rainbowcourage's Anime

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Aa Megami-sama: Tatakau Tsubasa (special) Good
Ah! My Goddess (TV) Very good It's really sweet and heartwarming, and has leads that are so helpless it's pretty cute. Usually I don't really go for romances like this, but Ah! My Goddess had enough true conflict and enough of a well-built world around the goddesses that I kept going. I did wish at times that the pattern of Keiichi and Belldandy doubting one another and reaffirming their love with a hug or words would stop, and that they progressed a little, but it was so adorable that I didn't care that much. While not exactly deep, their romance is so well-founded and has such a solid foundation that it is a joy to watch.
Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy (TV) Very good ^see above
Air (TV) Excellent Air and I had a love/hate relationship, but once I just accepted that I'd have no clue what was going on, I got over it. The last three episodes made me cry. The character designs are luscious, as is the animation, and the OP is drop-dead gorgeous. It is just about beautiful, sometimes moe girls going through tragic things in their lives and falling victim to fate, and while I usually can't stand moe this series worked for me somehow. I'm also a sucker for well-done tragedies and for stories within stories.
Air Gear (TV) Good It's shounen with an adrenaline rush and some kick-ass character designs, which saves it from being generic even with the "I must get better, I must get stronger" theme. And while it was tournament-style and juvenile to some degree, and ridiculous some of the time, it is pretty addicting and the world it takes place in is convincing. The downside: it was made as a promo for the manga, and therefore stops after introducing the character's ultimate goal of being the Sky King, way before he reaches that goal. But the characters are interesting, and maybe eventually some studio will pick it up again.
Aishiteruze Baby (TV) Good This show bills itself as shoujo, but really it just runs on pure cuteness--and not of the moe or big-breasted kind, the honest-to-goodness cuteness that is small children. But even I need a break from the syrup, so small doses are best for this understated two-fold coming-of-age story.
Baccano! (TV) Very good Lovely, lovely, lovely for its style and intersecting plotlines. It is impossible to piece everything together until the last episodes, and even then it takes a tad bit of speculation and careful attention. The characters are zany and unique, and it is part mystery, part comedy, and part just plain-old 1920's-esque gangsta style.
Bamboo Blade (TV) Good I usually don't do sports anime, and I think BB could have been half the length it was, but the girls are commendable enough to be worth a watch. They aren't sexualized at all and they each have a worthy personality quirk which makes the show cute and lovable. Nothing amazing, but a good watch nonetheless.
Basilisk (TV) Good Ah yes, yet another pair of star-crossed lovers. Basilisk was a mixed bag, addicting in its gruesome action but sorely lacking in character development as characters got introduced only to die--although I guess that's part of the fun...Also lacking were empathetic characters, with Gennosuke the far more bearable of the two leads. Side character developments were lopsided, with stand-outs being the Yashamaru-Hotarubi-Saemon drama, Okoi's secret technique, and Koshirou going off the deep end. In the end, though, Basilisk pulled itself together nicely and delivered a solid story with tons of action and grossness.
BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (TV) Excellent An excellently done slice-of-life, Beck is slow-paced with purpose. The characters aside from Koyuki can be a little rough at times, bringing to life the competitive world they live in, but it is also about a very slow rise to, well, implied fame at the end. It is as much about determination and hard work as anything, and Koyuki's relationship with Maho is sprinkled here and there but could have been developed further. Either way, it's a joy to watch and root for the band.
Berserk (TV) Excellent The animation for Berserk may suck, but the story sure doesn't. It's rich and deep and draws you in immediately, right up until its shocking non-conclusion. Both Griffith and Guts are fascinating characters, Griffith for his many facets and his obsessive/possessivness, and Guts because he is so simple but compelling. Both have intense dualities: Griffith has a very charismatic and dreamy side, but also has a much darker personality beneath which the viewer can watch slowly warp and twist. Guts himself may begin as a rough-and-tough loner but eventually learns to let his gentle side show every once in a while. Caska is one of the best female leads out there; she is strong and confident but also wans someone to love her. The characters make mistakes and often suffer the consequences. A warning: the ending upset me a lot. Be prepared.
Black Lagoon (TV) Excellent Season 1 & 2: Black Lagoon excels in Hollywood action, but its characters have more depth than the shiny brazen confidence of typical femme fatals and James Bonds that are manufactured every year in American movies (aside from the awesome Bond himself). It's a little darker, a little less matter-of-fact about the moral choices being made, and all because of Rock, who represents an outsiders' view. Rock represents the doubt that any normal human being acclimated to society would feel in that kind of situation, and his relationship with Revy is also fascinating to watch. One of the best confrontations between characters that I've ever seen in anime is between Rock and Revy when they are eating lunch together, and they just start fighting and having a huge argument and both of them cross lines that they know they shouldn't. The supporting cast is excellent too, such as the mysterious Dutch and the fearsome Balalaika, and though the series focuses on respective missions, it is not episodic--each mission takes two or three episodes and has fully fleshed-out supporting characters and kick-ass action. Eventually, the series delves into darker territory as it examines what Rock's choices in life will be and how comfortable he is, as he puts it, "standing in the twilight."
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage (TV) Excellent ^see above; consistent throughout
Blue Gender (TV) Very good The perfect example of a tense, dramatic setting used for character development. The relationship between Yuuji and Marlene is one of the most excruciatingly developed out there, going through multiple phases over the course of the series with equal levels of intensity. As a result the plot drags a bit in the middle and the blue become boring as an enemy, but hey what's a little bug-killing in the face of a stellar romance?
Bokura ga Ita (TV) Excellent A tear-jerking look into romance and true love, the only not-so-likable aspect of this show was the female lead. She was fine, really, but kind of a wet mop compared to the enigmatic Yanno whose past is slowly revealed. It cannot be denied that their relationship is endearing, sad, and introspective. The ending, however poignant, may not exactly be satisfying to romantics such as myself, however.
CANAAN (TV) Very good CANAAN sets itself up to fall short by trying to build an action/revenge series on an ambitious premise at the outset. Despite the plot holes and a series which tries to overreach itself, CANAAN does well at taking archetypal characters and expanding them far beyond their normal roles, from the stolid but changing Canaan to the complex Alphard to the batshit crazy Liang Qi. Weakest in the cast is Maria, with whom Canaan shares a decidedly close-friendship-with-yuri-overtones. Action is combined with a surprising amount of sophistication for an all-around good show. Most useless character: Yunyun. Show-stealers: the gruesome, twisted, fascinating Hakko/Santana subplot
Casshern Sins (TV) Casshern Sins blew me away. The world is falling apart in the most stylish, tragic way possible. Production values were through the roof, with brilliant reinterpretations of the '70's character designs, and sharply choreographed fight scenes. The music was another highlight; keep an ear out for the lovely oohing chorus during melancholy scenes. The only conceivable problem is the slow pace of the story, but that pace allows it to unfold and explore Casshern's odyssey through a rapidly decaying world. The themes are subtly complex, dealing with reincarnation, immortality, and human nature and our capacity for greed-and the bitter fruits of that greed and good intentions gone awry. I could analyze this series for hours and still have a wealth of material to discuss. Every character is both ethereal and fully-fleshed, teaching Casshern a lesson in this harsh world where he watches everyone die but himself.
Castle in the Sky (movie) Good Not one of my favorite Miyazaki films, Castle in the Sky is nonetheless a magical journey to find some kind of truth. It is romantic and adventurous, and boasts nice landscapes and an appropriate sense of headstrong discovery.
(The) Cat Returns (movie) Decent
(Le) Chevalier D'Eon (TV) Very good This is one of the stranger animes I've seen, mostly because of the gender-bending going on. But it is rich in its color palette, especially pertaining to character design; it is also rich in political intrigue, and has gothic elements of horror and magic. Durand is a particularly likable character, while d'Eon blows hot and cold, and the deceased Lia remains appropriately mysterious. While my progress through the series was slow, I think the ending was rewarding; beware, though, that this series won't click with everyone.
Chrono Crusade (TV) Good The spoiler-ridden ending of this series is what sets it apart from others in the fantasy genre. Rosette is cute and fiery, and it becomes more and more apparent just how devoted Chrono is to her--the strength of this series lies not in the plot but in their relationship. I wouldn't recommend the dub--Hilary Haag is overblown as Rosette, who sounds like she also has a constant head cold. I would recommend watching just because of the unexpected direction the ending takes, after sending a tonally different message throughout most of the series.
Claymore (TV) Excellent I ripped my way through Claymore, and I loved it. I'm not sure how to classify it; the action orientation leads me to shounen, but shounen is meant for a male audience. Claymore struck me as a very sophisticated shounen-type show, the primary focus being the action, conflict being resolved through action, but with substantial character development, and a lovely linear plot that was nonetheless engaging. While none of the plot elements were original, the world and idea of Claymore was engaging and imaginative, and Clare's journey was gripping. I know there's a lot of flak about the ending, but it didn't bother me, and it was open-ended enough for a second season which I hope will be coming in the near-future. What did bother me were the OP and ED--both were excellent until the singing started.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV) Excellent Much like its lead character Lelouch, Code Geass walks a fine line. A wealth of characters and plots provide so many opportunities for the writers it leaves me drooling. So much is jammed into each episode, and it is so unpredictable and delicious that I can’t wait to see the show in its entirety. The battle is ominous and fatalistic where "evil" is opportunistic, greedy, cruel, but still sane. And "good" seems to have been a mishap during season 1 as Lelouch uses the front of liberating Japan, a noble cause, to scheme for revenge. And the characters are full of surprises and side-switching, while not abundant, has become more common. This is a plot-twisting, gut-wrenching ride of a show as we follow Lelouch’s failures, triumphs, falls into darkness, redemptions, love interests, burning vengeance, genius plotting, manipulation, aspirations, egoism, and, above all, character: for will Lelouch emerge from this ordeal as a hero, or as a villain? I agree with all that season 1 did surpass season 2, but season 2 had its moments as well, particularly the ending.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 (TV) Excellent ^see above
Corpse Princess: Aka (TV) Very good
Corpse Princess: Kuro (TV) Very good
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Excellent A staple of anime, this show's strength comes in its music and in its intense character study. My favorite character was Faye, and the sadness I was left with at her past only being partially pieced-together. Though there is an overarching plot which becomes important in the last few episodes particularly, it is most the episodic escapades of a bounty-hunting ship--and it boasts one of the most famous last lines of any anime out there. I've never much liked jazz, but Cowboy Bebop made me adore it. One problem I had was that I never felt like I connected much with Spike, but he was supposed to be a rather mysterious character, so that's not surprising. I am an anomaly, however, in connecting more with director Watanabe's other musically-centered effort, Samurai Champloo.
Cross Game (TV)
D.N.Angel (TV) Good This is a good anime for the young teenage crowd, ages 11-14, and that's how old I was when I saw it; therefore my view is from those memories. Those memories portray it as being good--while the plot was nothing special, nor the themes deep, the characters were likable and the situation of Daisuke lamentable. I remember how sad but satisfying the ending was, and I was particularly impressed with the fulfillment of the romantic interest.
Dai-Guard (TV) Not really good
Darker than Black (TV) Excellent Part of DtB's draw is its ambiguity--it rarely explains anything flat out, preferring a subtler approach or outright ambivalence towards The Big Questions, e.g. what contractors are, what happened to the world, etc. And then there's this thing called atmosphere. Despite the fact that the first season's major flaw is the integration of the main plotline into the arcs, DtB had such flair, style, and mystery that it's impossible not to get drawn into the equally enigmatic protagonist--Hei's--quest for, what else? vengeance, and answers.
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor (TV) Unfortunately, this installment of the franchise seems to share a lot of the same problems season one did, except to a larger degree. While its vagueness has always lent a sense of mystery to the show, this season left more questions than it answered, and meandered through meaningless dangling plotlines. If the questions felt intentionally open, I'd have less reservations, but at this point it's clear the creators often don't think the storyline through, dropping characters in without thinking the consequences through. Despite some stylish action, the story has little substance; combined with taciturn characters the show, while entertaining, will always come off as shallow.
Dead Girls (OAV) Very good
Death Note (TV) Very good Death Note stands very well on its own wright, without all the hype, although it certainly goes downhill after the death of a certain character. I'm not sure why I struggled so much to finish this, although I think that the "magic" of Death Note was kind of spoiled for me long ago by people panning it over and over again and talking about how over-hyped it is. The music was ridiculous, but everything else was good. The plot was engaging, and I liked the character designs, and Light's spiral into madness is fully relieved in a scene in the last episode which leaves the viewer cringing in shame and embarrassment for Light.
Eden of the East (TV) The quality of this show is no surprise considering its production team. This should appeal to a broad audience--a vast conspiracy with an almost supernatural twist, and lovable characters, flawless execution...there isn't much to criticize here. Unfortunately, with two movies completing the story the series itself is incomplete. It might have been better as a movie all along.
ef: a tale of melodies (TV) Excellent I rank season 2 slightly better than memories because I liked both main couples and thought that each had solid foundation. Yuu and Yuuko were given more focus during the season, and Yuuko's shocking revelation in episode 6 puts the series into a tailspin of drama that truly keeps the viewer on the edge of his or her seat. However, my favorite pair is still Kuze and Mizuki; at first, I wasn't sold on Mizuki's personality, but her later actions endeared her to me, and I always liked Kuze. Once again, the art, direction, and style of the series is particularly striking. If you are a poet at heart, you'll appreciate the lyricism of the series and its liberal use of words and fragmented phrases.
ef: a tale of memories (TV) Very good Excellent drama and romance done in the most poetic way I've ever seen translated to screen. The visual style of ef, combining cut-outs and shadows filled in with patterns, and liberal use of metaphors and symbolism is stunning and effectual. The characters are ethereal and mythical, and speak in riddles while the story has enough melodrama for a soap-opera, although it is somehow not cheesy but rather engaging. I did have a major reality problem with Hiro's eventual choice within his love triangle, but season 2 has eased some of my anger about this. However, it is truly Renji and Chihiro's story which takes center stage.
Elfen Lied (TV) Good I have mixed feelings about this show. The themes were all over the place, which detracted from what could have been a powerful central theme. It felt like the amount of violence and sometimes random plot elements such as Nyu running away close to the beginning made things messy. My biggest problem of all was the amount of torturing Nana went through. Again and again and again. It was unnecessary, and it eventually garnered not sympathy from me, but disgust. She showed traits of not only loyalty, but stupidity and helplessness. In contrast to Nana's pretty basic character, it was Lucy's emergence which kept me watching. She was over-the-top at times in terms of cruelty, I'll admit; however, part of that made her fascinating. Most "badasses" in anime are usually misunderstood or never get there either because their writers make said bad-ass have a true and noble goal or never quite bring them to Lucy's level in terms of cruelty, while managing to garner sympathy. The only success story in this area I can think of is Revvy of Black Lagoon but even she doesn't approach Lucy's level of cruelty. Lucy turns this concept inside-out. She is incredibly hell-bent, but she isn't the villain, and her soft spot is Kota--and the fact that she even has a soft spot is a miracle. You hated her; I guess considering my hardness toward Nana and my more sympathetic view towards Lucy, we just have different tastes and sympathies in that area. They were both abused--at least Lucy did something about it. I also tend to like empowered females because I think they're underrepresented in any type of media, especially straight females who are prostituted on shows like Grey's Anatomy, not that Lucy's a good example of how empowered females should behave. While most of the plot was mired down in unnecessary violence, Lucy's characterization might be the one area in which Elfen Lied gets a "Masterpiece" rating from me, for uniqueness and originality.
Emma: A Victorian Romance (TV) Very good It’s been compared to a Jane Austen novel, but I think the time period and place may be the only similarities. Ms. Austen’s characters are prideful to a fault, opinionated, and stubborn. At the heart of Emma, William and Emma are two kind, gentle, and accepting people. I loved seeing two people have to go against their core natures of just accepting their paths in life to be with each other, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end even until the last episode. The suspense was excellent, and though the character designs and even the calmness of the characters took some getting-used to, they were a real treat.
Emma: A Victorian Romance Second Act (TV) Very good ^see above; consistent throughout
Ergo Proxy (TV) Very good When it's not putting its foot in its mouth with real or faux ghost-in-the-shell-esque philosophizing, Ergo Proxy is a fascinating tale of rebellion in a dystopian refuge away from earth's destroyed surface, with the supernatural aspect of proxies. Gotta hand it to Manglobe, their characters always always always rock so hard; even gothic bitch Re-L is given ten times more depth than so many characters in the medium. It's a story which seems to master the line between incomprehensible ambiguity and let's-dumb-it-down info-dumping; you have to pay attention to understand some of the finer points, but it's still a bit of a brain tease.
Eureka Seven (TV) Very good A truly remarkable balance of actually enjoyable mecha, coming-of-age, and fantasy, Eureka 7 spans across many genres and does it well. Renton is a likable lead, and he's not your average whiny teenage boy, he goes a step beyond that; he is funny though he doesn't mean to be, and he shows guts and unwavering devotion to his love-at-first-sight Eureka. The supporting cast only help to add color, notably the fascinating Holland and his lover Talho, in one of the best-depicted side romances in a show I've ever seen, not to mention between two mature adults. It is a joy to watch both Eureka and Renton grow, and struggle to truly communicate and understand each other, for though it is love at first sight for Renton, he continues to learn about Eureka throughout the series. And their love may take the stage at certain times, but Eureka and Renton are also able to grow without each other. The comedy moments are also gold in both the sub and the dub, although Renton's voice-actor in the dub can make your ears bleed if you're not careful.
Fruits Basket (TV) Very good Fruits Basket had a very fully-developed, heart-warming, and well-paced story. The strength of Fruits Basket comes from its characters who are resilient with innocence and youth. Warning: this is not a story for the cynical. It is hopeful but not childish, and there are quite a few surprises throughout. The heroine grew on me kind of like a barnacle, and the show boasts one of my favorite comedic characters of all time, Ayame.
Full Metal Panic! (TV) Excellent My favorite of the three FMP seasons, FMP combines the humor and light-heartedness of Fumoffu with the serious, darker tone of TSR. The strength of the show comes from its characters, and while the plot is decent, the relationship that Kaname and Sousuke develop takes center stage. Part of the win for me in this show was Kaname's character--she is confident, and though she can be harsh with Sousuke, she is a pretty good representation of how a normal teenage girl can be. Her spunk is likable, not grating. And Sousuke was just a lovable dope with no common sense.
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (TV) Excellent The tone in this season of FMP is considerably darker than the first season, dealing with themes such as death, motivation for killing, destiny and path in life, and the deepening relationship between Kaname and Sousuke. While Kaname's speech to Sousuke may be a jumbled mix of feelings, it speaks to real life and the trouble that a youth has confessing their feelings...hopefully with the seasons to come, as there will be since there is still more material to cover and FMP is a popular franchise, love will get some closure. While I usually don't enjoy mecha, FMP made the theme accessible and some of the fighting was really slick and engaging.
Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (OAV) Very good
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu (TV) Excellent The spin-off, I saw this before seeing any of the other seasons, and still found it quite funny. It's a bit hard to fit it in the order of things, however. I wouldn't recommend seeing it first, but putting it between seasons 1 and 2 means that the shift from comedy to a much darker tone is jarring. I guess if I could redo it that is where I'd put it, however, as some relief before TSR. I would recommend the dub--one of my favorite comedic scenes ever is from the series, involving Sousuke trying to get a taxi driver to wait for him and Kaname and failing...and it's just so funny in the English.
Fullmetal Alchemist (TV) Masterpiece Great plot, great characters, pretty good music, an all-around win. It’s part mystery part coming-of-age told in an exciting way that made me feel like I was having my own revelations about mankind. Some have complained that this show is too preachy; I happen to love Ed’s noble strength and conviction about right and wrong even as he is cruelly disillusioned by the world. Scar, his foil, is also a righteous man, but his experiences in the world have led him to very different conclusions and a very different moral path.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie - Conqueror of Shamballa Masterpiece I could almost see this movie as a work apart from the series, since the shift is so jarring. As a work in its own right, however, the progression and tone are beautiful, and Noah is an unnaturally compelling character. The series was idealistic and bright and polished, and sometimes preachy; the movie is more mature, it's richer, and it's more subtle. It's hard to go into detail without spoilers, but the resolution was bittersweet and poignant, and Ed especially who had already grown so much during the series still manages to evolve in the movie.
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) Excellent Albert might be the protagonist, but the Count high and away steals the show. His illness acts as a plot device to beg the question: How far can we sink into darkness until our own humanity is destroyed? Happily, the work is optimistic, though not without some tragedies along the way. Albert can be annoying at times, but mostly he's a sympathetic protagonist despite how spoiled and naive he was. The supporting cast are all well-developed; my favorites remain the women characters--Eugenie, Haydee, Mercedes, Villefort's wife, and Peppo (yes, I'm including her as a girl). I thought they were more interesting than most of the men ;). It's a testament to greed and ambition, friendship, a sprinkling of love, the challenges of youth, forgiveness, redemption, evil...is there anything I missed? I don't think so. Basically, we have it all. One thing I did question was the actual art. It was rather distracting at times. I might have preferred the non-cutout look.
Gantz (TV) Excellent Gantz is sexual and violent with a purpose, and brings to life the gritty world that dissolute Kei is brought into. Not only is it about survival and testing the limits human beings have regarding one another, it's the genuine evolution of a character into his almost "meant-to-be" self--and the question at the end of the series is if all of that is for nothing. Many people despise Kei as a protagonist, but I found him interesting and believable and easily the most convincing self-involved person I've ever seen be the main focus of a series. The action is intense and bloody, and contains some truly disturbing, gut-wrenching scenes. But nothing beats the feeling I get every time I watch the third mission. If you ever want to experience what true emptiness is, the end of this mission accomplishes it, with Kei walking out into the rain utterly alone after changing his heart so completely. It creates a literal ache in the heart. The show is also daring on several other levels, with the inclusion of two major character deaths with still 7 or 8 episodes to go, as well as a host of other deaths. And the OP is kick-ass.
Genshiken (TV) Good
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV) Very good I don't think an ending to a series has ever left me feeling so mixed up, but it was brilliant. I was happy that life could continue as it always had, and yet the resolution of the Laughing Man case had a melancholy, above-my-head feel, and I wish I had known all those quotes the Major and the Laughing Man were quoting. I also had mixed feelings about the Major, what she is, and what she chose to be, but all of it is fascinating and a creepy look into what humanity has the potential to become. And the last scene of the Major falling off a building was absolutely perfect and will remain etched in my memory. Basically: everything was right in the world, yet that rightness was nowhere near perfect.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (TV) Excellent Improves on season one by better integrating the major storyline, and keeping it grounded in understandable politics rather than brilliant but complex philosophy (not that I didn't like season one's conclusion, but it was an eensy bit over my head).
(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie) Masterpiece
Gungrave (TV) Good An interesting series and a fascinating study of friendship and betrayal and vengeance. Gungrave had some unique characters--Harry's fall to greed and ambition were portrayed thoroughly and excellently, and having an almost-mute protagonist with no voice-overs or insight into his thoughts, but rather knowing his motives by his very pure motto of living, was refreshing. The romances were paper-thin, and the pacing was slow but satisfying; the overall tone of the show reminded me of Wolf's Rain for some reason-- although not as fantasy-driven as Wolf's Rain, it shared a bittersweet ending and a gritty, hard feel. I wouldn't recommend Gungrave in large doses because it's a show that requires spreading-out to fully appreciate or else it gets boring.
Gunslinger Girl (TV) Excellent
Gurren Lagann (TV) Excellent I HATED this show for about the first eight episodes. I only kept going because of its reputation, and then all of a sudden, it got amazing. Once you accept the crazy character designs and the insane fights and power-ups, it becomes a classic gundam ride of strength and risking everything on what you believe in. It’s a battle to regain earth, and a journey of amazing, reckless heart and the belief that anything is possible; it is also the evolution of Simon into a true man, taking the mold of Kamina and making it his own.
Haibane Renmei (TV) Excellent
Hellsing Ultimate (OAV) So-so Someone explain to me what the big deal is about Hellsing. It's meaningless, bland violence--beyond that, the major villain is a neo-Nazi (how clever!) who spends nearly an episode grandstanding all the shit we've come to expect from anarchist sadistic megalomaniacs. Alucard may have a certain cool factor but that's not nearly enough to carry this series. Not nearly. And Victoria's pretty useless, and the art and character designs are ugly as hell.
His and Her Circumstances (TV) Good It had its comedic moments, but this series suffered when it got bogged down a little more than half-way through and the characters continued to have the same melodramatic self-image issues all the while touting that they had helped each other...but not really. I'm not saying characters shouldn't struggle with important issues, but Arima and Miyazawa didn't go anywhere real fast. Meanwhile, the last few episodes disastrously chose to focus on another pairing meanwhile using a visual style that was unappealing to me. But that is just the bad news. The good news is that it's a romantic comedy with a focus on comedy, and also addressing the specific issue of faking one's personality, dealing with it in a unique way. It's cute and it's fun and it's still a good romance.
Honey and Clover (TV) Very good I feel like I may not have appreciated this series as much as I could have if I had waited to see it until I was a bit older. It was wonderful nonetheless, and I loved the slow, meandering feel of the series. I was also happy when Yamada got much more focus in season 2, since she was my favorite character. While I appreciated Takemoto and Hagu's respective journeys to find their purposes in life--his physical, hers spiritual--this series, above and beyond, had THE BEST representation of true unrequited love I've ever seen. Seeing Yamada get shot down again and again by her friend, and watching him move on to an older woman--her pain was so palpable to me. I was also happy to see her become a stronger person because of it.
Honey and Clover II (TV) Excellent ^see above
ItaKiss (TV) Good A good old romance with a girl who is an airhead and a guy who is cold as ice-- with a twist in the middle. They get married...get jobs...and have a life! While it wasn't exactly brilliant and genre re-defining, itazura na kiss was a lovely little shojo piece with a nice twist. Unlike usual Japanese romances involving teens, it doesn't end with a kiss, and unlike American romantic comedies it doesn't end with a marriage--but it's not a tragedy, and that's what is golden about it. Warning: this show is VERY girly.
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade (movie)
Kaze no Stigma (TV) Not really good I won't totally pan it, because Kaze no Stigma had potential to be different, but it blew it. The lead male was the typical badass with a score to settle, while simultaneously toying in sexual ways with the notoriously, fiery, overblown female lead just because he can and because he knows it'll piss her off. But then of course he falls for her, even though their families don't really get along. But he also has a tragic past involving another lover, and that's his other vengeance, which is why he made his contract. The villain tortured his lover, and now he's hellbent. It's so riddled with cliches that they bury even the smallest moments of originality which try to poke their little heads up to the surface.
Kekkaishi (TV) Good Way above your average shonen, only its inconclusive ending coupled with no rumors of another season kept me from rating this higher. The style of fighting they used was unique and interesting, and Tokine was a very likable female heroine. Yoshimori could be annoying at times, but he was also solid in the character department--and the only major character death was very moving and handled extremely well. An all-around really great shonen.
Kiddy Grade (TV) Good This show is interesting. It takes a while to get started, and the explanations of lots of things are muddled, but that doesn't prevent a fun and sometimes serious ride. Most of it is just these really cool advanced girls fighting and every once in a while spouting ideals, but the ending was absolutely brilliant. It raised questions about immortality and what it is like to live forever in a--for once--not necessarily condemning light. I loved the intentional vagueness of Eclair's past and future, especially a lot of semi-disturbing flashbacks being only partially explained, leaving the viewer to guess and piece together what actually happened.
Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) Very good One of my favorite movies from childhood, Kiki's Dellivery Service still delights all ages. Kiki is a pretty, polished lead with an interesting conflict and a sweet journey.
Kimi ni Todoke - From Me to You (TV)
Koi Kaze (TV) It is creepy, and dramatic as the one thing that is taboo in every culture--incest-- unfolds before your eyes. The resolution isn't all that clear, but it is a fatalistic work that somehow seems to stay optimistic, even in the end. Some are disturbed by it, and while it certainly made me squirm in my seat, I thought of it more as a very well-done character-study.
Kurau: Phantom Memory (TV) Argh, this show frustrates me. It could have been GREAT, but alas I will have to settle for very, very good. Kurau is intriguing, mysterious sci-fi coupled with a true sense of loss. It slowed down significantly in the middle, and the Kurau-Christmas relationship was grating and screeched to a halt after a while; but Kurau had an androgynous charm and the show overall was excellent, with an imaginative storyline and some truly disturbing moments.
Kurenai (TV) Very good This is a delightful mixture of slice-of-life combined with fantasy, and boasting a host of quirky characters. Shinkurou is not a typical teenage male lead--his ego is not huge, and he doesn't enter a fit of rage at ever snarky comment directed toward him. In fact, he is laid-back and easy-going, and seems to almost choose to not notice the girls who hold special places for him. Taking center stage is his relationship with charge 7-year-old Murasaki, and their interactions combined with interplay with the eccentric residents of their apartment building is priceless. There is also a much darker tone in the series as the workings of Murasaki's grim family are explored, as well as Shinkurou's past and his new supernatural ability. Benika is also a treat.
Kurozuka (TV) Good Kurozuka was one of my stranger experiences. I think most people watched it for the action; the was strangely compelling, yet suffered from little to no character development, and a poorly explained plot which eventually ended in a convoluted mess. I think there was probably a lot of deeper symbolism in it, but I couldn't really pick out that much meaning. It definitely deserves a re-watch on my part. Still, if you enjoy half-baked drug dreams (pun intended) and a plot that has multiple interpretations and an intriguing mystery, you might enjoy this hypnotic ride.
Last Exile (TV) Masterpiece Last Exile was, simply put, beautiful on all fronts. I enjoyed the music, the art, the characters, and the tight plot. It was romantic and dramatic but also had a sense of realism, and the world built was equivalent to one of Miyazaki's creations in terms of fullness and entrancing properties. I liked the main characters, although I wished for more of a focus on Lavie's side of the story since Claus seemed to take center stage after a while. However, his story still unfolded carefully, and made its way back to Lavie eventually anyway. The supporting characters were also fully-developed, especially Dio, Mullin, Tatiana, Sophia, and, to some extent, Alex Rowe. This show was truly an intelligent, delightful joy to watch. I was also unsure of how it would end since the whole tone was pretty ambiguous up to the end, and while I was pleased with the ending, I do wish that certain characters had stayed dead and not been inexplicably alive at the end. The dub's really good, too.
Library War (TV) Good To enjoy Library War, you have to stop trying to understand the actual "serious" conflict and just appreciate the characters and the romance. The entire scenario is ridiculous; the Fahrenheit 451 protecting literature message is bogged down in silly attempts at serious combat, zero bloodshed in this "war," and muddled explanations of the "rules" of the warfare which don't make any sense. All of that being said, the characters themselves are likable, and the art style really appealed to me. The romance between Dojo and Kasahara is sweet, and Shibasaki is one of my favorite best-friend characters of all time--she is confident and girly without being self-absorbed. The characters are what truly make the show.
Lovely Complex (TV) Masterpiece Finally, a love story with a happy, satisfying ending. This does not have high re-watch potential, as part of the joy of the series is going through Risa’s anguish with her, and nothing packs a punch like the first time. But it was so cute and sweet and funny that I wouldn’t trade that first experience with any other slice of life series. Risa’s fairly open and oft-joked about conquest for Atsushi’s heart is to us entertaining, to him amusing and embarrassing. It's imperfect romance but provides hope and the message that giving up after one try is ludicrous. There are tears, there is laughter, and there is plenty of love for a sap like me. In terms of the shojo and slice-of-life genres I think it is masterful and balances silliness with real issues and real life.
Marmalade Boy (TV) Good Despite all of its melodrama and horrible animation and plot contrivances, Marmalade Boy still managed to wrap me up in all of Miki's teenage angst. I lapped up every minute of it, and I can't justify it all except to say that it was good low-quality entertainment--which doesn't make it any less lovable. I'd recommend it if you just want to be cheered up or want a good romance without too much deep thought.
Martian Successor Nadesico (TV) Very good Nadesico is close to my heart since I had seen an episode or two when I was very young and it was shown on Toonami's Giant Robot Week--but I never knew its name. I found it years later, and remembered the scene where Yurika drops her things on the ground and Akito finds them--and lo and behold, I could relive my childhood! The show itself is lovable and clever, and while it uses deliberate cliches, it turns them into original plot twists by the end of the show--and it is hailed for its use of an anime within an anime. The highlight of Nadesico is its balance of comedy and drama, and I wouldn't miss it if I were you!
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) Very good TMoHS was certainly unique, and I think the decision to show the episodes out of order was a brilliant one. It's not a personal favorite, however. While TMoHS kept my attention and was very funny at times, I would have liked to have seen Haruhi's softer side more often; she only shows it maybe twice, and for very brief intervals. I'm aware that her gung-ho spirit is what makes Haruhi Haruhi, but she was almost, ALMOST not believable for me. I loved Kyohei's running sarcastic, deadpan commentary, and it was very funny in the dub.
Michiko & Hatchin (TV) Excellent More shows like this please. The animation may have been inconsistent at times, but Manglobe's done it again with this stellar series about a hardened criminal learning female companionship, and a young girl finding her place in the world. Their journey through a unique Brazilian setting, with the accompanying flair-filled cast, palette, and music, is fun and unpredictable. Their destination is ghostly and true-to-life as they chase Hatchin's father, unsure whether he's alive or dead. A real sophisticated treat, truly brilliant.
Millennium Actress (movie) Masterpiece
Mobile Fighter G Gundam (TV) Good Another show that's close to my heart because I grew up with it on Toonami, though it's one of the most panned Gundam series out there. I can't compare since I haven't seen much Gundam; however I enjoyed the fights and characters, and thought that there were several nice twists in the plot.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (TV) Very good
Monster (TV) Masterpiece Not only is it a thrilling, dark, and often horrific mystery; Monster explores the human psyche and emotions to startling depths. It shows how we struggle to suppress the horrors of the past and change who we are, whether successfully or not. Tenma's battle with morality and his growth and ultimate conclusion of who he is is fascinating to watch. I found myself wishing that he would finally kill Johan, but wondering if he would be able to do it. Supporting characters such as Eva and Dieter were also given time to develop and reach rocky conclusions about their lives. Everything from music to art to direction only enhanced the execution of the show while not distracting from the story itself, and the final revelation is chilling and eerie.
Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit (TV) Excellent I cannot praise this show enough. This is how adventure SHOULD be done. It had a strong female lead 30 years old (gasp), a well-developed cast with gentle, subtle details, a child who isn't annoying and whiny, a bit of romance, some awesome battles, gorgeous animation, and no evil bad guys, just people honestly trying to protect their country. The animation was clear, smooth, and pretty, the characters were delightful and original, and the story compelling. The fight scenes were all slick and well-done, the story was paced wonderfully and their world felt so alive. And the voice cast! It was excellent; I found myself just listening to the beauty of the words even if I had no idea what they meant. I grew particularly fond of Balsa's guttural, almost manly voice. An "excellent" if I ever saw one.
Mushi-Shi (TV) Excellent Not much else to be said. "Haunting" is the right word- rarely have vignettes been done this well and this compellingly. Each and every episode is a visual feast and provides a story that is both thought-provoking yet full of enough lovely and slow-blooming suspense to be entertaining. I also think the music especially effective.
My-HiME (TV) Very good My-HiME was very nicely done, taking a pretty unoriginal premise and pumping it full of enough twists and action and some romance to make it work. While it wasn't enough to ruin the series, however, the ending was a cop-out. Mai's decision between Tate and her brother was ridiculous. Seeing Mai suffer all that and reach the brink of craziness was amazing. I was actually pleased to see a show being ballsy and showing what happens when you lose everything the moment it happens, unlike many of the tough archetypes we get who have nothing because they lost it all before. The ending nullified all of that and was a slap in the face. favorite supporting character: Kuga. She was awesome all-around.
NANA (TV) Excellent Oh, how can I explain my love for NANA? It can be summed up like this: it's dramatic to the point of being unrealistic, and yet it strikes a chord of realism. You have Nana, who is so sure of herself and confident, living with her complete opposite--Hachi, a girl who is so assured of her dumbness and so insecure that she sleeps around because she can't help it, crying the whole time both inside and out. Their journey is chronicled through tear-jerking narration from both sides, lovely metaphors, and a side of friendship that is so under-explored: obsessiveness. The pull these girls have isn't sexual, but it is a deep love and need, and over the course of the series they come to need each other more than their respective love interests. The music is pretty good, and the supporting cast is wonderful. I can't wait for a second season.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Excellent
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) Excellent I watched NGE as one of my first shows seriously getting into anime, and it certainly made its impact, no pun intended. I didn't understand all of it (though I'm not the only one), but the characters were phenomenal in their roundness; Misato remains one of my favorites to this day. I don't have much else to say--everyone should see this at some point if only for how it changed mecha. Although I can't stand the last two episodes.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (movie) Excellent A much better ending to NGE. I really couldn't appreciate the ending to the TV series.
Nodame Cantabile (TV) Excellent If you love classical music, or even if you just like it or are indifferent to it, you'll like Nodame Cantabile. It chronicles the transformation of a Jerk into an actual human being, and Nodame herself is hilarious and zany. It's a chaste love story as well as a story of the struggles of being a pro musician. It is heartwarming and funny and I loved it. The supporting characters are equally eccentric and charming. You won't find anything else even remotely familiar.
Nodame Cantabile: Finale (TV)
Nodame Cantabile: Paris (TV) Excellent
Noir (TV) Good Noir was definitely an interesting show for me. I had a hard time finishing it because of the slow pacing--it probably could have been condensed to half its length and still felt like a stroll through the park. That said, it seemed a pretty realistic representation of the assassin's lifestyle, at least for the first half. The second half is about thwarting fate, and the ambiguous ending leaves up to interpretation whether or not Mireille and Kirika succeeded.
Now and Then, Here and There (TV) Very good
Ouran High School Host Club (TV) Very good This show was very funny, but not hilarious. It had its moments, and Tamaki is such a draaaama queen. What Ouran does is what any successful comedy does--it establishes the wacky quirks and personality of each character, and then proceeds to stick them in all sorts of ridiculous situations. You can kind of guess how they're going to react, but it's going to be over-the-top and funny. However, for being somewhat episodic Ouran does have a central plotline, and lots of heart.
Paprika (movie) Masterpiece
Paradise Kiss (TV) Masterpiece Oh yes! A tripped-out, edgier version of NANA with a host of eccentric characters, gorgeous character designs, and with hotness and flair and melodrama in just about everything. I loved it, even with its sulky moments and random lizards and butterflies crawling across the screen. The ED song rocks, and one of my favorite quotes is the very last line: "It's supposed to be a comedy, but I think I'll probably cry."
Paranoia Agent (TV) Good
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ (TV)
(The) Place Promised in Our Early Days (movie) Very good
Planetes (TV) Masterpiece Planetes couldn't have been a bigger surprise for me; I went in with hardly any expectations and got a heart-warming tale of love and friendship, and a much darker exploration of mankind's relationship with space. If you think that man and the sea has been explored, try man and space-space is billions of times more vast than oceans, and infinitely more frightening. We got likable characters who underwent significant development, and a plot that was driven forward by life's everyday events (with a couple of exceptions); yet it succeeded surprisingly well. My favorite part, however, was the ending-thank you Planetes creators!
Please Teacher! (TV) So-so I can't remember why I decided to watch this, but it was kind of mindlessly entertaining. It was okay for a romance, not great, and the comedy was non-existent. The characters are so cliched, at least in the dub, that it is laughable: the woman is really hot and subservient and inexplicably devoted to the nerdiest, literally most pre-pubescent "man" on the planet.
Please Teacher! (OAV)
Princess Mononoke (movie) Masterpiece Breathtakingly beautiful, complex, and unpredictable, I have seen this movie at least eight times. It's definitely strange the first time you see it, but sends a clear moral message about what we are doing to our planet, and manages to send it through artistic, engaging means. I'm also a huge sucker for myths, so the large talking animals didn't hurt.
RahXephon (TV)
REC (TV) Good
Red Garden (TV) Excellent After all the backlash Red Garden received, I was prepared for disappointment. But I didn't get any. In fact, I had had a feeling that this would be just the series for me, and I was right. Many of the complaints against the series come from its melodrama, and at times, I admit that it was heavily histrionic. On the other hand, the whole premise was merely an excuse to examine characters put under extreme psychologicl duress, and how it affected their private lives. I relished watching the girls and their relationships with one another bloom; many times the melodrama was warranted, as the girls faced extreme life-changing decisions that had been made without their knowledge of consent. Why does this series truly shine? It takes an old premise, puts an original spin on it by adding clever details (such as having butterflies call the girls whenever they have to fight), and maintains a sense of realism. These girls feel real. They don't want to fight their first battle, something they never asked for-they run away screaming. RG isn't without faults, but overall I'd say it's a personal favorite.
Rideback (TV)
Ristorante Paradiso (TV) Very good
Romeo × Juliet (TV)
Rumbling Hearts (TV) Good I would say to watch this, as the romance was actually sort of mature; however the romance and who Takayuki picked did not take center stage for me. Rather, I wish the reasons why Mitsuki quit her dream, as well as the dissolving of the friendship between Haruka and Mitsuki had been more fleshed out. However, in the end I agreed with the choice Takayuki made; the series sent a clear message that, no matter what, life goes on.
Rurouni Kenshin (TV) Masterpiece I may be biased since I grew up with Rurouni Kenshin on toonami, but it is one of the most recognized and classic shonen series of all time. I remember watching season 1 over and over again and crying when Kenshin left Kaoru on the night of the fireflies to go meet his destiny. The plotline is linear with Kenshin's battle stakes getting higher and higher, and while that in itself is an adrenaline rush, it's the characters and their struggles that make the show. Loyal, loud-mouthed Yahiko's desire to prove himself, and Sousuke's wish to become stronger as he carries his past on his back are strongly felt, though none as compelling as Kenshin's battle within himself. Kenshin's haunted past and dual personality make him a romantic character; his personal struggle with his oath not to kill is full of suspense. RuroKen balances action and romance and is infused with an idealism that the child in me loves.
Rurouni Kenshin: Reflection (OAV) Very good Garbage, garbage, garbage, and a slap in the face to Kenshin fans everywhere. This is not how the story ends, and it nullifies Watsuki's message and the message of the TV series. Kaoru has lost all of her vivacious spirit and personality, and is reduced to this round-eyed waif and Kenshin seems to have lost his direction in life, which we know he would never do as long as Kaoru is there to anchor him. In fact, all of the characters seem to have schizophrenically changed their personalities, enough so to make really dumb decisions they would never normally make. I appreciate the hard edge and realism that Reflections tries to give RuroKen, but if you are looking for a conclusion to the series, this isn't it.
Rurouni Kenshin: The Motion Picture Weak Ugh, don't waste your time.
Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal (OAV) Very good I appreciate Kenshin's past with Tomoe animated, but the different animation and tone really jar me. Nevertheless, it stands well independently and it is beautiful and tragic.
S-CRY-ed (TV) Good
Sailor Moon R: The Movie Decent
Sailor Moon S Movie: Hearts in Ice Decent
Sailor Moon SuperS Movie: Black Dream Hole Decent
Samurai 7 (TV) Decent I had a couple problems with Samurai 7, apart from the mishmash of CG and hand-drawn animation. Firstly, it introduced a whole bunch of characters and didn't spend any time developing their backstories or much camaraderie between the group; when members died, I didn't really care. The villain wasn't all that appalling, nor the fights engaging. I liked the ending, and I thought a few key characters were well-developed, Katshiro particularly, but beyond that I'd say everything else was mediocre.
Samurai Champloo (TV) Masterpiece This show was a complete turn-around for me. I thought that the characters had no feelings for each other and that made watching pointless. But the hints were subtle and by the end their feelings were glaringly obvious. It grew on me until I found myself crying at the final episode. It was crazy, the episodes didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at the end you had a compelling tale of one girl’s search to put her feelings to rest, and two men who were so guarded against others finally learning what it meant to, if not completely trust another person, at least to be friends with them. I liked the imperfectness of their relationships; at the end, they were all able to go their separate ways, still better people because of the others, and Fuu’s ending with her father can hardly be called a happy one. It was about a short snapshot in time that can change and occur between people, and I like that each character, Mugen, Jin, and Fuu, had to separately deal with their own pasts. It was insane, but it was beautiful, and the way I reacted was a total shock to me. The art and the music are also really slick and cool.
Samurai Deeper Kyo (TV) Good This show frustrates me because it had so much potential! The characters were interesting and the designs pretty cool, and then...it just dissolved into this shonen-cliche fest with opponents whose backstories were manufactured i.e. Kyo fights his ex-best-friend before entering the final battle or whatever. Yuya was reduced to next-to-nothing, the resolution to the whole thing was messy and unclear, and the romance never came to a head.
Shigofumi - Letters from the Departed (TV)
Speed Grapher (TV) Good Speed Grapher gets mixed reviews here, which is why I think it definitely falls in the middle. Basically it boils down to this: the fights got old and had a distinct monster-of-the-week feel, but I really enjoyed the innocent love story and thought that it had a great conclusion.
Spice and Wolf (TV) Excellent This show was charming. I loved the tone and the depiction of medieval times, and Horo was absolutely adorable; her interactions with Lawrence made the show. The gentle pace revolving around witty merchants' trade was punctured only a few times by well-placed action. All-in-all a wonderful combination of lazy adventure, crafty trade, and spunky characters.
Spice and Wolf II (TV) Excellent
Spirited Away (movie) Masterpiece This movie is a stunning Miyazaki creation, and is only rivaled by Princess Mononoke in my opinion. It's an imaginative adventure with a character whose development is a joy to watch, and the sheer amount of fantastical creatures and fantasies is wonderful.
(The) Story of Saiunkoku (TV) Good This show was very heartwarming, and it's nice to see a reverse-harem every once in a while. The political aspect is engaging, and Shuurei is a very nicely done female lead. Somehow there seems to be all the cliche characters in there, as well as manufactured emotions, but the spunk of the heroine makes up for some of the one-dimensional aspects of the side characters, and it all just seems to work.
Summer Wars (movie)
Texhnolyze (TV) Very good I struggled through the first half of this show and then just kind of slow-marathoned the rest over the period of a week (because you just can't "marathon" Texhnolyze). I think I followed it pretty well considering how vague much of the plot/explanations were, but a warning to those considering watching: 1. don't watch it if you need a lot of dialogue 2. don't watch it if you're feeling suicidal the end is one of the saddest and most fitting of any I've ever seen. The whole series was fatalistic, but just seeing Ichise unable to do anything, succumbing to his horrid fate with a smile, and watching the demise of humanity as well as the death of the one character he truly cared about, and the horrible things which happened to that character prior to that character's death, is all heart-wrenching. I think that the feeling that is important is the feeling the viewer gets that Ichise COULD NOT escape his fate, and while the show may not be for everyone, since it is intentionally vague and is more about message than plot or interaction, it was certainly worth it for me.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (TV) Masterpiece
Toradora! (TV) Masterpiece
Trigun (TV) Excellent The animation may be dated, but the story certainly isn't. Vash is an enigmatic character from the very beginning--don't be fooled by his outright happy-go-lucky-bordering-on-obnoxious personality; the latter half of the series painstakingly reveals his past, his linkage with mankind, and his much more serious side. He is tough and gentle at the same time, and his comedy is a well-constructed mask. While most of the supporting cast isn't much to speak of aside from Wolfwood, the story itself is compelling, often funny, and sometimes tearful and fatalistic.
True Tears (TV) Very good It's wistful and painful; true tears remains one of the best artistic representations of teenage romance I've ever seen. While it is technically not a harem, the lead is torn between two girls, and there is a third girl who is in love with him. But don't balk! The girls are not flat characters, they each have their own struggles, and are beautifully developed--and Shinichiro shares the story almost halfway with the eccentric Noe. The romances take center stage, but the characters are carefully constructed and have so much more personality than your average drama or romance, much more so than the characters of, say, Rumbling Hearts. The ending is bittersweet and satisfying, and everyone wins something and loses something.
(The) Twelve Kingdoms (TV) Very good The protagonist of this series is notoriously disliked for the first arc, but I had no problems with her because I saw the obvious role-reversal coming. Twelve Kingdoms is fantasy done correctly, with a lush and fully-developed world and unexpected plot twists. One thing the franchise suffered from was being only half of its original planned length--we only met rulers from some of the kingdoms, not all twelve, and only explored certain cultures. But the story was rich and eventful.
(The) Vision of Escaflowne (TV) Good I never quite fell in love with Escaflowne the way others have, possibly because Hitomi seemed useless most of the time. She was always obsessing over her love life and never asking how she could be helpful. I also thought that the other love interests for Hitomi detracted from her relationship with Van. The plot was great with many twists and turns, but I just never liked the characters that much for some reason, except Millerna who was great and who got royally screwed over by Hitomi. The point of Escaflowne, though, is its universal appeal. So don't take it from me.
Voices of a Distant Star (OAV) So-so
Welcome to the NHK (TV) Excellent It’s said to be adult, edgy, and controversial, but mostly it’s a slice-of-life about the isolation of one man because of today’s society. While I found most of the humor to be hit-or-miss, it was the sadness of Satou’s situation that really got me, and how all human beings have the potential to become like him. And the show looks like it's going to be a typical girl saving a guy from the edge of a precipice, until it is revealed that perhaps Satou’s “savior” is not quite as angelic as she seems, and that he may not be the only one with deep scars. In fact, there is a point when they are able to do nothing for one another to the point of the situation being sad and pathetic. The question, the answer to which I will not reveal, is whether or not they are redeemable. Nothing is at it seems in this often crazy, sometimes saddening, always poignant slice-of-life that reflects a piece of us all.
Witch Hunter Robin (TV) Very good Dark, moody, sophisticated, and atmospheric are all words that come to mind when I think of WHR. Though slow at first, the ambiguous plot slowly starts to emerge and an intriguing mystery begins. The big question is, who's on whose side? Robin may have more enemies than she thinks, but she also has unexpected friends. My biggest problem with the show was the slow going until the final stretch of episodes, but if you can slog through the middle the ending is exciting and left a bit up to the imagination. One of the joys of WHR is trying to figure out character motivations and actions because they are not spoonfed and are rather complex.
Wolf's Rain (TV) Very good Another love/hate relationship, I started out loving Wolf's Rain, couldn't stand it when Cheza was introduced, and then warmed up to it again in the final stretch. Nothing really compares to the brooding apocalyptic fantasy of Wolf's Rain, which is meandering and yet seems to forge ahead at a rapid pace. Cheza though...I consider her the show's only drawback. Magical flower my ass, she was clingy and needy and whiny and even when Kiba portrayed similar qualities he still had an aura of brute force-- of a survivor of the tough world, as well as a deep philosophical side. Aside from Cheza, I thought every other character was well-developed and had their own surprises which coincided well with the twists in plot.
Xam'd: Lost Memories (ONA) Excellent Xam'd just screams quality, especially considering it comes from the same team that made E7 (minus E7s awesome music courtesy of Watanabe.) It shares a lot of qualities with E7- a tightly-paced plot, wonderful characters, and a rich story. That's why Xam'd suffered from being only half the length that E7 did, and bit off more than it could chew; but still kudos for carrying 4 or 5 parallel storylines at a time and pulling off a well above-average ending. Xam'd does get even more save-the-earth/live-in-harmony preachy-preachy than E7, but hey, I endorse that message so go spread the word. All in all, if you enjoyed E7 you should like Xam'd. It was charming and well-done all-around; it truly only suffered by spreading itself thin across too many characters in such a short amount of time.
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files (TV) Excellent Ah, yes. Another first love, I saw this on Toonami, and it remains an excellent tournament anime to this day. The dub is especially funny, with Justin Cook executing Yusuke's biting sarcasm and outright cockiness perfectly. YYH develops much more than the standard tournament plot, and the second season is by far the strongest. The characters are memorable and all have interesting backstories which are developed apart from one another...and stories which continue throughout the story--Kurama and his human mother, Hiei's struggle to reveal his identity to his long-lost sister, Kuwabara's abilities and his sister's knowledge of their world, and Yusuke's true heritage which is coincidentally NOT directly related to his parents (basically: wow? really? you're my father? But I've been searching for you my whole lilfe and I am DAMAGED because of it! doesn't happen, thankfully). Even Yusuke's enemies are often given partial backstories, or return later to help the characters out with another case. And the romantic conclusion is very satisfying.
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