rojse's Anime

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Berserk (TV) Good "Berserk" stars Guts as a merecenary, who fights with the "Band of the Hawk", assisting the kingdom of Midland in the war against the Kingdom of Chudor. While I enjoyed the series as a whole, for being an exciting and very graphically violent fantasy-action series, there are some major flaws too. The first is the animation quality, which is rather cheap at times. While many anime occasionally use a single frame for the occasional complex action shot, Berserk uses this effect far too often. It's understandable when the show is forced to display large-scale warfare, but it's a fault nonetheless. The other problem is the abrupt end to the series, which fails to provide a proper conclusion and wrap up all of the major plot lines at the end of the series; it's plainly obvious that there is more story that has not yet been told, since the start of the story places the rest of the show as a flashback, but we don't find out about the fates of the central characters of the show. However, in spite of these flaws, "Berserk" is quite an enjoyable series, and well worth looking at for those who like their action and fantasy shows dark, brutal and bloody.
Black Lagoon (TV) Very good "Black Lagoon" is a nineties action movie written as an anime, and it's just as good (or as bad) as it sounds. The central heroes are nigh-invincible and incomprehensibly awesome, even finding the occasional opportunity to say something witty even under gunfire, there is an emphasis on combat, which is inventive and expansive, it's rather well-animated, and voice-actors are high-quality. It occasionally gets bogged down in story background, particularly the last story arc, but it's a damn fun ride and worth a look if you like action anime and don't mind something particularly violent.
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage (TV) Excellent "Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage" is more of the same of the first series - explosive action, very high-quality animation, and a strange focus on well-endowed women that are, strong, ruthlessly violent, and various sorts of crazy, yet it somehow manages to be more entertaining than the first. The story arcs are longer, there's more of an emphasis on action pieces while still creating interesting characters and a proper story, and the action pieces are both more expansive and more inventive, yet they are not overly mired in background stories, which was occasionally a problem in the first series.
Den-noh Coil (TV) Excellent "Dennou Coil" manages to be a brilliant television series for both children and adults. For children, it's interesting, fun, and exciting to watch. For adults, it doesn't have the repetitive storylines, plot holes and inconsistencies, stereotyped characters, or lack of ideas that one would normally associate with a "children's show".
Gekigangar 3 (OAV) Excellent "Gekigangar 3" is the show-within-a-show that sprung from "Martian Successor Nadesico", and it gets its own three-episode OVA. It's a loving pastiche of seventies giant robot anime, exaggerated to the extreme - extremely low-budget animation, glaringly bright colours, ridiculous plotlines, and the cheesiest of dialog delivered with such gusto that it puts nearly every other anime to shame. There will certainly be many people that cannot appreciate an anime that is of deliberately poor-quality, but for those that can, this is a rare treat, and the rather short episode count means that this show does not outstay its welcome.
Heroic Age (TV) Good "Heroic Age" is something a bit out of left-field for a mecha show - humans with various psychic powers, god-like creatures manipulating the various races of the universe, and super robots with powers beyond that of an army, all of which is combined to make a rather strange stew of a far-future military space opera. Fitting, all of the animation for this show is stunning, particularly the space-based combat - seeing hundreds of different spacecraft moving independently through space in a single scene, or the detailed shield animations is rather impressive. The plot of the show, though, can be silly at times, the show is rather timid in depicting the effects of warfare on both civilians and soldiers, the whole subplot about the unemotional Silver Tribe is silly and any thinking that the Silver Tribe uses to come up with conclusions is an insult to thousands of years spent on refining formal logic. In spite of the lack of punch in the subject matter, or the occasional silly plot, this show can be very fun to watch, particularly if you are a fan of cheerful and optimistic mecha anime.
His and Her Circumstances (TV) Good "His and Her Circumstances" is a study of various high-school characters, and the difficulty people have in understanding and interacting with eachother. The show starts of presenting the surface appearance and how people generally perceive that person, and then the show digs beneath the surface, seeing how the characters really think and what truly motivates them to act in the manner that they do. Much of the anime is brilliant - the deeply-drawn characters, the way that the show uses various animation styles to present different levels of characters, their thoughts and interactions with others, making the most out of a rather modest budget. However, there are many criticisms to be made of the anime, particularly from episode nineteen onwards (which is where Hideaki Anno stops being the director) - the animation quality takes a noticeable fall, there are far too many episodes spent recapping the events that have already occured, and the show ends rather abruptly, providing little in the way of a conclusion for many of the characters and their relationships. It's quite a let-down when the first three-quarters of the anime was so brilliantly-executed.
Muteki Kōjin Daitarn 3 (TV) Not really good "Invincible Steel Man Daitarn 3" has a Japanese-flavoured James Bond fighting evil robots and piloting a giant mecha to assist in his fight, along with two gorgeous female sidekicks. All of this is quite cool on paper, but it is let down on a number of levels. The animation is rather cheap. The plots are repetitive. The characters are cliched. Plot inconsistencies are numerous and blatant. And while all of those are big marks against the show, the show delivers on it's premise with an cheesy sort of charm, because the show doesn't take itself too seriously. While an objective assessment of this show should no doubt conclude that there are plenty of problems with this show, that certainly doesn't mean that it isn't a fun anime to watch.
Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (TV) Good "Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ" (ZZ stands for Double Zeta) continues on after the first two Gundam serials, and are extremely helpful in understanding the plot of the series and characters from previous serials. They're also much better viewing than this series is. While ZZ Gundam does get better in the latter part of the series, much of the first third of the run is rather underwhelming and does not meet the quality of it's predecessors, which makes it much harder to recommend.
Ninja Resurrection (OAV) Worst ever "Ninja Resurrection" is ranked as one of the worst anime on ANN's anime ranking list. After watching the entirety of the show, it's quite easy to understand why. In fact, I would go so far as to call this an anti-masterpiece, because there is not a thing in this OVA series that is not done with stunning incompetence - I have wasted eighty minutes of my life watching this that I will never get back. The first problem is that this show pretends to be a sequel to "Ninja Scroll", when in fact the two only share a coincidence that a character happens to be a warrior named Jubei. The two anime have different character models and animation styles, different production companies, and different moral themes and storylines. That's a problem that occured during the liberal translation of the source material to English. The fact that this is presented as a sequel when it is not does not automatically make this OVA awful - the storyline and action could have been good, nonetheless. However, this is not the case at all. The storyline of the OVA consists of an evil man (we know he's evil, the OVA does everything short of calling the man Evil Murder McHitler to point this out to us) set on resurrecting Satan to... probably destroy the world. Motives are far too sophisticated for something like this. The characters never arise above cliches and tropes, badly used at that, and since this was cancelled half-way through the series, we get a rather disturbing non-ending, too. The "action" in the first two episodes solely consists of warriors slaughtering Christians, civlians, and the rare inept warrior that completely and utterly fails to kill immortal demonic beings. Most people, myself included, think that action should require two or more parties of similar strength to fight each other in some way. Nothing that remotely resembling this occurs at any moment in this OVA. As for the animation, this show apparently had a fairly large animation budget, but I really don't see it. It ranges between bad but serviceable to cheap and nasty. The animation style is completely different between multiple characters. In fact, half the time, the animators can't even be bothered drawing in the eyes - they just colour the sockets of the skulls black. Is it that hard or expensive to draw some ovals and colour them white? I normally reserve my comments about the voice acting of a show - I generally watch anime in original Japanese audio, and I'm not appreciative enough of the Japanese language to comment on the acting in the original language. This release, however, only gives us English VA, and it truly is awful stuff - it ranges between woodenly unconvincing for any scene that would require even a hint of emotion, and unconvincingly wooden, for any scene that would require a passionate "I'm going to kill you!" sort of voice. I would really struggle to recommend this movie to anyone at all, no matter how much I hated them. Only watch this if you have a pressing need to watch the worst of what anime has to offer. Or you're a masochist. You have been warned.
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (TV) Decent "Panty, Stocking and Garterbelt" stars two angels, Panty and Stocking, who are banished from Heaven to earth and are forced to kill ghosts in order to earn their way back to heaven. This is a Gainax title, and one of its more adventurous titles, too, drawing heavy influences from western pop-culture - everything from minor character references to entire episodes are often based on western movies or television shows, the oft-crude material is reminiscient of western "adult" animation, and the highly-stylised characters and backgrounds are largely inspired by western cartoons. The main problem with "PSG" is that the material is often crude without any humour, intelligence or satire derived from the material, and without those, you're merely watching a show that is crude and stupid for the sake of being crude and stupid. It's a rather rare miss by Gainax.
Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture - Prince of Darkness Good "Prince of Darkness" is a movie sequel to the television series "Martian Successor Nadesico". Three years have passed since the TV series ended, and a lot has changed - Ruri is now captain of the Nadesico B, Akito and Yurika are both dead, and a break-off group of Jovians wish are planning to start a war with Earth. The TV series is nearly compulsory viewing to properly understand what is going on in this movie - much of the movie is about providing a coda to the events and characters of the television series, and adds to the plot of the television series with a cursory summation of previous events. However, "Prince of Darkness" is far better than the original television series - there is less humour, and what is present does not undermine the drama of the story (as was occasionally the case in the television series), and the story told here is much more interesting.
Revolutionary Girl Utena (TV) Masterpiece "Revolutionary Girl Utena" is a show that does many different things at the same time. Superficially, it's a story about princes saving princesses, but the show completely reinvents such a simple concept each time it uses it, even when it is used on the same characters. It is a shoujo anime about high-school life, and people struggling to deal with deep emotions and complex emotional relationships. It's a story filled with complex metaphors and deep symbolism, and while it can be appreciated on its own, the show begs for further research and discussion. While the show is animated to quite a high-quality, it is guilty of recycling animation pieces quite a lot. However, I would suggest that Revolutionary Girl Utena is among the best anime in managing to recycle animation in interesting ways - clip shows recast old information in new ways that are critical to the plot of the show, and the show often uses different music pieces to change the mood of the clip, which make watching many recycled clips quite enjoyable. It's not the most accessible show, but "Revolutionary Girl Utena" is well worth a look for anyone who consisders themselves a serious anime fan.
Ginga Hyōryū Vifam (TV) Excellent "Round Verniam Vifam" starts with a group of civilians fleeing from an invading alien force onto a military spacecraft. While that is a typical opening premise for many mecha anime series', that's where the similarity ends, because the show concentrates on the tribulations of a group of child civilians, and how they all deal with being caught in a huge war. As the adults around them are killed, the older children are reluctantly forced to take up arms and pilot mecha to defend themselves. Given both the subject matter and Yoshiyuki Tomino's involvement in the project, the anime is quite restrained - instead of Tomino's more typical brutish style best evidenced in shows like "Space Runaway Ideon" or "Zambot 3", the show more typically uses more subtle emotional manipulation on the viewer, to great effect. The animation is very high-quality for an eighties mecha show, with only occasional minor animation inconsistencies. "Vifam" is well worth watching for those looking for a mecha show that doesn't play to the normal story tropes and cliches.
Shadow Star Narutaru (TV) Very good "Shadow Star Narutaru" has an interesting premise - creatures called "dragon's children" are befriended by kids, and do their bidding. While the show starts off in a cute and charming manner, it quickly develops into the stuff nightmares are made of. The premise itself leads to some interesting plot developments - in particular, I was interested in the group of children with a plan to remake the world with the power of their creatures. However, the fate of most of the characters is not presented to the viewer. It's certainly an arresting show, but it's painfully obvious that we haven't been given the entire story in the anime, and that is a pity indeed.
(The) Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (TV) Excellent "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" is an excellent send-up of a large swathe of anime-related cliches from a variety of genres. However, it manages not to fall into the trap that other parodies often do - of merely pointing out these cliches with the same lack of originality and thought as the original chiched shows did. Oh, and watch the show in original broadcast order, rather than chrnologically.
Vampire Hunter D (OAV) Not really good "Vampire Hunter D" is not a bad movie, but it suffers badly in comparison to its sequel, "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust" - it's not as inventive, the characters aren't as well-developed, the storyline is less original. The animation is rather average quality, as one would expect from an eighties OAV, but a major issue I have is that the animators loved the colour black far too much - it can take up half of the screen at times, when a palette of grey hues and sombre, dark colours would have served the atmosphere, setting and presentation of the movie far better. Perhaps I could have rated this movie better if I had not watched the sequel, but the newer movie uses the same ingredients and completely outclasses the original doing a seemingly similar story.
Aa Megami-sama: Tatakau Tsubasa (special) Decent (Ah! My Goddess!) A monster known as an angel eater is on the loose, and Lind goes to Earth to help protect Belldandy and the other goddesses. The animation quality is good - while it isn't quite to the very high standards of the television series, it's more than what would be reasonably expected of an OVA. The problem with "Fighting Wings", though, is that it doesn't really have the same feel as the show itself - the characters don't really do what they normally do in the television series, and concentrates on fighting over the characters and their interactions.
Aa Megami-sama (OAV 2011) Decent (Ah! My Goddess!) Keiichi and Belldandy's relationship once again threatens to put the world in peril - this time, a spell cast on Belldandy threatens to make the world so happy that it won't need goddesses. The animation looks rather cheap at times, but more importantly, the story has been done multiple times before in the television series, and done better, too. You'll enjoy this if you liked the main series, but it's nothing special by any means.
Densetsu Kyojin Ideon (TV) So-so (AKA "Space Runaway Ideon") An archaeological excavation site has found a relic from an alien civilization - a giant spacecraft and matching combining robot. Both of them contain near-unlimited energy, but are both quite temperamental, not always working for the pilots or the civilians forced to find shelter when hostile aliens shown interest in the craft. It's quite hard to appreciate what "Space Runaway Ideon" is trying to do the first time you're watching it. Much of the series has the crew piloting the near-invincible Ideon, even though it is quite a temperamental piece of equipment, and having a crew fighting in a near-invincible spacecraft doesn't offer much in the way of suspense for much of the series. Well, at least until the director, Yoshiyuki Tomino, starts killing off a whole bunch of central crew members that he has spent much of the series developing - this is one of Tomino's darker anime serials. But after you watch the latter episodes, and in particular, the second Ideon movie, you can actually appreciate everything that the show was trying to do. It does make the show much better than the rather formulaic appearance it initially gives, and does make you appreciate the show much more in latter viewings. The show certainly has its problems - there are far too many episodes of little consequence, and the animation quality on display is about what could be expected of a giant robot anime from the early eighties (pretty poor). More than that, though, it is uneven at times in both quality and execution, and the ideas don't always work, but, as usual, Tomino's ideas are always interesting to watch. Don't let the negative aspects of the show deter you, though - even if it is occasionally uneven, this is quite interesting viewing as far giant robot anime is concerned, and worth a look if you're a fan of the sub-genre.
Once Upon a Time (movie) Excellent (Review for subbed "Windaria", not edited dub) The kingdoms of Paro and Itha inexorably move towards war after an agent of Paro tries to destroy Itha. Isu, a naive and ambitious young man, is caught up with promises of glory and riches, and leaves his wife, Marin, in order to fight with Paro's kingdom. Although this movie starts off rather slowly, taking it's time to depict the characters and the countries they inhabit, it builds up to a rather effective and depressing climax. Well worth watching the original dubbed version.
(The) Twelve Kingdoms (TV) Excellent A girl by the name of Youko Nakajima gets teleported to a fantasy world where she must overcome a variety of obstacles to survive. Normally a show with a premise like this would turn out boring and formulaic, but this show is anything but that - there are extended, well-developed story arcs with well-drawn characters, and the world-building here is truly excellent, with an effort put in here that isn't seen on many other shows at all, fantasy or otherwise. Oh, and in spite of having several major female characters in a fantasy setting, there's nothing that is as crass as fanservice, either, which is a pleasant surprise indeed. If I were to single out some problems with this show (and I will) out of the four story arcs, there are two which are good but aren't of the same caliber as the main series, and aren't really relevant to the main story arc, and the last five-episode story arc is a rather anticlimatic finsih to the series - I think the show as it stands would have been much better had it finished on the end of the third story arc, and had the fourth story arc moved somewhere before, or into the middle of the third arc. In spite of my complaints, though, this is one of the best fantasy anime shows I've had the pleasure of watching - I can only hope that the original plans to produce a far longer run of episodes eventually come to fruition.
Gunslinger Girl (TV) Excellent A group of unfortunate young girls are given a second chance at life through a government organisation called the Social Welfare Agency. While the organisation claims to be dedicated to helping the girls, in reality, this group performs high-tech modifications to help reprogram and brainwash the girls into killing machines. While there are quite a few anime that develop various story or plot contrivances to have women or girls as soldiers or assassins, "Gunslinger Girl" is of a high enough quality to rise above the majority of the dreck of a similar nature. There is the distinct setting (Italy and its surroundings, of which a lot of effort is made to make the backgrounds reminiscient of Italy), and the extremely detailed animation (not just character models and backgrounds, but also in the presentation of firefights and the firearms used by the characters). More than that, though, is the effort made in characterising each of the girls in the anime, so that the audience will actually care about their rather bleak plight. Well worth watching.
Ringing Bell (movie) Very good A lamb loses its mother, and vows to become powerful enough to take on his foes. The animation, while rather dated, is cute, which does suit the early tone of the story and provides a good contrast for later story elements, and the story is extremely well-told. Bonus points for the movie not attempting to go for a happy ending when it would not fit.
Disgaea (TV) Weak A pale imitation of the story in the original Disgaea videogame - repetitive, formulaic, and lacking the humour of the game, too. Although the show does change some parts of the story, which is an interesting choice to help remove the monotony of watching a story you've played through previously as a video game, the changes don't improve the story at all.
Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (movie) Very good A retelling of the first six episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, complete with new computer-generated graphics, particularly of the angels attacks and the city of Tokyo-3. Unfortunately, condensing two and a half hours of show into an hour and a half of movie has been detrimental to the story itself, particularly in regards to character development, and apart from looking shinier than the original series, there's only minor difference to the story of the original series, except for being condensed.
Akira (movie) Masterpiece A teenager gains psychic powers and loses his sanity in the process. Intelligent, stylish, exciting, and rather graphic in its depiction of violence to boot. This is an animated movie masterpiece, regardless of the role it had in bringing anime to wider audiences outside of Japan.
Memories (movie) Excellent A trilogy of three vastly different science fiction movies. The first is set aboard a derelict spacecraft, the rescuers searching through it stumble into a world created by a woman who has long since died. The second movie has a man that unknowingly spews toxic gas, and is headed into Tokyo. It's a humorous and exciting satire of the military. The third, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, is about a civilisation that spends its' entire resources firing a cannon at an unknown enemy. The story, at first, seems quite weak, a mere shell for the centrepiece of having the massive cannon being loaded and fired. Who is the civilisation firing at, and why are they fighting? Indeed, is there any enemy at all? I don't think it actually matters, though, and that actually is the deeper point of the entire sequence.
Project A-Ko 4: Final (OAV) Weak A-ko and B-ko are still fighting over the affections of Kei, Kei still likes C-ko, and Kei is being married to Miss Ayumi, the teacher of the three girls, for no particular reason given in the anime, there's another alien fleet on its way to earth, and this OVA series is still terrible to watch, for the exact same reasons that "Project A-ko 3: Cinderella Rhapsody" was such poor viewing.
Project A-ko 3: Cinderella Rhapsody (OAV) Weak A-ko and B-ko should start a romantic rivalry over a random teenage boy named Kei that they both find attractive (and who, instead, finds himself interested in C-ko). "Project A-ko: Cinderella Rhapsody" might be a sequel to the original movie in name, but it has little of what made the original movie (and, to a lesser extent, the sequel) so enjoyable. The animation is far less ambitious or high-quality, there is little in the way of action or spectacle, and to see A-ko and B-ko arguing with eachother over a boy that isn't even interested in the two feels like a huge insult.
Martian Successor Nadesico (TV) Decent Akito is a young man, drawn into a conflict between Earth and the Jovian lizards, who have taken over Mars and are set on taking over Earth next. "Martian Successor Nadesico" is, in turns, a mixture of comedy, mecha and harem anime. Unfortunately, none of these aspects of the show are done particularly well. The comedy aspect of the anime is rather uneven - some episodes can be quite funny (particularly episodes that heavily rely on the in-show anime, "Gekigangar 3"), many other episodes merely use the same tired, old anime joke staples that weren't funny the first time I saw them, and haven't gotten any funnier the next few hundred times since then. The harem aspect of the show, while played in a rather conventional manner, isn't as condescending, crass or insulting as many other harem anime, which is certainly a point in favour of the show, but the show also fails to do anything interesting or innovative with the harem concept, and there is not really enough effort put into developing the reasons behind the reasons for the various female characters' love interest towards Akito. The mecha aspect of the show is decently-done, but there is little that stands out as being paticularly well-done. It's the same with the majority of the show, really - decently-done, but not well done. I will give bonus points to this show for being repsonsible for the "Gekigangar 3" OVA, whcih is almost worth the price of the "Martian Successor Nadesico" DVD box set in of itself.
Elfen Lied (OAV) Decent Althought the OAV has some moments which match anything that was done in the original series, far too often, the OVA leans far too much towards a cliched harem-flavoured comedy, in contrast to the original series contrasting emotionally-dark horror and light-hearted harem comedy.
Afro Samurai (TV) Not really good An afro-haired samurai wielding a katana, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, wants to avenge his father's death. To do so, he has to fight against a plethora of enemies that all have different fighting styles, skills, and their own specialities in weapons, from guns to throwing knives to rocket launchers, in order for the titular Afro Samurai to reach his father's killer, and fight against him in order to claim the title of the world's number one samurai. There's some moral about the price paid for revenge in there, and there's some sense of style about the production, but this has all been done so often before - the fact that the main character is black and has an afro isn't really enough to differentiate between this and any other shonen production, or to give it higher marks than this.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (movie) Masterpiece An alternate ending to the Neon Genesis Evangelion television series, which somehow manages to give the show a rather different ending, yet fit within the continuity of the original television series. Oh, and there's a lot of new information that recasts the show in an entirely different light. If you enjoyed the NGE television series, you'll definitely want to watch the movie.
Roujin Z (movie) Excellent An elderly man is made an experimental volunteer of a revolutionary aged-care program - one which will have the man inserted into a self-controlled machine, which will monitor and care for the patient for the rest of his days. However, the machine runs amok, causing havok everywhere it goes. And the artifical bed turns into a giant, self-constructing mecha. As these things tend to go. It is, in turns, insightful satire (particularly in regards to how we treat the elderly), humorous, and exciting.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Overture to a New War (movie) Masterpiece An expanded retelling of the first two episodes of the main series of "Legend of Galactic Heroes". Whether it improves on the first two episodes is debatable. On one hand, the expansion fleshes out some early characters, provides a few extra points of interest to major characters that does not detract from their characterization in the main series, there's some excellent classical music pieces selected for this movie, and, from a technical standpoint, the animation does look better than the original episodes. On the other hand, the brutal economy of storytelling of the original two episodes has its own merits, and the quality of the animation was never really a strong point of any entry in the LOGH anime. Well worth a look at for fans of the series.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth (movie) Masterpiece An retelling of the Neon Genesis Evangelion television show, in non-chronological order, along with the start of the new ending. Compilation movies that merely retread old story aren't new, particularly in anime, but there's plenty here that sets this above the rest. There's new animation, but more than that, the arrangement of the clips is done in such a way that it does not feel like a mere condensation and retread of the original show - rather, the manner in which it tells its story provides us with new insights that aren't readily gleaned from merely watching the original series. Essential viewing for any Evangelion fan.
Baccano! (TV) Excellent Baccano is a collection of several seemingly unrelated stories in 1930's America, told in a rather fractured manner, leaping between protagonists and time periods, often in the same episode. It's an interesting storytelling choice, and it helps the show as much as it hinders it. One the one hand, it does show interesting connections between various plot-threads and characters, changing the way we perceive what is happening in each story, and it sets itself apart from most other anime productions. On the other hand, it occasionally can be confusing keeping the various characters, interactions and plot threads together. In more whole-hearted support of the show, the animation is excellent, even if it can be extremely gruesome at times, the characters are all interesting and well-developed, and the choice of using 1930's America, including as an influence of the music used, is a rather interesting one. The last three episodes produced just for DVD release, on the other hand, are rather dissapointing - after the first thirteen episodes, they feel rather anticlimatic and unnecessary. One new plotline is brought up and feels inconsequential, and there's enough information in the series to deduce the endings of each of the characters without having to show it all explicitly - having these endings explicitly animated feels unnecessary.
Hetalia Axis Powers: Paint it, White! (movie) Because any movie based on a television show, regardless of the content, has to be about saving the day/world/universe, the Hetalia movie has various personifications of major countries fighting an alien menace turning all of the world into white stick-like figures. The reason is explained in the plot, but it feels like a cheap measure to skimp on an already-lean animation budget. Another problem with the low-quality animation is that it makes it rather difficult to tell many of the characters apart, due to the lack of distinguising features on the plethora of poorly-detailed blue-eyed blond caucasian characters in the movie. What little plot of the movie there is is haphazardly told, randomly diverting to skits without any relevance to the plot, often between major plot points in the movie. As with the show of the same name, the movie is about as historically-educational (and as controversial) as a pre-school history book, the humour is largely based on national stereotypes and while occasionally funny, largely falls flat. I'm not a fan of the television show and the movie has done nothing to change my initial impressions of the show.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack (movie) Good Char's Counterattack has some interesting ideas in them (like most of Tomino's works) but here they largely don't mesh with the rest of the early Gundam serials. In particular, Char's reasons for wanting to collide an asteroid into earth are too far-fetched and too monstrous a plan to be credibly followed, either explicitly or implicitly, by so many people. It might have been more credible had some examples of oppression given in the movie, but there isn't. The ending where the asteroid is stopped also feels unearned. On the other hand, the animation is of a much higher standard than the early Gundam serials, you'll get to see what has happened to several of your favourite characters since ZZ Gundam, and the battles in the OVA are really well-done.
Gurren Lagann (TV) Decent Enjoyable over-the-top super mecha action, with the occasional well-developed dramatic moment, and it owes a great deal to many different eras of mecha anime. However, this is counterbalanced by some very, very silly plot points that are central to the show which are not funny, and don't really make any sense.
Orphen: The Revenge (TV) Weak Everything that was enjoyable about the original Orphen television series is severely lacking here. There's nothing as sophisticated as character development - the cast have largely become a bunch of cliches transplanted into different cliched comedic situations. Much of the series consists of the central cast of characters getting involved in silly situations and dealing with them using silly antics, usually irrelevant to the overarching plot of the series itself, and all are certainly done better elsewhere. The story itself comes out only in drabs and spurts, inserted between filler, and bad filler at that. However, all of this changes in the latter part of the series - the cast of the show become actual characters, the plot becomes apparent, the show becomes more serious and more interesting. And while this part of the story itself done well, and goes some way in compensating you for suffering through the earlier episodes, you certainly couldn't recommend anyone else do it, because they would also have to suffer through the earlier episodes to get to the end, too.
(The) Sky Crawlers (movie) Weak For a movie about simulated war games held to entertain the public (why did it take over an hour to reveal such a simple premise?) it is both ponderously slow and boring. Yes, Mamoru Oshii is one of the more intelligent directors making anime movies, but here it seems that he is too fixated on forcefully showing his intellect to us - the intelligent sections clunk and jar in the viewing, rather than making the intelligent parts of the movie more natural and organic to the storyline.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (movie) Excellent For something that's so often done as an action movie, there are very few that actually manage to get everything right. For my money, "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust" does just that. The main characters and protagonist are well-developed and have believeable motivations, the setting and characters are rather inventive and well-imagined - there's all manner of strange beasts and foes with unique abilities - the story is interesting and doesn't seem tired when people have played with the idea of the vampire to death, and it's gorgeously animated, too.
Chobits (TV) Bad I can't believe I actually watched the entirety of this show. The animation is nice, and, on the rare occasion throughout the show, it makes a blatant and clumsy attempt to examine the morality and ethics of a human-robot relationship, and they are the sole factors saving this show from a "Worst-Ever" rating. Huge plot points, central to the show itself, remain unresolved at the end. There are major coincidences in the plot that we are meant to simply accept, and inconsistencies in the show are blatant and badly jarring. Fan service is constant and unnecessary, and gets in the way of character development for all but the two lead characters. Chi, who is apparently meant to be a rare and extremely intelligent robot, acts like she (can you call a robot a she?) suffers from a mental handicap, and this is presented as being cute and endearing. Hideki, the male lead, also appears to suffer from a mental handicap. Constantly wanting to shout at the main characters for being so stupid that they should be locked up for their own safety does not make for a enjoyable show for me.
School Days (TV) Very good I don't particularly appreciate the tropes behind harem anime, so having this show go to some pains to point out out that treating women in such a manner as depicted in such anime is wrong, and has serious emotional consequences for the women treated in such a fashion (even if some are rather far-fetched) is something I do appreciate. It's definitely no great work, though - the animation is rather ordinary at times and the show definitely feels like it could have been shortened and actually have been beneficial to the show itself. It's still worth a look for a view on said subject matter and themes.
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (movie) Masterpiece I had a few complaints about Evangelion 1.0, but the second entry in the series fixes all of the issues that I had with the reboot. There's a focus on character development and setting, which was sadly lacking in the first movie. There are major plot changes compared to the original series, and the movie is going in a very different direction to the original series. At the same time, however, it keeps the themes and ideas of the original series. Especially well-done is how the movie manages play with the expectations of fans of the original Evangelion series, managing to feel as shocking as watching the original series for the first time. Brilliant stuff. In spite of these changes, though, this still feels like Neon Genesis Evangelion that so polarises the opinions of anime fans.
Initial D (TV) Good I love this show (in terms of enjoyment I would give it full marks), but would at the same time objectively concede it suffers from numerous problems - major differences in quality and style of animation between different segments of the show (traditional animation compared to computer graphics), little characterisation and the show is rather formulaic. While I greatly enjoy this show, it does have many flaws.
Ar Tonelico (OAV) Very good I wasn't expecting too much from the "Ar Tonelico" OVA, which condenses a twenty-hour RPG with multiple storylines into a single half-hour OVA. The OVA decides to tell a very condensed story of two of the main characters. Basically, Orica (Aurica in the PS2 game, I have no idea why the names aren't identical) is a Reyvateil, which is a girl who can sing songs that allow people that fight to kick ass. However, Orica can't sing, because she lacks the heart to do so. Orica meets Laina (Lyner in said game), who crashed his airship after encountering a dragon, and can't seem to fix it, and the two are stuck together and are forced to fix the airship. To spoil absolutely nothing for anyone who has ever watched a single anime show (or any show or movie, for that matter), a mechanic gets the airship working again, the trio encounter the dragon again and they decide to fight it, Laina teaches Orica the value of singing just in time to reverse the fight that he is losing against the dragon, and Orica's sudden ability to sing properly helps him kicks the dragon's ass. While it tells this story in the space of thirty minutes, the story is not self-contained in any sense - there is the constant feeling that there is far more going on than what occurs within the OVA episode - character cameos and story threads all demand to be expliciated (and are... if you pay the money and play the video game). Apart from some similarities in characters, the plot is quite different to the game, but in spite of this, the show works for what it wants to do - although it's predictable, it's entertaining for both those that haven't played the game (and might convince those who haven't played it to look at the game) and it's also entertaining if you have played the game.
Texhnolyze (TV) Masterpiece Icihse is an orphan turned prizefighter, who loses an arm and a leg after getting on the wrong side of his promoter. On the verge of death, he is rescued and given artificial limbs, which gives him a second chance and a new purpose in life. Yet there are sinister rumblings behind all of this - an underground war is brewing, which threatens to destroy the delicate social balance of the city, and a young girl, able to see the future, tells Ichise that he will be responsible for the deaths of a great many people. "Texhnolyze" is quite a dark and depressing tale, but this is coupled with quite a lot of intellectual gristle, which makes this show stand out from so many others of its type.
Jikū Bōken Nūmamonjaa (OAV) Worst ever If anime was drawn from a barrel, this would be the mold that lives on the bottom underneath said barrel. The OAV is terribly animated, lacking anything that might be considered humorous or dramatic, nor is there any plot or characterisation. In case I missed mentioning anything, and my comments be misconstrued as supporting a single aspect of this show, there's nothing remotely enjoyable or praiseworthy about this OAV. In fact, the one job it might have been able to do, convince me to play or purchase "Chrono Trigger", it fails at spectacularly, and I've quite enjoyed playing "Chrono Trigger" before.
Excel Saga (TV) Good Ilpalazzo is devoted to taking over the world, and starts his dreams of conquest with the F-City Prefecture, with the help of devoted lieutenants Excel and Hyatt. This is quite a funny show, and how the show manages to switch between genres and storytelling styles in every single episode is rather ingenious. However, the show hasn't aged well, and a lot of jokes lose their humour when transplanted into English - anime that was obscure when Excel Saga went to air has now fallen from the radar from all but the most ardent and devoted of anime fans, puns and wordplay only work in the language they were originally conceived in, and the jokes that rely on an appreciation of the Japanese culture aren't readily appreciated in English. The DVD has excellent pop-up notes to explain al of this, but having to read notes to explain jokes doesn't make them funny. That said, there are plenty of jokes that are easily understood in English, and since there are so many jokes, in such a wide variety of tastes, there will be something that tickles your funnybone. Oh, and the much-hyped Episode 26 (which was banned from television) is pure garbage. I like shows that push themselves to excessive levels, but there has to be a point behind such a goal - to be excessive and earn a ban from television is not of itself a goal.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (TV) Excellent In an alternate universe where Britain rules the world due to the superiority of its giant robot military forces, LeLouch gains the power to control others and vows to use it to destroy the Britainnian Empire. The characters are well developed, and the story and setting are both quite interesting, there are plenty of good plot twists, and the various mecha designs are all quite cool. The only issue I have with the show is that there are too many Deus Ex Machina solutions to problems - situations which are seemingly impossible to escape from are simply magicked away, lessening the tribulations of the characters in the show. I prefer to see characters attempt to deal with their difficulties using their own skills and abilities.
Ergo Proxy (TV) Excellent In the far-future city of Romdo, a tightly-controlled society where robots follow the orders of their human masters, Rei-l encounters a mysterious creature called Proxy, and is compelled to investigate the nature of this creature in spite of orders from her superiors. The artwork for the show is rather nice, too - muted and dark colours, detailed character designs without embellishment, and much of the artwork provides hints of the plot and the background of the world without being obvious. As is often the case with such investigations, her work lead into the murky, morally-grey depths of the world in which she lives, while unravelling multiple conspiracies. It's a dark and occasionally violent story, but intelligent at the same time - it's occasionally difficult to penetrate at times, but it's not pretentious, because that implies that it can't actually back itself up when it needs to, when it certainly can - themes about artificial intelligence, religion and godhood, and the nature of man are embedded through the entire show. If you're after an intelligent and dark anime, this is well worth a look.
Initial D: Second Stage (TV) Good It's more of what you liked (or didn't like) in the first television series. Same cliches and plot repetition, same wildly varied graphical styles, and the same lack of character and plot development. And, both in spite of this and because of it, I love this show.
Cowboy Bebop (TV) Decent It's not a bad show at all, but the only noteworthy thing I would single out from this show is the excellent use of a large variety of music types throughout the show to convey different moods and emotions. Otherwise, a decent if not spectacular show, and far over-rated in comparison to its actual merits.
Ah! My Goddess (TV) Excellent Keiichi is a perenially out of luck university student, who is granted a single wish by the Goddess Belldandy, and Keiichi inadvertently wishes for Belldandy to stay at his side forever. In lesser hands, the show might have felt less like a romance and more like Belldandy's forced slavery to Keiichi, but the show manages to avoid such undertones - Belldandy is too sweet and pure, yet underneath this mild exterior lies a will of steel, and Keiichi is too shy, innocent and chivalrous to suggest anything that might have even the faintest tinge of being rude or crude. In fact, "Ah! My Goddess!" is actually a very good romantic comedy - the romance between Keiichi and Belldandy is done well and developed rather subtlely over the first season, the show has a sense of humour, and there's something of a story arc throughout the season, too as the characters in the story develop, as well as the romance they share. This is well worth watching, even if you aren't normally a fan of romantic comedies.
Serial Experiments Lain (TV) Masterpiece Lain Iwakura is a girl who is introduced to the world of the Wired, a highly-advanced form of internet, and Lain quickly becomes engrossed in the virtual reality world. Soon, she is forced to question everything about her life and the world in which she lives, even the nature and form of her own existence. “Serial Experiments Lain” is a puzzle in every sense of the word. It takes a lot of time and effort to figure out, the pieces come out so that they don’t belong anywhere near each other, there’s a lot of different pieces and somehow, and you’re expected to put it all together. But for those that have the patience for this sort of thing are amply rewarded with a show that deeply delves into so many complex themes like religion, self-identity, and a variety of complex philosophical themes, too.
Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy (TV) Good More of the same as the original "Ah! My Goddess!" television series. The story has reached a plateau of sorts - the characters stay exactly as they are in the start of the series, and they either do nice things or get involved in wacky hijinks. It's enjoyable if you liked the first series, but much of the enjoyment of the first series was derived from how the various characters progressed emotionally through the first series, and that isn't present here.
D.N.Angel (TV) Decent Niwa Daisuke finds out on his fourteenth birthday that he is the legendary thief "Phantom Dark", and is made to steal rare artworks that are imbued with magic in order to seal the magic away, and must contend leading this life with his schoolwork and his adolescent love life. "D. N. Angel" is by no means a particularly great show - it lacks originality, has a number of plotholes, and it's not particularly challenging viewing, but in spite of this, it can be quite entertaining at times.
Orphen (TV) Good Orphen is a sorcerer with a mysterious connection to a dragon named "Bloody August". Although it can be formulaic at times, it is a decent serious fantasy, with the occasional comedic element.
Scrapped Princess (TV) Very good Pacifica Casull is feared and hated by almost everyone she meets - it has been decreed by the followers of the God Mauser that Pacifica will be the poison that destroys the world when she turns sixteen. The characters are all well-developed, and the setting of the show is well-crafted. The story of is rather well-done too - in spite of being given a "Parental Guidance" rating in Australia, the show does enter some quite emotionally-dark territory at times without having to use explicit violence or sex like many other "dark" anime shows. The only serious contention I have with this show is that the background of the story is repeated far too often, which can get tedious after a while.
Mobile Suit Gundam (TV) Masterpiece Ray Amuro is a civilian that comes under attack from the Federation Forces. He stumbles upon the Gundam, a prototype mecha, which he uses to fight against the armies of Zeon, along with an assorted group of civilians and soldiers. "Mobile Suit Gundam" was the first "real robot" anime, instead of the typical "super robot" anime that was quite popular in the sixties and seventies. Instead of a typical "monster-of-the-week" formula and a mech whose power and abilities are barely explained, there is an emphasis on scientifically-plausible mech, logistics, planning and strategy, the use of tactics during combat, and, most crucially, a singular story arc instead of an episodic formula. Even thirty years after it was made, it's still an excellent show - the characters are all well-developed and interesting, there is a deal of credible variety in the military strategies utilised, and the show has done an excellent job in developing many of the tropes used within the genre - if the show makes the occasional minor mis-step it is because there was nothing remotely like Gundam before Gundam. It's easy to see how this show has influenced the both mecha genre and the whole of anime itself.
Mobile Suit SD Gundam Mk II (OAV) Bad Review as per Mobile Suit SD Gundam.
Mobile Suit SD Gundam's Counterattack (movie) Bad Review as per Mobile Suit SD Gundam.
Robot Carnival (OAV) Masterpiece Robot Carnival is a collection of nine short movies, thematically linked by the concept of the robots. There are many brilliant short movies in this collection, and the few that are rather ordinary in idea and scope are delivered in such astonishingly high-detailed animation that they become enjoyable to watch as a moving animation spectacle instead. The Masterpiece rating given not an average, rather, it is the most common rating for all of the shorts, and of the overall movie. Ratings are as follows: // Opening - 10/10 - a giant machine rolls into a small desert village, inadvertently causing untold destruction to the town and the residents forced to live there. Katsuhiro Otomo provides a lot of interesting juxtapositions in this short. // Franken's Gears - 8/10 - a scientist creates a robot that judderingly comes to life, destroying the laboratory that it was built in in the process. While the short obviously owes a great debt to the story of Doctor Frankenstein and his monster, the beautifully-detailed animation makes this worth watching. // Starlight Angel - 6/10 - two girls are visiting an amusement park, and one of them has a dream about flying about while trying to escape a giant robot. Or freaks out while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. I'm not too sure on this point, since the short wasn't either. As with every single other short, it is extremely well-animated, though. // Cloud - 10/10 - a small robot boy wonders about, a cacophany of strange and surreal images, with occasional bursts of colour, appearing to show the thoughts of the robot and what the robot has seen and experienced. // Deprive - 6/10 - a robot fights against an army of invading robots to save a girl, and somehow turns into a person at the end. Like "Starlight Angel", this succeeds more as a visual spectacle rather than as a story, concept, or as philosophical musings. // Presence - 10/10 - a man creates a robot, and when it begins to express feelings and emotions towards its creator, finds himself unable to reciprocate those emotions and destroys it. // A Tale of Two Robots - 8/10 - in the nineteenth-century, a man invades Japan with a giant wooden robot, only to find himself faced against another giant wooden robot piloted by several of the local residents. This is let down by a rather hammy dub - while such a dub may have worked in the original Japanese as a parody, in English, it merely comes across as being crude and inept. // Nightmare - 9/10 - a man finds himself pursued by ghastly machines that have been brought to life. While it might be easy to say that this is merely enjoyable because it is so well-animated, like "Starlight Angel" and "Deprive", this differentiates itself by having a rather interesting visual style and isn't so cliched as the aforementioned two. // Close - 10/10 - the machine from the opening credits struggles up a hill, and stops, unable to move further. The cessation of motion in the closing scene is an interesting contrast to the opening scenes. // Epilogue - a man stumbles across the ruin of the giant machine from the open and close of the movie, and finds a trinket, which he takes home to show his family, not knowing what he has actually found.
Solty Rei (TV) Excellent Roy Revant is an aged-worn bounty hunter for hire in a city filled with disabled people that have been given advanced cybernetic body parts. He meets a strange young girl with enormous strength, who he is forced to partner with. "Solty Rei" starts off rather generically, even though it deals with worn tropes rather well, but soon manages to become something more - the cast are fleshed out into proper characters, the show deals with serious issues, and a dark and serious plot is developed. It's well worth sticking with.
Tokyo Underground (TV) Weak Rumina and Ginnosuke head underground to a secret world known as the "Underground" to help save Rumina's new-found love interest. It's repetitive and formulaic shonen action, coupled with low-quality generic animation. It has been done before, it has been done since, and it definitely has been done better.
S-CRY-ed (TV) Good S-CRY-ed is about interesting badass characters doing their damndest to kill eachother with awesome psychic powers. This show might disregard little issues like logic, common sense, internal consistency and the basic laws of physics, but it makes up for all of this by being immensely entertaining to watch. It's no masterpiece by any definition, but it's damn well done for what it is.
Blood+ (TV) Excellent Saya is a seemingly normal teenage girl, who finds out that she is the only person capable of bringing down the monsterous Chiropterans, monsters that feed on the blood of the living. While it doesn't seem like the most original of plot setups, "Blood+" is an excellent action anime. There's a central female character, who is a capable fighter and not an object of crass fan service. The action scenes are quite well-animated. The series certainly isn't shy about killing off the characters it develops throughout the series, which does add a great deal of suspense to the story of the show. And while the show does takes the time to develop the cast of characters and their emotions, it feels like the show occasionally falters while doing so - it takes away the momentum of the action and the unfolding story. "Blood+" is well worth a look if you enjoy and appreciate well-done action anime.
Mobile Suit SD Gundam Mk III (OAV) Weak SD Gundam Mk III benefits from having a different setting to the previous OVA episodes (feudal Japan as opposed to random settings) and for ditching jokes about Japanese puns and crass humour in favour of silly ninja jokes instead. It's still rather poor and lacking in humour... but at least it's not as bad as the three previous OVAs.
Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor (TV) Not really good Sho is a typical Japanese school student, who suddenly finds himself in the posession of the strange weapon called a "guyver", a super-strong suit with special powers, and is thrust into a world of violence where a group called Chronos cultivates huge monsters and plots to take over the world. The show, however, falters too much in execution. The main problem is that action scenes flow rather badly - battles aren't fluid, there are a lot of jumps in the action scenes, and the action stops and starts too often, and enemies that are meant to be cruel and ruthless will considerately wait for people to offer pep talks to the main characters. Apart from that, there are too many plot holes which rely on characters being consistently stupid, and the ending is extremely poorly-done, doing little to offer anything in the way of a resolution. Give this a miss - there are plenty of better "super-powered teen" anime out there besides this.
Mobile Suit SD Gundam (OAV/movie) Bad Some quick notes on SD Gundam mini episodes from the late 80's and early 90's: 1) They all have similar humour, gags, animation style and quality, so there's little to differentiate them from eachother unless noted. 2) Most of the humour here are either puns or references that only really work in Japanese (although the fansubs generally do explain them), and if they're not puns they are usually extremely immature, either childish or toilet humour 3) you're not going to understand any of these unless you have some knowledge of Gundam, Zeta and Double Zeta Gundam, 4) You're not going to care about them when you do understand them.
Full Metal Panic! (TV) Decent Sousuke Sagara is a teenage military sargent, assigned to go undercover into a school to protect Japanese schoolgirl Kaname Chidori from potential kidnappers. Kaname is likely to be a "Whispered", or a person with a subconscious memory with extremely advanced knowledge that can be put to use for good or ill. From this setup, "Full Metal Panic!" switches between comedic high-school hijinks between Sousuke and Kaname, a small love triangle, and giant mech action. The high-school comedy is occasionally humorous but largely underwhelming, and the love triangle is underwhelming and entirely lacking the humour present in the high-school hinjinks. The mecha action ranges between decent and excellent - there are some excellent storyline setups for the mech, but the later execution occasionally feels clumsy - characters rarely die (with a few notable exceptions), but largely, most of the characters feel too invulnerable, which takes away a lot of the tension in the action pieces of the anime. If the show was more consistent with the mecha action, I would both rate the show higher and provide a stronger recommendation towards this show, but as it is, the anime spends far too much time with episodes that feature little or no action at all, while failing to develop the largely generic characters into memorable characters that we actually care about.
Gantz (TV) Very good The central object in the anime "Gantz", the Gantz, makes no sense. It's an advanced technology that can copy and revive assorted people who have just died, and dispenses advanced weapons and armour. The reasons it does so are unfathomable - the initial explanations given result in huge plot holes (even if the last story arc are disregarded), and the only way the actions of the Gantz can be explained are as a plot device to set up situations which destroy the minds and lives of the various characters in the show. It does, however, do this quite well. If you are able to get over this initial viewing hurdle, "Gantz" is quite good in setting up disturbingly gory and dark situations and characters, accompanied by an extremely bloody and blatantly graphic visual style, even if the depictions of action in the anime is rather static and lacking in the normal flow of action.
My Neighbors the Yamadas (movie) Good The extremely simplistic animated style allows you to concentrate on the plot of the movie itself - the observations and tribulations of several different members of a family as they go about their lives. However, the simplicity of the observations made often manages to make this a trying movie to view.
Banner of the Stars (TV) Very good The first sequel to "Crest of the Stars". While there is something in the way of character interaction and development, like the original show, this series focuses more on the trials of a crew of a single space craft in a fleet, and the small part they play in fighting in an interstellar war. However, the show does pull out for a larger focus, concentrating on the commanders and strategy of the war too. While there is a lot to like, the character interaction is occasionally repetitive and uncredible, though, and it would be interesting to see the opposing perspective of the war too.
Death Note (TV) Good The first twenty-six episodes are well deserving of a "Masterpiece" rating - interesting characters, a well-developed story arc, and challenging ideas and themes. The last eleven episodes, nearly a third of the show, (and, most crucially of all, the ending itself) range from rather ordinary to awful - plot gaps appear, previously brilliant characters make rather simple mistakes, and the end feels like it was made in order to fulfil some blindly-enforced moral requirements, rather than building upon the consequences of what occured in the rest of the story. The rating given is my opinion of the overall series, but if the show were to be split in two parts, the ratings given would be dramatically different.
Muteki Chōjin Zambot 3 (TV) Very good The Gaizok have arrived on Earth, with its annihiliation their only goal. The only people standing in their way are the Jin family, who happen to have possession of a transforming robot to help them save the Earth. This is a rather good mecha anime from the mid-seventies, and certainly far above the majority of mecha shows of the time - it's well worth a look for those who are fans of the genre. "Zambot 3" does a good job of alternating between enjoyable mecha battles and serious plotlines, and there are some interesting themes and ideas here. Some of the content on display here is quite disturbing at times, even by the standards of adults today - I have no idea how one theme in particular (if you have watched this show, you know what I'm on about) got into what is a children's show. That said, while the show does have some interesting ideas, some of the ideas don't quite work when they are put together, and the animation quality on display is typical by the standards of a seventies mecha anime (very low-quality animation quality and colouring, with lots of animation recycling used).
(The) Ideon: Be Invoked (movie) Excellent The only anime of the "Space Runaway Ideon" series that is worth watching. To try and convince anyone to watch it without spoiling what makes the movie so good is difficult, suffice to say that no person is guaranteed to live at the end of the movie, and some of the deaths during the movie are really quite shocking, both in regards to the story and presentation.
Mobile Suit Gundam - The Movie Trilogy Excellent The original Gundam movie trilogy condenses fifteen-odd hours of television into six hours worth of movie, using nearly all of its footage from the original television series. The quality of animation is understandable for a television show from the early 1980s, but the quality is rather low when considered as a film that aired in cinemas. The condensed story of Mobile Suit Gundam also misses quite a few of the lesser plot points and more subtle character developments, but it's still the same characters and storyline that was so enjoyable and interesting in the original Gundam serial. While the movie series did play a large role in bringing Mobile Suit Gundam to a wider audience, I would recommend the television serial over the movie trilogy as the best way to watch this story of the Gundam series.
(The) Ideon: A Contact (movie) So-so The recap movie of Space Runaway Ideon cuts out much of the repetitive "battle of the week" nature of the television series, leaving in place only several major battles and the most important character scenes of the story. Unfortunately, all of these were present in the original show and aren't quite given the proper context here - the relationships, personalities and motivations of the characters are barely explored, if at all, and Ideon's nature is bluntly revealed, instead of the slow exposition, which worked better in the original series.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino (TV) Decent The second series of Gunslinger Girl takes a rather different approach to the first season, to the detriment of the show. There's less angst and pathos, with less attention paid to the emotional problems of the girls and the bleak situation they are in, which was one of the central reasons that made the original series so interesting. Instead, the second season concentrates on the story of several of the terrorists, but the story there isn't as interesting, nor does it provide particularly compelling reasons for the ideologies and personal motivations behind the terrorists' actions. Considering the high quality of the first season of the anime, to see such a stumble in the second season feels very disappointing.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: A Hundred Billion Stars, A Hundred Billion Lights (OAV) Excellent The series does contain echoes of what made the main series so enjoyable, but it's plainly a lesser series - the stories don't have the same scope, intelligence and grandeur of the main series, and the characters are less well-developed. Apart from the last story arc, which is well worth watching for any LOGH fan, the stories here don't add anything of interest or of major relevance to the original series. On the other hand, you do get to see your favourite characters in action. It's not a bad show by any means, it just doesn't measure up to the brilliance of the original series. Ratings for each story arc as follows: // Valley of the Silver Wind - 8/10 - Siegfried and Reinhard get their first assignment, but have to deal with an assassination attempt instigated by a concubine of the court, and also manage to save the day from the Free Planets Alliance to boot. // Morning's Dream, Night's Song - 7/10 - Siegfried and Reinhard investigate a murder, solved with the assistance of several coincidences. // Disgrace - 7/10 - Siegfried thwarts an assassination attempt, and is enlisted to do some detective work, which involves a lot of talking and not much actual detective work. // A Hundred Billion Stars, A Hundred Billion Lights - 9/10 - Reinhard, now a Commander, is sent to the Sixth Battle of Iserlohn. The longer episode arc compared to the rather brief arcs for the other episodes provides the opportunity for a larger and more expansive depiction of a major military campaign, deeper and more nuanced character development, and more subtle military and political machinations.
Kaiba (TV) Excellent The show follows the journey of a person who awakens without any memories, in a world where thoughts can be extracted and exchanged between bodies. It's a difficult show to surmise further without providing spoilers. Admittedly some people might have trouble with the art direction of the show, but I think it's brilliant - it's a bizzare surreal style that brings alien peoples, artifacts and worlds to life in a way that could only be possible through animation. While the first half of the story is worthy of a "Masterpiece" rating, I don't think the second half quite lives up to the first half - I think it is because the show is more interesting when the show decides to show you the events that are happening, rather than explaining everything.
Starship Operators (TV) So-so The space battles depicted here are top-notch - exciting, believeable, and well-depicted. It is unfortunate that nothing else in this show matches the space battles - few of the characters are anything more than a face and a name, and the few attempts that are made at making these people into proper characters is literally laughable. The plot of the show, about turning warfare into television entertainment, is quite an interesting one, but I don't think the delivery was worthy of such a good idea.
Elfen Lied (TV) Excellent There are two completely different shows here, melded together like a strange, demonic hybrid creature. One is a sadistically violent and bloody action and horror anime, the sole goal of which is to completely destroy the lives and minds of the characters. The other is a light-hearted harem anime. Somehow, the two manage to work together - the harem part provides the characterisation and gratuitous fanservice, the action and horror part provide the excitement, and puts a dark and twisted spin on the harem aspect of the show. Excellent stuff.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: My Conquest is the Sea of Stars (movie) Masterpiece This is a prequel to the main "Legend of Galactic Heroes" OVA series, detailing the first military encounter between two military strategy geniuses - Reinhard, working within the military of the authoritarian "Galactic Empire" and Yang Wenli, working in the military of the corrupting democratic "Free Planets Alliance". This is a masterpiece and well worthy of being a prequel to the main OVA series. Not only does it have many of the major characters from the main series, they act in a way that is believeable considering their depictions in the OVA series, space-based military strategy is well-done, there are intelligent discussions on a variety of subjects, and it also expands upon aspects of the story that weren't dealt with in the main series without ruining the main series itself.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Golden Wings (OAV) Excellent This is a prequel to the main "Legend of Galactic Heroes" OVA series, starting with the initial meeting between Reinhard von Müsel and Siegfried Kircheis, both of whom are destined to have major roles in the intergalactic conflict that wages between the Free Planets Alliance and the Galactic Empire. The OAV manages to do a rather neat trick of both standing up as a self-enclosed story, and fitting in with both the the main series and the side stories. It's also as intelligent as the main series, with characters discussing intelligent ideas and foreplanning military strategy, even if it fails to have the same scope as the main series - which it can hardly be faulted for, when there's only about two episodes worth of story here.
Hametsu No Mars (OAV) Worst ever This is a show that wants to be taken seriously, yet there is nothing that is meritous of such treatment. The characters and their problems are all boring and cliched, the action is laughable, and there are gaping plotholes, logical inconsistencies and a dearth lack of intelligent ideas, or even a smart reinterpretation of old ideas. Yes, it seems to be done on a rather limited budget so I can forgive the shoddy animation, but a lack of budget really should not mean a lack of ideas or originality.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino (OAV) Not really good This is a two-episode OVA that serves as a sequel to the second series of Gunslinger Girl. For the first half of the episode, there's several small action pieces that are decently done, but they serves no purpose in the overarching narrative and there's little suspense in the action sequences. The other episode-and-a-half has two of the girls on a vacation, and Jean spending some time considering the relationship he had with his departed sister. It all feels like a rather anticlimatic ending to the series. The OVA animation does make good use of a rather low budget, and the shortcuts in animation used are rather well-implemented, but it is hard to care when the story on offer is so lacklustre.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 (TV) Excellent This is for those who were fans of the first series of Code Geass. Trite but true - the show presumes quite a familiarity with the first season's events, the tone of story being told is the same to what was being told in the first season, and the show still has the same strengths and weaknesses as before - interesting, intelligent and well-developed characters, great animation, and occasionally bad writing to help steer the show in the direction that the director wants it to go towards.
(The) Legend of the Galactic Heroes (OAV) Masterpiece This is the main OVA series of Legend of Galactic Heroes, detailing the intergalactic war between the "Free Planets Alliance" and the "Galactic Empire". There's so many aspects of the show that are done with a rare brilliance. There's the stunning orchestral score, well-developed and believeable characters on both sides of the war, the intelligent debates and discussions about a variety of topics, the well-planned military tactics, the difficult moral dilemmas presented, and how the story manages to span over one hundred episodes yet none of these episodes feel repetitive, inconsequential, or padded. Probably the best part, though, is how the author manages to continually defy many story-telling conventions throught the series. A true anime masterpiece.
Project A-Ko (movie) Very good Two girls that are best friends, A-Ko and C-Ko, move to a new area, and to a new school. During their introduction to the class, C-Ko catches the eye of another girl, B-Ko, who decides to get C-Ko for herself, even if it requires her to battle against A-Ko. While this is happening, an intergalactic spacecraft is making its way towards earth, the motivations of the crew inside unknown but believed to be hostile. "Project A-Ko" is a good low-brow movie - the scale constantly escalates to an over-the-top ridiculousness that staggers belief and puts most other action movies to shame, the fan-service is plentiful without stalling the flow of the action, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and the anime has a good sense of humour that doesn't merely rely on references to eighties anime that few fans today would recognise or appreciate. It also helps that all of this is animated to an extremely high quality - this would not be nearly as entertaining should the anime have been done more cheaply. While the initial setup does feel rather slow and clumsy, the hour-long final battle more than makes up for the slow start.
Crest of the Stars (TV) Excellent Two humanoids of vastly-different backgrounds - Jinto Linn, a newly-crowned noble human, and Lafiel, a Princess of the Abh, are brought together as the entirety of humankind is plunged into war. The thirteen episodes of this series only show a prelude to the hostilities themselves, and the developing relationship between the two main characters. Rather than the grandiose and epic perspective that most space opera takes, this is a more personal and intimate story. The characters are well-developed, and the depiction of space-based warfare as shown here is interesting, exciting, and credible, within the rules the show sets for itself. Well worth watching for fans of space opera.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV) Masterpiece Two young girls, Madoka and Sayaka, are offered the chance to have a single wish of theirs fulfilled if they become magical girls to fight witches in exchange. It's a well-written story which deconstructs the tropes and ideas central to the concept of the magical girl genre, often doing so in a dark and brutal manner. A special mention should be made for the artwork of the show, switching between a beautiful and well-drawn normal animation style for the scenes set in Japan, and a fantastical nonsensical style for the scenes where the magical girls fight witches in an other-worldly setting. This show is well worth your time, even if you don't normally enjoy or appreciate magical girl shows.
Project A-Ko 2: Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group (OAV) Good Weeks after the original "Project A-Ko", A-Ko and C-Ko are on Summer Vacation, B-Ko schemes to win C-Ko away from A-Ko, the aliens stranded on Earth want to get home, while B-Ko's father wants to get his hands on the alien technology inside the spaceship stranded on earth. While the storyline is a good follow-up on the original anime, and maintains the good humour of the original movie, the relatively low budget of the OVA does not allow it to be nearly as convincing in matching the scale and scope of combat and devastation shown in the original.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV) Masterpiece Well-crafted and emotionally-complex characters, interesting ideas, and exciting mecha action. A television masterpiece.
Katanagatari (TV) Very good Yasuri Shichika is a master of the Kyotoryuu school of sword martial arts, and is recruited by Togame, a skilled military strategist, in her quest to claim twelve blades crafted by a legendary swordsmith. Katanagatari differentiates itself enough from the majority of shonen anime to be worth looking at - the variety of visual styles employed through the show is great (and makes the show worth looking at alone), and the fifty-minute running time per episode allows for individual story arcs to be more fleshed-out, which is well-appreciated. However, there are some problems typical to shonen anime that are still present - while it makes some effort to be different, the show does tend to follow a typical shonen story arc, and there are far too many characters for the viewer to become attached to. The high amount of plot inconsistencies especially deserves a mention. Still, this is worth watching, since the show does make such an effort to stand out from the multitude of shonen anime that surround it.
My Neighbor Totoro (movie) Masterpiece “My Neighbour Totoro” a charming children’s film, the joy and wonder of being a child and having a fantastical (in all senses of the word) adventure on display in a way only Hayao Miyazaki can capture, yet it never insults the adults in the audience. There’s believeable characters and situations here, too. Oh, and the ambiguity as to whether the Totoro exists or is the product of the imagination of the child characters is really well-done, too. This is one of the best movies I've ever watched, and I make no concessions towards "My Neighbour Totoro" for the fact that this is a "children's film".
5 Centimeters Per Second (movie) Very good
Ah! My Goddess: The Movie Good
Angel Beats! (TV) Very good
Blood: The Last Vampire (movie) Excellent
Castle in the Sky (movie) Excellent
(The) Cat Returns (movie) Very good
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Geneshaft (TV)
Ghost in the Shell (movie) Masterpiece
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (movie) Decent
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (TV) Masterpiece
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG (TV)
(The) Girl Who Leapt Through Time (movie) Excellent
Grave of the Fireflies (movie)
Haibane Renmei (TV) Masterpiece
Howl's Moving Castle (movie) Excellent
(The) Irresponsible Captain Tylor (TV) Very good
Kiki's Delivery Service (movie) Masterpiece
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (movie) Good
Metropolis (movie)
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (TV) Masterpiece
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (movie) Excellent
Ninja Scroll (movie) So-so
Now and Then, Here and There (TV) Very good
Origin ~Spirits of the Past~ (movie) Very good
Outlaw Star (TV) Decent
Panda! Go, Panda! (movie) Decent
Panda! Go, Panda!: Rainy Day Circus (movie) Decent
Paprika (movie)
Paranoia Agent (TV)
Perfect Blue (movie)
Phoenix 2772 - Space Firebird (movie)
Planetes (TV) Very good
Pom Poko (movie) Masterpiece
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (movie) Excellent
Porco Rosso (movie) Very good
Princess Mononoke (movie) Excellent
Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise (movie)
Samurai Deeper Kyo (TV) Good
Sea Prince and the Fire Child (movie)
Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars (TV) Very good
Spirited Away (movie) Excellent
Spriggan (movie) Good
Steamboy (movie)
Steins;Gate (TV)
(The) Super Dimension Fortress Macross (TV) So-so
Sword of the Stranger (movie)
Tales from Earthsea (movie) Good
Tiger & Bunny (TV)
Trigun (TV) Not really good
(The) Vision of Escaflowne (TV) Good
Whisper of the Heart (movie) Very good
Wicked City (movie) Awful
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