Aug 31, 2008SSJMaster vs. Xinil - A story of epic battles! Sea... (Anime) add
25 of 9001 episodes seen
The plot tends to switch between stretches of seriousness and levity: the first two episodes deal with Hazuki meeting Kohei and escaping the castle, then settling into a silly daily routine before dealing with more villains a few episodes later. The story has some difficulty balancing character and relationship developments with plot progression unless it separates such things into different episodes. Perhaps this is why, despite several of the tragedies that various characters suffer, there is little emotional draw to them. Also, as with many adaptations of unfinished manga, a number of plot threads are left untied with the series conclusion, although the series does conclude solidly enough.
The cast are entertaining, although some people may find a number of the younger females straddle the line between adorable and irritating. Hazuki starts off as a stubborn and slightly spoiled little girl, but grows into more of a kinder, caring person over the course of the series. Kohei is the typical kind-hearted and honest but unimpressive boy with an unusual ability/curse that you've seen in so many other series. The supporting cast brings a bit of liveliness to the show. Haiji brings a bit of humor as Hazuki's cat-like pet, frequently scolding her master's servant Kohei. Seiji brings a bit of class as the cool-looking and talented relative of Kohei. The best characters, though, are probably Ryuhei and Elfriede, who regularly tease the lead characters, but also connect to each other on a deeper level and share some of the most tender moments in the series.
One can't really talk about Moon Phase without mentioning it's stylistic quirks. As with pretty much any work directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, one should expect interesting and different uses of light and color in many scenes throughout. The typical depiction of the house were much of the story occurs is also diplayed much like a dollhouse, opened up so as to see in all the rooms at once. Also, infamously, yellow washpans are known to come crashing down on various characters for comedic effect.
Designs for the characters are crisp, and backgrounds are appropriately detailed. Action scenes may not be breath-taking, but they are more than adequate for the task they mean to achieve. While the initial television episodes did have a few problems during important scenes, these were all rectified in the DVD release.
Voice work for both languages is well done, although Monica Rial can't quite match the level of cuteness that Chiwa Saito attained playing Hazuki (a minor issue). Background music for the episodes is chosen appropriately for the scene, although it is at times a little overbearing. The dark scenes are supported by haunting and gothic-sounding tones, while the cheery moments are punctuated by spunky and playful tunes. The most catchy song (for good or bad) is absolutely the opening theme, "Neko Mimi Mode De". It's particularly surprising when it drastically interrupts the gloomy introductory scene of the first episode with it's bubbly, sugary tune, simplistic lyrics, and bright colors. The song is devastatingly appropriate for the show. A couple of episodes have an alternate opening song, "Tsukuyomi Mode", that is less syrupy and not so overly energetic, but similar. The closer, on the other hand, is slightly melancholy and more subdued, but leaves little lasting impression.
Moon Phase sets out to be a vampire series built around the concept of "moe", and it largely succeeds. At times, it tries to be something a little more, and it is less definitive in its achievement when attempting this, but rarely strays far from its strength. In all, the series is an entertaining diversion for those looking for something just a little different. read more
Aug 27, 2008SSJMaster vs. Xinil - A story of epic battles! Sea... (Anime) add
26 of 9001 episodes seen
Many fans laud the anime for originality because it features a harem surrounding a preteen teacher who happens to be a wizard. However, the magical aspect is used only infrequently, as are the child-teacher jokes. The preteen harem lead aspect is used fairly often, but is of limited improvement over the typical spineless loser harem lead.
Negima's most obvious problem is the visual. The art is unpleasing, and the animation is lackluster. For all the vibrant colors, the characters look flat and lack dynamic. The action scenes are done so lazily, such as Negi's battle with Eva in episode 8, that they are almost painful to watch. The quality was so bad that Xebec had to change the entire animation team about halfway through the series and reanimated the earlier episodes for DVD release. While this was an improvement, it is akin to stating that dog food tastes better than chalk; much of the series only matches the quality of shows ten years older. Also, while generally a rainbow of hair colors is common to distinguish characters who look similar among a large cast, how many other series make fun of that point in the actual dub.
The dub cast was not really a strong point of the show either. While there weren't any bad performances, unless you couldn't stand Greg Ayres attempt to speak in a pitch several octaves above normal to play Negi, the number of characters required several actresses to play multiple roles. This in itself is not exactly a problem, except that in many cases the drastic efforts they made to sound distinctly different did not match the character. The Japanese audio track would be preferable, except that the English script took liberties with the dialogue that made the series if not interesting, more tolerable.
The music - background, OP, ED, all of it - was like audio cotton candy: light, fluffy, and sugary. A perfect, borderline obnoxious, match for the visual pallet of the series.
I've mentioned before that the cast of the show is rather large, and that is another of its failings. It is unreasonable to assume that over 30 characters could be properly fleshed out and given interesting backgrounds, but the anime was unwilling to concede screen time from the ensemble to allow individual characters to be given their 15 minutes of fame. Ayaka's story, for instance, had potential to be touching and personal, but the animators felt compelled to include the generic madcap hijinx of the rest of class 3-A. Such an inclusion did nothing to expand the personalities of any other characters, as the only character-specific goofy antics were based around the one-dimensional stereotypes the girls were slotted into. Seeing a robot go on an accidental rampage because someone pushed the wrong button is barely amusing the first time it happens, but in Negima it serves to undermine the nature of the character because lazy writers can only think in cliches.
Much of the series lacks an ongoing narrative. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, but that few of the episodes are truly amusing or interesting. To make matters worse, the drastic rearrangement of the chronology of events adapted from the manga to the anime eliminates significant plot arcs and, at least once, undermines character growth. For example, in the manga, the dodgeball arc was Negi's first real trial as a teacher, requiring him to demonstrate leadership and competence. In the anime, this is placed after the vampire arc, in which Negi had to muster his courage and work with some of his students to defeat a powerful opponent, thus reducing its importance to filler material.
The closing arc of the anime, an original plot line, was well enough done that it evoked genuine emotion, but unfortunately created a number of plot holes and required a deus ex machina to complete.
The one truly bright spot of the series was episode 19. Interestingly, the best episode of this harem comedy romp is an episode that features very little of the harem, and almost no comedy. Also, the episode is not adapted from a corresponding manga chapter, demonstrating that the writers were capable of creativity, and the series could have benefited greatly had they attempted to use it more often (like in parts of the last four episodes). The story revolves around Sayo, the ghost girl that nobody notices, and how the class reporter looks into the circumstances of her death. The tale is tender and tearful, and it manages this by following only two characters and resisting the urge to cheapen the plot with the silly games of the rest.
Negima has its shining moments, but they are few and far between. If you're looking for an accurate adaptation of the manga, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you're looking for a harem comedy, there are better out there. read more
Aug 25, 2008SSJMaster vs. Xinil - A story of epic battles! Sea... (Anime) add
24 of 9001 episodes seen
A person's enjoyment of Burst Angel depends on what one thinks of girls in revealing clothing fighting freakish monsters with glowing brains and rampaging giant robots. If such things are to your liking, the series will surely please. However, if you don't appreciate the presence of such elements in your anime, there is little reason to watch.
The characters of Burst Angel don't bring any creative or new traits with them, but they fill their roles well. Jo, the main character, is the tough-as-nails gunfighter who is loyal to those who earn her respect and has a special soft spot for Meg. Meg is Jo's longtime partner who, while not completely useless, spends much of the series kidnapped and used as bait. Amy is the whiz kid hacker. Sei (whose middle name is Elizabeth, thus making the reference to Little Women complete) is the leader of the group, and sometimes clashes with Jo by prioritizing the mission over rescuing Meg. Finally, Kyohei is the fish-out-of-water whom the girls hire as a cook, but is often dragged along on missions because of unfortunate coincidences.
The characters don't have much depth and are fairly static, although there are a couple of episodes that provide a slightly broader glimpse of their personalities. Individually, some of the characters can be a little irritating, but their interactions generally make up for these shortcomings. Also, they are assisted by the typically fun and quirky supporting cast that appear frequently.
The plot is not Burst Angel's strong point. The overarching story regarding RAPT and the conspiracy involving the monsters with glowing brains hold the shorter plot arcs together only loosely for much of the story. Events tie together a little more tightly in the second half as the series comes to a close. The story is somewhat typical, although entertaining enough if one likes the characters. The individual arcs, usually one to three episodes long, and break from a standard format before events get too repetitive. The series tries to not take itself too seriously (especially notable in the dub), but some of the later episodes are played pretty straight. They don't do a bad job of it, but you've probably seen most of it before done better.
Visually, the series is quite good. Character designs are appropriately pleasing or unsettling, depending on the subject. The female characters' breast size does fluctuate, most notably in the beach resort episode, but that (and the rather unrealistic proportions of Meg and Sei) is probably the art's greatest flaw. The 3D and 2D images blend together very well, which can be a difficult task for some shows. Action scenes are well done, but not stunning, and the rest of the animation is of good quality as well.
Both English and Japanese language tracks are competently acted. Kyohei's voice can be a little whiny in both languages, but this fits the character. Fortunately, Amy's voice was not done in the high pitched screech typically found among young girls in anime. The deeper tone used for Jo's voice is a little different from what one usually hears for female characters, but works well.
While the ED is utterly forgettable, the OP is quite lively and somewhat unique. The background music works well and matches the mood of the western genre.
In all, Burst Angel is a fun action romp that delivers shoot outs, explosions, and pretty girls, but looking for much more than that may leave you disappointed. read more