eyeresist's Anime

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Accel World (TV) Weak It's another living-in-a-videogame story. Technically well made. Having the hero be a short fat boy is interesting, though sometimes he is a total Shinji, which is annoying. The cartoonish way he is drawn makes the depiction of the bullying he suffers seem like a mockery. It's obviously based on an on-going manga, which explains why the main female character is away on holiday for the second half of the series. There's a bunch of drama, and a sort-of interesting concept, but ultimately it doesn't really feel like it means or says anything. Not a bad show in objective terms, but I won't watch again.
Ah! My Goddess (TV) Decent Not sure how to rate this. It's produced to a high standard, but the character interactions tend to the generic. It also never focuses on the one character long enough to become dramatically interesting. Some genuine laughs though. Worth a look.
Air (TV) Decent This is a much better adaptation of a dating game than Kanon, though still with flaws. The story is slow moving but touching and well-told. It's visually beautiful, and you get used to the hair. The different girls' stories are better integrated into the story than in Kanon, but most of the girls drop out halfway through the show. I think it would have been better to have the girls' stories all tie together in the end. It also would've been nice to get more background on the main character's relationship with his mother. The ending was sadly a bit of a mess: the time anomaly, and our hero disappearing/turning into a crow really weren't explained. There was also some bad writing in the final episode, with stupid lines for oba-san, and a thing with two children that meant either the writer had no idea how to write for kid characters, or else these were supposed to be some sort of cosmic watchers, which hadn't been foreshadowed at all. The two bonus episodes fill out the historic flashback, but some of the writing doesn't fit the expanded scenes well, and there's too much reliance on uncharacteristic gag humour. Also some annoying background music in the second episode. Apparently the previous issue of this series (by ADV, not Funimation) included a 13th "recap" broadcast episode. It's a damn shame that it wasn't included here.
Air (movie) Not really good This movie is a more realistic take on the central romance seen in the series. Apart from having a (different) stupid ending, the film shoots itself in the foot with its crazy style: constant use of "drawn" stills, light bloom, lens effects, blackouts, even bullet-time! This makes for a constantly irritating visual experience, which is a shame as the basic script is pretty good. Overall, you're better off watching the series (or possibly playing the game - I wouldn't know).
Air Master (TV) Very good It's a shame the English release was so screwed up. This fighting show is funny and consistently interesting, which makes up for the characters not really developing at all.
Akira (movie) Very good
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku (TV) Decent
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku DASH! (OAV) Weak Nuku Nuku Dash is a “re-imagining” of the original story as a magical girlfriend show. It has a few good moments, and it’s not painful to watch, but it’s not outstanding in any way. Nuku Nuku doesn’t have much personality, and neither does Ryunosuke (grown-up version of the character from the TV and alleged love-interest), or anyone else, if it comes to that. The episode stories are bland and the ending is formulaic and unconvincing. The best and most memorable parts were comedy moments involving Akiko, Ryunosuke’s mother. I think it would have been better if, instead of getting more serious, they’d gone the other way and made Nuku even stupider - she is supposed to have the brain of a cat, after all. Watching this show won’t kill you, but there’s better out there.
Amagi Brilliant Park (TV) So-so A highschool boy is asked to run a theme park which is staffed by refugees from a magical fantasy world. Unique concept, well made, but I'm not really interested in seeing it again, perhaps because the situations weren't relatable and the characters weren't especially interesting or likable. Nor was the plot or humour that great. Won't watch again.
And you thought there is never a girl online? (TV) Decent Online RPG players form a school club around a girl who can't distinguish between game and reality. Not exceptionally memorable or entertaining, just a solid, decent high school romantic comedy. I don't know if I'd ever watch again, but I don't regret seeing it.
Angel Beats! (TV) Weak This show grabbed my attention at the start, because it was visually sharp and colourful, the execution was energetic, and the premise was intriguing (though unable to withstand even cursory rational analysis). Sadly, it sags toward the second half, when it tries to get more serious. The big problem is that the characters are ciphers. Apart from the main guy, there is no attempt to round out any of the characters - even their cliche selling-points (e.g. the guy with the axe who is determined to protect the red-haired girl) are raised and dropped almost immediately, meaning the cast are basically indistinguishable. So, in what is supposed to be a climactic moment in which a girl gets her dream-come-true when a guy says he wants to marry her, I was just thinking "Why is he proposing? Do these characters even KNOW each other?" Because the whole series is directed towards a succession of big emotional payoffs, but doesn't make the characters believable, or even distinctive, it fails and is ultimately a waste of time.
(The) Animatrix (OAV) Good This collection of shorts is of very variable quality, but I rate it as good overall because of the highlight episodes Beyond, and Second Renaissance Parts 1 & 2.
anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (TV) Weak The ghost of a childhood friend re-enters the life of a teen boy who is alienated from his old gang. Disappointing. At first I had hopes that this would be pretty good. I liked the low-key domestic flavour, and the variety of different lifestyles of the characters. I was a little wary of the soap opera-like treatment of intense emotions, and one character's crossdressing habit, which is raised but then dropped as though the writers didn't know what to do. Sadly, the show blows it in the last act, when the characters start screaming their emotions at each other. It feels contrived and manipulative and not emotionally realistic. There was potential for depth here, but the writers just weren't up to the job. Will not watch again. [Annoyingly, Hanabee did not subtitle the next ep previews.]
Aoharu x Machinegun (TV) Decent A high school girl who looks like a boy is forced to join a survival game[Jap term]/airsoft[U.S. term] team with two older men who have a rule against female team members. -- The emotional moments and the fights are good, but in other ways this series falls short: The running sado-masochism theme isn't clever or funny, just an irritating time-filler; The plot structure is oddly messed up: Tachibana, the girl in question, is forced to join the team at the start of the series in order to pay off a debt, but what seems set up to be a long-running plot device is in fact resolved in ep three when her debts are dismissed. Then in ep 4 the team is invited to the big tournament, when you'd expect that's something the series would work up to, first concentrating on developing skills and teamwork in smaller matches. The idea of Tachibana keeping her sex a secret is repeatedly brought up, but no good reason is given for this secret to be maintained, so it becomes annoying. It has no thematic significance, it's just an under-developed plot device. And finally, Tachibana is regarded as a valuable team-mate even though she has no skills and can never hit anyone with her gun. Apparently she has "great battlefield instinct" and "guts", but that is of no use if she can't actually help the team to win. By halfway through the series, it becomes unbelievable that she is still on the team, given that she has no knowledge of tactics and is never able to hit an enemy. The only exceptions to this weakness are hitting a team-mate with a water gun, and one still frame in a montage towards the end that seems to suggest Tachibana may have successfully shot someone at some point. (I am also bothered that the story is based on this airsoft/survival game, in which players shoot rubber pellets, and there is an honour system of targets saying "hit" if they are successfullly shot. The basic mechanism of the game lacks drama; paintball would have been a much more effective option.) -- Not worthless; fairly entertaining despite its significant flaws.
Aquarion (TV) Weak Generic mecha show. Starts badly, improves a bit, but the characters, while varied and emotional, remain generic, as does the story. The director conceived the whole show around a mecha that can combine in different combinations, shame he neglected to come up with a decent story. He also had a scale model of the area around the heroes' base built to help artists get a sense of the spatial relations of the locations - didn't work; all scenes seem to be in some unreal anime environ unrelated to anything around it (same as Mai HiME). Music by overrated Yoko Kanno doesn't help.
Argento Soma (TV) So-so
Aria the Animation (TV) Weak It's a pastel-coloured world where there are no shadows and everybody's nice to each other. The basic problem is that the characters are basically happy people with no problems, and no desires that need filling, which means there's no drama or even emotional identification. There was some emotion in the episode where one girl decides to "punish" her left hand, and in the last couple of episodes, but it's too little, too late. Go for Haibane Renmei, Someday's Dreamers, Strawberry Marshmallow, or Figure 17, instead.
Arjuna (TV) Weak
Armored Trooper Votoms (TV) Bad I'm watching this to further my knowledge of the landmarks of anime history, and because some mecha fans have called this one of the all-time great shows. Sadly, it confirms my experience that most of the older shows really aren't very good compared even to the mediocre shows of today. In every respect - animation, story & dialog, action choreography - this show is primitive, and the sensibility behind it appears to be adolescent at best. Macross got better as it went on, but Votoms does not have similar potential.
Attack on Titan: Junior High (TV) Not really good This is a parody spin-off of Attack on Titan, with chibi versions of the characters in a high school comedy. The worst part is the look of the characters, especially the males: large adult heads on small bodies never stops being freaky to look at; the character designer should given them better proportions and made the faces look more childish. The titans don't play a big part in the show, and mostly remain monsters, even though they are attending the school next door. -- A lot of the show feels like rote school comedy, with no real laughs, but I've seen worse, and I _did_ enjoy the culture festival arc, particularly the food stall feud. -- A shame; if they'd been a little less faithful to AoT this would have been much better. Won't watch again.
Azumanga Daioh (TV) Very good The non-adventures of a group of high school girls. Charming and funny, but you need to be in the mood for some repetitive gags and schtick humour.
Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts (TV) Good First season good, second season bad.
Baka and Test - Summon the Beasts 2 (TV) Weak I don't understand why there was such a drastic quality drop between series 1 and 2, considering they have the same series writer and director. For comedy, series 2 relies almost entirely on female characters beating up or in other ways severely "punishing" the hapless male characters. This is a trope that, apart from its lack of psychological reality, has just never been very funny, and you'll be completely sick of it by halfway through the series. In the 2nd half there are a couple of tearjerking but fairly useless flashback episodes, and one decent story involving Yoshii and Mizuki, but then it's back to the beatings. Unlike the 1st series, there is very little avatar fighting and battle strategy, except for a tedious 3-ep arc set at a hot springs resort. Even if you loved the 1st series, you'll probably be better off avoiding this one.
Bakemonogatari (TV) Bad The first problem you encounter with this show is that it appears to be a sequel, but is actually the first in the series. This means that the main character becoming a vampire and then turned back into a human is mere backstory that is only alluded to; it's ridiculously unsatisfying. But that is not the worst part. The biggest problem with this show is the style. It is pretentious and vacuous. The visual composition is constantly calling attention to itself for no reason related to story, character or theme. And the dialog is mostly exposition without emotion, which is obviously meant to seem cool. I almost stopped watching about 8 minutes into the first ep, but managed to finish it. I will try to watch the 2nd ep, but I don't expect much improvement. // Watched 2nd ep (after many months delay), which focused more on plot and made me interested to watch 3rd ep, which unfortunately was mostly the same pretentious "witty" dialog as the 1st ep. The constant use of text on screen is an obvious influence of Hideaki Anno (i.e. His & Her Circumstances, the later eps of Neon Genesis Evangelion), but that's not a good thing. In this case it's an artificial complexity meant to show depth, wit and poetic sensibility, while in actuality it's just annoying wank. The deliberately odd repetitive music is another meaningless pretention. And behind all this display that's meant to look arty or important, this is just a standard based-on-a-dating-sim show (though as far as I know it's not based on a game, which makes the formulaic structure even more contemptable). // The passive male main character seems like another influence from Hideaki Anno, though in this case the character seems to be an out-right masochist in the way he puts up with an abusive female 'friend' who claims to care for him. // Finished watching. The supernatural element throughout the show was interesting, and there were some good emotional moments towards the end. The problem is this was undermined by the pretentious and twee presentation, a style that is present throughout the whole series. I won't watch this again.
Baki the Grappler (TV) Decent The first 13 episodes are great, as Baki struggles to become a better fighter, and we learn more about his past. Then the next season-and-a-half (into Grappler Baki Maximum Tournament) is a tournament with a bunch of he-men hitting each other. Baki doesn't get developed at all. For a moment it looks like he might have a love interest, but after he takes her to the tournament, we just occasionally see her looking wistful in the corridor, and that's it. A wasted opportunity.
Bakuman. (TV) Good The creators of the manga version of Bakuman (who also did Death Note) are not much good at realistic human relationships or emotions, but they are good at getting a compelling plot rolling along. The premise that the hero and heroine have resolved never to date until they've achieved their ambitions is unbelievable, but the two leads pushing themselves to become better mangaka is interesting and involving, as are the competing artists they eventually meet. Sadly season 1 ends on a cliffhanger, and it seems the subsequent seasons won't be released in the West. Also, this DVD release is notorious for shoddy subtitles, sometimes okay but sometimes lapsing into "Engrish". The free version currently on Youtube seems to be better in that respect.
Bamboo Blade (TV) Very good It's just so nice to see a high quality well-written anime for a change. Some of the characters don't get as much development as they should, but otherwise the drama is fine. My only real problem is with the very end of the final episode, which suddenly hints at dramatic new developments. I assume this was done to promote the ongoing manga, but the result was so frustrating, negating all sense of resolution, that I think it would probably have had a negative effect. I'm ignoring this for my rating.
Banner of the Stars (TV) Not really good
Banner of the Stars II (TV) Not really good
Basilisk (TV) Good The beginning is excellent, a combination of Ninja Scroll (movie & underrated TV) and period drama. Acting and art are great. Unfortunately, the most interesting characters die fairly quickly, and there is a very slow patch when the Iga faction are on a ship. Heroine Oboro is really another helpless lovelorn maid and not very interesting, and the conclusion was unconvincing, the obligatory tragic self sacrifice. Overall, still worth it for the art and dramatic fights.
BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (TV) Weak
Ben-To (TV) Decent First half is enjoyable, but in the second half it changes from a fighting show parody into an ecchi comedy with the hero being tormented in various ways. The first half of the series has a good arc which wraps up a bit quickly; there is a second fighting arc in the last couple of eps of the show, but the threat is a bit vague and the resolution is a bit soapy. I would have preferred a proper continuation of the fighting show parody (i.e. with the hero wanting to get stronger as he faces off against increasingly difficult foes). -- 2nd ep on disc 2 was the worst, and should be skipped.
Berserk (TV) Excellent Famous for its horrendous non-ending, but nonetheless worth seeing. Starts as a Conan-esque hack-and-slash, but develops with political intrigue and betrayal. Powerful stuff.
Best Student Council (TV) Bad So far, this is pretty lame cookie cutter stuff. Lots of "gags" which aren't funny, lots of stereotyped characters, some fairly predictable "secrets" in the mix. I can't rule out it getting better, but so far I'd say you're better off watching My-Hime (which I didn't like much either, but it's better than this) or Negima?!.
Beyond (OAV) Masterpiece [Segment of "Animatrix" anthology film]
(The) Big O (TV) Decent The art deco stylings of the Batman animated series crossed with the hero antics of the 1940s Superman cartoons - plus a giant robo in a city where everyone has lost their memories. Actually, that last bit is never quite explained. The first half is great, exciting and stylish. The second half gets more vague and mystical, but is still watchable.
Black Blood Brothers (TV) Decent BBB never really grips you, but it's pretty good. The opening is confusing, but makes more sense the second time around (in Japanese featurettes they often ask you to watch the DVDs twice, but in this case watching again really is a rewarding experience). The story isn't very vampirey (although they are definitely vampires), more light urban fantasy adventure. There are some interesting characters and some cool fights. The ending doesn't have a big resolution (the anime is based on an on-going light novel series), but at least does wrap up properly and on an up note. The Western DVD release includes Japanese audio commentary (subtitled) for each episode, which adds a nice amount of value if you decide to purchase. But you probably won't watch more than twice.
Black Butler (TV) Bad The central premise of the poor little rich boy guarded and served by the demon to whom he has sold his soul obviously has potential, but is ultimately not elaborated in a satisfying way, and is overwhelmed by terrible unfunny comedy throughout the series. And the scheme of the central villain makes no sense.
Black Cat (TV) Not really good First couple of eps are style over substance, then things settle into an enjoyable shonen-type show for the first half, following a likable mix of chars on their adventures. -- This falls apart in the 2nd half, starting with an ep in which Train meets a girl in the mountains who resembles his dead friend: There is intriguing stuff here, but the visuals (frame composition and backgrounds) are mediocre, and the story itself is pointlessly fragmented. Train keeps suddenly waking up in a new scene, and in the end no satisfying explanation of the girl's background is forthcoming. -- After this, the 2nd half of the series is mostly fighting, which gets hard to care about after a while. In the battle against Creed, an annoying device is introduced: showing the end of the fight at the beginning. The final battle is again pointlessly fragmented, following dozens of different characters, AND cutting between past, future and fantasy. In the end, the good will generated by the first half of the show, with likable chars interacting and having varied adventures, is frittered away on relentless action and fragmented narrative. Won't watch again.
Black Lagoon (TV) Good Terrific production values, and a great feeling of adventure. There isn't an overriding story, as I understand it, just a series of arcs, which makes it feel a little odd structurally. Also, I have a problem with any story that glamourises piracy - just you try sailing around SE Asia, and see how glamourous it feels if you get raided!
Black Rock Shooter (TV) Bad A series about a group of school girls who experience angst, which is played out symbolically in spectacular fights which take place in a sort of dream world. After an intriguing start, this show quickly stumbles due to mishandling its premise. Problem is, you'd suppose the fights would reveal subtext and thus touching emotional issues. Instead, in the real world, there is no subtext: the characters bellow their feelings and thoughts at each other in the most obvious way, meaning there's nothing left to reveal. Meanwhile, the alt-world combatants are emotionless dolls, meaning this part of the show is spectacular but has zero emotional resonance. If they'd done it the other way around, this show might have worked. As it is, it is a failure.
Blade (TV) Decent Of Western-produced anime, I've seen Animatrix (mixed results), Supernatural (terrible), and now this, because I like the Blade live action series and movies. Character design of the Blade character is a bit odd, with relatively small eyes visible through small sunglasses. There's also something odd about his lips, and I wish his skin was a bit darker. I do like that they use the baldhead look of the live TV. Pacing of fights is problematic in the first episode - too many long unjustified pauses - but improves in later eps. The use of various Asian vamp varieties adds interest, although there's not much you can do to make a tiger-headed man look believable, apart from cutting around him (which they do). The plot is not deep, certainly not as mature as the live TV, but is a series of enjoyable adventures, culminating in a super-epic final battle. The tone is pretty serious throughout. From the little I've heard of it, the US dub is pretty decent, and different enough in content to maybe make it worth watching both versions (the US version also adds to the soundscape in an interesting way).
Blast of Tempest (TV) Weak A pretty well-done action fantasy thriller. I didn't really love the characters, as I felt an emotional distance from them somehow. Also, there were scenes with a LOT of talking, including one confrontation that lasts for five episodes - virtually no action, just talking, and that "clever" logical thinking of the type we saw in Death Note. Will not watch again.
Blood Lad (TV) Weak In the Yokai world, a vampire gang leader becomes enamoured of a human ghost. The characterisations are flat and the humour isn't funny, but after a while the story intrigues and you want to see more. Then the show ends. Without a satisfying ending, it's not worth watching again.
Blood+ (TV) Weak Another disappointment from Production IG. The OVA had a stupid script but dramatic, colourful visuals, and a dark, gritty feel. The TV doesn't have those positives, but it does have: standard anime plotting, a heroine with two identities which are never sufficiently explained, some bishonen international villains, an invulnerable assistant to the heroine who is never asked "Who the hell ARE you anyway?", the requisite undercover-in-an-all-girl-convent-school arc, and extremely bland visuals. Very occasionally there is an unexpected quality increase, as though another director took over for a few minutes, but overall this is a real letdown after expectations raised by the OVA, and is best approached as filler if you have nothing else to watch.
Blood: The Last Vampire (movie) Weak This original video animation was made partly as a tech demo by Production IG, and released in 2000. I didn't much like it when I first saw it, and the passage of time has been unfavourable. The tech they were showing off (light effects, filters, limited use of 3D CGI) now looks very dated, and the rest of the anime is not good enough to make up for it. The character design is very inconsistent: the female designs are good (Saya, the nurse), but the men all look terrible - all the white guys look like zombies! A lot of the animation is surprisingly limited, considering this was supposed to be a visual spectacular. I guess, as we've seen with other productions, they were relying on CG razzle-dazzle to carry the show, which never works out. Interestingly, the audio features both English and Japanese voice actors. Sadly, the acting is truly terrible. The US actors represent the worst aspects of the typical dub: unmotivated, lacking sincerity and character, really bottom-of-the-barrel stuff. The guy playing the black guard sounds like they just grabbed some schlub off the street! The Japanese actors are a bit better in their original language (though far from excellent), but their English acting is terrible; the nurse in particular sounds like she doesn't understand a word she's saying. The story has potential, but the writing doesn't have much flare, and the story doesn't develop the characters sufficiently to make them interesting; the final scene with the photo labelled "vampire" is a bit too obvious. This anime may be of interest for historical reasons, or if you absolutely have to see everything with "vampire" in the title, but is otherwise best avoided.
Blue Exorcist (TV) So-so
Blue Gender (TV) So-so From the same guy who did Gasaraki, and Armored Troopers VOTOMS, which I haven’t seen. Like Gasaraki, the visual style is harsh, deliberately unpretty, dark and drab with ugly character designs. The action scenes felt a bit removed, and the alien “core” that you had to shoot to kill the bugs seemed silly after a while. (One reviewer complained that the show cheaped-out by having the mecha run on wheels in their feet; I think it’s actually a sensible idea for moving on level surfaces, using less energy and causing less wear-and-tear.) The OP was awful, but BG music was pretty good, when I noticed it - dark low-key techno or somber orchestral, which suited the mood. OST might be worth buying. Acting and sound were okay, not special. The back-story was interesting, but the script was sometimes cliched or contrived, and seemed over-extended at 26 episodes. The end was the usual mystical hoohah. I like to see anime that does things a bit differently, but while I found the show interesting in parts, I think the not-good bits ultimately outweigh those parts. I’d say Gasaraki is a more satisfying viewing experience.
Bodacious Space Pirates (TV) So-so
Boogiepop and Others (live-action movie) Good
Boogiepop and Others (TV 2019) Not really good Boogiepop Wa Warawanai. This 18 episode series adapts four of the Boogiepop novels in arcs of unequal length. 1. The first novel is crammed into three episodes. The writing is awkward and confusing, with unsympathetic characters. The timeskips are unnecessary and badly managed. It is interesting that the live-action movie managed to tell this story so much better in a similar timeframe. 2. The next 6-ep arc tells the "VS Imaginator" story, and suffers from the same bad writing, right from its un-set-up, un-paid-off opening scene. 3. The third arc of 4 eps is the most successful of the show: it tells a straight-forward story focused on only a few characters. Towards the end there are some wild leaps of story logic and some cheesy dialog, but overall it works. 4. The final 5 ep arc is the worst part of the series. It consists mostly of various characters wandering around in a dream world and having enigmatic conversations with a very vague antagonist. The set-up of the story, with masses of people queueing to see inside a bizarre, huge and uninhabitable building in the middle of the city, is ludicrous. The reveal at the end, that the entire situation was the result of the schemes of two entirely unrelated non-villains, is just silly and anticlimactic. This arc is also the point of the series at which the large number of barely differentiated characters becomes a chore to mentally keep track of. ... Was this last arc based on a novel, or was it original to the series? Given how bad the writing for the series as a whole was, I'm prepared to give the original novelist some benefit of the doubt, but I'm not sure how better execution could have saved the worst of these ideas. ... It's a shame the show is so poorly written, as the rest of the production staff have done a good job. I especially liked how the sound design was obviously influenced by the Boogiepop Phantom series. I will probably watch this again, but I'll stop watching after ep 13.
Boogiepop Phantom (TV) Masterpiece I've read the first couple of books and seen the live-action movie, but the anime is best of all! Brilliant art and sound, atmosphere consistently f***in' grim. The only downside is that episode 6 is weak (it's a sentimental ghost story which doesn't play by the rules of the series), and it's sometimes hard to tell the characters apart.
Burst Angel (TV) Not really good What a disappointment! I rented volumes 1 and 3 and enjoyed, so bought the box. Sadly, the plot never comes together despite some promising hints, the characters never do anything interesting, the central guy character basically disappears from the show, and the whole thing feels like it was done just for the money.
Buso Renkin (TV) Weak I've seen the first half of this, as it has occasionally been mentioned in the same breath as S-Cry-Ed. While that show has an original premise, generating additional interest by making the landscape a part of the story, Buso Renkin is a very generic shonen story. There are dozens, possibly hundreds of mangas with nearly identical high-school-student-fights-monsters plots. The first episode generates interest with an outlandish battle and some nifty action animation. Within a few episodes, the fights, opponents and animation have become much more generic. Some interest persists because of the characters Tokiko (mysterious fighting girl with cool scar) and Papillon (freakily pervy gay villain), but the rest of the show is dull, including the hero, who lacks any interesting qualities. For the supposed hero, his fights are uninteresting, a real mistake on the part of the anime makers. I also found the writing during the school-under-seige arc painfully cliched: "Oh no, the students think we are the enemy and hate us!" "Yay, now they like us again!" It really was that simplistic. At the moment, I'm torn as to whether I should bother with the second half of the series. I've heard it improves, but I doubt it could be by much.
Busou Shinki (TV) Not really good This being a show about miniature robot girls, I bought it in the hope it might be something like Chobits. It's actually a moe show, as well as a way to sell figurines. After the first couple of eps there is actually a bit of drama, and overall I didn't hate watching it. It was sometimes quite interesting to see how the plot would unfold, but I couldn't relate at all to the characters. Unlikely to watch again.
CANAAN (TV) Weak Flashy junk.
Case Closed (TV) Good AKA Detective Conan. I've watched the first two seasons of this long-running murder mystery show. It's compulsive viewing, but in the second season the formula becomes repetitive (it feels like half the episodes were set in remote country mansions). As usual with this genre, the murders are crazily elaborate, in a way which makes the killer much easier to catch! Unlike most modern mysteries, the endings are highly moralistic - murder is ALWAYS wrong, even if the victim has deliberately destroyed countless lives. I enjoyed the mix of old school art and gruesome killings. I recommend the first season; the second season isn't quite on that level. I don't know how the series proceeds after that. (The DVDs are stupidly programmed without a chapter stop after the end credits, so if you cue forward during the credits, you'll miss the post-credits epilogue section.)
Castle in the Sky (movie) Decent
A Certain Magical Index (TV) Weak It started quite well, but quickly deteriorated into a generic scattershot of shonen cliches, with nothing really interesting or affecting or funny. The DVD release also featured some really clumsily written subtitles.
A Certain Scientific Railgun (TV) Not really good
Chaika - The Coffin Princess (TV) So-so This fantasy epic is well produced but the writing (based on a manga or light novel) lacks freshness and originality. The story is a fairly predictable fantasy quest. Characterisation is adequate but without depth and tending to stereotypes, and continues the habit of the fantasy genre of raising murderers, mercenaries and thieves to hero status (while others with the same qualities are portrayed as villains for the sake of plot mechanics). The title character is a generic good-hearted genki girl, who the heroes support although her quest is mysterious, morbid and likely to cause disaster. The one really fresh aspect is this girl confronting the fact that she has been given artificial memories and is only the tool of another's scheme. It should also be mentioned that unusual effort was put into the fight and battle scenes. -- Despite my negative assessment, I enjoyed watching and could watch again some day. The bonus episode was good, with only mild fanservice in the second half.
Chaika - The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle (TV) So-so See review for first series.
Chance Pop Session (TV) Not really good Standard idol plot that doesn't pretend to be something it's not. First half quite watchable, though the three girls really lack in the personality department. Second half drags due to full songs playing over montage visuals, often the same songs repeated. Unfortunately the songs are bland and forgettable. The ending didn't make use of its opportunity for a big emotional catharsis.
Chaos;HEAd (TV) Not really good The first ep makes a high impact, and suggests the show will be a combination of 'Welcome To The NHK' and 'When They Cry'. Sadly, the show becomes more formulaic as it goes on, as the hero accumulates a harem of girls and witnesses a series of not very interesting fights. There is also some moronic pseudoscientific gobbledygook to justify the plot, and I just didn't buy the various big character moments toward the end.
Chobits (TV) Very good It's a very simple sitcom premise, brilliantly carried out. For me, the only problem is the dramatic arc that emerges in the second half of the series, which I thought was really superfluous - it didn't make the show more exciting, it just distracted from the best part of the show, which is the awkward tutelage of Chi by her "master" Hideki. If Chi hadn't done a Pinocchio at the end, I reckon they could have got another good season out of it.
Chrono Crusade (TV) Bad
Clannad (TV) Decent
Cluster Edge (TV) Not really good Cluster Edge is a shonen ai-lite show set in an alternate steampunk world. Most of the main characters have names related to minerals - Agate Fluorite, Beryl Jasper, Sulphur, Lode (which for some reason is usually translated as ‘Rhodo’). Character designs and action animations are good, but layouts and backgrounds are really drab and uninteresting. Story is potentially interesting, but the script is banal and stereotypical. Possibly the original Japanese was more interesting - I did notice one bit in the sub which may have been a bit of shonen ai humour, but generally this aspect didn’t come out (if you’ll pardon the pun). The biggest problem is that the characters are cliched and, worse, dull. Their interactions pad out the show but just aren’t very interesting. Overall, it's not abysmal, but there’s not much value or enjoyment to be found here.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV) Decent This show can be criticised for its cookiecutter elements (i.e. dystopian future goverment fought by high school student in mecha) and for a couple of unbelievable plot moments, but overall energy and competence of execution carries you through. Only real problem is it ends on a big cliffhanger (see R2 series).
Comic Party (TV) So-so
Coppelion (TV) Awful Three special girls are sent to investigate post-disaster Tokyo. The characters are very 2-dimensional, and two of them are prone to get hysterical (in order to create drama). The art style is annoying, with thick lines drawn around all the chars. Forgettable OP/ED. Unbearable. Did not finish.
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Decent
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Weak
Coyote Ragtime Show (TV) Weak
Crest of the Stars (TV) Not really good Apart from the lead character having a head like a mushroom (he looks much more normal in the manga), the problems with this show, and its sequels Banner of the Stars I and II, go back to the original novels. Character development is skimped, and the central romance is pretty uninteresting. The plot of this first series veers all over the place, from a space battle to on-the-run on an enemy planet, via a particularly stupid section in which a crazy baron wants to capture the heroine to make her his bride. Our interest is supposed to come from watching our beloved characters face adversity, but as they're fairly flat and uninteresting, the whole thing feels rather contrived and strange. Overall, despite some grandiosity in the space battles, it feels like B-grade sci-fi pulp.
Cromartie High School (TV) Weak Wacky stuff. I was enticed by the Freddy Mercury-alike character, but this show is too self-consciously quirky and not actually very funny.
D-Frag! (TV) Good A high school comedy about a boy forced to join the Game Creation Club. I did not like this at first, as it seemed to be a standard harem show with the male being repeatedly abused. But after a couple of eps that element subsided and a rather odd sense of humour came out. For the middle part of the series, I had a number of good laughs. The last part of the series is less interesting, because it's an extended battle, and because it's against a group of new characters who suddenly appear, who we have no attachment to. It should also be mentioned that the hero's two male friends vanish from the show after a while (predictably), but on the other hand the show does have a couple of regular characters who are not actually in the club, which is refreshing.
D.Gray-man (TV) Decent Bland hero, pointless mascot, starts with exposition dump - but gets interesting with decent characters and intriguing villains. -- The second season is inconsistent, as though they had several teams doing alternate eps and one team was really bad. Cat girl/blind assassin was a bland character & a stupid arc; her maid was more interesting. -- There was a sequel/reboot series 10 years later called D.Gray-man Hallow - it had a dub, so it may be on dvd?
Dai-Guard (TV) Not really good A tribute to the old live action monster movies as well as the giant robot, the twist is that the mecha is run by the publicity department of a bureaucratic company. It's not a bad show, but there is nothing in the way of story, character or art to make it especially interesting. A decent watch, but certainly not worth seeking out.
Dance in the Vampire Bund (TV) Decent Interesting elements, but progressively bogged down by cliches.
Darker than Black (TV) So-so ***SPOILERS*** Watchable, but despite its flair the story and characters are fairly generic and never rise above an adolescent idea of what is "cool". There are also some major flaws in the drama: (1) The main character is passive and lacks personality, carrying out assigned missions with no personal interest in the outcome; at the end we learn that in fact the big conflict has been happening off-screen with other characters, and our hero is only called in because he has the magic energy they need. (2) The female police detective character is also quite bland; she serves a function in the plot, but is not interesting enough to be a main focus. The two weakest episodes are centred around her ('The White Dress, Stained with the Girl's Dreams and Blood', parts 1 & 2, episodes 9 and 10). (3) The other characters are all generic shonen manga/anime types too. (4) The old psychic lady is a useless and very annoying side-character. She is supposed to be a vital part of the observatory, but all she does is blather "poetically" about the stars, and before that apparently hadn't spoken for years. How exactly is she useful? (5) The influence of Japanese gangster stories is overdone, with the Syndicate ordering various kills for no logical reason except for characters to die stoically. (6) Towards the end, many "contractors" battle to enter Pandora and die in huge numbers. Meanwhile, our main characters enter with little trouble (two drive right past the troops, who yell "Hey!"). (7) The climax is the usual mystical malarky of the hero having vague conversations with symbolic and/or dead characters, and not practically addressing the problems of the plot.
Darker than Black - Kuro no Keiyakusha: Gaiden (OAV) So-so
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (TV) So-so This is better than the original series because Hai actually has some personality and takes part in the main plot. However, the story and characters still ultimately never rise above shonen stereotypes, and the ending is stupid - they create an entire duplicate Earth, and for what? The original Earth is still there, stuck with contractors etc.
Deadman Wonderland (TV) Not really good The first episode is intriguing and well done. After this, though, the show becomes very generic, with stereotyped characters and unconvincing dramatic situations. Also, the fights are not very interesting.
Death Note (TV) Decent SPOILERS! The series develops the characters a bit more than the movies, though they still remain ciphers to an extent. The most interesting part is when Light loses his memory, and we get to compare his newly innocent self with his evil self, although this does show up how Light's moral corruption at the beginning of the series wasn't really shown in enough depth. Problems: Light is supposed to be a genius, but most of his schemes are ridiculously flawed. Dramatic interest steeply declines after L dies, and a pair of cookie cutter replacements appear. There was much potential in the machinations of the cult that developed around Kira, but this was sadly skimmed over. So the last 3rd is sadly a bit of a waste, but the end is very touching.
Death Parade (TV) Weak In a bar in the afterlife, host Decim judges pairs of souls. There are some good emotional moments, but for a show about the judging of souls it lacks insight into morality, or the nature of the universe. A number of the soul judgements seems arbitrary, unforgiving, or unfair (e.g. a good person can choose to go to the bad place in place of a bad person). Elderly characters are always judged as good. Decim and the other afterlife characters seem two-dimensional; their motives and interactions lack interest. Not painful to watch, but I won't watch again. -- [It also bugs me that the souls judged over the first two eps were misjudged - the woman deliberately made herself look bad to save her worthless husband, and none of the other characters has the insight to recognise this. Did the writers even know what they were doing here?]
Desert Punk (TV) Good SPOILERS: Kind of an updating of Trigun. The "hero" is amazingly crass and self-centred, but luckily the show manages to make this genuinely funny and not as low-brow as it should be. The other characters are interesting and likable, and the emergence of the underlying plot is intriguing. Art, acting and sound are all top-notch. Shame about the ending (Desert Punk becomes a baddy; then there's a huge explosion and all the characters die). If they don't make a second series, this mark should be dropped down a few notches.
(The) Devil is a Part-Timer! (TV) Good A comedy about a demon prince who is trapped on Earth and becomes good. Not hugely original, but well made and enjoyable.
Dimension W (TV) Weak This started well, in a future world revolutionised by mysterious "Coils" which provide limitless energy, with a protagonist who rejects Coils for some unknown reason. The first three eps made the show look like it was going to be interesting and fun, but then things went downhill with a cliched two-ep haunted house murder mystery. -- As things went along, the show wasn't terrible, but the main characters didn't develop, and writer's hand on the plot was obvious, with the result that the show became emotionally uninvolving. The stereotypical evil villain at the end didn't help. The actions scenes were well done, though I'd still prefer hand-drawn to CGI. A time-filler of no real value.
Divergence Eve (TV) Decent I'll need to watch it again. As I recall, it's an odd mix of big-breasted fan service and apocalyptic hard-sf horror. Surprisingly gripping to the end, but Eng lang release put the second last episode first in the series, I guess so people would realise it's more than just fan service.
Divine Gate (TV) Not really good I don't regret watching it, but it's really a mess and not very good. GOOD: The emotional moments in the first half are the best bit; the art is not bad; the fights are not too tedious. BAD: Really bad music choices in first ep, goofy when it should be serious; this ruins the intro of the characters. Pretentious voiceovers in first half of series. Lots of underdeveloped characters. Some potentially interesting beast-people are introduced but then killed off. The design of the mystical Gate realm is overdone and frivolous - cool for cool's sake - and there's no attempt to make the layout or physics of the place make sense. ~ The series resets halfway through in a way that is a bit jarring. The Norse gods become obsessed with stopping the main chars whereas they had seemed uninterested when introduced. The way a bunch of dead characters are revealed to have been saved at the end feels unbelievable and very cheap, and why weren't other dead characters also saved? ... For me, the biggest problem is that the show just has too many characters. I think having dozens of characters is how mediocre writers compensate for not being able to do character depth. Won't watch again.
Dog & Scissors (TV) Decent The problem with this one is it's obviously made for (or by) S&M fetishists. It's not as extreme as some shows, but the main female character constantly abuses the male one (who has been reincarnated as a dog) which is supposed to be funny but isn't, and this just gets more annoying as the trope is repeated. (This female character also harbours a romantic desire to marry the male character, which doesn't make sense when she also abuses him and regards him with contempt.) The fem character's assistant is a super-masochist. -- Still somewhat enjoyable. I enjoyed the literary aspect (the female character and several others are novelists; the male is obsessed with books).
Dragon Ball (TV) So-so I really liked this at the start, but eventually lost interest, and had to drop the rating a notch. Probably works best as a weekly broadcast, not a marathon.
Durarara!! (TV) Weak
Dusk maiden of Amnesia (TV) Very good A romantic comedy (with drama moments) about a high school girl ghost and a high school's occult club. Ep 6 (I think; maybe ep 5?) was bad, overstylised, unrelatable, and finale was slightly rote, but overall good and enjoyable.
Eden of the East (TV) So-so
Elemental Gelade (TV) Weak
Elfen Lied (TV) Weak Overrated. It's a great IDEA for a show (and the OP/ED is good), but the actual story is shallow and cliched. I think a lot of people rate this show because they saw it early in their anime development, and didn't realise this stuff has been done better elsewhere (notably in Gunslinger Girl).
Emma: A Victorian Romance (TV) Good
Ergo Proxy (TV) Bad GOOD: The moody production design is appealing. BAD: phony soap opera characterisations (disguised by low key mood) with actions driven by plot rather than character; a lot of pointless dream sequences; pointless filler episodes in 2nd half; bitch of a heroine; male lead physically changes between egg-shaped nebbish and strong-jawed hero depending on script requirements. Pretentious philosophy references.
Eureka Seven (TV) Weak ***SPOILERS*** After a very promising start, this show went on at a reasonably good level for a while. In the second half it started to drag, and this got worse as the show went on, becoming really drawn out over the last couple of volumes - 50 episodes was just too long. A few of the episodes had notably bad writing, which typically involved characters acting like they were in a cliched melodrama. Worst of all was the premise, which dawned on me as the plot was gradually revealed: the heroes were doing the usual stuff, resisting the evil government forces and fighting to protect people they cared about, but it turned out they were also fighting to protect an alien organism which had covered the entire Earth and absorbed every living thing on it! By the end I was really rooting for the "villains". The happy ending of the series is that "only" half the human population are absorbed into the alien. After watching End of Evangelion, I think I'm seeing an anime pattern - for the socially isolated, emotionally repressed Japanese, being absorbed into one big gloopy world-soul seems to be only a good thing. For less alienated people, however, it seems like a scary way to lose your individuality and freedom. This is especially paradoxical in Eureka Seven, where, in the first half, our rebellious heroes express their freedom from conventional society through the symbolic activities of surfing and underground techno. This element of the show would've been better served by a more pro-individual plot. (Though I guess, in the context of Eureka Seven, these "rebellious" activities turn out to serve the purpose of group bonding and formation of group identity.)
Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (movie) Very good
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (movie) Good The story suffers from being a "middle" episode, so it can't really establish or resolve anything. The new character doesn't seem to have much personality yet. Apart from that, it has some good fights, and sets things up nicely for the next episode. Tsuzuku!
Excel Saga (TV) Decent
Fafner (TV) Not really good Rahxephon was a good/okay rip-off of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Fafner is a competent/uninspired rip-off of Rahxephon. Why?!?
Fantastic Children (TV) Decent I've seen this praised, but I think it's overrated. It's okay, but the characters aren't as rounded as they could be, and the drama never really convinces. Might've been better at half the length.
Figure 17 (TV) Decent Underrated. Interesting 45min-long format (you have to concentrate a bit more to make it through an episode - but it's better than those annoying 12 minute shows!). Should be popular with fans of Miyazaki's films.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (movie) Weak The only reason to watch this is the fantastic CGI work. Apart from that element, the fight scenes are rendered unbelievable by their complete ignoring of the laws of physics, and the drama cannot compensate for this, as it too is shallow and unbelievable. This movie is really just a very expensive screen-saver.
First Love Monster (TV) Weak While superficially a romantic comedy, this is really an ecchi show without nudity. Perverted characters include: a guy obsessed with little boys, a girl who steals her love object's underwear and huffs it, a possessive brother who collects his sister's discarded food and bathwater, and a sadist "with a heart of gold" who tries to rape the heroine in the second episode. These are all played as quirky characters typical of a rom com. -- The main story is about a teenage girl who becomes the girlfriend of a 10-year-old boy. The boy looks like a grown man, as do his friends (but the other primary schoolers don't), and this is never explained. The boy and his friends engage in "amusing" childish antics. There isn't any emotional depth outside of the main character, who is a complete doormat. -- Not the worst, but not worth watching again.
FLCL (OAV) So-so I loved this when I first saw it, but now I think that the animation and experimentation are great, but the story and characters are too contrived - just an excuse for the animation, which is not what I want from an anime.
Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma (TV) Decent For some reason I went into this expecting some depth, but I was wrong. This is basically a fighting show with a high school setting. There is absolutely no psychological depth to the characters, and no real themes beyond the usual "do your best" stuff. On the plus side, unlike most fighting shows the fights are limited to one episode (apart from the final tournament, which stretches over four or five). -- The descriptions of food (during the cooking battles) are really the feature of the show, but as we can't smell or taste the dishes it does feel a bit redundant after a while. -- There is a lot of unneeded fanservice in the first part of the season, particularly to do with people's reactions to food (the girls suddenly become naked and orgasm, basically). Thankfully this dies off after a while. -- Despite this shallowness, the tournament format does hook you, and I am a bit interested to see the next season. However, there are two seasons beyond that (so far) which have yet to be released in English, and I don't want to get stuck with some unending shonen series, so I may not bother. (spoiler: I did bother)
Food Wars! The Second Plate (TV) Good Okay. The characters get more development. The tournament ends and we get to see the students deal with real-world restaurants. (One wonders how the series could ever end. Would it run until the main character graduates? Would it in fact continue with him as a pro chef?)
Fractale (TV) Weak It's frustrating, as the old school Miyazaki-style designs are appealing and the initial concept is intriguing, but the plot is irritating in its flaws. It combines science fiction (a society stultified by technological paradise) with silly fantasy (as it turns out, the soul and cloned body of a young girl have to be combined to reboot the failing system). Other animes have combined sci-fi and fantasy, but in this case the fantasy undermines the serious social point the sci-fi tries to make. -- There is also the moral problem that we are supposed to root for a group of heroes who are basically wrong (Eureka 7 had the same problem). The freedom fighters our hero falls in with are shameless murderers (there's a massacre in ep 3 which is then forgotten until the finale). -- Also, their cause doesn't justify their actions: people having their needs filled by all-powerful system is bad? Then surely we ought to get rid of the internet right now, and in fact any form of social organisation that people depend on (I'm sure a few genuinely think like that, but they are idiots). These freedom fighters are ready to kill without limit or remorse, in order to destroy Fractale, and that destruction will cause thousands or millions more deaths. -- (Also, membership of Fractale is not compulsory, and these heroes could easily live a peaceful life outside the Fractale system, and change the world just by setting a good example. Instead they want to impose their views onto other people by force. They are basically fundamentalist terrorists.) -- The finale introduces child sexual abuse as a plot device, which is a bit tasteless, but also relies on repressed memories and/or multiple personalities (these are both popular notions which have been scientifically invalidated) to explain the big twist (which is really not much of a twist).
Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club (TV) Not really good Teenage boys form a swimming club at school. There is a mysterious rivalry with a former friend who is now at another school. -- The water animations are very good (though I recall a moment in ep three when the walk animations looked pretty bad). The show is quite fanservicey, with muscular young men in swimming trunks. At first I thought the show was queerbaiting (suggesting gay romance/attraction without committing), but that died down and the show resolved fairly mundanely. -- The writing is decent, with a couple of moving moments towards the end, but I didn't really care about most of the main characters, who are pretty flat and remain basically the same throughout. Although there is one genki character and the swimming races are energetic, the show actually feels a little gloomy. Also, there are no girls swimming at all, here or in the sequel series, which seems unrealistic. Are girls not allowed to swim in Japan?
Free! Eternal Summer (TV) Not really good Sequel to Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club (TV). More of the same. Mostly not very interesting, but picks up in last few eps when Haru actually shows some emotion. Won't watch again.
(The) Fruit of Grisaia (TV) So-so For the first nine episodes, the show was much better than expected. Although the setup looked like a cliched harem show, the execution was excellent, the writing was good, the characters were endearing, and there were some real heart-warming moments. It helped that none of the characters were really harem types: the male wasn't a wimp or a sex maniac, none of the girls was an exhibitionist or a prude, and only one of them had any romantic interest, which was only revealed near the end of the series. ... What let this part of the show down was the fanservice. It died down after a while, as it tends to do, but at first it was really embarrassing - by which I mean I felt embarrassed for the show at degrading its good qualities in such a crude and gratuitous way. The writing and characters were so good that the fanservice was really a betrayal of that quality. Based on this part of the show, I expected to give the show a good rating. ... Sadly the last four episodes had a drastic change in tone that failed to live up to preceding part of the show. There was a three-ep arc which was a flashback about a group of stranded schoolgirls who we knew were going to die. It was depressing, and worse than that, it was boring. I ended up watching the second half of it at x2 speed just to get past it. ... It didn't help that the male char's sister, who appeared in this flashback, was obnoxious. She was obviously meant to be quirky and likeable, but she was mostly irritating. I think the main problem here was the voice actress. ... The last episode was a bit better in that it returned to the school location and the main characters, but the tone remained fairly nasty. The ending hinted at more obnoxious characters and uninteresting action to come in the next season, plus the return of the unlikeable sister, so I doubt I will follow-up the sequel. ... Eps 1-9 = heart-warming, well-written school dramedy with some unfortunate fanservice. Eps 10-13 = morbid and grotesque in tone, like When They Cry s1 without the style. No more development for the main chars, just new elements to keep the plot going. Plus an unconvincing romantic development.
Fruits Basket (TV) Masterpiece Fruits Basket should be a pretty average show. It's a sort-of reverse harem show, with okay animation, a one-note heroine, and a repetitive plot that sort of tails off without a proper ending. But some people love Fruits Basket. I mean, really LOVE it. And I confess I’m one of them. I guess the most important thing is that I can really identify with most of the characters. This show is about people with problems they feel trapped by, and how Tohru, by being utterly selfless and loving, helps the people around her to feel better about themselves. That may sound sappy, but it’s done with complete conviction, and it works. The art is simple but stylish. The OP/ED themes are beautiful. The acting (sub) is great - especially Tohru. There is a high bishounen component to this show, and some light shonen-ai. Sadly, a sequel looks doubtful, as several story elements were changed from the manga, making continuation difficult.
Full Metal Panic! (TV) Decent
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (TV) Good
Fullmetal Alchemist (TV) Decent
Fushigi Yugi (TV) Bad One of the most mediocre shows I've seen in ages. I'm usually forgiving as far as limited animation is concerned, but too much of this show is still frames, for my tolerance. Frame composition is banal, and it looks like they've just copied the manga panels with no attempt to convert for the animated format. The story is generic, the characters are all flat and boring, and the music is bland and second-rate too. It might impress newbies, but everyone else should really not waste their time and money on this.
(The) Future Diary (TV) Good Pretty good, but after a while some unlikely things happen for plot convenience, and (like most dramatic animes) it doesn't stick the landing. There is an ending, but it doesn't satisfactorily resolve the character issues. Plot could be described as "Death Note with balls".
Ga-Rei-Zero (TV) Bad
Gad Guard (TV) Not really good
Galaxy Angel (TV) Bad How do you rate a comedy that is well made but not actually funny? I laughed once in the first volume, at the robot beating the guy at chess and then apologising for ruining the one thing that gave his life meaning. Now you know the joke, you don't need to watch the show. How did they get all those sequels out of this?
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) Decent Amazing visuals, of course. The plot, based on the classic French thriller, is good too, but starts to drag in the second half. The hero becomes annoying; eventually all he does is impotently cry and complain. We might have identified with his disorientation better if the show hadn't made clear all the details of the machinations and betrayals going on around him. I don't think the Gankutsuou element added anything to the story either. It's a shame, probably due to the director being same as of Blue Submarine #6, famous for great visuals and empty plot.
Gantz (TV) Good
Gasaraki (TV) Decent
Generator Gawl (TV) So-so
Geneshaft (TV) Bad
Genesis Climber Mospeada (TV) Not really good
Genshiken (TV) Excellent A great surprise. From the plot description you'd expect a pretty standard anime, but the wit and character are outstanding - a proper sophisticated, grown-up show in disguise! The three episodes of the show-within-a-show Kujibiki Unbalance are a great extra, satirizing the generic conventions of anime.
Genshiken (OAV) Decent This 3 episode OAV came as the extras for the disappointing full season of show-within-a-show Kujibiki Unbalance. Apart from a couple of the character designs having been altered for the worse, the writing just isn't at the high sophisticated level of the first series. Comparisons aside, it's still enjoyable as an adjunct to the original.
Genshiken 2 (TV) Decent It's hard to rate this without considering it in comparison to the original series. It's definitely not nearly as good as the original. The humour is cruder, see for instance the number of times there is a unison laugh in the first episode - I don't think that ever happened in the original. The characters are more obnoxious, and we don't get the feeling of insight into them that we had before. The art is also cruder, more caricaturish and with thicker lines (the visiting American girl in one episode looks deformed!). That said, I did enjoy Ohno and Tanaka getting together (except for the TONGUES), and Ogiue is likable. The description of yaoi culture is interesting, and it's good to see the characters taking the business of making dojinshi seriously. All up, it's not great, certainly not as good as the original Genshiken, but decent enough to be worth watching once.
Getbackers (TV) So-so The "humour" and cheesy music of the first few episodes turned me off, but then there were some good fights with interesting new characters, and then the first Limitless Fortress arc, which had an interesting mood, and gave the Dr Jackal character opportunities to shine. However, the story and characters rarely rose above generic shonen cut-outs. Apparently season 2 has a lot of the "filler" episodes I disliked, plus a WTF ending, so I am going to stop with the end of season 1. Edit: I saw vol 9 (season 2), which showed some filler episodes and beginning of 2nd Fortress arc. Filler was crap as expected; Fortress arc seemed random and subpar, plus lower production values than season 1.
Ghost Hound (TV) Decent It's hard to rate this, as it starts so well and ends in mediocrity. For most of the series, it's very atmospheric in art and sound, with underlying trauma and mystery giving everything a sense of depth. The low-key pastoralism is reminiscent of the mood of the X-files TV series. I love the "previously on Ghost Hound" openings, with all dialog replaced by grating, distorted gibberish - uber creepy! The plot deals with fringe brain science (or seems to at first): out-of-body experiences, possession, group mind, psychic residue, which again gives an enjoyable creepiness and gives a sense of deep mystery to the plot. (This is nicely contrasted with the comical translucent-purple-baby appearance of the characters when they have their first out-of-body experiences.) Unfortunately, towards the end of the series, all the interesting plot elements are resolved or minimised, leading to a conclusion that's superficial and overly cheerful (and doesn't really make sense). Very frustrating. And this is that very rare thing, an anime with a "proper ending" - but in this case a conventional story conclusion is really the opposite of what the show needed. Responsibility for this failure must rest with Konaka, who has a gift for atmosphere but no talent for satisfactory plot resolution (see Lain, Texhnolyze, Hellsing TV). (Note, in the last episode, the bioids exploding out of their laboratory tanks - why was this not followed up?)
Ghost Hunt (TV) Awful This anime (and presumably the original manga) looks like an attempt to duplicate the success of Detective Conan (AKA Case Closed). The problem is, the simple stories are drawn out even more than in the case of Conan, and with no resultant extra character or plot revelation. The result is a very slow, painfully obvious structure, and the characters' novelty appeal is wearing off.... "Plodding" is the word to describe it overall. Also, since both the problems and the solutions of the cases are supernatural, the storywriter can basically pull clues and revelations out of his ass. In the end, the scripts became so simplistic, and so repetitive, that I just couldn't stand anymore. An awful show.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV) Decent I think this has been overrated. The Laughing Man arc is interesting in the way it comments on society and technology, but some of the other episodes are just B-grade action movie/cop show pulp. The Major's fan-servicy outfit undermines the show's pretentions to gritty realism and thematic seriousness. The Tachikoma mini-eps aren't actually funny. Also, while the CGI is generally excellent, some of the handdrawn stuff is shoddy - especially in the early episodes, keep an eye open for scenes where the Major goes badly off-model and clomps around like a stocky guy.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (TV) Weak
Giant Robo (OAV) Not really good In terms of sound and vision, this is brilliant, especially given it was made in pre-digital times. However, the opening is very confusing, with no introduction to situation or characters, and the drama is EXTREMELY melodramatic, with no basis in reality to relate to. It feels like one long animation fan service, which is fine if that's all you want. Character design is very exaggerated and old-school (think Astroboy, Lupin III).
Gilgamesh (TV) So-so
Gin Rei (OAV) Not really good
Girl Friend BETA (TV) Awful Also called "GF Girlfriend Beta". -- If you thought the problem with K-on was that it was too good, this show may be your thing. This high school moe show is completely mediocre. The backgrounds are all simple and cheap, the character designs are very generic and not especially attractive, the directing (frame composition, lighting effects, colour design and editing) lacks all flair and imagination. The voice acting is bland; the combination of vacant-looking generic face design and mediocre voice work makes it seem like most of the characters are heavily medicated. The writing is weak. So far, most of the characters have no personalities (i.e. an emotional viewpoint), only characteristics (the athlete, the foreigner, the model, the reporter). Also, most animes might have a "girl worries about gaining weight" story in the 2nd half of the season when they are running out of ideas. This show does that story in the second episode. The OP/ED themes are badly sung.
Girl's High (TV) Bad I was expecting an earthily realistic comedy, but the characters and jokes are extremely generic. The series starts with some "girls being gross" moments, combined with a ridiculous abundance of panty shots. Both these elements die down after a while, but the forgettable characters and cliched writing never improve.
Girlish Number (TV) Decent Girlish Number (AKA Gi(a)rlish Number). Certainly less anemic and more realistic than the similar Seiyu's Life, this is an amusingly cynical look at the anime voice actor industry. Somewhat enjoyable, but doesn't really rise to greatness.
Girls Beyond the Wasteland (TV) Decent At first this series was really unpromising. It wasn't terrible, but there was nothing about it that stood out or was especially good. However, it got better as it went along. In the end the show still wasn't great, but it was worth watching. The characters were likable and the detail of the characters' struggle to create a game together was interesting. ... The show has been unfavorably compared to Saekano, but I think this one is better, but in terms of character development and game development.
Girls und Panzer (TV) Bad
(The) Gokusen (TV) Decent Pleasant viewing, but doesn't live up to its potential by making us care about the characters. Maybe the live action is better?
Gosick (TV) Weak
Gourmet Girl Graffiti (TV) Weak A moe show. The three main characters don't have a lot of personality, especially the drippy lead, and there is some fanservice, which doesn't fit the innocence required by the genre. Things improve in the second half (ironically in the episode with most fanservice (a bath scene)), but it's a shame they didn't start developing the characters from the beginning of the show.
Grappler Baki Maximum Tournament (TV) Not really good See 'Baki the Grappler'.
Gravion Zwei (TV) Decent I haven't seen the original Gravion, whose animation is apparently not as good. This show has excellent animation, and is very modern-looking except for being 4:3. The story is an enthusiastic compendium of anime tropes, as are the characters, and the scope feels small-scale despite giant robot fights and interplanetary backstory. The OP/ED production sounds a little dated.
Gravitation (TV) Weak Overrated. I'm certainly open to a good shonen-ai show, but this isn't it. It's just really corny soap opera plotting, with 2D characters.
GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka (TV) Decent Overrated. I really liked this the first time I watched it, but when I tried a second time (after I'd seen a bit more anime) I found the humour much too obvious, and the plotting fairly repetitive.
Gungrave (TV) So-so First half = okay. A "mean streets" epic of two friends rising through the ranks of the mob and turning against each other. Second half = monsters fighting.
Gunslinger Girl (TV) Excellent Classic. Brilliant. What Elfen Leid wanted but failed to be. Ending a bit noncommittal. There is a sequel series, with a different studio and a new glossy look, which is a bit of a shame, but we'll see how it goes.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino (TV) Good Overall a good addition to the Gunslinger anime franchise. The art is done on a slightly lower budget, but the eye quickly adjusts. I miss the OP of the first series, but OTOH I'm glad I don't have to hear that ED again. Plot is good, developing the Franco/Franca partnership, and a young assassin called Pinocchio. Also some good new backstory for the girls, especially developing Triela and Claes. As with the first series, I had trouble remembering which girl and big brother were which. Also, the ending felt a bit too happy for this kind of story. DVD release: the dub was terrible; and why did they call Franca "Flanca"? One Japanese extra, in which we are informed that it is number two of five. WTH? It wasn't that great, but if they're going to stick this one on the disc at random, I'd prefer them to give us the complete set.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino (OAV) Decent This was a nice watch, apparently overseen by the creator of the original manga. The art was a bit crude, but rich-looking and with some nicely animated moments. I did enjoy the exploration of Venice during the first episode. The two episodes are let down by the inconsequentiality of the stories, which make the viewing experience rather forgettable, but it's nice to hang out with these characters for a while. It's like a "healing" anime, except of course for the low-lying murderous dread typical of this series. Recommended for fans, but don't expect a big deal.
Gurren Lagann (TV) Not really good
.hack//SIGN (TV) Weak
Haganai (TV) Good Pretty good. I watched both seasons. The sexualisation of the chars, inc the 10 yr old, was overdone in the 1st season, and Yozora's abuse of Sena was also overdone, without being funny (presumably catering to a fetish). But the chars are likable and interesting, and I would like to see more of this. -- The hero's dilemma toward the end of season 2, when he is told to stop being the nice oblivious harem guy and actually pick a girl, is an interesting reversal of the genre. My feeling is he was actually right to leave the group, as picking Sena would have upset the other girls and broken up the group. Also, the new student council friends he made during this time were much "healthier" relationships than with the Neighbours Club girls (who were all fixated on the only guy they knew), and probably had a greater chance of leading to a happy relationship. -- The OP/EDs were all forgettable, but, in the extras, the Japanese promos are worth watching as they're funny skits with the characters.
Haganai NEXT (TV) Good See review of first series.
Haibane Renmei (TV) Good
Hamtaro (TV) Decent If only they'd release a sub version.
Hand Maid May (TV) So-so
Handa-kun (TV) Excellent Apparently this is a prequel to a show called Barakamon (which seems to be about a caligraphy artist living on an island where there are a lot of children). This is a comedy about an alienated high school student, in a related vein to My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and Watamote. The show makes the most of its unique premise, which is that the main character thinks everyone hates him when they actually love him and think he's cool. The first few eps were brilliant and had me laughing a lot. It was less good thereafter, but still enjoyable and interesting.
Happy Lesson (TV) Decent
Happy Lesson (OAV) Weak
Hellsing (TV) Very good It seems trendy now to 'hate on' this show. It's not perfect (like Gantz, it has to invent its own ending due to not enough manga to work off), but there's a lot of great stuff here: the design, the music, the writing. The story was rebooted and carried further in Hellsing Ultimate, but sadly that series was more about action and fanservice, rather than horror and atmosphere, plus it was rather inconsistent in quality..
Hellsing Ultimate (OAV) So-so I prefer the TV for its grimmer horror atmosphere. OAV is closer to the manga (apparently), which means more flashy "cool" fights, plus chibi humour which isn't very funny. The flashbacks to Integra meeting Alucard didn't seem to have a point. The blood too often looked like day-glo goo. When Alucard wasn't in battle-mode he looked disappointingly normal, even bishonen. I also missed the detail the TV went into (due to having only the beginning of the manga to work with). Background music for the 1st episode was really awful; I didn't notice it in the 2nd, so I guess it improved. The choral ED theme is very good. For all the problems, it was pretty good overall, and reviews say it gets better. I'll be glad to see the origin of the fake freaks animated at last, which was the biggest problem with the TV (when they ran out of manga to work with). Edit: just watched IV and must say I don't think it's improved: the episode was poorly structured, the fights were really stretched out with not much happening, and the Major's ending speech was much too long.
High School of the Dead (TV) Weak At first, with the glossy big-budget look and grim zombie action, I thought the critics might have been wrong. They weren't, and may in fact have been too kind. The zombie component of the story is well done, but the biggest part of the show is standard, banal, cliched, otaku-pandering manga characters having excruciatingly drawn-out "dramatic" moments, made more unbearable by the shrill shrieking of the main female characters. Is continual whining and complaining considered an attractive trait in Japanese culture? I haven't even mentioned the constant, irrelevant fanservice - constant close-ups of panties and bouncing boobs eradicate any possibility of taking the story or the characters seriously. Eventually, in the last third of the series, there are some decent character moments, but overall it's not worth it.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei (OAV) Weak [3rd in When They Cry series] The first ep is an ecchi comedy which is not funny. After this there is a three-ep arc called "Die killing" which has nothing to do with its title. Rika finds herself in an almost perfect world and can only get back to the previous reality by killing her mother. She wakes back to reality not knowing whether she killed her mother (how could she not know?). The story is justified by some gobbledegook about accepting reality; the fact that Rika, who has until now been innocent, murdered her mother (without the excuse of psychotic illness that the previous killers had) is completely glossed over. (Hanyu says the other world was only a dream she created, but this is not believable, as she has shown no sign of this power before, and the dream was not really necessary if the point was just to spout some platitudes at the end.) -- Overall this series got worse as it went on, which is weird as it was basically the same production team throughout. Is this due to the original game/novels, or was this a change for commercial reasons? It's also weird that psychological intensity and extreme violence were a major selling point of the first season, but were then eliminated from the show...
Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai (TV) So-so When they cry Kai. Not as good as the first season. The character designs have changed slightly (more stylised, poofier hair) and the visuals are sometimes a bit fuzzy or washed out - this may be because the US distributor changed from the last season. Not a lot happens in this season, though we do get an explanation for the goings-on, and it is interesting to see the origin of Takano. There are too many scenes in which people have long, obvious conversations in the middle of emergency situations. -- Oddly, compared to the 1st season (notorious for its bloody violence) this is almost completely bloodless, except for Irie being hurt in a car crash (which looks serious, but pretty soon he somehow recovers completely). This is especially noticable in the climactic battle, which is totally nerfed. Also in the final battle, the protagonists are basically unbeatable, despite being supposedly normal kids fighting an army of trained, armed adults. This completely undermines the grounded quality of the 1st season. -- At the end we see a flashback to Takano's childhood, in which she talks to a mysterious woman who looks like she might be an adult version of Rika. There is NO explanation for this here or in the next season.
His and Her Circumstances (TV) Decent A real 'mixed bag'. The low budget is no excuse for Anno making such a hash of this show in the first half of the series, with mostly static shots and moving text, and the re-caps that grow longer with each episode - no wonder he was fired. But the story and characters sustain your interest, which is probably due to the original manga rather than any special achievement of the animators.
Honey and Clover (TV) Bad Good grief. Despite the slightly offbeat art-style, and regular moments of "we are so wacky!?!", this show is relentlessly nice and normal, or to put it more bluntly, bland and ordinary.
Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Weak
Hozuki's Coolheadedness (TV) Weak Set in the Japanese afterlife, this has an interesting concept and great historically-influenced art (also good OP/ED themes). Sadly, given the possibilities, it is nothing more than a gag show with historical allusions - and no laugh-out-loud moments that I can recall. No interesting characters, stories or themes. Not worth watching again.
Humanity Has Declined (TV) Weak
Ikki Tousen (TV) Weak
Inari Kon Kon (TV) Decent A bit like Kamisama Kiss, also like Kamichu. Starts well but then becomes a bit rote. Some nice art.
Infinite Ryvius (TV) Weak
Initial D (TV) Good Ugly characters (not as bad as the manga though!), classic story. Made car racing interesting to a non-driver so must be good. Hope they make more, as the story was left hanging.
Innocent Venus (TV) Not really good I liked the interaction of the four main characters, and the feel of quiet desperation as they go on the run, so thought this had potential. The much-criticised pirate captain is pretty awful at first, but the director must have realised this, as he is quickly toned down in appearance and attitude. The pirates otherwise remain very generic and uninteresting. Most episodes have great action setpieces, and the drama is decent. Sadly, things deteriorate in the final volume, mostly because too much attention is given to previously secondary characters, at the expense of the characters we began the series with. There is also a sense of anticlimax particularly in relation to Joe: there's obviously some mystery to him, but the answer isn't even hinted at. Instead he just wanders off for no reason.
INTERSTELLA 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (movie) Weak
Inuyasha (TV) Weak
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (TV) So-so This show is hobbled by its premise, which is that dungeon grinding alla World Of Warcraft is something that could work in the real world. This is combined with a low-key harem set-up and occasional big boob jokes. -- The main strength of the show is its characters, their various personalities, hidden backstories and goals. Most of the show is enjoyable because it focuses on these aspects. However, the last few eps are focused on wandering through same-looking caverns and fighting silly-looking monsters, and the final ep is the big boss battle, and is just boring. All the to-ing and fro-ing of the secondary characters is meaningless because it's obvious that the main character will beat the boss, not through any special talent, technique, intelligence or bravery, but just because the plot requires it. This is yet another example of a decent anime sunk by its ending. It's annoying, because if the ending was better this would be a show I'd enjoy watching again. As it is, I won't watch it again and I won't watch the sequel. ... [The art and background music were pretty good, but the OP/ED were forgettable]
Is This a Zombie? (TV) Weak
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie) Bad *** MASSIVE SPOILERS *** Way overrated. The setting is confusing (if it's Japan after WW2, then why is the Wolf brigade in some sort of futuristic body armour?), the plot is fundamentally flawed (we're supposed to identify with a main character who has no discernable personality; then he turns out to be a double agent, and it's like "WTF? Who cares?"), and the ending is an unbelievable, manipulative tearjerking cliche.
Jinki:Extend (TV) Bad As previous reviews have noted, the structure of this show is all screwy. It starts in South America with a set-up similar to EVA, except with a female Shinji. Not brilliant but okay. Then there are intermittent flashbacks to a Japanese setting, which don't seem to have any connection to the main story. As the show goes on, the flashbacks get longer until they take over the show - and it turns out that the opening setting was actually the flashback. Apart from the basic confusion this causes (even when you know it's coming in advance), the Japanese set story is just really blah and unmemorable, with a lot of boring characters and clunky second-rate writing. I had a hard time remembering who was who, and can't really remember the story at all. (Part of the reason for the confusion is that the anime is based on a manga that was itself a sequel to a previous manga (Jinki), but that's no excuse for such a lack-lustre show.)
Jubei-Chan 2: The Counterattack of Siberia Yagyu (TV) Not really good The big problem here is they introduced too many new characters, so in the final showdown you have a dozen characters all fighting for screen-time, making the screen and story too crowded, and not leaving enough room for Jubei-chan (the main character!). The ending goes on worse than 'Return of the King' (which is a POS, but that's a rant for another day).
Jubei-Chan The Ninja Girl - Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch (TV) So-so
Jungle Emperor Leo (movie 1997) So-so The first problem with this movie is that it attempts to summarise in 90 minutes a lengthy manga and anime series. Characters and story arcs drop out for long periods of time, and often seem barely related to each other, particularly the lion cub Lune's adventure into human society. The movie as a whole seems very episodic. The second big problem is what might be called authorial naivity, in particular his desire to contrast greedy murderous humans with life-loving jungle animals, which requires him to ignore that these animals spend much of their lives trying to eat each other and avoid being eaten in turn. It's a problem an adult viewer will find difficult to overlook. Similarly, the readiness with which Dr Moustache throws away the guide to the gem cave, at the end of the movie, when it's been impressed upon us how vital the gems are to human survival, is hard to justify. Finally, the readiness with which Leo throws himself upon Moustache's knife is unbelievable, and his sacrifice is a bit perverse given how the rest of the movie has argued against using animals for human benefit. The animation is good, but a bit Disney-fied, and not at the same high level as Ghibli's productions.
Jyu-Oh-Sei (TV) Bad After the hero's annoying twin brother was killed off, I had hopes for this being good. Sadly, the last few episodes were ruined by unbelievable and cliched character actions (worst being the heroine catching a bullet for a villain, in order to supply "tragedy"), and a series of ridiculous and nonsensical moments, especially during the climax (the lab suddenly infested with giant killer plants; shooting the megacomputer to stop a bomb on a different planet). Presumably these problems go back to the original light novel, but that's no excuse. Really, don't bother.
Kaleido Star (TV) Very good I didn't expect much from this, but the show is crafted with a high degree of skill and care, and towards the end I was really excited and gripped by the story (which is sadly rare). It probably helped that I was in the mood for something really positive, upbeat and hopeful, which is what Kaleido Star is all about.
Kamichu! (TV) So-so This presents itself as a Miyazaki-style show, but unfortunately it's not. The premise is interesting, but the characters are all anime stereotypes instead of the realistically observed characters we know from Miyazaki's better films. It always seems like the show couldn've gone a bit further. The stories are consistently weak, e.g. the local shrine god runs away - but then he comes back. The gods' convention could've been stranger or more of a revelation; Kamichu could try using her powers more often than every 4 episodes (!). Her shrinegirl friend pushes her into using her god status to make money, but this is never seen as problematic (perhaps this is normal in a polytheistic society?). Even the OP/ED music starts off sounding great, then quickly becomes blah and forgettable. It seems that something always blocks this show from fulfilling its potential. From the DVD notes, I think the show's creator was especially interested in all the minor gods that are seen in the periphery, and I think the show might've been better if he'd focused more on them.
Kamisama Kiss (TV) Decent
Kanon (TV 2/2006) So-so
Karin (TV) So-so I thought the whole reverse vampire thing had more potential than they brought out - it's not really recommendable as a vampire show, as it's essentially just a school comedy/romance. The colour scheme and artwork made it look like a 90s show, which was a bit odd. OTOH, I appreciated that all the eyecatches were different (I guess that's what they were doing instead of making animation for the previews). The character Winner was annoying.
Kaze no Yojimbo (TV) Weak A bunch of plot is generated to spin the classic story out to series length, but in the end it just feels tired and dull (same for the visuals). The pace is always slow; the characters are "enigmatic" to the point of blandness; none of them are worth caring about; the plot mysteries aren't especially intriguing; the final showdown is predictable and cartoony. See 'Fistful of Dollars' for the exciting version of this story.
Kids on the Slope (TV) So-so After the first couple of episodes I was going to rate this much higher, but as the show went on I got tired of the soap opera plotting - so many love triangles - and then the "twists" of the final episode, which were just stupid, gratuitous and unbelievable. Also, I realise now, the jazz component of the show was not really integrated with the story, i.e. the personal journeys of the main characters. It became less and less relevant as the show went on, the exciting musical moments being kind of a cheat to keep you watching what was otherwise a fairly generic Japanese drama.
Kino's Journey (TV) Decent It's a show to appreciate intellectually, not really a show to have any deep feelings about.
Kujibiki Unbalance (TV) So-so Decent enough, but having dropped the parodic element of the original OVA, its formulaic structure and execution make it nothing special.
Kumamiko - Girl meets Bear (TV) Decent The title means Bear Priestess, and the show is about a shrine girl who lives with a bear in a remote Japanese village. The girl Machi fantasises about living in the city; the bear Natsu is protective and doesn't want her to go, although he helps her prepare for the modern world. There was controversy because for the first couple of eps it seems Natsu is setting Machi up to fail, but later it is made clear that Machi is timid, naive, and freaked out by the unfamiliar. The ending was also controversial, because Machi's encounter with the city is traumatic and she decides to stay at home. I found it a moderately enjoyable slice-of-life show.
Kurau: Phantom Memory (TV) So-so I like the relatively realistic character designs, but the pace is very slow, and the story has the same self-important self pity I recall from stories in the English girls magazines my sister used to read. Initially I gave up after the first 6 eps; when I continued later, I found the drama, action and characters overall quite decent, but not interesting or gripping enough to warrant ever watching it again.
Kurogane Communication (TV) Not really good Great concept, but the scripts are banal, with robo-versions of tired anime stereotypes (WTF gay robot?), prosaic directing, and some really UGLY art, especially the robot designs. Someone with talent should do a remake of this idea.
Kyo kara Maoh! (TV) So-so
L/R: Licensed by Royalty (TV) Awful At first I thought it would be pleasantly enjoyable junk, though in terms of characterisation and plot the show barely scraped by. It didn't help that I watched the featurette, in which the director and producer said they created the plot to lead up to the climax they already had planned. Problem is, the climactic sequence is a confused mess, followed by an ending that feels fake and leaves you feeling cheated. The music with awful Engrish lyrics didn't help, either - poor Billy Preston, having to sing that stuff!
Last Exile (TV) Very good Mostly awesome, like a series made from all the best elements of Miyazaki's movies, but the plot flounders in the last couple of episodes - Claus's journey to Exile, which involves meeting all the Silvana crew along the way, is too contrived; the final battles lack interest because the Guild is too faceless and passive - even villain Maestro Delphine basically just watches and giggles; Dio's final appearance doesn't really make sense - where did he get that vanship? The ending is a mystical/non-explanatory cop-out - Exile somehow magically fixes the planet (off-screen and without explanation), followed by a cheesy montage of everyone happy together. Despite these flaws, this is overall a great scifi/fantasy series which all genre fans should find rewarding and memorable.
Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing (TV) Weak Despite the presence of the original director, the rest of the staff have changed, and this is a very poor shadow of the original series. It lacks the distinctive visuals of the original and also its epic quality; despite a number of ships and events that are supposedly massive, they just don't look impressive. The series starts engagingly, with some diverse action scenes and intriguing plot set-up, but then the flaws emerge and only become more problematic as the show goes on. The original Last Exile worked because it was about interesting characters with believable dilemmas; here, although it starts with potential, the few potentially interesting chars are crowded out by the large number of flat or cliched ones. Also, the writers have only a childish understanding of politics and war, which are central here when previously they were only background. All the characters seem to genuinely revere the powerless child empress, who knows nothing of politics (or anything else) but cries and complains a lot. These failures culminate in the last quarter of the series, when we are supposed to sympathise (or at least understand someone else sympathising) with people who think the best way to world peace is genocide of all other nations. The final battles consist of fleets blasting away at each other from a standstill while commanders dramatically flounce their capes and spout empty rhetoric. The villain's final gambit turns out to be completely pointless. In comparison with these devastating problems, fan complaints about fan service (a couple of minor moments in 1st ep), cynical reuse of old characters (these retreads are still among the most interesting chars in this series), and the two pointless recap episodes, are trivial. // To address a complaint of a lot of fans, I think the genki-girl character of Fam could have been satisfactory, if the show was just a fun romp about sky pirates taking down ships and engaging in other escapades, with the war merely serving as background. As the central protagonist in a story about global war and political intrigue, Fam's character needed to have more gravitas or development. Some say therefore that Millia should have been the central character; problem with this is that though she's much more relevant to the story, she's passive throughout. She takes no action without direction from someone else. So the problem isn't that the wrong character was emphasised - the problem is bad character writing, full stop.
Lime-iro Senkitan (TV) Decent This ecchi comedy/action show never got a Western release, but I found it enjoyable. It had some nice characters and decent character development. (Cliffhanger ending, though - I assume the anime is based on a video game.)
Love Hina (TV) Decent The funny stuff about makes up for the unfunny stuff.
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! (TV) Decent I don't remember much about the 2nd half except that it was more about drama and less about the original concept of the show. There is a sequel series ('heart throb'), which I'm not sure I should bother with - must check the reviews to see if it's especially funny, or returns to the original premise.
Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions: Rikka Takanashi Version (movie) Bad This isn't an original movie, it's an edited version of the series (first season). At the beginning is an irrelevant 10 minutes consisting of a wedding that leads into a big boring fantasy fight, which all turns out to be Rikka's dream. The main part of the movie is a flashback, i.e. highlights of the TV series, but without the structure or the music of the series. There's a short new bit at the end to wrap things up, then an after-credits scene to tease (but not show the face of) the arrival of a new character. The DVD also has a short OVA, which is not very entertaining. In short, this was a waste of time (and $10).
Lovely Complex (TV) So-so As with other gag-based anime, it could be successful if it wasn't so obnoxious. The constant shouting and grotesque expressions become wearying, and it's pretty much the same jokes every episode. (Also, Japan's odd attitude to homosexuality is annoying, with the usual "female in male body" hand-waving explanation.) If the show tried to be a bit quieter and more realistic, the jokes would work better (see Azumanga Daioh). Towards the end the show seems to run out of ideas.
Lucky Star (TV) Decent This series became popular because of its otaku references. The main character is a high school girl who has been raised as an otaku by her widowed father. I identified with the way her devotion to these interests has a negative effect on the rest of her life. Apart from this element, this is a fairly conventional school comedy, a bit like Azumanga Daioh but wackier and with less interesting characters. -- I thought the dance number finale was weak, as it didn't seem to come from any of the characters' personalities. The sight of all those characters dancing absolutely identically (presumably CGI) seemed to undermine the individuality of the characters, which I had thought was supposed to be the main appeal of the show. Maybe for the Japanese becoming identical to everybody else is a happy ending? (See my comments on Eureka Seven.) (The subs on the DVD were annoyingly formatted: too fat to read quickly, and if two people spoke at once, lines would be posted at the top and bottom of the screen at the same time. How the hell am I supposed to read that?)
Lunar Legend Tsukihime (TV) Good Lunar Legend Tsukihime is a vampire/harem show based on a computer dating game. As a reviewer at THEM Anime reported, this is a show that feels like it might get good at any minute. Figuring out what went wrong is probably as entertaining as watching the actual show. Animation is TV-limited but attractively glossy and atmospheric; interior scenes are usually more drab and basic. The music is appropriately gothic, making good use of string quartets and spooky choirs. The idea of a character being able to see glowing red fracture-lines on everything is interesting and different, and the discovery of a bloody prison cell under a house in a later episode is very powerful moment. The problem with this series is that the story and the character relationships just never coalesce. Most of the characters don't have much of an arc. And the event that starts the story is never explained or even questioned: why DID Shiki (the hero) attack and “kill” Arcueid (main love interest)? Faults aside, this show does have a unique modern-gothic atmosphere, and if that appeals you may find it worthing watching. For myself, this show has somehow become one of my all-time favourites (the soundtrack CD Vol. 1 Moonlit Archives is also great).
Maburaho (TV) So-so
Madlax (TV) Weak
Magikano (TV) So-so **SPOILERS** A funny satire of harem comedies. The girls are all overt stereotypes, the guy's sister is actually genuinely (creepily) in love with him. The guy has no personality, or awareness of the girls in his life, and, instead of choosing a sweetheart at the end, it turns out he's a monster who wants to destroy the Earth. Nice twist!
Mahoromatic - Automatic Maiden (TV) Weak
Majikoi - Oh! Samurai Girls (TV) Weak Unlike Ben-To, this show is upfront about being an ecchi show. Also, the main male char suffers less physical abuse than is often seen in ecchi harem shows (though he does not escape unscathed) and even gets his own back a few times. Fantasy-style martial arts and military elements are also present, though the mix isn't even, with some eps being mostly serious and others being pervy slice-of-life. -- In the last ep, we realise that the show has a far right political agenda, advocating (if you pick up the hints): fanatical nationalism, unthinking obedience to superiors, hatred of illegal immigrants, and the inherent decadence of democracy. Basically, the showrunner wants a return to the "good old days" when Japan was ruled by a fascist military goverment (which then went on a murderous rampage through Asia, before being defeated by the USA). A pretty weird thing to find in an anime for perverts. -- I have overlooked this aspect in my rating, as for its kind this is a well-made show, but I doubt I'll watch it again.
Mars Daybreak (TV) So-so
Martian Successor Nadesico (TV) Decent A fun, well-made show, if now rather dated-looking. A bunch of characters embark on a mission (in the spaceship Nadesico) that involves romantic triangles and parodies of mecha show archetypes.
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) Bad Very disappointing. Haruhi is just a tsundere bitch, and the three episodes I saw didn't make me laugh once. Just shallow trash for trendy teens.
Metropolis (movie) Weak
Midori Days (TV) Very good Slick, well-made, entertaining, good concept, not great but enjoyable. Worth watching.
Millennium Actress (movie) Weak
Misaki Chronicles (TV) Bad
Mobile Suit Gundam - The Movie Trilogy Not really good It's interesting to see the origins of the Gundam franchise, if only to judge how the series was refined in later years. For its time this was a huge epic, with its many characters and anti-war themes. Sadly, I found myself consistently untouched by the drama. The characters were never really convincing as human beings, being rather flat archetypes taken from previously existing material, with no realistic individual touches. Ultimately, this movie trilogy is only of historical interest.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (TV) Weak I watched four episodes, and the only thing I can remember about this show is how unmemorable it is.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (OAV) So-so
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed (TV) Excellent The best elements of the Gundam series are collected in this retelling of the original story, with clean modern graphics, epic orchestral music, and a better-than-usual dramatic arc. The main characters are more developed and emotionally believable than previously (and there's a tsundere girl I actually care about as a character), although the main character's knack for mecha piloting isn't explained as in the original. There's less mecha fan-service than in Wing (good), but OTOH no attempt to be "real robot" as in the 1990s OVAs. The story declines slightly towards the end, as the device of a group of survivors beset from all sides is discarded, when the group splits up; also the final space battles are a bit unclear. I admit I can understand criticisms that the pretty visuals undermine the dramatic realism, but overall, it's a very successful and enjoyable series, and a highlight of the franchise.
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny (TV) Decent Not a bad show, but not as good as its predecessor. The main problem is we never really feel as close to the characters as we did in the first one; they lack detailed personalities. I also thought the ending was weak (SPOILER: there was no good reason for the captain to sacrifice herself like that, especially as she had a child). Some parts were slightly disconcerting, as scenes from Gundam Wing reappeared in a new story context.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (TV) Decent
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (movie) Bad This is pretty bad, and proof, if proof were needed, that Yoshiyuki Tomino, creator of the Gundam franchise, knows nothing about people beyond what he's picked up from trashy novels and cliches about "passionate youth". The character of Quess (a "sensitive" teenage girl), in particular, is infuriating beyond endurance, and the soap opera pinings of Hathaway and Nanai don't help. The other characters remain fairly inoffensive shonen cliches. There is an amazing bit of "diplomacy" in which the Federation, having had an asteroid dropped on them, sell the culprits another asteroid, because they need money for government programs! The animation has some great moments (including an exterior of a rotating space colony which is actually a CG shot - remarkable stuff for a film released in 1988!), but this doesn't compensate for the cringe-inducingly awful drama.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (TV) Decent The characters and plot are a lot of archetypes and tropes, and there's no psychological realism, but the story is engaging and a couple of times even moving. Apparently season 2 is less good (as with Gundam Seed 2), so I won't bother with that. The OP/ED are very forgettable.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (OAV) Decent If you believe the hype and approach this expecting a great psychological masterpiece, as I did, you will be disappointed. This series starts with standard anime cheese and a more-gritty-than-usual visual approach, and is perfectly enjoyable on this level. There are some nice nods to the "real robot" genre as the show progresses. The best episodes are 6 and 7. 6 moves the setting to the desert, resulting in a much more attractive visual style, cleaner and nicely coloured. The highlight here is the character interaction as they wait over several days for the enemy to show. 7 by contrast has a mountain setting, and high drama as the hero and love interest attempt to survive together. There is some great music here and in later episodes as well. The following, climactic episodes are good but not at this level, becoming a bit overblown and cliched. The coda episode, "Last resort", had much potential but was a let-down in the end. (The supplement "Miller's report" has a few nice added character scenes, but is mostly repeated footage from the series, tied together with a dull "investigation" narrative.) Not a masterpiece but worth watching.
Momo: The Girl God of Death (TV) Not really good
Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls (TV) Not really good An ecchi harem show, with the twist being that the girls are various mythological monsters. The gimmick doesn't really add freshness. The show relies on nipple-tastic fanservice and the male character being regularly injured by the girls. 2 eps in, there's nothing in character or story to repay attention. The OP/ED tunes are upbeat and enjoyable. UPDATE: I watched the whole thing. Not terrible, but not funny, and without the imagination of To Love RU season 1. It does seem that modern harem shows have painted themselves into a corner with the constant ecchi emphasis. In older shows it was less frequent and more subtle, and thus they were able to attract viewers who would be put off by constant female nudity and sexual situations. And who are they attracting now? The number of people who use these shows for sexual stimulation must still be very small. Most people just use actual porn...
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (TV) Excellent Bought because it was on special and included the soundtrack, this was a very enjoyable show. It looks a bit like a reverse-harem, but as there is no real plot, I suspect it was based on a four-panel gag manga. There is a good variety of characters, all seemingly normal but kooky in various ways. I laughed out loud a few times, which for me is rare. There's also some clever insight into the workings of shojo manga (romance comics, basically), and a clever bit where the silly conventions of shojo manga and computer dating games are compared. The only real downside is that the main female character is bland, which is typical of harem shows. I'd love to see another series of this, but they'd have to introduce some sort of plot to maintain interest.
MoonPhase (TV) Not really good
Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit (TV) So-so
Mushi-Shi (TV) Decent
My Bride is a Mermaid (TV) Bad
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (TV) Good Season 1 of this show deals with alienation more directly than Haganai or even Watamote. It mostly manages to avoid heavy use of anime tropes, except for the 'pretty boy mistaken for a girl' trope, in this case subverted by the main (male) character spontaneously spouting romantic lines with great sincerity whenever startled by this character's beauty (e.g. "I want to protect this sleeping face"). It would have been a great twist to develop a real romance out of this, but no... This season doesn't stick the landing, because there is no real sense of a plot resolved or char growth at the end. The ending is further dissipated by the bonus ep which doesn't announce itself as such.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO! (TV) So-so Season 2 is mostly more of the same, except a crisis quickly arises between the three main characters which lasts to the end of the season. There is more focus on this conflict, and less on the alienation and warped mindset of the main character. -- There are still good elements, but the problem with this conflict forming an arc for the show is that its nature is too vague. This is partly due to clumsy subtitles, but also due to the needlessly elusive nature of the dialog. People keep saying (or implying) that there is a problem between the three main characters, but no-one will say what the problem actually is. Even after the big "climax" and "resolution" at the end, this is still no clearer: Is the problem that Hikki prevented Yukinon from becoming student council president? Is the problem that both Yui and Yukinon are in love with Hikki? (though Yukinon's crush comes out of nowhere towards the end of the season) Is the problem that the characters are somehow not being "genuine" with each other, or with themselves? -- It's a shame this shapeless crisis dominates and undermines the second half of the season. Forgettable OP/EDs.
My-HiME (TV) Not really good Generic. Overhyped. There are a couple of fresh character twists, but with so many characters these get lost in the shuffle. Otherwise, nothing new. None of the characters is realistic or deep. The art is decent, with some appealing character designs, but the settings never convince as real places. The plot is just the usual stuff, teens fighting against magical monsters.
Mysterious Girlfriend X (TV) Not really good Obviously some writer was getting his rather unusual sexual interests out there with this show - saliva-tasting (the inept subtitlers prefer the word "drool"), with also a brief shout-out to hair-mussing. This gives the show an air of strangeness which immediately engaged me. As the show wore on, however, its conventional aspects let it down. Despite the initially alien-seeming heroine, the stories are really standard school-based ecchi comedy and soap opera. The heroine turns out to be classic tsundere, a type I think works in the setting of a harem comedy, but is unpleasant when exploring a supposedly happy couple relationship. The girl is cold, demanding but ungiving, basically mean, but we are supposed to think that she is wonderful and the hero is not at all a moron for putting up with this stuff without question. Eventually the relationship is "deepened" by that staple of Japanese romance, the "accidental" rape attempt. It's a shame that what had the potential to be fresh and interesting (a relationship with a genuinely unusual girl), was instead spoiled by cliched plotting and distasteful characterisation.
Nabari no Ou (TV) Decent A frustrating show, though the problems are difficult to summarise. The art style is a washed-out watercolour effect, with muted colours and no real blacks or very dark shades; I think a richer, more high-contrast style would've been more effective here. The humour is forced: characters are given "gag" characteristics, e.g. one character mistakes strangers for people she knows when excited. These are never really integrated into the characters, however, and are never really funny. Once you get past these initial problems, the show is very good: the relationships, the intrigue, the revealed backstory are all touching and engaging. Unfortunately, the show goes off the rails in the last few episodes (the anime ending is quite different to the manga, which I assume must have been unfinished at the time). It really is an example to writers of what not to do: during the climax, the show wastes time and confuses matters by following a dozen characters, most of whom are not important to the story. Having spent the show building up the potential of Tobari's hidden power and secret past, his power is merely to reveal the past, and the big secret is a complete letdown, with no character revelation and no impact on presentday events. The main character Miharu's decision not to use his power is not convincingly explained, when several obvious options for explanation were available. The character Yoite rejects Miharu's offer to erase him, though it's what he's been asking for all series, and also rejects the offer to be healed, merely so that the writer can include a poignant "death" scene. This is one of a number of cheesy moments in the final episode, including the smiling face of a dead relative appearing in the sky. (There is also the odd case of Miharu's friend Aizawa, who has turned out to be a 100 year old immortal, who says at the end of the series that he will repay his adoptive parents (who we never see) by continuing to play the role of their son - never mind that the fact that he doesn't age will make normal family life impossible.) Admittedly, from what I've read about it, the ending of the manga is equally stupid. If the show had simply gone forward without concluding, focusing on what it was good at, I think I would have rated it higher.
Nadia - The Secret of Blue Water (TV) Bad First episode has promise of Miyazaki-esque steam punk story, but quickly devolves into unfunny Japanese schtick humour. Plus the title character is really unlikable, always complaining and trying to tell people what to do.
Nanaka 6/17 (TV) Weak
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Decent
Needless (TV) Weak
Negima!? (TV) Decent
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) Good A classic show that broke some old traditions and established some new ones. However, that doesn't mean it's perfect. The tone is a bit inconsistent between mecha combat, teen drama, and mystical hoo-hah. Anno restrains his abstract/symbolic tendency until the last few episodes. The controversial last episodes, supposedly done this way because budget didn't permit the 'true' ending, give the impression that Anno just didn't know how to end the narrative, and perversely didn't care.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (movie) Not really good Supposedly the real ending that Anno hadn't been able to do for the TV series, this film messes with the character types a bit (Shinji was never that catatonic in the TV series, and never especially interested in Asuka), and goes for a big-budget take on the Fudged Mystical Ending (TM). I'm hoping the Rebuild films finally get NGE's ending right, but I'm not optimistic.
Nichijou - My Ordinary Life (TV) So-so For the first six eps or so this SOL gag comedy managed to be quite funny and engaging. But then they ran out of funny and became merely extremely irritating. Halfway through, I don't think I'll be able to finish this one.
NieA_7 (TV) Very good On the surface it's a comedy, but as it goes on there's revealed an underlying theme of melancholy and nostalgia. High quality stuff, except for the Indian 'gags' at the end of each episode.
Nightwalker: The Midnight Detective (TV) Awful
Ninja Robots (TV) Not really good
Ninja Scroll (TV) Good
Noein - to your other self (TV) Not really good This show does have good elements, but outweighed by bad.... The visuals are of a high standard (apart from the change over the first couple of eps, from "experimental" to more normal anime style, and Haruka's ugly and awkward 3D-modelled house). The setup is good, but by ep 6 writing quality has plummeted - Haruka's escape in La Cryma is a joke (the mix of wacky escapade and doomed dystopia doesn't work), and her constantly repeated response to being told that she is now in an alternative future dimension ("Uso!" - lie!) gets annoying quickly. The character of Atori, main villain for the first part of the series, annoys me as his antagonism is unmotivated, merely a symptom of his "crazy" personality. Meanwhile, character development seems to be replaced by constant bickering and complaining. Things improve again in the second half of the series, in terms of enjoyable character interaction, and the show settles into a repetitive slice-of-life/occasional action mode. All the stranded future warriors and quantum physics scientists are hanging out with the pre-teen heroine in her home. There are some good emotional character moments, but the climax is too mystical and basically confused to be effective (might be partly the subtitles' fault). Verdict: this show is confused about its tone, the story meanders directionlessly for much of its length, dialog quality is inconsistent, and the conclusion is vague and unsatifying. Not worth watching again.
Noir (TV) Bad
Noragami (TV) So-so Fairly enjoyable urban fantasy, but I don't remember anything about how it ended. I don't think I'll bother with the sequel.
Norn9 (TV) Not really good Good music, beautiful background and mech designs, but the character animations are painfully stiff, the character designs are pitifully generic, and most voice performances don't rise above mediocre, especially the lead female. -- The story is a sci-fi YA story. For a while it seems to be turning into a romance, until the plot intrudes: some sort of magical technology has been used to reset Earth's history multiple times, in an effort to avoid war. Young people with abilities are gathered and must choose whether to allow the Reset... -- The climax is stupid: The villain's plan doesn't make sense (if he wants the Reset to happen, why is he interfering with the ability users?), The Reset takes place without the young people actually agreeing to it, and what we see of the Reset in a premonition is nonsensical (the Abilities are removed from the users in the form of crystals which are then showered upon the Earth; This results in people's memories evaporating and being gathered by some mechanism; Then the world is destroyed with fire). I'm not sorry I watched it. I just wish it could have been better.
Now and Then, Here and There (TV) Decent Slightly overrated, with the pot-boiler plot and annoyingly optimistic hero. But it looks great, and, because of the world and character detail, watching all at once feels like you're reading a pretty good pulp sf/fantasy novel.
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (TV) Bad The first ep of this consists entirely of long boring exposition masquarading as "dialog".
Nurse Witch Komugi (OAV) Decent It's a humorous parody of the magical girl genre and anime in general, but you don't need to be an anime expert to enjoy it (I wasn't, the first time I saw it). It's very cute and colourful, and parodies the idol industry, otakus (2chan!), and anime cliches.
One Punch Man (TV) Decent Kinda clever twist on shonen conventions, with an unbeatable hero who is pretty much a mook. However, there's no emotional or thematic depth.
Otogi Zoshi (TV) Not really good
Ouran High School Host Club (TV) Weak I've seen the first seven episodes. This series has been much hyped. The look of the show is certainly interesting, and I like how they consciously address and parody the moe points of the various boys. However, underneath this is a very generic gag show, with no believable characters to keep us engaged. The central romance is a point of interest, but it's too rarely touched upon. There are a few genuine (mild) laughs, but so sporadic that I really can't recommend this show.
Outlaw Star (TV) Decent Better than Cowboy Bebop, IMO. And an anime with a proper ending = awesome.
Pani Poni Dash! (TV) Bad Tons of "crazy" gags, but NOT FUNNY.
Paprika (movie) Not really good
Paranoia Agent (TV) Decent I'm not a fan of Satoshi Kon, though I liked Tokyo Godfathers. The rest of his stuff is very didactic, puffed up with empty style. This is an interesting idea for a show, but after the beginning you never really believe in the characters or situations. The second half of the series is filler, including the best episode, "Happy Family Planning", which is like a little comedy movie about suicide.
Parasite Dolls (OAV) Bad There is some nice looking animation in the action scenes, but the script is juvenile, with 2D characters in unbelievable interactions, and lots of "cool" moments which shouldn't impress anyone who's reached adulthood.
Patlabor: The Movie Not really good
Peacemaker (TV) Decent
Penguindrum (TV) Bad Much potential at the start, but ultimately a waste of time. Lots of very silly developments (in this realistic modern world there is a LITERAL child broiler where unwanted kids end up?), the timeline doesn't work (the big event happened 16 years ago, so the 3 main characters should be adults in their 20s, not high school students). In 2nd half, I was laughing a couple of times per ep at the ridiculous developments.
Perfect Blue (movie) Weak
Phoenix 2772 - Space Firebird (movie) Not really good It starts impressively, telling its story with music and visuals alone; it's more than 10 minutes before anyone is heard to speak. There is impressive old-school animation throughout the movie, particularly Godoh's first drive through the city. Sadly, this movie is held back by elements I've begun to realise are common to the animations of Tezuka Osamu. Particularly, the drama is undermined by cartoonish comedy and musical numbers. I guess it's to keep the kids interested, but for this story it doesn't work. When Godoh goes to the prison camp, this serious moment is "celebrated" by an interlude of buildings and mining vehicles dancing around! Later, Godoh goes to a planet full by quirky aliens obviously only there for comedy value. Two of these creatures stick with him for the rest of the film, to no dramatic purpose. Also, directly after it's said that Godoh couldn't even kill a worm (and the first half of the movie has set him up as a life-loving pacifist), Godoh hunts a herd of firebirds, shooting one and chasing the rest into the sea, drowning them. Nice guy! Neither does he have doubts about his relentless hunt for the phoenix. The phoenix introduces a mystical element that doesn't fit with the earthly concerns of the first part of the film. The ending is standard nonsensical mystical malarky you see in too much anime, where they fall back on "philosophy" when they can't answer the story's issues in a practical way. Also, why are Japanese obsessed with falling in love with robots?
Photo Kano (TV) Bad This is like 'Waiting in the Summer', in that it promises one thing but delivers something different and more conventional. In this case, what poses as a slice-of-school-life romance is actually a low-key ecchi show in disguise. In a way it's creepier than most ecchi shows, because the hero is presented as pure and well-intentioned, protecting girls and just wanting to make good photos - but at the same time he is tricking or blackmailing girls into posing for dirty pictures. This gives the show a real icky feel. In terms of production quality the show is not the absolute worst, but very average and uninteresting.
Ping Pong (TV) Not really good Several high school students struggle to become good table tennis players. -- The show has an unusual animation style which sometimes draws attention to itself; the character design has the deliberate ugliness some shows choose in order to accentuate their manliness. -- The present-day drama is pretty good; it's an interesting touch to have a couple of characters who only speak Chinese. The childhood flashbacks and related fantasy moments seem irrelevant to the drama, and it's only when looking back on the series that their point can be seen: Many of the characters are motivated to play ping pong because of things in their past; the moral of the show is that only those who play for the sake of the game itself will go on to be great players. But this doesn't really justify the fact that the final battle is omitted. The show had previously devoted much time to the emotion and strategy of the ping pong matches, but when the two best players finally are going to compete, the show flashes forward. It's a self-consciously "artistic" flourish that can't be artistically justified, given all the other matches that the series actually showed. -- After quite a strong start, the conclusion of this series was profoundly disappointing. Won't watch again.
(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie) Weak
Place to Place (TV) So-so If you have an allergy to Cute!, avoid this show. It starts well, and moments where Tsumiki has a bashful reaction to being treated in some way by Io are heartwarming. Sadly, as the show goes on it becomes less about the characters and more of a generic comedy - lots of bad (Japanese) puns, cheesy gags, old punchlines delivered in unison. The character-based humour basically disappears, which is a shame as it was the best feature of the show.
Planetes (TV) Very good Should be regarded as a classic. Lovely old-school art, with CG that blends well, and terrific, involved story with an ending that actually feels satisfying (a rare thing in anime). Only real down-side: the characters are mostly stereotypes.
Please Twins! (TV) So-so
Pom Poko (movie) Weak
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (movie) Decent
Porco Rosso (movie) Not really good
Princess Jellyfish (TV) Very good This is a sweet comedy-drama about a female otaku (her interest is jellyfish) who lives with a bunch of fellow freaks, and gets involved with a pretty transvestite boy from an important political family. Well written and engaging, the only real fault is that you want to see the story continue (the manga goes to 11 volumes but has never been issued in English). I do also have a bit of a problem with the "every girl can be a princess" idea that occasionally comes up, as it undermines the heroine's otaku integrity. I don't know how this was dealt with when the manga concluded. Recommended for fans of Fruits Basket, Genshiken, NieA_7, Lucky Star.
Princess Mononoke (movie) Very good
Princess Resurrection (TV) Decent I hated this at first and stopped watching, but eventually finished it and quite enjoyed it. It's not great, but it's pretty decent.
Princess Tutu (TV) Good Based on fairy tales and ballets, this is an atmospheric show, with good music (proper classical music, mostly from ballet). It seems to consist of two 13-ep seasons, as it wraps up satisfactorily halfway through, then continues with a rather more meandering story. The first half is excellent, very touching and reminiscent of Fruits Basket, although a couple of eps feel a little limited by the Magical Girl format. The second half has some interesting ideas (Rue's relationship with her crow father, Drosselmeyer as a kind of villain), but feels vague and directionless. Still, worth seeing, especially the first half.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV) Weak Dammit. Another example of anime fan groupthink elevating a so-so title to classic status. Basically, because the characters and their dilemmas are not dramatically convincing, the whole thing was emotionally unsatisfying. The actual animation is excellent, particularly the unusual imagery of the witch zones. The story had potential to be moving, but the characters are cliched and bland: Madoka has no characteristics other than those required by the plot (and note her stated reason for agreeing to be a magical girl - "I'm useless and worried I'll always lean on others" - there is NO indication of this in her behaviour; did the writer never hear of "show, don't tell"?); Madoka's BFF is even blander. Kyoko is nothing but a blatant anime stereotype. Homura has suggestions of something interesting, but her motives, once discovered, aren't believable. The character interactions are overly melodramatic, with no naturalism for balance. The futuristic setting is superfluous. The "rewrite the universe" ending is an unconvincing plot convenience, as well as being quite unoriginal. The OP/ED are forgettable.
Pumpkin Scissors (TV) Decent The role of a military unit in post-war reconstruction and peace-keeping is an interesting idea, but in this anime it's too often subservient to anime cliches and stereotyped characters. The show has a good look for its budget, and there is some ongoing intrigue with the corrupt Section1 and the mysterious Silver Wheel organisation, but this doesn't develop much within the scope of the show (presumably the manga continues the story further).
R.O.D -The TV- Bad This started with potential, but the plot just became more ridiculous, and at the same time more banal, as it went on. The problem is bad writing, with tedious dialogue and careless plotting. They sink Hong Kong halfway through the series, for no good reason - and then never mention it again!
RahXephon (TV) Decent
RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio (movie) Not really good
Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace (TV) Weak A high school student starts solving crimes with a superintelligent young detective. It starts well, nice weird horror vibe, good art and good acting, and I appreciate the show's agenda of justifying killing bullies and unconvicted criminals. However, the characters never become more than poses and tropes, so the drama never becomes gripping.
Re-Kan! (TV) So-so A high school girl who can see spirits makes some real-life friends. Occasionally the show reaches emotional heights, but as often is feebly generic. Good final arc and ending.
Read or Die (OAV) So-so The action sequences in the 2nd and 3rd parts are the highlight. The scripts and characters are not otherwise particularly interesting.
Red Garden (TV) Weak I think there may be an enjoyable story at the heart of this show, but several factors work against it: the characters spend far, far too much time bickering, crying and complaining, some of the character art is grotesque (is this really how Westerners look to the Japanese?), and the songs are badly sung, irrelevant to the story, and not musically strong enough to make up for stalling the action. Also, the quality of the DVD issue is very poor, with edge enhancement making the linework look ugly, and colours always shifting due to poor compression techniques.
Requiem from the Darkness (TV) Weak
Robotics;Notes (TV) Decent The two central characters are bland but the surrounding characters are all fun. Nice interweaving of plots, inc. mystery/conspiracy elements and augmented reality. The 'real robot' element is nice if you like that stuff. -- Sadly, the last few eps lack the grounded quality of earlier in the series, and the sudden romance between the leads isn't believable or interesting. Also, the monopoles falling from the sky was interesting and made sense when it seemed there was a hidden monopole on the sun, but as that all turned out to be a hoax, the monopoles don't make sense in any way, except as a convenient way to get the heavy robot to move at the end. -- This is still the best of the ";" series.
(The) Rolling Girls (TV) Not really good The world of the story is interesting, and the visuals are attractive when they go into a watercolour style (it's not clear why this style is used). The story and main characters don't really rise above the ordinary. -- There are some good character moments, i.e. the rivalry between the two Bests at the start, though they are quickly removed from the story until the end. We also meet some enjoyable characters during the side-quests. The end revelation that the four main characters had all met as children (and somehow forgotten about it) is unbelievable and feels like a cheap gimmick. Probably won't watch again.
Romeo × Juliet (TV) Weak
Rosario + Vampire (TV) Weak The set-up is an interesting twist on the high school harem genre, but there is WAY too much fan service. The final three-ep arc is very good. Probably won't watch again.
Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise (movie) Not really good The only compelling reason to watch this movie is the virtuoso animation of Hideaki Anno. The action and effects sequences really are beautiful and amazing. As a drama, however, this is not recommendable. There are over a dozen male characters who can be barely differentiated; there is a "romance" which involves no real emotional interaction, culminating in Our Hero attempting to rape the girl (for no explained reason), followed by a "comedy" scene in which he apologises, but the girl sincerely replies, "No, I'm the one who should apologise for hitting someone as wonderful as you over the head." There is also a little girl who never smiles (for no apparent reason), who finally has a laugh with Our Hero (for no apparent reason). The alternate world of the film is differentiated by unusual fashions and drinking glasses, and Our Hero likes his "mook" strong and black - that's pretty pointless world-building. The film ends with a long montage of stuff, which I think shows events from the hero's life followed by the history of this world's civilisation, culminating in space travel. The effect is to dismiss the personal aspect of the hero's narrative at the end of the story, in favour of a pretentious "art" statement that is really superfluous.
Rozen Maiden (TV) Weak
Rumbling Hearts (TV) Weak Overrated. I was very disappointed by this, which turned out to be just a soap opera, with unlikable characters making unbelievable choices, spinning out a drama which could've been effectively told in under an hour. If you like cliched "romance" and don't care about realism, this is for you.
Rurouni Kenshin (TV) Not really good Overrated by the same people who call Trigun a "classic" series. It's cheesy, it's childish, it's repetitive. Even the disappointing Peacemaker was better.
Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (OAV) Not really good Sequel to Rurouni Kenshin. Overrated. Incredibly "serious", if you're 14 years old. It suffers from the common Japanese action-drama problem of characters being too "cool" to be realistic, and too noble to make even one sensible decision.
S-CRY-ed (TV) Very good I was surprised - a standard shonen anime that's actually pretty good. Yes, various teenagers face off using various magic/sci-fi powers, but the characters are interesting and well developed, and you really end up caring about some of them. There's a cute little girl who you DON'T want to strangle, a conflicted bishonen enemy who DOESN'T seem largely motivated by stupidity, and fights that DON'T seem to go on for ever. Win win win. The story premise is also interesting and well-presented.
(The) Sacred Blacksmith (TV) Weak
Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend (TV) Bad I watched both seasons. Considering how highly the show has been rated, I was surprised by how much I disliked it by the end. Despite unfavorable comparisons that I've read, I consider 'Girls beyond the wasteland' to be a better show. ... I didn't like any of the characters in Saekano except Kato and Izumi. The rest of them were obnoxious and overbearing, and leaned heavily on tropes without having endearing qualities to compensate. The protagonist in particular was shouty and boorish pretty much all the time. I recall a couple of good emotional moments near the end of season 1, but they were quickly undermined by characters shouting their emotions at each other at length. I did find the parts that were specifically about developing the video game fairly enjoyable, but that element wrapped up near the beginning of season 2, and the show then devolved into pure soap opera. ... The central conceit of the show that is the source of the title (the main character is trying to train a "boring" girl to be a game heroine) is irrelevant to the central plot (the creation of a game), and is never even presented as relevant, except for a few scenes where people try to tell Kato how a game heroine should behave. Furthermore, the ridiculous of this conceit never results in actual humour. ... There is constant lowlevel fanservice that is kind of annoying, particularly when it happens at moments that are supposed to be serious and emotional. Won't watch again.
Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Flat (TV) Bad See my review for the first season.
Saiyuki (TV) Decent I hated this at first, as it started without really introducing the characters. However, it is a well-crafted anime, with each main character getting a slow backstory reveal that made them more interesting, and episode stories with a lot of variety and genuine drama. It declined slightly toward the end but was still worth viewing. Sadly, the Reload series was much less interesting in character and drama, and dominated by boring fights and "cool" posing.
Saiyuki Reload (TV) Bad
Saiyuki: Requiem (movie) Weak
Sakura Wars (TV) So-so Started annoyingly but got better. Okay, not brilliant. I liked the art, reminded me of Detective Conan. The orchestral BG music is good. The period-style setting is interesting, but the characters are fairly generic and don't really relate to each other in any interesting way. The steampunk element is mostly just cosmetic, unfortunately, and the live-in musical theatre setting is just stupid (the girls drama school aspect was done much better in Kaleido Star). I'd rank this a little over Silent Mobius. A decent time-filler, but less than a classic.
Samurai 7 (TV) Good The first part, recruiting the various ronin in the futuristic city, is the most interesting and exciting part. It goes downhill from there to become fairly cliched, but ends okay.
Samurai Champloo (TV) Decent Overrated. It's really good in the beginning, but after a while seems to lose commitment, just going on for the sake of it. The final showdown wasn't written very well, and was kind-of a let down.
Sands of Destruction (TV) Weak
[email protected] (TV) Decent The first eps are a mix of hikkikomori comedy interrupted by big fantasy action; this action is boring because it has no plot meaning or emotional context. Then things pick up and become quite enjoyable. The central arc involving the main character's mother is the most enjoyable. The voiceovers over the ED are enjoyable. Note: while there is not much fan service, there are a lot of sexual references, including incest.
Sasami: Magical Girls Club (TV) Weak
School Rumble (TV) Good
School Rumble: 2nd Semester (TV) Good
School-Live! (TV) Weak The concept of the show has potential, but is squandered. A story about a girl (Yuki) who has the delusion that she is in a moe slice-of-life show, when really she is in a zombie apocalypse, could be really interesting. Unfortunately there is no difference between her delusion and the reality, apart from the presence of zombies. -- This is really a moe show, without notable wit or personality among the girls. Yuki is yet another anime heroine who is celebrated by her friends as "innocent and fun", when really "stupid and annoying" would be more accurate. Teacher Megu-nee's big "secret" was painfully obvious from the beginning. The mystery about the school being prepared for the zombie apocalypse is never explained, presumably to entice viewers to read the manga series. There are some moving moments toward the end of the series, but they aren't enough to justify the whole show. -- In a better version of this show, there would have been real contrast between delusion and reality. The sweet moe antics that Yuki sees would be contrasted with a much more realistic view of the characters.
Scrapped Princess (TV) So-so Started brilliantly - good art, interesting characters, intriguing world with hints of a HACKsign backstory (though I didn't like Hacksign - that's another story). Then it kind of went on for a while, and the plot development didn't really seem to add anything - it was just more 'stuff' happening.
Second Renaissance (OAV) Masterpiece [Segment of "Animatrix" anthology film]
Seiyu's Life! (TV) Not really good A "moe" show. Three young voice actors/idols try to achieve their dreams. Not bad, but relentlessly "nice". There are some insights into the Japanese voice actor industry, but all the characters are too blandly inoffensive and uniformly well-intentioned to be interesting.
Sengoku Basara - Samurai Kings (TV) Weak
Serial Experiments Lain (TV) Not really good Way overrated. It's hard to understand (and watch), not because it's so artistic and intellectual, but because it's pretentious nonsense.--I recently rewatched this, in the hope that I would discover new value in it. The style is great, and some of the story elements are good. However, the characterisation of Lain is inconsistent and unbelievable (and yes, I'm bearing in mind all the spoilerific stuff we learn about her later), and the story is ridiculous (especially the ending). The show tricks you into thinking it's profound by using an extremely obscure and convoluted method of storytelling, but it's only a trick.
Shakugan no Shana (TV) Not really good I guess it helped that I'd seen a couple of really dull shows before this one, so that its positive components were highlighted. It's not a work of genius, but it has attractive, stylish art, and a story with real mystery and drama. The two core characters are the most interesting and likable; most of the others seem a bit silly or pointless. Disappointingly, after the basics are set up, we seeing the circling plot-that-doesn't-go-anywhere common to ongoing shonen series, so I won't bother with the second season. // Although I enjoyed SnS the first time around, when I tried to rewatch it, I got bored pretty quickly and gave up after four episodes.
Shangri-La (TV) Good The plot is nonsense, the characters aren't realistic, but -- there's an interesting variety of characters and settings, the story keeps you engaged, and the art is good. Will watch again.
Shigurui: Death Frenzy (TV) So-so Slow and pretentious, with exploitative use of extreme violence and sexual content. But the art is great and the story emotionally gripping. This could be cut down to make a great movie.
Shiki (TV) Not really good Horror fans should be warned that this is really cheesy drama, not horror. It could have been good, perhaps, but the characters are too stereotypical, the angst is overdone and feels obligatory rather than natural, and the vampires build a huge gothic castle in a Japanese village! (Which could've worked if the show was comedic or satirical, but we're meant to take it seriously.) For spooky goings-on in modern-day rural Japan, you'd be better off with When They Cry or Ghost Hound.
Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (TV) Decent
Shrine of the Morning Mist (TV) Decent
Shuffle! (TV) Not really good A harem show in which the daughters of the god and demon kings compete for the affections of Our Hero - potentially interesting, you say? Sorry, this is one of the blandest shows I've seen. The best harems are made interesting by the variety of the girls' personalities, but in this case there is nothing really interesting or distinctive about them. The fact that gods and demons are now citizens in the human world plays no part in the show, believe it or not. No culture clashes, no magical high-jinx, no interesting news stories. But there IS fanservice. I like fanservice if it suits the show, but here it's just stuck in for no reason except "here's some service!" I've now seen enough camel-toe panty shots to last me a lifetime... Apart from the fanservice, there's nothing especially objectionable about the show, and I must say the plot development is well done, revealing just enough in the first half to make me want to watch the second half and find out how things develop. That's why Shuffle scores as high as it does.
Silent Möbius (TV) Bad
(The) Slayers (TV) So-so If you were in hospital, and this was all that was on, you would watch it. You wouldn't hate it, but you wouldn't care if you never saw another episode.
(The) Slayers Next (TV) Weak This sequel to the first series is supposedly better than its originator, but I thought it was worse. The plot was far more episodic and less memorable than the first series. Various characters from the old show reappear, but lack the freshness of their original incarnations, and lack any special reason to be in the show again. I honestly can't remember who the villain is, or why our heroes are fighting him, and I don't think I cared very much at the time.
Sola (TV) Not really good
Solty Rei (TV) Awful I made two attempts to watch this series, but got no further than episode 3. The (Japanese) acting is OTT and two-dimensional, and the presence of mechs and the girl with green hair and goggles is nothing more than pandering. The worst thing is the script, which is cliched and simplistic, frequently tipping into moronic. Sadly, there is no good reason to watch this show.
Someday's Dreamers (TV) Very good The basic story is unremarkable, with a witch-in-training meeting a bunch of characters when she goes to the big city, but the writing and directing are excellent. This is really sweet, gentle stuff, and the music is excellent.
Sonic X (TV) Decent
(The) SoulTaker (TV) Worst ever
Sound of the Sky (TV) Not really good It's a mixed bag. To be blunt, this is a pandering moe series disguised with high quality "realistic" production and war themes - a generic slice-of-life show plonked into a military setting without any real adjustment. It looks terrific, on a Ghibli level of detail and atmosphere. However, the main character Kanata is just too super-clutzy and too super-nice, all the time, and the other characters are ditzy anime types rather than believable characters, so you can't really get very interested or attached to them. The lack of military behaviour by the cast seems a wrong choice tonally - it could have provided great contrast, but instead there's just lots of kindly conversation and even hugs. Ultimately, this lack of emotional believability means the show lacks depth and long-term interest. As a charming girls dramedy this can't compete with Fruits Basket, Haibane Renmei, Azumanga Daioh, Bamboo Blade, Kaleido Star, Someday's Dreamers, Strawberry Marshmallow.
Speed Grapher (TV) So-so
Spice and Wolf (TV) Bad Decent looking fantasy anime with very poor writing. The lead female character is just a bitch, the male character is bland, the romance is phony, the banter is unbelievable and not funny, the trading insider info doesn't make much sense if you really think about it (no-one would pay more for pelts just because they smell like apples; put that set of scales on a sloping table wouldn't affect the balance). And it ends unsatisfyingly, on a cliff-hanger (I watched both seasons).
Spice and Wolf II (TV) Bad See review of season 1
Spiral (TV) So-so
Spirited Away (movie) Masterpiece
Squid Girl (TV) Good
Star Blazers (TV) Weak Wow, this dated really badly, didn't it? The animation is often very weak, and the story is consistently sub-Star Trekian drivel. Macross is still good, though.
Steamboy (movie) Weak
Steel Angel Kurumi (TV) Bad
Steins;Gate (TV) Bad There were a few issues cropping up, but the moment I realised the show really had problems was when they started talking about using a black hole to compress computer data. That is an amazingly stupid idea for a science fiction show to suggest. There are a few emotionally powerful moments, which I guess are why people like this show, but the rest of it is weak: a number of plot inconsistencies; "twists" which we can see long before the characters do; a stupid and annoying childhood friend character; cheap overdone soap opera emotions; unbelievable pot-poiler plotting (i.e. new stuff introduced just to keep the story going); characters not noticing or actually forgetting important things for the sake of plot. Glossy junk. Watching this was a waste of time. (I particularly disliked the part where the hero went to various other chars who had got their heart's desires as a side effect of various time travel shenanigans, and convinced them all to give this up, so that the love interest (who had also got what she wanted) could go back to how things "should" be. Also, at first it is stated that only the hero can perceive alterations to the timeline; then, when the plot requires it, other chars can too; then the ability is limited to the hero again.)
Stellvia (TV) Weak
Stratos 4 (TV) Decent
Strawberry Marshmallow (TV) Excellent A clever and well-made show about four grade schoolers and an older sister. It's tempting to call this a moe show, except that the characters are psychologically and physically realistic, and not sexualised at all. There is an OVA - eps 3 and 5 are worth watching, but the other eps focus on the character of Miu, who is even more obnoxious than in the TV series.
Strawberry Marshmallow (OAV) So-so 3 eps. Episodes 3 and 5 [second ep of Encore OAV] are the best, being less gimmicky, more slice-of-life, and less focused on Miu. Miu is just horrible, and the eps focused on her are hard to watch.
Strawberry Marshmallow Encore (OAV) So-so 2 eps. See review of Strawberry Marshmallow (OAV).
Summer Wars (movie) Not really good
Sunday Without God (TV) Not really good This is a series of two halves, each half containing two 3-ep arcs: 1) The first half is okay, with potential. The story setup is unusual and intriguing, the post-apocalyptic world is interesting and varied, the art has a vivid autumnal palette. On the downside, the main character is one of those goody two-shoes girls who goes around giving people moral lessons based on good-heartedness and naivity verging on idiocy. The road-trip aspect reminds me of Wolfs Rain, but is not on the same level, as this show's dramatic moments tend to rely on cheesiness and cliche. In the first arc, there is an obvious question the main character never asks, which is annoying. 2.) The second half of the series throws away the premise of the show to become a typical school-set urban fantasy. The first arc of this half is, in retrospect, pointless and dull (the heroine is kidnapped and put in a school; she and the other students escape; the heroine's other traveling companions apparently did nothing during the period she was gone). - The second arc is about Alice (a male character from the previous arc) trying to destroy a "pocket universe" which some school students created by wishing for it (wishes come true in this world), to stop time after one of their friends died. Alice escaped to the real world with a fellow student who, in the real world, had no physicality but was only a ghost. Nonsensically, at the end it is revealed that Alice is the student who died, while the "ghost" is one of the living characters who made the wish. How come she was a ghost although she was a living person with a real body? How come she had a solid body at the end? How come Alice has a physical body, but, when the pocket universe is being destroyed, says he can't leave it but has to vanish? -- As I said, the first half of this series had good qualities and potential for interesting stories. That might be worth watching for newcomers, but given the overall disappointment of the series, it's not worth watching again. [The OP theme was forgettable; the ED theme was crap.]
(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross (TV) Excellent It takes maybe half-a-dozen episodes to get past the somewhat formulaic set-up, but then the ongoing saga becomes engrossing, as do the characters and their relationships. It's hard to believe the last third of the series was an addition to cash in on the show's popularity, as it's such a fulfilling development of the show's themes beyond the obvious thrills of wartime conflict.
Supernatural: The Anime Series (OAV) Bad As a fan of Supernatural and anime, I had high hopes - which were quickly disappointed. The makers of this show just don't seem to "get" Supernatural, instead turning it into a generic/bad anime, about half a notch above L/R in quality. Weirdly, in the extras they say they got a live-action TV writer to write the scripts because they didn't want the usual anime style of writing, but then you see a writing conference in which the directors won't let the writer put in ONE LINE to give the monster of the week some sort of motivation. This stupidity is visible throughout the production: the visuals are garish, the (Japanese) acting lacks all subtlety, the music is tonally wrong, the plots are simplistic, the dialog is blandly generic, and there's no good reason for radically changing the appearances of John and Bobby. Throughout the extras, the directors say they are limited by the short episode format, but we know that this is bull: there are a number of anime shows that have done great things within the 23 minute limit. At the very LEAST this show should have been as good as Witch Hunter Robin. Instead it's just an embarrassment.
Tanaka-kun is Always Listless (TV) Very good From the first episode I did not have high hopes for this series. The two main characters are not very interesting or believable: Tanaka, the boy who has no energy, and his friend Ohta who carries him around. Ohta's dedication to his lazy friend is never explained, but the main thing that bothered me was that if someone was like Tanaka in real life, they would probably have a serious medical condition! -- The series improved once the supporting characters started showing up (all girls). These characters were funny and interesting, and the series as a whole was lifted. By the end I was really enjoying the mellow mood and character interactions. -- The OP/ED are forgettable, but the background music is very good; it's especially on display during the end credits for the short animations in the DVD extra features. I liked the background art of the Japanese town; OTOH the crowd scenes were less imaginative than some animes (in which artist show some wit and imagination in the background characters).
Tari Tari (TV) Decent Most other reviews will give you a good idea of this show, so I'll just make a couple of points: 1. The choir club is technically choir-and-badminton, but badminton is completely sidelined after the first couple of eps, which is a shame. 2. Towards the end there is a jarring narrative jump, from hints that the chairman might plan to close the school, to everyone knowing the school is to be closed and that the school festival has been cancelled 3. The show holds off showing the choir club actually performing together until the end - one ep ends with them about to audition for the school festival, but the performance is never shown. Nearest thing is the West Shopping District Rangers section, in which they spontaneously sing a hero-show theme song. Why no real performance before the finale? Either it was simply to create suspense, or they didn't trust that a choral performance by these characters would hold viewers' interest. 4. My other issue is the opening scene of ep 7, in which each char is given a note and they then sing a harmony. Unfortunately it is obvious that their voices are all autotuned, making the result disturbingly synthetic. Fortunately I didn't notice autotune used anywhere else.
Tattoon Master (OAV) So-so
Tenchi Muyo! (OAV 1/1992) Weak Old school fans call this a classic, but they are viewing it through rose-tinted glasses. In comparison with modern shows, even cookie-cutter harem comedies, the characters are underdeveloped and shallow. Oh, and the comedy isn't funny at all. The art is pretty good, but the female character designs are unattractively sharp. I will update this review when I finish the series, but at the moment I can't recommend this at all. // I could never bring myself to go back to this series, it left such a bad taste in my mouth.
Texhnolyze (TV) Decent First time I watched this I loved it (didn't see the last 4 episodes). Second time I watched it, I decided it was a terrific style-piece; the hero coming to terms with his mecha prosthetics is a good story, and the inter-gang feuding is interesting, moody stuff, but the plot is full of holes (one problem among many: am I the only one to realise that the character Ran DOESN'T ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING?) and the ending is nonsense. It figures this was written by the same guy who did Serial Experiments Lain.
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World (TV) So-so I watched it to the end (12 episodes), so it's better than most anime I've seen lately. Standard magical girl with added friends and angst. Nothing special.
To Love-Ru (TV) Decent This is an ecchi romantic comedy, redeemed by its sci-fi elements. -- The first three eps make a very bad impression, setting up the premise in a way that is completely rote and without subtlety or freshness, with cliched characters, and visuals appropriate to a kids' show. This improves from ep 4, when the romantic comedy stuff is reduced and the emphasis is more on a different sci-fi theme every episode, with weird concepts taken to imaginative extremes. The last three eps are obligatory crisis-and-resolution, but the bulk of the middle eps are interesting and amusing. -- If you ignore the constant, useless fanservice and boring romance elements, this is entertaining and worth watching.
Tokko (TV) Weak Terrible in all sorts of ways, but not so excruciating as to make me stop watching it. For a 2006 show, it looks very crude. The character designs are generic, except for the hero's stupid multicoloured hair. The drama is cliched and unrealistic (using the old device of governmental factions somehow simultaneously coexisting and at war with each other), and the comedy is painful (the accompanying jews-harp sound makes it even worse). There are some effective horror moments near the beginning of the series, but these are exceptions. Notice how the blood on the walls of the abandoned-for-5-years apartment building is still bright red! The characters are uninteresting - only a couple of characters have actual personality, and that's based solely in cliche. A couple of potentially interesting side characters are introduced towards the end, but they have no chance of development. The last episode (after the series was presumably cancelled due to complete lack of interest) is hilariously mishandled - a suitable capstone for this jumbled pile of cliches and mistakes. BTW, the DVD subtitles are for the dub version of the script only.
Tokyo Underground (TV) Good Low budget youth TV that does what it promises, though I can't help thinking that a darker directorial approach might have produced something more impressive. The usual Fudged Mystical Ending™ not withstanding, this is actually one of the better animes I've seen lately, with interesting characters, memorable sequences, decent art, and an interesting concept effectively realised. Also interesting is the way they had to wrap up the plot after 26 episodes due to lack of interest (due to early episodes being misleadingly comedic and set above-ground). Obviously they originally planned to have our heroes return from the bottom level of the underworld to storm the villain's citadel, but instead ended things early, not brilliantly but to reasonable satisfaction. Note: as with Lunar Legend Tsukihime and Midori Days, this has turned out to be a show I like to rewatch despite it technically not being great.
Toradora! (TV) Decent
(The) Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk (TV) Not really good
Trigun (TV) Decent Overrated. I think this show gets a lot of hype from people who saw it early in their anime career, and were blown away by its story arc and emotional range compared to Western cartoons. It's an okay show, but there are a lot better out there.
tsuritama (TV) Weak This show features a unique visual style for backgrounds, with a colourful illustrative style that looks a bit flat. Show's not bad, but I didn't really buy the characters - they didn't quite convince as emotionally real people rather than anime 'types'. The alien Haru was very irritating at first, and the fanservice of his sister was a bit gratuitous (it seems blatant fanservice is much more common now than it used to be, as though even a children's fairy tale needs T&A to be commercial). Not a painful experience, but kind of a waste of time. No need to watch again.
Ultimate Otaku Teacher (TV) Weak I was expecting something like Great Teacher Onizuki, but after spending one episode learning how to teach in a normal high school, the main character is whisked away to an eccentric elite school, where his focus is entirely on arcs where he helps someone to overcome a personal problem - there is no actual teaching after the first ep. The structure is like a dating game adaptation, so each character who is helped then becomes a mere background character - there is no sense of building a group of interesting characters who interact. I doubt I'll watch again.
Un-Go (TV) Weak
Ushio & Tora (TV) Not really good Pretty well made, but after a while (from when the hair-combing arc started) I felt like I was wasting my time watching it. The Japanese folklore in the first part of the series is interesting, but is then replaced by made-up stuff. None of the characters has much depth. The action and drama are quite good, but the comedy gets repetitive. -- The final showdown is stretched over a number of episodes and feels too long. Various characters from the series turn up at the end, and I had trouble remembering who all of them were. There were a number of moving moments at the end. Overall, a fun shonen show, especially if you are new to the genre, but not something you need to seek out.
Vampire Princess Miyu (TV) Weak
(The) Vision of Escaflowne (TV) Decent
Waiting in the Summer (TV) So-so The packaging is deceptive because it suggests this is a SOL anime about school friends making a movie. In fact it is much more conventional: the alien girlfriend trope combined with a bunch of love triangles (one big love pentagon, to be exact). So expect a LOT of people talking about their feelings while sad piano music plays. -- It's done pretty well, with fairly realistic characters facing believable teen relationship issues, except for the ending, which is more contrived and reliant on "love will win" cliches. There's a bit near the end where the main character monologs about how he films because he wants to be remembered; interesting because I suspect this is the director/writer talking about his motive for working in the anime industry. He might have stood a better chance of being remembered if he had produced something a bit less generic. All through this show I was wishing I could watch the show I thought I was getting, instead of the one I got.
Wandaba Style (TV) Weak Premise has potential but execution is banal, and, fatally for a comedy, it's not funny.
WATAMOTE (TV) Excellent An alienated, delusional school girl tries to become popular but fails. Well made and enjoyably messed up.. One of the side characters takes an interest in the loser main character, and if there's a sequel I'd like to see this developed.
Welcome to the NHK (TV) Decent I appreciated the thought that went into the arcs of the series (I think there were four distinct arcs) dealing with life issues in a serious way, but... The final arc depended on the main character being a complete cardboard idiot, so they could have the climactic moment on the cliff. They at least could have helped themselves by tying his inaction to his NEETism, but I guess that never occurred to them. This cheap plotting really reduced my liking for the whole show. (BTW, I noticed a radical change in the art style in several episodes, esp. during the Mouse Road arc.)
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (TV) So-so (AKA Inou battle within everyday life) This show is not quite sure which genre it wants to be (comedy, supernatural adventure, harem, slice-of-life) and never quite settles into one direction. Because of this, it's moderately enjoyable, but doesn't become great in any particular area. The magic powers that the main characters acquire aren't used much. There is, thankfully, very little fanservice.
When They Cry - Higurashi (TV) Good The differences between the alternate-reality stories are interesting, the production is of fairly high quality, and some of the horror is so appalling in its extremity that it's hilarious, but the pace is often very slow, with the same exposition speeches being heard again and again. If you have a strong stomach and like a good conspiracy, it's worth watching.
Whisper of the Heart (movie) So-so
Witch Hunter Robin (TV) Good I had to bump up my rating by a couple of points after I realised I was watching this show for the 3rd time! The show is problematic because the colour scheme is extremely drab, and the action is generally low key and very slow. At the same time, the premise of the show is engaging, and the atmosphere is very appealing if you like gloominess (very unappealing if you don't). After the introductory episodes, the show drags for a while in "case of the week" episodes. The energy increases in the second half when there is more intrigue with the witchhunting organisation, and our hero goes on the run. I'd like to see this franchise extended some day....
Witchblade (TV) So-so Disappointing after a strong start. At first it looks as though the single mother and little girl will be on the run from child welfare while fighting off monsters, but only the monster part persists beyond the first episodes. Instead our heroes settle in the standard apartment building with bunch of wacky extras, and plot-wise we get some decent corporate intrigue, and some faction fighting, which doesn't interest me much. The moody corporate head seems interesting but doesn't develop enough as a character. Oh well.
Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil (TV) Awful Very weak. In one scene we see someone in the background cosplaying as Solty Rei, indicating this show is made by the same people, and explaining why it is so dull, cliched, unfunny and mediocre. Actually, this show is a bit better than that one, but that doesn't mean it is good. -- From the description I was hoping for something like Someday's Dreamers (a lovely show), but instead it's more like Witch Hunter Robin (an interesting, atmospheric show with flawed pacing), but not nearly as good. -- The heroine is possibly the most boring main character I've ever seen in an anime. The character designs are sometimes weird or grotesque (presumably not meant to be). There are a bunch of characters who are supposed to be funny but never are (the heroine's mascot/pet is unfunny, ugly, and a pervert responsible for gratuitous OTT fan service). Also, this is actually a giant robot show (by stealth). I've watched 5 eps and haven't been entertained; don't know if I'll finish. (Note: I never did finish it.)
Wolf Girl & Black Prince (TV) Not really good For a romance anime the production is adequate, though in no way special, but the moral aspect of the show is disturbing, even sickening, because the story glamorises a girl's love for a boy who is sadistic, controlling, emotionally cold, manipulative and violent. It seems to deliberatly encourage the spurious and dangerous notion that a woman can change a bad man by loving him a lot. But he's the best-looking guy in school, so I guess that makes it okay?
Wolf's Rain (TV) Excellent
Wolf's Rain (OAV) Excellent This is in fact the conclusion to the Wolf's Rain series, which they weren't able to do during the TV run due to the animators falling behind.
(The) World God Only Knows (TV) Decent
(The) World God Only Knows Season Two (TV) Very good I've learned to distrust popular opinion, but in this case it turned out to be correct: this is significantly better than the first season. The arcs are more interesting and less padded, and there is a bit more of a feeling that the show means something. The only exception to this is the 2-ep Haqua arc (and she reappears in bonus ep 8.5). She's just not a very interesting character (plus the 2nd ep of the arc is mediocre in terms of drama and action). Sadly I have a feeling she will reappear next season in order to deliver further exposition on the "loose souls" plot element. What I hope we'll also see in the next season is the addition of a series arc plot, to give the thing a more unified feel.
(The) World of Narue (TV) Good This is really nice. It certainly won't set the world aflame, but every aspect is done with a high level of skill and enthusiasm. The characters are likable and there's some good humour. I noticed the director took care to always have movement in every shot, so the whole thing seems life-like and, er, animated.
Xam'd: Lost Memories (ONA) Weak None of the characters behave like real people. They are just a bunch of melodramatic anime cliches. Technically the show is well made, but I found the substance of the drama repulsive in its cynicism and artificiality.
xxxHOLiC (TV) Weak
Yuruyuri - Happy Go Lily (TV) Good This is a slice-of-life show about girls in a high school club. It took me a while to get into, and as with most modern comedy series there are too many database characters and too much ecchi. In this case, the ecchi is implied rather than shown, with one character pursuing another sexually, and another who is constantly getting nosebleeds from dirty (lesbian) thoughts. -- There's also a scene where one character is trying to kiss another; it's set up to look like a rape but done for comic effect, which is rather disturbing. I know that hentai has normalised rape as an erotic convention, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. -- All that said, I did come to like the characters and enjoy their relationships, and am actually looking forward to seeing the 2nd season.
Yuruyuri - Happy Go Lily (TV2) Good More of the same. Pretty good.
Zone of the Enders (TV) Decent
Zone of the Enders: Idolo (OAV) So-so