13 of 13 episodes seen
I really did not pay attention to the music of this series. I did watch the anime in English audio and I must give credit to the actors, they were pretty good even if the script was just proper shit. Lucy Christian is pretty much good at everything and I especially appreciated Aaron Dismuke's voice, maybe because you just don't hear too many authentic teenage male voices in anime.
Nothing earth-shattering about the art here at least not for me. Maybe for teenage boys and horny otaku. I can't remember anything about the places in the anime... Probably because they were just flat and boring or maybe because the art is more focused on the characters, monsters and fighting scenes. And even something about that annoyed me... like they plagiarized the fighting scenes from Naruto. Didn't that water fight scene between Makina and Hokuto seem eerily similar to the water fight between Naruto and Sasuke? It's the things like that through out the series that got on my nerves. Not just being simply unoriginal but almost seeming to copy bits of successful anime.
The story is a very basic one, demons exist and there are those that must kill these demons. Nothing supremely new here. Once again I'm a bit underwhelmed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that somewhere, some dude (erm company) said "Hmmm, I need to make a story about hot chicks fighting in skimpy clothes...let's build around that idea!" I say this again because the obvious questions arise "Why HIME?" Why only girls do battle against the shikabane? Clearly there are male Shikabane, surely the same arrangement can be made. There was some flimsy answer provided, one that they (the creators) easily punched holes thru and contradicted themselves with because there is no genuine interest in cultivating a genuine answer much less perpetuate story integrity. The only real focus is about having big-breasted school girls fight in skimpy clothing and watch it get ripped up. Let's keep it real. Let's keep it 100. I'm actually surprised no one busted out with tentacle monsters.
OK so with the obvious aside, the next logical question is; Is there a real story there, Is Shikabane Hime really worth watching? The answer to that is: meh! To be fair, there is a story there but as far as worth watching... well no. I've seen better and have been entertained by similar and better told stories: Kite, Gunslinger Girl, Mai-HIME, Blood+, just to name a few. The fact they flip-flopped between comedy and seriousness was tiresome. And then the fact that Shikabane Hime has no overall message or theme, which is vital to any great story was also bothersome. You can feel them making it up as they go along, working with just the basic concepts but never fully fleshing it out. Just generic storytelling at best with lots of very large breasts, Is the story about revenge?... sorta, with lots of very large breasts. Is the story about love? again... sorta, with lots of very large breasts! But like I said the story dances around vague concepts and notions, just choosing a "paint by numbers" approach to storytelling; Let's have a character die here, let's have the sauna scene there. But you don't ever really find yourself crying over any death or being interested in any cartoon titties.
Shikabane Hime definitely did not create any revolutionary characters here. It's all pretty much your run of the mill characters, monks & big boobed fighter women all possessing your standard anime stereotypes: big boobed nice girl, big boobed mean girl, big titty ninja chick with toothy fang and cat ears, angry chick with pig tails & ribbons, Loli-type, But it's the so called doctor female with half a white labcoat but all the titties that took the cake...I just wanted her to stab herself in the boob with one of those ninja knives. Who fights with sharp weapons half naked? The monks are just accessories. Everyone just bored me and I just kept wishing they all died.
I definitely give this show as a score of 3. It's lucky to even get that score, because normally anything lower than a 4, I would just delete it and move on to the next title.
22 of 22 episodes seen
Let's start with the music first. I didn't like the first OP, Kuchizuke, I dunno what about it got on my nerves, maybe the howling/haunting male vocals or the fact that it fell between rock and pop. The howling voice does suit the overall creepiness of the series... but it just was not my cuppa tea. Strangely enough, I loved the second ED theme, Gekka Reijin, which is by the same band... with the same howling/haunting male voice but music and beats sounded smoother and the guitar sounded sexier. Can't say I felt the same way about the first ED, Walk no Yakusoku, it's not a particularly bad song, but this singer's voice got on my nerves a little bit as well. However, I really liked the 2nd OP theme Calendula Requiem, I like upbeat songs and liked the speed of the words.
I watched this series twice, once in Japanese and the other in English... either way is fine. I suppose, but I don't particularly feel the need to score Japanese audio that much considering people seem to generally like that more than English dubs, personally I will always pick English dubs because I prefer to not have to read subtitles. The English dub was
really good fit Shiki.
The art for this series is pretty nice... It's a mixture of quirky and childish character designs with the set designs being far more detailed and sophisticated. The character designs are definitely of the shounen variety: thick outlines, fierce eyebrows, funky hairstyles and a bright, solid colour palette is used. The real art is shown thru the various settings and backgrounds: walls have visible imperfections and textures, furnishings look believable, the woods look dark and foreboding. What I really appreciated was that we were taken everywhere thru the village, some homes were more modest than others, some were extravagant, the doctor's clinic, the gazebo, the shrine, etc. so many shows would have taken a lazier approach and not have made these settings as detailed. I will say however that the animation was pretty standard, considering this wasn't a type of show that had complex battle scenes then we can forgive that much. The "camera" pans, 360 rotations and semi-rotations used for dramatic effects were smooth enough.
Shiki starts out with the story of Megumi, your typical kind of frilly teenage girl with a sour attitude--we all know the type! She moans on and on about being stuck in some hick town, completely devoid of any sophistication or panache... we can't blame her though, I know I'd be the same. Anyway, her bitchiness aside, she develops a little crush for the main character, Natsuno, then she becomes a little stalker, then dies in some freakish yet mysterious manner. Her death coincides with the rash of other mysterious deaths occurring in the village, and that's all I can really say about that without going into spoiler territory. Using "mysterious deaths" as an opener for an anime isn't new or rare but at the very least it serves it's purpose by making things very interesting right away. You will immediately have some sort of interest to find out what's wrong with that town... and that's when the narration can take it's time to slowly peel away the layers to reveal the mystery. I thought the pacing was really great, it was never slow and boring, but it never rushed into big excitement right away either, it was a well controlled and deliberate on a steady climb to a big finish... and it wasn't predictable-Another big plus in my book! Some episodes definitely toyed with your emotions, such as episode 14.
the character designs aren't too shabby, they're drawn quite attractively as far as general face and body shape is concerned... which is always a big plus in my book (who wants to look at ugly people?) But there were some minor niggles that worked their way under my skin. Let's talk about some of the hairstyles, some of them looked about as wild, hard and as immovable as tree bark...especially that little devil-child Sunako. I know according to Twilight, today's vampire likes to play around with a little mousse, maybe some hair wax, but her shit was just straight up ridiculous! Same goes for the nurse, Ritsuko, as much as I liked her character, that hair was silly. it was as if some green rattlesnake bit her on the back of the skull and hung there for all eternity. Then we had some chin problems, chins that ended in a very sharp point, a style I haven't seen since the 90s. And possibly the weirdest, most "perplexingly" annoying aspect of their character designs were the eyes... no I'm not talking about the black pupil-less eyes, even though those were creepy as fuck. No I'm talking about the fact that they drew eyelids above eyelashes on everyone. Really??? was this intentional or did someone fail Anatomy and Character Design 101? Eyelashes are at the end of eyelids, so why it's it that when these people lower their lids halfway, it also conceals their eyelashes? that's virtually impossible unless their eyelashes are tucked inwards and scraping their eyeballs. Also the monk's irises are too large! All that being said, these imperfections or designs don't bother me too tremendously and do not detract from enjoying the story.
There is a nice mix of characters in this series. You have young people, old people and everyone in between, each with varying personalities and stations within this small hick village. They were all drawn with somewhat realistic proportions and attributes, we didn't have freakishly busty 13-year olds or well fit looking old men. I particularly enjoy this diverse type of ensemble, because I believe the more diverse the cast, the richer the story will be. And this cast is pretty developed... well, at least as developed as 26 episodes can allow.
The story centres around three central characters: a stubborn gruff doctor, a pensive monk and a brooding teenager. These are the most fully realised characters with completed backgrounds and the narrative shifts from one perspective to the other. This is definitely a character driven series, which is probably part of the reason why I like it so much. Because besides these three central characters I mentioned before: Dr. Toshio Ozaki, Seishin Muroi and Natsuno Yuuki, almost every person in the town is given some kind of past or history no matter how inconsequential they are. You get to know these people personally, know their family, their story, empathise and feel their pain, their loss... even some of the so-called "bad guys." Which I especially liked! Nowadays, simply saying bad guys are just bad because they are, is not good enough. A good story goes beyond that, we need to ask; why are they bad? And are they really bad in the first place? Just because they are vampires, does that make them inherently evil? Shiki explores this really well.
I gave this show a "9" because I saw something different about this anime. Vampires attacking a town isn't exactly a new concept here, but perhaps I appreciated this interpretation of the vampire... a more human-like vampire, ones with feelings and regret. Not feelings to the point of pure sappiness like Twilight but more along the same vein like "Interview with a Vampire" where vampires have their own personalities and behaviours... yet still have the obligations that come along with being a vampire. I also gave it a "9" because there are fewer anime clichés in this one, no high-schools, no unnecessary guns or explosions, no young grinning shonen with some big sword or robot saving the world...one power up at a time, no love polygons or dramatic death scene where someone screams "nnnnnoooooooo or akiraaaaaaa" for seven minutes. This was a proper story with a beginning, middle and a heck of an ending! Definitely worth the watch.
24 of 24 episodes seen
Animation The art and animation is quite standard, but with such a sucky story who cares? I'd rather not see it.
Sound The music was alright, but again I was just so disgusted by the series, I want nothing to do with it. Maybe someday when I hear it on the anime radio and I can appreciate it without remembering the sucky anime.
Story & Characters: What story? There isn't any! Some spiky-haired generic looking boy, who's supposed to be “simple” because they always want to be simple. Goes around punching people because his arm has the power to nullify all other powers. He meets some airhead nun-wannabe who's supposed to have all of these taboo magic codes embedded in her brain. If this was the true plot or the central story I would have been OK with it, but it isn't. This story gets forgotten about and it becomes a story about some girl and 20000 clone sisters, no wait then it becomes a story about some midget clone and some bad guy that turns good, no wait, then it's about some seemingly black chic throwing mud spells at people [which to me seemed kinda racist]. Then of course obligatory beach scenes and hot springs scenes. Not one piece of the story is original. It takes EVERY formula and EVERY cliché from other anime shows that has worked before and made some kind of mutant patchwork of fetishes then tried to pass it off as a series. And everyone seeing the bits that they liked from other anime shows will instantly like this show. What a rotten gimmick. There's no reason for a school setting except people like school settings, but it might as well have been countries. The English Purist Church was unnecessary, except they had the desire to throw something Anglo in there, because once again there's a fetish market [within the Japanese community] for something Anglo. Index is no nun, she doesn't act like one, she's either acting like a robot or a brat. The flimsy reason about magic empowering robes to get her walking around in a nun's habit is for fetish reasons. One of the most annoying things about this series is damn talking all the time: the villain whinges on about the bitterness of their existences and why they are hanging on to their grudges, the hero with his stupid canned one-liners of typical shonen fare. And of course someone is supposed to die...and of course it has to be in the most noble and self-sacrificing way, except TA-DAAAA! THEY NEVER FUCKING DIE, DO THEY?
Value yay, titties and magic and fighting in school, with nuns, kittens and even more titties awesome.......................NOT!
1 of 1 episodes seen
VISUALS: This is top of the line stuff. I watched this in 720p HD and the art was absolutely beautiful. I think what I liked about this series was that it was visually very dark, which matched the overall tone of the story. When a story, whether it be a TV show or film or anime series is dark, it tends to be much more serious...unless it's something by Tim Burton, and then it's comedic. But from the first few moments of watching this, I knew it would be good because it was dark. The buildings looked grimy, the sky was grey or midnight blue sometimes even black as pitch, the street lights and the hallways were dimly illuminated, as a matter of fact, this series was very good at illuminations and the appropriate amount of soft glows, that on scene with the police car driving on the dark road with the lights flashing looked very believable, not cartoonish. It all still remained a work of anime but yet the serious realism of a film, very similar to how Ghost in the Shell pulled it off. If you like anime that has a more serious, mature look and feel then you will enjoy this one.
No corners were taken with the animation either, the fight scenes were all out spectacular and definitely the highlight of the series. Every detail was drawn carefully, movements were very fluid, I especially loved the uses of angles, 360-rotations, perspective, slo-mo and blur effects. Whenever they flipped and rolled during the fights it was breathtaking, it was like....wow!
AUDIO: The music of this series was amazing as well, I think only the 7th series had an OP, the rest did not but the ED themes were really good. However, it was the music of the fight scenes that really stole the show for me. It made the battles even more epic; it was glamorous, it was dramatic, it totally fit the moment and made the fights seem more like a dance of death. There was only the Japanese dub available, I kinda wished there was an English dub for this and they should use the same cast as Ghost in the Shell. If there were an English dub I could enjoy the visuals even more without having to glance at the bottom to read subtitles, but that being said the Japanese dub cast were really good. No one had an annoying voice.
STORY: Kara no Kyokai, basically centres this one woman Shiki Ryougi, and her ability to see death...or rather, she can see the lines of death connected to all living things. We see her struggle with her inner demons: conflicting desires, isolation, loneliness, the burden of carrying such a frightening power and it's insatiable desire to kill all things. The story is told non-sequentially, which I thought was absolutely brilliant because we see the action first but then we are also given the reasons why those actions were taken and why the more difficult paths were chosen. The story is also a supernatural mystery, with seemingly random and mysterious murders committed by these truly psychopathic villains, it's not a traditional mystery where you have to figure out who is the killer, this is more of a mystery where you have some serious doubts about the protagonist, Shiki, and her mental state; Is she a killer or not? I really enjoy this aspect because it adds another layer [a psychological one]to the already greatness of this series, so now you can enjoy this series visually, emotionally and intellectually.
CHARACTERS: The central cast of characters for this series is a small one but the dynamics between each of them is brilliant. We have Shiki, the main character, strong, quiet, conflicted and very deadly. We have Mikiya Kokutou, the male lead character, he's very smart, kind and compassionate, not overbearingly masculine but yet provides a very strong and supportive role for Shiki. He's willing to have her take the lead on many things because he is all to aware of how much of a regular human he is, he doesn't try to get in the way to prove how special and heroic he can be and that makes him all the more special. He knows his strengths, his intelligence, and he applies that through his investigative research which is invaluable to the team. He also has another secondary and extremely redeemable quality, which is the fact that he is the team's moral compass, the only one not willing to just kill someone and skip off into the sunset happy or with indifference.
And then we have Aozaki Touko, the boss-lady, the leader of the trio and also somewhat surrogate mother for both Shiki and Mikiya. Aozaki is the very relaxed, chilled out brains behind the operation. Very shrewd and very well connected, she has her fingers in everything and every project. She can figure things out very quickly and anticipate their outcomes [very similar to myself—not to brag or anything]. But for all that smartness, she can be pretty lax and irresponsible at times [such as impulse buys and then forgetting to pay her employees], she also has some maternal qualities always looking out for [and patching up] both Shiki and Mikiya.
There are some nice supporting cast as well who fulfilled their roles nicely and all the crazy villains who each had their own stories and individual suffering which made it all very credible even if they were flying 20 feet in the air. The only character, I didn't care too much for was Azaka, Mikiya's younger sister, who didn't fit the overall dark and serious tone of the series. She was a bit too high-strung and comedic for my taste...and the semi-incest thing doesn't fit. It felt contrived and thrown in for some kind of “moe” factor. If she were more serious I would have liked her, but as it stands her role wasn't very vital and I'm glad her appearance was very limited.
VERDICT: Watch it! For all the bitching and moaning I do about the downgrading of anime lately, this is a beacon of hope to remind us not all anime is goofy, chibi-humour, slapstick, predictable, magic mecha, testosterone-rage shounen or high-school fluff. There is life and action outside of a high-school setting, it can be exciting, it can be serious and most importantly it can still be “adult-themed” and not be hentai. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
VISUALS: I.G. Definitely did not disappoint on the art and animation. They rarely do. Very good battle scenes, complex movements, dramatic slow-motion scenes all packaged nice and neat. The desert looks beautiful with it's infinite sand dunes, fine grains of sands slipping through fingers, lightly dusting everything it touches: clothes, boots, war-mecha...and it certainly seemed hot there. The castle interiors looked large and spacious, definitely Anglo inspired...once again [gag, eye-rolls!!! Would be nice for an anime to TRY and BE inspired by other cultures for once, how about Turkish, Moroccan, Greek?? Anything from Africa??] Sighs, geez, either way, the art was nice for what it was.
AUDIO: The OP theme was pretty grand and majestic sounding. It's the type of music you hear for films and anime that have a great story to tell, mostly the types that have been adapted from novels. It kind of reminded me of the theme from Lodoss War, that same kind of majestic “once upon a time” feeling. It definitely, encouraged me to think "yeah this story is gonna be great!" Big letdown. The ED theme was forgettable. I watched it in Japanese dub, typical shounen acting and screaming....bored, now. NEXT!
STORY: I'll tell you what's wrong with the story, it's unoriginal and completely uninspiring. The story is centred around several battles within a war for natural resources, namely quartz. Fine, I'm OK with that, I love politics, military and tactics, but this series had little of that. It was about the mecha and the battles, making the true characters of this series are the mecha....and that's why I got bored and lost interest. I'm not opposed to mecha-themed anime, per se, [loved GUNDAM, loved MACROSS] however those stories contained a solid foundation of human interaction and drama. With Broken Blade, human interaction is purely incidental, merely used only to fill the spaces between the combat scenes--where the true dramatic elements reside.
You can't create REAL drama from combat scenes only the illusion of drama with screaming, rage faces and blood drippings but you don't get the great drama that hits you in the gut because there is no character development. All the great war films and anime were splendid because time was spent fleshing out credible characters we can become attached to...no one beyond the 3 or 4 central figures has a solid back story. We only get to know who is related to whom then maybe there is some minimal interest by proxy: maybe they have a kid, maybe they were war-orphans, maybe they were slightly insane but there is no why or how they got that way. How did Sasuke [yes I know his name isn't Sasuke but these characters were so generic it's irrelevant] wind up on the opposing team? Why did Psycho-man turn against his comrades? What did he say to Naruto [yes I know it's not his name too] before going down in a blaze of glory? And there are many more questions that could have been answered were time spent more on that than the battle scenes.
CHARACTERS: OMG! If I see another blonde haired, blue-eyed lead character....I'm gonna hurl! Whatever happened to the old days when anime characters looked purely fictional with pink and green hair and all different color eyes? When did they start this raging trend to look like Hitler's army? If we're gonna stick to realistic human colour schemes, how about some black/blue, black/brown, brown/brown, red/brown...I'd even settle for blond/brown. But please, please, PLEEEEAAAASE! Stop with the blondes especially blonde/blue combos! I honestly couldn't even get into the characters because as soon as I saw blonde, I tuned out. I saw the glaring lack of originality and just tuned out. I saw Naruto, jumping into a mecha that of course ONLY HE can magically operate and I saw Sasuke on the opposing team, genius though he is, he's still misguided and he's still brooding as usual. And then some other equally boring archetypes thrown in the mix: Big boobs, gentle giant, midget loli-warrior, the over-plotter who doubles as the narrator to help the viewer follow along, crazies who get boners from warfare and killing. Now bake at 380 for six hours for the typical anime recipe, Ting! Boring! NEEEEEXT!
VERDICT: It's was a mediocre unoriginal story with nice art. It's pretty obvious this anime has only mecha-fanservice and battles scenes in mind and if that your cuppa tea, then have at it you'll be thrilled. But for those of us who've seen all that and are now looking for a bit more substance, forget it....you'll go hungry! You're better off with Escaflowne, they did already and MUCH better. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
VISUALS: I really can't complain about the art. I watched it in HD 720 and it looked really great. A lot of detail went into the settings; the dolls in the doll museum looked lovely, their hair very silky and fine, their skin smooth and white. Reds looked velvety and lush. A lot of nice outside scenes as well; crisp colours and believable textures. The animation was smooth and modern techniques were used, the CG wasn't obvious and nicely blended with the rest of the artwork.
AUDIO: I love ALI Project and all that they do but using them for the opening song wasn't the right choice for such a supposedly horror series. Some of the notes and tones do sound a bit halloween-ish but it still didn't mesh well for a horror/slasher series. Strangely enough I did think the ED Theme fit the series even though that was more of a melancholy song that scary. I watched the series in Japanese dub....no complaints, and none of the sound effects were scary.
STORY: The story was deffo a mystery more than anything else but instead of it being a “who done it?” it's more of a “who is it?” There is absolutely no credibility to this series at all, and that's because the story was a cliched trainwreck. Sure it starts out nice and slow—new kid in town, goes now new school. It later builds a nice foundation of mystery and suspense—weird behaviour from classmates, intriguing urban legends. Then you GASP: Shocking Death, first student dies in freak accident! Bloody! Horrific! And it's all shit from there! The behaviour and logic is unreasonable, if the urban legend has been going on for as long as they said it was going on...then what sane parent would send their kid to that school? Because not only do you run the risk of that poor kid in that class dying in some horrifyingly funny death, but you as a parent could die or your other children as their siblings could die, etc. I also found it ridiculous the reach of this so-called curse and how it attached itself to a specific classroom....yet it spans the whole town? why not demolish the classroom? Or keep assigning students to that classroom? Or better yet why keep that fucking old ass desk? And why is the faculty participating in this farce? Why is there not a Parent/Teacher conference about this? WTF is a countermeasures task force??? These people all seem to recover way to quickly from all these freaky deaths and that final scene with the hotel? With all that shit going down in that hotel, you have time to leisurely stroll about and politely knock on doors? WHO DA FUCK DOES THAT? And why doesn't such a big ass building have fire alarms or sprinklers? The deaths were hilarious, they were better than the deaths from the Final Destination series.
CHARACTERS: Nicely drawn characters, that's it. They were completely undeveloped, one-dimensional and stereotypical: Big-breasts, brainy chick, bitchy chick [tsundere], robotic monotone girl, air-head guy, meek guy, loud affable jock-type, etc.., then they each die a gruesome death.
VERDICT: Watch the series, it's great for a laugh, if for nothing else.
12 of 12 episodes seen
I think the art is amazing in this short series, many times I found myself rewinding and looking at stuff and going “WOW!” Everything looked clean and very crisp and a lot of detail was given to many inanimate objects that lent credibility to the setting, for example, the appearance of the books and magazines in the book stores or library. A lot of consideration went into them having their own unique cover art designs and typeface...they didn't just make books a generic colour or they all had the same font. I dunno if it's because I watched in HD but I was so very impressed by just how detailed everything looked!! Especially in episode 6: the trains, the bridge and the underpass, the breath coming fron their mouths as they're speaking, and so on.
There's also brilliant uses of lighting and shadow, angles and perspective, from wide shots to close-knit and cramped that really made you feel like you were a part of the action and emphasized dramatic moments. Personally I liked the thick ink lines around the characters, they were a pretty good marker about how tense or how comedic a scene was, and the more comedic or stronger the emotions were, the thicker the lines got which is way better than constantly going into CHIBI-MODE. The animation was smooth, top of the line stuff! Back to episode 6 again and the way the "camera" view bounced as Iku and Mikihisa [and us the viewers as well] were looking out the rear window at the pursuing car. Little details like that impress me but then I expected no less from Studio IG.
The sound was pretty standard to me. Nothing was terrible but nothing evoked any type of strong feeling from me. I watched the show in Japanese and so naturally I expect nothing to go wrong with it but since I don't speak Japanese...who can say? The OP and ED themes are pretty much your standard guitar pop songs you hear in most shonen anime.
Another BIG selling point for me is the story! I love, loVE, LOVE an original story!!! No, wars are not original per se, but this one is because it's a civil war about books! I don't know much about the Japanese political system, but I guess it would be something akin to the “Federal” government putting a ban on books and being able to barge in and confiscate mass quantities of printed works regardless of whether they had educational or literary value or not. However due to a tragic event at one library where 12 people were killed, the government on the “State” or city level felt they could no longer tolerate things as they are and so they've armed their libraries in defence of "federal" intrusion...at least that's how I'm able to process it.
Library War isn't totally about this, it's about this one girl Iku Kasahara and her desire to defend these book stores and libraries and fight censorship, which connects squarely with the activist within me. But it isn't all heavy doom-and-gloom stuff, this is actually a funny series that reminds me very much of PlanetES, the way it kind of mixes the humour with the tenser moments. I know for some people it might not make sense for there to be war, combat, romance and comedy...but really this isn't new to anime for example Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo both have mixed fighting and tense moments with comedy. Full Metal Panic had romance amid all the gunfire and bloodshed....and a whole bunch of comedy!! So there should be no reason why a person can't process this anime in the same way.
From what I understand, this anime is based off of a series of novels and as an avid reader myself, I can tell you nothing surpasses the level of depth and details a book can provide. Yet this anime does give it a good try though by capturing a lot of what the protagonist, Iku, was thinking and feeling. You will laugh at the funny parts and be anxious at the serious parts and that's what a good story is supposed to have you do.
I do feel that there wasn't enough time to tell the whole story and some elements were either left open-ended or unexplored....and I do have to take points off of that, but overall this was an original and intelligent story and the anime captures that well.
With only 12 episodes [and a special OVA] to work with, there really wasn't a lot of room for character development for each and every character in the series. A lot of it was dedicated to the central character, Iku Kasahara, a somewhat earnest and idealistic young lady who possesses a strong sense of justice and vehemently opposes censorship [well at least as far as books are concerned]. She starts out with very romantic notions of how the war against censorship was being fought, that all she had to do was flash a badge and people will back off and respect her. We learn along with her that there is way more to it than that, that the battles against censorship are quite literally battles and sometimes your life is at stake. This to me makes her character and the story itself very interesting since this isn't about some hotshot know-it-all, there is some actual self-discovery involved.
We also learn that there's a lot more to Mr. Cool-Calm & Perfect, Hikaru Tezuka, who does give Iku a hard time in the beginning but all isn't as it seems [I won't go into it beyond that] and he does eventually warm up to Iku.
Instructor Dojo is probably my favourite character maybe because he starts out very angry and hostile but then you realise that most of it is really superficial, that he really is nice and that he really cares for Iku. He's short which I found very funny because his voice [and his stern face] makes him seem so much larger than his actual height. Also because of the way he's drawn, his frame being thicker than Iku and his waist being lower than hers. He was pretty much drawn with the same head size and upper body proportion as Hikaru and Mikihisa but his waist fell below the screen border which gave the appearance like maybe he was walking around on his knees or something. But I guess that it was meant to be ironic that he was that short.
Overall each character, no matter how small the role, had some sort of depth or at the very least some credibility to them; from the good natured, always smiling Mikihisa to the beautiful and very intelligent Asako. There was not a character I didn't like, not even Satoshi, but I do think we weren't given the opportunity to like or dislike Satoshi because that character wasn't explored enough...I really do wish this was a 26 episode anime.
Without a doubt this should have had a second season and gone up to 26 or even 52 episodes! This type of inventive anime is now a dying breed and a must see for those of us that appreciate original and creative stories. I do think the ending was somewhat rushed with some loose ends still hanging, nonetheless I was still impressed by the lovely art and animation and the originality and intelligence of the story. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
Hhmmm, the art....,I wouldn't say it was terrible, but for a 2006-2007 title, I'm pretty much underwhelmed. Barring the character designs, which were lovely, there is absolutely nothing interesting about the art. The backdrops were generic, the sceneries were boring...actually anything that went beyond the characters was boring and inconsequential. Oh and be prepared for lots and LOTS of still shots like when the characters are playing their instruments, a lot of the time you'll just see still shots of them holding their instrument of choice with some serene look on their face. It doesn't happen all the time, some of the animation is nice [it's nice to see the fingers moving on the strings] but the static images do appear very frequently. And I feel, the topic of classical music is already boring enough as it is, they could have at least put some proper effort into the animation. Also expect to see the same audience for ALL FOUR concerts, there is a lot of recycling of stock images.
Not much I can say about the music either, since I'm not a fan of classical music...I might have a vague interest in Baroque and some piano works but that's as far as it goes for me. I'm sure it's all lovely but it did nothing for me. Which if anything made me like the anime even less, but before you jump down my throat and say stuff like “then why did you pick an anime about classical music if you don't like classical music???” But like I said, from my own experience, anime titles in the past have taken topics I've had zero to little interest in and made them fascinating. I hate sports, but liked Wild Striker, Prince of Tennis and totally LOVED Big Windup! I hate Westerns but loved Gun Frontier, I hate talking animals and god knows how many of those are in anime? So I expected an interesting [if at the very least informative] story about classical music, but there was none of that, so I'm still pretty much an outsider when it comes to classical music.
I also have mixed feelings for the intro song “Brand New Breeze” part of me likes it but the other part of me think it sounds a little bit too much like a commercial for some kind of laundry detergent or feminine product....[just keeping it real, sorry]
Story....hhhhmmmm, one word: ABYSMAL! OK so the story is about a girl who was magically chosen [for some reason or another, which is irrelevant since it's only some thinly veiled premise to get her surrounded by a bunch of hot guys] to participate in some sort of classical music playoff. But the contest is not the central theme, the actual theme is music appreciation and each character's relation to it...which, yes, may sound deep but none of this came across to the viewer. There was nothing that really drew me into being interested in classical music like I felt when I watched a baseball game with Big Windup, for example. There's no humour, there's no romance to speak of, they didn't even get into the technical aspects of classical music. In Hikaru no Go, they made moving those little game pieces on a board seem so exciting and dramatic and they also informed me about how the game of GO is played and even certain strategies and tactics. There is none of that in this series, except maybe if you want to count the fairy at the end talking about Bach and Beethoven, which I don't.
This series seriously spent the better part of 24 episodes to talk about how each of them loved music or played their music [which to be honest sounded just a little more than pretentious “Ah this sonatta is so brilliant and the strings are so vibrant and so transparent”....yeah bull***t] There’s nothing else to this anime besides this and maybe some minor romantic innuendo [FAIL]. It's only after episode 20 when all the B.S. goes away, such as the magic violin and all that reverse harem kitsch that she, Kahoko, has to really deal with the fact of being a such novice violinist does the show even have any sort of merit.
So Like I said before, the character designs were lovely. I can't really complain there! And to be honest, that's the only real selling point of this series: very nice character designs and a lot of time spent on character development. That being said, it's not like we're going to discover anything new with these characters, they all pretty much follow the typical anime character templates: The Femme/Bishie Heartthrob, The Sporty one, The Angelic/Loli one, The Loud Comic one, The Posh/Stuck-up one, The Glasses one, etc... It's all pretty much colour-by-number, isn't it?
My Verdict: The cast is PRETTY, but the show's BORING so overall it's "pretty boring"....get it? Hey, gotta do something to entertain myself cuz god knows this anime ain't doing it for me. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
Nothing new with the art and animation. Everything is as it should be....for the most part. Everything is drawn nicely, lot's of CG used for the dragons and the fight scenes. I dunno. I know we are in a new era with animation but I just would rather be WOW'ed with regular 2D animation which I know the Japanese are VERY good at this anyway. CG is like the “auto-tune” of the animation world. They care so much more about the CG fight scenes than they cared about the human combat scenes...and it certainly showed. The human figures looked rushed, they were all kinds of stretched and distorted looking when they were fighting.
I loved the music of this series, especially the two ending songs and I think it fits the series just fine. I watched the series in English dub. They did a fine job....no complaints there.
Let's talk about the romantic elements of the story first since that's what this series is primarily about. I find it very irritating [not to mention unbelievable] this relationship between Toa and Jin. Within like, the first 2 episodes Toa goes out of her way to find this guy, Jin. She's rescues him a couple of times and in the next instant they're holding hands and sucking face. And all this while, no reason has been given as to WHY she's pursuing him.......OK fine, the viewer is just kinda forced to go along with this for a couple of episodes but then she suddenly flips the script and she hauls ass. WTF? Suddenly they “just can't be together” even though just a while ago they were holding hands, sucking face and swearing not to part with each other? That whole relationship is a sham! It's absolutely ludicrous to think two people are just going to fall so deeply for each other without knowing absolutely ZILCH about each other. But not only do they know nothing about each other....the viewer is in the dark as well, except to know that Jin is in some kind of depression over his family's death and she's a dragon. Yet we are to believe these two love each other? On what basis? Where is the commonality? Where is the explanation?
But the romance between Jin and Toa isn't the only spontaneous element in this series, most everything seems simply brought about by the seemingly arbitrary emotions from one character or another. Some seem to love for no reason while others want to hate and destroy for no [or for some very flimsy] reason. Why was Asim so devious as he was or why Baumgarde is so bitchy as she was except to perhaps keep the story going? Same for poor Kazuki, whom everyone basically ignores, even his supposed best friend....but how does that turn you into a homicidal maniac? You don't need a psychology degree to know personalities can't just do a 180 like that, you either had those feelings lying dormant in your psyche or you've experienced some SERIOUS TRAUMA to make you flip a switch like that, I'm talking stuff like rape, child abuse, watching a friend or loved one get killed in front of you. Not just cuz your supposed best-friend left your hi-5 hanging in the air like a dork or cuz he took your very hot-looking boyfriend [um….I meant “dragon”] that you keep obsessing over.
To me it's quite apparent the story is heavily reliant on emotions: obviously the emotions from the characters but also the [expected] emotions from the viewer. Another such example of how this series relied heavily on an emotional response from viewers is how they constantly held off on the explanations with the hopes of a big payoff with all these great big revelations near the ending. Which in my opinion backfired, I think more people would have enjoyed this series if they had weeded out some of these transparent plot devices, emotional tactics and surprise revelations and actually worked on developing the characters a bit more, they might have appeared more credible and then we would have genuinely been more emotionally attached to them.
Yes, the characters are attractive! All of them have nice fit bodies....even the old people which made me wonder if the artist was even capable of drawing any other body-type, like fat people. Not that I'm complaining too much, they made sure they catered to everyone. Whether you're into males or females, fair-skinned or deep tanned, flat-chested to A-Cup to M-[as in mutant freak]-Cup breasts, from the subservient to the bitchy loli-types, and of course my favorite...the bishies. Yes, they made sure to cover a wide range of fetishes very likely to appeal to a wide range of people and get a large fanbase. But mixing all of these character types together doesn't gaurantee you'll draw a lot of viewers or that the show will be successful. Actually it's likely to have the opposite effect because certain characters correspond to certain specific genres of anime and if you take them out of that context or try to mix sub-genres of anime you'll wind up with a clusterfuck....as is the case here.
You have characters that take themselves and the situation they're in quite seriously but yet we have large breasts bouncing everywhere so it's sexy moment and not so serious anymore but then we've also got light-hearted slapstick people in the mix...so now it's a comedic moment and maybe sexy too but not serious anymore? None of which I took seriously anyway because I dunno too many people that handle crises by going to a hot spa and I eventhough it's an anime I still expect soldiers to look the part....especially military officials, that one chic who's supposed to be a “MAJOR” looked more like a pornstar and pole-dancer in my opinion. Hard for me to take you as a serious military killing machine with your ass in a g-string and thigh-high hooker boots.
So my verdict is: lots of eye-candy, nice looking characters but the story itself is unoriginal and irregularly paced. Way too many random and haphazard emotions running amok....and the finale was tremendously anticlimactic.....but again, the character are very hot!
13 of 13 episodes seen
The art and animation, in relation to the time it was created which is about 10 years ago, isn't that bad. It's was actually very interesting. I'd even say kinda novel....kinda. It's not the type of art or animation that draws you in or tries to make the you, the viewer a part of the experience. No, they definitely wanted the viewer to be behind that 4th wall looking in, as if reading a comic book. I would even go as far as to say this series was more like an “animated comic book” than it was just a standard anime. The outlines were HEAVILY inked, everything appeared cartoonish [yes I know an anime by definition is a cartoon] but what I mean is that the art was not drawn with “realism” as an objective, the art appeared a lot more farcical than you average anime. Even when things appeared to have dimension, it only looked like the placed a cardboard cut-out of a [flat] character in front of a painted cardboard [flat] backdrop. It's not totally original, but it's not a totally played out effect either.
I loved the music of the series, both the OP and ED have songs that I would listen to on a causal basis. My gripe about the music is that it totally doesn't fit the series, at all. That OP song belongs in a much more contemporary anime, still shonen, but has some comedy. Maybe something more along the lines of Full Metal Panic perhaps. The ending song was definitely shojo or what's the term for the more mature female viewers? All I can think of is NANA when I hear it. Neither one of these songs have anything to do with a dusty western parody anime with vulgar language and nudity.
I watched the series in English dub, the big draw for me of course was Steven Blum [Spike Spiegel], everyone else was OK too.
However whenever I think of the story aspect of it, I get pissed off because it's effing INCOMPLETE! I hate incomplete shows, cliffhangers, open-enders or whatever you wanna call it. Again, I'm not going to say how it ends, you can see that for yourself and maybe stuff like this doesn't affect everyone but it's definitely one of my pet peeves. Which is a shame because it really wasn't bad storyline; the idea of searching for Japanese people in the old west or for Oriental treasure was a good idea. I loved how this series tried to take on heavy topics like ignorance, racism and sexism....with humor, albeit a very cynical type of humor.
A lot could be said about the character depictions in this show and maybe it can shed some light at to why anime characters look more like Caucasians than Asians. People can disagree as many times as they want, but in this series, Harlock is confirmed to not be Asian. And tho the name Shinunora, implies she might be Asian but it's proven later on that she is not. She's actually European. And everyone is just flabbergasted that Tochiro has such a “good-looking” sister [Who's drawn the same way as Shinunora and all the other white people. So it's pretty easy to conclude that anyone tall and good-looking isn't perceived as Asian at all but if they are, then they generally pass as “White” which in reality, is hardly possible.....So do the Japanese think of themselves as white or is there some identity crisis or self-loathing going on there? That's kinda all I was getting from looking at these characters...that, and perhaps the fact that Shinunora is ALWAYS naked [which I found very funny] and Tochiro is always loud and annoying [which is not common Japanese behavior].
But ultimately, my verdict is no verdict beyond, meh! It's incomplete! read more