Saturday, December 06, 2008

I'm alive and so is this blog! (for now at least) - Review Session

Well, I guess it's safe to say I couldn't be bothered to do some posting for the last 3 months. That's all you're getting in the way of an explanation. Ok, I'll also add that the hockey season has been taking up some of my time as I've been blogging about hockey a lot on another website. Go Habs Go!!

xxxholic kei: More of the same in terms of content. The returning characters make it pretty important that you've seen the first season. The ending was conclusive but not necessarily fulfilling. Still, pretty interesting as a whole.

To Love-Ru: Really nice character designs save this from being unwatchable. Rito has the love of the two main girls and he has a crush on ONE of them but it somehow still remains a love triangle through the whole series. Still Haruna is the hottest character of the season!

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: I have to admit that I wasn't as enamored with this as most of my anime brethren. The execution was near flawless but the core remained a humanity vs. alien and humans can win against all odds with GUTS!!! Think of a perfectly executed, nicely animated version of the Power Rangers. Thats Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, especially in the second half. Actually, the series starts off like a masterpiece but after Kariya dies, the series never reaches the same level again. Still worth a watch though because for better or for worse, its the most significant anime series in the last 3 years in terms cult appeal and you'll feel left in the dark with all the parodies, references and comparisons you're sure to see in the future.

Code Geass R2: Absolute masterpiece. If you haven't seen the first season, don't you dare start watching this until you do. Actually, even if you HAVE seen the first season, watch it again before you watch the second. The combination is the best anime series since Mushishi. The ending was predictable, I actually had it figured out for weeks before it aired. It was the only way Lelouch could be redeemed in the eyes of his sister and the viewers. In the end, he was able to remain the hero of the series. I've made some Code Geass comparisons to Death Note in the past, mostly because of the similarity between the protaganists, Yagami Light and Lelouch. Both use a keen intellect and an unshakable sense of justice and lets them determine their actions. They both accept the fallout of their actions as their price to pay for the ability to make a difference. Both are giving a supernatural power to help them create their revolution. The allure of their demise reflects their main difference. Light kept furthering his plans until he was defeated, an eventuality without a doubt. His plans never had a scheduled ending. He was going to continue indefinitely. Lelouch, on the other hand, made his plan, ended it with his own sacrifice and could take honor in his accomplishement. He had one thing Light did not have: attachement to a person. Light used his father to further his plans. He cared for nobody. Lelouch's more selfish but less egotistic motives of improvement to his sister's future helped him set more definite goals. Anyways, I have debated LOTS of aspects code geass so I could go on forever but I'll stop because these are supposed to be abbrieviated reviews. I have some soft criticisms of Code Geass too, and you'll probably hear about them if you spend enough time with me but I'll leave them for now because they are, for the most part artistic choices and should in no way discourage you from watching this.Even if you're a casual anime viewer, you're making a grave mistake by not following Code Geass.

More reviews to come but for now I'm worn out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monthly Anime Ranking - August '08

1. Code Geass R2
2. Allison to Lillia
3. Natsume Yuujinchou*
4. Macross Frontier
5. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu*
6. Sekirei*
7. Soul Eater
8. Golgo 13
9. Itazura Na Kiss
10. Kyoran Kazoku Nikki
11. To Love-ru
12. Koihime Musou*


-xxxHolic Kei (Review Coming Soon)

Stalled projects:

-Wagaya no Oinari-sama
-Nabari no Ou
-Vampire Knight
-Real Drive

I've started a stalled section for series that have been inactive for two months. I see myself dropping 2 and picking up 2 of them sometime in the future. For now however, they're sitting in limbo. I've added 4 new series this month so let's get straight to them.

Natsume Yuujinchou: Really nice series about a high school student who can see spirits. Reminds me a bit of Mushishi but on a lower level and not as serious or epic. I would like to see a bit more of a continuous plotline since its been mostly episodic stories so far. Still Natsume remains a very well-produced and entertaining series, the best of the summer series so far.

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: A cute story about an accomplished female student who befriends a male student who knows her double identity as a closet anime fan. The show is a very tame introduction into otaku culture with visits to Akihabara district and Comiket. The character designs are really nice too, especially Haruka.

Sekirei: A pretty decent harem/magical-girl series. The genre is limited in its appeal and the concept is not very original. The male lead is your typical ordinary, bordering on pathetic, student who somehow becomes the "master" of an impressive group of female "sekirei". Aside from that the story moves along quite nicely and the character designs are simply AWESOME. I would watch it for the character designs alone.

Koihime Musou: A crappy version of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms with a full female recast based on a Japanese game. For some reason, there is no Liu Bei. I wouldn't be surprised if I don't watch another episode of this ever again.

Code Geass R2: Code Geass is at its best right now, preparing us for the season (and it looking like the series) finale. Important characters are dying left and right, plot twists and developments are numerous every episode and always ending on a cliffhanger. If you can only watch one show right now, make it Code Geass. If you can watch two, watch it twice.

Macross Frontier: Frontier has been labouring a bit these last few weeks. The pace has been a bit stagnant, some more unlikeable characters have taken some prominence and some of the main characters have been less featured. I feel that the series probably turned a corner during the last episode and I expect it to get back on track as we approach the ending.

I'm sorry I've been a bit distant these last few weeks but its the summer so get a life. I've been picking up some extra shifts at work and as you all know, this blog is always the first thing to go when I'm shorter on time, waaaaay before I stop watching anime. I'll try doing the xxxholic review in the near future. If you're waiting for my review to make up your mind on whether you are going to watch it, go ahead and watch it. It's a good series.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Monthly Anime Ranking - July '08

1. Code Geass R2
2. Macross Frontier
3. Allison to Lillia
4. xxxHOLIC kei
5. Soul Eater
6. Real Drive
7. Golgo 13
8. Wagaya no Oinari-sama
9. Nabari no Ou
10. Vampire Knight
11. To Love-Ru
12. Kyoran Kazoku Nikki
13. Itazura na Kiss

-Kurenai (9.0/10)
-Library Wars (7.3/10)
-Kanokon (8.4/10)

The first thing that becomes noticeable is that a number of series haven't been updated. All of these are affected by the fact that the fansub group I was following have not released any recent episodes. To be fair, I could have easily switched to another group but the fact that they aren't that great of shows didn't make it urgent. I would say these shows are at a crossroads for both the viewer and the fansub groups that initially starting subbing them. Most probably many groups will drop some of these projects but they each have enough appeal for them to be picked up by another one. For myself, I probably will stop watching themfor a while and most likely stop watching a couple and start watching a couple again. For now, I'll just let them sit in the rankings since I haven't made up my mind yet.

Allison to Lillia keeps impressing me with how enjoyable it is to watch. The series is at a halfway point, switching from Allison and Wilhelm to her daughter Lillia and some guy called Treize (french for thirteen by the way, so it's a pretty crappy name). It'll be interesting to see if the cast change is smooth enough to keep me interested. I'm guessing it will be. Allison to Lillia has an old-school feel to it that has disappeared in recent years. It's definitely refreshing to get a wholesome yet challenging show.

Soul Eater is the biggest loser this week, mostly because I haven't watched a lot of the lesser shows and the other better shows are doing well. Soul Eater had some filler-like episodes (i.e. Excalicur) and that's why it's in the red. It's still an entertaining show and I have no doubts it will rebound fairly quickly.

Other Observations:
-For some reason, I'm enjoying Golgo 13 despite (or maybe because of) its lame macho-ness. I guess that kind of show is ok in low doses.

-Macross has been great, but things are getting a little crazy in terms of plot development so we'll soon see if it lands on it's feet. All signs say it will.

See you next month when we add some new shows to the rankings. Bye-bee!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Kanokon - Completed Review

What is it?

Two spirit girls have the hots for the most average boy in the world.

What's good about it?

Really attractive character designs. I mentionned there are two girls but really, this show is all about Chizuru. The whole show is her endless quest to get into Kouta's pants with various people conveniently (or inconveniently) getting in their (really her) way. She's hot and she uses a lot of creative and funny come-ons.

What's bad about it?

This isn't really deep at all. It's a shamelessly fanservice-oriented series. Story and plot are non-existant and the character development is not that rewarding anyways. And I don't find it cool when she merges into Kouta to become an all-powerful form. Kouta is not cool and giving him ears and superpowers can't possibly fix that. Oh, and using fox spirits is about as original as doing a butler show.

Final Verdict

I honestly really enjoyed Kanokon. I fell for Chizuru despite the fact she was aiming for a pathetically helpless stunt-growth. The show was not deep but it wasn't putting on airs either. As long as it doesn't try to do more than it should and keeps me entertained, I can live with (and actually enjoy) lighter fare. I probably won't watch this again, but then again, I rarely rewatch series. The true test is answering if I would watch a sequel, and in this case, I pretty sure I would.


FYI- I'll probably do something else tonight but here's what's on tap:

-July anime rankings

I'll also start a new feature for reviewing ongoing shows that I have no idea when they will ever end. I will provide you with snapshots of a few good series that I can't review because they just won't end. I'm actually considering reviewing their individual arcs as they progress. This will apply to really old shows like One Piece and Bleach, and more recent ones like Gintama and d. gray-man.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Library Wars - Completed Review

What is it?

The Japanese Government has passed censorship laws giving the power to a conservative arm to make library inspections and decide what books are suitable to the public. After a library's staff is massacred by a right-wing group, a new law is passed giving libraries the authority to arm themselves. Kasahara is an idealist and enthusiastic new recruit to the library Corps' armed division and she hopes to defend her ideals and find her childhood hero.

What's good about it?

Entertaining plot. Good action. A decent mix of unique characters.

What's bad about it?

While the setting makes for entertaining drama, I just couldn't buy into the it because it was too implausible. The logic just wasn't there. I just can't see where the public support for the bad guys(Media Enhancement Commitee) is coming from. The story informs us that even the MEC's soldiers are really just hired guns who don't really care about the ideals of the group, yet the Library Corps are constantly being attacked by the public and the media for not giving into them. The library Corps are basically defending free speech, yet they are usually blamed for the attacks on the libraries. I just don't understand why the public are so wishy-washy on such an obvious choice of policy. I also can't conceive of any government who's solution to censorship concerns is to allow two independent groups to wage battles against each other in the middle of their cities. That's endorsing a policy that's barely an improvement on mob rule.

Final Verdict

Besides the setting, library wars is a pretty entertaining series. The dialogue is a little weak at times, but the story moves fast enough and there's a decent amount of action. I just can't overload the implausibility of the whole situation however, and for that the rating must suffer. This is playing itself as a pseudo-realistic drama, so I have to be able to understand the reasoning behind things.


FYI- I should have my Kanokon review and my July anime ranking up within the week. I'm still working on my summer pickups but I've got some additions I can confirm as of now:

-Mugen no Juunin
-School rumble third term
-Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
-Natsume Yuujinchou

and possibly:

-Yakushiji Ryoko no Kaiki Jikenbo
-World Destruction
-Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora
-Koihime Musou

It's actually shaping up as a potentially great summer lineup, which would be welcome after a sub-par spring. (I'm especially giddy in anticipation of the new school rumble season. Yakumo!) In fact, if there are a lot of interesting series coming out, I may consider dropping some of the lesser spring ones I've been covering up until now. More details to follow. That's all for now. Bye-bee!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Can you guess where this is from?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kurenai - Completed Review

What is it?

Kurenai Shinkuro is a high school student who works as a part-time mediator. In most cases, this involves him resolving issues by physical means. One day, his boss puts a 7 year old girl in his care. The girl, Kuhouin Murasaki, has led a sheltered life and must adjust to living a more modest lifestyle, an opportunity she soon relishes. While she discovers the joys of everyday life, their life together is threatened by the Kuhouin family, for Murasaki is the key to a dark secret of her family, going back generations.

What's good about it?

Great setting and story. Awesome animation with good action scenes. Character designs are voice acting are appropriate and likeable. The dialogue and episode themes are, for the most part, creative and entertaining, especially when it concerns Murasaki, Shinkuro and his roommates. The better character development also involves these characters.

What's bad about it?

Shinkuro falls into the most-used mold of the indecisive and naive hero. Until the last few episodes, he suffers from self-esteem issues and must often get a confidence boost from those around him, like his boss, Benika. The producers may have been a little too eager to demonstrate the depth of their versatility. You get an musical episode, some slice of life drama, some modern social observational discourse, some science-fiction abilities and some martial arts fighting. While most of it is very well done, I can't help but feel the series would have profited from more plot focus, especially since there are only 12 episodes and the initial theme and setting promised a more compelling series. I also wasn't satisfied with the ending. The outcome and dialogue at the end seems irrational and unauthentic.

Final Verdict

Despite its irksome shortcoming, Kurenai remains a hit that was one of the most entertaining and worthy series of the spring anime season. Plot development was thin until the end, with the first three quarters of the series focusing on character development. Since it was equally interesting however, the effect of the lack of pacing is diminished. Kurenai makes a lot of its shortcomings seem lesser by producing worthy alternatives. You can't make a bad series if your mistakes are still above-average.


FYI- The summer season is starting in the next few weeks with some new series debuting, most exciting of which is the third installement of School Rumble!, one of my all-time favorites. If you haven't watched the previous two seasons of School Rumble, nows a perfect time to make yourself familiar with the series before the third season starts. You won't regret it!

I've also got the review for Library Wars and the July anime ranking coming in the next few weeks.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Monthly Anime Ranking - June '08

1. Code Geass R2
2. Macross Frontier*
3. Soul Eater
4. xxxHOLIC kei
5. Allison to Lillia
6. Kurenai
7. Real Drive
8. Wagaya no Oinari-sama
9. Kanokon
10. Nabari no Ou
11. Library Wars
12. Vampire Knight
13. Golgo 13*
14. Kyoran Kazoku Nikki
15. To Love-Ru
16. Itazura na Kiss

A couple of new additions this month:
Macross Frontier: Awesome. To be honest, I only loosely watched previous macross series but this one is the revelation of the season for me. Good mix of mecha fights and love triangle coupled with great character development and story setting. Yoko Kanno returns to supply us with another must-have anime soundtrack, much of which figures prominently in the actual plot. This is the model Gundam series should be trying to follow.

Golgo 13: Golgo 13 is an assassin who always gets his man. I would swear he was a robot if not for his apparent need to create needlessly complicated plots at times to drive the investigators mad. Character development is non-existent since Golgo 13 never says anything unnecessary or emotional (he doesn't have emotions). So much so that we usually see the story from the point of view of the client or target, since they at least can usually considered human. This show is one of those "man who is impressed by how manly another man is" and should be avoided if you can't see the humor in how over-the-top it is.

Since I can't say any series has noticeably improved since last month, I'm withholding the biggest winner award. Most shows at the top of the list have held steady this week while those in the bottom half have mostly worsened, which is to be expected after the novelty of the first few episodes wears off.

Kurenai and Kyouran Kazoku Nikki are my biggest losers for this month. Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, which started off decent enough, has become plain irritating. It's trying to be crazy and creative and wacky but the episodes are very similar and it's not funny. At all.

Kurenai is still a very good show but it just can't seem to meet it's potential. What started off as a dark fighting/slice-of-life series became a light hearted slice-of-life series until recently. Though it still gets high marks for creativity, especially for an ambitious musical episode, I can't help but feel the series is underachieving. Some of that is probably because I don't like how pathetic Shintarou can be at time. He suffers from bouts of depression and self-doubt fairly regularly. There are signs in the last few episodes that that trend may be changing. I hope so because I still really enjoy this series and still think it can develop into something great. All the pieces are there.

Here are other observations for the month:
-After a grandiose and successful opening arc, I was fairly certain Allison to Lillia would suffer a letdown in the following arc. However, Allison held steady with a decent effort in the second arc and I expect a similarly good arc to follow it.

-Library Wars appears to be missing some direction. The initial setting was intriguing enough but library wars seems undecided on where it wants to take it plot-wise. It needs to make a move because character interactions are stagnating and repeating themselves.

That's all for now. I don't really have any reviews on deck so I might not post anything till next month. Maybe I'll write a retro review for something next week. Enjoy your summer ~Mina!~ Bye-bee!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Baccano! - Completed Review

What is it?

A hodgepodge of inter-connecting events and characters weave a tale that mostly spans the years 1930 to 1932 in depression era Chicago. The story mixes fantastic elements like immortality and folk legends with the historical setting of mafia families during the prohibition.

What's good about it?

Baccano! gets an "A" for effort. The first episode delivers some of the ending elements from the start and the story begins to be told mostly in order from there. Still, during the whole series the story shift between events spanning the three years during which the story takes place. I love this kind of creative mapping. The ensemble cast of characters is quite diverse and interesting. The story and setting are great. Great soundtrack.

What's bad about it?

Short at thirteen episodes, a lot of the characters are vastly underdevelopped. The story begins without much explanation which leads to confusion at the start.

Final Verdict

During the opening credits we are reminded of the names of the cast which goes a decent way towards adjusting to the starting pace. After the first few episodes, the pace does slow down to a more conventional pace though this isn't as obvious due to the continuous event shifting. All that being said, Baccano! still gets high marks for creativity and entertainment value. I'm certainly glad I ended up seeing this because there was so little buzz about this series which is quite odd for such a unique product.


FYI- Expect the June anime ranking in the coming week. I've picked up a couple of more shows so look forward to my first impressions on those. They are:

-Macross Frontier

-Golgo 13

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bamboo Blade - Completed Review

What is it?

A high school kendo club, inspired by the arrival of a talented freshman, aims at tournament glory. This is one of those typical "let's sweat our youth away together in a sports club" themed series.

What's good about it?

Good characters and character designs. Well-plotted with good pacing. Animation is above-average. All in all a good production.

What's bad about it?

The whole series was a little too vanilla for me. The jokes were nothing much, the problems they faced were either not that impressive or never really amounted to anything important and the subject matter as a whole didn't really push the enveloppe in terms of intellectual content. By the first couple episodes I was already sick of the whole "DAN-KUN!!" and "MIYA-MIYA!!" thing.

Final Verdict

All the cute characters and decent entertainment value probably won't stop me from forgetting about Bamboo Blade a few years from now. It just doesn't have any really strong points to focus on. Despite that, Bamboo Blade remains a good watch and a decent all-around series.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Monthly Anime Ranking - May '08

1. Code Geass R2
2. Kurenai
3. Soul Eater
4. xxxHOLIC kei
5. Allison to Lillia
6. Real Drive
7. Kanokon
8. Library Wars
9. Kyouran Kazoku Nikki
10. Nabari no Ou
11. Wagaya no Oinari-sama
12. Vampire Knight
13. To Love-Ru
14. Itazura na Kiss

The purpose of the monthly rankings is more to denote trends in terms of quality during the life of a series. It won't necessarily reflect the rating of the completed review. Some shows start or end strongly but I try and look at it as a whole when making the completed review. The monthly review will reflect how the series is faring at the moment. I'll name a biggest winner and biggest loser for the month. This will be determined by my opinion and not necessarily in the number of ranking spots changes. Lastly, I'll make observations about how trends are developing in some series.

FYI- If I have failed to see any(or not enough) episodes for a series since the last month - be it because of a failure to release episodes by fansubbing group or a personal choice on my part- the series will be highlighted in green and it will not change in ranking opinion for that month (it may be passed or pass another in ranking position if I determined a series I did watch has surpassed it during that month or vice versa).

Friday, May 09, 2008

First Impressions - Spring Anime Season (Part 2)

I'm very proud of myself. I've watched at least 3 episodes of every single show on my spring anime list. I usually fall quite short of that. I'll put it down to good show scouting on my part. Oh, and since I'll be premiering my monthly anime ranking soon, I won't bother writing these in any particular order.

Vampire Knight: Vampires and humans attend the same school(unknowingly for the humans), though at different times of the day, in an experiment of unity between the two groups. Anyways, at lot of vampire stuff happens with a bunch of vampire related flashbacks and intrigue surrounding, you guessed it, the vampires!
Early Impressions: Not very entertaining(as of yet) angst-filled vampire tale.

Kyouran Kazoku Nikki: A newly-formed family that includes, among others- a lion, a cyborg, an octopus, a god and an effeminate yakuza- attempt at living a normal family life together. Over-the-top in both story setting and pacing, KKN is shaping up as a good comedy.
Early Impressions: Crazy cast of characters try being normal. Ok so far.

Allison to Lillia: A great action/adventure series starring a pair of childhood friends. One being a rash, decisive pilot and the other being a talented student with a thirst for knowledge. So far it's been a fast paced ride with an old school type production. Good character development too.
Early Impressions: A strong adventure series.

Kurenai: A high school student/professional mediator is given the task of guarding a little girl who was previously leading a sheltered life in a wealthy family. This is probably one of the strongest series of the new season. It has a great setting with interesting and likeable characters. There's also some great action scenes spread in there.
Early Impressions: Great start to a potentially great show.

Wagaya no Oinari-sama: A carefree guardian spirit (a fox spirit again!?!!) to two young brothers protects them from spirits who wish to eat them. A lot of the comedy is that the fox (and the priestess also protecting them) are unfamiliar with regular modern life (the fox having the excuse of having been sealed away for many years). Elemental-themed battles versus spirits take place every episode. Not the strongest series so far. Characters are kind of dull so far.
Early Impressions: An average fantasy/comedy/slice of life show.

Soul eater: A fun series about Death God's minions, who are trying to catch souls in order to become his weapon. The characters are diverse and funny. The artwork is strange and intriguing. The fighting is entertaining and creative. One of the stronger efforts so far.
Early Impressions: An amusing fighting-comedy type series.

Real Drive: A futuristic setting where people use their consciousness to dive into the virtual world. The story is interesting but the pacing is a little slow. The characters are likeable but simplistic. This series reminds me a bit of Ghost in the Shell in that it should be great but is tiresome to watch at times.
Early Impressions: Good futuristic/fantasy show with pacing issues.

Library Wars: Libraries have armed themselves in an effort to fight the risen tide of government and private censorship efforts. Good characters with heavy development. Really more of an urban military type setting then of a librarians with guns versus terrorists type (I wish!). Slow pacing at times. Repetitive plotlines hurt. For example, the main character is taken lightly and force to prove herself and be recognized, only to be taken lightly again the next week and forced to prove herself all over again.
Early Impressions: Decent military/action type series.

Nabari No Ou: A modern-day ninja series revolving around a boy carrying a special power sought after by the big bad ninja clan. The good guy ninjas swarm around him and try to protect him and free him from his fate. The early great comedic success by the main character totally disappears after the first few episodes when the plot turned suddenly more serious. Its hard to say if that's temporary or not. It could go a long way in my enjoyement since I'm so sick of ninjas(samurai are cooler!).
Early Impressions: More ninja fighting.

Well that's it! Man I'm bushed. I feel like the quality of my writing really took a nosedive after the first few reviews but I'm too tired to care about that now. I'll write up the rankings tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

They Are My Noble Masters - Completed Review

What is it?

Incredibly, it's ANOTHER butler themed anime. This time with a brother-sister duo serving a group of 3 "noble" sisters.

What's good about it?

Some really nice character designs. (I've noticed I start a lot of reviews with character designs. It may not seem that important but in these types of shows, that is the harem-comedy genre, a lot of the draw and the comedic impact depends on how likeable the characters are, and the designs have a sizeable impact on that. In fact, I believe I would have been less annoyed with the pink-haired sister(the only one I didn't like) if her design wasn't so lame and unoriginal. Anyways, I digress.) Decent character development for a 13 episode show with more than 13 characters.

What's bad about it?

Besides the amazingly over-used butler theme and the annoyingly long title, TAMNM (forced to anagram) doesn't have many glaring weaknesses. The flipside however, is that it has almost nothing original or creative to offer.

Final Verdict

If your not a hardcore student of anime like myself who feels he has to see most significant series that comes out, you can go without seeing They Are My Noble Masters. It is an ok series with little originality in both concept and material. If you really like the specific genre, that being the butler themed series(there must be some fans since they make so many of them), it might be worth your time.


Clannad - Completed Review

What is it?
A bitter delinquent with a heart of gold decides to put his entire energy into building up a complete stranger's dream, the theater club, and along the way they are constantly distracted by other strangers in need and stop everything to help these newcomers. After their "arc" is completed, that person throws their lot in with the theatre club's efforts.
What's good about it?
High production values coupled with, at times, witty dialogue and funny comic gags. Secondary characters offer a strong showing.
What's bad about it?
I don't care at all for the character designs. The plot is incredibly formulaic and the outcomes are quite predictable. The comedy bits are winners, but the series remains a drama at heart and those parts can be excrutiating. The attempts at romance were so pitiful it was laughable. The two main characters only start going out in the very last episode and they blush and freeze up at the thought of holding hands or even calling their boyfriend/girlfriend by their first name. Grow a spine. No one is like that these days (or have ever been like that).
Final Verdict
Alas, the parents of the main female character can't save this series (I loved the bit about the mother's breadmaking skills) because like the other successful characters, they only have side-roles unlike their daughter who is quasi-unbearably lame. That is more proof of the show failure at drama than of miscasting. Characters unattached to the plot are more likely to be there for comic support, which is where the show does ok. The main characters are forced to get serious to advance the storyline, which leads you to want to strangle them. (It's ok to feel that way). There are better series out there. Don't bother with this one.
FYI- Here's what on tap for the rest of the week:
They are my noble masters! - Completed review
Bamboo Blade - Completed Review
First Impressions - Spring anime Season (Part 2)
Monthly anime ranking - May 2008 *(new segment)
I hope to have at least 3/4 of those done by next week. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

First Impressions - Spring Anime Season (part 1)

It's been a week and I've started watching a handful of the spring season lineup additions. Keep in mind that my computer has had a meltdown and my backup is an older model that can't play files encoded with the H264 codec. To put that in layman's terms, shows that are being released strictly in HD will not be reviewed (or watched) for an indefinite period. Now moving on, let's jump right into the early impressions (which is all these are so let's not read too much into them).

Code Geass:! Easily the best show of the season. I'll eat my hat if this ends up not being the best show of the year (and I love my hat!). I can't remember ever anticipating the next episode of a series week after week like I do with Geass. I'll leave all the spoilers for the formal review in the fall but I'll say that Geass does a fabulous job reconciling the incredibly high-tension cliffhanger ending of last season and starting off the new season at a fabulous pace. The adjustment is done very cleverly using flashbacks to fill in the gaps left over from last season without slowing down the action. The Code Geass franchise is shaping itself up as the series of the decade and if there's only one series you can watch, make it this one!
Early Impressions: GOD STATUS

xxxHOLIC kei: A decent start to a very good show. I just noticed I've never written a formal review of the original xxxHOLIC so I'll give you a quick impression of that since this season is shaping up very similarly. Holic is an entertaining show with nice characters and good stories but with very little to no character development and plot development. After a mystery is solved or a curse is removed, the characters come back the next week and take on their next challenge. We don't learn a lot about the characters and many plot lines go undeveloped like romantic interests or supernatural abilities. xxxHOLIC is a great show that is unwilling to take risks to elevate its product, a common flaw in CLAMP works.
Early Impressions: Great but flawed and unambitious.

Kanokon: A surprisingly good harem that is unapologetic about it's genre. Kanokon features insanely over-the-top amounts of ecchi and fan service. In fact, it's practically all that happens. The character design for our lead female is attrative and fresh. Add in a dash of funny material like the thoughrougly abused onii-chan, the Yuki Nagato-like(from Haruhi Suzumiya) rival character's deadpan deliveries and the classroom comments from the sideline cast and you've got an enjoyable show.
Early Impressions: Rare decent harem series.

To Love-Ru: A definitely lesser ecchi series. It feels like the material is more recycled, the character designs are a knotch lower and the comedy attempts are more hit and miss. To love-ru will need to go more outrageous and do less switching between funny and heartfelt moments.
Early Impressions: A more common, lesser example of the harem/ecchi genre.

Itazura na Kiss: This kind of series irritates me to no end. Girl confesses to jerk-guy. Jerk rejects her. Girl forced to move in with jerk's family. Girl doesn't give up on jerk and uses extorsion, confrontation and tenacity in an attempt to bag the guy. Sound like fun?
This is a romantic comedy that is unfunny with two unlikeable characters. The animation and character designs reek of low-budget and the setting is the furthest from unique. I will probably struggle to make it through this series if I do at all.
Early Impressions: Bad romantic comedy.

I've only watched the first 3 episodes of these series so my judgement is reserved only to them. That's it for now. I'll watch some more and get back to you with more early impressions and reviews for Clannad and Bamboo Blade in the coming weeks. Bye-bee!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

~Early~ Spring Anime Season lineup

This is an early list that is likely to be significantly altered once all the series have begun and have been picked up by fansubbing groups.

-Code Geass R2
-xxxHOLIC kei
-Vampire Knight
-Kyouran Kazoku Nikki???(The only reason I'm considering it is because it has been picked up by the excellent joint fansub group SS-Eclipse)
-To Love-Ru(same reason but picked up by moetaku which did a great job on True Tears
-Allison to Lillia
-Itazura na Kiss
-Wagaya no Oinari-sama
-Soul Eater
-Real Drive
-Library Wars

A lot of these are liable to be dropped for personal reasons (i.e. they suck or are boring me or both) or for production reasons (i.e. no fansub group is releasing it to my satisfaction) or logistic issues (i.e. I have too much on my plate).

I'm hoping my premature feelings are wrong since I haven't watched any of these yet but so far the number of good series this season seems to be alarmingly on the low side. I'm hoping there are quite a few pleasant surprises here and that my ominous impressions are unfounded. If they are bad though, you can expect funny, insulting reviews that are sure to entertain you even if the series don't.

Gundam 00 (Season 1)- Completed Review

What is it?
Come on, you're kidding right? This is a Gundam series.
What's good about it?
Epic storytelling involving the whole world. Big cast of characters. Above-par gundam mecha designs. Well animated. Exciting battle scenes.
What's bad about it?
A lot of the story seems unnecessary and most of the major plot turns happen in the first handful episodes. Some characters (I'm talking about you, Saji and Louise) contribute nothing to the series except context as ordinary people and others are barely developed and if they happen to die, there is no real feeling of impact because of their blandness. When comparing it to the last Gundam series (Seed [Destiny]), the story seems less enthralling and the characters less likeable or memorable. I've just finished watching 00, yet I'm sure I can name more Seed characters off the top of my head.
Final Verdict
I always seem to find Gundam series are bad, yet I continue to watch them, year after year. Even against the gundam standard however, Gundam 00 is not very good. I believe that a major problem is that the focus is more on organisations then the individuals. Despite everything, the series ended on a strong note and there is hope for the second season. Still, I wouldn't go so far as to recommend it. Gundam is a niche series anyways so those likely to watch it aren't going to let this review sway them from watching it. Since it's been split into two seasons, the jury is still out on this one but it's so far shaping up as a forgettable gundam series, which is unfortunate since they certainly are due for a good one.
FYI- I'm sick of writing reviews for the moment so you'll have to wait a week for my Bamboo Blade review.

Hayate no Gotoku! - Completed Review

What is it?
Comedy about a teenage boy who works off a ridiculous debt left to him by his parents by working as a butler for an even more ridiculously wealthy little girl.
What's good about it?
Great comedy packed full of diverse and likeable characters. Many episodes revolve around creative themes and settings. Packed full of clever references to other anime, manga and other copyrighted material. Makes a point of shamelessly providing service shots to fans. Light fare without many continuous plot stories.
What's bad about it?
Nothing really. It's 52 episodes long - absurdly long for solid, thin-plotted successful comedy- so it's understandable that some of the jokes and character reactions get somewhat predictable and repetitive but for the most part Hayate rises above that trap. Admittedly, some weeks were slower and less creative than others, which is always the challenge when your stories are episodic in length and you don't really follow a continuous plot.
Final Verdict
The butler/maid setting has been used to a ridiculously obsurd degree in comedies in the last few years. However, I only hold that against series which are bad. If you're going to make a bad comedy, at least make it different so as to at least have novelty on your side. Hayate no Gotoku! was one of the most-watched series of 2007 and with that success will undoubtably come a whole new slew of maid/butler series in the coming anime seasons. However, I won't hold that against it because Hayate is a funny, accessible and pleasurable watch that I recommend for anyone looking for light-fare comedy. As always in these types of series, general knowledge of modern anime series is a plus for enjoyement purposes but not critical.
FYI- I've got a couple more reviews in my plate( Gundam 00 Season 1 & Bamboo Blade) for the upcoming week and I'm still in the process of picking my spring season lineup.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Kekkaishi - Completed Review

What is it?

The teenage successors to two clans of technique-wielders called "Kekkaishi" spend their nights exterminating demons ("Ayakashi") from the sacred land upon which their school is built on.

What's good about it?

I'll start off by saying I haven't read the Kekkaishi manga so I can't compare the anime production to the original. I tend to think anime series should be based on their own merits anyways so it shouldn't really matter for this review.

The plot is basically one story arc that goes full circle, providing us with a conclusive ending. For the fighting shounen genre this is nothing less than a tour de force. Most of these series feature one of these problems: many arcs of the hero going up after the ultimate vilain, only to have to face an even stronger vilain afterwards(Samurai X, Bleach) or the heroes fight the ultimate vilain over and over again, only to have him survive somehow and return to fight them, sometimes in a different or evolved form(Inuyasha, Dragon Ball). To be fair, those series were all considerably longer than Kekkaishi, but the effect is refreshing nonetheless.

Kekkaishi also has a nice, large cast of characters. The main characters do a fairly good job of rising above the stereotypic mold of characters that is quite common to the genre and offer some surprising depth.

What's bad about it?

Many of the Ayakashi are of the minion variety, quite undistiguishable the ones from the other. The first dozen episodes or so are peppered with filler stories, mostly revolving around other students at their school or friendly ghosts (lame!). I'm not too excited about the whole kekkai technique in general. It seems a bit too defensive to be exciting, though this aspect improves as the series progresses and the characters get better at wielding their powers. The main characters fall into the stereotype trap at times. I've grown weary of the simplistic "I want to protect everyone important to me" and "I don't want to see anyone get hurt" statements.

Final Verdict

Kekkaishi isn't breaking any molds or stepping out of the box. However, those accomplishments aren't the goal of shounen series. Shounen series are about exciting confrontations between likeable heroes and sinister vilains. These series are considered a success if they can provide you with that without containing serious flaws, and under that criteria, Kekkaishi makes the cut. At 52 episodes, Kekkaishi isn't the commitment of other epic shounen series and leaves you relatively satisfied.


FYI- In the coming days I intend to give you the basic outline of my exciting fall lineup. Also, my next review will be the excellent comedy, Hayate no Gotoku!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

True Tears - Completed Review

What is it?

A number of love triangles come together. While the 3 guys each like a different girl, all 3 girls like the same guy.

What's good about it?

Plenty of delicious teenage angst. Well written plot turns and scenarios. Interesting and unique characters coupled to attractive character designs.

What's bad about it?

The pace seemed to slow dramatically in the second half of the series. My biggest gripe is the metaphoric language that seems to used quite a bit. I find this to be a common trend in all Japanese television and movies, but it just seemed forced and not like something these characters would ever say in real life. In case you don't understand what I'm alluding to, it's lines like: "you can fly", "I can't fly", "I want your tears". ****SPOILER WARNING**** Also, I still don't understand how Ando and Shintaro's friend got back together after she dumped him and admitted she never liked him and had a crush on his best friend. That plot branch thinned into nothingness towards the end. They were always secondary characters anyways. At least they can deal with fact that nobody cares about them with each others help. Just a sidenote; Ando was my favorite character design. Hot! ****End of spoiler*****

Wow, I really went off on a tangent there. Let's call it bonus commentary!

Final Verdict

True tears was probably one of the best series in this sparingly quantity-thin winter anime season. The first half of the series was crazy addictive and enjoyable while it sputtered a bit towards the end. Nevertheless, true tears is a great romance series overall and well worth the watch.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rosario to Vampire - Completed Review

What is it?

School harem anime with a twist. The guy is a human in a school for monsters.

What's good about it?

The character designs for the girls are unique and attractive(though the loli character didn't do anything for me). The animation is nice. The school-for-monsters setting was ok.

What's bad about it?

The formula for every episode is very repetitive. The male protaganist is the kind of lead character I hate. Whiny, weak, deceivable and bland. Definitely a notch in the "against" column when analyzing this series. There was some recycled animation for the vampire transformations. How shows still get away with recycled animation in this day and age baffles me.

Final Verdict

The problem with Rosario is that beyond some cute character designs, it has nothing interesting to offer. These harem-schoolife series are a dime a dozen and the setting wasn't enough of a sell to differentiate it from the competition. I predict that 3 years from now Rosario to Vampire will completely be erased from my life, as my brain judges it to be useless.

With all that being said, Rosario's faults aren't that deep and the series remains quite watchable. With a shortage of new winter series, I was comfortable freeing up 20 minutes a week for a few months to a series that isn't breaking any barriers. It's junkfood for an anime addict. The casual fan has better material they haven't seen yet.



The spring anime season is beginning as we speak. While I'm devoting most of my resources to ending series and prospecting future ones, I've already settled on a couple of anticipated sequels and a promising(maybe) new series I'm certain will be covered here in the future.

-XXXholic: Kei (Awesome!)


-Code Geass Season 2 (I can't wait!)

I've also got a few reviews in the works, the next being of True Tears, which was a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cowboy Bebop - ReTrO ReViEw

I'm not going to go with my normal review format for a reason I will make clear shortly. I'll come out and say it straight from the start: Cowboy Bebop is my favorite anime series of all time. Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime series of all time. No anime series will ever top Cowboy Bebop (in my mind). Since simply naming it's strong points would be useless since I would just name every category, I'll just highlight why it is so strong in some of those categories.
Characters: The crew of bounty-hunters on the ship Bebop consists of 4 members (and a dog). They all get a couple of episodes that heavily develop their characters and offer us a glimpse into their past and into their soul. Each of these characters (maybe not Ed) could easily star in an entertaining series revolving around their pre-bebop lives. That's how interesting they are. Amazingly, the same can be said for the characters that only appear in the single episode stories. The series as a whole easily has 30 rainmaker characters. Imagine if every character in a Gundam series were unique, likeable and interesting. Wouldn't that make a huge difference.
The main protagonist, Spike Spiegel, is developed a bit differently. Even though he gets a few more episodes revolving around himself and the characters from his past than the others, information about his past is given in snippets. We are teased with hints and implications and some answers are never fully given, leaving you to fill in the blanks. This only adds to Cowboy Bebop's charm, giving it a Casablanca-like quality in the way Spike, Vicious and Julia can refer and act in accordance with a complicated and heavy past without letting the viewers in on all the details. Not surprisingly, these episodes are also the best and most dramatic episodes of the series.
Music: From the first episode, the quality of the selection of music peppered throughout the drama hits you like a ton of bricks. Yoko Kanno, already an established soundtrack veteran from series like Macross and Escaflowne, supplies Bebop with her best work yet. Though jazz and blues-heavy, the soundtrack runs the gamut from heavy-metal to bubblegum pop. Great collaborations from artists like Mai Yamane(vocals on the OP-ED) contribute to making the anime pinnacle soundtrack. It's the only anime OST that I listen to a regular basis. More important than the quality of the music however, is its appropriateness. The OST works so well with the subject matter and is used so selectively well than you can feel it enhance the drama, and vice-versa. I think that effect is the true measure of its success.
Style: Not usually a criteria in a review, style is the most unique strength of Cowboy Bebop, and most difficult to explain :( More than the obvious cool and calm way most of the main characters act : their witty replies, their clutchness when the pressure is on, and their overall demure; Bebop is crammed full of pop-culture references and influences. You can see Bruce Lee/kung fu influence in the fight choreography, the 40's drama influence in the character interactions and conversations, the sci-fi influence in the dramatic space-action scenes, on top of all the music and writing influences sprinkled and reflected over and over again throughout the series. When I'm debating the virtues of Cowboy Bebop with someone, one of the arguments I like to use to describe it's success is the quality of the ending scene of every episode. The last 30 seconds or so of every episodes is almost always a memorable and fitting ending to the story. It can be a dramatic pause to a contemplating character, or an ironic and clever turn of fortune that leaves its victim bemused but that final scene bring the whole episode together perfectly. Though difficult to explain in words, the reaction is quite palpable when witnessing it for the first (or second, or third) time.
Final Verdict
Every 6 months or so I pick up my Cowboy Bebop DVDs and watch all the episodes over a period of a couple of days. Whenever I'm done, I never fail to have the urge to call up a friend or shoot them an email to pressure them into watching Cowboy Bebop, even to those friends with zero interest in anime (weirdos!). No other anime series has had such an effect on me and I know none other ever will.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seto no Hanayome - Completed Review

What is it?
Romantic Comedy about a high school student who is forced to marry the famous daughter of a mermaid mafia clan, much to the dislike of most of her clan.
What's good about it?
Fast-paced and action-packed comedy with mermaids. What's not to like? Funny and diverse characters, good one-liners and plot twists abound!
What's bad about it?
At times it gets annoying when everyone is screaming. There isn't a lot of character development on a whole. The jokes, especially the slapstick stuff, get repetitive and predictable at times.
Final Verdict
Despite it's shortcomings, Seto no Hanayome remains a highly entertaining series. It's hard to get bored when oneliners and action is thrown at you from every corner. A solid cast with some solid material make for a clearly above-average comedy. ~Masa-san~

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Seirei no Moribito - Completed Review

What is it?
The emperor's son is believed to be the host of a drought-causing spirit. Realizing her son's life is in danger, the empress entrusts the prince to a female bodyguard called Balsa. Balsa vows to protect him and discover the true nature of the spirit.
What's good about it?
Amazing animation, great characters, a solid storyline. The fight scenes are insanely good. A very solid title overall.
What's bad about it?
The pacing is on the slow side. The few filler episodes were hit-and-miss. The amazing fight scenes were far too few and almost all in the first half episodes.
Final Verdict
Seirei no Moribito was a great show. It's more story-heavy than action-heavy which is too bad since the handful of fight scenes are enthralling and the plot can move too slowly in parts. Nevertheless, the story is well plotted and the overall effort comes off as strong.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Genshiken 2 - Completed Review

What is it?
Continuation of the first Genshiken. Read that review if you need info. Besides, I wouldn't suggest you watch this unless you've seen the first season anyways.
What's good about it?
Much of the same it had going in the first season. Likeable characters, lots of drama, interesting subject matter. Some characters take on a larger role now that some of the older members have moved on, notably Ogiue, who I like a lot.
What's bad about it?
Some of the characters that have moved on are those that are the most interesting. Conflict, humour and debating have been drastically reduced with the reduced presence of Madarame, Kusakabe and the old chairman. In what was a complete surprise move to me, Kuchiki is back for the second season and the decision to handover the ice-breaker, joking role to him was a complete mistake.
Final Verdict
In many ways the second season of is more ambitious than the first. It wasn't afraid of moving out of it's confort zone and making drastic changes to the content, the cast and the themes. Of course, when you make so many changes to an already great series the bulk of the changes end up being hit-and-miss, you're more likely to hurt the quality and that was the case here. Despite the increase in output from the more "vanilla" characters, Genshiken 2 remains a good series, if not a lesser one than its predecessor. Fans of the original won't need my endorsement to watch the second season but viewers unfamiliar to Genshiken should definitely watch the first season to decide if the second one will appeal to them.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Myself ;Yourself - Completed Review

What is it?
Story of a high school student who moves back to his hometown, only to find his old friends have changed over the years.
What's good about it?
I have lots of bad to write so I'll just skip this part.
What's bad about it?
Warning- the following will be an unfiltered rant with lots of unconstructed points which will shamelessly toss spoilers around like it's nobody's business. You have been warned.
This thing is all over the place, with no idea what it wants to do. At times, you feel it's just a slice of life drama, especially at the beginning. Towards the end, you swear this is a totally different series, the most serious of mature dramas. I think the best way of describing how bizarre this thing is set is to give a spoiler-filled description of the character's.
Sana: Main character-somehow, this guy is able run from being totally oblivious when it comes to the feelings of others, leading to countless misunderstandings and his confusion when people get pissed at him- to the thoughtfull friend when it comes to guessing there are some letters written to him in a mailbox from 10 years ago and guessing that his friend just tried killing herself. Go figure.
Shuri and Shuusuke: Twins who elope together when they try to be seperated by their abusive, politian, father. When we see them 10 years later, now in their late 20s, they still are walking around holding hands. Creepy.
Hoshino: At first she serves as the third wheel in a love triangle. You know the character that is bringing about conflict between the eventual lovers though she is never a real threat to the two since they're obviously going to end up together. Well, she REALLY wasn't a threat since it turns out she is a not-so-closet lesbian who harbours a crush on a classmate. She also turns out to be a devious sociopath that spreads rumors about this girl because she is jealous of her relationship with her twin brother(that's right the crush is Shuri). After this is revealed, that character dissapears from the plot and that situation is never really resolved.
Aoi: Big-boobed neighbour with the most annoying voice in anime. Ever!
Nanaka: Main heroine-the epitome of a tsundere character.
For some reason there is also an eleven year girl who contributes nothing to the story and if anything, confuses us further about what kind of series this is.
Final Verdict
Despite all the bad stuff I've said about this series, I did find it watchable, especially in the second half. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone but it has a ton of angst and drama and there is a market for those kind of series.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Overdrive - Completed Review

What is it?

The story of a loner, daydreaming, unambitious student who is dragged into the ultra-glamourous world of competitive cycling.

What's good about it?

Some nice supporting characters. An original starting point (Bicycle anime!). Lots of drama and suspense. Not unfunny at times.

What's bad about it?

I hate the main character Shinozaki. He's weak, weird and awkward. He says uncool stuff all the time(I want to ride my bicycle with everyone because everyone is great and I love riding my bicycle with everyone. Totally unappealing. Besides that, the pacing is slow after the race starts, the dialogue is lame when they talk serious and after the novelty of cycling wears off, you're left with the reason you never got into cycling in the first place, it's hella-boring.

Final Verdict

Overdrive never seems to be able to blend comedy and drama effectively, so much so that the jokes sometimes come off as inappropriate for the moment and the attemps at seriousness are just that, attempts. At the end of the day, this series is mundane sports anime that is unique only in it's choice of sports. There's better choices out there.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei - Completed Review

What is it?

The story of a pessimistic teacher with unusual viewpoints regarding society, politics, the economy, technology, art & entertainment, history and the human condition. Together with his equally unusual and unique students, Sensei debates a wide range of topics.

What's good about it?

The more you watch it, the more you realize Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is a creative work of genius. The topics and opinions discussed are truly insightful and are provided a productive twist of humor for our entertainment. These are driven by an almost entirely female cast of cleverly-named characters. The animation style is unique and the character designs are very endearing.

What's bad about it?

References. SZS bombards you with a non-stop array of references, some so obscure as to baffle the most well-read of Japanese pop-culture connaisseurs. Since I consider myself as knowledgeable as the most astute non-japanese anime-watcher and that most references flew over my head, I'm amazed at how exclusive the content was. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that some of these references are inside-jokes between the creative staff of SZS that only they could fully understand.

Final Verdict

Even when I don't get the references, I can feel that the joke was a funny one, adding to my frustration at not understanding it. Despite my limited comprehension, I was able to appreciate the creative way topics were broached and handled. Nevertheless, there were too many missed references for me to be able to consider SZS the pinnacle of greatness I would no doubt qualify it as if it were more accessible.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Minami-ke - Completed Review

What is it?

Minami-ke is the story of the three Minami sisters who live alone. For some reason, we never know exactly why they live together, since their parents are never mentionned. Since they don't seem to mind though, there's no reason to let it bother us.

The Minami sisters each have their own unique personalities, which is what moves the story along.

What's good about it?

The main characters really drive this show, especially kana and Chiaki. A lot of the series is just the two of them going at it with each other. The style is very reminiscent to Lucky Star, minus all the otaku content. You can easily draw comparisons between Kana and Konata, though they do have their dissimilarities. Minami-ke beats Lucky Star hands down in the supportive cast category, both in terms quantity and quality. The emo-dillusional loverboy Hosaka, the cross-dressing, onee-san loving shota character, the popular athlete whose crush causes him misunderstandings and stress galore are all appreciated characters.

What's bad about it?

The only downside to 4-panel manga style of anime series is that the reactions, jokes, themes tend to become repetitive and somewhat predictable. However, I found Minami-ke evades this trap better than most in the genre by mostly staying fresh in regards to material.

Final Verdict

You all know I live for these kinds of anime series. When I'm watching series like Lucky Star, Pani Poni Dash, Cromartie High, School Rumble and Azumanga Daioh, I find myself quite willing to ignore minor flaws purely because of the enjoyment factor they provide, and Minami-ke is no exception to that. I was also impressed that Minami-ke made a notably better job that Lucky Star at staying fresh and avoiding repetitiveness(though I'm willing to concede that it being half as long in terms of episodes might help its cause). I'm very eager to see if this trend continues in Minami-ke Okawari, but for some reason I'm not worried it won't.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Anime Roundup - February '08

Bonjour fellow anime-lovers,

I'm finally getting back into my anime watching routines. I'm back up to date with Gundam OO, Bamboo Blade, Clannad, Shion no Ou. Here are my impressions on where they stand up to now.

Gundam 00: No points for originality due to the too familiar setting, characters and themes but 00 is the most polished and decent Gundam series in recent memory(easily better than Seed destiny).

Bamboo Blade: Now that we've past the halfway point, I find Dan-kun/Miya-Miya have really lost their original freshness though the creators still insist on insisting on their disfunctionality. Luckily, the rest of the cast is great and this series is quite enjoyable. Tamaki exudes MOE!

Clannad: The arcs are hit and miss but this series is still a good production. It's from the same creator as Kanon and Sola, and it shows! So far I'd rate it between the two. (If you don't know what that means, dig through my archives for those reviews.)

Shion No Ou: I suppose this is as fun as a show about Shogi players can get. It's okay.

Also, I've finished a few series that you can expect reviews for in the near future. Those being Genshiken Season 2 and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I've also selected the possible series I'll be watching from the Winter Anime Season. Keep in mind this is a short list since the winter and summer new series are traditionally not as significant as their fall in spring counterparts. They are generally 12 or 13 episodes long, taking up the slots of other 12/13 episode series from the fall/spring that have just ended. Here they are:

-Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
-Major Season 4
-They are my Noble Masters
-Rosario to Vampire

As you can notice these fall in to distinct categories. The first two being sequels, and the last two being light fare/harem/comedies.

If I'm bored I might pick up these two:

Spice and Wolf
Minami-ke Okawari (I'd have to watch Minami-ke first, which I've only begun downloading.)

That's all for now, keep watching your anime everyone! Bye-Bee!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Prince of Tennis - ReTrO ReVieW

If you were wondering what I've been doing for the last month or so, here's your answer. I rewatched all 178 episodes of POT. For the record, this review is limited to the anime series. It does not include the National Championship OVAs as they are still not completed.

What is it?
Sports-themed anime following the trials and tribulations of a Japanese middle-school tennis club's quest towards qualifing for the National Championship.
What's good about it?
The diversity of characters is the strength of PuriTeni. The opponents are a mixed bag, which adds to the strategic battles that unfold.
What's bad about it?
The filler episodes are hell. There's a lot of recycled animation. The matches are too long. The moves are not realistic. In real life, having a strong backhand is more important that being able to perform the gimmicky moves that are on display.
Final Verdict
It's hard to say exactly what the appeal of Prince of Tennis is. There are a lot of obvious flaws and the good points are hard to put into words. Still, it remains an addictive experience. It must have something going for it to have me watch all 178 of its episodes...Twice!
FYI-If you're curious about the OVAs, I have watched the first part of it (13 episodes) and it is clearly superior to the regular episodes. All the matches last one episode and the action is more fast-paced.

Ef ~ A Tale of Memories - Completed Review

I'm finally getting back into my backlog of overdue anime. My first move was to watch the final episodes of Ef-A Tale of Memories.

What is it?

It's kind of hard to pinpoint a genre. If I had to name it, I would call it a fantasy-drama romance with some philosophical tendencies. The story chronicles two separate stories. One about a young manga writer/high-school student who is caught in a love triangle with a childhood friend with a onii-chan complex and a qwirky delinquant with some deep-seeded issues. The second story revolves around a high-school student who falls for a girl that can't remember anything that happened 12 hours ago, and thus, kind of makes their coming together somewhat of a challenge. It kind of reminded of the premise of the mediocre romantic comedy 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, except it wasn't funny. Oh wait...they are the same!

What's good about it?

My intro is a little misleading in that the story is not as formulaic as I make it seem. The characters are relatively deep and the plot is pretty engaging. The ending(last third of the series or so), so often a weak-point in anime, is the strength of this title. Despite it being a tad predictable, it was mostly satisfying, which is what's most important. Besides that, animation is great, the shooting is creative and the character designs are pleasant.

What's bad about it?

This anime isn't very original. It's a style very reminiscent of other series, like AIR. The philosophical parts, though short, were boring.

Final Verdict

If you can dismiss the fact that Ef isn't reinventing the wheel, it's viewing experience is generally quite enjoyable. It being somewhat forgettable doesn't mean you should skip over it. It remains a well-produced product that keeps you engaged until the end.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Anime Roundup - New Year's Edition

Hello fellow anime-lovers, I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year. You may remember I said last year that 2007 would be a forgettable year, and I think it generally was. I further predict that 2008 will be more of a hit-and-miss year and stand by my earlier prediction that 2009 will be the money year. You heard it here first!

Enough with the joking. I honestly don't have much to report, even though I haven't reported in a while. I've pretty much taken a whole month off watching any anime, a few retro series aside. (I'll review those in the next few weeks BTW). I intend to get back in the game soon. The winter anime season has begun. I intend to pick up some series, though I have no idea which at the moment since I haven't researched them at all. The only one I can guarantee is the new season (the fourth?) of Major, the baseball themed franchise. I'll let you know about them as I pick them up.

In fansubbing news, it seems that Dattebayo, the biggest group out there, has restarted subbing their signature series, Bleach and Naruto. The cause of the stop was a protest against their releases being uploaded to sites like YouTube. It'll be interesting to see how big of a problem those streaming sites become for the future of anime fansubbing. In unrelated news, the very enjoyable One Piece filler arc has concluded and the newest arc has begun.

That's it for now, stay tuned! Bye-bee!