they weren't used all that often.)

Finally, while the almost inevitable expository dialogue wasn't too bad, I was a tad disheartened at how much of the early plot was simply given to us in the form of narration. I feel that the writers could have fit it in a little better. I realise that it is possible the story is meant to be "read" as an actual story of events gone by, with the narrator - Dhianeila - perfectly knowledgeable about most things. I mean, the style could be a linear story version of an Ancient Greek epic poem. Still, I wouldn't have minded the narration if it hadn't been used properly. I mean, it was the only source of information for what the heck was going on - and why - for quite a while until the various characters began filling in the details.

Anyway, Heroic Age never quite managed to reach high enough to enter the top tier of titles in either of the Mecha and Space Opera genres. Which may be a shame, yet do not be put off by that, as it was still a very solid series that often surprised me with its depth. Just a couple of notes. The fanservice (of the T&A kind) was limited to two slightly older women with these, er, "attention-grabbing bosoms". Implants, much? Secondly, the ending. It's really good, and I (almost) always love it when a show devotes its entire last episode to wrapping up loose plot threads and the like. But that final scene, as in the absolute very last one, annoyed the heck out of me. Be warned.

(The) Heroic Legend of Arslan: Dust Storm Dance (TV) Good
Heroman (TV) Very good
This was an example of how a show that wallows in cliches can - in the right hands - still turn out good.

Obviously having BONES was a good step, as it meant good production values right the way through. Animation, art, music; all solid. And Stan Lee does have a formula which has been a winner time and time again. There's nothing here that is original or groundbreaking, bar the fact that Stan Lee is involved. But it was still entertaining, even though I'd seen everything here many many times before.

This could really work well as a Saturday morning cartoon. Being set in America helps, and the creators captured the feel of the good ole USA quite well. It is a little violent for young kiddies though, and the villain is not your bumbling idiot who fails each and every episode; he was one of the best parts of the show. It is too bad at how the end dumbed him down, turning him from a fearsome, cautious yet cunning leader into the the cackling arrogant stereotype we know and hate.

Speaking of the end, it didn't wrap up everything as well as it should have. Part of that was due to forcing an important flashback into the final episode when it should have been aired long ago. Joey's rival didn't get any closure, we barely got a scene with Joey and Lina, and there was a very dubious plot decision earlier on. Not to mention an impressive but largely unexplained powerup. Oh well. At least we got a juicy (although not unexpected) scene which leaves room for a sequel.

For a show that ran on cheese, it was well above average. It spoke to the inner child inside, who wants so hard to become a hero. And yet, it often fell victim to the many cliches it was attempting to exploit. Still, it is definitely worth a look.

Hidamari Sketch (TV) Very good
Hidamari Sketch (special) Good
Hidamari Sketch × Honeycomb (TV) Very good
Hidamari Sketch × Hoshimittsu (TV) Very good
Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai (TV) Bad
Hina Logic - from Luck & Logic (TV) So-so
Hinako Note (TV) Not really good
Hiyokoi (special) Good
Honey and Clover (TV) Very good
Hoop Days (TV) Good
Hotarubi no Mori e (movie) Very good
Hourou Musuko (TV) Very good
House of Five Leaves (TV) Very good
I've always been of the opinion that Anime needs more intelligent shows. There's no question that this fits the bill. But when then does it have to be so boring?

Okay, so it isn't boring all of the time. The show does tell a good story stocked with some intriguing characters, and it does sport a setting that isn't completely defined and is more interesting for it. Yet the style is so quiet, the pacing so slow that the show is almost - almost - sleep-inducing. The characters can be so unemotional at times (sort of an anti-angst) that it is hard to empathise with them. For all of their depth, they are very conventional. Also, the story is dragged out one or two episodes too long.

The character designs are quite ugly; I know it is a stylistic choice, but it is hard to take characters seriously when they look like that. The music however is uniformly good (except for the ED song), although a tad overused in my opinion. The OP and ED are fantastic visually, and the OP has a great song too. I usually watched both.

Look, this was a good show. As an intelligent work it does succeed, the music is sound (pun intended; hah), and it does have some entertaining moments. But just don't expect this to be very energetic, because it isn't. I've heard some people say that viewers should enjoy trying to marathon this show, and I agree with that sentiment entirely. But do watch it.

Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Good
Hozuki's Coolheadedness (TV) Very good
Its humour may indeed be very dry but I found this show to be amusing, though rarely in a laugh-out-loud kind of way.
Humanity Has Declined (TV) Good
Hyouge Mono (TV) Masterpiece
It wasn't what I was expected. It didn't provide closure in the way I expected. It didn't do what I expected it to do, or go where I expected it to go. It didn't even answer its own fundamental question, something which it had mulled over for almost the entire thirty-nine-episode run. It has its flaws. It seems to lack the touch of greatness, and I never got chills down my spine from watching it. And yet . . .

I say this without hyperbole; it is one of the best Anime I have ever watched. It is hard to voice why. When examined individually, most components are merely adequate, some even less so. It is impossible to find specific scenes which showcase its greatness. Each gesture, line of dialogue and sideways glance conveys weight only in relation to others. This is gestalt in action, humble imperfection quietly usurping dazzling spectacle.

Should you watch it? A poor question.

HYOUKA (TV) Very good
Hyperdimension Neptunia (TV) Not really good
Surprisingly accessible for someone who hadn't played the games. Unfortunately, "accessible" does not mean "good".
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying (TV) Decent
I couldn't become a hero, so I reluctantly decided to get a job. (TV) Not really good
A touching story about being a productive member of society and finding your place in life was buried under loads of fanservice, most of it not even all that great. There was so much fanservice that two plot threads were never appropriately addressed and the main plot came late. It is a shame really.
If Her Flag Breaks (TV) Good
Inari Kon Kon (TV) Good
Cute little series, glad I watched it. Just a bit rushed for its own good. Another couple of episodes would have made a big difference.
Infinite Ryvius (TV) So-so
Initial D (TV) Excellent
Initial D: Battle Stage (OAV) Very good
Initial D: Battle Stage 2 (OAV) Very good
Initial D: Fifth Stage (TV) Good
Initial D: Final Stage (TV) So-so
After forty-eight volumes of the manga, after eighty-three episodes of anime plus a short film and a full-length film, THAT's the ending we get?

Far out.

Initial D: Fourth Stage (TV) Very good
Initial D: Second Stage (TV) Very good
Interviews with Monster Girls (TV) Very good
Inu X Boku Secret Service (TV) Decent
This is a tender and lovely little show. It constantly defies genre expectations and while it uses some awful tropes it actually justifies their use. The series tells a sweet tale of two very different people falling in love. Both of them however had cold childhoods which stunted their social and emotional growth, and the way they overcome their respective impairments is quite touching. And - spoiler alert - they are a confirmed couple by the end; yippee.

But unfortunately, while the central relationship is strong, the show itself is far from it. Very slowly paced, entire episodes go by with little to no development and are pretty much filler. Too many side-characters are introduced and most of them are merely one-joke bit parts. The lesbian bodyguard, the big-breasted maid, the self-proclaimed delinquent tanuki; they (and others) were rarely more than superfluous and extraneous characters. The backstory of Miketsukami is withheld far too long and just dumped on us at the end in one big block.

I liked the series, I liked the characters, and the relationship part did move fast despite the slow pacing. It was a very pleasant watch each week (even the filler episodes). And with a strong final episode, I think there are enough positives to warrant this grade.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san (TV) Decent
Iron Man (TV) Decent
Wow, this got a lot of undeserved hate.

It isn't amazing. It just isn't. Plot holes abound, the story is generic, the villains are monster-of-the-week, the final boss' identity is painfully obvious, Tony gets his arse handed to him in virtually every battle, people switch sides like this was social soccer, and scenes are ripped off of the recent two live-action Hollywood movies. But as Anime - or comic books - go it is pretty decent. There are numerous plot holes in this but no more than many (supposedly superior) titles I can name. The story is of a similar quality to what you'd expect to find in any American comic book, just set in Japan. They did use scenes inspired heavily from the live-action movies, but changed them up and gave them a slightly new twist. The monster-of-the-week episodes were set aside in the second half for a proper storyline, character designs were nice - a good blend of Anime style and comic-book sensibilities - and the voice work was passable at worst.

I have to wonder what people were expecting. This ain't great by any stretch but it never pretended to be. It was just an entertaining-enough show that was worth spending twenty-two minutes on each week. That's all I really wanted out of this.

Is the order a rabbit? (TV) Decent
Largely forgettable, but a cute and sweet ride while it lasted. Yes, it is a typical Cute-Girls-Do-Cute-Things type of show, but it's also funny and charming. A nice diversion when you're in the mood to watch something light and agreeable.
ItaKiss (TV) So-so
Ixion Saga DT (TV) Decent
Some of the episodes were not funny at all - not even a little - while others were gut-busters. The first episode was by far and away the best of the lot, and therefore believe that the show never quite managed to live up to early expectations. However I found the show to overall be a pretty enjoyable ride.
Izetta: The Last Witch (TV) So-so
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie) Excellent
Jinsei - Life Consulting (TV) Good
Joshiraku (TV) Excellent
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War (TV) Not really good
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (TV) Good
KADO - The Right Answer (TV) So-so
Kaiba (TV) Very good
Kaiba was always a weird show. But it was good-weird in the first half, weird-weird for the next few episodes and bad-weird for the finale. The first half had powerful episodes with Kaiba exploring the unique memory mechanics and amazing universe. But more importantly he delved (literally) the hearts and lives of ordinary people, reminiscent of Kino's Journey. Unfortunately, when the story moved permanently to Issoudan to focus on the revolutionaries and Warp castoffs the show dived in quality. That doesn't mean it became bad, just that it went from exceptional to just good. What a pity.
Kaiji (TV) Excellent
Kamisama Dolls (TV) Very good
Kamisama Kiss (TV) Very good
Katanagatari (TV) Good
Though overall it was a good show, the bizarre and frankly crappy ending punctuates what a frustrating experience this was at times.

Katanagatari's rather unique release structure was both a good thing and a bad thing. Bad in that it was hard to drum up much enthusiasm between episodes with such a long wait between them. Episode twelve being the obvious exception, what with episode eleven's cliffhanger. That raises another (but related) problem. The first ten episodes were self-contained - one sword, one episode - although latter episodes did frequently mention earlier ones. It felt a bit stilted and formulaic as each story was wrapped up in the allotted timespan, and until the end there was not the drive to watch the next episode to see what happens next. Yes, the staff obviously intended for the structure to be this way, and they did take steps to mitigate the inherent problems with the flow of the show. The aforementioned nods to previous episodes helped, but only looking backwards, not when looking forwards to building anticipation to future episodes.

The structure did have its strengths. A whole month between episodes means the production team aren't under quite the same horrible time-pressure that bedevils most Anime series. Yes, it has double-length episodes, but each episode comes out a quarter as often. Therefore twice as much time can be spent on every episode - nay, every minute - of Katanagatari than on a normal TV show. Now you'd think this would mean much better art and animation, and I do have to say that the art was quite striking. Very simple, very basic, but incredibly colourful and vivid. Especially the design and colouration of the eyes. It seems as though every character either had a stock (but very odd) two-tone eye design but with their own colouration pattern, or they had their own personal brand of eye. Backgrounds weren't nearly as vivid, and I noticed at least two, possibly three instances of incredibly poor and exceedingly obvious recycled animated backgrounds, especially in the same scene. Y'ouch.

Speaking of the animation, generally it was quite disappointing. This was obviously a low-budget production, which happens. Some of my favourite Anime were made with little more than the smell of an oily rag, metaphorically speaking. But given the time that the animators had twice as long per minute, I expected better than this. I know I know, animators get paid per frame, so increasing the time allotted to them isn't going to automatically translate into better quality, but I was hoping, I really was. The fights are very basic, the action sequences being almost always very short with limited detailed movements. EVERY fight is padded out with dialogue. That is not too surprising, given who wrote the series of Light Novels this show is based on, but the exposition gets tiring in a number of fights. It's just another problem with the show's episodic nature. Sometimes you've got too much to fit into the episode, sometimes not nearly enough

This series has plot problems (not all the issues with the plot were holes, although some were). It has A LOT of plot problems. They piss me off but luckily do not detract enough from the show to make it unwatchable. Things depicted don't always correspond to the tech level of the intended time period; I'm not just talking about the blades here, as they are (partially) justified. Sure, there's magic, but the characters were the ones that brought physics into this, not me. (As an aside, I'm amazed that a feudal society would even know of the word "physics"; maybe it was just a mistranslation by the fansubbers.) And it may just be me, but I struggled to put together the actual behind-the-scenes plot, the whole point of the rebellion. But what was REALLY baffling were the show's finale and coda. They did not make sense. At all. Even someone with perfect understanding of the plot would not have understood - let alone forgiven - why the coda played out like it did. Shichika's decision in the finale was bizarre too, which when mixed in with some glaring plot problems did take a bit of impact away from the otherwise fairly exciting finale.

I liked Bakemonogatari. Nay, I loved Bakemonogatari. I knew that this show would be talky too. But twenty-five-minute long talky episodes are much easier to swallow than fifty-minute-long talky episodes. And Shichika and Togame struggled to match their counterparts. In fact they fell pretty far off. Also, for all of Katanagatari's uniqueness the general format of the series - a smart yet obnoxious girl paired with a guy akin to a fish out of water, who travel together to collect important artefacts - is actually pretty standard. Not tired, because there is some blending of different story elements, but it doesn't make a statement of "this is fresh". I fully understand and accept that most Anime are like this, which is why I haven't marked the show down for it. But I mention it because the execution is - 99% of the time - more important than premise. Yet by and large Katanagatari didn't try to supersede its not-so-special origins with great execution. It was good, don't get me wrong, but overall I feel it could have done better. That said, there were some notable instances which impressed me, and they spoke of the underlying quality of the show. No matter how dull or outright annoying the show got, there was usually a good reason to keep watching.

After all that I've said, this is the message I want to convey: this is a good show whose good points more than exceed its bad points, as numerous, as obvious, and often as grating as they are. In my opinion, the biggest problem the show has is how most of the character development for the two leads is left so late. Overall, besides the unique release structure and the art style which eschews normal sensibilities, Katanagatari is your typical good solid Anime production. I say watch it.

Keijo!!!!!!!! (TV) Very good
KenIchi the Mightiest Disciple (TV) Decent
Kick-Heart (movie) Good
On its own this so-called "movie" (at a mere twelve minutes long, it's really just a short OVA) is nothing special. Yeah, the art style is funky and the animation is impressive, but apart from that there's nothing much in the movie Anime itself to leave a lasting impression. No, what makes Kick-Heart noteworthy is the fact that it owes its life to Kickstarter. It's proof that crowd-funding can indeed be viable for Anime, at least for short OVAs. Whether it can be used to finance the creation of an entire series is another matter, but the business model does show promise; think of Kick-Heart as a successful prototype. People may one day look back and single it out as a turning point in the Anime industry, or at least an important landmark.
Kid's Story (OAV) Good
Kids on the Slope (TV) Good
This series was a disappointment. I still liked it overall, gave it a rating of Good, but it grates on me that there was so much that was done either poorly or not at all. Ritsuko was a huge problem right throughout the show. Yurika and Jun weren't utilised as well as they should have been, and neither were Kaoru's extended family. Apart from the jam sessions (which were of great quality) the much-vaunted music was kind of meh. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, but for a show based around music it was a big let-down. The ending lacked closure on several fronts, like with Sentaro with his family. It's like the show needed at least half-an-episode more to wrap things up, but we didn't get it,

Worst of all, the emotional aspect was poorly handled and frankly AWOL on many occasions. There would be a huge event (a kiss, a fight, someone running away), and then a several-month timeskip. It happened not once or twice but obnoxiously frequently. It made the emotional tone of the series extremely disjointed and prevented us from seeing the immediate aftermath of all the highs and lows. It's hard to really care about a couple who have publicly confessed their love when BAM, three month timeskip. It is cowardly directing and cowardly writing from production staff who not only know better but ARE better than that.

Like I said before, the overall quality of the series is good, just. Is it great? Unfortunately no. It promised to be in the first episode however the more I watched the more frustrated I got. And it isn't a case of overly-high expectations on my part. Those were some really basic writing and narrative mistakes that you wouldn't put up from any team, let alone this high-profile one. Would I recommend this show? Yes, yes I would. But I would recommend it as the fairly good show it actually is rather than the great show it might have been.

Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) Good
Kill Bill Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren (movie segment) So-so
Kill la Kill (TV) Very good
Kimi ni Todoke - From Me to You (TV) Very good
I don't normally "do" Romance, but I'll watch it on the odd occasion I enjoy it (duh), and I'll only enjoy it if it is any good.

That I watched Kimi ni Todoke right the way through should clue you in that this is a great show. Even though I knew (or thought I knew) how it would end it still seemed refreshing, funny, emotionally touching, and endearing. I wanted with all my apparently not-so-jaded heart that our two extremely likeable leads would get together. But, well . . . hmm.

And that's not all. The middle flopped very noticeably and very badly. The show's overall pacing was poor, extremely so in some places. There was too much screentime give to characters we just simply didn't care about as much as the two leads. It was simply too long, but also not long enough to give the audience the payoff we so badly wanted.

It would have been Masterpiece on the first three, maybe six episodes alone, and it could have still been Excellent if Kurumi hadn't wasted something like eight episodes on her lonesome. A great series that wasted even greater potential; so sad. So very genuinely sad.

By all means watch it; in fact I request that you do, because it IS good. But please note that the huge potential you see at the start is squandered rapidly around the one-third mark and never recovered. Travesty I tell ya, travesty.

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season (TV) Very good
Better production values aside, this is just as heart-warmingly good and just as frustratingly slow as the first season. My patience sure ran thin (and quickly too), but the payoff was worth it.
King's Game The Animation (TV) Worst ever
Kinmoza! Kiniro + Mosaic (TV) Good
Kino's Journey (TV) Masterpiece
Kino's Journey - the Beautiful World- (TV) So-so
Kino's Travels: Life Goes On (movie) Good
Kino's Journey is a Masterpiece. This . . . this is not. It is a half-hour OVA that tries to fill in the backstory but raises more questions than answers. It is also decidedly not as well-written as the T.V. series. Still, we're talking about the opportunity to watch more Kino (even if she is only proto-Kino at this stage), and that isn't a bad thing.
Knights of Sidonia (TV) Very good
Kobato. (TV) Decent
Ahh CLAMP, you disappointed me. I demand satisfaction *whack*.

I watched this because CLAMP has almost a reputation for starting out a series light and fluffy and then getting quite serious towards the end. This sort of followed the same formula, but the execution was not good enough. The connection between Kobato and Kiyokazu was kind of lame, the Yomogi Nursery storyline was not only poorly thought-out but wasted far too much screentime, and poor Ioryogi never had his background explained. Kobato was tasked with retrieving one-hundred candies in a year, which is one every three and-a-bit days. However, after several months she hardly had any, and then a couple of episodes later her jar is almost filled up with no explanation given. Here's a tip to CLAMP and/or the show's writers; don't set your protagonist a clearly impossible and easily definable task and then have that character basically achieve that task through events that could not possibly have happened under the clear and rigid parameters that you yourselves set. It breaks the audience's suspension of disbelief, surprisingly enough (that's sarcasm).

So yeah, I had issues with Kobato., and I felt confused and betrayed. But it was a sweet enough ride, and the final two episodes were nice enough. Just wish it could have been more like Chobits. Umm, I can't believe I just said that.

Kodomo no Jikan (TV) Worst ever
Koi Kaze (TV) Masterpiece
A serious and understated look at an incestuous relationship.

This can be a really hard show to watch at times, because apart from the one co-worker who is there for comic relief none of this material is played for laughs. Oh sure, there are some humourous moments, but anyone looking for typical Anime-style hi-jinks is going to be completely disappointed. When you have two such realistic leads and put them through the emotional wringer by way of a semi-taboo subject matter that makes many people uncomfortable, then it can be hard to struggle through several key scenes. I had to actually clasp my hands together at times because otherwise I would hit the pause button too often.

But you know, I'm glad I watched this show. It is so nice to see Anime actually treat such a subject matter seriously and with respect, instead of degrading it by playing it for laughs or introducing a cop-out ending. Real credit must go to the superb writing, which by the way was never judgemental, but the true star was the direction. I have read Theron Martin's reviews of the show's DVDs, and I strongly agree with him that every frame, every expression and even every line of dialogue is important, even if just to set the mood, foreshadow the future or provide some insight. The ending didn't actually do quite what I thought it would, and initially I thought it might have been a cop-out. I've come to realise (didn't take me long) that the ending I had in mind was not what they were going for. What we did actually get was something rather muted, but also rather satisfying. Keep that in mind if you ever intend to watch the show

Technically, this was never a show that required strong art or animation, and it kind of shows. They're serviceable and that is all they ever needed to be. However, I did notice how carefully Nanoka's hair was animated in some scenes, whether it be blowing in the wind or just slipping off of her shoulder when she turned her head, and the number of hairstyles and outfits Nanoka had was far more than what many newer series display. I liked the realistic character designs, especially Koushirou's. A lot of real-life men have that jawline and body type and yet most males in Anime are either very thin or rather ripped. As for the music, it was really good, but the true genius was knowing when to turn it off. The lack of musical cues means the audience has to think for itself. Some will find it just makes the show boring, but those who invest some concentration to interpreting the meanings behind facial expressions and body language will be rewarded.

Unfortunately I wasn't rewarded as much as I wanted, and that is because I never quite "got" the attraction between the two. I do applaud the writing for not making obvious scenes as to just where and when they fell in love. The siblings quite realistically just grow closer and closer, until they realise they have gone past a line that was never visible until it was crossed. However, because the line is not obvious it also feels that the developments in their respective feelings happens too fast in the second half. The physical attraction I can understand, especially on the behalf of Koushirou (Nanoka is rather cute), but actual romantic love? When did that happen? It is hard to reconcile Koushirou's Tsundere nature - yes, he's a rare male example, made even more rare by being an adult and even moreso by being played seriously - with Nanoka's feelings. I guess humans are really that strange, but it is disconcerting watching it on my screen.

To be blunt, I do not know exactly why I am not rating Koi Kaze a Masterpiece, only that my gut tells me it isn't quite there. But it is still an amazingly well crafted show, one of the best you'll ever see in Anime, or outside of it for that matter. The lack of powerful emotional punches I felt from it can be easily turned around to mean that it didn't go the cheap and easy manipulative route a la Clannad After Story, and I do wholeheartedly respect it for that. Maybe some day I'll rewatch it and find that I missed key clues the first time around, and I might adjust my rating. For now, it will have to settle for "just" an Excellent.


Edit: I rewatched this June-2013 and wow, it was even better than I remembered. I think the reason is twofold. Firstly, I was better able to see the subtle details and hints in the early episodes, which meant that their relationship felt more substantial than in the first time I watched this. When they finally got together it didn't seem rushed anymore, because I could better see that their development and attraction started right from the get-go. And secondly, the subject matter doesn't bother me as much as before. I wasn't constantly going "ewww" and that meant my viewing experience was greatly improved. I was able to immerse myself more in the show and soak up the atmosphere. And because I could let the characters speak for themselves rather than overlay my prejudices over every action I could actually better understand Koushirou and Nanoka. I still don't think what they did was right, but I also am in no position to say that they were wrong either.

It's still a story that not many people are going to want to watch, and it isn't enjoyable in the traditional sense. But it has become clear to me that I cannot deny its quality any longer and so I am re-rating this as Masterpiece. If you want proof that Anime can be as good a story-telling medium as any other, look no further than Koi Kaze.


Kokoro Connect (TV) Good
KONOSUBA - God's blessing on this wonderful world! 2 (TV) Very good
Kumamiko - Girl meets Bear (TV) Not really good
I wasn't as upset about the ending as some other people, but it was definitely a major issue that dragged the show's quality substantially down. After all, it undoes practically all of the development for every single character - no mean feat - and presents a disgusting moral. When you add in the highly repetitive humour - most of which consisted of mean-spirited or plain sadistic jokes at the expense of a naive fourteen-year-old girl - you get a highly uncomfortable viewing experience.
Kurau: Phantom Memory (TV) Excellent
Kuroko's Basketball (TV) So-so
Kurozuka (TV) Not really good
The entire plot is based on a neat idea, which I will not spoil here but did find intriguing. It was certainly full of potential, which is sadly not lived up to.

The director Tetsuro Araki also helmed Death Note and as we saw in that series he can do wonderful things with great source material. Unfortunately Kurozuka is not well written at all in its actual execution, although whether that's the fault of the source manga or Araki (he's also the screenwriter here) is difficult to tell. But he shouldn't have tackled the script unless he could have delivered a quality product, so ultimately it IS his fault, no matter what the original manga was like. The direction itself was quite spotty, which makes me wonder if perhaps he got distracted with the script. Even the animation courtesy of Madhouse suffered some clunkers.

As for the narrative, it was interesting that the show was presented out of chronological order, which allowed for some early gaps and mysteries to be slowly filled in as the show progressed. But most of the gaps weren't filled - in fact, not a hell of a lot was explained at all - and the unresolved mysteries became plot holes. Then the ending turns everything on its head and makes you wonder what the bleep you just watched. That's if your brain hasn't melted from overheating after trying to make sense of it all; it really is an ending that defies description.

This is a very Asian series. I don't mean in the sense that it has Asians in it, that's not it, duh. Rather, that the tone and the way everything is presented is so very . . . umm . . . hmm . . . well okay, let me put it this way: butterflies, butterflies, more effing butterflies. Pauses so long that they seem eternal, with whispery music that will put you to sleep. Heroes are boring as heck, with little dialogue and an expectation to just stand there looking pretty (even the guys. Heck, ESPECIALLY the guys). Bizarre over-the-top villains make random appearances, do nothing at all of any relevance to the overall plot, kill some minor unimportant characters before quickly disappearing from sight (almost always from being brutally killed). There's no chemistry behind the key relationship, nor any genuine comradeship between any of the supposed allies; worse, no attempt is even made in these areas. Apparently if two beautiful people so much as look at one another then that's all the chemistry you need for the romance that the entire freaking plot is based around. The narrative is highly obtuse and the negative, incomplete and plain baffling ending raises more questions than it answers. The humour is also low-key and sparse, with much of what little there is coming unintentionally, like a running gag about decapitation that probably wasn't supposed to be funny at all.

I could go on, but I won't. What I will say is that if you watch the first episode and think to yourself, "wow, the action in this show is so cool, it's worth watching for that alone", well I hate to break it to you but it isn't. The action can be amazing at times, true, but some action scenes are downright laughable, and one of the show's biggest fights in the penultimate episode is largely comprised of still frames with weird colour filters. The budget was clearly running out towards the end of the show, but also one gets the sense that Madhouse primarily used their B team for most of Kurozuka whilst their A team popped in once in a while in between working on Mouryou no Hako. At any rate, the fights are almost uniformly bloody and often violent but are almost never on the level that we saw in episode one. They definitely don't carry the show.

Kyō, Koi o Hajimemasu (OAV) Bad
A volume of Manga adapted into Anime takes up about two-to-four twenty-three-minute episodes. This OVA is only twenty-one minutes long (including an ED more than two minutes long), and apparently covers almost four volumes. It isn't hard to see what the main problem here is.

This was just an advertisement for the Manga. Except, because we get only the most hurried of explanations as to the backstory (the Anime does not start where the Manga does), the audience has not the faintest clue about what is going on. Why is he such a prick? Why does she like him? I don't know. And with such a short run-time there was no point introducing us to two secondary characters; at least Voices of a Distant Star knew where to keep the focus.

This OVA felt like the badly-done end of a twenty-six-episode series. But because we missed all of the previous episodes, we got no build-up, no explanations, no real chance for meaningful character growth, no enjoyment. The only bright sides were that the art style is easy on the eye, and that the setup does look like it has potential.

But such a badly-executed OVA in no way makes me want to read the Manga, that's for sure. As an advertisement it fails.

Kyousogiga (ONA) Not really good
Some people dig this sort of thing because its artsy, but let's be honest. This is too bizarre and obtuse and nonsensical to be good.
Kyousogiga Dainidan (ONA) So-so
Very, very strange, and not necessarily in a good way. At least it's memorable I guess.
Kyousougiga (TV) So-so
The main moral of Kyousogiga: love is hurting someone, whether emotionally or just a good old punch to the face. Gack.

The first half of the show was good; really good. The first true episode (not the OVA) was exceptional. But the second half saw the story go off the rails as it messily tried to cram in over a cour's worth of plot developments in a mere five episodes. We were introduced to two Shrine characters who were barely featured and didn't really matter, introduced to god himself (the senior one) in the last episode and he barely mattered, everything was so hurriedly explained (partly due to the writers holding their cards to the chests for too long), and we saw existing characters act bizarrely out of nowhere just to get the plot moving after all that character development in the first half. What a waste of all that potential.

Last Exile (TV) Decent
Legend of Basara (TV) Very good
(The) Legend of the Galactic Heroes (OAV) Very good
Too flawed to be a Masterpiece. When it was good it was very very good, when it was bad it was abysmal. If you can, watch the first season, which is arguably the best (or at least the most tolerable).
A Letter to Momo (movie) Very good
Level E (TV) Excellent
A great title that got a lot of undeserved bad rap.

Baka Prince may have an extremely unlikeable personality, but he is hilarious as a character. The writing was generally very good, with the first and last arcs being absolutely top-notch and the rest ranged from alright to pretty good. The series was based on a fairly old Manga and so felt outdated with the Color Rangers episodes, but hey, even though they were the worst of the bunch they still had their moments. Both the OP and ED were solid, the production values were good, and the humour was a treat. And I just loved the intelligence and cunning the show displayed pretty much right the way through. As a viewer, getting successfully trolled - or in one stunning display of awesomeness, reverse-trolled - has never been so enjoyable.

It doesn't matter if this show sags in the middle; it still is good even in the less interesting episodes. And besides, one just has to watch the brilliant second halves of both episode three and thirteen (albeit in context) and you'll forget everything that's supposedly "wrong" with the production.

Library War (TV) Good
Library War: The Wings of Revolution (movie) Very good
(The) Life of Budori Gusuko (movie 2012) Bad
Decided that I'll get through my backlog easier if I watch one movie a day. Started off with The Life of Guskou Budori, a little-known 2012 movie about a society of anthropomorphic cats dealing with climate cooling. It was good for the first twenty-five or so minutes as the older brother and his sweet little sister dealt with starvation (I had flashbacks to Grave of the Fireflies). However, this story turned out to be boring, nonsensical, emotionally distant and scientifically stupid: volcanoes don't work that way you morons. How such a recent movie doesn't know about sulfur dioxide and the cooling effects of volcanoes I don't understand.

And the magic/supernatural crap was unnecessary, unwanted and atrociously utilised with respect to the plot. Not that there was much of a plot anyway, just some random arcs interspersed with nonsense. The closest thing there was to one - the kidnapping of the sister - was left hanging, completely unresolved (not that the brother was all that interested in or affected by it). I thought she might have died as well as their parents, and the boy's subconscious made up some crap about her being abducted, and he survived because he ate her share of the flour. But nope, that wasn't it, which was extremely disappointing, though I would have taken anything other than what we got, which was nothing.

Let's look at Guskou himself some more. He was a boring and distant lead who showed no emotional depth or attachment until the end of the film where he decides to help people so that they don't share the same fate as his family did. Commendable, but sadly, it comes as way too little, far too late. And he must have had a deus ex machina button because how exactly did he make a volcano blow up by himself? He really does come across as the 1930s Imperial Japanese poster boy for hard work that he was in the original novel. Your family died and your sister got kidnapped? Well don't let that emotionally affect you in any way - you need to keep working hard for the good of the people! And you'll be able to magically save them by yourself even though it is impossible! The Japanese can make anything happen if they are willing to sacrifice their lives! Now excuse me, I'm going to go throw up for a while at such blatant and sickening nationalistic and fascist propaganda masquerading as a family film.

elevator music plays, minutes pass

Okay, back again. The art is gorgeous - especially the scenes of the forest in the first ten minutes or so - and the music could be very nice at times. It even had some strong scenes and a very promising plot outline with plenty of potential. But man was this a crappy movie (as if you hadn't already realised that). A lot of little-known movies deserve far better, hidden gems that ought to be brought out of obscurity to meet the light of day and be appreciated by a wider audience. This movie however should be consigned to oblivion, and I'm glad that it is so obscure. I realise that by telling people about it I am giving it far more press than it deserves. But, I do reckon that negative press is important and that people should be able to make up their own minds if they want - and dare; you could just end up wasting two hours of your life. That said, the movie does make a good case study for those who want to witness first hand how a fundamentally good story can be ruined by incompetent execution and bad narrative choices.

I rated The Life of Guskou Budori as Bad. Had the volcano science been up to snuff, the propaganda been toned down (or - le gasp! - removed), and had the sister plot thread gotten some closure (any at all), I may have rated the film a couple of ranks higher. But no more; it was already too compromised. Even without the glaring issues this just wasn't that great a film. With them and it is something I actively dislike. Prettiness ain't everything.

Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! (TV) Decent
Yeah, this grade surprised me too. But this series really does have a good heart. It isn't anywhere near the same level as Usagi Drop, but it is still a good story nevertheless. The Seiyuu who did Hina is absolutely amazing, I'm floored by how impressive and realistic the performance is.

The proverbial elephants in the room is that one of the girls has a huge crush on the male lead, and the fanservice is a huge problem. It is hard to have a heartwarming story when the girls are the subject of this level of fanservice. Everything from cleavage on a three-year-old (WTF?) to a ten-year-old rubbing her budding breasts against the male lead to really badly-done 'walk-ins' to a couple of pantyshots, one of which (in episode ten's endcard) was a step too far. It just made me groan, and if it had been a little worse this could have dropped a grade or two, because such lowbrow stupidity undermined the message that the story was telling.

This series is a good example of how an initially terrible start can be overcome if the writing gets its act together and the horrible fanservice is toned down in subsequent episodes. The show really does get better with time, and the finale is a strong one. You first just have to make it past the initial icky episodes; ugh.

Little Witch Academia (movie) Good
Locodol (TV) Good
I know I've used this word a lot but if there's one word I would use to describe Locodol that would be "charming". It doesn't try and knock our socks off, but rather it just works hard every week at putting a smile on our faces. I think it succeeded admirably.
Log Horizon (TV) Very good
Long Riders! (TV) Decent
Lord Marksman and Vanadis (TV) Not really good
Loups=Garous - The Motion Picture Bad
Love and Lies (TV) Bad
Love Lab (TV) Excellent
Love Live! School idol project (TV) Good
A cliched ending with a large plot hole was pretty much the only black mark in this enjoyable and energetic series. Good clean fun that even those not interested in idols can watch.
Love Live! School idol project (TV 2/2014) Not really good
So good for so long - if you ignore how the girls became so good with so little onscreen effort - but then shot itself in the foot at the very very end. What a waste.
Love Stage!! (TV) Good
I've finally found it: a BL show that is actually good!
Love Tyrant (TV) Decent
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! (TV) Very good
Cute and fun, with a good amount of energy, and the make-believe scenes were a treat. However, the last three episodes were weak and didn't really gel. The show was much better at comedy than drama, and as we got into the more dramatic second-half the overall quality went downhill. Episode eleven was really poor with some horrible melodrama. Also, the show didn't really have a proper ending, especially for but not limited to the side characters. The overall message of the show - be who you are and don't be ashamed of it - was pretty rushed and not given the development/screentime it should.

All in all it's quite enjoyable and worth collecting, but not something I'd want to re-watch.

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Heart Throb- (TV) So-so
Unnecessary cash-driven sequel that dragged quite a bit and featured the worst parts of any romance: complete obliviousness and super-awkward feelings. Wish they'd just left it at the first season.
Love, Election and Chocolate (TV) Decent
Lucky Star (TV) Very good
Lunar Legend Tsukihime (TV) Good
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (movie) Excellent
Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (TV) Not really good
The actual overarching storyline was quite clever, however the writing itself was piss-poor. Having a dark and gritty origin story was also a good idea, but it came off as juvenile and incompetently handled at times. And this is going to sound strange, but while there was too much fanservice at the beginning there was not nearly enough at the end.

I did like the visual style and the way the interesting BGM affected the mood; the show looked and sounded fantastic. But with the writing as it is and the characters failing to impress, it comes off as very shallow and merely style over substance. I didn't care for it at all. I can't even get angry at it in this writeup, it was so meh.

Lupin the 3rd: The Mystery of Mamo (movie) Bad
Macross Frontier (TV) Excellent
Macross Frontier: Itsuwari no Utahime (movie) Very good
Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa (movie) So-so
Macross Plus Movie Edition Decent
Despite it nosediving in the second half (and especially the final quarter), the movie is good enough to survive. At heart a surprisingly touching character drama, it nevertheless sports all the epic dogfight action we've come to know and love from the Macross franchise. The character designs are also superb, definitely instant favourites of mine.
Macross Zero (OAV) So-so
The mysticism really clashed with the technology. This really had no business calling itself a Macross series. As a standalone original product it wouldn't have been too bad, but tie it into the wider Macross franchise and it just does not sit right.
Made in Abyss (TV) Excellent
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (TV) So-so
Started off well, but really fell into Shounen trappings in the second half.

The whole "fate is good, free-will bad" crap was gagging, and there was the old "the hero mustn't kill evil because killing is wrong" garbage that we've come to know and hate. Alibaba is so pathetic that every time he gains new confidence he immediately undermines it, meaning he fell into self-doubt about a dozen times over the course of the series, and each time his friends had to pick him up. Got real old real fast; cyclical character arcs are never fun.

On the plus side, Morgiana was a true delight, easily the best character. She stole the show. Sinbad was also pretty cool. I also liked the good world-building done here, and I liked the settings - nice to see some Arabian architecture for a change in Anime.

I've heard that this series makes big (and many would say unnecessary and destructive) changes to the Manga, altering events, locations, and even personalities of important characters. I can only base my assessment of the Anime on what I saw in the actual show, but I do wish that I had seen the same story as the one the highly-regarded Manga told. As it is, this show really felt underwhelming. If it wasn't for Morgiana, the rating might be even lower.

I second season has already been announced, and though I'll probably watch it, it won't be with much enthusiasm.

Magic of Stella (TV) Good
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (TV) So-so
Magnetic Rose (movie) Very good
Mai Mai Miracle (movie) So-so
Maid Sama! (TV) Good
I originally wasn't going to watch this show, as the description sounded really daft. But watch it I did, and it was worthwhile.

It is impossible for me to avoid comparing this show to Kimi ni Todoke. Both are Shoujo which aired close together (Kaichou wa Maid-Sama began when Kimi ni Todoke finished), and both had lacklustre endings and repetitive music. Kaichou wa Maid-Sama was superior in animation, artistry, elements of its humour, and had a much more interesting male lead. It put its characters into a variety of refreshing situations, avoided sagging in the middle (also, thankfully lacked a recap), and had (spoiler alert) The Kiss, which the other didn't have. It even had a better rival.

But it lacked the emotional punch of Kimi ni Todoke, had a less sympathetic female lead, and both Usui and Misaki never developed at all, let alone because of their mutual friendship/relationship (which by the way wasn't as realistic as Kimi ni Todoke's). The ending, although it had the pair as an official couple, completely failed to wrap up numerous plot threads. And I really mean that; I can think of at least six different loose threads. One of the most intriguing was Usui's past, and the obstacles that their relationship faces. His past was given only the slightest nod in the second ED. The Anime brought up the issue of the obstacles in the penultimate episode, but if you want to find out what they are you'll have to read the Manga spoilers.

If the two series could be amalgamated the resulting work would be one of the top Shoujo works ever made. As it is, they are two of the best such shows I've ever seen, although I confess I'm hardly an expert. But at the very least, Kaichou wa Maid-Sama has joined Kimi ni Todoke and Vision of Escaflowne in the ranks of Shoujo that I could recommend to someone who doesn't normally "do" Shoujo.

Majestic Prince (TV) Good
Mangirl! (TV) Decent
What's there to say? Three-minute episodes, taught me some stuff about the Manga-making process and was enjoyable.
MAOYU (TV) Not really good
It did do some things really well.

- The setup was great; not just novel, but actually intelligent and with incredible potential.

- Maoyu herself was a fascinating character.

- The themes were good, like what it means to be human.

- The areas focused on - like religion and war and capitalism and agriculture - were interesting.

- Liked how the characters were doing cool stuff in clever ways.

- The very pretty art style and period-appropriate music were enjoyable.

But though the show had so much going for it, so much potential and such good ingredients, it almost descended into a trainwreck.

- The timeskips were like WTF. Yes, a plan like Maoyu's takes years to come to fruition, but felt the timeskips were missing out too many important details. And the characters were not evolving, despite such large passages of time passing.

- Too many characters. For a short series there were far too many characters demanding screentime.

- What happened to Maoyu in the latter episodes was really stupid.

- All the main characters had pasts that were barely alluded to, except of course the two young maids. In the case of Hero it wasn't too important, although I would have liked to see more of his upbringing so that we could understand his idealistic naive nature better. Maoyu was a gross offender; here was this girl who perceived the world in completely different ways than everyone around her, and yet all we see of her younger self is one short scene? I wanted so badly to know how she came to the conclusions she did and what spurred her to come up with her plan. And of course there's her friendship with Knight, which just kind of happens out of thin air.

- Mage - a complex character - was incompetently handled, as was Hero's search for her.

- Maoyu and Hero lacked chemistry. Well, okay, they had some, but not enough. They make a cute couple but not a convincing one. What really irks me the most is that they claim they are so in love with one another despite so little screentime together, i.e. such a scant foundation for their love.

- Too many loose plot threads, including some cliffhanger bombshells. This story was obviously unfinished yet it didn't even wrap up the season tidily. I am annoyed it only got one cour, this should have been a twenty-four episode show.

- The story - and the storytelling - were all over the place. I hate to say it, because this is going to sound petty, but I can really tell that the story was written by a group of people. If I didn't already know it was from 2ch, if you told me now then I wouldn't be surprised. Too many ideas, too many characters (the one-eyed villain attacking the town was unnecessary), no consistency and overarching plan over what got covered and when. Reminds me of Toru Nanamine; if you've watched or read Bakuman you'll know what I'm referring to.

- I was disappointed that Maoyu tried to solve many problems by just porting over technology from the Demon World. Seemed like a cheating way to fix things rather than do it herself.

- Silly love rivalry. Didn't like it at all, it felt out-of-place, and it ate up valuable screentime.

I so wanted to love this show, and I think I still do. Which explains why I'm so livid at how badly it was handled. You can assemble all the finest ingredients you want, but if the chef is incompetent and burns everything then it ain't gonna taste nice, ya know? This had the potential to surpass Spice & Wolf, yet . . . ugh. Based on my enjoyment alone this would have gotten a rating of Very Good. But unfortunately, my ratings are based on actual quality, not superficial enjoyment.

Mardock Scramble: The First Compression (movie) Very good
Mardock Scramble: The Second Combustion (movie) Decent
Mardock Scramble: The Third Exhaust (movie) Good
Martian Successor Nadesico (TV) So-so
Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture - Prince of Darkness Awful
Masamune-kun's Revenge (TV) So-so
Master Keaton (TV) Excellent
Master Keaton (OAV) Excellent
Matoi the Sacred Slayer (TV) Very good
Matriculated (OAV) So-so
MegaMan NT Warrior (TV) So-so
Mekakucity Actors (TV) Not really good
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) Good
Memories (movie) Very good
The first one is the best as it is genuinely creepy, the second is too silly, and the third is just plain weird. As auteur works go, all three are pretty good I have to say. I normally hate such works but these surprised me.
Mermaid Forest (TV) Decent
So repetitive, and wow are the lead characters dumb. Still, in terms of offering character-driven stories this show is alright.
Metropolis (movie) Good
It lacks a real story, and little was done to flesh out the characters and expand of the themes, but it is an amazing visual treat for the eyes and ears. The execution is solid and played safe, which is an asset; it doesn't trip up like the more ambitious but flawed Paprika.
Midori Days (TV) Decent
Yeah yeah, so the joke is that a girl becomes the literal right hand of the boy whom she crushes on. It's a pretty silly show - okay, it's downright stupid - but it has heart. What I take issue with is the ending, which I thought negates all of Midori's development, and rushes over an extremely pivotal scene of them two of them confessing to one another. If the ending had been tidied up it would have earned a rating of Good, but alas, not to be.
Millennium Actress (movie) Good
Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club (TV) Decent
Mirai Nikki (OAV) So-so
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (TV) Very good
Miss Monochrome (TV) Decent
Gimmicky, but watchable. Some jokes and some episodes were far better than others, so consistency was a problem. Unlike most anime shorts I think the reduced runtime helped rather than hindered the series.
Mob Psycho 100 (TV) Very good
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (TV) Decent
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season (TV) Not really good
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 the Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer Not really good
Although there were some nice bits of this movie - namely sound and visuals - the rest of it was C-R-A-P.

First of all, the battles. Virtually the entire second half of the two hour-long movie was fighting, and it wore me out real fast. With half an hour to go I was tired, and the action only stepped up from there. It also stopped any sort of meaningful character moments. Action for action's sakes is nice in small doses, I will say. But as Mr. Plinkett pointed out in his reviews of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, without invoking an emotional response from the audience large action scenes are just empty and exhausting eye candy. That said, Setsuna really was quite useless in the battles here. I can sort of see why - it is a bad look in an anti-war movie to glorify machines of destruction. Oh, and the 00 Quan(t) was supposed to end war, so it's even more important not to glorify it. However, this movie is unashamedly about the fighting and selling new model kits, so there's a dichotomy that the franchise has grappled with since the time of its inception. Also, as a matter of principle, having the most powerful Gundam only entering the battlefield in the final fifteen minutes of the movie is a bit cheap. We waited all that time, and it hardly did anything.

There were too many characters, many of whom were brought back for no real reason other than to appease fans of the series. Even the more important characters had little time to do anything much. Marina was as useless as ever. Tieria didn't do much except for a brief piloting stint and wearing a suit so skintight around the butt that Ned Flanders would have been proud. The whole Feldt pining over Setsuna thing was not only extremely boring but it did no favours to her character; she literally did nothing else the entire movie. And what happened to her thing with Lockon? Kathy was supposed to be a tactical genius but she played no part in setting up the battle plan. Her only role was ordering the firing of the massive supercannon that has been around for as long as Veda but which we never even heard of until now. Louise and Saji were as useless as ever. Setsuna went to Earth for the sole reason of saving their sorry arses; why would he bother? Speaking of Setsuna, he was about as interesting as Rei Ayanami - i.e. not at all - but at least he didn't spout meaningless pop-psychology at us.

The story was ridiculous, just like it was in Season 2. People will not stop fighting just because they understand one another. Ever heard of psychopaths? Sociopaths? No? People will hurt one another even if they know what they are doing is wrong or they understand how their victim feels. It happens a lot in domestic violence situations, a cycle of violence that is very unfortunate but isn't going to be solved overnight. Magical pixie dust is not going to address the underlying problems, and the underlying human behaviour, that cause violence in the first place. It certainly will not help the aliens find a new home, although they seems quite content to abandon their search and just form a giant yellow flower. Speaking about their new home, they seem plenty capable to me of just making a new one from scratch, given their massive level of technology. Lastly, and it has to be said, the ending sucks. Setsuna ex machina? I was savvy enough to stick around after the credits, and it did try to tie up loose ends. However it begs two questions. If a quarter of Earth's sentient population are now innovators, A: how was the inevitable conflict between humans and innovators resolved or managed, and B: how did a quarter of people become innovators in the first place? What is driving the innovation? Maybe I missed the memo, but I really don't know.

Basically, this movie wasn't bad. But I cannot really give it a positive grade either. I don't regret watching it, but I could have watched four or five episodes of much better Anime instead of this. Well, at least I can tick it off now.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (OAV) Good
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed (TV) Very good
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny (TV) Awful
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed MSV Astray (OAV Promo) Decent
Mobile Suit Gundam UC (OAV) Bad
"Hey, remember those ridiculous super saiyan gundams? You know, the ones from earlier UC installments such as Zeta and CCA?"

"I sure do! Stupidest shit ever. What kind of real robot machine is powered by the souls of your fallen comrades anyway? Tomino should hang his head in shame for that."

"Yeah, well, he isn't the only one. There's this recent seven-part OVA series called Gundam Unicorn, based on a light novel series written by some dude named Harutoshi Fukui."

"I see. I take it that it isn't very good?"

"Well, in order to make it bigger and better than everything else, its gundams literally transform."

"Um, so? A lot of mobile suits can transform, especially in the UC universe."

"Huh? Oh, I don't mean transform into mobile armours, heck no. I mean these ones can actually transform into super saiyans, just minus the saiyan part. Emotional activation, glowing auras, telekinesis, invulnerability, super beams, powered by the spirit of your friends . . . think of the end of CCA but like that all of the time instead of just one scene."

"Wow. That does sound bad! I'll stay away from it."

"Plus the main gundam has a second and more powerful transformation, just like super saiyan 2."

"What?! That's appalling! Kill it with fire!!"

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (TV) Weak
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz (OAV) Not really good
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (movie) Weak
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (OAV) Weak
This is supposed to be one of the best entries in the Gundam franchise? Seriously? Er, no thanks, it isn't really.

It is claimed that it has "realism", but when I look at the badly conceived characters, the implausible plots, and the numerous incidences where the show made fun of physics and geography, I struggle to see where this "realism" is located.

UC fanboys can hate me all they like. But I stand by my rating. I don't just think, I KNOW it is what the show deserves.

Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (TV) Awful
Monogatari Series Second Season (TV) Excellent
Mononoke (TV) Excellent
Moonlight Mile (TV) Good
MoonPhase (TV) Good
Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit (TV) Excellent
Morita-san wa Mukuchi (OAV) Good
Pretty funny. The jokes work because it is short enough for them not to get stale. Not really much else to say, other than it was an pleasant watch.
Morita-san wa Mukuchi (TV) So-so
Episodes are too goddamn short for the type of comedy they wanted to do. The OVA worked because you got a lot of short jokes one straight after the other. In this series there is a "joke" that's the entire episode (all two-and-a-half minutes of it), and then you have to wait another week to get another "joke". Sometimes it was funny, most of the time it was yawn. Fireball and Fireball Charming both have shorter episodes and yet are undoubtedly funnier, because instead of trying to use situational comedy which takes time they went straight for the punchline.

I probably won't bother with the recently announced second series. On the one hand the show is harmless and doesn't demand much investment in time and bandwidth. On the other hand, this series was nowhere close to being consistently funny and I doubt that will change in the sequel.

Mōryō no Hako (TV) Very good
Yes, it is a smart series with lots of fantastic ideas. But half the show is just people talking (usually at a table) droning on with dry exposition. The second half of the show was a slog, even for me. In terms of storytelling quality it is very, very clunky.
Moshidora (TV) Excellent
At first I had a hard time deciding what to give this, as I couldn't make my mind up between Very Good and Excellent. In the end I chose Excellent for one simple reason; it impressed me. In other words, it wasn't just a well-done Sports show but a well-done show period, and accessible to people like myself who aren't big fans of Sports Anime. It strived to give an old formula a new twist (the whole management thing), and it made it work.

Moshidora is a very rare breed; a one cour Sports Anime. Usually they go on for two cour at the very least, and some shows have over a hundred episodes. Lots of episodes means slow pacing and plots that are repetitive as they are cliche. But, it allows the characters time to be fleshed out and mature, with clearly defined - if labouriously executed - arcs. The matches can be exciting and filled with tension as even the opposing teams are given the spotlight, turning them from nameless opponents into credible rivals. And of course, the more we see the characters strive for their goals, the bigger the payoff is at the end when they taste victory.

This series does it the other way around. Each one of its ten episodes is filled with meaningful developments, and there's always a sense of progress, but it tries to cram in too much into so little. Three seasons - the nine months from Autumn to Summer - go past over the course of the first six or seven episodes, and we hardly get to see anything. Very little training is actually shown, and with so little time events just happen on screen that should have been given a better buildup. Character conflicts are especially hard hit, as they just magically fix themselves with but a few words, whereas in other shows there would have been a whole episode exploring it in detail. I fear that in adopting such a quick pace, we were only shown the highlights and not the full picture, and the story, characters and drama all felt incomplete.

All that said, the characters were quite serviceable and the story was surprising well told despite the small episode count. The drama was a bit forced in episode nine but overall it was good, and the final episode was particularly stirring. The ending was spoiled each and every episode by the thirty-second narration that appeared before the OP, but it didn't detract one bit from the show's gripping climax. But most importantly, and most impressively, was the show's refreshing focus. Instead of wanting simply to "be the best", these characters actually approach sport from an intelligent and analytical perspective, with emphasis on innovation, identifying problem areas and improving outcomes (often in unusual but effective ways). And the coach's strategy was a bold and innovative move, not just on his part but also on the part of Natsumi Iwasaki (who wrote the original story). Whether or not it would work in real life is not all that important; what's important is that a story, which combined Sports with the somewhat Otaku-centric idea of a girl managing a boys' baseball team, actually had a brain. Wow.

I have to admit, the premise was silly, and still kind of is, but that's hardly new in Anime. What matters more is the execution, which although rushed is undeniably well done. By episode five I had gone from grudging respect to outright admiration. I didn't care about the adequate animation or vague backgrounds, or the far-fetched premise; it was a good show (with some nice music). And heck, at the end of the day the short episode count does mean that it isn't a big investment in terms of time. I'd rather watch this than Major.

Moyashimon (TV) Good
Moyashimon Returns (TV) Decent
A slightly disappointing season that was okay but did little to ingratiate itself with the audience,

This entire season dragged on with little direction or purpose, despite being focused on Hasegawa. She served as the weak-willed damsel in distress (what happened to the sharp-tongued top-dog from the first season?), and so much unfairly hinged on her arc. Unfortunately it was poorly-written and the France saga fizzled out, not that it had ever really had much impact in the first place. Earlier pre-France episodes were not hat great either. For instance, the mystery that Sawaki investigated with Oikawa was pure inconsequential filler which didn't go anywhere.

I was a bit confused at why the microbes were toned down from the first season. They mattered little to the overall plot and only seemed to be there to provide infodumps. But if they were to have a lesser role then the show should have expanded the characters more. However, as I mentioned above the focus was on Hasegawa, so much so that half the cast got left in Japan. Even the brand-new Yuuki doppelgänger Marie got more development in her four episodes of screentime than most of the characters in the Itsuki Seminar.

This season felt like pure fluff with a rather obnoxious lump of Hasegawa's development shoved in. It didn't feel like a proper sequel but more like a filler season before the actual "good stuff" in the possibly-never-to-come season 3.

Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai (movie) Good
Mushi-Shi (TV) Excellent
Mushishi: The Next Chapter (TV) Excellent
My Girlfriend is Shobitch (TV) Not really good
My Little Monster (TV) Very good
My Neighbor Totoro (movie) Decent
While it has the Ghibli visual impact and beautiful setting, the weak plot (the third act was obviously forced and didn't jive with the rest of the movie) and the subdued charm made for a pretty meh movie.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (TV) Good
We probably won't get a second season, which is a shame because the longer this show went on the better it got. The first half - while not exactly weak - was unimpressive and things didn't really gel. The aesops were too clumsy and just devolved into rather insipid moralising. However, once the show found its footing it put out a well-written and surprisingly enjoyable second half, and the social commentary became a lot sharper and insightful.

Hachiman was an interesting character. Intelligent, perceptive and cynical, he had a negative view of the world but was still essentially a good guy at heart. He was a breath of fresh air in the stale Harem genre and successfully differentiated himself from the usual weak-willed idiotic lead characters. And make no mistake, this is indeed a Harem show. It's just that this is a smart one that isn't afraid to take risks and doesn't need to rely on fanservice in order to be watchable.

Mysterious Girlfriend X (TV) Excellent
(The) Mystic Archives of Dantalian (TV) Decent
NANA (TV) Excellent
I won't write much on this. If you haven't watched it, watch it. It is a fantastic Anime.

The characters are like real people who live real lives, who hold real dreams and who make real mistakes. This is not a show for those viewers who want to see silly Anime hi-jinks, fanservice of the panty-shot or breast-in-face types, or who want action action action. It is a character study, and a bloody good one. Don't be put off by the Shoujo either; you will notice it but you simply won't care, it is so good. And the music; oh God is it good. Instant classic stuff. I could have done without the woman trying to hawk stuff at the end of each episode, but she can be skipped easily enough.

So why didn't I give it a Masterpiece? Two reasons. The first is perhaps unfair on my part, but it didn't finish. Well, it sort of did, kind of, but it is open to a sequel, and by that I mean it had better get a sequel cause I want more. That's more like a gripe though. The real reason that I didn't give this a Masterpiece is because of a relationship that wasn't properly conceived. Er, pun unintentional. Now, this would be nothing, if the entire second half of the show's plot (and 90% of its drama) didn't derive a huge part of their power from the believability of this one relationship. Because it wasn't set up properly - the two just suddenly decided they were in love, with no previous scenes to suggest that they felt anything more than a platonic affection for one another - everything that it influenced was cheapened. Not by all that much, because it was very well done, but the second-half always had that unrealistic pedigree hanging over it. If there was one relationship that the show needed to get right it was that one, which is a shame because it pretty much nailed all the rest. Er, pun once again unintentional.

But still, that's no excuse not to see the show. Male, female, young or old, if you are an Anime fan beyond one who just watches the children's fare then you owe it to yourself to at least give this a go.

Natsu no Arashi! (TV) Good
Natsuiro Kiseki (TV) Good
Natsume's Book of Friends (TV) Excellent
Natsume's Book of Friends (TV 2) Excellent
Natsume's Book of Friends (TV 3) Very good
Natsume's Book of Friends (TV 4) Excellent
Natsuyuki Rendezvous (TV) So-so
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Not really good
Nekomonogatari (Black) (TV) Very good
Gives us interesting insight to Hanekawa's mind, but I feel that this was ultimately a pleasant side-story rather than something of substance. Bring on Kizumonogatari, I say.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) Very good
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (movie) Weak
New Game! (TV) Good
New Game!! (TV 2) Very good
NieA_7 (TV) Not really good
This series has one of THE worst-sounding Anime openers, period. I can't excise it from my brain.

As for the rest of the show, it was bizarre and wacky, but in bad ways. I didn't enjoy the humour very much. The characters were not quite right; Niea herself was too Out There, and the poor-college-student-can-barely-eat routine is kind of cliche. There was no real plot to speak of. This show did have potential, and what world-building that went on hinted at an interesting situation.

But thirteen episodes was just far too little to do anything with, especially if so much material is going to spent on pointless (not to mention boring) slice-of-life episodes.

Night Raid 1931 (TV) Very good
Take an important time in history (although, is there any other?), give your protagonists superpowers, and heap a fair bit of cash on the project, and you've got a recipe for a pretty good show, right? Well, in the end yes, but it certainly took its time.

One of the problems this show had was the superpowers. First of all, they were generic. Secondly, by and large their limits and nuances were ill-defined, and no explanation was given as to how the cast came about them. Although care was taken not to overuse them, they still seemed too "broken". However, the powers also highlighted many situations where the team faced a problem that could have been easily resolved if someone had only bothered to remember that yes, they had a useful ability. And no, I'm not lambasting Kagura's stance here, but giving a more general critique of the writing.

The show was boring in the first half. I have the feeling that the writers didn't know quite what they wanted to do with the show. The characters were "cookie-cutters" in terms of personality, and pretty bland too. The story was very episodic, and there wasn't a sense of Cool Secret Agents that could keep a person hooked. The show wasn't bad, but one got the impression that huge amounts of potential was being wasted.

Now for the good bits. There were a few good twists, and characters actually started doubting themselves and their allegiances, resulting in some surprisingly good bouts of drama. The villain was better than most (and wasn't a total prick or lunatic either), and the plot picked up and got intriguing. Not only was there an excellent shell game concerning the issue of colonial independence, but the show offered a thought-provoking "what if" situation. What if certain parts of the Japanese military knew about the ending of World War 2? What would they do then to counter that future? That's a very interesting question, and the answer the show gave was a logical one. Also, the time period and setting began to show through more, with talks of revolution and the Chinese chafing at the overbearing Japanese rule. The ending wasn't too bad either; it did offer a sense of closure while still acknowledging that the characters' lives and the problems of the time did not stop there.

Finally, the production visuals. The music wasn't a standout but it was pretty good, and the animation was fluid enough. The character designs were very pleasing to the eye (I don't mean in a fan-service type way), and the characters themselves stayed on-model. The voice work was good (although perhaps a tad bland in the first half), except when characters tried to speak in a language other than Japanese. The staff should get props for trying to include English and Chinese, but like in Giant Killing, having Japanese Seiyuu speak languages they aren't fluent at just doesn't work. As for the backgrounds, they could be a little spartan at times, but were otherwise serviceable.

Overall this show had its faults and wasted a bit of its unique premise, and it was difficult to make the initial emotional connection to such bland characters. But thanks to a strong second half and good production visuals it falls solidly into Very Good territory. I might not have been impatiently looking forward to the new episode each week, but it was still well worth the watch.

Niji-Iro Hotaru ~Eien no Natsu Yasumi~ (movie) Decent
Ninja Scroll (movie) Decent
This is a very famous movie among Animephiles. Many fans have said that this was one of the - if not THE - reason they got into the fandom.

Which strikes me as being weird, because it isn't a spectacular movie. I'm guessing that to those people, this movie opened their eyes to how Anime can produce adults-only content rife with sex, violence, and everyone's favourite, sexual violence. How fans must have felt liberated, which is nice and all, but it does seem to have caused an undeserved amount of nostalgia. Gateway Anime can be quite mundane and mediocre, or even worse. It doesn't have to be great, only new. See, just because "mature" content is gratuitously shown does not mean the production itself will automatically possess quality in other areas.

This is a pretty generic movie as far as I am concerned. The plot is just an excuse for fights, the villain is uninteresting (bad for the sake of being bad), and the rest of the characters aren't all that great either. I never really cared for them, because no effort was made to make me care. The action - often the fall-to area in productions that are struggling - didn't really excite me, which is almost terminal. I didn't fall asleep during the movie, however I simply cannot remember large amounts of it. It was that unexciting.

This isn't a bad movie, and I do not hate it. But man, every time I hear or see some idiot run their mouth off about how "great" it is, well I get irritated. Not annoyed exactly, just irritated. I don't go around saying that Pokemon or Gundam Wing are great, even though they're two of the five key shows that made me an Anime fan.

If you want to watch Ninja Scroll, go watch a similar Anime that happens to be much much better. Go watch Basilisk instead.

Nisemonogatari (TV) Decent
No Game, No Life (TV) Masterpiece
Extremely funny, at least in my opinion. Humour is and will always be subjective, though that said the series displays great comedic timing which is a more objective trait. Anyway, don't just think the grade is based on humour alone; it's only a small part of it. What really sold me on the show was how intelligent it is. This is an incredibly smart show with genuinely smart lead characters, and the games themselves are amazing in how they are won. The themes are also excellent. It's not just the usual "humans are awesome rah rah" spiel that shows like TTGL hit us with, but rather, "Humans are weak, but that just means we've learned to survive better than anyone else in a world filled with real monsters and actual gods".
No. 6 (TV) Not really good
Nobunaga Concerto (TV) Decent
Nobunagun (TV) Good
Great fun, and I loved the art direction and humour, but the actual story was daft and the whole thing with the school friend superfluous. Lead character was good though.
Nodame Cantabile (TV) Excellent
Nodame Cantabile: Finale (TV) Excellent
Nodame Cantabile: Paris (TV) Excellent
Noein - to your other self (TV) Very good
Non Non Biyori (TV) Excellent
Non Non Biyori is a superb show, charming to an addictive degree. I always looked forward to it, and every week it delivered; there wasn't a bad episode in the bunch. I'm glad I watched the show weekly as opposed to a marathon or I might have died from cuteness overload. The laid-back atmosphere was very soothing, and the director was very adept at using pauses both for comedic and dramatic effect. I really don't have anything bad to say about it, except that I'm sad it had to end.
Noragami (TV) Decent
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (TV) So-so
This is way too watchable for its own good.

It almost never gets better than mediocre, and frequently gets worse. Two episodes of recap - including the freaking finale - is bad enough, but the characters are mostly boring, and the villains are a joke. The battle scenes are not worth boasting about; they're rather dire in fact. The pacing is often akin to that found in a long-running Shounen show, even though there were only twenty-six episodes to work with. General writing sucks.

So why was it watchable? You can thank Yuki-Onna for most of that. It was a travesty that such an adorable character was put into a show of this middling level. She alone boosted the grade up a level. And more generally, the actual show was simply better than the sum of its parts, in a phenomenon called gestalt. However, the parts were so weak that being better than them is hardly a cause for celebration.

A second season has been greenlighted at the time of writing, and I am seriously considering not bothering. But of course, it is hard to turn down the chance to watch more Yuki-Onna. Hmm, decisions decisions.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Demon Capital (TV) So-so
Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! (TV) Excellent
I really enjoyed this show. As a parody, it embraced the sort of stale elements you see in Magical Girlfriend shows and then gave them vicious but funny twists. The jokes were great, the references were numerous (I got a lot, but missed many more), and the characters were enjoyable to watch (Kuuko in particular). The story simultaneously lampooned and celebrated Otaku culture, and time and time again the motivations of the 'villains' turned out to be absolutely hilarious. This show isn't for everyone, but if you're tired of the same-old same-old you should give it at least two episodes.
Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! (TV 2) Good
Still loud and as brash as ever, but not as clever and nowhere as funny as the first season. This season's running joke about foreshadowing was pretty lame, a sign that the show had to turn to being self-referential in order to keep being funny. It was still a humourous watch, but it's clearly running out of fresh material. The jokes aren't the only things getting stale, the characters are also treading water, stuck in the same old ruts and not offering anything new. If a third season is ever made I'll be watching, but the show can't continue like this.
Occult Academy (TV) Not really good
Even from the promotional poster I had reservations about this series. The guy looked too whipped, the girl too bitchy, the setting (yet another magical academy) too uninspired. Is it any wonder that the show wasn't all that good?

Let's first talk about what was good. The character designs for the females cast - especially Maya and Mikaze - were amazing. Maya's clothing may be impractical but she herself is extremely well done, very girlish and sexy at the same time. As a guy I appreciate these sorts of things. The range of expressions on Maya's face is notable too for being amongst the best I've ever seen in Anime. When she is surprised she actually LOOKS surprised in the way that a real person would. Same goes for boredom, exasperation, horror, and furiously thinking. Watching her face was always a treat. And then there's the OP, which is really quite good. Lots of vivid imagery (including a lot from the Occult) combined with very vibrant colour palates makes for a viewing treat. Okay, that's the good stuff done. So what else is there to discuss? Oh yeah, the bad things. Specifically everything else. You know, unimportant things like the plot, the characters, the pacing, tone, random stuff like that.

Maya, for all of her visual appeal, was not a very likeable character. She was too much Tsun and not enough Dere. or not enough "normal", should I say. Her physical violence towards Fumiaki was overbearing and made her seem like a bitch. Hey, I was spot on with my assessment of her. Cool. Also, her continued insistence during the first half of the show that the occult was not real (despite her knowing more about it than virtually anyone else) was not endearing, and just made her seem contrary. Fumiaki was a loser, at least until the end. He had a character arc, and was a better and more confident person at the finale, but that does little to excuse the earlier eleven earlier episodes (he didn't appear in episode one except for but a brief moment). His life was crappy up till then, true, but he was annoying as hell and couldn't even stand up for himself. A genuinely troubled teenager like Shinji Ikari I can forgive, but not a guy in his twenties who was a bumbling idiot most of the time. The question of how he managed to get the gig of saving the world is utterly baffling, such was his incompetence. Course, that's more a problem with the story, but it reflects badly on his character. As for the other characters were either little-used (Smile and JK), overused (Maya's friends), or, in the case of Mikaze, completely ruined.

The story, pacing and tone all sucked. For a show called Occult Academy, set in an academy nicknamed Occult Academy, I could have done with more of the occult. You know, cause it's in the goddamn NAME. Instead we got the most horrible mashup between War of the World-style tripod aliens, the occult, demons, and in the end, witches wearing either stripperiffic costume or a Bo-Peep-inspired outfit. The show couldn't decide on one of these things, or even two, so it threw everything in the pot and turned the oven onto Fail. Why did it include Science-Fiction elements in a show about the occult, and then throw in Magical Girl transformation sequences? Why? The show also could not decide on the tone it wanted, and that was an even bigger problem. Many Anime out there start off light and fluffy and then get darker as time goes on, which is fine. This one oscillated between goofy antics and slapstick scenes, and a dark storyline about preventing the apocalypse. The imminent apocalypse no less, and yet time is spent on annoying filler in a series only 1-cour long.

Which nicely segues into the issue of the pacing. It was gosh-darn awful. And I'm not just talking about the filler. In episode eleven two massive (and related) plot twists get revealed (they're also incredibly daft, however that's not the point I'm making here), but there was no foreshadowing. No build up. They just happened. Sometimes with good writing you can pull it off, but this show didn't have good writing from the start. If the pacing had been better there could have been some effort made to prepare the audience, so that it doesn't look like it just got pulled out of the writers' collective arses, but the pacing wasn't good at all. All that filler did help - marginally - with establishing and developing the characters, but it forced the real plot developments into the last three episodes.

The show does have its good moments, and as bad and as painful as episode twelve was, the finale was quite cool. That is, if you look past the numerous plot holes. Sigh. Maya's character design or not, there's no way I am prepared to give it anything more than a Not Really Good.

Okamikakushi - Masque of the Wolf (TV) Decent
From about the halfway point onwards, I wondered what sort of grade I might give this show. It could have been a Not Really Good, or it could have been a Very Good.

In the end I decided on what this show was most of the time, and that was a plain and uneventful Decent. It had some nice ideas, although the setting and themes were largely ripped off from Higurashi, as was part of the plot. It also had music that get in the way but which didn't do too much either, and character designs that were as serviceable as they were generic. The characters generally were sympathetic, and none annoyed me, although they rarely acted intelligently and realistically. We learnt very little about them, and only Nemuru got any sort of development and growth. The motifs too tended to hit as much as they missed.

See what I was doing there? I have to qualify EVERYTHING. That is this series in a nutshell. So why did I give it a grade of Decent rather than something lower? Well, three reasons, although the first two are somewhat connected.

The first is that the show had a pretty good plot, which was interesting and not quite what I thought it was. It was also complete, although (another qualification) additional background information would have been VERY handy. So, I at least liked it, mostly.

The second was that the series knew how to pace itself. Relatively-speaking, a lot of information was given to us, but it never felt like too much. The show drip-fed us information, yet the drops were certainly interesting, and helped keep me watching. That said, I ONCE AGAIN have to qualify it by saying that the last episode was bizarre, an omake episode in the regular season.

The third, and the show's best point, was the "villain". He had a good reason to do what he did, he was smart, he was dedicated, and he had an excellent plan. If he hadn't been so cocky he would have "won" (he couldn't really have won anyway, but we're getting into spoilers). Yet his defeat was a good one, full of pain and pathos.

All in all, this show was alright, and do not regret the time I spent on it. But you'll need to tolerate the bad along with the good.

One Off (OAV) Very good
One Outs (TV) Excellent
You know, it is so easy to find fault with this show. There are plenty of them, after all. Everybody who isn't Tokuchi (the main character) is an idiot. The villain is a cackling slimy one-dimensional money-grubber. There's no character development to be found here. Everybody stands around talking without the umpires getting annoyed. It doesn't even tell a complete story; if you want to find out what happens next you'll have to read the Manga.

And yet, though in a lesser series those faults would be damaging, in this one they are really inconsequential nitpicks. One Outs is the most entertaining Sports show I've ever watched bar none, and also the most cerebral Sports show I've ever watched bar none. It completely ignores the standard formula of such shows which espouses the philosophy of believing in yourself and in your team-mates, and winning through perseverance, hard work and natural talent. No, this series doesn't do any of that. In fact, it flips such thinking the bird and shows just how meaningless such a philosophy ultimately is. What wins games is not touchy-feely team spirit backed by years of training, but outsmarting opponent to exploit their weaknesses and turn their much-vaunted strengths into liabilities. One episode (episode spoiler[eight]) has the scenario where it is explicitly stated as fact that the team who breaks the most rules will win (and that of course applies to the 'good guys' as well); this is not your typical inspirational baseball show.

In short, One Outs is a treasure, a Thriller in the guise of a Sports show. I haven't had this much fun and excitement watching any series of any genre for almost two years (since PMMM to be specific; I watched One Outs in January 2013). I highly recommend it, especially for someone who wants a different sort of Sports show, or who just wants a great show period.

One Week Friends (TV) Very good
Oneechan ga Kita (TV) Decent
Not bad for what it was. Watchable.
Only Yesterday (movie) Masterpiece
Oreshura (TV) Weak
When the story focused on two emotionally scarred teenagers bonding and learning to trust people again, it was actually quite good. Unfortunately, that theme played second-fiddle to all of the RomCom crap. A Harem scenario just didn't jive with what the show was purportedly trying to do and the message it wanted to get across. And the fact that the Harem elements were so badly executed sunk the show even more. It was really sad seeing Oreshura flush all of its potential down the plughole in its sad and plain unnecessary attempt to appeal to Otaku through tired lowest-common-denominator methods.
Orphen (TV) Good
Orphen: The Revenge (TV) Weak
Otogi Zoshi (TV) Good
Outbreak Company (TV) Very good
Outlaw Star (TV) Good
Ozma (TV) Weak
I'm a Science Fiction fan, but that doesn't mean I will enjoy crap so long as it is Sci-Fi. Poor writing pervades every genre, and Sci-Fi is no exception. Ozma (or Ozuma, depending on the source) is a good example of this. Its writing is decidedly lacking in quality at the best of times, so the fact that I don't like it should not come as any surprise.

Scientific-sounding terminology is thrown around at the drop of a hat without thought to making it sound plausible; how the heck is a "Quantum Transition Field" supposed to allow vessels to liquefy sand till it becomes like water? That's not remotely close to what the word "quantum" would imply. The protagonists' vessel is only around twenty (maybe twenty-five) metres long yet is shown to be quite sizeable on the inside, moreso than a modern ballistic submarine which is seven cubed (343) times larger. The Monokeros weapon does not act as initially described, and it is very far-fetched how a guy and his brother could build out of junk something that could defeat something as large and as long-lived (not to mention as technologically advanced) as an Ozma. Then there's the mind-implanting technique which was never explained. I thought it would be a simple brain transplant but oh no, it was just like copying a file apparently. I had a gut feeling that Dick's (yes, his name is Dick) personality would resurface, and so it did. Gack. Finally, what is the relationship between the Ozma and Maya? Were there more than one Ozma? Did the people who created the Ideal Children also build the Ozma and the Zones? None of this was ever explained, or even hinted at, even though they are big and important questions.

Characters are also badly written. Whatever time Sam isn't being loud-mouthed, impulsive and useless, he is gaping into space with a confused and/or surprised expression on his face. He certainly doesn't come across as any sort of hero or everyday guy, just a little punk out of his depth whom I want to punch every time he opens his face-hole. Maya spends the majority of the show as an almost-emotionless waif, an object that drives the plot rather than a character in her own right. Then she's this mysterious goddess who can communicate with the Ozma with no explanation why. Mimei is the typical b*tchy love-interest. The female captain is made out to be this cool and tough chick only for her to become a mess once she finds out the face behind Gido's mask (as if his hair didn't make it completely obvious). Seriously, she just mopes for the last quarter of the show. We also never find out anything about the Natura, which I thought was important. Never even saw a Natura town or community, just a bunch of louts on the ship.

Add to that an eco-fascist themes that came out in the last episode, and what you get is a steaming pile on fail, served fresh in six well-animated, well-scored but incompetently-produced episodes. At least it was short, that's about the only consolation I can think of.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (TV) Decent
I actually kind of liked this, which actually kind of shocked me.

It isn't nearly as funny as Seitokai Yakuindomo, another recent comedy which used sex jokes, despite being way more out there in terms of pushing the envelope. A lot of the content just came across as gratuitous, especially the cursing; it's amazing that I think the humour hit (slightly) more often than it missed. The funniest scene was a suicide-bomber sexbot; freaking hilarious in context. The story - as in, an overarching plot - only showed up in the last two episodes, and even then it didn't really make sense and wasn't all that interesting. We did however get a hint of something far more substantial; the final episode had one hell of a cliffhanger, a shocking one which probably exceeds the infamous one found at the end of Code Geass' first season. But with no lead-up to it - it just happens - fans were understandably outraged. The art style was quite unusual, and got even weirder in certain episodes (like the B part of episode five). The less one dwells on the various puerile types of ghosts and magical powers the better. Ugh. As for the action, the battle in episode six probably has one of the all-time best Anime fight scenes. It was, quite simply, epic (I liked the Equilibrium homage), and superbly animated. Best ten minutes of the entire show, period. Ten of the best minutes you'll see in Anime, period. Completely over the top, but it worked.

The first episode with its poop monster was certainly a good litmus test. If you can survive that, then the semen ghosts and all the rest will be tolerable. An absolute guilty pleasure, with more of an emphasis on the guilty part. Still, I can't wait for season two.

Paprika (movie) Good
Not too impressed with this, but then Kon and I have always had a love-hate thing going on. He has such great ideas, and yet the execution is almost always (four out of the five works he's done) severely lacking.
Paranoia Agent (TV) Decent
Patlabor 2: The Movie Very good
The plot was better and more interesting than with the first movie, but the characters weren't used all that well.
Patlabor WXIII (movie 3) Good
Patlabor: The Movie Very good
The mechanics of the plot were convoluted, but did have some interesting elements. The movie seemed like a good send-up for the characters.
Pattenrai!! - Minami no Shima no Mizu Monogatari (movie) Decent
It was alright as a family film, but not so good as a historical piece on "how they made it". Additionally, the titular character was almost completely undeveloped, and we never got to see what sparked his desire to embark on such an ambitious and challenging project. He just wanted to do it and knew that the dam would be beneficial to the villagers, and that is pretty much all we learn. When such a plot-important character is an enigma to the audience then the whole movie begins to sag.
Peacemaker (TV) Weak
Penguindrum (TV) So-so
Perfect Blue (movie) So-so
Persona 4: The Animation (TV) Decent
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ (TV) Decent
Pikachu and Pichu (movie) So-so
Pikachu's Rescue Adventure (movie) So-so
Pikachu's Summer Vacation (movie) So-so
Ping Pong (TV) Very good
Great finish, but unsatisfactory in a big way. But first, the good. China got a good end, and I really like the transformations by Smile and Dragon. Even Akuma got a happy ending. There was some fantastic character development in these eleven episodes.

Now for the bad. I noticed the comments that said it was inevitable that Smile would give up so Peco could continue his career, but that was a red herring. The real lead was Smile's late comment that a hero has no weakness. I don't agree with that, and think it cheapened the ending. It's a little rich to have Peco be able to continue on with ping pong and be unaffected by his injury, especially after all the hype around it. See, like the hero he believes himself to be, Peco thinks nothing of sacrificing his knee to get Smile to smile again. Yet long-term he suffers no ill effects from it. He even goes on to becoming Japan's leading ace. I would have preferred there to be more pathos and consequences, like if Peco sacrificed his career for the sake of his friendship. What we got was having your cake and eating it too. I realise this show wasn't intended as a tragedy, but nevertheless it feels quite hollow, and very, very safe.

But as part of my compliment sandwich, now for some more praise. This show is known for being an unusual take on sports anime, but while that's kinda true it actually has little to do with the visuals (which is what everyone focuses on). Instead, the story is about how sport can change people. It can take hold of us and rule our lives, bearing down with incredible pressure and expectation and trapping its victims in a vicious cycle of pain and wasted effort. But sport can also free people, offering fun and fulfilment, allowing athletes to find themselves and also express themselves in ways most people cannot. Sport can damn you, but it can also save you. It's all up to what you are seeking to get out of it, and what you let it take from you.

Apart from that theme (and of course the visual style), the show was fairly by-the-book in terms of the elements it had. The basic story is pretty standard for a sports shounen. It's the intelligence and maturity way the story was told that's impressive. I just wish the ending wasn't a cop-out.

(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie) Very good
Place to Place (TV) Excellent
I have finally found a Moe show that I actually like. It's cute, endearing, offbeat and quirky, it doesn't take itself too serious, and the characters are all lovable. It is also very, very funny. It might not have much widespread appeal and the central romance doesn't get resolved. However, despite those things the show is still great, and I heartily recommend people give it a go. Don't forget to watch after the credits of many of the episodes for the cute kindergarten skits.
planetarian (ONA) Good
Planetes (TV) Excellent
Planzet (movie) So-so
Poco's Udon World (TV) Very good
Pokemon 2000 - The Movie Good
Pokemon 3 - The Movie Not really good
Pokemon 4Ever (movie) Weak
Pokemon Heroes - Latias & Latios (movie) Decent
Pokemon: Mewtwo Returns (special) So-so
Pokemon: The First Movie Decent
Polar Bear's Café (TV) Very good
Highly recommended. Some episodes were not so strong, but overall this was a remarkably consistent series with great characters who played well off one another. The voice acting was superb, possibly the best aspect of the show. There are some big-name Seiyuu in the cast and they all perform wonderfully. The veteran Takahiro Sakurai was the standout as the trollish, playful Polar Bear, and the rest of the cast rallied behind him to give one of the best ensemble performances in years.

However, the show's true genius was that most of the episodes and most of the jokes would have worked even if all the characters were human. In other words, the show did not need to rely on animal humour to spice things up, but was genuinely funny in its own right. The fact that the characters were animals was in many ways just a bonus. That doesn't mean the animal-specific humour was unnecessary, not at all. Often it was the highlight of an episode, or comprised a big part of some of the jokes. All I'm saying is that if you are afraid the humour is too childish or inaccessible then you have nothing to worry about.

Great for adults and small children alike, this is a Comedy series that is fit for the whole family. I do hope it gets dubbed one day; it more than deserves it.

Porco Rosso (movie) Very good
(The) Princess and the Pilot (movie) Very good
Princess Mononoke (movie) Very good
Princess Principal (TV) Very good
Princess Tutu (TV) Excellent
Problem children are coming from another world, aren't they? (TV) Not really good
It's fun, it's interesting, but it's also a right royal mess.

Logic? What's that? The series is all over the place. There's too little world-building for starters. The story can't figure out what it wants to do, throws in as many different ideas as it feels like with no regard for making them mesh together properly (or at all), and actively undermines its own power levelling system and battle contract system. I've seen more sensible battle strategies in the Duellist Kingdom arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Problem Children should have been two cours long at least, not ten episodes, and really, really suffered as a result. Of course it was silly anyway, but some more time would have helped, at least to paper over some of the more glaring plot holes.

The characters are its strong point, but even they are not used too well. Izayoi steals the show as the cool over-powered anti-hero, but he has it too easy and the tension is low as a result. Jin is at the start of his character arc and will one day be a good leader . . . but right now he's overshadowed by the other characters. Asuka is more interesting with her struggle over her powers, but it tries to make her into an action girl when she isn't suited for it. Kasukabe on the other hand is a great action girl . . . when the show allows her to be. She's pretty much sidelined for the final battle for no discernible reason. Black Rabbit's personality is inconsistent, and at any rate she's mostly used as fanservice. Then there are the Lolis, each one is more powerful than the last. I am still wondering what Leticia, a supposedly super-powerful vampire, actually DID in the show's second half.

For all its faults, at least it was entertaining, and the ED was awesome (I must have watched it about thirty times). But would I watch the actual series again? No. Would I watch a second season, which - thanks to a quadrupling of Light Novel sales since the Anime came out - is looking rather likely? No. Not if I all I could expect was more of the same. But it was enjoyable. Especially that ED.

Program (OAV) Not really good
Psychic Detective Yakumo (TV) Very good
Whenever someone says "It gets better" about a show that is initially kind of boring I am immediately doubtful. I just am. But you know, sometimes, once in a metaphorical blue moon, that person is correct. So though I know that many of you will not believe me, I can assure you that this series turns out to be a doozy.

The initially bland characters are developed, the plot turns out to be quite fascinating and well-constructed once the one-shot arcs are out of the way (last one is episode six), there is actual detective work in this and it is quite good, the backstory is actually quite engrossing and holds some great twists, and the villain is deliciously evil. Whoa, I mean, DAMN. It got to be a very enjoyable ride. Final episode was really good, and I got a really nice and uplifting feeling from it, so much so that in a moment of madness I almost gave this show an Excellent grade. It isn't good enough to deserve that, mostly because the first half is pretty boring and not all that well written, but it is a solid show nevertheless. My biggest gripe - besides it taking so long to really find its feet - is that Nao was supposed to be deaf and yet on numerous occasions responded to people talking to her when she wasn't looking at them.

So despite its lacklustre start, despite the poor ratings it got in the preview guide, it turned out to be one of the better shows of 2010. If you have the time and patience, please give this one a go.

Psychic School Wars (movie) So-so
Psycho Diver: Soul Siren (OAV) Weak
This Anime is probably unique amongst all the ones I have watched. I cannot remember it. At all. I do remember getting it out from the video shop several years ago, but that's it. So where does the grade come from? I gave it a score out of ten back then, and when I began filling in my Anime List a couple of years ago I converted it over. I have no idea if it is a fair grade or not, but I do know two things; that it almost certainly wasn't any good, and that I have no intention of watching it again just to reassess it.
Psycho-Pass (TV) Very good
Psycho-Pass 2 (TV) Awful
It's got some good ideas and Akane is awesome, so it isn't a total wash. But otherwise this clusterf*ck of a sequel is so goddamn atrocious I would rather pretend that it doesn't exist.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV) Masterpiece
"Exquisite beyond words".

Yeah, that sums up this show better than a mere mortal like myself could ever hope to accomplish. I would still rank RahXephon higher, but there's not much in it.

See, this is what Anime can do when it shoots for the moon and hits the stars. Watch it. And weep - with tears of joy and exultation.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1: Beginnings Masterpiece
Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 2: Eternal Masterpiece
Pumpkin Scissors (TV) So-so
Pupipō! (TV) Very good
One of the best short anime I've seen. Very touching finale, if a little rushed.
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (TV) Decent
I can see why many people like this show. It has impressive spectacle, solid animation, a great musical score, and sympathetic protagonists. But that's basically all it has. And they're enough to carry the show until the final act, whereupon the massive and fundamental issues with the plot can no longer be ignored. Even worse, the writing completely falls apart in the end, to the point where the show itself is barely hanging in there. This anime could have been vastly improved had the story gone through a proper draft phase.
RahXephon (TV) Masterpiece
RahXephon (OAV) Very good
RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio (movie) So-so
Rainbow - Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin (TV) Excellent
As dark as it is, as painful as it is to watch the characters go through such incredible trials, this show is through and through an uplifting story about the power of friendship and how it can help those in need to overcome life's trials.

I found it impossible to marathon due to its heavy subject matter, which involves stuff such as pedophilia, indentured servants (i.e. sex slaves), authority figures abusing their powers in horrific ways, Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors), racism, sexism, rape, murder, and some incredibly graphic displays of injuries and violence. But if you can survive the horrors depicted in this series - made so much more powerful than the usual supernatural fare because of the knowledge that things like this actually happened - then you will be rewarded with one of the best series in years.

Re-Birthday (movie) Very good
This is an unusual movie. Made in 1999, it looks, sounds and feels like it stepped out from the eighties. The animation is poor and very limited, the soundtrack is loud and obvious, the voice acting is clearly amateurish (they might have even used real children to play certain roles). The budget on this was definitely pretty poor.

But even stranger is the tone. Clearly a children's movie, it is also jarringly dark and serious. I mean, just look at some of the themes. Chronic and endemic bullying, the cycle of being hurt and then hurting others, parental neglect, child abuse, depression, suicide, death. Holy moly. However, the tone is ultimately very uplifting, very positive. Each negative trait is addressed, and not so much fixed as healed.

There were several key messages. The first was that people can be incredibly cruel yet also have the capability to be incredibly kind as well. Secondly, that people can change themselves if they're willing to and are given support; quite a number of characters undergo strong redemptions. Thirdly, that happiness is not found in getting good grades or meeting expectations set by society and family, but rather through a person's own self-worth and in their friends. Given that this is a Japanese movie, and one that didn't have superpowers and Shounen trappings, I was astonished by this stance.

I must make a note of the realistic way that the physically and/or mentally disabled children were portrayed. They weren't just suffering from a vague 'sickness' or 'illness'; all of them had afflictions that were almost certainly based on real-life syndromes and conditions. The movie did not take pity on these children, but nor did it gloss over the reality of their situation. It also didn't treat mental illness as somehow cute or Moe. No, this was a very respectful portrayal.

The writing was loose and very rough, and the pace was too fast because of the short runtime; the movie needed to be ten or twenty minutes longer. The technical merits were simply lame. Yet this was a powerful and moving story with a strong voice. Had it had more time to flesh out the themes it could have been - in fact, would have been - truly wonderful. But even so, it's still an impressive screenplay and I do recommend it.

Read or Die (OAV) Not really good
It was fun and the action was good, but boy was it stupid.
Red Data Girl (TV) So-so
P.A. Works once again turn in a very pretty but poorly-written show. It seems to be their shtick, but it isn't very funny. I am a bit disappointed since Tari Tari was very enjoyable and gave me hope they were getting better, but they've regressed back to their old ways.

There was a decent story to be told here, but the writing effed it up big time. Most of the season was mired in crap or inconsequentialities, and nothing made sense because no effort was put in by the scriptwriter to do so. I'm left with no answers, only questions. Why is all of this happening? Why do the elections and rankings matter? What's the academy actually for? How exactly is Izumiko special? How does the U.N. fit into this? Why is the ruling magical system of power of the world situated in Japan? Where did the prophecy come from? Who made it?

Maybe if the characters had been a bit stronger then the show might have overcome the plot deficiencies. As it was every character was mishandled. We got an annoying lead female so limp and ineffectual she was unable to carry her own show (as an aside, I like Saori Hayami more when she actually uses a more natural voice, not the strained and affected voice she uses here); a lead male who made scowling and chiding into art forms but who never realised his potential, though he was kind of cool at times; a set of triplets who were creepily in love with one another, made even more bizarre by the fact one of them is dead; a villain whose plan was nothing more than simple world domination with no further goal or motivation; and a whole host of useless supporting characters.

I don't know how closely the Anime followed the novels. But the way I see it, there are two main possibilities. The first is that the Anime adapted the novels faithfully, in which case the source material is at fault. If true, the Anime staff should have made changes to improve on the novels. Adaptations are allowed to do that, you know; they don't have to be word-for word, idea-for-idea carbon-copies of the source material. Or secondly, the Anime tried to cram too much source material into this one-cour season. If that was the case then they should have been a lot more intelligent about what to adapt and what to leave out. Whatever happened it is clear that the Anime staff failed in their duty, because once you decide to adapt something you have a responsibility to make it work. If you can't adapt it properly then don't even try. Of course, if P.A. Works has no creative pride and then I can see why they wouldn't care if they produced flawed shows.

Anyway, this show wasn't terrible, but the best I can say about it was that it's a nicely-animated confusing mess with a crappy plot and unlikeable characters. Hardly two thumbs up.

Red Garden (TV) So-so
Redline (movie) So-so
(The) Reflection (TV) Weak
Requiem from the Darkness (TV) Weak
Restaurant to Another World (TV) Good
Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie Not really good
Rideback (TV) Not really good
Robotics;Notes (TV) Weak
Man this was a stupid, plot-hole-ridden show. The characters were good, but the plot was a disaster. Watchable, but don't try and make sense of anything because it is a futile effort.
Rocket Girls (TV) So-so
As flawed as the show is, it's just impossible to hate. The characters are the real strength here, and hold it up where it otherwise would have failed.
Romeo × Juliet (TV) Very good
(The) Rose of Versailles (TV) Very good
Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise (movie) Decent
(The) Royal Tutor (TV) Decent
Rumbling Hearts (TV) Very good
Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection (OAV) Weak
Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (OAV) Very good
S-CRY-ed (TV) Good
Sacred Seven (TV) Decent
Saga of Tanya the Evil (TV) Excellent
Saki Episode of Side A (TV) Bad
Sakura Trick (TV) Very good
Samurai 7 (TV) Very good
Samurai Champloo (TV) Excellent
Samurai Gun (TV) Awful
Sankarea: Undying Love (TV) Good
This show was so good in the first half, then it went downhill and culminated in one of the worst endings I've seen in ages. After witnessing the final scene, all I could think about was, "What the hell just happened? Is that it?"

Ugh. Talk about disappointment city. Talk about giving the viewers a big F U right at the end.

[email protected] (TV) Not really good
How can so much effort be put into something so stupid? Oh, that's right, there was no effort put into this show. Hah; see what I did there? Akiyuki Shinbou was pretty much phoning this one in.

Anyway, chalk this series down as yet another example of why in a artistic work the script matters more than the direction. Yeah, I know, I just said that the direction was lacklustre, but the show's real problem was that it's poorly-written. What we got was a nonsensical plot-hole-ridden devil-may-care mess. I'm hesitant to lay all the blame on Katsuhiko Takayama - the screenwriter - as he may have been dealing with crappy source material. He's done some good work in the past, and I've liked many of the shows he worked on. But ultimately it's his responsibility to turn out a good script no matter what the quality of the source material and he clearly didn't in this instance. What happened to the kind of effort he put into Ga-Rei-Zero, where he actually made valuable improvements on the weak source material? Maybe along with Shinbou he was phoning his work on Sasami-san as well.

I realise that I haven't talked about the actual show itself. But what's there to say? It is asinine in its fetishistic fanservice of Sasami and how the brother acts towards her; he has to be one of the most annoying characters ever. The plot makes little sense unless you are very familiar with some of the finer aspects of Japanese mythology (I had to take a crash course in it myself), and even then is just plain weird and often baffling. Minor characters are sloppily handled, and it was even hard to care about many of the major ones. There were some nuggets in here worth watching - the arc with the mother was pretty good for example, as was Sasami's growth - but most of the time the show was written and executed so very poorly.

I don't mind watching weird shows as long as they're good as well. But this wasn't good, it was just weird.

Say "I love you." (TV) Good
Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei (TV) Excellent
Scorching Ping Pong Girls (TV) Very good
Scrapped Princess (TV) Very good
Second Renaissance (OAV) Decent
(The) Secret World of Arrietty (movie) Good
Seiren (TV) Decent
Seitokai Yakuindomo (TV) Very good
Yes, I know I know, but no matter how dirty it is, something this consistently funny deserves at least a Very Good.

Many parody shows focus on stringing together scenes from individual works, whereas this one has in its sights the entire high-school Comedy-Romance genre, Ecchi or not. From the lyrics and visuals of the catchy ED to the hilarious "stamped" messages that come up, the more you know about Anime and its various cliches the funnier it is. It loves to break the fourth wall and poke fun at not only other shows but itself as well. And then it has a few passes at the actual Anime industry, like when it claimed that a certain censored scene would not be uncensored for the DVD release.

Watching Seitokai Yakuindomo was so refreshing. As has been said many times before by other people, the style is very reminiscent of the 4-koma comic strips in Japan. A short and usually innocuous setup, a crazy and/or dirty twist, and the reaction from the "straight man" (which in this case was usually Tsuda). With such short jokes, any that didn't work - and they were rare - were quickly removed from the screen and replaced with something else. That said, the show still managed to have plots (of sorts). It didn't feel vapid or unsubstantial just because of the setup; indeed, having so many varied and interesting scenes did provide the audience with a great insight into the mind of each of the characters. There wasn't any development per se, but this is a pure comedy show after all. Any time the show looked like it was getting too serious the scene was immediately stamped on, usually by gently laughing at a particular cliche or trope (a heartfelt confession, walking under the same umbrella, you name it). I also loved how although there were hints of romance in the latter stages, it deliberately never went anywhere. It is difficult to poke fun at cliches if you are using them in a serious way.

One thing that cannot go unmentioned was how risqué and just plain dirty this show was. Masturbation jokes (both male and female) were a dime a dozen, and there were frequent mentions of S&M and oral sex. But hey, as long as you are in your mid-teens or older, there is nothing here that should genuinely offend. I was a little shocked at the "maturity" of the material that made it to air, but I didn't mind it. And the dirty jokes were often so funny (or at least outrageous) I couldn't help but laugh anyway.

This show isn't for everyone, that much is obvious. However, if you are fed up with the same old cliched shows appearing season after season, then this is very much worth a look. Which is hilarious in a way, because its description (boy goes to recent all-girls school and falls in with the all-female student council) is so cliched in itself. But trust me, this show is so much more than that.

Seitokai Yakuindomo (OAV) Good
Bring on season 2. I just hope it is funnier than the OVAs. I don't know if it is just me getting used to the dirty humour, but these OVAs don't feel as funny as the series did. I suspect a lot of it is due to the repetitveness; after all, there are only so many masturbation jokes that can be made. If you've seen two dozen you've kind of seen them all. Or rather, seen so many that they don't have the same punch as they used to. By now the Anime is well-worn and very predictable, so I would like to see season 2 mix things up a bit.
Seitokai Yakuindomo* (TV) Very good
Selector Infected Wixoss (TV) Very good
Sengoku Basara - Samurai Kings (TV) Decent
Serial Experiments Lain (TV) Very good
The symbolism is undeniably strong and intricate, the themes are deep, but the thing is, there are less obtuse ways to tell a story. If I can't care about any of the characters then what's the point? Still a good show though.
Servant × Service (TV) Good
Seven Mortal Sins (TV) Bad
(The) Severing Crime Edge (TV) Decent
Pretty good art direction, a good look at fetishes, and an interesting story of the sort that Anime does best. Plus the lead couple were truly adorable together. But, the execution was sloppy as hell, a couple of episodes were absolute crap, and there were many parts that were so far-fetched that it was impossible to accept them. Even the basic premise was silly. Could have been a great show, but there are too many faults with it for it to be anything more than mediocre. It was memorable though, that's for sure.
Shadow Star Narutaru (TV) Bad
She and Her Cat (OAV) Decent
What can I say about it? Either you've already seen this and don't need me to tell you what it's like, or you haven't seen it and don't give a rat's arse. But ahem.

This was tagged on as a bonus feature to the disk of Voices of a Distant Star. That was the only reason I watched it. I did appreciate the relative originality of basing it on the cat's perspective rather than his female human owner. And I do fully understand that it was made by just one man on his home PC (except the music, if I remember correctly).

But is it a Masterpiece? Heck no. How could it be, when it is barely five minutes long? It isn't something that I could see myself watching over and over and over, it doesn't tell a great story, it doesn't show any notable characters. It simply IS. All in all a pleasant watch (it being so short means I didn't have time to get bored), but apart from its famous creator it isn't actually any good. Hence, my rating.

Shiki (TV) Bad
I want to know what the point of this was.

We were treated to episode after episode of horrible events happening, the vampires got their just desserts - well, mostly - but there was no point to this. The series ran for twenty-two episodes and although it could have done with another two or four to give it a "proper" ending, it was already long since the point of being broken. However, with no ending at all there was absolutely no payoff, and nothing was resolved. The journey itself was not a reason to watch, given how badly-written, horrible and gloomy it was.

Starting from episode eighteen onwards it got very satisfying, but about the same time the show also deigned to have the most moral character make the most immoral decision. Morality was brought up occasionally - is it alright for people to kill others just so they can survive? - but in the very context of this show the answer was clear; No IT IS NOT. Taking an innocent human life by force just to live another month - yes, that's all people, one life every few weeks - is NEVER justifiable. This is obvious to me and I am a huge Light Yagami supporter. The show tried to justify it by having the Shiki suffer from uncontrollable hunger, but that ignores what happened with Ritsuko, and that for 99% of the time that the Shiki are lucid and completely in control of themselves. They could have suicided any time they wanted when they weren't feeding. That there was supposed to be some big debate about the morality present in the show is ludicrous. Sunako and her followers are dead wrong, and no, that's not a joke, so don't laugh.

I also thought the whole "God has forsaken me" part to be extremely irritating. Although little Sunako pretends she is so smart for spewing pretty quotes she doesn't understand and which are clearly not correct, she cannot see that there is no God. Trying to turn to an imaginary person to ease your own guilty conscience is extremely childish; how old was she supposed to be again (I don't mean physically)? While I'm here I might as mention the other characters. The cast was far too big, leading many characters to only have one distinctive personality trait. There was no real main character, although Natsuno looked like he might be one (he never was) and Toshio came as close as any. There was also a dearth of sympathetic characters, since many of those who were victims then went on to hurt others, despite knowing what they were doing was wrong and able to commit suicide any time they chose. I felt eminently sorry for poor Kaori, although the ending really didn't address how she and Akira made it to hospital or why Akira hadn't been killed yet.

Also, this a modern vampire story, with a bit of effort put in to achieve some semblance of scientific and medical accuracy, and yet it incorporates many unscientific myths surrounding vampires. These include that they hate loud metallic noises, that they cannot stand wooden crosses or folklore charms, that they can use hypnosis, that they are best killed with a huge wooden stake to the heart rather than a spear or other instrument, that they have fast-to-the-point-of-being-magical healing powers, and that they are cold blooded despite the human body being adapted for warm blood operation. The especially worst one was that they cannot enter a house or other dwelling unless given permission (no matter how oblique the permission was); what the heck is that nonsense doing in a supposedly realistic show? The other problem was with the "modern" part. The show is obviously set after World War Two, and yet no-one in this rural community has guns (until the very end), no-one has a UV lamp or torch, and the governmental system is outdated to the point of being feudal. Where is the media? Where are the infectious disease control plans? This is not the middle ages, so why did the villagers feel the need to tackle this all by themselves? Hmm? On the flip side, this is a village with a scant 1300 residents in the middle of effing nowhere and it has its own mini-hospital complete with five nurses. It is odd in itself but even if the village was well equipped there was no reason not to call in outside help. And given the clinic, you would think more of the villagers would suspect an epidemic, or treat it seriously.

Anyway, Shiki could have been great, but it wasn't, not even close. It was simply dragged down by the sheer weight and number of its transgressions against good and sensible storytelling. I sort of knew intellectually that not all noitaminA shows are wonderful, but it never really hit home until now. Ugh. I need to go watch something good to get this bitter taste out of my soul.

Shion no Oh (TV) Very good
Showa Monogatari (TV) Good
Billed as the first Anime for senior citizens, Showa Monogatari relied heavily on the nostalgia factor to win audiences over. Which is ironic, since it tells a story decent-enough that it doesn't need nostalgia to work.

The show is set 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympics. It is truly remarkable how much Japan had changed and improved in the scant nineteen years since the devastating war, and the Tokyo games proved that Japan had once again entered the world stage. The show strived to accurately capture the era, and it definitely succeeded. Showcased were period songs, dresses and other clothing, architecture and historical landmarks, the political turmoil and clashing social mores between young and old, Japan's new wealth and prosperity, and the shadow of the war which still loomed over the older characters. There was even a segment at the end of each episode which covered landmarks, shops and streets in the show and showing how they look today.

Even if the nostalgia doesn't do anything for you (and let's face it, it won't unless you are a Japanese senior citizen or Japanophile), it is still a good watch. The episodes were generally Slice-of-Life stories with simple messages, though of course the Olympics was always looming, with bunting and the like serving as visual reminders. Characters were well-realised and most made good use of their time in the limelight. However, Kohei - the young boy of the family - got the most screentime, which was unfortunate since his voice actor (fifteen years old at the time and a complete newcomer) was simply atrocious. To enjoy the show you'll have to learn to tolerate - more like survive - his absolutely painful delivery. But it can be done and is worth it.

Showa Monogatari set out to capture the spirit of the times and deliver good programming suitable for family viewing, and it realised its ambition. It won't appeal to the vast majority of Western Anime fans, but I believe those who are into this sort of story will like what they see.

Silent Möbius (TV) So-so
Extremely uneven series. The art direction was on occasion very exciting and appealing, but at other times bland and boring. The one-off character-centric episodes were actually quite good, and the heroines themselves had strong chemistry and were likeable people. However those episodes that focused on the plot were usually weak (and sometimes even worse than that). The overall plot had some good ideas and the different aspects to it were tied together in interesting ways. However, it was executed very poorly and had huge holes, with important details added in far too late. The last stretch of episodes were almost unbearable because of how stupid everything (and everyone) was. The denouement was particularly muddled, although it was nice that most of the final episode was spent on a coda.

Silent Möbius did show touches of great writing here and there, and it had a good cast of heroines. I also liked the art direction when some effort was put into it. These pluses manage to (barely) cancel out the minuses of weak and ill-explained villains and the large number of headache-inducing episodes.

Silver Spoon (TV) Good
I would have enjoyed the show a lot more if Hachiken spoke like a normal person instead of blurting out his feelings to everyone as if he were narrating the show. Besides that, the show was actually really good, with some good themes regarding humans' relationships to livestock. If you'll excuse the pun it was food for thought, heh heh.
Simoun (TV) Good
Skelter+Heaven (OAV) Awful
Felt like the the first episode of a show that got cancelled. But between the bizarre flashbacks, the hilariously amateurish CG for the mechs and the gut-bustingly silly squid enemies, at least this OVA never dragged. The guy who wrote this also directed Mars of Destruction; why am I not surprised.
Sket Dance (TV) Good
Sketchbook ~full color'S~ (TV) Good
(The) Skull Man (TV) Not really good
What happened here? Why did a show that was solid and interesting for its first eight episodes suddenly go off the rails and self-destruct in the last five? It just doesn't make any sense why the writing staff would do that and waste their previous hard work. All that respectably large amount of potential wasn't just squandered, it was knifed in the back in spectacular fashion, and the final episode is absolutely atrocious. Seriously, this show makes the list of the worst endings in Anime history.

I didn't rate the show lower because for more than half its run it was pretty darn good. But that third act . . . boy oh boy. Dafuq did the show do to deserve that?

(The) Sky Crawlers (movie) Decent
Sky Girls (TV) Good
It's hard to really talk about Sky Girls, as it's pretty average and unspectacular. It won't blow your socks off as there's not an original or even fresh idea in this show; everything is dutifully by-the-book and nothing we haven't seen before. The Sonic Divers are notable in how badly-designed they are, but I guess that's part of the Mecha-Musume package. The robot designs aside the execution is alright, and the show is easy to watch. Going into the final two episodes I had in mind that the show overall was worth a Decent at most. But I'm a sucker for stories which wrap up the main plot in the penultimate episode and then use their final episode as a coda. Since Sky Girls ended on such an agreeable note it manages to just squeak by with a rating of Good.
Snow White with the Red Hair (TV) Very good
(il) sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion (TV) Weak
Sora no Manimani (TV) Very good
What really sold me on this series was not the comedy, which was entertaining, or the frequent bouts of introspection, which I found interesting. Nor was it the characters, although don't get me wrong, I'm not bagging them. They were a likeable bunch, well written and devoid of the usual pitfalls that characters often fall into. The lead male was not a milquetoast loser and, in addition to being fairly intelligent, actually looked and acted normally. The genki girl (played by Kanae Ito) was actually tolerable and kind of lovable. The bitchy student council president was instead a nice and caring (if a tad straight-laced) person. And the catty love rival was entirely sympathetic and had a good heart. This Anime could technically be considered a Harem show, but it is done so much better than most Harems I found myself pleasantly surprised.

But all that said, what really bumped the grade up from a Good to a Very Good was the enthusiasm. You could tell the staff and Seiyuu really enjoyed working on this Anime, and the script treated astronomy as almost its own character rather than just something to set the plot in motion, as a lesser series would have done. There was real respect and love for the stars and constellations on show, and that's what sold me. Fanservice was light, apart from episodes five and twelve there was only some pretty funny innuendo. On the show's one real downside, I wish there had been more of a resolution to the romance side of things (although it was implied one couple did hook up), but it was never a big deal, and I do not consider it important enough to drag the grade down.

I really enjoyed this show, I'm glad it was recommended to me. Let me take the opportunity to recommend it to you.

Sōten Kōro (TV) Decent
It's important to not view this as an actual historical account, because it most certainly is not. But the events are largely the same, and it is a good springboard for those who want to check out Wikipedia or whatever and find more. I did enjoy the focus on a man (Cao Cao) who was reviled in his lifetime, and making him the protagonist was an interesting move. But efforts to make him too cool for school did mean the show never got anywhere close to the depth and introspection that I wanted.

Some of his biggest atrocities were barely even touched on, as were his biggest social and economic reforms. Apart from maybe one notable clusterfuck, he was like a Mary Sue. He wrote amazing poetry and seduced numerous women. He was a master huntsman, a strong tactician, a genius strategist, a born leader and a persuasive orator. He was also a swordsman capable enough of at least holding his own against the best, men who could and did kill dozens with a single swing. Where were his flaws? Where were his doubts? Where were his mistakes?

It wasn't a well-executed story, and the characters lack any real depth to them. But the show was plenty entertaining, I'll give it that. Seeing these larger-than-life personalities with their reality-defying superpowers was good popcorn-munching fun. It was easier to follow than I thought, mostly because it simplified a lot of things. But man, what a tease it was with some of the battles. There was a real dearth in superpower versus superpower action, although I guess that kept the show from descending into straight Shounen.

Anyway, I do recommend it, but not as a historically-accurate portrayal. By trying to cast off the mostly undeserved reputation he gained from the novel the show instead swings too far the other way. Yet the show is fun to watch (so as long as you have the names and factions all figured out) and does usually avoid taking itself too seriously. As long as you don't treat it seriously either, it can be enjoyable for you too.

Space Brothers (TV) Very good
Space Dandy (TV) Good
Space Runaway Ideon (TV) Not really good
Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked (movie) Not really good
So, um, clarity is not one of Tomino's strong points. What a truly bizarre ending. The ideas were great, but the execution did not really do them justice. That's all I can really say.
Speed Grapher (TV) Good
Spice and Wolf (TV) Excellent
Spice and Wolf II (TV) Excellent
Spiral (TV) Weak
Who are the Blade Children? Why were they created? Why do people want them dead? Why are they missing a particular rib? How does Kiyotaka fit into all of this? What exactly is Ayumu supposed to do to save them? Those are all excellent questions . . . and the show doesn't even attempt to answer any of them at all. It's pathetic writing, made all the worse by how utterly stupid everyone bar Madoka is. For all the intelligent scheming and the clever plans, virtually the entire cast is a moron.

This was a very disappointing series, poorly-written and completely unsatisfactory.

Spirited Away (movie) Very good
Spriggan (movie) Weak
Star Blazers 2199 (TV) Very good
Steamboy (movie) Excellent
Similar to Metropolis in that it is a fairly standard story dressed up in amazing visuals, it nevertheless better captures the spirit of wonder and adventure. It also explores its themes better, characters are given proper motivations, and there are moral dilemmas that must be faced. Though nowhere near the level of a Masterpiece, it nevertheless is a remarkable movie and the best of the lot.
Steins;Gate (TV) Very good
Steins;Gate: The Movie - Load Region of Déjà Vu Good
Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3 (TV) Not really good
Jeez, it's only airsoft. Trying to make it all mystical and taking it way too seriously was irritating. Then there's the ridiculous character dynamics, and the dark and edginess which suck all the fun out of the show without adding anything of any substance. At least the jazzy music was good.
Stink Bomb (movie) Good
(The) Story of Saiunkoku (TV) Decent
Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry (TV) Not really good
Strange+ (TV) Decent
The title is truthful because this show is random as heck. Although occasionally humourous, its comedy mostly relied on being loud and brash rather than genuinely funny.
Strawberry Marshmallow (TV) Very good
If Miu's obnoxiousness and presence had been toned down just a bit, this quirky slice-of-life comedy could well have been deserving of a rating one grade higher. As it is there's still a lot to like here, such as the calm relaxing tone and the absolutely moetastic girls. I found Matsuri - one of the most adorable characters to ever exist - to be a real treat to watch. And Nobue and her "gruff on the outside, sweet on the inside" routine was very endearing.

I wish the show was longer, because I really enjoyed it and didn't want to have to say goodbye to these characters. But nevertheless it was twelve episodes of bliss, and definitely is a standout entry in the "cute-girls-being-extremely-cute" sub-genre.

Summer Wars (movie) Very good
Sumomomo Momomo - Chijō Saikyō no Yome (TV) Decent
The humour can be really effective at times, but this show is not really what I'd call a standout Comedy title. What really lets it down though are the final few episodes when the tone gets more serious. They just do not work. Luckily the OVA episodes get the comedy back on track before the show finishes. By and large it's an entertaining if forgettable watch. Most of the episodes demand little in the way of attention and so the show can be marathoned with ease.

Oh, and FACT -> Sanae is the best girl <- FACT. Even Aya Hirano couldn't ruin her (Sanae's) appeal.

Sunday Without God (TV) So-so
Superb premise, themes and atmosphere, all marred by crappy execution that never delivers. The Ortus arc (episodes four through six) was fairly good, the most tidy, consistent and logical part of the show. But everything else is a badly written mess that never lets massive plot holes get in the way of setting up supposedly touching scenes which often just end up being emotionally hollow. You can tell this was written by someone who had great ideas but couldn't be arsed actually making them work. Still, the themes do offer food for thought.
(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross (TV) Good
First of all, I just want to say that I'll be getting into spoilers, so be careful.

This show is a goldmine for hilarious animation mistakes. But it was a television series from the early eighties, so I'll forgive it for that. I won't forgive it for having one character die because he was too stupid to go to the hospital. And perhaps the most glaring error of the entire show was when our heroes try and escape the alien starship by slowly cutting through the airlock even though there is already a massive hole in the side of the ship which THEY made and which is in the same hanger as they are. It's such a mind-boggling error I can only surmise that the guy doing the storyboards was severely stressed that week. Maybe he found out his wife was cheating on him? Who knows.

Those two points aside, I have to say the plot was really interesting. I can see why this show became so influential in Japan (many Americans will of course know it as the first part of the famous Robotech). The Real Robot combat (not a single shred of psychic powers to be found: yay) plus a fascinating alien race that is so used to war it has forgotten "culture" makes this a huge breakaway from previous shows. Heck, if it was broadcast in the 2000s it still would be fresh. The scenes where the Zentradi expressed their various opinions on culture were always funny, but at the same time reinforcing how different their way of thinking was. I liked how the Zentradi weren't stock bad guys, and indeed feared humans as much as humans feared them.

Up to and including episode twenty-seven the show was very strong. Indeed, episode twenty-seven could easily have been the last episode with only a few minor changes and a couple of extra scenes at the end to wrap things up. But the show went on for another nine episodes, and I have to say it was a mistake. Continuing the story past the normal end point was a perfectly good idea, don't get me wrong. Seeing how the characters coped in the aftermath and the new direction humanity was taking was pretty neat. But the writers did not know how to handle it properly; it felt tacked on. So a good premise for the last arc was seriously let down by bad execution. I suppose this was the real big error in the plot, not the two I mentioned in the first paragraph.

In the last arc many of the characters got markedly snarkier and stupider; the ones who got shoved out of the way were probably the lucky ones. Kaifun became even more annoying than he already was, which I didn't think was possible. Minmay - saviour of humankind - just whined a lot while complaining that she didn't feel like singing. There was very little live singing in the final arc, and it was never important to the plot, which is a shame. Misa's only role was to fawn over Hikaru and be catty, although I liked her the most out of all the main characters. And Hikaru became a two-timing prick unworthy of either woman's affections and too immature to make up his mind. I can't believe how stupid and ineffectual the military became, making stupid decisions that caused several large towns and Macross City itself to unnecessarily suffer huge civilian casualties. It's the sort of military planning that even the Transformers would shake their heads at.

If this show had ended at episode twenty-seven it would have easily gotten a rating of Very Good. However, it didn't, and those final nine episodes drag it down to a Good (and it's only scraping in).

(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (movie) Weak
This is a strange movie. Incomprehensible unless you've seen the original television series, it also fails to live up to its predecessor. In terms of character relationships, plotting and even visceral excitement, this is inferior work. The final battle is actually kinda boring, and that's a death knell for a Mecha title.

Yes the movie is very pretty, and yes it has good animation (but especially for its time). And yes, I greatly appreciated that - spoiler alert - Fokker got a vastly improved death scene and that Lynn Kaifun was relegated to the sidelines instead of being the sort of tumour he unfortunately was on the show. But ultimately this movie cut too much out that made the series good. You can't have a love triangle between characters who barely know one another, a bare bones of a plot and some random battles with enemies who only make short cameos, and simply call it a day. There's no substance to the movie, and thus it feels hollow.

On a side note it was extra disappointing after fans had hyped it beyond all rhyme and reason. For fans of a certain age this movie is an institution, a highwater mark, the Holy Grail. But looked at objectively without the nostalgia, it is just an early example of a recap movie. And like most recap movies it had to cut so much out that what we get is only the highlights, a window into a better stronger story. With the movie changing the plot and simply assuming that we've seen or somehow know the backstory of how the Macross and its crew came to be in that situation, it's even more bastardised and incomplete than most recap movies are.

I absolutely would not recommend it to newcomers and I would definitely hesitate to recommend it to those who have seen the series. It's just not very good.

Super Seisyun Brothers (TV) Good
I wish this had standard-length episodes rather than four-minute episodes, as it was actually quite good. I would have loved to have seen more.
Supernatural: The Anime Series (OAV) Very good
Survival Game Club! (TV) Very good
Quite uneven but overall it was very funny. The narrator and Momoka are both hilarious and carry the show, but all of the cast have their moments.
Sweet Blue Flowers (TV) Very good
Great atmosphere, artwork and pacing, and a thoughtful non-sensationalised depiction of lesbian relationships. However, the "fin" in the final episode was a bit insulting; the story hadn't finished, it was only getting started.
Sword Art Online (TV) Bad
Sword of the Stranger (movie) Excellent
Tachikomatic Days (OAV) Decent
Taisho Baseball Girls (TV) Very good
Most of the girls get no character development, the interesting setting is not really explored enough and the story does get a bit silly at times. That said, this show is so entertaining and feel-good charming that one cannot help but like it. It really will put a big smile on your face.
Tales from Earthsea (movie) Weak
Gah I hated this movie. The characters were horribly conceived, the plot was tepid, and the direction was crap. The usual strong Ghibli technical merits aside, the whole think reeked of failure. It was supposed to be Goro Miyazaki's introduction, his chance to stamp his mark on the Anime world and prove he is ready to take over from his father. Well, he does/did have competent technical staff, I'll give him that (although the character designs are just too similar to Princess Mononoke), but he can't direct to save himself.

Basically, don't watch this movie, as it will disappoint you. That is all there is to it.

Tamayura - Hitotose (TV) Very good
Tamayura - More Aggressive (TV) Very good
Tari Tari (TV) Very good
(The) Tatami Galaxy (TV) Excellent
Sometimes it isn't about the destination but the journey.

This is actually a fairly predictable story. But boy is the ride fun. Watching the nameless protagonist get himself into all sorts of bizarre strife all the while giving us an ultra-fast narration of his own misfortunes is great. House of Five Leaves got a lot more coverage, but The Tatami Galaxy is by far a more enjoyable, watchable, and interesting show. Especially the way the different plot threads come together so well.

Also; MOTHS.

Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee (TV) Very good
The plot comes into force with the sequel, but the series does a good job in establishing its unusual world and introducing the characters.

The majority of the stories were episodic in nature, with predictable plotlines and stereotypical characters, but they were like munching through a bag of potato chips. Each one is pleasant, but not in the least bit filling, so you keep on eating more and more and then they're all gone. Most episodes of Letter Bee were like that, lightweight comfort food at its most addictive. It helped that the episodes were shorter than the standard Anime length; I don't think any of them topped out at twenty-one minutes or more.

I've got to put in a word for the characters; Niche is just thoroughly awesome, Lag is a naive crybaby who surprisingly never got on my nerves too much, and I thought Steak managed to be quite brave (living with a name that constantly reminded him of his ultimate fate in life). The other characters were not all that well-developed other than Gauche (kind and composed) and Zazie (tough-guy with a soft interior).

Letter Bee is a rather unusual in that not only is it a Fantasy work (fairly uncommon these days), but often, it seems more intent on delivering a moral than showing us a big fight scene (even though there are plenty of them). It hardly ever falls into the trap of turning its moralising into preaching, which is nice. For a series about heart, it should not be surprising that it contains a warm heart of its own.

Too bad the almost complete lack of a plot and the flat characters drag it down, but the second season largely fixes those. And since the sequel is more a direct continuation, you can think of the two seasons as one fifty-episode production. Therefore, it doesn't matter if there are apparent deficiencies in this first season because it is only setting things up for the second half.

In plainer English, I would rate this as Good if I were just considering it on its own, but since I'm not, it gets a higher grade.

Tegami Bachi: Reverse (TV) Very good
Ah, this is so annoying. It has an overarching plot and much better characterisation, which makes it arguably a superior work than its predecessor (although both can be thought of as two halves of the same work). Nevertheless, it fails to answer some of the biggest mysteries while introducing even more for us to consider. The Manga is still ongoing, so hopefully I will one day have the pleasure of watching a third season. Or should I say, I had better see a third season, and soon? Hah. It may have quite a few faults, but if it can leave me wanting more (and to this degree) then it has done its job. If it ever gets licensed (a distant prospect at best), then I will undoubtedly buy it, no question. Yes, I do love it a tad more than its quality might suggest, so sue me. Anyway, I recommended it (although watching the first season beforehand is advised).
(The) Telepathy Girl Ran (TV) Not really good
Tetsuko no Tabi (TV) Good
It was kind of cool to see another side of Japan that even most Japanese don't know about. However, I would have liked the show to explore Tetsu culture a bit more than it did. To have a wider perspective, look at different sides, maybe have some more characters. Or at least better address the sub-plot about Kikuchi learning to appreciate Tetsu culture and becoming the titular Tetsuko. It was hinted at in parts but never became a proper theme. At any rate the show was very formulaic and it could have done with mixing things up a bit. Also, the direction could have been a bit snazzier; no matter how low your budget you can still use clever storyboarding to make things a bit more livelier. Nevertheless, the episodes never dragged and the show had charm. It was an easy and enjoyable watch.
Texhnolyze (TV) Awful
Some people don't like it when I call this show "pretentious". But I'm only calling it what it actually is.

It pretends it is soooo deep by having characters who hardly speak at all (and for Ran, only then in riddles). But having characters who are mute most of time is just a way to hide the fact that there's almost no substance to this show at all. It isn't a case of "getting" it, because there's nothing to "get".

I barely survived watching this pile of crap with my sanity intact; each episode was a chore. Do yourself a favour and don't bother, unless you have an addiction to cleaning your toilet or something.

Thermae Romae (TV) Good
This Art Club Has a Problem! (TV) Good
Tibetan Dog (movie) So-so
Tiger & Bunny (TV) Excellent
Tiger & Bunny the Movie: The Beginning Good
It's a respectable but not impressive movie. Although technically a compilation movie, it has huge amounts of new footage, and the entire second half is brand spanking new. Despite this, it somehow exudes the same disjointed feel that normally plagues compilation movies. And while it is true that the movie had a high budget, the television series looked pretty good in the first place, so you don't get the typical gulf in animation quality between a series and its compilation movie. So since the television series is more carefully paced, better constructed and still looks great, I would recommend that newcomers to the franchise stick with the series rather than this movie. Still, as I said the movie isn't bad. It's just that it was completely unnecessary except as a cash grab.
Time of Eve (movie) Excellent
I felt like it was merely a taster of a larger story. Sure, we got Rikuo and Masaki's stories, but in a way the very setting had its own story to tell, and I feel we just saw one snapshot of it. There's so much more to tell, that NEEDS to be told. Not only what happened before but also what happened after. Still, don't let that put you off; this is a superb movie, it really is.
Time Travel Girl (TV) Good
To (OAV) So-so
This should have been a series. A two-episode OVA with interesting ideas but weak and hurried writing was never going to work, and so it didn't.

First of all the music, which I didn't really notice but wasn't that horrible (so it was serviceable enough). The animation was well done and far more fluid than television shows, which is what you'd expect from an OVA. The mechanical designs were also very good, although perhaps a little far-fetched.

The character designs on the other hand were incredibly good, and quite realistic. I mean, if I was going to make an Anime, that's how I'd design them, except I'd render the characters without the heavy CGI. See, the faces looked all "plasticky", especially in the first episode. I don't know if it is because it took time getting used to them, but they really put me off. And the lips were one of the biggest disappointments, as there was almost no effort made to match the lips to the dialogue. This was very disconcerting.

As for the characters themselves, we never got enough time to really know them, which was a shame because there was nothing stopping them from being interesting except for extreme time constraints. The plots (yes, plural, as both episodes had their own individual plots) were both interesting, with some great ideas, but the second episode executed its plot far better than the first did. However, both episodes were guilty of numerous instances of weak writing and obvious plot holes.

Once again, time constraints meant that we never saw the full picture. Expository dialogue hinted at an interesting and wonderful universe, but disappointingly we only saw glimpses. So yet another argument can be made for the OVA being a series.

In the end, this is a production that will only appeal to Sci-Fi fans like myself, but even I found myself rolling my eyes at times. I thought it was worth watching, but it should have been longer, and it shouldn't have used such horrible CG.

togainu no chi - Bloody Curs (TV) Bad
It's unfortunate that when I finally decide to give Shounen-Ai a go, the show I picked turns out to be crap.

The biggest and most fundamental flaw of this series is painfully obvious; it was too short. It affects everything; the characters, the story, the enjoyability of the show. The first half was too slow, and confusing because things were happening and we had not one clue as to why they were. It featured characters that I couldn't bring myself to care about, because we weren't introduced to them properly. Instead we got endless scenes of them walking down dark streets or whatever, instead of learning anything important about them. Akira came off as cold to the point of robotic, and Keisuke was whiny as hell.

The second half of the show was the opposite. It was too fast. It was confusing too, but in how events were happening with no real explanation given as to what the F was going on. Terminology and the names of factions were dropped with no help given to the viewer as to what or who was being talked about, and how they fit into the story. Characters now received development, but largely in the form of numerous flashbacks to events that were not previously depicted, or even hinted at until the flashback was aired. This storytelling method is a sign of a rush job, and lacks the emotional power that could otherwise be shown. Also, superpowers being thrown in with absolutely zero foreshadowing. Not good.

I did like the character designs; although Rin is far too girly for my tastes, having at least one girly boy is apparently a feature of Shounen-Ai. And the show did well in setting a bleak and depressing atmosphere. Too well, given how the characters were already so gloomy. But the animation budget was pretty gosh-darn small, and in the final episode much of the action was done while the camera pointed at the ground or sky. Um, that's pretty poor form. Reused stills are chronic in episode twelve.

This show is not even a commercial. It is a one-cour treat for fans of the game, since you would have to had already played the game to not be so utterly confused by the story and disinterested in the characters. I suppose there's always spoilers online, but that kind of defeats the purpose. I wouldn't recommend this show to anyone who isn't a Shounen-Ai fan, as it is a poor introduction to the genre.

It is a show that is far more watchable than it's quality might suggest. Unfortunately, that's not saying much.

Tohai Densetu Akagi -Yamini Maiorita Tensai- (TV) So-so
It's a tale of two halves; the first gripping and fun, the second boring and lifeless. A clear case of the source Manga starting well but then entering a long-winded arc that got dragged out for far too long because the Mangaka was running out of other ideas. What a shame that the adaptation went the too-faithful route. Just because the source material got bogged down didn't mean it had to as well.

Three other big complaints. We never really get the chance to understand the titular character and what makes him tick. The show ended half-way through a game (one which had already taken literally half of the show's running time). Finally, no attempt was made to ease viewers into the highly complicated game of Mahjong (thank God for fansub explanatory notes, without which I would have been completely lost).

My advice is this. Watch the first thirteen episodes, then stop. The second half adds nothing new, is not interesting beyond the quirky premise of betting one's blood, and is more often than not a complete bore. The villain is ridiculous. The rating I've given is for an average of the two halves, which should tell you that the first half is pretty darn good.

Tokyo Godfathers (movie) Excellent
This is a wonderful movie. It keeps on twisting and turning, and you don't know where exactly it's going, but you enjoy it nonetheless. And when it's over you go "wow, that was incredible".

It has themes like forgiveness, redemption, maternal love, tolerance, family and charity. And those are just the ones I can think up off the top of my head. The characters seem stereotyped but are always deeper than you first believe. They compliment one another, grow on you, and by the end you want them to be happy. The humour knows exactly when to turn up, and it is very funny. Even some scenes that you might think were supposed to be all dramatic ended up being funny in a way, like when the ambulance crashes and the driver gets out and says he needs an ambulance.

I have asked myself why I didn't rate this a Masterpiece, and there are three reasons. The first is that while the story is enjoyable, I did feel it meandered a bit too much. The second is that the humour knew when to show up but it sometimes stayed a little bit too long, mostly at the start of the movie. The third reason is more personal; as an atheist I didn't appreciate the religious overtones as much as others might. But don't get me wrong, that isn't a criticism of the movie, just a reflection of my personal feelings.

If you haven't watched this movie yet, then what are you waiting for? Christmas? Ha ha hah . . .

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (TV) Excellent
Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time (TV) Very good
The scenarios that Seki came up with were pretty neat, and I liked how Yokoi - despite herself - began to play along with his antics. Twas an fun show that could always be relied on to be entertaining, and the format of seven-minute episodes really worked for it.
Toward the Terra (TV) Good
This was so close to being a Very Good, but poor world-building and quite a lot of inconsistencies and plot holes just dragged it down. That said, if you get can past the shaky start it is a series worth your time.
(The) Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk (TV) Good
Transformers: Armada (TV) Decent
Transformers: Cybertron (TV) So-so
Transformers: Robots in Disguise (TV) Not really good
Trigun (TV) Masterpiece
Trigun: Badlands Rumble (movie) Very good
Trinity Blood (TV) Weak
(The) Troubled Life of Miss Kotoura (TV) So-so
It's cute, it has some nice tender moments and excellent drama. But there's a lot to hate as well.

Manabe is hard to like, being a perverted moron whose dirty thoughts makes him the designated punching bag. The grandfather is in a similar boat, being such an over-the-top pervert that he doesn't come off as genuine. Mifune's plotline is just hurriedly resolved in a dissatisfying way. Kotoura goes round in circles, beating herself up over every little thing - her development is extremely messy and goes in circles, repeating the same things over and over. And Mori, she made one extremely baffling decision that was completely bizarre and obviously counter-productive and we never got an answer as to why she did it. The detective and her arc were weak, especially the conclusion. In fact, another plotline concluded very weakly as well, and that was Kotoura and her estranged mother. It's like the writers realised that they only had the final episode to resolve it and so crammed it in, with little to no regard for making it seem sincere.

But the show's worst part was undoubtedly the first ten minutes, which were so disgustingly manipulative and filled with the most over-wrought melodrama that I almost dropped it then and there. The stupidity of those ten minutes aside, it was all so fake. And that's the show's defining problem; it's fake. A very good fake, with some moments of genuine and touching drama. But even as it tells us that Manabe should be applauded for being honest and sincere, the show is so manipulative that Jun Maeda would be beaming with pride. All stories wants us to feel something, true, but there's a vast gulf of difference between showing us a sad scene or a touching story and actually shouting at the viewer "THIS GIRL SAD. YOU FEEL SAD TOO!". For those first ten minutes, and in several other scenes, the show was so intent on getting us to feel something that it forgot to actually make a genuine emotional connection. Instead of feeling sympathetic for Kotoura I could only seethe in irritation and disgust for how fake and off-putting the drama was.

It's a real shame, because there's so much about this show that I actually like. It's quite funny even with the "perverts are good" spiel, a lot of the drama and character interactions are great, the characters grow and improve and become a tight-knit circle of friends who can accept one another for whom they are, and I like how adorable it is. The art style is quite cute, especially the faces. This was an otherwise good show that was seriously let down by a few plot lines that were tied off in too-quick-and-dirty a fashion, and some scenes which royally screwed up the emotional connection.

True Tears (TV) Decent
This soap opera isn't too bad, with the inevitable melodrama being balanced out (somewhat) by some touching scenes at the end. But it wasn't really good enough to stand out of a crowded genre.
Tsuredure Children (TV) Good
(The) Twelve Kingdoms (TV) Decent
Tytania (TV) So-so
Umineko - When They Cry (TV) Not really good
As a rushed and flawed adaptation it sucks. As a rushed and unfinished standalone work it sucks. As the first half in a longer story, it sucks. It has a very confusing cop-out ending, and the plot and characters were badly handled. Moral of the story?

Avoid this and read the Visual Novels, so I've been told.
Un-Go (TV) Decent
Urara Meirocho (TV) Good
Utawarerumono (TV) Good
I enjoyed it more than it probably deserved, the interesting first third making up for an inferior last half. The end was pretty good though.

The show's Ero-game roots are obvious, but it manages to do enough to avoid being bogged down by its heritage. The lead is bland but likeable, the initial setting fairly interesting for yet another feudal rendition, and the series does have some good humourous moments. The battle scenes showcase how a small budget can be expertly stretched without making the show look cheap. The science fiction parts didn't feel quite right, but the ending is a good solid one, always a treat in Anime. And the overall pacing is quite fast, especially at the start. The show doesn't slow down to catch its breath until episode eight.

I'm not going to ramble anymore. Utawarerumono is a decent show with engaging characters. It isn't fantastic, but if you want something solid then consider this one.

Utawarerumono (OAV) Good
Valkyria Chronicles (TV) So-so
Valvrave the Liberator (TV) Awful
Well hey. Nine episodes of crap and then three episodes of HOLY SHIT OF WHAT THE F*CK. It got absolutely insane at the end, and not in a good way. At least I don't have to watch the second cour, thanks to the show splitting itself up into two seasons. That's a relief.
Vampire Hunter D (OAV) Weak
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (movie) Very good
Vampire Knight (TV) Not really good
Ugh. Started off okay for the first few episodes as Zero tried to deal with his situation, but the show's second half was, well, cringe-inducing. Bishounen everywhere I don't mind, but everything else . . . shoot me now. The writing was drivel, the dialogue was torture, and the characters were braindead morons. Yuki in particular was your typical plucky energetic Shoujo lead but she came off as so annoying I was constantly wishing for another character to just slap her. No way am I watching the sequel to this.
Venus Wars (movie) So-so
The actual plot wasn't all that bad, and the action was of course pretty good. The big letdown were the characters: uniformly unlikeable and/or unimportant, possessing one-dimensionally thin personalities, undeveloped. Just poorly handled all round. Not one of them was any good (though it was nice to see the Gundam-style character designs). They just about drag the movie into negative territory but I found Venus Wars to be a passably entertaining one-hundred-minute diversion.
Vexille - 2077 Isolation of Japan (movie) Decent
Ya ya ya, I know all about the massive plot holes and the fairly standard Sci-Fi Action story of "science is bad, here are explosions". The characters are very flat in terms of personality and the lip-syncing (even in the original Japanese) is haphazard at times, both of which seem to be common problems amongst CGI Anime films. You don't have to tell me all the things that are wrong with this film.

So why would I give this a passing grade? Because of the visuals silly (the audio isn't nearly as good). And because it offers a new twist on humanity's relationship with machines. Many people liken this to Appleseed because of who made it but I actually think it is closer - at least in spirit and themes - to Ghost in the Shell. Oh, and a little bit of Dune, if only in a couple of obvious respects, but mostly the former. Vexille doesn't rip off that illustrious Anime franchise so much as be inspired by the ideas it raises. Sure, it only gives its themes a cursory glance, but at least they are there. And for an unabashed action movie in which the entire point was introducing mouth-watering visuals and mechanical designs, hey, it could have been so much worse.

Setting your sights low and then achieving them is no cause for celebration. But it isn't necessarily a bad thing either. Could this movie have been waaay better if it had a director and writing team who dared to explore the tantalising threads the movie raised? Of course. But for what it was and what it set out to do, it did okay. Apart from the visuals there isn't anything to write home about, but it isn't actively bad either. I've seen plenty worse, even if you put aside the incredible visuals.

(The) Vision of Escaflowne (TV) Masterpiece
Voices of a Distant Star (OAV) Very good
Waiting in the Summer (TV) Good
Walkure Romanze (TV) Bad
Wangan Midnight (TV) Good
While it didn't blow me away I was very impressed by it, and the focus on the tuning side of racing was interesting. Also nice to see the older generation play starring roles, even if they were usually just (crucial) support to the whippersnappers. I got a little hooked to be honest, it was never hard to watch the next episode and I just ate them up. Some series are best watched just one episode per day or even slower, because they're either very thought-provoking or too emotionally draining. But Wangan Midnight is an example of a show which can be marathoned with little effort, and in fact is probably best watched that way.

On a side note, the type of street racing seen in the series is based off the Mid Night Club (whose name inspired the title of the original manga). They were a real-life illegal street racing club who raced on the Wangan and other highways in and around Tokyo. To think that guys actually raced at speeds of over 300KPH whilst weaving in and out of traffic is mind-boggling.

WATAMOTE (TV) Masterpiece
Welcome to Irabu's Office (TV) Weak
Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW (movie) Decent
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (TV) Bad
When They Cry - Higurashi (TV) Good
Whisper of the Heart (movie) Excellent
(The) Wind Rises (movie) Decent
It's long and meandering, and the girl is there just to be sick (she's not necessary at all), but the movie's biggest flaw is how it disservices the real Jiro Horikoshi. He was decidedly anti-war yet loved aeroplanes, so it's obvious why Miyazaki wanted to make a movie about him. But the story glossed over his beliefs, going with the easy explanation of "I only want to make beautiful airplanes". Sure, other characters do voice concerns of war, but that's not the same as having the main character stand up and denounce where Japan is heading.

It's still a decent movie, but it neither gives us insight into the real man or provides that much of an entertaining viewing experience. I'm disappointed, to be honest.

Windy Tales (TV) Very good
Witch Hunter Robin (TV) Very good
Witchblade (TV) Good
Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil (TV) Not really good
Wolf Children (movie) Masterpiece
Wolf's Rain (TV) Very good
Wolf's Rain (OAV) Very good
Wolverine (TV) Bad
Surprisingly watchable for something so terrible.

On merit alone I would have given it a rating of Awful - it really is dreck - but despite finding myself in a near constant state of eye-rolling I did not find the show painful. Maybe it was Yukio's outfit that made things easier? My advice is to go in with the lowest possible expectations with regards to the characters, story, action scenes and the believability factor, and you may indeed find it tolerable. Just never forget that it really is a giant turd and an embarrassing entry in Madhouse Studio's portfolio. I mean come on, trashy Anime is like fast food; you expect a low minimum standard that is not at all hard to meet, and if the burger joint or studio cannot even meet that then they have TRULY failed.

Anyway, if you have not watched this yet then A: congratulations, you made a better decision than I did, and B: try to keep it that way.

(The) World God Only Knows (TV) Good
The premise - Eroge Otaku must make real girls fall in love with him using gaming techniques in order to excise the demons in their hearts - sounds stupid, although by Anime standards it is only middling in its weirdness. But it works. Er, kind of.

The first two arcs of this show are great, and totally worth watching. That's the first three episodes by the way, out of twelve. In the first episode quite a bit happens, but the writing makes it work. The episode feels half again as long, because all that happened without coming across as rushed. The next arc - a two parter - is also good, with Keima having a plan and it coming to fruition perfectly. But the third arc - a three parter - has a badly developed girl (and that's not a crack at her actually impressive rack), the writing sucks, it is obvious that the writers didn't know where to go with it, and it just goes on way too long. As in, it wouldn't have filled up two episodes and yet it was stretched to three. The fourth arc is another three parter, and although the girl is far better developed as a character (and very, very cute), the arc is so slow and quiet I'm amazed that I didn't fall asleep. Maybe Moe is good for something after all.

Luckily, the eighth episode was an interesting filler story told through multiple perspectives. The twelfth and final episode wasn't a proper ending, but given that a second season had already been greenlighted at that stage it can be somewhat forgiven. It had a cool visual style, but the episode also had the worst ED I have ever heard. It seems as though it was made deliberately bad, but try telling that to my poor ears.

I say this about a lot of Anime, and this one is unfortunately no exception. There was potential, and yet it got squandered. The big shame was that it realised that potential straight off the bat, with episode one being really good (easily the best of the bunch). Watching the show get worse and worse, and more unfocused with each passing episode, really hurt. I'm not sure if this was the fault of the manga-ka or the staff of the Anime, but someone screwed up. I do not buy into the possibility that the first few episodes were an aberration.

I will watch the second season, and hope that it is written far more tightly. The introduction of a fan-favourite character should be interesting and hopefully invigorating; let's hope she isn't misused as well.

(The) World God Only Knows Season Two (TV) Very good
(The) World God Only Knows: Four Girls and an Idol (OAV) Good
(The) World God Only Knows: Goddesses Arc (TV) So-so
A disappointment after the first two seasons. This one dives straight into the best part of the Manga (apparently, if you believe the fans) without doing due diligence of laying proper foundational work. The show itself is clunky, messy and woefully incomplete. The story is scatterbrained, the plot open to numerous holes, and the enemies are not fleshed out at all. These twelve episodes hint at greater forces and mysteries but never addresses them, and most of the girls are sidelined for the majority of the show. The ending was also very rushed and anti-climatic. In fact, the pacing generally was subpar at best.

But its biggest problem is how believable the girls are. Keima has always been odd, but his so-called "conquests" at least possessed the hearts of 'actual' (figuratively speaking) girls, just wrapped in weird personalities and strange quirks. But Ayumi and Chihiro acted in no way like real girls, still clinging to Keima like mindless damsels even after he broke their hearts. Their actions and emotions were all over the place to a degree where even the worst daytime soap-operas would be proud of them. Which is doubly sad since those two were the most grounded and realistic of the girls in past seasons.

I'm going to put this show's weaknesses down to a poor adaptation attempt rather than weak source material, which makes me annoyed that we didn't get to see the level of quality it deserved. It has a lot of issues, which makes me question whether fans whether familiar with the Manga or not should bother with this lacklustre offering.

(The) World Is Still Beautiful (TV) Very good
World Record (OAV) Decent
WorldEnd (TV) So-so
X-Men (TV) Good
Yomigaeru Sora - RESCUE WINGS (TV) Decent
Yu-Gi-Oh! (TV 1/1998) Decent
Yu-Gi-Oh! (movie 1999) Weak
Yuki Yuna Is a Hero (TV) Decent
People can try and justify, explain or excuse the ending all they like but that doesn't change the fact that it was a major cop-out. Oh, those terribly tragic - yet emotionally moving - sacrifices the girls unwittingly (and in Karin's case, not so unwittingly) made? Oh, the universe waves its hand and all the girls get magically better for no reason other to have a feel-good ending. Don't get me wrong I don't like seeing girls suffer, but for eleven episodes there were valid and logical reasons for them to endure such trials. Their pain and distress were not only important to the plot, but utterly crucial for exploring the central themes of friendship, courage and heroism. Yet the writing threw all that away because of a pathetic fear of accepting the negative consequences of the scenario that the characters had been placed in. I've seen better endings in Saturday morning cartoons.
Yuyushiki (TV) Good
Although this fluffy Slice-of-Life Comedy will fade from memory quickly, it was enjoyable and never failed to brighten up my day. It was also rather soothing, a welcome break from more serious and intense shows.
Zaion: I Wish You Were Here (ONA) Bad
Zan Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (TV) Excellent
Zegapain (TV) Decent
I liked this show, and I still like it. But unfortunately, it has some problems that can't be ignored.

The character interactions are surprisingly strong and there are some notable scenes and scenarios. The idea of humanity - or what's left of it - being confined to looping worlds is an intriguing one, and the way the characters have to deal with and overcome the barriers was well-handled. I also found Ryoko's unique situation to be a fascinating one that really added a lot to her scenes in the show's second half.

You knew it was coming - the "but". See, this show may handle its core cast of character reasonably well, BUT, the writing outside of that sphere is very, very weak. It's so full of innumerable holes that if you simply start to think about them you could rip the entire show into tatters. Seriously, even I don't want to start, because I'm afraid I'd still be hours later trying to expand on just how flawed the writing is.

So where does that leave us? Good character interactions built on a foundation of writing that had some good ideas (borrowed liberally from other works such as The Matrix) but applied so very, very poorly. It also doesn't help that the show's CG visuals were truly awful. They clashed with the non-CG parts and looked like they were lifted directly from a video game.

And here comes the second "but". The show's writing of the setting and the plot was very bad, true, BUT, the characters make up for that. They aren't particularly special, but they are handled competently-enough and I could form an emotional connection. Plus, and this is important, the themes were very strong and well-explored.

In the end I thought I the narrative focus - which was on the characters rather than the plot or setting - was the show's saving grace. Yes, even though it meant an under-developed world, keeping the viewer's attention on the show's good points (characters and themes) was the correct decision. Lord knows that both the plot and setting weren't anything to write home about.

I recommend Zegapain to those who don't mind a character-driven story with some robots in it, and who don't get bugged by plot holes. But for the love of your deity of choice, do NOT listen to the dub. Little effort and practically no love was put into it, and it sadly doesn't get better with time either. Why Bandai, why?

Zetman (TV) Not really good
Zettai Shonen (TV) So-so
Zipang (TV) Excellent
Okay, so this show suffers from one of those non-endings that frequently plague Anime. It practically begs for a second season, although at least it didn't end on some sort of massive cliffhanger.

Of course it isn't going to get that second season, because this show doesn't appeal to many people, and that means it wouldn't be financially feasible to make another twenty-six episodes. That's a freaking crying shame, and also a decision which reflects on just how [email protected]#ing stupid most Anime fans are. This was an intelligent show for intelligent people, and so it doesn't appeal to the idiots who only want, well, whatever the crap idiots want nowadays.

You'll find no Moe in this, no Lolicon, no fanservice (not of the sexual kind; lots of the military kind), no moronic attempts to be "funny". There's only one female character who gets a recurring speaking role. All you'll find here is a notably intelligent plot driven by rather intelligent (and yet very human) characters. The pacing is slow, the animation nothing to write home about, the music solid but not incredible. And yet this is one of the best shows I've ever seen.

Should a second season be announced I would bump the grade up to Masterpiece with little hesitation. Because ignoring the (non-)ending, that's what it is. And for the sake of your soul, WATCH IT SUBBED.

Zoids (TV) Very good
Zoids/ZERO (TV) Good
Zoids: Fuzors (TV) Weak
Zoku Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (TV) Excellent